How a Road Trip Comes to Be...

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Thing is, Baja is just so, so, so easy.

A pal just got back from San Fran - first words?  It's FREEZING up there.  I just got back from mainland Mexico - first words from others - "Wow, you are so tan."  Difference is - cold vs hot at this time of year is crucial to my happiness.  Even in LA, it's can get chilly, especially come nighttime on a boat.  And, I just don't dig the cold - I will never say that enough.

I was driving down PCH the other day to my fave gas station that I head to when I have a jones to hit the road to Baja but simply cannot...and I noticed that Dockweiler was empty of most Rv's.  Probably all headed south to AZ or Mexico cause that's what I'd do when the temp dips below 60.  

So, I got all fired up - back on the Baja train again..it just haunts me cause like I said, it's so easy.  So very easy to load up Minka, pack a bag, hop in the truck and just go.  In a few hours, you're across the border with a marg in hand and a killer lobster lunch.  The possibilities are endless...and no real reservations need to be made.

Every glance off the side of the road = a new possibility for exploration, like the funky trailer park I discovered on the beach just an hour south of the border.  We didn't stay there (we were headed all the way to Todos), but man, the spy thriller than could be written in one of these tiny little shacks.  Fog rolling in, distant bark of a dog, not a soul around.  EEEEEE!!!!

Time to re-up my Mexico truck insurance cause I feel a bolt on the make. EEEEEE!!!  But, I'm gonna try very hard to reign it in...there is business to be done here on the homefront and I'm diggin' it so Baja will have to wait, but soon...very soon, my outlaw friend!

In other news - I will post some great times from Casa de Mita that I had last week (Madison the pup is doing AMAZING), and some other things on the make...PLUS finally about to move on to a new slate of projects after being stone cold obsessed with these 2 shows we produced last winter finally being wrapped up this week, which means we pitch soon!  Super duper excited about both of them and can't wait to put them to bed and clear up some brain space.

I have also discovered the most amazing home delivery CSA called Farm Box LA and I've been making all kinds of good stuff from their amazing produce selection. I can't get over how awesome it is to have everything delivered on a Sunday - I no longer have to leave home...which is kinda scary, but wonderful all at once!  More on that soon, as well - cause this CSA is worthy of a full writeup.

Meanwhile, it's time to oder Indian.   Akbar is just calling my name on this bone chilling eve.

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Tiny House Blog - Truly a Gem for Small Homes with Spunk

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I love this blog...

Tiny House Blog is super informative, super engaging and just a mighty good read.  I've been following them for years...and they've covered me and my endeavors several times (thank you!).  So, it's no surprise they would write about the FLO for a recent post.  Lots of good vibes and words, but man...It's Always Real Interesting When You Read the Comments.  I just had to post back at the end of reading them all.  The product placement and 4th World Love comments did me in!

Here is the link to their write up on the FLO.

Enjoy...and for real, if you get a minute, do dig thru Tiny House Blog.  It's just a wonder to behold how folks strive to live these days...I'd say, myself included.


And The Man Brought Lobster

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What a magical world we live in...

We were just about to sit down to lunch on the Flo the other day with a nice glass of pinot (crazy delish tuna niciose along with some Puy lentils with burrata and basil oil - these lentils are the best nuggets ever cause they dont turn to mush when cooked), when over pops my diver.  He has some cool ideas he wanted to share about the wine hatch in the middle of the living room floor and since he's motoring around the marina all day on his dinghy...well, it's easy to just jet on by on a boat.

Anyhow...we catch up, brainstorm a bit, talk about his little mini farm here in the marina, and I just happen to mention that it's spiny lobster season.  He's like - oh, do you like lobster and I'm like - ummmmmm, for sure LOVE IT.  Well, that turned into him leading us over to his dink all non-chalant and opening up the lid to a big fat mess of lobsters he'd just dove for that AM down in Redondo.  YAHOO!   Now, I've never cooked a live lobster, but it was high time to learn.   

