Monday, August 27

Tea Time!

Don't you love a job that comes with swag?

So much tea, so little time.

In an effort to do more writing work and less (what would you call it? random?) work, I've just gotten a gig as a blog editor for the ART OF TEA - a purveyor of fine loose-leaf teas. These are the good thing, the real deal, the brew a cup using a really fun straining tea pot kind of tea.

Upon meeting the owner of the company (and being hired), I was given an assortment of tea samples to whet my creative appetite for writing about teas. Reading their material I realized just how very little I actually know about tea. But it's all organic and fair trade and all that good stuff, so I can get behind the company. Plus, knowledge is gained through online trips to the LA Public Library where books can be sent to your local branch.

Also no one ever accused me of not having an opinion just because I didn't know much about the subject.

Do you love samples as much as I do?
No, it's not possible.

So. I love tea. I'm not completely converted from coffee, but I'm working on it.

In a week or so you'll be able to read my writings about tea over at - don't go there yet! Or do, but don't expect to read any of my writing. I just got the gig. I need all this new found tea knowledge to steep for a few days before I write about it. But soon...very soon.

Monday, August 20

Halibut in the Ultimate Kitchen

How fabulous is this kitchen?

I love everything about it. I could bake a pie in this kitchen. I have no idea who the people in the photo are, but they're living the good life...that's for sure.

I went down to San Diego over the weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday while my brothers are still in town (well, one technically lives in town). I made my favorite it's-so-easy-yet-seems-really-impressive meal.

Macadamia Nut Encrusted Halibut with Curry Sauce and Mango Chutney

Dredge Halibut Fillets through flour, egg and processed macadamia nuts. Drizzle with melted butter and bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 min or until nuts start to brown.

Saute 2 TBSP red curry paste for a minute and add a can of coconut milk and 2 TBSP dissolved sugar. Let cook down or add a little dissolved corn starch to thicken.

Plate so that fish sits atop sauce and is drizzled with mango chutney. Serve with Jasmine rice and steamed broccolini. Enjoy!

Friday, August 17

Sound and Sight

If you aren't already listening to Radio Lab, you should be. Right now. You're reading this, which means you clearly have time to kill. Go to their website right now. You will thank me. That's all I'm going to say on this matter.

This is another good photo from the Ginny vault.

The only identifying information on the back reads: "Clown Face on the Cake. Halloween Cookies and Ice Cream. Black Cat and Moon Favors." This, then is an example of the eccentric framing I mentioned in my last post. It's not an image of children eyeing their cake with anticipation. No. It's a picture of a cake. That there are children behind it, subsequently getting their heads cut off, is of no matter to the woman behind the lens. This is a photo of a cake with a clown face. It's very cakeness appears to glow in recognition of it's rightful place center stage.

You've got to respect an image like that.

Thursday, August 16

What's Up?

When my great aunt passed away last year, she left behind photo albums filled with snapshots of her life throughout the past almost century. We spent time after her service going through the photos and trying to figure out whose dad was which little kid in each shot. People claimed their favorite pictures of themselves as little kids, or of their parents when they were little. What was left, however, says a lot about who my aunt was as a person and as a photographer. The remaining photos are often bizarre either in subject matter or framing. I don't know who most of the people are who inhabit this other prior world, but I've placed many of them on my wall. My plan is to post some of my favorites on days when I don't have anything better to blog about.

This one is one of my absolute favorites:

I think we decided that these are guys she worked with in an office in the SF Valley when she lived here until the mid-80s. Can you get any better than them? From their postures to their clothes, to the weird smirk on their faces... It's like a decade in a photo. You can hear them asking 'what's up?' in that tone that suggests they know what's up and if you're lucky, they'll share their secret knowledge with you.

Wednesday, August 15

My Brain is Melting

One of the hazards of living in a cool loft/converted carriage house is the lack of literal coolness come summertime. While it's true that our place is probably cooler than other non-air-conditioned buildings in the city, given the nature of its design (let's hear it for cross-ventilation - yeah!), it still hurts. And you can't stop me from whining. But I promise this will be the only post in which I do so.

I tried to work on cutting the movie today. I couldn't even focus my eyes on the screen. Even writing this is making me cranky because the battery is hot and it makes my wrist sweat. Sigh. I bet Hemingway never had trouble with sweating wrists when he wrote. Or if he did, he probably just called for his Cuban butler to bring him another Mojito. Maybe I should start writing about bullfights.

Or get an air conditioner like people keep suggesting to me. Only here's the thing: how's a girl supposed to stay all righteous about the environment when she's using extra power to keep her wrists cool. She can't, and therein lies the rub. So with air unconditioned I write this. Don't be expecting any recipes anytime I'm barely willing to turn on the stove to make iced tea.

