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.