Friday, April 29, 2011

My inspiration.

She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.

She will drop everything to help a friend or family member in need.

She taught me that we should all give back and help those less fortunate.

And that we should all work hard, be honest, and stay true to ourselves.

She encouraged me to be creative and use my imagination. My ability to figure things out is a direct result of her teaching me to be resourceful - instead of being lazy and letting someone do it for me.

She can get a house ready for company in 5 minutes flat. And plan a dinner party in 10.

She's the woman you want on your committee. She gets things done.

Need a party planned? She's your gal.

Need a shoulder to cry on. She's a great listener.

Need someone to laugh with? To dance with? To act goofy and be silly with? She's always game.

Who is this fantastic person?

She's my mom.

She is my inspiration and my biggest fan.

So what should I get this amazing person for Mother's day? How about something from the Macy's Heart of Haiti collection. I think she would love that.

You can shop at Macy's for Mother's day and save 15% on your purchase of Heart of Haiti items when you use the code below. 

SHOP:  Heart of Haiti Collection and Rwanda Path to Peace
DATES: May 3-8, 2011

PS. Mother's day is May 8th. So you (and me) better get to it.

I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Friday night pizza + wine

I don't know about you, but pizza is a staple in our house. Especially on Friday night.

And back in the old days of me working for a living we would go out and eat pizza. But you know what? The stuff we make at home is better. So who needs waiters, and dishwashers, and bartenders. You can do it at home and pay the kids to help. Or you can dream that they would offer to help for free. Maybe your kids do that. Elli and Don? Not so much.

Yes, I just lumped Don in the kids category. He doesn't do dishes without whining either. He's allergic, remember? Breaks out in a terrible rash and hives. It's really awful. Or so he says. I don't know, it's too terrible to think of him suffering like that so he gets out of dish duty. He does doggy poop duty instead. It's probably a fair trade.

And yes Elli. THAT is an example of sarcasm. And, I probably shouldn't talk about "duty" and food in the same post. That's just gross. But what's done is done.

Let's talk pizza.

Chicken sausage and cheese for Elli
You can buy the pizza dough and all the fixins at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. We like the Trader Joe's plain flavor the best. The wheat doesn't rise as nice. And I think the herb version is a bit odd in flavor. Both stores sell raw dough in the bag that's really good. You'll find it near the refrigerated prepared foods and cheese.

The Works for us - sausage, jalapenos, carmelized onion, mushroom. Yum.
You do need to let the dough rest about 30 minutes on the counter before you shape it. Just flour a cutting board, take it out of the bag, and let it sit there while you enjoy a glass of wine.

The key to a crisp crust is baking it in the oven for 3 minutes then topping it and baking it again. You can even make the pizza on the grill. Just brush it with some olive oil, grill it on one side, flip it over and add the toppings. That's really yummy too.

Now let's go have another glass of wine.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The big race is this weekend

Don's very first half marathon is this Sunday. He's running in the Avenue of the Giants race in Humboldt County. I've never been there. But the giants they are referring to are not from Where The Wild Things Are. They are trees. Very big, very old redwood trees.

It's going to be really beautiful. The perfect place for Don's first marathon.

The big send-off dinner was last night. And guess who won the MVP award out of the group. The person voted to have the Best Shoes, Most Improved and Most Committed. It was DON! Everyone clapped and told stories about how impressed they were with him.

I was so proud!!!!

When he started running three months ago he couldn't even run one lap around the track.

He came home really bummed and was doubting if he could do it.

Then he started attending the Team-in-Training sessions and meeting the honorees and he was hooked. Plus he wasn't just running for himself. He was running for Mike. Our brother-in-law who was in the middle of chemo.

Now he's going to run a half marathon on Sunday. It's awesome. I'm so proud of him.

Go Don!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everything happens for a reason

It wasn't good news. After years of trying, the whole baby-making thing was just not happening for us.

I was sad, but not completely devastated. I never wanted a litter of kids. Just one would be nice.

I grew up with a large family and so did Don. I didn't think I was cut out for all that chaos. I lived through it and didn't really want to be the sergeant that my mom was. It's a tough job being a mom to four kids. I wanted a career. I wanted to make my own choices and be in charge of my life. Or so I thought.

