Flea Market

I finally made it to the Long Beach Flea Market last week.
I adore these markets, though I don’t let myself go too often for fear of buying in excess. A book here, a vase there, and before I know it, I could very well be a hoarder. Thank goodness A&E’s Hoarders alerted me to this phenomena; I never knew knickknacks could morph into a health hazard.

ANYWAY, since I am not typing this post from under a mound of collectible Tupperware and porcelain cats, I declare myself unscathed from this flea market trip.

There were so many charming, and sometimes odd (i.e. random top hat head, below), things to see that even though I wasn’t buying, I had a blast walking around and finding inspiration in the quirky, beautiful wares. I left with a few small trinkets and a lot great DIY ideas. A lovely way to pass a sunny Sunday morning.

How great is this collection of thermoses? Perfect for stylish school work lunches or as kitchen decoration.

Fire King Jadeite dishes

A table with a metal bin inserted in the middle for cold drinks- genius! I could also imagine using the metal insert as a planter for herbs or succulents.

Salt and pepper shakers. The baby bok choy (at least, that’s what I am imagining it to be) in the lower right hand corner is one of my favs.

An antique baby bathtub and stand. Again, the possibilities are endless! Fill with ice and drinks for a party, use as linen or towel storage, wash your delicates… or small dog in it. A true multi-tasker.


Turkey Meataballs

Without question, Italian American cuisine is my ideal comfort food.

For me, this food will always be associated, first and foremost, with family. Not because I’m Italian (which, actually, I’m not even a smidge of) but because it’s what we always ate on my birthday, and what we asked for whenever Mom was taking requests, and it’s what I crave when I’m home for the holidays. Although my family isn’t Italian, you wouldn’t know it by the shovels of manicotti, penne, and lasagna I grew up on.

More specifically, it’s the red sauce gravy that really satiates. It reminds me of lazy weekends when pots of sauce would be simmering on the stove, bottles of juicy red wine would be opened, invigorating company and conversation, and we’d feast on the hearty meatballs or penne strewn through it.

I made turkey meatballs tonight, and they brought with them that rush of nostalgia and good feelings. Funny how food does that.

Healthier then your classic beef or veal, these turkey meatballs have less fat but stay fantastically moist by incorporating milk-soaked day old bread. They’re light and flavorful. The perfect meal to make for your next family gathering.

• 1.25 lb ground turkey
• 3/4 cup cubed day-old bread, crusts removed (I
used rosemary sourdough, it’s what happened to be
laying around.)
• 1/4-1/2 cup milk or just enough to thoroughly
moisten the bread
• 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pounded with a
bit of salt
• 1 tbs fresh chopped parsley
• 1 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1/8-1/4 cup grated Parmesan
• salt
• fresh ground pepper
• olive oil (for frying)

• 1 small onion, finely minced. Though I adore
onions, I was forced to omit this as my boyfriend
detests them, and worse, can pick any hint of
onion out like a needle in a haystack.
• A pinch of cayenne pepper
• Chopped pine nuts


1. In a small bowl, combine cubed bread and the milk. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Next, squeeze most of the milk out of the soaking bread and add the bread to the meat (along with the minced onion if you are using.) Discard the used milk.
3. Now add the garlic, herbs, egg, and Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Combine all ingredients with your hands. The mixture should feel very moist, but not overly wet. At this point, the smell from the herbs was divine.
4. Roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs, and preheat a heavy skillet on medium.
5. Pour about 1/8-1/4 inch olive oil in the pan. Wet your hand and flick a little water into the hot oil. If it sizzles, it’s hot enough for the meatballs to be added. Toss the meatballs around in the pan so they brown evenly on all sides. You will most likely have to fry in two batches.
6. Cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, but be careful not to overcook, or risk drying out the meat. About 6-8 minutes a batch should do it.
7. Drain the meatballs on a paper towel to soak up excess oil, stir in with your favorite red sauce, pasta, and enjoy!

When the Mood Strikes

Grey, moody clouds greeted me from the window yesterday morning. It rained in L.A., and I loved every minute of it. Small signs of Autumn in a near season-less city.
I miss the dark, shifty weather of Fall in New England, where I grew up. So in an attempt to recreate the perfect crawl-under-the-covers-and-stay-there-all-day feeling, here are a few cloudy images from around the web.

Cloud cocktail napkins on Etsy and note card from Clay Wood and Cotton.
LL Bean Signature boots (photo via A Continuous Lean), Cloud and Umbrella earrings from this Etsy shop, and J.Crew Rainy Day Ballet Flats.

