l o v e l y t h i n g s



Have fun tonight!


toast & jam + home made bread

I found an old cookbook that my husband and I received many years ago.  In 1993 I had no interest in making bread.  It seemed far too time consuming and involved staying around the house all day.  Now, that's exactly what I love about making bread.  Luckily the book, The Il Fornaio Baking Book is a beautiful black bound book so when we moved it made the cut.  The author, Franco Galli writes the recipes in a way that seems like he's right there talking you through it.  My first attempt was a Pagnotta, a round country bread.  When kneading the dough he says, "This will take 15 or 20 minutes of kneading, including some 1 - to 2-minute rest periods along the way for the dough to relax slightly ~ and for you to relax, too." 
I need to work on shaping the dough. . .
right out of the oven . . .


more soup please. . .

I combined a couple of recipes and came up with a soup that is so delicious...But first I must say I was completely inspired to make this soup after reading about the adventures of little Lulu on a perfect Autumn day in New England.  I can't wait for this book to come out!  I must admit that not only was I inspired, but a little jealous...Lulu is just darling and seems to have quite a sophisticated palate.  And I'm pretty sure when she asks for more soup she says, "plus de la soupe, s'il vous plaît."  It took a while for my children to love food the way Lulu does.

 Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
You will need to gather:
olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 leek, white and light green part only, sliced thin
2 to 3 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, small dice
2 -3 sprigs of fresh Thyme, leaves removed from stem and chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper
Saute the vegetables in olive oil for about 7 minutes or until soft.  Add about a tablespoon of flour and stir to combine, be careful not to scorch and cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat until you are ready to add the roasted vegetables.

The roasted vegetable:
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 small turnips, peeled and diced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
Toss vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet with sides in a single layer.  Roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender with a fork, turning once.

you will also need:
Crème fraîche
 goat cheese
fresh parsley
Light Muscovado sugar
Vegetable stock (1 qt. + 10 oz.)
white truffle oil

Add the roasted vegetables to the pot with the onion mixture and return to the heat.  Add one quart, plus one can of vegetable broth.  Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 1 tablespoon light Muscovado  sugar or light brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 45 minutes.   Once the vegetables are very soft, use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. (It took quite a while for everything to blend to a smooth consistency, but it did blend together well and a food processor was not needed).  I use an immersion blender that I purchased at Sur la Table for about $30 and it works very well.
At this point the soup has been cooking for 45 minutes and it is ready to be blended. 
I served it as suggested by La Tartine Gourmande and garnished it with fresh parsley, goat cheese crumbled and a drizzle of white truffle oil over the top.  We also stirred in about a tablespoon of Crème fraîche in each bowl and shared a braeburn apple, cheddar cheese and a glass of white table wine.  Enjoy!



Sometimes this is all it takes to make someone happy.  Yesterday before my 12 year old arrived home from school I received an email letting me know that my son had volunteered to bring in treats for the Halloween party at school.  Well of course I was thrilled (he's my youngest and it's all slipping away too fast).  I started thinking of things we could make for the occasion.   But this is what he wanted...sometimes it doesn't have to be complicated to make someone happy.


lovely things thursday + the afternoon light

The afternoon light on my beautiful Glassybaby,  the amber bottles I found while thrifting recently and a few See's Candies Halloween chocolates made their way into this shot as well!  Hope you have lovely day!


Bite size

The New York Times had a tiny cupcake on the front page of Dining today from Baked by Melissa.  The last few times we were in NY we managed to stop by quite a few times.  They have 5 locations conveniently sprinkled around the city and just seem to appear right when you need a little treat.  They are hard to resist.  Everything is turning up in bite size from popsicles to cannoli's. 
This inspired me to make a few mini treats. . . everything in size tiny is just so much cuter.
The New York Times, Wednesday, October 26, 2011


more butternut squash + salad

Ina Garten's roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette reminds me of the warm spinach salad of the 1980s.  It was on every menu and they typically served it table-side so the spinach would not wilt.  This salad is made with arugula, butternut squash and dried cranberries...a perfect fall salad.
I actually used leftover butternut squash that had already been roasted.  Put it on a baking sheet, added a few dried cranberries and roasted for about another 5 minutes.
The salad dressing is right out of the pantry.  I had everything on hand which is sort of evident because I probably would have purchased fancy cider vinegar and apple juice if I had to make a special trip...but with these simple ingredients it makes this salad over the top delicious!
Just a gentle toss and this salad is ready!


