Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Today is The Day!

Today's the day guys! It is International Blog Day! Through the inspiration of Nir Ofir
blog day as THE has been established as a day to get to know more bloggers! Why August 31? Because when you write the date 31o8 it is the closest number to configure the name blog! Time to mosey beyond your neighborhood and give up five new bloggers you've been reading or have just recently discovered. What a great way to make new friends and neighbors!

This morning I was visiting Claire's place and came across Little Birds. Well since I am a bird by name I just had to give her a nod!

Another place I found this morning while doing some disaster research I stumbled upon NOLA cuisine. Cajun/Creole cooking are favorites of mine, I'm looking forward to getting to her very well. There's nothing better than a good plate of Etouffe!

Another cooking blog I stumbled upon this morning is Knife Skills. Christine is another Chef in Training. I love reading these kinds of blogs because it helps to reinforce the fact that no one is too old or too ingrained in another profession to try something new. Good on ya Christine!

One I don't have on my links list but visit on a daily basis is one very different. Susan is an amazing Mom, wife and MUSIC LOVER! She knows more about doom metal than anyone I know her age. She has an exellent repetoire of music and takes amazing photographs. I'm staying young through Susan and also learning that appreciating metal isn't a sin! ;-)

A blog I read at least once a week is Kitchenette. She lives in Switzerland with her husband and children and I love to hear what life is like on the other side of the globe!

That's my five! I have so many others to share, maybe another post sometime.

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I have been mesmerized by images seen on TV. Never would I have imagined the entire city of New Orleans would be utterly gone. I have not had the pleasure of visiting this city but I do have friends that have spent time there. It is hard to imagine that gone are Brennan's, Cafe duMonde, basically the 3000 restaurants that make New Orleans the place to go for great food and family style dining.

My heart is renched for friends and acquaintences in Houma. You see I had a cajun themed retail store a few years back and made quite a few friends in and around New Iberia. My heart breaks for all of them. We hope you'll be able to recover from this horrific ordeal.

What can we do? Go give cash, or blood. Now. And say a prayer or two.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

New MS Kids

The new issue of MS Kids came to my house today via the mail. It has some of the cutest cupcakes and Halloween ideas! If you don't subcribe run, don't walk, to the newsstand and pick up your copy!

Here's my favorite photo (for obvious reasons):

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Julian Mini Meet WCM & C3

Julian Mini Meet WCM & C3
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Today because of the heat, we decided to join a good groups of friends - West Coast Minis and Cooper Club for Charity better known as c3 - and go for a drive. A group of c3ers left from LA at 6:30 this morning, met another group at 8 in Corona. The rest of us picked up from there along the way. We met at Pala road in Fallbrook and began driving thr chosen map at 9 a.m. It was designed to be a good road test of twisties!

This is a picture at Lake Henshaw. We stopped halfway to Julian, after a few good twisty roads, to take some pictures and get some water. Little did we know the heat would follow us so well. At this stop it was 96.

After a quick break we finished the run to Julian. The first part of the group took off like gangbusters, while we (the other 20+ minis) tooled along, made a wrong turn, turned around and then took a small 9 mile really twisty road! Oh my! Finally we found our way around to Julian and it was only 101! We had a slice of good Julian pie (which I did not photograph) and headed for home.

We had a great time and look forward to going on another group run again. Hey guys let's do the beach next time!

UPDATE: Sheryl, a c3 motoring buddy, sent me a couple of pictures! Thank you Sheryl! Here is the pie!


all that is left

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Too Hot!

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
I've been a bit lazy lately. The heast has been above 100 here for days and I am sooooo ready for it to be autumn. I thought I'd bake some spice cupcakes and put some harvest color sprinkles on top. Maybe it'll hurry the cool of autumn along! Maybe not, it's fun to dream.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

London - Here they come!

Reuters is running a story that should interest Londoners today. America's favorite grocery store is heading your way! Long known as THE natural foods grocer by many Americans, Londoners will be quite pleased when the doors open to their own store! My friend Michelle, just might have a reason to leave Hawaii and vacation in London! Actually, Whole Foods has had a presence in the UK since 2004 as Fresh and Wilds, however, this new store will be under the Whole Foods banner.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Yesterday was one of the best. We all joined my nephew and his new bride in a very nice celebration of marriage. A good time was had by all.

My favorite part however, was learning, his grandaparents on his dad's side were celebrating their 57th anniversary of marriage on this day too. It culminated in the happy couples dancing to the song "In the Still of the Night". I get all misty of how wonderful that dance floor looked with new bride and groom sharing the floor with his parents and his grandparents. It was a sight to behold three generations of "love". Each are still hopelessly devoted to the other and is proof that some things do last forever!

