Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Love the Scent of Freesia in the Morning

Plucked fresh from the garden this morning and wrapped in a faded satin ribbon.
I just hope their sweet fragrance might give them away before I am able to hand them to Millie after her first piano recital today.

Each year as I prepare the soil for a new crop of vegetables I am careful to leave the corms so that come February the new crop of purple, yellow, red and orange freesia crop up between whatever else is growing in the garden.
Bringing bee's, hummingbirds and butterflies and vases upon vases brimming with their sweet colorful buds we await the first signs of spring.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Haut Technology

In my past life I worked fashion stylist.  Eventually retiring in to domestic bliss with a fantasy that raising children must be an easier life.  Since I have always loved fashion I have not completely forsaken it for housewifedom. 
This past weekend as I settled in to the New York times style section on my computer I felt nostalgic, the way you do when musing about child birth.  I longed for my old glamorous life of travel, free clothing, handbags galore- not to mention  prime seats at the collections.  My trips to New York Fashion Week were exhausting but very informative.   I would return from my journey with notes scribbled down on pads of Pantone" palate of the moment" paper given out at the front of each tent.   Once home, I would do my best to decipher them until the vhs copies and look books arrived some weeks later. Sitting now in my  pajamas with a steaming cup of coffee for my own private viewing of New York Fashion week I felt grateful for this technology that did not exist 12 years ago. Back in my day hardly anyone  used e-mail so there were expensive long distance bills while put on hold in London or Paris. These days my life is a bit less glamorous, full of much more technology  and a lot less fashion , but  I still have a great appreciation for the artistry and work that goes in to each collection.
On to the shows!  I savored each of the pieces wishing them to be mine right now!
 Marc Jacobs golden hued chiffon dresses and Mongolian lamb furry jackets not forgetting his evening gown collection at the end of the show the designs are simple but fabricated from spun fairy thread.

                                         Marc Jacobs fall 2010 gown

Rodarte' the local Pasadena sisters who create the most exquisite pieces of wearable art did not disappoint.  Layered light textured pieces were wrapped and draped giving them a punky light vintage feel.  Each piece looks like a wearable piece of art. 

                                Rodarte's layered look for fall 2010

At Burburry, the show was streamed live to four places throughout the world viewers were given special 3-D glasses a'la' Avatar.  More technology...  I enjoyed mine without the glasses but wish I could have reached out to if just to touch the buckle covered black leather boots for just a moment....
I thought about how advanced this is to be able to peruse the shows in over and over again obsessing on the little nuances all the while wearing pajamas!  Immediately I needed to change my clothes..... I wanted to wear what they were wearing.. Did I own anything that might make me feel satisfied?  Was there something in my archives?  When I was a stylist I often had the most spectacular pieces in my possession for days, I would unwrap the delicate tissue papered boxes as the Fed -Ex man was still unloading his truck.  While hanging  them up, I would inspect them for damage, and occasionally try them on, all in the name of research for my clients of course.  Sometimes I fell hard for a piece and might inquire politely about it,  and if I was lucky, I might be given the piece at the end of the season or could purchase it for a song...Most of the time when I went to my closet there was something to wear.  These days of careful purchases don't give me the same satisfaction.

                                           " My Precious"
                                           A gift from Richard Tyler

Finally, I was happily surprised by Mary- Kate and Ashley Olson's new collection the Row.  It is simple and chic and quite expensive.  The collection is named for Savile Row.  A street in the Mayfair area of  London where the rich and royal have their suits made in a traditional style for more than 150 years.  Each suit taking upwards of 60 hours and many fittings to construct.  Sundance Channel recently aired a  three part series on Saville Row. The first episode had the traditionally competive tailors band together in opposition to Abercrombie and Fitch purchase of a historic building on the street and opening shop.  Bespoke tailors of Savile Row might not appreciate the nod to them by the Olson twins, but I love it!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pea Pods and Chard and Cauliflower Oh My!!

There is so much produce in my garden at the moment that each visit challenges me to try a new recipe.

