The Short Version
I’ve been obsessed with cooking and eating good food since I was six years old. I fell in love with the mountains when I was 14. Putting those two passions together gives the very short version of who I am and what this blog is about.
For a few more details—I followed my heart from cooking gig to cooking gig until I landed at Bon Appetit magazine. I was the Food Editor for 20 years, where, mixed in with a lot of hard work, it was my joyful responsibility to fill its pages with delicious, modern and reliable recipes. I also got to travel the world in search of stories, and eat a lot of very good food! Then Bon Appetit moved to New York, and I stayed in Los Angeles with my husband, ending my career at the magazine.
For the next several years, I wrote cookbooks (eight in all), and started blogging about cooking. I also taught about food at wellness resorts, as well as at UCLA, and on small cruise ships offering customized trips for museums and alumni groups. Twelve years ago, however, I developed celiac disease, which demanded a change to my diet, one that focused on gluten-free food, and for me that meant fresh and delicious gluten-free food. My writing turned to helping the gluten-free crowd eat more healthfully while still delectably, a challenge when eliminating wheat.
Most recently, I started teaching cooking classes at a local homeless program, and that has turned into an immensely fulfilling project. You can read about that endeavor in the Cooking to Improve Lives section of this blog.
My husband Steve and I share a passion for hiking. Years ago, we started escaping from Los Angeles to trek in the Sierra Nevada mountains with our two big dogs. Recently we became smitten with an area on the Eastern slope of the Sierra, high above the small town of Bishop, California, 280 miles north of LA. We love it so, we return over and over. One day over lunch, my good friend Karen Dannenbaum suggested I share the recipes I cook at our cabin getaway, and link them with stories about our mountain adventures. That conversation led to this redesigned blog.
More about me
The basic info is above, but read on if you want to know more.
My career in food began long before my years at Bon Appetit. I had been interested in cooking and everything about food since I was six, when my grandmother taught me to make the brown sugar thumbprint cookies we called Grandmother Cookies; I was enthralled by the magic of turning flour, sugar, and eggs into something so delicious. During my teen years, my parents opened a country inn and restaurant in southern Vermont, and to earn a ski pass, I helped out. I quickly discovered that I liked working with the chef, and before long I was spending more time in the kitchen than on the ski slopes. One day the chef disappeared and I was drafted as the new chef. I went on to work at other New England inns, restaurants in Washington D.C. and eventually Los Angeles. For four years, I ran a successful catering business in Southern California, and taught at UCLA and many Los Angeles cooking schools.
When I learned about an opening at Bon Appétit, I brushed up on my typing, wrote a résumé, memorized names on the masthead, and went to the offices for an interview. Within a week I was hired as an assistant food editor and began devising recipes for feature stories. Over time, I was promoted to Food Editor, worked with celebrity chefs and notable food writers, visited fabulous restaurants, and ate the food of some of the world’s best chefs.
About 12 years ago I developed celiac disease. I knew immediately that in order to be happy, I had to eat as well as I always had—fresh, simple, farmer’s market-inspired food—but it now had to be free of wheat, rye, barley, and other foods that contain the protein called gluten. Because I am interested in everything about food and cooking, this challenge turned into an enthralling and satisfying project. I attended celiac conferences, read books, and, best of all, experimented in the kitchen.
I love to come up with delicious recipes, and have written eight cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma and Time-Life Inc. My most recent books are dedicated to gluten-free cooking. Weeknight Gluten-Free is filled with recipes for fresh, gluten-free dishes that anyone would love, whether they eat gluten or not. In Gluten-Free Baking I offer goodies and breads using gluten-free whole grains and naturally gluten-free techniques.
I enjoy sharing my knowledge about food and my passion for cooking with new writers and other food professionals. I have been a guest teacher at UCLA and the Art Institute of California. I have spoken at many major food conferences in the country, have appeared on TV food shows and radio programs, and have been a judge for the Julia Child Cookbook Awards. I also served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP).
As busy as I am, I make time to prepare fresh meals at home almost every night. I am first and foremost a cook, and have fun experimenting with the latest ingredients. I shop at Los Angeles farmers’ markets and organic farms in the foothills of the Sierra, and use local and sustainable ingredients whenever practical. To make certain I have a robust appetite for the food I create, in addition to hiking in the mountains, I add in tango dancing and Nordic walking. I live with my husband, Steve Peck, and our two dogs, Atticus Finch and Tango. Steve is my editor, number one taster, and is responsible for the photos on this blog. He calls himself the blographer. Katharine Allen and Tony Phillips, good friends who live in our mountain community, contribute stunning photos as well. My high school buddy Elliott Simons is also a trusted editor.