Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Favorite Things

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving I blast the Christmas carols.  Traditionally, a week before Christmas my family is ready to crucify me.

In any case, each December we choose and test-run a new album.  Last year we invested in and were disappointed by Annie Lennox's.  This time we bought and fell in love with KiHo'alu Christmas, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.  My favorite quirky album has got to be the one pictured here. Listening, you may find Martha Wainwright's "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year," incorporates all the wistful angst of scattered adult Christmases, while Rufus Wainwright's dark and dismal "Counting Stars," from its first dissonant notes makes my daughter and me giggle uncontrollably.  What are your seasonal music traditions?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet Somethings for shipping

 In case you need gift ideas for shipping off, a few ideas spring to mind.  The first time I tasted pears courtesy Harry and David, it was as if I had never tasted a pear before--recently I found a great promotion slipped into the pages of Sunset magazine. Need chocolate with a twist?  Senor Murphy's, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is wonderful, and I'm always sorry more people haven't heard of them.  Try the bolitas (fudge, surrounded by chocolate, then chopped almonds) or Twin Peaks, two almonds in a blob of caramel, dipped in dark chocolate.

Perhaps you're dashing off somewhere and need a hostess gift quick--swing by The Little Flower Candy Co. Pricey, but delicious and lovely to behold during Christmas time.
But I'll be you already knew that.

Feeling frugal, and like baking? Two of my favorites here and here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Something different.

Now's the season for Fuyu persimmons.  They don't have to be mushy soft, or cooked,  like the Hamachi variety, to be palatable. Raw  these are firm, crisp, mildly sweet, with a flavor all their own.  Let me know if you're a fan.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thank you for asking

Yes, still in the dark.  On the upside I have a very clean refrigerator.
I tackled it like a triage unit: what is the most vital and perishable?
That one was easy, we all know room-temperature vodka is vile.  I made sure to polish it off
before tackling anything else.  And after that, what could possibly matter?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thank You
  for all my hands can hold--
   apples red,
    and melons gold,
     yellow corn
       both ripe and sweet,
         peas and beans
          so good to eat!

Thank You
 for all my eyes can see--
  lovely sunlight,
   field and tree,
    white cloud-boats
     in sea-deep sky,
      soaring bird
       and butterfly.

Thank You
 for all my ears can hear--
  birds' song echoing
   far and near,
    songs of little
     stream, big sea,
      cricket, bullfrog,
        duck and bee!

--by Ivy O Eastwick

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reality Check

Driving down a busy street  I noticed a long line of people.    What was the draw?  What was the event?
A closer look and I realized it was a food bank.

Well, my lads and lasses, I consider myself a generous person.  I'm sure you are one, as well.  I respect the charities to which I send my funds; none of them, however, address hunger in the city where I live.  This week I'm dropping off funds at the food bank, so they can buy the foods they need to stock, and I gently recommend that you, kind reader, consider it as well.

(Although knowing my readers they're waaay ahead of me).

Friday, November 11, 2011


Faithful readers, please check out my story here, published today, on fiction365.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dr. Drew Shameless Shill

Yes, people die, people die in required surgery, people die from elective surgery. But the lap band deaths display an incredible disregard to medical procedures, monitoring and follow up.  The industry preys on those who face our cultural opprobrium of obesity--and I feel for people who think this operation is their salvation.

Dr Drew currently promotes it on radio ads.  What I want to know, doc, is would you really recommend it to someone you loved?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gourgeres, if you dare--

Pay no attention to the quantities of butter, cheese, and beating.  Keep your mind focused on the result, and an accompanying quaff of champagne.

This is one of those standard French recipes apparently everyone knows so well they can tinker with it--a tip of the toque to Dorie Greenspan.

Melt a stick of butter, along with one half cup milk and one half cup of water in a heavy saucepan.  Add half a teaspoons salt, bring to a fierce boil then add one cup flour.  Beat like a mad woman from Chaillot, over low heat, until the flour is fully incorporated, and a more or less cohesive mass.  Continue cooking and beating for a moment or two longer, then turn into a mixing bowl, where the mass needs to cool for a few minutes, before you begin incorporating the eggs.

One at a time, beating each egg in until it is fully incorporated, add five eggs.  Whew!!!  Now  add a mixture of grated cheeses: cheddar, gruyere, maybe some chives, perhaps a smattering of nutmeg, but around 6 ounces or one and a half cups of hard, flavorful cheeses.

