Thursday, March 31, 2011


In French it means - storage, organizing and if you go to the root of the word,

and making it very literal, "lining things up in rows".  The first four of these I found at Sophie Munn's Tumblr site which she calls "Seed Capsules".  Sophie did some New Year's tidying up, any of you in the mood?  Or would just looking at somebody else's organizing do the trick?

Pierre Bonnard
 the painting above "The Red Cupboard" - one of many by this painter.  Painting IS organizing too!

Do I need to say anything about the photo above?  How could I?  Besides that it's beautiful in all the wrong ways.

The following "red" photo, The Old Library, The Hague, Netherlands, was credited to Menno Mannheim on Flickr  but I had trouble confirming this.  Can anyone help?  Anyway, kind of amazing.

This last from the Selby.  It is (just one of many, I imagine) of a Karl Lagerfeld home, with his collection of books.  

Wouldn't you love to spend a month here uninterrupted?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where Ya Headed?

Hey it's Spring!

The world is opening up

- new paths to choose.

Will you take the usual route?

or the comfortable option?

Or will you take the road less traveled?  What'd ya say?  WHERE you going????

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Corner View - Reflection: New Stone Age - West Third St. Los Angeles

The New Stone Age, on Third St. in L.A.,  is

Other pictures on the website (click it) are better than on the blog here.

"TOO BAD",  I said, to Mr. Paradis, "that my birthday, Christmas and our anniversary are all still at least seven months away".  Cause he could shop for me here.

He said, "These - I could MAKE for you!  Easy-Peasey!  I said "Huh!  Yeah right!"  (Though we do like berries at our house.)

I am always cleaning something.

These fellows speak for themselves.

But......we were talking about reflections.........

 and "Reflection" does include glistery things, right?

Maybe not so much velvety rotund things but......(I STILL LIKE 'EM!)

These, you have seen before, and I think we achieved a consensus, reflecting our shared predilections.

Now you know that post last week I did about the greeney yellow kitchen that I should have had, and its "bridge and tunnel" accoutrements instead? (Bridge-and-Tunnel is NYC code for New Jersey and QUEENS.)  That house ALSO had an electrical box right SMACK in the middle of the "living room".  If ONLY I'd have thought to paint it Chinese celadon blue and accessorize it with a red tasseled key!   How classy would that have been?!

But I didn't!  I covered it with a dish towel instead.  Genius?  Well Sheesh!  (No!)

So OK, if the New Stone Age actually IS the ultimate reflection of A-L-L my predilections, including specifically, pink flowers......then that must mean that "The NEW STONE AGE" is  MY NEW FAVORITE STORE!   (In L.A.)

Shall I sum up?  Emphatically, YES.

For more Corner Views, please check in with:  jane ian - bonnie - joyce - kim - kay -trinsch - ritva - francesca - state of bliss cabrizette - isabelle - janis -kari - jgy - lise - cate - otli - dorte - b -sophie - mcgillicutty - sunnymama -daan - ibb - pienduzz - kelleyn - ninjasammi - theresa - cherry b - juliette -shokoofeh - cole - grey lemon -lucylaine - lynn - skywriting - anna -dorit - conny - l´atelier - kamana -anne marie - rosamaría - victoria -tikjewit - juniper - annabel - andrea -valerie - merel soisses - mlle paradiscacahuete - wander chow - barbara -emily - tally - nadine - matilda - don -flowtops - susanna - tania - dana -ingrid - tzivia - mezza - lollipop - mari

Monday, March 28, 2011

Remember My Post About Brushes?

That groovy I-pad app called "Brushes"?

Here are a couple more things I was able to do.

Cool, huh?  Have you tried it out yet?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Veggie Dumplings

So I said the other day that I would try to share some of the other things we have been doing over here at chez Paradis,  to keep our spirits up in the face of all the horrific news.   One of those things would be:  DUMPLINGS. Otherwise known, (in Korea) as Mandu, (in Japan) as Gyoza, in (China) as Jiaozi. They are tender little bites of things that make for a very companionable and chatty activity in the making, as much as they do for happy eating.

Frankly the eating part goes so fast, you can't say much about that part being companionable.  If you've ever ordered gyoza in a restaurant, I'm sure you've always wished you'd ordered more.  There never seem to be enough.  So you may like your eating partner less if he's eating faster and more dumplings than you, on the other hand, you may not be thinking about your partner at all, because all your focus will be on the next dumpling, getting it dipped in a piquant sauce, and stuffing it in your gob!

