Springtime in the hills of Missouri


I really have fallen in love with our new home. We are nestled in the hills just southwest of the city. Our farm sits atop a small hill that backs up to about 500 acres of wooded land. We have multiple streams of varying size on the property. The one behind the house is small, runs when we have heavy rains and happens to be the very best thing a toddler has ever seen. It amazes me how wonderous splashing in water is to an 18 month old. We spend hours trampling through puddles and streams and creeks….and he never tires of it. Next to pudding…it’s the very best thing in his life right now!

Where there once were two…there are are now three

Angus Karam Lerher arrived on October 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm! He decided to make is appearance one week early and we couldn’t have been more pleased. He is a lovely, happy baby boy. We are truly blessed. Being new parents has been an experience we will never forget. One filled with wonder, sleepless nights, laughs, tears and joyful, quiet moments together. We are looking forward to sharing our life with our son on the farm and much, much more.

Rendering beef fat to soothe the sad heart

If you follow me on Twitter, you most likely are aware that my Grandmother died on Christmas Eve. She was 100 years old and the most magnificent woman in the world. And that is not an exaggeration. She was truly amazing. She was the first person I remember telling me how important it was to get an education and engage in a fulfilling career. She was the person who taught me to cook, taught me to pray and taught me to be proud of my Lebanese heritage. She taught me to be progressive, never stagnant. Despite her age, she never rested on her laurels. Always moving with the times, trying new thing and embracing change….all the while holding on to her faith, heritage and traditions passed down from her parents. She was the youngest of four sisters, daughter of Lebanese immigrants and a pioneer in this city. She and two of her sisters owned and operated a restaurant and tavern in North St. Louis at a time where not only women didn’t own business but rarely worked and had just earned the right to vote. She was generous and philanthropic, continually giving to charities close to her heart such as St. Jude’s Hospital and American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities. She was a devout Maronite Catholic and a champion for her parish, St. Raymond’s Church. But above all, she was most proud of her family and harbored a love for us that saw no end. It was a love that I will cherish until the day I die…and one that I hope to shower upon my children and grandchildren someday. Continue reading

Who said life would slow down after graduation?!?

Well, I thought it would…but I was wrong. I am just filling my time with other things besides studying. Catching up with friends and family…driving up to N. Wisconsin for a little R&R and trying to get the house in order. It’s amazing how quickly a 1000 square foot loft can become a disorganized little mess when you are in grad school. Top it all off with running down to the Farm a couple times a week to keep things going….life gets away from you.

Let’s talk about the farm for a minute. Things are going well. The garden is going gangbusters. But Simon and I both agree…it would be a million times better if we were living down there full time and able to tend to it everyday. The weeds get out of control FAST! If more then 3 days goes by without tending to them….well, lets just say it isn’t pretty. This little garden experiment really reminded me of my novice status when it comes to farming/gardening. I’ve always managed my little raised beds in the city but the sheer size of the farm often leaves me overwhelmed. But, again…living down there will make it easier to manage.

When we were away last week, my Dad managed to get down to the farm a couple times to check on things. He got some good tomatoes…we came home to ALOT of tomatoes that were ready to be picked. Lost some watermelons b/c the rotted on the vine. We’ve been getting lots of rain at the farm.  That bummed me out b/c they looked great. Managed to pick 2 tiger melons. But the sheer amount of tomatoes is awe inspiring! Will be canning some sauce in the up coming days.

Whew….I’m sure there will be more to add soon. Our life is always changing. Always.

Who made the grade in St. Louis??

Last evening I had the opportunity to attend St. Louis Magazine’s A List Awards Party at Lumen (it is a gorgeous event space…wow). It is not an event I would normally attend. Mind you, at one point in my life, it would have been on the radar. Many of you may not know this, but St. Louis Magazine crowned me one of St. Louis’ Top Singles back in the day….not shabby for a kid from downtown. But, as time passed….I grew tired of the scene….fell in love with the Cheesemonger and left that life behind.

Alas, my buddy Mathew Rice was being honored for Niche’s desserts and we set up a table to hand out the goodies. Much to my surprise we were put in the best spot in the house: center balcony over looking the crowd (and was there ever a crowd! Whoa). To our left, Eric Brenner, A List Chef winner…and to our right Ricardo’s Italian Cafe…A list winner for casual Italian food. ***Sidenote on Ricardo’s: My very first job as a bus-girl was at Ricardo’s over 15 years ago…yep. I have known Mark and Michelle Adams for years and started out babysitting their two little boys…who now help run the restaurant. Good people, that Adams family. If you have not had the chance to go to Ricardo’s in Lafayette Square…make a point to get over there. They are even open for lunch.***

So, with being flanked by two tables of pals…the night was sure to be fun. And lucky for us the open bar sat directly across from our table. Nice perk.

Along comes Mike Emerson owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse! Mike and I have been chummy since he has opened his doors. We were one of his first customers and I was sure to tell him how much we loved his BBQ. After some more chit chat at the awards event…turns out Mike and I go way back and didn’t even know it. I’ve known his brother Danny my entire life and he grew up with some older members of my family. Pappy’s was being honored for best BBQ in St. Louis….what an honor….open not even ONE YEAR and they are picked for the A List. That was a no-brainer, though. Pappy’s by far is the BEST BBQ in St. Louis….hands down. Don’t fight me on it…you won’t win. And Pappy’s is another place to rush to…..amazing. And before you all shout out ‘favoritism’…..please know that I was singing this joint’s praises long before I actually met Mike and realized his family and mine were close. So zip it.

