Another of our Thursday Night-Out’s last night

Another of our Thursday Night-Outs last night

We  continued on our food theme started in October with Night-Outs to the Exploratorium for After Dark, a cookbook night at Omnivore Books, to hear Cenk Sonmezoy, the mastermind and home-schooled blogger behind the food blog Cafe Fernando introduce his new cookbook; The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker as part of my “Bite-Cap“, and seeing 177 Milk Street Author and Food Personality Christopher Kimball, who was in town talking about his second season of Milk Street TV.

This week’s agenda included

But tonight, for our Night-Out we went back to basics with Kimball’s former colleagues, at a special live programming from KQED, hosted by the Bay Areas very own Leslie Sbrocco of Check Please Bay Area for an evening of stories, tips and socializing with cohosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison of  Cook’s Country & Americas Test Kitchen

While I know they have been on tour promoting the newest cookbook due out soon and the new season – it’s nice to see they have developed a fresh and casual style that fits them and doesn’t have them try to fit the former shows, recipe. These two funny, straightforward ladies, really bring “home”, the meaning of home access food. I was amazed at the time and detial, as they explained the intense amount of effort, ethics and time that goes into the recipes and shows. An even more special treat as I recently had attempted one of Cooks Country recipes for Spicy Cheese Bread to great success. I know Paul enjoyed it as well, as he whispers in my ear after hearing it mentioned, that I need to add the Curried Butternut Soup with Cilantro Yogurt to the next menu

Not having been to one of the KQED events before, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was. The KQED space itself was great and being in the studio added its own charm. But what made it a super nice evening, was how approachable and friendly all of these television personalities were. The post-show social, snacking and wine testing was quite the mid-week treat.

Good Swag!

Of course, taking home some great swag didn’t make for a bad night either with copies of Cook’s Country Eats Local, and Pistachio Oil from the folks at La Tourangelle

These three could be trouble

And for those of you inspired foodies

Check Please Bay Area is taking applications for season 13 now. So get those applications in!

More on that can be found at http://ww2.kqed.org/checkplease/apply/

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Bite-Cap2: What a week! with visits to Academy of Science for Nightlife

Bite-Cap2: What a week! – Part 2

This morning I posted my “What a week! – Part 1” and included a Bite-Cap of the week’s happenings.

  • The launch of the #FoodMemories17 Guest series earlier last week,  
  • A follow up of my TechInclusion “TED” Style talk on Mentorship and LGBT at SF Armory building,
  • Getting a chance to listen to blogger and cookbook writer Cenk from www.CafeFernando.com talk about his newest cookbook “The Artful Baker”, dinner at some fun spots around town, a 5.4 mile local urban hike, an educational trip to the Academy of Sciences for a “Nightlife” event, a look back with a chocolate chip pie and wrapped it all up today with some killer themed food for the monthly book club (but that gets it own entry later this week). It’s no wonder I will be ready for bed early.  So here is a quick visual Bite-Cap…
  • The 5.4-mile local urban hike, and of course the Cholate chip cookie pie

But as I had so much more to share, Bite-Cap2 was required (and yes there will be a Bite-Cap3)

Bite-Cap2 starts with the fun night we had at the Academy of Sciences, Halloween themed Nightlife event …

A few weeks ago we saw the posting NightLife as a Thursday night activity; being a big Peaches Christ fan, it was an easy sell to check it out. But after reading up on the event, we decided to check out how the creatures come out at NightLife with Bay Area Science Festival and Peaches Christ Productions. Now they really did a great job at transforming the place into a perfect freakshow then topped it off with it’s supernatural tribute to ’80s horror movies and creatures even stranger than life. It included a tour of a “haunted museum exhibit” full of scientific curiosities and monsters then wrapping up with the centerpiece of the night—a STRANGER QUEENS drag show and costume contest hosted by local drag legend Peaches Christ.  Overall it was the perfect marriage or crowd, space, and planning.  It for sure has me inspired to check out more of the Thursday night events in the future at Academy of Sciences.

The has lots of fun stuff to see in and do on any day of the week, but the off a Thursday program series called “NightLife, billed as a new adventure unfolding every Thursday night from 6–10 pm” which holds my attention; great for date nights or peoples night out.

