Sometimes figuring out what you didn’t tell me is the most difficult part. Most of the emails that I get are not long, but even the long ones leave out important details. It’s difficult to tell the whole story and the whole truth because we all interpret our problems and filter them leaving out the stuff that hurts too much or things we feel bad about especially about ourselves.

Somethings are too hard to be completely honest about even to ourselves. That’s a problem a lot of people have. Maybe you can’t be completely honest with anyone else but, if you ask someone for advice it will only be as good as the honest amount of information that you are willing to share when you ask for help. It may feel like you’re taking too big a chance being honest with other people, but nothing will ever change if you don’t take the chance and let yourself be vulnerable with other people.

do it right

inside tips from great cooks…

  • do as much prep the day and night before and cook with no stress
  • cook small things at high temp for a short time, for example mini-muffins bake at 500 degrees for  4 minutes!
  • store spices away from light, humidity and heat so that they won’t lose their flavor
  • instead of cutting try a microplane to shave veggies right into the salad
  • for perfect pasta try cooking it one minute less than the instructions and cook the drained pasta in the sauce the rest of the way
  • make something new along with your old favorites when you entertain
  • after cooking with garlic rub your hands around a stainless steel sink before washing them it should remove the garlic odor
  • after making sunny side up eggs add sherry vinegar to the empty pan and deglaze the pan, then drizzle it over the eggs


once is enough

Mom- I’m going crazy because I have a friend who beats a dead horse all the time. He talks about the same problem constantly. How can I get him to stop telling me the same thing over and over?

This sounds like an easy problem, it’s not…because part of being a good friend is being a good listener. You need to set a time limit in your mind and then nicely say, let’s deal with this once and for all time. Make it clear that you are going to thoroughly talk about the  pros and cons of something and it’s over, time to move on.

enjoy it

Dear Mom, I have a friend who has a lot more money than I do and she buys me gifts that are more expensive than the gifts that I buy her. Should I try to match her gifts or refuse to take them when she gives me a gift?

Of course not. You should accept the gift and remember it’s not the cost, but the thought that goes into the gift that really matters. In the future you can limit gifts to a certain price, or make favorite home-made treat for each other or treat each other to a good lunch and matinee movie.


sorbet so good

I know that the stores have pencils, paper and notebooks out already, but I love everything about summer, so it’s not over until the last minute of the last day… and there are a few things that I want to do before the summer is over…making fresh fruit sorbet is one of those things the recipe is below…

How to make Lemon Sorbet (without an ice cream maker)
Makes 2 pints, or about 5 cups


1 3/4 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons if you can find them)

1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar, and boil until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest, then pour into a bowl, transfer mixture to a 9×13 metal baking pan. Freeze until firm (about 2 to 3 hours), stirring with a fork every half hour.

Strawberry or Raspberry Sorbet without an ice cream maker (makes almost 3 cups)


1 pound (4 cups) ripe, flavorful strawberries

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons strawberry (or raspberry) preserves

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1/3 cup water

equipment- Food processor or blender

Rinse and hull the berries and put them in a food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of the preserves and the salt. Purée until smooth.

Add the lemon juice and water and pulse to mix. Taste and add the remaining jam as necessary for sweetness and adjust the lemon juice and salt if necessary. The purée should taste a little bit sweeter than you think it should.

Scrape the mixture into a shallow layer in a shallow pan, cover, and freeze until hard, 3 to 4 hours.

Break the frozen mixture into chunks with a fork and process in the food processor or blender until there are no more frozen pieces. Continue to process, stopping to redistribute the mixture from time to time, until it is smooth and creamy and lightened in color.

It may be frozen enough to serve right out of the food processor, or you can return it to the freezer until needed. If the sorbet freezes too hard, let it soften in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or carefully soften it in the microwave on the defrost setting, a few seconds at a time.

working together

My emails have been full of problems asking for advice about the trouble that lots of people are having with friendships, relationships and the people that they are spending time with. Some of these emails are difficult to answer because many times there are important details missing. I’m not sure if people leave out the important details on purpose or not, but something that is true for everyone is that life is too short to spend time with people who are hurting you or making your life harder, sadder and sucking the happiness out of you.

