Friday, August 31, 2012

What’s Your Secret?

It’s funny to me that I am now in my 40’s and people who are much younger than me call me "kiddo.”  Really?  Good genes,perhaps, good food, and staying out of the sun?  I promise you my three sisters are not ever called Kiddo, ever.  When my Mom fell two weeks ago, I immediately got her on a regimen of natural remedies to relieve the bruising and heal her wounds quickly.  What do you turn to when you need to heal?  Top for me is Ashitaba, great to eat as a fresh leaf or HERE in extract form from Linda; read her story if you can. It’s a Gigantic Dose of Vitamin B’s. I discovered Ashitaba from a friend in San Diego who cured her breast cancer with it; it’s a mood elevator for me and simply fantastic~


For bruising, there is nothing better than Arnica cream, from any health store, once or twice daily; this made Mom’s facial bruising go away fast, and so made her feel back to normal.  I also give Mom a daily set of fish oil and vitamins from Dr. Perricone.  Expensive, but from time to time they are worth it~


Most importantly, I give my Mom a native American root called Bear Root aka Osha root, thank you to John & Marge for showing me how to use this.  The whole root is at right here; this is the best way to buy it.  If not, at left, you see it slightly mashed up, you can buy at Mastoska Trading.  I do not totally understand this root. It is anti-bacterial, and I swear a super cellular regenerator.  Chew a pinch of the root and apply the poultice overnight to a wound and in 3-4 days a moderate wound is back to normal.  This has been a wonder for my Mom over multiple injuries.  The scrapes on her nose went away completely after three days when I taped the root poultice to her nose~ 


On an ongoing basis, get the root into your system anyway you can.  Eat it plain, or make a tea with purified water~


thought you’d like a pic of the tea in Guy’s copper spoon Smile~


the finished tea looks like this; Mom now drinks a litre of this a day; I also drink it, as do my dogs, they love it instead of their water and it keeps any fleas at bay in the hot weather; I rinse them in it after a bath~


There are other roots which are great; here the Bear root and bitter root; find a good source and ask re your symptoms.  It’s easier in France as every pharmacie is homeopathic, but you probably can’t find bear root there~


Wash it down with a nice bottle of French water if you can, Badoit is my fave!~ find it here at Cost Plus World Market~


Nothing is better for the body than fresh organic.  Try to eat well if you can….


I am overwhelmed with the parents and back to work I hope soon.


Please try to eat well….


Several packages going out tomorrow.


Eat well and SO many thanks for all your good wishes~


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lucky Me

I arrived home after just a few hours at the market this morning; I had Linda fill in for the last hour and a half since my Dad had made two appointments with the MRI.  This was not for him as subject, no….he has supervised contrast injections there for years, and often does the injections quite competently himself when the younger set can’t find a vein.  Without Mom to drive him there, it fell to me for transport. I don’t know if I told you that both of my parents still work 5-6 days each week, my radiologist Father reading plain-film and digital x-rays and Mom doing the transcription and courier work, which I now do until she can type and drive.  Anyway, I arrived home to with a box of See’s candy in hand, a thank you from Norm & Olive.  Raquel sent me this pic of them at the party..her hat was perfect~


“Funny,” Pop said, “I don’t remember your sisters ever thanking me for a dinner with a box of See’s Candy…when are those people coming back?”


I had already received a sweet note in the mail from Olive & Norm earlier in the week.  Olive has been a stewardess for 50 years, now working the First Class San Francisco to Beijing route.  She is a real kick, and she knows hospitality, so it meant a lot to me that she was so effusive in her praise, except “we didn’t see enough of you” as yes, I was in the kitchen most of the night….


