February update: Los Angeles, Chicago, and Prospect, TN!

Remember us?
Those fools that moved to Tennessee but still have one foot in Los Angeles? Here's another long-overdue blog entry. They might come more frequently if y'all let me know you read these, and make a comment!

Well, yet another trip to Los Angeles is behind us. Though we spent only two weeks, it felt like a whole month, but it was SUCH a nice trip. Kelly arranged another work trip so that it coincided with Barcamp San Diego, which also coincided with my 40th birthday! My friend Judy from culinary school went with me to Barcamp, and she said she had fun. We came "home" to the Marina Del Rey hotel afterwards, greeted by Kelly, champagne and birthday cheesecake. His gift for me was a drawing:

We took the opportunity to visit with a few other friends during this trip. I admit I'm disappointed when I let people know that I'm in town and they can't find time to see me. I'm sad to realize I'm losing my friends. It's frustrating to maintain relationships with people I can see only once every 6-8 weeks. There's only a few more of these Los Angeles visits left in my future, if things go as planned. I'm not so naive to think that things WILL go as planned, and it's likely that Kelly will still be flying back & forth, but his travel is reimbursed. Mine's not, so it's expensive for me to drop $300 on round-trip airfare only to spend my days waiting around for Kelly to get off work and meet me for dinner. Weekends are better. We went to Chinatown (which I love visiting) on a day with perfect weather, and spent another day driving through interesting neighborhoods, and discovered a couple new restaurants. I don't experience a restaurant like a normal person. I get butterflies (bats!) in my stomach when I go somewhere nice, but that lacks some detail, in that "close-but-no-cigar" way, that inspires me to want to get started on my own place here in Tennessee. I knock myself back down to Earth quickly when I read some other chef/idiot's blog and realize what a pain in the butt it is to run a restaurant. I think if I ever open my own restaurant here I will special-order a chef's jacket that has extra-long sleeves that fasten with buckles around the back:

I caught the current plague somewhere in Los Angeles, and while I made it through the flight just fine, the ride home from the airport wasn't fun. The closer we got to Prospect, the worse I felt. I spent the next three days shivering with a too-high fever, and then the next four trying to convince myself I was well. I don't remember much from that week.

Sunday, (02/06/11) we got back home from a visit to Orland Park (Chicago). We went up for a visit for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Bob & Sue are pretty much the best in-laws you could ever hope to get, and I enjoy spending time with them. Both dogs were with us on this trip. They're getting better at doing the roadtrips with us. Render is especially happy at the Mohan house, since she gets full run of the place (except the front room!) Noodles is content to sleep in her crate most of the day, but gets plenty of attention in the evenings.

We ate in almost every night, and I cooked. I have trained myself to bring only one good knife PETTY: New West Knife Works (e-mail me if you want a super-secret discount code!)

I also bring along a very small assortment of spices in bead containers.

(you can find them in the bead- or scrapbooking- section of a craft store) which I hardly use, but they're there when I need them! I do my best to make things that are plain enough for "Plain Bob", so most of my cooking there isn't much more than applying heat and/or water to raw things. I made a really good stir-fry, though, using plenty of fresh veggies, diced chicken, and adding only cornstarch, soy sauce from packets saved from previous takeout and some white pepper brought in my mysterious spice vials. :-)

We brought our new Nintendo Wii with us, and both Bob & Sue had a great time with it. We played the Resort Sports and the Wii Fit games every night. They even played the bowling game by themselves when Kelly and I were out shopping for food! Bob was a master at the jet ski game, and Sue got an immediate high-score on the ski-jump game that nobody could beat for a while.

We were there longer than we expected to be, as what was supposed to be a 4-day visit turned into a full week-and-a-day, but it was all good times. The extended trip was due to the blizzard that swept the midwest and dumped 18" of snow on us, followed by an ice-storm that coated the southern half of Illinois. Once we felt that we had a safe window of opportunity to drive, we headed south. We opted to drive halfway and spend the night in Metropolis, IL (yes, they have a statue of Superman downtown, but no, we didn't go check it out) at a surprisingly comfortable and dog-friendly Motel 6.

I'm glad to be home for a while. It's been a whirlwind year for travel, and I certainly don't regret it, but it defined my life in a way I'm not accustomed to living it. I know I'll probably be aching to go back to Los Angeles, or regretting not joining Kelly in Las Vegas for the NAB show (That saying that "the grass is always greener" is so true!) but for now, I really like sleeping on my own soft sheets in my own comfy bed.

Today Kelly gave me a home-alone day! I asked him if he wouldn't mind working outside the house (from the library) one day a week and he was happy to agree. I hardly know what to do with myself!  Well, I take that back. I am doing chores. So far, I've done laundry and did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen counters. I even gave Noodles a bath! As soon as I'm finished with this blog entry, I'll sweep & mop the kitchen floor. Whee. What a busy little bee I am. Once that's all done I'll make dinner. Kelly selected chicken fajitas tonight, and I'm going to make tortillas from scratch, which I haven't done since culinary school. That will prove interesting, I'm sure.

We had a trio of guys here attacking the woodpile to the south of the house. Yesterday was actually their second go at it, and they're making progress. Our neighbor Scott, came buy and took every stick of wood he could carry after the first session; he'll probably be back for the results of this second round tomorrow. Once the area is cleared, I'm hoping we can make that space into some combination of a rock garden and a wildflower meadow.

The next major project on the homestead is to make our seedling boxes. We have this book by John Jeavons How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine (Amazon.com link)

and we like the ideas he proposes. The plan is called "BioIntensive Gardening" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biointensive) and the idea is that we can grow enough food to sustain a family of 4 for a year in the space of our 75x15 garden plot. It doesn't include wheat or rice, but it would give us enough to eat fresh all summer and enough to preserve (by freezing, drying or canning) for eating during the winter. I've been calling it "Super High Intensity Technique" simply so I can use the acronym when referring to the seedling boxes we need to build.

We're also looking forward to getting chickens again, and we're still debating how soon we'll be getting a few goats... but we're not in any hurry to do either of these.


Paul said...

Keep up the blogs... they are great!

Paul Blumstein, now living in Virginia

MINT said...

Hm, looking at your birthday present drawing and it looks strangely familiar...
Reminds me of the days in culinary school when all of us commoners had to park on the 85th level in the huge garage, but your highness had her miata with "chef to the stars" license plate parked right outside the front door. :)

Which were the "interesting" neighborhoods you drove around in LA?

Regarding opening your own restaurant, maybe we should talk?

JoAnna said...

Depends Iliyan... are you going to talk me INTO it our OUT OF opening a restaurant? :-P

Regardless, it would be great to talk to you. Phone me or ping me on IM!

MINT said...


I don't want to talk you into or out of anything, I just sense you have lots of cons and maybe haven't heard enough pros... Was that too roundabout? A restaurant is a big pain in the neck to run, AGREED, but as with everything there's lots more to it. Have you ever entertained the idea? Right now what do you have?