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Perched on a swivel chair in front of the wide mouth of my computer screen, I am scrambling though the drawers inside my head and looking for a scrap of substance I can dress in words. I can’t find a single joke lying around. And all those silly anecdotes, usually scattered all over the carpet – and driving me crazy every time I stumble upon one! – must have been put away in bins to the attic.

I’m not laughing today. I’m not feeling blue either. My mood is of the contemplative sort, with an emphasis on GRATITUDE. Gratitude for the family Jason and Cosmo have afforded me. Gratitude for the home we’ve been building together by marrying our books onto common shelves, dressing windows in drapes, and planting a huge brown tree on our blue wall. Gratitude for his endless generosity in every sense of the word and for his tireless efforts to make me happy. HAPPY I am – 365 days a year minus 12 days for each month’s PMS attack. And even on those days all it takes is a gentle press of his warm lips against mine to shoo away the anxiety. I am instantly showered in the most comforting feeling, and I know then that I am safe.

Yes, I’ve come home. I’ve found my place on Earth, and with this realization comes an urgent need to share our hearth with friends, neighbors and their mothers – all the good souls that luckily have crossed our paths and thus became FAMILY.

Nevertheless, bringing people together in LA poses its challenges with all those full agendas and conflicting engagements. I have cracked the code though, and no force will stop me now. My weapon against that infamous ditching is a Homemade Meal, spelled with Capital Letters to highlight its meaning. We’re all Pavlov’s dogs when it comes to food. The minute I start rambling pots and pans over the stove, and the first steamy fragrance of hearty soup escapes onto the streets through the crack under the door, a line of food enthusiasts assembles at the threshold of our kitchen.  Lucky for me, these are all faces that I recognize.  It’s a note of considerable importance when you realize we live in Hollywood.

Less then 24 hours ago 6 beautiful ladies took over our kitchen, and our house. We put together a meal, and gathered around the table to celebrate a moment of bonding. For a few hours there were no other plans, nor Universes. It was an exercise of being in the now, and learning about the person next to you beyond the habitual and superficial “catching up”. Straight from the oven and onto the table arrived Crepes with Spinach & Cheese, plus a platter of matching Spinakopitas. There was a bowl of steaming Chai Chicken, a recipe for which I will be delivering onto these pages soon. Next came a serving of fragrant and exotic Miso Soup. We had enough wine and champagne to wash it down, worry not. And to round it all off, we finished with the simplest, and yet delightful Fruit Desert, made with slices of nectarines, sprinkled with cane sugar, itsy-bitsy shavings of dark chocolate, and a few drops of vanilla extract, all chilled for an hour in a refrigerator.

For an appetizer, we assembled a platter of Cucumber Discs garnished with Hummus and Roasted Peppers. Stupendous! I really want you all to have a bite of it, hence here’s how it’s made(and if I did it, you can, too!):

–       1 14oz can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)

–       2 cloves of garlic (peeled and quartered)

–       juice of 1 lemon

–       1 tbsp of sesame seeds

–       1 tsp of cumin

–       good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

–       pinch of cayenne pepper (adjust according to your heat tolerance)

–       1 tbsp of fresh dill (roughly chopped)

–       1 tsp of fresh thyme (seriously, add as much as you like)

–       2-3 tbsp of sesame oil (unrefined & organic if available)

–       1 hothouse cucumber (unpeeled, or peeled in stripes)

Throw all ingredients aside from the oil into a food processor, and pulse a few times to break all elements down. Turn the machine ON once again and slowly start pouring the oil until well mixed into a coherent paste. Slice a hothouse cucumber diagonally, top with a spoonful of the hummus, and embellish with thin slices of roasted peppers.

Roasting peppers is less complicated than getting them from a store. Why waste gas and money driving around town when you can pop a few bell peppers into an oven, 375 to 400 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes tops, and you have your own roasted peppers?  Not to mention the aroma that will embrace your house like a warm blanket on a chilly evening.  To prevent the peppers from burning, and also for adding that extra shine, remember to sprinkle them with a drizzle of olive oil before shoving them into the oven. When done roasting, let the veggies cool, and then gently peel the skin off using your very best tools – your fingers. Store those fragrant beauties in a jar and enjoy inside a wrap, sandwich, or salad. It really is that simple, and satisfying on so many levels.

Salút to my friends and family…and …thanks!

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“What’s for dinner, baby?”

“Umm, I don’t know yet. Let’s see what we’ve got in the fridge…”

That’s usually how the whole creative process of cooking begins in our house. I dive into the refrigerator, then poke my head in the pantry, sniff around, scratch my forehead, wiggle my mouth back and forth, and then I hear the wheels turning – my mind is brewing a dinner menu.

Jason and moi

It’s a tough and rigorous journey that nevertheless takes my mind for a ride through different stages of bliss each and every time. The whole production is commenced in peace – chopping crunchy vegetables is a meditation. Just like that, I enter a zen state of mind while prepping all ingredients of my dish. Deciding on what spices to use suddenly stimulates my brain, and the excitement slowly begins to build as I marry all elements together. I let the time and heat work their magic. Then I scoop a teaspoon full of flavor to taste, let the flavors wrap around my tongue, and… euphoria. I reach the peak.

That’s why I cook.

At times it’s an exhausting exercise but always fully satisfying the same way you may find a good work out at the gym, or a Sunday morning love-making with your mate. Either one may be concluded with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a slice of a homemade blueberry curd cake. Is there a better way to start a day?

I should introduce myself. Well, it’s complicated. My name is long, and Polish, and a mouthful. Call me Agi, just like all my American peeps do.

Another character in the story you’ll be hearing about is Jason. He’s a white boy from Texas. He’s well mannered, funny, cute as a button, hot with his shirt off, with a BIG voice and a sharp mind. He’s my best friend, my lover, my mate. He supports whatever idea springs out of my head. He makes me giggle like a 6 year old, or laugh out loud and uncontrollably prompting our neighbors to slam shut their windows. He shares his world with me, teaches me new things each day, and gives inspiration for another meal I’ll build from scratch. He’s the love of my life and the adoptive father to our 3.5-year old pup, Cosmo.

Cosmo loves carrots

I’m dying to share with you the stories of my creations – the circumstances, the processes, the textures and colors, everything to the very last bite. Even though I’ve gone through a 6-week crash course in the traditional French culinary art, I tend to search for lighter fare. In my world there’s little or no cream, butter, or white flower. I choose whole wheat, whole grain, organic, free range, grass fed, locally grown ingredients, when available. I recycle. I use water with caution. I turn off the light behind me. I keep my car tires full and unplug chargers when not in use. I like it healthy and green style.

My promise to you is to keep this blog alive, bursting with flavors, colors, and endless recipes. I hope to keep you interested. I hope you’ll keep coming back for more. I hope to hear back from you.

Bon Appetit and Carpe Diem!

Agi

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