May 28, 2010

ping pong anyone?

a certain 11 year-old, soon to be 12, had only one item on his birthday list this year. a ping pong table. i never even knew that ping pong tables came in a version called indoor/outdoor (despite playing on one for years during my childhood at the local swim and tennis club, weren't they usually made of plywood back then?) but they do, with high quality metal or composite surfaces, and they are awesome. this one is made by kettler and has wheels and folds up and makes its own backboard for single play, etc. we ordered it from a sports shop in the next town over.

so anyway, this was just delivered an hour ago. and our birthday boy doesn't know about it yet. he's having a party here at the house tomorrow, with, as he says, "his tightest buds." organic hamburgers, corn on the cob, and cold stone creamery ice cream cake are on the menu. we can drive to the beach down the road if the boys run out of things to do here. but i don't think they will. water balloon basketball, wiffle ball home run derby, and now ping pong. he's going to be so happy.

have yourself a great weekend, wherever you are. it's the official opening of the summer season in the northern hemisphere. enjoy! xo, g

May 25, 2010

the joy and versatility of miso sauce

to have miso sauce on hand is a wonderful thing. so versatile. you can make a salad dressing, a steak sauce, a dipping sauce, a marinade, so many things. it keeps for about two weeks in a glass container. i made a steak salad, pictured above, and also umpteen salad dressings, i tossed freshly cooked still-crisp broccoli with it for an exciting side dish, made a dip for crudite, and a dipping sauce for roast chicken.

miso sauce
1 cup miso (miso basically comes in red or white and all gradients in between, you want a lighter color but a mix is good too)
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP lemon juice

place the sake and mirin in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. next add in the miso, agave nectar, and soy sauce. cook on a simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to combine the flavors, stir to prevent burning. add in the lemon juice and turn off the heat. continue to stir and let rest on stove until the flavors have melded. allow to cool completely.

thin it with some rice vinegar, yuzu vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar for a salad dressing. thin it with some tsuyu sauce or dashi for a steak sauce. use as a soup base for miso soup by adding lots of dashi. stir in some sesame paste for a healthful vegetable dip, mix it in a blender with some silken tofu for another great dressing. marinate some meat or fish (careful to wipe most of the miso off the meat before cooking as it can burn if cooked at high heat). many wonderful possibilities. a great ingredient to play with.

store in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and enjoy your new found miso creativity.

May 21, 2010

delicious breakfast

life is good when morning sustenance looks like this. fresh cherries. so sweet, so cold. so delicious. and with blenheim apricots! mmmm. i wish the rest of my day was going to be as wonderful as this. but i've got some complex tasks to accomplish, a lot of details to nail down, and just for good measure, a whole lot of impossible friday traffic to contend with. wish me luck and have yourself a great weekend. xo g

May 19, 2010

pizza at home

great article in the new york times today on making pizza at home. with your own starter. funny, encouraging, real. check it out here. i do use a pizza stone but i haven't used my own starter, yet. i do want to try it. soon.

here's a recipe for pizza i posted a while back. so versatile. so fun. especially since you can also make it on a grill. summer cooking is the best.

May 17, 2010

they are here!

so excited to have these maira kalman works up. both look fantastic. i must tell you, i am so in love with these pieces. they really make me happy, so much that i can't help but smile every single time i see them.

the power and beauty of art, it is so much more than decoration. i think it was Pablo Picasso that said, "art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life." which could explain why they make me so happy: hours of mundane toil and minor frustrations simply washed away as i gaze on these. stunningly rejuvenating, like a visual vacation.

well, i have a lot to do this week and i'd better get to it. more soon. big smiles, g

May 14, 2010


tiny california apricots are in. this is great news. so fragrant and juicy, tart, sweet, luscious apricots.

this variety, the royal blenheims, or royals or blenheims, depending on who you ask, are a lineage from britain and france brought over to the states in the 1800s. they are tiny and often have green shoulders, but are also some of the best eating apricots you can find. they arrive in late spring/early summer and have a firm, juicy flesh. not at all mealy or cottony, like some of the larger varieties.

my kitchen is filled with their sweet perfume right now. you might want to run right out to the grocery store this minute and buy some, they are that good. and their season is pretty much over by mid june, so don't be too long about it.

