San Francisco

oysterfest 2016

Posted on April 3, 2016

Oh hi, how are you? It’s been a while. We’ve been grooving hardcore in our Northern California lifestyle. Answering those emails, building those websites, grading those exams, running those participants, and then 7:30pm/the weekend hits and it’s pure San Francisco magic. Making dumplings and sausages and paintings, doing yoga, relaxing in the park, strolling the neighborhood with a hound who’s miraculously back to her peppy 2011 self after surgery to remove glass from her paw, eating lots of foods with lots of friends. It’s a damn good life.

Now if you happen to find yourself in Northern California on sunny weekend not unlike the ones we’ve been having lately, and want to feel those good vibes that make California the greatest state in the nation, I’ve got a perfect plan for you. Go buy yourself 200 oysters for $200, drive a few miles down the road, sit on a beach and eat all of them. Works best if you have some good friends to go along with you, but I imagine you’d still have a decent time if it was just you and your shucker.

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Things you’ll need: 
– Oysters (get them fresh from the source at Tomales Bay Oyster Company)
– Ice (the boys at TBOC have got you covered)
A shucker
– Lemons and/or hot sauce and/or mignonette
– Beer and/or wine
– Bread
Cheese
– Plaid shirt
– Bocce set (optional)

The next part is easy. Sit on the beach, bask in the sunshine and eat oysters until the fog rolls in. You’ve never had a better Saturday, at least not one you can remember. That oyster-high, it’s unbeatable.

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Be back soon with dumpling recipes. We’ve been experimenting and it’s starting to get real good.

oysterfest

Posted on May 19, 2015

This past Sunday we partook in the immense gustatory pleasure that is Oysterfest. Our fourth annual, Oysterfest is a celebration of shellfish, overeating and friendship. We get together with some of our dearest friends to shuck and share upwards of 160 oysters. Throw in a cheese plate, fresh focaccia, cole slaw, pigs in a blanket, homebrew IPA on tap, several well-timed “shuck it” jokes and a view of Sutro Tower perched over the Mission, and it really feels like you’ve made it.

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Now if I was on top of my blogger game, I would have a recipe for homemade pigs in a blanket—I am marrying an aspiring sausage artisan after all. But instead of dutifully obsessing over brioche dough on Saturday, I went sailing. I ate cheese and salami on a boat in the San Francisco Bay while drinking champagne out of a pink dixie cup with a penis-shaped straw. I performed terribly in a series of questions about my betrothed, took the helm for all of 5 minutes before my nerves got the best of me, and basked in the glow of nine beautiful, hilarious ladies. Back-to-back days of great food in picturesque settings with tremendous company, I am a fortunate woman.

And so without further ado, I give you the culinary crowd-pleaser, pigs in a blanket. All of the ingredients are happily waiting at your favorite grocery store, and you can throw these babies together in minutes. Not wanting to be known for a dearth of useful information, there are also directions to purchase raw oysters, if and only if you’re located in the Bay Area.

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Pigs in a Blanket
1 package all beef hot dogs, cut in half
2 packages crescent rolls

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Open your package of hot dogs and cut them in half. Open your crescent rolls. Wrap the rolls around the dogs and place them on a cookie sheet with about an inch between each one. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown.

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Oysters
If you happen to have a group of friends similarly dedicated to the celebration of oysters and live in the Bay Area, it is easy (and surprisingly affordable) to secure a few bushels of oysters for your enjoyment at the Alemany Farmer’s Market from Point Reyes Oyster Company. Throw your bushels of oysters in a cooler, pour a few bags of ice on top, and get ready to shuck.

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Ps. Oysterfest 2014Oysterfest 2013, and how to shuck an oyster (it’s all about that hinge).

-Emily

tomato sauce, chicken broth and wedding plans

Saturday was the first weekend day I’d spent at home in a month—October really was an exceptionally busy month.  I took the day to catch up on home things, which mostly meant clearing 20 pounds of tomatoes and three chicken carcasses out of my freezer. Glamorous.

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While my sauce and stock were simmering, I started a new weaving. I’ve been pretty into this small-scale textile art lately. Like cooking, it requires just enough effort and concentration to occupy my mind, but not so much that it’s no longer is relaxing. On top of that, the states are low. If you make a mistake, grab a pair of scissors and you start again. Low stakes, moderate concentration, repetitive movements, reruns of Archer in the background—ideal hobby characteristics in my opinion.