It was a great time.  Kevin Willmann, chef at Erato on Main was being honored as well.  It was great to see him outside the kitchen!  City Hall was representin’ with Mike McMillen and his crew.  All the pretty people were out in droves….dressed to kill….and packed in Lumen like little sardines sweating.  I was so happy when we ran out of food and could head outside to hang at the Pappy’s table.  (they were outside)  It was a great night to be outside with a cocktail.

Good party St. Louis Magazine….and even better choices for your A-List winners.

Food and Wine: June Issue

**Photo by Jonathan Swegle

Be on the lookout for St. Louis’ favorite new pastry chef in the upcoming issue of F&W. That’s right, Mathew Rice will be the featured pastry chef for The Last Bite. Wonder what they will feature….some would say red velvet cake….some would say the kulfi….what dessert do you think they will feature?

Whatever it is, it will be delicious. Be sure to pick up June’s issue of Food and Wine and support our local chefs!!

Help me St. Joseph

Rumor has it if you pray to St. Joseph, bury a statue of him upside down in your front yard…your house will sell. Mom picked up a statue for me this week. But the trick is to then continue the good mojo by prominently displaying St. Joe in a good spot in the new diggs.

Our house is for sale. Wanna buy it? I’m dying for a yard big enough for a garden…one besides potted herbs. Don’t get me wrong….I appreciate my potted rosemary, parsley, thyme and lavendar….but I crave more. It’s my nature. I wish I would have had one of these!

Food Map Containers…..could have been exactly what I was looking for. It’s too late now. We are selling the brownstone and looking for a big kid house. It’s a bittersweet moment for me. This was the first house I ever bought…way before I knew Si. I cut my proverbial ‘rehab’ teeth on this bugger. I will be sad to leave it….but happier to be in a house with a bigger kitchen and an actual dining room. This place was perfect for me as a single gal…lots of cocktail parties on the patio and late night Guinness sessions. Hard to do a dinner party for 12 in the main level when you don’t have a proper dining room.

So do me a favor…pray to St. Joseph that the guy who looked at the house this weekend buys it.

Phoenix, Arizona. Better in the winter.


We have been to Phoenix once before this trip. It was in the heat of the summer and we were not thrilled. We are not desert people. We like lush greenery, tall trees and seasons. Simon’s parents moved out there last Spring and have been hinting at us to follow suit.


One thing I do love are mountains. I had the joy of spending extended periods of time in the White Mtns. in NH and VT. I fell in love. As we approached Phx, I was able to reach across a sleeping Cheesemonger and take some quick snaps of the interesting landscape. I’m not Ansel Adams, but I do like this snapshot. The mountain range in the background covered in snow and the sprawling mesas in the forefront give you a hint of what to expect when you land.

My goal for this trip was to simply spend time with family (especially a 2 year old blond headed cookie monster) jax.jpg

We found Phx in February much more tolerable and easy on the eyes. The once brown, chokingly dusty, terrain has developed a thin green veneer…multi colored cacti and trickling mountain streams. Now this is doable.

Our second goal was to eat. And eat we did. 5lbs later I am cursing Kevin Binkley. (more on that dinner to come. writing about 25 courses is time consuming)

We stopped at AZ Wines after we de-planed. az.jpg This place has lots to offer. We found their prices very reasonable and staff knowledgable and laid back. The joint had a full bar and a living room. Decked out with a flat screen TV and leather sofas. Who’d ever want to leave?? We had brought a case of wine with us, so we didn’t pick anything up. But we did take Si’s mom around and point out some winners for purchase at a later date. Lots of local brews were on hand at this store as well. If you are ever in Carefree, AZ…stop in and pick something up. They have great classes too.

For lunch, Big Earl’s. 59.JPGA former filling station turned burger joint. Reminded me of Austin kitsch. Burgers were great. Fries even better.

It was the bar we went to for drinks later that night that fueled my love affair with Scottsdale. AZ 88 . If you are wondering what happened to all the fabulous gay men from Club 54 in NYC….look no further. You just have to remember that they are all over 50 now….but none the less fabulous. (Hence the nickname GAY-Z 88).

An appropriate mural hung above the bar during Valentine’s Day week.love.jpg

**photo not taken on night of visit…daytime view pictured here. Still a fabulous mural done by local artist.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on what I loved about this place. Was it the local art? the amazing bathrooms? The simple, yet delicious food that is served to 1 am? The diverse crowd packing the place to the gills? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. We arrived early…around 8ish. The place had a large amount of senior citizens present. (Scottsdale/Phx is full of them!) I found it strange, but upon closer inspection, these were fabulous little old ladies and extravagant gay couples dining before they head out the theatre (located just across the park). Then, a wave of middle aged gay men arrived….looking fierce. When 9 o’clock hit, the flood gates opened. Dinner before hitting the dance clubs located a couple streets over. The buzz of the restaurant was amazing. The bar was packed and getting a table was even harder. We waited over an hour. We didn’t mind…we loved the people watching and were enjoying our spots at the bar. (and my brother in law didn’t make reservations). Once seated we took a quick glance at the menu and found a very unique, yet simple choices: burgers, salads, light apps and decandant desserts. I opted for the hell fire chips…perfectly cooked house-made chips with shaved blue cheese and hot sauce. Delish! As we finished up our little plates and had one more round, the late night young and hip of Scottsdale popped in. Feirce little art majors (who I assume were at the art opening at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemp. Art) popping in to get their long night started. Oh, to be young and feirce.

3 year olds have all the answers

Dinner at Lemp on Sunday…the check came to me….Jake was sitting to my right finishing off my chocolate cake.  I asked Jake if he had any money to pay the bill and handed him the check.  He slowly opened the book, looked pensively at the check as if to be reading it….lifted his head and with the straightest face said ” I don’t have enough cash for this.  Do you think you can cover it?”  Kids these days.