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!

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