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Optout Information

I wanted to share an important message regarding identity theft for all of you.  Many of you may have heard but just as I was reminded to register for the National Do Not Call Registry, because I receive a deluge of phone calls every day, I was reminded to Opt Out from my credit information being sold.  Our credit information is sold by the very own credit bureaus who track your credit information.

Apparently the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Innovis or Experian) have been capitalizing on your identity.  These companies have been collecting the inquiries that are made and are selling them to other lenders and “Name Traffickers” who will purchase and resell it – all without your permission.

Your name, address, phone number (including your unlisted number), credit score, your current debt, your history and property information are all being sold.  To protect your identity being sold over and over by the credit bureaus, you can remove your name from these lists.  You can either call 1-888-567-8688 or go online to OptOut. You must register either way at least 48 hours before you have your credit checked.  There are different time frames you can choose from but at least if you receive a phone call after your credit is checked, you will be aware of other lenders contacting you.

Before you apply for a loan, be aware that other lenders will coincidentally contact you (who have paid for these “hot lists”) to tell you that your information was “given to them” or "passed on to them" because they were able to offer much better interest rates and terms.  Yikes!  And a lot of the time, you never know your information has been given to a completely different lender.

You as the consumer must protect yourself and be aware of these tactics that are being done all the time.  Another bonus of registering your name with the optout program online or by phone, is that it also protects you from the pre-approved credit offers that arrive in the mail.  This is one of the leading causes of identity theft, not to mention, the number of inquiries made on your credit report that sometimes can lower your credit score.

I’m sorry to report that this practice of sharing, selling or swapping your information is legal.  They are considered just marketing tactics.  However, although you have the right to shop for the best service to meet your lending needs, YOU should be the one to choose and not without your consent or understanding on how it is being done. 

Also, for a free credit report you can check out your Annual Credit Report too. 

In season at the Old LA (Highland Park) Farmers Market

From Seth Budick:

Farmersmarket_8 My apologies to those of you who came in search of Jerusalem Artichokes last week only to be disappointed by their absence. Jan, of Frog Dog Farms, was sick last week, but promised me that she'd be back ASAP, hopefully this Tuesday! Meanwhile, we saw a variety of exciting new items at the market, including that most fragrant fruit of them all, the guava. When I was in Hawaii several years ago, I rarely drank water, despite the heat, because on every hike, I saturated myself with guava juice from the omnipresent ripe guavas lining the trails. Ever since, the scent of ripe guavas has embodied the tropics for me, so when I thought I detected that aroma, I followed my nose to Gama Farms booth, which overflowed with the small green fruits.

Guavas, in case you've never consumed them raw, range in color from green to yellow on the outside, with the flesh anything from pink to yellow to white. The interior is filled with soft pulp and many small seeds, which also range from quite hard to only slightly crunchy, depending on the variety. Many guava recipes will have you remove the seeds, but even if they are very hard, they can still be swallowed with no harm done. Gama Farms had both pink and white fleshed fruits last week, the white ones being slightly sweeter, based on the specimens I sampled. A few guavas at home will perfume your kitchen, begging to be consumed. I like to use them in a poached guava dessert, inspired by the amazing restaurant, La Casita Mexicana, in Bell. Cut 4-6 guavas in half and place them in a saucepan with 1C water and 1C sugar. Bring the liquid to a low boil and then simmer the fruit over very low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the guavas and place them in a bowl while you continue to reduce the syrup for another 10 minutes. Add the syrup back to the fruit, along with 1/2t vanilla (and 1-2T tequila, if you like) and then place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, the longer the better. Serve the guavas with syrup at room temperature, with a wedge of lime to squeeze over the fruit. Guavas contain an astronomical amount of vitamin C and are also rich in vitamin A and dietary fiber, so no guilt is necessary in enjoying this dessert.

In addition to guavas, you can now find both Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons at the market as well as the first tangerines of the season. If you're a persimmon fan, you know the difference between the crisp Fuyu, with its apple-like consistency, and the Hachiya, which is eaten soft, at which point it becomes juicy to the point of practically liquefying in your mouth. Gama farms was also selling prickly pear fruits (tunas) for the first time last week, along with the nopales, cactus paddles, that have been available for the last few months. For an up to date list of all of the produce available at the market, take a look at

This week, we'll be celebrating Halloween at the market with a haunted house, trick or treating, face painting and a costume contest. Patrons without costumes will not be allowed to purchase guavas, well, maybe they will, but join the fun at the market in costume or not.

As always, you can also pick up fresh bread, along with artisanal cheese and fruit preserves at the market. And if you come hungry, you need not go home that way, with roasted chicken, corn and potatoes, along with Korean barbeque and tamales vying to fill you up.

Please stop by the market for fresh, field-ripened, high quality produce from local farmers and spend time with your friends, neighbors and other community members.

The Old LA (Highland Park) Certified Farmers Market is located adjacent to the Highland Park Gold Line station at Marmion Way between Ave. 57 & 58 and operates Tuesdays from 3-8 pm.