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Which Foods are Best for You?

According to a PRN newswire, Minneapolis has been chosen as the first city in a four city trial of Sciona Inc.'s genetic testing for consumers. You can collect a DNA sample, fill out a diet survey and submit it for evaluation. The pharmacist will then sit down with you and let you know what you should be eating according to the evaluation and your lifestyle factors. The test bases the diet on five factors: Antioxidant/Detaoxification assessment; Bone Health assessment; Heart Health assessment; Inflammation assessment and Insulin Resistance assessment.

This would be an excellent tool to use to formulate an eating plan that would benefit an indivuals health needs. It would seem that this would far outwiegh the guessing game that is called the "Pyramid". I just remembered I have a friend who just moved to Minneapolis! I'm going to call her and see if she'll be a study candidate for us. This might be very interesting! My husband just said he wouldn't want someone else having his DNA, creeps him out. I'm glad he doesn't live in Minneapolis - I'd have to find a different candidate ;-).

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thomas Keller has the Answer

According to a report from CNN - September 1, 2005 Thomas Keller is again breaking new ground in the restaurant business. Per Se, his famously famous top tiered Manhattan restaurant, will begin adding a 20% charge to diners tabs in lieu of tips.

Keller is trying to bridge the gap between wait staff and kitchen staff wages. Good FOH (front of the house) staff can makes near $100,000 a year in top tiered dining establishements and the BOH (back of the house) staff plods along in the $30,000 range no matter how good their food is prepared. I have thought for years the gap was too far apart. Many times I have eaten a fabulous meal only to be utterly disappointed with the service. Unfortunately there was never a way to send a message to the BOH to thank them for their efforts. I could only stiff the FOH on tips for thier lousy service. I have always wished I could tip the BOH. Then again there are those customers who, no matter what, will not be satisfied. In this scenario the FOH really earns their tips and usually not from these picky people. On average picky people are crummy tippers.

While I am not sure diners will appreciate the 20% surcharge to their meal, does anyone have a better solution? The problem lies with paying BOH one standard wage and allowing the FOH to be paid a much lower hourly wage in leiu of tips. The disparity does need a revamp. No one should have to grovel to be paid. Also the generosity of an individual depends not only on the FOH, but also the BOH. So why does one get tipped and one not? If we don't like the surcharge, we need to offer a different way of handling the tip thing. I'd like to hear from both sides ofthis fence on the issue. Are we short changing the wait staff by a surcharge of 20% while spreading the 20% over the entire staff by way of a better hourly wage?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Few of My Favorite Things

In the spirit of getting to know you...I present my version of "A few of My Favorite Things". People often see me as too serious or to concentrated on one tunnel view. My version of the list is a light hearted view of me. So I copied this from S'mee in hopes that y'all will get a better view of the very well rounded me! This meme started (as far as I know) at Weeding the Garden. It is not a pass along meme. If you like it, copy it and post on your blog or in the comments. Remember, to sing the song as you read long and pretend your are Maria!

A Few of My Favorite Things.

Colour: Blue - any shade please. It is not reflective of my personality at all but there's nothing better than a bluebonnet in springtime!
Smell: Chocolate croissants.
Article of Clothing: A great three quarter length blouse or T. Trinny and Susannah agree.
Ice Cream: BaskinRobbins Chocolate Mint if I'm in the mood. If not Chunk Monkey please!
Fast Food Place: Sorry not a fan. Any will do if I must. But I'd rather just grab a scone from Starbucks if a sit down place isn't in the cards.
Time of the Day: 2 a.m. There is nothing better than the sound of everyone peacefully asleep but me. All is right with the world.
Laundry Detergant: Surf. Actually not a favorite, is laundry detergent supposed to be a favorite?
Song: The Trees - Rush, Sweet Addiction - Diamond Rio, With Arms Wide Open - Creed, Keep Young and Beautiful - Annie Lennox. Really there are no favorite songs because my list would be sooooo long it would be rediculous. I truly love music in all forms. I am perfectly satisfied with opera, country, bluegrass, irish, pop, rock, heavy metal, and progressive rock, and pretty much everything in between. It's why I love Kulturblog so much!
Flower: oops already gave that away! Texas Bluebonnets. (in fact my ashes will be sprinkled over the Texas Hill country where the bluebonnets grow, someday)
TV Show: Currently No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain
Actor/Actress: ummm. I can tell who I can't stand easier. I do like Juliette Binoche. Actors? Tom Hanks of course.
Place to Shop: Crate and Barrel outlets. Trader Joe's or Bristol Farms for provisions.
Vacation Spot: I love my home. There is nothing better than my own bed. I do love day tripping though.
Dream Car: I own it - Mini Cooper
Movie: Empire of the Sun
Restaurant: Do I have to choose? It really depends on the mood I'm in, but for everyday faire I'd choose Con Pane, A Rustic Bakery in Pt. Loma. Dining: Anywhere I can get an excellent steak.
Theme Park: Knott's Berry Farm
Animal: Harley - the best grey tabby to ever live. Did someone say turkey?
Day of the Week: Saturday California freeways are more kind on Saturday
Do you collect anything?: Cookbooks, memories
Favorite Hobby: Food & Photography
Place I want to travel that I have never been: Ireland
Something I want to do before I die: Actually become a certified helicopter pilot
Favorite Snack Food: Chocolate in small bites. Bugles! Junior Mints.
Favorite Meal: Thanksgiving dinner. Just the smell of turkey and gravy and dressing and the memories those smells emit are wonderful.

