Thursday, October 27, 2016

Daughter's of Simone Goes to New York Bridal Week !!

   I had the wonderful  and exciting experience of going to New York City during Bridal Week, to attend a runway show that two of my daughters, Brittany and Ashley, were involved in, with their wedding dresses !!  As I look back, to how the seeds began of their wedding dress business, I remember the fun that my three daughters had as children putting on fashion shows, after we had  bought new clothes for school or summer. Ashley recently told me that she used to go hide in a corner in our house, and look at my Vogue magazines, after I had torn out the less modest photographs ! Their company is called Daughters of Simone, which specializes in romantic, bohemian looks. The show was put on by One Fine Day, a wedding fair group from Australia, a very kind and helpful group of people. Several of them asked me if I was Simone, to which I had to say 'no, that's the name of a  French author.' There were eight other designers from countries around the world participating as well.

   My daughters invited me to come early to do a little hand sewing on a dress that was going to be hanging in their display room, and when I walked into the venue, it was like walking into a beautiful soft white dream. All the walls were painted snowy  white, with vintage white furniture, and dreamy, beautiful, mostly white dresses hanging on white racks.  You could see cool architectural views of New York City through the windows which added  a soft glowing light, perfect for those of us taking photographs. Was this real or a dream !!?
   A separate floor where the runway was located, had white floors, white walls, rows of white chairs, and a large paned window with a  multitude of creamy white candles of various heights in front of it. This array of lit candles proved to highlight the  anticipation and drama of the models entering the runway ! My girl's father and I were surprised and  blessed to be given front row seats.

    The models walked out to an assortment of  hip music choices and it was interesting to see the varied styles and fabrics from beaded, to chiffon, to lace, and more.  After each group of models walked the runway, most of the designers came out and waved to the crowd, to the applause of the audience. My daughters decided to follow their models and walk the whole runway, celebrating the culmination of their hard work and accomplishment ! Those of us family and friends who were there clapped and cheered...rather loudly  I'd say !
   I think back in time of being a fifteen year old, when my fellow classmates and I had to write papers on the careers  that we envisioned for ourselves in the future. I wrote about my dream to be involved in the fashion I became an artist and a teacher instead, ha ha ! I didn't have a clue as to how to break into the business, but I guess that G-d didn't forget my dream though, as now I get to live it through my daughters ! Well, I'll is full of so many unexpected  surprises and blessings ! Thank you Brittany and Ashley for giving me such joy as I watch you living out your dreams and helping to give brides such happiness, wearing your beautiful dresses on their wedding days ! Yahooeeee !!! Aaaannnnd check out everyone !!



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jammin' with Plum Jam !


 Aww Summertime....Why do you have to leave me until next year ? I am already missing your luscious fruit !!  Well....I can dry my tears because I have a most happy summertime memory of making PLUM JAM with my daughter Courtney in Santa Cruz !! And we'll be able to taste the bright flavors of summer when we spread our jam on toast, drizzle it on top of ice-cream, or eat it with meat, etc.

    Courtney called me and told me that her fruit
trees were loaded, with three kinds of plums and asked me if I would like to come to her house for a jam making day ! How fun that sounded, so we put a date on the calendar about a month away, when she wasn't working with her  company 'Ramblin Adventure Club' in which children are taken on wonderful outdoor adventures ! She froze the plums in plastic bags for our future date. I was excited to spend some time with  Courtney !                
 So when I arrived at Courtney's she had the plums thawed out, we had some quesadillas and  herbal tea for lunch, and then we proceeded to pit the plums with our hands ! Fortunately Courtney gave me some blue surgical gloves while she went au naturel  with her bare hands. Her boyfriend Andy stopped by to see what we were doing and remarked that we looked like we were doing surgery. Well, uh yes...moving on...we put the plums in a large pot with some water, lemon juice,  and some sugar. After tasting the jam we thought it needed a little flavor enhancing so we went to the grocery store , bought some honey (and ice-cream !). In went several tablespoons of honey into the pot !
    After a while Courtney and I took a little rest and then sterilized the jars and filled them until about 11:00 that night. And oh....we added cinnamon to half of the batch to spice it up a bit !
   The next day my daughter  Brittany and son-in-law Jeff came by to visit and they got to see the fruit of our labor all packed in cute little jars.
   Aaaand...I asked Courtney for the jam recipe, but maybe she's secretly guarding it...or maybe not...hee hee soooo, I found what looks like the easiest honey plum jam recipe on the planet....except your labor and time of course ! It's just two hard can that be !
   I recommend making jam with your family or friends. you get to spend the whole day together, talking, laughing, and creating something wonderful together ! How great is that !
   Thank you Courtney for a very special day with you....I enjoyed our time together so much !! Let's do it again ! With all the ABC girls and more !
                                                     Beemaid Honey Plum Jam Recipe


