Monday, July 31, 2006

Blogger Postcards of the World - Premier Episode

Meeta at "What's For Lunch Honey?" has created and founded a new blogger event called "Blogger Postcards of the World or BPW".

I found this intriguing and signed up immediately. I am number "10" on "The List".

Much to MDH, Ander's dismay, I am a collector, of sorts. All sorts of things, that is. Much too much to get into here, at this time. So, why not include postcards from all over the world? Life is a banquet, my friends.

In my travels, I often find myself at the postcard rack selecting a handful of souvenirs from the particular vacation venue, anticipating a couple of hours of writing to family and friends, sitting at a quaint café over a cuppa.

Since this is the premier episode of BPW, I wanted to select a special momento for the recipient of my postcard. It had to be special. Something to remember the first time. I had several cards to choose from. I couldn't pick just one.

"Assortment of Postcards" . . .

Given the recent news stories surrounding the Middle East and its escalating climate of "war", my heart has been heavy with sorrow. This intensifies the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. When will it ever end?

It's a travesty. There are hundreds of thousands of civilians that are fleeing from the shelter of their homes; and the death of any innocent, Israeli, Lebanese, or Palestinian, is tragic. It has been painful to hear of so many children losing their families, their homes, and the hopes of a peaceful, tranquil and flourishing life.

And so, I plan to send this card, in hopes that through this forum, I can touch someone who feels the same as I do and evoke a thought for ”world peace.” We need it desperately.

Titled: "Peace Activists" . . .

Does anyone recognize the location of this plaza? The card does not mention it. I was just curious.

I leave you with the words of a peace loving soul who, ironically, lost his life through tragic violence.

"Ev'rybody's talking about
Ministers, Sinisters, Banisters and canisters,
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Pop eyes,
And bye bye, bye byes.
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Let me tell you now
Ev'rybody's talking about
Revolution, Evolution, Mastication, Flagelolation, Regulations.
Integrations, Meditations, United Nations, Congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

- John Lennon

I'm looking forward to the next event! Get your name on "The List"!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Make Way for Hay Hay It's Donna Day #4 - Continued

I've been having difficulty in including some photos with my posts. I wanted to share the visuals that were intended for the previous post.

My friends, for your viewing pleasure, may I present . . .

"Lemon Cucumber-Dill Salad" . . .

"Lemon Cucumber-Dill Salad"


6-8 small to medium Lemon Cucumbers, semi-peeled and thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinkly sliced
6 teaspoons Sherry Vinegar, such as "La Bodega Vinagre de Jerez"
4 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Combine Vinegars and honey. Whisk together. Pour over Lemon Cucumbers and shallots. Toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to chill and marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.

"Boquerones en Pan Tostada" . . . (Marinated White Anchovies Bruschetta)

"Pickled Herring with Onion" . . .

"Pickled Herring with Cucumbers on Black Bread" . . .

Life is a banquet, my friends. Life is good, the second time around.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Make Way for Hay Hay It's Donna Day #4

Bron Marshall is "hostess with the mostest" during the 4th assemblage of the Hay Hay It’s Donna Day food blog event, created by Barbara.

My entry for this event includes both bruschetta and crostini. I addressed ”the difference between the two” here.

"Smoked Sardine with Tuscano Bean Salad"

An enticing recipe that bears repeating is the “Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Fig Jam Crostini”. Enticing enough for my food blogger friend, Kim, to serve at her sister, Julie’s, “29th” (again) birthday party.

"Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Fig Jam Crostini"

For another food blogger event, over at Stephanie’s Passport Blog Party, I squeezed in, at the last minute, a Spanish Tapa of “Boquerones en Pan Tostada”.

Yet, I feel inspired to fashion at least a couple more nibbles for this special event. Fellow foodies know me well enough to expect at least some influence from my study of food and culture from the French Region of Provençe. Therefore, I present the inevitable “Figue and Provençal Tapenade Crostini”.

To complete my repertoire, I impart to you something I am dedicating to my darling hubby, Ander. I’ve shared with you how our garden grows. Without Ander’s hard work and due diligence, we would not have the bountiful harvest each season. In honor of his Estonian roots, I’ve created a “bruschetta” using dark rye bread and other “Estonian” fixings. In my research of Baltic Cuisine, I learned that it is heavily influenced by Swedish, German and Russian cooking. One thing I know for sure, "black bread" and potatoes are always present at the main meal.

"Pickled Herring Rollmops on Black Bread"


1 jar Pickled Herring in sour-cream base or wine-vinegar base
1 jar Pickled Gherkins or Cornichons
1 jar Cocktail Onions
Sweet Butter, at room temperature
Slices of Dark Rye Bread

Marinated Cucumber-Dill Salad


Spread Sweet Butter generously on each slice of dark rye bread. To make Rollmops, wrap a herring around gherkin, cornichon, or cocktail onion. Place on top of sliced dark rye bread. Serve with cold cucumber-dill salad.