Then the more I thought about it the more upset I got. It was supposed to be my choice. I never anticipated that I would not have a choice. This was not the way it was supposed to work. I was suppose to decide how many kids I wanted. The decision to wipe snotty noses on one kid or ten kids was mine to make.

All of a sudden I was thirty five. We'd been married eight years. If we wanted to have kids we had to get it figured out or we'd be that weird couple down the street with dogs and cats in a segregated house because the animals don't get along and we don't know how to parent them.

Then one day a teeny tiny announcement in the local paper caught my eye.

A local adoption agency was having an open house. I thought about it for a second and then I mentioned it to Don. He agreed to go and check it out. He didn't even try to get out of it.

The meeting room was full of middle-aged couples just like us. We all sat nervously looking around wondering if we looked like the couple sitting next to us.

The agency reviewed how it all worked. Other couples in the room had done some homework. They were attending for more than just information. They were ready to go. We were intrigued by it all.

A young woman in her early twenties spoke. She had been adopted from Korea when she was a young girl. Her name was Kathy. She was incredibly bright and happy. She left you feeling excited at the possibilities of a happy ever after.

We gathered all the information and headed out to Swanky Franks, our favorite local dive.

We settled on our stools at the counter and ordered our usual. Then I asked the big question.

"So" I said, with a long pause, making sure I had his attention "what did you think?" And in typical Don fashion he took his time answering.

"I don't know. What did you think?" he said.

Chicken. He wanted me to go first. Ok.

"Well. I'm kind of impressed with the China program." I said smiling tentatively.

"Yeah, me too." he said. And I saw hope in his face.

"Really? Should we do it?" I asked, my heart beating faster and faster.

"Yeah. I think so." he said smiling from ear to ear. "Let's do it."

"Ok. I'll make an appointment." and that was it. We had decided. No mulling it over and blah, blah blahing until we were exhausted.

That was September 30, 2000.

On August 14,  2002 we were in Changsha China adopting Elli. The most beautiful nine month old baby girl we had ever seen. Yin Ri Dong officially became Elliott Grace Mulkey. Or Elli for short.

I honestly can't imagine having any other child. She was waiting to be born until we were ready.

This weeks TRDC assignment:  recall something in your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful. A positive from a negative experience. 600 words max.

Yes, I'm a foodie.

I recently met someone that said food didn't really matter to them. I have no idea what she said after that because all I could think was "I'm not sure we can be friends. You don't care about food."

I'm kidding. That would make me crazy. But I was shocked she said it. Because I think about food 24-7. I wonder what she thinks about? And I wonder if she's ever had an amazing meal that she's thought about for days.

I can think of so many delicious things I've eaten. I can practically taste the pistachio souffle from Aqua restaurant in Westport, and the Thai food we used to get at Taipan. If I shut my eyes I can smell and taste it.

And bakeries. Oh I love the smell of fresh baked breads and pastries. Not donut store kind of bakeries. I'm talking the stuff you find at La Boulange, a local french bakery. I can smell the butter and sugar right now.

I would love to be a food tester. I have a lot of opinions. I can't really prepare food like a chef. But I can definitely give you my opinion about spices, texture, temperature, how ingredients work together and whether I think it's good or not.

It would be awesome to be a judge on Iron Chef. Unless of course the secret ingredient was something totally disgusting like goat brains. Or raisins. I would kind of freak out if it was something that fell in my nasty category - bugs, weird animal parts and stinky fish are the main no-no's.

Maybe being a judge on the cupcake show would be a better place to start.

But I'm sure I'm not alone there.

Now I just need someone to invite me. I'm available.

What about you? Are you a freak about food like me, or can you take it or leave it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Strawberry Scones

Last weekend Elli and her friend were begging me to bake something with them. So after much hemming and hawing I altered a recipe I have for blueberry scones substituting strawberries and orange zest for blueberries and lemon zest. 'Cuz that's what I had.

This is a very forgiving recipe. Trust me. When 2 giggly girls are baking there is no guarantee that things are getting measured correctly. Or that they're keeping track of anything.

