Ferry to Alcatraz

Jude and I went on the night tour at Alcatraz.  It rained during the day, but cleared up just in time to leave us with a beautifully ominous sky, perfect to set the mood for visiting the deserted prison (and for a spectacular sunset).  There’s a decent amount of walking, so I’d recommend wearing comfortable shoes.  One woman in line grimaced when she realized she had to cross a puddle in heels.  We debated whether her boyfriend had bought tickets and neglected to mention where they were going, or she was just a moron.

Photos inside the prison, of the sunset, and the rainbow to follow.

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Muir Woods, California

Jude and I went to Muir Woods on our way back from Napa.  There are signs not to talk in the forest, you know, because trees can be so testy when woken.

According to this website, the giant Redwoods there are between 600 and 800 years old.  One of the trees had been splayed open for visitors, so that you could count the rings.  A little girl standing next to us counted the thicker white rings and said, “Mommy, that tree is only four years old!”  Clearly, a future arborist.

For more information about planning a visit to Muir Woods, click here.

By the way, while I did edit these photos slightly, the trees really were that green!

Muir Woods National Monument, 1 Muir Woods Road, Mill Valley, California 94941

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Cliff House & Sutro Baths, San Francisco

My dear friend Jude came to visit me in San Francisco and while I worked half the time, and spent the other time sick with the plague, I did show her a few nice spots.  The Cliff House and Sutro Baths is an excellent date spot.  We had a lovely and platonically, romantic time.  (Don’t worry Brian, I kept my hands to myself.)

Lands End Lookout, 680 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, California 94121

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Homemade-ish Chicken Soup

Making chicken soup from “scratch” isn’t so hard when you start with two cartons of chicken soup.  So maybe this isn’t the cheapest way to make it (or technically “homemade”), but it’s much faster than starting with a whole chicken, and guaranteed to come out tasty.


  • 2 – 32 oz. cartons of low sodium Swanson’s Chicken Soup (or other chicken stock you like)
  • 4 chicken thighs with skin
  • 2-3 carrots peeled, cut in large chunks
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch chunks including greens at the end of the stalks
  • 10 sprigs of Italian parsley coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt to taste

Cooking.  Pour both cartons of chicken soup into a large pot.  Wash the chicken thighs and place them in the broth and bring to a slow boil.  Let the chicken cook for at least 30 minutes.  Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove it and let it cool.  Depending on how much the soup has boiled down, you may need to add several cups of water.  Add the carrots, celery, and parsley to the broth and continue to cook on medium heat.  After the chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull the chicken off the bone and add some (or all) of the chicken back to the soup.  (I opted to discard the skins and bones.)  We added matzo balls at the end (which my mom made separately).  But you could also add rice, noodles, or another grain if you want.

Voilà, homemade-ish chicken soup!

© Sarah Milstein 2014


The Perfect Roasted Chicken

My mom came to visit this weekend and we made my favorite dinner of all time for an early Passover Seder: Matzo ball soup, roasted chicken with red potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and roasted asparagus.  Turns out making the perfect roasted chicken is not particularly difficult.  Scroll to the bottom for the recipe!


  • Whole chicken (approx. 5 lbs)
  • 4-5 red potatoes cut into quarters, leave skin on
  • 4 carrots peeled, leave whole
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and quartered in long spears
  • Garlic powder
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • Paprika
  • 1 orange
  • Olive oil

Preparation.  Remove the gross stuff from inside the chicken.  Wash the whole chicken, including the inside, and pat dry.  Shake garlic powder and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on the top, bottom, and inside of the bird, and shake paprika on the top of the bird.  Place in the center of a large roasting pan.

In a separate bowl, squeeze the juice from the orange and mix it with one quick pour of olive oil.  Set aside.

Cooking (total time 1.5 hours).  Cook the chicken uncovered for 15 minutes at 400°; without removing the bird, lower the temperature to 375° and cover.  At 30 minutes, add the red potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes around the chicken, and pour the orange juice/olive oil mixture over the entire bird.  Cover the bird and vegetables and cook for another hour at 375°.  Remove roasting pan from the oven (and turn it off), and enjoy!

© Sarah Milstein 2014