Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Late Day List

Hey there. I hope none of my friendly readers were injured in a shopping mash up today. Some crazy stuff went on out in the streets of the USA. It's ever so confusing to me why and how people get so electrified by the concept of a big sale at a department store or a toy store or ANY store that it is worth getting out of bed before the sun rises and then kicking some lady in the shin to grab the latest gizmo out from under her sweaty grip. I mean... I won't say that I have not acted a bitch at a yard sale or two in my day but come one people. Things have gone off the wonky deep end when we are trampling each other at Walmart because of a sale. Recovery from such behavior may not even be possible. What's next? Cracking the barista at Starbucks upside the head with a blunt instrument for not leaving enough "room" in your "Venti" coffee? Or is that already happening and is a newly accepted form of social behavior that I just don't know about? Could be.

With all that said... here are the first few sites I would like to throw out there as really legit and meaningful alternatives to spending your hard earned dollars on items of planned obsolescence of future landfill fodder.

The International Rescue Committee

"Founded in 1933, the IRC is a global leader in emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection of human rights, post-conflict development, resettlement services and advocacy for those uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression."



Oxfam America banner

"Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Together with individuals and local groups in more than 120 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. We are an affiliate of Oxfam International."

Go to
Oxfam Unwrapped for great gift options!!!



"Seva Foundation started as a small group with a big idea, and the idea was this: To be fully human, we must translate our compassion and concern into useful service.

That simple statement conveys something about the nature of compassion that is expressed in most spiritual traditions around the world — that compassion is not just about helping those less fortunate than ourselves, it's about the realization that we are all connected as one human family.

That sense of compassionate service motivates all of Seva's work, as we build programs that support people around the world in their efforts to build healthy communities.


All three of these charitable organizations rate highly at Charity Navigator so you can donate with knowledge that you are not paying for a new Prada bag for the CEO to carry on her private jet.

I am going to do a few posts with links to some of my favorite ETSY sellers this weekend too. Buy handmade! ETSY has such an amazing array of goods that I bet you could do all your holiday shopping on the site without ever setting foot in a big box store the whole month of December or beyond.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Hi folks! I hope everyone had a nice cozy holiday. We sure did. I pretty much spent the entire day cooking. I had not planned on spending so many hours in the kitchen but the frangipane tart I made for dessert was a really time consuming project. I should have made at least the tart crust yesterday. Lesson learned. Anyway... we had one of the best Thanksgiving dinners we have ever made. I am so glad we deviated from the old stand by menu. I am so over the rubbery old Tofurkey thing.

People... as soon as you can stand the idea of sweet potatoes hitting your palate again hurry and make THESE. They were seriously good shit. My tempeh turned out better than any I have ever made before too. I think the different was in the fact that I marinated it for like three hours then baked it for about 45 minutes in a stoneware dish. It was fabulous.

I snapped just a few quick and messy pics before we sat down to eat. I was so freaking hungry that I did not have it in me to do any better than these...

I have to give cute plate credit to my neighbor Ann... the biscuit plate in the above photo is hers. She delivered it to us yesterday full of freshly baked cupcakes and cookies and after we demolished those (Ann is a seriously amazing baker) I secretly used her plate for my biscuits tonight. The plate will go back to her in the morning with a slab of my tart riding on it in thanks.

I am happy to say that almost half of our dinner ingredients were locally grown. See those toasted nuts on the sweet potatoes up above? Local! So was the chard, the chives, and the green beans. The pecans I made the tart out of were so fresh they were just wonderful. So... on to the tart!

I have to admit this was one of the hardest things I have ever made... mostly because I do not own any of the recommended equipment such as food processors etc to make the thing. And more so because I have crust phobia. I am always fatalistic about crust. Crust in my family is no small thing. Crust matters. Your ability to make kick ass crust is a large part of whether or not you get to keep your star hanging on the family tree. You could tie my Grandma's hands behind her back, squeeze lemon juice in both of her eyes and light her pants on fire and she could still kick out a pie crust that would bring tears to your eyes with it's flaky goodness. So, that being said I have developed a bit of a crust centered fear factor. I may have conquered it (at least on a low level) today with this confection though! It turned out just fine. Delicious even. I felt that I was keeping the torch lit for the women of my family.

I had promised to do a listing of alternative gift ideas for this Christmas in this posting. It is gonna have to wait until tomorrow. I am too tuckered out to think that hard tonight. It's time to slide in to some pj's and lay like a fat old sea lion on the bed. I will post the gift links tomorrow afternoon for sure.

