Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today is a good day.

Ladies and gentlemen today is an Odd Thursday and I always look forward to this day. Why? Well it's because today I picked up this:

That's right I went to pick up my unassuming cardboard box, but surely you know that appearances are deceiving right? This box contains something I love, something that think about day in and day out, something that makes me happy.

Are you ready for this? This revelation?

Really the suspense would be killing me if I were you.

Yes that's right I got PRODUCE! Fresh, local organic produce from my CSA at Eatwell Farms.

This week I got:
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Bok Choy
  • Eggplant
  • Gypsy Peppers
  • Serrano Chile Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Fuyu Persimmons
  • Granny Smith Apples
Not a bad haul huh? I've been getting a share of produce and eggs from them for well over a year now and I really like it. I get lovely produce, fruit and eggs that are all organic at a very reasonable price. I do an every other week delivery, because it's simply too much food for one week and that way I can still stop by the local farmer's market for anything I might need.

I love getting my box to see what's inside, because although they post what they might put in the box a week ahead oftentimes there are last minute variations or it's simply not specific enough (like I know there will be tomatoes, but not what kind). Sometimes the surprise is good like the time I got a heirloom melon that for the life of me I can't remember the name of. Sometimes the surprise is bad like in the spring when I kept getting cabbage which is not really one of my favorite veggies.

However, that's party of what's great about a CSA is that it forces you to be inventive with your cooking and pushes you out of your culinary rut. It also connects you with the seasons, with the farms and the local food community. I like knowing that what I put into my body is free of extra chemicals and that I am supporting a farmer. In addition to all of that the produce is really really tasty I mean so fresh and lovely. Oh and the eggs please don't get me started on the eggs! I get half a dozen every other week and they are not only the largest eggs ever they also have such lovely yolks and whites. Really yellow firm yolks that are perfect when cooked slightly runny just the way I like them

So this is why I love every Odd Thursdays. Produce and eggs baby produce and eggs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Ah my darlings I'm hoping you have a spectacularly spooky Halloween. Have fun and be safe!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkins and Gourds

Last weekend me and a friend drove out to Half Moon Bay to pick up some pumpkins. I adore pumpkin patches. I love seeing the families with little children picking out their perfect gourd. I love the piles of hay all over and stacks of pumpkins. The best part about the pumpkin patch is that it means that fall is really and truly here. The pumpkin patch announces the changing of the seasons with it's slew of winter squash declaring with their bright color fall has arrived.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Great Tomato Debacle

A few weeks ago I did something stupid something very very stupid. I bought 2 boxes of tomatoes to make salsa from a produce club I belong to. The produce club is from Marquita Farms and they sell produce in the city when they have an extra large harvest that they can't sell at restaurants or at farmers markets. So I decided that canning some salsa and fresh tomatoes seemed like a great idea. Which it probably would have been if I hadn't bought 2 boxes of tomatoes filled to the brim with tomatoes which would go bad if not canned or eaten soon. I way underestimated how many tomatoes would come in a box.

See the thing is that a week before this tomato incident I had already canned some tomatoes and made some sun dried tomatoes so this bunch of tomatoes was defiantly in excess. I picked up the tomatoes on Thursday afternoon and spent pretty much the rest of the weekend processing the tomatoes. I boiled tomatoes, peeled tomatoes, boiled jars, boiled lids and boiled the lids some more. Do you notice how much boiling there is going on here? My kitchen was a mess of pots, jars and tomatoes. I made raw packed tomatoes, salsa, Italian crushed tomatoes, regular crushed tomatoes and I ate tomatoes all weekend also. At the end of the weekend I was sick of tomatoes really really sick of tomatoes, but I am grateful that I will have tomatoes for the pantry.

Almost done canning the second box of tomatoes

From the left salsa, raw-pack tomatoes and crushed Italian tomatoes

I must admit though that those tomatoes look so nice all lined up. I ended up with 7 quarts of raw packed tomatoes, 7 pints of salsa and 8 pints of crushed tomatoes. If you ever feel like attempting canning tomatoes or canning food in any capacity check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation. These are the guidelines I use to ensure my canned goods are safe and they even have tasty recipes which I also use. I will NOT be canning tomatoes anytime soon, but I might consider making some jelly soon. A small batch of course.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Intimate Dinner for Miss Z. and Guest

Lately I've made some huge changes in my life and while it's all been exciting it's also been very stressful. My life in the past 6 months has changed drastically professionally and personally. I've decided to pursue a longtime dream of finally changing careers and personally I've made many small changes that seem to add up. I've been taking it one step at a time, but there are times when the stress is overwhelming. There's a the thrill of the unknown and the sneaking fear that snakes it's way into my heart as I contemplate my new uncertain future. In times like this what's a girl to do, but to have a handsome surfer come over to my house for dinner. It's always a joy to be able to sit down with him talking about our weeks and relaxing with a plate of food.

