Playlist: Mellow Music To Cook To

Yesterday, I had good intentions.

I wrote a blog.  I caught up on a few things around the house.  I edited some photos.  I ate a healthy breakfast.  I made myself tea.  I made a to-do list for the week.

And then, at 2:00, I decided I would do a quick workout before taking a shower and heading out to work.

I put on a fun playlist.  I pulled up one of my saved workouts from my super-hero strength friend Steven.  I tied up my sneakers.  I did two burpees.  The dog always gets excited when I start working out because she thinks I want to play.  She started running around.

I did a third burpee.  Gibson happened to jump up right where I was jumping down into a pushup.  Our heads cracked.  She yelped like I’ve never heard her yelp before.  I basically fell to the floor.

I think March was mad at me for kicking it to the curb.  It was leaving me with a parting gift.

About five minutes later, I had gathered myself and the dog was hiding under the table.  A giant welt had formed on my forehead and I had a splitting headache.  I sent a picture to my manager with the caption “So… this just happened…” and she basically told me to ice my ridiculous injury and stay home from work.

No one wants to order food from someone with a welt this good growing out of their forehead.

(I will not subject you to the photo I shared with her.  Basically, imagine an egg coming out of my forehead and you’ll have it.)

So I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch, icing my head and trying to convince Gibson that I wasn’t mad at her.  That, and trying to reassure myself that I didn’t have a concussion.  Every time that I’d forget where I set something down or how to spell a word on a text, I started worrying a little.

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But then, I got bored of the couch.  And Gibson had started bringing me toys to play with her, so I knew she was ok.  Plus, I suddenly had a craving for chocolate.

Because silence makes me anxious even when I have a nagging headache, I put on a mellow playlist (who knew Spotify has a hangover playlist?  Perfect for minor head injuries, too!) and got to baking.

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After a while, I realized that this is music I would almost never cook to, as cooking usually goes hand in hand with entertaining for us.  And when entertaining, you usually want something a little more upbeat and exciting.

But not last night.  Last night I was the opposite of upbeat.  And I was on my own.  With caramel and chocolate.  So mellow it was.

I’m sure that many of you sometimes have mellow nights when you have minor head injuries and just want to bake cookies and make caramels, too, right?  Well… for when that happens (I hope the head injury part doesn’t!), here is a good mellow playlist to cook to.

And now, back to icing the forehead.  Thank goodness for makeup.

xoxo

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March Madness Roundup

In like a lion, out like a lamb, right?

I feel like that March lamb is still on it’s way, but the lion that was this March sure kept us on the run.

I thought today I’d share a look back at all of the places I went in March and all of the things I did.  Because usually, it’s a line up of market photos and delicious dinners, but this month it’s from coast to coast (twice), with a lot of amazing events and people in between.

We kicked off the month with packing up all of our food for terminate extermination.  This was a low point… Like packing to move without the new improved apartment?

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But then we were off to New York!IMG_2274Where it was freezing, but Sarah and I celebrated turning 30!IMG_2306And we ate an amazing meal prepared by the Fishing With Dynamite guys at the James Beard House.IMG_2383

And I played Cards Against Humanity for the first time.  This was one blog appropriate winner…IMG_2558

When I got back to the west coast, I made a quick batch of pickled onions… and just about ate them all.IMG_2663

I messed around with my blog.  Spring cleaning?  Did you notice?  (I didn’t go with this one…)IMG_2685

Then I flew back to Maryland for a memorial service for my grandfather.  It was a tough weekend, but being surrounded by family that hasn’t all come together in close to 20 years, there was also much to celebrate.

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Plus, I got to hang out with these little guys…IMG_2798The last time I saw Miles he weighed just over 5 pounds and he was all hooked up in the NICU.  I’m so impressed and grateful for how healthy and awesome he’s turning out to be!IMG_2805

I mean, don’t you love his shirt?  I dig you, too, Miles.
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And then Mr. Max.  Starting to talk, count, and know his alphabet.  No pants don’t care!IMG_2850Before I left town, I whipped up a batch of fudge to leave with the east coast crew.  I even used this crazy old candy thermometer of my Mom’s.  I don’t know why, but I was a little obsessed with this thermometer.

