A blog of art, photography, food and writings.

Monday, April 30, 2007


It's quite a feat for a community to change its behaviors in order to live more green--especially when it comes to chucking the convenience of using plastic bags. But Modbury, England has done just that.

Read Bonnie Alter's article on Treehugger.com to see how one motivated and impassioned individual made a difference in her town by encouraging shopkeepers to reduce waste.

Modbury-A Town Without Plastic

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

5 x 7" watercolor collage

by Rena Williams, watercolor artist
Auburn, Alabama

Rena Williams's Blog
Rattling Gourd Gallery website

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


With Earth Day just hours away, green is on my mind. It seems that every magazine I flip through and each news program I listen to, tips abound on getting our earth back on track. I like to think that I'm doing my share, but there are still improvements my family and I can make--even if they're minor ones.

A few months ago I spotted an eco-friendly degreaser/lubricant/rust inhibitor at my local health food store. This week I bought it to use on a squeaky door. I've been patiently waiting for my husband to finish the WD-40 and 3-in-1, which we keep in garage, and the last time I checked, both were near their end. This was my opportunity to make the switch.

The product is called "Soy Lube" and it's made by BioKleen. This soy-based spray in a 4 oz. bottle can be used for stuck or slow-moving parts and can lubricate anything from chains to hinges. It also protects against corrosion and seals and dries out moisture.

In one quick spritz, my door hinge squeaked no more. And my husband, Bruce, gave the nod of approval.

Take a look at the product:
Buy Soy Lube

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

6.25 x 9.5"

by Rena Williams, watercolor artist
Auburn, Alabama

Rena Williams's Blog
Rattling Gourd Gallery website

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Monday, April 02, 2007


This past Saturday evening, my daughter and I met my fellow foodie-friend, Judy, at Cisco Burger in Long Beach (CA). The sleek, "green" burger joint is owned by Jesse James (yes, the guy married to Sandra Bullock) and customers who come to this establishment enjoy items from the simple menu, which can include an almond tart, depending on the day.

Since Judy lives outside of Boston, I assured her that on her next visit to the West Coast, we'd go on a mission to sample this confection at Cisco's. Why? Because I saw Jesse making his family dessert on The Martha Stewart Show and it seemed worth a jaunt across town to try it at his restaurant.

Last week Judy made it to Southern California and suggested that we meet at Cisco Burger on Saturday for "dinner and tart." We were both running late but eventually arrived at our destination by 6 p.m.

We walked into the 50's-style diner, turned the corner and looked at the prep area behind a glass shield. Judy said to me, "Sarojni, look over there. Do you know what those are?" I peered over the glass and saw a huge container (think "restaurant-supply size") of sliced almonds. I beamed, but my smile quickly vanished when I saw a woman standing nearby mixing ingredients together for a crust.

"Judy! She's just now making the tart! They don't even have one to sell yet!"

Judy looked at me and smirked. We both knew that we were staying put no matter how long it took to make and bake that darn tart. The last time I went to Cisco Burger, they didn't even have it after Jesse had appeared on The Martha Stewart Show. This time, at least a cook was in the process of making one--and we were there for the long haul.

We proceeded to order our hamburgers: 100% Kobe beef, on whole wheat buns, with grilled onions. Quite tasty, considering I rarely eat beef. I eased up on my dietary restrictions to be open-minded, and I wasn't disappointed. An all-American experience.

To pass the time--after we finished our hamburgers--Judy ordered some french fries. "I have to see how they're cooked here," she piped in, between sips of Coke.

"Go ahead," I said, with the hamburger expanding in my stomach like a new sponge in water.

The fries came. We sampled and crunched. "So-so," we both agreed. A little too much oil; but the ketchup helped neutralize the grease-laden potatoes.

If anyone besides my daughter had heard us, I'm sure we sounded like eccentric restaurant critics. Foodie-ism, afterall, is an obsession that causes great gasps of excitement or languid murmurs of disappointment.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

One and a half hours had passed. My daughter, who was tired from a previous late night, slumped against my shoulder. "Be patient, Sumi."

The tart is coming...the tart is coming...

"Judy! Can you smell that? It's sweet, like almonds and sugar! I think the tart's done!" Sure enough the tart had come out of the oven and its sweetness filled the air.

"I'm not leaving this place even if we have to wait for it to cool," I said.

My friend nodded in approval.

To kill some more time, Judy continued with her description on how to make the perfect hamburger:

"Take some really good-quality ground beef. Gently make a rounded patty. Don't squish it. Then make a divot in the center. This allows the burger to cook, but not get tough." I listened with one ear cocked toward her but with my nose pointed in the direction of the tart. A facial and bodily contortion.

"How do you know so much about hamburgers, Judy?" I said half-heartedly, my nose stretching toward the kitchen.

"Because Barkley's in Boston has the BEST hamburgers and I read an article about them." I tucked the information into my cerebral recipe box.

My daughter's lids slowly closed, but Judy and I became more alert...

Within a few minutes, one of the counter girls walked toward us with a huge slice of almond tart. Fragrant whirls of golden sugar combined with the scent of toasted nuts and floated through the air in undulating wafts. Suddenly, the sodden hamburger in my stomach was no longer a problem. I had plenty of room for this dessert.

With forks in hand, Judy and I slivered away, oohed and aahed, and in little time polished off our piece of tart: a buttery crust with rippled edges, providing a shallow basin for a cream, sugar, and egg-based filling topped with sliced almonds. Unfortunately, my daughter didn't even have a bite.

Soon after our food had settled and we could waddle out the door, we just had to stop by the counter to thank the gals for accommodating our nudgy behavior, which started from the moment we entered Cisco Burger and didn't end until we made our exit.

"How long will it take you to prepare the tart?" "When will it be ready?" "Can we have a slice yet?" "We came all the way from another part of Long Beach to have this tart." "Don't you have it every day?" "You should!" "If Jesse James is going to be on Martha Stewart, then you need to have it here all the time!"

The poor girls just listened, smiled, answered our questions, and quelled our concerns. I don't think they had ever met anyone like the two of us before.

But Judy wasn't done. Before we left, she wanted to share some techniques on making the perfect hamburger and had beckoned the manager over for a quick lesson:

"Take some good-quality ground beef." "Shape it into a rounded patty." "Don't squish it." "Make a divot."

Make a divot. Make a divot.

I started to inch toward the door and said in a humorous voice, "We're foodies. I write food articles. Can we take your picture?"

Judy pulled out her slender, digital camera, the size of a Marlene Dietrich cigarette case.

Click. Click. Smiling girls. Almond tart, missing one piece.

The three of us, after two full hours, walked out the door to the parking lot. I hugged my friend goodbye.

"Judy, I can't wait for you to move back to California. We'll do more of this again. Only next time, let's call ahead."

Cisco Burger website
Almond Tart recipe

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