Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading Between the Wines Book Tour Schedule

SUN 10TH: NYC -appearance at Union Square Wine & Spirits; reading, signing
MON 11th: NYC - dinner at Craftbar, co-sponsored by Chambers St W&S.
TUE 12th: NYC Early evening book appearance at Chambers St W&S.
Late-night pig-roast book party at Terroir.
WED 13th: BOSTON dinner at Menton
THU 14th: VT dinner at The Pitcher Inn, Warren.
MON 18th: MINNEAPOLIS dinner at Alma
TUE 19TH: MADISON, WI dinner at L’Etoile
WED 20TH: CHICAGO -luncheon at Trotter’s.
SATURDAY the 23rd SAN FRANCISCO West Coast Live
Ferry Plaza gig in the afternoon
MONDAY the 25th LOS ANGELES. and back for a book gig at The Wine House.
TUESDAY the 26th Chez Panisse dinner
WEDNESDAY the 27th Coi dinner.
THU 28TH SEATTLE book dinner , place is as yet unknown.
8TH: BIRMINGHAM, AL. dinner at Highlands
9TH: CHARLESTON, SC. Dinner at McCready’s

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lemonade Stand

To my delight, it has been a cold summer in San Francisco. While the East Coast has has had warm days again and again, we have rarely gotten above 70. Yesterday, however, it got to be either 98 or 99 or 103 in SF, depending upon which source you believe. Given that this is a city that lacks air conditioning, it was hot as hell.

Mid day a tweet came out:
I need to recruit a six year old to have a perpetual lemonade stand outside the shop here. That, or I'll just do it myself.

That was followed quickly by:
@alphaprep Great plan! I bet you could get @educatedpalates daughter Katie to do it!

Soon enough a plan was made. At 2 pm this afternoon K and I manned (girled?) a lemonade stand outside of Omnivore Books. Powdered mix was, of course, not a possibility. We ended up with fresh squeezed lemonade, blackberry lemonade and homemade chocolate chip cookies. To my surprise, the cookies were the most popular.

But I wanted to say a few words about the blackberry lemonade. Because it seemed to confuse people. As I have mentioned before, we have a large number of blackberry bushes in our backyard. Enough that by this point in the season, my hands and lower arms are well scratched. I look like I have been in a fight with a non-domesticated cat and have lost. Last week, I even managed to get a thorn in one of my toes.

Blackberry lemonade was developed for a party last year. It creates the pinkest lemonade I have ever made. The recipe is simple enough, make your favorite lemonade and add frozen blackberries. The liquid turns pink and the berries help to keep the drink cool. Perfect for a summer tea party with a group of 8 year olds, but also interesting enough for adults. Also recommended with added bourbon post sale.

K, by the way, is ready for another stand. Anyone want to join her?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More peaches

After our peach canning day Sunday I came home with a full flat. Given that they have a tendency to ripen in bunches, it soon became clear that simply eating was not going to work. I'm home this week with K, a situation that always leads to baking. Yesterday, apple-blackberry pie and blueberry bread. Today pancakes and for our peaches:

Peach-Cinnamon Muffins(the lazy way)
Note that these are not the overly sweet, cake like muffins you find out these days. If you like a sweeter, cakier muffin you can add more sugar and use just white flour.

3 T melted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder1 egg
1 cup milk
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups peaches, chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Put muffin papers in a 12 compartment tin.

Mix together all dry ingredients in a bowl or mixer. Most recipes suggest that you then combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl before adding them to the dry. I confess, I just added them straight to the bowl. Stir together until combined, but still somewhat lumpy. Add peaches and stir until just until mixed. Spoon into muffin tins and bake approximately 25 minutes until muffins are lightly browned.

We like to freeze these so they can be part of an easy school day breakfast.

Yesterday's pie made a great breakfast today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

When life gives you Peaches

Make jam. And barbecue sauce. And relish. And blackberry-peach jam. And still have 2 flats of peaches to enjoy during the week.

This year my canning buddy Lisa went in on a partial share of a Masumoto Elberta peach tree. http://www.masumoto.com/public/adoption.htm She picked on Saturday, bringing home around 50 pounds of peaches, both Elberta and then another, more red-fleshed variety that we did not know the name of.

Sunday, joined by Randy who had won a day of canning with us in my daughter's school fund raising auction and my mother, who was in town for a rare visit (and pictured here), we decided on four projects. First up was an overnight traditional peach jam. Second was a peach relish, with onions, tomatoes, and spices that was oven cooked. Third, peach barbecue sauce. Our fourth project was my favorite of the day, a peach-blackberry jam (pictured) featuring berries from my backyard that I had been freezing as they ripened.

