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Food

I’ve been at it again.  I know what you’re thinking- I’ve traded in knitting for cookies and crochet.  But that’s not the case… I just have a lot of secret knitting projects right now that I just can’t share quite yet.  But in the next few months everything will be revealed!

In the meantime I baked more cookies!  As if all the food at thanksgiving dinner wasn’t enough I had to bake another batch of cookies on Saturday.  Yes, another shortbread recipe…. I know I’ve lost my mind.  But these were pretty good.  These Lemon Poppy Seed cookies aren’t too sweet like the other cookies I’ve been baking lately, which makes them less addictive and a great companion for some nice strong black tea.

Servings: makes 20-22 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 softened stick of butter

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp poppy seeds

zest of two medium lemons (I used Myer lemons)

 

In a bowl mix together the flour and sugar.  Add the butter and mix in carefully (I used a fork for this task).  Then add in the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix in well.  Now you will add in the lemon zest and poppy seeds and mix them in well.  Roll out the dough into a log that measures about 1.5″ in diameter and wrap in parchment paper.  Refrigerate the log for at least 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 325º.  Cut the log into pieces about 1/3″ thick.  Bake cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes.  The cookies will not change color much, the longer you leave them in the oven the crumblier they will get.  Enjoy these cookies with a nice hot cup of tea!

 

 

 

I have lived in LA all of my life and have never taken advantage of the wonderful and interesting things and events this city and southern California have to offer.  Rory and I decided we want to start attending more local events… like festivals.  So we have a few planned for the upcoming months, like the Beaumont Cherry Festival and the Gilroy Garlic Festival (I have wanted to go for so many years). But two Sundays ago was the Oxnard Strawberry Festival.

So we got to the festival and one of the first things I saw was this lost and found sign.  Lost your car keys and your child? Don’t worry we have now combined the two into one amazing lost and found location!!! How convenient! … only at a festival will you find a sign like this.

 

Rory and I skipped breakfast that day and we were very excited to get our hands on some strawberry themed food (after all that is why we came).  First up was, of course the chocolate covered strawberries.  Mmmm…..

 

 

Then we made our way through the vendor area where there were tons of local artists and vendors selling all kinds of interesting things.  From left to right- there was a guy who would re-purpose or up-cycle silverware and turn them into something interesting and functional (like a napkin holder), there was a woman who made these gorgeous stained glass pieces, and a man who had hand carved wooden bowls.

 

   

 

Next we found our way (by nose) to the funnel cakes. Wow and Yum! We shared “The Works” with cinnamon sugar instead of powdered sugar (just to mix it up a bit).  We devoured that thing in less than 10 minutes… not quite a record, but for me it was.  Here is a picture of our delicious funnel cake – with strawberries of course.

 

 

After we finished eating we noticed that there was a whole funnel cake making line behind the tent.  It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch all these people making the funnel cakes.  Here are some photos I took – they make me want another funnel cake now!

 

       

 

Next Rory and I walked around for a bit and watched a pie throwing contest…. unfortunately it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be…. maybe because it was little kids throwing the pies… there wasn’t much of a thrill.  We walked around a bit more and watched some live music.

Then we decided to get something more substantial to eat… Ha!  We went with the beer battered garlic and crab fries. Oh yeah! Gotta love fair food!  It was actually some of the best fries I have ever had and most definitely the best thing I ate that day.  Here is a glorious photo of the fries. Wow!!!

 

 

All in all it was a pretty good experience.  I have never been to a food festival before and wasn’t sure what to expect.  We only stayed for about three-ish hours…. and I probably wont go again.  But we had good food, a good time and a good day.  And of course we left with a case of strawberries (I froze some to make ice-cream with when I find the time).  Here is Rory with the case of strawberries…. and look a celebrity citing behind him…. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!!!

 

 

What’s a Grilled Cheese Invitational?  Every year during National Grilled Cheese Month (yes, it really exists) there is the Grilled Cheese Invitational right here in LA.  Of course its always on a Saturday and during the day, so that means I don’t get to go because I’m teaching at the shop every Saturday.  So I decided to host my very own Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational.

