Friday, September 25, 2009

Pure evil

... or why my ass keeps getting bigger.

When I think of San Leandro, I don't necessarily think of it as a destination city. I mean, how much could there be in the city to draw people to it? That's what I used to think before the company for which I work moved to the fine city almost a year ago.

Industrial in San Leandro seems to mean something different than it does in San Francisco. I decided this when one of the first places I found after the move was the Otis Spunkmeyer factory -- and factory store. One dozen fresh baked cookies for $4.25. Evil I say.

To date I have been able to avoid the next form of evil I have spotted around town. The fine folks of Kraft Foods also have a factory in town. And nearby there is an Entenmann's factory store.

Today I succumbed to one of the other evils in town. Yes, the fine folks of Ghirardelli also have a factory here. And once more, it is complete with a factory store. The first thing I noticed upon getting out of my car was the smell of chocolate in the air. I took this as a good sign and headed in. What did I find? Most of the chocolates were about 45% off of retail. I'm thinking that this could be a bad thing to know. All I know is that I managed to leave the store with only spending $10. But there were many things in there that caught my eye for future trips.

I'm starting to give up on the idea that my ass is ever going to get smaller. Because these days I have little willpower if any.

(For those of you who are now hankering to head on over to San Leandro, the factory is located at 1111 139th Street, between East 14th and Washington.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The sincerest form of flattery

Earlier this month I had an incredible pork chop from Gregoire. But it was simple at the same time. So simple that I thought I might be able to duplicate it. Because the "problem" with Gregoire is that they change their menu each month. Fall in love with something? You'll never have it again after that month has ended unless you can duplicate it yourself. This time the love was so great that I had to make an attempt.

What you see is a pork chop stuffed with blue cheese and pecans. I'll tell you how I chose to make it but for the most part there will not be any measurements.

I chopped some pecans into a bowl and mixed them with some crumbled blue cheese. The chops? The label on the package said that they were king chops. Basically they were a double chop. Once I determined where the bone was, I cut a slit into the chops going toward the bone. And then I stuffed them with the cheese and nut mixture. Just some salt and pepper on the outside.

The chops were served with a jus. For this reason I decided to throw them in the oven. Now the jus was flavored with shallots but when I got home, I discovered that all of mine were moldy. In the place of the shallots, I diced half of a yellow onion and spread it around the bottom of a baking dish. I then threw in some sprigs of fresh thyme and covered it with some chicken broth. Then I put the rack into the pan upon which I laid the stuffed chops. About halfway through I turned the chops so that they could brown on both sides.

Tastewise I think I came pretty damn close. Now I'm thinking that I should get around to copying those other dishes that I have loved over the years from Gregoire.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


About four years ago, I discovered that Natasha likes to watch food cook in the oven. This photo is from the very day I made the discovery. She kept putting her paws on the hot oven door in an attempt to see what was going on. As soon as I turned on the oven light, she settled into position and did not move until I removed the contents. To this day, I now automatically turn on the oven light -- just in case someone might want to watch.

What made me think of this? Well last week was a week filled with crappy food - tasty but crappy for me healthwise. And by the end of the week, I was feeling pretty crappy. I needed something a little healthier.

And so I remembered the first dish that Natasha watched and prepared it for Saturday's dinner.

Of course I backslid on Sunday so right now it's mostly salads around here. Until I feel less blah.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The month (to date) in food and drink

So yeah, it's been almost a week since I promised y'all a post. And I had lots of ideas but just wasn't feeling the posting thing. Instead I'll just give y'all some quick highlights and maybe then I'll be able to get back to regular posting. Oh, and there will be a little bit more than food and drink. But you've got to get to the end for that.

Labor Day weekend meant my usual stint with Dumb and Dumber. And being back in Berkeley? Made me instantly think of food.

The first night I picked up dinner from Gregoire. Pork chop stuffed with pecans and blue cheese. Ummm. Yeah. I'll be trying to duplicate this at home in the future.

The second night I went to visit my peeps at Poulet. I wasn't in to the special that night so I got some of their garlic rosemary chicken with some sides, including an incredible dish of green beans with farro and pecans and some polenta. And lucky me, they had my favorite carrot-walnut cupcakes.

