Monday, January 31, 2011

food preservation workshops (and one more!): FEBRUARY 2011

A few things are happening in OC and LA in the next few months-below is a list.  I am also going to list a few of things that are happening @ the shop that might be interesting as well.

2/5 (11-1): vinegar, yogurt and kombucha, Orange County (with Ernie) @ RLT
2/6 (11-2): Canning Class, Orange County @ RLT
2/12 (11-3): Citrus Class @ Kazi's urban farm in Altadena with Evan Kleiman-SOLD OUT!
2/20 (11-2): Fermentation series @ UCC (perfect if you live in Santa Monica)
2/26 (11-2): Cheese 101, Orange County @ RLT
2/27 (11-2): Pizza, Start to Finish (crust, sauce, cheese), Orange County @ RLT

**We also have a great workshop this THURSDAY at the shop on blogging. If you want to start a blog or like most of us: have one but don't know what the funk to do with it-this will get you ready to work your magic. Fern Richardson of Life on The Balcony (if you are into gardening, check it out!) will hand out advice, up n' downs and how proper planning, content and mojo can make something incredible (like for Fern a book deal)! Contact me directly or call the shop (714.836.8727) and leave a message with your info and we will make room for y'alls.

Friday, January 28, 2011

a new work philosophy

NOTE: if you have read part of this before I am sorry, I didn't meant to hit publish, but I guess I did and walked away (I thought i just saved to finish later)!

My friend Chef Anahita Naderi recently posted this story on Facebook:
A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village...
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long." they answered in unison.

"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children,
and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life."

The tourist interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard (a consultant?) and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?"

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.

You can then leave this little village and move to
Mexico City, Los Angeles , or even New York City !

From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?"

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen.
"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings enjoying your friends."

"With all due respect sir, but that's exactly what we are doing now. So what's the point wasting twenty-five years?" asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:
Know where you're going in may already be there.
So what does this mean about little ole me??

As many who are close to me know, I work like a dog-never stopping. Maybe it's in the genes, maybe it was because I am an only child, maybe I am simply a task person. Point is: I love to work and have projects/goals/things to work on all the time...I am not going to fight it, in fact I embrace it-A LOT.
Things are always happening, but in the few years, the projects have taken up so much that I find myself working 14-20 hour days/7 days/months at a time-very little time for "siestas" and such.
I have 3 main things that i love to do right now: run my shop, do Patchwork with Nicole and work on my preserving adventures/classes/product and by shear luck-all of them work really well together (in fact make each other stronger)!!
...but something has to give or I am going to start missing out on some of the things I also like to do (like have people over, garden, spend time with Marge, this blog, ceramics, travel...).
In trying to pay attention to those needs and one of my resolutions but also having everything I love I decided last month to do something about it: I pulled a Honey I Shrunk the Store and moved back into the original space where I started my business.
Over the past weeks, we have been getting a boat-load of calls and emails, mostly along the lines of, "WHAT happened ?!?!" or, "Did you close???!!!"...well no we didn't, still here and still doing everything the same (albeit no clothing or baby items-leave that to the fabulous Belly Sprout). If you had to boil it down to a few things...
1. I am doing WAY too many things: I teach classes and lecture (at my shop and beyond almost every week), I co-run an arts/crafts fair that is doing more every year (that I sell at), volunteer my time, have a life in addition to...
2. my love of food found an outlet: I found something that incorporates a little of what I have always wanted to be (educator/foodie/cooking/small-indie biz/out-doors/MAKING STUFF/people/celebrating local) in my new biz Backyard In A Jar-my preserving biz that I really want to make a go of this year. I have to try.
3. 5 year itch and stretch: I have had my shop for 5 years (yeah I know!!) after this time, I better KNOW what works and what doesn't. What works is knowing EXACTLY what sells and what doesn't. Guess what? I need less space to sell it and I can use every square inch to yield more use than a larger space...seems obvious to me (and less energy, cleaning, upkeep...)

(a more open counter with classes and store info right in front!)

