Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day Trip: Venice, CA

Venice Beach, CA. Thirty miles north of Long Beach, 15 miles West of LA and the epicenter of all things trendy, artsy, eco friendly, creative, cute and funky! I didn't have a lightning bolt tattoo on my neck, a pierced nose or a hairless dog so I didn't quite fit in, but we had so much fun! The purpose of the trip today (other than to enjoy the sunny 70 degree weather) was to go to Intelligentsia Coffee. I paid a visit to the Chicago store last summer but only got a coffee to go, so I wanted to go to the Venice store to get a pound of beans to take home. First we stopped at the super trendy Nom Nom truck for lunch. (See the March 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine to bring yourself up to speed on the food truck craze/revolution if you are not already familiar. See pg. 24 and 36).
Delicious $5 BBQ pork sandwich.
After lunch at the food cart, we headed to Intellegentsia. We listened to the DJ spinning a club mix in the back of shop, drank our Americanos (a suggestion from our hipster, lighting bolt tattooed barista), admired the decor of all natural materials, and eaves dropped on conversations of the Venice social scene and thought....wow, we are squares! Or at least I did.
Cool succulent wall and funky benches in front of the coffee shop.
Every shop was adorable and full of creative inspiration, but Floral Art was one of my favorite. I asked if I could take a picture inside but the salesperson politely said no, so I snapped one of the outside. Everything was way over my budget but a good place for ideas for arrangements and vases.
Another cute store, Urbanic Paper. Check out their blog, so cute! I had to limit myself to a few sheets of card stock and matching envelopes, but I really wanted to get the Wallpaper Projects book. Next time you are in So Cal, plan a day for walking around Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, just make sure to stop at American Apparel first.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Tea Towels and Cute Portland Store!

Two exciting things happened today. 1) I got the new tea towels I bought on eBay for $4! and 2) I cut my hair short for the first time in 10 years! The last time I did anything other than long, parted on the side, blonde and wavy was when I had a frizzy version of "The Rachel" in college. Few people can pull off the same look for a decade. Claudia Schiffer is the only one I can think of. I on the other hand, needed a change. I was afraid I was going to back out and suddenly found myself wishing I had made the appointment at one of those fancy salons that serves wine and cocktails for a little liquid courage in the chair. But, I managed without.

I only have one cute tea towel that I got at an adorable store in Portland, OR last summer and every time I read a recipe that suggests I squeeze excess water from vegetables, etc. in a tea towel, I can't bring myself to do it. So I thought I would buy cheap tea towels that I didn't care about and then I wouldn't mind if they were gross and zucchini stained.
New eBay towels
Every time I read about a cute restaurant, or store, or cool travel destination, I save the article and keep it in a folder and wait for the day that I can go there. Yes, friends make fun of me when I pull out my reference book of things I love, but it has served me well over the years. An article about Tilde was in my book and I was so excited to be able to check one thing off in the list! I got this cute tea towel made by the stylish Euro company Ferm Living. Check out their website, they have the cutest pillows and wall stickers! I am still trying to convince my boyfriend we need a wall sticker to complete our place. He will come around I'm sure.
My Ferm Living towel.
Tilde
Garden State, the famous Portland food cart that has been featured in Sunset magazine, on Food Network, etc., is just down the block. Sellwood is the cutest neighborhood!
Garden State

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Green Chile Enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of those meals that are pretty hard to screw up. I make it a little different every time depending on the ingredients I have. The key is to cook everything together so all the flavors blend, and then fill the tortillas. This recipe is a little lighter on calories because the only cheese is on top, not inside.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell peppers, chopped (optional)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can black beans, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 heaping Tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons diced green chiles
1 teaspoon cumin
1 large can of Las Palmas Green Enchilada sauce (there may be a little left over)
1 - 1 1/2 cups of white cheddar cheese (or whatever you like best)
1 chicken breast, cooked (If I don't use chicken, I just add more mushrooms and black beans and a cup or so of cooked rice)
Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat oil in a saute pan. Add onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and cook until soft.
3. Add garlic and cumin and stir. Add chicken to reheat.
4. Sprinkle flour and add chicken stock. Stir.
5. Add black beans, diced green chiles, juice from the lime, and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix in cilantro. (You can also add salsa or a little enchilada sauce here if you like). Continue to cook and stir until desired consistency.
6. Pour enchilada sauce in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Enough to coat the bottom. In a separate pan, heat tortillas individually. (If you don't heat then, they will tear as you fill and roll tortillas).
7. Fill tortilla with about 1/4-1/2 cup of mixture. Roll and place in pan. Repeat.
8. Once you've filled all of your tortillas, pour enchilada sauce over the top so all enchiladas are well coated. Top with olives, jalapenos or anything else you like and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
This will make at least 6 large enchiladas, more depending how many mushrooms, veggies and rice you added. They're really good the next day also! Enjoy with a little sour cream.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Easy Curry Dinner

