December 2019 recap

Well its that time of January, when I am finally back on track and catching up on all the delays, vacation emails from folks. The majority of the holiday decor is down and we are settling into more rain here in the Bay Area. Below is a visual recap of some of the highlights.

Homemade gifts

This year I went back into my craft pile and decided I was going to use more of the surplus old jewelry pieces I use of when I made the Planner Keepers and Book Jewels in 2018. While I had initially thought I would do ornaments, I somehow got my vision shifted and ended up making decorative pinecones “globes”. While a bitch to ship, I am happy to say all but two arrive in tack and I even have a few extra still around to give as gifts or sell. The only “new” as in pre-owned that I needed to purchase to make these were the vases that got used as the globe parts. With each one taking about 2 days plus dry time. Needless to say, a few folks got them late. A couple of folks were all “you should sell them”. And I’m like and what, call them “Gaudy Baubles”? Hey.. that could work too.

While a lot of work – it was pretty cool to see the progress. Even if the house was covered in glitter snow.

The rest of December was pretty casual. No big party this year did a super casual last-minute potluck with a few pals. I managed to back a few treats while Paul recovered from some dental work. Scored a great find at Salvation Army with a 5 foot “Santa” which didn’t get added into the decorations but it was a pretty damp holiday.  Did try out two new cake recipes which were hits as well as some fun vintage ornaments I scored.  then a great dinner at our favorite steakhouse for New Year’s Eve. So overall a good way to wrap up 2020

 

When the night calls for heat

Some days a picture is worth a thousand words…

From my recent visit to IL Casaro Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar.

A good solid addition to the Castro, from the great food to the friendly staff. Well worth a visit.

Eating single? Skip the table and eat at the bar. When North Beach hits the Castro;

 

Now 2 Locations to serve you
Castro
235 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
TEL|415.875.9421
North Beach 
348 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA
94133

TEL|415.677-9455

Big food “doings” last week

Its that time of the year…

But I opted to keep this year low key for TDay. No travel, no company or open house. Just Paul, the pup and me. Have to be honest, it was pretty nice.

– Got some walks in

– Rearranged living room

– Tree up

– Saw two movies including Knives Out,

– Made one chocolate pecan pie,

– Played around with a sweet potato and pecan  cake,

– Cooked an easy turkey dinner for two (on Friday) and leftovers for sandwiches and sweet potato Shepard’s pie.

– Had time with the boys

– Got some crafting organized for this years holiday gifts

 

– Read a bunch of books, watched some Hallmark and Scifi to keep them balanced.

– Got my vintage, homemade diorama up in one piece

– Now Monday,  I starting thinking about cookies. From last years group 2018 or do I redo ones from some of my previous favorites... so many options.

 

 

 

Pauls Birthday Week…

And it continues…

Dinner in tonight for Paul’s bday week recognition. He had a choice of nice dinner out or in. He opted for in.  Of course that also meant “hmm lets refresh the living room and rearrange it, because shopping and dinner prep wasn’t enough already. But the new layout looks great

And For Dinner

So I went with a new recipe I came across  for slow braised short ribs over polenta and vegetables since its not something Ive cooked before and the recipe looked good.

A simple salad and oven roasted brussel sprouts and broccoli with balsamic vinegar  rounded out the meal.

Along with his requested fav cake from Noe Valley Bakery.

 

Last year I wrote about my discovery of Rodan & Field (RF) They offer a line of facial products, traditionally marketed for women, but with a growing male fan base. I use several of the products on a daily (sometimes twice daily) routine and have been overwhelmingly happy with the results.

Being someone who generally isn’t a big fan of lots of steps, I found the simple three-step RF method worked perfectly for me. More importantly, the lines don’t interfere with my facial hair and have minimal fragrance.

I recently reposted those preferred steps and products on my MentorSF Engage Blog. If you want to know more about which of the products or order them for yourselves, feel free to check out the link here. 

When checking out the Rodan & Field Products, you can click through on the “I don’t have an account” which will bring you right to the full store without you having to add any details.

When the logs are for eating not building in the Overstory

The OverstoryWas a busy few weeks as they tend to be at this time of the year. One of the highlights was BookClub. This month’s read was The Overstory and the intersection of nature, trees, logs, and people.