Academy of Sciences  (https://www.calacademy.org/) and on Facebook

Not to be outdone – the exhibits themselves were pretty marvelous! My personal favorites were the jellyfish, as part of the Steinhart Aquarium and a visit to the Swamp to meet Claude the albino alligator was pretty cool. I grabbed a few shots without a flash, topside shots but later found out that below the surface they prefer you not take pictures. Luckily the Academy supplies you with them online include a cool video of feeding time with Claude! Note: Claude isn’t white- rather he lacks any pigments at all!

A quick video of those Jellyfish in action

I didn’t take a lot of shots that night. OK, ok,  I took some. Check them out in the carousel below:

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The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.
GOLDEN GATE PARK
55 MUSIC CONCOURSE DRIVE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94118
Note: Save 42% on admission to the Academy and three other must-sees San Francisco attractions with CityPASS—plus 3-days unlimited Cable Car rides & Muni bus Passport.

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Fire & Brimstone week

Early in the week, I started off with some “mummy wrapped” sausage patties. I found this silly recipe on one of those cooking magazines with a Halloween theme and couldn’t resist making them for Paul’s breakfast.

Midweek, with the fires still high and smoke and smell string, I stayed in as much as possible and tossed in a batch of Banana Bread; one to trade with a pal and one to save for us. For our version, I tried a recipe from my roommate’s grandmom of peanut butter frosting and tucked in a few Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups for fun.

With the rest of a busy week on deck, between some planning for two presentations and a “TED” style talk at Tech Inclusion this week, transitions in my own life and workplace and the dramatic unfolding of the devastation North of San Francisco from fires. I have been stockpiling my posts for tonight.

Anginette’s have been on my mind and I wanted to get a test batch up and out. Especially after a pal summed it up so nice on Friday; about it being time for cookies.  So Friday night I mixed up the batter for a batch of old-school anise #anginettes.  Then as the smoke settled back on Saturday, I gave them a quick 10 min bake to cool before glazing them in several colors and flavors. Pickled Avocados. I am gonna blame Ryan Knight’s mom on this today. Tried hers several weeks ago and was amazed. So put up a jar to Sunday dinner.

On Saturday I tossed up some quick Pickled Avocados. I am gonna blame my friend Ryan’s mom on. I tried hers several weeks ago and was amazed at the taste. So put up a jar to Sunday dinner.

😋 Don’t judge till you have tried them.  Note: it’s a perfect solution when you have several not quite ripe enough to eat and not sure you will get to them later in the week.

 

 

Princess Cake meets the bookclub boys with some help from a few friends

For the September Bookclub, we read; Spilled Milk. A story based on the real-life experiences of surviving child abuse, offered challenges for theme food. Especially so as not to also minimize the theme and subject matter.

After some thought, I latched onto a moment in the story where she gets to go shopping and while initially offered a chance at a new doll, she instead opts for a journal. A place to put her feelings and thoughts inside while keeping the outside what others expected of her.

I decided to attempt a retro “Princess Cake”, with a marshmallow fondant, as the dress base for the “pretty outside” covering what the story ultimately illustrates is the more complex and rich inner core. In this case, a cherry–almond nut cake. Ok now shopping for this, I did notice that my bags looked like I had 10-year-old girls at home… but I digress

The recipe I used was an adapted version but you can see a similar one here in the New England Today Blog from Yankee Magazine the only change I made was using almonds and I tend to like dark cherries, so I used the canned version instead of the super sweet maraschino ones they recommend.

As a backup, because every Princess needs a “plan B” I also made a Hot Milk Cake which was from my Mom’s Cookbook, as I had never made this recipe before I wasn’t sure of how it would taste initially. But after some sneaking and testing of the bottom – I found I liked the flavor as well, and while my initial concern was it was underdone – in the end – it had a good texture and could have come out a bit earlier. Since it was already made, it got gussied up this morning to take to our pals “10 year anniversary of meeting” brunch. It also being Castro Street Fair – I figured some pink sugar glitter over a simple milk & sugar glaze with lemon zest would do the job.

