Sunday, July 31, 2005

Must Love Dogs. Today's adventure was going to see this movie after some shopping for Dad. I made some nitsumono and hijiki rice for dinner. We both enjoyed the movie.

My friend Haruko. Linda and I were just wondering about Haruko yesterday, and what do I see in the paper today? An article quoting her. She's a major mover in the anti-nuclear movement in Japan. I copy the article form the Globe and Mail below.

'It's been 60 years, and people are forgetting'
By Geoffrey York

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN -- The A-bomb survivors knew their peace movement was in trouble when they were banned by an Atlanta school board and heckled by hostile Americans at a peace march in Washington.

The elderly survivors of Hiroshima are rarely invited to speak to the world's children these days. The global mood has turned hawkish. New countries are acquiring nuclear weapons. And with the U.S. administration refusing to co-operate, the latest disarmament talks at the United Nations collapsed in disarray this year.

For decades, the Japanese survivors were the heart and soul of the global peace movement. Now their generation is dying, and the world's memory of Hiroshima is fading. Even with the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb approaching on Aug. 6, few people are listening to their message.

One of the most poignant symbols of their movement -- the concept of "ground zero" as the epicentre of the first nuclear blast -- has been appropriated by New York, where the phrase now refers to the location of the events that occurred there on Sept. 11, 2001. Those attacks and the more recent ones in London, rather than the decades of nuclear terror that began in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dominate today's global consciousness.

"Most of those with direct memories of the atomic bomb will pass away in the near future," said Chisako Takeoka, a 77-year-old survivor who found her mother's horribly injured body among the wreckage of Hiroshima.

"It's a big challenge for us. We're asking the younger generation to carry on our stories."
Hiroshima was the dawn of an era of nuclear dread. Even when the Cold War ended, the nuclear powers maintained their missile arsenals and new states joined the nuclear club. Nuclear weapons are millions of times more powerful than anything that hit New York or London or Madrid in recent years, yet their presence has fallen off the world's mental map.

Ms. Takeoka, like hundreds of other survivors in Hiroshima, has dedicated her life to educating the world about the effects of nuclear bombs. But even as nuclear weapons spread to new countries, from North Korea to South Asia, she sees the world losing interest.

"People are more interested in the anti-terrorism campaign," she said. "The focus has shifted away from nuclear weapons. Of course the war against terrorism is important, but nothing can compare to the horror of a nuclear bomb."

Today's nuclear weapons, thousands of times more powerful than the bomb that fell on Hiroshima, would cause the slaughter of all humanity, she said. "I feel very sad about the world. I have a feeling that ultimately some country will use nuclear weapons again."

For more than 35 years, the city of Hiroshima has protested against every nuclear test around the world, acting as a voice of conscience for the victims of nuclear attacks. For a while, the protests seemed to be making progress. After hitting a peak in 1987, the number of nuclear tests declined sharply when the Cold War ended and dwindled to almost none in 2000. But since Sept. 11, 2001, the nuclear tests have gained momentum again.

The protest letters, signed by the mayor of Hiroshima, cover four walls at the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, reaching a total of 588 today. Nine nuclear tests have been conducted since Sept. 11, 2001, eight by the United States and one by Russia. There are so many protest letters that the display space is running out. Just six more letters can be posted in the museum exhibit before the walls are filled.

The backlash against the atomic bomb survivors is already beginning.

One group of Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors and children of survivors was invited to speak to a high school in Atlanta in 2002, but the invitation was abruptly cancelled.

"It was done at the 11th hour, at night," said Haruko Moritaki, whose father lost an eye to shrapnel when the bomb fell on Hiroshima. "We were labelled as opponents of George Bush. Most ordinary Americans have learned no lessons from Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

When the survivors joined a peace march in Washington, they were jeered by passersby who shouted, "Go home!" and "Remember Pearl Harbor!"

Peace education, once a mandatory subject in Japanese classrooms, is now disappearing from the curriculum.

Shoji Kihara, a peace activist and son of two Hiroshima survivors, said Japanese schools have largely eliminated the peace memorial meetings and peace textbooks that were common in the past.

"There used to be so many teachers who were survivors, but now they are mostly retired," he said. "The second and third generation of teachers don't know the reality of the A-bomb. It's been 60 years, and people are forgetting about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the world is more dangerous than ever."

Last spring, the Hiroshima survivors watched the collapse of the latest UN review of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. At the previous review, five years earlier, the United States had agreed to affirm the long-term goal of all nations to eliminate nuclear weapons. But this year the review fell apart because the United States refused to co-operate on disarmament issues.
"These are dark days for the peace movement," said Sunao Tsuboi, an 80-year-old Hiroshima survivor.

Still, he is not giving up hope. "We're in a transition period. But in the long run, I'm convinced we will win. The wind against us always makes us more determined."

Hint water. Slightly more of the bitterness of the natural cukes that I'd like, but overall a unique and refreshing drink.

