Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kotzebue, O Kotzebue

Kotzebue, AK was a very, very different moviemaking experience. This was for a film called "Salmonberries," which very few have seen unless you're a serious k.d. lang fan. Kotzebue is 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and well, it's cold. No, really, it's cold. You could put ice cream on a window ledge indoors, and it would be fine. Our group took over the only motel in town, and we had the true Northern Exposure experience. I got to take a snowmobile to the bank, which was pretty awesome, and we all went out to see the Northern Lights in the wee hours, which is an experience I'll never forget.

I met my best friend on this job, and one of her favorite moments is refered to as the Snowmobile Incident. We were riding a snowmobile around the tundra and we got stuck. I hopped off to see what was wrong, and hopped into snow up to my boobs. Yes, the snowmobile is on top of the snow, but I am looking straight into my friend's foot. She is laughing her head off and it was like the scene in "A Christmas Story," when the little brother can't get up with his snowsuit on. I could not get out of this hole. Yes, in case you were wondering, I eventually did. It took a while.

Another friend had her husband send care packages from Dean & DeLuca, so we would concoct pasta recipes in the dye pots on a hot plate and have black olive tapenade on water crackers. Alcohol would be sent on the plane from Fairbanks, but there was never really a schedule, so you got it when you got it. The craft service tray consisted of catsup packets, tea bags and mini-Snickers. The wardrobe trailer was a pink plastic sled from the hardware store. Playing Bingo with the locals, lots of parties and craziness that was simply one of a kind. I miss times and film experiences like this, and am afraid they are no more.

So, now it's getting cooler and I'm thinking about concocting again. Here is my take on White Chicken Chili, using a crock pot. It came out well, but was even better the next day. There are so many recipes on-line for this, so dear reader, I would check them out and use one that suits you. I also made Ensalada Rosaura, which is linked to the blog title. This was yummy, especially if you like a simple salad with Mexican flavors. Please try this, as it was easy to make and delicious.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Me and Martha Stewart, 1989

Remember that number in Bye Bye Birdie called "Ed Sullivan?" I always thought there should be some sort of reverant theme song for MS, orchestral with clouds parting and everyone in khaki and a button down shirt. I first learned about Martha from my roommate in 1989. We watched a PBS show that had Martha doing Thanksgiving, by herself, at her Connecticut farmhouse. Also, she was getting sloshed on camera. At least, that's how I remember it. And, croquembouche...she was very, very big on the croquembouche (recipe linked to title). But she was Martha in all her Martha-ness, and for someone like me, a divorced kid from Santa Cruz, this was the ideal with which I pressed my nose to the window. Again, this is early MS, not the Cybill Shepherd version.

Someone I worked with was getting married to a wealthy girl, and Martha was their wedding coordinator. For nine months, I heard about the planning of this wedding. An Empire State Building cake by Sylvia Weinstock, complete with King Kong, etc., etc. The wedding was at the bride's home in a bedroom community of NYC, and a few of the groom's friends were invited to the event. I was in my mid-20's, so all of this was a big deal. Flying to NY, getting the right outfit, figuring out trains, getting to see Martha in her glory, all of it. I chose a very smart light wool suit and heels...people, this was the late 80's, so work with me. Oh, and the wedding was in early September. Wool, heat, humidity, let the fun begin.

My guest and I get on the train, a little verklempt. But, there would be cabs when we got there, so we could try and cool down before arriving. Well, no cabs. No cabs two towns over. Nothing. So, we walked...not five miles in the snow, but two miles in heels and humidity. We finally got to the family manse, and you can imagine how glamorous we looked. I rang the doorbell, and there was Martha, in a wraparound skirt and espadrilles. All we wanted was a bathroom, but the guests weren't allowed in the house. She directed us, with disdain I might add, to the portosans around the back. And that, my friends, was the beginning and really, the end.

I didn't grow up poor, but I didn't have a silver spoon, either. It was quite a show to see, as the family spent an enormous amount of money for this shindig. A dining platform was built for a sit down dinner for 350 people. Waiters passing around mint juleps, making me wonder when I left for Kentucky. It was truly incredible. The groom's friends, well, we all were seated at one table in the corner. I think you get the drift. We had fun, left for the city and its various bars, and kept our red-headed stepchild party going into the wee hours.

So, in honor of this event, I made the Pumpkin Ice Box Pie, in Martha's Everyday Food magazine. And, like that evening in 1989, it was good, not great, and a little runny.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cleaning House

I've needed to do a lot of house cleaning, both interior and exterior. The exterior is easy, as long as I can motivate my lazy ass. Here are some before and after pix of my kitchen cabinets. While this ended up taking maybe 30 minutes to do, I started wondering why I've procrastinated on this and a lot of other house projects. No more excuses are allowed, so the next big project is my guest room, aka House of Junk. I renovated my house a year ago (!), and there are still some boxes to go through, art to hang, stuff to put away and paper to shred. I guess you could say I'm a slow learner.