4. focus woman! If I want to stick to my resolutions and do all the things I want to do, there needs to be simplicity...when I look at myself, my home, food, belongings, BLOG, the environment I have to think:: SMALL and EFFICIENT...if there is too much waste then eliminate it-right??
When this- #4 (and 1-3) finally dawned upon me in November, I had that feeling of the whole slap your head deal-except I wanted to do it for real, like really f-ing hard. Why wait and really make a resolution to be better no matter what a reality!  Personally, I have never felt better!

(back to basics: it just FEELS cozier!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm Back in Ceramics Again! (my Aerosmith version)

This past week was the first ceramics class of 2011 and with a new edition: mamcita!
One of my Christmas gifts to my mother was a beginners set of ceramics tools and a class with me and the Avanti Cafe crew.
When I was thinking about posting on our class the first thing I thought of was Aerosmith's I'm Back in the Saddle, awesome song, but i changed the words with ceramics and was giggling. Was totally meant to be because while mama and I we cruising in the Jam Van to Avanti, guess what came on!!!

I have to say that the VW bus is the absolute BEST vehicle of choice when going to a ceramics class in Huntington Beach. We have exactly one speaker behind a seat that plays classic rock, solar Christmas lights for looking cool when we drive down PCH and plenty of room for chatting and hanging out/eating/putting up our tired a$$es.
(Mark made one too many plates and got in trouble, it was quite funny!)

My jam n' cheese plates did really well a last year's Patchwork Shows and I have spent the past month looking at new ideas of expanding my "not your regular Pottery Barn BS" line. Yes I know that I am no Heath Ceramics, but people are digging my items so I decided to expand to make a few new things in this season of classes...

salt pigs: love the salt, make salt mixes so why not make containers

(yeah i wish i could do this!)

butter crocks: French-style, this might not happen for a little unless I can channel a pros ability on the wheel (any local ceramic artists reading this-i will buy/trade from you instead!)
(again, a girl can dream!)

garlic mashers: little plates with big rings for smashing garlic-I think i can do it!
(love this idea from Natalie Bonney-UK)

soup bowls: my first day back I threw 4 big bowls-would be perfect for soup and stews
spoon rests: or aka "soup bowl that collapsed on the wheel"-recycling!

Mamacita (as the group calls her-I just call her mom), is excited too. She got the "ceramics 101 talk" last week and is now feverishly working on her ideas.
 We will see what I can actually do, if you have some other ideas of what you would like to see-let me know!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CSA cooking: artichoke-leek dip

basket inventory: kale, lettuce varieties, spring onions, leeks, mandarins, oranges, limes, baby beets, sprouts, arugula, rosemary, lemon, macadamia nuts (hells-to-the-yes!)

(of course in La Chamba pottery-available you know where!)

Spinach-artichoke dip: been there, done that...I think we all have at one point or another over the past 15 years. In wanting to do something different with leeks this week, I decided to make a play on this uber-yummy dip that is perfect for parties, brunch or in our case us and the neighbors watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Nene is getting a little cray-cray isn't she??)

  • 3 large leeks, white and light green parts sliced (i added spring onions too b/c they were in the basket this week)
  • a few pats of butter or olive oil
  • 1-2 packages of light cream cheese (do 2 packages if making it for a larger group), softened
  • 1 small package of goat cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c milk (I used almond milk)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon (opt)
  • 1 can of art hearts in water (not oil!)
  • parmesan cheese (to top the dip)
  • a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (opt)
  • salt and pepper
In a food processor,  combine the soft cheeses adding milk to help with the mixing and lemon juice (opt), add a few spoonfuls of the soft leaks, hot sauce, salt and pepper and pulse.
Drain the hearts and chop. Add to the pan with the leaks, mix and then add the soft cheese mix and combine well (don't you just hate a bite of all one flavor?). Adjust hot sauce, salt and pepper flavors and add to an oven-proof dish (I did a little spray of oil, just in case) and top with parm. Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top is browned a little.

Monday, January 24, 2011

farmers' market contest: Jan 2011

So missed going to Hollywood-the crazy holiday season and patchwork kept me away for more than 2 months!! Yesterday however, I was able to sit at the table and do a few hours (and see Kevin-missed you!) and the 88 degree weather was as ridiculous as a Southern CA Winter could get...but enough about the weather and on with the blind!  The first person to post the correct answer on this blog will get a jar of GHOST JELLY (yes a jelly made from the hottest pepper on the planet!)