This is a really easy dinner and a good way to use any vegetables you have. I'm not normally a fan of sauce mixes or pre-made flavor packet type of things, but this Golden Curry mix is really good! You can find it in the ethnic food aisle of any grocery store for about $4.

Directions:
1. Cut up all your vegetables. I used a red bell pepper(yellow and orange are also really good), onions, potatoes and carrots.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a large pot or saute pan on medium heat.
3. Add the chopped onions (I didn't use chicken but if you do, cut the chicken in cubes and add here. Cook until lightly browned).
4. Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pot.
5. Add all of the chops vegetables and cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
6. Add curry mix and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Serve over brown rice.

This also tastes good with tofu. Prepare separately and add to the individual servings.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eye Burrito

One of my favorite books for food and crafts - I like You by Amy Sedaris - Hospitality Under the Influence. Good recipes, quirky crafts and hilarious writing! I don't think she is for everyone, but I find her so funny! In the pantyhose craft section, you'll find the eye burrito. I made one years ago and love it! I keep it on my nightstand or in the freezer if it's hot outside and lay it over my eyes when I need a little relaxation before bed. Think shavasana.Items you will need:
1. Pantyhose (I used hose with a cute pattern)
2. Something to fill it with. (I used lentils but you can use lima beans, barley, rice, etc.)
3. I also added some lavender so it always smells good.

Directions:
1. Cut the leg off around upper thigh area.
2. Fill with about 1 1/2 cups-2 cups of lentils and push it down to the toe area.
3. With the other leg cut it so you have a six inch piece and fill with lavender. Tie a knot at the end. Put the small lavender pouch in the lentil filled tube.
4. Find a length you like and tie a knot. Double the hose over the whole thing (so there are two layers of hose) and tie.
5. Lay down, place over eyes and relax!

I may have just lost my two new male followers.

The Basics of Whiskey

I have been getting feedback from some of the male readers. They are requesting fewer posts about lavender eye burritos and tea towels and more posts about bikes, booze and the like. Aiming to please, I bring you today's post: The Basics of Whiskey.

If you are not a Whiskey drinker, chances are you know someone that is, and it's good to know what to buy if you have to bring a bottle of whiskey as a gift to a party. There are plenty of reasonably priced whiskeys, and the most expensive isn't always the best. The differences between Whiskey, Bourbon, Rye and Scotch have to do with where they are made, the materials used, the barrels, the climate and production techniques, distillation and various percentages of corn, rye, etc. There are entire publications dedicated to the details, here I'll just go over the basics and give a few suggestions. This is what I have learned...

Scotch Whisky: Made is Scotland. Usually has a smokey flavor. There are single malts or blended whiskys. Single malt is from product all from one distillery, while blended is whisky from multiple distilleries. Must be matured in Scotland in oak casks for no less than three years and a day.
Bourbon: America's version of whiskey. Most made in Kentucky. Must contain a percentage of corn and must be stored for at least two years in charred oak barrels. Usually fuller and sweeter than Scotch and Irish Whiskey.
Irish Whiskey: Whiskey made in Ireland. Usually distilled three times while Scotch is distilled twice.
Rye: A little bitter compared to others. Usually made in Indiana, Kentucky and Iowa. Must contain 51% rye and be stored in new charred oak barrels for a least two years.

When people say 10 year, 12 year, 18 year, etc. They are referring to the number of years aged in the oak barrels.

