Nov 30, 2015

New England Ginger


There's something deeply meditative about visiting a farm, but especially come late November in New England. Mid-afternoon brings sunset, covering the landscape in gold light; blue shadows nestle around the few kales and mustards still growing. Most farms are breathing a sigh of relief after the busy market season, when the fields are overflowing and farmers hustle to get it all harvested, processed, and sold. There's a lovely hush to late November in New England—a lullaby of frosts that signal it's time to put the farm to bed. We gather for Thanksgiving: eat till our bellies are over-full, then drink tea, maybe with a splash of bourbon and a dash of ginger; go to bed early.


Oct 26, 2015

Elixir of Life: Homemade Chartreuse


Right before the first frost hit last weekend, I went out to my tiny porch and "harvested" all of the herbs I'd been growing in window boxes. 

Sep 24, 2015

From Scratch: Pumpkin Cake & Silk Gowns


It was a cold day in early December when my mom and I entered our first bridal boutique. A woman greeted us wearing six inch heels, tight black trousers and a silver slinky blouse. She led us around the quiet store that was lined with gowns glittering in the afternoon light. Soon I found myself undressing next to this high-heeled woman and then climbing into a gown whose price tag had a lot of numbers on it. Stepping out of the dressing room, my mother smiled and I stared curiously at myself in the mirror thinking about the idea of summer. It wasn't even Christmas yet and I was trying on dresses that'd I'd need to wear six months later. Dresses, plural, that would become dress, singular, that I'd wear for just one day.

Walking down the street afterwards we discussed the pros and cons of the various styles, the outfit of the sales woman (those heels! and she was already tall!) the beads, the silk, the lace. I mentioned the idea of finding a cup of coffee. What if I made your dress? My mom said.

Aug 21, 2015

Horseradish for Sweetness


"The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold." As Apollo reported from the Delphic oracle, found in Waverly Root's book Food, 1903
Last Wednesday, on a brief 24 hour visit to my parents house in Maine, I realized that August is truly the hour of harvest - at least in Maine, where wild blueberries coat the fields in sweetness, and vegetables beg to be brought inside and eaten.

Jul 31, 2015

Wild Cocktails

So much has happened over the last month that I find it awkward to write - like picking up an instrument I used to play and trying to remember what keys to press to make it go. So I'm married! And I could not have asked for a more enchanting & heart-burstingly beautiful wedding weekend, so full of love, good food and music that is all still ringing in my ears a month later. And the best take away? My kickass husband. I will share photos soon, I promise. For now: here's a relaxing site:

Jun 11, 2015

Mint to clear the Mind

This morning I embarked on an unnecessary but entirely necessary wedding project: strawberry mint shrub. 

May 18, 2015

Salad Manifesto

Last May I had just arrived home from my trip to Asia when I told Mark I was leaving again to spend a week volunteering on an herb farm. But you just got home! he said (completely fairly; I'd been away for 4 months). My odd but honest response? I need to dig in the dirt.

Spring is a struggle for me; when I feel ungrounded I find it helpful to actually spend time with the ground—planting things, moving dirt around, uncovering life.

We had just gotten engaged, and I had just barely unpacked three suitcases full of mortar and pestles, decorative Thai silks and every spice southeast Asia had to offer, when I drove south to work with a woman named Eva on her herb farm. It was only a week, but Eva and her farm brought me back to center. I pulled weeds, shaped beds, spread hay, thinned lettuces, watered greenhouses, hauled wheelbarrows, found ticks in my socks, got blisters, moved rocks, planted potatoes and even ate a fried seagull egg but most of all I ate salad. A LOT OF AMAZING SALAD.


Farmer Eva taught me the glories contained in a good salad, with lots of lively herbs, and I am so grateful. Even now, without an incredible garden to pick from, I can pull together a salad quickly and easily remembering her motto: You can never combine too many herbs and greens.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm now just six weeks away from fitting into a hand-sewn wedding dress (by my amazing mother) that's driven me salad-crazy; or maybe it's the fact that New England has finally transformed from a white snow castle into a green and edible wonderland. But health and seasons aside, making and eating salad is a rejuvenating activity—one that I plan to practice far into the future. 


