Saturday, June 30, 2012


 a woman

 a car

 an island.

"What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?—I wish I knew... Just staying on it, I guess, as long as she can..."
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Act 1

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Monday, June 25, 2012


Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

a true life novel.
"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did."

Lily Casey Smith...

mustang breaker,



poker player,

racehorse rider,



 ranch wife,

And author's grandmother.

NY Times Review

Sunday, June 24, 2012


watchin' a stretch of road, miles of light explode
driftin' off a thing I'd never done before
watchin' a crowd roll in. out go the lights it begins
feelin' in my bones I never felt before

people always told that bars are dark and lonely
and talk is often cheap and filled with air
sure sometimes they thrill but nothin' could ever chill
like the way they make the time just disappear

feelin' you are here again, hot on my skin again
feelin' good a thing I'd never known before
what does it mean to feel, millions of dreams come real
a feelin' in my soul I'd never felt before

and you always told me
no matter how long it holds, if it falls apart
or makes us millionaires, you'll be right here forever
we'll go through this thing together
and on heaven's golden shore we'll lay our heads

(my morning jacket, golden)

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Yesterday, I took an amazing tour of ECHO'S Global Village Farm, located in N. Fort Myers, Florida. ECHO, or Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, is committed to fighting world hunger through innovative options, agricultural training, and networking with community leaders and missionaries in developing countries. 

lowlands //nursery

The demonstration farm teaches non-governmental workers, missionaries, and food growers hands-on, affordable, and sustainable farming techniques that can then later be applied in developing countries. The tour gives you a small glimpse of the many challenges families face growing food in extreme and harsh conditions due to terrain, climate, and economic circumstances.

wick & tire gardens
intern // rice paddies

The farm, divided into six areas including tropical monsoon climates, semi-arid tropics, tropical highlands, tropical rainforest, hot humid lowlands, and urban gardens, is managed by an agricultural intern who spends one year cultivating, harvesting, and researching numerous crops. The seeds from these plots are then packaged and shipped overseas as potential new food crop. 

bamboo // banana tree
mature maringa tree // maringa seed pod

Considered The Miracle Tree, the Moringa is a wonder plant that not only thrives in extreme conditions but is also highly nutritious, and one crushed seed can purify two liters of water, killing 95% of the bacteria it.

mango // banana
biogas // bread oven

ECHO experiments with and creates models for Appropriate Technology, which refers to simple technologies made from local or recycled materials that are appropriate to the technical skills and income level of a given community. These innovations can not only improve living conditions but  also generate much needed income. Some examples includes biogas, the process of turning cow manure into gas for cooking or lights, water pumps and purifiers, improved cook stoves and ovens, and solar food dryers. 

duck coop // fish and duck pond

Man-made fish and duck ponds provide families with food source. Ducks on the farm release solid wastes into the pond through the slats of their coop, stimulating the growth of algae, which in turn provides food for the Tilapia fish. ECHO teaches how the integration of animals into farming activities is beneficial in multiple ways.


Even though the farm is meant to be purely utilitarian, you can't help but admire all the beauty around you. 

sunflower // bamboo
geiko // pink hibiscus
lily pond // grasshopper

Friday, June 22, 2012


a woman

a car

an island.

"When we talked, I talked about me, you talked about you, when we should have talked about each other." - michel poiccard

À bout de souffle

Thursday, June 21, 2012


ph//nomadic songbird
A good friend phoned me yesterday needing a wee bit of encouragement, something we can all use now and again. She was recently laid off from her job, and although she tried to see the up side of a bad situation, the reality of everyday living expenses can cause even the most confident of us to second-guess ourselves. The truth is, when it comes to job security, there are no guarantees - with or without a bum economy. The prospect of changing careers at 30, 40, or even 50, can be overwhelming. No one wants to ever have to scramble for a job, especially when you were shortly expecting to reap the fruits of your labor.

Luckily, my friend does have a plan. For several years, she's been toying with the idea of a career in occupational therapy or nursing, both good options with her background, even if the necessity for additional schooling is daunting. But I know she can do it. As long as she doesn't talk herself out it, which we all know from personal experience is easy to do. Sometimes, too much thinking can be detrimental to not only our dreams but also our chance of succeeding. My motto is 'less thinking, more doing.' Why talk yourself out something before it's had a chance to take seed? Also, surround yourself with supportive, positive, and ambitious people. Maybe even younger people; they haven't lost their belief in possibilities. Success is contagious, and often the impetus we need to jump-start our own motivation to try something new or different. Just remember that anything is possible as long as you're willing to work for it and believe you can succeed.

