Wednesday, January 16, 2013

pura vida!

Just back from ringing in the new year in Costa Rica at our friend’s beach front home.

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Fall asleep listening to waves crashing and wake up to them too.

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Beach hop from beautiful black volcanic sand beaches

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to pretty white sand beaches all along the coast. Swimming, sunning, surfing, fishing

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eating (a delicious lunch at Tree Tops)

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and drinks

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with this sweet view

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full and buzzed and some patrons join the restaurant’s pets for a nap.

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Set up hammocks and read books.

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There’s howler monkeys,

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perros!

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and buzzards.

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Free range animals and ya get pigs running through the yard,

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cattle on the roads,

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some very bumpy roads and this was no surprise.

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Pura Vida!

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Friday, January 11, 2013

back

SoCal welcoming me back from sunny, warm water Costa Rica with a frosty car roof my first morning back, really?! And also sad news, Bubbles, the neighbor’s fat cat entered the food chain, just right when the stitches from his nose being sliced off healed up, he steps outside to play and never made it back home. r.i.p. fat cat. Damn coyotes!

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By far this is the coldest January I can remember down here, nothing close to as cold as where I grew up but cold enough that everyone’s talking. Woodburning stove’s going 24/7 and music, we’re gonna get through this cold spell.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

gilded

Adornment this holiday season and of course I’m kind of schitzo. Some days call for some flashy bling…my YSL ring does just that, gold, gilded, holiday perfect.

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Do the feature finger bit too like my friends in Vancouver to hit it out of the park.

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And when things get a bit much calm down with a favorite vintage opal gold ring,

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some lunch and hot tea at home..peace.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

happy holidays from California!

We split and stacked wood for days,

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at the beach

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and despite a grey day the sky came through at sunset..showoff

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We passed on the traditional holiday fare this year and celebrated with good ol’ Chinese food; Peking duck (2 ways), imperial shrimp, salt and pepper squid, chow fun noodles with broccoli and an amazing Chinese coleslaw to offset our greasy spoons.

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This salad dressing is perfect for a light coleslaw. It’s one of my favorite winter salads, so simple.

Maple Sesame Vinaigrette (from Gourmande in the Kitchen)

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or unsweetened rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced

To make the salad chop up (chiffonade) a head of savoy cabbage, a bunch of lacinato green kale and shred 2 carrots (I used a mandolin to thinly slice the carrots instead). Mix everything together and when you’re ready to serve toss in the vinaigrette and a large pinch of toasted sesame seeds.

Monday, December 24, 2012

outside

We decided a messy tree hovering close to the house had to leave so we called in the pros, of course the morning of, it rains.

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Our earth mover dude was back to dig some drains,

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relocate the bamboo

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and sculpt the yard too.

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Some concrete waterproofing gets done as well.

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Then our friendly landscaper neighbor dotted the yard with rescued plants, hint, hint, get planting folks! She’s just as sick as we are of staring at a dirt yard. Three olive trees, blueberries, grasses, yuccas, thanks Paige!

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Of course digging holes to plant is not so easy when the dirt thinks its concrete.

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Sometime during all this we found ourselves in L.A. having dinner at Mozza which always inspires me to whip up my own pies, so much so I know I went through one too many burrata pints that week.

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We also tackled the mandatory ground cover the city insists we must have for drainage issues, grass seed was a temporary no-brainer to pass inspection.

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Concrete dudes are back, pouring the concrete patio off of the guest house

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and pathways to the front door

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and the side door too.

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and remarkably this neglected orchid I leave outside all year round comes back every year..who knew?

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

December

Still here, still kicking..so much for the Mayan calendar doom and gloom to kickstart our holiday this year, that and all the other heartbreaking headlines and noise this month. Getting through it and you know it only gets better, some things upsetting, some things wonderful, all said and done things moving forward. Peace! Love! Happy Holidays everyone!

A tree this year just didn’t feel right for me, I opted instead to find some tree branches and foliage from our neighbor’s yard, stick them in a large pitcher and voila! xmas!

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A neighbor had too many xmas decorations and gifted us with a fresh wreath too, sweet!

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A new neighbor also decided to cut down five 20+year-old eucalyptus trees. Kind of off to a scary start when the neighbor’s gardener decides to act as a one man tree service. 3 trees down, a section of our fence focused and he finally enlists some help. At the end of it all he was lucky to have broken only a few shoulder bones, a trip to the ER, his arm in a sling and he was back at it the next day, laughing at his near miss, could of been knocked dead scenario..maniac.

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Free gifts of eucalyptus mulch and firewood for years now so we’ve been busy splitting and stacking wood. Not the most ideal task right now as the stronger of us has an injured shoulder but it’s gotta get done and help from our neighbor was really nice. We just started and there’s still so much more to go.

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Let’s just all wish for a safe and happy holiday, safe with an exclamation mark this year! Take the neighbor’s fat cat, Bubbles as a prime example, one day he’s lounging belly up and the next night his nose gets sliced off in a late night brawl with what must of been a bobcat or something…oh the fat cat that thinks he’s a dog always learning the hard way.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

odds and ends

So many finishings, catching up and the doorbells finally get people-friendly.

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Stucco dudes squeezed us in between jobs and finally got the last part of the stucco done as well, the house is one color now.