I combined broccolini and cauliflower for my favorite new version of a quick side vegetable.
Toss 1/2 a head of cauliflower and 6-8 stems of broccolini with olive oil, salt and pepper.   Put this combo  in the oven on a  baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
While baking, whisk  juice from a whole lemon 1-2 tablespoons of  olive oil and one large clove of garlic- crushed or minced.  When broccolini and cauliflower are starting to brown remove them from the oven and put them in a bowl.  Toss with the dressing and consume...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Age of Aquarius

The month of January was half over when the celebrations began.  First John's birthday dinner at Church and State in downtown Los Angeles.  Arriving in the rain with our friends Eric and Olga we ducked inside only getting a quick peek of the outside street scene.   Our priorities in order we met with the sommelier.  John pre-selected three bottles from our cellar.   A bottle of  2000 Turley Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard, next 2002 Alto Moncayo Campo de Borja Aquilon, third bottle-2000 Hermitage Paul Jaboulet Aine' La Chapelle.   The only thing I can recall is that the sommelier thought the bottle of Turley was corked- it did have a light mildewy smell, which after letting it breathe for a few minutes  dissipated and  was happily consumed, as were the other two bottles.
Having done some research and decided prior to arriving that we would try some of the more unusual offerings we began or order just after being seated.  Our meal began with an assortment of appetizers: Escargot in puff pastry chefs hats sitting in little pots, marrow served beside thin slices of grilled bread with  radish parsley salsa.  Last and most memorable, pigs ears.  Eric immediately dug in happily feasting upon the  triangular fried pieces.  I eyed them and found they  resembled and smelled like fried zucchini.  My first bite was very oozey.  hmmm? "Oh it has cheese inside?" Then the overwhelming physical realization that what I was actually experiencing was the melted ear oozing in to my mouth!   Once recovered, I decided to ignore the plate for the rest of the evening.  Happy to move on, the entree's arrived my petite steak au poivre was perfection.  Everyone feeling well fed and watered the attention went to the suspicious looking character near the door who resembled a thug from a Hong Kong martial arts movie we watched him with great interest and made up many stories of who he was and why he was there...or where were we?

 Great food and fantastic fantasy we ventured out in to the rain.  again where were we?  The neighborhood has been transformed in this part of  downtown.  Gritty Al's Bar, my hang in the 1980's long gone was just around the corner from where now stands Posh eateries, Gen Y lofts and gastro-pubs.

With only 4 days to prepare next was Otis' 13th birthday.  Invitees: 40 of Otis' 12,13 and 14 year "closest" friends.  The great thing about this age is that  teenagers don't need party characters, reptile man or any other conjurores to entertain them.  This is also a mandatory drop off situation- NO parents!  Happiest being with each other- preferably alone.. except the few who wanted a tour of the house and were perfectly happy to discuss couture, cooking,wallpaper and designer furniture.  This is L.A after all...
After a homemade taco bar feast about half the group retired to the screening room.  Inspired by the character we spied at Church and State just days before we suggested  watching "Kung Fu Hustle."

While the rest jumped on the wet trampoline, or danced in the strobe lit disco I swept the wet jacaranda leaves scattered like mouse droppings throughout the house.   Teenage partiers picked up and 9 kids staying for a sleepover meant one thing- midnight martial arts ninja war!  Quickly transformed from teenage boys to Ninja's, assassins, weilding whatever weaponry they could find,they ran about in teams inside and out of the house for what seemed like hours all the while I swept more wet jacaranda leaves from the stairs... I was happy to see that at 13, although he has matured in to a young man with sophisticated interests Otis hasn't lost his creative and playful spirit , and neither have his friends.

Millie's 7th Birthday approaching  I had become a hobbit collecting bits of bark, branches, and seed pods. Researching small faery dwellings and distracted by what I would call myself in the fairy world.. I had began noticing that people in the plant world seem to have uncommon names that personify terra.  Take the name of garden guru Flora Grubb.  Her name conjures a Victorian painting.  My favorite? Burl Mostul - my mother's friend  who I have never met, and has a nursery of exotic plants in Oregon. Not being blessed with a name that gives way to an occupation I am still giving my name thought.  Back to work.  This was to be a faery house building party.   I had enlisted my personal garden guru, my mother Eva- even she has a earthen name.  She collected moss, bark, some magical looking lichen that appeared to glow in the dark, and sent the 18lb box to me from Oregon.  Opening the box I was transported to the damp,mossy woods and trees' surrounding my parents house.  I spread the delicacies from their forest out to dry in preparation for our project.

