We’re taking an extra day to celebrate St. Valentine.
(For those of you who have never been, yes, that large bow and arrow really does exist)
We’re spending the day together away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco.
annual pillow fight in downtown SF…(I’ve never been, nor have the desire to go.)
Or, you know, taking advantage of the ease of getting reservations to places a day early.
(I just thought this last one was cute.)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This past week, I walked around my neighborhood, saw lots of great nature and enjoyed the sunshine in the beginning of February. Usually, it is cold and rainy, but lately it has been quite spring-like.
For those of you on the East coast experiencing snow storm Nemo, I hope you enjoyed these sunny nature pictures. Maybe some of you are feeling inspired to come to California?!
What I’m liking this week…
- I’ve pretty much been into this for awhile now, but brown butter. It’s easy to make, and once you have some on hand, you might find yourself putting it in/on everything. Have some plain, boring pasta? Add brown butter. Roasted veggies? Add brown butter. Seriously, you can replace the butter in any dessert recipe and it would make it better. On that note, I’ve also found that doubling the salt in almost any dessert recipe gives you good results as well. Some recipes that I’ve made recently that have brown butter in them:
- Taste What You’re Missing, by Barb Stuckey. I am not done reading it yet, but so far, I have learned (and relearned) how you taste things and thinking about the food I eat in a different way. For example, the first few chapters are broken down by the different senses, and she explains and gives examples of how you can experience these sensations through different taste tests at the end of each chapter, and one that I am a big fan of is the “Separating Taste from Smell” test, which includes pinching your nose while eating something (the typical subject of this test is jellybeans) and then, once the item is in your mouth and have started chewing, note how it tastes. Then, still chewing, unplug your nose and note the difference. This one was relearned for me as we did this test in culinary school, but I hadn’t done it again since then, and it still fascinates me. I like trying it with fresh fruit instead of jellybeans, since it has the strongest, best flavor difference.
- NPR: Ask Me Another podcast and The Moth podcast. Two very different podcasts, but both funny and entertaining in their own way. The first, Ask Me Another, is a trivia game show of a few different rounds played by contestants from the audience at their show in Brooklyn, NY as well as a round of questions (and an interview) with a celebrity guest. The Moth is a storytelling podcast, where they broadcast people’s stories about random topics. Most are funny, some are serious, and all are entertaining. This show is even coming to San Francisco, and I’ll be listening live!
Those are the highlights of what I’ve been into lately.
What about you? Any repeat flavors you’ve been into? How about a book you’re reading, a movie you’ve seen, or blog or podcast you’ve found enjoyable? Any recommendations?
It’s back! I intend to recap my week (or so) with photos every Friday. Since I’ve been “gone” for a while, this post will be longer than most. Enjoy!
We cooked a lot of dinners at home over the past few months. This includes some pasta and roasted veggies and a lot of brown butter!
and some Chinese inspired dishes: tofu & pork stir fry & spring rolls
There were, of course, many desserts involved. This included, from top to bottom, honey whole wheat muffins, S’mores pie, a cookie swap that included reverse crinkle cookies, homemade granola, a New Year’s Eve party involving decorating cookies with homemade stencils, and some pig-shaped cookies (that I’ll tell you more about soon).
Lastly, we went to Las Vegas for my birthday (in November) and ate lots of food (and drank some beer) including that bottle of Matilda and a chicken salad-salad at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant inside the MGM, some chocolate desserts at Max Brenner’s, and more chocolate (in cake form, with a macaron on top) from Jean Philippe Patisserie.
I’ve decided to broaden the “What I’m Reading Wednesday” posts to just things that I am into right now, rather than limiting myself to articles or other things I’ve read that I have found interesting.
