Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Big Waves, Big Suds and Fun Food

Wacky Weekend
I woke up to find a Tsunami warning in my e-mail. The waves were due to hit beginning at 11:45 am. On the one hand, the warning said that it was unlikely that there would be evacuations. On the other had, the waves could be moving at up to 400 miles per hour and that we should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. The whole morning was peculiar, weather -wise. It was sunny and pouring rain and then in was very dark and cold and windy. I was really puzzled that none of my local Dopplerganger weather folk were even on the air. There wasn't even a news ticker on the bottom of the major local stations with updates on the tsunami. I had to go to the Weather Channel for those. Thus, Jon and I were dressed and prepared to go to the police station down the street. I was listening for the alarm to sound. When I preferred lazing on the sofa. That was irritating. I did get some amusement calling friend and neighbor Garett who is my tsunami buddy. He never hears anything like this, so I call him to give him a heads up. His obliviousness is really strange as he lives mere blocks from the ocean and has a canal in front of his house. I usually get playfully harassed for my trouble and hang up laughing. Such was the case this morning. Still, I found the entire affair to be strange and irksome.

Diagnosis and Prognosis
I finally got to see an Oncologist last week. I am very happy to tell everyone that I am at stage one of my particular cancer. The head of the clinic that I am visiting is an expert in this cancer and has successfully treated it more than once. Best of all, I will not be going through weeks of chemo. The only downside is having to have another surgical procedure. After that, I will be closely monitored for years to come, but that's not bad at all. I'm in great shape for the surgery, but I have to get my iron levels up in advance of blood tests next week. More dark greens and a little liver pate should do the trick. The patients my doc has treated with this cancer are surviving and thriving ten years after their procedures. Thus, things look very good. Thank you to all who sent prayers and/or good thoughts. Keep them coming! I also accept rain dances and fan dances (those are a lot of fun).

In My Hood
Mar Vista is the red headed step child of neighborhoods in Los Angeles' privileged and entitled westside. It isn't as glamorous as Santa Monica which is home to movie stars, famous chefs and the Governator himself. It isn't as funky and eclectic as Venice whose freaky beach is an international tourist destination. Most, like me, thought of it as the space you pass through on the way to Culver City which is enjoying quite a renaissance of late. The only neighborhood more obscure to Angelinos is mine. Del Rey was named for the salt marshes near Ballona Creek. When I tell people where I live, most assume I have left off the word Marina. Alas, this is not the case. Marina del Rey is within walking distance to our humble home, but Jon and I don't have a yacht nor enough digits in our income to live there. We are Marina adjacent. But I digress. To my mind, both Del Rey and Mar Vista were places I passed through on the way elsewhere. This has been true even during the past three years of living here. However, I have been restricted in my movements of late. That has been fortunate in many ways. One of them has been having the opportunity to find some real gems hiding in plain sight mere minutes from my front door. This is the first review of such gems.

I am a tactile being. My love of food encompasses how it looks, how it feels in the mouth and how it smells as well as how it tastes. This trait makes me an absolute sucker for soaps and lotions and candles and perfumes. It was a very delicate fragrance of flowers and fruit and vanilla that drew me into a small shop called Soaptopia on Venice Boulevard near Centinela Avenue. Inside, I found a shop full of all things decadent and bath related and a kitchen where these products were created. The pots were enormous.

There were soaps like Aloe be Thy Name or The Grapefruit Gatsby. I was given four generous sample of soap with my purchases. I've only used Rozilla vs Dry Skinea, but I found that the others (She Uses Tangerine, Rose Patchouli and Mint Condition) all smell wonderful. The Rozila produced a thick, luxurious lather that rinsed off cleanly. I have very dry skin, so I'm drawn to body oils and thick lotions and creams. Soaptopia makes and sells a product called an Oil Slather that is used after rinsing from a bath or shower but before toweling off. It's an amazing oil, because it is an oil but doesn't feel greasy on the skin once it's toweled off. I tried Rosemary's Other Baby, but I sniffed almost all of the others. I want them all. Finally, I tried something called a 50/50 body balm which is described as 50 percent cream and 50 percent body butter. I tried Rozilla which was thick and creamy, but also not greasy. It left my skin very soft with the lightest of scents.

