Cookery Maven Blog

Long Island On Skis & Through Snowflakes

We booked across the bay last year but this year, we decided to book it LICC-style and headed out to Long Island for a winter version of Long Island Cocktail Club. Charly, the LICC czar, decreed the ice was safe, the island was accessible and we were bad-ass enough to get ourselves, some tequila, hot dogs, brats, 5 kids and 2 dogs over to Long for an afternoon adventure.

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Sweet George & A Full Moon

The Sweetness of Dogs (Fifteen) Mary Oliver


What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself

thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.

December 31st, 2012

It was a good last day of 2012. We did it all: skiing, hiking, warming up in the hot tub and sauna, sending wish lanterns into the night sky, eating, drinking and making merry. Since the moon was void of course, we decided it would be best to hold off on any declarations of intentions until today after 11:30— it freed up a lot of time for additional eating, drinking and merriment. It was a record for me, dinner didn't hit the table until 10:52. At least it wasn't 11 o'clock, that's way too late for dinner. On the upside, we were all wide awake and full when we headed outside to light the wish lanterns in the sub-zero temperatures.

I know I've said it before but, isn't George such a handsome dog?? He had a blast running up and down the sugarbush trail and struck this pose as were headed back to the ski hill. I think in a previous life, he was definitely a movie star.

Meg is a fearless  and joyful skier (unlike her mother), she literally had a smile on her face the whole way down the hill. I can't believe how competent she has become in just a few short years.

Of course, we had sparkling wine and Rack and Riddle Blanc de Noirs is one of my favorites. It's made from primarily Pinot Noir grapes and is the most beautiful color of pink. It's more subtle (like French champagne) than most moderately priced California sparkling wine I've tasted— it's nicely balanced with citrusy and subtle wild strawberry flavors.

I was at Andy's buying snacks for the kids and saw Old Dutch puff corn was on sale. I knew exactly what to do— make a heap of caramel corn and try to restrain myself from eating the whole pile (good practice for the dietary austerity measures headed my way in 2013). While it's not the most fancy caramel corn I've eaten, it's got everything I need: sweet, salty and crunchy. I sprinkled a little Maldon sea salt on the caramel corn as it was cooling— nothing like gilding the lily, right? If your 2013 dietary plan allows some room for caramel corn, here's the recipe (link here), it's seriously good stuff.

After dinner, we bundled up and went outside to send off five (not four, I'm not a fan of even numbers) wish lanterns to welcome 2013. We couldn't have asked for a better night— it was calm, the moon was shining brightly and the stars were blanketing the night sky. At midnight, amid the fireworks a neighbor set off, a pack of coyotes welcomed in the new year with yips and howls, it was pure magic. Of course, I put the dogs inside after the serenade was over, better safe than sorry with my wild life unsavvy pack.

2012 taught me a number of lessons but the most powerful one, and one I'm carrying into 2013, was mindfulness (and conversely, mindlessness). I've learned to let what needs to go, go and to allow what needs to come in, come in. Sounds pretty simple but turning off my monkey brain has been, and continues to be, a challenge. Those moments when I'm taking my own advice and truly existing only in the present moment are enough to inspire me to keep practicing.

When I hiked to the sugarbush yesterday morning, I practiced listening to the trees, hearing the wind and watching George joyfully bound up and down the trail. It amazed me how easy it was to become an open conduit for contentment when I kept my focus soft, listened to the quiet voice inside me and felt the blessings of my life. 2013 holds such promise and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

As usual, Mary Oliver had just the right words for my hopes for 2013. She had a dog named Percy and she asked him the simple question, 'how should I live my life'? Of course, a dog would know just what to say.

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My LifeMary Oliver

Love, love, love, says Percy. And hurry as fast as you can along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep. Give up your body heat, your beating heart. Then, trust.


It is a heavy day, indeed. I pray the families in Connecticut will walk through their grief and shock into healing. It's bound to be an unimaginable journey.

Mary Oliver

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poets said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it—
books, bricks, grief—
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled—
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Sunset On Lake Superior

Mary Oliver

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway 

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

A Day Of Mindful Gratitude

I'm blessed to have a life I only dreamed of— full of people I hold dear, dogs who give me untold joy, trees who stand sentry in my yard, food that feeds my body and spirit and the natural world who reminds me to live with wonderment and gratitude every day. As I head towards the meal to end all meals tonight, I'm most looking forward to sitting in my Mom's kitchen with my wild and passionate family. There is nothing like being with people who have known you since the beginning and that's what I'm most thankful for today.


I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver's Wise Words

When Death Comes


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse 

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

~ Mary Oliver

In Blackwater Woods

In Blackwater Woods Mary Oliver

Look, the trees are turning their own bodies into pillars

of light, are giving off the rich fragrance of cinnamon and fulfillment,

the long tapers of cattails are bursting and floating away over the blue shoulders

of the ponds, and every pond, no matter what its name is, is

nameless now. Every year everything I have ever learned

in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires and the black river of loss whose other side

is salvation, whose meaning none of us will ever know. To live in this world

you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it

against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.