Thursday, July 30, 2009

My necklace

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Many people ask me where I got the necklace I wear every day. I got it for Mother's Day this year from my family (after dropping some not-so-subtle hints). I absolutely adore it and it goes with everything from tank tops and shorts to church clothes.

It is called "the name charm necklace" and it is custom made by a lady named Suzanne Myers. www.suzannemyers.com

All the elements are sterling silver and you can choose your own charm borders, stones (on either side of the charms) and chain style. My family consulted my sister and she picked everything out for my necklace, and I couldn't love it more.

The necklace falls about 2" from the base of my neck, which I find to be very comfortable and perfect for most shirts that I wear. The charms are approximately 1/2" wide and 3/4" tall. When you wear the necklace the charms fall with gravity onto each other. I only spread them out for the photo.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Intelligentsia Coffee!

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Bless my little broken down Dyson vacuum!

Because, if it hadn't been in need of repair, I would have never gone to Intelligentsia Coffee today! (Sorry I can't hyperlink for some reason on blogger lately....check it out at www.intelligentsiacoffee.com
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I had seen Intelligentsia on the Food network last year, on Giada's travel show, when she visited Chicago. We were about to travel to Chicago about that time, so I made a note of it, and wanted to try and seek it out while I was there. The one-cup-at-a-time brewing method (for coffee, not just espresso) fascinated me, as did the piece of chocolate zucchini bread Giada ordered! I never got anywhere close to it, so it never happened - but then to my delight I realized there is a location here in L.A. In Silver Lake though, not an area I find myself in too often.

But today, my darling bumble-bee yellow Dyson vacuum needed a little tune-up, and the place I needed to take it was, you guessed it - right by Intelligentsia! Bingo!

So I went on a little adventure. I had fun driving, all by my lonesome, through the charming and interesting neighborhoods of Atwater Village and the like. People were jogging, walking their dogs- a real sense of neighborhood was felt. And, I just love old neighborhoods, so I really enjoyed the drive. There were a few times I felt nervous in my top-less Jeep, but never fear, I always have my pepper spray nearby! Seriously, I do!

I arrived at Intelligentsia and was fortunate to find a parking place right on Sunset. The place was SO very hip. I sized myself up to see if I was as hip as everyone else there and concluded, NO I wasn't. But whatever. I ordered a cup of decaf and a lemon ricotta almond muffin about the size of my face. Of course, I told myself, I would not eat it ALL. Yeah, sure.

So I got my coffee and muffin and plunked down my (ouch!) $7. I threw in the mandatory large splash of half and half and one raw sugar into my coffee, and off I went. When I got to the car, I took my first taste - WOW! I have never ever tasted coffee that good or even remotely that good. I was stunned. And very happy. I just kept saying "wow" even though I had no one to hear me!

I then took a bite of the muffin -DOUBLE WOW. It was soft, moist, tender, lemony and with some sliced toasted almonds on top that had a great almond-extract/sugary taste. And, it was not in a muffin wrapper - my pet peeve! After the second bite, I made the executive decision to skip lunch in favor of eating every bite of this muffin in my hand. It was just that good.

As I drove, I continued with an alternating sip of coffee, bite of muffin - cruising down Los Feliz with the morning sun on me - feeling like this was a really special treat. I don't usually find myself alone, drinking gourmet coffee and muffin, and it was kind of nice, you know? Responsibilites out the door for a momentary time of enjoying a simple pleasure.

And I can't wait to pick the Dyson up later this week....hee hee...

***UPDATE 7/30.

I picked up the Dyson today, and swung by Intelligentsia, too, of course. This time I dressed a little hipper to fit in. I decided to try the latte today, as that is usually my normal coffee drink of choice. Don't get me wrong - it was good and all, the milk had a fabulous taste but their regular coffee is really something special and I definitely preferred it over the latte.

Funny thing was, after I returned to my car today, I realized I had parked in a spot that required using a parking meter machine nearby. DUH. Double duh, really, as I did it the first time I came, too. Thankfully, no mean parking enforcement person got me. That would have been one EXPENSIVE cup of coffee.

Incidentally, if anyone has a Dyson or any kind of vacuum for that matter, I highly recommend Leonard over at Garland Vacuum on Los Feliz. He has been in business for 50 years (his parents used to own the shop)and knows what he's doing. I don't like his large poodle that barks incessantly and looks ready to bite, or the fact that both times I went Leonard forgot to zip his fly, but he was sweet as sugar, was reasonable in price, and knows his vacuums for sure. He was quick and accurate with my Dyson. And, you could get a cup of coffee at Intelligentsia while you're at it. Think about it.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Two of my favorite things...

