Friday, October 11, 2013

Turkey Legs at the Renaissance Fair


The Renaissance fair is a magical place where people go to let their imagination shine. There is everything from belly dancing to jousting, and petty zoos to taverns. We have romanticized the Renaissance era (and added a little Tolken) to celebrate humanity. 


Yes, people are surprised, and sometimes a little weirded out, when I tell them I have a closet full of Renaissance costumes. But my many trips to the fair growing up, decked out in full costume, instilled one of a kind memories only a child could create. My memories are full of mythical creatures, magic, and friendship. A child's mind is limitless, and at the Renaissance fair, the imagination is let loose. My memories take me out of this world, and into one of beauty and friendship, much like the journey one receives from reading a good book. 



This was the first time I entered the fair with an adult point of view. It was sad to see the magic and mythical creatures fade away, and reality push its way in. I was nervous I would no longer enjoy the fair. Thankfully, this was not the case. 



This time around, my trip to the fair was full of a different kind of magic. The magic of alcohol! Nah, I am joking, I only had one beer. The center of my fair experience was still focused on friendship, but I also found some great food. The art of food trucks, has found its way to the Renaissance fair. Despite the increased variety and ethnicity of the food, I still craved the traditional Turkey leg. 


I thought I could finish a whole turkey leg, but I was underestimating the power of corsets. After a Guinness, a couple of bites of the turkey leg and Gillie's falafel, I was already full. However, I still had room for a chocolate covered frozen cheesecake on a stick, of course. When I finally took the corset off after the fair, I was immediately hungry again.  

I am a strong believer of people congregating over food. Happiness always follows. 


But sometimes, being under 21 at the Renaissance fair can be rather upsetting, as you eat your turkey leg, and watch everyone else drink their Guinness or mead. My poor little sister.


To redeem myself from showing the world her hilarious frowny face, I have, of course, provided a glamour shot. I don't think I have ever gone to the Renaissance fair without my sister, Tess. I have half a mind to be sentimental about our childhood once again, but I have just remembered that she still hasn't given me back the earrings she borrowed for the fair. Typical little sister move.


I am very lucky to have such caring and imaginative friends. Growing up doesn't seem all that bad, as long as my relationships grow as well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Muir Beach and the Pelican Inn



Fog

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


I was first introduced to this poem in elementary school. It eloquently describes my home, Sausalito. I have spent countless summers staring out a window, watching the fog swallow my hillside and blanket San Francisco. The poem also described my childhood. I was always moving, never letting my feet grow roots beneath me. My heart always seemed cloudy while I was away, but back in the fog I felt loved.


The Pelican Inn embodies the magic of the Bay Area. Sausalito is as close to Europe as the west coast will ever get. Enjoying the day in an 100 year old, tucked under the fog on the edge of the Pacific coast doesn't seem all that bad.


If you are ever in the San Francisco Bay Area, please stop by Muir beach, and eat lunch at the Pelican. I had bangers and mash (2 sausages, mashed potatoes, english peas, and spicy mustard), with Guinness on tap. Muir is a foggy beach full of happy dogs and makeshift bbq pits. I suggest hiking boots and a windbreaker, and if you are interested in surfing, a wet suit is unavoidable.


Pelican Classics

  • Bangers & Mash $12
  • Shepherd’s Pie $12
  • Fish & Chips $16
  • Ham Sandwich $11
  • Guinness Beef Stew $9
  • Ploughman’s Lunch $12


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Cake with Ginger

It is 70 degrees and windy in Turlock today. It feels like just yesterday the weather was breaking 100. I don't know when fall decided to start in California's central valley, but apparently it has arrived. I have been waiting for this day since I started working for Gallo in July. 

Making wine has shown me what sweating really feels like. I kid you not, every part of your body has the ability to sweat. At first I hated it. As a freckled person, I had to reapply sunscreen every two hours before I would sweat it off. Wearing a respirator may make you feel badass preparing for the apocalypse or making meth for Breaking Bad, but the reality is a face full of sweat and pimples. Even Bob Gallo mentioned how pink I get from a combination of sweat and sunburn. I may look like I am going to pass out, but in reality I simply always look like this doing manual labor in 100+ weather.

Working, on average, ten hours a day outside in the heat makes time disappear. I have been so stressed everyday, trying to be the best I can be, and keep up with the wine professionals around me, that I wasn't aware of how much I was learning, or the life that I was living. My life has changed. I have been striving for something, but never stopped to realize that I all ready had it. I make wine. I make wine everyday. When I mess up at work or have a bad day, I take a deep breath, and remind myself that everything here is new to me. I am still learning, but more importantly I am making wine. Everything worth doing has a learning curve. I would much rather be making mistakes making wine than sitting in a lab or doing paper work. 


