Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Will drive north for food

I realized this morning while walking that we're leaving for 10 days in 1 day. There is much to be done before departure. But you don't want to know about any of that stuff. The fun stuff is where we're going and more importantly, where we'll be eating. This was supposed to be our anniversary trip, which it is, but it's also turned into our vacation alone before the baby comes... I believe they call it a babymoon? Or does that come after the baby?

Anyway, we're heading north by car to the bay area, my favorite place to visit in the fall. And we're going to spend the entire time doing things that you can't do with an infant. At least not very easily.

But before any of that happens, we'll be in San Diego for a wedding. Remember Katya's invites? That party is in 1 day. I have some planning to do.

(from flickr)

Then Sunday, once Katya and Andy are happily married, we pack up and head to Big Sur (staying here, yay), possibly making a pit stop at Full of Life Flatbread that Christine so highly recommended. So here's the question... Early dinner at FOL or wait and have dinner in Big Sur when we get there? We're not really sure where to eat in Big Sur, aside from Nepenthe. Which could be good. Big Sur Bakery is closed on Sunday nights (boo), but we'll be having breakfast there in the am. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

(photo by sfgirlbybay)

After Big Sur, we head to San Francisco for a few nights. Where we will visit the following fine dining establishments:

Rose's Cafe on Union Street. We love it here. We happened upon it years ago on a fall trip up North and have been loyal (though infrequent) customers ever since. The food is simple but delicious.

Tartine, obviously.

Boulette's Larder. Again, fairly obvious. I am in love with Boulette's Larder. If one day I have a kitchen like their little restaurant I will be in heaven.

We have one more dinner in SF that we haven't settled on. I have a whole list of places to try, but perhaps one of you knows the inside scoop. We're up for driving over to Berkeley too. I adore Berkeley, though thankfully there isn't a Cal game next weekend or I'd be spending my anniversary at Memorial Stadium.

And then we're off to Napa for the rest of the trip. We splurged on our lodging up there, hoping to really lay about the mineral pool and read and relax. Maybe hit up a mud bath? Must remember to pack an old swim suit. There won't be much wine tasting this trip, sadly, but I'm sure we'll find ways to entertain ourselves all the same. Maybe a few hikes. Our room comes with bikes so we can pedal around the vineyards. If there's something we shouldn't miss, do tell.

We have reservations at Bouchon and Ubuntu. Very excited for both. Crossing our fingers for a French Laundry cancellation. We did get the call for one, but it was at 11 am. This probably makes me an impostor gourmand, but we just couldn't justify (or frankly truly appreciate) the extravagance for lunch. Really, almost breakfast. So I asked to stay on the wait list with hopes of a dinner slot popping up. If it does, yay. If is doesn't, oh well.

The other two nights are open. And we'd love recommendations for those of you who frequent Napa. We might just picnic in our room with spoils from Oakville Grocery and/or Dean & Deluca. But we might want to get out so do share your favorites.

We'll probably have lunch at Auberge du Soleil. We have it on good authority that's not to be missed.

It's lucky I'm on a gradual weight gain program at the moment or this trip would be poison for my thighs. There are major upsides to eating for two.

Now must pack. Very exciting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ruth on Fresh Air

Not to keep coming back to Gourmet, but allow me this one last post (no guarantees). A sweet reader, Cinnamon, pointed out that Terry Gross just did an interview with Ruth Reichl on Fresh Air. I love Fresh Air. Terry Gross is such a good interviewer, isn't she?

So I listened to it this morning and it's so lovely. You should most definitely give it a go if you're as sad as I am that I've officially received my last issue in the mail. And mystery solved via the interview: the last issue is great, but it's not like a LAST ISSUE all stops out sort of situation. And Ruth's letter doesn't even hint at a farewell. Which makes sense when you learn that the November issue was all set for print when she found out the magazine would be closing immediately. She must have been crushed. I'm going to go out on limb here, but she was probably more crushed than the rest of us.

