Lucky Dozen: October challenge

A few weeks ago the Little Sister emailed me an October challenge she was thinking of doing.  It was the Lucky Dozen and I was in!

What is the Lucky Dozen?  Well basically it was an article that ran in Lucky Magazine a while ago where they took a bakers dozen (technically 13) pieces of clothing from the Banana Republic line and made thirty one days of outfits.  Fabulous! 

I was in for the challenge and we both were going to try to do it with clothing we already owned.  It was a fairly easy plan of swapping out a piece of clothing on the guide with one of the piece of clothing that I owned.  The only problem I discovered was that the majority of my clothes are black and the little sister insisted I try to wear some outfits with color.

The Lucky Dozen starts on October 1st and I have 31 outfits already planned and ready to go!

Here is the original Lucky Dozen:

And here are my Lucky Dozen for this month:

The only new piece of clothing is #12 for me.  I don't think I am going to go in order of the official Lucky Dozen calendar, but I am going to try to wear each outfit once.  I will try to post to my flickr account if you are interested in seeing my work week fashions.  Wish me luck!

Read how this challenge turned out at:
Reflections: Lucky Dozen October

Read a few more Lucky Dozen Challenges:
Lucky Dozen: Italy
Lucky Dozen: December


Farmer's Find: Honeydew Melon

I try to go to a local farmer's market once a week (at least!) and enjoy eating and cooking the foods I find there.  There are are certain foods I LOVE and I get excited each season when I see them in at the Farmer's Market.  Those foods are the things that tell me the seasons have changed and my mind and body are so grateful for them.

Then there are the foods I don't buy.  The items I walk by week after week and choose not to purchase.  It is nothing personal, I just have a limited amount of time to cook and want to get foods I will eat for sure.

But every once in a while I remember that I should look around and see what else is ready to go home with me.  I've noticed over the years that I will all of a sudden find a booth I didn't see at the Farmer's Market before.  Usually these booths are only selling one thing.  Kind of like saying, Our stuff is so good, we will only sell this one thing.  Now that is a gutsy statement.  And if the food is in season and looks good, I give it a try.  
Last weekend I discovered a booth at the Long Beach / Los Alamitos Marina Farmer's Market that sold honeydew melons. All they had were honeydew melons, and they had a lot of them.  I am usually a cantaloup girl (one of my happy foods) but the cantaloups I had bought for the last few weeks were falling short of the greatness they had earlier in the summer.   So I walked over to give this booth a try.  Now I know I have come to a good place when the guy selling the product, in this case a gentleman that looked like a cross between a cowboy and a farmer, asks when I am going to eat something.  The avocado guy is the same way.  The people who know their product know what is ripe, or when something is going to be perfect to eat.  I said I was planning on having some that day and putting the rest in the fridge.  He picked one out for me and I was on my way.

That cowboy/farmer knew his stuff!  When I got home and started cutting up that honeydew melon I couldn't stop eating it.  It was perfect.  So perfect in fact that I took a picture of the last two wedges I had so I could blog about it because I thought it was that good.  

I will be looking for the honeydew melon guy again this weekend but with the weather starting to cool off a little here in Southern California, I am not sure if he will be around for long.  And as sad as that makes me for the moment, it still excites me the fall foods are going to start showing up soon.  And when that happens, I can discover an other Farmer's Find.....


Pressure Cooker Ribs

T has been talking about getting a electric pressure cooker for about 8 months.  Maybe almost a year if I count the off handed comments dropped once in awhile.  The culprit was a co-worker of his who started bringing in chicken soup, ribs, and other things "he made in the pressure cooker".  T would mention that maybe we should get one and I would say "go for it".  I wasn't really sure if he would.

Truth be told, I do a lot of the "everyday" cooking in our house when one of us is cooking, but T seemed to be doing the lazy day, special cooking.  Like BBQ, or he will find a recipe and spend all Sunday making it.  I like to do the lazy day cooking too, but seemed too busy the last few months to even think about having fun when I was cooking.  That changed today when I whipped up a batch of Lazy Girl's Chicken Soup, but this story is about the Pressure Cooker.

So a few weeks ago T decided it was time to get the pressure cooker.  The co-worker had gotten his at Costco, but unfortunately Costco did not have it.  Sur La Table did not have it in stock and on the way to meet the Little Sister for dinner T realized we would be by a William-Sonoma and called to see if they had it in stock.  They did and the sales associate asked if they could hold it for him at the register if he was coming in to get it.  Oh William-Sonoma,  good job on sealing the deal.  So T sprinted off to William-Sonoma and returned with this Pressure Cooker as his date for dinner.
That weekend he made his first batch of ribs.  In case you are like me and not very knowledgeable about pressure cookers, they use pressure to cook things really quickly.  Like a rack of ribs.  They cooked those in 15 minutes.  Then T threw them on the BBQ with some sauce for a little smokey char and we devoured them.

