- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.eVyALSMd.dpuf born and raised: 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Tortillas.  Say it with me.  Tortillas.

Just the name alone should conjure up warm memories of your Mexican grandmother in the kitchen, the sweet smell of corn on the griddle as her worn hands patted together those disc-shaped wonders.  You were a child and she handed one to you, still steaming, perhaps with melted cheese or fresh butter on top, and you sank your baby teeth into it, firm and browned on the outside and so so soft inside, and you could tell: your Abuelita loves you very much.

Unless, like me, you didn't have a Mexican grandmother.  Some of us just aren't born that lucky, so we must make do with what we've got.

In this case, I became my own Abuelita when I made fresh corn tortillas.  You can do it too.  Here's how:


2 cups Masa de Harina (we used Maseca brand)
1.25 cups warm water
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp shortening or lard (unnecessary, completely optional authentic touch)


Mix everything in a bowl with your hands.  The shortening or lard, if used, should be melted before it's mixed in.  The consistency of the dough should be fairly dry, just enough to stick together without falling apart.  Add water or flour to adjust consistency.

 Use wax paper or a plastic bag on the tortilla press to keep dough from sticking to the metal.  Form a golf-ball-sized ball of dough, put it in the tortilla press, and press that sucker down.

Now carefully peel off the tortilla and throw it on the hot griddle or in a pan.  Tortillas!

 If you don't have a tortilla press, that's okay.  You can use your hands, a rolling pin, or a plate to flatten the masa balls into discs.  Gwen got our tortilla press from a local Mexican market (Lepe's on Sebastopol Road), and it was cheap and has been more than worth it, considering how often I bust it out  for a quick quesadilla, tacos for lunch, or just to show it off. 

When I was a kid, our family was very close with Jose Perez, owner of the Perez Family Restaurant in Roseland.  It was a truly old-school family-style Mexican restaurant, with fresh pozole and menudo on the weekends prepared by Jose's wife, Josie Perez, in the small kitchen in the back.  Each huge bowl of soup was served with a stack of fresh, hot corn tortillas.  Now I can bring that experience to my own kitchen and revive the memory of the Mexican grandmother I never had.  I can be my own Abuelita.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Round Like The Sun. The Days Are Getting Longer!

Where are the best bagels in Santa Rosa?  Small bagel chains in Sonoma Valley simply don't cut it for me.  Nick and I were talking about how a good bagel is SO GOOD, and we couldn't figure out the best bagel place in town.  We mean the best of the best, not-just-good-but-great bagels.  So I decided to try to make them myself.

I had invited my dad and Midori over for a birthday breakfast, and I thought what better Solstice birthday breakfast than a round like the sun bagel.  Also, it is good to try out recipes on your family, because if it is unsuccessful they will still be your family.

Bagels should be golden and shiny to look at, with a crunchy crust and chewy inside.
I gave it my best shot; knead, wait, roll, boil, bake.  The hardest part was keeping my "O" together, the ends didn't want to stick.  However, we noticed they were "G" shaped and decide it was intentional.
I made a few poppy seed, and a few sesame seed varieties, why not?
I think they turned out pretty damn good.
I made quite a spread; cream cheese, lox, capers, onions, butter, jelly, jam...

I wasn't keeping track or anything, but I did happen to notice a few people helping themselves to seconds and even thirds.
They were good. Really good.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just Thrown Together

One of the most annoying things about good food- or good cooks, or family recipes, or whatever- is biting into something delicious and saying to the cook, "Can I get the recipe?" just to get a reply like, "I just sort of threw it together, there is no recipe"
Now I will freely pass recipes, after all, good food should be accessible to everyone.
Yet I am guilty of "throwing food together" with fabulous results (I am probably equally guilty of throwing food together with inedible results).  I have also gotten familiar with what certain food is suppose to look or feel like, so I "just know" to add more or less flour, for example.
Throwing ingredients into a pot with no rhyme or reason, just to say "dinner was wonderful" does not make for interesting reading, or writing, and we hope people continue to read our humble blog.  So what do I say then, when for dinner I threw it together?