First off (as per Nigel the Diver), we tossed him in the freezer for a minute while we gathered our thoughts and knives.  Stunned him a bit, I'm sure.  Next up, the grill was fired up and some garlic butter got to being shook down on the stove (thanks Robin for the fresh garlic from the garden)!  Minka was already drooling and she didn't even know what the hell was happening yet.  A fresh glass was poured and the par-tay began.

Out came the just sharpened butcher knife and with a quick stab thru the eyes and a long slow slit down the entire body...welp, we had ourselves a dead lobster to clean.  Once scrubbed, we smeared it with loads of the bubbly butter concoction, double fisted squeezes of fresh lemon, and just tossed it on the grill for about 10 min.  

SO SO SO SO amazing.  Next day, the leftovers turned into a delightful mayo and celery laced lobster roll piled high on a butter toasted whole grain hot dog bun.  Funny, silly, sunshiney magical world.  Thank you mama ocean, and thank you saint Nigel.  

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Flora Farm - The Trip of a Lifetime for Foodies in Baja

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Here's the latest from this months issue of Baja Bound!  

Flora Farms - The Trip You Must Make in 2014

If there is one trip that should be on your radar in the upcoming months, it’s absolutely got to be to the magical estate that is Flora Farms. This dreamlike culinary institute is tucked way beyond the edge of a dirt road on the cusp of San Jose del Cabo and is truly a taste of the good life. Celebs and locals both rave about it...now I can finally say, I know why.

It was my 40th birthday and you better believe I was hell bent on spending it somewhere unreal. I’ve been reading about Flora Farms for a spell now – in my farm-to-table quest that takes me all over the back roads of Baja - but to be able to spend my big 4-0 birthday there was a treat that was to become legend in my soul. How often have you ever said that about a restaurant experience? It makes me realize how far I’ve come in all the years I’ve spent traipsing the Baja. If I want it, I go find it. And, the Baja allows it and serves it straight up. Period.

We arrived for lunch – which was cool by me. Fresh off the road from Loreto via an overnight in Todos Santos, this was to be a meal fit for kings before hauling back up to Loreto that same day. My dog was welcomed with friendly coos and a big bowl of water, along with some mega hard playtime with the scads of rescue dogs that race around the front grounds greeting everyone with huge toothy smiles and can-you-believe-I-hit-this-jackpot energy.

I did the Cinderella swirl the minute I walked into the open air seating area, mimicking the dogs knowing ‘tudes. Holy moly! Talk about a way of life; let me put it this way, in these words to all foodies (and non-foodies alike) out there. There will be no other experience in your culinary searches the world over that overwhelms like Flora does. None. 

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From the lush gardens (they grow everything on site), to the farm bar (finally, true mixology drinks in the lower sphere of Baja), to the catch-all farmers market (all produce picked that morning), to the straight-out-of-a-magazine design of the culinary cottages, to the open grounds (my dog went nuts when she saw her first turtle), to the set up of the cooking workshop in the middle of the gardens (I would like to spend the rest of my life right there, or at least have my ashes spread) - Flora Farms enchants from every angle. The owners, Patrick and Gloria Greene, have concocted a fantasy world for anyone that has ever had a dream about opening their own restaurant or enjoying a good meal. The inspiration alone is shocking and dramatically different than anything one might think they know about food (or the serving and preparation of) before walking in.

We started with piles of just baked bread that made the taste buds quiver. As much as we tried to stop eating the nut and herb filled chunks of bread, it was impossible. We were stuffed before we even finished the basket, but that didn’t deter us. Out came a bowl of cucumber and almond gazpacho that holds strong in the top handful of dishes I’ve ever had...anywhere in the world. Poured tableside in a bowl smeared with smoked paprika, this chilled soup is nothing like the Spanish version you might be used to on a hot summer day. Instead, it’s as if a rural king broke bread with a world-renowned chef and they turned out this doozy after a leisurely day of poking about the garden with a bit of chilled Rosé in hand.

Next flew out a mountain of crispy French fries alongside a luscious croque madame, done right with the best ingredients found in all of Baja (shaved ham, gooey gruyere, olive and nut bread). This butter soaked sandwich with a fried egg up top could fill up two people, easy. In the same breath, a fat hill of housemade pasta appeared. The simplest of ingredients (flecks of parmesan and herbs, shaved carrots, a speck of cream) managed to equal a mess of moans from both of our mouths. Full as we were, oh well. Bring more drinks!