Jan 2011
This actor is primarily known for his TV work. In particular he is known for this popular late 90's-early 2000's show which also starred an actress that is known more for her marriage (?) than work.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

a quick adventure in San Diego

You would think January would be a little bit more relaxing because it is after the holiday season. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work that way over here.
January and February is filled with a great deal of work prepping for the next crazy-busy season for me with is April-May when sales are usually back from the slum of after holiday, people are out more and most of all PATCHWORK SEASON!
Nicole and I have a few meetings over the holiday break and talked about 2011 Patch ideas and growth for our little Indie Arts and Crafts Festival that seems to be growing and gaining a good following.
So what did we discuss??  Two new possible locations for the coming year and this past weekend we headed over to sunny San Diego for a crazy tour of of the area to brainstorm ideas. Below are some goodies I found on my mini-work-break.

(a nice Gastropub with slow service)
Friday night we tried out recently reviewed gastropub Jayne's in Hillcrest. British-themed and UBER cute inside. I had a nice cocktail, a concoction of lemon juice and bitters and really tasty fish n' ships.  Only problem: the service was super slow, with only a few tables full, it shouldn't have taken over 10 minutes for out drinks.
The next day we started out early. During our drive, we stopped at the Little Italy FM (Mercato)-a busy market and for sure worth the visit if you are in the area on Saturdays. While we were there I bought little Marge a new hemp leash and collar from local artist Julia of Handmade Green-I also got a hat and coffee (first picture).

(Handmade Green also did Patchwork last Fall in Long Beach)

(i bought something like this from her at the LB show)
We also went to Ocean Beach were we stopped by the Ocean Beach Organic Food Co-op. There we bought a pint of local honey, cocktail citrus (??) matcha power (for a new salt possibly!)  and these really cool responsibly-sourced FSC gloves (BTW I am going to be doing a post of new things I have found at the grocery soon). It would be great to have a co-op in Orange County, funny b/c that is what I initially wanted my store to be way back when!

(goodies from the co-op)
STRANGE part of the trip: at one point we ended up in South Park and walked into this cute craft shop called The Grove. First thing when you walk in are a bunch of cook books-YES, so we start looking at them. I notice on the shelf our friend Jaime Wood's Wicca Cookbook, which was recently revised for its 20 year anni. It was just then that i remembered that I had given Jaime my Wild Sage Jelly recipe for that book. Opened the book and BOOM-there i am!

(hells-to-the-yeah! my recipe, thank you Jaime-now go buy it and read page 55!)

So after a yummy champs and elderberry flower cocktail (YUM and must make), we rested up for a quick trip back home and then to Hollywood FM-never a dull moment.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

quick pickled peppers

We have a few pepper plants sitting in front of the Apartment Homestead-habaneros, jalapenos, serranos and cherry (my favorite) and while I was watering yesterday I noticed that they were all bustin' out-when did that happen?
My usual next step would be to harvest them for Fire or Green Heat Jelly, but I already had several pounds in the fridge that I was going to can in the next few days. The fact that I had about a quart of peppers seemed obvious-pickle them!

(check out my little habby plant!)

(a small collection from the porch)

I love me some pickled peppers-I dig the tart and the vinegar cuts some of the heat, especially from the uber-hot ones. Basic fridge pickled peppers last a long time too. The past batch I made was 4 months old when we finally finished it. I love these in salad, sandwiches and on an appetizer platter with a bunch of other goodies-and don't throw out the pickle juice-its great in dressings (or in a cocktail).


2 c mixed peppers (i have mixed but you can use whatever you can tolerate)
1 c water
1 c cider vinegar
large squirt (1-2T) agave
2T salt
2 bay leaves
2 T coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled (actually like to use more than this, as many as you can fit in the jar, then you get hot garlic too!)
2 T black peppercorns

Wash the peppers, take a sharp knife and stab them a few times so the brine can permeate the whole pepper.  You can keep them whole or slice them like the ones you see in the store. I say do whole, strips and slices, that way you have more of a selection to choose from! Pack into a quart jar.

