comments: 41

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On Friday, I made Tyler's Ultimate baked rigtoni with eggplant and Italian sausage. Aimee was coming for dinner and the weather was absolutely exquisite. We could finally sit outside.

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The weather was amazing all weekend, actually. The garden finally perked up after the last three weeks of cold and rain and wind. My potatoes have sprouted! This is very exciting. All four pots have big green leaves emerging. I'll take photos this week. I am trying to ween myself off of my tripod because I am so lazy. It's so much easier to take pictures without it in some ways (though harder in others). On top of that, ever since I got my new iMac last fall I have been Photoshopping my photos on it and they look so different when I upload them to the PC or the blog. I can't seem to get the color profiles to match between the two computers to my satisfaction, at least. Getting better, but still not great. Oh well. Maybe someday I'll get there. I shoot everything in RAW now and I'm still getting used to it. So much to learn.

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I am going through all of my old Everyday Food magazines and clipping stuff that looks good, and have ordered a little 6" x 9" binder to put everything in. I found a recipe there for Banana Chiffon Cake and made that and it was gorgeous, I have to say.

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Things have been a bit hit-or-miss with me and that magazine. I must say, however, that Banana Chiffon Cake was a keeper. Pretty pretty, too.

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We made vanilla Italian sodas* with fresh orange-mint. I love vanilla Italian soda. See that big pot in the bottom right corner? That has a potato in it!

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Aimee is the display designer at Cargo. She always brings me such beautiful little presents. This is a diminutive pincushion from Japan, about the size of a golf ball. Isn't that darling?

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The rigatoni was delish. You should make this. Use fresh mozzarella and really good imported Italian tomatoes, like Tyler says to. Costs a bit more, but so worth it here.

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Aimee soundly whomped both Andy and me, but mostly me (who was a vowel magnet — at one time, out of seven letters, I had four Is, two Os and an E to work with, and when I finally did get a consonant it would be a Q, or a K, or an X. It actually got to be funny. I couldn't have picked more poorly, every single time, if I had tried, and this after Andy throughout dinner kept insisting how good I was at Scrabble, much to my eventual chagrin. Aimee, however, couldn't spell a word that didn't rack up at least twenty points, every single time.

Summer nights. So very sweet.

*To make an Italian soda, you just add a big glub-glub (that's, to use a Tyler-ism, a two-count) of some kind of flavored syrup like Torani (or you can make your own flavored simple syrup, but I don't) to a glass of very icy soda water. Then throw in some fresh mint, or a little cream (though sometimes, and I don't know why it's only sometimes, this separates and looks very disgusting) and stir. Yum yum.


Chris Howard says: May 18, 2009 at 10:42 AM

How do you make vanilla Italian sodas?

I hate getting a Q or an X! Beautiful cake presentation!

Every good dinner party needs a game of scrabble played. I used to play during college at the coffee shop in my neighborhood, instead of studying. The owner of the shop was Polish and he would beat me every time. We're talking never a word lower than 50 points on this guy. And I was an English major. Sheesh.

how do you make vanilla italian soda's

L-ooovvvve that recipe, and you are so right about the splurge on good ingredients. The book that recipe comes from is one of my absolute favorites. He is just so darn cool you know? Sometimes I will think back to a recipe and try to remember who gave it to me, because I remember a story about how to get the food "there," and then I'll realize, oh right its Tyler's. So conversational, love that. By the way his brining of pork chops is one of the greatest easy culinary secrets, its up there with bread in a jar of rock-hard cookies.

Ooo, I've recently discovered the bliss of Food Network, and I have to say, Tyler is THE MAN. Oh! And look! He's on in like, ten minutes!

Looks yummmm. And my husband beat me twice this weekend at Scrabble - I who was also an English major. Sigh.

Yes, you must tell us about the sodas!

With all those vowels, and your passion for growing things (plants and animals), maybe you could have spelled E-I-E-I-O, as in Old MacDonald, and gotten away with it? Jealous to hear of sitting outside for supper. Not here, not yet, not soon.

Oh summer nights indeed!! Finally nice weather here in cold, old Utah for the weekend. I can hardly contain myself. Love the pincushion, the food, oh to love cooking so much. Kids just don't quite appreciate that much effort!

Why is Tyler so ultimately good at everything?

Love the cake - so pretty too! And everything Italian. My son beats me at Scrabble all the time and I was an English teacher.

Please tell Andy that I am LOVING the blue and white plaid look. Next time I have drinks delivered in the garden I shall INSIST that the waiter (my husband) goes for the whole blue and white with green leaves effect.

sounds like a delightful evening - although that scrabble hand was rather malicious!
as for those drinks - they look scrummy, even if (alcoholic that I am) I originally thought they were mojitos :$


Sounds like the perfect combination for a fun evening with a friend. I will have to try vanilla Italian soda. I'm hooked on Italian Blood Orange soda. MMMMMM-good.

i think it separates when the syrup is too acidic and so it curdles when mixed with the acid. at one of the coffee shops i use to work at we used delicious, natural syrups to flavour the drinks, but for cream sodas we had to use the artificial high fructose stuff.

In terms of getting your PC/print/blog photos to colour match, you should look into:

1. colour calibrating your monitor (there are online tools and programs for this)
--> photoshop and IE or Safari have different colour profiles. For example, photos on IE will always be cooler-toned.

2. Adopting a standard colour profile for your work.

--> For example, for my blog photos I shoot in sRGB, put my photos through lightroom as sRGB, edit in photoshop as sRGB. If my end work is going to be in print, however, I shoot in Adobe RGB, put my photos through lightroom and photoshop as Adobe RGB, save (these will be the PRINT copies) and then RE-process them again in photoshop as sRGB and save them for the web.

Adobe RGB has a larger gamut of colors that cannot be duplicated on the web, so photos that will be mostly web-bound should be shot and processed in sRGB (a setting on your camera.) If you have photos destined for print, you'll have to process them in the two colour profiles, which is time-consuming and sucky. OR, you could just process ALL of your photos in sRGB because many photo printers (aside from professional photo labs) can't handle Adobe RGB anyway! :)

Phew! I hope that helped!

ooooh, thanks for the soda recipe, i am definitely trying that! don't ya love when your plants do well? it's an exciting, addictive, high watching the garden grow....happy times....!!...:)

That cake is very lovely. I'll have to look up the recipe and make it.

I do the majority of my cooking from Everyday Food and I've only had one dud in about three years. Somehow almost everything from there works for me.

Good luck with the potato! I tried one of those with the guys at work last year and it didn't turn out, but then again, we grew it indoors...

Melissa L says: May 18, 2009 at 06:35 PM

I have had pretty good success with Everyday Food (much better than with Martha Stewart Living!) - and now I want a cute 6 x 9 binder too! I also save every page that has vintage Pryex on it :-)

Your dinner looks fabulous.

I don't want to be a drag, but are you sure you can grow potatoes in pots? Since they're root plants, I'm not sure that the pot will give enough room for the potatoes to grow in there. (You get several potatoes from one plant.)
That meal looks delish! I wish I ever felt like going to that much trouble.

You are so right about the only sometimes separation of the cream in Italian Sodas. And my all time favorite is vanilla and raspberry (with cream). Delish. But I like the fresh mint...but I'm embarrassed to say I've never heard of orange-mint!

The rigatoni looks great! The few recipes of Tyler's that I've tried have become favorites of mine.

Pretty, pretty cake, you're right! I'm gonna see if I can find the recipe...Love the pincushion! How fun having a friend who brings thoughtful little gifts. :)

Oh, thanks! I just scrolled back up and saw you included a link for the cake.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.