Thursday, February 29, 2024

Birthday Celebration for Maria and Sharon

 A really fun time last night at Panxa Cocina

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Shoya House at the Huntington Gardens

 On Feb. 25th we visited the new Japanese "Shoya House"  at the Huntington Library and Gardens   “Shoya:The head of the village : in preindustrial Japan , the shoya or village administrator oversaw all aspects of village life. He acted as an intermediary between the samurai and the farmers collecting taxes and maintaining census records as well as settling disputes and enforcing law. “ This authentic Shoya house (built around 1700) was shipped from Japan and reconstructed at the Huntington gardens. Work will continue on the property to further replicate “rice fields “around the home. “Rice was the staple food and main measure of wealth in Japan for centuries.” See link in comments section for visiting hours. It opened to the public a few months ago.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Old Physics Friends Mary Beth and Bob Drop By

 Our friends Mary Beth and Bob Koda from grad school days at UCLA are leaving for home tomorrow. They stopped by to drop some things off for us. They had visited our old haunts the two physics buildings Knudsen and Kinsey Hall on campus. She sent me this picture outside Kinsey now called Kaplan Hall. The quote by the physicist Faraday was one of my favorites. It still remains engraved on the building: “Nothing is too wonderful to be true.”

Monday, February 26, 2024

Bachelor Joey

 Another fun time girls night in.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Rocco and Sofia Drawing with the Masters at Meadows Museum

Sofia (8 1/2) and Rocco (3 1/2) had another wonderful art workshop today at the Meadows Museum on the SMU campus. Love the pencil over his ear. He looks invested in the experience.

Friday, February 23, 2024

The Kids Down Under

 Life down under with Athena, Jude (3 1/2) Julian (8 months):

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Crystal Cove

 On one of the few days it didn’t rain I visited the charming historic beach town of Crystal Cove. From the 1920’s to 1960’s families would return each summer to rent cabanas and cottages for the summer months. These cottages are being renovated and are being rented as renovations are completed . You can park off of Pacific Coast highway at Crystal cove state beach pay $15.00 for an all day pass. Take a shuttle bus from the parking lot for $2.00 and ride a short way to the beach. There is a nice “Beachcomber” cafe where you can get breakfast, lunch or dinner (reservations recommended especially during the summer) also on pch a popular “ Shake shack”. If you don’t want to take the shuttle you can normally walk from parking lot through a tunnel under the highway to the beach. Closed during the rainy times. Mike and I have taken the bus from Long Beach to Crystal Cove and then hiked from pch cliffs above the beach down to the sands. There are various hiking paths. It’s very pretty.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Crystal Cove Museum Exhibit on Japanese Farmers in the Early 20th Century


This week I had the opportunity to see a very heartwarming exhibition of some of the first Japanese families that farmed in the early twentieth century along the California coast from Crystal Cove to Laguna beach. The link to this story is in the comments Ron Inatomi I thought of you and wondered if you were involved in this exhibition. This is a temporary exhibit at Crystal Cove beach.
“The first Japanese farmer to lease from the Irvine Company along the coast was Keichi Yamashita. The Yamashita family was one of the many Japanese American families who lived on the rich soil of Crystal Cove during the early 20th century. The families would construct homes and farm buildings on the west and east sides of the Coast Highway from Corona del Mar to the northern boundary of Laguna Beach. On the bluffs and hills of the highway, they cultivated crops such as peas, tomatoes, celery, beans and other goods. ..
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the anti-Japanese paranoia led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry, including American citizens, in the West Coast. Executive Order 9066 was made on February 19,1942, which forced more than 35,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the Los Angeles area to leave their homes and possessions. They were later detained in American concentration camps. On May 10, 1942, Civilian Exclusion Order No. 59 was made which forced the Japanese family tenants living between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach to leave their farms and report to a designated area. From 1927 until their eviction in 1942, the Japanese American community of Crystal Cove sold their crops to the Los Angeles markets, and visited tourists from roadside produce stands. ..”

