Friday, June 25, 2010

root cellar decor-what the heck is that??

now most people wouldn't think about how to decorate a cellar. thinking back to when root cellars were a real necessity (not something that a food preserver junkie makes when her 5ft kitchen is maxed-out), they were basically a room, like some of the images below:

functional with a hint of scary? yes
cute? oh hells no!
just because it is a storage room doesn't mean that it has to look boring-i mean you are going to spend a little bit of time there, you might as well make it look kind of cool right?
the nice thing about a project like this is that you can get all kinds of crazy decorating and making things fun-its not like you are entertaining royalty in there!
my friend Diana, had the great idea of making a chalkboard to keep track of stuff in there-SO much cuter than a clipboard and pen!!  i had a thin piece of wood in the storage room at the shop, i slapped on a few coats of chalkboard paint and DONE-we attached it to the cute it that.

(looking at this makes me realize that i forgot to date the cabbage!)

color was really important too-who wants to look at dirty old wood and concrete?  i had some zero-VOC bright green paint from AFM Safecoat in enamel that was a mis-tint, talk about perfect for the door!  i used some bright red paint (that i was going to use for our couch, but was too lazy to sand) to paint a huge heart on the door-you know, because food is all about love.
i also had these old window frames-some in our bedroom, but i still had a few extra.  we painted one with the bright green paint and hung it up on the entrance to remind you to duck your head when entering.  at first we were going to paint it red, but that seemed too much like a, "don't enter" seemed like a better choice.

the chalkboard idea led to another decoration: root-cellar graffiti! the upper part of the cellar is old dark wood.  i used the while chalk to make these cute wheat leaves  on the corners and to label the sections of the area-SO MUCH CUTER than the Sharpie i was using before!

lastly, i used old frames that my neighbor was going to throw out to decorate some of the areas. in the center of the frame i either chalked a picture or nailed canning items in.

(always got to have a little Marge representin'-thanks Bonnin Designs!)

the last thing that i need to do is weather-strip the doors for the "uninvited guests" and then you have what i like to call :

 "easy, breezy, beautiful...root cellar
(yes i watch WAY TOO much ANTM)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

affordable art: treasure frey

hooked on etsy-and this is why.
etsy allows you to find some really wonderful and affordable artists like Treasure Frey who has these whimsical and intelligent watercolors that have prints that allow you to have amazing works in a crazy recession.  these images so remind me of childhood favorite books where you can stare at the images and hear the story without reading them. plus she is in LA!

(so needs to be on a shirt)

(Where The Wild Things Are, Where the Sidewalk Ends anyone??)

Here is her ETSY shop for buying!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

a full sunday

usually, i keep father's day pretty quiet-both my father and "D+" (my father-figure/bestie while growing up) have both passed, so for almost 10 years i just use the day to to rest, remember and work on various house projects-i lay pretty low.
this sunday was a different turn.
starting EARLY, like sam style early, we loaded the VW with various preservation items for a trip to the NBC studios to visit with Ted Chen for an appearance on Raw LA to talk about food yeah, i was on TV-talk about the exact opposite of what i usually do!

("call me Master for short Ted!")

right after, we headed out to the Hollywood Farmers' Market for my monthly table-which i havent been able to do for the past 2 months because of a crazy work schedule and being sick (which made me miss the anniversary event, which i am still pissed about a month later!) it was really wonderful to see all of the familiar faces of the market-for Father's Day it was so busy! lots of folks came by and Jake Gyllenhaal was there...but alas, no Booger! we ate at the Farmers' Kitchen and had an amazing breakfast of local eggs, mushrooms and greens of all sorts (super good-you must try)! we ended up leaving with a big case of heirloom tomatoes from Tutti Fruitti Farms for super cheap, strawberries and made some good connections for stone fruit when we come back in 2 weeks-i can't wait.

(big-time garlic from Tutti Frutti-people asked more about the garlic than preserving!)

(adorable wooden eggs we bought from an old European woman-gorg!)

(yeah, Father's Day made no dent in the crowds in h-wood)

we had to cut-out a little early because right after that, we went to Evan Kleiman's beloved Angeli Caffe to help sponsor Nina Garcia, a popular food favorite obtain a mobile vendor operation. even though we were starting to feel the exhaustion of being in the sun and early morning, the fried quesadillas and other goodness was way too much to pass up-

i have to honestly say that i am in awe of Evan and her amazing heart. she opened her business to pave the way for another woman to make more for her business-what an inspiration and woman!

