L.A. Kitchen

I’m a huge supporter of  L.A. Kitchen (LAK), the nonprofit facility that recovers fresh fruit and vegetables to be used in a culinary arts job-training program for former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system.

If you’re in Los Angeles and want to get involved with a great organization, I highly recommend L.A. Kitchen. Check on volunteer opportunities and donation info here.


Read my L.A. Times piece here.

Chef Theresa Farthing (former culinary student) on the job at L.A. Kitchen.

Volunteers at L.A. Kitchen.

Rescued farm-fresh ingredients.

A sample of beautiful meals prepared for low-income seniors at L.A. Kitchen.

Chef Ryan Stewart, Executive Chef.

Graduation for L.A. Kitchen Culinary Training Program (Class 5). 4/14/16

With L.A. Kitchen Founder Robert Egger.

The L.A. Kitchen
230 W Ave 26
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Website (donate, volunteer, engage).

@TheLAKitchen on twitter, instagram and facebook


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My Brilliant Better Half

I am SO proud of my husband Peter Stougaard. Check out this interview (Maveriq Profile) titled, “The Creative Executive Turned App Innovator”.

In case you didn’t know, my “day job” is managing social media for PopBoardz, which was founded by my brilliant better half. It’s a fantastic software program for organizing projects and presentations. I use it mostly for travel (and restaurant) planning. Check out our PopBoardz video here.

PopBoardz website

PopBoardz for iphone/ipad in the App Store

PopBoardz for your Mac in the Mac App Store

@PeterStougaard on twitter

@PopBoardz on twitter and facebook


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A Girl & Her Dog(s)

For the past few months, I’ve been writing blog posts for *Petcurean (GREAT dog food) and thought it would be fun to share photos of dogs I’ve adopted in the past. If you’re thinking of buying a dog instead of adopting a rescue, please take a moment to read “8 Reasons To Adopt A Dog”.

My dogs are my children and I remember the exact moment that I KNEW this was ok for me. I was thirty (back in 1994) when I decided to stop feeling bad about not having a baby, because dogs fulfilled any need I had to mother. It was a warm afternoon and after I jogged around a park, I came across a young mother rocking a baby stroller with a leash attached to a puppy. I said hello, bent down and reached for the puppy. That’s right — I totally ignored the baby and went straight for the DOG.

Just to be clear, I love kids and I consider myself to be a terrific Auntie, but I knew then, as I do now, that I would absolutely be the best DOG MOM in the world. Adopting a rescue dog is a huge commitment of time and money, but it’s so worth it.

My husband Peter and I currently share our bed with Woody and Ziggy Stardust, two of the most adorable and NEEDY rescue dogs we’ve ever had. We recently lost Maxie, a Chihuahua mix that we adopted in 2007. And although we’re still mourning his death — having Woody and Zig in our lives make it so much easier.

More photos of my dogs (then and now):

Dukie. My sister Janet is holding Dukie. Our dad made the meatloaf birthday cake! Photo taken in Okinawa, Japan 1968. I lived there from 1964 to 1972.

Otto. That’s me on the ground in full kimono tickling our dachshund Otto. My mother was not happy about this, but I was! Check back soon for more stories from my childhood in Okinawa.

Warhol. Named after Andy Warhol. My first dog as a grown-up (1985), he was a gift from my first husband, who adopted him from a shelter in San Diego. I loved him so much I HAD HIM STUFFED. Yes, this fact officially made me “crazy aunt Jo” to my nephews and nieces. Yes, I still have him and NO, I would NOT go through the expense or trauma of taxidermy EVER again.

Sushi. She and Warhol were inseparable and loved running on the beach. Photo from late 80s, Pacific Beach (San Diego), California.

Spencer (right, pictured with Fu Ling)Spencer was named after my good friend, Spencer Wilson. After my grandfather died in 1992, Spencer became my surrogate grandpa.
Fu Ling:  Fu Ling aka Foo found ME near Fu Ling restaurant in Chinatown. He was starving, abused and walked into my arms while we were filming a movie in 1998. More on that later.

Martini: Martini aka Teenie aka Bella Bean. We also called her “The Mrs.” because she ran the house and slept with her (I mean my) husband Peter. She had so much energy and always kept the other dogs in line. Martini was adopted from Pet Orphans in ’99 and lived to be NINETEEN.

