Monday, January 24, 2011

Banana Bread

What do you do with over ripe banana's.  Well we make banana bread.  Pretty much ALL the time.  For some reason I don't eat as many banana's as I use to.

So four over ripe banana's and a left over bag of chocolate chips and my trusty Dow City Cookbook (which I wrote about it here).  Finally you can see a picture of this coveted book. 

However, I do believe I undercooked my bread, it was pretty gooey in the middle, but when I took out the fork it was clean.  So do you over bake the rest, I chose not to.  Any tips on how make sure the rest isn't dry and all of it cooked are welcome.  SB usually makes this recipe, he uses honey instead of white sugar.  Which I have to say makes it dense and moist. Mine was fluffy, light and not as moist.

Only thing I added to this recipe was left over bittersweet chocolate chips and a nice cup full of semi-sweet chips. I actually mixed these with a bit of flour, as I've heard that this will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the wet batter. Despite the gooeyness (yes my new word), this was a welcome breakfast treat Sunday morning.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


So I've heard from my Mom that once I was asked, as a little girl, whether I wanted the toy or the shoes.  I, of course, choose the shoes.  Wouldn't you.  I love shoes, obviously always have, I'm not Imelda Marco's, I have a teeny, tiny closet, where I have to rotate old shoes out all the time.  But I had a lovely skirt, that I could finally fit in. I had a vision, but no shoes to match.  This is backwards to how I usually get ready.  Usually I decide on what shoes I want to wear that day and then voila, my outfit works around it.  This time, not so much.  I found these shoes here, got them at 40% off and they landed at my doorsteps 3 days before the event I wanted to wear them at.  They are a hit, a little uncomfortable at first, but don't we all suffer for fashion. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


So as many of you do, or not, I watch a few cooking shows.  I make mental notes of what I want to make.  This recipe called to me.  I thought about it for a few days, and even saved the episode on my DVR. Then as my co-workers and I were deciding on what to bring to a recent pot-luck dinner for our team someone overheard our conversation, why wouldn't they, we're loud and work in a very open office environment.  She said I have a great recipe and proceeded to describe this.  I immediately knew it was from a cooking show, and sure enough I was right, she said it was good, a little labor intensive, but worth the work.  

It's called Cioppino (pronounced chuh-PEE-no).  I did a little online research, which is faulty at best and devised this history:

They say it originated or was popularized in San Francisco, specifically Fisherman's Wharf.  As much as I love SF, I like the romantic side of history.  So here's my version, it's thought that the word means "chip in".  And that an Italian immigrant, as my great grandfather on my mother side is, was asked to chip in some of his fresh catch for the communal stew kettle on the docks. The word may also originate from Genoese fish stew, called ciuppin, which means "to chop".  Lots of chopping of a few things is part of the recipe. The SF story says it was Portuguese and Italian fisherman, my versions says it could have been a whole lot of different immigrants from all over.  Regardless you can substitute different seafood, fish or other meat easily.  It's delicious and served with a crusty baguette, sliced with olive oil and toasted, it's perfection.  I have to say it's early in 2011, but this is the best thing I've made so far. 

I've heard your not to say out loud that you made something really good in front of your guest, but I couldn't help myself with SB, and technically he's not a guest, and I said "this is really good."  

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smaked
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspooon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (I used spicy chicken sausage, my co-worker used spicy pork, either will work)
2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (I used what I had left 1 cup of sauvignon and 1 cup Voigner, what can I say, that's what I had left)
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 point large shirmp, peeled and deveined
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

In a dutch oven or large saucepan (I used a large saucepan, one day I dream of a big Le Creuset or Staub pot), heat the oil over medium-high heat,.  Add the fennel, garlic, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly soften, about 4 minutes.   Add the sausage and break into 1/2 inch pieces with a wooden spoon.  Cook until brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil, and thyme.  Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.  Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Ladle the cioppino into soup bowls and server with the crusty bread. 

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.  Go here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tea at the Four Seasons

This post is so out of order of when it happened.  But B and Spongy and our Moms went to Santa Barbara for tea during the Thanksgiving break.  Mom was in town and it was a lovely drive.  B and I've been to the tea at the Four Seasons before, but for some reason we were put in a dark room and didn't enjoy.  
Being with the Moms was the fun part.  It's a lovely room, nice tea.  

Only complaint is it's too light on the sandwiches and heavy on the sweets.  
We all could have used a little more savory.  But if your visiting California, Santa Barbara is a must see place and the Four Season, oh wow, what can I say, it's California living at it's best.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mindless Monday

So this is what it looks like in California in January.  Reminders of why I live here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Where did last year go. It was a busy year for me and not a lot of posting going on. It's when I finally have time off I get a chance to reflect on why I started this blog. First of all it was a chance to pick up my camera more often and take pictures of the things I love. Food. Travel. And the wonderful things that make Life so great, partly more food and more travel. At least I'm honest. This year I hope to post more often.  My friend at eatdrinknbemerry told me yesterday, you need to pick up your camera more.  He is so right.  I promise more pictures.

SB and I have a pending trip to London and Paris. I'm sure I'll have lots to share, maybe even get a picture of SB on this blog. One can always hope he'll give in, but if not, no worries, we'll have plenty to tell.

Last year was a good year, we finally reached a spiritual goal that we've been working towards for many years. We look forward to whatever the future holds for us. Our motto, "go thru the doors that are open and stop trying to push the ones that are closed." So we hope to continue to live by that thought.

What else have I been doing this past month. Quite a bit of baking and cooking, yay! Also with a few days off from regular life I had time to organize closets, shelves, books, and all kinds of stuff. I tossed out a few old cooking magazines and reminded myself of recipes I've longed too try. On visiting a friend she laid out a forty clove garlic chicken for herself to make and handed me Ina Garten's French Apple Tart to try. So I've made it 3 times since the last week of December.

Did you know that there are 7,500 varieties of apples ranging in color from red to gold, yellow to green, and being slightly larger than cherry and can be as big as a grapefruit. Approximately 2,500 are grown here in American. I found that amazing, I had no idea, as I've only touched probably only 6 - 8 different types of apples. I personally love apples with peanut butter, usually a gala apple. Really though, I like anything with peanut butter.
So here's a picture of my french apple tart (this is the 2nd time). I have to say the 3rd was the prettiest, and was taken to a pot-luck dinner at my bosses house. I forgot to take a picture as I was so worried about getting it transported there without making a mess. If you want to make it, the recipe is found here.


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