Spoon the mixture onto your silpat or greased cookie sheet, a tablespoon at a time.   Pop into a a 425 degree oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 375.

If you have an uneven oven like mine, turn the trays after ten minutes.  Should take between 20 to 30 minutes.
Long enough to clean and dry the champagne glasses.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpking Cravings

 Our dining companions, clearly more sophisticated than us, for we scanned right past it on the menu, ordered it.  Out came the oven-toasted flatbread, covered with slivers of cooked pumpkin, feta cheese, prosciutto, arugula and a scattering of toasted pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin was tender and slightly sweet, a terrific foil for the bitterness of the greens and the crunch of the seeds.  An evening of good wine, food and friends, but even now all I can think about is that unexpectedly delicious flat bread.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The night of the living unread

When you pass on book after book, you have to wonder, is it them, or is it you? 
Here is an abbreviated list of books I have been unable to finish recently, followed by my excuses.

 Robert Harris, author of  The Ghost Writer, the basis of one of my favorite films from last year, also penned Archangel. BBC made a series out of this, starring Daniel Craig, another seal of approval.  Mr. Harris is an amazing writer, just pick up Imperium and you will find yourself privy to the mind and soul of Roman Cicero, and you will care, and care deeply.  Halfway through Archangel, set in Russia five years back, however, I still had no idea what the title referred to, nor why I should care. Nyet.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson, whose book jacket details his many fellowships, awards, and a photo which reveals him to appear about 19; this is one of those novels that has been glowingly praised just about everywhere.  So hip and arty that if flies far above my pedestrian interests in plot and plausibility. Halfway through I finally realized I'd rather have an ingrown nail than follow their lives any further.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  Incomprehensible.  Intentionally so.  Put me right in my place and I returned said novel to its rightful place--somewhere between the potato peels and the coffee grounds.
Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle.  I'll confess, this one's all me.  The preface alone reminded me how little I've done with my life--and instead of galvanizing me forward I kind of got paralyzed, and was unable to turn to the next page.

Gentle reader, which novels do you admit to being unable to read to the very bitter end?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just say "No" to bland white fish

Tilapia's a recent addition to the American dinner table, and if you don't mind buying it from China, quite the deal.  But where's the zest?

Saute one rather finely sliced onion, one red or orange or yellow bell pepper (too many green bell peppers spoiled the foods of my childhood) and a teaspoon or so of minced garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook on low until soft, say at least ten minutes.  Add  four diced tomatoes, cover and let the vegetables cook down, over low.

Once the tomatoes have self-destructed into sauce,  add a tablespoon of capers and a tablespoon or more of sliced green olives.  Then gently lay your boneless, skinless filets of tilapia over the vegetables, and again gently, cook covered on low, until the filets are cooked through. Not sure how to judge that?  The fish will flake when prodded with a fork.

Serve over rice and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I am a bad consumer

The other day I needed to replace something.  I realize "something" is vague; for the purposes of this exploration let's call it the sturdy hand towel, that has graced my downstairs bathroom for years, or perhaps it was a search for a bright shiny saucepan to replace the one that's been seasoned perfectly and dented by years of use.   No matter, I had a mission.

There is a problem living in a quiet neighborhood.  Most other places qualify as  sensory overload, and so it was with my excursion.  It was not the cinnamon scented Yankee candles, it was not the rows of Thanksgiving knicks and knacks, nor the spry and fey Santas so festively garlanded.  Nope.  It was the announcers coming from the tv monitors.

The announcers, certain of my reluctance to buy and incompetence in using their products, stalked me through the rows and aisles.  They insisted I learn how to build a gingerbread train using their kit; how to set a perfect table; how to fold a napkin; how to use a swiffer; how to competently snap shut their storage boxes, how to use a magazine rack, over and over and over again.  I surrendered my credit cards to the first store clerk I came across, and fled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Musical Detour

Perhaps you missed LA Opera's version of "Cosi fan Tutte."
It was based on the Glyndebourne Festival's version.
See of clip of that here

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Food for Thought

In the spirit of Altadena Hiker, a haunting tune.
Swedish, by origin, and the lyrics are about wandering far and wide,
with a lunch made of blue and yellow milk, bread without butter or cheese.
How ignorant I am, when I asked the student who introduced me to this song.
What does blue and yellow milk mean?
Rancid, she answered.
Even Sweden had its moments.

