Today I dragged a very reluctant, nay truculent, Monkey to downtown Petaluma for some Christmas shopping. I wanted to make our gift purchasing as local as possible, including not taking the car, but walking from home, and focusing on buying locally sourced/crafted products from small businesses.
First we stopped in at Bovine Bakery in my bid to turn around Monkey’s mood. I wondered if he might not be a tad hangry (that feeling that crops up when you get to the wrong side of hunger). Sure enough, a decadent and giant slice of pizza topped with gruyere, artichoke hearts, feta and ham, soon put a smile on his face. While I don’t typically eat gluten or cow milk products, I couldn’t resist taking a bite (or two, or three). The crust was yeasty and crunchy in all the right places. The saltiness of the cheese was nicely offset by the artichoke hearts, mushrooms and tomato sauce. The ham gave it a certain weight. Monkey was soon smiling and ready to spend the dollars he’d made selling his Pokeman cards and other toys, on Christmas gifts. > Read more
For those of you who are regular readers, you’ll remember how heartbroken I was when we suddenly lost my dear companion, Hector, back in August. While the pain isn’t so acute, he has definitely left a hole in our family which shall be forever his. He was the patriarch in our pack for many years.
You may also recall our crazy trip down Interstate 5 to pick up Tank, a humongous black dog who I felt insanely compelled to rescue after seeing pictures of his pitiful condition and reading about his near-death encounters after a bout of double pneumonia and chemical buns. I say “insanely compelled” because as everyone knows I already have a more than full plate with Monkey, my job and another Lab, Electra, but she was so depressed after Hector died it broke my heart even more. So, despite all rational counsel from concerned friends and family, I went ahead anyway.
So here we are on Thanksgiving Day 2013 and my first thought as I blink myself awake from a much-needed long, deep sleep and ask myself what am I thankful for, is that I’m surprisingly thankful for Tank. Why surprising? Well let me explain… > Read more
While I am usually an omnivore, I have been playing around with a vegan diet for the past couple of months. Mostly I haven’t eaten meat, dairy or gluten, and I have to say I haven’t really missed those ingredients on my plate. Occasionally I’ll splurge on a piece of goat cheese, or sneak in a piece of bread and butter and savor it mightily, but because my digestion thanks me when I don’t entertain these items on a daily basis I’ve stuck with it.
Many months ago, I booked a spot on an Indian cooking class at the SF Cooking School, which has incidentally just celebrated its first birthday, and while I love cooking and eating vegetables I was feeling ready to spice up my cooking by the time the class came around.
On a foggy, windy night in San Francisco, a group of 20 of us gather in the shiny, brightly lit kitchen on Van Ness and Turk. An interesting cross-section of the city’s inhabitants meander outside. Having battled my way past a woman sporting a bright red coat and underwear, I’m greeted by our instructor, Meghna, who runs her own cooking school, Crimson Kitchen, in Noe Valley in San Francisco. She’s a warm, cheery woman who moved to the USA when she got married. She explains to us that we are going to be cooking mostly North Indian food which, due to the region’s history, draws on Muslim, Persian and Afghanistan influences.
The conversation turns to Indian dishes we’re familiar with and I’m surprised to learn that chicken tikka masala isn’t really an Indian dish, but a creation of the British who took chicken tikka (grilled chicken) and added a creamy sauce to it. Anyway, back to the principles of Indian cooking. Not surprisingly, at the heart of every Indian cook’s kitchen is a spice box. Often a round tin, it contains individual containers of all the things you use on a daily basis including cumin seeds – whole and ground are different so be sure to use what the recipe calls for, coriander powder, chili powder and fenugreek seeds (which have therapeutic powers). > Read more
The Slow Club. It’s been a permanent fixture of the Potrero flats for as long as I can remember, and that’s over a decade. It is a little gem of place: tucked away on a corner, (Mariposa and Hampshire in case you’re interested) and was decked out with concrete, glass and metal long before the ‘loft’ look went mainstream.
Last weekend we wanted to fill our bellies before checking out Open Studios - which incidentally runs through November 9 in case you’re hungry for art. My young companions were dying for a burger after a bracing stint at Ocean Beach and I recalled the Slow Club’s burgers being gourmand-worthy. In fact, the joint is listed on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand 2014 list so you don’t have to just take my word for it.
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Ancient cultures believed sugar to have medicinal benefits, and perhaps in limited, occasional circumstances it may have a positive impact, and we all know Mary Poppins’ famous line: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”. Today though, sugar is responsible for many ills.
It’s been hard to miss the headlines about sugar’s bad rap over the past few years. Its damaging, addictive effects on our physiology have been likened to cocaine; scientists link over-consumption to heart disease, obesity and more, and we know it can make usually calm children bounce off the walls. But what hasn’t been so obvious to me, until our recent trip to Maui, is the harmful effects its farming and processing have on the local environment.
In the late 1800s sugar plantations sprung up all over Hawaii and you can still see the vestiges of plantation living all over the islands. Victorian mansions can be spotted here and there, no doubt some the homes of sugar plantation owners. In many areas you will spot derelict factories made of rusted corrugated iron, just left to rot on the landscape, (the last sugar cane plantation on Kauai closed in 2009 against a backdrop of losing millions of dollars). On Maui however, sugar cane is still widely grown, harvested, processed and shipped to the mainland under the C&H brand.
Abandoned plantation factory
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