Friday, September 25, 2009

San Francisco - First Twenty-Four Hours

Filling the tourist square and our tummies with Shrimp and Crab Cocktail and Sourdough Roll on Fisherman's Wharf.

Next stop - Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop for Hot Chocolate with Caramel and Sea Salt. Outstanding!

Dinner with Dianna's nieces and nephew - Brandon, Lindsay and Ashley - at LuLu's for wood-fired pizzas, pasta, seafood. Antipasti of olives, homemade salumi and eggplant was good, as was everything else.

Breakfast this morning at Dottie's True Blue Cafe, as seen by Dan, our Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives food guide. Next time we'll bring him along! Loved the Grilled Cornbread with Pepper Jelly, Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Gruyere and Black Bean Cakes with Salsa and Eggs.

We're not finished eating yet!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Food Bloggers - Good Food, Good Friends and Great Reading

BlogHer Conference, Chicago - July 2009
Food Blogger Dinner at Greek Islands in Chicago -
L to R - Ree Drummond/The Pioneer Woman,
Jaden Hair/Steamy Asian Kitchen,
Cora/Cora Cooks, and Maris Callahan/In Good Taste

I still can't believe it!

In one week and four days, I'll be flying to San Francisco for the BlogHer Food Conference . . . even though I took too long to decide about going . . . and the conference sold out very quickly . . . and I ended up on the waiting list.

Then one day, not long ago, I was reading one of my favorite blogs and couldn't believe my eyes. Susan at Wild Yeast was going to give away her ticket, so that she could keep her commitment to train for the Nike Women's Marathon. Susan is so generous -- truly, generous -- two times generous! -- to participate in a marathon AND pass along a chance to attend BlogHer Food.

So I entered my name for her ticket, because I really wanted to go!

A week later, Susan emailed to say I was THE WINNER of the much coveted ticket to the sold out conference - all I had to do was get myself to San Francisco for the September 26 event. Reservations made - DONE!

So now, I'm looking forward to some great sessions about writing and photography and all things food, learning from some master food bloggers and photographers. And I'll be visiting with my expanding group of blogging friends.

I'm so excited!

My friend and neighbor Dianna (aka DR) is going with me for a long weekend in SF. We probably won't get all the way to Sonoma, my favorite place on earth, but that's OK. We've got some plans for things we want to do in San Francisco, including catching up with DR's nieces and nephew, all of whom live in the city!

You may remember, I attended the big annual BlogHer conference in Chicago in July. On the first night, a group of twenty-five food bloggers got together for dinner at the Greek Islands Restaurant -- you know that's what food bloggers do at the end of a long day of discussing and writing about food, don't you?

Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen and Lydia Walshin of Perfect Pantry organized the dinner , including herding groups into taxis and handing out goodie bags with spices from two local Chicago foodie favorites -- Penzey's and The Spice House -- to commemorate our Greek dinner in Chicago. The atmosphere was lively, the conversation was animated and the picture taking was frenzied, as we took over three tables at the end of one room in the busy, busy restaurant.

I'm still not too comfortable hauling my big camera around looking for photo ops. in places like busy restaurants. The two pictures here were taken on my little camera, hence the less than stellar quality. You can see good pictures of everyone at the dinner, along with some from conference events, on Kalyn's Kitchen -- she always has a camera and makes time to take pictures!

Food blogger dinner -
BlogHer Chicago - July 2009
L to R - Ree Drummond/The Pioneer Woman,
Cora/Cora Cooks

I know, I know . . . I'll take my camera to San Francisco AND try to remember to take pictures of people . . . and maybe a food shot or two.

While I'm busy getting ready for my trip, I thought you might enjoy reading some of the wonderful blogs from the friends I made in Chicago (and in Boston last October.) Several of these bloggers will be speakers at the conference in San Francisco -- and some of them even have books coming out this fall -- cookbooks, of course!

Have fun reading and I'll be back before you even miss me! With pictures!

Kalyn Denny/Kalyn's Kitchen - the first blogger I met, South Beach recipes

Lydia Walshin/The Perfect Pantry - my second blog friend, writes, cooks, teaches too

Maris Callahan/In Good Taste - my third blog friend, enthusiastic young cook

Alanna Kellogg/A Veggie Venture - fellow food columnist/food blogger in STL

Elise Bauer/Simply Recipes - Google any recipe and you'll find one of Elise's at the top of the list

Ree Drummond/The Pioneer Woman Cooks - as delightful as her blog, cookbook coming soon!

Kristen Doyle/Dine and Dish - busiest blogger, photographer & mother I know

Jaden Hair/Steamy Kitchen - blogger and TV chef, cookbook coming soon!

