Friday, October 15, 2010


Once in a while it’s good to give your artistic side a little kick start, and go see other artists that are being productive.  So this weekend I attended the LA Brewery Art Walk.   The Brewery Artist Lofts is the largest art colony in the world, and twice a year they host an event where many of the artists open their homes and display their art. 

Though there were so many talented artists showing, there were a few whose works really jumped out at me.  Here are some of my favorites from this year……

Wendy Hall

Wendy does these stunning photographic collages that are printed on transparancies, allowing them to be mounted on any surface or mounted as a light box.  Most of what she had displayed were mounted on copper sheeting, which created even more depth, and accentuated the grittier atmosphere that the collages already portray.

I go to Dave's Studio every time I go to the Brewery. I love the pop art aspect of his reduction linocuts.

Joyce Aysta of Live Your Dreams Designs
I fell in love with these "origami architecture" pop up cards.  The cut outs are so delicate and detailed!  I would mount them in a shadow box and hang them as art.  I'm even thinking of taking one of her classes where she teaches how to do this.

Ben Hoffman

Ben was displaying work from a project called Project1, it's concept being to create a finished image every day of 2010 that was either gallery worthy, honed his craft, or healed his heart.  I think we all can learn a lesson from his self-issued assignment.  Most of us have some sort of art or hobby that makes happy, or a little more fulfilled.  But quite often we get swept up with work and life, and this hobby gets pushed farther and farther down the priority list.  But your happiness should be a priority.  We should, at least once a week, or every other week if we're really that bogged down, do that one thing that makes us happy.  Even if its just an hour or so, work on your own project, nurture your own soul, and feel that high that a sense of accomplishment and pride gives you.

Friday, October 8, 2010


My friend Rachel has been saying for a couple months now that her fig tree out back has been producing far more figs than she knows what to do with.  She unloaded a bag-full to some friends that turned them into jam.  She picks some here and there to eat just as fruit, but mostly these Black Mission figs just fall to the ground and rot.  I’m not normally a fan of figs, as they are a bit too sweet for my taste as fruit, but the last time she mentioned them, I recalled a delicious dish that I had Tinto in West Hollywood that involved figs, bacon, and cheese.  I decided I had to try to make them for myself.

I went over to Rachel’s house, picked some of these beautiful fresh figs, picked up some port from Silverlake Wine (because you need a port good enough to drink as you cook), and headed home to make these decadent treats.



12 Figs (not overly soft), stemmed and half peeled
1 cup Port
6-12 stips of Good Quality Bacon (amount depends on size of figs)
12 Toothpicks, soaked in water

2 medium Scallions, minced
¼ cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
¼ cup Whipped Cream Cheese
1 Tbs Olive Oil


Figs can be eaten peeled or unpeeled, depending on a person’s personal preference.  For this recipe I peeled half of each fig.  The peeled part allowed for the port to soak in, and the rest of the peel gave a firmness that  helped with the ease of wrapping and toothpicking the figs.

1) In a saucepan, combine the figs and the port.  Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

2) While that’s steeping, make the cheese stuffing.  Sauté the minced scallion in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Combine the sautéed scallions with the gruyere and cream cheeses in a small bowl, and set aside.

3) After the figs are done steeping, remove the figs.  Slice each one from stem to end, only cutting half way through.  Stuff each fig with the cheese mixture…..the more the better in my opinion.

4) Wrap each fig with bacon….enough to go around once overlap slightly at the end.  For small and medium figs, half of a strip of bacon is usually perfect.  For larger figs, cut the bacon accordingly.  Use a toothpick the secure the bacon strips.

5) Place the wrapped figs in a non-stick frying pan or skillet,  and cook on medium-high heat until both sides of the bacon are crispy.  To cook the rest of the way, put the whole pan or skillet in a pre-heated oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

My roommate, Malinda, ended up getting home way to late that night, so I refrigerated some of those figs in a bacon blanket, un-cooked, for me to make for her the next day.  They were just as delicious, so now I know preparing these ahead of time for a party is a great time saving option.

