if it wasn’t for the rocks, the water would have no music
Newport Beach, Orange County, California
Southern California is the Land of Crazy Colourful Dreams
I like California,
and I very much like my friend in California
When you are tired of California you are tired of Life.
Orange County in Southern California is one of my favourite places in the world ~ say right up there alongside Tuscany in Northern Italy. I’m visiting SoCal next week, but here are some pictures from my last trip there.
It’s very nice to be able to afford to go travelling.
I’m just about ready and prepared for my next long vacation, which starts on this coming Thursday.
Today I booked a car to collect me at the garret, for 06:00 on Thursday March 15th, as my flight leaves from Newcastle upon Tyne airport at 09:30. I then have layovers in London Heathrow, and San Jose International in Santa Clara County, before I eventually arrive at John Wayne airport in Orange County California at 20.32.
I’m renting a Toyota Rav4 at John Wayne, and then I have a shortish drive, so I expect to get to get to my accommodation sometime around 22:00.
If you add in the 8 hour time difference between England and California, that makes the journey exactly 24 hours. Why does air travel always take so long? Even if everything goes to plan?
Poor Marmaduke isn’t coming along on this trip ~ because when I looked at the layovers I decided I’d just take one carry-on bag.
Poor Marmaduke has been in tears since he found out.
I expect to be back in the garret on Wednesday April 18th ~ after another 24 hours of travelling.
I will be in touch while I’m away.
A stir fry is so easy anyone can cook a great meal in less than 30 minutes, (even my cool friend in Orange County can cook a stir fry). If you’re cooking just for yourself, or for just yourself and your partner, then a stir fry is an utterly brilliant idea. In general, a stir fry is quick, easy, healthy, full of flavour, and best of all it’s usually a 1 pan meal. If you are trying to eat better, lose weight, and feel fitter, then stir fry is for you.
Also, you will find that, even if you buy the very best organic ingredients, these are all inexpensive dishes to make. And, some of this stuff will make a great basis for a lunch at the office the following day. What’s not to like about all that?
From Andrea at Cooking With Wallflower we have this classic, easy 25 minute dish; broccoli mushrooms and chicken stir fry. You need oyster sauce for this dish, and I would add extra garlic. As I’m not eating grains these days, I’d serve this as-is and not bother with rice ~ but a little brown or wild rice would be cool.
Broccoli Mushroom and Chicken Stir Fry
When I make a stir fry I often add a sweet chili sauce, which I have to admit to buying in a bottle. But, also from Andrea we have an easy 5 minute recipe for a sweet and spicy chili and lime dipping sauce. Brilliant.
Sweet and Spicy Sweet Chili Lime Dipping Sauce
Another broccoli recipe, this time from Chungah at Damn Delicious; easy shrimp and broccoli stir fry This is a 20 minute dish, and if you make it according the recipe it should come in at less than 300 calories. This dish really needs sriracha hot sauce, but you could use fresh red chili, or even Andrea’s dipping sauce instead.
Easy Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry
This is another classic recipe from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes; ginger beef stir fry. Although this is a 25 minute cooking time dish, you will need to allow 30 minutes of marinating time, (or you could marinate it over night). I know my friend in Orange County will like this because it uses cilantro, hot chili, and loads of garlic. Beef with ginger is a magical combination.
Ginger Beef Stir Fry
I just had to include this celery stir fry, also from Elise. This would make a great starting point for any s meat or fish you’d like to add, or as a side dish instead of rice. (I seem to have given up wheat, rice, lentils, rye, barley…)
Celery Stir Fry
This looks fabulous from Heather Christo; chicken ginger tahini stir fry. What with bell peppers, peas, chicken, tahini, garlic, and ginger, this recipe is on my list to make for next week.
Chicken Ginger Tahini Stir Fry
For those among us who say they don’t like pork, this dish uses pork tenderloin, which is brilliant. So from How Sweet It Is we have 30 minute Vietnamese caramel pork stir fry. As well as the tenderloin this dish also has cabbage, garlic, ginger and cilantro.
30 Minute Vietnamese Caramel Pork Stir Fry
From Tieghan Gerard, that mistress of long names for recipes, we have quick honey ginger pineapple & summer veggie chicken stir fry with caramelised cashews. This dish may have the longest name, but it will only take you 30 minutes from start to finish. Nice.
Quick Honey Ginger Pineapple and Summer Veggie Chicken Stir Fry with Caramelised Cashews
Kung Pao Chicken Stir Fry
a very big thank you to all the fabulous cooks
featured in this week’s Food on Friday
There’s nothing quite as nice as a home-made soup. So, how about some soups for early autumn?