It's been a stressful couple of months and the last few weeks in particular as I've been trying to nail down the little details. There's still miscellaneous items to be worked out, but for the moment I was ready to simply relax with a nice intimate dinner. I cooked because Surfer Boy we'll call him E. for now on doesn't cook at all. He's particularly amazed when he looks in my fridge and sees fresh food that needs to be prepared. Apparently it's shocking to him that anybody would take the time to cook when something can be so easily microwaved. Although, that has never stopped him from eating anything I make or requesting that I make him his favorite dish of chicken pesto pasta. Thankfully like my father I enjoy cooking and sharing my joy of life through my food.

We started off with a cheese plate, which frankly I didn't take pictures of since E. devoured it all before I could take pictures. It was however for the record a nice cheese plate with double creme Gouda, jack cheese, salami, crackers and grapes. I would like you readers to know though that double cream Gouda is amazing lusciously creamy and soft with amazing amounts of yummy flavor.

We sat down to a dinner of roasted mushroom ravioli from Home Maid Ravioli Co. bought at my local farmer's market topped with a creamy sun dried tomato sauce. On the side was shiitake and asparagus saute and white wine of course. We lit the candles sipped our wine and just talked while eating. It was a peaceful way to end a stressful week and I'm so glad that I had somebody to share it with. There are days when I need nothing more than a ear tilted my way and E. provided that. I finally relaxed for the first time in weeks just being present with somebody who makes me laugh so much. Then we ended up in food coma from the raviolis with the amazing cream sauce. Yummy!

Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce:
1/2 Cup sun-dried tomato pesto
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup of whole milk, half and half or cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons minced basil

1) On med. heat melt butter for 1-2 minutes. Once butter is melted add in flour and make a light roux another 3-4 minutes.
2) Add sun dried tomato pesto to the roux and stir till incorporated. At this point add the milk in a little at a time being careful not to scald the milk. If the sauce is too thick add in more milk or even a little pasta cooking water.
3) Toss with the cooked pasta and garnish with basil.

Sauteed Shiitake & Asparagus:
1 cup or 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

1) On med. heat heat up the olive oil. In the meantime slice the shiitakes and asparagus.
2) Once the oil is hot stir in the shiitakes and saute for 4-5 minutes until the shiitakes start to get a little brown.
3) Toss the asparagus and saute for another 7-10 minutes. Add in salt at the end and pepper to taste.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Waiting for you......

Fresh Figs
Earlier today I went with a friend to Pier 39 along Fisherman's Wharf to check out a venue for his birthday. It was a gloriously hot sunny day and I was so happy to be out wearing a sundress. The best part of the day was that amidst the crowds of tourists I found this little fruit stand. It was selling the most luscious looking fruit and little plastic containers of chocolate to dip them in. There were the first figs of the season and strawberries piled high. Grapes spilled out of the crates and I could smell the peaches nectarines nestled in their crates. I wanted that fruit, though lusted after might be a better way to describe how I was feeling. Seeing those figs made me understand how in the world Eve could have taken a bite of that forbidden fruit. It was torture seeing it all there so ripe and waiting.

However, I asked how much the figs were and balked at the $8.95 per pint price tag. Especially when I know that soon figs will be in season and will flood my local farmer's market. I promise that you my beautiful figs that I'll buy you up then. I'll roast my figs up with a little honey and devour you with a dollop of ice-cream on top. I walked away empty handed today, but I'll be waiting for you my sweet little figs.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Simpler is better

The other day I put together this little salad of mine from some of my favorite flavors from summer. A little cucumber, tomato and dill topped with some briny capers to liven things up a bit and verjus from a local winery. It's amazingly simple and I love all the bright flavors mixed together.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad Miss Z's Way
1 large heirloom tomato
1/2 English cucumber
1 tablespoon capers drained or rinsed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon verjus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh dill
fresh black pepper to taste

1) Chop the cucumber and tomato. Mince the dill very fine.
2) Toss all the ingredients together.
3) Eat & Enjoy

