Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tour de France

Ever since I was little, I've known my dad likes to ride bikes.  I would wake up on Saturday mornings hearing sounds of Bruce Springsteen on the blaster (remember those things?) wafting up from the garage below.  Walking down the stairs in my PJs, I'd find my dad working away on his road bike, the faint smell of chain cleaner in the air, and Bruce singing, "Working on the highway, blasting through the bedrock / Working on the highway, working on the highway!"

I have other memories, nearly as old, of waking up on mornings in July, grabbing my wetsuit and lunch on the way to lifeguarding, and Dad would be in the family room before work with his laptop and coffee, and Tour de France (TDF) airing on TV.

There's a distinct rattling sound unique to TDF...and the unmistakeable voice of Bob Roll, the same anchor who has announced TDF for as long as I can remember.  Gooooood memories.

Well, today TDF 2012 began!

I wish I were at home watching with my Dad!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ceiling Saga: Chapter 8

The first time I mentioned our apartment's ceiling leak was back in December, right before our housewarming party.
However, I actually noticed the leaking (and reported it to our landlord) even before Thanksgiving.  That means we're 8 months into the leak issue.

A refresher for you:

- In mid November, I notice dripping from the ceiling during relatively light rain.  Landlord comes a couple weeks later, tears out corner of ceiling to investigate, believes water is coming from a leaky pipe on the roof.
- Pipe is replaced.  It had lots and lots of holes (see right).
- Landlord finally does 1 of 2 steps to repair this hole.  I finish the job myself before party.
- Leaking continues, now believed to be a hole in the roof.
- Months go by, buckets are permanently left under this dripping area, and we relocate all the items from our built-ins so they don't get ruined.  Rain weakens drywall so much that a new hole in the ceiling, similar to this one, opens up on its own.
- More months go by (despite frequent calls on our end).
- In late April (a.k.a. 2 full months ago), landlord tells me he is giving up trying to find the cause of the leak and will fork over the money to have the whole roof replaced.
- May...
- June...

As I was getting ready for work one morning, a few things in the backyard caught my eye:

Yep, after 8 months, the landlord caved and hired a roofing company to replace the entire roof.
I came home that afternoon and found some interesting artifacts from the Victorian period:

That's the pipe they've been putting bandaids on for the last 8 months.  It was finally replaced!

The aftermath:

And finally, yesterday I came home to find the hole in the ceiling had been patched (not yet painted though...that will probably end up becoming my job in 2 weeks when I get frustrated with the landlord's slow timeline!)
New drywall and putty drying

 Here's to hoping this story has only 8 months chapters.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lemon Basil Orzotto

Sometimes I'm in the mood to spend a long time in the kitchen making a labor-intensive meal, often on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Other times I am in the mood for a quick and clean dish, full of fresh veggies.  But sometimes Thursday night rolls around...and my fresh veggie stock has been depleted, but I'm still anxious for a quick meal using pantry staples.

This meal fits the bill.  Orzotto is much like risotto, minus 75% of the effort and time.  It can be easily adapted with different flavors, proteins, and veggies depending on what you've got on hand. 

This particular evening, I looked in the fridge and found 1 chicken sausage and 1/4 of an onion (both leftover from pizza earlier in the week).  I added in some frozen edamame for a bit of green and a bit of additional protein. 

1/2 onion, diced (or 1 large shallot)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup milk (use higher fat for creamier flavor, but skim works just fine)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
salt, pepper
1-2 handfuls of frozen peas or edamame
shrimp, sausage, shredded chicken for protein (optional)
1-2 cubes of frozen basil from Trader Joe's, or fresh basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top

1.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large skillet or stew pot.  Once golden, add orzo and stir to coat and toast.  When the orzo is slightly toasted, add the white wine and stir occasionally until absorbed.

2.  Slowly add the chicken broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally until absorbed each time.  This process should take about 10 minutes or until the orzo is al dente.  Stir in the peas.

3.  Turn off the burner and stir in the milk, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest.
Perfect risotto (and similarly, orzotto) texture is when the risotto melts onto the plate and spreads out, or "loose and soupy," as Mark Bittman recommends.
4.  Serve with extra Parmesan and sausage.

Recipe inspired by Kelsey's Essentials.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

I keep thinking our porcelain greyhound friend is out of party hats, but she keeps proving me wrong.

Just power through today, and we're on the downhill to the weekend!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Top Ten Dinner

At the end of the year the past couple years, I have pulled together end of year Top Ten lists: top ten adventures and meals, for example.  Admittedly, it's sometimes hard to come up with these after up to twelve months have passed.  My mom tells me this only gets worse, too :)

I don't know if I am early or late to complete this task, but I decided to post about one of the Top Ten meals we've had so far this year.  Either early, because I am way ahead of the ball to be posting 2012 recaps; or late, because I'm a little embarrassed that this was our Valentine's Day dinner, and I am only now getting around to posting about it.  But it was one of my most proud cooking moments, so I want to document it!

This year Valentine's Day fell on a Tuesday.  We celebrated the Sunday night prior at an incredible dinner at Florio, a French restaurant on Fillmore Street.  (That was probably another Top Ten dinner for 2012!)

But a few days later, my valentine was working locally, and I was able to put together my own attempt at a top 10 dinner for the year.  Some of his favorite foods are steak and scallops, so I went with that.  
Ribeye, in particular.  And with lots of sauteed mushrooms on top.  

