Valentine’s Day 2016 may be behind us, but luckily we’re still enjoying these crazy good treats that treated us well on V-Day. It’s a bar layered with tender, buttery chocolate shortbread on the bottom, a creamy York Peppermint Patty-like middle, topped with melted chocolate. It’s hard to overstate how good they are. Thank you, Melissa Clark.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars

{NY Times}

For the Shortbread:

1 cup all-purpose flour 

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)


For the peppermint filling and chocolate top:

3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup heavy cream

2 ¼ teaspoons peppermint extract, or to taste

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa solids), chopped

½ teaspoon coconut oil (optional)


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of paper to hang over the sides.

Make the shortbread: In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add butter and process until a smooth dough forms. Press dough evenly into the bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake until firm to the touch, and sides of the crust are beginning to pull away from the pan, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Make the filling: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter, cream and peppermint extract. Beat until mixture forms a thick, smooth paste. Press filling evenly over shortbread. Chill to set the filling for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Use parchment paper overhang to lift the shortbread and peppermint out of the baking pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares (there should be 36 squares). Place squares on a rack placed over a parchment-lined sheet tray, and let them come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.

In the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt 7 ounces chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat, add remaining 2 ounces chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes.

Add coconut oil, if using, and stir the chocolate until smooth. Spoon 1 teaspoon chocolate on top of a cut peppermint square, using the back of the spoon to spread chocolate to the edges. Be sure to fully cover the top of the square with chocolate. (Leave the sides exposed, though it’s O.K. if some of the chocolate drips down.) Repeat with remaining squares.

Let squares sit at room temperature until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour.




Mt. Baldy 2016-16

That snow like this could be found anywhere in now 90-degrees-in-February Los Angeles, but it really was there just a couple of weeks ago in Mt. Baldy. My children have been deprived of seeing snow more than once in their lives, literally, because it always feels like such a big undertaking. Rounding up the right snow gear, borrowing what we can, having to search for the rest. But this little day trip did prove that it really is worth it in the end.

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Mt. Baldy 2016-15

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Mt. Baldy 2016-9

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It’s also hard to believe it’s been so many months since I’ve checked in here. I’ve gotten more than a few loving emails asking if I had given up this little site, but the truth is, I just haven’t felt as inspired either with my photography or with sharing what I do take here. I do like that I’m not beholden to this as a source of income, as some bloggers are, so that I can take a break and come back only when it feels right. I’m feeling like I’m emerging out of my creative desert.

It may also be because of this not so little thing that I’ve been cooking up for the last 8 months:


Baby number 4!


Life is what has been going on these past two months, as basic and lame as that sounds. Enough life has been going on that I have felt completely devoid of almost all creative expression. I’ve only picked up my camera a few times, namely for things I just need to photograph like my sweet son’s 9th birthday last week. I haven’t felt inspired to cook, make, create…anything. It’s been a strange time for me as someone who usually creates because it’s compulsive. It’s one of the things that makes me feel alive.

So now I feel like I’m catching up, which is okay I think.

I’ll begin with Nico. Who is a perfect reason to come back to this space to reflect. On the occasion of turning 9, he wanted three things: cupcakes from Sprinkles (above),

A video game truck for him a 13 his friends:


And chicken tenders from Reddi Chick:



We were happy to oblige of course. This boy of ours who is always so willing to lend a hand, an ear, a shoulder to those who need it. A true, loving soul, that one. He is a living inspiration for me to keep my heart open and wide for all. I feel so lucky to have been chosen to watch him continue to grow into an extraordinary human being.

Mateo 11 Bday-362015

This boy, my first baby, is now 11. He’s firmly fixed on the path to tween-dom, too old to be a child, but not yet grown enough to be a teenager. A pretty serious time of life transition, I do believe. It’s the beginnings of looking outward but yet still needing the warmth and comfort of home. I can still feel his body, as lanky as it is, soften when we embrace. He still wants to get into my bed and snuggle on Saturday mornings. When we look into each other’s eyes and say I Love You, his eyes are still full with sincerity. Now, he still has a hard time keeping his stuff together, he’s pretty messy, I often have to ask him more than a few times to do something. And he sometimes lets his 3-year-old baby brother rile him up. But…that heart. So full of kindness and gentleness, lightness and fun. He’s having a love affair with football that I just can’t understand, but that’s ok. He’s got his own (fledgling) music collection. He calls things he really likes “beast,” as in “That’s so beast!” I tell him we use to say “that’s so choice,” or, “that’s so boss,” and he thinks it’s so funny. He didn’t want a cake for his birthday. He wanted ice cream sandwiches, which I thought was a pretty beast idea. Then he and his friends proceeded to stay up a little past midnight in a tent in our backyard playing truth or dare, a flashlight beam bouncing off the walls as they giggled. What a joy it is to be able to witness it all.








A quick weekend getaway for us to Palm Springs. Time together as a family is certainly fulfilling, but spending time alone, just us two, is almost as important.


We just returned from a long weekend camping on Catalina Island with some friends. It’s an hour’s ferry ride from LA, and for us it’s the perfect place to escape the city for a few nights.


