Thursday, December 28, 2006

princess reggiano (holiday raviolis part 2)

My kid definately takes after me in the application of parmesan. I remember as a kid putting a layer of it on anything allowed. It was the same with romano. Minestrone got three applications if the portion was prodigious and the bowl it was served in was deep enough. Layer one would be applied, and the "skin" that formed on contact with the hot soup would be devoured while still gooey. Layer two would be applied, and if you obliterated the first quickly enough the soup would still be hot enough to melt this. If the bowl was deep enough, and this was often the case if you managed to melt the previous two layers of cheese, you could throw on a third layer, warm it sufficiently to release the sheepy goodness of the cheese and snarf that down too. And then came seconds, because despite the cost of the cheese, the soup is cheap to make (today it is a mere $20 for 8 quarts, WITH great ingredients).

What can I say? My broccoli would be equally obscured from recognition if this was my plate as a kid. When I saw the monkey had "sprinkled a little" of the reggiano on her raviolis, enabling them to look like moguls near a collection of dwarfed firs, I recognized the gene and took the picture. This was our second serving of ravioli from this batch and it was on x-mas night that I served this.

With the subject of this post being concealed from view, the suspense must be killing you. Shall we get on with it and construct some ravs for that there sauce from the other day?

Day two began with making a dough and letting it rest. Then I mixed the filling and let it rest. While they rested, I went to the store. Even though I was making ravs, there is no rest during the cookie season that had started. (Just kidding, more like your mouth gets no rest incessantly grazing on broken pieces and "rejects" that had been around for a few days already.) The hour before dinner I removed the ingredients from the fridge and got down to work.

The filling consisted of spinach sauteed in olive oil that had been infused with sage earlier. To this I added fresh parsley, oregano and rosemary, salt and pepper, heated briefly and then set aside to cool. The ricotta mixed well with this, and I used a few eggs to finish the bonding process. This acts as a nice paste for spreading and is difficult to stand over without salivating on it. With this in place, I turn 180 degrees, take a step, and roll out number 2. With the top sheet in place it is time for the best part: using the pin.

After placement of the second sheet, you simply roll the pin while applying a consistent downward pressure, from front to back, that is if there is just the right thickness of filling, and you have accounted for the inevitable squishing forward that occurs. After a little practice you can easily roll out some 60 or so "survivors" with each attempt. Which to me makes alot more sense than the prevailing mold and stamp technique.

It is a genovese style of making raviolis, and involves a piece of kitchen equipment that few here know about. Like the folks who SELL THEM. When I purchased my latest model a few years ago, I initially made a request for a "ravioli rolling-pin." The sales clerk said "a what?" and brought me to the section of the store containing "anything that could be considered a rolling-pin." When we arrived, I spotted the pin, picked it up, and began admiring it while daydreaming of ravs. The clerk said "oh, that's what that is." He pointed to the chef behind a nearby counter and mentioned that she actually did the ordering for them. I approached and asked if they could order a larger sized one and she thought about it and said no. Then she admitted that she may order them but doesn't know how they work. Am I really in Dean and Deluca? In Napa County? It just shows to go you that often times knowledge resides in tradition, not corporations. I gave her a brief description of process and walked out happy, that having given away my last pin as a gift, I now had a replacement. And amused, very amused, when it dawned on me that you can school folks in food, as I'm sure a fair portion of the staff was, but food is a great big wide world, and I have some knowledge here and there that is definately handed down. I love the niche I occupy in my family tradition of pasta and with this batch, the monkey supplied some downward force, becoming the fourth generation to see the way of the pin since the knowledge left "the old country" along side much more.

Thank you Nana C. And Grandma. I think of you two often. Three cheers for raviolis! Now how is that for a christmas colored meal? It even snowed in Oakland this year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

beef and porcini tomato sauce (holiday raviolis part 1)

I love christmas. I love the excuse to make decadant things, you know stuff that takes FOREVER to make or involves multiple days and layers of creation to arrive at mouth bliss. Raviolis definately qualify for satisfying these criteria, and prior to the cookie crunch of last week I managed to take two days creating a new version of them. Three cheers to the reason for the season!

