The father of American fitness, Jack Lalanne, passed away this week at the age of 96. It reminded me of the day I met Jack for an interview, about 15 years ago at his home in Morro Bay. I dug out this old slide of us sitting in his living room while I probed him with pointless questions like any green college journalist would. He covered by filling the time with stories about Hollywood’s old guard, or advice on how to stay as healthy as he did with exercise and healthy eating habits.
What a cool guy. I hope they have a big gym and lots of fresh vegetables wherever he’s gone. – Mr. Weekndr
Just a few miles away from here, at the foot of a canyon that cuts through the Los Padres National Forrest and into Pasadena, a cold mountain-water creek snakes through a wide scramble of river rocks. It’s a scene from nature in action, which is not often on display here in Los Angeles where miles of our rivers have been lined with concrete.
This place is called Eaton Canyon, and it’s conveniently located off a main street in the suburban LA community of Altadena. Go down the long drive way past the wooden park entrance sign and through the parking lot, and you find yourself steeped in nature at every turn. It’s easy to forget that the bustling urban landscape starts just on the other side of the tree line – until you hear a burst of police sirens or snarled traffic.
Pie is the new cupcake. And my co-workers pride themselves on staying ahead of the curve so it was announced that today we would celebrate National Pie Day at the office. Everyone was invited to make one and bring it in for a collective feast.
If you could say one good thing about the less-than-pure air here in Los Angeles, it would be praise for the colorful sunsets and sun rises that it produces. We heard somewhere along the way that the purple and reds and oranges are the signs of well-polluted air.
But it’s a fair price to pay for 78-degree sunny days in January while the East Coast is buried in ice and snow. We remember that well. Only the woodstove to be thankful for, and every year for five months to be expected.
Southern California had a few good weeks of rain earlier this month, but when followed up by weeks of warm sunny weather, it only encouraged a new bloom of citrus trees and flowers. The orange and tangerine trees in our neighborhood are bursting. What is the etiquette on picking your neighbor’s fruit trees anyway?
One train stop later, in downtown Los Angeles, while waiting at a bus stop near city hall on 1st Street, the view from a stray plastic lawn chair was of the Los Angeles Police Department. Its downtown digs are right up there on the list with the rest of modern architecture. Meanwhile, we recently read those cops are cutting the city’s graffiti budget by $150 million. At least they can enjoy their time in the office.
Checkerboard No. 003 goes out the door tomorrow after a heroic effort that lasted nearly nine months with continual starts and stops. It was worth the effort, though. And we suspect the proud new owner will appreciate the handmade effort.
The general cause of our delay can be blamed on tools. You can never have enough of them (unless you own this tool chest). We sure don’t. In fact, we’re missing all of them: A scroll saw to cut the veneer pieces straight and square and fast; and a vacuum press that can promise a good glue bond when laminating the deck.
To get this one done, it was painstakingly constructed by hand: hand planes, handheld knives, a hand-pump vacuum bag, and hand sanding and scraping. As a result, there are a few tool marks and less-than-straight lines, but that’s part of the handmadi-ness of it all. You won’t find another one like it.
Now, time to buy some new tools and get started on No. 004.
A chocolate cake that is super easy to make, and turns out moist and delicious every time? Yum! We can’t even take credit for inventing the Too Much Chocolate cake, it came from Allrecipes.com. But it has quickly become the go-to special occasion cake in this house, especially when paired with the Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese Frosting (also from Allrecipes.com).
In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased pan (two round pans will make for a nice layer cake ).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. If in doubt….underbake! I’ve had good luck taking it out even a few minutes before the center of the cake has sprung up and it’s delicious then – a little gooey and brownie-like, but still firm enough to frost. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate.
The Too Much Chocolate Cake was a big hit at a recent birthday party.
Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.
Anyone who likes chocolate will love this cake, and it couldn’t be easier to make. Enjoy!
– Only in LA, and only when you’re driving a CL 500.
– I think I just deleted some SPAM from this guy.
– He’s got a thing for sheep. Read like: “too sexy for you ewe.”
– What if it’s referring to the car and really it’s a butt ugly person inside?