Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very Good Year

I took some time today to reflect back through 2008 and I am filled with gratitude for the experiences, people, places and things I encountered. I am grateful for my good health and fitness in body, mind and spirit during this past year, where and how I get to live and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. The highlights of my year…….

My niece, Pearl, married a good man named Chris and this is a wonderful thing. Their wedding was and their union is, just so special. I had fun catering the food for their wedding. Their baby, my new grand niece, Maya, arrived into the world and has brought much joy to many people. I feel blessed to be a part of their lives.  Isn't she cute!

I had the opportunity to cook for some amazing people, advance my skills, gain experience and have fun with it. And they actually paid me to do it!

I began experimenting with Thai style cooking, pretty much teaching myself. I developed some original Thai dishes, my specialty being “Thai Eggplant Cups” – a mildly flavored coconut vegetarian dish served right in the eggplant shell! And my Lemongrass Chicken isn’t bad either! I absolutely love marrying the Thai flavors of ginger, lemongrass, garlic, Thai basil and hot chili oils. How do you say “delicious” in Thai.?

This blog celebrated its first anniversary. Looking back now I see 29 articles that I’ve posted here. Isn’t it amazing what can happen one step (or one article, or one anything) at a time! I also see that I have built a compendium of food and dining ideas, recipes, and health and nutrition related white paper in such a way that I now have enough material for a book. (Next year’s project perhaps).

I started a weekly walking/fitness group which has turned into a complete blessing because of the wonderful people who have consistently showed up every Saturday morning. Not only have I made new friends, my walking friends have made friends amongst themselves as well, and this gives me great pleasure to know that I might possibly have had a little something to do with bringing like-minded people together in this town which is so busy with we who can sometimes alienate from each other. This Saturday morning walking group is an example of how wonderful the Internet is. Why? Because I was able to put this walking group together through something called “Meetup”. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out at Pick a topic that interests you, then join! It could change your life. It has definitely changed and enriched mine.

Most importantly I want to thank the people (and one sweet canine) who have touched me in one way or another this past year: Pearl, Chris, Maya, Dave (may he rest in peace), Mom, DiAnn, Jacqueline, Sal, Danny, Mark, Mabel, Kathryn, Jeni, LeVon, Dr. Peace, Nicolette, Ruth, Catherine, Mitch, Taryn, Audrey, Gene, Todd, Eckhart Tolle, The Hicks, and all the people of the Universe who believe.

And, as Andy Rooney said: Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A messsage from Rebecca

Welcome to my Blog which started as a place to share my passion for cooking, eating and the proliferation of a healthy lifestyle and continues to be a work in progress. The Internet has opened up so much for me, and for all of us, perhaps making it one of the best educational tools of the 21st Century and offering unlimited “Freedom of Speech” .…I like that I can write articles from the heart for others to enjoy. Throughout this Blog you’ll find a variety of topics….cooking, art, fitness, gratitude, attitude and of course healthy recipes. I hope you can relate. Enjoy, and please feel free to leave a comment by clicking "comment" at the bottom of any article.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tapping into Passion

Cooking = art, therapy, love
My passion for cooking brings out my creativity. Being creative is rewarding on so many levels. Creating seems to come from some intuitive thought. I enjoy transforming raw food into a delectable feast of the senses. All is well when I am in that creative, intuitive space….it’s like art, therapy and love…it just feels so good. I feel free and clear in that space. You have experienced the power and energy of creativity and passion haven’t you? That sort of energy is transforming. Have you ever noticed that when you are in your passion… are joyful, grateful and optimistic. Eckhart Tolle, in his book “A New Earth” explains “awakened doing” as having three qualities: acceptance, joyfulness and enthusiasm. When I’m in my passionate cooking mode I see that I am in a high state of “awakened doing.” Tapping into that space of passion creates joy. There’s nothing quite like it. Enjoy.

Washing spinach - with passion
I began meditating several years ago and although I admit I have fallen off it on occasion, I always come back to it because it just feels good. When I meditate, I sit and I focus on my breath and I empty my mind. This might sound weird, but this evening as I was washing spinach, I noticed that I felt the same way as when I’m meditating. I was so focused on cleaning the spinach, that cleaning spinach was the absolute only thing I was doing. I wasn’t thinking, I was cleaning spinach. I’m grateful to have spinach to wash.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mediterranean Swiss Chard

Here’s a wonderfully quick, simple, and highly nutritious side dish that pairs beautifully with a piece of poached or grilled fish, broiled chicken breasts, even Filet Mignon. Fresh Swiss chard is abundant at your local farmers markets right now. I recommend red or rainbow chard. Enjoy, and enjoy it often.
2 large bunches Swiss chard
1 medium/large clove garlic, pressed
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
EVOO to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring lightly salted water to a rapid boil in a large pot. Wash chard leafs, cut off and discard bottom stems. Coarsely chop leafs then add to boiling water and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until tender.

