Category Archives: Cooking

Lessons from 2012: Our Web Has a Long Memory

New Year's Day - San Francisco - 2012

I just took a look back at the most popular web pages here on my blog during the last twelve months of 2012. The most popular pages – based on page views – weren’t written this year – but they’ve stood the test of time – at least as far as Google and the other search engines are concerned.

Here’s the list of top 10 posts based on page views during 2012:

  1. The Winner Is: Oven Roasted Tri-Tip Roast for Football Sunday (Feb 1, 2009) – Best ways to cook tri-tip!
  2. My Life in a Sling! (Nov 10, 2009) – The story of my rotator cuff surgery – and an amazing community of others who’ve also been through this rough surgery.
  3. HOW TO: Setting up the Canon PowerShot S90 to Shoot HDR (Jan 31, 2010) – All about how to shoot HDR images from compact point and shoot camera.
  4. New Photoshop Learnings from Jaime Ibarra (Nov 13, 2011) – Jaime’s a master and I took a private 1:1 workshop with him.
  5. Sunday Morning Coffee: Carmel and Point Lobos (Jan 25, 2009) – So many memories of the Monterey coast. If you go, check this out.
  6. Yosemite’s Half Dome – Handheld HDR with Canon 5D Mark II (jun 5, 2010) – My early learnings about HDR.
  7. First Time Out with HDR Photography on a Canon 40D (Sep 6, 2008) – More early HDR learnings.
  8. My Mid-2011 Photography Workflow (Jul 30, 2011) – An important milestone in my workflow – which has since moved beyond.
  9. Hierarchies – of Life and Privacy (Aug 13, 2005) – A perspective that’s stood the test of time.
  10. A Floating Faucet Fountain (Jun 13, 2009) – One of those fun stories that brings back childhood memories of home shows and the like!

Look at that list – no posts from 2012 made the top 10! It’s kinda crazy how long the long tail is. In the case of my blog, the top 3 posts accounted for over 50% of this year’s page views. The remaining 40+% were spread out among hundreds of other posts. I wonder how this distribution might change in 2013?

What post from 2012 was the most viewed? This one – How We Appreciate Great Photographs.

Looking back a year ago, here’s my list of the most popular posts of 2011 – with my commentary. Interesting to see some changes this year in the rankings.

See you next year!

Merry Christmas 2012!

On the Edge of the Sun - Yosemite Valley - 2011

We just finished our family Christmas Eve celebration – and the fourth birthday celebration for granddaughter Lucy. We hosted a big crowd – and, fortunately, the weather cooperated to make it easy.

We cooked up a simple dinner – using our favorite oven roasted tri-tip recipe (eight pounds – of which we managed to eat almost six tonight), sautéed green beans, oven roasted small potatoes with rosemary and olive oil, a mushroom side dish, and a wonderful salad. We had lots of help in the kitchen making for a busy but fun late afternoon celebration.

Hope you’re enjoying your Christmas celebration – enjoying this special season and time for family!

Update: Christmas dinner – We’re roasting a pork loin with apples for our Christmas dinner this year. It’s an old favorite of ours – this year we’re trying an abbreviated bit of “dry brining” ahead of roasting it. More info here! Today’s version of this old favorite pork loin roast recipe was perhaps the best we’ve ever made!

The Most Popular Posts of 2011

As we’re wrapping up 2011, I took a look back at what posts on this blog generated the most page views during 2011. Here’s the top twelve list (in honor of 2012!) – along with my commentary on each post:

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Home Cooking – Petaluma – 2010

Home Cooking - Petaluma - 2010

Figured I needed to put up a cooking-related image (!), as this personal blog of mine continues to get more page views on my tri-tip steak recipes than almost anything else I’ve written about. Oh, and then there are the posts about my rotator cuff surgery – they’re pretty popular too!

Anyway, back to this image – shot at twilight in Petaluma last year as I was doing a photo walk with a workshop group. This image was pretty noisy coming out of my Canon PowerShot S95 – so I gave it a more painterly style using Topaz Simplify. I also desaturated it a bit – liking the more subtle toning in this version. One of these days I’ll have to go back to Petaluma and give Volpi’s Italian Ristorante at try!