What's up with the missing "e"? Whiskey vs. Whisky? I knew the Scotches usually spelled it without the "e" but never thought of why. Wikepedia informed me: At one time, all whisky was spelled without the extra "e", as "whisky". In around 1870, the reputation of Scottish whisky was very poor as Scottish distilleries flooded the market with cheaper spirits produced using the coffey still. The Irish and American distilleries adopted the spelling "whiskey", with the extra "e", to distinguish their higher quality product. Today, the spelling whisky (plural whiskies) is generally used for whiskies distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, Australia, and Japan, while whiskey is used for the spirits distilled in Ireland and the United States.
Suggestions...
1. Hibiki: Japanese whiskey. Really good! Aged 17 years. Beautiful bottle, great for a nice gift. Around $80.
2. Crown Royal Cast N 16: Canadian Whisky. A big step above regular crown. Really smooth and good with hints of Cognac. Around $80
3. Basil Hayden: A little more reasonably priced but still a little expensive. Bourbon. About $30-$40.
4. Wild Turkey Rare Breed: I would recommend steering clear of regular Wild Turkey but the rare breed bourbon is pretty good. Around $30.
5. High West Rendezvous Rye: Rye Whiskey. A little spicy and really good! About $50.
6. Bushmill's 1608: This anniversary addition is expensive but good! Up to $120/bottle!
7. The Macallan 10 year: Scotch Whisky. About $35 at Trader Joe's. Decent. Avoid the 12 year.
8. Yamazaki 12 year: Hard to find. About $45. Different and good.
9. Woodford Reserve: Bourbon. Found in almost any grocery store. Spicy. Under $25.
10. Bulleit: Bourbon. Cheap and good. About $20. It's becoming more popular and can be found in many stores.
11. Feckin: If you like sipping turpentine, you will like this. If not, avoid. Do not give as a gift, ever.
12. Buffalo Trace: Reasonably priced bourbon. Around $20. Sold at many grocery stores and liquor stores.

These photos are from a Whiskey Club my friends have started. Every 4 months or so we get together and each person brings a new, unique bottle of whiskey. There is usually a lot of tweed, top hats, cigars and accents. When I talk to the sales people at the liquor store while searching for a new bottle, they are amazed such a club exists and always try to get an invite.

Tomorrow, peanut butter bars.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My New Ride

After the bike heist of 09 left me without two wheel transportation (lessons should have been learned from the bike heist of 07 but were not), my boyfriend started looking for bikes for us on Craigslist. I assumed he was looking at beach cruisers but he came home with this for me. I was thinking more stroll around town, ride the beach path type of bike, but he says this will be just as fun.
I'm told it is a 12 speed Peugeot P6 road bike made in France. I have no idea what that means but it must mean that I'm somewhat hard core as it is a man's frame.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Flea Market Caster Find and Chair Makeover

I went to the Long Beach Flea Market today to help a friend come up with some decorating ideas for her wedding. While looking for jars, dishes, linens, etc., I came across these vintage casters. For anyone that loves casters as much as I do, knows that casters with metal wheels are rare. The big, box home improvement stores only sell the casters with the rubber wheels these days. So when I saw this set of 4 for only $5 I picked them up! I don't have a project for them yet but I'm hoping they inspire my boyfriend to build a cool coffee table that could use some casters. They were really dirty and rusted but with a little steel wool, soap and a toothbrush they will clean up nice. I spent Saturday night working the chairs I got at the thrift store. Foam and fabric that was removed:
Several hours and one box of staples later...the chair gets a much needed face lift. (New chair on right)One down, two to go.
The french baguettes I had planned to make this weekend will have to wait until I can buy a new KitchenAid stand up mixer. I plugged in my current one, touched the bowl and was electrocuted. This is the second time it has happened and it overheats, so I think it needs to be laid to rest. I'm pretty sure people that purchase their KitchenAid's at department stores for $300 don't have this problem. People that acquire them from the side of the road, left for Goodwill and then have their boyfriends fix them, do. Well, it's all out there now. I'm not above Charles Shaw or used appliances found on the street. I need to post of picture of myself. My looks don't resemble that of a transient. I hope not at least.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crustini with Wild Mushrooms & Mozzarella

This is a really tasty mushroom appetizer or dinner!
Adapted from the Oprah Magazine Cookbook, Chef Mollie Ahlstrand - Yes, I have an Oprah Cookbook! This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. mushrooms (I used button because they were on sale but can use porcini, shiitake, etc.)
1/4 cup white wine (plus extra for drinking while cooking)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 pepper
1/2 inch thick sliced rustic bread (I used the homemade whole wheat from previous post)
1 lb. fresh mozzarella (I used pre-shredded Trader Joe's mozzarella and it was fine)
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley (I omit this because I'm not a fan of parsley)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.
3. Add chopped mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes.
4. Add wine and increase heat to high and cook, stirring until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.
5. Add salt and pepper.
6. Arrange bread on baking sheet and top with cheese. Bake 5-7 minutes.
7. Remove from oven when cheese is melted, top with mushroom mixture. Enjoy!


