Simply Italian: One-pan Orecciette with Chickpeas and Olives

getting started

getting started looks almost like soup

Here we go again….cooking with chickpeas.  Chickpeas (otherwise known as Garbanzo beans), like most legumes have long been valued for their fiber content. Do you know that people who consume garbanzo beans on a regular basis have better blood fat regulation including lower levels of LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides?

Orecciette pasta is much easier to find nowadays (I don’t remember how many stores I went through trying to find it years ago) – it has a tiny ear-shape look to it.  It really means just that:  from orecchio (ear) + etto (small).  There, now you can speak some Italian!

This recipe is from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and it is a very simple but tasty dish.  So very Italian!

Then it becomes more

Then it becomes more

Ingredients to Serve 4:

12 ounces Orecchiette

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup of Kalamata olives, pitted

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 6-inch sprig of Rosemary

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

¼ tsp. red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 ½ ounces), plus more for serving

2 cups baby arugula (about 2 ounces)

Combine pasta, chickpeas, olives, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, oil, pepper flakes, and 4 cups of water in a large straight-sided skillet.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and liquid is reduced to a sauce that coats pasta, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat, discard rosemary, and stir in arugula until just wilted and cheese to coat.  Add more water only if needed to thin out sauce, a few tablespoons at a time. Divide pasta among bowls and serve immediately, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and pepper flakes.


Finished Product.  I added Truffle Oil

buon appetito!








The ART of collecting ART – What Makes Good ART?

When it comes to art everyone seems to have an opinion. Of course everyone has different tastes and what someone loves, someone else might despise. But there is art…and then there is ART!

Elan Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver

Elan Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver

Have you ever wondered how experienced art world professionals separate out the best art from the rest?

I came across a website about the business of ART by Alan Bamberger, a San Francisco art consultant, advisor, and independent appraiser of all aspects of original works of art including art-related documents, and art reference books. He has been selling art since 1979 and has been consulting and appraising for artists, galleries, businesses, organizations and collectors since 1985.  He is the author of “The Art of Buying Art.”

Mr. Bamberger asked some Art World Pros for answers.  Here they are:

Brian Gross, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco: Art that is unique in conception and well executed.

DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Good visual art looks stunningly right and, in retrospect, obvious, or inevitable– yet it’s also continually surprising. It is a powerful paradox. How can someone have possibly made this? How in the world could it not have been made?

A magnificent piece by Joseph Kyle brings life to a downtown office.

A magnificent painting by Joseph Kyle hangs in a downtown office bringing light and life to an already beautiful space.

Cheryl Haines, Haines Gallery, San Francisco: Clear intention, unwavering dedication, patience, perseverance, self awareness and the drive to make for yourself and no one else.

Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold. Of course there’s magic dust involved, so this is not a sure way, but it’s a safe way to go about judging what is good art.

by Marc Séguin

by Marc Séguin

Catharine Clark, Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco: When it has its own internal logic. It took me a long time to get to this place, but that is the answer that I now give. I used to say that good art is like porn; you know it when you see it.

Mat Gleason, Coagula Art Journal, Los Angeles: The moment and the memory. It has to be something that engages you, on one of a million levels, in person, and establishes a memory that remains positive. This can be an artwork that challenges you and then makes you think about it days later or one that seduces you and delivers pleasant feelings days later. There are as many ways to produce this 1-2 effect as there are artists, but so much art that grabs you is glib and you forget it or is lousy and only recalled as something you sped past or upon which you only regret wasting your day.

Robert Shimshak, Collector, Berkeley, CA:

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall

Good art is timeless. It will assume a new relevance to each generation, and to yourself as you grow. It will connect to the past and feed the future. It has a simple and rigorous beauty that commands your gaze and thoughts whenever you look at it. The best work will break your heart. As a collector, you will know it when you see it. It’s personal. You will not have to be convinced by anyone to acquire it; it will be something you simply must have. It is like a good marriage that completes a feeling inside you, something that lasts forever and grows with time.

Marsea Goldberg, New Image Art, Los Angeles: Originality, representational of the time when it was created, passion, a frame of reference, freshness, intellectual content, and is uniquely identifiable as the work of that particular artist. The art should effortlessly have as many of these characteristics as possible– or none at all. It also has to have magic; if you try too hard, the magic could fly away. The artist needs to have a vision and it’s important that the work doesn’t go into a dead end. It’s helpful if the artist has the capacity to reinvent their creativity through various skills and mediums.

Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco: It is truly an unanswerable question without stating something that appears pretentious… the perception of what makes art “good ” revolves around the application of that difficult word, “taste” which I observe to be in considerably short supply in society today. People are not willing to take the time and effort to develop their own personal sensibilities through study or reflection but are prone to “go with the flow” from the “tastemakers” so as not to be seen as square and out of touch… so sad…

Jack Hanley, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York: I like something where the intensity of the experience of the person making it comes through. Maybe somebody is turned on by the nature of the materials, a psychological issue or some kind of narrative. Maybe some people have greater intensities of experience than others. What makes art good on a grander scale is how extraordinary and profound the components of those experiences are. Some artists are maybe better than others at tapping into their own idiosyncrasies and conveying them to others.