I should start by saying early in the week we usually cook from scraps. That is, we don't want to go to the market, so whatever is lying around the house becomes dinner.  On Monday night we had green chilis, cheese, and eggs on hand,  so I made a chili cheese pie with black beans.
I based this concoction on a dutch pancake, with more eggs and cream, and less flour.
I cooked the green chili's in a oven proof skillet with a few tablespoons of butter
whisked together ABOUT five eggs with PERHAPS a cup of cream, MAYBE a few tablespoons of milk, and AROUND 1/4 cup flour.

I poured the batter into the skillet, sprinkled a handful of cheese on top and popped the skillet into the oven for ABOUT 25 minuets, until the top is golden.

I had cooked up some black beans, so with a dollop of sour cream, there was dinner.  No recipe, but no secret either.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Say Potato

I love potatoes.  I love them cooked any way, I love any variety, I love them all.  Potatoes are not just tasty; they are my favorite comfort food.  Cooking dinner after dark slows me down, and makes me less ambitious.  I want warm and simple meals, because what I really desire is to cozy up by the fire and go to bed unreasonably early.  This time of year all I want is comfort.  This time of year all I want is to eat potatoes.

Baked potato, creamed spinach, and a sausage. Warm, flavorful, buttery... all my winter food requirements.
I blanched some fresh spinach and then tossed it with chopped onions and garlic that had been sauteing in butter.  I added a little cream and a little hard Italian cheese, let it cook down for a few minutes. Ta da!  I don't usually make creamy food, but I couldn't get creamed spinach out of my mind.

This is perfect comfort food.  Rich, easy, potato.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Carrots Are Good For Your Eyes, Better To See Art With

Thank You Thank You Thank You!  Shop Party was an amazing and successful event.  We sold out of everything (minus a few vegetarian sandwiches).  It seemed all the vendors did really well, there were a ton of people that came through, and everyone seemed really happy and excited.  We got so much positive feedback and encouragement, it was wonderful! We are still giddy.
We are also still busy!
We were asked to make some food for this art show, six artist have created wonderful Xmas cards you you to admire and purchase, THURSDAY!
We are making a carrot soup perfect for a cold night.
Bring your thermos, we will be happy to fill it up!  Stock up on Xmas cards!  After the show you can go home and address them to your far away friends and family, and have the most original cards around in the mail before the weekend.
See you Thursday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For Our Next Trick

Thanksgiving was lovely, we finally digested. We are back to the grind, and looking forward to the weekend. It is true we always look forward to the weekend, but this weekend is really something to look forward to.
 Nick and I are participating in our friends Meredith and Olivia's second Shop Party.
Shop Party if a craft bazaar, there will be over twenty vendors, from local business to crafty people who make incredible stuff. Two bands will be playing, there will even be cocktails! We will be there with our now much requested banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)

We will also be scooping up some cà phê sữa đá ice cream (Vietnamese coffee ice cream).
To take home with you we will have a variety of preserves for you to try and purchase.

Apple Rosemary Jelly, Pear Fennel Butter, Sweet Roasted Beet Relish, and the amazing Tomato Jam

We are busy, busy, busy until then and really hope you come on down. You can get all your holiday purchasing done in one fell swoop, and have lunch, and hear local music, AND support local business and the local arts and crafts community. It seems like money well spent to me!
See you Sunday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It's not hard to be thankful, even when we are so spoiled. Nick and I are blessed, our lives are charmed, our home is warm, our bellies are usually (too) full, our chickens are happy and healthy... We are happy and healthy. Our dog and cats are playing as I type in bed.  We live in such an amazing, abundant, and beautiful place.

I am tempted to go over the top and describe the sun shining in through the window and the crisp morning garden, but I will not.

I will only say Nick is up making coffee, and soon I will pick some spinach from the garden, eggs from the coop, and make an omelet.