Right here.

Monday, October 3, 2011


It seemed a simple enough recipe, from my trustee go-to book in all things Italian, by Marcella Hazan.  For years I'd sliced chicken breasts lengthwise, thin filets cooking in minutes, tender and juicy. This particular recipe called for doing that, and filling them with a ground pork mixture.  Check.  Then it called for tying up the bundles "like a roast."

I don't know how you tie up a roast.  How hard could that be?
Since my hands were sticky with raw chicken and my stomach growling with hunger, I didn't bother to google it.  I had the appropriate twine in my utility drawer, and, I, which I thought was rather nifty and farsighted, cut said twine into six long strands.  I then proceeded to bundle up raw chicken, cooked pork, supplemented by, when necessary, toothpicks.

I should have remembered that I use gift bags--not gift wrap.  With all the pork filling spilling out I felt like I was trussing a mobius strip.

Never mind!  I moved forward, sauteeing the little suckers, er, bundles, which Marcella reminded me should cook rather quickly.  I cooked them longer than I thought necessary, and then a little longer for good luck.

My dinner companions cut through the twine, removed the toothpicks, and sliced up their savory chicken bundles to reveal raw meat.  Through and through.  Bravely, they microwaved what was on their plate.
So did I.  Now it tasted like a chicken who had died in vain.  I scraped it back into the pan and made my dinner of spinach, Ceasar salad, and viognier.  Lots of viognier.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I don't usually pop for over $10 for most bottles of wine, particularly a rose,
but this one called to me from the wine racks at Whole Foods. Gorgeous deep color, fruity and balanced,  $13 of summer, to the very last drop.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hyperbole and a Half's Cake

 Blue? Tired? Despondent?
You must read this. Now.
It should make you forget your troubles
for as long as it takes to read it, and then some.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moules Mariniere

Does cooking seafood frighten you?  Does just looking at it give you the shivers?

I remember going to Tijuana as a kid and watching them crack open clams, adding lime, onions, hot sauce,
cilantro and making a spectacular cocktail.  Or, digging on the beach and coming up with those wildly
iridescent interiors of mussel shells. Shell fish was always an exotic item, and never served at home.

But mussels are easy!  Sustainable, and relatively inexpensive:

In a soup pot saute two tablespoons of butter.  Add and saute a minced shallot.  Splash in a half cup of white wine and let it boil down a bit. Bring to a simmer. Throw in your pound of freshly rinsed mussels (somehow they no longer have beards, those bits of grit you have to pull out of them) cover, and cook--5-7 minutes on low, until all the mussels have opened.

Garnish with parsley.  Serves one mussel hungry person.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August Recommendations

5. Key lime pie at La Grande Orange
4.  Fried duck egg on grilled asparagus at Kings Row Gastropub.
3. A free concert at Farnsworth Park amphitheater in Altadena or the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena.
2. Caprese salad with home grown tomatoes.
1. Drinks on the veranda with family or friends or both.

What delights do you have to recommend for this wonderful month?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Simple Things

You probably already have your favorite grilled salmon recipe.  Maybe thick steaks, lightly salted,
grilled long enough to cook the exterior and keep the interior medium rare.  Heaven.
Perhaps  filets, marinated for an hour or so in orange juice, parsely, salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. 

Here's my latest pick, courtesy of a favorite friend.

Make or buy your batch of pesto.  If you're using Marcela Hazan's recipe here, just blend the basil, salt, olive oil and pine nuts. You won't need the butter or Parmesan cheese.

Take your one to two pound salmon filet, skin-side down, and spread your pesto gently to cover the top of the fish.  Carefully place, again, skin-side down, on pre-heated grill, set to low low low.

Cooking time depends on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the fish.  If you like it cooked thoroughly the fish is done when flaky on top.
Remove from grill; if removing it in one piece seems tricky, remove it in serving portions.
I guarantee you will love the contrast between the pink salmon and the dense green pesto.

Serve with a luscious potato salad, and some sliced tuscan melon.  It's summer, after all!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breatherians Unite!

My scale is telling me that I am transforming into a breatherian.