Here in my part of England there has been a sudden change in the weather. The bright sunshine has gone, to be replaced by cold, grey, damp mists. A warming soup is the perfect thing to come home to after a long walk in the early autumn.
Also, soup is great to make for dinner, and then taking to work for lunch the following day. A good tip, when you cook, always make enough so there are some leftovers for another meal. Who can find the time to cook every single meal from scratch?!?
First this week, from Simply Recipes we have a dish by Sally Vargas ~ creamy tomato and white bean soup. I know my friend in Orange County will like this because the recipe calls for a lot of garlic. I think I’d be tempted to cheat on this dish and use canned chopped tomato ~ if I couldn’t find the time to go and buy fresh wholesome produce.
Creamy Tomato and White Bean Soup
This is a cracking dish from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest ~ crockpot French onion soup with cheesy French toast. And this post from Tieghan is a video. You know what, a couple of bowls of this would make a lovely dinner for a cooler evening.
Crockpot French Onion Soup with Cheesy French Toast
I can’t say that I’m a big fan of pumpkins, but I like the look of this creamy pumpkin and cumin soup from English girl Petra at Food Eat Love. And, I’ve just been reading some stuff that says cumin, especially black cumin, is incredibly good for you. So, I’m going to try this dish with black cumin…
Creamy Pumpkin and Cumin Soup
Now from Ros at Cooking Up The Pantry we have a great looking, and different, cream of carrot soup with fresh garlic and thyme. What’s not to like?
Cream of Carrot Soup with Fresh Garlic and Thyme
Chungah at Damn Delicious gives us this tasty, healthy, and unbelievably easy 30 minute recipe for Thai shrimp soup. This looks bloody brilliant!
Easy Thai Shrimp Soup
This is just a fabulous recipe from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet It Is ~ late summer corn tortilla soup. And I know my friend in Orange County will be impressed with this, because it’s garnished with sliced radishes ~ and there’s no cheese!
Late Summer Corn Tortilla Soup
Finally for this week from Heather Christo we have this great collection of 25 soups to soothe. How cool is that?
25 Soups To Soothe You
A big thank you to the fabulous cooks featured
in this week’s Food on Friday
I hope ‘the girl riding shotgun’ appreciates
these recipes I’ve found.
Cool and sexy chicken dishes.
For this week’s collection of recipes I wanted to find some different, cool, and sexy ways one can cook chicken. I have to confess that I found more interesting stuff than I bargained for. Let me tell you, there are some very cool recipes here, and all of them are easy.
The first offering this week is from the lovely Averie Sunshine, (aka Averie Cooks), who gives us her loaded chicken enchilada zucchini boats. I have to confess that zucchini isn’t something we see a lot of here in England, but I guess my friend in Southern California might be able to get zucchini…
Loaded Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats
Another dish with zucchini, (just wha is zucchini anyhow?), this time from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet It Is. Jessica has these zucchini noodles with mini chicken feta and spinach meatballs. This looks like a really cool meal.
Zucchini Noodles With Mini Chicken Feta And Spinach Meatballs
And now for something we do get on an English menu. This time from Chungah Rhee, (at Damn Delicious), who has a recipe for chicken pesto kabobs, (except we don’t call them kabobs). This is a damn easy and damn delicious little recipe…
Chicken Pesto Kabobs
A second dish from Chungah Rhee at Damn delicious are these chicken and avocado ranch burritos. So very easy, and so nice to take to work for your lunch…
Chicken And Avocado Ranch Burritos
Here’s something else I think my friend from Orange County will certainly like. Half Baked Harvest, has this delicious looking mediterranean chicken and farro salad. Tieghan Gerard calls this a Big Ass Salad… ha ha ha.
Mediterranean Chicken and Farro Salad
Here’s another dish I believe my friend from Orange County will enjoy. From Petra at Food Eat Love, I give you dini’s divine chicken teriyaki sushi burger.
Dini’s Divine Chicken Teriyaki Sushi Burger
Now, from Elise at Simply Recipes, we have this really interesting broccoli, chicken and almond saute. I like the sound of these ingredients and I simply have to try this dish.
Broccoli, Chicken, And Almond Saute
Finally for this week, from Orange County in sunny California, the White On Rice Couple, (aka Todd & Diane), have a great recipe. This dish is so fast, so easy, and so cool, and these thai larb chicken lettuce cups also look fabulous.
Thai Larb Chicken Lettuce Cups
A very big thank you to all the cooks featured this week.
Some say a good road trip is a great way to spend your vacation, or a great way to spend any time you have with your girl, or any time you don’t have to do something else for that matter.
