scenes from a yoga studio

Monday, January 31, 2011 me, carob feels less "charismatic" and more "apologetic wallflower".

taking the 'ew' out of stew

Sunday, January 30, 2011

How come when people are "stewing" it's a bad thing? But that beef stew is so delicious?

It got me thinking about how many cooking words have negative connotations...

When he stood me up I was steamed.

My goose is cooked!

Our relationship was strained.

I went in for that meeting and they grilled me.

(I put them in contextual sentences for you. You're welcome:))

I'll tell you one thing: there is nothing agitating or anxiety-ridden about this stew.

This stew is worth making for the smell alone. Lord! You'll want to get in there and splash around in it. And how can any dish be wrong when there's a whole sexy bottle of wine inside of it? You with me?

Beef Stew (adapted from Tyler Florence)
serves 6

3 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2" cubes
12 fresh thyme sprigs
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
zest of 1 orange
a few whole cloves
1 t whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 bottle dry, full-ish bodied red wine (one that you'd feel great drinking)

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T unsalted butter
s and p
4 cups beef broth

2 cups red pearl onions, blanched and peeled (a word about how to do this is below...)
8 new potatoes, halved
3/4 pound baby carrots
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into thirds
pinch of sugar
1/2 pound frozen peas
handful of chopped fresh parsley
handful of chopped fresh chives

Marinate the meat for at least 5 hours and up to overnight: open a big ziploc bag inside a large bowl (so it'll be easy to fill and in the fridge you can safeguard for leaks) and into it place the meat, half of the thyme, the 2 carrots, garlic, orange zest, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and wine. Squish it around and refrigerate. If you think of it, go back and squish it around again a couple hours later.

When you're ready to start cooking, take the meat out of the marinade (for the love of All That's Good keep the marinade!) and blot it off really well with paper towels, salt and pepper it and let it sit 20 minutes or so so it comes almost to room temperature.  

Heat a heavy-bottomed dutch oven to medium-high heat and add the butter and olive oil. Brown the meat in batches evenly on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. (Hot tip: Don't move it around a lot even though that feels productive. If you leave it alone, you'll let the meat caramelize and get that great crust on it.) After you've browned all the meat, return all of it into the pan, along with the strained marinade and a bit more s+p. Scrape up all the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef broth, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered (to thicken it a bit) for about 20 minutes. Then cover, reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 2 hours.

While that stew is stewing, a word about pearl onions:  Bring some water to a boil (in a medium saucepan) and throw those onions in there, skins and all for about 2 minutes, no more. Drain. You can put them into an ice bath here to stop the cooking but I didn't. Just let them cool a second and then slice off the root end. Then (this is cool!) you can just squeeze the other end and they pop right outta their skin! Easy peasy!

After 2 hours, uncover the pot and add the baby carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, pearl onions, and the rest of the thyme. Throw in a pinch of sugar to balance out the wine's acidity. Stir it up and simmer another 30-45 minutes. If your sauce is thin, keep the pot uncovered to thicken it. If your sauce is thick already, keep it covered.  

Check to make sure the veggies are tender and then in the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas, parsley and chives.

Serve to any person that is stewing and they will calm right down and gain delicious clarity.

granny square gorgeousness

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I've been reading this (sweetly illustrated) classic on writing and I find it simultaneously riveting, delightful, and a bonafide cure for insomnia.

That is a bit how I feel about crochet.  (And my career, for that matter, but we'll get to that later.)

Admittedly, I'm coming a bit late to the Crochet Party, having been caught up in a hot-and-heavy romance with two-needled yarn activities for the past decade.  But while at a friend's house, I spied a stack of her granny squares crocheted out of this Noro Kochoran and dropped my two needles faster than you can say knit 1, purl 1.

I promptly forced her to teach me (I also used this fantastic tutorial), ordered the yarn, and embarked upon a 48-squares-sewn-into-a-blanket journey.

For about the first 15 squares I would finish one and just stare at it, mystified, thinking: I just made that!  And that is a rad feeling. Everyone should have that feeling.

Then I got to square 23, aka Snoozeville. And realized I wasn't even halfway finished. So 22 squares sat in a basket for about six months. 

After all that time something made me pick them back up again and for the last 26 squares, there was this satisfying, easy comfort in it. Not the riveting, high excitement of beginning, but truly the joy of the ordinary. And of staying the course. And lately that is a feeling that I am celebrating in my life.

