Food as Art



Y’all know I’m a big old food dork, right? Right. So when I saw this ad for British store Marks & Spencer, my eyes nearly welled up. It’s so gorgeous and so tempting. I highly recommend a viewing.


As I live in L.A. and not in the UK, I can’t just bop over to M&S to check out the goodies. But I do adore these visuals. Enjoy!

Peach Rumba!



Mister wanted a drink. And I’d been itching to use a Peach Shrub I’d made 2 weeks prior. What’s that? What’s a Peach Shrub? Well I’ll tell ya.


I’d been reading about Shrubs for a few months when the Use Real Butter chick introduced me to a recipe on her blog. When she got around to blogging a Peach Shrub, I knew it was time to give it a try. I followed her instructions, y’all. The only difference I made was to wait 2 full weeks before using the concoction. I did try it after one week, but it was far too acidic for me. After 2 weeks, the magic elixir had mellowed just enough to make me very, very happy.


Anyhoo, back to Mister and that drink. He wanted bourbon, but I thought I’d give rum a shot. So I got my ingredients together…



Spiced Rum, Peach Shrub, Seltzer Water/Club Soda and ice (not shown).


Fill a short glass with ice and pour in 1 ounce of Spiced Rum.



Then add 1 ounce of Peach Shrub.


Top off with Selter/Club Soda and that’s it! This summery cocktail was so sophisticated and fun. The Spiced Rum gave just enough kick to add interest, and the Peach Shrub brought it all home.



I have to say, now that I know how good that Peach Shrub is, I believe I’ll have to make more. Per the Use Real Butter chick, the Shrub will keep in the refrigerator for a full year. Though honestly, there’s no way we’ll be able to keep it around that long. The Peach Rumba is just too danged good! If you try it, let me know how yours turns out.


Here’s the printable…

Peach Rumba!
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1

A delicious Summer Cocktail made from simple ingredients, Peach Rumba is dependent on making a Peach Shrub. That process will take 2 weeks to process, so plan ahead!
  • 1 ounce Spiced Rum (I use Captain Morgan’s)
  • 1 ounce Peach Shrub (I use the recipe found at UseRealButter: )
  • Seltzer Water or Club Soda
  • Ice

  1. Fill a short glass with ice.
  2. Add 1 ounce of Spiced Rum.
  3. Add 1 ounce of prepared Peach Shrub
  4. Top off with Seltzer or Club Soda and serve!


Magic Elixir



This is my new espresso maker. Mister got it for me and it’s one of those gifts that I love as much as air.


It reminds me of my Granny Vera’s old stove-top coffee percolator. I remember her adding the water and the coffee to that dented metal device, and then waiting. It would just sit there, taking its sweet time. And then there was coffee. Once in a great while, she and Big Papa would let me have a little coffee at breakfast. The cup placed before me would run over into the saucer beneath, just like Papa’s. Only my magic elixir was mostly milk and sugar.


I’ve missed that percolator over the years. And while I could have gotten a brand new version, it was Granny’s beaten-up model that stood out in my mind. So when Mister got this Italian-made, shiny goo-gaw for me, I didn’t compare or complain. In fact, I’m so smitten with the danged thang, I’m wondering how I’ve managed to get along without it thus far. It’s fantastic.


Now mornings find me adding water and coffee to the smooth, silvery device, and waiting. It sits there, taking its sweet time. And then there is coffee. I fill my cup, add some half and half, and savor. Once in a great while, I’ll stir in a little sugar – for old times. So far, each batch has put me in mind of Granny and Papa. That alone is a tremendous gift and I’m incredibly grateful to Mister for bestowing that upon me. The coffee’s damned good, too.

For Friends



Today I’m having a bash for my friends. My Rock Camp friends, to be precise.


All week I’ve been cleaning and prepping. I started marinating certain foods on Wednesday, and I’ve been collecting beer for over a week. Is this crazy? Maybe. But when you’re doing something for your friends, you don’t mind. In fact, you’re happy to prepare. I mean, we’re talking friends here, people! Friends! I’m so grateful for the ones I’ve got that I gladly put in effort toward their enjoyment. After all, why not?


All that being said, it’s Party Day. And I’m hoping the planning pays off and that I get to enjoy the company of my friends. They are truly a fabulous lot.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 31



I’ve been reading about Nashville Hot Chicken for ages now. I’ve imagined it, wondered about it, doubted it, wanted it. I’ve even heard about a Nashville chain scouting potential locations here in L.A. But even if that comes to pass, it won’t be happening any time soon. And I don’t have a single trip to Nashville on the calendar. So at some point I had to ask myself: how am I gonna get me some of that Nashville Hot Chicken?


I could make it, of course! I found a recipe and asked Mister if he was in to give it a go. That guy got more excited than I! So the project was set.


We found our recipe, gathered our ingredients and got to cooking! The recipe we used was from Bon Appetit magazine and I really liked it. Mister and I both kept saying how complex and wonderful the flavors were. Because we’re talking about fried chicken, it was messy. I tell you this because if you decide to make it (and you should), I don’t want you to be caught off-guard.


I want to tell you something else about this recipe. It uses 6 tablespoons of cayenne! We had our doubts about that much heat, and we like spicy food. But here’s the thing – it wasn’t too hot. In fact, if I make it again, I may up the cayenne. Do I think you should do that your first time out? No. If you decide to try this recipe, I recommend following it. Then you can decide if you want to try adding more heat. You know, the next time.


This creative food project was fun and delicious. As the primary cook in our house, I always enjoy having Mister in the kitchen with me. It’s rare. It’s also nice. And in the case of making Nashville Hot Chicken, it was divine.


