Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Reviews

A few months ago, I started doing book reviews for The Associated Press. The pay is negligible, but it's great to be doing some writing again. I guess you can take the girl out of the AP, but you can't take the AP out of the girl.

Check out my latest review of Anne Rice's new novel.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Birthday

Being a big geek ... and a bigger reader, I remember how thrilled I was to learn that I shared a birthday with Louisa May Alcott. This revelation likely prompted a phase when I refused to use electricity and chose to read by the light of an oil lamp. But I digress.

Apparently, I was born on a Saturday. (My mother probably remembers it much better than I do.)

Other notables:

Nov 29 - Beatles' "Come Together," single goes #1
Best Picture: "Midnight Cowboy"
On TV: "Hawaii Five-Oh," "Adam-12"
Top Books: "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, "Deliverance" by
James Dickey
Hot New Toys: Silly String, Barrel Of Monkeys, Easy-Bake Premier Oven (always wanted one of those)
Minimum Wage: $1.60/hour

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke Gratin

I managed to find a recipe for an interesting, attractive and healthy veggie side dish for this year's Thanksgiving dinner - spinach and artichoke gratin.

Here's a shot of it before baking, but it looked equally lovely when it was hot. I left out the pimento, even though it would've added a nice touch of color. (I hate pimento!) Frankly, it was the smash hit of Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Persimmon Preserves

My persimmon preserves taste as good as they look. Yay! My friend, Janie, brought over some jalapeno corn bread and the combination is as good as it gets.

For the preserves, I used a version of this recipe. I'll be making another batch this weekend, so get your Christmas orders in now!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Martha Stewart Day"

Insisting she enjoys doing things "the hard way," Louise and I got together for a first attempt at canning. Initially, I scared myself by reading too much online about bacteria, botulism and whatnot. But, what the heck ... women have been doing this for generations, right?

My kitchen isn't exactly spacious ...

And all the peeling, chopping and stirring was pretty time-consuming.

But the results were gorgeous. Two jars each of persimmon preserves and ginger-pear marmalade.

We finished the dilly beans in the dark, so no shots of those. I'll report back to let you know how everything tasted.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Colibri Mexican Bistro

After dashing off to a meeting that actually took place a night earlier (doh!), Beth and I took advantage of the early hour and stopped at Colibri Mexican Bistro for a margarita and a snack.

Being the frugal gal I am, I immediately noticed the guacamole was $12. $12! But it was a huge bowl and Beth insisted there would be no way we'd eat it all ... blah blah blah. Well, we ordered the $12 guacamole and I must say it could very well be the best I've ever eaten. Big chunks of avocado, crunchy bits of jalapeno with just the right amount of heat and saltiness. Delish!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bar Adagio

Louise and I met for a glass of wine last night at Bar Adagio. I was excited to hear about her three-week southeast Asian vacation. The upshot? Must visit Laos.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Roof

SF is having a heat wave!

It inched into the 70s over the weekend and I headed up to my roof with a jug of lemonade and a book. Heaven!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tres Agaves

My friend, Elizabeth, had a birthday dinner at Tres Agaves over the weekend and, boy, was it yummy!

Even Laura, who lives part-time in Mexico, raved about the food - especially the vegetarian chili relleno and the jicama salad, pictured below.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Fruit

I don't eat nearly enough fruit. So, I stocked up yesterday at the farmer's market. The Asian pears were so very tasty, but not cheap. And persimmons! One of my favorite things about fall in SF. I also bought jicama, which wasn't very photogenic. I'll be mixing that with the clementines for a refreshing salad.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday Nights

There are few shows on TV that I don't like to miss - Survivor, America's Next Top Model and Law & Order. And this season, they're all on the same night!

Now, I watch them all online, which enables me to spread out the fun over a whole week!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Marga at Holly's

Margaret found herself in SF last night and I had no plans, so we were able to hang out and catch up.

She won free tickets to a comedy show at a new club not far from my apartment, so she dragged me kicking and screaming ... well, almost ... to hear comic Marga Gomez and friends.

I'm not usually a fan of live comedy, but after a bit of a slow start, Marga was great! There were only a handful of us in the audience, but we're hoping it will turn out to be one of those nights when we can look back and say, "Remember when?"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Streetside Stories

Today began with a fundraising breakfast for my friend Linda's nonprofit organization, Streetside Stories. What an inspiring way to start the day.

The program sends "teaching artists" to low-income schools to help kids learn to tell their own stories - through words, pictures and video. Linda's been executive director there for nine years and has led the program through incredible growth. Yay, Linda!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Kindle

I think I want a Kindle. There. I said it.

I LOVE books. I love how they look, how they smell, how they feel. I remember the day I got a library card. I think I was 6. Mom?

If I don't have at least three unread books on a trip, my palms get sweaty. Really. I've sought out English language bookstores everywhere from Egypt to Russia to Vietnam. So, a Kindle appeals greatly to my practical side. My friends who own the devices assure me I'd only use it for traveling. We shall see.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Split-Pea Soup

I had a productive weekend - cleaning, laundry, errands. I also enjoyed a big pot of split-pea soup. Cheap, easy and yummy.

I used Mollie Katzen's recipe, using water instead of stock and leaving out the potato because I didn't have one. I really liked the kick provided by the red wine vinegar.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yoshi's Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant

Make no mistake - this is a great place to see a show. Comfortable, intimate with a terrific sound system. Downstairs seats about 300; upstairs, which isn't always open, seats another 100 or so.

The food - primarily sushi - is quite good, but pricey.

If a band that you really, really like is playing there, it's well worth a visit.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paula Cole

Paula Cole opened her show at Yoshi's last night by thanking the audience of about 250 people for remembering her. I thought, "Of course we remember you." But when she belted out some of her older songs, I was reminded of her huge talent.

I saw her perform in 1997 in S.C. - before she broke into "Lilith Faire." Her look, her voice and her songwriting has matured, but she still channeled her inner rocker chick. It was a great show!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Victory Parade!

I don't think I've ever seen anything like the Giants parade in SF today! I took a vacation day and, boy, what a smart move! It was 70 degrees, sunny and gorgeous as tens of thousands of people lined the parade route.

The crowds were insane, but everyone was happy - decked out in orange and black. I met people who traveled from places like Ukiah, Sacramento and San Jose to attend.

All the players rode by in cable cars. Nice touch!

Thanks to my friends at the A&P for the photos!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Series Victory!

I was glued to my TV set for nearly every post-season game. If it couldn't be the Brewers, it may as well be the Giants.

Barry Bonds was an unacknowledged presence as the young team proclaimed they had no superstars among them and it was all about baseball. Awesome!

Downtown SF was absolutely insane!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Black Cats and Pumpkins

I'm not a big Halloween fan ... especially this year when I've been more interested in baseball. Anyway, I decided I NEEDED homemade pumpkin seeds.

So, I snatched up one of the last pumpkins at Cala, took it home and carved it. It contained lots of seeds and hardly any pulp, which made me wonder whether they're bred this way.

Anyway, I consulted Mom, then sprinkled the seeds with Worchestershire sauce, garlic powder, kosher salt and a bit of oil, then baked them for about an hour. And voila!

Then, I lit the jack-o-lantern and waited patiently for Arthur to investigate.