During Mid-Summer celebration in Scandinavia, this delicious hors d'oeuvre is accompanied with a glass of Aquavit.

This was a fun and rousing event. Thanks, Bron, for bringing it on!

Technorati Tag:

Friday, July 28, 2006

Halo-Halo, Baby - Sugar High Friday #21

Sugar High Friday was launched by The Domestic Goddess. (Congratulations to Leith's New Mommy! We send our best for a speedy recovery!) Conceived as a monthly sweet-themed event to be posted on a pre-selected Friday it was originally called Sugar High Friday: The International Sweet Tooth Extavaganza. . . . Now, simplified to just Sugar High Friday or SHF.

My entry for the the 21st installation of SHF. Hit Me!

"Halo-Halo, Mix-Mix . . ."

This month’s SHF is hosted by “Savvy Sarah” of The Delicious Life. Her sweet sensation theme is “ICE, ICE, BABY.”

"Ice,Ice,Baby . . ."

When the summer heat fully takes over your life, there’s nothing to do but surrender.

Surrender to the alternatives of keeping cool. When A/C is not one of the amenities one finds in a country cottage, a wet-cold wash rag, an oscillating fan and laying around in your birthday suit is about the only option you have. Ahhh, but then there is the running energy consumption of central A/C at Borders or Barnes & Noble that can keep you in cool comfort until the night air lures you home. As a Borders Rewards member, I think I’ve overextended my “personal shopping day” rewards until the end of the year. Christmas shopping in July isn’t so bad, if you have the bucks to spend. Which I don't, BTW.

So what bucks we did have, we spent on tiny luxury, guilty pleasure items, like the exotic, unique and ever-pleasing ingredients for Halo-Halo which means “Mix-Mix” in the Filipino dialect of Tagalog.

Halo-Halo is a favorite Filipino dessert that reveals a mélange of tropical fruit, creamy smoothness and a colorful spectrum of enchantment.

This was the “crème de la crème” of dessert delights when I was growing up. It was very seldom did we get this dessert, but when my Mother managed to get all the ingredients lined up, Man-Oh-Man, IT was a “P-A-H-H-H-H-H-T-Y” goin’ on!

The next important thing to do was to make sure you had enough shaved ice to make the “Halo-Halo-ing” worthwhile. You also need a “VERY” tall glass to hold all the luscious components of this fun and enjoyable sweet course, because, really, you wouldn’t want to miss having one iota of the collection missing from the “Mix-Mix”. A long, thin spoon is used to dig through the layers of shaved ice and sweetened condensed milk or ice cream in order to scoop out mouthfuls of sweet bursts of jubilation!

"Layers of Jubilation . . ."

I can’t tell you the last time I enjoyed this delight before these sweltering summer days of late, but I can tell you it brings me back to the cool and amusing summer days of my youth.

"Sweet Summer Sensation . . ."

Halo-Halo (haw-low-haw-low), Mix-Mix”


• 2 tablespoons kaong (sugar palm nut)
• 2 tablespoons langka (jackfruit)
• 2 tablespoons macapuno (coconut sport)
• 2 tablespoons sweetened red mung beans
• 2 tablespoons sweetened kidney beans
• 2 tablespoons sweetened garabanzo beans
• 2 tablespoons sweetened plantains
• 2 tablespoons ube or yam
• 2 tablespoons custard or creme caramel or flavored gelatin cubes (Jello)
• 2 tablespoons sweetened corn kernels (creamed corn)
• crushed ice to fill glass
• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• a scoop of ice cream on top (optional)
• Pinipig (pounded crushed rice) or Rice Krispies for topping


Serving the numerous ingredients in a buffet style is both fun and efficient. Each guest can select their choice of sweet components to their liking. Scale up recipe, as needed, depending on number of guests to serve.

In a "VERY" tall glass, layer ingredients as noted. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving

In my on-going exploration of whether or not "Filipino Food is Fattening", this dessert, although, IT is "da bomb", I have to declare IT is indeed on the HI-CAL, HI-CARB scale.

WARNING: Indulge at your own risk.

However, as a PSA, I must include the following. This “crème de la crème” dessert can be modified by eliminating the sweetened condensed milk and ice cream, using evaporated or reduced fat milk instead. Also, you can limit the number of layers of sweet components. Use sugar-free fruit gelatin and add fresh fruit of your choosing as substitute components. Whatever your choice, c'est si bon!

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Consider the Oyster . . .

It was so D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S, I'm at a loss for words.