Two of the several quotes I liked from the book included;

The bends in the alders speak of long-ago disasters. Spikes of pale chinquapin flowers shake down their pollen; soon they will turn into spiny fruits. Poplars repeat the wind’s gossip. Persimmons and walnuts set out their bribes and rowans their blood-red clusters Ancients oaks wave prophecies of future weather. The several hundred kinds of hawthorn laugh at the single name they’re forced to share. Laurels insist that even death is nothing to lose sleep over.”

”No one sees trees. We see fruit, we see nuts, we see wood, we see shade. We see ornaments or pretty fall foliage. Obstacles blocking the road or wrecking the ski slope. Dark, threatening places that must be cleared. We see branches about to crush our roof. We see a cash crop. But trees—trees are invisible.”

As per the usual – I wanted to come up with some interesting to food to go with the stories. One dessert I have never tried was a Buche de Noel. Now mostly I haven’t ever attempted it is because they traditionally have hazelnuts so never ate one. But I have been somewhat nervous about attempting a “jelly roll” or “swiss roll” type cake in any of the many forms.

But as I tend to do – I jumped in by attempting two variations on a “log theme”. 

The first was a traditional carrot cake log with cream cheese frosting and meringue mushrooms. My first challenge was to figure out the frosting – I didn’t want to use chocolate frosting -but I did want some shade of brown of the “bark”. That meant going back to my color charts. 1 part red, 10 parts yellow and a few dashes of blue made the brown. I use gel food coloring in the traditional cream cheese frosting along with some vanilla and honey to keep the liquids minimal. The recipe for the carrot cake roll can be found here

Next up.. savory style!

With the savory version “log” I came across a flourless recipe that looked like it wouldn’t work, but it did. I loved all the flavors, and confident in the knowledge that I had the sweet version as a backup, I went for it.

I found a recipe online for a flourless, sweet potato and chive log with savory cream cheese, tomato and herb filling covered in cream cheese and spicey eggplant pesto frosting.  The formal recipe for this can be found here.

The version I have below is my adapted version of the one they started with.

Note: they used metric measurements so I have converted them to US measurements.

For the “dirt” I just used ground nuts and rosemary for the savory one and ground graham crackers for the sweet version.

I also whipped up some meringue mushrooms the night before. But make sure to store them in an airtight container to keep them hard.

What you will need:

  • 16 oz (450 g) of cubed sweet potatoes
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 pinch ground clove
  • 1/2 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 3 oz of white sharp white shredded cheddar (this is more than the original recipe)
  • 21 oz  (250 g) full fat cream cheese (3 bricks)  (room temperature)
  • 1 bunch fresh chives (about 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh)
  • 1 jar of tomato pesto ( but any savory spread will do – I couldn’t find the red onion marmalade, so I went with a jar of Tomato Pesto)
  • 1 jar of Eggplant Pesto – this is a strong cumin spiced version and also dark colored.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a Swiss roll pan (30cm x 24cm) with parchment paper.
  2. Cooke the cubed sweet potatoes in a plastic bag in the microwave for 7-8 minute to cook
  3. Remove from the bag and add to a food processor
  4. Separate the 4 eggs.
  5. Add the yolks to the food processor along with the shredded cheese, clove,  nutmeg,  and ginger, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Process the mix until smooth and a thick puree and pour into a large bowl
  7. Add 1/2 the chives and fold twice more.
  8. In a stand mixer (or by hand), whip the egg whites to soft peaks
  9. Fold in the egg whites to the puree and fold gently to incorporate
  10. Pour the mix into the sheet pan and smooth with an offset spatula so that its evenly distributed in the pan.
  11. Bake 10-12 minutes. You want it brown around the edges and spring back to the touch in the center
  12. Pull the pan out of the oven and cover the “cake” with another sheet of parchment and upside down sheet pan and flip it over. You want to cake to me on the parchment on the pan but without the edges, so you can slide it on the counter to roll easier.
  13. Remove the cake and paper to the counter.
  14. Roll the cake up with the paper attached ( as if it were filling) and wrap in plastic and chill for 30 – 60 min.
  15. While it chills – mix the cream cheese, black pepper to taste, pinch of salt, till smooth
  16. Remove the roll and unroll.
  17. Spread the cream cheese on it. work from the center out to the edges. ( I tend to use the stuff it in a plastic bag, cut the tip and make zig zags, them smooth them out technique so minimize breaking the cake)
  18. Then add the layer of tomato pesto and top with the diced chives
  19. Then remove one edge of the cake from the paper and slowly roll the cake up. Pull the paper away as you make each rotation.

