Improvised Life » food + cooking If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:50:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Street Entrepeneur Crab Man Mike + Our Faux Aioli Recipe Mon, 11 Aug 2014 20:00:27 +0000

Sally Schneider

While on our NYC stay cation, we'll get a hit of the Maryland shore by stopping by legendary Crab Man Mike's stand in Harlem, where he cooks up batches of crabs, shrimp and lobsters on his rigged propane cooker. We love Mike’s seafood room temperature, dunked in our Faux Aioli (garlic mayonnaise), for an American South/French fusion. Here’s more about the amazing Mike and our recipe.]]> 0
Cedar Planked Salmon for the Grill Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:47:37 +0000

Sally Schneider

Our friend Holton Rower has been learning about cooking salmon on a cedar plank on his Weber grill through trial-and-error, a method we totally endorse.  His first go wasn’t completely successful but it was clear that the cedary smoke is a perfect marriage with salmon. If you don’t have wood coals to cook over, cedar planks are a great way to achieve woodsmoke flavor. Holton learned quickly and his recent try was a huge success. Here’s how he did it (and what he/we learned). (more…)

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Sea Shell Printed Cookies and Pie Crusts Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:29:10 +0000

Catherine Gratwicke

While putting together our post on Sea Shell Salt Cellars the other day, we stumbled on this lovely idea: impressing cookie or pie dough with a small ridged scallop (or other) sea shell. Then we wondered what to we recommend that we KNOW will take the impression? H-m-m-m.

Eh voila! Our friends at Kitchen Repertoire’s Sand Dollar Sables look just perfect… (more…)

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Cherry Season’s Perfect Desserts Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:54:15 +0000

Maria Robledo

We can’t remember a cherry season lasting SO long, with such an abundance of plump cherries. If we owned a restaurant, a bowl of iced cherries would be our featured dessert. (It’s also the perfect, surprising, understated end to a dinner party.) There is little better… …except perhaps (more…)

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DIY Fake Fingernail (Vegetable) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:00:24 +0000

Holton Rower

Holton Rower sent us his latest off-the-cuff improvisation, done while making dinner: an inspired fake fingernail made of celery.

Hmmm. Wondering about that exact moment when Holton SAW the possibilities in an ordinary stalk of celery.


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Kitchen Repertoire’s Charming, Doable, Delish Recipes Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:19:19 +0000

Dana Gallagher

Our old friends from the food world Frances Boswell and Dana Gallagher have teamed up to create a lovely labor-of-love blog called Kitchen Repertoire. Their simple mandate is a breath of fresh air:

We are 20 year veterans of the magazine industry; a food editor and a photographer. We live real lives with kids and families and careers.

Time is short and finding inspiration in the little things makes the day easier.

We hope having a repertoire to pull from will help you find more joy in your day.


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Ordinary Joy. The Joy of Ordinary and…Linden Tea. Thu, 26 Jun 2014 08:05:34 +0000

Courtesy of Steidl/ Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

On Friday morning, we were blasted out of our normal routine by a call from a friend in dire straits. With that, we abruptly entered another world: of Emergency Room and hospital…different air, vibration, requirements altogether as life and death co-existed (as they always do) but now we felt them clearly.  Priorities reordered instantly: many things had to be set aside in order to help, keep vigil, suss doctors, make food, comfort…we hoped that all else would take care of itself, or others would take care of it…

We posted sporadically and still notices of new subscriptions kept appearing from strangers who seemed to be saying, It’s all fine. Take some time. We’re there!

In the midst of it, going to or coming home from the hospital, we were aware of the scent of linden in the air. (more…)

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Recipe: Fast-and-Furious Peas in their Pod (No Shucking!) Fri, 20 Jun 2014 08:05:05 +0000

Christopher Hirscheimer

It is peak pea season and we can’t think of a better, easier, more delightful way to eat them than this simple recipe from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 3: Winter & Spring. Unshucked peas-in-their-pods are cooked in a hot cast-iron skillet until blistered. Then you just salt and eat: the perfect hors d’oeuvre for a summer evening.