Hint water has other flavors too; tangerine or pear may be a better pairing for essence without sugar.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturn White Peaches. After starting the morning spritely with a leisurely breakfast at the Dipsea in San Rafael with my fellow Shadow Dancing ladies, I took their advice about meandering throught the charming town of Ross. I did my shopping at Woodland's and picked up these peach beauties as a treat for my Dad.

Later, gave Dad a list of possibile things I could whip up for lunch, and he chose the pizza. So I rolled out a garlic herb crust and topped it with Canadian Bacon, fresh heirloom tomato slices, fresh morel mushrooms and a four cheese mix. It it was great, chased by the above mentioned peaches.

Salute to the Arts. On my way to this, will post more details later.

Well, back from Sonoma, and we circled this and decided not to go for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that Olivia was with us, and at 4 may not have enjoyed it $35 dollars worth.

So... we went to see March of the Penguins, a very good film, and yes, even though G rated, it wasn't the most exciting for Miss Olivia either.

We ended our evening with dinner at Kirin in Santa Rosa, which consitently makes good Chinese food. Potstickers, vegetable fried rice and Champagne scallops were our choices there.

I picked up Dad who enjoyed his time at his place, the Wine Country House, next weekend he'll be moving back.

The weather is simply beautiful, and what a nice pink sky as the sun went down. I've opened my sliding glass doors to let the sea breeze blow through.

Will sure be happy when I can put my BBQ and deck furniture, plants back where they belong! The painters have been working on it since July 15th, and it is still not finished.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Art Bistro. Well this was a find this morning, new and not reported anywhere I can ferret out. This little gem is in the Richmond (33rd & Geary) close to the Palace of the Legion of Honor Art Museum. It has a bright red canopy and bright red round metal tables with red fabric umbrellas outside, and the inside is charming as well. Charming as in filled with green plants and many blooming lavender and linen-white orchids with a nice fresh smell, wicker funiture and pillows in soft greens, and one of the fabric umbrellas over one of the tables for effect. Primarily a coffee shop, it also has very fresh and lovely French/Italian pastries and they do breakfast bagels and croissants with a number of luscious breakfast toppings. The walls also had beautiful original paintings for sale, mosting gorgeous garden flower scenes. Dad sunk into one of the cushioned wicker seats near the window and leaned into the pillows sipping whipped-cream topped hot chocolate.

Part of getting better, I think, is being surrounded by all the wonder that there is, to bring desire for living deeply for another day. So after treating my Dad to the Art Bistro stop, since it was near the Palace and Presidio, I took the meandering way home. We enjoyed the view of the city from the Palace, the fog had lifted enough to see a beautiful skyline. We meandered through the back view of the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge through Sea Cliff and the Presidio, and I took one more detour down Long Drive to the Crissy Field area, and found a charming park cafe, The Warming Hut, to come back and explore at a later date. There were runners of all ages along the drive and the air was marvelous.

Tonight, well Dad wanted to go 'out' for dinner, so we consulted my car, which called the restaurant, the Pelican Inn to see if there was space for two. There was in 20 minutes, and we were there. The Pelican Inn is near Muir Beach, and has a lovely English country setting. We happened upon a wedding party posing for photos in front of the tudor style inn. The interior was very romantic, lots of lit tapers, a fire burning and a man playing harp (a lap harp of 44-strings). The trouble started with the food (fire the chef!)... Dad had a Ribbet (sprite & lime juice), I a Shandy (beer & sprite), then came a watercress, cucumber and strawberry salad for me, tomato soup for Dad. The salad was a large bunch of watercress dumped on a plate with two sliced strawberries and two slices of cucumber. Dressing was nearly non-existent, just applied to the stems of the watercress. Not good. Dad liked the soup. Dad ordered a main dish of vegetable pie, and I the signature dish, Beef Wellington. Dad's pie had large barely cooked vegetable pieces in an unremarkable tomato sauce, he could barely take a few bites. Mine had RAW red potatoes, rather than roasted red, and my 'medium' beef, was very well done, yet the pastry very pasty. So, very definitely a romatic spot for a drink and some small appetizing bites, but the meals are definitely not edible.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Enova. An all natural (not fat substitute) oil that has been enhanced for burning rather than absorbtion properties in the body. This was a Japantown find. Apparently, Kao invented it and it's been licenced here. Have to report use of it later, as I haven't tried it yet. Today I spent working at home and watching Dad, made some hijiki rice and a veggie melt for dinner. Dad wanted to see a comedy, so we watched a TERRIBLE film on On Demand Cable, Super Troopers. It was really not worth the time, but Dad got a few chuckles when he wasn't being appalled.

