Update on creativity

I’m slowing moving along with the purple quilt.I made more stars. I am very unhappy with these two. Working with mirror image and small sections – yikes! Many quilters these days embrace ‘improv’. I dislike that term and the resulting quilts. I like order, I like design. To me it’s a cop-out to throw things together haphazardly and then to pretend it’s some great design. Especially in quilting, I really like the accuracy of quilt blocks. So when I posted this on Instagram I got all kind of comments like: I don’t see whats’ wrong. Or I love the improv.

Two things, looking at these images on your phone means you can’t see the details. And no, no improv for me. So these two are joining a pile of orphan blocks. They may end up in a charity quilt. I don’t do my best work for charity. So be it, a bright handmade quilt is still a wonderful thing to give a needy person, even if it’s not my best work. I’m very selfish about my best work.I’m done with the stars for this quilt. Look closely and find the mistake, there is one. I’m not against using only perfect blocks. I like everyone else make mistakes, some are worth keeping.

So now it’s on to borders.Not bad.But does the narrow border come before the flying geese?Or after? I’m not sure yet. I really do enjoy having the design wall, it gives me a chance to try different options and step back. Right now I’m working on the flying geese border, and it doesn’t look like the picture, changes are being made.Other creative pursuits this time of year, making marmalade.I ended up not using the kumquats, I just ate them.  I found a new Meyer lemon marmalade recipe that worked really well. I may have added more sugar than I have in the past. It still is that wonderful combination of tart and sweet. I made two small batches, easier than one big batch.Knitting is happening. This will be a shawl. The interesting thing about knitting, I’m doing less of it. I don’t need a lot of sweaters, shawls or socks. I am very selfish with my knitting since it is created one stitch at a time. So I find myself knitting less. I am grateful to have reconnected with some knitting friends, we get together once a month. Honestly, it’s not about the knitting, it’s about the friendship.



Me?! Bake???

We had Aytan with us for five days while his parents took Shira to North Carolina to get an implant. She is part of a clinical trial, there were reasons why Insurance wouldn’t just ok an implant for her.

On Saturday I took Aytan to the Autry to see an exhibit about Play, games, and toys. They pulled this quilt out of storage, how wonderful is this! Most of the exhibit was meh- old toys behind glass, but they did have plenty of play areas.This was a stage area with some props. Since he has been talking about going to see the rocket ship every day, I felt vindicated.

Then there were old fashioned video games. He had fun playing them. One was: bake your own cookie. So he made a star shaped cookie. As soon as we got home he wanted to actually bake and decorate star shaped cookies. Who says video games only rot the brain?!?!?I haven’t baked in years. I know, baking is a science, instead of finding a simple recipe, I poured some basic ingredients in a bowl, then into the freezer. Not having any cookie cutters, I improvised. Not that cutter would have helped, the dough was tragic. But here we have a star.I had sent Joel to the store to get some frosting in tubes. Aytan got straight to work with his favorite color – yellow. That is what he used on the computer game as well.Ta-dah!  He is done, all he wanted on this was yellow.Kudos to Aytan! He ate most of that cookie. I tried a piece – ugh, it was pretty awful.Instead of throwing out the rest of the dough, which I should have, I baked some blobs.Aytan was happy to use up the rest of the colors on these.I sent this hot mess home with him, with instructions the parents that they are under no obligation to even try them. The garbage is a good place for these. The experience, was what it was all about, playing a computer game is all well and good, but coming home and actually making something, that is where the fun really happened.

Shira’s surgery went very well. In two weeks she goes back to have the processor turned on. A whole new adventure begins.



… but I don’t bake!

Christmas day and we were invited to friends. Unfortunately, Joel was sick, so I sailed down to the OC in an hour. Ahh, holiday traffic.

My friends had a visitor, Minh from up north, she was busy making bialys. Despite saying that I’m a cook, not a baker I got roped in. I was immediately reminded why I don’t bake. I was doing everything wrong. So I bit my tongue and listened carefully to Minh, followed her orders exactly!  She had started the dough from scratch the night before, I had to weigh out the dough exactly and forming them into balls was no easy matter. Here they are, ready to proof one more time.

Proof the did!  Look how the yeast is working its’ magic.Henry had carmelized the onions earlier. I let Minh shape the dough, my job at this point was to press the onions into the center. Can you see the air bubbles here?  They will help make incredible bialys.Out of the oven! Beautiful and oh my! So Good!  The crust was crunchy, inside they were soft and moist!  Well worth all of the effort.  Will I be baking again soon? No, unless Minh comes back to town and ropes me in.My hosts treated themselves to VR as their Christmas gift. It is funny watching someone else doing it. I have to admit, it is a lot of fun. One really is surrounded by a three D world. Since it was a small group, we all enjoyed the experience. Henry had given me these orchids weeks ago at my party. I can’t throw them away, so he recommended removing the spent stalks, cutting back the good ones. Then emersing them in ice water and fresh water in the vase.  It’s been almost four weeks and they still look great!


