Friday, March 28, 2008

What People Eat...

This is fascinating!!!!

Laura's posts's (this one and this one) on Pinot and Prose inspired me to look up an old email I had saved. Note! This was an email I receive some time ago. This was undoubtedly one of the most interesting e-mails I've ever received. Take a good look at the family size diet of each country. Notice the availability and cost of what is eaten in one week.

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina (I sure hope most American families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family!!)
Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Don't know about you, but right about now, I'm counting my blessings! It really is an eye opener for me!

I personally cannot believe that this is how MOST American's eat. Though I fear many may eat this poorly. I for one, know many families who eat a lot of vegetables and very little junk and I even know a few people who eat only at 5 star restaurants all the time. When they don't have time for that, it is a salad, fruit or power bar!

I did not know the origin of these photos prior to writing this post but did a quick Google and came up with this Times article. So it appears it is true and real people. They come from a book called "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel. All the photography is his. Please view more at his site here:

I am still a little bit new about this whole blogging thing and unsure of the blurry lines with copyrights. If you know more and if I am in violation of copyright, please let me know and I will remove the images from this post and instead just provide the information and links. Thank You!!!

Stale Bread or Not

Still have some stale bread left over? Or are you in need of a really quick appetizer?

Like many a foodie, I have been cutting out recipes from my favorite magazines for years. Unfortunately I am NOT so good at keeping them organized. But the tried and true rest on top of the dilapidated old Bloomies box that I originally tucked them into for safekeeping. I REALLY need to organize! But I guess I would rather cook, blog, read, eat, sleep....

I digress. Here is an appetizer that is quick, easy and pretty tasty too. I have all the ingredients in my kitchen at any given time too. So that is what really makes it easy.

Olive-Onion Puffs (Bon Appétit | August 1997)

These flavorful toasts are easy enough to make for last-minute guests.
Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

Makes about 25

1 cup chopped pitted black olives, drained (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 sourdough baguette, cut crosswise on slight diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices

Preheat broiler. Stir olives, cheese mayonnaise and onions in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Mound 1 tablespoon olive mixture on each bread slice. Arrange on baking sheet. Broil until topping is heated through and begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stale Bread

What do you do when you have stale French bread?

Make French toast of course!!!

Make croutons
Make bread pudding
Make bread crumbs for coating
Make stuffing
Make a strada

Or let the kids have it... or the dog!!!

go to a pond, lake, river, ocean and feed it to the ducks.

Do you have any good suggestions or recipes for stale bread??

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trying it on for size

Well it has been bothering me (as a professional designer) that my heading was still the standard template. I had this great idea in my head but it will take a bit of time to construct. I need to set some things up. Take some photos. Put it all into the computer and THEN see if it even looks good. It may not work as I envision. I am NOT the photographer. I should take a class. (in addition to my kids, work, blog, house, wanting to learn Italian and French and cook more and travel and... shall I go on?)

So in the meantime... until I realize my vision or something better, I have created this collage. Part watercolor painting of Paris, portions of an old sketchbook and a really awesome BBQ I constructed for the park back for Danielle's 2nd birthday.


Well you probably aren't that interested in our "family photos" but I just wanted to share some of the fun weekend we had in Rancho Santa Fe!

Nicholas THINKS he can catch the chicken!

Mmmmmmm...... cotton candy, kids and lemonade! Now that IS a carnival.

Decorating cookies! See I am talking food here!

Nicholas takes a stab at it! (After taking a quick BITE out of it!)

Weeeeeeeeeeeee..........!!!!!!!!!!!! Nicholas couldn't get enough of this!

Gathering eggs.
Any left???? The big kids are sure to find them.

A special surprise guest! Danielle was so excited she almost knocked him over when running into his arms.
ICE CREAM!!! As IF she needed more sweets!

Celebrating Nicholas's 2nd birthday 2 days early! He kept blowing UP onto his own face, not OUT onto the candles.

This cake is from Thyme in the Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe. They have GREAT baked goods. You should see the apple pies!!!! And that isn't even my favorite. Lunch is excellent too. BUT be prepared to wait in a long line. It also closes at 3pm and is NOT open on Sunday or Monday. Also, you should have a full wallet as the cakes and sweets do not come cheap! But definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Is this all just a bit too mommyish for my food blog?