Justin Giarla, The Shooting Gallery, White Walls & 941 Geary, San Francisco: What makes good art is when you see a piece from across the room, you immediately fall in love with it without knowing anything about it and are in love with it forever.

Paul Kyle, Private Art Dealer, Elan Fine Art, Vancouver: A good work of art for me, is a piece that has the ability to awaken and remind me of my essence or the highest aspect of my being, if you will.  To successfully accomplish this, I as viewer, must be open to allowing the work to reveal itself to me without pre-judgement, what I call contempt prior to investigation. Also, a great work of art gets better the more it is viewed.  Often it is the work that has an immediate impact that is the one that wears thin over time, being the one with little real substance, as opposed to the one that takes time to reveal itself as the one with the greatest depth and meaning. There are certain elements however that the work must contain before the experience I seek is possible. Two elements that I look for in art are: Beauty and Elegance.  Beauty, not referring to “pretty” but beauty referring to directness and honesty.  Elegance is where there is nothing that can be added or taken away from the individual work.  This can only be accomplished by an artist with great technical competence and authentic original vision.

Alan Bamberger, itinerant artster, San Francisco: At its most fundamental level, good art is an effective combination of concept, vision and mastery of medium (the ability to get the point across). Good art is also uncompromisingly honest, unselfconscious, bold, ambitious, enlightening, original, challenging, and a feast for the senses. It doesn’t necessarily have to have all of these qualities, but at the very least it has to keep you coming back for more… and never ever bore.

art1An easy-to-understand book on how to buy, sell, evaluate, appraise, and collect art. Soft cover; 284 pages. By Alan S. Bamberger, noted art expert, author, and syndicated columnist. Available at



Health MATTERS: good Intentions

Intention is Everything!  Oprah Winfrey quoted Martin Luther King “If you can see it and believe it, it is a lot easier to achieve it.”  It’s about Visualization.  I find this fascinating and believe it to be true.win1

Actor Jim Carrey parked his car on Mulholland Drive every night before anybody knew about him, with the visualization of becoming the Hollywood star that he inevitably became. He even wrote himself a ten million dollar check for a movie deal, and dated it five years from that very day. Can you guess what eventually happened? Not long before that date came along, he secured ten million dollars to star in the movie Dumb and Dumber.  That Jim is no dummy!

Being that Jim Carrey is one of the funniest comedians in history I thought it would be pretty cool to meet him, and luckily I had the pleasure of doing so not just once, but on several occasions through a mutual friend.  I found him to be extremely intelligent, captivating and humble all at once.  And I never thought it unusual to be in his presence because I visualized being there as normal.

The power of visualization has been instrumental in turning dreams into reality for not only folks like Jim,  but elite and successful people in every field: professional athletes, business CEO’s, speakers, singers, and performers…YOU?

Please take time to watch this inspiring 11 minute video of actor Jim Carrey sharing his life changing realization.  Take from it what you will but whatever your beliefs, I hope you agree that having good intent and positive visualization makes for healthier living. Have a great weekend.


Credit: (a website about cultivating joy and meaning through meditation in a western society lifestyle.)


Re-Fresh Friday

20140711_141358samsung6Pack Light!

suitcase1It’s vacation time for many of you right now.  You’re getting
ready to pack up.
Have a look at how travel bags have changed.  If you happen to have any of the old ones still lying around or taking up space in your storage locker here are some great uses for them for anything other than traveling.  They might even make you want to pick one up from a thrift shop, especially if you have cats.samsung5









Coffee Table, Plant Stand, Bed








Bye, bye old friends….you were wonderful and trustworthy although heavy & cumbersome at the same time.  You won’t be missed!


As far as old cameras go…..stacked high up on a shelf is best.  Sorry; I sadly can’t think of any other use for them.  I now use my Samsung Galaxy for capturing images & Instagramming them (my latest passion) right away.  Gone are the days of taking my film into a shop, waiting for the processing to be done (remember when they had the 1 day option for a little higher price?) and then paying for them whether they turned out or not.


Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4


beauty biz – BUXOM beauty

It’s not unusual for me to walk into Sephora and see products that have my name written all over it…meaning that I recognize something that I think would be perfect for me.  20140623_164944But this time I really did see something with my name written on it which of course garnered my attention.  On closer observation I realized it was also my colour and the caricature of the person on the packaging looked just like me was wearing something I like and also sell.  Co-incidence? I think not!

What it is:
Besides a good marketing tool, it’s a bestselling sheer, shimmering lip gloss with a tingling, plumping effect.

What it does:
A sheer, high-shine lip polish. It creates the look of fuller, more voluptuous lips with a refreshing tingling sensation and gentle plumping effect. Vitamins A and E help keep lips soft and protected.

What else you need to know:
Dolly is a cult favorite, but if you love pinks, go with Katie and Sugar. For a plum obsession, go with Brandi or Gabby. Orange-lovers will gravitate toward Amber and Debbie. Add a splash of sparkle with Clair, Starr, and April.  Leave it to them to choose names like Sugar, Brandi & Starr….I’m sure porn stars wear lipgloss too

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

For kisses that’ll have them coming back for more.

