Grand Lake – Oakland Farmers Market

I spent the day in Oakland yesterday and checked out the Grand Lake – Oakland Farmers Market, which is open year round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the corner of Grand Avenue and Lake Park Avenue.  With so many vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables, and samples a plenty, I’m not sure if it was a better experience for my camera or my taste buds.

© Sarah Milstein 2015

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New Orleans, Louisiana

I’m finally getting around to posting about my trip to New Orleans in January with Greg.  It’s such a crazy place, where on Bourbon Street, there’s live music practically every 10 feet, and bars offering 3-for-1 shots everywhere you turn, and yet, just one block over on Royal Street, stores are filled with pricey antiques, chandeliers, and original Picasso and Chagall paintings.

My friend gave me a Cliff Notes list of places to eat at and things to do in NOLA, given our short visit.  I did my best to hit everything on the list, from a self-guided tour of gluttony that included stops at Cochon and Café du Monde, through the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery, along Royal and Magazine Streets for art and antiques, and to Frenchmen Street to listen to live music.

Although Café du Monde is open 24-hours a day (and worthy of the hype), I wouldn’t recommend drinking a café au lait at night unless you want to stay up.  Also, when ordering a muffuletta, you might want to share it.  I didn’t even come close to finishing the one I ordered at Parasol’s!

© Sarah Milstein 2015

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

I went to a wedding in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico with Greg this past weekend.  As the Huffington Post correctly points out, it’s not easy to get to–unless you live in Los Angeles–but it’s a magical place, especially for a wedding!  Bright yellow and brick-colored buildings line the narrow cobblestone streets, each with unique, carved, wooden doors.  Below are photographs that I took around Parroquía San Miguel Arcángel, at the Mercado de Artesanias, and near La Parada, where we had some amazing ceviche!

© Sarah Milstein 2015

#OrangeOctober Pumpkin Soup

In honor of #OrangeOctober and Halloween, I made pumpkin soup this weekend.  I first made pumpkin soup a few years ago after not getting around to carving my rather large pumpkin.  I later learned that it is much easier (and safer) to cut into and clean out a pumpkin after roasting it in the oven.

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pumpkin, roasted and gutted
  • 32 oz. carton of chicken stock
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped and sautéed
  • 3 celery stalks chopped and sautéed
  • 1 potato cut into large chunks
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt

Preparation and Cooking

  • Pumpkin.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Wash the pumpkin, and place it in the oven on a baking sheet or foil for approximately an hour and 10 minutes.  You may have to cook it longer depending on how large your pumpkin is.  I used a small pumpkin this time and actually think the soup comes out better using a larger pumpkin.  After removing the pumpkin from the oven, wait at least 10 minutes for it to cool before cutting it in half and removing the seeds and guts.

  • Other vegetables.  While the pumpkin is cooling, chop the onions and celery and cut the potato into large chunks.  You can peel the potato if you wish, but it works either way.  Sauté the onions in olive oil on low heat in a large pot.  Once the onions are almost brown, add the celery and sauté for 5 minutes or so.
  • Soup.  Pour the entire carton of chicken stock into the pot over the onions and celery.  Add the cooked pumpkin and potato chunks.  Let everything boil until the potatoes are tender.  Place everything in a food processor and purée until everything is blended.  Then add the cumin, curry powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and sea salt to taste.  I never measure the spices, so have no idea how much I end up putting in.  However, I ended up sprinkling extra cumin on when I was ready to eat it.

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Hopscotch, Oakland

Marissa and I had “brunch” (at 2 p.m.) at Hopscotch in Oakland.  Hello, deliciousness!  Normally, I’m not too impressed with brunch because the food ends up tasting like something I could make at home.  Granted, I should stop ordering things I do make at home.  But this place is different.  We shared the Mushroom Benedict with jidori eggs, miso-hollandaise, and potatoes, the Avocado & Mushroom Salad with smoked salmon and a miso dressing, and the Donuts and Butterscotch Cream, each of which I would definitely get again.  It was really the perfect start before checking out the Oakland Museum.

Hopscotch is located at 1915 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, California.  To see what else they have, check out their menus here!

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Portland Wedding

I went to my good friend Erin’s backyard wedding in Portland this weekend.  Erin looked gorgeous as always and her wedding was so intimate and fun.  Her husband Ian owns Coco Donuts, so their whole house smelled of sweet, delicious fried goodness.  As party favors, they gave out donuts and whole coffee beans roasted by the groom!  So clever.  I had trouble pulling myself away from the flowers by Espe Floral + Foliage.  Apparently I didn’t know a peony from a garden rose.  Rookie mistake.  The florist told me she purchased the garden roses on Monday and babysat them all week.  I really need to learn what goes into babysitting flowers, because my orchid died over the weekend.

I stepped aside once the photographer arrived, so you’ll have to settle for my photos of donuts and flowers.

© Sarah Milstein 2014

Clementine, Los Angeles

I had lunch the other day at one of my all-time favorite lunch spots in LA: Clementine.  You can drool over their menu here.  I love their Basic Tuna and usually get their Greek Salad and add tuna, or get the Clementine Combo (mainly because it comes with a chocolate chip cookie).

Clementine, 1751 Ensley Ave, Los Angeles, California 90024

© Sarah Milstein 2014

The Mission, San Francisco

Valencia is one of my favorite streets in San Francisco (or at least one that is cool and close enough that I frequent it).  There are tons of great restaurants, lots of interesting stores, and good people watching.  Find hilarious cards for any occasion and any relationship (even bizarre and x-rated ones) at Serendipity.  If you’re hungry, there are plenty of great places to choose from, I can vouch for Loló, Tacolicious, and Range.  Or grab a tasty alcoholic drink at Locanda, or a latte at Fourbarrel.  (Better to go to Fourbarrel for good coffee and people watching than to do work because there is (gasp), no wifi.)

I’m a fan of the short rib tacos at Tacolicious.  Order some and settle in for one of the U.S.A. or Mexico World Cup games. For more information, click here!

* Serendipity is located at 803 Valencia Street (at 19th Street).

*Tacolicious is located at 741 Valencia Street (at 18th Street) and open daily from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.  Tacolicious has multiple locations.

*Fourbarrel is located at 375 Valencia Street (at 15th Street), also open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

© 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.

Ingredients

  • 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!

Ingredients

  • 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