The Second Lunch Kitchen Resolutions, 2017

julia child in her kitchen

Well yes, it’s that time of year again! I’ve spent the better part of the weekend taking stock of my kitchen resolutions – really, the only resolutions I make each year!

Some of my 2016 and previous years’ kitchen resolutions included:

:: to use my large/fancy appliances more often (done!)
:: to do a weekly assessment of fresh produce in my refrigerator (done, and was significantly less wasteful!)
:: to cull the pantry (did a decent fridge cull, pantry is still overwhelmed)
:: to take better care of my cast iron (nope, yikes!)
:: to not use the wrong lid on the wrong pot (learned my lesson and stuck with it)
:: to not season directly into the pan (took this one to heart!)
:: to read my new cookbooks cover to cover before buying several more (fail)
:: to wash all dishes and wipe down counters before going to bed each night (mostly)
:: to keep a running kitchen journal (for the most part, electronically this year)

In 2017, I’m doing things a little differently. My word of the year is share, and so this year I’m focusing my kitchen activities on content creation. I thought it would be a good year to get a head-start on two of my cookbooks that I’d like to write. I’ve had these bubbling for the past decade, and thought that it’s a good time as any to get crackin’.

This year I’d like to write two cookbook proposals – one for a Turkish cookbook with family recipes and a love letter to Istanbul, and another for an everyday eating cookbook, in the style of Nigel Slater, Anna Jones, or the Leon cookbook.

Create two seasonal healthy cooking e-books – with meal plans to take advantage of the seasonal bounty, fresh produce storage tips, easy dinner ideas, and suggested pantry upgrades.

Continue with my weekly meal planning – I was quite consistent in 2016 writing my meal plans, and I’d like to continue the trend. I’d like to write more about how I go through the process of meal planning, the resources that I use, and how I simplify the process of making weeknight meals.

I’d like to start eating my way through some restaurant bucket list restaurants – as part of an overall goal to start traveling more. Since moving back from California, I can count my exquisite dining experiences on about one hand these days. We’re not talking all Michelin, but really experiencing the work of some notable chefs and global cuisine to continue my lifelong education in food.

Start working my way through at least 100 new fruits and vegetables – and come up with my list of 1000 to try. This is more complicated living in New England, but it occurred to me that I’ve been lacking in novel food experiences lately and need a good place to start. I’m going to be compiling a list by sitting down with Elizabeth Schneider’s Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables, Alice Waters’ fruit and vegetable tomes, Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, and some of my River Cottage Guides, and researching vegetables and fruits unique to specific global cuisines in some of my regional cuisine specific cookbooks that I already own.

Write out a list of challenging cooking experiments to try, and add in a good weekend cooking project at least once a month. My default in the kitchen is quick weeknight meals, and there are some great projects that I’m missing out on.

A short list of cookbooks that I already own and love that I’d like to re-read and cook a recipe from this year:

January – 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer
February – Zuni Cafe by Judy Rodgers
March – The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson
April – French Feasts by Stéphane Reynaud
May – The Italian Baker by Carol Field
June – Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen
July – Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
August – Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
September – The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert
October – My New Orleans by John Besh
November – Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji
December – Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Do you have any kitchen resolutions this year?

Things that Spark Joy

heath serving bowl ottolenghi tabbouli

With winter in full force today, I’ve been working on a list of things in my life that spark joy to ward off the winter blues. This is a variation of a gratitude exercise that I do with my coaching clients – and something I try to revisit on a semi-regular basis.

I often have difficulty reminding myself what things spark joy when I’m feeling symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many of my friends and clients do as well.

So it helps to do this exercise when I’m on an upswing, and be kind to myself when these things don’t seem like they’ll help. Sometimes the act of making the list is enough to spark positive feelings.

I write out a combination of big things and little things – when I don’t have the energy to travel or adventure, I may still find joy from slicing carrots with my sharp knife, stirring a pot of beans, or cuddling with my sweet puppy. The act of doing something small but satisfying helps to start a positive domino effect in my daily life.

Here’s my list this week.

My red Heath serving bowl, a birthday gift from Devon. And filling it with greenery, such as the parsley tabbouleh picture above. It’s this Ottolenghi recipe.

Chopping and slicing things with a very sharp knife. I purchased a new Kyocera knife as a replacement for one that chipped. At some point, I’ll get a new one with their warranty, but after stalling for a while, I finally just decided to bite the bullet and spend the $30 with industry discount at Sur La Table.

Planning trips, and traveling. I had a few big trips on my to do list this year: my favorites were Florida (twice) and Denver, Colorado! Every year I go with a small group of friends on a spring excursion. We’ve done DC, London, Disney World. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Disney. I’d like to go back this year. Bonus points for silly out takes from warm beaches.

Sam Tackeff

Helping other people find their passion in life. Life is too short to be drifting down the wrong path. There is a world to explore, and people in need to be of service to. For you Wellesleys out there: Sed Min for the Win.

The feeling of having written something. I do wish that I enjoyed the writing process more – but it’s often difficult to feel like I’m in the zone. That said, the joy of having written is strong!