The final hit was a birthday carrot cake that we couldn’t possibly down in that seating. Our bellies were stuffed, we had a long ride back to Loreto and Minka (our dog) couldn’t stop drooling. But, don’t you know – ‘round about La Paz, we pulled over and wolfed that cream cheese frosted sweet treat in the span of about 30 seconds. A two-bite each whammy…after all, you only turn 40 once…and I’m a farm girl (read Baja gypsy) at heart.

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Fairhope, Alabama - I Finally Made it Thru

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After all these years...

Let me digress.  Many moons ago, me and my pals decided to do a TV show down in Yelapa, Mexico.  A demo tape of sorts.  We shot it and sold it to the Travel Channel and it eventually became, Craving Adventure (watch it here).  On the original shoot in Yelapa, we had a gal join us named Edie.  She was a shooter that offered to come down for free and film with us (of course we paid all expenses)...and she was always raving about this little spot in Alabama called Fairhope.  She had a rental house there and just went on and on about how it was the best small town ever.  Of course, my interest was high level cause I'm always on the hunt...and it's never managed to seep out of my memory.

Every single time I go home to TN, or think about bolting from LA, or daydream about a small coastal village to wind down in (on the USA side of things), I've always gone back to thinking of Edie and her love of this tiny town.  Even though I'd never been there...and rarely every saw anything on it in travel magazines...and knew next to nothing about it.  It's just stayed tucked way back in my nugget.

Well, this trip to TN (the epic 8 day road trip me and Lis just took across country before the holidays), I decided it was high time to hit up Fairhope - you know, cause you never know when one needs to bolt and begin anew.  We were fresh out of spending the night in another gem of a coastal village, Ocean Springs, MS, and were simply going swing through Fairhope for a look-see before cutting north to Chattanooga.  

Of course, several glasses of wine and some perfect Italian food later, we were hooked on this town.  Everyone pets your dog voraciously, the weather was super balmy, all the peeps were crazy friendly and happy, the shops were unique and full of treasures, there were big ole sweeping magnolias in the the plethora of parks, the coast was literally RIGHT THERE, and one could just imagine getting a wee cottage in Fairhope and making a go of it as a spy thriller writer.  Me and Lis kept looking at each other, saying, "I'm serious!  Are you serious??"

I will indeed make it back someday, but if anyone ever hops through this town headed points South East, well...hit up Pinzone's Italian.  It's worth it for the baked bread and their dog happy ways.  Not to mention the ragefully delicious lasagne with pesto.  I just can't quit thinking about the place.  And guess what our waitress had just done?  Left NYC and started over in Fairhope :).  Every road has a story.

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Why the Kitchen Matters Oh So Much...

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For starters, it makes any and every place feel like a home.

Pretty much everything shakes down in the kitchen.  If you aren't a cook, I hope you have friends who love to get messy behind the stove with a few drinks in hand cause it is the very best way to live.  To always have something brewing up on the stove or simmering away in the oven is a little piece of heaven to me.

The kitchen in the Flo is pretty small, but oddly perfect.  I can spin from stove to sink to fridge on a 3 point turn, with access to all my spices and cookbooks and drink elements within arms reach.  Minka can sprawl on one of her many rugs, resting patiently until a crumb of something delish flips her way, and anyone who wants can plop down at the tiny bar (with a drink in hand) and watch it all unfold or simply get involved.   We don't have a TV on floor 1, so it's all about the music (best thing ever - hidden speakers in every room) and the convo and the food.  I love finding serving platters and funky stuff to put food on.  Even the plates I got for the Flo are awesome.   All handmade and engraved with lace imprints and elephants and such.

