Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Party. . .

. . . in a little paper wrapper. Thank goodness they exist! You see, yesterday I sat in my last law school class EVER. Once it finished, I felt like I should have planned some kind of celebration. Thrown a party. Taken a few days off. But unfortunately I had planned to do none of those things. Truthfully, it hadn't even occurred to me what a big deal it would be to have my final class until immediately before my final class.

So after it ended I was restless, to say the least. I didn't have time to do a proper celebration because, alas, it was time to get cracking on the remaining papers and finals I have to tend to. So I did the next best thing. . . I finally found my party. And I found it in a little paper wrapper.

A flower for me. A dolphin for my toddler. A frog for the hubby. It was a great party!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sandwiched In

It's another rainy day here in Northern California. The weather gods can't make up there minds whether to give us winter rain or spring sunshine! I guess I don't mind the messy weather so much since I'm stuck inside prepping for my LAST SET OF LAW SCHOOL FINALS EVER!!! Things could certainly be worse...

As I've mentioned, I was recently inspired to explore the genre of the sandwich by all the tea sandwiches I consumed at the lovely Tea List here in Davis. I went to two lovely showers there and fell in love once again with high tea.

Today I'd like to tell you about an old favorite ~ curried egg salad. If you've never mixed curry and eggs before this may sound weird. But trust me. . . this combination is shockingly good! I should warn you that my curried egg salad is truly curried. If you're skeptical about how much curry flavor you want, you might cut this in half. Also, my inner health-nut-self refuses to go hog wild with the mayo. If you like your egg salad wetter, then by all means add more mayo.

This salad tastes best on a brown bread, like this hearty multi-grain bread. And don't you love the beautiful yellow color?


Curried Egg Salad

  • 5 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled, and peeled (I usually boil the day before)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp brown mustard (yellow will work too)
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 dashes of Tabasco (2 flits of the wrist should do!)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop the hard-boiled eggs. Mix all the ingredients. Adjust the seasonings and add more mayo, as needed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quirky Davis

Davis is bicycle-crazed. Davis is greener than green. But would you believe that here in Davis even the wildlife is quirky? This is old news to my Davis readers, but I imagine the rest of you will find this hard to imagine. So let me start at the beginning…

Davis has what we call an "arboretum" that runs through the UC Davis campus. Our arboretum isn't full of the typical tulips and water lilies, though. It's full of every type of tree, bush, and plant imaginable. We even have giant redwood trees! There's also a walk/run/bike path that borders a creek of sorts, and the creek opens out into small lakes in two spots. (Or maybe large ponds?) Understandably, the Arboretum attracts a LOT of small wildlife, from ducks to geese to turtles to rabbits.

But…even the wildlife in Davis is quirky. This time of year the ducks are nesting. They tend to pair off and then stray from the "pack," each couple seeking out their own little home. Two of these ducks have taken up residence just outside the back of the law school building, in a little water-logged ditch of some sorts. Weird. Sometimes they're floating in the water, sometimes sleeping on a patch of grass next to the water. This morning they had a bunny friend joining them, as if this little mud ditch is some kind of watering hole! Maybe you'd have to see it to fully understand, but let me tell this is quirky enough for me to laugh every morning as I pass on my way into the building.

Leave it to Nature to be resourceful. And leave it to quirky Davis to inspire even the wildlife to strike out on their own path.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Everything's Cuter in Miniature

Wouldn't this look cute with a sack of groceries and a baguette sitting in the passenger seat?

{image from here}

I really want a Mini Cooper. I know that it's not exactly a "family car." I know it only has two doors. But still. They're cute, fuel-efficient, and zippy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tea Inpired

After all the tea parties I've been to recently, both big and small, I've decided to become re-acquainted with the sandwich. I've never loved sandwiches. At least, not as a daily thing. But I definitely recognize that there are some darn good sandwiches out there. Tea sandwiches are some of the cutest, so I decided to start my sandwich kick with a tea-inspired sandwich spread.

This spread turned out great. I would recommend it for a party dip served with veggies or pita chips for dipping. It's good on focaccia bread with fixins, as pictured here.

It's also good as a wrap or as a simple but elegant tea sandwich. I know all of these statements are true because this recipe makes A LOT! Beware...

I should also mention that I've made a lot of roasted veggies in my day.

I find that the quickest and neatest way to toss them with olive oil is to use your {superbly clean} hands. Really ~ just get down and dirty. It works especially well if you have cute little hands like these:

I love having a little helper in the kitchen!


Roasted Eggplant Spread
Inspired by Ina Garten
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can canellini or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Place them on a baking sheet, then toss by hand with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, turning once during cooking.

Cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the drained beans, and pulse to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Smelly Garlic

It's been almost a month now, but during spring break we headed south towards Monterey Bay. Along the way we passed through some amazing farm country, like the fields of artichokes I already mentioned. That region is loaded with top-notch farming of all types. I was reminded of this last weekend when Emily commented that the garlic I sent her for the food exchange was HUGE.