There's nothing like delicious and creamy buttermilk pie to make you feel better. Here's a recipe I modified for a small batch or mini pie. It's not always a good idea to have an entire pie around. This is another recipe for a 9-inch buttermilk pie.

Old-Fashioned Mini Buttermilk Pie
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt
3 tablespoon shortening
3 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon ice water, more or less
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
pinch ground nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in butter and shortening until mix resembles coarse meal with pea-sized butter pieces remaining. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, mix with fork. Knead a couple of times, divide dough into two disk. Wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven 350º F. To make filling, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, beat well. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Take out one of the dough disk. Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll out into a 7" round. Place in 5-inch diameter ramekin dish. 
  4. Pour filling into crust. 
  5. Place on baking dish to catch spill-over. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Makes 2-3 servings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I recently found this painting at a thrift shop for $4. You know that feeling when something unexpectedly clutches at, squeezes, or stops your heart for a millisecond because it connects with you on a deeper level you can't explain? As if, on some subconscious level you instinctively recognize that item as belonging to you? That's how I felt when I saw this painting. You see, that house in the painting is the one I see in my head when I imagine the New England house the hero of my novel lives in. The house filled with mystery and magic. Except, I didn't know it until I saw it come to life in this painting. And it's not the first time this has happened to me.

About 7 years ago, when I first to moved to L.A., I was at Goodwill when a painting caught my attention just as I was leaving the store. Like the above painting, it was the color palette that initially caught my eye. Except, unlike the soothing blues of the above painting, this canvas was splashed with stark red. Something compelled me to walk back to the container piled with throw-away prints, busted up frames, and amateur paintings. And when I picked up the bright red and black painting that had beckoned me from afar, it turned out to be a portrait of a beautiful black woman. A woman I instantly recognized as the leading lady of my screenplay, the one I'd been writing on and off for several years. And when I turned the painting over, a name was written on the back of the canvas, my character's name, Lola. Coincidence? Maybe. Providence? Possibly. A sign meant just for me? Definitely.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


 Let the cobbler stick to his last. (idiom, proverb) - Do not advise someone in matters outside your area of expertise.
Picking through some of the mystery boxes in my parent's garage, I found several vintage recipe pamphlets. One of them was missing the cover but flipping through the pages I realized each of the included recipes called for Make Your Own Mix, a make-ahead fat-flour mix stored until needed. The recipe is as follows:

Make Your Own Mix
Yield: About 13 cups
2 cups hydrogenated shortening
9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup baking powder
  1. Combine sifted flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir well. Sift into a large bowl or a large pan or onto heavy paper. 
  2. Add shortening. Use finger tips or pastry blender to distribute shortening throughout dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse corn-meal. 
  3. Store in a closed canister on shelf.
 Here's a recipe for cherry cobbler from that same recipe pamphlet.

Cherry Cobbler
1 cup Make Your Own Mix (do not pack)
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter or margarine
3/4 cup juice from canned unsweetened pie cherries
2 cup (No. 2 can) drained pie cherries
  1. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, butter and juice from cherries. Cook until thickened. Add cherries. 
  2. Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole. Place in oven at 450º F about 10 minutes. 
  3. Blend MIX and 1 tbsp sugar. Add milk to form a soft dough. Drop spoonfuls onto the heated fruit mixture. 
  4. Return to hot oven. Bake 15 minutes longer. 
 And a Tender-Quick Pastry recipe:

Tender-Quick Pastry
Yield: two 8-inch crusts
2 cup Make Your Own Mix (do not pack)
1/4 cup hot water (scant)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  1. Heat butter in water until melted. Sprinkle over the MIX blending with a spatula or fork. 
  2. Turn dough out on waxed paper. Shape in a ball and cover with the paper. 
  3. Chill at least 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  4. Roll out for pastry as needed.   

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Dad, 1963
It's been years since I've celebrated Father's Day in person with my dad. This year I'm lucky enough to be in town, so this morning I fixed him his favorite breakfast, biscuits and gravy, and tonight I'm taking him to the Farmer's Market Restaurant for pig knuckles. Yes, I know, I had the same reaction but when a Southern man has a craving it's not necessarily for steak and potatoes...

My dad grew up in the South with five younger brothers and a sister. His family is originally from Plymouth, North Carolina. Dad joined the military when he was 17 years old (although we suspect he may have only been 16.) At 39, he retired from the military to attend law school. At the time he was teaching at West Point Academy. He continues to practice law in Fort Myers, Florida.