In the advent that she didn’t come out, I also knocked out one of my favorite adapted recipes from Martha Stewart for a quick Cheddar Bread. Today’s version had two other kinds of diced cheese and was laced with ground pepper, garlic powder, and herbs to give it a nice savory taste with brunch. topped with some honey-herbed butter – we were packed and ready to walk down to the Castro!

 

 

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Winchester House & Folsom Fair weekend

Yes, that is me! It’s  from a poster promoting FSE some years back

Winchester & Folsom unlikely bedfellows… or not?

Because my life isn’t full enough with what I have to do on a daily basis – we still took some time to enjoy Folsom week and the Folsom Fair last week. Having a guest in town gave us an excuse to go and for me to try a few new dishes. But first, it also meant I had company to make my annual trip to the Winchester Mystery House (aka Winchester House or by its formal name while its owners were alive  “). Each year I go to purchase my annual pass and with the pending movie due out by CBS Films starring Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren (The Queen, Eye in the Sky) and Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zero Dark Thirty) and is being directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Predestination) based on their screenplay.  As with any local favorite – once a film or episode is shot – you can expect crowds – so I really wanted to get in now.

On a side note: because of the film launch, where in the past you could take pictures inside the house – the agreement currently is they aren’t allowing photographs. While a disappointment for first-timers  (I wish they made that fact better known on the websites too)the images I used here are from a 2008 trip and do not include recent upgrades, newly acquired furniture or open rooms.

Winchester House Tours

Since my last trip, in addition to the Mansion Tour, they launched a new tour, called Explore More Tour. This replaces the previous “Behind the scenes” tour and adds several new areas of the house including more backstory on the rooms closed off after the earthquake.  The annual skeleton key pass also gets your guests a reduced rate on the tours! To do both tours will run over 2 hours and 15 minutes. While not exhausting, the tours do include a lot of walking and stairs – so dress accordingly. Either tour offers great insight into this local favorite. For me, Winchester has special significance as it is also a hometown name. New Haven, which is where I hale from,  is the birth (and final resting place) for the Sarah Winchester and her husband. Located right in San Jose, about a 45-minute ride from San Francisco, literally across the street from the major shopping promenade. this afternoon or evening treat ( they offer special night events as we get closer to Halloween) is a perfect “go to” for kids of all ages. If you are curious you can also check out Winchester House’s Blog and/or it’s very interactive Facebook page, Facebook.com/winchestermysteryhouse/. For you thinkers out there – you can also visit the website The Truth About Sarah Winchester I can’t attest to its accuracy -but it does fill in some holes I thought interesting.

Knowing I was going to want to have a simple breakfast on Sunday before the Folsom Fair and did a nice omelet on Saturday for the boys – I opted to try my hand at making this Spicey Cheese Bread. One of the Cooks Country recipes – but if you don’t have an online membership – you can find the recipe here on fellow bloggers site; https://www.browneyedbaker.com/spicy-cheese-bread/

The recipe wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Don’t get too nervous about the amount of red pepper either – you really need it to balance with cheeses. Note: this bread reheats really well and I can tell on its own or alongside a hearty stew it’s a keeper. My next plan is to play with the recipe and add cooked off diced prosciutto or sausage!

I even managed to get a few decorations up!

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It’s apple time but not just plain apple but “Candied Apple” time!

It’s apple time but not just apple but “Candied Apple” time!

One of my favorite times of the year is the September – November period. I always liked the ending of summer and the start of the fall. The leaves changing, the colors, the smells, the slight coolness in the breeze. One of the few things I miss not living in the east coast any longer is a certain smell in the air that comes from just the right combination of rain, new growth, mulch, warmth, and dampness. Every so often I will catch a quick moment of it here in San Francisco first thing in the fall morning.

But with the cool weather comes apples.. lots and lots of apples. OK – you bakers can make all the pies and cakes you want. But my favorite way to enjoy apples is smothered in caramel, chocolate, and some extras. Yes, that’s right. It’s candied apple season and not just any apples – it’s the time of the year the little hybrid Lady Apple is at its best. This combination packs the tartness of a crab apple and the sweet of a granny smith in a 3-bite snack. I was looking for other images and found these it promoted me to re-post the how to on them for folks.

ok so this isn’t rocket science here folks:

All you need apples, caramel, chocolate, sticks, wax or parchment paper, plastic wrap and some extras like nuts, sprinkles etc.

