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WeHo grapples with short-term rental regulations

But in the gig-economy, home-sharing is a lifesaver for some LGBT people

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Airbnb rooms and apartments for short-term rent is the subject of much discussion in LA County. West Hollywood City Council will chime in on the debate in December. (Photo Airbnb)

“Ridiculous,” Brad Keistler, a 75-year-old gay man who owns a multiunit property near the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, said. He was referring to a proposed 90-day cap on the number of room nights allowed for hosted short-term rentals (STRs) now before the WeHo City Council.

As you may be aware, how the home-sharing economy is affecting communities across the nation is a huge political football right now. The City of Los Angeles is considering a revision to its policies and cities from Palm Springs to Pasadena to San Jose have all drafted different laws.

Keistler said home-sharing is “good for so many reasons.” He enjoys meeting people from all over the world, saying, “I live alone and like the company.” For him, a 90-day restriction on hosted STRs would be “too restrictive.”

Yet despite references to the proposed 90-day cap, in truth, it’s not the only option. WeHo’s limit could become 180 days or even remain at the current complete ban on any STRs under 31 days, whether hosted or not. Hosted means the property owner (in some cases tenant) remains on the property. Currently the city has no plans to revise the ban on non-hosted STRs.

If Keistler had his way, there wouldn’t be a ban. He sees no need for it. It should be said that he is a “super host” on Airbnb with a “98% approval rating.”

But “super,” or not, he’s not alone.

Loren Lewis, a former model, lives in a condo her son owns on Kings Road south of Santa Monica Boulevard. Up until WeHo’s 2015 ban on STRs, and her homeowners’ association also prohibiting them, she rented out her second bedroom often.

While she said “I love, love, love doing it” and that she’s “met wonderful people,” she also added: “I need the money.” Prior to the ban, Lewis, a divorcee receiving no alimony, earned up to $2,500 per month renting out her second bedroom, three times what she received from Social Security.

Describing the proposed 90-day cap as “very limiting,” Lewis prefers no cap at all for hosted STRs. A limit, she said, “makes it hard to survive.”

According to Airbnb, “25% of hosts use STR income to avoid eviction or foreclosure” and “50% use STR income as supplementation,” to pay everyday expenses, such as those for rent, a mortgage, food and transportation. Hosts in WeHo, they say, also “earn $9,000 in supplemental income every year.”

WeHo, no stranger to the challenges presented the gig and sharing economy, is an aging city of mostly LGBT residents — a majority are 50+ — and many Seniors are forced to find creative ways to supplement their income.

Juan M.  (who asked that his last name not be used) is 68 years old and HIV positive. “My income producing years were robbed from me because of the AIDS crisis. I have no savings and will have to work to the end of my life,” he said. “But I earn almost half my rent by hosting out of towners in my little spare bedroom through Airbnb. If the city restricts that I’m forced out,” Juan, a renter who also drives for Uber and Lyft, told the Los Angeles Blade. “I’m not some rich landlord warehousing entire buildings full of luxury apartments for rent on Airbnb,” he added.

Juan, whose home is very well appointed and meticulously clean, says he vets his guests and requires more than a few days stay. “I look at their social media and google their names before I agree to allowing them to stay.  And I usually restrict to month long stays or more.  Lots of traveling nurses and creative people come to LA like that,” he said.  He charges up to $70 per night and say it is “life changing money for me.”

WeHo’s City Council seems to be listening to hosts’ concerns, those outlining the monetary necessity of STRs, as well as those admitting they just rent out a room for personal satisfaction.

Still, opponents raise many objections. They point to noise, like loud music and partying, traffic congestion and losing the peace of mind of simply knowing one’s neighbors. As for non-hosted rentals, the biggest issue is the reduction of available long-term rental units driving up rents.

Keistler said he’s had “no complaints from neighbors, so doesn’t really get the concerns” about safety or strangers renting from him. “Tourists just come here to sleep. They are out all the time.”
He added that Airbnb is “self-regulating.” Hosts and renters post reviews online after a transaction and stressed how that can “go both ways.” In his view, this mechanism generally ensures a high-quality customer because the community decides.

As for traffic concerns, Lewis said most of her guests “use Uber” so they have no car. And regarding safety, she is “cautious” about whom she rents to. There are “verification processes in place” – hinting at Airbnb’s online process – but acknowledged “concerns are legitimate if nobody is on the property.”

The difference between hosted and non-hosted may be the line in the sand.

