Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Persimmon and Quinoa - Side Dish or Snack On The Go

Persimmon and Quinoa recipe

Persimmons: taste great and it's in season right now. However I do not want to eat them cooked in a bread, pudding or cookie. I'm looking for something more healthy because I'm trying to lose weight for ski season!!

Today, while making lunch at the flat, I looked in the refrigerator for inspiration; 1 persimmon and 1 chicken breast. Hummm??? I think I have some quinoa, too. It's too cold and raining too hard outside to leave the house for other supplies.

Got it! Lets try adding the sweet persimmon to the quinoa? JackPot! It is a perfect side for my grilled chicken breast. I imagine it would be great with grilled pork as well.

Persimmon and Quinoa recipe - what you need

What you will need for the Persimmon Quinoa Dish:
- 1 persimmon (ripe or not)
- 1/4 cup quinoa (uncooked)
- 1/2 or 2/3 cup water

- Tomato peeler
- Paring knife
- 1.5q pot

Total time: 15 minutes

Nutritional facts: good source of vitamin-C.

Persimmon - take the skin off with a tomato peeler

Always wash veggies and fruit. With a tomato peeler, remove all the skin.

Persimmon cored and ready to cook

Using a paring knife, core the persimmon.

Persimmon chopped

Dice the persimmon

Persimmon and Quinoa - how to cook

Add the water, persimmon and quinoa to the pot and bring to a boil.

Staub Marin Blue Round Cocotte, 5 1/2 qt., 5.5 qt. (Google Affiliate Ad)

Persimmon and Quinoa bowling in the pot

Once the ingredients come to a boil, turn heat down to medium. Occasionally stirring.

Persimmon and Quinoa recipe - ready to eat

Just look at that yummy, sweet quinoa!

Persimmons are in season now and very good for you. So eat them!

Great blog: Five Ways to Eat Persimmons

Staub Saffron Coq Au Vin, 5 3/4 qt. (Google Affiliate Ad)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SantaCon in San Francisco

Santarchy and Santacon: History and officially the unofficial Site. The first SantaCon to hit San Francisco was in 1994!

SantaCon 2011 Pre-Party
Liquid breakfast

What is SantaCon?
"Santarchy is an annual city-wide Santas-only pub crawl. This flash mob-type event brings together hundreds of slightly sober people dressed in Santa costumes parading around the city, visiting landmarks (like walking down Lombard Street) drinking at bars and causing general mayhem." Read more>>

If you'd like, view my video on YouTube: SantaCon Polk Street San Francisco 2011
Above is a video of us walking down Polk Street for a SantaCon take-over. The whole north bound lane of Polk Street was filled with intoxicated Santa-men and Santa-women dancing, singing, and drinking. Any reason to dress-up, drink mid-day and have fun. It's a very fun loving event and we'd like to keep it that way. Leave your ego at home please.

If you'd like, view my video on YouTube: Erik's SantaCon to Civic Center SF 2011

Above is a video I put together from breakfast at Eric's. It's a per-SantaCon primer of food, drink and Santa gathering in the Mission. At 12:30, well lubed up, we then jumped on the BART and headed downtown to the Civic Center. There we met up with about 5000 other Santa's and partied at SF City Hall. I believe it was about 3:30 when we left and hit Polk Street. It was a sunny day, but things got foggy in the late afternoon.

SantaCon 2011 Pre-Party
Outside the Ha-Ra, a divine dive bar on our way from Civic Center to The Polk Gulch. Here is a quote from a review I just read about the bar, "...THANKFULLY NOT OVERRUN BY YUPPIES TRYING TO SLUM". Ha!

SantaCon 2011 Pre-Party
SantaCon Girls - typical outfits for the SantaCon event. Dress fun, wear flat shoes and bring cash. Most dive bars only take cash and the ATM fees are pricey.

Halloween Wild About Christmas Adult Costume (Google Affiliate Ad)

SantaCon 2011 Pre-Party
Friends getting ready at 9:30AM at the Breakfast of Santa's. Breakfast lasted until 12:30 when we left Erik's casa and ventured on to BART to hit up Civic Center.

2012 San Francisco SantaCon is on Saturday, December 15th, 2012. Check back at Facebook SF SantaCon for more info.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How To Make Almond Milk and Save Our Oceans From Plastic

Almond Milk - Finished product

I've gone to a few events the last couple of years for ocean awareness, how to Save The Waves and keep our waters plastic free / trash free. I had a friend and artist ask a few of us to keep everything plastic we consumed over a period of 2 or 3 weeks. At the end of this time, she wanted us to hand over our used plastic goods so she could construct her plastic wave. "The wave is her personal statement about plastic in our oceans" wrote Beth Terry. I thought it was a great idea, but at the end of the day, I forgot or couldn't commit or any other excuse I could come up with for not participating in the 2 week project. I wasn't supporting the cause. I don't mean support by donation. I mean by integrating that philosophy into my daly life. I'd never really done more than just attend parties or the once a year beach clean-up for Surfrider.