Later in the morning as I packed up, my blog follower Linda came by, with a tub of cookie dough which Mom gladly accepted as she sat in my car, chocolate chip cookies that my parents both LOVED, and a handful of her really awesome paper masterpieces.  Linda, I thought of a great project for you for the next Farm to Table…I will post more on Linda later, but here is just a sample of her work~


Earlier in the week I received a set of fancy notecards from Therese, who recently received a linen towel with T monogram with her basket order.  I absolutely loved the sweet note she sent back, and the detail of the hand-addressed mailing box holding these embossed monogram “A” cards she made for me.  Therese Swift-Hahn, Calligrapher extraordinaire….you can see her work and website  HERE and I have already thought of a handful of items that I will have her produce and show you later.  Thank you so much, Therese for these cards, I LOVE them!!


On the way to the MRI I stopped to get my mail.  A new old copper bowl was waiting for me, yeah!


I bought it from a French dealer who said it was made by Ora & Cie.  That’s what the stamp looks like, but I know it’s not that, it’s Mora & Cie, and beneath that the stamp should read “Paris 1ere.”  Mora was founded in 1814 by Charles Trottier, copper cauldron maker and tin man.   They used to be a specialist in the ustensiles de cuisine, but now I think of them primarily for patisserie products.  I still stop by each time I am in Paris (they are around the corner from my favorite, Dehillerin), but I can tell you they don’t sell hand-hammered cul de poule like this now; this one was made some time ago~


After an initial pass at cleaning, it looks like this~


It is not as thick or heavy (so surely not as old) as the cul de poule I have in Laguna from Guy; but this one is larger.  I love antique copper….each piece has a personality, note the rivet fasteners on each piece are spaced differently on the inside of the bowl.  In Beaune I have a set of four nested ones, and each time I use these, most recently for the pasta at the FTT, I hear R’s words in my head….the sight of these nested copper bowls means “there’s some serious cooking going on…” yes indeed.  I was going to sell this one to my client Bob but think I’ll keep it now.  It will come in handy in the large size.  The smaller one is 34cm and the new one is 38cm and here you can see the hammer marks on the inside.


Everyone got their favorite lunch today: Dad has had See’s Candy and a Stella Artois; Mom had sushi and virgin tonic water. I am getting ready to make fresh pasta for dinner with our filet of sole.  The pity party is over, I told Mom, we are working through our to-do’s and getting through our day….tak tak tak….

I left a voice mail for Leah this week; she was the one I reached in my panique and who came to get the dogs from my neighbor Clay while I was on my way home from San Diego after Mom fell.  Also left a message for Laura and Raquel, who both helped immensely with the party….so lucky to have so many great friends I can count on, all of whom my parents love.  My parents are very private and don’t want a bunch of people around to help, but let me tell you, I love you all!  Thanks to so many for the emails and cards~

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Something’s Brewing

As the problems are one by one solved in Laguna, my mind turns to France.  Waiting, wanting, to just be there.  It is another existence, which makes me complete and renders me unconditionally happy.  Where ancient Moroccan baskets with holes in them are not only tolerated, but loved~

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I long to step inside the petit salon, the door decorated for the season,

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and the table set for two or for ten~

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I have a few really great projects in the works in SoCal, involving styling and food~

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and we will most definitely have a fall farm to table dinner in Laguna that will feature some fall-ish produce~

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I am also getting some new copper and other French pieces to add to my collection; can’t wait to show you~ no need to despair when great food, great friends,wonderful projects and life in France awaits~

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Shout out to Jacqueline & Guy…..missing you this summer and love the bassine…can’t wait for the new arrivals~

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pearly Gates

I worked all day on Sunday to clean up…plates first, then flatware.  Dining tables, service tables, a few glasses…and I mean a few…the rest of them are still sitting on the patio, but I am slowly getting through them~


Monday at 8am I got a sheepish call from Chuckie, the powdercoat foreman; he knew he missed the deadline. He called me three times Friday during the time I was with Mom in the hospital getting her ready for discharge and with no cell service.  He did not charge me for delivery, and Genaro the owner brought gates back. Here is the spiffed up kitchen gate~


And here are the “bear gates,” so called because the four California Brown Bear medallions that will go back on the gates.  We were told that these gates belonged to the first president of the University of California; the original front gates to our home were matched to these, but are unfortunately long gone.  I did not sent the bears out for powdercoat because I thought they might get lost, and they are ok with a hand coat of paint.  They will be here and ready for the next party; my parents feel good having the gates back~

