Saturday, December 12, 2009

Trip by train to New Mexico

We left Sacramento at 6:00a.m.headed for Bakersfield where we transferred to a bus to get to Union Station, Los Angeles. Was interesting traveling through the valley because we saw all sorts of crops. This valley is big.
Union Station is beautiful and hugh. Not only is it a train station but it is the Metrolink station. So we saw lots of movement of communters and also train travelers.
After about 4 hours of waiting around we got on our train for Albuquerque, made a reservation for dinner in the dining car and changed our sleeping accomodations from a roomette to a room (shower & toilet included). So from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. the next morning we traveled in a lot of comfort.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Last night it seemed as if we were carried away to a small dark bodega by the Fado singer Mariza. What was even more captivating was the musician who played the lute-like Portuguese guitar (guirarra Portuguesa). According to the write-up, the resonant, unmistakable sound of this 12 string guitar is one of the defining characteristics of "fado".
Mariza told us that she was born in Mozambique of a Portuguese father and an African mother. They moved to Lisbon when she was three and her family opened a tavern where fado musicians entertained on weekends. This history comes through in her music.
We are fans!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Broccoli Rabe with Butternut squash & Italian Sausage

Today was a marvelous day! I made a deal with my granddaughter to help me harvest my neighbor's persimmons(the Fuyu kind) and help peel the persimmons to get them ready to dehydrate and I would take her to Macy's to window shop for a dress for her graduation from middle-school. She asked a girlfriend to help and we got so much done in a short time. Then we went shopping and that was delightful.
These two young girls lit into the junior girl dress area like hummingbirds flitting from blossom to blossom. Their joys of delight were wonderful to hear. Before I knew it they each had 6 dresses that they promptly took into the dressing rooms. I was outside to help when they needed zipping up or tying a bow. As they each tried on a dress, they came out of the dressing room to show me and then went back into the dressing room to snap a picture of the two of them by means of their phones through the mirror. That was repeated 6 times and then they went out and found six more dresses to try on following the same procedure. By this time I had found a chair to sit on. It was a great excursion!

So for dinner tonight I just had to use the broccoli rabe and butternut squash that had arrived in my Farm Fresh Box on Wed. I had never cooked the rabe so went on the internet to see if I could get some ideas. Found a lovely recipe calling for Italian sausage, the rabe and farfalle noodles. Should mention that several other pastas were suggested. Also the recipe that I used did not call for butternut squash but as I was cooking the pasta I added cubes of unpeeled butternut squash to the boiling water. Then I fished the pasta out when it was done and let the butternut squash cook a little longer. I also didn't use hot Italian sausage that was called for so I added a little cayenne pepper to the mixture. Was a great dish!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Autumn Colors

The leaves are falling quickly now. I've enjoyed the color so much that I couldn't resist taking a picture. The bare branches of the persimmon tree always signal the start of our foggy season. I am going to miss the sun.
So I got in and finished my wool sweater in time for the cold. This sweater is an Elsebeth Lavold pattern by the name of Enigma. It is a Mosaic pattern which didn't mean anything to me until I started it but it is a lot simpler to knit than it looks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Persimmons dehydrating

This dehydrator was a gift from our son who decided he didn't have time to make jerky.
So one day in the mail we get a package and it just happened to coincide with the harvest of persimmons. I have a fuyu persimmon in the front yard but this year there wasn't a one on the tree. But my neighbor who has an almost seedless small fuyu tree full of fruit that she wasn't going to use offered them to us.

We have bags of persimmons.

So what you see is my first attempt to dehydrate anything. I did peel the persimmons and slice them about 3/8 inches thick. The dehydrator book suggested different things to do with fruit but a friend who had dried persimmons before said they didn't need any thing. Looks like it is going to take about six hours to dry this batch - I've tasted some and the dried persimmons are delicious.

The finished product is delicious. It took about 6 hours to dehydrate.

