Earthquake Life

“They” say LA’s had an earthquake drought, as it were. They’re right! I remember when living in San Diego I felt at least three, one of which was preceded by the trees full of birds suddenly all taking flight at the same time waking me up. Then I moved to LA and it was such a frequent occurrence it was no biggie. I mean, they were small, but it was common place to feel an earthquake. I worked in an older building with a bigger boss and you never knew if he was coming or there was an earthquake. I had a co-worker who freaked out a couple of times only to discover it was our boss coming. The last earthquake I remember was Easter, April 4, 2010. We were hosting Easter in our tiny condo for 16 people (I don’t know how we did it!) and the ground was moving and moving and moving and moving. We all felt it. It was a 7.1 earthquake in Baja in Mexico.

On March 17, 2014 I was woken up by what felt like a doozy. The biggest I think I’ve ever felt. At least it was the closest I’ve ever been to an epicenter! It was terrifying. Everyone I talked to in our complex said it felt much bigger than a 4.4! I tore out of bed like a mad fool, thinking only of my mini-me, and grabbed onto the door jamb to wait it out. The problem is is that you have NO idea if it’s going to get worse or how long it’s going to last when it’s happening! A decorative plate on a bookshelf fell off and shattered on the floor right outside our bedroom door. I leapt over it, realized it was dark, wondered where Eric was, looked at the clock and ran as fast as I could to mini-me’s room where I jumped on her bed with her and laid there long enough to make sure she was ok. It woke her up and she thought someone was breaking into our condo! I ran to get the phone and called Eric who was in the midst of calling me and then called my mom to tell her we were ok. I’m not gonna lie, I was shaking so bad I could hardly lift my arms up to hold the phone!

It’s funny how earthquakes work, if you’ve never experienced one. The closer you are to the epicenter, the more violent they are. The farther away, the more it feels like the ground is “rolling”. Earthquakes are noisy too! I heard people thought a bomb had gone off outside their homes. Plus the structure you are in moans and groans and then if it’s big enough things are crashing around.

On March 28, I was in bed when I felt another earthquake. I again, tore out of bed and headed for the door. However, it wasn’t that bad where we live and my husband yelled to see if I was ok. I opened the bedroom door to see him headed toward mini-me’s bedroom. She felt it and thought someone was breaking in again! That earthquake was a 5.1, which is pretty significant and it red tagged some buildings and emptied shelves near the epicenter, but it was 45 miles away from us.

Then on March 29, I was sitting on the couch and felt another one! It really does get the adrenaline pumping! Mini-me said she didn’t feel it, but Eric said he did. That one was 4.1 and it was about 48 miles away. It’s enough to rattle one’s nerves, that’s for sure! If we have another, I’m hopping in the car and driving us to my parents!

What is it With Car Chases?

Well, at least the person being chased by 7+ police cars and a helicopter was courteous enough to honk his horn to warn other drivers as he blew through our intersection this morning! That’s life in the big city, I suppose. It happens entirely way too often. Like, there was one last week in the middle of the night. I am a deep sleeper so it only wakes me when there is an incessant stream of sirens. This morning it happened five minutes before my alarm went off so I wasn’t in such a deep sleep, which is why I heard the person honk their horn! Thoughtful, I’m telling you, that person was thoughtful.

I remember after I moved to San Diego I was watching TV and they broke in the newscast with a high speed chase. It happened to be on the freeway I could see from my apartment so I went tearing outside to see it with my own eyes. I was SO excited! The big city life, the energy buzzing, I loved it!! It was awesome! I also loved sitting in rush hour traffic. I still remember the giddy feeling I had being crammed on the freeway with a million other cars, on my way to a substitute teaching job. I came from a mid sized town where these things never happened and now I was an adult, doing adult things, and it rocked! 11 years later, I’m totally and completely over the big city life! I want to live in the middle of nowhere and be able to hear my own heartbeat! And if nothing else, watch TV with the doors opened and the closed captioning off…

Pasta with Kale, Kalamata Olives, Dried Cranberries, Toasted Garlic & Feta

Meatless Monday, cheers! My husband thinks he doesn’t like today, but he does. He just doesn’t want anyone to know. He’s from the mindset that you must eat meat at every meal. I’m not sure why this is. But a lot of people are like that! If vegetarianism were about eating a salad all the time, I’d think I’d have to eat meat too, but it’s not. There are so many fabulous dishes out there that are so crazy packed with flavor, you just don’t miss the meat. Really. I speak the truth. And my husband will tell you the same, via ESP, so that he wouldn’t have to say it out loud, I’m sure of it.

