A New Year Morning Run

It was a foggy morning. Chilly yet still and perfectly silent. So I Went back to bed for an extra hour. Finally, by 9:30 a.m. the fog lifted enough to run. It’s not that I don’t want to run in the fog, but there aren’t enough people on the beach for me to feel reasonably safe. Sad but true. Not that Long Beach has any reputation of being dangerous, like Santa Monika peer has become, but still, there are random homeless people here and there sometimes.

It’s always colder in my place than it is outside, so I slipped on my Nike long-sleeve over my t-shirt. Velcrowed my tiny key pouch onto a running shoe and set out with my ActivityTracker turned on. No Power Beats. I enjoy being in the moment: listening to the seagulls screeching, half a dozen in chase to steal a morsal from rgw the poor guy flying his/her heart-out to save his hard won tidbit of edible god-only-knows-what. Dog Beach is a shot of vitamin B and happiness in one. The dogs are having such a great time. Some are just sniffing, trying to figure out the other dogs. Others have been here many time and jump joyfulling into the waves to retrieve their soggy tennis ball…for the 20th time. For dogs, the beach is a ball!

The sound of the waves is hypnotizing in a relaxing way that I can’t get from music, not even from Enya…though her music is hypnotically uplifting and wonderful in other ways. Another perk, just watching other people relax, play with their dogs and kids, chat with loved ones… is very uplifting. I don’t have to be the subject of the attention to benefit from it. Enjoy!

(Dog shots later)



Bolsa Chica Bird Sanctuary

A serene haven in the middle of the cities and just across the street from the ocean


Volunteers planting

Community spirit coming together, Families, students and friends work together to pull invasive plants and to plant native trees and shrubs.


The clouds were awesome today! I’ve never seen so many types of amazing clouds all from one view point.


Bolsa Chica Bird Sanctuary

See the cotton ball clouds in the upper left corner?

Below is what the clouds looked like when I turned 180 degrees to face into the sun..


Sun behind clouds

And finally a trail view. Miles of walking trails with dedicated birders, walkers, runners and nature photographers arriving dawn to dusk.

Stir fry 3 ways

The best way to make a healthy dinner different and delicious every day of the week.

I would like to say fast, but the veggie, meat and sauce prep can take a little more time than making a hamburger. I have learned to enjoy the process of creating recipes, cutting and prepping the ingredients and perfecting the cook times and methods. Stir fry’s seem so simple, but they can take some practice to cook all the different ingredients just right for great flavor and texture.

A shortlist of my basic ingredients for a flavorful sauce starts with a fresh olive, grapeseed, or toasted sesame oil. I splash some sesame oil on at the end with toasted sesame seeds, cashews, raw sunflower, pumpkin or hemp seeds especially when I’m not adding any animal protein.

After browning the animal protein, shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef or pork I deglaze the pan with rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pinch. I place delicate proteins, such as, shrimp and scallops, in a separate bowl so they won’t over cook.

Then I sauté the chopped onion with a dash of salt then clear a circle at the bottom of the pan to add in the minced garlic. After a few minutes, when the onions are a little translucent, I’ll toss in quartered mushrooms to give them plenty of time to release their juices. Then I add a root vegetable like burdock root, carrots, beets, (yellow as muddy red is not a good look for a stir fry).

Finally I layer the remainder of the ingredients, usually vegetables based on their hardness, therefore, cooking times. A quick list of my favorites and in order of adding to wow: kale, mustard greens, celery, peas green or snap, boc choy, bell peppers etc. I sauté each ingredient for a very short time before tossing in herbs and sometimes cubed tofu or another alternative proteins that just need to be heated.

At this point I’ll splash in some sesame oil, soy sauce or go in a different direction with dash of curry spice, plum paste, oyster or fish sauce, saracha or any other flavorings that are complementary to the mix of vegetables and proteins I’ve added. I would like to say I plan this before starting to sauté, but I often change my mind at the last minute, assuming I had a plan to begin with. I admit this is not a good practice. I have rarely discovered superb flavors combos using this method…

Put a little, or a lot, of spice in your life

Cooking is like swimming. Everyone should know how to do it.

Whether you’re a beginner or consider yourself to be an excellent cook, there is always more to learn. Cooking classes are for everyone from kids to seniors, couples, groups, extroverts and they are particularly good for introverts.

I love taking cooking classes. Chef Tech’s cooking classes  in Long Beach CA, range from Kides cupcake baking parties to their intensive Culinary Arts Program. They also offer everything from Pro Baking to sushi making and a variety of special occasion, seasonal and cultural meals. The classes are fun, relaxed and yet intense in a laid-back sort of way. More importantly I learned more precise cooking methods, and convinced my non-detail oriented side, that in cooking, details are the key to excellent results. Students ranged from a 16-year-old chef-in-training to a 70-year-old gentlemen with a keen eye for culinary perfection, a newly married couple, beginning and skilled foodies of all flavors. They even have kids classes and summer camps!


Chef Teri’s energy and humor makes for an upbeat, social learning experience.

Chef Tech cooking school in Long Beach CA is a great place to take your first cooking class or to embrace a more in-depth culinary experience with their Pro classes for baking and their advanced series of culinary skills. I’ve enjoyed many cooking classes. My first cooking class was with Richard Ruben in his Manhattan, NY cooking.  The recipes were based on his Farmer’s Market Cookbook. The class began at Manhattan’s Union Square open-air Greenmarket. What I loved was his ease in getting his group of students immediately involved in choosing produce. He simply said, “if you see any vegetables or herbs that you aren’t familiar with, let me know. Chef Ruben bought whatever anyone pointed out and made up recipes on the fly at his Tribecca flat. My take awy, butternut squash soup I’ve cooked many dozens of times in dozens of ways and never been disappointed.

Fast forward to Abby’s Table, Portland Oregon’s darling of healthy, vegan, gluten free, social cooking classes and catering. Abby Fammartino’s healthy culinary classes have a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with a classy group meal following high-lighting the delicious healthy recipes we learned to cook that day.

The Farmer’s Market Cookbook

by Chef Richard Ruben

Abby’s Table Essential Sauces + Sides: Naturally gluten, dairy, and soy-free recipes to please every palate

By Chef Abby Fammartino

Mary’s Garden

What is it about tending a garden: growing your own flowers or vegetables, picking fresh herbs and feeding neighborhood birds, that feeds a person’s soul?

it transcends gender, color, nationality, age, even knowledge, ability and opportunity. Even in the smallest apartments in the busiest cities a plant or two patiently sits near a window, basking in the sun waiting for their weekly watering and hoping for a dash of plant food.

Mary_Garden_peas_pot_snail_PhotoMatix1330-1-1Simple garden pleasures: textures, colors, light


Mary’s Guard Garden


A charming birdhouse decorates Mary’s garden acting as a perch for birds waiting their turn at the bird feeder. Nestled in the flowering tree just behind the birdhouse, the feeder sports 6 tiny perches for finches and other small birds. The doves, robins, infrequent pigeons and visiting migrators partake at the shallow clay bowl sitting on the garden wall