Thursday, January 12, 2017

All Purpose Cleaner- non toxic... made form the good stuff

Ever wonder whats IN windex? Even wonder if spraying 409 on your kitchen counter next to your food and plates and cutlery is a good idea?
Well obviously- it's not. Shit is loaded with chemicals... In the safety course I had to take for work - they told us that by law we should actually be wearing a FACE MASK anytime we use these cleaners... windex in particular!

UUHHHH, I'm sorry, but fuck that. Thats gonna be a hard pass for me. 

One of the wonderful things about living in southern california is having access to the amazing Institute for Domestic Technology... (it's like Home Ec for adults... it's WONDERFUL)  A few years ago I took a great class all about making your own cleaning supplies. The standout of the course was the All Purpose Cleaner. 

I gave it to my cleaning lady and said- use this, if you like it, I'll tell you whats in it.
At the end of the day she was raving about it- "it smells so good! what is it? I can't believe how well it works on the counters, the mirrors, the glass... This will totally replace simple green and windex for me!!"  

and thats when i told her the ingredients...

1 cup cheap ass vodka. Thats right. VODKA 
1 cup fresh mint
2 peels lemon rind
2 peels grapefruit rind (you could use any citrus really)
1 cup water

Combine everything except water 
Allow to steep for 24 hours
Strain and reserve vodka (discard mint and rinds)
Add water and decant into spray bottle!

Now I like to make this in bulk, so all i have to do is pour into spritzer and add water. And you can use any vodka really- but i like to use the cheap shit... because if I'm not gonna drink it- why pay. In addition to cleaning your home with something thats not gonna give you cancer, an additional perk of this cleaner is that when you go to the CVS or Bev Mo to buy the cheapest vodka you can find... the clerk will look at you like your out of your fucking mind!!! So thats fun.

happy cleaning!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Scones, Granola, Cauliflower, Grapefruit wine, Calamari Nicoise, Homemade Feta and good old Avocados.... My week in cooking.

Did a lot of cooking this week- sometimes life's just like that

Found this awesome recipe from Goop's annual detox- which i highly recommend... I did it for a week and felt great at the end.... This is the Cauliflower 'Fried Rice' and it's the jam...

I was eating alone that night- so I had leftovers... and for me, little is better then some black beans and a fried egg... topped with a little salsa.... epic

I had a little time off so i made feta.... Feta keeps a long time, so I make it about twice a year, it's SO good and salty and great on a salad or with crackers... I gave it as xmas gift last year... and it was a big hit. It's important to start with an organic whole goat milk... spend the money here... it's worth it. I haven't used this kind before- I'll let you know how it is...
Next you add the coagulant and let it set- then you spend 36 hours letting it settle and drain all the whey... 
As you can see here the cheese is ugly, I flip and smooth every 12 hours... because when it comes to food: pretty counts
Then you slice them up and salt them... these suckers need to sit out for 2 or 3 days depending on the weather... 

Once they are dry you pop them in brine and jar them. They will mature in about a month and they will last in the fridge for about a year. (although in my fridge they don't last 5 minutes....) 

Made Coconut Granola... so easy- SOOO good... I may never go store bought again!

I love the winter citrus season... So i popped open Kevin West's 'Saving The Season' and decided to give Vin De Pamplemousse a go. Was fun and easy- it won't be ready for a month... thats exciting... I'll report back...

I felt the need to use the slow cooker, and so i grabbed the The French Slow Cooker and made us a little Calamari Nicoise... put it over a little saffron rice... was fairly epic.

Tate was shooting all week, and i felt the need to spoil him for working so hard. His all time favorite is scones, and I had never made them before. I couldn't find recipes that I had all the ingredients for, so i did some thing I never do in baking- I made up the recipes for something I've never made before. Now in a stew or a salad or whatever- who cares- make that shit up, explore ... but with BAKING? I feel like baking is chemistry, science... I feel like you shouldn't fuck with that shit... but you know what? I was feeling frisky... so I went for it: First I made Banana Blueberry scones... I looked over several recipes, to get the basic tenants and then had a go.
They came out perfect... I was feeling terribly pleased. Normally I don't eat what I bake (because my ass grows exponentially, so I have to curb that shit...) but I did eat one of these- a) I needed to make sure I wasn't gonna poison someone, and b) that shit was fuckin good and way worth it!

