Meatloaf you say?


Yesterday I made the best meat loaf ever!

Now I understand that everyone who loves meatloaf has their own version. It’s a dish,  like other comfort foods, which must be recreated the way we remember our mothers’ made it. So some people like it wrapped in bacon, others prefer it drenched in tomato sauce or ketchup, some like it dense, others might prefer it permeated with onions. I’ve never, until now, created it to my liking so it’s never really been a go to dinner for me.  But with the torrential rain, a roaring fire and a request from my husband for one of his favorite foods, I endeavored to create my version of meat loaf.  It was sooo good I’m sharing it with you.

I served the meat loaf with roasted potatoes that I sliced almost all the way through to create a fan look, rubbed them with olive oil, lemon thyme and sea salt and roasted them on a baking sheet. In the same oven as the potatoes  I roasted brussel sprouts that I tossed with olive oil and salt in a cast iron skillet.   They all took the same amount of time to cook which made the timing of the dinner perfect! I made the meat loaf in individual sized loaves primarily because my daughter is a genius and she thought they would be cute! She was right, they were.

Just a note the leaner the beef you buy the less fat the meatloaf sits in while it cooks. I placed the meatloaves on parchment paper while they cooked in a 350 degree oven.  The potatoes and brussel sprouts cooked at 400. Total cooking time for all 40 – 50 minutes depending on how accurate your oven is. Really a terrific meal…tonight meatloaf sandwiches on cracked wheat sourdough!

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Furstman Family Meatloaf!


3 lbs lean ground beef

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce

3 large eggs

1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko

1 T pesto

¼ c parmesan cheese

2/3 cup ricotta

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

1/2 lb sliced mushrooms

1 large onion diced

2 cups beef stock

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 c red wine

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, ricotta, pesto, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat add 1 T olive oil and when the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Remove onion from the pan and let cool. When the mixture is cool, incorporate with the other ingredients.

Add the meat to the mixture and gently blend the ingredients until everything is evenly mixed together but don’t mash it to pieces. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Shape the meat into a loaf. I like to make individual loafs about 5 inches by 3 inches. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

While the meatloaf is cooking sauté 1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms in 2 T of butter until they are nicely browned on the edges. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 c of red wine and reduce it until almost nothing is left. Add the broth and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon of each of the chopped thyme, chives and parsley. If you prefer the sauce thicker, sprinkle in 1 T of flour whisking as you add to avoid lumps.

Serve the meatloaf with a spoonful or two of the mushroom herb sauce.








Soaking and Soothing Solutions

 Always searching for ideas to complete my dream home, the pictures of the bathrooms in this article by Lisa Higgins definitely spoke to my soothing, relaxation mood.   Who wouldn’t find refuge in this outdoor private soaking room?
Room with a view…hopefully not for the neighbors…but if you owned the surrounding 25 acres this bath would be ideal. Rain or shine this room provides a beautiful setting for a luxurious soak.
Modern Bathroom by Robert Young
My favorite feature of this bathroom is the door that opens onto the deck with an outside shower feature. I have always loved homes that bring the outside in especially with an elevation. You have the transformational feeling of being in a tree house.–14-Fabulous-Indoor-Outdoor-Bathrooms w=300

Want to read a book in comfortable style?

Just love the feel of this master bedroom. The barn door, the light from the interior dormer windows, dark mahogany wood floors  and crisp white walls…then there is the color of the year, the orchid throw!  Not to mention this Massachusettes bedroom has an ocean view.

Great Ideas for Front Yards!

Variety of wonderfully welcoming front yards!  This article summarizes how to create a harmonious community front yard.  Designs that encourage neighbors to visit and generate a sense of social ability.


Top 10 Restaurants in Napa or Dinner at Home?

The Boon Fly Cafe at The Carneros Inn

You’ve suddenly discovered that you have a free weekend and want to wander up to the valley of locally grown, exquisitely presented, phenomenal cuisine that provides a diversification of wineries that would make France blush. Napa Valley has just posted it’s top 10 Restaurants as well as the top 10 in the North Valley and top 10 Downtown. No need to query where to eat, provided you can get a reservation, here is the link to the regions top picks. My favorites, Auberge and La Toque.

However if you would rather  stay home and enjoy our beautiful weather this weekend. I have a wonderful Pasta and Home-made Sausage recipe that will satisfy your culinary craving. Now before you stumble on the thought of making your own sausage, it’s incredibly easy and you can season it anyway you like.  I use ground pork but you can easily use chicken, turkey or beef.

Here’s the recipe:



1 lb ground pork

½ t baking soda

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp sage

2 t parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 T water



Dissolve salt, baking soda in water. Add pork and mash the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon to combine.  Let sit for 10 minutes.


Add the garlic, thyme, sage, parmesan cheese and 1 t pepper and smear until tacky in nature about 15 seconds will do it. The smearing technique creates the snappy texture of sausage. It stretches the meats proteins to form a strong network which creates the consistency you want.

