Monday, June 29, 2009

Tyler Florence working the grill































I've worked a bunch of food festivals in my life. Let me tell you, they are hard work.  You have to prep and serve food in a 10' tent while everyone is inches away.  It's always in the summer when it's hot. You're sweating and your customers are right there.  And the reason you're there is because you want them to love your food and come buy it someday. So you have to have your happy "sell, sell, sell" face on!

So here we are at the Mill Valley Food & Wine Festival. Tyler Florence is a new resident in Mill Valley with a gorgeous flagship store, so of course he is here.  

There is a huge line to his booth. The woman in front of me tells me that he is unorganized. It's taking too long.  I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I know how hard it is to run a kitchen from a tent.

We finally get to the front and are served a yummy grilled sandwich with brie, fresh strawberries, a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a strawberry garnish. Yum-my. 

It was definitely worth the wait.

Thanks, Tyler!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Olives and Figs

A few years ago Don and I went to a really fun wine tasting party at a friends house in Tiburon. The husband (whose name I cannot recall at the moment) was in the investment banking business. He took the ferry from Tiburon into San Francisco for work. He often found himself waiting for the ferry in the evening so he would hang out at the Wine Bar in the Ferry Building. 

I think he did this quite a bit, because he became friends with the owner and the bartenders. So much so, that he decided to host a wine tasting party at his house one evening. He hired his favorite bartender to coordinate the evening with wine and food pairings.

Everything was really yummy because "the husband" hand picked everything to be served. He and his wife Gabriella are Spanish, so the theme was spanish wines and appetizers. It was here that Don and I tasted olive and fig tapenade for the first time. Yum-my. Sweet figs and salty olives combined together. Sounds kinda weird. But tastes really good.  So of course we asked the guy how he made it. He told us he buys the ingredients at Whole Foods. He combines ready made olive tapenade with fig spread. So we tried it and it was yummy. 

Ever since then I've seen it in many stores already pre-mixed together. And some of them taste pretty good. 

Here's a recipe I just found to make it yourself.  I haven't tried it yet.  But I just might this weekend.

1 cup pitted nicoise olives or other brined black olives
1 cup mission figs cut in quarters
1 T capers
1 large garlic clove crushed
3 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 t fresh thyme

Blend the figs in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add the olives, capers, garlic and thyme. Pulse until blended but still has a slightly coarse texture. Add the lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until serving.  Keeps 2-3 weeks. Best if made 1 day in advance.

Try the dip with Lesley Stowe's Raincoast Crisps (pictured above). They are Don's latest discovery.

Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

So Sad

Yesterday we lost two icons from my youth. The first was Farrah Fawcett.  One of Charlie's Angels. We were in awe of her as kids. She was beautiful, famous and married to Lee Major's, the Six Million Dollar Man. They were about as cool as it gets. And her hair.  Wow, we all wanted that hair. At the time she seemed like the all American girl success story.  Girl from Texas makes it big in Hollywood.

Then later in the day we got word that Michael Jackson had died. What!!?! Our office went nuts. A bunch of us are about the same age - in our 40's. We grew up with Michael.  We lived through every phase. Suddenly I felt very old, when I learned he died of cardiac arrest. I remember when the Thriller album was released. There was nothing like it. And the video was the first of its kind.

They played Michael's songs on the radio on the way home.  I had tears in my eyes when they played the early songs, "ABC" and "I'll be there". I remember dancing to "Beat It" in college and just loving Michael Jackson.  We even wore white socks, jeans and penny loafers to be just like him. One of my friends at work went a little farther and had the jacket and glove.

I know they weren't perfect. But neither am I. I have really fond memories of both. And I'm sad that they are gone. 

Rest in peace Farrah and Michael.

I found these lyrics to "I'll Be There." 

