Thursday, November 30, 2006

View lunch. Yesterday's lunch was at Gaylord India Restaurant, located in south Sausalito. Yes, the above photo is the very view I had from my table, however, to avoid the glass, I took it outside after my meal. As with the front of the building below.

I was greeted immediately, made to feel welcome, and was seated at the window, as you can see from my initial photo a gorgeous view!

I ordered the Tandoori Combination (roasted Lamb and Chicken), served with salad, basmati rice, papadum and onion kulcha bread. The salad was quite fresh, and the papadum crisp and peppery.

The main dish followed promptly and the chicken was tender and succulent, the lamb had just enough spice to be interesting. Prompt and friendly service, good food and fabulous view make for a very returnable place!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hidden behind a tire sign. Le Croissant is a great little breakfast place, hidden right behind a green tire sign, on a street where most people are rushing by and not noticing surroundings. I had to loop around and take this photo from the other side of the street to avoid the green tire company sign. I've missed seeing this place countless times, but based on a recommendation, I found it to try and add to my breakfast in Marin list. It's a small, homey place that only takes cash or debit cards, but the wait staff is friendly, and the service good.

I had to order the croissant sandwich after the name of this place.. and it was very customized. You choose how you'd like your eggs cooked, the type of cheese, and the type of meat. I had scrambled, Jack, and bacon. I 'upgraded' from potatoes to a fresh fruit cup which stated that the fruit was cut to order. And it tasted that way too, very fresh, sweet and crisp for items that should be crisp, and unadorned by sugar or other topping, just the way I like it. Very recommendable based on this one visit. And Le Croissant serves lunch and dinner too.

And by the way, I walked by Casa Manana this morning, and found that they serve breakfast 9 a.m. every day. I'm afraid that it doesn't meet my criteria of weekday breakfasts -- who eats breakfast (regularly) from 9 a.m. on a weekday? Most people are already arrived somewhere, working at that time...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Next up. Rafters. Great service and food exceptionally so-so. Dad and I stopped for dinner at Rafters on the way to take him home after a full day of appointments. I'd been here before and had a reasonably decent dinner, and remembered it as bright and cheerful. As an 86-year old, sometimes it's hard for him to read the menu in dimly lit restaurants so I thought he would enjoy this a little more. The host and waiter greeted us quickly and sat us away from all the noise at the bar. The bar area was completely full, but there were few diners in the large dining area. Not too surprising considering it's a brewery.

We split a Caesar salad to begin, which was generously sized although only half. The romaine was crisp and fresh, but alas, the dressing was decidedly the most bland I've ever tasted.

I ordered the Linguine with fresh Littleneck Clams in white wine sauce. The linguine was a tad past al dente, and the sauce was heavily dosed with black pepper. In addition to the fresh clams, which were tender and delicious underneath it all, the chef added a large amount of chopped clams, which I suspect were canned; he may have wanted to intensify the delicate clam flavor by adding more clam meat. It usually doesn't work, and this time was no exception. The canned diced clams are rather tough and I'd rather have the delicate taste of the fresh even though very light.

Dad's reaction to the meal started with the definitely lukewarm coffee he was served. He felt the fish on his Fish & Chips platter were a little on the greasy side, I suspect the frying oil wasn't hot enough. I've had better meals here, I hope this meal does not become the norm there. Friendly service can only make up for so much.

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's Onion Day! Today is the Bern Onion Market held every 4th Monday of November in Bern, Switzerland. More than 50 tonnes of onions will be brought into market today, many woven into artistic plaits. This market and folk fair is a popular tourist destination, and many different foods featuring onions are served at the market today. Zorra at Kochtof is hosting the posting round-up.

Since I'm an onion fan I just had to participate. Onions are not only tasty, but healthy. Since the World's Healthiest Foods does such a good job of describing the benefits, I suggest a look at their writing on onions. I was especially impressed with onions' contribution to bone health, who would have guessed?