Apple Cake
Prep time: 20 min.
Total time: 50-60 minutes
Ingredients
  • 5 medium apples
  • 2/3 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tbs butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • powdered sugar
Cut up apples into small wedges. Caramelize apples in butter, but save 1-2 apples for decorating the top of the cake. Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Add carmelized apples. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. After cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar
Adapted From


Feel what I am feeling and listen to:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Favorite Mac 'N Cheese

The most difficult part about moving to a rural farm area is the lack of diversity when it comes to food and groceries. James came down to visit for a week, and we quickly exhausted all the best restaurants. So for his next trip down, I had to get creative when it came to date night. 


The first thing that came to mind was mac 'n cheese with bacon, and beer. I knew I was on to something, but it still felt lacking. I needed a way to make the evening special outside of my makeshift shared apartment. So I packed up the pre-made mac 'n cheese, and drove him out into the country. After passing Costco, civilization ended, and we were engulfed by cornstalks and almond orchards. The roads narrowed, and barefoot children followed dogs carelessly chasing our car. Despite being utterly lost, we found a nice spot between an orchard and a corn field with a clear view of the sunset.  


A little music and conversation is all we needed to keep a smile on our faces, and the laughter flowing, as the sun melted away in front of us. However, the bacon mac 'n cheese was not neglected. James had his IPA, and both of our tummy's were full. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Apple and Chive Salad

This salad makes me pucker, but I love it all the same. 



Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of spinach and arugula
  • 1 apple
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbs. gorganzola
  • 1 sprig of chives
  • lemon juice (1 small lemon)
  • cracked pepper
  • olive oil

For the dressing combine lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to taste. 3 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice. Toss the ingredients together in a large bowl and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Coconut Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Cranberry Jello

It has been a little while since I have written here or had a chance to make some photo-worthy meals. Currently with out a working oven, and very little free daylight time, my cooking expeditions have been very short winded. This was actually a sweet I made for myself right before I started working for Gallo. The bottom is cranberry jello, and the top is a coconut panna cotta, with strawberries. I love this dessert, because it doesn't require an oven, and is easy to scale up. 


Serves: 2-4 people
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Total time: 4 1/2 + hours
Ingredients:

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar or to taste
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 6 medium strawberries
  • 1 1/2 packets of gelatine

Heat the cranberry juice over the stove and stir in 1/4 cup of sugar until dissolved. Once dissolved let the cranberry juice cool to room temperature, or cooler, and then add 3/4 of a packet of gelatin. Stir.  It won't work if the juice is too hot. Cut up the strawberries, and arrange them at the bottom of the cup. Pour the cranberry juice over the strawberries, and put in fridge for at least two hours.

Once the cranberry juice has solidified, start heating up the coconut milk. Just heat high enough to dissolve the 1/4 cup of sugar. High heat will reduce the coconut flavor. Once the coconut milk is cool, add 3/4 of a packet of gelatin. Stir. Pour the coconut milk on top of the harden cranberry juice. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

After the coconut milk has solidified, garnish with strawberries. I would also recommend garnishing with a sprig of mint. 

Serving size and suggestions: Depending on the size of the glasses used, you can probably feed 2-4, or maybe 6 people. Feel free to increase or decrease the sugar based on taste. Also, if you tilt the glass with cranberry juice, as it sits in the fridge, you can change the shape of the bottom layer of juice. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Graduation Dinner Menu

Some of the dishes made have links back to the references used. If you would like more information about any of the recipes feel free to contact me at blueberryoctopie@gmail.com.


Appetizers
Dinner
  • Carrot soup with oranges
  • fruit salad
  • watermelon salad with tomatoes, onions and balsamic vinegar
  • Asparagus pesto pasta
Dessert
Drinks


On Sunday I graduated from University of California, Davis with a degree in Biotechnology. To celebrate, my friends and family got together for a home cooked meal.



I love this picture of the wheat fields behind my cousin's house from the graduation dinner. 


Tonight I leave for Peru and will not return until July. I am leaving my computer behind and will not be posting until I get back. Although, on my return I will share photographs and experiences from my travels. I also have an awesome post coming up for the Fourth of July, so be sure to come back and check it out!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eggs and Avocado Toast


For the last day of class my writing professor shared with us some last tid bits of inspiration and wisdom. First off, she emphasized the importance of reading and writing each day. Proper comma placement originates from the author's inner spidey senses, which are only honed by emerging oneself in the never ending world of literature. Communication is the number one skill desired in the workforce.

She also emphasized active thinking. At this day in age, with technology never further than our fingertips, it is unfortunately way too easy to pass the time without thinking. I know I have fallen victim to this more than I would like to admit. In the end, our thoughts are all we have. 


