bon week-end!

Is anyone else getting excited for tulip season?! Not to rush the daffodils—whom I love very much—but last fall I planted an ambitious number of bulbs (plenty for me and for the hungry woodland critters) and the buds are finally beginning to peek out of the leaves. Checking their progress each morning makes me giddy.

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter weekend, all! Right now I am fluffing the house, excitedly awaiting the arrival of our son and daughter to celebrate both the holiday and our daughter’s acceptance to NYU / Tisch School of the Arts. It is a dream come true for her and we could not be happier.

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sip | the last word

If I am out to dinner (yes, I vaguely remember what going out was like) and a cocktail with green Chartreuse is on the menu, I will, without fail, order it. This delightfully herbaceous, naturally green liqueur is made by French monks from a secret, 400-year-old recipe. The process is shrouded in mystery as well, though it is known that Chartreuse is made with 130 botanicals aged for years in oak casks and placed in the world’s longest liquor cellar until mature. Oh, and it is deceptively strong. 110 proof … which I was not aware of the first time I tried it.

The Last Word, fletcher + fork
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hyacinth + vintage vessel = chic, simple arrangement

Flowering bulbs are the great harbingers of spring, beginning with small-but-mighty crocuses and snowdrops pushing through the last vestiges of snow, hinting at what’s to come. As the season progresses and the soil warms, muscari, hyacinth, daffodils, and tulips follow in their footsteps. I’ve spied the last three in local markets recently, all vying for the attention of shoppers seeking a shot of spring of color.

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CHICKPEA AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH TAGINE WITH SAFFRON AND LIME

This week’s winter wallop, with its thick blanket of snow and subzero temperatures, brought serious cravings for a body-and-soul warming dish. Tagines are deeply spiced North African stews, traditionally slow-cooked in a clay vessel also called a tagine (the stew is named for the vessel in which it is cooked, but a Dutch oven works well as a replacement). Lamb, fish, chicken, and beef often take center stage in tagines, but the dish is endlessly adaptable. My nourishing vegetarian version is anchored by hearty chickpeas and butternut squash, and layered with warming ginger, earthy-sweet saffron, and the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout.

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A LATE WINTER’S LUNCH

Spode flower plates + anemones + Deborah Madison’s Black Rice with Mixed Beets Salad

I fell hard for these vintage Spode plates while antiquing in Three Oaks, Michigan last fall … but in a rare move, I reined in my impetuousness and did not buy them. Thanksgiving was around the corner and another set of plates by Wedgwood—equally beautiful but decidedly autumnal in a mustard, brown, and aubergine palette—felt like the better choice. So I left with those, reminding myself that I have almost as many floral motif plates as I do striped shirts and sweaters. But I could not stop thinking of the Spode beauties, with their modern feeling, oversized florals and simple rims, each depicting a different flower.

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fletcher + fork Goes to Elawa Farm | Pan Seared Cauliflower Steaks with Caper, Orange and Sage Brown Butter Sauce

image via Elawa Farm

It was a pinch myself moment. Yesterday I taught my first class at Elawa Farm, the beloved and beautifully restored gentleman’s farm and garden in the heart of Lake Forest. Elawa’s mission is to enrich our community as a unique center for hands-on learning, and to inspire an appreciation for gardening, healthy living and historic preservation.

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Sip | Julia’s Martini + Wild and Wonderful Travel in 2019

Still Life with Fruit, oil on panel , 1675, by JACOB VAN WALSCAPELLE
Dutch, 1644-1727
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

TRAVEL MORE. That was my main 2019 resolution. It was a wise one, it turns out, as this has been one miserable winter in Chicago! Though we’ve barely entered March, I’ve been out of town more than I’ve been home. In the last four weeks alone I’ve spent long stretches in Colorado, the Keys, and Washington D.C. All regular haunts for me, but OH MY is that about to change.

Beaver Creek with the birthday boy
Ocean Reef antics
Rye Manhattans and cat bingo…Saturday night with my sister and three-year-old nephew
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Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Calabrian Chili Ricotta

Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Calabrian Chili Ricotta, fletcher and fork

Gigantic, pillowy snowflakes cartwheeled from Sunday afternoon’s sky, blanketing the landscape with a quiet that reflected my mood. Hours earlier, our Thanksgiving house guests had departed, I’d dropped our children at O’Hare for their return flights to school, and my husband had scooted off for a business trip. The house echoed with emptiness.
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