Thursday, January 31, 2013

Carmel Valley Hike

The last time we were in the Monterey area, our family hiked in Carmel Valley for the first time since I was young.  My parents know of a great trail off Holt Road, and so we packed up our hiking boots and the camera and hit the trail together.

The out-and-back was 6 miles of fairly hilly terrain.  Since we left in the late afternoon, most of our hike was in the shade, and it was a bit chilly.

After hiking above the tree line...

...the views started to become more expansive.

As we neared the peak, we could see out to the Pacific Ocean.

This trail offered different terrain and views from our favorite Garrapata hike--nice to see some other Monterey Peninsula sights!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

Several months ago we got our first glance of a mustached car, and it made us laugh at San Francisco's weirdness.  But lately we've been seeing more and more hot pink mustaches on cars, and we finally found out this was not just a trendy claire's hipster product.

Turns out, the mustaches signal participation in a {poorly advertised} taxi-like rideshare program.  More here.

Despite the explanation, it's still wacky.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Recap

Another week; another fresh start.
I hope you had a good weekend.  Ours included home-cooked surf n' turf, Lion Street steps run, an excellent brunch with friends, two beautiful & sunny days, a birthday celebration for a great girl, a new yoga class trial, and lots of baking and cooking.

Rooftop Deck Birthday Party Celebration for Juanita

Sites on the walk to yoga, and a snippet of the waiver I had to sign!

We filled this hummingbird I am hoping they will come!
Spring Fever

Focaccia Bread ~ recipe coming this week

The warmer weather and sun made it feel as if Spring were just around the corner.  (But then I hear my Durham friends got snow...)
At least we'll jump into February by the end of the week.  Have a good one.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lake Tahoe Shore

Happy Friday!  It has been a busy week at work, and I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  These photos from Monday's relaxing day off seem appropriate for my mood today!

Before skiing one day last year, it had been ten years since I had been on the slopes.  My ski pants even display my "Youth Age 13-17" lift ticket from 2002 to prove it.  (And speaking of my ski pants, Will tells me they are so outdated that they are almost back in style!)  Needless to say, I am still working my way back into skiing.  So by the time Monday of MLKJ weekend hit, my body had had enough skiing, and I just felt like relaxing.

So before leaving Tahoe, we took a long and leisurely walk along the shore, admiring the snow and icicles.

My favorite cold weather is when it's chilly but sunny.  It's so peaceful.

I love how the sun flare turned out in this photo
So peaceful.

And with that, we packed up the rental cabin and hit the road back to San Francisco.
Short weeks are pretty great--it's already Friday.
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tahoe Ski Weekend

We drove up to Lake Tahoe over MLKJ weekend and spent a few fun days skiing and hanging out with friends in the cabin on the lake.  It was a mix of relaxing down-time and some pretty thrilling downhill skiing.

Saturday we skied at Homewood Mountain Resort, which is a smaller mountain immediately on the lake.  The views were incredible, and the thrill of the day was skiing down one run ("Glades"), which made me feel like the run would plant me right in the lake.  

Let's just say I didn't turn many times on that run.  I went straiiiiiight down.
I wish I had a photo of that view--it was pretty incredible.

Check out those icicles!

Sunday our group went skiing at Squaw Valley.  Squaw had a completely different feel from Homewood, and it's probably five times as large. 

Of course the mountain can handle way more skiers, but Sunday's 49ers game might also have also contributed to the lack of crowded slopes.  Overall, I was very impressed how little we were impacted by the holiday weekend crowds and traffic.  And SF is obviously having a good sports year!

To get to the top of the mountain, we rode in this gondola... the very top!  Look at the color of that sky.  Wow.

We started at High Camp, and I think we skied every intermediate at the resort that day, with a few other levels mixed in.

It was nice to feel comfortable on blues again.  Before last year, I hadn't been on skis or a snowboard in 10 years!  I had to get my "legs" back.  

I did get them back, and it was great.  I turned a few times, but what I really liked was going straight downhill--really, really fast.

We're hoping to hit the slopes again next month.  I'm looking forward to more fun ski weekends in our future!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

The greyhound didn't seem to get the memo that San Francisco is having a bit of a cold spell.

At least she has her fancy sequined hat.

Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Scones

I offered to bring breakfast to an early work meeting last month, and as soon as I offered, I started worrying about what to bring.  Since it was the end of December, I thought it was maybe a little past season for pumpkin scones, but something along those lines (especially since they're so easy!) sounded good.

I cracked my America's Test Kitchen cookbook and found a basic scone recipe.  America's Test Kitchen is behind the famous Cook's Illustrated magazines, and I find their thorough testing does result in some excellent recipes I can always count on!

To make the scones more exciting, I planned to use some lemon zest and frozen blueberries to make Lemon Blueberry Scones.