Day one involved a ton of stuff. It started with a run to the local market that houses our new source of good beef. When I discovered that Baron's of Alameda was now in Star Grocery, within about a mile of my house, I thought "Marin Sun available in the hood, I just gotta make ravs!" Grandma's version calls for at least two different types of meat to be included in the ravioli (chicken, pork, veal, usually the first and last but I just can't do it), and beef in the sauce. I thought about it a while and concluded that I would venture into new territory by sticking to some form of fresh cheese with herbs in the filling this time. The sauce would remain beef, being as though I've been feeling good about supporting Marin Sun Farms, and didn't want to stray too far from what I've made in the past.

The butcher gave me some bones from a prime rib to start my stock. I roasted these in the oven for a darker stock (but in retrospect should have started off with more bones). After these were done, I put the veggies in the pot to saute a bit, then added the bones, boiling water, and my own little bouquet garni (I've been wanting to say that one for a while now). This concoction was boiled together for about five hours, strained, and then reduced in volume by half.

With the stock complete it was time to start the red sauce. The beef chunks get sauteed in olive oil with garlic cloves after being dredged in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. While this happens, the dried porcini need to be soaked in the stock. I chop the dried shrooms somewhat finely and add to a few cups of hot stock. When the beef reaches a nice dark brown, the bowl of soaked porcini and stock gets dumped in with the beef. Cover and turn this way down to a slight simmer and allow to cook until the beef is starting to fall apart. This usually takes at least two hours and gives plenty of time for the rest of the vegetable ingredients to be put into a large pot (8 quart) and boiled together to make a nice red sauce.

With the beef all tender and the red sauce ready, I married the two so they could cook together for at least another hour while I made some ricotta. I started with using a half gallon of whole Straus and two cups of Berkeley buttermilk, heating together over a medium high burner. Stirring the mixture until it reaches somewhere around 140-150 degrees (I no longer check it with a thermometer, but it seems to be steaming nicely at this point) I stop, and begin scraping the bottom of the pot gently, trying to stir it as little as possible in order to free the curds that form without breaking them. These will float to the top and the milk will look like it has cottage cheese floating in it. When the milk gets to the high 170's it will suddenly separate into easily distinguishable curds and whey. There is no mistaking it. One moment you have milk with lumps, the next you have water and cheese curds. At this point the ricotta is done.

Remove the pot from the stove and using a ladle, begin pouring the whey through the cheesecloth lining a strainer. It is not critical, but saving the whey by having another bowl under the strainer will enable you to use this nutritious by-product for something else, like watering some plants, as they apparently like the stuff. With most of the whey removed from the pot, start gently ladling the curds into the strainer. When complete gather the edges of the cloth into a knot and tie around something which it can hang from (the kitchen faucet is handy) and let it drip. After a half hour or so, depending on ambient conditions, the ricotta should be ready for your recipe.

At the very least, the cheese should be ready to sample. But with so much sauce cooling on the counter, and spaghetti in the cupboard, I just had to try out the combo to gain some sort of perspective on how they should come together the next day. After this bowl I was thinking ricotta, spinach and parsley with sage ravioli. Yeah, that's the ticket. Yeah.......and that, would be part 2.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

pre-christmas cookie crunch

On the first day of cooking
my monkey made for me,
some oatmeal vegan cookies
(with grandma that is)

On the second day of cooking
I made for my monkey,
fun stripey cookies,
and we ate more of grandma's cookies

On the third day of cooking
we mixed and mashed and beat,
nana's biscotti,
noshed some stripey cookies,
and raisens from grandma's cookies

On the fourth day of cooking
I made for my monkey,
citrus stripey cookies,
we sampled some biscotti,
and tried the other stripeys,
and finished crumbs of grandma's cookies

On the fifth day of cooking
I made for my monkey,
christmas english muffins!
we had some citrus stripeys,
a few more biscotti,
a neapolitan or two,
sniffing the bag, dreaming of cookies......

