Monday, July 24

Hold the Presses: I just saw Lady In The Water

Sorry for the lack of posting of late. The 100+ and no air conditioning makes me uncreative when it comes to blogging. So I had planned to relay the recipe for the veggie dish I cooked last week: Summer Leeks and Yellow Peppers, but then I went to see Lady in the Water and so now that recipe is on pause for tomorrow.

Before I continue, I just have to say that if you haven't seen the movie and want to, and want to give it a fair shot, STOP READING. Check back in tomorrow for more recipes and come back to this post after you've seen the movie (that's not a recommendation by the way - wait for the video).

I'm just going to dig right in with spoilers. First of all, I have never seen a filmmaker as egomaniacal as M Night. I think it would be an understatement to say that the man has a God complex. Why, you ask? Well maybe because in this film, a mythical creature comes to an apartment complex to inspire a man to write something that will change the course of history for the better. Who would be cast in such an important role in the film? M Night casts himself of course. I bet you didn't know Signs or the Village was going to save humanity. Well according to him it will. The man recently compared himself to both Bob Dylan and Michael Jordan. Nice.

Oh but have I mentioned that he's so self-involved that he's beyond crazy? Check out this review of his new book for some of the dirt:

As far as the movie is concerned, it's just bad storytelling with so many plot holes and confusing mythology that it's not even worth going into except for the following:

I CALL FOUL when one of the character's (Frederico from Six Feet Under) entire character is based on the fact that he's only been working out ONE of his arms, so that one arm is huge while the other is normal. AND YET at the end when it's revealed that he's the guardian he does not use his SUPER ARM to throw anything. He just stares the beast down. FOUL!!!!

I CALL FOUL on Shyamalan casting himself in such a pivotal role in the film and then when it should clearly turn out that Giamatti's character was the true writer who's been inspired, he refuses to give up that glory and keeps it for his own character. FOUL!!!

I CALL FOUL on Shyamalan for never giving Ron Howard's daughter any pants!!!!

I CALL FOUL on his stupid animosity towards critics which he takes out on the Bob Balaban character with a great deal of unnecessary self-reference!

and finally, and perhaps most importantly:

I CALL FOUL for pawning off an almost incomprehensible myth on an unnamed Asian tradition...and DOUBLE FOUL for being stereotypical and, I'll say it, racist in the process.

Shame on you Shyamalan for being a talented director who's too mired in his own ego to make a good film when you could be great if you'd just get over yourself.

End rant.

Friday, July 21

Zucchini and Basil Filo with Pine Nuts

Unfortunately, this is probably the best picture I have of the Zucchini and Basil Filo I made last night for dinner. There on the right, Auna is grabbing one.

Last night Alison, Auna, Jake, Craig and my mom came over for dinner before we went to see Tim Cumming's dance piece in the Now Festival, which is worth a post for itself. At any rate I made a few things out of the Greens cookbook and promised I'd share the recipes here, which I will, over the next few days. Here goes:

Zucchini and Basil Filo with Pine Nuts


1/2 package frozen filo dough
5 to 6 medium zucchini (or 1/2 zucchini and 1/2 summer squash)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups pine nuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped basil, loosely packed
3 Tbsp parsley, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 eggs
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 oz feta cheese
3 Tbsp butter, melted and mixed with 3 Tbsp olive oil

Let the filo thaw for about 2 hours. Make sure it has come to room temp before unrolling.

Grate the zucchini, toss with the salt and set aside for 30 minutes.

Then drain and squeeze out the excess water. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roast the pine nuts for 5 minutes, chop them finely and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with pepper and cook for 4 minutes. Then add the garlic, basil, parsley and white wine. Cook covered for 3 or 4 minutes, and then remove from heat.

Beat the eggs, stir in the cheese and then add the cooked veggies. Check for seasoning.

Brush a baking sheet with the butter/oil mixture and lay down a sheet of filo. Brush that with the butter/oil and lay another layer. After three layers, sprinkle with 1/4 of the nuts. 3 more layers of filo and then layer the cheese/veggie mixture. cover this with three layers filo, a layer of pine nuts and 3 final layers of filo. Cut into 3 inch squares and then diagonally.

Makes 2 sheets of triangles or about 32 triangles.

