Monday, September 28, 2015

ina garten's corn muffins

One of my favorite weeknight dinners is Deb Perelman's chard and white bean stew. It's easy, healthful, and readily lends itself to all kinds of modifications depending on what you have in your larder (spinach instead of chard, white vermouth instead of wine, chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, onions instead of shallots, etc.) I've made it dozens of times since Ms. Perelman posted the recipe on her blog some years ago and in that time, I've begun experimenting to find the perfect accompaniment. 

In her blog, Ms. Perelman suggests serving the stew with a piece of toast rubbed with garlic. I have done this several times and it is indeed excellent. But because I don't always top the stew with a poached egg, I looked for something a bit more robust than a piece of toast and landed on corn muffins.

Coming back from a week of rather decadent eating in Tahoe, I decided that white bean stew would be a good choice. I started scrounging around for an easy corn muffin recipe that wouldn't require me to make a trip to the grocery store and, lo and behold, Ina Garten delivered. 

I've made lots of corn muffins and many of the best contain sour cream or buttermilk, but if you don't have those ingredients on hand (as I often do not) these muffins will do the trick. They're definitely on the sweeter side, so take note, but I personally prefer a sweet corn muffin alongside savory stews.

Slightly modified version of Ina Garten's corn muffins

1 cup plus two tbsp whole milk
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup cornmeal
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp baking powder

Turn the oven to 350F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl; mix together the eggs, milk and melted butter in a second bowl and then add to the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Spoon batter into the muffin tin and bake for approximately 25-27 minutes, until muffins take on a golden brown appearance and a toothpick emerges clean when the muffins are tested.

I tend to make a batch and freeze the majority of the muffins, warming them up in the oven a few at a time, covered in foil in the muffin tin, when I want them. It works beautifully. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

end of summer, lake tahoe

When I was growing up, my family spent a lot of time in Tahoe during the winter. We'd fly into Reno or Sacramento and drive from there for the skiing. It wasn't until college that I visited during the summer and realized that there is basically no bad time to visit Tahoe. A few months ago, Daniel's parents made plans for a late September vacation at a cabin near Tahoe City and invited us to join them.

Join them we did, and we spent several absolutely gorgeous days in Tahoe, sightseeing, hiking, and of course, eating very well. Daniel wasn't able to join us until partway through the week because of work commitments, so I drove up with Daniel's parents and their dog Katie. Naturally, we stopped at Ikedas and stocked up on pies (apple! cherry! marionberry!) for the cabin. After reaching the cabin and settling in, we drove to Truckee for some window shopping then took Katie to the beach (oddly, there seemed to be few places that allowed dogs; fortunately we found Lake Forest Beach and Katie was able to run around and dip her toes in the water.) As the sun set, we found ourselves on the deck at Sunnyside and toasted to vacation and the last day of summer.

The next morning we were up bright and early to make the drive down to Emerald Bay. I'd never been to that part of the lake before, so it was a special treat to see how beautiful it was. We also had the chance to tour Vikingsholm, which was great fun. 

After our house tour, we lunched down near Camp Richardson then took Katie to Kiva Beach. Aside from some alarming warnings about squirrel-borne plague posted along the trails, it was a lovely place to walk around and also allowed us to stop in and see some of the Tallac historic sites.

After our day of adventures, we had happy hour on the deck of the cabin and then headed to dinner at Wolfdale's. Everything was delicious but the ahi cones we had as an appetizer were particularly special.

Daniel arrived late in the evening after making the drive up from San Francisco. Since he still had some work to do the next day, the rest of us cleared out of the house and drove to Sugar Pine Point State Park to go on a tour of the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, which, like Vikingsholm, is another of the grand old Tahoe summer homes. After our tour, we picnicked out on the lake and strolled around the property.

In the afternoon, Daniel finished up his work and we enjoyed happy hour on the deck of our cabin before heading to Moody's in Truckee for dinner and some live music.

In the morning, Daniel's parents headed back to Napa and we continued on to Reno, but not before making a quick detour to Eagle Lake. Once we got to the lake, we were lucky enough to see a bear swimming around (!)

After a few hours of hiking and fishing, we had lunch and then rented kayaks to go out to Fannette Island. The water was refreshingly cool and it was a quick trip to the island, where we scrambled up to the ruined tea house on its highest point.

It was the perfect way to end a lovely couple of days in Tahoe. I already have my fingers crossed that we'll be able to get back there soon for the winter ski season.

Friday, August 28, 2015

si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice

Was the title enough of a hint?

Ok, we're in Michigan. Traverse City, to be more precise. My college roommate is getting married and I'm a bridesmaid. So far that has mostly meant lots of eating and drinking and socializing, but later this week I'll be donning a long, sea-glass green dress and walking down an aisle with a bouquet, so that will be something new. Exciting times in Michigan!