OK now the good news MAY be that these are VEGETARIAN dumplings.  Which your eating partner may find less attractive.  And so'll you'll get to eat them all!

At our house, since Mr. Paradis is a Pesca-vegetarian, it was very important to develop such a recipe since many restaurant veggie versions can be pretty underwhelming, consisting of soggy tasteless mystery vegetables.  More importantly, these require fewer exotic Chinese ingredients than you might expect so it makes them easier to throw together at the last minute or late at night when you've got an attack of the munchies.

You could make them entirely by hand, the way I was trained to.  (This is the companionable part, that you often see restaurant staff engaging in in a corner of your favorite restaurant.  Almost as fun as Mah-jong, but requiring less jewelry.)   All you need to do is take a round dumpling skin, spoon a little filling into the middle of it, trace a little water around the edge of one half of the skin, and then fold the dumpling skin over to form a half moon.  Then you crimp the edges, in sort of accordion, or fan folds to make little pouches.  So pretty.  The ones on top were made by Mr. Paradis with one of those plastic dumpling makers that you can find in most Chinese or Japanese homewares stores or online for example, here.  He's a speedy kind of guy and yes, plastic technology is much faster.  But less sociable and satisfying.  Not at all ARTISANAL.

Once your platter of crimped dumplings is full, it's time to pop them into a hot frying pan or griddle.  The important things to remember are that the pan and or lid are DEEP (and they don't necessarily need to match)  i.e., if you're frying on a flat griddle, just use a deep pan lid to cover completely, but spaciously accommodate the dumplings while you steam them.  And that the pan or griddle is hot!  Traditionally in Chinese cooking, you should throw the food in, when smoke starts to rise from the light coating of oil that you've put on your already hot surface.  (Alternatively, you use a deep frying pan with a flat lid.)

So a little frying, then a little steaming.  If you know about braising, you know already how to do this. but of course the dumplings aren't kept in terribly long.  You don't want them soggy, just tender and chewy at the same time.   You want a slight crunch when you bite into them, even after they've been dunked in that sauce.

So would you like the recipe?  You don't have to use ALL the ingredients below, but prep them all and then you can adjust them according to your taste.  If you like Asian food, you'll know how they should taste because the seasoning is that basic old reliable threesome: soy sauce, garlic, and fresh ginger.  Use thin soy sauce, not too salty.

- 1 packet of pre-made wonton or gyoza wrappers

- 1 tub of tofu, firm or extra firm.  (In the states, these are usually just under 1 lb. in weight.)  Drain it, cut it into little cubes

- About four romaine leaves cut into a chiffonade (thin ribbons)

- 1 medium endive, cut also into chiffonade 

- One small tin of waterchestnuts chopped coarsely

- One clove of garlic, crushed peeled and minced

- A piece of fresh ginger the size of a large marble, also crushed and minced

- 2- 3 green onions (scallions, spring onions) minced

Mix all of these together in a big bowl along with several shakes of soy sauce to taste, add a little salt and pepper.  Don't let this sit too long, you should immediately start making dumplings.  If your wrappers get a little soggy, you can dust them very lightly with corn starch.  If they look a little dry, you can keep them tender and flexible by covering them while you're making with a slightly damp paper towel.  Or a tea towel.  You should make dipping sauce before you start frying.  See recipe below.

So frying:  As before, let the pan get hot first, drizzle about a 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into the pan.  Let it dance on the surface and completely cover the cooking area of the pan.  ASAP place some fresh dumplings onto the pan.  (It's nice to line about six of them up right next to each other, they will stick together and make a nice presentation on a plate.)  Let them brown into crispy little packets, as soon as they have browned, splash a tablespoon or two of water onto the pan surface and quickly slam the pan lid on top of them to allow them to steam.  Leave it there a couple minutes.  You can check them to make sure they are properly translucent but still firm.  When they reach that point you can remove them from the pan with a wooden spatula or chopsticks and they are ready to eat.   Don't oversteam or they will fall apart.

(Mr. Paradis seems to find it necessary to regularly scrape the pan with the spatula, between batches, and wiping it with a paper towel to make sure no burnt residue builds up.)

