Monday, September 16, 2013

Late Summer is Pie Time, Right?

Two weeks ago I went on vacation, well actually, I went on staycation, to be more exact, and it was Glorious. I did nothing. And by nothing, I mean exactly everything I wanted to to do. This included everything from daily 7AM yoga classes, to exploring new beaches, reading in the sun, going on amazing hikes, making watermelon margaritas, barbecuing with friends, going to happy hour, wandering around art galleries - did I mention it was glorious? It was so good that everyone who follows me on Instagram breathed a huge sigh of relief when I went back to work, because they were starting to get really annoyed with how often I was posting about doing nothing in the middle of the day (I get it. Sorry I'm not Sorry.)

In addition to all of this loveliness, it was also probably the hottest week I've ever experienced in Los Angeles. Every single day was sweltering somewhere in the 90's, and I did so many activities because the alternative was draping myself over the air conditioner in my living room for eight hours a day.

Anyway, my first Monday back at work was made more bearable by the fact that when I walked outside of my apartment it was, dare I say it? Chilly! Brisk!  Anyone who knows me well knows I have an intense love-affair with Fall. As much as I adore summer and being able to run around in little more than a bathing suit from April to September,  I absolutely swoon at scarves, boots, leggings, coffee, pumpkin patches, soups, fireplaces and rainy days. (If you need examples of this absolutely ridiculous obsession, see: Here and also here.)

This Fall obsession is all well and good, except that living in Los Angeles means that Fall doesn't actually start until like mid-November if we're lucky. So on my second day back at work, I donned my new Fall boots, only to be greeted with some midday sunshine and summery temps. What I'm getting at here, is that Fall is not cooperating, but it's okay because I'm stubborn. If Fall won't come to me, I will force myself upon it, and I decided the best way to do that was via pies. That's right, delicious flakey pies, and even more excitingly, portable pies! Because clearly, you'll need to pop them into your beach bag so you can eat them while you lay out in the mid-September sunshine.

So without further ado, here's my recipe for Peach-Berry Hand Pies:

1 c. chopped peaches
1/2 c. raspberries
1/2c. blueberries
1/2 a small lemon
1/4 c. sugar
dash of cinnamon

1 egg
1tsp. water
raw sugar for garnish
1 Store-bought Pillsbury roll-out pie crust*

Step 1: Start by putting some Bon Iver on your iPod, digging out your uggs, and pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2. Chop the peaches and put them in a mixing bowl with the berries, Stir in the cinnamon and sugar, and squeeze the lemon over the fruit mixture (you can add a little extra sugar if you like your pies sweeter, but I like mine tart). The consistency should be a little syrupy once everything is mixed in.

Step 3. Roll out pie crusts on a lightly floured surface, and cut them into 4" diameter circles. I got about four or five circles out of my dough. Pro-tip: I used a round tupperware container, and just cut around it with a knife, because I don't have assorted 4" cookie cutters (and you probably don't either).

Step 4. Plop (yes, plop) about 2 tbsps. of filling in the center of each circle (be careful not over-fill them, or you won't be able to close them, and they will literally turn into a hot mess when you bake them). Fold each circle in half and pinch the edges shut so they look like little footballs. If you want to be fancy, you can press the edges with a fork, just be careful not to rip the dough.

Step 5. Place pies in a glass baking dish, and prick each of them with a knife 3 or 4 times so they vent (if you don't do this, they'll explode in the oven). Scramble the egg and 1 tsp. of water in a small bowl, and then brush each pie with a little of the mixture. Sprinkle raw sugar on top.

 Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the pies are brown, and the filling is oozing out delightfully. Cool and enjoy with hot coffee or cider.

If you like this, you should also try the savory version that I came up with. The process is exactly the same but with chopped spinach, tomatoes, feta, basil, salt and pepper for the filling (keep the egg-wash, omit the raw sugar). File this under "fancy snack".

*Keep your judgey comments to yourself about the store-bought crust. I've watched my grandmother hand-make a pie crust, and I am not about that life. It involves ice water, butter, lots of flour, a pastry cutter, rolling pin, and more patience than I have developed in 26 years of living. And, (sorry Grandma) store bought crusts are just as delicious.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Squash Awesomes

I love weekends, because there are absolutely no expectations.