Do I REALLY care???

Apparently not! This is all just for fun and I don't feel like playing by the rules today!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Making Mayonnaise or Making a Mess?

Well here I am titling my blog "Art and Aioli" and I go and give you a "semi-homemade" aioli recipe to start off with. Then just a couple weeks ago, I open up my Bon Appétit magazine and in it is an article by Molly Wizenberg AKA Orangette and it is all about MAYONNAISE!

Molly is a more than adept chef and a superb writer. I adore the line " sat atop a knife with a soft, endearing slump". It is just so visual. And I was just salivating at the end of the article (as her writing has done for me each time actually). I decided right then and there that I would try her recipe right away! How can I have a blog about mayonnaise (garlic or otherwise) without supplying a recipe that is completely from scratch. But then Danielle needed this and Nicholas needed that and there is the house and Miss 'N Nick Designs... Life has a habit of getting in the way of things sometimes! Plus, I really didn't need any mayonnaise or have anyone who would eat it. But I did finally just decide to do it. Who cares if I need it. I just wanted to try it out.

Molly's recipe calls for canola oil but suggests using extra virgin olive oil if you want to make aioli. I did not want to add the garlic to the whole recipe as I thought the kids might prefer it without the garlic. So I proceeded to make the plain mayonnaise but used the olive oil instead of cannola so that I could add the garlic later.

The emulsification was not that difficult actually. Molly says to add the drops one at a time but even if I had the patience, my 3 year old assistant did NOT. Still it came together and was smooth as I whisked. It is hard to hold the bowl still while whisking with one hand and pouring very slowly with the other. Maybe you need an assistant? Or a bowl that adheres to the tabletop?

My end result did not appear as a "...thick, silky sauce..." Rather it was VERY thick and slightly gelatinous in nature. Maybe I (with my zealous assistant) over whisked the eggs? Also as you see in the contrasting photos below, mine is much more yellow. Of course, I am not the photographer that Ms. Wizenberg is. And I did use the extra virgin olive oil too.

The taste of my mayonnaise was good but perhaps a bit strong. I think the extra virgin olive oil was overpowering. Perhaps light olive oil or a better brand would have produced a better or more subtle flavor. Next time I will try it with canola oil and see if it is lighter and more "silky." I didn't ever add the garlic as I was rather over the whole thing by that time and had had enough of the mayonnaise. I did mix it up with some chicken and onions, placed it on a bit of romaine and added the tomatoes. This was rather nice and made a nice snack. Danielle said it was yummy on crackers and bread.

But I was disappointed. Disappointed in the taste. Disappointed in the appearance and my inability to replicate Molly's photo and enthusiasm (or abilities as is probably the case). Perhaps with a little practice....

I will continue to look for or practice the homemade aioli and keep you all abreast of my progress. If you want to read the article from Bon Appétit, you can find it here:
And the recipe is here:

If you have any tips or suggestions, please feel free to share. I would love to hear your stories!

PS. Lisa just posted a wonderful sounding mint mayonnaise on her blog: What We Eat. It sounds wonderful with the lamb. Great photos too Lisa!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter!!!

Best wishes thoughts and hopes to all. I took a few days away from home, computer and work. It was lovely. But I am ready to dive back into things.

I hope to be back later this evening with a thought on Aioli...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Check Out the Stash!

Went to the farmer's market today in Irvine. It was my first time at this one. My sister and her daughter came as well. It is very small. But I enjoyed being there, never-the-less. I really miss the farmer's market in Corona del Mar. I LOVED that one. I went so often. Every Saturday the house would have fresh flowers and herbs and veggies and of course SALSA! There has been no substitute for "salsa guy's" fabulous salsa. I really need to just make the trek down there one weekend. Life just gets so busy.