(Evan made me this savory beer drink-basically the topper for my sleepiness)

(SUPER good-gracias Nina!)

the beer and heavy food was trying to do us in-we sang songs to keep us awake so we wouldnt miss the new epi of True Blood (um yeah wasnt it great!).  however, in the back of my mind, i my mind was racing with a number of things...
i miss father's day with D+

Monday, June 21, 2010

Farmers' Market sighting contest-Fathers Day

After a 2 month gap in going to the Hollywood Farmers' Market, i was finally about to make it this past Sunday-and as usual, i saw a famous face.  Be the first person to guess the celebrity that i saw and get a free jar of my latest preserve-Meyer Lemon Marmalade (if you live out of state, you can still play-i will ship for free). 

June 20-father's day

This bearded actor was sighted is still sporting his guns that he obtained for his most recent film.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA cooking: spicy tater (potato) tacos

basket inventory: 2 bunches arugula, strawberries (gone), romaine, sprouts, kumquats, kale, cilantro, dill, another lettuce type, mint, rosemary, lemon, grapefruit, lime, zucchini, yellow squash, avocados, cilantro

(friend of course,  just dont eat 20 a day!) 
image from

i have been making these super yummy and simple potato tacos. these are great for large groups and they are super cheap to make! i recently made them when we had a group over for the LOST finale and they were a big hit-they are filling for the meat-eaters and savory for the veggers. this is also a great way to go through avocados if you have a lot of them.

-for the tacos-
1 pack corn tortillas
5-6 (or more) taters, scrubbed
2 onions, sliced
about 1c. soy/rice/almond milk or tater water from boiling taters
olive oil
chili flakes AND/OR
salt & pepper

3-4 avocados (or more, probably more, guac is always popular)
2-5 cloves garlic, minced
lime juice (or lemon is you dont have lime)
1 serano or jalapeno pepper (or more if you like heat!), minced
salt & pepper

-other toppers-
thinly sliced dark kale (we have in out basket, so we use that) or lettuce
tomatoes (i like to chop mine and juice a lime on them)
cheese, sour cream/ get the picture...

scrub/clean then boil the taters until soft (you can peel them i don't-i like the change of texture in the mix and why create more work!). this can take about 30 min, i usually prep the fixins and...
in a saute pan, add some olive oil, and onions (you can add garlic too) and get them nice and brown, add the chili flakes AND/OR Soyrizo after and mix well-cook another 5 min (you might have to add a little oil to keep from drying out. usually, by the time this and the fixins are finished, the taters are done.
drain and then mash the taters, add milk/water and salt/pepper until they are creamy. do this while the taters are HOT-so much easier!
add the onion mix to the taters and mix well-set aside.
heat a comal or large cast iron skillet on medium heat. add a small amount of oil. warm the tortillas on each side. NOTE: please do this, warming the torts make them flexible and they won't break-worth the extra step!
cup the warm torts in your hand and add a really big spoonful of the tater mix, close the taco a little till it sticks together and lay it on a baking sheet. keep doing this until you run out of something and lay them on a baking sheet next to each other as close as possible.
now you can do 1 of 3 things: wrap the tacos until you need them and put them in the fridge (about 2 days), wrap them in a plastic bag really well and freeze them for a month, or turn the oven on to 350 degrees and heat them up for serving, about 30 minutes, or less if they are still really warm.
for the guac:
scoop out the avocados and mash, start by adding small amounts of all the ingredients and taste/adjust until you have something you like. once you found what you like, get a sheet of plastic wrap and press down on the guac until you have covered everything-this helps it from going brown (that and the lime juice).

take out, and yell "tacos are ready! don't forget the fixins!"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

an afternoon with Evan Kleiman ?!?!

just last week i had a private canning class with culinary "mera mera" Chef Evan Kleiman of Angeli Caffe but you also might know her for her popular show on KCRW Good Food. this class, with Harriet from the show (who i met a few months back) was going to take place in my home on what i hoped would be a not too hot of a day (Summer's are brutal in the apartment homestead!)
i have to admit, i was a little nervous at first about how the class was going to turn out-what do i say, "Evan: cut this, prep that, now wash dishes???..." -i should be doing that! all of this in my shoebox apartment, where the occasional sound of the tire shop next door or lord knows what else would be filtering in.