These scones were delish. They're light and fluffy. Just sweet enough. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, dessert or a snack.

We used them to make Strawberry Shortcake for dessert that night. Just slice them, top them with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Voila.

Yum. Too bad my dad's not here. He would have loved them.

They only take 30 minutes to make. Start to finish.



Strawberry Scones

2 c. all purpose flour
3 T sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 T baking powder
3/4 t. salt
6 T butter (cold and cut into small cubes)
1 cup diced strawberries
zest from an orange
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk (I used lowfat 1%)

Preheat oven to 400º

1. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk together to combine. (Or sift together.)
2. Cut in butter with a pastry knife or a fork until it resembles small peas.
3. Gently stir in diced strawberries and orange zest.
4. Make well in center of dry mix.
5. In a small bowl add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk. Mix to combine.
6. Pour egg mixture into well in dry mixture. Work dough together. Don't over mix.
7. The dough will be very sticky. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon and make 8 large mounds.
8. Don't put them too close together - the dough spreads. I placed 6 on a sheet.
9. Sprinkle sugar on top.
10. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Makes 8 large scones.

I guess you could make them smaller. But what fun is that?

I'm pretty sure you need to make these for Easter brunch. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nuts for Nuts and nutty movies

I love when this happens. A friend tried a few recipes from the old blog (three!) and then shared a recipe for Bar Nuts she thought I would like. Yay!

Danny Meyer, Union Square Cafe
(photo: Union Square Cafe)
It just so happens the recipe is from one of the restaurants Don and I used to eat at when he worked in NYC. The Union Square Cafe is Danny Meyer's restaurant. They have really yummy food. 

I actually met Danny when I went to the Food and Wine Festival in Aspen a jillion years ago. He gave a talk on pairing wine and food. I still remember sitting there taking notes as fast as I could so I wouldn't miss anything.

So I was pretty excited when I saw the recipe was from Union Square Cafe. I'll be whipping up a batch of these babies this weekend. For sure. 'Cuz nothing goes better with a bottle of wine than hot and spicy bar nuts. 

Here are both of our nut recipes. In case you're feeling really nutty. 

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts
(From Union Square Cafe and reader Melanie Haas.)

2 1/4 cups (18oz) assorted unsalted nuts (peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan, whole unpeeled almonds)
2 T coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2 t. dark brown sugar
2 t. sea salt
1 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350º

1. Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine. Spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter. 
3. Toss the toasted nuts in the spice mix and serve warm.

And now for my recipe: Herb Salt Roasted Almonds

Herb Salt Roasted Nuts (photo: Melanie Haase)
Melanie took a photo of the almonds because she noticed I didn't have one. Gee, I wonder if she wouldn't mind taking a few others for me!? Thank you Melanie for the photo and the Bar Nuts recipe.

1 pound fresh raw almonds
2 t. salt
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
t. olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 300º

1. Pour the almonds in a colander and run a splash of cold water through them so they are barely moistened and can drain. Toss the almonds with the salt. Turn them onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
2. Bake for about 15 minutes, watching carefully. Shake the pan and turn the almonds over with a spatula. Return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or until you hear the first crackle. Beware: one minute too long and the almonds will burn!
3. Pour the almonds into a bowl and add the herbs, olive oil and toss well. Grind a little black pepper over the nuts and serve warm in a bowl. The almonds will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Speaking of nuts....
Have any of you seen the movie Best in Show? It is one of my all-time favorite movies. One of my favorite scenes in when Harlan (who is from Pine Nut) tries to recall as many nuts as he can. Pistachio Nut, Macadamia Nut, Cashew Nut, Peanut.....such a funny movie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My happy place

It took you by surprise when you opened the door. The carpeting looked like shaggy strawberry jello. The rest of the house was conservative and muted. But not this room.

And I was going to spend my senior year here.

I slowly walked in taking in the scents and light, then layed down on the carpet right in the middle of the empty room. It brushed against my bare legs and settled beneath me as my body sank in.

A soft breeze blew across my face and down the top of my legs from the open window.

I was spread out on the carpet like a star with my head looking straight up. I took a deep breath in and let it out slowly, my chest sinking down, as I stared at the swirls in the ceiling and looked around.

