A Highland Park gathering for those interested in cooking, travel and ukuleles

Hillary Danner with customer/Brenda Rees

By Brenda Rees

For the second time in two months, the patio of Follerio’s Pizza on Figueroa was transformed into a mini-party for folks interested in cooking, community, art, books, travel and ukulele music.

Billed as “Fire and Ice,” the book-signing event featured two Highland Park authors – Hillary Danner and Roderick Smith — who signed their recent publications, talked up their topic and shook hands. Smith and Danner are neighbors who lived near Sycamore Grove Park and whose recently published books gave them the idea for holding a joint event at one of their favorite eating establishments. In fact, Smith’s artwork has been adorning the walls of the pizzeria for the last four years.

Painter and writer Roderick Smith/Brenda Rees

“Alaska Journal: An Artists’ Passage to Fox Island” recalls the Smith’s pilgrimage to Southeast Alaska in an homage of one of his favorite childhood books, “Fox Island.” The book features watercolors of landscapes that Smith created on his eight week sabbatical as he camped and traveled the rain forests and small fishing villages of Alaska. “It was a test of my spirit and art in the wilderness landscape,” he says of his deeply personal journey.

Equally personal is Danner’s cookbook “Sweet Heat” (which she co-authored with partner Maria Newman), which offers up tasty recipes for using her famed Jenkins Jellies (aka Hell Fire Pepper Jelly), a successful business that was inspired by the fruit trees in her Highland Park backyard. Guests sampled her seven chili jellies – regular, fig, passion fruit and guava – and the most common comment was, “Whoa! That’s hot!” The jelly’s arty labels are courtesy of Smith who designed them for Danner back when the jelly-making business was only a hobby.

Rounding out the evening were tunes from the Mele O’Hana ukulele group.

The “Fire & Ice” crowd./Brenda Rees

Brenda Rees is a writer and resident of Eagle Rock.

One comment

  1. HighlandPark Mo

    Would love some more information on when the next one is

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