Sunday, November 29, 2009

BBQ Pork Pig Out

My best friend Lisa is a queen of the grill, so much so that almost every meal we eat communally at her house requires some kind of meat and savoring the smells of her cooking while we hang out on the back patio waiting anxiously for the fruits of her fervor to confront our palettes. One of the best things about living in the desert, is that we can grill all year round. Yesterday, despite the first rain of the year and a blustery wind, we still found ourselves outside on the "inner sanctum" patio with the koi pond, the palm fronds, the aloe vera plants, and the grey sky strata, bundled up in various house fleeces and blankets while Lisa did what she does best, slathering blackberry marinade over pork and whipping up another holiday corn souffle and batch of cobbler. Mimosas were served in large yellow outdoor goblets as we sat around waiting for the meal to come before a night of art gallery hopping.


No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Smucker's® Seedless Blackberry Sugar Free Jam
3 tablespoons prepared thick barbecue sauce
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Finely chopped fresh parsley, if desired

1.Spray grill grates with no-stick cooking spray. Heat grill to 350 degrees F to 375 degrees F. Generously season tenderloin with salt and pepper.

2.Mix blackberry jam, barbecue sauce and seasoning in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30 to 40 seconds; stir to blend.

3.Grill pork, turning occasionally, 16 to 20 minutes (or until thermometer reads 160 degrees F). Baste liberally with 1/4 cup blackberry barbecue sauce during last 5 minutes of cooking. Transfer tenderloin to platter, tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve pork over brown rice, drizzled with additional sauce and sprinkled with chopped parsley, if desired.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Greek In Me

My family members used to joke that my mother must have had an affair with the Greek mailman thus spurring me because ever since I was a little girl my tastes were very un-American in that I craved things like kalamata olives, flaming cheese, hummus and pita as bread rather than that disgusting white-flour version with the name (of all things!) Wonder. As I grew up, Lebanese and Indian and Thai were added to my palate's favorites list but there has always been something elementally exciting to me about the simplicity of Greek food. What other culture offers up the instant meal that can be crafted in minutes from mostly fresh ingredients that don't even need to be cooked (or take little effort to be cooked). And what other nationality offers up the mainstay staple of lamb as their prime source of meat?

Lamb is the most exquisite meat that exists on this planet--the musky scent, the various textures that can be created in various meals. I had a girlfriend once whose family was Greek and my favorite thing on Sunday would be to go to her Auntie Helen's house and get a day long lesson in Greek cuisine. Koos (spelling?) was the best, coring out holes in long zucchini and stuffing it with a freshly ground lamb and rice mixture and then letting them steam all day in a pot on a lamb bone base with tomatoes swimming around them, or the handrolled dolmadas that we would get up at two a.m. to sneak cold in bed, and best of all--the lamb stuffed artichokes from which you would pull each tender leaf and have an almost instantaneous mouth orgasm when sucking the meat and from which you received a slow-tooth-pulled pile of artichoke.

It doesn't take much to whet my whistle when it comes to Greek. I would do just fine lolling away the rest of my life in a crisp and simple white building set aside a cliff above the sea, windows that don't need a pane of glass, cool breeze, and wild and vivacious dancing all night with plenty of Sambuco. Sweat and sea air and fresh fish every morn, no shoes and sundresses and a variety of raw greens. But for now, I stick with what I can get, and often make Greek salads in the summer to get me in the hot day mood. I also travel often to markets and stores that carry specific things like the amazing assortments of Voskos yogurt at Trader Joe's with flavors like honey and fig. A morning with one of these, topped off witha  drizzle of honey and maybe a crumble or two of fresh goat cheese and sprig of mint--heaven!

Thank God For Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola is my stand by cheese. Whenever I am hungry and itching for something that will cure my desire, I go for the crumbly veined cheese with the potent fragrance that can be added to just about anything to make a rich, satisfactory meal.

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza makes the best gorgonzola salad in the world and I often find myself waking up like a pregnant woman with weird cravings to drive to Palm Desert and ride the Gardens escalator in search of the meal.

Usually at the end of a long day that has been particularly busy, I will find myself suddenly in the Trader Joe parking lot looking for a chunk of that heavenly food.