Well, let me re-phrase, in theory, there are no expectations. I am one of those people who constantly overbooks their schedule with fun things. This weekend it was the Pier Concert to see Nick Waterhouse, coffee and lunch dates in Malibu to catch up with old friends, sunset drinks at Shangri-la, which turned into nighttime drinks all over Venice, birthday grill-outs and dips in the pool. By the time Sunday rolled around I was over all of my plans. I'd been invited to a pool party at the W Hotel, and I had good intentions about going to yoga, and making myself a bunch of healthy meals for the week. 

But that's the beauty of weekends. I lazed around Sunday morning, had brunch at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, and then I bought one thing: Squash Blossoms. Here's what I know about squash blossoms - practically nothing. They grow on zucchini, they're yellow or orange, and I'd heard you could stuff them with cheese, which was all of the information I needed. 

I went home, cleaned my apartment, laid around some more, went for a walk, turned on this little mix and then decided to tackle the culinary experiment that is stuffed squash blossoms. I'll get right to it and tell you I had no idea what I was doing. For starters, I washed the blossoms, which seemed like a good idea because they had dirt and tiny bugs on them, I later read that you're just supposed to wipe them off with a paper towel, because they're harder to fill when they're wet. Oh well. 

Challenge #2 came up when I filled the blossoms with the cheese mixture. Just FYI pastry bags are the devil. I have one and I hate it. I ended up just spooning the cheese into a plastic ziploc bag and cutting of the corner to pipe it out and into the blossoms. Magic.

Ziploc bags are your friend.

Filling them was the hardest part, but once that was done, it was as simple as egg, flour, and fry. Totally tasty. Totally worth the work. And essentially, I ate fried cheese for dinner. I'm about that life. It's the weekend. 

Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms
12 squash blossoms
1/3 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella 
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 roughly chopped basil leaves
vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup flour

Wash and trim excess stem length from blossoms (I left about an inch). Pat dry with a paper towel.
Combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, basil, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spoon mixture into a plastic ziploc bag, and then snip off the corner of the bag. carefully pipe about a tablespoon of filling into each blossom. Don't fill them past where the petals separate or the filling will run out when you fry them. Twist the petals together to close. (So you have a tasty little cheesy pocket).

Note: it's best to keep them in the fridge as you fill them, and while you prep the oil, egg and flour in the next step. This will keep them from untwisting, and the filling from oozing out if it gets melty. 
Heat enough vegetable oil in a skillet to cover the bottom in 1/4 inch of oil.Heat oil on medium-low.
Scramble the second egg in one bowl, and pour the flour in another small bowl. Dredge each stuffed blossom in flour, egg, and then flour again for maximum crispiness. 
 Fry stuffed blossoms in batches. Turn them with tongs when you see the edges begin to brown. Brown both sides and then transfer to a stack of paper towels to drain the oil and cool.
Sprinkle with a pinch of salt before serving. (I also added parmesan and marinara for dipping) Best served warm.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Happy Friday! I could not be more glad this week is over. There have definitely been some ups and downs. Here's a super sweet (pun-intended) little song from Sugar and the Hi Lows (I just realized that was doubly punny. Sorry). This duo has a really simple melodic style, that reminds me of being very young, and my parents singing together a capella. Something about it is reassuring, which is a feeling everyone could use a little more of from time to time.

Anyway, I'll be listening to this with a glass of wine while I watch the sunset and make a list of things I'm going to do on my upcoming stay-cation.

"I've got you covered

So go ahead and sleep tonight
I'm not like the others
You will see in time"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How Lucky We Are

It's been a strange few days.

I hardly ever get sick, but I'm going on my 2nd day of really bad headaches, caused by God-only-knows what, but if anyone suggests that I cut out dairy or gluten, I'm going to go drown myself in a pool of melted ice cream, because I don't want to live in world where I can't have cheese or pasta.

I also found out yesterday that my car is being recalled because of a manufacturer's defect that "may allow the vehicle to partially lose traction at high steering wheel angles, which could lead to a loss of control of the vehicle, increasing your risk of a crash." So much for go-kart handling.