have a great weekend. xo, g

May 11, 2010


some of the pillows i've been designing and making, a combination of machine and hand-stitched. different sizes and shapes than you might find in the shops. some with ribbon applique for stripes, some made from my favorite french espadrille fabrics at les toiles du soleil, some in soft but plain fabrics with contrast stitching. next up navy stripes. i don't really sew, but i try not to let that get in my way. great sewing sites like angry chicken (amy karol's video tutorials are hilariously brilliant, that talking popsicle stick gets me every time)and how-to books from marvelous folks like lotta jansdotter, give me the inspiration and encouragement to go ahead and give it a try even though it is new to me.

May 9, 2010

lovely sunday

happy day to all you brilliant mums, children of mums, future mums, etc. etc. xo, g

May 6, 2010

salad with mixed greens grapefruit, avocado and pistachios

warmer weather has me thinking of cool, light, refreshing salads.

grapefruit has just been fantastic this season, so sweet and luscious. especially the late season grapefruit, still excellent in the stores right now. this salad comes together with an irresistible, sweet, tart and savory tang and a delicate but significant crunch.

i love this salad. grapefruit avocado salad is a california classic and makes the most of great local ingredients in season. in the 1940s and 50s my father-in-law ate a grapefruit avocado salad as part of the christmas day menu at his childhood home in brentwood, california. his mother, ona weed, my husband's grandmother, was great friends with edith head! a famously fantastic hollywood costume designer. i never met ona, as she died before i joined the family, but i've always been fascinated by her, for more than just her salads.

in present-day california, you will find, at the slanted door, (a brilliantly popular vietnamese restaurant now located in the ferry terminal), a terrific grapefruit and jicama salad with candied pecans that is quite memorable. you can munch on it's crunchy goodness while looking out at the windy, vibrant, sparkling san francisco bay, and thinking about the wonderful mix of textures and flavors, salty, sweet, spicy. mmm. somewhere between these two venerable salads lies the inspiration for this one. i like it so much i could eat it every day during grapefruit season.

salad of mixed greens grapefruit, avocado and pistachios
serves 6
16oz mixed greens
1/2 cup finely shredded purple cabbage
1, avocado, halved, peeled and sliced
2 large or 3 small grapefruits, a mix of varieties, white, pink and red is best, peeled and sectioned to remove membrane and pith
(you may have a few extra grapefruit sections, so snacking on the irresistibly juicy grapefruit
while making the salad is strongly encouraged, a nice little reward for the chef)
1/4 cup chopped toasted unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed

combine salad greens and vegetables in a large bowl or on a platter. arrange cabbage, avocado, grapefruit sections. sprinkle with cilantro leaves and chopped pistachios.

for the dressing
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (i squeeze what i need from the remainder of the grapefruit after sectioning)
1 T minced cilantro stems
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced shallot
1/4 cup ponzu or champagne vinegar (something very light and slightly fruity)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp agave nectar or light brown sugar
mix thoroughly, allow flavors to blend for 10 minutes before serving, the flavors really blossom quickly but it does take several minutes.

lightly pour the dressing all over the salad, toss, and serve.

my family stopped speaking when i served this to them. 5 minutes of very mindful munching later, they peppered me with compliments. then they ate their broiled fish with nuoc chum and steamed jasmine rice very happily reminiscing about the salad.

May 5, 2010

organic strawberries in season!

help yourself. crunchy, juicy, delicious strawberries. peak of season just now. so exciting when the first of the summer fruits arrive. soon the bins at the super and farmer's markets will be overflowing. our farmer's market opens next week. happy portent of summer.

May 3, 2010

unselfconscious scribbling

so gorgeous this weekend, i actually found the excuse, er time, to sit outside and sketch a bit. been sketching more and more lately. which is kind of like blogging somehow, except that your work hides inside your sketchbook instead of being broadcast into the vast internet universe (until now). a way to record a few moments in time, and work out some ideas on paper. lighthearted. simple. the joy of unselfconscious scribbling. visual art that is not at all serious.

today it is so hot and humid here, i feel a bit like a pork dumpling steaming in a pot. in response, i've composed some refreshing, cooling salads to share. more on this soon. xo, g