I'm big fan of making things pretty so i surprised my man when he got home with scones and tulips...

I mean seriously... is there anything prettier then a fucking tulip??

Tate took the scones to work, and I received several texts from his co workers thanking me and asking for more... so fuck it- I made more. This time I did raspberry coconut... I invented this recipe too... too much moisture... I need to tweak these. They tasted great, but they were a little flat. Let me say only they taste better then they look:

And finally- with all the cooking and learning and trying new shit, I thought I'd give a shout out to the simplest MOST delicious thing of all. 

A perfect avocado and Stoned Wheat Thins

In all my years of cooking, few things are this easy, this simple and this good...

Greens, Mushrooms and Fried Eggs with Thai Chili Fish Oil

This is one of those meals that after i make it my husband says.... Can we have that again tomorrow?

Which I of course respond hell yes- because not only is is super delish and healthy, but it's wicked fast and easy to make... I call that a home-run.

I originally found it from my girl Martha

But I've made some revisions (like adding the chili fish sauce and reducing the butter considerably...) i encourage you to try both!

  • For Thai Chili Fish Sauce- this will make extra- it's a killer condiment for many many meals
  • 4 tablespoons  fish sauce  (avail at most asian markets)
  • 4 Cloves garlic- minced
  • Juice from one lime
  • 4 Thai Chili Peppers- thinly sliced

  • For the Sage-Chile Butter 
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes 

  • For the Eggs and Greens
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced 
  • Coarse salt 
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 6 cups greens (rough chopped) I've used a bunch of different types here, Kale, Chard mustard greens... You can totally cheat and use an entire bag of pre chopped kale or whatever...
  • 4 tablespoons water 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Directions:
  • Make the Thai Chili Fish Sauce:
Mince garlic and slice chili peppers. Combine all ingredients. Jar and keep in fridge.

  • Make the sage-chile butter: 

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add sage and red-pepper flakes. Simmer about 2 minutes until butter is melted. Put in bowl and set aside.

  • Make Greens and Eggs:

In same skillet, add oil over high heat.  Cook mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt until golden and tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in garlic, then greens and water. Cover for aprox 30 seconds and stir, until greens wilt. Add 2 tablespoons sage butter, and combine. Push greens to make 4 wells. Crack 1 egg into each. Season with salt. Cook for till egg is to your liking.  Drizzle eggs with sage-chile butter. Drizzle everything with Chili Fish sauce. Garnish with cheese.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Universe is listening

I grew up camping. Er well, I grew up being MADE to camp. I went to school at hippie schools and we had to camp two or three times a year- at the minimum. I had my first sleeping bag when I was 3 or 4. All thru elementary school and high school I would be kind of forced- to put on a backpack with all the shit I needed for the next week (or two in some cases) and off we’d go into the wilderness. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either. Backpacking is a terrible sport- it’s for masochists to be sure. Your feet blister, your fucking super tired all the time, your constantly hungry, and you constantly keep walking… It’s horrendous. Especially to a 10 year old. Plus, I have bad knees so I was never a huge fan of my biannual scholastic torcher fests as I came to regard the activity.

It was not until last year- at 37 that I decided that I would like to sleep under the stars once more… I asked my dad, brother and husband to pitch in for Xmas and gift me certificates to REI so I could get all new gear. I was excited, however I had one specific guideline- no backpacking. This bitch was driving in… My husband was happy to oblige me.

Last August Tate and I went on our first excursion- a nice little campsite in the sequoias… we laughed and fought while we set up our 6-man tent… I was THRILLED to finally be able to stand up in a tent!! F-you lightweight camping supplies that are all function and no comfort. I inflated our queen size air matress and I set up my semi gourmet luxury kitchen set up…

It was fantastic. I LOVED IT. Everything was so big and fun and luxurious it was exactly the opposite of how I had been raised to camp. My inner rebel was at peace… absolutely.

One night on that first camping trip after digging in the plastic tote I had made for the kitchen supplies- I said to Tate- ‘honey, I’ve got an idea for a camping kitchen box.’ And there, in my notebook, next to fire I sketched it out… I would be a box; with a piano hinge on the bottom that would open up to shelves and drawers- you would put it on the edge of the picnic table and work out of it… we would make it out of wood, with sturdy handles on the side. Here’s my sketch. 

Tate promised he would build it.

