Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Perfect Condiment

This is good on pretty much anything:

Roasted Goodness

1 medium eggplant
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic bulb
1 Tbs vinegar or lemon juice
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and fresh or dried herbs to taste.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Cut about ¾ inch off the top of the garlic bulb.
  3. Drizzle the inside of bulb with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Wrap bulb in foil.
  5. With a fork, poke several holes in the eggplant.
  6. Set eggplant and foil-wrapped bulb in a baking pan.
  7. Roast eggplant and garlic in oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Add quartered tomatoes to baking pan and roast for 15 more minutes.Remove from oven and let cool.
  9. When cool enough to handle, cut eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds (as much as possible).
  10. Puree eggplant, roasted garlic cloves, and tomatoes in food processor or blender.
  11. Blend in olive oil, vinegar/lemon, salt, pepper, herbs and crushed pepper.
Use like ketchup; perfect over eggs, pasta, grains, potatoes etc.

Notes: To remove roasted garlic cloves from bulb, turn upside down and squeeze from root end to top of bulb. The roasted clove should pop out from the cut end. I used crushed, red New Mexico chiles, lemon juice, and herbs de Provence.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's in the Box?

Every Thursday I get a box of locally grown fruits and vegetables and a half dozen eggs from Eatwell Farm. Every Thursday I have an afternoon snack: a veggie egg scramble. And every Thursday, the veggie scramble is amazing.

I originally join Eatwell’s CSA program because I knew it would force me cook at home. Before moving to San Francisco, I cooked almost every night. Then I moved within three blocks of Yummy Yummy Vietnamese, Jimisan, Park Chow, Pomelo on Judah… I couldn’t possibly cook with all those restaurants to try. Even after trying all the dining establishments in my neighborhood, why cook when there are other neighborhoods with fabulous restaurants?

The Box worked. Not only do I cook more, the Box forces me to be creative and find recipes to use up the week’s ingredients. It has noticeably improved my cooking skills. Seriously, before the Box I’d never even seen a whole fava bean. And now? I’m a Fava Bean Master.

Yesterday I made my veggie scramble with chard, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and a little garlic. The vegetables are picked ripe. The zucchini is crisp and the tomatoes so sweet, you hardly recognize them as tomatoes.

The yolks of the eggs are fat and bright orange. The first time I ate an Eatwell Farm egg, I freaked out. I’d never tasted a scrambled egg like it. I immediately cooked a second egg, but fried it instead.
(I have a thing for runny egg yolk.) The rich taste of the pasture raised egg yolk was… well, it changed my life. That was the moment I realized that food produced nearby, in the right way TASTES BETTER!

It is hard to describe the egg thing. You have to try one
for yourself. Just drop by on a Thursday afternoon. I’ll make you a veggie scramble that’ll blow your mind.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ode to Oklahoma

I went back to Oklahoma this weekend. My trips home have traditionally been an obligatory visit for family and a few close friends. I would sit through lunches and dinners listening to who got married and who’s having babies, which made me want get right back on a plane to San Francisco - where people wait until a decent age to commit themselves for eternity, if they ever do.

This trip was different. Maybe the novelty of San Francisco is wearing off. Maybe the more I get to know myself the more I realize Oklahoma made me who I am. Or maybe I just don’t know myself like I thought I did.

I spent my few days home with old friends who appreciate Irish whiskey, work in the wine industry, and give me tips on meditation. I was introduced to a great cup of coffee and a damn fine microbrewery. I went skinny dipping in warm lake water, saw shooting stars and enjoyed an old-fashioned Oklahoma thunderstorm – all the simple things I forgot I missed. Not to mention, there is just something about those Midwestern boys.

Although I know I’ll never move back to Oklahoma, it wasn’t such a bad place to grow up. It made me grounded and practical. And now that I think about it, I still catch myself calling it home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

and again...

I get bored easily. That might explain why I abandoned my blog after four postings. Or it could be that I’m not disciplined. It’s not that I haven’t been good at life, because I have. I struggle with writing, even though writing is essential to my marketing career (not to mention my journalism degree). I struggle with finding my voice. But in the end, this is just a documentation tool… And there are plenty of good-at-life occurrences worth documenting.

