Category Archives: inspiration and musings

Ouch

I’ll be honest. These pictures are more than a month old. I haven’t had purple basil in my kitchen since July and it’s been weeks since we sailed my dad’s boat up the California coast. I needed to look at something to remind me what life can be like when I’m able-bodied.

On Thursday morning I hurt my back at the gym. I spent most of the day hobbling around with a grimace on my face and lying on an ice pack. After a visit to the physical therapist (conveniently located in the same gym) and a massage (also at the gym!) I feel much better. I’m still not back to normal and my back will probably never be the same. I’m optimistic about being healed enough to to the triathlon we’re signed up for on the 16th. Rest and ice will get me there!

Rather than complaining about my compromised mobility, I thought I’d break this long post-less streak with some food and sailing pictures I’ve been accumulating.

This was kind of a fun trip, despite the fact that we spent more time motor-sailing than really sailing. We saw tons of wildlife, even sharing an anchorage with three humpback whales for a day. I only had one seasickness episode and one disastrous spill in the galley (wet coffee grounds get in EVERYTHING when they go flying across the boat).

Now Unbroken Wings is docked  next to Fish, my new favorite restaurant, and the Heath Ceramics factory store, which is equally drool-worthy.

Thanks to a Mariquita Farm bulk delivery today I have a flat of beautiful tomatoes and a basket of Fuji + Macintosh apples on my counter. I think I’m going to can some quartered tomatoes, and make something yummy to eat now with the rest. Lee and will eat as many of the apples as we can (he loves Macintosh and I’m a Fuji girl). The rest might become apples sauce or maybe even pie filling. Stay tuned!

With this looming change of seasons I feel a renewed sense of commitment to this blog. There is too much good food not to share.

I leave you with Golden Gate fog horns. Enjoy.

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French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

This post covers a lot of things, all of which revolve around what I ate for lunch today.

First, why I love weekdays off:

  1. I get to take Doc (the dog) for walks up and around Potrero hill and see how happy he is to trot down the sidewalk beside me.
  2. Relaxed oatmeal breakfasts with coffee and the Chronicle on my Kindle
  3. Multitasking laundry with baking, blog-reading, house cleaning and daydreaming.
  4. It doesn’t matter when I forget to brush my teeth until half way through the day.
  5. I can eat French toast for lunch.

That last one is the kicker. There are several things that I can only make for lunch when I’m at home. Smoothies have been my specialty of late but there was a time when I made French toast for lunch all the time. Why did I ever stop? True, French toast is something normal people eat for breakfast on weekends and may seem too fancy, complicated, or rich for an every-day lunch. My counterargument goes something like this: bread+egg+milk=French toast.

I know, I know. I’m glossing over all kinds of key components like (for some) sugar, butter and rivers of syrup. There is a time and place for that breakfast. For me, a simpler version is a perfect vehicle for fresh fruit at lunch time.

This is where the strawberries come in. I’m kind of a strawberry snob. I don’t think I could have turned out any other way after growing up in Southern California where dreamily fresh, delicious strawberries grew right down the road. I remember early summer as a time for gorging on half flats of strawberries from roadside stands. My mom knew the best places to buy them. We would pick some up on the way home from somewhere, rush to the kitchen and plunge berries into cold water before devouring as many as it took to decide whether or not they were the best strawberries we’d ever tasted. Sometimes they weren’t that great. Often enough, they were spectacularly sweet and luscious: not too soft but never crunchy and always tasting like summer.

I don’t know how we ate as many berries as we did. I know they went on cereal, ice cream, waffles, and salads. I think my brother and I mostly ate them whole and unaccompanied off of moist paper towels by the sink. My dad dipped strawberries in sour cream and brown sugar for dessert.

Yesterday I brought home this week’s CSA box and immediately dug the little container of strawberries out from underneath the greens. I ran cold water over one, bit into it and closed my eyes. I must have done the same with two or three more. Yum. This is what a strawberry is supposed to taste like.

This morning I had strawberries on my oatmeal. They melted into the hot bowl while I read the paper and drank my coffee – my day-off morning ritual. Afterwards, while walking Doc up and around the hill, I thought of French toast and knew I had to have it for lunch. There was goat cheese in the fridge…and strawberries.

French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 medium-sized strawberries, more or less
  • 1-2 oz. fresh chevre

Instructions

  1. Beat the egg and milk in a bowl.
  2. Add the nutmeg and vanilla, blending completely
  3. Pour the egg mixture into a flat pan or dish.
  4. Place both slices of bread in the dish, allowing one side of each slice absorb the liquid.
  5. Carefully flip bread slices after a few minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread a little oil or butter in the skillet.
  7. When the bread has absorbed most or all of the egg mixture, place it on the skillet and cook until browned to your liking, then flip and cook the other side. (I like to cover my toast while the first side is cooking. This helps the middle cook more fully.)
  8. While the toast cooks, wash your strawberries in cool water (Simply placing them in a bowl full of water is the gentlest way). Cut out the green tops and slice the berries.
  9. When the toast is done, place one slice on a plate, cover with sliced strawberries and a couple dabs of chevre. Layer the second slice of bread on top of the first (trust me, this helps melt the cheese and warm up the berries). Top this slice with the rest of the berries and a few more smears of chevre.
  10. Sit down with your meal and relax.
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The wait is over…and muffins

A somewhat random picture of our new dining room table. Isn't it gorgeous?

Ahhh, I just deleted a post that had been going stale as a draft for several days. Obviously it wasn’t right. I was trying to convey such monumental good news that I was getting more than a little carried away. Rather than dance around the issue for paragraph upon paragraph, I’ll get right to it.

