One Photo Strikes A Cord

This past Monday was an interesting day. The meteorologists were forecasting bad weather with flooding – something we dealt with in Atlanta. Honestly, I was so happy to be done with extreme storms, blackouts, and power outages that were a constant occurrence in our Buckhead neighborhood. Based on the weather reports, I canceled my day’s activities to stay inside and hopefully get a lot of my reading and writing accomplished.

Around 4:30 pm the reporters forecasts came true. We were able to see storms raging through the NY Metro area and across the Hudson River into New Jersey. The outside went from black to white and then around 7:30 pm the sun started to peak out of the clouds and cast it’s brilliant rays throughout our apartment.

My husband Dave walked into his office to check something and yelled to look out the living room window. The sky was pink and there was a double rainbow over the beautiful skyline of towering buildings. I quickly reached for my phone and started snapping. Dave opened one of the windows so that the drops of rain on the panes would not impair my photo. One shot was perfect! I immediately wanted to share it with my Hope’s Gardens audience. Unbeknownst to me, a few minutes later, Barneys NY reposted the photo. Within a very short time their followers were liking it and many others (a few shown below) in turn reposted it.

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Hope’s Gardens Instagram
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Barneys NY Instagram
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Lisa McConniffe Instagram
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NYCGO Instagram

In less than 24 hours close to 30,000 people have liked my photograph. I am amazed and trying to understand how this all works. For the last several years, I have been plugging away photographing the food I create, the garden we tended, the cities I love, and have wished for this kind of acknowledgement. Is it the photograph or is it the messenger? What makes one person’s post go around the world and another’s go around the block?

I was born generations before “Millennials” and used the telephone to actually talk to people. No matter how I try to grasp technology and social media, it seems like I will always be a few steps behind from mastering. But, I will persevere and be thankful for my 15 minutes of fame. Thanks Andy Warhol!


Big Week for Music

Sometimes adventures take this Pesto-preneur out of the kitchen and into the world of music.

This past week my husband Dave and I have seen three live performances. The first was Shawn Mullins, a singer-songwriter from the Atlanta area, who I have seen multiple times. This time at The City Winery, our home away from home recently. I absolutely love Shawn’s music which is a mix of folk rock, instrumental and alternative. He is best known for his 1999 song “Lullaby” written about a young lady he met in a bar in California. You would know it if you heard it. His two bandmates are also very accomplished musicians.

Shawn Mullins performing at The City Winery, NY.

On Thursday night we walked to Summer Stage at Central Park and saw Elvis Costello and The Imposters touring to support his new album “The Imperial Bedroom”. He is a great performer. The music was a combination of classic rock, sultry and romantic lyrics, sad stories and funny ones all interspersed with older hits such as “Alison” and “Watching the Detectives”. The night air was absolutely perfect after several days of near 90 degree temperatures.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters performing at Summer Stage in Central Park.

Food is never far from my mind. We were meeting friends and we each brought our own food. I whipped together two, no actually three Roasted Veggie Sandwiches (see below) on Ciabatta Rolls with Ramp Pesto Mayo on one side and Mustard Garlic Aioli on the other. In-between the slices were Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, Red Pepper, Carrots and Red Onion, with a slice of Mozzarella and topped with a Mesclun Salad with a light Vinaigrette. Recipe below.

They were gone quickly once we settled in our spot on the green space in front of the stage. Lots of vendors there as well. Blue Marble Ice Cream from Brooklyn had a cart and I indulged in a Mexican Chocolate cone. The chocolate had hints of cinnamon, almond and dark chocolate chunks. Perfect!

Recipe:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with either parchment paper or silver foil lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Slice whatever vegetables you like to an equal size so that they will roast evenly. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over and sprinkle as much salt and pepper as you like. Roast for 20 minutes on one side, flip and another 15 minutes on the other. Meanwhile, slice the ciabatta roll in half and spread Pesto mayo on one side and a mustard aioli on the other. I purchased one at Trader Joe’s which I highly recommend. Place a slice of mozzarella on one side and top with the roasted vegetables and a mesclun salad mix on top. Close the sandwich and indulge!

Saturday night we returned to The City Winery to see Buster Poindexter, Lounge Lizard extraordinaire! In his previous life he was known as David Johansen, original member of the glam rock band The New York Dolls. We really did not know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised that he was an interesting combination of  great vocals, eclectic song mix and part-time jokester, albeit a bit on the raunchy side. We were surrounded by his extreme fans.

Buster Poindexter (aka David Johansen) and his wife Mara Hennessy at The City Winery NY.

One of the great things about being back in New York is the ability to see music often and take some chances on music you may not have heard before. Since August I have had the pleasure to see:  Sting, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Joan Osborne, Bruce Hornsby, Jackson Brown, Phil Lesh, Ben Taylor, Carly Simon, Mark Cohen, 10,000 Maniacs, Art Garfunkel, Kris Kristofferson, Wilco, David Byrne, Melissa Etheridge, Rickie Lee Jones, Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin, Richard Thompson, Bill Maher and Fred Armison.  Okay, the last two are not musicians but very cool indeed! And we have plans to see:  U2, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, Donald Fagan and Ben Folds over the next few months.


Ramp Season is Here.

Dave and I spend nearly every Saturday morning walking from our Hell’s Kitchen home to the Union Square Green Market. It has become our ritual. It’s fun to see farmer’s markets from this perspective as for close to ten years we were on the other side of the table selling our own pesto.

This week we were pleased to see ramps, selling for $5 a bunch. The bunch was small with about 6 to 8 slender ramps.  If you are not familiar with them, they are available for a few short weeks in early spring. They resemble a baby scallion and have a pungent taste similar to garlic or an onion. Their slender size deceives the strong flavor.

With all the pesto flavors I have created, ramps was not among them. My immediate thought is I must finally make ramp pesto! Returning to the apartment, I go through our cabinets and pull out the accompanying ingredients: walnuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. This was my first time working with ramps, so I experimented with the recipe. It still needs some adjustments, but here’s what I used:

1 bunch of ramps, cleaned, dried, and cut into smaller pieces

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Lemon juice from half of a lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the first six ingredients in your food processor. Pulse for about five seconds and then slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil in while the food processor is running. Stop and scrape down the sides, then pulse for another three to five seconds. See if the consistency is to your liking. Mine had a slightly gritty texture which was pleasing as each spoonful had several little taste explosions all at once. If not, pulse for a few more seconds and then put in a dish and enjoy!

Later that night, I made a simple ramp pesto vinaigrette. I drizzled it over cauliflower florets which were then roasted in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Once they were done, I served them alongside a fresh arugula and radish salad topped with a sliced hard boiled egg and avocado toast.

Another easy snack is to take a few slices of rustic Tuscan toast, spread with ramp pesto and sprinkle some crumbled goat cheese and you’re ready to eat.