...spending extended time with Rich and food, of course! The kids took off for summer camp on Sunday morning, so after church we came home, quickly grabbed our beach gear, and headed to Malibu in the Jeep! I just love the drive over Malibu Canyon, especially when the gorgeous lawn of Pepperdine comes into view - spectacular!

We read and relaxed a bit on the beach, then headed to Malibu Seafood for dinner around 6 o'clock. Emma had told us about this great casual fish place that Courtney and Jeremiah took her to after their engagement photo session in Malibu. Emma said they had the best fish and chips that she had ever tasted...and she did not steer us wrong! My only question was, why haven't I ever seen this place before?? It sits on PCH just south of Zuma, where we go often. Anyways, check out this great place AND the fish...


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The view from our table - not bad for paying $16 for dinner for 2! (We split the 3 pc. fish & chips -and it was a ton of food.)

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The sign on PCH - you can tell a place is a landmark when the sign looks like this.


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Look at this fish! It was crispy, tasty, juicy, piping hot, and the fish was SO fresh...yum!


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A little self portrait with the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Rich also took today off of work so we could spend another day together! When we woke up we made our morning drinks (me - latte, him - TJ's cocoa) and sat on the porch while Rich read our daily devotional. Both of us were so excited for the chance to have a day all to ourselves - we were just beaming!

We got ready and hopped back into the Jeep for a fun ride up Angeles Crest to a little restaurant for breakfast. We enjoyed the ride with a little Fernando Ortega music - Rich says that is the PERFECT driving music and I agree (well, Fernando is pretty much my favorite all the time)! The food was OK, it was more the atmosphere and it was fun to try this restaurant we had always driven by and wondered about.

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Newcomb's Ranch restaurant- Angeles Crest

After breakfast we headed to Whole Foods market in Glendale, where we acted like two kids in a candy shop. I would LOVE to shop at Whole Foods all the time...talk about 'eye candy' - however there are several reasons I don't (like it's astronomically expensive and not close by). But today was a special day so we went in to get some of our favorite food treats.

So, here's what we came home with:

fresh giant scallops and littleneck clams

Rembrandt aged Gouda cheese (our fave)

Pt. Reyes blue cheese (soft, spreadable, heavenly...)

a crusty baguette

a large box of mixed organic salad greens

a bottle of good organic olive oil

fresh cherries

a boutique melon (kind of like a little cantaloupe)

fresh fennel

fresh golden beets

white peaches & yellow nectarines

organic strawberries

assorted olives from the olive bar

marinated mushrooms

small sweet red peppers from the cheese counter(we fill these with the blue cheese)

fresh green beans

Kettle chips

Marcona almonds

2 portabello mushrooms

fresh ricotta cheese (to stuff into the mushrooms and grill)

I love shopping without any plan whatsoever, and just buying what looks great and then figuring it out later...and I love cooking with Rich! Anyways so we will have a great week of food while our kids are gone!

And, to top it all off, look what I picked from the garden when I came home - God's bounty!

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P.S. No WDW this week...I'm taking a break to go off and play a bit.


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to make three girls really happy


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1. Find 3 girls sharing one full-size bed, tired from staying up WAY too late. Embarrass them by taking their picture minutes after they have woken up. Proceed to kitchen.

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2. Grab some lemons. This freak-of-nature was hanging on the underside of my tree. It's like a set of conjoined twins. Afraid to cut it open, I choose some more normal looking lemons.

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3. Whip up some homemade lemon curd (recipe follows). Or, be smart and have a jar in your pantry.

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4. Make some crepe batter.

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5. Cook crepes.

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6. Whip up some fresh whipped cream.

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7. Fold lemon curd into freshly whipped cream.

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8. Fill crepes with whipped cream/lemon curd mixture. Top with a little more whipped cream.

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9. Call girls into kitchen and place crepes in front of them. Make them really happy.


Lemon Curd

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled

Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth.

Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Crepes

1 1/3 c. milk
1 c. flour
3 eggs
3 T. butter, melted
1 T. sugar
¼ t. salt

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth. Cover batter and chill at least 15 minutes and up to one day.

