I Love You, Los Angeles

i love los angeles

 I love this big crazy city.  I’ve lived here for quite a long time and there are a handful of important things to understand about Los Angeles:  don’t use the 405 unless someone is paying you for your time and gas mileage, know your dry cleaner by name, shop at an awesome wine shop, and know thy taco truck.  I get a lot of requests for Los Angeles recommendation from readers who find themselves visiting this city.  Here’s a hearty beginning:  where to eat, where to sit, where you might want to pray, and some dang spicy Thai food (among other things).

xo joy

The Best Little Crowded Place to Get Wine is Venice Beach Wine Bar.  It’s small and cozy and has an almost communal seating feel.  It’s a neighborhood bar that fills up every night… and even though it’s packed, it’s the kind of place that feels like you can always find a seat.  They also sell wine by the bottle… and maybe you’ll see Zach Galifianakis there.

For Church on Sunday Morning I love Ecclesia Hollywood.  The community of people who make up this church is warm, welcoming, talented, and creative. This church makes this biiiiiig city, feel like a small, connected, Godly place.

Sit in the lobby at Shutters, Santa Monica.  They’ll bring you water and free potato chips and you can sit in the beach-sun without getting sand in your shoes.  There’s a cocktail bar downstairs and loads of beach to walk on should you feel sand-and-sunny.  Also in the neighborhood is The Viceroy.  This hotel is for the cool kids and totally worth a visit.

You won’t be orange.  It’s organic.  It’s spray tan.  I’ve done it because I’m pale and I wear sunscreen and sometimes I just don’t want to be as pale as the day is long.  Don’t you judge me.

For old-school Los Angeles eats, I adore Phillipe’s French Dip Sandwiches.  I’ve gone to Phillipe’s (literally) all of my life.  My parents met working right across the street from this sandwich shop.  My grandfather loved two things:  baseball and Phillipe’s.  So yea, this LA eatery is in my blood.  I order a double-dipped roast beef sandwich, potato salad, coconut cream pie, lemonade, and coffee.  I’m not shy.

Thai Food is serious business.   Night + Market on Sunset Blvd is really the only way to go.  Night+Market is Thai street food.  Yes, there’s Pad Thai… but there are also awesome dishes like Cat Fish Tamales and Fried Pig Tail.  It’s bold and seriously spicy food.  The wine list is also STELLAR.  The restaurant is located right at the end of the Sunset Strip… it’s sort of an adventure.

There are two places to eat sausage and pie and they happen to be neighbors.  Wurstkuche  sells house-made fancy German hot dogs.  I tend to top mine with a questionably large amount of sauerkraut.  Their fries are bonkers thick and don’t even get me started on the dipping sauces.  Right across the street is The Pie Hole.  These people care about pie.  Their Key Lime Meringue Pie is perfect with a cup of coffee and a cute date.

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Onion and Ricotta Frittata


I’m here to be your I-Totally-Don’t-Need-To-Go-Out-To-Brunch-Because-I’m-My-Own-Awesome-Brunch-Cook cheerleader.

Not everything needs to be yeasted, decadent, and totally over the top.  Not every brunch meal needs to be enjoyed only standing on a sidewalk for an hour.  Promise.

onion frittata with emily

I made this simple frittata with Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere last week.  We also shared Chai-Spiced Cinnamon Rolls which are, admittedly, a bit of an ordeal to make.  This frittata is the opposite of an ordeal.  It’s pure, simple, savory goodness.

Last week:  brunch with Emily in Los Angeles.  This week:  hurricane in Baltimore with friends, wine, and Halloween decorations.  You know… the usual.

Yea.  Hurricane… my California veins don’t even know what that word means.

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Papa Says


We can’t have a series about motherly life lessons without acknowledging some solid Dad-isms.   This Dad of mine has a lot of gems to teach.  To be fair, I was a little girl with curly bangs and a mild mullet… I needed a lot of guidance.  Mom is the guide to ‘act right, eat your apple, and don’t steal my scissors’.  Dad is the guide to ‘act right, watch this movie, and save me the last biscuit’.  All very important lessons.