For this event I've cooked Three Onion Saute. The onions are paired with cool weather fall vegetables. This could easily be made vegan by using tempeh strips instead of the turkey bacon. You could also use regular bacon, but you'll want to fry it separately and pour off some of the fat (or not!) before adding. The recipe is below in words and photos. Oh, and it makes quite a bit so invite your friends over for a healthy feast! Enjoy!

Three Onion Saute

1 red onion
1 yellow onion
2 cipolline onions
3 parsnips
2 large stalks broccoli (about 3 cups florets)
12 oz low-fat turkey bacon (1 package)
3 T olive oil

1. Gather your vegetables. Arranging for photo-op on deck optional. If you DO arrange your vegetables precariously on your deck railing - beware - the parsnips slide off easily. This recipe would have had 4 parsnips had one not fallen off into the neighbor's bushes, jostled by the cipolline onion. Actually, 4 parsnips would probably balance the recipe better, so feel free. But I only had 3 to use since the bush was rather bushy and I didn't fancy crawling around and through it to retrieve the missing parsnip. Who knows, maybe next fall I'll have all the parsnip volunteers I can use? (I shudder to think of my neighbor's reaction however, tromping in front of her deck to harvest them).

2. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Peel and slice onions in ring quarters. Cut broccoli into flowerettes. Peel and slice parsnips in rounds. Slice turkey bacon in smallish pieces.

3. Pour 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan, add onions and saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Keep sauteing until onions are moist and limp.

4. Add the turkey bacon and continue to saute. The longer the onions saute, the sweeter and more concentrated their flavors get.

5. Next add the parsnips. Continue sauteing until the parsnips are nearly tender.

6. Finally, add the broccoli and saute until the broccoli reaches your desired level of doneness. I like mine with a little crispness left in, but still cooked. The turkey ham added enough salt, so I didn't add any. However, you'll want to test and salt & pepper to your taste. I didn't add any other flavorings as I wanted the sweetness of the onion to come through without adornment.

For those of you thinking of eating local, the red and yellow onions were organic and from Bakersfield, CA; the organic cippolline onions were from Hollister, CA; the organic broccoli and parsnips were from Salinas, CA. The olive oil was also from Oroville, California, but alas, the turkey bacon was not identified as to origin, but likely somewhere in the mid-west where Kraft has its headquarters (said somewhere in IL). If one were trying to eat within 100 miles, well the only place on that list within 100 miles of my house is Salinas.

Your final dish will look somewhat like the first photo, but more volume as I only spooned a bit onto the serving dish. This recipe makes a copious amount.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brunch Encounter. Ever wonder what meals are like in a commune or intentional community? I was fortunate enough to be invited by a couple friends to the Oakland Morehouse for brunch on Saturday to experience their hospitality myself. Who could resist a meal in a big purple house? And never having been inside such a community, I was curious as to what it would be like.

First, the kitchen is HUGE and brightly and cheerfully colored. There were two large gas stoves and three ovens. Alas, there was no dishwasher other than the community members, but it makes for a gathering place to clean up and socialize as dishes are washed, dried and put away. But I get ahead of myself. When I arrived the cooking was in full swing, with a huge pot of potatoes pre-boiled and ready for chopping into pieces for two huge iron fry pans and a wok to make home fries which would go with the scrambled egg burritos that Julianne and house father David are attending to in the photo above. Two dozen eggs were scrambled for the 13-odd brunchers expected, mostly those who lived there. Hunter also came in and basted two turkeys in the oven which would be part of the meal as well.