BBQ Oyster with Mignonette Sauce . . .

Oysters on the Grill . . .

Open, O-p-e-n, O-P-E-N ! ! !

A Splendid Table . . .

Simple Garnish . . .

Maison Mignonette Sauce and Simple Garnish . . .

Serve It Forth . . .

Blissful Morsel . . .That look says it all.

Summer Sensation . . .

Cast of Characters:

Washington Peninsula-Willapa Bay Oysters
Maison Mignonette Sauce
Village Bakery - Sourdough French Baguette
Kunde Estate, 2004 Chardonnay Reserve
Fresh Eureka Lemons - Farmers' Market
Fresh Parsley - Home Garden
Oyster Shucker
Ander's BBQ Expertise

Barbecued Oysters with Maison Mignonette (min-yon-et) Sauce


1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Sherry Vinegar, (La Bodega Vinagre de Jerez)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely minced
1/8 cup Flat-leafed Parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

36 fresh oysters, unshucked


Whisk together Rice Wine Vinegar through salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Scrub oysters with a stiff brush under running water. Insert an oyster knife into the hinged edge of each oyster; twist knife handle back and forth until top shell is loose. Slide oyster knife along the bottom of the top shell to detach muscle. Remove and discard top shell, keeping the oyster in the deeper bottom shell with "oyster liqueur".

Place oysters on grill, without grill lid, over high heat (400° to 500°) 2-3 minutes, depending on size. Remove oysters from grill with tongs, being careful not to spill "oyster liqueur". Spoon about 1 teaspoon mignonette sauce over each oyster. Serve immediately with sourdough French baguette. Use bread to "sop" up the "oyster liqueur" and mignonette sauce combination.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Adapted from:
Coastal Living, MAY 2000

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Green Papaya Salad

Thai-Laos Green Papaya Salad . . .

The heat seems to be waning a bit. Just a tad. It is with great appreciation we have friends like Phil and Liz. They have invited us over the last several days to keep cool by the waters of their community swimming pool. It is a tremendous relief when I slowly plunge myself into the deep coolness of the water.

Yesterday, as a token of our gratitude, I offered to make a simple lunch. Phil and Liz are fellow foodies. They have discriminating palates. Therefore, a sandwich was not going to cut it. Instead, I prepared an exotic blend of flavors. Green Papaya salad is refreshing, delicious and colorful. I enjoy putting it together. It allows me to bring out the mandoline and play with this gadget to my heart's content. Its dressing is simple and light, spicy and tangy, perky and bright.

We accompanied the salad with a fresh batch of crispy fried chicken, straight out of the fryer, courtesy of the market around the corner. That first bite spoke to me of Summer....

Thai-Laos Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)


4-6 Thai bird chile peppers
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs. small dried shrimp (Soak in warm water for 5 minutes)
4 cups unripe green papaya, peeled and julienned
1 cup cut Asian long beans - 1 1/2-inch-long segments
2 julienned carrot
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
Juice of 4-6 limes, to taste
4-6 Tbs. fish sauce, to taste
2-3 Tbs. palm sugar, melted with 1 Tbs. water into a thick syrup - use as needed
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts (optional, as garnish)


Prepare the ingredients as indicated. A mandoline with julienne blade or the shredder feature of a food processor works well.

Divide the ingredients into two batches and make each batch as follows. Using a large clay mortar with a wooden pestle, pound the garlic and bird chile peppers to a paste. Add the dried shrimp and long beans and pound to bruise. Follow with the green papaya and carrot. Stir well with a spoon and pound to bruise the vegetables so that they absorb the heat and flavor of the chile peppers and garlic.

Add the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar. Stir and pound a bit more to blend the vegetables with the flavorings and seasonings. Taste and adjust flavors to the desired hot-sour-sweet-and-salty combination. Then add the cherry tomato halves, fresh cilantro and fresh mint, stir and bruise lightly to blend in with the rest of the salad. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with peanuts.

Serves 6-8.

I served this once at a summer picnic a couple of years ago. It was placed on the potluck buffet table with other cold salads. I heard someone ask, "What kind of noodles are these?" I chuckled as I watched the guest nibble and try to figure out what it was. She kept getting up for more "veggie noodles".

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

All Things Green - Part 2

As a Contributing Editor in the Food and Drink section of, Sam of "Becks and Posh" made mention of this and this in her recent update of what's hot, "Sound Gardens".

"BlogHer.Org" is a fantastic community of women "bloghers." Their second annual BlogHer Conference begins Friday, July 28th in San Jose, California.

It was truly a pleasant surprise to see "Little Ol' Me" included with other notable "green-fingered" bloggers out there in the blogosphere. I'm soooooo tickled! Thanks for the shout out, Sam!

