It’s official; we’re firmly planted in the middle of the holiday season. The irony of the most wonderful time of the year is that we’re so busy, few of us have time to truly enjoy it. Instead of feeling calm & bright many of us feel stress and pressure. Whether it’s the need to create a magazine-ready holiday home or to find the ever-elusive Perfect Gift, it’s easy to get wrapped up (pardon the pun) in things that are less than important.
For those of us in the US, especially, the focus on the holiday season has thrust on Black Friday & the hottest deals of the moment rather than the thought behind the gift. I love to shop, don’t get me wrong, but for the past few years now I have changed my holiday perspective. No wild crowds in the mall, no extravagant presents. I buy something small and meaningful for those very close and for the kids in my life, from a local merchant or perhaps from Etsy. Then I make the rest of my gifts. Last year, I made chutney and two kinds of sugar (lavender and vanilla bean).
I have time to spend reflecting on the end of the year, and what comes next. I also have time for long walks, connecting with the people I care about, and cooking. I like the holidays this way. I spent many years, going wild in the mall, these days, for me, simple is good.
Speaking of the holidays, … get the recipe
Chocolate, it’s been used as a currency, an aphrodisiac, and a medicine. The ancient Mayans held it so dear, they took it to their tombs with them. Today, Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year. We are eating more and more dark chocolate especially because of its health benefits like high anti-oxidants and the possibility that it could lower blood pressure. Oh, and it tastes so freaking amazing.
I am thrilled to be working with Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in their Be an Intense Supporter Program. During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ghiradelli will donate $50,000 plus one dollar from each specially marked package of Intense Dark Chocolate to the National Breast Cancer Fund- up to $100,000! Like many of you, cancer has affected the lives of many of the women I love. Some, like my best friend, have beaten it, others like my mother and her dear friend Linda have lost their battles. When Ghiradelli approached me with the opportunity to help raise awareness, and do it though chocolate and wine, I knew there was no better way to celebrate these women!
This Saturday, I will host a chocolate pairing party featuring four of my favorite Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolates, some amazing wines, cocktails, and some outstanding parings both sweet and savory. You can also join in the fun with your own pairing party. Wine expert Leslie Sbroco, of Thirsty Girl and host of Bay Area Check Please, has come up with some suggestions- one … get the recipe
This post begins a series on pies, tarts, and galettes in all their many forms. Thanks to SF Food Wars for providing the inspiration to make pies and for Driscoll’s Berries for providing the blackberries you’ll see in many of these pies.
It’s a simple three letter word, yet it holds a lot of weight. For all you bakers out there, stop laughing, I’m not just making a pie weights pun. I’m serious. People both love pie and fear it. It’s everywhere right now, and is in the midst of a serious resurgence. Though it may be something we associate with small-town America grandma’s kitchen it seems the pie has been around it’s recognizable form since the 1400’s.
When you think pie, do you think apple, blueberry, cherry? I have a wholly different experience. I am a first generation American my grandmother, turned out galettes and tartes like nobody’s business, but I never tasted an American-style pie in my early childhood. The syrupy store-bought fruit pies of the 70’s and 80’s were extremely off-putting to me. Then there was “the November incident”. I ate cherry pie on the morning my brother was born. Taking advantage of the fact my parents weren’t around, I thought I could get away with dessert for breakfast (who did I think I was, Stephanie Shih?). I paid dearly, and so did the car upholstery. In fact, it paid all the way to the hospital. That’s all it took; I grew up thinking (gasp) … get the recipe
I don’t know whether to call this experiment a success or a monumental failure. Certainly, if you look at the cost, I have failed and in a rather grand fashion. If you factor in taste, put a tick back in the success column. Looks, hmm… if you like your vodka to look rather like orange juice, SCORE!, but I am guessing you do not, so, fail again. Does learning count? Is no experiment a failed experiment?
I’ll back up a bit. Christianna, my lovely friend from Burwell General Store leads 20+ food bloggers in this really cool project every month. We remake vintage recipes from a little book called All-Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground. This is the fourth swap, I’ve participated in. My past recipes involved turning an old school cake into this lemon cake with rosemary caramael, Ozarkian Taffy Apples into these sopapillas, and Grandma’s chicken stew with drop biscuits into this Thai curry.
Finding The Inspiration:
I had a bit of a hard time deciding what to do this time. I thought of doing desert gnocchi, but someone jumped on that pretty quickly, then I thought of making some sort of pan-fried breaded croquette with a sweet oozy filling, but I found myself feeling uninspired by any of those things. I thought I had settled on a homemade shake and French fries for dipping (yum). I was discussing this plan with my husband over a plate of fries and a soy gelato shake when … get the recipe
I ran into, (well, truth be told, I pulled over for) one of my favorite people to run into in The City last night. Who was it? Why it was Kai, from Nosh this. Pushing his bacon crack on the corner. He’s the best kind of pusher man out there. His crack is addictive, but not terribly harmful, and the pleasure totally lingers.
I even got to try a new confection last night, bacon rocky road with real homemade marshmallows really really to die for and everyone at my office things so too, but I am still a bacon crack purist. What is bacon crack? It’s bacon and almond filled toffee covered in chocolate. All bacon aside, it may be the finest toffee I’ve ever tasted. Get down to 20th and Valencia and buy some. Taste his hot yummy things too like a twist on homemade Frito pie with delicious chips from local favorite, Casa Sanchez or, I’m told, this weekend Green Chili Corn Chowder. Yum!
on Twitter to find out what yumminess Kai will be having for you!