the first time i met Evan was at a lecture and signing for Alice Water's book on the Edible Garden in Santa Monica. both Ernie and i braved the traffic and crowds for a chance to talk to both Alice and Evan and perhaps give them a jar of loquat goodness.  we were able to say a short hello but both were among a huge crowd of people (of course!!!) so it's not like we shared tales of canning adventures and our favorite restaurants.
but this was different.
Evan and Harriet met me and Courtney (of C-Salt fame, who was is a HUGE fan of Evan's) at the store where we took the short walk to our home.  i proudly showed both ladies my finished root cellar, packed with boozes and dried chilies from New Mexico and my little veggie garden and for the next 3 hours we made jam, jelly and pickles.

(peach-habanero jam bubbling)

(Evan fills the jars with hot basil jelly)

(the afternoon breeze felt great while cooking)

i can't tell you how much fun this class was-it was more like a vacation!  with the faint sound of Loretta Lynn in the background, we talked of food, relationships, pies, jokes, travels, the 127 yard sale and our own personal stories and drank cocktails made from the kumquat vodka from the root cellar. the afternoon reminded me of what food preservation is all about-connecting with people and the world around you- we ended our class with hugs and singing Joni Mitchell songs. our class has turned into new friends!
and more...Evan and I talked about a few ideas and i will be posting them soon!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

FAWUNK! Ball & i celebrate 125 years

in case you didn't know, this year is the 125th anniversary of the Ball Brand-you know the folks who make most of the canning jars we see (there is also Kerr, but i think Ball owns them now).
anyways, to celebrate the anniversary, they put out a collectors jar-a 1-GALLON jar.
Ernie so generously gave me one a few months back, but i keep thinking about all the things i can put into them-but i only have one!
someone got me a present yesterday-i got 2 whole cases-8 jars!!  check-check it out yo!

totally cute right? they dont close like normal jars with a ring and lid, but the top is one whole piece that vacuum seal-i love them!!
today i am going to make a batch of vinegar and kombucha to celebrate!  and guess where they are going to be hanging out!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

update on the root cellar

with everything going on, i totally forgot to mention how the root cellar was going!  this week i will have a special guest coming over to the house (a blog post soon-so excited about this!!) and she wants to see the root cellar-which made me realize that i hadnt posted my progress-and boy is it great!

(produce and some supplies)

what was once a dirty, smelly, scary and trash infested basement it now a fully functioning  food storage area.  although the room is small (about 5x5'), creativity and good organization made the space hold just about everything.
i split the room into 4 main sections which i wrote on the walls for easy organization: supplies, produce, dried goods and booze/fermented products. washed the walls vacuumed the floors and ceiling and installed shelving and hooks that were basically items that were left over from other projects at the store. paints were leftover mis-tints that were just sitting in the back-talk about affordable and efficient!  i have about 6 different kinds of vodkas going: limoncello, grapfruitcello, loquat, cherry, kumquat and pepper.  hopefully i can work on the vinegars after patchwork Long Beach.  but i do have a few new items in there: vanilla extract and bitters!!...but more on that later.

 (most of my canning items are on the opposite wall from the produce)

(booze and fermented stuffs!)

(dried chilies from New Mexico & dill from Morning Song Farm)

have a few more things to do for it to be finished-so you will be hearing about the cellar again soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

we did it!-part 1: Patchwork Santa Ana-June 2010

boy oh boy did we have a crazy weekend. this past Sunday, we had the Santa Ana location of out beloved Patchwork event.
even though this is our 8th event, there are always some things that dont go, "perfect in my dreams" kind of way...might have to do with changes because our little dream has grown!
for this event we closed down Buffalo St which was next to our usual bi-parking lot sites...lemme just tell you, street closure is AWESOME: less heat from the pavement (black on the lots) and it looked 100 times better.
i have to say a uber-special shout out to City of Santa Ana & all the residents on Buffalo for making the closure smooth as butter-we thought it would never happen, but it did without the head/heartaches that we thought we would have.
BIT closing the street meant a different way do doing things: new maps, spacing, paperwork, staffing...a few long nights for both nicole and i were made to help make this latest event one of the best events yet! here are some images of things i noticed and loved.

