Sunday, February 14, 2010

Awards, Pizza and Belated Valentines

This weekend was a head spinner. Saturday morning, Ella and I got mani/pedis. This might sound a bit indulgent but I had a big event to attend and it seemed like a good chance to sneak in a little special Mommy & Daughter time. After doing glam time in the chair, we picked up some sandwiches (or salad, in Ella's case) and met the boys at the park. The kids played like crazy monkeys until it was time for Milo's nap. Ella and I then took off to see a play for children; a version of the "Princess & the Frog". We had a lot of fun. And then we zipped back home so I could get ready for my event... the Art Director's Guild Awards!

This was the first time I have worked on a show that was nominated for such a prestigious award. We were up for Best Production Design in a Multi-Camera TV Series for Hell's Kitchen Season 6. It is a tough category because we also go head to head with sitcoms and variety shows. This year our stiffest competition was "How I Met Your Mother". They usually wipe the stage with my art director's tux. But surprise! We WON! It was the first award to be handed out for the evening and I truly expected to lose. But when they announced, "And the winner is... Hell's Kitchen!" I looked at my compadres and gasped! We headed up to the stage to collect our trophy. While I was standing up there all I could think about were the people I knew that were sitting in the audience... Mel Brooks, Warren Beatty, Gene Wilder and James ("I am taking the planet by storm!") Cameron! This little, behind the camera gal was petrified! But then I was consumed with pride as I walked a bit taller around the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. I have to say that it feels pretty darn good to be a part of an industry that is so special. And to be surrounded by so many talented people. It was one of the great high points of a career that has already brought me so much joy.

It was a late night, but one that I would GLADLY do over and over again!

We dragged our keisters out of bed (not easy) and I attempted to make a new recipe out of the Babycakes cookbook, with only marginal success. Thankfully the kids gobbled up the "Johnnycakes" which I think were supposed to be flat but ended up looking a lot more like a biscuits. The taste was there, but might take some technical work on my part should I ever attempt them again!

We also tried a new restaurant that I have been hearing a lot about called Pizza Fusion. All organic, with gluten-free pizza options. Ella was thrilled and the pizza really was delicious. Lately, I feel like we are eating more and more pizza than I ever have in my life. But with a few of these places adopting GF menus, combined with the fact that kids intrinsically love pizza make our visits a no-brainer. (See my review, below.) Overall, a fantastic meal. And we had enough left-overs for dinner. Which was perfect since no amount of coffee could help rescue me from my exhaustion haze.

With all of that craziness, I was unable to complete my desired task of the day... wheat-free and GF sugar cookies for Valentine's Day. Thankfully, tomorrow is President's Day and the kids will be looking for something fun to do. So the dough is chilling in the fridge and tomorrow we shall bake and decorate!

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy weekend. Happy Valentine's Day! Happy President's Day!

Restaurants We LOVE: Pizza Fusion

Another pizza joint? If they have a wheat/gluten free option... GLADLY! A dear friend told me that a new place was in the neighborhood and we had to check it out. We have our Valley place (Garlic Jim's), our Farmer's Market joint (Deano's) and now, happily one that is even closer to home in Hollywood... Pizza Fusion. This chain (YEAH!) features an all organic menu that includes a rice based pizza dough that is completely Gluten-Free. If you happen to be lactose intollerant, they have a lactose free cheese that they will happily throw onto your pizza. (Forgot that Lactain pill? No problme!) The pizzas are artisenal, in style, thin crusted little gems, that are made to order. They seem to have something for everyone. My Mom got the BBQ chicken with a whole grain crust. I ordered the "Greek" (let's be honest, I would probably eat cardboard if it was covered in Kalamata olives and feta) on traditional white crust. And Ella ordered her GF creation with crimini and portobello mushrooms. Each of us were quite happy with what we ate. Ella, in particular, was thrilled. There were several grunts and plenty of "YUMs!" as she worked her way across the plate. Naturally, I had to taste the crust which reminded me a lot of the one at Garlic Jim's, rice based. (Whereas the one at Deano's is corn based). It was perfectly crispy and did not collapse under the weight of the sauce, cheese and other toppings. It was a perfect lunch. Ella was offered her choice of an Honest Kids juice pouch, which is a great alternative to the sugary punches and "juices" that most other restaurants have. If you have one near you I would strongly suggest checking them out. This would be a great place to take several people with varying dietary needs... Vegans, meat eaters, and on and on. There are lots of salad and personal pizza options, as well as salads and appetizers. No doubt, we will return.

