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I have lost a little bit of inspiration the past few weeks. Work, yada yada, you know. I was driving home from work super late the other night and drove past the Eastside Market and Deli in my neighborhood.  I have been told about this place, but never actually sourced it out.  So, today amongst my lack of inspiration and boredom, I took my butt to the gym and then I decided to take my butt to this Italian Deli for a sausage sandwich (a wise choice in order to counteract the gym).  I thought it might help to get the juices flowing…a little sausage, (that sound bad). The deli is situated within walking distance to my house( but of course I drove) in a neighborhood on the border of Echo Park and Chinatown. Now, I have either read or heard that Chinatown use to be Little Italy in LA. I love this kind of stuff! I especially love the history of LA being that it doesn’t really go back that far…therefore it is kind of hard to find. My neighborhood is booming with it, and I have been wanting to explore it.

I wasn’t even sure if it was open when I pulled up.  The deli is in a residential area, so not a lot of traffic, but I walked in and boom…there was a line and tables filled with people.  I felt like I had hit the jackpot! There wasn’t as much of a market as there was lots of bread and meat.  I ordered the sausage with peppers and cheese smeared in tomato sauce on a large deli roll.  This place reminded me of the Italian places on the hill in St. Louis that my dad loves so much! I came home and scarfed it down with tomato sauce all over my hands and face.  It was a refreshing change to the tacos,thai,vegan, raw, and on and on food of LA!

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I only like my scones when they are a bit soft and really flaky! I love Ina Garten’s recipe, which is exactly what I used for these scones. I made chocolate chip scones and cheddar/dill. Yum! I took them to a birthday party at the Hollywood Bowl wrapped in this cute checkered paper I bought at Surfas.  They were a hit! Next I want to try chocolate/ornage scones, adding orange juice and orange zest! Again, this is a great recipe to try your own flavors in your scones!

A view from Marjan Park.

I woke up this morning thinking it has been almost 5 months since my European/Moroccan adventure. Sometimes the trip feels like a dream and sometimes I get sad that it’s over and I want to savor all the memories. Then, I woke up this morning to a nice email from my friend Lisa, whom just recently moved to Moscow via London, and she was encouraging me with my blog and saying how nice it is that we are keeping in touch. We have known each other since 4th grade. Lis and I had not seen each other in a long time and I decided to make an impromptu trip while in Italy to London right after my impromptu trip to Croatia. (so croatia and london were not part of the original plan).  When I got Lisa’s email I was hoping it was her sending me updates on her blog as I love learning about all the crazy Russian culture stories she has and hearing about her, her husband’s, and baby Cayden’s adventures.  I went to her blog anyway and I scrolled upon her trip to Croatia…which in turn prompted me to finish this post I started a few weeks back.  I am not sure if people enjoy reading about my travels…or seeing pictures, which I suppose is why I never posted this post before. I figured most people had enough of it on Facebook.  I decided theming out my travels might be a bit more interesting. But when I was reading Lisa’s blog this morning, I loved reading about the travels and seeing the pictures….so I decided someone out there might be interested in these photos.

 Inside Diocletian’s Palace.  This palace was built for Diocletian’s, a Roman emperor, retirement in 305 AD. This place is old( just to let you know). It is now filled with shops and restaurants…even dentists (as we had to make a quick trip to one…long story).

A square filled with restaurants and a beautiful view. The fish market was just around the corner, you can imagine the quality of the seafood here…and the smell for that matter.

The little apartment where we stayed.  Super charming right in the middle of where the locals live. Lots of time spent on that porch drinking Nescafe and listening to the neighbors play American pop music.

Neighborhood shots.

We really wanted to find the best local food.  There was a place that was recommended to us and was also in the guidebooks.  Trying to find things in the palace walls was really difficult and google maps was not much help and expensive to use.  We were looking for this place for like 30 minutes, and we finally think we found it. Still not sure if this was the right place, but it was one of my favorite experiences in Split.  We walked in and the lady didn’t really speak any English.  My friend went to the bathroom and she pulled me come into the kitchen to show me what was for lunch, lifting up pots and pans, pointing. The place was filled with locals and pretty much off the beaten path so, I can only imagine she was wondering what the hell two Americans were doing here. It was truly homemade and super delicious!

More Croatian food.

For my birthday we rented a car and took the ferry over to the island of Brac. We drove to a small town called Bol, which is usually booming with tourists. However, we were there on the off season.  There was only one hotel open and just a few restaurants.  We had the famous beach, Zlatni Rat, pretty much all to ourselves for a beautiful sunset and some sunbathing time in the morning!

Train ride to Zagreb.

