Who says I don’t cook?

mark peel and daphne brogdon cook

we had fun and worked off each other well

A few weeks back Mark and I were guest on Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”.  It’s a great domestic oriented morning show.  No trash stories, helpful and fun.  Wish it was on my cable carrier.  Anyway,  We did a Chicken Thigh Throwdown. Everyone thinks Mark is nightly making me great meals. My standard line was, “sure, if I went into his restaurant.” But, at home I do most of the cooking and since we don’t have any restaurants anymore and my work has been…meek.. the last couple of years I’ve been cooking more than ever.

Mark getting his mic...I hope

Mark getting his mic…I hope

IMG_0165

 The idea was Mark would do the “restaurant” or fancy version of chicken thighs and I would do the easy, your family will eat version.

mark peel and daphne brogdon cookAs someone who made her living for years as a TV host I really appreciate a good host.  Christina Ferrare and Mark Steines are great and improvising and brought out the best in us.  It was the first time Mark and I have cooked together out of our home and it was a lot of fun.  In case you want to try either dish, here are the recipes.  Enjoy. http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/homeandfamily/recipe/markpeeldaphnebrogdonchickenthighthrowdown

…and I played the wife

Mark was asked to be on a chef competition show.  He was a bit wary as Top Chef Masters was NOT his favorite experience, but his manager ( me) said he should do it.  It’s “Knifefight” on Esquire channel. Use to be G4 channel and before that I am sure it was two other channels before that.  He had been a judge on an episode on the last season with Exec. Producer Drew Barrymore next to him and had a good time.  (“She took my card!” Um she is never going to call you dude.  She didn’t)

Mark clapping behind his new BFF

Mark clapping behind his new BFF

“Knife Fight” is more irreverent than Top Chef with it’s super serious, jib shots of chefs waiting to be judged with the dum, dum, dum music and the “Go pack your knifes” blow off.  It’s demoralizing.

this sucks

this sucks

The producer of “Knife Fight” asked who Mark wanted to compete against and we both said, “Sal Marino”.  He is our friend and a great chef, unsung really.  Owns Il Grano. They would have fun.  It’s shot at Gorbals where the chef/owner/ Ilan Hall is the host.  He is a nice guy.  Also, it’s a shorter shoot than Top Chef which drags on and on with them plying the chefs with cheap booze in the hopes of some “Big Brother” meltdown and for no pay.  All unscripted exploits the hell out of people in general.

So, I trucked down to watch the shoot and then ended up being part of it.  That is if they show my back shucking peas.  It was fun to see both Sal and Mark cook.  They had one hour to cook with the surprise ingredients.  Great to see them both in action.  I can’t say what they made ( or Drew Barrymore will come and beat me)  and I didn’t get it to eat it, but it looked fab.

Maja, Sal’s wife, was also there.  She is my friend so it was a fun outing.

...they all laughed, except for Josiah in this picture

…they all laughed, except for Josiah in this picture

The chefs had known each other before, but we all became good friends when our daughters were going to pre school and they became friends.

With a judge on the show Chef Josiah Citrin who helms the BEST French restaurant in LA, Melisse

With a judge on the show Chef Josiah Citrin who helms the BEST French restaurant in LA, Melisse

As the shooting went on they were placing Maja and I for reaction shots.  So when it finally airs, think May, you might see my “wife” visage.  In the meantime, it inspired Mark and Sal to finally cook together for real.  This weekend and next Mark is going to jam with him at Sal’s restaurant.  A special menu they collaborated on.  It’s going to be good.   I will play the wife and eater. MORE INFO HERE

Skipping the Super Bowl

Couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl.  I don’t think I’ve watched since the Janet Jackson episode.  That one I was at gathering in San Francisco and I was so irked with the placid, fleece wearing group of watchers.  They lacked dynamism and reinforced my decision to move back to LA where the quality of life can be harder, but people have more pep.flag football

Instead of rooting for big corporations to injure young men’s bodies I’m hosting a seminar on Sparkling wines with two other moms from Vivien’s school as a fundraising event. A sommelier wine friend of mine is educating us while we get soused.   We didn’t mean to do counter programming, but after checking for religious holidays, national holidays who knew we had to worry about football?  Two ladies dropped out and I was left to think… why?

Isn’t it kind of a feminist issue the amount of time, money, energy that is put into propping up sports which offer NO advancement to women?  One dad chided one of my co host for holding an event on Super Bowl night. We have to watch all your action movies on date nights and feign interest in football?  Would he reschedule his beer night for figure skating finals?  What message do we as moms send to our daughter’s if we follow along the hubby to watch his game of men?  Shouldn’t we be going to a Take Back the Night rally?  Or in my case, Take back the wine lounge.

