A Normal Night

Today was a normal day. Dirk was out of the house/office, and I was home pretty much all day.

The rain came down hard and long, for the morning and early afternoon. I tried to placate Shadow from his normal morning run (and myself, honestly)!

Can I live here forever?

This is where we will be in a week.

It worked, until the rain subsided long enough to either get out for an hour, or lose that opportunity.

We grabbed the chance for an hour outside. And it was glorious! We were pretty much the only ones out on the Shoreline Path.

Coming home from our run at 1 pm vs. 10 am was odd, but we adapted. I made a quick lunch of carrots, celery and red bell pepper with roasted pepper hummus. A vegi burger on whole grain bread with tomato, lettuce and cheddar rounded out the meal.

Tonight’s dinner was a new(ish) recipe – roasted potatoes, shallots and garlic. Organic chicken breasts broiled with gruyere and smoked ham proved to be a fine meal indeed. Imagine a deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu, enhanced by a shwack of local watercress, tucked in for vegetable goodness, minus all the nasty breadcrumbs, butter and fat.

It worked.

The Sunset on the Pacific Coast

This is something I get to see all the time. I know, I am blessed.

Another break in the weather allowed me to hang out with Shadow for some catch and retrieve. He also got a good brushing, so he looks even more beautiful that usual.

Getting ready to hunker down inside with the furry one(s). Have a great night everyone!

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Camping? Cooking? Yes!!!

Vacation options are lurking over here at the Casa Reynolds, and one of our favorite things to do is camp. We are definitely NOT talking about hiking in, hiking out camping. Car camping is more our style, although I really think (perhaps, hope is a better word), I can eventually convince my better half to try extreme camping at some point. We shall see.

The Boys in the Forest

Dirk and Shadow were born to be wild. In the forest.

Next weekend we are heading north for our first camping trip of the season, to our beloved area of Big Sur. We are going to take Shadow, the trusty wing puppy for his first camping adventure. I have no doubt he will love it. He loves road trips. As soon as we start packing anything, he knows we are going somewhere, longer than a few hours and insists on getting in the back of the car. Unless we relent, he is a pill.  This is regardless whether he comes with, or he goes to his own camp. As long as he is in the car, he knows an adventure awaits.

At this point, we can pack, clean and cook. Hell, we could probably go back to bed for a couple hours, and he would be just fine and dandy in the back of the Volvo. We even leave the back hatch open. He won’t budge. Good boy.

On to our camping needs. Pretty easy too.

Wine and herbs are lovely

You can't pack enough of this.

We are happy to load our gear, and head out. Sounds simple. Pretty much is, but of course it requires food for thought. Or rather, thought for food.

Camping sustanence needs to be easy. You are limited with space, time and cooking equipment. And as much as I love to cook, when enjoying the great outdoors, there are more important things to focus on; like staring at the beautiful ocean, mountainside, camp fire and bottle(s) of wine. Seriously. Priorities, people.

However, since so much energy and thought goes into a trip, you should have some rocking food to go along. You are worth it.

I’ve camped enough to find through trial and error what works wonderfully and what truly is a pain in the butt. Packing enough food items that are ready to serve or need minimal prep, will help you tremendously. A few kitchen tricks can prove to be the difference between a fantastic vacation, or a lesson learned that a camp full of hungry, cold campers is not a happy campground. Indeed. And, it will allow you and your cooking buddies to concentrate on one, incredible dish that will be remembered and discussed around future campfires for a long time.

That said, with proper planning and smart cooking, one can enjoy dishes such as Whole Grilled Fish, Twice Baked Cheese Potatoes, Crispy Baked Chicken, Chile Dry Rubbed Tri Tip and more.

How about Drunkin’ Cheese Dip? Grilled Breakfast Quesadillas? Yogurt with Spring Berries and Homemade Granola?

Oh, and don’t forget the dessert! Brownies, S’More bars and Fruit Cobbler anyone?

Dinner al fresco

Eating by candlelight? I could get used to this.

This week, I will be posting some of my favorite camping food recipes. Hopefully, they will ensure you work less in your outdoor kitchen and eat better than your neighbors, (who are struggling to light their campfire in the dark right now. Maybe you should bring them a few S’more Bars for strength. Oh, and some fire sticks).

You may find yourselves eating so well in fact, that frequent camping and culinary adventures could become a regular part of your schedules, allowing you and your family to come together under the big, open skies and land we are so blessed to have privy to. And that is truly the definition of a real vacation.

A Weekend of Food.

Most of my days are filled with work, obligations, errands, chores and some fun thrown in between. Meals are planned, shopped for, and consumed.

Some are better than others. The weekends are always met with fond anticipation. Plans (or better yet), NO plans are made, and the basis of the next 48 hours revolve around sleep and food.

Yes, I’m pretty easy. Feed me. Give me some lovin’ and put me to bed. I am a happy, happy girl.

Who doesn't love food?

This stuff is awful. Honestly. Just. Walk. Away.