IMG_8058To keep rust at bay and preserve antique pieces, especially near the beach, I have discovered the wonders of sandblasting and then “metalizing” and powder coating iron tables, gates, chairs and other furniture.  Here is the redo of the gate section I showed you recently.  This will last about ten years in this condition.  Otherwise, we used to touch up with Rustoleum each year, but that never kills the rust.  Metalizing is the way to go and it is not crazy expensive~


My Mom and I are both real people, who can can touch people at all levels.  When Genaro came to pick up the gates we struck up a conversation about his parents and their illnesses; he totally got it when he came to drop off the gates and saw my Mom in her sling.  And while I was gone for five minutes she had him telling her about the 23 horses he has near Norco.  He told me later that my parents are really good people.  There is good energy with the all the pretty white gates coming back…  

Since the party is over, Mom has been a little down and has made a few suicidal threats; at least it is nor a hip; hang in there Maman….we spent four hours yesterday at the Orthopedist getting her re-splinted and new x-rays.  Her arm is shattered in 7 or 8 pieces.  Nothing to pin, just needs time.   Friday we go back again for a new, clamshell splint.  Tomorrow I take Dad for his staples to be removed.  This morning they both had his and her PT appointments (free with Medicare, in-home) so all of this takes time.    Today Mom was thrilled to read some sweet thank you cards that arrived in the mail from the party….


I am writing this post feeling a little bummed.  I have not washed my hair in days, and I look like a wreck.  I did not go to the Encinitas market today, so lost revenue.  My parents are running me ragged with all of the driving, care, and things I have to do for them, and my sisters are really more trouble than help.  6-8 weeks I tell myself...and one day soon I will escape to Beaune.  Too bad I can not run away permanently… yet.  R wants me to come for the month of November, but I have not decided yet if I can go.  Worried that when I come back the dogs will be gone, parents in assisted living and house sold.    Say a prayer for me….I need it…until I get to the real pearly gates myself!

Monday, August 20, 2012


One of the highlights of the Farm to Table was the Burrata.  On a pretty plate if you please….


I have seen burrata online for as much as $24 for a one pound tub, but you can get this same brand for $11 at Bristol Farms or other specialty grocers.  I went to LA factory, mostly because I was guaranteed it was made that morning, but also because it was cheaper, at $6 for a one pound tub~


Depending on thickness, you get 6-8 slices per tub.  This is from the Gioia (say “joy-uh") factory in LA, where they make 2,000 pounds of this daily…they supply many restaurants and markets.  If you have a dinner for six, go to Bristol Farms for this same brand, but for 40 people I went to the source~


Burrata is a fresh mozzaralla filled with cream (panna) and more mozzaralla curd.  The texture is soft and creamy, the cream wrapped in fresh mozzarella curd.  If you get a chance to see mozzarella made (and then taste it, of course!), be sure to go….the curds look like this before they are put in hot water~


Left a few minutes~


strained and worked by hand~


and formed into a ball~


these pics are from a demo at the RSF market; there is nothing like warm, fresh mozzarella..heaven… unless it’s made into burrata!!


Fresh mozzarella with arugula and other garnish is divine~


Burrata takes the basic mozzarella and creates a pocket of fresh cream and mozzarella curd; here is the burrata about to be sealed; that’s the cream on top~


the mozzarella is first stretched; this is why they call the outer layer stracciatelli or rags….see the steam rising off the cheese in this pic….ahh~


Gli fratelli are from LA and I love their small pocket of fresh hot mozzarella with cold cream which we had at the Nancy Silverton book signing at Chino Ranch~


If I had a big party I would hire gli fratelli to make burrata….but if you can’t…hit Bristol Farms or other grocer and pair the cheese with tomato (red beefsteak or yellow heirloom are so pretty), peach, papaya or other sweet and add balsamic and olive oil and sea salt and pepper.  Great too over bread slices for a tray pass appetizer…I love it on a bed of arugula or with basil on top…..or try on a salad. I love the different textures, as well as the sweet and salty and tang of vinegar together.  The peach/tomato/basil/burrata is probably my favorite though….and serve with some hot crusty French bread on the side to sop up the oil and vinegar….