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We’ve also began to really put our minds to planning this whole wedding thing. My mom has been a tremendous help so far, taking most of the dull tasks off my plate, like booking hotels and shuttle buses and tables and chairs, and leaving me with the fun stuff, invitations, food, flowers, photgrapher. It’s a pretty lucky setup.

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The more things we plan, the more real it gets. I’ve got our Save the Date cards mocked up, and Jordan’s favorite of those attempts is sitting on our kitchen table. Every time I look at it, I think, we’re really doing this thing, aren’t we?

Even though we’ve been together for ages, marriage still feels like a big step. I have no doubts it’s the right one, but hitching your wagon to someone else’s forever, it’s hard to imagine that not feeling pretty huge, even when you know it’s exactly right.

-Emily

Ps. Tomato Sauce Recipe & Canning Instructions, and Chicken Stock Recipe.

 

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off to a wedding!

Posted on October 9, 2014

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This Saturday, my cousin Katie is getting married, starting a new chapter with the man who is her perfect compliment. And as a fringe benefit of celebrating their love, I get to spend three whole days off in a row with mine! I’m feeling so much excitement going into this weekend, most especially to celebrate Katie and Scott, but also to see our family and get our groove on on that dance floor. Jordan on the dance floor is one of my favorite things. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend.

Mostly this is to say, since I’m not making the cake for this wedding, the recipe blogging will be sparse for a week or two while we celebrate (and recover from said celebration). I hope you have a beautiful few weeks. Tell someone special you love ’em, and tell them why. You can never do that enough.

Xo, Emily

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churros with whiskey sauce and peach compote

Tonight I’m sitting at my kitchen table waiting for Jordan to come home from school and waiting for my oven to preheat. The sound of a neighbor’s Billy Holiday record is wafting in through the open window, the smell of cooking tomato sauce along with it. I can hear the occasional clink of a spoon against a pot when the noise of traffic pauses in time to the lights. Every 20 minutes or so the robotic voice of a bus drones “2 Clement to Presidio Avenue” as it pulls away from the curb, then the Billy Holiday drifts back in.churros-2

We’re back into our usual school rhythm, Jordan teaching and working in the lab,  and working at the record store on his days off from school. It’s busy, and we don’t see as much of each other as we’d like, but it’s also familiar, more or less the pace of life since we moved here. It’s strange to feel the changing of the seasons so specifically when the temperature always seems to hover around 65°, but here we are, entering into our fourth fall in San Francisco. I’m feeling pretty good about this one.

This dessert is a perfect transition between summer and fall. You’ve got the last of summer’s peaches, paired with the warm comfort of cinnamon and whiskey. Plus fried dough. Fried dough is always in season. Churros are deceptively simple to make, far easier than doughnuts in my first-timers opinion, but they push all the same delicious buttons. Churros are no longer relegated to carnival treat in this house. So here’s to end of one season and the start of another, I’ll toast you with a churro, or three.

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Churros with Whiskey Sauce and Peach Compote
For the churros, adapted from The Other Side of the Tortilla
1 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a dash of ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 liter of neutral, high heat oil (safflower, sunflower, canola)

To dust the churros
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bring water, butter, brown sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove the water mixture from the heat and add in the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the vanilla and stir again. Then add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. It will be a brief, but strenuous arm workout. Let the dough cool a bit.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy pot, like a dutch oven. Put it over medium low heat and let the oil come up to temperature, about 350 F.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels and top with a cooling rack. Mix the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat and put that in a large, shallow dish.

When the dough has cooled slightly, spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with the star tip. The star tip is what gives churros their adorable shape. I usually put my pastry bag in a tall glass and then can more easily fill it with two hands. This is a sticky dough, but it comes out of the pastry bag just fine.

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Before you pipe in a whole churro, test the oil temperature by squeezing out a 1″ piece. If the oil is ready, the churro should immediately start to bubble vigorously and float to the top. If not, wait a while for the oil to come up to temperature. If your oil isn’t hot, you’ll get soggy, greasy churros, which would be a tragedy.

