Anyone who tells you Seasonal Affective Disorder is a load of crap should be subjected to a Pacific Northwest winter. Eugene, Oregon, where I went to graduate school, layered days upon days of glary, gossamer grey light. It’s not that it rained that much there. Don’t get me wrong, it rained. But the greyness was what was most oppressive, climate-coated emotional shackles. I prefer the monotony of 300 days of sunshine. Blue skies, blue skies with puffy white clouds, blue skies and wind-whipped icicle cold air, as long as there’s sunshine, I’m happy.
Which is to say, that my least favorite month living in Southern California is June. The hazy, foggy mornings that fall under the umbrella of June Gloom are such a downer. I find it hard to wake up, hard to concentrate, hard to do anything but laze around and watch baseball. And since May Grey seems to precede June Gloom with more frequency than it used to, by half way through June I’m cranky as all get out. And by the behavior of my fellow Angelenos, I’d say it’s getting to them too.
Fortunately, I’ve learned that the shortest route to an attitude adjustment has to be ice cream. Continue reading
Strawberry-Rhubarb Clafoutis catches some rays at breakfast
Sometimes I get a little over-zealous at the farmers’ market, especially in the late-Spring. I stock up on gorgeous gem-colored cherries, tangy-sweet blueberries, pints of radiant red strawberries, baby beets and rainbow chard, forgetting I made dinner plans or agreed to go to a wine tasting later in the week. As I’m unloading my bags and stuffing my crisper until it’s spilling out the seams like Jack Sprat, I realize I’ve bought way more than I’ll have time to eat without a little strategizing. (And sadly there are weeks I don’t realize this until I the strawberries begin looking like a fifth grade science experiment.)
Strawberries from Harry’s Berries@ the Hollywood Farmers’ Market
Sometimes I think I want to just throw in the towel. Writing is hard work, and some days the last thing I want to do, after a full day writing and editing for work, is to sit in front of the computer while the last hours of sunshine and warmth recede into purplish sunsets. To me a bad day writing is like a bad day cooking—you’ve still got something you created in front of you, but do you really want to eat it? Continue reading
Murcotts at Burkart Farms, Hollywood Farmers’ Market, Murcott Olive Oil Ice Cream
The pile of Murcotts at Burkhart’s farmers’ market stand shrank a little this week, the stack looking more like a pile of bright orange tennis balls left behind on the playground than winter’s citrus bounty. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, you can see the stand above, and the selection is far from paltry. But I’m waxing a little poetic this morning about winter’s waning. There are probably only a few more weeks left in Murcott season, and I’m a little melancholy. I almost packed up my sweaters in defiance of Mother Nature, hoping the razzing would prolong the season just a couple more weeks. But it looks like our wedding is going to be next spring, instead of the fall, and I couldn’t afford to piss her off. I may want more Murcotts now, but next April I want warm days and mild evenings and mountains of springtime produce to help execute the dinner menu that’s slowly evolving in my head. Continue reading
Something happened while I was waiting for blood oranges. My friend Suzy brought me a giant bag full of Ruby Red grapefruits from her parents’ house in Palm Springs. Juicy, sweet and wonderfully tangy, these were some of the best grapefruits I’d had in years.
Do you remember when the cupcake was just a lowly children’s birthday party treat—just yellow Betty Crocker cake with some shelf-stabilized, not-even-sure-if-it-contains-cocoa chocolate frosting? It was simpler then, before New York’s Magnolia Bakery threw down the first whisk in the cupcake wars. There was no sneaking off into the bathroom to eat a Sprinkles carrot cake cupcake where no one could see you lick off all the cream cheese frosting first, no hiding the pink cardboard boxes from your coworkers in the bottom drawer of your desk, no snatching the paper-wrapped delights out of a little girl’s hand saying you just want a bite… Continue reading
Fall is by far my favorite season and, since the trees here refuse to play dress-up in their crimson, persimmon and gold-colored October wardrobe like a stubborn child refusing to have fun, it’s the one I have to work the most to capture. Autumn comes in from the edges in Southern California. It’s most obvious in the morning—when the light is a little more slanted, illuminating the palm trees and mountains to the east with a pumpkin-tinge—and in the evening, when Orion rises in the sky, the stars on his belt sparkling like Paris Hilton’s bling. It creeps in at the farmers’ markets too, with apples and winter squashes peppering the farmers’ tables along with grapes and figs and dates.
With just 20 minutes remaining in Battle Apple I knew I was toast. I hadn’t made my apple vinaigrette, the batter for my apple fritters or heated my fry oil. Across fthe kitchen island stood my fellow food blogger and Foodbuzz Iron Chef challenger, Foodwoolf’s Brooke Burton, looking as relaxed as if she’d just come back from a beach vacation. And worst of all? The sweet-tangy smell of apples, caramelized sugar and cinnamon was making me hungry.
The competition seemed simple. Choose an ingredient at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market to plan a 3-course meal around. Each blogger-chef would have two hours to prepare their food, which would be judged on taste, plating and originality by a panel of food savvy professionals. But less than 24 hours before we were to take up our knives, we suddenly found ourselves without a battlefield, for the second time.
Last month, while I was researching a story on the Best Ice Cream in Los Angeles for Serious Eats I had the pleasure of hanging out at Tara Kolla’s Silver Lake Farms for the afternoon. It was there, with the bees buzzing around four different varieties of mint and picture-perfect roses that I first tried epazote, plucked fresh from a tall mint-like plant. I rolled the spiky green leaves between my fingers to extract some of the Mexican herb’s perfume, which was quite pungent, almost petrol-like, and spicy. I took a bite and was intrigued by its zesty, fennel and coriander-like flavor. I couldn’t get it out of my head. All I kept thinking was, this would be good with citrus. Continue reading
Tomato season has officially begun and I’m a woman obsessed. All of the delicious, funky-looking heirloom varieties scattered across the tables at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market last Sunday tempted me like Tribbles. They were so fresh. They smelled so good intoxicating. And then I tried one, the juice dripping from my chin and between my fingers. Before I knew it, my bag was overflowing with Cherokee Purples, Golden Jubilees, Brandywines, Marvel Stripes and Black Crimsons from Tutii Frutti Farms, all bumping up against each other in the hot August sun. Continue reading