(i added some mustard too!)

In a non-reactive pot, combine all the other ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Pour over the peppers and allow to cool on the table.  Once cool, move in the fridge.  You can start eating them tomorrow, but honestly they taste WAY better in a week or month!

(I like to use these old-school juice containers that we picked up on 127)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

affordable art: canning!

i'm surprised it took me this long to post something like this...

(Old School Stationers deserve their own blog post-check out their VW bus print!)

(YES YES YES- we are getting this soon people!!!-Bespoke Uprising Textiles)

Canning is in full-swing and what better way to celebrate the love of things in jars with art!
ETSY has a number of great things promoting jar-love and you don't need to do more than step into your kitchen. Jars are everywhere, and you don't need to be a preserver to appreciate the simplicity of the basic glass/ceramic piece.
Go-go vintage: I don't want to sound Three Amigos, but there is a plethora of jar beauty available at your  local thrift store/fair. Yes, i do the 127 craziness, but estate sales, ESTY, and neighborhood shops have a number of things that is art suspended in time. i love the old-school blue mason jars, we picked up a  number of them on 127 and not only do we sell them at the shop, i also have them in the kitchen and living room as decor (occasionally putting flowers in them but they really look great alone).

(the easiest way to go is Ebay is you live in So Cal)

(tea towels, prints and bags with a canning diagram from Girls Can Tell-COMIN' SOON!!)

(H is for Handmade has this great post on different things you can do-but I LOVE this idea)
(the Ball stamp from Sugar Skullz is sweet-Santa, are you listening??)
(Nicole made me a solar lamp for Christmas, these kind of remind me of them)

(love this modern canning print from Ollibird)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

more Industrial Folk-Sale

(i would love this for the office)

One of my favorite things are the old metal objects turned new. We actually have a welding class at the shop a few times a year and it is quite popular-I have been meaning to take it because there are a number of things that I have been inspired by. Put The Steel Fork on that list.
Pennsylvania couple Ben and Kate have taken their love of food, agriculture and recycling creating a line of home-grown design goods that are simple and fun-totally Industrial Folk-Sale.  I am going to see if they do wholesale so i can get some of the signs and spoon/fork hangers in the shop, but if you can't wait-check them out here.

(i love this chalkboard-how cute would this be in the kitchen?)

(they have a number of animals, but i love the red antlers on the moose)

(love this for aprons and towels)

(not cheap but soooo special!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

adventures with Evan Kleiman, Kazi and a citrus class!

The typical Friday is not really the end of the week but the prepping for what i like to call the "short week" (aka the weekend). I usually try to finish the weeks work and prep for classes and events that happen in the next 2 days with an evening cocktail at the computer to make me feel like i am having a night on the town!
(BEWARE: awesome Friday ahead...)
This past Friday was a little different though. I met Evan Kleiman (aka: mera-mera) at Union Station for a little trip to her dear friend Kazi's home in Altadena to check out her AMAZING urban farm and work on an upcoming class.
(starting the day)
We happened to arrive a little early so Gustavo and i decided to take a little trip to Olvera Street to grab a snack and check out some cute potential presents. I've heard that this landmark area might be demolished -WHAT A SHAME, can anyone tell me more about this???
(this place served the first taquito in LA-yummers!)

(bright guitars and a ceramic rooster that i want to buy for the front porch)

After a short walk through the gorgeous Union Station that seemed untouched by time (albeit without the constant cell phone usage all around), Evan pulled up to pick me up with her co-pilot Paco, sitting on her lap ready for an adventure. Paco is her 7yr-old little white fluff-ball of cuteness (i forgot the breed-a stray that is mixed with cuteness is all you need to know), that immediately came to my lap as we took off to Altadena.
Evan has told me about Kazi and her incredible home and as we pulled up to the door, i felt the excitement that reminded me of the times i walked up to the home of Beekeeper Kelly's home: i KNEW i was in a special place. Then off i went for a wonderful backyard tour....
(Evan checkin' out the dehydrator that killz it!)