We went back to Split for the evening and decide to go to Zagreb a day early. We took the little engine that could for about 8 hours.  The whole train would shake about every 10 minutes and they served nescafe in plastic dixie cups. I wanted to throw up for about the first 2 hours, but then I got use to it. The scenery and countryside was breathtaking.  We both put on our headphones and zoned out.  We would pull through all these tiny towns and the local train guy would stand outside as we passed, which I got a big kick out of. So, many buildings along the way were run down or abandoned.  We went through one little town and the name at the station said, Kosovo. I immediately thought we were in THE Kosovo. On the map it looks like you would cut through Bosnia to get to Zagreb, for about an hour I really thought we had just been through the actual Kosovo. I turned on my 3g and probably spent $20 trying to figure out that we weren’t, I was a bit disappointed…and felt a little bit like a stupid American.

We arrived in Zagreb and immediately loved it.  It was the perfect, tiny, metropolitan city…for about a 2 days.  Charming, sunny, and easily walkable.  The city kind of felt like a storybook with its colors and buildings. They love their outdoor cafe’s here and the city is filled with them and people drinking.  I rediscovered hipstamtic for the iPhone here….about 3 countries too late.

This last picture was at the Zagreb Botanical Gardens.  After Mitch left for Budapest I walked around the city by myself.  From here it was off to london…which I will post about next week in honor of Lisa and my friend Kristin whom is headed there on Monday.

Phew, that was a long post.  I have such wanderlust…if I could get paid to travel and travel forever I would…I just have to get over the not loving to fly issue!

 This inspiration came from a Jamie Oliver recipe called Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup. This is the second time I have made this “soup” and by accident it turned out something like bread pudding, the first time on accident, the second on purpose. My version of it is called Savory Bread Pudding with Turkey Sausage and Collard Greens. Not to tute my own horn, but it is pretty good!

I basically took his ingredients and the basic steps but didn’t really measure anything (this seems to be a common theme in my cooking and its really exciting when I don’t f*ck it up, sometimes I am lazy, I mean adventurous!) I will measure it out for you below, but you can pretty much just throw it all together. Here is my recipe:

1 package of hot italian turkey sausage (or sweet italian)

1 bunch of collard greens

4-6 pieces of sourdough bread

3-4 tbsp of pancetta

2 tsp of anchovy paste

guzzle of olive oil

1 qt plus 2 cups of chicken stock (plus more if you prefer it to be more soupy!)

3 sprigs of rosemary

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup of fontina shredded

1/2 cup of pecorino or parmesan shredded

salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the chicken stock and then add the cleaned and chopped collard greens. Cook until bright green and slightly tender. Take out and set aside. Keep the chicken stock aside as well.

2. Saute the pancetta and anchovy paste in a large skillet with olive oil. When the pancetta begins to sizzle add the turkey sausage. I squeezed the sausage out of the casings so it was crumbly. You can cook it before and cut it up and throw it in in chunks as well. Once the sausage has cooked, add the collard greens and rosemary (chop the rosemary)

3. While the sausage is cooking, grill or toast the bread.  Cut your garlic in half and wipe the piece of garlic on the bread. The garlic will almost melt like butter onto the bread and give it great flavor!

4. Arrange the bread in a glass baking dish ( 9×12). Pour the collard green and sausage mixture over the bread. You can keep adding layers if you would like, but this will require you to double your ingredients, unless you use a smaller pan.  I just did one layer and found that to be satisfying. Next, pour in your chicken stock covering everything. If you would like the dish to be more soupy, be sure you can see lots of stock in the dish, the bread will soak it all up quickly. Next, grate the two cheeses over the whole dish. Drizzle wit olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I did a few things different the first and second time.  The first time I did sweet italian sausage, and the second hot italian. The hot italian had fennel in it which was a very strong flavor, not good or bad, just strong. I also did a different kind of sourdough, pancetta, I used fontina in the first one and raclette in the second ( I preferred the fontina). I also used my own homemade chicken stock in the first one mixed with a box chicken stock. THe homemade stock made a nice taste, but its not necessary.

It does have an interesting texture, like bread pudding. If you double the stock it will be much more soup like. I kind of like the bread pudding texture.  Also, in Jamie Oliver’s recipe, he added a butter/sage sauce on top at the end. This is not necessary, but a nice decadent touch!

After I bought that ginger syrup a few weeks back I decided I could so easily make my own! I went nuts and made three different kinds. It is so easy to do this and is so much more fun! You can use it to make cocktails, a soda, or maybe add on top of ice cream.

I made three different kinds of syrup: ginger, strawberry lemon, and rhubarb! First thing was I found the bottle I wanted to use. You can use jars if you like. I got these at the container store. What I really wanted was the amber bottles, but that will have to wait until next time!

For the ginger, I bought three packages of the prepackaged ginger from Trader Joe’s. So, that was 6 small pieces of ginger total.

 Chop it up! I cut mine in big chunks and then threw it in the food processor.

Place the ginger in a saucepan with 2 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water. You can find other recipes online, but this is what I did.  Cook the sauce until it becomes slightly thick, or syrup consistency over med to low heat.  This will take about 30 minutes. Strain the ginger from the syrup. Using a small funnel, funnel the syrup into your bottle.