Sandie Hale/Inn Cuisine - delicious recipes and features from inns around the country

Sara Rosso/Ms. Adventures in Italy - life, food and travel from Italy

Stephanie O'Dea/Crockpot 365 - a crockpot recipe for every day of the year, cookbook coming soon!

Deb "Biggie" Hamilton/Lunch in a Box - Bento lunches for school or work

Kathy Strahs/Panini Happy - Kathy creates beautiful, delicious panini

Cora Sedlacek/Cora Cooks - that's me

Gudrun Enger/Kitchen Gadget Girl - what's your favorite kitchen gadget?

Jennifer Leal/Savor the Thyme - healthy eating for happy families

Kelly Schmickle/Barbaric Gulp - fellow blogger/cooking teacher

Stephanie Tolle/Iron Stef - fellow Midwest food blogger

Anne Marie Nichols/This Mama Cooks - food on a diet can be good!

Hetal Jannu/Show Me the Curry - video Indian food blogger

Anuja Balasubramanian/Show Me the Curry - video Indian food blogger

Krista Nannery/Londonelicious - where to eat in London

Roni Noone/GreenLiteBites - low fat, high fiber, whole foods

Jane Maynard/This Week for Dinner - Jane and I bonded - she has a sister-in-law named Cora!

Kim Sacha/Building Blocks Show - how-to food videos & blog

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Dozen Ways To Love Your Lunchbox

What's inside the box?

Whether you pack a lunch for work or school, here are a few simple reminders that lunch from home does not have to be boring, mediocre or mundane.

Thinking outside the box assures there's good stuff inside, saves time, saves money and puts you in charge of what you eat.

And if you still have a vintage lunchbox like this, you'll be the envy of all your friends, even before they see the delicious things you've packed inside.

Leftovers can be reheated or eaten cold. If you liked it for dinner, why not for lunch? Make extra to save time and money. And yes, cold pizza is a suitable leftover.

Slow Cookers are the answer if you want a non-leftover lunch. They work while you sleep to make soups, stews, chili, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, Italian beef, barbecue, sloppy joes, etc. and have them ready for your insulated container in the morning. Freeze the extras for another lunch, or is that considered a leftover too?

Breakfast can be lunch, especially for anyone who doesn’t like to eat before work, craves an extra ten minutes of sleep, or works a night shift. Bagels and cream cheese, biscuit sandwiches with egg, meat and/or cheese, pancakes or waffles with syrup for dipping or pouring, pancake burritos with fruit, yogurt with fruit and granola, cereal and milk, or even dry cereal aren’t just for breakfast anymore.

Rotisserie chicken from the deli makes fast and easy chicken salad, casseroles, sandwiches, quesadillas, or soups. Buy two – one for dinner and one for lunch!

Sandwiches can be made out of anything you put between two pieces of bread, in a pita, on a roll or croissant, or whatever. Pack the wet and dry ingredients separately and assemble at lunchtime. No more soggy sandwich.

Salads can be made from anything you chop and put in a bowl. Eating salad for lunch doesn’t make you a vegetarian, or even a dieter – it just makes you smart. Once a week, shop, wash, chop, slice, dice and store in the refrigerator a variety of your favorite salad ingredients. Lunch can be tossed together in less than a minute with your choices for the day from containers of lettuce, spinach, tomato, bell pepper, peas, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cucumber, olives, cheese, beans, sliced meats, artichoke hearts, sunflower seeds, nuts, fruit, croutons, chow mein noodles, cold pasta, cold roasted vegetables, bacon, or eggs. Pack the dressing on the side.

Dips and dunkers are not just for parties. Make an easy lunch with hummus, yogurt, peanut butter, Nutella, pizza sauce, salsa, guacamole, caramel, salad dressing, cream cheese or marshmallow fluff paired with your choice of string cheese, pretzels, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, pea pods, pepper strips, apples slices, bananas, orange sections, grapes, cherries, crackers, or chips – although some of those combinations might provoke one of those unfortunate lunchroom incidents.

Eggs are an excellent source of protein anytime. For lunch think deviled eggs, egg salad, sliced eggs in salad, omelets, egg sandwiches etc.

Sweet treats are always a nice surprise. Fruit is the sweet treat of choice, but don’t forget the classics – cookies, brownies, dessert bars, cupcakes, donuts, snack size candy bars, kiddie cereal, nuts, Hershey kisses, and trail mix.

Drinks do more than hydrate for lunch. Freeze bottled drinks like juice and water overnight to keep food cold all morning in an insulated container. And they’ll be just right to drink by lunchtime.

Appearance, flavor, texture, variety and (mostly) homemade foods make lunchbox food more appealing. Mix different flavors and textures in every lunch to avoid boredom. Take care to pack food carefully, so it looks good enough to eat when lunch time arrives.