This weekend was no different. Woke up late on Saturday and ventured out for breakfast at one of my favorite bakeries. Croissant, eggs, cheese and strong coffee were consumed. Oh, and an almond bear claw too. Not a bear. Not a claw. Just pure love.

Lunch a few, meager hours later was at Rose’s Cafe, a local mexican joint on the strip of SB Haley St. Our Abuela usually prepares our food, but I think she must have been away, as the lunch while good, lacked the love. Still, the salsa rocked, the chips were warm, the beer was icy cold.

Home for a long, long nap. Dinner out? But of course.

Meal 3 at a new place, Square One. A new chef, some great wine and food later, we were happy folks indeed. Started with a bit of champagne. Foie and a lovely spring beet dish made us hungry all over again. How is that possible?

Our entrees were delightful. Beef cheeks (yes, who knew beef and cheeks could taste so luscious together?) over house made german noodles… Ding! Ding! Ding! A Winnaaa!

Lamb Ragu with sweet potato gnocchi? Bring it. Good thing we had a full bodied Syrah to wash it all down – otherwise we could have made ourselves sick.

Dessert was the only fail of the night. Rhubarb crisp. Not nearly enough sugar, and not crisp. But, the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a 10 year old port made up for it.

This is my savior.

If I want to eat like this, I have to run with these... 25 miles a week.

Sunday morning – How can it be I am hungry? Well, I am. So feed me. NOW.

English muffins with fried eggs, ham and cheddar. Salmon Benedict. Hash Browns. Oh, and throw some fruit in there for good measure, toot sweet.

Lunch? Uh, no. Nap? Certainly!

Aged cheeses, Mahon and Wesleydale woke me right up. Oh, and a Mortadella sammie helped the fog clear right out of my head.

Dinner of local Sole, potatoes and greens was a redeeming factor for my dietary journal. Food Journal? Really? Bwahahahaha!! Like I need a written trail of this debauchery to prove I am a food whore. C’mon people.

Fish is lovely.

Sole. With Soul.

Honestly, who do you think you are dealing with?

Okay, off to bed to enjoy a couple of chocolate chunk cookies. I kid. NOT.

The weekends rock.

Where’s Kat?

I will be back. I promise.
Yep. That’s a threat.

Flat Lynlee

Flat Lynlee. She needs to eat. For reals.

Best of 2009

2009 was a great year for many things. Food was no exception. Dirk and I are blessed to share a love and affinity for all that is um, food.

Since our lives revolve around breakfast, lunch, dinner and all in between, it seems fitting to come up the Best of List. This was a joint effort for sure. There are a good dozen plus catagories included. One of each won our hearts; the other a close contender. Here is the list:

1) Best Sandwich – First Place:

Katz’s Deli – NYC, Pastrami on Rye.
This was a beauty to behold. Hand carved, spare no fat, an equal amount of well seasoned and finely shaved meat melted in the mouth. The hearty rye, with its firm crust and fine crumb, needed nothing else. A small smear of mustard and crisp pickle on the side left us speechless.

Heaven on a plate

If any of you are vegan... Well, my condolences.

Runner Up:

Renaud’s Patisserie – Santa Barbara, Croque Monsieur.
In case anyone doesn’t know what this sandwich is made of, it’s a glorified ham and cheese. Layered between two slices of handmade bread, slathered with bechamel and gruyere cheese, it’s then  tucked under a broiler till crispy and brown. The raw talent of this local french bakery is really astounding. Good thing we aren’t within walking distance of this place, because it would be downright dangerous.

2) Best Street Food – First Place:

The Recession Special

I love dogs. All kinds.

Gray’s Papaya – NYC, The Recession Special.
Two hot dogs and a papaya juice for $4.99. Nothing else be said. Dirk likes his with mustard and sauerkraut, I prefer mine with red chili onions. Sublime either way.

Runner Up:

Loteria – Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, Chorizo Fundido.
Imagine a booth in the infamous market that’s been around for 70 plus years. You sit down, order a Hibiscus iced tea and wait for a blistering hot plate served from the broiler with nothing more than a pool of mexican cheese and chorizo sausage. Sop it up with handmade tortillas and weep a little when it’s all gone.

3) Best Cocktail – First Place:

Morton’s Steak House, Charlotte, NC, Sazerac.
I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely this was. I could have had many more of these, but I’m sure it would have been dangerous. Like, on a now you’re conscious and now you’re not level dangerous. Here is the recipe because you may very well need to make one (or two) yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • Peychaud bitters to taste
  • absinthe
  • lemon twist for garnish

Directions:

  1. Chill an old -fashioned glass by filling it with ice and letting it sit while preparing the rest of the drink.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the simple syrup and Peychaud bitters together.
  3. Add the rye whiskey and ice to the bitters mixture and stir.
  4. Discard the ice in the chilled glass and rinse it with absinthe by pouring a small amount into the glass, swirling it around and discarding the liquid.
  5. Fill the rinsed glass with crushed ice.
  6. Strain the whiskey mixture from the mixing glass.

Sterrelaan Gals

These Gals LOVE a good Dark and Stormy. True Story.