Okay, so the last ones aren't cookies I know, but I did use a cookie cutter to get the shape so I thought they qualified.

As the song makes fun of, we have been making cookies everyday for about a week, and eating those that came before with each successive seating. I haven't had much time for writing down much but have taken a few pics over the past few adventures and will post them after x-mas when there is a little "lounge" time to be had.

May thoughts of sugarplum fairies dancing with cookies fill you with glee!
Merry Christmas all and peace be with you!
And oh yeah, happy solstice!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

feeling a little anadromous

Winter rains around here mark the beginning of the local Coho run. It happens in a few places around the Bay Area, but the Lagunitas creek watershed in Marin is the star for viewing. Last year at the end of the season I saw one pair of fish in the creek under the Kent Lake spillway. It was a thrill, being the only spawning salmon I had seen in my life, with my own eyes that is and not on a PBS show about Alaska. This past Wednesday I went for a drive, hoping to see some fish at the beginning of the run and witnessed some dozen or so over the course of an hour. Not exactly thick with fish, but impressive nontheless.

The next night we had some baked salmon fillets with steamed cauliflower and quinoa. I should point out that the fish here came from Alaska via TJ's. It was thawed the night before and simply baked with some salt and pepper. Mmmmm....salmon.

This morning, I brought our family out to view the fish in Lagunitas creek. I told the Monkey how the fish were all grown up after spending a few years in the ocean, and how they were now adults that were ready to be mommies and daddies. They go up the rivers and creeks where they were born to go lay eggs. After that the adults get washed back down (euphemistically speaking) into the ocean and the eggs hang out in the gravel and sand for a while before being born. Then they spend some time in the creek (until they're about your size honey, just kids really), when they go downstream and out to the ocean for a few years, before coming back to be mommies and daddies themselves. "Oh, do the children go out to the ocean where their mommies and daddies are?" Yeah honey, only they never actually see them again, because the ocean is soooooo big (that and because they have been thoroughly recycled at this point).

The viewing was equally good, with a few pairs of fish in various places along the creek. The females occupied a "redd" where the gravel in the creek bottom was an obvious lighter color from being washed by her. This action literally rubs the scales from her tail, making it look white compared to the rest of her pink and golden body. Sometimes a corresponding male (with a more pronounced red color, larger size, and intact tail coloring) would be swimming beside her, and chasing away other males on the prowl up and down the creek from one redd to another.

It may not be like areas to our North, with larger populations of fish, but it warms my soul to see them here. This is a federally protected species, so it is quite awesome to see the biological drive to procreate play out in the open like this, on the side of a road within 30 miles of my home. It is truly a wonder that these fish can come back up the watershed from where they originated to start the cycle over again, and a miracle of sorts that they are still doing it today.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

colorful holiday cheesecakes

When I shop for sweet potatoes, I always hold a sort of hope that a taste of the islands can be found. You see, on the two trips I have taken to the Big Island, we delighted in sampling some of the local produce: coconut, bananas, papaya, pineapple, guava, longan, and some of the more familiar to us tomatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes. Only one thing, these sweet potatoes were purple. Heavenly, yummy, purple, gorgee-ous little sweet potatoes. Some of the local restaurants served it up as a side dish, to say a seared ahi steak or grilled ono fillet, in the form of light and fluffy lavender mountain, with a red colored salad sprig stuck in the top, representing lava spewing out. I fell in love with this form of mashed potatoes at first tasting, and we later purchased some raw ones at the local farmers' market and tried mashing them up ourselves. Well, our selections in lodging somehow never managed to have the right utensil, namely a masher in a kitchen drawer. We made do with forks and big spoons, and plenty of cream and butter I believe, and they ended up palatable. If only we could find these back home....