Friday, August 7, 2009

Flowers Galore

Ah summer in San Francisco means fog and cold chilly nights that call for a cuddly blanket. Lately the city has been so cold that I've been turning on the heat at night. I walk around the house wearing sweatpants, tee shirt, sweater, socks and slippers. Looking outside the fog is so thick that looking at the sky is like looking into a cloud. This weather makes me long for hot nights with a cold beer in hand. So imagine my joy when on Tuesday it was warm! Plus it was a free Tuesday at the The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Which meant it was time for me to play tourist in my own city.
The building itself is amazing. I mean really I drive by it and I think to myself how charming and lovely it looks. A building with character and I have a personal fondness for domed buildings. I think it makes them look more elegant and stately like a woman wearing a big hat it's unique. A huge part of that stems from me being from Charlottesville, Va home of Thomas Jefferson who built his home Monticello with a huge dome. However, I digress let's get back to the important part the flowers.
Outside there's formal flower beds arranged in rainbow hues for people to enjoy. I was wandering outside and there was the cutest mother and two daughters. They were doing a little mini photo shoot outside and it reminded me of when I was a child. I got super nostalgic thinking about the times my family and I used to do the exact same thing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Once my Dad took me to those gardens by myself and bought me a huge ice cream cone which I of course promptly dropped on the ground. There were no such ice cream tragedies on this day as I was too busy playing tourist in my own town snapping pictures.
Pink tropical flower
Orchid on a tree trunk
Soft pretty moss
I love playing tourist in my own town. I get to fall in love with my city all over again and get reminded of all the reasons why I moved here. That's all that takes me to make me happy a warm day and some pretty sights.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jealous Much?

Yep if you aren't jealous of this picture you should be. I just had it for a little mid afternoon snack slash treat for myself. Fresh organic strawberries with mint from my balcony and homemade creme fraiche. If you haven't tried creme fraiche please do yourself a favor and try it. You can eat it the way I did over some fresh fruit or in place of sour cream on top of some soup. I have some white peaches in my fruit bowl that are going to be smothered in this creamy treat later on.

Anyhow, I've been reading a lot about food lately and in one of book full of tips I read about making your own creme fraiche. I remember none of the other tips of that book nor the book name, but I remembered that you can make your own creme fraiche with a little bit of buttermilk and whipping cream. I HAD to try it. Creme fraiche is a thickened creme that tastes somewhere like a yogurt and a cream cheese mixed together. It's sold in some stores, but it's expensive if you can find it. I've seen it called for in recipes for fancy appetizers, on soup, and for desserts. I had it first with some potato pancakes and caviar. Occasionally I would see it in the store and stare at it longingly, but remind myself that non-fat yogurt is healthier and cheaper. Only problem is now that I know how to make it easily and it's not expensive.

So you know what this means for me? Fruit smothered with cream all summer long. Then I plan on licking the bowl after the fruit is gone to get that last bit of creme fraiche up...after I can't let it go to waste. Oh yes. I promise I only do that in the privacy of my own home, but I know you've done it too when something was too good to resist.

Homemade Creme Fraiche:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoon buttermilk

1) Combine the whipping cream and buttermilk in a clean jar. Let sit out at room temperature loosely covered for 8-24 hours until thickened until desired consistency. Put it in the fridge when it reaches the desired consistency where it will keep to 2 weeks. In the fridge it will slowly thicken more.

*Also if leaving dairy out at room temperature bothers you then heat the mixture slowly on the stove until 110F then leave it out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

City girl gone country

Well I'm here in Canada about an hour north of Edmonton visiting my lovely mother. I don't get to see my mother often so this visit is a treat. Especially since we are in rural Canada with some of the most amazing scenery around. I haven't taken much pictures of the scenery as I've been too busy enjoying it, but to give you an idea of how nice it is here right now as I write I'm sitting in the breakfast nook listening to the trees move in the wind and insects chirping outside. I did however manage to take pictures of some of the animals I've met so far.

View from the plane
Grass fed cattle
Butterfly Horse named Happy Go Lucky Dottie the Pig
Deer in the field

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lunch to go

Everybody as a child has a comfort food and one of mine as a child was spaghetti noodles with soy sauce and little sesame oil. Salty and delicious with that little hint of flavor from the sesame oil. Lately I've been realizing how that's not exactly the healthiest thing in the world to eat so I've been trying to reinvent it. So what I've come up with is the following recipe, which is actually what I make for lunch quite often as it travels well and it just as good cold as it is hot. The funny thing though is that soba noodles are a recent discovery for me, as I had never even heard of them until I moved to SF. After all little Chinese girls living in Virginia don't really eat Japanese food and the ethnic markets I went to were mostly geared towards Chinese immigrants such as myself.