I got a job!

Last Friday I received a phone call from the latest (and greatest) museum where I’d put in an application. They wanted to hire me! This job is so perfect, I would have been pretty bewildered if I didn’t get it. I’ll be doing very similar work to what I did before leaving Denver more than two years ago. I’ll spare the details for now. All that matters is that it’s something I love doing, I’ll be using my education, and getting some intellectual stimulation 3 days a week starting in April. Woohoo!

I’ve been riding the high from that news all week, although it has been somewhat muted by a sad development in the family. Almost simultaneous to the job offer, I found out that my favorite aunt has cancer. Yes, I am not afraid to admit that I have a favorite aunt (and yes, I do have several to choose from). This happens to be the aunt I’ve been closest to growing up.

Lee and I visited her last weekend. I brought homemade Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies from a Back to Her Roots recipe via a Foodzie Baking Box (These were some seriously good cookies. Make them!). Of course, there was already a fresh-baked apple crisp on the counter when we arrived. I wonder where I got my penchant for baking?

No one knows much yet but we are all hopeful.

Focusing on the positive: you might wonder why my job doesn’t start until April. The delay allows Lee and I to take our boat relocation trip that we’ve been planning for a long time. We have to move Pirat out of the hurricane minefield and into a more secure boat yard. Here’s some quick stats on the trip, in case you’re curious, and you can always check out our sailing story and my eventual posts on this leg over at Pirat.

 

Starting Point: St. Kitt’s, the Caribbean

First Destination: Aruba

Eventual Destination: Curacao

Miles to Cover: about 500 to Aruba and another 30 or so to Curacao

Projected Wind and Sea Conditions: 15-25 knots of wind and 6-8 foot, steep or very steep seas, both from behind us.

 

As you can imagine, I’ve been very busy getting ready for our trip this week (we’re leaving next Tuesday). Among other things, I needed to use my sourdough starter! Isn’t that a high priority before going away for 3 weeks? I really didn’t have time for any elaborate bread baking so I threw together some sourdough muffins this morning. I am thrilled that something I totally made up finally came out well! It seems like I’ve produced more flops than successes in my kitchen of late.

This time, I wanted a comfort muffin. I wanted lots of whole grain heartiness that I know will be difficult to come by in the Caribbean (they are really into their fluffy, sweet bread down there). I also wanted to use up some of the perishable foods in my fridge. On all counts, these muffins were a success.

Just a little disclaimer: my measurements in this recipe are approximate, except when it comes to the bran and flour, which I weighed. Don’t ask me why I wasn’t as precise with everything else! I fed my sourdough started with 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup water the night before. In the morning I refilled my starter container and use what remained from the feeding for this recipe. It looked like between 1 and 1.5 cups of starter. More starter would probably just make the muffins more most and a little more sour.

Sourdough Applesauce Bran Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups active sourdough starter (fed the night before)
  • 1.5 oz wheat bran
  • 1.5 oz oat bran
  • 2 oz whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • Generous dash of cinnamon (maybe 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped prunes or other dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Mix the brans, flour, and salt in a medium bowl (I just add them to the same bowl on top of my food scale).
  2. Combine with the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir until fully mixed. Cover bowl and allow to sit for an hour or two.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, applesauce, sugar, oil, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract and prunes.
  6. Add liquid mixture to dough that has been sitting, stirring until fully combined. It comes together eventually even though the dough is kinda doughy and the liquid is liquidy...)
  7. Spoon batter into a prepared muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are firm.
  8. Remove from oven and cool muffins on a wire rack.
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Two Left

My kitchen was full of food when I left town last week. I had spent Friday grocery shopping, baking bread, and making cookies. I wanted to make sure Lee would have enough to eat while I was gone without subsisting on chips+salsa.

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Look at those crunchy, buttery edges and chewy, oaty mountains of cookie!

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He ate pretty well on his own. Most of the sourdough loaf I’d baked was gone when I got home last night and Lee had left me a few cookies (four to be exact). Given the deliciousness of the cookies, I’m surprised he was able to restrain himself. These particular cookies came from the Foodzie Cookies & Confections Cooking Box that my mom sent me a few weeks ago. We ordered boxes for each other when they went on sale post-Christmas. I’ve had my eye on Foodzie’s extravagant Tasting and Cooking Boxes for a while but couldn’t justify buying one for myself. Isn’t that what moms are for? It was a perfect gift exchange.

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I photographed the goods as soon as they arrived.

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Only the recipe and one of the ingredients were really in the box. The rest came from my pantry.

After Lee and I each ate one for dessert last night, only two cookies remained. I have a feeling they’ll be gone by tomorrow!

I can’t decide which I love more: the cute recipe cards with cookies recipes from fantastic bloggers or the mouth-watering selection of special ingredients for those cookies. The edibles are ample supply for cookie baking and then some. The cards will add some heft to the cookie section of my recipe box and will probably be butter-stained in no time.

The recipe for Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Pistachios from The Vintage Mixer caught my eye first. I’m just an oatmeal cookie kind of girl. Every chewy, sweet bite of oats brings me complete dessert happiness and satisfaction, no milk dunking necessary. Rather than a vehicle for chocolate, sugar, or frosting, an oatmeal cookie is a real food all by itself. It’s what’s inside that counts. In this case, the Benjamin Twiggs Michigan Dried Red Cherries went a long way towards making an excellent cookie.

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I must confess, I used the walnuts and pecans that were already in my pantry rather than buying pistachios for this recipe. It’s hard to find shelled pistachios that aren’t already roasted and coated in salt! The nuts I used were great but I’m determined to have green hunks of goodness in my next batch of Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Pistachios.

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