Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A More Nutritious Almond

While over for dinner one evening, our friend Lis recommended a way to prepare almonds to snack on and they were exceptionally good. I already love almonds, raw, roasted, salted... whatever. But these came out different; crispy, tasty and believe it or not, even better for you than a regular almond.

Why is it better? Well, when nuts are soaked overnight in a salt water brine then dried in a warm oven or dehydrator they are easier to digest, and their nutrients more readily available. When the temperature is kept low for drying the nuts, the enzymes that are activated through the soaking stay in tact providing more nutrients than if they were roasted in a hot oven.

  • 1 lb raw almonds
  • 1 tbl sea salt
  • filtered water, enough to cover almonds


  1. Mix almonds with salt and filtered water and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain in a colander.
  3. Spread on a stainless steel baking pan, or dehydrator tray.
  4. Place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit) for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally, until completely dry and crisp. (If using a dehydrator use the setting for nuts/seeds or just make sure it’s less than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  5. Store in an airtight container
I did one batch for longer (48 hours) and the almonds got really crispy and slightly brown on the inside. They were REALLY good! You can use either skinned or skinless almonds, I have not tried skinless but some people prefer it.

I found raw almonds at Whole Foods for about $9/lb (ouch!). I found them at the Alemany Farmer's Market in San Francisco for about $4/lb (much better.) The almonds you get at the farmer's market are going to be local, better quality and true "raw" almonds. Mass produced and packaged raw almonds are often pasturized and often include old, imported and inferior nuts. So support your local grower and buy from the farmer's market!

You can order California Almonds online at: D&S Ranches

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bi-Rite Creamery....oh so good!

Last week I picked up my kiddo Baxter and his two friends, Jade and Sophia, after school and we went for our weekly ice cream treat. Often it is just Spongebob-on-a-stick from the Mexican "paleteros" who wait at the school bus stop, but Jade's mom has talked me into upgrading the event to "real ice cream". So, we have been ending up at the Bi-Rite Creamery on warm San Francisco afternoons.

Bi-Rite is located at 3692 18th St. in San Francisco at Dolores, right by Dolores Park. They use local, organic ingredients and make their ice cream in small batches. They have a really cute store front and, on a beautiful afternoon, a line that can reach the corner. It is always worth the wait, the staff is always friendly, the ice cream is delicious and it is always fun to try and pick a flavor.

They always have unusual flavors available which is a treat for the adventurous pallet. On this day they were offering Salted Caramel (so good), Vegan Chocolate Coconut, Honey Lavender and Orange Cardamom (which was actually Blood Orange and was an amazing shade of red).

If you are in SF and you are lucky enough to have a nice, warm day, I highly recommend driving around the block 20 times to find a parking space, waiting in a 15-minute line down the street, settling on a flavor or two (because you will want to try at least 3 or 4) and enjoying one of the best ice cream cones in the city.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!

Today is my Grandma's 90th birthday, I think. Most of her life she thought that her birthday was on April 26th. When she was in her 60's she got a copy of her birth certificate and it said she was born on April 22nd. Crazy huh?

A while ago when I was at her place she was going through her mail and she said, "You know you are old when you get junk mail like this.". This is what she got. She never fails to make me laugh. I love that grandma!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Japanese Treats

I went to Japantown in San Francisco with my husband and kid recently and we got some cute Japanese treats. We got them from a little take-out kiosk in the Kinokuniya Building, across the hall from Suzu. (We had dinner at Suzu that night too, excellent ramen!)

I didn't get the name of the kiosk but they serve small, quick meals and have a really nice variety of Japanese treats. Not candy-type treats but dessert-y type treats. We picked up these three mochi items, one was in a cute little paper cup and two were on sticks. They were all sweet and chewy and quite good.

They had a variety of other interesting items that looked good and we will go back to try more the next time we are there.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins out of the Deceptively Delicious cookbook last week. The hidden treasure of nutrition in this recipe is pureed carrots. I steamed the carrots for about 8 minutes and then pureed them in my food processor. The recipe also called for creamy peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, flour, baking soda and baking powder.

After all of the ingredients were combined, I spooned them into paper muffin cups and put a dollop of strawberry preserves on top of each one. Then I baked them at 325 degrees in my convection oven. I only have one muffin tin that holds six muffins so I ended up baking them in the paper cups on a cookie sheet, I wouldn't recommend it. They came out very short and fat, not the most attractive muffins I've seen.

Overall, I would say that they muffins came out pretty good. Next time I would fill the cups up much more, closer to the 3/4 or 4/5ths range, I only filled them up to about 1/2. I would also bake them in muffin tins (I need to get a bigger one, or maybe even two!) so that they would keep their shape better.

The recipe is good, the added carrot does not add any strange taste but I might cut down on the sugar because they were quite sweet. I didn't use a sweetened peanut butter but with the added preserves on the top it definitely topped the sweet meter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Skinny Ships

I came home this afternoon and my husband had this up on the computer screen. I don't know why he was looking at it but I love it. It is just so cute, I had to post it.

It was on and it is a poster called "Things I Like". Richard Perez is the designer and he has other work on his site that is nice but there is something about this poster that I really like. The colors are nice, the subject is nice and there is a hand-stamped number in the upper left-hand corner that is a really nice touch.