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The neglected cacti that were given to me over a year ago reminded me with pretty white fragrant blooms which the bees went nuts over that they’re still alive and well.

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We moved appliances into the guest house and I got stuck peeling off the sticky protective film off of a fridge we bought over a year ago, of course not coming off easy. Bored of plain walls too and I told dude to rig up some large picture frames from scratch; once again cutting, sanding, staining to size.

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Obviously we learned it wasn’t the best idea to put the first frame together on a wool carpet, took the sticky film off of acrylic and what a static mess.

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Guest bathrooms get done too. Shower doors TAKE 2, this time without shattering the glass and then we cut, sanded and stained wood bases for towel hooks.

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Wall sconces in the guest bathroom finally up..I thought they’d be a bit too high but the scale of the aged steel glass cloche filament sconce works.

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and with a counter full of pineapples that meant the dehydrator was being put to work too, work never ends here.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

PBS love

Turn off the Kardashians, watch something inspiring. Click to watch Inventing David Geffen.

Here’s a preview

and Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

and don’t miss The Mind of a Chef series too.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Day USA!

Turkey day! always involves a very long day of prepping, snacking and drinking and when you have family all over the world the phone just doesn’t stop ringing too, hours of catching up and all good wishes. There’s always so much to be thankful for and I’m thankful for dear friends and family, good organic food and today what seems like a marathon show of “Punkin Chunkin” on the Science channel. Passionate people building high tech versions of medievil catapults solely to launch pumpkins through the air to ridiculous distances, up to a 1/2 mile and spending at times upwards of $150k on their own dime, geeze we were seriously entertained for hours. As one finalist put it, “it’s great to know you are the best in the world” even if that best is something so incredibly obscure. Happy gobble, gobble day everyone!

And yesterday while picking up my weekly CSA box at the local Whole Foods I came across a shelf of Glutino’s gluten-free corn bread stuffing that they featured for the holidays. Being a sucker for obvious marketing I had to test it out and surprisingly it was good. Also being a bit of a scatter brain this holiday I made a batch of fresh ricotta cheese for a new pumpkin pie recipe I was gonna try. Of course having skimmed through a number of pie recipes I confused two recipes and the witchy kitchen pie recipe I would be making didn’t even call for ricotta, so yeah, there was plenty of snacking on home-made ricotta today, as a dip for carrots, on toast, you name it. And as for the pie it turned out delicious. The filling fell a bit flat though, it wasn’t very thick but it tasted good and it met the main criteria for me, a pumpkin pie filling that did NOT taste egg-y, it had no eggs, problem solved. But of course I was too stuffed to dig in so hence no picture..tommorrow’s dessert.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

post Prop 37 blues

I guess you can’t win them all but every day we’ll still keep fighting the good fight, let our purchasing power do all the talking and choose produce and products from companies that are down with the cause and they’re bound to hear us sooner or later. Local Dr. Bonner’s is one of them organic leaders too, their lavender pure-castile soap, YES PLEASE!

And if you’re disturbed by the map below you can order non-GMO seeds from companies like SeedsNow. I think there’s some serious pressure looming for me to grow some green thumbs soon.

And check the stickers when purchasing produce at the supermarket.

Also signing up with a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and I get 2 bags full of what’s in season organic produce delivered weekly for $25. I chose to support Suzie’s Farm as their pick up dates in Encinitas work for me. Going with what they give ya and there’s no choosing this or that which forces me to cook with produce that I might not normally think of buying. I think I’ll be fine as I grew up in a household where we were encouraged to be open-minded to what was on our plate. I don’t ever recall my parents scolding us about being picky eaters or finishing our meal, it was a non-issue, we loved vegetables and herbs as well as everything else. How I see it now is life’s just too short for a bad meal period and this concept of “surprise produce” allows me to indulge in one of my favorite things, reading cookbooks and testing out recipes. This was last week’s CSA bounty.

And with 2 bunches of beets in the mix I immediately thought of making borscht. Inspired by my friend, Jane who lives all the way in Ireland recently sharing a photo of her soup making skills and I thought no further that’s what I had for lunch too. Having grown up in the north end of Winnipeg with a large community of Ukrainian/Polish immigrants there was no way I didn’t have a dear friend who had a mama or baba that was an amazing cook, mine was my friend, Marnie’s mom and she’d feed us amazing borscht and holopchi (cabbage rolls), pierogies and Kub rye bread, the best!

I started with a basic mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion), sautéing for flavor and aroma for the soup stock. Then I added roasted chopped red beets, shredded cabbage and lots of fresh dill, season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar and a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar to finish it off.

The tomatillos turned into a simple salsa verde I’d use as a condiment for eggs in the morning. I like to roast the tomatillos, onions and garlic first for more flavor before cooking them down in some boiling water with serrano chilis, fresh cilantro, sea salt and a tiny pinch of cumin.

The lettuce, tomatoes, tiny watermelon cucumbers and sunflower greens were used in salads, the escarole I sauteed in olive oil with some garlic, the eggplant I threw into a thai green curry, the carrots we ate raw, cilantro I used in guacamole, soups and omelettes and the red kuri squash was cut up and tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, sprinkled with a bit of sugar  and roasted for a simple side. So far so good, I haven’t been stumped yet.