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

happy anniversary Bernie!

Today is the 5th year anniversary of Bernie Madoff’s arrest.  And they said it wouldn’t last!

CNBC called me a few days ago and asked me if I would go on camera and talk about how I am coping as a Madoff victim.  The producer said she had just spoken to someone who said “they had moved on.”  Some people she said “are relunctant to talk about something so painful.”

good gravy, those people look miserable

good gravy, those people look miserable

Me: “That’s cool, I’ll talk, I’ve been coughing up my soul for years.” (cut to montage of my solo shows, stand up, vlogging, after too many drinks at a party)  I was the lead plantiff in a class action suit against Stanley “died before convicted” Chais so I have not been a shrinking violet when it comes to my absconded retirement fund.  I’ve always been ENRAGED.  

As is often the case with these things I don’t love the way it was edited.  First off, none of my funny lines made it in. Like when it came up about Madoff talking from prison and I said,  ”I don’t want to hear a thing from that guy.  Unless, it’s hey, Daphne, there is a box of money I kept hidden and here is it’s location.”They didn’t get me choking up, tears in my eyes.

Can I direct this thing?

Also, the other woman who they interviewed talks about getting the money she originally invested.  She must have been a direct investor. We weren’t so we didn’t get anywhere near it.  But, whatever.  Here is another few minutes in the reality show called my life! CLICK HERE  There is an EP of Madoff suckers  victims here.  But, scroll down past his ugly mug to the vid with us.  I’m glad they got the part  about OTHER people, with their own ugly mugs, who have not had to pay the piper. Yet.

The producer said I was good on camera.  I suggested I host a show for CNBC called, “How not to invest.”  She laughed.

Family Road Trip

Okay, so here is magnum opus on my last hurrah of summer.  To some driving around in a mini van for two weeks with two small children might be hellish.  I was in heaven.  Did they listen when I tried to tell them the importance behind Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the storm”?  No, but we bonded in other ways.  Most of it we did as three for the road, but Mark joined us 8 days in.

Being a mom of two littles is easier for me on the open road.  We aren’t chained to our screens.  Away from stressors.  That’s why they call it vacation.  Mountain of laundry

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.

Mama chat : LA Mayors race

I am a guest on this podcast. Donna Schwartz Mills and Cynematic of Momocrats host.  Since it’s audio this the kind of thing you listen to while you walk or clean up the piles in your house.  Oh, maybe that’s just me.

I’m  extremely partisan, of course, for my friend Eric Garcetti, but I really tried to be as even as I could in this.  Sometimes that meant putting my hand over my mouth so I didn’t blurt out “Oh, come on Eric has a proven track record in his district and he is a super sweet guy!” I could go on…

 

unnamed happy birthday

“is this a significant birthday?” friends ask.

Not in a number sense.  But it was important to make it more joyful than last year when some bad business news arrived on my birthday 2012.  A dark cloud hung over it and stayed, and stayed. I can’t say it better than Eddie Murphy did in this old sketch.  That about sums up my feeling

The clouds have not entirely parted, but as Mark and I have now learned what to do.  Live with the clouds, don’t let them cover you. When the going gets tough, the tough throw a party.  So, Mark threw together a lovely cocktail party at our home. He made the food.  He told me proudly he had used my meatball and savory tart recipe.  I’m flattered.

woken up on my birthday. Perfect!

 We had a bartender.

I bought a new dress.

I drank a couple of Manhattan’s.  My favorite drink.

I’m very lucky to have friends and family show up for me.  Their presence was the present for sure.

 

How did I end up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen? : LA Mayors Race part 2

 Does this campaign make my butt look big? No, because when you canvas you walk! More about one of my latest part-time “jobs”.

That's my kind of mayor!

So, there are several reasons why I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen ( see blog post from a few days ago…) One is there is a grounded quality to him and a clear integrity.  When Campanile announced it was closing Eric wrote to me and Mark .  It was a personal note and I don’t want to share it, but to say it was appreciated.

Another reason…Several weeks ago I spoke to Eric at a another gathering of supporters and or would be supporters.  This was a bunch of people who are in charter schools, like we are. I think it’s the 7th or 8th time I’ve heard him speak,  yet I still enjoy hearing him speak.  I feel that he can lead LA into the next phase with dynamism, intelligence, and imagination.

He and his wife have adopted a baby girl and after speaking to the crowd at this convocation he was rushing out to do the “night duty”, that’s another reason.

