One Car Experiment: Month 5 Update

A Family with One Car, In Los Angeles: It’s been surprisingly easy!

When my family embarked on the one car experiment, we agreed to give it a solid try of 3-months before we threw it out the window as impossible. We figured that would give us enough time to really see if it’s a feasible option for us.

Here is how we make it work for us:

  1. We schedule our car time:  I get it Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday and my husband gets it Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday.
  2. We schedule our appointments in advance: I schedule my appointments on the days I have the car and my husband carpools on the days he doesn’t have the car.
  3. Every Sunday we discuss our coming week’s schedule: this way we can juggle our car schedule if need be. This has only happened a handful of times in 5-months.
  4. My child and I use our bikes for transportation: on the days when we don’t get the car, we bike the 1.5-miles to school. It’s amazing how much more aware our little has become about street safety, and it’s been great for my waistline!
  5. We use car-sharing apps: if we absolutely need a car, we use a ride-share app. Most months we spend about $20 on ride share. February was our highest month with $50. We used this a lot during the rainy weather.
  6. We borrow a friend’s car: We have two really good friends who have agreed to “rent” us there card if we need one. So far we haven’t had to do this, but it’s another option.

Finally, the last 3-weeks we’ve had a round-robin of colds in our house. It was nice to not be paying for 2-cars when one of them would have literally sat in the garage the entire 3-weeks. We aren’t sure yet how much longer we’ll be a one-car family, however, I can tell you that we no longer feel as though we need 2-cars, and that’s been a huge mindshift.

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Eat Your Weeds: Dandelions

Eat Your Weeds

We’ve had a lot of rain in Southern California and that means lots of WEEDS. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, ““What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

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Yesterday I was “weeding” our garden and I was amazed at just how many dandelions we had. Since we don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in our garden I decided to make them into a salad. Dandelion greens are regularly sold in gourmet food stores and farmer’s market for about $6-a-bunch, but you can get them for free with just a little work on your part.

In the picture above I did my standard daily salad of greens, brazil nuts, goji berries, hemp seeds, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt, but I substituted my usual kale for dandelion leaves.

If you like bitter greens, such as radicchio or rocket, then you will love dandelions. If you are like me and you don’t care for bitter, then be sure to pick the young, soft dandelions that have a baby greens-like texture. They are not as bitter as older leaves.

However, one thing to remember is that bitterness in plants usually means that they have a detoxifying benefit. The entire dandelion plant is edible. Eat the leaves as you would any other green and dry the roots for a detoxing herbal infusion when added to hot water.

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Here is an article with other “weeds” that you can eat. I personally love purslane and I am looking forward to when they come into season closer to summer! Mallow is another one that is easy to find in SoCal. Enjoy!







The $1,000 Danish: A Recipe + A Tricep Workout

If you want to show someone you love them, make this!

I’ve added to my original blog post about this wonderful Martha Stewart Create TV Cinnamon Danish recipe so many times, that I felt the need to do a whole new post that is easier to follow with all of my modifications.

You can read the original post here.

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Worth the effort!

If you want to make some REALLY special for a Sunday brunch or an afternoon tea, then this is the dish you should make. I call it the $1,000 Danish because that’s how much you’d have to pay me to make it for you, it’s THAT much work.

However, one taste of this orangey-cinnamony goodness and you will know that it was worth all the effort. So if you have someone special you want to cook for, this is the recipe for you!

I’ve altered the original recipe according to my own tastes, and since I teach “intuitive cooking” workshops (aka cooking without recipes), I encourage you to make your own modifications too! Doughs are the one place where it pays to follow the recipe, because you need to get the “chemistry” right in order for it to rise. However, feel free to play with the filling as much as you want!

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***You might want to enlist a loved-one to help you with all of the rolling of pastry dough. I’m not kidding that this is a serious tricep workout. Sometimes I even get up a stool to get a little more leverage.****

For my own sanity, I break this recipe up into a 3-day process. Try and watch this video of Martha Stewart making the danish because it is a lot of steps and the visual will really help. I saw her make it on Create TV episode 302 of Martha Bakes if you are able to find the whole episode.

Day 1: Make the Danish Dough and Butter. Based on Martha Stewart’s Danish Dough but with twice as much cardamom. This takes about 30-minutes of hands-on time.

  • 2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (I’ve used instant yeast too, just know that it might not bubble when you put it in the warm milk)
  • 1 cup warm whole milk (110 degrees)
  • 4 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus about 1/4-cup more for dusting when you roll it out
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (if you don’t like cardamom try cloves, nutmeg or ginger instead)
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
  1. Stir yeast and warm milk until dissolved. Let sit until foamy, this will take at least 5-minutes. I always use NEW yeast when I made breads. If you use instant yeast it might not get foamy.

