Quick Fix: Joan’s on Third!

February 13, 2006

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–BEDROOM–MORNING

The radio BLARES at the very second that it changes to 6:30AM. A hand reaches out and smacks it so hard that it turns off.

INT. BEDROOM–LATER

Only half a face is nestled into a plush pillow. The other half is obscured by a warm quilt that happily smothers the rest of the body too.

Punky, perched upon his throne of the other pillow, wakes and stretches his front paws out onto the half face. A hand pushes down the covers, revealing a groggy Caryn underneath. She swats away the paw on her face.

Punky stands up, hunches his back and walks out the stretch. He sniffs Caryn’s face before giving her nose a dry, sandpaper lick.

CARYN

Cut it out, Punky.

She squeezes her eyes tight for a second before they pop open wide. Sunlight is already bouncing on the bed.

Caryn bolts upright and spins to the clock: 10:30AM!

CARYN

Crap, crap, crap!

She jumps out of bed, sending Punky flying from the room. She SMACKS her toe into the nightstand.

CARYN

OW!

She hops into the bathroom. The dust settles in the sunlight as Punky cautiously peeks back through the bedroom door.

EXT. CITY STREETS–LATER

The Honda elicits a chorus of horns as it squeezes in and out of traffic. Caryn, with sopping wet hair, is too engrossed on her cell phone to notice.

CARYN

No, Flora, don’t tell him anything! I’ll be there in a twenty.

She tosses the phone on the seat and grabs her mascara from her purse as she barely misses the bumper of a pretty Ferrari she carelessly cuts off.

INT. CAFE–MOMENTS LATER

The narrow and brightly lit room is packed. Caryn takes advantage of two chatty and oblivious women to manuever herself ahead of them in line. She peers at the virtual array of sumptious fare in the shiny glass cases: a myriad of fresh salads, grilled vegetables almost too perfect to eat, macaroni and cheese cut into thick, gooey squares.

As she waits for the man ahead of her to finish placing his order, she stands on her toes to get a look at the other counters further down the line. On one end is a glass case filled with a half dozen different kinds of cupcakes and an assortment of muffins and scones. The case on the other end of the store displays desserts so decadent, it’s hard to tell exactly what they are. Caryn eyes a few selections covered in rich, dark chocolate.

WAITER

Next!

Caryn gives the waiter her best Chesire-Cat grin.

CARYN

I need your help.

INT. MR. R.’S KITCHEN–LATER

Caryn dashes in with a couple shopping bags labeled “Joan’s on Third.” Flora takes them from her hands and immediately starts unpacking them as Caryn grabs serving trays from the cabinet.

They pop open the plastic containers and dump the contents into bowls: curried chick peas, lentil salad, crisp green beans, mushrooms and walnuts. Caryn lines the bowls up on the tray and garnishes it with fresh french bread. She rushes out with Flora following with plates and silverware.

INT. KITCHEN–MINUTES LATER

Caryn re-enters, now much calmer. She takes a deep breath and finishes unpacking the bags. She arranges a couple cupcakes and scones on another tray. Finally, she opens a slightly opaque bag of crisped rice squares. She stacks them neatly in the center of the tray and steps back to examine the arrangement.

Pleased, she crunches into a rice square of her own and takes the tray to her waiting boss.

Joan’s On Third

8350 West Third

Los Angeles, CA 90048

323-655-2285 ph.

HOURS: Monday-Saturday 10AM-8PM; Sunday 11AM-6PM

I’ve only recently discovered this absolute gem of a restaurant and gourmet marketplace. If you’re in a pinch for something good enough to serve to guests, this is the place to go! The food is outstanding and prepared with expertise and an eye towards perfection.

They also have a small selection of artisan grocery items. The puffed rice squares (pictured) are a sort of rice crispy bar for grown-ups, toasty and light.

Check out their gorgeous site for more information: Joan’s on Third

Warming Up: Chicken & Artichokes!