More "Garden Gab" . . .

Gypsy Sweet Pepper . . .

The Gypsy Sweet Pepper has become a venerable annual planted in the garden. When ripened, it is a beautiful shiny red ornament, "a red flag", if you will, announcing the anticipation of the harvest soon to come. We slice them up raw and throw them in salads or include them as a crudité that accompanies a creamy, "Can't-help-but-double-dip" Dip. We roast some of the bounty and preserve them for winter use. I make a Spanish Paella garnishing my signature dish using our home grown peppers. They are also delicious as a stuffed pepper filled with sausage, cheese and rice. It is then braised in a savory tomato sauce made from the heirlooms grown in the garden.

French Rockette or Italian Arugula...

Ander likes to nibble on this aromatic, nutty, peppery, slighty bitter green as he tends the garden. We make a simple salad tossed with very little dressing made of a full flavored olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Then we throw in a handful of cherry tomatoes. We often use arugula in the same manner we use Sweet Basilico. It makes an excellent "pesto" when the Sweet Basil leaves are scarce.

Globe Artichoke . . .

We have only a couple of these plants, but they put out a good number of orbs that keep us satisfied during their short window of appearance. We steam them in a basket that sits over boiling water infused with crushed garlic, sliced lemons, and bay leaves. For a dipping sauce, I prepare an aioli in the traditional Provençal method using a mortar and pestle. When cooked, you pull off each leaf from the base of the orb with gusto. A scant of aioli is scooped onto the end of the leaf. The tender end is then scraped off with the edge of your teeth. You repeat this process until you reach the "choke", which is the fuzzy, hairy things that come up in a cone shape from the center of the base. Using a spoon, scoop and remove the "choke" from the base, as it is inedible and you can literally "choke" on them. Once you remove all the fuzzy, hairy stuff, you are left with the "heart of the artichoke". Ahhh, this is the pièce de résisitance. I like to slather the aioli into the center cup and have at it. It is a very sensual vegetable to eat. It's like the Dance of a Thousand Veils.

Sweet Basilico . . .

I can't say enough about this popular beauty. So I'll keep it short and sweet. I love the scent of the Sweet Basil perfume as I pinch the leaves to encourage fuller growth. I learned this old trick from my Dad. He used to say "a tall plant doesn't necessarily equate to a large plant. A large plant is determined by the bounty it provides." Makes sense to me. I like the plants to be short and bushy, they provide a lot of leaves. Hence, more pesto to please you, my dearies. We also have the "lettuce leaf" varietal. It lives up to its name and is often used as a lettuce layered between grilled slices of eggplant and roasted bell peppers, draped with melting Mozarella, Provolone or Emmanthaler cheese, dressed with a swoop of pesto and aioli, all tucked between two segments of crusty ciabatta. (Oh, Lordie, I want a "Pan Bagna", right now.)

Swiss Chard . . .

Swiss Chard is like the "girlfriend" you take with you to all the parties. She’s dependable and trustworthy. She never surprises you or let's you down. She is steady and reliable. She fits in all manner of occasions. She’s versatile. She can be the life of the party and hold things together. Or, she can sit back and just be part of the clan. She’s an all-around, multipurpose, handy-dandy veggie to have in the garden. Besides, what we can’t use, “the girlie-girls” get to enjoy them.

Swiss Chard Flan (Crema Della Bietola)


• 4 to 5 packed cups cooked Swiss chard leaves only, (save ribs for later use)
• 1 cup chopped onions
• 1 clove of crushed garlic
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 4 Tbsp butter
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 pound thinly sliced flavorful ham (I indulge in thin slices of Jamon de Serrano or prosciutto.)
• 1/4 pound Provolone cheese
• 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
• 2 cups half and half
• 8 eggs


In a buttered baking dish 4 to 5 inches high, place a buttered piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the dish. Squeeze moisture out of the chard; chop. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add crushed garlic and chopped onions. Cook until onions are translucent. Do not let garlic brown, as it will impart a bitter taste. Add chard, raise heat to high, and, stirring constantly, cook until moisture is evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the ham into 1-inch-wide strips, and cook until lightly browned in the remaining butter, set aside. (If using Jamon de Serrano or prosciutto, no need to cook.) Grate the Provolone and Mozzarella cheeses and combine with the Parmesan. Puree the ricotta cheese with the half and half. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until smooth. Gradually add ricotta cheese mixture to bowl and incorporate with eggs. Season custard mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place one-third of the grated cheeses in the bottom of the baking dish. Drizzle some of the custard mixture on top. Place a third of the ham slices across the cheese, drizzling a little custard mixture in among them. Place a third of the Swiss chard on the ham; coat with custard. Repeat the layering, pouring custard on each layer. (The custard holds the layers together.)