The ocean. I’ve been blessed to have lived most of my life near the ocean. I love the vivid color of the sea, the lapping of waves, gathering sea glass and worn rocks. It’s a perfect place of contemplation. I like walking past others who walk on the beach alone, a brief nod of solidarity and of knowing.

Acquiring new books at my local bookstore. Or even the non-local ones – I like getting books on trips, and visiting bookstores in different places.

Adding a finished book to my Goodreads “read” list. It’s really nice to see everything I’ve read in one place, and to see the virtual shelf growing. Even on days when I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, I can see that I’ve read and haven’t given up on learning and exploring.

My sweet bean, Bertram the Frenchie. I adore getting to spend time with him, head into the outdoors on adventures, and see him taking true pleasure in chowing down on whatever is in front of him. He likes sitting on my lap and watching the world. He loves people – it’s actually quite nice to have a social puppy that is different than my own nature.

Bertram the Frenchie

What would you put on your list?

From my new corner office

ikea home office

Welcome to my new office! Now that I’m working from my home several days a week building my business, I finally decided that I needed to get off the couch and get myself a desk. It feels so good to have a place to strategize, dream, and create! I made a big trip to IKEA and went wild. All I have to do now is add some art, plants, a lightbulb in my new lamp, and I should be good to go.

cart: raskog // tabletop: linnmon 59” // trestle: finnvard // side leg (out of shot) kallax bookshelf // chair with sheep

I have a secret goal to write a list every week in 2016 and publish it on The Second Lunch. One of the key ways to build a successful goal is to share it with others! So here you go. I’d like to hold myself to this practice, at least for the next month, when I’ll sit down and re-evaluate if it’s a thing I really want to do! I hope it is!

Here’s what’s happening over here:


I have a friend Traca who cooks multiple incredible recipes a week for a project she’s currently working on. She’s really pushing herself consistently to learn new things, taste new ingredients, and try new techniques. Each week she posts the list of her global conquests – Mole Colordito Enchiladas, Sichuan noodles and pork shoulder chop, complex recipes from Ottolenghi, Naomi Duguid, and more. I cook a lot of simple meals around here, and it’s really inspiring me to up my game! This week I’m doing the chicken thighs with caramelized onions and cardamom rice from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.


This week I’m taking a ten day natural light shooting challenge with my accomplished friend Kristin Tatem. She has a stunning studio in Lexington, KY – if you are local, consider taking a class with her! She also has online courses! It’s a good excuse to get some practice, and she’s such a capable teacher!


I’ve started a new EdX course – Berkeley’s The Science of Happiness. It’s a 10 week self paced course that delves into the science of happiness, exploration of global and cultural happiness practice, and helps add to your own happiness toolkit. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my learnings with my clients!


I made my way out to an independent bookstore for a book group this week, one of Book Riot’s read harder book clubs. I follow the organizer Jessica on Twitter, and I’m glad she tweeted about it! It’s an “any book book club” which actually works out great, because you get to talk about all different kinds of books, and we all got Book Riot Read Harder Challenge printables. Mine is going up on the wall!

I’ll also be participating in the Newtonville Books reading challenge, working my way through the Man Booker long list, and slowly working my way through the BBC Big Read – a long term project that I started a few years ago.

This week I’m reading: How to Cook a Moose // M Train // On The Move

October Goals, Take 1

I spent the day on enforced rest to try to heal up quickly and get back to the action. It’s so easy to forget how important rest is to a healthy and active lifestyle. Well, and sleep. But we all know that!

Fall morning coffee august to august kitchen calendar sesame chicken and cucumber salad

Today I wasn’t up for doing much. My brain was just as shot as my body. So I spent time reading through a few of my favorite blogs, truthfully, not getting far from my bed. Sometimes we just really need to rest.

Let’s talk a little bit about goal setting. I’m not the type of person who is shattered if I don’t complete a goal that I’ve set for myself – for me, goal setting is really “intention setting” and “visualization”. If I can’t visualize it, it likely won’t happen. And I’m competitive. So more often than not, I finish what I intend to. Goal setting isn’t something that I have to do, but I really enjoy the process, and find that I get more done when I take the time to jot down a few things at the beginning of each month and season.

October Goals 

Kitchen journaling :: my kitchen journal got an upgrade (see above). This year I’m writing down my meals (and workouts) (and other momentous notes) in a bright yellow August to August planner. Did you use these when you were in school? They are my favorite paper planners!

Self Care Calendar :: every month, I like to focus on little things to take care of myself. This month I need to get back into the habit of regular manicures. I got off of the bandwagon, and my hands suffered. Fitfluential has a timely #FFWellness challenge with Grokker all month, so I’ll be playing along with that too.

Home Cooking  :: eating real food. I’ve been doing a few food related freelance projects that have me eating healthily and well – tonight’s chicken and cucumber salad was part of it. The better I eat, the better I’ll perform at my marathon next month.

