Category Archives: inspiration and musings

For lack of a better word

Thanksgiving was…more than week ago. It actually seems much farther in the past now. I want to write something about our gathering and meal before I forget!

Lee, a friend, and I went to my dad and his wife’s (it seems strange to call her my stepmother) house in Napa on Thursday morning. I had baked my dessert contribution (this Chestnut Pound Cake) the night before. Smelling the cake in the oven really got me in the mood for the holidays!

I also brought a giant cooler full of food. There was a huge head of cauliflower I planned to roast for dinner, ingredients for Beet-Ginger Chutney, and some other random goodies like a pomegranate and several persimmons in case we needed another salad. Oh, and there was an emergency container of Trader Joe’s shelf-stable whipping cream just in case!

Napa is beautiful in the fall and it’s the perfect place for a Thanksgiving gathering. We hung out at the house, snacking and cooking. Snitching crumbs of dried out cornbread and biscuits meant for the dressing was the best part. It felt like such a luxury to be able to lounge around all day, not to mention spend the entire day with my husband and family. Doc liked it too.

Eventually, people started to dribble in. There weren’t really that many of us there for dinner – eight I think. We took went for a lovely little walk before the final push in the kitchen.

Someone set the table as the sun was sinking to window level. There was slight panic when we realized we needed a second oven, followed by relief when we discovered that the microwave doubled as a convection oven.

We sat down for dinner at a pretty normal dinner time (maybe 7?). Here’s the menu:

Turkey + gravy (for the omnivorous majority)

My grandmother’s cornbread dressing

Pumpkin ravioli with browned butter and sage (omg this was so good – like a dessert!)

Curry roasted cauliflower and Beet-Ginger Chutney

Green salad with hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds

Homemade cranberry sauce

Green beans with bacon dressing (and a bacon-less portion for me!)

I think that was it…The cornbread dressing, beloved timeless classic that it is, was the star of the meal. There was enough for days of the best leftovers ever! I will have to find out what brand the ravioli was. I think it came from Whole Foods. It was absolutely delicious with a slight almond flavor.

Dessert was bountiful. We had homemade pumpkin pie, homemade pecan pie, and my Chestnut Pound Cake, all topped with whipped cream.

After dinner entertainment was lots of fun. We got everyone to play Cranium, making the homey-family gathering complete. After that everything is a fuzzy food-coma memory.

Isn’t he cute?

The rest of the long weekend was equally great. No Black Friday shopping for us. Lee was sick, unfortunately, so I did a good bit of running on my own. I even went to a Body Pump class on Saturday morning, something I haven’t done for a long time. We visited my dad’s cousins a my second cousins on Saturday (wow, there’s a lot of ‘em) and went to see Skyfall (loved it!).

Lee and I spent the night at the boat on Saturday and went sailing with my dad, his wife, and a friend of mine from work on Sunday. So yeah, it was a pretty idyllic weekend. I’m hoping that becomes the new norm! This weekend looks like it’s going to be pretty great too (It’s raining in SF and I love the rain!).

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Foodbuzz Festival 2012

This post is long overdue. I’m afraid I won’t do this event justice by waiting so long to write about it. I’ll just try to bring myself back to that weekend by conjuring the taste of Mission Minis cupcakes, TCHO chocolate, fresh Alaska Seafood, and all the other fabulous things I consumed.

Foodbuzz may no longer be Foodbuzz but their annual blogger festival in San Francisco lives on. When we moved to SF last year, I was thrilled to finally be in the same city as the festival. As a local, how could I not attend?

Last year I was very overwhelmed by all the people and blogger cliques that seemed impenetrable to me. I didn’t last through all the events that weekend because I was discouraged about how my blog compared to everyone else’s. That experience and the severe lack of effort I’d been putting into my blog over the past few months made me somewhat wary of this years festival. Would I end up feeling inadequate and isolated again? I figured I’d either be really discouraged by the whole thing and quit blogging altogether, or really inspired and reinvigorated by the experience.

Things turned out somewhere in between those two scenarios. I did two things differently that made a huge difference in how much I enjoyed myself this time around. First, I skipped the initial cocktail/greeting event on Friday night. Last year this was the scariest part of the whole thing for me. I didn’t know anyone, and I have a tough time in large crowds of people where everyone seems to be grouped-up already. As a non-drinker, cocktails and appetizers have never really been my thing.

The second change I made was who I brought with me to the events I did attend. Last year I took my husband to the Taste Pavillion. Since there were no conference sessions this time around, the Taste Pavillion was the first part of the festival I attended on Saturday. I brought a friend from work who share a lot of my taste in food and appreciates local companies, which made up most of the exhibitors.  She and I had a blast sampling products and talking to company reps. It also helped that I hadn’t been to a big dinner even the night before, unlike last year.

I was a complete flake of a food blogger and didn’t take a single picture at the Taste Pavillion. I would apologize to all the exhibitors whose products I sampled but didn’t promote on my blog with a photo-ridden recap post but it’s not like I’m a big name blogger with lots of readers to influence. Sorry. Now I’m getting cynical. Back to the positive.