***This recipe is Auna and Alison approved***

A note about the filo:
It seems like a lot of people are freaked out when it comes to using filo. The truth is that it's just about the easiest pastry thing you can make. Seriously. WAY easier than a pie crust even. Here's the trick: keep it moist! When you have the filo unrolled and laying out, cover it with a piece of wax paper and cover that with a clean damp kitchen towel while you're arranging layers. If you let it get dried out it will get papery and crumbly and become a pain. Likewise, if you put the damp towel directly on the dough it will often get mushy and the sheets will cling together. Otherwise, it's just a matter of layering with butter, which is always a good thing (for you tastebuds, if not for your thighs.)

ps. bake the whole thing for 30-40 minutes or until it's golden and crisp.

Thursday, July 20

Taking the Jesus Pill

Last night I helped out at Taking the Jesus Pill at the King King. If you live in LA you should go to this show. It's produced/written/performed by the folks who live in the house in front of us: Polly and Charlie. They're fabulous and so's their show. It's a swamp gothic rock opera with a rockin' live band and video elements. Seriously, the songs stand alone, and then the play is really fun becuase it happens all around you while you're drinking in this cool club.

This is Charlie.

He's the writer/singer and kind of devil character in the play.

It's so great! Bryan and I had a really good time when we went and then it seemed like last night the crowd was really into it. Here's the pic I took.

I know, pathetic. If you do go, get your tickets ahead of time because they sell out quick and get there early so you can have a seat. Seriously. There were 50 people standing last night and they were less than thrilled.

Check out more about it and read all the amazing reviews at

Wednesday, July 19

A Nose by Any Other Name...

would not smell as sweetly.

Yesterday I worked 16 1/2 hours on a State Farm commercial as a PA - not the most glamorous work but it helps to pay the bills. As I was in the midst of logging about 300 miles in office runs and misc errands I watched this happen...

It occurred to me yesterday, that unlike ALL of the union guys, the longer I worked, the less money I made per hour. This sunset made me feel better.

Sunday, July 16

The Greens Cookbook

Lately I've become obsessed with the Greens Cookbook. It's funny because it's probably the one cookbook I knew best growing up, mainly because of the veggie lasagna mom would make every Thanksgiving for the vegetarians. When I got my copy it went up on the cook book shelf, to be used periodically as a reference for simple things like a berry crisp or spinach and goat cheese pie.

Normally I wouldn't be that into a cookbook that doesn't have pictures. Half the joy of cooking from a book is pouring over the glossy photos of food that you will never be able to match up to. And I was never that interested in most of the recipes so I mostly ignored the book. After making dinner the other night from it though I had a return to Greens moment. I started pouring over the book and suddenly all of the recipes looked and sounded amazing. Now I can't stop flipping thru looking for new fun things to try.

I'm PAing on a commercial for the next couple of days, so I most likely won't be cooking, or posting for that matter, but I have a feeling that on Wednesday, and for sure Friday, I'll have a few newly tested recipes to share.

I am reminded of a woman I heard interviewed about a book she had just written. Right after she gave birth she left her career to be a stay at home mom and almost lost her mind from boredom (fortunately I don't have that problem). Her savior: Julia Childs and her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She decided to make one French recipe from the book a day for a year. Her memoir is about this year of the disasters and successes of doing just that.

I was thinking that I wouldn't mind trying out a similar thing with the Greens cookbook. Bryan? Interested? You do like the spinach and goat cheese pie!

Saturday, July 15

It's not all that great...

Last night we were at the Marat/Sade fundraising party for the play that Maria is producing and Patrick Adams is directing. (on a sidenote, I think it's going to be a fabulous production and if you want to get on a list for email updates email Patrick at

Anyway, while we were at the party a friend came up to me and told me that she'd been hearing all about my fabulous garden. Now I won't deny that I do have a butternut squash growing that looks like this...

the truth is that there is a significant portion of the garden that hasn't been touched yet. Or, since I'm on a truth binge, I did clear it all out of weeds last November but neglected to compost or plant and so the weeds came back with the spring (surprise, surprise). The pictures of the garden that I've been posting really only account for about a third of the square footage.

There's also this...

which is about 8 ft by 20 ft of weeds with some struggling and neglected roses in the middle.

And this...

which was filled with calla lilies but now lies filled with ugly weeds and a very invasive plant that needs to come out lest it take over the yard and turn into a tree.

So it's not all amazing over here. I still have a lot of work to do and with the weather getting hotter, 92 right now, it only makes me less motivated.

Friday, July 14

Why I HEART Trader Joe's

$3 in the cute blue pot, ready for my desk.