They were almost giving the mushrooms away for free at the grocery store. Crustini's today and Mushroom & Fontina Quiche tomorrow. I've made this several times before. So good! I use skim milk rather than whole and it's still good.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Roses

It has been a long running joke in our family that I am the favorite child. I don't believe there is any truth to this because a) my parents are fair and I'm sure love us all equally and b) I am the only one of their children that has not given them adorable grandchildren. However, for Valentine's Day, my Dad got me a dozen yellow and pink roses that I've put in cute little bud vases around the house. He got my sister the Huell Howser DVD of In-N-Out. We are having a hard time drawing a conclusion. This is the same guy that wanted to send a life size cut out of himself to his high school reunion when he thought he wasn't able to make it, so the basis for "normal" is a little off. I think he thought he was being fair and both gifts were equal. Who knows maybe it's a really good DVD?

Fume Salad

My family has been making this salad for years and it's always a big hit at parties, potlucks, etc. I thought it was an old family recipe until last summer I saw it a friend's BBQ. Confused, I asked the woman that brought it where she got the recipe. Come to find out, it's all over the Internet and even has it's own Facebook page. So, this is not an old family recipe and I'm probably the 195th person to post this, but here it is.....
Ingredients:
1 head of cabbage
2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
3 green onions sliced
1/2 cup almonds
1 package top ramen noodles
3/4 cup oil (olive, canola or vegetable)
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
6 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
seasoning from Top Ramen
Directions:
1. Toast sesame seeds and almonds in a pan. (they will burn quickly so keep an eye on them)
2. Chop cabbage and mix in a bowl with the onions, toasted seeds and almonds.
3. Break up the Top Ramen and add to bowl.
4. In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients for the dressing. (Sugar, oil, salt, pepper, vinegar and seasoning packet)
5. Pour dressing over the salad, mix and enjoy!
This can be made ahead of time and eaten the next day as leftovers. The cabbage won't get soggy.
I realize the last two posts included box cake mix and Top Ramen which generally would not be considered fine ingredients or found in Saveur magazine, but I do plan on redeeming myself and making french baguettes tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kahlua Cake

After a recent routine visit to the dentist I learned that I had several issues that would need attention over multiple visits and would cost over $1200 in total. They are the nicest dentist staff ever, and each time I went, they took $100 off here, $75 off there and just said it worked out better that way. I didn't question their accounting methods but appreciated the discount. On my last of 4 visits, as a thank you (and hoping they might take more off the bill) I baked a Kahlua Cake. My Mom had brought one to the staff at Christmas time and they were still talking about it months later. When I walked in the office with the cake, cheers came from the front desk. The receptionist called the dentist to the front to see what I had brought. He smiled from ear to ear and went to get a knife. Hygienists were coming out of the back, and crowd was gathering around the moist, delicious bundt cake. I thought it was only a matter of time before they hoisted me up, carried me around the office on their shoulders and put my bill through the paper shredder. Who needs Obama's public option, I've got Kahlua cake! Sadly, it didn't exactly work out that way, but they did love the cake and they did give me a small friend discount. They are still the nicest dental office ever. Here is the recipe....Ingredients:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 small package instant chocolate pudding

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

1 cup oil (canola or vegetable)

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup Kahlua

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. You can also use mini bunt pans, cup cake tins, etc., but keep your eye on it as it won't need to bake for as long, maybe 25 minutes? Just keep checking on it. Let cool in the pan. Turn upside down on a plate and it will easily fall out of the pan. Sprinkle with powered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spinach Salad and Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

For my readers that have been running to the store and then making all of my recipes as soon as I post them, you will notice that you have some extra bean sprouts, bacon and eggs from the Thai pizza and baked egg breakfast. Solution: Spinach Salad. Really easy.

For the salad, mix together:

2 bunches spinach
A handful of bean sprouts
1 small can of chopped water chestnuts
5 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled
2 hard boiled eggs

For the dressing, mix together:

1 cup olive oil
1/2 onion grated or chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 total of sugar and vinegar (either 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup vinegar or the other way around depending how you like it)
salt + pepper

Then, if you have a sweet tooth and realize you have already eaten all the chocolate in the house, make these easy peanut butter cookies. They will not win a blue ribbon at the state fair cookie contest, but they are good and easy.

