10 December 2010

friday :: pretty

~pretty, pretty paperwhites~
Have a beautiful weekend!

06 December 2010

because boys need to nurture too

Allow me to introduce our home's newest, cuddliest friend...

aw, baby doll

"Baby Doll" -- made by yours truly for Jacky's birthday. 

He had been requesting a doll for a while, after seeing some pictures of them in books. He stared and stared at the photos, intrigued and strangely shy. As his birthday drew near, I checked in with him again ("are you sure? you still want a doll?" mm-hmm.). I dove in and made one, hoping he'd actually like it.

Birthday morning: I placed Baby in a cluster of stuffed animals and waited for him to notice... Instantly: "baby doll!"  KISS. Cuddle.

All together... awwwwwww.

aw, baby doll

Inspired by Waldorf dolls, and a Martha riff in this crafting encyclopedia. Fashioned out of too-small jammies and mama love. Awwwww.

aw, baby doll


03 December 2010

lately, early december

morning, december 1
best breakfast backdrop
winter jammies, panda & comfort
fall morning: warm jammies, panda & a little comfort
inherited begonia
new houseplants: begonias from mother-in-law, an expert houseplant keeper
inherited begonia
i've long admired this plant at the in-law's. those spots are perfectly silver, and the leaf shape is like wings
country loaf - hemispheres
the bread is non-stop. so addictive to bake--eating is the bonus
country loaf
mmm, holey deliciousness
paperwhites, getting started
...and a little later. baby flowers, in utero
walnuts and amaryllis, emerging

29 November 2010

the turkey is two

Two years ago, on a beautiful sunny, crisp Fall day (much like today), this little man entered our world. Made us a Mama and a Dada, and oh so in awe of how it feels to love a little person so much.

jacky : two

First, we called you The Turkey (near-holiday due date), then it was Mister Man, then Jacky. Now YOU call yourself Baby Tacky.

jacky : two

You give sweet kisses to everyone and everything--pictures of puppies, your cousins' class photos, inanimate objects, vegetables, your new mama-made buddy (above)--AND you drive a mean (toy) jackhammer.

jacky : two

You are our precious, funny, smart and wonderful little guy. Happy Birthday Jacky!


10 November 2010

I baked beautiful triplets

...and I couldn't be prouder. My first naturally-leavened bread! 

And, let me tell you: this is some amazing bread. Hearty but light. Crispy and elastic. Very flavorful, but not overpowering. And so simple: flour, water, salt and seeds. And love.


I'm hooked. I will gladly keep tending my starter if it means the bread can keep coming. No problem.

seeded loaf
Tartine recipe for Seeded Wholegrain Loaf
seeded loaf
seedy and delicious
seeded loaf
homemade bread + goat cheese, herbs, S&P = perfect breakfast
seedy (loaf) breakfast
and what is Jacky's verdict?
seedy (loaf) breakfast
"more please!"

08 November 2010

moment with jacky

shoes in the sun

shoes in the sun

shoes in the sun

shoes in the sun

02 November 2010

dreaming of bread

mmm, crusty

Somehow, between reading a couple of books about bread-making and tending a natural starter, I've gotten a little obsessed with trying to make good rustic bread. I'm talking actual dreams about bread starters. And, I don't seem to be the only one. At least everywhere I'm looking, bread is... well, hot. (Sorry. But, seriously, wasn't it ages ago that we were all so carb-ophobic? I like this much better.)

Anyway, by way of an update: as I mentioned previously, I started off with this book. Some loaves have come out beautifully, some just OK. All edible though! Especially with tonight's homemade butter. Can't really go wrong there.

But, I'm still looking for more flavor and the perfect juxtaposition of a tortured-looking crust, and delicate, moist interior. And more flavor. Which led to some other reading. Which led to my hoping to receive Tartine Bread for my birthday last week, courtesy of my long-distance brother. Who asked the actual author to drop a signed copy off at my house. Nice. Thanks again, Max. (And thanks, Chad, for making the walk up our hill.)

Onward with more reading and baking. I'll be baking my first naturally-leavened loaves this weekend. Can't wait.

mmm, crusty

28 October 2010

Today... 37th edition

Today... is my birthday. 

