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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sunday Swapping and Sunset Boulevard

Where's the 405?
The biggest challenge we face living in Los Angeles isn't the closure mid-July of part of the 405 freeway in a week or so.  It's the ongoing, always growing, never ending, sometimes confusing, constantly enticing array of things to do, places to go, people to see.  Festivals, farmers' markets, premieres, sporting events, book signings, flea markets, conventions, volunteer opportunities, cultural events unlimited, plays, concerts, gallery openings, meetup groups, which classes to take, restaurants to try, day trips to take, etc., etc., make weekends in L.A. no place for social sissies.

If you do nothing you can feel very guilty, lazy, or at least left out - yikes, could I be a loser?   So you pour over the Times' events calendar, check your online notices, and try your best to pick and choose what's best for you, i.e., still leaving a few dollars in your no-interest earning bank account, and maybe time for reruns of MI-5 and a short nap.  One recent Sunday had so many options I seriously thought about going back under the covers and waiting it out until Monday.  But my two main events actually sounded so good that I changed into some clothes and headed out for new adventures.

Event #1 was my first visit to one of downtown L.A.'s classic movie theaters, to see one of Hollywood's classic movies.  It was the 100th anniversary of the Palace Theatre, with a screening of "Sunset Blvd.", and Gloria Swanson and Bill Holden were better and bigger than ever (remember, it's the pictures that got small)..  Part of the Los Angeles Conservancy's (  25th Last Remaining Seats' series, watching a classic movie on a big screen with a theater full of people was a unique experience.  Glad I went. 

Event #2 was my first food swap, which is the latest craze for crazy people like me who love to craft food and wrap it up real nice.  This swap, one of several now held monthly in various parts of the southland, was in Santa Monica (  About a dozen or so fellow foodies were there with a nice array of home made, hand made, or hand picked goodies up for swap.  I brought little jars of my sweet/sour pickled grapes, a white & milk chocolate bark with dried rainier cherries, pecans, and orange zest, plus macadamia nut brittle with Hawaiian sea salt (recipe below).  Came home with walnut pesto, chimichurri sauce, teriyaki marinade, tomatillo salsa, granola, cake pops, and snicker doodle cookies.  Really glad I went.

Life is a big adventure and all you need is a little planning and the right attitude to fill your's with great experiences.  Discovering new places, revisiting old favorites, seeing your city with all of its opportunities and in all its diversity is a fine way to spend any weekend.  Go out and explore - you'll be glad you went.

Macadamia Nut Brittle with Hawaiian Sea Salt
(adapted from
3/4 stick butter + more to spread on pan
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup clear corn syrup
2 cups macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. Hawaiian sea salt

Lightly butter a baking pan.  Dissolve the baking soda in the vanilla.

In a heavy pot over medium heat mix the sugar, water, 3/4 stick of butter, and corn syrup until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Add a candy thermometer to the pan, increase the heat,  and cook until mixture turns a dark golden brown (like Loving Care #52 before I decided to embrace the gray), stirring from time to time with a wood spoon.

When the thermometer reaches 335 degrees (this could take anywhere from 20-30 minutes or more but stick with it), then remove the pot from the heat and carefully mix in the soda/extract mixture and chopped nuts (mixture is bubbling up now), and immediately pour onto the prepared pan.  Using the wooden spoon quickly spread out the goop so it's a nice, even level.  Let it cool about 5 minutes then sprinkle with the sea salt.

After about an hour at room temperature this buttery, nutty, crunchy, incredible concoction will be ready for devouring. 


  1. Thank you for posting this recipe, Nancy! Now I can make some more, because obviously it only lasted long enough after the SM Swap to take this picture (, before I completely devoured it!

  2. Wow Paulette - thanks so much for posting it forward!

  3. Nancy,
    Your mojo is back!
    Waaahhhhh...why didn't I know about this food swap?

  4. The next swap is in L.A. on 7/23 - - same day as Trufflepalooza!

  5. Wish I was back in LA to pal around with you. I love adventures! Julie

  6. Wish you were here too Julie! But in the meantime I hope you'll keep visiting the blog.

  7. Loved your description of weekend fun events in L.A. The food swap sounds like a lot of fun. Someone was lucky to get your luxurious nut brittle and your yummy pickled grapes!

  8. Faye, it was fun to make and swap cool stuff. Can't wait for the next one. Stay cool!

  9. It's also a terrific way to meet other food lovers!

  10. Good for you, Nancy! There are so many events here in LA... it's a shame I don't experience more as well. That foodieswap is genius and whoever went home with your MacNut Brittle went home HAPPY!

  11. Hi Nancy!! It has been so long and I ;ost your email and number when I switched jobs! What a fabulous idea, I want to get a food swap going locally here in Connecticut. Would love to re-connect with you!