I'm not keen on this change, as I have long had an attachment to consuming nourishment the traditional way.  On the upside, it's slashing our food bill and I'll have tons of pots, pans, etc to donate to Goodwill.  The family won't miss my cooking, they've always been resentful of the lack of convenience food.

Any sister breatherians out there with wise coping tips?  I don't have much hope, knowing that faithful commenters here here and here are slender lasses.  One in particular (no names) hides her stash of evening sweets from the kids.  Sigh.  It's hard living here on the astral plane---

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crabby Patties

Life is simple. It is our expectations that seem to complicate everything.

For dinner all you need is the right bottle of white or rose, summer, crab cakes and chipotle mayonnaise.

For each pound of crab you will need:
one egg
1 tsp seafood seasoning
two tablespoons mayo
two tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup bread crumbs
half a bell pepper (red, orange or yellow, they're so much more festive than pedestrian green)
Minced chives (optional, adds a nifty bit of color)
season responsibly.

Mince your bell pepper and sautee in a tablespoon of butter until soft.  Cool.
Mix all of the above ingredients together.  Form into manageable patties, about  a tablespoon or saute, and
saute briefly until browned on both sides.  Serve on a bed of arugula.  If you don't like chipotle mayo blend some wasabi into a tablespoon of mayo and sour cream.  Kapow! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tanked Ogre

Who can imagine that something dealing with "split-strike leveraging" could be so compelling, and ultimately a page-turner?

A flim flam man people simply wanted to believe.
I've worked with one or two people like that, haven't you?

No recommended menu here, only a confirmation of my own biases, on business self-interest.

"Life's exactly as it looks
Love may triumph in the books
Not here"

---Song of Ogres
         W H Auden

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why not a frittata?

One hungry morning  I found leftover string beans from the dinner the evening before.  What to do, what to do?  Marcela Hazan, to the rescue.

Crack and mix four eggs.  Add salt, half a cup of grated parmesan cheese, a cup or so of chopped string beans (or asparagus, or cooked artichoke hearts). Add a tablespoon or so of butter to your ten inch skillet. Heat on medium. Once the butter foams pour in your mixture, even it out, if need be, and turn the heat to low, low, low.  Your frittata will cook from the bottom up, 10-15 minutes.  The top will be runny, so, slip it under the broiler for 15-30 seconds, until set. 

Slip onto a serving dish, garnish with a chiffonade of basil (I just enjoy that word, it doesn't mean chopped, exactly, more like in strips) and a side of sliced tomatoes from your garden. Or Trader Joe's.

What? You don't have a broiler?  Try flipping your frittata, like a pancake.  If you succeed, you're a better and braver cook than I.  Or, you could run out and buy this nifty gadget.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A pickled garnish

Picking up my Diana Kennedy I came across such a simple recipe.

Finely slice one pound of red onions.
Place them in a mixing bowl.
Add one half cup fresh lime juice,
one and a half teaspoons sea salt.

Macerate for two hours before sprinkling on grilled fish or meat everywhere.
Or add to your media noches.  Or pulled pork sandwiches.
It's crisp, tangy, and not at all as oniony strong as you might expect.

Keeps in a sealed container for at least a week, and I find the bright pink hue particularly beguiling.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Downton Abbey

Fans of Masterpiece Theater will recognize the title--the rest of us?
When you have a deep need for class differences, sibling rivalry, spectacular cinematography, Anglophilia escapism, "Downton Abbey" is just the ticket.

Only 7 episodes, and I rationed them like chocolate in 1984.
  Must be my sentimental side.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

After Midnight

Medianoche, that fabulous Cuban sandwich, is filled with different textures and flavors, and perfect for any
pork roast leftovers you may have hanging around.  For those in the know, there is great debate over the appropriate bread.  Perhaps you have a Cuban bakery nearby, and can ask for the correct sweet, egg bread.  I make do with bolillo rolls. 

Per person you will need:
a sandwich roll
sliced ham
sliced or shredded pork roast
sliced Swiss cheese
yellow mustard
dill pickles

Slice the roll.  Spread mayo and mustard on each side.  Layer cheese, pork, ham, pickles.  Brush the top and bottom of the roll with melted butter.  In a heated skillet or sandwich press, grill your sandwich, until the bread is crisp and a bit compressed, and the cheese melted.