6 pieces of fresh ginger chopped

2 cups of sugar

4 cups of water

For the strawberry lemon syrup, it is the same process using different ingredients and a different measurement of sugar and water as I was using less fruit. I used a whole pack of strawberries and 3 lemons.

2 cups of fresh strawberries chopped

3 lemon peels cut into matchsticks

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of water

As well, as the rhubarb, using 2 stalks of rhubarb.

2 stalks of rhubarb

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of water

You can figure out your ratio of sugar and water depending on how much fruit you are using.   One recipe I have used before is Laura Calder’s for a lemon syrup. She uses 2 cups of sugar per 2 cups of water.

Refrigerate after the syrups have cooled. It should keep in fridge for two weeks or maybe a bit longer.

To make a pop just add syrup to ice and club soda. To have more fun add whiskey or vodka…and maybe an orange peel if you are feeling fancy.

I made cute little tags from really really thin wood. Great gifts and cute DIY!! Next, I want to try lemon/lime syrup!

I wasn’t going to post today, mostly because I don’t have a before and after interior post ( as I am still working on some),I couldn’t find any inspiration for another post, and because it’s just one of those days where if I could manage the guilt, I would sit in front of the tv all afternoon. Watching Barefoot Contessa, French Food at Home, and my new favorite Pioneer Woman. My new found love for cooking shows has brought me back to the days in high school when I would come home from school sit in my dad’s big leather recliner, pour myself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles or pasta with parmesan cheese, and watch Great Chefs.  I LOVED this show. My dad always watched cooking shows like Frugal Gourmet and this one, he was my influence.  There would be back to back episodes on and I was always wishing for more as I had already watched enough episodes of Full House and Saved by the Bell in junior high.  I find it kind of funny now, that I use to love this show so much. I wonder what my friends would have done if I made them come over and watch it with me? I think it was like my own private indulgence. I kind of wish I would have known that 16 years later I would love cooking so much and not love fashion so much anymore. I guess Fashion File made the fashion industry so much more glamourous than being a chef. Damn!!!

The shows are simple, documenting real chefs all over the world, all with a woman narrating with the most soothing voice.  Each episode would host 3 different chefs each one making a different course (appetizer, main course, dessert).  I was searching this show a few months ago and about fell one when I saw how much they cost ( if anyone is looking for christmas ideas…or a kitchen aid mixer…hint hint).  Today, I found some clips of the show.  Now they are clearly outdated…part of the fun!

I have always had this fascination and obsession with my father’s mother, the one we call Mormie.  I never met her, she passed away a year or two before I was born.  But for some reason I have always LOVED pictures of her. I have always felt connected to her, like I knew her. Maybe its the resemblance I see between her, my sisters, and my dad. Maybe its the stories about her sense of humor and ease. Maybe its her sense of fashion. I thought it would be cool to share these photos. These are circa 1940’s.

Mormie (grandma Joan) in her late teens, early 20’s I believe.

I see so much of my sister Jennifer in this photo.

Wedding day! A big mix of italians, irish, english, french canadian, and some sioux, amongst other things I believe.

Mormie with all her babies. Aunt Karen standing next to her, Aunt Patrice (urzie) is the little lady in the front, Uncle Mike in the middle, and my pops on the far right (what a cutie!)

Tie dyeing can become addictive. Here is a simple process to make tie dye napkins for yourself or as a gift.  You will need:

100% cotton napkins ( I used the Target brand, 12 pack)

RIT dye in choice of colors

rubber bands

pot or washing machine

tongs for handling

gloves

covered surface

salt

Start boiling your water.  There are several ways you can prep this. You can wash the napkins, however I did not because they were brand new. If you have used them before then yes, wash them to get rid of any stains or grease.  You can also soak the items you will dye in an ash solution.

Take your napkin and start picking spots to wrap rubber bands around. Where the rubber band goes is where the design will take shape.  The dye is not as easily transferred in these spots.  I usually started in the middle of the napkin, making patterns from there. Next you will add the dye to your pot ( you can do the washing machine, but I prefer not to, just follow instructions on the box). You can also add salt to the dye to make it more pungent. Now, add your napkins. You can do an ombre dye by slowly adding in certain spots of the napping (like the corners or middle) leaving the rest white or a different color or just drop it in for one color. You can also use a squeeze bottle, filling it with dye and squirting it where you like on the napkin.

Take the napkins out of pan and rinse thoroughly under cold water. (Also, the longer you leave the napkins in the dye the darker it will get).

Let the napkins dry ( I did overnight).

I decided to take the dyeing further once the first batch had dried. I thought I wanted a single color on both. This time I rolled the napkin up and tied rubber bands in a row. This looked something like zig zag stripes.

I also tried some ombre on a few.

After they have dried.  Take off rubber bands and wash the napkins.  And  thats it!