My very first long-distance road trip was from my place in the North of England to a little villa on a vineyard in Tuscany. At it’s very best that’s 24 solid hours driving, assuming no delays, and that you don’t go out of your way sightseeing and driving mountain roads just for the sake of it. All told it’s a drive of around 1,350 miles, each way. Perhaps I was being optimistic to think my Triumph TR6 would make it there and back without breaking down, at least once. (I was younger and better-looking then.)
In my opinion, there are seven essentials for a successful road trip:
- A cool car.
- Enough money.
- The right girl.
- A great driving road.
- Good weather.
- A relaxed attitude to deadlines and commitments.
- Time. Lots and lots of time.
Not necessarily in order of importance ~ however, if you don’t have all seven then your road trip adventure isn’t going to be all you hoped it would be.
If you are using your own car, then you also need to take along a decent tool kit, some spares, and the knowledge to use both.
It is vitally important that the girl riding shotgun is someone who you really like hanging out with, because you are going to be spending a lot of time cooped-up together. That has been my mistake on more than one occasion, because taking a long road trip with the wrong girl can give new meaning to the concept that there are sixty minutes in every hour, and twenty-four hours in every day.
(It helps if she knows how to take a great picture.)
There are three kinds of road trip;
- Where the destination is important. Usually the time is also important. You have to be in say; Tuscany by Tuesday…
- Where you have organised everything in advance, including booking your overnight accommodations.
- Where the destination is immaterial and time is of no pressing importance. Except perhaps, you have to go back to work in a couple of weeks or so.
Guess which type of road trip is the best? But then, you do what you want as long as you stay cool and relaxed.
As an example of organising everything in advance was a road trip I took down the Loire Valley. Because I wanted to stay in a different château each night, this all had to be booked and paid for before I set off. (If the girl riding shotgun is the least bit ‘precious’ don’t make her pack all her luggage in the back of a tiny 7 ~ or she will sulk.)
For my next road trip I want to follow as much as I can of the old Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, ending with dinner at The Lobster. Say 2,200 miles. For something shorter there’s the PCH which runs from Orange County in Southern California to Mendocino County in the North. About 600 miles. What the hell, I have the time and money to do both, preferably in a muscle car.
pictures by jack collier
and the girl riding shotgun
Southern California is one of ‘coolest’ places I know, some call it SoCal…
SoCal runs from Point Conception in the north to the Mexican Border in the south. A land area of about 56.5 million square miles, (which is six million square miles more than England). Geographically there is the coastal plain;
With a desert in-between.
For good reasons, hardly anyone lives in either the mountains or the desert.
Given that I’ve lived in England for most of my life, and I only know about half of that, I’m trying to get to know one small part of Southern California. Orange County CA covers a land area of about 800 square miles yet over three million people officially live there, (trust me, add in the number of illegal immigrants and the true population is probably nearer four million), and at times it feels like it.
The freeways are crowded all the time, yet what the Californians call the surface roads are usually quiet.
The architecture ranges from the quaint;
Best just to enjoy the strange fun of being in one of the coolest places on the planet.
Palm Springs is cool, weird, and fun.
pictures by the girl riding shotgun
copyright jack collier
For an Englishman to take a road trip in California, he first has to get to California. This is not quite as simple as it may seem.
First, there was getting to Manchester airport, then the seven and a half hour flight to New York. This wasn’t so terrible ~ right up until I had to go though US immigration. I knew this was always bad, which is one reason I only took carry-on luggage with me ~ no frustrating wait at baggage reclaim, walk off the flight and directly to customs and immigration. Important tip; there are stores in the USA, only ever take carry-on luggage with you.
I had a two-hour layover before my connecting flight from New York to San Francisco, and going through US immigration and customs used up most of that. Of course I then had to go back through security before I could get into departures for the San Francisco flight. I was the very last person to board that aircraft ~ they closed the door right behind me, I had made the flight with five minutes to spare.
After Newark, San Francisco airport is nice. From San Francisco I had another flight to John Wayne airport in Orange County. That was the easy part, I even got to sit next to a cute girl on that leg of my journey.
Arrived in Orange county at around eight thirty pm. Walk right off the flight across the road to the car rentals in the parking garage. Maybe because I was tired I was talked into a car upgrade, and came away with a Dodge Challenger. Trust me, an Englishman shouldn’t ever drive a black Dodge Challenger.
Maybe because I was tired I got totally lost on the way from the airport to where I was staying that night. I spent quite a while driving up and down Orange County backroads. Eventually arrived at my destination around ten pm.
Total travelling time, door to door, including endless hours standing in line, 36 hours.
Air travel is all about standing in line.