LET THE DIPPING BEGIN!  Here's the recipe for a basic sauce.  For every Chinese person in the universe, there is a variation, (probably the same goes for dumpling recipes) but this one works well.

-  Soy sauce:  four or five shakes into a small but deep bowl to cover the bottom by about an inch.  

-  Hot chili oil:  One tablespoon or to taste.  (I use the one from the chinese stores in the plastic jar with a green lid:  Sambal Oelek, which is not strictly Chinese.)

-  Rice wine vinegar:  A couple shakes, but less than the soy sauce. The taste should not be sharp.

You should think of the soy sauce as the flavor that joins together the hot pepper and vinegar flavors and smoothes them out.  But the soy sauce should not be pronounced and salty either.

Hey it's a long post.  But they are delicious dumplings.  I promise!

If you are not all vegetarians at home, you know what do, just google.  You will find a million recipes for meat filled goodies.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunday Sorta Sepia

Friday, March 25, 2011

Have A Wonderful Weekend Everybody

The news is still mixed, but spring is coming with it's sweet relief and consolations.  Hope you all have some nice plans for the next couple of days.

p.s.  here's a link to an NPR interview yesterday with Lasse Peterson, International Director of ShelterBox.   Some of you may have donated to them this week.  And if you don't know much about Shelter Box (I didn't) here is a link to their site.

Huntington Gardens, San Marino, where the Japanese Garden/Exhibit is under renovation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Last Call - Wurstkuche, Los Angeles

Remember that pub crawl we were on the other week?  We got rudely interrupted.  Don't remember why.  But that doesn't mean that we should forget all about Wurstkuche.  Situated on a lonely corner in the very remote seeming "Arts District" of Downtown L.A., a few minutes walk from Little Tokyo.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER (to Europeans, maybe, and ex-NY-ers):  THIS IS A BAR IN L.A. THAT IS OPEN ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON!  (Not all bars in L.A. are.)  

Last year some time, we took a friend and his eleven year old to Wurstkuche for lunch.  So this eleven year-old, after being led past the already long line forming at the entrance, where people were ordering food, and getting settled on a narrow bench against a wall, in a room arrayed with long communal tables - in the dark ...........had a long look around, then let out a big sigh.  "You know," he said, blinking once or twice - and shrugging his shoulders a little uncomfortably. "If this place does not work out, we could go somewhere else!"

"What do you mean?" we said.

"Well you know, we could go to, like a real restaurant.  Where people COME to your table and take your order.  And there are big TV's on the wall that you can watch."  

"MMMMMMMOkay."  We said.  "We prob'ly could..........."

Then someone brought him a nice chunky bratwurst.  And an orange soda.  And some fat fries with truffle oil glaze on them.  And chipotle aioli for dipping!

There were no further discussions of "other" restaurants.  Get there early guys!  By seven-thirty p.m. the lines are almost two blocks long to get in.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spiritual Home

It's true.  I have, for the most part of the last decade, been the kind of person who favored the ALL WHITE country style kitchen.  With stone countertops.  That we see so much of but NEVER get sick of.   (Do we?)

Marie Claire Maison

But ever since I saw this kitchen on Corine's site, I have been, to quote the Mister,  obsessed.

Recognize that stainless steel countertop?  Seen it anywhere else lately?  Check out the yellow-ey green paint on the walls.  SO TRULY MY COLOR!  

When I lived in the greater New York metropolitan area, my first home was a former stables about 12 feet wide and 25 feet deep.  The kitchen, which we inherited from a nice Calabrian family was

1) unheated

2) had the sink against a CORNER

3) swathed from top to bottom in Italian-immigrant style faux marble and terra-cotta-tile VINYL-AND- FORMICA

4) the cabinets were so ugly I have completely eliminated them from my memory banks!


I had that color already in my living room.  It was called ACACIA - by Pratt & Lambert, a paint company to whose "Vapex" I was once unduly devoted.   If ONLY I had just pulled all those nasty cabinets out, bashed in some Ikea ones, and instead of a GEANT Marmite jar, I could have super-glued together all the little ones that Mr. Paradis has collected into an enormous croquembouche type edifice.

If ONLY Vika stainless steel tabletops had been available then.

But they weren't and I did not.   I just spent all my waking hours making a postage stamp garden instead.
And you know what?  There's not much in the way of DO-overs in life.