By the way, they turned out AMAZING!  It was so fun to see Chris and Malinda’s eyes get huge as they enjoyed their first bite.  That’s what makes cooking worth it to me.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I love animals!
Though I don’t own any at the moment, for fear they’d be neglected with my busy schedule, I really do enjoy them.  I’m not even sure I could hunt animals, though I’m a strangely talented markswoman.  So it made me very happy to discover that my yard is a virtual wild kingdom.  Huge brown squirrels are everywhere, dining on our overly abundant avocado tree.  We have possums, very common all over Southern California. 
A skunk almost sprayed my roommate when Malinda startled it walking out to her car.  And we have a family of raccoons, FIVE babies and a momma, that love to hang out in our trees. 
I was so excited when I saw my first neighborhood raccoon!  I was washing dishes when I looked out the window and Momma Raccoon climb out of the tree and onto our trellis four yards away.  Weeks later I squealed when I went outside to investigate a commotion on our roof, and a little baby raccoon head peaked over the edge of the roof to look at me.
Then, the other night I came home to this……

Apparently these adorable little creatures like to dig, and rather love to attack my succulents.  I had noticed one day that a single plant was taken out of it’s pot and was nowhere to be found, dirt and all.  I was annoyed.  But to come home to this? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  It’s not for lack of food.  They’ve been eating heartily on avocados, I’m sure. 
I cursed those little buggers up and down, then looked up ways to deter them.  I sprinkled Critter Ridder around all of the succulents, with no luck.  I can’t cut down the food source that may be encouraging them to hang around, since I’m renting.  Do I really need to buy coyote urine to spray around?  Gross!  Hell, if that’s going to smell to high heaven I’ll most likely sacrifice the succulents.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


As our Southern California weather is rather indecisive as to what season it wants to fall under, last week some late season warmth prompted me to do some grilling. To go with the NY strip steak I had marinading in my Worcestershire/Dijon/garlic/pepper spread, I wanted to try to whip up some home made potato salad. I was wanting something more on the light, gourmet side, and less on the mayonnaise, typical picnic side. Here is what I came up with……

Red Potato Salad with Truffle Oil


8 Medium Red Potatoes 

1 Medium Shallot, Thinly Sliced
3 Stalks of Celery, Thinly Sliced
½ Cup Fresh Chives, Chopped
3 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Minced
¼ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Truffle Oil
Sea Salt  - To Taste
Cracked Pepper  -  To Taste


1)Cook the potatoes until cooked but slightly crunchy, about 30 minutes.  Let cool a bit and then slice into rounds or half rounds.
2)While the potatoes are cooking make the dressing.  In a bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, thyme and truffle oil.  Mix well.
3)Before serving, combine potatoes, celery, shallots, chives and drizzle with dressing.  Add the cracked pepper and sea salt and toss.  
If you want to make this dish in advance, it is just as delicious cold.  Follow the same directions, then refrigerate.  Serves about 6.

There were only two of us eating, so I had leftovers for days.  Every day it was just as yummy as the first.  And I do believe I may have impressed the person that I was cooking for.  ;)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So the summer is almost over, and my roommate and I finally had our first BBQ. After having gone to many a BBQ this year, I wanted to offer something original in the way of a spiked beverage. Sangria is normally the go-to, but I wanted something more refreshing, and that didn't end up in a nasty hangover the next day from the cheap red wine. What I wanted was the punch sized version on a Pimm's Cup!

Pimm's No. 1, for those of you who don't know, is a gin based liqueur that is popular in England. Ask for a Pimm's cup in a bar, and they'll add to it some ginger ale, lemon, cucumber, mint, and maybe a splash of club soda. It's super yummy and refreshing.

So after perusing the internet for some official Pimm's Cup recipies, this is concoction I came up with for my Pimm's Punch:

1 part (4 cups) Pimm's No. 1
1 part (4 cups) Chamagne (because everything is better with champagne)
2 parts (8 cups) Ginger Ale
1 1/2 Sliced Lemons
2 Sliced Persian Cucumbers (tend to be more flavorful than regular cucumbers) - to taste
5 Sliced Strawberries
Mint - to taste

It's as easy as throwing all the ingredients into a bowl or pitcher, and adding ice. If you want to taste more of the mint, muddling the mint could help. I just sliced it and tossed it in.

The Punch was a HUGE success, and we ended up running out! Two bottles of Pimm's worth of punch! (say that 5 times fast.) It doesn't taste like there's a lot of alcohol in it, but you feel it pretty quickly. And the best headache in the morning! So try it out while the weather is still warm.