20140623_164907Available exclusively at Sephora – 100 shades that just might have your name on it.

Are you a LISA?

Are you a LISA?



style – summer inspiration

summer1is where the girls go barefoot and their hearts are just as free as their toeshowcoolisthisFeminine, flattering, and a far more conservative way to rock animal prints by the pool, this leopard one piece is the epitome of a necessary summer investment. For added va-va-voom appeal, don’t forget your red lipstick.

Taken from the ZOE Report – GLAM ways to wear animal prints during the day.

GRILL TALK – simply satisfying SKEWERS

Party on a STICK!kebab1 If you can slide it on a skewer, you can GRILL it.  These simple KEBAB combos make them foolproof.  Just match a marinade or glaze to meat and/or veggies and your barbeque just got a lot more flavourful.

kebab2Kebab Confidential: they can be tricky since different meats and veggies cook at different times. The key is to make single ingredient skewers.  If combining ingredients (which I like because they look prettier) choose those with similar cooking times. It makes sense that peppers will take a bit longer than cherry tomatoes, etc.

Marinate chicken, beef, lamb, or pork 8 to 24 hours for best results.  Before marinating the meat, reserve some marinade to brush over the kebabs while they cook.  Discard any remaining marinade.  For fish: 20 to 40 minutes is enough, since doing so for any longer could “cook” the fish kind of like a ceviche.  Marinating shrimp can make them tough.

you can try tofu too

try chunks of tofu.

try pieces of corn-on-the-cob

try cut up corn-on-the-cob.

Adding vegetables – skewer them all in the same direction so that they cook evenly. Brush marinade or glaze on while cooking: don’t marinate them.

All grilled: heirloom tomatoes (feta was grilled on tinfoil) on crusty french bread.

All grilled: heirloom tomatoes (feta was grilled on tinfoil) on crusty french bread.  Delish!

20140707_191933Bread – I’m talking about hearty, crusty bread (not sandwich style) …it toasts beautifully on the Barbie.  As with veggies, brush marinade/glaze on while grilling.  You can add cubes to your skewers too.

A few good Marinades:

In a liquid measuring cup, combine ingredients.  Reserve ¼ cup and pour remaining marinade into a zip-lock bag.  Add 1 ½ pounds of meat (for 4 people) and toss to coat.  Refrigerate.  Use reserve to brush over meat and vegetables while grilling.

Buttermilk-Dill: great for chicken or lamb.  Combine ¾ cup buttermilk, 3 garlic cloves (crushed with a press), ¼ cup chopped fresh dill, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.

Balsamic-Rosemary: great for beef, lamb or chicken.  Combine ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. pepper.

Lemon-Oregano: great for chicken or fish.  Combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper.

Orange-Coriander: great for pork, beef or chicken.  Combine 1 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest plus ½ cup juice, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp. toasted coriander seed, coarsely crushed: I Tbsp. toasted fennel seed, coarsely crushed:  1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.

Quick & Easy BBQ GLAZE:

In a small bowl combine all ingredients.  Liberally brush on meat and veggies throughout grilling.

Combine ½ cup ketchup, 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp. each brown sugar & Worcestershire sauce. 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper.  Add a dash of hot sauce & garlic if you like.

I almost forgot – prevent your wooden sticks from catching fire or burning by soaking them in water for half an hour before grilling.



ART/Culture/Life – by ART alone…

ART is part of our culture and can improve our LIFE

By art alone we are able to get outside ourselves, to know what another sees of this universe which for him is not ours, the landscapes of which would remain as unknown to us as those of the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world, our own, we see it multiplied and as many original artists as there are, so many worlds are at our disposal, differing more widely from each other than those which roll round the infinite and which, whether their name be Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us their unique rays many centuries after the hearth from which they emanate is extinguished. (Proust)

Lucian Freud - interior with plant reflection - listening self-portrait 1968

Lucian Freud – interior with plant reflection – listening self-portrait 1968

What do I ask of a painting? I ask it to astonish, disturb, seduce, convince.” – Lucian Freud

Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin

When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection.

What I say is that we’re capable of a transcendent response, and I think it makes us happy. And I do think beauty produces a transcendent response.”  - Agnes Martin

Albert York

Albert York

“The modern world just passes me by. I don’t notice it. I missed the train.”

“I think we live in a paradise. This is the Garden of Eden, really it is. It might be the only paradise we ever know, and it’s just so beautiful, with the trees and everything here, and you feel you want to paint it. Put it into a design. That’s all I can say.” – Albert York

Joan Miró - 1927

Joan Miró – 1927

 “I feel the need of attaining the maximum intensity with the minimum of means. It is this which has led me to give my painting a character of even greater bareness.”

What I am looking for… is an immobile movement, something which would be the equivalent of what is called the eloquence of silence, or what St. John of the Cross, I think it was, described with the term ‘mute music.’” - Joan Miró

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time” ~Thomas Merton