Thursday, April 30, 2009


It's late and my head feels about like an egg someone just smacked against the edge of the counter top. But! I have not posted in a few days and I was in danger of being kept awake all night by the weighty guilt that this saddles me with. Dear people... I am dedicated to trying to entertain you in my weak, silly ways. Thank goodness I have an entertaining assistant who usually puts on a good show regardless of what I am doing on the sidelines...

How can you not be charmed by a big toothy grin packed with sand and dirt?

What can I tell you about the past few days? Ummmmmm. Ahhhhhhhh... we have been doing a lot of eating, sleeping, walking and talking... with some work sandwiched in there every so often. Billy is painting like mad actually. He is trying to get ahead, stocked up if you will... before we leave to go down to Carmel for the big art competition he is participating in mid May. I have been working on listing new vintage in my etsy shop. Rudy has been working on mastering the art of being annoying. Oh! he is almost there. Almost perfect.

We took him down to the beach today to peel off the layers of piss and vinegar that he adorns himself with. It is amazing how much it takes to tire this little bugger out. He digs, he runs, he swims, he chases.... he can't be stopped. When things get out of hand (which they often do) Billy has to pull him aside for a little one on one man talk. Although it never seems to do much good.

Note the fine stick throwing form on Bill McLane here....

Rudy still has a few problems with the retrieving part of the fetch game. After he gets the stick he usually just runs willy nilly all over the beach with it instead of bring it back. Oh well... as long as he is having a good time...

I am off to la la land. Hope the rest of your week is a huge success in whatever you are endeavoring to achieve right now. Cheers people!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Stinky Self Promo

Let me just start this post by letting you all know that just now... 30 seconds ago.... Rudy emerged from his crate (his totally enclosed bed where he sleeps under the kitchen table) and FARTED and then went directly back into his house. Amazing. Dogs are amazing.

Anyway... I am not sure if I have any readers who give a flyin' hooty about vintage clothing but I thought I would shamelessly remind y'all that I have a pretty darned smart little shop over on Etsy.

If you see something you love but don't love the price convo me and we can wheel and deal.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A loaf for YOU and a loaf for ME

The bread baking goes on. Today was the big day Billy used his wild yeast starter for the first time. He made two loaves... they are both a 5 grain sour dough base and one has roasted garlic and fresh rosemary added, the other blue cheese and walnuts. We cracked into the garlic loaf to eat with our home made split pea soup for lunch today and it was pretty fabulous. The sour dough starter will develop more flavor as the weeks pass but there was a definite hint of the flavor even in this first batch.

On the subject of food, last night we had a dinner worth mentioning. I pulled two recipes off 101 cookbooks and whipped up these salads...

The first is called Sunburst Carrot Salad and is made with shaved carrots, lemon juice, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro. You can find the recipe HERE. The second is a pan-fried chic pea salad. I added in some kidney beans because I was short on chic peas. This is made with a curried yogurt sauce, leeks, lemon zest and red onion. This recipe is HERE. Both salads were really delicious and we will be making them again for sure. The carrot salad was really pretty so it would be fun to serve at a dinner party or picnic if you want visual impact along with unusual flavors.

In other news I have gotten nothing done today. It's cold and windy outside which is keeping me from going out and working on any projects that I have going. The wind keeps me from photographing vintage and the cold keeps me from sanding wood for my photo block project. We did take Rudy for a walk over to the day use area of the park. It's really sunny so these pics are deceiving. You would think it was 70 degrees outside.

I am bundled up like The Michelin Man with about 4 layers of shirts and sweaters under my overalls.

Is it just me or are Billy and Rudy starting to look alike? Maybe it's the beards...

At the end of the road we live on there are a bunch of huge eucalyptus trees. The leaves are a really lovely red hue and they smell fantastic. I gathered up a bunch on our walk home to make a little Andy Goldsworthy tribute out in the yard. I did not put a whole lot of effort in to it because the wind was ruffling my feathers the whole time. Maybe I will try again on a more calm day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wild and Sour Part TWO

Okay. SO a week or so ago I posted about Billy and his fancy little loaf of Russian Black Bread. Well people, that was only the humble beginnings of a newly formed bread baking obsession that has taken possession of Billy's brain. We bought a bread baking book by Peter Reinhart called "Whole Grain Breads, New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavors." This is a great book for people who are willing to get serious about baking some bread. It goes in to great detail about how producing a really good whole grain bread is a totally different process than making most other types of breads. Billy sat down with the book the first night and read about the first 100 pages and the next day he began the steps to produce our own wild yeast starter or "mother." Many of you may not know that you can actually catch wild yeast right out of the air. What do you do with it once you have it? You feed it and fuss with it and eventually it becomes the base for your dough for baking. It is widely known that San Francisco has a really unique species of yeast that makes their sour dough bread so spectacular and unique in flavor. Well... we are hoping that much like other bay area residents maybe some of it will wander up here on vacation and we can take it hostage and turn it into a loaf of 9 grain sour dough.

