Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

After a pumpkin carving fest, an ensemble of Jack O' Lanterns were propped and lit.followed by a trip to The Hallowed Haunting Grounds, which all led up to tonight. Halloween at home waiting for the children to ascend the steps to be greeted by this.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dia de Muertos

Last night I went to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery's Day of the Dead event with my husband, aka Lucifer. We wondered through the cemetery in darkness, traipsing over grave markers and along plush lawn to get to the event.

It was actually quite beautiful. Out in the grave yard were small orbs of light set upon the gravestones and in the ponds were alter-candle laden floats drifting about.

Once inside we found a food court, craft booths, live music and roads lined with alters. Some very traditional, some very Hollywood.

Most attendees embraced the spirit of the evening and dressed for the occasion in their worthiest of costumes.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Weather

Another Saturday. I organized my desk and copied some documents to begin a potential project requiring a city application. It's 7 pages of ill-written instructions, guidelines and information, that provide none of those things. Calling the City RSD is even less helpful. But I can plod through it and hopefully gather all the documents I need to get it processed.

In the meantime my husband and I had breakfast and Pumpkin Spiced coffee and periodically walked outside to check on the weather and the animals. LBC had him some grub on the porch, then with Jiggy in tow he walked to side of the house and rolled in the dirt and lay in the sun.

I filled the water dish in the garden. Our cats as well as LBC and Pico drink from it. Probably the skunks and raccoons too, but I like to have a regular water source for the animals.

Not much else going on today, which is fine by me. We have plans to go to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for their Dia De Muertos event and we'll carve pumpkins this weekend. I'll have to find something skeleton-y for us to wear tonight.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Soggy Sunday Mornin'

While the breakfast potatoes were cooking I grabbed the camera and walked out the back door to see what was happening on this soggy Sunday mornin'. I had noticed that the clump of bulbs were sprouting. These will be glorious pink trumpet lilies.

I noticed my beloved Bink sitting atop the south gate and snapped some rather blurry shots of him as he made himself comfortable.
Back inside the kitchen to give the potatoes a shake in the pan I heard Bink's tell-tail "Raaa" which he usually delivers when another of our cats invade his space.

I looked out the back door and found this: Pepper had hopped up onto the gate along side Bink and both were hangin'. Bink's ears are a little on the low side indicating a "get away from or else I'll scratch your eyes out" disposition,
but they both held their place on the same gate long enough for me to show my husband the image I captured and for him to set up the Rebel and get an in-focus shot of the two (

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cocido, a Rustic Mexican Soup

This morning was spent around the house loving the weekend and loving my husband, then I was off to my afternoon salon appointment. Made a quick stop at Walgreen's to pick up a couple of grave stones and some skeleton hands on my way back home.

While my husband went off to run some errands...

I got into the kitchen to start tonight's dinner. This recipe is from the Wednesday Food section of the L. A. Times (10/19/05 page F3). It turned out to be wonderfully simple and full of earthy goodies. Cocido - derived from the Spanish word cocer, meaning to cook or to simmer over low heat - is a rustic, very colorful and hearty beef soup.

1.5 lbs beef shank, cut
1/4 onion cut in wedges
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
10 pepper corns (I used pepper milled)
2 red potatoes, quartered
1 ear of corn, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 large carrot,
cut into chunks
16 green beans (I used about a cup)
Oregano, marjoram and thyme to taste
1 zucchini, cut into 1" pieces
Chopped fresh cilantro

Place the beef in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil
for 1 minute. Drain, discarding the water and rinse the pot. Return the meat to the pot and add water to cover. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Add the potatoes, corn, carrot, green beans, and herbs. Cover and boil gently about 20 minutes. Add zucchini and cook until just tender. Toss in chopped fresh cilantro and garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

While the cocido simmered I made a trip down to the basement to find the pumpkin lights and string them along the railing up the front steps. Now where can the big furry black spider be?

Walking back inside the aroma that filled the house coming from my kitchen was divine.

I also made a variation of Mexican rice to go with it (and spooned it into the broth when I had finished the meet and vegis).

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice
3/4 cup crushed tomato
garlic pepper
crushed red pepper to taste

Bring the chicken broth to a boil and add rice and cumin. Cook until liquid is absorbed then stir in crushed tomato, garlic pepper and red pepper and cook until heated through.

When I spooned the soup out of the pot the beef fell off the bone, it was sooooo tender. The vegis where earthy and the broth was savory. Cocido, mexican rice and a glass of Gallo red.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Demolition and Stray Cats

I finally got a couple of shots of The Ambassador Hotel from my 12th floor office Suite's window today, in between downpours. The demolition is well under way and I'm already lamenting its loss.

As recently as last week there were still two chimneys standing where the bungalows used to be in the lower left corner of the shot.
I just hate it when historical buildings can't be saved. I've noticed that they are disassembling the building with great care though. Neat piles of roof tiles and brick and lumber.

I used to look down on the property and watch the feral cats, who at some point decided to make the Embassador thier home, wander around the grounds. There were always several paper plates with dry cat food just inside the chain link fence that borderes the sidewalk on Wilshire Boulevard. Some locals slipping them inside on a regular basis. I remember hearing something about the cats being rounded up before the demolition began and put up for adoption. I'm not sure what kind of pets they would become, being wild and all. I hope they found loving homes. I hope that they were adopted by those who recognized the patience and effort it would require to take them in.