The playful product names match the friendly service. Browsing and questions are encouraged. They even offer classes on fragrance making. There are modestly priced small sizes of most of the products, so you can find the one that suits you best. I plan to do a great deal of experimenting.

There are other gems in Mar Vista that I plan to explore very soon. There is a Farmer's Market and a couple of restaurants and specialty grocers that have caught my eye. Stay tuned.

What's Cookin'
Processing the groceries from the past week was my goal by Saturday. I've largely succeeded. I turned the two roast chickens that I bought on deep discount a week ago into the final left over: a chicken pot pie with a fresh made crust. I made four pies and froze them for after I get out of the hospital and am unable to do much cooking. I turned the pulled pork into a burrito filling (made four of those. I'll freeze one) and a meat smothered with gravy seasoned with Herb de Provence that can be paired with rice or potatoes. I plan to freeze some of that as well. To cover my Lenten seafood selections, I made and am freezing crab cakes and zucchini pancakes. The only soup I managed to finish this week is a cream of asparagus. I had wanted to do the Mediterranean fish soup, but my shopping was thwarted by a number of things. I want to try again this week.

I have some cooking notes that I've posted on Facebook this week. For those who've read them, see you next week. For the rest, enjoy!

What's Cooking in the Wee Small Hours (Feb 23, 2010)
I have to get up in four hours, but I'm wide awake. I'm having the long awaited Oncologist appointment which is probably why I'm wide awake. The scent of roasting pork isn't helping matters either. There was a massive pork shoulder on sale at the market today. It was under ten bucks for something that looked like Fred Flintstone's dinner. I grabbed it, oiled it up, rubbed it with a mix of Herb de Provence, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper then threw it in the oven on low for about eight hours. It should be fork tender by the time I leave. I really love pulled pork, but decided I wanted it without the barbecue rub. The Herb de Provence rub was what I came up with in its stead. The result is quite lovely. Alas, I will have to leave the succulent pile of pork having had just the the tiniest taste. It does give me something to look forward to when I come home. I will have to make a stop at some point during the day for a suitable bread or bun to hold those tender morsels. Or I may just shovel it in my mouth by the fistful. In the privacy of my kitchen, who's to know?

Friday Night Snacks (February 26, 2010)
There are a lot of things I still miss from Philly (where are my pretzels, brother dear). Among the things I didn't expect to find is a really good bagel. My standards are high as I worked in New York City for a year. Luckily, there is a company out here called Noah's Bagels that has some real New Yorkers making things. Luckier still, Noah's provides bagels for our local Costco (we get a dozen fresh baked bagels for $.99). I like the everything bagel (onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds). Jon likes cinnamon raisin. Anyway, my favorite bagel snack is something I picked up from one of the crew guys on "Demon Under Glass.' He liked his bagel toasted with a nice layer of cream cheese with a slice of tomato on top. My variant is that I chop the tomato then gently press it in the cream cheese so that it stays put. I sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on the tomato. I love the arm crunch od the bagel with the softness of of the cream cheese and the warmth of the bagel against the cool of the cream cheese. It's just a great combination, And, as a snack, it's not that unhealthy (I only have a half a bagel-tomato at a clip). As for the other things I miss from Philly? I do fairly well making steak sandwiches (steakums on a supermarket French baguett is really good. I make mine with garlic infused olive oil on the roll instead of mayo). And I've just found a recipe for soft pretzels that's really easy that Jon and I will probably try next week. And I even found a recipe for scrapple that is probably a lot healthier than the real thing (it uses pork shoulder and fresh hocks cooked with corn meal rather than snouts and offal). It may not tast as yummy though. Still, I'd like to give it a try. More cooking later. I hope to have a report from the nearby farmer's market as well.

1 comment:

My @ tha Hotness said...

You are in my area. I just usually tell people Marina Del Rey because then they have a point of reference. I am a Soaptopia lover too.:)