I have experienced dizzying joy and success in life, and known what it feels like to lose my way and suffer great loss. I learned how to pick myself up and start over again. I didn’t and couldn’t have done it alone…I did it with a little help from my friends. If you measure wealth in friendships…I am a filthy rich woman.

I lost far too many of them…way too early. AIDS taught me very young not to take people I care about for granted. In fact, some of my lust for life comes directly from the desire to live it for them…as well as for me.

With Keith at my 28th birthday party in Paris
When I first got sober I read Keith Haring’s Journals. I found myself overwhelmingly sad that my drug addled mind had not been able to fully grasp what an amazing man my sweet natured friend was…while he was still alive. Ever since I have been acutely aware of how my living friends enrich my life and leave an indelible mark on the person I am today.
Have you ever stopped to think about the people that have been in your life…then huge gaping holes of time pass…yet coincidence, or the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it throws them back into your life with a message that can warm your heart and more? I seem to have a rash of those in my life lately…the latest came in the form of an email from a childhood friend whose father’s practice actually delivered me into the world…

Andi’s birthday party a lifetime ago
(I’m the one in the middle…notice the mouth full of food)
 


“Dear Jewels…It’s Andi Olsen (a.k.a. Andi Hirsch…kids in Des Moines…blah, blah, blah!). The last time we were in touch was when you ever-graciously invited my husband, Lance, and me over for dinner when we were teaching in London (back in the early 90s?). I just wanted to jot you a note of huge congratulations on all of your culinary accomplishments.

 

 

I recently googled some recipes and came across yours (amazing, and not tooooo difficult) and your blog, which is fantastic. I see by others’ comments, they feel the same way. I’m so impressed how you’re able to incorporate your richly-experienced past into your present, not living IN the past, but WITH the past as it informs your life now. What a masterful blending. And your anecdotes are humorous, wonderfully interesting, and poignant (kudos for instructing people on being respectful clients!)…”

Nothing like being remembered and validated by a friend to start your day!

The English Invasion of LA, Jan. ’09

One of the drawbacks to living in different countries and continents is your friends are often so far away. Facebook helped me reconnect with so many friends I’d lost touch with, keeps me up to date with the goings on in their lives, and …best of all…many of them have moved here or visit often! It is great to spend time with people I share a history with again!

 

hamming it up with Simon LeBon, and Claire Stansfield

They remind me of where I come from, how far I have traveled, and make me feel so loved through friendships that have endured many ups and downs through the years. Some have taught me to open my heart again, while others have inspired me to expand my horizons.

Ina, Laura, me, Joni, Sue, and Samantha at PCN gathering 2005

Some have even mentored me through my current career metamorphosis…including all my personal chef friends that have grounded me and taught me all I know about this industry.

Lorenza, Sam, Jean and the student of life

Then there are the newer friends that have been nothing short of life cheerleaders. Listening to my woes, encouraging me every step of the way, and making my world a better place to live in. Like I said…I am filthy rich with friends…which means I’d need a book, not a blog to mention you all. Thank you…you know who you are and how much I love you.

“…And back to that London dinner for a moment, it was pasta and red sauce, very delicious! When I called a day or two later to follow-up with a thank you, Nick answered the phone. Not sure if he ever relayed my message about just how much we enjoyed spending time with you, what a treat it was that you’d cooked for us, and how much we’d appreciated your generosity of spirit in having us over. At the time, I guess none of us knew you’d become a personal chef, but it made perfect sense even back then…I have this image of you in your kitchen chopping vegetables, stirring them over the stove, pulling the meal together effortlessly…your moves were adept and graceful (admittedly, cooking for me is more of a full-contact sport). You were definitely in your element….”

The pasta Andi described in her email:

Penne & Zucchini Arrabiata
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
  • 8oz penne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more if you prefer spicier
  • 4 small zucchini, chopped
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade or 2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan for serving
Directions:

1). Cook pasta according to package instructions, being sure to add enough salt to the water that it tastes like the sea, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

2). Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant but not browning. Add zucchini, and saute until starting to turn brown on the edges. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste; cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Add basil and oregano, and cook an additional 2 minutes.

3). Serve sauce over the pasta, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan if desired.

Serving suggestions:balsamic marinated vegetables, green salad, and/or garlic bread

Variations: I only had grilled zucchini in my fridge to use today, and the smokiness added an extra dimension of flavor. Another trick I love is to add some chopped fresh buffala mozzarella just as you toss the sauce with the hot pasta before serving.
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  • June 22, 2009
    11:26 am

    Dear Julie Anne,I have been a fan of Duran Duran for a long time and I had the pleasure to meet you back in the 90s in London.You have always been great and lovely to the fans so it wasn't easy to forget you… and we haven't!With real pleasure I discovered your blog and I found it very interesting.I passed along the news on the Duran Duran fan site I run, I'm sure fans will love to read about you 'cos you have been and still are in the earth of all us.Take care Julie. Salvo in Italythe life and times of duranastywww.duranasty.com

  • June 22, 2009
    1:50 pm

    "If you measure wealth in friendships…I am a filthy rich woman." Julie,I love all of your blog posts so much. Your message today about friendships came at such a perfect time. I just attended a Celebration of Life on Saturday for a friend/teacher to my daughters, fellow caterer….just one of those people that touched my life in many ways for the past 20 years. Scrolling down, how surprised and happy I was to see our Temecula gathering picture. I hope you know that you too, are one of those people that touch others and make them rich!

  • June 22, 2009
    6:09 pm

    Hi JulieAnne, I love your blog such a great combination of food, friendship and honesty -with great photos! I too am a student of life haha :) I chucked my corp. America job 2 years ago to go back to school at UCLA. I want to write children's books that teach them about different cultures & environments and also I want to make documentary films on aid work. Having lost friends and family over the years I tell people this -It does not matter what you say about someone after they have gone. It matters what you say to them while they are still here. So I try to live by that even though I am a quiet person. Last year my daughter Micaleh at 8 years old was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. So being a single mom going to school is alot on my plate but I am thankful for every day with my baby girl , she is a real fighter and my hero :) I will keep reading and drooling over the food pics :) Love N Peace, Penelope

  • July 2, 2009
    7:35 pm

    Jewels, i was so moved and touched by this post… you too are a valued and loved friend, i feel blessed to have you in my life xxx