Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Encinitas Public Library

The long low building sits atop a hillside.

Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.

A seaside motif adorns a copper and galvanized steel gate on the balcony.

Patio seating is available for soaking up some sunshine.

Whimsical art pokes up from the landscape.

A coffee kiosk provides a welcoming touch.

Even for the kids!

Drinks and food are allowed inside.

Rows of workstations are set up with Internet access.

But how does anyone concentrate on computers or books with all those palm trees swaying in the background?

The library also offers classes like Toddler Storytime, Game On! (if you want to play video games on a full-size movie screen), Touring Twitter, Frolicking with FaceBook and Creative Writing.

Visit the Encinitas Library and check out a book or two.

After being dazzled by the views...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Dessert Pizza

A drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

Strawberries and toasted pine nuts instead of pepperoni and mushrooms.

The combination works.

Trust me. It is delicious.

Let’s get started.

Dough ingredients:

1¼ cups warm water (no hotter than 120°F)
1¼ teaspoons active-dry yeast
¼ teaspoon sugar
3¼ cups bread flour (the bag will say ‘bread flour’, it works better than all purpose for pizza)
1½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Topping ingredients:

Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
Mascarpone cheese
Strawberries (sliced)
Pine Nuts (toasted in a dry pan till golden)
Aged Balsamic Vinegar (simmered in pan to thicken)

1. Put ¼ cup of the warm water into the small bowl. Add the yeast and sugar and whisk or stir to dissolve. Set the bowl aside for 8 to 10 minutes, until it looks foamy.

2. Put the flour and salt in the large bowl and whisk to blend. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour the yeast mixture into the well. Then pour the remaining 1cup warm water and the olive oil into the well. Using the wooden spoon, stir together the flour mixture and the liquids until you get big, shaggy clumps of dough that start to stick together.

3. Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface. Dump the dough clumps out of the bowl onto your work surface. Dip your hands in flour and start kneading the dough. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and springy and no longer sticky. It will take about 10 minutes. Lightly flour your hands and the surface if the dough starts sticking. It should feel tacky, like tape, but not sticky and gooey.

4. Rub the inside of a mixing bowl with a thin coat of vegetable oil. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in the bowl. Lightly rub the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside and let the dough rise until it is twice as big. Depending on the temperature of the room it will take about an hour.

5. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface. Press down firmly to flatten the dough and pop the air bubbles in it. Don’t knead it, or it will get too springy to shape. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

6. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle or just press down and gently stretch the dough with your hands.

7.   Place the dough on top of a cookie sheet (sprinkled with a bit of corn meal to keep from sticking) or use a Silpat. Spread mozzarella cheese and then dollops of mascarpone cheese on top.

8. Cook at 475 degrees until melted and bubbly, approximately 10 minutes. Take pizza out of the oven.

9. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts.

10. Place sliced strawberries on top.

Drizzle with the thickened balsamic vinegar (see photo at top of this post).


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Not Sure What To Call This

Hanging in the Mingei Museum.

Suspended between the first and second floor.

Angel? Fairy godmother? Winged goddess stuffed into an unflattering one-piece?

What do you see?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Zandra Rhodes, two-time neighbor

If you are unfamiliar, she is a pink-haired British fashion designer with a client list that included Princess Diana.

Last year, while living in London, I used to walk by a bright orange building, very modern, with a hot pink door.

It was the Fashion and Textile Museum around the corner from our flat.

Zandra Rhodes is the founder.

Because I saw it EVERY DAY for almost two months, I forgot to take a picture of THE BRIGHTEST BUILDING in the area.

And possibly all of London.

Except this one. Taken at night (the museum is on the left). It was unintentional. I was excited about the snow.

One morning my husband and I noticed a man standing on the balcony, on top of the museum, smoking.

Interesting that someone lived there.

Flash forward to two weeks ago.

I was listening to the car radio on the way to the gym.

Zandra was being interviewed about her exhibition at the Minghei International Museum in San Diego. She mentioned splitting her time between a penthouse above her museum in London and a place in Del Mar.


We were neighbors in London (blocks apart) and now we are neighbors in San Diego (just a few miles apart).

If I had her exact address I would drop off a coffee cake and introduce myself.

Instead I made another kind of neighborly gesture.

I drove to Balboa Park to admire her exhibit.

Mingei International Museum

The exhibit runs through April 3rd -
‘Zandra Rhodes – A Lifelong Love Affair with Textiles’.

This gown was showcased on the stairs leading to the exhibit.

Even the mannequins have attitude.

Dinosaur Coat, 1971 collection

Coat Dress, 1971 Collection

Printed on shocking pink chiffon - from the 1970 collection.

