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    San Pedro, CA
  1. Finally some cold, overcast, drizzly days in Los Angeles! Today I picked some parsley, swisschard, leeks and have a nice soup simmering away!
  2. I thank everyone who took the time to offer me suggestions. I am going to stick with the bechamel and go with the addition of "some" processed cheese...lower the heat to 350 and watch it carefully.
  3. I am trying various recipes to find one I can prepare for a crowd of about 50 for a baby shower. Every one I have tried has a bechamel sauce prepared with a roux, then gently melted schredded cheese so it is rich and creamy when combined with the pasta. However, when it comes out of the oven, it seems to have broken down and it is oily. Is the oven too hot? (most recipes call for 375 degrees) Is it baked too long? (most suggest 30 minutes) Is it the cheese? (I used a combination of sharp cheddar and gruyere and some parmesan.) any suggestions would be appreciated.
  4. I watched an episode of Masterchef recently and noticed that Joe Bastianich smells everything before doing his tasting. I don't think it is very attractive to watch and I found myself watching for a grimace that would say it smelled "off" to him.
  5. Well, June gloom seems to have definitely hit the coastal area of So. California. My plants are doing well but I am watching carefully for the dreaded powdery mildew! So far, so good. I am watering by hand using the soaker on the ground, under the leaves. My cucumbers and tomatoes look good. They are both throwing flowers, so I hope it will warm up enough for a nice crop of vegetables this year. Last year was a real disappointment for me. I have started many plants from seeds this year...especially some unique tomatoes. However, I have to say that the volunteer tomatoes that came from my homemade compost looks the most robust at this time. I don't have the heart to pull them out and I don't have a clue what they will bear...kind of fun to have a mystery in the garden. My beans are germinating...just hope the critters don't eat their tender leaves. Here is a photo of a bold squirrel chomping on a chard leave in full view of my front window!
  6. What an interesting question! Coming from an Italian-American background, preparing food for others has always been considered an expression of love and caring. I also think that being the "food provider" demonstrates the important connection between you and the loved one. When my children were younger, I always had emergency food in a baggie in my purse....cherrios, crackers...just in case. To this day I still keep a stash of granola bars in my pocket or glove compartment of the car, not for me but in case someone I love needs it. When I provide the nourishment, I demonstrate the connection I have with the person. I also think of times when you feel helpless. Illness is certainly one of the times, but also at the time of loss...when a friend has lost a loved one. There are no words to ease the pain but a tray of lasagna left in the refrigerator is at least something you can do to help. You ask who's need is it? Well, providing the food certainly fills a need of mine to feel connected to those I care about!
  7. Picking the last of my fava beans. Just love this ancient plant!! Anyone have any special recipes to recommend. I have done dip with goat cheese and lemon, pureed soup, crostini topping, and tossed into vegetable pasta.
  8. What a practical topic...thanks! I have lots of cookbooks but the majority of what I use these days are from clippings out of magazines or newspaper and printed recipes from the internet's various websites. My current method of organization is: one accordion file that holds "recipes to be tried" arranged by category. Once I have actually prepared the recipe and decide if it is a keeper, then I manually type it into my Mastercook software application. Most of my tried and true recipes are in this computer database. I do not use the cookbooks that come with Mastercook; I only use the database feature to hold my own recipes. One thing I like about Mastercook is that it allows me to convert the recipe as a pdf which I can then print out or email to a friend. I am going to look into Google docs. Thanks for the idea. Patricia
  9. In my Italian-American Family we always bring the following 4 items to a relative or friend who has moved to a new house (own or rent): Bread: il pane - the staff of life, symbolizes basic sustenance Salt: il sale - symbolizes the extra zest needed to lift life from the ordinary. (In Italy, salt was taxed and only those who could afford it were able to have "tasty" seasoned food) In fact, my great-great grandmother was sent to "jail" for 6 weeks for stealing some salt water. In reality she had to live and cook for the man in charge of the jail and was permitted to take her nursing baby with her!) Wine - il vino - symbolizes joy and happiness, celebration and good wishes. Broom - la scopa - symbolizes the "clean sweep" of sweeping out the old baggage, old problems, negative emotions (that may be left behind by previous owners). Each item has a little card tied to it, with the above info as well as a "May you have...." wish on it. I have given this so many times, especially to my sons when they move from apartment to apartment that it got the point that when they were planning the move, they'd say "Yes, moving can be expensive, but at least I know Mom is buying me a new broom!" Patricia
  10. I am experimenting with fennel pollen. I saw Emeril using it when he did his Emeril Green shows from the Napa Valley and while I was visiting in Napa found a small container of it. I prepared sauteed fish fillets and then made what I call a Sicilian topping...scallions, garlic, some slices of blood orange, a little white wine and blood orange juice reduced, then raisins and pine nuts tossed in near the end, and a glug of cold butter. I sprinkled the topping and the sauteed fish lightly with the fennel pollen and was surprised at how the flavor popped out! Any suggestions for other things to try?
  11. I just watch some Lidia Bastianich cooking shows where she was cooking recipes from Sardegna and Molise and she used fresh bay leaves in all of the dishes...some with fish.
  12. I have seen articles of very clever things done with children's swimming pools!
  13. I am fortunate that I live in So. California so the fall months are the beginning of a wonderful growing season for us. I have a regular in the ground garden, but I also use containers. I have a very large pot that I use for growing lettuce. I just sprinkle the seed from some of last years seed pods and cover with a think layer of compost...keep it moist and let it go. Having the pot on wheels allows me to move it to areas most conducive to its growth...for us that means indirect sunlight. I also have a dwarf bay tree in one pot and thyme in another.
  14. Thanks for the suggestions...I will try to remember to post our dining experiences when we return. :-)
  15. We just completed a Learning-in-Retirement class on the topic of food. The format is peer-taught, so each member was responsible for teaching one class. Each person selected a food item and did extensive research on the item and then taught us what they learned. It was a bit on the order of reading one of the food books written by Mark Kurlansky. The research covered everything from the origination of the item, the cultural aspects, the political aspects (Were wars fought over it! Were people fined because of it? Were legal battles entered over it?), the nutritional aspects of it and ways to enjoy it. It was a fantastic class, especially when someone brought sample items. We were surprised at how fascinating it all was and we even looked at humble barley differently. This is all a prelude to suggest that you take a food item and share little known facts about it...maybe ending with a recipe?
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