When my daughter is home at night (which doesn't happen often in her world of cater waiter work, college and a social calendar that rivals my own) she will come sit on my lap sweetly, bat her eyes, and beg me to make my gorgonzola, pear, walnut and champagne dressing salad to eat while she does her mass amounts of math homework.

When my daughter and I went to Italy, we spent most of our meals with a chunk of bread and the cheese, carrying it around in paper bags throughout the day, and crumbly melting it into our plain, olive oil and salt cooked pasta at night. Sometimes we would get really funky and throw it into linguine with peas and pepper, enjoying the long sinewy strings that the melted cheese produces.

But my all time favorite, quick and easy gorgonzola meal is a salad that can be cooked up at home in less than ten minutes. I go to this whenever I am too tired for gourmet status and want the satisfaction of a gourmet meal.

Quick and Easy Gorgonzola Salad

Pre-cooked roasted chicken patty from Trader Joe's refridgerated case, heated up and seared in a pan with olive oil and cut into strips
Gorgonzola crumbles
Pine nuts
Dressing made of: 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic, one shallot finely chopped, pepper, salt

Throw it all together, let sit at room temperature for five minutes, and serve while the chicken is still warm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Perfect Pear Tart With the Gals

I had the best pear tart today...made perfectly with a carmelized sticky dense thin crust and caramel sauce...

Le Vallauris in Palm Springs is one of my favorite restaurants. This time of year is the best when you can sit outside under the lush and gorgeous trees with light that weeds through the leaves reminding you of the French countryside. We always sit in the same place, Lilli's favorite chair, in the corner looking out among the fullness of people enjoying themselves slowly. Today Justine joins us only pronounced "Joostine" like the French version. Lilli always tells me about the real Vallauris and how much I would love it, being like Picasso in a Roman style diaper wrap painting in the sunshine with the world to view.

We eat various things. I usually order the Asian Beef Salad which has the tangiest cold and perfect dressing or the escargot when with my friend Dixie and usually Chardonnay here, although I am the typical red wine girl. But today I tried the new flat bread with loads of tomato and fresh, crumbled goat cheese. A beautiful Nicoise was placed in front of Justine with freshly seared Ahi with a seed crust and Lilli opted for the special sole with mashed cauliflower.

We usually don't eat dessert unless we are at Le Vallauris and we ordered the new pear tart, "With three plates and forks." It arrived in a surprisingly brown and seductive shell, verging on chocolate, with a middle of sweet pear slices and a drizzly-topped with caramel sauce. Ice cream and a wafer thin hydrated whole pear slice added a delightful addition.

We all kept eating tiny bites...until we devoured the whole thing.

Salad Nicoise With A Legendary Photographer

My friend Michael Childers spent an entire life photographing the legends of Hollywood. First as photographer for Interview Magazine and then as a fine art photographer. Not satisfied with retiring, he now spends his days in the desert helping valuable non profit organizations raise much needed funds for their vital programs. For the last two years, he's produced ONE NIGHT ONLY for Jewish Family Services. The evening which takes place at the McCallum Theater features 18 performers from Hollywood and Broadway who donate time to do be a part of the good cause. As PR person for the event, I love our business meetings which are always around a lunch or dinner table in Michael's home with the best food. Yesterday, Michael's adorable dimpled assistant Rocky (who used to own a restaurant) made us an exquisite salad nicoise, slightly translated from the normal big and chunky version. A legendary salad from the annals of foodie class and elegance eaten while surrounded by photos of the great stars of cinematic glory like Natalie Wood and paintings by David Hockney! A very old school way to spend a desert afternoon in Fall.

Chef Rocky

Rocky's Nicoise

Medium Sized Heirloom tomatoes, cut into small wedges
Albacore tuna packed in olive oil, shredded
Hard boiled eggs, cut into quarter wedges
Tiny black pitted olives
Your choice of Leafy Greens
Cucumbers sliced wafer thin
Baby new potatoes with yelllow colored flesh, boiled to preferred softness
Mix equal parts of all together and toss.
3 parts olive oil to one part dijon mustard and one egg yolk
(adjust per amount of servings)
Whisk together feverishly, and toss with salad.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tempeh Heaven

