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Archive for the ‘San Diego’ Category

Whew.  And I thought the first part was ambitious!  After spending a leisurely afternoon at our local coffee shop thumbing through seed catalogs, my neighbor and I decided that we’d need more room. We’ve got to have somewhere for all those melons, squash, beans and greens to go! Behold, the progress:

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Broccoli already planted, even before we’re done.  As you can see from this picture, we’ve got quite an addition going.  Since this was taken, we’ve finished this side and have moved on to expand the garden on the far side of the pathway.  I’m quite pleased with the pathway that we created from broken pots and a few Home Depot pavers:

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The after picture is still to come – we’ve got about 3 feet left on one half of the lawn to dig, then comes the borders.  If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting much lately, this is the answer!

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I got some lovely presents for Christmas this year – the aforementioned cookbook, a beautiful necklace from my aunt and uncle, the movie Bubble Boy (I haven’t seen it yet, and my aunt thought that was unacceptable) – the list goes on. Chris gifted me with a lovely evening out – a cooking class at the new Cafe One Three in Hillcrest. It’s located in the former Indulgence Bakery space on Park Avenue, right next to Henry’s (where we stopped beforehand for a gummi worm fix – ha!). It’s a lovely little neighborhood place, and its layout with a large open kitchen lends itself to this kind of event. I had brought my camera, but due to the small group, I felt a little strange about taking pictures. I should have, because they’ve found a way to recreate that thing that makes us gather in the kitchen during a dinner party. We arrived to a beautifully set bar that overlooks the prep area. There’s something about nibbling and sipping while anticipating the dish that’s coming next, and this class was exactly that.  We were greeted with olive tapenade, pepper-rolled goat cheese, and a glass of well-matched wine.
The class, titled “Try It Healthy: Resolution Support”, was taught by Deborah Shubert. She’s a feisty broad, in the best sense of the term. She got right to it, and started preparing our first dish, a Chopped Vegetable Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette. From that lovely opener, we moved on to Grilled Lemon-Dijon Chicken Paillards and Indian Spiced Tomatoes and Greens, each accompanied by a carefully selected glass of wine and the most lovely garlic-studded crusty bread.
The staff (Deborah was flanked by the cafe’s manager and sous-chef) was lovely and very attentive – you can sense that they all are passionate about food, and just couldn’t help but participate and offer suggestions. It was fun to see them admiring one another’s skills – no trace of competition, just an honest shared passion.
We finished the meal with an interesting dessert, Roasted Grapes and Cherries topped with Greek-style Yogurt and Toasted Pistachios – I wouldn’t have picked this one off a menu, but after such a decadent evening, it hit the spot in such an interesting way. Speaking of decadence, I don’t know that this health-themed class was the best use of their talents as, like most chefs, they couldn’t help but throwing in a spoonful of butter here and there, or offering another swig of walnut oil to top your dessert. We didn’t mind – Chris chose the class purely because it was the first one offered this year, so we weren’t as interested in healthy options as we were in having a lovely evening out. Cafe One Three delivered.
Anyway, after all this blabbering – highly recommended, y’all. Great idea for a girl’s night out, a gift for a food-loving friend, or for a romantic evening. Everyone loves the kitchen.

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Fancypants Sunday

If you happen to be in San Diego this winter and you have a lady to impress, may I offer the following:

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Chris surprised me with this amazing meal last week at the Marine Room in La Jolla – you may have seen the restaurant when snorkeling at La Jolla Cove, because it’s literally sitting in the water. Every high tide this winter, they’re hosting a special weekend brunch.  The high tide provides the most beautiful perspective, as long as you can get past the fact that the place has been hit by waves that have busted through the windows (check out the pictures in the lobby).  The brunch itself was decadent without being obscene, delicious, romantic and beautiful. I felt like a fancypants queen every time the super attentive waiters came by to clear a plate or to top off my coffee and oj. We started with the seafood bar – fresh crab legs and shrimp, caviar and lox. Yum central. Moving on to the entrees (pictured here), I found my personal favorite in the Grand Marnier-flavored French Toast. Dessert was next, and we each enjoyed a bite of everything. Yeah, man. Dessert before 10am? Now we’re talking. Pace yourself – brunch is served until 10, so take your time and enjoy the view.

You’ve still got two more chances: December 22nd-23rd (for a pre-Christmas stomach-stretching exercise) or January 20th-21st (for those of you who are gearing up for a New Year’s resolution to eat more caviar. By the way, I salute you). Need more convincing? Here’s the full menu. Yowza.

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The wildfires have been raging all week here in San Diego – so many people have been evacuated, and now over 1500 homes have been destroyed.  It’s totally surreal, because even though the fires are happening all around, you’d hardly know it from where I live.  There’s the tell-tale haze in the air, and a faint smoky smell, but we’ve been spared much of the exposure here in Ocean Beach.  Even so, they keep saying that the air quality is really bad, so we’re encouraged to stay indoors and limit activity.  To avoid becoming too news-laden and freaked out, I took on a few kitchen projects.  My camera is still traveling, so no pictures this week.  You’ll have to trust me – this is good stuff.  It’s a little time consuming, so I’d save it for a lazy Sunday.  Or a hazy Wednesday, if you’re in SD.