Now – you serve this at this point. But I wanted a “log” so..

  1. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.
  2. Mix the remaining two bricks of more cream cheese with the eggplant pesto, taste for salt and pepper etc.   You can then add your gel colors to get the shade of brown you want as you mix it more.
  3. Then using a small spatula, cover the log in long strokes.
  4. Serve room temp.

Another version of this cake with flour can be found here but I have to say the flourless one was so good I don’t see the need.

For those of you that missed this on the MentorSF Engage Blog; I’m a Prequel

An excerpt from my recent posts on my professional blog Engage, talking about my “prequel” experience with the Storycenter.org

Who would have guessed I was a “prequel”

Ok – so maybe not a real “prequel”. But I do have something newish to share.

In May 2019 I was able to participate in a training with the folks from Storycenter.org as part of its story collections project as part of California State Library System in California Listens – Digital Storytelling for the 21st Library

This one was held down in lovely Half Moon Bay,in it’s incredibly accessible and high tech new library. For two days, 10 of us, with the help of some incredible folks from the Storycenter.org  and the staff of the library mapped out and created our own stories to share.

To read the full story check out the post on my Engage blog here.

Pizzagaina vs Ham Pie.. it’s all good

Its spring and that means its time for me to make the Pizzagaina or “Meat Pie”.

Which in itself is no small task. It takes planning, shopping and lots of prep. I wrote about this in the past here.

So last night after work and while doing some recording, I started the baking the batches. I had already prepped the meat and cheese earlier in the week and did the dough the night before.

Now, this isn’t your standard hand pie. This is the Italian older cousin. It’s dense, rich with eggs and cheese and full of dried and cured meats. Think “cheesecake meets quiche” but without the jiggle.  You will hear this called by many names from including; Easter Ham Pie, Pizzagaina, Pizza Rustica but they all mean essentially the same thing.

I have several versions but as I’ve written before this is my favorite basic version recipe. You should feel free to swap out the meats for what you can find locally to you. I also started to try out doing them as mini loaves as they freeze and are great house gifts for pals

 

My January At A Glance

Its February already and I can’t believe how behind I have with these activities that I actually enjoy doing. Suffice it to say – it will be a January recap at best.

With my new role as an “Editor” of some association with the Health Promotion and Practice Journal (@TheHPPJournal), I have been working with several young MPH interns to assist with the social media push of the journal under its new Editor In Chief. While its been fun having time with students first hand again – its also means lots more reading and meetings to add on.  

With all the weather, unusual for San Francisco, has been causes for quite the series of humorous images. From the local mini walks with Dino, to a few more substantial hikes explore San Bruno Mountain and other local park areas new to me.

 

Had some time in at not one but two of the Bawdy Storytelling shows, when I did a last minute favor for the Host Dixie La Tour and filled in at the beginning of the month and then got a chance to attend a Storytelling Roast of author, speaker and longtime friend Dossie Easton which also got me to reconnect with another longtime pal and author Janet Hardy.

Dixie and I also got to hit the studio at KQED and meet and listen to the Podcaster Earlonne Woods from the Ear Hustle podcast.

As we rolled into February proper I have a new True Passion; The Root of Evil

As a kid, I was fascinated with the case of Elizabeth Short, which back when I was 11 or 12, I happened to come across an early tv show about her and the unsolved case they called the “Black Dahlia”. Even then, and the many books that were written since, have captivated me.

So it was no surprise that TNT’s newest “ I Am The Night” would end up on my real-time watch list. Instead of my traditional way to wait till the season was over and binge watch. 

But what makes it even better is my current day fascination with unsolved case files via podcasts ( blame my buddy in Atlanta, Rachel Kfor that) comes full circle on February 13th when the Root Of Evil podcast begins. Exploring its associations with the myth and mysteries of the Hodel family. Which should make for some interesting listening is that they are including participation from the family of Dr. Hodel.

Speaking of podcasts, I am listening to several new ones and am finally in the prep stage to start recording several of my own. More to come on that!