“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” — Vincent Van Gogh


Photo credit: Rebecca Penovich


A wise friend once remarked, “You are never sorry when you eat an orange.”

And that is so true.  Oranges pick you up and make you feel brighter, cleaner, sunnier. I’m in need of a pick-me-up this morning as we’ve received news of a favorite elderly relative who has died.  I’m too sad to reminisce now but I will share thoughts in a later post.

Instead I will share some of my favorite things, inspired by orange.  Then maybe I’ll feel better and fortified for the upcoming travel to say goodbye to someone I loved.


Chinese saucer

This saucer looks great in our light grey bathroom. It looks antique to me but it’s not. $1 at the thrift store.
Now THAT makes me happy.
Photo credit:  Rebecca Penovich


My friend, Josie, works at a local farm stand and once gifted me with a huge box of vegetables at the end of their selling day.  I was challenged to find recipes for cooking them all.  (Note to self:  need to cook and eat more vegetables so it won’t seem so daunting.)


Photo credit: Rebecca Penovich

Here are a some of the recipes I made:

My favorite roasted carrot recipe:


Simple Roasted Carrots


  • 6 large carrots, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, liberal amounts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I’ll also use chopped fresh mint or thyme if I have them on hand)


  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Toss the carrots with the olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Place in casserole dish, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.  (NOTE: You don’t need to fuss with parchment paper; I just laid the cooked carrots on parchment for the photo.)
  • Toss with the fresh herbs.
  • Feel good about yourself because you ate your carrots!

I think the key to this recipe is roasting the carrots covered instead of exposed in the oven like other roasts.  It gives them the tender texture like the carrots you braise with a pot roast but they are not mushy.  Try it sometime!

And in closing, some bright flowers I arranged earlier this year.

I buy flowers for myself all the time (from the grocery store.)  Go ahead and disassemble the supermarket arrangement and break up the bouquet into 2-3 different vases.  Grab something green from your yard (a sprig from a bush, a small branch with some leaves on it) and go for it.  It will make you smile when you look at it.

Orange flowers

Photo credit: Rebecca Penovich

“Be calm. God awaits you at the door.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

Mixed Grill with Root Vegetables

Corks & Cake Contributor:  Lee Ojascastro


We are cooking the rainbow.

We are cooking the rainbow.


From time to time on Corks & Cake we will invite some of our favorite ladies and gents from around the country to tell us what they are buying, loving, eating, cooking, drinking, or growing.  Here is one such lady, Lee Hassett Ojascastro, my dearest friend from college, who hails from St. Louis, where she cooks, substitute teaches elementary school, and entertains in wildly stylish fashion with her husband and young son.


Last week we had a warm, breezy Wednesday night in St. Louis.  After some freaky weather here in the midwest, this night felt like early summer, drawing us out to grill even though it was only midway through the work week.

Ready for the grill.  Believe me, grilled brussel sprouts are a relevation. Photo by Lee Ojascastro

Ready for the grill. Believe me, grilled Brussels sprouts are a relevation.
Photo by Lee Ojascastro


In addition to the usual zucchini, we threw root vegetables into the mix, using yellow beets, Brussels sprouts, and sliced Bermuda onion.We cut up the beets, green zucchini, Brussels sprouts, Bermuda onion, lightly brushed them with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt, freshly ground Malabar black pepper, and a dash of sugar.   We threw some baby carrots into the mix and gave them a coating as well. The yellow beets don’t really need the sugar but the Brussels sprouts seriously benefit from it.

We have been grilling everything with our new “Cookina” grill cooking sheet from the online store TheGrommet.com (my favorite place to interweb shop besides Amazon.) The Cookina is a flexible, non-stick mat that can withstand temperatures up to 500°.  It’s great for the grill because you don’t have to worry about your vegetables falling through the grate and you don’t have to take the time to skewer them or worry about them sticking to your dirty grill (hey, husband, note to self:  brush off the grill.)  It’s food-safe, reusable and reversible!

We’ve also been chopping up and grilling kale (don’t bother removing the spines). The kale’s sharp green flavor combined with the sweetness of the beets and the lemony smoothness of hummus is a taste sensation you don’t want to miss!


Rebecca’s Note:  Here is a well-written recipe for Grilled Kale from Barton Seaver’s new book, Where There’s Smoke, posted on one of my favorite food blogs, Leite’s Culinaria. Check it out.


Grilling over high heat. Flip them once or often?

High heat, no skewers, no sticking to the grate with our new grill mat!


St. Louis-style barbecue pork steaks in the foil packets, upper right. Photo by Lee Ojascastro

St. Louis-style barbecue pork steaks in the foil packets, upper right.
Photo by Lee Ojascastro


We have pork steaks in the foil packets on the top grill shelf in the photo above. It is a St. Louis tradition to grill ‘pork steaks’ on Memorial Day weekend.  For those of you who may not have heard of pork steak, it is a cut of pork shoulder (also called pork shoulder blade) found in all of our grocery stores. Here is a great explanation of the cut and the method by fellow St. Louis cook Kitchen Riffs.  Grill them, then braise them in a liquid on the grill over indirect heat (or in the oven at low temperature) for 90-120 minutes to make them tender. (Note: this is a special cut that has a lot of necessary marbling; do not try to substitute pork loin, tenderloin, or chops because they will be dry as the Sahara.)

Here’s how my husband and I prepare them:

  • Sprinkle the pork with kosher salt, black pepper, sugar and garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Sear the pork until you have grill marks on both sides the way you like them, then wrap each pork steak tightly in foil.
  • You can add whatever barbecue sauce you like (or a combination of barbecue sauce and beer) to the packets, but frankly I prefer them undressed.
  • Place over indirect heat on the grill (we use the top shelf) for 1 1/2 or 2 hours depending on their thickness.

They are fall-apart tender and are juicy and amazing. The grilled beets, Brussels sprouts and some quinoa are a perfect match.  My husband, who adores spice, likes to sprinkle ground cumin over his pork steak before digging in.

Also a good match:  cold Chardonnay of your choice.

A cold glass of chardonnay.  Stemless, so you can also garden (pull random weeds) while you are grilling.

A cold glass of chardonnay. Stemless, so you can also garden (pull random weeds) while you are grilling.


Serve it forth with lemony hummus.

Serve it forth with lemony hummus.


We serve our mixed vegetable grill with lemony hummus.  I like the Sabra brand of hummus but doctor up the flavor with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and a splash more of my favorite olive oil.

Easy, healthy and good!  Try root vegetables on your grill this summer.