Slow Coffee!

Coffee Valentine by Shannon ClarkThis week’s New York Times Magazine included an article titled “Coffee’s Slow Dance” by Oliver Strand.

Strand writes about how he “started buying gear — a grinder, a drip cone, a pouring kettle — that was simple, functional and beautiful. They were low-tech, high-fidelity gadgets that cost $15 to $50 and changed how I make coffee. For the most part, the key components came from Japan.” I’ve recently had a similar experience.

One of the podcasts I enjoy listening to while driving hither and yon is the Build and Analyze podcast by Marco Arment and Dan Benjamin. Turns out that Marco is a real fan of coffee done right – and he’s talked about how he does it on earlier editions of this podcast. His techniques include using the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker – a hand-operated manual press that turns out to be SO much better than the traditional French press.

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The Power of Oven Roasted Tri-Tip!

I’m always a bit amazed by the statistics as to how readers arrive at my blog here. All of this is strongly influenced by the search engines – what they think is important here coupled with what searchers are searching for.

While much of what I write about is photography-related, it turns out that’s not the primary driver – at least over the last 90 days. While the photography-related posts are important – they’re not the MOST important.

So, what is?

Well, turns out it’s oven roasted tri-tip – and my post from two years ago that points to my Scott’s Kitchen post on how easy it is to cook oven roasted tri-tip!

Looking for a couple of additional simple recipes for great tasting meals that are super easy to prepare?

Be sure to try this Easy Oven Roasted Salmon recipe based upon Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. We cooked this one again last night using fresh salmon filets from Trader Joe’s (Norwegian, farm raised) and it was superb! I used kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to season the salmon – along with a liberal sprinkling of one of my favorites, Penzey’s Sunny Spain (a salt-free lemon pepper blend), and a bit of Szechuan Pepper Salt (I seem to be using this on everything lately!). We did some stir-fry veggies to accompany – with a bit of balsamic for flavor.

And, here’s another: my super simple Scott’s Favorite Slow Roasted Chipotle Pork recipe. You can finish this with tortillas, over salad, or just by itself with some fresh limes. Perfect.

Maybe I need to turn my photography interest more toward capturing food images?

[Update – Feb 14, 2011 – I just registered the domain UltimateTriTip.com – a niche web site just for tri-tip fans! Coming soon!]

Such a Pleasant Re-Entry!

As you could probably tell by my somewhat cranky post earlier this week, it’s been an intense week. Fortunately, while I continued to work for a few hours again today, this was also a bit of a recharge day.

The weather here in the San Francisco Bay Area has turned downright balmy for mid-January. Today was one of those days where you just don’t want to be inside – it’s just so good outside.

Menlo Park Weather Forecast

We took Lily on a walk around the pond – she enjoyed all of the smells and the other dogs. I sat out one of the loops just to sit by the pond and soak it all in. Delightful indeed! Lots of folks had the same idea – let’s get out in the sunshine and fresh (and warm!) air! We could have stayed at the park all afternoon!

Last night, for some random reason I was browsing through the recipes on ScottsKitchen.com and happened across one from a couple of years ago – for short ribs.

So, coming back from the library (truly one of my favorite spots to just concentrate) this afternoon, I stopped at Trader Joes and Andronico’s to pick up the supplies – and we’re about to sit down to dinner. The aroma is amazing – let’s hope it tastes as good as it smells! ;-)

Another Day in the Kitchen…at the Village Pub

Earlier this year, Chris Gulker and I spent a Saturday with Dmitry Elperin in the kitchen of Woodside’s Village Pub – one of our local 1-star Michelin-rated restaurants. That escapade was for us to learn how to roast chickensee Chris’s post.

Today, my daughter Tracy and I returned to the Pub to learn all about cooking for Thanksgiving – and what a wonderful time we had – eight of us students crowded around the kitchen at Village Pub. We had such a wonderful time!