$2 basil plant. For what it costs to buy a little container of basil that will last maybe 4 days, they have these big basil plants right now.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, July 13

Something's Ripening... the garden.

So my first Brandywine Tomato is almost ripe. And it looks like the buggies think it looks as delicious as I do.

Any ideas for organic ways to get rid of the friends that are eating my tomatoes?

I've figured out the identity of one of my four pepper plants!

This guy started turning red so I'm now convinced that he's a red bell pepper plant. One mystery down, three to go.

All in all I'm excited that my garden is beginning to produce food I can eat (the broccoli crop of spring was a disaster). Yesterday I had a salad with lettuce and cherry tomatoes from the garden. So rad!

Mel doesn't even care.

Wednesday, July 12

Kevin Cooks Lasagna

Last night Bryan and I headed back down to Long Beach to have dinner with Bryan's brother Kevin in his new bachelor pad. I've eaten a Kevin-prepared meal once or twice before and let me tell you, the man does not disappoint. Apparently he got those genes, but Bryan definitely got the Bar-B-Queing ones.

Anyway, he made a fabulous veggie lasagna.

Here he is cooking...

and what he's cooking...

Now it's not terribly surprising that Kevin has taken up cooking elaborate Italian meals given that the cookbook author looks like this...

And her picture graces just about every page of the cookbook.

I can't tell you the recipe for the final lasagna, not because it's a secret, but because I was thoroughly enjoying not being the one in the kitchen, so I paid no attention. The result was divine.

Thanks Kevin!

Monday, July 10

Looking for Inspiration in San Pedro

Last night Bryan, Mel and I piled into the bug and headed to San Pedro in search of location-driven inspiration for a script we're working on. I think we found some along the way. Here are some of the (better) images from the journey.

San Pedro always makes me think of Bukowski, so I thought I'd add one of his poems to this post. The following is used with no permission whatsoever (sorry!)

Be Angry at San Pedro

I say to my woman, "Jeffers was
a great poet. think of a title
like Be Angry At The Sun. don't you
realize how great that is?

"you like that negative stuff." she

"positively," I agree, finishing my
drink and pouring another.
"in one of Jeffers' poems, not the sun poem,
this woman fucks a stallion because her
husband is such a gross spirit. and it's
believable. then the husband goes out
to kill the stallion and the stallion
kills him."

"I never heard of Jeffers," she

"you never heard of Big Sur? Jeffers
made Big Sur famous just like D. H. Lawrence
made Taos famous. when a
great writer writes about where he
lives the mob comes in and takes

"well you write about San Pedro," she

"yeah," I say, "and have you read the
papers lately? they are going to construct
a marina here, one of the largest in the
world, millions and billions of dollars,
there is going to be a huge shopping
center, yachts and condominiums every-

"and to think," my woman says smiling, "that you've only
lived here for three years!"

"I still think," I say,
changing the subject,
"you ought to read Jeffers."

Sunday, July 9

The Lotus Festival at Echo Park

Even though we've had friends living in Echo Park for 4 years now, this is the first year we made it down to the annual Lotus Festival. The idea is to honor pacific and Asian pacific cultures while also bringing everyone's' attention to the blooming lotus flowers that grace the north end of the lake. Too bad they didn't bloom in time for their festival.

There were two stages set up along with tons of food and crafts. On one stage we watched these dancers from a local Korean Dance School. I think I should call the video "Down in Front".

Here the dancers are doing their thing.

Mel wasn't really buying the whole heat + tons of people + loud music thing so we didn't spend too much time watching, but what we did see was fun.

Here's Bryan demonstrating his underhanded pitch.

The lake with the city in the background.

Mr. Joe Cool.

Me and Mel walking around the festival.

But these guys were my absolute favorite. Check it out. First of all this is a boat with a large dragon on it that's really a platform. But if you look closer...

These guys have clearly got the best job with their outboard motor and case of cold beer.

Friday, July 7

Spinach and Goat Cheese Pie (with some leeks for good measure)

Last night my cousin Alison (Hi Al!) came over for dinner. I've been craving spinach and goat cheese pie, which I haven't made since back in the Venice Beach days, but which was always a big hit with Bryan. As I was gathering ingredients I found some beautiful leeks which, while not technically in the original Greens recipe, could not be passed up. I also forgot to get the milk and cream I needed so I substituted low fat soy milk for the milk and took a second trip to the market for the cream.

