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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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How Jho Got Her West Coast Groove Back…

18 Jun

So what happened was that I went into work one day intending to ask about the possibility of relocating back to California (as I had diligently discussed with my hubby) and ended up giving my notice, albeit for 30 to 60 days in the future. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of things I loved (and miss) about living in New York City, but the daily grind, coupled with a total lack of private living space and a completely unfulfilling (and often crazy-making, I-am-going-to-kill-someone-and-end-up-in-jail) work life made for a decidedly unhappy Jho.

CityBoy and I discussed the pros and cons, got out our lists of potential relocation cities, and started thinking about dates and times and tasks and things-to-do. Then I jumped the proverbial gun. I asked for a sit-down with my then boss and in a space of mere minutes, decided “fuck it, let’s just do it” and committed to my leave-taking. About two seconds after that, I remembered that I was no longer the sole decider of my destiny. Many “shit”s and “oh crap”s floated through my head.  Continue reading

Book Culture: Where to Find It in NYC

18 Jan

I’m routinely asked how I like living in New York City. If it’s by a New Yorker, this is usually phrased as “Don’t you love it here? I mean, I love it. I could never live anywhere else. Could you imagine? God!” or something to that effect. I think this billboard sums up this attitude best:


And while I have loved parts of the city, especially the (often) perfect months of May and October, those parts haven’t added up to enough to allow me to respond with a resounding “Yeah, I love it. It’s amazing.”

My commute crosstown to work each morning  is enough to make any sane non-New Yorker break out in a machine-gun-toting killing spree. Especially in the winter, when it’s 20 degrees out (okay, quiet already, you Midwesterners, I know it could be colder but you have to remember I grew up in Southern California and my peoples are a tropical peoples), and the wind makes that feel like 12 degrees, and you’ve taken great care in dressing so as to not allow one chink in your cold-fighting layers only to have something ride up or ride down, usually where you just can’t reach, and winter’s icy fingers jab you right in the back or hairline or across your presumably boot-bundled toes.

Sorry, I digress. But one of the main things that always, always delights me about New York is the plethora of art/culture offerings, especially for someone like me who is obsessed with the written word. There are book readings, discussions, panels, festivals, award ceremonies, performances – all highlighting that great and magical thing.

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Enter the Dragon, or Here Comes 2012

15 Jan

Happy New Year, my peeps. 2012 is officially here (though I’m still sometimes writing ‘ll or, god forbid, ’09) and it is with quivering hearts that we look to another year, another page turned in the (hopefully) long (and not too boring) novel of our lives.

A new year always makes me a little anxious and angry. Inevitably, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped in the last 12 months, and the thought of resolutions and diets and spring cleaning makes me want to punch the next New-Year-New-You devotee.  Continue reading

The Logic of Two Ovens…or a Thanksgiving Cooking Manifesto

24 Nov

It’s 8:00am and I’m awake in bed, trying to plot out in my coffee-deprived brain how to most efficiently stage my Thanksgiving cooking. I do this every year (at least the years when I’m responsible for more than one dish) and it strikes me that today, of all days, two ovens is a must-have.

I’m as disturbed (and secretly exhilarated) by American excess, our multi-colored and advertising-drenched aisles of toothpastes and dental floss (whitening, tartar control, pro-enamel, sensitive gums, etc.), the unending shelves of cereal for the sugar junkies and health nuts alike, the thrumming rows of frozen vegetables, microwave meals and bagel pizzas.

But two ovens? Man, you won’t know how much you covet them until a day like today. And I’m not even cooking a turkey this year. Reheating a cooked one for several hours – yes. But starting from scratch – no. Nonetheless, Turkey Day requires copious preparation, the will of a field army general, and the absolute confidence to kick people the hell out of your kitchen (this means you, CityBoy, get your own damn kitchen).

Our motley assortment of serving dishes prepped and ready to go

So far, my Thanksgiving day cooking consist of:

Eggplant caponata (done and chilling in the fridge)

Sweet potato casserole (prepped and ready to go into the oven for 30 minutes)

Mashed potatoes

Roasted Brussel sprouts

Green beans pancetta

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Field Trip: Wave Hill, Bronx NY. . . with Bees

30 Oct

Last weekend, CityBoy dragged me out of the City for one last, pre-winter hurrah. As you probably know, Jho and cold weather do not mix. I am a very unhappy camper. CityBoy jokes that it’s always too hot or too cold in New York for me. Which is almost the truth. There are about four weeks each year that I enjoy. Two weeks of spring/heading into summer and two weeks of fall. Otherwise, it is an abominable mess out here.

But back on topic, being the impressive planner that he is, CityBoy realized that last weekend was going to probably be one of the last nice weekends we’ll have for a long while (how depressing is that?), and he decided that he really wanted to get outside of the city for some Nature, with a capital N.

the Pergola Overlook

Which is how we ended up trekking out to Wave Hill, a gorgeous public garden and center set atop the cliffside in way upper Bronx. If you’re familiar with the area and/or have taken a MetroNorth or Amtrak train heading north from New York, you’ll remember seeing these amazing red cliffs from the train as you’ve speed along the Hudson. That’s where Wave Hill is.  Continue reading

…And Some Wedding Thoughts…

12 Oct

Very early on, maybe a week or two into our engagement, CityBoy and I decided that we didn’t want a long engagement. We were approaching four years together, and it was time for this show to hit the road. (I’m not really sure what this means, but you know what I’m saying, right?) I couldn’t imagine spending a whole year (or more) trying to plan the “perfect wedding.”

As most of my friends know, I’m pretty relaxed about most things. I didn’t have a wedding hope chest, or any real notion of what kind of flowers/dress/cake/etc. I wanted. I’ve watched Say Yes to the Dress, but more as an exercise in schadenfreude (a la “Good lord, why would you spend $20,000 that you don’t have on some hoochie dress that shows your bare midriff on your wedding day? You are an idiot and I’m glad to not be your husband.”).

But I did know what I didn’t want. Continue reading