Top with waxed paper and foil. Place baking dish in a roasting pan, pour boiling water halfway up the sides of the dish, and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 350-degree F. oven. Turn heat up to 400 degrees F. and bake 30 minutes longer. Uncover for the last 10 minutes. Allow more time if you use a higher dish. When the custard sides have come away from the edges of the dish, and when the center tests dry, the custard is done. Place on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Unmold onto a serving platter or if serving cold, slice into squares for individual appetizers. Can be serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings

With the weather the way it's been lately, record high of 113 degrees F., I'd recommend to save the "Swiss Chard Flan" for a cool autumn evening. Pairs well with a 2003 Teruzzi & Puthod Vernaccia de San Gimignano. Vernaccia is one of Tuscany's oldest and noblest wines.

"If you would be happy all your life, plant a garden"...Chinese Proverb ...

Life is a garden, my friends. Be Happy!

Friday, July 21, 2006

MadEater's Mid-Summer Melon Gazpacho

The heatwave doesn't seem like it's going to wane any time soon, so who wants to be standing in the heat of the kitchen? Not I.

Inspired by "COOKIECRUMB" at I'm Mad and I Eat, I made this for dinner last night. I got a new gadget that was similar to the one I saw in my Mom's kitchen gadget drawer. So I took to the melons with this,

Can you name this?

First one of my fellow food bloggers to name this, gets one. Give me your answer in the Comments. Are there any other ways to use this thingamajig-gizmo-doohickey? Perhaps curl butter? Zest citrus? Cut cheese?

COOKIECRUMB has one coming to her via snail-mail.

Since I came up with the recipe as I was leaving a comment for CC's post, I'm re-naming it "MadEater's Mid-Summer Melon Gazpacho".

Oh, BTW, I'v been awarded Best Recipe. (See Comments here.)

"I'd like to thank the academy - the CCA, that is. Yup, I still got it, baby." (She said modestly.) :-)

MadEater's Mid-Summer Melon Gazpacho


A variety of melons, shaved or diced
"Ice cold" milk, enough to cover
A drizzle of honey, to sweeten, if desired
Garnish with sprig of mint

Variation: Purée half the quantity of melon, add dices of remaining melons. Mix in cold milk. Chill before serving. Drizzle with honey. Dollop with Greek Yoghurt. Garnish with sprig of mint.

Over the Top: A sprinkle of crispy cereal, granola or "cookiecrumbs", such as "Amaretti"

All it takes is a bit of inspiration to get those creative juices flowing. Go ahead, get started. Be CREATIVE!

What inspires you? Leave a comment. I'd like to know.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Passport Party - Block Party #12

Happy 1st Anniversary!!!

Stephanie over at Dispensing Happiness is hosting the Block Party #12. This month's theme is a Passport Party and Stephanie tells us "we're traveling to our favorite places by way of the kitchen, with bites and drinks from our favorite countries."

I have several favorite places I've traveled to. But there is no other place does my heart beat faster for than the country of ESPAÑA. The homeland of my ancestors. (Look here.)

The last time I used my passport was when I traveled through France and Spain. Although I did extensive food and cultural research in Paris, Provence and the Camargue region of France, it was on the Iberian Peninsula that I was enchanted by the gastronomy of Spain.

So, my friends and fellow food bloggers, I bring to our celebration banquet a selection of “Tapas” and for added refreshment, to quench the summer heat, a satisfying and satiating “Sangria”.


Tapas Platter

Boquerones on Pan Tostado
Carrot, Melon and Radish Coolers
Cured Olives
Stinging Nettle Cheese
Sliced Fruit

Spanish Sangria


• 1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
• 1 Lemon cut into wedges
• 1 Orange cut into wedges
• 1 Lime cut into wedges
• 2 Tbsp sugar
• Splash of orange juice
• 2 Shots of gin, rum or brandy or 1 Shot of each type of liquor
• 1 Cup of sliced strawberries or raspberries
• 1 Small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
• 4 Cups ginger ale


Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon, orange and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar, orange juice and gin. Chill overnight.

Add ginger ale and ice just before serving. If you'd like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice. However, remember that the best Sangrias are chilled around 24 hours in the refrigerator - allowing the flavors to really marinate into each other.

Adapted from:
Stacy Slinkard
Your Guide to Wine

Score: Blue Jay - 2, Little Ol' Me - ZERO

Tomorrow was too late. Story of my life.

I shoulda plucked them when I had a chance. Look what I found this morning.

The Little F'r took off with one and left the other just to taunt me.

Hmmmm, reminds me of that movie "Caddy Shack".

And so it begins . . .

GAME ON ! ! !

