High Atop Hollywood

View from behind the Hollywood sign, reached by Hollyridge Trail.

View from behind the Hollywood sign, reached by Hollyridge Trail.

I appreciate that my city has a High Holy Day, and I like to celebrate it. On Oscar Sunday, I hiked to the Hollywood sign with a tourist friend from Maine (thoughts of February blizzards in Maine make me hyperventilate). We were rewarded with dazzling California sunshine and spectacular vistas like this one. We took the short and sweet Hollyridge Trail (go all the way to the end of Beachwood Drive). I recommend the slightly more arduous trail I wrote about here.


Special Delivery: Rotwurst

Special delivery from Hessen, Germany. Rotwurst from our friend Manfred, the butcher of Niederwetter. #smuggled #sausage


I Want to Be on the Road That Leads to Awesome

Kid President and his pep talk have my vote. What are you doing to make the world a more awesome place? Find a bigger dream and keep going, and keep going, and keep going. And dance every chance you get.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Raw Brussels sprouts
You guys can cook. I know that you can look at these pictures, and know what is going on here. Brussels sprouts, baking sheet, got it. But in the interest of a simple recipe for the old blog, here is how we’ve been eating Brussels sprouts this winter. If you love the nutty, sweetness of Brussels sprouts, try this.

Preheat oven to 400.
Slice Brussels sprouts in half.
Place on baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil, and mix with hands to coat evenly.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Arrange sprouts, cut side down.
Roast for 20 mintes.
Stir sprouts, and test doneness.
Continue cooking until they are as tender you as you like them.
Eat your veggies!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Step Right Up to the Griffith Park Merry-go-round

Merry horses

Some of the horses are cooler customers than others.

Tucked behind a green hillside deep within Griffith Park spins a 1926 wood and iron merry-go-round that oozes Los Angeles nostalgia. The ride purports to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for his famous Land. It is also the inspiration for children’s birthday parties, families encamped on blankets beneath grandfather pines, and a wandering clown woman who twists balloons into animal-shaped hats. Music from another era pipes from the carousel’s orchestrion, an entire marching band in a box.

Trade $2 for a wooden nickel to ride the horses. Avoid eye-contact with the creepy painted guards of the ticket booth, but do look for Adam and Eve depicted in their birthday suits. Hear the creak of the platform underfoot as you race to claim the prettiest pony. They are not as shiny or colorful as other wooden ponies, but they know what they are doing. Hold on tightly, the ride lurches forward at an alarming gallop, heaving you back in time to childhood, or farther.

merry go round

Sixty-eight carved wooden horses, bedazzled with jewels, and ornamented with sunflowers and lions.

Griffith Park Merry-go-round Stinson Organ

This Stinson Military Band Organ has more than 1500 marches and waltzes in its repertoire. The statuettes play percussion!

Griffith Park Merry-go-round

I would love a mirror just like this.

Griffith Park Merry-go-round creepy carving

This guy gives me the creeps.

I’m Sick, Yo

soup mug

The cough brings to mind words like tubercular, consumptive, pertussis. The sick went straight to the bottom of my lungs, and is violently trying to get out. I’m in my sick clothes, under my sick blanket, in my sick bed, coughing. I stayed home from work this week, because it is not fair to take these nasty germs into a Petri dish where people I like are also breathing.

The good news is, I still have an appetite, and enough energy to cook. I made a minestrone soup with farro and cannellini beans, shown here in my favorite soup mug. This belonged to my grandmother. It cheers me up every time I get to use it, and makes the soup more medicinal.

soup mug2

For the Record

Introducing the newest addition to the Calvo household: a sleek Audio-Technica turntable, our Christmas gift to each other. Isn’t she glamorous?

The husband surprised me with a short, lovingly curated stack of vinyl to start our collection. The Pixies, some sweet Bowie, Cowboy Junkies, Elton John’s epic Honkey Chateau (humorous sidenote: When I was born, my parents had an albino street cat named Honkey). Our deal is to go on monthly dates to the record stores of Los Angeles. We had our first adventure this morning at Amoeba (coming soon, to a blog near you).

For me, my dad is a large part of the inspiration for this return to analog music. His vinyl collection is a catalog of my childhood musical memory. We used to jam to the O’Jays, the Four Tops, John Stewart, Fred Knoblock (who?), Isaac Hayes, Taj Mahal, the Beach Boys, his dad’s 45s. He fostered in me a love of the cotton candy names of doo-wop acts. I loved our past-my-bedtime dance parties in the living room.

When my dad heard of our purchase, he returned a dozen of my pre-teen albums. Some of those are excellent: Prince, Tears for Fears, Cyndi Lauper. And some are even more excellent: Richard Marx, Tiffany, Europe.

I’ve been playing records when I clean the house, when friends visit, when we cook dinner together. And so, the blog dips in to vinyl, without irony. This is going to be fun for me.

David Bowie

A Week in the Life of My Oven

I would like to thank my 1947 oven for working so hard this week. I never thought I’d say it, but winter has arrived in Los Angeles. When I woke up this morning it was 50°, inside my house! Simple, roasted vegetables and comforting soups are what I want to eat. And bread pudding. I’ve had no time for frills, throwing most ingredients in the oven with 5 minutes of prep (notice how coarsely everything is chopped?). My oven slaved over these dishes, so I didn’t have too.

Roasted veggies with chicken

Place all the chopped veggies your heart desires in one large roasting pan with a light dousing of olive oil. Add chicken thighs if you’re into that sort of thing. Season and top with herbs. Roast in a 400° oven for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken if it is done to your liking and stir the vegetables. Continue cooking the vegetables until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes more.

Pearl Onions

I was excited to see these frozen pearl onions at Trader Joe’s. They were not as flavorful as I had hoped, and too watery. Next time I will roast them longer to see if that improves their texture.

Butternut squash

These roasted for about 45 minutes. Patience goes a long way with butternut squash, which become more succulent and caramelized the longer you leave them in the oven. Eat these as is, top with pecans and maple syrup, or purée with vegetable broth and plain Greek yogurt for a velvety soup. I mashed the leftover portion into pancake batter the next day, with ground ginger and cinnamon, which was a big hit with The Husband.

baked apples with cinnamon

Simple baked apples. Nothing to it. Serve a la mode, and boom, you have an awesome dessert.

Bread pudding

I call this French toast bread pudding, because it is not sweet, and so that I can get away with eating it for breakfast. You’ll need cubed stale bread, apples, cinnamon, and walnuts. Whisk together 4 eggs and 2 cups of milk. You might add a sweetener at this point, and go big with a glug-glug of bourbon. Pour over the top of bread, adding more milk as needed. Bake until set, about 25 minutes at 375°.

Braised cabbage

Chop half a head of cabbage into wedges or steaks. Place in a small baking dish. Add an inch of broth or more. Tuck into an oven for 30 minutes. So delicious. This dish has about 12 calories per serving, with broth.

Sacred Geometry of Hollywood


The sacred geometry of Hollywood: the ceiling of the Arclight Cinedome movie theater before a showing of Gangster Squad.

Oranges at Work

Oranges at Work

Someone brought a giant box of pruned oranges in to share with the office. It was a small surprise that brightened my day. Thank you! They were juicy, with soft, loose peels. Does anyone out there recognize what type of citrus they might be?