One thing was for sure. I had never seen carpet quite like this.

The shag was so long you could grip it with your toes. I could feel the strands between my fingers as I slowly ran my hand back and forth across it.

I bet I could make a snow angel. The thought of that made me smile and laugh.

My eyes rolled around taking it all in.

Two windows. Two closet doors. One door to the hall. Ugly wallpaper with some sort of swirly pattern. And carpet the color of a cherry pie. Good thing it was my favorite color.

I did wonder who was in this room before me. It had to be a girl because it didn't smell like stinky socks and sweat. And no boy would have wallpaper like that.

My mind was swirling with ideas.

And then my peaceful moment was over. I heard my brother's footsteps thundering up the stairs. The moving van had arrived.

Today's TRDC prompt was to write about the color red. Without actually saying the word RED. 

“Give me a memory of the color red. Do not write the word 'red' but use words that engender the color red when you hear them. For example: a ruby, a tomato, fire, blood." 600 words max.

Bring on the concrit. I'm ready. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Olive Oil and Maple Granola

Thank you to Log Cabin for sponsoring my post about updated traditions in my household. To learn more about Log Cabin Syrups (which are all free of High Fructose Corn Syrup), breakfast for dinner, and other new ways to update traditions in your home, click here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Most of the traditions in our house are carried over from my childhood. The birthday parade, sitting on the stairs for a Christmas morning photo, Mimi's yummy eggy breakfast casserole's, and home-made cookies from our kitchen. We would beg my mom for cookies and treats at the store and her answer was always the same. "You want cookies? Then bake them." she would say. So we did. Which probably explains why I never buy cookies at the store. They just don't taste as good.

Then one day I tasted home-made granola. I've never been a big fan of store-bought granola. It's usually too sweet. But this granola was different. It was sweet and salty and really delicious. Every time I make a batch it doesn't last very long. Elli and Don savor every bite.

And now they have their own breakfast tradition. They both get a big bowl of yogurt. Don likes Greek yogurt. Elli doesn't care. She'll eat any kind. They put a big scoop of yogurt in a bowl, top it with home-made granola and cover it with fresh berries - strawberries and raspberries for Elli, and blueberries for Don.

Then they sit across from each other at the table and talk about their plans for the day.

"So, daddy, what are you doing today?" She'll ask, all bright and perky.

"Working." he'll say, still half asleep.

"Are you meeting a client? Will you see Mrs Beech today? What are you working on?" And she just keeps going until you answer.

At this point he knows he better come forward with some information because she will not give up. So he does. And they have a nice little five minute chat. I eavesdrop from the kitchen and can't help but smile at how cute they both are.

Then, before you know it, breakfast is over and the sweet quiet moment is just a memory. 

Olive Oil & Maple Granola
adapted from Melissa Clark

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 small bag of mixed dried berries (cherries, blueberries, cranberries, )
1 cup raw pistachios, hulled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, walnuts, coconut flakes, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cardamom.
2. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted. (I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up.)
3. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add dried fruit, tossing to combine.

What are some of your favorite traditions?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fire in the vineyard

I'm gripping the steering wheel so tight my fingers ache.

How could I be so stupid? I just wanted to celebrate the good news. We got a distribution deal. We'll finally be making money. Why did I have to smoke a cigar?

They're going to figure it out. They're going to know it was me that burned down the vineyard. Ten years of work gone. All because of a stupid cigar. I could swear I didn't drop any ashes out there. I can't believe this happened.

Holy shit! What is that? I slam on the brakes, the truck skids off the road, I hit a ditch and the truck flips over.

The airbag busts open in my face. I feel like I hit a brick wall. Uggggh, my head.

I crack my eyes open and see a cow staring at me. He's frozen. As stunned as I am. Christ. I nearly killed myself to save that beast. Someone will probably be eating him for dinner tonight. What the?

Lucky for me this truck is built like a tank. I'm not hurt but I can smell something burning. Unbelievable. This really can't be happening.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grilled Lemon/Herb Chicken and Potato Mash

"Hey, when you have a chance will you look for a recipe on the Jamie Oliver app?" I ask Don, who is checking something on his iphone as we're driving home from Napa.