Everything was assembled and strategically placed on the long table, and was ready to eat, so a final call was made upstairs and down so everyone could gather and enjoy the feast. What happened after that occurred more like a bed and breakfast setting rather than a family sit down. People meandered down on their own schedule and rotated through the table, some becoming more engaged in group discussion than others. Apparently, the same as with nuclear families, the modern pace has taken its toll on eating together regularly. People pretty much come and make their own food and eat alone or in small groups from the communal supplies, and they may supplement them with things they also buy and label as their own. But today was an occasion when all came together, more or less. It was a friendly, convivial place and a nice occasion to enjoy. And the scrambled egg burritos were fabulous.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Beyond Organic. I've been following the local sustainable movement for awhile, and although I haven't pledged to eat within 100 miles of my home, I still make an effort to buy local when I can. If you don't go to your local Farmer's Market on a weekly basis, or subscribe to a farm participating as part of CSA , it's a bit difficult to stay within that 100 mile radius. Finding things mostly from California though, is not all that difficult. You can see my 100 mile radius above.

However blowing it up a bit, thinking things from Salinas were in may not be the case, as the line ends just south of the urban area, and I think a lot of the farms are south of the town. And naturally Bakersfield is completely out, as is Fresno. The urban area to Citrus Heights is in for Sacramento, and luckily, Stockton is in my circle. I think trying the strict 100-mile radius is an interesting experiment, but wonder how practical it is for people outside of areas like California where there is a long growing season and abundant variety. Even in ancient times, people traded foodstuffs, they just used more ecological means of getting the goods around, such as by sailboat, or waterways, even digging canals.

The items below are foods which California is the #1 producer of in the US. California's percentage of the total U.S. crop are shown after the item.

Olives - 100%
Almonds - 99%
Walnuts - 99%
Figs - 98%
Kiwis - 97%
Pistachios - 96%
Apricots - 95%
Celery - 94%
Tomatoes - 94%
Broccoli - 93%
Plums - 93%
Nectarines - 93%
Strawberries 90%
Carrots - 89%
Lemons - 89%
Grapes - 88%
Garlic - 86%
Avocados - 84%
Dates - 82%
Lettuce - 78%
Peaches - 76%
Honeydew - 73%
Asparagus - 55%
Cantaloupe - 54%
Bell Peppers - 47%
Onions - 27%
Cabbage - 22%
Milk & Cream - 21%
Artichokes - 19%
Honey - 18%

If we followed the 100 mile rule across the US - well, at this moment, no one outside a circle very near California would enjoy Olives or Olive oil. I get most of mine in my local circle, from The Olive Press, where local olives are pressed on site. Since it's not available in stores, if I had to make a special trip for it (I pick it up on the way to visit my father in Sonoma), I think the gas I burn would make it a bad ecological proposition. Following the 100 mile plan would necessarily force a diversification of foods where diversification would be possible, but there is a large section of the country where the soil or climatic conditions aren't conducive to this. And the growing season may be short. The fine art of canning would need to be revived, or more regional canners spring up again. Our taste for fresh would have to change, and the health benefits we reap from having more fresh food would also be lost in some areas where year-round produce isn't possible. I'm all for reducing food miles, and using resources more efficiently, and I love local and seasonal, but I think there's a long way to go to make this practical for the masses across the country, and that's where it will have to reach in order to make the most ecological impact.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging time! Knowing Thanksgiving week would be a busy one for me, I cooked this dish earlier in the week for this enjoyable blogging event. This week Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything Once, is hosting from her place in Melbourne, Australia.

The World's Healthiest Foods has a great write up of the health benefits of chard. Chard is always in season in the San Francisco Bay area according to the Bay area seasonal vegetable availability chart available at the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) website, along with other good information about sustainable foods.

Chard Skillet Saute

1 large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 T olive oil
6 cups chard, chopped and stalks separated
8 oz (1 box) Seitan (White Wave Stir Fried Strips, marinated in seasoned soy sauce)
5 cooked strips of bacon, patted dry of oil, sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup Yoshida's Original Sweet Teriyaki Sauce

Slice the onion in quarters and cut horizontally into split-ring sections. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is glossy and soft, then add the chard stalks. Continue sauteing, cooking down and reducing the volume. Be sure the chard stalks are soft, then add the Seitan, chopped in chunks (it comes in strips). Continue sauteing and add the bacon and pine nuts. Add the chard leaves, mine were piled HIGH above my pan, and had me worried.. but they SHRINK incredibly. Before the leaves are completely shrunk, add the Yoshida's Original Sweet Teriyaki Sauce. Serves 6ish.

