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The Peppermill Las Vegas by Jesse Bluma

The Peppermill Las Vegas

I was recently in Las Vegas, Nevada for a friend’s birthday.  One of the restaurants I wanted to revisit was the Peppermill.  I had not been to one since family vacations, as we stopped at the one in Sacramento, California.  The Sacramento location closed years ago.  The location in Vegas has the same ambience, best described as a 1982 upscale diner.  The Peppermill is open 24 hours, serves ample portions of short order food, and is decorated with fake trees and neon lights.  Think Mel’s Diner meets neon 1980s meets It's a Living, minus Ann Jillian.  


* “MASERATI OMELET:  A superb omelet bursting with sausage, Jack and Cheddar cheeses and mushrooms, smothered in a perfect Italian meat sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  Huge omelets served with hash browns, your choice of toast or English muffin, piping hot blueberry or bran muffin, or toasted bagel with cream cheese.”  I suggest the blueberry or bran muffin and substitute with egg whites.  

*  You may wish to share a meal with someone else at your table, as the portions and sides make for large eats.  Or you may wish to take your leftovers back to your hotel room refrigerator or find a good candidate sleeping on the street to feed.  An ugly truth to the Las Vegas scene, as commercials and brochures do not picture the men and women living on The Strip.  

*  If you happen to be staying at The Cosmopolitan, Paris, Aria, et cetera, it is best to take the Las Vegas Monorail to the Peppermill end of town.  This will save a lot of time and energy, and in addition prevent you from getting sick in the extreme Vegas climate.  

“Peppermill Fireside Lounge:  The Fireside Lounge at the Peppermill.  Voted one of the ‘…places to see’ by Casino Magazine, Best Cocktail Waitress’ by Las Vegas Magazine, Best Exotic Drinks and Most Romantic Bar by Menu Magazine.  Las Vegas’ original ultra lounge, The Fireside lounge has a vibe that must be experienced.  Peppermill Restaurant:  The Peppermill Coffee Shop – Voted Best of Las Vegas year after year.  Centrally located on ‘The Strip,’ the Peppermill is a great location for breakfast, lunch, dinner, weddings and parties.”

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Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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Tspoons Cooking School: Chef Thanitra “T” Pichedvanichok

Tspoons Cooking School 
Pointe Viven - Jesse Bluma. All rights reserved.

I recently attended a cooking class at Tspoons in San Juan Capistrano.  Prior to that many people told me it was a great experience, so I was finally glad to make it.  A cooking class at Tspoons is good for those with little food knowledge and fun for those that are more advanced.  A great idea for friends, dates, or family.  One tip:  Check with others that you are going with for food allergies, then let Tspoons know to make substitutions in their prep work.  Also, a good idea to bring a bottle of wine for you and your party to share.  

The night I attended was Italian cuisine.

Green Pea Ravioli in Lemon Broth
Chicken Marsala
Butternut Squash Risotto with Shaved Parmesan

“Tspoons is a unique cooking school that specializes in hands-on cooking classes, as well as, customized cooking parties and team builders. At Tspoons, students apply essential skills and techniques taught in class and receive hands-on instruction from our Chef Instructors. A variety of daily cooking classes, featured guest Chefs, technique classes and skills workshops are offered for adults, teens, and children.  Chef Thanitra “T” Pichedvanichok was born in Bangkok, Thailand and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 5 with her Thai mother and Vietnamese father. Chef T’s parents lived and traveled extensively around the world and exposed her to world cuisines that later played a significant role in her life. At an early age, Chef T found that she had a passion for food and a talent for cooking.  In 2008, she opened the doors to Tspoons, a unique cooking school where food enthusiasts and aspiring teen chefs receive hands-on instruction and learn to cook in a professional, fun and relaxed setting. Chef T currently shares her culinary talents at Tspoons in addition to teaching at various venues. She continues to pursue her love for travel, international cuisines, and culture and embarks on a new adventure each year.”