This is, admittedly, not the most appealing photo.  But it was so good, and I will remember that part!

Though I had cooked steak several times before, this was my first time attempting scallops.  I followed the trusty Thomas Keller's recipe from Ad Hoc at Home.   A bit of brine, and the perfect caramelization.

To top off the evening, I had another thing up my sleeve.  I had completed all the preparatory steps for Molten Lava Cake before dinner, and they just needed a bit of time in the oven after we finished eating.

The mini cakes popped out of the ramekins easily, and they had the perfect molten consistency inside.  Success!

Inspiration Recipes here:
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
Scallops a la Ad Hoc at Home

Friday, June 22, 2012

Virtual Dinner Party: Thai Chicken Pizza

Last weekend we traveled to Boston to celebrate the marriage of one of my loyal blog readers, Vron!  You may remember her from various Virtual Dinner Parties prior, or other embarrassing moments I wanted the world to see.

Well until I have the chance to sift through some of the photos from her joyful wedding, I am going to go back in time a few months to our last Virtual Dinner Party and recap our fun.

In true V.D.P. fashion, we toasted with a fun drink.

The difference in time zones posed a bit of a problem (her dinner time had long passed), so Vron worked hard on that bubbly while I quickly prepped the main course.

I started off with some whole wheat crust, spooned some of the sweet chili sauce over the crust, and layered the crust with sliced zucchini.

**My secret tip is to bake the crust for 2 minutes on the pizza stone before loading it with toppings.  It helps the crust stay nice and crispy.

Sprinkle the carrots, cooked chicken, and cheese on top, and bake for 8 minutes at the highest temp your oven can go. 

Two thumbs up for a balcony herb garden: snip a few cilantro leaves for garnish.  Peanut sauce for dipping is optional.


As always, the V.D.P. was a blast.
Now that our crazy travel month has come to an end, I am hoping to resume my dinner parties!  Calling all guests...

Pizza recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rooftop Deck Relaxing

They say summer in San Francisco is supposed to be the worst season.  Lots of fog and chilly extension of Southern California's "June Gloom," but it lasts for two to three months instead of just June.  

Well, as how much of the country experienced unseasonably warm winters, we are still enjoying unseasonably summery temperatures for a San Francisco "summer."  

We've been trying to take full advantage:

Rooftop deck relaxing requires sustenance.

We hung around until the sun tucked behind the buildings and bridge...

..and left a nice pink glow on the buildings around the city.

It was a true summer evening.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful Dad.

 These girls couldn't ask for a better back-seat driver DAD! 

Love you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lokos in San Francisco

Last night we had some very special visitors: the Four Lokos stream-rolled through San Francisco on their way north, part of their road trip across the country and back.  They've seen some awesome sights on the first half of their trip so far, and yesterday they fit in Alcatraz, some Mission grub, and craft coffee.  One day is not a lot to fit in such a great city, but they all promised to return.

We met up in time for happy hour (which turned into more than an hour) and compared and enjoyed several different breweries' beer.

I gave them a happy hour walking tour of some of the pretty sights at sunset time--the rooftop deck and the crest of the big hill I walk by each day.  Sights and tastes were enjoyed by everyone.

We weighed the options of dining out versus in.  The Four Lokos didn't get their name for nothing, so our rowdy crew opted to grill and continue the wild rumpus in a place where we wouldn't be kicked out.

Carne Asada and Chicken Fajitas

And chocolate molten lava cakes

And with that, the Four Lokos are off to Portland!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

San Diego Getaway: Point Loma Seafoods

I couldn't complete my San Diego recaps without mentioning one of our favorite food stops.  Point Loma Seafoods is the real deal.  Fresh seafood everywhere you look.

Really fresh = alive.  This was the biggest lobster I've ever seen in my entire life.  Look at the size of his claw!

Next time we're in town, we need to think about making homemade sushi and sashimi.
I just noticed how many beers they have on tap.  Not sure how I missed that before.

I order the same thing every time I go: the squid sandwich.  They jam several enormous pieces of calamari steak in a light batter between two slices of sourdough bread with a little bit of tartar sauce.  It's a winner.  
We ordered to-go and feasted at home, so I didn't miss out on a beer, after all.  My in-laws take good care of me :)

Lots of boats

And a sea lion chilling.  

We have to go back soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

San Diego Getaway: Outdoor Wedding

In addition to visiting family, the other reason we were in San Diego was to celebrate a wedding.

The rehearsal dinner was on Coronado Island.  We were there at sunset, and the city looked beautiful across the bay.

We enjoyed appetizers, dinner, and drinks at the Italian joint Il Fornaio.

We reminisced about our awesome vacation to Italy last summer with our favorite Italian vacation drinks.

Due to the intense heat when we were traveling there last August, red wine wasn't so we opted for the much more refreshing Birra Moretti and white wine!

(Which reminds me that I want to recap that trip.)

The sun set, and the city lit up.

Dessert: more mousse!

The next morning, the groomsmen played a little golf before we headed over to the wedding site, the groom's parents' backyard.  The views weren't too shabby!

The main characters:

The decor was really pretty.  These orchids were submerged in water.  It was a bit hard to tell....until it got dark, and they lit up...

I thought this was a nice touch...someone was intent on partying all night.

The after-party took us to a penthouse suite in downtown San Diego....more awesome views!

Living vicariously through the bride and groom who are honeymooning in Maui.  

I'm off to check my vacation balance at work...