Tuesdays with Letty: 88 Noodle House, Arcadia

Home of the world famous Santa Anita Racetrack and the Arboretum, Arcadia has morphed into an upscale Asian neighborhood.  The San Gabriel Valley is famous for its Asian population and food stretching east from the epicenter of Monterey Park.  Those with money have gravitated over to San Marino and Arcadia. Fortunately, they've brought their food with them.

Across the street from the world famous Din Tai Fung dumpling house is our favorite place for Chinese soup, the 88 Noodle House.

While there is an extensive menu here, I come for one thing...beef tendon noodle soup.

These little bits of jellied cow floating in a spicy and savory broth are just irresistible. Imagine the best ribeye steak literally melting in your mouth and you get a hint of the taste.  Along with the noodles, spinach, and that tasty broth, it makes for a soup you'll remember to your grave.

Also, Letty likes to have the shrimp and pork dumplings that rival the famous ones people are lined up for across the street.

88 Noodle House is in a strip mall on Baldwin Avenue, just north of the corner of Baldwin and Duarte and about 4 blocks south of Santa Anita Mall.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Spring has Sprung

Time to just shut up, sit back, and enjoy some of the fruits of all this labor...

This year's best cymbidium.

It's a cross between cymbidium devonianum 'stewart' crossed with stargold 'lucky strike'. Six pendant spikes just filled with beautiful flowers.

Mr. Lincoln shows what a classic red rose should look like.

Double Delight


Angel Face

Bletilla orchid

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

This Week's Menu: French Omelet and Spring Ham Salad

We're trying to be healthy and diabetic friendly this week with a couple of meals that actually lowered my glucose, one (the omelet) by almost 40 points!

The omelet is a super tasty and very filling entree that can be served for any meal.  The salad is a bit lighter but still very tasty and satisfying.

Recipes are at the links below.

BRUNCH: French Omelet

LUNCH: Spring Mix Salad

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

French Omelet

This can be for breakfast or brunch. Heck, we've even had it with dinner where it can be paired easily with a lighter red like a Beaujolais.  It's called a French omelet because it's a dish I came up with after visiting the local market in the South of France (if you ever want to really get inspired to cook, try going to a French farmers market).

It's easy to cook, although some items may be a bit of a chore to find. For instance, in France, they have incredible dark purple asparagus and another purple elephant garlic that you just can't find around here, so I've substituted shallots and regular asparagus.

It really does taste better in France, which will amaze you after you find out just how good this version tastes (spoiler: it's really good).

INGREDIENTS (for each omelet, increase as appropriate for more)

2 eggs 
1 teaspoon half and half
1/2 ounce goat cheese
2 links of merguez sausage (may be available at Whole Foods or other gourmet markets)
4 spears asparagus
1/2 bulb shallot (chopped fine)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Chop the asparagus into half inch pieces. In a 12 inch frying pan, heat up one tablespoon of oil.  Cook the asparagus for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the shallot and cook until just translucent.  Set the mixture aside in a bowl.

Chop up the sausage.  I like to freeze them first and cut with a tomato knife which makes it easier to get clean cuts.

Brown the sausage in the pan, put in the bowl with asparagus and shallot.

In a bowl, mix the eggs and half and half. Add a dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg before whisking.

You're going to use your sausage, asparagus, shallot mixture and sliced up cheese in as a filling.

In an eight inch pan, heat up the other tablespoon of olive oil. Pour in the egg mixture when hot. Using a spatula, lift up the edges to let the liquid mixture fill in under the cooked egg. When just a little liquid is left on the surface, put in the filling across the center. Fold the far edge over. Let sit for about 10 seconds and flop into a plate.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

LUNCH: Spring Ham Salad

This is my go-to meal for a quick, easy, amazingly tasty, satisfying, and healthy lunch.  Super easy to throw together, low carb, good protein, and good fats for a meal you'll never feel guilty about eating.


2 cups spring salad mix
6 or 7 cherry tomatoes
1/4 oz. shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 oz. sliced ham
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Simply put the salad mix in a bowl, sprinkle the tomatoes, cheese, and ham over the top.  Mix the oil and vinegar and use as the dressing.

For this one, I'll even include the nutritional info...

Calories - 176
Protein (grams) - 9
Carbs - 15
Fat - 9
Sodium - 218
Sugar - 5

Glucose Effect:
Pre-meal level   - 127
Post-meal level - 118

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

D-Day: Sounds Scary But It Can Be a Blessing

The big news this week is that, according to a UCLA study, nearly half of Californians are either prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes.  Sounds scary and, if you ignore your own probability, it is.

I never really thought about it until I was diagnosed but, I have to say, it's been more of a blessing than a curse for me. Think about it...the biggest prescription to early type 2 diabetes or prediabetes is to eat.

You just have to eat with a purpose, a passion, and reason.

With constant testing, you quickly learn exactly what you can eat (a lot more than you think), how often, and what you need to limit or avoid.

I've learned that three foods have the biggest effect on my blood sugar...regular pasta, white rice, and flour tortillas.  I've also learned how to eat around them...whole wheat pasta, brown rice (or none at all since I don't really care for it anyway), and smaller or corn tortillas.

