California living and adventures in creativity

Apr 15

Cured lemons

I finally got around to making the cured lemons in Thomas Keller’s gorgeous Ad Hoc cookbook. You can access the recipe here. It’s a really simple process, and I thought the lemon slices looked so pretty with the sugar/salt mixture. The instructions say to wrap up the dish and keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

We have used our newly cured lemons in a marinade for halibut, in an aioli (with the halibut) as well as chopped up and tossed into quinoa. The intensity of the lemon flavor is wonderful, and we continue to brainstorm about other dishes we can use these in. Any suggestions are always welcome!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my spring giveaway!

Apr 6

Seedlings

This year I decided I would start some of my favorite summer plants by seed. I’ve never done this before, so I thought it would be fun to see how long it takes and I figured the sense of accomplishment would be even greater (assuming these little seedlings survive:). I purchased my seeds from Renee’s Garden, a wonderful California based seed company which has a wide variety of heirloom seeds. I ended up purchasing some Alpine Strawberry seeds (seedlings pictured), some cherry tomato and mesclun lettuce seeds. She also sells some wonderful mixed green cat grass seeds. Your cats will thank you if you grow some of these!

So all of my seeds have germinated at this point, but they are absolutely tiny. I have no idea whether they will survive. It seems impossible that such tiny seedlings could become real sized plants!

My other project is finally setting up a compost bin. I’ve wanted one for a long time, and with spring in the air, it is time. I found this great video about making your own compost bin on Sunset Magazine’s website. I can’t wait to not throw away any more kitchen scraps!

What are you planting this year?

tags:   gardening   compost   food and wine   home
Apr 1

A healthy chocolate cake?

This cake is absolutely scrumptious! It is not only super easy to make (all in one bowl), but it really is quite healthy given traditional chocolate cake recipes. It also fits my criteria of eating whole grains as much as possible.

Give it a try, you’ll be hooked!

Recipe & photo from Eating Well:

Ingredients

* 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
* 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup hot strong black coffee
* Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with a circle of wax paper.
2. Whisk flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, oil and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add hot coffee and beat to blend. (The batter will be quite thin.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from the pan, peel off the wax paper and let cool completely. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar before slicing.

Original recipe can be found here. Enjoy!

tags:   recipes   food and wine
Feb 17

Wisdom of the Last Farmer by David Mas Masumoto

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about food and the local food movement. Currently I am reading David Mas Masumoto’s latest book, Wisdom of the Last Farmer. I was introduced to Mr. Masumoto’s work through the recommendation of a local chef whom I respect a great deal. Mr. Masumoto’s family farm is most known for its peaches, and he writes about the beauty of his family farm as well as the hardships he and his family have endured.

Mr. Masumoto spoke at our local library recently about his book and his farm. Among other topics, he spoke of mindful eating and eating with our memories. Of course his example related to the peach. If you have eaten an incredibly juicy peach in your life time, you won’t forget it.

As a result of his book and others I’ve read, namely “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, my husband and I have decided to sign up for a weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) box. Stay tuned as our subscription starts in March….

tags:   david mas masumoto   home   peach   food and wine
Jan 21

Great cookbook!

I think that borrowing a cookbook from the library is the perfect way to test whether you really need to own it. My latest discovery is the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook. Typically I ignore branded cookbooks, but I am really liking this one. Given that I’m committed to eating whole grains wherever possible, I am totally intrigued by it’s extensive range of recipes.

Just the other day, my husband (a huge pancake lover and connoisseur) and I tried King Arthur’s Simple Spelt pancake recipe. They were absolutely yummy! If you are not familiar with spelt flour, you must try it (I find it at Whole Foods). It has a wonderful subtle nutty flavor to it which worked wonderfully with these pancakes.

Simple Spelt Pancakes
Yield: 16 pancakes
Cooking Time: 4-6 minutes

2 cups whole spelt flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
2 teaspoons vanilla (optional) - I would recommend it :)

Whisk together the spelt flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the milk and melted butter, and the vanilla if you’re using it. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened: it will seem very wet, but will thicken as it sits. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes. (this is very important)

Heat a non stick griddle. If your surface is not nonstick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil. When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across it, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to eliminate excess oil. and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4 cupful at a time. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, 2 to 3 minutes. When the cakes are just beginning to set flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side until they’re golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute more. Enjoy!

