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.

Top 3 Seafood Restaurants in Alabama

Alabama has the highest number of inland waterways among the 50 U.S. states as well as a few beaches. You can find great seafood in this state, although it’s not commonly thought of as a place for seafood. Three of the top seafood restaurants in Alabama are Sunset Pointe, Big Fish, and Shrimp Basket Gulf Shores. These restaurants have high customer ratings and serve excellent seafood. Whether you’re a couple, a single traveler, or a family, you can enjoy eating at one of these seafood restaurants.

Sunset Pointe – Fairhope, AL

Sunset Pointe, a famous seafood restaurant owned by Pete Blohme, features outdoor waterfront dining and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Blohme has been on numerous food shows, such as Sweet Home Alabama, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Guy’s Big Bite. Sunset Pointe has high customer ratings for the quality of its food, good customer service, and stunning views of the marina. Popular items on the menu include crab meatballs, BBQ shrimp, lettuce wraps, snapper throats, and bouillabaisse. If you eat at the restaurant during sunset, you’ll have a beautiful view of the water. Sunset Pointe also has a full bar, a television, vegan options, highchairs, and available takeout.

Big Fish – Orange Beach, Alabama

Big Fish is just one of many restaurants in Orange Beach but is probably the most elegant you’ll find around. It has sophisticated decor, an open kitchen, a full bar, and award-winning service. There’s an outdoor seating area too. Big Fish serves fresh seafood and premium steaks. Pasta and sandwiches are additional options on the menu. Big Fish has excellent sushi, crab cakes, red snapper, and halibut. Jasmine rice is served with some of the dishes, such as the Holy Shrimp, Big Fish Style – Sautéed Fish, and Big Stir Fry.

Shrimp Basket Gulf Shores – Gulf Shores, Alabama

Shrimp Basket Gulf Shores has an oyster bar, fried seafood dishes, and other delicious seafood options. Portion sizes are large, and the restaurant is known for good customer service. It sometimes runs specials like all-you-can-eat steamed shrimp and all-you-can-eat fried fish. Shrimp Basket Gulf Shores has conveniently located two blocks from the beach if you want to spend the day there. It’s also a family-friendly restaurant. Shrimp Basket Gulf Shores has a welcoming atmosphere and casual decor.

Sunset Pointe, Big Fish, and Shrimp Basket Gulf Shores are the top seafood restaurants in Alabama. They’re three restaurants you’ll want to try if you love seafood. These restaurants have many positive customer ratings and a pleasant atmosphere for dining. The food is of excellent quality as well.

Here are a couple more travel related articles we think you’ll enjoy!

 

 

 

3 Fantastic Food Experiences in Anaheim, California

As the nation’s first theme park destination, Anaheim has built a reputation as a family-friendly vacation spot. What many people do not realize is that Anaheim is also one of California’s dining hot spots. From premium dining experiences to whimsical character options to convenient and quick meals, Anaheim’s food selections can complement any vacation style. Here are three of the most fantastic food experience to consider while enjoying this Southern California gem.

The Historic District

This charming district is a peaceful respite away from the hustle and bustle of the Anaheim theme park scene. This district boasts many dining opportunities that are designed to please every taste and budget. The new Sweetbird eatery specializes in fried chicken sandwiches served up with two choices of slaw and its signature smashed fried potatoes. Those looking for a casual dining experience can choose to dine al fresco at The Hummus and Pita, noshing on gyros, kebobs, falafels, and pitas. Twelve Springs explains that there are several options for unique food experiences like making your own popsicles at Pop Bar, health-conscious eateries like Healthy Junk, and even get a haircut while enjoying a nice beer at Barbeer Cut and Beer. This vibrant neighborhood always has something new going on, making it a fun place to grab a bite to eat while enjoying the California sunshine.

Amusement Parks

Theme park food has never tasted so good. There are many types of Disneyland food experiences, each curated to deliver a unique and delicious meal. Park Savers explains that Disneyland provides a fantastic option for a dining adventure called character dining where you can interact with your favorite Disney characters while you eat. There are many food options for all sorts of budgets in downtown Disney. Or, you can choose a more upscale dining experience at the Carthay Circle located inside of the California Adventure theme park or grab a reservation for a seat at the exclusive chef’s table at the Napa Rose, located inside of the gorgeous Grand Californian Hotel. If you are having too much fun to sit down, you cannot go wrong with a grab-and-go corn dog and churro, two of Disneyland’s most popular food items.

Roscoe’s House Chicken and Waffles

Roscoe’s is the quintessential Southern California dining experience. Billing itself as the original fried chicken and waffle house, Roscoe’s is an Anaheim institution. Its location on Harbor Boulevard is a short jaunt from the Disneyland Resort. Guests can choose to enjoy the traditional chicken and waffles combination plate or choose from a variety of breakfast foods, creamy macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and more.

While most people are drawn to Anaheim for its family-friendly adventures, be sure to leave plenty of time to explore the delightful food options. Your taste buds will surely thank you.