Shopping at "The Bowl" one afternoon last summer, I'm cruising the tuber section in produce and see something called an okinawan sweet potato. I look at it a little closer and see that the flesh looks like it has purple streaks in it. Ohhhhh, could it of...........those.........hawaiian ones..........? I make my way toward the register to read a book I brought from home for entertainment while standing in line (or so I wish, about every-other time I'm in the place) and purchase somewhere near ten pounds of them. I get home and google it. I had found them. The very thing. I was so happy. I looked up a few recipes and found something entitled "Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Haupia Frosting " by anonymous locals. One look at the ingredients and you could tell they meant island locals. So, for thanksgiving last year we had this purple cheesecake for dessert.

Looking up the recipe again yielded this site:

Sadly, this year I have not seen the sweet little purple things. I've been back to the source, then another, but without luck. I should probably check chinatown, as I did last year and found them, but you see, most of the crop comes from Hawaii. This doesn't sound too bad right? Think about it a little harder and consider the requirement that the USDA has on irradiating them first, before shipping them the 2,500+ miles (at least) to your door. Purchasing them, should I even find them, is something I just can't do now, for either of those reasons, when there are just so many great locally grown sources of equally delicious tubers. So this year, our family has happily plugged away at eating our papas in the white, yellow and orange color scheme. And as it happens, this week found leftover baked garnet yams, sitting in the fridge, just waiting to be made into something else. Sister A was spending some time with us, so technically it was a holiday and why not, let's do another colorful cheesecake!

Based on making the purple variety twice, adjusting for my own preferences, and of course altering the recipe into one more accommodating to my ingredients, it became something like this. So for a first time, I shall put something into an actual recipe form (of sorts), so here goes:

Garnet Ginger Grenadine Cheesecake (a work in progress)

1 cup chopped pecans (fine)
1 cup mashed graham crackers
1/2 cup buttery stick
2 tbsp chopped candied ginger

combine and pat into that fancy pan you have for such occasions and bake at 350 for ten or so minutes

1 and 3/4 cup mashed garnet yam (1 cup at least, or up to nearly 2 depending on consistency and size of eggs used)
3 jumbo eggs (use large sized if using only 1 cup potato, more like 4 large or 3 jumbo if using nearly 2 cups potato)
1 pound cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

combine these together in a large bowl, preferably in a mixer to save your arms from breaking off. when finished, wrap your pre-baked and now cool pan with tinfoil (if using a springform pan) and pour this mixture in. place the pan into a large roasting pan that will hold it and lots of boiling water around it (should you consider a water bath, which I highly recommend) pour in boiling hot water (around the cheesecake pan please) and bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes. it should be hardly done (no more jiggle in the middle). carefully take the roasting pan out of the oven, making sure to not scald your arms off with sloshing HOT water. DO NOT POUR WATER OUT while cheesecake is still in the roasting pan. it will slide to one end and not being horizontal at this high of a temperature will destroy it. siphon off the hot water with a turkey baster or the like and then remove the cheesecake pan from the roasting pan. place on a cooling rack and leave for several hours on the counter until it is totally cool. mix up 1 cup of sour cream with a few tablespoons of grenadine. pour this over the cheesecake and smooth it out. place in the fridge to chill for a few hours before serving. when chilled, place pomegranate seeds on the top, hopefully in a pattern more thought out and interesting than the one above.