You and I must make a pact
We must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I'll be there

I'll reach out my hand to you,
I'll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there

Chorus:
And oh - I'll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you
I'm so glad that I found you
I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength, I'll keep holding on
Yes I will, yes I will

Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, well that's all I'm after
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be there to protect you
With an unselfish love I respect you
Just call my name and I'll be there

(Chorus)

If you should ever find someone new
I know he'd better be good to you
'Cos if he doesn't, I'll be there

Don't you know, baby, yeah yeah
I'll be there, I'll be there, just call my name, I'll be there

(Just look over your shoulders, honey - ooh)

I'll be there, I'll be there, whenever you need me, I'll be there

Don't you know, baby, yeah yeah
I'll be there, I'll be there, just call my name, I'll be there... 


                         ---- # # # -----
: ( Bye Bye Michael

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yummy cupcakes from Kara

Every month our office celebrates birthday's by hosting a pizza, salad and cupcake lunch. Everyone looks forward to it. We all stand around eating too much pizza and salad, and then we mosey over to the counter where the cupcakes are. 

At first everyone stands there staring at them. They are so beautiful, lined up so perfectly in the box. Almost too pretty to eat.

Then you have to decide which one you're going to choose. Are you in the mood for chocolate, vanilla, coconut or something fruity? The cupcakes are always moist and yummy with the best frosting you've ever tasted. You finally decide.....and then you take a little bite of heaven. aaaah. 

  1. Sweet vanilla - vanilla cupcake with sweet madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting
  2. Chocolate Velvet - chocolate cupcake with a velvety bittersweet chocolate buttercream
  3. Java - chocolate cupcake with a rich espresso buttercream
  4. Banana - banana cupcake with silky soft cream cheese frosting
  5. Sweet Chocolate - chocolate cupcake with a sugary sweet chocolate frosting
I always check to see if there are any left after lunch is over so I can bring one home for Elli. She's a big fan of the Chocolate Velvet cupcake.

Lucky for us, today there were a bunch of cupcakes leftover at the end of the day!  I brought 3 home. One for each of us.  Yum, yum, yum.  

It's a super sweet treat every month. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last night. I know what you're thinking. 18? I must have been married in high school, right? Because I look so young!  Ha, Ha.

We both thought it would be nice to stay home since we had such a crazy busy weekend.  We could grill some steaks and drink some wine from the wine cellar. (aka, hall closet)

We started with a glass of 2004 St. Francis, Behler Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma County. It was quite tasty. A little oakey. My mom would really like it. The wine is named in honor of the Behler family who originally cultivated the vineyards in the 1900's. 

With dinner we had the 2001 Chimney Rock, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley. Oh. My. Gosh. Was it good. Smooooooth and delicious. It's too bad it's all gone.

We used to be members of the St. Francis and Chimney Rock wine clubs. So we have a few bottles in the cellar. Part of being a member is free wine tasting for you and a few friends. So whenever we had guests in town we would take them wine tasting.We always stopped by Chimney Rock with our friends. Everyone always enjoyed the wine. They would have really enjoyed a glass of the cab last night.

I still can't believe I've been married 18 years. The early years almost feel like another person lived them. We've done some fantastic things together, have lived all over the place, we've travelled, we have a beautiful daughter and we still like each other after all these years. I'm looking forward to the next 18!

I can predict his behavior pretty well now. I know that he's going to have to have the latest greatest electronics. So when he says he's going to the Apple store or Best Buy I get worried about what's coming home. And he knows that I'm never going camping and will never eat anything with raisins.

There are still surprises. Like this blog. He can't believe I have one. And he would roll his eyes if he knew I was writing about him right now. Thank goodness he doesn't read it. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm Smitten

My new favorite blog is Smitten Kitchen.

The woman that writes the blog lives in NYC, she cooks in a teeny tiny kitchen, has a great writing style, and loves cooking and baking yummy stuff. And she has the coolest food photography I've seen from a non-professional. I want to make everything she talks about. If she can do all this in her teeny kitchen. Then I can do it in mine. I just lost my excuse.