My Parents, 1966
My parents, Robert and Song, met in 1963. At the time, my father was stationed in Seoul, Korea and my glamorous mother worked for the National Tourism Agency. My parents only dated for about 4-5 months before he got his orders to go to Stuttgart, Germany. Before he left he wrote to my mother's father with his intention to marry her. After a long meeting (interrogation) with all the males in her family, my father accomplished the near impossible and was given their approval pending his return. They were apart for the next two years, and even though they were unsure of their future together, my parents continuously wrote one another love letters. I found them once, bundled in a silk scarf. When my father received his next orders, it was for Taiwan. During his month-long leave in January of 1966, he flew to Korea and married his sweetheart. They celebrated their 46th Wedding Anniversary this year.

Happy Father's Day! xxoo


losing the star without a sky
losing the reasons why
you're losing the calling that you've been faking 
and I'm not kidding

it's damned if you don't and it's damned if you do
be true 'cause they'll lock you up in a sad, sad zoo
oh, hidy, hidy, hidy what cha tryin' to prove
by hidy, hidy hiding you're not worth a thing

sew your fortunes on a string and hold them up to light
blue smoke will take a very violent flight
and you will be changed and everything
and you will be in a very sad sad zoo

I once was lost but now I'm found
was blind but now I see you
how selfish of you to believe in the meaning
of all the bad dreaming

metal heart, you're not hiding 
metal heart, you're not worth a thing
metal heart, you're not hiding 
metal heart, you're not worth a thing 

(cat power, metal heart

ph// via pinterest

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I don't usually buy prepackaged pies but I was tempted by the cutest display of mini pies at Walmart. These 4 oz Old Fashioned Pies came in flavors of cherry, blueberry, apple, lemon, and pecan. My folks are suckers for pies so for .68 cents a piece, we took three home. I tried a bite of the cherry and it was surprisingly good, the crust flaky and tender and the filling a real taste of cherry in each scrumptious bite.

Friday, June 15, 2012


a woman

a car

 an island.

"I've noticed the more we doubt, the more we cling to a false lucidity, in hope of rationalizing what feelings have made murky." - camille javal

Le Mépris

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"So much to do, so little done, such things to be."

Elizabeth Taylor. Simply gorgeous.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


"Even in the movies people like pies; but here our concern is with pastry to be eaten, not tossed at comedians. It is saddening instead of funny that, in homes as well as in restaurants, the great American yearning for pie is so often thwarted by pastry that armorplates a delicious filling. Sometimes the cruel crust is of the anemic variety, pale, underbaked, in need of a little healthy oven-tan. Or it may be of the cardboard type, thick and doughy, of unappealing texture and lacking in flavor because it has been cheated on shortening. Or it may be tough and leathery, requiring main force to pry it apart. In the last case the cook has used too much water, or worked so hard in mixing that the eater must work, too. In happy contrast, a good pastry is tinted golden brown, with a blistered surface. It is light, crisp, and flaky, tender enough to break easily, but not so tender that it crumbles when cut. Undercrusts should never resist the fork, but neither should they be soggy absorbers of filling. This high standard is achieved by combining ingredients in the proper proportions, by chilling and careful handling of the dough and by watchful baking. Recipes which follow were carefully tested to give you the best of many methods, but in no other baking is your own manipulation of materials so important as it is in pastry-making."   - from the pages of Woman's Home Companion Cook Book
Flour, salt, shortening and water are the basic ingredients of pastry. One cup of sifted all-purpose flour to 1/3 cup of shortening is the proportion which gives the ideal crust if manipulation and baking are correctly done. The proportion of flour to shortening can make the difference between a crisp tender flaky crust and those that fall short of this ideal. Too little shortening makes a thick doughy crust; too much makes a too-delicate crust. With too little water the dough will be crumbly and will not hold together when rolled; with too much it will be sticky and hard to roll, and as the proportion of water is increased the finished pastry will be increasingly tough. About 3 tablespoon of water to 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup of shortening is the correct proportion.

Correct mixing is as important as proportions of ingredient. The flour and salt should be mixed and the shortening cut in with a pastry blender or two table knives. Cutting the shortening in very thoroughly gives a tender crust, cutting it in coarsely a flaky one; the manipulation described under plain pastry suggests that half of the shortening be cut in until the mixture resembles corn meal - this for tenderness; and the remaining half be cut in only until the particles of fat are about the size of navy beans  - this for flakiness.