I love the people who raised me.  Beyond!

Papa Says (or heavily implies):

I’m going to work literally aaallll night long because I love you and you require food and electricity.  When I get home at 5am, I’m going to wake you up so we can make a pie together.  You’ll moan and groan about it, but you’ll thank me later.

I know you’re six years old, and you can’t possibly understand the nuance and beauty of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but we’re going to watch it over and over and over again.  One day it will blow your mind.

Whole Wheat Fig Newton Cookies are dessert.  (I still disagree with this notion, Father.)

Conversely, Carrot Cake is pretty much a vegetable.

Did someone say waffles?  Let’s definitely make waffles.

If there is an ant in the kitchen, it’s a family emergency.  Everyone UP!  Out of bed!  We’re getting to the bottom of this.

How many times do I have to tell you to rinse your dishes, to wrap up the bread, the clean up the cereal, to take out the trash, to clean up your room. How many times do I have to tell you?  (Answer, Dad:  you’ll have to tell me a lot of times… like A LOT.)

Don’t mess around with boys that disrespect you.  I didn’t teach you to put up with that nonsense.

If you’re going to bring a boy home… well, he best address me as Mr. Wilson (and you really shouldn’t bring very many boys home).

You do not give the expensive canned tuna to stray cats.  That is something you do.not.do.

Eat your vegetables.  Your mother and I bought them for you and you will, you really will eat them.

I’m not going to raise my voice very often, but when I do, it will shake you to your core.

Your mother and I are on the same team and you won’t be able to get one over on us with your child-brain trickery.  Did you Mom say no?  I say no too.  One exception:  I will buy you that Gap sweater even though it’s not on sale.

It’s midnight.  Let’s get doughnuts.

Whatever you don’t eat off your dinner plate, I will eat.  Most specifically, if you want to save me a few bites of your chicken and biscuits… I think that would be great.

Pie is not pie unless it’s warm.

Life’s a beach, as illustrated by my fashion.

Chai-Spiced Cinnamon Rolls


I’ve had this flavor combination gemstone  living in my brain for the past few weeks.  I wanted to smash the beautiful flavors of chai with my always-obsession: cinnamon rolls.

If I made cinnamon rolls as often as I wanted them, I’d probably make the two to three times a day.  Not normal.  Not healthy.  Not generally acceptable.

I usually need to call someone when I make cinnamon rolls.  It’s not so much a friendly phone call as much as it is a cry for help.  The subtext is something along the lines of  ‘I need you to come over here right now and help me eat these cinnamon rolls because if you don’t I’ll surely eat them all on my own and if I do that my only option is to blame you for friend negligence’.

All that being said, when Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere and I decided to get together for brunch… I knew what’d I’d be making:  steamed broccoli cinnamon rolls DUH!

emily + joy by emily

 photo by emily schuman

I packed up my dough and bowls.  I packed up my spices and brown sugar.  I put on a dress and fished a matching pair of earrings out of the bottom of my purse… and I descended upon the kitchen of my new friend Emily.

I won’t even tell you how bonkers excited and nervous I was to hang with super-talented, super-blogger Emily Schuman.  I thought about what I was going to wear for three minutes… and then I remembered that I’m not a fashion expert aaaaattttt aaaalllllll. I wore a Forever 21 dress, a vintage belt, an orange slip I bought 13 years ago… and I painted my nails in the car (which is probably as illegal as texting while driving).  Totally normal.

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Coming Soon From Me to You

riley apple farm by lani trock

Hey, Hi and Howdy Friends!

There are all sorts of things going on behind the computer screen here at Joy the Baker Headquarters.  (Joy the Baker Headquarters in my crazy-messy desk, my tiny kitchen, and the crazy-messy trunk of my car.)  I wanted to give you a little preview and share some pretty pictures with you.