I wish you joy in the ordinary today...

scenes from my laundry

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I just bought these happy green napkins and this is what they look like fresh out of the dryer.  The tag says, "Low iron if needed."


My lord.

pop on over

Monday, January 24, 2011

I mentioned to DP that I was gonna make popovers yesterday morning.

"Dammit, " he said.
"I was gonna go workout but now I have to stay and eat popovers."

My workout entailed a walk to the store for some milk. In rare L.A. form, we have a corner market a short walk from our house that I have literally stepped foot into twice in three years. But when you are desperate to make/eat popovers? And the idea of getting in the car makes you itchy? It's worth going down to the scary Feng Shui Nightmare that is our corner market.

I mean...

It's a fabulous place to go when you need motor oil, old VHS movies, a grandfather clock, beer, a dirty mop, guitars, camping lights...

Tilex, a buddha or a nice Pinot Noir. Or just some milk.


Anyway.  There's a good ending to the story...

(loosely adapted from Ina Garten)
yields 6

First things first: you need a special pan to make these puppies. I'm generally not a fan of kitchen pans that have only one use.  However, I do make an exception for popovers. They are SO good and SO easy to make and they feel decadent despite having only 1T of butter among six of them. And that special pan does all the work, making them look fancy. Bonus? They make your house smell like Sunday morning: buttery, doughy and lazy.

1 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 T butter, melted
1/2 t salt
1 cup flour
1/8-1/4 t ground nutmeg, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 and prepare a popover pan by either greasing generously with butter or spraying with Pam.

It's important that the eggs and butter are at room temperature so I always just lightly whisk the eggs into the milk in a microwave-safe bowl (I use a glass pyrex measuring cup) and then microwave for 15 seconds to take the chill off.  Then whisk the egg/milk mixture into the combined flour and salt.  Add the melted butter and nutmeg.  Whisk everything til smooth.

Stick the greased pans into the oven for exactly 2 minutes.  (This insures that the batter starts cooking the instant it hits the hot pan.)  Fill each little cup a little less than half-full (you'll have a bit of leftover batter. If you fill them too full they'll be uber-thick and won't pop over) and bake for exactly 30 minutes. No opening the oven to peek! (You are allowed to peek if you have a window in your oven door:)) Serve immediately.  Preferably with sweet butter and one of these.  Yum!

Happy Monday:)

sneak peek

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I bought this darling fabric over a year ago to make a cover for my trusty sewing machine. Alas, I've searched high and low for a great pattern but haven't found one I'm remotely thrilled about so it's been sitting getting dusty on a shelf. I know how you readers have been CLAMORING for me to design a sewing machine cover and provide a tutorial (ha ha) so I've decided to attempt one. Wish  me luck.

Sorry for being a bit of a stranger this week, lovely readers. Pilot season seems to be commencing (it's the busy season for all the new potential TV shows for the fall) and I'm a bit breathless from this past week. Here's to a recharging weekend for everyone!


weather or not/cool stuff

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We've had crazy warm weather in el A lately. Like 80 degrees in January(!?)Signs of Winter are more subtle here. Sometimes the only way to tell the seasons are changing is from the cups at Starbucks. But if you are more attuned to the subtle, the signs are all around. I hiked here yesterday and loved seeing this wintery tree against a springy/summery sky!

A few random fun things for you:

*great advice from a three year old if you encounter monsters.

*some beautiful jewelry.

*how gorgeous is this quilt?  I'm seriously wanting it!

*my new favorite beigey-pink polish color.

*these short ribs look crazy delicious....considering making them this weekend!

Happy, happy Thursday:)

PS, i love you

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We made a super-fast blitz trip to Palm Springs this past weekend. We never stay in a hotel for just one night and have we been missing out! It was so cool to jump in the car and be somewhere so far-away feeling in merely two hours. We honeymooned in Palm Springs (almost ten years ago!) so it's near and dear to us, so many lovely memories.

We stayed at the gorgeous Colony Palms Hotel which manages to be swanky, cool and luxurious without pretension. And the pool is lively without being scene-y or rowdy. There are these cheerful striped cabanas, beautiful fruit trees, buddhas, and landscaping all around you.  

This is the entrance...

Cutout palms...

Tile walkway...

