whatever you believe

grain-free cinnamon rolls

You might be baking tonight. Tomorrow. Maybe even the morning of the 25th.

(Of course, you don’t need to celebrate Christmas to bake on the 25th.)

And you might want some cinnamon rolls.

We made you some grain-free cinnamon rolls. Head on over to Food52 to see the recipe.

grain-free Russian tea cookies

Also, there are grain-free Russian tea cakes. They also happen to be dairy-free too.. You can find the recipe for those here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to wrap some books for Lu. Every morning this month, she has woken up earlier and earlier, happily chattering and dashing into our room to shake us awake and tell us her stories. We race down the stairs to write the day’s date on our homemade advent calendar together and read books much of the morning. These have been some lovely days. It seems that five is the perfect age for this season. Given that, she’ll be up at 5:30 tomorrow morning. Probably 4:30 on the 25th. So I’m headed for bed.

I’ll be back on Friday with my favorite books of 2013. Whatever you believe, whomever you love, have a wonderful few days.

slowly, lightly

finished scones

As I sit down to write, it’s nearly 9 pm. Outside, it feels like bright daylight. These days, these almost-summer days of light until late and light early in the morning —— they feel like a happy fugue state suffused with sunlight. We’re moving through the days slowly, lightly, not clinging to anything. Lucy’s doing a lot of dancing on the back deck. This June, for the first time in years, we are living what feels like the loveliest words: “70 degrees and sunny.” Usually here, we have to wait until after the 4th of July to truly say it’s summer.

Danny has been cooking up a storm, humming in the kitchen. He made beet chips today, along with an eggplant chutney with fennel and turmeric, a simmered tomato sauce for Lu’s pasta at lunch tomorrow, pickled carrots and radishes, and a green cilantro-listen-to-the back-of-my-mouth-sing marinade for prawns, which he threw on the grill. We’ll probably post them all here, over the next few weeks. Lately, we feel like playing even more than usual.

I have to tell you about our trip to Italy with Jovial, about our time in the Cinque Terre eating farinata with friends on the top of a long set of steps in the sunlight. And the trip to the produce market where the borlotti beans were speckled red and so bright they hurt the eyes. I still think of the view from the top of the hill in Barga. And of course, there was prosciutto, stuffed quail, gluten-free pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven, fresh pecorino made in Garfagna, and prosecco. And laughter. And so much cooking. I’ll start telling you stories in a day or so.

But for now, the kitchen is clean, the kiddo is asleep, and I want to share some of what we have been reading on these long summer days.

Lucy has always been a fan of the Knuffle Bunny books, some of the funniest and sweetest children’s books I’ve ever read. Lately, she has asked me to read her Knuffle Bunny Free many times a day. The ending of that book always makes me cry, especially now, with Lu turning 5 next month. (5?!)

I might be the last person to finally buy Brené Brown’s beautiful book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I’ve adored Brené and her work for years, so I’m not sure how this slipped into my Kindle list only now. Oh goodness. It’s such a great book to be reading as I’m preparing to turn 47 in 6 weeks. (47?!)

The Theodore Roosevelt quote that Brené Brown cited in her book has been rattling around in my mind for weeks: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs.… [And] if he fails, at least fails while Daring Greatly.” (You can read Brené’s interview with Oprah here.)

I loved this piece in the Modern Love column in The New York Times about a man having to tell his mother to stop cooking for him so often, now that he’s married.

One of my favorite writers of all time, Colum McCann, talks about his writing life —— he sits in a tiny office that used to be a closet, to seal off all distractions —— and the powerful phrase, radical empathy. Yes.

Brace yourself for this one. But you must read this haunting, restrained piece about Newtown parents trying to hold on and live after losing their 7-year-old. Please read it. Please.

Finally, this is less reading and more listening. Go to this site to hear acoustic versions of The Beatles’ White Album. I’ve been listening all week, enthralled.

In a bit of news we’d like to share with you, Danny and I have begun writing a gluten-free column for one of our favorite food websites, Food52. Would you like to make these gluten-free rhubarb scones you see up there? Here’s the recipe.


The light is gathering into dimness outside. I’m closing up the laptop now.