Engaging stories of love, joy, comfort and friendship with proven scrumptious, healthy recipes, we celebrate LOVE as the secret ingredient for wonderful food!

This is our day!!!

Valentine's Day cookies from Tribeca TreatsHappy Valentine’s Day to you!!

But our aim is to celebrate love every single day! Spread love through great food – and we can help you do that!

Here’s a neat, simple and easy trick. Make a batch of brownies but instead of cutting into rectangles, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut into hearts. So cute.
Valentine's Day brownie hearts from Tribeca TreatsThese lovely treats are from Tribeca Treats in my neighborhood by my office.

Have a fantastic day!

How do you say good-bye?

Her name is Harriet and I met her at our Unitarian Church in Summit, NJ. She became my piano teacher and really, my second mother. Think of a mother you could choose, and who chose you. Very different. She taught me how to play piano at a very late age, but sometimes our piano lessons involved nothing more about the piano than sitting close to one another in front of it. She would point out life lessons I was learning, listen to my troubles or my triumphs, and give me courage and encouragement to keep on doing what I was doing. At the time we met, our boys were seven and ten. She knew intimately our life, our help, our trials and tribulations. We went through her husband’s passing early on. Her first husband invented Play Dough, her second husband invented the Air Cast. She never lacked money, drove a stick shift 700 series BMW in those days and had two grand pianos, back to back in her living room. She raised seven kids, four of her own and three of her second husband’s.

When you choose someone to be in your life as a second parent, it is so very different. She saw me for what I am – not for what my mother wanted me to be (to stay in St. Louis nearby and have lunch and go shopping with her on Saturdays. Yuck.)

She had a huge home in Summit overlooking NYC, one in Vermont and one in Nantucket. We spent time in all of them – she was so generous. When I told her I was thinking of moving back to the city, she understood ALL that that entailed. In the middle of our move, she came over and insisted that all of our furniture for the yet to be found country house, would not go to storage at Westy’s but would go to her house until we found a place. She kept it for a year and still has a few items, five and a half years later.

She taught me to never throw away a roast duck carcass but to make duck soup (yummy), the benefits of hanging your wash out to dry (her favorite thing to do) and pointed out when I was doing things right by my kids and when I needed to do something different (not pointing out something wrong, as my own mother might do). There was a time when we were in our little temporary apartment, before moving in to NYC, that she was over for dinner every Sunday night. Such fun we had in this little dinky kitchen. She had her chair, watching me cook, and all was well. She loved my food. She once said that she would bet that my boys would always live close to us, partly because of my cooking. I sure hope she’s right.

A mutual friend once remarked that Harriet could party like a high schooler, and she could. She loved Grey Goose on the rocks, several small drinks throughout the evening, and never liked wine. She was a true party girl and full of life wisdom.

We just saw each other in early May, partied like old times, cooked her a big dinner, spent the night, and she was fine. She was 82. In late June she was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, Waldenström Macroglobulinemia, plus leukemia. This was zapping her strength and also affecting her cognitive abilities due to her blood thickening. Her natural children moved her up to a hospice house in Vermont. I had been in touch by phone and we planned to go up there this Sunday. I learned yesterday evening that she passed on Monday morning. I am so very sad. As soon as I heard, I could do nothing but go to the piano and try to play through tears. I’m so very disappointed we did not get to see her one last time.


Yesterday morning, while walking to catch a bus on upper Fifth Avenue, I saw this brownstone stoop. I thought it looked like a stairway to heaven for Harriet. I did not know then that she was gone.



Graduation time!

Dean of the Music department at The City College of New York.

Dean of the Music Department – he looks a little like Mel Brooks!

Our youngest son graduated from college last week and we’re so proud, with summa cum laude and numerous other awards, he’s heading off to Yale in August for a PhD in Eastern European History. At his graduation, of course the various Deans of the different Humanities got up to speak and the Dean of the Music Department was a real character. (check out his cap!) He’s been in that position for forty years! He stated that music was the universal language of love.

Well I say that food is the universal language of LOVE. What better way to let someone know that you love them and to show your love than through cooking, serving and sharing really delicious and healthy food?

So get on with it! Start cooking! Serve the food! Share the LOVE!

Vegetarian pasta with walnuts and spinach on a white plate.

Zach’s vegetarian dish

Exciting news!

2012 American Web Design Award presented by Graphic Design USA and sponsored by The Creative Group.
I am so happy (and proud!) to announce that this blog (http://lovethesecretingredient.net/) is a winner in the 2012 American Web Design Awards.

Of the nearly 1,000 entries, only 140 design firms or organizations were winners.

The competition is presented each year by Graphic Design USA and sponsored by The Creative Group.

You can see all the winning entries here:

85th Birthday Party

We have some friends from our congregation who have recently reached this significant age but you would never know it. One just had a huge party last night, thrown by his wife and twin sons and it was so lovely.

We were seated at a table with their friends, from his Exxon days when corporate life was lush with benefits. Their talk of living in London, Beijing, Sweden, Norway and Louisiana made me jealous of all the different foods that became a part of their life. Both of these women were supposedly good cooks, both took cooking classes in each place while raising their children. What I would give for that!

But then this one woman shared with me that she doesn’t cook much anymore, because her husband hasn’t been well and doesn’t feel like eating. I agreed with her, if you don’t have someone to share the food with you, it’s not nearly as fun. You need to share the LOVE, share the times, share the food.

85 birthday paint.

LOVE is now in South Africa!

Green spices.

I am so excited to announce that I have been invited to be a monthly contributor to Spice 4 Life, a South African online magazine for women. Spice 4 Life is ranked as one of South Africa’s most popular independently owned websites, focused on connecting and inspiring women within South Africa and internationally and currently garnering upwards of 1.9 million hits per month! They are a hub for connection and support, touching on business, family, home, health, nutrition, fashion and beauty as well as promoting active contributions to society.

My intro for LOVE – the secret ingredient was on none other than Valentine’s Day! I will be writing about a featured spice or special ingredient each month. What fun!

Their web address is http://www.spice4life.co.za/ I am on page 1 of the featured section on the home page. Please check it out and let me know what you think!