Pipe a few churros into the pot. I found the easiest way to handsome churros was cut the churro from the pastry bag with a knife after I had piped about 4 inches of dough. Don’t crowd them. They will take about 3 – 4 minutes per side to become a deep golden brown. Remove them from the oil and let drain on the rack. After they’ve cooled slightly, lightly toss them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Serve churros immediately, or let cool completely on the rack. To reheat, warm them for 5 – 7 minutes in a 350° F oven. They’re best the first day, but not too shabby on the second if you somehow have leftovers.

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For the whiskey sauce, from the ever lovely Katie Norton
1 cup sugar
1/2 c butter (8 tablespoons, 1 stick)
1 egg, beaten
2 oz burbon whiskey

In a heavy bottomed pot, cream the butter with the sugar over medium low heat. When the sugar is almost dissolved and butter is melted, add in the beaten egg. Whisk to incorporate and then whisk constantly for one minute, until the sauce comes together and has a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bourbon. This sauce is good on just about anything.

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For the peach compote
2 peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons brown sugar
small pinch of salt
1/2 lemon, juiced

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the peaches and brown sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the fruit is quite soft. Remove from the heat and purée. I used an immersion blender. Add the lemon juice and blend just a bit more to incorporate. Store in the fridge if you have leftovers.

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-Emily

give me your answer true

Posted on July 17, 2014

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Jordan and I met when we were 17 years old. I remember the day I decided Jordan was cute and that I should probably do something about it. We were hanging out at our friend Brian’s house making signs for our friend Aaron’s Modern Socialist Club protest of the local Wal-Mart. The girls were drawing signs, the boys were horsing around and playing guitar.  And in that silly, clichéd way of every high school movie ever, I looked up from my sign and there was Jordan with his floppy hair and skater t-shirt, playing guitar and cracking jokes, and I was smitten.

Over the past eight years, we’ve grown up together. The eight years between high school graduation and ‘real life’ are big ones, and we’ve navigated them, somehow sticking together through a hell of a lot. There’s been stuff that felt really big and tough at the time, as things often do when you’re 19, and stuff that legitimately is big and tough no matter how old you are, and so, so many good times too. Having that shared history, those shared eight years of highs and lows, it feels even better than I could have anticipated.

I don’t think I’ve ever doubted that Jordan was a good egg, that he was exactly my kind of guy. There isn’t anyone who can make me laugh harder or comfort me better, often both at once. He’s funny and smart and strong, this unique blend of mellow and intense that I absolutely adore. He is just so good.

He also pushes my buttons, just enough to keep things interesting, and when I look up to give him a piece of my mind, he’s got this sweet, mischievous twinkle in his eyes. A good reminder not to take life too seriously, one I sometimes need.

Jordan also lets me do my thing, and I’ve taken him up on that plenty. It’s quite the trick to give someone the space they need to grow, while still being so intimately involved in their life. Jordan has never failed to rise to the occasion, steadfast in his support and trust, silly puns at the ready.

I would not be the person I am today without our relationship. A fact that is probably obvious, but deserves to be said nonetheless. And what this all brings me to is some happy, happy news. Jordan and I are engaged.

We got engaged in a parking lot on a street corner in San Francisco. Franklin and Page streets. Like we’ve approached most big life things that we’ve been through over the past eight years, we decided this one together. And then we went to our favorite izakaya to celebrate with bacon-wrapped mochi and a beer. Perhaps not terribly romantic by some standards, but very, very us. I can’t imagine life any other way, and couldn’t be happier.

My sweet Jordan, I love you.

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Bacon Wrapped Mochi 
3 pieces kirimochi (savory Japanese glutinous rice cakes), cut into thirds after boiling
5 slices of bacon, cut in half

Bring a pot of water to boil. Unwrap the kirimochi and drop them into the boiling water. Boil for just a minute (or microwave for 20 seconds), until they become tender. Remove from the water and cut into thirds. Wrap each piece of mochi in a piece of bacon and secure the bacon with a toothpick. Grill the mochi over high heat or cook in a cast iron pan over high heat, until the bacon is brown and the mochi is oozing. Enjoy hot from the grill with a bit of soy sauce. The bacon is smokey and salty, the mochi is chewy and strange—it is a wonderful combination!

-Emily

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Ps. Our rings were made for us by our friends Rachel and Andrew, who kept a great secret for a few weeks.

