Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ye Olde Thyme

I love Fall.

I am so completely infatuated and nostalgic for this time of year.  Autumn always brings back memories of growing up on the east coast, when the air would become crisp, and the leaves would turn, and then slowly begin to blanket our fading lawn.  I was always the one forced to rake them (against my good will), but was rewarded by jumping merrily into a big pile of crunchy, colored goodness.

I also had a slightly unhealthy obsession with the Salem Witch Trials.  I did my 4th grade report on them, and strolled in with my pointy hat, long cloak and was convinced that all I needed to prepare were some limerick-like spells, and have a plastic cauldron full of candy to hand out.  Of course, I put much more effort into it than that, and nothing else would make my after-school infatuation more pleasing than when my family would take seasonal trips up to Salem, MA.  It was there, that I got to feast my imagination and completely submerse myself into the world of witches and warlocks and all the haunted happenings that took place there.  Then, I'd go home and watch movies like 'The Crucible' and 'Sleepy Hollow' and try to relive the magical lives  of these characters. 

Me, on trial, for not cleaning my room.

These days, I don't find myself in Salem, but I did find myself in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where my roommate and I took a guided tour, by the well-versed and educated Karie Bible.  The tour itself lasted about 2 hours, and covered only about a quarter of the cemetery itself.  Man, that place is BIG.  Most of the gravestones we learned about were from an earlier cinematic generation, including many actors I was somewhat familiar with.  It was both overwhelming and interesting to hear all the stories behind each person, most of them ending tragically, but regardless, what they left behind was a legacy of sort.

It left me feeling a bit morbid, so I had to make up for it, by indulging in a more child friendly celebration.  And what better way to do so than to bake an seasonal Apple Thyme Cake (courtesy of SpoonForkBacon), and sip bourbon cider, while watching your favorite Sanderson Sisters try and suck the lives out of little children?  By the way, if you don't watch this movie for the majesty of Bette Midler, than do the honors for the two hilarious "hoodlums" (Jay and Ernie 'Ice'). 

And be sure to buy a cinnamon broom from Trader Joe's.

...some things never change.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

(almost) A Month Later.

I'd like to say that the reason why I haven't been writing much lately is because I've been sooo busy.  Untrue.  Let's recap:

A few weeks ago, I flew up to visit my family in the Bay Area for my Grandparent's 50th Anniversary.  They had no idea that we were throwing a surprise celebration for them, and it was really wonderful to be apart of something so monumental.  

I don't get to spend as much time with my family as I'd like to, (distance being a big reason), and it's funny because, when I had them close, I didn't take advantage of them as much as I wish I had.  In fact, I couldn't wait to get out of the house upon graduating, and my seldom visits were dictated by the holidays, not my own volition.  I had this notion that the farther I went away, the less I would need them.  Even after college and moving to LA, I thought the same thing.

And then you get to see your entire family celebrating two people who've spent most of their lives together, and you feel how important they are to you, despite the gaps of time you've spent apart.  You sit down with your grandma and grandpa, and ask them for advice because they really have seen it all.  You take a beat and actually spend time with your family instead of rushing through another obligation, when you're just trying to go out with friends. 

You really see your family for the first time, and appreciate them in a brand new way you never thought you could. 

And it's really nice.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Falling In.

I get it now.  It all makes sense to me. 

It's hard to articulate something that is so abstract (even ethereal), but I think I've managed to construct a concrete understanding of what it means to be an artist. 

I started reading a book a while back called, 'The Storytelling Animal' and it goes into depth about the origins of storytelling, why we do it, and what makes it so important.  As artists, we get to be storytellers.  And the awesome part is that, we all do it in a way that is unique to us. 

This is not to say that it's an easy road.  The lifestyle of an artist is not like others, because it is not linear.  Not only do you endure the ups and downs of your own personal life, but you must do the same with your career.  There is no certainty in what we do, but that is what it's all about.  It's not about safety, and it's not about getting it right.  It's about being truthful and present, even if that means being uncomfortable.  It's about surrendering to the possibility of experiencing something you had no idea could happen; allowing yourself to be vulnerable and real, because people need that.  In fact, they crave it.  We can spend so much effort into appearing like we have it all figured out, instead of admitting what's really going on, and so we seek comfort elsewhere.  Art lets us know that we are not the only ones who feel this way, and that we are not alone.   

This is our job.  This is what we do.  And when we do it well, others welcome it gladly.  As artists, we must go to the places that no one else dares to, seek out the unknown, experience it, and then report back.  Sharing these stories is essential to our nature.  It's what makes us human.

And everyone loves a good story. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good Mood for Good Food

Sometimes, I find I have too much time on my hands.  This leads to baking.  And eating.  And my continued quest to find others who do the same.  If that's you, speak now, or forever hold your piece.

