just in time for the labor day…otherwise known as national grill + drink with your friends + family day!

this baby back rib recipe is about as easy as it gets, and although it calls to finish them off in the oven under the broiler, there is no reason you can’t put them on a hot grill to get that extra added char. i was given the recipe from my friend linda, the farmers market fairy, who says she jotted it down from the chalkboard at mccall’s meat and fish co. a few years ago. both sources i trust in all things food, so you will not be disappointed. i get my baby backs from peads and barnetts at the hollywood farmers market, and they are outstanding.

as far as the sauce, everybody has an opinion on bbq sauce, and i will not try to sway those that want their sauce the way they want it. this is how i like mine: tomatoey, tangy, spicy with just a bit of smoke. the base of the recipe comes from a family friend, who’s sauce i had the pleasure of having slathered over perfectly grilled chicken wings at my stepmom’s 60th birthday in upstate new york a couple of years ago. i was fortunate enough to have him share his recipe with me. i made a few adjustments. the biggest being that i chose to make my own heinz chili sauce (i prefer to use as little processed food as possible), which i got a cheat from the spice guru at food.com. i made a few other slight adjustments in regards to spices mostly because of what i had on hand in my kitchen, but for the most part i give credit to nick fox for what i consider my favorite bbq sauce.

the ribs:

  • rack(s) of baby back ribs
  • apple cider vinegar
  • dry rub of choice (i use a combo of penzeys bbq 3000 and a friend’s special mix called bacon sugar)
  • salt

splash a tablespoon (or so) of apple cider vinegar on each rack and massage in. let them sit for about 10-15 mins.


rub in a couple tablespoons of your favorite dry rub and sprinkle with salt.


wrap in plastic wrap, and then in foil.


place on a baking sheet in the oven for 3-4 hours at 225ᴼ. unwrap and peel away the plastic being careful of the steam. the plastic will be melty so make sure not to leave gooey bits behind.


slather on your favorite bbq sauce (see recipe below).


put them under the broiler for a few minutes on each side until they have a bit of char. warning: keep an eye on them, and do not get distracted.


cut them up between the bones, and by all means slather on more sauce.


the sauce:


as written and sent to me, with my adjustments and changes in parenthesis.

  • 2 1/2 cups heinz chili sauce, or 2 bottles (i doubled the spice guru’s recipe at food.com to equal 2 bottles, using garlic instead of onion flakes, and spicy instead of sweet chili powder)
  • 2 tsp tabasco (scottie b’s chipotle fever smokin bbq spicy pepper sauce)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp tarragon (dried)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (large)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (sugar + molasses)
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

combine in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer 30 minutes. strain through a fine mesh strainer.


makes about 4 cups


photo by rafiel chait

vito is not my uncle, but i think everybody wants an uncle like him. i did have the pleasure of meeting him prior to the wedding of his nephew (don) and his soon to be bride (lauren), who are two dear friends of mine, late last year. he made a huge batch of his meatballs for the occasion, and did a demonstration on how to make them to a few lucky bastards who were out at the house my friends were to be married at earlier in the week. of course, i wanted to be there for that, but sadly, i was stuck at work. thankfully, my friend the groom made a video of it, and i am forever grateful.

this video is not only helpful to see how the meatballs are created, but adds a touch of the innuendo that runs in the family, and also shows uncle vito making the meatballs in a manner that i truly believe is the way to cook…by feel, by taste, by smell, by love, and most importantly, by your family and friends.

dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.

-julia child


the sauce:

  • splash of wine
  • 1 can of crushed red tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (14 oz)
  • 1 3/4 cans of water (using the crushed tomato can)
  • 1 tsp of parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, + more to fry the tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cans of tomato paste (6 oz each)

in a large pot combine add all the ingredients in order, except the tomato paste. put on medium-high heat, stir and bring to a decent simmer.


meanwhile start the meatballs. once you have mixed the meat for the balls, fry the tomato paste in some olive oil for a couple of minutes until the oil is incorporated into the paste.