Most of the time you can’t solve a problem alone, you need to work on it together. It’s also ok to stop spending time with the wrong people. If someone wants you in their life they will make you feel wanted. If you are constantly pushing so that someone will make room for you or time for you in their life, this person doesn’t want to give you a place in their life.

It’s easy to be with someone when they are at their best, but the ones who stand by you when things seem like they couldn’t be any worse are real friends.

reuse it

recycle and reuse…some good ideas

wine bottle or corks-

  • use wine bottles to keep your boots standing up straight
  • fill bottles with sand and use as bookends
  • send guests home with a bit of their favorite wine in the bottle
  • use a full, sealed bottle as a rolling pin
  • use corks to hold earrings
  • put a cork on the tip of a very sharp knife or tool
  • slice corks very thin a put them on the bottom of chair legs, metal trivets, vases and anything that can scratch your tables or floors

shoe organizer-

  • clear plastic shoe organizers are perfect for keeping socks, tights, scarves and belts separate
  • in the bathroom organize soaps, shampoo and conditioner, razor, lotions and creams in their own pocket
  • a sturdy organizer is perfect for wine bottles, glasses and napkins, storing paints, brushes, art supplies or craft supplies or ribbon, scissors, tape and bows
  • Hang them on the back of a door or decorate it and hang it on a wall

 cotton swabs- 

  • clean anything with lots of crevices and small spaces
  • freeze wet swabs and use on puffy eyes
  • use to paint or fill in small scratches
  • clean the battery contacts of phones, laptops and tablets with a little alcohol on a swab
  • use a clean swab to apply ointment or cream to a bite, cut or scratch instead of using your fingers

keep your distance

Dear Ask Mom- I have a friend who depends on me too much. I’m starting to feel suffocated what can I do?

Reassure your friend that he/she is just fine on their own and doesn’t always need your advice. Make yourself less available and suggest other people that can help. Make some distance between you for a little while and when your friend realizes that he/she doesn’t need you for everything, you can start spending more time together without feeling smothered.

no competition

Dear Mom, I just met a friend of a friend who is so competitive that I can’t stand to spend time with my friend when this other person is around. How can I spend time with my friend and the other person without letting her ruin the whole time together?

Competitive people are usually insecure and it takes two people to compete. Don’t get caught up in it. If you know that she is always going to try to one-up you or start a competition stop it before it gets started by saying, “we’re both really lucky” or “that’s really great” and change the subject. She can’t be competitive if there’s no one to compete with…

start tossing

if you have ever ruined a good salad with bad dressing you need to read this…

Here’s How: Make Any Salad Dressing

Equipment: All you need is a mixing bowl and a whisk (or two forks)

The VinegarThe first ingredient in salad dressing is always vinegar. Use red wine or white wine vinegar, both flavorful but relatively mellow choices. For special-occasion salads, champagne, sherry vinegar and balsamic.  You can also use lime juice or lemon juice, or even the juice from a freshly squeezed orange. Depending on how much you like vinegar or lemon juice, you can cut the acidity in two ways: adding more oil or throwing in pinches of salt.

The Oil-Oil stands out in salad dressings, so opt for your most delicious, high-quality oil. We always use extra virgin olive oil in our dressings. Walnut or sesame oil can change the flavor of your dressing. We always say to add oil to your taste, so really do try the dressing as you go, pouring oil slowly into the vinegar, whisking all the while, until the balance of flavors is exactly what you like. The best way to sample your dressing while it’s in progress? On a lettuce leaf–exactly what you’ll eat it on later.

The CreaminessThe simplest way to adjust the level of creaminess in your salad dressing is to add a spoonful of mayonnaise to your oil-vinegar mixture. Mayo already contains oil that’s been emulsified with an egg yolk. You can also whisk a creamy cheese, like blue cheese or goat cheese, into the the dressing at the end.

The FlavoringsThe simplest flavor additions are shallot and garlic. Mince shallot finely and cut garlic even more finely so that it turns into a paste. To mellow the taste a bit, marinate the shallot in vinegar while cooking the rest of the meal. Chopped fresh herbs are another way to add flavor, we add capers and olives.

this is from a series by Ina Garten titled Here’s How Series