Thursday, June 21, 2012

Maile's Birthday Blankie

Maile turns 5 today! What better a place to celebrate this little wahine than in Hawaii!

While she probably won't need this while we're here, I was too excited to give it to her. Her own fuzzy little blankie.

I made Malia one for Christmas and they all fight over it. So each child needs their own (I brought a belated birthday blankie for Makaio too - show you later).

Happy birthday to the sweetest, friendliest, most clever 5 year-old I know!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

St. George Sprits

Buddha's Hand Citron infused Vodka

Being a Californian, I've been wine-tasting a bunch of times.  With Napa, Sonoma, and Russian River Valley about an hour away, it's a fairly easy outing for us.  But, for the first time this week, D and I went for a spirit-tasting!  D had "scouted" this place out a few weeks ago and recommended we go.  My brother recently landed a job at a distillery, so we were just doing a little "research" on the competition (wink).

We went to St. George Spirits on Alameda Island (even closer than Napa - only a 10 minute drive!) home of Hangar 1 vodka. What a cool place!!  It's in an old airplane (or blimp?) hangar and it sits right on the NW tip of Alameda with a great view of San Francisco.  The distillery itself looks a little Willy Wonka-esque with shiny copper stills and pipes and barrels everywhere. Only windows separate the tasting area from the distilling area. 

We tasted vodka, eaux de vies, gin, whiskey, bourbon, liqueur, and absinthe. They teach you how to taste spirits (differently than winei) and we learned so much about different kinds of spirits, it felt a little like liquor school. You can pack a lunch and eat at the picnic tables out front to blunt the effects of the tasting :)

I'm not super into liquor (or wine, for that matter), but it was so fun to do something other than wine taste! So, whether you're a local, visiting from out of town, or a local hosting out-of-towners, this is one cool experience that you should definitely check out - even if you're not a "liquor drinker." You'll feel super-hip.  But make an appointment if you want a tour or if you plan on going on the weekend. 

Ok, now I sound like a drunk...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Have you heard of Harissa?  It's a hot, North African chili paste and it's my new favorite condiment. It's salty and spicy and garlicky and awesome...if you're into that kind of thing.  I first tried harissa in a breakfast sandwich from Vesta Flatbread food truck at the Oakland Farmer's Market. Hooked!  Immediately!

Now, I'm no taste bud adrenaline-seeker, but this stuff is good (And pretty spicy! A little goes a long way) - and you can make it at home fairly easily!  This is the second jar I've made. I use a recipe similar to this one.  Instead, I only add a little cumin in place of the caraway and coriander seeds.  I suppose the spices used depend on which region's recipe you're following (Tunisia vs. Morocco vs. Algeria, etc.)  Also, I used only arbol chilies, which are fairly small and hot, even though I did seed them.

Ok, so how to use this stuff? Probably any way you like! I primarily eat my harissa with eggs and avocado for breakfast. The avocado cuts the heat a little.  Honestly, I eat this almost every single morning - it's so good!  Vesta uses it with chicken and even on top of potatoes, but you could use it whenever you need a little heat.

I dare you to try it. I'll bet you get hooked too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Teeny Zucchini

Did I tell you that we moved to the sweetest little street in Oakland (that is not an oxymoron)?  Last August, we left the fog of San Francisco and headed to the Sunny Side of the Bay.  We absolutely love it!  We have sun and space and neighbors we know!

One of my most favorite things about our new neighborhood is that we have a community garden, just for the people on our little cul de sac.  We've planted tomatoes (lots!), zucchini, corn, squash, basil, beets, carrots, eggplant, radishes, beans, and peppers. The tomatoes seem to be doing well, but we'll see what else the soil allows.

This is our first little harvest.  Teeny zucchini!  I thought they would get bigger, and maybe they will, but for now, this is it.

I also spied an almost red tomato, which tickles me the most because I started those babies from seed! I am one proud tomato mama.

Oh, and this cocktail? Well, that's basil (in the form of a gimlet) from our garden. And I have the best husband/mixologist on the block to make them for me! I haven't told the neighbors of his cocktailing talents just yet...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

All Grown Up

I know you've seen these guys before, but I like to think I'm expanding my repertoire a little.

My nephew is 7! *sniff*  He's become such a smart, funny, energetic, sweet guy!  Since he was learning tick marks in school recently, I thought this would be appropriate.

And while adults seldom broadcast their age, my sister-in-law expressed some interest in displaying her name on a shirt, and, well.... I jumped on that!  Thirty-one is her lucky number and this happens to be her golden year!  Happy (SUPER BELATED) birthday, Jess!  And so I made her a birthday shirt too, but little more subtle...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I'm Back with Some Bread. Forgive?

Well, if I haven't completely let you down, maybe there's still an ounce of forgiveness inside of you for my lack-of-bloggingness.  It's not that I don't have things to blog about, au contraire (I studied Spanish, not French), I've just been so busy lazy about uploading photos.  Let's see if this new summer schedule will help me turn over a new leaf...again.

We'll start with something simple... a little loaf.  Now, I know you've seen my loaves before, so it's nothing new.  Still using my very favorite, easiest bread recipe with a few tweaks. This one has some rye flour (trying to clean out the cabinets) and caraway seeds (ditto), and I always add a bunch more salt.  But I swear, this method never lets me down.  Try it, you'll impress all your friends.  Or if not, impress yourself.

Thank you for your forgiveness. Everyone (my sister) was sick of looking at those lemons. Monica, you're welcome.