 

 

The day before I went to my local Trader Joe’s and picked up seven kinds of cheeses and three kinds of breads.  Then on Sunday Rory went over to one of our favorite local breakfast places, Zabies and picked up a Rosemary loaf I ordered a few days before.  The types of cheeses we had were: Double Creme Brie, Mild Cheddar, Imberico from Spain, Tripple Creme Brie with Wild Mushrooms, Semi-soft Fontina, American, and Raclette.  The bread choices were a rustic style French bread, Cracked Wheat Sourdough, Pretzel Challah, and the Rosemary bread.  I also made sure to pick up some other key ingredients for the Grilled Cheese Invitaional- tomato, avocado, basil, garlic, onions, butter (of course), pear and prosciutto.  Here are a few pictures of all the cheese.

 

   

 

There were only a few rules, everyone had to make a sandwich, you have to make at least three of one type of sandwich (so everyone can taste the sandwich), the scoring was from 1-10.  Of course with my friends, every singe rule was broken.  Boys watched some kind of sporting event on TV instead, Veronica made only two that she cut three ways each, and people scored numbers that were not between 1-10.

Nicole (my sister and model) was the first one to made a sandwich… I can’t really remember what went in it- I think it was garlic, onions, tomato, butter and the cheeses were Fontina & Imberico (that part I remember) and she used the Cracked Wheat Sourdough bread then popped it under the broiler.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of Nicole’s first sandwich because we were so excited to eat that it wasn’t until after that we remembered.  But I do have a cool action shot of Nicole in the kitchen.

 

 

Next was Veronica (I named the Veronica’s Mitts after her).  She started with a guacamole (that she made) and then used the Imberico & Soft Fontina along with the Rosemary bread and threw in some thinly sliced onions and cooked it on the skillet with butter (of course).  Veronica gave me a hard time when I was watching her cook, so there are no “action” shots, but here is a picture of her finished sandwich. Yum!

 

 

I was up next.  I wanted to kick this competition into high gear.  I sliced some onions and cooked them in butter and white truffle oil and then added a few garlic cloves as well as a rosemary and thyme bundle.  Then I put the onions aside and sauteed some thinly sliced pear in the same skillet.  I took the garlic from when I cooked the onions and mashed it up into a paste an mixed it in with some butter and (fat-free) mayo (how do they make that?).  Then I took the rosemary bread and made a layer of Imberico then topped it off with the onions and pears, then a layer of the Raclette.  It went into the skillet and browned until it got all gooey.  When it was about 5 seconds away from being ready I took them all off the skillet, spread one side with the garlic paste I made and threw them in for another five seconds.  Here are a couple pictures:

 

       

 

After that we were all a little tired of cooking and the game was over, so we decided to take a break and go to the beach for a little while.  We drove over to Will Rodgers beach and just hung out there for about an hour or so until we were ready to head back home for some more cheese.

 

When we got back Nicole was very excited to get started again.  She started to crisp up some thinly sliced pieces of the Prezel Challah in the toaster oven.  Then she made some kind of mustard-butter paste (I wasn’t really paying attention, I was on Pretzel Challah crisping duty).  She used the Sourdough for the outside then out in a layer of Semi-soft Fontina, a layer of the crisped Prezel Challah, a layer of Tripple Creme with Wild Mushrooms and then spread the mustard paste over the top slice (on the outside), and then popped it into the oven and then then the broiler.  After it was all golden brown and crispy she added some freshly chopped tomato to the center and served.  It was very good.

 

   

 

Then I decided to make one more sandwich.  I was pulled out the big guns!  I had made some of my mac-n-cheese for Thanksgiving and threw in a separate batch into the freezer for the perfect day.  Two days ago I pulled it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to defrost.  I warmed it up in the oven (man I forgot how good this stuff is!) and was got ready for the sandwich of a lifetime.  Woohoo!  The Macaroni and Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich!  Yes!  I pulled out the Pretzel Challah for this one and put a layer of Cheddar, a layer of The Mac, and a layer of American.  That is all.  I greased the baking sheet with olive oil spray and covered the sandwiches in it as well and put it in the oven.  Here are a couple of photos so you can see the decadence.  It was very gooey (I promise), and yummy!