Here’s the full review I posted tonight on Yelp:

Like Sandi H., we also participated in the Thanksgiving Cooking School at the Village Pub today. This was my second class with Dmitry Elperin – both have been superb.

There’s nothing quite like being in the kitchen with a great chef as he’s describing how he cooks – and tries variations to the recipes. Today’s menu was classic Thanksgiving – wonderful brined turkey (super moist!), stuffing, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with chestnuts (my first time for those – yum!). A cranberry/apple chutney added wonderful contrast.

Sommelier Michael educated our nose and palate with four great wines to accompany this meal. He walked us through a blind tasting – sharing what we found as we first swirled and breathed in the aromas and then tasted the wines. A French white burgundy (Michel Gros) and an Oregon Pinot Noir (Willakenzie) were the main course wines. The madeira he poured to accompany pecan pie for dessert was an amazing food pairing!

All in all, another great Saturday event at the Village Pub! Congratulations to Dmitry and the VP team for a wonderful time!

Here’s a photo I snapped of Dmitry in action:

Dmitry Elperin - Village Pub - Woodside, CA - Photo by Scott Loftesness

Ultimate Roast Chicken

As we’ve mentioned before, Chris and I spent last Saturday at the Village Pub in Woodside – learning at the hand of master chef Dmitry Elperin. While we participated in the roasting of several different proteins at the Pub, the main event was roast chicken.

Chris blogged about his efforts last night – and on our walk this morning we talked a bit more about how well it turned out.

Naturally, I had to give it a try – even though most of my cooking extravaganzas are weekend events.

So, on the way home tonight, I picked up a Rocky Jr. fryer along with a bunch of veggies to build a rack as Dmitry had taught us. Chris had warned me to be sure to get the veggies under the chicken – as otherwise they might char – so we did. For my rack, I used asparagus, carrots, onions, half a head of garlic, and about a dozen small Yukon Gold potatoes. Wish I had included the other half head of garlic!

Otherwise, the prep was as Dmitry taught us – including encouraging us to experiment with variations on stuffings for the cavity, etc. Tonight I used onion, garlic, and orange – a wonderful combination. Forgot the bay leaf – will have to include that next time!

Wow, after an hour in the oven at 425 degrees, we had a wonderful roast chicken dinner! Simple to prepare, painless to cook – a real delight.

Some Simple Lessons from Village Pub

Today, Chris Gulker and I headed to Village Pub in Woodside for Chef Dmitry Elperin‘s cooking class on “Classic and Contemporary Cooking Techniques for Meat”. Eight of us spent a couple of hours in the Pub’s kitchen with Dmitry as we prepared Roast Chicken, Striped Bass, Leg of Lamb and accompanying vegetables – before sitting down to a wonderful lunch of what we had cooked!

IMG_2030-640x480.jpgDmitry started out simply seasoning the Leg of Lamb and getting it into the oven. Next, we prepared roasted eight chickens (Fulton Valley Farms “air chilled” free range, organic, etc.) – stuffed by each of us with different veggies and herbs. We roasted them on a variety of different settings – some veggies, etc.

The striped bass was also stuffed with some fresh veggies and herbs, lightly oiled and seasoned with salt and pepper, positioned on a rack of veggies – with fresh asparagus as an anchor. Dmitry also demonstrated a salt-crusted technique for one of the striped bass – egg whites and LOTS of kosher salt make a paste to seal in the fish for high heat roasting.

We had 3 wines to accompany lunch: Melville Chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills near Santa Barbara, an Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from McKinlay, and a Mendoza region Malbec from Tomero. A special chocolate soufflé and an accompanying scoop of vanilla bean ice cream finished us all off!

What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon! Dmitry is a great teacher for these sessions – watching his easy flow as he led us through the prep was a delight. All of it was delicious – but that salt-crusted striped bass was especially great – light, great flavor, surprisingly unsalty – just wonderful! Another great lesson that a wonderful meal is mostly about using high quality ingredients simply prepared.