Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Curtain Falls and the Set is Struck

With Jess, Diana and Rosemary

“It has been so long since anyone has wanted me anywhere.  It has, Frederick.  And it seems so little to want.  To have one person out of all the crowds in the world just to yourself.  Doesn’t it?”

– My final lines as Rose in THE ENCHANTED APRIL

Every final curtain comes with some mixed emotions – through the course of a few weeks a small group of people carve out a piece of live art that was once just words on a page.  Night after night you present it to a room of (mostly) strangers.  And then it’s over.  The curtain falls and within hours, every nail from the set and every hairpin from the dressing room is gone.Last night I actually wasn’t broken up.  Yes, the life I’ve lived the past seven weeks has come to something of an end.  But there’s a phrase in French that my doctor told me a few weeks ago.  Evidently it doesn’t translate directly into English.  And it was long.  And I don’t speak French so I can’t even tell you what it was.  But he said it amounted to, in such situations, “With one loss comes twenty gains”.

Walking Mia

I met some incredible people.  In particular a few ladies and a man named Jimmy I know I was meant to meet.

I found a home in an attic with a view of the water, a big bed and comfortable chairs to sink into.

I was treated to dinners made with vegetables pulled right from the garden, with warm light and conversation.

I found restaurants and beaches and vineyards.

I found many glasses of white wine and champagne.

I found a dog, in a shelter ten minutes from the theater.  A sweet thing that will come home with me today and ease the transition from constantly being surrounded by people to working on a computer or in my kitchen, often alone.  I don’t know whether I’ll name her “Mitra” (friend” in Sanscrit) or “Cocca” (Italian for “favorite”).

2nd Act costumes and robot sketching in the dressing room

Along with costumes, lines about love, pre-show prosciutto and pinot, baking rosewater lavender cookies for concession, being a tour-guide to visitors (and THANK YOU to the many who came out here to see the show!), making robot books, sipping tequila with the ladies, walking Mia through the misty mornings, driving seemingly endless hours in my little blue car and connecting with audiences… the past few weeks have been rough.  Somewhat surreal.  A growing period.  So with this final curtain I’m ready to go home.

Theatre is a magical thing.   Connecting with people onstage and telling a story is an unmatchable rush.  I’ve learned that I can trust my skill, my training, my acting muscles.  My continued love for putting “Jacqueline” aside and just connecting onstage.

A special thank you to the extraordinarily generous people who have showered me with their faith and kindness, particularly Sarah, Jimmy, Diana, Rosemary and Jess.  As well the rest of the company with whom I’ve shared many laughs and a few botched lines, or were so kind as to offer an arm.

Peace out, Hamptons.

My slogan in the sand, Westhampton Beach

Chunky Carob Cake – Ridiculously Allergy Friendly!

Chunky Carob Cake

There are few names I’d put on my “soul-mate” list.  Nina Simone.  William Shakespeare.  James McAvoy (did you SEE X-Men First Class?  Totally redeemed the franchise from Wolverine and washed the bad taste of Bridesmaids out of my mouth).

In all seriousness, while I am surrounded by so many loving, special people, I am particularly grateful for my dear friend Lyndsey – a soul-mate if there ever was one.  We met through my college boyfriend over a dozen years ago, and aside from the many things we naturally had in common, we shared a history of chronic illness.  There’s no way I could summarize our friendship – but let’s just say we’ve been an ear, a shoulder, a hug, the voice on the other end of the phone that won’t hang up… I don’t know where I’d be without this woman.

So on my quick days off I scooted my little blue car down to DC to visit her and her husband, two of my favorite people in the whole world!  

Lyndsey is still suffering greatly from her illness and deep digestive problems, and her diet completely eliminates grains, sugar, chocolate, fruit, any sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, certain meats and fishes, fried foods, certain vegetables and is pretty much devoid of any sweet indulgences. I lived like that for several years but never as long as she, and don’t know how she hasn’t gone ballistic on a grocery store or restaurant by now.

But carob! Oh, yes, Lyndsey can have carob!

So the other morning she showed me how to make her “Chunky Cake”.

This cake is chocolate-free, sugar-free, grain-free / flourless, oiless, nut-free, low-carb, high-fiber, low-glycemic.  Really.  It does have ghee (clarified butter) so it’s not dairy free completely, but you can easily substitute with coconut oil or a fat of your choice.

And it’s incredibly easy – all ingredients mixed in a bowl and poured in a pan!

I was amazed at how light and airy the carob cake came out, while still packing a delicious aroma.  I’m going to have some fun experimenting with the recipe at home, using coconut products, tucking the batter around almond butter, soaking vanilla beans in almond milk.  But for now, here’s the original recipe.  Enjoy!