As many of us are looking towards graduation and trying desperately to figure out what on earth we are going to do with our lives, my professor urged us to consider what kind of day we want. I wish more people emphasized this to our nation's youth. Growing up, everything appeared to focus on goals regarding wealth and positions within society. To succeed in the eyes of others, all I needed to do was postpone happiness. But when would happiness be allowed to start? Accepting that success does not need to be measured through materialism, and understanding that choosing another path does not equate to quitting or failure, is not always easy. Separating oneself from society takes a strong individual. But the secret is, we all have this strength inside us, if we just take a moment to unearth it.


Take responsibility. If you want to be taken seriously, there is no other option. I learned this leadership lesson while event planning for a group of people who were constantly mad at each other. I would fix one person's problem, but it would eventually cause a problem for someone else, and everyone would be mad at each other again. At first I was angry at everyone for being so determined to hate each other, but then I realized I was doing the exact same thing. In the end I held a meeting, and took responsibility for all the hatred that was surging through the group. It worked like magic. Everyone focused their hatred on me, and the event turned out wonderfully. By the end, not only was everyone having a great time, but they had completely forgotten they were supposed to be hating me. If I hadn't stepped up and taken responsibility, I guarantee the event would have been a disaster. 


What I need to work on the most is ensuring that I am a kind and generous person, not just tomorrow, but today as well. I always tell myself I will donate money once I make some, but will I? However, generosity is not measured in numbers. Instead, generosity is a state of being. This past year I volunteered to help run the children's storytelling program at the local International House. When I finished my last event, I felt relieved that I would finally have my Sundays to myself again, and then I felt guilty. Even though I had spent over a year working with this program, I still had not let generosity into my heart. Generosity, like relationships or dental hygiene, will not happen overnight, and must be practiced everyday.

Lastly, I would like to add some values of my own. I believe that at the root of happiness is simplicity. Don't complicate things further than necessary, and ensure you love every minute of your waking life. Whenever I take on too much, I almost always neglect my values, and the quality of my work declines. Don't focus on topics that create anger. Life is a one time offer.


In the name of simplicity, I would like to share a breakfast dish that takes advantage of local fresh produce.

Time: less than 10 minutes
Servings: 1
Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of rosemary sourdough bread
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • 2 eggs
  • Raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper 

Begin by warming up your frying pan. Cut in half a slice of rosemary sourdough bread, or whatever you have. Place the bread in the toaster on medium heat. Cut two medium slices from a fresh tomato. Cut half an avocado into long strips. Add olive oil to the hot frying pan, and once the oil is hot fry the eggs. Once the egg whites are set, flip the egg over for a little less than a minute. A slightly runny yolk will enhance, and blend the flavors. At about this time the bread should be done. Place the avocado and tomato slices on the toast, and top with the eggs.

To garnish, add salt, pepper and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. I use a raspberry balsamic vinegar and it contrasts nicely to the sweetness of the broken yolk. Sometimes, I add a little brie between the toast and avocado, if I am feeling fancy.


Celebrating the end of spring with seven little goslings, all of whom happened to be named Ryan.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blueberry Coconut Banana Bread



Beautiful chaos is the best way to describe this loaf. I started with banana bread, but ended up adding whatever else I could find in the fridge. Beautiful chaos is also how I would describe my life right now. 

Last week flew by, but nothing actually seemed to get done. So Friday night consisted of trying to figure out how I was going to finish my to do list, and keep my sanity intact. Like a well organized adult, I got up early, and pushed through the mindless tasks ahead of me. Unfortunately, a computer program got the best of me. Now, not only was I swamped, but I couldn't perform the tasks assigned. 

Wallowing in self pity, I considered canceling my dentist appointment, haircut, and lunch plans, and hide under the covers instead. Thankfully, I diverted my attention to the third book of the Game of Thrones series, A Storm of Swords. Somehow, my bookmark was exactly where the last Game of Thrones TV episode left off. As there was no episode last week, and I have been feeling a little deprived, I latched onto the book for a good two hours. I won't spoil anything for my fellow fans, but the next episode is going to be intense!

After reading about all the death in A Storm of Swords, not only do I understand the title, but my problems seemed a little pathetic. Since I couldn't start my work again until Monday, I took the opportunity to relax and enjoy what was in front of me. I mean, at least I'm not a female character in Game of Thrones. 

Before I knew it, I was sitting on the side of Mount Tamalpais, eating almond croissants with a good friend of mine. Watching the hustle and bustle of Marin County, I remembered the crash course in failure that is my to do list. I expected my shoulders to tighten and my jaw to clench, but instead I let out a deep breath. Being forced to slow down didn't turn out all that bad after all. 


Enjoy the bread. With some earl grey tea, it is the perfect remedy for a stressful day. 

