Happy 4th of July

We spent the day in SF wandering around the touristy areas and then settling ourselves down on the Jeremiah O’Brien to watch the fireworks. There was some fog, but there were only a few that went up high enough that we couldn’t see them.

Fun day. Lots of sun. Took some photos.

Sailboat

Fireworks Barge on it's way out

A fun day out.

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Gee, thanks google!

I’m working on a bit of research for a client. As I’m looking at the data I think “I need to check the key size. I don’t know how to check the key size. Oh, well, I have google. Dear, Google, please tell me how to find a DKIM key size.”

Google says, “Sure! here you go! The top hit for that is a post at word to the wise. Written by Laura Atkins.”

The kicker? That post didn’t actually answer my question.

Thanks, Google!

 

 

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A little restraint

I went way overboard at the farmer’s market last week and we still have a bunch of vegetables left over. I fought with myself about going this week. I really, really wanted some cucumbers, tomatoes and corn. But we still have so much in the fridge. And we’re getting a box this week. And… and… but I really wanted cucumbers, tomatoes and corn.

The thing is (and here’s where I go into justification) I just can’t get the same quality of corn, cucumbers and tomatoes at the store. There’s just too much travel involved and these veggies are more sensitive to travel than lots of other things.

So I went to the market this morning. And I really only did get corn, tomatoes and cucumbers. OK. I did hit the bakery on the way home and get apple fritters for breakfast. They were really tasty.

We’re going to grill tonight. Hot dogs with pretzel buns and grilled corn. We’re also going to taste the sauerkraut that’s been sitting on the counter fermenting for the last 3 weeks.

Summer. YUM.

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Salmon season

Growing up I was incredibly spoiled when it came to eating seafood. Mom’s family lived on the Eastern Shore and her uncle was a commercial fisherman. If we didn’t catch it, we didn’t eat it. Even oysters, clams and crabs were something we only ever ate visiting mom’s family. Sometimes Uncle H. would drop off part of the day’s catch on grandma’s front porch and that was dinner. Other times, Granddaddy and daddy would take us out to fish on granddaddy’s little boat. Granddaddy knew where to go, and there were days where I would get 4 or 5 fish in the boat before poor dad and granddaddy got their hooks baited. Sometimes the whole family would go out on Uncle H’s boat and we’d have a day in the sun catching dozens of fish.

As I grew up and didn’t make it down to the shore as often I tried eating shellfish in restaurants. But nothing was really ever as good as I remember. And I’m picky about how it’s prepared. Fried fish? That’s something you do to hide bad fish. Cooking was simple: fresh filets of trout dredged in flour and pan fried; oysters chopped finely and mixed with enough flour to hold it together and fried; blue crabs steamed with old bay and served with heavily peppered cider vinegar. Most restaurant fish just wasn’t that good, and it was over-prepared to my taste.

This summer, though, I’m enjoying salmon season. Early reports are this is the best start of the salmon season and the fish I’ve been buying from the farmer’s market has been amazing.

As I was taught by grandma, I’m cooking it really simply. The other day it was filets seared in the cast iron skillet with a small amount of salt and pepper. Tonight, though, Steve found a simple glaze for the salmon. The glaze actually enhanced the flavor and made the fish even better.

It’s not the blue crab or fresh flounder of my youth. But west coast fauna are different so I just need to adapt to the local cuisine. It is very yummy fish, though, and I don’t even mind paying market rate for it. Well, OK, I kinda do, but I think it’s actually worth it.

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Overboard at the farmer’s market

Ran out this morning to hit the farmer’s market. So much good, good stuff. The biggest challenge is actually not buying everything in sight. I suspect we’ll eat everything this week, but only if we gorge ourselves on fresh veggies.

I don’t menu plan very well, but here are the things I picked up and some recipe ideas.

Fresh, local wild salmon. OM NOM NOM. I got a pound, so there’s probably 2 meals in here. Nothing fancy, just pan seared with some salad.

Mushrooms. baby shiitakes and creminis. Probably use in stir fries this week.

Cucumbers. Persians from my favorite local farmers (Happy Quail Farms) and when I say local I mean I have to drive farther to get to the the farmer’s market than the farm. I also got some of their house made Peperoncini made with their padrone peppers.

Long beans and baby bok choi. Stir fries all the way! Possibly some udon soup.

Tomatoes. Small tomatoes, not big ones. First of the season so I’m not expecting too much. But I want the tomatoes to be good! I want it!

Basil. Currently acting as a bouquet on the counter. Smells so very, very good. Pesto? Tomato salads? Bruschetta with the herb slab bread? All sound yummy. And I did get some mozzarella yesterday.

3 pack of berries. We’ve got a bunch of stone fruit (nectarines and pluots from the last box) but I couldn’t resist the berries. Dessert this week will probably just be berries.

No corn, but we’ve had corn almost every meal for the last 2 weeks (and the corn people weren’t there) so I thought I’d take a pass on that.

I love summer fresh foods. I love winter stews and soups and bakes. But I love fresh summer vegetables.

