To Do List: June 2011

MoMoodBrd June

There’s been a lot of brightness in my life this month — bright skies, bright colors, bright flavors and lots of bright ideas. Here are the ten I found stellar enough to share with you:

SIP: Piña Coladas have never been my thing. I find them one dimensional and too sweet. So when my friend ordered a Coconut Mojito from the pool bar at Honolulu’s Edition Hotel, I wrote it off as a minty piña. And when she got giddy on about how much she liked it, I figured she was tipsy. But then another friend went on about it. And another. So that’s when I gave it a try and realized they were right. Laced with the coconut flavor of a Piña Colada but balanced by the minty, booziness of a Mojito, it’s a refreshing update to the classic warm-weather cocktail and I’ll be adding this version to my summertime happy hour menu.

MEASURE: I’m not sure what it is with my food friends, but we all have an obsession with mini things, from teensy produce to itty plates. It’s unpractical because mini things aren’t usually functional, with one major exception: my Mini Metal Cocktail Measure. I use it on a daily basis for measuring out sauces and, most commonly, for cocktails. But I don’t find the classic plastic cup attractive enough to bring it out when there’s company. It seems Oxo heard my calling because they came out with metal version that’s just as functional yet won’t cramp my cocktail style.

READ: Yes, summer is about good weather, the outdoors, and cookouts. But, what gets my jazzed it the chance to make loads of frozen treats like my favorite icebox cakes and granitas. But this summer I’m trying some new treats because Fany Gerson (of La New Yorkina) has mastered the art of Mexican frozen treats and shares them in her newest book, Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas. The spiced tomato-tequila recipe had me at hello, the cheese-based queso fresco granita has me curious, and her rendition of my childhood favorite, the naranjada, is a sure winner.

FUND: Caribbean cooking, with its mix of flavors, ingredients, and roots, is one of the original fusion cuisines. But, beyond the Creole cooking of the French Caribbean via my French stepmother and the occasional jerk chicken, I’ve had almost no exposure to the food. And I’m curious. Especially about Jamaica since I spent my high school days in a ska band singing ’60s ska and reggae tunes. So, you can imagine how much I’m drawn to this Ras Rody Cookbook penned by a philosopher-cum-cook-cum roadside restaurant owner from Nigril, Jamaica. The book’s written, shot, and edited and now he’s trying to get it published and is admirably using the power of internet fund raising, via Kickstarter, to get it done.

PIN: Have I told you how much I like Pinterest? It’s a simple concept – pin your favorite visuals from the web and collect them on this site — but it’s more than that. I’ve found myself scrolling through my pins and those of my friends and it’s surprisingly reinvigorating.

CLICK: Conscientious consumerism is a great idea but it often creates a big headache as I try to decipher labels and translate marketing speak. I’ve always wanted a consumer-based cipher to sift through it all and it seems my prayers were heard with the Good Guide. The site was put together by a UC Berkeley policy professor, Dara O’Rourke, and they now have a team of researchers working to bring transparency to our purchasing decisions.

EAT: Have you ever made your own tofu? If you have, then you know that it’s an easy process (heat soy milk, add a coagulant, and voila!), but that there’s an art to getting it just right. Recently, I dined at Morimoto with friends where they made tofu tableside. I was intrigued by whole nonchalantly they went about it yet how elegant and intriguing it made a relatively mundane thing like tofu.

WATCH: Traveling and music are right up there with food as my favorite hobbies. So, whenever I get a chance to learn about a place far away, I’m there. My cinematographer friend and his surfer wife took a life-changing trip to war-torn Liberia a few years ago to explore the country, the people, to share the joy of surfing with the residents, and create Sliding Liberia. While it’s a long shot in a place that is still struggling to have regular electricity and running water, it was uplifting to see the locals get excited about sliding on the water.

VISIT: As I started spending more time in Los Angeles, I feared losing the creative community I’d built for myself in Northern California. But LA has pleasantly surprised me and I’ve come across loads of community-cultivating events that have helped me integrate quickly. My latest discovery are the Friday Night Wine Tastings at Barnsdall Art Park. A ticket gets you access to the park (where there’s a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house), live music, food trucks, and wine tastings put on by the knowledgeable bunch at Silverlake wines. Looking around with the picnickers and kids frolicking it’s hard to believe you’re deep in the heart of Hollywood.

BUY: When I first started cooking, I had visions of moving to Italy and cooking at a huge hearth in a rustic house deep in the countryside. My fantasy would have me clad in a handmade, vintage apron and a pair of stylish cooking clogs. Then reality set it and never made it to that rustic house. At least I can get these Yellow Clogs for times when I’m not in the kitchen but still yearning to channel my inner country chic.

Photos via Ed Anderson, Cooking With The Single Guy, Gabrielle Lurie, Sliding Liberia, and Anthropologie

To Do Lists are monthly lists where I share my favorite discoveries of the last 30 days with you.

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