I also did some evening exploring of a new webservice introduced to me by my friend Cliff. It looks really fun, and just up my socially inclined alley.. see Bay Area Link Up. I think anyone can find an interest to follow and meet new friends there!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bad surprise. Took Dad to Max's for a nice breakfast, but soon thereafter he took a tumble which colored the rest of the day. Stayed home and stood watch per doctor's orders. The second bad surpise, that ocurred earlier was finding out Dad's treatment has been extended by a week :-(. Had dinner with Linda at the Wild Fox and caught up with a friend of ours, Jaison.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Routine with surprises. Toran and Aurelia are just so cute, I had to post another picture from yesterday's Muir Woods adventure at the left. Dad's treatment was very quick this morning, and he was doing well, so I spent nearly a normal schedule at work. We didn't try any new things, I cooked at home making him a mini-quiche (frozen) for breakfast and some spelt linguine with broccoli, onions and ham for dinner (left over linguine freshened up). I spoke at length to my Aunt Dorothy, now 90 years old, and packing up boxes to move from Yakima to Sequim to be closer to her grandsons and son-in-law. Good timing as she's moving over the weekend, and I got her new address/phone #. She repeated to me that she's adopting me as a daughter now since we're both 'orphans' in the sense that my Mom's gone and her daughter's gone and we've been like family since before I was born. It's even more of a complex relationship than that, but enough for this post. Found out a friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer, a plague in Marin to be sure. We're in a great circle of women who hang together so I hope she'll find comfort in our friendship and varied life experiences we've all had of the tough as well as the fun.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Muir Woods. After the usual hospital/chemo scene (Dad's last day of chemo!!!), and a bit of a nap, we met Jo-Ann, Toran and Aurelia for a lovely walk through Muir Woods. I snapped Toran and Aurelia in a hollow tree along the pathway. Toran wanted Auntie Anna to choose a dinner location, and she thought Joe's Taco Lounge may be just the thing. And as usual with kids, although he said he wanted tacos, once he was there there wasn't a thing on the menu he was interested in having. We had a good time anyway.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lazy day. Slept in, started the new Harry Potter book... met Linda, Yalda & Olivia for lunch at the Red Grape in Sonoma. Was disappointed that Erika couldn't make it up for a visit... Caught up on editing ECTV site. (I'm the Chief Editor of the Earth Changes TV webpage for the Front Page: Breaking Sections, gives me something to do in the wee hours when I can't sleep). Picked up Dad and heard an enthusiastic tale of his weekend at home. His lady friend apparently liked the surprise gift of chocolates that Dad asked me to help pick out on Friday.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mt. Tamalpais. A free day to myself! And what do I do? Fill it with friends, or a friend. After some creative photography sessions, Daniel and I went to the very top of Mt. Tamalpais, with a stop at my favorite picnic area. Going to the very top meant climbing rocks like a goat, but the view is well worth it. I had to take a photo of the elevation, and of some flowers placed on my car that Daniel rescued from the side of a cliff. We stayed until nearly sunset... see one of the photos I took from the top:

We lingered so long because of the breathtaking beauty, and watching the fog roll in... there was an interesting effect of one of the fingers that came through the Golden Gate first - a little leader piece appeared in the form of an angel at the head of Angel Island, wispily, and then broke up.

We missed timing for dinner, but went to see a movie that had it's world premier last night at the "Lark" in Larkspur. The film was a work of love and only cost $25K to film. "The Aviary" was very refreshing and original. And now I need some refreshment, so I'm off to Zzzland.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rigolo. A darling French cafe on California in Laurel Village. The offerings are very French style, and it has an ambient charm. Dad had the French toast which was a little round of brioche permeated with egg and softly baked surrounded by a fruit compote. He raved. I tried the Croque Madam, which was a brioche topped with prosciutto, bechamel and guyere and a fried egg with fresh fruit as a side (choice of potatoes, breakfast meat or fruit). They serve breakfast and lunch as well. You order from the counter and wait while they cook... Rigolo means "a little funny" in French, but there's nothing funny about their delicious offerings.

Dad was feeling so chipper, he decided to go home for the weekend. So we stopped and had dinner at a charming place "Tador of Spain" in San Rafael. It's a tapas place so new I can't find reviews anywhere. I enjoyed trying a white sangria with the tastes.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nook. What a charming place. On the corner of Hyde and Jackson on Nob Hill, it truly is tucked in a nook. Contrary to my previous notes about parking being easier in difficult districts in early morning, this was difficult, and it is very hilly. However, taking the Hyde street Cable Car would be perfect for getting here. The breakfast menu is somewhat limited, mostly bagels, pastries and a couple hot items. My Dad tried the waffles, looked good and he was complimentary. I tried the breakfast wrap which was supposed to contain eggs, ham, beans and avocado, and it was toasted on the top, not just wrapped, and sliced decoratively with a side of lush greens. It was without avocado, but still good. Free Wi-Fi advertised too.

Sweet Ginger. Dad was feeling peppy this eveing and wanted to go out to a new place... so we went to Sausalito to a gem of a Japanese restaurant. Although it's been ages since I've been there, it is still as good. The miso bass had a melt-in-your-mouth texture and was perfectly flavored.

This blog is now being transmitted into space! Click on transmission button to find out more!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dad's 85th Birthday. Dad's first treat was being able to sleep in... then after appointments at USCF, we went to see Happy Endings in Mill Valley and dined at the little French bakery next door, Champagne.