Tonight, I made Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Mushrooms. Set the oven to 425 degrees, peel and chop 2 lbs. of sweet potatoes, 1 onion and some mushrooms. Toss in olive oil, dried thyme, salt and pepper (I used my Jalapeno Salt, again), and roast for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. They came out with some crunch, and are delicious! I'm trying some things out before Thanksgiving, and this one is a keeper. Plus, I enjoy peeling potatoes...there's something comforting and old fashioned about it. I usually put myself in a 50's movie, with an apron that has some rickrack on it and cat's eye glasses. However, wiping mushrooms with a damp paper towel...how many times have we seen this in a recipe? This is a pain in the ass, and really, does this clean it? I may be unemployed, but I am going back to the prepackaged and cleaned mushrooms. Cleaning mushrooms DOES NOT fit into my 50's movie scenario.

As for the interior house cleaning, it's all about how I'm handling and or going to handle my stress. I would love to identify myself with this picture of Fred...he looks like he's experiencing Nirvana. I just finished a tough three-week gig, and it took a lot out of me. Any suggestions on how to deal with it when it's happening, and how to relieve it when you get home would be great. But, seriously, I already have a prescription for a certain something, so I need suggestions that don't involve greenery.

Tomorrow, the long awaited Martha Stewart story...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scary Movies & Comfort Food

This is my favorite time of year...I love fall, especially a leaves changing, brisky East Coast kind of fall. Here in Los Angeles, we had 90-100 degrees yesterday, and 70 mph winds tonight, but at least the temperature is lower. And, a few days until Halloween and all that brings. I've got "The Haunting" on in the background, which is truly my favorite scary movie. I love the scares that happen in your head, like "The Innocents," although "The Shining" combines that with some serious bloody creepiness. And, "Session 9," another one high on my playlist. When I worked on "The Cider House Rules," some of our major sets were built in the Northampton State Mental Hospital, which is also where "Session 9" was filmed. "Session 9" was made on a very low budget, but packs a wallop of fright. How could a movie set in an old mental hospital where the clean up crew finds old session tapes of doctors and their patients??? Please check it out.

I know I've been remiss in posting, but hopefully, this will make up for it. Tonight's cooking was my adaption of the Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf (recipe linked to blog title). I've made some adjustments over the years, which include using 1 lb. each of ground turkey breast and dark meat, with 2 pounds of hot or sweet turkey Italian sausage. I use sundried tomato paste in a tube instead of the canned tomato paste, as I hate using a half of a can and nothing to do with the leftover paste. This monster bakes at a low temp for a long time, but is soooo worth it and makes the best sandwiches the day after. Thanks, Ina, and I want to be you when I grow up.

My Roasted Brussel Sprouts can be done at the same time as the meatloaf, too. I bless Trader Joe's quite a bit, bit I really said hallelujah when I found pre-cleaned bags of sprouts there on Sunday. Tossed two bags of brussel sprouts with 1 bag of sliced cremini mushrooms, 1 or 2 thinly sliced shallots, and thinly sliced garlic (to taste). Stir in olive oil, salt and pepper (I had some jalapeno salt, which I used sparingly) and through all into a roasting pan. Your options are to put on the bottom rack of your oven, with the meatloaf on the middle rack, and bake for an hour together. Or, if you're just going with the sprouts, roast at 425 or 450 degrees, and keep an eye on 'em. This method should only take about 15-25 minutes, depending on how you like them. Once the pan is out of the oven, sprinkle with a little red wine vinegar and eat up. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sick, sick, sick....end scene

Sorry to have stalled on the blog, but have been undone by germs and unfortunately, diabetes. For all my friends out there, if you have to go to a MPTF Health Center, please wear a hazmat suit, because I have caught a doozy of a cold from either Woodland Hills or Westside.

So, once I'm back to normal, I'm going to make a few changes in my experiment, mostly with using low-carb and or sugar-free recipes. Any tips or recipe suggestions, please bring it on!

I have found IMHO the best yogurt, Siggi's. Unfortunately, I found it at Whole Paycheck, but it is sooo good and uses agave as a sweetener. The Orange-Ginger, in particular is super. Crystal Light popsicles have the consistency of a granita, and are yummy, too. I have only seen them at Ralph's, locally, but am keeping an eye out elsewhere. And, I add mandarin oranges to sugar-free Jello in Strawberry Banana or Orange flavors, and this comes out pretty well.

And so, my sugar and carb days are over. It's a line I've said before, but now, must be carried to fruition. Hope to post something less dour by the end of the week, when I've kicked this cold.

