Los Angeles, California: Day Five could have been traumatic for me, as my co-pilot flew back to Portland this morning. Dave has meetings to attend, so I was left with both charges today until Lisa and Lenny returned about dinner time. But it wasn't traumatic at all. Lisa had everything planned in advance.
It was a sad departure this morning when Bubba left. I took Leo to school, while Lisa had arranged for their sitter to stay here with Lucy. I stayed with Leo at the school playground until it was time for him to go to class. (And by class, I mean pre-school.)
I returned to the house and the sitter remained for a few hours to entertain Lucy while I did a bit of cooking for the returning parents - manicotti, stuffed with roasted butternut squash, onion, garlic, ginger and sage - with a béchamel sauce and topped with a little mozzarella, and fried sage leaves as a garnish... except the béchamel was made with unsweetened almond milk (I used the béchamel recipe from this site, but used olive oil) and the mozzarella was made with cashews. What? Yes, I was surprising them (and myself) with a vegan meal.
The rain falling in Los Angeles over the past few days made me crave a fall-inspired meal, and what says fall like butternut squash? No, Lenny and Lisa are not vegan, but are always trying to eat healthy (and they live in Los Angeles hipster land) and it was a good chance for me to experiment.
The bag of shredded mozzarella from Parmela (made in Los Angeles) was nearly exactly like any zip-topped bagged/shredded mozzarella you would buy from any major American dairy cheese producer. It did not melt 100% (I'd say 90%), but the "cheese makers" go to the trouble to actually culture the cashew milk last time I looked cashews did not have breasts so the "cheese" does melt pretty-much like mozzarella. Ingredients are cashews, coconut oil, modified food starch, potato starch, salt, natural flavor and cultures. Eaten straight from the bag, you would swear it was mozzarella. One ounce has 82 calories and 7g of fat. I was impressed with the product and it is dairy free, cholesterol free, gluten free, vegan, lactose free, GMO free and soy free. (Strangely, not Kosher certified, but I bet that is coming.) It was free of a lot of things, but not free. The 7 ounce bag was $8.Manicotti, baked in a quiche pan. Don't judge.
The manicotti was good! Not really that pretty - though the fried sage leaves helped as a garnish. Would have been a whole lot better made with butter and cream, but that was not the point tonight.
The point tonight was to welcome the parents home from their second honeymoon trip with a nice meal and a clean house. I delivered two fed and bathed children (Lucy already asleep) and a semi-clean house. Leo waited up (in his jammies) to greet his parents. They brought him a sombrero from their Mexican vacation. What else would you bring the King of Costumes? Lisa and Lenny look relaxed. Tanned. Rested. And so happy to be home with their children.
Being able to care for the grandkids while their parents stole-away for a few days was a joy. The time Dave and I spent with Leo and Lucy this week was priceless though Dave said our PDX parking tab was $111.
Lenny shared a beautiful photo of Lisa this evening. The smile on her face made me so pleased. This is one happy, beautiful and relaxed lady. Dave and I are blessed she is our daughter.Until my next update, I remain, your smiling correspondent.