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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pho-llen Angel

I did it. I admit it fully and freely, I fell off my self-imposed wagon, and got the Pho soup here at work.  The reason this soup has such an interesting history is both because of its taste, and its effect. Our workplace began making and serving the infamous Pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) in the Fall of 2009. After I left a certain position in December (see evil boss post), I was no longer susceptible to the siren song magnet-like pull of the soup. I was relieved. Then, I returned to a new role - but at the same place....and danger was lurking right down the hall...

You see, this is no ordinary soup. This soup is a large (16 ounces!), made-to-order conglomeration of thin noodles, beef, seafood, or vegetarian with tofu, and crammed full of goodness so astounding, you cannot stop eating it. At all. You wish it came in a half size portion, but you know you'd be licking the inside of the container to get at the rest of the goodness. Here is beauty shot number one of the perpetrator...

Just LOADED with sprouts, tofu, shrimp, carrots, noodles, jalapenos (put there by me, of course) cilantro, scallions, mint and so many goodies I cannot remember them all! And yes, it was piping hot and outrageously delicious.  The problem is, you see, that it has a sodium content of over 800 mg!  Thus, my comment about the effects of consuming said goodness. Let's just say that bloat has never been a problem for me - well, that is until I tried the Pho here. You could tie a string to me, and I'd be your balloon, ok? What is funny/strange about this pho-nomenon, is (without giving it away exactly) I work at A MEDICAL FACILITY! You know, one of those places that stresses, um health? Final shot of the soup as I'm beginning to devour...

Did I mention that each vegetable retained it's crunch and texture, the jalapenos were fresh, and that the soup was every bit worth the impending balloon-age? Yep, sure was.

What do you eat, knowing the consequences are less-than-favorable?

The verdict? Well, I'm so glad I fell off the Pho-wagon, in a way. There are sometimes sacrifices we have to make to enjoy the flavors we love. Next stop? Making it myself! Eat well, my friends, and happy Friday tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ole'

Sometimes, a gem is right under your nose, and you don't know it. For instance, Dear Husband and I are always on the prowl for decent Mexican food, after living in California, and enjoying a higher standard when it comes to that particular cuisine.

So, one day we are just driving along, minding our own beeswax, when the urge for Mexican food for lunch struck us.  We had literally just left the house, and were driving the Pixie-mobile around the corner when I noticed in a nearby strip mall right on Tudor Road a small sign saying; TACO KING! Go here for some reviews.

Being the queen of condiments, while Dear Husband was ordering, I helped myself to their generous toppings bar by getting some jalapenos,  hot salsa and pico de gallo.



Well yes, yes I know that there are not a lot of jalapeno peppers in that little tub.  Come on, I have to go to work, ya know. I can't be all a-flatulent at work now, can I?

How do you avoid the dreaded "tooting at work" issue? Don't tell me about that product that ryhmes with mean-o, it does not work for me!

Clearly I'm getting off topic. When we first discovered the lovely Taco King, I always had gringo chicken or gringo beef tacos. Oh, my...you should see the GIANT, beautiful steaming bowls of menudo, and chicken tortilla soup coming by!  I swear by all that is tasty, as soon as there is snow on the ground, I'm going to nail one of those bowls. Of course, I will not be able to finish, their portions are amazing. So, if my evil plan works correctly, I will then have enough to take back to work, and sip on all the live-long day. YAY! and...OLE! 

Ok, on to the actual lunch. Dear Husband convinced me that his single chicken enchilada dish, smothered with lovely sauce, with the addition of a little salad on top (I know, right?) was the way to go. I finally caved like the cheap deck of cards that I am when it comes to persuasion, and had him order it for me as well.

Yes, the enchilada covered the entire plate, yes, Dear Husband was right, it was delicious! I rightly added some very hot hot sauce, some pico de gallo, and showing remarkable restraint, only one jalapeno. Perfect, cheap, filling and ....delicioso!  I must have been born under a lucky star, because afterward, the dish did not attack and destroy my intestinal fortitude.

