November 13, 2012

The Side Dish: What I Have Been Up To

Hello, hello! Happy November! Can someone please tell me where the year has gone? How is there only one week left until Thanksgiving? Time really needs to slow down. Seriously.

I do not have a food post for you today. Sorry. I have been cooking, but I have found myself {yet again} in a writing and photography rut and although I am not happy about it, I am slowly learning how to give myself permission to stop freaking out about it, step away and give myself some time off. Instead of continuing to be absent in this space {It has almost been a month. Yikes.}, I thought I would share what I have been up to lately: what I am reading, doing, watching and loving. It turns out that being in a blogging rut helped me re-focus and relax at the same time, and voila! a new blog post is born. 


Reading is my favorite way to unwind and relax. I have a bookshelf full of books whose pages are waiting to be turned. Fiction and memoir are my favorite genres, and I was elated when Luisa Weiss' first book, My Berlin Kitchen came out. Luisa's blog was one of the very first blogs I started reading and I count myself among her thousands of fans. Her writing is compelling, evocative and honest, and I found myself reading it as slowly as I could so I could drink in her words and make the book last longer. I normally do not re-read books, but I will definitely be re-reading Luisa's book over again and I am planning on gifting it to some friends this holiday season.

As usual, I also have my nose buried in cookbooks. The newest additions to my officially over-stuffed cookbook shelves are Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Bastianich, Ina Garten's Foolproof and the much-anticipated Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman, which I cannot. put. down. If you have serious food lovers in your life, all three of these cookbooks would make great holiday gifts. Obviously, I could not wait until Christmas to get my hands on these. Merry {early} Christmas to me!


At the end of last month, I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to spend a few days with my mom. My sister and nephew, Rocco, came up from Maryland, and our days were filled with lounging around, reading, cooking, baking and afternoon! napping! It was glorious...until I got slammed with a head cold that knocked me flat. I am so grateful that my mom helped take care of me and made sure I took my medicine and stayed hydrated. My nephew also cheered me up by playing one of his favorite iPad/iPhone games with me: Fruit Ninja! It is crazy fun and I promptly downloaded it to my iPhone when I got back home.

P.S. How cute are my nephew's fleece dinosaur feet pajamas? I wanted one for myself!

Before I got sick, we took a day trip to Belltown Hill Orchards, where we went apple and pumpkin picking. I think the last time I did this was when I was in grade school, so I was beyond thrilled to do one of my most favorite Fall activities. Fortunately, I started to feel better a couple of days before leaving my mom's, so I spent the rest of my time in Connecticut cooking and baking with her. I taught her how to make all-butter pie crust and we made the most delicious apple pie with some of the {20 pounds!} of apples we hauled home. 


After finally kicking my head cold last week, I was able to think straight again and get caught up on some things at home. 

I decorated the stone fireplace with my harvest decorations...

...and strung twinkle lights in my office. 
{I normally never break my no-Christmas-decorating-until-after-Thanksgiving rule, but I made an exception this year for my office since I spend so much time in it.}

I am also participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year. I am so excited! The other day, I received the names of the three food bloggers to whom I will be sending cookies and since then, I have been excitedly researching which cookie recipe I want to make for them. I am also gearing up for my annual Baking Extravaganza for the cookie care packages that I send to my family and friends. Butter, sugar and flour are constantly on my grocery list these days. 


Last week, when I was still feeling under the weather, I hopped on Netflix on my iPad and decided to see what Parenthood was all about. So many of my friends tweet about the show and I have been curious about it for a long time. OMG, where have I been all this time?! Clearly, I have been living under a rock. I was hooked from the pilot episode. I. Love. It. And I cannot wait to get caught up.

The other show both Peter and I are obsessed with lately is Upstairs Downstairs on PBS. Do any of you watch it? It is in its second season, but I am not sure if you can see Season 1 on the PBS website or iPad app yet. If you can, grab yourself a glass of vino, settle in and start from the beginning because the story line is delicious. It is an excellent show. And for those of you watching: Can you believe Percy?!  Mercy.

A couple of weeks ago, I caved and started watching the Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas movies. I absolutely love them, even if some of the plots are a little cheesy. Watching these movies has become my favorite way to unwind in the evenings before bed. My favorites are the sappy romantic movies and the movies with animals. Have you seen A Dog Named Christmas and Call Me Mrs. Miracle? Pass the Kleenex.


Panettone is now out! I bought mine and I cannot wait to slice into it. I never open my Panettone until after Thanksgiving, so I hid it in the coat closet so I would not be tempted to eat it. If you have never eaten panettone before, you are in for a treat. It is a tall, dome-shaped, sweet yeasted bread that Italians eat only during the Christmas season for dessert, breakfast or a snack. A good panettone will have a feathery-textured crumb. Traditional panettone is studded with candied orange peel and plump, juicy raisins, but you can also find panettone with chocolate chips, or topped with coarse sugar crystals and whole almonds. Panettone makes a knockout french toast as well as a wonderful bread pudding. Give it a try!

Avocado Toast with my morning coffe = favorite breakfast {until I open my panettone, that is. Then panettone will be my favorite breakfast.}

Taking pictures of my sweet Irish girl never gets old.

This time of year, I always start dreaming of going to New York City to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, ice skating in Rockefeller Center, and watching the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting. Maybe someday...


One year ago this month, I met my favorite culinary chef and celebrity, Lidia Bastianich. It was the highlight of my holiday!

I have had so much fun writing this post for you! I will be back soon with a recipe. I hope you are all making sure to enjoy the days leading up to the biggest food holiday. Remember not to stress out too much and make sure to have fun. See you back here soon!


Comments (12)

Howdy! This post could not be written any better!
Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate!
He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him.
Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by

I'm so glad you received your #fbcookieswap cookies! I love meeting new bloggers, so I'll definitely be stopping back! Happy Holidays!


Loved reading this! Your fireplace & office look so pretty & I am craving panettone! Hope you are well!!

Posted by Aggie

What a wonderful roundup of beautiful photos and text! You are one busy woman!


Beautiful post, Flavia! Had so much fun having both my girls visit!

Posted by Cristina (Mom)

So fun catching up on all you've been up to!

I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself regarding blogging recipes. I'd love to see what you've been cooking, even if it's just a simple instagram picture and a recipe. Looking forward to your next post!

Posted by Annalise

Glad you're feeling better. I love Pandoro which is another Christmas tradition. You can never have too many puppy (no matter what age) pictures. I didn't think I could commit to the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year. Hopefully next year I'll be able to.


Due to school, I haven't been able to do leisure reading for a while. But I plan on catching up on a book or two during break!
I joined The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap as well. I'm so excited!
Happy Holidays!

Posted by Stephanie

Flavia, glad to hear you are well! And Panettone french toast is simply to die for! :-)

Posted by Julie

So fun catching up with you!! Love that you got to visit your mom, decorate your house, make pie, read and relax. Happy Pannetone season!!! We will be picking ours up soon. ;-)


I loved this little view into your life and all the fun things that you've been doing :)

Posted by Kathryn

Love this post, Flavia! It's fun to see what you've been up to and I love your fall decorations! Glad you are feeling better :).

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