Okay now off on your way. Add to the list to suit you and let us know when your list is ready!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Even more Wow!

I just read an announcement made by Hershey's Inc. They have formed a wholly owned subsidiary called Artisan Confections Company. Artisan has just completed the purchase of Joseph Schmidt Confections. For those of you not in the know Joseph Schmidt is one of San Francisco's favorite chocolatiers. They have some of the cutest chocolates made in America. I just love their little easter duckies! You can find them in fine food stores across the country. Artisan also acquired the two retail stores operated by Joseph Schmidt in San Fancisco.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

The post in which you see inside my brain

I am so....oh I don't know, unsettled, I guess is the word I'm searching to use.

We live in this wonderful world of ours. We enjoy abundance at every corner. I love to fool myself that growing up a poor child in America gave me an edge on the rest of the world. It gave me an edge, but not on the rest of the world. Not by a longshot. As I said before, we enjoy abundance at every turn. Of course there are others that enjoy more than most, and there are those who do go to bed without eating. However, after seeing the results of a nation's president embarrassed by the starvation happening in his country and his refusal to visit the area until it was in epidemic stages of turmoil, I can only say that the numerous times I went hungry as a child were really nothing.

Niger has me so incredibly stressed. The images of childen too starved to even drink water are haunting. We must do something. So I did that. I donated to the humanitarian arm of the LDS church. They have an excellent distribution system and have loaded a plane filled with 80 million pounds of relief supplies expected today in Niger. In conjuction with Catholic Relief Services it will be distributed to those in need. There, I feel much better.

But I don't. Because of this. It is the most eye opening and conscience jarring piece of journalism I've read since this. (registration required; go to and get a code if you don't want to register) These types of articles give me insomnia a night. We have people starving a world away and Americans are turning food into trash to the tune of 100 million pounds a year. What?!?!?!?!? We can't make a profit from harvesting and selling 60,000 pounds of peaches so let's plow under the field. Only in America.

Lately I've been eating in a few restaurants due to traveling. Each meal has been an abundance of excess. Easily each meal could have been eaten by two people. A baked potato the same size as the shoe I wear (a 6.5, thank you). The local McDonalds is selling a small drink for $1.09. However if you decide to go for the gusto and order a super large one they'll sell it to you for 64 cents. Incredible. I can have a glass of something that isn't good for me in quantities no one person should drink in a days time for less than half of what a small serving will cost.

Throwing away food. Excess in consumption. Plowing under fields of food because the food can't be sold at a profit. Where does it end? The farmers will climb my frame because everyone wants to control what farmers do. The restauranteurs will tell me it's what their customers want: large plates of food that no one should really eat at one sitting. Friends and neighbors tell me that sometimes they just don't feel like eating what they have purchased and toss that three day old meat because it went bad waiting to be cooked. It seems we have reached a conundrum. I cannot solve these problems, however I must do something.

What can I do about this? I can begin in small steps to change my corner of the world. I can continue donating excess monies to humanitarian entities. I can choose, while eating in restaurants, to order half orders or split an order with another person. I can shop daily or weekly with a list and stick to my eating plan. I can adopt an old adage taught me by a wise old woman: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I cannot go to Niger. I can however remember them everyday and be more aware of how my actions affect the lives of those people around the globe. We can all do those things. Will someone join me?

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National Fig Week

Mission Figs
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
August 23th marks the beginning of National Fig Week!