I think I will let some of the remaining fruit get soft so I can make some persimmon,date-nut bars with lemon frosting to give to friends at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
11/13 I'm on my 3rd batch of persimmons. I may give dried persimmons instead of the bar cookies. Much healthier and almost as delicious.

Alexandra's Kitchen's Bolzano Apple Cake

Well, I've sure been busy today. Must have been hungry also because after reading this recipe on Alexandra's site, I got in and baked it. I didn't have Fuji apples but yellow delicious so that's what I used. Also didn't have vanilla bean so I used Mexican vanilla which has a divine taste. I tasted the batter and it reminded me of the homemade Mexican vanilla icecream that we make in the summer. I can hardly wait to eat the finished product.

Fri. night Japanese Conversation class' 1 min. speech

一分スピーチはサンフランシスコの旅行について話します。先週の週末は高校の同窓会がありました。卒業の五十四年のパーテイでした。行われたホテルの名前はソフテルです。すばらしいホテルです。晩ご飯とダンスパーテイがよかったです。バンドの音楽は五十年代でした。たくさんダンスをしました。週末で一番大好きなことは有名なベーカリーにいくことです。名前は"Tartine's"です。(Alexandra'sKitchenのインターネットのサイトでTartine'sベーカリーはおいしいと言った。)べーカリーは"Mission Dolores"の方面です。駐車場は遠すぎるのでアーニーは車でブロックと回っている間べーかりで私はチョコレトイクレアとレモンバルを買っていました。とても楽しい週末でした。
Forgive the errors-I'm such a beginner. After our hour's class we bring out the food & wine and have a more informal chat. I love Friday night's gathering.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bitten's Sweet Potato Salad

I like the color better on this picture. So much so I think I'll make this for tonight's get-together.
What do you think? Does one picure look more inviting than the other? I have another computer class next week and I'm going to focus on enhancing pictures. I think I need a better camera.

Well, I can't believe I didn't post this dish. It is one delicious recipe. We loved the taste of the sweet potatos in contrast to the sauteed purple onions, lots of cilantro and lime juice. The black beans added just the right amount of subduing taste. Check out N.Y.Times Bitten for the recipe

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bitten's polenta without fear plus Alexandra's Kitchen's take

Well, didn't get to cooking as soon as I wanted as we went to my H.S.reunion dinner/dance in Bay Area shortly after I got the box. Had a great time as I did get to talk to old friends and dance a few swing dances. On the way home through S.F. we went to a bakery/restaurant I had read about on Alexandra's Kitchen. Tartine's at 600 Guererro in the Mission. Worth the drive around and around the blocks to find parking. I won't go into all the goodies I bought but Tartine's has a bar/restaurant on Valencia that I plan to go back to. The menu looked divine.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I cooked up Bitten's Polenta without Fear and Alexandra's take on a 1 person meal with stir-fried chard with onion & garlic on top of the polenta, with a fried egg on top of that. It was delicious. My photography doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farm Fresh Oct. 22, 2009

Well, here it is another week has passed and I've been enjoying reading Bitten who makes the best recipes. I tried his Bok Choy with Shiitake and Oyster Sauce stir-fry with great results. I think it really helps that he makes little videos that you can access from the New York Times, Bitten on line. I added sliced scallops to this recipe and that's what I ate over rice. At the same meal I served a Beef Stew with Prunes to people who don't like seafood. Got this recipe also from Mark Bittman.