One bite and you, too, will have after midnight cravings.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coleslaw updated

Nothing better to cool down a hot evening or a spicy main dish like coleslaw.
My grandmother had her favorite: shredded green cabbage soaked in salted water
to crisp it, then drained.  A dash of vinegar, sugar to balance the tang, and mayonnaise to taste.
Mixed well, perhaps a bit of red cabbage for color, and a sprinkle of dried mustard for
spice.  Simple and delicious, and you probably already have a variation of it. 

But want trying to impress at a summer potluck? Try this variation via Martha Stewart. 
Napa cabbage, radishes, daikon, and a zingy dressing that will knock the socks off of
your conventional slaw.  Find it here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spicin' up that white meat--

I'm a huge fan of James McNair's recipes ever since I got a copy of his at my bridal shower.  The recipes are clear, the photographs make you want to run out, buy every ingredient and start cooking!

But I, perhaps like you, fall victim to routine, and rotate the same recipes in and out, week in, week out.  The other night I was racing home and realized my guests needed a splash of protein to accompany the drinks I had offered.  I picked up this copy and found another winner, one that I hadn't previously had the imagination to try.

Cube a chicken breast.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and thyme (proportions?  More spice for heat, around 1/2 teaspoon each per chicken breast).  Let sit for a half hour.
Melt half a tablespoon butter along with half a tablespoon oil in a saute pan.  On medium high heat quickly saute your chicken cubes--3-5 minutes, turning to cook through. 

What a great nibble to go with a glass of almost anything--

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last Meal

As you know, the end of the world is scheduled for Saturday May 21st.  I'm not sure whether that's Greenwich Mean or Pacific, in any case the implication is that Friday night is the very last supper.

I have a fondness and affinity for those who believe in the end times. After all, for many years I was a devout fan of The Late, Great Planet Earth.  So, to be inclusive, as well as on the safe side, I have penciled in a meal of final requests:

To start the day:

croissants flown in from Broca's, Paris.
(or perhaps, Ugo's, in Sierra Madre)

To end the meal:
gelato flown in from Italy.  Or, perhaps Bulgarini, around the corner.
Or perhaps hot fudge sundaes all day long.

And in between?  Caviar and blini?  Foie gras?  Gumbo?  A mess of mole?

Let me know one of two of your favorite things---

See you around, or, then again, not!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Refried Beans.

It's astonishing, the amount of invective hurled at this simple dish.  Identity and food can be so overwhelming,and, of course, the basis of ethnic stereotypes and slurs.

However, this is a dish I embrace. 

Three cups of home made beans, including liquid.
In a deep skillet, heat one to two tablespoons of lard. (Of course you can use vegetable oil, you can even doctor it later with butter and milk--but there is no substitute for this animal fat.)
When hot, turn off the heat, stand back, and pour in the beans. When the sizzling has stopped,
raise the heat to medium.  Take your potato masher, and start mashing.  I personally like them fairly well pulverized.  Allow the liquid to bubble away, to your preferred consistency. Thick or thin, it's your call.

The beans should already be well-seasoned, but if they seem too bland, add salt.

I really have been quite thick about comfort foods, not understanding ice cream and macaroni and cheese as go-tos.  And yet, if I think about it, refried beans made just right, on a hot flour tortilla, with a dollop of sour cream, is my Valium.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Plans

In an alternate universe my day would include:
reading novels

(Please don't tell the kids--)

In the official universe it will include deli fixings from Billy's in Glendale--and some form of drama, to be determined.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Bunny Wishes

The Easter Bunny can bring me plenty of these, by the crate.

Knock knock
Who's there?
Ether who?
Ether Bunny.
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Samoa who?
Samoa Ether Bunnies.
Knock, knock.
Who's there?!
Consumption who?
Consumption be done about all these Ether Bunnies?!?!

Ah, yes,  The simple things.  Malted milk balls and corny knock knock jokes always hit the spot for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last Gasp, East Egg

I came across this online at the LA Times.  Apparently they are demolishing the 20,000 square foot
mansion that was said to have been the model for Fitzgerald's novel.  A photographer took a number of evocative shots, that you may enjoy.  Here.  Click for the slide show.