Check out the grocery stores. It used to be, you could only find these at places like Whole Foods. But now I can find them pretty much anywhere starting September. But they have a short season and to be honest can be expensive so plan accordingly.

Wash and dry the apples. I leave the stems on – but some folks like to remove them. While they dry – start the next steps:

Depending on the kind of caramel and chocolate you use, you will need to prep them. For the caramel, I use a large box I get from either Amazon or Smart & Final, but in a pinch, you can buy regular packaged caramel squares and unwrap them individually. (that just takes too  much time). In either scenario cut the caramel into 2-3 in cubes and toss in a microwave safe bowl. Something with a handle as the melted caramel will be super hot. Set it aside.

Then do the same with your melting chocolate. Milk or dark – it’s all your preference. Sometimes I get mine at Safeway and use the packages melting chocolate, other times I head over to Marin or Berkeley to the Cake and Candy supply store for bags of it. I also melt mine in the microwave, so no fussing with extra pans.

Now lay out an assembly line.

Clean & dry Apples => Candy Sticks => Hot pad for Carmel => Hot pad for Chocolate => Bowl for toppings => Sheet pan covered in parchment or wax paper

 

Now stick the little suckers, stem side up.

Next, put your caramel in the microwave to melt in 40 sec intervals. Stirring in between. DON”T over heat it. Also, DON’t let any moisture and water get in it. Use a dry spoon to stir. You want it like liquid molten bubbling lava, and almost as hot!

Now in small batches, working quickly, dip, rotate in the hot caramel and twirl off the excess in the hot caramel. (This is why I use a deeper bowl for this part) and place on the covered sheet pan. Once they set up a few minutes. Check for shape – the caramel will be soft enough to smooth and shape if you get a few irregular bumps. Keep in mind – when it cools it will get stiff. All you need to do is pop it back in the microwave and reheat.

 

Now you do the same with the chocolate – put your chocolate in the microwave to melt in 20 sec intervals. Stirring in between. DON”T over heat it. Also, DON’t let any moisture and water get in the chocolate. Use a dry spoon to stir.

After you twirl off the excess chocolate this is the time to roll it in any toppings and then place back on the sheet pan to set.

 

If you feel the chocolate is cooling off or you are running low – just add more and/or reheat it.

Once they are dry to the touch, you can wrap them in the plastic wrap or buy the small food gift bags from the store. Close with a simple tie and you are ready. They don’t need to be kept super cold – but keep them out of direct sun.

 

Birthday weekend Under the “Sun”

What a weekend; with temps as high as 103 in some areas, the house hitting 92 and trying to enjoy a long weekend and celebrate my birthday. Talk about some logistical challenges. 🙂

But we weathered the storm (barely) and we all made it to Tuesday. A short recap of the last few days;

After taking time on Thursday and Friday to write more text for the journal articles due in October, I finally called it quits as the heat in the house rose. Thursday as the weather grew warm, we opted for burgers so I did some searching online and came up with a recipe for homemade burger buns. Saving me a trip to the store as I was due to get Dino from “doggie day camp”. The super easy recipe had them done and ready to cool in less than 40 minutes, you can read about it here.

Friday hit warm and the house wasn’t going to be pretty but I tried to get some work done. Ended up getting drafts in, haircut for the next day and enjoying the messages, texts and Facebook posts that so many folks left me for my birthday. Getting them always helps to remind one of the power and space they take up in the lives of others. To be fair, I also posted a few of those “I can’t believe they still exist” images of me on my 5th birthday with the cake my mom made for me.

A nice surprise for the day was getting a delivery. One of the “you can’t go wrong with sending them” gifts. After Amazon gift cards they happen to be one of my favorites to receive. Thanks, Wayne and Tom! Paul also surprised me with a new knapsack – but this one has an Owl theme and is in rubber – perfect for gym and rain days.