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Chicken, corn and kale enchiladas

It’s summer, so we eat summer food. Today was chicken, corn and kale enchiladas.

Filling:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 kale leaf, chopped
  • 1 ear roast corn with kernels stripped
  • .5 pound of chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • .5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp sweet curry powder
  • pinch ancho chili powder

In cast iron skillet with a little neutral oil, cook chicken, onions, and garlic until veggies are translucent. Then add the chopped kale and cook until done how you like kale. Add the corn. Add the chili powder and ancho. Then freak out because you grabbed the wrong jar. Add a little cumin.

Take the filling and put into flour tortillas with a small amount of grated cheddar. Roll the tortillas and put into a baking dish. Cover the rolls with enchilada sauce – tonight I used Frontera green enchilada sauce, and cheese.

Bake at 350 until done. “Done” meaning the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Eat. Marvel at how good this is even with curry flavors. Channel Bob Ross and decide the curry powder was a happy accident. Drink a lot of wine and write a totally passive voice blog post. Decide you can’t be bothered to go back and make the post active tense. Post the blog post and finish watching Iron Chef America.

 

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Summer supper

Spatchcock grilled chicken, in the spirit of Serious Eats. I totally endorse the indirect cooking until it’s almost done and then crisping the skin at the end. Tasty. Amazing. Want more.

Grilled corn on the cob. This is such lazy cooking: fresh corn, just throw it on the grill on the indirect side for 20 – 40 minutes. It steams in the husks and then you shuck and eat. Om nom nom. I usually buy 4 – 8 ears and grill them the same day I buy them. 2 for eating now, and the rest I leave on the grill to cook longer. I strip the kernels off the cob and then have corn.

Tomato and cucumber salad. It’s not quite tomato season yet, but I’m getting antsy waiting for decent tomatoes. Baby heirlooms (from trader joes because there aren’t any good looking ones at the farmer’s market) sliced in half with fresh cucumbers, sliced red onions and some balsamic vinegar.

A very awesome dinner. I also picked up some fresh, local salmon which we’ll probably have tomorrow. With corn and tomato salad? Roast potatoes? Something like that.

Seasonal eating is great.

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Lacto-fermenting vegetables

We went to the farmer’s market this morning and picked up some vegetables to try some fermenting. We went to a talk at the last Maker’s Faire talking about how easy it was to ferment stuff, so hey! why not.

BubblerCap

Steve made me a bubbler cap for a wide mouth jar. I bought some plastic tops a while ago. He drilled a hole in the top, added a stopper and a bubbler we picked up at the local brewing supply store. The final setup is tidy and gives us an environment to keep mold out of my fermenting carrots.

Now that we have the setup, I made some brining liquid. I used this page as a guide. 20g of salt in 1L of water. I used water out of the fridge, which is filtered, and then heated it in the microwave.

Next up, what was I going to ferment? The farmers market had some great looking carrots (big, chunky, lovely carrots) and some cabbage.

FermentingCarrots

Fermented garlic carrots

2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips.
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

Everything packed into a jar, then covered with the brining liquid. I sealed the jar, and it’s happily sitting on the counter waiting for biology to happen.

Sauerkraut

ProtoSauerkraut The ratio I had was a pound of cabbage + 5g of salt and then topped off with brine (because cabbage is self-brining). Not sure I did it exactly right. I packed a large jar with cabbage (a little less than a pound) and added 3 – 4g of salt. Then I topped with the 2% brine solution. I covered all the cabbage with the outer cabbage leaves, then put one of the plastic tops on. This will need to be “burped” daily so that C02 doesn’t build up and explode.

 

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Meteors

We went out last night to see if we could see any of the Camelopardalids meteor shower. Our first step was out to the Baylands park in Palo Alto. We were sitting in the car (old people star gazing tip: ragtops are awesome) waiting for our eyes to adjust and a few cars showed up. I was closing my eyes every time. At one point I hear “are you looking for meteors” and I yelled back “well, we’re TRYING to.” I decided not to add the “because people keep shining lights at us!”

Then I hear, “well, ma’am, the park is closed after dark.”

Ooops. Thing is, I didn’t think we were technically in the park. But discretion, valor, that whole thing. We left. I’m just glad I didn’t get all snarky about the bright light he was shining at us.

We then drove up to Arastadero. It, too, was closed. But, there was some space to pull off the road and park. There were 3 or 4 other cars and a bunch of kids in PJs watching too.

Sadly, there didn’t seem to be many meteors. But it was nice watching the sky and listening to all the peepers.

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Queso dip

http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/chile-con-queso-y-cerveza-cheese-and-chili-beer-dip/64374

I used Trader Joe’s mild salsa instead of canned tomatoes. I also use my own pickled jalapeños. We only had cheddar, so I only used cheddar, but I added some mozzarella. The mozzarella was a bad call, it made things stringy and not in a good way. The overall taste was great, though, and I’m so making it again.

And, yes, dinner tonight was chili con queso and chips. We’ve eaten salads the last few nights given it’s been 90+ and too hot to cook. Tonight I just wanted some gooey, salty, spicy cheese. This hit the spot.

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