  2. In a stand mixer use your dough hook and combine the flour (MINUS the 2-tablespoons), sugar, salt, cardamom, and 4 tablespoons of the butter. Beat on low speed until it looks crumbly. Pour in the yeast-milk and mix until dough just comes together. Add the eggs and yolk; mix until just combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overmix.

  3. Put the dough onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, making sure to include any loose bits left at the bottom of the bowl. Gently knead to form a smooth ball. Wrap in parchment paper, put in a plastic bag, squeeze out all the air from the bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

  4. Paddle remaining butter with the 2 tablespoons flour. Spread flour and butter mixture into a 12-by-10-inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper that is on a cookie tray. Cover with another piece of parchment paper. Refrigerate 15 minutes or up to 1 day.

Day 2: Roll Out the Dough and Butter Three Times. This takes about 30-minutes of hands-on time each turn.

  1. I need to dust every 3-6 rolls.

    Take the dough and butter out of the refrigerator. Unwrap the dough keeping the parchment paper under it. Roll out the dough to an 18-by-10-inch rectangle, a little over a 1/4 inch thick, keeping the corners as square as possible. Ms. Stewart is AMAZING at this, I’m not nearly as neat, but it still tastes delicious. Don’t be alarmed if the butter comes oozing out on you, this always happens to me. Be sure to dust dough with flour a few times throughout the rolling. The butter will become incorporated in the subsequent turns.

  2. Place the butter on top of the dough about 1-1/2-inches from the right. Fold the unbuttered third on the left over and onto the butter, cover that with the remaining third on the right. It’s sort of like when you fold a business letter into thirds.

  3. Turn the log of dough 90-degrees so that it’s long-edge is parallel to the long-edge of your parchment paper. Roll out dough again to an 18-by-10-inch rectangle, then fold dough into thirds again, wrap in parchment paper and plastic bag and refrigerate for 1 hour. This is the first of three turns. Repeat rolling and folding two more times, refrigerating inside the plastic bag for at least 1 hour between turns.

  4. After 3-turns refrigerate dough, tightly wrapped in the plastic bag, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Ms. Stewart also says that the dough can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks; before using, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight, but I’ve never tried this.

    Day 3: Make the cinnamon-sugar filling, Assemble and Bake the Danish. This is about 60-minutes of hands-on time.

This mix tastes deliciously orange-y at this point!

Mix together the following ingredients for the cinnamon-sugar filling  (sometimes I do this the night before and refrigerate to make the process go faster the next day.)

FYI: I’ve changed this part of Ms. Stewart’s recipe a lot both in the ingredients and the procedure.

  1. Cut the dough in half and roll out each sheet on lightly floured parchment paper

    Look at all those yummy layers!

    until it’s about 1/8-1/4″ thick. Put one piece of dough onto a cookie sheet, then spread sugar out to within 1-inch of the borders and then cover with the second piece of dough and pinch the edges together until they well sealed. (I skip the egg wash that Ms. Stewart recommends for sealing because I find it makes the dough slippery. I also skip putting the dough back into the fridge, as I see no reason to do this unless it’s really

    Cut into an even number of single serving sections

    warm in your kitchen and the dough is sticking to the parchment paper.)

  2. You can follow Ms. Stewart’s instructions for how to make the Danish round if you like. I do it rectangular to maximize the dough. To make the twists, put a small rectangle in the middle, push it into the danish firmly and cut the danish at 12, 3, 6 and 9-o’clock and then divide those areas in half, and then half again. There were 20-pieces to twist when I was done cutting the rectangle above. Take adjacent pieces and twist the right piece two times to the right and the left piece twice to the left.

    Twist adjacent pieces twice AWAY from each other to look like this.

  3. Allow assembled danish to rise for 45-minutes at room temperature covered by a piece of parchment paper with a dish towel over it to weight it down.
  4. Put danish in oven preheated to 375-degrees and let cook for about 25-minutes or until golden brown. Turn halfway through if your oven bakes unevenly. Allow to cool before eating.

Ready to let sit for 45-minutes before baking

A few words of warning:

-There is a reason Danish dough was invented in a cold-weather climate. It does not like getting too warm. If you find it getting sticky and hard to work with, refrigerate it for an hour! I’ve never made this in summertime since I live in Southern California and it would probably be impossible.
– As you can see from my picture above, I’m not as neat a baker as Ms. Martha. Whereas on her Danish you can’t see any of the cinnamon, on mine it shows up as beautiful brown stripes. However, there is a downside. The orange juice leaks out and will slightly overcook the underside of the Danish as it caramelizes. If you overcook the danish there might be some slight bitterness, but mostly there is just a delicious caramelized crust at the bottom.