Holiday Party Time!

Yup, it’s that time of year, one of my favorite parties is the one I host here with friends from all over the southland. Represented are Palm Springs, Orange County, Azusa, Canyon Country, Willmington, Venice, Silverlake, West Hollywood, Glendale and even Sherman Oaks.I make my famous chili in the crock pot, all of it gone!         This year I made brisket and potatoes in the Instant Pot, I need to double the recipe next year!Having a large great room means we can all congregate here, enjoying food, drink, and really good conversation.Every year Iris and I make sure to get a picture,  I’m scared to look back at the picture from 8 years ago when I first hosted this party – I don’t want to see how we’ve aged.Joel gets in on the fun.It’s great that one of the guests in a wonderful florist, Henry always brings me the nicest flowers. As well as a new vase every year….I don’t make dessert, people brought plenty of wonderful sweets. Ken can’t walk in the door without his famous sweet potato pie. I’m a little surprised there was some left for Joel in the morning.Who has time to bake when I’m busy making holiday gifts.The handmade basket makes the rest of the gift shine.I have to end with some more wonderful holiday lights. Best part of the season, as it gets dark early, the lights come out, sparking and bringing joy.

Merry Christmas.


Cooking and food

I love to cook and I’ve yet to post about it here. Way back in my youth I baked a lot, but I haven’t baked in years. Something about the accuracy of baking versus the improvisational aspect of cooking.

img_5868I have been interested in a pressure cooker for years. Despite my friends’ story about how he cooked an oversize brisket that blew up the pot, dinged the ceiling and covered the kitchen in shredded meat.

On Amazon Prime day I put down my money for this beauty. Some close friends on Facebook were buying this one as well. There is a very large group on FB, The Instant Pot Community that shares recipes and stories – mostly successes, some failures.

You might have noticed that the setting right now is for slow cook. This pot does many things, it’s not a one use utensil. Right now I am making my famous tomato and meat sauce. I tried it in the pressure cooker and it just needs that longer slow cooking time.
img_5842I have been learning all the wonderful things I can use this for. I now regularly make stock in about 40 minutes. Sometimes with bones, sometimes just with vegetables. It is very simply to then add other items on the stove top for a hearty winter soup.

p1160942I don’t like chicken breasts, but people were singing the praises of making shredded chicken breast that could then be used in other recipes. So I went ahead and tried it. Adding seasonings after it is shredded sure helps.

p1160941Serving it on top of these oven roasted veggies made for a delicious meal.


I parboiled the potatoes in the pot then finished them off in the oven. img_5848The veggies are oven roasted. The chicken was cooked in the pot and then just popped into the oven to crisp up the skin. And then there is rice, I have no problem cooking rice on the stove, yet I have discovered that if the pot is out it is so simple to use the rice cooking setting – comes out perfect every time. Thanks to my friend Susan, I use that stock I now have on hand and the rice is healthier and much more delicious.

I like a good steel cut oatmeal on a cold morning – thanks to the FB group, it is a success, I can even set the timer and have it ready when I come downstairs.  Hard boiled eggs are a dream! After a few trial and error, even a soft boiled egg is perfect. It sounds a little crazy to boil one egg in this big pot, but it takes about the same time, the same amount of water, and I’m not wondering is it too watery? Is it over boiled?

So yes, I’m a convert and I’m telling anyone who loves to cook to go out and get this wonder pot.

I also love going with friends to hole in the wall ethnic restaurants.img_5852Like this one in Korea Town that only cooks duck.img_5853With all the interesting side condiments.

img_5854Yummy! After all the meat is cooked, they fry rice and the leftover vegetables in the remaining fat. You know that these days nutrisionists are saying cut the carbs, but eating natural fats is good. It works for me, my blood test results are very healthy.

Cooking and eating are simply creative ways of both expressing oneself and enjoying life.



My Meyer Lemon Tree is finally producing a lot of fruit.P1120797

A friend recommended that I make Limoncello, she even sent me the recipe.P1120796So I picked the lemons.

P1120802Bought some American Handmade Vodka. Not sure how one ‘hand makes’ vodka. Is it like moonshine?

P1120803Peeled the lemons very thinly.

P1120805Put them in mason jars, the recipe said, steep for 4 days.

P1120858Turns out it all fit in one jar.

P1120862Then I made a simple syrup, sugar and water, I cut down on the sugar just a little. Combined the two and voila – Limoncello. I also refilled the vodka bottle, but this is a prettier picture. I love how yellow it is. So not only did the peels infuse the vodka with a wonderful strong lemony taste, it gives it a bright yellow color.

P1120903YUM!  Success, and since I have so many lemons, I will probably make more to give as gifts. The leftover fruit will become marmalade, nothing wasted here.  LeChaim!