Here are a couple of other articles we think you’ll enjoy!

 

 

 

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!

 

Xmas Recipes 2019

Here they are

I figured it was easier to post the links in one place for folks than trying to constantly add links to the recipes on Facebook. Since many of you asked about the recipes for the South African Chocolate Pepper Cookies and the Polenta Parmesan Cookies I mentioned on an earlier this week, I will start with them.

Black Pepper Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is pretty easy and I recommend you read the instructions a few times first. The Author also suggests starting with the minimum amount of black pepper and then ramp up. I think when I make a new batch I will increase the black pepper up a 1/2 tablespoon. I think you might also be able to swap out the pepper for other types you might have handy as well.

The recipe link is from the website Food52 and was reposted according to the author notes: Text and recipe from Where Flavor Where Flavor Was Born by Andreas Viestad Born by Andreas Viestad (Chronicle, 2007).

Polenta Parmesan Cookies

This recipe was in the December 2018 issue of Food Network Magazine on page 84. The recipe itself is pretty basic and already I am thinking adaptions. Such as making them a bit thicker and turning them into “thumb” print cookies and topping with pepper jelly or a tomato bacon relish. To the taste, they read both sweet and savory so I imagine I could also top with Lemon Rind Jelly.  Just a note on this one – it does need to time to chill. I made mine the night before and sliced and cooked them the next day.

The recipe link is Polenta-Polenta-Parmesan Cookies on Food Network Magazine

 

Hallmark Hell

Even Gay People Do It

As some of you who follows me on social media (@FVSTRONA on that Twitter thing) know I tend to comment about the Hallmark Channels lack of LGBT diversity representation. 

But given that my world is a bit crazed and working as I do in the government – both Paul and I tend to come home pretty stressed. So Lifetime and Hallmarks’ annual holiday overboard on the methodologic and campy “holiday love” stories do serve as a great escape from political commentary and faux leaders trying to pretend that they actually care.

It was this in mind, that when Paul mentioned a trip back east, I conspired to turn the front rooms of the house into our own “Hallmark” style, over the top version of a bnb called “EverQueer”. 

Without telling him, I went through years of collected holiday decorations, managed to hit on a one day 70% off sale at Micheals,  and rummaged through a few pals storage units. I even got to repurpose some ornaments that I rarely get to use now that we put up the slim line tree most years. The end result was precious and we couldn’t wait for Paul’s reaction! I think he may rethink traveling before Christmas any more… This also means I get to bring out some old favorites like angel tree topper that’s been in my family for over 50 years or the diorama I picked up a few years back.

 

 

 

While it was all for fun – it still doesn’t account they Hallmark refuses to address its lack of LGBT holiday love – short of it’s either afraid of its “mom and pop” conservative viewership or its simply run by folks with an overly conservative, homophobic streak. Gee, I wonder if they would respond if people started to hashtag #LGBTCelebrateTooHallmark with pictures of the loving and holiday celebrations we have. Just saying..

Yup.. $5 on clearance at Micheals and I even found a “custom lightboard”

It was a book club that Sunday and I went big

Because book club discussions aren’t always just about talk.

Our monthly book club is also about what foods we bring; what reading the book inspires us to bring and share. Many of us choose to find a way to bring an authentic or reinterpreted version of something mentioned in the book or from the time period.

Since this month we read David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. 

My take on the book was positive as a read. Finding it a well-balanced collection of research and storytelling that manages to remind the reader of the historical narrative of racism and white privilege at the heart of so many of this countries moments. But the subject did give me several layers of emotions.

But back to the food

I opted for a Bourbon Pecan Cornmeal cake with an edible gingerbread oil rig and chocolate “oil”. My unique challenge was that I have never made a gingerbread oil rig or any structure before. So choosing the right recipe and the structural challenges were quite the experience. But in the end, it all worked out.

I won’t even mention the stress of moving it in two parts then topping the cake with its “rig” caused.

The cake itself was great.

I liked to cornmeal texture with the nuts. It is one I would remake. The recipe for the cake was from http://eclecticrecipes.com and used walnuts, but I had pecans laying around begging to be used.

What Are the Best Places to Eat at Disney World?

Although many people are familiar with all of the exciting attractions and entertainment options available at the Walt Disney World Resort, what some do not realize is that the area also boasts an amazing amount of unique dining experiences. There are many delicious places to eat in Epcot, such as Biergarten Restaurant in Germany,  the Spice Road Table in Morocco, the La Cantina de San Angel in Mexico, and more throughout. Here are just a few of the magical dining experiences to consider as you plan your trip to Disney World.

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Located in the iconic castle in the Magic Kingdom, this experience is the ideal choice for those princess lovers in your family. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is the only way for visitors to Disney World to get to see the inside of the castle. Not only will you be able to dine in an amazing setting, but you will also be visited at your table by up to five Disney princesses. Cinderella is always present and the other princesses vary.

