Friday, February 28, 2014

Afternoon Pick Me Up - Oscar Time

 It's Oscar weekend. And yes, I love the Oscars. I love movies. This year kind of crept up on me though, and while I usually see all the nominated movies, actresses and actors, and foreign films, I find myself this year doing some last minute catch up. Of course, in our town, you would be hard pressed to find a theater playing one of the nominated movies right now - Robocop 12 or 13 - yes, Oscar movies - no. 
 The one theater in town that is playing a few is The Lyric. It's a small, independently owned place that shows mostly independent and foreign films. They also show old cartoons from 10 to noon several mornings a week for $5.00 which includes an all you can eat cereal bar. (They have Frosted flakes!)

They also serve light snacks like a hummus plate with vegetables or bagels with goat cheese along with wine and local beer.

There are two theaters both of which have some theater seating as well as couches in the front with coffee tables.
And some very eclectic and interesting wall art to peruse. It's also a coffee shop so you can hang out in the lobby at a table or couch to pass the time.
Coming attractions mixed with some fun art.

The hallway with more art and murals

Here's a Friday afternoon alternative to happy hour. A cheese plate with local cheeses and crackers and a glass of wine paired with a Oscar movie and a comfy couch. That sounds like pre Oscar fun to me.

On Sunday I will be drinking champagne and making some fancy appetizers and watching the day long pre Oscar silly stuff. It's what I like to do. And of course! I wear an apron while making my Oscar hors d'oeuvres - in the form of an Oscar apron. This one was from a few years ago. I usually just use whatever old fabric I have in my stash and try to make it somewhat festive and fancy. 

Because this is more suitable for sipping Champagne while making mushroom caviar on blini or salmon pot, or shaved beef tenderloin. Here's to Hollywood, movies, actors and all the people who bring art to life or is it life to art? 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Notes From The Country - Winter Food Cravings and Random Things

I went to Whole Foods and had entirely too much fun. I had a mid-winter craving for fresh vegetables though so I indulged. I've gone back and forth lately between fresh salads and unctuous winter soups.
I enjoy simple salads full of fresh vegetables, lettuces, spinach, and in this case some fresh peppery arugula and marinated, roasted chicken. I added the blueberries too.
One night I made a cheese and bruschetta platter. I love bruschetta because the ingredients are fresh on the bread. This was a combination of small heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, basil, capers and a balsamic vinaigrette. And kale chips with a bit of smoky red pepper to go along with. I can't get enough of kale chips lately.   
I'm trying to infuse a little eclectic fun in my decorating hence the little antlers above I bought at a place in the mountains last year. An antler shop. Nothing but.
I also made a citrus salad with some navel oranges, blood oranges and cuties with an olive oil and fresh basil vinaigrette. It also works with a honey mint dressing. 
 Speaking of citrus, we put my Meyer lemon tree and my husband's lime tree up in my daughter's room because it has great corner windows for winter sunlight and she only comes home every couple of weeks now that she has her own apartment. They are both full of blossoms right now and the fragrance is filling the entire upstairs. It's better than perfume.
Someone else has taken up residence there as well.

Since we've had plenty of days like this lately, I've also been craving and making some soups and broths.

 I made beef stock - with roasted beef bones and vegetables...It reminded me of the story I always used to read to my girls when they were little - Stone Soup.
I started to make a pureed vegetable soup for dinner one night, but I realized at this point I needed to use up the rest of those vegetables I bought so it turned into a Tuscan white bean soup with vegetables - cauliflower, shallots, carrots, asparagus, spinach, chard in which I sauteed most of the veges first then cooked in a little flour for thickening and simmered it all in chicken broth with cannellini beans, herbs and a leftover rind of parmigiana reggiano. A really nice warming winter soup.
I also really enjoy roasted root vegetables and sometimes for a simple dinner I just roast some chicken along with. I used one of our local mushroom-sage infused olive oils which gives everything a little extra flavor and a handful of my dried herbs and salt and pepper. Golden beets, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and brussel sprouts (ok these last two not root veges!)
The next day for lunch, I pureed the leftover roasted vegetables and added vegetable broth for a pureed soup for lunch. Along with some tea.

Speaking of tea, my brother gave me a set of beautiful little tea cups for Christmas along with some special green teas from Lupicia in San Francisco, so I've been tasting.

