Our family celebrates Christmas Eve together – and the whole gang was at our house today for a great dinner and lots of fun singing carols, catching up, and just being together. Our two grand-daughters and Lily had fun and were the center of attention much of the time. As I said last year, family, great food, and sharing – it doesn’t get any better than that!
Earlier this year, I started to get more serious about sharing an online portfolio of what I think of as my best work. You can find it here: photos.sjl.us. Hope you enjoy it!
Note: the image above is from this year’s Christmas tree at Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park.
Pepper season has arrived at our local Menlo Park Farmers Market – and they look great!
Our favorite pepper from local grower Happy Quail Farms isn’t actually shown in the image – be sure to try the Pimientos de Padrón, a specialty of the farm and a great accompaniment to almost any grilled meat dish! Many Bay Area chefs say the best locally-produced sweet and hot peppers come from this small East Palo Alto Farm.
This photo was shot as a RAW with my Canon 5D Mark II using the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens from about 10 feet away. Photomatix Pro was just for post-processing with some final tweaks being done using Lightroom 3.
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.
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!
I’ve been doing a bit of looking at traffic today – web traffic that is – across both my personal and our Glenbrook web sites.
For my personal sites, it’s interesting that my recipes blog, ScottsKitchen.com, has been running about twice the number of page views daily that this blog receives. While I tend to think of sjl.us as my personal “hub” – the web doesn’t. It likes food (and recipes) much better!
Our hyperlocal blog – InMenlo.com – has yet again twice the number of pages views – it’s become very popular indeed. Fascinating that a significant amount of InMenlo’s traffic comes from Facebook while the traffic to ScottsKitchen and SJL.US comes primarily from the search engines.
Part of that is seasonal – my high heat upside-down roast turkey recipe on ScottsKitchen.com is an annual Thanksgiving favorite! Since I posted it in 2005, it’s consistently been the top page on that site. Our late fall roasted tomato soup recipes were also pretty popular this year.
The other perennially popular recipes are those for oven roasted tri-tip (a Christmas favorite around our house) and grilling tri-tip on our Weber charcoal BBQ.
In my book, the “gold standard” for a superb recipe site is SimplyRecipes.com run by Elise Bauer. She does a wonderful job – combining great recipes with luscious food photography! The iPhone web app version of her site has come in very handy for me many times!
My other go to iPhone app for cooking is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The paper edition of this cookbook was my late friend Chris Gulker’s go to bible for cooking! His kitchen copy is delightfully bookmarked, spattered and stained – a real working volume!
We joined Chris and Linda Gulker last night for a wonderful Friday evening adventure – first some early evening munchies at Cafe Borrone, then the William Gibson event at Keplers (he was reading from his new book Zero History), and, finally, back to Borrone’s listening to Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone AllStars perform some great jazz. Truly a wonderful evening!
Chris was able to meet Gibson – one of his favorite authors. Here’s a shot of the two of them chatting just before the book signing – and another one taken by Linda!
The photo below I took with my iPhone 4 while just sitting at our outside table at Cafe Borrone – I used the TiltShift Gen application on the iPhone to generate the particular look/blur. It looks a bit “other worldly” – perhaps a scene out of a William Gibson novel?
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!
Dmitry 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.
Earlier this week, my Glenbrook partner Carol Coye Benson and I were in Portland, Oregon for a Private Payments Workshop with one of our clients.
Upon our arrival the night before, we headed for Portland’s Wildwood Restaurant – one of our mutually favorite spots in this city of great restaurants.
We both spotted an unusual entree on the menu – ham. Curious, we asked our waiter about it. Turns out the ham is house cured at Wildwood – part of their effort to use as much of the “whole hog” as possible.
We both opted to try it – and were delighted with the flavor combination. This wasn’t the usual clove-spiced or honey-glazed ham – far from it! This was just a small stack of sliced pieces of ham on a bed of sautéed spinach and salsify cream with some wild mushrooms on top. Very nice, very tasty.
To accompany the ham, we had the Scott Paul 2006 La Paulée Pinot Noir – a delightful Oregon Pinot!
Another great Wildwood dinner!
We headed off to Healdsburg early Friday morning – for a 3 day weekend away.
Staying at the Honor Mansion – a truly outstanding B&B within walking distance of the downtown square in Healdsburg – we caught up with good friends now living in Healdsburg for Friday lunch, wine tasting and dinner.
Our Friday lunch wine tasting at Williamson Wines just off the square was truly amazing. Williamson specializes in food and wine pairings – and does a superb job of bringing together just the right food with just the right wine together in your mouth. I’ve never experienced anything like what we had at Williamson!
Healdsburg is still small enough to enjoy on foot while within easy reach of some of the best wineries in California out in Dry Creek Valley. On Saturday, after the morning Farmers Market, the Healdsburg Art Festival was underway. We enjoyed visiting with the artists before heading back to the Honor Mansion for some swimming pool coolness and downtime before dinner with friends. A record 103 degree temperature made the pool an extra special treat!
Early this morning, I wandered out before sunrise to capture the Halloween display at a home just up Grove Street from the Mansion. Happy Halloween – indeed!
I was recently reading one of Anil Dash’s blog posts and noticed he was about to celebrate ten years of blogging.
That caused me to go back to the Internet Archive and see if I could find any history of when I first started blogging. It looks like I put up a basic home page sometime in late 1998 and then started a basic blog in June of 1999 – just over 10 years ago. It looks like we started our Scott’s Kitchen blog in November 2005 – just about four years ago.
Hard to believe it’s been that long. Time sure flies when you’re having fun!
Last night, we had dinner along with our friends and Linda Gulker at the Madera restaurant at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel. It was an unusually warm day Sunday – with a bright blue sky off to the west, cooling down a bit as the sun went down. The photo above – taken after dinner – shows the hotel lobby from the main entrance – looking northwest.
Just a stone’s throw from our home (we drove of course – very hot day!), this new hotel and restaurant – a big construction project over the last year plus – turned out beautifully.
Dinner was great – we got there a bit early and enjoyed a drink in the bar which has a seamless open wall to the deck outside. The photo below (taken flat on the smooth finish of the bar – with my iPhone) shows the view to the west of the Santa Cruz mountains.