My beautiful friend Charlotte is one of my foodie role models. She manages to whip up the most amazing paneers when I need an Indian food fix and is an adventurous eater willing to try new things. She is also one of the few people I know who is as gaga over good health food as I am. We recently met at Palm Greens Restaurant in Palm Springs to try what my friend Bob Greenbaum calls the best food joint in town--and he should know, he eats there practically everyday. The restaurant, tucked away in a strip mall, is a haven for earthy types, yoga bodied folks, and friends out for a slow food lunch. The fare includes hearty brown rice bowls with your choice of seitan, tofu or tempeh and various sauces from curry to peanut. The wraps come in whole wheat tortillas or rice wrappers and are filled with goodness like crunchy greens, julienned carrots and hummus. The spinach nut burger is only one of a variety of tasty sandwiches and the salads are made from scratch filled with nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, and other raw sources of deliciousness. Meals come with a rich miso soup and grainy dipping crackers. Belly contentedness is guaranteed.

I am addicted to the tempeh and peanut sauce wrap-tempeh being my favorite meat substitute. Tempeh is a fermented food made by the controlled fermentation of cooked soybeans with a Rhizopus mold (tempeh starter). The tempeh fermentation by the Rhizopus mold binds the soybeans into a compact white cake, which has been a staple source of protein in Indonesia for several hundred years. Not only is it a great source of protein, but is full of isoflavones and like tofu, becomes a versatile addition to any dish, taking on the flavors of whatever it's merged with. The nutty, almost mushroom like flavor, lends a sense of fullness to the stomach without the fat of meat. Normally tempeh is sliced and fried until the surface is crisp and golden brown or tempeh can be used as ingredient in soups, spreads, salads and sandwiches.

One of my favortie tempeh recipes is below:

Tempeh Kabobs With Peanut Sauce
Total servings: 4

1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup tamari
1/4 cup orange juice
250g tempeh, steamed for 20 min
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp sherry
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup yogurt

To make marinade puree orange juice with only half of the honey, coconut, tamari and cayenne pepper in a blender. Cut tempeh into 2 cm cubes and add to marinade. Set aside for 1 hour.

To make the peanut sauce, blend remainder of honey, tamari and cayenne pepper together with the peanut butter, sherry, vinegar, garlic powder and yogurt. Refrigerate.

Thread tempeh cubes onto 4 skewers. Grill tempeh over medium-hot grill 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Brush kebabs with marinade and sprinkle with remaining coconut. Serve the tempeh kebabs immediately with peanut sauce.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gospel Brunch

My friend Russ Olden is a chef who also has a wicked passion for music. A big and bald and intimidating man; when he gets onstage with a harmonica, he turns into an incredible noodle of dancing and bombastic passion. Every Sunday at his catering business' headquarters The Commissary, he offers up a gospel brunch which is one of those experiences in life that everyone should have at least once. In non-traditional, downhome and slightly underground-club speakeasy style, he transforms a room into a dining hall with dimmed lights and a stage where various guest performers come to jam with his Old Will band. Just like a Harlem Church on Sunday morning, there are shrieks, screams, devotionals, and lots of audience dancing in the aisles and around the room. But the food is key here. In standard buffet line style, Russ cooks up mass portions of whatever he decides to go with for the day. On my recent visit, the menu included exquisite fried catfish, chunky cornbread with honey, sweet pulled pork, biscuits and smoky sausage gravy, dirty rice, fried chicken, fruit with creme anglaise, sauteed greens, and the bartender's spicy bloody marys and sweet orange mimosas! While dining, the singing begins and by the time the room is being enveloped by the praisers singing Oh When The Saints Come Marching feel like you are no longer in Rancho Mirage, CA but in a true New Orleans chapel. Going back outside into the sunlight at 1 p.m. you feel fat, happy and a little surreal.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Slow Food Mountain Style

Forty five minutes away from my home town and up a mountain road resembling a snake sits the charming and quaint dell of Idyllwild. The mountain town is home to off beat artists, ordinary folk and reclusive millionaires, which makes for an eclectic mix. Last weekend I went up for the weekend to watch my good friend Nicky and her bandmate Alex sing great songs in a Mexican Restaurant, followed by a morning spent trekking the mountains to breathe in all that feel good air. Then the morning proceeded to to turn really lazy when we entered Cafe Aroma, a small place off the side of a sleet covered road where the sunlight glistens through the open windows taking away the coldness from the inside. The place is all about slow Saturday mornings: Duke Ellington on the sound system, artwork on the walls, big mugs of foaming coffee and food that takes a while to cook.

