This may be one of the very few photos in existence of all of us. I feel as though we've asked friends or even people passing by to take photos of us, but I couldn't seem to find any. And given that I take 95-percent of our family's photos, I'm never in any of them–which is partly by design I'll admit. 

All of which is to say, I knew it was time for a professional to capture some moments of us. I asked photographer Jamie Street if she'd be up to the task. She was. So we set up in the backyard and it wasn't long before football and wrestling ensued. I love what she captured. It is the essence of who we are right now–love and devotion mixed with heavy doses of sports, silliness, physical affection, and the full adoration of the littlest one among us. 











Thanks Jamie!




Spring must be here. Each time it blooms, it seems to bring a healthy dose of sniffles and allergies to the house. The illnesses the kids bring home don’t usually affect me, but if it’s the beginning of spring–it does. Jude and I seemed to catch it at the same time last week, so we spent a sick day at home together. I have to say we both really enjoyed it despite the epic nose wiping. We read, we sang, we watched a little public television, we napped.

And we drank tea. Anytime the kids (or me) are sick, a thermos of hot lemon-ginger-garlic-raw honey tea appears and for good reason. The lemon is alkalizing which helps restore the body’s ph. It’s also rich in vitamin C and helps detoxify the liver. The ginger is anti-viral and aids nose and chest congestion, the garlic helps boost the body’s immune system, and the raw honey contains loads of natural enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (we like this) and it gives sweetness. A little sweetness is always welcome when recovering.




Lemon-ginger-garlic-raw honey tea

One thick slice of lemon

1 garlic clove smashed

1-inch piece of ginger sliced into coins

1 teaspoon raw, unfiltered honey

Add hot water, allow to steep for a few minutes and enjoy. I wouldn’t consider this a recipe really, more a guide. You can make it as lemony, garlicky, or gingery as you’d like.


A big weekly staple for us at dinner is the grain bowl. It’s easy, it’s good, it’s nutritious, and everyone loves it. It’s my favorite way to eat at home, and there are probably countless permutations. It’s such a backbone of our meals that I thought I’d do a little series about it, with ideas for vegetable and grain pairings, as well as ideas for sauces.

To start, all you need is:

1. a whole grain: brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, farro or kamut will do. You can also add cooked lentils or beans, but that’s optional. Your grain can be made ahead, of course, if you want save time.

2. some roasted vegetables. Really anything you like that’s in season.

3. a sauce to bring it all together.

And that’s it.

For this version, I chose black rice, roasted some red peppers, and topped it with a peppery, tangy, creamy romesco sauce.

Step 1: Prepare your grain according to package instructions.

Step 2: While your grain is cooking, make your sauce.

DSC_0847Roast some red peppers, a tomato (I used a handful of cherry tomatoes since that’s what I had on hand), and 2 cloves of garlic.


When they are done, they should like charred like this.


Put everything into a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10-15 miuntes. This will loosen the skins of the peppers so they peel right off.


Toast some hazelnuts in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they start to smell toasty and fragrant. Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly. Rub the skins off with a kitchen towel.


Measure out your breadcrumbs, apple cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, smoked paprika, and sea salt.


First grind the hazelnuts alone in a food processor until they are ground up, then add the rest of the ingredients and whir until smooth.

Step 3: Roast your vegetables.


To roast your veggies, set your oven to 425-degrees. Place your cut vegetables on a cookie sheet (I like to line mine with parchment to save on clean-up), drizzle a good amount of olive oil and sea salt then toss. Roast for about 25 minutes or when they look caramelized. Set aside.

And lastly, spoon your grain into a bowl, add your vegetables, and top with the sauce. I added some toasted sliced almonds that I had for crunch and sprinkled some chopped parsley on top. So good.