Servings: 1 loaf
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 bananas)
  • blueberries

In a medium to large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Fold in the mashed bananas and coconut flakes. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, until golden brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

This recipe is adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads (1973).



Sunday, May 26, 2013

California Eggs Benedict


The first food I learned to make, using a kitchen appliance other than the microwave, was chocolate chip cookies. My family has a ridiculous sweet tooth, and weakness to anything chocolate, and thus, if I wanted more than just one helping of desserts and sweets, I learned early on that I would have to make them myself. So in about fifth grade I taught myself the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag, and for the next four years I knew that recipe by heart. 

There was a silent agreement in our household that, if you brought home chocolate chips, I would make cookies. Unfortunately, learning how to bake cookies didn't quite solve the problem of lack of sweets in my house, because they would always be gone by morning. I would end up filling up on cookie dough, and wait to eat the actually cookies until the next day (aka breakfast), but they would have all been devoured during midnight snack time. My family never liked talking about their cookie addiction, and thus I lived most of my childhood without cookies (but I did consume amble amounts of dough). 

The next food I learned to make, other than pasta and scrambled eggs, was hollandaise sauce. When the family was all together, my dad would sometimes make eggs benedict with smoked salmon on Sundays. I would prepare the sauce, allowing my dad to finish off everything else. The way my dad taught me to make hollandaise sauce was very similar to how he taught me to drive; going on the freeway my the first day, and me freaking out at 40mph in a 65mph zone. I was instructed to add egg yolks and butter in a small sauce pan at low heat, but not to let it curdle. Of course, I had no idea what curdle meant, but I learned very quickly.

There were times when I really started to question my dad's cooking logic, as everything is always changing, and I have never once seen him use a recipe, but, in the end, there is always something amazing to eat. I mean, I really can't complain about growing up with eggs benedict with smoked salmon. However, I have no problem complaining about how he is always eating all my cookies. The funny thing is, my cooking habits are very similar to his, and I always end up making decisions on a whim.


Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1
Ingredients:

  • English muffin
  • 2 pieces of ham (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 thick slices of tomato
  • Small handful of spinach and arugula 
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon wedge
  • Olive oil & balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

This is really quite simple. While you poach the eggs, toast the english muffins and warm the ham (remove ham for a vegetarian option). Spread mustard on the english muffins and top with ham. Next add the spinach, arugula and tomatoes. Finally place the hot eggs on top, drizzle oil and vinegar on top, and garnish with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. Next time I would consider adding a side of avocado and maybe a little basil mixed in with the greens.



On a side note, I started a new batch of hard cider last week! Today I will rack the cider, removing all the dead yeast and sediment, and start secondary fermentation (hopefully). The apple juice started at a dark brown color last sunday. The juice was loaded with sugar, and has the possibility of having at least an 8% alcohol content. I am currently working on label designs, since I am going to make the effort to bottle and store this batch, instead of drinking it all right away like the last batch.


A peak inside my hutch: port glasses and spiced peach jam.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blueberry Tart

I have been singing along with Taylor Swift this week, as I turned 22 on Saturday. This part of my life is wrapping itself up rather nicely. I was able to see many of my UCD friends, and talked to a lot of people scattered across the country. It is nice to look back on all the different connections I have made, and think of all the new ones to come. 

There is a month until graduation and my trip to Peru. When I get back in July, I will be working at a winery in the central valley of Northern California. Not completely sure what my job will entail, but I will be learning the ins and outs of winemaking. Even though I am extremely excited to start this new chapter in my life, and explore career opportunities, my time in Davis cannot be replaced. I will never forget the warm nights spent eating way to much frozen yogurt with friends, or the early mornings spent fretting over homework I forgot to do. 


Total time: 20-30 minutes
Makes 4 tarts
Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of blueberries
  • 1 tbs cornstartch
  • 1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of sugar or 1/8 cup of honey
  • 1 pie crust or olive oil crust


The trick to saving time is to bake the crust first. I used traditional pre-made pie crust, but in the future I want to try an olive oil crust. The olive oil crust also eliminates any animal products from this tart. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. However, if you are not using pre-made crust, the time to make this fabulous treat will most likely increase.


While the crust is baking, combine 1/8 cup water and 1 cup of blueberries in a small pot on medium heat. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, sugar (or honey) and cornstarch, and add the contents to the boiling blueberries. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. The blueberries should burst as they are heated. 


Pour the blueberry paste into the four different crusts. Be frugal with the blueberry paste to ensure there is enough for each tart. Then top the warm blueberries with the rest of the fresh blueberries. In the end you are left with pretty much a blueberry explosion. I recommend eating this tart warm with a little cranberry ice cream. The contrast between the tart ice cream and the sweet blueberries is something you will not forget easily. 



Birthday shenanigans and lake Barresa. 





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