January 31, 2006

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INT. MR. R.’S KITCHEN–AFTERNOON

The cast iron skillet is back in use as chicken breasts sizzle and pop to a golden brown in olive oil. Caryn is half engulfed in a low cabinet, rooting for something that doesn’t seem to be there.

With all her CLANGING, she doesn’t see Hank enter, dressed in swim trunks. He swings a towel over his bare shoulder.

HANK

Looking for something?

Caryn bolts up to a standing position, her head colliding violently with an open cabinet door.

HANK (CONT’D)

Oooo. Are you okay?

He reaches out to her but she brushes off the pain with a smile, the model of professionalism.

CARYN

Yeah. What can I do for you?

She opens a can of artichoke hearts. Hank looks in the fridge.

HANK

I’m just getting a soda.

CARYN

Isn’t it a little chilly for sun bathing?

She pulls her wool cardigan closed as she drains the artichokes in the sink.

CARYN (CONT’D)

You boys seemed to get plenty of sun while sailing around the world for a month.

Hank examines the tan line around his waist.

HANK

Nah. I could use a little more.

Caryn focuses on a pot of wild rice simmering on the stove. Hank sneaks a peak.

HANK (CONT’D)

I’m starved. Can I taste?

He tries to take the spoon from her, but she playfully smacks his hand away.

CARYN

I’m trying to work here.

Hank laughs and rests against the counter to watch her stir the rice.

HANK

Twenty Hollywood types cruising around on that boat and not one of them could cook. We sure missed you.

CARYN

Well, I can’t say I missed you poking around the kitchen all the time.

She returns to her search in the cabinet. Hank steals a sliced mushroom from a bowl and heads to the door.

HANK

Alright, kiddo. Call me when lunch is ready.

Caryn watches him leave. As the door swings closed, she can’t help snickering to herself…just a little.

Chicken & Artichoke Casserole

This is an old recipe from Cooking Light that I’ve adapted over the years. Satisfying on a chilly day.

1 box of wild rice (6 oz.), preferrably seasoned like the Near East brand products

salt, pepper, paprika

4 medium-sized chicken breasts

1 TB. olive oil

1 TB. butter

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup flour

1 TB. fresh rosemary, chopped

2-1/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup dry sherry

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare rice according to package directions. Spoon into 13×9-inch baking pan.

2. Dusk chicken breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat butter and olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add chicken and cook unti lightly browned, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from skillet.

3. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute until mushrooms release their moisture and moisture mostly evaporates, about 5 minutes. Whisk together flour, broth and sherry until combined. Add liquid and rosemary to mushrooms in skillet. Stirring constantly, cook until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.

4. Arrange chicken over rice and top with artichokes. Spoon sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and artichokes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until thoroughly heated, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Back to Buttermilk Country Bread!

January 26, 2006

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–LATE, LATE NIGHT

The back door swings open and Mr. R. stumbles through dragging enough luggage for an entire family. Hank follows with an equal count of bags. They deposit their loads just inside the door and stretch their aching arms.

MR. R.

I just couldn’t take another day in St. Barth’s. I’m exhausted.

HANK

I’m starving.

Flora enters from the dining room, rubbing her eyes awake.

FLORA

You made it home safe. I wait for you.

HANK

Where’s Caryn?

FLORA

She left. It’s very late.

Flora straps a couple bags over her shoulder.

MR. R.

(inhaling deeply)

Is that bread I smell?

FLORA.

Yes, tomorrow’s breakfast.

She drags a bag behind her out the door into the house. Hank and Mr. R. spot the warm loaf cooling on the stove at the same time.

HANK

Is it tomorrow yet?

INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–LATER

The kitchen glows blue with the early morning light. Caryn comes in, wet hair pinned into a bun at her neck. She drops the newspaper on the counter next to a wooden cutting board scattered with crumbs. Her eyes narrow on the knife perched next to the tray of butter also speckled with crumbs.