I'm so clever.

This weekend, I got the awesome opportunity to volunteer at KCRW's Good Food Pie Contest.  The annual event takes place at LACMA, and in it's 4th year, had over 200 entries.  Each baker entered two pies, one for judging, and one for public view/purchase, and my job was to schlep pies back and forth, all the meanwhile, wearing a cute little apron.  The work itself wasn't very difficult, and since I was part of the staff, that meant hanging out in the air conditioned loading area, where the judges were and helping out with occasional cleaning.

This year's panel included Russ Parsons (of the LA Times), Sherry Yard (of Spago), Huell Howser (a hilarious TV man, I had yet to hear of, but now adore) and a personal favorite, Joy the Baker (of Joy the Baker ).  I had no idea she would be there, and was thrilled to get to meet her, since I'm an avid follower.  If y'all don't know her yet, you should.  She's wonderfully awesome.

ONE of the FOUR tables of pie.

There were 5 categories for judging (Fruit, Savory, Creme, Nut, & Metropolis (based on Chris Burden's Metropolis II Sculpture)).  Once the judges had finished deliberating, which was a very intense session of hand-raising while still plunging forks, my real purpose came into play.  Meaning, I got to sample the remaining pies.

WARNING: The following images may invoke hunger, cravings and/or irrational behavior.  View with caution.  

Candied Mint is delicious.
Best pie, by far.
Mo Butter DOES mean Mo Better 

 You can tell, I'm a fruit gal.  Another favorite was Blueberry Lavender, which was off the charts.  And I don't use charts.  Some were kooky, like Artichoke Pie, and Shoofly Pie, and FISH Pie (I did NOT try that one).  I tried to give my love to all the bakers I could, but after a while, I began to feel the expansion that comes with eating too much food.  

As the day came to a closing, and the winners were announced, the remaining bakers came to pick up their empty pie plates.  Even though most of them hadn't won, I wanted to give them a little high-five for just being awesome.  It wasn't about the ribbon, it was just the fact they had made the effort and went for it.

After all, the proof is in the pudding.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy September!

As we transition out of the over-heated summer, and into the sumptuous fall, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than attending the LA Times anticipated event,  'The Taste'. 

Now, some people like to think of heaven as a never-ending, angel singing, cloud lounging paradise.
For me, it's a weekend devoted to tasting the best restaurants and having an unlimited supply of wine, beer and gin.  I love me some gin.

The 3 day extravaganza is spread out into 5 different events, the first one being 'Field to Fork', serving as a nod to all the Farmer's Markets in the area, as well as the ultra trendy movement of farm-to-table dining.  I'm a FM devotee, and love getting to know my farmers, how/where they grow their produce, and learning all I can about the process.  It makes cooking so much more enjoyable, because you know where your food came from.  You'd be surprised how little people know about what they put into their mouths.  Educate yourself.

Okay.  Back to the weekend.  I had been looking forward to this for some time, and was so excited to spend the afternoon on the Paramount Lot with friendly faces practically handing me free samples.  There were several stages set-up for demonstrations, including a cook-off between two notable chefs (Ray Garcia & David LeFevre), with the secret ingredient being...melon! Unfortunately, I didn't stick around to find out what they made.  I was too concerned with getting my fill of food and drink, as the event was only 4 hours long. 

Paramount Lot turned food mecca

Roxana Jullapat of Cooks County, making leftover dough into a yummy snack

Each booth was set-up with prepared samples, so there were never any long lines.  Some of my favorites would have to be:

A/K/A Bistro-Goat cheese polenta with honey dates
M Cafe-Peanut Kale Salad, along with Curry Tofu crisp
Valerie Confections-Candied Basil Panna Cotta.  I had this one twice.  Please do yourself a favor, and stop reading, drive over to the bakery and order this dessert.
Rocio's Moles-Chicken Mole, and Summer Squash Fritter

These are just a few out of the 28 restaurants I ate from.  It's times like that, you wish you had a second (or third) stomach, so you don't walk around feeling like the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.  And just when you think you can't eat anymore, you find it in yourself to grab another tiramisu sample. 

 The event goes on today and tonight, as well as tomorrow, ending with a Labor Day Picnic.  Me? I wish it went on forever.

Foodie Love :)                      

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Harping in Heat

(Is anyone else ready for fall?  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy summer, but the heat doesn't seem to be dying down, and I want to cozy up with a good book, blanket and 60 degree weather.)