Three Sisters Baked Beans (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

1 cup dried beans (I used Vaquero)
1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (thanks, Mom!) 
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
15-oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
4 cups winter greens (such as collards, kale, chard)

Rinse, soak and cook the beans.  Reserve the cooking liquid and add enough water to make 4 cups. 

In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups liquid, sun-dried tomatoes, chipotles and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, and then transfer tomato-chipotle mixture to food processor and process until smooth; set aside.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Add squash and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Stir in beans, hominy, molasses, tomato-chipotle puree and remaining 1 cup liquid. Cover, transfer to oven and bake 40 minutes.

Remove bean mixture from oven and stir in vinegar. Serve hot.

I ate the dish at this point and loved it.  On the reheat, though, I added some greens and it came to a whole new level – I’d recommend their addition – I bet even stirring them in after baking the beans would wilt them enough.  Yum.  Hearty and comforting, and perfect for eating in front of the tv, watching for any good news that might appear.

An addition: I received this attachment of homeopatic remedies to fire-related symptoms in an email from my massage school. Hopefully it will come in handy for some.

For acute anxiety, fear, shock or grief:
Rescue remedy drops or spray: Take under the tongue or pour into a water bottle and sip throughout the day. See dosage information on the bottle.
Rescue remedy be used together alone or together with any of the following homeopathic remedies:
Aconite 30c/200c: for any illness that arises from fright
Ignatia 30c/200c: for acute grief or loss.
Pulsatilla: for anxiety in children (or adults) who are weepy, clingy and want to be held.
Calcarea carbonica: for undue fear of calamities or natural disasters. They cannot sleep due to the fear of losing their homes or loved ones.
Phosphorous: for anxiety in open, excitable types who want to be able to help everyone and get ill seeing the suffering of others.
Natrum Muriaticum: These types are equally as sensitive to the suffering of others, especially if they see any injustice. They are more serious or closed than Phosphorous types. This is also useful for grief, especially long-standing or silent grief, where they are not able to cry, or hide their tears behind a brave face.

For sore throats from exposure to smoke:
Echinacea and goldenseal throat spray: take as directed on the bottle
Home-made ginger tea: Cut up fresh ginger root and add to water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer. Drink throughout the day. (This will also help with mucus)
Zinc or Propolis throat lozenges

Eye irritation from smoke:
Try to use goggles when outside to protect your eyes. Use saline solution to rinse your eyes. If redness continues use Euphrasia eye drops or take homeopathic Euphrasia orally. For tearing, burning eyes that feel like you’ve been peeling onions, use Allium cepa (Especially if you also have a watery, burning nasal discharge)

General advice: Smoke exposure increases your need for Vitamin C, thus I recommend increasing your intake of Vitamin C during this time. Grapefruit seed extract can help your immune system deal with the air pollution.

Information provided by Tammara Guterman, homeopathic practitioner.

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Pie Off Pics, originally uploaded by cremarie.

The Pie Off was a total success – good friends, beautiful weather, delicious pies – what else could you ask for on a labor day weekend? I haven’t quite figured flickr out yet, so to see the Pie Off pictures (with comments), click on “Pie Off Pics” above and scroll through…

I gave this one my all, but failed to bring home the blue ribbon.  As you can see from the pics, it was a killer competition!

There’s always next year!

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Pie Off ’07

How excited am I for Labor Day?

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A couple of weeks ago, on our first hot Saturday of the year, I met my friend Lynelle at an organized herb walk through Tecolote Canyon in San Diego.  It was fascinating to recognize the magnitude of plants that can be used for medicinal purposes growing all around us.  Since this day, my sight has opened up to more plants around me – on a recent bike ride, I discovered that my regular route is teeming with wild fennel!  I took some pictures and notes, but I make no guarantee as to their accuracy because I might have been a little heat-sensitive and loopy that day…

The first and probably most prolific herb we came across was horehound – our guide let us know that this can be used for a congested cough, and encouraged us to chew a bit of the leaf.  Ahem.  Not recommended.  Most of the herbs we munched were pretty bitter, in order to warn you to not ingest too much.  Plants are smart. 

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The next herb was wormwood, which, as its name suggests, is used to kill worms and parasites.  This stuff was everywhere!

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All in our community backyard, we kept strolling and came across salvia (black sage), monkey flower, golden yarrow, fennel, buckwheat, gooseberry, ragweed and the dream-inducing mugwort.  We headed down to a river bed, where the Cuyamaca Indians had gathered – they left behind some grinding stones:

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Down by the water, we saw burdock, plantain and this beautiful yerba mansa:

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I have to admit, this is about the time when I started to tune out.  I had gone on a hike earlier in the day, so when hour three started rolling around on the herb walk, I was less than charming.  I do remember seeing something called the lemonade berry tree, which sounded quite intriguing at the time!

I was tempted enough by my discoveries that I found this recipe from a master forager, and may have to give it a shot – watch out, wild fennel!

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