Monday, August 31, 2009

End of Summer

I feel the summer just raced by. I'm a little undone that it's the last day of August. What did I do? Why do I continue to procrastinate? Oh, well, what's not done is not done.

I've had this recipe stuck on my fridge since June. Asparagus Summer Salad, from Sunset Magazine, is another delicious veggie salad with a lemon/Dijon dressing. And, I toasted my first nuts today. Really, first time. There is no excuse.

However, I did make some adjustments. I forgot the chives and cilantro, so I used Italian parsley and basil in the dressing. And, I put all the dressing ingredients in my mini food processor, as I wasn't in the best shape for whisking. See prior post about mandolines, blood and bandaids...

This is definitely a new addition to the repertoire. Is it dinner time yet?

I'm germinating on my encounter with Martha Stewart in 1989. Should be posting that tale in the near future.
And, I am linking each website's resume to the title of each post. I'm so tricky...

Mandolines - Instruments of Terror

Let's talk about the mandoline, shall we? I just got my first one, and while working on one of the recipes below, did a great number on my finger. And, where were the bandaids? Nowhere. Excellent. So, my friends, my advice is to have the first aid kit close by when using this device.

No blood made it into my recipes. Really, people, so ghoulish...

I started this session with a recipe from the NY Times, Summer Squash, Pea and Red Onion Salad with Feta. There was no picture for comparison, so you will have to settle with mine. This was wonderful, very light and lemony. If there is no mandoline in your house, slicing the squash thinly will be fine. Also, I used yellow squash, but will try this with yellow zucchini next time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Martha & Rachael

First, here is the recipe and photo from Everyday Food for Lemon Zucchini Cornmeal cookies. Couldn't find cornmeal in Ralph's Supermarket, so I used Jiffy Cornbread mix instead. These are yummy, and for the most part, look like their professional photo, excluding my free-form edges.

Had to buy a box grater since I only have a microplane. Almost shredded my fingers, as my new purchase is super sharp! And, since I was in Crate & Barrel, I bought a springform pan, a large whisk, and a mandoline. Thank God for gift cards!

I wanted to post the Everyday Food link for the recipe, and low and behold, found at least 20 other blogs talking about this recipe...and no link. So, this is going to be an educational process for me...

And, can I talk Rachael Ray for a second? When she was first on the Food Network, I watched. Her show was entartaining and you could see that she was making meals in thirty minutes. However, I cannot watch her now or listen to her ridiculous abbreviations for ingredients and just plain words! I tried to stay up last night to see her on David Letterman, knowing that the old Dave would have been his snarky best. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I fell asleep and missed the new Dave, which probably wasn't snarky. Oh, well.

Well, I will admit to buying her magazine occasionally, as I am a magazine whore. I made her Surf and Turf tacos (pix above) last night:


A couple of things...the spice mixture includes garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and paprika. I omitted the paprika, as it gives me a raging headache, and added more of the other three ingredients. You toss the steak in the spices, and this came out amazingly well! I also used shrimp instead of snapper, tossed in the spices, and these were delicious, too. The sour cream and lime juice mixture was fine, but the cabbage tossed in lime juice was overkill. I would toss red cabbage and red onion with a vinaigrette of red wine, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Okay, so maybe I'll slow down on bashing RR, as these tacos were very good.

Still trying to figure out blogging and photos an layout, oh my. Suggestions and patience are much appreciated.

Breaking my blogging cherry, so to speak

I went to Chino Farms, finally. Chino Farms, in Rancho Santa Fe, is owned and operated by the Chino family. They grow and sell the most beautiful produce I've ever seen.

I got some bi-colored corn, different squashes, lemon thyme, strawberries to die for, jalapenos, green beans, and fennel. Chino Farms is known for their strawberries, and I concur. These little gems were so delicious, and their flavor is something I don't find with strawberries from Whole Paycheck or any other organic grocer. Worth the 2-hour drive just for them!

My friend, Christy the chef, gave me a great idea about the corn. As a single person, who wants to shuck, clean, boil or grill? So much time, blah blah blah. Well, per her instructions, I shucked and cleaned the ears, rinsed them, wrapped in plastic wrap and microwaved for 2-3 minutes. Let me tell you, that is one of the best tips I've ever received, as this was the perfect and easy way to cook corn on the cob with no effort. Christy = genius!

I've been a bit obsessed with the Vietnamese Corn Salad from Susan Feniger's Street (http://www.eatatstreet.com/). This has corn, scallions, pork belly and a lovely vinegar based sauce, and damn it, I cannot find thie recipe anywhere! So, I tried making my version, which looked like this. Corn, scallions, peppers, fish sauce, soy sauce, oil, a little butter, and zucchini, but no pork belly. It came out well, but not a match to Street's version. I am going to try this again, with Chinese black vinegar, to see if that makes a change.

Any suggestions are welcome....