Eat well, and adios for now me amigos!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Classical Jazz

BACK! Back to classical French cooking, I say! Last night, to celebrate my return to classical French cooking, I decided to return to one of my favorites...coq au vin (chicken in red wine). I rely on a recipe from that old standby,  Joy of Cooking.  The recipe has pretty much been the go-to one I have used for nearly thirty years, and quite frankly, I've tried others and they don't stand up.  First, the gathering of ingredients, and prep that makes it all go smoothly.

At the risk of sounding redundant, the lessons learned over a lifetime of cooking dictate that preparation is the key factor that can make the difference between success and failure...on to the actual cooking. First, a little saute of bacon/onion/garlic fun.

Although the recipe calls for shallots, I usually substitute red onions...I find they have the sweetness required...ooops, forgot to add the carrots for the browning step!

Ahhh...that's better. Now time to brown the chicken..

The chicken is nicely browned, so now it's time to put the veggies back in the pan, and add the flour and seasonings, and tons of red wine, of course.

What I love about coq au vin is it's beautiful mix of textures and colors....in go the mushrooms, chicken and red wine!


Now, an hour-long simmer to mellow the wine, and get the other ingredients to absorb the flavors....and this is what it looks like after an hour. You'll notice the reddish-winey color has changed to a deep, mellow brown.

And this is how it looked on my very happy dinner plate...


If anyone ever asks me about re-creating French classic cooking, I let them know to relax, pour a glass of wine, make your kitchen the soul of your home, and it will be well.  Eat well my friends, au revoir!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Golden Moment

As you know, I have an ever-lovin' quest for healthy work lunches going on.  Sometimes, I fail miserably. Sometimes though, I am SUPER WOMAN again, and make a dish that I consider healthy, beautiful, and praise-worthy.  Ok, praise from my three favorite people...me, myself and I.  This was just such a night.  As you know, I am an omnivore, but I am totally fascinated by what those inventive and talented vegan and vegetarian bloggers are up to.  I recently saw the lovely Gena's post about building a meal-sized salad. I was so totally impressed by the variety, beauty and tasteful-looking salads, that I set about to create my own!  First, I set about a-roasting a lovely acorn squash.

After an hour at 400 degrees, and a slight cool-down, time to cut it up and break into all that golden sweet delicious-ness.

On to the salad. Into my incredibly large suitable for work lunchbox went arugula, spinach, grape tomatoes grated sweet Matanuska Valley carrots, scallions, the squash, and a sprinkle of heathly nuts, seeds and raisins over the top. It's starting to look like lunch up in here!

But then I thought...OH NO!  What to dress this finery with? Well, I rationalized, the arugula is rather bitter, the squash rather sweet, I'm going to need a really assertive dressing for this puppy.  Then, I remembered Caroline over at  The Broccoli Hut and her love of cottage cheese.  Wait a minute, I love cottage cheese! Oh, AND I happen to have a tiny jar of minced basil perfect for turning into dressings and such!  Ha!

So in the processer a few tablespoons of each went, along with salt, garlic powder, pepper and a handful of spinach for additional goodness and color, and there you go! A green goddess-y type herbalicious dressing for my meal-sized salad.

Am I tired? Why yes, yes I am. Was it worth creating this all from scratch on a weeknight, just to have a decently healthy and filling lunch at work tomorrow? You betcha, as my Minnesota friends might say. 

What did you push yourself to do that you knew was going to be worth it? What was your payoff/reward/feeling of goodness?

Eat well, my friends, and I will tell you how the whole thing tasted once combined. I have a feeling it's gonna be good!

Crunch & Munch

It's not hard to find healthy lunches, even in meat-centric Anchorage! for instance, Dear Husband and I went to a local pizza joint, Uncle Joes for lunch today, and I got to crunch my way through this!

I just realized that the arrangement of the salad dressings on the plate, make it look like a funny face.... OK...back from being six years old again!  What I enjoy about this salad, is the fact that it's all romaine lettuce, that lovely purple cabbage is added for the crunch I must have, and that the house dressing is tangy and spicy, and an unusual tomato-y goodness.