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And ate entirely too much of the chocolatey fudge it produced… delicious. IMG_2843

I don’t have a story for this next picture, other than once I was back on the west coast, this is precisely how I felt.  And I love this picture of Brad and Gibson.
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I fit in a little studio time somewhere in there, singing on a commercial for a kids toy that is coming out soon…IMG_2892

And my car broke down… again…IMG_2895

But then we cooked a delicious lunch at Coleman’s Farm, which went off without a hitch…IMG_3033 IMG_3110

Then, last night we had an unusual Sunday night off together.  So after a delicious dinner (where I almost killed a crab with an iPad.  seriously.), we headed to the Sprinkles cupcake ATM and treated ourselves.IMG_3199March, you were great, but I’m kind of glad you’re ending.  On to spring and weekends with a little bit of time to ourselves.

But the fudge was really great.  Thanks for that.

xoxo

 

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Coleman Farm Lunch

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I don’t know if you remember, but in September Brad was auctioned off at Weiser Farms right in front of my very eyes.

After bidding hit about $200, I realized I could no longer afford my husband.  I was going to have to share.

For a good cause, of course.

A lunch for 8 at Coleman Family Farms was sold to the buyer who had $1400 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand.  They scheduled and planned, and then rescheduled for after the crazy holiday season – which ended up being yesterday.

With me and the Barolo Joe guys in tow, Brad put together a 5 course lunch for what turned into a group of 16.

We drove up to Carpinteria super early (for us), explored the farm a little, and then hand-picked fresh greens, flowers and herbs for lunch.

IMG_2934 IMG_2936 IMG_2937 IMG_2941 IMG_2942 IMG_2943 IMG_2961 IMG_2962Then, it was off to the races.  We set up and prepped…

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…and prepared the most amazing five courses for the lucky sixteen people around the table.

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The Menu:

Snapper Crudo with serrano, kumquat, mint and lime.

Leafy Farm Green Salad with blood oranges, fennel, balsamic vinaigrette and almonds.

Hand Cut Linguini with farm herbs, white wine and parmesan.

Manilla Clams with cherry tomatoes, garlic and lemon.

Whole Braised Oxtail with sprouting broccoli, radish and bordelaise.

Weiser Farms Potato Salad with Wooley bacon.

Strawberry Tart with honey, flowering thyme and vanilla ice cream.

 

I seriously wish I were sitting at that table.

xoxo

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Blood Orange Gin and Tonics

Blood Orange Gin and Tonics @thekeyofkels

My March has been a little bit insane.

As of the beginning of February, I wasn’t going to be on the east coast even once this month.  We were watching what we spent.  We had family coming in town and birthdays coming up, so we were being responsible.

And now, as I’m unpacking my suitcase from my second trip east in 3 weeks, I am realizing I should really stock my body up on Vitamins before I get super, super sick from all of the traveling.

So Emergen-C it is!

Speaking of Vitamin C, it is coming up on the end of citrus season here in California, so I brought some blood oranges from the market all the way to Maryland with me this weekend.  I figured, along with the strawberries, raisins, and trail mix I smuggled from coast to coast, the blood oranges would be something fun and different to play around with.

blood orange gin and tonicsAnd the juice is just so pretty!

So on Friday night, after we had finished most of the preparations for everyone to come over to my parents’ house after the services for my grandfather on Saturday, we decided it was time to relax and catch up.

My mom’s favorite Friday night happy hour cocktail is the classic Gin & Tonic, so I decided to dress it up a little bit.

blood orange gin and tonics blood orange gin and tonicsBy just adding a little bit of that fiery blood orange juice, the classic G&T took on a whole new persona.

And also left the place looking like a bit of a crime scene when not poured just so…

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The citrus added just a little bit of bright red cheer to a somber occasion, a little bit of sweet citrus to a classic cocktail, and a little bit of Cali sunshine to a chilly, rainy (super jet lagged) day.