Oh how I love leftovers like these. Because when the weather outside is dreary and gray, I feel like wrapping myself up in a blanket and snuggling down with a nice piece of cheesecake. Besides, it's kinda funny to see the colors of Fall on a plate, and be reminded that this weather will pass (after a few more months of rain that is) as this season of colorful cheesecake comes to an end and ushers in a new year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

north oakland home scene of double cancercide

Tuesday morning, Oakland CA.
-Sourdoughpress Intl.-

The remains of at least two individuals were discovered today outside a home in North Oakland, victims of an apparent double cancercide. A grisley scene horrified area locals, challenging them to stay focused and go about their typical morning routine, in what they believed would be another great day in this quiet neighborhood. "I was just going out the door to work, when I noticed a peculiar smell," reported the neighbor closest to the scene, where the remains of the victims were found amongst the refuse of a local family, leading some to question the motives involved in the incident.

The victims are believed to be members of a Northern California gang from the other side of the "Gate" known by some as the Magisters, and are yet to be fully identified. Preliminary sources came up with a few leads including the nick-names "Left-E" and ironically enough "Din-ner." According to one Magister youth, he remembered "seeing them all the time, and then gone" from the typical hangout, at some point late last week. DNA analysis will confirm the identities of those who found themselves part of a horrendous chain of events carried out by an area local and suspected Sapien.

A rash of recent cancercide has hit this area of North Oakland, as it seems to each year as it draws to a close. As detective Hardcastle of the Oakland DFG pointed out this past October: "We're coming up on our toughest season for tensions between the Magisters and the Sapiens, partly because of longstanding, family taste." He went on to add "and if there is a glut when the coming season opens, watch out, things could really heat up for this ancient rivalry."

After the remains were discovered, detectives scanned the neighborhood, concentrating around a local "market," where it is believed the victims had spent their last few days prior to their cancernapping, around 11:15 Monday morning. Hard as it may be to believe, members of the Sapiens have a facility in this quiet neighborhood that reportedly houses captured Magister members before they disappear, the victims of demand for their flesh. A blog posted shortly after the news came out had a few things to add to the case. Anonymous sources reported: "We were just chillin' in the tank, where we all hang out. It was as typical a morning as you could imagine around here. Sure, a few of us had disappeared already, but there was no sense of panic or anything" as coming from an eyewitness at the scene of the cancernapping, who also wished to remain anonymous. "It happens all the time at this joint. It's what Hapuku is known for really." (Hapuku translates as: one-way to death, in the local magister dialect.) Another eyewitness added "If you end up here, after being hauled off the ocean bottom, and you already spent a night confined to a cage to make matters worse, it seems nice just hangin' with your pinchin' buddies, but the truth is, we all get taken away from the party soorner or later. I guess it was just their time."

Evidence at the "market" pointed toward a ghastly end for the individuals involved. The suspect was reported to have been with a smaller accomplice, both of them with audible gurgling sounds emanating from their stomachs when they nabbed the victims, making a getaway and leaving two crumpled green pieces of paper on the counter. Employees remembered the bearded fellow, who seemed nice enough, but kept looking down seemingly occupied with something under the counter. It is also reported that he smiled a little too big when he approached the "tank" where the victims were last seen. It is believed that the suspect handed a plastic bag containing the two victims to his younger accomplice (now undersotod to be a female around three years old), as her smaller stature would remain mostly hidden from view by the market's coolers, boxes and tanks.

For detectives on the scene, the remains in the trash outside the home were only the beginning. Upon first entering the home in question, everything appeared normal. But a quick glance inside of this urban refrigerator revealed evidence that could only point to murder. The victim's disarticulated legs were found amongst fresh parsley with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. The suspects had obviously tried to stop the spread of aromas that are associated with such carnage. It was a sight that could get a persons stomach going. Detectives combed the home and immediate environs for further clues to what went wrong for the gang members involved.