Hazelnut Romesco Sauce

{adapted from NY Times}

2 medium red bell peppers, halved and cored

1 plum tomato, halved (a handful of cherry tomatoes will also work)

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup toasted, peeled hazelnuts

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, more as needed

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or 1 teaspoon honey, more as needed

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

Heat the broiler. Arrange an oven rack in the position closest to flame. Place peppers (cut side down), tomato halves (cut-side up) and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until peppers and garlic are slightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn garlic (but do not turn peppers or tomato); broil 1 to 2 minutes longer until garlic is well browned but not burned. Transfer garlic to a large bowl. Continue broiling peppers and tomatoes until both are well charred, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer tomato and peppers to the bowl with the garlic. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand until vegetables are cool enough to handle but still warm, then peel peppers and tomatoes.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse hazelnuts until coarsely ground. Add peppers, tomato, garlic, breadcrumbs, oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, paprika and salt. Purée until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scrape romesco into a bowl. Use any leftovers for dipping (vegetables or toasted pita taste great with it.)















I do like San Francisco. It's a city whose air feels cleaner, its pace more sane. They certainly take their dining seriously, as evidenced by the seemingly epic lines and waits at any reputable restaurant. We ate well though. I also enjoy it for its proximity to places I love: Point Reyes, Inverness, Sebastopol. I like to think that someday I will spend more of my life up there, perhaps in my waning years when I want to be surrounded by redwoods and cleaner air. 

For an LA kid, SF is a great place to get a first taste of another big city. The trolley cars, the vintage streetcars, all those double-decker buses, they were almost enough entertainment for my boys. We could have spent hours at The Exploratorium–one of the best museums I've ever encountered. Our visit also coincided with the city's Chinese New Year parade which we were able to watch from our hotel windows. Thousands of fire crackers pop-pop popped through the night. We wrapped it up with a visit with some of Matt's family to the Adventure Playground in Berkeley where every play structure is kid-made. It's impressive until you realize that if you want to build on to any part of it, you must first find 10 rusty nails that are scattered all over the yard. Mateo found almost double that in our first 15 minutes. Must be why they make you sign a release form before you go in. But we were up for the adventure. 







hearts of all kinds / some Nico-made peanut butter pretzel dipped in chocolate concoctions / sweet Valentine's Day.


The world lost one of it's bright lights yesterday with the passing of Pete Seeger.

I had never heard of the extraordinary Pete Seeger until my husband introduced his music to me back when Mateo was just a baby. Matt's mother had introduced him to Pete as a child, likely as her parents had done for her. His music was folk in the purest sense–sounds of and for the people, and while his lyrics often spoke of the world's injustices, they also illuminated the power of community and song. His theory was that songs have power when sung in groups. Not just in churches, but anywhere out in the world. They were tools for social change. But he also wrote wonderful songs and stories for children that seem just as listenable and relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

There are many Pete Seeger favorites around our house, "Michael Rode the Boat Ashore," "Sam, The Whaler," "Abiyoyo," "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Sweet Little Baby," among them. I know my children have memories and a connection to his music and that feels like such a gift.

Rest in peace, Pete. You're irreplaceable. 









I love finding time you didn't think you had, to do something really special. Sometimes, not very often, one of my boys and I will find ourselves alone together for a few hours. We'll ask each other what the other wants to do and a plan usually comes together pretty quickly. In this case, it was simply a suggestion on my part to head to LACMA and check out what I promised would be a "very cool exhibit with lots of holograms and lights." Mateo took me up on it. So off we dashed with our eyes on the clock and three hours to spare.

The James Turrell exhibit did not disappoint. I think it blew Mateo's mind a little bit. At one point we stood in a huge white room bathed in intense colors that morphed into other colors and we laughed as we watched each other's teeth and eyes turn from green to brown to red. I don't think he'll forget it. I so wish I could have photographed it, but there's a small sense of it below.

It's what we shoot for in these little "dates" as my boys like to call them. A chance to break through the noise of siblings and friends. A chance to reconnect, create experiences and discover each other even more. 








