Vineyard Tales

I have many happy memories from growing up on a grape farm. Every fall when the grapes were ripe, I would race out to the vineyards after school. The weather was still sunny, but you could feel autumn coming in the crisp breeze that rustled the milkweed and wild sumac. My mother and aunts would be picking grapes, methodically working their way down the rows, clipping bunches and dropping them into old wooden beer crates. They pulled the crates along […]


Receiving Lines at Weddings

While a receiving line is usually only seen at a wedding or engagement party, we rarely had an event at the White House without one. A receiving line consists of the host and hostess – and a guest of honor if there is one – standing at the entrance to the party to greet the guests. Since the invention of the camera, the receiving line at the White House has taken on Cosmic Significance. A photo with the President is […]


Spatchcock Chicken with Grapes and Pine Nuts

Back in 2013 when I first saw the word “spatchcock,” I assumed it was some kinky thing I’d have to look up in the Urban Dictionary and then be sorry that I had. As it turns out, spatchcocking, said to derive from the term “dispatch the cock,” is an 18th century English or Irish word, and refers to a method of cooking a chicken by removing the backbone and flattening it. The chicken cooks more quickly, and all of the […]


Pear Clafoutis

Some recipes bear repeating, and this one from 2014 for pear clafoutis is so beautiful that it looks as if it belongs in a Dutch still life, with those ethereal-looking Bosc pears poking out of rich, golden custard. Emerson once said “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” and that’s the key to this recipe. You either need to buy perfectly ripe pears, or have the patience to wait until […]