Happy Endings turned out to be a real shocker in the sense of I was expecting something that my 85 year old father could enjoy.... read the SF Chronicle review I read before choosing it:

"Filmmaker Don Roos cares desperately about the confused souls populating his extremely pleasurable and heartfelt new film. He divines the past, present and future of an eclectic group, including Lisa Kudrow as an emotional basket case, Maggie Gyllenhaal as a scam artist and Tom Arnold as the rich guy she's trying to scam. The underrated Arnold is a standout in a large cast without a single misguided performance. It’s not giving anything away to say that this sweet and uplifting film ends happily. "

Quote my Dad: "That film was AWFUL".. the first thing out of his mouth as we left the theater. Later, "Boy, was that an odd film". I'm scringing... sorry Dad. I'm sure he'd never seen the likes of it in his life. It IS a well-crafted film, and it is unique and interesting, but it's really a modern sophisticates film, not an old-fashioned, elderly man's kind of film.

The staff at Champagne made up for it by treating my Dad royally and lighting a candle on his French triple chocolate mousse cake.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Fred's Coffee Shop. Spectacularly awful. It wasn't even a shadow of its rave reviews. Immediately wanted to consume a bottle of Chitosan! The waitress recommended their French Toast. Imagine thickish slices of French toast, soaked 100% through with the egg batter, then coated in Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake batter and fried in lots of oil till it's dark and crispy. Two diagonally cut pieces baked together in a foamy, oily sea of batter. There was a photo of smiling Fred on the wall, he passed on in the '80s'. Wonder what it was like under his management?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday again. Chemo day.. and extra doctor's appointments, and I had to coordinate my car in the mix. Yes, I've loved my sassy red Prius so much that I've already worn out a set of tires! So I dropped Dad off for the radiation, and zoomed over to SF Toyota for 4 new tires and alignment. They gave me a complimentary rental car, and I zoomed back to the hospital and found parking, and got back in time to lead Dad to the bloodwork room. The car was finished about half-way through the infusion, so it worked for me to return the rental, pick up my car, and meet Dad in the pick-up circle in front of the hosptial. So goes the days of my life right now, but only 9 left of Dad's intensive treatment!

So for dinner I used some left over grilled wild coho salmon and made a fresh pizza with it and capers and mediterranean cheeses as topping to a fresh yeast pizza dough. Grilled artichokes for veggies, and some whole peach sorbet for dessert.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Birthday Bookend Celebration. My Dad turns 85 on Wednesday, which is a difficult day to round up friends to celebrate together, so we're doing weekend bookend celebrations, with perhaps just he and I celebrating on the actual day. Today we're going to a corner art garden in Sonoma that we pass all the time and had no idea it was a 'destination' with people traveling from abroad just to see it. It's called the "Cornerstone Festival of Gardens" and the feature I've noticed most passing on the road is the tall blue tree, yes blue, the one at the head of this entry. we went! What a lovely garden and galleries. We truly enjoyed the day. Wish I had an extra $30K or so for some of the more fantastic sculptures. I guess I'd better add in some for a house with a garden to display them as well! My MegaMillions Friday ticket was NOT the winner however (I got a free one as a promotion).

We started the morning with my now famous breakfast pizza and I used some special china with leafed-gold wheat fronds decorating it. My first neighbor here gave me this special set of china when she was moving out to be closer to her grandchildern in So. Cal. She said she noticed I have a lot of events, and thought I could use them. At that time I was the Group Leader for RESULTS Marin, lobbying for the elimination of hunger worst aspects of poverty, and I had frequent partner planning sessions for press conferences, lobbying and letter writing campaigns. The words seemed to flow better with some warm drinks and hot raspberry turnovers or the like served on the gift of this nice set after that. The china has matching teacups which sit in a little circle on the side of the plate. This morning my Dad commented on how nice it was to keep having morning surprises like this. We had a good Breakfast Tea (Republic of Tea) along with the pizza.

After enjoying the Cornerstone Festival of Gardens, I picked up a birthday cake at a delightful little bakery in Sonoma, Scandia Bakery. An 'Entirely Chocolate' cake with a Happy Birthday Charles written in yellow and and 8 and 5 candle spots for when we were ready to light.

We took the cake to Rin's Thai where Linda, Yalda, Olivia and I celebrated Dad's 85th kick-off week! Erika is coming up next weekend to celebrate, so truly there will be fun bookends for Dad. OH! and Dad reported, with a sparkle in his eye, that one of his favorite lady friends gave him a KISS while he was home picking up his mail! Now what's to beat that??!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hibiscus. I fell in love again with the deep ruby red color and fresh taste of Imperial Tea Court's Iced Red Hibiscus tea. I opened the bag of fresh loose-leaf tea this morning to attempt to make it myself for the first time. Looked beautiful brewing in my clear glass teapot, and I found it has some health benefits as well! I've enjoyed Ten-Ren's bagged version before, but the loose-leaf version is definitely better.