No response. So I wait a few seconds. At least it seemed like a few seconds.

"Would you mind looking for a recipe for me?" I ask. Again.

No response.


"I will! Let me finish what I'm doing!" he snaps back.

Ooops. Have I mentioned that we've been working together everyday since I lost my job. That's two months now. They call me "the intern" at the store. I do all the grunt work and don't get paid.

We haven't spent this much time together in a very long time. So you know, I get on his nerves. 

"Ok. I just want a plan about what to cook before I get home." Sheesh I whisper to myself. Ok, I whine.

So now I wait........

"How about Grilled Lemon and Herb Chicken with Mash?" he suggests.

"What's in it?" I ask. I need to know if I have the ingredients at home. Or most of them anyway.

He now starts to rattle off the items, chicken, lemon, thyme, potatoes, corn, basil, tomatoes. I do an inventory in my head. I know we have most of this stuff. I can make it work. It won't exactly be what chef Jamie had created. But I know it will be good. Cuz you see, I have no plans on stopping at the store. By the time we pick Elli up from school and get home it's around 6:15. I'm tired. And I just want to get dinner going.

So I make the recipe and serve it up to everyone.

Don looks at the plate and asks me where the tomato and basil topping is from the recipe. I tell him we didn't have that stuff. So I just left it out. He then says he just assumed I would go to the store. I just looked at him. "Uh........Sorry. Nope. It will taste delish without the tomatoes. Don't worry." And it did. Of course the little tomato/basil topping would be mighty tasty. Maybe I'll plan ahead next time.

Grilled Lemon and Herb Chicken with Mash (and Tomato Relish)
(adapted from Jamie Oliver, 20 minute meals)

Serves 4. Ready in 20 minutes.

Chicken and mash ingredients:
1 3/4 lbs new potatoes (I used russet), cut in chunks.
4 skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 T milk

Tomato relish:
3 ripe tomatoes
1 large bunch fresh basil
1 small bunch scallions
1 medium fresh chile
2 T red wine vinegar

1. Fill a large sauce pan with water and place on a high heat. Add a pinch of salt. Add potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 minutes until tender.
2. Topping: roughly chop the tomatoes and basil leaves. Trim and finely slice the scallions. Deseed and finely chop the chile. Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the red wine vinegar to the bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Pound each chicken breast until they are 1/2 inch thick (I didn't do this.)
4. Finely grate the zest of a lemon over the breasts and drizzle them with olive oil. Pick the thyme leaves and scatter these over the chicken.
5. Get a frying pan on a medium heat, and once hot, add a splash of olive oil.
6. Add the chicken breasts to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Remove from pan and let rest for a few minutes. Then slice each breast.
7. Place the frozen corn in the microwave to thaw for 1 minute. 
8. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Turn off the burner. Add the milk and butter and mash to desired consistency. Add corn and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
9. To serve, divide the mash up among 4 plates, top with the chicken. Squeeze a little lemon on each slice. And finally, top with the tomato relish and a drizzle of olive oil.

And as Jamie Oliver says, "Tuck in!" I'm pretty sure that means "dig in" here in the good old USA.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Always the new girl

"You should go. You'll meet some new kids." my mom said.

"Yeah." I whispered, lying and just dreading it. I had no choice. She would make me go whether I wanted to or not. That's how it worked in our house.

"It's a fundraiser for the church youth group. You're going. It will be fun!" she said in her perkiest voice. I hated this perky talk. It really made me cranky.

Ugh. Why does she make me do this stuff? I don't want to meet new kids. I would rather poke my eyes out than hang with these geeky church kids at the youth group car wash. I seriously hate her sometimes. She is little miss happy and "lets make friends!" I do not want to make any friends. I wish she would leave me alone.

Moving sucked. I had my story. "No, we're not in the military. My dad is a really smart executive in the airline industry. He's in ops. He gets promoted a lot. So we move a lot. I've never lived anywhere longer than four years." I would say. "I know all our home phone numbers."

