Blackberry and apple upside down cake with whipped cream

Blackberry and Apple Upside Down Cake

Today is Beatrix Potter’s birthday, and in her honor I’m passing along her recipe for blackberry-apple upside down cake.  It’s just the sort of homey pudding (to use the English word for it) that you could imagine the beloved author and illustrator serving with tea at her Hill Top farm. As a child I always loved the stories of Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, Squirrel Nutkin, and the dangerous Mr. Tod, as did my own children.   Later I came to admire […]


Approaching the Glass

My first few weeks as White House Social Secretary were pretty overwhelming.  It wasn’t simply that there were so many people to meet and things to learn; there were events almost every day, and the next day, and the next week, and the next month.   It was like jumping onto a racing treadmill, catching the pace, and then speeding up as fast as the machine would go.  And, of course, there is the WH way of doing things: after decades […]

Salad with lamb and figs

Ottolenghi Lamb and Fig Salad

My husband really hates to exercise.  In fact, he prefers not to break a sweat under any circumstances, and if possible, to avoid exercising outdoors at all times.  If I can persuade him to take a walk with me, we have a negotiation over the route: he will walk if we stay on the sidewalks, but if I suggest we go through the woods in Dumbarton Oaks Park, he’s out.  These are the minor quirks of a long-married couple, but […]



“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” – Thoreau There’s nothing better for the spirit than a strong dose of fresh air and sunshine, a leafy hillside with moss-covered trails to walk upon, and a friend with whom to share the path.   The pleasures of Vermont are simple, serene, homey, and historic – one of the few places I’ve visited that caused me to think, “I could live here.” Recently, my husband and I stayed at […]

White macarons on colorful dish


Today is Bastille Day, La Fete Nationale of France. What could be a more appropriate moment to learn how to make a proper macaron?  I’m delighted to offer a recipe from no less an authority than Chef Christophe Tanneau, executive chef of the French Embassy here in Washington. Chef Tanneau turns out exquisite French cuisine every day for those who enjoy the generous hospitality of His Excellency, Ambassador Francois Delattre, and Madame Sophie L’Helias.  Sophie and Francois are quintessentially accomplished […]