Saturday, February 28, 2009

Harry Potter

Harry Potter
During a recent visit with grandchildren, I was brought up to date by reading Harry Potter with a granddaughter. For the celebration of Carnival, Anna dressed as Harry. On our visit to Hollywood much of the Harry Potter display was off limits to photography but I did get the photos of the car and "Harry" stood in the gift shop where his costumes were available at Warner Brothers Studios Souvenir Shop.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hooray For Hollywood!

The famous Hollywood Sign
The Silver Lariat Domed Rail car The route along the ocean.
The beautiful mission style Union Station
The famous corner of Hollywood & Vine
Hooray For Hollywood
We joined a group of retirees for a guided tour of Hollywood on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was probably the best tour anyone could have today. Our guide grew up in Hollywood with parents involved in the film industry. His knowledge of the historic buildings and the importance they played in the earlier history of Hollywood made the trip very informative. I will share photos of some of the sites over the next few days.
We rode a dome rail car built in 1947, restored in 1998 and is owned and used only for rail tours by AFC Tours. We enjoyed brunch on the ride to Los Angeles.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Italian Pizza
Pizza made in a brick oven has a thin crisp crust. The top photo is a pizza with red bell pepper strips, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese. The bottom photo is Pizza Margharita which is a tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese seasoned with fresh basil.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


We recently attended a wine tasting which served pizza made on a brick hearth as an appetizer. Now it doesn't get anymore Italian than that! I wrote down the combinations as they were so tasty. If you have a favorite crust recipe or rely on Boboli these combinations will make you wish for more!
#1. Tomato sauce, caramelized onion and goat cheese.
#2. Olive oil, red bell pepper, pepperoni. cheese. (yes, no tomato sauce)
#3. Olive oil, fresh tomato sliced thin, shredded Parmesan cheese,basil leaves chopped.
#4. Basil Pesto, bacon, goat cheese, caramelized onion.
#5. Mushrooms, carrots, diced potato, shredded pork
#6. Four cheeses and chopped basil leaves.
#7. Zucchini sliced thin, shredded pork, onion, bell pepper red and yellow, goat cheese and basil.
Most American pizzas are served with a layer of rendered fat floating on the top from the cheese, or fat meats. Pizza served in Europe is usually made with fresh vegetables and slight amounts of meat. Tomorrow I will post a Pizza Margharita made in Milano.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Martha Stewart's Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold shortenning
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water
Blend flour, salt, and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Slowly add ice water adding just enough to make the mixture bind together. Roll out and fit into pie dish. Prick botton of crust with a fork and place a sheet of parchment paper with pie weights on crust. Bake at 425 until edges start to turn. Remove pie weights and finish baking.
2 lemons for zesting
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
Combine the sugar, and cornstarch, gradually add 2 cups water; bring to a boil. When thickened temper egg yolks by adding a small amount of hot liquid to the egg yolks 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture measure about 3/4 cup and then blend into hot mixture stirring well during addition. When thickened add butter and lemon juice and zest. Stir to mix well. Allow mixture to cool 30 minutes until set, pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm. Pour into cooled crust. Top with meringue.
8 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add sugar while beating 1 tablespoon at a time. When egg whites hold peaks add 1 teaspoon vanilla and blend. Cover lemon filling making sure to seal edges. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 425 degrees until golden brown.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tour Of California

The starting line in Rancho Bernardo neighborhood of San Diego. A great turnout of support. The cyclists start their 110 mile loop of the race. More of the cyclists. Another shot the cyclists. Some of the many who turned out for the send off! The two early leaders blocked in the photo by two crew members. The cyclists after the Mt. Palomar Mtn. climb cycling on Cold Grade Rd.
Some of the cycle support vehicles.
The finish Line in Escondido. Levi Leipheimer won with a winning time of 4 hours 6 minutes and 52 seconds.
Tour Of California
One of the more exciting events to happen in California in a few years has been the Tour Of California sponsored by Amgen. The event started in Sacramento February 14 and finished in Escondido February 22. What a thrill to have been able to be a spectator for one leg of the race. It was Mt. Polomar that brought the race to finish here in our part of southern California. Cheering fans and spectators lined the streets and roads throughout the route. Lance Armstrong was obviously a big favorite but to see athletes from all over the world competing in this race was such a thrill. The first place winner was Levi Leipheimer but the winning team was Astana which was the team of Lance. The finish line had the cyclists seperated by seconds.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hello Milano and Zurich

Hello Milano and Zurich
Daughter Mary behind "the wheel" and her friend Elisabeth are visiting in the States on business and of course to stimulate the economy. Hello Milano and Zurich, good-bye euros and Swiss francs!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Highway 5 Central Valley

Highway 5
Thursday we drove from The Bay Area to San Diego. It probably was four years ago that we last drove this route. We were amazed to see so many vineyards and manicured so beautifully. The Central Valley has become well known for some very good wines. Another beautiful sight was the almond trees in bloom. Orchards could be seen for miles and miles distinguished by their beautiful pink blossom. One noticible decline was the number of bee hives rented and brought in for pollination.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hearst Castle Shortbread Cookies

click on photo enlarge
The Famous Estate of Wm. Randolph Hearst
One of the most popular tourist sites along the California Coast is the Hearst Castle in San Simeon named "La Cuesta Encantada". Translated it means "The Enchanted Survey". Five different tours of the buildings and grounds are available. It is difficult to leave the grounds with admiration for a married man who lived a life without morals. The carved mythological marble statuary in the gardens and pool area has the faces of his many different lovers.
From the cookbook of the kitchen in the castle is a recipe for:
Shortbread Cookies
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter until fluffy and add the confectioners sugar and beat again.
Add the flour mixture in two additions. Add the vanilla paste from the bean or add the vanilla extract. Sir until everything comes together to form a thick dough. Turn out onto a counter top and press into a patty. Wrap with plastic and chill for a half hour. Roll out dough to 1/4 to 1/2" thickness. Cut dough into desired shapes using cookie cutter or a knife and place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 7 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees until bottoms are barely golden.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Raclette Party

