Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving Recap And Future Gathering Readiness

It was a stellar one. Simple and sweet. With a perfect, West Coast twist.

we did our baking

berry was first to get its marching orders, followed by pumpkin 

my cutie pie made her own cute pie

... and also adorable signs and place cards

tabletop was sparse and basically season-less, just like california

these were the best homegrown green olives, a hostess gift
they went gloriously with dried apricots + cheese for starters

maximum simplicity

When one of my brothers arrived, he pointed out that it was eighty degrees outside (sorry, rest of the country) and why on earth was our table in the house. We immediately lifted it up, settings and all, and carried it to the backyard just in time to sit down. Brilliant.

It turned into the most beautiful, unplanned meal al fresco for Thanksgiving. We started at around three o'clock, and I stayed sleeveless into the dark. 

it was back inside only to grab some of this 

Unless it's raining, I'll be doing Thanksgiving this way every year from now on. And probably every other holiday as well. And maybe even dinner this weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving... Give Me What I Know And Love

As I've said before, I am an utter traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. Don't fix it if it ain't broke -- a gem of a saying and I think probably one of the most overlooked keys to happiness in life. Especially in our fast and furious world, where everyone and technology seems to be looking for the next better way to do things. But updates aren't always an improvement. Sometimes, they're just confusing, and glitchy, and unsatisfying. 

So, no exciting new side dishes or exotic stuffings for me. I can be adventurous in the kitchen on the other three hundred sixty-four days of the year. On this day, give me what I know and love, how I know it and love it. Basic, unfussy Thanksgiving fare, with the flavors we grew up on. The one place where I'm game to change things up? The pie crust!

last year's foray into crust adventures -- a dotted edge

my twist on thanksgiving yams is as exotic as i get.
recipe here 

Persimmon Pomegranate salad. Okay, so I broke my no new side dish policy when I added this in last year. But only because it fell into a previously unfilled category -- salad. I'd never had one in the mix, and this was just too spectacular. Says Fall like nothing else. It was love at first sight and bite at this soiree

recipe here

The rest of the menu is classic fixings all the way. Ours goes like this... 

Turkey stuffed with fresh rosemary and thyme, lathered in olive oil, butter, and dried herbs, sprinkled with a little chicken stock, and roasted uncovered at high heat. Yukon gold mashed potatoes made extra rich with cream cheese and sour cream. Stuffing prepared with sauteed green apples, celery, and walnuts, the way I know it. A simple veggie side of either crisp haricort verts with butter, salt, and fresh squeezed lemon, or else Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and Parmesan. My Citrus Yams (already at the party above). Gravy usually made easier and lighter with corn starch in lieu of flour. Soft dinner rolls from the bakery ('til I attempt my own bread making). And two perfect pies that I bake the night before -- traditional pumpkin and our family fave, mixed berry. 

Glorious simplicity... every year. 

{One day, I'll put all of the measurements in order and share full recipes.} 

Leftover ingredients, such as persimmons and rosemary, can also make for sweet, last minute additions to the table

candles do the rest

A few more Thanksgiving thoughts here and here.

Wishing all a happy day, soaking up all the goodness that's on your table and sitting around it! xx

Saturday, November 1, 2014

In The Kitchen -- Hot Apple Cider Glory

At the most relaxing Halloween gathering I think I can ever recall, in the home of Kristina of Estilo, I was treated to a divine concoction -- a hot gin apple cider that Stephanie of Shindig stirred up for the grown ups to sip while trick-or-treating. It made for the night's perfect witches' brew, and this warm mug of delight will now be bewitching me throughout the colder days and holidays ahead.

The recipe is adapted from this rum cider punch, but in swapping out rum for gin, it has a lightness that sets it apart from other festive ciders that I mostly find to be overly sweet. This one is simply the best I've encountered. 

It goes like this...

Gin+Ginger Hot Apple Cider


8 cups apple cider
1 apple, thinly sliced in circles
1 orange, thinly sliced in circles
2 cinnamon sticks
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups gin, or desired amount

In a large pot, combine all ingredients except for the gin, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the gin, or else add it to each serving in individual cups. Needless to say, sans any alcohol, this makes for a glorious treat for all ages. 

Welcome, Autumn!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Daytime Dating aka Couples Who Lunch

I've always been more of a day person than night (with the exception of my years living in NYC where I was a round-the-clock person). Longtime favorite daytime indulgence -- stealing an afternoon movie. 

When kids entered the picture, nighttime adventures took on another level of daunting for me. It's simply not that easy to gear up for an evening out when you're... chronically exhausted? And, of course, there's the whole sitter conundrum/expense. 

So lately, I've made a return to my 'I love the daylife' roots and have embarked on a bit of a couples-who-lunch roll. While the kids are at school, my husband and I have been giving ourselves time outs and meeting up for lunch. Other countries have long embraced the art of dropping everything midday to savor life and good food, and it's feeling pretty brilliant to me at this point. Plus, there are no sitters required and I never have to make that end of day choice between motivating to go out or collapsing on the couch in my sweats. 

Daytime dating is fab... especially when you don't have the pulse of a big city keeping you wired for the nightlife. 

there is a table for two somewhere just waiting


sometimes fresh air and a quick food grab does the trick 

when we really play hooky, this occasionally happens

even our anniversary this year was lunch out instead of dinner


Monday, September 15, 2014

In The Kitchen -- Arugula Salad Loveliness


A favorite salad that I've been making for years. It's light and refreshing while flavorful and divine. Perfect for dinner time, but I actually first threw this together to serve for a brunch alongside quiche -- still possibly my top way to have it.

It goes like this...

Start with Arugula, scatter with Parmesan Cheese shavings, sprinkle with Pine Nuts, drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fresh squeezed Lemon Juice, add a little Salt and fresh ground Pepper. Voila, simple salad deliciousness, inside and out.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation...

Our summer recipe this year was simple and time tested. It went like this...


Good Food
Good Friends
Happy Pets
Nights Al Fresco
Loose Plans

Mix all ingredients together, simmer for as long as possible, then reheat the memories over and over.

'til next year...

* A variation to this recipe to keep summer vacation from ever ending -- throw everything into storage, take the kids out of school, and travel the world for an entire year. That's the deliciousness friends cooked up. Read about it here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Dreamy Industrial Space -- Babcock Winery

A daytrip to go wine tasting in Santa Barbara Wine Country is always a treat. When a winery like Babock enters the picture, it's a whole other experience. Usually, it's the surrounding landscape that makes for all the eye candy swooning, but in this case, what looms inside the walls is surprisingly rad.

While my tasting compadres tasted, I spent the majority of our time at this stop feasting on (and iphone-ing in) the spectacular space and all of its goodies. It's winery meets Paris flea market, and it is utterly dreamy.

This winery also happened to be a highlight tasting experience of the day (Brian Babcock was named a top ten winemaker), and we left with a bottle of the 2012 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills, a group fave. Undoubtedly, we'll be making our way back here again sooner than later.

Let's take a little stroll through... 

greetings, wine tasters

the great indoors

the paris flea lives in california

that rug. that floor. swoon.

the separate seventies rock 'n roll room 

even the bathroom has paris flea charisma

'til next time!