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Good Times In Corona Del Mar

 Keeping busy this week …a visit to Corona Del Mar, jigsaw puzzles, ramen and good times.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Rocco's First Opera


Today on campus Rocco attended his first opera. Puccini Suor Angelica. I asked his mom if he liked it. She said he said” it was a cool movie.”
The Meadows Lyric Theatre annually presents its popular Free For All monthly Brown Bag Series of scenes and one-act operas as well as innovative full productions throughout the year. The award-winning Meadows Lyric Theatre, under the direction of Michael Scarola, offers imaginative, diverse and cutting-edge productions of repertoire encompassing a wide range of opera, operetta, and musical theatre, providing extensive performance opportunities to vocal students at the undergraduate, graduate, performer diploma and artist diploma levels. A main focus of the multi-tiered program is intensive acting technique training, professional audition preparation, and its partnership with The Dallas Opera.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

New Year's Calendars

 Every new year my parents would get a new free calendar from a business. Sometimes it was from a travel agency or Japan airlines or a restaurant. They would hang it on the dining room wall next to our telephone with a pad of paper and a pen affixed to a string next to the pad for messages. The other day I received this calendar from a Chinese restaurant and it reminded me of my parents. Im not hanging this on the wall but I thought it was cute with all the signs of the Chinese years and the animals that represent those years. 2024 is the year of the Dragon. The animals rotate every 12 years. Find your zodiac animal and the description of those born in that year. Mine is the year of the pig aka Boar. Find yours .

Friday, February 16, 2024

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Ina Garten's Lemon Capellini Recipe


 Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add the capellini and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until just al dente. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large (12-inch) saute pan, add the butter, and heat until the butter is melted. Add the zest and juice of the 2 lemons. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and swirl the pan to combine. 
  3. As soon as the pasta is cooked, lift the pasta out of the water with tongs, allowing most but not all of the water to drain back into the pot, and add all the pasta to the sauce. Cook for one minute, adding pasta water to the sauce with a ladle just enough to keep the pasta moist.
  4. Transfer the pasta to a serving platter or individual plates. Garnish with more lemon zest, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and squeeze a little lemon juice on top. Serve hot. 

Note:  I would reduce butter. Add minced garlic and shrimp. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day


 For our Valentine dinner I made a very easy lemon pasta with shrimp, skewered cherry tomatoes with fresh mozzarella balls and basil with a balsamic glaze. Recipes below in comments. No matter how I tried my cherry tomatoes were not the perfect heart shape as pictured in the recipe. I was well intentioned. For dessert I preordered a rhubarb pie (it’s hard to find a pure rhubarb pie that is not mixed with strawberries but you can preorder one from Polly’s pies). It’s Mikes favorite. I can always count on a home made card from Mike. They are not fancy cards like the ones my dad would buy my mom but they are thoughtful and filled with affection. I keep them all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tallarin Saltado Chifa (shrimp Stir Fry) from Chef Ollie



  • 2 servings of regular dry Italian spaghetti noodles, about 100 grams
  • boiling water to cook the noodles
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 16 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2-4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into feathers, about 1 cup
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares, about 1 cup
  • 1 cup snow peas, cut diagonally
  • white part of 2 green onions, cut into rounds
  • green part of 2 green onions, cut into 2 inch tubes
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2-4 teaspoons sesame oil

In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a large pot with boiling water to cook the noodles, a small bowl to mix the sauce, and a large non-stick skillet to sauté the shrimp and vegetables.

  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to cook spaghetti, bring to a boil
  2. Add spaghetti and cook for 10-12 minutes
  3. Strain spaghetti, rinse with cold water, set aside
  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce
  2. Stir sauce with a fork to mix well, set aside
  1. Heat cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat
  2. Add the shrimp and sauté each side for 1-2 minutes
  3. Turn off heat, remove shrimp from skillet, set aside
  1. Heat cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, red onion, red pepper, snow peas, and white part of green onions, stir-fry for 1 minute
  3. Add shrimp, toss quickly, and immediately add the sweet and sour sauce
  4. Add the noodles, green part of green onions, bean sprouts, and mix well
  5. Add the sesame oil, stir-fry for another 30 seconds, then remove from heat
  6. Serve immediately, family style in a large platter

4 servings.


To make garlic paste, purée peeled garlic cloves with enough olive oil to create a smooth paste. Refrigerate the garlic paste in an airtight jar and use in a recipe as you would minced garlic.

The key to the sauce is to find the balance between savory, sweet, and sour flavors. Use a soy sauce with reduced sodium made with tamari that won’t overwhelm the other flavors in the sauce. Use equal parts sugar and white wine vinegar but taste the sauce and adjust if needed.



A Carver Reunion Breakfast

 I often think back to the days I taught at Carver Elementary and how fortunate I was to work along side fellow teachers, aides, nurses , counselors and staff who are among the kindest, most giving souls that walk the earth. They inspired me with their daily dedication to the students and their constant support for everyone on campus. They became extended family. Today I was able to attend a mini reunion “Galentine’s” breakfast. So nice to see such wonderful friends again. Thank you Kathleen  for organizing this wonderful reunion.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Bachelor Joey Begins

 Last night we were up to our old tricks again! AKA take out (Yang Chow), chocolate wipe out cake (Hof’s hut) and the Bachelor! Thanks Sherri. Girls just wanna have fun!