Strain through colander and press out excess water. Keep warm and/or immediately toss with rest of ingredients. (Don't toss chard with dressing until you are ready to serve. Otherwise the flavor will become diluted.)

Serves 2

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy 1st Anniversary Becsfarm

One year ago this blog came to be when a friend quipped "start a food blog." Blogging has been a wonderful writing, learning, thinking, creating and dreaming experience for me. It's been fun and empowering, even challenging at times. I've enjoyed sharing with you. As I look back on the last year I see this blog is really a journal of where I've been and where I am at in the present moment. I am eternally grateful for the new friends I've made along the way, my longtime friends and family, all the wonderful foods available to me, the well equipped kitchens I get to cook in, the beautiful neighborhood I live and play in and most certainly, my good health, energy, passion and enthusiasm. I feel blessed. Thank you friends, family, God, the Universe and Cyberville.


About quality

Two of my favorite savory cooking ingredients, which I use often, are Extra Virgin Olive Oil and aged Balsamic Vinegar. I like “first cold pressed” EVOO from Italy. For a real treat I buy organic. High quality aged balsamic vinegar and high quality EVOO have a grand taste. I suppose I got hooked on these two gems when I went to Italy last year and ate a lot of salads in Tuscany drizzled with EVOO and Balsamic. Once I returned to California I began purchasing really good EVOO and aged balsamic and I've enjoyed it ever since. I pay a little more for this, but a little goes a long way, savoring them for dishes where I use them uncooked, especially salads and salad dressings. (Cooking with high quality EVOO is a waste of high quality EVOO. Instead use every-day, regular EVOO for cooking.) Sometimes I amaze myself. I just looked in my kitchen cabinet and found 4 different bottles of EVOO and 3 different bottles of balsamic vinegar! Somehow I seem to know exactly which one to use for whatever I'm preparing.
A selection of EVOO and Balsamic Vinegars from my cupboard

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Happy Couple

Weddings are such happy events, for sure, and this wedding was probably the most real, down-to-earth, unpretentious, yet beautifully classic one I’ve had the pleasure of attending. My darling niece, Pearl, and her now husband Chris, and the beautiful little baby Maya (my grand niece) spread their love to all and we definitely felt it. It was a delightful, sweet event with no glitches or hitches, uncomplicated and perfect in every way. I am honored to have witnessed it and happy to have added the element of some good food for it. Thanks to all who helped me in the kitchen. And congratulations Pearl and Chris.

...............and baby makes three.............

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The sweet baby Maya in her wedding party dress

This little spirit showed up in our lives and brought love and harmony with her. She is such a gift to our family. Her Grandpa, Dave, said "I can't wait to take her to Disneyland"... (in a few years, of course, so she can really enjoy it).

Monday, June 16, 2008

June - A Good Month for a Wedding

(When I first posted this article I had a pretty picture of the Hydrangea bushes at LeVon and Don's house, but the picture has vanished, so there's no pretty picture here now. Envision, imagine, and visualize purple hydrangeas.)
Hydrangeas are blooming in abundance now. I see them in the morning in beautiful clusters in white, pink, rosey red, blue and purple when I'm jogging through my neighborhood. They are lush and lovely and they remind me of weddings.
And speaking of weddings, next week I am so excited and delighted to be traveling up to the Bay Area to attend and cater the food for my niece’s wedding. I’m looking forward to it very much, not only because my only niece is getting married but also because I get to do the food for the reception and we all know how much I love to cook. There will be 40 guests and since it is a middle-of-the-afternoon affair, we decided to serve a variety of hearty hors d’ oeuvres. I will be staying at my niece’s house so I’ll have plenty of time to prepare the platters the day before the wedding and the morning of. I love the challenge of preparing food on someone else’s turf….it’s actually a somewhat courageous act because not being in my own kitchen, I never know what might come up. A big part of the job is being organized and prepared. I love the challenge. But the real reward of this event is seeing my niece so happy, grounded and partnering with a wonderful young man.

As much as I love Santa Monica, I also adore the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly Sonoma County. I’m fortunate to have friends who live there who I will also be visiting next week. My wonderful friends LeVon and Don live in Healdsburg and I just love hanging out with them, cooking great meals and enjoying some fine wines.

