California Cuisine: Cooking with the Grape


Painting of Grapes by M-J de Mesterton Hangs at the Tiny Bar of Her California Kitchen


Below: M-J’s Meat Sauce with Red and White California Wines Cooks Eight Hours in a Crock Pot, with Bottles Nearby for Adding More at Random Intervals Cooking_with_Wine_Copyright_M-J_de_Mesterton

For a casual supper at my beach house, I once made meat sauce with wine and sliced seedless grapes, then put it on home-made pizza for a visiting family of Armenians. They loved it!


Tiny, Highly-Functional Kitchen


One doesn’t need lots of space to have an elegant, organized kitchen like the one pictured here. Things just need to co-exist in coherent fashion. Large, white appliances combined with lemon yellow, orange and lime green cookware can give a unified appearance; I call the effect “harmonious clutter”. All the many tools in this kitchen are used frequently, so there really is no wasted space.
Heavy French and Danish pans are hung on stainless steel carts with practical S-hooks from the hardware store, saving the home-cook lots of kneeling and heavy-lifting at low cabinets. Ladles, spatulas, can-openers and other essential kitchen tools are hung the same way for easy access.
Cookware-Cleaning Tip: stubborn stains on cookware, sinks and fixtures can be reduced or eliminated by scrubbing them with a paste made by combining cream of tartar and a little vinegar. This acidic mixture is often more effective than an abrasive chlorine-based cleanser.

@M-J de Mesterton, May 2017


M-J Clothes-Line, Luxury-Line
The Clothes-Line: Drying Clothing and Towels in the Sun Is One of Life’s Low-Cost Luxuries

Line-drying your clothes in the sun is one of life’s low-cost luxuries. Your clothes and towels will last longer than if they had been dried in a machine, which gradually weakens their constitution.

Here on the internet at my main website, Elegant Survival, I have been promoting outdoor line-drying since 2006.

©M-J de Mesterton 2014





Elegant Water Conservation

Flowering in the Desert

M-J’s Dry-Climate Garden with Cactus Zinnias, Sedum and Sunflowers
Water-Wise Gardening Photo ©M-J de Mesterton 2010

The price of water is going up, and its availability in some locations is scarce. There are some things you can do to keep whatever water you do have from going down the drain in vain.

Bathing usually uses less water than showering. Whether you bathe or shower, keeping the drain plugged will allow you to use this “grey water” later for other purposes.

Use the bath water to give your outdoor plants a drink. They especially like Epsom salts, a time-honored fertilizer in England.

Use a large, gallon-sized pitcher of bath water to flush your toilet. Pouring it down fast creates a flush; sometimes you will want to do this twice. A tubful of water can constitute twenty or more flushes. It works great.

While running water to get it hot, fill pitchers, glasses, any empty vessels you have handy until the water gets hot enough to use, saving the cooler water for drinking later.

When you bathe instead of shower, you usually use less water. To further enhance your water-saving program, carry the used bath-water outside in a large pail or pitcher to the garden. Plants don’t mind a bit of soap, and they especially adore Epsom Salts, which are well-documented as an effective fertilizer.

Water doesn’t grow on trees! In fact, there may come a time very soon when water is scarce. Look at the farmers in California who are not allowed to water their crops because of a tiny minnow that “must be saved”! I am more concerned about the future of the human race than I am about a useless minnow.
Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008

Good, Old Reliable Brillo; M-J’s Citric Acid Scrub

Still the most effective cleaning pads, Brillo will make your housewares look like new, when combined with a little elbow-grease. For steel wok pans in which stubborn oil and food stains persist, I have made a discovery: they will disappear quickly when you sprinkle them with a bit of granulated citric acid (available at drug stores) and a drop of oil. Mix the two ingredients by rubbing them together, which will form a bubbly paste, and scrub the pan with Brillo. The steel should now shine like it did when new. This method also works well with glass on which mineral deposits have formed.
©M-J de Mesterton

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Economical, Cooler Use of Your Dishwasher

When the weather is hot, use your dishwasher in the late evening, and turn off the heated drying feature. The glasses and dishes will dry naturally overnight. Your place will not heat up as much, and because heat has a bad effect on polymers, rubber and plastics, the items made with those components will last much longer without it.

©M-J de Mesterton 2010

Hand-Washing Shirts

Safe, Quick and Inexpensive Hand-Washing of Shirts and Blouses: the Alternative to Dry-Cleaning
Fine shirts are cared-for properly with hand-washing and line-drying.

Elegant Survivalist, by M-J de Mesterton


NEW from M-J: The Elegant Survivalist

Elegant Survivalist

My new site may be found here: ELEGANT SURVIVALIST–please visit it for regular updates on elegant dressing, elegant living, elegant cuisine, elegant gardening, elegant culture, basic survival tips and all things elegant. 

Thank you!

M-J de Mesterton,

Author of

Elegant Survival