Pasta & Sausage


Recipe for Sausage

1 clove garlic

½ lb mushrooms finely diced

2 T olive oil

1 c heavy cream

1 lb dried pasta (whichever shape you prefer, farfalle, orecchiette, rotelli)

½ c white wine

¾ c parmesan cheese

2 T fresh chopped parsley

1 t fresh Thyme

½ t salt

½ t pepper



* Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan to medium high and add the sausage to the hot oil breaking it apart as it cooks. Once it is nicely brown on both sides remove the sausage and add it to the heavy cream, set aside.

* To the empty sauté pan add the mushrooms, cook 5 – 7 minutes until nicely brown. Don’t salt them while they are browning because this will draw out their water and the mushrooms won’t brown. Add the garlic, thyme, ½ t salt, ½ t pepper and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the wine scraping up the brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the sauté pan and reduce until evaporated. 

* Cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

* Stir in the sausage and cream mixture with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, simmer for 3 minutes until the consistency will coat the back of a spoon. If the sauce becomes too thick or if you have made it ahead and reheat it add the remainder of the pasta water. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese. Toss with the pasta and parsley.


Note: if you would like to add asparagus, brocolini or kale sauté the vegetable with the mushrooms until tender.  You may also add red pepper flakes to the recipe if you want it a bit spicy.  This can be done when you sauté the vegetables.

Jane Fonda’s New Mexico Ranch : Architectural Digest

Jane Fonda's River House Galleria

I can’t ever resist a ranch, especially when you blur the lines between barn and home. I love the reclaimed wood ceilings in the upstairs library of Jane Fonda’s New Mexico Ranch. There is nothing better than the smell of oiled leather saddles while you are sitting reading a book.  Forked Lightening Ranch is a 2,300 acre property located on the Pecos River. Originally part of a 13,000 acre cattle ranch, the property had only a 2 bedroom log cabin on it when Fonda purchased it.  Staying true to Northern New Mexico architecture and design she set about designing River House so that embodied the physical characteristics and style of the region.

Jane Fonda's Dining Area







Jane Fonda : Jane Fonda’s New Mexico Ranch : Architectural Digest.

Natures Lighting


Having lived for the majority of my life in a home with skylights I can attest to the softness of this type of lighting. From the early morning sunrise to the twinkling of the stars at night you are constantly surrounded with what the earth is moving through. It has a calming effect. My favorite days are rainy ones, the sound of the water on the skylights is soothing. There is a natural light that fills a room with windows to the sky that can not be duplicated with electricity. I love the examples shown in this link.  Outside patios as well as attic rooms, great ideas.

Wine and Beef make?

Yesterday was National Drink Wine Day….so in honor of that I am sharing one of my favorite go to, heart warming, phenomenal tasting, beef braises (I like that word better than stew).  Now the first secret to making a tender braise is to not buy the “stew” meat they sell in the market because it’s generally just butchers’ scraps. Which means that there is loin meat in the mix and that particular cut of meat doesn’t lend itself to low and slow cooking. If you use loin meat your braise will be stringy and tough. The optimal cut for a slow braise is a Beef Chuck Roast, a Pork Butt (which really is the Shoulder),  or a Lamb Shoulder. Here’s my recipe tenderly adapted over the ages! Please enjoy it’s been perfected to a tee.


Beef Braise (Stew, Bourgignon, Ragout de Beouf)


1T olive oil

8 ounces applewood smoked bacon, diced

2 – 3  pounds chuck roast (I leave mine whole but you can easily cut it into cubes for a more stew appearance)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 carrots, sliced in half diagonally

2 carrots cut in small 1/2″ pieces

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup Cognac

2 cups good red wine

2 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 springs fresh parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 pound frozen whole onions

1 pound fresh mushrooms quartered

Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Add the oil to the Dutch oven and sear the Roast on both sides. You want a really nice brown sear to the meat. Remember brown means flavor.  Remove the beef and add to the plate with the bacon and  Set aside.

Toss the halved carrots, halved celery and diced onions into the pan and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are nicely caramelized. Add 1 t of salt and 1/2 t pepper. Add the tomato paste and brown slightly for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Stir everything together and add the Cognac, let it simmer for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook for 3 minutes then pour in the stock and bring everything to a simmer.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that collected. Tie the thyme and parsley together in a bundle and add them to the pot. Put the lid on and place it in the over for 2 1/2  hours.

Take the carrots, the celery and the thyme/parsley bundle out of the braise. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions, the mushrooms and the 2 carrots you chopped earlier. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Sprinkle with the parsley, taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I discard the carrots and the celery from the braise because they are too soft for my palette. They do taste wonderful though because my husband actually waits until I remove them from the pot and sneaks in the kitchen to eat them before I give them to the dogs with their dinner!

Now what to serve this wonderful dish with.  My daughter and I love polenta, my sons love mashed potatoes and my husband loves a pappradelle pasta.  A Kale salad with a classic vinaigrette, a Kuleto Zinfandel, your family and life doesn’t get any better. This is a great Sunday night Family dinner.