Oh my.  I love me that pressure cooker.  The ribs were fantastic.  We rubbed them, put them in the pressure cooker,  threw them on the BBQ and I kicked myself for not buying this thing 8 months ago!  I am a fan.

Now T has made ribs three times with the pressure cooker and I am waiting for him expand on what he cooks with this thing, but am enjoying the ribs.  I flipped through the recipe book that can with the pressure cooker and saw you can make rice pudding and a cheese cake in it!  Hello!  When are we making those?  

I will keep you posted......



For the love of Figs, Fig Jam, & a project of the week.

Figs were popping up at Farmer's Markets the past few weeks in Southern California and they are one of my happy foods. As in.... they make me so happy when I see them in the market! The window is usually pretty small, just a few weeks, and I used to preciously guard my little basket of figs when I would bring them home. I am happy to say that has changed (just a bit) in the last year. I am going to blame this better attitude on the Little Sister.

My fig transformation story began last summer. I think of myself as a friendly neighbor but I realize I mostly talk to neighbors I live close to and wave at all the other neighbors. I find I know the names of my neighbor's dogs more than their owners sometimes. I live in a town-house, housing track and don’t often walk the back streets. That changed last summer when my little sister and I took a stroll around the neighborhood. It was one of those lazy strolls but very soon it turned into us finding all kinds of fruit trees and edible plants. We joked that we should make a map to keep track of where everything was. And now that I think of it…. we really should.

So my sister and I were walking around and we came across a fig tree. This fig tree was in back of someone’s house but also close to some parking. Clearly someone was taking care of it as it had CDs hanging in it to scare off birds (the CDs reflect light when they move). My sister said, “Let’s go see who’s tree this is”. And we did.

We knocked on the door of our neighbor Vito who did say it was his tree. We got to talking and he asked if we wanted some figs when they were rip? Ummmm….. YES PLEASE! He found out where I lived and a few weeks later there was a bag of figs at my door. They were so good, and the bags kept coming. I made my first batch of Black Pepper and Balsamic Fig Jam last year because I had so many figs.
This year the bags of figs started arriving over a month ago and it was like Christmas morning each time I saw one. Vito even included two jars of his Italian Fig and Cinnamon Jam with one of the bags. So good!  I was in fig heaven.
Soon it became clear to me, that I was going to have a lot of figs.  Bags would arrive every week or so and soon I ran out of room in my fridge.  I started freezing cut up figs and using them in breakfast smoothies (so good) and then started making some jam when I realized I had about four pounds of figs in my fridge.  I even got Vito's Italian: Fig and Cinnamon Jam recipe and made a batch of that.

I am counting figs as a Project of the Week, (even though it is more like a project of the month) because I have had to come up with things to do with all the figs I got for the last month.  I can't imagine how Vito handled all those figs before he got to send some off to me and my sister.  I think he has made a few gallons of jam this summer with the figs he kept.  That tree is a great and wonderful beast!

Monday morning I got up at 5am to make my last batch of jam (until I get more figs) with the super ripe figs in my fridge.  I went with the Balsamic and Black Pepper Fig Jam adapted from AD Hoc (the Thomas Keller book) because my friends love it and always ask for more.  I always suggest serving it with manchego cheese!
I love figs and am so lucky to have a local supplier.  I can't wait for my next bag to arrive.



Project of the Week: Fall Garden

Last week (before Labor Day) I finished the Project of the Week to plant my Fall Garden.  I had finished my garden plan and then prepped my garden boxes for the fall and planted away.  I am happy to say that the beets and fava beans are popping up and my broccoli transplants are starting to get over their shock.
I even created some garden bowls with succulents passed off to me.  Over all it was a highly successful project.  Check that off my list!


Foods of August (2012)

August is officially over and with it the foods of summer are slowly turning into the foods of fall.  I love eating seasonally and had some great food in August.  As the pictures on my phone (below) clearly show.

T perfected the ABC (avocado, bacon, cheese) burger this summer.
Donna Hay: Summer Lunch prepared by the Little Sister
Maple Bacon Donut at the OC Fair
Fig flatbread pizza at Seasons 52 where every item is under 500 calories
Donna Hay: Vegetarian Fare prepared by the Little Sister
Tatter-tots from Iron Press
Mussels at Dublin4 Gastropub
Chicken breast baked with lemon and feta (a Donna Hay recipe)
Donna Hay: Summer Night prepared by the Little Sister

Over all August had a mix of eating in and eating out.  Either way, I found great food and am looking forward to September.



Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! Get those white pants out and rock them for one last day. Have that leisurely BBQ and say an official farewell to Summer 2012.

Minus the white pants, that is what I will be doing today. That and doing some labor of love around the house today. I hope you have a great "end of summer" day too!