I’ve driven across the country exactly eight times. Eight times! I love road trips, even though I sort of hate driving. But I think I just hate driving in LA, which if you’ve never driven here just know that it isn’t the most relaxing, hand-out-of-the-window-in-the-wind kind of driving. There’s traffic and people arguing over parking spots at Whole Foods.
There’s something about open-air-driving that I really love. I got a lot of that in New Mexico a few weeks ago. Before my trip, which was hosted by The New Mexico Tourism board, I had only driven through Albuquerque a few times. As a kid, I was obsessed with Roswell and aliens. (We’ll get back to that later.) Would you like to see some photos and hear about my trip? It was special; there’s a reason New Mexico is called the land of enchantment.
I arrived in Albuquerque, picked up a car and got some lunch at El Modelo. One thing you learn very quickly in New Mexico is that the history is rich and the food is at its best when it’s not fancy or expensive.
I feel like a gigantic broken record when I say this, but OMG March flew by. How are we in April right now? I want February back. Actually, I’d be happy to re-live March again. Time is so fleeting, it moves so quickly that it’s actually scary. I wish I could freeze moments in times, months in time and just savor them a bit more. I sound like a gigantic baby but this is why my mom tells me 20s fly, 30s fly, enjoy them.
The month started off with all of the trees in Los Angeles blooming like crazy, like this one.
February, oh February. Short and sweet lil’ month. February was great. It was a good balance of productivity and relaxation, very rare in my world. I’m either going at warp speed or feeling weird and unproductive. Striking that balance is something I always strive for, but rarely accomplish.
I got really into skin care this month. I bought a lot of flowers, watched a lot of movies, listened to a lot of podcasts.
The month started with me drinking milky coffee in the sun. It was sort of chilly so the sun felt good.
I went to Ojai for a night. The Ojai Rancho Inn is pretty cute. I got a deal via Hotel Tonight. Have you used that app? You can book last-minute hotel rooms at a really good price. I think we only paid like $70 that night. NOT BAD!
I don’t discuss failures very often because a lot of the time, they’re sort of boring stories, i.e., my leavening ratio was off, the dish was bland, spices should’ve been toasted, etc. They’re not really all that exciting, but I think talking about them is important because probably from the outside it looks like I ace every single dish and the reality is that I don’t. AT ALL. And also, we all know perfection is dull. Is there anything more boring than perfection? No.
Today I was hoping to share with all of youse a beautiful silky smooth recipe for Homemade Yogurt. I started out hopeful. I did a ton of research and settled on the fact that there was no way I was going to buy a yogurt maker. Because A: I don’t need another kitchen gadget. B: I don’t make that much yogurt to justify the cost.
So, I did what a lot of people suggest: I mixed in a teaspoon of sugar into 2 cups of fresh milk (just to encourage the bacteria) and heated it to 170F-180F. At this time, the milk should cool to 110F. I did this. And then I mixed in about 1/4 cup good-quality Greek yogurt. (I wanted the two strands in there, so I used Greek.) I transferred the liquid to sterilized jars and left them out on my counter to sit. I’ll admit that it was drafty in my apt. It’s winter (ish) in LA after all. After around 8 hours, it was still super milky. I put it in the fridge thinking it would firm up. NOPE.
Ok, second try. I turned my oven on and set a baking sheet with the soon-to-be-yogurt on top. The oven was set to nearly 400F so it was really, REALLY warm in my kitchen. Six hours later, STILL LIKE MILK.
Tried it again just to make sure I didn’t mess up a step. NOPE. Still the same.
Josh came home, examined the yogurt and told me that at his restaurant they keep it out for longer, they move it from different places within the restaurant depending on the temperature and that it actually is fickle. It’s not an exact science.
UGH! As a person who writes recipes for da innanet, I can’t deal with the fickleness, especially when we can just buy damn yogurt for like $3. Why would we deal with the moodiness of yogurt?
If we’re DIYing something that we normally would just buy, my motto is that it needs to be less expensive than buying it at the store and the process needs to be easy because time is valuable. So, rather than attacking this for a fourth time, I decided to let it go. I decided that maybe I should just buy yogurt because making it at home was too dramatic and too uncertain and I don’t have time for dat. And I’m guessing neither do you.
So, here we are, first failure of 2015.
I’ll promise to share more failures in the future. I think they’re important. Also, if you’ve successfully made yogurt in the past, LET ME KNOW YOUR WAYS!
I’m back! Did you miss me? No, you did not. You were too busy with your families and reading books and lounging. I was doing this too. I needed the break. It felt good to go away for a bit. And it feels good to be back.
