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Archive for June, 2009

Phase 2

My last post (about bread) has gone a little stale (ha).

Choosing to take the time to post a blog about bread, however, indicates a settling of life. That’s what this blog post is about. Phase 2.
Sarah’s gone and once again I am spending my days alone. I’ve always been a good loner, though: creative enough to find pleasure in the mundane as well as the exciting. I love waking up, having breakfast with E, and then having the whole day of possibilities in front of me. Instead of spending time daytripping around on a $5 Tap, I’m found closer to home. I’ve seen as much as I need; I’m comfortable with Los Angeles’ offerings. I know my way around. I’m giving directions to strangers.

I can’t work here. Easily. I don’t want to step on any toes if I try to find a job and manage to work for 3-4 months just to have customs figure that out when I re-enter Canada. I arrived here as a tourist and so tourist I shall gladly be. The thought of not being able to work because I can’t work is a pleasant one. It means I have a lot of time to resurrect my inner art geek and work on my portfolio for when I can work. This, in combination with my waning insatiable need to be outside, is good. Spending a day inside at the computer gets easier.

I’ve been running a lot in my neighbourhood. The Valley, with its proximity to the mountains, is fabulous for trail runs. I’ve joined an adventure running club and am incorporating elevation and rattle snake sightings into my running vocabulary (“oh, it was just a 3 snake run”). Also a sign of settling: I’ve replaced my runners with trail shoes. Tomorrow our group meet is in Altadena as we run Arroyo Seco Canyon on the Gabrielino Trail. Last week it was Mulholland dirt trail through the Santa Monica Mountains. On Sundays, it’s me & my iPod up Wilacre Park.

Twice it’s happened: I’m at Trader Joe’s and someone asks me if I’m on break from a shoot. Do I look like I should be in the movies? The first time, I was flattered. The second time, it’s blog material. My closest TJ’s is next to Warner & Universal and the people that shop there have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi chic, but, golly.

We’re only 3 miles north of Hollywood. Specifically its epicentre at Vine (this is where the mountain that separates us plays a vital role). Every now and then when I need certain groceries TJ’s doesn’t have, I venture through the canyon to my other local grocery store, and into what can only be described as “11pm weekend armageddon Richmond/Adelaide/John Yonge & Dundas Square x 100” where I must Hollywood Walk of Fame myself past that dang Chinese Theatre and inevitably be mauled by Johnny Depp impersonators, Transformer & Snoopy costumed street entertainers, petitioning crazies, Lauren Conrad Girls, Michael Jackson mourners, fat American tourists, babies. I need to somehow incorporate my apparent potential as an actress in the Valley towards these thankfully infrequent yet always awkward Hollywood shopping excursions. But, yes, the tahini’s worth it.

What hasn’t changed? I continue to be enamoured – romanced – by the flora of Southern California. The variety and size of the roses. This. The abundance of fruit trees: not only citrus but peach, plum, pomegranate and fig. Date palms dropping the ripe stuff right onto the ground (like gold from the sky), and the ridiculous availability at my local farmer’s market: grapes of wide variety, watermelon, freshly picked guava and avocado. Oh, and I’ve seen it: banana palms are blooming. Phase 2 = banana season.

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Quarrantine Monday

For some reason, E left the house for work this morning with his AND my keys. We live in one of those gated communities (like Melrose Place, Sarah says, but def. not that fancy) with a main doorway, which, for weeks, was broken and didn’t require a key to just open it up and walk right in. Until this weekend when it was fixed.

As “Happy Homemaker”, I had a whole list of things to do today outside the house (mail letters, poke around the health food store, drop some items off at the Goodwill, run around the track for a bit). Instead, I’ve gotten quite a number of things done inside the house, including baking some pumpernickel bread. At the top of my list for a while was to update the ol’ blog and to learn more about posting photos. Friends, the day has come.

By this time, I thought surely I’d have posted way more on food/cooking/baking than I have. This’ll hopefully be the beginning of many food posts.

Two weeks ago, I baked the most amazing vegan pumpernickel bread by following a gluten-free recipe I’d found online. If you know anything about gluten-free flours, or flours of varying levels of tolerable gluten, then you will know that gluten-free flours lack the ability to rise and to bind. I didn’t have the specific flours needed in the online recipe at the time so I baked the entire works with dark rye flour (which has gluten, but in a much smaller amount to wheat). The bread was delicious. Bits of orange rind (courtesy my neighbor’s yard), way more caraway seeds than the recipe called for, rye & flax seeds: the works. My only issue was that it was SO dense even the yeast lost its battle.

I love baking, and bake quite a bit. I enjoy knowing it’s someone’s birthday and surprising them with something baked. I also enjoy the challenge of using natural, whole-food ingredients as alternatives to the typical butter/eggs/white flour/white sugar ingredients. I simply want to know and be comfortable with what I’m eating. I also learn a lot from baking, as it is finicky. After that first loaf, I decided the next time I bake this bread I would mix up the ingredients a bit. I always have the most success when I go out on a limb and personalize the recipes I follow, or completely make stuff up from scratch. Domestic instinct.

While poking around in my cabinet for different types of flours, I came across my jar of teff. Teff is an ancient, gluten-free grain with a rich array of minerals and nutrients. You’d know teff if you’ve ever eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant; it’s the main flour used in those foamy flatbreads. I used up the jar – it was only maybe 1 cup – and then used up my jar of dark rye – one more cup. Half a cup of spelt and away it went into the oven.

As of 10 minutes ago, my newest creation has been sliced into: so good! The teff really compliments the rye and the whole thing has that pumpernickel-y depth that everyone loves so much. I bet leaving the covered unbaked loaf out on my balcony to rise gave it that little bit extra. I have given this creation a very “Kathryn” name: Rich Teff-Rye, cheekily after Rich Terfry. Oh, it was hard having to say goodbye to Jurgen Gothe after growing up with Disc Drive on CBC but Mr. Terfry is so good at what he does even my Dad likes him.

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In spite of this which began yesterday, I took an 8-minute shower instead of the recommended 5.

I posted some photos on Facebook of my new locale.

I am making blueberry ice cream later.

Getting used to Center, flavor & color… it seems like such small stuff but it always makes me look at the sign twice.

Observations:

Americans are really really nice. Bus drivers, strangers at Trader Joe’s, Texan tourists (I love that I know this place well enough to give directions). I’ve heard Americans are mean or avoid conversation and that Canadians are the nice ones, but so far it’s fair game.

The dollar stores here have a produce and frozen meats section.

There’s a soda called Fruit 66.

If you have just given birth but are unable to keep your baby for any reason, you can drop it off at a fire station. There’s a sign on our local Hollywood Way unit: “Safe Surrender”, with an image of two sets of hands passing a baby between them.

The News:

On first moving here, all our TV stations were updating the news way more frequently than our 6pm and 10pm Canadian broadcasts… there’s news every two hours on ABC for instance, YET it is always news about Southern California. At first, I was mad, thinking, “isn’t there a war? What’s happening in other countries?”… CBC always updates a global day’s worth of news, whereas here, It’s only regional. I now know why. It’s because crime is SO everywhere. Every day, someone in LA is dead. Or missing. Or shot at, or at-large. A man in a high-speed chase has smashed into three parked cars in Studio City and the helicopter is on the scene, reporting every 5 minutes. A son killed his mother who was a teacher at a nearby school. A kid died in a car accident enroute to prom. A bus hit a cyclist in Westwood. And this is all news from the past week! It’s amazing.

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