Rain,rain go away come again some other day I chanted the morning of the party- Glue, bells, feathers, moss and little peet pots ready the sky cleared and 20 little girls descended upon the box of treaures to create the most spectacular miniature faery dwellings.

Back inside we prepared a tea party where mountains of soft white crustless bread was being spread with dark chocolate and strawberry jam, cucumber sliced and paired with Kerrygold butter;  for the adults, salmon, dill and cream cheese and tomato,basil and mozzarella.  Overflowing bowls with strawberries, and blue berries sat perched and waiting ... large glass bottles of lemon aid on the table; hot mint and chamomile tea were steeped.   Roses the color of faded faery linens in old tea tins covered the table.

                                          Photo by Olga Roth

 I think even The Mad Hatter would have been impressed!  The cold little girls descended upon the table with delight and party number three brought the season to a very happy ending!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vanessa's Kale Salad

This past few weeks have been so busy that managing to get to the garden each day has been a challenge- So I opted to gleen the garden as best I could between rain storms filling our produce drawer to the brim.
Purple cauliflower, English pea pods, broccoli, chard, and finally kale were yesterday's harvest.

Over the past year kale has become a staple in our diets.  Vanessa, our lovely friend and Nanny started making our friend Aparna's recipe of kale salad each week. Even the kids gobbled it up.. Every time she made it there never seemed to be enough.  There is something about the tart, salty, grassy flavor and texture of this recipe that where I could never get enough ....was I transforming in to a goat?
I would buy more and more heads of kale with us making larger and larger quantities.   Never satisfied with enough, last fall I decided I would grow kale.   What I discovered is that although I planted a whole seed packet I only have enough for about two batches.   Here is the recipe, I hope Vanessa doesn't mind...

You will need:
 2-3 bunches of fresh organic curly kale
1/2 can organic garbanzo beans
1/3-1/2 cup chopped black olives
1/4 red onion chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Step number one:
WASH the kale.    This process can take forever because kale has loads of little pockets for aphids to hide.  Once clean put kale in to the cuisinart  in small batches.   Pulse carefully or you will turn it to pulp.
place in large bowl, add garbanzo beans, olives, and onion in quantities appropriate to the amount of kale used.
Mix up olive oil and lemon in a small bowl and drizzle over salad.

Let me know how many bowls you eat before you feel satisfied.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sunday Supper

Last nights 3 + hour Tenacious D benefit for Haiiti still perfuming my hair I'm beginning to feel a fog set in. My 6am soy latte has ceased to give me any support and I now feel ready for cup of brewed coffee. The brewing of coffee is a subject that we have given much thought to. Having tested an assortment of contraptions and techniques, we are most pleased with the Chemex coffee maker. John recently discovered the roasting machine at The Oaks Market he states it's a rather annoying and time consuming task to go and bare witness to the actual roasting-but the coffee is unique and delicious.

The fog lifting, I am recollecting our Sunday supper of "Barbecued Skirt Steak with Endive alla piastra and Salsa Verde" another fantastic recipe from John's new Babbo cookbook. As you might recall the festering beet and onion concoction was prepared on Saturday night and by Sunday it sufficiently tart, and ready for our forthcoming supper. John rubbed the meat with olive oil, thyme and rosemary from our garden and cozily tucked in to a dish to relax and get yummy while we went about our day. At dusk the bar-b-que was lit and grilling commenced!

When the five of us settled in to our plates- each one bearing varying degree's of bravery- Of course Millie tried only the steak with NOTHING touching anything else- Violet more brave with pickles, steak and endive. Otis loving each thing he tried. John and I happily eating and drinking at last...John enjoyed left overs for two days enjoying the sides with other entrees. Vanessa putting the salsa verde on her garbanzo bean cakes.
Another successful delicious recipe.