Sunday, July 5, 2015

A White Party Pop Up Dinner in Sonoma by Handmade Events

I recently went to an amazing event that you really should do your best to get to. You will not be disappointed. The premise is: You pay $40 per person, for a sensational venue, a great DJ, amazing musicians and a dance floor, complete with beautiful string lights and a magical sunset. Your part is: wear white, decorate your table with white, bring food (sky's the limit) for you and your attendees.

A view from above on the retaining wall of the Jack London property.

My husband and I saddled up the car with Charlene and Teodora and all our loot. We were contacted by email from Handmade Events the location of the event only an hour before send off. It was so mysterious and exciting (although, the drawback, how to dress?). The event place for this Wine Country Event was in the Valley of the Moon - Jack London State Historical Park in Glen Ellen Sonoma. It was breathtaking if not magical.

Here is an action shot of Charlene. It really captures the whimsy of the evening.

Everyone had their list of items to contribute. Char got napkins, plastic glasses, utensils, taper candles (strictly speaking, they aren't allowed - but I won't tell if you don't) wine and a veggie platter. I rounded up the white ostrich feathers/vases, a song bird candle holder, beet hummus/pita appetizer (recipe below) and shrimp cocktail along with the main course (my own muffaletta sandwiches - recipe below).

A pretty window with shutters and pretty window boxes on the small house on the property.

Charlene and Teodora.
These guys were clever with their decor with simple helium balloons.
Pastel flowers and the aftermath of apps.
So gourmet.
Flour sack napkins and rosemary sprigs tied with hemp twine.
The simple willow branches with one wayward feather...elegant.
These guys had initials with moss and butterflies at everyones place setting.
Faux furs and gold chargers? Over the top fun.
The fashion. This woman was stunning.

Casual and whimsical, these guys has such awesome headwear.
Teodora having a laugh.
Char and I.
Bulent and I.
The main course: Muffaletta Sandwiches containing in butcher paper tied with a hemp string. Juicy Fruit, both a favor and a palette cleanser - plus it's my favorite gum.

Poppies Pressed Muffaletta Sandwiches (Serves 6)
Dutch Crunch rolls
pesto (from the store or homemade) I make my own (1 bunch basil, 3 garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 Tbs toasted pine nuts and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese - put it all in the Cuisinart - and presto)!
roasted red peppers, eggplant, onions and yellow squash (thinly sliced)
sliced ham and turkey
sun dried tomatoes and sliced fresh tomato
sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of Arugala
olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing (add some dijon and salt and pepper)
Put pesto on both sides of bread
layer all items to your taste
close sandwiches and wrap with paper, put the sandwiches under something heavy (I used cook books).

There is the beet hummus and pita platter.
Beet Hummus Recipe
4 small roasted beets
1/4 cup feta cheese
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 large bunch dill
S+P to taste
Whir it all up in the Cuisinart.
Your party goers will love it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Inspired - Moon Madness


Moon Madness

The moon is full.
And that's no bull.
I wonder where the wits have gone.
There are folks in cars
And folks in bars
Trying to run people down.
Don't steal my magic
Oh, so tragic
When friends don't have loyalty anymore.
Makes me just a wee bit sore and geez I mean 
wishin' they were dead as a door.
It's the moon, it's the moon
So I croon with delight
Crazy, awesome, devilish sight.
Remember your day
and try hard to say
It's the moon, it's the moon
Lay your head down; think, sing and pray
that tomorrow will be better when it begins to wane.
Oh great big moon,
You'll be gone soon
Perhaps our brains will return again.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Henna Party

I've been out.
No excuses. Just doing other stuff and looking for some inspiration.
I think I found it.

My friend Kendra is having a birthday at the end of this month and to celebrate I invited several ladies over to my house for a luncheon. To supplement the luncheon I also asked a traditional Henna Artist named Tara to join us for the festivities and create some temporary body art for us. It was beyond my wildest imagination and went off so amazingly that I'm going to do it again for my birthday! here is the invitation which I emailed to the ladies. (Some of you may scoff at an emailed invitation - but the cost effectiveness cannot be beat).

