Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall is... the air...kinda

Last week, fall snuck in on us here in So. Cal and we were treated to brisk mornings, sunny afternoons and went to bed with the windows open and socks on our feet. Ok, I had the socks on...but in any case it was days & days with no A/C. This week? Back to high 90's...possibly triple digits by the weekend. (insert disgusted emoji) 

But the hot, dry conditions give way to perfect growing conditions for our Pomegranate tree.
It has exploded with so many of these bejeweled beauties, I can't pick them them fast enough. I'm scouring Pinterest for the best vinegars, syrups and other recipes to make.

I LOVE the imperfections. What really fascinates me is how all the universe forces ready these beauties just in time for Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. Which by the way, for three days I was in a food stupor-going from one dinner to the next with such intoxicating holiday foods. We rounded out the celebration with our own Friday night's dinner of holiday deliciousness! 

World events have been sobering lately and they cause a bit of angst with me. When the concern gets to much, I cook and clean...that's healthy right?!  So you can imagine how spotless the house is and there are new and flavorful dishes to eat too. 

I made this apple cake after being inspired by my son, Austin, who just happened to have apple bourbon. He told me that if I was interested in baking something with it I could~coming from him, that's a HUGE hint! Say no more honey! So I found this 
Ultimate Apple Cake

It could not have been easier. The recipe calls for rum, but I think anything to 
compliment the apples would be just fine. I also added a couple of dashes of Saigon cinnamon to the flour mixture. I have a wonky oven and only need a 40 minute bake.

Oh, and I made a boozy whipped cream for the top. But don't worry, it isn't overpowering.

It's definitely a cake you'd want to share with a girlfriend, or dinner guests...

...or not. I'll leave that entirely up to you! (insert winking emoji)

Happy (apple baking) snapping!

Ultimate Apple Cake
3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
3/4 tsp baking powder 
pinch salt
4 large apples (any kind you like, mix & match)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3TBS rum 
(or apple schnapps, or Calvados, or apple bourbon whiskey)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted & cooled

Heat the oven to 350 F*.
 Butter a 8-inch springform pan with butter, set aside.
Peel and core the apples, cut them roughly in 1 inch chunks. Reserve in medium sized bowl.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisker until frothy add the sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the rum, vanilla extract and mix well. Add half of the flour mixture, mix until fully incorporated, pour half of the butter and whisk to combine. Repeat with the rest of the flour then the rest of the butter.
Pour the thick batter over the apples, use a silicone or plastic spatula to mix them gently, trying to cover each piece with some of the batter. The mixture will seem too thick and you'll be tempted to use less apples...Don't do it! Trust the recipe! Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Use a fork to level the apples as much as possible, but don't worry to much about it.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted at the center of the cake. Remove the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes before opening the sides.

Boozy Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla 

Chill missing bowl 10-15 minutes, 
Have all ingredients pre-measured
Beat cream, bourbon, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The skinny...

...on gluten

homemade gluten free cookies

It's more than a buzz word now. It is a real thing. It's not a fad or a craze and it's here to stay. I'm not even really sure how we as a society got to this point that has changed millions of people's dietary habits to live a gluten free life...although I have my theory. 
In any case, a gluten free diet is a committed life style change and it's very different for every person that decides to at the very least try it. 
Now, there is huge difference between Celiac disease, wheat allergies & gluten sensitivity and you can read all about those here at
 The site is a wealth of information from getting started, tips to recipes.
 **Disclaimer**A visit with your Dr. is always a good idea if you're planning on making big dietary changes. 

homemade gf peach crisp
Truth be told, I am by no means an expert in this field & my reasons for a gf lifestyle will be very different from yours. I get asked a lot of questions about why I'm gf and friends shudder at the thought of not eating bread-But here's a question for you...if you eat something that causes pain and makes you feel miserable, why would you still want to eat it? (insert curious thinking emoji)

It was after eating at an Israeli restaurant, where all I ate were their salads and laffa bread. Within an hour I was miserable in my own skin & in quite some discomfort. I kept thinking I didn't eat that much & couldn't understand why I hurt. The next morning, still feeling uncomfortable, ate a bowl of Total cereal. Completely healthy right? But 100% whole grain wheat. Almost immediately, the symptoms I felt from the night before made themselves apparent. For me, that was a light bulb moment some 4+ years ago. In hind site, I had been gluten sensitive years before it was a household word.

