Friday, November 6, 2009


Gratitude has been on my mind for some time now.

Every morning I get up and as I open my eyes I think about how lucky I am for a million little reasons.
I look around me and see what I have in my life, the people who are my family and friends, my clients who become my friends. The people I feed with Susan's Suppers or a cooking class or a catering job.
I give thanks for the soft pillow beneath my head , for the sunshine that streams in my window, for the hot shower that sooths my muscles and cascades over my body.

When I take my walk in the morning I am thankful for the carpet of fiery gold & red leaves that swirl around me. I greet each person with a smile and a wish of happiness for their day and also for mine.

I am choosing to be happy, to see the glass as half full as they say.
I expect good things to happen to me. I know that everything will be all right and that I am where I am suppose to be in my life ~here & now.

I chose to look at the positive side of life, at what I have not what I don't. When you do that you realize how much you truly have. Your world is full of riches~ from the comfort of your home to the ability to stand up straight~ to smile & laugh and to enjoy your life each & every second of every day.
Your life is made of these moments, small little seconds in time that you will look back on and realize that it is what life is truly about.

Enjoy & give thanks for what you have. Be in the moment. Notice who and what is around you. Smile , perform random acts of kindness.. it will elevate your day .
Give thanks for the sunshine, the raindrops the chirping of birds, a good cup of coffee.
Take a moment to look around you and give thanks for all that touches you. It is a wonderful way to live your life!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


This is perfect weather for a hearty bowl of soup or stew...when it is cold and damp outside ~nothing feels better than a delicious bowl of the perfect comfort food !
Here are some of my favorite recipes. Easy to make and tantalizing to eat!


1 cup of celery chopped
1 cup of carrots chopped
1/2 cup onion chopped
1/4 cup parsley chopped
6 Tbsp butter melted
salt & pepper
3 cups cooked chicken chopped
8 cups of chicken broth
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

~in stock pot melt butter & cook celery, carrot, onion & parsley till soft & golden about 10 to 15 minutes, season with salt & pepper.
~add remaining ingredients & simmer soup for about 30 minutes.Wonderfully easy & good !


2 tbs melted butter
2 tbs flour
1~ 15 oz can pears sliced thin
8 cups chicken broth
2 large cans~ canned pumpkin
2 tbs honey
1/2 cup cream

~Make a roux by cooking melted butter & flour together until a golden color.. about 10 minutes whisk in honey & add pumpkin & chicken broth , season and add pears & cream.Simmer for about 20 minutes.Enjoy !

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mushroom Madness

Today we piled into a van and with Clint as our driver headed out for a wonderful day to Chester County .. this was a culinary tour and our first stop was Phillips Mushrooms.
We arrived at Phillips as a light rain fell .. but that did not dampen our enthusiasm or our spirits.
Phillips Mushrooms is located in Kennett Square , the self proclaimed center of Mushrooms.
Phillips is the largest grower of speciality mushrooms in the US established in 1927 it is a 3rd generation family owned run business.
We had the extreme pleasure of having the head grower, Angel as our guide for this fascinating tour through the mushroom houses.
We saw Shiitake , Portabella, Maitaki, Oyster& Crimini , just to name a few.
This is a first class and very busy operation and taking care of this business is a 7 day a week job!
We put on our little caps and masks and we went into each building, learning what mushrooms need to survive and grow. It was a fascinating and informative tour! I think we will never look at mushrooms the same way again.
Below is a wonderful recipe for mushroom soup perfect for these cool autumn days ahead !


3 Tbs.olive oil
3 Tbs butter melted
1/2 lb portabella mushrooms chopped
1 lb of assorted mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 leek chopped
2 shallot chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
salt ~ pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 ~ 40 oz cans chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream ( optional)

~in oil & butter saute onions, celery, garlic ,leeks, shallot until golden and soft add mushrooms and cook till brown and golden .. season with salt , pepper, thyme .. let cool & then puree 1/2 the mixture while adding chicken broth to processor to help mix well .. return to pot and add cream .. simmer until warmed through.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I am excited to announce a new venture for Private affairs Catering ~ starting in September I will be offering a service called Susan’s Suppers . Freshly prepared home cooked food ready to be picked up , heated & enjoyed in the comfort of your home .

