Griffith Observatory – Los Angeles

Star Trekking Griffith Observatory – Los Angeles Visited: December 2017 If you want to see some real stars when you visit the Hollywood area, forget Hollywood… this place is it!  The Griffith Observatory is one of Southern California’s most famous landmarks, and millions of visitors have gotten spaced out here out since it opened in 1935.  It’s a short drive from Hollywood, and is a fun, yet educational, spot to take in at day or night, especially when a celestial event is taking place. The land where Griffith Observatory sits was once a part of a Spanish settlement known as Rancho Los Felis. The property remained in the Felis family for more than a century and was subdivided through generations … Read more…

Almond Tart with Raspberry Sauce

Just Like Mamma Used To Make Almond Tart with Raspberry Sauce Dessert Returning from our first trip to Italy in 2001, we were enamored with all food Italian, especially the desserts (Pignoli cookies … gave me energy to join in a festival in Siena; Zabaglione in Rome; Panna Cotta in, well, everywhere … yum). I immediately ordered several Italian cookbooks including Dolci Toscani, The Book of Tuscan Desserts, by Anne Bianchi and Sandra Lott.  I have tried a few of these recipes over the years but the one I keep going back to is the Torta della mamma con fragole (Almond Tart with Raspberry Sauce), which is equally delicious with or without the raspberry sauce.  Interestingly, I read that the … Read more…

Dorie’s Mincemeat Oatmeal Bar Cookies with Bourbon Glaze

Try It,You’ll Like It! Dorie’s Mincemeat Oatmeal Bar Cookies with Bourbon Glaze Do you have a mincemeat pie fan in your household?  When I first met Tom I had never even heard of mincemeat pie, let alone tasted one.  But it is a family tradition apparently handed down on his dad’s side of the family who are English, so every Thanksgiving we would pick up a mincemeat pie. Tom’s mom was in charge of the hard sauce (butter, powdered sugar and bourbon); and Tom would eat one slice of that pie and we would eventually toss the rest.  No one had any interest in that pie except Tom.  I didn’t even know what mincemeat was… for some reason in the … Read more…

Make Ahead: Tom’s Mom’s Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onion and Cognac Gravy

Just Like Mom Used To Make! Make Ahead: Tom’s Mom’s Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onion and Cognac Gravy Here at the Casa de MaiTaiTom & Tracy, there is only one mashed potato recipe that is served at each and every Thanksgiving meal … Tom’s Mom’s Mashed Potatoes.  I love these so much because they are creamy and delicious and best of all, are made the night before so that you can cross one more item off your Thanksgiving To Do List.  Just bring to room temperature, fluff with a fork and pop in the oven or microwave to reheat just before serving. Tom’s mom used White Rose potatoes, but we prefer Yukon Golds.  I usually … Read more…

Thien Hau Temple – Los Angeles

The Tao of Tom Thien Hau Temple – Los Angeles Visited: November 2017 Entering Chinatown in Los Angeles, Thien Hau Temple beckoned me on a unique journey, where, unbeknownst to me at the time, I would eventually experience the “Tao of Tom.”  Once again, this was a Southern California landmark chosen entirely at random with me not knowing exactly what would transpire.  As so often is the case, it was the “unexpected” that highlighted my visit…or should I say, “visits.”                                               As it turned out, I would make two trips during the same week to find out as much as I could about this colorful Taoist temple operated … Read more…

Cranberry Pineapple Jell-O Mousse

A Side Dish That Fits The Mold Cranberry Pineapple Jell-O Mousse Here is an easy make-ahead recipe for your Thanksgiving menu.  This was shared with me by our friend, Helen, who brought it to Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, and we now always request she make it.  When I was a kid, my Nana used to make a carrot pineapple Jell-O ring for Thanksgiving which I have to admit I’d never eat.  I’m not sure what I had against carrots as a kid, because I love them now.  I would also never eat the carrot cake that she made, which is DELICIOUS and one of Tom’s favorites (I’ll have to share that recipe some day). Tom, on the other … Read more…

Caramelized Bacon & Apple Coffee Cake with Bourbon Bacon Pecan Glaze

Bacon, Bourbon, Apples and … More Bacon! Caramelized Bacon & Apple Coffee Cake with Bourbon Bacon Pecan Glaze Autumn is taking its sweet time arriving here in lovely Southern California (hottest opening game in World Series history last week … 103 degrees).  Despite the heat, a few weeks ago my thoughts turned to comfort food and what is more enticing than apples, bacon and coffee cake?  Wow!  Just the title of this recipe had me drooling. I came across this recipe from Bacon Nation on the Chew and decided to liven things up a tad by caramelizing the bacon ala Barefoot Contessa from Foolproof.  Ina’s recipe is actually for appetizers, but it sounded so delicious I knew it would work … Read more…

Church of the Angels – Pasadena

England Comes To Pasadena Church of the Angels – Pasadena Visited: October 2017 It’s not often I mistake Southern California for the English countryside, but a few days ago while driving in the Pasadena, South Pasadena, Highland Park Triangle, for a brief moment I felt like I’d been transported to England.  The beautiful Church of the Angels stands on a small hill on Avenue 64, and it is truly reminiscent of the gorgeous little churches you see dotting the back roads of Great Britain. There’s a reason the church, set on three acres, reminded me of England since its looks are quite similar to Holmbury St Mary’s Church, near Dorking, Surrey, England (below).  Church of the Angels is said to … Read more…

Lincoln Memorial Shrine, Redlands Bowl & A.K. Smiley Public Library – Redlands

California’s Lincoln Memorial…and more! Lincoln Memorial Shrine, Redlands Bowl & A.K. Smiley Public Library – Redlands No score and three days ago, and dedicated to the proposition that all museums are created equal, I donned my stovepipe hat and traveled out to Redlands to check out the only museum west of the Mississippi River devoted to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; The Lincoln Memorial Shrine.  Honestly!  While there, I discovered two additional architectural points of interest located within walking distance of the museum that also piqued my curiosity.  My kind of day! First the Lincoln Memorial Shrine.  Why Redlands?  I’m glad you asked, because it’s a rather fascinating story. Robert Watchorn grew up very poor in England, so poor that … Read more…

Wedge Salad with Pancetta and Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing

Maytag Is Back! Wedge Salad with Pancetta and Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing Long, long ago (before I even met Tom!), I was lucky enough to work with my friend, Gloria.  On Fridays, Gloria and I would lunch at a restaurant in Long Beach called Simon & Seaforts and we would almost always start with a salad with this rich and creamy Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing.  Although Simon & Seaforts no longer exists (at least not in Long Beach), I have the recipe card from the restaurant, and while the ingredient list is long, it is well worth the effort.  Simon & Seafort’s served it over romaine greens with toasted slivered almonds, but it is equally as scrumptious on an old … Read more…