Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Tasty Crusts

Last Thursday was Pie Day.

At a school in City Heights, where I teach a Cooking/English class to a group of adult refugees.

We had spent a few weeks focusing on different types of fruit and I kept blurting out comments like 'these blueberries would make a nice pie' or 'apples are great in a pie' - only to look up at blank faces.

Seems that none of the students had tasted pie or heard of pie or knew what I meant by pie.

Time to fix that.

Hence, Pie Day.

I baked and brought the following: 2 apple, 2 key lime, 1 peach-blueberry.

Teacher Harla brought 2 cherry pies.

We were swimming in pies.

Pie Day was a success (as shown below). With ice cream on top. And candied lime peels to gild the lily.

I don't often make a graham cracker crust but it works very well with key lime.

Try adding 1/2 cup of slivered almonds to the graham cracker/butter combo before pressing into the pie plate. Adds a really nice crunch and texture.

On Monday, pie was the centerpiece again.

At our Memorial Day barbecue.

Used this recipe from Joy the Baker and gave it high marks.

Fabulous crust that uses a bit of apple cider vinegar.

What are you waiting for, go bake a pie today!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Poetry Flowers

I think it was about ten years ago that I took a Writing for Children class at UCSD.

To provide motivation to pick up my pen.

Figuratively speaking, as I did all my work on a laptop.

I wasn't particularly interested in the genre but the time of the class fit into my schedule and any writing leads to more writing which leads to better writing. Once you get started.

It was in that class that I had the good fortune to meet a very talented student.

Who remains a close friend to this day.

She went on to teach memoir writing among other creative pursuits (acting, singing and so forth) and a few years ago decided to go back to school.

In June, she will graduate with an MFA in Poetry.

Which is impressive in and of itself.

But add to the fact that she turned 79 a few weeks ago and the awesome factor quadruples.

So Saturday night we celebrated the grand occasion and gifted her with a bouquet of flowers.

Long-lasting poetry flowers.

I got the idea from this website.

Personalizing the bouquet by using a book of poetry. And don't get me started on the horrified look on the gal at Book Tales in Encinitas when she realized I was buying a precious (used) book in order to rip it apart and cut out petals.

Brewed a strong pot of tea (called pu'er that we brought back from China) to soak the pages and provide an antique tint. The Chinese tea was a nod to the recipient's Chinese heritage.

Dipped pages can be dried outside. Or for quick results, place in oven on lowest setting and keep an eye as they will 'crisp' up quickly.

To keep it fancy, black floral tape (ordered from Amazon) was used to wrap each stem.

Black ribbon to adorn the vase.

Each flower is unique because they are individually made but it was fun to wrap some buds tightly (as if they had not quite bloomed) and others more open and blossomed. It added a nice variety.

The possibilities to customize a paper arrangement are endless.

Pages from a cookbook for an aspiring chef, old maps for a world traveler, etc.

Have fun, be creative.  And celebrate those that inspire you!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Dust Devil Nature Trail

It's open to the public.

They are still looking for volunteers (check it out).

16,000 plants have already been brought in this year. The uniformed gal told us, "The first year a native plant is in the ground is the most crucial to its development. It needs to get off to a good start."

Looking west from the trail is the 5 freeway, the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Pacific Ocean.

Short, flat trails.

One of the volunteers hard at work.

A rock is used to prop up many of the new plants (or protect them from wind?).

Drainage and buffers from potential runoff and erosion are prevalent.

Just a bit of color at this point.

Trail is on El Camino Real. East of the 5 Freeway.
Between Via de la Valle and Del Mar Heights exits.

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Lily Pond.
Pristine and newly planted.

In the background is the Botanical Building,
one of the largest lath structures in the world.

It houses over 2100 plants.
Collections of ferns, orchids, tropical plants and palms.

Quite remarkable.

But if I had to choose, I would be sitting on a bench.

On the periphery of the Lily Pond, contemplating life.

Enjoying the serenity.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Looking Up in May

This is not the best month for San Diego because of the marine layer. Fog and clouds. All that gray dampens the vibrancy of our city.

So when there is a sunny day.

Eyes shift skyward to all that blue.

Here are shots from Balboa Park, while I was looking up.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Japanese Friendship Garden

Balboa Park is vast.

Encompassing 1200 acres.

There is the zoo and the theaters and the museums and the trails.

And among all that grandeur are small delights....

Admission is free to local residents on the third Tuesday of the month.

Bamboo water feature.


Koi pond.

Light of Friendship.

Pomegranate tree.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Fire Escape

Along 9th Street in downtown San Diego.

Would have been easy to walk right by this building.

Had it not been for the fire escape.

Dressing up a rather ordinary building.

From many different angles.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Cafe Chloe

Have you ever received a present that was wrapped exquisitely but once opened it was rather disappointing?

A bit of a letdown.

The opposite is true of this 'where east village meets Paris chic' cafe.

The outside is lovely but does not begin to do justice to the treat that awaits you inside (and that is before you even get to the tres magnifique French food).

We sat in the loft.

Up the short staircase, in a tiny, cozy section of the cafe.

Tucked behind a short wall.

Light streaming in from the full length patio window below.

There was an array of tantalizing dishes on the menu and a charming server.

Ice tea came with simple syrup for sweetening.

Bacon, bacon, bacon - dressed up in a tart.

Pomme frites with a trio of dips - all delicious.

Crepes - filled with vegetables.

Cream and sugar presentation.

 Cafe Chloe is a treat for your eyes and your tastebuds!

Friday, 11 May 2012


And smell the flowers.

Or, in this case, just look at them.

There are 100 stops signs in Clairemont dressed up as flowers.

Yarn turned into street art.

Or rather stop sign art.

Knitted by a local.

A dad that took up needles and taught himself.

So he in turn could teach his daughter.

Here is a map if you want to check out an urban bloom.

Flower Map