 

     

 

After that it was all over.  That was the heaviest sandwich ever!  It was pretty good too.  I think Nicole’s first sandwich was the best one of the whole day.  The other judges did not agree.  Veronica got first place with her guacamole grilled cheese sandwich.  I guess we all should have used some avocado to level the playing field.  Here are a couple of pictures of Veronica with her prize!

 

      

 

She got a wonderful and very official certificate and a coupe of washcloths I knitted up from Mason Dixon Knitting (a personal favorite).  I wanted to make a t-shirt for the prize, but I ran out of time.  Next year I might made an apron as a prize for the winnder, with pictures of cheese everywhere.  Haha!  So my little gathering was quite successful and that included a detour to the beach.  We had fun and can’t wait until next year!  Woohoo!

Every now an then the planets align and I get in the mood for making my own salsa and have all the ingredients to make it as well.  I have been getting a bit lazy when it comes to my cooking and I am in my “roasting phase.”  Pretty much everything I cook goes into the oven… easy to do and easy to clean-up (especially since I’m not the one doing the dishes).

So what do you need?  Please keep in mind that I eye-ball every time I cook, so there are no amounts and measurements and I encourage eye-balling everything yourself as well!

tomatoes (of course)

onion

garlic

spicy peppers of some sort (this time I had Thai chilies)

fresh cilantro

lemon or lime

oil of course

and then all your usual seasonings, like salt, pepper, & dried oregano

 

 

First thing (after you clean all your veggies) cut your tomatoes and onion into quarter pieces.  Lay them out on your baking sheet along with your garlic, onion, and peppers.  Drizzle with oil, in this case I used avocado oil and olive oil.  Then sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried oregano.  Now- lets talk about these chili peppers for a bit.  I have never used Thai chilies for salsa before (but spicy is spicy right?!) so I wasn’t sure how many to use.  So what did I do?  I roasted all of them.  You don’t have to add them all to your salsa, you can taste as you blend.

 

 

Pop it into the 350 degree oven (uncovered) until it looks like this:

 

 

Then put all the roasted ingredients in a bowl and add a little more oil, olive or avocado, you choose… maybe you want to mix it up this time and add garlic oil….. ooooooooh… aaaaaaaaaah….

 

 

Then with a handy hand-blender (love this tool!) just blend the ingredients until it reaches the texture you desire.  Make sure you pulverize out all the bits of chili, you don’t wanna get a mouth full of that.  Hot!  If you don’t have a hand-lender don’t worry- you can use a food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, don’t worry- you can use a blender (but it gets a bit foamy, so pulse it instead of blending it.  If you don’t have a blender, don’t worry- you can use a hand-blender.

Then squeeze in a generous amount of lime or lemon (to taste), make sure there is enough salt and the flavor is good.  I love fresh herbs so I piled it on with chopped cilantro and scallions, yum!  Serve with your favorite bowl of chips.  I just discovered these yummy quinoua tortilla chips at Trader Joe’s.  What a combo!

 

 

I hope you enjoy my lazy roasting salsa recipe!

Yesterday was the last day of the Renegade Craft Fair here in Los Angeles.  Last minute I decided to go because I had heard good things and I really wanted to see what it was all about.  So I got in my little peanut of a car and headed over to Chinatown, what an adventure!

When I got there I was starving, so I met up with friends Hanna, Danielle & Jill and we headed for the line-up of food trucks.  Yesterday was my first time eating from a food-truck.  We went for the truck with the longest line because that meant it was the best truck, right?!  We ate from the Crispy Waffle & Frite Truck.  Here is a photo of Hanna & Danielle waiting in line for some fooooood!

 

Hanna & Danielle

I ended up getting the “Tripple B” – Bacon, Brie & Basil waffle with the medium fires with Lemon & Dill Aioli.  Carbs on carbs on fat on fat.  It was AMAZING!  And there was a surprise, the waffle had maple syrup under all the toppings.  I love food trucks!  Here is a close-up of my breakfast for the day.  Hungry yet???

 

The “Tripple B”

 

Frite with Lemon Dill Aioli – yummy!