With busy schedules starting in the fall ,we hardly have time to complete all that is on our list and usually dinner is just another thing to do !

Make your life easier ! Check out our web site @ for my monthly selection of freshly prepared foods. Served in sturdy microwave container,your dinner will be ready in minutes . Tired of fast food ? eating out too expensive ? try our daily meals ~ for tasty fresh & delicious food !

Pick up days will be Monday & Wednesday between 2 PM & 7:30 PM

Place your order online @, send an email @ or call 610 789 9496.

Menu selections will change monthly with weekly specials added.

Deadline for ordering for Monday pick up is Sunday @ 9 PM
Deadline for ordering for Wednesday pickup is Tuesday @ 9 p.m.

Pick up location ~ 5031 Bond Ave. Drexel Hill PA
We accept cash,checks,visa or master card.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fall Cooking Classes

September is here and with it comes the sound of school buses and the excitement of children going back to school. It was always a exciting time for me .. funny but I love sharp pencils & new white notepads.
I love to learn new things so with that thought in mind I have put together a wonderful list of new cooking classes for the Fall.
It is my favorite time of year. Cool crisp weather begs for comfort foods. Long ,slow simmered vegetables, braised meats, oven roasts, creamy mashed potatoes, sumptuous soups. It is a great time to get out all those pots & pans and cook a wonderful dinner.
If you are looking for some inspiration along with recipes that you will cherish and use over & over~join me in a cooking class! You will enjoy a fun night out filled with laughter, good food & inspiration to go home & cook !
My recipes are easy. I use ingredients you can find in your local markets,and you get to enjoy the meal that I prepare so you can be adventurous & try something new!
Come with a friend and enjoy a great night out and be prepared to be inspired !

Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer's Last Stand

On the way home from the shore we stopped at a roadside farmers market .. it was a tiny shack with a variety of baskets filled with colorful vegetables. I had my pick .. I wandered through the baskets set up outside. A display of assorted peppers caught my eye .. long red Italian hots, something long & purple called holy ~moly , habenaros, pablanos, red ,green, orange bell peppers .I was in pepper heaven. I made my selections and then moved on to the Jersey tomatoes.. so red and fat I could imagine them sliced and laying besides a chunk of creamy mozzarella with ribbons of basil in a bath of extra virgin olive oil!
I then turned my attention to the plump corn .. a dozen of those went into my cart... green beans ,& yellow wax beans were not far behind. White eggplant ~3 for a dollar ! can't beat that !
I picked out plums and apples, yellow watermelon and ripe, fragrant Jersey peaches & nectarines .. my collection of jewels got higher & higher .
It was when I was eyeing up the pumpkins that my husband suggested we wait for that purchase "do you really need pumpkins now ?? "~ "yes"I thought ~but we were out of room .. the car was packed with sandy beach chairs two tired grand kids and enough videos to keep them busy even if we happened to drive to California !
I was thrilled with my purchase. I couldn't wait to go home and cook!
Summer is ending and I think I will miss the Farmers Markets the most!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August Monday

Susan & the cigar man

August Monday is actually a week long celebration .. a Carnival of sorts,with boat races and festivals held at different beaches all week .It is a kaleidoscope of color , a celebration of life & food.
Our beach was hosting the big boat race on Thursday. The early morning was like any other .. we awoke to the sound of the surf and the sun rising~ casting rays through our bedroom window. The sand was like sugar and the blue of the sea was vibrant & calm. The beach was deserted. We put on our suits and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the porch.

