10.29.2014

Food: Kendall Jackson Wine Dinner

Just a few photos from the Kendall Jackson Wine Dinner at Hennessey's in Seal Beach in September. They are having another one next week if you are interested!  They are pretty good and a great value for the price.  I had a great time with my Dad and Jan at this one! 






10.26.2014

Fabulous Oakland CA

Last weekend Library AC of THIS trip to San Francisco and THIS arboretum tour met me in Oakland California to try our a restaurant named The Souly Vegan. Spoiler alert: we never made it to that restaurant. The idea was born when we had dinner at The Lark in Santa Barbara with Dan from Oakland. Read about that dinner HERE. Library AC is mostly a vegan and there was a restaurant called The Souly Vegan in Oakland and Dan said if we come up we could stay with him and his family. Fast-forward six months and we did. The weather was fabulous and I have tons of photos from the trip....
I flew in early Friday morning. Library AC was at a conference and Oakland Dan was working. I had plans to meet both of them at the Oakland Museum of California for Friday Nights @OMCA later that day. I had flown in so early so T could still get to work on time and wasn't really sure what I should do. At the airport I picked up a BART (public transportation) schedule and saw this jem as well. Fun places to go on BART seemed like just what I needed. (And a special shout out to the friendly BART worker who stopped me from buying a $20 BART pass and suggested $10 would be fine. She was right!).


So my first destination? The Old Oakland Farmer's Market. I have a thing for Farmer's Markets...
The market was buzzing in the early morning and I enjoyed seeing a lot of produce used in Asian cooking at the market. Made me long for a kitchen. Instead I purchased some persimmons and snacked on them as I walked around Old Oakland looking for a place to have breakfast. I am a fan of Yelp and it helped direct me to Chop Bar where the strawberry-pear-orange aqua fresca I ordered looked like this....
Like a fancy cocktail, but it's not! Swanky. And delicious in a not sweet way. Kind of almost like early fall strawberries and pears should taste.... It inspired me to start making these again and maybe leaving out all the sugar.... but I'm daydreaming about this drink (yes it was that good) and should tell you I had Eggs ala Cazuela with Grilled Vegi Mojo which was two eggs baked in a roasted tomato-pepper sauce served with an arugula salad and some toasted baguette. Also very good. From there I walked around a bit and then made my way to the Oakland Museum of California.

The Oakland Museum of California is a museum that focuses on California art an the natural sciences and history of California. They also have great lockers to store luggage! I was meeting Library AC there around four and Oakland Dan and his family around six, So I decided to look explore the museum in the early afternoon. What a jem! The open garden on multiple levels feeds into the open architecture. A concrete building, I thought the museum did a great job of creating interesting exhibits on each level. I really enjoyed the hands on natural science and history section and was inspired by there small exhibit honoring the garage and the start of Silicon Valley.

That evening I enjoyed food trucks, live music, and a little vino at Friday Nights at the Oakland Museum of California with Library AC and Oakland Dan and his family. The museum was packed and I thought it was a cool thing they did. I of course loved the Food Trucks!
The next morning I went for a run before Library AC and I went to Berkeley to check out their Farmer's Market and the town. Berkeley was playing UCLA in college football and the BART was a little full...

After the Farmer's Market we walked around Berkeley a bit checking out some thrift stores and the Public Library. The Public Library had a vinyl record collection! We eventually stopped for lunch at Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen for some amazing cajun/creole food. I am still thinking about the hushpuppies.....

After a stop in Oakland we had dinner with Oakland Dan and his family in their home. His wife made some amazing Vietnamese sandwiches and then we played Bocci Ball on the court in their backyard! So fun.

The next day I went running with our friend's wife around Lake Merrit and we all had an amazing lunch at NIDO before Library AC and I headed to the airport where we had a few glasses of wine at Vino Volo and then were on our way.


I had a fabulous weekend in Oakland and look forward to my next trip there. Public transportation was amazing. The food was really good and staying with Oakland Dan and his family really made the trip. October is a busy month of trips for me and I had a great time getting to see Oakland!

Next up.... Santa Barbara!

10.20.2014

Crock Pot Chicken Stock

I'm a pretty big fan of rotisserie chicken. I use them for Lazy Girl's Chicken Soup and confessed that I Heart Chicken here. So when I came across a recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Broth on BudgetBytes a light bulb went off in my head. Finally something to do with all those rotisserie chicken bones that was easy and fast in terms of just putting everything in the crock pot. That night I got a rotisserie chicken and the next day I made my first batch of Crock Pot Chicken Stock.
I mostly used the Budget Bytes recipe for inspiration and added some poultry spices and Better than Bouillon to the stock before letting it cook in the crock pot for over six hours. Then I had some great chicken stock!

This concept has sort of rocked my world. It was that split second of "why didn't I think of that?" and then I jumped on the band wagon. I have made a lot of batches of this stock and am enjoying making all kinds of fun things. For awhile I was addicted to this recipe for Avila's Chicken Soup from a local Mexican restaurant. Now I am branching out and looking for new recipes to use all this chicken stock. Any recommendations?

10.12.2014

Bainbridge Island and Seattle

This past weekend the sisters, T, my Mom, and my Uncle B all traveled to Bainbridge Island, WA to stay with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins who live in the Pacific Northwest. The weather was beautiful. Food delicious. And we all had a great time. Fall was in the air and I was excited to escape the heat wave we were having in Southern California.