Good night y'all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Tide is High

Apparently the tide has come in as far as my posting on this blog is concerned. It was out.... waaaay out for quite awhile there but now it seems to have come in. I have been seized by a need to share with you every meal we make and eat. I guess it inspires us to cook our asses off and achieve fabulous results because if you are going to take a picture of it to show to everyone it had best look edible.

I am off work again today and since it is raining we are just laying low at home for the whole day. When I say it is "raining" I should elaborate and say that it is drizzling an annoying, weak piddly rain. I wish it would RAIN. I have yet to see it happen here in California. If I am going to be trapped indoors for the day I should at least benefit from the sound of rain falling heavily on the roof of the trailer. I will say that with every tiny dose of rainfall we get things are greening up out here. Here is the view out my back bedroom window. The first thing your eyes will meet with is a huge hideous telephone pole and wires but if you look beyond that you will see our little section of the valley. Earthbound Farms is down there as is a ranch with a huge horse corral. It's a really pretty view if you can get around the pole.

Let's get to the food. This morning Billy made a fritata in his new cast iron skillet with artichoke hearts, caper berries, red pepper, spinach and ricotta cheese. We ate it with some really crusty sourdough bread and it was delicious.

There is something so wonderful about any food that you have browned under the broiler. I think burnt edges are one of the joys of eating. My Dad is crazy for stuff that is burned up. Maybe I got it from him. When I was a kid and my Mom was cooking something like a lasagna it would always stay in the oven until the edges were good and burned up. Once you have gnawed on chewy, cheesy lasagna edges you can never go back. Or maybe you can... all I know is that I cannot. The only problem with this is the additional waiting time for stuff to come out of the oven. It's the 5 more minutes factor. It's torture.

Billy is working on a new painting and I thought I would give you a peek at the beginning phase of his work. This is a view of the tonal under painting. After this dries he will go back to it and start applying the color. Using this style of under painting helps achieve proper color value and gives nice contrast and light in the finished piece.

I will try to remember to post a photo of the finished painting. I am off to crawl into bed with a book. I think I am going to reread 100 Years of Solitude. It is one of my favorite books I have ever read but it has been a good 8 or 9 years since I read it. It deserves another go because I know that I will discover things reading it again that I missed the first time around. I just finished up with Jim Harrison's latest titled The English Major. It was great. I love his writing. I can enthusiastically recommend picking up pretty much anything he has written. You will not be disappointed especially if you love the outdoors, food, sex and simple living without a lot of bullshit trimmings. He presents a lot of woodsy, old school characters who are faced with dilemmas based on the insanity of modern life. It seems to me that he lives for fishing, big home cooked meals, good wine, good books and women. He also loves dogs, bear and birds. Nothin' wrong with any of that.

My next post will be a listing of my favorite charities and alternative Christmas gift ideas. With Black Friday looming right around the corner maybe I will inspire you to stay home this Friday and send a little of your money off to Oxfam or the IRC instead of to Best Buy or Macy's!

Butter Anyone?

Today was my day off and we had a fun day of walking the beach with Rudy, going to the Pacific Grove farmer's market, shopping for Thanksgiving day dinner fixings at Whole Foods and then coming home to have dinner and bake.

The farmer's market was great. We got fresh, local strawberries, grapes, rainbow chard, persimmons, green zebra tomatoes and tons of nuts like hazelnuts, pistachios and pecans. I am thrilled to still be able to get fresh picked organic produce in November. Hallelujah California!

We put together our menu for Thanksgiving. This year we tried to do something a little different. We are both totally over the Tofurkey thing and decided to skip it completely. Instead are making a tempeh dish for the main course. Our menu plan is as follows...

Maple Grilled Tempeh with Mushrooms, Green Beans and Quinoa

Baked Coconut Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Garlic and Mushroom Broth
Buttermilk Biscuits with Black Pepper, Sea Salt and Green Onions
Cranberry Pecan Frangipane Tart

I have linked to all the recipes above and you can see them by clicking on each line. The chard recipe resides inside my own head so I cannot link to it.

Tonight I christened my new tart pan by making a honey, lavender and sea salt shortbread in it. Can you say BUTTER? Jesus. I ate two smallish slices of it and I now feel like I may throw up a clod of lard the size of a football. Don't get me wrong... it was really, really good. It's just super rich. The recipe is simple... it's just sugar, flour and butter, lots and lots of butter. When it comes out of the oven you brush the top with honey, sprinkle on sea salt and lavender buds and pop it back in to the oven for three more minutes. Here are a few images to get your heart racing...