It was lonely always moving to a new town. And scary. You'd go into a new school and everyone would look at you. I was always known as "the new girl." All the geeky kids would come up to me and be super nice and friendly. But they were never the ones that I stayed friends with. I'd eventually find the group of kids that I fit in with and leave the original greeters. I know some of them got their feelings hurt. I did feel bad about that. But how was I to know they were geeks?

And then there were the church youth groups. They were always really tough. Once we joined the church I was stuck. Doomed to participate in the youth group.

My parents loved the church. Mostly for the social aspect. My mom sang in the choir. My dad was always a lay reader and on various committees And they were always involved in the youth group. They had four kids of their own. And still loved being involved with all the kids even becoming the youth leaders. This was great for them. But for me it meant that they were always there. Always. I never went on a campout, or bowling event, or anything without them.

They were way more social than me. They lived in the moment. They didn't dwell on the fact that we wouldn't be there forever. They had friends the minute we moved in. I had a hard time doing that. I was a little jealous of their care-free attitude. They laughed and had the best time. I wanted to. But I couldn't. I felt like an outsider looking in.

So here we are in another new place. At another new church. And the youth group is having a car wash to raise money to go to church camp. Great. I don't really want to participate in the group and I really don't want to go to camp. But I will be a sport and I will go. 'Cuz that's what we do in our family. We put on our happy face and we go. Whether we like it or not.

My mom has trained us (kids) well. So I'll be the hardest working 8th grade car wash girl you've ever seen. The harder I work, the less I'll have to socialize. No one will complain that my windows are streaky. I've been trained by the best.

I know all the other kids will be laughing, and squirting each other with the hose, and throwing soap all over the place. I kinda want to do that too. But I don't know them. And they don't know me. So I'll just hide in the back seat cleaning windows watching them. I'll feel jealous that I'm not on the outside of the car. I'll watch the pretty girl smile and flirt with the cute guy. And I'll wish I was there too. But it's much safer in here.

Someday I won't be the new girl anymore and things will be different.

**This was a TRDC writing assignment. We were to look at this photo and write about something we remembered. My story is mostly true. 8th grade was a long time ago. So don't hold me to the facts. I'm sure everything wasn't nearly as rosy for my parents as I imagined. Moving every few years could not have been easy. I know that now. But they never let it show.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Homegrown Marin Market - Part II

Don and I went to the market on Sunday. He didn't really want to go. But he went. And let me just tell you. The man sampled every item in the market. Everything. And it was all delicious.

Our strategy was to taste everything then go back and buy stuff. We actually ran out of cash. We went to make our last purchase at the Flavored Butter table and didn't have enough money. Kind of embarrassing and really sad. I wanted the chile lime butter it was really good. I'll have to wait until next time.

We'll definitely go again next month and take Elli with us. She would have loved it. We bought her some Himalayan Sea Salt as a present. The girl loves salt. Plus the company gives back 10% from every purchase to help build schools for girls. And next month my friend Michelle Stern will be there with her new cookbook.

Here's what you missed! I didn't get pictures of everything. Cuz you know, I was busy eating. It's hard to juggle the camera, purse, samples. Man, it's hard work being me!

Artisinal Pasta from Renata Sardo @ Baia Pasta

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Homegrown Marin Market

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Danya Adolphs the founder and Market Director of Homegrown Marin Market.

Danya started the market to give local food artisans a place to sell their unique culinary creations. It's not a Farmer's Market and it's not the church bake sale either.

You know those folks that are amazing cooks, the one's you always say "Hey you should sell that stuff!" Well these are those people. And some pros too. But mainly they are your Bay Area culinary wizards that just love creating in the kitchen.

Lucky for us there are organizations like Homegrown Marin where we can buy all the goodies.

Every month is a different group. You'll find everything from home-made crepe's, jams, jellies, breads, cheeses, coffee, barbeque and of course yummy baked goods.

The market takes place in San Rafael at the Marin Fencing Academy. Bring the family and your appetite. There's lots of yummy stuff to sample and purchase.

This month they have a special guest: Gabi Moskowitz.

Gabi Moskowitz, author of BrokeAss Gourmet
Gabi is a chef, writer and editor-in-chief of the blog BrokeAss Gourmet.  She will be there at 3pm to introduce her new iPad cooking app called Appetites.