I wish I could buy it to put in my home.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Cupcakes

My girlfriend Tina and her daughters Isabella (7) and Kira (4) made these colorful Easter cupcakes and brought them to a pot-luck on Easter morning. They were so proud of them and the looked so beautiful I had to take a picture.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I love this song

This is my latest favorite song. Every time I hear it I say "I love this song!" and my husband says "I know. You say that every time." But, I just can't help it. I love this song.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Tonight we celebrated my husband's birthday with his family and his sister Kari made bread pudding for dessert. My husband is not a traditional "birthday cake" kinda guy so Kari's choice of making bread pudding was perfect. But, not only was the choice perfect but the bread pudding itself was just about perfect as well.

One of the reasons it was so good was that she used fresh panettone bread from Della Fattoria in Petaluma. They use local and organic ingredients and they bake in brick ovens, how is that for old school? The panettone bread had wonderful dried fruits and the perfect texture for bread pudding. The amaretto sauce was also good, not too sweet with a nice almond flavor.

The recipe Kari used was courtsey of Giada De Laurentiis, from the Food Network site. The recipe is easy and from start to finish takes about an hour. There are not a lot of ingredients, the most expensive of which is the amaretto liqueur, if you don't have any on hand buying a bottle will run you about $25 or so. Other than that and the panettone, it is a lot of whipping cream, whole milk, sugar and eggs, what more could you want out of a bread pudding?

Kari and her husband live in Petaluma, she is a mother of 3 and always cooks a dish or two for our family get togethers. She is a sweetheart to be around and I always look forward to seeing her. Hopefully she will make more great dishes that I can share on my blog.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Banana Bread with Cauliflower

I picked up a new book at Borders the other day, it was on the sale rack and it was buy 2 get the 3rd free. So, I had two books in hand so I threw in Deceptively Delicious . It is a really cute book, the cover art and colors are very retro and I found it instantly appealing.

The book is based on using vegetable purees to add nutrition to foods without adding funky taste. I decided to try out the Banana Bread recipe which uses a cauliflower puree. I was a bit skeptical, cauliflower has a very strong taste and I just couldn't imagine hiding the flavor of it.

So, first I had to make the puree which was very easy, I lightly steamed the cauliflower for 10 minutes, let it cool and then pureed it in my food processor with some water. It came out very smooth and it was pretty quick.

I then followed the recipe which included a combination of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, brown sugar, egg whites (I used 1 whole egg instead of the 2 egg whites the recipe called for) and both baking powder and baking soda. The directions were really simple, combine the dry ingredients, combine the wet ingredients and then add the dry ones to the wet ones.

20 minutes later I had a nice loaf of banana bread. You can see in the photo, it was a little moist and dense toward the bottom of the loaf, maybe I needed to bake it a little longer. It was a little bit on the grainy side for my taste because of the whole wheat flour, but that makes it much healthier. My family ate it up pretty quick, It was really good sliced and toasted with a little butter.

I was amazed at how the cauliflower just melded in with the bread and there really was no trace of cauliflower flavor. There was not a whole lot of it in there, just 1/4 cup for the whole loaf. I would definitely say it was a success. I'll try it again and maybe play with the proportions a little to lighten it up the texture a bit.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


On Monday, we went to Tom Upon's studio in Menlo Park to take pictures of Brad's pieces for Tiny Sparks Designs. Tom is a professional photographer and old friend of ours. I worked with him years ago when I was in marketing and he has also taken photos of Brad's furniture and done portraits for us too. He is a great guy to work with, really knows his stuff and we always come out with nice pictures.

Tom also teaches people how to get the most out of their digital cameras in Palo Alto, at My folks took a class with him to learn all of the ins and outs of their digital SLR. They really enjoyed it and recommended it to us.

I think Tom is a great person to be teaching that class too. He is really knowledgeable, easy to talk to and a lot of fun. So, if you are in the SF bay area and want to get the most of your digital SLR or your Point-and-Shoot, check out his classes. They are about 1/2 day long and about $125.

Some of the pieces we were shooting were really tricky They are all screen printed artwork on wood and finding the balance between getting the inks to look good, getting the wood grain to stand out and getting a good sheen on the finish was difficult. Some of the inks are metallic and look beautiful in person but were hard to capture in photographs.

Tom used a variety of lighting techniques, did some great straight on photos and then some nice close-up, detail shots too. I think we took about 150 photos. We are currently working on the Tiny Sparks Design website so the photos will be up soon. They are being sorted through, color corrected etc., I can't wait to see them!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tartine Ham and Cheese Croissant

OMG! We had the most amazing ham and cheese croissants from Tartine Bakery this morning for breakfast. This is an indulgence, not an everyday occurrence, one reserved for days like Brad's 38th Birthday. Which by the way is today.

We were introduced to these by our friend Eli Beit-Zuri. After caring for his houseplants while he was galavanting in Argentina, he thanked us by dropping off 3 of these for our breakfast the next morning. Little did we know that inside the inconspicuous, simple brown bag was this unbelievable treat.

The croissant was perfectly crisp on the outside with soft buttery layers on the inside. The combination of ham and cheese was an excellent savory paring to the croissant. All together it was fabulous although very rich and almost impossible to eat an entire one without help. Almost.

By the way, we also had the bread pudding with fruit and a morning bun while sitting in their lovely cafe drinking coffee. Both were wonderful, but especially the morning bun. It was crisp and soft at the same time, covered in sugar and fresh from the oven.

Tartine is legendary in San Francisco, most of the locals know about it and frequent it. I hadn't been in about a year and I had forgotten how good it really is.