Sanaa

This unique restaurant serves up authentic Indian cuisine over at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Known for their naan bread service with a wide array of accompanying dipping sauces, Sanaa also serves a diverse mix of Indian specialties such as butter chicken and tandoori shrimp. What makes this restaurant so fun is its setting overlooking the savannah at the resort, giving diners the chance to view giraffes, ostriches, and more as they nosh on their Indian cuisine.

Biergarten

The Biergarten Restaurant in Epcot is located in the World Showcase section, particularly the German section. This lively venue gives visitors the opportunity to celebrate Oktoberfest any time of the year. The vast buffet features some of Germany’s most loved dishes such as spaetzle, sausages, and Bavarian cheesecake. A live oompah band provides daily entertainment while you dine.

Chef Mickey’s

This iconic character buffet is a tradition for many families. Located inside of the Contemporary Resort, this all-you-can-eat buffet features a host of American classics. Guests of all ages will be delighted when Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and the whole gang stop by each table for a visit.

Advanced dining reservations can be made up to six months in advance. It is recommended that guests make their reservations as soon as their plans are set, ensuring that you do not miss out on any of the magic. And who knows, you might come back home with some inspiration and more motivation to tackle cooking.

Fall catch up

Fall has hit me strong this year.

It’s been a pretty busy few weeks so I haven’t been able to keep up with posting. This week will be a brief recap of highlights as we round the corner into the middle of October. 

As September hit

We tried to get ourselves motivated to do a few of the local street fairs – but we ended up missing the Folsom Sreet Fair but did head out on that Friday before or some fun at the Prime dance.

But continue to manage to get a few urban hikes in and as a treat, we included an unplanned meal at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe at its newest location, one afternoon and managed to get seats with any wait! (note- Saturday afternoon around 1:30 – no line). We definitely enjoyed all the food from the grilled cornbread, sweet roll and crumb cake to the different eggs dishes. Even the coffee is good. This is not some flash in the pan cafe – they have held court in San Francisco as a local and tourist favorite for years. Word on up Dottie’s – the pastries as well as the entrees are large and go fast. If you do get in a line, let the folks know at the counter what pastry you want so they can set one aside as once they sell out – it’s out for the day. 

We did manage to check out some other local street fairs in September, including the Inner Sunset Street Fair which netted use some new food finds to try by local vendors including a new jam and a spicy garlic sesame spread.

Another fun find was these dolls

A pal of mine collects this genre of art representing the African in American arts and when I travel and find some interesting finds for him I call him up. This set of stuffed dolls match in style two smaller ones I got at an estate sale some months earlier. For now, they sit in the living room, although a few folks have referenced the movie Annabel saying the dolls seem to follow them.

I also continue to go through boxes from our move that never was opened as well as boxes sent back from CT. This little guy was an odd character that I remember seeing while growing up. My dad used to have him in different places so now he watches over us.

 

Bookclub, Sales & Food

Knocked out a bunch of new dishes this month including a baked ham with pan stewed apples,  For book club in October – I went with a new recipe for Scalloped Potatoes meet Potato Gratin.  I liked this modified version for its cheesy taste and less liquid than in regular scalloped version. 

Paul and I also managed to score big at the Timbuktu outlet sale with a few new bags. One we had been looking at online we got for less than 25% of the original price.! After the sale, we stopped by a corner Mexican place called San Jalesco we hadn’t tried before but had been around forever. We liked the food so much, we ended up back there a few weeks later to try it for dinner. Well worth the money and the folks working were a lot of fun.

I also found a new fun find at Costco. I rarely have purchased the prepared food at Costco, except for the roast chickens. But the stuffed peppers with ground meat and rice looked great and are a reasonable price. So I figured I would take a risk. My suggestion – do it. They are good, easy to heat up (just add some water to the bottom of the pan first) and are pretty well flavored so no need to “almost homemade” it.  Except maybe some more cheese on it, they require no work.

Had some fun with improvising a recipe for Monkey Bread. Which to be truthful, is really just an excuse to east chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon. But it works! Let’s face it – most foods that are this good – aren’t going to ever photograph that way.. so simply imagine how good it tastes. 🙂

Paul really likes Oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies – but they don’t really connect with me – so I decided to whip up a bar (pan) version. This adaption has all the same ingredients with the addition of chopped nuts. Making them thick, chewy and crispy – while rich, they tasted great. Perfect for a office party as they can be cut small but pack a punch of flavors. 

Palm Springs

We tool a quick trip to PS for a long weekend and managed to grab some perfect weather. Since it was last minute – we didn’t make many plans with anyone, but did grab dinner at Grand Central which recently opened ( and yes – go!) and got a peek at Arlan’s newest Daddy’s Barbershop.

Now, did you know – that in Palm Springs – they actually have a station on TV for dogs? Serious. DOGTV is a real thing an pretty much is hours of outdoor nature seems with natural sounds. 

More to come this week including our “On The Train to Reno” weekend

To be continued…