This recipe was fairly easy enough, not much to it prep wise, which is super nice! I had a meeting tonight so I wanted something easy to throw together before I ran out the door in an effort to beat the traffic… ahhhhhhh, the LA life. The only thing was that I hadn’t timed the cooking of the spaghetti in with the cooking of the sauce, so my husband had to finish that part up, which means I DIDN’T GET TO EAT ANY! At least not hot, the night of. I actually ate it cold the next day. I love me some cold spaghetti! It was good cold and I’m sure it would have been great hot. You’ll have to let me know!

As for the ingredients, I love garlic. My husband finally had the nerve after a few years to tell me he did not love it, so I cut up two garlic cloves instead of an entire head, and I used half the amount of onion because, again, I always seem to have extra large onions, so now I’m cautious. This recipe had so much flavor! How could it not with garlic, cranberries, kalamata olives & feta? I think I would make this again. I’d like to try it hot and fresh. I’d give it 4 stars, but I’m on the quest for a plethora of five star recipes!


Pasta with Kale, Kalamata Olives, Dried Cranberries, Toasted Garlic, & Feta

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound spaghetti or other pasta (we use whole wheat)
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese


1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Cook onion in the remaining oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add dried cranberries and cook until plumped, about 1 minute.
2. Add kale leaves into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.
4. Toss pasta with kale, kalamata olives, and 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and garlic chips over the pasta dish and serve warm.

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat” Ragu Over Tagliatelle

Seriously! I can’t believe it’s not meat! Ok, well, it’s been awhile since I had beef so maybe it’s not that tricky, but it sure has a great texture and it looks like ground beef! I thought I’d be able to trick my husband, but I got too excited about how it looked, I told him what it was called before he took a bite. He’s not a huge cooked tomato fan, but he’s a trooper. He said he liked it, and I believed him.

Now, this is a Martha Stewart recipe so it’s complicated and involved. I don’t think she does anything simple, does she? I did start this earlier than normal so it could have the full two hours to simmer and acquire the full intensity of flavor. I admit, after I put this in my menu planner, I set the calendar on my phone to remind myself… and then, funny thing, the alarm went off, I read the message and thought “what the heck?”. Haha! My brain is full, packed to the brim I tell you. Shoot, if it weren’t for my menu planner and my Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Crock Pot Wednesday, I’d have no idea what day of the week it was! Know what I’m saying?

I halved this recipe because there’s 2 1/2 of us and we don’t often have time for leftovers. It made plenty for four people. I made garlic toast (literally buttered bread with garlic salt & oregano sprinkled and popped in the toaster oven) and a veggie, but a salad would be great with this too. And heck, don’t let that Grenache go to waste! I think I’d make this again, but I’m not quite sure. It was good, but 5 stars good? I don’t know. Will I toss this recipe? No. It’s good to have a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe on hand. Cheers!

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat” Ragu Over Tagliatelle


  • 1 large red onion, very coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, very coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium ribs celery, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Grenache
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Hebron or herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds Tagliatelle pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving


  1. Place onion in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Place carrots and celery in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Place mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped; set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil, cloves, cinnamon stick, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme in a large pot over medium-high heat; cook until cinnamon stick begins to unfurl, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery; stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is browned, about 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is released, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup water and wine; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours for a deeper flavor, adding an extra 1/2 cup water after one hour. Add Herbes de Hebron and butter; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add remaining tablespoon salt to boiling water and return to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and add to pot with ragu; toss to combine. Serve topped with freshly grated cheese.

