Friday, October 9, 2015

PIRCH is my HAPPY PLACE.......

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…their motto ‘Live Joyfully’ is right over the front door so I'm especially joyful when I can share a culinary adventure there with Sandie Girl!

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 But first…..we must have a cappuccino…..

IMG 4867 I love everyone there….I wasn’t charged a re-stocking fee to exchange the range hood for mom’s kitchen!  Amazing!!!  Plus, they search for the lowest price available anywhere and give you the contractor’s discount on top of that.  All that while offering apples, beverages and big smiles all around!

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So, what were we doing there you might ask.  When pondering (funny word) what to get Sandie for her B-day, I spied a Salt Block at Pirch.  Well, I don’t even know what a Salt Block is…..Perhaps like a salt lick for animals?  No???  Then I spied a Mark Bitterman cookbook ‘SALT BLOCK COOKING’  Bingo….a perfect gift for my foodie friend who would no doubt figure it all out.  Well, it turns out that Pirch has classes on Saturdays on Salt Block cooking.  Eureka!IMG 4874

 Get it?  So there we were.  Sandie was in charge of reserving our spaces and that was not an easy task as they’re booked way in advance.  Just look at all those foodies!

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 This fellow is a brainiack at Cal Tech and might I add has excellent knife skills.  Just look how serious he is.

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 I was really trying to avoid any kitchen duty as I considered myself the ‘official photographer’ but there was no escape.  I especially did not want a task that featured big, sharp knives!  Oh well….Chop those mushrooms!

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 …..and do a good job before you move on to chopping the kale!

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 Come on now….even I know how to squeeze a lemon!

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Sandie got the worse task of all.  She had to separate all those Brussel Sprouts.  (See why I was in major avoidance….I knew it wouldn’t be pretty!)IMG 4898

 Down to business…it’s all about the bacon...

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 Maybe I’ll just grab one of these while no one is looking…..

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 On of the chefs made the bread to be cut into these croutons…..

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 I’m forgetting most of what went into this pasta dish….

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 I did notice this ‘Board Mate’ which I thought was a great idea to keep your cutting board from slipping.  Safety first!

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 No, I didn’t use this hot sauce but needed a prop for the photo op….Look how busy everyone is behind me….

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 Meanwhile, Sandie had to attend to her Brussel Sprouts so they would not burn in the oven….

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 I asked this worker bee if she was in charge of ‘KP’ and she had no idea what I was talking about.  Is that from the dark ages???

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 Mixing the pasta salad (Sobe noodles).

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 The marinated beef strips are almost ready…LOVE the stove!

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 Time to chow down….

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 The fellow who cut the tomatoes did NOT have knife skills and the sections were gynormous!  Too funny.  I don’t think he’s ever seen the inside of a kitchen as he had to continually ask his wife for guidance.  So funny!

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 What’s left of the pasta salad by the time I got to it...

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 Good job Sandie Girl….time for your reward!

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 I needed a larger plate…..

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 What’s left of the carrot and fingerling potato soup and yes, that’s where the bacon, bacon went... along with a mirepoix.

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 Where are Sandie’s Brussel Sprouts you ask?  Why garnishing the yummy soup!

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 Finally, something to make with the Salt Block!

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 Ever been to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream?  Well, you can use a frozen Salt Block to do the same thing….chop up whatever you wish into the ice cream.

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 Come on Chef….is that the biggest scoop you can do?

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 Mission accomplished….happy us! (Whoops, I still have my apron on.)

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 After that amazingly wonderful experience I met Tomiko.  Do not miss The Intern’  Nancy Meyers hits it out of the park again and it’s adorable!

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 Next stop, a Anthropologie, a must do for Tomiko.  How adorable is this little boy!

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 Time to eat as I had not seen food for a couple of hours…..Yup….Bar Verde….

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 At least we split the Peach Cobbler but there was almost a spoon war.

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 May angels lead you on your way and follow your every move!

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.