Today, December 6, I will try to live a more natural lifestyle, keep my plastic consumption low and keep information and new ideas for a plastic free life flowing. My first step: to make my own almond milk at home and no longer purchase almond milk in a carton with their non-recycleable plastic screw caps & plastic spout. Here is a link for information about the cartons use by Blue Diamond on their FAQ page. I'm not sure if the cartons are recyclable or not, but I was happy to see that Blue Diamond doesn't use genetic engineering or gene manipulation almonds. I tried to find some information about recycling the cartons on Earth 911 with no luck. I don't think you can???

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
What you will need for this almond milk recipe:
-- 4 cups of water
-- 1 cup of raw almonds - not salted or roasted - purchase them in bulk. Much more affordable
-- 1 teaspoon of raw sugar (optional) or use 3 or 4 dates or organic agave nectar

You can substitute the sugar for 3 or 4 dates, organic agave nectar or leave it out completely. If you are use to flavored almond milk; add less than 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon chocolate.

Some recipes call for blanching almonds to get their slightly bitter skin off before blending. I didn't. Too much work for little pay off. Skip the blanching.

-- Blender
-- Metal strainer
-- Cheesecloth (I didn't use one, but if you want to strain all almond out, this is a great technique. In a pinch, I've heard (new) pantyhose work.
-- Glass bowls
-- Spoon

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Add one cup of almonds to four cups of water in a very strong blender. Today I'm using my new Vitamix blender, but any brand will do.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Next, add your sweeteners or flavors. In this case, I'm using raw sugar - about 1 teaspoon.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Blend on HIGH for about 1 or 2 minutes

Vitamix CIA Professional Series Blender - Brushed Stainless Steel

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Here is my first almond milk - now strain the almond pulp out of the almond milk.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Use a glass bowl (yes, I just purchased new bowls since I broke the last one about a month ago) and a metal strainer. Place the strainer over the bowl and pour almond milk through the stainer in to the bowl.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Pour a small amount of almond milk at a time and use a spoon to help the milk through the strainer.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
With my spoon, I scoop the almond pulp from the strainer until all milk has dropped in to the bowl. After, I pour the pulp in to a smaller glass bowl and continue until all milk and pulp are separated.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Now I'm ready to drink my fresh, homemade almond milk, use it in my morning fruit smoothy, have a bowl of oats and my fresh milk - endless possibilities. The almond milk keeps in the refrigerator for about 4 days. I'm keeping the almond milk in one of my empty glass water bottles. I'll see how they hold up.

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk
Ways to use the almond pulp: add it as a topper to your cereal, use as flavor when baking a bread, add it to your homemade energy bars for protein and fiber. I think I'm going to try to make raw almond cheese.

Site to get more information:
-- How and What to Recycle Earth 911
-- Kathleen Egan's Plastic Wave myplasticfreelife.com

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Raisins (Whole Wheat Bread)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

This is a dish my father and I use to make when I was a child, but we used more traditional ingredients like heavy creams, butter, brown sugar, white bread, vanilla extract and when no one was looking, we added brandy. Shhh!

For this Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe, I'm trying something non-traditional. I have found some interesting ways to cut some of the fat out and keep the dish as low in calories as possible while keep the flavor.

By the way, there are about 60 calories in a big handful of raisins. A 1/4 cup of raisins has about 140 calories.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

What you will need:
-- Baking Pan: 8" x 8"
-- Stale Whole Wheat Bread or any sliced stale bread
-- 3 Eggs (instead of 6)
-- 3 handful raisins
-- Can of Pumpkin (100% pure pumpkin by Libby's is the best)
-- Apple Sauce (organic Santa Cruz) about a cup (instead of butter)
-- Sugar in the Raw - about 1/4 cup
-- Cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon) or about that much. I just shake it until it looks good
-- Nutmeg just a pinch - this is a very strong flavor
-- Ginger powder -- just a pinch
-- Whole Milk or you can use whatever you have at the house
-- Salt - very, very little

I use apple sauce instead of butter, completely leave out brown sugar and heavy cream, and use less eggs.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Lets start with the bread. Even if it's stale, toast it until it's very dry and hard. I place my cookie sheet on my pizza stone to get the bottom of the cookie sheet really hot. Toast for 10 minutes but do not burn your toast. Keep an eye on it.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Once toasted, cut the edges off the whole wheat bread. Use a serrated edge knife to cut the bread and let it sit while you make the pumpkin pudding. You can now pre-heat your oven at 350 F