 I decided to stop eating anything wheat related for three days to see what would change-if anything. 
By the 3rd day, my belly bloat disappeared and the nagging headache that plagued me morning till night disappeared. It was a no brainer at that point and decided that matter what bread, cookies and brownies weren't worth it. In time, other symptoms faded. The hypoglycemia that I was diagnosed with some 25 yrs ago...gone. I started having more energy and I've just never looked back.
That brings me to present day.
 I'm constantly trying new products, I scour Pinterest looking for recipes and I've been tossing the idea around of adding gluten free posts for some time now. A comment that my blogging friend Nicki made on my last post lit a fire under me to just jump in and do it.
Thank you Nicki!
I'm still feeling my way but it's like any other dietary's for life so yeah, I'm constantly looking for more dishes to add into my world.  I can certainly take some guess work out for you to boot.
So, that's my story-
I've got some things on the back burner that I'm excited to be sharing soon.
Of course,
questions and comments are always welcomed. If I don't know, we'll find out together!

Happy (September) shooting!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer Peach Crisp...

...with Whiskey Butterscotch Sauce

About a month ago, the aroma of peaches grabbed a hold of me at the grocery story and I knew immediately I was hungry for a peach crisp. Of course the cold storage peaches we get here are nothing like what I remember as a kid, spending time vacationing in Pennsylvania with my grandparents and picking peaches right off the tree. Nothing beats a fresh picked peach and I'm lucky enough to have eaten the difference!

But, one does what she can with what she's got.
 I scoured Pinterest for a basic crisp recipe and found it 
here at Lollyjane ...
...and while I'm sure this recipe can stand on it's own, baking is about being expressive and creative and I wanted to play with some flavors that were swirling around in my head. 

I chose to add ginger and fresh nutmeg. Before I put the crumble on I give a few twists of cracked pepper to the peaches. Crazy I know-but I swear it works. I always keep a tube of Ginger paste from Gourmet Garden in my fridge along with fresh whole nutmeg. I always use Saigon cinnamon because it contains essential oil and has a more distinct flavor.
I can eat tiny, tiny, teenny amounts of gluten but this crisp is not that tiny amount I can eat. I paid for my foolishness for two days so I tweaked the crisp part for us gluten peeps!

gluten free 

I got up early this morning to bake the gf crisp before the sun came up and 150 degrees outside!
** I added another 1/2 peach to the recipe amount to fit my 8" cast iron.

gluten free

Lets talk about this sauce!

from HERE at Serious Eats. 
Austin told me to add 2 more TBSPs of whisky without changing the ratio of anything else and I really wish I would have listened him!

It just takes the crisp to a whole new dimension!

gluten free

Hopefully you can still find peaches to try this. If you make it, I'd love to hear about it.

Summer Peach Crisp 
Serves 4

For the Fruit
2 heaping cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
 2 TBSP cornstarch
3/4 tsp fresh ginger
fresh nutmeg, to taste
a couple of turns of cracked black pepper

For the Topping
4 TBSP butter, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour  
(1/2 c gf oats, ground, 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP gf all purpose flour)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
scant 3 TBSP granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*
In a medium bowl mix together ingredients for the fruit. 
Spoon fruit into four standard ramekins that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. 
(or 8" cast iron skillet see ** above)
In the same bowl mix together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Add in melted butter and mix with a fork. Mixture will not be completely wet but more sandy in texture. (It should clump together if you squeeze it) (The gluten free topping will be completely wet)
Sprinkle mixture over the fruit. Leave some larger clumps so it stays crisper while baking.
Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is lightly golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Cool for a bout 15 minutes before serving.

Hope this crisp hits the spot as summer sends down. Shoot me an email if you have any questions!

Happy (summer days) shooting!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017



I sat with my coffee at the kitchen table this morning, staring out the window, waiting for the sun to come out, quickly realizing that it most likely would not make her predictable appearance. There was an odd shift in the weather, gray, overcast skies. Thick, warm air that makes you work for a breath seemed stale and still. Whatever it was seemed to matched my mood. My usually quiet insides were screaming (and still are although better) to make time slow down and not let summer end. 

It happens every August 1, when I flip the calendar and see "1st day of instruction." This year, it's worse only it shouldn't because once I get going it's 180 days of "lasts." My last first day, my last group of kids, my last winter and spring break, my last last day of school. This past school year was tulmultuious at best and things haven't quite settled yet so I know that's part of it. Rotten & underserving things have happened to co-workers that have completely unnerved me and I know that's part of it too. 

It's the shift from laissez-faire days to waking up to an alarm clock that has me feeling like a kicking and screaming child that wants her way to play a little longer. The littlest, quiet part of me is telling me that this too is a "last", take a breath and count my blessings.

I need to trust the process and tell myself over and over and over again, that everything is happening exactly the way it is suppose to. 
Honest to goodness...right now...looking out that same window as this morning, a rainbow has appeared over the valley. 
So, this is where I stand on this first day of August...shifting with the weather, a belly full of butterflies waiting for optimism that I expect of myself to return, looking for balance through it all.

How do you take shifts in your life? Do you journal, paint, clean, exercise? 
Please share, I'd love to hear.