Happy Birthday to My Friend Yael on Valentine's Day Soon

Happy Birthday to my dear friend Yael Bentovim Burkes. (far left in photo). I first met Yael in graduate school at UCLA. We were both in the Design department (fiber arts). She was dynamic, strong and had a fire in her demeanor. I was so drawn to her and we became inseparably good friends. We had first met briefly in the Spring of 1971 and that June I took my first trip to Europe. Ironically as I stepped off the train in Victoria station the very first person I saw in that London station was Yael and her boyfriend Joey. Just as normal as seeing someone next door we looked at each other and I said "Hi Yael!" My cousins that I was traveling with had just finished telling another girl "Barb knows someone everywhere she goes." Then that chance encounter with Yael happened. My cousins looked at that girl and said "See what we mean!" I always think of Valentine's day and Yael's birthday as being synonymous. What a profound joy to wish Yael, my life long friend, a very Happy 80th  Birthday! 

Sunday, February 11, 2024


 "Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day."

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Mike and Me : A Valentine Memory


It was just before Valentine's day in 1975 that I mentioned to a young 22 year old graduate student at UCLA that I was going to be baking heart shaped Valentine cookies for some of the staff and students in the Physics department. He told me that he liked to bake too so I invited him to come over to my apartment and bake cookies with me. We had a lot of fun that night. A few weeks later he invited me and another student over to his place for dinner. He cooked a great italian meal. I remember he was wearing a cute little orange knitted cap over his long hair. He was so funny and nice and the food was fantastic.
Often when Valentine's day nears, I think back on that night when I baked heart shaped cookies with that long haired guy named Mike, whom several years later I married.
It's a nice Valentine's memory.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Happy Birthday Aria


Dear Aria, I'm so grateful that I have been given the gift of being your mother.  Thankful that I have been given all these years to watch you grow and to watch you blossom into a life of your own. Wishing you a very special birthday this year. May all the wonderful, best,  mysteries of life continue to unfold for you. 

"Happy, Happy Birthday!"

"... here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
 i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)"- e.e. cummings




Thursday, February 8, 2024

Spring Break for the Kiddos Cozumel

 The kids arrived in Cozumel early afternoon. They’re there til Monday to celebrate Aria’s birthday. When Rocco saw the place he said “Mama Mia this is a good one!”

Wednesday, February 7, 2024


 I’m posting the steps to finishing the puzzle. The evolution of my approach. Can you believe I’m missing two pieces. (The last one I did I ended up missing one piece after my sister brought me one piece that had fallen into her bag!) Thse were not new puzzles. You can see that I did the sky and that beautiful blue ocean first. This is a beautiful puzzle and it helped to pass the rainy days. Puzzles are my jam. Now I need to take a break.

Din Tai Fung


I had a fun adventure with my friend Lynda.  We drove to South Coast Plaza to see the beautiful Chinese New Year display in the main atrium area. Then a fun delicious lunch at Din Tai Fung. “Happy Chinese New Year”! 2024 is the Year of the Wood Dragon, beginning on February 10th, 2024 (Chinese New Year) and concluding on January 28th, 2025 (Chinese New Year's Eve). In Chinese culture, the Dragon holds a significant place as an auspicious and extraordinary creature, unparalleled in talent and excellence.
Lynda took me for a  dining experience at Din Tai Fung.  The waiter was telling us how this restaurant has grown nationally and internationally. “Din Tai Fung now has over 150 locations across 14 countries and franchise agreements in Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, mainland China, and the U.S. The New York Times praised the brand’s meticulous approach, while two of their locations in Hong Kong secured a prestigious Michelin star. “
At the end of this meal the waiter asked if we wanted dessert. He then named several delicacies they featured.Lynda jokingly said “I think she needs a fortune cookie. Do you have any? … maybe an almond cookie?” That girl! She cracks me up!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Sunday, February 4, 2024







"Travel while you're young,

and able.

Don't worry about the 

money, just make it work. 

Experience is far more 

valuable than money

will ever be."

Rocco and Sofia Foster a Dog

 I may have told you how much Sofia and Rocco love animals, especially dogs. It would be really hard for them to own one as the family travels a lot. In order to give them opportunities with animals they foster dogs that are being processed for adoption. They called me yesterday in the car with their newest dog “Don Angie”. They will care for her just until Friday when she will be transported to nyc to her adoptive family. They love her.



What can I say ? This boy and his dog!

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Triple Coconut cream Pie Recipe


Dahlia Bakery Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Servings: 1 9-inch pie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 35 minutes
chilling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Difficulty: Advanced
This triple coconut cream pie from Tom Douglas' Dahlia Bakery is nothing short of a national treasure.