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add it to the sauce and stir, plus a little more sugar if needed, but i found the sauce pretty sweet as is. reduce to a slow simmer while you make, roll and fry the balls.

the meatballs:

  • 5 pounds of ground beef (80/20)
  • 7 eggs
  • splash of olive oil + more to fry balls in
  • 2 pounds of italian sausage, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, + more for adding
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs, + more for adding
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder, + more for adding
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil, + more for adding

start with half of the ground beef and crumble into a large pot. add the rest of the ingredients. then crumble the remaining ground beef as well. add another big dash of parmesan, breadcrumbs, basil and garlic powder.

then dig in with both hands. add a splash of olive oil to grease the wheels. ‘pound it, push it down, keep mixing it well…from the bottom, and then push it.’ do this til firm, but not wet. if it feels too wet, add breadcrumbs…i ended up adding about 1/4 cup more.


squeeze ice cream scoop sized balls (about 2 inches?) 10 times by hand, and then roll in your palms. i ended up with just a little tad bit more than 40 balls, so i used the remaining into a smaller tester ‘veet ball’.


add a good layer of olive oil to a large fry pan, add meatballs (8-10 per pan, they can be snug), and over medium-high heat brown and turn. careful not to cook them too quickly. let them brown nicely, then add to the sauce. you can continue to use the same pan for the next batch. i found i didn’t need to add additional oil, since the fat and juices of the previous balls worked fine to fry the remaining balls.


on this particular night i made linguini and veetballs, but i got some nice italian baguette to make meatball sandos for lunch the next day as well:


i found this will make about 35-45 balls, depending on size, plus of course one tester veet ball.

• on a sad note, we lost uncle vito this past week. i didn’t know he was sick, and only found out when my friend posted his wonderful video of his uncle vito making his amazing meatballs. i feel so fortunate that i was able to meet him, and now pass his recipe on to you, so we can all enjoy. RIP UNCLE VITO!

a big part of my philosophy on cooking and eating is of course using products and produce that are organic, sustainable and local, but also unprocessed, or what i like to think of as ‘what would laura ingalls wilder do?’ she lived in a day where everything was made from scratch, all foods were basically what we know as organic today, and definitely pre-GMO.

she also didn’t grow up with processed snacks such as cheez-its in her cupboard like i did as a young girl. granted the list of ingredients in cheez-its isn’t nearly as long as many processed chips, crackers or snacks in the same demographic, and they don’t have the evil monosodium glutamate in them, but i have definitely cut way back on my intake of these addictive lil cheesy nibbles due to their processed nature. of course, when craft services puts out the little single serving bags on the table at work, they are very hard to resist, and i usually tuck one away in my set bag to eat in guilt later when i can blame it on the ‘late hours’ or ‘i’m tired’ or ‘i don’t want another fucking piece of fruit’.

so, when my upstairs neighbor, who is a chef, posted a picture on instagram of homemade cheez-its, i about lost my shit, because i fucking love cheez-its!


thankfully she was willing to share her recipe.



  • 9 ounces (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7.5 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 2-4 tbsp ice water
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten


in the bowl of a food processor add the flour, baking powder, paprika and salt. pulse to combine. add the butter and cheese, and pulse until very well combined. add 2 tbsp of ice water and pulse until the dough is just wet enough to come together when squeezed. add up to 2 tbsp more water if necessary.


divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. press each half of dough into a flat square, wrap well, and chill for at least 30 minutes.


working with one square at a time, roll the dough out to a scant 1/8-inch thick. using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4-inch wide strips, and then in the other direction to make 3/4-inch squares.


use a wooden skewer, or chop stick, to poke a hole in the center of each square.

transfer squares to a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze the dough until firm, about 10-15 minutes. do the same with the other square of dough.

preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

brush the squares with the egg white and sprinkle with salt. gently break the squares apart and transfer the parchment onto a different baking sheet that hasn’t been in the freezer.


bake until puffed, set, and browned on the bottom. make sure to bake them well, so that the finished crackers are crisp. (completely frozen dough may take extra time.) start checking them at 15 mins, but can take up to 20-30 mins.


transfer the parchment with the crackers to a cooling rack. store cooled crackers in an airtight container.


makes about 5 cups.

thanks to chef jamie lauren for the recipe, and my renewed addiction. 

another episode of ‘cleanin’ out my fridge’: the brussels sprouts edition.


yesterday after my trip to the farmers market, i was putting away my veggies, and came across a bag of these cruciferous vegetables from a couple weeks ago that i needed to use.

i have a few different ways i like to prepare these wee cabbages. simply roasting them with olive oil, salt and pepper is easy enough, but recently i have been slicing them thin, sautéing with olive oil, shallot, fresh lemon juice, tossing with pecorino romano, toasted sliced almonds, and finishing with a little bit of red wine vinegar. this was my inspiration for this soup.

of course, when i am cooking from the hip, i often don’t actually write down amounts as i go, or take photos, so the list of ingredients will be approximations, and you only get the one photo.