So the Irvine market... It is near Target at the Irvine Marketplace. Very small as I said. No flower stands... not today anyway. But the produce was GREEN and voluminous and so beautiful and fresh looking. And well priced. The salsa people here were not as good and rather pricey but not too bad. The hummus guy had probably 10 or 15 different flavors. They were all very very good as was his tsatsiki. We bought a couple hummus flavors and the tsatsiki to take to my parents for Easter weekend.

Here is a link to Farmer's Markets in OC.

After checking out the market and making our purchases. We walked over to the new library just a couple yards away. It is really a great building and has a wonderful feeling. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see projects like this going on in our community which wants to put up so many strip malls! I highly urge you to go visit. I think the book collection is a work in progress but the building is so nice to see.

Addendum to my babbling...

I have it! Since I have started to blog, I feel like a little teeny tiny who living on a little spec on top of a small little flower in the midst of a vast jungle which is part of this great big world (wide web) and still just a small part of the universe.

Shall I shout? "I am here. I am here...." with all my might?

Okay. Now you all can REALLY tell I am a mom and what I did with my kids over the weekend! I highly recommend the movie to those of you with children and even those without. Great message too. But who can argue w/ Dr. Suess!

A Couple Thoughts... or Babbling about Blogging...

It has been several weeks now since I found and fell into this whole new world of blogging. I have popped back and forth to many many different sites. Some of which are truly amazing! I have followed links and threads found my self weaving a crazy maze through a new and unknown city the way I would explore an old town in Europe. I have lost myself and lovely sites. Some I take the time to bookmark. I have found some again and others sadly I have not. Maybe I should have left a trail of breadcrumbs. But I am sure as I continue to wind and weave and pop and click and follow the links, I will find them again and some more to boot!

Over the past weeks I have become somewhat obsessed with looking around and with thinking about my own blog. I wake up at night with this thought or that and this idea or that. I have pictures on my camera aching to be downloaded and paired with the words in my head. But a part time business and full time children often prevent me from leaping ahead and consuming my days in this new found world.

But as I have been reading through blogs and posts and websites. While I was following links and suggestions and recommendations and leaving a comment here and there... I began to notice some of the names were familiar. Some of the clicks or alleys I went down led to a place I had been before. In reading other comments I note that many bloggers know each other and speak like or act like friends. Of course most of the conversing and "clicks" or groups are in the genre that I am interested in. None of this may be news to you but for me it is, as I said, all new and different.

In some ways this leaving of comments has reminding me of passing notes in high school. We all did it. But now you won't get in trouble for it. Unless of course you have a boss who might sneak up behind you. So I am the new kid on campus. I don't know anybody. I just kind of pop over to these various groups and try to say something interesting in hopes of meeting some friends. Some people are nice enough to talk back. Others seem so popular, I don't know that they could have the time to READ all the comments let alone comment to all. Do the popular "kids" want to read the note passed from the new kid on campus? Do they want to peek over to your blog? It is hard to be extremely witty or pithy in just a few sentences on a comment. In many ways it doesn't matter. This blog is for me. A personal place to put down thoughts, images and words. But then again why bother with a blog if you don't have some crazy desire to connect and reach out or share with others?

Well that is my 2¢ on blogging for the day... or for now anyway. Just thoughts twirling in my head. Time to pick up little-'uns from preschool.

But first... Thank you to all those who have been so kind as to visit and some of you have even deemed me worthy of a comment. For that I am grateful and cannot wait to get to know you all better!

NOTE: Illustrations within this post are original pieces of art done by me on spec in a project with another author. All rights are reserved for these and all illustrations or art within this site. Please share or show any artwork but do not copy or use for any other purposes. Thank you.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Miss 'N Nick Designs

I know I set this blog up to be about food and art but I am so excited to announce the launch of the new and improved website for Miss 'N Nick Designs! Well Miss 'N Nick is art actually! All of the designs are my illustrations and imagination.

It looks so much better now thanks to Staci and the team at Quirky Bird. The site is not only more pleasing to the eye but easy to navigate and complete with a shopping cart.

Since I write about food here, I will show off these teasers to whet your appetite and your whistle!

Please stop by for a visit and tell a friend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring is near...

What makes you think of spring?

