Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soul food

Look. Let's have a talk. We're all on hard times right now, but it doesn't mean you have to be a dick about it. I believe that if you send out good vibes, good things will come back to you. It's not a zen thing or a religious thing, it's just...a positivity thing. Some people are haters or just plain old mean, but I think it comes back to you in the end.

So I thought I'd try to spread a little happiness. I boxed up a few sweets and sent them out into the world. Some to people who have been very supportive of me and some to people that I barely know at all. Hopefully it will make people happy and inspire them to spread the happiness to others.

I also made up this card to go with the boxes:

It's about "Feeding Your Soul", like Pay it Forward but minus Kaiser Sosay. It's worth a shot. I know could use a little more happiness in my life, and sending some out to others feels pretty good.

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I can't stand it, I know you planned it, I'm gonna set it straight this Watergate

Anyone who is a fan of citrus is usually very particular about lemon bars. The crust can't be too soggy. The filling can't be too sweet. It has to have just the right, well - everything.

I am pretty happy with the lemon bar recipe that I have, but something made me want to do something different. So I topped it with sugar and bruleed it. It was amazing. A nice slight crunch to the top, really complimented the filling.

As usual instead of eating the whole pan, I portioned it out and gave it away in baking boxes. After I gave a box to my mother she informed me that her office is going on a competition diet (whoever loses the most weight wins) but she'd bring them in to work anyway. Seems to me she's just sabotaging. Fattening up the other people doesn't make you win by default just because others are gaining weight...then again, that's a brilliant plan.

Bruleed Lemon Bars recipe.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

It's true, it's actual, everything is satisfactual.

I have been wanting to go to Bluebird Cafe in Culver City for YEARS. But their hours used to be short and only on the weekdays. Now all that's changed AND I am free in during the week, so.

The food is great, but the best deal is a hamburger, fries, salad - some amazing iced tea - AND...are you ready for this? A cupcake! All for $10. That's a good deal, especially since it's a gourmet burger on brioche and the whole meal is the size of your head. And I've got a giant head. The meal is so substantial you could get two meals out of it, not that I did of course, I ate as much as I could because it was so delicious.The turkey burger was moist and flavorful, the fries were crisp and yes, under all that, there is an entire salad. The cupcake was darn good too, I have friends that swear that Bluebird Cupcakes are some of the best in the city, and I was not disappointed. The chocolate was fantastic.

The outdoor setting is beautiful on a nice spring day, and considering that we've been having sunny weather in the high 70s, it's perfect. I will definitely be coming back to this place, mostly because...Surfas is right up the street!! Of course I stopped there after lunch, with my xmas gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. Dig these awesome new cupcake tulip papers that I got, as well as a pack of 600 brown cupcake liners. Yeah, I've got a lot of baking ahead of me...

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

To get to the other side.

In our last episode of Chicken 2 Ways I used a roast chicken for two meals. This time around, I made buttermilk oven fried chicken. Let's get this straight, I love me some regular old fried chicken...when someone else is doing the frying. I hate the popping oil, the stinky way it smells up the house. All that jazz. I won't pass up making fried chicken, I just need the time to warm up to the idea.

So I usually just go for oven fried when it comes to serving the kids. I care more about their health than my own anyway. This buttermilk fried chicken makes a great meal any day of the week, but two kids don't eat that much, so there are plenty of leftovers.

This time around I chopped up the leftover chicken, and tossed with my regular old pasta salad recipe. It was fabulous and tasty and the kids ate. it. up. What you always hope for.

Chicken 2 Ways should last me forever if I had a food network show. But then I'd have to pimp out my kids like the Deen brothers but dress them up like baby chickens. Sell it boys!
Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken
Pasta salad with chicken

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ship shape

Monday is the last day for the $1 shipping sale! Take advantage now, you know postal rates go up in May right??


Friday, March 27, 2009

It's MONSTER.com. It's singular.

I really liked last night's episode of the Office, it felt like it was going places. I also liked the "I QUIT" story, because who hasn't run that through their heads a million times. Sure the episode was kind of round about, but I think right now they need something fresh, and Michael Scott Paper company is probably it. I can't wait to see where this goes.

I used to go to bed at 10:30 every night. Now that I don't work I got to bed well after midnight. What is the deal with that? Yikes. You'd think I'd learn my lesson since the kids have been waking me up before 6am everyday. ~yawn~ At least now I can catch all the late night shows...at their actual time.

