November 2011

Cranberry Vanilla Bean Syrup, a Compote and a Cocktail

November 22, 2011
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Lately I’ve had an obsession with vanilla beans. Don’t ask me why, I just think everything tastes better with a little real vanilla bean added to it. This is coming from someone who has always been a chocolate girl at heart. While chocolate is my longtime love, vanilla beans are my latest crush. Unlike adding vanilla extract, using the fresh bean will actually perfume your food. You will smell the vanilla before you taste it.

I wanted to make a holiday inspired syrup as a mix-in to use with my SodaStream soda. Then of course, I thought “Who doesn’t need want a cocktail on Thanksgiving?” In my family, it’s become tradition to start a large meal with an ice cold shot of gin so the cocktail is an homage to that traditional as well.

Finally, the compote was simply an unexpected bonus. I wasn’t really thinking about what …

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Apple Cider Roasted Carrots with Rosemary and Nutmeg

November 14, 2011
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Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, probably because it’s all about food and there’s no gift buying pressure.

Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition is a little different from most. It started back when my mother was a young graduate student at Berkely in the early 70′s. I remember it clearly and I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old at the time. We had about 25 people over to dinner and they were all “friends and orphans” with no family in the area and nowhere else to go. We didn’t have a lot of money, but somehow my mom managed to put on an amazing feast.
Over the years little has changed. We still have somewhere between 15 and 25 people at dinner, mostly friends and sometimes the occasional relative. The players have evolved to be a greater proportion my generation’s “friends and orphans” but the love and familial …

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Favorite Food Experiences From Japan Part 3; Markets and Food Halls

November 11, 2011
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This is the last installment in a three part series on some of my favorite food experiences in Tokyo and Kyoto Japan. If you missed it, make sure you check out part 1,  Noodles, Unagi and Tempura and Tonkatsu and part 2, Yakatori; Izakaya, Sushi, and Okonomiyaki. This post will focus on the incredible and diverse markets and food halls in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market

If people know you are interested in food and going to Tokyo, they always say “You have to go to the fish market early in the morning!” This was always part of our plan, but we were in Tokyo a mere 6 weeks after the earthquake and tsunami of march 2011, and we’d heard that the vendors, some of whom don’t like tourists in the market, had been lobbying to keep sightseers out all together. That, combined with recent changes to …

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Cardamom Spiced Persimmon Ice Cream

November 3, 2011
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We have an ongoing battle surrounding our persimmon tree with the squirrels in our neighborhood.

It’s actually pretty simple; they eat the persimmons, sometimes tossing them aside after only a few bites, and we shake our fists at them, yell, and sometimes cry. It’s quite sad, but only for us. I think the squirrels are fairly happy with the deal.

To add insult to injury, it seems that our persimmon tree only bears a substantial amount of fruit every other year. In the bountiful years it’s not uncommon for us to get buckets of fruit, 50-75 pounds of it, so much that we are giving it away and don’t notice the squirrel consumption. In the “off” years, we get nary a persimmon with the squirrels eating any and all of the meager amount of fruit on the tree. This is one of those years where the humans did not get …

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