And last but not least, a vintage wool cape from GingerRootVintage, also on Etsy. Between the easy drape of the coat, the rich camel color, and the detailing of the squared-off buttons, this really is the perfect Autumn accessory.

Wantist: the answer to your gift giving SOS

Not that I’m trying to add to the angst of ALREADY seeing Christmas cards and decorations on store shelves… but, ahem… the holidays are only a short 2 months away.
For those of you who just broke out in anxiety based hives, and can’t possibly think of the stresses of the holiday season yet, please think of this as a helpful post for all those October and November birthdays/anniversaries you have coming up.

Each year, I attempt to craft, bake, or sew my Christmas gifts but never quite get it together in time. A lowly Martha Stewart wanna be. But this season, I’m determined to make it work, and have begun digging around the web for early inspiration.

That’s when I stumbled on Wantist. It’s a brilliant site that offers a curated collection of gift ideas depending on the type of gift, and style of the person, you’re shopping for. I’ve been using it mostly as inspiration for my homemade gifts-to-be, but everything listed is just so cool that I can easily imagine getting all my shopping done from there should my DIY plans fall through (once again.)

My personal favorites:

Does anyone else out there make their gifts? If so, please share! I’d love to hear what far more craftier people then I are up to.


As you can see from the title of this post, I’m feeling very clever today.
So clever, in fact, that I know I should spare you, innocent reader, of any more word play, bad puns, and off-kilter metaphors.

Onto the beets.

I scrounged together leftovers from last week’s Farmer’s Market and came up with this roasted beet and spinach salad.

To roast the beets, trim the greens down to an inch or two. Save the greens for a future recipe. Then, either wrap each root tightly in tin foil, or place the beets together in a baking dish with 1/8 inch of water. Cover tightly and roast for 30-60 minutes at 400 degrees, or, until the beet is tender and can be easily pierced with a knife. After cooling, the beets are no trouble to peel. Discard the skin and stem. The beet can be sliced or diced for the salad, depending on preference.

Mixed with baby spinach, the sweet, earthy veg really hit the spot. However, the star of the salad turned out to be the creamy horseradish dressing.

My standard salad-for-one technique of mixing the dressing in the bottom of the bowl I’m about to eat from (less dishes.. ya know) doesn’t necessitate measuring, but imagine making your basic vinaigrette with an added squeeze of creamy horseradish for flavor, a small dollop of creme fraiche for consistency, and a sprinkle each of Herbs de Provence, fresh ground pepper, and chunky sea salt.

I ate up every. last. bite.

As an added bonus, I got to hide this under the trash in the kitchen.

The beet root sure does make a convincing rat tail, no?? I really got my boyfriend going for a minute. Just getting in the Halloween spirit around here! It’s fun to act half your age every once in a while 🙂

Evolution of a Dish: Roast Chicken

As a frugal cook, roast chicken is one of my all time favorite things to make. It supplies the basic ingredients for a week’s worth of meals, which is pretty great when you live in Southern California and the thermometer hit a ghastly 98 degrees today and you can’t bear the thought of turning your oven on again, not ever, for as long as you live.

There’s the juicy, herbal-scented meat of the roast chicken itself which can be made into a gazillion different sandwiches or salads, the just-out-of-the-oven crispy, salty, skin that puffs up ready to be peeled from the steaming meat, and last but not least, there’s the bones. Full of gelatinous goodness. Homemade chicken broth simply cannot be beat, and the carcass of a roasted chicken is a thrifty girl’s necessary first ingredient.

Though some argue that starting broth from a new, raw chicken yields the best results, I’ve found that as long as you don’t pick your carcass dry there’s still plenty of meat left clinging to the bones to flavor the broth. Besides, boiling the whole chicken would mean no crispy skin. And no crispy skin does not a happy cook make.

Anyway, back to the title of this post. I wanted to show just how much of a culinary workhorse a roast chicken can be.

This week, what started as an hearty roast chicken and roasted root vegetable dinner on Sunday…

…turned into chicken stock by Monday.

And a healthy chicken veggie soup by Tuesday.

I used Alice Waters’s recipe from The Art of Simple Food for both the chicken and the broth. Though I turned to Chef Waters in this case, the instructions were basic- no real surprises here, and I’m sure your Mom’s tried and true recipe would work equally as well!

**And in case you wondering, the green tinge you see on the roast are herbs stuffed under the skin (I used rosemary and marjoram.) They provide a great aromatic quality to the meat, and are not signs of a Frankenstein deformity on my precious chicken thank you very much.

Retro Kick

I’ve found myself on an unintentional 60s era art binge. Maybe its my latent longing for the next Mad Men season, but lately, it seems every where I turn, there it is.