So I got to catch Morrissey on Jimmy Fallon. There's no one I love more than Morrissey. Just thought I'd put that out there. I should probably consider THIS, since I actually listen to his music - um...every.damn.day. I know, I know. But people know this about me- so much so that they CALL me from his concert across the country just so I can hear it. That's what good friends do.

I had the most amazing lunch today. And it came with a free cupcakes. Imagine that.

Two words. Butternut Reduction.

Thanks Babs.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The magical fruit

I'm doing a victory dance. Can you see it? Like if I were in the endzone I'd do The Roger Rabbit, then hold the ball up to Jesus. Which is weird because I'm sure people on the opposing team were asking Jesus for help too, right? What's up with that? Anyway, my victory dance is for something that I've been working on for a long time. Yes, listen close - the Kid likes beans.

Every night when I make the kids dinner I put a veg and fruit with whatever else they are eating. Sometimes they go for it, sometimes they don't. I'm fine with a no if you try it and THEN hate it, (like I hate bean sprouts and yes, I've tried them) but until they truly cannot stand to eat it, it will sit on their plate until they at least give it a go.

So finally the Kid has declared, "Mommy, I like green beans!" The Baby, well - he said, "I don't like them. But I'll eat them." This is not so much a victory, as an insight into his quantitative eating disorder. Still, I'll take what I can get.

Since beans can now become a fixture on the menu, I made some pasta for dinner with salami and green beans. Haricot verts, to be exact. Seems to me those go down easier for the kids. I am trying out more pastas without red sauce. I love red sauce, I do not like cleaning it up. (The Baby, I am looking at you.)

I am of the belief that you should encourage your kids to eat as healthy as possible, even if you - yourself, don't. (Hello, I'd eat Snickers for dinner if I could.) I know plenty of people hate fish, but why not let the kids come to their own conclusions, even if you don't like it. Who knows, they may love it. And even if they don't eat it now, they might appreciate different foods later in life.

Next up, peas! A girl can dream, right?Bowtie Pasta with Salami and green beans, recipe

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dwight: Babies are one of my many areas of expertise. Growing up, I performed my own circumcision.

My very good friend, who loves desserts as much as I do - is having a baby! So once again, I am in full shower planning mode. Much like the shower I threw last year, this is going to be a sweet shower. Think lots of desserts, LOTS. All these trips to bakeries that I've been taking? Research, baby, research. The difference is, this baby is going to be a boy! I'm very excited, although I love girls and I love pink, the chance to change up color schemes is always welcome.

I went with the same concept for the invites, if you remember the pink ones that said, "Guess who's got a bun in the oven..." except I went with a nice bright blue with a touch of red. I think it came off pretty well, and although the concept was the same, it feels like a whole new invitation.Once again, Burger Bites took center stage, and I did all I could to protect them from being squashed in the mail, but who cares, they taste good squashed anyway.

So far I've gotten pretty positive feedback from the guests who got the invite. Maybe they were just on a sugar high, who knows. The color scheme is setting the whole theme for the shower. Plenty more things to do...

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it

Whenever I go on a trip, I make maps. Tons and tons of maps. On it is the name and phone number of the place I am going to, how to get to and from the hotel, and most importantly, the hours. I am a crazy planner. In addition to sightseeing, I also map out every confectionery store in the vicinity that is deemed worthy.

Since this was a family trip, I couldn't exactly commandeer the group and force them to go to a bunch of bakeries...or could I? Instead I was smart. I secretly made the itinerary around the bakeries. "Cable car museum? Sure...guess what, there's a cookie factory down the street..." Me=smart.First, the Ferry Building. The amount of sweet options were numerous. I spent most of my time at Miette. Known for their sweets, they had homemade meringues, macarons and marshmallows just to name a few. Their pastry case was full and I ended up choosing a Caramel Pot de Creme that was out of this world, that I must try and make someday. I also bought two cupcakes for the boys.

The cupcakes were good, moist - the frosting was just ok but the meringue frosting on the chocolate one was HEAVENLY. Yes, and I mean that. I could have eaten a few of these but sadly it was the Baby's and it was hard to wrestle just a bite from him as it was.
One of my main reasons for going to the Ferry Building was to go to Boulette's Larder. They have some of the most amazing cooking prep items and a lovely restaurant. But I was on the hunt for vanilla sea salt for a very special super secret baking project, and I knew they one of the few places that carried it. I could make my own, but I simply don't have the time. At $12/2oz., next time I will think ahead. Yikes.

