Thursday, February 28, 2013


I miss having my kids around.  I miss the fun we had when they lived at home.  I miss the sound of the constantly ringing phone. I miss my kids' friends and the crazy things they used to do together.  I miss an appreciative audience for my cooking.  I miss hearing, "Hi, Mom! I'm home!" I miss forcing them to give me a hug, and then being shocked when they freely embraced me in public.  I miss their wide-ranging interests that somehow always drew me in, usually in the form of a last-minute deadline that resulted in working several hours past midnight.  I miss sweet talks in the early-morning hours.  I miss driving them to their bazillion activities. (Yes, I really do.)  I really miss having a good reason to make graham cracker brownies or chocolate chip cookies.

However, I don't miss waiting up for a child to come home after his or her curfew has expired.  I don't miss the laundry and the cleaning.  I don't miss never sleeping in or feeling like I never really had control of my time. I don't miss feeling like I couldn't leave town for fear of someone missing a deadline or running out of gas and needing the services only I could provide. I don't miss never having a free Saturday to just do what I wanted to do.

Last Saturday was one of those "We have arrived!" empty-nester days, a day when we could, and did, do exactly what we wanted to do.  I know, I know. We've been mostly empty-nesters for almost seven years.  All I can say is that it takes a while to adjust.

We started the day with a drive into Los Angeles to attend a cooking class called "Forget Cooking! Introduction to Raw Food Cuisine."    The class was taught by Raquel Smith, an accountant who has a degree from the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and whose passion is obviously healthy food.  She was delightful--organized and competent, but also warm and funny and honest.  The two-and-a-half hours flew by.

We learned how to make:
    Almond Milk
    Cream of Zucchini Soup
    Mediterranean Kale Salad
    Not Tuna Pate
    Zucchini Noodles Marinara
    Chocolate Mousse

Every one of the dishes was made from all natural, raw ingredients.  Every one was pretty easy and quick to prepare.  Mostly importantly, every single one was delicious. We know because we got to eat a pretty good-sized serving of each one.  I'll be posting the recipes soon, starting with the Cream of Zucchini Soup.

After we left the class, which was, by the way, held at an elementary school near Fairfax Ave. and Pico Blvd., we went to our favorite vegan restaurant, Cafe Gratitude. No, we weren't that hungry after all those samples, but we had a couple of hours to kill before our next venue at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, and it's hard to pass up an opportunity to visit Cafe Gratitude, especially when we would have to practically pass by it on our way to the theater.

Cafe Gratitude is a funky, hip little restaurant that focuses on whole, natural, vegan ingredients. I've written about one of our prior visits here.  On this visit, Bob and I were older than anyone else in the room by a good twenty years, and we were by far the most conservatively dressed and coiffed.  While we felt a bit out of place, it was fun to rub shoulders with the happenin' crowd, and the food, as always, was fantastic.

Since almond milk moves rather quickly through the system (along with the green smoothie Bob and I had  before leaving home), I took the opportunity when we arrived to visit the ladies' room, and it was so distinctive that I returned to our table to get my camera.  (No worries, the ladies' room was a one-seater.)  Just outside the bathroom is this poster that gives a nod to Hollywood film making:
In case you can't read the fuzzy words (I didn't take time to focus as it's somewhat embarrassing to be taking photos outside a bathroom), the words on the movie film read, "My life is a picture of my thoughts, speech, beliefs, actions, attitudes . . ."   Quite a nice sentiment, don't you think?

Inside the bathroom, the walls are painted with a colorful array of animals of various species and ecosystems, all harmoniously mingling together:

 I love the intricate lines that create a jigsaw puzzle effect.  Up close, there are many details that aren't immediately apparent, such as the eyes all over this elephant:
 Even the towel dispenser was graced with a beautiful figure:

The picture below is a shot of the mirror reflecting one of the murals. The all-seeing eye painted on the wall above the mirror looks at patrons through a heart, and those words in red, "I adore myself and everyone else," are written on the mirror's surface:
I'm pretty sure all of this would look extremely odd in my bathroom at home, but I love the way that even the bathroom promotes the restaurant's message of wholeness, harmony, and gratitude for the world around us.

We began our meal this time by sharing a spectacular salad:
I AM LOCAL Winter greens with roasted beets, maple toasted walnuts, diced apple and red onion tossed in a fig balsamic vinaigrette, served with cashew mozzarella and fresh oregano crostini 

Bob followed up with:
I AM GUAPO  Mexican torta sandwich on grilled Panini bread with pureed black beans, cashew nacho cheese, spicy red pepper sauce, crispy chipotle-maple coconut, romaine lettuce, tomato and avocado. Served with a side salad

I'm not one to get the same thing over and over, but I love this dish so much that I've had it every time I've been to Cafe Gratitude:
I AM WHOLE Macrobiotic  bowl with sea vegetables, stewed adzuki beans, raw kale, carrots , house-made red cabbage kim chee and sea whip and black sesame seed gomasio with your choice of quinoa or local brown rice, tahini-garlic sauce and teriyaki almonds 

Bob finished the meal off with a dessert.  I had a tiny little taste because I'm on a sugar fast.  It was okay, but I didn't feel like I was missing out on too much:
I AM AWAKENING KEY LIME PIE Creamy avocado-lime custard topped with coconut meringue in a pecan-macadamia date crust 

Gotta love all those self-affirmations, and after finishing this meal, I think I could say, along with the mirror in the bathroom, "I adore myself and everyone else."

Fully satiated, we finally made our way to meet some friends at the matinee performance of Jekyll & Hyde at the Pantages Theater.

Let's just say that of the four things we did in Los Angeles on Saturday, this ranked third, barely beating sitting in a traffic jam on the 101 freeway.  I'm not sure why this musical was a hit on Broadway.  The script focuses on Hyde's sexual deviancy, something not present in the book at all.  (The only female character in the book is a maid.)  The characters of Jekyll and Hyde are drawn for shock value rather than depth. The music, for the most part, is forgettable.  In fact, there were far too many screeching, screaming numbers that we hope to never hear again (but probably wouldn't recognize if we did). The acting and singing were mediocre and the some of the funky techno staging decisions were just plain weird.  "Been there, done that" is what I have to say about Jekyll & Hyde.  We purchased tickets for four different plays at the Pantages this season.  (EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST!)  Let's hope the next one, West Side Story, is substantially better.

Still, it's always a treat to attend a performance in the Pantages, a beautiful theater where every seat is a good one.  And in spite of that grueling drive home, we had a blast on our Empty Nest Day.

Next up: Raw Vegan Creamy Zucchini Soup


  1. Never thought I would love a cooking class, but did. Absolutely adore Cafe Gratitude and endured the play. Fun day with my woman.

  2. I completely relate to the description of melancholy/relief empty-nesterness. HOWEVER, as you veered to the second subject matter--raw food, vegetarian restaurants, no sugar diets, feelin' groovy decor (ok I was feeling that one), I thought to myself "OH NO!!!! The Cannons are morphing into CALIFORNIA empty nesters!!" Be careful, guys.

  3. Never in my wildest imaginings would I have ever thought I would read about my parents going to a raw class and eating at a vegan restaurant...all I have to say is that you guys are turning into super fun empty nesters!!! The food looks so good. I need to go to Cafe Gratitude!

  4. Amen to the empty nesting! Sounds like a very fun day!