Vegans could substitute Lightlife's Smokey Fakin' Bacon Tempeh strips for the bacon in the recipe.

The finished product, served in a skillet!

Chard is known for being bitter, but this rendition has a nice sweetness to it and pairs well with either rice, cous cous, or other steamed grain (polenta may be good too).

Thanksgiving Report. Thanksgiving yesterday was quite a magical event. My father and I joined Linda, Yalda and little Miss Olivia as well as Joan and Greg at the Silverado Resort for their buffet Thanksgiving feast. I brought a Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay, 1999 and a Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, 2004, and we enjoyed the house champagne for our Thanksgiving toast. It was so dim that the photos that others took of the group of us inside were rather blurry, but I got a good snap of Yalda opening the crayons for Olivia who were sitting across from me.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Ward Street Cafe.
Yesterday morning Paul came over for a visit, and was hungry for breakfast. I told him that there was a highly recommended spot in Larkspur that we should try. I double checked the website for Ward Street Cafe, and confirmed it opens at 8 a.m. and invites you up front to come in for "a cafe and a croissant in the morning". Larkspur is a very charming town, so Paul thought it a fabulous idea. The most recent review of it in newsprint was March 2006, and it hailed it as "...the best new restaurant in Marin since Maria Manso debuted in 2004". Encouragement indeed.

Our first surprise when we arrived was that they only serve breakfast -- 'brunch' -- on weekends. Oops. Paul was good natured about the unexpected news and we sat for an early lunch.

Paul ordered the chopped beef sandwich on focaccia and said it was excellent. The presentation was beautiful too.

I ordered the prosciutto salad, the menu stating that it had 'grilled peaches', goat cheese, candied nuts, and was dressed with honey champagne vinaigrette. This salad was absolutely delicious! However, it was different than the menu described. First, note the fruit - yep, not a peach but a grilled pear. Next, I don't think it was dressed with honey champagne vinaigrette. It had the color and taste of a rich, expensive balsamic. You can see the red drops to the right of the photo clinging to some fresh green leaves. I asked the waiter about the peach switch and he apologized for forgetting to note that it was made with pears since peaches are now out of season.

The exterior looks a little sad, but the interior of this cafe is warm and in full harvest attire. It is like a different place when you step inside the door. For such a highly rated restaurant, there were a lot of missteps, but the friendliness, decor and most of all the great food have won me over. Will be back again, and hopefully they will have polished up their website and those slightly off kilter details.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hidden breakfast spot. The Shoreline Coffee Shop, tucked away nearly hidden behind Video Droid in Mill Valley is a colorful local place for breakfast. It has a very worn look, but retains brightly colored benches and artwork inside. A little kitschsy, but warm greetings and attentive staff inside. Since I'd never been to a coffee shop that advertised itself as Mexican-American, it seemed a good idea to order one of the south-of-the-border breakfast offerings. Huevos a la Mexicana looked interesting. That order included a colorful basket of corn tortillas, jalapeno and onion pickles, fresh Serrano chilies, and a homemade hot sauce, which I was warned is truly hot (yes, it was!). My eggs, honestly, could have been a bit better -- maybe that I ordered them well-done affected the outcome of the dish. The eggs were separated into little balls in between the other scramble ingredients, and there was definite oil slick on the plate afterwards. However, the other plates I saw heading past my table looked like they were cooked without excess oil.

This place absolutely isn't fancy, but it seemed to have quite a local following, and I'll go back sometime to confirm that the American breakfasts are as good as they looked.