Since the kids wanted to go to Ghirardelli for ice cream, I got a chance to stop by Kara's Cupcakes. I was impressed by the design, but the actual cupcakes left me flat. The cake was just ok and the frosting was definitely not my speed. Too greasy. But due to their prime location, I'm sure every day is a sellout.Back to Ghirardelli, even though they've gone global, the chocolate here is still superb. Free samples only help business because that day they were giving away their new chocolate peanut butter square. Good lord. It was better than a Reese's cup and I love those things. Since it was chocolate AND peanut butter the Kid was kept far away. The last thing we needed was a hospital visit while on vacation.

Finally, to cap off this dessert tour of San Francisco, my mom was insistent that I find the city's best scones. As a dutiful daughter I set out to accomplish my task, and I definitely found them. Tartine is known for their scones, but they should be known for ALL their baked goods. The pastries are simply amazing. If you don't believe me, ask the 20 people who were standing in line in the freezing cold before it even opened. I wish this place would get a bigger space with more tables, especially since 45 degrees PLUS a wind chill factor does not make for fun eating outdoors, especially with kids.Still, look at this pastry display. Unbelievable. And since there were so many of us we tried EVERYTHING. The croissants were perfect (you know how I am about those), the scones were up to the hype - fantastic. Light, and buttery, not too dry. We also ordered the open face Croque Monsieur, also great but my favorite of all was the morning bun. Sugary and sticky with cinnamon I could eat these everyday, my fat ass be damned. I recommend this place to anyone who goes to San Francisco, but beware, the parking and the seating is god awful. Still, don't be deterred, it's totally worth it.

This is how I travel. Whoever draws the unfortunate short straw of travelling with me is usually forced to come with me on these culinary adventures. I am currently booking foodie tours for 2009. Any takers? Pack your fat pants.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

You're gonna meet some gentle people there

I had been planning a trip to San Francisco for months. The Kid saw some show about cable cars and that was it, he asked to go everyday. The city is close enough that it would be an easy trip, however the day I booked the tickets...I got laid off. Timing.

It was nonrefundable and we had to go through with it. This turned out to be a good thing because the entire family went and it was the best thing to do right after the funeral. One of the key things about booking this trip was that I found a kid-friendly hotel that offered a Kid's Suite!! Three rooms, one of which was decked out just for kids. That was the selling point for me.

I gotta say, it WAS pretty awesome. A bunk bed, which I have been planning to get for the kids, but never tried, their very own computer packed with games, a tv, a chalkboard, baskets of books and toys, kid sized chairs and a super cool animal themed bathroom!!didn't tell you was that is right on the edge of a really bad neighborhood. Now I am quite familiar with bad neighborhoods, but this....this was bad. There were cops and crackheads EVERYWHERE lining the streets.
So the Kid's Suite was as great as they had touted, but what they

One day when we got back from lunch, cops were busting someone right on the front steps of the hotel. Nice.

My reservations also got screwed up, but we won't go into that. Instead, I decided to make the most of the trip. I had to, I had no choice. We were only there a few days, but we met up with family and friends and hit all the tourists attractions.
My main goal was to go to the Ferry Building, which was filled with amazing things for foodies. Fantastic places to eat and the most amazing desserts. Cone of meat, is all I have to say. They had great noodles, and Japanese bentos. Stores dedicated just to cheese and just to mushrooms. It reminded me a lot of Chelsea Market in New York.
We also went to the newly renovated Academy of Sciences. It was truly amazing. There was so much to see and do, I don't think it's possible to get it all done in one day. Inside there is an aquarium, a planetarium and a rain forest. The cafe there had the BEST food, really gourmet and delicious considering it was in a museum.

The kids loved it. The place is floor to ceiling fantastic - even the roof is a learning experience. They also show in depth science experiments where people sit around and...skin animals. I wanted to puke, yay science - but god that's gross.We also did the typical tourist things, ate crab at Boudin Bakery, had ice cream at Ghirardelli, and yes - the Kid got to ride his beloved cable cars. But lordy was it freezing! I mean, cold is one thing, but it's hard to handle wind chill that ferocious. No matter how many layers you have on, you are chilled to the bone.
We also hit Chinatown for the 'best salt and pepper chicken wings ever' and stopped by the famous fortune cookie factory to see the ladies folding them in action. Honestly, they were the best fortune cookies I have ever tasted. Hot. Fresh. Right off the line.

