My 10-step, 5-minute Morning Beauty Routine

Somewhere along the way, we all got sold on the idea that looking great means committing to an expensive multi-step, multi-product skin regimen every day. Not true! 

At 71 years old, I frequently get asked about my morning routine. People don’t believe me when I tell them that my daily routine takes me just five minutes. Seriously! With minimal effort and very few products, I’m up, ready, and out the door in the same amount of time that it takes many people to get through just their first step. 

First things first, I’m lucky that I inherited my mother’s excellent skin. Also, I’ve always been careful about staying out of the sun and wearing sunblock, which helps me avoid the fine lines and skin discoloration that plague many others. But, I’m convinced that with a simple, daily routine and a few great products, anyone can have clean, clear, beautiful skin. 

Step One: Clean. I don’t really have a favorite cleanser. I use a very fine micro scrub on my face each morning so that my skin feels clean and ready for the day. 

Step Two: Lancôme Effacil Eye Makeup Remover. Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but I often don’t remove my eye makeup before going to sleep at night. I don’t wear a lot, so it’s isn’t awful, but I start each morning by removing anything that’s left so that I’ve got a clean slate to start my day. I really like Lancôme Effacil because it isn’t oily, so it doesn’t interfere with fresh eye makeup. 

Step Three: RéVive Soothing Skin Refresher toner. I swipe this all over my face to get my skin ready to receive serums. 

Step Four: Lancôme Serums. I love serums, and I especially love Lancôme products. I dab a little Génefique Yeux serum under each eye and pat it in and then apply Lancôme Advanced Génefique face serum and smooth it all over my face. 

Step Five: Sisley Stylo Lumière Concealer. As much as I’d love to say, “I woke up like this,” I am 71, and a little concealer under my eyes goes a long way to cover up dark circles. I dab some on and use a damp makeup sponge to smooth it. 

Step Six: Hourglass Ambient Powder. I don’t wear makeup every day, but I love wearing this highlighting powder daily just to even out my skin tone and take away any shine. 

Step Seven: Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil. Unfortunately, I plucked away my eyebrows when I was 16, and they never really grew back. Hourglass has a shade that matches my silver hair, so I take a few moments to draw in eyebrows each day so that my face will have more definition. 

Step Eight: Chanel Le Volume Mascara. I like navy blue because it’s not as harsh as black, but I do wear black if I’m going out at night. 

Step Nine: Hourglass Mechanical Gel Eyeliner. I like a color called Ocean Floor (dark navy).  I apply it to the wet-line on the outer half of my upper eyelids so that my eyes will look wide and open. Applying eyeliner to the inner corners makes eyes look small and closed, and that is not a look I want. 

Step Ten: RéVive SPF 50 Sunscreen. Like I mentioned before, my commitment to avoiding sun damage is largely what I have to thank for my skin’s condition, and I’m not about to stop a habit that has worked so well for me! I love this sunscreen because it doesn’t feel heavy. I dot it on my face, neck, and chest and rub it in. If my skin looks shiny afterward, I add a bit more powder. 

That’s it! Ten products, five minutes, and I’m out the door! 

Charm Your Guests with This Inexpensive Party Tactic

It’s bound to happen. You’re at a party and you set down your glass to hold a plate, or to show someone your Amalfi coast vacation photos on your phone, or maybe just to visit the restroom. Then, when you look back, there are two other glasses where you set yours that look exactly the same. It’s happened to all of us and, when you’re the one hosting the party, it’s likely to happen to you several times throughout the evening because a host’s duties often require both hands. 

When guests are all drinking similar beverages, glasses are likely to get mixed up, particularly as the evening progresses. For guests, it can mean risking drinking after someone else. For a host, it can mean wasted beverages and extra dirty glasses. 

Fortunately, some clever, innovative people have created some charm-ing solutions. Better yet, many of the options available will fit on wine glasses, cocktail glasses, water glasses, and mugs. 

Wine charms have been around for several years and the styles just keep getting cuter. Think of these as jewelry for your stemware, and they fasten where the stem joins the base. Set them on the bar with a sign inviting guests to choose one.  For the rest of the night, they need only look for the flower, strawberry, animal, or phrase they selected. Some charms even allow guests to write a name or message directly on the charm. 