It's like Christmas when I open the door to get the newspaper in the morning and there is the box. I can't wait to open it and find out what treasures are inside. Today there was more fruit than vegetables which was okay with me. Purple pears, fuyu persimmons, black seedless grapes, and gala apples. A bunch of beets like last month plus swiss chard, arugula, green beans, yellow zuccini, red bell peppers, radishes and pumpkin. Can't decide where to start. More later

This tomato, cheese, red bell pepper & Japanese eggplant tart was delicious. I got the idea from Alexandra's Kitchen. I used her recipe with a few changes. Her photography is incredible and you will just have to prepare the dish. Look for the Tomato,Corn,cheese galette on the list of her posts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Last produce of container garden

The remnants of the typhoon from Japan hit this week and really messed up my earthbox garden. But no hurting the Japanese eggplant and this morning I harvested a bunch along with some pretty small peppers. Still have cherry tomatoes although they tried kissing the ground during the storm. The other tomatoes are a pale orange which leads me to believe I should pick them & fry them up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bitten's recipes

Last night we had our Friday night Japanese Conversation class at my house. It's a fun get-together and we always have food and drink after the class. This is one of the desserts we ate. I got the recipe from The New York Times' Bitten's column. There was even a video so you could see how he made it. Boy, am I a fan of this column! This Almond Frittata is made in a most unusual way - check it out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

knitted project-don't let the picture scare you.

It's a great windy day - weather has dropped by almost 20 degrees- great for wearing a sweater that I just completed. The yarn for this sweater is bamboo and I thought it would be great for summer wear, what with all the lacy, open features of the knit. Turns out it is feel good yarn but very heavy and warm. Surprised me. So I will wear a cotton knit shirt under it in the spring & autumm. My knitting compadres at Rumpelstiltskin had many ideas on how to wear it.
Also had another computer class today and I'm learning another way to watermark the photos. Really a short cut from the first way I did it. But I haven't quite mastered it - so next week I'll go in with a lot more questions.
Now I'm picking up a long sleeve wool sweater I quit working on when summer hit. Only have the sleeves to finish. Piece of cake!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Well, I'm not really obsessed with food although this site mainly talks about food. So be it.
I want to share a site that has given me some incredible tastes lately. New York Time's Mark Bitten on Food has a video on his site that shows you how to make soba spinach salad that is delicious.
I brought this salad to my own birthday dinner this weekend. My daughter in law made a tandoori chicken bar-be-que that was delicious which she got from Cook Pad, a Japanese site. She even marinated thickly sliced onions in the tandoori sauce and then sauteed the onions while our son cooked the chicken on the barbeque. It was a great meal with some favorite people.
Our daughter and her husband gave me a birthday dinner that was as simple as it was delicious. It was a chili-dog with coleslaw and any condiment you wanted to add. I love lots of dijon mustard so that's what I added. Then the four of us watched a movie and then visited. It was another perfect birthday. The grandkids were doing their own activities so we got a taste of things to come. NO KIDS!
Using some of the tomatoes I've been growing in another of Bitten's recipe's, Pappa al Pomodoro, was a comfort food success the other night. I used a half a loaf of sour dough french bread but I think you could substitue using everything from pasta to rice and still have quite a success. After the tomatoes are gone, I plan to use canned chopped tomatoes.
Well no pictures. I should have photographed the Chirashi Zushi that I ordered when a friend took me out for my birthday but I didn't think about it. The Banzai do a good job with their sashimi.
Enough talk about food - till next time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Farm Fresh Produce

Today we got our monthly box of vegetables and fruit from Farm Fresh To You an organic farm that delivers produce the same day picked. Recipes that use the vegetables and fruit are always included in the box. So today I hope to turn these beets into beet chips(using a low temp. oven).
Also got more heirloom tomatoes and I am going to make a"Pappa al Pomodoro" Tomato Soup With Bread. IT IS A COOKING FRENZY DAY!!! Whopee ! More hopefully this afternoon.

Beet Chips

Well these were easy to make and salty/crunchy but the finished product was dark like a beet.

1 bunch beets (there were 3 in my bunch)
1-cup water
1-cup sugar
Olive oil
Peel beets with a vegetable peeler, then slice thin with a slicer or knife, using stems as handles.

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a 3 -quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add beets, then remove pan from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Drain beets in a colander, discarding liquid, then let stand in colander 15 minutes more.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat over to 225 degrees F.
Grease a shallow baking pan with olive oil, then arrange beet slices snugly in 1 layer. Season beets with salt and pepper.

Bake beets until dry, about 1 hour. Immediately transfer chips to a rack to cool. Chips will crisp as they cool. Serve immediately.

Well, I enjoyed these chips and had to put them away to keep from eating them up. But not everyone liked them. I have no idea how to store them or how long they will keep. I fried potatoes with eggplant, onions and garlic yesterday and it turned out okay. Maybe I'll add the beets to the leftovers. Though I'm afraid it will turn the mixture pink.
I didn't cook as much as I thought I would. Got caught up in reading a novel by Margaret Atwood.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bruchetta for lunch

There are still tomatoes ripening and the large eggplant is growing at least 5. The "nasu" started blossoming again and I guess there will be another round of Japanese eggplant coming. Oh, am I going to miss the vegetable garden! I can see the basil is slowing down and today it was a little difficult to find the amount of basil I wanted for the bruchetta. Lately I've been fixing a bruchetta and eggplant mixture for pasta that is my favorite.

The leaves are looking a little peaked. We'll see if the flowers develop.

But I'll have bruchetta for a while longer. They were selling basil plants in the vegetable section of the grocery store today.
Big event this afternoon is a reunion potluck of the teachers of the high school I taught at. It will be fun to see what every one is doing these days. I'm bringing a butter lettuce, mushroom, purple onion & mandarin orange salad with homemade blue cheese vinaigrette dressing.

As you might have guessed, I am learning to do all kinds of things with this site. Everything from taking pictures, to watermarking them to learning how to upload them. I have a lesson tomorrow and will ask to be reminded on how to link a work to someone's site.
Cheers! ダイアナ

Take a look at "Tonight's dinner" at gingergarden

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kobe Cream

Wish I could claim this lovely bun filled with a cream filling but it comes from a new bakery called Mahoroba. Some of the offerings in this bakery make you think you are back in Japan.
My grandkids think it is a taste of home. As it was my turn to bring a goody to my calligraphy class, I remembered having a Kobe Cream that was so special. I think the owners of this bakery have one in Kobe. Sacramento is living big!

読み方:秋夜運筆の時 (しゅうやうんびつのとき)

Fall nights, the time for writing. (My interpretation)

Much work is still needed on this assignment. The style is called sousho 草書(そうしょ)or grass style (of Japanese calligraphy). Sensei always corrects with this color ink. I'm lucky to not have more marks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calligraphy translation is my interpretation

"Preserve our culture which is our fortune"
This is the lesson for September that our class is practicing. The sample on this blog is one of mine before my sensei corrected it. The translation is also my interpretation. I know there must be a better one but this gives the essence of the work. We practice the work of Kampo Sensei.
I took the month of August off and it shows.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eating again with friends

This tofu,shitake, kimchee flavored stew came to the table bubbling hot. We cracked an egg into the stew and I let mine cook a little before I mixed it in. In the little dishes were: daikon in kimchee sauce, sauteed squash with a garlic/sesame flavor, boiled potato, a cucumber tsukemono, kimchee, spinach with sesame and finally, bean sprouts. Also a big bowl of rice. Delicious meal! and a nice change from the Julia Child style of cooking from the previous days.
My clothes are getting tight. Oh Oh!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tortilla de Patata

Tonight Obachan gave me the site and the instructions on how to watermark my photos. Thanks to a helpful friend.
One of the times I studied in Spain, the family I lived with taught me how to prepare the tortilla de patata. The tortilla with a green salad and french bread and a glass of red wine makes a wonderful meal.
On the table I have 2 skillets, a colander used to get the water from the potatoes & later to drain a little of the olive oil from the potato egg mixture, a bowl & whisk, measuring spoons and cup, and 2 large plates (they should be able to cover the skillet) and a large pot.
6 large potatoes, 2 onions (chopped), 1 cup olive oil, 4 eggs, and 2 tsp. salt
Tomorrow I'll post some more pictures & instructions. Too tired tonight.