So I try, try again.

Friday, January 4, 2008

My Favorite Day - Part II

With the Holidaze over, I finally got around to posting what should have been my December entry. Enjoy…

The day before thanksgiving, I play hooky and head across the Golden Gate Bridge to a local Farmers Market. Typically on Sundays and Thursdays, the
San Rafael Civic Center Farmers Market – the best in the Bay Area – is open the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. With my list in hand, $80 bucks in my pocket, I scour the market in search of all the produce to make Thanksgiving feast for eight of my dear friends.

Did I actually expect to find everything on my list? No.

Did I find everything on my list? Amazingly, yes - right down to the pomegranate seeds from my Pommosas!

I get my yellow Charlotte potatoes from
Little Organic Farm in Petaluma. My arugula, and all my herbs come from the Marin Organics stand. The beautiful beets for the roasted beet salad I buy from Fully Belly Farm. I stop in downtown San Rafael and pick up sourdough for my dressing. With my Diestel turkey already brining at home – I’ve got everything I need.

A completely local Thanksgiving – that’s why I’m thankful to live in Northern California.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Favorite Day

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The year I graduated from college, I insist that my family celebrate Thanksgiving at my place. I recently got into cooking, and I was confident I could prepare the Thanksgiving meal – all by myself.

I do my research. I plan exactly how to prepare my turkey - brined in salt, sugar and citrus - then stuffed with garlic, lemon and herbs, and slow roasted. I find the most decadent garlic buttermilk mashed potato recipe. The cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and pear crostata are accounted for.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dad’s job was to bring the wine. He shows up at 11 a.m. with the mixings for sangria, two six packs of beer, and half a case of red. (I'm pretty sure I don't put down my wine glass until after dessert was served... Amazingly, I'm able to cook and the entire dinner with only one hand.)

Despite my intoxication level, when Mom shows up to help cook, everything’s done. She is shocked and beside herself, so I let her make the gravy (with strict instructions that she must deglaze with good white wine).

Around 4 p.m, dinner is on the table. Rave reviews for the turkey… “Moister than mom’s has ever been.” “So flavorful.” Even my picky sister exclaims: “OMG, the mashed potatoes are sooo good.”

Dad keeps the wine coming and by the time dinner ends, I am piss drunk. That’s right, piss drunk on my glorious Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, mom comes to the rescue and ensures I don’t wake up with my kitchen a total disaster.

That was the best thanksgiving ever. Since then, mom lets me make the Thanksgiving turkey. And the sweet potatoes. And at least two desserts.

This year will be my first Thanksgiving away from my family. I’ve invited a bunch of “orphaned” friends over to celebrate the day. This year’s menu is:

Champagne Pomegranate Cocktails
Red Onion and Gorgonzola Flatbreads
Pear and Sage Crostini

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Brined and Slow Roasted Deistel Turkey
Artichoke and Parmesan Dressing

Herb Mashed Potatoes
Brussels Sprout with Pancetta
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Guinness Stout Gingerbread Bars
Orange and Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie
Caramel Pear Tart (my thanksgiving signature)

Oh, and lot's of red wine.

I’ll miss you, mom!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Authentic Oktoberfest

I throw keg parties. I list microbrew tasting as a hobby. My default birthday gift for my friends is a six-pack of their favorite beer (or my favorite beer if they have an under-developed palate).

As a lover of all things beer, four days in Munich for Oktoberfest 2007 is the highlight of my imbibing career.

Just what you’d expect from the Germans, Oktoberfest is a well orchestrated festival embraced by the entire city and all of Bavaria. It’s a giant party sponsored by the city! It’s like throwing a raging house party, where the entire neighborhood shows up and the local cops work the door. Oh, and I should mention, this raging house party has really, really good beer.

I drink side-by-side with the Munich locals dressed in lederhosen and dirndl, the authentic Bavarian attire. We raise our liters of beer, prost (German for cheers) and drink. Surrounded by people that love beer as much as I do, I fall in love with the city of Munich. After three liters, what’s not to love?

Oktoberfest is celebrated all over the world this time of year. And by all means, partake. Partake and be merry. But know this:
Nothing beats the original.