I'll include the recipe for the barbecue sauce here (the orange pot in the picture below), but let me know in the comments below or email if you would like any of the others.

Peach BBQ Sauce
12 cups finely chopped pitted peeled peaches
2 cups finely chopped seeded red pepper
2 cups finely chopped onion
6 T finely chopped garlic
2 1/2 cups honey
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
4 t hot pepper flakes (less if you are very spice sensitive)
4 t dry mustard
4 t salt
1/4 cup bourbon (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except bourbon. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. reduce eat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. We found that it took an hour for us to be happy with the consistency. Note that this sauce will still be slightly chunky. If you like a thinner, more traditional sauce, you can puree all or some in a blender.
Ladle into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process jars for 15 minutes.

While some of us cooked and chopped and processed, one of us read in the sun with a cat at her feet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Can Jam Crushed Tomatoes

And in August our Can Jam our assignment was tomatoes. II would say that I have been waiting all year to can tomatoes, but it is really since mid February when last year's share of 60 lbs ran out. Sadly though, with our unusually cold weather, tomatoes are not ready in the Bay Area. I have given up on getting tomatoes from my garden and even places like Mariquita have said that it will be September before we have a true harvest. But, I was determined, and the one week they were available scored a box of their early girls. Since I knew we would be doing a lot more tomatoes in September I opted for the relatively quick and easy option of crushed tomatoes, based on recipes from Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved and Ball's.

Crushed Tomatoes
20 pounds ripe, unblemished tomatoes (I used Early Girls)
2 teaspoons salt per quart (14 for me)
3 1/2 teaspoons citric acid (1/2 tsp per quart)

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Drop the tomatoes into the water, count for 30 seconds and remove. Cool by running under cold water in your sink.

Slit the tomato skins and peel them off. They should come off easily. I strongly suggest bribing an 8-year-old to help with this process. Core tomatoes and squeeze out their seeds. I was fairly lazy about this step. Place tomatoes in a large pan. I needed two for the quantity I was working with. Crush leaving some chunks. I used a potato masher and re-bribed the 8 year old for help!

Heat the tomatoes and boil gently for 10 minutes. I then removed some of the juice, which you can can and process (40 minutes) or simply refrigerate. For a woman who has never liked tomato juice, this is a revelation. It makes for an amazing Bloody Mary, especially when garnished with home pickled green beans!

Place 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 tsp citric acid in each quart jar. Ladle in tomatoes, allowing 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rims and turn the bands until fingertip tight. Process for 45 minutes. Spend much of that time wondering why you have just not given in and purchased a pressure canner. Promise 8 year old that Mama will be done "soon."

I ended up with 7 quarts tomatoes and 3 quarts tomato juice.

The 8-year-old ended up with a trip to her beloved main library and an ice cream cone.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day of the Doon

Apologies for the lack of posting, but I have had a stomach flu. Not that it is true in my case, but I found the old joke: I am just one stomach flu away from my goal weight, running in a loop in my head. One of those weeks.
I did manage to drag myself out of bed for a memorable dinner Wednesday night with Jon Bonne and Terry Theise at Ame. Sometimes, even though you end up back in your sickbed the next day, it is worth getting up. All that I will say, and I could say a lot, is that any man willing to publicly wear a crown handmade by an 8-year-old, is a good person. Perhaps a better person than I am, as I was willing to hide said crown under the table. Instead, I have pictures to delight K.

Yesterday I attended Randall Grahm's annual Day of the Doon Event. I've been before, because as I have mentioned before, I have been a DEWN member since sometime in the early 90s. Under my maiden name at first even. Yesterday's event was at Randall's new property in San Juan Bautista. For more information on that property and many of the other changes going on in Randall's life, do not miss Jon Boone's front page piece in today's Chronicle: http://bit.ly/bjGcup The piece showcases not only the changes with Randall and Bonny Doon, but also Jon's writing talent. Randall describes the new spot as magical, to me the magic is in the possibilities. It is impossible to stand on the hill, open land all around and not imagine what could be. Seeing the first planting only intensifies that feeling.

The event yesterday featured nibbles with sparkling Riesling on the hill with a chance for Randall to talk about his plans for the property. We then walked down and visited their biodynamic compost before heading to their barn for a sit down meal. Food highlights for me we the pig and the panna cotta. Wine highlights included a couple of older vintages of Cigare, 01, 03 and 05. Our table debated our favorite. See the menu below:

It was a wonderful and warm event, with fun companions and a sense of joy and possibility. For me, a highlight was having Randall's daughter, Melie and friends put flowers in my hair. It was one of those moments when life is simply good. A day to remember.