The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

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It’s getting HOT and making pasta every night is killing me. I’ve been trying to branch out to more salads now that it’s summer. This is a really tasty dish...

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This cute little burger place opened up in Sunset Park last year. It’s diagonally across from Bob’s Market. One day Maddie and I rode over there on my bike after...

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It’s been exciting having this huge yield of lemons from my next door neighbor’s tree. I’ve been getting “Southern Living Magazine” this year thanks to my niece’s magazine drive and...

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Last weekend G’s company sent us all to Park City which happened to be the last few days of Sundance Film Festival! We took advantage of Jack & Patsy’s stay...

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Phew! The holidays kicked my butt this year. How did my parents do this? Better yet, WHY did they do it?? Although I try to post only the best of...

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Did you grow up eating those delicious Swanson frozen pot pies? I sure did! We loved those little things. Since last year I thought about trying my hand at a...

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In the fall/winter it’s pomegranate season here in southern California. This time of year I look forward to eating half a pomegranate on the couch whilst watching “American Horror Story”...

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Here’s a REALLY easy cookie recipe for when you have NO TIME. I just made these this morning for our daycare’s caroling at the convalescent home. Totally forgot I was...

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What do you do with leftover cranberries once you’ve made cranberry simple syrup for mojitos? Or cranberry sauce? It seems like a heee-uge waste to toss them so I scanned...

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How much do you like this guy? If you don’t know who he is, chances are you don’t like OR dislike him. So why keep filling his coffers this month?...

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I’ll be back

I’ve been gone but miss writing my blog. Our family has needed us this year. Also, I’m trying to get some kind of third career going so that by the time the kids are in school I can make a little income.

In the midst of “being busy” (and wondering how much of this busy-ness is a choice?) I remember working crazy hours the year my mom got sick. I worked so much that if I ever got home “early” (like at 9PM) I had no idea what to do with myself. I worked most weekends too. Unless it was a client dinner I had no idea how to socialize or have fun. One night I had an anxiety dream in which my family was driving away from me and I couldn’t get to the car to get in before they left. Shortly after that my mom’s cancer was diagnosed and three months later she was gone.

Our friends have just suffered a huge loss – of a young mom/wife. We are in shock. Our hearts are broken and keep breaking for them.

By December I should have some free time back and I plan to protect it for important things.

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or of a season?

-Robert Frost

From “Reluctance”

 

12 years

My mom in New Jersey

My mom died 12 years ago on September 19th. I still miss her.

We know another mom, a young one, who died today. We are hurting for our friends.

 

Mostly NOT Potato Salad

It’s getting HOT and making pasta every night is killing me. I’ve been trying to branch out to more salads now that it’s summer.

Pre-tofu

This is a really tasty dish to take to a cookout! For those of you who are convinced that potatoes are inherently EVIL in their white starchiness – this salad’s for you. **Also great for mayo haters.**

All you need:
4 small pink or red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
large handful of green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1″ pieces
2 TBSP coarse mustard
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
Olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
Salt
1/4 c chopped dill (use dry dill if that’s all you have – about 2 TBSP)
1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 stalks celery, trimmed & diced
1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced (I peeled mine – whoops!)
1 TBSP fresh chives
OPTIONAL: 6 oz baked or extra firm tofu cut into small cubes

This is definitely a chopping intensive salad but more special than the old mayo-laden potato salad I grew up with. [And I like mayo!]

First, set water to boil for your taters. Once it’s boiling, they need to cook until just tender. This should take about 10 mins. Set your timer for 9 minutes so you can toss in the green beans for the last 30 seconds. You just want them to turn bright green. Then drain the potatoes & beans.

Make your dressing: in a small bowl, combine 1 TBSP olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, sugar & salt. Whisk together. Taste & adjust to your liking!

Heat about a TBSP of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the chopped dill, add a few pinches of salt

and add the leeks.

Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl (because of time constraints I usually go right into a large lidded container!) combine the potatoes, green beans, celery, cucumber, chives and half of the leek with most of the dressing. Toss gently, taste and add salt as needed. Serve with remainder of leek and dressing atop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

OPTIONAL: Not every uses/is comfortable with tofu but it adds a benign presence of protein to this salad and is virtually unnoticeable. I bought a block of organic tofu at Trader Joe’s. Before I even boil the potatoes I drain the tofu, wrap it in a paper towel and place in a kitchen towel with my cast iron skillet on top. The presses the extra water out of the tofu so that it can absorb the flavors of the salad dressing. Press it for about 30 minutes if you think of it. Then dice it and add to salad. Try it this once time if you have never used tofu before! (Or don’t!)

This salad is a very pretty dish to take to a summer cookout/party.

Pre-tofu

Maddie ate a small bowl of it before dinner. Bea spit the potato out.