San Francisco is the best eating town - there are so many diverse things to try. And in the end, the hotel turned out to be centrally located for everything that we wanted to do. And? I got used to the crackheads. I'm not saying that's a good thing, I've learned to make the most of a situation. Which is a good thing.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grandpa's funeral.

Gramps got his root beer.
I got my mochi.
It was all good.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

We can live beside the ocean, leave the fire behind, swim out past the breakers, watch the world die

I have been dying to go to Huckleberry Cafe, a recently opened restaurant in Santa Monica, by the owners of Rustic Canyon. All the reviews have been fabulous, save for one thing. The price. As an unemployed foodie, this proves to be a problem.

Luckily my mom, a more than willing accomplice when it comes to fantastic meals, wanted to go and treat! Thank god for moms. Can I get a what what for all the mothers in the house?

The cafe is lovely space next to the Magellan Travel Store and the newly relocated Santa Monica Seafood - which is totally amazing, but more on that later. The space itself severely needs an overhaul in acoustics, but the staff was cheery and the food was fabulous. Everything is really fresh, so much so that we saw a chef go out back and pick the pansies from the flower box to put on the fruit tarts. Er. I was just hoping a dog didn't pee on said pansies during the day. SaMo is a dog town after all. Um. I skipped the fruit tart just in case. They were lovely though!

We went for breakfast. I have a knack for knowing my mother's tastes to a T, so I easily picked out her menu choice - poached eggs on seasonal vegetables. It's a game we play, everywhere we go. I have NEVER been wrong about what she is going to order. How could you go wrong with these gorgeous colors anyway:
I ordered the fried egg sandwich with garlic aioli and smoked bacon, man it was so good I didn't even snap a picture. We also had some croissants - you know I am the #1 aficionado of chocolate croissants, and I am sad to say - you can pass on these. Despite being made with Valrhona chocolate, the croissant was too bready. I also tried a bite of a sugared donut hole which was fantastic. Not to sweet, and in this case, the bread-i-ness of it was just perfect. I will have to recreate these myself.
Down the way we stopped in the new location for SaMo Seafood. this space is big and airy and pheeww was it stinky of fish. But that's a sure sign of freshness, cause these fish were GORGEOUS. The most perfect pieces of seafood you'll find. I know a lot of people have an aversion to seafood, but it's brain food, people! How else can you explain that my 5 year old just recited all 50 states and their capitals to me yesterday? (Even I don't know all of them, I guess I should eat more salmon myself.)

If you get a chance, take a walk down this tiny block of Wilshire. You won't be disappointed. I will be going back, I just need to take out a small loan first.

More pictures, here.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

And if these troubles should vanish like rain at midday, well I've no doubt there'll be more.

I've got troubles. We've all got troubles. But when my friends go through hard times, it pains me even more than my own problems. I have spoken many times of one of my favorite art stores, Raw Materials in downtown L.A. I was so saddened to hear that my friend Celia was physically attacked by a group of shoplifters right in her own store on the night of the Downtown Artwalk.

It hurts me so much to hear that things like this happen to good people. What's so weird is that one of the attacker's great escape was caught on video - right through a plate glass window! What are the chances? It is truly unbelievable to watch. See for yourself.

Celia, you are in my thoughts. Baked goods are in your future.

*update - they caught the guy!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The question isn't "what are we going to do," the question is "what aren't we going to do?"

Since I am unemployed, I guess I am the designated 'do-er'. Pick me up. Take this here. Make these. Drop off this cabbage.

Being unemployed means it's easy to go out, since I don't have anything to do anyway. When sometimes you just want to say to people, 'Hey, being laid off is not all fun and games, jackass.' Today's jackass is my mother. Except she happens to be off too - on bereavement leave. I thought I'd make her something NUTTY to lift her spirits.

I had leftover nuts from the praline cookies, so I looked in the Martha Stewart Cookies book and found Pecan Bars. A shortbread type crust, gooey topping. It all sounded great to me, til I saw it took 3-1/4 sticks butter. Yikes. While Paula Deen wouldn't blink an eye, I felt the need to change the recipe just a touch. They still came out great.

Gotta go. I have more cabbage deliveries and the like.