CARYN

Welcome home, sir.

She tosses the cutting board and knife into the sink and opens the fridge with a knowing smirk. Hidden in the back is a loaf pan filled with soft white dough just barely rising in anticipation of an early breakfast. She spins the oven dial to 350.

Buttermilk Country Bread

The honey in this bread makes it surprisingly reminiscent of a wheat bread. Although I almost always bake the loaf in the oven, I confess that I prefer to make the dough in my bread machine, where I can just throw in all the ingredients and hit a button. The instructions below are for those who don’t have a bread machine. Put the shaped loaf in the fridge overnight and finish the rising in the morning while the oven heats. Nothing like fresh bread for breakfast!

2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

2 TB. butter, softened

2 TB. honey

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 c. buttermilk, warm

1 TB. melted butter

1. In heavy-duty mixer, combine flour, yeast, butter, honey, salt and baking soda until mixed. With mixer running, pour in warm buttermilk. When dough begins to pull away from the sides, switch to dough hook. Knead on low speak until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes and then knead for 1 minute longer.

2. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

3. Lightly grease 8.5-by-4.5 loaf pan. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Roll or pat into a rectangle about 1/2 inch in thickness. Beginning at narrow end, roll up the rectangle to form a loaf. Place the loaf, seam side down in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until near top of pan, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush top of loaf with melted butter. Bake until golden brown or the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 minutes.

5. Turn loaf onto rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

To Return!

January 16, 2006

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–NIGHT

CARYN

Dearest Readers and Friends,

Thank you so much for your support and kind notes during my hiatus!

I just want to drop you a note to say that I’m finally working on some new entries and hope to be back in full swing within the week.

I sincerely apologize for the unexpected delay. I know it must be frustrating to follow a blog that so abruptly disappears for an extended period.

Nevertheless, your unwavering interest in my site is a constant inspiration to me.


I look forward to returning to our story.

A timer DINGS from the kitchen.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Oops! I’ll be right back…

Lovin’ Lamb & Eggplant Casserole!

November 30, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–AFTERNOON

Caryn slices through eggplant as a skillet sizzles nearby. The swinging door creaks open and Mr. R.’s head pokes through.

MR. R.

Going to the gym. Be back in a couple hours.

She nods and stirs the browning meat in the skillet.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Is that lamb? Looks good.

He withdraws his head from the kitchen. Caryn chops fresh mint.

The door swings open again and she rolls her eyes.

CARYN

Change your mind already?

MAN’S VOICE (O.S.)

What?

Caryn looks up to identify the unfamiliar voice. She immediately straightens her hair at the vision of Abercrombie & Fitch standing before her. The SANDY-HAIRED MAN extends his hand.

MAN

Hi, I’m Hank. You must be Caryn.

She nods and shyly shakes his hand. The meat hisses from the stove.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Are you, um, a friend of–

HANK

Yeah, we’re buddies from high school. Just visiting for a while.

Caryn pulls her gaze away from his bright blue eyes and turns her attention to the skillet.

CARYN

He could use a friend around here.

Hank leans casually against the counter.

HANK

I hear you’re a great cook.

He peeks over her shoulder to see what she’s stirring.

HANK (CONT’D)

Is that lamb? Since when does he eat lamb?

Caryn turns her head at the accusation and they are nose to nose.

CARYN

He’s eaten it before.

They both look back down at the meat.

HANK

Huh. Interesting.

After a beat, he smiles at her with a sugary grin.

HANK (CONT’D)

I, however, love lamb.

Lamb & Eggplant Casserole with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

I adapted this dish from a recipe published in the November 2004 Woman’s Day. It’s a pretty lean dish if you’re looking for a satisfying, but healthier meal between the Holiday festivities.