But this is our everyday routine.  As much as we try, we sometimes forget how much we have to be thankful for.
Spinach, cheese, and turtle bean omelet
Nick and I do remind ourselves all the time how lucky we are.  We take deep breaths, we admire our skyline, we ride our bikes, we sit down to eat, we eat.  Like I said, we are blessed, and we are not alone.  We have the support and love of our friends, family, and community, and they have our support and love in return.

My family always gets together in Marin for Thanksgiving, I look forward to it every year.  All of us, over twenty people usually, gather around to catch up with each other and eat the hors d'oeuvres everyone has contributed (we are going to bring some kind of cured meat, soft cheese, homemade jam concoction).  I have the good fortune of coming from a family of talented cooks and amazing palates, so everything on the table is so good that by the time dinner is ready I am already full.  I am not even going to try to pace myself this year, I am going to be thankful for everything I eat, and wear a full skirt, and maybe even take a nap.
I hope everyone is mindful of their abundance today.  Feel deeply, feel grateful, eat good food with good people, remember that we are all good people.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

When You Do Feel Like Cooking

Now that we are rested, I wanted to cook. I was also craving ravioli. I have made ravioli from scratch before with various levels of success, but each time I seem to get better.
Making the pasta is easy enough, it is 2 cups flour, mixed with 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks.
For this pasta I added some finely chopped (pulverized) dried sage.
The filling was easy too, my favorite, butternut squash!
I roasted a beautiful squash with olive oil and some salt and pepper, when it was ready I mashed it, and mixed it with ricotta cheese.
I rolled out the dough in golf ball size proportions, and that is easy too because I use my handy dandy pasta rolling attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. The difficult part for me, is cutting and stuffing. There is nothing uniform about this process for me. Part of me loves the beautiful inconsistency, even messy look of (my) fresh pasta. There is another part of me the worries about the inconsistency of my pasta for cooking and presentation.  Perhaps someday I will have a ravioli stamp, or maybe higher counter tops to streamline this process, as for now, it's a little (delicious)  mess.
It is fastest, and easiest for me is to make ravioli pockets, that is cut a rectangle of rolled pasta, place the filling on one side, dampen the edges and fold over, press to seal. I only do it this way because I then don't have to cut identical pieces of pasta. :)
Once I made all of my little pockets I dropped them into a large pot of boiling water. Like all fresh pasta cooking these ravioli only takes a few minuets.
I dressed the ravioli with fresh basil pesto, tomato jam (I may be a little obsessed, I am incorporating this into every meal) and fresh goat cheese.
The garlic in the basil, the sweetness of the squash and tomato, with the tangy-ness of the tomato and goat cheese was a winning combination.
Our sage and butternut squash ravioli with pesto, tomato jam, and goat cheese dinner was a delicious success.

When You Don't Feel Like Cooking

Over the weekend we went up to Sea View to celebrate Nick's birthday.  We had a wonderful, relaxing, adventurous time.  The weather was unbelievable, warm and clear.  I promised Nick I would make him anything he wanted for his birthday dinner... I think he has moved entirely into adulthood, as he requested sauerkraut soup and roasted Brussels sprouts for his special meal.  The soup was really wonderful and hearty, I forgot the Brussels though.  We ate the soup with crusty cheesy bread and salad.  A friend of ours arrived before dinner with a roast chicken and so I roasted some potatoes and we really feasted.
When we got home the next morning we were all exhausted.  Back to work we went, and for dinner we didn't feel like cooking.  Our solution was simple, snacks! We love bread, cheese, smoked fish, smoked meat, jam, mustard, anything you can pile on or glop together in a convenient and wonderfully satisfying bite sized taste.

We dined, or snacked, or picked at a sourdough baguette, a lovely soft cheese, pickled anchovies, smoked oysters, smoked sprats, and some (mind-blowing, if you don't mind me tooting my own horn) tomato jam I made awhile back. To round the meal up we made a simple salad of greens and herbs.

