Foodie Pen Pal

This month I became a part of the foodie pen pals. This is, yes, another food (blogger) community that I became a part of; it was started by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean. It is a group of bloggers (or non-bloggers) who are paired up to receive and give a foodie package and letter. This month, I was paired up with and sent goodies to Erika from MCM Mama; head on over there to see what I sent her! I got paired up with a non-blogger, Mandy, who sent me goodies from Louisiana.

Mandy sent me a little card with the package describing what was included. She sent two mini pumpkin nutella loaves, coffee from Cafe du Monde with chicory and an alligator shaped cookie cutter. She says, “Since I moved here last fall, I’ve been hoping to happen upon a gator (while in my car of course) but it has yet to happen.”  Thanks again, Mandy!

I’ll have to make some cookies soon because I now have an alligator shaped cookie cutter and a camel shaped cookie cutter. What type of cookies do you think I should bake? Maybe these funfetti cookies?

I also now want to make coffee ice cream and try making coffee bacon. Funny, I sent coffee in my package as well, thinking about all of the things you can bake with coffee. Just in case, like me, they don’t drink coffee. Now to find a way to brew coffee without a coffee maker…anyone know how? Or just find recipes that use the coffee beans/grounds. If you have any recipes you’d like to share, post them (or a link to them) in the comments!

Looking forward to using the goodies from this month and receiving new ones next month! Check back to find out what I get in June!

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I get a lot of inspiration to write this blog and make recipes from the cookbooks I read, the other blogs, and food related articles that I find online. I also want to have a weekly feature on my blog and I think this is the best way to do that. If you know this blog, you know I tried doing it before, with just links to articles, but I am older, more mature, and beyond just writing lists of article links, and onto writing more about what I am reading. (If you do a search on “links” you will find a long archive of posts like the ones I mentioned)

To start things off, I would like to tell you about some of the cookbooks I am reading that have been inspiring me lately.

  1. Baking; by James Peterson. I have mentioned this before and have shared the things I have made with this book. It is a great book full of basics and could even be used as a guide to teach yourself how to bake.
  2. Ratio; by Michael Ruhlman.I believe there is also an app for the iPhone that is related to this book. This book is a great tool to learn the basic ratios of everything including cookie dough, pie/tart dough, stocks, bread, pasta dough, and everything in-between. A great way to learn how to create your own recipes.

    Cover of

    Cover via Amazon

  3. Ruhlman’s Twenty; by Michael Rulhman. Yes, the same chef as Ratio. This is also a great tool to learn the basics of cooking and baking. It goes through twenty techniques/ingredients that are required to make just about anything you want to in the kitchen. It builds upon itself, and yes, “thinking” is chapter one, but you need to think about what you are making before you make it and add ingredients to the mix. Trust me, it makes perfect sense once you get into the rest of the book.
  4. Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Quicker Smarter Recipes; by Alice Medrich. A wonderfully smart women and beautiful and sweet. I met her at the book signing (after the bake sale) where I bought her latest book (the one I speak of) and she is simply delightful. This book is about keeping it simple. Whether you are the cook who is scared to bake, or the baker with no time to make a pie for tonight’s party, this book is for you. One bowl is all you need for most of the recipes in this book. Totally approachable from all angles.
  5. The Joy the Baker Cookbook; by Joy Wilson. This is one of my favorites. Both in blog form and in cookbook writing, Joy brings you her witty self and her greatest baked goods. She also hosts this super awesome podcast. Coffee bacon for breakfast. Carrot cake pancakes for lunch. You heard me. What?! There’s carrots in there! It’s healthy!

Those are the (top) five cookbooks I am reading/using recipes from/getting inspired by. For now. What are your favorite cookbooks right now? Let me know what you are reading in the comments!

Photo Friday!

This month, I am participating in the Photo A Day May from Fat Mum Slim. These are the photos from week four:

19. A favorite place. This is one of my favorite delis in San Francisco. It was the first deli I ate at here that really reminded me of an East Coast (Jewish) deli. My other favorite in SF is Wise Sons.

20. Something I Can’t Live Without. Babkah. More specifically, chocolate babkah. But really, I can’t live without dessert. Whether it is a cookie, slice of pie, ice cream, or a piece of chocolate, I need to have dessert everyday. Also, I wouldn’t have a career if it were not for dessert.

21. Where you stand. On the corner of 34th Ave. in San Francisco. This is not just where I stood when I took this picture, but where I currently live.

22. Pink. The ribbon and flowers from the Mother’s Day present my sister sent over here.

23. Technology. My keyboard on my MacBook. It is rare that I see someone with a computer that is not a Mac, or a phone that is not an iPhone. (of course, I do fall into the latter category)

24. Something new. These shorts are the newest addition to my wardrobe. They are lavender and I love them! I never even thought I would own a pair of shorts while living in SF, but these summer days have been warm so far, and they look great with a pair of tights, so it works in the cooler weather as well.

25. Unusual. I am cheating again with this one. The solar eclipse that happened earlier this week was certainly unusual, and while I didn’t take any pictures myself, I saw a lot of cool pictures of it and really like this one. (Picture taken from BigSurKate)

Only one more week left. I feel like I did okay with taking the pictures every day, but mostly this project made me take more pictures of life overall in this month and really pay attention to things in a different way. It was my way of posting regularly on this site and I am sad that I did not post much besides these, but I am inspired to keep posting photos on Fridays, and more regular (weekly) posts. I know I have said this before, but I have a plan in mind, and I will act on it in the coming weeks.

Photo Friday!

This month, I am participating in the Photo A Day May from Fat Mum Slim. These are the photos from week three:

14. Grass. Living in a city leads me to finding grass either in the park (there are 21 parks in SF) or, by the bases of trees on the sidewalk. This is a picture of the latter.

