Archive

Travels

I’ve definitely been absent, floating around in some space between work busy and life busy, all pulling towards that busy-ness vortex. While I try to stay above it, employ clever word tricks like saying I’m “productive” rather than busy, or buy books on how to be more productive, I should just call it what it is: the last month has been a blur. A mix of work blur and life blur, followed by an odd, complacent calm. The erie calm before the storm, as the cliche goes.

Here’s what we’ve been up to during that time — I’ll spare the work details. We all have crazy work days and periods of sillyness we go through and it feels like pretty silly complaining (look at me, I have a job that keeps me busy, that I enjoy, that pays me! feel sorry for me. Rather, don’t.)

We took an impromptu trip to Sedona. After finishing up a Saturday in the office, I came home, finished over packing my bag, and away we went. I feel asleep halfway through a weekend something or other on NPR, with the warm Arizona sun streamlng through the passanger window. Casey was totally feeling it, too. Safe driver that he is, he swtiched us from radio to podcast, and right into episode four of Serial we went. Fashionably behind the times: that’s what we are!

Sedona

In Sedona, we enjoyed cool crisp air, red rocks; huge veggie filled omlettes; and, a pretty sweet hike. Look at me, taking my life into my own hands and crossing Devil’s Bridge.

Devil's Bridge

I kept the local library in business during my unannounced time off. The public library is a quiet treasure chest, waiting for you to remember it exists and surprising you with goodies when you finally do remember. It smells of books — or atleast, mine does. The staff curates a celection of most wanted items, with cookbooks and book-books just sitting their waiting to be read.

I kept Amazon Prime in business (you’re welcome, Amazon; I don’t think I’m your only customer, but still, you’re welcome). I may have spent what was forecasted to be a rainy March weekend on the couch, basking in film adaptation glory and watching all seven episodes of Outlander, Season 1, Part 1. Consecutively. Parker, on the other hand, enjoyed the late afternoon soon streaming through the windows. Lyla imitated as best she could later that night.

Parker in the Afternoon Flat Cat

And now we’re at the end of March, where I told myself I would have a few details figured out. And of course I don’t. I do know I’ll be back with food posts soon. Until then, here’s a montage of life through pictures.

Shrimp on the Beach

We’d been dreaming of these shrimp in the weeks leading up to our flight. On the Big Island of Hawaii, we eagerly mentioned our excitement at being on Oahu soon. We schemed and planned how many times we’d be able to make it to the North Shore and these shrimp. And once we arrived on Oahu, we couldn’t stop raving about how delicious these shrimp were to all our friends who’d travelled farther than us to be in Hawaii at the same time.  Our rental mini van and sedan full of hungry travelers, we led the cavalry to battle, confident in our knowledge and “native traveler” know how.

The shrimp truck was not there.

Worse, the dirt lot normally occupied by many food trucks was roped off, with large signs spray painted with black. “Closed,” they said.

Closed. I’m pretty sure I felt a small ping of adrenaline kick in, maybe even a twinge of remorse. My fondness for seafood had been minimal at best for many years prior. And shellfish: no thank you. Then I ate these shrimp – naked cajun barbecue shrimp, with brown rice, fresh baguette, and a buttery, spicy, umami-i sauce. Hooked ever since.

Small panic subsided when, thanks to the miracle of cell phones and 3G connectivity, we found out where we could hunt down our lunch truck. We found him – Dat Cajun Guy – just north of Shark’s Cove, tucked off the side of the road.

And we ended up eating shrimp on the beach. We’re still trying to figure out what was better: our serendipity in connecting with the owner/chef over cell phone or our lunch time view.

Shrimp on the BeachIf you’re possibly craving shrimp after that little tale, here’s my quick and tasty shrimp — not quite what we ate that afternoon in Hawaii, but tasty enough to do the trick. I honestly think it’s the butter that helps give the shrimp a bit of richness. If butter isn’t your style, olive oil is great too. If someone has done this with coconut oil, let me know…because it sounds…you know…yummy.