What does this have to do with food?  It made me think of feasts past and feasts future.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Currently Reading

Goddess Margaret, in the LA Times, right here.
 btw, I think not only did they like her writing, but I think they really really liked her head shot!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Cocktail for a lazy Evening

Since my daughter moved to Manhattan I've been trying to acquire the taste.  Mixologists recommend rye, so I've been buying rye bourbon.  I like the sweet, the bitter, and the iciness.

However, before a swinging artistic event, three of us stopped into Fraiche, a trendy/swank restaurant in the ever-aspiring-to-be-somewhere Culver City.  This time the bartender used orange peel, searing it with a match to intensify the aromatics.  I sipped, savored, and approved. So did AH.  Later in the week I tried this at home, and this is what I came up with.

Fill your shaker halfway with ice.
Add 2 ounces bourbon ( I really like Buffalo Trace or Bulleit)
Add a splash of angoustura bitters
Then a splash of Regan's orange bitters.
Add one ounce sweet vermouth.
Swizzle, and let it sit in the cocktail shaker, so the drink chills completely, without getting watery.
Pull out your previously chilled cocktail glass, strain drink into glass. Garnish with orange peel.

And relax!  Your taxes are filed.  Aren't they?
If not, sip celebrate that this year you can wait until Monday--

Friday, April 8, 2011

Constant Cravings

Salty, nutty, with a soul-satisfying crunch, I buy these at my scale's peril.
Once the bag is opened, they are quickly decimated.  How 'bout you?
What disappears around your house?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Salad Days

As I kid I dreamed of the salad dressing that Lucy Ricardo pitched.  I knew, just like everyone else who watched it, what it tasted like: fabulous!

The other night I was out, and my husband, inspired by restaurants that drizzle bleu cheese dressing over hunks of iceberg or romaine, dug up this recipe.  When I got home I had to taste it, for quality control, of course.  In an instant I realized, this was it.  This was that dressing I could practically taste, years and years ago.

Mush 4 ounces gorgonzola or bleu cheese.
Blend in half a cup of mayonnaise.
Drizzle in up to a cup of buttermilk, to desired salad dressing consistency.  Season aggressively with salt and pepper. 

Drizzle, a la Smitty's, over ice berg, or, a la Beckham over romaine.
Garnish with finely chopped tomatoes.

If, for some reason, doesn't live up to your expectations, try it again, except this time have someone else make it. Food always tastes better when someone else cooks.  Because then, it's like magic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm in love!

This was a Christmas gift.  For nearly three months it sat silently, behind jars of spices and bags of pasta, waiting.  It was only a matter of time before I would come across it, and dip a teaspoon in.

Sigh.  Life should always be like this.  Need a supply? Williams Sonoma.  Hate shopping?  On a frugal budget?  Here's the home version, via Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts:

Take a can of condensed milk.  Pour it into a 9 inch pie pan, cover with foil.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees, place pie pan in larger roasting pan, and fill with warm water until the level of the water comes halfway up the pie pan.  Bake until rich and thick and caramelet, around 90 minutes.

(I've never tried this, once I open a can of condensed milk, its life is short-lived).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Switching Plates

Since the goddess Margaret is tackling food, I thought I'd steal a page from Financially InKleined and tackle

This from the Rotary Club, circa 1932

This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives asks the following four questions:
"Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
 Kids, imagine what capitalism would really look like, if more businesses were run this way.  Read it again.
Frankly, I think it's revolutionary.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quick, simple, delish

If you've paid any attention to chicken recipes these days, every one is clamoring for organic, free range et cetera, and an equally large contingent are hollering back "elitist rubbish!"
If I have extra cents in my pocket, I really don't begrudge paying more-I think of it as a quality of life topic, the chicken's, not mine.  I don't claim to taste a difference, and when I sometimes do (for the better) I wonder if it's a placebo effect.
I always try to cut down the consumption of slaughtered animals in my house, but it's challenging when one of the household members has derided carbohydrates as the source of all evils in the world.  Sigh.

Something very simple to do when you have a whole chicken breast, on the bone.
Poached from Ina Garten.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, even under the skin.  Add dried or fresh herbs to taste, like thyme, tarragon, basil.

 Place on baking sheet, 350 degrees.
Roast for 30 minutes.
It will be moist and delicious.  Slice to have a sliver of the skin and herbs.
Serve with pan roasted asparagus garnished with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans.