But wine charms aren’t the only option. There are also clips that attach to the top of the rim, and they come in fun shapes like lips and mustaches. There are reusable cocktail umbrellas in a variety of colors and hilarious musclemen. From elegant to whimsical, these are sure to be conversation starters as well as practical ways for your guests to keep track of their drink. 

Wine markers have come on the scene in recent years, as well. These are pens that allow your guests to write their names, or perhaps draw a design if they’re feeling creative, directly on their glass. When the party is over, the marker easily washes off in the dishwasher. It couldn’t be easier. 

There are so many cute, fun, reusable ways for your guests to identify their glasses. Now that we’re all a little extra knowledgeable about germs, none of us want to make a mistake and accidentally drink after someone else. Providing guests with a way to mark their glass is not just helpful, it’s healthful. And it will likely mean that you have fewer glasses to wash.

Cheers!

Brunch Should Be Easy – So You Can Spend It With Your Friends

It’s so wonderful to be able to get together with friends again. Even though I’m almost always in the mood to entertain, hosting a weekend brunch may be one of my favorite ways to gather with friends and family. There’s a certain casual comfort to brunch that makes it easy to pull together and even easier to enjoy.

Brunch is meant to be a breezy affair. That’s why I’m always looking for recipes that I can feed a group with and that come together quickly and easily. The host shouldn’t have to stand over a stove. In fact, if you’re standing over a stove, you’re not really hosting. Great brunch recipes allow you to get the meal started and then enjoy a mimosa (yes, please!) before it’s time to serve your guests.

What I love about this recipe for Hash Brown Cups is that it’s a perfect combination of potato, cheese, and eggs, and it’s basic enough that you can get as creative as you like with it. I added bacon to this version, but you could just as easily use diced ham, sautéed mushrooms, or whatever else you fancy.

I love my potatoes VERY crispy, so I added an extra five minutes of cooking time after pushing the potatoes back into the cups following the first bake. If you prefer your potatoes to be less crispy, simply shorten the cooking time.

You could add scallions, use different cheeses, or add your favorite herbs or other ingredients like I did with the bacon. Cooking is fun! Get creative!

Serve this alongside sliced fresh fruit or a simple salad. If tomatoes are in season, slice them and sprinkle them with a little sea salt. You can also grab some fresh baked bread or pastries from your local bakery to set out. With minimal effort, you’ll have an easy, delicious brunch that begs you and your guests to linger over coffee and cocktails while you catch up on all that you missed.

Customizable Brunch Hash Brown Cups with Eggs

  • 20 oz of thawed hash brown potatoes
  • 5 Tbs melted unsalted butter
  • 2/3 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 Large Eggs
  • Any custom mix-ins, about a ¼ cup or less

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the muffin pan. In a large bowl, stir together the potatoes, butter, cheese, and your custom mix-ins (I added chopped crisp bacon). Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cups and press into the bottom and up the sides of the cups. Bake for 25 minutes to crisp the potatoes. The potatoes will shrink a little. Use the back of a spoon (I used the back of an ice cream scoop!) to press the mixture back against the bottom and sides of the cups. (I put it back into the oven for another 5 minutes to crisp up a bit more).  Crack an egg into a small bowl and then gently pour it into each potato cup. Return to the oven for an additional 14 minutes for a jammy egg. You can do a minute or two less for a runny egg, but be sure that the whites are completely set before removing it from the oven. If you like your eggs cooked more, you can leave them in the oven for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slide a knife or offset spatula around each cup and place on a plate. Add chopped fresh herbs to garnish.  And now you have brunch!

There is something very special about drinking tea out of a beautiful cup

Fran Berger Drinks tea from a beautiful teacup

There is something very special about drinking tea out of a beautiful teacup. 

Most people use mugs – you know, the same ones they use for coffee, soup, even ice cream?  Just imagine how different it would be if you used a striking teacup and saucer?  They don’t have to match.  In fact, mixing teacups and saucers can add a touch of whimsy to the moment!