Sunday, August 12

Pirates and Ninjas

Like Macaroni and Cheese, Fred and Ginger, Salt and Pepper; Pirates and Ninjas exist as one of the fundamental pairings of the human condition. This is an existential truth. Just ask Becket. Or come to the Pirates and Ninjas: An Extravagant Adventure, and see for yourself.

Pirates and Ninjas
An Extravagant Adventure
Three Short Plays and One fascinating Art Gallery
Fridays & Saturdays, Aug 31-Sept 22 @8:30pm
Theater of Note 1517 N Cahuenga Blvd
Reservations: 866-219-4944

Friday, August 10

August Afternoons

The arbor in front of our door is covered with grape vines, creating a nice shady spot for an afternoon glass of wine. Our old neighbors used to comment that we looked like the epitome of Napa when they'd come out and find us sitting there, sipping, and reading Harper'. So civilized. I think about wineries sometimes and of the million things that I'd like to learn how to do. Like make good wine. Or good beer. But then I look at my grape vine and notice that the leaves are blotched with red spots that I have yet to identify (granted I have still not taken a sample to the nursery and just asked them). And my grapes! They are truly pathetic.

The Grapes of Wrath

Nothing at all like the dense clusters of giant globes I keep finding at the farmer's market.

At least my lime tree is producing. The happy green spheres found their way into a giant batch of guacamole last night. (Want my secret recipe? I'm embarrassed to share it. Avocados. Chopped Tomato. Purple Onion - not too much- lime juice and garlic salt. Pace Salsa. All to taste. Pathetic I know. Especially from someone always railing against corporate food. Sometimes I'll lose the salsa, but it's never as good.)

These babies are just waiting to be turned into margaritas.

So my little arbor area is producing nicely, or not as the case may be. Melba doesn't care. She's just happy to have a spot to lie in the sun and then a spot to lie in the shade. And sometimes, especially after a long bout of chewing her squirrel, she's happy to have a place to lie inside.

It's hard to be the dog, but even harder to be her toy.

Tuesday, August 7

Back in the Kitchen (Eggplant Stacks)

I am on a quest. It's a quest of grand proportions and one I've been on for quite a while: Get Bryan to like eggplant.

Already, I've won the curry battle and, more recently, the asparagus war. The latter was won primarily by first hiding it in lasagna and later roasting it with olive oil. But eggplant? That's another matter altogether.

In an effort towards full disclosure, my cooking is not what has led Bryan to consider eggplant as a reasonable source of nutrition. That award goes to The East Side Italian Deli by way of Maria, who brought over their amazing Eggplant Parmesan sandwiches the other day. Fantastic! And now Bryan's hooked on them. So I decided to make my own eggplant meal the other night. Here's how it went:

Ashley's Eggplant Stacks of Fun


2 Globe eggplants
Panko Bread Crumbs
Several Eggs & Flour
Olive Oil
Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Basil
Cherry Tomatoes

Slice the eggplants, dredge the slices in flour, egg and then panko. Heat Olive Oil and fry the eggplant slices until golden brown. Set aside to drain....

...making sure to avoid the growing pile of folded laundry that threatens to take over your table.

Slice the mozzarella (and I highly recommend always using fresh if possible) and shred the basil. Now stack slices of eggplant with a slice of cheese in between each as well as some basil and salt. Halve the cherry tomatoes and toss around stacks with basil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and tomatoes have softened.

Serve to a husband, now thoroughly converted to eggplant eating. Here's an example of one:

Friday, August 3

I HIGHLY Recommend...

Market Restaurant+Bar in Del Mar. It's on Via De Los Valles right across from the polo fields (I recognize that some of my readers might argue that it's across from the Soccer fields - but either way it's kitty corner from Mary's Tack and Feed). I'd been reading about it everywhere lately and convinced my family that it would be an ideal place for us to celebrate a very belated Father's Day. What with a brother whose in Asia as much as he is on the east coast, it's rare for us to all be together, and this may be the first visit I've seen him in a decade when he didn't constantly have his nose in a book written in a language I couldn't even begin to understand.

So we went. The food is fabulous and local. It's all Chino's produce and sustainable meats. The drinks were fab, the music a tad weird, but the food was really the star. Nothing too fussy but definitely gourmet and definitely some of the best restaurant food I've had. So it's well worth all the buzz. And if you happen to be in SD for the races before they end at labor day, it's well worth a drive over. So thanks mom and dad, for taking you kids out to such a lovely meal!

Plus..they have a good website