Thursday, January 5, 2012

A 'winter' afternoon

It is 65 degrees, the sliding doors are open to the balcony and blue sky, the neighbors' lemon and orange trees are in full fruit, I'm listening to this and this and this, and life is good.

Today was also a weird coincidence of my colorful meals matching the rest of my life...

Beet, clementine, and avocado salad Avocado on toast
(and my purple Rich+Skinny jeans) (and my beloved green kitchen chairs)

The salad was an attempt at this one from the January 2012 Runner's World, though it was pretty bland-- and looks nothing like the picture, even if you try. As is my opinion with almost everything, I think it'd be better on toast.

Speaking of which, I bought $11 walnut oil for this RW recipe (and decided, wisely, to nix the raspberry vinegar and inch-long piece of black licorice. Come on, people... I can't afford to spend $25 on specialty things, it just needs to taste good.) Back to the walnut oil: I bought it, it didn't make a difference, and now my pantry is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Enter the miracle of avocado on toast: two pieces of whole-wheat sourdough, a quarter of an avocado, and a drizzle of walnut oil, and behold:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On returns.

I'm back after a prolonged absence, once again, though I promise it's not for lack of cooking. Though the post-work evening light during the winter provides for some spectacular sunset views from my kitchen, it makes for pretty sorry lighting. And, as it tends to go, no pictures= no posts.

The nestle-down season of winter is, however, pretty good for one thing (not skiing-- we're not discussing my Christmas 'ski vacation' without an inch of the white stuff in sight.) Nope-- it's cooking music. Here are a few of my favorite combinations over the past month:

Banana pancakes and Bon Iver, for Saturday mornings

Sliced, seeded & shortbread cookies and She & Him, for the family gatherings

Apple, cabbage, & caraway soup and Tallest Man on Earth, for sticking to my New Year's Resolutions

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Being post-college puts you in that weird place of being between families. You identify less as a child in the in which family you were raised, though not quite an adult responsible for your own family. Instead, birthdays and some holidays get celebrated with and the crazy community "family" of friends that you may get to choose more than biological family, though there still seems to be a quirky Uncle Paul in the corner, a loud Aunt Sally who drinks too much, poor cousin Ben who will always be the butt of all the jokes, and more than enough food and revelry to go around.

For our Friends-giving, I judiciously chose a harvest salad as my contribution because 1) it's freaking delicious, 2) it balances the creamed corn, mashed potatoes, biscuits, stuffing, and sweet potatoes that were other offerings, and 3) I don't feel as guilty eating leftovers because this isn't my only Thanksgiving feast this year. It's like pre-gaming family Thanksgiving with more Thanksgiving. That, just like the real thing, leads to an overload and ensuing Thanksgiving hangover if you're not too careful. Not that I'm one to argue with that. I just like to keep it at one hangover per weekend, thankyouverymuch.

My contributions:

Harvest Salad
1/2 cup of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of spiced pecans (I used TJ's Sweet and Spicy pecans, then chopped them up a little smaller)
1 Asian pear, sliced (I also cut each slice into thirds to make them more bite-size)
a half-pound of fresh baby spinach

For the vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
a pinch of sugar
a couple grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all the dry components of the salad, emulsify the vinaigrette, and toss the salad in dressing. The dressed salad actually kept surprisingly well-- the picture below shows it on day three.

Classic Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
Zest of one orange, plus a squeeze or two of the juice

Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add cranberries and orange zest and return to a boil. Boil gently* for about 12 minutes. Add a squeeze or two of orange juice (I squeezed one slice). Cover and cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate until it is ready to be served.

*I didn't, and ended up with burned sugar in the drip pan under the burner, which turned to black stickiness, which turned to char, which turned to a smoking emergency. This was also on a Saturday night before heading out in attempts to be ahead of the game, which slightly backfired.

I didn't take any photos of the actual preparation process (see above, re: shitshow scramble to get everything together), but buying two too many pears, two too many oranges, and having leftovers of everything you brought to dinner combined with the fact that you're not even going to be home for the next five days, and you get creative. Maybe I should've just called this blog "creating under pressure." Regardless, orange slices and black tea go excellently with that old chocolate zucchini bread (which froze very well, actually) for breakfast, a hunk of sourdough bread paired with the remainders of the salad made for a delicious lunch, and dessert was half an Asian pear, sliced and browned in 1/2 Tbsp. of butter (just enough to soften and sweeten it) with warmed-up cranberry sauce for dessert. Let's not discuss dinner, which was a disaster of an omelet that turned into burned scrambled eggs. Well, I'm trying.

The pears and cranberry sauce were delicious, though if I could have, I would've reduced the sugar in the sauce by 1/4 cup, reduced the water just a touch, and served with yogurt. It was a little too sugary, but hey, it's all I had to work with.

And one final Fall color picture...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend in review

Fall colors, Farmer's Market, hazy hangover memories, and fresh pumpkin pie. Not pictured: black rain clouds, Big Game victory celebrations, dancing, and a 20-person "Friends-giving" by candlelight. Of all weekends, this is one for the books.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Found: the perfect holiday dress

I'm trying (clearly, not hard enough) to curtail impulse buys, but sometimes the perfect dress just comes along and I can't help myself. This dress from Anthropologie is perfect for my cousin's winter wedding, and I'm psyched about it. I think I'm going to plan a holiday party or two aka more opportunities to wear it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad

I'm on an Alice Waters kick. It's true. Because if the woman can invent an amazing salad that tastes like the best of summer and fall out of TWO ingredients (plus two extras) for a total of $6 and it's easy to make ahead for the entire week of lunches well, then you've got a winner. I bought her cookbook specifically because of this salad, used it for only that, and then shelved it and forgot about it for over a year until last week, when my fall craving came on strong. So the salad is back with a vengeance. I've eaten it--in all its various incarnations-- every day since I bought the makings nine days ago. Maybe now I can branch out to the other 386 pages of recipes...

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad
Adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

3 ripe fuyu persimmons
1/2 pomegranate
a few large handfuls of frisée (curly endive) or spring mix *optional
a small handful of spiced pecans (I used Trader Joe's Sweet and Spicy Pecans)

For the vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (don't skimp on the pepper... it adds the best spicy kick to the sweet persimmon and tart pomegranate)

1. Cut the tops off, peel, and cut up the persimmons.
2. Seed the pomegranate. I do this by cutting the pomegranate in half, then scoring each half down the middle of the skin. Submerge the halves in a bowl of water and break apart to avoid the juice from staining everything. The pith will float, the seeds will sink. Skim off the pith and pour the water off the seeds. You can use this same bowl to dress/assemble your salad.
3. Dress salad with vinaigrette and serve.

As a fruit salad, cut the persimmon into slices and top with pomegranates and freshly cracked pepper.
As a lunch or side salad, cube the persimmon, mix with pomegranate seeds, and serve with frisée, spiced pecans, and a piece of warm, crusty bread.

To make it in a batch for a week of lunches, I use 4 persimmons and a whole pomegranate, dress the fruit, and store it in an airtight bowl in the fridge. In the morning, spoon some of the fruit over a container of spring mix, top with pecans, and you're good to go.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend in Review.

November 13. Reuniting with my oldest friend visiting on a business trip... amazing how it only takes minutes before a resurgence of our same old goofiness. Not pictured: pizza, salad, and gelato in North Beach, noses in books at City Lights bookstore, and the weekend bookended by two coffee and pastry dates with another friend visiting for a wedding. Reunions abound :)