“The idea is to pull the peas out of the pods with your teeth, just as you would eat an artichoke leaf. The charred bits of the pod and the salt sticks to your lips, flavoring the tender peas.”


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How to Keep Cast-Iron Cookware Naturally Nonstick Mon, 16 Jun 2014 20:00:50 +0000

This image of vintage cast-iron reminded us how much we love the endlessly-useful, impossible-to-destroy cookware. We’ve been using it for years having inherited many pieces from friends or relatives. It provides the even heat of heavy copper cookware at a fraction of the cost.  We use a 10- year-old griddle to heat tortillas, small skillets to fry eggs, our classic big skillet to hot smoke salmon, and a big 12-inch Finnish Littala pan (below) to make our faux-fried bricked chicken

If properly cared for, cast-iron will build up a naturally nonstick surface that can take the place of commerical nonstick cookware, (more…)

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A Strawberry from Flower to Fruit (with Recipes) Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:38:04 +0000

(Video link HERE.We recommend turning the music off while you watch this tiny miracle: a strawberry comes into being from flower to fruit.

Since strawberries are in season (and went through such an amazing process of becoming), we’re going to the farmer’s market to buy some REAL ones. We’ll savor them (more…)

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Wine Wise Guy Anthony Giglio Answers Your Questions About Wine Thu, 12 Jun 2014 22:30:24 +0000

EVERYONE we know has questions about wine and the best person we know for answers is Anthony Giglio, aka The Wine Wise Guy, an Improvised Life contributor and of late, wine blogger for Details. Anthony is the guy who pioneered using wine-friendly frozen grapes to chill a glass of wine without diluting the flavor. We excerpted a key fast-chill method for a whole bottle, below. His weekly Details column answers such perplexing questions as Do Those Wine-Aerator Gadgets Really Work?(more…)

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Sliced Sugar Snap Peas with Shaved Parmigiano Fri, 06 Jun 2014 08:12:51 +0000

Maria Robledo

I’ve never tired of the classic Italian formula of a raw vegetable — most commonly arugula, thinly sliced fennel or raw baby artichoke hearts — dressed with olive oil, lemon and thin shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. One day when I was looking around my market, I thought, “Why not try not making it with sugar snap peas?”

I sliced the sugar snaps on an extreme diagonal to reveal the tiny peas hidden within and applied the basic dressing to make a quick, surprising play on the classic hors d’oeuvre. It’s a perfect recipe: at once rustic and sophisticated, easy for even the novice cook, with the bright appeal of a plate of fresh peas. Sugar snaps are in season now. (more…)

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Recipe + Improvisations Fri, 30 May 2014 08:12:47 +0000

Suzanne Shaker

Last Saturday, interior designer Suzanne Shaker emailed us images of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble she was making at her wondrous Shelter Island home. The recipe is from Sally’s cookbook A New Way to Cook. On Sunday, Suzanne sent a follow-up email with a gluten-free improvisation she’d made on the basic recipe. We’re publishing the recipe, below, along with Suzanne’s tweaks and raves, for an easy tart-like rhubarb dessert just in time for the last of rhubarb’s fleeting season.


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Maya Angelou’s Wise Words about Life and Table Thu, 29 May 2014 23:00:31 +0000

Maria Robledo

On Wednesday, Maria Robledo sent us this image of a quote by writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou:

Sitting down to a table is one of the few times we can be intimate with one another.

We were stunned by Angelou’s words. We believe them deeply, but had not consciously realized that what happens when people sit together at table is truly “intimacy”, until we read her perfect quote.  We planned to write about that idea — about making a space and time to sit at table, and just how valuable and potent an act it is —when the following day, yesterday, we learned that Angelou had passed away.

The women had a WAY with words and with living. So we’ve selected a few here as tribute. (more…)

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