Runner Up:

Dark and Stormy, Goleta Beach House, CA.
This drink proved to be a hit day in and day out when our dear family and friends of Sterrelaan came to visit last summer. Again, here is the recipe because it has great merit in lifting the body and mind.

Ingredients:

  • In a collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • 5 oz ginger beer
  • Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

Since I know that you now have a cocktail or two to mix, I will conclude this first installment of the Best of 2009. Each and everyone of you should now get yourselves into the kitchen or bar to prepare some love for you and yours.

All this talk of great food and drink suddenly has me hankering for something to nibble and imbibe on and well. I may not have a Gray’s Papaya in the neighborhood, but I do believe I have some great cheese handy.

And a bottle of Gosling’s Rum.

Cheers!

Does This Burger Make Me Look Fat?

Another day of Twenty Ten down. Today went a bit better. And some not so.

Yin and Yang.

Auto stick german made pride

This is my joy. And um, not so joy.

Let’s deal with the worst first. My mechanic finally surfaced to let me know my 74 Volkswagen Beetle is actually a 73 engine, so the ever so easy install of an alternator is a no go. Must revert back to a generator/regulator repair. No problem, except the wiring has been messed with, and blah, blah, blah.

All I heard at this point was $$$$. And again, I’m without a car for going on two plus weeks. Not real thrilled about that. Once this beautiful little car is up and running, I may consider selling it. *sobbing silently now*.

Better moments – a good run in the morning. Got the chimney cleaned and sorted out for a burn year. Cost more than I would have liked, but it’s now all up to code and thanks to Mr. Chimney Sweep (also a Montecito Fire Fighter), I am certain I will not burn down the house or a neighbor’s. Should be good for karma.

Yesterday’s binge still reared its ugly head today. Ugh. Sluggish and fat I felt. Note to self:

Next craving for a burger will have to be met elsewhere.

The warm Pacific Ocean awaits

This is what I love. Sun. Surf. Sand.

Today I ate better. Oatmeal for breakfast, a small salmon sandwich for lunch with the usual vegetable plate and fruit. Dinner was oven baked chicken, spinach and rice. Light on the rice. Light on everything actually.

In case you don’t know, we are headed to Zihuatanejo Mexico in 11 days for a week of much needed R & R. Bathing suit season will rear its ugly head in January, so it’s every man (and woman) for themselves. I am as ready as I can be. It’s not perfect, but it is what it is.

Good health and fitness is always a work in progress, so I don’t beat myself up for my discretions too much. As long as I eat fairly well, move daily and sleep decent I am happy. Dog knows I’m not 18 any more, nor can I try to be.

The ever increasing gray sprouting on my head will attest to that.

But everyday I rise and shine, go for a run or a good walk with Shadow and complete the daily tasks and challenges facing me, make me a happy girl indeed.

And if I can have a glass or two of wine at the end of the day, so much the better.

Yin and yang people, yin and yang.

Life Gets in the Way.

Hello friends…

My best intentions of posting the ‘best’ of 2009 have alluded me for many reasons:

  1. My shower head was in need of repair. Fixed. Done.
  2. My Mom’s toilet was in need of repair. Bought the part. Installed the part. Part didn’t work. Must return to hardware store for correct part.
  3. Mixed up schedules and appointments made for a bit of chaos.
  4. My beloved car is in the shop. Again. Was supposed to be fixed on Monday. Still haven’t heard from my mechanic.
  5. Spent a good hour plotting the demise and torture of said mechanic.
  6. I am lazy.
  7. All of the above.

Okay, that said, the Best of 2009 I swear, is coming. If I’m not arrested and on trial for number 5, I will get to it over the next couple of days.

But I had to leave you all with something (this is me, actually pretending people are reading this silly blog, and returning to see if I am capable of writing some more endless dribble).

So let’s get right to it. The food.

Farmer's Market at it's finest

None of this food group made it into my belly today. Boo.

I was bad today. Because of the crazy schedule mentioned above, I was not able to prepare a simple, real breakfast, which usually includes oatmeal:

  • Scottish Oats
  • Banana
  • Flax Seeds
  • Brown sugar
  • Almond Butter

Instead, after a 3 + mile run, I showered and dressed, then proceeded to slam down a Mojo Bar and head out the door for more errands. By the time I picked up Dirk at noon, we decided to grab a bite out for lunch (another really bad idea when you are so hungry you could bite a baby’s butt through a park bench).

Insert The Habit here. Not bad. But when you go back for seconds (as in a second burger and onion rings) It. Is. Bad.

Finally home after another unsuccessful venture (see list number 2), I took a quick nap. Back up and on the road to pick up Dirk. Home again, and dinner was probably best passed on, but I do live with a strong, young Dutch boy, so I prepared (reheated) some leftover quiche and salad.

A couple glasses of wine later, and this is what you get people.

I’m not proud. But some days you just do what you can. And I’m pretty sure I have fulfilled my need of burger and bun for a while.

Tomorrow is another day. A good run will be in order. Then some oatmeal.

And then I deal with my mechanic. I vow to be gentle.