A couple of nights ago Billy baked three loaves... small, medium and large in size using one of the techniques in the Reinhart book where you make a "soaker" with your grains 24 hours in advance to cultivate the flavors in the grains to make a better tasting loaf of bread. The bread turned out amazingly good and very pretty! Billy made Rudy his own wee little loaf to eat. It was hysterical. The medium sized loaf had a swirl of fresh chopped herbs and smoked gouda inside as well as poppy seeds crusted on the outside and the large loaf was just straight stone ground whole wheat.

Pretty fancy eh? We devoured the herb bread that night while Rudy ate his little loaf of whole wheat. The next morning I drove in to town before breakfast to get a worthy jar of jam to eat on our loaf of whole wheat. I grabbed a locally made Whole Blueberry Jam from Carol Hall's Jelly Company and we dove in.

Let me just throw in a shout out to Carol Hall for making some damn good jam.

This weekend we have big plans to make three new breads possibly using Billy's "mother starter" which is coming along quite nicely. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that along with our bread I made a batch of home made vegan cashew cheese. Ohhh... stop your gagging! It really turned out great. If I ever find the recipe online I will post a link to it... it is in the current issue of Vegetarian Times magazine for anyone interested. I forgot to snap a pic of it but it turned out tasting like a lemony, nutty goat cheese. It's made from nothing but cashews, lemon juice, tahini, canola oil, salt and pepper. The process is a bit of a situation to contend with but it was worth it in the end.

Yesterday afternoon we walked Rudy down to Russian Gulch Beach and hung out for a few hours. Here's a few pics...

Billy and Rudy having high times playing with a stray piece of seaweed. That is not a giant slug sitting up on the bridge it is the seaweed flying through the air...

A more serious, reflective moment...

And then back to good times and rough housing!

The fog was rolling back in just as we were leaving. You have to cross the little river that flows through the beach to get on or off of the beach at Russian Gulch. Here I am making the crossing...

We spotted a family of Canada Geese on the river. Ohhhh those chics are soooo cute!

We continue to be blown away by the vast array of plants that are blooming in the woods here. Every single time we go for a walk we find something new. Here are yesterdays additions to the scene...

I think this last one is called Monkey Pod but the first two are still a mystery. We are off to work for the afternoon! Have a great day peeps!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wild and Sour and Possibly Dangerous?

Well. Let's start this post out by saying that it is early. I have had no coffee. I had one of the those weirdly awful nights last night where you lay down, close your eyes and then it seems as though two seconds later you open them and it is light outside and time to get up. Wha? Huh? Where did the 8 hours of sleep GO? So I am slightly off this morning... even more so than usual. If I had an aura and if you were one of those kooky people who thinks they can see auras... mine right now would be a sickly green mist punctuated with big purple question marks.

Anyway! Now that we had established my current foggy mental status what's all this about dangerous sour stuff? Well there are two parts to this story. The first took place in the woods at Van Damme State Park on Sunday afternoon. This was where Billy and I went for our Sunday Special. We had to leave Rudy at home because it's a no dogs allowed trail. So he stayed behind with his sumo partner Ranger and hung out in the yard.

This was our first hike at Van Damme and let me tell ya people, it did not disappoint. We did the fern canyon loop and as far as I can tell the ferns are doing a great job. They are keeping that canyon in top condition for us gawkers who pass through....

I mean really! Not only do they put on a great show as a group but their individual style is really something quite stunning as well...

So... as we are walking the trail we are discovering all the different flower and plant species that thrive in the redwood forest here. I have been studying a bit about what is what and in particular have been interested in wild edible plants. Well there is one plant that is prolific in these woods, unmistakable and totally edible. It's woodland sorrel. Woodland sorrel is basically clover. It is big pretty clover shaped leaves and delicate little violet flowers like this...