"Yes Please"

I asked my daughter over morning coffee if she would like to go to LA for the day and her reply was, "yes please."  Good answer, because sometimes it's just a good idea to get out of the hood...our familiar surroundings.  It's not all that easy to do in Southern California.  It was actually less stressful to go into Manhattan when we lived about 40 miles outside the city in Connecticut.  LA traffic...it's as bad as everyone says it is...period.  Still, there's much to see and experience in Los Angeles.  My daughter Madeline and I love to shop and eat, so that's what we did in LA on this beautiful October day.
We found ourselves complaining that putting in two quarters only registered 15 minutes on the meter.  Wait a minute...that's only $2 per hour.  Aren't we used to spending $15 an hour in some midtown NYC parking garages?  Why are we complaining?  They even make it as easy as inserting a credit card and adding minutes.  Okay, maybe there's a few things good about LA.  We had a good laugh about a Woody Allen quote Madeline heard from her AP English teacher.  It goes something along the lines of "the only cultural advantage that LA has over New York is that you can turn right on red."
We had lunch at Chin Chin in Beverly Hills for less than $20 and brought some home.  This part of BH seems, at least to us, off the beaten path and far less typical of what you might think of Beverly Hills.  Madeline is embracing the preppy style and I have to say I am loving it!  JewelryHelen Ficolora "M" charm necklace, acorn locket on long chain, Madewell, bracelets, H&M, TAG Heuer watch, her dad's.
The corner of Beverly and Charleville.  Dimsum at Chin Chin.

What she's wearing. . . Prep head to toe starting with a Burberry sweater of mine from like 15 years ago, her little brother's Ralph Lauren shirt, Coach bag, a recent Thrift store find, cut off shorts from American Eagle Outfitters and  Sperry Top-siders.
We ended our day by strolling through the Farmers Market and a little shopping at The Grove.  There is so much going on here on a Saturday evening.  We heard live music from Midnight Train and there was an outdoor movie going on as well.  So how did you spend your Saturday?


It's soup season

I love fall and I love to cook in the fall...it's not exactly soup weather here in Southern California, but the temperature did dip below 70°, so soup is on the menu!
 One of my favorites is Butternut Squash Soup.  The ingredients are simple and I think it's the Dean & DeLuca Chili Powder Blend that makes all the difference.

This time I made home-made croutons to go with the soup.  In the freezer I had an assortment of left over bread, including a cranberry bagel.  I cut the bread into cubes, drizzled a little olive oil and added some dried herbs and baked in a single layer for about 20 minutes in a 400° oven.
A lot of the flavor also comes from slow roasting the squash.  I use one large or 2 medium butternut squash and peel, seed and cut into 1 inch dice.  I mix it together with course sea salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender, turning once.
While the squash is baking...Dice one large onion, 2-3 shallots and three cloves of garlic.  I use a 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset which is the perfect size for this soup.  Saute all the vegetables in olive oil until soft, season with salt and pepper and add 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Add about a tablespoon of all-purpose flour and stir constantly for a few minutes until it's almost like a paste.  Be careful not let it scorch.   Then add 1 quart hot vegetable broth.  You can use chicken broth, but we prefer vegetable stock in this soup.  Add in a tablespoon of tomato paste and simmer for about 30 minutes.  While still hot, blend until very smooth with an immersion blender or blend in small batches using a regular blender.  If using a regular blender, remove the small inner cap and cover with a clean towel.  Right before serving, you can add a little milk.  It's delicious without it, so we usually skip it.


apple pie in size x-small

Using a little extra pie crust from the chicken pot pies I made mini apple pies. 
I recently found these little dishes at IKEA.  They measure only 3 1/2 inches across and are about one inch deep.
I made them the way my mom made apple pie. . . except I used only one granny smith apple, a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a little bit of butter and a cube of sandwich bread for each dish.  Using the left over pastry, I cut 8 circles using Williams Sonoma set of eleven decorative cutters.  I chose one slightly larger than the dish.  Placed one in each of the four dishes and put a little of the brown sugar in the bottom of each.  Then divided the apple mixture and placed a cube of bread and a tiny bit of butter on each and placed the pastry on top.  Using the tines of a fork, I crimped the edges, cut three slits in each and brushed with egg wash, sprinkled a little pink sea salt and baked for about 15 minutes.