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Battle with the Blue Jays

I heard the annoying screech of the blue jay sitting on the branch of the fig tree. I thought to myself, "It's too early in the season for them to be sitting up there."

And . . . then . . . I . . . spied . . .

THIS and . . .


Every year, we battle it out with the neighborhood Blue Jays. A flock of unruly creatures. They sit in waiting on the high wire lines or across the way on the branch of an old oak tree. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Just when they think the coast is clear, they take wing into the canopy of the thick foliage of the lone fig tree. They find a convenient branch where they can perch their feathered tushy and begin pecking at the just ripe fruit of the Brown Turkey Fig. I don’t mind so much that they partake on SOME of the fruit, especially the ones that are too high for us to reach. (Our attempts are futile and results “fruitless” [Forgive the pun], even if we are on the last rung of the rickety old ladder.) It’s that they peck a couple of times here, move on to the next fruit and peck, then repeat on to the next, etc. We end up with half the fruit pecked out, the remainder exposed and left to spoil. That’s a waste of perfectly good fruit. Rather than throw a way too cumbersome net over the tree, as commercial growers do, we prefer to battle it out using noise to scare the Jays away. Sometimes, I wonder what the neighbors may think when they see either Ander or myself, stepping out of the house with hands clapping, arms flailing about, feet stomping and whooping it up against the fig tree as an effort to shoo these bothersome birds away. I can just hear them saying, “There they are, A & A, whooping it up, again, for whatever-the-H, reason.”

We’re a fun couple, to say the least. A fine pair, I’d say.

Anyway, there they are, a couple of fine figs. A fine pair, indeed.

Tomorrow won’t be soon enough to pluck them off their branch. Although, enough for us.

One for Ander and one for little ol’ Me.

Life is a banquet, my friends.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

All Things Green - Part I

As I promised, in Garden Gab, an update on the progress of the garden as follows.

"A picture paints a thousand words" . . .

Garden Progress . . .

Delicate Yellow Pear . . .

Future Green Tomato Chutney . . .

Peppers and Beans . . .

Pepper, Squash and Lemon Cukes . . .

There's something to say about "bio-diversity" . . .

To Be Continued . . .

Monday, July 17, 2006

MythBuster . . . Filipino Food Fattening?

Fresh Marungay Leaves. . .

It has been a week since the "greet and meet" with Clotilde and Maxence at the Place Pigalle.

We walked into the smoky bar and found ourselves amongst the friends and fellow bloggers that came to see Clotilde and Maxence. After introducing Ander and myself to her, Clotilde kindly asked, "Where are you from originally?" I answered, "Originally, from the Philippines, but I was raised here in the States." Maxence eyes lit up and began to tell us of his "step-mother" being part Filipino and that they were VERY familiar with Filipino Foods. I was very pleased to hear that. I felt an instant rapport and familiarity. Another blogger, Ch., acknowledged and joined the conversation, nodding her head and stating, "Filipino food is like Japanese food." Somehow, growing up on the Filipino food my Mom and Dad prepared for us did not remind me of Japanese food.

Yet, another C&Z friend, interjected with a strong, "Filipino food is soooooooo fattening." A statement that had me hopping up on the fence. Is Filipino Food Fattening? You see, (I am making only a general observation and of my opinion, no stereotyping here) most Filipino Folk are not FAT. (BTW, I am my Father's daughter and inherited his genes. I'm like the "Little Teapot". So, no, you won't actually see me "hopping on the fence" any time soon. LOL!)

On one side, I find that the "fattening" aspect could be the amount consumed by individual Pinoy. On the other side, perhaps the type of ingredients and methods of cooking will factor into the equation. I would like to explore this conundrum. (Future posts will explore ingredients and methods.) Let's start with volume consumption. My Father would insist on having the "Trinity" on the dining table. That would consist of "fish, pork and beef" or "chicken, pork and beef" or any combination of "3" types of entrées. Side dishes would include vegetables and the staple of "fresh" steamed rice. We would cook the rice either in a huge rice cooker that "ALL" Filipino families had or in a reliable saucepan capable of holding a few cups of cooked rice. Back in the old days, we used to buy 50 Lb. bags of CalRose rice at a time on our monthly expedition to the “Cah-mee-sAH-ree” on the Naval Base. I remember following, in tow, behind my Mother with a second grocery cart as she proceeded to fill the first cart with the essentials; meat, milk, bread, rice, etc. My cart would hold, vegetables, cereals, laundry detergent, etc.