I’ve gotten into the particulars of a game when I was being paid to understand football for a show I hosted.  But, otherwise the enjoyment of Super Bowl parties is lost on me.  Let’s sit around, drinking beer and eating mediocre food, no one looks good, not much conversation is going on and watch a TV.  If I liked football I’d watch from home.  Of course some women on their own enjoy the game.  But, plenty don’t and feel they need to cozy up to their dude.  I’d the like the time back I spent sitting next to some dude I thought was Mr. Right on his couch eating pizza and acting like I gave a shit.

If you don’t like Football don’t pretend.  The Football Industrial Complex doesn’t need you.  Thoughtful feminist who think for themselves and raise girls to not fixate on men’s needs do need you.

 

Gone Wrapping!

Other than popping ibuprofen for cramps this week is all about wrapping and cooking.

Wrapping because the kids are out of school shortly and then wrappings gets complicated.  I’m running out of of space above 6 feet high that I can hide stuff.

Cooking because I got one of those organic produce deliveries and I know from past experience that if you don’t use the farm fresh wonders fast I will have a moldering box of vegetable matter.

“What is it?”

“um, think it WAS a radish.”

So, last night I chopped up the kale, mixed with olive oil and kosher salt and popped in the oven at 300 for about 12 minutes.  It’s a tasty snack, but you must be alone to eat it as they 1) crumble and 2) get caught in your teeth.  So I looked like a hillybilly when I was done.

While they were cooking I chopped up the mountain of red chard that had arrived. Must attack the chard.  First the stem. cutting chard Then saute with onions, garlic, olive oil.making chard

After about, hmm, 10 minutes.. time stood still has checked on my kale, then I add the pieces of chard leaf.  First I thought there is no way I’m getting all of it in this pot, but gradually it worked.  Which is another reason  I must tackle these produce boxes quickly, my fridge CANNOT hold them.  I’d have to swap out something that is really needed around here in order to make room like, milk or that jar of pickles we’ve had for 2 years.

It was done and it was fine.  But, maybe it’s the Christmas spirit, but I thought, this needs CREAM.  basic sauceSo I made a quick sauce, flour, butter and a cup of half and half. Whisk.  I calculated the calories and was briefly appalled… but then I thought, hey I’m only going to eat of fistful of this dish, not the whole pan.

creamy chard

it cooked down a bit after this point

transferred the chard into the creamy sauce, cook a bit with a few pinches of nutmeg.

I ate a bit and had tons left over for the larder as well as my soy sauce, maple syrup chicken thighs the kids had raved about at dinner time.chicken and chard

With it’s green and red look I’m going to make it for Christmas dinner, but I think I will add a little more of something.. thinking smoked paprika or chile powder.

Next I started to cut up the squash to roast, then realized the kids were nodding off  So, I stopped to wrap!

I love this Christmas stuff

My nose is running, I’m tired and have skin so dry I could plant corn in the cracks, but I do love this time of year.  It’s all because of my 4 and 8 year old.  christmas kidThis precious time where they

1) Still want to hang out with me

2) Still believe in Santa Claus

3) are open and excited and haven’t become cynical jaded f*cks.

That time will come, but till then I’m loving it.  I love sharing them with my mom

kids, Aunt Cec, mom, niece Lily

kids, Aunt Cec, mom, niece Lily

best gingerbread house

The four at home in front. maybe I should have asked for a little guy just off the plate to represent Oliver in college

and going to holiday teas, church Christmas boutiques, (my splurge here from the Solvang Bakery) Last year my splurge was piano playing miniature teddy bear. What can I say I’m weak for Christmas kitsch.

Mom, are you sure we can't eat it?

Mom, are you sure we can’t eat it?

personalized gingerbread house

Making hot chocolate, buying our tree.  They insisted on flocked this year. decorating a flocked treechildren decorating christmas trees I have bought ONE gift so far and need to do my budget of what is possible, but in the last few years I’ve just come to accept that anxiety at what I’m putting on the credit card is as much a part of Christmas time as hot apple cider.  Oh, by the way Christmas bazaars, this year no one has had hot apple cider.  What gives?  I’m calling Fox News.

