2013, 07/07 – Heather

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Thank you Kristen for Catching Up and taking beautiful photos of the past week’s meals.  

The past few days in my world have been a bit nutty.  First, it was my birthday, then it was the 4th of July and we threw a dinner party for 21 people, during this time there was a BART strike – which resulted in everyone being on extended holiday Friday, which was a good coincidence because for half the day Comcast internet was down, which meant nobody could really get any work done anyway.  By the end of Friday the internet was back up, the BART was back on track, and all seemed back to normal. . .until Saturday morning when a jetliner crashed at the San Francisco Airport.  What does any of this have to do with what I ate for dinner?  I don’t know but it has a lot to do with why I haven’t posted with regularity lately, because nothing has been normal.

Yesterday I spent most of the day finishing cleaning up from the 4th of July Dinner Party Extravaganza.  We have been nibbling on Charlie’s remains for days.  At the end of the day cooking seemed like taking 20-steps backward, so we opted to go to TOAST for dinner.  Of all the delicious dishes the white sea bass with miso cucumber dressing was most exciting to me.  

Friday night we took the girls to see “Despicable Me 2” in 3D, which had Olivia in stitches.   For dinner they ate popcorn and we ate leftover Charlie with a sides of spinach and tomatoes, totally GF and Paleo.  Here are some pics for fun.  I included a pic of the 4th of july dessert.  Blueberries, Strawberries dressed in lime and mint with a pinch of sugar and whipped cream.  Red, White and Blue, not to mention GF.  

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2013, 7/5 – Kristen

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Catching Up

Ack!  I so fell off the blog bandwagon.  Sorry.

Let’s test my memory, shall we?

Last night:

Grilled organic/grass fed onglet steak, grilled asparagus with lemon, sliced heirloom tomatoes, and arugula tossed with olive oil, lemon, and kosher salt.

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4th of July:

Dinner at Heather’s with a group of lovely people.  She made the best salmon I have ever had.  I think preparing it involved a magic wand.  Sides were various salads brought by the guests.  I brought a salad that consisted of Trader Joe’s power greens (baby kale, arugula, & chard), nicoise olives, cubed organic peaches (both white and yellow), sliced bresaola, and a shallot/balsamic vinaigrette.  Here is the salmon.  Her kids named him Charlie.

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I’d tell you more about the other salads, but Heather’s husband makes very strong margaritas and I don’t remember much.

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Wednesday:

Some friends came for dinner and I repeated the Gluten Free bahn mi.  (One thing you’ll find about me is that I get on a kick and will make something over and over until we are all tired of it.  Apologies in advance.)  This time, for the side, I made a KILLER recipe out of Gwyneth*’s new cook book (Lee’s Chopped Vietnamese Salad – page 58).  It had napa cabbage, chopped baby bok choy, cucumbers, carrots, herbs, peanuts, thai chili, and a lime juice/shallot/honey/garlic dressing.  I will probably make this again and again and again.  Again, apologies for the repetition.

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Tuesday:

Heather’s Birthay!  (Happy birthday BFF!!)  We went to dinner at a new place in downtown Oakland with our dear friends Emma & Michael and Jon & Cathy.  The jury is still out on what we thought of the restaurant – it was very meat heavy, but they were SUPER helpful with determining what had gluten in it and what didn’t.  We shared many dishes and they were good, if not a little forgettable.  Emma, what did you think?  The below was NOT gluten-free, but according to everyone at the table quite delicious.   Goat cheese toast, grilled sweet corn, cherry tomatoes.  I plan to make my own GF version of this dish soon.

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Monday:

Heather & Sam (and the girls) came over so we could have a “board meeting”.  I attempted to make my signature dish from my college years.  Ceviche.  It’s modeled after the ceviche I enjoyed in Ecuador (which is in a ketchup based sauce) with modern California additions.  It’s a complete bastardization and was pretty, but not quite as tasty as I wanted it to be.  I’ll keep working on it and get back to y’all with the recipe once I’ve figured it out.