The tents were put up earlier in the week and dotted the shore line . Soon the activity began .. as we were bobbing in the water the first of the big boats arrived.. men in colorful shirts hosting the sails and securing the anchor.Within minutes the bay was dotted with sailboats.. each boat a colorful picture to be taken. Spectator boats began arriving and the waters took on a carnival atmosphere.
The big BBQ grills were light and the smoke and flavors of chicken & ribs was in the air.Island music completed the picture as the beach filled with people,food & song awaiting the horn to start the race.
The mood was electrifying , exciting ~all eyes were on the boats .. magnificent with the sails open and ready to go .. the horn sounded and they were off .. flying through the crystal clear blue water toward the horizon...cheers erupted and everyone watched until they turned the point and were out of sight ... now was the time to get something to eat.
We strode through the sand in bare feet .. walking towards the aromas , licking our chops planning what we would order ... chicken& ribs ,fried salt fish, goat soup, johnny cakes, coleslaw, potato salad ,rice & beans ,rum punch.. we couldn't decide so we got it all .. licking our finger with every mouthful. This was good honest food ~prepared right in front of you. It was out of this world!
The tents were filled with people selling food, drinks, beaded jewelry, a man dressed in a crisp white shirt was selling cigars .. we called him the "Cigar Man " and we bought two even though we don't smoke ! too much fun to pass up ! the atmosphere was wonderful .. everyone was dressed with bright island colors and everyone was as friendly as can be!
This was a time for family reunions on the island so families gathered together to reminisce and cheer for their favorite boast to win.
Soon the boats appeared on the horizon and all eyes turned toward the race! We grabbed our cameras and headed to the shoreline cheering and shouting like everyone else .. it was a close race with boats coming in fast & furious .. the winner was BLUEBIRD coming in from a different angle than the rest !! an unexpected win .. cheering was loud as everyone jumped in the water to congratulate the winner !!!
We grabbed a few more rum punches and headed to our balcony to watch the rest of the festivities. We had a front row seat!
Music played into the night...what an exciting day !
Something never to forget and to look forward to again .. .next August Monday ! In Anguilla !

A little bit of Heaven

Hopefully we all have a little bit of heaven tucked somewhere .. a place where we can go to forget about life's stress & obligations ... a place to totally relax and let our mind wander... a place where we can be ourselves with no one to criticize or comment or offer unwanted advice.

Clint & I have found such a place . It is somewhere that we promise each other we will go to no matter what . It is a place where we relax and just enjoy the company of each other . A place with no schedule ... no deadlines .. no obligations~ our little slice of heaven.

We went to our Slice of Heaven for two weeks this August ... no phone, TV, computer.. just he & I talking , reading ,napping~enjoying each others' company.. gazing out at the sea, listening to the surf , watching the sunset & sunrise ,catching up on idle thoughts .. in other words just relaxing!

This is really important .. everyone should have a little bit of heaven in their life .. if only for a few days .. it makes all the difference in the world !

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Music in my Family

I love music I have to admit .. I often write about music as a way to change our moods and get us excited .. my taste varies ~I really do enjoy all sorts of music from rock & roll ,to the standards, oldies too !
I have to say that I have never been musically inclined ... so to speak .. never had the urge to take lessons~ I am just a fan .. but that is not to say that music is not in our family .. quite the opposite!

On my father's side we have a very famous Pianist named Anthony di Bonaventura ~ as a little girl I went to see in him preform in Carnegie Hall .. his brother Mario is a conductor and another brother Sabatino was a music instructor ... I also have a cousin who plays the accordion .. he lives in Italy ~ Emiliano ... he plays professionally & also another famous cousin~ Daniele diBonaventura - plays the Bandoneon, an instrument not widely know here in the states !
My Uncle Funsie played the accordion and my cousin Al has taken up in his footsteps . ..but the most famous and highly talented person I know has to be my brother Stephen .

Stephen started to play the Banjo when he was 12 years old .. he was inspired ,as my mother likes to say , by watching the Beverly Hillbillies on TV. That banjo music created a desire that, to this day is as strong as ever !

Stephen was in the Mummer's String band for years and every New Year's Day had us at the Italian American Club eating & waiting for the band to return so we could celebrate! My brother has a collection of Banjos that is out of this world .. each one designed from a theme.. all hand made !
He plays with a concentration that is intense and we often kid him about giving us a little smile . He has released a few albums and is currently working on another.. and everyone who hears his music is enthralled with it !