Visit the market website at

-seth budick

Art In The Park - Dia De Los Muertos

Dayofdead2 Art in the Park presents The 11th Annual Dia De Los Muertos

Sunday, October 29th, 2006, 5:30-9:30pm -- Free Admission

5568 Via Marisol  --  at Hermon Park in the Arroyo Seco, by the tennis courts.

Authentic Altars, Dead Entertainment, Cemetery Procession, Art Workshops, El Huarache Azteca Tacos

This Years Theme: Legends in Art.  Friends of Southwest Museum Coalition will join in the observance of El Dia de Los Muertos with an alter ("ofrenda")  that memorializes the Southwest Museum elements of respect, intercultural diversity, homage to Charles Lummis and integrity.

For more information call: 323 259 0861


More Dia De Los Muertos Celebrations

Day of the Dead Celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetary

A local blogger's beautiful description of last year's Day of the Dead Celebration at Hollywood Forever 

$1 Trillion in ARMs resetting in the next 18 months

Many people chose to finance their purchases in 2003-2005 with an adjustable rate, interest only mortgage.  These not quite subprime loans and not quite A paper loans were marketed by lenders and Realtors as the "way to get in the game" in rapidly increasing markets like Southern California, the Northeast, Florida, and the Southwest.

What does "resetting" the ARM really mean?  Well, the rate charged by a lender for an ARM is based on two things:  the index plus the margin. Common indeces include the London Interbank Offering Rate (LIBOR), the Managed Treasury Average (MTA) and the Cost of Funds Index (COFI). The index is usually pretty close to what the bank's cost of money is. The margin is the bank's profit.  That is how you determine the TRUE rate on an ARM.

Borrowers elected to take two and three year "fixed rate periods" when they bought their homes to give them a bit of "payment safety".  That payment safety is about to turn into payment SHOCK!  Let me explain with a real life example:

I have a customer who bought a home and secured a $400,000 2 year ARM, interest-only, in 2004.  The loan was due to reset in September to LIBOR (around 5.4%) plus a 3% margin.  This means that his rate was due to go to 8.4%.  It would still be interest-only (for another 8 years) but his "start rate" was fixed at 4.875% for two years.  You can do the math.  His start payment was at $1,625 and it was about to adjust to 8.4% for the next year bringing his new payment to $2,800.  That's an increase of some 72%.  Now I don't care how high your income is, a 72% increase in ANY expense is traumatic.  I mean, at least it took three years for a gallon of gas to increase that much.

His refinance was REALLY hard because his home increased about 8% during that period.  We were able to get him into a 5 year ARM at 6% so his payment only rose $325.

Anyway, I digress.  Here's the really scary (or opportunistic) statistic.  There are $330 million in ARMs resetting in 2006 and ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in ARMs resetting in 2007.  Now, fellow lenders, don't lick your chops just yet.  These loans were made back when stated income was truly a "liars loan" and banks have really tightened up on those loans since then.  Prices have risen since then but most of these loans were backed up with HELOCs for 100% financing. 

I estimate that there is some $20 million per day resetting in Southern California for the next 15 months.  WOW!

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Wednesday, October 25, 7:00pm
Sugarbutterbex,  5110 York Blvd,
Highland Park CA 323.255. 0021

Friday, October 27, 7:00pm
Rock Rose Gallery, 4108 N Figueroa St,
Highland Park 323.222.4740

Noche de Palabra  (Night of Spoken Word) - Come and learn about the traditions of Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead) and to speak about your departed loved  ones. Learn a brief history of Dias de los Muertos, sacred  space and altar purpose, elements and creation. Contribute to the night by expressing your thoughts and feelings on departed loved  ones.


Thursday,  October 26, 5:00p-midnight
at Sugarbutterbex

Saturday,  October 28, 5:00p-midnight
Rock Rose Gallery

Dayofdead Noche de Ofrenda  (Night of Offering) - This is an opportunity to bring remembrances  of your loved ones and create your own  altar or contribute to the community altar.  Paper cut into small houses, as our theme this year is Coming Home, will be available to write a message  to a departed loved one or just your sentiments of the moment. Altars can be  simple or complex. We'll be there to help your create your own personal altar if  you've never done it before.

The altar de muertos is the ofrenda that  family and/or friends prepare for the annual return of their dead loved ones  that consists of the table or area decorated to hold the offerings (food, beverage, candies, etc.).