Friday, February 11, 2011

PSA Retraction

Boo boo-
Apparently the discount was not for Fridays, but for Feb 11- Feb 14, aka Valentine's weekend.
Boo hoo

Yes, it is my duty to make this public service announcement.
Sure, you know that plenty of shops give you a 10% discount when you buy 6 or more bottles of vino.
But did you know Whole Foods give you 30% on Fridays?!?!?
I'm stocking up on $9 Graves Entre Deux Mers (a crisp French white, with a clean finish), a bubbly $9.99Louis Pedrier rose that has a dry finish and won't stop till that last drop is gone, and some inexpensive but palatable plonk, Melanto Terrace Cabernet that clocks in at $6.  And I'll get 9 bottles for more or less the price of 6--
Gosh, then I'll have to cast about for a reason to share it--

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fusion Cuisine

The Chinatown of my childhood, (the one of downtown Los Angeles) celebrated the Year of the Rabbit this past weekend with a parade.  My  African-American friend and his Peruvian wife invited us--so we hopped on the Gold Line, exited about where we bought a Christmas tree once, and ambled over to barricades. 

I tried to think back to the last time I stood on the street and watched a parade pass before me: I couldn't.  While the evangelists had their six-year-old blond boy warning urging us all to believe in the one true way, and Asian supporters carried banners of a rather brutal crucifixion and statements in Chinese that I couldn't read, my son and I set off in search of food.  He was hungry.  I thought: pot stickers.  Lychee or green tea ice cream, shops filled of incense; again, the experience of my childhood.

We found the food truck zone: crepes, lobster, hamburgers, french fries, shaved ice, grilled cheeses.  

We found the fountain I used to hover around, with my sister, pitching pennies in.

We found an espresso shop.

While the mayor rode by, martial arts experts staged a mock battle, the bobbing dragons swirled past us, and tubes of gorgeous confetti exploded around us, my son ate sliders.  As my  friends and I watched the crowd and the participants including  South Pasadena High School, Alhambra High School, Pico Rivera Elementary, City Terrace Elementary  (a hovering mom kept squirting a water bottle into kids' gaping mouths) it was clear no one culture or heritage had the lock on this parade.

There you have Los Angeles, showing the rest of the world the inherent possibilities.

The next time I want Chinese food I'm heading to Monterey Park

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Food Pairing

What goes best with murder mysteries?
In this instance, vodka, blini and caviar.

Actually, perhaps a bit of champagne to start.

What am I talking about?  My novel HUMAN CARGO is 
now an ebook.  Forget the magnums, let's open a jeroboam!

More info here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

In the Tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room

Not sure what to do this weekend?
How's does visiting a dive bar in Silver Lake sound?
The three of us set off, met a little after 5 on a Saturday afternoon and squeezed through the crowd to order a Mai Tai, Roy's Mistake, and the Blue Wave.  By an act of Ka ne, two barstools materialized in front of us,
and we could settle in, more or less comfortably, to munch on the bar crackers, and admire the two men mixing drink after drink, pouring jiggers and jiggers of rum, and other spirits swirling pineapple juice, mixing them with a small swish of the  blending machine.

They sell a t-shirt that lists all their drinks, and you check them off as you work your way through. Let me know how far you get.

Thanks for the photo, Dr David!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tinga Poblana

Tinga is the style, Poblana means from Puebla.

First, roast your pork in the usual way.  (Braise then simmer, for hours, covered, on the stove top, adding water as necessary.  Use pork butt, or pork shoulder, 3-4 lbs).  Cool until easy to handle.  Remove bones, gristle, you know, the connective tissues that force us to consider vegetarianism.  Shred.  Return meat to its juices. Char a pound of tomatoes in a skillet, evenly, then drop into a blender.  Char a couple of garlic cloves as well.  Add 2-4 canned chipotles (depending on your heat tolerance) and the juice from half an orange, or a quarter cup of orange juice.  Blend. Add to shredded meat, let simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Garnish with:
chorizo which has been cooked down
avocado slices
red onion slivers marinated in lime juice.

Ladle over rice, or place into just heated corn tortillas.  Let me know how it turns out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to feed a hungry crowd.

Outta town guests still around?
Not sure how to feed them, and simultaneously get rid of them?
We got you covered.  Right here.