Last night he and a few others played in an outdoor venue in Swarthmore .. we picked up my mom & dad , grabbed the lawn chairs and sat in the breezy summer evening enjoying the sounds of light jazz ! there guys were phenomenal ! At one point my husband Clint said it sounded as if more than one banjo was playing at one time ! and only Stephen's fingers were flying across the strings making a unbelievable sound !

I am very proud to have such a talented brother ! and happy to report that music does live in our family !!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caponata~ a Great Summer Recipe !

I love the summertime with all the fresh and wonderful produce there is around .. this is one of my favorite recipes.. you can use just about anything from fresh tomatoes to yellow squash in it ! it is great hot or cold and keeps well in the fridge .. I use it for an antipasto or a side dish or even a main course .. sweet & savory at the same time ~it is just tasty and delicious ! hope you enjoy it !


2 LBS eggplant cubed with skin on
2 zucchini cubed ,skin on
1 large onion chopped
2 ribs celery diced
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 red peppers diced
2 tbs. chopped parsley
1 tbs. capers
1/2 cup black imported olives
1/2 cup olive oil or more
salt & pepper
1/4 red wine vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
2 cups marinara sauce

In oil saute peppers, onion , garlic ,celery, zucchini,eggplant till soft .. add more oil if necessary cook for about 15 minutes & then add remaining ingredients ... cook additional 20 to 30 minutes

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Roasted Summer Veggies

Farmer's Markets have been on my mind yesterday I called my mom up and asked if she would like to take a ride with me to the New Garden Growers Market in Avondale .

My mother is always up for an adventure so I gathered all my canvas shopping totes and off we went .

It was a beautiful morning .. low 80's breezy, sunny~ just spectacular for our ride in to Chester County .

I was told about the New Garden Farmers/Growers Market from Jack Hill of Jack's Jam's and Aaron Esh~an Amish Dairy Farmer .. while on our Chester County tour last Spring we went to visit both of these entrepreneurs on our day trip and they told us that they sell their wares every summer at New Garden .. so with a google map and a pleasant ride we were off!

The Market had about 17 or so vendors under white Canopies... we split up and went to work ~shopping .. my mother is a mega shopper .. for whose of you who have been on a trip with us you know that my mom can out~shop just about anybody ! you would think she has an army of people living in her home ! She is FIERCE ! Every time I passed her she handed me another bag full of goodies ! I made 5 trips to the car for her alone !

We bought brown eggs , purple string beans , luscious corn on the cob , beautiful tomatoes, an assortment of mushrooms ~Shitake, Crimini, King Oyster ! we bought yellow beets and big bright sun flowers .. artisan's breads and even organic chicken..pickled beets & marinated mushrooms ! Jellies from Jack's of course ~he has the best jellies I have ever tasted ! . ...cherry tomatoes and baskets of peaches..plumb blueberries..tiny baby carrots.. we filled the back of my car with fabulous fresh produce !

It was such a nice day .. I took the long way home on Old Baltimore Pike and stopped at a dairy to buy raw milk and organic heavy cream ... fresh whipped butter and an assortment of cheese !

We had lunch in Kennett & headed home .. the car fragrant with flowers and fresh produce !

Anytime I shop like this I always have the urge to cook when I get home ... I wanted to keep it simple but I also wanted to make a blueberry cobbler so knowing that my oven would be on anyway for that I decided to just clean all my veggies toss them with olive oil & kosher salt .. fresh cracked pepper .. I laid them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put them in the oven for about 30 minutes or so ! WOW ! what a meal we had for dinner last night !
Fresh baked bread toasted to a crisp .. a creamy goat cheese and then all the wonderful roasted vegetables ! Of course blueberry cobbler with organic heavy cream poured on top for dessert ! it was a taste of heaven .. a taste of Chester County !

Shop local !!! visit your Farmer's Markets !it is a wonderful feeling eating food that came from the land that we live on ! so fresh , so wonderfully good !I can't wait to go back !