Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Ode to 1973

Monday, January 11th, 2016

 

proof sheet me bettsie kayla 1309 promenade

Memories from when I lived in my first apartment — a beach cottage on the sand, just north of the Santa Monica Pier…

Cosmo, my beloved Siamese cat. Beach volleyball. Daily trips to Campos, on Pico, for taquitos. My surfer boyfriend decorating the courtyard cottage, all in red: red Persian rug, red picnic table. My must-have, wrought iron, decorative spiral staircase, adorned with ferns that I could not keep alive.

Dennis Schafer, the manager of the building, with his retro mustache. His incessant Sunday night listening, on a cranked-up radio, to Dr. Demento. And listening to Stan Freberg, too – so I told him I knew the family.  Speaking of cranked up – my boyfriend playing his favorite record Suffragette City by David Bowie over and over and over again, standing by our record player to turn up the volume as it builds at just the right part towards the end of the brilliant song — and then the lyrics “Ohh wham bam, thank you, mam.”

The postman, who was also an actor, who lived two doors north. Bob Englund, the actor who lived next to the postman, then out-of-work. Ed Carter, who toured with The Beach Boys, living a few doors south.  Jan Heininger actor from Michigan living in the same courtyard with his girlfriend Kerry — my doppleganger.  His best friend Bruce Pearn.   The Beverly High crew that moved into another bungalow, Alex Gamble and Jerry Smith. Their visitor, Steve, whose last name was the cigarette my mom smoked, and the first person I knew on Quaaludes – every single day. (more…)

Sated

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Prune Cheeseburger

Food borders on obsession with me. No, it doesn’t border on anything – I’m being coy. Food is my obsession. I’m not alone. I share this passion with many. One friend of mine — I call her The Scout — tries out restaurants immediately after reading reviews. Sometimes we sample them together.

Her recent find was a bomb and I came home like a cranky three-year-old who hadn’t been fed. I took one bite of their well-reviewed, raved-about-on-Yelp cheeseburger, and pushed it away. I couldn’t bear to tell the waiter how much I loathed it. Everything the restaurant served was just so rich, I want to rename the place Truffles and Gruyere.   I have a few girlfriends who love overly rich food. They should go back to this new restaurant together, because I’m out.

Since I’m not the biggest meat-eater and ate only one bite of that particular cheeseburger, I am now out-of-control craving my favorite cheeseburger.  Let me tell you about it. It is served three thousand miles away. No, I take that back. It used to be served. It was on this restaurant’s lunch menu, but now they are only open for dinner. If you call Prune, in the East Village in Manhattan, to ask about their famous cheeseburger, they refer you to an online recipe. As if. I’m not that handy in the kitchen and I prefer ordering my burgers, not preparing them. (more…)

Crater Lake

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

me and ginny linden

Due to some mother-daughter friction that I was never privy to, I didn’t get properly introduced to my Granny (that’s what we called her) until I was around ten years old. Our family would be taking a long European vacation and my mother needed cat care. So, we shipped our two Siamese and old alley cat Hangover off to Granny and Homer’s house.

My grandmother could not be without a man. At least that is the story. And sometimes she was shady, leaving a man behind for another. One that got left behind was the grandfather I would never meet. Frederick. I was named after him long after he had committed suicide over my grandmother’s betrayal. She was much older (and was, in fact, a bit of a cougar) when she found Homer — and this one would stick. Homer was a simple man; a handyman or contractor who wore tight T-shirts that barely covered his enormous beer belly. In other words, a real find. I never saw Homer without a beer in his hand and a six-pack close by, so he could spring another one loose quickly, as needed. When I was a passenger in his truck, the beers sat between us on the front seat. (more…)

Time Stands Still in My House

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

me, Billy Hinsche album cover

 

I know him forty years

~ Maurice Duke

 

I just love the way my day today played out.  I woke up to a phone message from my old friend Billy.  In the message he said he’s in town visiting his mother who had surgery and is now in rehab in Santa Monica and maybe we can get together later.  I called and said we should have lunch.  An hour later my husband and I were walking into our little village with Billy.  I had called Donna and Wendy, two friends that I knew would love to reconnect with him.  Donna managed to show up for a quick hug and kiss.  We grabbed a picture to prove it.  At lunch, we got caught up on all our gossip.  Then we hung out in my house where Billy showered and changed before heading out to a party.   We would leave before him to visit old friends of my dad’s for dinner.  Beverly and Lou.  My father would say about Lou and almost everyone else: “I know him 40 years.”  And now I, too, have known Lou and Beverly for 40 years.