I found some wonderful ideas at Gearys Beverly Hills. The graceful shape of the orange one from Raynaud in their Tresor pattern (if orange isn’t your color – it comes in four different colors!) is one I really love.  Or, if you prefer something more contemporary – the cups from Rosenthal in either their Tac Stripes or Tac 02 Skin Gold would fit your style.  For drama there’s nothing better than the gold lined cup from Dibbern.  You have to admit sipping tea from that teacup would be very special.  But,  one design I’m always drawn to is from Richard Ginori in their Orientale pattern.  It also comes in several colors and would be a great addition to an eclectic table.  And, if you don’t like the saucer, you can always just use a small bread and butter plate instead.  That’s exactly what I did underneath the Tac Stripes teacup.

Unless you’re a collector of antique teacups, the perfect one should be functional too.  Foremost, you want the teacup to be comfortable for use – so being aware of the size of the hands that will use the cup is essential.  Different teacups fit differently for everyone, but some antique teacups have such small handles that I have a very hard time imagining how they ever actually used them.  You would have to pinch the handle between your thumb and forefinger to lift it!  Can you imagine it filled with hot tea and worrying about spilling it everywhere?  Doesn’t sound like a fun afternoon to me.

Take a look at my video to see the beautiful examples I found for you.  Think about how these lovely teacups (or others you might find!) will elevate your experience and bring back the art of drinking tea!

Easy Chicken Bone Broth

Right now, it’s not the easiest of times for all of us.

Most of us (I’m in California so this is me) have been ordered to ‘Shelter in Place’ or basically stay at home unless you need to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor or get gas for your car – the essentials. For a lot of us that means that we are cooking more than we normally do and, if you’re like me and single, you’re also freezing things in portions for easy meal preparation.

All this extra cooking means that we lean toward comfort food. Comfort food is different for all of us, but some form of chicken soup is in every cuisine I know, and it all starts with a base of simple chicken stock.

A while ago, when bone broth was just starting to become popular, I was talking with a girlfriend of mine about finding a simple recipe for chicken stock. Everything I knew about making my chicken soup involved not just chicken but also carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, parsley and herbs and spices. Needless to say, it is a ton of prep work just to get it together on the stove. She told me that she had the easiest recipe for the absolute best bone broth. Fortunately for me she was happy to share it and now I’m sharing it with you. The worst part of this recipe is the 5 hours on the stove but right now we’re all at home anyway so it’s not that much of a time sacrifice.

Tips:

  1. Have the butcher cut the chicken wings at the largest joint (each wing is now in two pieces) this exposes more bone.
  2. I like clear broth – so I wrap the chicken wings in cheesecloth and tie it up. This prevents almost all of the stray bits of chicken from floating around.
  3. Because I like it as clear as possible – when it’s time to strain the broth I place a layer of cheese cloth inside my fine mesh strainer and pour the broth through that.

Recipe:

4 pounds chicken wings (I use organic)
3 ½ quarts of cold water

Place the wings in cheesecloth and create a packet – tie in a knot to secure. Place the wings in the cold water in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil on high and then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Skim the ‘muck’ that rises to the top as needed. This will subside after about 30 minutes. Let simmer for 3 hours.

After the 3 hours add:

1 Red Onion – chopped. This doesn’t have to be pretty because you’re going to strain it out after you’re done cooking.
2 Bay Leaves
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (not more and do not use table salt – it’s much saltier than Kosher Salt) I know it doesn’t sound like much salt, but it is all you need – trust me.

Continue to simmer 2 more hours. After the 5 total cooking hours your broth will have reduced quite a bit. Strain through a fine mesh strainer (add the layer of cheesecloth inside the strainer if you have it). Then chill in the refrigerator till it is set. It will actually be like jello – very firm. I put my broth into 8”x 8” square pans but a Pyrex baking dish will work just as well. I then cut my ‘chicken jello’ into 2”x 2” squares. Line a cookie sheet with saran wrap. Carefully slide a knife around the edge of the chilled ‘jello’ and then lift each square out of the pan and place it on the saran wrap. Put the cookie sheet with the ‘chicken jello’ squares in the freezer. Once they are frozen put them into a Ziploc bag and leave in the freezer until you need them.

You can either melt the squares on the stove or place them frozen directly into a microwave safe dish and heat them. I either just drink it warm in a mug, or add cooked pasta, or cooked chicken. You can really do anything that you like with it. My girlfriend loves this so much that she makes it every week because she drinks it every day!

I hope you enjoy this. Stay safe and stay well.