USA Pans Rectangular Baking Pan, 9-in x13-in (Google Affiliate Ad)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

In really hot (not boiling) water, soak your organic raisins for about 10 minutes. I do this to get them clean and softer, pulling off any stems or dirt. You could also soak them in brandy.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I just broke my only glass mixing bowl so I had to substitute my enamel cast iron sauce pan that I normal use for cooking. In a pinch, anything that looks like a bowl works.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Now add the pumpkin, eggs, milk, apple sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sugar, dash of salt and mix (whisk) really well.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Wheat Bread

I put a little oil in the baking pan to help with the non-stick factor, just use a little around the inside of the pan. Then start to layer the bread. It's not suppose to be perfect, but make sure you fill the bottom of the pan with bread as best you can.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Wheat Bread

Now the pumpkin pudding layer. I use a soup ladle to keep things a little less messy.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Wheat Bread

After cleaning and soaking the raisins, dry them off with a cloth towel and pull off any stems still attached. Add the raisin as the third layer to the pumpkin bread pudding. I just toss a few in - don't put too many.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Wheat Bread

Keep layering the bread, pumpkin pudding and raisins. I think you'll get three layers of bread and you should use all the pudding mix. Push down on the layers with the ladle to help the bread absorb the pudding mixture.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Wheat Bread

The last layer of the pumpkin bead pudding should be the pudding. As you can see, the bread doesn't have to be whole, just as long as there is a proper layer. The last layer should always be the pudding mix.

Staub Black Crepe Pan, 11" (Google Affiliate Ad)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Wheat Bread

Now place the 8"x 8" baking pan on the cookie sheet, the cookie sheet on the pizza stone and cook for about 25 or 35 minutes (depending on your stove). If you need to check your bread pudding, use a butter knife to stab the middle of the bread pudding and bend back the knife a little. If you see the mix is very 'runny' inside, keep baking.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

While you are waiting for the bread pudding to cook, you can take the extra bread and make bread crumbs. I use a cheese greater, pick the texture and just grate away.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Here is an example of different grades or textures for bread crumbs. I bag them and use them later for meat balls, frittata, or stuffing zucchini.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Once baked, let it set for about 10 minutes to cool and settle. I leave my bread pudding on the stove top until ready to eat.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

On my old cracked plate, I serve this dish with a dollop of whip cream, ice cream or caramel rum raisin sauce. I didn't have any today, so I'm just eating it as is!

Enjoy your stale bread!!

Kaiser Classic Mini Cake Pan (Google Affiliate Ad)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Afternoon With Jess - Hog Island Oyster Style

Hog Island Oysters = BBQ'ing on a lazy sunday in Nov. 2011

I'm working a part-time, seasonal job at William Sonoma so my weekends are not as footloose and fancy free as they use to be. So, I went to work on Sunday feeling a bit deflated that I couldn't join friend for brunch, meet up with the 9:30AM biking group... etc. I got a text around noon time from my friend Jess asking if I was up for a road trip around 2PM - HELL YES! Perfect since I was schedule to end my shift at 2 - stars were aligning.

We drove north across the Golden Gate Bride towards Tomales Bay. Our destination - Hog Island Oysters - about 40 miles north of San Francisco. It was a lovely ride up the coast along a very windy road with a great view of the Pacific ocean. We got to HIO in time for several oysters, some Cowgirl Creamery Cheese, a very nice bottle of the Wattle Creek Sauvignon Blanc and fresh baked local bread. Come to think of it, it was all local cheese, oysters, wine and bread. I really enjoyed the Sweet water raw oysters, but the BBQ were my favorite. So good, I had to dip my bread in to the shell to get the last of the sauce - yum!
Hog Island Oysters on a lazy Sunday in Nov. 2011
Hog Island Oysters has an outside communal seating area with park like picnic benches.  Some people brought their own food and wine and just purchased oysters! I remember thinking it's the end of November and we are picnic'ing and BBQ'ing outside...Awesome! Had a very 'east coast' flavor to the day.  We all spend the Sunday afternoon talking, BBQ'ing and eating some DAMN good oysters.

I can't wait to go back!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Acorn Squash Soup - Vitamix Blender

Acorn Squash Soup
Last week we were making the Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Kale. There was about 3 cups of acorn squash leftover from the stuff squash. I froze the extra acorn squash for later use. Well, here it is - Acorn Squash Soup.