So anyway, you can listen to the interview on NPR's site right here: Ruth Reichl on Fresh Air.

I'm SO making the pumpkin soup in a pumpkin that she describes at the beginning of the piece. Using one of these beauties, of course. That giant cinderella should do just fine.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a rocker

I was highly unproductive this weekend, in terms of having anything interesting to show yous, but sometimes it goes like that. I'm embracing my time to be unproductive while I can.

We did do like 1 million errands though, which always feels nice. And made a grand master list of all the things we want to get done pre-baby.

And I found our rocking chair.

The Risom Rocker from DWR. yayyy.

I'm of the belief that one should not fill one's house with things for baby that you wouldn't like to have in your house if you didn't have baby (stroller and crib and some other necessities notwithstanding). Especially when it comes to plastic things, but that's a different topic altogether. I know we need a rocker, but I just cannot stomach one of those huge poofy lazy-boy-for-moms upholstered gliders. Apologies to anyone who has and loves theirs, I'm sure they're terrifically functional, but they make me want to throw up a little. If we're going to buy a rocking chair, I want it to be a chair that we will enjoy in our home forever, not just while I'm nursing 12 hours a day. Naive? Probably, but let me exist in my fantasy world while I can.

It's expensive, and we might not end up getting it. But I'd rather spend a little more on a beautiful piece of furniture that we will keep for always. Plus I haven't even tested it out yet. Of our 1 million errands, none took us past a DWR. So that is a project for this week. Maybe the floor model with be on sale.

We're going to end up blowing our entire baby budget on our rocker and our stroller, but really, aside from diapers and a breast pump, what more do we need for the first 6 months?

Also, I purchased my first official piece of maternity apparel. Milestone! I am so thankful that I live in the age of premium denim. Those poor moms who had to come before us were forced to wear hideous jeans throughout their entire pregnancy. And it turns out maternity jeans are super comfy! Perfect for airplane rides! I think everyone should have a pair. They're like denim sweats.

Friday, October 16, 2009

pound cake for the passing of an icon

I now present my post where I properly mourn the passing of Gourmet. I've been holding off because, I don't know, it doesn't seem real? Like how could the company that still publishes such editorial GEMS as Mens Vogue and Travel + Leisure (and sends them to unsuspecting customers for free, I might add) decide to close the best cooking and entertaining magazine in the universe? I am at a loss. I mean doesn't everyone with the slightest culinary leannings read Gourmet? Their recipes are not always 100% reliable, but I love their styling and I get excited every month when my copy appears in my mailbox.

Le sigh.

And to make it worse, they're not even finishing out the year. Just cutting us off with November. No index of Christmas cookies, no New Years Eve parties, no mulled wine. I feel a little betrayed. Especially because I just, not 3 weeks ago, renewed my subscription. So I am saddened. More so even than when Blueprint closed and I loved Blueprint. It was like a magazine made especially for me and women like me. But now Gourmet, an old but ever inspiring aunt, has left without so much as a goodbye.

I think this calls for pound cake. It feels like that sort of weekend. And perhaps I'll even make the brown butter version on the last page of the last Gourmet. Everything is better with brown butter.

(Poundcakes from this month's Martha and Gourmet)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

project inspiration

I was trolling blogs yesterday for a bit and came across this awesome office re-do by Pearl Street Interiors on Abbey's cute blog. I probably wouldn't have reposted was it not for the wealth of DIY tutorials that came along with it. Mega inspiration.

She gives a tutorial on how to refinish two pieces of furniture in an extremely cost effective way. And, I'm more interested in these others, how to cover bulletin boards and how to make fabric window shades from your existing mini-blinds. I think I've gone to redecorating heaven.

We have mini blinds on every window in our house. They drive me insane but for whatever reason I've be able to live with them for the last 7 years. Look out mini-blinds. You're about to be stripped to your skeleton and covered with fabric. Possibly this weekend.

