Friday, 30 September 2011

Aunt Skip’s Gobs

A family recipe.

From the days when Crisco came in a can and folks weren’t afraid to bake with it.

This cookie contains all kinds of white stuff that nutritionists warn about.

Which means that you should only make them once in a great while. And then share with friends. Young friends. Those that don’t have any cardiac history or cholesterol issues.

That being said, head to the kitchen, whip up a batch --- they are delicious.

Aunt Skip's Gobs:

2 cups sugar
½ cup shortening (which is now sold in a stick just like butter)
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (which is milk mixed with one tablespoon of white vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup boiling water
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cocoa

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and shortening (for 4 minutes or so).

Add eggs, sour milk and vanilla and mix till combined. Add boiling water and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda, salt, powder and cocoa. Then add to mixing bowl containing rest of ingredients and mix well.

Spoon onto baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 8 minutes (depending on the size).

Cool completely.

Fluffy Icing


¾ cup white sugar
1 cup Crisco shortening
5 Tablespoons flour
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

With a paddle attachment, beat sugar and shortening (4 minutes or so).

Add flour, milk and vanilla and beat.

It will look a bit disgusting at first. Not to worry.

Just keeping beating away and it will eventually become light and fluffy.

Spread icing on one cookie and then place another cookie on top.

Take a bite. Or two. Or three.

And then cheer.

For Crisco.

And old-fashioned recipes with funny names!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Flat Rock


A physical barrier.

Between Black’s Beach to the south (a clothing optional section of the coast) and Torrey Pines State Beach to the north.

At low tide, it is apparent that Flat Rock is craggy.



Details usually hidden by the surf splashing over the surface.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Elizabethan Desserts

Sits under a bright red roof next to Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas.

They have a short-term parking space.

Which makes sense.

Buying seeds, mulch, herbs, hanging pots or perennials at the adjacent nursery involves wandering around. A certain amount of deliberation.

Bakery decisions can be quick.

Just buy the pie.

The mini lattice-topped cherry pie.

Because the cupcake decision-making process will require long-term parking.

Grasshopper, Strawberry Kiss, Lemony Lemonhead, Mr. Bean's Cup O' Joe, The Elvis, Diggity Dang, Chocolate Toffee, Rasmary's Baby and Cot-n-Kandy are just some of the choices!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Trading in My Dinosaur

“You are probably one of those people that should get the warranty.”

Since Joseph, from the Apple Store at UTC, was quite knowledgeable and personable I did not take offense.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“The kind of person that hangs on to their computers forever.”


My MacBook Pro was considered state-of-the-art when it was purchased five years ago.

But it seems that computers do not have much of a shelf life.

It’s not that I hadn’t noticed that age had crept in and reared its ugly head.

My mobile laptop became stationery awhile back when the internal battery stopped working and I needed to be near an outlet at all times.

In the past year, Safari unexpectedly closed all open windows on my desktop with no warning. A couple of times a week.

A hard boot has been needed to get out of many an endless loop brought on by viewing a video or using a random application.

Still, I hadn’t realized I was hanging on to a dinosaur.

So old that the software I currently have will not run on the computer that I have my eye on. Different operating software, don’t you know.

On the bright side, I will not have to give up my touch pad (to which I am addicted).

Only now it will be larger and detached from the keyboard.

Something to get used to.

Among other things.

Unless I want to continue to be one of those people.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Restaurant Week

Del Mar Plaza, heading towards FLAVOR.


More than 180 San Diego restaurants offered discounted prix fixe menus this week and it has been extended through September 30th.

This is the first year I have taken advantage of Restaurant Week.

Wanted to pick a restaurant (or two) that I hadn't tried before. Wanted dining companions that were willing to share.

I am two for two.

Tuesday night was a 3-course dinner at Avenue 5 in Banker’s Hill. Exposed brick, unusual lighting, has an East Coast vibe.

