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A local harvest for culinary and real estate tips

Is the art of cooking linked in any way to the way we look at real estate? Through the experience of Cambridge agent Laura Palumbo-Hanson, we discovered that it certainly can be!

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Fall colors, flavors and smells undoubtedly strike a chord here in New England. Each year we look forward to the combination of tasty food, warm company, and comforting space. We all know what that feels like, but it takes a special curator and unique a set of skills to orchestrate the true home-felt autumn experience.

In the world of real estate wehave coined the term secret sauce, for theinsider tips and tricks that set us apart from the rest and help us to provide the best possible service within the industry. Cambridge real estate expertLaura Palumbo-Hansonnot only has her secret sauce for selling homes down pat, she has also shared with us her professional experience in recipe-testing and insights from creating her own staples for loved ones.

On a crisp afternoon this past October, Laura seemingly gazed into the past as she recalled being told by family and friends that when she was a child, her cooking was simply outstanding.

I always thought that people were just being nice to me. But it was true, that cooking felt as though it came naturally, she noted. Following her gut and leaning into this newfound strength Laura discovered over the years that she actually was quite talented and felt particularly fulfilled when she was able to bring joy to others through her craft.

At one point in Lauras continuous cycle of shaping and sharing plates, a neighbor (who happened to work as an editor for Cooks Illustrated magazine) tried some of her home cooking. He was in need of a recipe-tester at the time, and immediately thought of Laura and her sharp, project-perfecting mind for the task.

It was then, fifteen years ago, that Laura received the email inviting her to sign on as a recipe tester for their publicationone of the most-trusted cooking magazines in the countrya product of the widely-renowned Americas Test Kitchen.

If you pick up an issue of this gorgeous magazine or visit the website, a tagline will read: Foolpoof Recipes. Unbiased Reviews. Become a better cookguaranteed. Its no wonder why Laura didnt hesitate to affiliate with the company and brand, despite her busy schedule. The values, promise, and results organically translated to her career in real estatewhich will certainly hold true when hearing testimonials from her clients.

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The team at Cooks would send over recipes intended for publication and influence. Lauras role was to make sure the instructions were traceable, the ingredients source-able, and that the end results tastefully impactful. The diligence, attention to process, and radar for that something specialthe secret saucehas fueled her ability to assist her clients. And for Laura, her clientsincludeCook's Illustrated Magazineas well as all those who are looking to find the right buyer or the right home.

Although Laura has to maintain confidentiality regarding the recipes she has tested, she did say that her favorite bundle of instructions lead to a savory dish of butternut squash with pasta.

Thinking about my favorite experience and dish that I tested for Cooks reminds me of a personal recipe I wrote and prepared. Also featuring a savory squash as the lead role, it notably captured the approval of her audience of friends and family. This dish is called the Southwestern-Stuffed Acorn Squash, and as Laura tells it, is the perfect entree to serve when the wind starts to chill, or you feel yourself coming down with a cold. (See below for recipe!)

Cooking for loved ones takes Lauras mind to the heart of where it all happensher kitchenwhich just happens to be one of her favorite places to be. Between the marble counter tops and the pouring natural light, she describes an optimal level of functionality in her Chefs kitchen in Cambridge. This personal sanctuary was a result of a renovation she had done a few years backa product that reminds her of many conversations she has had with various clientsas they browsed inventory on the market.

Most people find the available kitchen space very important, Laura explains. When I think about all of the clients that I have helped and their personal needs for the ideal kitchen, it really came down how they defined that end goal. Laura explains the what allows for these goals to becomereality is understanding what the space itself can offerwhat can be made possible. With the right guidance, she says, planning a personalized kitchen can become part of the budget when shopping for the perfect home.

Laura will be spending this Autumn between her homes in Cambridge and Waterville Valley, where she will craft warm, heartfelt meals for friends and family. She remains dedicated to helping her clients find or market their kitchenswhere the art of creating and serving truly begins.

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 3 Acorn Squash (3/4 -1 lb each)
  • 1 lb Italian Chicken Sausage casing removed
  • 1 medium Vidalia Onion chopped
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon Chile Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes chopped
  • 1 15-once can Black Beans rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • Several Dashes Hot Red Pepper Sauce
  • 1 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375*. Lightly coat a large cookie sheet w/oil or cooking spray.
  2. Cut squash in half horizontally. Scoop out and discard seeds. Cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake until tender about 45 minutes.
  3. Lightly coat a large skillet with oil or cooking spray heat to medium. Add sausage and cook stirring and breaking it up until browned 4-5 minutes. Add onion and red pepper, cook stirring often until softened 3-5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, beans, salt and hot sauce scrapping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer until tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes.
  4. When the squash is tender turn the oven down to 325*. Fill the squash halves with the sausage mixture top with cheese. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted 8-10 minutes.


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