Happy (August) shooting!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Little Things...


The Storrier-Stearns garden is a sweet little 2-acre hidden oasis in Pasadena that I discovered through Group-on. Between my work/summer schedule and it's select open days, it seemed timing wasn't on my side until last week. 

I learned that during the 19th Century, Americans had a fascination with Japanese culture. The garden was built for the wealthy couple, Charles & Ellamae Storrier-Stearns by craftsman and landscape designer, Kinzuchi Fuji. The land was actually flat but Mr. Fuji began the construction of the tranquil multi-level garden that it is today after a year of planning. It took 7 years to build. 

The original tea house burned down in the early 80's but was rebuilt by another accomplished landscape architect, Dr. Takeo Uesugi using Mr Fuji's original plans he took with him to an interment camp where he spent the duration of the war. The garden has several alcoves with seating so the visitor can enjoy quiet reflection and contemplation. 

The highlight of the day was attending a tea ceremony where I learned the fascinating history of tea houses by a sweet docent, Yumi, dressed in a traditional kimono.

Not part of the gardens, but across the street was a little park that I wandered through before my drive home. I came upon a Wish Tree which later found out was inspired in part from an art series by Yoko Ono where a wish is written and tied to a tree. 
I found it to be a beautiful and moving sentiment and didn't dare read the hopes of others.

Summer is quickly coming to an end for me with only a few more weeks to play, discover and just be...but what a summer it's been!
I'm sharing over at Tamar's today.

Happy (summer) Snapping!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Little Things...


Hello July and hello to you!
I probably don't have to tell you how fast this summer is zipping' by. 
It struck me this morning how my best-laid-plans to be here, in this space over the break, haven't gone the way I first envisioned. I've learned though, to go with the flow~and I'm never far away really. Things actually started way back at the end of May when I flew up to North Dakota to visit my oldest son, Justin, who's stationed at Minot.
My big girl camera, Matilda, has been in overdrive ever since.

Justin was stationed in Korea for several years and we just needed some face time...REAL face time.
It was a hoot and quite a different experience. 

It's a different world than either of us were expecting as were out and about exploring.

Gol Stave Church-a replica of the original that was built in Gol, Hallingdal, Norway

The original was built in 1157-1216
Soon after, the Mr and I took a quick cruise to Havana, Cuba.

The view from a hilltop overlooking the bay of Havana

Cuba has been on my bucket list way before I even knew what a bucket list was...I was like 7. I remember very hush hush conversations between my parents about Cuba. I'm sure they weren't pleasant conversations. It was the 70's & we didn't have the news sources we do today.

Cristo de La Habana on top of the hill overlooking the bay of Havana
is 66 ft. tall and made of Carrara marble brought from Italy.
Their music is electric.

Years before my dad got Alzheimers, he use to tell me that when he was on his death bed, he'd tell me how close we were to a full scale nuclear war. But that's not a secret anymore.  I just never imagined that as an American I'd ever be able to visit.

So imagine my excitement when restrictions were eased and U.S. citizens could actually go.
 (Thank you President Obama!)
Cuba has been demystified and I hope to go back. Going on a cruise is great to get feet your wet, but I  wanna get soaked in the culture. 
It's totally true about the cars there 
(big puffy heart)

We no sooner got home, and 3 days later, the Mr. and I were off to Kauai.

Waimea Canyon...

...known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

3,000 feet deep with AMAZING views and great hiking

Spouting Horn in Poipu
waves are forced under a lava shelf and the forced through an opening 

Wailua Falls
This waterfall was featured on the opening credits of Fantasy Island.

Roosters are EVERYWHERE after Hurricane INIKI hit the Island in '92. It destroyed chicken coops and released domesticated hens and as well as roosters that were bread for fighting. 
Other happenings...
*This is my last year of work! YUP...I'm retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year. I can't even say that without grinning from ear to ear & a butterfly or two in my stomach!
*The Mr. only has about 2 1/2 years until he's done, so we're planning our retirement and getting ready to look at our forever house that's NOT in CA. We just got in touch with a there local realtor who'll be showing us homes. I've been on Zillow every-single-day. Stay tuned!
*Austin leaves for Navy boot Camp Feb. 2, so this 4th of July was extra special and a little bitter sweet because it will be the last time all the cousins will be together for a long time. I'm savoring every Mom moment I can.
*If you follow me on IG, you'll know I've been participating in a summer "index card a day" art project. The host gives out weekly prompts and it's up to you to interpret them and create. It's less daunting working on a 3x5 card then a BIG OLE blank sheet of paper. It's been A LOT of fun for me carving out time to just play.

Crazy I tell ya!
I bet this is what retirement is like!

What's the summer like for you?
Please share.

Happy (vacation) shooting!

I'm sharing over at Tamar's today.