Because we didn’t have to prepare any food for Thanksgiving this year and we hadn’t seen many of our closest friends in a while, Jeremy and I decided to host a brunch on the Sunday following the holiday. Knowing everyone would be way over turkey by then we opted to offer our friends waffles and mimosas.
Not one to keep things simple at home - especially not when planning a holiday party for 800 at work - I decided our friends could not live on waffles alone. Thus, a new Pinterest Board was born. Thankfully my husband did rein me in so we “limited” the meal to two types of waffles with many fixin’s, maple turkey sausages, a fresh fruit platter, mushroom quiche and baked apple french toast.
It is that last item you see photos of above. It looked too tasty not to try, and when a friend texted me from the Farmer’s Market I had to ask him to pick up some fresh wheat bread to make this tasty looking treat. I picked up two types of organic apples and got to work peeling and slicing them Saturday night. I learned that the portions on the recipe were correct and I was a bit over-zealous adding 50% more apples, but the dish was wonderful in the end and we had plenty to go around. Thankfully there was also plenty of real Vermont maple syrup to pour on top with the organic homemade whipped cream. Good thing I ran a few miles that morning to burn off the delicious calories in advance!
I recommend you try this at home, especially during the holiday season. Check out the recipe HERE and give it a shot!
I haven’t had enough free time lately to write regularly for Girl Around Town, but I do still contribute now and then. For instance, I have selected five great gifts to give friends and family at the holidays which are included in the annual GAT Holiday Shopping Guide. To see what gift you might receive from me this holiday season click HERE.
Last weekend I worked, all weekend long. It won’t sound like work, but it was - trust me. Starting Friday afternoon Jeremy joined me as we set up shop at a hotel in Redondo Beach with an ocean view and spent the following 2 1/2 days being tourists in our own city. The goal of this "FAM" trip hosted by the LA Tourism & Convention Board was to help local and nationwide event planners get to see and experience venues they otherwise would not.
For instance, I can’t take the time away from work to drive across town to check out the event spaces and special attractions at Universal Studios - a venue I had been considering for a recent group event I am helping plan for a group of 60-80 colleagues - but I could spend the time on a trip like this. And we did. It was a lovely afternoon at Universal and well worth the time since I understand the event potential of the space much better than when I was simply talking to the sales team over the phone.
Two highlights of the weekend with many great experiences (including the rather surreal experience of seeing the city through the eyes of first time visitors soaking it all in) included the visit to Terranea Resort and attending the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theater at LA Live.
Having heard glowing reviews of Terranea it was a pleasure to make my first visit on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning which showed this exemplary resort property at it’s very best. The meeting space is extensive, yet you have lots of options for intimate meetings as well. Leisure travel is not my arena, but I couldn’t help but imagine my own extended family spending a week in a couple of their well appointed casitas. After touring large parts of the property they treated us to brunch with a view. On the way to our shuttle bus we came across the man who manages falconry on property and got to see his many birds who naturally keep pesky birds - like seagulls - from Terranea. When not in action they are tucked into small leather hats which were adorable as well as practical. In addition to falconry one can experience many other activities at Terranea, like kayorkling. We absolutely must come back to see what that’s all about.
The finale of our weekend was experiencing LA Live during the excitement of a big special event, like the American Music Awards. While I do manage a bi-annual large event for work, a TV production it is not. I could learn a lot from this experience though, about what looks good on TV isn’t always what looks best in person in a theater. While the show was of course fun it is really designed to look amazing for the millions watching at home, not the 7,000 watching live.
Not super hip to what ‘the kids’ are listening to these days I hardly recognized anyone on the red carpet though stars of the night were all around us. This meant I could experience some already popular music for the first time and fall in love with a duo like A Great Big World who performed with Christina Aguilera. It was a blast to see the “shocking” Miley Cyrus try to top herself. I joked that the only thing she could do on stage that would upset people more than she already has is to kick a puppy. Instead she thankfully went the other way and performed in front of a lip-synching sad kitty video. Our friend Mike is her keyboardist so it was fun to “see” him perform live, even if we couldn’t actually SEE him on stage. Miley’s performance of Wrecking Ball topped off an incredible show and wonderful weekend exploring new event spaces and opportunities around my adopted hometown.