In most recent years, my family has become more nutritionally aware of what we eat. Having lost my Father to complications due to Diabetes, we have modified our food consumption and the use of sugar, salt, fats and carbohydrates. We still have our comfort foods, but use ingredients that are healthier and beneficial. For example, instead of using the CalRose short-grain, starchy rice, we use a long-grain rice, such as, the fragrant Jasmine rice. Sometimes, we’ll indulge with the nutty Brown rice. One of my sisters combines both when serving rice to her family. We don’t eat as much red meat as in the past, and we don’t require the “Trinity” on the table unless it’s a big family celebration to bring on the occasion. We are pleased with what we place on our banquet table. Everything in moderation, of course.

Since we’re “havin’ a heat wave” in the North Bay, we are not inclined to cook much in our little cottage. However, I did spy some fresh “Marungay” leaves at the Asian Mart and thought of my sweet, adoring Mom. She loves this “vegetable” and can’t get enough of it. It is not indigenous to this country and is flown in from Hawaii. My Uncle W, living in Honolulu, sends to my Mom, foiled wrapped packages of branches he cuts from his tree, whenever one of us visits Oahu. We cross our fingers when going through the Ag section of Customs.

My Mom is from the Philippine Province of Ilocos Sur. She grew up in the City of Manila and did not have much experience in the kitchen. She was raised in a privileged home and only concentrated on her studies. Mom didn’t learn to cook until AFTER she married my Dad. This is one of the simple “comfort” dishes I make whenever I’m homesick for my Mom’s cooking. It is called “la uya” in the Ilocos region. I learned it as “Chicken Tinola”. My version did not include Green Papaya, but rather the carrots and potatoes I needed to use up from my veggie-bin. Besides, I didn’t want to drive all the way back to Asia Mart, therefore, conserving the gas that would take me on the 10 mile roundtrip.

Chicken Tinola with Marungay Leaves . . .

Chicken Tinola (Chicken Papaya)


2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 small piece Ginger, sliced thin
2 cloves crushed Garlic
2 lbs. Chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 small Green Papayas, cut into chunks
1 cup Water
2 cups Chicken stock
2 cups Marungay Leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste


Sauté ginger and garlic in oil, add onion. Add chicken and allow to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Cover
and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add a little water if necessary to prevent scorching. Add remaining water and chicken stock. Let simmer until chicken is cooked tender. Add papaya. Cook 5 minutes. Add Marungay leaves and cook 2-3 additional minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Yield: 6 servings

Variations: When Green Papaya is unavailable, substitute with Chayote Squash. When Marungay leaves are unavailable, substitute with tender pepper leaves.

NOTE: The Marungay leaves must be picked off the stems and branches. It is a very painstaking chore and only a Darling Husband, like Ander, would endure the hour or so it took for him to strip the leaves off the stems. He has a method. Patience, my friends, is indeed, a virtue when it comes to this dish.

And don't laugh...I have a habit of combining both starches, rice and potatoes on my plate. It's a habit I'm trying to break. Ander is expert at pointing this out to me.

Besides the oil and the chicken fat that provides the "flavor" factor in this dish, would you consider it "Fattening"?. We can always strip the skin off the chicken before cooking to eliminate the fat in the equation, since we are adding chicken stock for additional flavor. How much chicken flavor do you really need in a chicken soup?

Leave a comment, I want to know...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy Birthday to ME!

We're going to Paris ala San Francisco!

To be continued . . . .

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happy Birthday to Ander !

Happy Birthday, My Darling, Ander . . .

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Better Late, Than Never . . .

Keeping my word and being my father's daughter, after all, I completed the assembly of the "Crostini with Gorgonzola, Carmelized Onions and Fig Jam" as mentioned here

And . . .

Mentioned . . . here

Ander and I invited ourselves back "under the oaks" and shared these delights with Theo and Nancy. Pairs well with 2004 Kathryn Kennedy Sauvignon Blanc or for an elegant indulgence, 2001 d'Yquem Sauterne.

Sharing is Caring . . .

When ambition gets the best of me, I tend to throw caution to the wind. We were invited to Theo and Nancy’s for their Annual “First of the Summer” gathering “Under the Oaks”.

Under the Oaks . . .

In my previous post, I made mention of the “Crostini with Gorgonzola, Carmelized Onions and Fig Jam”. I even included the recipe should you wish to partake in the most delicious nibble. The multiple layers of flavors tickles the palate with bursts of sweet and savory, crunch and munch and lip smackin’ good. You can’t have just one. (Look here.)

So what happened to the absent appetizer? I ran out of time. Yes, shame on me. This culinary school trained professional ran-out-of-time! No excuses. Just didn’t get the ball rollin’.