So you see, even if you are not ambitious enough to pack yourself a healthy lunch, there ARE some options out there. By the way, I did make the California tri-tip supper I spoke of a few posts back, it just went so fast that I could not photograph and post about it! Ah the hazards of being a good cook....

What do you pack for work lunches? Do you get lazy and have to buy lunch out?

Eat well my friends...ta ta for now

All the Comforts

I am a true Cancerian. Although I love to travel, it is home that I love to be. I view working for a living as that horrible monster that keeps me from being Suzy Homemaker, and trading my time for paper that enables us to pay bills and buy food is a poor substitute for real life. What is real life? Well, in Pixie-land, real life would be getting up on my 40-plus acres, feeding the horses, and picking whichever vegetables I would be preparing for supper that night. I would spend the day planting or cultivating my incredibly large garden, picking flowers for the house, hanging out with Dear Husband, and LIVING!  This, my friends, is just EXISTING. All your time, just-a workin' for da man.....sigh.

Anyhoo, that entire pity party was my way of saying that when I leave for work, I am consumed by a panic that makes no sense. I am filled with fear that somehow, some way, I will not be able to find FOOD!  Keep in mind, that Alaska, and the place I work are known for making sure that A: there will always be food around, and B: there will be a workplace potluck almost every single day.  I'm also right down the hall from a cafeteria that has so much food, soup, sashimi, sandwiches, breakfast, salad bar, hot lunch, etc., that people here have a tendancy to gain weight, and fast! There is no lack of food around...but still, when I left for work today, here is what I felt I must bring in case I felt faint from hunger, of course....


The grapefruit slices are going to be the first to go, there's no doubt there. The dry-roasted almonds will almost certainly be next in line, and the yogurt and breakfast bar? Well, they may just end up riding the insulated lunch box along with the rest of the goodies I brought.....which include;

Home made Portuguese chicken soup (Canja), jujy fruits candy, beef jerky, sno-caps candy, apple cider mix in an envelope, hot chocolate mix, cup-a-soup, hot tea and snickers bars. Ummmm yeah, let's face it, not only will I not starve, but in a survival situation, I could potentially feed my entire department for a couple of days.

What secret snack do you smuggle into work? Do your co-workers know you are sitting there eating pickled herring, or enough Halloween candy for the neighborhood?

Eat well my friends, and when you go home tonight, look around at your warm and comfortable home, and be grateful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Evil Snack Fairy

Back to the soon-to-be-famous; "Borderline Pointless Letters to No One in Particular"

Dear Evil Snack Fairy,

I realize that I am a vulnerable person. I live in the new-to-me frigid and gnarly state of Alaska, and must immediately prepare and eat whatever strikes my fancy, especially if said item looks awesome and tasty. I am vulnerable because I cannot mow a lawn, garden to my hearts' content, or otherwise keep as active as I like to.


You, evil fairy do not care that it is four pm on a Sunday afternoon, I must have supper on the table oooohhh, within the next three hours or so, and will be too full, and guilty \highly satisfied, to consume the meal I prepared. No, you just abuse me with your tantalizing thoughts of perfectly cooked pasta, finely chopped onion, chili (with beans, thank you for the combustion later, too), and a mound of shredded cheddar that would make Rushmore blush!

Oh thank you evil Snack Fairy.....

Ok, rant over. Truth be told, that Cincinatti-style chili was freakin AWESOME! And, althought I do not remember exactly what it is I made for the "household" supper that night, I do remember serving it with a smile.

What do you make and consume with unbridled passion, without a care for the consequences?


Eat well, and indulge the Evil Snack Fairy...if you don't she will come at Midnight, anyway.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kale and Hearty

In the realm of deep-green leafy vegetation, there are hardly any greens I do not love. I steam collards, and top with lemon and butter, salt and pepper, and I'm in heaven.  I make thin shreds of beautiful kale into Portuguese kale soup (caldo verde), and genrally loves me some greens. So, I've been reading a lot of blogs that discuss turning kale into crunchy potato-chip like concoctions.  After reading quite a few of the recipes out there on the inter-galactic web, I set about washing one of the biggest, most beautiful bunches of kale I have ever seen.