The water should be sprinkled a little at a time over the surface of the flour and fat mixture, then blended by pressing the wet particles of flour together and tossing them to one side while a dry portion is sprinkled. Never use a stirring motion. The tines of the fork rather than a spoon should be used for this purpose.

When the dough has all been moistened it should be gathered together in a ball with fork or fingers, then pressed together, avoiding a kneading motion. An easy way to do this is to turn the dough out on a piece of waxed paper, rap it up and press. 

Too much mixing or too much handling after the water has been added makes a tough crust with a  smooth pale surface. 

The dough may be rolled out immediately or it may be chilled before rolling. Chilling helps to make a flakier pastry. Care should be taken, however, not to overchill it, especially if it is put into a mechanical refrigerator. Twenty minutes to a half-hour should be enough.

Deft, light strokes of the rolling pin and not too much flour on the board are essential. Place a ball of pastry dough on a board lightly floured to prevent sticking. A correctly mixed pastry may still be turned into a tough streaked doughty crust by letting it take up too much flour from the rolling board.  A pastry cloth or heavy canvas cover for the board and a stockinet cover for the rolling pin take all the risks out of rolling pastry. 

Roll quickly and lightly, always from the center out, until the dough is about an eighth of an inch thick. As the rolling pin approaches the edge of the dough on each stroke, it should be lifted, never rolled on over the edge. Rolling over the edge makes the edge too thin, hence gives it a tendency to split. Any split that does  occur should be pinched together before the rolling is continued.

If the dough sticks to the board it should be loosened with a spatula slipped under it and a little flour sprinkled on the spot. The dough should be lifted frequently during the rolling, but should not be turned over. 

Panning Piecrust
When the dough has been rolled to a shape and size to fit the pan in which it is to be baked, fold it in half and lift it carefully into the pan, with the fold in the center.

Unfold the dough and fit it loosely into the pan, taking care to make it fit snugly into the seam where the sides and bottom of the pan join. Stretching the dough in the pan will make the pastry shell shrink during baking. When the dough fits properly, pat it all over its surface to eliminate any air pockets underneath - a little ball of dough is useful for this. Then the edges should be cut according to the kind of pie. 

Pastry Shell
Prick the pastry shell with a fork to allow the escape of any air between crust and pan. Bake on the upper shelf of an oven preheated to 450º F to set the edges quickly and prevent the shell from shrinking. Transfer to the lower shelf of the oven after the crust is set if the edges are in danger of getting too brown before the rest of the crust is baked. 

If the shell bulges during the first moments of baking despite the preliminary pricking, prick it again and it will lie flat. Once the pastry has set it will not bulge.

Another way to prevent bulging is to place a second pie pan of the same size inside the pastry-lined pan  - or a double layer of dried beans will hold the pastry flat. The pie pan or beans should be removed before the shell is fully baked to allow the bottom to crisp. 

Filled Pies
Pies filled before baking should be baked on the lower shelf of an oven preheated to 425º F to allow the filling to cook through before the crust is too brown. Brushing the top of a double-crust pie with milk or diluted egg yolk will give it a rich brown color when baked.

The greatest problem in baking pies with a soft filling, such as custard, pumpkin, and fruit, is the prevention of a soggy undercrust. The methods which work best with the least trouble are the following:

Custard Pies// Have the shell thoroughly chilled before putting in the filling. Have the filling hot and put it in the shell at the last moment before the pie goes into the oven.

Fruit Pies// Mix the flour and sugar in the proportions recommended in the individual recipes. Spread half of this mixture over the bottom of the pastry-lined pan. Add the fruit and sprinkle the remainder of the flour-sugar mixture on top. The flour and sugar under the fruit catches the juices of the fruit as they run out and thickens them before they are soaked up by the pastry.

Standard Pastry
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening, chilled
6 tablespoons cold water, more or less
  1.  Sift flour; measure; add salt and sift again. 
  2. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in half of the shortening thoroughly or until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Cut in remaining shortening coarsely or until particles are about the size of peas.
  3. Sprinkle water, 1 tablespoon at at time, over small portions of the mixture; with a fork press the flour particles together as they absorb the water; do not stir. Toss aside pieces of dough as formed and sprinkle remaining water over dry portions; use only enough water to hold the pastry together. It should not be wet or slippery. Press all together lightly with the fingers or wrap dough in waxed paper and press together gently. Bear in mind that the less the dough is handled the more tender and flaky the pastry will be. Chill dough.
  4. Roll out as directed above. Makes two 9-inch pastry shells, one 9-inch two-crust pie or eight to ten 4-inch tart shells. 