None of the scones lasted past the work breakfast meeting, and I will be making these again!  (I realize I have mentioned this about a few other breakfast items lately.  Clearly I need to host a brunch!)

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Makes 8 scones
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
2 cups flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Rinse the blueberries until the water runs clear.

In a food processor, briefly blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add the cubes of butter and pulse about 10 times until the butter pieces have broken down and are about the size of peas.
Remove the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the lemon zest.  

Carefully mix in the blueberries, then add the cream and incorporate gently until the mixture comes together and is sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a floured cutting board and carefully shape into a flat round disc, about 9 inches in diameter.  (The dough will be pretty dry, so just keep pressing it until the shape holds)
With a knife, cut the disc into 8 pieces.  

Transfer the pieces onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or cold.

from Instagram

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Surfing at Sunset Cliffs

During the week we were in San Diego over Christmas, Will and his big bro had a brothers' double feature surf session at Sunset Cliffs.

The cliffs drop so far down to the ocean that even with my zoom lens I couldn't produce close-up shots, but at least my zoom lens helped me pick them out from the other wetsuited dots.

W, last wave in

And I already shared how the evening ended.  I can't help repeating, though:

It's almost Friday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Minestrone Soup

Winter has hit, and we have been freezing in our wintry San Francisco mid-50s :)
I've been hungry for comfort foods, but I was also looking for some lighter recipe inspiration.

This is an adaptation of Ina Garten's Winter Minestrone Soup from her cookbook Foolproof.  It's easy to adapt this recipe to make this soup vegetarian--just omit the pancetta and replace the chicken/beef stock with vegetable stock.

We baked up a fresh loaf of French bread, which was so tasty dunked into the broth.  I've posted about the simple homemade bread method I use here.

Winter Minestrone Soup

Olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1½ cups chopped yellow onions
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, diced
1 russet potato, diced
5 cloves minced garlic
5 sprigs chopped fresh thyme leaves
5-6 cups chicken stock (I combined chicken and beef stock)
1 parmesan cheese rind (if you have one)
1 14.5oz cad of fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1.5 cups small pasta
1 cup frozen spinach
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons pesto
salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Brown the pancetta in a bit of olive oil in a big Dutch Oven or soup pot.
Next add the onions, carrots, celery, potato, garlic, and thyme and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add 5 cups of stock, the can of tomatoes, the bay leaves, and the parmesan cheese rind (if you have one).  Salt and pepper the soup.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook 30 minutes, with the lid cracked.
Stir in the cannellini beans (also called great northern white beans), uncooked pasta, and frozen spinach.  Allow the pasta to soften (about 8 minutes).  You can add additional stock if the soup is looking too thick.
Stir in the white wine and pesto.
Remove the bay leaves and rind, season with salt and pepper again to taste.

Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a few pieces of crusty bread.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Adventure Goals

Yesterday I updated our Golden Gate Adventures challenge, and I'm back today with a list of places we'd like to explore in the new year.

2013 Adventures

Olema Valley and Point Reyes

Though we drove through the Olema Valley to check out the lighthouse and elephant seals in Point Reyes, we want to visit again.  This time, in addition to hiking in Olema Valley, it would be fun to explore a cheese factory in Point Reyes!

Crissy Field
Some of our runs take us down through Crissy Field, where the sandy beach boarders a big grassy area with picnic tables, just east of the Golden Gate bridge.  On a warmer evening, I'd like to have a "pantry party" as my family calls it.  (Empty all snacks from pantry and fridge into a bag, add wine/beer +chocolate, and go!)

Fort Point

West of Crissy Field is Fort Point, which is known for its good surf when the conditions are right.  Now that we have braved the really cold San Francisco water and realized it wasn't too much colder than what we're used to, we'd like to do some bodysurfing at this break.  It would be quite an adventure!

For those interested, check out this video of surfing at Fort Point here.

Moving further from the Bay Area, another place on our list is Mendocino.  Growing up, my family spent some memorable time here--collecting driftwood, whale watching, and exploring town.  I'd like to return to relive old memories and make new ones.  I sure missed out on visits to this brewery and this winery on past trips!

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Considering how many times we've explored Big Sur, it's a bummer we've never hiked the half-mile trail to capture this view before:
This year, I'm adding McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Beach to our list.  And I have high expectations for my photographs from this trip.

Will's planning a fun weekend in Seattle for us this year, and I can't wait to explore this great city.  Getting to see my cousins there (and having them show us the ropes) means we are guaranteed an awesome visit; excitement is building!  (Hi M/K/B!)

Revival Crusade 3?
These plans haven't even hit paper, but we've been brainstorming our next big adventure.  We hope to escape for a longer trip together this year that would rival those in years past.

RC3 could look like this!  (Photo taken during our previous visit)

Which adventures would you add to your list for 2013?