Three random WeHo residents – who are not part of the home-sharing economy with any online service – were asked for their perspective.

Rafael Bunuel, who owns a home on Rangely Ave. in the WeHo West area, says hosted STRs are OK because he trusts his neighbors. Not so with non-hosted. “Who do I call if there’s too much noise…the renters or the police?”

And Michael Rosenblatt, who rents one half of a duplex in the same area echoed that concern about non-hosted, saying, “Who is going to rent it?” For hosted, he’s fine with it because he knows his neighbor on the other side of his wall would address any problems from renters.   

“For all I know they may already be doing it,” a middle-aged co-owner of a four-unit property just north of Pavilions in WeHo said. Preferring to remain anonymous, he was referring to whether his neighbors rent out their homes or spare rooms for STRs.

For him, there is no correlation with issues like noise or safety. Based upon his experience living in various areas of LA, such concerns may be more of a problem with long-term renters.

“It’s not about renting short term,” he said, “it’s about the people.” In his view, people coming to WeHo for STRs are generally professionals in need of corporate housing, or tourists with high incomes, two demos he is not worried about.

How are other cities handling this issue? According to information provided by Airbnb, Pasadena “allows hosts to list up to two properties if they are both at the host’s primary residence” and San Jose “has no limits on hosted primary residence stays [and a] 180-day cap on un-hosted.”

Similarly, the City of Los Angeles, also now considering room night bans of various lengths, currently “allows a cap of 180 days per year on non-hosted and no restrictions on hosted,” as per Airbnb and confirmed by the Los Angeles Blade.

While Llano of Airbnb would not state what West Hollywood should do outright, she did ask rhetorically: “How can the city come up with a plan that would allow the most number of people to benefit from home-shares?”

 

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Thai-inspired pork meatball soup

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – By and large, while I am prone to periods of hyper-fixation when it comes to cooking and baking (Mexican oregano and deep frying are two recent obsessions) I do not believe in “secret ingredients” or taking shortcuts in the kitchen. Exceptions, however, apply. 

Chief among them might be fish sauce. In fact, I searched for “fish sauce” on the Los Angeles Blade and found many of my food columns, including a range of soups (a puréed and curried butternut squash, brothy pho, Korean Tteokguk); beef-based stews (chili, Vietnamese bò kho); Asian-American classics (cashew chicken, ramen); Italian pastas (rigatoni pomodoro, lasagna, amatriciana); and even a celery salad. 

You could make most of these dishes without fish sauce, though I warn they would not be as tasty. In this Thai-inspired pork meatball soup, however, consider the ingredient mandatory

Pick up a bottle of my preferred brand, Red Boat, which is made in Vietnam and contains just two ingredients, black anchovies and sea salt. You can find it in most grocery stores and on Amazon. 

Today’s dish is inspired by a chicken meatball soup by Ali Slagle that was recently featured in New York Times cooking and was itself inspired by tom kha gai. A fabulous Thai soup generally consisting of chicken and mushrooms that are cooked in a broth made of chicken stock and coconut milk, tom kha gai is flavored with galangal root, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, Thai chilis, palm sugar, fresh lime juice, cilantro, and, of course, fish sauce. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Galangal is difficult to find, even in Asian grocery stores. When I get my hands on all the ingredients, though, I will be making tom kha gai for a future column. 

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, grate a 4” piece of peeled ginger root, 6 cloves garlic, and 1 jalapeno. Add one whole bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, torn or toughly chopped. Add 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon MSG (optional), and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend on high for a couple minutes and transfer to a large bowl
  2. Add 2 pounds ground pork (or a mixture of ground pork and ground beef). Use your hands to combine but do not overmix. Use your hands or an ice cream scoop to make 2” meatballs 
  3. Set broiler to high. When oven is preheated, transfer meatballs to a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook until well browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove and set aside
  4. In a cast iron pan or Dutch oven, add 2 cups homemade chicken broth and 14 ounces coconut milk, along with ½ teaspoon granulated white sugar and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and continue simmering for another 3-5 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 3-5 ounces baby spinach and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Garnish with cilantro, lime wedges, and thinly sliced jalapeno. Serve with jasmine rice

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Buttermilk biscuits with cherry preserves

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – Good evening, friends. I could have shared recipes for gametime snacks and hors d’oeuvres but instead I am continuing my yearly tradition of ignoring the Super Bowl. 

Somebody call me if Taylor Swift gives a subliminal message endorsing President Biden, whatever that might look like, when the cameras are trained on her. 