From BBC News: "An extract from the hibiscus flower could have the same heart health benefits as red wine and tea, researchers suggest. A team from the Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan says the flower contains antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels.

Hibiscus sabdariffa L , which is grown in China, India and Taiwan is used as a traditional remedy to treat high blood pressure and liver disorders. The researchers found it contains antioxidants that are known to reduce the dangerous build up of fats inside the arteries."

S&B Golden Curry. Today I stayed in and watched Dad who seemed to be feeling the effects of last week's treatment. He felt well enough to get up in the late afternoon and wanted to do something, and certainly I was ready by then too! We went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, what a darling movie.

After the movie I was inspired to make some mild Japanese curry, using the old standard S&B Golden Curry sauce kit. I used sirloin tips, carrots, Dutch yellow potatoes, and panoche sweet onions for the contents.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mama's on Washington Square. I'm discovering the delights of morning. I've always considered myself a night person. It's so hard to close your eyes when there are so many visual temptations right there when you are wide awake. In the morning however, you must rise through those dreams fading and beckoning you to stay there chasing their wispy tails. That dreamworld where there are no limits, and you don't remember that you don't remember. What delight is there to opening your eyes like wooden blinds suddenly, with a little audible 'clap'? Something compelling must be right there, or so drawing that you take that vision with you into the dream world and chase it out into the morning light.

Well, I'm finding the counterbalance to the moonlight that I love to see casting a bright path across the waves in front of my house. While waiting for Dad to do that 'one more thing' before chasing out the door, I've noticed again how in the very early morning, while the pink still remains on sky, that hundreds of fishes make concentric circles form while feeding, all across the water. It's beautiful.

In the morning, there is free parking! And spaces to be found in the most difficult neighborhoods! And those fabulous breakfast places are accessible without waiting for 45 minutes.

This morning, we ventured into Mama's on Washington Square in North Beach. It doesn't open until 8 a.m., and there was a line forming around the building outside, even on a weekday. But we were early enough to get in the second order group. Mama's has crowd control under control so that the diners can enjoy the experience of eating without being crowded by those waiting in line. The control person makes sure the line stays to a certain point in the counter before letting more people in. You order at the counter, and CASH only! Interestingly, they don't give you a number, but the waitstaff has no problem finding you wherever you choose to sit. Hmmmm... Dad ordered the Washington Square omelet, a fluffy one filled with Italian sausage, tomatoes, ham and hot pepper jack cheese. I tried one of their famous specialties, Apple Pan Dore. Thin (1/4" thick) slices of French baguette sliced lengthwise, coated with egg, fried and covered in sauteed yet crispy fresh apples and a light lemon butter sauce. Fantastic!

STAY AWAY FROM CROCK-POT CLASSICS. Yuck. I thought I'd be clever and start dinner the easy way in a crockpot in the morning, using this new product. We tried the chicken and dumplings. Soupy, mushy and terrible. This 'new' product could not possibly stay on the market long.

With just a little more planning I'm sure I could make my mother's homestyle chicken and dumplings in the crockpot. Cook some fresh organic chicken in a nice sauce on low all day then add fresh veggies for 15 minutes, then add freshly made dumplings to the top and continue cooking another 15-20 minutes on high. Mom's dumplings were just her famous southern biscuit recipe made a little more stiff and without sugar (the tiny bit of sugar is for browning, and dumplings don't need to brown).

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Shin. So lucky that a friend shuttled my father and watched out for him today while I took care of car maintenance and work. Enjoyed dinner at Shin's in Larkspur, a small Japanese restaurant in a strip mall. They need to work a bit on presentation, but the food was good. Can't find any photos on the web...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Left over Ella's for breakfast today at home. Dad wasn't feeling so well, so I stayed in with him all day. We saw a great Netflix, The Thomas Crowne Affair. The glider scene has me yearning for some piloting time...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ella's. Well Monday was an all-day chemo day, with no exciting culinary adventures, but Tuesday we discovered a new breakfast spot - Ella's - on the corner of Presidio and California. Ella's subtitle is "Neo Classical American Cooking", and it was really a delight. Dad had a short stack, which consisted of 2, 1/2" thick, luncheon plate diameter buttermilk pancakes. I was pursuaded to try the chicken hash, which was excellent, and I took half home in a bag because of the too-generous portions. The service was friendly and attentive and atmosphere quite pleasant.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday in Mill Valley. Today was a stay at home and catch up on housework/paperwork kind of day... I made a lunch of a lovely fresh organic stacked vegetable dish with all the veggies from Oak Hill Farm I bought yesterday, and for dinner I grilled wild salmon on the deck, with grilled baby artichokes and kinpira gobo (written about at length in an earlier post). Dad seems to want to help so much, and so I have been looking for things he can help with. He was so delighted to even shred a pile of papers for me, said he needs to be able to contribute something in order to feel better about himself. I have to get over the feeling of it being terrible to ask my elderly and convalescing father to do anything, as it seems to be a positive outlet for him. Tomorrow starts week four for Dad and is a long chemo day, so no exciting breakfast out.