4 cups cut up plums
1 3/4  cups honey


   Wash plums ; remove stones and chop into fine pieces.Place in a large saucepan ; stir in honey and let sit for an hour. Bring to a boil. Cook at a full rolling boil for 15 minutes. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with a thin layer of paraffin. When cool, add another thin layer of paraffin. Cover, label, and store in a cool place. Makes about 6 jelly jars.
   ( Courtney and I did not use paraffin. We boiled the jars for about 10-15 minutes and washed the lids in hot water, then dried them. The jars were lifted out of the pot with canning tongs and turned over onto a clean cloth. Hot jam ( after we tasted it to make sure it was yummy) was spooned into a  canning funnel and into the jars. The lids were screwed on, not too tightly. The jars whose lid centers sink in are safely sealed. Screw the lids on a little tighter. If a lid center  has not sunk in and they make a clicking noise, it's not able to be stored, but you can put it in the refrigerator and eat it now ! )
   Store the jam jars in a dark, cool place and eat it within 6 months. The jam may get runny after that.

   Thank you Adonai for the beautiful fruit You give us and special times with family and friends !

P.S. Check out Courtney's website where kids go out for a new adventure and hike every day !!

P.P.S. I spy Lynette Shor's gorgeous Challah bread and a jar of her delicious jam on the table ! She's my friend and Messianic Rabbi's wife who has a home bakery business called Challahday Bread Company in Fresno !


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Summer Vegetable Tian !

   It's the end of summer and I just realized that I haven't made one of my favorite summer French vegetable dishes...a vegetable tian !When I think of this tian, I am reminded of taking French classes when I lived in Santa Barbara, California. After each class ended for the term, my French teacher Carla, would guide us in planning a potluck French dinner. She would ask us what we would like to bring, and each one of us would tell her what we were going to bring in French. One of my fellow classmates brought this fabulous tian to one of the parties. Several of us expressed our delight in this dish, and she said that she found the recipe in Ina Garten's lovely cookbook called Barefoot in Paris.          

     There is still time to run to the farmer's market to select some beautiful tomatoes and zucchini squash ! My favorite tomatoes are Heirloom with the red bottoms and the green stripes on top. My farmer friend Rocio, grows the most scrumptious  Heirloom and other vine-ripened tomatoes ever, selling them at the Vineyard Framer's Market, in this hot San Juaquin valley where I live ! Add some onions, garlic, potatoes, fresh thyme, and some Gruyere've got it made in the shade !

 Tians originated in Provence, France....usually consisting of vegetables, herbs, and cheeses that are layered together and then baked. A tian is a French word that depicts a shallow earthenware casserole, and the food it contains. This is an excellent  comforting dish to serve alongside meat, as a vegetarian entree, or as a brunch or lunch casserole.  It would also be delicious made with fall and winter vegetables when summer time has gone bye bye. When I was visiting with my folks in San Diego, we ate this tian  on a balmy day outside for breakfast. I have also brought it to share at Oneg (Dinner delight) after our Messianic Jewish Shabbat service. Choose tomatoes, zucchini, and potatoes that are about the same diameter, so that the slices look more or less uniform and that they bake at the same time.
                                                        Ina Garten's Vegetable Tian

Good olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled (Don't use old potatoes...they taste old !)
3/4 pound zucchini
1-1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

   Brush a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

   Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch-thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only one layer. sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until browned. Lay some fresh thyme sprigs on top. I like to taste the dish to see if it needs additional salt, pepper, or thyme leaves.  Serve warm. I enjoy eating this delicious dish the next 2-3 days, reheated. A little water added to the dish might help to moisten it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

German Apple Pancake for Breakfast, Lunch, or Brunch !

Last Sunday, I was relaxing at home, planning to have a quiet day alone, watching the movie called, "The 100 Foot Journey". I looooove this story about the conflict and melding of the cultures,  people, and cuisines of East India and France. It also is a love story. Before I started the movie, I was thinking about what I would like to eat that day, since on Sundays I sometimes like to stray off my normal path of eating, cooking something a little special.  The thought came to me....German apple pancake !! that sounds lovely !
   This is a puffy as a cloud pancake, that fills the whole of a large frying pan, and is filled with apples that have been sautéed in butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sprinkled with confectioners sugar. I feel nostalgic when I make this, because I first made it when I was in college, having bought Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure cookbook, during my vegetarian days. How many of you who went to college in the seventies bought this cookbook !!? It was my absolute cooking Bible, having tried quite a few of the oh,
so flavorful recipes !! My cookbook literally fell apart !
   The recipe is quiet easy...just some apple chopping, throwing batter ingredients in your blender, baking the pancake, and topping it with the apples !  Anna says that this can be a special-day breakfast for two or three people, a light late supper, or a beautiful warm dessert for four to six people. It is just as delicious as an apple pie ! I changed Anna's recipe a little, in that I added a little whole wheat flour to the recipe, instead of all white flour, and I increased the amount of apples in the filling.  I also add honey instead of the sugar. You could also throw some berries or other fruit into the apple mixture as it's cooking.
   Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Anna Thomas at a book signing in Santa Barbara, California, at Chaucers Bookstore ! Wow, was I thrilled !! She was promoting her book called Soup, and she even brought two delicious soups that she had made for us to try. I can still taste the acorn squash soup !!
   One of her fans brought her cookbook that was in shreds, like mine ,and held together with string ! (I'm so sorry Anna and lady that I lost the photo of you two together, that I was going to send to you !!)
                                                           German Apple Pancake


