Steamed Baby Artichokes
©Simple Baby Artichokes by Dena T Bray

When I last wrote on these pages, I spoke about patience. A family member had been ill and was recovering from surgery. As a family, we had to cultivate the patience to get through that painful period. While his body is healed, we are now cultivating the strength to heal emotionally. I haven’t written on Gathering Flavors for a while because I was starting to feel like I had nothing more to say. I now recognise that feeling as something different. What I have to say has always been there, I just didn’t have the strength to give it a voice. Fear got in the way. My fear is of the unknown. I believe that we’ll heal completely from this ordeal, but I don’t know that yet because it hasn’t happened. I think that readers who come across this post will embrace what I have to say about fear and pain, but I won’t know until I send out this post and hear from some of you individually. I know about my hurt and the balance I need between connecting publicly about this, but I don’t know how much my family is ready to share. So, to protect their privacy, I parse my words out with great care.

What I do know is that when I’ve reached out to friends and acquaintances during this difficult period, no one has ever run away or told me that they don’t want to hear what I am going through. Rather, there’s been a universal offering of warmth and love—a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while made room in her schedule to lunch with me in Brattleboro. Without asking, a neighbor saw to it that our mailbox was replaced after the road crew knocked it over during a storm. A cousin, who is facing her own problems, wrote me a note of optimism. All this serves to remind me that while fear is my protector, letting go of it in the right places, with the right people, a bit at a time, allows healing to move in its place.

©Three Artichokes by Dena Testa Bray

I spied these beautiful baby artichokes at the grocer earlier this week. I was drawn to their colors—rich greens and purples with a hint of gold—and their shape is unique and lovely. So beautiful, I didn’t want to cook them as much as I wanted to admire them. I decided to cook them in a way that respects their natural beauty while bringing out their flavors. These Steamed Artichokes with Lemon and Butter are tender and delicious. Steaming them allows them to be kept intact but makes the outer leaves tender and easy to pull off, douse with butter and bite right into. As you peel back each layer, more circles of more tender leaves unfold, leading you to their tender and sweet heart. I’ll remember this as I peel back the layers of fear and hurt in order to regain my strength and find my own heart anew.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


© Wide Open Artichoke by Dena Testa Bray


Yield: 8 Servings


  • 8 baby artichokes, rinsed and trimmed
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • Juice of one lemon


  1. Place the artichokes in the bottom of a large pan. They should be arranged with the stem down. Add enough water to cover each artichoke up to about half. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the artichokes are tender, about 20 minutes. The artichokes are done when the inner leaves can be pulled out easily.
  3. While the artichokes are steaming, melt the butter in a small pan. Add the lemon juice and stir. Add a bit of sea salt.
  4. When the artichokes are tender, drain the water off. Place one artichoke on each of 8 small serving plates. Drizzle with the melted butter and lemon juice.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  6. Enjoy.


  1. Cooking times will vary dependent on the size and freshness of your artichokes.
  2. This recipe is written assuming the artichokes will be served as a side dish. For a main course, serve two of the steamed artichokes instead of one. Sprinkle with a bit of your favorite cheese or some chopped eggs.
  3. For a full meal, serve with Light Carrot Soup, Fragrant Onion Rolls, Maple Chipotle Meatballs and Strawberry Jam Cake for Dessert.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.