Christmas time goes so fast that one really has to have everything staged and ready to go.  I’m pretty good, but still trying to dig out my Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra holiday CD’s. Good I have spotify, but I have to skip a lot these modern ballads.. blech.

children's christmas

Thanks for the Mick Jagger pose Rex

One reason I have been looking forward to Christmas is so that Vivien can finally wear this exquisite dress that Mark’s cousin Vicki made for her.  She visited us earlier this year and we went fabric shopping. She went back to Oregon and then sent us this picture perfect dress.  Red velvet, green silk sash, ruching on the shoulders. homemade christmas dress A one of kind.  Years from now when Vivien is off clubbing or running her medical practice I will be clutching this dress, shooing  my cats away from its beauty.

kids and santaDear Santa, let this sweetness last as long as possible.teddy bear tea

 

crispy garbanzo bean snack

If you are like me you love throwing crispy, little greasy things in your mouth.

What shall I snack on today?

But, what if you’ve grown out of potato chips, pork rinds and want to wow your college educated friends?  I look to garbanzo beans.

They  are not great for carb counting, but they have fiber and protein.

Fry the bacon for son’s breakfast

Leave the bacon grease in the pan.  Take the garbanzo beans that you drained from the can.  Ideally, they have been left to dry out over night in the fridge.  Mix them in the bacon grease.

Yes, add some rosemary. In my case stolen from my neighbors yard.

Now that his bacon is consumed, Rex wants to help. We sprinkle kosher salt on the beans, grease and rosemary.

put in pan and bake for 20 min at 400 degrees.  Longer if they didn’t drain overnight.  But, watch them.  I can get cocky, leave them and they are charred nuggets.  

The kid loves them too!

Well, yes, my husband was in the NY Times

the man loves his pressure cooker

I’m back!   I just got back from a great road trip with my kids. Seriously.  I was so unplugged that I wasn’t even able to crow about my the big feature on my dear husband in the Sunday NY Times.  Yes, I was mentioned which was pretty cool as well.

The interview for this story was months ago and it morphed from an online story to being in a the regular paper copy.  They hinged on Mark’s body being beat up after years of cooking.  I don’t love this angle.  I think it’s sort of silly since I know plenty of people his age who had desk jobs are round as a circle and have had knee or hip replacements.  If they really want to gauge what jobs affect people’s bodies they would need to control for family history, diet, etc.  They also got a few things wrong in the article, Rex is 4, but at his age he probably doesn’t mind the bump.

I love that the NY Times wrote about my husband.  He has worked very hard for years and has a lot of accomplishments and glad for them to be recognized.  Along with his sore back.

The no plan protein

The  game I have with myself right now is protein roulette.  I buy the protein I’m going to cook and then challenge myself to use whatever is on hand.  The purpose is twofold:  to make me a more creative cook, and 2) get rid of that stuff that’s been sitting on my shelves for too long.

Rex is basically a vegetarian, but he does like chicken legs.  I’ve made then 20 different ways.  I went out on a limb and did thighs this night.  I did two different versions.  This one worked out the best.

Homemade ceasar dressing from a few days previous, chopped onions ( half chopped, sitting in plastic wrap) chicken broth and hot pepper jelly.   It turned out great. The crispy skin was a hit. Marinated over night and cooked long and low in the oven.

I made another wing it batch with broth, onions, paprika, cumin, but it cooked a tad too long and wasn’t as fun. The skin was still popular though.

I know, it might not look fab, but it’s pretty tasty.  Hey, you don’t have to be a chef to make food. Since I do more of the cooking than my home chef I have figured this out. So many people eat food out of a box or a freezer.  Don’t be afraid to cook.

A tribute: to a stranger who helped raise me

Harry Lewis died last week and I want to note it.  He created a successful string of restaurants called Hamburger Hamlet in Los Angeles. I wrote about the closing of the final Hamlet a while back.  I wanted to note his passing because without knowing it he helped raise me.  

Growing up in LA Hamburger Hamlet, or “Hamlets”, as we called them for short, loomed large. They were a great medium restaurant.  Not fast food, but not fancy.  You could dress casual, or a great to place to go after you’d been to a movie.  I am a child of the ’70′s.  The political aware, ERA T-shirt wearing kids, mom wearing Dr Scholls with her long straight hair, dad with side burns with big lapels. When I was 8 my mom started her business.  An alternative school.   She was busy and my dad was not Mr. Co-parent.  Domestic duties still fell on to my mother totally.