(bike valet: it was a big hit!)

(solar powered music-YES!)

(new to the event: CSUF glassworks-totally gorg!)

(Risa came from SF with her AWESOME screen printed creations)

(Amorviejo, a local fave had a beautiful booth)

(grand central had a great photo set-up)

(still jealour of Makers League's sign-cute right?)

(Estasia of Wadada sportin' the classes and organic movement)

(Kelso Doesn't Dance-check out her little drawers!!!)

(Salvage Life-super cute stuff, she'll be in LB too!)

(i had to have at least 2 people helping-we were SLAMMED the whole day...thank you August and Lisa...i dont know what i would have done without them!)

(Evocal-love their wooden displays!)

(last but not least: Marge getting her photo at Bonnin Designs pet photo booth)

see you soon in Long Beach on JUNE 27th!!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

so why the break? what happened in may

(enjoying the view before our ocean voyage)

(i got a community pillar award from State Assemblyman Jose Solorio-pretty sweet!)

so you might have noticed there is a big gap in posting...i have been really trying to keep up with it but things got in the way and well, nothing for a month-what happened:
  • got my bi-annual body is, "quitting this bi#ch" and i was hit with a flu/cold something that as LL Cool J (thanks for the correction!) so eloquently said once,  "Mama said knock you out!"- i was basically on the floor for 5 days with no voice and missed 2 really great events that i still am mad about.
  • getting Ice Cubed when you have a small biz means that the 16 hour days you were pulling are now glorious 20 hour days because you didnt do anything for 5 of them.
  • the preserves are taking off, the name has now been changed to Backyard in a Jar and since we have been feverishly been setting up an ETSY store, labels and wholesale pricing because recently...

  • been doing the sales here and there but i did the large LA event called Unique with niecey Nicole.  not only did my store do the eco-lounge furniture for the event, but we were hopin' with mad sales and a lot of interest from the line...not like there wasnt enough to do!
(eco-lounge: furniture by Loll, moving it by me!)

(what do you think about the sign?-a 2am idea)

(family affair: nicole and i shared a booth with my mom on crowd control)

  • changes at the shop have turned into an evolution of sorts. at the beginning, The Road Less Traveled has been a stop for eco-goods with only a few events and times for learning. as the "green/eco" movement has grown, there are now more & more customers who want to learn for themselves beyond buying something at the register. we now have a fully funk-tioning (yes that typo is right) learning space for the community in Orange County and Southern CA to become self-sufficient and learn from those around us. we have a full calendar with a number of classes all across the board!
  • speaking of classes-besides the H-wood market, i now teach preservation at a number of locations in OC, LA and hopefully soon SD (b/c i there isnt enough to do!) 
(doing one of several lectures during April/May-this one @ CSUF's Social Justice Summit)

  • patchwork: the little wine-infused brainchild of Nicole and i has really grown into serious events! totally "to legit to quit" with street closures and Health Departments and "this is a full-time job" feelings and "hey what happened to the wine?" parts. even with the strain, i really look forward to the work and am so blessed for the new friends and opportunity to work with Nicole who is one of the few people i know who can really "bust a move" in creativity and work ethic...can't happen without her-she really is amazing! NOTE: PATCHWORK SANTA ANA IS THIS SUNDAY JUNE 6TH!

  • lastly: i turned 34 on May 5th-little shocked about this (and that i got a few greys- which i ripped off my head thank you!), i still think i am friend Sarah was nice enough to give me a day off so that i could go to Disneyland for my day, which i havent been for more than 15 years (People Mover anyone-yeah, not there!)-PS go on your birthday!
(first things first: go to city hall to get your b-day badge-then everyone says "Happy Birthday" every where you go)

(then you go to the Blue Bayou so you can have lunch)

(the best thing about Disneyland-Dole Pineapple Whips)

(there used to be a great little candy store under here, now cheesy toys with brands)

(Space Mountain: a lot faster than what i remember it to be-lots of drool!)

(the Matterhorn opened up toward the end of the day-love that ride!)

(these girls ROCKED-totally showed us what's up on this ride)

(the mural in back of us was probably one of the best things abut CA Adventure, that and the beer)

so those are my excuses and i am sticking to them!