The Lost Art of the Thank You Note

thank you note

Or, “Do I really have to write that?”

I always talk about entertaining at home but what about when you’ve been invited to someone else’s home for a dinner party or an afternoon in the back yard?  Do you need to send a Thank You note (I’ll get to email later) or is just saying ‘thank you’ as you leave enough?  Expressing your gratitude at the end of the day or evening is critical but so is taking the time to actually write a thank you note later and here’s why.

Think about how much time you put into planning and executing a gathering at your own home.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just family, business colleagues or your best friends who are the ones on the invite list.  You expend effort and energy on the planning of the guest list, the menu, cooking or picking up from your favorite restaurant, décor, setting your table (al fresco or even at your breakfast table), and then making sure everyone is having a great time during the party.

And, your host has spent just as much effort on their event as well.  So, when you take the time to send a personal thank-you note it’s simply a lovely reminder for the host that you appreciate everything they did and that you’re glad you were included.

Send it as soon afterward as possible – don’t wait a week.  Just that small gesture of writing a short thank-you note will be remembered.  Try to make it as personal as you can, say ‘thank you’ at the beginning of the note and add a detail or two from the evening.  It will show you put some thought into the message.  Even if you didn’t like the food or the group, find something positive to say – maybe you loved the way the table was set.  It does not have to be a novel; a short note is perfectly acceptable.

I promised a note on sending an email thank-you and here it is:

Email thank-you notes don’t carry as much weight as ones that are hand-written.  When you write one by hand it shows that you have taken the time to express how much your host’s invitation meant to you.  I know it seems a bit old-fashioned to actually put a stamp on an envelope and use snail mail, especially in these tech heavy times, but it will impress.

However, email notes are more likely to get written AND, more importantly, actually sent. And, it’s much better to send an email thank-you than no thank-you note at all. If you are ‘hand-writing challenged’ and you can’t even read your own writing, then an email is preferred! They may not be as nice to receive but at least it will be legible! Depending on who is receiving the note, they may appreciate that an email is ‘greener’ than pen, paper, and stamp.

Having said that, write a thank you and you’ll get on the next invite list for sure!

thank you note

In the picture:

Flower Market or Farmer’s Market?

flowers-fresh

The best places to get the freshest flowers for your home.

I love how fresh flowers look in my home.  I have some in my foyer, some on my breakfast table and usually a few stems in the powder room and in my bathroom (of course!).  I even make sure I have a stem or two next to my bed.  Of course, if I’m entertaining, I add flowers to wherever we are having cocktails and they are ever present as part of my tablescape in the dining room.

Fresh flowers brighten any room and bring life to any space they’re in.  It’s interesting, guests mention that my home always feels welcoming but they don’t equate part of that feeling to the fresh flowers that are always present.  But, I’m here to tell you that those flowers absolutely contribute to it.

Many people think that you need to go to a florist to have fresh flowers in your home and that you have to spend a lot of money on arrangements created by professionals.  That is absolutely not the case.  You can find fresh flowers at most grocery stores but they’re usually not the freshest.  They’ll certainly do in a pinch – like if you can’t get to your local Flower Market or your local Farmer’s Market was a few days earlier and you need them ASAP.  So, don’t completely write off your grocer’s flowers if that’s what you can get to in the minute – they will do just fine.  But, with just a bit of planning you can get the freshest flowers from the flower or farmer’s market for a fraction of what it would cost you at a professional florist.  Loose flowers from your grocery store will cost less than from a florist as well.

fresh flowersTalk to the flower merchant at the farmer’s market about which flowers are in season at the minute or simply find ones that you love.  Ask which ones will stay freshest longest so you can enjoy them for a few extra days.  If I don’t have a particular color theme I’m working with I like to find unusual colors of flowers – like the Mahogany Sun Flowers in the photos – I’d never seen them.  Look at all the stems in whichever bunch you are choosing to make sure you don’t have any ‘sad’ flowers.

Be sure to recut the stems when you get home before you place them in water.  Any container that can hold water can be used for your arrangements – they don’t have to be vases.  In fact, sometimes the more unusual the container the more interesting the flowers look so canning jars, pitchers, glasses, almost anything can be the perfect ‘vase’ for your blooms.  Cut them different lengths placing the shortest ones in front and the longest towards the center.  I like them just loose.