Mostly NOT Potato Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Bright, pretty summer salad that takes potato salad to a new level!
Ingredients
  • 4 small pink or red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
  • large handful of green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 2 TBSP coarse mustard
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
  • Salt
  • ¼ c chopped dill (use dry dill if that’s all you have – about 2 TBSP)
  • 1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 stalks celery, trimmed & diced
  • 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and diced (I peeled mine – whoops!)
  • 1 TBSP fresh chives
  • OPTIONAL: 6 oz baked or extra firm tofu cut into small cubes

Instructions
  1. First, set water to boil for your taters. Once it’s boiling, they need to cook until just tender. This should take about 10 mins. Set your timer for 9 minutes so you can toss in the green beans for the last 30 seconds. You just want them to turn bright green. Then drain the potatoes & beans.
  2. Make your dressing: in a small bowl, combine 1 TBSP olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, sugar & salt. Whisk together. Taste & adjust to your liking!
  3. Heat about a TBSP of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the chopped dill, add a few pinches of salt and add the leeks.
  4. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. In a large bowl combine the potatoes, green beans, celery, cucumber, chives and half of the leek with most of the dressing. Toss gently, taste and add salt as needed. Serve with remainder of leek and dressing atop chilled or at room temperature.
  6. OPTIONAL: Not every uses/is comfortable with tofu but it adds a benign presence of protein to this salad and is virtually unnoticeable. I bought a block of organic tofu at Trader Joe’s. Before I even boil the potatoes I drain the tofu, wrap it in a paper towel and place in a kitchen towel with my cast iron skillet on top. The presses the extra water out of the tofu so that it can absorb the flavors of the salad dressing. Press it for about 30 minutes if you think of it. Then dice it and add to salad. Try it this once time if you have never used tofu before!

Slightly adapted from: Super Natural Every Day

 

 

Baked Pancake (Pannukakku)

A few weeks ago, my new friend Amy shared this recipe with me. We were talking about breakfast fatigue. I definitely get in breakfast slumps. For a little while, I’d pretty given up on making breakfast and kept a well-stocked dry cereal shelf the kids could reach themselves. They started getting their own cereal (dry) before we got up. Too bad that only lasted a few weeks. Oatmeal, breakfast burritos, quesadillas, smoothies, bagels, cinnamon toast, baked oatmeal, muffins, waffles, pancakes. What else is there? Finnish pancakes! These are nothing like your typical lumberjack pancakes. Think: popover.

While this is easy to make, it is not a “last minute” breakfast item. You need to let the batter sit for about 30 mins and you also need the baking time – about 15-20 minutes. I have a feeling after you’ve made it a few times you can get it going first thing when you wake up or hopefully, do it in your sleep!

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 c all purpose flour (I used 1/2 c flour & 1/4 c whole wheat flour)
3/4 c milk
3 eggs
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c butter
optional: I added a TBSP milled flax seed & 1 TBSP chia seeds

TOPPING (optional)
powdered sugar
whipped cream
fresh fruit

**NOTE: This is half the original recipe. I used (1) 9″ pie pan but it’s supposed to be enough for (2) pie pans. I just didn’t have 2!**

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, and salt until smooth. Let stand for about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Add butter to a 9″ pie pan or I think you could use a cast iron skillet or a 9″ skillet as long as it is oven safe (and NOT Teflon coated!) I used a 9″ glass pie pan. Anyway, add the butter to it – yep, just PLOP it in there and place in the oven. When butter is melted, remove from oven, brush butter to coat entire pan and add batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Edges should be puffed and rise quite high.

Whatever you do, find a way to resist the temptation to open & close the oven to see how high it is!!

Dust with powdered sugar.

And slice!

Baked Pancake (Pannukakku)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Finnish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

A special breakfast item coming to you from Scandinavia. Think: light & fluffy popover. Perfect for a special brunch!
Ingredients
  • ¾ c all purpose flour (I used ½ c flour & ¼ c whole wheat flour)
  • ¾ c milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ c butter
  • TOPPING (optional)
  • powdered sugar
  • whipped cream
  • fresh fruit

Instructions
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, and salt until smooth. Let stand for about 30 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Add butter to a 9″ pie pan or I think you could use a cast iron skillet or a 9″ skillet as long as it is oven safe (and NOT Teflon coated!) I used a 9″ glass pie pan. Anyway, add the butter to it – yep, just PLOP it in there and place in the oven. When butter is melted, remove from oven, brush butter to coat entire pan and add batter.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Edges should be puffed and rise quite high.
  4. Whatever you do, find a way to resist the temptation to open & close the oven to see how high it is!!
  5. Dust with powdered sugar.
  6. And slice!

 

Adapted from:”The Great Scandinavian Baking Book” by Beatrice Ojakagas

 

Escape

Almost every day I check my little garden. It’s the most relaxing part of the day.

dinosaur kale, tomatoes, arugula, parsley, mint & oregano

Noticed the first tomato of the season:

Actually a lot smaller than it might appear…

Love bumping into LP out here!



You’re never alone in our backyard.



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