I received my first shipment from Viansa.

The following weekend I headed up to Sacto to spend some quality time with dad. This time I managed to remember that there was a Jimboy's in his neighborhood.

And before leaving dad's house, I did a little shopping.

Now we keep having these heatwaves out here. In fact we're starting another one as I type this. But before going to dad's, I kept thinking about mussels. I wanted something different than my usual though so I did some searching and settled on this.

I bought the ingredients on my way back from Sacto because the recipe calls for creme fraiche and stores in Oakland seem to have some aversion to the stuff. But Berkeley is on the way home from Sacto now and I knew where I could find the stuff. Yeah, I know. It's just plain crazy to go into Berkeley Bowl on a Saturday but I really wanted the stuff. Oh, and I substituted Pacific snapper for the halibut. Yum!

But the big change was at the beginning of the month, I got rid of the OPH. Now it's just the hair that I grew on my own. And yeah, I spent some time going through photos but decided on the one with the squinty right eye. Because I know that when that happens, I am truly smiling and not pretending to smile.

And I hope to be back a little more regularly. Because I now have loads of recipes that I'd like to try.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


A friend whom I have known since seventh grade recently told me that she has often thought about blogging but hadn't started because she thought that it required discipline. Maybe it does for some but not for me. Anymore. When I first started, I thought, "I must do x number of posts a week." Then came the day that I reminded myself that I was doing this all for me and not for others. As such, I only needed to write when I really wanted to.

When I wrote my last post, I gave myself permission to take the month of September off. Although I may be an extrovert, there are times when I need to go inward. It's part of the reason why I live alone. Upon awaking this morning, I realized that we were almost halfway through the month and I had already made it past two of the three hard days for this month. And so I told myself that even though I had told myself that I wouldn't post anything until October, it was OK to write something sooner.

I spent Labor Day with my cousins. It was the day after my aunt's birthday. And then I spent yesterday with my dad. My stepmother's birthday was earlier in the week.

I have read in places, perhaps some science fiction novel, that time is not a straight line but instead folds back upon itself. Kind of like when you fold over a tortilla to make a burrito. I hope I have explained this well enough because this is what it feels like.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I was once more with Dumb and Dumber. This time instead of watching endless DVDs though, I read. (OK. I did watch Big Brother. But that was about the only time the TV was on.) I managed to finish something like three books over the weekend. And so over the past week, I was ready to dive into Sag Harbor which I'll finish later this evening.

So I hung out with my dad and we talked. A lot. Mostly about the summers I spent in Georgia and Alabama during my childhood. My dad thought it was a couple of summers. I reached back into my memory and said that it was more like four to five summers. After I got home, I thought how little that seems at my current age. But that little bit? So much of the person I am today.

And so we talked and one minute I was fourteen. Then I was eight, thirty-five, twenty, twelve. And it all felt like yesterday. Probably because I carry with me little bits of my past selves with me today. While the memories of others in my family falter, mine never has -- well, except for that one day that I will probably never be able to recapture although it's for the best. It's like they are packed away in tissue in a box, waiting for the day to be revealed once more.

I returned to reading Sag Harbor when I returned home and suddenly I couldn't put it down. There are so many references to music of the 80s in the book. With each song or artist, there was the pause to remember the me of that time period.

It's been kind of fun revisiting the past. Much better than the present when I have to listen to my father explain to someone he hasn't seen in some time that his wife has died. Oh, and his two sisters as well. And hearing his voice catch as he says it. And seeing him fight back the tears that are forming in his eyes. And then looking at him and realizing how much he has aged.

I have no clue what the future holds but I know that it will be OK. Because my stepmother? My aunts? They had infinite faith in my ability to make things work out for myself. And so I carry that with me -- that one day it will be OK, it won't hurt as much. And that as long as I remember the stories, they will still be with me.

On a lighter note, food will be returning. Quite possibly tomorrow. Or whenever it is that I feel like putting words to the photos. Because there are no deadlines here.