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It’s picnic season. (And graduation party season and summer party for no reason season.) A good frittata sandwich is an easy, portable way to feed a few or a crowd.

Easy Picnic Food Frittata Sandwich | Umami Girl

Going to keep it short and sweet today, because the weather is stunning, and this is a post about picnics. You can see where I’m going with this. (To my yard, actually, but you get the idea.) Late spring and summer should be as much about casual entertaining as possible, if you ask me. I like to lean heavily on foods and drinks that can be assembled rather than fussed over. Frittata sandwiches — especially when made from leftover frittata, but even when made from scratch on the day of — are easy and casual as can be but still juuuuust the slightest bit classy. Which is nice. (more…)

Perfect cold-brewed iced coffee is easier than you think. And at *least* as important. 🙂 Reposting this piece from May, 2015, because ’tis the season.

Perfect Cold Brewed Iced Coffee | Umami Girl

Eight years old, nine, ten. Sunday morning eggs and bacon. The bewitching sputter-gurgle-pop of Mom and Dad’s coffee brewing on the counter. On a bold day, you might ask for a little bit of coffee milk. You’d tip the cup to your mouth with a pinkie aloft, because who was to say you wouldn’t turn out to be that kind of woman. You could be any kind of woman.

Perfect Cold Brewed Iced Coffee | Umami Girl

Seventeen, eighteen. Perched on a metal stool at the off-campus coffee house pretending to study. Wishing you’d worn a different skirt, but aware that being in the right place at the right age is most of the battle. Pretending it’s haphazard that your head is cocked just so. Eyeing The Boy.

Next term. Same stool. Different boy.

Perfect Cold Brewed Iced Coffee | Umami Girl

Minutes later. Those first few years working in New York City. Stopping at Starbucks every morning for a Venti instead of breakfast. As the elevator doors open onto your floor, wearing that plastic cup of coffee with the tall green straw like a pair of Jimmy Choos. Feeling unstoppable with it, naked without it.

Another job, another industry, another Starbucks.

Perfect Cold Brewed Iced Coffee | Umami Girl

The morning after the first night that the baby woke up to feed every hour. And the morning after that, when it happened again. Wondering whether you’d made the biggest, most irreparable mistake of your life. Furious that nobody warned you. Realizing the safety net between you and your own choices had vanished, never to return.

Having amnesia. Doing it all again.

And here you are. Kids in school. Trying to write at the local coffee place. Wishing the collective buzz would seep into your pages. Knowing you may pack up and walk away with only the strong smell of burr-ground beans that lingers in your sweater, in your hair, inside your purse.

A whole life could flash by like this. Jobs, crushes, ambitions — they come and go. For better or worse, the coffee remains, flowing like a river through it all.


JaM Cellars Chardonnay Mother's Day 2017 | Umami Girl

Happy Friday, friends. This Mother’s Day weekend, in the best of all possible worlds and also the actual world, the four of us and my mom are sardine-ing into the car on our way up to Massachusetts to celebrate the fact that my little sister Allison is about to become the mama of a baby girl. I could end this post right here and feel pretty good about it. But it’s got me in the mood to wax lyrical about Mother’s Day for a sec. So.

JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay

First things first. I want to thank JaM Cellars for sponsoring this post, which was fun to write. JaM Cellars, run by second-generation Napa winemaking couple John (the J) and Michele (the M), makes three easy-to-love, everyday California wines. In true California tradition, the wines are rich, bold and luscious. They sent me two bottles of JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay, which truly is like buttah in the best sense of the term. It’s juicy and lush and brimming with stone fruit notes, baked lemon and a long, vanilla finish, and has been voted the best Chardonnay under $20. Find it at a store near you and follow JaM Cellars on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

And now, 20 reasons I’m toasting Mother’s Day this year.

20. Our piano. Okay you guys, I’m starting big. Sorry. My dad and grandpa both passed away a few years ago. (I’m averaging seven years and “sometimes feels like yesterday” to “a few.”) Although neither of them had much musical talent, both were generous music lovers and avid supporters of Allison’s and my efforts. Dads, am I right? Also, though, moms. Namely MY mom, who gave beautiful pianos to both me and Allison this year in honor of Dad and Grandpa and our grandmothers. Now every time I, or one of our two daughters, plays the piano, the whole extended family is in our music room with us. I’m not always big on the afterlife, but boy. This I will take. (more…)

Gardening doesn’t have to be hard to be awesome. Case in point: these gorgeous, colorful rhododendrons in containers on the porch, creating a big impact in about half an hour.

Easy Spring Porch Update with Monrovia Colorful Plants | Umami Girl

You guys. Here’s something. I am NOT a good gardener.

And yet. I love plants. I really do. Indoor, outdoor. You name it, I love it. And often, sadly, I kill it. When I do a gardening project, it needs to be foolproof. And because I don’t have the patience or skill to do a lot of gardening, it’s best if my projects make a big impact. This week, Monrovia made that super easy, even for me. Pretty, right?

Easy Spring Porch Update with Monrovia Colorful Plants | Umami Girl

Our house has a few porches. (An embarrassment of riches, I know.) At the moment, they could all use a little updating for spring and summer. Those in the know tend to enter via the side porch. But since the front porch is the first focal point for new visitors, I thought it made sense to kick off the season by making a big, colorful splash there. (more…)

In this summery take on the classic BLT, you’ll grill just about everything before assembling it into a satisfying sandwich. The whole process takes only six ingredients and 20 minutes, so fire up the grill whenever you like.

Grilled Everything Turkey BLATs | Umami Girl

A few months back I got together with The National Turkey Federation for some epic baked turkey meatball subs. You guys really liked those. I really liked those. But hey, it’s getting to be grilling season. And that’s a very good thing.

So today we’re firing up the grill. You’d be amazed how great grilled turkey can be. From tenderloin to thighs, cutlets and beyond, there are so many ways to make flavorful, good-for-you meals that are high in lean protein and essential nutrients. (You can find tons of great recipe ideas and nutrition facts right here.) (more…)


Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.