What makes a better gift than DIY cocktail supplies? This kind of gift is cute, unique, and way more useful than another pair of hand-knit socks. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy to make the components of one of my favorite cocktails, the Manhattan. Well, all of the components except for the rye whiskey. That one, I’ll leave to the experts.
Archive for November, 2008
Holidays are the ideal time for big family dinners followed by days of leftovers. But by this time, you may have eaten your fill of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey chili, and turkey casserole. After a few days of eating all things turkey — and pie! — I have an urge to dig into either pork or beef. As an added measure, I like to make it a bit spicy to wake up my palette. So if you’re also a bit tired of holiday leftovers, Pork and Pumpkin Coconut Lemongrass Curry may be just the antidote you’re looking for.
When my friend Karen asked me if I was interested in taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train, I thought she was joking. She’s a rather sophisticated woman– one who lived in the Napa Valley for ten years. She must know something I don’t. Or someone. That someone turned out to be Ryan Graham, director of the Wine Train’s wine program– an old friend of Karen’s from her time at the infamous Bistro Don Giovanni.
My initial reaction was snobbish. I’d always considered the Wine Train as a gimmicky tourist attraction, upon which the locals would never ride or, at least, openly admit to riding. Sort of like the Disneyland Railroad, but with alcohol.
So by now, you’ve gone shopping, gathered your wares, and hopefully if you are reading this, you are well along in the cooking process (if not, get off the computer and get busy!). But what do you do if it all goes horribly wrong…?
Ok, I’m not trying to be doom and gloom here. And I’m not talking about familial relations, you are on your own there. But in the food and feast arena, it is nice to be armed with a few helpful hints when you are juggling a minimum of six different dishes in the kitchen. Something is bound to not be perfect. So what do you do?
Recently I was invited to a taste test of recipes submitted online. The culinary social network CookEatShare held a cooking contest and brought together a number of restaurant chefs and food professionals to cook and judge the recipes. I wasn’t a judge, but I did get to try all the dishes.
Mobile Food Bank
Food banks across the state are struggling with longer lines and fewer donations this holiday season. But one Central Valley food bank will soon have a unique way to deliver fresh produce to rural communities.
The Holidays and Food Bank Demands
This is the official start of our end-of-the-year holidays and is always the busiest time of year for food banks and soup kitchens. In the midst of a dire economic crisis, local food banks say they’re seeing unprecedented demand for hot meals and groceries.
KQED talks with local chefs about new twists on the traditional Thanksgiving meal and listeners call in to share their new traditions. Guests:
Charles Phan, owner and chef at The Slanted Door;
Douglas Keane, chef at Cyrus;
Joey Altman, chef at Miss Pearl’s Jam House;
Annie Somerville, chef at Greens
Looking ahead at this week, it would make perfect and predictable sense for me to contribute yet another Thanksgiving-themed piece to the steaming, teeming masses already out there. However, I will not.
I am not being obstinate. I am moving. After five+ years in the same tiny (albeit well-appointed) San Francisco apartment, my husband and I are relocating for the suburbs where he can have a five-minute bike ride to work and I can have a larger-than-life kitchen while ferreting out fresh food finds. So, taking advantage of the 8 days off Stanford gives their professors, we are talking boxes and bubble-wrap, not turkey.
While water wars seem like the concerns of distant communities, experts predict that towns across the US will also soon be struggling to provide clean, affordable water to their citizens. An award-winning documentary, Flow, one of the post powerful and elegant films in the recent 3rd I Film Festival, tackles the complex issues embedded in a simple glass of water. From Bolivia to India, from Michigan to our very own California, access to water is being contested.
Thanksgiving cooks will be brining, stuffing and roasting their way into next week’s turkey feast. Foodies looking for a bigger culinary challenge can find it at a San Francisco market where home cooks can learn to be their own butcher.
If you’re into eating locally grown food and plan on including roasted chestnuts with your holiday meals, we have good news for you. California is one of the few places in the U.S. where you can still find American chestnut trees. Four types of them grow on Skyline Chestnut Orchard — a grove perched above the Northern California town of Woodside.
Two weeks ago, Omnivore Books on Food quietly opened its doors in Noe Valley. When I found out about it from a friend of mine who is much hipper than I am, I nearly wet myself with joy. I have been known to lose myself in used bookstores for hours, but I have never been to one dealing exclusively in cookbooks.
Housed, appropriately enough, in a former butcher shop, Omnivore is the dream child of Celia Sack, an antiquarian book dealer with a special passion for cookbooks. Even her name sounds as though it came straight from a novel. Celia Sack. It is, to me, a name that should be attached to a book store.
As far as I’m concerned, side dishes are what make a Thanksgiving dinner great. Sure, I like turkey, but I truly love stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes. For me, carbs topped with gravy make this holiday meal delicious. The problem is that most of us don’t make these three dishes very often, so preparing them once a year — for a table full of family and friends no less — can seem intimidating and make you feel a bit like Dorothy walking into the dark unknown forest with the Tin Man and the Scarecrow.
Every year, the third Thursday in November is the first chance to enjoy the earliest fruits of the French harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a fresh, fruity wine that marks the end of the harvest, and that is reason enough for light hearted celebrations. Around the Bay Area there will be plenty of different ways to celebrate and even an option for those who can’t stand Beaujolais Nouveau.
Are you drinking kombucha? Among my friends, it’s becoming all the rage. Kombucha is a tea-based drink that has been fermented and is effervescent. Many varieties of kombucha are available these days at stores like Whole Foods and Rainbow Grocery. While not proven, many tout health benefits such as liver detoxification, better digestion, increased blood circulation, and a general boost to the immune system. I personally like kombucha because I like the flavor — with its fermented qualities, kombucha reminds me of an alcohol-based drink without the alcohol.