Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Public Baking

I am a perfectly respectable cook and baker, so why is it that when I choose to bring a baked good to a friend more often than not it’s horrible. Last night I brought a pan of brownies to a friend who had just completed his first bike race and had recently celebrated a birthday. He is still training for more grueling events so I wanted to make something that was full of good carbs and high protein. Jim had just bought three bags of coconut flour. I substituted it for the wheat flour in the recipe. Well they were awful! Maybe not the taste, but the texture was dreadful. Next time I’ll mix the flours a bit more. My husband and I took them over anyway with a six-pack of Skinny Dip beer and told him he could throw out the brownies and drink the beer. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Today’s Lunch
Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans
1/2 onion
5 carrots chopped into small pieces
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Cover the beans generously with water—about three cups—and soak overnight. Place beans, bay leaves, orange juice, cumin, thyme, cayenne and black pepper (do not add the salt—it can keep the beans from cooking properly) and add just enough water to cover the beans. Bring cooker to pressure on high heat and reduce the heat to medium low—just enough to keep up the pressure. Cook for twenty minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to drop off naturally—it takes about fifteen minutes. Add chopped onion, carrots, onion, and salt. Bring to pressure again on high heat and then remove the cooker from the burner. Allow pressure to relax naturally and enjoy! I like to eat my beans with salsa. These beans are great cold, too!

Notes: I live at altitude so I have to use a pressure cooker to get beans to cook thoroughly. If you live lower down than you can cook the beans as you normally would or you can buy canned beans and cook the veggies and herbs and add them to the beans.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Don't Eat at the Airport

Yick. I just ate the worlds worst egg and cheese panini in the San Francisco airport. After visiting the city where you simply can’t get a bad meal this is not a fitting end. San Francisco is foodie heaven. The best meal from the past week is a toss up between a lunch of cold spring onion and fennel soup topped with feta and walnuts at The Ferry Building that hosts one of the nation’s best farmers’ markets or a breakfast of crab macaroni and cheese at the Pergamino Café—they also make killer pancakes. At the Pergamino I got my I got my best tip on thrift stores (west side of the Mission District) from Maynard the restaurants hustler .
I was in San Francisco to attend the Maker Faire and to help my mom celebrate her 60th. We did find some time to do more than eat, but only to work up an appetite between meals. MoMA was closed when we stopped by across the street we found a really great Crumb exhibit included his painted spools and large scale works of Mr. Natural. We rode the ubiquitous cable car, tromped down the world’s curviest road, took a ferry around the bay, cruised Chinatown for trinkets, shopped for books in Little Italy, had a power lunch in the Financial District, watched the lea lions at Fisherman’s Warf, went thrift shopping in the Mission district, hiked Telegraph Hill, got a pedicure and a haircut in Nob Hill, and was in bed by nine each night. Not a bad way to live.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Before There was Martha

Last night’s Masterpiece Theatre aired “The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton.” How could I have not known about this woman! She invented the modern recipe format. Isabella Mary Beeton was a no nonsense Victorian woman who married a for love. Mr. Beeton a visionary publisher believed in making how-to magazines and books available to the masses (sound familiar). Isabella contributed a column or to Mr. Beeton’s The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, scandalizing her family by going into work every day. She authored the monumental work Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which presented hundreds of recipes for the masses. Isabella was not much of a cook, but she painstakingly tested recipes sent in by readers of the magazine. What an extraordinary woman. Now I wonder if she has a crafty side…

Monday, May 14, 2007


The Best of What's Around

Two states, five counties, and seven cities later I finally had to abandon my Craig’s List dream of a yard. The idea of using all the stuff I can scrounge on Craig’s List to landscape has been dashed by the realities of time. I have been saving toward landscaping this summer so I have a bit of money, but between travel and work I have no time. I got practical and ordered eight yards of top soil to build a burm in which to plant the xeriscape plants I bought via the City at wholesale prices. I did pay for my decision; the landscaping company dumped the dirt literally in the middle of the road creating a traffic hazard that I had to take care of one shovel full at a time. They said help was on the way, but it never showed.

Anyway back to the trip. I roared through the states of Maryland and Virginia for both work and pleasure. Work took me to Maryland Sheep and Wool the largest sheep show in the county where I enjoyed lamb sausage and large glasses of ice tea. My colleagues and I had our annual meal at May’s in Fredric Maryland where we feasted on lovely lump meat crab cakes with a side of giddiness that always accompanies a day at the show and gathering of friends. We met with one of the grand dames of weaving and her adorable husband for cocktails in Baltimore and then were led to a dive to eat when my traveling companion asked a homeless person for advise. In Charlottesville, Virginia, my hometown, I collapsed at a childhood friend’s apartment situated conveniently over a wine shop where we could scurry down the back stairs and grab a bottle of locally produced wine, fresh baked bread, and sheep’s milk cheese for snacking. While in the area I visited my god donkeys and their caretaker Ginger and gathered eggs from her neighbor’s farm, enjoyed a spinach pate with a high school friend, and ate a nostalgic dinner of grilled chicken, corn one the cob, and green beans with family while reminiscing about the 1,500 chocolate chip cookies we used to bake for the Messiah Sing-In. In Richmond, I visited my sister where we roamed the thrift stores and ate Thai food before pressing onto the Shenandoah Valley to spend a few hours with my mother eating fried chicken and spinach fresh from the garden. It is not with total regret that I gaze at my lump of commercial dirt and realize that one has to be flexible.

Today’s Lunch
Springtime Fettuccine

4 oz fettuccine
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 cup of peas (frozen or fresh)
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan

Cook fettuccine according to instruction on the package. In a large skillet, melt oil on medium heat and add onion. Cook until the onions are translucent, about three minutes, and add, bazil, salt and pepper, squash, and peas. Cover and cook for about ten minutes until the squash is tender. Toss with fettuccine and top with parmesan.

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