Monday, August 31, 2009
But with the acreage charred, the air quality is what you would expect when the skies are khaki beige. Not good anywhere in the LA Basin.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
You have to see the pizza peel my husband crafted from spare walnut and cherry.
The sheen on the peel comes from being buffed in butcher block oil.
The hot weather is a good time to hunt around for little improvements. The painted tin sign, a remembrance from a trip, is so much more attractive now that it is held in the carved frame that repeats the center star tones. Before it was framed- it was just this dark looking hole that didn't do justice to the artwork and sentiment.
Jill at Baxter's Frameworks is a doll to work with. I would say that even if she hadn't let me hang around in the air conditioned store as we checked other framing possibilities.
The trio of Our Lady of Guadalupe™ floribunda roses are loving this heatwave. Amazing how deceptively delicate they appear while bearing the full brunt of late August afternoons in Southern California.
Me- I think this is a great time to be in menopause. How would anyone ever notice a hot flash?
The lovely and luminous Jackson & Perkins rose is a 'cause' rose- 5% of net sales support Hispanic College Fund scholarships. Available through J&P or through better nurseries.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"Lydia, I don't know if you know this, but we have mutual friends and they say you don't like me very much."
Where TV and Radio blasted feelings meant to frighten the audience regarding "Obamacare"- Congressman Miller sent some simple advice in his constituent newsletter- ask your doctor what it will mean to your family if the bill is implemented.
The Health Care Forum he hosted last night at the Nixon Library was truly impressive. In two weeks, his staff was able to secure comfortable accommodations for the first 700 people to request information or to express concern regarding HR 3200. Those on the waiting list were advised.
Information was ample and organized. The actual bill- where else to find it- and a 5 page fully annotated synopsis of concerns was available. Two doctors advised the audience of what the bill if implemented as written would mean to their most special interest group- their patients. They expressed the belief that it would be a great injustice.
Questions were turned over to the audience by way of a lottery. The intensity of belief of both those in favor or and against H.R 3200 America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 made for healthy debate.
Not everyone left happy. Some people require submission to their position to understand that they have been given a fair hearing. What I require is respect and thoughtful deliberation before coming to a conclusion which makes common sense.
The problem with H.R. 3200 is that it is not common sense that the client base can be expanded and costs controlled without both foregoing medical breakthroughs and access to these. It is so complicated, that people who have difficulty working their way through the current system- it is wishful thinking to think this will open up choices to them.
H.R. 3200 is not accurately named. It is not affordable. It will not expand choice nearly so much as it takes this away. In the rush to Utopia- the simple issues which should be addressed-under-served communities, pre-existing condition exclusions and where we have vast agreement- the solutions to those will be lost in the chaos H.R.3200 will create if enacted.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Yesterday, I trudged in from three hours of battling renegade blackberries and pepper tree sprouts trying to take the hill behind the herb path. Too tired to face going up the stairs to for a shower, I switched on the TV- KOCE re-runs of Julia.
This is what Reality TV should be: enthralling and energizing . From the tiny specs I've spied- what passes today for Reality TV- is about as real as Silicone breast implants. As satisfying as processed potato-bit chips pressed with artificial flavoring pressed into a can . With Julia- crepes weren't always perfect- on camera- they got dumped in the trash. Quips, like vegetarians for dinner was not to be an expose on cannibalism- leavened things up.
Hot water and a lathered loofah set me free from the cocoon of dirt and I fluttered to experiment in the kitchen.
Thumbing through the July 2009 Gourmet magazine inspired what to do with a leftover lump of dough from last night's pizza. EVOO was slathered over the egg shaped dough, then rolled to the thickness of a deck of cards. Herb leaves pulled from their stems- parsley, thyme and rosemary- which were madly rolled over and over with the pizza wheel into bits of fragrant bits of green. Into a dry froth of freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano cheese sprinkled gray sea salt and smashed garlic clove, the topping was tossed together to in turn be tossed onto the waiting slab of dough.
The pizza wheel easily created tape-ruled width ribbons of the dough. These were twisted and allowed to rest on a parchment covered baking sheet while the oven heated to 400 F. Twenty minutes later the fresh bread sticks were GOOD- but when they were cool and crisp- they were even better dipped in Marinara sauce spiked with hot chili pepper flakes.
Earlier in the week I hadn't the heart to toss a true rarity- leftover artichoke. Originally braised in EVOO with Meyer lemons, the pairing disappointed my husband's palate. What to do?
The hearts were stripped of their leaves and cut up with equal chunklettes of fresh Mozzarella then bundled into won ton wrappings. Fried in bubbling hot peanut oil for two minutes, a creamy champagne mustard/ mayonnaise dip, they turned out to be as inspiring as they were inspired.
Which is how life should be lived.
Thank you to Tom Carruth for creating the 2006 AARS winner- Julia Child Rose- for Weeks roses- and to Gene Sasse for photographing the lovely bouquet of buttery namesake blossoms at their best- and for permission to use. I wish we lived closer so the food images would be as spectacular.
EVOO is extra virgin olive oil.
Friday, August 21, 2009
"You don't need a fancy Pizza oven to create great Pizza!! " Last Saturday Cristin Fustano demonstrated each step of barbecuing pizzas, treating the 9 am early risers at Roger's Gardens to a tasty inspiration.