Amy Wakeland in my dining room addressing volunteers about how to canvas

Another reason I love the guy is his choice of spouse.  No small aside is his wife Amy Wakeland.  She is a strong, confident, whip smart woman.  They met when they were both Rhodes Scholars .  However, she is also down to earth and will envelope friends in a warm hug.  No job is too small for her, no detail is missed.  One day my sister and I were going out to canvas for Eric and she told us if a voter had more questions get their number and she will call them.  We thought for a second she was kidding.  She was not, and she does.

The other week I hosted a canvassing party at our house.  The carrot was that Mark Peel would be making his famous grilled cheese sandwiches for volunteers.  It’s hard to get people to go knock on strangers doors and ask them to vote for your guy, but the food did it.  We had a good crowd and there was Amy leading the troops with her daughter crawling nearby. Classic strong working mom. She separated the tiny, swallowable toys out of the toy basket I had presented, changes a diaper and then told 30 people how to hit the bricks to get her husband elected with aplomb.  Fired up, I canvassed while my sister Cecily watched my kids.

Now, it’s not all work supporting a candidate.  The other week my friend and I went to a concert Moby gave to raise money for Eric’s campaign.  Jimmy Kimmel hosted. Will Ferrel made a funny video.    Last week I went to a Chefs for Garcetti event.  This time, my husband wasn’t one of them, but lots of other good restaurants participated with tasty dishes, Little Fork, Black Market and wine from Silver Lake Wine. I went stag, but hailed Gil Garcetti down to take a picture with me at their red carpet meets photo booth set up.  Gil is Eric’s father and former District Attorney of LA ( the ’90′s, OJ, yeah him).  Sweet guy, now he is an art photographer.  He has been making cold calls to voters on his sons behalf.  

“Aren’t people surprised that you are calling them?” I asked.

“Sometimes they think it’s a robo call.  One woman asked me to prove it.” He chuckled.  I didn’t ask how, but wondered what he would say to prove he is really Gil Garcetti.  Tell the lady where Eric has a birth mark?

Since I’ve been pounding the pavement for Garcetti for Mayor  I get asked “how can you do this with kids?” Like everything else when you are a parent the answer is two-fold 1) selectively, can’t go to every event and 2) it takes a village.

Direct voter contact is proven to be effective in getting out the vote.  A couple of times Amy invited me and some other mom supporters, to come to her house. She had a sitter there for her daughter so they would watch my kids as well.  Vivien and Rex had a great time hanging out.  I was touched by being so easily welcomed into their home, even if  I was there to help.

One day, a few other supporters were sitting in the front room or kitchen.  I sat at the counter in the kitchen so I could charge my phone while I called potential voters.  Eric was in between events and he was working around us. There is little difference between the “on” side to Eric and the at home eating left overs out of his fridge. “Do you want some he asked?” as I sat at his kitchen counter dialing voters.  A rare time I didn’t take food that was proffered, but I had gassed up before hand.  Whether I speak to him casually as a friend or hear him address a crowd he has a light that attracts people like the proverbial moth.

I heard Eric making his own calls and there was no cynicism as he moved from donor support, or reaching out to a community leader.  A few times I was stymied by an inquiry on the phone.  Sometimes you reach thoughtful people who want  deeper answers to the questions than I can provide.

“Well, Joyce, if you care about the environment you should know Eric was endorsed by the Sierra Club.”  But, she had more detailed question and “did I mention how nice he was to my mother?”  Didn’t seem like it would cut it, though I thought it should.    I put my hand over the phone,

“Eric, can you talk to Joyce, she is an environmentalist.”  He took the phone from me and rattled off a bunch of things he has done.   Nation’s widest-reaching green building ordinance, the nation’s largest local clean water initiative, and legislation leading to the nation’s largest solar rooftop program, etc.   He spent some time with her.  ”Can I count on you for support?” he said finally.  ”Thank you Joyce.”

When he hung up I said, “you are the closer!”  I said, wait, we gotta take a picture of this.  So we recreated the calling.  THAT is how I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen. 

 When we left he gave Rex and Vivien campaign buttons.

Rex was making a fierce face for canvassing, Viv takes a lighter approach

Sarah of MomsLA asked if I would interview him for a video for their site.  We got a few minutes as he rushed between engagements.  The street sound is not ideal, but here is some of it.  I’m going to try a pass at my own edit later, but Sarah did well to get this together.

Rex told me today that “Eric Garcetti is going to win.”  It was even cuter because we weren’t even talking about the election.  I was pouring chocolate milk.