And now that you know about where to find fresh flowers and how to have them in your home year-round you can save those visits to your local professional florist for when you absolutely must have that perfect arrangement for a special occasion.

How Many Plates do I Really Need?

plates for entertaining

4 is not a number no matter how many chairs are in your dining room!

My kitchen table seats only 3 and my dining room table has only 6 chairs.  So, how many plates do I really need?  I need a lot more than 6!  I can honestly say that I get asked that question by almost every client I have.  The answer is that everyone needs at least 10 even if you only seat 6 at your table and here’s why:

First, you will sometimes choose to use some regular plates (not serving pieces) just for serving the food that you’ve made.  Perhaps the meal is more casual and you don’t feel the need to pull out your platters and, whatever you’ve created will fit just fine on a dinner plate.  That’s why if your table is like mine and you’re serving 6 you will need more plates.

Second, you might be having a casual dinner and somehow a plate or two gets cleared into the kitchen but your guests aren’t quite finished with the meal – you need more plates!

Third, for some holidays you might add a folding table or two with folding chairs to seat 12 and you need more plates.

Or, maybe you’re serving a buffet and a guest wants a clean plate – all of a sudden you need more plates.

Then there’s always the dreaded and unexpected ‘plus one’ that wasn’t on the original guest list but someone brings to the party. You can scramble for another chair that you pull up to your table but, if you don’t have extra plates, how are they going to eat their dinner?

And, what if you’re being very careful with cleanup but a plate slips through your fingers and goes crashing to the floor?  Or, the garbage disposal decides to eat a spoon? Or any number of other mishaps and disasters that could descend on your evening?

You can see where this is headed.  The number of chairs at your table is only the start of how many plates, bowls, glasses, spoons, forks, etc. that you need to have on hand.  My rule of thumb is an additional 4 of everything.  This holds true no matter what shape or size your plates, bowls or flatware are.  Extras are always the answer.

I used to throw an annual New Year’s Eve party for all of my friends.  The last several years the number of guests grew to 100.  After I pushed back all of the furniture in my living room I squeezed in 10 tables for dinner.  But, you can imagine how many dishes etc. I had for those parties – service for 115!!!  I just never knew if someone was bringing an ‘extra’ and I always needed to be prepared.

Count your plates and be ready for anything!

Help! I’m Having a Party – How Much Wine do I Need?

wine-math-made-easy

Do the Wine Math: It’ll save your party every time.

I get asked a lot about how much wine is needed for a party and my answer is always the same: do the Wine Math.

No, it’s not New Math which is very complicated and completely unnecessary. It’s Old Math where we use addition, multiplication and a very small amount of division. All you need are some numbers to start.

Wine math is just that simple. First you have to know how many glasses are in a bottle. Then you need to figure out the kind of party you’re having, how long it will last, the number of people that are coming, and exactly who you’ve invited (meaning what type of wine drinkers they are). Once you figure all of that out, it’s a very quick calculation.

Of course, if you’re having a break-up pity party with just you and a friend then who cares about math at all? Important fact:  two very large mason jars will hold about a bottle of wine.  Simply add your favorite chick flick and you’re good to go!

Let’s get back to the very important wine math. A standard bottle of wine is 750 ml which is approximately 25 ounces.  You will find that the suggested serving of a glass of wine is 5 ounces so that would mean that each bottle would pour about 5 glasses.  However, I don’t think anyone pours exactly 5 ounces of wine – it usually ends up closer to 6 ounces – which means that, on average, a bottle of wine will hold about 4 glasses of wine.  Use that as your ‘rule of thumb’.

So, think about how your guests will drink.  You will pour one glass before dinner, a couple more will be consumed during the meal, and probably one more after dinner.  That means, assuming that there are 4 glasses in a bottle, that you would need about one bottle per guest.  But, as I’ve said above, you also need to consider a couple of other variables before you hit the wine store.

Guest Count – hopefully your friends are the type that will actually RSVP and not just show up unannounced.  Always add two more people to the count because someone will bring a random extra that they ‘forgot’ to tell you about or you have that one friend who never RSVPs and never shows but who will decide to come to your fabulous event.

Here’s where you pull out the calculator for the wine math:

Multiply the number of guests times the number of estimated glasses filled per guest.
THEN divide that number by 4 (approximate glasses per bottle) and that equals the number of bottles needed.