Original artwork by Amylee Paris.
All the elements of this little bash were extraordinary. I had big vases of white tea roses that I spirited away from SMUD and supplemented with my own colored roses from the garden. The arrangements were beautiful. The menu of ladies tea sandwiches (recipes included below) and lavender lemonade. I made a hummingbird cake and a fantastic veggie platter with a feta, garlic dip and a fruit platter with a peanut butter yogurt dip.

The favors were mismatched china plates all with a different floral patterns on them but the "piece de resistance" were the lemon, sugar cookies by my friend Leah at "I Hella Heart Sugar" complete with beautiful Mehndi designs on them.

Lemon Sugar Cookies by Leah at I Hella Heart Sugar.
The spread.

I've thrown a party before, natch. But this had just a little more magic. Kendra is all girl and, like me really enjoys these girly things. I wish her nothing but great blessings for a wonderful birthday.

Here is an excellent menu if you fancy throwing a "Ladies Who Lunch" event for a special friend of yours.

Tea Sandwiches:

1. Roasted Chicken and Cream Cheese with Fig Compote on Raisin Brown Bread.

  • Mix 4 oz. cream cheese with fig jam
  • Spread cheese mixture on thinly sliced "Boston Brown Bread" (recipe)
  • Neatly lay chicken so that the sliced chicken is not over the edge of the sandwich.
  • Cut in half resembling a half moon.
  • Fan out on a serving plate. (see above in my "spread" photo - they are the sandwiches on the top tier of the three level serving platter).
2. Radish, Mint and Lemon on Westphalian Rye.
  • In a food processor, add 1 bunch radishes, and pulse until small but not mushy. Take the container off the blade and base and drain excess water.
  • Add 4 oz. cream cheese (the other half that you used for the chicken sando's).
  • Add 1 bunch mint (leaves and stems are fine).
  • Add juice and rind of half a lemon.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread entire mixture on the rye and cut in half to create small triangles. Cut in half again for even smaller triangles.
3. Cucumber Pesto on Fitness Bread.
  • Thinly slice cucumber.
  • Make your pesto.
    • In a food processor, add one bunch basil leaves, 1 whole kale leaf, 2 tbs pine nuts and a 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbs olive oil and the juice of the other half of the lemon you used for the radish sandwiches. Add salt and pepper and pulse until it resembles a paste.
  • Spread pesto on bread.
  • Top with cucumber slices and close sandwich with another piece of bread that you've spread with the pesto as well.
  • Slice into strips and slice again into small squares.
  • This bread can be tricky to work with so be ginger when cutting.
Hummingbird Cake:

This cake recipe was given to me by my friend Patty. I altered it so that it has a very moist consistency. It makes 1 8x8 inch pan cake.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed, brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large ripe banana, smashed with a fork
  • 1/2 cup soybean oil (or similarly light salad oil)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large, entire can of crushed pineapple, with syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Grease and flour an 8x8 square, metal baking pan
  • Combine eggs, sugar, salt, banana, vanilla extract and oil in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Mix in pineapple (plus syrup)
  • Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and pecans and mix until just combined. 
    • Do not over mix or your cake will be a brick you could kill someone with at 20 paces.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 for between 40-45 minutes.
  • To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into center of cake. If it comes out with nothing sticking to it, your cake is done.
  • Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes.
  • Turn onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Frost with cream cheese frosting.
    • 1 package cream cheese frosting (Don't skimp - use Philly)
    • 1 stick butter 
    • 1 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 Tbs Frangelico for a little kick).
    • Mix with a hand mixer.
    • When cake is cool, frost with this delight.
Feta Garlic Dip with Lemon:
  • 1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese 
  • 1 8 oz block feta cheese (I like the French variety).
  • 1 clove garlic (more if it's just you - but you don't want the ladies blaming you for their offensive breath)
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs olive oil and pinch chili flakes (for garnish)
  • Mix all ingredients (except garnish) together in a food processor
  • Serve with Pita Chips and crudites - I used the requisite veg, but I cut the jicama into tiny stars and flowers and hearts with tiny cookie cutters.
Peanut Butter Yogurt Fruit Dip:
  • 1 6 oz. tub vanilla yogurt (I use Chobani).
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Mix all ingredients together, pour into serving bowl.
  • Serve with cut up kiwis, apples, blueberries, strawberries, bananas and grapes or whatever fruit you fancy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

People - heneedsfood.