In between doctors appointments for my parents and cleaning up after the party I’m trying to collect a few party tips for a post.  Food for a party should be yummy…it should make your guests want MORE.  It should make them go wow for a dish or two.  Burrata is simple yet delicious….it’s the darling of the restaurant business and I am sure you will see more of it.  In the US it is made of pasteurized cheese so a different taste than in Italy, but I love this Gioia stuff!  Give it a try and see what you and your guests think~

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One Heckuva

The Farm to Table Feast was over and my house guests were ensconced in their quarters.  I went back outside, some of the votives still lit, the fish pond fountain still bubbling, a beautiful clear night sky above, and plopped my exhausted self down in the big quilty chair which had been used by our musicians.  It was already well after midnight, and it had been a grand evening, and I was really tired but not yet ready to sleep.  


Suddenly, I had an idea….and I slipped off through the pool gate and had a little skinny dip in the pool.  Ahhh that’s just what I needed after a crazy week and a night spent mostly slaving in the kitchen!  After all, I knew that in the morning I would face this, my version of a scullery station, as I prepared to wash 120 dishes + glasses + utensils~


Mom and I usually sit outside the morning after a party like this and debrief about who we talked to and the news and feedback.  Today, she was chattering away about how wonderful each of the guests were, that she thought the music was amazing, and that she sat in this same seat last night with three of the bachelor men around her, including our neighbor Jay.  Many thanks to you guys, you kept her smiling and laughing all night…she had a ball, and she needed a little fun.  You can see her casted right arm here and how black and blue her exposed shoulder is.  Still mad that she fell and that she could not help with the party or clean up.  It’s OK Mom….


I saved two of the wrapped gifts to open this morning with her; LOVE both of these, the book and the bottle, which will figure into a vignette soon~


Saturday before the party we worked on the setup.  And when I saw “we” I mean BIG thanks to Della and Laura & team.  I missed the bar that is out for powdercoat, as it has space below for glasses, but this worked fine.  There was rosemary from the garden in each of the ice buckets to prevent too much clinking of glass and provide some fragrance~


There was a single long table under the loggia which sat most of the guests.  The French-style folding chairs left early this morning with Raquel to go back to the farmers market.  Mom said a few guests asked her who is the caterer and where was she able to rent all these linens and plates and crates and props?   Everyone loved the lap napkins; they were a real hit, especially with the guys.


Next to the main table, I set my pine desk, and piled crates on top with little vignettes in each cubby.  Copper, votives, vintage cooking, birds nests holding Araucana eggs, and a trio of silver teapots which would be used after dinner for the tisane.  The desk surface was used to show the wine bottles guests had brought before they moved to the dinner table, and during dinner we put all of the desserts into the nooks, and when the meal was over the desserts moved to the pine desk below. This is the “aftermath” photo this morning~


It was quite a mess, but I loved the look and will do this again somewhere~


with the votives lit, it looked something like this as we began dessert…love love love the glow of the votives and the warmth of the wooden crates~


I think I took a total of 10 photos last night; too busy cooking and talking to guests and worrying about how to keep the meal on schedule.  Though I told everyone, I would stress but your meal is free, so I’m not going to worry.  It was tough to get the five chickens and prime rib done at the same time.  Next time, a few adjustments, but it was all OK and delish in the end.  Today I enjoyed the view of the tables in the early morning sun~


I also had nothing alcoholic to drink last night, and this morning finished off the last half glass of Foley Pinot Noir from Mark & Leticia with my breakfast, still wonderful the morning after.  There were no flowers on the tables, only a long runner of trumpet vines from the garden, which you see here and I thought was perfect; this event was all about the food and the wine~


