Feeding the Spirit at Soif

I discovered Soif Wine Bar & Merchants at the end of one of Those Weeks. Kid One was too sick to go to school, but well enough to want to make things. Like marble-and-wire wizard rings and dried apple mandrake heads from a wizard how-to book Grandma got him for his last birthday. Kid Two was sick, too, but well enough to rub clay-dough into the rug and blame it on his brother. Errands and chores multiplied at dizzying speed; on top of the usual dry cleaning, shoes needed repair, and the broken washing machine wouldn’t be fixed for a week.

Riva House Reminiscences

Every family needs a dependable, kid-friendly restaurant, one with enough of a variety of menu items to interest the adults and familiar enough for children. Ours was Riva House. Our family Riva House tradition goes back to when LL and I were dating, and we would stop in for spring rolls, clam chowder and a glass of wine at the bar to visit with a friend who worked there.

Reinventing the Crepe

I had lunch at The Crepe Place with a friend who has been doing a great deal of her own cooking lately. She has been busy reinventing the “comfort food” of her childhood into dishes that are, well, healthier. We started with a pot of chai at one of the small tables against the wall in the back room, and she told me about her latest meal reincarnations. Hamburger Helper evolved into turkey sausage with brown rice and peas.

A t-shirt speaks a thousand words

A t-shirt speaks a thousand words

Change comes slowly, as I realized when I wandered into the gift shop at the Missouri History Museum after checking out the Little Black Dress exhibit. I came face with the demolished relics of my past … as souvenir t-shirts. Seriously. Talk about taking a walk with the Ghost of Christmas Past. My specter took me on a food episode.

Vintage KFC bucket sign, San Jose

Vintage KFC bucket sign, San Jose

Now that Kid One is living in San Jose, I have a good reason for heading “over the hill” more than once in a blue moon. One thing I’ve discovered is that San Jose has done a great job preserving historic signs. I posted this one from mStephen’s Meat Products a while back. Here’s one near Kid One’s flat – an old Colonel Sanders bucket marking a KFC and Taco Bell next to Zanotto’s Market near the Rose Garden. I love it for the food history preserved here.

Special sh#% holiday gift shopping

Special sh#% holiday gift shopping

I saw these bottles and thought it was TOTAL GENIUS marketing. A Texas company called Special Sh$% is making all sorts of seasonings and gift packs, just in case you – or a close frenemy – need a little bit of  savory sh&^ in your life. (Or your kitchen.) I can’t speak for the quality of the ingredients, at 12.95/bottle, I’ll wait for someone to give me a jar of my own some...
Côte Brasserie, St. Christopher’s Place, London

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.

A world of food in one city

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.

Everything Eats: Humpback Whales in the Monterey Bay

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.

Because an “amuse bouche” should actually be amusing

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.

Watermelon salad for a summer BBQ

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.

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

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:...
One pot meal: chicken-garlic-rice

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.

Scrambled Eggs and Waffle Fries

We’ve been enjoying Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show so much this week! He even holds Kid Two’s attention, and my 15-year old cultural critic is a tough nut to crack. And those suits!  His Late Show was never on my radar – WAY past my bedtime. So even though I’d occasionally catch online clips, I never did appreciate how very creative, polished, and entertaining he is. I’m a fan. I always take note when a song talks about food in some way, so I perked up at a mention in Vanity Fair that Fallon knew that Paul McCartney used “scrambled eggs” and a placeholder for “yesterday” when he wrote the song. Too tempting. He got McCartney to agreed to appear as a guest AND showed him a new verse about “waffle fries” to convince him to perform the piece. They perform it completely straight. Awesome. embedded by Embedded Video  ...
Cook The Books Club Winner!

Cook The Books Club Winner!

Last week Deb from Kahakai Kitchen contacted me asking if I’d guest judge their Cook The Books Club contest for the book “Baking Cakes in Kigali.” Well – yes! The Cook The Books Club is a bimonthly book club and blog event in which the hosts, along with any other interested person, reads a predetermined food-related book, blogs her thoughts, and prepares a dish inspired by the book. Fun! Here are my responses to the thoughtful and inspiring blog posts that were submitted, and congratulations to the winner Camilla from Culinary Adventures With Camilla. Thank you for inviting me to play! I plan to join you next time for Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens....
How to Prepare a Christmas Dinner Party

How to Prepare a Christmas Dinner Party

Holiday dinner 101 for novices So you’ve bought all the presents, the Xbox Ones and iPads for your closest friends and family, and maybe a Rolex Cosmograph for someone really special. You’ve sent out Christmas cards to everyone else, and it would seem like your holiday obligations are done. That said, Christmas isn’t about “obligations” at all, but rather about spending time with the people you care about. One of the best ways to do that is to hold an intimate Christmas dinner party for you and your loved ones. Throwing a dinner party isn’t as daunting as some people make it out to be. Even if you’re a beginner, as long as you have things all planned out, and as long as you keep preparations within realistic expectations, hosting a great yuletide meal shouldn’t prove too hard a task. The first – and probably most important – thing to do is to know who you want to invite and what their food preferences are; this information will be the basis of your dinner. Take note of which things your guests love to eat, and more importantly, which things they can’t eat due to health or dieting reasons. As far as the number of guests goes, a good rule of thumb is to keep it at five people or less, otherwise the intimate atmosphere might get lost. Next comes the menu planning. Using the information gathered from the step above, plan out the courses of the evening, from appetizers to the main dish to desert. For the novice host, try and keep the meal simple. Also, make sure that the recipes are...