Her blog features recipes that are always under $20. She also offers recommendations on different beers, wines and cocktails. She may just be my new bff!

There is a recipe on the blog right now for Pepperoni Pizza Spirals. They look like something Elli and her friends would just gobble right up.

Pepperoni Pizza Spirals (photo: BrokeAss Gourmet)
And this....mac and cheese.

I hope she brings some mac and cheese to the market. THAT would be awesome.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs

This is a regular conversation for us. Is it for you, too?

"What do you want for dinner tonight?" I say to Don.


"What are you in the mood for?" I ask.


"I haven't planned anything." I add.

Don is relaxing in the car on our way home from Napa. The seat is in the recline position. His eyes are closed. He's trying to catch a quick nap. And I'm bugging him about dinner.

Hey, it's my job to think about what we're going to eat. Because I need to start making dinner the minute we get home. Elli is always starving. And I usually am too.

"I bought chicken teriyaki meatballs at Costco on Saturday." he says.

"Perfect. I'll make rice. We'll have meatballs and rice." I respond.

Phew. I thought for a minute I might be making pancakes for dinner. An okay choice in Elli's opinion but considered a dinner cop-out to Don. Breakfast for dinner has been sounding better and better to me. I even made eggs benedict recently with home-made hollandaise sauce. (And I wonder why I'm getting a little chubby.)

When we got home I looked at the bag of meatballs. Hmmm. They are going to need a sauce or something. No sauce packet in the box and no recipe either. Ehhhh. I decide to check their website.

Why can't I be one of the cooks on Top Chef who just opens the pantry, grabs some ingredients, and whips up a delicious sauce like in the quick-fire challenges?

Oh yeah, I'm not a chef. I'm just obsessed with watching them on TV. I'm watching Iron Chef as I type this. Maybe I'll be a chef in my next life. That would be cool.

Back to the meatballs. I found a super simple stir fry sauce on the Aidell's site. Of course I have no vegetables other than a few baby carrots and some celery to stir fry with the meatballs. Who cares. It will be yummy anyway. And it was. Oh, and did I mention quick? The meatballs are done in less than 10 minutes. Now we're talking.

Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs
(adapted from Aidell's)

1 bag of Aidell's Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1/2 t. fresh ginger finely diced
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1 lb vegetables sliced (carrots, celery, broccoli, green beans, snow peas, red or green peppers)
1 t. cornstarch mixed with 2 t. water

1. In a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and ginger.
2. Place the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add meatballs. Sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the onion and garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
4. Add the vegetables, pour in the soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender.
6. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring the sauce back to a boil for 1-2 minutes to thicken the sauce.
7. Serve over rice or noodles.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wines from Spain

Hi everyone. Want some new wines to try this weekend? Attending a birthday party for a certain special someone and want to bring something yummy to the barbeque? (Happy Birthday dad!!!!)

Look for these wines when you're out and about. We tried them recently and they are really good. Both wines are from Spain. I'm not sure how easy they are to find. I know for sure you can buy them at The Spanish Table. So if you live in the Bay Area, Seattle or Santa Fe just go there.

The first wine was my favorite.

2008 Fronton de Oro Tintilla Gran Canaria

It's from the Canary Isands. It's made in extremely small quantities. So you better get your toosh to the store if you want to try this one.

The wine had flavors of dark cherry, raspberry and a slight floral aroma. Good stuff.

Retail price $27

Photo: Timanfaya National Park on Oct 2006, (katiecoos) From Trip Advisor

The second wine is from Ribera del Duero, which I'm pretty sure is in northern Spain close to France. It's made by a famous farmer/winemaker named Alejandro Fernandez. Which sounds really impressive when you roll the rr. Alejandrrrrrrrro. Right?

Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero 2006

This wine is 100% tempranillo, aged in American oak barrels. I definitely tasted the oak and black fruit and smokiness. The wine needs to breath a bit before drinking. It is recommended you open the bottle a half hour before drinking. I agree.

The 2005  vintage was on Wine Spectator's top 100 list. I thought this one was pretty good too.

Retail price $28

Here's another good one to try. It is on this year's Wine Spectator Top 100 list and it's ten bucks.

Have a great weekend!