Mix together:

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg

Form in small balls and press down with a fork to flatten. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. If you didn't eat a good portion of the dough, it will make 24. Sprinkle with sugar.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Eggs

For a special Valentine's Day breakfast, I made Baked Eggs with Cheese from Gourmet magazine. It is so easy and really flavorful! (Click on the link above for the recipe on Epicurious) I didn't have cantal cheese so used a white cheddar, didn't have any chives so I used green onions. And I didn't have any creme fraiche or sour cream so I just did without. OK, so maybe I should have gone to the store before making a new recipe, but it was still good even with all the substitutes.The recipe says to drop the egg yolks into the fluffy egg whites at the beginging and cook both together for 10-14 minutes, but my friend Whitney has made this for me several times and she bakes the eggs whites for about 6 minutes and then pulls them ramekins out of the oven and then drops the yolks and bakes for the remaining 4-8 minutes so the yolks are a little runny. I followed her suggestions.
Serve with oven toasted bread cubes (good rustic bread or sourdough is best) and bacon. So good!

Great Fabric Store Find!

While searching for fabric for my new chairs, I came across an awesome fabric store! The fabrics were adorable and the most expensive was $12/yard. There was also a huge room with hundreds of fabrics for only $3/yard!I picked a solid white for the seats and a print for the backs, $12 total! But then, as with most projects I take on that I think are going to be cheap, I had to go back and get another $50 worth of foam after the original foam disintegrated and turned to dust when I removed the old fabric. I can't wait until they are finished!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thai Pizza

Tonight I made a Thai pizza with some leftover peanut sauce I had from a tofu, noodle, veggie dinner I made the other night. A failed attempt at homemade pizza dough last week (it was so bad my boyfriend and I flipped a coin and the loser had to take leftovers for lunch the next day. I'm not kidding!) taught me that pizza dough is one of those things you just buy at Trader Joe's for $1.29 and don't waste your time with the homemade version. If you're Italian, go for it though. I am Polish and an amateur in the kitchen so I will be buying it. Moving on...

Ingredients:

Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough (or any other you like)
1 or 2 carrots julienned in a mandolin (if you don't have a mandolin just cut as small as possible)
1 cup cooked chicken
1 cup or more shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3/4 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro (or less)
lime wedges
Sriracha hot chili sauce
1/2-3/4 cup peanut sauce (see recipe below)

Peanut Sauce Recipe:

Peanut sauce recipe is from the Book Tofu 1-2-3 (So many great recipes!)

Whisk together:

3 Tablespoons of soy sauce

1/3 Cup natural peanut butter

3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar

1 Tablespoon water

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2-1 teaspoon chili paste

The peanut sauce recipe will make more than you need for the pizza. It goes great with soba noodles and veggies, tofu, etc.

Directions:
1. Roll out dough.
2. Spread peanut sauce.
3. Top with chicken, cheese, cilantro, bean sprouts, carrots and onions.
4. Bake at 450 for 12 mintues (or according to the directions for your pizza dough). 5. Add a few drops of the chili sauce and squeeze lime over pizza. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stumptown

Last summer while visiting Portland, OR for the first time, I went to Stumptown Coffee. If you are ever in the Seattle or Portland area, I highly recommend going! It was one of the best cups of coffee I've ever had. They roast their beans on site all day, every day.

If you aren't in the Northwest, you can also enjoy Stumptown at the Ace Hotel in NYC. I've never been, but I plan to pose as a hipster for a day next time I'm in NY and stay at the Ace Hotel, drink Stumptown coffee, eat at the Breslin Bar and then maybe ride away on my fixie to a Speakeasy bar. Sounds like I'm joking but I'm not, that would be my dream NYC night! OK, maybe not the fixie part.
I ordered a bag of Stumptown - Hairbender for my boyfriend for his birthday. A little pricey for every day coffee if you don't live close enough to walk there ($15 for a 12 oz bag plus shipping) but a nice birthday treat! Anyway, the reason I was thinking about coffee and posted...today was the last of it.

I can't post about coffee without at least mentioning my trip to a coffee plantation in Brazil a few years ago. One of the best days of my life! It was about an hour outside of Sao Paulo and cost about a weeks' salary, but well worth it!

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