The Fig Cafe. I visited Linda yesterday afternoon, while my Dad caught up with his friends at the Wine Country House where he has been living until recently. We caught up and went to Oak Hill Farm to the Red Barn, where we discussed organic edibles. I knew that strawberries were the worst at holding pesticide residues in the fruit family, but it was news to me that celery holds the same dubious reputation in the veggie family. I bought some beautiful yellow and green summer squash and leeks. After a leisurely talk and dreamweaving about tea rooms and salons, we went to the Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen for dinner. We sat in the booth just under the painting of cherries spilling out above. We had a lovely thin-crust pizza and ho-hum desserts. I liked my arugula and fig salad, but Linda wasn't crazy about her chopped variety.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A lemony favorite summer recipe.

Lemon Pepper Linguine with Artichoke Hearts


1 14-ounce (400g) can artichoke hearts
1/2 cup (340g) black olives, sliced
2 Tbsp (30mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30mL) lemon juice
2 cloves garlic minced
1/8 tsp (0.25g) crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (455g) lemon pepper linguine


Drain artichoke hearts, reserving juice. Coarsely chop artichokes and combine with 2 Tbsp (30mL) reserved juice, olives, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Cook linguine according to package directions. Toss pasta with artichoke mixture. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Oakside Cafe. After a false start to "Le Metro" in the Castro, which included dizzying circling for parking to discover the 'breakfast' place closed we settled at the Oakside, very much a neighborhood place, a place not found by searching the Chron food section. It's a place so grown into its surroundings, it can easily be passed and only found when looking back over your shoulder. It's the kind of place you cannot find a photo of on the Internet, and I don't know if I have the energy to circle around and around for parking to snap one and edit this post later... It is a home madeover -- tucked in the back corner is a counter with big blackboard overhead stating the offerings.

There are bread goods/pastries/cookies organized in cute baskets on one counter, and an entire display case is devoted to pirozhki. They have a big basket of bagels in the middle and a large section of the blackboard is devoted to the various toppings, so that's what we chose to have with soya (yeah!) latte and hot chocolate - Dad's fav. The drinks come in large glass cups with 'Altoid' advertisement sleeves to protect hands from the heat. Now that's unique advertising - give cup sleeves to independent coffee houses. Each Altoid sleeve came with a small sample packet of Altoid mini's attached.

The interior had walls and ceilings painted bright colors, blue intersecting with purple and bright yellow mottled down the side of the staircase and into the lower floor. Now you know why the different colors in today's post. We were quite early, perhaps the second customers of the day. As we sipped our drinks at a brightly colored round tables, I observed the other decor, and patrons. The furniture looked like it escaped my Mom's living room in the 60's. Captain's chairs (yes Mom was right, they are comfortable), funny little side tables, rectangular with a second level on a third of it and carved ball like legs. Hanging high from the ceiling were four completely mismatched lights/chandalier's including a stained glass "coke" one. A couple sat next to us, the gentleman with a long gray beard, flashing brown eyes and a black beret worthy of a Parisian. One of the men standing in line looked like he might be a linebacker escaped -- after visiting a tattoo parlor. Someone came in with a grandfatherly looking gentleman, and a woman with a young child came in to get some takeout bagels.

Now we're out of that character-filled place, and I discovered it was just kitty-cornered from a DMV, and yes, my Dad lost his wallet yesterday with credit cards & ID which kept me hopping. So we spent a good chunk of the rest of our time sitting in line watching for his number to pop up. It will be 4-6 weeks for his new ID to come.

Believe it or not I managed to get the hospital thing done, all the above afterwards, then bring Dad home, start a load of laundry and fix Dad a nutritious lunch and cover it with plastic wrap in the refrigerator with written heating instructions taped on top and a DO NOT FORGET TO EAT label on some specially prepared fruit AND I still managed to get to work by 10:30 a.m. I'm definitely getting better :-).

Tonight I made dinner at home, it was an abalone mushroom and french white mushroom with crab sauce over spaghetti al dente accompanied by steamed broccoli spears. I have to admit, the sauce came out of cans mixed together. However, the unique mushroom pasta sauce was a prepared sauce I found by carefully examining interesting canned goods in my local Japanese supermarket. It was a nice light sauce, wine, herbs and olive oil with the above-mentioned interesting mushrooms. I just added a can of crabmeat and it was quite fine.

The other night I made my Mom's famed eggplant dish -- think eggplant parmeasan lightened and with some killer fresh extras! Dad was really happy since it's been a few years since I attempted it. It keeps well afterwards, and although I halved the recipe we had plenty of leftovers. I even shocked my friends at the office by bringing some in for lunch to reheat in the microwave.