Kazi's home is filled with more wonder that baffles the mind-not only is she a classical musician, but a chica of astounding knowledge and passion of food that is like opening an encyclopedia called, "everything i wanted to know about an creative urban farm but never had the balls to think about what i could do". i probably seemed like a ghost, because the entire time i was in total amazement and could hardly speak (except from the occasional "holy shazzbah" spinkled with, "what is this!" every 10 minutes).
Kazi took me on a tour of her MANY fruit trees (we are talking at LEAST 15 different citrus, not to mention the rest), 30+ birds (that Paco loved to chase), herbs and a dehydrator that would Shaq-style-smack-down whatever you might have at home-Kazi even roasts her own coffee-HELLO!
(finger lime: my new fave citrus-MUST HAVE)

(Paco workin' it with the birds-they didn't like him too much!)

(yeah, this is PART of the yard in winter...for realz!!)

Kazi also made us an incredible lunch (fresh eggs and bread-every thing from scratch yo) and topped it off with farm-fresh soda and preserves from her trip to Oregon-what a woman. While i was in the restroom i also spotted a signed autograph from Frank Sinatra as well as sheet music from past performances-again, what a woman!
(yummers x3: our lunch)

during all of this bliss we managed to hash out our upcoming class on citrus ON FEBRUARY 12TH 11-3:30 at her home.  totally worth the drive if you are in Southern CA. Kazi will be teaching marmalade, Evan will be making a yummy lunch and i will be teaching citrus spice/herb applications (and booze). if you are interested, here's the info:

Citrus Celebration and Class at Altadena Urban Farm
Join Evan Kleiman and her friends, urban farmer, Kazi Pitelka and master preserver Delilah Snell at Kazi’s urban farm in Altadena.  We’ll walk through the orchard and try 10+ varieties of in season fruit as Kazi shares her breadth of knowledge of Citrus.  Then we move to the kitchen to make learn a basic Marmalade Recipe, a Citrus Liquer and dry Spice Mixtures.  Includes lunch.
Saturday, February 12 from 11-3:30.
Location:  disclosed upon registration
Cost:  $130

To RSVP, please contact Delilah Snell

what a great friday.....
(had margs @ gabbis in Orange after in the Jam Van, then back to work!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

geranium syrup=some good mojitos tonight??

My friends Linnea and Dave told me that they had some geranium plant for me to use-i have been wanting to use geranium for a while to make a few things. my two plants, while they are getting bigger are certainly not enough to make jelly, liquor, scented sugar and syrup without stripping them bare.

YOWZA-i ended up getting an entire trash bag full of the stuff that left this wonderful scent in the store and first things first...
i made 2 bouquets in old mason jars, one for the house and one for the shop. not only do i get to have the fragrance of the plant for a little bit longer, but keeping geranium in some water prolongs the plant so i can use as much of it as possible.

(just another Thursday night: cleaning and sorting geranium plants!)

For the longest time i have been wanting to turn this plant into a cocktail-type ingredient, i haven't really seen it on any menu (tell me if i am wrong) and anyone who has a geranium knows that once it is established, it grows like crazy (hence the trash bag present). The first two things that came to mind were sugar and sugar.

  • handful of large geranium leaves
  • 1 large mason jar (quart)
  •  2 cups of sugar (or whatever you need to fill the jar)
Quickly sterilize the jar by pouring some hot boiling water with a shot of vinegar in the jar (or a run through the dishwasher) and dry it.  Line the bottom of the jar with a few leaves and cover with 1" of sugar, tamp the sugar down with a spoon to start releasing the oils from the plant. keep alternating geranium with sugar until you reach the top. Attach the lid, and leave in a sunny place on the counter for a few weeks. Check and shake the sugar every day or so until you can smell/taste the geranium on the sugar. Filter the leaves out after a few weeks and store in the pantry.

  • 2 c water
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 c washed geranium leaves
Dissolve the sugar in a large pot under medium heat while washing the leaves.

Add the leaves to the sugar mix and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the leaves and bring the mix to a boil again for 10-15 minutes.  Allow to cool and pour into cute jars.

(bottles from Ikea, $1 store down the street and the nice lemonade @ Trader Joes)
I have to let the syrups cool before i can use them, but i am planning on making geranium mojitos tonight when our friend mike comes over so i will be posting about that and a few other things i make!