She is a top food blogger.  She doesn't need any press. But how else do you find out about this stuff? There is so much on the WWW that I need people guiding me or I would just read the same thing over and over. She has received awards and accolades for her blog. And rightly so.  It's cool. If you're into food you have to give it a look-see. 

Check out her marshmallow recipe. Then tell me it doesn't make you want to make home-made marshmallows. Or check out these yummy, super easy cheese straws.  I think they are a must have at our next cocktail party. And then there is Thursday's post.  Strawberries and dumplings. Mmm, mm,mm, mm, mmm.

I wish I could cook this way and take food photographs this good. It's not easy. She gives some tips for taking good food shots on her site. I'm going to give it a try the next time I cook something that looks decent!

Happy cooking!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Junk Food. Yum.

Someone in our office brought in a bunch of junk food.
  • Oatmeal Creme Pies
  • Marshmallow Pies
  • Twinkies
  • Oreo's
  • Hostess Strawberry cupcakes
  • Oreo Cakesters
When there is food in the kitchen you have to move fast or you'll miss out. And believe me, word spread fast. I never buy this stuff because it's too fattening and I'll eat it. But when it's free in the kitchen I can't resist. I was able to nab a small bag of Oreo Cakesters before everything was gone.

My plan was to eat one cookie and save the other.  Yeah, right. They were both gone in less than 30 seconds - they were really yummy. They taste like an Oreo. But the cookie part is cake-like and soft. Really good with a cup of joe.

2 cakes = 250 calories
12 g fat
2 g protein (yeah!)




Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can you do the shimmy shimmy?

I'm laughing out loud as I write this.  Elli and I are watching our favorite summer show which is "So you think you can dance."  We are watching Phillip and his partner Jeanine do the tango. Elli says, "wow, she can even do the booby wiggles." huh? Then she says, "Mommy, can you do the booby wiggles?" She's looking at me like I'm a dinosaur.

Me? Of course I can shimmy and do the booby wiggles.  It's not quite as sexy as these youngsters on tv. But, heck yeah, I can do it!  So I jump up and demonstrate my shimmy shimmy. Elli then rolls over laughing, hysterically. Her comment to me is "You're funny, mom." So being the mature self I am I say "Let me see you do it." All I get is a "Mommmmmm. It's not appropriate!" 

Geez. 
  
I searched like crazy to find an "appropriate" photo to go with this topic.  As you can see I could not find one.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hey, Alice! What's cookin'?

Yeah, schools out!!  Yippee - all summer to play with your friends, swim, relax, ride bikes all over the place and run off and play kick the can.

Screeeechhh! Uh, what year is this?  This is not how they do it in the year 2009.

Summer ain't what it used to be for kiddos today. They go from one camp to the next. Especially if they have working parents - like me. Camp is "daycare" for kids.  They are there all day - just like school. Their whole summer is scheduled and planned. So my job is to find the coolest places for her to hang (that we can afford!)

Lucky for us, we have some super cool camp options.  The main camp Elli will be attending is called Steve and Kate's. The camp is unstructured.  Kids get to choose what activities they want to do.  They get the best counselors (cuz it's a cool summer gig) and they have THE BEST FOOD. We're not talking hot dogs and PB&J. We're talking gourmet cuisine.

This year, the menu was put together by chef Alice Waters, of Ches Panisse fame. All the recipes are from her cookbook called The Edible Schoolyard. Elli will be eating better than me all summer. Not fair! Check out some of the menu items:

Monday.... Chicken Breast Sandwich with arugula and a light lemon vinaigrette
Tuesday....Edible Schoolyard Redbean Turkey Chili with grated cheese and tortilla strips
Wednesday...Bel Fiore Mozzarella Sandwich with pesto and tomato slices
Thursday...Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast seasoned with fresh herbs
Friday...Make It Yourself Burritos with grass fed beef, pinto beans, red rice and cheese

It also says:

Campers will sit down to a meal made with organic, locally sourced, sustainably farmed ingredients. Wow, that's a mouthful. Campers will learn about the food they eat and how to minimize their environmental impact through recycling and composting.