 

Our bellies were full of a good hearty and healthy (lol) breakfast/lunch and we were ready to make our way through the aisles of the Renegade Craft Fair.  We didn’t have to walk very far to find some really cool things.  I found the awesome vendor LittleBirds.  She specializes in small bags and pouches…. hmmm…. kinda like knitting or crochet project bags and accessory pouches.  Of course I showed no restraint and bought two pouches.  One mini and one larger, one for my dpns and one for small crap like stitch markers.  You can find more of her lovely pouches and “project bags” on her etsy site.

 

Littlebirds products

 

 

Next I stumbled upon a local fiber artist, Miryha Runnerstorm of Blarney Yarn.  She had a wonderful selection of beautiful hand-dyed roving.  My favorite was the Polwarth.  I had never seen Polwarth before, I only read about it in The Book of Wool by Clara Parkes of Knitter’s Review.  Polwarth reminds me a lot of merino, but it has a bit more of the lanolin feel (which I love) and a little bit of a sheen – not as much as Bluefaced Leicester, but more subtle.  I purchased two bundles of this roving, one in the colorway “Evergreen” and the other in “Autumn II”.  I’m not sure when I will have time time to spin this yummy Polwarth into yarn. Maybe when I retire I’ll have more time.  To find more products by Blarney Yarn visit her Etsy site.

 

 

I had made it about half way through the fair when I came across a really fun booth.  The booth belonged to fellow designer/blogger Leah Coccari-Swift of Ruby Submarine.  Leah had a really great and fun selection of crochet sea creatures, including squid, starfish & octopuses (yes octopuses, I looked it up).  They were bright and colorful and make great gifts.  Here is a photo of Leah in action and some of her pieces for sale.

 

 

 

Then a couple of booths over was the vendor Cookie and the Dude. I think that’s a very cute name, I wish I knew the story behind it.  I did not get a chance to meet the owner (I think she was getting lunch- maybe the Waffle truck) but I still got a few of her products.  She had these adorable fabric covered buttons that she turned into little hair pins and earrings.  I got two sets of hair pins and Danielle got a pair of earrings.

 

       

 

There were a few more vendors that I passed by that are definitely worth mentioning.  Rachel Pepper of Kingfly handbags & accessories.  I really fell in love with her handbags.  You can see their unique design and fun colors on her site.

The Bocket Store was another really great vendor.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the great bowl I bought (maybe on part II I’ll show you).  Sarah has a very unique product, she takes discarded wooden objects and rehabilitates them by paining teeny tiny dots on them with a very fine paintbrush. I imagine this takes a tremendous amount of patience and love for the work.  Please make sure you visit Sarah’s Etsy store to see what she is all about.

One of Hanna’s favorite vendors was Yellow Wallpaper Handmade.  It is a one woman handbag factory.  Every piece that she makes is made to order. Here is a picture of Hanna with her brand new bag, Nom Nom!

 

 

Another designer & vendor that was definitely worth mentioning, JFish Designs.  Wow!  I love ceramics – I but I was never too good at it, which is why I stick to my needles & yarn.  Jennifer Fisher’s pieces have a very modern yet adorable look.  They are very simple but very fun.  I fell in love with these little eggs…. I photographed them with a small safety pin so that you can get an idea of how tiny and adorable these little guys are.

 

Yellow & grey, my two favorite colors together!

 

Danielle fell in love with this little tiny potted succulent and I don’t blame her.  Now I wish I bought one for myself.  Boohoo! I am thinking about all the places where I can hang a tiny plant.  I think I might need like three of these cute little things.  Please make sure you check out Jennifer Fisher’s Etsy shop she has many really great products with functionality!

       

All in all I am really glad I got my butt out of bed for this event.  I found some really great local vendors and got lots of really great stuff!  Plus I got to eat from a food truck for the first time, woohoo and yum!  I can’t wait for this craft fair to come back to LA… maybe I’ll go to San Francisco next week so I can experience the fair all over again.  Haha!

There is still one more vendor that I didn’t mention in this blog post.  I love her concept so much that I thought she deserves her own post.  I don’t want to mention too much about this vendor (because I want it to be a surprise) but I won’t be able to blog about it for a while.  It’s kind of like a custom order thing…. but not really…. hard to explain.  You will just have to keep checking in to find out.  Eeek…. I’m so excited!!!