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Leslie's List: California Skiing, Dashi, and the Prettiest Pantry

The best things to eat, do, and read this week.
Leslie's List-Recovered EDITTED

This to-do list is culled directly from my own calendar and interests. Most everything on the list can be done no matter where you live, but because I live in L.A., my "Do" each week will spotlight a unique L.A.-based event or activity. If you're inspired by any of these tips or have some of your own to add, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Do small

This weekend, a friend of mine had the best idea: to take a spontaneous ski day at Mt. Baldy. It blew my mind how easy and completely amazing it was. We simply purchased a ski lift and rental package for $75 online (which is crazy cheap for skiing) during the 45 minutes it took to get there. The thing that makes Baldy so special is that it's still a secret—most people hike there in the summer, but drive to Big Bear for skiing in the winter (which is a much larger mountain 1.5 hours out of the city). It's secluded, but impressive considering its size, and even though we were less than an hour from the city, it felt like we were in a tiny, rural ski town. Don't be surprised if you become friends with nearly everyone who works at the mountain—and say yes if they invite you to Buckhorn Pub at the end of the day, which is run by a man they all affectionally call "Grampa" (if that gives you any indication of how cute this town is).

Eat small

I've always wanted to be the type of person who makes their own homemade chicken broth, but the time commitment of 4+ hours of simmering combined with the responsibility of saving and properly storing chicken bones just never pans out. Recently however, I've gotten really into making batches of dashi, a Japanese seaweed-based broth (think: miso soup). It's incredibly easy to make—I just simmer kombu or wakame seaweed (available at Whole Foods) in 8 cups of water for 10 minutes, then add a cup of bonito flakes and simmer for another 5 minutes, then strain it. I keep it in the fridge for the week and use it as a base for simple vegetable soups (like miso soup with tofu and simmered vegetables), or cook rice in it to add some flavor. It's a delicious and healthy option to always have on hand.

Read small 2

When The Elegance of the Hedgehog was released in France nearly ten years ago, it became an almost immediate bestseller, but hasn't quite hit mainstream here. I first came across it during a post-grad journalism course (I was the only one in a lecture hall of lit nerds who hadn't read it), but finally came around to reading it last week. It's a dense, but short book about a concierge in Paris who becomes friends with a girl in the building where she works. Written by philosopher Muriel Barbery, it gets a little heady, but it's a beautiful book.


Am I the last person to see American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson? I finally started watching it this week since it was released on Netflix at the beginning of the month and I love it. I already know a pretty good amount about the case, so I assumed I wouldn't find it interesting (plus, we all already know the outcome), but it's so well done and captivating that I had to remind myself I wasn't watching a documentary. It's prime binge-watching material. And if you already watched it and loved it—get excited. Three new seasons are already in development for 2018 (am I also the only person who didn't realize it's a spin-off of American Horror Story?). The next season stars Annette Bening and will focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I already can't wait.


Last week, one of my favorite podcasts, RadioLab featured highlights from a new project on Brook Gladstone's podcast, "On the Media." The five-part series, called "Busted: America's Poverty Myths" addresses, well, myths created around poverty. If the title sounds dry and boring, I promise it's not—it's reported in such an interesting way, with such attention to detail. Each episode is only about 20 minutes long and is filled with fascinating tidbits that made me rethink American history and what it means to be "lucky" or "successful." Fun fact: Did you know Benjamin Franklin originated the term "rags to riches," because he made his money from a paper factory that turned actual rags into paper currency? Literal rags to riches. See? Interesting stuff!


I am in a constant battle with my pantry. Even though I "spring clean" it fairly regularly, it always reverts to being a total mess by the end of a long week. Last weekend, I took inspiration from this post and organized all of my grains and pastas in Weck jars labeled with white paint pens and it looks beautiful. There's definitely room for improvement, but it's helped enormously with the part of the pantry I use most during the week. I'd love to hear if you have any other tips! 

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