Last summer Tyler Florence was the guest chef.  I though that was pretty cool.  This year is super cool. Elli loves food. She's becoming quite the foodie in our house.  So I can't wait to she what she thinks of the new menu.

I'm sure we'll have to start a compost bin by the end of the summer!

I'm no Alice Waters, but here is my recipe for Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad.

Enjoy!

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Arugula Salad

1 T dijon mustard
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. chopped thyme
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups packed arugula leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 475ยบ

1. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of the mustard with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and the thyme.
2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, brush them all over with the mustard mixture.
3. Pat the parmesan cheese all over each chicken breast
4. Transfer the chicken breasts to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the chicken on the top shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through and nicely browned.
5. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon each of mustard and olive oil; stir in 1/2 t. of water. Add the arugula and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss.
6. Spoon the salad onto plates, top with the chicken and serve.
7. Serve with a light, fruity wine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wild things

On Friday night Don and I got to enjoy dinner alone (Elli went to dinner and a movie with a friend.) So we went to a nice Italian place down the hill from our house called Piatti. It's a nice restaurant, a little pricey. We don't normally go there with Elli.

We didn't have a reservation so we didn't get the best seat in the house. They put us at a two top table right next to a huge table set up for 9 people. The group turned out to be 4 adults and 5 rowdy kids.  Greeeeeaaaat.  Just what we want on our night out without kids. We're seated next to 5 young kids that were running in and out the entire time. Our server was so distracted we had to repeat our order to her.

I have no problem with kids eating out - but they have to be behaved. No running around. In fact I don't like them to get up at all. It's annoying to me - and everyone around us. My mother would have killed us kids if we behaved this way.  I'm pretty sure it would have been a long time before we saw a restaurant again. Here's the thing. Half the time the kids were running around there was a PARENT following them. Dude. Get control of the rug rats. This is not a playground. Are parents so accustomed to taking their kids everywhere that THEY forget what appropriate behavior is? One little girl was even wearing a bathing suit with shorts.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned. And maybe I'm getting old (which I am. ) But I still believe in getting appropriately dressed for dinner. Kids should be clean, dressed and groomed. Parents too. We're raising a bunch of wild things!

Two years ago we signed Elli up for a class called "Elbows off the table." She HATED the class. However, it did reinforce manners we were trying to instill in her at home. She still talks about what a B-O-R-I-N-G class it was. Maybe this should be a mandatory class for all kids in school.

hmmmmm......

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sending mixed messages about your brand

The other day I was talking to one of the mom's at Elli's school. She asked what we were doing that evening, I told her we were going out for Chinese at Harmony. She asked if it was good and I enthusiastically said, "Yes! I love their signature beef dish, their calamari, green beans, and dumplings especially."  She replied, "Oh, I thought it was a dim sum place. I'm not a huge fan of dim sum so we've never been." I then told her they have a regular menu, plus a separate dim sum menu.

Then it got me thinking.... I don't think of them as a dim sum place at all.  I think of them as a Chinese Restaurant that also has a dim sum menu.  Mainly because they give you the regular menu first then say "We also have dim sum. Here's the menu."  It's an "also have..." type thing to me.

I can see why she's confused, but they are so much more than dim sum. I wonder if other people think the same thing? The restaurant is relatively new. It was started by a chef that worked at a very famous dim sum place here in San Francisco called Yank Sing. And, they had a banner hanging from the roof for a while that said something about dim sum. On their website they describe their food style as "classical and innovative Cantonese fair with it's specialty - freshly hand crafted dim sum."

So maybe they want to be known as a dim sum place.  That's not how I think of them, but now I'm a little confused too.

We run into this branding-type problem all the time with our advertising clients. Determining the right brand message is really tricky. Talking to customers is a good way to find out what people think about your product. So since I really like Harmony, and want them to be successful, I think I'll send the owner an email telling him that there seems to be a bit of brand confusion out there. "Why?" you ask. Because I know how hard it is to run a small business. And I hope someone would do the same for me.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nature my way


Last Sunday was one of those gorgeous clear days where you can see for miles and miles. For any of you that have been to San Francisco you know it's not always like this.  You can run into fog or rain in the most random places.  It could be hot and sunny at home, you drive 5 minutes and it's 15 degrees colder and foggy.