Butternut Squash Risotto with Shaved Parmesan

Chicken Marsala


I forgot to take a picture of my Green Pea Ravioli in Lemon Broth.  
Here is one of the recipes we made.  

Butternut Squash Risotto
by Tspoons Cooking School

(Yield: 4 servings)

• 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into √≥ inch cubes
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
• 4 cups vegetable stock, hot
• 2 oz. unsalted butter
• 1 yellow onion, minced
• 1 cup Arborio rice
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
• Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing
once, until very tender. Set aside.
• In a pot, melt butter and saut√© onions on medium-low heat for about4 minutes, or until onions are
translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter.
• Add wine to deglaze and cook for 2 minutes until half of the wine has evaporated.
• Add half of the stock. Stir, and simmer until the stock is completely absorbed, about 6-8 minutes. Add
one more cup of stock and stir until completely absorbed then add remaining stock (each time stock is
added, makes sure to cook until the mixture seems a little dry, before adding more stock. Continue
until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 20 minutes total.
• Once rice is done, turn off heat and add the roasted squash and Parmesan. Mix well and serve

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41 Olive: Olive Oils and Vinegars

41 Olive:  Olive Oils and Vinegars
Pointe Viven - Jesse Bluma. All rights reserved.

“41 Olive's Oils and Vinegars are crafted from the finest ingredients throughout the world. We help bring the flavors from other parts of the world to your home, by "fuzing" the most natural fruits and vegetables including; Real Strawberry Vinegar, Thick Dark Chocolate Vinegar, Natural Earthy Basil Oil, Premium 18-year Aged Vinegar, Hot and Tempting Chipotle Olive Oil. Mixed with 41 Olive top talented on-site teachers, 41 Olive brings a deliciously international sophistication back to your home.”

I was recently having lunch with a friend and stopped in to 41 Olive.  We spent a good amount of time testing many flavors and speaking with the on-site teacher.  If you have not been to 41 Olive, think Baskin Robbins for olive oil and vinegar.  Prior to going to the store or making a purchase from afar  I suggest having a plan of attack.  Do you prefer savory or sweet?  What specific dish are you making?  How much will you actually use?

My Favorites

EVOO:  Manzanillo

Infused Flavors:  Basil

Traditional Balsamic (four favorites):  Raspberry, White Peach, Vanilla, and Red Apple

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California Cookies by Jesse Bluma

California Cookies

A great combination of texture and flavors with chocolate and almonds.  These cookies honor the heritage of the state that dominates in growing almonds.  Sandwich two California Cookies with a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream for a fantastic treat.

Gourmet treats by Jesse Bluma at PointeViven
using organic ingredients and inspiration
from California, Central, and South America.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pointe Viven - Jesse Bluma. All rights reserved.

These cookies are a sweet marriage of indulgence and health conscious.  A satisfying and flavorful combination of oatmeal and chocolate chips.  Made with organic ingredients in small batches.

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made with excellent ingredients and 
quality control.

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State Superintendent’s Education Technology Plan Task Force

State Superintendent’s Education Technology Plan Task Force 
Pointe Viven - Jesse Bluma. All rights reserved.

As Californians we all have many reasons to care about what students are taught in school.  This survey is your opportunity to be heard by decision makers in state education.  If you are a student, then you have obvious reasons to care what you are legally required to learn.  If you are an employer, then you have reason to care what your future employees will know how to do.

“The California Department of Education is rewriting the Education Technology Plan. Here is how you can contribute to this important work:  Review the recommendations received from the Superintendent's Education Technology Task Force, Comment on the recommendations.  On March 17, 2012, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson appointed 48 volunteers to become members of his Education Technology Task Force. Gathering advice from the Task Force was the first step in the State Superintendent's effort to update the Education Technology Plan approved by the State Board of Education in 2005. Task Force members presented their findings August 2012. The State Superintendent and his staff will embark on a statewide tour in September to accept public comment on its findings. And in the late Fall of 2012, the department will draft a new Education Technology Blueprint. All drafts will be posted here for public comment. The final document will be released in early 2013.”