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Sunday:

This day we took the boys and one of our dogs to the beach to play for the day.  It was supposed to be 97 at the beach, but ended up being only 62.  We froze our buns off, but had so much fun.  Dinner was a stop at Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station.  I had a bun-less goat burger (they keep the buns and the meat separate on the grill and don’t use the same spatula – they really knew the drill!) topped with chevre and sauteed shiitake mushrooms.  It was outstanding – especially with the Sean Thackery Pleiades wine.  Highly recommended.

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Phew!  I think I’m caught up now.  I’ll try to be better about keeping up!

* Dear Gwyneth,

I’m sorry I was ranting about you the other day.  I really love your new cookbook and would love to come over and cook/eat with you anytime.  Drop me a line……

2013 7/3 – Heather

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Soup

I love soup.  I love it for breakfast.  I love it for lunch.  I love it for dinner.

Last night I made consomme with the chicken broth left over from the poached chicken you saw in the last post.  The broth was light, clear and beautiful.  So delicate.  I added summer squash, red and white onion, garlic, cubed raw chicken breast, then brought it to a boil.  At the last minute finished it with spinach leaves.  I have to say the flavor of the summer squash with the delicate chicken broth was devine.  I’m definitely making this again and again.

Of course I served a salad with the soup:  little gems, tomatoes, peppadew peppers, and a dressing made of mayo, sour cream, garlic, hot sauce, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Sam loved all of it.

2013 06/30 – Heather

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Poached Chicken Salad

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Or, for our Puerto Rican guests, Ensalada con pollo.  We had special friend from Puerto Rico join us for dinner last night.  I thought it was going to be a scorcher so planned a cool entree.  I poached chicken in the morning and pulled it in the afternoon.  It was quick and easy to assemble dinner.  The pulled chicken was tossed with grated ginger, mint, scallions, mirin, lime juice, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and served it on a bed of lettuce similarly dressed.  On the side I lined up slices of tomato which were drizzled with a simple spicy aioli.  Bread was served for those who can eat it. For dessert I mixed sliced strawberries, blueberries and  mint with lime juice and a smidge of sugar.  I let this settle in while we ate.  Then made a whipped cream with cream, sour cream and vanilla.  The berries and cream vanished. Hopefully summer won’t leave us so quickly!

SUMMER BLISS!

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2013, 06/29 – Heather

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Out to Dinner with Friends and Chickens

Friday night we dinned at the home of some friends who live in San Rafael.  They, like us, have chickens in their back yard, so we discussed all the possible ways to stop a brooding chicken.  I had recently dealt with one stubborn hen and finally just locked her and the rest of her feathered friends out of the coop, which sadly resulted in one of her flock becoming dinner – probably a raccoon.  We all miss Red and her brown eggs.  RIP Red.

Anyway, our friend is using a novel brood breaking technique-ducking her hen in her swimming pool to lower her body temp and hopefully *()$&*($ up her hormones so she stops her broody nonsense.  So far, not so good.  I’ll keep all you chicken farmers up to date as results come in.

Dinner was great.  Jumbalaya.  I ate it without rice.  Cheese and crackers.  I choose carrot sticks over crackers.  Dungeness crab dip on toasts.  I tried to eat the dip with carrot sticks.  Not totally graceful, but damn that stuff was tasty.

The highlight of the evening was playing a game called Wise and Otherwise.  Try it.  You’ll like it.  

2013, 6/29- Kristen

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O-Caramba (aye caramba!)

As latch-key kids, my sister and I had plenty of time to come up with all sorts of ways to occupy our afternoons once the school bus dropped us off.  Sometimes it was tuning the rabbit ears just so on the TV so we could pick up NBC and watch Days of Our Lives (we were SUCH rebels, but we were still sure to turn the TV off at least 30 minutes before my folks were due home to give the TV time to cool off).  Sometimes, however, we would turn our house into a restaurant for our parents.  On occasion, we would even put a sign outside saying, “no dress, no tie, no service” and we would expect our parents to go upstairs and get dressed for dinner before coming down to dine at our restaurant.  Our menus and protocols got more and more complicated.  Funnily enough, we were usually out of most of the things on the menu and would only have one dish left for them to order (which, coincidentally was typically made by stauffers AND the most expensive thing on the menu). My parents were such good sports and those restaurant nights remain one of my most fond childhood memories.

