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Friday, May 20, 2011

Support Your Local LIbrary

Last Saturday I went to the main library in downtown Los Angeles for the Culinary Historians of Southern California's monthly program.  The CHSC is an affiliate of the library and in addition to the monthly program they also hold dining events, create culinary celebrations, and contribute to the library's extensive culinary collection.  One way they do this is through their annual used cookbook sale which will be held this year on Sunday, August 21 starting at 8am at the Hollywood Farmers' Market.  Another reason for going to the library that day was because I was bringing 4 very large boxes of cookbooks that Cousin Roger was donating for the sale, but before I delivered the books I gave them a look-see and found one in particular with a lot of inspiring recipes (more on this later).

Saturday's program was "Battle Royal: The Baking Powder Wars" brilliantly presented by culinary historian Linda Civitello.  "From 1876-1928, baking powder companies waged a vicious, no-holds-barred war for control of the market".  There was congressional corruption and libelous and/or false claims for and against each combatant's product, with involvement from the FDA and even President Teddy R.  With interesting facts, humor, and historical slides to accompany her talk, Linda made baking powder fascinating, even to my friend Bonnie who would be the first one to tell you that she's all about making reservations and not at all about making baked goods. 

At the start of the program, on a giant screen in the center of the auditorium was an equally giant and beautiful shot of baking powder biscuits/shortcakes piled high with luscious fresh strawberries. I pointed at the screen and vowed to make something resembling that asap.  And as it happens, May is National Strawberry Month, so - hello - what could be more perfect?

Spoils of War Strawberry Shortcakes                                                    
1 cup white wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. cold Earth Balance margarine
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup cold soy creamer
additional soy creamer for brushing

1.Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.                                                                             
2.Mix flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.
3.Cut the margarine into the flour mixture and pinch
together until the mix is crumbly. 
4.Add the creamer, stirring until combined into a nicely
 formed dough. 
5.Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and
gently roll out to 3/4" thick. 

 6.Cut the dough into 8 rounds, plus 1 really big one,                           
then place on the baking sheet, brush the tops with
soy creamer, and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly

So support your local library, because not only do they have an amazing amount of books, movies, documents, reference materials, exhibits, lectures, and programs, but it's FREE and you can order online at and have the item sent to the branch nearest you.  Plus, from time to time you'll be inspired to bake something delicious - winning!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rave Reviews Keep Pouring in for Camp Blogaway 2011

Bidding for Vintage Scout Shirt Starts Soon
 Hello Muddah, hello Foddah,                                   
I've just got back from Camp Blogga,
Camp was really quite amazing,
Smores & seminars & even some stargazing.

Hello Muddah, hello Foddah,
What a great time at Camp Blogga,
From the learning to the eating,
and especially the new friends I was meeting...

But seriously - last weekend I had the best time in a long time at Camp Blogaway, a weekend mountain retreat for food and wine bloggers.   From start to finish this was an outstanding combination of fantastic organization and leadership (thanks Patti Londre), great workshops, delicious food (duh), and super nice, fun people of like minds.

To pay homage to some of the camp sponsors, and with a tip of my sombrero to Cinco de Mayo, I've created this tasty, zesty, colorful, light, and versatile dish, perfect for any meal of the day, in front of a fragrant wood-burning fire in a mountain lodge, or on a sunny deck outside your own backdoor.

Fiesta Frittata with Watermelon & Avocado Salsa


Tip: Replace Tomatoes in Salsa with Watermelon!
 2 California avocados, peeled & cubed                            
3 cups fresh watermelon, cubed                                   
1 shallot, diced
1/3 cup fresh key lime juice
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
at least 4 splashes of hot sauce
S& P
2 1/2 cups peeled & cubed Idaho potatoes
1 16 ox. container liquid egg whites or equivalent
3 green onions, diced (green & white)

Potato Man Reaching for Refreshing Watermelon Mocktail
 1/4 cup fresh
2 Tbsp. olive oil
S & P to taste

For the salsa, in a bowl mix together the avocado, watermelon, shallots, and mint.  Whisk together the hot sauce, fresh lime juice, olive oil, and add S&P to taste.  Pour the dressing in the bowl and toss to combine.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes - enough time for all the different flavors to come together.

For the frittata, first steam or boil the potatoes until tender, then mash and cool them.  Mix the potatoes, eggs, diced onions, and cilantro together, then season with S&P.  Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and heat to medium-high.  Add the frittata mixture to the pan and after the mixture begins to set on the bottom (about 3 minutes or so), put the lid on the pan and continue cooking about 8-10 minutes.  As soon as the frittata is nearly set, place the pan in your broiler at highest heat and brown the top, about 2 minutes.

For more camp info -

Need Key Limes for your favorite Latin recipes and Summer drinks? -