Sample letter:  Here is a synopsis of the feedback I sent to the task force.

1.  The state standards should require students to learn the negative impacts of technology on brain development, writing skills, social skills, the art of communicating, artistry, and craftsmanship.  

2.  Technology at each grade level should not be limited to computers and cell phones.  The state standards should include at each grade level computer science, programming language, computer architecture and engineering, safety and security, software engineering, hardware/computer parts vocabulary, and good uses for technology across various fields (science, math, medicine, business, exploration, archeology, home, art, health, fitness, military, construction, etc.)    

3.  Technology is a not a magic pill.  The state standards should require students to learn that technology has a positive factor of .37 on learning, while Self-reported grades: students predict their performance 1.44, Reinforcement 1.13, Teacher Education 0.11, Students prior cognitive ability 1.04, Students disposition to learn .61, Parental aspirations for children’s educational achievement .80, Home factors .67, Home environment (socio-psychological) .57, Parent involvement .46, Transiency/mobility -0.34 (that is a negative), Television -.12 (that is a negative).  

4.  The state standards should require proper care, cleaning, and maintenance of technological devices to prevent the spread of germs and disease by multiple users and to extend the life of products.  

Take a moment to share your feedback with the California Department of Education.

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¡Alerta!: SuperShuttle v. Prime Time Shuttle by Jesse Bluma

¡Alerta!:  SuperShuttle v. Prime Time Shuttle   

Travel, vacations, and weekend trips can be excellent experiences.  Need to relax?  Visit Costa Rica.  Need some fun?  Visit Las Vegas.  Need some adventure?  Visit Australia.  After you spend hours arranging planes, hotels, rental cars, luggage, pet care, and home you then need a way to get to the airport.  The possibilities include asking a friend, relative, parking your car at the airport, taking a taxi, taking a limousine, maybe taking a subway.  A common way is booking a shuttle van.  An airport shuttle is a great concept.  Get picked up at your door, taken to the airport, picked up at the airport, and returned home.  It must be a challenging job to coordinate all the pick ups and drop offs.  It is also probably extremely difficult to work with many of their drivers.  Some shuttle services promise an “on time guarantee”.  Read the fine print though, that is typically for getting you to the airport.  Coming home can be, and is mostly, a different experience.  Like you, this has happened to me several times.  

After a memorable trip, rest, relaxation, and fun, you arrive at the airport and wait to be taken home by the shuttle van.  You wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  Sometimes it is waiting for the van to come and sometimes you are seated on a van and wait until the driver fills up the other seats.  This can take and has taken longer for me than the drive home.  What happened to that relaxed, refreshed vacation feeling?  By now you are wishing you had asked your ninety-year-old grandma to pick you up.  I have had a few awesome van drivers, which I appreciate.  Most have been an adventure themselves, such as the one that almost drove into the freeway median five times, the one that could not find the address of another passenger, and the ones that always seem to drop off other passengers sixty seconds from my house then travel twenty minutes south to drop off other passengers, only to drive all the way north again to drop me off.  Is this to say I won’t ever utilize another shuttle service?  No, it does make me look for other alternatives that may work better considering time and other circumstances.  Overall I would rate Prime Time Shuttle slightly better for customer satisfaction over SuperShuttle.  Although both have made me wait hours to go home.  If you have a good, fair, or poor experience with these services contact them and let them know.   

SuperShuttle:  “In 1983, SuperShuttle pioneered the shared-ride airport ground transportation concept with the opening of its Los Angeles, California operation. Today, SuperShuttle is the premier shared-ride airport transportation service in the United States, providing door-to-door service for over 8 million passengers per year. Currently, SuperShuttle provides service to and from 39 airports and over 50 cities and has approximately 1,200 distinctive blue and yellow vans on the road.  SuperShuttle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Veolia Transportation, a global leader in the transportation industry. Veolia Transportation has over 125 years of experience operating bus, rail, shuttle, & taxi systems in 27 countries worldwide. In the US and Canada, Veolia operates 120 locations, and has 16,000 employees and franchisees. Veolia has a track record of valuing its employees and customers and of providing reliable, quality transportation services.”