Instead of the football, I will be watching Martha Cooks – Martha Stewart’s four-season series that I recently just discovered is steaming on Freevee. A few highlights from the episodes I have seen so far: 

Eleven Madison Park owner Daniel Humm tried mansplaining morel mushrooms to Martha. Daniel, darling, she has been growing them on her property in Bedford for years. I knew this before she even said so. 

When visiting a fish purveyor in New York City for an episode about bagels and bagel toppings, Martha took my breath away by starting a sentence with: “When I was at my lawyer’s son’s bris…” as though it were the most normal thing in the world. 

And during an episode in Season 1, longtime Stewart aide Sarah Carey made a cataclysmic mistake by bringing Martha a lemon that was far too large for the lemon juicer and instead required the more capacious orange juicer. Dee-saster. 

If this doesn’t sound more enthralling than the Super Bowl…well, I don’t know what to tell you. 

What I love most about Martha is her expertise. Her adroitness. Her perfectionism. She is always in search of a better way to juice a lemon or peel garlic cloves or truss a chicken or decorate a cake. 

I find these qualities admirable. Especially these days. 

We are in the golden age of what I recently heard someone call bowl-eries. Restaurants are serving poke bowls. Harissa avocado bowls with chicken. Any combination of grains, veggies, and a protein. And then when it comes to trends in home cooking, we are in the golden age of crock pot meals and Instant Pot dishes and one-pot this and five-ingredient low-carb that. 

No, thanks. Instead, I am going to attempt Martha’s orange almond cake with Italian buttercream. It looks really difficult to pull off but also delicious. 

Anyway, to make a long story long, she is my inspiration behind this week’s dish: Perfect buttermilk biscuits with cherry preserves. Biscuit recipe courtesy of Melissa Clark/New York Times Cooking. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Heat oven to 425° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 230 grams all-purpose flour, 50 grams cake flour, 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons granulated white sugar, and 1.25 teaspoon salt
  3. With a pastry cutter or fork, cut in 8 tablespoons chilled and cubed unsalted butter. Make a well in the center and pour in 1 cup chilled buttermilk. Stir together until dough begins to form, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 2 or 3 times and pat into a three-fourths inch thick round
  4. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut the biscuits. Cut straight down without twisting the cutter. Dust the cutter with flour in between each biscuit to prevent sticking. Pat together scraps and cut into rounds. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet
  5. Melt 1-2 tablespoons butter and brush overtop the biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes 

Serve with cherry preserves: Pit and roughly chop 1 pound cherries. Cook in a nonstick skillet with ½ cup water, 6 tablespoons granulated white sugar, and the juice and zest of half a lemon for 20 minutes or so until thickened to your liking.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

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Shopping

Valentine’s Day gifts for the queers you love

From pasta and chocolate to an Aspen getaway

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Share the love on Feb. 14 with our thoughtful Valentine’s gift picks for everyone you like and lust.

Centrolina V-Day Pasta Kit

Washington, D.C.-based Centrolina’s seasonally inspired restaurant menu gets the delivered-to-your-door treatment with Chef Amy Brandwein’s holiday gift baskets featuring four handmade pastas and from-scratch sauces, including heart-shaped beet ravioli with ricotta and lemon butter, a mushroom and black truffle ragu, sunchoke tagliolini and oyster cacio pepe, and chestnut pappardelle, among other elevated-Italian recipes that you and your lil’ meatball can whip up on date night. $175, CentrolinaDC.com

La Maison du Chocolat

Heart-shaped candy clichés are much more palatable when the contents within are made in Paris instead of Hershey, Pa., and your intended will be sufficiently satisfied with La Maison du Chocolat’s selection of premium confections – including melt-in-your-mouth ganaches, pralinés and bouchées, oh my – available in festive and indulgent 14- and 44-piece boxes. $60-$140, LaMaisonDuChocolat.com

‘Spread the Love’ Plantable Pencils

SproutWorld’s set-of-eight Love Edition pencils set themselves up for seed-spreading jokes given Cupid’s context, but the real sentiment is sweeter: Plant the lead-free, graphite writing utensils (engraved with romantic quotes on certified wood) in potted soil and enjoy striking flowers and fragrant herbs in one to four weeks. $15, Amazon.com