So we took advantage of the day and hiked up to the West Point Inn for a picnic.   Elli donned her best hiking sun dress. Why not! Right?  We had yummy wrap sandwiches made from everything I could find in the fridge, some fresh strawberries, cashews and of course Cheetos, because we were hiking with a 7-year old after all.

Don recorded our steps with a pedometer.  We walked a little over 4 miles. And burned 400 plus calories.  (So we probably burned off 2 Cheetos.)

We're pretty sure Sam ran twice that. He turns into "ADVENTURE DOG" when he gets on the trail.  Not sure what he thinks he's going to find. But he sure has fun doing it.

As most of you know, I'm not much of a nature girl. Which is weird considering where we live in the Bay Area. We picked the most crunchy, granola area to live in.  Here's the thing. I love the beauty of nature - the hills, flowers, trees, ocean - the views, oh, the view. I just don't want to be ONE with nature. As in sleep on the ground with nature. That's all.  Oh, and I don't like nature-hugger footwear or clothing either. So as long as you'll accept me and miss Elli in our sundresses on the trail, then we're all good. Cool?


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adele - love her sound

I first heard about her on a local radio station (KFOG) here in San Francisco. I was immediately intrigued. She sounds much older than 19. Her voice and sound is cool and sophisticated. Part jazzy, part pop. It's hard to believe she's only 19 years old.  Amazing.

Click on the link above to listen.

hint.....It's great music to listen to while enjoying a cocktail on this very fine Saturday.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Best dessert EVER!


Another story about El Dorado Kitchen.......

The minute the waiter told us the pastry chef had been at the French Laundry for nine years we couldn't wait to get our hands on the menu. We've always wanted to go to the FL. Here was our chance to sneak in the back door.

How on earth would we decide what to order? By ordering three desserts, of course. That way we all get to sample a little of each.

Warm Cake with Cherry - butter cake with fresh cherry, served with vanilla ice cream (I don't have their description of this one.)

Chocolate Smore's Tart - graham cracker crust, Guittard chocolate ganache, fluffy Italian Meringue, vanilla ice cream.

Profiterole's - strawberry, vanilla, caramel ice cream, chocolate sauce, vanilla anglaise
OMG. The desserts were so yummy at first we were speechless.  Just a lot of "OOOOOH", "MMMMM" and staring off in space. We could hardly contain our enthusiasm. In fact, we couldn't. We were making a bit of noise.  

The grumpy lady at the table next to us kept glancing our way every 5 seconds. Personally, I think she was cranky because she didn't wear cute sandals and her feet were hot. She had on a cute outfit down to her ankles. Then much to my surprise she had on teal socks and loafers. "Really?" you say.  "Yup." Big fashion don't for 2009. (In my opinion anyway.) The wrong shoes can spoil the mood. She needs to watch a few Sex & The City re-runs.

Anyhow, back to dessert. We loved the dessert so much we took pictures. Ok, I took pictures. I made everyone wait until I could get a shot. We had to hold Elli back. All I can say is this. Come visit me and I'll take you up there personally. It will be a yumalicious good time!!!

Here is a sample dessert menu from their website. Specials change based on what's in season. I think the Smore's Tart is a regular. Which was by far the favorite at our table.

Hope to see you soon!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our new favorite martini "Peach Jalapeno"













We recently went to El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma for the first time.  Wow. What a beautiful, contemporary space on the inside with a lovely patio outside.

The food was made with the freshest ingredients and presented so beautifully. The cocktails superb. And dessert absolutely divine. This will be my first of a few entries. I'm going to start with cocktails. (Miss Elli is drinking hazelnut chocolate milk.)