Last night it was just the right amount of richness to feel decadent without being to heavy in the heat. I served it with a light salad and berries and ice cream followed for desert. Alison brought the berries and a divine French Rose that she carried back from Nice. Perfect. I told her I'd give her the recipe before she left but of course we forgot, so here it is.



1 recipe tart dough (see below)
I bag spinach
2 bunches scallions (if the guy in the produce section looks at you funny when you ask for scallions, say green onions instead)
1 large leek or 2 small leeks
2 Tbsp Butter
1 or 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
pinch of dried marjoram, or more if fresh
at least 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
5 oz goat cheese (I like chevre)
1 cup milk (or soy milk)
1 cup cream
Nutmeg to taste

Prepare the tart dough and partially prebake it (again see below)

Trim the roots and most of the greens off the scallions and leek. Wash thoroughly and thinly slice. Melt the butter in a wide skillet and add the scallions, garlic, leek, marjoram and parsley. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Beat the eggs and egg yolks with half the cheese until fairly smooth. Add the milk and cream, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper. Mix.

Preheat the oven to 375. Lay the spinach on the bottom of the partially baked crust and crumble the remaining cheese on top. Add the custard, then bake the pie until it is set and lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes. Let it rest 10 minutes at least before serving.

As you can see, we hated it.

Now for the Tart Dough. You could technically buy a premade crust but I believe they taste better from scratch, even if they don't look as pretty.


1 1/2 cup white flour
3/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 1/4 Tbsp crisco
3-4 Tbsp ice water

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl, then add the butter and shortening. I like to use my clean hands to work the fat and flour together until evenly distributed. Add cold water and lightly work it into the flour. Gather the dough into a ball and sprinkle with a few drops of water to gather any remaining dough. Cover with wax paper and form into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or freeze for later use).

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured working surface with a floured rolling pin until 1/8 inch thick. This is where I always screw it up because mine tends to want to not turn into a pretty circle. I make it as best I can, place it in a pie pan and perform surgery on the chunks that got left behind (this is the - it might not be pretty - part).

To partially prebake the crust, first freeze until the crust is quite firm. Then preheat the oven to 425F. Set the frozen tart directly into the oven and cook until it has a set appearance and is just beginning to change color, about 8-10 minutes. If any air bubbles occur, pop with a knife as it's cooking.

Fill with goodies like spinach and goat cheese and bake away!

Thursday, July 6

Plum Sorbet

Thanks go out to Alison who hooked me up with this recipe for my plethora of plums.

Because my plums tend towards the strong and tart side, the first batch of sorbet came out a little strong and tart. Clearly to some extent you would have to adjust the recipe given your fruit. That being said, here's the recipe.


1 1/2 cups plum pitted, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups spring water
1/2 cup sugar

The trick to peeling the plums is to treat them like tomatoes. Cut a thin X in the base of each plum. Place in boiling water for 5 seconds and transfer to a bowl of ice water. The skin will then slip right off.

Place all three ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's direction (in my case that meant turn on for 20 minutes).

Freeze to make firmer. Serve. Yum!

Monday, July 3


I was down in San Diego for the weekend with the fam and I forgot my camera, so I don't have any fun pictures to share. Instead I figured it was time for a retrospective of some of my projects. As one of my many side jobs (I try not to have any real jobs) I paint sets for theater productions.

Here are a few of the results. This first series is for a play entitled "Bright Ideas" about a couple who murder a woman so that their child can have her child's spot in the best preschool. It's a dark comedy.

This is stage right. The direction I was given was to make the set look like it's both the real world and a preschool.

This central panel functions as both the outside park and a mural inside the school.

Stage left is the kitchen in which the main characters make poison pesto. This is essentially Macbeth set in Manhattan.

This last image is a detail one of the trees in the background.

Because of this show, I got a call to paint some other sets, this time for a high school production of "Uncool". The sets were simple. The director just wanted lockers and a mall setting. So he got these.

He also was doing a kids theater production of Snow White. For that he wanted 4 sets (I only photographed 3 of them): the throne room (unpictured)...

the witch's cave

the dwarves' cabin

and the forrest. I know some of the perspective on these is a bit off but I was doing these extremely quickly and I figured it was for kids anyway, so maybe people wouldn't notice the lack of the chimney on the fireplace.

So that's it so far in the set painting department. I'll post more as I paint more!