My 2015 SALAD MANIFESTO:

  1. Choose vegetables you like.
  2. Prepare ahead! Peel, chop and cook as many vegetables & store 'em in the fridge.
  3. Have plenty of lemons on hand for simple lemon & olive oil vinaigrette. So fresh!
  4. Use great olive oil.
  5. Use more herbs than you think necessary.
  6. Remember that warm salads are a thing (especially with grains.)
  7. Toss the salad gently.
  8. Add spices for texture and flavor.
  9. Remember that salad is like love; it's only as good as you make it.
  10. Eat beautiful salad every day.

Jars of salad-ready vegetables to store in the fridge.

Asparagus & egg salad

Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal, uses the "prepare ahead" method to have plenty of vegetables on hand for every meal. Her method:

"Each week I buy whole bunches of the leafiest, stemmiest vegetables I can find. Then I scrub off the dirt, trim off their leaves, cut off their stems, peel what needs peeling, and cook them all at once. By the time I've finished, I've drawn a map of the week's meals..."

       It's all about that bit of effort spent once a week in breaking down the vegetables and cooking them (boiling, roasting, etc) so they are ready to go. If salad making is an art, then having the ingredients prepped and ready is like having the paint on your palate. From there it's just a colorful creation that follows Michael Pollan's mantra: "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."

            What is your favorite salad?

May 1, 2015

Turmeric Craze & an Easy Elixir


Awash in a fragrant humidity, we began our trek through the spice forest outside of Goa, India.


It was mid-morning, and after a twisting ride with frequent wrong turns and rolled-down windows with arms pointing in every direction, we had arrived at the Savoi Plantation, a 200 year old organic spice plantation. 

Apr 22, 2015

Not peppercorns


They aren't peppercorns, but they have a peppery flavor. They aren't pink, exactly, but rather red. Still, we call them "pink peppercorns" and the French call them baie rose which means "pink berry." In the U.S. we have a frozen yogurt company called Pink Berry, but as far as I know this spice is not available as a topping. But! If they only knew...


...that the berries of Schinus molle, or Schinus terebinthifolius, both species of the cashew tree family, have an incredible floral flavor - sweetly rosy and peppery - but without the hot bite of true peppercorns. I would go to Pink Berry immediately if I knew they had spices like this as a topping. But they aren't just good on ice-cream —

Mar 18, 2015

Scent of the Unknown

"If there are words for all the pastels in a hue—the lavenders, mauves, fuchsias, plums and lilacs—who will name the tones and tints of a smell?" - Diane Ackerman

My mother and I did some macaron shopping while in Paris last week. While standing at the counter of Ladurée staring at all the brilliantly colored cookies as though they were jewels and trying to decide which flavors Mark would prefer (salted caramel? bergamot and rose?) I faintly heard the sales clerk over the din of my own brain.


"quel parfum voulez vous?"

Feb 23, 2015

Winter Calls for Lemon

“The very nature of the lemon is mysterious.” - Waverly Root

I have been lucky to escape the cold cruelty of Boston this past month, where a whopping 93 inches of snow has fallen so far. Just for reference - I am 64 inches tall.  



While my escapes were fruitful (so to speak) i’ve still managed to enjoy blizzards Juno and Marcus and several snowstorm in between. It’s been scary to see our grocery stores swept clean of bread, water and meat, and our public transportation system transformed into a dysfunctional adolescent who puts her headphones on and slams the door of her room, only reappearing at odd hours for Doritos and pee breaks.

Jan 27, 2015

Celebrating Two Years

Two years ago this January, this blog was born! The word, aromatum, from the phrase "Navigatio ad loca aromatum" (which I found in this book), seemed to fit perfectly with my desire to see the world according to scent. The phrase means: navigate to the places where the spices are. Despite being a travel directive, often on these pages I am merely seeing the world from my apartment. I still marvel at the power of language to teach us, the power of scent to trigger memories and evoke emotion.

Jan 12, 2015

Creatures of the Night



Last night I had a dream I was harvesting matches from a tree. Each branch's terminal bud was a match, red tipped and smooth with a slight roughness. Climbing the tree, pockets full of matches, I would snap one and then another, collecting them like berries. But I was sweating, my heart racing, because one slip and I could set the entire tree aflame. 

My life feels like this.



Starting 2015, I have felt the weight of what lies ahead, trying to be as careful about each step that I make, trying to take into consideration each "match" that I gather, so I can use it later, or trade it, or whatever, and not burn it up. It's an exhausting business, and I should probably start meditating.