Prime Time Shuttle:  “PRIME TIME SHUTTLE has been providing quality airport ground transportation service in Southern California since 1984. Back then, as a leader in the newly emerging rideshare industry, PRIME TIME set the standard, as far as innovation and quality as more and more people discovered this new method to get to and from the airport. In those early years of rideshare, most rideshare shuttle companies focused their attention on the transfer of out-of-town visitors to their hotels, usually in the downtown area. They avoided picking up passengers from their homes because it was more a complicated form of the business. It was a lot harder to assure that every person would get to their flight on time when they were not being picked up on the ‘reliable hotel route.’  Sensing the need to provide a quality and reliable rideshare service to the residents of Southern California, PRIME TIME SHUTTLE became a pioneer in the development of the operational software necessary to take reservations and dispatch vehicles with an efficiency and accuracy that was previously unknown. PRIME TIME quickly became the company that could be depended on to pick you up 'On Time' from your home, office or hotel.  Today, in addition to continuing to set the highest quality standards, PRIME TIME remains the only shuttle service in Southern California to offer an On Time Guarantee.  We're on time or your ride is free!”

Artisanal goods by Jesse Bluma at PointeViven
using organic ingredients and inspiration
from California, Central, and South America.

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Tengo Calor: Time for a New Thermostat? Honeywell RTH6350/RTH6450 Series

Tengo calor:  Time for a New Thermostat? 

I recently installed a new thermostat for my home.  This was after the installation of a new furnace.  Isn’t it funny how after you replace one thing another thing needs replacing?  A thermostat controls the temperature, much like an oven or stove have temperature controls.  Thermostats (Thermos is Greek for “hot” and statos for “standing”) operate both heating and cooling in homes, offices, schools, etc.  Next to the wheel this may be the most important invention.  Warren Johnson is the one we can all thank for his invention of the electric thermostat in 1883.  Many innovations in thermostats have occurred since Johnson’s 1882 invention, thus it is important to do some research before purchasing and installing a thermostat.

There are hundreds of choices to make when selecting a thermostat, quite a first world challenge.  Ease of use, style, and efficiency are a few characteristics to consider.  There is a price difference with each model and function.  

Types of Thermostats

 1.  Manual:  simple controls

 2.  Programmable

There are various kinds within these two categories.  

A.  Multistage Heat Pump Thermostat:  A multistage heat pump is a heat pump with auxiliary heat or emergency heat, and this device acts as a backup when temperatures significantly drop. (Usually these are found in condominiums and apartments)

B.  Mechanical Thermostats:  Easy to use and generally less expensive than their programmable counterparts. A mechanical thermostat provides simple control of your heating and cooling system, so if you're looking straight-forward temperature control, there's no better choice. 

C.  Line Voltage Thermostats:  Control the electricity directly, thus the name "line voltage." If you have a baseboard heater, electric wall heater, or resistive electric heater, you may require a line voltage thermostat. These thermostats are generally made for either 2 wires (SPST) or 4 wires (DPST - more common). 

Compatibility - Types of Systems

 1.  One Stage:  Separate heating and air conditioning.  Single stage thermostats work for gas systems with or without an air conditioner, oil heating system; hot water, electric furniture, millivolt, central air, or single stage heat pumps. Overall, a single stage thermostat will work on most 24 volt systems with less than 6 wires connected.

2.  Two Stage:  These have high and low speeds for heating and cooling.

3.  Direct Line Voltage – 110 or 240 direct current power source used in some older homes to power the thermostat.

4.  24mV – For use with a fireplace, floor, or wall furnace.