I also did not sit for dinner and did not eat any of the food aside from a few tastes as it was prepared.  Today for lunch I had the Burrata plate just like we made it last night: slice of tomato, slice of peach, wedge of cold burrata; finish with basil chiffonade, a little sea salt, pepper, balsalmic and olive oil.  Loved this, as did all the guests~


Of the few photos I took, here is the appetizer, just one of the trays of Bruschetta…many thanks to Julia for serving these~


While the appetizers were tray passed, the guests listened to the musicians, and we prepared the Burrata plates in the dining room; the plates went to the place settings at one time, as the guests were asked to be seated.  I have dropped my camera yet again, so it is buggered and this is out of focus; maybe that’s the real reason why I took so few pics~


Next up was the pasta, Pappardelle with seasonal mushrooms and fresh butter; I can’t get enough of this pasta, from Domenico’s (call the Beverly Hills Cheese Store), and every single scrap of it was eaten, several platters full~


I had meant to show you the menu before the party, but here it is now, with the origin of each ingredient~


Louie’s Artisan Bread Country Loaf
Valdivia Beefsteak Tomatoes
Berumen Boyz Fresh Garlic

Spring Hill Cheddar on Louie’s Artisan Bread
With Max’s Buckwheat Honey & Sundial Hydroponic Basil

Fresh Gioia Burrata

Sunny Cal Roasted Peaches
Valdivia Heirloom Tomatoes
Sundial Hydroponic Basil
Temecula Olive Oil Company Olive Oil

Domenico’s Pappardelle

Mountain Meadow Seasonal Mushrooms
Spring Hill Organic Butter

DaLe Ranch Pastured Beef Prime Rib

DaLe Ranch Roast Chickens

Garden Salad

Sundial Farms Hydroponic Butter Lettuce
Valdivia Heirloom Tomatoes & Green Beans
Sage Mountain Candy Cane Beets
Dill & Chives from the Garden

Homemade On the Dessert Table

Puff Pastry Galette with Sunny Cal Peaches
Black Onyx Chocolate Mousse with Eben Haezer Pastured Eggs
Scratch Coconut Cake
White Cake with Kahlua & Homemade Apricot Jam
French Chocolate Tarte
Whipped Cream with Keys Creek Lavender-infused Honey
Warm Passion Fruit Caramel Sauce
Fresh Sunny Cal Peaches & Berumen Boyz Strawberries
Lemon Tarte with Atkins Nursery Lemons & Don’s Farm Eggs
Cheesecake with Soledad Fresh Goat Cheese
Cheesecake with Soledad Fresh Lavender-Lemon Goat Cheese
Millie’s Creamy Passion Fruit Handcrafted Vegan Gelato
Millie’s Chocolate Sea Salt Handcrafted Vegan Gelato

Herbal Tisane & Coffee

If you follow my blog you know that I hate a rushed meal.  My family would have blown through all this food in about an hour; maybe just a little more. We started about 6pm with appetizers and ended serving dessert after 9pm.  Guests ate dessert and had coffee and tisane until about 10:30, and the last guests left after 11pm.  It took a crew of us in the kitchen some time to get each of these courses out and to give the guests time to savour each one.  No one seemed to complain… there was music, great conversation, there was wine; Louie our boulanger was on hand and gave a talk about the amazing bread he made for the meal…..and I think the food was allowed to digest a little between each course.  Everyone left feeling sated but not stuffed, and knowing they had eaten a quality meal.

Louie’s friend Sam is a pro photographer and he came along for the evening and took tons of photos, which he promises to send to me, as will a few other guests.  Will show you those when they arrive, hopefully shortly!  All in all, totally fun and a great evening; I have made a few notes for things to improve, but I’m going to call it a success, and with no rentals and great farmer & musician friends, it didn’t break the bank.   And no, the gates did not arrive….I just put votives on each step of the brick walk and no one missed the gates and they called it fairytale….  And yes, my Dad did come to the party, and though he didn’t really like the music (too loud for him), he did see some old friends and loved the prime rib bone I cut for him.