Not only is the food creative, it also tastes amazing.I love breakfast places that do new twists on the traditional fare, especially when authentic ingredients are used and made unique to the location. That is when the food that is memorable. The owner Frank came pulling up on his creamy blue Vespa while we were waiting and the wait was worth it. An omelette with melted gouda, linguisa sausage (with hints of Indian spices), mushrooms and thick whole grain bread and my "pizza for breakfast"--a 7 inch pie with egg and hearty sausages sliced and sprinkled with perfectly roasted Roma tomatoes and flat parsley.

As a guitar player began to strum, we embarked on the hike back to the cabin, and I had a hankering to cook something new as much as possible, enjoying the experience of communing with the food and the connection to that which sustains us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cheese Plate Sighting...

The beauty of having a client who is a chef is that you get to have business meetings while the chef is tasting new places and meals around town. Thus was the case with the cheese plate experience tonight at new El Paseo restaurant in Palm Desert called Il Signo, which I am ever so happy exists! The place used to be a wine bar and prior to that, my fellow foodie Janet Newcomb's beloved cheese place. It has heavy shoes to fill and tonight it did but with a few things to learn--like don't put rolled up ham on a plate otherwise decked out in exquisiteness! We arrived at four and learned there was no wine. Being that cheese plates are about one of my favorite things in the world for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I was disappointed that I couldn't drink wine with it at this late hour. A quick visit to the wine store down the street and a bottle of Chianti was on the table. Note to Il Signo, it's cool that you charge a corkage fee and let us drink but if you are to contend, please get your liquor license-we want places like you to stick around! In any case, the saving grace came with the $20 combination plate that I was expecting to have the usual fruit fare of grapes to accompany the brie and bleu but that actually came with a plethora of ripe and softly tantalizing figs too! That is not something you see too much on the same space as expensive cheese in the desert so it was a nice delight. The cheeses were good and perfectly room temp with salami and meat sides and just enough for a taste of each. Nothing like talking molecular gastronomy, rediscovering recipes with new contemporary twists and underground speakeasy dinners over a variety of the best creamy slices and the "only in California" mini bowls of cashews and black olives.

My real dream version below:

Ultimate Cheese Plate
Slices of double cream brie
Slices of Jarlsberg
Slices of sharp white cheddar with ash marbling
Slices of marbled bleu
Hard peppercorn salami slices
Pieces of soft Anjour pear
Red, crisp seedless grapes
McIntosh apple slices, thin
Small, thin slices of sourdough toast
Small chunks of brown olive bread

Salted Chocolate Heaven

It is David Dixon's fault again. All he was supposed to do was come over with some semi-healthy Trader Joe's deli pizzas to pop in the oven and a good bottle of red while his husband helped me plan my new squash and herb garden. We were pleasantly surprised when he added a spinach with mustard vinaigrette salad to the mix. But then, of course, he made me sin, when he presented this box of sea salt caramels. I ate three and vowed to run an extra mile in the morning. You can not eat just one of these things. The scratchy bite of rock salt against the lip as you crack through the dark chocolate and into an oozing sea of world-class caramel...impossible...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mexican Mornings Are Best!

I love Mexican breakfasts. Whether it is visiting San Francisco and eating Mission neighborhood chorizo and eggs with fat and fluffy tortillas and flat watery beans with my friend Danny, or our own little Don and Sweet Sue's in Cathedral City with the perfectly crumbled and spicy chorizo and eggs, to the huevos rancheros basic plate for mere bucks at John's where you can fold in the crispy brown hash browns with the green chili sauce--no matter how it is cooked, it is hard to find a bad Mexican meal first thing in the morning. Essentials are refried beans, homemade torts, scrambled eggs for me, a couple dashes of Tapatio, shredded cheese and it's good to go. My most recent huevos rancheros was made to order for me by a couple I know who make "from scratch" meals three times a day. Adding to the usual mix was the special simmered chili spread swimming in tangy, languid peppers and the way they piled everything up on the tortilla with a hat of melting cheese. Perfect Sunday favorite food!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ode to Mindy!