I really hope Eric Garcetti wins the primary and the run off in May.  I think it would be great for Los Angeles. It’s been great to be part of the campaign and to share with my children what it is like to be involved in local politics like I did when I was growing up.  Well, except for hating some of your neighbors who didn’t support your dad, they can miss that part.

Los Angeles Vote on March 5th Tuesday.  Seriously

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA Mayor Race

On President’s day I was sitting in LA City Councilman’s Eric Garcetti’s house making cold calls to voters while my children played upstairs in his bedroom with his daughter…how did I get here?  This is my story… 

“Since when do people care about the LA Mayor’s race?” a friend queried the other night at dinner.  It’s kind of true.  It seem like a bigger deal this year, but I can’t tell, because it’s a bigger deal to me personally.   

Being politically minded since I was in pre school and campaigning for my dad I always pay attention.

my dad running for re election in Culver City. I'm the one with the peace sign

However, this year I’m much more involved because we are friends with one of the candidates, Eric Garcetti.

Now, for non Angelenos, bear with me. This is still the life of a mom trying to keep her hand in the world and teach her kids at the same time. Eric is a city council member of the 13th district (Silver Lake,Hollywood), he was city council president for years.   In a race with two women in it Garcetti got the endorsement of the National Organization for Women.  A couple of highlights in that arena:

- More than 60 percent of his commission appointees have been women, and many of top posts in his staff are held by women.

Eric tripled the number of parks in his district.   He has been a big supporter of charter schools. He got aftercare in all of the public schools in his districts. His district had job growth even during the recession.

Now, those are the beats on a good brochure and things that line up with my politics.  But, the personal is what puts this over the top.  I wrote a few years ago about being at a dinner party where I met Councilman Garcetti and his mom Sukey Garcetti.  My husband already knew them since Eric’s sister had worked for him and because at the helm of one of top restuarants in LA for over 20 years my husband knows everyone.

I was entranced as I spoke to mother and son.  They are warm, down to earth, smile on their face.  Over the course of dinner I learned that Eric is an accomplished jazz pianist, Rhodes scholar, Navel Reserve and foster parent.  I asked Sukey, “How did you raise a child like this?” wanting to duplicate her results.

“Hold them close and then let them go.” She smiled.  I knew there had to be more to it than that.  I kept in touch with Sukey for dinner.   Sukey’s husband Gil is a former District Attorney of LA .  Then we heard Eric was going to run for Mayor.

first of many events

Mark agreed to do the food for an event.  This was back in ’11.  Eric was efusisive in his appreciation for Mark’s contribution and when Eric spoke to the party about why he was running for Mayor I was moved.  He is a true Angeleno, not one of these sad sack actors who has come to rape the land and complain about the pizza.  He is 4th generation and he is a mix like LA itself, Jewish, Mexican with an Italian last name who grew up in the Valley.

Little Eric with grandfather and sister

Last March when The Tar Pit closed I reached out to Eric’s office to see if he had  ideas of where we could relocate in his district.  He met us right away with an aid who helped with business development.  For other business reasons we didn’t act on this fact finding mission, but we appreciated his direct approach to helping a small business maintain viability.

As his campaign slowly ramped up I kept in touch with one of his associates so I could figure out how best to help.  I heard him talk many times at small meet and greets at people’s homes.  He has Clinton like charisma with Zen calm.  He deftly handles all questions with charm and a vigourious understanding of the issues.  One can see how he is a former college instructer as he lays out an issue, it’s problems and solutions.   I always learn when I hear him speak.

I threw a “Grilled Cheese For Garcetti” luncheon for Eric at Campanile last summer  ( oh, remember when we still had a restaurant?) to introduce him to LA mom bloggers.  Sukey attended as well so mom and son could work their charm offensive.  Some of my favorite mom bloggers were there like Donna Schwartz Mills of SoCal mom,  Jessica Gottlieb, MomsLA, Yvonne and Sarah ( their video with him here) , Heather Spohr, Kim Tracy PrinceSarah Maizes

Sarah Maizes, Jessica Gottlieb, Yvonne Condes, Sarah Auerswald

Sarah, you may remember her for her hilarious star turn in one of my “how to be a mom ” series with Cafe Mom.  She played the annoying parent.