Harrison: Harrison aka Tiger… Officially “George HARRISON Ford”. Peter is a Beatles fan. I’m a Harrison Ford fan. We compromised. He was the first dog that bonded with Peter before me. It took almost a year of him biting me daily (he didn’t like women) until he grew to love me. I never gave up on him though, and he lived a long and happy life. Harrison was also adopted from Pet Orphans in 2002.

Maxie, my cuddle bunny
Maxie: We lost Maxwell aka Maxie in January. He was just the sweetest pup and I still have trouble sleeping without him. He was also adopted from Pet Orphans in 2007.

Woody: Yes, he has his own piano. If you’re on instagram, follow this character at #WoodyTheMuppet!

Sweet Ziggy Stardust
Ziggy Stardust: Ziggy aka Zig is the largest dog we’ve ever adopted so I call him “my little pony”. He may be big, but Woody is the boss for sure. I’ll be posting more about Woody and Ziggy in the future. They had a very difficult start in life, but it’s all so very good now.

“8 Reasons To Adopt A Dog” by Petcurean

Video: The Petcurean Story
Follow @Petcurean on twitter
Petcurean Website
If you live in the San Fernando Valley, you can purchase Petcurean at Maxwell Dog on Ventura Blvd.
Where else to buy Petcurean

If you’re on twitter, every morning I tweet photos of dogs needing homes using the Twitter hashtag, #AdoptDontShop.

* Full disclosure: I am being compensated for these Petcurean blog posts. Please note that I would NEVER promote or support a product I didn’t love or use. For example, you won’t see me writing about baby clothing or cat toys. Woof.


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Game Of Thrones Menu

My Game Of Thrones Dolls
Are you a fan of Game of Thrones (GOT)? Me TOO! I even keep my GOT doll collection nearby my desk. In case you’re not familiar with the show, here’s an “about page” for your reading pleasure. GOT season 6 premieres on HBO this Sunday, April 24th and I CANNOT WAIT to see what happened to Jon Snow!

Last year I cooked up a menu for season 5 premiere, using recipes from the Official Game Of Thrones Cookbook. I spent the afternoon cooking up recipes mentioned in George R. Martin‘s Song of Ice and Fire book series.

If you don’t feel like cooking up an entire menu, try my easy version of Sansa Stark‘s Lemon Cakes (photos below). I don’t make dessert often (I don’t like sweets, but my husband does) so I made it SUPER SIMPLE by starting with store-bought lemon cupcakes. I cut off the tops, added lemon slices and soaked them in the candied lemon sauce, which I did make from scratch. Photo & recipe link below.

PLEASE NOTE: The GOT Inn At The Crossroads website has been having website problems, but they are working on it. Hopefully, it will be up and running soon so you can check out their entire site of fun recipes. I’ve added alternate links to recipes for now.

Game Of Thrones In The Kitchen
Strawberry Lemonsweet (I added vodka). Alternate link for Strawberry Lemonsweet at People.com here.

Game Of Thrones In The Kitchen
Fingerfish (aka cornmeal-fried sardines). Alternate recipe for fried sardines at Nigerian Chef here

Game Of Thrones In The Kitchen
Sansa Salad with Edible Flowers. Alternate recipe for Sansa Salad at AGeeksSaga here.

Game Of Thrones In The Kitchen
Chicken Thighs (instead of duck) with Cherry & Lemon SauceAlternate recipe for Duck with Cherry & Lemon Sauce at SpareCake.com here

Game Of Thrones In The Kitchen
And of course Sansa Stark‘s favorite… Lemon Cakes! I made the candied lemon sauce via recipe, but used store-bought cupcakes as the base. Alternate recipe for the Lemon Cakes at Bon Appetit here.

If you’re looking for an easy LOW CARB dish for the premiere, check out my version of Inn At The Crossroads Dornish stuffed jalapenos here.

The Inn At The Crossroads (Official Game Of Thrones Food Blog) is full of recipe ideas and photos.

Official Game Of Thrones Cookbook

Game Of Thrones

Photo at top: My Game of Thrones doll collection in my office. Find them on Amazon or Funko Pop.


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Originally posted 6/11/15

lovely, little, perfect… le comptoir

He was the first to make me really care about vegetables. The first chef to slay me with beautifully roasted squash, a Blue Hubbard beauty back in 2010. But still, for this carnivorous, pork loving, meat me anywhere gal… it was a just a goddamn piece of SQUASH, and I absolutely loved it.