Pecan Bars recipe

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fruit of the Loom

The cost for flowers at a funeral is astronomical. I jokingly said that we should just get edible fruit arrangements at the graveside and call it a day. So when this showed up on my doorstep, I was beyond excited...And the fact that the pineapple were cut into Hello Kitty heads? Good lord, I almost fainted from excitement. So for dinner that night we had a fairly light meal. I gave the kids cheese and salami with crackers, carrots and ranch - and the centerpiece of the meal, was the fruit. My kids LOVE fruit.

I ate about 5 sticks. Two pineapple, two strawberries and one thing of grapes. The Kid followed suit pretty much. But the Baby? He blew us both away. THIRTEEN STICKS of fruit. I didn't stop him because he needs to eat more fruit (stuck poops, shh.) plus I wanted to help him to his goal of being the world's shortest competitive eater.
Fruit on a stick is the best idea ever. It encourages kids to eat healthier and makes them feel like they are having a party. But then again, anything in the shape of Hello Kitty's head makes it taste better.

I've made my own 'edible bouquets' in the past, they are really easy to do yourself: Fruit Kabobs recipe.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

In time it could have been so much more, time is precious I know

Here's a list of what I did today:

Woke up, got ready, did yoga.

Got the kids out of bed, fed them breakfast, got them dressed, brushed their teeth, dropped them off at school.

Finished up shower invitations.

Went to the paper store.

Went to the bank. Money did not miraculously appear overnight. Dammit.

Went to O.G.'s to drop off a head of cabbage, ended up arguing with her for an hour. Left ticked.

Went to Target to look at Easter stuff.

Went to the Supermarket.

Went to the Post Office to drop off online orders and shower invites:

Came home and did a load of laundry.

Cleaned the floor.

Vacuumed the living room.

Baked cookies.

Cleaned behind the donut poster on the fridge:

Did another load of laundry.

Prepped dinner.

Looked for jobs.

Put away the kid's toys.

Sketched up new designs.

Picked up the kids.

Cooked and ate dinner.

Did the dishes.

Cleaned the floor (yes, again).

Gave the kids a bath.

Gave the kids dessert.

Read the kids books, then put them to sleep.

What am I going to do tomorrow? Nothing, I guess.


My heart going boom boom, boom.
"Son," he said,"Grab your things, I've come to take you home."

Day 2 of desperately trying to stay positive. Or as I am calling it, Operation: Welcome Back, Karma.If it seems like this funeral is taking forever...it's because it is. It's not going to happen until the end of the week, so until then? It's craziness around here. Sometimes I want to tell my Grandpa to move over and take me with him because O.G. is KILLING ME.

We are having an open casket viewing, which gives me the creeps, but I get it. People want to say goodbye. The funeral director said that at this time, we can put whatever we want in the casket. Uh, really? Weird. You are supposed to put in things that had great meaning to that person, or what they liked a lot. So what are we thinking of putting in there? Root beer, of course. I'm not kidding. Our family loves us some root beer. My Grandpa did, especially. He was the King of Root Beer. You know when people say, "I love it so much I want to marry it?" In our family I guess it's, we love it so much we want to be...(wait for it) buried with it. Thank you, goodnight!

It was during this conversation that I leaned over to O.G. and asked her what she wanted to be buried with. Hey, you gotta prepare, right? Without missing a beat she said, "I want to be buried with tacos." Uh. 1. How is this even logistically possible? And 2. YUM.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Edina: I'm chanting as we speak, bye-bye, darling.

Thank you. So much. I appreciate every kind word you left me. That's why it's with great sadness that I have to tell you, things have gotten WORSE. What the. Am I cursed or what? What happened to my once undeniable good luck? There better be a big payoff for this or else.

As if depression and death weren't enough, Friday I found out that due to certain circumstances (my old employer), I will not be getting ANY unemployment. None. Nada. Zero. Zip. I don't even want to talk about it anymore it makes me so physically sick. The people at the unemployment office were very kind and compassionate, but there's nothing they can do. Speaking of, everyone in that place was a 40 year old man, except me. Is this my demographic?

With tears in my eyes and nothing in my pocket, I moved on. I left the office to get my car checked out. Luck beyond luck, I needed $600 in maintenance. Wow, really? Cause I totally have the money for that, let me just cash my unemployment check...oh snap! I DON'T HAVE ONE.