"Typically what we see in cases like these is a suspect (in this case a Sapien member) who appears normal to his neighbors and friends, but harbors a deep seated lust for the flesh of young individuals" reports Lieutenant Carapace with the Farallon chapter of the DFG (Department of Fish and Gastronomy). "They usually take their victims alive, back to their home, where a boiling pot of water awaits. The victims are usually dispatched quickly, as in some circles it is believed that this lends toward a fresher taste. Fact of the matter is: a gruesome death ensues. Gastronomic-minded plans often await the bodies, followed by a quick clean-up of the evidence. Often times, the only clue we have is a lingering smell of what some decribe as the sea." He made further note that if the evidence is not found within a week of the murder, that the bodies will have to be looked for elsewhere. "It seems that the murderers have an entrenched system of disposal that they readily use. Truthfully, less than three percent of such murders are ever reported, however 90 percent of that is from the evidence left outside the home and witnessed by neighbors olfactory senses" he lamented.

Thanks to modern forensics, evidence at the scene paints a detailed picture of just what happened to the victims after their murder. It appears that the family who rents the home is host to a repeat offender. This suspect may have worked in conjunction with the smaller individual, possibly an off-spring, but from clues left behind, he obviously was experienced at dispatching his victims and likely did the killing alone. Magister sources believe this case to be the work of a notorious serial killer and have dubbed him the "Merciless Monkey Wrangler" as he is always with a younger "monkey" (slang for little Sapien) and has been known to rip their fellows apart while still alive.

"One thing's for sure" said Carapace, "this guy cooked up the victims into several dishes. It is a learned behavior that some suspects employ to spread the evidence of the killing, rendering it harder to find as the days go by. I didn't need the artists recreation of the ensuing meal involved. I could tell by the smell, this guy was a regular quiche lover!"

Forensic scientists with experience in such cases believe that portions of the victims became a chilled bowl of remains in a simple vinaigrette, and yes a quiche, that included leeks, chevre and leg-meat from only one of the deceased, leaving a chilling detail yet to be answered. Another odd clue was that a bowl consisting of steamed carrots was likely involved, probably evidence of the "killer's guilty conscience screaming out that the meal could have been made without the deaths of the victims," reported an analyst working on the case for the Farallon DFG.

"If I had to sum this case up in one word, it would be pre-meditated" said Carapace. "I beg all of our kind, if you're out having a good time scavenging, and you run into a bunch of your pals loitering around a cage, don't join them. I repeat, don't join them, go the other way, search for a clam or something, I mean come on, use your claws for what they were designed; go tear something out of a shell! Please! Don't become another victim of a different species' food choices."

"I tell you what," Carapace was overheard saying as he left the scene of the murders "if this guy ever finds himself at the bottom of the ocean, in OUR neighborhood, well, let's just say that I couldn't guarantee his safety........if you know what I mean."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

plain jane bread (or re-inventing the wheel)

Last Tuesday the monkey was in the throes of a nasty stomach virus. Poor thing. She yakked for quite awhile and it was early in the morning when she stopped. H slept with her that night, and I wondered what else I could do to help. I could feed the sourdough right? Yeah, bake a loaf of plain white bread for the delicate recovery into eating food, that always accompanies such experiences. And for Z, I know that she just loves bread, in just about any form, so at the very least, I could get some bread in her in the near future.

Wednesday morning H went to work and the monkey lay around. She was on the couch watching "Wonderpets" and was saying she was cold. "Wrap me like the burrito daddy, with the blanket." What was that honey? "I'm cold daddy. Wrap me up!" I commenced tucking the edges of the folded blanket around her. She enjoyed it enough to pull it off so that the process may be repeated. She wasn't really smiling though, so the sicko-meter was still reading at least half. Can I get you anything sweetie? "No." How about some orange? (citrus has been a big hit lately) "No, I'm not hungry"

I pulled out the starter, fed from the night before, and it was bubbly and happy. I gave it a thorough stirring and measured out about a cup into another bowl. I added 1+ cups of water and about 2 1/2 cups of bread flour. I mixed it quickly and left it to get all spongey.