And then there's the bright red credenza/dresser thing and patterned cork boards. The credenza I'll probably skip, but appreciate. Corkboards... you will be mine.

Also, I've always liked that Ikea rug... might be cute for baby's room? I had a mini meltdown last night about our lack of space, our insane amount of stuff, and the impending introduction of lots more stuff into our life. Does everybody go through this when they're about to have a baby? Brock reminded me that we could live in New York in a one bedroom apartment. True.

I'm desperately clinging to the idea that our house will remain and adult house, even with a baby. Tell me it's possible.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Soup for a rainy night

One of the soups I planned to make this week is done. Made, enjoyed for two dinners, pots cleaned, chops licked. It was good. And timed nicely with our first rainstorm of the year. Finally. Melanie reminded me of it last week and I spent the days until it came to bubbly green fruition on my stove pining for it's yumminess.

See, I have this thing with coconut right now. By right now I mean for the last 3 months. It's my pregnancy craving numero uno. Mostly revealed in the amount of thai coconut soup I can consume in one week. It can be a little surprising. Second on demand is Indian spiced things, preferably the samosas from India Sweets & Spices on Venice in Culver City. Little pockets of fried heaven, I tell you.

And then this soup appeared. Indian spiced french lentil soup with coconut milk dumped in at the end... Where do I sign?

It's Molly's recipe, though I did make a few additions of my own.

1. I added cumin. I'm sorry but no properly spiced lentil dish should go with cumin.

2. I added fresh chili peppers from my garden. Only two teensy ones which had the seeds and membranes scraped out. Warning: if you don't know how hot a particular pepper is, (no matter how tiny), do not throw a second in for good measure.

3. I added a bunch of chopped beet greens at the end.

And I garnished with a blob of greek yogurt (an attempt to cut the above-mentioned chili spice), fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of kaffir lime.

Also it should be noted that Molly was smart enough to skip the photo of the actual soup. It looks a little like sludge or something Shrek would eat in his swamp. But it is wholly delicious. And for next time, I'm thinking I might try red lentils instead? Or the unsplit small brown Indian variety. Just a thought.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

weekend things

Finally made it to Intelligentsia in Venice. We're a little slow on the uptake. It's so modern and clean and you get your own barista who makes only your drinks when you order. And their pastries are not only edible, they're quite delicious.

Other than that, we laid low. Found these late season peaches at the market, which were pretty tasty though different from their juicy summer brothers.

I napped and read on the couch quite a bit and then puttered around in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon. I find Sundays to be good days to do fussy things like making stock and segmenting oranges and seeding pomegranates. Things you just don't want to tackle come dinner time during the week. And it made the house feel so cozy and fall-like. And then made me incredibly sad that we don't have a fireplace or dining room. A fireplace and dining room would certainly make all of our troubles disappear.

Stock for a few soups to try this week (so prepared!)

And salad parts for dinner at our neighbors' house on Sunday evening. (Hi Ruth and David!) Isn't that so communal and cute? We love our 'hood.

Now if it would only rain. The clouds have been looming, but I'm afraid they might blow over. Please rain please rain please rain.

Monday, October 12, 2009

because i might be tired of poached eggs...

Meet my new favorite... the fried egg grilled cheese sandwich.

For fall lunch with tomato soup? Yes, very good then. I'll take two.

It was such a pleasant lunch with the afternoon light coming through the kitchen window, and me flipping through Gourmet over a salty treat.

Maybe the photo is less appetizing than I intended... but you get the picture.

Friday, October 9, 2009

beauty product alert: Bare Escentuals

And this is coming from someone who is not at all a beauty product maven. The most recent cosmetic I got really excited about was my Nars lip gloss in Scandal, (still very excited about that BTW), which I discovered in January.

