Gretchen McKay

A519 Chocolate turns into a sweet career

With dual degrees in neuroscience and psychology, Amanda Wright possesses both a knack for problem-solving and the patience of a saint. Two skills that served her well as a research assistant studying adolescent brain development at the University of Pittsburgh. Yet, ever since she was little, the soul of an artist burned inside. When she […]

Raise your spirits this winter with toasty cocktails

Nothing may be more pleasurable at day’s end than a well-crafted cocktail. The clink of ice on glass, the magical mix of sweet, sour and alcoholic — it’s a great way to unwind and be merry, especially during the holiday season. But who says a great drink has to be cold? This time of year, […]

McLaughlin Distillery crafts fine spirits in Sewickley Hills

Kim McLaughin crafts some mighty fine spirits in the abandoned party house he’s been renovating the past year in Sewickley Hills. It’s an avocation turned vocation that’s totally hip but not all that surprising for an easy-going outdoors-type whose roots are in rural farming. Following a four-year stint in the Marines after high school, the […]

The scoop on vegetable ice cream

Ice cream is a sweet treat that is easy to fall in love with, and it tastes all the more heavenly in summer, when hot days and humid nights beg for something cool on the tongue. And if you churn it yourself, that’s really something to scream about. You don’t even need fancy ingredients — […]

Refreshing cocktails for summer

When it comes to a cold adult beverage, I almost always opt for a hop-heavy pour of India pale ale. It’s a learned taste, to be sure, but one that never seems to disappoint. But when Pittsburgh’s steamy, sticky weather rolls around, making T-shirts stick to your ribs like a damp shower curtain, I thirst […]

Into the (Wild) Woods of New Jersey

                    WILDWOODS, N.J. — Beach vacations, done right, have a magical way of getting you to eat, drink and do things you’d normally steer clear of on a regular weekday. Take roller coasters. I hadn’t been on one in years, ever since a wild ride on […]

Jazz up corn on the cob

Lots of sweet butter and a sprinkle, or two, of salt. Maybe some freshly ground black pepper, if a shaker’s within easy reach on the picnic table. That’s how so many of us enjoy fresh-picked corn on the cob. It’s hard to go wrong with tradition, but simple isn’t necessarily better when it comes to […]

George Mason’s Gunston Hall plantation offers a look at 18-century Virginia life

MASON NECK, Va. — George Washington’s Mount Vernon tends to get all the attention when it comes to historic homes in the Washington, D.C., area, and deservedly so: One of the most-visited Colonial sites in America, the white mansion with its 21 elegantly appointed rooms offers an authentic glimpse into the 18th-century plantation life of our first president. And […]

Chronic bowel disease doesn’t deter Pittsburgh runner

A love of running did not come naturally to Lauren Moran. If anything, the Baldwin native considered moving her legs forward in anything faster than a slow crawl as punishment — and she was on both the soccer and track teams in high school. “I hated to run,” says Ms. Moran, 34, of Bloomfield. “For […]

After family members’ suicides, woman heals her emotional wounds through running

For months after her older brother Allan’s suicide in November 2002, Amy Jacobson was numb. It was as if the Maryland college student had fallen into a big black hole of nothingness where the only emotion that churned inside her body, after the initial shock wore off, was total detachment. Allan had been the brainy […]

Serve afternoon tea, the “Downton Abbey” way

If you’re a fan of “Downton Abbey,” chances are you’re soon to be in a funk. After six seasons, PBS’s “Masterpiece” series will air its series finale March 6, leaving scores of Anglophiles crying in their crumpets. It’s been a long, slow ride where — admit it — it sometimes feels like nothing ever happens at the […]

A day at the beach, without sand or surf

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Summer is quickly coming to a close but if you’re headed to the nation’s capital before Labor Day, there’s still time to squeeze in a quick trip to the beach. Just don’t worry about packing sunscreen, a beach bag or even a bathing suit. “The BEACH” exhibit at the National Building Museum’s Grand […]