Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pier to Pier

2013 swim joel 36

I completed the Pier to Pier Swim from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach this year.

The photo looks like it might have been cold, because it was overcast that day, but in fact the water was 69 degrees. There were probably sharks around, but they didn’t bite anyone. The hardest part was getting out past the Hermosa Beach pier in a mob of people. Then you just keep going.

All those years of swimming back and forth in a pool were training for adventures like these.

Photo by Joel Gitelson

Spice and Simplicity

Chicken with seasoning, cauliflower with seasoning, peas

For Christmas, I received a generous gift crate of Penzeys spices (Thanks, Aunt in Acworth!)

I had heard of Penzeys before, and they have some stores in my area, but I had never tasted anything from there before.

The gift was a large box with three boxes inside it. Inside each of those boxes were four vials, plus some loose cinnamon sticks, nutmegs, and bay leaves.

The interior boxes were:
Grill and Broil
Baker’s Assortment
Cheese Seasonings

Since my boyfriend recently acquired a grill, I handed over the Grill and Broil box to him, to his great delight (and mine, as tasty morsels from the grill ensued on a weekly basis).

In the months since, I have experimented with the rest of the spices. I looked for some recipes online, but found fewer than I expected outside the Penzeys catalog, given how much people talk about these spices. The jars had some ideas on them, and each box had a little booklet of recipe ideas, so I started with those as inspiration.

I found that all the spices were nice and fresh, but since I have plenty of access to high-quality cocoa and cinnamon and so on elsewhere, what really differentiated Penzeys from other vendors was the premade blends. I also found that the blends were most exciting with foods that were otherwise very simple. Continue reading

Memorial Day Weekend

Walnut Street Bridge pedestrians

Recently, in a span of 8 days, I attended or hosted the following events in recognition of people in my life: a college graduation, a 40th birthday party, a memorial service, and Mother’s Day.

All the transitions in the lives of people I care about caused the reflections one would expect. A few days after the memorial service, I found myself huddled with my yoga teacher, agreeing to treasure each breath.

I’m torn by two urges: Continue reading

All that glitters

Killers 5.1.2013

I just got back from a Killers concert in Anaheim.

What I love about the Killers is that they will just pile it on. There were lasers. Pyrotechnics. Glitter. Fog. None of it was ironic, although they’re aware that some people might consider it cheesy. The Killers hail from Las Vegas, where it is normal to have sequins on your work clothes. It seems more like as rock stars, they want to be sure to give the audience a good time. And it was! Lasers and glitter and fireworks are fun!

The music is fun, too. Continue reading

Review: Free Online Classes

LAPL online classes

I recently discovered how to get good free online classes through the library! I noticed that the Los Angeles Public Library offers classes through the online provider Ed2Go. These are the same classes some college extension programs offer for $70-100 per class. A search revealed that several other libraries offered them, such as those in Houston and Muncie. Therefore, if you’re in the market for classes, it’s a good idea to check the library first.

I wondered what the quality of the classes would be like, given that they are offered at such low prices. Continue reading

January anti-blahs

California Rolls

January is a tough transition. There are still the last of the nuts and candy canes from the stockings scattered about, but there are no secrets to anticipate or speculate about. There are still things to cook, but there’s no new cookie exchange on the horizon. It’s cold, but snuggling up under the covers won’t summon Santa back.

So I’ve been allowing myself some treats to help me make it through. Chocolate filled with creamy, delicious substances like sea salt caramel or mint-flavored honey. Sleeping in. A long-awaited trip to the electronics store. Sushi for lunch.
Continue reading

Spin Me Right Round

Record Player

A few months ago, I had to have muscle and nerve conduction tests due to numbness and tingling in my arms. Fortunately, they didn’t find anything major wrong with me. I was sent to a physical therapist who helped me stretch and relax my tight neck and back muscles, and the unusual sensations have mostly gone away. (Thanks Elsa!)

The electromyogram test was fascinating. Continue reading

Fresh Chai Cake

Made with fresh spices

Fresh chai cake

When my friend Jeanne got back from two years in India, she taught me to make chai. This year, since Jeanne was back in LA for a vacation that coincided with her birthday, I got the idea to make a chai cake, which she ended up helping bake. I found this recipe for chai cake with honey ginger cream, which was apparently the cake of the month for an online baking club at one point, and is therefore well documented in various cooking blogs. I decided to make the cake according to the instructions, but instead of the suggested tea bags, use loose tea and fresh spices according to the proportions Jeanne had shown me for authentic Indian chai.

Continue reading