Sunday, October 29, noon - 4:00p
Acorn Gallery, 135 N Ave 50
Highland Park

Edith  Abeyta -- Sugar Skull Decorating  12-2pm
Jennifer  Murphy -- Paper Bag Calaveras Puppets  12-3:30pm
Karen  Lockert  -- Black Magic Pictures   12:30-2pm
Carol  Colin -- Chalk Drawing 1-4pm
Patty  Sue Jones -- Tin Painting  2-4pm
Karen Lockert -- Pumpkin  Carving  2-4pm

Tuesday, October 31, 5:00p - 1:00a
Wednesday/Thursday, November 1/2, 5:00p - 1:00a
Debs Park/Debs Lake,  4235 Monterey Rd,
Highland Park

Community  Potluck altar Exhibit /All  Styles Musical Jam
Saturday,  November 4, 6 - 8p // 8  - 11p
Rock Rose Gallery

Community Potluck / Altar take down
Sunday,  November 5, 5 - 7p
Rock Rose Gallery

Second Saturday Gallery Night
Saturday,  November 11, 7 - 10p
Rock Rose Gallery

2nd  Saturday  Logo Contest Winner / Virgen de Guadalupe
Saturday,  December 9, 5 - 7p // 7 - 10p
Rock Rose Gallery

Virgen de Guadalupe
Tuesday,  December 12, 7 - 10p
Rock Rose Gallery



In season at the Old LA (Highland Park) Farmers Market

Farmersmarket_7 This evening, after dinner, I literally offered a prayer of thanks for the Jerusalem artichoke, probably not inappropriate given it's name. Frog Dog Farms, our new herb supplier from Atwater Village, brought this vegetable to the market this week, so first, let's address the obvious question: its name. Jerusalem artichokes are actually a tuber, an enlarged underground stem, of a type of sunflower, hence their other common name, sunchokes. Crisp when raw, much like a water chestnut, the Jerusalem artichoke takes on a strong artichoke flavor when cooked. But what about the Jerusalem part? The plant originates in North America, where native Americans consumed what they called "sun roots." When Europeans encountered them, they used the word Girasole, Italian for sunflower, to describe the plant. From girasole to Jerusalem then wasn't much of a leap. (Thanks to wikipedia for this info)

All of this would be pretty irrelevant if the Jerusalem artichoke wasn't also absolutely delicious and almost impossible to prepare badly. This vegetable tastes uncannily like an artichoke heart, but instead of having to discard nine tenths of the vegetable to reach it, the Jerusalem artichoke is all heart. If you like artichokes, you're going to love this vegetable. I've been experimenting with these chokes all week and have come up with two recipes that will leave you wondering where this vegetable has been all your life.

One possibility is to boil the chokes (one bag from Frog Dog Farms, about 1 lb) in just enough water to cover them for 10-15 minutes. Drain the chokes and cut them into bite-sized pieces while sauteing 2 cloves of garlic, briefly, in 1T butter. Add the chokes to the butter along with 1/4C cream and cook over low heat, long enough for the sauce to thicken slightly (1-2 minutes). Serve immediately, dosed liberally with salt and pepper (thanks to Leon Brocard for this idea). If this recipe seems a bit gluttonous to you, dress the chokes with olive oil instead, but do try the butter/cream version at least once, just to see what you're missing. Another option is to slice the chokes thinly (about 1/4") and sautee (I hate to use the word fry!) them briefly (2-3 minutes/side) in olive oil, until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately, sprinkled with salt and maybe a bit of Frog Dogs' fresh chopped herb blend. The taste is like that of an artichoke heart french fry, if something so heavenly can be imagined. And if you are feeling gluttonous, a crispy Fuji apple for dessert from Johna's Organic Orchard will cure that.

I called supermarkets all over the NELA/Glendale/Pasadena area just to see if I could have found Jerusalem artichokes there if I had even wanted to. Ralph's: nope. Vons: sorry. In fact, I could only find 2 stores that sold them, one of which had just taken their last specimens off the shelf because they were "rotting" (yum!). The Jerusalem artichoke beautifully tells the story of why farmers markets are so valuable. You can introduce yourself to new, delicious, local foods, that are simply unavailable, if not at sky-high prices, anywhere else. The produce manager at one supermarket said that they might have them when they're "in season." In season where, my farmer next door is harvesting them now?

I've been recommending agua frescas a lot recently, so I would have liked to hold off this week, but I couldn't resist sharing one more idea. ZRanch this week brought honeydew melons to the market and, like cantaloupes, these make a magnificent agua fresca. Remember, just blend fruit with 1C of water and then combine with water and sugar in the ratio (roughly, to taste) 4.5 parts fruit:4.5 parts water:1 part sugar with a few fresh squeezed limes (preferably) or lemons thrown in.
Honeydew loves mint however, so toss a handful of mint leaves into the blender when you puree the fruit and you won't be disappointed (especially as the green of the melon blends beautifully with the mint). Serve over ice or makes an amazing cocktail mixer.

Overwhelmed by all the delicious possibilities? Take a look at for a comprehensive list of what you can expect to find at the market this week, as well as recipes, pictures and nutritional information on the produce available at the market. As always, you can also pick up fresh roasted chicken, corn and potatoes, fresh tamales and Korean barbecue at the market, as well as fresh bread, pomegranate juice and fresh fruit preserves.

Finally, get ready to get scared as Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year. The market will be transformed into a haunted harvest featuring games, face painting, a costume contest, trick or treating and much more.

Please stop by the market for fresh, field-ripened, high quality produce from local farmers and spend time with your friends, neighbors and other community members.

The Highland Park Certified Farmers Market is located adjacent to the Highland Park Gold Line station at Marmion Way between Ave. 57 & 58 and operates Tuesdays from 3-8 pm.

Visit the market website at

- seth budick