Italian dining with cinema goes, but dining stays. I visited Cinecitta Italian Restaurant in San Rafael with my father this week for dinner, thinking he might enjoy the lively Italian movies they used to play (sans sound) in the dining room. Alas, the screen is down, and Italian movies play only in the bar area these days. The restaurant is rather plain, but well-kept, and although my last experience was mediocre (two years ago), Dad and I both enjoyed our dinners this time. Maybe because we kept it simple.

We both started with Caesar salads. Could taste the anchovies, well blended with the dressing. Points for authenticity!

Dad enjoyed the roasted chicken with steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes.

While I enjoyed a "pasta triangle" dish with fresh folded pasta on top of fresh chopped sauteed tomatoes, covered with liquid goat cheese, pesto and pine nuts. A sprinkle of Parmesan was also on the top. It was simple and good. I understand that the dish hails from the owner's native Tuscany.

One of the breakfast places on my list to try, the Flying Pig Diner, seems to already have closed. I went by there and not only was there no sign of life, but the sign adorning the top of the restaurant had been changed back to "The Golden Nugget", which was the place that was there two iterations back. Since the Flying Pig was owned by the same people as the Dipsea, I won't worry that I missed anything in the way of breakfast that can't be made up closer to home.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Phatburgers. It's hard to coax a request out of my father, but yesterday, he requested a hamburger for lunch. Magically, a parking space appeared close to Pearl's Phatburgers, so we tried it. The burgers had 8 oz of beef and fresh crispy lettuce as well as a generous slice of tomato, and on my Dad's onions as well. We should have shared an order of French Fries between us as the oval red basket was quite full and definitely enough for two. There was friendly, fast service in a bustling environment. I'm not a connoisseur of hamburgers, but Yummy Chow's "Burger Holy Grail" listing has Pearl's Phatburgers as #5 in the SF Bay area.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Friendly place in Sausalito. Dad and I went to the Bayside Cafe for breakfast yesterday, our first visit, and found it really cheerful and friendly. It is close to the houseboats and docks, so they've also put signage in the back, to be seen from the water side.

The food was generously portioned and delicious too. Dad had the ham and cheese omelet with hash browns. There were bits of grilled fresh green peppers in the hash browns; Dad appreciated the extra antioxidant zip.

As for me, with a name like "Bringin' home the bacon" scramble, who could resist? Especially when the chef placed a perfectly ripened avocado slices over the top. There were also mushrooms inside. The home fries, were more like 'home steams', as they were moist red potatoes without the crispness. They were not oily either, so I actually appreciated that they were lower in calories that the typical home fries.

I also noted that they are quite health conscious, offering wheat juice from their juice bar as well. I ordered a Soy Cafe Latte, appreciating that a soy option was available. Bayside Cafe is right on my way to and from my current workplaces, so I'll have to check it out for lunch sometime as well.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Marin Breakfasts. The photo above was taken this morning in north Sausalito. It was a little misty and cool, and seemed to represent to me mornings here in Marin County and nice walks around Richardson Bay after a warm breakfast.

I became interested in finding breakfast places a couple years ago when it was the one joy I could bring my father during the course of his cancer treatments. He loves new things, and it was a little treat to find somewhere new each day after he finished with the hospital.

After going through the usual, I had a hard time finding where breakfasts were served in Marin. I've continued to look, and not found a good source for lists of breakfast places in Marin County, so I thought I'd share my list, which is not all-inclusive (yet), but has enough places so that you won't go hungry! Breakfast is a very important meal! For interesting information on breakfasts around the world, Wikipedia has a great round-up.

There are a couple places I checked where I expected to find a reasonable list of breakfast places for Marin County, but didn't. The first is the Marin IJ's "Bon Appetit", where you can search by town or cuisine, but breakfast isn't an option, and it's a paid advertising service, so the entries are actually rather sparse. I also looked in the San Francisco Chronicle's search in their Food and Dining Section. In the past it would come up with about two choices for all of Marin County, but today, using advanced search, keyword search, etc. it yields no breakfast or even brunch results for Marin County. I thought Yelp would be helpful, but when I run a search for 'breakfast' and 'Mill Valley', you have to scroll to the middle of the second page before the results leave San Francisco and give you an actual Mill Valley or even Marin result.