So I left there feeling pretty awful and thought, to get my mind off things, I'd go see Watchmen. Bad idea. It was pretty bad, and honestly, I didn't think the story translated to the screen at all. Not for lack of trying, I saw what they were trying to do there, but no. Just no.

And that's when it clicked. This is the end. I have hit the worst of the worst situations. Watchmen just clinched it. After going through all of these series of events...there's no where to go but up. Honestly. I have hit the absolute rock bottom.

This is becoming almost comical. And so I have to focus on positivity. I have to. What else do I have left? I have a plan. A plan to kick karma in the nuts and stand back and wait for a slot payout of rainbows and flowers. Too much? Ok then, I am going to start by focusing on two things that make me happy, and move on from there. Coffee. And mochi.

Things are going to get better. They have to.

Coffee Mochi recipe


Friday, March 13, 2009

When it rains, it pours.

It's weird. I started writing this on March 11, Wednesday - my Grandpa's birthday. It was going to be a happy birthday post but it turns out, it also became the day he died. He was 92.

He passed away on his very birthday, imagine that. We knew it was coming. It's terribly sad, but still - I feel a little prepared. After all, he told me he was going to die when he was 80. Then 85. Then 90. I feel like he's playing a trick on me.

Making funeral arrangements is overwhelming. Who wants to think about that stuff, especially when you are still grieving. We spent all afternoon at the mortuary - which is a Japanese mortuary- and I think they kind of looked at us funny because none of us, even O.G. read or speak Japanese. What can I say.

The best news we got that day was that the funeral director brings a box of mochi to the service as an offering, but then will pass it out at the end. HELL. YEAH. I jokingly told him that I wanted to special request pink mochi - and he wrote it down! I was cracking up. I'm sure O.G. is going to look at the paperwork and be like, 'WHAT.' Now I'm going to have to elbow all the old ladies at the funeral out of the way so I can get my mochi.

These past few weeks have been awful. I can't take much more bad news. I guess now we can finally taste that seahorse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cheesed off

You know what other job you are qualified for, when you only know how to draw? Nothing. I called a friend who told me there was a 20 person layoff at their firm just yesterday. Nice. No wonder the guy at the unemployment office was so mean to me, he's busier than everybody!

The Baby must be sensing that things are about to go downhill around here. He's asking me all kinds of questions. "Are you happy? Do you still love me? Do you like cheese toast?" What.

I believe he was referring to the cheddar biscuits from the Barefoot Contessa. They are surprisingly light and tasty and so easy to make. If all it takes to make someone happy is cheese toast, then cheese toast for everybody. Maybe I should take some to the dude at unemployment.
I don't have a good photo of these so I will just show you this picture of the Baby holding fake croissants. Same diff.

Cheddar Biscuits recipe

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Life's a beach

For some reason I woke up feeling spectacular. My other friends who were laid off (there are a lot of them, yikes) said the first week is the worst, then things start to fall in to place. I am feeling that.

A trip to the beach this weekend didn't hurt, either. Sorry East Coasters, but spring has sprung here. The Kid built sandcastles and stayed faaarr away from the water. While the Baby ate a lot...and then fell into the water. I then became that ghetto person who has their kids in underwear at the beach, because I didn't have change of clothes.
It was still chilly, for Los Angeles - but the sun was out. I got a nice tan and let my worries fade away.

Cut to today, and I still feel pretty ok with life, although the Baby came home from school because he wasn't feeling well. "Stuck poops", is proper medical term, I believe. Lovely.

While he slept I wrote a list of things to do while jobless. Insane listmaker that I am, I need to write everything down all the time. Looking over it now, I think my priorites were skewed. Clearly eating cupcakes should be moved to the top.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

I don't eat leftovers. Maybe I just need a break. I can't eat the same thing over and over it annoys me. Yet I'm fine with taking that food and turn it into a completely different meal and then serving that. I know. I have problems. Call me the Dr. Frankstein of leftovers.

Since I've been off work I've been trying to come up with recipes just from things in my pantry, and that will last us a few meals. I started out by making a roast chicken. Very simple, no brainer, a great dinner any time of the week. But an entire chicken is a lot, and I ended up with a whole half, and then all that veg.The Baby had been asking for pot pie ever since I made it the last time, but I didn't have any pie crust in the freezer. So I took a cue from all that Barefoot Contessa I'd been reading. I remember she had a chicken and biscuits recipe. I took the amazingly easy biscuit recipe, changed it up a bit, and used that on top of the pot pies instead. It worked even BETTER if that's possible.