So last night when I unwrapped a bunch a new products from bare escentuals I was pretty curious. We did a really great giveaway with them on 100 Layer Cake and as a thank you, they sent us each a little care package of (it turns out) completely awesome, natural, non-paraben, non-sulfate products. I think I might be in love. And I swear on this blog that I am not saying this because they gave me free stuff.

For instance, take this lip gloss:

(The color is Lana and it's apparently only available at Sephora).

To. Die. For. It's perfect. It looks dark, but it's totally sheer and pretty much just makes your lips look a few shades darker than they would be naturally. The only downside is it's lip-plumping. Remember that craze like 4 or 5 years ago? Like topical collagen injections in the form of lip gloss? I had Lip Fusion and I thought it was awesome. For like 2 weeks. Anyway, this stuff doesn't feel the same, really more just minty and tingle-y, but it's worth it for the color.

AND their bare minerals powder is really nice. Like I think I might have found a new favorite product. I'm not forsaking Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, by any means. But this is a good addition to your pretty face arsenal.

That's it for Friday. Hope you all have a beautiful fall weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

our first baby thing

My mom's baby blanket. She found it in her cedar chest and handed it down to us last time we were in San Diego. It's a pretty bluey greeny color and was handmade by one of the women in her family... though we're not sure who. Her entire family was extremely crafty so it's impossible to guess.

We love it. Even though we have no place to put it yet. That's our project for January.

Monday, October 5, 2009

the squash

Item 5 on my weekend list, which I'm happy to report I knocked out with gusto. Harvest the squash. Pumpkins, butternut, some undetermined hybrid that somehow manages to pop up every year... there are many. More than this photo. The hybrid vine (always a volunteer) is still going strong so no need to pluck those beasts yet. And there's a petit french pumpkin still turning color on the vine that I decided to leave for a little while longer.

But, um, what am I going to do with all of these? It's kind of a serious problem. Our house doesn't have a cellar to store the fruits of our garden for the winter. It has a laundry room? But if I stashed the squash there, it would be hard to access the washer. I'm pondering options. In the meantime, they're waiting by the back door. And the orange ones need to get out of the sun stat because they start fading. I learned that the hard way last year.

In other orange news, look who else is coming in nicely on the other side of the yard.

Oh I love you persimmons. Maybe more than the figs. You are so versatile and delicious. And we missed nearly the entire season last year while we were in Australia.

Actually, I think I just love orange food. The squash, for example. I cannot wait to start roasting those. I have plenty of stand-by fall recipes in my head, (remember that divine minestrone from last year?), but I'm thinking I'll get things going with Molly's recipe for savory bread pudding from this month's Bon Appetit. Must make a test batch before Thanksgiving.

(side note: just when I've given up on renewing my subscription, they come out with a great issue and I'm drawn in again. Blast. November is good.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

things for the weekend

This week has been a wee bit tumultuous as far as work and things go and I'm so looking forward to the weekend to catch up with myself and clean and garden and bond with my space. Yes I'm weird and take unmentionable pleasure in tidying my house and then relaxing in it. Brock will be out of town so it's just me and the bump (or as my friend Nikki dubbed him/her, the sprout), and the chickens and my list of things to get done.

There's a much larger list of "things to accomplish before February" but that's another post altogether.

As for the weekend, here's the game plan:

1. Remove piles of craft supplies and fabric from the living room. Lug sewing machine back into it's hiding place in the guest room closet.

2. Package and mail 3 very important, very belated presents. I'm terrible with mail.

3. FINALLY unpack and clean vases/flower frogs from the wedding. Don't judge. They're sitting in boxes still. Must get them off the front porch.

4. Chicken coop. blaaah.

5. Harvest the family of pumpkins and hard squash lazing in the backyard sun. Time to clean up the garden. Though it's been so hot, it seems unwise to plant winter vegetables just yet.

6. This list is incredibly boring. But it's all I have for friday. And it will be so satisfying if I get everything done.