I had the pasta dish assembled and plated. I had transformed the Artisan Bakery Sourdough Baguette into toasted crostini. The Gorgonzola spread was blended and ready to “shmear”. The coveted Fig Confiture was pulled from the pantry shelf. The onion marmalade sat cooling on the burner. So what happened to assembly? Ander calling out “It’s 2:00PM and cars are turning into the driveway! Do you really have to wash your hair? You’re gonna wear a hat anyway! C’mon, woman, get the lead out! I’m H-U-N-G-A-R-Y!!!” I return with “Uh-huh…I’m coming, Dear”, straining to keep both middle digits clenched in my hand. Since the Oaks are just around the bend of the driveway, I proceeded to make a substitute on the spot – “Crunchy Carrots with Fresh Dill Salad”. Wouldn’t you know, it became the hit of the potluck buffet. A hit, I say, as it distinguished itself by guest making compliments and asking “How did you make this?” This question, which I’m often posed with, translates to “May I have the recipe?”

Pasta and Carrots . . .

We were pleasantly entertained by the different guests in attendance. It was nice to meet new acquaintances, such as lovely Ruth who taught us the game of "fruit basket" and sang to us of “where paw-paws grow.” I had a rare opportunity to pull trivia out of the annals of my brain. I explained, “A paw-paw is the largest edible fruit native to America. The fruit appears plump, similar to the mango or papaya and has the same flavor profile as the cherimoya or custard apple. “

Lovely Ruth . . .

We also had the chance to catch up with old community comrades like John and Karen, Nancy and Harold. John, with his handy-dandy digital, captured several “candid” moments. Karen, sweet and charming, sharing the accounts of a doting aunt to her teenage nephew, Spencer. Nancy, vivacious and fun personality kept our table lively. Chairs kept getting pulled up alongside each other. Harold, being a Navy man, and I exchanged tales of Naval activities I’d heard from my father. Harold revealed some of his own adventures during his time in the service. There was a certain familiar glint in his eyes when I mentioned the “shellback” ritual. This is a ceremonial occurrence when “pollywogs” cross the Equator. One thing I learned from my Father, I have become skilled in getting to know people and encouraging their spirit to come forward. I always enjoy hearing their stories and seeing the joy on their faces when memories of things past arise.

Harold . . .

While training at the CCA, a favorite instructor told me, “As a trained chef, it is expected to guard your best recipes”. However, it is in my nature, I am my Father’s daughter, after all, to share my gifts. I introduced our group to the allure of Limoncello and how it is the traditional thirst-quencher of the Italian Amalfi Coast. I served up samples of Bellini’s made with Sir William Pear purée and our local Paradise Ridge, Blanc de Blanc “champagne”, explaining that the original cocktail was created at Harry’s Bar in Venice. The original is customarily made with White Peach fruit purée or juice and the Italian Sparkling Wine, Prosecco.

And now, without further ado, I share my recipe for “Crunchy Carrots with Fresh Dill Salad”.

Dear Nancy and Harold,

Below is the recipe I promised you. Hope your family reunion at "Lake Paw-Paw" is full of fun and adventure. Bon Voyage!

Chef Anni

(NOTE: Ander and I first tasted this delightful side dish at a quaint California café. Upon asking for the recipe, they denied me the pleasure. Making the most of my culinary training and Food Science background, I began to dissect the savory dish to come up with a recipe of my own.)

Special Equipment: Mandoline or VERY sharp knife and proficient knife skills


6 large Fresh Carrots, thinly sliced
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup Fresh Dill, finely chopped, fronds only, no stems
1/4 cup Fresh Italian or Flat-leafed Parsley, finely chopped, leaves only, no stems
1 large Fresh Lemon, zest and juice
6 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Combine garlic, lemon juice, zest and Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large bowl to make a marinade or vinaigrette. Add thinly sliced carrots, fine chopped dill and parsley. Toss all together. Salt and pepper, to taste. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Yield: Approx. 4 – 6 servings.

Variation: I also like to include thinly sliced radishes for a colorful display. As an hors d’oeuvre, I spread sweet butter on a slice of rustic bread and place the herbed carrots/radishes on top. Pairs well with Kunde Estate Chardonnay.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Chocolate and Zucchini at the Place Pigalle

Clotilde and Maxence . . .

We were able to catch up with Clotilde and Maxence (Yes, of THEEEEEEEE One and OOOOOONLY "Chocolate and Zucchini") at the Place Pigalle for a birthday toast. A charming couple, indeed! They are all that I had imagined they would be, very down to earth, friendly and engaging. They ARE good people! Warm fuzzies. . .Good huggers!

Clotilde and Ander . . .

We also met other C&Z fans, Joanne, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Derrick of an obsession with food".

It seemed a fun night had by all.

Clotilde and Maxence return to Paris today. According to "Max", they enjoyed their trip tremendously!

Merci Beaucoup, Clotilde and Maxence for toasting our upcoming birthdays this weekend ! ! ! We hope you enjoy your souvenirs.