With Summer upon us, enjoy, eat well, get exercise and be grateful for all the gifts big and small.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Eggplant Bisque

2 medium eggplants
1 large white potato
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, white part only, chopped
5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 springs fresh oregano, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon dried margoram
1 teaspoon tumeric

Preheat oven to 375°

Using a potato peeler, peel off about half the skin of the eggplant and all the skin of potato. Cut into 1-1/2” chunks and put in large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons EVOO and 1 teaspoon of your favorite dried herbs (parsley, oregano, or thyme). Toss well. Place on cookie sheet (OK to overlap). Roast for 45 minutes in 375° oven turning once or twice. Remove, cool, then coarsely chop and set aside.

In the meantime, in a medium stock pot over medium/high heat sauté onion in a tablespoon of EVOO for 12 minutes until just slightly browned, then add fennel and garlic and sauté another 10 minutes. Add 1 and a 1/2 cups stock, bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

Add eggplant and potatoes to onion/fennel mixture along with 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water), margoram, turmeric and springs of fresh oregano.

Bring to boil quickly, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. Using a ladle, in batches, puree soup in a blender. Add it back to the soup pot and stir. Heat and enjoy.

The Secret to Great Health

I recently went on a three day juice feast cleanse. It really makes sense to cleanse our insides now and again. Perhaps we should place as much emphasis on internal cleansing as we do on external hygiene, such as brushing our teeth or washing our hands. If you are middle-aged, you’ve taken about 15,000 showers in your lifetime, and you’ve brushed your teeth close to 30,000 times. Still, you won’t stop doing that just because you’ve done it so many times. Here’s an interesting question: If you have to keep cleansing your skin and teeth daily, then wouldn't you think it makes equal sense to clean the inside of your body at least periodically?
The importance of internal cleansing can best be summed up in the words of Dr. Paul Bragg, one of the “fathers” of natural medicine in the U.S. and the author of dozens of highly successful health books:
“The secret to great health can be described in three words: Cleanse Your Body! Engrave these three words permanently in your memory.”
For my three day cleanse I used the Izo Cleanze. It was clearing and healing on many levels. I highly recommend it. Please visit:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Legumes for Life

I love legumes, my favorites being garbanzos and black beans. Dried organic legumes are so much better than the canned varieties. They just taste cleaner. I don’t like the way canned legumes taste, they taste like they’ve been sitting in a can! (I swear my taste buds are hyper sensitive). It’s not difficult to prepare dried beans however, you need to plan ahead.
Before I go into the method, may I remind you how healthy and economical beans are. Of themselves they are low in calories but filling, have a lot of fiber and are low on the glycemic index. Combined with brown rice they make a complete protein….I believe they are a super food. I eat beans in one form or another four to five times a week and I encourage you to do so as well. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like Hummus.

Preparing dried organic garbanzo beans:

First – the night before, prep the dried garbanzos:
Place one cup of dried beans in an 8- cup pot with lid, inspecting beans to make sure there are no foreign particles or mutants. Rinse and drain beans twice in cold water. Then add enough cold water to cover beans by two inches (about 6 cups), put lid on pot, and soak beans overnight, minimum 12 hours. (Just soak, don’t cook). You can let the beans soak for as long as 36 hours but not longer otherwise you will have sprouted beans. (Not a bad idea…they are great tossed into a salad.) After the overnight soaking, drain and rinse beans several times in fresh cold water, then return to same pot and add 5 cups water or organic vegetable or chicken broth or a combination of both. Don’t add salt, it’s just not necessary. Cover pot, put on stovetop over high heat and bring to a rapid boil (about 10 minutes). When at a boil, turn heat all the way down to the lowest setting and let beans simmer for about 1 hour until tender but not mushy. Remove from heat, drain excess water. You now have beans ready to do good things with.

Keeping It Simple – toss the beans with fresh finely chopped parsley, one tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, two tablespoons best quality EVOO, a dash of salt. Add in one small finely chopped garlic clove as an option. Now you have a tasty bean side dish, served hot or cold, or as an addition to your daily salad. Refrigerate unused beans in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Hummus has become a favorite of many and it’s really not that difficult to make. It’s always a welcome appetizer especially at pot-lucks and when your friends find out you made it from scratch….well….they’ll be in awe! Hummus served with whole wheat pita triangles is a wonderful crudite. (serve with oblong sliced cucumber sticks and celery and carrot sticks.)
Note: Ideally, using a food processor is the easiest way to make Hummus, but it can be made in a blender as well, especially if you like it smooth and creamy. Failing that, use a potato masher and as a very last resort smash the bean mixture with a sturdy fork or whatever heavy utentsil you’ve got.