In spite of these things, I'm actually not complaining, because on Saturday, I almost died. Long story short, I was walking down the Venice boardwalk with some friends, when a guy decided to careen his car down Ocean Front Walk at 55 mph, aiming to take out just about everything in his path. It all happened pretty fast, and I really just remember a hand pulling me to the side, and then a dozen people rushing behind me as we all tried to move out of the way of the speeding car. Eleven people were injured, and one woman was killed.    It was scary, and terrible, and sad, but honestly, I just kept thinking about how lucky we were. Experiences like that make me realize how insignificant little problems like headaches, and car trouble, and work deadlines can be. When you think you might die, nothing is really that bad. It kind of makes me want to stay up and do all of things I've been meaning to do, like writing letters to everyone who's ever been encouraging to me, or figuring out how to make a Crème brûlée, or to start running in the morning before work (just kidding, no part of me wants to do that).

I think my point can be summed up by a quote I heard recently by Joey Comeau that said something along the lines of, "Imagine how happy you could be, if you spent less time imagining how happy you could be."

On that note, I don't mean for this blog to be so heavy, and existential all the time, I swear! Usually it's about how I'm making a complete fool of myself, or the life-changing hot dog I ate.

So to lighten it up, here's a funny little music video by Meiko, called "How Lucky We Are". It kind of fits.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

One Day You'll Want to Know.

Six months have gone by. Roughly 180-ish days of wake ups, and laughter and tears and working, and playing and drinking and dancing, planning, and crumpling up those plans, and tossing them in favor of something else.  And I haven't wanted to write one word about any of it.

I tried, but every time I wanted to write, I got overwhelmed with the feeling that I had nothing important to say.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who went to visit her grandmother on her 89th birthday. She mentioned that her grandmother really only remembers up to a certain point, and so whenever family come to visit she exclaims, "You grew up!" It's sweet, really.

I've been thinking a lot about the passage of time. My youngest brother went off to college last weekend. I couldn't be more proud, but also so, so shocked that so much time has passed. You grew up! I remember I was eight when he was born. I got to be in the hospital for his birth (when my other siblings were born, I had to wait at home with a relative until the next day), and I was SO excited. I held him for the first time, very shortly after he came out, and he was... red, and wrinkled, and scowled like an old man, and I was so happy, I thought my heart was going to burst.

 I used to dress my brother up, and pull him around in a laundry basket, and chase him around the house squealing, and now he's a Man. When did that even happen?! It's sort of unsettling, but I still love looking back on these memories. I love pouring over my journals from highschool, middle school, and even earlier. I have boxes and boxes of pictures and letters, splattered with stickers and cryptic acronyms: LYLAS, TTYS, W/E, BFF, 143. Somewhere in the dark recesses of the internet is a livejournal, that I wrote earnestly in at 16, about everything that was happening in my world.

 I can confidently say I had nothing important to say. Not being allowed to go to a party in Isla Vista, getting my drivers license, learning to drive without parental supervision in my boyfriend's 1982 Oldsmobile. Those things are pretty unimportant, but the more I think about it, the more those memories are becoming so precious to me. One day, I'll be 89, and someone will say, "Remember the time you rode a jet-ski in Hawai'i? Or the time you got lost for hours in Italy, and stumbled into a kite festival?" and I might not. I can't fathom that. To me, that sounds worse than losing a favorite piece of jewelry, my cell phone, or a $100 bill. In a world with Instagram and Facebook, it seems like there will forever be a permanent record of everything, but it's really just bits and pieces of the best parts. The parts that are filtered and cropped for public consumption, and then carefully curated in a social media mosaic. There's no record of the messy, the complicated, the spontaneous, and sometimes those memories are the best.

I have nothing important to say. But I want to be able to look back on all the happy, insignificant, wake-ups, and laughs, and tears, and plans, and non-plans, and drinks and dances, because at the end of the day, they're all I've got.

**Special thanks to Rebecca at GGC for inspiring me to blog again. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I love L.A. I love it's people, it's vibrancy, it's heat, and it's hustle.

It's daylight, it's nightlife, it's sunsets and the rare sunrises I wake in time to see.

But it's hard to love something that won't love you back.

And sometimes, I wonder why I stay.