BUT.  Now, I have a very nice, but kind of boring kitchen.  What if instead, I had this picture (of my spiritual home) made into wallpaper, and plastered it around the joint.  Madly custom, ME-styled wallpaper, from here.  Wouldn't my multi-colored tiffin carrier look the bomb in here?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Scooped the NY Times! Operation Tomodachi

This is not what it's about guys, but I am so tickled to death ........ the following article was posted on the NY Times at 6:49 ET today this evening.   Now remind me, at what time today did you first hear about Operation Tomodachi???????

Actually,  The Wall Street Journal had already blogged this story here on March 20, just one day ahead of me, and on the U.S. Defense Department site here, it had already been announced on March 12, 2011, that Operation Tomodachi was underway.  Now that we know what the American effort has been called, it's easy to google it and find all sorts of sites reporting on the doings.  It's a great way to be reassured that help is getting to those who need it, and if you have U.S. Military family involved in the effort in Japan (you probably know this already) but there are many ways to find out exactly what they are up to.  It may be that insiders in the media and government knew about this all along, but since most of the mainstream media had not reported about it, and the Libyan events (which I think I'm glad about) have taken over the news pages, it has been an agonizing week of worrying for both those within and outside of Japan.  I know that I am not alone.

I've also been in touch with Yoko Hayashi who is in Tokyo.  This is her blog (normally about her art and Tokyo life) these days describing Tokyo during and after the quake.  I found her via Suzanne at SakuraSnow.  I didn't know Yoko before but it has been very touching to hear how much she appreciates our concern.  I've asked her to please let us all know what else we can do to help as time goes on.

You'll see in the article that some medicines can still not be provided by outsiders so again, I'll ask you to email your local Japanese authorities and Consulates where you are and urge them to get moving on this and get the medicines out there!

No Corner View from me this Wednesday, my normal blogging schedule is a bit discombobulated this week.  Thanks again everybody for all your efforts on your own sites and all the other ways that you are trying to help.

From the New York Times today:

Rebuilding Lives and American Ties to Japan

ON BOARD THE RONALD REAGAN — When United States Navyhelicopters swept down on the school in a ruined Japanese village, survivors first looked hesitantly from the windows. Then they rushed out, helping unload food, water and clothes. They clasped hands with the Americans. Some embraced them.

1 of 7
The Destruction and Aftermath
Photos of the unfolding disaster in Japan.
    “They are like gods descending from the sky,” said a tearful Junko Fujiwara, 37, a secretary at the elementary-school-turned-shelter in the northern coastal town of Kesennuma. “It’s cold and dark here, so we need everything: food, water, electricity, gasoline, candles.”
    Soon after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the United States military began what it calls Operation Tomodachi (Friend), one of its largest relief efforts in recent years. At present, about 20 American ships have massed off Japan’s northeastern coast, including theRonald Reagan, a nuclear-powered carrier whose helicopters are busily ferrying supplies to survivors.
    That relief is getting through to sometimes difficult-to-reach coastal areas devastated by the March 11 double disaster. They are also the latest showcase in the Pentagon’s efforts to use its forces to win good will for the United States abroad, a strategy that it used successfully in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami there.
    In particular, the United States has grabbed a chance to rebuild ties with a crucial Asian ally that just a year seemed to be flirting with pulling out of Washington’s orbit. The fact that American ships arrived so quickly on the scene has been a chance to demonstrate the value of having dozens of American bases in Japan, which hosts some 50,000 military personnel.
    “What we are doing here is diplomacy,” said George Aguilar, the commander of the HS-4 Black Knights, a helicopter squadron on the Ronald Reagan. “This is our best friend in the region.”
    It seems so far to be a highly successful effort, at least in the areas the helicopters visited. On Sunday, as the squadron ferried supplies to towns devastated by the tsunami, usually to schoolyards or sporting grounds converted into landing zones, Japanese residents welcomed them with deep gratitude. Many were isolated when roads were washed away.
    “We will always remember the Americans’ coming at a time when we needed help,” said Osamu Abe, 43, an official in the town of Minamisanriku, where Commander Aguilar’s squadron dropped off bottled water, military rations and children’s clothing on Sunday.
    At the same time, the American military has found itself trying to achieve a delicate balance. The United States has played a role in many aspects of the response to the recent crisis in Japan, including sending fire trucks to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But the Americans seem keen to avoid embarrassing the Japanese, or suggesting that the United States is running the show.
    Indeed, Japan has at times appeared overwhelmed by the multiple disasters — the earthquake and tsunami have left more than 26,000 dead or missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless, and the plant still faces a possible meltdown. The United States mustered a large presence in tsunami-hit areas quickly, while Japan has been slow to reach some heavily damaged areas, especially around the nuclear plant. The Navy said Monday that it had delivered 194,700 pounds in supplies to ruined areas, much of it essentials like food, water and clothing.
    “We really appreciate this swift and huge capability,” said Capt. Hidetoshi Iwasaki of the Maritime Self-Defense Forces, Japan’s navy.
    Partly, the speedy response was a result of chance: the Ronald Reagan and its battle group happened to be passing nearby en route to war games off South Korea. The carrier, with a crew of 4,500, can launch aircraft and also create drinking water, something needed in the disaster zones.
    The Americans said they wanted to stay until the Japanese were able to get regular supplies into the remote coastal towns that were slammed by the waves. Japan appeared to be making steady progress in building such overland links, they said.
    The American response to the nuclear crisis includes not only fire trucks, adding to efforts to spray water on the overheating fuel rods, but also United States reconnaissance aircraft, which have been helping the Japanese monitor radiation levels.