Figs are a very interesting fruit. In fact thy're not really a fruit! They're a flower that has folded in on itself providing a very tasty little snack.

Figs were first brought to the U.S. by Spaniards. San Diego was their first California home. The first place I encountered a fig was in Oceanside, California. We had a fig tree growing in the front yard. The flavor of figs still takes me back to the wonderful years spent in the hot sun, smelling the salt air and snagging a fresh fig off the tree. Mmmmm.

I didn't know back then how good these little portable snacks were for you. In fact, we all love to talk about the antioxidant benefits of blueberries and other berries. Did you know that figs have higher antioxidants (polyphenols) than any other fruit? The polyphenol level of blueberries is about 325mg compared to figs at 1025mg for the same serving size!

Then when you compare the potassium levels you have an even greater reason to eat these on a daily basis. Everyone knows that you need to keep your potassium levels in balance, especially runners. Most people will grab a banana and think they're covered. Well, sort of, in a 100 gram serving of figs you get 609 mg of ptoassium. Bananas in the same amount only give you 257mg. The closest fruit to figs in potassium levels are dates at 600mg.

Figs are also very high in fiber - in a serving of figs you get 20% of your daily requirement as established by the USDA.

Calimyrna Fig Go grab yourself a few figs!

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Please comply, restauranteurs.

In a bold move, New York City's health department has asked all city restaurants stop using trans fats in their food preparation, the New York Times reports. To say this is a bold move is really an understatement. 30 to 60 percent of all of the cities' restaurants use trans fats currently in their menus. The request comes on the heels of a report that heart diseas has become New York's largest killer.

The health department is the first in the nation to make such a request in the United States. I applaud them. The harm trans fat can do to a body can be likened to asbestos exposure. Not only do trans fats build placque in your veins but it also inhibits good fats from doing thier job in reducing cholesterol. Denmark was the first country in the world to ban them all together in 2003, Canada has a similar ban up for consideration. I would hope that other cities will follow New York's lead. More on trans fats to come.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ethos Water

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
I went on a road trip this week to Utah. We stopped at Starbucks our second day out. The first thing I noticed while ordering my chocolate cream frappuccino was the bottle. What bottle? The Ethos water bottle. There it was in all its blue and black splendor. Later in the week while checking my email I noticed a note from Johnathon and Peter. They wanted me to know I could pick up Ethos at Starbucks too.

Soooooo. All of you out there not quite knowing what to do about world food and water crises, I've got one solution for you. It's very simple. You can buy some Ethos Water. The whole purpose of buying a bottle is to get Starbucks (and other retailers) to make a donation to Ethos when you buy the water. The money is then spent building wells in third world nations where potable drinking water is not readily available. At Starbucks a bottle is about $1.80. That's a lot for a bottle of water, but not a lot to provide water for a thirsty nation.

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Crunch, crunch, crunch!

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Okay about a month ago I told you I had to make up a batch or two of biscotti for the wedding. I just haven't had a chance to blog about it, yet.

It all began when the daughter who would be obeyed said that was one of the few things that had to be at her reception. She wanted orange and lemon biscotti to go with her citrus theme. Okay then!

Never before had I attempted biscotti. I began with a good search of the food bloggers out there to see if any had done some in the recent past. Not a good idea! Why? Well, because food blogs are so addictive I'd spend half a day reading entries and getting great ideas but not doing much else. I did find a couple of good recipes and settled in to make them up.

They seemed simple enough, few ingredients and even fewer steps to follow. This seemed almost too easy. In a bowl of a food processor, mix together 1 and 1/4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Pulse slighty to ensure the flour, sugar and baking powder are mixed well. Add in 3 tablespoons of chilled butter. Pulse together until it looks like bread crumbs. Now add 1 egg and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of lemon zest. Mix well. Add in a 1/2 cup of sliced almonds, mix until it begins to form a ball in the processor. The mixture will be sticky. Pour onto a floured board and fold until less sticky. Divide dough in two, form logs and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Biscotti4
Notice there isn't a lot of flour on the dough. Don't mix in too much when you're working with the dough in prepartion for baking. Pop it in a 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Biscotti Holy Moly! It is more than double its original size! Who would have thought it would get this big??? I sure didn't.
Biscotti2 While dough is still warm, cut the log in diagonal slices about 3/4 of an inch thick. Turn it on its side and put back in the oven. Bake it for 8 minutes.Biscotti3
After the 8 minutes, remove the biscotti from the oven and flip it to the other side. (this is where the recipe gets tedious - in out in out - good grief will this end?) Once all the pieces are flipped, you guessed it!, cak in the oven for another 8 minutes. Viola! You have now mastered biscotti! The picture at the top is the finished product. We actually then took the biscotti and dipped it in Schokinag White Chocolate. The result was wonderful. Oh yes, also if you want the orange version of the biscotti just replace the lemon juice and zest with orange juice and zest. It's that simple.