While your heart is racing ours are clogging and churning from having eaten this stuff. It's ridiculous to even being eating things like this but hey... what can I say?

Today I stopped in at Diggity Dog which is a shop where you can spend thousands of dollars on dog toys, dog clothes and dog treats. It's a store for crazy people. So in I went. The result was the purchase of a toy which I have been longing to buy for Rudy for months. He destroys any kind of plush toy we give him in minutes so it is really hard to find something that will last for awhile. I think this one may do the trick, plus it's super dumb looking which is always an added bonus. It has triple thick, quadruple stitched layers and is stiff as a board. Cross your fingers for me that he does not eat it up and spit it out any time soon.

I also bought him a red and green plaid Christmas collar with huge jingle bells on it. Yes. Like I told you... the store is for crazy people. Stupid people who are also crazy, like me. Anyway... it will be fun to make him wear it around town for the next month. We had to pimp his holiday style.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Moroccan Night

Apparently for the time being this is going to morph into a food blog. I used to do posts about MY cooking ages ago but now we are talking about Billy's skills in the kitchen. I am not much for following recipes. I usually fly by the seat of my pants and make stuff up. Sometimes it turns out great and sometimes it does not. I love to cook but I have too much of a distracted, scatter brain to do the recipe thing very often. Billy on the other hand is not a distracted scatter brain by any stretch of the imagination. He is a calm, collected, focused brain. A rare gem in this world. Anyway... let us move on from talk of brains and get to the edibles. Tonight Chef Mclane whipped up a chick pea tagine found in this past months Vegetarian Times magazine. He added a fresh minted yogurt sauce and let me tell ya it was mighty fine. You may be asking yourself "What the Hell is a tagine?" Tagines are cooking vessels commonly used in North African countries like Morocco and Algeria. It consists of two pieces - a plate like bottom and a conical shaped lid. The bottom doubles as a serving dish, which comes in handy for nomads (like us.) Heat is retained for hours in a tagine, which is used on the stovetop in kitchens. Too bad we don't actually own a real tagine. They are pretty cool looking and some can be really ornate, like this one...

You can easily complete tagine recipes on the stove top without using an actual vessel. Which is what Billy did. We had a dessert tonight of broiled grapefruit with honey, vanilla and cardamom. It was my fist ever hot grapefruit experience. It was quite good... being all at once sweet, sour and pungent with the addition of the cardamom spice. Here's a pic...

Yes... I know that it looks like a burnt grapefruit. But trust me... it was so much more than that.

We have started to develop an addiction to the store Sur La Table which there is a retail shop for in downtown Carmel. I convince myself that I need all kinds of stuff while in there. Like this fabulous copper fleur de lis cookie cutter.

Or this cast iron $119 Le Creuset skillet that weighs so much you can barely lift it. This thing will still be around when all of us are dead and gone. We have refrained from buying too much so far but we do go in there regularly and drool over the goods and the cooking possibilities they would afford us.

I did grab this cute notepad for Billy while I was poking around at Anthropologie last night. It is a weekly menu planner. He can jot down his grocery list on the back of it for when we do our shopping. It has a magnet on the back so you can stick it on your fridge door. Fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chef McLane

People.... that which you see above is what I dined on this evening. Homemade, from scratch, sweet potato gnocchi in a brown butter sauce with flash fried fresh sage leaves. The salad was arugula, spinach pomegranate seeds and candied walnuts. Talk about good eatin'! Billy has been rocking out in the kitchen for the past few weeks. I have been meaning to post about it and have only just now gotten around to it. Mostly because I have been rolling around like an egg on the bed after dinner with my full stomach every night for three weeks. He has made beet and asparagus sushi, roasted vegetable tostadas, spinach and zucchini soup and a bunch of other fabulous stuff. I am getting spoiled rotten. It's heaven.

Today ended my three days in a row off work. I went for a hair cut, here are the results (don't expect to be blown away because my hair cuts are always boring).......

After the cut we all three went down to Carmel Beach. It was a really pretty, foggy afternoon. Quite a change from the past few 80 degree days. It was straight up cold. But I like days like this and Carmel dishes out a lot of them. We sat on the sand, drank coffee and watched the waves crashing while Rudy did his usual stuff like peeing on seaweed, eating seaweed, running with seaweed and digging holes.

Here is a shot of Chef McLane enjoying his java....

How funny is that? It's like an ad for coffee. He is really selling it. Coffee is delicious and makes you happy. Billy is living proof.