3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbs.butter (unsalted preferred)
1/2 cup thin-sliced apples (Optional)


1  1/2 lb. tart, fresh apples (Pippin and Pink Lady are great)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup  raw sugar or honey (I prefer honey.)
powdered cinnamon and nutmeg


2 Tbs.melted butter (optional)
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Beat together the eggs, milk, flour, and salt until very smooth. Add some very thinly sliced apples if desired. In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. As soon as it is quite hot, pour in the batter and put the skillet in the oven. ( One of my skillets has a wooden handle that has been baked partly off , so don't put wooden handles in your oven if you don't have to !) After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Watch the pancake to make sure it's light brown and crisp, and not dark brown. You can cover it loosely with foil if it's getting too brown.
    During the first 10 or 15 minutes of baking, the pancake may puff up in large bubbles.  If it does, pierce it thoroughly with a fork or a skewer.

   While the pancake is baking, prepare the apple filling. Peel and thinly slice a pound of apples. Saute them lightly in 1/4 cup butter and add 1/4 cup raw sugar or honey. Season to taste with cinnamon and nutmeg. The apples should be just tender, not too soft.About 8 to 10 minutes of cooking over a medium flame should be plenty. (The filling can be prepared ahead and reheated just before serving.)

   When the pancake is ready, slide it onto an oval platter, pour the apple filling over the pancake. A little melted butter can be poured on if you choose, and the whole thing carefully sprinkled with powdered sugar through a sieve or with your fingers. Serve it at once, slicing wedges. (Anna folds her pancake in half and slices pieces off crosswise.)

Thank you Anna Thomas for helping to make eating during my college days so delicious, creative, and fun with your fabulous cookbooks !!!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Garden Birthday Party in Carmel Valley !

It was recently my annual summer vacation to the coast with my girlfriends, the "Beach Bunnies", as we like to call ourselves ! We rent a house in the Monterey, California area for a week to take walks, shop, dine, go to a musical, watch movies together, play games, read magazines, sleep in or not, and we also usually have Birthday parties !
   We had a special Birthday party for Sharon, who is passionate about gardening, flowers, and delectable cuisine ! I asked her where she would like to have her Birthday party and she said that she liked The Corkscrew Cafe in Carmel Valley, that happens to be one of my favorite places in the world, so I made a reservation there very quickly ! The Corkscrew Cafe is a rustic, old house that has been turned into a darling restaurant with a beautiful, Provencal garden, gravel on the ground, grapevines growing overhead, and a trickling fountain in the center with goldfish in it.
   I wondered what type of party should we throw for Sharon, so I said a little prayer asking G-d what to do and I heard to give her a garden party, with vases of flowers lining down the center of the table. One of my friends' named Leslie brought an assortment of clear vases and bottles from home with her to add to my mine, so we had ten all together. It equaled one vase per lady at the party! Leslie helped me arrange the flowers that I had brought, secretly in our rental house. We loaded them in ice chests in my car the next day. Sharon asked me if she could ride with me to the restaurant, but our friend Jennifer told her that she couldn't because I had "issues". Hee hee !
   The kind people at The Corkscrew Cafe prepared a lovely long table covered with a blue Provencal tablecloth and white cloth napkins under the shade, in their tranquil garden.  On Sharon's plate, I placed a lavender sachet with a tiny bouquet of fresh lavender, red rose buds, and a sprig of jasmine tied on it. And with our parade of colorful flowers cascading down the table, it was a scene out of cafe garden in Provence !