Also, my definition for a 'breakfast' place is that they open before 9 a.m. on a weekday and have at least one protein choice on the menu (no American-style continental breakfasts count). Those restaurants who choose to open only on weekends or a weekend day for brunch are really not breakfast places in my mind, but I list them separately as they usually do a bit more upscale and interesting things on the weekends and make a nice round out to the week.

I welcome your comments to point me to other places for breakfast in Marin or your experiences with any of these.

Since there seems to be no other breakfast reference for Marin on the web yet, I'm going to add a legend to my side bar and indicate with a * after restaurant links if breakfast is served there, and ** for weekend brunch only places (some brunch only places only serve one of the weekend days, so you should check before showing up).

Places I've been for breakfast

Corte Madera
Corte Madera Cafe

Koffee Klatch


Cafe Z

Mill Valley
Caffe Oggi
Mama's Royal Cafe
Mill Valley Coffee Shop
Rain Tree Cafe

Half Day Cafe

Bayside Cafe
Bridgeway Cafe
Caffe Divino Sidewalk Cafe
Caffe Trieste
Lighthouse Cafe

New Morning Cafe
Sweden House Bakery & Cafe

San Anselmo
Comforts Cafe

San Rafael
Lighthouse Diner

Places yet to go for breakfast

Coast Cafe - Brunch only

Cafe Amsterdam - Brunch only

Left Bank - Brunch only
Tabla Cafe - Brunch only
Ward Street Cafe

Mill Valley
Buckeye Roadhouse - Brunch only
Champagne French Bakery Cafe
Shoreline Coffee Shop
Small Shed Flatbreads - Brunch only
Toast Cafe

Olema Farm House - Brunch only

Pt. Reyes
Station House Cafe (domain expired 11/9/06 but will probably come back to life)

San Rafael
Flying Pig Diner
Seafood Peddler - Brunch only
The Crepevine
Le Croissant
Theresa & Johnny's Comfort Food

Stinson Beach
Parkside Cafe

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Breakfast in Mill Valley. Mill Valley Coffee Shop is a local favorite which has no web presence and is tucked away on a corner not far from Whole Foods. It's always busy when I go, and it's a kid-friendly place. The interior is blue and white, and there are lacy-half curtains on each window - very old fashioned, even a little Belgian looking. The walls have various photos of Mill Valley, historic and more recent, like a surprising one of Mt. Tamalpais covered in snow. I thought it must be an old photo, but the waitress said it was from 2002, one just had to be awake before 11:30 that day. Well, I'm sure I was awake, but I must have been looking at my water view!

Dad enjoyed the plain Swiss cheese omelet, and he enjoyed every last particle, leaving a shining clean plate. That is a recommendation!

I enjoyed "Phil's Special", which was an Eggs Benedict type dish with a base of English muffins topped with ham, sauteed spinach and fresh slices of tomatoes under the poached eggs. Unlike my father, I couldn't finish mine, but then I had a much richer dish. At first, I was taken back by the vinegary taste of the Hollandaise sauce, but then realized that it paired perfectly with the spinach and fresh ripe tomato underneath. The color was more mustardy and less the creamy yellow that I'm used to, but whatever the chef added, it worked in this dish.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Italian with a Middle Eastern flair. I had a very busy day, and Dad didn't leave the house so we decided to go afield for a little gastronomic adventure for dinner this evening. I drove to San Rafael, and recalled that there were a number of interesting restaurants further north on fourth street than I usually venture. When we drove to the north end, I noticed Hanna's and remembered a great meal there from my pre-blogging days and asked Dad if he were in the mood for Italian. He concurred so we stopped in at Hanna's which was already busy at 7 p.m. with Friday night diners. Who I later discovered to be the owner, Mr. Hanna Anki, warmly greeted us and we were seated in the wine bar area as the restaurant was full. It was a bit more bustling than would be a restful meal in that location, however, the plus side was that I had a great view of all the dishes coming out of the kitchen which looked very well executed.

