Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Road to the Final Four

Months ago, Dr. C., our son Ryan and I found out we had gotten tickets to the Final Four through the NCAA's ticket lottery.  I was ecstatic, since this is a bucket list thing for me.  I am a college basketball fanatic, and look like Telly Monster from Sesame Street some weekends, I've watched so much of it. 
And then Indiana's Governor decided to sign this bill that legalizes discrimination, but under the guise of religious freedom.  My brain was exploding with thoughts of "how could they do that?"   My stomach has been in knots this week, thinking about the impact this will have on friends, and the sheer audacity of public servants who pass bills like this but won't fix their roadways, or invest in their children's education.

We considered boycotting, but then a friend said, don't boycott, go and support the mayor of Indianapolis, who signed an executive order protecting everyone's rights. 
I'm hoping that by going, we will be the change we hope to see in the world.  I'm teaching in Indiana after the Final Four for a friend I've known for almost 20 years, and I know he's a businessman who welcomes everyone into his store...I'm honored to work with him, and want to support businesses in Indiana like his. 
So, we are heading into the storm, but hopeful that all will be well--that means Kentucky doesn't win and upset Indiana's perfect season in 1976. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

From the Other Side of the Counter

I'm at Great News this morning but I'm on the other side of the counter, rather than teaching.  My friend Jenny Goycochea is teaching Craft Beer Comfort Foods.  Jenny is passionate about food, but craft beers are her specialty.  Having worked for Stone Brewery when I first met her, she is the oracle when it comes to knowing about craft beer.  Note here, I'm not a beer drinker.

Our first pour is a Ballast Point Big Eye....this is a hoppy and acidic beer to my taste, served alongside some swoon-worthy crab cakes with a spicy IPA hollandaise and frisee salad.  The balance of the rich crab cakes with the spicy hollandaise and a bitter green salad with a champagne vinaigrette was the perfect start for the morning.

Our next dish is a Pale Ale Mac and Cheese with sun dried tomatoes, kale, aged cheddar and Gruyere.  The pairing for this was Stone Pale Ale.  Who doesn't love Mac and Cheese?  This was delicious, and I have to admit I liked the pairing of the pale ale with the richness of the mac and cheese.

Pizza is my middle name so the beer crust flat bread with caramelized onions, potatoes, goat cheese and arugula made with a Brown Ale, was right up my alley.  Paired with Golden Road Get Up Off of that Brown, the balance of flavors here is right on with the sweetness of the onions, and the creaminess of the goat cheese was spectacular.

Next up is a Moroccan Chicken and Stout Stew  with Horseradish and Herb Mashed potatoes.  Jenny has chosen a Guinness extra which is a dry stout, rather than the sweeter Guinness.  

Savory with Rash al Hanout, these chicken thighs were falling off the bone tender, and the contrast between the smooth spicy potatoes and the rich Stout enriched broth was outstanding.  I'm not a spicy food person, but all these flavors were so well balanced, you wanted another bite after the first one.
Last but not least we have Jenny's take on banana pudding, with home made vanilla cookies, roasted bananas  and Thunderweizen Lightning Hefeweizen in the pudding, candied pecans and caramel.  Not your mama's banana pudding for sure, the Hefeweizen was light, with a bit of a sweet taste, that complimented the banana pudding, and the caramel.  Between the crunch of the cookies, and nuts, the creaminess of the pudding, and the silky caramel this is a dessert worth 5 stars, with a few components that can be made ahead of time.
Just FYI, I started eating before I took the photo---it was sublime!

When I sit in on a cooking class I learn something new, no matter how long I've been doing this, I always take something away.  Jenny is an exceptional teacher; she gives you great information, and the flavors of the food show that she puts thought into balancing sweet, spicy, creamy, and crunchy to make each dish something to savor.  Great morning, drinking beer before noon. If you are interested in craft beers, Jenny is teaching a few classes at Great News in the next few months, so sign up now!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Season of Giving--Giving Tuesday

Gifts come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. The photo above is of a man who bought a "Pasta Pass" from Olive Garden, then proceeded to try and feed the homeless with the food that he received with the pass.  As we think about the gifts we give this season, it's important to remember those who won't be receiving gifts, let alone have enough to eat. 

Here in San Diego it's simple to donate to the Jacobs-Cushman food bank; you bring non-perishables to a red barrel in supermarkets, and some supermarkets will charge you an extra $10 (with your permission) to donate to a bag of food to the food bank. 

There are many ways to give, but my point is that we should give generously to those in need.  Today in San Diego it is a cold and rainy day; there are homeless under the overpasses, just trying to find shelter from the storm.  Donating to local charities will help some of these people get a hot meal or shelter if they need it.  So instead of buying Uncle George that tie, maybe donate in his name to your favorite charity.  If he's like me, it would mean more than a gift bought at the last minute that I don't really need. 
Today is "Giving Tuesday" and after all the hype with Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, take the time to think about those in need, and give. If you order things from Amazon you might want to order from Amazon smile, some proceeds from the sale of your items will go to a charity of your choice. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Season of Giving

It's that time of year again, and whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday at this time of year, there will be presents.  This year (barring any unforeseen shoulder breaks, or broken bones) I will try and post a gift a day for the next two weeks.  My first book published in 1993 was The Perfect Mix, a book filled with nothing but mixes that you put together and gave as gifts.  Unfortunately now out of print, some of these recipes will be from the book, as well as new recipes that I've developed since then.  These are items easily put together in your home kitchen, to give as gifts to friends, co-workers, and those you want to remember at this time of year.
Trust me, homemade gifts are as rare as dinosaur eggs, and it's time to teach your children, and those you love that gifts from your kitchen can make the holidays merry and bright.  Try enlisting your children to make some of these gifts, since they are simple, but filled with great foods to enjoy during the holidays.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love a cookie?  This gift practically makes itself and you can have your kids layering the ingredients into the jars, while you print off the recipes for your friends.  This recipe will make 1 jar, that holds 8 cups.  Layer in the order given, or change it up to suit your needs.

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla powder (or sub in vanilla extract in the recipe card)
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Variations:  Add 1 cup dried cranberries to the layer between the oats and flour.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 4 dozen
One jar Oat Meal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, line baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.  
  2. Put the mix in a large bowl, and blend in the butter, egg, and egg yolks until the mixture is incorporated.  
  3. Using a portion scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, 2inches apart.  
  4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the edges are dark golden brown.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. 

Ideas for decorating the jar can be raffia tied to the recipe, custom made labels ( bits of seasonal fabric cut with pinking shears to cover the jar top and sprigs of silk holly, or ivy.  I tend to use wired ribbon since it holds up well. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


As I look forward to tomorrow and Thanksgiving, I realize how grateful I am for so many things.  I'm grateful every day (for the most part) but when Thanksgiving rolls around, I realize how many people, experiences, and rewards have come my way, and I am so very thankful for it all. Scientists say that people who are grateful, are happier people.  
As you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner, I wish you all a joyous holiday filled with the love, laughter and joy of being together with those who mean the most to you.