goodbye mister bill kitty

You are very much loved and will forever be missed.

I am so lucky to have had 17 years with such a smart and handsome kitty. And believe it or not, I didn't pick Bill -- he found his way to me through my record store boss when I was in college.

You see, she was house hunting in Chula Vista, and saw a Free Kittens sign.

She knew I had just moved into my own place -- an improbable Alice in Wonderland style cottage behind a house, with a couple of acres of canyonlands fenced in. And I missed my kitties at home terribly.

Thus, she and her boyfriend Todd picked up this little guy, and headed back to San Diego.

"Did you still want a kitty?" she asked me on the phone while I was at the counter. "Yes..." I replied.

"Well, stay there!" she commanded.

An hour or so later she walked in with this little guy.

He was so tiny he fit into the palm of one hand. Upon meeting me he mewed until I snuggled him into my neck, at which point he started purring and nuzzling my neck. I was immediately in love with him.

He definitely preferred his spacious SoCal yard to our tiny San Francisco apartments. But he made due.

I will carry him around in my heart always.

Summertime Baking

One of the small pleasures of living in San Francisco is our cool weather continues through most of the Summer. Which means we can actually entertain the idea of baking during the berry months without getting up at the crack of dawn.

Here are a few that have tempted me, to be added to the "Must Bake" list:

If I had a deep fryer, I'd also be after a good recipe for Fried Zucchini chips. We had some at Rose Pistola last night. They were so good. So very evil and delicious.

why so quiet

Things have been quiet around here lately not due to lack of things to write about, but because I have been preoccupied with RL. After several weeks of issues, my beloved kitty has been diagnosed with cancer(lymphoma, intestinal). I just haven't felt like writing much.

Staycation Days 2 & 3: Sonoma Valley


Our major daytrip (is an overnighter technically a day trip?) was heading up to Sonoma for a relaxing massage and soak at the Fairmont Mission Sonoma Inn and Spa, and a little bit of wine tasting.

Thanks to the economic downturn, we got a great deal, via the Web, on a suite that had a jacuzzi tub and a balcony, giving us extra lounging possibilities. It was a great room but I have to say its $1500 rack rate (per the notice in the closet) is significantly higher than I would expect given the amenities. That said, thoroughly enjoyed the massage, and the rare treat of Food network on the tv while we ate room service breakfast. Loved Tony Bourdain's tour of Cleveland, including his stop at Lola, the only fine dining establishment I've been to in OH.

Last time we stayed here the mineral baths were nearly deserted. This time, despite it being off season, they were packed, making me doubly glad we had a tub of our own.

Wednesday morning, we packed up and got in the car and headed to Cline and Arrowood vineyards for some serious tasting. These are two of my favorite Sonoma wineries, so rather than hit up a bunch of places, we focused on these 2 for the sake of time and not becoming inebriated (in deference to lunch with my SO's grandma afterwards.)

A standout at Cline was their proprietary blend Oakley 5 Reds. Like the winery employee who poured for us, I wasn't taken with this blend prior to last year. Now I snap up a few bottles whenever I see it -- it's a great wine for under $10 most places. And lucky for us it was on sale at 25% off. Some old vine zinfandel and pinot gris also came home with us.

Our visit to Arrowood got off on the wrong foot. This has been my favorite all around winery for a solid decade. I try to make it up there about once a year to buy a case, including a few bottles of their amazing late harvest white dessert wines. There were 3 other couples tasting when we arrived, with only one employee pouring (while another stocked shelves and pored over paperwork behind the counter.)

The other couples had a decade or two on us and as a result, were getting more of our host's attention. When she asked us, towards the end of our tasting, if it was our first time visiting the winery, I told her "No, we come up at least once a year. And Arrowood is my favorite winery, atually." A few moments later, we were offered a taste of the dessert wines and what had been a lackliuster experience thus far was salvaged.

The show stopping wine at Arrowood was the luscious, thick, golden Select Late Harvest White Reisling from Saralee's Vineyard. No words I have can do this wine justice. We bought two bottles, with the intention of giving one as a gift, but we shall see if we are actually able to part with it...

More photos here.

Staycation Day 1: Muir Woods

IMG_0082 IMG_0085

Every year since I started working, I've taken a week or two off from work in April for vacation. I hate standing in long lines or visiting beautiful places overrun with other visitors, so this has been the best time of year to plan on a trip. I have this week off from work. But for a variety of reasons, including the craptastic economy and a sickly kitty cat, I'm not off on one of my more typical cross-continent vacations. Instead, it's a Bay Area staycation (a stay-at-home vacation).

Although my significant other was looking as though he might stay in bed 'til noon, I managed to hassle him into getting up and out the door for our Marin County trek today.Today's daytime plans were not too ambitious-- a leisurely drive up Highway 1 to Pelican Inn for lunch, then on to Muir Woods for a hike.