W Aspen Getaway

Missed Aspen Gay Ski Week? No sweat. You’ll fight fewer crowds as the season winds down – without compromising your commitment to luxury – during a late-winter getaway to the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains at the W Aspen. Book unforgettable outdoor adventures, like heliskiing and dog sledding, with the property’s always-available concierge; spend après hour on the rooftop WET deck before diving into delicious dishes at onsite restaurant 39 Degrees; see and be seen at Ponyboy, the property’s cocktail-focused modern speakeasy rooted in New York City nightlife; and pour yourself a nightcap from your in-room mini bar before relaxing in the suite’s deep soaking tub – because, ya know, all in a day’s work. Marriot.com

Nexgrill Ora Pizza Oven

Not a fan of fancy dining out? Slip into those grey sweats he won’t let you wear in public, top off the Veuve, and fire up Nexgrill’s Ora 12 portable propane pizza oven wherein a to-temp cordierite baking stone will cook your personalized pies to perfection at up to 900 degrees. That’s burnin’ love, baby. $299, HomeDepot.com

‘Just Happy to Be Here’ YA Novel

Have a they/them in your life excited to expand their winter reading list? Gift a copy of Naomi Kanakia’s newly published YA coming-of-age novel, “Just Happy to Be Here,” about Tara, an Indian-American transgender teenager seeking quiet support and acceptance within her school’s prestigious academic group but instead becomes the center of attention when she draws the ire of administrators and alumni. $16, Amazon.com

Perfect Pairings 

Set it off this Valentine’s Day with a curated selection of wine and spirits, including the Pale Rosé, created by Sacha Lichine, of Whispering Angel fame; Flat Creek Estate’s red-blend trio, featuring the 2017 Super Texan, 2018 Four Horsemen, and Buttero; Ron Barceló’s Imperial Premium Blend 40th Aniversario rum; and the Bourbon Rosemary cocktail-in-a-can from Spirited Hive. $17-$199

Moon Bath Bomb

Stars aligned for that little meet-cute you told everybody about on TikTok, and you can trust the universe to provide ample relaxation when you plop Zodica Perfumery’s Moon Bath Bomb in the tub – there’s a specific formulation for every sign, which promises vibe-setting aromatherapy, activated charcoal for deep cleansing, and skin-soothing olive oil for the self-love glow-up you’ve been waiting for. $18, ZodicaPerfumery.com

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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Advice

Tips for strengthening your relationship

On Valentine’s Day, recommit to tackling challenges together

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This Valentine’s Day, take these steps to strengthen your relationship.

Working as a couples therapist, I’ve had many people tell me over the years how difficult they think it is to have a happy relationship. “The divorce rate is over 50%.” “It’s so much work.” “If it’s this hard, something must be wrong.”

Here’s some very good news: The high divorce rate and the number of failed relationships you see around you need have no impact on the success of your own relationship. 

While building and maintaining a healthy relationship takes effort, doing so is possible, and the ongoing challenge of finding creative and loving ways to handle tough challenges can actually be fun. 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are my top suggestions for steps you can take to have a great relationship. 

Please keep in mind that while these steps are simple in concept, they are not always easy to practice. So don’t get discouraged. And remember that if you consistently work at doing your best in your relationship, doing so will likely get easier over time.

  • Strive to always have a sense of humor about how difficult relationships can be.  We’re all different in big ways, so of course it’s hard to share your life with someone at times. If you can keep this in mind instead of thinking “this should be easy,” you will actually have a much easier time navigating the challenges of being coupled. 
  • Avoid wanting to be “right.” By this, I mean both trying to prove to your partner that you are right, and simply maintaining the belief in your mind that you are right.  Wallowing in this belief gives you a sense of superiority, competition, and grievance, all of which are corrosive to your relationship. In addition, if there is a winner in the relationship, there is a loser, and that’s a terrible dynamic for a couple to have.
  • Aim to be generous: Be open to saying “yes” to your partner’s requests whenever possible; endeavor not to keep score on who has been more generous; and make it a priority to support your partner’s happiness. And at the same time:
  • Have a boundary when necessary. When you say “no,” do so from your integrity, not from scorekeeping or spite. This means understanding why something is important to your partner, while at the same time being clear that something different is even more important to you that requires saying “no” to your partner’s request.
  • Accept that disappointment is inevitable in every relationship. Because we are all different, we will at times see, understand, think, prioritize, and behave in ways that are very different from our partners, including on important matters.  Therefore, it’s inevitable that we will occasionally be gravely disappointed in our partners, just as they will be gravely disappointed in us. That’s life.  Accepting this truth can make it easier to bear. 
  • Advocate for what is important to you. Two caveats, though. First, you don’t want to weigh down the relationship with too many requests. Second, be prepared to not always get what you ask for. It is not your partner’s job to meet your every want.
  • Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move when you want something to happen. If both of you are waiting for the other person to go first, nothing will happen.  This includes (but is absolutely not limited to) apologies, initiating sex, planning vacations, and starting hard conversations.

