Last night….


This morning….


The blog will go on with pre-scheduled posts, but I wanted to say hello.  My ability to reply to comments or visit other blogs will be limited until we fly back home next week.  We are here on scientific business, but I hope to be able to blog on a special meal we have planned this weekend.  Stay tuned, mes amis!


P&SVAL~1Paris, Valentine’s Day 2003… Restaurant Vin Sur Vin, unforgettable evening….


I  hope that you will have a wonderful evening, no matter your take on Valentine’s Day.   We are not in Paris, but we will dream about being there… and act accordingly   ;-)


ONE YEAR AGO:  A Few Blogging Issues

TWO YEARS AGO: Dan Dan Noodles

THREE YEARS AGO:  Sophie Grigson’s Parmesan Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Antibiotics and Food


Today Chief turns 15 years old!  He was just a tiny, incredibly cute puppy when I got him, but his strong personality was already evident. Whenever I corrected him with a loud and firm “NO!” he would furiously bark back at me, much like a teenager challenging the orders of a parent. To celebrate such an important milestone in the life of our dear four-legged friend,  let me share  a few pictures.

chief11This is perhaps my favorite shot of Chief ever!  Before getting married to Phil, I lived in a small house, my backyard separated from the neighbor’s by a simple wire fence. My neighbor also had a dog, a female Springer Spaniel called Maria. Chief used to squeeze through the holes of that fence very easily to play with her. At some point, I traveled to attend a meeting, and left Chief with a friend.  When I came back 10 days later, he had grown so much that passing through the holes was impossible! The photo captured well his expression of frustration faced with a reality he could not quite comprehend. ;-)

Chief2He loved to eat his treats laying over the lawn. But you can more or less read his thoughts… “Why are you taking my picture?  I am not sure I should allow it!

chiefp~1All those treats gave him strong jaws!  As an adult dog, he had no problem to deal with leftovers from a pulled pork.   The bone ended up clean as a whistle… And, in case you are wondering about that bulky thing on his collar, it is a gadget he had to wear all the time to prevent him from digging under the solid wood fence in our home in Oklahoma. Quite a digger!

CrzyMidgt3He loved playing with the hose… Still does, but his jumping days are over…

mudchiefAnd loved playing in mud almost as much. This particular photo was taken 45 minutes after a bath, and almost caused me to go into cardiac arrest.

DSCN1279Always able to find the best spot in any room…

compositeHe loved his buddy Pits, and we know his life has never been quite the same ever since we had to say goodbye to our beloved dalmatian. Pits had the patience of a saint. Seriously.

Happy Birthday, Chief, you will always be a puppy for me!


ONE YEAR AGO: Sesame and Flaxseed Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Beans with Miso and Almonds

THREE YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones



The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 280,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 12 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

(comments are shutdown for this post)


Right after Christmas 1993,  I left Brazil with the firm, but slightly far-fetched idea that I was not going back.  Many things made my departure hard.  A marriage. A lovely home. Toby, a dog I was crazy about. I could only take two pieces of luggage with me. Everything else was left behind. Books, dishes, pans, photos. But, much harder than that, family, friends, and the safety of a job at the best university in  the country.

At the time, I had no idea whether I was making the right decision.  I left São Paulo at the height of the summer, I arrived in Paris on a very cold night,  a few days short of New Year’s Eve to face months of loneliness like I had never experienced before.  I quickly realized I was fully unprepared for it, but giving up and flying back to Brazil was not an option I was willing to take. My former husband at some point told me: the struggles you are going through today, one day will be like invisible medals you will be proud to wear on your chest. Wise guy.

Twenty years flew by.  I cannot express how fortunate I feel for taking that risky first step. I do not mean this as advice, it’s rather a personal observation:  the only way to move forward is to take some risks, and to accept the idea of being very uncomfortable for a while. So, when in doubt, take a deep breath, and dive into your dreams!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
(opening line of a favorite book, read in Paris, March 1994).


Last week Mimi from “Chef Mimi” blog posted about several awards she’s received this year, and as she described her views on awards and the type of rules associated with each one, I found myself smiling and agreeing with her all the way…  We do have quite similar views on the issue, and we both wrote posts clarifying them. You can take a look at my own views by clicking here. But, what I did not expect was that she nominated me for a super cool award, the Blog of the Year 2013, and handed me not one but three stars at once!  Here is my badge, folks:

Blog of the Year Award 3 star jpeg

The instructions for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2013’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3 Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them – (please don’t alter the instructions or the badges!)