Don’t get me wrong, Chef Gary Menes does fabulous pork, beef and seafood too. But over the years, he taught me to embrace the just-picked bounty he moved to the center of the plate and I’m so grateful for that.

Peter and I have been Gary Menes fans since he cooked at Marché Restaurant in Sherman Oaks, just a few minutes away from us in Studio City. We first went in 2009, and it quickly became our go-to for date nights and family gatherings. This was years before the valley had the up-and-coming dining scene we have today. We were sad when the restaurant closed.

Menes soon opened a pop-up called Le Comptoir (“the counter” in French) and we were lucky enough to score several reservations at the Tiara Cafe downtown.

Le Comptoir is now located in the beautiful Hotel Normandie in Koreatown. The pulitzer-prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold named Le Comptoir one of his favorites. With only ten seats at the counter, and open just four night’s a week, reservations are difficult to get but so worth the effort.

Gold wrote (an excerpt):
… Le Comptoir’s $69 tasting menu is exactly what they’ve come to love — a half-dozen courses mostly based around vegetables from a Long Beach organic garden, artfully composed, extensively explained, served with appropriate wines. Many of the dishes can be supplemented with things like foie gras or an ultra-rich Japanese Wagyu rib-eye cap, but Menes’ gift is his ability to draw out the flavors of vegetables through precise low-temperature cooking. More at Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, L.A. Times.

My photos from dinner at La Comptoir with Peter.

Sugar snap pea veloute, slicked mushrooms, greek yogurt, fried bread crumbs.

Vegetable and fruit plate.

Japanese diver scallop, corn, pickled plum, chili, truffle sauce.

63 degree poached hen egg, beurre noisette, reggiano, lettuce.

Stone ground polenta, haricots verts, long beans, lima beans, warren pear, leeks, almonds.

Butternut squash from the garden, barley, roasted onion, pomegranate and pumpkin seed relish, jus d’onion.

Berkshire pork belly, sweet potato fondant, parsley and grape vinaigrette, umami jus.

Chefs selection of cheeses: Mount Tam, 10 year Hook’s Cheddar, Baylee Hazen blue. Dessert: Caramel pots de creme, caramel sauce, salted pecans, creme chatilly.

Le Comptoir
3606 W. 6th St., Los Angeles
(in the Hotel Normandie)

Seatings: 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

Follow Chef Gary Menes on:

Dining date: 11/19/15


Photo at top: Amuse of dinosaur kale chips and house aioli.

Jonathan Gold’s Review

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants (in 2015 Leo Comptoir came in at 35 out of 101)

More food photos.

Ziggy Stardust & Petcurean

Our handsome Ziggy Stardust (a white lab mix) is, at 85 pounds, the largest dog we’ve ever adopted. He’s so big I jokingly call him “My Little Pony”. Ziggy (aka Zig) may be the biggest boy in the house, but he’s also the absolute sweetest.

Over the years, Zig has suffered from constant itching and severe skin allergies. Our vet has prescribed ointments and meds (usually prednisone) and we also tried various, prescription dog foods. But it wasn’t until after we switched to Petcurean kibbles (made with no by-products or artificial preservatives) that we saw a real change. Imagine that, feeding him kibbles with FEWER ingredients was the turning point.

Teaming up with Petcurean has been an educational experience for me. Not only has Zig been itching less, but his adopted brother Woody has never looked better. A healthier diet does indeed result in a beautiful and shiny coat.

Zig and Woody have both been eating Petcurean kibbles for a few months now. They started with “Now Fresh” which is made with 100% fresh turkey, salmon and duck (again, no preservatives or by-products). Zig’s skin continues to improve and we’ll be trying a more sensitive Petcurean recipe next. Here’s hoping he’ll be able to COMPLETELY quit meds and ointments in the near future.

If your dog is having allergy or skin issues, check out the Q&A I did with Petcurean’s nutrition expert, Dr. Jennifer Adolphe. There’s much insight into dietary causes, food sensitivities and dog-breed myths too.

Dr. Jennifer Adolphe Q&A:

Will you please explain the effects of by-products ( or added growth hormones, artificial preservatives, flavors or colors) found in mass-produced dog food?