Giving back  :: every month I try to think of different ways to give back to my community (in Jewish tradition, this is called Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. This month I’m going to be organizing some of my current charitable donations, which I try to expand upon as much as I can. Additionally, I work as the coordinator for local alumnae interviews at my college (Wellesley), and the early admission season is just starting now! I can’t wait to help some amazing high schoolers get into their dream school. It’s totally selfish really, one day these women will take over the world.

Fall foods  :: so many amazing fruits and vegetables to take advantage of this month! I’m looking at you – apples, artichokes, Asian pears, avocados, basil, blackberries, carrots, cippolini onions, corn, cucumbers, dahlias, French prunes, fresh olives, grapes, jujubes, lettuces, melons, new crop dates, onions, peppers, persimmons, plums, pomegranates, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, shelling beans, strawberries, summer squash and early winter squash, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, Valencia oranges, and wax beans! (Okay, I stole that list from the CUESA email, which I still look forward to each week. We don’t have quite the selection here on the East Coast!)

Spin class  :: I’d like to go back and try a spin class now that I’ve biked 300 miles in September. My hunch is that I will have more power!

Watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix  :: Yep, it’s a goal. Note, I did not say “binge watch all of the seasons of Gilmore Girls that were just released onto Netflix, Hallelujah!” but.. that’s sort of what I was thinking.

Triathlon future planning  :: So, apparently, with this sport, you have to plan WAYYYYY in advance. But, I guess that’s for the best, because you can’t really just wing a multi-hour endurance event. I’m weighing my options for a 70.3 race next season. Currently I’m debating between Pumpkinman, Timberman (official Ironman 70.3), and Patriot. (A local race). If I finish my 20 miler without dying in two weeks, then I’m going to register for one, assuming they haven’t all sold out. Anyone want to sponsor me?

Good things happening in October:
October 6th – Devon’s birthday (there will be a farm trip, and pho)
October 11 – Sukkot, the Jewish Harvest Holiday – we eat chili outside under the sukkah!
October 12th the B.A.A. Half (13.1 miles to glory!)
October 13thTufts 10k (All women! Joan Benoit Samuelson runs the race and then gives everyone a high five!)
October 17th -19th Wellesley Alumnae Leadership Council – my best friend Lizzy is coming from Minnesota to visit me for this!
October 18th20 miles on the calendar
October 26th Newburyport Half Marathon
October 31stHalloween

I have to rest up, and get better quickly! There’s so much to see and do! What are you up to this month?

Hints of Insanity + Alternative Food Reading

There’s been about three hours of Ironman triathlon coverage on television tonight, and I’ve been developing delusions of joining the big kids in a 70.3 next year. This year I competed in two sprint triathlons, and the fire inside is growing. Here’s the rub: I’m a slow runner. Frankly, I’m really slow at all sports. I know that I’ll never win a 5k, but somehow, I’ve had it in my head that I’m built for long endurance. I can go, go, go, albeit slowly, for hours at a time, and I don’t like quitting. This feels like a story that is just beginning for me.

keep running

It feels good to have things that you are completely terrified of, and in a tiny part of your heart know that it just MIGHT be achievable.

And because, despite how it may look outside, I’m still holding onto summer in my kitchen, I’ve been reading through the latest issue of Jamie magazine. I have yet to get a subscription, but Whole Foods has it in the adult candy aisle, for a cringe-worthy $10.99, and I’m a sucker for the alternative food magazines.

jamie oliver magazine

I love almost all publications from the UK, and Jamie Oliver has long since been one of my culinary heroes. This magazine just delights me on a regular basis. Here are some of the other food magazines I love that you may not have read yet:

Alternative Food Magazines of Note

On my list, that I haven’t read yet, but know I should be: Cherry Bombe

Do you subscribe to any of these? Any others I should be reading? 

Small Comforts


This week I’ve been thinking about relaxation, and how I’m not very good at it. While I advocate self care to everyone I know, I’m not always as good at taking care of myself. Self care need not be about doing the right things all of the time, but it is about doing the right little things most of the time. Here are some of my most recent small comforts that I rely on to stay healthy and happy.

Small Comforts

1. Flowers – small, beautiful, colorful flowers. I don’t need to buy myself roses, or even a large bouquet – a single stem usually does the trick. But if you like bouquets, by all means, go all out!

2. Hot Water Bottle. I fill mine and put it under the covers to warm up the bed before I get in at night.

3. Slippers. I have the Wicked Good Moccasin from L.L. Bean. Classic. Warm and toasty.

4. Chai Hot Chocolate. I tried the kind from Starbucks this week, even though I don’t usually purchase their sweetened beverages. I was seduced by the red cups. It wasn’t terrible. (Usually I make my own with black tea, spices, and cocoa.)

5. Hot water with ginger and honey. I try to drink hot water all day long. Ginger and honey when I need a little zip.

6. Verbena Tea. I steep verbena leaves in water (technically a tisane.)

7. Baby Cacti (and other succulents). Nothing I do will kill them, and they remain bright and happy on my windowsill.

8. Eggs. In the kitchen, always.

9. Grapefruit. With a little sprinkle of maple sugar on each half. A coworker today mentioned that she had never had grapefruit. I am concerned for her well being.

10. Chocolate. For curing all the things.