I guess the garlic WAS huge, but I almost didn't notice. Here's why. . . I bought the garlic and the pesto in Gilroy on our trip. And, since Gilroy is less than 150 miles away from where I live, nearly all of the garlic I eat comes from there.

Gilroy is supposedly the garlic capitol of the world. The town even smells of garlic ~ in fact it smells strongly of garlic. When we've passed through on the highway we have often smelled garlic through the vents while our windows were rolled up! Last month we stopped in at a farmstand called "Garlic World" and picked up some super fresh bulbs. I sent a few to Emily in her box, and well...they're big! I'm constantly complaining that the garlic cloves don't fit in my garlic press. Such a problem, right?

Anyway, if you're ever looking for some fun with garlic, you might consider heading to Gilroy's Garlic Festival. I've never been, but I bet it's loads of fun and also pretty. . .er, smelly!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Exchange

Today's the day! I'm finally ready to reveal what I found when I opened my box from Emily ~ the box that travelled 2,500 from Tennessee! And I have to say, this girl knows how to pack a box. This thing was loaded with all KINDS of yummy treats.

One of my favorite parts was her theme because her box was all about getting WILD in the kitchen! She sent a picture of wildcats that instantly wowed my toddler.

She also included some great animal print napkins.

I loved all the cute black and white bows and the little notes she wrote me.

My toddler immediately fell in love with this rather intimidating endangered species chocolate bar. Grrrr! She begged for a taste of it last night, hoping that she could then wash it down with chocolate milk. My hubby pointed out that perhaps dark chocolate with espresso beans wasn't the greatest idea right before bed. Wise man!

Emily also sent bunches of snack bars, which all look wonderful.

Plus she sent a special little packet with treats for my little one!

And her challenge to me sounds fantastic. She has planned a 4-course Italian meal party for me to make. She sent Wasa multigrain crackers for the appetizer, which I can top with something yummy.

She sent garlic vinaigrette salad dressing for the salad course, along with some red wine vinegar. Then there's farfalle pasta and pesto for the main course, which I can embellish as I please with things like fresh spinach, tomatoes, pine nuts, or fresh-grated cheese. My toddler snatched the bow pasta right out of the box!

And of course there's the chocolate for dessert. Emily instructed that we should eat all of it. I'm sure that won't be a problem, but we'll see if the chocolates actually makes it that long. I may have to pick up another one at the store!

What a spread!

She even included a couple of packets of herb seeds for my toddler and I to have a little project together in the garden. We'll have so much fun with that.

Speaking of, remember how my toddler helped me decorate a box for Emily?

Well now you just have to go check out Emily's great site to see what we sent! I hope she liked it...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Secret

So I know I've been leading you on a bit, and now it's time to fess up. My SEMI-SECRET project is getting less secret by the second. Let me introduce you to my penpal ~ Emily from emilyeatsclean. Emily is a healthy eating blogger, and we embarked on this secret project together.

I've had so much fun getting to know Emily. She has two cats, just like I do. She grew up in the South, just like I did. She loves healthy food, just like I do. She also seems to eat a lot of Mexican food, just like I do. I also love the fact that she's full of energy and is loads of fun!

Emily and I decided to do a food exchange. We both sent each other boxes of yummy foods on Monday, and Emily's just might have arrived at my house already.

As I mentioned before, I tried to get my toddler involved in this project. She helped me shop and she decorated the box to send to Emily. We also mapped where our package would be going on Google. Turns out this little food exchange spanned over 2,500 miles! Whew.

I can't wait to hear if Emily received our box. I also can't wait to see what Emily sent me. I'm really super excited about this. She's been saying that she mailed me a giant turkey leg in hopes of ending my vegetarian habit. I've hinted to her that I sent her a box full of beef jerky to help her with her "clean eating."

But we're both joking. At least I hope so!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Shower Effect

I don't know about you, but I love weddings and I adore babies. The last two weekends I had the good fortune to participate in not one but TWO showers ~ the first was the bridal shower that I co-hosted and the second was a baby shower. Both were splendid.

And both involved an elegant tea service at my favorite new discovery in town ~ Tea List.

So now I'm sold on the idea of having tea, sandwiches, and a reason to get together for a little party every weekend.

Honestly, almost nothing makes me feel more positive or more hopeful than the thought of two people in love or a precious baby being born. This is especially true when a dear friend is involved.

I left these parties feeling a true high. (Although maybe it was just a buzz from all that tea!)

I also left with a whole new appreciation for the sandwich.

Those tea sandwiches were great! My favorite was simple and classic ~ cucumber, mint, cream cheese, and yogurt on white bread.

The flowers weren't bad either. I always love an excuse to visit a florist!

So let me leave you with one question ~ any chance you have a baby or bridal shower I could plan?

I promise to take lots of pictures!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I've been getting questions, so I guess it's time to tell you a bit more about my SUPER SECRET PROJECT. Now I'm calling it a SEMI-SECRET PROJECT, but there are still many details yet to be revealed.