    Rebuilding Lives and American Ties to Japan

    (Page 2 of 2)
    On the Ronald Reagan, emissions from the crippled plant have been an acute concern for the Americans. The Navy fliers said they were trying to stay at least 50 miles away. When helicopters returned from relief, they and their crew were carefully scanned with Geiger counters.

    1 of 7
    The Destruction and Aftermath
    Photos of the unfolding disaster in Japan.
      The carrier itself has also pulled back to at least 100 miles away from the reactors. When the wind near the plant changed direction, the Ronald Reagan went into what sailors called “Circle William” mode — closing off all hatches and ventilation openings to prevent outside air from entering. Crew members said radiation was something the ship had not had to deal with in years.
      “We’re digging out the old cold war-era manuals on how to protect the ship from radiation,” said Commander Aguilar, the squadron chief.
      Commander Aguilar, 40, said the damage and death toll from Japan’s tsunami were far larger than another disaster in which he was involved in relief efforts: Hurricane Katrina.
      “This exceeds Katrina,” he said. “This looks like the arm of God just scraped the land clean.”
      He and other American helicopter crewmen said they were stunned by the randomness of the tsunami, witnessed by a large ferry boat placed perfectly atop a three-story building, or an entire house floating intact miles out at sea, with curtains still in the window. A debris field of splintered wooden pieces of Japanese homes and capsized boats of all sizes encircled the Ronald Reagan, about 15 miles offshore.
      Another surprise, the airmen say, was the lack of injured. The Reagan had considered offering its vast hangars as makeshift hospital space. However, few of the survivors who crowded into schools and other makeshift shelters needed emergency medical attention. The Americans said they evacuated only a small number of injured, including a Swedish national with appendicitis.
      “You were either in the way of the tsunami, or not,” said Lt. Chad Upright.
      At the crowded refugee center in Minamisanriku, where 250 survivors slept on the floor, Mr. Abe said the most urgent thing needed was medicine for colds, fever and allergies. But the American airmen said they could not hand out medicine without the permission of the Japanese government, which they did not have.
      Something similar happened after the deadly Kobe earthquake in 1995, when foreign medical supplies and even doctors were turned away at the border by Japanese bureaucrats.
      This time, the Americans promised to ask the Japanese for quick permission to hand out American-made medicine, and for help in translating the directions into Japanese.
      Much of what the Americans have handed out are goods taken from their own ships: extra food and blankets, and even the sailors’ own clothes.
      There were stuffed toys for children, too.
      To alleviate food shortages in the shelters, the Ronald Reagan sent 77,000 frozen hot dogs to a Japanese warship, which boiled them and gave them out.
      The American aviators also seemed touched by the Japanese reception. In the squadron briefing room on board the Reagan, someone had hung a drawing of two smiling frogs saying, “Thank you!” and “by Saki Owada (age 5).”
      Airmen in other squadrons also spoke at length about the Japanese warmth. Michael Adomeit, 34, a helicopter crew member from the destroyer McCampbell recalled one drop-off.
      “There was this line of grandmas came out to give us hugs and say thank you,” he said. “It makes you realize how important this mission is.”