Dinner was amazing, and we didn't have to lift a finger, other than to pop a piece of fish in our mouth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Great Collapsible Paving Stone

This is Birthday week times two.
November 6th was my mom's birthday, and the 9th was Nick's birthday. Truth be told between eating out and eating leftovers we have not been cooking very much. On Monday however we had my mom and Gary over for a birthday dinner. We grilled a bunch of pizzas, had a simple pear salad, and drank plenty of wine.
As for a birthday cake I decided to make a flour-less cake because this particular flour-less cake is amazing, and because we nearly used all the flour we had making double batches of pizza dough.
As far as we know, we have no allergy to gluten. In fact we eat a lot of gluten rich foods. I have often said I could live on bread and cheese. So the motivation behind baking gluten-free is a delicious product, not necessarily for any health benefit. If you do have an allergy to gluten, bake this cake! Even if you don't! Just please, please be patient!

The cake is a Chocolate Pave, pave is the french word for paving stone, and call so because this is a rich often dense cake. This particular recipe is rich, and seemingly dense, but light as air at the same time. The texture is amazing!

Chocolate Pave
Preheat the oven to 350
In a double boiler heat until melted and smooth
7 1/2 oz. GOOD dark chocolate and 15 T unsalted butter [ :) ]
Set aside to cool
separate 6 eggs,

Whist the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture ribbons, 10 minuets or so (my right forearm is still sore, maybe use the kitchen-aid mixer) fold the yoke into the chocolate.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and a pitch of salt. Whisk until the whites look shiny and hold shape.

In three parts fold the whites into the chocolate, just until combined. Pour the mixture into a cake pan that has been buttered and flowered (I used cocoa powder)
Bake for 35 to 40 minuets, The top will crack and it is done when the sides our set up and the center is still slightly soft.
This is where the patience  comes into play. It is important to let the cake cool completely before you remove it from the cake pan. This particular morning I was a little over eager and this beautiful cake kind of collapsed.
Before my mom came over for dinner I lightly dusted the cake with powdered sugar in attempts to disguise my "ambition", not that it mattered, we all devoured large sections before giving the cake much of a second glance.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

We get so excited for trick-or-treaters; we dress up, arm ourselves with full size candy bars, light our jack-o-lanterns, and wait. Unfortunately we only get about ten kids, maybe, so there is some down time and we wrap up early. While we wait it is important to have some spooky music on and something warm and spicy to eat and to drink.  This time of year I rarely put away my crock pot, it is full and steaming with apple cider.  To eat, of course something pumpkin...
Spiced Pumpkin Filbert Bread (adapted from The New California Cook)
Preheat the oven to 350, spread 1/2 cup chopped filberts (hazelnuts) on a baking sheet and roast for 5ish minuets, until lightly browned. Set aside.
Beat 4 T soft unsalted butter with1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 granulated sugar until well blended. Add 2 eggs, 1 ts orange zest, 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1 cup pumpkin puree. Blend well.
In another bowl mix 2 cups flour, 1/4 ts salt, 2 ts baking powder, 1/2 ts baking soda, 1/2 ts cinnamon, 1/2 nutmeg, 1/2 ginger, 1/2 allspice. Add the dry ingredients and to the pumpkin mix, mix until just blended. Add the filberts and 1/2 cup golden raisins. Mix just enough to combine.

Butter two 4x8 loaf pans, and divide the batter evenly between the two. Bake for 45 minuets, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cook for 15 minuets before turning out and cooling completely (or however long you and reasonably wait).

We hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

Chelsea's Descry launch was amazing, fun, and there was a great turn out. Nick and I warmed folks up with boozy beverages, and welcomed them in from the rain with scoops of ice cream, and boy were they happy to see us. I happily scooped until there was nothing left to scoop. We were very well received and are so grateful to be apart of such a wonderful night.
The pumpkin ice cream was a delight, and I was pleased to have some leftover pumpkin. What to make next?

I decided to make a lovely pumpkin gnocchi. I love gnocchi and every once and awhile I try my had at a perfect gnocchi, and they usually turn out OK (as good as store bought) but there is always room for improvement. It may just be the Italian gene I lack, in which case there is no hope for me.
In theory though, like all pasta, gnocchi is very simple to make.
It starts with a baked potato.
When your potato has baked through, pull it out of the stove and scoop out the hot insides and run through a food mill.

