Thursday, June 23, 2016

Los Angeles light

I'm in Los Angeles for a few days. When I flew in, you could see the downtown buildings against a sky filled with smoke from nearby fires.

The fierce heat wave that had been going on has broken since I got here. Near the beach, at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, it was a cool breezy 78 degrees.

A dish of osh - Persian soup - at Attari Sandwich Shop in Westwood. Made with a variety of herbs, grains and pulses - lentils, beans, chickpeas - it;'s laced with thick yogurt and served with crispy caramelized onions on top.

The beach.

And rising above the beach, the mysterious Villa de Leon in Pacific Palisades.

The beach again, Castle Rock.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hot stuff

Look what I got!!

I lost the tag and I don't remember what kind they are.

But they sure are pretty!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hot tomatoes in the kitchen!

I came home from the Creole Tomato Festival with a bag of nice plump tomatoes, and I had to figure out what to do with them.

This morning, I had scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions. I sprinkled a little cotija cheese on them. too.

Crumbly, salty cotija cheese
I used only half a tomato for my breakfast, so I added another tomato to the other half and made a tomato salsa.

On my kitchen counter, I had a mango and some fresh jalapeno chiles my friend Krenkel had given me from her garden. They'd been sitting on my counter long enough to get ripe. I ch

Chopped up the mango and two of the chiles, and diced up some red onion. I squeezed the juice of one lime into the mixture.

I didn't have any cilantro, but I do have a nice basil plant growing in pot outside my door. So I added some fresh chopped basil to the salsa.

Good - and pretty. Pretty good!

Hot tomatoes!

This weekend is the Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market in New Orleans. It celebrates locally grown Southern Louisiana tomatoes - sweet and sun-ripened and beautiful. There is a 'Creole cultivar, released by LSU in the '70s, but farmers around here have been using the term Creole to describe their home-grown tomatoes (and melons, squash, peppers and eggplants) for generations.

This weekend's festival encompassed many facets of the local culture, including three stages for music, an early morning 5K run, cooking demonstrations, and a Bloody Mary contest.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Blue, blue, my world is blue

 Today my friend Krenkel took me blueberry picking out on her family property in Picayune, Mississippi. When we pulled up to the place, her beautiful blue-eyed white cat meowed to greet us. His name is Blue.

It was hot and sweaty, and we needed Cutters to ward off the mosquitoes. But we settled into our work, along with her smart little grandson, Jason.  The ripe berries just fall away from the stem right into your hand, leaving the beautiful rosy-pink unripe berries to ripen later.

I came home with enough blueberries to freeze 16 cups; along with two and a half pints in the fridge!!!  What to do with them? Berries with my breakfast; blueberry pies, blueberry scones, blue berry clafouti?

She also cut me some of her beautiful hydrangeas.

Blue, blue, my world is blue!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Extraordinary creatures

Yesterday I went to the New Orleans Orchid Society Show and Sale, presented at Lakeview Mall in Metairie.

I went with my friend Naomi, who is an experienced orchid gardener and orchid-show attendee. We took in the exhibits of award-winning plants, and here are some of the sights we saw.

Naomi likes Paphiopedilums

We also browsed the vendors, and oh my goodness, was it tempting! Everything was pretty expensive, though there were some bargains to be had.

I indulged but in a moderate way - I bought one little oncidium for $5,
Mature Oncidium in full bloom

Oncidium blooms, close-up

one paphiopedilum in bloom (it also has beautiful foliage!) for $12

Award-winning paph like the little one I got
a large healthy "spent" cattleya for $12.50 - this means it has bloomed for the year, so I have to wait for next year's bloom. It is supposed to be very fragrant. I also bought three bare-root plants - they were five for $30 and Naomi and I went in together, so we got them for $6 each.

I potted them up this morning. One of them is this magnificent thing:

Here's a look at all the other marvels we saw:




Friday, June 3, 2016

Big thunderstorm

The summer pattern seems to be that around 1 or 3 in the afternoon, storm clouds mass up in the west. The storm usually breaks around 4 o'clock, but sometimes later.

Today I was in the French Quarter; I went to an art exhibit. I took the number 5 bus uptown, which was easy and fast, but on my return trip the bus was a half hour late. I stood on Peters Street in front of the H&M clothing store, chatting with a young man who was also waiting for the bus.

While we waited, a gentle rain started to fall, but tapered off by the time the bus dropped me at Alvar Street at Chartres. So I decided to take Jack out for his evening outing, with a stop off at Vaughan's Lounge.

Jack and I were sitting out on the smoking bench with our friend LJ watching the sky grow darker and darker with thunderheads. I was 3/4 of the way through my glass of $3 chardonnay, and I had a decision to make. Should I hightail it the four blocks to home? Or get another drink and wait it out?

Fortunately, just at that moment two things happened to help me decide. 1) LJ's regularly scheduled taxi, driven by Jimmy, showed up. and 2) the skies opened up.

"LJ, do you think Jimmy would mind giving me and Jack a ride home?"

He did not. I am grateful for that. The rain was so fierce that just stepping from the overhang of Vaughan's gallery to the door of the cab - a mere one foot distance - soaked me so thoroughly my hair streamed with water.

Jimmy and LJ dropped me off at the house and Jack and I ran up the front stairs. He got into the house and shook mightily. We are now sitting cozily inside, me in my dry pajamas and he curled up beside me. Outside, the lightning flashes and the thunder roars - hardly any time between them, so it's clear that the storm is right overhead.

Another summer day in New Orleans.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bywater shrimp boil

Around the corner and up the block there's an elegant restored house with a garden glimpsed through a sliver of a view through the iron fence.

It's owned by a couple of debonair bearded gentlemen I've met on occasion in the local watering hole. This Memorial Day, they hosted a kick-butt garden and pool party, New Orleans style, with a huge tub bubbling over a propane flame, filled with shrimp, potatoes and corn on the cob.

Dig in! Happy holiday!

Sunday, May 29, 2016


This Memorial Day weekend is also the weekend of the New Orleans Greek Festival, held on the grounds of the find Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on the banks of Bayou St. John in the Lakeview neighborhood.

It was a hot and sunny Sunday when I arrived, parking under a wide spreading live oak on St. Bernard Avenue. The Festival was just getting into gear.

I bought myself a pomegranate frozen Daiquiri and browsed the little souvenir and trinket stands, where jewelry, antiques, belly-dancing gear, and magic charms to ward off the Evil Eye were on sale.

This is a family event, lots of kids and strollers. The place was well-kept, and there were nice tented areas to sit and keep the sun off. Even the portapotties were clean and fresh. The big indoor gym held a food hall with sales tables of pastries and a full Greek Dinner. Outdoors there were gyro and souvlaki stands, and a big charcoal fire over which two spits of whole lambs rotated.

The noon day heat soon overwhelmed the bouzouki music, however. I ended up bringing home a box of assorted pastries and a Greek dinner for later.

Opa! and Happy Memorial Day to everyone.