I have noticed that breakfast reviews and information is sadly lacking in the bay area, and even some of it is misleading. Searching for 'breakfast' can list those only serving brunch on weekends in the mix. Also I found it quite interesting that some that are open everyday start breakfast at 9:00 a.m. and what do their patrons do for a living?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Home Plate. Back in the Marina, at the corner of Pierce & Lombard is "Home Plate". A very homey, even run down place, it had favorable reviews, and the breakfast was good. The decor was awful, it needed a paint job, and the walls were decorated with faded photos of baseball players/scenes. Dad enjoyed the banana-walnut pancakes, while I ventured into one of the specialties Savory Fresh Corn Cakes with bell peppers and salsa (and chili powder). It was a nice find, and the hot raisin scones they serve with fresh strawberry jam nearly when you sit down were very good as well. The waitstaff were also quite friendly. And they apologized profusely for charging $153.55 on the credit card rather than $15.35 on the first try....

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Grove. This morning our breakfast adventures took us into the San Francisco Marina District. As I was driving down Chestnut, I spied a man lifting a very large white cup to his lips through a large window. Ah ha! A place open for breakfast. At 7:45 a.m. there is plenty of parking in the Marina, quite the difference from any later day parking experience. The Grove is a unique neighborhood cafe, with rough hewn wood furniture and eclectic old pieces with a woodsy feel decorating it. It it is well worn, first noticed by the threadbare cushions lining the bench in front of the window. One of the more remarkable pieces is a mirror that is framed in birch bark attached with copper brass tacks, and rimmed with rounded wood as though branches were just halved and used as is. It definitely had a masculine feel to it, and guess what? Other than the female bussing the tables, the entire place was filled with men. Now that's quite interesting considering the demographic of the Marina, reputed to have the highest concentration of single professional women in the city. (And by my evening observation, the highest ownership of high strung well dressed and groomed dogs.) Do all the women cook breakfast at home? Are these men all from the Marina, or did they gather there hoping to meet one of out of the throng of single women residing there? The man behind the counder was very friendly and asked me questions as I was ordering the Country Eggs (eggs - poached I think as they were just too perfectly round to be cracked naturally over the croissant - on top of croissant which is on top of a thin slice of Niman Ranch ham, topped with white cheddar and bits of green, broiled or toasted). He was trying to determine if I was a local or visiting... he brightened up when I said I was more local than not, but usually enjoyed dinner rather than breakfast in the Marina. Dad found a place on the wooden bench in front of the window with the cushions, and I sat opposite bringing him his steaming hot chocolate and my mocha. He chose to sit next the the two men eating in animated conversation, all suited up for the day. I couldn't help but overhear bits of their conversation and found it quite amazing how they kept swinging wildly from the very personal and intimate discussion of various women in their lives, and business pursuits, as in strategic, detailed marketing discussions. I found myself wondering if men have two distinct brains that they can switch back and forth from without any transition? I do know that I'm going to call my friend living in the Marina who is always wondering where to meet men... I'll have to tell her to just walk a couple blocks to The Grove between 7-8 a.m. and there's no doubt she'll be quite popular!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

This was rather a long day... getting up at 5:00 a.m., shepherding Dad through the multi-appointment/treatment day at UCSF. I was so fatigued and headachy I crashed upon getting home and slept for two hours until a friend called. And I thought it was the patient who was supposed to experience the fatigue -- Dad wanted to see a movie after a full day at the hospital. I'm afraid I didn't fulfill that wish for him today. But we did see "War of the Worlds" yesterday as a matinee, and we both enjoyed it. I'm afraid we didn't try out any new breakfast places either, we enjoyed a quick bite between appointments at the UCSF cafeteria about 7:30 a.m. Now I must say it gets thumbs up for hospital food. Short post, but time for some zzzzs for me. 5 a.m. continues to be early to rise.

Monday, July 04, 2005

4th of July!
And we're ready for it! Starting out this morning by making breakfast pizza -- fresh garlic & herb pizza crust covered with turkey ham, egg beaters and fontina cheese for a lighter version.

The weather is really beautiful! The forecasters were calling for 50-50 fog conditions tonight which could affect the fireworks, but I think we're going to be fine.

Noticing that my blog shows my life to have changed from exciting flying, sailing, world-view type adventures to more domesticity. I can be counted on to clip my wings for my family when necessary. And it has its own joys. I love to cook, but hate cooking just for myself. Since Dad's moved in it's been a 180-degree turn around so that I'm cooking home most of the time, despite our enjoyable forays out. Forensic evidence can be noticed just by observing the amount of dishwasher detergent that is being used. I was shocked to find that in about 2 weeks of Dad's moving in, I had used more dishwasher detergent than I had in the past 1 year! Ditto the dishwashing liquid.

11:08 p.m.

Miss Olivia, ever the hit of the party trying on the tiara I gave her.