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I wish this counted as enough Vitamin C to keep me healthy until the weather really warms up, but for now, I’m drinking tea and stocking up on Emergen-C packets.

Cheers to another busy, busy week!

xoxo

Blood Orange Gin (or Vodka) & Tonics

1 part Gin (we used Bombay Sapphire, but it was also delicious with vodka!)

1 part fresh squeezed blood orange juice

1 part tonic water

Fill glass with ice.  Add equal parts gin(or vodka), blood orange juice and tonic water.  Stir and serve.  Cheers!

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Springtime at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.” 
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

I guess yesterday was the last official market of the winter here in Santa Monica.

spring tulips

But it sure looked like spring had arrived a teeny bit early.

spring at santa monica farmers marketspring at santa monica farmers market spring at santa monica farmers marketHow many different kinds of eggs can there possibly be??spring at santa monica farmers market spring at santa monica farmers market spring at santa monica farmers market

Good thing I went to the market alone yesterday, because there wasn’t much room left in the car for Brad.

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I’m flying to Maryland tonight for a memorial service for my grandfather.  I hope I can bring a little bit of this Southern California springtime with me via raisins and strawberries.

And maybe some other goodies I pick up along the way…

xoxo

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Affordable Wine Review: Joel Gott Pinot Gris

joel gott Pinot gris

A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed a few bottles of wine while grocery shopping.  I figured I’d try something new – something affordable – and if it was any good, I’d write about it for you.

Before I even got up to pay, two different people stopped to tell me they loved one of the bottles I chose.  One of them even told me the whole Joel Gott line was incredible and I couldn’t go wrong – Cabernet to Sauvignon Blanc.

I figured I was on the right track.

But then the weather turned from summer-like back to winter, so the Pinot Gris that I picked up stayed tucked away in the fridge for a while…

…until the parents were in town and we needed a little bit of white wine to make that homemade pizza dough.  I figured we could spare a few tablespoons, and then all taste this affordable wine together.

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Fun fact!  Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are made from the same grape.  They are different styles of the same wine – Pinot Grigio being the Northern Italian version that is crisp, clean, dry, and light. Pinot Gris usually refers to the style of the wine coming from the Alsace region of France, which is more rich and almost sweet – think spicy tropical fruits.  With wine made outside of these two regions, the difference between the two is simply a labeling choice.  Typically, wine makers will choose Grigio or Gris based on the style of Pinot they’ve created.

So thinking about that, and noticing the use of Gris instead of Grigio, I started tasting.  I usually like Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, OR.  Its a great growing climate for both Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir because of it’s extremely cool climate.  Joel Gott’s definitely had some sweet citrus, maybe Meyer Lemon?  I liked the floral characteristics and the really subtle peach I got, almost with a touch of creaminess that I wasn’t expecting from a bottle of wine that cost me just $10.

Then I wanted my parents’ opinions.

Both mom and dad loved the light, crisp wine.  My mom even commented that she typically doesn’t choose a Pinot Gris because she feels like it has a grit that lingers on the palate, but she didn’t get that in this wine.

Success!

would say that the wine went lovely with our homemade mozzarella and our arugula and tomato pizza, but we were on to a different bottle of wine by then.  However, I can tell you that this Pinot Gris would have – if we had another bottle or two – gone very nicely with our dinner that night.  It was crisp and clean, a tiny touch of sweet fruit, and a light acidity that would have cut right through the sweet balsamic glaze.

I also checked out the Joel Gott website to get a little more info about the winery, and found this video about this wine.  Coming straight from the winemaker, here is the Joel Gott 2012 Pinot Gris!

Joel Gott Oregon Pinot Gris 2012 from Ann Pepi on Vimeo.

The weather has been a little bipolar recently between super hot days (usually when I’m at work) and the wind, fog and cold, but I have another bottle of this Pinot Gris just waiting for my next summery day off.

Because for $10, how could you not?

xoxo

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