 

15. Love. I think love and hearts are linked. That’s why I took a picture of these heart-shaped designs on the front of this window. I actually find a lot of these in the city.

 

16. What You’re Reading. Cookbooks. Yes, I read cookbooks in the same way I read novels. Cover to cover. At least once. And, yes, I am reading more than one at the same time.

 

17. Snack. Cucumber chunks. My mom, dad, and sister can probably remember as much I can, that I always ate cucumber chunks as a snack. That’s what I called them, too. Not slices or matchsticks or pieces, but chunks. Weird, I know. But healthy. How many kids (or even adults) would just snack on cucumber?

 

18. Something I Made. I made these scones. More on that later. :)

 

 

 

Touring Around {Chocolate and Ice Cream}

I have been lucky enough to have time to do some touring around. For the first time in my life, I have seen the process of cocoa bean to chocolate bar, via the Dandelion Chocolate factory. I also spent a day touring the city with some friends tasting ice cream from 6 major ice cream shops in the city, trying to decide which has the best.

(photo courtesy of Mike)

First up was the tour of the Dandelion Chocolate factory. They showed us the process from bean to bar and everything in-between.

Next up was the ice cream tour. I organized an ice cream walking tour throughout San Francisco. It took us from Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, to Humphrey Slocombe, to Mitchell’s, to Xanath, to Bi-rite, and finally to Smitten. It was a great way to see the city and to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon!

We started the tour in Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. We were feeling ambitious about the ice cream tasting, so we ordered three flavors, which of course, led to ordering three flavors everywhere else, and tasted some other flavors along the way as well. This sounds like a lot of ice cream, but shared between four people and with all of the walking, by the end of the day, it was really an okay amount.

At Humphrey Slocombe, we tried the Seceret Breakfast, which is a bourbon ice cream with corn flakes, the Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, and the Tahitian Vanilla.

We tried Mitchell’s Strawberry and Cream, Mexican Chocolate, and Kahlua and Cream. My favorite here was the chocolate, which had just a hint of cinnamon.

Xanath was next, and since they are saffron and vanilla importers, we had to try both the Mexican and Madagascar vanilla and the saffron ice cream. We tried their coffee here, just to be able to compare to the others.

We tried Bi-Rite’s Balsamic Strawberry, Brown Sugar, and Toasted Coconut. All rich and creamy; my favorite here was the Balsamic Strawberry. I was surprised, because I normally do not like balsamic anything, but this just had a hint of it, and really just added acidity to the flavor.

Lastly, was Smitten. Smitten is known for making their ice cream with liquid nitrogen. This leads to a smoother, more dense ice cream with lots of flavor. This also means you can watch them make the ice cream and see fog swirling around. Everyone’s favorite here was the TCHO Chocolate.

The votes are in! My favorite place was Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, because they had great ice cream and homemade treats such as marshmallows and cookies and brittle that looked delicious, too. The runner up for me would be Bi-Rite, because they have good ice cream, a good variety of flavors, and their ice cream is smooth and creamy and really flavorful. Mike also chose Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous and Bi-Rite as the places that stood out to him, but would definitely go back to any of them. Rob chose the chocolate ice cream at Smitten as the best, and said, “Coffee ice cream never seemed appealing enough to get but I liked the ones we tasted.” Michele said that she also liked the chocolate from Smitten, and the Brown Sugar from Bi-Rite. She also said that she likes going to Bi-Rite on a sunny day to sit in [Dolores] park, and Mitchell’s is good for an evening outing (with people from out of town), and definitely has added Mr. and Mrs. to the list as well. Thanks again, to Michele, Rob, and Mike for coming out and spending the day tasting ice cream!

Photo Friday! (on Sunday)

This month, I am participating in the Photo A Day May from Fat Mum Slim. These are the photos from week two:
5. Bird. This one was surprisingly hard; I guess I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time for finding a bird. I finally found one in a picture at the art show I went to that night.
6. You. I just decided to take a photo of me taking a photo. Simple.
7. Someone that inspires you. This one I have to cheat on because this person is on the East coast, while I am on the West coast. I am very inspired by my sister. I have always looked up to her and learn a lot from her. This picture is from her “wedding”, a few years ago. I am proud to say that she is really married now, due to New York passing the civil rights law recently, allowing gays to marry!
8. A smell you adore. I love the smell of these spices/flavors. Cinnamon is definitely my favorite overall.
9. Something that you do everyday. While I definitely do not post/write as much as I would like to, I think about my blog everyday.
10. A favorite word. I think that “love” and “free” are two of the best four-letter words, but “Goonies” is pretty good, too, especially written into the sidewalk.
11. Kitchen. This is the kitchen of the apartment I live in right now.
12. Something that makes me happy. Ice cream! That, and a bunch of friends hanging out together tasting ice cream on a walking tour around the city on a nice, sunny day. 13. Mum. Happy Mother’s Day to all future, past, and present moms out there! :)

Photo Friday!

This month, I am participating in the Photo A Day May from Fat Mum Slim. These are the photos from week one:

  1. Peace. I chose to piece together the word peace (pun intended) from letters I found on the street. The peace sign in the background is from a goodie bag I found in a card store.
  2. Skyline. I love that I can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge from where I live.
  3. Something I Wore. I wear the watch everyday; the sunglasses when appropriate (not in the rain or in the dark), and I usually have polish on my toe nails, and right now they are gold.
  4. Fun! Local playground. I like that there are mini rock climbing walls. The playground I played on as a kid was cool because it was wooden and had metal slides, but this is pretty cool, too. :)