As we are walking along there is pretty much a carpet of this stuff along either side of the trail so this is how it plays out.....

me: "I want to try the sorrel... do you?"

Billy: "Sure, pick me a good one."

So I creep a little ways off the trail and pick two big huge perfect looking clover.

Billy: "You are SURE that this stuff is ok to eat?"

me: "Yes! Of course... it is totally good for you, it's considered a medicinal plant, a good stomach tonic."

So we both pop the sorrel into our mouths. What happened next was a wild explosion and rush of the most powerfully sour juice that caused both of us to immediately start spitting the sorrel out. Billy was choking out something about "POISON!" While I was still just trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my tongue had just shriveled up to a third of it's original size. We swished water in our mouths and spit it out and had a very confused discussion about how the Hell can something so small contain SO MUCH juice inside of it?

I was still positive that it was a rock solid edible plant but as we continued our walk and the sour taste in mouth sort of increased over time instead of going away... and I started to imagine that I felt a little queasy, dizzy? I was not so sure anymore. Billy thought it was an "In to the Wild" situation that was developing and that a tourist couple from Germany would find our partially decomposed bodies in the woods weeks from now.

A few hours later we made it home alive and I raced in to jump on google to get the answers to our burning questions. Indeed! I was right about the plant.... it is safe and edible although why the Hell anyone would want to eat it is beyond me. There was talk of it being a great addition to salads or to make a tea out of it. Dude... if you made a tea out of it I suggest it would be a great torture method to make someone drink it. Or it could be a new punishment for a child with a potty mouth. Forget the old soap technique... give them some sorrel tea. They will never mumble a curse word again.

For now my zest for edible plants is tucked back into the back of the closet. I will stick with spinach and carrots and things that are so completely in your grocery store salad that there is no worry what-so-ever.

I meant to carry on here and tell you phase two of the wild and sour story but my time for writing this morning has run out. We have to head in to work for the day. You will have to wait. Ooohhhhh I am sure the suspense will be killing you all day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In Communist Russia Bread Bakes YOU!

Behold Billy... the proud father of a brand new wee loaf of Russian style black bread. This is the first time he has ever made bread from scratch. The little loaf came out of the oven at like ten o'clock last night and we promptly devoured half of it before it even had a chance to see the light of day. And of course now that it has seen the light of day... it's a goner. It was really, really good heavy bread made with molasses, coffee, cocoa powder, 9 grains and rye and wheat flour. The recipe came out of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Cookbook. It is an awesome resource book. And of course please note that Billy is wearing his "Communist Party" t-shirt for the complete Iron Curtain baking experience.

Yesterday was one of those days that we spent fiddling around in the kitchen for most of the day. I was craving fresh and crunchy at dinner time so I created a variation on a salad we had tried while visiting with my parents. The original recipe came out of The Veganomicon (another favorite)and was a raw beet and parsnip salad in a pineapple vinaigrette. Last night I made it a bit more complicated using chopped raw beets, jicama, celery, carrots and fennel. I also added in roughly chopped almonds. I made the dressing from pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, kosher sea salt and one clove of fresh garlic shaved on a microplane grater. You toss chopped fresh mint into the salad at the end of prep and holy crap is it good. We paired it with a single baked falafel patty and a simple corn tortilla quesadilla with nothing but good provolone inside.

And finally.... do you like pickles? Pickled stuff? Weird pickled stuff? Because last night I made these.....

What the Hell is that right? It's a Ball jar filled with pickled grapes with cinnamon and black pepper. I got this recipe off Smitten Kitchen (as usual.) I grew up eating pickled stuff out of my Grandma's garden so when I saw this I had to try it. They were super easy to make and wow are they bizarre to eat! As Deb on Smitten suggested they are awesome with a cheese course. If you click over to Deb's site her pics are much better than mine and you can see more so what you are dealin' with.

I will leave you with a few shots from our sunset walk here at Russian Gulch from last night. We have an Indian Paintbrush flower which is native only to the Mendocino coast line which I am in love with...

They are really flourishing out on the headlands in the park right now and they are so visually striking against the spring greens. Another brilliant, gorgeous one is the Scotch Broom....

Hmmmm... but if flowers are not your thing maybe I could satisfy you with a little doggie style Sumo wrestling match?