37, huh? I can honestly say that 37 is starting to sound like a big number. Not in a bad way at all, since I really do enjoy getting older, and hopefully better (!). 37 just has a substantial ring to my ear. 

Maybe it's a line I'm crossing. Do I get to choose what it means? Yes, I think so. It's my birthday after all :)

So, let's take stock and do the Birthday Questionnaire. (Here's last year's, for fun)


Outside my window
... Slanted Fall sunshine. Windows. Other people in their skyscraper perches: sitting, working, talking, eating, reading, daydreaming. (Sometimes sleeping.)

I am thinking... about my Mom. I woke up in the middle of the night, shortly after the time of my birth. I was thinking about her, 37 years ago, in recovery with a new, pink little baby girl.

I am thankful for... Toddler hugs and kisses. In all their random forms. Even this morning's goopy lick.

From the kitchen... My other "baby": natural bread starter. Almost time for some baking.

I am wearing... Plaid with a nipped waist. And my favorite shoes (itty bitty heels), purchased a couple of birthdays ago.

I am creating... Lists, sketches and notes on what I want my future to be like. It may involve change... the good kind :)

I am going... to Tadich Grill tonight for the best cioppino in the city.

I am reading... Lots of book descriptions. I neeeeeeed something new to read. I've been on a reading tear for a few months now (yes!), and managed to get through a pretty sizeable stack. But now I have nothing on my bedside shelf... argh.

I am hoping... to find time and energy to make the important things in life happen. Not just the to-do list.

I am hearing... the tea kettle, almost at the boil.

Around the house... The pitter-patter of toddler feet.  The smell of baking bread.  The woosh of the heater kicking on for the first time this Fall.  Pumpkins.  Sniffles and TheraFlu.  "Meoooooooow"

One of my favorite things... Cold, crisp Fall air. (Wasn't it 90 degrees just 2 weeks ago?!)

A few plans for the rest of the week... Muir Woods with Kristen and Capitola for cousin fun.

A picture to share...

Montana, Summer 2010 :: photo by Toby

26 October 2010

where's my pot pie woman?!

chix pot pie!

Heh. We got some cheap chuckles out of that old joke tonight. But, yep -- I took the weekend's chicken leftovers and made my man a pot pie. 

One for me too.

So yummy! So Fall. And pretty no?

chix pot pie!

If you have some leftover chicken, a few staples and some puff pastry hiding in your freezer (You really should; it's just civilized.), make yourself an easy-peasy dinner. I whipped ours up yesterday afternoon, for a breezy post-work meal tonight. If I'd had more leftovers, I would have made more and crammed them in the freezer. Somehow.

// Chicken Pot Pie recipe //

And, I'm skipping the mealplanning post this week. It's the start of the birthday season (mine included!) so we'll be having a rare meal out later this week (yay!). Plus, a totally non-glamorous work thing another night. Happy cooking this week!

chix pot pie!

19 October 2010

we plan, we cook, we eat.

Meal planning for the rest of the week. 

Tonight, we winged it. Toby has been under the weather, so he went with classic medicine: grilled cheese and Cambell's chicken noodle soup

For me, it was french-y onion soup + green beans vinaigrette from the garden. (Green beans are just now coming on -- weird year.)
// dinner plans //

Wed :: 
Pasta Cacio e Pepe w/Tuscan-style* veg
Thu :: Kale (& ham?) frittata
Fri :: Skirt steak, sautéed spinach & bistro potatoes
Sat :: Lemon-y whole roasted chicken,
fried chickpeas w/chorizo & spinach (UPDATE: perhaps we'll add Mark Bittman's Preserved Lemons on the side. I've always wanted to make this relish. His version is a quick pseudo-pickle, but might be a good start?)

Sun :: DIY pizzas (mine: homemade tapenade + fresh mozz)
Mon :: Taco night w/leftover steak

// lunch options //

Green beans vinaigrette
Turkey meatball & tapenade sandwich (on homemade bread)
Panzanella (yes, still!)
Onion soup
// bake //

Tartine Seeded Bread -- a little birdie hinted I might get a copy of the new book for my bday. This will be a test run, courtesy of Gwynnie. I, too, want to learn about natural leavening.

what are you cooking this week?