Also, I’m headed to the east coast this November and December and I would love love love to see you!


I want to tell you about my apple picking extravaganza with Lani.  I also made an apple cake and I ate too much.

Typical Thursday.

(top photo by lani trock)

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Sharp Cheddar Cheese Crackers


I did a thing I was not supposed to do.  I went shopping in a mood.  More specifically, I went to Target slightly upset.  Nothing earth shattering in my life.  Everything is fine with me, but… I made the mistake of taking money into a shopping establishment while mentally mental.

I came out on the other end of mood-shopping with the following (totally unexciting) items:

– two giant bags of gummy bears. – four giant bags of candy corn.  – really expensive bed sheets. –  fancy shampoo.  – so much shower gel (that I stood in the aisle and smelled forever…)(and I don’t even use shower gel).  – an allergen-free mattress pad.  – pajama bottoms (one pair… ok, three pairs). – a really alarming amount of cheese.

I also left with an exorbitant amount of really boring household items like paper towels and dish soap.

Mood-shopping and no new shoes or nail polish?  That must have been some mood.

Gah!  This is real life.

To settle my emotions, I sat in my car blank-staring and eating gummy bears.

To flip the script on my day I came home and baked these crazy-good, crunchy cheddar crackers.

And just like that… all is well (or at least cheesier)!


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Mama Says


I was so fortunate to be raised by two loving, generous, good-humored, hungry, ball-busting parents.  Both my mom and dad taught me a plethora of life lessons that range from real to ridiculous.  Oooh man… these parents of mine loooooove a good life lesson.  They relish it.  My mama, in particular, is full of hearty gemstones for living.  She didn’t teach me much about eye-liner or kitten heels… that I sort of figured out on my own (by making soooo many mistakes trying to copy Blossom).  Mama-knowledge was more along the lines of ‘you know I raised you better than that, now act right and eat your apple’.  The older I get the more I appreciate the woman who raised me… mostly because the older I get the more I realize what a ridiculous youth I must have been to endure.  She’s a strong one and I feel blessed to have her.

Mama Says (or heavily implies):

–  Do not steal a person’s scissors.  More specifically, do not steal my scissors.  Just because you see scissors in the house does not mean they’re your scissors.  They’re for fabric, not construction paper.  Do not make the mistake of stealing my scissors.  Thank you.

–  We’re going to hem your pants and you’re not going to like it, but we’re going to do it anyway.  I don’t care if your friends at school don’t hem their pants.  If your friends at school tripped and fell off a bridge because they didn’t hem their pants, would you trip and fall off a bridge too?  No.  You’re welcome.

–  Always leave a place cleaner than you found it.  This often means cleaning a bathroom you do not want to clean.  Do it… even though you don’t want to.

–  No, you can not borrow my calligraphy pens.  Thank you for asking nicely.  Still… no.

–  Be the best of you that you can be.

–  ‘Shut-up’ is a bad word.  (Joy’s personal amendment:  unless you mean it in a good way.)

–  Donate everything.  Mostly your time and your clothes.

–  Happy 12th birthday.  I’m going to teach you how to do your own laundry now.  That’s that.

–  Hand-wash means wash by hand.  Follow directions.

–  Don’t do it.  You’ll get pregnant.  You really will…  don’t do it.

–  Don’t you dare come in this house pregnant if you don’t mean to be pregnant.  I don’t care if you’re 31.

–  You’re hungry?  Eat an apple.  You don’t want an apple?  You must not be hungry.

–  Yes I have Tums in my purse.  No, Joy… they’re not candy.  Get a hold of yourself.  Do you want an apple?  You must not be hungry.  Again… Tums are not candy.

–  I don’t put up with nonsense and I didn’t teach you to put up with nonsense either.