Thanks to this being a post-rush hour weekday morning, we were at Pelican Inn less than a half hour from leaving home, even with the inevitable Highway 1 roadwork lane closure. The fish and chips with non-mushy peas ( /cry) and the "english dip" roast beef sandwich weren't anything special, but you really could not ask for a place to eat that's any more convenient to the park. And the Fuller's London Pride on tap would have made it a must stop regardless imho.

Post-lunch, we made a short drive to the park's parking lot, then started the walk in. It's amazing how crowded Muir Woods can be even on a weekday. Then again, I suppose many of the families there were on Spring Break and trying to tire out their children...

We did the two-mile loop trail, then headed back into the city, via a leisurely Highway 1 drive.

I often forget just how close we live to Marin County and its myriad hiking trails. We just picked up a couple of comprehensive local hiking trail/day trip books: Moon California Hiking (Moon Handbooks) and Golden Gate Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Walk, Bike in San Francisco & Marin. This should provide  some encouragement to get out and about in the greater San Francisco Bay Area more often.


More photos here.

Mini Bluberry Muffins

Made these babies again today.


In my fabulous mini muffin tray. MMMM. 


I love that I can just use these silicon pans without prep -- no liners, no buttering each cup. And they make perfect teeny muffins that even the dieting ladies at my office will eat. That's what I call a win/win.

Non-related, this place has been devoid of photos for the last few months due to my fabulous new computer. Leopard broke my ancient copy of Photoshop. And though I tried to find a free or chea or lite photo app, I ended up not taking pictures out of annoyance at not being able to play with them the way I like to.

But last week, I gave in and bought Adobe Photoshop CS4 . And I love it. Worth every penny.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Tapas Classes

CUESA, Dacor, and Parties That Cook just announced a series of hands-on cooking classes in their teaching kitchen. The two-hour classes will focus on "tapas with a California and international flair." Recipes include: Crostini of Roasted Asparagus Prosciutto and Teleme Cheese, Fava Bean and Sweet Pea Hummus, and Sweet Pea Galettes with Bacon and Sour Cream.

Wednesday nights this spring (April 1, April 15, April 29, May 6, and May 27).

Classes are $45 per person including 2 glasses of BR Cohn wine.  

Nilla Wafer Pudding

It has already been established within these pixels that I do love white trash 70s food. It is the comfort food my mom made while I was growing up, so I can't help it.

Tonight, I'm making Nilla Wafer pudding.


1 box Nilla Wafers
1 box instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk for the pudding
2 bananas

Make pudding. Line small round dishes with Nilla wafers on sides and bottom. Slice rounds of bananas and cover the bottom layer of Nilla wafers with them. Pour 1/3 of the pudding over the top. Make a layer of Nilla Wafers on top of that, then bananas, then pudding, repeat again.

Pop into a 350 degree oven and heat until warm throughout (15-20 min). Enjoy the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

Shredded Pork: A Love Affair

There. I've admitted it. I have been having a love affair with shredded pork. I have been making it almost every week for a good 6 months. Sometimes I slather it with red hile hot sauce. Other times those great guys at the Golden Gate butcher shop in the Ferry Building season it with their special pork rub. I am equal opportunity with this love-- it's fabulous whichever way it's seasoned.

Last week's was the extra spicy kind, and I had a good amount of it leftover which I froze. I am using those leftovers for dinner tonight, with some refried beans, as enchilada filling. I like to make casseroles or easy oven dishes on nights we are playing World of Warcraft.

Hell, I just like to make casseroles.

Use It or Lose It -- Local Restaurant Edition

With the economy continuing to tank, and many of us worried about the stability of our jobs -- or worse yet, recently laid off -- we're all cutting back on spending. No more facials. Buying less expensive groceries. Not splurging on a new pair of shoes or a handbag that catches our eye.

And all of that is incredibly prudent. What I have been disappointed to see, however, is how many folks are substituting dining at their neighborhood restaurants -- owned and operated by your neighbors -- in favor of eating at cheap (quality and cost) chains. And don't even get me started on the folks who are not eating out at all and buying everything at WalMart. Go read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and get back to me on that, k?

Personally, I am making more of an effort to eat out at moderately priced neighborhood places when I get the yen to go out. Without the ongoing support of diners, these small business owners are not able to pay their rent and their employees. And eventually, without revenue, you can see favorite places shuttered (Eater SF listed 25 places that closed this January.)

Likewise, I know many folks who have cut back on organic produce or stopped going to their local farmers markets, citing cost savings. I think you can, however, be selective about what you buy and still find some good deals while supporting your local small farmers. Diverting your grocery budget to less healthy mass-marketed prepared foods is not going to save you money in the long run, in addition to not supporting your local community.