So, I can't believe that it is almost "holiday time." I really can't seem to get with the idea of it. Every time I see a Christmas decoration up somewhere I think... "What the Hell is that doing there?" I am still in pumpkin mode. I could pretty happily stay in pumpkin mode year round I think. Anyway... we are not traveling to be with family this year for either Thanksgiving or Christmas so it will be pretty low key here for us. I am hoping that we can do something goofy on Christmas Day like go to Big Sur and watch sea otters or climb a (small) mountain or something. We are trying to plan our T Day dinner which of course is fully vegetarian. We have been trying not to eat so much soy based stuff so I think we may bust out and make this mushroom, faro phyllo dough, strata, pie thingamabobber we found in a Gourmet magazine to replace the tofu turkey. It looks like it will be nearly impossible to make but what the hey... if you are going to spend an entire day focused on one meal as an event you may as well go for it on every level.

I have been trying to find time to get my Etsy shop updated and get new stuff listed. My efforts have produced one, yes one, new listing which is a vintage Gianni Versace dress fom the 80's. It has shoulders pads big enough to scare Paul Bunyon off the dance floor. Hmmm. I am pretty sure I am the only person to have ever typed that particular sentence. And I may also be the only person who has ever ignited the visual of Paul Bunyon on a dance floor in to anyone's mind. I am sure that Mr. Bunyon would have enjoyed this fuschia pink mini dress and would have gladly purchased it for his gal to wear on a hot date on Saturday night in the Northern woodlands where he and she resided. Yes. I will end with that.

In closing here is a shot of Rudy and I chillin' under one of the beautiful cypress trees on the beach here in Carmel. Have a great Wednesday folks.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I am headed to bed but thought I would throw a few photos from our past few days down on Carmel Beach up here for everyone to see. We have had a fabulous weekend of close to 80 degree weather and I was off work both Friday and today so we hit the beach for some sun and to let the canine run free. There were more dogs on the beach today than I have ever seen down there. It was insane with dogs. I thought Rudy would come unglued but oddly enough he stayed by our side for the most part and was pretty mellow. I think most all of the dogs out there were getting their minds blown by the sheer number of living beings moving about on the sand. Rudy did pair up with a few fellow pooches to peel out on the shore though.... here are the best shots.

That basset hound is so goofy looking I can barely even stand it. I love him. I mean this in the best possible way... that is a face that truly says "DUHHHH." And look at the size of his feet! WTH?

My sympathy goes out to all of you who are hunkering down in to winter weather as I write this. I am sure that the party will be over for us here soon as well. No snow of course.... but cold, wet, windy weather is well on it's way.

Off to bed!

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Suck

Yeah. How long has it been since I posted? The real question is more like this... "How long has it been since I have experienced anything worth posting?" And the answer would be... An eternity my friends, an eternity.

What news? Oh! I work at a job.... in an art gallery, in Carmel by the Sea, CA. Suddenly and from out of nowhere this is what I am doing!? It has been quite an adjustment in a variety of ways. Let me list these ways off to you now...

1. I have to get up with an alarm clock at 7:30 a.m. (this is the stuff of nightmares)
2. I have to get dressed in clean clothes and put on mascara and lip stick and whatnot
3. I have to actually GO to said job and be present for an 8 hour shift!
4. Having a job costs money... you have to feed yourself away from home and buy tights to wear under skirts and stuff
5. This leaves Billy and Rudy home alone for 9 hours out of the day and that is a dangerous amount of time for them to be left alone
6. There is a chocolate shop next door to my gallery
7. There is an Anthropologie store less than two blocks away from my gallery
8. I am sure there are more things to say but I am too tired thinking about having to get up tomorrow for my job

So there you have it. And let me tell you... I may sound like I am complainin' (and I most certainly am) but I am glad to have this gig. It's payin' for some real important stuff for us right now... stuff like air to breath and water to drink.... and Rudy's brain surgery. And sooner or later a haircut for Billy. So it's all good people. Really.

Also... you should know that I am sort of two timing on Billy right now. I kind of have a new man in my life and his name is Wrecks. He lives next door. I go over there sometimes at night and make out with him on the sofa. Here is a photo I took of him on our date the other night...

Billy really does not seem to mind. He is not the jealous type. So it's cool. Rudy does have an issue with it though since Wrecks is his friend and I think he is sort of embarrassed by the whole thing. I think he is still depressed because his girlfriend recently moved away. Her name is Cheyenne and she was his favorite lady. Truly.

Cheyenne moved up to Oregon. We hope she likes it up there and finds a new buddy to hang out with who is as much fun as Rudy. If you call someone chewing and hanging off your ear fun that is.

OK! Time to go crawl into bed with my new Jim Harrison book and read until the cows come home.