The Morning After



I’m still working on photos from The Great L.A. Walk, so that post will have to wait. But I did want to let you know what yesterday morning looked like for me.


Mister and I drove to breakfast and I feasted on the above Hangover Hoe-cake. I wasn’t hungover, but I was hungry. The hoe-cake with chili, cheese and egg was so baby-bear it was ridiculous. Just right!


I think I’m back on schedule now and ready for regular meals. Hallelujah.

Thursday Memories



As we gear up for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, I’m choosing to share the photo shown above. Taken in 2002, it represents a gathering at the house of friends, near the sea. Big Mama was there, and I made a pretty punkin pie. I remember a lot about that holiday. Like the gorgeous weather. And the food. And how Big Mama’s daughter explained a rather explicit Robin Williams joke at the end of the evening. And how Big Mama didn’t blush.


Big Mama is gone now. Those friends have divorced and are living completely different lives. The house by the sea was sold a long time ago.


But I can still make pretty pies and enjoy life. I think that counts. I think Big Mama would agree.

Itty-Bitty Treat



Years ago I found myself in South Beach, Miami. While there, I was introduced to delicious Cuban coffee – cortadito. It’s sort of like an Italian espresso. I suppose some would say it’s exactly like espresso, but that’s beside the point. And not really true. So there.


Here in Los Angeles, I occasionally find myself in the vicinity of a Cuban bakery. When that happens, I mosey in and order myself an itty-bitty treat. With sugar. And that cortadito comes in the cutest little to-go cup ever. It even has handles! As I walk down the street, sipping my Cuban coffee, I feel content and sated. And – I won’t lie here – I always lick the foam from inside the cup. Right there on the street. Here’s another truth – it isn’t as good as I remember the South Beach version being, but it’s pretty danged good for L.A.


And seriously – that cup! It’s darling!

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong



Betro and Aniela told me about it, but I barely believed them. It just didn’t sound right. Or real. Or something. All I knew was I wasn’t buying it. So they stopped at a liquor store and showed me what’s what.



Oy vey. What is the world coming to, people? Are we so desperate to get our drank on while getting cavities that we’ll resort to this? If you’re planning to imbibe this Halloween weekend, please do so responsibly. With a beverage that doesn’t need a “Z” to make it cool. And with a modicum of decorum. I mean really…


World Pasta Day!



This day gets me excited each year: World Pasta Day!


I happen to love pasta. But then, I love bread and carbs and all things gooey. So there you go.


As I have a lovely sauce in the fridge, I’m thinking lasagna might be in order. Hmm. How great is it that we have a whole day devoted to pasta? It draws a tear, I tell ya.

The Little Things



Do you have little things in life that you look forward to? Things that come along regularly, or semi-regularly? Things that others wouldn’t understand, but you savor just the same?


For me, Saveur Magazine is one of those things. Since my friend Fernando turned me on to this mag, I’ve been hooked. And there are always recipes – plural – that I get excited about. This month’s issue, received yesterday, is no exception. When I reached the Turtle Soup recipe, I knew I was a goner. And that I’d have to do some shuffling to find me some turtle meat. But that’s the way it goes, when you find yourself on a mission. And that’s exactly where I now am.


Turtle Stew. My first exposure was at the tender age of 5. Mr. and Mrs. Melvin, our country neighbors, were making a big ol’ batch after their son caught a couple of giant turtles in the swamp behind our houses. I was only a kid, but I knew good food, and that spicy stew was the real deal. (For the record, I’ve written in detail about this particular food memory and you can read that here.)


Anyhoo, I’ll dig a little deeper into the new issue of Saveur over the next couple of days. I’m sure I’ll find another recipe or two to try. And I’ll be happier than a denuded lark in a thistle patch. It’s the little things, after all.




We have a bounty of home-grown tomatoes on the sill and I am a smitten kitten.


Still, this weekend’s recent harvest has me wondering when to call it quits and clear out the plants. They’re getting spindly, to be sure. And the tomatoes seem to have slowed down quite a bit. At some point, we have to know when to stop watering the danged thangs. They’ve been good to us, granted, but we don’t want to waste water if they’re not producing. Capisce?


It’s tricky, though. For just when I think they’ve expelled their last sighs, the little tomato plants surprise me by showing off new greenies. Looks like the old gals have a bit of life left after all. I can relate…


To Everything – Turn, Turn, Turn



I look for them every year. Sometimes I miss them, short-lived as they are. But I never forget to look. And when my timing is just right…


Champagne Grapes are in. I don’t know the varietal’s true name, but that’s okay. If I say “Champagne Grapes,” everyone knows what I’m talking about anyway. And they are spectacular. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but they’re tiny little dudes. The largest is barely the size of my thumbnail, and y’all, I have girl hands. They come and go so fast, it’s easy to blink and never catch a sight. So when I scored some at the market this week, I was downright giddy. They’re such a treat, I fully expect to breeze through this bunch in only a couple of days. If I’m lucky, there will be another round waiting for me at the market. If I’m lucky.


Mister’s Mama told me she’s been eating Olathe Corn as much as possible. And now her markets are getting Colorado Peaches in, so she’ll be adding those to her line-up. Most of us food dorks have our calendars in mind when we shop. We know when strawberries are in season. We know when to search for favas. And speaking for myself, I don’t get too down about a fruit or vegetable moving through its growing cycle, as I know something else will soon be ready for harvest. That’s how it works. Turn, turn, turn. And it’s beautiful.


In the meantime, I am so happy to be snacking on the sweetest little grapes around. And I’m so grateful I spotted them this year. Lucky me.

Stretchy Pants



I don’t know about you, but I had a lovely, low-key weekend. Mister and I mostly hung at the new pad and we kicked back in the pool every day. We both managed to get some things done, and then there was the food.


Friday night we had an amazing Caesar Salad with Roasted Salmon. It was so good, I suggested we eat that mutha once a week. Saturday morning, we had a tomato-fontina tart with an avocado and hard-cooked-egg salad. Lunch wasn’t much to speak of, but dinner was out and fab: fried calamari, antipasto salad and pizza. Sunday’s breakfast was of the ordinary, fend-for-yourself variety. Lunch was a Caprese salad with home-grown tomatoes and bacon. Dinner was chicken braised with mushroom gravy, grilled corn and grilled asparagus. Put it all together and that, friends, was a whole lot of good eatin’.


Now – don’t think we’re total gluttons. We did work out every single day. And we didn’t have unreasonable portions, either. We just happened to eat well. It’s kind of one of our things.


Sometimes I can look over a weekend and see something extraordinary, like a particular outing or experience. Most of the time, however, my weekends are rather ordinary. Being a home-body, I tend to stick close to the abode. And it would be easy to dismiss those weekends as unexciting, run-of-the-mill, no-big-deal days on the calendar. But that’s not really true, is it? Speaking for myself, most of my life is ordinary. And though some may deem that boring, I absolutely do not. I relish pool time with Mister. I am astounded by the quality of the food we eat at home. I laugh at home, I think, I cry… Honestly – to say “life is good” at home is a profound understatement. The joy I feel – simply for being alive – is off the charts. It’s a shame more people aren’t tapped into this love of life. It really is.


Anyhoo – even though I worked out all weekend, I’m thinking some stretchy pants might be in order today. Wonderful, comfy, happy, stretchy pants.

Jujube Fruit



Over the weekend there was a get-to-know-your-neighbors block party in our ‘hood. This sort of gathering is rather old-school, and far too uncommon these days. I don’t think we all need to be best friends with our neighbors. But knowing the folks around us and being friendly is a great way to have each other’s backs. I guess I look at it like insurance: I hope I never need it, but I’m glad it’s there – just in case I do. And besides – some of us have great neighbors.


Anyhoo – as neighbors from a about a 3-block radius came together for food and conversation, we had the opportunity to learn a bit about one another and to share some laughs. I met folks of all ages and backgrounds and it was lovely. And then one new-to-us neighbor showed up with a gi-normous basket of fruit from a tree in her yard. She had brought Jujubes and they were awesome.


For years I’ve seen Jujube fruit in ethnic supermarkets, but I’ve never tried them, nor have I known a darned thing about them. Turns out, a common name for the cultivar here in Southern California is Chinese Date. (This is not the same variety as the Indian Jujube, whatever that is.) The tree common to our neck of the woods is drought-tolerant and loves heat. The tree needs a little cold in the winter time in order for the fruit to set, and as we have that, all is well. Our generous neighbor not only educated us on the local Jujube, but she also provided us with a tasty treat. Jujube fruit is delicious!


We had a grand time hanging out at our block party. Not only was it fun, it was also educational. Y’all have got to know I love learning about food. I also love eating it. And thanks to a kindly neighbor, I not only learned a thing or two but I’ve also got a bowl of beautiful Jujube fruit on my counter. Win-win.