*According to Mario Batali, Tuscans love to sautée all types of vegetables in olive oil, garlic, sage and basil. We throw in some lemon juice and call it delicious.

photo via NYTimes.com

18 October 2010

some days...


Some days you wake up to this. 

Like all those perfect pink puffy clouds are telling you, hey you: some days were meant for amazing stuff. 

Now, amazing is a relative term, mind you.


These days, what I think is pretty amazing is knocking out a monster "have-to-do" and "want-to-do" list during one of Jacky's naps. 

Today, I had unstoppable energy during his snooze. Now, granted, he is a wicked sleeper and his one daily nap is long (I think we're entering the terrible twos a month early... saying "no" so often must tire the little guy out--ha)... anyway, I am usually way too tired to attempt just three of these things during a nap, but I was astonished with my output today.

:: pat on the back ::

If I may humbly submit to the internets for posterity... During one toddler nap, today I:

:: made lunch (sardine salad on flax toast...mmm)
:: roasted sweet potato fries (for Jacky's dinners this week)
:: baked flatbread "chips" (ditto)
:: mixed up roasted red pepper goat cheese spread
:: made tapenade
:: zested 15 lemons and doubled last week's limoncello batch
:: started some smokey chipotle vinegar (for dashing on braised kale)
:: made stewed onions soup base
:: started a new batch of bread dough
:: shaped a loaf of bread to rise
:: drank a cup of tea
:: started laundry

Even tonight, after the usual Monday night house cleaning date with Toby (romantic), I am still amped. What gives? No, better question: what can I do next while this high lasts??!! 

For it surely won't be long........


12 October 2010

we plan, we cook, we eat.

Meal planning*, weekend-bound...

// dinner plans //

Wed :: Spaghetti Carbonara
Thu :: Anniversary drinks after work... DIY pizzas at home
Fri :: Corralito's Market house marinade skirt steak w/spinach, smashed potatoes
Sat :: Chicken stuffed with mushroom duxelles**, braised cavolo nero, fried leftover smashed potatoes
Sun :: Wild salmon w/veg in parchment
Mon :: Taco night with steak leftovers, rice + beans

// lunch options //

Panzanella with homemade bread leftovers
Stewed onions with marjoram soup**

// always room? //

To me, meal planning is about sharing ideas -- so, what are you cooking this week?


* With a blessing from Jora, the queen of Meal Planning Mondays, our household is going to try some planning of our own. Our normal cooking falls into a usual rhythm--special steak on Fridays, Tacos on Mondays, mid-week carbonara or other pasta--which is a sort of predictability that works for us. Some of the other days, we walk into the kitchen with less of a plan. It's my hope that a little planning will make us a bit more frugal, organized, and perhaps try more of the recipes that I compulsively hoard, I mean bookmark.

** From Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone -- my current favorite book on preserving and cooking.

tart photo via martha

11 October 2010

time to make limoncello

making limoncello

making limoncello

making limoncello

Early October is the time to make limoncello, if you want to give some away for the holidays -- which you should! It's sooo good, and makes people very happy. Plus it's an excuse to find some cute bottles and maybe make some custom labels. Fun (in my book at least!).

We use this recipe.

Today, I started one batch (2 750-ml bottles of vodka + peels from 15 organic lemons), but as you can see, our new, huge vat has room for MUCH more happiness. Round two coming up soon.

09 October 2010

hunter s. toddler

the hat

Ladies and gentlemen, we're having a Hat Moment.

the hat

All day yesterday, most of today.

the hat

And while these photos may be cute, the most darling thing is this: the hat is a hand-me-down of sorts, from Jacky's cousin who is roughly the same age, but a bit bigger (is that called a lateral, then?). 

When I told Jacky where the hat (and shoes he's holding) came from, he was so captivated with this sharing (a huge concept right now)... he wouldn't take off the hat. Or put down the shoes.

Cousin love. So sweet.