On a recent trip to the Getty, I was mesmerized by the David Hockney prints. As one of the pioneers of 60s pop art, Hockney is emblematic of the times, and there’s something clean and vivid about his work that I just love.
David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)

David Hockney, Big Splash

I’ve also been eating 1960s set movies up with a spoon. The societal agitation of the time along with distinctive fashion and design make for so much eye candy. I mean, look at that turban! The bouffants! Those cuffed jeans at the drive in movie!

Harold and Maude, 1971

An Education, 2009

The Graduate, 1967

A Single Man, 2009

And while 60s inspired fashion is EVERYWHERE these days and I really should be so damn sick of those thick-rimmed hipster glasses by now, my enrapture continues. However, I don’t dare elaborate on the fashion of the day because 1. I wear hiking boots to run errands and therefore have no authority on the subject 2. it’s too much information to cover in a lousy blog post.
That said, I cannot help myself from sharing this Yves Saint Laurent number. It’s too good not to.

Is anyone else on a retro kick at the moment?

A Farmers Market Lunch

One of the blessings of living in Los Angeles is beautiful year-round weather, which leads to a foodie/cook’s ultimate dream: lush, abundant, reliable farmers markets. It seems like you are never further then a stone’s throw away from a market in this city, and I’m not complaining. I love these markets, and try my best to make it each week to stock up on fresh produce.

Although organics are sometimes pegged as too expensive or inaccessible, from my experience, I’ve found farmers markets’ prices to be pretty competitive, especially when it comes to greens and herbs. And the produce tastes better. And you’re able to talk to the farmers that grow it, and in turn, can discuss how to best cook it, get help in picking the ripest fruit and veggies, etc etc.

On this trip, I gathered the necessities to assemble a simple, produce-centric lunch.

My bounty:

Which became:

Wild arugula salad with a homemade balsamic dressing made from Farmers Market Italian balsamic vinegar and California olive oil with a scattering of poached chicken mixed in. On the side is an open-faced sourdough sammie smeared with artisanal goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes.

It’s summer on a plate and a flavorful light lunch!

Nerd Alert, Ocean Inspired

While sailing last week, I was constantly reminded of one of my very favorite novels (and for a proud bookworm (ahem, nerd) naming a favorite book is a bold statement):
Chita: A Memory of Last Island by Lafcadio Hearn.

This novel doesn’t seem to be well known, I only happened to encounter it in a New Orleans Lit class in college, but it’s truly one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever come across. The story centers around the islands south of New Orleans, in the Gulf. Much of the language is therefore ocean-inspired, and it reads like poetry: vivid, expressive, rhythmic.

Take this passage in which Hearn is describing the view from an ocean vessel:

-all day long had the cloudless sky revealed through all its exquisite transparency that inexpressible tenderness which no painter and no poet can ever re-image- that unutterable sweetness which no art of man may ever shadow forth, and which none may ever comprehend,- though we feel it to be in some strange way akin to the luminous and unspeakable charm that makes us wonder at the eyes of a woman when she loves.

or this one:

The sea lived: it could crawl backward and forward; it could speak!- it only feigned deafness and sightlessness for some malevolent end. Thenceforward she feared to fnd herself alone with it. Was it not at her that it strove to rush, muttering, and showing its white teeth,… just because it knew that she was all by herself?… Si quieres aprender a orar, entra en el mar!

Writing like this just makes me feel good.
Do you have a favorite book or passage?

Adventures at Sea

This past weekend, the lovely Emily and Westbrook, Captain and First Mate of the Pistachio, invited Matthew and me for a sailing trip to Catalina Island.
It was one of the better weekends I’ve had in a very long time; great company, beautiful sights, and although the island is a mere 22 miles off the coast of L.A., I felt much much further away.

Due to high winds on Saturday, we made it to Catalina in just five hours and were anchored and cracking open our first beers by sunset. The rest of the weekend flew by, with much ocean swimming, a gorgeous hike with Emily and Westbrook’s two dogs Puglsey and Reggie, and some competitive Yahtzee.

With the four of us (well, six including our canine friends) sleeping under one tiny roof, quarters were tight, but that was half the fun. It was like ocean camping, and a good reminder of how very little you actually need.

Emily and Westbrook live full time on the boat, and at times, I truthfully don’t know how they do it. But it’s weekends like these that show me why. Less closet space seems like a small sacrifice to make for being able to live somewhere that can take you anywhere. Emily has a blog documenting her boat-life, called Pistachio At Sea, which you can read here.
So thank you again, Pistachio, for such a memorable trip. Until next time!!