3 eggplants, about 1 lb. each, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 TB. olive oil, divided

1 lb. lean ground lamb

2 cups chopped onion

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 TB. cumin

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

salt & pepper

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

SAUCE:

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt

1 TB. finely grated lemon zest

juice from one medium lemon

salt & pepper

1. Sprinkle 1 TB. salt over eggplant slices and set in colander over bowl to drain. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. After 30 minutes, dry eggplant with paper towels and place slices on cookie sheet. Brush both sides of slices with olive oil. Bake until eggplant is tender and slightly brown, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in 1 TB. olive oil until tender. Add lamb and saute until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in cumin, cinnamon, mint and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with half the eggplant and then half the tomatoes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Top with meat mixture, then layer with remaining eggplant, tomatoes and cheese.

4. Bake uncovered until hot, about 30 minutes.

5. To make sauce, mix ingredients together until smooth. Serve with casserole.

Serves 6.

Words, Words: Food Poetry!

November 13, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–STAIRS–SAME

Caryn skips down the steps in a hurry. Mr. R. appears at the top of the stairs, clothes rumpled from weeks in bed.

MR. R.

Caryn! Wait.

INT. HALLWAY

Caryn escapes down the long corridor. Mr. R. gains some ground behind her.

MR. R.

Caryn!

INT. LIBRARY

She weaves in and out of the fancy furniture sitting unused as always. Mr. R. bumps an end table and knocks over a vase that shatters to the ground, but he doesn’t stop.

MR. R.

You don’t understand!

Caryn disappears through the door at the end.

INT. DINING ROOM

Mr. R. pauses by the long, shiny table to catch his breath. Caryn breezes through the swinging door to the kitchen.

INT. KITCHEN

She whirls around and waits. Mr. R. barrels through the door in such a fury that he has no time to stop and smacks right into her.

Caryn doesn’t budge as he regains his composure. He takes a deep breath.

MR. R.

Caryn. It’s not true.

CARYN

Oh? Really? Beautiful, rich actress with whom you spend all your time suddenly turns up married to you? Makes sense to me.

MR. R.

No, it’s not. I mean, it doesn’t. We’re not married. I never even wanted to marry her.

CARYN

How very sweet of you.

MR. R.

That’s not what I’m saying. Just listen, okay?

He holds his hands out as if trying to grasp something, but then clenches them together as he tries to organize the words racing through his head. Caryn waits for the explanation.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

A. has always been after me. You saw how she acted. She told all her friends that we were a couple. And it always got back to me, but I just let it go.

CARYN

If it isn’t true, why let people believe it?

MR. R.

I don’t know. I guess I thought it was harmless.

Caryn folds her arms across her chest.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

But I began to see on this movie that her plans were far more detrimental than I initially thought. She kept pushing me to go out with her all the time. And everywhere we went, there were always photographers. Even in the backwoods of Mississippi, the papparazzi happened to appear.

CARYN

She wanted to create a story about you.

MR. R.

And the more I realized it, the further I backed away. Which of course incensed her to no end.

CARYN

Ah.

MR. R.

And so I ran.

CARYN

And hid.

MR. R.

Hoping that it was over.

CARYN

But the tabloids…

MR. R.

Yes, the tabloids. They’ll take whatever story they can get. I’m sure she fed it directly to them.

CARYN

Why? Did she think that you would somehow start to believe it too?

MR. R.

I don’t know what she thinks.

Mr. R. runs his hands through his hair and takes a seat at the little table in the corner.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

And I don’t know what I’m going to do now. All this press will make the movie flop before it’s even finished.

Caryn watches him for a beat before sitting at the table next to him.

CARYN

It’s really none of my business anyway.

He stares at a spot on the table. Caryn forces a cheerful smile.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Well, at least you’re out of bed.

Mr. R. looks up at the thought and takes in the room, a little confused.

MR. R.

Did you redecorate?

Caryn shrugs innocently.

CARYN

I got bored.

He stands up and goes to the fridge, but before he opens it, he peels off a magnet with “dumpling” printed on it. It isn’t the only one. Dozens of little white and black magnets are arranged in mouth-watering descriptions of edible thoughts.

