01 May 2012

No Fuss - California Style

Since moving to SoCal 6 months ago, I've been thinking a lot about what defines California style.

This applies both to fashion as well as cooking.

So much of my Seattle wardrobe doesn't make sense here, not just because it's too hot but also because it's too fussy. No one wears high-heeled boots or even strapped wedges to the beach except for in fashion shoots. Forget about constructed dresses and hairspray. None of these are practical in an outdoor lifestyle consumed by the beach and warm sun. When we first arrived, I consistently found myself overdressed at events. It's usually best to be a little dressier, but I felt over-done. I've since traded most of my heels for flats and sandals, stopped blow drying and coloring my hair, and stashed away the more tailored pieces of my wardrobe. Instead, my favorite well-worn jeans plus a light tee have become the staple. Maybe a scarf or some jewelry for an accent, but that's about it.

The same goes for cooking. I'd struggled to find my style here in the SoCal kitchen. In Seattle, the home chef reigns as the skies rain, sending us deep into cookbooks and the bowels of quirky markets looking for super ingredients to delight and even one-up our foodie friends. Here, that's just too much. There's no need for a cabinet full of high tech gadgets and fussy ingredients. In fact, I hardly even cook anymore - it's too warm and too enjoyable to spend excess time in the kitchen (and too crazy at the grocery store to take any more time than needed to get the staples). Plus the ingredients are so fresh, it's nice to simply prepare them to let them shine, cleanly.

Our focus has changed. We eat well - but we and eat and move on. No more fuss.
Case in point are the fresh strawberry hand-pies I made Sunday night, after gaining inspiration from Pinterest. These represent everything about California style - they're casual, flirty, and impossibly simple. They feature fresh, limited ingredients, don't take much time to prepare, and are a light treat. These could easily be adapted to feature whatever filling suits your fancy - I'm thinking peaches in the summer, apples in fall, and even lemon curd into winter. Be flexible and fun with your ingredients - just don't be fussy.

PS: This post and pies made to Father John Misty's new album, Fear Fun, as is most everything I do these days. It perfectly captures Los Angeles living (J. Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes and Seattle, is also now an LA resident). I think he likes it here, too: "How was I to know that milk and honey flowed just a couple states below?"

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