Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kerry

My niece, Kerry, is celebrating her birthday today. Instead of my traditional cupcake I have sent her tulips. It is getting to be close to Easter. I wonder how many times Kerry's birthday has fallen on Easter Sunday. It is random but of course does happen. Kerry lives in Denver near her Mom and brother and his family and near my daughter's family too. She went to college in Boulder...a beautiful place to be. When she was little and visiting my house she finished her dinner by saying that she was ready for dessert. I said, "but Kerry, you have not eaten your dinner." To that she replied, " I am satisfied from my dinner." When challenged again she answered, "but Aunt Denny I am not satisfied with my dessert...so I need my dessert." This is a phrase I do use from time to time when I really just want to skip right to dessert. Thank you, Kerry, for your childhood wisdom I hope you have a very happy birthday!

Friday, March 26, 2010

La Jolla

IMG_0227, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Yesterday I went to La Jolla for a book signing by Frances Mayes, author of "Under the Tuscan Sun" and just released: "Every day in Tuscany". I have read the first of her books about her home in Italy but this trip and this book will serve as the prelude to my trip to Orvieto in May. It was a beautiful day and the drive down to San Diego is always stunning this time of year so I headed out early to enjoy my drive and to get there early without the stress of traffic. After settling in I headed down to the beach which you all know by now as my favorite place to be. As I walked along the shoreline on the road above I spotted California brown pelicans flying in formation and then landing on a local rock, not too far from where I was. I love these birds, love to watch them fly along the coast and was absolutely tickled that I had brought my camera with me.

Pelicans on the rock

IMG_0239, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I spotted a group of them perched on a rock. Many used it as a landing rock and then took off again. These guys are gorgeous! Remember my first post? Pelicans.

Sea lion pup

IMG_0244, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

About 50 feet farther south was a refuge harbor for sea lions. About 200 call this harbor home. It is birthing season and this little guy is less than a month old. See how his coat is fur like rather than the more mature Mom near the water? This was such a great surprise to be so close to these little guys. It just goes to show you should take your camera with you>

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crab cakes, watercolor recipe

Crab cakes, watercolor, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

OK so sometimes I like to write down my recipes with pictures. I am still enjoying my yummy crab cakes from Sunday and wanted to make a recording of my experience....that is what journaling is about. I keep a sketch/watercolor journal and as I look through it later the day that I captured this way I can remember vividly.
I also love the beauty of ingredients in the kitchen so here is a new version of crab cakes.....no calories with this serving
Bon appetit!

Crab cakes anyone?

IMG_0223, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Who doesn't love crab cakes? A couple of posts ago I mentioned that nasturtium leaves make perfect little serving platters for crab cakes. When I lived in Corona del Mar the leaves were much bigger on my nasturtiums and even larger on those that grew wild on the bluffs at the beach. But even my smaller leaves like I get from my pot contained nasturtiums will do just fine. Most cooks have their own reliable recipe for crab cakes. I like mine with a few veggies added and a nice mayonnaise. Emeril Lagasse has a great recipe that I tweaked a bit but the mayonnaise is worth posting first hand. Always use the best hand picked lump crab you can find, I like using the Panko Japanese bread crumbs for more crunch and everything else FRESH. Emeril's "Essence" Creole seasoning is great to have on hand but any sort of pepper (cayenne or ancho) plus paprika will do as well. So here goes:
1 egg
juice of one Meyer lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp Chipotle or favorite hot sauce

In a small food processor with a metal blade, process the egg and lemon juice for 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil. The mixture will be thick after all of the oil has been incorporated. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce, process the mixture to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Use for binder for crab cakes and as sauce for serving.

Serve hot crab cakes over nasturtium leaves and garnish with sauce and nasturtium flowers. The flowers are spicy, the leaves are mild but all are edible.

Add a nice cold white wine or Margarita and life is about to get better.