As usual, Paul had his fun with the birthday card – – we have a long-running joke about the movie Frozen and “Let it go”, but he managed to find a new one:

 

That night we played it easy for dinner and tried to figure out a way to cool the house down. Saturday dawned hot again. Derailing some of our plans, so it was a lazy day until dinner that night at The Old Clam House. One of my fav places to eat ( they also own the outstanding restaurant Osso Steakhouse, another of my “can’t wait to go again places”, we went last January). After a rough start with delays for seating and some staffing issues they finally had a plan sorted out for us. Unfortunately, some people can’t hold warm weather drinking and another guest managed to knock over our post-dinner cupcakes from Noe Valley Bakery, which had been on the hostess desk waiting for the hostess to return. But the GM graciously offered to comp our desserts as an apology. They are a class act that way.

But before heading out, traditionally if I have a birthday dinner out, and it’s not hosted by me, I will try to make a little something for people to take home as a thank you for coming. Earlier that day we had been watching the chef and restaurant owner, Lidia Bastianich on tv and one of the recipes was for a Sesame Candy. It looked manageable time-wise and tasty and I happened to have everything on hand. So I knocked a batch together and wrapped them for with a simple rustic “Thank You”

We rounded out the weekend pretty mellow, Sunday night for Pizza as the city began to cool down and then managed to grill out for dinner again Monday night keeping it simple and easy with grilled skirt steak, broccoli before some TV and prepping for the rest of the week.  Even found my new favorite nondairy ice cream on sale!

 

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Fresh Warm Buns “oh my”

With the warm weather, suddenly on us, and knowing that Thursday was a writing day for me. We opted for hamburgers for Dinner. Noticing that I didn’t have any buns for them, and before I called Paul to stop and get some on his way home, I thought maybe I would make an attempt at making a batch.

Who knew making buns were this easy?

After checking some of my cookbooks and some experience of late with baking quick rolls, I came up with this super easy recipe. I also googled recipes and noticed that it’s very similar to a bunch already out there. Which tells me more and more people are coming up with these quick and tasty, store-bought alternative. The finished product was dense and had a great bite to them. Solid enough to hold the meat ( I am already thinking how good these will taste with pulled pork bbq) but not so hard that you can’t bite into it.

With a short single raise and only a 12-minute bake – these literally can be made in less than 30 min from start to finish.

The recipe?

I go this one from Food.com; the only change I made was adding ground pepper to the flour for some added taste. The recipe doesn’t specify the type of flour, but I had bread flour on hand and used that. I think adding any combination of dried or fresh herbs or even grated cheese might make these great as well. You find the full recipe here: http://www.food.com/recipe/40-minute-hamburger-buns-183081

 

 

 

 

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And it’s A Whirlwind Saturday

What a whirlwind.

Two parties in one day during an already emotionally overwhelming day of “push back” against political extremists, and while a hugely important topic – it’s being covered elsewhere so back to the good stuff for now.

Paul’s work picnic went over well, even with warm temps and my having to grill. In the end lots of great foods including a new favorite local find; bbq from City Smoke House. 

It may be some of the best local bbq I have had in some time. I think they will be appearing at a house party for sure!.

City Smoke House

City Smoke House, http://citysmokehousesf.com

Between the grilled chicken, corn, hot links and a few burgers for the young ones and the bbq, salads, fruit everyone ate well and took “doggy bags” home- even the ride home from Tilden Park was quick with little traffic coming back into the city.

And yes, that is a quick read thermometer In my hand. Doesn’t everyone carry one to a bbq? 😱

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So much for a day off…

So we all love a day off. I know next week is going to be a bear of a week with writing – but I didn’t think today we be this full. It was the annual prep and cook day for Paul’s office picnic tomorrow. Thank goodness for Shadow helping today! (Rumor has it, I’m grill master too tomorrow).

Day “to do”

For our “bring” entree, a simple Chicken & Veggie egg bake with a caramelized onion bbq chutney. Then because the vegetables looked so good, some “quick pickled veggies”, a Fennel, Kale and Orange salad and for our  “bake off” entry; while not the more elaborate Chocolate Cherry Bread I mentioned in the past  this is an easier, no knead variation I made earlier in the week, got repurposed into a Bread Pudding with an orange zest cream cheese topping.

Then we needed to prep a quick Pear Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Syrup for the other Paul’s birthday picnic that happens right after my Paul’s work one.

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