Monday, June 11, 2012


The Rabbitsons, alena beljakov
I'm sort of obsessed with white rabbits. I can't out figure out if it's a recent thing or if rabbits have always held a certain kind of fascination for me. As a child we kept a couple of pet bunnies. One day they just mysteriously disappeared. And who could blame Alice for falling down the rabbit hole? Ever since the release of Fatal Attraction, one of my favorite expressions is, "bunny boiler." And the sight of a bobbing head rabbit on a car dashboard will steal a smile from me. I've also been collecting images of strangers wearing rabbit masks for years. They're unsettling and intriguing at the same time. Here are some rabbit related items that have previously caught my interest...

1//Hugs-a-porcupine origami rabbit pin.

2//Handmade bobbing head rabbit from Japan. 

3//The Rogue and the Wolf stainless steel bunny ears ring.

 4//Hand carved bunny ears stamp.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


hazel, dirty-blond hair
I wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with you anywhere
you got something I want plenty of
ooh, a little touch of your love

hazel, stardust in your eye
you're goin' somewhere and so am I
I'd give you the sky high above
ooh, for a little touch of your love

oh no, I don't need any reminder
to know how much I really care
but it's just making me blinder and blinder
because I'm up on a hill and still you're not there

hazel, you called and I came
now don't make me play this waiting game
you've got something I want plenty of
ooh, a little touch of your love

(bob dylan, hazel)

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Today is strawberry-rhubarb pie day! Although, to be honest I haven't seen any rhubarb around. I'm not sure it's even in season . That's the funny thing about these official pie days, the fruit being celebrated is never quite in season. Oh well, I'll save this recipe for when I can actually find rhubarb. If you have better luck than myself, try the below recipe I found at KCRW's Good Food. I swapped out their all-lard crust for an all-butter crust.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs rhubarb (about 5 cups), ends trimmed, outer layer peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot*
pinch salt
1 1/2 lb strawberries (about 5 cups), hulled and quartered
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb has shed most of its liquid but is still firm, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and cool in fridge.
  2. Remove one of the dough disks from the fridge. Roll out on a lightly floured surface or between two pieces of plastic wrap to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, trim the dough but leave a slight overhang. Refrigerate until needed.
  3. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on it, and preheat oven to 500º F. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup of sugar, the arrowroot and salt. In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, cooled rhubarb, vanilla and orange zest. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top and stir to combine. Spoon the fruit evenly into the pie shell and pack lightly. 
  5. Roll out the second dough disk to a 12-inch circle and place over the filling. Trim the edges of the top and bottom dough layers to 1/2-inch beyond the pan lip. Tuck this rim underneath itself so that the folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute the edges. Cut slits in the dough top. If the pie dough is very soft, place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Brush the top of the crust with the egg white and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. 
  6. Place the pie on the hot baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425º F. Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pie and lower the oven temperature to 375º F; continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer. Cool the pie on a wire rack until room temperature, 3-4 hours, before serving. 
*If you don't have arrowroot on hand, you can make the following substitutions:
1/4 cup quick-cooking (pearl) tapioca // Note: Not recommended with lattice or open crust pies as it remains hard when exposed to the hot air of the oven. Always mix the thickener with the sugar first to prevent lumps, then add fruit. Let the filling mixture stand for at least 15 minutes before spooning into the pie crust. This allows for more efficient thickening.

Flour //Note: Rule of thumb is about 1/3 cup of flour to each quart of fruit, but each recipe varies. As well as sprinkling the flour directly on the cut fruit, but be sure to sprinkle an extra tablespoon of flour on the bottom of the crust before pouring in the filling which helps thicken the fruit juices that seep to the bottom when cooking.

Cornstarch //Note: It has twice the thickening power of flour, but also imparts a slightly starchy taste. This is why you should precook a cup of the fruit with the cornstarch before baking the pie.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


There's something intriguing about vintage photo booth strips. You can't help but wonder who these folks were, what their lives were like, if they were happy, sad, in love, heartbroken...

Check out these series of photographs titled, Auto-Portrait, by Yoko Kanayama. Between 1996 -2000 she took a series of head-to-toe self portraits in a photo booth at her local drugstore. Pretty amazing.

ph//walter plotnick//mwaterslide

Yoko Kanayama