See, believe it or not, I have read about doing sourdough as a sponge first, but have never attempted it myself. Well, actually this isn't totally true, I've done it for english muffins and it is quite tasty, but for just a big loaf or baguette, no. I have been playing with a sourdough starter now for 9 months, basically unsupervised, so my experiments, though based in the published world of sourdough technique, are really me re-inventing the wheel of dough and learning the hard way, by repetitive motion, how to produce a good bread. I am an apprentice, with only my senses as master.

The sponge did its thing for around five hours, until it was threatening to vacate the bowl it was in. I stirred in a few more cups of bread flour, a little over a teaspoon of salt, and tablespoon or more of a nice green-hued olive oil. After mixing by hand brought the dough together, I put it onto the board and got down to thumping, slapping, and twisting it into a fluffy white dough, appropriate for a plain jane loaf. All white flour, salt, water and oil.

Hey sweetie......."Yes dada?" Can I get you anything, maybe some applesauce or something? "No." You sure, maybe we could have a little chocolate afterwards? "No, It's okay, I'm not hungry right now." She is DEFINATELY still sick. Well, the bread will be awhile more anyway.

After the dough had risen once, I split it into two baguettes and a free-form loaf. Before going in the oven, the dough had at least doubled in size. This stuff was going to be very light. Only one thing, after turning on the oven, the power went out. First a small on/off flicker, then maybe 5 seconds of on. Hmmm. What was that abou?[DARK] We fished out our flashlights, lit a few candles, determined that the heater wouldn't work, or the hot water heater (what was in the tank hot, but cooling despite its protective insulation I'm sure). But the old gas stove, dating to a time when electricity was not standard in most homes works just fine when the power is out. It contains no technology that involves an electrical spark. In fact at this point in time, the now common sparking lighters on gas ranges were some 50 years out. In short, my oven worked fine.

I baked the baguettes first, as they rose faster. I was using a head lamp when judging during my first oven intervention. They were looking rather dark, I thought at the time, so I turned the oven down to about 375 for the last ten minutes. When these were removed, I placed them on a rack to cool by an open window for a draft. I was going to try these tonight, torturing myself until after they cooled completely so I could judge the moisture content as it would be in an intact loaf. At this point, the monkey had brushed her teeth, after eating the tiniest morsel of a dinner, and would have bread in the morning. I'm sure about it. About half an hour before the loaf went in the oven the power was restored. I looked at the baguettes and thought: "self, you could have left the heat up for longer on them, try it with the loaf okay?"

On Thursday morning, the monkey woke up in a pretty good mood, ready to try the bread from the night before. I'm not saying she horked down a ton of it. She was just starting to eat a little something. But toasted, with butter or raspberry jam (or both as she prefers sometimes) seemed like something worth trying to eat.

Since then, our whole family has experienced some form of this little stomach enemy of ours. And we have been living off of bread. You see, with the nice fluffy results from my first sourdough involving a sponge, I just had to make it again the next day, in a half whole wheat form. Turns out that works great too. And when you are not feeling like eating much, or need it to be nice and plain, then my vote is a plain jane loaf. White, or whole wheat will satisfy, although the whole wheat probably has a higher nutritive value, that maybe we should think about leaning toward after a few days of not eating much.

When this weekend came around, we were all looking forward to some fruits and veggies (and hoping for some fresh live crabs, but without luck). This morning the monkey and I wandered over tho the Farmers' Market and blew all the cash we had on us. I was looking at the individual booths, seeing the span of region that it reprsents, and had a smile of contentment. We had our goods, likely the bulk of the veggies for our week, and it came from areas that either have a special place in my heart (Northern reaches of the Sacramento Valley) or in my family (Fresno County) or in my blood (my Californio connections to the Central Coast). It is a priviledge and an honor to talk to the purveyors at our market, and support some more of our local* scene. We rode the bike back, unloaded the loot on the table and took a photo as a means of archiving what was available this first week of December

So do I title this picture "Still life with morning market bounty" or simply "37 bucks, Dec. 3rd, 2006, Temescal Farmers Market"........