  • 3 cups brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 1 leek, white part cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks, diced small
  • 4 carrots, diced small
  • 2 tsp fresh savory, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups stock (i used homemade turkey stock)
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped coarse (optional)
  • cream, to taste
  • salt + pepper, to taste


  • toasted sliced almonds
  • pecorino romano, grated
  • chives, minced
  • red wine vinegar, drizzle

in a large dutch oven, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. add the brussels sprouts, some salt and pepper, and cook until soft and browning. add the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, savory and a little more olive oil, salt and pepper. combine and allow to cook down a bit. add the wine, and scrape off any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. add the stock, bring to a boil, and then let simmer over medium-low heat until all the veggies are soft. this is when i added the spinach. honestly, i doubt that it added much flavor wise, but i had a little bit in the fridge that was just beginning to wilt, and thought it might add a little green color back into the soup, which it did. once the spinach becomes soft, but hasn’t lost it’s color, i turned off the heat. i used a hand blender to purée the soup until creamy. (i’m sure a regular blender or food processor would do the same thing.) slowly add cream to your liking.

garnish with almonds, pecorino romano, chives and drizzle with red wine vinegar. enjoy!

serves 4.

the first corn of the season started showing up at the farmers market a couple weeks ago, which means any cookout, BBQ, or gathering that has a grill, i will be asked to make mexican grilled corn. happily i will abide, because it is so damn good. i first came across this recipe in the october 2009 issue of cook’s illustrated, and without a doubt it is the number one dish my friends ask me to make during the summer months.



  • 6 ears of corn, husks + silks removed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1-2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 oz pecorino romano cheese, about 1/2 cup
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • vegetable oil for cooking grate


mix together the mayo, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, 1/4 tsp chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, lime juice and cheese in a bowl.



add the remaining 1/2 tsp of chili powder and salt to the vegetable oil and whisk together. brush this oil mixture all over the corn.


once you have heated your grill to hot, wipe the grate with a paper towel wad and tongs dipped in vegetable oil. put the corn directly on the grill and shut the lid. check after about 5 minutes, or if you start hearing it pop, and rotate so all sides get brown, about 10-15 minutes.


transfer to a platter or dish, and slather on the sauce.



this is a perfect side to bring to, or make for any BBQ or grilling event you might be having for this memorial day. please take note that this monday is not our national day to have a cookout, but to honor and remember the men and women who have died while serving in our armed services. peace + love.





i have had this blog for 3 years now, and although julia child is a huge influence in my cooking, i started wild, fresh + tasty a few months after my dad died.


he was an artist, writer, blogger and truly enjoyed cooking. perhaps this is sort of an homage to him? i had always loved watching him in the kitchen, but what i loved most was listening to him whistle while he worked. usually he would be playing some sort of music (coltrane, dylan, vanzandt…whatevs!), and (in my eyes) moving in the kitchen like he was gene kelly.


i think he would have been the biggest fan of my blog, but also given me the most insight…in writing, in cooking, and…kicked me in the ass to post more. i miss him.

as winter melts into spring, i get excited when the produce at farmers markets starts changing, but here in southern california it seems as though beets and kale are here year round. that is just fine by me. this salad blends the merging seasons well with earthy wild rice, sweet golden beets, and crunchy green kale.

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  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice, cooked yielding about 3 cups, let cool
  • 3 medium golden beets, roasted, peeled, let cool and diced
  • 1 bunch of kale (i prefer lacinato for this recipe), blanched, drained fully and chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced small or minced
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


in a large bowl mix together the cooled wild rice and beets with the kale and onion. in a small bowl add a generous pinch of salt to the vinegar, and slowly whisk in the olive oil until it emulsifies. toss dressing into rice mixture. add salt and pepper to taste.

makes about 4-6 cups

tip: for breakfast the next morning, sauté a little and add to scrambled eggs with goat cheese.

i have become a fan of the grain salad as of late. while trying to explore new places for lunch, when working at warner brothers on ‘pretty little liars‘, and too lazy to bring my own, i discovered olive + thyme. it is just close enough to pick up an to go order, or sit and eat if i want to relax. well, one day i strayed from my usual beet and arugula salad, and chose the quinoa and corn. it was so refreshing and perfect for summer i needed to make it at home. so damn easy.

