"The funniest, truest
book I have read
about the music business."

           - James Patterson

Into the Malibu House of Malevolence…(part 2)

Posted in cooking, dogs, Malibu, Music, production, wildlife by Susan Hamilton on January 14, 2014 1 Comment

At some point during our last summer in that Malibu house we decided to move. We’d made our peace with the creatures, spirits, etc., but it was time. I was busy writing and producing songs and jingles, with an entire album on the horizon. We found a house just across the canyon that was bigger and better suited for the newly-expanded family (it’s the one we eventually sold to Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). It was only after we’d made the decision that the native wildlife rebelled. They didn’t want us to leave — and certainly didn’t want to have to deal with new, less understanding humans.

They began to act out.

First, Nag and Nagaina decided to raise a family in the backyard. (No they weren’t Indian cobras; they were well-fed native Southern Pacific rattlesnakes). The gardeners killed Nag, and proudly brought me his corpse. That left Nagaina. Naturally, she was pissed.

One morning I followed Maggie, our Airedale puppy, into the kitchen.

Maggie the Airedale puppy


The door to the back patio was wide open. Suddenly a terrifying buzzing sound reverberated throughout the room. I thought, “Insects? Hmmm. No. . . Rattlesnake? YES!”  Nagaina was coiled, set to strike, on the mat just outside the door.

I screamed “NO!” at Maggie as she moved in to investigate, grabbed her by the hips and yanked hard as I kicked the door shut. Nagaina’s fangs pinged against the glass.

But she didn’t leave. She stayed on the mat, glaring at us inside. Shaken, I called Michael at work, and he sped home. Malibu rattlerHe grabbed a shovel, snuck around back, and when she turned toward him, whacked her head off with it. The still-snapping, severed head, full of venom, almost got him as it shot past his elbow.

Now, I’d read about the rattlesnake round-ups and barbecues they hold annually in Texas, so I thought, “What the hell!  I’ll give it a try.”  I didn’t have a recipe, but had heard ‘it tasted just like chicken,’ so I chose a lemon/mustard/olive oil marinade. First, though, I’d have to gut and skin the thing. More…

An Irving Berlin Christmas look…

Posted in Christmas, dogs, New England, pop music by Susan Hamilton on December 24, 2013 No Comments yet

Christmas is at last here in New Hampshire.  Our little town of Wolfeboro maintains a definite Irving Berlin Christmas look to it.  Unfortunately, last week’s fluffy white snow has now turned into limb-breaking sheets of ice on our driveway, steps and deck. Even the dogs with their FOUR legs are having a hard time staying upright: splaying and skating all over the place (they don’t seem to mind).

An Irving Berlin Christmas look with the house all lit up in the snow

…we light up the place…

Most years we light up the place like this, although there was the one year when we returned from a Thanksgiving trip to the other coast to find the gutters so cemented with ice More…

What to Cook For Christmas Dinner? (part 2)

Posted in Christmas, cooking, dogs, New England by Susan Hamilton on December 20, 2013 No Comments yet

(A Prime Rib Primer – Conclusion)

prime rib roast after aging at home



Twas the Night Before Christmas Dinner and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… (well, except for you) as you sneak downstairs to rub the marinade you made earlier in the day into your now perfectly dry-aged prime rib roast.  If it looks a little leathery, try not to worry: everything’s going to be fine.

Marinade for prime rib

(get out the food processor with the metal blade)

6 cloves peeled garlic

2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt

1 ½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 heaping tablespoon dried thyme leaves

2 tablespoons roasted fennel seeds (toss in small skillet over high heat ‘til fragrant)

3 tablespoons olive oil

 Note: these quantities are for a 5 rib roast – halve them if you really only want a 3 rib…

With the motor running, drop the garlic cloves one by one down the chute. Watch them pulverize and stick to the sides of the bowl. With a rubber spatula, scrape them down and add the olive oil and salt. Run the motor again while pouring the fennel seeds down the chute. Let it run for a minute or so to crush the seeds a bit. Scrape down again, add the pepper and thyme — 3 or 4 1-second pulses and you’re done!

Put in small glass bowl, cover and set aside for later that evening (no need to refrigerate).

Late Christmas Eve, massage the rub into the meat, digging into every little crevice with your More…

What To Cook for Christmas Dinner? (part 1)…

Posted in Christmas, cooking, dogs, New England by Susan Hamilton on December 17, 2013 No Comments yet

Gatsby in the morning snowIt’s a little after 7 am — 5° outside, and it’s barely daylight. The three big dogs have already been out, racing each other to see who can pee the fastest and get back into the house. The two cats barely got within two feet of the cracked open door before — with tails angrily switching — they scurried down to the basement to its furnace room and their cat box.

We are expecting our first major snowstorm (9 to 12 inches of light fluffy snow) and I’m sitting with my Keurig cup of black coffeeSchanuzers in the morning snow  — too lazy to fire up the Rancilio and make myself a cup of Illy cappuccino (which is what I really wanted). I’ve got to get to the store before the flakes fly…

Living in a tiny tourist town in New Hampshire, you have  to plan ahead for holiday meals. The closest large supermarket is about 50 miles away… A comprehensive list is mandatory; there’ll be no dashing down the street for that important, exotic ingredient you forgot.

I’ve already decided that the big Christmas feast this year will be English: dry-aged prime rib, individual Yorkshire puddings, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes au jus and a Lawry’s salad.  Lawry’s salad, you ask?

Both Michael and I grew up in the Los Angeles area.  And both of us spent a certain amount of time back East.   We didn’t meet until the early ‘90s, but one thing we had in common was our fond childhood memories of Lawry’s Prime Rib Restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The spinning ice cold bowl of Lawry’s salad as the waitress (yes, waitress) simultaneously spun and poured just the right amount of Lawry’s Sherry French dressing was a treasured dramatic interlude that led up to the main event. More…