Coconut Pie Crust

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 8 Tablespoons (one stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-pieces
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup ice-cold water, or more as needed

Coconut Pastry Cream

  • 1 cup milk (whole preferred)
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat), stirred
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter

Whipped Cream & Toppings

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream*
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch kosher salt (optional)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chip or large-shred coconut (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4-6 ounces white chocolate in chunk to make 2 ounces of curls


Pie Crust

  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, coconut, diced butter, sugar and salt. Pulse to form coarse crumbs. Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time. Use only as much water as needed for the dough to hold together when gently pressed between your fingers. Don't work the dough with your hands; just test to see if it is holding. (The dough will not form a ball or even clump together in the processor—it will still be quite loose.) 
  • Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the coconut dough onto it. Pull the plastic wrap around the dough forcing it into a rough flattened round with the pressure of the plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour before rolling.
  • To roll the dough, unwrap the round of coconut dough and put it on a lightly floured board. Flour the rolling pin and your hands. Roll the dough out into a circle about ⅛ inch thick. Occasionally lift the dough with a board scraper to check that it is not sticking and add more flour if it seems like it's about to stick. Trim to a 12-to-13-inch circle.
  • Transfer the rolled dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Ease the dough loosely and gently into the pan. You don't want to stretch the dough at this point, because it will shrink when it is baked. Trim any excess dough to a 1-to-1½-inch overhang. Turn the dough under along the rim of the pie pan and use your fingers and thumb to flute the edge. Chill the unbaked pie shell for at least 15 to 20 minutes while the oven preheats. 
  • Preheat the oven to 400°. Place a piece of parchment in the pie shell, with sides overhanging the pan, and fill with dried beans or pie weights. (This step prevents the bottom of the shell from puffing up during baking.) Bake the piecrust for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry rim is golden. Remove the pie pan from the oven. Remove the paper and beans and return the piecrust to the oven. Bake for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottom of the crust has golden-brown patches. Remove from the oven and allow the pie shell to cool completely.

Coconut Pastry Cream

  • Combine the milk, coconut milk and shredded coconut in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Use a paring knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the scrapings and the pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs by pouring a small amount (about ⅓ cup) of the scalded milk into the egg mixture, while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and coconut.
  • Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. 
  • Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard the vanilla pod (or save for another use). Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over another bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.

Whipped Cream & Assembly

  • Preheat the oven to 350º. Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, watching carefully and stirring once or twice until lightly browned,, since coconut easily burns. Remove the coconut from the oven and allow to cool.
  • While the coconut is toasting, whip the heavy cream in a stand mixer with the sugar, vanilla, and salt (if using), until stiff peaks form. 
  • To assemble the pie, spread the coconut pastry cream evenly into the pie crust with a spatula. Using a piping bag and piping tip, pipe the whipped cream on top of the crust with your preferred design with the cream until the pastry cream is completely covered. Sprinkle the toasted coconut pieces over the top of the pie. Use a vegetable peeler or a very sharp chef's knife to scrape about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls. Place curls gently on top of the coconut/pie.


  • Parchment paper
  • Dried beans or pie weights




  • Make this pie in stages. The crust can be made up to one week ahead before baking and the filling can be made 2-3 days in advance. The pie crust can be baked one day in advance, but we don’t recommend that you bake it any earlier than this for optimal texture and freshness. The cream should be whipped and the pie should be assembled no earlier than the day of serving– but these are the easiest and most fun parts of putting your pie together!
  • Really take your time for the crust. Butter crust can be fickle, and the addition of coconut makes this crust slightly more challenging to work with. You’ll want to make sure you have just the right consistency before rolling it out and shaping (see the recipe for details). Don’t cut corners when it comes to chilling the crust in both stages, and make sure you have nice golden brown edges before removing the dried beans, and after the beans have been removed during the second stage of your blind bake.
  • Don’t skimp on the vanilla bean. Seriously. Paying a few bucks for a vanilla bean may seem unnecessary, but using this one ingredient makes all the difference and you can literally taste the seeds in every bite. The coconut pastry cream is the star component of this pie, and the vanilla bean is an absolute must.
  • Don’t fret about the piping. At the Dahlia Bakery and other Tom Douglas restaurants, they pipe the whipped cream on top of the pie, which gives you a gorgeous result, but if you don’t have a piping bag or piping tip, simply spread the whipped cream on top with a spatial and top with the shredded coconut and white chocolate. The coconut and chocolate will dress up the pie and give it an amazing aesthetic and texture.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

A Very Small Window of Temperature Comfort


"Eventually , there will come a time when you will be constantly complaining about the heat."

Preschool Adventures for Jude (New School) and Rocco

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin