Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy NEW Year!

I caught up with dear friends and shared lucky meal of black-eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens before heading up the hill to catch the fireworks at midnight from high above. This wobbly shot doesn't capture it, but I'll say that the illuminated boats gathered on the bay and the East Bay bridge light were almost as spectacular as the fireworks. 

cooking up good luck for the NEW year!

Every New Year's Day should have some black-eyed peas as the Southern folk believe it'll bring prosperity as Jewish belief is that it'll bring good luck... and so many other cultures share similar beliefs that there's gotta be something to it. Even if I'm just feeding my superstitious tendencies with hearty soul food that's just fine with me. I still have a few bay leaves collected a few months back and was eager to add them into the mix.
*I used this recipe below from Mad Hungry for the black-eyed peas, except I used a few strips of bacon instead of ham hock (I forgot to buy it) and cooked the onions and garlic in the rendered bacon fat first before adding other ingredients.

Black-eyed Peas
Ingredients1 pound dried black-eyed peas

  • 1 meaty smoked ham hock
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 bay leaves

  • Directions
  • 1.  In a large bowl, soak beans overnight covered by at least 2 inches of water. Drain and rinse beans
  • 2. Place beans, ham hock, onions, garlic, salt, and bay leaves in a large pot and add water to pot just to cover  beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • 3.  Remove from heat. Transfer ham hock to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones, chop meat, and return meat to the pot. Serve beans directly from the pot using a slotted spoon
  • Cornbread
  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup medium grind cornmeal 
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used all purpose) 
  • 1 tbsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional) 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

  • Directions
  • 1.  Sift together dry ingredients into a bowl. 
2.  Add egg, milk and butter. Beat until smooth, about one minute. Do not overbeat. 
3.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake in a greased 8-inch square pan for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with butter and honey (or agave). 

Collard Greens
You really need collard greens with black-eyed peas and cornbread so I chopped up a piece of bacon and a few cloves of garlic,  threw them into a warm skillet for a few minutes (don't let them brown) and then piled greens on top. I had Italian chard and spinach, as that's what is in season here in the bay area but any bitter green should work. Just let the greens wilt down on medium heat, stirring every once in a while until they're tender. Perfect easy trio of southern flavors. 

Good Luck! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

fancy chocolate cookie time

I've been working on a cookie recipe for a contest and this is where I'm at right now. The cookie is similar to a macaroon studded with toasted walnuts and the filling is a dense chocolate ganache made with coconut milk and chocolate. A friend named them the mayan a-choco-lypse! ;)

For The Cookies 
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3 cups toasted walnuts toasted and chopped (bake 320 for 10-15 min)
4 large egg whites (room temperature)
1 tbl vanilla 

For Frosting 
1/8 teaspoon cardamom 
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (before opening shake can to combine cream at the top)
1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips (or a 3 ounce chocolate bar)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1.  Preheat oven to 320 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. 

2.  Add in walnuts, egg whites, vanilla and stir until just combined. Drop by level tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets about two inches apart. 

3.  Bake until tops are glossy brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes. Leave cookies on parchment and slide them onto a wire rack to cool.  

4.   Make frosting: Place cardamom, pinch of salt, unsweetened coconut milk, and 6 ounces of chopped milk chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Gradually mix in cocoa powder with a whisk until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes to cool. Spread frosting on flat sides of half the cookies and top with remaining cookies. Approximately 1 heaped tablespoon of frosting per cookie sandwich. 

Final Ferry Building Farmers Market of the year

I slept in a bit and then pulled down the shades to sleep behind the winter sun a little bit longer before walking to the market. When I arrived, Gabriel ("the trumpet kid" ) was playing in front of a crowd out front. Seeing him play always makes me smile. Everyone was bundled up and it really started to feel like December. Dried beans looked like gems and a farmer easily persuaded me to buy his Italian Chard for my black eyed peas and cornbread which made me feel like a spoiled Northern Californian. I've photographed the lemon merengue tart so many times and decided that I needed to try it before the end of the year, so today was the day and after eating fish tacos I opted to have it packed up to eat later. Lavender bundles and grapefruits were so vibrant that my mind was shifting to summer sun mode. I braced myself against the wind as I walked along the bay to the East Bay Bridge before hopping a ride back on lemon yellow streetcar. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, MUNI!

