Things that are making me happy this week

Smashed avocado and cheddar cheese on whole wheat walnut bread.

A pile of poufs. All my sample sizes.

My first stories in Do It Yourself magazine. You should get yourself a copy!

Honey from a local beekeeper. I love pretty much anything that comes in a canning jar.

Fresh mint growing on the front porch.

Actually I planted a whole box of herbs. Something has already munched on them, but I’m not giving up! Funny how my basil is droopy, but my cilantro is super healthy.

I also love the funky tree in our front yard. I just think it has personality.

And finally, a second batch of flapjacks. This time I put parchment paper in my pan and they popped right out.

….OK, I’ll admit it. I’m getting a little sucked into the Royal Wedding, too. I would basically have to get up in the middle of the night to watch it live here, so maybe I’ll have to catch a re-run.

My new favorite pizza

Our spinach and onion deep dish leftovers from Little Star Pizza.

This might even be my favorite pizza of all time. It just matches up with all my personal preferences.

First of all, the Little Star location nearest our house is always crowded, but not too crowded, and you can order your pizza while you’re waiting so it’s ready when you finally get a table.

Second, I love the decor. It’s full of salvaged wood, curvy hanging lamps, and antique-looking light bulbs. Whoever designed it really made an effort to make it feel modern but comfortable inside.

Third, the pizza is just damn good. The deep dish pies are smaller than most other places so you don’t feel like you’re eating your weight in bread. Plus there’s a ton of cornmeal mixed into the crust for extra crunch. There’s also plenty of cheese, and the sauce is just incredible. I hate to say it but it seems like there’s possibly something meaty in there adding to the depth of flavor.

Then on top they put a healthy sprinkling of powdered Parmesan cheese, which bakes into a crust. It’s just as good on day two, hot or cold, which is why we always get more than we need.

So there you have it, pizza love. Definitely try it if you’re ever in the area!

Flapjacks!

No, not the pancake kind. The British, oaty, chewy bar kind that Mike and I first sampled when we were in Spain.

I’ve been wanting to make them since I got back, but didn’t get around to it until now.

Actually, the problem was that I couldn’t find a key ingredient, golden syrup. I kept looking for it in grocery stores, but no luck. Then one Sunday at the Berkeley Bowl I realized that (of course) they had a British foods section, and there it was.

Golden syrup is a lot like corn syrup, but really thick and gooey.

So once I had that I cobbled together some different recipes I found online and came up with this one. Next time I make them I’ll use a little smaller pan for thicker bars (maybe 8-inch square), and put down some parchment paper so that I can remove them easily. I had a heck of a time getting them out of the pan.

You can also add just about any kind of dried fruit or nuts to change up the taste, or try substituting honey or agave nectar. Though these are definitely buttery and sweet, they are more like a granola bar than anything, and they are great fuel for site-seeing, shopping, or workout days.

Cranberry flapjacks

1/2 cup butter (or sub margarine for vegan flapjacks)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat up a saucepan to low heat, then add the butter, brown sugar, and syrup. Stir until all the butter is melted.

Next add the oats, cranberries, coconut, and ground flax seeds and stir to combine. Stir quickly so that the syrup doesn’t harden. (Reminds me of making Rice Krispie Treats!).

Press the mixture into a greased or parchment papered 8-inch square oven-safe dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Resist the urge to mess with these until they are cooled. They will just fall apart. If you wait too long, though, they will be really hard to cut. So when they’re just cool, loosen the edges, flip over the pan to remove the whole thing, and then cut the block into 9 squares.

I personally love just about anything oaty or granola-like, so I’m crazy for these. I am going to work on some other adaptations!

Coffee snobbery

We finally got one of these individual ceramic drippers for coffee. All the cool kids use them here.

If you’re really cool, you can get a little kettle to go with it.

Personally, I still like our Cuisinart coffee maker. But it’s fun to indulge in a little coffee snobbery.

I bet people would be really impressed if I busted out my ’40s vacuum coffee pot!

A foodie weekend


Pretty teeny flowers from our yard.

Mike and I kicked off our weekend on an awesome note when we decided to check another restaurant off our Top 100 list and went to Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission. The item we were supposed to eat was the Pizza Margherita, which looked amazing.

But we decided to have the Carbonara special instead, a white pizza with a runny egg yolk on top (perfect for scooping up with bits of chewy crust). We ate it so quickly I didn’t even get a picture.

Mike did get a shot of our artichoke/arugula appetizer with his iPhone.

We sat on the other side of the kitchen so we could see all the bowls of fresh ingredients, including a giant slab of Parmesan cheese that they scrape off with a vegetable peeler (just like I do!).