Wow. What a wonderful party we had in Sausalito. Everything was perfect. The Chamber of Commerce contact greeted us and had two of the best tables available for us, in the shade, but yet dead center to the fireworks display and angled to have a decent view of the band. The band was great, and people were dancing and it was fun to see all the other inventive table decorations and feasts. Some were very fancy with real china and goblets - candles even. I would say ours was the most themed. I had a bright red table cloth and two centerpieces of red, blue & silver stars shooting out of three tiers. Everyone thought our party poppers were quite cool (I bought a box of 72!) -- a loud crack! and then streamers of curly ribbon flew out. The bubble gun also was a hit with bubbles floating over the crowd. We had lots of wonderful wine, and we all brought just the right combination of appetizers, fruit and chocolately things for a leisurely noshing. The temperature and weather held out just right. Neither too hot or cold, and the fireworks were lovely! After ours we're done, we could actually see San Francisco's and Oakland's starting -- lovely! This was a holiday to remember!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Arrowhead Mills. Tried their brownies using rice flour for wheat. I used avocado oil that I had refrigerated and poured off just remaining liquid part as the oil, and they turned out moist and flavorful. I put a little cut out heart in the middle of two for lunch, and sprinkled powdered sugar over each and brought out as a special surprise for my Dad.

La Maison de la Reine. This Vietnamese restaurant in the Corte Madera Town Center has very good food, the chicken rice noodle soup is made with their own freshly made chicken stock which is excellent. The vermicelli bowls are a lunch time favorite. Linda and I met for lunch there prior to a shopping session yesterday-- Linda felt in the mood to shop and wanted some shoes. As usual, I ended up with some new shoes, and Linda did not find her pair.

Coleman Purely Natural. Had a little BBQ with Dad and friend Daniel last night. We tried a new product - Chicken, Spinach & Feta sausage on the grill. It tasted great, although the heated feta seemed to spurt wildly when the sausage was cut into. I also tried Nate's mushroom polenta. Although Dad & Daniel found it fine, I was disappointed that the product would not cook as directed and I had to make it in 'mush' style rather than in crispy rounds. All I can find out about Nate's Polenta is that is was aquired by Monterey Pasta Co. in 2000. Molly Stone's, a great local market was the source of the dinner ingredients, including fresh asparagus that I also grilled, and a cherry struedel that received raves.

Non-food items! Believe it or not, my favorte household chore (now do note that I don't consider cooking a chore) is clothes washing! A couple of my favorite products are:

Shout® Color Catcher™: Using these sheets really does prevent a lot of color seepage into other clothes and the clothes are brighter! I buy them by the case!

Linen water: There are any number of good brands or off brands that work well. I have found Ross or Marshall's to have a lot of inexpensive ones. You can probably make these yourself with a little essential oil dispersed in water. One of my brand favorites is L'Occitane's Verbena linen water. The clothes come out of the washer with a fresher more unique scent than many of the commercial laundry products leave. I use non-scented detergent, then scent with my favorites.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


It's been so foggy, it's made me think of old scary ghost stories. Here's a local ghost tale from Discovery Travel Advenures.

An Affair of Honor

After her husband died and left her a good-sized fortune, Dominga de Goni Atherton left suburban San Francisco and moved into the city proper. She built the Atherton Mansion at Octavia and California streets in the exclusive Pacific Heights district in 1881. Dominga lived there with her son George, an aimless bumbler, and his wife Gertrude. George was somewhat of an embarrassment to the socially prominent Athertons, and the two strong-willed women with whom he lived constantly called his manhood into question. That is probably why, in 1887, he accepted an invitation to sail to Chile. Ostensibly he was going to visit friends, but in actuality he sought to prove his mettle and earn a place of honor in his family.

The trip proved to be his undoing. George Atherton developed kidney problems during the voyage and died. The ship's captain preserved George's remains by storing the body in a barrel of rum, which was shipped back to the Atherton household several weeks later.

George was duly dried out and buried, but shortly thereafter, his spirit apparently decided to avenge itself on the women who'd tormented him in life. Dominga and Gertrude reported being awakened at night by knocks at their bedroom doors and by a cold and disturbing presence. The phenomenon grew so troublesome that Dominga sold the mansion and moved out. Subsequent tenants also have been unsettled by phantom knockings and roaming cold spots. A séance conducted by a local psychic identified several spirits active in the house, including those of George and Dominga.

Where: 1900 California Street, San Francisco
Tours: San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tours; (415) 922-5590;

Friday, July 01, 2005

Rose's Cafe. Having found a San Francisco favorite breakfast place (Cheer's Cafe on Clement) now vacant, I had to find a substitute adventure for breakfast with Dad.

Standing spritely on the corner of Union & Steiner in Cow Hollow is Rose's Cafe, and it's bright welcoming awnings and open door looked promising. The prices are a little upscale for a neighborhood restaurant, but the menu and surroundings were comparable. There were some inventive items to choose from, and we decided to try the breakfast pizza. What a delight. Fontina cheese, thinly sliced ham and two eggs with bright cheery yolks came atop a thin crispy wood-oven fired pizza crust. The cafe mocha and hot chocolate were served in white porcelain bowls reminding me of breakfast in Paris.