My favorite from the exhibit.

Beautiful work neighbor!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

First Day of Spring

Every year we plant a vegetable garden in the back yard.

By late March/early April.

Except last year. We planted in June. Our weekends just seemed to get away from us in 2010.

Tomatoes are mandatory.

Three different kinds, at least.

It increases our odds for success.

We have grown corn (enough ears for one dinner party), peppers, squash, beans and lettuce.

There has been a lot of chatter lately about revamping the entire yard, installing drip irrigation, stone paths and such.

Seems like it would take a lot of effort.

Plus our back fence started to fall down so we should probably address that first.


The big makeover can wait and we got the fence to stay upright.

At least temporarily.

For now, we'll just watch our garden grow.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Goodnight Moon

Full moon of March 19 occurs less than one hour away from perigee
 a near-perfect coincidence that happens only (every) 18 years or so.

Friday, 18 March 2011


Here is how the conversation went.

Me:  Guess what.

Husband:  What?

Me:  A gigantic piece of pie passed me on the freeway on the way home from work.

Husband:  No way!

Me:  The pie was made out of of wood or something. It was on the back of a trailer and it had whipped cream on top.

Husband:  Guess what.

Me:  What?

Husband:  I ran into a mountain lion in the bike lane on the way into work.

Me:  No way!

Husband:  The cops took a couple of pictures of me posing with it. It was wild.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Bells of Ireland

A two dollar and fifty cent bouquet
from the Carlsbad Farmers Market
to celebrate the holiday.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Strawberry Season

The stands are open.

On Cannon Road just east of the 5 Freeway

Here in San Diego we like to grow our strawberries as close to the freeway exits as possible.

Not sure why.

It’s not like the tractors need easy access to the highway.

Is the ground more fertile?

Is the commute easier for the workers?

Do car fumes and engine noise enhance the growing cycle?

I have no answers to this mystery.

I do know that the fruit is divine.

And I will continue to purchase and enjoy my freeway berries.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Tuesdays at Balboa Park

If the following applies:

     *  you like museums

     *  you have free time on a Tuesday

     *  you can show valid ID that you are a resident of San Diego

Then go visit any of these museums (on the corresponding Tuesday) for FREE:

Have fun!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Korean Lettuce Wraps

I have never been to Korea.

Don’t even know that much about Korean food.

But have been on a kick lately to make a variety of Asian dishes at home.

Recipes for Bulgogi and Nokdu Buchimgae and Bibimbap were the inspiration to get started.

Heard about a Korean Market called Zion in San Diego.

Take the 805 Freeway, Exit Balboa East, head east till Mercury and turn left, it is on right hand side.

Wandered through the aisles.

Found an extensive selection of dried anchovies.

In the produce section, there was gobo root.

Jars of kimchi filled the shelves in the refrigerated section.

Edible seaweed is called green lavor.

Picked up the specialty items for making Korean lettuce wraps.

Most notably the very thinly sliced beef, Asian pear and Korean red pepper paste (which must be a staple given the abundance of tubs on display).

Here is the recipe:

Soy and Sesame Marinated Grilled Beef (Bulgogi)

Whisk together the following ingredients in a medium bowl:

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons grated Asian pear
1 Tablespoon Japanese rice wine (mirin)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1 pound New York strip, rib eye or tenderloin, very thinly sliced

Toss well. Allow meat to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator.

Remove meat from marinade (then discard the marinade).

Heat a wok over medium high heat.


 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Swirl to coat the wok. Add meat and cook until brown, about 1 or 2 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter.

To serve:

            8 to 10 Boston lettuce leaves
Korean red pepper paste

Place meat in a lettuce leaf and garnish with red pepper paste. Wrap and eat.

Easy, delicious, unexpected!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Old School

Built in 1865.

It is Southern California’s first publicly owned schoolhouse.

Mason Street School is located in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

The brochure tells the story of Miss Walker, a New England teacher, who came out west to try her luck and accepted the teaching post in San Diego for $65 a month.

She taught for 11 months. Resigned. Then married the president of the school board.

Before you judge...

The hours were 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. School was in session for 12 months of the year. All eight grades were taught in one room and the students ranged from 4 to 17 years of age.

It was probably the longest 11 months of her teaching career.

Today the school/museum is open to the public and maintained by volunteers.

This group was listening to a description of corporal punishment.

To get there, look for this sign on the main walking path.

A quick diversion.

A little history.

And still plenty of time for mariachi bands, homemade tortillas and icy cold margaritas - the main draw for Old Town!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Incentive dust off my bicycle.

Shell Station on Del Mar Heights Road east of 5 Freeway