High-quality ingredients are essential for a healthy dog food. It is important to select ingredients from trusted partners that are located as close as possible to the manufacturing facility to ensure freshness and reduce the environmental impact from transportation. All of the ingredients together in a complete and balanced diet must provide the nutrient requirements of the pet. Whole food ingredients, like fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables, provide the essential nutrients, antioxidants and plant-based nutrients to support optimal health.

Each ingredient in our recipes is carefully selected to play a specific nutritional function in the food. When choosing a food for your dog, reviewing the list of ingredients on the back of the bag is a good place to start. By law, pet food labels must list their ingredients in descending order by weight. Choosing exactly the right food for your dog can be challenging. Petcurean believes that a “one-for-all” philosophy does not work when it comes to feeding pets since they come in so many different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ages. A food that works great for one dog may not work as well for another. Our recipes do not contain wheat, corn, soy, by-products or artificial preservatives.

Is there any truth to the myth (several people have told me) that white-haired dogs have more skin issues?

It is possible that white-haired breeds are more susceptible to allergies, though any dog, at any age can develop dermatitis. White-haired dogs also may seem to be more prone to skin issues because their skin is more visible and less protected from the sun and environmental elements than the skin of dark-haired dogs.

With adverse food reactions seemingly on the rise among dogs and cats, many pet parents are looking for solutions. However, it is important to remember that food reactions often mimic other conditions, and that flea and environmental allergies are more common than food allergies. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from food allergies, discuss this with your vet and consider doing a food elimination-challenge trial, the “gold-standard” for diagnosing food sensitivities.

Is there a Petcurean dog food (besides the Now Fresh) that is best for dogs with skin issues?

For dogs with skin issues that may be related to an adverse food reaction, a limited ingredient diet may help. These diets provide a single source of meat protein with as few ingredients as possible to meet the nutritional requirements of pets. After introducing a limited ingredient diet, a noticeable improvement may be observed right away, though a pet should stay on the food for at least 8-12 weeks to ensure it is the right choice. Petcurean has recently introduced GO! SENSITIVITY + SHINE Limited Ingredient Diets in duck, salmon or venison for dogs, and duck for cats. These recipes are ideal for all pets, but particularly for those with food sensitivities.

Short (lovely) Petcurean video

Follow @Petcurean on twitter

Petcurean on Facebook


Again, full disclosure: I am being compensated for these blog posts. Please note that I would NEVER promote or support a product I didn’t love or use. For example you won’t see me writing about baby clothing or cat toys. Woof.

Fiery Jitlada Memories

Cover of L.A. Times Food Section (Full Page)I cannot believe it’s been over FIVE years since Betty Hallock wrote about my quest to eat every dish at Jitlada Thai Restaurant. If you haven’t been to the beloved Thai Town spot yet, it’s a MUST… especially if you like spicy (seriously, spicy) food!

Year after eating hundreds of Jitlada dishes (including the spiciest, painful “Dynamite Challenge”) I’m often asked if it’s STILL my favorite spot in town. Of course it is.

L.A. Times article here.

My snapshots from the L.A. Times print edition here.

My Jitlada photos on flickr.

Fun Halloween photo when I dressed up as Jitlada owner, Jazz.

Jitlada Thai Restaurant
5233 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-9809

Low Carb Bacon Grilled Cheese (1)

Bacon-Wrapped Cauliflower Bread Grilled Cheese
That’s right… LOW CARB grilled cheese wrapped in bacon.

Instead of bread I make the sandwich with “cauliflower bread”. It does takes a wee bit of effort to make, but it’s so worth it. I use this recipe (step-by-step photos) on The Iron You website.

After cooling the cauliflower bread, just add cheese then wrap the sandwich in bacon. Check out the short BuzzFeed video (and photos) here.

Making Cauliflower "Bread"
Cauliflower mix ready for oven.

Making Cauliflower
Cauliflower “bread” after about 20 minutes in the oven.

Bacon Wrapped Cauliflower Bread Grilled Cheese
Once it was wrapped in bacon and cooked, I didn’t miss real bread at all.

Cauliflower bread recipe

Bacon-wrapped grilled cheese video

If you’re on instagram, I tag all my low carb dishes with #LowCarbJo. Enjoy!


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Originally posted (6/10/15)