It was around this time that my mom announced she was not cooking anymore. Once in a while?  No, Thanksgiving was pretty much it.  She meant it. She had her own health food, but if I didn’t want salt less turkey soup,( and who does?) lentils, rice cakes  we were on our own.   My sisters and I would cobble something together.  Our go toos: Fettucine Alfredo, fried Chicken, quiche makes me wonder why we weren’t obese.  
The other way I ate was when my sister Carole got her drivers license my mom would hand her $20 and say “Take Daphne to the Hamlet”.  We would sit in the red vinyl booths on National Blvd, or Westwood or for the fancy Hamlet on Sunset Blvd where it was usual to see Dean Martin at the bar. There were many things we loved on the menu:  the French Onion soup, “Those Potatoes” , which was hash browns with sour cream ( what’s NOT to like about that!).  But, the dish that really took root in my heart, mind and soul was the #11 hamburger.  This burger had crisp bacon, and Russian dressing.  The ratio of meat to bread, to yummy extras was all perfect.  

Harry Lewis started out as an actor.

young Harry Lewis with Claire Trevor in "Key Largo". "Let me go, Claire, I got a burger to make!"

He had a vision of an upscale hamburger place that was still easy, accesible. He and his wife Marilyn sold the collection of restaurants in the ’80′s for $30 million and it was never the same.

Cut to 2000, I was guest on a show in SF and waiting in the green room with me was Marilyn and her son, who was running their remaining restaurant.  She was delightful and gave me her memoir which I read dreaming of a #11.  It had great stories like Sammy Davis Jr. and Jeff Chandler filling in for the Lewis’s so they could elope.

My other mother

Years later I’m very pregnant with Vivien and my doctor was in Westwood near Hamlet Gardens.  One of the few places they still ran.  You know how as the pregnancy wears on the doctors visits become more frequent.  Mark often came with me.  Since I was pregnant I was alway hungry.  Mark knew not to come between a snarling pregnant woman and her appetite so he always let me pick.  More often than not I’d say “Hamlet Gardens”.  Was it as good as the old Hamlet, no.  Partly because it seemed more fancy, ladies who lunch.  Even though I was a lady lunching I longed for the straight ahead wonder that was red vinyl and perfectly proportioned cooked meat.  Nevertheless, during this pregnancy I had little interest in spice, veggies, off beat.  I wanted WHAT I KNEW and hearty.

The Hamlet Garden’s had a hamburger, but not the #11.  I would ask the waiter if they could make it.  They would say, “Let me check.  Sometimes some of the old timers are in the kitchen and they can make it for you.”  One day I noticed that Harry Lewis was there.

he was older than this, but same twinkle in the eye

He was still a handsome man, lined, grey, but distinguished and well dressed.  He was looking over the dining room still very interested in the running of his business and that people were being taken care of.  We caught eyes and smiled.  He said,

“Did I hear you ask for a #11?” said the man who helped raise me, but I had never met. Did I!   So I gushed about how I grew up in the Hamlet’s  and how much I loved them and my baby ( gesturing to large belly) NEEDED a #11 to insure her strength and vitality.  Well, Mr. Lewis was charmed and charming and I GOT MY #11.  I got quite a few during my last trimester.  When he walked away from our table I sat back relieved.  ”Mark, our baby is going to be ok.”

“Of course she is” Mark said.

“No, now she has been blessed.”  Because in my agnostic, alternative, always searching for our next meal upbringing the creator of the Hamlet was  the equivalent of a patron saint and he had just laid on hands.( so to speak)

It worked. Look at Vivien! She was a big, healthy baby.

built by love and #11's

I know what it is like to be the loyal customer who misses their favorite restaurant and to be part of the favorite restaurant who closes and misses its loyal customers.  It is a strangely superficial, yet enduring relationship.

My gratitude to Harry and Marilyn Lewis and their restaurants.  Without them I might have starved.

 

 

 

Hausfrau!

I always feel like I need to be doing when my kids are in school.  Advancing work stuff, or exercising.  Writing.

Not today.  I’m embracing my inner hausfrau.  I’m working on cripsy kale.  Some with red pepper spice for me, some without for me kids.  While I watch the Season Finale of Dallas. I went through 45 minutes of self loathing while I formulated this plan.  Then decided to go for it.

Here is what I have learned in the last 90 minutes.

1) who killed JR

2) TNT has really annoying repititve commericals when you watch their shows on their site.

3) pre cut kale doesn’t work well for kale chips because the stems are too pronounced.  Better to buy whole, tear.  Thus even though it’s a pain to dry greens, better not to get the pre washed type.

cut kale not as good

4) the salt ratio is best attained on kale when I mix the salt and kale and olive oil in a bowl as opposed to sprinkling on the pan

5) I have a little cougar crush on Josh Henderson

from perezhilton.com

6) with Kale, more oil is helpful

Let’s be honest.  In about 2 hours I pick up my kids, start on the homework, after school enrichment wheel.  It’s okay to test a recipe and watch one of my favorite shows.  Even if I have to write a blog to justify it.