Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Quick Trip to Spain

Yes, I am here at home. No, I did not take a quick trip to Spain.

It will not be me sipping rioja on marble-tiled plazas, eating slice after slice of ham.

I will not be shopping in the market for the produce and fresh fish every morning, or going to the bakery on the corner 5 minutes before lunch will be served to get hot bread.

No high-speed train trips, gothic cathedrals, or slate-roofed castles.

No tapas of aged cheese marinated in olive oil, or purchasing of homemade sweets from the convent down the street. No jasmine and bougainvillea decorating every garden wall or red geraniums in painted pots on balconies.

Travel safely and hurry home, boys. Luisito and I miss you. In the fog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Orange-scented Lentil Soup with Acorn Squash

In order of appearance:

one acorn squash

2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 oz prosciutto
large pinch of dried sage leaves

1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 cup lentils, well rinsed
4 cups broth

juice of one orange

salt and pepper to taste

1. Roast the acorn squash: microwave the squash on high for 2 minutes so that it is easier to cut in half. Once it has cooled for a bit, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. Place the two halves flesh-side down in a baking dish and roast at 400 for about 20 minutes until soft and starting to caramelize.

2. Saute onion, sage, and prosciutto in olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until onions are translucent and prosciutto begins to brown. Add carrots and continue cooking until soft, about 5 more minutes. Add lentils and stir to coat in the oil. Add broth and let cook over medium-low heat until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.

3. Stir in juice of orange and cook 5 more minutes.

Serve in warm soup bowls with nice crusty bread and cheese, and poached pears for dessert. A good tempranillo would be a nice wine choice.

This was my first entry into the Royal Foodie Joust. Check out all of the wonderful recipes there!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


When you're almost two years old, you're full of good ideas. Each and every morning you wake up full of wonderful ideas for things to do that day.

Here are some of the good ideas we've been "working with" recently:

1. finding a new storage place for ALL of the remote controls for the house--in a plastic toy microwave--and then standing on top of it.

2. wrenching the nightlight out of its socket in the morning and putting it in the drawer of your playtrain.

3. putting all the doorstops in the drawer of your playtrain along with the nightlight.

4. taking your mother's books from her nightstand and putting them on your own bookshelf. (makes you look like you're a really advanced reader.)

5. brushing your teeth with ALL of the toothbrushes in the bathroom. (if brushing your teeth with your own toothbrush is a good idea, imagine how clean your teeth will be if you use all of the toothbrushes on the little rack. one at a time.)

All I have to say is....good thing none of us has a contagious disease right now.

Good night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Try This at Home, Folks. Please. Just Don't.

I should have known two things:

1. I should have known not to try a random recipe from an unaffiliated internet site.

2. I should have known that a kiwi pie wasn't going to be very good.

But, I fooled myself into thinking that neither one of the above could be too horrible. And since our produce delivery box has sent us a kilo of kiwis each week for three weeks in a row, and I am so sick of kiwi smoothies in the mornings that no one else but me will drink, I thought I would look for a recipe that would use A LOT of kiwis, and that is why I decided to try a kiwi pie to use up the 27 kiwis that were still left in the refrigerator.

So here's what I did:
12 med. kiwis, peeled
1 c. water
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. butter
1-2 drops green food coloring
9-inch baked pie shell

(3 Tablespoons of cornstarch, mind you! Where was my brain? But to my credit, I didn't add the food coloring.)

Step 1: Cut 9 kiwis in half and blot with paper towel.
Step 2: Blend the remaining 3 kiwis with water in blender or processor. In a saucepan, combine blended kiwi mixture with cornstarch, sugar and salt. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add butter and food coloring.
Step 3: Arrange halved kiwis in pie shell. Pour glaze over kiwis, coating them well.
Step 4:Chill for several hours.

My additions to recipe:

Step 5: Do not taste pie. Do not collect $200. Proceed directly to garbage can and throw pie away.

Step 6: Mark "No KIWIS" on produce delivery edit list.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Orphaned by the Flu

My grandmother was orphaned in 1918, when she was 9 years old. Between July and December she lost her father, her mother, and her older sister. This was the Flu Epidemic of 1918.

Kids playing ball in the street in San Francisco, ca. 1900. From Pictures of the American City.

San Francisco was a city of immigrants then, as it is now. My great-grandmother, Annie, came from Ireland with her sister and brother and settled in San Francisco's Mission District. She married an Austrian man and they had four children. Her sister Mae married an Irish man--he was killed in a car accident on the day of their child's baptism in 1914. Mae was left a single mother, but she had her sister to rely on. They shared a pair of flats on Bartlett Street.

Then in July of 1918 Annie's husband, Fred, came down with the flu. He died five days later. Her daughter Louise was next, and then Annie herself in late December of the same year. My grandmother, Kathryn, was left alone with her younger sister and brother, with only their Aunt Mae to care for them.

Mae worked in a milliner's shop, decorating hats. When she found herself with four children in her care, she did what any good Irish Catholic would do, she made an appointment to see the Archbishop to ask advice. Archbishop Hanna advised her to send the children to a convent boarding school outside of the City, so that's what she did. She worked to pay for their schooling, and they boarded at St. Gertrude's and St. Joseph's Academies in Rio Vista.

And so they helped each other grow up, and they helped each other through life's trials, because they had only each other to rely on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Look! A Real Zaguán

I don't mind at all that the Absolut campaign folks borrowed my idea. Really, not at all. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, you know.

Sláinte! (That's Irish, not Swedish.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Posh Affair

We went to a wine tasting event.

There were 85 different wines. The best one we tried was a Cune Imperial Reserva.

It was a very posh affair.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Babies So Special

I met two remarkable mothers and their babies today. Cathyleen, mother of Caleb, and Camille, mother of Lauren, are the founders of Babies So Special, a non-profit organization based out of Loma Linda Hospital in Southern California that provides support for families with special needs babies. They provide a mom-to-mom support network and financial support for families who are overwhelmed by their responsibilities in caring for acutely ill children. They also provide assistance with funeral costs to families whose babies don't survive. Cathyleen and Camille met when their babies were born, within days of each other, with congenital heart defects. Stop by their website -- they are truly inspiring.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Autumn Days

This is a beautiful city that we live in.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What color are your eyes?

Your Eyes Should Be Brown

Your eyes reflect: Depth and wisdom

People find you to be: Loyal, honest, and comforting

Your best trait: You are comfortable with who you are, and you don't pretend to be someone you're not

What's hidden behind your eyes: A tender heart

This cute idea came from Oysterblogger.