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Friday, August 05, 2005

The Remains of the Day

Sur La Table
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Yesterday I went with S'mee (a good friend) to Los Angeles. We were going to drive into the city to find a tailor for her dress for her son's wedding. You see S'mee is short of stature and women's fashion manufacturers think we'er all 5'8" or better.

We head to the center of fashion in Los Angeles. She finds a local tailor and asks him for a quote on how much it would cost to do a few nips and tucks and hemming of said gown. "Try on first" is his response. S'mee dresses in gown he and an assistant pin, pin, pin! The perfect length and dimensions have been met, "come back three hours, lots to sew" came his response. "how much?" S'mee asks. "Come back three hours" again was his response. What we have here... It was finally communicated that it would cost $70 to alter said gown. $70?!? "I only paid $50, I can't pay that to have it altered."
It was decided that I would do my best to "frankenstein" the dress and in exchange we would spend the rest of the day indulging my desires. Heh.

So off we went to the other side of town. I noticed last time I was at the Farmer's Market that Maggiano's had a restaurant there. I was hungry for pasta so we'd stop there. That way we'd be able to stop in a Sur La Table too!
We had lunch, S'mee choosing the meatball sandwich, me the chicken salad. What? I had wanted pasta. Hmmm. I was totally thrown off track by the inclusion of said chicken salad on the menu. I should have stuck with pasta. It was chicken salad. That's all that can be said.

However, S'mee's meatball sandwich was wow! Great tasting meatballs, the perfectly melted provolone cheese and just enough marinara sauce. They also included a small bowl of marinara sauce on the side for those wanting their sauce dripping. It was served on the perfect onion roll, no too much onion and the onions were sweet. We also started with a dish of bruschetta and crostini. Mmmm.

As you can see in the picture we found a few items at Sur La Table. A tasting spoon? It is a teaspoon on one end and a tablespoon on the other. However the tag listed it as a tasting spoon. I ususally use a stack of little demi-tasse spoons for tasting. But it was only 49 cents and blue! Also found some more of those great window cloths. I love cleaning glass with them. No streaks! And parchment - a couple of rolls with the 50% more free notation, a knife guard, and S'mee grabbed a few tartlett tins.

We then sped off to a couple of bakeries on Fairfax. I read an LA Times article a few months back and always wanted to stop in and have a taste. Hansen's and Royal Cake were the names. They have made baking cakes for the rich and famous and jsut about everyone else in LA. So we popped in to see what the fuss was all about.
I must say upon entering both galleries I was very hmmm how do you say "confused". I did read about the rivalry and that Royal was set in the middle of the two Hansen galleries, however, they kind of looked all the same. Each had a myriad of sample cakes on display. I must say I was amazed at the cake just inside the door at Royal. Definitely a cake for royalty. It was so large it could only be for royalty though. You could never eat all the cake available in that cake at a normal wedding. The cakes were reasonably priced. They started at $2 per slice and it was to the moon from there.

There was a bit of difference in the tastings. Hansen's keep their cake recipe a guarded secret (I'm sure Royal does too though). They've worked for years developing the recipe and have had huge success with it. It was a genoise, in many different flavors. In fact just about any kind of flavor you can imagine in cake can be found at Hansen's. The same with Royal. Theirs is also a genoise, just slightly different. Hansen's did have one failing , each cake had an underlying flavor. It seemed to be permeation of butter flavoring. It wasn't off putting, and if I hadn't tasted so many different kinds, I probably wouldn't have noticed it. I can even "remember" what it tasted like today. That being said, if you only eat one piece at an occasion for someone, it probably is not that big of a deal.

However, there are bakers out there that I know do cakes that could rival both of these well knowns. Bakers on a simple corner lot somewhere hoping to be noticed by the passing throngs. Look around, I am sure there is one in your very own neighborhood.

We then motored back to the outskirts of SoCal. The Inland Empire. We stopped for a quick dessert pickup to take back to the guys, cheesecake. We parted ways and motored home.
I did stop on the way home at my favorite scapbooking store and picked up some inspiration. I am hoping to redesign the page and needed some color guidance. So I bought a few sheets of paper and a sticker or two and headed back to the heat. It was a fun day, all in all.

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