And yes, it did fill an entire half of  the sink.  Say what you will about Alaska (because if you don't, you KNOW I will), they have the tastiest kale, carrots and potatoes I have ever had. It must be something in the rich, volcanic soil that makes the cold weather crops up here enjoy some added sweetness and size. After a good wash and dry I removed the tough inner ribs of the leaves, and tore them into reasonable chunks. I spread them on baking sheets, and gave them a good rub-down with extra-virgin olive oil.  I then sprinkled them with nutritional yeast for a cheesy crunch, sea salt, and red wine vinegar. Here they are, ready for their close-up, and a trip into a 300 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Into the oven they went, and roasted to a crispity crunch in short order. Here they are after the roast..

The verdict? Well, interesting, to be sure. They do turn a rather unappetizing greenish-brown, and the roasting does not completely take away their bitter nature.  In the future, I would add a lot more nutritional yeast, salt and vinegar. I'm glad I saved the rest of the bunch for soup, but as an interesting and healthier option than potato chips, this is not a bad way to go! 

What unusual item do you enjoy? Do you find that people judge you for eating it?

I for one eat my favorite skinless and boneless Portuguese sardines with cocktail sauce and whole wheat crackers alone, preferable in front of the television, and with a nice glass of vintage port. Eat well my friends, and prepare for an all-American steak fest, a California special, tri-tip!

Attack of the Killer Brussels Sprouts

It is a well-known fact that eating your vegetables is good for you. The cruciferous veggies in particular, are loaded with cancer fighting little beasties that do us a lot of good.  Sometimes, their pungent nature (think broccoli, etc) makes them less than yummy, particularly when overcooked. That is why it is so important to treat these items with delicacy and care when cooking them. 




For instance, the humble brussels sprout.  I grew these when I lived in England, and let me tell you, what an unusual plant it is!  It is a tall, alien-looking stalk, punctuated by the little sprouts growing along it. It is one of my favorite treats, and I begin by toasting some nuts. I prefer pine nuts, but did not have any on this day, so I used dry-roasted peanuts. Almonds work well in this, too.



I set the nuts aside to cool, and bring out the secret weapon of brussels sprout yum - BACON!!  Saute a little diced bacon with some minced garlic, like so....


Then, using a good, sharp knife, shred the little sprouts like you would a cabbage, as though you are making cole slaw.  They will look like this...

Add the shredded sprouts to the pan with the bacon and garlic, and saute over medium-low heat just until the sprouts are a nice deep green, and have become tender, about ten minutes. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Do not crank the heat up, or cook them to death, that is why people don't like them!  When done, mix in the toasted nuts, and top with freshly grated Parmesan and hot sauce to taste.  Behold....

You will not believe that you are eating, loving and totally enjoying brussels sprouts!  In fact, I think I will go make it again for breakfast this morning. Eat well my friends, and give the humble sprout a try.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gratitude

I'm kind of weird about thankfulness. Most people probably think I'm the worlds' biggest ingrate, but I truly am not. I am thankful that I have a warm bed to go home to, a fridge and pantry full of lovely food to cook, a husband who is the reason that I can actually even breathe, and friends and family that love me. I love them, too. So why, oh why can I not shake this horrible, mind-numbing feeling of doom and gloom? It is probably due to the turbo-charged rapidly shortening days and increasing frigid-ness that is Alaska at this time of year.

On the bright/funny side, I fell in love with a new blog, go check out hilarious Allie ! And don't say I did not warn you, there is language-not-suitable for short, new-ish people in the world (kids). In the spirit of her hilarious site, and since I'm kind of a doodler myself when I'm not cooking, talking about cooking, reading about cooking, viewing cooking shows or eating, I think I will have to start inserting little comics about my life. Of course, that means that I'm going to have to get/learn/purchase a program that I can draw with, to transfer to said blog.  In the meantime, there is salsa!