During the rest of the afternoon at my house, the phone would occasionally ring and it would be the same names as forty years ago.  Here we are in 2013, and it’s the all the same people.  I kept putting Billy on the phone with them. (more…)

Birth, Death & Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

dad and his mom

Mother’s Day was always a meaningful day in my life, but not because of my own mother.  Because of my father’s mother.  She was born on a day in May that fell on or near Mother’s Day.   Each year her family celebrated her birthday on Mother’s Day, no matter what the date of her actual birthday.   Her large clan would all come to her little house, deep in the Valley, to honor her.  Most of them lived nearby, but not us.

We would hop in the back of my dad’s convertible car and head over Coldwater Canyon.  He drove with only one hand on the wheel.   My dad was handicapped and needed his other hand for the controls that were attached to the steering wheel, both the gas and brake in one.  It was very unsteady.  Add to that the sharp curves going over the mountain, his cigar smoke filling my lungs, and his spit flying back into our faces that we tried dodging — well, it was quite the E ticket ride.  (For those born after they were discontinued in 1982, E tickets were for Disneyland’s most thrilling attractions.) (more…)

All Things Jewish

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

duschinsky clan

As a half-and-halfer who leaned too much to the gentile side, I might have secretly liked one Jewish holiday — Passover.  To be honest, it’s the only one I knew.  Barely.  “We’re going to Seder dinner at Celie’s,” my dad would announce each year.   Celie was my dad’s younger sister who treated him like the baby of the family.  My dad, known as Duke, and stricken with polio as a child, walked his whole life with a brace & cane.  It was Celie, till she died, who hand made for him the flesh-colored, stretchy compression socks that improved his circulation.  Chappy, my aunt Celie’s husband — okay, my uncle — would conduct a pretty serious, religious event.  He was sanctimonious, no-nonsense, and an easy foil for my fun-loving dad.  I always came starved, but ate very little.

This was a rowdy, boisterous group — a ton of aunts, uncles and cousins that all knew each other well and lived in the VALLEY.  They seemed to include my brother in their group.  Me, not so much.  So, I clung to my dad for comfort, laughing at and enjoying everything he said, hanging on like it was his last day on earth.  That’s how it was with us all my life.  He was an older dad.  Magical.  My hero.  And out there in the Valley I was often petrified.  I secretly longed for that other soon-to-be-celebrated holiday, Easter — with the gentiles. (more…)

Circle of Celebrities

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

barnaby with a gang in preschool

I’m bold sometimes.  Shameless really.  I had moved with my kids to Santa Monica, just a few blocks from a coveted, very hard-to-get-into nursery school.  Circle of Children.   I knew someone (hadn’t seen him in years) that was famous, actually, his wife was the famous one, and I read somewhere that their kid went to this school.     I totally used the connection, dropping the name at my interview — without permission — and got myself, or rather my son Barnaby, in.  I said I was shameless.  A mother’s gotta do what a mother’s gotta do.  Not only did I use that connection but I revealed to close friends my secret entree into this “private club” of a preschool, and they got their kids in too.

This place totally catered to celebrities, so much so, that when I met a big-name actress at a party, she told me she pulled her son from the school because of the obsequious manner in which famous parents there, including herself, were treated.   And she is really famous, but it sickened her.   And there was a hierarchy; we, the not-remotely-famous, were put in the lower, B group, and not with the A-listers.    The parents of Barnaby’s group were television actors, or people who created TV shows, and losers like me.  Barnaby was an outside kid.  Literally, kept outside.   Inside, with a roof over their heads, were the name kids.   Each morning, I threw on my sweats (confession: I didn’t throw them on, I slept in them), pinned up my hair, applied no makeup and dropped my kid off, having to pass Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks and sometimes Schwarzenegger.   Daily.   Oy, it was annoying.  Your kid is only three or four years old, you can’t just drop him on the corner and say good-bye.  You had to park and walk in each day, passing these people like you were on a studio lot.  Preschool is not AA, I can break anonymity here.  At a certain point each day, the B group got to mix it up with celeb kids, and on one particular day when I went to fetch Barnaby, a teacher pulled me aside.  Apparently Barnaby hit the Hanks kid.  The teacher had both kids in tow.  I looked down at my son and said, “Say you’re sorry to Chester, Barnaby.”  “I’m sowwy, Chester.”  “Great, let’s go.”  I always wanted to get out of there fast.  I felt like we were imposters. (more…)

Red Leather Booths

Friday, March 1st, 2013

IMG_4760

There was one prerequisite for our birthday dinner for Robin.  A red leather booth.  Where to find one?  So few places left with that old Rat Pack-era feel.  I still miss them.  One of my all-time favorites was Sneaky Pete’s.  On the Sunset Strip.  It was next door to Whisky A Go-Go, where Duke’s Coffee Shop was until recently.  Waitresses were dressed in really short-skirt barmaid outfits.   A place where Johnny Carson sometimes sat in on drums with the musicians.   How great was that?  Good that it’s been closed for a hundred years, or it might make me miss my father too much.  I went there with him all the time for steak and a baked potato with tons of butter, sour cream & chives.