 

alice waters and chez panisse

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For our fourth anniversary, Jordan and I went to Chez Panisse. We were in college and I know he saved for months to take me out for that meal. It was pure magic. The restaurant was cozy, beautiful and warm. A big bouquet of wild flowers and branches sat on a small table next to an assortment of gorgeous produce and loaf of fresh bread, a few slices missing. We snuggled into a corner near the kitchen and ate the most perfect four courses of my life. Everything tasted like the best version of itself. The love and care and respect that went into each and every part of that meal was palpable. It was how food is meant to be.

Our dinner at Chez Panisse was the first nice meal we’d ever been to together. My love affair with food had really started to get serious at the time and it felt so special to eat at the restaurant that changed the way we eat in the United States so completely. It warms my heart to look back on that meal and feel the earnest excitement of that night all over again. I left Chez Panisse so inspired to learn, to cook, and to get closer to my food.

Alice Waters changed I think about food and cooking more than anyone, outside of my Nonnie, my Mom and Jordan. From Alice I learned to cook simply and with the seasons, to respect my food and let the qualities of each ingredient shine. I learned to care where my food came from and how it was produced, to acknowledge the environmental impact our food choices make on the earth. I learned that there was nothing more precious than sitting down for a meal together, and that the kitchen and the table are where I am most at peace.

I like to think that I cook with Alice every night. Her philosophies inspire the way I shop, I cook and we eat. Because I feel so close to her in my kitchen, and because I have tremendous respect and admiration for the amazing work she does for children’s education, for the environment, for growers, ranchers and producers, for food and cooking in the United States, it was a dream come true to meet her tonight. I was starstruck, like you are when you meet one of your heros.  I aspire to have a fraction of her guts, vision and grace. Here’s to making that happen and eating well along the way.

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-Emily

Ps. If you’re not familiar with Alice Waters, Chez Panisse and the slow food revolution, I’d recommend reading this wonderful book. You can’t read it and not fall at least a little in love with Alice. Chez Panisse Vegetables is also a favorite around here and a wonderful place to begin cooking more seasonally.

and it’s december

This past week was quiet, aside from several lovely, family-filled dinners. I had a few days off of work, Jordan was on break from school, and we took it easy. We surfed, we watched back to back episodes of The Mind of a Chef, we ate risotto.

Our schedules are such that it’s rare to have more than a day off in a row to spend together and so these few days were especially lovely, just the two of us. It’s nice to have a bit of a break from the pace of a normal week to really remember why you like someone, to steep in all of the good the things they bring into your life, to appreciate them a bit more deeply.

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Willow is now happily resting her head on my keyboard, which is convenient because all I really mean to say is that Jordan is the butter to my bread, and I’m tremendously grateful for him.

These photos are from Ocean Beach. I shot them on Thanksgiving Day before heading down to dinner at my grandparents. Instant film really captures the colors of the Sunset beautifully. (Maybe one day I’ll get a film scanner and stop taking photos of photos, maybe?).

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I hope you had a restful Thanksgiving full of family and friends and good food. It’s hard to believe it’s already December, but I’m glad. I’m ready to buy a tiny Christmas tree, bake a ton of cookies, and say goodbye to 2013.

-Emily

polaroids from a day in santa cruz

Posted on June 24, 2013

A few weekends ago we met friends in Santa Cruz. We caught a few solid rides before the tide turned on us and we decided to head in. We ate lunch at The Picnic Basket. In a land of corn dogs and funnel cakes, they serve beautiful local food. I don’t turn my nose up at funnel cake, but something so fresh and good on the boardwalk was a nice surprise. After we finished eating we still had time on the meter so we walked around the neighborhood.

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The meter ran out and we parted ways. Jordan and I drove up the coast as the fog rolled back in. We stopped to get strawberries and artichokes. We listened to Eat a Peach. It felt like summer.

-Emily

a few photos from bolinas

Posted on April 14, 2013

We’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Bolinas these days. Bolinas is mellow and quiet and adorable. The air smells like eucalyptus, the surf is gentle, the people are friendly.  It reminds me of Arnold, where my grandparents have a cabin and we spent many summers as kids, just swap the eucalyptus for redwoods. I don’t have a recipe to share, just a few photos from the weekend—though the People’s Community Market does serve a damn good chai.

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