Acorn Squash Soup - Vitamix Blender
What you will need:
-- 3 cups chopped up acorn squash
-- 1 cup milk
-- 3/4 cup Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce
-- 1 cups chicken broth
-- pinch of ginger
-- pinch of cinnamon
-- pinch of nutmeg
-- 1/2 onion
-- Salt and pepper as needed
-- water as needed to thin soup
and a Vitamix blender

If you don't have a blender, you can use a food processor. You will need to puree the squash in a food processor of some sort.

Acorn Squash Soup - Vitamix Blender
Toss all of the ingredients in the Vitamix blender and turn to HIGH. Blend on HIGH for about 5 to 6 minutes or until you see steam escaping from the top.

Acorn Squash Soup - Vitamix Blender
This is the soup once blended and hot. If it's too thick for you, at this point add some water or more chicken stock and blend on high for about 20 seconds.

Acorn Squash Soup - Vitamix Blender
Ready to eat right from the Vitamix Blender! Add salt and pepper as needed to the soup. I added a lot of pepper and two dashes of salt to this bowl. I'm not use to the strong squash flavor - much different than butternut squash soup, but still very good.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships 2011 - SSCXWC

Just some mud, singlespeed bikes, biggest urban park in the nation, and beers... mix it all together and you get SSCXWC 2011 aka Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships.

On November 20, 2011 in San Francisco, CA we got to see some crazy singlespeed cyclocross riders get busy! Some of the riders were in DEVO costumes, some were dress up as a panda bears, Wonder Woman, Calif. Bears, Cross-dressing mo-fos and so many more unique costumes. The tandem guys and unicycle dudes were my favorites and also a little off their rocker! So much fun playing in the mud with everyone on Sunday in Golden Gate Park!

Here are the videos I took from the last day of the race. I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I did watching the race!

Can these guys be any cooler! Tandem singlespeed cyclocross bikers! Very cool and they looked like they were having a blast! Good guy boys!

Biker breaks for a beer on the logs - This guy was racing in the world championships! However, he decided to stop, have a rest on the log, drink some beer, talk to the spectators and then continue on a very mellow pace - he rules!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Kale and Quinoa

Stuffed acorn squaw with kale and quinoa

The acorn squash is a variety of the squash species known as Cucurbita pepo, which includes squash, gourd, pumpkin and zucchini. One cup of cubed acorn squash has about 115 calories, contains a total of 29.9 grams of carbohydrates, and lots of vitamins.

Stuffed acorn squash with kale, quinoa, apple, celery, carrot, onion, and ginger. This dish is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, and a low-calorie, but filling dish.


- 1 Acorn Squash
- 1 bunch of Kale chopped up and de-stem
- 1 tbsp Ginger (more if you enjoy the flavor)
- 1 large Carrot
- 1 Apple
- 1/2 cup Cranberry or Raisin (soak first)
- 1 Jalapeno - one medium, minced
- 1 stalk of Celery, diced
- 1 cup Quinoa (cooked)
- Olive Oil - as needed
- salt and pepper

Meat options: turkey sausage, ground beef, or chicken. If you do not have quinoa, add brown rice. If you do not have kale, add chard or spinach.

In a large pot add: olive oil, chopped yellow onions, some ginger, one jalapeno (wash hands after touching the jalapeno - trust me) and cook on high heat until the onions are transparent / cooked.

Next add the chopped celery and carrots and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes.

While you're waiting for the celery and carrots to cook, start to gut your acorn squash. A helpful tip is to microwave the squash on defrost setting for 10 minutes (Depends on your microwave - mine is old, so it takes 10 minutes to cook al dente). You do not want to cook the squash all the way, but cook it halfway or al dente. It's easy to cut in half once it's al dente.

Scrap the inside of the squash to make a 'bowl' for your stuffing. Keep the extra 'inside' of the acorn squash to make an acorn squash soup or squash fries.

At this time, you'll want to start cooking your quinoa. Measure 1/2 cup of quinoa to 1 and 1/2 cups water and cook.

Turn oven on to 375 - so it's pre-heated when you're ready to bake the Stuffed Acorn Squash

I typically wait until the very last minute to add the kale, apples, cranberries/raisins and quinoa.

Add the cooked quinoa, kale, cranberry/raisins, and apples into the pot and mix it around for about 5 minutes on medium to low heat.

Now it's time to stuff the acorn.

In a bread baking pan, add about a 1/2 inch of water to the pan to keep the squash moist,  add both sides of the stuffed acorn squash and cover with aluminum foil. Cook covered for about 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked. Do not burn yourself on the steam when uncovering the aluminum foil.

I use salt and pepper to taste and even some Sriracha for a kick!