Anyway, back to the festivities and then home to San Francisco soon. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

summer vacation

This summer was an unusual one for me. As previously mentioned, I studied for and then took the California Bar. It was a horrible experience, as you would expect, but what I didn't expect was how quiet everything felt afterwards. After weeks of studying and cramming, I suddenly had nothing to do. Which sounds nice, in theory, but I found myself feeling a bit lost. Understandably, whining about all the free time on your hands is not something that gets you a lot of sympathy, so I decided that I may as well go about actually enjoying my leisure time. 

A few months back, Daniel was invited to give a talk in Portland in August, and I jumped at the chance to tag along. We stayed in the southeastern part of the city and while he attended the week-long conference, I played. I drank countless cups of excellent coffee (Coava! Stumptown!) and ate dessert every day (ice cream at Salt & Straw! cookies at Maurice!). I bought a used copy of Lolita at Powell's and read on a bench in the Lan Su Chinese Garden. I walked through Ladd's Addition and marveled at the pocket rose gardens. I saw the Ai WeiWei exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. I had Indian street food at Bollywood Theater and Vietnamese spring rolls at Luc Lac. It was terrific. 

After the conference was over, Daniel and I went to stay with our friends Evan and Marissa. We enjoyed our customary seafood feast and over the weekend, we drove out to the coast. 

Because the wind was blowing smoke from the massive Washington fires into the area, the air was acrid and the sky was gray. Braving the smoke, we made the drive out to Short Sand beach and spent the better part of the morning walking around and inspecting the tide pools. Though the beach was hazy, it was still beautiful with the wide expanse of sand and the multi-hued cliffs. 

Afterwards, we drove out to Astoria for a late lunch and then picked up seafood for dinner.

I didn't end up carrying my camera around for much of the trip - it was so hot and I was walking everywhere, so the idea of lugging heavy equipment around didn't sound so good. But I've missed being here and missed having a place to share pictures, especially of places I'm visiting. With a few more trips planned before I start work in October, I hope I'm able to spend a little more time on this space. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Oh, man. People, this has been a crazy month.

Yesterday I had my last class of law school. I still have finals next week and then of course there's the bar, but still: class = over.

I definitely expected that to be the biggest news in May but it has been (happily!) dwarfed by the fact that Daniel and I got engaged this month.

It's been a couple of weeks and we've had the chance to quietly spread the word and celebrate with family and a few close friends, so I figured I may as well go ahead and spill the beans here. We're really excited.

Anyway, I'm up to my ears in casebooks and Bar Review materials and that's pretty much how it's going to be until August, but I thought I'd stop in and share the news. I'm really looking forward to this new adventure.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

free time

I'm in a funny place where time seems to be passing both too quickly and too slowly. I'm getting close to the finish line with regards to school and I'm feeling impatient - I'm ready to be done with this chapter already, ready to put on a cap and gown and celebrate the end of law school. But at the same time, finishing school means studying for the bar, which I am dreading with my whole heart. So I suppose you could say I'm feeling ambivalent.

But apart from this somewhat emotional push-pull, I've really been trying to enjoy these last few months of student life. As I draw close to the end, I'm savoring my free time - the fact that I get to meet my mother for lunch on Fridays, that I can visit museums during the week, that I can sleep in late and go to yoga at noon. It really is a wonderful luxury and it won't last forever. 

In the theme of enjoying my free time, I'm taking a backpacking trip this weekend with some friends up near Quincy. It'll be my first time backpacking but since everyone else who's coming is quite experienced, I'm in good hands and quite confident it'll be a great success. 

Happy weekend, everyone.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

in san diego

While in San Diego, I bicycled around Pacific Beach and drank cheap beer in the afternoon. I attended a drag show in North Park and went dancing in uncomfortably high heels. I slept in, read a few books, and drank wine out on the deck while looking at the ocean. I ate fish tacos at the Taco Shack, a seafood burrito at El Pescador, and a fish sandwich at Point Loma Seafoods. I took an architectural tour of the Salk Institute and acquired a slight sunburn while sunbathing at the Beach and Tennis Club. I took a long walk along Sunset Cliffs and ran along the La Jolla Cove. I made dinner for my grandmother. 

Of course, the weather was stunning. Somehow I always seem to forget how beautiful San Diego is, with its cliffs and beaches, the palm trees and the blue skies. It was nice to have some time alone there.

I got back to San Francisco last night, and now I'm trying to get the apartment in order and myself situated before the start of the spring quarter. We're spending the weekend in Napa, so I'll be unpacking and re-packing my bags. Back soon.

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