Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Food shopping in Rome is an adventure. The fruit, the produce, the cheese, the flowers all beckon......buy me, buy me. It is hard to have restraint.
Spring is artichoke season, and the artichokes in Rome are something special.

At the open air markets in Rome the vendors clean the artichokes as you wait. This is routine and a great service. I purchased these gorgeous long stem artichokes at the outdoor market in the San Calisto piazza .
I also purchase fresh mint, lemon , parsley and garlic.
My mission was to make Roman style artichokes, which I had sampled in a few restaurants here in Rome.

An amazing display of the spring season's signature item....the artichoke!

From our home kitchen I have adapted the recipe for Roman style artichokes to fit the type of artichoke we have available in our local American markets. This can never taste as good as an artichoke purchased, prepared and eaten in Rome, but then who would expect it to! This variation is really quite good and fairly easy to prepare.

ARTICHOKES in the style of Rome

4 fresh artichokes
1 lemon sliced plus juice of 1 lemon for water bath
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint ( additional mint for garnish)
2 cloves of garlic sliced thin or chopped
2 tablespoon chopped parsley chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

In Rome, artichokes are prepared and served whole. For this recipe the artichokes
are cut in half which makes cleaning out the 'choke' much easier.

Have a bowl of iced water ready, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the water.
Snap off the tough outer leaves from the artichoke. Trim stem, leaving as much as possible.
Cut artichoke in half ( long ways/ top to bottom). Cut off the top inch , more or less, of each artichoke.
With some care, remove the choke from the core of the artichoke .
Place prepared artichokes in the ice water bath until needed.

Remove artichokes from water bath. Pat dry the cut sides and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle a bit of mint on each ( using about 1 tablespoon of the chopped mint).
Find a pot that will hold them quite snug . Place them stem end up , face -to-face, looking as if they were whole artichokes.
Distribute the sliced garlic around the artichokes . Scatter the remaining chopped mint. parsley and lemon slices around the artichokes.
Drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil .
Add the water and wine. If you do not use wine add an additional 1/4 cup water (or chicken stock).
Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer until bottoms are fork tender,
about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from burner and let rest, still covered, for 5-10 minutes.
Remove artichokes from pot.

Serve with a generous drizzle of olive oil , a sprinkle of mint, a bit of salt and pepper and a quick squeeze of lemon is nice.

These can be served warm or at room temperature. They can be served as a first course or as a side to an entree.


I am Interested to know if you try this recipe or have other artichoke recipes .


We are adding a second blog. The new blog will be art centric.
James will be at the helm.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Along with this blog we will be adding new blog
We will keep you posted!!!!!!!!!

James & Elizabeth

Sunday, March 20, 2011


According to our calendar today, March 20 is the first day of spring.
During the past few weeks it has been routine for me to go to the window looking to see if the witch hazel has blossomed . Everyday looking, hoping for the first hint of a yellow flower emerging on a branch.
Waiting, waiting, waiting and watching.

Finally today , Primavera, , this first day of spring the flowers appeared!
We planted this witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia), 'arnold promise', for two very good reasons. The first very good reason is that is such an early bloomer here in NH. The other reason we chose this particular variety is that it was developed at the Arnold Arboretum.

Near to the witch hazel are these two Adirondack chairs that we purchased many years ago from a workshop in Brooklin, Maine. Much of the winter they were buried in deep snow. Over the winter after each storm we watched them as a measure of snow depths. Now they become a measure of snow melt! They have at last freed themselves from the winter.


The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
is the oldest public arboretum in North America
For further information go to their website:

Monday, March 14, 2011

From Our Sketchbooks

The sketchbook is a journal, a diary that transports you to a moment in time. It recalls a visual statement that has been put on to a sheet of paper.

James was struck by the quiet of this garden in a busy city (Rome). The way this garden structure framed the distant building nestled into greenery was or interest to him. So, this simple line drawing captured that moment.

Both James and I both keep sketchbooks and pencils at hand.
The study of 'Helen Elizabeth' poppies came from my garden sketches. It may remain simply as a sketch but I am considering incorporating the image into a painting sometime in the future.

I did this very quick sketch of peonies at the flower market in the Campo de Fiori in Rome. The market is a fascinating place, with endless subject matter. Flowers, fruits, vegetables... all devine!
It is remarkable what you really observe about a place, person, an object, landscape, garden or architecture when you draw it.

What is it that captures a person's interest about a place, object, etc., enough to record it in a sketchbook?
For James & I drawing is essential. Observing, recording , note taking & interpreting on paper and canvas is part of daily life here in our studios as well as when we are away from our studios.
Drawing is thinking. It is like meditation, it seems to slow life done for a time.

Carry a sketchbook, you never know what you might see.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evoking Japan

I was in a green house yesterday looking for spring. What I found were these 2 Japanese umbellas . I stopped. My thoughts awakened to the people of Japan . When I think of Japan it is often in terms of the culture and beautiful gardens created by their people. Now, the country is ravaged, the people of Japan suffering great loss and hardship.
Our hearts and thoughts go to Japan and it's people.