Three of us shared and nibbled on:

Roasted Beets & Wild Arugula (the beet ‘chips’ were amazing)
Heirloom Tomato with Burrata Cheese
Organic Kale Salad with Aged Parmesan (did not know it was possible to wring so much flavor out of kale with no hint of bitterness)

Sesame Crusted Samoan Tombo (was not familiar with this fish and the server aptly described it as a ‘white tuna’)
Achiote Rubbed Kurobuta Pork Loin (enhanced by the grilled peaches and pickled turnips, an odd but delicious combination)

Peach & Champagne Sorbet, Warm Banana Nut Bread Pudding, Ave 5 Flourless Chocolate Cake (all tasty but the sorbet provided spoonfuls of bubbly that were most appealing)

The wine pairing was worth the extra $20.

Thursday afternoon was a 2-course lunch at FLAVOR in Del Mar. Modern and open. Stark yet very comfortable.

Late afternoon inside FLAVOR.

My ‘foodie’ friend perused the menu and said, “Ok, here is what we need to do, split the appetizer, get our own entrees, and split a dessert. That way we can try more dishes.”

Trio of Local Heirloom Tomatoes (garden in a bowl with a dollop of basil pesto)

Grilled Flatbread with white bean purée, baby artichokes, kalamata olives, sweet peppers, arugula, frisée
Housemade Papardelle Pasta with roasted forest mushrooms, shaved san joaquin gold, white truffle oil (both entrees were good but the pasta was the hands-down winner)

Mud Pie (Chocolate Cream, Smoked Devil’s Food, Coffee Ice Cream) left a lasting impression and deserved a more exotic name.

Such fun to have a taste of Restaurant Week.

There is still time to make a reservation.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Vibrant Blooms

A splash of color on the patio brightens up an otherwise gray muggy day.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Art at Del Mar Post Office

Pays homage to a famous blown glass artist.

Local students created art from recyclables and hung them from trees.

And trellises.

Stood them in formation.

Accented with bright colors.

And changed discarded household products into something fresh and unrecognizable.

Mail a letter. Send a postcard. Buy some stamps.

But get yourself down to the post office to see what these kids have created.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Edwards Cinema San Marcos

Went there on Saturday to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Which is not my kind of movie but it wasn’t my turn to pick.

The place is large.

Features 18 screens, stadium seating, an old-school photo booth (where you step behind the curtain and make faces), a chance to screen trailers for upcoming movies and offer advice, concession stands and to keep you from running out of energy from the entrance all the way to your screen, there are candy dispensers along the way.

Okay, that is all pretty normal.

But here is the unexpected.

A digital scale in the restroom.

Just pop in a quarter and see (with precision) how much you weigh.

Are you kidding me?

Why would anyone have an urge to weigh himself or herself at a movie theatre?

Is the number going to be the deciding factor between the large popcorn or the small? Butter or no butter? Soda or water? Splitting the pack of red vines or getting your own box of candy?


By the by, enjoyed the movie, glad I went.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


We were on vacation in Paris ten years ago.

In a toy shop, looking for a souvenir for my nephew.

A customer, with a thick accent, made a comment about a plane in America that hit a building.


Must watch the news before heading out for dinner (for more escargot).

BBC World News.

Video and photos and reports.

Shocking and unreal.

Never left the room that night. Glued to the television screen. Watching in horror.

All flights were cancelled.

It would be a full week from our original ticket date before we got home.

In the meantime, a note of sympathy delivered from the hotel concierge.  Locals, who heard our American accent, respectfully commented on our loss.

A stack of flowers grew wider and taller in front of the American Embassy.

We walked there every day to stand and feel the connection.

Airport security at Charles de Gaulle was noticeably different for our departure.

Military presence. Dogs patrolling the area. Onboard we were handed a plastic knife and fork to eat our entrée, with apologies from the flight attendant.

In Dallas, it was eerie. Quiet. The terminal was practically empty as we rushed through additional security before catching a connecting flight. We were back on American soil but nothing felt familiar.

Our memories of 9/11 will always be slightly skewed.