Anyway, I guess I musst have talked about it once or twice (or a thousand times) to the boys when reminiscing about my childhood because they announced earlier this week that they wanted to do “restaurant night” and wrote up the preliminary menu I shared a few days ago.

With a little luck, I was able to sway the final menu a little more in the direction of what we had on hand that night, but I gave them carte blanche to decide the name of the restaurant (O-Caramba) &  the menu format.  They decided that the younger would be the chef, the elder the server, and that we would not be allowed in the kitchen at all (once we finished preparing all the dishes for them).  The sat us at the table outside, took our orders, served out the food, poured some wine (violating a few Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, I know), and explained the meal to us.  It was darling, delicious, and no doubt the first of many, many restaurant nights in my hubby and my futures.

Only problem was that the bill was quite hefty and my hubby and I didn’t have enough cash to cover it, so we had to do the dishes at the end of the night.
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(That’s a gluten free rice & quinoa pasta I found at Berkeley Bowl.  It has a very nice mouth feel.  Hooray!)

2013, 06/28 – Heather

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Out to Dinner Celebrating the Legalization of Gay Marriage in California

Kristen and I were out to dinner with our husbands and our friends Emma and Michael, two of the blondest, kindest, and all over superest people you may ever meet.  While we had dinner plans for some time and weren’t out to actually celebrate the legalization of gay marriage in California, I am taking poetic license and suggesting we did because 1.  I know in our hearts we were all celebrating this long overdue change, and 2.  because when I’m 106 years old and looking back over this blog it might be fun to remember what we did on this momentous day.

What we did:  the six of us dropped our 6 children off with some lovely caretakers at the Alameda High School Auditorium to watch what we thought was a musical rendition of the Lion King, but upon picking them up it looked more like a dance recital gone wild.  I won’t say more because I was raised to never say anything that isn’t kind.

While the children were subjected to a dizzying array of multi colored leotards accentuated with fur made from polyurethane, we 6 adults waltzed down the street to a recently reopened restaurant named American Oak.  The highlight of our experience was the lighting fixtures made by our friend Emily Winston, and finding the grenache rose from Tessier Winery mentioned a few posts back – what a coincidence!  😉

Anyway, the evening finished up at the Hobnob, a dive bar sort of place with, again biting my tongue to avoid saying anything unkind.

All in all I just want to say “WOOOOO HA!” because I can now be proud to live in a state that treats all grown-ups equally as far as marriage goes.  Before I was just plain embarrassed to be human – but now I know there is hope for this world.  

 

2013, 6/28 – Kristen

WARNING:  Ranting Ahead Regarding Restaurants & Gluten Free(ness)

I love it when I tell a server that I have celiac disease and must eat gluten free.  Nine times out of ten they look at me as if I’ve just told them that I am from the planet Zorba and only eat turquoise foods.  And then I commence the question asking and I almost always discover a source of gluten the server didn’t know about.  Meat grilled on the same grill as buns.  Soy sauce.  Breadcrumbs (duh!).  Things fried in oil that also has breaded things fried in it.  Salads tossed in the same bowl as pasta salads.  It’s enough to drive a gal crazy.

So, happily, we had a sitter last night and hit the town with Heather (who is eating a modified paleo diet now and is, therefore, also eating gluten free), her hubby, and our good friends E & M.  The restaurant we hit was not our favorite (though they did have a pretty stellar whiskey selection).  When I called ahead to make sure they could accommodate me, they delivered my most favorite celiac/restaurant line.  “Oh.” they said, “You’re gluten-free… okay, you can eat the salmon, and the salads, and the burger without the bun, and if it’s not a severe allergy, you can have the mussels.”  I stopped her there and said, “it’s not a severe allergy.  It’s worse than a severe allergy – it’s a DISEASE.  Celiac DISEASE.  Genetic autoimmune DISEASE.”