The end of the year and the beginning of a new one always makes me hormotional. I think too much, analyze everything to death. It’s one of my many talents.
This year taught me a lot. It was full of lessons, so to speak. I learned that family doesn’t let family fall. I learned that the harder I work, the luckier I get. And I learned that, for me and my work and my life, trying is really the thing that matters most. I hope to hold these lessons close in 2015.
December was a good month. It was crazed and went as quickly as it came, but it was solid.
It started with lots of rain, which meant super clear skies.
I borrowed this beautiful throw from Nocturnal Knits to shoot a possible cover for The Year of Cozy. Amelia and I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world.
We went and bought a tree together at Home Depot. She (naturally) thought it was a pretty exciting adventure.
There was a trip to The Flower Market and peonies were in season? Sort of surprising since they usually hit the markets in January. A lil’ early but WHATEVER ALL THE WOMEN IN THE WORLD WILL TAKE THEM!
It rained some more. And Amelia got a raincoat. She hated the raincoat, the rain and me. But I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day.
November, November, November! One of my favorite months of the year, every year. I love that it stops being hot. I love that I can wear sweaters and drink tea and wrap a blanket around myself. I love turkey and mashed potatoes and the anticipation of the impending holidays.
November began with a restful weekend. There were clear skies and lots of walks.
I headed to the newly opened bakery, Gjusta and was so overwhelmed I didn’t get nearly as many things as I had hoped. But I did get to eat this lemon poppyseed cake and drank a cappuchino. Must go back!
The big T-Day is next Thursday and if you’re the organized cute person I know you are, you’re probably in big time planning mode. This week is Thanksgiving week on this lil’ blog. There will be sides. There will be a big bird. And of course, PIE will make an appearance!
To kick things off, we’re starting with the most important cooking aide: wine. Cooking is so much better, albeit a little more dangerous, when there’s a glass of wine in everyone’s hands. Wine has the ability to iron out all of the inevitable Thanksgiving woes like fun family tension, messing up the pie crust and maybe making the bird a bit too toasty.
I know most of you aren’t in Los Angeles, so I’m approaching this a few different ways. Two of these wines are available via Domaine LA and they can be shipped to you. If you’re in LA, you can obviously just stop in and pick them up.
We’re also providing tasting notes for each of these wines. The idea behind this is that you can go into your local wine shop and request a wine that tastes similarly.
So, for instance, with the wine just below, you can drop into a wine shop and say you’re looking for an orange wine that’s bright, a little chewy, and under $20-$25. And lastly, if the wine shop doesn’t have an orange wine, there are other alternatives listed that might be a good replacement.
2013 Folk Machine Jeanne d’Arc – (Chenin Blanc from California) Skin contact white wine, or “orange” wine, is so versatile with food because of its savory edge. A little chewy, golden and delicious.
Alternatives: Sherry, Chardonnay or Savagnin from the Jura, Bottle fermented beers, Cider.
NV Provenza Spumante Rosato ‘Turbian’ – (Gropello and Marzemino blend from Lombardy, Italy) Fruity but bone dry, refreshing and gulp-able. And a perfect example of why you shouldn’t buy wine based on how the bottle looks : \
Alternatives: Lambrusco, dry Italian or French rosé, Txakolina, Pink Petillant Naturel
It’s not every weekend when I get the opportunity to gather my friends together and host a dinner party, so when I was invited to be a part of the #BertolliGoldLabel Italian Progressive Dinner Party, I said a-ok!
I’m a pretty casual person; this means I like my dinner parties to feel very fuss-free. Here are some guidelines I like to follow:
1. I kinda start to stress out when I see the host get up a million times. I feel like I should help! I don’t want my friends to feel like this so I make sure everything is ready (entree included), on the table, served family-style. This means from the time they arrive everything is very laid back.
2. At least one course is completely store-bought. In this case it was the sauce from Bertolli (more on that later), cheeses, charcuterie, figs and grapes and olives. Easy breezy!
3. Wine matches the food. My friend Whitney helped with this, selecting the perfect, super affordable Italian wines to go with our Italian-inspired dinner.
This past Friday my manuscript was due, so I’ve been scurrying, testing last-minute recipes, shooting, and writing a whole lot in order to make the deadline. Turning it in felt epic. And this past weekend was the first few days I’ve had off in a while, and even then I was working. But there’s something about working from bed that doesn’t feel like it actually counts as real work, so I feel back to normal, refreshed and ready to have another busy-ass week.