Well, I should have included the finished product first so that you could have an idea of what I was talking about but it was too much to handle that night. I have a series of pictures that demostrate the process but it might be overkill for many. I hope I can show enough of the essentials.

1. Pare the potatoes then cut them into small chunks and/or slice them into water so they won't .
get dark.
Once the potatoes are cut, I chop the onions, put them in a bowl and set them aside.
In another bowl crack the 4 eggs, add 1 tsp. of salt & whip them with a fork or a whip. Set aside.

Now we're ready to add 1 cup olive oil to the skillet, drain the potatoes and add to the skillet when the oil is heated. Stir the potatoes so that the oil gets mixed throughout the potatoes. Add 1 tsp. salt and repeat the stirring. Fry the potatoes for about 5 minutes before adding the chopped onion. Continue frying until the potatoes and onions are cooked.
I'll finish this tonight. :)
Well, a little late but the next step is to drain some of the olive oil from the potato/onion mixture. I found putting the colander in a container helps to collect oil.

Pour the mixture from the colander into a bowl and then add the beaten eggs to the potato mixture. Reheat the skillet, add a spoonful of the oil to the skillet and pour in the egg/potato mixture.

Press on the mixture in the skillet so that there are no gaps and that the tortilla is solid. I also go around the edges to push it in slightly from the side so that it is solid. The heat should be between medium and high.

The whole time you should be moving the skillet back & forth on the burner so that the tortilla doesn't burn. The tortilla is ready to be turned out on the plate when you can see -OOPS! I thought you would be able to see the little spaces where the air bubbles had come to the surface but you can't. Maybe lifting the tortilla carefully at the side of the skillet you can tell if it is ready.

I put a plate over the tortilla and very carefully using hot pads I turn the skillet over.

I've just lifted the skillet off of the tortilla. Then I put a tablespoon of oil in the skillet and gently slid the tortilla from the plate into the hot skillet. Keep moving the skillet on the burner and cook for
a few minutes until the other side is done. How do you know it's done? Well I repeat the process of putting the plate on the tortilla and turning it over. If you see it isn't cooked enough, put it back in the skillet for a few minutes more. If you think it is done, but you don't like the color of that side of the tortilla, I get another plate ,cover the tortilla and turn it over. I think that is what I did with this tortilla.

I have cut this tortilla into squares, stuck a toothpick in the squares and taken the dish to parties as an appetizer. In Spain we have ordered rolls with tortilla as a filling. When I was a poor student in Spain, one of the cheapest meals I had was in a bar standing at the counter with a "ración" of tortilla and a glass of"tinto". Bread always came with the order.
Hope you try the dish.

State Fair Time

Went to the State Fair last weekend and sampled some of my favorite exhibits. The driving force to get to the fair was to see a family friend show his pig as part of the Future Farmers of America Organization at his High School. This was his first venture into raising an animal and he has learned a lot. His pig sold after the competition for three dollars a pound so he retrieved his costs.
I wish I had taken a picture of the cinnamon roll I ate. It is one of my favorite things to eat at the fair and every year the cinnamon rolls are great. Not at all disappointed by the food but many of the counties didn't show up to advertise their agriculture and location.
The economy has played a part with many of the exhibits.
The Industrial Arts exhibit seemed to have had only local contributions. In the past there has been exquisite furniture made by high school students entered from all over California. I hope the arts are still taught in the school.
The demonstration garden gave me some ideas for next year's planting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Exclusively Food's Vegetable Slice Recipe's Results ¡Olé!

I'm trying to learn how to put a watermark on my photos. This a.m. I saw a new recipe on Exclusively Food's Blog and tried it out. Delicious! even if I had to make a few changes to fit the food I had in my frig. It turned out great. I took a picture & played with it & hopefully the watermark comes through. It didn't. This is going to take work.