it has become a bit of a tradition to have an ‘orphans’ thanksgiving at my place for a few years now. i start with the usual list of friends, but anyone is invited, and there are always a few last minute add ons. this year it tipped the scales with almost 20 guests. from shopping at the farmers market all the way to the leftovers, here is the feast in photos:

the farmers market fairy delivered this 18+ lb beauty on monday:

i did a majority of my shopping at the wednesday morning santa monica farmers market:

on my way to the market, kcrw had a wonderful segment with christopher kimball, of america’s test kitchen and cook’s illustrated, talking about a julia child thanksgiving. of course he spoke of her simplicity and her use of the best ingredients. it was just the motivation and inspiration i needed. this is the beautiful and colorful loot i came home with:

the pie prep: cranberries, rhubarb, and roasted pumpkin.

the veggie prep: roasted winter vegetables, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and creamed corn with crispy bacon.

the free range willie bird all buttered up, stuffed, and carved to perfection:

the buffet: the aforementioned creamed corn with crispy bacon, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted winter veggies, along with sausage + fennel stuffing, and gravy. my guests brought sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, salad, cranberries and homemade bread.

the table as people were plating up their food:

the pies: cranberry rhubarb (as well as, a crisp from the extra fruit) and pumpkin. not shown: pumpkin cheesecake and paleo pumpkin bread.

the dead soldiers the next day:

a few of us took off for big bear the next afternoon to just chill out (and digest) for a couple of days. these were some of the leftovers by the fire at the little cabin in the woods the next night:

i made stock from the carcass yesterday, and there was just enough turkey leftover to make soup today. recipe to come…

note: more (professional) photos from the evening can be found at rafiel chait photography. the photos above were just taken by me with my crummy iphone and hipstamatic.

rhubarb brings me back to my grandma’s homemade crisps. i tried my hand at a strawberry rhubarb pie once, but it turned out a bit soupy (i blame the juicy strawberries from harry’s berries.) i decided to skip the berries this time, and make 4 mini pies, using 5-inch tin pans that i got at surfas. i just happened to have some fresh thyme on hand and thought it might be an interesting compliment with the tart rhubarb. since i have always wanted to try using lard in my crust, and i had picked some up at lindy + grundy when i was there last, i substituted it for the shortening in the dough recipe.

ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1 double-crust pie dough, divided into 8 discs
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • cinnamon

directions:

this is stupid easy. toss the thyme with the chopped rhubarb.

combine the white and brown sugar with the flour. roll out 4 of the disks of dough and place in the tins.

put a couple tablespoons of the sugar flour mixture in the bottom of each.

divide the rhubarb between the tins, and top with 4 pieces of butter on each.

put several more tablespoon of the mixture over each, letting it get in between the rhubarb. (i did end up with some mixture left over.)

roll out the remaining 4 disks and top each. crimp the edges making sure they don’t hang over too much.

brush the egg over the top, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and lightly dust with cinnamon. cut four slits in the top to allow for ventilation.

put them on a cookie sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven at 450˚ for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350˚ and bake for another 45 minutes. let them cool on a wire rack.

parts of two of my crusts fell off early in the baking, due to hanging over the edge too much. i was able to save them, and i’m sure just as delicious, but just look a bit messy. the other two were perfect.

…and i had leftover rhubarb to make a crisp to boot!

i now have copious amounts of rhubarb treats, and kicking myself for not picking up vanilla ice cream. grrrr.

notes: i prefer my rhubarb on the tart side, so i’ll probably use less sugar next time. i couldn’t taste the thyme, whereas others could, so adjust to your taste.

i have been working a lot lately, and although there is way too much food provided for us, it just isn’t that healthy all the time. also, we are basically on our own for lunch, so rather than spending at least $10 a day going to the warner brothers commissary, or a nearby restaurant like chipotle, i have been trying to bring my lunch. for tomorrow, i merged a bit of extra pre-cooked chicken and peas that were leftover extras from a pot pie i made last weekend, with some fresh green onions, peppers and lime that i picked up at the farmers market, added a bit of ‘below the border’ spices, olive oil and a touch of white wine vinegar.

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup orzo (dry), cooked and rinsed cold
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked, cooled and cubed small
  • 1 cup fresh peas, blanched
  • 1/4  cup red pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 lime, juiced

to taste:

  • olive oil (1 tbsp?)
  • white wine vinegar (a splash)
  • cumin (lots)
  • chili powder (1 tsp?)
  • s+p

mix all the ingredients together, and then to your own taste add the olive oil, vinegar, cumin, chili powder and s+p.

at least i know one of my meals will be healthy, and made with mostly organic, local and fresh ingredients. for breakfast, i can only hope they don’t tempt me with ‘crack’ bacon.

makes 2 servings, or about 2.5 cups. approximately 400 calories per serving.

julia would have been 100 years old today. happy birthday ol’ girl!

photographed in her cambridge, massachusetts, kitchen, june 29, 1970. by arnold newman/getty images.

