Spring’s Secret Garden

Monarch feeding on a Butterfly Bush.

The Secret Garden was one of the classics I read to my children. We spent many hours in the car driving to Maryland and Long Island to visit family (hon, trust me, we know every rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike), and made the time pass quickly by learning language, discovering stories, discussing characters and predicting plots. I only found out later that “brain imaging has suggested that hearing stories evokes visual images in children’s brains, and more strongly if those children are accustomed to being read to.” (The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children  by Perri Klass, M.D.,The New York Times)

Wait! What? Something I did was good for my kids? Woohoo! Hopefully, that balances out the other stuff that might not have been, ummm, as advantageous.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


Story Time in Sweet Sixteen

Grandma and my Plus One.
Grandma and my Plus One.

Happy New Year and Sweet Sixteen! (2016, that is)

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, after deciding what to change (exercise more/ eat less desserts), I try to accomplish those goals. Sometimes I’m successful. Oftentimes I’m not. But, I’ve been itching to make a Story Time Resolution this year. Hopefully, saying my goal “out loud” isn’t like blowing out birthday candles and then revealing a wish. Stories, characters, voice and plot fill my head. Can I put on paper what I see in my head? Most importantly, how will I get my stories in the hands of children?

Two recent articles in The New York Times were gifts to my goal. The quotes below are from The Gift of Reading by Frank Bruni and Long Line at the Library? It’s Story Time Again by Winnie Hu.

Winnie Hu quotes,

“It is clear that reading and being exposed to books early in life are critical factors in student success,” Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, said.

Frank Bruni writes,

The list of what a child needs in order to flourish is short but nonnegotiable.

Food. Shelter. Play. Love.

Something else, too, and it’s meted out in even less equal measure.

Words. A child needs a forest of words to wander through, a sea of words to splash in. A child needs to be read to, and a child needs to read.

Reading fuels the fires of intelligence and imagination.

“Reading follows an upward spiral,” said Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and the author of “Raising Kids Who Read,” which was published earlier this year. “Kids who read more get better at reading, and because they are better at reading, it’s easier and more pleasurable so they read still more,” he said. “And kids who read well don’t just do better in English class — it helps them in math, science and every other class, too.”

I’d go even further. Reading tugs them outside of themselves, connecting them to a wider world and filling it with wonder. It’s more than fundamental. It’s transformative.


Amen, Mr. Bruni. Amen.

winter 2005-06-25

Hon, if you are a “New-Year’s-Resolution-Person,” what are your goals this year?

Roasted Cauliflower


Brown cut-up cauliflower in olive oil over medium .heat
Brown cut-up cauliflower in olive oil over medium heat.
Mix browned cauliflower with spices.
Mix browned cauliflower with spices.







Spread cauliflower on a greased baking pan.
Spread cauliflower on a greased baking pan. 
Bake at 400 degrees F, uncovered, for approx. 20 minutes, until top is golden. Serve.
Bake at 400 degrees F, uncovered, for approx. 20 minutes, until top is golden. Serve.


Roasted Cauliflower–Easy, Delicious and Healthy.

I used the recipe from David Tanis’ City Kitchen column* as guidance, and then altered the spices. Tanis baked his cauliflower with pre-cooked rigatoni and added cheese for a main dish. Click Rigatoni and Cauliflower Al Forno to see the his recipe. I’ll definitely be making this side dish again.

Happy cooking, hon.


–1 cauliflower

–olive oil

–1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

–salt, pepper, thyme, about 1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or any spices you think will go well with cauliflower


  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom, cut out tough core, stem and extraneous leaves. Lay cauliflower flat side down and cut crosswise into rough 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Put 3 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet over high heat. Brown cauliflower for about 2 minutes, then turn pieces over to brown other side. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. Some pieces won’t be brown.  Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat.’
  4. Put cauliflower in a mixing bowl. Add cilantro, garlic and thyme.
  5. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Spread cauliflower evenly on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 20 -30 minutes, until top is crisp and golden.

*Source:  City Kitchen column in The New York Times