How much wine will they drink? Nobody can perfectly predict this but there are a couple of ‘rules’ that you can always depend on.  If your guests at least like wine they will drink one glass in the first hour but if they enjoy wine or even love it the number will be closer to 2 glasses in that first hour.  For each hour after that add one more glass to the count.  Following this logic – if your party will last about 4 hours most will drink close to 5 glasses of wine. You will need both a red and a white and enough of each in case most of your guests want to drink one or the other.

Now, if you’re like me and you are pouring Champagne, the whole calculation goes out the window because a bottle of bubbles will pour approximately 8 champagne flutes.  Unless, however, you’re at my house then a bottle will only hold 6-7 flutes because I have really large champagne glasses!

See? “Wine math” made easy. Now go and enjoy your party!

Wines in the picture:

Sophisticated Living – What is it?

sophisticated_living

More important, how to I obtain it?

I often talk about sophisticated living and how everyone can live their lives that way.  But, I think many people are confused about what I mean and how to achieve it in their daily routines.

Most people assume that to live a sophisticated lifestyle you have to have a lot of money and spend it lavishly.  I’m here to tell you that sophisticated living has absolutely nothing to do with how rich you are or your spending habits.  Instead, it has everything to do with putting effort into what you choose to surround yourself with – the items you touch on a daily basis, the things that you use not only with your family but also with your friends and colleagues when you entertain.  It has to do with everything that lives behind the cabinet doors in your home.

Your cabinets should be filled with things you enjoy touching and using, the feel of them, the weight and balance of a favorite kitchen knife or dining fork, even the casual water glass you use on a daily basis.  They don’t have to be silver or cut crystal – they just have to be something you love to use.  That’s not to say that I don’t love beautiful silver and crystal (because I do!) but everything doesn’t have to be formal and it definitely doesn’t have to belong to only one manufacturer or only one pattern.

The things that we surround ourselves with and use are a reflection of ourselves and should be items that we love to share with others.  Whether it’s because they have a great story to tell or are handed down from someone we loved or because we simply happened upon them on a trip!  They could be the silliest BBQ plates that were found in a second-hand shop on a road trip that turn a casual afternoon barbecue into a long night of laughter.  All of these contribute to sophisticated living.

The photo includes some of my most cherished items – the one piece of silver my mother had (the simple Revere Bowl), the first champagne glasses I ever purchased when I was 21, the beautiful Baccarat Mille Nuits champagne flutes that were a gift from my best friend that started my collection, the box of salt cellars that are clearly missing one little dish and two spoons but were so sweet I had to buy them from an antique dealer, various silver serving pieces bought at flea markets all over the world – even my cherished wooden cooking spoon (burn marks and all) that I’ve moved from home to home over the last 40 years.  All of these items are a reflection of me, who I am and what I want to share.

The joy has been in the collecting of these things and it continues every time I reach for one of them to use.

It’s Summer So It Must Be Corn Season!

corn

Corn etiquette: how to pick it, store it, and fix a bad choice.

I look forward to summer every year for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fantastic produce that’s perfect and in season for these few months.  There are so many to choose from but one of my absolute favorites is corn!  Some of my best food memories are from BBQs that either I attended or threw and there was always fresh corn in one form or another on the menu.  In fact, I’m usually teased about how neatly I eat corn off the cob– one row at a time – I can’t help it – it just tastes better that way!

The sweetest and freshest corn (no matter the color – white, yellow or bicolor – color is not an indicator of sweetness) is found at your local stand or farmer’s market.  But, even if you must go to your local grocer for fresh corn know that peeling back the husk will dry out the cob for the other shoppers no matter where you are buying the ears.  A serious etiquette No-No.  Just look for full, heavy ears with tight, green husks and shiny silk at the ends.

corn_and_FranUnfortunately, corn will start to lose it sweetness as soon as it is picked which is why I recommend buying local.  But, it’s also the best reason to eat it as quickly as you buy it – eating it the same day as you purchase it would be ideal.  If you must, keep unhusked ears in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for no more than 3 days.  If you can’t use them all up then blanch the cobs (peeled and without silk) in boiling water, cut off the kernels and store in plastic bags in your freezer. They’ll last up to one year and you’ll have fresh corn available no matter the season!  Just lay a shucked ear on the cutting board and (with a sharp knife) slice off a strip of corn.  Continue turning the cob until all kernels are removed.

