Dark Days Challenge: Baking Edition

We started the morning with awesome pancakes based on this recipe


The only change I made was that I substituted two egg whites whipped to stiff peaks for the one egg.  The reason is that I had two egg whites left over from a pasta carbonara dish I made earlier in the week.  

And since I was using the mixer anyway, I figured,  why not use up the old cream that I have and make butter & buttermilk?  This was the first time I’ve used a mixer for this.  Usually I (actually, J.) shake the cream by hand to make butter.  (It’s been a long time since we made butter this way…definitely not since Max was born). 

img_3038The surprising thing was that it took about as long to do it in the mixer as it takes J. to shake it and it was much harder to process the separated butter fat and buttermilk in the awkward mixer.


We ate the pancakes with a delish fuji apple from farmer’s market.  Flour: organic.  Eggs: farmer’s market: butter: homemade but from local/organic cream.  Sugar: organic.

Then we went to the farmer’s market in a nearby town.  That’s because we’re going to miss our own farmer’s market tomorrow because we’re going to the volunteer event (more on that later).  They had some different vendors which was fun.  We picked up a freshly made “take and bake” pizza made with local organic ingredients.  The pizza (including the dough) was made yesterday and has never been frozen.  We popped it in the oven after the farmer’s market and really enjoyed it.  It was a bit pricey, though.  $13 for what would be considered a small.  Ate it so fast we didn’t take a picture.  But the vendor is Uncie Ro and he is featured in this article.

I’m working on dinner as I type.  I have made pita dough and am waiting for it to rise.  We’ll be having it tonight with ground goat from our farmer’s market meat vendor. (They were out of lamb).  We’ll also have cucumber and heirloom peppers with it from the new farmer’s market. The hummus isn’t local, though. 


Since this recipe makes 8 pitas — we also picked up some pre-made but uncooked falafels and tahini at the farmer’s market (we don’t have this in ours) to have with the pitas for lunch this week.

I’ll post all the pics after dinner.

We had this with a 2003 Soquel Vinyards Reserve Cab.



Dark Days: Making Up for Lost Time

We had two weekends with rain where we didn’t make it to the farmer’s market.  As a result, many-a-meals were comprised of cabinet scroungings.  Then my nesting instincts kicked in and I felt the need to bulk up on food staples.  This translated into a meat buying spree at costco which I’m not particularly proud of.   Instead of buying cuts of meat from the friendly couple of Old Creek Ranch I bought from a faceless corporation who doesn’t disclose where the meat comes from, but I’m guessing not local.  The cashier didn’t ask me how Max was growing, or if I was feeling better than last week.  He didn’t slip a few extra avocados into my bag with a knowing wink.   So, when I saw the wife at the market today and only bought oranges and limes, but no meat, I felt like I had cheated on my hair dresser!

So, while still not where I’d like to be, today I made an effort to focus on local foods for all three meals.  Breakfast was pancakes and raspberries.  The local ingredients: raspberries, egg, butter, milk.  Yummy but forgot to take a picture.

For lunch, we had a pre-made organic pizza from a local company.

For dinner, steak with a rosemary, sage and pepper crust with balsamic roasted potatoes, garlic and onions and mixed greens.  All local but the steak (see above).

Dark Days Roasted Cauliflower Soup

It’s cold and rainy this week.  To me, that’s prime soup weather.  Last night I made a roasted cauliflower soup based on this recipe.  I added celery to the soup, and a bacon cheese toast garnish.

Cauliflower, shallots, garlic, parsley, celery all came from the farmer’s market.  Cream came from Strauss Dairy.  Stock came from my freezer (I used more stock than the recipe called for to make it more of a silky soup).   I really liked the texture of this soup.  It was less thick than I usually make cauliflower soup.  I wish I had better colored bowls to show it off.

We enjoyed it with a glass of the Trinity from Soquel Vineyards.

And I had to add a Max pic because it made me laugh.  He’s shirtless because he had spit up on 4 outfits already and he had to take a shirt timeout.

Dark Days & Vino

I totally spaced out and forgot to include pictures and references to lovely local wines we enjoy with our dinners.  (Truth be told, I’ve been out of the wine loop due to baby-happy-fun time, but I’m back, Baby!

Last night we had lamb steaks from Old Creek Ranch, fingerling potatoes and salad greens from the farmer’s market.  I topped the salad with homemade dressing made with local honey, local olive oil,  local vinegar and dijon (no local).  We enjoyed this dinner with a 2005 Cabernet from Cosentino Winery — of which I am a member.

Saturday we’re going to take Max to a winery in the Santa Cruz mountains with lots o’ grandparents’ help.

img_2576(way too tired to figure out how to reorient this picture — so tilt to your heart’s content)

Dark Days Challenge or Awesome Prison Food?

My prison sentence with the pump has been extended — another bout of  103 temps, so I’ll have to wait to wean and am confined to the house again. 

Meanwhile, my mom came over and offered to cook for us.  It’s towards the tail end of the week, so our cooking supplies were running low.  I also hadn’t had a chance to pick up anything at the local market.  This would certainly be a challenge.

My mom made this amazing dish.  All local.  Polish Sausages from the farmer’s market.  A neat looking squash, and an onion from the market.  The squash was cooked with a little bit of homemade chicken stock I had in the fridge. 

If mom wasn’t here, I’d surely have ordered a pizza.  Thanks, mom!