Spray skillet with non-stick spray. Pour 3 Tbsp. batter into pan and swirl to coat bottom. When starting to brown, turn over and finish cooking. Fill with desired filling.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WDW - Fresh homemade salsa

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It's July - which to me means my homegrown tomatoes are getting ripe! Aside from just eating them plain (because they are SO delicious - nothing like store-bought), one of the things I love to do with them is make fresh salsa. This recipe is adapted from a recipe my sister uses, and it is a winner. It has the perfect flavor and the perfect texture. And you can control the heat, adding as much as you like. I usually double the recipe as it keeps nicely in the fridge.

Incidentally, if you have never grown tomatoes at home, I highly recommend it. I decided to grow my own after some friends served me salsa made out of their home-grown tomatoes. I was hooked big time and have grown my own every year since! This year I have 10 plants, so I can pick at least 20 a week (and we eat them all, too). My favorite types are Champion, Celebrity and Lemon Boy. This recipe also uses canned tomatoes, but you can substitute all fresh for the canned if you like.

I love to serve this with Vallarta tortilla chips. If you have a Vallarta market near you, you have got to try them. They are made fresh daily and are fantastic.

Fresh Salsa with Chipotle Peppers

1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned)

2 (14.5 oz) cans organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium fresh jalapeno, seeded
1 small sweet yellow onion (I used Vidalia)
2 large cloves garlic
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced finely
1 lime, juiced
good handful of fresh cilantro, chopped fine
salt to taste

In a food processor (A mini chopper does the job), puree chipotle peppers and set aside.

In food processor (no need to wash), puree the diced tomatoes, 1 can at a time. Pour into a large bowl. Now, process jalapeno, onion, and garlic until minced finely. Pour into the large bowl.

Add fresh diced tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste (if needed).

Now add as much of the reserved chipotle peppers as you like to desired heat.

The last step I like to do is take my boat motor stick blender and pulse it a bit to an even consistency.

This is the taste of summer!


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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Boy is 18

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Drew as you'll usually find him!

18 years ago, on July 19th, a big, fat baby with a full head of hair entered the world. I got to the hospital just in time as this boy was coming fast. That should have been a warning! We named him Andrew Scott, but he immediately became Drew.

Surprisingly, after his forceful entry, Drew turned out to be a late talking, late walking, slow eating, super cuddly little guy. But a streak of independence and fearlessness was ever present. When he was about 3, he walked into the kitchen and dumped his beloved tattered blankie into the trash and walked away without saying a word. Shocked, I asked him what he was doing. He simply replied, it was ripped and therefore he no longer needed it. That was that, and ended up to be how he gave up his blankie. I, of course, retrieved it from the trash and saved it - not going to let that keepsake go so easily! By the way, he's still pretty independent and fearless - a recent quote on our camping trip to Yosemite was, "Mom, would you let me RUN up Half Dome?" 'Nuff said.

I have fond memories of him as a toddler walking around in cowboy boots, jeans but no shirt (with his fat belly hanging out) a belt and holster holding his two cap guns. Always a big grin on his face and making shooting noises. He loved his Davey Crockett coon skin hat and watched that Disney video endlessly with it on, clenching his guns. He was tough but also had an extensive stuffed animal collection at the same time.

He handled Brady's illness and death like a man, and was very brave. I distinctly remember praying about the sensitive issue of Drew being alone in his room after sharing it with Brady for his whole life (he was 12 when Brady died). Drew was very strong. He was open to our suggestion of a new furniture arrangement but wasn't afraid to keep his brother's belongings and did not fear being alone in the room. He, by his strength, helped me get through a very tough situation.

He's still pretty much the same. Laid back but a go-getter at the same time. Very masculine and fearless...but a sensitive side as well. I can count on him and trust him in any situation. Now that he just turned 18, I am excited to see what lies ahead. He is going to be moving out in a few weeks to the dorms at the Master's College. I know he is ready for this new challenge in his life, but I am going to miss his everyday presence. He grew up way too fast for me. I am very proud of him, but know there is still much God is doing in his life. I have to accept that my influence and training is starting to wind down and he is going to be more on his own. So, I commit him trustingly to God's care and the Holy Spirit's work. OK, major tears here as I write!

Here are a few shots from his birthday - donut breakfast "birthday cake" and dinner at Bob's with the Tubbs after church Sunday night. It kills me that he never orders the Big Boy combo - he always gets spaghetti with chili!

I love my Drewey!


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Tubbs and Harasick kids... and Bob of course!