5.  Zoned HVAC - Heating and/or cooling is individually controlled in different areas from the same HVAC system.


1.  7-day programming – Allows you to program each day of the week separately. This option is perfect for today’s busy family with different schedules every day.

2.  5-2 programming - Allows you to set a standard program during the week while you’re at work and another program for the weekends when you’re spending more time at home.

3.  5-1-1 programming – Allows you to set a standard program during the week in addition to separate programs for both Saturday and Sunday. A great option for families with a structured weekend schedule.

4.  1-week - Allows you to set one basic program that runs all week long.

*Those living in mild climates such as coastal California, Costa Rica, or South Australia may be able to select a more simple thermostat, as it may not be something that gets a lot of use. 

Styles and Functions

1.  Digital Thermostats:  Today's modern digital thermostats use electricity to achieve precise temperature control and optimal comfort. 

2.  Non-Programmable Thermostats:  Non-programmable thermostats are great if you're looking for an easy, no-frills way to control your heating and cooling system.  Simply set it to your desired temperature and adjust it down or up as you desire.  (These are generally less expensive and may well work for you.)

3.  Touch Screen Controls: Simple touch-sensitive controls put the ability to alter settings right at your fingertips.

4.  Selectable Program Periods: Allows you to set temperatures for different time periods and at various points during the day to fit your specific needs.

5.  Backlit Display Panel: Allows you to see what you’re doing clearly in low- or no-light environments for easier operation.

6.  Indicator Lights: Some programmable models have a feature that lets you know when the furnace needs a new filter or the battery is low.

7.  Battery Operation and Backup: Ideal for older homes where the required wiring may not be readily available. For properly wired homes, a battery backup system eliminates the need to reprogram thermostats after a power failure.

8.  Remote Programming and Controls: Removable interface lets you program the unit in a more comfortable location. Units with radio frequency remote controls can be changed from anywhere in the house.  Phone applications are another feature to consider.

9.  Keyboard Lock: Models with a keyboard lock prevent children and others from tampering with established settings.

10.  Vacation Mode: Allows you to temporarily set your heating and cooling for maximum energy savings while you’re away on vacation and revert back to normal settings when you return with the push of a button.

11.  Filter-change Reminder:  This convenient feature tells you when the furnace or A/C filter needs changing based on elapsed time.


Prior to buying a thermostat, or other products, it is a good idea to read reviews and ratings.  Consumer Reports is one place to start.  Special Note:  A little research can go a long way.  Sometimes you can find ratings by Consumer Reports on other sites, without having to pay for a subscription.

“1933:  Arthur Kallet, an engineer and director of Consumers' Research, and Frederick Schlink, an engineer, publish ‘100,000 Guinea Pigs: Dangers in Everyday Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics.’ It is "intended not only to report dangerous and largely unsuspected conditions affecting food, drugs, and cosmetics, also, so far as possible, to give the consumer some measure of defense against such conditions.  For complete Ratings and recommendations on appliances, cars & trucks, electronic gear, and much more, subscribe today and have access to all of”

Removal and Installation

1.  Slowly and carefully remove the old thermostat.  The new thermostat may come with small stickers to label any wires.  This will make installation of the new one easier.  Additionally, you may wish to photograph the installation of the old unit before totally removing it, this will remind you where the wires will go on the new unit.  

 2.  Look for how to dispose of your old thermostat.  Some thermostats contain mercury and other items that should not be disposed of in the regular trash.  

3.  Read the directions before installing your new thermostat.  Yes, this is a pain and can sometimes confuse you more than when you started.  If that is the case, check online for further instructions and tips on the maker’s website and other websites.  

4.  If you select the Honeywell Programmable Thermostat RTH6350/RTH6450 Series like me then you may need to turn the A/C on by first pressing the far right button to system cool, then press the arrow down to the desired temperature.  A/C off --press the far right button to system off and wait a couple minutes for the system to shut down.  

Artisanal goods by Jesse Bluma at PointeViven
using organic ingredients and inspiration
from California, Central, and South America.

Order online or contact me for catering.

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