There are obsessions and then there are cooking obsessions. The first kind can land you in counseling (and occasionally behind bars), the second will blow through your kitchen like a tempest, leaving every pot, pan, knife, cutting board, baking sheet and bowl lying in your sink like debris. I developed my first cooking obsession in the seventh grade after taking Wilton Cake Decorating classes with Debbie, the woman I babysat for. I learned how to make buttercream icing and transform it into pretty pansies and roses, shells and, of course, all of my friends’ names. Every time I made I cake I left icing fingerprints—leafy green and daffodil yellow—to dry on the kitchen drawers, the refrigerator handle, the doorknob and even the mailbox. By eighth grade the obsession had started to lose its sweetness, and I started scraping every inch of that pound of powdered sugar and Crisco off of each cake before I ate it. 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.
Work. It doesn’t go away. If you’re planning a vacation, you have to do more of it, in a shorter period of time, so that you don’t miss any deadlines when you’re gone. When you get back, you have to catch up on all the work you missed while you were away, quickly negating the relaxing vacation you worked so hard for.
Problem is, we’re a culture that puts way more value on hard work than we do on play. We talk about how many jobs we have or how busy we are with work like it’s a badge of honor, like our exhaustion is something to be proud of. We look at people who live to play with disdain, but their easy smiles tell a different story. I’ve lived among them. I’ve been one, albeit a bad one (I always worked at least two jobs), living in Tahoe for years. And I’ve got to tell you there’s a lot of work that goes into a playful life, it’s just tempered with more rewards, more balance.
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
I invented the root beer float when I was five or six years old. I was at a birthday party at the Ground Round, staring into my glass of soda, contemplating how to make my plain vanilla ice cream taste better. And then it dawned on me. And I dumped the ice cream in the cup, watched the fizz build and then started to suck down the creamy soda through my straw. My friends watched on in awe. Continue reading
The East Coaster in me hates the crunchy granola hippie part of me. It’s true. She thinks that the combination of rolled oats, dried fruit and nuts kissed with honey is silly. And weak. The East Coaster in me thinks I should eat egg on a roll. With Bacon. Every day. And I don’t blame her. By most accounts, a fresh Kaiser roll with fried egg, butter and bacon, dusted with salt and pepper, is a very satisfying way to start the day. It can be easily eaten on-the-go, out of a brown paper bag, and goes great with a light and sweet cup of coffee. But I’ve lived in California too long. I enjoy my leisure too much. In the warm California sun I’ve learned to sit quietly and listen as my teeth grind each cluster, sounding like rocks rolling in a polisher. I like granola out of hand on a hike in the winter green mountains of Los Angeles and served with tangy Greek yogurt and a drizzle of local honey at the breakfast table.But it hasn’t always been that simple. Food has always defined me–the urban intellectual battling the laid-back, outdoorsy mountain girl competing for dominance over my brain and stomach. Continue reading
I blame my boyfriend. I hadn’t watched a full baseball game in years before we met, but since the Sox have been on our TV every day since April, it’s been hard not to get into it. Now it’s game three in baseball’s American League Championships and I’ve moved past biting my nails and am on to my fingers. We religiously checked the score while at a friend’s wedding in Ohio Saturday night, sneaking out to get an inning-by-inning summary from a fellow Sox fan watching in San Francisco, then nearly got our butts kicked at the bar after the wedding as the game went into extra innings. Tonight’s entire game has been as grueling the Saturday’s tenth and eleventh (the Sox are currently down by two in the seventh and the series is tied 1-1). If I don’t get something crunchy and sweet soon, typing may become impossible.