In a food processor place:
1 small peeled garlic clove, sliced
The cooked Garbanzo beans
4 tablespoons Tahini (available in the Ethnic section at most markets)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon ground red pepper, ½ teaspoon salt. Process until desired consistency is achieved (if you like it smooth and creamy add water one tablespoon at a time and continue to blend.) Place Hummus in a small bowl, sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

7 Tibits You Might Not Know About Me

My favorite fine artist is Paul Gauguin. My love affair with his art started in elementary school when a teacher showed our class some of his work. From the moment I saw pictures of his work with its exotic and brilliant colors depicting life in the Tropics, I was completely excited and aroused. As you know he paints Tahitian people and their life. Hence I dreamed of visiting Islands with beautiful beaches and palm trees and lush vegetation and tanned bodies. Twenty years later, I went on what was to be a two week vacation to Hawaii, and ended up staying for 8 years. I have yet to travel to Tahiti, but I hope to one day. However, two years ago I went to Boston especially to see the largest Gauguin exhibition at it’s only US showing. It ends up I fell in love with Boston, and, but of course, it was a dream come true to see 120 original Gauguin paintings all in one place at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (I didn’t stay 8 years though, I returned home to –at the time- San Francisco).

I purchased my first computer in 1985. It was an Apple 2C, the first compact computer for personal/home use. The monitor was an uninteresting monochromatic 9” display. The newest rage at the time was to get onto the “Information Super Highway”. I’ve been on the highway ever since having signed up for one of the first home use internet providers called AOL. I’ve been for 23 years!

•Becsfarm. Are you wondering what that means? Let me tell you the story. When I was a youngster I watched a movie on television called “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”. The movie starred little Shirley Temple (a child actress prodigy similar in talent and charm to Judy Garland, as in The Wizard of Oz.). The main character of the movie was little Rebecca who went to live on a farm called: Sunnybrook Farm. My mother and other relatives started calling me “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” because I liked to grow vegetables in our backyard garden with the help of my Grandfather who taught me about growing. Hence, becsfarm (bec….short for Rebecca). I never lived on a farm, but in my child fantasy mind I would love the experience. My little girl heart and soul has never forgotten my childhood wishes, dreams and fantasies (being a Pisces exacerbates these tendencies. LOL)

•I love to give pedicures to friends and loved ones. I’ve got one of those portable foot spas – the kind you plug in and it makes massaging bubbles, just like at the nail salon. People love to soak their feet in the warm water, then I trim toenails, scrub toes and feet and give a nice massage. For ladies, I like to paint. For men….just a real good massage will do. No charge! (When my Mom was very sick and in the hospital for 3 weeks, I gave her a nice pedicure – she loved it.) When’s your birthday?

I once worked as the Executive Secretary to the Music Producer who actually discovered Jim Morrison and the Doors at the famous Whiskey A-Go-Go nightclub on the Sunset Strip (in Hollywood). Yep, it’s true, I won’t name names, but this Producer told me that he was looking for new talent and he just happened to be at the Club and heard Jim Morrison and his Band playing (they hadn’t even cut a record yet)! Well, the rest is history…..this Producer immediately made a deal with Morrison and signed the band to Elektra Records.

I jogged across the Golden Gate Bridge the Sunday after 9/11 and a TV News Anchor stopped me in my tracks to interview me live on camera asking me if I was afraid to be on the bridge. (The media will do anything to get a story, I suppose.) If I was afraid of being on the Golden Gate Bridge for fear it might be a terrorist target, why would I be out jogging on it? And another tidbit about my life in “The City by the Bay”….. I use to run up and down the stairs on Lombard Street….what fun and a great work out that was. I really loved my jogging route from Chestnut Street to the hidden stairwells nestled in the streets and alleys of Russian Hill. Now I do my stair climbing at the famous Santa Monica 4th Street steps. I love the heavy breathing that quickly happens when stair climbing.

I doubt I’ll ever sky dive, but I did go parasailing in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. What a thrill ride that was.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Breathing in the New Year

We are living in fast times and 2008 isn't going to slow down. We who are "plugged in" can get bombarded with information. Just how we assimilate this information is important. My curious mind can spend hours gathering information then using that it seems my mind is a busy place. (Not to mention how easy it is to get side tracked here on the wonderful World Wide Web.) I resolve in the New Year to be mindfully focused on my priorities. One way I do that is by using my Outlook Calendar to organize my day, giving my priorities attention. A huge priority in my life is health in body, mind and spirit. Stress can take its toll on the mind and body so as the New Year begins I intend to manage stress carefully by feeding myself (and those around me) only the healthiest of foods and positive experiences. Meditating, jogging to the beach and back and being spiritually aware are important ways for me to manage stress too, along with getting lots of fresh air. This brings me to the best quick fix stress buster. Breathing. Let us remember to really breath! Conscious breathing can relieve stress. Breath deep and smile. Try it right now......breath in through your nose for a count of 5, hold it for 2, breath out like you are blowing through your mouth for a count of 7. Repeat three times. Feel better? Good. May we all be well, happy and free from the aches and pains of stress.