Body and Soul



Yesterday’s post told of my neighbor’s passing. I mentioned how, as a Southerner, my go-to response to a death in the family is to cook for the family. And my go-to food is a baked ham.


I want to share a little something I’ve learned to do in cases such as this. When I take food to the bereaved, I make sure to present the edibles on some sort of dish the family can keep. The way I figure it, the last thing they need to worry about is which plate belongs to whom and how to get it back to the owner. So I make a trip to a thrift store and find some sort of inexpensive yet keepable item, purchase it and give it away. I make sure the family knows they can keep the dish and that it’s theirs to use or pass on. One less detail for them to deal with.


Mister pointed out to me that my neighbors probably won’t be hungry at all. I know he’s right. But if they do need nourishment, at least they won’t have to cook. And if people stop by (and people surely will), our neighbors won’t have to bother preparing something for their friends. It’s little things like that, things that feed our bodies and souls, that make all the difference in life.


Heaven knows, the little things matter. Especially in the face of the big things. And losing a loved one is about the biggest thing I can think of.

In The Garden



This big little dude has been residing in our tomato patch for quite a while now. Mister and I have watched him grow into the hearty specimen you see in the photo. I’d like to think of him as the Keeper of The Garden, but I know he’s actually the Eater of The Garden. He seems to have an affinity for basil.


Even though there’s close to 2 months of summer remaining, the ugly heat is taking its toll on our little plot. We used to have a sun-shade rigged over our tomatoes, when we lived at the old house. That contraption has yet to be built here at the new pad, so the toe-mates are suffering.


Some days I feel akin to those tomatoes. It seems as if there’s no escaping the Los Angeles heat, save residing by the ocean. We did manage to ride out the broken A/C this past month, and I will be forever grateful to the conditioned air gods for coming to our rescue. And we are able to jump in the pool to get our core temperatures down, so I can’t complain on that front.


Maybe what’s gnawing at my brain is the fact that there is so much heat to go. August in L.A. is typically unattractive, temperature-wise. September will probably be the same, if not worse. And then you know what’s gonna happen? October will show barely any improvement. Heck – we’ve had to run the A/C on many a Thanksgiving, and that’s all the way near the end of November, for cry-eye.


I miss Seasons. If the promise of Autumn was made and kept where I live, I would surely embrace the droop of Summer. But that just isn’t the case. Instead, we’re gonna have to ride out the thermometer’s reading of “Satan’s Butthole” for some time.


Don’t get me wrong. I love summer. I also love L.A. I love home and I love our pool. And for now, I’m loving what may be the last of the season’s tomatoes. I even love the Eater of The Garden. I think I’ll call him Petrarch.

Free Is Good



Here’s a little advice for anyone visiting Los Angeles: if someone offers you free tickets to the Hollywood Bowl, just say yes! Don’t base your decision on the program. Don’t ask where the seats are located. The program doesn’t matter! The seats don’t matter! Well, those things do matter, but you’re gonna end up liking it anyway. So do yourself a favor and take those free tickets. Free is good! (By the way, Mister would advise you to rent seat cushions after arriving at the Bowl. That guy gets 2 per person and I have to admit, my butt and back truly appreciate his way of living.)


Anyhoo, a few days ago Mister and I ended up at the Bowl for a cool show. Before the festivities began, there was time for relaxing and dinner. Mister and I had a picnic of lobster salad and a lovely rosé.



“Dreamworks Animation In Concert: 20 Years!” celebrated the animated films of that studio, released over the last 20 years, just as the name implied. As various clips were played on the screens throughout the bowl, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performed pieces from each film’s soundtrack. Jack Black emceed the show and he was so good that I told Mister I’d love to have him emcee any event in my life. I mean it. Imagine how awesome it would be to have Jack Black singing, “Next we have appetizers!” Love him or hate him, the guy did a fantastic job.



As the sun set over the hillside, I looked around and thought about how beautiful the night was. People were happy. The music was pitch perfect. The air was cool. The laughter was plentiful. In short, it was a stunning Los Angeles night.



Like I said, don’t ever turn down free tickets to the Hollywood Bowl, y’all. It’s about as L.A. as you can get.


RCGLA 2014 – Day 3




So Day 3 began with a fun carpool ride to Camp. I’ve been carpooling with my buds Betro, Lauren and Dawn. It’s such a cool start to our long days, talking and laughing through traffic. We catch up on how everyone’s doing and we talk about the coming day. It’s a nice check-in time.


Anyhoo, I’ve been wanting cake since Day 1. I don’t know why, I just have. So late Tuesday night I took my tired self to Costco and got a gi-normous cake for the volunteers. And on Day 3 I ate a piece of that cake. And y’all – it was good.


Speaking of food, Chef Olivia is again volunteering her culinary skills and feeding our bodies and souls. I would volunteer for the food alone, friends. It’s that good.


At the end of Day 3, we had our annual Volunteer jam-fest. That midweek decompression session really helps us keep going and giving. I would volunteer for that alone, too.


Today is Day 4. I can hardly believe it’s down to only 2 days before the showcase. Then again, I can believe it. And I love it.

Tomatoes on The Sill



The other day I paused at the kitchen sink to gaze upon the bounty on the sill.


It’s so beautiful that in our house, tomatoes have come to signify summer. We eat them until we’re about to pop, and the plants continue to give. Because of the will to live, those plants give and give without giving up. They don’t ask for much in return, either. Just some food, water, sun and rest.


Of course, those plants are loved, too. Call me crazy, but I like to think they love us back. They certainly do shine for us. All summer long.