On a related note:

  • Focus on what you can do to improve a situation, rather than on what your partner is doing, is not doing, or should be doing. We don’t have much power over the other person, but we have a lot of power over ourselves.

A special note for gay men: Open relationships appear to be practically the norm these days, but they are tricky to conduct well. (Yes, monogamy has its own challenges.) Jealousy, messy boundaries, dishonesty, and trust issues get easily activated. If you want to build a strong open relationship, be aware that doing so takes a lot of skill, a lot of honesty, a lot of acceptance, and some ways of keeping your primary relationship special. 

Also keep in mind that being a gay man doesn’t automatically provide skills such as:

  • The solidity of self to be trusting and generous.
  • The ability to sense how far boundaries can be pushed without doing too much damage. 
  • The capacity to transcend feelings of jealousy and pain. 
  • The strength of character not to idealize outside sex partners.

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day!

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Chicken pot pie

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – Chicken pot pie was one of the first dishes I attempted to make as an adult. Memorably, I used Paula Deen’s recipe. This was before we knew about her casual use of the n-word. It contained approximately a quart of heavy cream and four sticks of butter. 

All these years later, when I show my friends photos of the food I am now making, they remind me of the time I made and served them what became known, in our group, as the “colon blow” chicken pot pie. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but for like three weeks none of us were doing butt stuff because our butts were otherwise occupied.

Now that I’ve made everyone hungry, let’s talk about this week’s dish: A deeply savory version of the old classic, full of fresh herbs and topped with puff pastry. Rather than using precooked chicken (picked from a rotisserie, for instance), we are using raw bone-in, skin-on thighs. Why? 

Because the fat renders into the skillet, making for a very chicken-y roux. And the dark meat is almost impossible to overcook. (No shade, but you’re not after the dry, tough cubes of chicken breast that you will find in a Marie Callender’s microwavable frozen pot pie.)

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. Season 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  3. Heat a 12” cast iron or oven safe, high sided skillet on medium. Add butter and chicken fat (if you have it) and cook the thighs skin side down until well browned, about 10 minutes. Flip and cook for another 10 minutes. Transfer to the oven for 10 more minutes, remove and set aside
  4. Add more butter or oil if needed and cook 2 cups chopped shallot and 6 cloves minced garlic for about 3 minutes. Add 5 stalks celery, chopped on a bias and halved lengthwise if they’re large. Season with salt, pepper, and MSG (if you have it) and cook for another 8-ish minutes
  5. Add ½ cup dry white wine and cook for a minute. Add ¼ cup flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Slowly add 3 cups homemade chicken stock, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Add heavy cream (as much or as little as you like) and stir to incorporate
  6. Remove bones and cartilage from the chicken thighs and shred the meat and skin with your hands. Add them to the skillet along with ½ cup finely chopped parsley and ¼ cup chives. Add ½ cup each of frozen peas and carrots
  7. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper if needed

Roll out puff pastry and place it atop your skillet. Brush with an egg wash and cook for 30-40 minutes

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Pumptinis & goat cheese balls for #PumpRules

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – I am so Vanderpumped for the return, on Tuesday, of everyone’s favorite EMMY NOMINATED unscripted reality show, where we will find our heroes reeling from the #Scandoval that rocked their relationships and captivated the nation.

A group of people posing for a photo

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The author, ThurVERYgood Marshall, LVP (Photo by Chris Kane)

During the White House Correspondents Association dinner last year, my date (& spiritual rabbi, baking muse, supporter of shenanigans) and I were rushing to reach our seats before the President took the stage as we ran into the queen herself, Lisa Vanderpump, who was gracious enough to let us take a photo. 

Ariana, we’d have loved a photo with you too, girl, but we were among the last of the people who were still standing in the ballroom of the Hinckley Hilton by that point and there simply was not time. 

Vanderpump does not get enough credit for her business acumen. She and Todd built a restaurant empire with dozens of successful spots on both sides of the Atlantic, a feat that does not happen without some real talent (and considerable work ethic). 

Such was my internal monologue after biting into this fried goat cheese ball with mango sauce – a recreation of perhaps the most famous menu item at SUR, Vanderpump’s West Hollywood restaurant (and, we all know, the stage for #Pumprules). 