"let's vote for Eric Garcetti for mayor"

My sister Carole, of LaGirlNow was there as well and immediately signed up to do an event for Eric.  She packed her lovely home in November for a big cocktail party where many people got to hear Eric talk about his vision for LA. Carole gave him a great introduction where she said the Brogdon girls hadn’t been active in a LOCAL campaign since one of our dad’s, but Eric had inspired us to get back involved.    He took many questions that night and one was from a man who was a bit grouchy.  (My sister wanted to leap across her living room and knock the plate of middle eastern food out of his hand that she had provided for being so cranky at her gathering.)  Eric handled it smoothly and with answered his concerns in detail ( it was about the business tax). He let the guy know he was hearing him.  That man now has a “Garcetti for Mayor” sign on his lawn. It’s one of the many times I’ve seen the councilmen with a “water off a ducks” back ease about whatever comes his way.  He is never thrown for a loop and is up on the issues.

Okay, so that takes you up to the end of 2012… More on this story of my local politics renaissance tomorrow.

 

don’t chase the party

My motto for New Year’s.  Granted it’s harder to chase a party with a 3 and a 7 year old in tow, but I wish I had figured this out when I was like, um 24.  It’s so magical when everything comes together.  Everyone is on the same wavelength.

For several years I had lovely dinners at Campanile on New Years with friends. But, the last few years I didn’t go as baby sitting is difficult and I was tired.  I started doing East Coast New Years.  Countdown at 9pm with a few friends at home and then lights out.

This year was the first in over 30 years that Mark didn’t work New Year’s Eve.  I’ve always had to share him with others.  So, Mark, Viv, Rex and I went down to Palm Springs and spent a couple of nights in a condo.   It was pretty cold down there, but we hiked one day.

We went to a kid’s museum where it’s a treat to pretend to be grocery shoppers. As opposed to when are an adult and it’s the dullest, most repetitive chore this side of unloading a dishwasher.

We went to the snow via the tram another day. It’s pretty fab that you can go from desert to snow in ten minutes.  We learned that our kids are as snow adverse as we are.  Two hours were more than enough for all.  Phew, was afraid I’d have to pay for skiing one day.  Let some other white mom do that.

Sure, first it’s fun.

Then that fluffy white stuff gets cold.  I think this is the moment when the Vivster turned on the winter wonderland.

So, that brings us to New Years.   No planning= magic.  Or at least managed expectations.  Otherwise New Years can be as bleak as Valentine’s day after a break up.

It’s easy to stay at home (or temporary, rented condo home) on New Years when we travel with one of the best chefs.  While Rex napped, Mark made a great dinner, anchored by his roast chicken.  Vivien and I watched “Empire Strikes Back”.  I felt like I was giving her a hit of the pop cultural crack pipe.  ”THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE!” I gushed like a pusher.

Viv, “Why is that man in that black case?”  Since Star Wars runs through my brain as if it’s my own life it was odd to have to explain Darth Vader.

“Okay, I’m going to pause it.  Yoda just said to Obie Wan, ‘there is another’, Bookmark that.”

We had a our dinner.  Popped New years crackers with funny hats and toys. We were all chatting and laughing.  Toasting MP for his great dinner.

I asked everyone to say what were the best things about 2012.

“Okay!” everyone went along with me.  Mind you, had the kids not been there Mark and I would have been howling “WHAT a F–ing awful year!  We closed two businesses.  UGH”  But, instead I concentrated on the positive, “Kevin being nominated for an Oscar and Leslie’s wedding“.

Then I asked everyone to write down something they wanted to leave behind in ’12.   I asked that they stay private and that then we burn them.  Everyone was game.  I told Rex he could just scribble his down and think it. But, he said he wanted to share.

” I don’t like being in the car on the freeway.” I was sorry he mentioned it because there is scant chance we can go through 2013 without driving on a freeway.  If so, what does that do to the pain I want to leave behind in ’12? Maybe I can take more surface streets.  My belief in New Years Magic might be challenged.

We went out to the patio and watched the dregs of 2012 quickly burn.  I wanted to have a moment to mediate on us  leaving our hardships behind.  I wanted to allow our collective ritual to digest in our mind.

But, it was really cold and Mark spied the TV,

“Return of the Jedi’ is starting.”  They all ran toward the door.  As Jabba the hut spoke I interjected, “Hey, didn’t everyone feel good about that leaving behind, burning thing? ”  Silence. “That was good, huh?”

Silence as they were focused on trying to get Hans Solo unfrozen.

Princess Leia was in her bikini chained up.  ”You know”, I said to no on in particular, use to being ignored at this point. “Carrie Fisher was starving herself and doing drugs to get that thin for this movie.” 6 eyeballs stayed focused on the screen.

The party had peaked.  It’s best to know when to wrap it up.

Happy New Year