Côte Brasserie, St. Christopher’s Place, London

History sometimes finds tiny, unexpected ways to repeat itself. During a brief business trip through London this past May, LL ate his first dinner and first breakfast at Côte Brasserie. In the spirit of exploring, he wandered out on a warm Thursday evening from his tiny soundproof room at the Marriott in Grovesnor Square toward Oxford Street and Marylebone to see what there was to see. As we were fresh from a family Mr. Selfridge binge, he was happily surprised to stumbled across the store itself and texted me photos. He called from St. Christopher’s Place to tell me about this great little restaurant he’d found. From his table at Côte, he texted photos of his gnocchi and fresh mint hot tea. He thought the meal was so good that he went back for a breakfast of eggs benedict breakfast the next morning where he emailed asking me to write down the name and address so he could find it again one day. We didn’t guess that “one day” would happened a short 4 months later, and I would be with him this time, and we would wander our of our tiny soundproof room at the Marriott in Grovesnor Square on a warm Thursday evening toward Oxford Street and Marylebone to see what there was to see and take photos of the windows at Selfridge’s and then eat our first dinner and our first breakfast together at Côte Brasserie. I was totally charmed by the neighborhood, with the walk across Oxford Street, with the people and the energy, and finally with Côte. It was perfect for a jetlagged first night out. The lights were dim, the wine was cold, the food was... read more

A world of food in one city

On the recent occasion of my first-ever evening in London: I walked down a street named for the patron saint of travelers. Walked past Lebanese, Chinese, Mexican, and Turkish restaurants, past sushi and tapas and burgers, before eating French and Italian food served by a Spanish woman named Melina. I thought I’d gotten around a bit for a girl raised in the heartland. Alaska and Hawaii, Canada and Mexico, France and Italy. I thought I understood “diversity.” But London! London is in a class of its own. London showed me what “multicultural” really looks like.

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Back to my blog

I remember reading some “blogging rules” list way back when I started Life in a Skillet. The only one that stuck with me was “Never apologize for missing a post.” The reason was basically that we all have busy lives – things to do, places to go, people to see – and when it comes right down to it, no one will miss you if you miss a post. I may have taken that a bit too much to heart. I discovered that people DO notice. (Hi Mom!) Most recently my next-door neighbor stopped by and said she really loved reading Life in a Skillet, and why did I stop? Why, indeed.

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Everything Eats: Humpback Whales in the Monterey Bay

This is a humpback whale, lunge feeding less than 20 yards from shore near New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz County. The humpbacks showed up a month or so ago, following massive schools of anchovies into the Monterey Bay. I used to get a thrill seeing far-distant spouts from the beach. NEVER did I think whales would show up a stone’s throw away.

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Because an “amuse bouche” should actually be amusing

There are some things – images, tastes, sounds – that separate the forest and the trees, the dancer and the dance, the beautiful and the sublime. You stumble across them in the most unlikely moments, making every encounter with magnificence that much more magnificent.

Here is one of those things – the most “amusing” amuse bouche ever.

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Balsamic zucchini “chips” with garlic and almonds

The zucchini harvest has begun! I’m not yet regretting the 5 plants I popped in the ground planning for a summer of squash blossom quesadillas and my dream of edible flower pizza, but the season is young. No doubt in a couple of months I’ll find a monstrous zucchini or two hidden under the scarlet runner beans as in years past and have to do something drastic again.

LL thought we should try something memorable and different with our first harvested zucchini of the season and suggested we try thinly slicing and pan frying them in a little hot oil. One thing led to another – I added minced garlic and sliced green onions to the sizzling zucchini, and then, inspired by my new Almonds book, added a small handful of those nuts, roughly chopped.

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Watermelon salad for a summer BBQ

We are not a particularly Handy Family, so I was surprised when LL suggested we spend Memorial Day weekend sanding and revarnishing the kitchen cabinets. They definitely needed to be slathered with love after all these years of heavy use (18 years, really, since we built the kitchen? Wow!) And we had the time – when you live next to the beach, you tend to stay away from it on days the crowds appear. Like Memorial Day. So we enlisted the help of a Handy Friend, dug around in the shed to find the palm and detail sanders left over from a different round of remodeling, stocked up on sandpaper, and away we went.