My parents kitchen is the same way.  We start cooking about 4p - anything that suits our fancy (lots of soups, gratin's, salads...very homey stuff).  Last night, my mom had a fire burning outside, so we slung some potatoes on them.  I almost caught myself on fire using a little too much olive oil, but man...were they swoon worthy.  The dogs just lay about, on the watch for when the next stewpot is coming, and I'm lovin' the wine shop on the mountain cause I've been trying all kinds of new pinot noir's.  They have quite a special selection :)

When we were driving across country home to TN, I stopped in Austin to visit a way/way old friend from when I lived in Germany, and her husband had the house smelling all good with pork roast wrapped in bacon - guess where we all hung out?  The kitchen.  With 3 dogs, a ton of drink and a mess of memories...laughing til we cried.  Way better than going to a restaurant.

Even my condo in Chicago that I still have - I bought it cause a/it was on the lake and b/it had a perfect cottage kitchen - and at that time in my life, when I was traveling all over the world for shows...it was all about having something good to come home to.   I now have that on the Flo.  Plus, it's got a killer view!

And, let me put it this way, the meal I made on the Flo for Thanksgiving was just simply epic.  Not your typical Turkey day meal, but a little MST spin on it.  It all just makes me so so so happy. Chicken pot pie with a puff pastry crust; creamed kale and caramelized mushrooms made in a Japanese tagine of sorts; the house salad with dill buttermilk dressing; warm brussel sprout salad with bits of sweet bacon; and homemade cranberry sauce with pineapple of all things.  And of course, my moms banana pudding!

Guess what I'm trying to say...I just feel right at home in the kitchen - no matter who's it is.  Finally...a home...everywhere!  Turns out, it's not a specific place that's home.  It's a room that happens to span the globe.

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Flo living

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Just Some Neat Things

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And, it's all really the tip of the iceberg.

For my birthday, my bud Lis got me the BEST Scrabble board ever created.  We got to playing Scrab a ton this past year or so - started it in Indo at Alila with an few early afternoon old fashioned's and a long drawn out game before dinner...and it continued to dominate our days once we were back from Bali.  She had this board handmade (even the letters) and somehow, magically all the colors really brought together the little living room of the Flo.  It swivels and literally makes my day every time I see it (thinkin' about word ass-whoopin', I suppose).

Then, a random stranger who had read the LA Times article on the Flo dropped off a really sweet present - the artilces pix were fixed up nice in a lovely frame and delivered to me.  Who does that?  He was just delighted with the FLO and I def owe him a nice tour!

Best of all, in my quest to find a perfect little office, I found that my sailboat, Enola, works like a charm.  Its right next to Flo - perfect for Minka walks, drink replenishes, stirring the soup as needed and just generally a super fly set up to edit and write in.  Who needs 4 walls when you've got the Pacific?

And, I cannot wait to get home to do a mega rearrange on the Flo.  Gonna make the bedroom the great room for the SO CAL winter and my friends Nando and Bessie already did the flip for me (what would I do without them?).  Now, I gotta get home and mystify it...I love CHANGE!!!  I will def post pixs of all the little updates I'm planning for the winter and spring.  Dang, a whole new crop of plants are needed, as are new subscriptions, new idea boards, and just a mega life refresh.  'Sall good...

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A Dog's Life in Tennessee

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Stewpot Love

I've introduced my mom and dad's dog, DOC, to the wonders of stewpot and the ferocious 24/7 love of Minka.  They are peas in a pod no doubt.  

This stewpot is loaded with lots of good chicken, broth from the bones, bits of carrots, peels of potatoes, and chunks of celery that simmer all day long (meanwhile, I'm shovin' the french onion and chips mom just grabbed from the store).  The whole house smells like a real home all day long, and then the pups get a bit of stewpot, a bit of kibble and some broth.  Heaven.  

Minka runs from here to high heaven in the back 40 all day long.  She cannot believe the very fact that she can go outside the front door LEASHLESS.  She turns back - like WTF?  We let her and Doc out about a billion times a day and they already have a mega sked that keeps up with mom's.  She checks in on the dogs that the neighbor boards multiple times a day, which means that Doc and Pea must check in as well.  They are the best of friends.