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

It seems as though I’ve been on a cooking hiatus. Perhaps I have. February was a crazy month what with the holidays, illnesses and my birthday. Hopefully we are back on track so things can get settled and we can move forward. However, my daughter came down with a fever yesterday. And I, unknowingly, sent her to preschool… oops. After I picked her up, we went to Whole Foods and we were saying out in the parking lot, how hot it was (yes, I did just say it was February). Then we went inside to the produce section and she was suddenly freezing, like night and day in a matter of seconds. I laughed and told her it felt good in there. She kept going on about how cold she was so I said “do you have a fever?” and kissed her forehead and guess what? It was warm! I gave her my yoga jacket and she was still freezing. When we got home I tried to take her temp with one of four thermometers we had that had a semi-working battery and got three different readings, but the first, 100.7, was enough to let me know she definitely had a fever! She said she was too tired to eat, so I sent her to bed without lunch and she fell asleep the second her head hit the pillow. Once she woke up, she progressively got worse until she was in tears because her head hurt so badly. I gave her acetaminophen and within the hour she was feeling much better. I ran to the store to get yet another thermometer since my husband went on hunt #2 to find batteries for the thermometers we had and came up empty handed. Yes, a few weeks ago I went to a couple of different stores looking for batteries and everywhere I went, they were out! All I can conclude is that they stopped making those sizes… I should google that.

Anyway, I woke up at 12:30 to check on her and her temp was 103.6. She woke up and seemed fine so I took off all the blankets (bad idea they were, I realize) and by the time I came back with the acetaminophen, her temp had gone down to 103.3. *phew* I sat with her for a while cause that’s what a worried mom does, and she eventually said “you can go now, mom”. (“OK, my mini-teenager…”.) An hour later I checked her temp again and it was somewhere in the 101 range so I could sleep!

So that’s what is going on here, fever and endless cartoons. And endless cleaning for me.  Weeee. But back to my cooking hiatus! What better way to ease my way back into cooking then to crockpot? Do it during the day when you have the time and energy and voila, when you’re hungry, dinner is ready! I’ve tried and failed too many times to know that returning to cooking after a hiatus and attempting to cook at dinner time often ends up in eating out or a frozen something-er-other. I set out to make the soup, only to have endless distractions with a sicky and texts and phone calls and moths (later my friends, later) and blah, blah, blah, that I ended up throwing it all on the stove and turning it on low. This wasn’t a five star meal, and I ‘m not sure I would even rate it a 4 star. Though I wouldn’t give it 3 stars because it was much better than that! Don’t get me wrong, it was really good, but it wasn’t anything I’d be interested in making again. I didn’t think it was  “wow, wow, wow!” If you’re watching your calorie intake, this would be a good soup for you, especially if you made it with ground turkey, or even cauliflower or a veggie mix. The only significant fat is the meat, and then the cheese if you decide to add it at the end.

As I was prepping the soup I realized a few things: a) my shopping list failed me and didn’t tell me I needed ground turkey OR chicken stock, so I made the soup minus those two things and when I could, I ran to the store and b) that the kiddo wouldn’t eat it with the onions and my husband doesn’t like cooked tomatoes, so I pulled out the hand blender and whirred away until it was all blended. I then browned the turkey in a separate pan and added it at the same time I added the chicken stock and the shell pasta, which by the way, I bought quinoa shell pasta in an attempt to begin reducing our gluten intake.

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

Adapted from:


1 lb.  ground turkey

3 cups chicken broth

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T dried parsley

1 T dried basil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

1 cup tomato based vegetable drink (like a V8 type drink)

2 cups uncooked shell pasta

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup water

Optional topping- shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese


First mix together the can of tomatoes, and tomato paste in crockpot.

Next add broth, ground turkey, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, V8 and salt & pepper.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

When 30 minutes are left of cooking time, add in the 1 cup of water and noodles. Stir to combine. Put lid back on and continue cooking for 30 minutes.