Don and Steven ordered the Peach Jalapeno Martini. Kerry had a Mojito and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The boys haven't stopped talking about their martini's. They really wanted to know how to make the drink at home. So on our way out I asked the bartender for the recipe. He was happy to share it with us. (I've learned it's just better to ask than to torture oneself trying to figure it out.)  The ingredients are not that unusual, but they had to go to three stores to get everything. (I'll have to speak to my friends at BevMo about this!)

My friend Steven begged me not to reveal the recipe. Then I reminded him that I only have about 3 people reading my blog - and he's one of them. I think we're safe. But, just to make him happy I'll list the ingredients only. We can let my inquisitive readers figure out the mix. Or you can email me and I'll ask Don for the recipe.

The drink is sweet and fruity - but not too sweet, with a little spicy kick at the end. You're going to love it.

Ingredients:
Simple Syrup
Squeeze of lime
ABSOLUT APEACH vodka
White cranberry juice
Add a slice of fresh jalapeno at the end

Shake all ingredients.  Pour in chilled martini glass.  Add a slice of jalepeno.

I promise this will become your favorite martini this summer. 

: )

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Your table will be ready in 1 min 20 secs. Huh?

We recently went to Kokkari in San Francisco. They are one of the top 100 restaurants in San Francisco, and I'm pretty sure they are the only Greek restaurant on the list.

We had a party of 7.  We got to the restaurant a little early so we could have a drink at the bar before dinner. We're enjoying our cocktails, chit chatting away.  A friendly waiter comes by with a yummy pizza appetizer for us to try.  Thank you!  Then the hostess comes over with a friendly, yet concerned look. Your table will be ready in one minute twenty seconds. Ok. Whatever. Then she's back again. Your table will be ready in one minute. Now she has our attention.  Are we late for something? Do you see us anxious to sit down? What's up?

So they lead us to our table, where the manager says "See!  I told you it would be a minute twenty!" Uh huh. Great. Thanks. We all sit down and they ask if we would like appetizers.  "Yes!" we say. They recommend the "blah, blah, blah" for groups.  "Perfect!" we'll take it. The appetizers arrived in a minute and twenty seconds.  I kid you not.  They were on the table 20 minutes before our wine arrived.  Very strange.  Are we sending weird signals?  Do we look like we're starving? Our friends were convinced we got appetizers that someone else ordered and didn't want. I don't think that's true, everything was hot and fresh. And I  am happy to report the zucchini patties and fried cheese with a lemon twist were liked by all.

So , we order dinner, had a lovely time and decided to pass on dessert.  "WHAT? No dessert?,"they say.  Nope.  Thank you!  And we were out of there.

One of the tricky things in the service industry is being able to read your guests. If you can do it, you're golden. If you can't, well, people won't come skipping back right away. It's something manager's should pay much more attention to. That's my opinion anyway.

Disclaimer:  This is my wine influenced recollection of the evening.  If you were there and saw something different, well, that's your opinion. 


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dark chocolate with a kick


Steven and Kerry, our friends from Connecticut, introduced us to one of their favorite Belgium chocolates.  The brand is NewTree. The flavor they brought us is called Piment ALPHA.  The box says: Chocolat Noir Au Piment, which means Dark Chocolate with Chili Pepper. Ooh la la! Dark chocolate with a kick!

Originally I was just going to tell you about this amazing yummy chocolate. As I sit down and write this I read what is on the back of the box.  It says: "ALPHA contains 50% of the recommended daily intake of Omega 3, a natural fatty acid known for it's beneficial effects on the heart, mind, and overall mood.  OMG. Chocolate that will improve my mood. Even if it's only half of the recommended daily intake - I'll take it!  I will whistle while I work! With a clear mind and a happy heart. I love happy, unexpected surprises like this. 

When you first break open the chocolate you see a rich dark chocolate mixed with something. At first glance it looks like it has crunch inside (as in Nestle crunch.) But you soon discover they are pepper seeds. The first bite is all dark chocolate, rich and chocolatey, then you slowly get the slightest kick of a pepper in the back of your throat. Just enough and not too much. Mmm, mmmm, mmmm.  Yumalicious.