The restauranteur was kind enough to share the recipe on her and daughter Pandora’s blog, Very Vanderpump. She also told Today how to make SUR’s signature cocktail, the Pumptini. Today, I present both as an homage and tribute timed for the start of Season 11. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Goat cheese balls

  • Divide 8-10 oz goat cheese into evenly sized pieces and form each into a small ball. Season with salt and pepper
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 4 egg yolks 
  • In another medium bowl, add 1.5 cups dry panko breadcrumbs 
  • Coat each cheese ball with egg, cover evenly with breadcrumbs, reapply egg mixture, and roll again in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate 
  • Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours (or freeze for 30 minutes)
  • Add neutral oil to a large saucepan to a depth of 3-4 inches. Heat on medium until it reaches 350° F. Fry, at once or in batches depending on the size of your pan, for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined drying rack

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Mango sauce 

  • Blend: ¾ cup mango, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt

PumptiniMuddle 3 raspberries with ¾ ounce simple syrup. Add ¾ ounce orange liqueur, ¾ ounce grapefruitjuice, ¾ ounce limejuice, 2 ounces vodka, and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with raspberries and/or limes

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Religion & Faith

“God called me out of the closet,” Bishop Gene Robinson

“Sunday Morning” senior contributor Ted Koppel talks with Bishop Robinson about his quest to live an authentic life

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Veteran political journalist and broadcaster Ted Koppel recently interviewed Bishop Gene Robinson at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Washington D.C.'s gayborhood of Dupont Circle. (Screenshot/YouTube CBS Sunday Morning)

WASHINGTON – (CBS) In 2003 he became the first openly gay bishop in all of Christendom, when the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson the 9th bishop of New Hampshire. Death threats followed, but so did a shift in the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the church.

“Sunday Morning” senior contributor Ted Koppel talks with Bishop Robinson about his quest to live an authentic life; and with other gay bishops serving today whom Robinson calls his legacy.

Watch:

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Snowy, cold & icy? Lets go to Mexico! Chilaquiles

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – For the uninitiated, chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish with a base of fried tortillas that are softened a bit with green or red salsa or a tomato sauce. From there, you can add a protein, from pulled chicken to a fried egg, and garnishes galore. 

My first experience with chilaquiles was nothing short of sublime. I was in Oaxaca City, a place teeming with world-class eats, having breakfast with some of my best friends at the restaurant in their beautiful boutique hotel. 

Ken and Erick, thank you again for getting married in such a magical place. Take me back! (Look at these cuties.) 


Y’all…these chilaquiles are almost as good as the ones I had in Mexico. You should make them. They taste even better than they look. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Cut 6-8 ounces corn tortillas into tortilla chip-shaped wedges
  2. Fill a wok or high-sided skillet with 2 inches of neutral oil and heat to 375° F
  3. Fry tortilla wedges a handful at a time for 45 seconds to one minute, stirring constantly. Use a skimmer to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack. Season with salt
  4. Blend a 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with one shallot, roughly chopped, and a 7-ounce can of chilis in adobo sauce. Season with salt and pepper and MSG (optional but encouraged)
  5. Thinly slice a large onion into rings. Put half in a bowl and cover with freshly squeezed lime juice. Put the other half in a large cast iron or high-sided skillet with 4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed, and 4 tablespoons neutral oil. Season salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes
  6. Add blended tomatoes and chilis and cook for 5-8 minutes. Add a cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until your sauce is thickened. Taste and add more salt if needed
  7. Add your fried tortilla chips and toss to coat evenly. Simmer briefly and then remove from heat 
  8. Heat another tablespoon neutral oil in a cast iron or nonstick skillet. Fry 3-4 eggs until the edges are crispy but the yolks remain bright orange and runny. Transfer them to your other skillet with the tortilla chips and sauce. 
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Serve garnished with the onions you pickled in lime juice along with any or all of the following: lime wedges, crème fraiche, queso fresco, pulled chicken, cilantro, sliced avocado, and sliced fresh or pickled jalapeño

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Advice

When one half of a couple wants kids and the other doesn’t

How to navigate the biggest decision spouses will make

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Dear Michael,

I’m wrestling with my fiancé about becoming parents and it’s delaying our getting married.

We’ve been dating for three years and would like to spend our lives together. But the issue of becoming parents has always been a source of disagreement for us.