Two of our own cats, Pumpkin and Jiggy were strays. Pumpkin started wandering into my yard about a little over two years ago. He was all big scraggly head on a scrawney body and a limp. At first I tried to discourage him from hanging around. Then I started feeding him. Pretty soon he was waiting for me in the back yard when I got home. He still wouldn't let me near him but he would follow me around in the garden on the weekends and eventually he came closer and closer while I fed him until he let me pet him.

He would finish everything in the bowl of food I'd give him. Like it was his last meal. Then I named him, Pumpkin, because he's orange. Then I'd leave the back door open and try to coax him inside. He didn't even know how to purr, or play. Now he purrs like mad and Jiggy taught him how to play. The first time he played with one of the cat toys on his own was a huge achievement. I watched him and marvelled and told him what a sweety pie he was.

Now he's a part of our family. And I tend to favor him when it comes to dolling out thier breakfast and dinner portions.

Well, we have a new cat that's been coming into the yard. I first saw him just a few weeks ago. He's a cutie. A black cat with white feet and white bands across his legs, a white patch on his chest that runs up his chin to just under his nose. It gives him a kind of crooked, scrunched up look like a Picaso painting. we first refered to him as LBWC (Little Black and White Cat) but have lately been calling him Picasso or Pico or Pica (if he's a she) or Peekaboo. He's missing the tip of his right ear but seems pretty well fed, especially now that he found our yard.

When I first saw him I thought he was just a new cat in the neighborhood and asked, as I always do, be it coyote or dog or cat, "Can we keep 'im?" the usual response from my husband is a subtle rolling of the eyes and a gentle "No, baby, we can't keep him". But I'm thinking that Pico will soon be as snug as a bug in a rug, like Pumpkin here, if I can help it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pumpkin Soup

My husband was at the Bicycle Kitchen working on The Phoenix. The day was very Octobery cool and breezy and I love eating for the season. The kitchen is bright and the door is always open onto the back yard and patio where the cats like to hang out and lounge. Shadow will usually curl up on the floor and while I chop and stir and simmer she is at my feet or nearby.

I tear pages out of magazines. Landscape ideas, kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas and plenty of recipe ideas. Last weekend I tore out page 66 for "Colin Cowie's Spectactular Spiced Pumkin Soup" recipe. I made some minor alterations to the recipe as I innevitably do, especially since the magazine recipes are always for parties of 8, never for a party of 2, so I adjust for that. And if it calls for spicy spices I will usually put a pinch more than the recipe calls for 'cause I like it that way. And in this recipe I didn't have any cayenne so I subbed it with PicoPica, my favorite hot sauce.

2 6"-ish pumkins
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 med yellow onion

1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch ground cayenne pepper (or dash PicoPica Sauce)
1 30-ounce can 100% pumpkin

2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk

Olive oil

The whole pumkins get topped and scooped of thier seeds and stringy stuff, brushed with olive oil and warmed in the oven (along with the garlic baggettes) and they become the soup bowls. Really easy and they make a very surprising presentation.

In a 4 quart sauce pan melt the butter and add the minced garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add dry spices and stir about 1 minute. Add canned pumpkin and broth, blending well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add milk and stir until heated through.

While the soup simmered I put the pumkins, thier tops and the garlic baggette in the oven and mixed the salad, set the table and poured the wine.

We had the soup straight up, with a side of spring mix salad and garlic roasted
baggette. But the article suggests ladling it over seared scallops or wild mushroom ravioli, or surrounding a broiled salmon. All, YUM! It would also be very good with some croutons thrown in.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Exerpts from Mom

I'm cleaning out my email inbox and I want to save my Mom's "letters". She writes often. More than we speak anymore. We used to talk every Sunday morning. I'd get up and at about 7:00 or 8:00 or so, coffee mug in hand, I'd take the phone to the bay-window seat overlooking my garden and giver her a call. Every Sunday. Rarely did we miss a day. Now that I'm married and she's retired and on the road with Lorne RV-ing full time I'm neve quite sure what time zone she's in and more often than not when I do call I get voice mail.

They are having the time of thier lives. I've exerpted some of the content of her emails to me last month. I'll post more as I go back further in my inbox. But here are a few from September.

Even from a place they don't partucularly like.

09/09/05 4:35 pm Pigeon Forge - "...and what a mess it is. We were going to stay a week but changed our minds. Going to Dollywood, then just going."

I've told Mom about Blog Spot hoping she'll start a blog. I need pictures.

09/13/05 8:50am Hi ya all - "We are in North Carolina near the Smokey Mountains. ...I've seen what I think is the Kudzu Vine and it covers everything. It makes the trees lo
ok like giant green mummies....The eagles soar here high in the sky, really something to see."

My Grandma and Grandpa sold thier house in Ono, then moved to Central Valley and sold that house, then Grandpa died and she sold that house and moved to Montana, where my Uncle Jim and Elva live. This is her new house there.

09/17/05 8:19am - Fwd: New House - "Hello, Jeannie, I expect to move into this house in about 4 weeks. Jim
nd Elva found it for me...Love Momma."

I just love that Mom and Lorne are loving the road and seeing the country.
A milestone was reached in N. C.

09/27/05 3:32pm North Carolina - "We drove up into the Smokies and came to the Charokee Indian Reservation. The town of Cherokee is right along the river which is beautiful. Then intermixed with all this beauty is so much hokey Indian stuff...huge casinos, motel after motel, moccasin store, genuine indian made blah blah blah.... I'm still barking like one of the frogs around here, so we ate at DQ outside along the river....Got a little slop over from (hurricane) Rita yesterday but nice We've been gone a year."

You know I think about you all the time, Mom. We'll see you at Grandma's in July. Love, Susan and Will.