                                  This is my salsa that I brought to work for the very same potluck that has me in a food coma and wondering if anyone will notice if I disappear under my desk, right next to the space heater, and take a nap.  Now I hear all of you saying "ALLISON, YOU DON'T NAP AND YOU KNOW IT"! I know, I know, but that does not stop me from being in love with the idea of napping, now, does it?

I may hate and detest not enjoy living in Alaska, but my heart is filled with gratitude for the incredible friends I have found here, the husband I love to be with, and the luck to have such a full life, with such comfort, when I know there are others in the world who don't enjoy those same priviledges.

Eat well, my friends, but don't eat too much..or you will end up a bloated, middle-aged woman fantasizing about going to sleep under your desk, right near the space heater.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's a Wrap...

Sometimes, making a healthier choice (especially early in the day) can lead to yummy moments.  Case in point, although I was craving cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast, I did a u-turn and got a hummus wrap in a colorful tortilla in our work cafeteria.  I must hand it to them, they actually do have a variety of healthy options, and their Philly cheesesteak aint so bad (ok, so I was weak!) either.  The hummus wrap was the choice once I saw that the hummus dip-in-a-box no longer came with broccoli.  FOR SHAME!  Just the carrot sticks and pita wedges were not going to cut it with yours truly, oh no. 

I do go on, but here's the point; this wrap was HUGE! And delicious!  And crunchy!  Have a look....

Now for my vegan friends, I know there is cheese in that thar wrap, but oh well!  Even the tomato (which are usually watery tennis balls here in Alaska) was good.  They have modified the wrap since I last had it, and it now has shreds of carrot in it, vs. ungainly sticks that fall out of the wrap as you are eating it.  The combination of crunchy vegetables, creamy hummus and very fresh tortilla is a total WIN!  I think the other half pictured above is going to be lunch, I simply could not eat the whole thing.

What does your workplace, or favorite lunch spot get exactly right? Is it just delicious, or what?

Eat well my friends, and stay tuned for the ATTACK OF THE........

KILLER BRUSSEL SPROUTS! (stabbing motion and horror movie music in the background)... hahahaha Just kidding, you will never be a sprout-hatin' fool after I show you the tasty way I prepare them. Now, where did I leave the other half of that hummus wrap? Hmmmmmm

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fair-Weather Friends...

Over the Labor Day Weekend, we decided to attend the Alaska State Fair. We went on the very last day, hoping for good prices and minimal crowds.  Well, we got the nice prices, but boy was it crowded!  The main reason being a beautiful and sunny day, which is priceless by most measures here in Alaska.  First order of business, quenching our thirst at the Sluicebox, with Happy Aly and Sweet Caroline.





Sunny Day, Happy Friends!

As you can see, the specialized brews, a sunny day, and good friends make for a nice start to the Fair fun. I digress, however, and must get on to the real reason for our trip to the State Fair. What? The food, of course!  After our refreshing pit stop, and a little walking around and taking it all in, Dear Husband and I decided that a giant loaf of french fries drowned liberally seasoned with malt vinegar were in order.





And when I say giant, I clearly mean larger than your standard box-o-fries!  It was huge, but apparently we had no trouble making it all, and I do mean ALL...disappear.  Well, man cannot live by potatoes alone, and I knew that I must indulge in that very special treat that I look forward to for months, and that would be.......OYSTERS!



Oh lovely, briney critters of the sea, how I have missed you!  Now, as a master of indecision, I was at a moral dilemma when it came to saucing these delicious morsels.....what to choose? They had on offer my favorite, a mignonette sauce with shallots, but they had lemon juice, cocktail sauce and Tabasco, too!  Of course, totally in keeping with character, I put a little of each on. I consumed the six oysters (TEN BUCKS!!) with a haste unbecoming of a lady, and walked over to where Dear Husband was getting his sausage, pepper & onion fix surrepetitiously wiping my grinning face. 