The next recipe we are going to try is their chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’ll let you know how it goes :)

tags:   food and wine   recipes
Jan 4

Stellar

This is one of many adjectives I could think of as I experienced the genius of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant in Napa this past weekend. Thanks to our genuine foodie friends who are incredibly attuned to the challenges of securing reservations at exclusive restaurants, my husband and I were able to experience our first food adventure in the Thomas Keller world.

Ad Hoc changes its menu every day, and what is on the menu is what you get. We waited with anticipation until their website revealed our future dinner that morning at about 10:05am (not that we were paying that much attention :). Honestly, I could have gone home after the salad. The combination of pickled chard, gorgeous butter lettuce, a buttermilk dressing to die for, and a whimsical garlic chip was a salad lover’s dream come true. This was followed by a spectacular main dish. I’m still dreaming about the roasted vegetables which were truly like nothing I’ve tasted before. I used to think my roasted vegetables were pretty good, but now they have been demoted to only mildly-acceptable.

The cheese course was an unexpected pleasure. The combination of the cheese and shortbread - which was more like a scone - with the tart blood orange marmalade was sublime. Finally, the dessert of a meyer lemon bar with bruleed meringue was simply divine and was the perfect ending to a unforgettable meal.

Amazing food and great company. You can’t beat it.

tags:   food and wine
Dec 21
Another amazing cookie recipe!

I realize this might be ginger cookie overkill given that I just posted about the Lemon Ginger cookies a few days ago, but for those of you who like dark chocolate, you will need to try these wonderful cookies, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

You can find the recipe for Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies here.  They really have a wonderful chewy texture and the unique combination of fresh ginger with dark chocolate is sublime! 

Enjoy!

Another amazing cookie recipe!

I realize this might be ginger cookie overkill given that I just posted about the Lemon Ginger cookies a few days ago, but for those of you who like dark chocolate, you will need to try these wonderful cookies, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

You can find the recipe for Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies here. They really have a wonderful chewy texture and the unique combination of fresh ginger with dark chocolate is sublime!

Enjoy!

tags:   christmas   food and wine   recipes
Dec 17
Favorite Christmas Cookie

My “go to” Christmas Cookie is the Lemon Ginger Cookie.  It has all of the qualities you look for in a cookie;  soft on the inside, little crust on the outside, great flavor, petite size (so you can have more than one), and quick and easy to make.  These make the perfect holiday gift to friends and family!

Here’s the recipe.  Try them, you won’t regret it!:

Lemon Ginger Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling cookies)
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp lemon rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon and set aside. With an electric mixer beat butter with brown sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and lemon rind until well blended. Stir in dry ingredients, half at a time, blending well after each addition.

Roll dough, one level tablespoon at a time, between palms of hands into balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches a part on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Do not overbake! Cookies will be soft in the center. Cool completely on wire racks.  Enjoy!

Favorite Christmas Cookie

My “go to” Christmas Cookie is the Lemon Ginger Cookie. It has all of the qualities you look for in a cookie; soft on the inside, little crust on the outside, great flavor, petite size (so you can have more than one), and quick and easy to make. These make the perfect holiday gift to friends and family!

Here’s the recipe. Try them, you won’t regret it!:

Lemon Ginger Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling cookies)
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp lemon rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon and set aside. With an electric mixer beat butter with brown sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and lemon rind until well blended. Stir in dry ingredients, half at a time, blending well after each addition.

Roll dough, one level tablespoon at a time, between palms of hands into balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches a part on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Do not overbake! Cookies will be soft in the center. Cool completely on wire racks. Enjoy!

tags:   christmas   food and wine   recipes

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About me

I live in Northern California with my husband and three cats (Pinky, Newbie & Henry). This blog explores creativity in many forms and simple daily pleasures. californiablue handcrafted jewelry is my creative outlet and inspired by where I live. Contact me

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