Spread the potato in a single layer onto a working surface and let cool completely.  Once the potatoes have cooled, sprinkle 1 cup of flour and a few teaspoon of salt over the potatoes.  Gather the mixture together to form a well.  Add the pumpkin puree (I used about 1/3 cup) and an egg into the middle of the well,

lightly knead the mixture together just until all ingredients are combined and it forms a ball. If the gnocchi are too wet, add more flour a little bit at a time only until the dough comes together and doesn’t stick to your fingers easily. It’s important not to overwork the dough, as this will make the gnocchi heavy and tough. 
Roll out your dough into finger with worms, and cut into bite sized pieces. I will often roll a fork over them to give them a little texture for sauce.

Plop them into boiling water for 3 to 4 minuets, until they come to the surface looking like little pillows. Drain and add your favorite sauce.

For our sauce:
This was a "chop it up, throw it in" light tomato sauce. I diced a handful or cherry tomatoes from the garden, some garlic, some onion, a spoonful or so of leftover pumpkin puree, sauteed with butter, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Not too shabby.
We served our gnocchi with a dollop of pesto on top, and a simple apple and cheese salad.

Saturday night we carved pumpkins, and reserved the seeds, and gunk. We have more roasted pumpkin seeds then we know what to do with, the chickens have been pumpkin feasting, AND I roasted and pureed five pints of pumpkin...
In the posts to come you may note a theme. Hey, it's what's in season.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Descry Presents

I've been busy making ice cream and shaking jars or hooch.
Chelsea is hosting Descry Magazine's second issue release party, and she asked us to make sure everyone had something sweet to eat and/or drink.
Gladly I agreed.

I've been roasting pumpkin for pumpkin ice cream and crushing up cardamom for a batch of cardamom saffron.

To drink I've put together a peach vanilla brandy that has been infusing for a month now.
For the last week or so vodka has been infusing with honey and oats.
The finished product should be something quite special.
I suggest you taste for yourself!

3641 Main Street Gallery, Occidental CA
October 22, 7-11pm
 Issue No.2 Release
Art Exhibit
And Silent Auction Featuring Work By:

Elena Zavala

And Chris Weller Presents:
A Magnificent Microcosm- The Smallest Circus in Western Territories

Performance By: Odd Bird
Homemade Ice Cream and Infused Beverages By: Born & Raised 
With Toppings By: Produce to the People
Hope to see you Friday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Folklore and Figs

When I was little I hated figs.  Now I LOVE figs. I love the way they taste, their texture, and the way they look.

Figs are one of the oldest fruits enjoyed by humans, and one of the best for us (I suppose this is just my opinion, but they are high in potassium, iron, fiber and especially plant calcium). In Buddhism the fig tree is a symbol of enlightenment. In Greek mythology, figs are associated with Dionysus, the god of wine, and with Priapus, a satyr who symbolized sexual desire.  Ancient Egyptian priests ate them at consecration ceremonies and figs show up a lot in the Old Testament as well as the New. The beautiful innards, full of seeds, signify unity and knowledge as well as fertility.
What I am trying to say, what history proves, is these are damn good eatin'.

I got a handful from Midori, and decided I would make a fig cake. A fig cake with cinnamon, to give us unifying knowledge and prosperity (cinnamon is ruled by Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, but also has a long history of use as a herb used for business, attracting wealth abundance). A cake for writing a business plan.

Get Down to Business Fig Cake

 2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
16 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped figs
For the top:
1/2 cup sliced figs (or however many needed to cover the surface)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
ground cinnamon

 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl.  Beat butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated into butter & sugar.  Beat in one-third of flour mixture;  add and mix in half a cup of milk.  Add half of the remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture. Fold in the chopped figs.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Arrange sliced figs on the top, sprinkle the sugar, and then dust with cinnamon.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Making friends and family feel more abundant, one slice of cake at a time.