All over the yard are wild mushrooms and some kind of wild garlic we tossed in Lisa's spaghetti resides next to the wee house in the pet cemetery. Earlier today, I discovered a pile of huge onions growing out of the dirt.  Good Lord - it's homemade come to life in the hills of TN.  All dogs included :)

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A Bit About Why I Never Post Anymore

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Well, it's called a homemade life.

 

That's the reason why.  It's cause on a daily basis on the Flo, something homemade has to happen - and usually it's multiple elements in the kitchen. 

Typical day of cooking - some kind of delish soup (not just all fresh from the farmers market...but also there's gotta be shaved corn, roasted tomatoes, topside snipped basil, just made spicy chile oil); a nice sauced up old fashioned is usually somewhere in the mix; been rockin some really good breads - gluten free cornbread & flatbreads; and for real, who attempts homemade TOFU!  Oh, but I did it...and I fried em...and I honey'ed em...and it was just like New Orleans beignets!  And this was straight out of the Burma cookbook.  So easy & so good.  And from chickpea flour, no less.  Which I just happen to have laying around.

Then, the daily Food 52 email pops up with potato salad that must be made immediately (they use pickle juice and mayo, for the love); throw in the daily Remodelista email which gets me all jazzed out and reminds me to head over over to Gardenista for the daily doins'; cut to Homeland is on and we've got a few eps of The Voice and SOA to catch up on; Lis pops in a text - she's got Nashville on her TIVO and a bit of homemade winter whisky on the make...so me and Pea stroll on down to her place for some good watchin'.  Oh right, still editing...but that's why I have insomnia - I can go to bed early (uh, sundown), wake up at 3 am and just get back to it in the pilot house.  But not before reading the latest issue of Garden & Gun.  Man, what an AWESOME magazine.  Soul of the south is right.

And, here's the kicker - I am for certain I'm gonna get every wilder with it in the new year.  I wanna make my own yogurt and cheese.  Rock some tinctures.  Dabble in way more breads and salad dressings (the house dressing is a kind of dill'ified ranch that is totally drinkable, but I'm gonna lighten things up a bit in the new year).  I need to pickle some shit.  Like everything.  Also - esp. since I managed to kill a no less than a few tubs of Mayfield's french onion dip and lots of bags of chips in a 24 hr timespan in TN, I've realized I might have a mayo problem.  So gonna try to make my own (mayo and french onion dip) and maybe I wont like it as much!  Highly doubt it, but why not.  Try it all!

Ok - back to editing.  For real.  I'm so close!

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Where to Begin After 2 Months Out?

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Might as well start with

the best fish tacos EVER on the new road to La Bufadora. 

How do I backtrack?  I used to be able to begin...again...and then I just got caught up. Life.

Well, I'm in one of my fave places in the world in Baja - on hard lockdown - but having a drink now and thinking about how it's time to share a bit.  So, here goes.

Shot 2 sizzles (sort of like a sales tape for TV) this past month - 2 totally different shows I hope/think will sell.  Editing now - this sort of thing takes MAD commitment and thought and creativity. Not many can relate - but those who can...I hope to see you soon.

Realized yesterday that I have been to Mexico 8 times since December 2012 and YET my Spanish is no better.  SHAME.  Also, realized my dog has been to Mexico more than most of my friends.  Wow.  Her Spanish is rock solid.

Well, damn.  What else? 

Lot's, but nothing - as all me and my fats say.  I really promise that I will get back to toothin'.  It's so hard to lay into a moment to get a post done - but now that I'm in MEX and gonna establish a real life routine, maybe it can come to be. 

My mom sends me pix of the PERFECT cornbread and amazingly fluffy cakes made in an AGA.  It makes me so, so happy.  I daydream about Mel and his funny way's that I long to replicate (he's my g/dad).  I try to every day be a little bit more like him - simple and sweet and real and happy and cozy and realiable and just plain wonderful.  Next to impossible to live up to.  But, I try. 

I have a billion pix that are great and tell a tale, but I'm smelling like Minka right about now and need to rinse and truly, begin...again...

Tacos\

BTW - at this moment, I am nowhere near the pix in this post and they really have nothing to do with anything except the fact that I LOVE MEXICO.

Also - here's the Sept post for my Baja Bound article. 

Click here:)