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52 Books: Poor Man’s Feast by Elissa Altman

4 Jan

Book #1 from my 2014 goal to read 52 Books in 52 Weeks:

i love a good cover

i love a good cover

Another wonderful recommendation from the good folks at Book Larder in Seattle WA (which you should definitely check out next time you’re in the Pacific North West – if only for their amazing and affordable lunchtime cooking classes – genius idea!).

Anyway, back to Poor Man’s Feast by Elissa Altman: if you are a foodie and/or a writer and/or a person who loves good writing and good eating, you will love this book. As her longer title explains, this is a “love story of comfort, desire, and the art of simple cooking.” Altman, a self-professed fancifier of food – the more complicatedly prepared and precariously perched on the plate, the better – falls in love with a fellow foodie and “simple is better” cook who shows her the beauty of uncomplicated food to be shared simply with loved ones.

She mixes in reminiscences of her family and their relationship to eating and cooking, as well as the often fraught dance between two people who have lived long and separately who then want to create a life together. Set mainly in NYC and rural Connecticut, it talks lovingly about the Manhattan food scene as well as the process of acclimating to a less urban hometown, where fresh baked bagels, authentic Chinese food and not-immediately-frozen fish can be hard to come by.

There are recipes as well, very delicious looking ones that I have yet to try, but these two looked the most immediately accessible and delicious to me: “Yellow Split Pea Soup with Ham” and “Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine.”

A great first read for 2014, and an exciting start to my 2014 goal of reading 52 books in 52 weeks.

Happy Reading!

Endorsement Monday: Cooking Classes at PREP Kitchen Essentials

22 Jan

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time is take a cooking class. I’ve talked about it, I’ve researched the classes, I even put it on my 101 Things list. And now I can say that I’m a proud cooking class graduate!

CityBoy was roped into this fantasy, being that I found an awesome French-themed class just in time for someone’s birthday (yes, I gave my husband a birthday gift that I would have wanted – don’t judge me).

PREP Cooking Essentials is a clean, modern kitchen store in Seal Beach with a great cooking program. They’re even have “Learn to Cook” and professional chef’s classes!

I signed us up for “December in Paris,” which harkened us back to our recent anniversary trip to Paris. Chef Elizabeth Whitt is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate who is down-to-earth, very knowledgeable and passionate about food and teaching.

we're all ears, Chef!

we’re all ears, Chef!

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My 101 Things: Levitated Mass at LACMA

10 Nov

Over the past few months, I added four new things to the Done column in my ongoing pursuit of My 101 Things, aka the Day Zero Project, including “See Levitated Mass at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).”

I’ll try to get to the other things in due time, but first off, let’s talk about the Big Rock, otherwise known as Levitated Mass.

People, Rock, Palm Trees

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Jho in the City of…(wait for it)…Paris!!!

3 Nov

Wow, it has been a whopping four months since my last post here, four months in which I have worked at work, driven hundreds of miles and watched many, many hours of television. I also have read a few books – I’m now working on Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, seen some bands, eaten lots of interesting (and not so interesting) things and in general, lived as my brethren do, inching (though sometimes it feels more like slaloming) into that eternal dirt pile waiting for us all.

Sheesh, sorry guys, didn’t mean to get so weird there at the end. Anywho, rather than bore you with (apparently halfhearted) promises of writing more and recommitting myself to The Artistic Pursuit, I’ll just get on with it. Perhaps some of you are still slightly interested.

So…without further ado, I bring you:

Ah, Dusk Lights the Tuileries Garden in Paris!

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Work in Progress: Salvage: Arizona

25 Jul

* poof *

My 101 Things: 5% Done, 95% to Go

24 Jul

Woohoo! There is money in the Money Pot, ladies (and gentlemen).

the Money (Tea) Pot

As part of my 101 Things in 1,001 Days challenge, I pledged to put away $5 for every Thing I completed. We’re now up to a whopping $30 USD, thank you very much, for crossing off such great challenges as:

– Getting a library card (hello, Alamitos Library!)

– Setting up an emergency fund (hello, Istanbul – I am nothing if not single-minded)

– Revising 10 poems

I’m actually super delighted by this last one. As part of my unending list of neuroses, you may remember that I freaked out on Google Docs (or Google Drive, or whatever new madness those wacky Googleites are concocting next) a month or so back, when I couldn’t print any of my poems from my account. Instead of going back to the manual typewriter, as I sometimes dream about (god, remember that beautiful click-clacking of the keys, the jingle bell satisfaction of the return lever), I settled on the next big thing: retyping all my  manuscript poems as good, old-fashioned, single-computer accessible Word documents.  Continue reading

Bookstore Daydreams: It’s All About Location, Location, Location

17 Jul

As you probably know, my current Big Picture fantasy is to someday open my own bookstore. It’s on my 101 Things list, and it’s my mental Happy Place when work or family or The Boy is driving me nuts. I picture walking past the shelves of books, the comfy seating areas, the big display tables laden with books I love. I think about the things I’ll do to make reading exciting to others. If you’re talking to me and I seem out of it, that’s where I am, in my Bookstore Daydreams.

I’ve started, barely, to look into what it would take to make this a reality, and it is daunting, amazing really, how actual people, not corporations or franchises or conglomerates, become business owners. There is so much to do and learn and plan for, so much money to be saved up or gotten (somehow), so many things to think about.

I know I’m not anywhere near the stage of starting a small business. As someone who wants to open a brick-and-mortar store, not just sell my wares on the Interwebs, I know there are a lot of hurdles to jump, messy seas to navigate.

Which is why I like to dream. One of the things I like to imagine is where this Bookstore Daydream might someday live, in the real world of Long Beach, CA. So you won’t believe what I found the other week as I was out on one of my long perambulations around my neighborhood. Continue reading