Raclette Party

While visiting our children in The Bay Area, our daughter Barbara hosted a Raclette Party with her friends which gives us the opportunity to visit with them also. The first time I had Raclette was in the Swiss Alps. It was served with potatoes and sweet gherkin pickles. Barbara purchased a raclette machine and it is such a fun way to throw a party as everyone chooses and "prepares" what they want to eat.
The cheese used is Raclette and is available in very large stores or speciality cheese shops. Barbara boiled the potatoes, but has made some improvisations. She has added sauteed mushrooms, steamed broccoli, raw grape tomatoes, along with the selection of potatoes and pickles. Each guest is given a plate to choose their choice of vegetables. Each little paddle has a slice of Raclette Cheese which has melted and is then poured over the vegetables. The guest replaces a slice of cheese on the paddle for the next guest. It is a nice way for guests to mingle and socialize while yet eating. Barbara has a small condo but seventeen guests were having a great evening.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay
The rock in Morro Bay is one of our favorite sites along the coastal drive in California. Just to demonstrate its size, click on the photo to enlarge. Just above the sailboat you will see some parked vehicles. That will help to scale the size. A drive out to the rock was constructed which allows people the opportunity to walk around the lee side of the rock. It is one of the amazing sites along the coast. Please read the comment below written by Chuck The Photographer .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Solvang California

The windmill formerly stood in a field at the edge of town. The Danish Bakery The Bagel House Peterson Village Inn
We drove the California Coast last week for a visit with our children. We made a stop at a very quaint town off of Highway 101 at a town named Solvang. The Danish name means "Field of Flowers" The architecture of the town is in keeping with the design of Danish architecture. It was somewhat of a disappointing visit. The windmill of the top photo used to stand in a field at the edge of town which was so picturesque. Today it is in the middle of a housing development. Stores were closed, for sale, or empty. My memory connects with a different economy and time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Getty Villa Museum

The earliest burial vaults were carved of marble. These were probably reserved for the ruling familes or royalty. I thought the theme of a harvest was appropriate as the fruit had matured on the vine and now the vintage was being transformed into another "life" or use.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

J.P. Getty Villa Museum

J.P. Getty Museum
In ancient Rome, people incorporated marble floors to display wealth and affluence. The larger number of varieties was thought to symbolize affluence. The bottom photo is an example of an inlaid marble composed of alternating marble triangles. It is a copy of a floor from the Villa Dei Papiri which was excavated in Herculaneum.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

J.P. Getty Villa Museum

click on photo to enlarge
J.P. Getty Museum

This is one of the many exhibits at the J.P. Getty Museum of carved marble statuary. The lady seated depicts a seated poet, another sculpture possibly the musician Orpheus a mythological hero. You have heard the expression of "chicken legs" or "bird legs" when people think their legs are thin. Take a look close at the feet of the standing women.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The estate of J.P. Getty

The estate of J.P. Getty
The above photo is the home formerly occupied by J.P. Getty and his five sons. When his home became overcrowded with his art collection J.P. began to build the Getty Villa Museum. J.P. never lived in the Villa Museum. He was living in London at the time of the actual construction. J.P. flew the architect and builders to London when a conference of the building was necessary.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

J.P. Getty Villa Museum

click on photos to enlarge
J. P. Getty Villa Museum
Saturday we toured the J.P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Although J.P. never lived in this copy of a Roman Villa, it does house his private art collection.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sunrise in San Diego

Magnolia Bush In Bloom
If you are a believer in the saying, "Red sky in the morning, a sailors warning", you and our weather man are on the same page. Thursday morning the sunrise was absolutely gorgeous. The sky was ablaze with color. I just stood on the patio observing the colors as they changed with the sky becoming illuminated. I knew if I wanted to remember my magnolia bush in bloom with the pending rain a photograph would have to do. We have rain, rain, rain, in our forecast and to us Californians who have water as our most expensive utility, it is liquid GOLD! We love the rain!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beet, Fennel and Jicama Salad With Macadamia Nut Dressing

Beet, Fennel and Jicama Salad with Macadamia Nut Dressing
I found this recipe in one of my favorite magazines, Food & Wine. I have yet to be disappointed with their publication. What fascinated me with this recipe was: the fennel, and the salad dressing which is dairy free and creamy. Serves 4
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
In a food processor, finely grind the macadamias. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until creamy; add more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time to thin out as desired.
2 cups diced peeled jicama
2 cups diced fennel
2 cups diced beets
1 cup chopped Belgian endive
16 cherry tomatoes, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Transfer the dressing to a bowl. Add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A $100.00 Smile

A $100.00 Smile
Today per her request by email, Anna wanted to be on the blog since it is her special day. Happy Birthday Anna.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nordic Salmon

The Seafood Counter At The Supermarket
Nordic Salmon
Salmon harvested from the frigid North Sea is the mildest and sweetest salmon I have tasted. Our daughter prepared the salmon in such a simple way. She coated the skin with salt and baked the salmon on a rack at 350. The length of time depends on the size of salmon. What a TREAT!