Well, I've had a starch, and a most delicious protein, what is lunch without a vegetable?  The answer was a golden and delicious fair favorite all over our glorious country....




Sweet roasted perfection.  Naturally I seasoned liberally with hot sauce, parmesan and seasoned salt. Happy and satisfied, I felt I must wander into a similarly-themed area of the fair, and my personal favorite. The little vegetable garden at the entrance to the fair.  I don't know really why they even have this display, except to perhaps torture those of us who love to garden, but do not have a greenhouse, and therefore cannot grow anything (ok, icicles) for much of the year in Alaska.  A sampling for you......


Lovely red-leaf lettuces....it was all I could do to not reach down, and start picking and crunching on down!  On to more veggie-licious-ness....

Just look at the kale-o-rama going on here!  I had visions of Portuguese kale soup a-floatin' in my head, I can tell you.  Last but not least...

Parsley and onions, just placed here so that if I hid out until they closed the fair down, I would be able to season the meal that I would be making from the display garden, of course. 

Stay tuned for the magic that one can make with.....BRUSSELS SPROUTS!  Wha.....yes, you too can actually enjoy that much-hated vegetable of childhood.  But, there is a secret...sshhhhhhhhh.  The clue is; "It makes almost everything taste better".

What secret do you have to get those around you to eat someting super-healthy?

Eat well, my friends, and prepare for droolage...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Choking Up

I know, I'm LATE!  I promised to update you yesterday, on the fabulous usage of the rest of the can of artichoke hearts I had from the gaseous-but-delicious Morgans' Veggie Patties!  Well, wait no more!  I am a great lover of artichokes, having spent the majority of my adult life in California, where they are plentiful, and cheap.  Here in Alaska, they can cost over three dollars each!  Hence, my using canned artichoke hearts for recipes. 

I really love separating the leaves of whole artichokes, stuffing them with a mixture of garlic, herbs and bread crumbs, and baking, Roman Style.  As above, though I needed tweakage...so I assembled all the players...

Panko bread crumbs, the canned hearts on olive oil in a baking dish, fresh parsley, rosemary thyme and oregano from the herb garden, garlic (of course), Parmesan and butter.  Salt and pepper were added too! I mixed all the herbs, garlic and parmesan and gently stuffed each heart with the mixture.  I then topped with small bits of about 2TB. butter, and grated some additional Parmy-goodness over the top.  It was ready for oven time...

Then, bak-age in a 375-degree oven until the artichokes acheived GB & D status (golden brown & delicious).  About 20 minutes later, voila!

When it came to serving time, a little squeeze of fresh lemon, and I must say...outstanding!!

What dish do you modify due to expenses, or time?  How does it come out?

Eat well my friends, and don't touch that dial...photos of Alaska State Fair foods coming next post!  From the garlicky goodness going on here....ta ta!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor of Love

Ahhh Labor Day Weekend....a time for relaxing, sleeping in, and OOOPS!  This is Pixie-land, remember? It's time for me to get my cook on!  We had a supper engagement over at Happy Alys' home, and I wanted to impress her with my second-ever try at Morgans' Veggie Patties

They are (as you can see from the recipe) ingredient-heavy, so I figured I better get all in place before beginning. I find that the best way to ensure success in the kitchen is to be well-prepared...

I did have most of the beans called for in the recipe in cans, and therefore easy to use, but I did have to soak and boil the garbanzo beans prior to this photo.

Then came the process of combining.  I tweak the recipe ever so slightly, because in reading the reviews, it appears that many had issues with the burgers falling apart.  I pulse it all so that while all the ingredients don't get pureed, they are combined enough to hold the burgers together.  Here it all is, ready for the spin-fest.

Ooops, I forgot the black olives!

Okay....NOW we're ready to roll (literally). My tweaks to the recipe include adding some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and nutritional yeast.  I add the tomatoes for a little sweetness, as these are spicy burgers, and the nutritional yeast to help them hold together. Just look at all the quality ingredients in there!

Once combined, I form them into burgers, dust with a little whole wheat flour, and chill down until suppertime.....