 Quite frequently, Sharon and I, (two foodie gals who love to eat and cook) order the same items when we dine out together. Today was not any different, as we ordered to share, a Meyer lemon, arugula, and cheese pizza, and a mushroom pizza . Both were  wood-fired. Yum ! We also ordered a caramelized pear, roasted hazelnut, gorgonzola salad with apple cider vinaigrette dressing. delicious ! I had a refreshing lemonade to drink and our friend Debbie had the champagne that you see in the picture.
             In the middle of the meal, some of us took turns
blessing Sharon with kind words, telling her what we admire and appreciate about her, and thanking her for the special ways that she has affected our lives. Those were some touching moments and words. After our lunch, our kind waitress brought Sharon a sweet, fresh peach galette (a rustic little pie) with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream and a lit candle ! (Some of us were hoping and praying that the dessert chef had made lavender ice-cream; something delectable that we had had there before. But not today, boo hoo !) Oh well, not to worry...the day was gorgeous, the food scrumptious, the company delightful, and the celebration was fun !! What more could we ask of such a wonderful, blessed day !
   P.S. We missed those of you Bunnies,  that weren't able to come this year !

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

French Goat Cheese Zuchini Tomato Tart !

Happy Summer ! Well, the temperature here in Fresno has been over 100 degrees this week ! But that doesn't stop me from making my weekly trek to my favorite Farmer's Market. The market has been a glorious array of colors and bounty. I've been buying peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, boysenberries, peppers, zucchini, green beans, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, English and Armenian cucumbers, raisins, nuts.....and well, you get the picture ! 
All the best chefs and cooks will tell you to cook with what is growing in season, so spying the shiny zucchini and the glistening tomatoes makes me think of this French Goat Cheese Zuchini Tomato Tart ! 
I used to participate in the Santa Barbara French Festival, having had a booth where I had my artwork and greeting cards for sale. My booth happened to be placed beside Santa Barbara Catering, who sell delicious Nicoise salads, goat cheese zucchini tomato tarts, and other wonderful delights to eat ! Talk about a mouth watering placement ! One of the owners told me how to make these tarts, so here is what I recall to the best of my ability. I am using filo dough in this recipe, and I believe that SB Catering uses puff pastry for the crust, which would be a little easier and quicker ! I have made this tart with family...It's fun to make ! So gather your family or friends and create it together !

                    French Goat Cheese Zuchini Tomato Tart                                    

1 package Filo pastry (I like to find whole wheat if available.)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 medium sized zuchini squash, sliced in circles 1/8 inch thick
1 medium sized red onion, sliced in 1/8 inch half  circles
4 medium sized tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch circles
1 - 8 oz. cold goat cheese log (Keep this in the refrigerator for firmness, until needed.)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons dried Herbs de Provence
salt and pepper


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Open up a package of filo dough. Take 4 sheets of dough off of the stack, and lay them on a baking sheet, or a piece of parchment paper a little longer than the dough. (If you want to make two tarts, double these directions.) Put 1/3 cup olive oil in a small bowl and get out a pastry brush.  Put the rest of the dough inside the plastic bag and tape the ends, to freeze for another time. Cut the sheets in half the long way, stack them on top of each other, and cover them with with a damp dish towel. Uncover the filo sheets and brush each one with the olive oil, laying them on top of each other,and stack on a baking sheet. Fold all four edges of the sheets inside, 1/2 inch to make an outside crust.
   Slice all the vegetables according to the thicknesses stated in the ingredients list, with a knife or a mandoline. (I love my mandoline because it makes such uniform cuts. Use extreme caution with one though, because they are so sharp !) Slightly overlap the zucchini circles in 2 or 3 rows. Lay a row of tomato slices down the center. Sprinkle the onion slices over all of the tart. Open the cold goat cheese log and crumble small goat cheese pieces over all. Then sprinkle the herbs de Provence or fresh basil, or both on top. Drizzle some olive oil over all. Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes or until the tart is golden brown. Cut the tart in 3 inch pieces. Mangez avec delices....Eat with delight !

Monday, June 20, 2016

Escape to a Carmel Valley Paradise and an Apricot Tart !

Have you ever just needed to escaaaape ? Thaaat's how I was feeling the other day ! Needing some time to see feel ocean veg out with a good book....The mood I was in reminds me of the time that I spent about two days in gorgeous Carmel Valley, just inland from Carmel,California, where the air is warmer as one drives away from the ocean.
   So I called my cat sitter, made arrangements for her to take care of Cocoa, Poof, and Ollie, packed my things,and took off for two nights in San Francisco and two nights in Carmel Valley ! These pictures are of Earthbound Farm in Carmel Valley. This is a tranquil place where I like to wander, to have lunch and to take pictures. When you first drive up and park, you can see the organic county store with wooden tables, chairs, picnic tables, benches, and a large indoor/outdoor building where they hold events and classes such as wreath making. I like to see the beautiful organic produce in the store, grab a sandwich from the fridge in front of the store and a drink to have outside. There is a takeout counter where you can order the sandwich of the day, hot dishes, desserts, ice-cream, and coffee. I noticed that more parents are bringing their children there after school to get ice-cream these days !
I love wandering in the back of the farm, as it is a visual delight of flowers,