Since it is a New Year, I’d like to start this post off with things that I’ve learned or have “improved my intelligence on” over the most recent past:
- Good food starts with good ingredients and takes time. By this I mean the literal, that you need to start with ingredients that are, well, quality. Whether this means that they are fresh, or locally grown (in your backyard or in another’s), sustainable, seasonal, or a combination of those, I believe that the ingredients you cook with need to be, for lack of a better term, real. They need to be something that was generally not altered in anyway; no added sugar or other additives, “unpronounceables”, etc. The “takes time” part of the statement, to me, means that either it took time to grow the ingredients (perhaps you grew your own basil and tomatoes for sauce) or that you took the time to make an ingredient from scratch or even that you took the time to cook at all, rather than buying take-out. That is not to say that I do not enjoy take-out or even having someone else do the cooking for me (either in a house or in restaurant) every once in a while, but just that the general idea of good food taking time and starting with good, quality ingredients. Here are a few recipes that are good examples of this that I have made (and might go into more detail about later on): Crumpets (aka English muffins), Brussels Sprouts salad, Corn and Tomato salad (may not have followed this exact recipe, but did make something similar), and Grilled Swordfish
- Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but it can get you pretty close. I have learned this in several different ways, over many years, and through many experiences, but most recently, I have realized this in the “things I do for fun” category. Take biking, for example; I recently learned how to ride a bike and have only been riding for a few months. However, I know most of you out there probably learned a young age and/or know that this is something that is taught at a young age (and that learning it as an adult can be harder than learning it as a kid). This is where the practice comes in. If I did not ride and put my mind on thinking about how to ride a bike, I would’ve never learned how or have gotten better. The same goes for many other skills that I have acquired lately. I would’ve never gotten better at climbing, or cooking, or baking for that matter. If I did not study and practice these skills, I would never learn how and I would never improve. The main thing that I learned recently though, is that no matter how much you practice, no matter how much you study, you will never be perfect at whatever it is and you can never know everything there is to know about the subject you are studying. You can come close, and certainly people have come so close that they are considered experts in their fields. But, as a chef/professor once said, “if you think that you have nothing else to learn, you might as well just quit”. So while you may call yourself a “perfectionist”, you might want to change your way of thinking just slightly because even though you might strive for perfection, you might not ever get there, and you have to be okay with that.
- Looking at something through a different perspective is important. Whether this means simply, taking a different approach to doing something, or more deeply, taking a walk in someone else’s shoes, it is important to examine the potential in any given situation. On the first, more simple understanding of this idea, of taking a different approach to something, I have learned this by way of learning how to (rock) climb. When I first started out, I took the approach of “just do it, don’t think about it”. I think that I mainly took this approach at first because of my fear of heights and I needed to just be comfortable climbing to these heights and being secure if I should fall. This was just in the very beginning. Now that I have gotten over that stage, I have started to take a different approach to learning how to climb. I have more of a strategy and more of an understanding of how to create a strategy of where to go next. I think about what I am doing more and look around for the best option that will help get me in climbing up the wall. (You could also take these lessons in climbing as a figurative way of approaching some other things in life, but that’s a another story for another time, perhaps.) As far as the more complex and deeper, more intimate way of looking at something from a different perspective, I have, and am still learning, to look at the way others might view the situation at hand. I have taken into consideration how my boyfriend might think of a situation, or how he might learn something, or even his approach on learning the same thing that I am trying to learn. (I’m not trying to be vague here, and if you want more information, let me know; I am just trying to keep this post relatively short.) I have learned that seeing things from another’s perspective is important in learning and connecting with the other person. If you want to have a better relationship with someone, whether we are talking romantically, professionally, or whatever, you need to have a basic understanding of their ideas on the subject(s) and see things from their perspective because then you can communicate with them a bit better and have better, more meaningful connections with them.
I think, if you made it this far through the post, you can see that I’ve learned a lot in the past year or so and still have a lot of learning to do. I hope you will join me on my journey and you will learn with me and that we can learn from each other. Also, a little something that might make you smile.
Reader question: What have you learned lately?