tonight i when i got home, and knew the only thing doing pretty well in our ltl community garden has been the basil, thought maybe i could do a spin off of the quinoa + corn salad?


this is what i came up with:

  • quinoa (1 cup dry makes about 3 cups cooked)
  • basil (7-10 large leaves, 1/4 cup once minced)
  • peas (1 cup)
  • feta (1-2 ounces chopped small)
  • red onion (3 tbsp)
  • green onion (1/4 cup)
  • lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • lime juice (2 limes)
  • olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • salt (1/2 tbsp)

i did this all to taste. i started with 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked it, chilled it (or just bring it to room temp), and went from there. parenthesis are meant to be approximations. switch things up a bit. mint for basil. corn for peas. try apple cider vinegar instead of citrus? i don’t care.

photo (4)

just please enjoy summer!

note: the next day, the citrus seemed to have soaked in and be a bit overpowering, so i may reduce that in the future.

this past weekend, our loft building in downtown los angeles had the first planting of our community garden. we started with a tabula rasa, added some organic soil, trellises, stepping stones, lanterns, tables and chairs.

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we all agreed we wanted it to be organic, so no gmo’s or pesticides allowed. one of our members, and original instigators, linda, also known as the farmers market fairy, was able to pick up a good portion of the seedlings at the wednesday’s santa monica farmers market, and dan, our hoa president, was able to find the remaining at armstrong’s nursery, including a dwarf meyer lemon tree he has named ‘lucy.’

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to celebrate the occasion, dan mixed up a pitcher of refreshing strawberry basil cocktails, which with all the herbs we are growing was a fitting premonition and inspiration for upcoming garden cocktail parties.


we spread out our newly adopted wee loved ones, guided by what little knowledge we knew of what needs sun or shade, and some other random tips we had collected.


with that…we started digging.

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once everything was planted, we did a trial watering to get the roots good and soaked.

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we are all aware that urban gardening has it’s challenges. for instance, here in skidrokyo, we find trash thrown over the fence daily, like this welcoming pile of clothing on this particular afternoon…


…but bringing together our neighbors…

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…and seeing those vibrant green sprouts sticking out of the dark brown soil…

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…makes it all worth it.

‘when i go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, i feel such an exhilaration and health that i discover that i have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what i should have done with my own hands.’  -ralph waldo emerson


for those interested, here is a list of the fruits, vegetables and herbs we have planted thus far:

  • arugula
  • spinach
  • mint
  • spearmint
  • parsley
  • thyme
  • mediterranean thyme
  • rosemary
  • variegated sage
  • oakleaf lettuce
  • chamomile
  • cilantro
  • lavender
  • basil
  • thai sweet basil
  • purple basil
  • oregano
  • mexican oregano
  • greek oregano
  • poblano pepper
  • fatali pepper
  • serrano pepper
  • green bell pepper
  • red bell pepper
  • yellow bell pepper
  • maui onion
  • bunching onions
  • honeydew
  • snap beans
  • appalachian pole bean
  • tsungshigo tomato
  • cherokee purple tomato
  • hawaiian pineapple tomato
  • sungold cherry tomato
  • sausage tomato
  • armenian cucumber
  • persian cucumber
  • meyer lemon

who knew that dave jr. would be the inspiration for implementing our very own community garden here at little tokyo lofts in downtown los angeles?

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for those who don’t know about dave jr., he was a tomato plant, and my first foray into gardening, but apparently our HOA president watched as i was diligently carrying water up to the top floor of the parking garage to water him, and thought he should have a proper place to live.

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i have been wanting to start a garden here for a while, but honestly, lacked the motivation, time and energy. thankfully it seems as though others in my building also wanted the same thing, and as a group we brought together enough of those key elements to make it happen. we have met once before to talk about what we needed to get the ball rolling, the HOA approved our budget, and tonight we met to discuss what we wanted to plant. oh, and we added these lovely lights and some little garden tables and chairs to enhance the area for relaxing.


follow along as i post updates, photos, recipes, tips, and yes, most likely some failures. ultimately, hopefully we will not only see our seedlings, little green orbs, and buds grow, but our community brought together and cultivated with something as simple as growing produce, herbs and flowers.

we start planting on saturday.

little tokyo lofts • 420 s. san pedro street • los angeles • ca • 90013



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