–  Doing things you don’t want to do when you’re a kid is really good practice for a being an adult and doing all the things that you don’t want to do… that’s why we’re picking you up from your best friends sleepover party early on Sunday morning and dragging you to church when none of your other friends have to leave early and go to church.  It’s ok that it’s not fair.  It’s ok that you’re whining.  You’re learning discipline and it’s a reeaallllyyy hard lesson to learn.

–  Because I said so.

–  Be braver than you think you can be.  Take my lead.


Broccoli & Potato Nuggets


I bring you these vegetarian nuggets as a humble (though translucent) apology for all of the doughnuts and pizza I made you endure all summer.

For a person who almost exclusively wants to eat doughnuts and pizza, I’m actually surprised by the amount of broccoli I eat.  This probably has something to do with my mom insisting that if I ate my broccoli, it would make me beautiful… and me being juuuust superficial enough to believe her. (I think I mentioned my mom and broccoli bit before, and I’m ok with that.)


Let’s have these little nuggets be the vegetable version of baked doughnuts. Let’s substitute flour and yeast for potatoes and broccoli.  I promise it will work and it will be delicious… just like this Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup.

I like to trick myself.  Hence, I insist on insisting that you trick yourself… unless you’re mega into broccoli over doughnuts, in which, nevermind.

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Brittle and Jam Blonde Brownies


I live in Los Angeles. All of the stereotypes you’ve heard (or perpetuated) are true.  We enjoy our juice cleanses (like… a lot).  We wear ridiculously expensive yoga pants.  We drive everywhere, all the time, into traffic, with traffic, against traffic… so much traffic!  We are beach hippies (for real).  We are ladies who get our hair blown out like we’re going to movie premiers every night… because we’re probably going to movie premiers every night (this is not my particular reality).  Some of us care about the fancy cars that we drive, and the size of our diamonds.  Some of us care about our Priuses and hemp shirts.  We are everyone and we live together because we like sunshine always and forever.


One of my favorite things about Los Angeles is all of the awesome food people that live here.

Two of my favorite food people are Jessica Koslow of Sqirl Jam and Max Lesser of Morning Glory Confections.

Jessica makes the most lovely jams on the west coast.  I love her jams because they taste exactly like the California that I love.  Big, beautiful, like sunshine, earth, and quirk.

Max takes the simplicity of candy brittle and flips the script.  His Chai Tea and Cashew Brittle… I can’t even deal.  It’s all about honoring simplicity and nudging it with crazy fun.

I love what they do.  I love brownies.  Hence… the most awesome brownie smash-bang fusion ever.

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Chocolate Cream Filled Vanilla Sugar Doughnuts

chocolate filled vanilla sugar doughnuts

I remember, very distinctly, a time when I believed in Santa Claus.

It was exciting!  A thrill a holiday!  I don’t think I was gullible… I just happened to believe in the things that my parents told me were true:  Santa Claus is real, life is not fair, and eating broccoli makes you beautiful.

We had a Santa Claus nightlight my sister and I kept in our bedroom window during the holiday season.  I figured it was like our Batman Bat Signal, but for Christmas presents not crime-stopping.  It all made perfect sense.

I don’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus.  I think it was when I realized that all of our Christmas presents smelled like my mom’s clothes closet, and that broccoli was not, in fact, making me more beautiful.

Now that I’m an adult, Santa Claus has easily fallen by the wayside (thought I still love the nightlight)… but there are solid things I believe:  I believe in God.  I believe in doughnuts… and I believe in the merits of broccoli (I guess….).

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Several Things I’ve Learned This Summer

several things i've learned this summer

I always have such a hard time saying goodbye to summer.  I know.  According to the calendar, summer is long past.  I just always want to hang on a little longer than I should.

I’ve learned a lot this summer.

I’ve learned that John Lithgow has a fig tree in his front yard… and if I jump high enough, I can nab one.  Thank you Mr. Lithgow.


I’ve learned that having a summer ‘maj’ (aka a best lady friend) is pretty wonderful.

Thanks Tracy!

Also… some iPhone filters make you look pink-tan.  Let’s just go with it.

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