Peggy had gone last week to Dan Tana’s, the dimly lit, checkered-tablecloth, celeb- oriented Italian in West Hollywood.  Libbie thought it was perfect for the Robin dinner.   Since I never went to Dan Tana’s much back in the day, it would be a nostalgia-free zone – no memories with my dad to weigh me down.  Still, I spent the rest of the week toying with the idea of changing restaurants.  Many texts and phone calls back and forth between the girls.  Robin said she would be just fine if we all met at Nate n’ Al’s, the Beverly Hills deli we all grew up in, but some of us just couldn’t envision a birthday celebration there.  So, I never cancelled the reservation — and here is how retro Dan Tana’s is: they never called “to confirm.” (more…)

Chinese Take Out

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

me in wand and wings

A random chick asked me to share a two-bedroom bungalow half a block from the beach on a Venice walk street.  The year was 1979.  There wasn’t much else going on.  I was living in my friend’s kitchen that had I converted to a very small bedroom by simply hanging a Japanese print curtain next to the refrigerator.  It was pretty ghetto.  But it was easy reaching from my bed for a can of Tab, and I had a six-pack-a-day habit.  Anyway, I can’t resist the beach, so I said yes.  Problem was, I didn’t know this girl all that well.  And soon learned there would be no chicks staying-up-all-night-in-PJ’s laughing.  Turns out, she was a full-blown groupie.  And an alcoholic.  She spent her nights at a recording studio with some band that shared her in the late night hours.  Most of her days were spent cleaning the recording studio.  Not for money, just because she was a fan.  My roommate was never home to pay her rent on time.  And if she were home, she would start a fight to get out of paying the rent.  Fun times.

I would spend hours listening to a new artist, Elvis Costello, and the song, “Watching the Detectives,” which I would play along with on my drum practice pad outside on the patio.  It was a sorry little existence.  I never felt safe alone at night, and I was pretty sure my big cat Cosmo, who went missing for hours at a time, had joined a gang.  Some nights, I would go with my friend Pam to little bars and joints on the strand, Cosmo trailing behind us.  Cosmo wore a scarf the way dogs did in that era, which means I put the scarf on him.  He didn’t wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, I think I’ll sport this great red scarf today.”  Cosmo would wait outside those little bars for us and then follow me home.  By the way, I never drank, so I’m not sure what we were even doing in those joints.  Something to get us out of the house, I guess.   Most days I wore stars on my face.  Sometimes I carried a wand.  A combination of vintage and punk clothes was my wardrobe.  I was very colorful.  Speaking of colorful, the roomie once told me this story.  Actually I had heard this story for years, I just didn’t know I was now living with a “famous” person.  Or is infamous the better word. (more…)

Arranged Marriages

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

heart

You’ve heard it, opposites attract.  My parents were just about the most opposite you could find.  And, I never even thought about that until just now, while sitting down to write about their relationship.  Your parents are the only parents you have, so you don’t stop to think, “What did they see in each other?”

My mother was quiet, elegant and intelligent.  My father was loud, lovable and crass.   Taste was not exactly his strong suit except, of course, his great taste in women.

They met at a party.  He saw this stunning, very young, exotic looking woman modern-dancing.  Alone.  Seductively.   Twenty years older, he was intrigued.

Cliff Notes to get you up to speed:  They dated.  He knocked her up.  He said he didn’t want kids.  She was set to have an abortion.  Her family strong-armed him or he had a change of heart.  Or both.  She had their first child, my brother Alan but first they had a quickie wedding.  In Vegas, where else?  First meal in their home together, my mother cooked.  My father complained about the way she made the eggs.  She threw the whole pan of eggs at him.  Two years after the first child, she was pregnant with me.  I was a teeny tiny thing.  Still am.  She had taken the drug DES which would later be known to cause cervical cancer in the daughters of women who took it to prevent miscarriage. (more…)