A Go-To Comfort Foods Meal

I know I’ve had a high concentration of crazy-new-mom posts, so here’s a recipe to vary stuff up a bit.  This meal is one of my go-to comfort foods because it’s quick, easy, and the ingredients are fairly interchangeable.

img_2404The general idea is pasta with a white sauce that is a combination of leek, sausage, mushroom and cheese.  In this picture you see a giant leek that looked too good to pass up at the farmer’s market.  If there are no good looking leeks, I also use green onions.  One could also go for spring onions.  As for sausage, I use all kinds.  Chorizo, or italian sausage, or even pre-cooked polish sausage.  Here I use dehydrated mushrooms because I bought a vat of them in a strange pregnancy nesting ritual (that’s why I use them in everything now).  Obviously, any fresh mushrooms would work nicely, too.  (Except portabella — they leak a bad color that mucks up the dish, in my opinion)

I usually cook up the leeks, and the sausage in a large skillet.  Then, on top of that mixture, I make a rue and use milk (or add cream if I have it).  Add the mushrooms.  If sauce needs more liquid, I add the mushroom water from the rehydration process — or the pasta water.  I usually add some sort of cheese towards the end — whatever I have on hand.  Parmesan? Fontina? A little white cheddar?

I cook some sort of short pasta al dente and then add the noodles into the sauce for the last minute or two of cooking.  (Add more pasta water to loosen up the mixture if it looks tight)

Then I love putting something green on top at the end.  Either parsley or green onions.  The dish is very forgiving, and that’s what I love about it.

In this case, the ingredients are all local save for the mushrooms and pasta.


When Life Gives You Grapefruits…

Both J. and I dislike grapefruits.  However, mother in law kindly brought over 4 grapefruits that came from J.’s grandfather’s neighbor’s tree.  I decided to try to find a food use for them and this is the recipe that piqued my interest: Grilled Shrimp with Grapefruit BBQ Sauce.  I stumbled upon it only after I went to the farmer’s market, so I didn’t pick up any shrimp.  Instead, J. had the idea to adapt the recipe to the flat iron steak we bought from the meat vendor.  Genius.  I think this recipe would also work nicely with eggplant (for our veggie lovin’ friends out there). 

J. made this dinner and it was fabulous.  He omitted the liquid smoke, which he calls a chemical scam.  Then he cooked up the chard in the remainder of the sauce/marinade.   Rice, chard, meat, main ingredient in the marinade — all local.

img_2436Then we gave Max his first bath at home. (Yes, it took just under 3 weeks for the cord to fall off)  After an initial protest, he was way into it.


Colorful Cooking

Last night I made stirfry.  I just love how vibrant the colors are! Chard, carrots, onion, broccoli I added to the veggies in this pic some bacon, 2/3 of a pound of cooked shrimp, and one egg.  For seasoning, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil to finish.  I thought I was making enough for a small army, but J. and I ate all but a small portion.

For the first time I used brown rice in the stirfry.  I found the key is to use a 2:1 ration of water to rice in the rice cooker (regardless of what the instructions say).

Veggies = farmer’s market

Shrimp = farmer’s market from H&H fish vendor.  If you follow that link, you’ll see a cute baby picture!  I was pregnant during the same time that his wife was pregnant, and he would give me advice about which fish to buy.

Bacon = Mill Valley address.

Rice = Lundberg Farm, local and organic.

Egg = Farmer’s market.


Feeling Human through Cooking

I recognize the importance of taking things easy after having major surgery.  Let’s face it, the last thing I want is to do something stupid and end up back in the hospital with a bunch of nurses (not to mention my family) lecturing me about taking too much stuff on.  But I’ve always known that cooking has a relaxing effect on me and today I feel like I’ve turned a psychological corner by cooking some simple meals.


A few days ago my mom had brought over parts of a honey-baked ham that they ordered for Christmas day, so we had leftovers from that.  The honebaked ham store is 2 blocks away, but I’m assuming the meat comes from much farther away — likely not local.  We had eggs (local – Glaum) with pesto jack cheese (local – Spring Hill ) and bread (local farmer’s market but has no label and can’t remember name of vendor) and strawberry jam (local – Happy Girl Kitchen Co.)  Sounds like breakfast, but after being up all night, it was actually lunch. 🙂


Mom brought over leftover pasta.  I supplemented with a homemade sauce made from polish sausage (local – Dibrova from Lodi), grape tomatoes (organic, not local), red onion (farmer’s market), dehydrated mushrooms that I rehydrated (no idea), green onion (organic, not local), parsley (organic, don’t know origin), parmesan cheese (not local or organic).

The food, simple fare, but it made me feel like my old self and for that it was utterly delicious.  (and bonus points for working down the leftovers in the fridge — always a weak point for me)

Dark Days Cop Out?

As one might imagine, being home from the hospital with new baby for 3 days doesn’t allow much in the realm of creative cooking.  Hell, I’m lucky if I get my pronouns right these days.

So, I set some more manageable goals.  I’m trying to reduce the amount of take-out food we get by allowing family members to bring us food or cook in the kitchen.   (A big step for control freak like me).  For lunch today, my mom made some excellent pork chops with leftover pasta she and my dad made the night before.  Of course, I didn’t ask if it was local, and on 2 hrs of sleep, I didn’t really care.

Last night, instead of going for Roundtable Pizza, which I probably would have done in the past, we ordered pizza from a local small business down the street and J. and one of our visitors walked there to pick it up.  Love me some Ramona’s Pizza in Palo Alto!

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