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Caffeine and rational thought at Verve

I’ve long thought that there was very little scientific and technological progress in the Middle Ages because – seeing as water quality was dicey at best – people sat around drinking beer and hard cider all day. Nothing like a steady diet of strong mead to fuel superstition and conflict, right? It’s not by chance the Age of Enlightenment coincided with the mainstream availability of coffee. An entire continent shook off a centuries-long muddled haze and embraced the caffeine-fueled investigation of rational thought.

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Hot weather celery salad

Our fog is M.I.A. I’ve lived next to the Monterey Bay for 24 years as of this past April Fool’s Day, and I can’t remember a year in which there have been so many days with temperatures over 80 degrees here at the beach. I just checked on the Weather Underground Almanac: 15 days this calendar year so far, including 4 in January. Generally, once the air here heats to a toasty 75 or so it rises, as air is wont to do, and the void is filled by a cooler marine layer coming in from the sea. Read: fog. Climate change is the new black. My peppers and tomatoes are happy; the dog is miserable; the boy has the swimming unit in P.E. this month so is fine. It’s a dry heat, you know. I’m a native Midwesterner; there’s no room here to complain. Hot days deserve hot day meals. Here’s a Gayle’s-bakery inspired salad I made on this particular evening. Hers had shaved parmesan cheese and walnuts, but I have a spouse who shudders at the very mention of walnuts. It’s easy to improvise, and since I’ve been kind of addicted to pepitas since my San Diego trip a few years ago, they were the salty crunch of choice. And because my inspiration was moving south of the border, I added jicama and cotija. Toss with a lemon vinaigrette, and you have a perfect hot-weather meal.* Hot weather celery salad   Save Print Prep time 10 mins Total time 10 mins   Crunchy celery and jicama in a zesty vinaigrette are an excellent hot-weather meal Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: salads Serves: 4... read more

The Amazing Texas-Toast-Bacon-and-Egg-Sandwich

Kid Two still loves Texas toast but along the way has acquired a taste for paninis with egg and baby greens with a bit of cheese. It was only a matter of time before he decided to try and combine the buttery crunchiness of Texas toast with savory eggy-ness of his panini. Like all good things, it’s a bit of work, but totally worth it. You have to start by making Texas toast. When that’s finished, layer thin slices of cheese and a handful of baby greens on one side. Top with crumbled, cooked bacon and a cooked scrambled egg. Top with the second piece of toast and there you go – a tasty handful of the ultimate bacon and egg meal: It’s pretty good on a paper plate with strawberries, too:... read more

Good eats at Palo Alto’s Reposado

Kid One recently started his First Real Job at a Palo Alto Tech Company, and this was the occasion of meeting him for lunch for the first time. I wanted to choose a place in advance; downtown Palo Alto is chock-full of restaurants and did not want to waste his hour walking around and deciding. Through the magic of Google Maps, I walked around online the night before. Resposado called out to me because we all like Mexican food and I can’t resist queso fundido. I figured it would be fine, maybe even pretty good. I wasn’t counting on it being fabulous.

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One pot meal: chicken-garlic-rice

I stumbled across this recipe somewhere online last year and bookmarked it; I liked the one-pot meal aspect as well as the variation on 40 clove chicken. It’s just a fryer and rice cooked together slowly in a pot; quick, delicious, and hearty family meal.

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Macarons from La Patisserie Chouquette

Here are a few lovely photos my niece texted to me from St. Louis’s La Patisserie Chouquette. At 13, she has a good eye as well as good taste! The patisserie was started by Simone Faure, former executive pastry chef of the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans. It’s a “peanut free gluten free friendly French bakery” and was voted Best Bakery in last year’s Riverfront Times poll. It’s the place you have to check out the next time you are in the Show Me Stte. ... read more

Ahi Tartare Just Like Michael Mina

One weekend LL and I spent the weekend in San Francisco to see Kiki and Herb at the A.C.T., but the show seemed sad and we were happy so we snuck out and walked down to the St. Francis where we went to sit at the bar at the Compass Rose but it was the new Michael Mina (which is the old Michael Mina now) and we were wowed by his tuna tartare.

It was one of those astonishing dishes, prepared table side – in our case, bar side – with gorgeous pink rich ahi and crisp sweet diced pears and salty pine nuts with the zing of garlic and the heat of jalapeño held together with quail eggs. It was a dish we had to recreate.

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I'm Maggie, a food-loving, curiosity-seeking mom raising two boys, a dog, and a tankful of fish next to the beach. Welcome to my skillet!

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