Will says he has never been that interested, while I’ve always wanted to be a dad.

Will says he is willing to do it if it’s important to me but he’s really concerned he will be resentful. He doesn’t want to give up having an active social life that includes going out a fair amount, drinks, dinners, and vacations with our friends, lots of time at the gym, etc. 

I like doing those things too but I’m feeling that I’m at a stage of my life (I’m 31) where I can put a fair amount of that behind me in order to focus on creating and raising a family. I wish he would also be willing to do so, but I know I can’t change his priorities.

I am hopeful we can work this out. For starters, I think that since he wants to go out more than I do, I could stay home a fair amount of the time and take care of the kids when he’s doing what he wants to do.  

Also, we are both pretty successful and could afford a fair amount of child care (especially as we advance in our careers—and we’re not going to be having children right away) so I’m thinking we could have a nanny who could take care of the kids when we want to stay out late or go away for a weekend, or even come with us sometimes when we travel so that we’re able to also do what’s important to Will and not just be with the kids at every moment. 

I’m thinking we can have the best of both worlds.

Will’s not as optimistic as I am and this worries me. I think I’ve come up with some good solutions and would like him to be supportive and on board. He says he doesn’t think it’s that simple but when I press him for what that means, he won’t say.

I don’t feel like we can get married until we’ve figured this out. What are your thoughts for how we can get to a place of agreement on this?

Michael replies:

If you and Will are going to build a successful long-term marriage, you both will need to develop your ability to discuss hard topics, including your differences of opinion on important matters.  Otherwise, you will have a lot of resentment, anger, and misunderstandings over the years.

Your current gridlock is an opportunity for both of you to work on tolerating hard conversations and the possibility of tremendous letdowns. This isn’t fun, but it’s an essential part of being in an intimate relationship.

My hunch is that Will won’t give you a straight answer because he doesn’t want to let you down. You can’t force him to tell you what he’s thinking, but perhaps you can get his answer by letting him know that you want to know what he’s thinking, even if what he’s thinking may gravely disappoint you.  

For you to have this conversation with Will, you will have to mean what you say: You must be prepared for him to tell you that he doesn’t want to be a father.

Unless Will is willing to parent with an open heart and without resentment, going forward with parenthood would be a mistake. The resentment would be corrosive to your relationship and would damage any children you might have. Children should never be made to feel that they are a burden or annoyance to a parent.  

Let’s look at your thoughts on making parenting more palatable for Will. 

With regard to your idea that the two of you could frequently go out and travel, while leaving the kids with a nanny: Good parenting is time-intensive. Especially in the early years, it’s vital that you consistently convey to children through your presence and actions that you are there for them, that you love them, and that they are your top priority.  This is how children develop a “secure attachment” — the bedrock of strong self-esteem, a sense of security that comes from inside, and the ability to form healthy relationships.  

I certainly don’t mean being present every minute — obviously, most parents have jobs, rely to some degree on childcare and babysitters, and need some time to occasionally have at least a bit of a life apart from being a parent. And I can’t tell you exactly what “enough” is, other than to say that parents should generally be the ones to wake their children up, feed them at least some of their meals, take them on adventures, bake cookies together, just hang out, read books to them, do the bedtime routine, and be there in those middle-of-the-nights when a child needs comforting.  

Your idea of staying home while Will does his thing seems like a quick road to resentment. Do you think you’d be happy wishing him a fun night on the town while you’re staying home for the umpteenth time with a sick or wound-up toddler who refuses to go to sleep, or simply stuck doing the bedtime routine solo, yet again? Moreover, it would be awful for your child to have a sense that one of his or her parents is somehow distant or unreliable. You want to aim for your kids to feel like they are the apple of your eye.

Here’s an idea: You are apparently doing all the work to figure out how to make parenting easy on Will. How about asking Will for his ideas on what it would take to make parenting something he’d be willing to do? Perhaps if the two of you collaborate, you could find a way forward that works for you both. 

On a related note, talking with parents (gay and straight) of young children about their experiences would be helpful and eye-opening to you both in all sorts of ways. 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Autos

Retro rides: Dodge Hornet PHEV, VW ID.Buzz Microbus

Everything old is new again

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Dodge Hornet PHEV

A new year means new vehicles sashaying into dealer showrooms. But for 2024, retro is in, with nostalgic nameplates like the Dodge Hornet and VW Bus proving everything old is new again. Between you and me, though, let’s leave the Cadillac Cimarron, Ford Edsel and anything remotely resembling a Yugo as footnotes to history. 

