Long Time, No See



The other day I was having lunch at a diner in Burbank. “Tallyrand” has been in business for a jillion years (57 actually) and I’ve been going there for at least 20. I wouldn’t say I’m a regular or anything, but I pop in from time to time, to enjoy the long-time staff and the pretty danged good diner fare. I know diner food isn’t for everyone, but I happen to love it. (Mister would definitely not agree on this one, by the way.)


So I was there at the Tally, having a fabulous burger, when I realized I could identify many servers by name. I’m not sure how that happened, as not one of them knows me by name. And believe me, they know a lot of their customers. I heard one guy at the counter saying he’d see them tomorrow. Tomorrow, people! That guy eats lunch there multiple days in a row. It’s good and all, but come on. Variety, you know?


Anyhoo – I felt rather anonymous, sitting at the counter. And I was good with that. The burger was aces, but too big for one sitting, so I boxed up half and took my leave. As I was stepping down from my stool, one of the long-term servers – Marti – said, “It was good seeing you again, Lady. Take care.” I smiled and assumed she was either just being nice or had mistaken me for someone else.


In the parking lot, as I approached my old car, I saw the manager looking her over. He smiled as I unlocked the door, asked me a few questions about the Volvo, and turned to go back inside. Then he stopped, faced me and said, “Victor said it’s been a long time since you’ve been here. Where have you been?” I told him I’d forgotten just how good the burgers are, but now that I’d been reminded, I’d be back. He smiled and wished me a good day then went back in to work. As I drove away, it occurred to me that maybe they did recognize me after all these years. Maybe I’m not as anonymous as I thought. And then I had a final thought: who the hell is Victor?

Summer Food



As we are smack-dab in the middle of summer, and especially as we’re riding out the “Heat Dome” here in the States, using one’s stove is not a good idea. Searing some ahi tuna, on the other hand, is quick and yummy. Throw it on top of a Nicoise salad and, well, a girl might need some alone time with it. I’m just sayin’.


I don’t have a recipe for this, as it’s something I make year-round without much thought. But this time I kicked it up a notch by including capers in the salad. Why I’ve not done this in the past is a mystery, as it’s so danged good. Honestly – the reason I’m sharing it here is mostly to remind myself to make it more often. I love salad. And yet I forget about it some times, and that’s a shame. Because salad doesn’t have to be boring or complicated.


Even as I type this, I’m making a mental note to eat more salad. Let’s hope my memory stores hold and that I actually honor this intention. Word.

Uh. What Day is This?



A few days ago, Mister and I were talking about “Amazon Prime Day.” Like you do. And he wondered aloud why the sale was held on July 12, as “12″ is not a prime number. Our math-themed conversation didn’t last much longer, but before it ended, Mister brought up “Pi Day,” which, as you know, is March 14, each and every year (as 3.14 are the first 3 digits of pi – but you knew that already). And then I got confused about which month and which day it was, and before I knew it, I was looking to today’s date and thinking how good some pie would be. It doesn’t make sense, I know.


Apparently, all it takes for me to steer toward good food is the gentlest of nudges. And that’s why today will find me working on my crust for some good-ass pie. Blueberry, I think. I’m already excited.

Accidental Selfie



Sometimes the unexpected happens. Like when you’re taking a photo of a beautiful spread of tomatoes and prosciutto. Tomatoes and basil you harvested from your own garden. Prosciutto you harvested from a local Italian market. Fresh burrata from the best maker in Los Angeles. And later, after you’ve devoured that fabulous platter of food, you look at the photo you snapped just before dinner and notice that not only did you capture the glorious essence of your dinner, you also got yourself a crazy selfie. I love when that happens.


Nice Haul!



This was my morning haul on Saturday. Nice, eh?


No need to answer. I already know.

Treat Yo’ Self!



The other day I thought I might want a treat. And then a few moments later, I thought I might need a treat. About an hour after that, I decided I would get a treat and there was no way anyone was gonna stop me from making that happen. That’s when I put one foot in front of the other and headed out the door.


There’s a corner shop near us, that is, as it happens, just around the corner. I sometimes go there for a cuppa, but their treats tend to be more along the lines of vegan and gluten-free. As I am the self-proclaimed Patrick Henry of the gluten-free craze (“Give me gluten or give me death!”), their baked goods don’t really do it for me. So I opted to walk to a different treat shop, about a mile away.


When I arrived, there was a bit of a queue. I guess the treat yo’ self mantra was heavy in the air that day or something. Once I reached the counter, I made the poor shop gal go through every single item in the pastry case, as I really wanted to know what some of those yummies were. Since I rarely go for treats, I wanted to get something that would be totally Baby Bear – just right. After a few minutes of perusal, I made my choice, payed the nice gal and walked home. Once there, I unwrapped a beautiful, gi-normous Red Velvet Cupcake and beheld its glory.


And then I ate the entire thing, all by myself. And it was good.

Grilling Season



It. Is. Here. Grilling Season. That time of year when we do our darnedest to cook our food outside, so as to not heat up the inside.