 I made a rice bowl for lunch one day. I lightly poached some salmon, steamed some brown rice then took a few mushrooms and some bok choy (I love bok choy!) and put it all in a bowl.
Then I brewed some fresh sencha tea and poured it over all to make a soup. The hot tea finished cooking the salmon and wilted the cabbage and mushrooms just enough. Simple and more on the bland side - it was just right for me.
My chickens have started laying eggs again! I've never had chickens start laying this early in the year. So nice to have fresh eggs again.
So I had to make my favorite Ina Garten
French herb baked eggs - although I added mushrooms and steamed asparagus for a little more substance. Oh so delicious.
Here's the view outside from our new garage door window

You would be excited too if you could have seen the old door. I think it's beautiful.
Speaking of snow, this is what living on a dirt road where it snows can make your car look like.
And while walking around the garden I was reminded that I didn't do garden clean up - yet again - last fall. The tomato cages should be clean and stacked up in the shed. 
As well as the pea trellis'. Oh well.
Back inside where it's warm I'm slowly making progress on some new things.
I love my home and animals and land but sometimes I dream of living in a little gnome-like cottage at the edge of a rain forest with a barrel of herbs outside the front door.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Notes From The City - San Francisco Ferry Building and Farmers' Market

Here in Fort Collins we have a winter farmers' market. I went once a few years ago, and, while the setting was lovely inside our little Opera Galleria, with some local fiddle music playing, and a few creatively set up market booths, I refused to pay 5.00 for a dozen organic eggs. There was overpriced whipped honey, equally expensive emu oil, and, as I was to discover, dry, 7.99 a pound home-raised beef from Wyoming. But I digress.
Every Saturday in San Francisco there is a morning market at the Ferry Building by the Bay Bridge. A beautiful setting, you can get fresh produce and goodies outside, while inside the permanent residents offer kitchen goods, local cheeses, unique garden products, and much more. You can also sample some of the city's food offerings as some restaurants set up food booths and offer an inexpensive way to try their menu items. 

The side of the Ferry Building Marketplace

The back side facing the bay.

The inside with its shops and restaurants.

It is usually quite crowded on a Saturday, but that is when the food trucks are there and farmers' market is in full swing. Not as grand nor as crowded as Grand Central in New York, but it has a bit of that feel.

Remember the pork products from the last post? Yes, here is where you can get them.

All the food booths are in the back by the bay side, looking at the bridge.

You will wait for your food, but it's usually worth it and then you can find a spot with a view - on a nice day preferably - and relax and eat.

There was music with a background the last time we went.

I tried this tasty egg sando from Namu Street Food - a Korean American restaurant. It had a fried egg, swiss cheese, pickled daikon, aioli, dijon, and avacado on a sourdough brioche bun, with homestyle potatoes.

There were also these gamja fries with spicy hot kimchee relish and a few other toppings,

We sat up here where it was a little less populous, enjoying the view of the bay and Bay Bridge on one side,

And more of the city and Telegraph Hill on the other.

We took a short walk along the bay front

where there was a ferry boat coming in and Treasure Island in the background,

while the Embarcadero center and buildings are on the opposite side.

You can also see the Embarcadero, ferry terminals, and cruise up to Fisherman's Wharf for about 25 dollars in one of these.

This is art. You can Google it if you're so inclined.

Easiest way to cruise in and out of traffic along the Embarcadero is on the back of one of these, which I seem to be doing a lot of lately. 

Our destination after the Market was Fisherman's 
Wharf, which, if you have the time and inclination, is about a 2 mile walk along the piers on the waterfront.

There is a good amount to see and experience along the way - from the Exploratorium and Science Museum, to cruise ships

One happened to be docked when we were scooting by that day.

To historic information along the way, and Alcatraz landing

Some spots are more jam-packed than others

Such as the very touristy Pier 39. This was after Christmas as you can see the Christmas tree is still up.

An equally busy Wharf, but in my opinion more unique with the local flavor of San Francisco still present.

This was one of the places that was popular for our special Prom dinners back in the day.

We stopped here at Boudin's bakery and restaurant to enjoy a glass of wine while waiting for our reservation at another eatery.

Walking up the stairs to the bar you can watch the behind the scenes, albeit carnival-like atmosphere, of sourdough bread production.

And enjoy some crab or sourdough pizza from the extensive menu - or...

...You could wait an hour for a table in a Disneyland-ish-tropical forest-like-aquarium place like the Rainforest Cafe. Which is what we did. Long story, but it's become kind of a funny tradition that my daughter has grown up with and still likes to do. Ok, they have decent tropical drinks, I like their clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, and then there are the "rain storms" and "gorillas" grunting and fish swimming around in large aquariums, but please, don't come to San Francisco and go here. It is NOT unique to San Francisco and I'll deny it if you tell people I like it. Oh dang. This is in print isn't it. 

Moving on...

Happy Friday! I think happy hour today will include a bit of Opera and cocktails.

Here is a version of what I've been listening to lately...because oftentimes I just need a little Opera in my life