This is the end of the Hyde and Powell street trolley turnaround with a view of the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, the bay, and of course the trolley as it is turned around by hand before being sent back up and over the hill.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

sugar high

More hard to resist sugar keeps coming my way and this time it's baklava. These gems arrived in a beautiful gold box with pistachio, cashew, and pinenuts from Shatila... in Michigan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

holiday traditions in SF

 The Fairmont to gaze upon the flags and wish for Peace on Earth and salivate over their gingerbread house (2 levels) that's edible with the exception of the toy train. Listened to the choir at Grace Cathedral and then off to the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

The rain came in and instead of flip flops I was toting an umbrella like so many others while waiting in a long cue to enter. This place was hoping with a Yiddish kids sing along, craft events and of course two exhibits I'd been so anxious to see with The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats and The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League 1936 - 1951. Bernard Cole's photo of a shoemaker eating lunch was one of my favorites. I was really moved when I saw the Story Corps Story Booth (above left with the bright light). Story Corps interviews are featured every Friday on NPR's Morning Edition. Learn more and listen here.  
Of course, no X-mas day in SF would be complete without Chinese takeout (it's tradition) and crab. Happy Holidays! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

x-mas eve in SF

 mailed out a package of homemade cookies at the absolute last minute, sipped a eggnog soy latte, enjoyed the sun and slight December warmth that made flip flops possible.
Happiness delivered in Chinatown and I looked a little like an elf with stripe overload while putting out cookies for Santa. A little after midnight someone walked down the street shaking sleigh bells along the way.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

stormy Sunday brunch

window seat to watch the stormy weather pass by with hot coffee in hand and brunch with a friend at Beast and the Hare. I almost always order eggs benedict, but this was a first as I ordered confit duck leg  instead of pork and it was a winning dish. My friend Sean renamed it "leg benedict".

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday party time

 My dear friend Mikayla had her 3rd Annual Classy Holiday Party was a hit with this stellar photobooth backdrop, hot apple cider, and an abundance of festive cheer. I made ginger mollasses cookies to bring along and the warm aroma mixed with the evergreen wreaths and was the perfect winter scent.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012


This school shines. Winter festival rehearsal started when the bell rang and the kids were adorable. The kindergarteners sang Funga Alafia, a West African (Nigeria) song in Yoruba and in English. Funga Alafia translates to "welcomes and greetings" with sweet verses like "My heart welcomes you" and I feel like it warmed everyones heart. All grades had recess together which turned into a chalk fiesta with the younger grades making tiny hopscotch and tic tac toe grids not much bigger than a leaf. There's a chalk picture of a kid flying a kite, the whole alphabet, and a clear view of the Pacific Ocean.

tea wisdom

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


new favorite sidewalk art, little dust faces in the garage windows, and more signs of "Winter" all on one charming little street in SF

Sunday, December 16, 2012

errands as an excuse to explore

It's been raining off and on here in SF and when a friend mentioned running a few errands downtown I decided to give her a ride and use it at a catalyst to explore parts of downtown a little more. I came across this breathtaking mural next to an art tool resource that I'll explore another day. I said hello to one of my favorite trees, walked over a new anchor, and finally made it to meat truck by the fabulous Avedano crew. This meat truck is ahead of the times and everything is local. I picked up a pack of sausages, a few salami and a duck stick.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

long walks in the rain

I declined a few requests to join in the SantaCon festivities and opted to walk downtown instead. A lot of produce in Chinatown was set out in boxes on the sidewalk to entice shoppers. The rain was a drizzle when I left the house and passed the still rigid boxes, but on my way back home the rain and wind grew strong turning the fruit into glowing shiny neon gems.

Friday, December 14, 2012

be kind

the universe could use more love. I went for a long walk, up and over SF hills to help clear my head and heavy heart. I snapped this photo with a long shutter speed and moved a touch and ended up with small heart motion streaks... or maybe my phone just picked up on the extra love floating around.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

easy start to the day

I walked down the hill to start my day with a cup of coffee at a friendly new neighborhood coffee shop. I brought a book to read and just reveled in my short commute for the day. After work I stopped in to say hello to these friendly little finches. I really wanted to give them hugs and let me play with the green parrots that frolic free. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

inspiration and lady time in the east bay

I had the day off before an art teaching job that'll last a few weeks so I headed to the east bay to spend some time with my friend Bethany and do a little inspiration shopping. We planned to meet on 4th street in Berkeley and she knows where to find me. I was looking at jewelry in Nest when she found me and said that she knew I'd probably be at Nest or Erica Tanov and she was right. The pics above are from Erica Tanov  which is one of my favorite local shops. They almost always have the door open and I loved that a few leaves drifted in. Current artwork up by Emily Payne  had us swooning and planning craft dates. The pompom necklace and illuminated trees that arch over 4th street were festive bits of joy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

dreamy eucalyptus sway at sunset

studio sale

My morning filled up quickly with a friends graduation ceremony, but I still managed to get to Lisa Congdon's studio sale. I can only imagine all of the fabulous art that went earlier in the day. Her studio was just as colorful, inspiring, and welcoming as I'd hoped it'd be. I look forward to another studio sale and next time I'll show up early and start saving now.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

X-mas in the Mission

headed to the Mission for a friends birthday dinner at Mission Chinese  I insisted we roam the block while waiting for an open table. This corner store sums up X-mas in the Mission with an abundance of produce, bottles of soda, banners above, and this sweet tree by the door to welcome you.

feeling festive

The trolleys are trimmed with wreaths and garland, citrus is everywhere, and I spotted smores topped creme brulee on Market street. Starting to feel a little more like winter.