Because of where we were and how we heard.

A national tragedy ever so slightly muted by distance.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


There is a Greek Festival in Cardiff this weekend.

At Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church on Manchester Avenue.

An opportunity to celebrate the culture.

Admire the bling.

Hit the links for only a buck.

Drink ouzo or listen to the band or learn some dance steps.

Get in line to sample baklava, karidopita, kataifi, diples and other pastries.

Pass by booths filled with sparkle – from jewelry to clothing to hand bags.

A $3 entrance fee for a quick trip to Greece.

Friday, 9 September 2011

San Diego Power Outage

It happened yesterday afternoon at 3:30-ish.


The lights went out.

And everything else that required electricity.

It was abrupt.

Followed by a notable silence.

And a moment to wonder “is it just my workplace?”

Or will I step outside and see that it is far-reaching.

Which it was.

The commute home was horrendous. Traffic lights were out. Cars took turns, one by one, crossing the wide intersections.

Although the freeway wasn’t crowded (at least going south), the off ramps were backed up for quite a distance.

Once home, the automatic garage door wouldn’t open.

By 6:30 our landline was dead.

Kids played in the street until it was pitch black.

Windows and sliding doors were opened to circulate air and cool things off.

Candles and flashlights were gathered.

Used a battery-operated bike light to read a book.

Took a quick drive in the neighborhood to see….


But the full moon.

And what was directly in front of our headlights.

By morning the power was back on.

Kids were back in the street because school was cancelled and many workplaces are dealing with the aftermath such as getting servers up and running.

Almost back to normal.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


TOMS display at Nordstroms at UTC in La Jolla

In the life cycle of a product, there are four stages: introduction, growth, maturity and decline.

The target market is the early adopter.

Since TOMS shoes can be spotted EVERYWHERE (at least in San Diego), I have clearly missed that category.

Which is followed by early majority, late majority and laggards!

The salesman at Nordstroms in La Jolla said that they sell 300 pairs of Toms EVERY WEEK.

No surprise that the ones I want were sold out.

So I might have to go online to get my burlap shoes (far right).

Have you jumped on the TOMS bandwagon?

For every pair you buy, they donate a pair to a child in need.           

What an incredible mission statement and the shoes are really comfortable!

Friday, 2 September 2011

14 Karat Cake and Frosting

Dare you to find a better recipe for carrot cake.

This one is full of pineapple, coconut and walnuts.

With a surprise in the cream cheese frosting.

Pineapple juice.

Here is the recipe:

14 Karat Cake

2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups finely grated carrots
8-1/2 oz can of crushed pineapple (drained, reserved for frosting)
3-1/2 oz flaked coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts

Sift dry ingredients together (flour, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon) and mix well.

Add sugar, oil and eggs. Mix well. Add carrots, pineapple, coconut and nuts.

Blend thoroughly.

Pour into two 9-inch round layer pans that have been greased and floured.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.


½ cup butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb. box powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar, gradually. Then thin with a bit of pineapple juice (that was reserved from cake recipe) until desired consistency.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Idina Menzel at the Salk

On Saturday night there was a fundraiser at the Salk Institute in La Jolla.

The plaza between the tall towers was dressed up in sparkles and lights and round tables in front of a massive stage. No photography was allowed.

The entertainment was Broadway Star Idina Menzel backed by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

She came out in a long flowing yellow strapless gown and sang hits from Wicked, Rent, Annie and even a few lullabies that she and her husband, actor Taye Diggs, made up for their 2-year old son Walker.

Sitting directly across from her (albeit two stories up on the North Tower balcony) offered a perfect view of her profile. It was a bit like being behind-the-scenes.

Don’t know if it was more fun listening to her belt out a range of songs (from Poker Face to Roxanne) or watching the interplay between her and the sound engineer.

It was wildly amusing trying to decipher her sign language. Even the obvious ‘thumbs up’ signal was likely indicative of ‘pump up the volume’.

Fun night from a fascinating vantage point!