Salt, Pepper, Lime Shrimp (aka, I can’t believe this is a recipe)

  • 1 TBS of butter per 3/4 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp
  • Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of course sea salt
  • 1 clove of of garlic
  • Zest of one lime

In a medium or large non stick sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. At the garlic, cooking until fragrant, maybe 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, sprinkling with the black pepper, sea salt, and about half the lime zest. Watch for the shrimp to start to turn pink (1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan). Flip them over. Repeat the same seasoning pattern.

Remove from pan and serve with rice. Or, as pictured below, with rice and sautéed corn and red onion. You can even poor any left over cooking liquid on top.

Salt Pepper and Lime Shrimp | Kitchen Notes

 

Return Flight from Hawaii

Vacation is over, a new phone procured, and the kitchen has been in full swing since I woke up this morning. I’m so looking forward to sharing the next food adventures with you. In the meantime, if you’re like me, holiday shopping has barely started. Yet, we’re 10 days away from Christmas.

Here’s a quick list of goodies:

  • For the gourmand in your life, Around the World Sausage Sample Royale
  • For your friend who’s always too busy to cook: invite yourself over, bring some wine, and cook her a meal while she goes about her business. These recipes from Sabrina Ghayour’s new cook book are sure to brighten up a winter day.
  • Treat yourself to a bit of shimmer with this layered ring from Pandora.

From around the web, some wonderfully curated guides from some of my favorite bloggers:

  • I really appreciate the guide from Dinner: A Love Story. There’s whimsy, elegance, and books (my favorite) all wrapped with quick vignettes on why the item is in the guide.
  • Joanna Goddard’s curated list includes specifics for husbands, sisters, best friends, brothers.
  • David Lebovitz’s guide is definitely food centered, but includes great ideas for edible gifts. And let’s face it, how nice is it when we get a gift to enjoy, rather than a nick knack to find a spot for in the house?
  • There were many, many new cook books that came out this here. Here are just a few!

 

A-bay, HawaiiBeing a good blogger and traveler, I took some sweet aerial shots of our little island hopper planning departing from Honolulu. Imagine the coast line and Honolulu’s dense city skyline. Then to conserve battery,  I turned my phone off and preceded to place the phone on the seat next to me. Where it stay, until I disembarked and the phone was finally found by someone who (hopefully) needed it more than I.

The good part, it’s pretty freeing to be phone less. No one that needs to be texted, answers that can’t be easily found by just pulling up Google. (Although, Google, thank you for showing us the route to a delicious dinner in Hilo, courtesy of my parent’s phone).

The picture above is taken with the iPad, in a daring adventure I call operation read at the beach. Later that day, we wandered some of the area and found a small grocery store. Groceries purchased, we proceed to make a lovely and simple pasta dinner – local Hawaiian grown carrots and mainland kale included.

Vacation. It’s pretty blessed.

On an Island Pasta Dinner

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey, chicken or beef
  • 2 lbs of penne pasta, or other short pasta
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large bunch of curly leafed kale
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 3/4 cup of chopped, fresh parsley
  • Red wine – whatever you have on hand
  • 1 jar of Newman’s Own Tomato Basil sauce
  • 1 small can of tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red chili flakes

In large saute pan, brown the meat. Add salt and pepper – about 1/4 teaspoon of each. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Cook the meat until totally browned through. Move the cooked meat to a separate bowl.

Chop the kale into rough stripes. In a cleaned saute pan, cook the kale until the color intensifies just a bit. Add salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes to taste. Set aside the cooked kale.

Chop the onions, carrots, and zucchini into an equal dice. Mince the the garlic.  In a medium warm pan, cook the onions with salt, pepper, and a little sugar for about 20 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the veggies. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat before adding the jar of tomato basil sauce and the small can of tomatoes. Add the meat back to the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Add in your red wine. Cover and simmer at least 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the chopped kale.

Cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Check the pasta a few minutes before the package says it will be done. The cooked noodles should be a little chewy, as you’ll be cooking them a little bit with the rest of the sauce. Reserve one cup of pasta water. Once the noodles are strained, add them to the pasta sauce.