Mister and I took the cover off the old grill last weekend. I felt a bit rusty, but soon regained my grilling footing and all was well. Almost. You see, our grill’s starter hasn’t worked for a few years. And it has fallen to me to repair the danged thang. My efforts on that front have been limited to writing “gas grill starter” on the grocery list that hangs on the side of the refrigerator. After a list page has been filled, each item checked and the page thrown in the recycle bin, I have transferred “gas grill starter” to the next page. And so it has gone, for years. Years, people!


This week I decided enough was enough. I started digging around on the interwebz, looking for the specific part for the repair, when I happened upon a vid-ja on the YouTuber. Short and sweet, the dude in the video suggested most folks with faulty grill starters merely needed new batteries and not new starters. Da-fuh? Batteries? So I went outside, twisted the starter knob until it loosened and popped off, pulled out an old tiny battery, replaced it with a new tiny battery and pushed the starter. The old gal fired up in less than a second.


I feel like a dork, having not figured this out sooner, but I’m also grateful the quick fix worked. I can hardly wait to make pizza on the grill! Yippee!

Onion People



This post’s title may refer folks like myself, folks who love onions and wait all year for times like now – when we can lay our hands on Vidalias. And then we hoard them. Because dear, sweet lord! Vidalias are truly a gift from the gods.


This post’s title may very well be about people who are so complex, so layered, that we can spend a lifetime peeling back the facets of who they are, and still never be done getting to know them. I get the feeling my friend Cynthia is like that. And it’s so delightful to learn a little more about her, each time we interact. I like those people. Some may see them as always holding something back, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think folks like Cynthia don’t need to tell you every little thing about themselves in the first 5 minutes of getting to know one another. They’re honest. They just don’t need to spill all over you. That’s called confidence, friends. And it’s mighty attractive.


Then again, this post’s title may allude to people who stink. God help ‘em, because I don’t know what else to say about that.

It’s a Good Day for a Good Day



It’s Friday, friends, and it’s a good day for a good day.


Yesterday, Thursday, was pretty spiffy, too. We got new stop signs on our street, so now our scary intersection has a 4-way stop. That happened bright and early, and I nearly broke into a happy dance on the front lawn.


At the grocery store, I saw Elvis. Our paths cross every once in a while, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. But it does make me smile to think that Elvis and I shop at the same Vons.


I needed to trim a couple of tree limbs and at first thought I’d tackle the job with a hand saw. Then I remembered the reciprocating saw and pulled that baby out. The task was handled, jiffy-quick and my arm was spared. Bonus.


Even though it was 80-something degrees out, I rode my bike to take care of a task (instead of driving). At some point there was a traffic jam that backed up for a couple of miles. I just kept to the bike lane and pedaled right past. I was home in record time.


A friend asked me to sing on a piece she’s working on. When someone believes in your abilities like that, it’s a pretty good feeling.


Mister and I had a salmon dinner that I’ve been making for decades and it still delivers. I do love good food.


When my head hit the pillow, I was tired and ready for sleep. A full, active day will do that for you.


It was a good day. And now, I think I’ll have another…

Howlin’ Ray’s



For quite a while now, Nashville Hot Chicken has been taking the country by storm. Though it’s been a staple in Nashville for decades, it’s only recently that the rest of us have come to worship at the spicy chicken table. And let me be clear here – this chicken isn’t merely spicy. It. Is. H-A-W-T.


Mister and I first crossed paths with Nashville Hot Chicken in our own kitchen. (You can read about that here.) Because the recipe we used provided our taste buds with such delicious heat, we were hooked. We’ve made the chicken since and we still love it.


Cut to last year and enter “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck. The press on this was huge and social media was exploding with some of the greatest food porn around. I kept trying to hit up the joint, but schedules never meshed. They were only rolling around L.A. a few days each week and in case you’ve forgotten, L.A. is big, y’all. So if my bid-ness had me on the east side and the crack chicken truck was on the west side, it just wasn’t gonna happen. And it didn’t.


In the meantime, I had a nice email relationship going with them and knew that eventually our paths would cross. And then the “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck stopped rolling. At first, I was devastated. (And remember – I hadn’t even had their chicken yet.) Then I came to understand a brick-and-mortar was in the works. Hooray! And so I, along with the rest of town, waited. The last week of April saw the shop finally opening.


Last weekend Mister and I headed to Chinatown for an introduction to “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken. As the joint had only been open a few days, we planned for a wait. Which we got. And were fine with. Anyhoo – we and a diverse group of Los Angeles food dorks waited patiently for our lunch. And we were rewarded with some fairly magnificent food, I tell ya. All in, our wait was about an hour. And when our number was called and we beheld that gorgeous chicken, we didn’t even pause long enough to take a danged photo. We just dug in. And it was fabulous.


For anyone planning a trip to Chinatown for some “Howlin’ Ray’s” love, I offer this: medium is good. Mister and I both thought that level of heat was flavorful and bearable. We got some hot chicken to take home (1 step up from medium) and it was a bit too much for us. We felt that at that level, the heat overpowered the flavor. So medium it is. But do go. If you’ve never been to Chinatown, give yourself some time to stroll around and enjoy yourself. And take some tissue. “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken will, in all likelihood, give you a bit of a runny nose. And you’ll be so glad for it.