Several months passed and I was looking thru Outside magazine (a magazine I rarely read), and I saw an advertisement for “My Camp Kitchen”. I mean, firkin-a… it was, ALMOST EXACTLY what I drew. I called Tate and said- you won’t fucking believe what I just found- turns out you don’t have to build it after all! It already exists!!! Here it is:

Now I’m a pretty lucky person, and things usually happen for me without too much pain or difficulty. I’m a hard worker and a good person, but good things naturally come my way… I am undeniably lucky: Lucky to be born in America, lucky to be born middle class, lucky to be born in this time, in this place. Sometimes I think- I need a new, whatever, and pretty often whatever it was I am thinking for will present itself to me in the next few days… But I don’t think I have ever had a situation where I put something out into the universe and had it handed to me Quite. So. Exactly. Down even to the dimensions within an inch!!

Last week we went camping again- and I used my new box. And it’s fucking perfect. I mean- perfect. I couldn’t have designed it better myself.

Thank you universe… I’m grateful you’re listening… I’m listening back!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

an hour in the life

It started cuz I took the laundry outside to the washer. 
Then I figured I should probably clean the cat box. 
Then I noticed I needed to water, which made me realize I needed to weed. 
Which made me notice I needed to replant a few things. 
Which made a mess so I needed to spray off the dirt from that area, 
which made me spray off the entire back yard. 
Which made me need to scrub the teak table down. 

And when I was done, the wash was done and I put the clothes in the dryer and on the line.

thats how i sunday...

Goodbye David Carr

I don’t remember meeting Dave Carr- I just know that in the second semester of my senior year at college he was there. And, he was my boyfriend. David was tall and skinny and blond. He always had these chipped painted fingernails. He listened to music I didn’t understand and chronically smoked cigarettes, he drank Gin and to me, he was Super. Fucking. Sexy. He was, in hindsight the beginning of a long journey I would take dating alcoholics and drug addicts. But at the time, I was so naive, I thought when he fell asleep in the middle of dinner it was because he was just tired, I had no idea what a junkie was. I thought the acne was just bad luck.

We dated about 6 months, which was a long time for me in those days. He was there for my graduation ho-rah… the party, the packing, and the goodbye. He and I had a tender little romance, nothing earth shattering, and nothing that would last… in fact my inevitable leaving made it even seem more important then it might have actually been. On Thursday nights when we had ‘soul night’ at Charlie Flynn’s with what felt like everyone I ever knew in college, he always saved one slow dance for me. Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”

In the goodbye love note he gave to me he wrote, “Our history is an accumulation of small moments. Building toward a 5 day explosion and the hope that you’ll stay”
I didn’t stay. I left college, and Boston, and Dave.

I went to Colorado after graduation for the summer and he actually came and visited me. We tried each other on outside of college, but it was there, in the mountains that we realized we would be destined to be friends and not lovers.

Those early years the memories are like a slide show- that fucking sunburn he got that one afternoon when he fell asleep on the deck, to this day I’ve never seen one worse. The hot air balloon ride (my only one ever) over the Rocky Mountains at sunrise. Gallivanting down the street in Boston howling at the moon. Day drinking in Charlie Flynn’s bar weeks after my 21st birthday. The chipped paint on his fingernails- I always thought that was so punk, so hot… Making out in the back of a party, feeling like I was a good girl parting on the wrong side of the tracks.

In those days we wrote letters. It was before cellphones and email and texting and Facebook. We kept in touch by hand, and mail. He sent me letters on the back of bar napkins and negative reports. At least once in every letter he would apologize for his handwriting and that he felt he didn’t know what to say…  often he would talk about trying on sobriety for size.

After college, when I still fancied myself a film director- before the slow numb hum of mediocrity had set in- I set out to make a short film. Chick Pee Productions was born, and in looking thru the photos just now I’m shocked by how many of my friends from my whole life long turned out to help get it made. I knew about acting and directing and a little about design- but the whole camera and lighting part of filmmaking was another language to me and I knew, if I was gonna even pretend to make a movie, I needed Dave Carr. He had been a camera hot shot in college, and I knew no way I could do it without him. I asked him to come to LA, and he came! He told me he needed Josh Dreyfus, to which I replied, “ok, lets get Josh”. We did. And that’s how Josh and Dave moved in with me and my cat- into my one bedroom apt. 