The festival shwag bag was awesome this year! Each blogger got an entire NatureBox full of healthy snacks (which I am already enjoying)! There were also plenty of California Walnuts to go around – so…delicious…

It was great having a friend to split samples with (I didn’t have room for an entire biscuit of each flavor Biscuit Bender had to offer, delicious as they were) and there was truly some wonderful food on hand. I was really impressed with all the Alaska Seafood offerings. The fish was fresh and perfectly un-fishy. Sonoma Brinery pickles and sauerkraut were definitely a favorite and I will be looking for LickPops at the SOMA Street Food Park next time I’m there (winter or not).

I know I live in the best food city ever (dont’ even argue) but all the local food businesses at the Taste Pavillion were still a welcome surprise. I really admire the hard work and dedication it must take to start a food-related business and I don’t think I realized how many of the brands I love come from the Bay Area. Did you know that Numi Tea is from the East Bay and  family owned Sola Bee Farms is making sustainably harvested honey in Petaluma?

I didn’t expect to have so much to say about the Foodbuzz Festival! I guess I’ll have to continue with the gala dinner in a second post!

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Here’s the deal

In my last post, I promised to explain how MuffinEgg is going to change. This is a really rough, stream-of-consciousness-style list that I’ve been building in my head for months now. You see, I’ve known for a while that I wanted to do things differently here. I just needed a little nudge!

First, here are some things I like (starting with the blog-related):

  • Writing
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Reading about other people’s cooking, eating, life, etc.
  • Looking at those people’s incredible pictures
  • Being involved in the blogging “community”

and the rest:

  • Being active (see below)
  • Being the slowest person on the masters’ swim team
  • Triathlons!
  • Sailing, especially with my husband
  • Being outdoors, preferably as far from civilization as possible
  • Getting to the top of the literal and figurative mountain and making it back in one piece
  • Thinking, reading, and talking about interesting stuff
  • Museums!

 

You may have noticed that neither of these lists includes photography – food or otherwise. That’s because I am always frustrated with my photography skills and therefore rarely satisfied with my pictures. I have this fancy camera that I barely know how to use! I think I would enjoy photography a lot more if I knew what I was doing and could actually take decent pictures (other than by accident and thanks only to my camera’s mysterious abilities).  Add that to the list of things to work on.

There are a few other things that need to change in order for blogging to work for me. First, I need to loosen up. That goes for my own perfectionism that prevents me from posting when something isn’t perfect, as well as this blog’s content. I often find myself wanting to write - needing to share – but don’t do so because I wouldn’t be posting a recipe or pretty food pictures. I feel stuck in the cook, eat, photograph, post rubric. It just doesn’t work for my current lifestyle and interests.

I guess that’s really number two: I want - need - to write about different things! I don’t think blogging about every little detail of my entire life is right for me but I don’t want to be confined to the food realm. There is so much more to life than cooking and eating, as wonderful as it is. Personally, I started reading blogs for the food but I connect to people and keep reading for the other things. I think of it like a conversation over dinner: we’re enjoying a wonderful meal that has brought us together to have an equally wonderful conversation.

Now I’ve lost my train of thought…perhaps because it’s now a different day and a different lunch break at work. I’m going to go against what I think I should do and end this post without any cohesive final thought.

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Dear Blog,

pimiento de padron peppers – so good but gone now

I am going through a blogging identity crisis. Scratch that, call it a real-life identity crisis. I have this job that I like. It’s only part-time but I was just bumped up from 2.5 to 3 days a week. This week I also start a temporary job in the same museum that will bring me to 5 full days of work per week! This is going to sound lame, but this will be my first ever full-time employment. I haven’t done anything five days a week since college (even then, each days classes were different).

Starting a full-time job gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel so, so lucky to finally be employed after almost a year of searching and several years of vagrant ocean wandering. However, I tend to feel pretty overwhelmed by life without working 9-5. I know it’s my perfectionist, controlling tendencies that make time management a high-anxiety issue for me. If I could just chill out and go with the flow for a while then things would likely get easier.

I made this delicious carrot-apple cake for my birthday and never posted it!

What does all this have to do with the blog? Well, I have mixed feelings about blogging right now too. This blog is one of many sources of stress in my life right now. I feel guilty for not posting and frustrated that MuffinEgg is falling into neglect after failing to become as “successful” as I hoped it would. Those thought start me wondering about the point of writing a blog. Do I do this for me? Am I just looking for attention (not that there’s really anything wrong with that)? What am I really gaining from the cook>photograph>write (oh yeah, and eat) process nowadays?

The answers? blogging just isn’t as fulfilling as it once was. Yes, I like attention. I wish it didn’t matter but I think I’d enjoy the validation of more readership and involvement in the blogging community. Most importantly, I’m not getting much out of writing this blog right now.

Yuck. I sound like a self-help book. I’ll get to the point: I’m at a crossroads with two choices that I can see. 1) Quit; 2) Change things. I’m choosing option #2. Yay!

Remember when I used to bake bread? I miss my soudough starter : (

So as not to overwhelm anyone who might read this and keep things simple for myself, I’ll leave it at that for now. I have a whole slough of exciting ideas for the new-and-improved MuffinEgg but I’ll save those for another post. Here’s a fun and philosophical bit of dialogue I overheard today.

Someone’s response to the question “How you been?”:  “I would say living the dream, but, I’d be lying.”

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