Dad & I both started with the Fatoush Salad, a lightly dressed romaine salad with cucumbers tomatoes, feta cheese (was so smooth I suspect it was French Feta), and crunchy pita triangles. It was a light, crisp and flavorful start to the meal.

I followed that with the intriguing sounding "Pork Loin Scallopini - With ginger orange creame sauce". The pork cut was the loin, thinly cut, but short of what I would consider "scallopini" thickness. It was nicely seared so the juices caramelized on the outside and left the center tender. The saffron rice was a nice accompaniment, and the sauce was not a coat-the-spoon type, but a thinner flavorful cream. The broccoli was cooked crisp-done, and retained its nice green color. You'll notice that this presentation is more of a family-style look rather than the haute cuisine which would likely have the sauce more decoratively placed on the plate.

Dad enjoyed the tender lamb shish-kababs over saffron rice and flat bread. He enjoyed the yogurt-cucumber dipping sauce as well. Hanna's has the lived-in air of a well-loved neighborhood restaurant. Nice garden green entrance, cheerful lights outlining the windows, and candles on every table. It's a place where you are not afraid to come laugh out loud with your friends and enjoy the warmth of Mediterranean hospitality. I'll definitely not wait so long to return this time!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dinner at Home. Between my friend Jeff querying me today about whether I cooked gourmet things for my father, and wanting to participate in this week's (WHB) hosted by Nandita of Saffron Trail, I cooked in tonight. The result is the above dinner, Wild Alaskan Salmon (another Costco freezer case wonder) with steamed fresh organic broccoli and organic celery cous cous with fresh garlic. The celery cous cous is my entry this week in the WHB event, but more about that and the recipe later in the post.

My friend who inspired tonight's dinner, Jeff, lives with his wife Cindy near Mt. Shasta, and he sent me this gorgeous photo of the rainbow that appeared over the vista from his home at 8 o'clock this morning. Jeff & Cindy are quite amazing in that they truly live off the grid and produce most of their food from their land. They use solar and wind power and cook using direct solar light in a solar cooker that Jeff made! When Jeff & Cindy were in the bay area we had a potluck lunch, and among the wonderful home grown things that they brought was some acorn bread, hand prepared and ground from acorns on their property. A unique taste-first for me! I actually had not realized that you could eat acorns, unless you were a squirrel! Talent as well as ecological interest runs in the family, as their son Peter Weiss - The Singing Scientist not only does research in the area of atmospheric mercury transport, but has put his musical talent and smooth voice into "Happy Earth Day", an album using happy sound to convey an ecological message.

So on to the herb blogging, and the marvels of celery. Celery is another of my favorite herbs. Plentiful and a wonderful addition to many dishes, it is also full of health benefits! It is from the Umbelliferae family whose other members include carrots, fennel, parsley and yes my other favorite - dill. The World's Healthiest Foods has a nice write up of the health benefits of this popular herb. I can't tell you how many times growing up I was told that eating celery actually provides ~negative~ calories! I rather doubted that, but in fact, it must be true as Snopes, the trusted rumor and old wives tale buster feels that it is true!

Celery Cous Cous

1 cup chopped celery
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (one can plus water is fine)
2 cups dry cous cous

In a medium pot, saute the celery and garlic in the olive oil. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the cous cous, cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Leave with the lid on for 5 minutes. After the cous cous has steamed for 5 minutes, it is complete and just needs stirring and serving. Makes 6-8 servings

This makes a nice bed for a number of things, including the Wild Salmon I made tonight.

When buying celery, it is one of the more important vegetables to buy organic as it is in the top 12 vegetables containing the most pesticides.