A question that is always asked – boil or grill?  Here’s the answer – for the sweetest more ‘corny’ tasting corn – boil.  If your corn is fresh from a local stand or the farmer’s market simply place shucked ears into a pot of boiling water for 1-3 minutes.  Corn that’s purchased at the market is, more than likely older, a bit less sweet and tender and will require a few more minutes of cook time – maybe 5-8 minutes.  But, if you are looking for the charred smokiness that can only come from the grill then by all means – grill!  Leave the ears in the husks – you don’t need to soak them in water prior to placing them on the grill – and set them on a medium high pre-heated grill.  Turn them occasionally until the outside of the husks are charred evenly – maybe 15-20 minutes.  If you want a bit more color on the kernels loosen the husks slightly before grilling.

The trick to having sweet corn that may be a bit past its prime?  Add ¼ cup sugar for every 4 quarts of boiling water.  It’s nobody’s business if the sweetness is from the corn itself or a little extra ‘help’!

Recipe Idea: Prepping Roasted Veggies for Later

roasted veggies yum

Great way to spread out the goodness of great tasting veggies.

I know it’s July, but here in Los Angeles we have finally gotten what we lovingly call ‘June Gloom’.  It stays overcast all day and isn’t quite as hot as it’s going to get for summer.  That’s not to say it’s actually cool out but, because it’s ‘gloomy’ outside you sort of think that it is.  It was the perfect time to hit the market and prep some roasted vegetables for the week.

When you slowly roast fresh veggies (any combination that you love) with some aromatics you have the basis for any meal of the day.   I always make enough for a couple of days – that way I can use them for breakfast with my eggs, lunch over some baby spinach or as the perfect side for my favorite crispy skin salmon.  I have a few rules that hold true no matter which vegetables you choose.

Always buy organic when possible. But not everything ‘has’ to be organic so check the ever-changing list of the Dirty Dozen to see which ones must be organic and the Clean 15 to see which contain the least amount of pesticides.  You can always depend that a thick-skinned vegetable, like butternut squash, is fine if it’s not organic.

Start roasting with the vegetables that will take the longest to cook.  That way as you’re adding more vegetables to your roasting pan everything will end up cooked the right amount of time.  For this group of vegetables- baby potatoes, summer squash, zucchini, onions, garlic, asparagus, mushrooms- the potatoes will need to cook the longest.  Cut the vegetables so that they are basically the same size.

I’m a sucker for potatoes (in any form) so if you’re like me you will want some roasted potatoes in the mix.  I used the baby multi-colored (just because they look good) ones.  Whatever potato you decide to use- boil them in fairly salty water till just barely fork tender, drain and let cool slightly.  Smash them which will allow for more crispy edges and place on a sheet tray.  Drizzle with good extra virgin Olive Oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, some fresh ground pepper and any herbs you want to start with (I used some Italian Rosemary that I brought home from Sicily on my last trip).  Toss them so all sides of the potatoes are coated and start roasting at 450°.  Check the potatoes after about 15 minutes for crispiness.

In this group the onions and fresh garlic (smashed as well) went into the pan next. Add a drizzle of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and more kosher salt and pepper with each new add of vegetables.  I know it sounds like a lot of salt but you will need it for flavor.  Remember to use only kosher salt as regular salt is way too salty.

Toss the mixture together every time you add new vegetables and then spread evenly across the sheet pan to evenly roast.  Next, I added the asparagus (you can see I peeled the stems – check out my blog on asparagus for tips on the prep).

The zucchini and summer squash next and then finally the mushrooms.  Check every 7-8 minutes after you add a new group of vegetable to make sure you don’t overcook.

Be sure to taste with each new addition so you can adjust seasoning.  If you think you have enough oil in the mix – stop adding it.

Let the mixture cool and place in a sealed container in your refrigerator.  It will last 2-3 days unless you eat it all sooner!  I’m going to take some of these roasted vegetables tomorrow morning, reheat them in a skillet, add some chopped tomato, crack an egg in the middle and cover to cook the egg.

Breakfast!!!  I can’t wait.