This afternoon I arranged my errands to go past Claro's in La Habra. They stock the BEST Pizza dough, fresh marinara sauce- creamy mozzarella cheese. My eyes swallowed all the cookies in the bakery display- my blood sugar went up just looking at it...
At home, the the 'Betty Boop' roses thumbed their flowering faces at what it is supposed to be their August siesta. They radiate their smiles through the deciduous trees which are living umbrellas shading them. I am green onion deep into Julie Powell's book Julie and Julia - just deep enough that I am getting past her overtly salty language and on to shear pleasure of food.
Pieces of the dough were rolled in extra virgin Olive Oil and stretched until no more thick than cardboard.
Gerry grilled one side until the bottom was crisp- 2 or 3 minutes with the lid closed.
The toasted side is flipped over and brought in to have toppings laid upon it.
The pizza is carefully slid back on the grill- the lid is closed until the cheeses are bubbly.
Not much sauce. The cases of the Italian sausage marinated in red turned the purple of eggplant. Pepperoni. Black Olive, green onion and red bell pepper. Freshly grated hard mozzarella and slices of fresh were sprinkled with Romano and Parmesan. From the garden, a shredded chiffonade of basil lifted the taste very close to the altitude of heaven.
The puppies love it when daddy barbecues- they are allowed to play on the lawn as long as they stay in sight when we see and hear no signs of stalking predators .
The the crust crunches ever so slightly under the pizza wheel I forget for a few wonderful moments that this is not the low-carb eating which made the glucose meter convince my doctor that I have slid down the Diabetic pole to pre-diabetic in less than two months.
Eating Pizza for me is like being in labor. Anyone can do it... Absolutely wonderful... The results are so GOOD... you might want to cry. However, that doesn't mean I would recommend "doing it" too often.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunset. Time slows as daytime fades to evening. This is the first summer for the 'Renae' tree roses to cascade their pink blossoms as if a living bridal bouquet. Posted in large pots, they frame the view. They will never get so large as to block it.
Peer through the 'Betty Boop' Roses and you will see our oldest son, Trevor. Planting a short tree form rose between two standard bushes- their arms lock together to form a nearly ever-blooming hedge for a mom to take a paparazzi shot of the only oldest son she'll ever have.
Except one week of triple digit days, this has been a very pleasant summer. The morning temperature stretches awake from 60 degrees, rising to the neighborhood of 90 degrees.
We had a surprise visitor last week to the garden. A weasel was sneaking around the backyard. I asked it to hold still while I grabbed my camera, but it didn't bother to stick around, marking its travel with its musky scent.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I almost didn’t buy tickets to the Go Country 105’s Summer Under the Stars Concert last Sunday. Like everyone else, I am on a budget. But everyone should have a passion. The man who Jack Ingram is makes me passionate about his music.
Genna is nine years old and knows all the words to all of Jack’s songs. She has this wonderful mommy, Shelley Weinstein, who had the best time on their girls’ night out. Shelley doesn’t think of herself as a country western person, but throughout the concert she was thrilled to watch her daughter jumping up and down, smiling- clapping, singing and - oh yes- screaming! Between songs her daughter said, "Thank you, so much Mommy! " over and over.
As good as the show was- watching Jack spend time at the Meet and Greet with the little girl who was thrilled to be seeing one of her heroes up close- the genuineness of his humanity came shining through.
Jack is always good to his fans. He could teach etiquette to upcoming celebrities (maybe that would be a GOOD reality TV show). Or he would be a consummate restaurateur. He greets everyone with warmth- making us all feel special.
I could write a book about why the music of Jack Ingram is special- but this is just a blog. So here’s my "Cliff Notes" version. Jack’s music- and his performance- exude a life of their own. Just like a person- there is intelligence, personality, spirit and physicality- which we should celebrate- because that is how the good Lord made us to experience life.
For information on Jack and the new album to be released August 25th go to http://www.jackingram.net/
The words to the Rodney Atkins song can be found at
Saturday, August 8, 2009
August in Southern California has turned into the social season. Probably because it is too hot to do much else. Unless, of course, one of these parties is at your house.
August is our month to host Mt. Calvary Lutheran's Pinochle club. Having a party is great incentive to polish up a bit. Not just the house. The garden. Because this event is important to my husband, I can also shop a bit more freely before I get "the look".
The morning before the main Victorian feeder came down for rehabilitation, renovation and a fresh coat of paint- there was a bright yellow oriole feasting at nearly the same time as three of the largest scrub jays. The next day, some feathered friends stood on the now barren post, a bit confused as to why their banquet wasn't serving. Not that there isn't any lack of food growing all around. But from their "looks" this is an inconvenience for them. If we want to keep their patronage- we better get that feeder back up soon.
A couple bird baths have become plant stands for succulents, or as in this case, to serve as plant stands for orchids. But the pot never quite looked grounded. So off to Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar for the solution;scoops of tumbled glass in shades of blue and green.
In case any water builds up- a disk of Mosquito Dunk rests under the pot to prevent the spawning of the buzzing biters.
Mosquito Dunks are non-toxic to birds and animals. Ask for them at your favorite hardware, nursery or pet store.