I'm going to start reading the back of the wine bottle. I know they're bottling heart-healthy happiness in those bottles.

Click here to learn more:  New Tree Chocolate You'll love their website. Their motto is "Eat chocolate stay healthy & happy."

Here's to good health and good chocolate!

Monday, June 8, 2009

There's nothing like a homemade biscuit

I don't know why, but I have trouble making biscuits.  They always come out too heavy.  I know you're not supposed to overmix the dough. The baking powder has to be relatively fresh. The butter should be cold. And the best biscuits are made with buttermilk. So if I know all this, why do I have trouble? Beats me!

On Sunday morning I wanted a biscuit. A real, southern biscuit. That I would happily eat with a fried egg.

I decided to try a biscuit recipe that is in Elli's cookbook "Kids Baking" by Williams-Sonoma.  I figured if they have a biscuit recipe for kids - surely I could bake them correctly. And guess what? SUCCESS!!!!!!! They were flakey, buttery - oh, so delicious.  Ahhh.  I can cross that one off my list and move on to something else.

Here's the super simple recipe:

Buttermilk Biscuits 
makes 6 large biscuits

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 t. salt

Cut in 6 T very cold butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
Add 1 cup buttermilk.  Stir until just combined.  About 5 stirs.  That's it.
Flour your work surface. Dump the dough on to it and gently press together.
Cut into rounds with a 3" biscuit cutter. Gather scraps to cut final biscuits. 
The key is handling the dough as little as possible.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.
(I always bake all my cookies, biscuits, etc. on a Silpat baking sheet.) 

I hope you enjoy these biscuits as much as we did. 
Enjoy!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Super cute lunch tote.

My friend Kerry spotted these in a shop window in Sonoma last weekend. They are insulated lunch bags. And they're only 20 bucks. Almost makes me want to pack a lunch and bring it it work everyday.

Their slogan is: 
Eat well. Be green. Take lunch. 

They have a bunch of different styles.  This style is called Christy.  You can order one here.

So as you're browsing the internet this weekend you can order one.  Or two.  I think they would make cool gifts.

Have a good one!

PS.  I do eat lunch at my desk everyday. But I don't physically carry my lunch each day - which is why I don't need a "super cute lunch tote".  I stop at Safeway on Monday morning, buy five "eating right" frozen dinners, then put them in the office freezer so I have five yummy lunches for the week. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beware of the ditch.

The past three weeks have been nuts. We've had two different sets of house guests, Elli had 2 major dance recitals, I've been INSANELY busy working on BevMo stuff and ...... I don't know what else.  But I'm exhausted!!

My parents came from Phoenix first, then our best friends from Connecticut. They just left on Tuesday.  We had a really nice time.  It was just like old times.  We went to Kokkari for dinner Friday night then had an awesome afternoon in Sonoma on Sunday.  I'll tell you about both, but not right now.  I'm too tired.

Yesterday morning I decided to fix Elli's hair in a cute ponytail.  While brushing her hair she informed me that I've been saying some bad words in the morning at "the ditch." Uh oh.  (The ditch is a place on our way to school where we risk our lives every morning trying to turn left in front on on-coming traffic.)  "Really", I said.  "Yes, mommy. You do it a lot." Uh oh.  "What do I say?" I ask.  "Well, you get really mad at the slow guy ahead of you and yell, move it mister, or I'll push you through."  Hmmmm.  Not really a bad word.  But not very nice either. I tell her "ok, I promise to try harder."  She says, "and sometimes you say.............." Now I'm in trouble.

So she says I'm going to have a consequence every time I say a bad word.  Oh no.  "What is my punishment?" I ask.  She says "no computer time at night for 10 minutes." Really?  That's it? You're not going to send me to bed?  Oh, come on!!!! 

I passed the test yesterday morning.  We'll see how I do today.

Photo: Elli and her friend Lily Smith