My winter escape.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

IMG_8176I just arrived home yesterday from three weeks away. It’s been a cold, long winter here in Washington, DC and I needed an escape. I was also starting my second cookbook, and it occurred to me that a retreat would be beneficial – somewhere warm where I could write for a few hours each morning and relax in the afternoon, clearing my head and letting creative thoughts gel.

IMG_8179So, I went to my family’s home in western Massachusetts where it was really cold and there was three feet of snow on the ground. Since I walked away from a regular paycheck last August, to follow my dream of being a cook, author and storyteller full time, a luxury hotel by the beach was not in the cards. Plus, it’s hard to convince your husband, who is still working at home in DC, that you have to head to a tropical island for work.

Far from complaining, it was perfect. I sat, writing, at the kitchen island looking out at the back pasture. Each day started outdoors, in the hot tub with coffee, and ended there with a glass of wine.

I organized and arranged more than 100 recipes covering four seasons. I wrote more than 30 short stories about food and the friends, family and farmers it brings together. The book, titled Seasons to Taste, will be available for sale this fall. If you want to check out my first book, Simple Summer, you can find it on Amazon, or order a signed copy right on this site.

IMG_8263I want to thank each of you who sent me your thoughts and kind wishes during my retreat. Many of you became new fans on my Facebook page and some of you worked really hard to send your friends and family my way. Thank you. You are the reason I write, the reason I give live demonstrations, and the reason I cook. Enjoy this recipe from the book. It’s a perfect way to bring sweet spring flavors to the last of winter’s root vegetables before fresh produce is ready at the farm.

Here’s to another season at Eastern Market, to the hard and fun work ahead needed to finish my book, and, most importantly, to the arrival of spring. Maybe I won’t need that beach vacation after all.

Apricot Chili Glazed Carrots

Serves 6

Sweet and tart with the perfect hint of heat, these carrots take the last of winter’s root vegetables and coat them in a sweet, spring flavored glaze. Just the thing to serve with lamb.

2014-03-29-2 P1 Apricot Chile Glazed CarrotIngredients:

  • 4 carrots cut in 2” matchsticks, about 4 cups
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 3 tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • White pepper


  • Steam carrots 5-6 minutes until still very firm in center. Remove from heat and leave covered.
  • Melt 2 tbs butter in 12” skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add shallots and cook until they begin to turn a rich, caramelized brown. Add red pepper flakes and cook for one minute longer.
  • Add carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring a few times, until carrots begin to brown on edges.
  • Add apricot preserves and white balsamic vinegar, and toss, glazing the carrots as the vinegar reduces.
  • Season to taste with additional salt, white pepper and vinegar if too sweet, or preserves, if too tart.

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