07 October 2010

i snorted in my coffee

Holy macchiato, watch this. It's a trifecta of giggles: I love good coffee, I love this city... and I love making fun of this deadly-serious-about-food city.

Incidentally, I used to have a studio space around the corner from the Hayes Valley BB... so true, so true.

05 October 2010

still life with garlic & Heath

garlic braid

I nurtured this garlic all Spring and Summer, but it's funny: the most satisfying thing was braiding them all together. Maybe it was how pretty they look, or how much I love to eat garlic... or maybe how dusting off my french-braiding skills took me waaaay back to junior high. Woah.

garlic braid

04 October 2010

have blackberry monster, make fruity syrup

Blackberries. Sheesh, we've got blackberries. Coming out of our ears! As I've mentioned too many times, this is the season I love that bramble-y beast out back. The rest of the year, it's my nemesis.

But, in late summer-early fall, who can hate? We eat a ton of berries in this house, and when it comes to our blackberries: no annoying little plastic boxes to recycle/reuse... no money handed over. Happy berry city.

mmm, blackberry syrup

Normally I wouldn't carry on and brag so much about what we're growing out back. But, let me be clear: we're NOT growing these berries. I never planted them. These invasive brambles cover most of this part of San Francisco, and they'd take over our yard if given a fraction of a chance.

mmm, blackberry syrup

Fall may be easing in around these parts, but blackberries are still coming strong. Some are so high up that I could never reach them. To the birds with you!

For these we can reach, we eat them out back, on the way inside, at meals. We've been freezing them in big batches. My only beef with blackberries is the high seed-to-good stuff ratio. Crunch, crunch.

mmm, blackberry syrup

So, recently, I busted out a good strainer, some sugar and made a nice batch of blackberry syrup for pancakes. YUM! So easy, so good. Jacky doesn't usually get much sugar in my kitchen, but this was a worthy indulgence. He likey.

mmm, blackberry syrup

Easy Blackberry Syrup
Most recipes call for a way higher sugar-to-fruit ratio (like 1:1), but that seems insane to me. So, my syrup is more fruity than tooth-achingly sweet.

1.5 lbs blackberries, picked over and washed
1 c. sugar
1 strip of lemon peel (optional)

Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottom pot and bring to a boil. Continue cooking for a few minutes until slightly thicker. Dump into a fine-mesh strainer, placed over a bowl. Allow liquid to strain out, then push any remaining liquid through mesh with a spoon. Discard solids and bottle up syrup in clean glass jars or pitchers. Store in fridge.

Serve on pancakes, waffles, etc... or stir into drinks!


30 September 2010

coast to coast

farewell to max

farewell to max
~photos by Toby~

This has been a year of of change. Change that happens, change that looms, change that's contemplated. Some exciting, some difficult, some disheartening. People gone, excitement that fades, but also new ideas that spark and burn bright, new journeys begun. The connective tissues of life... tested, stretched, broken at times.

Change. Isn't there a song?

Tonight, we had my youngest brother Max over for a farewell dinner. It was like any other: we gathered, played with Jacky, who danced around in his diaper and played peek-a-boo and talked about kitties and tools and kisses... then we ate and talked. And then Max started his van up and coaxed it up over our hill for the last time... for a good while. In a couple days, he'll point that van onto the highway and drive to the other side of the country. For a bright, shining new chapter in his already interesting life.

We've lived in the same adopted city for a long, long time. I remember helping him move into the dorms at college up here, and I was both excited for him and astounded that my "baby" brother--who we joke I still sometimes think of as 4; he's almost 30--was making such a big, important step. 

Tonight, I'm having deja vu all over again. Only I'm not helping him find his dorm room, I'm waving good-bye as he heads off down a road that I can't really make out from my vantage point. It's a path that he'll have to discover for himself.

I hugged him tightly and thought about the excitement of a cross-country drive, which I've always wanted to do. I thought of the lure of living in other cities, which once captivated me. I was excited for him. I am excited for him. I told him not goodbye but that I'll see you soon.

I wished him a safe journey, and that he would find what ever his heart yearns for in New York. I smiled as he walked down our steps. And then I cried as he drove away.
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