It ended up making a lot, (plus I mostly had small ramekins, lame) soI froze the rest for dinner on another night.Round can be so boring, so for the biscuits I cut out some different shapes for the kids. Bat Pot Pie being a favorite of the Baby. Maybe Batman will get my signal and come to dinner. I hope he likes leftovers.

Roast Chicken recipe
Quick Chicken and Biscuits recipe

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

We could serve monkey ass in empty clam shell

This yoga pants life is weird. I've only been out of work a week but it feels like months. I can't tell if this is depression or boredom. The only thing that could get me out was going to...FABIO'S restaurant. Yes, THE Fabio of Top Chef. My good friends and I are obsessed fans of the show, and him, so what's a little jaunt to Moorpark, right? Er...

Do you know where Moorpark is? Far. So far that people who live in the Valley are like DAMN THAT'S FAR. It took an hour+ to get out there and it looked like what you would expect - mini malls, box stores, and chain restaurants as far as the eye could see - aka, my nightmare. In the middle of it all was Cafe Firenze. Hm. I was skeptical.

We walked in, it was a Saturday night, and man, was the place buzzin'. There was a live band, a full bar, completely packed. It was crowded with people, so much so that you couldn't even walk. The first person we saw when we walked through the door? Fabio himself. He wasn't there for long though, he immediately went into the kitchen and started working the line. I think this made the difference between a so-so experience and a good one.

The food was FANTASTIC. Among us, we ordered squid ink pasta, gnocci with basil pesto sauce, spinach and ricotta dumplings in brown butter and sage, and I had the butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sauce. AMAZING. Everything tasted fresh and flavorful and you could tell that pasta was really homemade. It reminded me of the food when I lived in Italy 20 years (yikes) ago. It was delicious.

The whole night Fabio worked the kitchen, and as we were leaving he was out in the dining area, mobbed by people for pictures and the like. We didn't want to bother him, plus we had to start our one hour drive to get back home to Los Angeles.

As always, whenever you go out with members of the Baking Posse, there were treats to be shared. I took home some hamantaschen and I handed out chocolate chip shortbread hearts. I had made so many sweet things last week, I decided to go with something more subtle and on the plainer side. It went well after that full meal, anyway.

It's weird that we all live close to each other but had to drive an hour away to eat dinner together, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I would totally go back if it wasn't so far away, but we made the most of it, and spent THREE hours eating and talking! I think it was what I needed to get me out of my 'recession depression'. It was a great dinner - the food was excellent and the company was even better.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Hearts recipe, here.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Here is the money that I owe you, so you can pay the bills, I will give you more, when I get paid again

This week's Office left me cold. I don't need to think about Phyllis and Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration having sex. Ew. Instead I will tell you what I've been up to. Which is nothing.

Tina Fey was on Jimmy Fallon the other night and she said that now that she has a kid, sometimes she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror at home and says, "Somebody's mom is here. Oh god...that's me." That happens to me all the time. Scary.

I have been staying up LATE, me - who has to go to bed at 10:30 or else. I've been up til 12, 1am, 2am - organizing. Websites, recipes, the kid's junk, whatever. Last night I packaged up a bunch of craft supplies and put them on etsy.

When I woke up I saw this:I fumbled for my camera to take a picture because I thought it was so odd. I must have put it there last night while I was cleaning. "NEVER AS BAD AS YOU THINK" staring me in the face in morning was weird. But it made sense at that moment for how I felt.

I really want a cookie. Not my own cookies...can you believe that I still can't find any freakin' Girl Scouts! Am I cookie repellant or what?? My kingdom for a Thin Mint.

One final pimp - the store is having a $1 shipping sale. "In honor of Daylight Saving, now you can save!" Good lord, I hate bad puns. I need to kill myself now that I wrote that. Check out the sale. The end.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Complicating, circulating
New life, new life

I don't know why every post this week is about my mother. You'd think it was Mutha's Day or something.

Anyway, whenever people tell me they 'like something', I always try and remember it. It comes in handy for birthdays, Christmas, etc. Our last Opera season ticket event I had the flu, and my mom had to go it alone. I guess she wandered the streets because she told me that she ended up at the Walt Disney Concert Hall gift store. Museum gift shops are the absolute best. WDCH and MoCA have some amazing things in there, some really unique stuff.