The above scene caused me to get yelled at by a park ranger. She was trying to drive through and they refused to leave off fighting in the middle of the road where they are technically not supposed to be off lead for obvious reasons. Rudy has some work to do if he wants to catch up with Ranger's totally legit Sumo belly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dinner Theatre

One Night Only...
Liza Minnelli Inspired Airstream Cabaret Pizza Party

BYOB and Bring your own Sequined Clothing also please...

Okay....... put down the tuxedo jacket and sequined hot pants, I am only kidding. I just listed this 1930's hat in my Etsy shop and the photo was just too much. I nearly peed my pants laughing when I sorted through all the photos (a few of them are beyond ridiculous) to eventually land on this one. Billy was the photographer. I need you to imagine Billy and I out in the Russian Gulch State Park maintenance yard with me in sequins, red lip gloss and this hat. I am also wearing my big old dirty brown Crocs on my feet. It's a real possibility that this is a first for this particular neck of the woods. If I actually knew any Liza Minneli songs I could go downtown and try to make some tips on the street corner this afternoon. Or I could get rotten fruit thrown at my head eventually leading to the ruin of the lovely hat.

In hat reality I am actually wearing this particular one totally wrong. It is meant to be worn on the top-back of your a little skull cap. But the latent Broadway Diva in me forced it to the front of my head at a sassy angle. Go figure.

On to the pizza part of the story. Billy and I made a really fantabulous homemade pizza (crust from scratch) the other night. I just wanted to put the idea out there for you that homemade pizza is sooo much better than delivery and it is not at all hard to make! Billy made the crust which was simple enough task if you can devote the time to it. You have to let the dough rise for at least two hours after you first form it. The ingredients list is simple...

3 cups all purpose or bread flour (plus more for kneading)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

The easiest way to whip up the dough is in a food processor but Billy just did it by hand. Combine half the flour with the salt and yeast and stir to blend. Add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour a bit at a time; when the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little four as possible - just enough to keep the dough from being a sticky mess. Knead until smooth but still quite moist, about 10 minutes. Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 to 8 hours.

Finally you just pull the dough and punch it down and stretch it, let it rest for about twenty minutes and then roll it out on your pizza stone or baking sheet and form the crust into the desired shape. We kept our toppings simple.... red sauce, caramelized onions, sauteed arugula, portobello mushrooms, garlic, asiago and mozzarella cheese, thin slices of tomato on top and then fresh basil when it came out of the oven. My biggest tip is this (learned from my Mom who makes kick ass pizza) always cook your toppings individually. By this I mean cook the mushrooms and garlic together then take them out of the pan and do the onions alone, then if you are adding peppers cook them separately etc. Doing this helps each veggie maintain it's own unique flavor, everything does not end up tasting the same. Make sure you cook all the water out of the veggies too or you will end up with a soggy pie.

The desired oven temp is about 500 degrees. Our oven does not get that hot so we just turn it all the way up and let it get as hot as it can get before popping the pizza in for about 12 to 14 minutes. Start watching it at around 10 minutes just to make sure you do not burn the living crap out of it.

Here's our finished pizza...

Not too shabby eh? I am tellin' ya kids it was deeeeelish! Go the extra mile and grab fresh herbs to throw on top at the end and you will not be sorry. They really make a huge difference. Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Bloomin' Explosion

So we made it out to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens today and walked the 47 acre gardens in spite of the ceaseless, wild wind that whips our hair and freezes us to the core on a daily basis here on the North Coast. It's like the weather is really bitchy out here ya know? It just keeps needling you and being a real jerk most days. Hopefully it wears itself out soon and takes a freakin' rest. We all could use a day or two of calm.

Anyway... The gardens were pretty great. Not everything is in bloom of course but the rhododendrons did not let us down and their vegetable gardens were super cool to walk through.

Their little garden shed is cute enough to inspire me to sneak out there and become a squatter living in it like a gnome.

Around the edge of the veggie garden area they have a model train set up (outside.) It's a bit confusing to see it at this moment because it seems to be in transition... or just being built perhaps? Hard to say... But there were some funny little characters set up throughout the scene and I shot some odd images of them as we passed by.

I particularly love this last image above because... What? It's a guy in a Lazy Boy holding a beverage with a cigar in his mouth perched on the front porch of a dilapidated old church in his underwear. He is also clicking a remote at nothing.... at wood chips. It's like a post apocalyptic commercial for The Church of Homer Simpson or perhaps The Church of Crazy.