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"Two icons "


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WDW - Santa Fe Slaw

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I have this huge folder full of ripped out magazine pages -all kinds of recipes that I thought sounded good and want to try sometime. When I am in the mood to make something new, I thumb through it and pull a few pages out.

This week we had a dinner party at our home with 30 people, to say goodbye to someone special in Children's ministry, and I was on my own with the food (something I love). Rich suggested Mexican, and wise husband that he is, he also suggested I buy some of the food from Vallarta market. They have the yummiest carne asada, carnitas, etc. that you can just go in and buy by the pound. So, I decided to do a taco bar. I bought the cooked meat close to party time, and I made the rest of the food myself which included refried beans, all the condiments for tacos, homemade salsa and "cheaters" guacomole (I start with Costco guacomole and then add in fresh avocadoes, chopped tomatoes, and fresh garlic- great time and $ saver for a crowd) and a kicked up melon salad which was basically cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew chopped fine with lime juice and fresh mint tossed in. I decided to round out the meal, I would try this new salad I had clipped out of Sunset Magazine and was waiting in my special file. It is called Santa Fe slaw, and with the ingredients it listed, I knew it would have to be good. It just seemed totally unique and was so pretty. The only thing I changed from the original recipe was replacing tomatoes with peaches. Sounds funny, but it worked - and I think mango would be great as well. Many of the wives at our party asked for the recipe and took leftovers home. It was so flavorful and refreshing - try it for a barbecue soon!

Santa Fe Slaw

Salad:
4 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cups torn spinach leaves
1 ½ cups shredded jicima
2 chopped green onions
1 cup cooked corn (tip: use TJ's frozen grilled corn)
1 cup finely chopped peaches

¼ cup fresh cilantro

Dressing:
¼ cup each: sour cream and mayonnaise
1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (start with 1 and add more if you like it spicier)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Toss well. Season to taste with salt.

Serves 6.


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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WDW- Chinese Chicken Salad

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I promised awhile back I would post the recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad that I got many years ago. With summer here in full swing, and long hot days, this is a great go-to cool and refreshing dinner. I roasted some chickens this week, but if you don't want to turn on the oven, take advantage of a store-bought roasted chicken or grab a package of "Just Chicken" from Trader Joe's (one of my favorite convenience items). King's Hawaiian rolls are a great accompaniement to this salad.

The recipe I have calls for Iceburg lettuce, which my children delight in (must be their innate ability to detect the food with the least nutritional value). You can substitute Romaine, or even green cabbage, shredded finely.

The dressing is the bomb. You will need sesame oil and rice vinegar which you can get at TJ's. I love love love this dressing.

And, to make this salad really the bomb, try this special touch: take refrigerated won ton wrappers, cut into thin strips and fry in oil until crisp. Toss into the salad...mmm.


Enjoy!

Chinese Chicken Salad

Salad:
1 roasted chicken, shredded
1 head Iceburg lettuce, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped (green tops only)
1 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds, optional

Dressing:
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
¾ cup extra light olive oil
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
9 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a shaker container. Dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Toss salad with dressing and serve immediately.




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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WDW - Orzo pasta salad

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I call this "Orzo pasta salad" though it's official title is "Summer Salad with Rosemary." I got this recipe long, long ago from the ever-talented Susan Branch, out of her book The Heart of the Home. Oh, how I used to pore over all her charming cookbooks for endless hours, where all her recipes were beautifully hand-lettered and decorated in watercolor. She is quite the artist, and a fine little cook as well. Many of my favorite recipes are from Susan.

Well, in honor of the first day of summer, which was June 21st this year (I know, I'm a little late), I offer this unique and well-loved salad. When entertaining during the summer, I keep it simple by grilling my main dish and just serving it with interesting side dishes. This one is especially nice because it can be prepared a couple days ahead, and just tossed with the dressing a few hours before serving. It is different than any pasta salad you've tasted. If you think you don't care for pasta salad because it conjures up an image of boring tri-colored Rotini with bottled Italian dressing and black olives, you just may change your mind after your taste buds get ahold of this.

Summer Salad with Rosemary

½ lb. Orzo pasta, cooked, drained well, and cooled
1 ½ cups pine nuts, toasted
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh rosemary (don’t substitute dry)
¼ cup olive oil
juice of one lemon

Kalamata olives, optional

Combine pasta, pine nuts, and feta cheese in a large mixing bowl. In a blender or food processor, mix garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and lemon juice. Process until smooth and well incorporated. Toss salad with dressing. Garnish with Kalamata olives, if desired. Chill several hours before serving.



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