We like to return to a little campground on the far side of the island called Little Harbor. It feels secluded and quiet even if it’s full.  And it still feels pretty and dramatic despite the effects of the ongoing drought. There are literally buffalo roaming on the cliffs, along with wild foxes and cats. It’s a place where the kids can kayak, hike and explore all on their own and embrace the often elusive independence that comes with city living . This trip, all seven of them would go off for what seemed like hours looking for animals, rocks, the perfect walking stick, the highest peak they could reach.










And at the end of each day, there were s’mores of course. How could there not? Here’s to digging more into summer while it lasts.
















I meant to write this on the day of the solstice on June 21st, but it just didn’t get done. Summer so far has proven to feel busier than usual, with trying to get various work projects off the ground, getting Mateo and Nico to their various camps each morning, Jude to preschool, and Matt away working quite a bit. There have been a few days here and there when we have been able to slow it down like we’re supposed to. There is a plan to slow it all down in the next few weeks.

Here’s some of what we’re enjoying in the meantime:

1. Finding the beach again. Although it’s so close to us, and we often walk along it, we haven’t immersed ourselves in quite a while. The sun and salt on the skin .

2. Enjoying and celebrating Father’s Day with the most incredible man, the best example I know of what a father truly can be.

3. Watching this boy leave boyhood behind by little bits each day.

4. Living room jam sessions. Sometimes the percussionist doesn’t always like the direction the band is going.

5. Trying to capture Jude’s silliness. You have to be quick.

6. Exploring our favorite museums. The Annenberg Space for Photography has a fascinating exhibit on emerging photographers that each of us loved. The Hammer, Moca, LACMA, and Getty are also on the list.

7. The first tomato out of our garden. The first of many (maybe too many) to come. Canned marinara sauce?

8. I’m loving the documentary explosion happening at the moment. The Wolfpack; What Happened, Miss Simone; 3-1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets; Fresh Dressed; Amy; Cartel Land. Good stuff.

9. These Black Crane overalls, that I don’t want to take off.

10. This album that is currently on repeat, and counting the days until Tame Impala’s Currents comes out next month.




I have a feeling that when my children are grown and they reflect back on what their nightly suppers consisted of it will be a bowl full of vegetables, grains, and sauce. Just like this one.  When I sit down to plan our dinners for the week, at some point there will be roasted vegetables, there will be a grain or rice, and there will be a sauce to pour on top of it. But as I’ve mentioned before in earlier posts, it really is an ideal meal, whether you’re vegetarian or not. Besides the nutrition aspect, the bowls have so many endless permutations, depending on what vegetables are in season, which veg you pair with other veg, which sauce concoction you choose. The sauce is the element that really holds everything together, it is meant to match whatever you’re in the mood for whether it’s tangy and a little spicy, or herby and creamy. Click here for Bowl One and Bowl Two.







Harissa is traditionally a spicy, red, aromatic paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. This is a green, more Latin version.DSC_5409


Once your roasted veg are in the bowl, lay a fried (or poached egg) on top, drizzle with sauce and there’s dinner.

Green Harissa {adapted from my new favorite cookbook, Sara Forte’s Bowl+Spoon}

2 garlic cloves

1 cup flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup cilantro

1/4 cup mint leaves

1 jalapeño pepper (de-seeded and de-veined for less heat)

Juice of 1 lemon

3/4 teaspoon cumin

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, parsley, cilantro, mint, jalapeño, lemon juice, cumin, salt and combine until mostly smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil.






To him they are ruby-red jewels.


DSC_5051Before I get to our recent trip to NYC, I wanted to thank the very lovely ladies at Wooden Spoons Kitchen for redesigning this little site of mine, and for helping to make it something I could really be proud of! Thank you, Erin and Melissa.DSC_5039As always, going back to NYC is a bit like going home. For those who know me, that’s not a surprise. And even though I moved away almost 10 years ago, it’s as though there’s still a space for me there each time I return. It’s the city that most appears in my dreams. It’s a city that still represents discovery and possibility perhaps more than any other. I know I may only be able to say this from my nice, sunny spot in California, but nonetheless…DSC_5018Luckily (or not), I do believe my children feel the same. My oldest both talk of moving there once they’re ready to head to college. Hard to imagine it now, but I had the same vision when I wasn’t much older.DSC_5036There was Jane’s Carousel in DUMBO, a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a first Broadway Show (Wicked), a side trip to New Haven to spend time with friends, braving the crowds at MoMA for the Björk exhibit, countless naughty and amazing meals, and lots of visits with more friends we wish we could see so much more regularly. There were also some pretty dramatic sights of destruction, with the remains of a gas explosion that had taken place only one building away from where we stayed, and with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum that Mateo and Nico asked to see, and that I wondered would be too intense. But we were able to sidestep the rougher parts, and marvel at what remained. DSC_5236




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DSC_5235There was also a birthday for an amazing little boy who happily turned 3. If there was ever a boy who wanted to get older as fast as possible, it’s Jude.  He is sunshine. DSC_5161