i love this photo, mostly because her kitchen looks like a workshop, with all her tools on display behind her, and her plans to create something wonderful in front of her.

of course google honored her 100th birthday by having her as their theme of the day, the new york times put out a lovely piece about how she still translates into today’s cooks repertoire, and i will continue to pay homage to my muse, my inspiration and, although unbeknownst to her, my mentor every year on the day of her birth. i wish i would have known the impact she would have on my adult life when i would watch her tv show as a wee lass, or perhaps the reason cooking and food are as important to me as they are because she influenced me early on without my even knowing?

she was interested in what was in season, what tastes good, and figuring out what is the best method in which to cook food. even though some of her recipes were a bit complicated, many were pretty much back to the basics and fairly simple…good ingredients + optimal cooking methods = tasty food. all of which are right where my philosophy of cooking lands, and ultimately what this blog is about.

it is obvious that i love to cook, but i also believe as the master said,

‘cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.’ -julia child

i love that my kitchen is like a workshop to me, is filled with the tools i need to create, and that julia is always there to remind me to enter into any experience with abandon.

thank you julia, happy birthday, and bon apetite!

get used to lots of recipes this summer with wee little yellow orbs from dave jr. because he is producing like a mofo. this was simply another combination of what i happened to have on hand.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium fresh yellow beet, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 12 yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup red cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 large sprig fresh tarragon, leaves removed from stem, but not chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil (i used a little regular evoo, and some orange infused from adams’ olive ranch to give it a little more citrus flavor)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • paprika
  • black pepper

after prepping the beet, tomato, cabbage and tarragon, toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice. add a touch of olive oil and a splash of balsamic until nicely coated but not drenched. you can be generous with the paprika, and add black pepper to your taste.

i’m sure one of these days i will use the fruits of dave jr. and actually cook them, but for now i am enjoying them raw, sweet and tangy.

note: this makes enough for about 4 side servings, and is only about 100 calories per serving.

last year i was introduced to the independent shakespeare company. i saw quite an enjoyable version of the merry wives of windsor, and if you can believe it, a somewhat humorous hamlet. they have had a few venues over the years, but as of 2010, they put on their wonderful performances under the magic hour, moon, stars, and sometimes howling coyotes of los angeles summer nights at the old griffith park zoo.

their audiences are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs, coolers and picnic baskets filled with snacks and libations to enjoy before and during the performances. sometimes i just bring an assortment of meats, cheeses, veggies, bread, olives and salad. wine is a no-brainer.

to kick off the 2012 season for the winter’s tale, i decided on making fried chicken (ala america’s test kitchen) and macaroni salad (ala omnivorous) to accompany the usual suspects mentioned above, and the pinot noir from red car wine was perfect.

…so was the performance, and evening.

this season of isc runs til september 2, 2012. shows are thursday-sunday starting at 7p. make sure to catch all three plays: the winter’s tale, a midsummer night’s dream, and the comedy of errors. all performances are free. donations are strongly encouraged (by me, but i’m sure they approve of them too).

even before my first harvest of dave jr. i have been looking for different recipes to test out with his delicious sweet and tangy fruits. a friend at work brings in vegetables from her garden from time to time. this week was yellow zucchini. i am a fan of most vegetables, and although the squash family has never been a favorite, i was not going to turn down a fresh home garden grown zucchini.

doing some quick googling for recipes, i found this on thekitchn.com. i chose to use a grill pan for the zucchini, and it worked just fine. while they cooked, i cut up my yellow cherry tomatoes and herbs (i had dill, tarragon and chives on hand.) i chose an espresso balsamic vinegar from amphora to drizzle over, and tossed in the rest of the ingredients.

of course they used green zucchini, grape red tomatoes and a different mix of herbs, but i’ll bet mine turned out just as tasty. i served it to accompany cacio e pepe, but this would be a wonderfully fresh side to any summer meal.

note: i liked this zucchini recipe so much i think i’ll try out more from this list on thekitchn.com, perhaps proving that i like squash after all.

i think it is safe to say that dave jr. is a yellow cherry tomato plant.

several of them seemed just soft to the touch and ripe for the picking, so today was the day i decided it was time to pluck a few of the beautiful orbs and have a taste test.

they are like little pieces of candy.

i’m off to the market to get some fresh bread, arugula, bacon and perhaps and avocado, because a blt for dinner is screaming my name.

i took a road trip with my sisters kate and emma the week of june 10-15, 2012. i enjoyed every single moment and meal of this week, regardless of the food we consumed, and where it came from. (well, with the exception of tuba city.) this is my story.

6/10

i left on a sunday morning. i flew to chicago from los angeles with nothing in my belly but a nectarine, and a grapefruit in my purse. of course, when i got into chicago, it was discussed that we would have lunch.

kate picked an awesome start to our journey.

lunch at belly shack, chicago, il: pork rib + sausage sandwich with chihuahua cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms.

finding a good dinner spot was another thing. the three of us were used to being able to get food past 9p. not so much in the middle of iowa, or as we found out, in many other parts of the country.

dinner at casa tequila, tiffin, ia: pork tacos, tecate.

the beer was good. the salsa tasted like canned tomato sauce. not kidding.