Okay....I tell a lie....there was one patty that did not make it into the fridge...I wonder just what ravenous cook intelligent recipe tester might have done....

Hmmmm blue cheese, siriacha sauce...I think it needs more...

Ahhhh...that's more like it, blue cheese, siriacha sauce AND A1 steak sauce. This was my breakfast, by the way. Of course if you are a loyal reader (and you ARE, right?). you know that I dislike traditional breakfast foods, so this was perfection on a bun (or lack of bun) for me.  I shallow-fried the burger in a half tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, which gave it that nice crispy crust, and I was in heaven!  Later that same night, we grilled them, and they were equally delicious, although quite fart-tastic. Hey, healthy foods sometimes involve sacrifice!

What non-traditional foods do you indulge in, at breakfast time? Does anyone know, or do you hide your obsession?

Having enjoyed the successful re-creation of the veggie patties, I was left with the entire rest of a can of gorgeous artichoke hearts. What to do? Tomorrow all will be revealed...eat well, my friends.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

California Dreamin'

My apologies to the Mamas and Papas....there is just no better way to put it! If you have ever lived in the splendor that is Northern California, you know what I mean anyway!  The crisp, but not too cold Autumn, the foggy, chilly winter (but NO SNOW), the Spring that bursts with every blossom, fragrant and beautiful, and the warm summers, only cooled by the Delta breeze in the evenings.  AND...there is the dining factor.

We met up with the lovely A., and took ourselve to Sapporo for supper. A had the sesame chicken, and just look at how yum-a-licious the presentation was...

A assured me that it was as delicious as it looks. Dear Husband had a shrimp dish that I was blissfully unaware of, because I had THIS......

My sashimi assortment included tuna, salmon, and other assorted fishies, and each fish retained it's own unique texture and flavor while melting on the tongue. For all those who are squeamish about eating raw fish....I almost feel sorry for you. I say almost because if you don't eat it, there will be more for me a startling lack of sushi/sashimi lovers in the world......sigh.

The dish was actually even more photogenic than this, but before I remembered that I am a food blogger, I ripped into a few pieces *giggles*.

Today is the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and you know what that means......COOK-A-THON!!!  Eat well my friends, and look forward to pictures and posts of my culinary adventures in Pixie-land.  P.S. I miss you Sacramento and Nevada, and I WILL be back!

Do you have a place that you know you belong to? Did you have to leave there? What are you doing to get back to the place that makes you feel alive?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Home sweet home...

To celebrate our anniversary and Dear Husband's birthday, (and because of a sale on the flights), we recently took a one-week trip to our beloved  Northern California and Nevada.  We got to see the grandkids, dine well at many different restaurants, and visit our favorite haunts.

Most importantly, however, was the smack-you-hard-in-the face realization that there is literally, no place like Northern California. I was so struck by the beauty I remember so well, that as Dear Husband drove us from San Fransico up into the Central Valley, seeing the golden hills with gorgeous green oak trees spread amongst them, I burst into tears of joy. I also had that same reaction upon seeing the skyline of my beautiful Sacramento. Sidebar note: I also spent most of our last day crying in total and complete dread of returning to Alaska, and probably making Dear Husband feel helpless and sad, but I could not help it. :(

One of my favorite novels has a central character that upon returning to the place of her birth, was filled with the incredible joy and, as she put it "that atavistic sense of place" that nowhere else could replicate.  The definition of atavistic involves something going back to one's ancestors, or generations prior to yourself.  If this is true, a part of me that I don't even know exists, belongs in the West. 

On to less existential matters.  As we waited for our first appointment in the beautiful city-by-the-bay, we went to breakfast at a retro little diner, Lori's

.
I had the best corned beef hash of my life in this little place, with nice big chunks of corned beef, super fresh parsley and scallions, and crispy little squares of potato. This photo does not do it justice for sure.....


If you know me, I have a habit of wanting everything, and being able to finish almost none of it.  This plate was completely clean when I was done.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's post and (much better) photos of some of the rest of our trip, and eat well my friends.