 Making only four individual small servings allows me indulge in one of my favorite fall treats...without any guilt.  And with no leftovers, I won't be tempted to have another piece with my coffee in the morning.


Ina's chicken pot pie + Juliska

We were looking for a recipe for chicken pot pie when we concluded that you just can't improve on Ina Garten's recipe.

With the exception of frozen peas and pearl onions, it's all fresh ingredients.  We even used home made chicken stock.  We don't always have the time for this, but since it was the weekend...
Once the chopping is done, it comes together pretty quickly....but then it needs to bake for an hour!
 The recipe says to divide the filling equally among four bowls.  I used large Juliska ramekins and it made nine individual servings.  The bowls hold about 11 ounces to the top.  This still seemed like a generous size serving.  Also, to cut down on the calories a bit I cut a pattern for the pastry to fit just inside the ramekin as opposed to cutting it larger and fold over the bowl as the recipe calls for.  I purchased these bowls at the Juliska flagship Store in Stamford, CT.   This beautiful store is very close to the Stamford train station and they have an adorable cafe.  It's worth the trip from NYC.  It's about 45 minutes on Metro North from Grand Central Terminal.  There was an excellent feature in Matchbook Magazine.

When I was cleaning up the dishes I noticed how beautiful the light was coming into the kitchen.  I love cooking in the afternoon.


Pink, more Glassybaby love and we have a winner!

First, to honor National Breast Cancer Awareness month I have changed my background color to pink.  Secondly, thank you Valerie at Glassybaby.  I absolutely adore my new "bff" glassybaby and use it all over my house.  Valerie sent me a link from You Tube and it sort of explains the feeling people have about the company and the product.  During the last year, two of my closest friends have been diagnosed with cancer and that is when I came across the company Glassybaby..  So, thank you to those reading my blog, leaving comments and sending emails.  I really really appreciate it. . .  the winner of a Glassybaby of your choice is:  Adrienne of the beautiful blog, The Rich Life (on a Budget).  I used Random.org and the winner was #16 and 16th comment was from Adrienne.       


Thrift stores and flea markets

The thrill of finding a treasure really is in the hunt and there's no better hunt than your local thrift stores and flea markets.  Check out what I've found in the last few months....
I found a new "old" Statue of Liberty for my collection.
A small oval brass tray at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, $2.  The amber bottle is from  the Irvine Valley College Flea Market.  It's changing venues, but still in Irvine on the first Sunday of the month... I also found the handled bowl which has an anchor engraved on it in Irvine as well, $5.  Perfect for pocket change.  What have you found lately?

Preppy Post - Take 2

A while back I did a post on the topic of preppy fashion and apparently I incorrectly linked something and it made by blog disappear.  But with the help of fellow bloggers, I figured it out.  In the 1980s I was as preppy as it gets.  Living in Denver there were stores like Aspen Leaf and the Buccanneer and it was all about prep.  Today I found another copy of the original Preppy Handbook for $1 at a thrift store in Laguna Beach.  It will make a great gift...that is if I can ever let go of any of my thrift store finds.  I become very attached.
Preppy feet...Patrick wearing Sperry Top-Siders and Madeline loves her  Jack Rogers...
Kind of love the Jack Rogers box and I think the Sperry box has the same look as it did in the 80's.
Another come back from the 80's...The original Clark desert boots.  Right out of the box they are so comfortable.....just like they were back then.  I think Patrick will need a pair of these too.           

We love Kiel James Patrick!  We discovered these bracelets last spring and she's been wearing it ever since.  I think it's about time we look into a fall colored bracelet.  And I'm pretty sure she'll find a pair of these in her stocking...check out their new earrings...clip-ons, if you can believe it!  Everything is made in the USA and most of it in Rhode Island...even the piece of fabric and the string they use to tie it up...it arrives looking like a little gift.  If you haven't already read the interview with Kiel James Patrick and Sarah Vickers in Matchbook Magazine...go...it makes me want to trade in my Volvo for a Ford. 



It's fall in Southern California...

The calendar says fall, but the temperatures say summer!  It's really, really hot here today, but I couldn't help notice how even here at the beach in Southern, California there really is the look of the seasons changing.  It's not what I'm used to...I think of crisp air, bright blue skies and of course beautiful changing leaves...but this is what I saw a few hours ago...

                                         So what does it look like outside your door today?