A passion for food + fashion

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Emergency Kits: Foodstuff Edition

In Drink, Food on September 29, 2011 at 7:12 am

Last spring, I wrote a story for the Los Angeles Times Home section about emergency kits. In that article I focused on pre-made kits you could buy online, but while researching the topic I checked in with my friend Hugh, a man with a plan. Hugh had, of course, assembled his own earthquake kit and said he’d recently added boxed wine.

“I’m all for building some joy into the kit, and none of the commercial ones have it,” he said. “Come doomsday, what’s wrong with eating cherry smoked oysters on water crackers with warm pinot grigio from a mylar bag?”

All joking aside, he has a point. The most likely scenario in which we Angelenos would need a kit would be an earthquake—a situation that might find one without power or services for several days. (And God forbid we consider anything worse.) If you look at FEMA’s guidelines for what to pack, they address the idea of comfort foods in their list of essentials:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
  • Staples—sugar, salt, pepper
  • High energy foods—peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
  • Vitamins
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons with special dietary needs
  • Comfort/stress foods—cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags

It makes sense. Also important to remember are special items that kids or people with special dietary needs might require. Our family got a standard kit from the Red Cross, but we needed to get canned goods so I stocked up on bottled water and some food essentials. What’s in your kit? Here’s what’s in mine…

Bumblebee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil: While I love love love the fancy Ortiz Spanish tuna pictured at the top of this post, it seemed a little spendy for an emergency kit so I went with my go-to commercial canned tuna instead.

MaraNatha Organic No Stir Crunchy Peanut Butter: When it came to peanut butter, I didn’t mind splurging a little. I have a serious addiction to this peanut butter. As in, I have a mild peanut allergy and still eat the stuff everyday. The hour or two of congestion that follows is totally worth it.

Edward & Sons Black Sesame Brown Rice Snaps: These are my toddler’s very favorite crackers. They’re low sodium, gluten-free and surprisingly good. I’d be lying if I pretended Tiny G is the only one eating these.

As a treat with some protein and fiber hidden in there, Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax aren’t bad as granola bars go. These are not as exciting as, say, a ricotta- and yellow cream-stuffed cannolo from Mike’s Pastry in Boston, but they have a longer shelf life.

I also picked up a tin of my favorite Dean and Deluca Swedish Fish, but I’m afraid they didn’t make it through the night…

Paisley Park

In Design on September 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

For the past six months, I’ve had paisley on the brain. We’ve been wanting to upholster some chairs in the living room, and while I fleetingly dabbled with the idea of a Penny Morrison block print fabric, I keep coming back to the idea of a bold linen paisley. For a while, it looked like we were going to go in this direction, MIRA in eggplant from Raoul Textiles:

I’m totally love with all things Raoul, but when it came right down to it—to making a long-term commitment to eggplant—I got cold feet. And then stumbled upon this Indian Pear linen inspired by a Kashmiri shawl from Robert Kime, which I ended up obsessing over for several months before placing my order for 14 yards of the gorgeous stuff last week at Jasper on Melrose. The linen is milled in England and then screen-printed by hand using vegetables dyes. No question, this is true love.


Setting the Scene

In Design, Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on September 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Let it be said that Carrie Carr knows how to set a table. This month for cooking club, our theme was French Fall Feast. And, while everyone will tell you how délicieux the food was, nobody could stop talking about Carrie’s table. I love the jars of purple clover.

Carrie got a bunch of Scrabble letters and racks for a song on eBay so she had enough to spell out everyone’s name in lieu of place cards. She got the dishes, which were designed by Trey Seegle, from Anthropologie. Next month, I’m hosting cooking club, which is a going to be a tough act to follow.

Current Flame: Dahlias

In Design, Out of Town on September 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

My mother always has fresh flowers in the house, a goal to which I aspire but often fall short. When we were up visiting for her birthday over Labor Day Weekend, she had vases of flame orange and pink dahlias everywhere. I can’t stop thinking about them.

She gets hers from a local grower, Aztec Dahlias, at the St. Helena Farmers Market on Friday mornings. While visiting, I also spotted him at the Oxbow Farmers Market in Napa on a Saturday morning. The good news for the rest of us is that we can order bulbs for the 2012 season now online. Or zip up to Napa for the weekend…


In Food on September 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Two years ago this weekend, my sister, Claire, moved to Los Angeles. And so we thought it was time to celebrate by murdering some lobsters. I’m completely embarrassed to admit this, but I’d never tried this at home before because I was sure I couldn’t handle hearing the lobsters “screaming” in the pot. Of course the rest of you know that they don’t make a peep, not to mention that—like insects—they don’t have brains and can’t feel a bloody thing. But I digress. Back to our lovely little guys…

We picked up a few at Santa Monica Seafood for about $15/pound, which sounded almost reasonable until I had lunch today with my friend Zinzi, who just got back from Maine where they were under $4/pound. I would eat lobster every single day if I lived in Maine. Provided my husband was there to help with these little snappers. On Sunday night he did the honors of transferring the lobsters to the pot to steam for about 15 minutes. It’s like a mad science experiment watching them turn to coral red.

Now through the end of November is prime lobster season, so get ’em while they’re hot (i.e., cheap, in lobster terms). Oh, look! One just crawled onto my plate…


Entertaining Elephants

In Baby Love, Fashion on September 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm

This past weekend, a story I wrote about organic kids clothing was included in the Image section of the Los Angeles Times. The whole story was inspired by this little outfit from Entertaining Elephants, modeled above by Tiny G when he was about two months old. It was a gift from friend and L.A. Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila, whose good taste doesn’t stop at where to eat next. Researching the story, I learned a lot—and that the word “organic” tells you nothing about the conditions under how the clothes were manufactured. Which is why it’s worth splurging on brands like Entertaining Elephants, which is manufactured locally here in L.A. using organic cotton from one of the oldest organic cotton producers in U.S. In the meantime, I think I might need to super-size this fairy ballet skirt for myself…

Hurricane Irene in Quechee, Vermont

In Design, Food, Out of Town on September 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

It was with total devastation that I read about and watched the footage of the Quechee Covered Bridge—and so many other treasured bridges in Vermont—being pounded away by Hurricane Irene. The above photo was taken a couple months ago from the Simon Pearce glassblowing factory in Quechee when we were visiting my inlaws at their summer place in Manchester, VT. Tiny G went absolutely nuts for the bridge…

Which now looks like this:

And with it, Irene flooded the glassblowing turbine at Simon Pearce, where visitors—like Tiny G—watched in awe as artisans created impossibly beautiful vases, bowls, barware and stemware out of molten glass.

Two of my favorite Simon Pearce vases (tall Woodbury vase & Woodbury pitcher), filled with French tulips from Lily Lodge:

And muddling strawberries for summer Champagne cocktails in our Simon Pearce Windsor Tankards:

Sadly, the Simon Pearce restaurant was also flooded so while they rebuild the Quechee glassblowing and kitchen facilities, I’ll leave you with a taste of our lunch at the Simon Pearce restaurant overlooking the river and bridge, complete with a burger comprised of Northeast Family Farms grass fed beef, Grafton cheddar cheese, basil aïoli and fries with house made spiced tomato ketchup; wonderfully chewy house made bread and local butter; and Vermont sparkling cider for me and fresh local apple juice for Tiny G—all served on Simon Pearce pottery and in their handblown glasses. My heart goes out to all Vermonters in the wake of this heartbreaking disaster. xx