You just don't find the European restaurant experience in the desert too often. There used to be Phillipe's--where my friend John and I would loll away lunchtimes on the weekend outside on the patio with Mediterranean buckwheat crepes stuffed with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes while Jacques, our favorite cranky ass waiter, would serve us glass after glass of red, in which we'd dip the perfectly cooked and hole-filled crusty bread. When it closed, I felt true heartbreak but remembered that Mindy and Nicolas from Zin American Bistro used to eat lunch there and that the true sign of a good restaurant was when you would see owners from all the other good restaurants eating lunch there I ventured to a new home with Zin, of which my good friend David would constantly rave. I fell in love with the place and it remains my place of choice. Being single, I tend to find comfort with married friends and regular joints, where I can feel a sense of home in the midst of my chaotic, activity-filled life. Zin became my haven for lunches and dinners with friends and now it is the place I go when I want a taste of good-old fashioned European hospitality that unfortunately, in this rat-race packed American world, is a rare gem. A few months ago when Nicolas passed away, the whole community of Zin's regulars showed up to celebrate his life and today, we frequent the place even more than before to show Mindy our love and devotion for the atmosphere she has so expertly created.  Chefs always say that the sign of a good restaurant is when the main chef isn't around but the food still remains the same and with Zin this is definitely the case. Last night, Zine was packed and I enjoyed a meal of mussels and chicken schnitzel. But the best part was at the end of the meal when Mindy came to join us, had the waiter pop a beautiful bottle of wine to share and a dessert plate of amazing cheeses and bread. Definitely something you won't get anywhere else! Zin will always be my home away from home in the desert.
Fabulous Mindy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things That Matter...

Okay, I know I am a dork for saying this but I am so happy about receiving my new Le Crueset mini wok from my friend Christy as a gift tonight. I decided about a month ago that my life, starting from this 36-year old girl-point on, would be all about five essential things: food, writing, art, friends, family....and that all other things were peripheral pars for the course. Ever since then I have experienced magical things, old friends appearing out of nowhere, new ones coming into the fold, the synergies of passion projects aligning get the picture, what you pay attention to happens! It does!

Anyways, I met a fellow foodie recently who I haven't really ever hung out with in person, but whom I have admired from afar for her dedication to the community we live in, leadership walking of the walk, and a bunch of other fabulous things that make her an amazing female...tonight, she gave me a gift after we threw a party together for the women in the world who die daily of heart problems, and it was my first mini single-lady's Le Crueset wok, plus a pair of hot red spectacles to wear while chopping the onions, horseradish, leeks, and ginger sure to fill the small beige, perfectly concave, round pot soon enough. It's a lusciously gradient red on the bottom, which of course is the color of my soul.....I am going to have to throw a kitchen sink party with myself tomorrow just so I can cook something with whatever the heck is in the house, I am sure I can come up with something spicy, starting out cold and frigid, sweated to oblivion and shaken around on the stove....

I am thinking right away there will be some thai lemongrass ground chicken lettuce cups; then maybe some jicama, mint and ground turkey radicchio tacos; and then perhaps some fried Indian cheese with firm peas.

This is the stuff that makes life important: no less, no more...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Macrobiotic with the Barones!

The Barones rock. Not only are they true artists, but they are amazing people as well, who invited me over for lunch at their place for some macrobiotic delights! I had seen the jars of nuts and seeds and beans in their cupboard before but never realized the food could be so good. A soup was cooking on the stove when I arrived, host to sweet potato and squashes and carrots and a separate pot waiting for wheat fusili. I spent some time touring their outdoor sculptures of fun foods like macaroni and cheese speared with a fork; french fries, perfectly golden and falling from a carton; a meat ball swimming in a saucy spoon. Then on to their paintings, multicolored and depthful swimming with images of the feminine in history, with my glass of the sparkling iced drink that Tony made me filled with a a cherry red Italian wine and apple cider. Back on the kitchen bar stool I whisked the miso that was added to the soup and then dove into my smoking bowl. Biting into a spicy yellow chunk produced a ginger burst in my mouth. Within in minutes I was sweating bullets, it felt so cleansing and good! I was lucky enough to get a big bowl to go...

Filet Mignon For Four Please!