Is it the Enya song that really got me in this commercial? It is probably the combination of all elements, including the quiet subtlety of it which works so well here. Color me impressed, on all levels.
Living in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, means a different things to different people. I had big dreams - of not staying - when I moved here. I planned to stay for 3-4 months as a student. It is 13+ years later. I have almost lived in LA longer than I lived in Chicago, the city where I grew up and because so much of who I am today. LA lets you be who you want to be. Figuring that out, well, that’s another story, but whoever that is, this is a city that accepts it ALL.
Last night we took our second couple’s cooking class at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. I've written here before about these great classes and was so excited to use the Christmas gift certificate from my in-laws, along with a certificate we bid on at a Fulfillment Fund silent auction, to sign us up for this class. All classes fill up fast, but the the couples cooking classes especially fast.
Indian food intimidates us both, using many spices we’re not familiar with, at least combined together. When we saw the opportunity to ease into this style of cooking through a friendly class - where lots of prep is done for you. That means it is more about technique and understanding how flavors mix. We learned about dropping one fennel seed into a pot to see if it bubbles, which confirm the heat level signaling when all of the seeds can go in. Then they need just ten seconds to release their flavor before the next step. Timing of ingredients is important in Indian cooking - something I would not have understood trying to make a recipe at home. Having an instructor who was born, raised and fed in Indian helps too.
Our menu last night consisted of Jeera (Cumin) Pulao (aka rice), South Indian Chicken Curry (see photos above), Onion Raita, absolutely delicious Chettinadu Lamb Biriyani, and Phulka (aka puffy wheat pita).
Phulka was the showstopper created just before sitting down to eat our meal which has been marinating, stewing and steaming for the past three hours. The ingredients are simple:
2 1/2 Cups - Whole Wheat Flour (Atta Indian brand recommended)
1/4 Teaspoon - Vegetable Oil
1/4 Teaspoon - Salt
1 1/2 Cups - Warm Water
You make a basic bread in little golf ball shapes, then roll them out into thin sheets. The fun part - which Mr. Diller was quite adept at - is lightly heating the thinned circle of dough in a frying pan until it is dry enough to put directly over a gas stove flame. Ideally the bread will puff up creating a toast light pita-style bread to eat with your meal. This didn’t work perfectly, but Jeremy had the flip mastered, impressing the class, and the bread still tastes great even if it doesn’t puff up perfectly. Not bad for first timers!
If you like what you see reach out and I’ll send you recipes, or maybe we’ll have you over for Indian food. Jeremy has been suggesting we skip turkey to have more lamb biriyani for Thanksgiving.
This absolutely captures what I think will happen every time a plane I’m on takes off and someone in my row doesn’t take seriously the instructions to turn off your electronic devises, completely. Thankfully the third panel hasn’t occurred yet, but it this happens one too many times you never know….
(Source: thedoghousediaries.com, via nevver)
Tis the season for zucchini, so I figured I’d grab some at the grocery store. But it isn’t easy to get to all of the fresh produce we purchase and I had to admit it, but sometimes food goes bad, then into the trash untouched. Determined not to let that happen with the zucchini I bought I was like a woman possessed and decided to whip up a load of zucchini almond bread in a loaf pan gifted to me by my mother-in-law which has been unused since said gifting.
I’m proud to say our cupboards were well stocked with all the fixin’s for the bread according to a simple recipe I found on the Food Network Blog which you can check out by clicking HERE.
Jeremy and I were like a well oiled machine in the kitchen, crushing up this, zesting that, draining and mixing. About 90 minutes after we sprang into action the loaf was ready. It wasn’t healthy, but boy was it delicious. Going to get froyo might have actually been healthier (in a sense) but food you make from scratch always tastes better.