In case you were wondering soba noodles are a thin buckwheat noodles that are used often in Japanese cooking. You can serve them with dipping sauces or as a part of a soup. They're equally good cold as they are hot and have a bit of a nutty taste to them. Very versatile.

So today I actually made this for my own lunch and for a good friend of mine. We were supposed to have lunch together, but he couldn't stay as he had errands to run. Instead I packed up his lunch brought it out to the car and sent him on his way.

Soba Noodle Lunch:
8 oz. soba noodles
1/2 cup of scallions chopped
1 cup of shitake mushrooms sliced
2 1/2 cups of snow peas
1/2 cup of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
3 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of canola oil

1) Cook the soba noodles in boiling water
2) In a wok heat the oil to med-high heat. When the oil is hot add in the snow peas and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.
3) While the snow peas are in the pot stir together the vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds and soy sauce for the dressing.
4) After the snow peas are starting to cook up a bit stir in the scallions and shitakes. Keep on stir frying until the snow peas are starting to wilt just a tiny bit. They should still be very crispy.
5) Drain the noodles and stir in the dressing along with the veggies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Whole wheat and loving it

A few weeks ago I made this luscious salad for a casual dinner with some friends at my house. I was looking to use up some whole wheat pasta that I've had in my pantry for ages. I'm not a fan of whole wheat pasta, because it tastes a little off to me. Too hearty, too much texture and too much flavor in it or in other words it tasted too healthy. However, this particular night I was feeling healthy and in the need of a light flavorful dish.

So I pondered and poked about in my pantry and fridge for some culinary inspiration. What resulted was this pretty pasta salad made from pantry staples and produce from my Eatwell Farms CSA box. It was perfect as a side dish along with some roasted salmon. I loved it so much that a week later I made a huge batch of it for my bookclub girls where it garnered some rave reviews. The best part is that it's amazingly simple.

Lemon & Asparagus Pasta Salad
8 oz. whole wheat pasta
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup of lemon juice or juice of 3 lemons
3 cups or 1 bunch of asparagus chopped
1/2 cup of shaved Parmesan
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

1) In a large pot set pasta to boil. When pasta is halfway done about 6-8 minutes add in asparagus. The asparagus just needs a couple of minutes to get nice and tender.
2) Meanwhile in a bowl start juicing lemons and zest one. Add in salt, pepper, olive oil and whisk together.
3) Drain pasta and asparagus. While still warm toss with the olive oil and lemon mixture. Top with Parmesan. If the pasta salad will melt the cheese a little bit making it extra savory.

Gifts from the sea

Went to ocean beach yesterday for a long walk along the sand since it was such an amazingly sunny day for San Fran. Along the way I found so many sand dollars and seashells washed along the shore. They're going to be a gift for Mom since last time she was at my house she was eyeing some of the sand dollars I've already collected. She loves it when I collect stuff like this and since she doesn't live anywhere near a beach. Aren't they pretty?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Craft Fair in Town

I'm so excited, because The Renegade Craft Fair is back in SF on July 18th and 19th. I went last year and it was so cool to see everyone with their crafts. At the time I didn't bring enough money with me, but I'm going back this year with dollars in hand. Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Haute Camping

Camping to me usually involves bugs, rocks digging into my back, lots of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, sitting around the campfire and of course s'mores. Well only in the Bay Area does camping also involve wine tasting in Sonoma county and walks along the beach. I went this past weekend to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County for a little trek into the wilderness and wine tasting. It was amazing camping along the beach at Bodega Dunes watching the sunset over the ocean, while sipping on wines bought that day from the wineries we visited. The company was amazing thanks to an eclectic group of characters whom I really enjoyed getting to know. There's something about being gathered around a campfire that really loosens the tongue or it could have been the wine. Either way it was great company!