My daughter and I always joke that we have "champagne tastes on a beer budget." One of our favorite "champagne taste" places to eat has always been Spencers at the Mountain in Palm Springs. Nestled up against the gorgeous Santa Rosa's in Palm Springs, tucked into the famed Tennis Club, the restaurant is home to the power lunch where one can see a list of valley's whos who making business deals daily, but also is home to the exquisite dinner experience.

In the summer when people fly from the heat to their "other" homes, all of us working people get to enjoy restaurants without reservations. Every August, one of my favorite things to do is visit my friend Ruby Montana who owns a wild retro pink hotel called the Coral Sands and take a little "staycation" in my own backyard. We spend days lolling away in the pool and near sundown, love to jump in her convertible beige VW beetle named "Dinah" and drive to Spencers for a three hour, laughing-our-asses-off dinner of soft shell crab and Grey Goose martinis at Spencers.

Once a year, for a special treat, I will take my daughter to Spencers to feed her "champagne taste" for filet mignon. My daughter is a true beef connoisseur and won't eat anything but filet usually. She doesn't even need any sauce, just a knife and fork and some medium rare. At 18, she's already figured out that Spencer's serves the best cut, even though it is not known as a steak house per se, and she's rather eat her beef there than any renowned steak joint in comparison. And it's true, Spencers serves up their meat so perfectly that you could almost cut it with a fork. Served simply with a roasted tomato stuck with thyme sprigs and simples sides that are just a bit bent from tradition--like the creamed spinach that comes withe less cream, larger shreds of spinach and burnt cheese on top or the truffle oil skinny fries--you can really focus on the pleasurable natural flavors of the food.

A little house cab to go with the beef and not much more is required for this once in a while treat.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Hangover Cure

Okay, I admit, now that I am in my mid thirties, I try to not find an occasion to need the almighty hangover cure remedy anymore. There simply are not enough hours in the day as it is, let alone, allowing myself the freedom to succumb to all night parties or long days after succumbing to the couch and the thudding headache. But every once in a while in life, it's time to cut a rug and what better than a holiday such as Halloween for an excuse to do so. Which is why this past haunted day, I danced too much and dipped into the dry ice boiling cauldron one too many times for the surprise bubbly punch. Thank goodness a gaggle of us ended up at a friend's house for coffee and breakfast in what became a deliciously simple yet luxe hangover meal that allowed me to be semi-productive the following day. I would prescribe this to all...go to Trader Joe's and stock the cupboard for anytime in the future you decide to go out and have a little too much fun!

Essential Ingredients:
Thick, maple wood smoked bacon, the kind you still have to tear off in meaty strips in order to fry.
Pumpkin spice waffle mix
Butter (no syrup)
Organic free trade coffee

Whip it all up in a matter of minutes and get out the guitar laying strewn in last night's corner and play a few renditions of Carly Simon and Stevie Nicks, the perfect accompaniment to the morning after voice!

P.S. If it's day lights savings time, try to remember the night before you wake up so you don't lose that extra hour of sleep!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Van Horn Family Dinner

I have been adopted by a family named the Van Horns. Hugh and Jeni are a fabulous couple with three kids: the ever-efflourescent Ryan, the mysterious Regann, and the not even a year old charmer Lincoln. They are the kind of friends that I always enjoy seeing all-together, especially at the tail end of long weekends spent coordinating parties or fundraising events that I am too busy mingling to eat at. On Sundays, hungry, I sometimes tend to just show up at their home, tired and spent, no make-up and crazy-haired looking for some time rolling around on the floor with the kids while some sports game plays on the t.v. Usually, Hugh pours me a glass of wine and fires up the outdoor grill while Lincoln teethes on my IPhone and Ryan begs me to chase her around and play "tickle monster." But today I am spent having thrown a Halloween party the night before, so I tell my faux-fam that I am only around for a few minutes to get a dose of the sweet innocence and pure joyousness of their household which is like Vitamin B to my soul.

Hugh manages to prolong me long enough by saying that it's these moments in life when you just pop in with friends that are the best, long enough to finish cooking up a fine tri-tip and to send me off with my own Van Horn plate of meat, corn on the cob and a buttery potato. Nothing like walking into my home on a Sunday evening to veg on the couch with a ready made meal crafted with love by members of my adopted tribe. If only we all made a plate on Sunday for someone we loved, the world might be a better place!