Spring means different things to different people I suppose. For those in the northern states, it may mean warmer days and more time for outdoors. Here in California it is always fairly warm. Even a cold day is not so bad that you cannot enjoy a brisk walk. But changing the time and allowing for longer days and the beginning of blooms in the surrounding hills... that is saying spring to me right now. There is a smell in the air – slightly sweet, a hint of grass and the mingling of dew with the bits of ocean current that make it this far inland (I am only about 20 min. drive from the coast). I need to take a great picture from our window. On a gorgeous clear day, we can see Catalina and the ocean being that we sit on a little hill.

But with spring comes the desire for all things fresh and alive. Nothing brings in the season better than all the luscious fruit that is coming into season. And who enjoys that more than the kids! Now there's a snack to put a smile on their faces! Time to start really hitting the farmers markets and bringing home the good stuff. I'll be sure to take pics and post after we go to the Strawberry Farm and pick our own soon.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In the mood for color... and paint! Or just sitting in a café.

I have been thinking about my Sango cup and plate today. I only have the one cup, salad plate and dinner plate. On the Sango website I did not notice this pattern anymore but it does show up quite a few times on Ebay. Maybe I should get a couple more? Especially my beloved cup! It is just the right size and shape too. The thing about the illustration or painting is that indeed it does make me think of France and I like to think I am one of the girls in the image. Or I just want to jump on in and join them. They look a bit pensive but that is okay. I will just whip out my journal or sketchbook and sip my café au lait quietly until we are ready to laugh a bit... or head down the street for some window shopping. These two seem rather stylish, maybe they can give me some tips on great shops in the area and what is the haute couture of the moment.

But the feeling and colors of this art are rather Matisse-like. The lines and mood is a bit more controlled though. I have always loved Matisse. His work sings and has such a feeling of energy and vibrancy not only in the color but the mood, the strokes. It is the whole package. Oh to own a Matisse!

I just read an interesting blog that teaches a little more about Matisse and his style of art. Check out Art Smarts 4 Kids! Wonderful site Jessica! Thank you.

Maybe I should pull out those dusty old oil paints and start up again... Nothing like painting to put you in the mood to cook and drink great wine!

Sometimes you need inspiration...

There are some days when you are just on top of the world and others in which you are not sure that you should climb out of bed. As I embark on my journey of life and look toward creative endeavors which always hold risk, I find I get scared sometimes. Am I on the right path? Is this what I am supposed to do? Should I just stick to being a mom? Go teach? Get some generic job? What is my destiny. I doubt. I hurt. I fear. So when looking inward is not summoning the strength I need, I look to others. Books, writers, artists, leaders... Individuals who have been strong, who have made a difference.

Here I am sharing with you a site with some very amazing quotes. They boost my soul and help dry off my sagging little wings.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cheesecake and Sango... I Dream of Paris

Do you have a favorite dessert? How about a FABULOUS cheesecake recipe?

Well this is something you won't find too too often on my site. A recipe for dessert! Oh I like to eat dessert and sweets (trust me!) but I do tend to favor the savory. Especially when cooking or creating it myself. So often baking and dessert requires precise measurements and following the directions to the "T". Unfortunately this is NOT my style. I wish it were. I have a horrible time just sticking to what's called for. Instead I have to add, adjust and alter things to suit my taste, mood or just these nutty creative impulses. It may or may not make the recipe better but I sure think it adds to the fun!

So here it is: Last weekend was my grandmother's 88th birthday. We celebrated at my parent's house. I have a large family and so it is the custom for everyone to bring a dish to the party. I volunteered for the cheesecake. It happens to be one of my favorites to make and to eat. Other favorites are crème brûlée, chocolate soufflé or almost flourless chocolate cake. But more often than not I just like a really good piece of chocolate while I finish the last of my wine – divine!

But back to the cheesecake. I used a recipe that Tyler Florence deems "The Ultimate Cheesecake." Tyler's recipe has a blueberry topping but I also made my grandmother's "famous" (for our family anyway) raspberry topping. Click on the link above to get the cheesecake recipe from the Food Network site.

