A Hudson Valley Weekend


As we begin to close in on the last weekends of summer I jumped at the invitation for a weekend upstate shared among friends. The cool mountain air, quiet afternoons for reading and home cooked meals filled my soul and recharged my batteries. We stayed in this amazingly redesigned Catskills home where nature was the framed art and dancing light our whimsical entertainment. Now the only problem I have is how to stop day dreaming of this peaceful place at the end of the road between tucked between a mountain and a creek…

A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley.

 This summer I have been reading photographer Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still. There are some books I read on my kindle and then some I have to physically buy so that I can mark them up, make notes in the margins and revisit or even research what I find among the pages. One of my favorite underlined parts so far: 

“Because I am still that girl when it comes to developing film. There is nothing better than the thrill of holding a great negative, wet with fixer, up to the light. And, here’s the important thing: it doesn’t even have to be a great negative. You get the same thrill with any negative; with art, as someone once said, most of what you have to do is show up. The hardest part is setting the camera on the tripod, or making the decision to bring the camera out of the car, or just raising the camera to your face, believing, by those actions, that whatever you find before you, whatever you find there, is going to be good. And, when you get whatever you get, even if it’s a fluky product of that slipping-glimpser vision that de Kooning celebrated, you have made something. Maybe you’ve made something mediocre- there’s plenty of that in any artist’s cabinets- but something mediocre is better than nothing, and often the near-misses, as I call them, are the beckoning hands that bring you to perfection just around the blind corner.” 

A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. A group of friends spend the weekend upstate in the Hudson Valley. Continue reading “A Hudson Valley Weekend”

Cookie Monster!

Every now and then you come across extraordinary people who turn horrific experiences into positive outcomes. Loren Brill lost her mom to cancer after fighting it herself at age 22, how fitting that her job is to make life sweeter for the rest of us. Her company Sweet Loren’s slogan:

Taste the Sweet Life”- I think I will… 

Photos at home in the kitchen with Loren Brill for The Daily, great article by Brill Bradley!

Sweet Loren’s featured for The Daily, above cookies and brownies went in my belly.

End-of-Summer Blueberry Pie

~Molly & Jamie At the Green Market~

From Chef Molly:

Summer has flown by, but it was a wonderful one! So many sunny days and gorgeous, warm nights. Realizing there were precious few weeks before the change of seasons started to take hold, I decided to host a little end-of-summer gathering for my friends. Just the thought of fall made me nostalgic and longing for my favorite summer treats such as lobster rolls and corn on the cob. So, for my party, I decided to make the ultimate summer delicacy: blueberry pie.

This version is adapted from a Martha Stewart. Granted, not much needed to be changed! I just tweaked a couple of things here and there and I made the pastry dough by hand. It’s a bit more work, but your efforts are well worth it. The crust is buttery and flakey, and the filling is juicy and sweet. I served my pie warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream. It was a delicious farewell to a beautiful summer!


2 1/2 cups flour (plus more for dusting)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces

ice water (1/4-1/2 cup)

Thoroughly mix together the dry ingredients. Add the cold pieces of butter. Using two knives, cut the butter in to the flour. Be patient, this will take about 5-10 minutes. The mixture should resemble very coarse sand with a few larger pieces of butter.

At this point, start adding cold water to the dough a tablespoon or two at a time. Use your hands to start bringing the dough together. Once the mixture begins to come together, turn it out onto a dry surface and quickly work the dough into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap with saran. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.


3 pints blueberries, washed and picked over

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 425. Grease a 9” pie plate and put aside. Cut the chilled dough in half keeping the reserved piece in the refrigerator. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a circle, rotating and lifting the dough off of the surface after every roll of the pin (this will help you roll an even circle and will help prevent the dough from sticking). Add a little dusting of flour as you go, if needed.

When the dough is about 1/8” thick, roll the dough onto your rolling pin and place over the prepared pie plate. Let the dough gently settle into the pan and then press it lightly into the dish. Place in the refrigerator and bring out the reserved half of the dough. Repeat the rolling procedure. Using a serrated pastry wheel (pizza rollers work very well) cut the dough into 1” strips.

Take the pie plate out of the refrigerator and fill with the blueberry mixture. Lay the strips vertically across the pie leaving about 1” between each strip. Weave the remaining strips horizontally across the pie to create a braided lattice.

Brush with egg wash and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the blueberries are bubbling.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream.

~ Recipe and words by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!

Adventures in Cooking~

I found this post by Salt & Fat on The Wonders of Fresh Ricotta last week and was immediately excited. I had no idea it was this easy and inexpensive to make ricotta at home and the out come was wonderfully billowy, soft, subtle delicious cheese.


1 quart whole milk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about half a lemon, make sure to pick out the seeds)

The first thing you want to do is line a colander with some cheesecloth then put the colander over a bowl — this is good preparation and important because things happen quickly once you start. Now, bring the whole milk, cream and salt to a full boil on about medium high and make sure to stir regularly with a spatula to keep the milk from scorching.

Once it’s boiling, add the lemon juice and give the mixture a quick stir to incorporate the juice then turn the heat down to medium to maintain a simmer. Stir gently for another two minutes, you’ll see the mixture start to separate into solid milk curds and liquid whey.

*I actually let it sit with the heat off for about 10-15 mins before moving on to the next step

After it looks like everything has separated, pour the mixture into your cheesecloth lined colander. You can let it drain like this for an hour or so, I like to tie the cheesecloth up and hang it over my sink to let gravity help extract any lingering whey.

Oh no, we didn’t stop there. What’s a better vessel for fresh ricotta than wrapped in homemade pasta! I’ve always wanted to make homemade pasta because it sounded so simple. 3 ingredients and a lot of back work (unless you’re lucky enough to have a machine) and it truly is better than anything you can buy at the store. It’s also fascinating to me that I had all the ingredients at home to make this so it doesn’t get cheaper than that.

I used 3 1/3 cups of flour, 4 eggs and a pinch of salt. We took turns kneading it and added about 1/8 of a cup of water to help it along in the process. We kneaded it for about 15 mins until that dough was beggin us to stop.

A lot of rolling, rolling, rolling on the river. You want to get it as thin as possible.

And that’s it! We stuffed it with our fresh ricotta, sealed the edges with some melted butter and dropped them in boiling water (3 at a time) for about 3 mins (they float when they are done).

Oh.. and.. Molly taught me about garlic at our last food shoot, the purple means it’s really good. That’s a lot of purple on this garlic so I had to take a picture.

We made a simple meat sauce and served it with some crusty bread and I was stuffed!

I had about 1/2 the dough left over so the next night we rolled it out again this time cutting it into strips and serving it with some toasted pine nuts and fish with a white wine, lemon, butter sauce and some fresh arugula on top… This is making me hungry.