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Irene’s Irish Soda Bread

Every year I run this post because so many people want my mother’s Irish Soda Bread recipe. Here it is again, in time for tomorrow’s breakfast in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Keep in mind that this bread must be slathered in butter. Not butter substitute, but real, artery-clogging butter. Enjoy! Read more

What if a New Year’s resolution isn’t the answer?

It’s that time of year again, the time when we look at ourselves and see all the stuff that needs improving over the next 12 months. We want to lose 10 pounds, exercise five times a week, work less, play more, and organize our house, our schedules, our lives. It all sounds great on paper, but those resolutions can do more harm than good. Why not take a different approach this year, one that will transform you from the inside out? I’ll get you started.  Read more

After the feast, before the frenzy: Restoring serenity to your plate as the holiday season sets in

I don’t know about you, but I’m still full from yesterday’s Thanksgiving eat-a-thon. I can’t even think about food. Except for those pies on the counter. And the stuffing. Cold stuffing eaten right from the fridge. Oh, and wait, didn’t we have some leftover brie? Yeah, it’s going to a be a long and fattening weekend if I don’t rein in the cravings before they set me on a course to eat my way through the holiday season. Read more

My dinner with Billy: HUGE!

So Dennis and I were having dinner at Caffe Italia in Albany (worthy of its own blog post another time) after a long day of driving to and from Burlington for a college visit with Noah. As we sipped our wine and waited for our entrees, Dennis looked over at a back table and said, “That guy looks like Billy Fuccillo.” (If you live in upstate New York, this man needs no introduction. If you don’t, you’ll understand the fascination when you watch the video clip below.) Anyway, once we heard his voice, we knew it was, in fact, Billy Fuccillo, and I said, “I’m not leaving here without taking a photo with him.” Read more

Foodie Friday: Hollow chef kicks it up a notch

When we were planning our date night this week, there was only one place on my list of suggestions: The Hollow Bar & Kitchen on North Pearl Street in Albany. I was craving the eggplant stack, which I’d had the first time we visited. I don’t care if you think you don’t like eggplant, you will love this. Trust me. It. Is. Incredible. So off we went, in search of eggplant and gnocchi and craft beer and wine.  Read more

Foodie Friday: A great way to use summer veggies

When a friend gave me a week of her CSA share, I knew I had to act fast. I had bags of beautiful summer abundance sitting on my counter and only a few days to use them before we headed out on our own vacation. Thank goodness for Google. I did a search of a few key ingredients and found the most amazing pasta dish using almost all of the veggies. It was a huge hit with all three kids, and that’s saying something for a dish featuring eggplant. Here’s the recipe for pasta with roasted vegetables, tomatoes, and basil from Epicurious. Tweak as needed. If you don’t have eggplant but have tons of zucchini, use that. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. The beauty of this kind of pasta dishes is that it allows you to get creative. There are no set rules. Other than making sure the pasta is  al dente.  Read more

Manic Monday: A busy week in and around Albany

Hey, gang. What a beautiful week to be from New York’s Capital Region. No, seriously, I’m not kidding about that. For once. These days I am loving my adopted hometown more and more. Maybe because Dennis and I are regularly abandoning our children to hang out in pubs and parks, and did I mention pubs?

And this week we had the added bonus of tulips, tulips and more tulips in Washington Park, which happens to be right across the street from the offices of the New York State Catholic Conference, where Dennis spends his days. We skipped the overcrowded Tulip Fest yesterday and instead opted for a trip to Cardona’s Italian Market for Mother’s Day lunch fixings, but Dennis and I celebrated our own small-scale version of Tulip Fest at lunch time today. Lots of photos this week, lots of photos… Read more

A not-so-hidden gem in Albany: City Beer Hall

For the past few years, whenever we would go to Sunday Mass at Historic St. Mary’s in downtown Albany  (The church is a destination in itself, if you’ve never been there.), we’d drive past The City Beer Hall on the way home and say, “We have to try that some day.” Something about the 1903 building with the “Beer Hall” in lights on the roof spoke to us. It looked like it just had to be good. But, as with many things we say we’d like to do, we never got around to it. Until yesterday. Dennis and I spent Easter Monday downtown — first with a walk along the Hudson in the Corning Preserve and later with a walk over the highway, into Albany and onward to the Beer Hall.  Read more

Foodie Friday: Sweet potato black bean chili

I actually Googled “sweet potato black bean chili, Not Strictly Spiritual” this morning to find this recipe I had posted here months ago. It was easier than searching for it in the piles of cookbooks in my kitchen. This is what’s on the menu tonight at the Poust House. It’s de-lish! Give it a try, if you didn’t do it the first time around. Read more

Foodie Friday: Ladling out lentil to start soup season

Foodie Friday is back after a long hiatus, thanks to a favorite recipe that inspired me to kickstart the old weekly recipe post. The beginning of soup season always makes me a little giddy, in a foodie sort of way, and this week we dove into the cool weather cooking with a hearty and satisfying lentil soup that also happens to be vegan. I didn’t do that on purpose but it’s a nice coincidence. Try this on a cool autumn or winter night, and you won’t be disappointed. Read more