Poems By Natasha Threthewey and Robert Frost


Joanna Goddard from "A CUP OF JO" has been doing a charming series for her blog, which she titled, "Fall Challenge" and this week, she's asking her avid followers to memorize a poem by next Thursday. Off course, I've decided to join her little duel, opting to memorize "Southern Pastoral" by Pulitzer prize-winning American poet Natasha Threthewey -- who was appointed the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress in 2012.

I remember analyzing her poems in college from her critically acclaimed poetry book Native Guard and being moved by her unique ability to delve into racial issues. I'm so excited to start this mini-project. Wonderful idea, Joanna.

In the meantime, I'd like to share with you "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, a poem I couldn't forget even if I tried because I heard it so many times while growing up.

Enjoy my darlings.


Rare Photographs Of Sophia Loren From The 60's

Born Sofia Villani Scicolone in Rome, Italy, Sophia Loren embodies the voluptuous sex pot but most would be surprised to learn that until the age of 14, the Italian beauty was considered to be an ugly duckling, bearing the names, "Toothpick" and "Stick" throughout her childhood.
Loren attributes her sultry figure to a popular Italian dish, musing, "everything you see I owe to spaghetti." As for her unconventional features, she is thankful to her dear mother, Romilda Villani. "I'am lucky" Loren says when asked about her ageless beauty, "I had a very beautiful mother." 
The photographs below were taken by her close friend and LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt's, circa 1961.


Earthy And Savory Autumn Meals

Fennel, Sunchoke, and Apple Salad
·         ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         2 tbsp. rice vinegar
·         2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
·         2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
·         2 tbsp. chopped fennel fronds
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
·         8 radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
·         6 sunchokes, peeled and very thinly sliced
·         2 gala or fuji apples, cored and very thinly sliced
·         2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and very thinly sliced

1. In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, lemon juice, chives, and fennel fronds to make a smooth vinaigrette. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Add radishes, sunchokes, apples, and fennel. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day, to allow the flavors to come together. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce
·         1⁄4 cup sugar
·         1⁄4 cup maple syrup
·         4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
·         2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
·         1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
·         6 firm Fuji apples, stemmed and cored
·         Ice cream, for serving 
·         1 1⁄2 cups sugar
·         1⁄3 cup heavy cream
·         1⁄2 cup raisins
·         2 tbsp. dark rum

1. Make the baked apples: Heat oven to 325°. Combine sugar, syrup, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Cut 1⁄4″ from bottom of apples so that they sit flat; transfer apples to a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Fill hollow cores with reserved sugar–syrup mixture. Cover apples with foil; bake until tender, about 50 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce: Heat sugar and 1⁄2 cup water in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until amber colored and a candy thermometer inserted into syrup reads 330˚, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let cool slightly. Add cream (caramel will bubble up slightly). Stir in raisins and rum; set aside. Serve apples with caramel sauce and ice cream.
Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Curry Leaves
2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
1⁄4 cup Indian chickpea flour
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1–2 tsp. hot paprika
1⁄8 tsp. asafetida
1 1⁄2 tbsp. tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp. finely chopped jaggery
or packed brown sugar
2 15-oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
1. Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin and curry leaves; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, turmeric, paprika, and asafetida and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Stir in 2 3⁄4 cups water; bring to a boil. Stir in tamarind and jaggery; stir to dissolve.

2. Add black-eyed peas, season with salt; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until thickened, 3–5 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Salata Adas (Garlicky Lentil Salad)
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste


1. Bring lentils and 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in an 8'' skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft, 7–8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in remaining oil, lemon juice, cumin, and allspice. Pour the garlic mixture over lentils. Add parsley and mint and season the lentils with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve lentils at room temperature.

Winter Squash and Apple Soup

 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
2 acorn squash (about 1¾ lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into ½″ cubes
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into ½″ cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 cup canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. dried mint
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. paprika

1. Heat olive oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add onion, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add turmeric, five-spice powder, squash, apples, and salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a boil; cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until squash and apple are tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup and then return it to saucepan. Stir in the lime juice and keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°; add mushrooms, and fry until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to paper towels to drain; set aside and reserve oil for another use. Wipe saucepan clean and add butter, mint, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper; heat over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until melted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls; drizzle each bowl with some of the spiced mint butter and top with some of the fried mushrooms.

Parmesan Polenta with Eggs and Roasted Mushrooms


1 lb mushrooms
1/8 c olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 c polenta
1 c milk
1 c water
pinch salt
1/2 c shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 eggs
chives for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475.
2. Chop mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. Toss mushrooms with oil, pepper flakes, and salt on a baking sheet.
4. Spread in single layer and roast until browned, about 10 mins.
5. Meanwhile, whisk polenta, milk, water, and salt together in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, covered.
6. After reaching a boil, turn heat to low and let sit with lid cracked for 15 minutes.
7. While polenta is cooking, heat nonstick skillet over medium heat and crack the eggs so that they are sunny side up.
8. Cook about a minute and then add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet. Water will sizzle - cover so the yolks steam and set to your liking. I like mine somewhat viscous so I wait for the steamed yolks to 'skin' over with egg white. This will happen naturally with the method above.
9. Mix Parmesean into polenta, plate on a dish, spoon mushrooms over and top with egg. Garnish with snipped chives. Eat and enjoy!
Pictures and Recipes from Saveur
Southern-Style Macaroni and Cheese
1 1⁄2    tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

8 oz. hollow pasta, preferably elbow macaroni

Butter, for greasing

7 oz. extra-sharp cheddar, cut into 1⁄2" cubes

(about 1 1⁄2 cups), plus 6 oz. grated (about 2 cups)

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. flour

1 1⁄2    tsp. dry mustard

1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper

2⁄3 cup sour cream

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1⁄2 cups half-and-half

1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream

1⁄3 cup grated onion

1 tsp. Worcestershire

1. Heat oven to 350°. Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until cooked halfway through, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a greased 9" x 13" baking dish. Stir in the cubed cheddar cheese and set aside.
2. Combine 1 1⁄2 tsp. salt, flour, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Add the sour cream and the eggs and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, heavy cream, onions, and Worcestershire. Pour egg mixture over the reserved pasta mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the surface. Bake until the pasta mixture is set around the edges but still a bit loose in the center, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.



Fall is in the air. Since the Autumnal Equinox, each day has gotten colder than the next, the leaves are beginning to lose their green pigments, revealing vivid patches of banana yellows, ochres and crimsons -- which oddly invokes visions of me plunging into a colorful pile of raked leaves as if I'm a part of a Lifetime TV movie. But, I digress.

I suddenly don't miss the warmth of summer anymore but yearn for woolly sweaters, plush cable-knit scarves and toasty shearling boots.

I even crave big succulent apples but not the ones that have travelled thousands of miles on the back of a pick-up truck to land at my local supermarket. Like a country maiden, I want to lug a bushel of Granny Smith's bests from a local grower.

Most importantly, I look forward to the first frost of the season. Imagine waking up in the morning, cracking open a window and seeing a sea of crystallized leaves. Oh, Autumn is simply magical.

What's your favorite season?


Scotch Eggs At The 'Toucan and the Lion'

What can I say? I love me a runny egg.

"The Toucan and the Lion" restaurant, which opened last December, in the East Village, offers a soft boiled scotch egg, sprinkled with five-spice, which is then enveloped with duck-sausage, rolled in panko, deep-fried, then nestled atop of kaffir-lime aioli. Yum.

That's one more dish on my culinary to-do list.

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