Thursday, June 30, 2011

lilikoi and the up-country

there is no place like ...

Keokea Omelet and a Cup of Kona Coffee

taking a morning walk on Thompson Road

admiring everything
loving the up-country 

Maui blooms



a Maui beauty

stocking up ... Guava Jelly, Lilikoi Butter, and Mango Butter

my kind of shopping 
bananas, strawberries, blueberry banana bread, and lots of jam

look what the chickens left us

for breakfast

Breakfast at Home: Maui French Toast

French Toast with almond butter and bananas

French Toast with lilikoi butter and Kula strawberries

Maui put me completely at ease ... from breakfasts spent at home, spending time in the garden, anticipating eggs from sweet chickens, walks along one of my favorite roads, and road side stands with fresh strawberries, blueberry banana bread, guava jelly, mango butter, and lilikoi butter ... I simply could not get enough of the up-country of Maui. I gathered so much inspiration from this little trip ... a new jam to try,  even more of a passion for my photography, and the trip gave me insight to realize that I need to simplify my life (here) back at home. Emmy and I spent our days practicing yoga, chatting, laughing, hiking, eating, and simply relaxing. Stay tuned for some Maui foodie posts, a sweet little day trip that will have you jumping off waterfalls and hiking through bamboo, and a little town that you will drive to just for the food ... my Maui guide will be up next week. Wishing all of you a relaxing and delicious Fourth of July!!

Do: venture to the up-country of Kula
Try: lilikoi butter
Go: stop at Grandma's for breakfast and coffee
Must: take a walk on Thompson Road

Maui French Toast
three to four slices of sliced sourdough bread
1 cup almond milk
2 farm fresh eggs straight from your chickens (any eggs will do)
a pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Kuala Strawberries (or your favorite strawberries)
2 sliced bananas
almond butter
lilikoi butter

1. Mix the eggs and almond milk in a mixing bowl
2. Add a pinch of cinnamon and the vanilla to the milk/ egg mixture and beat
3. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture ... front and back
4. Cook over medium heat until each side is lightly browned
5. Once all of your slices are cooked, top each piece of french toast with either lilikoi butter and strawberries or almond butter and bananas
6. Enjoy with a hot cup of Kona coffee

Thursday, June 23, 2011

change of plans

I changed my Summer plans!!! Yesterday, I booked a trip to Maui to visit one of my best friends. So, after a day of flying and waiting for connecting flights I am finally HERE. Emmy met me at the airport with the sweetest smelling lei and a warm hug. I woke up this morning smiling from ear to ear as the only sounds I could hear were the sweet songs of birds.  We are staying in the up country of Maui and  surrounded by lush green mountains. This morning we went to a cafe called Grandma's where we gabbed over a feta, basil, and tomato omelet.  Afterwards, we took a a walk and I snapped photo after photo.  This is exactly what I needed right after graduation ... time to nurture my soul. I don't have access to my photos so, next week I will do a recap. Until next time ... ALOHA.

Monday, June 20, 2011

weekend reflecting

back home

by the bay



admiring old cars

shining in the Summer sun

a sweet bicycle

in the garden

a beauty


The wedding that both Marc and I photographed for went amazingly well. I am hooked! The weather could not have been more perfect.  The bride and groom were sweet, loving, and all together fantastic. I can't wait to share photos with all of you (the bride gave me the ok to share some). This past weekend was busy in a good way. We were in Davis, Sacramento, Winters, and the last spot Marc and I ventured to was Benicia where we spent time with my dad. There is something so special about visiting the town where Marc and I grew up.  I sat in my old backyard admiring my dad's flowers, picking copious amounts of lemons, and enjoyed simply relaxing.
How was your weekend? What do you enjoy most about going back home? I started my first day of work today and spent the morning cooking, chopping, dicing, and savoring in the smells of great local food. Bisous.

Friday, June 17, 2011

the weekend and ...


nature's candy.

oh so pretty.


up close.


I shoot my first wedding tomorrow!! Over the last couple of months I've been relearning my camera, experimenting with shots, taking a photography class to sharpen and refine my skills, and going out and taking thousands of photos ... I can see a difference. My camera bag is stocked with extra batteries, memory cards, lenses.  A big thanks to my sweet sister who gave me the sweetest camera bag for gradaution ... I am pretty much in love with my bag.  I hope all of you have a great weekend!!! Bisous.

Right Now:
drinking: green tea with honey
reading: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia
resting: after a morning run
eating: copious amounts of roasted beets
loving: the warm weather

Roasted Beets
1. wrap beets in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour ... or depending on the size of your beets it could be 45 minutes to a little over an hour
2. Take Beets out of the oven and let cool ... peel your beets (this is messy and beets do stain hands ... so use gloves ... you can also use ziploc bags)
3. Once your beets are peeled, chop them to your liking
4. Place in a bowl and mix olive oil, a bit of crushed pepper and a pinch of salt, and vinegar ... I use a Frenzy Olive Oil and a Pomegranate Vinaigrette. You can also mix in a little goat cheese for a tasty change.
5. Once your beets are mixed ... chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so ... if you can't wait an hour ... eat your beets straight from the bowl
6. Notice I do not have amounts for the olive oil, vinegar, pepper or salt ... taste as you go ... get clever and be fearless

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

breakfast is ready

French Toast Casserole

out of the oven


breakfast is ready!

