We spent a beautiful weekend in California. I can't believe we haven't been there since Thanksgiving. That was five months ago. It was so nice to see the sand and the sea again. Jack noticed right away how the air smelled differently out there. He was right. California air does smell better than Nevada air. It might be the ocean breeze. It might be our imaginations. It was a pleasure to get out of the desert for a while.
I took four teenagers with me on the five-hour drive from my door to my mom and Doug's door. Claud was able to fly in because he was returning from a business trip. It wasn't a bad drive. The kids were fun and good. I have driven this drive so many times that it's like second nature to me now. Once I get fairly close, I call my stepfather to check on the traffic report. There are three different routes I can take to get there. He looks up the satellite traffic report to tell me which way has the least traffic. When we talk about the different freeways, we sound just like "The Californians," which is a skit on Saturday Night Live.
Once we finally arrived at my mom's, she had dinner almost ready to go. She made us homemade pizzas. The dough was rolled out and the oven was on. She had sausage cooked. She sliced onions, peppers and tomatoes. The cheese was shredded. The sauce was cooked. All that was left to do was to place the proper toppings on each pizza. She was waiting to see what everyone wanted. I love homemade pizza. I opted for the "tons of vegetables" pizza. Some people had a "super meaty". Jack, of course, had "just cheese". We were all happy. This was a great idea to satisfy lots of different people. My mom also made us a delicious salad to go with it. She poured the adults glasses of wine. It was the perfect end to a long drive. Soon, we all crashed out from exhaustion.
Pasta Primavera, topped with feta cheese.
The next morning, we decided to visit the beach at Ventura Harbor. We love it there. The harbor has shops, museums, and restaurants. We checked out the museum and some of the gift shops. We ate sushi as an appetizer and Mexican food for lunch. I know, what a combination! It was delicious. After lunch, we heard live music playing in the distance. We headed straight over to the music. We danced at the park in the sunshine. We all had a blast. We couldn't leave without visiting the fish shop, which always has amazing local fish and crab. We bought local sea bass. I knew my mom was grilling that evening and thought this would be a nice contribution to the dinner.
On our way home, we stopped at one of the Oxnard fruit stands and picked up some garlic covered pistachios and fresh strawberries. You haven't experienced the best strawberries until you eat them fresh from the farm in Oxnard, California. They are heavenly and sweet and juicy. I had never before tried these garlic-covered pistachios. I opted for the garlic over the jalapeno or habanera flavors. I had a funny feeling the kids would eat them and they wouldn't if they were super spicy. They were so good. I almost ate the entire bag. I couldn't eat them all because the kids were fighting me for them. I was right.
My mom planned a dinner party for us Saturday night. She invited all of the usual suspects: family, friends, and neighbors. My mom made her famous potato salad. I make potato salad exactly how she does but for some reason hers tastes so much more delicious than mine. Claud even said so this time. She also made a fantastic fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and pineapple. She prepared veggie burgers, hamburgers, sweet corn and the sea bass for the grill. She even made macaroni and cheese casserole. It was quite a spread. I had such an amazing time catching up with so many of the people I love.
Time: 40 minutes
1 package angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 fresh tomatoes diced
2 cups kale, torn into 2 inch pieces
cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon dried chicken stock
1 tablespoon pesto
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
10 kalamata olives, sliced in half
cup crumbled or sliced feta cheese
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saut onion, garlic, and peppers for ten minutes. Add tomatoes and kale. Mix the chicken stock into the water. Pour into the sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add pesto and tomato paste. Allow this to simmer until the liquid cooks down to half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the olives. Place the pasta into the sauce and let it soak in all of the sauce for a few minutes. Place the pasta and sauce onto a plate. Top with feta cheese.
Sunday we traveled back to Las Vegas. We went by another strawberry stand on the way to get some for the drive. They are irresistible. They were a great snack for the kids. Once we were back home, I needed to whip up something quick and tasty for everyone for dinner. When I think super easy, I think pasta. Often times, I like to throw some pasta into the boiling water and heat up a jar of sauce. Other times, I make the sauce myself and use lots of vegetables to create pasta primavera. It really doesn't take that much longer. I diced onions, sliced peppers, tore up some kale. I used kalamata olives and topped it off with some feta cheese. It was the ideal way to end an amazing weekend.