Mr. R. looks at Caryn, eyebrows raised.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Okay, I got really bored.

An almost imperceptible laugh escapes from his mouth.

CARYN (CONT’D)

You’re gonna be okay, you know.

He returns the smile and nods.

MR. R.

Yeah. I know.

But it isn’t the best performance of his career…

Food bloggers, your kitchen isn’t complete without a set of these magnets to help you to find the right word to describe your favorite recipe! Fun and inspirational!

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Food Lover Magnetic Poetry Kit

Photo Finish: Pork Tenderloin!

October 31, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–BEDROOM–EVENING

The massive king bed nearly disappears beneath the volumes upon volumes of books and newspapers. The curtains are drawn and the light is so dim that a lone figure laying on the only open space on the bed is barely visible. He faintly resembles Mr. R. under the scruffy beard, only this man seems more portly and full than the fit, handsome actor.

The door to the bedroom creaks open, letting in a blinding stream of light. The man shifts to one side and turns the page of the book he is reading. The deep, baritone voice confirms his identity.

MR. R.

Thanks, Flora.

The woman puts the tray down on top of the books and he hungrily takes a look. A healthy green salad, some red potatoes dressed in rosemary and olive oil, and just pink slices of tender pork dabbed with a creamy mustard sauce. His mouth waters and he reaches for the fork tucked under the plate.

But he freezes before taking a bite. Poking out from under the linen napkin is a picture of Miss A.’s smiling face. Mr. R. slides the dinner items aside to reveal the full cover of the tabloid magazine currently sold on every grocery store shelf across the country.

He inhales deeply at the incriminating photo of the exuberant actress linked tightly to his own arm. The slow exhale is an extended effort to release wrath before speaking again.

MR. R.

Tell Caryn I don’t think this is humorous.

CARYN

Why don’t you tell her yourself?

Mr. R. guility looks up just in time to see his chef offer him a wicked smirk before slamming the door behind her.

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

This is another of my mother’s recipes that my sister and I love. Pork tenderloin is one of the simplest dishes to make, and yet it turns out a very elegant, tender meat. If there are leftovers the next day, the pork slices nicely for sandwiches or to top a salad. The mustard sauce grows more intense the longer it sits.

2 pork tenderloins (about 1-1/4 lb each)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup bourbon or tequila

2 TB. brown sugar

Sauce:

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 TB. chopped scallions

1 TB. dry mustard

1-1/2 TB. vinegar

1. Combine soy, bourbon (or tequila) and sugar. Mix well. Marinate pork in mixture for 2-3 hours, basting occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3. Remove pork from marinade and bake for 1 hour, basting occasionally with reserve marinade. When internal temperature of 150 degrees is reached, remove from oven and set aside for five minutes (temperature will continue to climb slightly).

4. Combine all sauce ingredients and mix well.

5. Carve pork into thin, diagonal slices and serve with sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Curve Ball: Risotto Cakes!

October 19, 2005

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INT. MR. R’S KITCHEN–DAY

Caryn stumbles into the kitchen, trying to carry way too many grocery bags in at once. She unloads the bags in the middle of the floor and takes a breath.

Flora is sitting at the table. The baseball game plays from the television in the corner.

FLORA

I’ve been trying your cell phone for an hour!

Caryn grabs the phone from her back pocket and flips it open. Dead.

Caryn

Sorry, Flora.

Flora starts to pick up the bags.

FLORA

Oh, it’s just that he wanted those rice balls again.

Caryn bends down to hear her.

CARYN

Rice balls? You mean the risotto cakes?

Flora nods.

FLORA

Yes, those cakes. With artichokes.

CARYN

But I don’t have any more artichokes. And I was just at the store!

Flora smiles apologetically. Caryn tosses the phone on the counter and heads back out.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Stupid cell phone.

INT. GROCERY STORE–LATER

Caryn scampers around the corner armed with the artichokes to discover that the only open checkout lane has a long line of HOLLYWOOD MISFITS. Their carts are filled as if expecting a blizzard.