We are all being more cautious about our spending, but is local food/restaurants the best place for folks to cut back? I don't think so. Scale back your Netflix by one DvD per month, ratchet down the cable subscription, or drink one fewer corporate owned coffee house latte per week instead! Your neighbors will thank you.

unscheduled hiatus

Thanks to ongoing issues with my DSL provider, Earthlink, I am now DSL-less until my new ISP gets me back up-and-running. This coincided with my workplace blocking all blogs and blogging tools, so I have been scarce. But give me a week or so and I should be back.


Recession Parties Anyone?

I think we should totally have Recession Parties this holiday season, rather than traditional festive spare-no-expense fancy holiday parties. Many corporate entities have already canceled holiday parties, but lack of budget shouldn't mean lack of ability to socialize with friends. In that spirit, I am bringing my WT dip to our department potluck, with pre-cut carrot and celery sticks and Ruffles.

If invited to such a party during non-work hours, if the host(ess) had heating facilities for their fellow potluckers, I would bring my tuna casserole with cheez-its topping. Who said being frugal can't be fun and tasty? And as a bonus for the ladies, instead of buying a new outfit, a recession party would be the right opportunity to wear that bridesmaid dress your childhood best friend assured you would totally be re-wearable...

Giving Back During the Holidays

My work group is spending a morning at the San Francisco Food Bank this year instead of having a holiday party. With everything going on in the economy right now, it feels like a better way to spend our time and limited resources. Our group is going to help sort donations in the warehouse, but there are multiple ways you can also help.

1.) Drop off your food in one of the SF Food Bank barrels throughout the City. There are numerous barrels in office buildings downtown, plus bins in Bay Area Whole Foods, Safeway and Lucky's market.

2.) All day today, December 9th, Whole Foods Market will hold donate five-percent of the day's gross sales from Whole Foods Market stores in the greater Bay Area to the Bay Area Food Banks.

3.) Grab some friends and do a volunteer shift at the food bank:

San Francisco Food Bank
900 Pennsylvania Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94107

Continue reading "Giving Back During the Holidays" »

Circus Animals Saved by Kelloggs!

I posted a while back that my favorite frosted cookies, Mothers Animal cookies, were about to become obsolete after the bankruptcy of Mother's Cookies. But it appears that wily Kelloggs has stepped in and bought their recipes...which means these happy confetti sprinkled treats --and the Taffy's and Iced Oatmeals -- may again make grammer school lunches everywhere a tastier place. Yeah!

Toasting 75 Years Since the Repeal of Prohibition...Huzzah!

San Francisco is a city that loves its libations. So it's probably not really surprising that we're hosting a few Prohibition-repeal events, namely a parade this afternoon led by the 21st Amendment Brewery folks. Details on the events behind the jump.

Continue reading "Toasting 75 Years Since the Repeal of Prohibition...Huzzah!" »

Have a Very Happy Thanksgiving

Although this blog has been woefully neglected as of late (yes, you can blame the gaming blog) and the World of Warcraft expansion that came out 2 weeks ago), it is neither abandoned nor forgotten.

I am in back-to-back meetings til 5:00 and am then taking the next 3 days off in celebration of my favorite holiday -- Thanksgiving. I have always enjoyed the fact that it is a holiday truly based on conviviality -- we gather with friend and family for the purpose of sharing food and wine and conversation. What more can you want form a holiday?

This year, as per the past few years, I am playing the role of guest, rather than co-hostess for dinner. Overall that is fine by me since a big dinner clean up is not one of my favorite things to do. However, I do miss making my own gravy. I'd gotten pretty good at it. I'll have to make us a very small turkey for New Year's just to have an excuse for gravy making...

A very happy thanksgiving to all of you U.S. peeps. I hope you get to share some quality time with the people you love.

Broccoli Slaw

I ran in to the Bristol Farms grocery store near my workplace on my lunch hour yesterday, to pick up materials to create a chicken stir fry for dinner. And that is where I found -- and purchased-- a pre-shredded and bagged broccoli slaw.

Basically, it's a bag of matchstick-sized slivers of broccoli (minus their floret tops), shredded carrots and some red cabbage. But mostly it's just the broccoli. I ended up using the slaw, plus red onions, more carrots, and a red bell pepper to make one of my best stir-fries yet.

This is monumental in our household because...I am a broccoli hater. As in I pick it out of food at home and avoid it when eating out. I just never liked the texture if its florets.

But these crunchy little slivers of broccoli without the tops? They were so tasty! And I am now looking forward to finding more ways to incorporate them into dinners. Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me...

Coming Soon to a Cocktail Near You...Whipahol

My friend Writer's To-Do List sent me a link to this article about a cocktail confection that you may soon see on the menu of your favorite drinking establishment (at least if you are in the Southern part of the U.S.): whipahol.

As a big fan of hard sauce on my pie and bread pudding. I'm surprised it took this long for someone to think of producing and selling boozy-sugary-fluff in a can. Coffee with Amaretto whipahol anyone?