Bon Appetit!

footnote: homemade mayonnaise is fabulous! The ratio of 1 egg, juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 cup oil is essential. Feel creative and add any flavorings at all. Flavored mayo is fantastic when used on a sandwich and will add depth of flavor. Using olive oil will contribute good (unsaturated) fat as opposed to bad (saturated) fat most often found in commercial mayo.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kate is 3!!!!

Kate, 3, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Our little Kate has been waiting so long to turn 3. The world is so different when you are 3....so many more possiblities. Last weekend I joined Kate and her family to celebrate in Denver. It was warm and sunny on Saturday.....a perfect setting for a bounce house party in the back yard. Kate enjoyed the whole day!!!

Dora cake

Dora cake, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

What better way to turn 3 than with Dora and her friends on a cake of blue fondant?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hummingbird in my garden

IMG_0215, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I am out in the Zen garden today pulling the young spring weeds that the rains brought. It is 80deg at this very moment and this little fellow is supervising my work. He is perched on a wisteria branch with many future buds. Thank goodness my nifty new camera was close by.

Ruby throated male

IMG_0214, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The light catches his feathers just right to see his beautiful red throat feathers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Shit Howdy!

Shit Howdy!, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

watercolor in blacks and silver
In the late 80s Western was in. All of us had a pair or two of cowboy boots. My favorite ski hat was a black cowboy hat and the piece de resistance: a bolo tie ( this just happens to be black onyx). Either piece alone or in combination just happens to give you a little attitude as well. I am planning to revitalize a little cowgirl attitude when I move to Denver. It is the West after all. Maybe a little 2-step, a little plaid shirt wearing and a little "Shit Howdy!" Maybe not the dancing on coffee tables. I hope those days are gone.

Friday, March 5, 2010

March in my little garden!

IMG_0171, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

After a tough week of work I woke up this morning eager to start a new day! Sophie and I left early (6:30) for our walk. It was sunny and cold but the day promised to be good.....I could just tell.
When we returned home I went through the ritual of walking through the garden to see how it survived the week.
Surprise! The wisteria has already started to bloom. I literally squealed with delight and told Sophie how happy these little flowers made me. Then I continued:

peach blossoms

IMG_0175, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The very first peach blossom appeared on the tree last week. These pink blossoms are a promise for delicious summer fruit

First leaves after heavy pruning and transplanting

IMG_0176, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I am tickled to death to see that my favorite roses have survived the shock of transplanting 2 months ago. Let's hope they will transport and thrive in Denver if I ever get there.

Lettuce sprouts

IMG_0181, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Two week old lettuce sprouts have already started to show their own colors. See the red leaf emerging from the others?

Orange and strawberry blossoms

IMG_0182, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The blossoms on the orange tree are starting and sun seeking strawberries are beginning to form

French lavender

IMG_0186, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The lavender blossoms are a popular stop for the hummingbirds

nasturtium in the garden

IMG_0187, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

A brilliant orange nasturtium peeks out from its leaves. By the way these leaves are excellent serving platters for crab cakes.

sweet pea & poppy sprouts

IMG_0189, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

...and even the sweet peas are on their way to bloom

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Orvieto wine, Yipee!

Ah yes, there is an Orvieto wine. I found this bottle of wine at Whole Foods last week and couldn't resist. It was a mild table wine but quite tasty. It was a good complement to the salmon pasta I had for dinner. Little things like this help me get excited for my trip in May.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Italy in May

I am so excited to say that I am going to Italy in May to join a sketching and watercolor week long class in Orvieto, Umbria with my teacher and friend Jane LaFazio. I am brushing up on some Italian (from my iPhone app) and studying with prep list from the Adventures in Italy tour company who organized this awesome trip. We artists and artists in training will be staying in a converted convent that just happens to be next to a vineyard up on this hilltop city that dates back hundreds of years. The trip is full enough for definitive planning but if anyone would like to join me I would love for you to come along.