As you all know, I fancy myself a gastronome. Unfortunately, I have been in the kitchen quite a bit but have not documented anything of late. I'm not sure why. I made an astounding Italian soup with Swiss Chard and white beans and delightful organic mild sausage. I made a mushroom and asparagus risotto - super satisfying and rich for our first al fresco dining of the season (I'll make both the soup and risotto again and post my recipes soon - so I've not included links here as I'd like to get my own recipes on here for those). And I made a couple Turkish meals while our niece (Ecem) visited us from Quinnipiac University, which included KofteDomates Pilavi, Karniyarik and Irmik Helvasi! Just last night I made Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. But none of them, sadly, did I record for P&P. And perhaps that is a good thing - maybe I haven't been terribly inspired to write things lately after my rejection from BlogHer. Or perhaps, my inspiration has waned or I should consider my lack of time - regardless of the reason, I have not discontinued my use of the good old Pinterest - a treasure of inspiration on every pinboard - and it did not disappoint today! I was wanting a clever supper for the husband and I this evening, heavy on "light fare" and heavy on taste. I was stumped until a photo came up "Oyster Mushrooms and Swedes on Toast." I swooned. If your not sure what a swede is, here in the states we call them Turnips. The recipe was created by John Bek, an extraordinary epicure and the founder of heneedsfood - a written account of his culinary delights. His recipes are different but not weird, his instructions are precise but not snooty and his photographs are amazing. And the website itself is a virtual holiday to somewhere else; it is so well done, you can get lost in heneedsfood pages for quite a while before checking to see how long you've waited before indulging in something delicious. It was only fair that I post about John and heneedsfood and catalog the post under "People" and "Gastronomy." He is not just an amazing former chef and current photographer but his roots are Croatian and he is a first generation Aussie. Go see, but do not visit him there if you are hungry.

Oyster Mushrooms and Swedes on Toast by John Bek at heneedsfood.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rock The Red Pump

Enzo Angiolini Red Leather Ankle Tie Pumps, standing in front of the
Office of AIDS Prevention Branch Zombie Apocalypse poster.

Me on the left, Our branding at CDPH on the upper right
 and below with co-worker/Style Maven, Renee.

The Rock Red Pump Project was begun in 2009 by Awesomely Luvvie - Luvvy Ajayi and The Fabulous Giver - Karyn Brianne Lee. These two ladies are simply extraordinary. Together they began a fashionable conversation starter about HIV/AIDS Awareness, specifically concerning women and girls and often focusing on AIDS Awareness for Women of Color. This was a particularly important event to be a part of since I work for the California Department of Public Health at the Office of AIDS but that is not the only reason. I am also a woman. I feel blessed to have been invited to post about this inspiring event. On March 10th, do not forget to wear your red shoes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Springtime Cocktail

My friend Manny and I have decided that this "in between seasons time" is a difficult place to be for many, firstly, can be difficult but with a little cultivation can be really creative and cool.

I think cuisine and libations can be equally as challenging and we can get equally creative. For instance, A gin and tonic is strictly a Summertime drink for me, as is a Shandy (a nod to Sacramento Beer Week - I am more a hard cider girl, the perfect Autumn drink), Where a Hot Toddy or Mulled Wine are strictly Winter drinks. But what should we drink in the Spring? For me, I love the Antoinette. It's refreshing and it's got a no nonsense kick. It seems perfect for this time of year just before the time Springs forward. It's clever, unusual and a mixologist's idea of sophistication, I would guess. Try it. You might like ti. If you do, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

People - Beatrice Wood

This is Beatrice Wood. Ever heard of her? Didn't think so.
I thought, as a first "People" post, it would be a good thing to introduce someone extraordinary, female and someone most folks haven't heard about.

"Beato" was an artist, writer and performer. She is primarily known for her ceramic arts. She is, as many artists are, extraordinary for a number of reasons: she was best known for the work she produced after the age of 68. And she died at the age 105. She was an ingenue, a bohemian and gypsy. She lived in India, France and New York City. And she hobnobbed with Marcel Duchamp and claimed herself as part of the Dadaist movement. She was truly amazing - as a woman, as an artist, as a person. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts delineates her entire, exciting and thoroughly interesting life/career in a nice, comprehensive biography.