Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Treasure all of your Christmas memories!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nina's First Gingerbread House

Not much to say. She pretty much did it all herself. Took her a week to do it---she's a perfectionist and motivation got a little thin during school.
Wonder if she'll want to do it again next year. Smells great!
Looks gorgeous!


All the hops and grains are in this giant sock-thingy that boils and boils for awhile.

This is when you get the wort going and you boil over the stove with some grains and stuff. You walk in the house and the aroma screams "BEER!!!"

Yes, sometimes the garage does double as a brewery. How rude of you to point that out! Now only 2 weeks to bottling and then another 2 weeks to consuming. Bill's gotten really good at this. I don't particularly love beer but that brown ale is very good with a burger. Thanks to Buzz for getting us started on this.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All the cozy smells of Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Buon Natale!
Vesele Vianoce!
Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!

Kielbasa steaming from Teprovich's Market in Quakake PA

Seven seafood feast on Christmas Eve. Viva Italia!

Christmas day ravioli preparation

The smell of the Christmas tree...aahhh!

Rainy Christmas eve. ('tis the season for rain in SoCal)

Christmas a long time ago

Holidays have a strong association with food for me. I have great memories of Christmases past at Baba's house and the Slovakian treats. When I baked the nut and poppyseed rolls, I remembered more clearly. Same thing with the lekvar cookies. And when I bake them, I hope my kids get that same feeling too.

Cozy and delicious!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving garden

The winter garden is looking pretty good right now. The spinach is nice and green and has been added to many omelets.

The wine barrel full of carrots is coming along.

The peas and radishes are flourishing.

Swiss chard is looking colorful and happy (with some bug bites, after all we're organic here!)

Broccoli is finally looking ok. And the Japanese eggplant is on its third set of little guys!

And thanks to some bird netting around the perimeter, my little space has not yet been considered a litter box by gato gordo!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Under the hazy Tuscan sun

There are times in life when you are doing something and later you say: wow, that was amazing--what an experience.

Then there are the times in life when you are doing something and say right then: wow, this is amazing--what an experience.

Tuscany was the latter.

It was so wonderful run into Nancy and Stuart last night. Of course, the first thing we did was reminsce about Tuscany and what I think was probably the best part: the night of La Chiusa.

Dania was a wonderful chef and a lovely woman and owned a Michelin star. And she was hostess enough that, when John called me out as a foodie and a fan, she led us all to the humble kitchen that created such wonder.

And isn't this irony: we travelled Italy with cameras adherent to our necks but that night, we thougth it was "just a dinner" and didn't bring one. And it turned out to be the essence of Tuscany and one of our most treasured memories.

Nancy emailed me all of her photos from that night. The jpgs are low res but they are plenty to remind me of what a wonderful world it was in Tuscany!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Don't ruin my dinner!

Last night we went out for sushi at our usual, favorite local spot. Happily at the sushi bar, sipping sake and waiting for Tony to make a #18, I smell the front door open. Yes, I SMELL it!

An elderly couple walks in ...well, her gross perfume walked in way ahead of them. And sits....yes, next to me-- the last open spot at the bar. I spent the rest of my meal with my hand over my nose between bites and there were no tables open for us to switch to. The experience was severly limited, needless to say.

My GOD! I've had this happen in other restaurants too. DO NOT PUT ON HEAVY SCENTS WHEN GOING OUT TO EAT! It ruins it for everyone with a sense of smell ( I know older people lose that so just stop putting it on because you are putting too much on all the time).

Then we go out to the symphony and the symphony crowd is also a lot of elderly people and therefore, gross over-perfumed smells.


I couldn't wait to enter the night clean air despite the lovely Parisian pianist playing spectacular Saint-Saens.

Enough with banning cigarettes. I'd prefer a ban on cologne, perfume and aftershave and the like. LET ME BREATHE AND EAT CLEANLY!!!

/end rant

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome November!

Halloween ended up being slow last night. A flurry of kids until 8, then nothing. A pumpkin got kicked but my favorite was my puking pumpkin. One kid said: "that's a nice vomiting jack-o-lantern you have here!"

Hopefully, this hot and dry turns to cool and wet soon. I re-did the garden, thinned seedlings and added some swiss chard. I am ready for a cooling trend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Not my favorite month anymore...

October was always my favorite month because I love fall so much. I even got married in October. Fall never made me feel sad or wistful; it made me feel warm and full. So many good, warm and flavorful treats against a crisp air with the musty smell of leaves and some acrid wood smoke. Well, that was when I lived on the East Coast.

Now in California, October means incessant Santa Anas. Sounds nice: warm, dry, winds. Not exactly. It's so dry my skin feels like lizard-paper and I get nosebleeds and dry skin bumps. Warm to dry out my garden if I don't water it. And those breezes die down at night so you can swelter when you sleep but it's an awkward heat. At 7% humidity you actually chill with the heat and can literally feel the sweat on your palms and feet because it evaporates instantly. These past weeks have been mainly hotter than hot Santa Anas and my plants look a little worse for the wear. My seedlings are enjoying it because Iwater them daily. I would love to do warm meals at night, but with this weather, grilled burgers and chicken is about all we can handle.

The worst part is the constant fires with these Santa Anas---man made fires and fires due to power lines blown down etc. We lived through 2 major ones in the past 5 years and they were devastating, exasperating and depressing.

My daughter's friend summed it up best today: "it's so dry even the boys are using ChapStick.

Yes, I hate October in California but not back East. I love it back there. Next year, I will go back for a long weekend in October. Even if it rains the whole time, I will have the crisp air and the lovely smells of fall to make me feel warm again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Winter garden

Dug up everything except some herbs and tilled and planted a bunch of seeds: carrots (sweet treat), snap peas, broccoli, sweet peas, romaine, spinach, onions. All from seeds. I put a bunch of bird netting over it for now so gato-gordo doesn't view it like he always does: a beautiful new litterbox.
Always exciting to think about winter vegetables. Even though I am missing my summer tomatoes already!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


What is the big deal about Sarah Palin? Why is she so evil?

I do not agree with a lot of her stances on things but she is not intolerant or evil. Not from anything I've heard or seen.

And what is intolerant or so evil about keeping her Down Syndrome child? I work with these patients and yes, most do terminate. But how is keeping, caring and loving your Tri 21 kid evil? Heroic is more how I'd call it.

Isn't she the ultimate feminist? She has family, kids, career and deals with crap at home and work but it doesn't throw her. Since when did abortion and liberalism equal feminism? I believe in both of those, but I don't believe it is exclusionary of feminism. Unless of course, we are wanting feminism to just die a natural death here.

Wake up. She's ok. She may not be you or me, but she sure has gone after and achieved what most of us have not (by choice or life circumstances). Dude, she hunts and cooks caribou too. I can only cook it. (Hunting is not my thing)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


just starting out and I chose the theme from this lovely poem:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.
-- William Carlos Williams