I don’t want to be a jerk and I hate coming across as “that allergy person”.  And I hate when people reference Gwyneth Paltrow to me when I say I must eat gluten free (though I actually really like her, am jealous of her hair/body/tshirts/skin, and I’ve heard her new cookbook is pretty great).  It’s not a fad, it’s not a diet, it’s a disease.  It’s a medical condition people.

So, as I’ve mentioned, Heather and I own a restaurant and try though I might, I fear that even our staff fails to understand gluten issues.  Why?  They don’t care.  That’s not to say they are callous, mean, lazy, or whatnot.  It’s just that they don’t have to live with it, can’t understand what the big deal is, and are really, really busy when they are on the floor of a restaurant.  Though they’ve all seen me with the angry rash across my face (and I make a point to go into the kitchen and lecture them when I have been contaminated somewhere and have the rash so they can see the visible effects), I think that most people just think that celiac is a fad diet.  I blame Gwyneth for that.  At the same time, I thank her a little bit because at least now most people know what gluten is.  I am so conflicted. 

*sigh*

Anyway, last night’s restaurant wasn’t the best (I’d rave about it here if I thought it was good), but the salad I ate was very refreshing in last night’s heat.  It was pretty 90s, but the flavors came together well and, hey, some cool things came out of the 90s…. like Harry Connick Jr., Carmen Sandiego, and Before Sunrise.

Watermelon rings layered with goat cheese.  Topped with arugula, jalapeños, vinegar + pepper. 

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2013, 06/27 – Heather

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The Accidental Cave Girl Dinner

I have discovered that if you remove wine from most of my dinners two things will happen:

  1. I will die of longing.
  2. The dinner has a strong chance of adhering to the Paleo diet.

So I have decided to do two things:

  1. Keep drinking wine – the staff of life in my household
  2. Tag all my meals that are Paleo friendly for people who might be on this diet.

Just to clear things up I am not on the Paleo diet.  I am on the Heather wants to eat raw plant matter so is experimenting by removing all grains and legumes from her diet to see if this will do the trick. So far so good.   In keeping with the Heather diet on Thursday for dinner I made a simple mélange of summer squash sautéed in olive oil with shallots.  And, because they were soooo good the night before, I used up the remaining figs and prosciutto and presto, we had the same dish as the night before. For all you Paleo peeps this is a good one which I have to admit is adapted or perhaps simply pilfered from watching Kristen make a similar dish about a 10 years ago.

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Basalmic Glaze  

12 Ripe Figs (I used Black Mission)

12 Pieces of Prosciutto

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Makes 24

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  I use mini-muffin pans to cook the figs in.  If you don’t have two mini-muffin pans, put them on your shopping list and use your regular muffin pans this time.  Rub a smidge of olive oil in the bottom of each muffin cup. Cut the figs in half top to bottom.  Use scissors to cut the prosciutto in half the long way, resulting in two long ribbons.  Wrap each fig half with one prosciutto ribbon and place in one muffin cup.  Continue with the remaining 23 halves.   Drizzle each fig with your best balsamic.   A little dab will do ya.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  They are molten right out of the oven. Image

2013 6/26 – Heather

First Dinner Party of the Season

Wednesday we had a mid-summer’s week dinner with friends and family.  This flower pot of cherries disappeared at light speed:

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We also enjoyed short ribs braised all day, a traditional caprese salad, a delicious salad brought by a guest which had romaine, dates, almonds and feta, as well as figs wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with balsamic and roasted until slightly crispy.  yummmmmmie.

The highlights of the evening:  I ate tomatoes with absolutely no allergic reaction AND 4 young ladies performed a fashion show demonstrating the true glamour of pop beads.  Dazzling all around.