Lately, I've spent a lot of time consoling myself.  Anniversaries tend to do that.  It's almost like New  Year's, but instead of feeling elated with a fresh start, you're reminded of the same stagnant place you've been in for the last two years.  You imagined that things would be different by now, that you wouldn't be at that same restaurant, living the same routine life (going home doesn't help this at all) and instead of moving forward, you end up crumbling under the pent up pressure that you've put on yourself.  And then you breakdown.  Several times.  Per day.

I've spent all my mental energy expecting my life to go a certain way, that I've completely missed out on what's been happening all along.  Or what could be happening.  I like to think that I have control over things, because then, I'm in charge of my life and no one else is responsible for how it goes, except for me.

The only problem with that, is it will drive you mad.

And after the madness, comes solace.  You find out you're not the only one who feels that way (definitely, not the first) and that the people around you are there to help, if you only ask them.

You remember to breathe.  That it's okay to take a break.  It's okay to not have all the answers.

Your life will go, as it is meant to.  It may sound ethereal and new age, but often times, we see so clearly where our life is headed, that we miss out on the people, places and opportunities that are right here.  Sometimes life will guide you in an unexpected way, and your only job is to allow it to happen and adjust your route.  Chances are, when you let it go, it will happen.

Listen to yourself.  In this town, it's far too easy to compare yourself to others, and feel inadequate because you don't have what others deem successful.  You have to find out what works for you, what success means to you, and not live by anyone else's standards or expectations.  Take a beat.  And make some granola. 

'Give Yourself A Break' Granola
2 c rolled oats
1 very ripe, mashed banana
1/2 c chopped almonds
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 dried cherries
1/2 raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c agave (or honey)

Pre-heat oven to 350∘Combine the oats, cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit (whatever you have in stock), then add in the banana, followed by the agave.  The banana acts as a binder, and if you're sugar conscious, you could just use that without the agave/honey.  The dash of salt, brings everything together, making all the flavors pop.  Once you've combined the ingredients, spread it onto a metal sheet, and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown.  Let cool, and enjoy how ever you like 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1 cup flour, 3/4 birthday

Today is my three-quarters birthday.  Unlike it's close relative, the half-birthday, this day doesn't get nearly as much recognition, when it definitely deserves some attention.  Being the advocate for imaginary holidays that I am, I thought I'd celebrate this fraction of a milestone, with a little impromptu baking.  

From my last trip to the Farmer's Market, I've been saving some fresh rosemary for my Olive Oil Rosemary Cake.  The last time I made this, it was delicious (if you know me, or just want cake, I'd be happy to bake some for you).  Since this is spontaneous baking, I thought I'd get a little savvy and turn it into Olive Oil Rosemary Zucchini Cake.  Baking on the edge.  I was so pleased with myself, that I grabbed my cute, little vintage apron, put my hair in a bun, and then was halted to find that there was no flour left. 


Okay, not quite.  There was one cup.  Recipe called for three. 

I was determined to go through with it anyways (I even googled 1 cup flour recipes.  There are none), I thought, 'I'll just cut the recipe in half, or thirds...okay, so 1 cup flour to 1/4 sugar, to .5865 tsp baking soda, to 13/9 tsp salt..." 

I took a step back, and put down the spatula.  Even if my cake did come out okay, I wouldn't have been satisfied, because I knew it could have been great.  And I wasn't about to settle for 'less-than' cake.  

Frailty, thy name is flour.

Isn't this how life goes?  It seems to be for me lately.  But, I don't see this as a roadblock, rather a delay. 

I won't get to eat my bon-appetit approved pastry this afternoon, but tomorrow instead.

(Once I get all my ingredients).


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Here we go.

WHOO! First post ever. 
Welcome to my humble little blog.

(Why are first posts so hard to write? Seriously, I've written and re-written this thing probably 10 times.)  Regardless how first posts can be a little daunting, you should know that I'm so excited to be doing this. 

I've been wanting to kickstart this for sometime, since I already do a handful of writing, and thought, "What could be more fun, than to share all my quirky thoughts and interests with the general public?".  A few things came to mind.  Going to the beach.  Hanging out with friends.  Socializing in general.  Eventually, blogging seemed like the appropriate answer. 

The inspiration for this came from several sources.  It's also been an interesting time in my life (a.k.a. quarter-life crisis), where everything seems to be up in the air, along with the usual confusion and uncertainty that comes with pursuing a career in acting.  Writing always seems to give me some kind of clarity.  Along with baking.  And food. 

I have an endless curiosity and fascination with the world.  I love finding something new, whether it be a song or musician, restaurant, or quirky/weird health food that nobody likes, I thrive on discovering new things, how they work and sharing them with others (usually because I can't stop thinking about it).  Kind of like having a bee in your bonnet. 

I'll keep it interesting,  and I'll keep it sweet.