4 Come over and say hello to the originator of the ‘Blog of the Year 2013’ Award via this link –

5 You can now also join the ‘Blog of the Year’ Award Facebook page – click the link here and share your blog posts with an even wider audience.

6 And as a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog … and start collecting stars…


So, having shared all that, I will open an exception and pass this three-star award to one blogger, Sawsan from Chef in Disguise.  She blogs from Jordan, and adds so much to the food blogosphere with her knowledge of cooking,  her amazing photography, posts that are thoughtfully composed and go a lot deeper than simply sharing a recipe.  I always look forward to a new post by Sawsan, and often wonder how a woman with a very busy life – she is a orthodontist and has two  young kids – can find the time to compose such high quality posts.  I don’t know how she feels about awards, and will totally understand if she prefers not to forward them, but this is just my little token of appreciation to a wonderful woman!


And now, let me thank Mimi once more not so much for the award, but for her words about my blog, which meant a lot to me.  Of course, stating that I have a “killer accent” did not hurt either.  Every foreigner HATES his/her own accent, and I am not an exception, so a different perspective on it is more than welcome!  ;-)


Remember our old kitchen?  Well, we barely recognize the place now! Weeks of renovation struggles are over, and we could not be happier with the outcome!  So I join Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial in her series In My Kitchen revealing our new space…

In our kitchen…

Supernova1supernova2We now have a 6-burner Blue Star range, powered by gas, with a convection oven,
and a gorgeous coral-front panel… We named it Supernova ;-)

In our kitchen…

cabinetsA new look for our tired cabinets, with new front doors and a green, antique treatment to the frames.  We love the hardware too. It matches the stainless steel look of the appliances.

In our kitchen (and dining room)….

compositefloor(click to enlarge)
A new hardwood floor, light, bright, and comfy on our feet.  It has a light semi-gloss finish.  That alone made our kitchen into a completely different space, joining smoothly with the dining room next to it.

In our kitchen…

fridgeA new fridge that actually makes ice! Isn’t that something? (when this photo was taken, the new granite countertop had not been delivered yet).  But, just a couple of days later…..

countertop1A gorgeous piece of Yukon White granite, born and raised in Brazil,  found its permanent home in the center stage of our favorite place in the house. The cabinet underneath was enlarged to accommodate the bigger stone. We absolutely love this addition, it makes cooking and hanging out in the kitchen so much nicer!

In our kitchen…

IMG_3103A colorful light fixture on top of the sink…   With a window frame painted in antique yellow.
No, we are not afraid of color!  ;-)

In our kitchen…

dishrackA dish drying rack from Simple Human.  I’ve flirted with this piece for 8 years, decided it was time to get one.   Very functional, very stylish. You can change the orientation around to fit your space, and the dripping spout works like a charm…

In our kitchen…
compositetrashcanA trash can also from Simple Human, perfect size to fit in the space between the fridge and the little hall that leads to the garage.

In our kitchen…
Bosch1A Bosch dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes!  Can you imagine that?  ;-)

In our kitchen….

knivesA drawer to hold our knives, with cleverly designed inserts sold by Bed Bath and Beyond.  The storage is completely flexible, you can customize to the size of your knives and drawers.
Three inserts did the perfect job for us.

In our kitchen…

IMG_3004A drawer with wooden dividers (also from Bed Bath and Beyond) to make storage a little more organized. Don’t you love the light yellow frame that we chose for the central island cabinet?   Brought even more light to the place!

In our kitchen…

newpotA little ceramic pot that is oven-friendly, and makes me smile every time I look at it. One of those happy little containers… found it at Marshalls.

To wrap up the post, a before and after short series…



A completely new look, that matches our mood, our style, our personalities.

Now, a final message from a four-legged friend who probably struggled the most with the ordeals of the hellnovation: Chief. He stayed inside with the workers all the time, but sometimes searched for peaceful places to sleep, as far away from the noise as possible.  A laundry basket (with freshly washed garage towels), or an empty luggage seemed perfect to rest his tired body… ;-)



I hope you enjoyed the tour through the New and Revamped Bewitching Kitchen!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings

TWO YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

THREE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101