Now as I mentioned. I have issues trying to just stick to the recipe. I CAN if I have to but for dessert, cheesecake has a teeny bit of wiggle room. I had forgotten my grocery list when I hit the store so I had more than enough cream cheese. Tyler's recipe called for two 8 oz. packages. I used three. And I had some vanilla beans here so I added the seeds as well. This is about the only place I changed the cheesecake though. Oh I did add a little bit of sour cream on the top after it had cooked and cooled. Many of my family members like it and it makes for a lovely finishing touch. This recipe was tasty and turned out nicely but I do prefer a more dense cheesecake. Florence's was a bit "wet" or something and rather tart too. Next time I will choose a recipe with more cream cheese and a little less sour cream and lemon within the body of the cake itself. If you know a great recipe, please share! I would love to hear from you!

Now for my grandmothers topping! Feel free to modify as needed. The stores used to carry frozen raspberries in a little tin like box. I remember using this so often with my grandmother. These raspberries seemed to be in a syrup or something. Now I only seem to find the frozen raspberries in a bag and they don't have much syrup or extra liquid. I used the whole bag and put them in a colander until they were mostly thawed. Put a bowl or dish under the colander to catch the juice that will drain out. Combine this juice with about 1/4 cup of current* jelly and 1 tbls. of cornstarch in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Well I didn't get much juice from the raspberries so I added a little lemon juice. I think some actual raspberry juice would be good. Cook the juice and jelly mixture until thickened and remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining whole raspberries and reserve sauce for your cheesecake. I prefer to scoop the sauce onto each person's cake when I serve it. Thus not letting the cheesecake get too soft or soggy.

Don't forget your helpers! Whether you have those that cook with you, clean up or just taste test, it is ALWAYS fun to have company in the kitchen.

*So another problem. Current jelly has been getting harder and harder to find too. I don't know why. It upsets my grandmother as it is her favorite jelly for everything from dessert to toast. Well I didn't see it at the market and with two little kids, I wasn't about to tour town in search of jelly. I did notice the store had pomegranate jelly now though! Well as pomegranates are so popular in everything from health food to martinis right now, I chose that. I seemed to taste pretty close to the sauce when made with the current jelly.

So cheesecake and coffee with my Café Paris dishes by Sango. My friend Terri gave me these one Christmas... or was is a birthday? It was so long ago, I forget. Hey Terri... do you remember??? But the nature of the art reminded her of me and our trips to Paris. Oh how I love Paris. How much fun we had loosing ourselves in all the different streets. Finding little cheese stands, boulangeries and cafés and just reading, writing, talking, sitting.... I use this coffee cup almost every day. I love to just FEEL like I am there ... in Paris again.... I need to paint more AND visit Paris or Europe more. I miss it terribly. Any stories of Paris are welcome!

Friday, March 7, 2008


Well I have mostly been concentrating on food but today I just had to quickly write and share a very creative and amusing website with all of you. Check this out! What creative animation!

Animator vs. Animation

Monday, March 3, 2008

Channeling Richard Bach

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
– Richard Bach

An idea is never given to you without you being given the power to make it reality. You must, nevertheless, suffer for it.
– Richard Bach

Richard Bach has always been a writer that truly inspires me. His words and philosophies just creep into my soul and make me believe.

For more great quotes by Bach visit:

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I always tell others that I don't like to "make dinner" but I LOVE to cook. This is to say that the daily grind of what should we have for dinner gets me down. I cannot afford the fat, calories or cost (let alone the time with 2 toddlers at my feet) to cook these great fantastic and exciting meals on a daily basis. Sometimes I need to think of what is easy, economical and somewhat healthy too. This can be a chore. And then I hate to waste food so the ever so common–leftover is in store. Common, common, common and boring! And usually I am OVER it already. But then again... If you have some really nice fresh tomatoes and a lovely bit of avocado leftover... Well what isn't fabulous with avocado? Chop it up, throw it in a dish with scallions and whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. Drizzle some olive oil and splash a bit of vinegar and VOILA a pretty dish which is the center bed for your leftover protein. In this case I added the sausage from pasta night.

This makes a tasty and fairly light dinner. Now all I need is a glass of Cab. to go with it!

Here's to leftovers reinventing themselves!