Moist and light Chunky Carob cake


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted ghee
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves


  • Preheat oven to 325°.  Heavily grease a pie plate or single cake pan.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (in no particular order) with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  The resulting batter should sort of glop a bit off the whisk and not run completely smooth.  Because of the goopy result of using flax, Lyndsey describes it as “falling like boogers”.  One of the thousands of reasons why I love her so much.
  • Pour into prepared plate and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork inserted comes out relatively smooth.

Baked Potato Cakes – Gluten and Dairy Free Recipe Swap!

Baked Potato Cakes

This is my second contribution to the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap. And it’s a very, very dusty recipe.  Lately I’ve been busy baking for various things, doing shows, keeping sane, and visiting with friends from out of town.  So I put this recipe off to the last minute, and when it (obviously) didn’t come out perfectly the first time, I just sorta shrugged and went on with my day.  I’m definitely a very dusty person in general right now :)

Not the best way to start out a post on “check out my recipe!”.  Keep reading, it all works out in a way, promise.  And next month I’ll have more time in my own kitchen to contribute something stellar.

Quick fill-in: Every month CM sends a group of about 30 bloggers / bakers / chefs a recipe from a charming old cookbook and we have to change at least 3 things about it and post our creations on the same day.  It is incredible to see the variety that comes from this swap – sweet things made into savory (and vice versa), gluten-free, health-conscious, fully-fatted.  Please support the other bloggers (and check out their responses to this swap) by going to Burwell General Store.

Honestly, I wish I had a bit more time with this recipe!  The recipe itself is rather simple – mashed potatoes are blended with donut basics and then fried to perfection.  But I’ve (a) been extremely busy (b) wanted to keep the donut idea of the recipe intact (c) LOVE making donuts (d) didn’t want to have to fry anything and (e) didn’t want to buy a donut pan.

The original recipe

So I found a recipe for donuts baked in muffin tins from Mrs. Field’s Secrets and hoped for the best in the procedure.  Now, mine did not come out as beautifully as the ones in their picture, which were smooth and perfect on top and light enough that they could be filled with jam.  And these neither look nor really taste like donuts (though I could see the original recipe working quite well).

But that doesn’t mean these aren’t tasty.

And as they’re made with (primarily) potato flour and contain NO dairy or oil, they’re not half bad for you.

Served with lemon curd

Last year a cooking buddy thrust the term “rustic” on me, and I now place that on most of my creations that are scrumptious but make me laugh when I look at them.  These are one such recipe.

I’d suggest serving these as a dinner side as they’re rather savory (they sort of remind me of a cornbread).  They’re really dense and chewy, slightly sweet and with a light and crusty top.  I had made some peach jam to pipe inside of them but they were so dense I couldn’t pipe it in!  So I slathered a bit of lemon curd on and they were even more tasty.

And, these are gluten and dairy FREE!  So there.

Here you go.  Baked Potato Cakes.  Swapped.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup potato flour
  • 1/4 cup starch (I used tapioca, but arrowroot would work too)
  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour with xanthan gum
  • 1/2 extra tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1  cup unsweetened milk of choice (I used almond milk)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray 12 muffin tins with cooking spray.
  • Beat eggs in mixer with paddle attachment until slightly frothy.
  • Add sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Slowly add in milk and beat to combine.
  • Add all dry ingredients and beat to combine.
  • Fill 2/3 way up in 12 greased muffin tins.
  • Bake for 18 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies

Lemon Poppy Cookies

This is another version of buttery shortbread cookies I’ve adapted from the Rosewater Lavender Shortbread that went over very well at an event last weekend.  I altered the recipe just a tiny bit – adding fresh lemon juice and poppy seeds and altering the amount of flour, as well as used arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, which I didn’t have in my apartment (SO nice to be baking in my kitchen again).

These cookies are incredibly easy and only require a few ingredients.  They’re delicate with a buttery crumb, a nice tang and a sweet finish.

Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies


  • 20 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds


  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line thick baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs and beat until combined.
  • Add lemon zest and juice, beat to combine.
  • Add starch, 2 cups of flour and poppy seeds.  Beat at medium speed until combined
  • Continue to add flour until the dough comes together into a ball and does not stick.
  • Place dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cool.
  • On a well floured surface, work with the dough 1/4 a batch at a time, lightly kneading flour until smooth and not sticky.
  • Roll into 1/4 inch, cut with cutters and use a spatula to transfer to baking sheets.
  • Dust with sugar.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway, until just browned at edges.
  • Cool on racks completely before storing.

Makes 36 medium cookies.

Notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free by substituting the flour and arrowroot with a gluten-free proportion of 1 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot, 2 Tbsp tapioca starch and 2 tsp xanthan gum.  This is the mix I have on hand for cookies, making enough for several recipes at once.

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