DODGE HORNET PHEV

$41,000

Electric-only range: 33 miles

MPG: 74 MPGe (electric/gas), 29 MPG (gas only)

0 to 60 mph: 5.6 seconds

Cargo room: 54.7 cu. ft. with rear seats down

PROS: Stylish, comfy, peppy

CONS: Snug, bit bouncy, pricey

IN A NUTSHELL: According to automotive lore, the first Hornet (1905-1906) was a short-lived, two-seat runabout from Horner & Sons. Then came the British-built Wolseley Hornet (1930-1936, and again 1960-1961). Next up, the Hudson Hornet (1951-1957), available as family sedan, coupe or convertible. The performance-oriented coupe—nicknamed “Fabulous Hudson Hornet”—would rule the world of stock-car racing and establish the Hornet’s daredevil image. AMC created its own Hornet (1970-1977), but this time for a blah compact car—a sibling to the butt-ugly Gremlin. To be fair, one of the best movie stunts ever is James Bond performing a corkscrew car jump over a Bangkok river while driving an AMC Hornet. 

Now, after a decades-long hiatus, Dodge has resurrected the Hornet name for its all-new subcompact SUV. While this latest Hornet debuted as a 2023 model with a gas engine, the buzz this year is the addition of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)—the first ever from Dodge.

The Hornet PHEV comes in two versions: R/T and R/T Plus. Both pack plenty of punch, with twice the horsepower of many competitors. Use the paddle shifters to activate the PowerShot system, which adds an extra 30 horses for even more oomph. Alas, this feature—which allows the Hornet to boast muscle-car acceleration—lasts only about 15 seconds before the system needs to cool down for another 15 seconds. 

But no matter the speed, the standard all-wheel drive and premium Brembo brakes keep everything under control. One handling complaint: Because of the short wheelbase, there is some annoying bobbing up and down over large potholes. 

Built on the same platform as a tony Alfa Romeo Tonale, the Hornet shares similar design cues, including chiseled side panels, narrow LED headlights and high roofline. But only the Hornet has two sleek, functional hood scoops. 

Inside, the Alfa ambience continues with a nicely sculpted dash, flat-bottom steering wheel and scooped-out center console. Even the door handles and infotainment system look the same in both vehicles. 

As with all hornets, beware the sting. In this case, it’s pricing: A fully loaded Hornet R/T Plus can easily approach $55,000. 

VOLKSWAGEN ID.BUZZ MICROBUS

$55,000 (est.)

Range: 260 miles

Fast-charge time: Up to 80% in 30 minutes 

0 to 60 mph: 7.5 seconds

Cargo room: 138 cu. ft.

PROS: Fun colors, fun styling, fun ride 

CONS: Limited appeal, limited production, limited trim level 

IN A NUTSHELL: Legend has it that a Dutch businessman sketched the VW van after visiting a Volkswagen plant in 1947. Two years later a prototype was built, and the first Microbus rolled off the production line in 1950. 

Production ceased in 2014, but only after countless variations were built—many with beds, sinks, tents, picnic furniture, surfboard racks and the like. This proud symbol of the counterculture hippie movement of the 1960s likely has been in more movies, TV shows, and magazine ads than there have been Grateful Dead concerts (2,300-plus so far, for all you Jerry Garcia fans). 

While technically a 2025 model, the all-electric VW ID.Buzz arrives later this year. The chassis is from the ID.4 electric crossover, but everything else is new. Groovy colors include Cabana Blue, Mahi Green, Pomelo Yellow, Energetic Orange and more. 

The space-age cabin has an “Orville” vibe, with a large 12.9-inch touchscreen hovering over the dash, 30-color ambient lighting and an expansive windshield. The accelerator even has an audio/video “Play” symbol engraved on the pedal, while the brake pedal is engraved with the “Pause” symbol. Too cute? Well, maybe… 

Two trim levels, but only the long-wheelbase model will be sold in the U.S. That means three rows of seats, with optional captain’s chairs in the second row. The front seats even come with a massage function. Oh, and the optional panoramic sunroof with electrochromic tint can change from opaque to clear with the swipe of your finger. Shagadelic, baby!

While the Dodge Hornet R/T can trace its lineage to at least one fast and fabulous forebear, fans of this new VW can thank generations of Deadheads for spreading the love about the original bus. But crank up the sublime 14-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and this new VW suddenly channels another far-out ride: “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

VW ID.Buzz Microbus
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