Inviting adirondacks...

Trickling fountain...

We had a super lounge-y afternoon (complete with poolside cocktails) and then met up with my Dad and Stepmom (who were visiting from snowy Colorado) for dinner at Johannes, in my opinion one of the best dinner spots in PS. Delicious!

Sunday morning we stumbled here for a pumpkin scone and some koffi:

We walked by this cool sculpture. Isn't it happy?

I snapped a couple pics around the hotel grounds before the day started...

I love this stack of fresh towels! It's like pure possibility, right?

We hit Cheeky's for one of the best breakfasts I've had in a long time. YUM! They sport a bacon flight on the menu so once I saw that, I knew we'd be in great hands.

DP had oatmeal with ginormous blueberries. It looked and tasted delicious:

And my dad had blueberry-corn pancakes (super tasty!) that came with this cutest retro syrup...

Some other favorite Palm Springs spots?

Retro drinks or dinner (or both) at Mr. Parker's in this funky hotel

Dinner at Copley's in the historic Cary Grant Estate

Strong margaritas and fantastic authentic mexican at El Mirasol, a locals hangout

Korakia Pensione (where we honeymooned:))

The Movie Colony Hotel--super private and cool. Plus, they have a complimentary martini hour nightly!

A couple places you might want to skip?

The Kiltmaker, despite its inviting signage...

And this classy joint...

Ah, Palm Springs, you never disappoint.


"i can do anything good!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Here's two of her six white horses

This morning I woke up singing "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain When She Comes".  God help me.  I have zero idea what this means other than the fact that I'm the most susceptible person in the entire world to getting songs stuck in my head.  Some of the worst catchy offenders:

Gimme a Break (the Kit Kat song)
Hail to the Chief
My Favorite Things
Da Do Ron Ron
The theme to Indiana Jones
The theme to Austin Powers
Tomorrow (from Annie)
Sleigh Ride (the most catchy Christmas song EVER)

I basically can hear someone speak some random lyric from a song and that's all it takes.  I'm a goner for the rest of the day.  A friend once told me when you have Song Stuckage to give it a big finish and that sometimes works.  Mostly not.  It usually just spawns an immediate infinite coda.

A much more fun way to start the day?  This little girl's positive in-the-mirror affirmations!  I'm trying to get this stuck in my head on purpose...

Happy Weekend!

la la la la la la la la la la la ha ha ha ha ha

Friday, January 14, 2011

I love how self-satisfied Eduard seems.  Not to mention completely unapologetic that he's lip syncing gibberish. Love it!

2010 lookback, quilt porn

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In crafty ways, 2010 was the Year of the Quilt.  I got super inspired by Alicia and all her wonderful quilty ways.  I had never made one before (just learned to sew last year) but saw her pattern (which explains everything you need to know [and with pictures!] so beautifully).  That started it all...

This was the first, a baby quilt with lots of sock monkeys, alphabets, stripes and stars...

Don't they look so great when they get all pucker-y from the dryer when they're finished?  That is the addicting part.

Then, I made this behemoth.  I found a bunch of vintage sheets that looked super 70s and supplemented them with some other funky fabrics.

Pinning this thing together and somehow (pure miracle) quilting it on my humble machine?  I don't actually know how it happened.  This picture is horrible (pre-blog, people) but it sorta gives an idea of the scope of it all.  Note the sad, stray, lone slipper in the upper right corner, discarded in a fit of hot stress...

Here it is in action last summer.  We had the most fun night seeing Saturday Night Fever in The Cemetery complete with a fried-chicken-and-sauvignon-blanc picnic beforehand!  BTW, this is an LA summertime MUST!

My sweet niece Olivia arrived in May, as did another baby quilt.  I love the pastel polka-dot border on this one...

When autumn rolled around I got super ambitious and decided to take on a more complex pattern.  It came from this book of jelly roll quilts.  (Jelly rolls are bundles of pre-cut strips of fabric that all compliment each other and save you a ton of time cutting.)  Here it is pre-quilting:

Sweet Lena fell asleep under my feet as I was piecing it together...

I mean, C'mon...

Since I wanted a super-pro finished quilted look, I took the completed top to Cranberry Quiltworks and had it quilted by computerized machine.  I love the windy pattern and green thread they helped me choose:

I think it turned out so great!  

Happy Thursday!
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