I can’t remember how long they were there or how we managed to fit in my tiny one bedroom apartment- I know they stayed at least a couple of months. Maybe even six.

What I do remember is his drinking. He and a couple of friends came to visit me on set one day when I was doing a TV commercial- it was about 11am, and when I took a sip of his sprite it was full of SUPER. STRONG. VODKA. About once a week I would find vodka bottles hidden in my apartment. I wouldn’t look- but in a tiny apt I would just, find them… In my towels, in the cushions of my couch, under my kitchen sink. I was so confused. It was so weird. Why didn’t he just leave the bottles on the counter? All the drinkers I had known did it in public, even sloppily so, Dave was the first secret drinker I knew.

We shot that short film, and it was an especially fine piece of shit- however, I will say this, it LOOKED fucking terrific. In the end the script sucked and I learned the hard way that sometimes, you CAN’T fix it in post.

Dave and I kept in contact for the next 20 years. I saw him when I went to Seattle, and he and I wrote and later emailed. He struggled with sobriety, but last I spoke to him, he was sober, working at a sober living place and really making a go of it. He always emailed me when he moved, or had a big life change. But in the end, I hadn’t heard from him in a couple years, and the last time I SAW him was in Dec, 2006.

Couple of days ago Josh texted me that he had died. He had heard thru Facebook. Which, you know- fucking sucks. Cuz like, can you even trust Facebook??

David told me I should always have his parents phone number, you know, just in case. I called them, and despite wanting to, I left a message. A day or two passed, I didn’t call everyone because, I didn’t know what happened, and I wasn’t even sure if it was true.

It is.

I still haven’t really heard what happened. Heart Failure due to booze? Ooof. That’s a motherfucker. In the end maybe it doesn’t matter how, only that he died.

 I loved him, and I’m sad he’s gone. For a time I loved him most of all. And, even though I’ve had a parent die, and suffered like, real grief, this one hurts too. And as I look back thru photos, I realize that everyone dies. And sooner or later, the longer we last, the fewer and fewer people are alive in our old photos. And that just fucking sucks.

My history with David was an accumulation of small moments. Building toward a sad quiet implosion and the hope that he could have stayed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What. Do. You. Want. To. Say?

What do you want to say- all this talk of being a writer, and where is it? What’s the deal? Where are the goods? Till now it’s all just a bunch of talk and a basket full of hopes, but where are the goods? Where’s the time in the chair?

What do you want to write about? What do you have to say? Why would anyone want to read what you have written? I mean, really? The world is a bevy of thoughts and information and social talk, and bullshit broadcast on the regular… so Chase Carter what sets you apart? All these years of ‘I think I’m a writer’, but I’ve never even, well, written- do you dare? Do you dare to put it out there? Try and say some shit?

Do you dare?

In truth, there is so much to say. In fact I wish I could just fucking shut up. I am by no means an authority or an expert on well, basically anything, but I’m terribly opinionated and often sound like I know what the fuck I’m saying… And I do know a bit about a whole bunch of shit.

Like, I know how to cook. And be a wife, and tend to my cats. I know how to travel and how to eat (it’s a fucking skill…) I know how to make an event happen in wicked fast time, and I can organize your whole life in an afternoon. I know how to make cheese, and bake, and how to relax- like really relax. I know how to decorate and how to make your environment beautiful. I know how to throw a dinner party and I mean MAKE the party, like down to the homemade tablecloths. I know how to laugh, and I know how to grieve. I know how to be a godmother and how to walk my mother into her death. I know how to survive as the sole woman in my family and tend to my three men, while still being my own person. I know how to be the daughter, sister and wife of an alcoholic. And I know how to survive that too. I know how to swear, and I know how to work, SUPER FUCKING HARD. And I know how to play. I know how to skip thru my day with grace, and a little style, and a lot of laughter, and shit ton of cool.

And so that’s what these following pages are. They are a place for me to express that, and advise that, and to comment on that. I don’t want to talk about politics, or smart shit. I want to talk about real life. Day to day life, and if something smart comes out of it then so be it. But I’m not setting out to give a shit what all my fancy pants well read over educated friends think about this. They can go read the economist. These pages are for me, and my friends, this is for people who eat, and people who laugh, and swear, and like to make clean delicious beautiful things. This is for parents and non-parents, for travelers and for dreamers.

If any of that applies to you: then welcome, and read on.