This adventure happened because of a group text back in July that included pictures of an amazing dinner the Pacific Northwest Aunt and Uncle were having. Somewhere in the text an invitation was offered for dinner. Multiple dates were tried and eventually it looked like only T and my Mom and I would be going. But then the sisters could maike it and then Uncle B. The whole family made the trip and I was greatful to the Light Rail and Ferry System so we could all make it to Bainbridge Island without multiple airport pick-ups.

Photo of the Light Rail stop at Pioneer Square. The buses and the Light Rail both use this stop!


Ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge. Cars laoding and then us watching Seattle shrink on the way to Bainbridge.


One of my cousins works at a shellfish hatchery and my Aunt had a fresh crab connection so our dinner the first night was fabulous! Steamed mussels, crab, salad from the garden, apple crumble (made with apples from the tree) and lots of wine!

Interesting fact about mussels. Did you know the orangish colored muscles are female?


After dinner we all watched a movie together and slowly turned in for the night.

The next day I woke up early for a run and then we had Crab Egg Benedict for breakfast! So good. I lived on Bainbridge Island in 2000 and ran to Battle Point Park back then too!

So a cool thing about the Island. When students are seniors in high school, the junior class goes around and puts encouraging sayings on the street in front fo the senior's home. It so cool to drive / run around the island and see.

And here is the amazing Crab Eggs Benedict! Frest crab. Cooked that morning.

The day got away from us a bit, but we visited the hatchery my cousin works at and a few port towns.


One of my favorite memories of this trip was sitting on the back porch with the family watching the sun desend toward the Olympic Mountains. T was flying his helicopter, we were chatting with a glass of wine or beer. My Aunt had some sort of cheese and cracker plate going around and it was just amazingly beautiful to sit on the puget sound and end the day. We did it everynight.



The next day my Mom and Sisters were leaving so we spent a little time in Seattle after putting my Mom on the Light Rail toward the airport. I took them to my favorite bakery, Piroski Piroski, we walked around Pike's Place Market, and the city a bit. My youngest cousin works and lives in Seattle and she and I took the ferry back to Bainbridge Island together for dinner with the family and the next day T and I spent a misty morning in Seattle with Uncle B eating at a few bakeries before flying home.

It feels a bit indulgent to take a trip like this. But at the end of the day I think it is important to spend time with family and live the life you want. I want a life filled with no regrets. When I look back, I want to be able to say I took risks, stopped to smell the flowers, and made a difference in my own life. So far I can, and little trips like this are just another brick in my path! It turns out I am pretty good at laying bricks and have a few more weekend adventures coming up. October is going to be a busy month!

10.02.2014

Sur La Table cooking class: Cuban Favorites Inspired by the movie "Chef"

Last night the Little Sister and I went to a cooking class at our local Sur La Table called Cuban Favorites Inspired by the movie "Chef". Have you seen this movie? I love it! It involves food and a fun cast of characters. When the Little Sister called me about this class I was in! Especially becasue it included the DVD.
The Little Sister has taken a few cooking classes here before, but this was my first time. When I lived in San Luis Obispo in the early 2000's I spent over a year volunteering at a Central Coast Culinary. I volunteered about once a week and learned a lot from Debbie Duggan (side note: T and I were in the Central Coast area last summer for a wedding and ran into her at our favorite restaurant Taco Temple!). Volunteering at the cooking school involved a lot of prep and sometimes some cooking. I was one of Debbie's "go to" volunteers early on because I would read the whole recipe before starting it. She said it was one of the things she noticed about me right away. That and probably that I asked questions when I didn't understand something. Like what does it mean to chiffonade basil.... I learned a lot at Central Coast Cullinary and looking back, realize it was one of the highlights of of my time there. T and I earned our degrees at Cal Ploy SLO and then we lived and worked there for three years afterwards. It was a fun time in our life...

Fast forward to the current fun times in our lives, and I found myself at my first cooking class in a long time. The structure of the class was simular to what I was used to with the Chef (Chef Ben) doing most of the cooking, but Sur La Table has the people taking the class work in teams (the Little Sister and I were with Erin and Ben) as we prepped the recipes for the night.


There were sixteen people in our class (it sold out) and one of them was the manager of Sur La Table. I figured out she worked there when she knew some extra details about the cookware. The Middle Sister used to work at Williams Sonoma and knew the same kind of details. The manager, Caroline, was awesome and when the class took a break the Little Sister and I enjoyed talking with her.

As I mentioned above, the Little Sister had taken some classes at Sur La Table before. Our class was different than the classes I was used to at Central Coast Culinary in SLO, but she said on our break that it was different from the other classes she had taken as well. The adjective I would use would be disorganized. But not really disorganized, just a little, like the Chef and kitchen assistants were trying to get in their groove. As a person who teaches for a living, I can totally understand this. When we came back after our break things went much more smoothly. As most of the prep was done, we got to the cooking and eating part! Our class created an assembly line to make our Cubanos (Cubanos recipe HERE!)

The Little Sister and our team of Erin and Ben were in charge of buttering and grilling the bread.

I was with another Elizabeth and we were the mustard girls. On down the line until the sandwiches were grilled and ready to eat!


We served them with Yucca Fries with Banana Ketchup. The Cubanos were amazing and the beignets for dessert were a perfect way to end the night.
I had a great time and I will be taking another class in the future. I love to eat and these classes are all about that! We left with all the recipies from the class, our Chef DVD, and a coupon for 10% our next cooking class. All in all, it was an evening well spent!

The only thing missing was a glass of wine.....maybe next time.....

Cheers!