Red Balls Rock N Roll Pizza

Living in LA has its challenges, especially if you’re a working stiff like me.

The daily battle with the 405, the high cost of living and dubious air quality are all reasons to hate LA.

But here’s one reason to love it – Red Balls Rock N Roll Pizza.

As soon as I walked in there I knew I would love it – the ambiance alone is kick ass.  The bar and tables look like road gear that’s been emblillsed with various rock n roll parapanila like vinyl records and guitar picks.  Or maybe it’s because I have my very own chair at the bar (um – can we get the spelling corrected? – Thanks!)
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If the grunge rock decor is not your thing – then the food will win you over.  I have my favorite pizza places.  #1)  The Rainbow 2) Fab’s in Sherman Oaks  #3) Barones in Van Nuys and now… now there’s a 4rth.  Red Balls Rock n Roll pizza is WONDERFUL. Thin crisply crust, just the right amount of cheese and sauce.  The Mama Leahs Bronx White Pie was to die for.  I’m a fan.

If you’ve googled Red Balls and you ended up here – it’s probably because you’ve heard “the” rumors.   Yes – the Foo Fighters warmed up here before they went out on a quick tour.  Yes – Taylor Hawkins held the record release of Birds of Satan.  And yes – pretty much everyone in the Foo showed up.

I felt bad for Dave.  He obviously was there to enjoy the show and great music (he was rockin out in the crowd like the rest of his)  He was mobbed by endless stream of people taking selfies with the him in the background.  (He handled this all with a lot of class)

I plan on going back to Red Balls soon.  The place is just too awesome.

Jacaranda Season

It’s mid April and already the purple blooms of the Jacaranda tree are starting to burst.  Jacarandas are the reason May is my favorite month of the year.  The intense violet shaded flowers that crown the azure blue skyline of Los Angeles never fail to make my heart sing.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in Alaska where the tree selection fell into the birch or evergreen varieties.  Or maybe it’s just because I love brilliantly colored flowers.    But the Jacaranda is hands down my favorite tree.  You’ll find numerous streets in Los Angeles lined with the tall, arching canopies of the Jacaranda, so clearly I’m not the only one.

 

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8 lbs of Powdered Sugar

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Yep – it took 8 lbs of sugar to make 25 Giant Santa Claus Cookies – that and a new(ish) oven.

With the oven possessed, I looked to see if there was anything on cheap Craigslist.  My oven just isn’t worth fixing.  For the near the same amount it might be better just to find a used oven.  Sorting by lowest to highest – I found two ovens listed in my $150 price range – one was a white Bosch oven with no picture.  I didn’t even know Bosch made ovens?

The lady had redone her kitchen and loved her Bosch range but went with all stainless steel.  (I know I’m going to offend EVERYONE here but I hate stainless steel appliances unless they’re used in a modern industrial look)  She texted me pictures and told me it was gas and convection.   She took my offer of $120.00, assured that it went to a good home.

Dr. Malibu came over to test it out.  We put the oven in the self-cleaning mode, lit up the burners and made dinner.  Sautéed breaded chicken, risotto and cauliflower were cooked to perfection.

This delayed my plans of baking.  So Saturday morning with Thing 2 at my side we made another batch of gingerbread and started piping, flooding and flocking.  My kitchen and dining room looked like a bakery exploded.
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The pressure was on this year.  I had to step up my game because last year Kendra pulled out the Salted Carmel Shortbread cookies.  I went with a giant Santa Claus face.   Thing 2 and I were dubious about the design. We’d seen enough pictures on the internet to know this had the potential of a Pinterest Fail.  But those Santa heads turned out great and I was flattered that a few people at the Cookie Exchange were taking pictures with them.   I was especially happy to have the time to spend with my friends who I sometimes only see once a year at this party.  I know I’m not the only mom who feel’s like Cinderella, when every weekend is hijacked by your kids social/school/sport calendar.  This is a mom only party where we can all relax, catch up with each other’s lives and take a moment to breathe!  Oh, and the cookies!  The cookies are just an excuse but there is something so lovely and magical about a table bedecked with a large assortment of delicious baked goods.  It means its Christmas!

Smells like Burnt Gingerbread

Thing 1 and 2 were with their dad for the next two days, Maui and I were alone, so I was able to begin baking gingerbread for the 6th Annual Cookie Exchange, (using, of course, the Dexter Morgan Method of baking cookies.)

In an undertaking of this scale  (3 large batches) it helps to have multiple baking pans, plenty of silpats, gobs of plastic wrap and copious space available in the apartment sized refrigerator.

Making and preparing the dough is one thing.  Baking is another.

My oven SUCKS.  I think it’s from the 1970’s (gauging from the vintage décor in my kitchen)

The broiler doesn’t like to open.  Its inconveniently positioned all the way at the bottom near the floor and it requires a feat of strength to open or close it.

I’m pretty sure the burners are trying to kill me – especially the front right one.  It plays coy when you go to light it, click, click, click, click, then FOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!    Right when you’ve leaned in closer to see what’s the matter.  Fucker – I see your smirk.

It’s temperamental and cooks uneven – the right side being hotter than the middle or left side.  Everything  needs to be centered slightly to the left.  And it’s really difficult to set the temperature.  I use two temperature gauges in the oven and when the average of the two readings is the temperature I want – I cross my fingers and bake.

I was able to get through half of the baking last night and tried to squeeze in a couple racks of cookies this morning.  I set the oven to warm up and made my morning latte.  When the temperature was right on 350, I popped in the trays, set the timer and walked away.  10 minutes later, the smell of burnt cookies reached me in my bedroom.  Opening the door, I discovered that the left side of the cookies were burnt and the temperature had shot up to 500 degrees!  Yet the knob on the oven was still set at 350!  Arrrggghhh!  With still another batch and a half left to bake, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I think I need to start cruising Craigslist for a new oven.

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