During the weekend we also had some wonderful local eats that I wish that you could try.
  • Oysters from Tomales Bay Oyster Co. Which we shucked right at the campsite for some raw eating and then later popped over the fire for some BBQ'd oysters.
  • Sonomic Vinegar which we didn't actually eat right away, but had tasted at a Kastania Vineyards. The Vinegar was a really sweet tangy balsamic reduction with hints of wine. It was complex and super tasty. I can't wait to try it at home over some grilled veggies.
  • I bought dessert wine at Point Reyes Winery for some champagne cocktails.
  • The next day involved a visit to Iron Horse Vineyards, where the champagne went straight to my head. There was also Chateau St. Jean, which was seriously beautiful as was Cline Cellars.
  • In between the wineries we managed to stop by Marin French Cheese Co. where there was garlic flavored brie. Yum! We took our wine and cheese to picnic at Kozlowski Farms where they make their own preserves and pies. Frankly my dear I'm not even a fan of pie, but that strawberry pie pretty much made me a pie convert.
In case you were wondering yes I did spend pretty much the whole entire weekend eating and drinking wine. Seriously the best way camp ever and makes me so glad I live within driving distance of these spots. The good news though is that most of these places we visited ship!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bathtub Dreams

I went camping this weekend and on our way back we passed by a field with a bathtub in it. Somehow I started dreaming about how wonderful it would be to take a bath outside. It's been so long since I've had the simple pleasure of a bubble bath and then to combine it with the outdoors would be such a luxury. Especially if I get to wear my hat and boots as well.

Photos by Southern Charm

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great Loves

Two of my greatest loves together at last. Shoes and books. Bliss in one picture.

From The Cherry Blossom Girl.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Secrets of In-N-Out

If you're like me you get cravings for fatty greasy junk food occasionally. Well in my case it's actually pretty often, but I do try and resist until I can't take it longer and then I get a cheeseburger. Since I've moved out to the West Coast one of my favorite places to go is In-N-Out for some double double action. The attraction to In-n-Out is all about it's fresh food with never frozen beef patties and hand cut fries. Most of all the allure of In-n-Out is in the secret menu. My own personal favorite order there off the secret menu is a double double meal protein style and animal style. Code for a double cheeseburger with no bun wrapped in lettuce with grilled onions and secret sauce. All served with fries and a drink. Amazingly delicious and a total indulgence for me.

Well the menu is actually not so secret anymore considering everyone orders off it and there have been numerous blog posts about it. In fact In-n-Out acknowledges the secret menu on their official website here. Still there's more to know apparently In-n-Out prints bible references on it's packaging as blogged about by Timbotron over at They write about the discreet bible references on the food packaging over at In-n-Out. Next time I go to I have to check out the packaging to see if it's really true.

Back to the regularly scheduled program let's talk about that Secret menu! The actual menu only has milkshakes, fries, cheeseburger, hamburger and a double double or double cheeseburger. The secret menu has burgers and fries prepared a variety of ways which are listed here at The secret menu has sprouted ridiculous feats of gluttony such as the 100x100. That's right 100 patties between two buns. Urban legend? Apparently not says Will(apparently he lives in San Francisco) he blogged about the whole experience here.

Insane! Still I'm glad somebody proved this urban legend and that it wasn't me that had to eat all of that. I'll stick to my regular order thank you very much.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hey Mama

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and called your mother to wish her Happy Mother's Day. I had the most fun relaxing weekend and I'm feeling particularly lucky at the moment. Are you wondering why I feel so lucky?

A few days ago I emailed my mother, then other day I was chatting on IM with my cousin in China and I spent the weekend with some amazing friends. What this all has me thinking about is the path that my life has taken me. After all I was born in Shanghai as a second child and a girl no less in a country where boys are seen as the bearer of hope for future generations. Yet my parents left and brought me to the States. I'm here and I'm blessed to have the opportunities that have come my way such as going to college, working in a career of my choice, being able to vote in what I believe in and to voice my opinion. These are privileges that I don't take lightly.

Yet this weekend what really struck me as I was emailing my mother was the sudden realization that I really liked my Mom. How remarkable is that? Yes I love my mother and always have after all this is the woman who bore me and raised me. However, lately our relationship has deepened. I find myself calling her to chat on the phone and see how her day has gone. I want to tell her about that article I read about composting and show her that picture of the hummingbird on my balcony. I find myself reaching out to her more on a daily basis and truly valuing her as a friend. Not just a mother, but as a friend who's opinion and views I respect. A friend who is unconditionally supportive and understanding. A friend who's known me all of my life and can share all of life's trumpihs and pitfalls. A friend who I find funny and charming. Who knew that this person would be my Mom?

