Monday, November 24, 2014

early thanksgiving

As per usual, we had a lovely early Thanksgiving celebration in Napa this year. We were especially lucky because our friends Morgan and Joanna were able to join us, making the drive down from Reno, where they moved a few months ago. It's hard enough to make plans with people who live in the same city let alone out-of-towners, so we were elated when it turned out they'd be able to come.

We all got in to Daniel's parents' house in the evening and ended up staying up rather late, drinking wine and catching up, which led to a rather slow start in the morning followed by a pretty leisurely day. We drove out to the Oxbow market to wander around and ogle the foodstuffs and then headed to Yountville for a walk. We ended up in the French Laundry gardens, of course, where Joanna made friends with the chickens straight away.

It rained early in the morning but cleared up by mid-day, leaving us with blue skies and clusters of bright, dramatic clouds. A beautiful day to be in Napa. We didn't linger terribly long because some of us needed to get home to start cooking but it felt to be good to be out in the fresh air, building up an appetite for the upcoming feast. I personally was tasked with an appetizer and a vegetable; I looked to Smitten Kitchen for both and made squash toasts with ricotta and mint and balsamic glazed brussels sprouts. After a few hours in the kitchen, we all gathered by the outdoor fireplace and toasted with champagne. Fall in California is a wonderful time.

I'm spending today running errands and packing for my flight to San Diego - I leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to getting away for a few days and spending some time with family. We're in for a good amount of feasting and hopefully some time outside enjoying the beautiful weather. I'll be back soon with photos, hopefully - so happy to be celebrating one of my favorite parts of the year!

Friday, November 21, 2014

happy friday

{ticket stub from Diane von Furstenberg's talk at the Stanford Business School}

I had my last day of winter quarter classes yesterday. Things went by in something of a blur and I ducked out early to hear the very interesting Diane von Furstenberg speak at over at the Business School. Such a relief to be done, though I still have finals looming. For now, I'm looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday. This evening, we're driving up to Napa to celebrate early with Daniel's family and I can't wait. Hope everyone has a splendid weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2014

chile verde

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the third year of law school is a joke. By that point, most students have jobs lined up and are merely coasting until summer, when the nightmare that is the bar exam rears its ugly head. Personally, I have found this last year of school to be both pleasant and frustrating in equal parts. Certainly having a lot of free time on one's hands can be enjoyable - time to read for pleasure, to take long walks, to sleep in late - but it is coupled with the sense that one is merely treading water - idling rather than jumping in to the next phase of life and work. Naturally impatient, I find this irksome at times and have to remind myself to savor the small, lovely things that come with an excess of free time. 

Over the past few weeks, we've had a number of small dinner parties. Our apartment is still woefully unfurnished, which leaves us to steal borrow the armchairs in our lobby whenever we have guests over, but it has been such fun to do a bit of entertaining. The recipe I have today is something we've made for guests twice in the last month - a pork chile verde that Daniel found and then tweaked to fit our needs. It was something of a treat for me to sit back and act as sous chef, drinking a glass of wine while Daniel methodically chopped piles of chiles and tomatillos and trimmed several pounds of pork butt. All I had to do was throw together some guacamole and fix the arroz verde once our guests arrived. Apparently I'm getting used to this whole relaxing thing after all.

This is a great meal for guests because, in addition to being delicious, all of the work can be done in advance, leaving you free to drink margaritas and gobble down blue corn chips with your friends rather than furiously rushing around the kitchen at the last minute. I'm so glad Daniel added it to our collective cooking arsenal.

Chile verde with pork (via Guy Fieri)

  • 2lbs pork butt cut into 1-inch cubes and trimmed of fat
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 anaheim chiles
  • 6 tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
Heat the one tablespoon vegetable oil in medium dutch oven over medium heat, adding the peppers, onion and garlic. Cook until translucent then remove from heat. Place in a bowl to the side and wipe out the inside of the dutch oven.

Char the tomatillos on an open flame on the stovetop until the skin begins to blacken. Remove from heat, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, letting them stand for 20 minutes. Chop roughly and set aside. 

Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to the dutch oven and heat over high heat. Brown the meat, roughly 5 minutes on each side in batches then set aside. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and vinegar, allowing it to reduce for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and pepper mixture, the tomatillos and the pork back to the dutch oven. Add chicken stock, oregano, cumin, and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Let simmer one hour.

Serve with tortillas, black beans, rice, pico de gallo, roasted red peppers, and sour cream.

Arroz verde al poblano (via Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen)
  • 1 2/3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 fresh poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 12 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Put the chicken broth and chiles in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, until chiles are soft. Add the cilantro to the pot and then, using an immersion blender, process until smooth [alternatively, you could pour the mixture into a food processor]. Strain through a mesh strainer, using a spatula to press as much of the liquid through as possible. 

Wipe the saucepan clean, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the rice, onion and garlic and cook for about 6 minutes until onion is softened. Add the warm chile liquid to the rice, stirring the mixture together, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes to complete the cooking. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

autumn movement

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.

-Carl Sandburg, Autumn Movement

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

stopping in

It's been a while since I stopped in here. I suppose there have been a lot of reasons for this. Fall got off to sort of a rough start this year and I was caught off guard, expecting, as I was, for smooth sailing at the start of my last year of school. So I've just been taking some time, trying to get a sense of balance back.

It hasn't felt much like Fall in San Francisco yet. It's been unseasonably warm and sunny, which I've especially appreciated on my days off. I've been going for runs on the beach, marveling at the summery weather. On Saturday, Daniel and I rode our bikes through Golden Gate Park and out to the Sunset for breakfast sandwiches at the Devil's Teeth Baking Company. I actually thought I might get sunburned as we sat outside waiting for our food. But yesterday, the fog rolled in and blanketed my neighborhood in a thick layer of gray. I bundled up and headed out for a long afternoon walk, out along Balboa Street and then down into the park. I listened to Glenn Gould's recording of the Goldberg Variations as I walked through the quiet streets and felt as though I had the park entirely to myself. 

Hopefully I'll be around more often over the next few weeks and months. The holidays are nearly upon us - I have ten days of class before the start of the Thanksgiving break and then I'll be down in San Diego for a bit with my family. Then final exams, then Christmas vacation. A lot of things, but mostly good ones. 
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