Caryn gets in line. She smiles hopefully at the PINK-HAIRED MAN ahead of her and nods toward her two artichokes. He turns away as if he never saw her.

She sighs loudly, but no one in line hears. She picks up a copy of Cooking Light and flips impatiently through it. No interest in reading, she goes to replace it when she GASPS so dramatically that the whole line turns around to see if she’s okay.

Caryn doesn’t notice the attention of the crowd. She slowly lifts a large, glossy tabloid off the rack.

CARYN

Oh nooooo.

Sprawled across the cover is a huge photograph of Mr. R. and Miss A., arm in arm, laughing. In bright yellow letters, the headline reads: “Secretly Married?”. Caryn holds the magazine loosely in her hands, afraid to turn the page.

TEENAGE GIRL (O.S.)

Are you getting out of line, lady?

Caryn dazedly looks up to see the line moving ahead. The TEENAGE GIRL behind her taps her foot on the tile.

TEENAGE GIRL (CONT’D)

I’m missing the game here. Are you getting out of line or not?

CARYN

Yeah. I am.

Artichoke-Leek Risotto Cakes

2 large artichokes

1 TB. lemon juice

2 large leeks

1 garlic clove

2 TB. olive oil

3/4 cup arborio or carnaroli rice

2-1/2 chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups panko, or crisp breadcrumbs

1. Hack out the heart of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Clean all the fuzzy parts off and dice into large chunks. Douse with lemon juice. Slice white and light green parts of the leeks into 1/2″ slices.

2. Pulse artichokes, leeks and garlic in food processor until finely chopped.

3. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan.

4. Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet or risotto pan. Add the artichoke, leeks and garlic and saute until tender. Stir in the rice and cook over medium heat until opaque, about 1 minute. Pour 1 cup of the hot broth into the rice, stirring constantly until liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the rice while it simmers. When all the stock has nearly been absorbed and the rice is thick, stir in parmesan until melted.

5. Remove risotto from heat and spread out in a tray to cool until room temperature (or refrigerate overnight). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet.

6. With wet hands, form risotto into compressed round balls about the size of a fist. Flatten slightly and dip each one into egg and then panko. Space cakes evenly on oiled cookie sheet.

7. Bake until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 10-12 cakes.

Eclectic Edibles: Blogging By Mail 2!

October 12, 2005

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INT. CARYN’S DUPLEX APARTMENT–NIGHT

Crumpled newspaper spills from an open box on the floor. Punky dives in and out of the box, sending the newspaper flying.

Caryn lays comatose on the couch with the television remote in her hand. Matt appears outside the screen door, shirttail deliberately untucked in his stylishly rebellious way.

MATT

What happened in here?

He steps through the door and into the mess.

MATT (CONT’D)

Oo! Biscotti!

He helps himself to the crunchy cookie dotted with almonds and sorts through the rest of the loot sprawled across the coffee table: rich brownies, chewy ginger candy, green tomato chutney, exotic spices.

MATT (CONT’D)

Where’d you get all this stuff?

Caryn finally shows signs of life.

CARYN

Blogging By Mail.

Matt coughs on the crumbs still in his throat.

MATT

You got this from someone you don’t even know?

CARYN

I know her. I read her blog.

Matt peers carefully at the biscotti in his hand.

MATT

Do you still have a blog?

Caryn sits up and takes another brownie.

CARYN

Tread lightly, my friend. Or I won’t share the Mallomars.

MATT

Mallomars? She sent you Mallomars?

She pulls out the box from under a blanket and hands it to him.

CARYN

There’s only a few left.

MATT

You ate the whole box?

Caryn nods and grimaces.

CARYN

Yeah, and now I don’t feel so good.

Matt bites into the marshmallowy goodness of the rare California Mallomar.

MATT

Then I don’t suppose you’re up for dinner and a movie.