2014 is already well on it's way. Another year is over inexplicably, another has arrived, and I'm trying to figure out just how I'd like to hitch on to this one. Not resolutions, but reminders, suggestions, and affirmations that I'd like to point out to myself.

1. Get outside. Such a common one I know, but us city dwellers often have a hard time making it happen. Living in LA, there's no excuse really with beaches and mountain trails only minutes away. I especially think of my children and how they may complain at the suggestion of a hike, but then lose themselves in discovery once were there, as they did (above) a few days ago. I'd like to commit to a new hike each month, and break away from the tried and true. 

2. Turn an idea into a reality. I will admit that I'm good at coming up with ideas of projects I'd like to take on. Different directions I'd like to take my filmmaking or ways I could incorporate my love of cooking into meaningful work. But often an idea will pop into my head like a little seed, and there it will languish never to be planted. I'm sure it's fear on my part. Fear and other things that self-help might cure. But this year I am committed to doing what it takes to make a project that I've been quietly excited about for a long time, finally come to fruition. Whether it works or not. 

3. Take it easy on myself in the kitchen. Cooking from scratch 5-6 days a week is something I committed to a long time ago. Besides wanting my family to eat well and be able to control what was in our food, I also greatly enjoy it. I do. But most weeknights I spend so much time creating and perfecting what's on the table that week, that by the weekend I'm a little spent. So I'm giving myself permission to go the Trader Joe's route once a week and serve a meal that I only have to heat up and spice up. It can still be healthy and I'll be able to use that time reading and re-reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear as many times as baby Jude would like. 

4. Be more mindful of what inspires me. There was a time when my workspaces whether at home or in an office were covered with images that stirred up creative juices and helped cultivate ideas. I need to return to that. It can do so much to focus attention and bring beauty into everday life.

Right now I'm still under the spell of Beyoncé and her new record, which was a complete and utter surprise to me. Having never owned any of her music, I did not expect to like it. But I was curious about the videos so I watched, and like the rest of the world I was floored. Besides the music being as amazing as it is, and the videos being as well-done as they are, what affected me was seeing how an artist could step out of her comfort zone, take risks, then watch it pay off. Again, fuel for the fire. 


The direction was simpler this year, I think. I thought of cookies I would have liked as a kid opposed to those that offer a little more sophistication. Perhaps it was also a way of making this annual baking marathon a little shorter too. As always, I hope those with boxes of these enjoyed them, as much as I did making them.


Nico’s Glazed Butter Cookies, from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.

DSC_0330 2


Glazed Gingersnaps adapted from “The Chew.”


Peanut Butter Chocolate Clouds, adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.


My favorite this year were the Alfajores, from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. They were soft, buttery, not too sweet with that creamy, milky caramel inside. Insane.

(Makes about 32 sandwiches)

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tbsp. brandy or rum

1 cup Dulce de Leche


Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Position a rack in middle of the oven.

Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

With a large spoon in a medium mixing bowl or with a mixer, mix the butter with the sugar until smooth and well blended but not fluffy. Add the egg and brandy and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated.

Divide dough in half, wrap with wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour. Dough can also be make a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Once dough has chilled, take out first half and roll out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Use round cookie cutter and place rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Bake for 10 or 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Try your best not overbake.

Remove pans from the oven and set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. For unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, sandwich them with a generous dab of dulce de leche. The cookies will soften as they stand. May be stored in an airtight container for at least a week.


Happy holidays friends (and family). Wishing you all love, joy and kindness these next days. See you in the New Year!


It probably goes without saying that music is a huge factor in our daily lives around here. Even more so now after both Nico and Mateo received iPods this year (i.e. our old iPhones), and have since added headphones, and their own playlists on iTunes. Now at the end of the day I often find them in their beds with their headphones on staring at the ceiling, just like I once did with my Walkman. Funny.

Here's a sampling of what we enjoyed this year.

Mazi (songs from records on repeat):





Nico (not from 2013, but still the favorite, or anything else from Katy Perry):