With that in mind, I'll start sharing some of the meals that have had little or no effect on my sugar...unless it's to lower it.

Steak and eggs...had this dish at the Bull Pen in Redondo Beach, California, which also came with sourdough toast and hash browns. I only ate half of the hash browns but finished everything else. Raised my glucose 20 points.

The prime rib dinner at the Bull Pen only raised it 40 points.

Our lasagna recipe, using whole wheat pasta raised my blood sugar 20 points, as opposed to the over 90 points a regular pasta would.

My wife made some beef stew in the crock pot the other day. Came out fantastic and the effect on the glucose was neutral.

So there's a few dishes that are delicious and great for a diabetic like me.  This weekend, I'll have a couple of dishes that actually lowered my glucose level...one by a lot!

Do you have any diabetic friendly dishes you want to share?

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesdays with Letty: Old World Deli

Our home of the San Gabriel Valley is home to a few excellent Italian delis. Most people around here are familiar with Claro's, a small chain of Italian markets and delis.

There's more, and tonight we'll share one of our favorites with you, Old World Deli and Restaurant in Covina (there's also another outlet in Upland).

Old World has a different special each day, we come on Tuesday because it's pizza and salad bar day. The restaurant features one of the most extensive and fresh salad bars in the area. For around $12, you can eat your fill and more of this buffet of fresh vegetables, sweet ripe fruits, nuts, ham, eggs, cheese, bread, and more.  On top of that, you get two thick slices of Sicilian style pizza with your choice of two toppings.

This is Letty's dinner.  She creates a masterpiece of a salad, goes back for a fruit salad, and takes the pizza home.

I get the half sandwich and salad bar combo (available every day) with an excellent pastrami sandwich and my own trip or two through the salad bar.

It's an institution around here with friendly people, a great deli on the side, with great cookies for treats to take home.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Preparing for Christmas in March

It's way overdue but I'm finally tackling the Christmas cactus this weekend. By my reckoning, it's been in it's basket for at least 6 years now.

In that time, another plant...a kalanchoe 'mother of thousands' (bryophyllum diagremontianum)...volunteered into the basket (that's the leaves with all the little leaflets in the picture above...the pink flowers are the Christmas cactus).

Removing the plant from the basket, I see the only soil left is whatever the roots could hang onto for themselves.

It's a bit of a delicate operation to remove it from the basket without too much damage. 

The kelanchoe is in bloom. It has pretty flowers, I'm going to save a piece and put it in it's own pot.

Here's a few pieces of the kelanchoe that I'm putting aside for later.

A coconut husk mat goes in to line the basket. This will provide a good rooting medium and also help keep the soil intact.  It's very well draining and should help prevent rot, which is never good in a succulent like this.

I put in some fine orchid bark in the bottom to assist in draining. It will also break down slowly and extend the life of the potting soil I'm putting on top of it and, to be honest, I don't really have enough potting mix to go around today so this helps me to fill the basket properly.

Once I get the plant in place where I want it, it's just a matter of filling in and tamping with potting soil then watering in.

There, all done. Just hanging it back up on its original shepherd's hook to recuperate. I'll be moving it under the eave later and giving it a dripper to irrigate.

The kelanchoe gets similar treatment but will now be growing in its own pot on the orchid bench.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

This week's menu: Barbecued Chicken with an Asparagus/Mushroom/Caulliflower Medley

Back out on the grill for this week's menu with a strong barbecued chicken entree served with a nice medley side dish. All prepared on the grill, no pots or pans to wash!

Recipes at the links below.

DINNER: Barbecued Chicken

SUPER SIDE: Garlic Asparagus/Mushroom/Cauliflower Medley

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER: Garlic Herb Barbecued Chicken

Every now and again, I try to hit the sweet spot with chicken on the barbecue. Sometimes I'm successful (like my chicken 'wings' style thighs that I need to post someday) and others not so much.

This week, I'm at the upper end of the successful range. Not quite perfect but, still, a solid entree.

When cooking chicken, I like to use thighs. They're juicier and have more flavor than breasts and have more meat than drumsticks.

I have a butcher at the Original Hollywood Farmer's Market who will even debone them for me without removing the skin...these are best of all (it's easy to find boneless/skinless thighs but most meat counters don't leave the skin on). Ask your local butcher if they'll do this for you.


6 chicken thigs, skin on
1 Cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 hot red chiles (like Thai chiles)
2 tablespoons poultry rub

Put the buttermilk and chiles into a blender. In a sealable bowl, marinated the chicken in the buttermilk/chile mixture overnight.

Before cooking, drain off the marinade. Sprinkle the thighs on both sides with the salt and pepper. Apply the rub.

On a charcoal gril, cook on each side for 3 minutes each, covered.  Move to indirect heat, cook for 6-8 minutes on each side, making sure all the juices running out are clear.

Move back, skin side down, to the direct heat.  Cook for 5 minutes, watching carefully for flareups and moving to another part of the grill when they happen.  This last step will make the skin extra crispy.

Cover with foil and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...