CARYN

Mmmmm…maybe just the movie.

She stands up, dumping crumbs and wrappers on the floor. Matt looks her up and down.

MATT

You should clean up. It may be dark outside, but I can’t be seen with you like that.

Caryn begins stuffing the edibles into a bright blue tote bag. Punky scowls at the face of the dog printed on the side.

MATT (CONT’D)

Seriously, don’t you want to change or something?

She snatches the Mallomars out of his hand, shoves them in the bag and straps the bag over her shoulder.

CARYN

Let’s go.

Blogging By Mail is like having a penpal who cooks! I received my package last Friday from Samantha at The Samantha Files. I was so excited to sample all the treats that I promptly gave myself a tummy ache. The bounty included:

-A sampling of Penzey‘s French style peppercorns and Indonesian cinnamon

-Homemade almond-hazelnut biscotti and pecan brownies

-A bag of Ginger Chews

-a grinder of a spice mix called Solar Power (not pictured)

-a colorful totebag from Fishs Eddy (not pictured)

-Homemade organic green tomato chutney (not pictured)

-a box of the very-difficult-to-find-on-the-West-Coast Mallomars (not pictured, not for sharing).

Thanks Samantha for brightening my day with such a versatile and delicious mix of goodies!!

If you want to participate in the next Blogging By Mail event, read about how to participate at My Little Kitchen.

Goodness Gracious: Gyoza!

September 30, 2005

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–EVENING

Caryn and Winnie sit on pillows on the floor around the coffee table. Armed with a fancy set of chopsticks, each girl is devouring her own plate of tender dumplings stuffed as full as they can get.

CARYN

I never understand why people take the time to make perfect pleats on these things. Who looks at the pleats?

WINNIE

No time to examine them on the way to my mouth.

Caryn dips the last dumpling in the dark sauce and finishes it off. Winnie sets down her chopsticks.

WINNIE (CONT’D)

Still no sign of him?

CARYN

No. I’m getting bored. Maybe it’s time to look for another job.

Winnie laughs.

WINNIE

There’s no pleasing you, is there? Either you’re overworked and wanting to quit, or you’re bored…and wanting to quit. I can’t keep up.

Caryn starts to clear the table.

CARYN

All I know is that celebrities are weird. Who can keep up with them?

She plops her hands on her hips.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Maybe I’ll go to law school and become a lawyer like you. That seems interesting.

Winnie snickers at the thought.

WINNIE

Enough shop talk.

She gets up and follows Caryn into the kitchen.

WINNIE (CONT’D)

Got any mochi?

Gyoza (Pot Stickers)

This is a fairly traditional recipe for gyoza. You can substitute half the pork with an equal amount of minced, raw shrimp. Or chicken. Or use all vegetables. The mix is easy. The folding and pleating is the labor-intensive part.

5 oz. Napa cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 lb. ground pork

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

2 green onions, green and white parts, chopped

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 TB. soy sauce

2 tsp. rice wine

1 TB. sesame oil

40 round gyoza skins

4 TB. vegetable oil, divided

1 cup chicken stock, divided

Dipping sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

splash of sesame oil

1. Salt cabbage in a collander over a large bowl. Toss to combine. Set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Combine pork through sesame oil with hands in a large bowl. Squeeze excess water from cabbage. Add cabbage to pork mixture and stir until well-combined.

3. Place a rounded teaspoon of pork mixture in the center of the gyoza skin. Wet the edges of the skin with water on your fingertip. Fold in half to form a semi-circle. Make pleats along the edges, squeezing tight to seal and tapping the bottom on the work surface to flatten. Set aside and repeat with remaining skins.

4. Heat 1 TB. of oil in wok or large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place about ten gyozas in wok and pan fry until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.

5. Pour 1/4 cup stock into wok and cover with lid to steam gyozas until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside.

6. Heat another TB. of oil in wok. Repeat process with another ten dumplings until all are cooked. Serve hot with dipping sauce.