It seems like every restaurant should have an open kitchen like that. It’s so much more enticing to see the fresh ingredients than just a few lines on a menu.

The real reason I loved this place so much, though, was that like a lot of places in the bay area, they just try to do a few things really well. All of the ingredients are really high quality, fresh, in season, and so on. It seems like a lot of restaurants fail when they try to do too much.

After dinner we saved just enough room to have a treat at the Tartine Bakery down the block. We split a gorgeous lemon cream tart that was definitely the best tart I’ve ever had.

One of the women sitting next to us said we were making it look so good that she was tempted to go buy one.

We also got lattes in giant latte bowls. I was in total food heaven.

We explored some fun shops in the Mission that we had missed on other trips. They had some great furniture stores with drool-worthy mid-century finds. It was great eye candy.

Saturday morning we had a bunch of errands to run, so we decided to start our day with some fresh bread from Acme Bread in Berkeley.

We got a whole wheat levain loaf and a sweet baguette in addition to some breakfast pastries. The total for all of it was $9. I made a mental note to buy bread this good every week.

If you find yourself on a bread shopping spree like we have been, might I suggest making zucchini bread pudding?

Personally, I am in a bit of a bread coma, so I’ll be attempting to get back to normal!

Loving: Honeysuckle hand soap

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw this on the shelf at (of all places) Ace Hardware.

I’m a devotee of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, mostly because they smell like anything but cleaning products. But my favorite scent of all time is honeysuckle, and I haven’t been able to find it since I bought a mini spring cleaning kit at World Market a couple years ago.

But it’s back! At least in the hand soap. Please, Mrs. Meyers, bring back the whole line! And send me samples!

The week in food

I was craving pancakes again, but I thought I would try buckwheat this time.

I just used my whole wheat kefir pancake recipe, but substituted 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour for some of the wheat flour.

Annnnd, I don’t really like these as much. It’s just a personal preference. I think next time I make pancakes I’ll actually put in more oats, too.

Earlier this week I was missing Bandit Burrito (strangely I haven’t found a burrito place that comes close to how good that one was), so I made burrito bowls with black beans, brown/wild rice mix, and grated tofu mixed with taco spice. They were delish. I might have overfilled my bowl just a bit.

The last couple days I’ve been having these mini multi-colored potatoes oven roasted with scrambled eggs.

I love how bright purple the purple ones are inside.

I’ve also been a tea fiend this week. I’ve been buying up my favorite teas, and now that my tea shelf overfloweth, I just want to drink it all the time.

My absolute favorite, though, is Harney & Sons hot cinnamon spice. Thanks to Mike’s parents for having it at their cabin so I could fall in love with it.

Oh, and off topic — I finished “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and watched the Swedish movie. It was one of the first times I could say I loved the movie more than the book. I just needed that visualization to bring the characters to life. I’m reading the second book now, though, and I like it a lot better. I think Larsson must have started to hit his stride as a novelist by book 2.

Also, it makes me want to go to Sweden. As if Swedish design weren’t a compelling enough reason.

*Apologies if you tried to go to my site earlier this week when it was down. Lunarpages decided randomly to just take it down. There was no way for me to fix it when it was down. So Mike and I decided to break up with them. Hopefully the new host will be better!

Hello, April

On this beautiful first week of April I am…

Reading:

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, finally.

I bought the whole trilogy, and I’ve queued the Swedish movies on Netflix so I can watch them as I finish the books. Excited!

I’ve spent the last month tackling “Infinite Jest,” which is a beast of a book.

It has over 100 pages of end notes, some of which have notes within them. I did enjoy it, moreso at the end when the whole story came together. But I still had to read a synopsis online to make sense of everything. I would recommend it, if for no other reason than reading it gives you a great sense of accomplishment. It’s also really funny. Bizarre, excessively tangental, full of words you’ve never seen before. It’s just fascinating. I can’t go as far as others and say it’s genius, but definitely fascinating.

Eating:

Dilly-dijon egg salad
Slice two hard boiled eggs and mix with 2 tablespoons light mayo, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and a pinch of dill. Serve open-faced on a piece of grainy bread. Call it lunch.

Snacking on:

Cottage cheese with chocolate chips.

I know! It sounds wrong, but it’s a random adaptation of what I’ve always heard is the perfect post-exercise snack: chocolate milk. And it’s really good!

Trying out:

Groove Yoga. It’s a studio across from the CU campus and right by Mike’s office. I bought a Groupon for a really good deal. It sounds like they do Baron Baptiste-style power yoga and have a Bernese mountain dog in residence. Sounds good to me already!