When I was younger my dad would make breakfast for my siblings and I almost every morning. And, when the weekends would come along I anticipated Saturday mornings ... as Saturday mornings meant my dad's French Toast.  I remember my dad standing at the bottom of the stairs and yelling ... breakfast is ready ... half asleep my siblings and I would trample down the stairs and rush to the table.  I can still smell the sweet smell of French Toast and taste the buttery maple goodness of my dad's Saturday morning French toast. It just so happens that I found a French Toast Casserole Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen that I knew I had to try. So, with a Baguette in hand I conquered the recipe ... soaking each piece in a mixture of vanilla, egg, half and half, milk, nutmeg and cinnamon. The bread turned into French Toast Perfection. While the french toast casserole absorbed the egg mixture I made a pecan topping that I later drizzled over the casserole.  The casserole plumped up and turned golden brown in the oven and the sweet smells of french toast filled my kitchen. I literally was whisked right back to Saturday mornings but ... this time I was the one who would be yelling ... breakfast is ready.

French Toast Casserole
Do: adapt the recipe to your liking ... I used less half and half and butter ...
Try: pairing your French Toast with fresh fruit
goal: have a Summer where I make EVERYTHING or try
wanting: copper pots
just watched: It's Complicated

Jam On

learning from Rachel

making our jam

so many jars

filling our jars

making jam on my own


over the stove


apricot jam

taste testing

the new and improved pear vanilla jam

Jam On!

After taking The Blue Chair Jamming Class I came back incredibly inspired. I asked Rachel to critique my jam and give me her honest oppinion as to what she thought ... she said: peel your pears, less vanilla bean, and cook for longer. So what did I do? I listened to her comments and made a new and improved pear vanilla jam. I mentioned in my last post that at my graduation party I had a jam tasting table with fresh homemade sourdough bread ... well ... I spent all last week making jam. I made a pear vanilla jam, a strawberry rhubarb, and a first ... an apricot jam. I must say that the apricot jam was the most time consuming but the results were pure jam bliss. The first jam to go at the party was the apricot and the combination of fresh bread, a dab of butter, and apricot jam on fresh bread is pretty much perfection. For those of you who have been considering jamming for the first time or going back for another attempt at jam making I say ... JAM ON! Summer is here and I foresee a lot more jamming days.

10 Jam Making Tips
1. Do find a tried and true recipe
2. USE FRESH FRUIT ... meaning ... when you buy, pick, or forage your fruit use it as soon as you can
3. experiment ... at the jam class I was inspired to create my own template for jam always keeping in mind the ratio of lemon juice to fruit
4. Taste as you go
5. the spoon test never fails
6. use a scale ... I learned recently as my first batch of apricot jam only yielded 4 jars ... all that work for 4 jars!! Believe me a scale was purchased shortly after
7. be precise ... this helps to get great jam results
8. "put up" your Summer fruit now so you can enjoy strawberries in Winter
9.  less is more ... going from two vanilla beans to one vanilla bean really allowed the fruit to be showcased ... in my new batch of pear vanilla jam the pears were not over powered by vanilla bean
10. Do take a class ... even though I jammed before The Blue Chair Jam Class gave me so much inspiration and encouraged me to take my jam to the next level ... the class was just what I needed.

right now: making a french toast casserole a la Paula Deen
feeling: loving
reading: the latest issue of Bon App├ętit
saving for: my trip to France
practicing: my French ... I am a bit rusty
deciding: where and what to do this Summer
snacking on: dried apricots

Monday, June 13, 2011

the weekend and more ...

enjoying Santa Cruz


 drinking a bowl of soul
 while reading the magazine I worked on all year

 graduation day

my sister and I

my mom who always inspires

carrot cake and farmers' market flowers


white wine on a warm afternoon

scarlet lemonade

vegan chocolate chip salted cookies


farm fresh beet salad

basil pasta salad
 with squash and sundried tomatoes

my sweet friends

my last day at UCSC

This past weekend was filled with copious amounts of laughter, eating, and celebrating. Marc finished his Masters on Friday and I graduated on Saturday. We had a joint graduation party yesterday at one of our favorite wineries Vino Tabi in Santa Cruz. And, rather than have our party catered we made everything ourselves. I spent all of Sunday in the kitchen roasting beets, making scarlet lemonade, baking vegan chocolate chip salted cookies and making a basil pasta salad. Marc went earlier that morning and picked up flowers from the farmers' market that I used to make our flower arrangements and my good friend Heather made a galette, a chocolate ganache tart with lavender and two amazing salads. One of the highlights was that our friend Daniel made fresh bread that quite frankly had everyone wanting thirds, fourths, and fifths. I made jam all week and we had a table for fresh bread and homemade jam. The party was beautiful. At one point tears filled my eyes as I glanced around the room and saw all of my friends and family enjoying each other's company. The night included toast after toast, a storytelling session about the food Heather and I made, and an evening filled with love. I hope all of you have a great week. Bisous.

Graduation Menu ... recipes to come
Scarlet Lemonade
Two Field Green Salads
Fresh Basil and Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad
Vegan Chocolate Chip Salted Cookies
Farm Fresh Beet Salad
Chocolate Lavender Ganache Tart
Homemade Sourdough Bread
Apricot, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Pear Vanilla Jam
Carrot Cake
Guava Cake
Wine from Vino Tabi
Wood Fired Pizzas
An Assortment of Cheeses