BTW, the ingredients for the Gluten-Free pizza are Bean Flour, Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour and Starch, Xantham Gum, Salt, Yeast, Egg, Cider Vinegar, Sugar, Canola Oil, Calcium Propionate, in case you are curious!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Been Busy...

The past month has been very busy. The biggest thing is that I finally finished the sets for Hell's Kitchen 8. I am very, very proud of all that we were able to accomplish. Sadly, I cannot post any photos of our sets until the season begins airing. But here is a snapshot that my friend and shopper, Nancy, took of me standing in one of the kitchens. In case you are wondering, I was not cooking anything but was instead boiling large pots of water to put into our set hot tub. Right before the contestants arrived, we realized that the jacuzzi was not wired properly. After a quick fix, we turned on the heaters but we only had about 5 hours before everyone arrived... about 16 hours shy of what it normally takes to heat a tub. So we were trying our best to accelerate the process. Oh, the tricks of the trade!

If you are looking at this picture and thinking that I look pretty darn tired, it is because I was. This month has been a doozy! Besides work insanity, our house went into escrow (FINALLY!) and we have been frantically searching for a new Casa de Miller. Lots of paperwork, phone calls, inspections, contractors and faxing. Through it all, I have been struggling with a horrific sinus infection that started back in November. After a CT Scan or two, my doctor announced that I must have surgery to clear out my upper sinus cavities that are unable to drain on their own. Perfect timing! The only good news is that I can wait up to two months before doing it. Hopefully soon I will have some idea of where we will be living and then I can book the darn thing. My doctor has warned that I will have about 3-4 days of recovery with flu like symptoms. But hopefully, it will ease my endless infection. After all of this, I will need to have another surgery to fix my deviated septum. And maybe after that, my sinuses will give me a little break. So much fun!

And if all of this was not enough, I turned 40 last week. It has been hard for me, I cannot lie. But my husband really made it a special day to ease my pain. We had two fabulous dinners at my favorite restaurants... one with family and the other with a small group of close friends. Not too shabby, indeed.

Speaking of food, with all that was going on I decided to try a food delivery service for a few weeks. Normally, I get up in the morning and make lunch and dinner for the kids. My slow cooker seems to be on constantly. But with my 6 day work schedule, I couldn't barely find the time to do the grocery shopping. Many of my friends swear by having their dinners delivered. So I gave it a try. In my mind, it was a fabulous situation. Every day I would go to my front door and waiting for me was a bag of delicious, prepared food. I had selected each day's menu via computer so it was all stuff that I new we could eat. Much of it was similar to what I normally prepare anyway. Steamed rice, grilled chicken, fresh fruit, salads and tons of veggies. Some days I was even able to get chocolate dipped strawberries. I would use some of it to build Ella's lunch and save the rest for dinner. And it actually cost the same as it would have if I had gone grocery shopping. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? It was until Ella decided to stage a full boycott of anything and everything that arrived in the pretty little packages. She refused to eat anything that I did not make myself. So strange, because literally it was exactly what I would have cooked. So our poor babysitter would have to make 2 dinners, first trying the delivered dinner and then resorting to something she knew the kids would eat like corn quesadillas. So I am back to shopping/preparing every one's food. Oh well!

Hopefully I will get back to my regular blogging as soon as I can. I have been reviewing some books and cannot wait to talk about our new favorite place, Babycakes NYC in LA. I begin a new show tomorrow and have no idea how busy that will keep me. But all of it is wonderful and fun and I cannot complain one bit. I just miss this part of my life. Thanks for putting up with my long periods of silence. Keep tuning in...