She said that in the gift store she saw a neat rubber purse made out of old tires. SAY WHAT. I couldn't imagine what kind of rubber purse would suit my mom, but ok. She kept talking about going back to get it.

A few weeks ago when I was downtown, I stopped by the gift shop and lo and behold, a wall of rubber purses. Imagine that. They were actually cooler than she had described. All recycled content, and mostly black with a hint of color. My kind of minimalism.

She was really surprised and happy with the gift, mostly that I remembered. I also threw a "BOOK CLUB" (a la Fight Club) shirt in there for good measure. Sure to be appreciated by any librarian.

If you listen to your friends and family, they will be so happy when you give them things, not because of the object, but because you listened to what they had to say. Now if only I could get people to listen to me. ~cough*KateSpade*cough~

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Angela drafted me onto the party planning committee. She said that we need to prepare for every possible disaster. Which to me, seems excessive.

I started a catering business. It's called, "My mom is having a staff meeting and needs desserts, asap." Doesn't quite roll off your tongue. No, I am NOT opening a baking business, but my mom did need sweets for a meeting she was having, so I happily obliged. This not working thing is killing me. I can't function unless I have 100 things to do, I don't know what to do with myself. This helped.

It was also helpful because I am doing yet another baby shower. Much like Nanette's, it's going to be mostly desserts, so this was my opportunity to try out some recipes, and see how'd they look, etc.My mom loves pralines. I have been wanting to make some recently but with the moisture in the air, forget it. They'd never set. So I found this recipe on Martha Stewart and it was REALLY good. I made a few adjustments, but man, does it sure stay true to the taste of a good old Southern praline. Plus they are awfully uniform and nice looking for an event.

Then I made O.G.'s fave vegan brownies. Only I made them into mini cupcakes, with chocolate chips. Not totally vegan, but what the hell. I don't think the staffers will care. I like to use the yellow flower liners whenever I do chocolate cupcakes, it makes them look like little sunflowers.

I packaged everything up with labels and all, and in the end - it kinda did look professional. My mom is my only client and she doesn't even pay, so if you ask me this business is pretty lame.

Praline cookies recipe
mini brownie cupcakes recipe

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Try walking in my shoes, you' ll stumble in my footsteps, if you try walking in my shoes

My mom loves Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa), her recipes, her shows, her cookbooks, only...my mom doesn't cook. She sees these things and tells me to to make them. "Yeah, yeah" I always say. So for her birthday, I made an entire dinner, appetizer to dessert, all of Ina Garten's recipes. And I didn't even change an ingredient.

It was almost like I was copying that blog, French Laundry at Home, where the lady cooked all the recipes from the French Laundry cookbook. That's how it felt. Like I was walking in Ina Garten's footsteps. Except Barefoot Contessa recipes are so much easier to follow.
One thing about Ina Garten, you can never go wrong with her recipes, they will always give you perfect results. I started off with some cheddar biscuits, which were even better the second day. Then a smoked salmon spread dip. My mom loves smoked salmon, I won't touch the stuff, but hey, it's not my birthday.Then I made a roast loin of pork. My mom doesn't necessarily love pork, but since the entire family was coming over, and they are all carnivores, it was an easy choice. I followed that with some sides, green beans with shallots, mashed potatoes, and for the first time ever, I made homemade gravy. All these years that was my mom's job, so it was weird to have to do it myself. This recipe was the best way to start, easy and flavorful.

What my mom really wanted and had asked me for before, was Ina's Baked Shrimp Scampi. This was really easy andso tasty I think it was the most popular thing on the table.Even the dessert I took right from the recipe book. It was a for a birthday sheet cake, frosted with chocolate and decorated with M&Ms. I made cupcakes instead and let the kids decorate. I'm livin' on the edge here. As suspected, the Baby asked if he could lick his hands after he placed each M&M. Hell no. Trust me there would be none of that, I watched that kid like a hawk AND I made them wash their hands TWICE before they even started. My family was more than relieved, let me tell you.

I chose all of these recipes because they could be prepped in advance. Perfect for a dinner party. While I followed the recipes to a T...this time, there are many, many things that I'd change if I made them again. I'll post the recipes eventually, but for now, I'm still digesting all the butter and sour cream I had to put in those dishes. Yikes. Being the Barefoot Contessa ain't easy on the heart or the hips. Oof.

For the recipes, go here!

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