Thanks Mom for being there for me. For being a mother and raising me, but now for being my friend as well.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bags galore

I have a confession to make here. I'm a bag addict. Yeah, it's become a problem now. I have so many now that I can barely keep count, but it's not just any kind of bag oh no. I like shopping bags for my groceries, library books, etc. I love purses too, but shopping bags hold a special place in my heart.

It all started a while back when San Francisco banned plastic bags in our city. I ended up buying a set of Baggu bags like the ones pictures below, because I'm not a fan of paper bags especially when they get soggy in the rain. Well after that first set of bags I was sold. I never realized how convenient it was to have reusable bags. Here's why I love them aside from the fact that they're environmentally friendly:
  • I don't have to throw out the extra plastic or paper bags from the store
  • So sturdier than a flimsy plastic bag
  • I have something to help me tote home my impulse purchase of cheese from the corner shop or haul home my library books.
  • Some grocery stores give you a bag credit for bringing your own bag anywhere from $0.02 to $0.05 and over the lifetime of your bag that adds up
  • Much prettier than a plastic or paper bag

What I look for in my reusable bags are a couple of qualities:

  • The ability to be carried over the shoulder
  • Fold able and the smaller the better
  • Washable
Here's my favorites and where to get them:

Baggu Bags

Blue Avocado Gro multi-use bag

Feed 100 Bag

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chilly nights

Well it's almost that time of year. Yep, hot water bottle season here in chilly San Francisco. The rest of the country is warming up and gearing up for summer. We here in the Bay Area will be getting ready for long cold nights and foggy days. I usually spend the summer in San Francisco dreaming of cold beers on hot summer nights, lazy days by the pool, peach picking in August and 4th of July picnics. However, my reality is trying to stay warm in my house when it's not quite cold enough to turn on the heat. Besides, I have a mental block to turning on the heat in just feels wrong. What does feel right is a hot water bottle.

My childhood memories are dotted with someone snuggling a nice warm bottle next to my feet. Vague comforting memories of somebody taking care of me and tucking me into bed with that bottle and teddy bear. Steaming hot at first with a towel wrapped around to ward off burns. Then by morning the hot water bottle would have cooled off until it was simply lukewarm to the touch.

Occasionally when the cold gets to much for me I still boil up a hot water bottle. It's just about the most comforting feeling in the world for me, but I want to upgrade. I've found a cashmere cover! It makes the mundane just a little more special. Obviously I must get the pink one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Porch Living

Pretty decorated porch swing.
Originally uploaded by melissann

I've been missing springtime in Virginia so much recently. That always used to mean sitting on the front porch watching the traffic go by. I would love to do that from this swing. So adorable!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Savory Sunday

Happy Belated Easter! I must confess that although it was Easter Sunday and a beautiful day here in San Francisco I wanted to stay home instead of partaking in everything the city has to offer. It was so tempting to think about the Cherry Blossom Festival, of walking in Golden Gate Park, or simply having brunch with my friends. However, the thought of sleeping in late and spending a lazy Sunday at home was even more tempting than venturing out. There's nothing I love more than being at home all day and cooking up a storm. I started out the day with this:

Yummy scrambled eggs with bacon and chedder and some tea. Then I moved into the serious cooking. Part of the reason why I was so motivated to cook was, because I have a massive amount of food in my fridge at the moment. There's tons of extra bread that was given as a gift to my roommate and I have a whole slew of vegetables lingering in my fridge from my CSA food box. I needed a way to use up the extra bread and veggies before they spoiled. See the downside of getting a food box is I end up with a variety of veggies that I don't particularly like and don't know what to do with. They end up rolling around at the bottom of my crisper drawer until they are almost spoiled then I feel guilty and throw them into a stock pot to make veggie broth. Then I have lovely broth I can use instead of chicken broth in recipes!

This time I used the resulting veggie broth for my split pea and ham soup. It was so amazingly delicious! I love soups and this has to be one of my favorite recipes. So the day ended with this lovely bowl of soup:

The croutons on top are the croutons I made from the stale bread. The other half of the loaf, became breadcrumbs to be used in another recipe. This was so good at the end of the day curled up reading. I hope you'll try this too.

Split Pea Soup:

2 Tablespoons lard or butter
1 medium onion chopped
1 pound cooked ham chopped
1 bay leaf
1 pound split peas or 16 oz. bag of split peas
6 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

In large stockpot melt the lard or butter and saute the onions for 10 minutes on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. At the end of the hour remove the ham and set aside. Use a hand blender and blend the soup or blend in a regular blender in batches until smooth. Add ham back into the soup and stir. Serve while still hot.