Combine sauce, pasta, and a little bit of pasta water if needed. Allow to cook together for a few minutes. Sprinkle the fresh parsley and serve.

Adjust the recipe depending on what you have in the house. We made this in our vacation rental, with minimal spices and seasonings. It does really go to show you how fresh ingredients and a  little salt and pepper (and red pepper flakes!) make for delicious dinner.

A week ago, we were in Colorado. Beautiful, cool, green Colorado where we spent a long weekend with family in the mountains. We hiked. We ate. We hiked some more. Then we went zip lining. Like the crazy kids that we are. Have you zip lined? It was my first time, and truly was an all day experience. Nothing at all like what I imagined. Our helpful “Sky Rangers” kept us entertained with humor, stories, and little scientific tid bits about the eco-system we were zipping through.

Here’s where the food part comes in: each day, we had these delicious, large, just sweet enough peaches. Fresh from the farm stand, smelling of sun and fruit and wind. Orange and golden like your favorite sunset. I couldn’t help put scoop of a good handful of the peaches and some sugar plums for good measure on our way back to Arizona.

Colorado Peaches | Kitchen Notes

As the fruit was fresh, I chose to bake the sugar plums and two peaches with agave, seeds, nuts, granola, and fresh ginger. We feasted on this peach bake, served over yogurt, for mornings after our return. If you don’t have peaches, try any stone fruit combination.

Baked Peaches and Sugar Plums

  • 2 large fresh peaches
  • About 1 lb of sugar plums
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh or powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small baking dish (about 8×8), half the sugar plums and quarter and dice the peaches. In a separate bowl, use your fingers to combine together the remaining ingredients. Crumble the see and nut mixture over the top of the fruit. Bake for 20 minutes, until the nut mixture is crumbly and golden. Serve over yogurt or enjoy on its own.

Fruit over yogurt | Kitchen Notes Fruit and Nut Bake | Kitchen Notes

View from Sacre Cour Eiffel Tour | Kitchen Notes

No, not that View from the Top. You know, the movie that with Gwyneth Paltrow pre cook-book days? No…well let’s just say that some BFFs and I laughed ourselves silly as the only three people in movie theatre.

But seriously, not the movie. This is the view from the top.

Of Paris!

A true blessing of being somewhere between the tourist and the non-French speaking local, or better yet: of not being on a tight tourist timetable, is that we can leisurely alter our plans if say, there’s a two hour line to climb Notre Dame. Which is just what we did. After force marching Casey up the 300 twisty, windy, slippery steps of Sacre Cour, we decided to make these type of unparalleled views a theme on our last visit.

For Sacre Cour, there was almost no line and the view from the city’s highest point was quite unique. While most of the crowd congregated towards views of the Eiffel Tour, you can walk almost all the way around Sacre Cour’s dome for a 360 view.

Notre Dame | Kitchen Notes

For Notre Dame, be prepared to wait in a line. On a timetable? Go first thing in the morning, before the line has had time to form. Due to space limitations, only about 20 visitors are herded through at a time. Your first stop: a quaint gift shop with a video history. Your second stop: halfway up! Admire gargoyles, views, and if you’re lucky like us, a little bit of rain. The final stop: all the way up! See the city without obstructions. For those with height sensitivities, the walkway is narrow, so keep that mind. Hopefully, it’s not raining during your visit to the top, as there is not covering.

Housekeeping notes: Food posts are coming back, I promise! Aside from this trip, there’s been some work travel, some diy home improvement, and getting caught up on the 30 books in 2013 goal. All which led to some uninspiring dishes unworthy of your time. Look for posts 3x per month through October and November, with things picking up again in December!

One of our “must do” items on this year’s Paris check list was an open air market. This was the first time we’ve been to the city in beautiful weather. With summer in the final stretch, I was excited to take in all the market had to offer. We walked a short 10 minutes from Casey’s mother’s apartment to small open air market along Blvd de Port-Royal. Here we picked up the breakfast I shared while I was still on vacation: fresh chèvre, berries, mirabelles, and a baguette. This before heading to a hearty lunch at friend’s new apartment. .

%d bloggers like this: