Live at the witching hour

It's long been called the witching hour--that space of time between afternoon naps and a meal on the table. I threw all caution to the wind a couple weeks ago and decided to broadcast live from my kitchen on Periscope for just a few minutes of the witching hour. Nearly every day.

Last summer was a tough one. And when I contemplated all the things I wanted to change or do or hope or pray (because I'm off the chart INFJ), I mostly just wanted to reclaim dinner. I wanted wholesome, thoughtful meals. I wanted everyone in his seat at the table. (They always sit in the same place and it matters to me.) I wanted conversation and laughter and us. Really, I mostly wanted us. 

So I read Dinner: A Love Story and Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal for inspiration. And I was inspired. I was inspired by the enthusiasm the author has for family meals. I was inspired by her candor when she acknowledges how evasive those dinnertimes can be. And, really, I was inspired by her recipes, even though I consider myself a pretty accomplished family cook. 

I promised my family we'd eat a home cooked meal every night in September. then, I went all crazy and promised an unknown number of people that I'd pop into Periscope while cooking said dinner every day and let you know what we were up to. Further, I'd do with my kids on camera, since they were critical to dinner prep. I'm totally shy. I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea.

But it's been fun. We've had dinner at the table every night that we've been in town. And i've been on periscope several of those nights. I haven't even tried to 'scope with weekend nights and a couple of weeknights, it was either cook dinner and eat or periscope about it. But I couldn't swing both. Usually people Periscope selfie-style. But since I'm cooking on mine, I need a video guy. And he has a life, too, so, sometimes it just didn't happen. 

But mostly it did. And we'll continue at least through Setpember. You can find me on Periscope @elizabethfoss. I'll try to get better about tweeting and posting to Facebook when I know what time we'll be live. I've learned it is ridiculous to commit to a set time every day, because life just happens. But I will try harder to give some advance notice. I'm also going to work on a way to be more interactive. With Nick behind the camera, I'm not responding to questions and comments as much as I'd like. We're working on that. 

If you missed some of the earlier ones, you can catch all but the first few at . Live ones stay live on Periscope for 24 hours.

As promised, here are notes for the ones that are archived. If you haven't watched any of them yet, I'd actually start with this one.

Watch: Marinara Sauce and Memories

Marinara recipe is in Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal. (page 64)

My Aunt Lisette's recipe is:

Saute 7-10 cloves of fresh garlic in Extra Virgin Olive Oil until not quite golden. (It's important never to brown the garlic.) Add two cans of imported whole tomatoes or preferably fresh peeled tomatoes (a must in the summer when they are abundant). Just mash them slightly with a fork as this sauce should be chunky. Add seasoning: salt, pepper, and of course lots of fresh chopped basil. Simmer uncovered for only 25 minutes. 


Watch Little Ones at the Table

Baked Potato Bar Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal. (page 92)

Minestrone Soup is here on the Dinner: A Love Story blog.


Watch Grace in the Kitchen

Chicken with Artichokes in Creamy Mustard Sauce Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal. (pg 90)

Brussels Sprouts in Maple Mustard Sauce (essentially, pour melted butter, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard over trimmed Brussels sprouts and roast them in the oven. My kids seriously eat these like candy.)


Grace at the Stove

Kale, Sausage, and White Bean Stew from   Dinner: A Love Story (page 250)


Watch: Dinner Flexibility

Fish Nuggets and Kale here on the Dinner: A Love Story blog


Watch: Chatting up Dinner

Sweet and Spicy Tofu from Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal. (pg 198)

Spicy Green Beans: Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic. Trim your fresh green beans (about a pound for 4 cloves garlic). Put some oil in your wok. Turn on the vent. Cook the green beans until some of them are blackened. Add a little sprinkle of chili pepper flakes and the garlic and just heat the garlic until it's soft. Sprinkle with salt to taste. 

We're all About REAL: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Last week, my friend Marcia sent me this post, thereby ending any lingering fascination I might have had with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. (I'm so over Starbucks sweet stuff anyway.) This morning, my son, who has long loved the lattes of fall, is lamenting the ubiquitous pumpkin

Today seems like the perfect day to repost this recipe and embrace the coming crunch of the leaves::

As the season changes, I'm drawn to those orange chalked signs that promise steaming mugs of fall, complete with whipped frothiness and steam infused with nutmeg. 

They cost a small fortune. They require leaving home. And really, they're sticky sweet.

We can do better.

My friend Sarah has her hands full these days. She's got three babies under two and they have three siblings. Busy, busy. And sleep deprived beyond imagination. Sarah has sacrificed milk in order to try to conquer her wee ones' tendency towards ear infections. So, she's been drinking Pumpkin Spice Via mixed into coconut milk. She froths it with a handy-dandy dinglehopper. It's quick and tasty. But the mama bear in me says,

"Girlfriend, you are demanding incredible things of your body. You're depriving it of sleep. You're the sole source of nutrition for two babies who have deliciously fat cheeks and thighs. You need to take care of you. So let's make this sweet indulgence a little healthier."

We have two choices here, the hot and the cold.

We have two choices here, the hot and the cold.

First the hot:

12 ounces warm coconut or almond millk ( I prefer almond) Homemade almond milk here for people who aren't loving on twin babies right now.

1 teaspoon instant expresso (or just plain old instant coffee)

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup canned pumpkin (or up to half a cup, which is a legitimate vegetable serving)

scraping the seeds of a vanilla bean into this mixture makes it an exceptionally undulgent luxury

sweetener to taste:  here's where you can make a huge difference. I think PSLs at Starbucks are too sweet for my taste. Pumpkin Spice Via has 60 calories--all of them sugar calories, the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar. I drink my version with unsweetened almond milk and just one teaspoon of raw honey. You can play with this to your taste; think maple syrup or molasses or honey or even sugar if it's just too much work to look at alternatives. It's unlikely that you really need 4 teaspoons of sugar, though.

You stir it all to blend and then froth it with a dinglehopper. Alternatively, you can put it all in the blender and give it a whirl. Sprinkle the top with more pumpkin spice.

The cold version:

This is a legitimate breakfast. Real food:-)

12 ounces milk or milk alternative

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 teaspoon (or more) raw honey or maple syrup  (if you like)

1 teaspoon instant coffee or expresso

the seeds of a vanilla bean if you are so inclined

Blend all of the above until it's smooth. Then add a handful of ice and blend again. Pour and sprinkle a little more pumpkin spice on top. 

[Alternatives: You can eliminate the coffee altogether. You can add half a frozen banana. You can freeze brewed coffee into ice cubes and use those instead of water ice and in place of instant coffee.]

So, there you go, a healthy alternative to pricey autumn-in-a-cup.

This is for Ginny

It's Throwback Thursday and Ginny is making pie, so I'm reviving an old post from the old kitchen blog:-). Strawberries aren't yet ready where we usually pick them, so old pictures will do nicely this morning.





I  have an awesome pie recipe that works well with blueberries and even peaches (add a little cinnamon). Below, I tossed a few peaches in with the strawberries. I like to play with this recipe. It's forgiving and if it doesn't quite hold together, no one ever seems to mind.

Baked Pie Shell

1 quart fresh strawberries or blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water (plus some extra for the cornstarch)

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp lemon juice

whipped cream


  • For strawberry pie, fill pie shell with 3 cups strawberries. (I slice them in half.)
  • Crush 1 cup berries in pot. Add sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
  • Mix cornstarch with a little cold water and whisk slowly into berry mixture. Cook until clear and thickened.
  • Remove from heat. Add lemon juice.
  • For strawberry pie, pour glaze over filled pie shell. For blueberry pie, pour 3 cups blueberries into glaze and stir until coated, then pour into pie shell.
  • Chill and serve with REAL whipped cream.

{The original recipe came from my friend Barbara who experimented further with fruit pies.}

Strawberry pie

Our two favorite farms are Hartland Orchard in Markham, Virginia and Homestead Farm (over the Potomac from Leesburg via ferry) in Poolesville, Maryland. 

I can hardly wait!



Oh She Glows! {for Lent}


I was so excited that the new Oh She Glows cookbook arrived yesterday. Even though my fasting was made perfectly simple thanks to a stomach bug, I spent several hours in bed yesterday doing some planning with a new vegan cookbook that I'd pre-ordered sometime last year. Menu planning while fighting a stomach bug is very similar to watching hours of Food Network to distract from morning sickness. It makes no sense at all, but I've done both.  I found the Oh She Glows blog to be a treasure trove of inspiration and guidance. But really, I so prefer cookbooks to cooking blogs. I think my aversion to clicking and clicking again is especially pronounced with cooking blogs. However, I'm a bit of a cookbook addict.



This one didn't disappoint. I've put to paper three weeks worth of meal plans taken from this book. Already! I'm so excited to get started (just as soon as my digestive system catches up;-). I think it's going to be very family-friendly. I might need to toss in a chicken breast or a hamburger here and there if they start to protest about the lack of meat, but with Lent on my side and this new study to point to, I like my chances of going totally meatless more often than not. 


As far as sewing goes, you get fabric again this week--lots of surprises in the works. Some pink. Some blue. Some for Michael's baby. Some for Bobby's baby. Both Kristin and Sloane have great midwives and they're both getting serious about getting ready-- the Easter season shines bright with anticipation. And the little aunties are busy as bees in the sewing room.

What about you? Sewing plans for Easter? Reading plans for Lent? Do share!


needle and thREAD

Back By Popular Demand: Valentine Dots!

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • Unwrap all the Hershey Kisses
  • Place one Kiss on one pretzel (I used wagon wheel pretzels)
  • Heat the Kisses for 5-10 minutes (the white ones melt more quickly). You just want them shiny and a little soft.
  • Press the M & Ms into the Kisses.DON'T MOVE THEM OR TOUCH THEM!
  • I refrigerated them until they were hard.

These are beautiful and so little kid friendly! (Matching Dot Dress not included;-)