6/11

good morning! god love college towns for having decent coffee shops. this place made my morning, and besides the slow service, it was a wonderful way to start the day.

breakfast at mars cafe, des moines, ia: ham + egg, lavender dijon on ciabatta, intelligentsia americano.

i had a lot of good breakfasts on this trip. this would prove a hard one to beat.

for lunch i was determined to find a non-fast food place in the middle of nebraska. it was tough, but we did it.

lunch at cafe on the square, seward, ne: blt (perhaps on homemade bread) + coleslaw. (no photo)

by the by, i loved finding this place smack dab in the middle of america.

although we weren’t able to stop, i surely would have liked to have a libation here:

on the way to denver, we researched a few places for dinner, but again we were getting in past 9pm. thankfully, our cousin penny and her husband charlie, who were putting us up for the night, were gracious enough to make us dinner. honestly, it was so very wonderful to have a home cooked meal after being on the road for hours on end.

dinner at penny + charlie’s, denver, co: brats, ravioli, green beans + asparagus.

this was hands down my favorite dinner. oh and there was ice cream later. happy girl.

6/12

the next morning, emma and i needed to get our caffeine fix, so we walked to the local coffee shop.

coffee at tenn street coffee, denver, co: black coffee.

we returned to yet another homemade meal.

breakfast at penny + charlie’s: eggs, toast, grapefruit and kefir. (no photo)

we stopped in glenwood springs, co for lunch. emma found the spot. if anyone knows me, they know i enjoy the pig. this place was made for me.

lunch at the pullman food + drink, glenwood springs, co: miyagi oyster with cranberry fennel vinaigrette, pulled pork in balsamic bbq, homemade talera bread, tempura caramelized onions and asparagus, salad with house vinaigrette.

definitely the best lunch of the trip.

once we made it to moab, we were again a bit stifled on choices for places for dinner, but ended up with the safe bet. italian.

dinner at pasta jay’s, moab, ut: caesar salad, margherita pizza, chianti.

meh. average italian, but really not that bad. the chianti was the star of this meal.

6/13

we had walked by this place on our way to dinner the previous night and commented on the possibility of having eggs benny before hitting the road in the morning.

breakfast at jailhouse cafe, moab, ut: coffee, eggs benedict, bacon, more coffee.

this place was in contention for best breakfast on the trip. damn good bacon, and non-intelligentsia coffee.

lunch at goulding’s stagecoach dining hall, monument valley, ut: mini navajo taco.

their idea of ‘mini’ is ridiculous. i think even if kate and i were to have split a ‘mini’ we still would have had intestinal distress regardless.

dinner from sonic, tuba city, az: cheeseburger, fries. (eaten in our motel room)

no comment.

6/14

breakfast at cameron trading post, cameron, az: red ranchero cheese eggs benedict, hashbrowns.

good try. not what i needed on top of a sonic dinner the night before though.

lunch at bright angel dining room, grand canyon village, az: roasted red pepper soup, arizona caesar salad, grand canyon pilsner.

the soup wasn’t bad, but super salty. the salad was a huge disappointment. once again, the beer was the winner of this lunch.

dinner at plaza bonita mexican restaurant, tusayan, az: pollo mole, grand canyon pilsner.

emma: ‘is it good?’

me: ‘no.’

lots and lots of laughter.

6/15

breakfast from american flyer coffee, williams, az: cinnamon roll, black coffee.

yup…delicious sugar high.

lunch at ludlow cafe, ludlow, ca: tuna melt, peach pie.

i had been here previously while working on the john mayer #roadtripmusicvideo, so i knew what was to be expected as far as the tuna melt. i didn’t get to taste the homemade pie on that trip, unfortunately i did on this one. fail. fail. fail. the crust tasted like something from a communion cracker i once had when i was eight, and the fruit was obviously from a can. blech.

obviously this trip was not about the food. it was so much more than that. when we reached los angeles we had all learned a few more things about each other: kate rules at off-road driving, and music education; emma makes high pitched noises whenever she sees a cute animal; and i think we can all agree…i am a huge food snob.

often by the time i am in need of a trip to the farmers market, i am usually left with a few remaining random things in my fridge. in this episode of ‘cleanin’ out my fridge’ i luckily found the makings for chorizo tacos:

  • chorizo sausage (from lindy + grundy)
  • corn tortillas
  • green + red cabbage, chopped thin
  • green onion, sliced thin
  • cilantro, chopped well
  • adobe chile sauce
  • sour cream

remove chorizo from the casing (if there is one), and sauté, breaking up into small pieces until cooked through. meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 275º, and place the corn tortillas right on the rack to warm. divide sausage among the tortillas, and garnish with cabbage, green onion, cilantro, chile sauce and sour cream.

the only thing that would have made these better was if the tortillas were from guisado’s, and not from crummy whole foods. i can only hope armando would be impressed with this quick creation.

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