As I already mentioned, this project involves a pen pal. My toddler and I worked on getting this box ready to ship to her.

My toddler made sure that it would arrive in style. She pulled out her fruit and veggie stickers, and she placed each one in the perfect spot.

And she kept reciting what each of the stickers was ~ "This is corn." "This is eggplant." It was super cute because the next day she had a blast identifying all the fruits and veggies in person at the grocery store. She was unbelievably excited about it all!

I lined the box for my pen pal with a little color. Now it's ready to be filled.

Any guess what went inside? I might tell you soon. But then I guess I can't call it a SEMI-SECRET project anymore.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fancy Beans

I've been trying to pretend spring is truly here, but unfortunately the weather gods don't always listen to me. Today in Northern California it has been cold, WINDY, and wet. So I decided to feature a wintery recipe that I made back when it really was winter.

Lentils are cheap, hearty, and healthy. Since the French eat them, I figure they can also be called "fancy." Back when I made these I used my favorite 3-pronged approach to fancy them up even more, and the result was rich and satisfying. These lentils are vegan-friendly (just omit the cheese) and are great served alone or over pasta.


Lentil Stew
Serves 6-8 and freezes well
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 8oz pkg pre-sliced mushrooms, preferably cremini
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 lb. dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup grated or shredded parmigiano regiano
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the onion, pepper flakes, thyme, and parsley and saute until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes. Add the carrots, lentils, wine, stock, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for approximately 40 minutes. When the carrots and lentils are soft but still have some structure to them, the stew is finished. Stir in the parmigiano reggiano until the cheese melts into the sauce and serve alone or over pasta.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Super Secret

I have a SUPER SECRET pen pal. I haven't had a pen pal since I was a kid, so I'm thrilled. In fact, this morning I'm working on a SUPER SECRET blogger project with my SUPER SECRET pen pal.

I would tell you about the project, except,'s SUPER SECRET, of course. Maybe I will very soon, though. Or at least I'll give you another hint. I guess at that point it won't be SUPER SECRET anymore. . . but let's not think about that. I'm not ready. Right now, I can say it's SUPER SECRET.

Are you ready for my SUPER SECRET project?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


What's your favorite bug to eat? A butterfly?


Ladybug or bumblebee?

I'd go with the butterfly. And do you prefer to top your bugs with super sweet American-style icing, or with barely sweet vanilla whipped cream?

I prefer the vanilla cream. Any guess what I like to eat alongside my bugs?

Colorful berries, of course. You get the richness of freshly whipped buttercream without all the sugar. This combination might even have fewer calories. But then again...who really cares when you're eating bugs!


Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and vanilla. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form, then pipe onto your favorite vanilla bug cake.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Disney World or Beach Town?

When we visited Carmel recently I couldn't help but wonder whether we had accidentally ended up in Disney World by mistake. Don't get me wrong ~ I love the Disney parks. But there's no question that when I'm there I feel like I'm in another time and another place.

As an example of my Carmel experience, I fell in love with this little place called the Tuck Box. It's an English tearoom that serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.

They serve everything from scones to sandwiches to Shepherd's Pie.

It looks like a little house straight out of Beatrix Potter or Snow White, don't you think?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why I Love Spring

~The swish of pretty spring dresses~

~The sunny flowers my hubby brings home~

~The tea parties~

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fine Dining

On our trip last week we dined up and down the Monterey Bay. (One of my favorite parts of the trip, of course!) One of my most vivid memories is from our last night there when we had dinner overlooking the water. We were just next to some rocks, so we experienced the full effect of the ocean as the waves crashed against them. We sipped on margaritas and a family of adorable sea otters played just a few feet from us. It was really a hoot to watch them in action!

By the time we got back home I was thoroughly hooked on the whole dining experience. While I had no way to re-create the ocean views, I at least tried to stick with my approach for veggie sophistication. I didn't have any mushrooms, but I did incorporate wine and cheese into the meal.

This recipe is an old asparagus favorite ~ perfect for springtime.

I spruced it up a bit by experimenting with fontina. On our trip I picked up some locally grown and produced Riesling marinated garlic, which I've never cooked with before. As you see from the pictures, I used it in this dish.

While I look forward to trying the marinated garlic in other things, I definitely prefer fresh garlic here. It's such a simple recipe that the kick from the fresh garlic is essential. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Fontina, and Garlic
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti (I prefer whole wheat)
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces Fontina, cubed
  • 6 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Cook the asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove asparagus from boiling water to a bowl of ice water to cool and stop the cooking. When cool, strain, cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces, and set aside.

Return the water in the pot to a boil, adding additional water, if necessary. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add asparagus to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the pasta, and if needed, some of the reserved cooking liquid. Toss to coat. Add the fontina and basil and toss to combine. The cheese will melt and coat the spaghetti as you stir. Turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve.
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