Monday, August 31, 2009

Pesto Magic

I'm back from my unplanned blogging break. Just couldn't swing it last week.

Mmmm, pesto magic! I am impressed by how so few ingredients can become such a flavorful dish! The basil and garlic are from our garden. The pine nuts are from Trader Joe's, the best source I've found.

Though I'm by-the-book, pesto is one of those amazingly flexible dishes. The DH, much more the experimenter, likes to change it up. We've had it made with other greens, other nuts, pumpkin seeds, a dash of hot sauce, etc. Here's my basic recipe, from the Big Red Betty Crocker cookbook.

2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed about 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides, until smooth.
  2. Use pesto immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month (color of pesto will darken as it ages).

Note: I freeze mine much longer than 1 month. I look forward to its fresh taste in the middle of winter!

Do you have a favorite pesto variation?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back Soon...

I'm on a business trip and am not finding the time to blog, so I'll be back in a few days.
Until then...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Imperial Tea Court

I just got my Imperial Tea Court (ITC) newsletter and thought I'd sing the praises of this company. It's one of my favorites. I took this photo, which I love, many years ago in the original tearoom in San Francisco. I remember so much from this day! I had a long walk to get to the tearoom, through parts of Chinatown. It was a crisp, sunny autumn morning. San Francisco was subdued. Along the way, I stopped to take photos of unusual fruits and Asian-style dresses in vibrant reds, greens and yellows. I was learning to use my Mom's metal-bodied Pentax, a great camera. I was pleased that I had found the tearoom on my own, as it was in a quiet neighborhood with a subtle sign.
I had an amazing conversation at the tearoom, not with Roy, but with one of his head staff. She introduced me to pu-erh teas. This was long before pu-erhs had experienced their recent fame. I tasted several, at first surprised by the aroma and flavor but refraining from a hasty judgement to allow for finding the sweetness on my tongue in the aftertaste. I treasure that moment and memory. I was the only one in the tea room and had the pleasure of soaking in the slanted light, the clay teapots, the aroma and flavor of the pu-erhs, and the tutorial from the tea expert.

Alas, this tearoom has closed. But there are others in the
San Fran/Berkeley area.

Roy Fong is one of our leading US experts in tea, especially Chinese teas. He's an interesting man - check out his bio.

A few years ago, Mom gave me a subscription to an ITC tea club. It was so much fun! I highly encourage it as a gift to your special tea lover. (It is pricey, tho there are options.) Here are additional resources for more info about the Imperial Tea Court:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I couldn't help but...

Create matching skirts for us! An aunt's privilege. This little one is almost two.

By the way, the fabric is from a reclaimed bed sheet!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Does Your Food Taste Like?

I read an article recently about New York's law that requires restaurants to list the caloric count of the food. I thought this was a FANTASTIC idea! But what held my attention in the article is a focus in California on chain restaurants because they apparently are known for loading up their food with fat, salt and sugar so that it becomes more tasty to us. Wow. Makes me never want to eat at a chain again. Fortunately, there are many choices out there.

I began to think about my own food habits. I try to follow Michael Pollan's advice of, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." And yet, I seldom eat a raw tomato without sprinkling salt on it. Is this really necessary, I wondered. What does a tomato taste like without salt? Or toast without butter? Or a peach with the fuzz on? So I've made a pledge, and I encourage you to do so, as well. Before doctoring up my food, I will taste it in its natural state. I will enjoy the sweetness of the tomato that gets masked by the salt. I will feel the textures of the toast and the peach. I will not ask, "Do I like this?" but rather "How would I describe this?" One warning: when one experiences "real food" - it's hard to go back to a chain.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Weekend, in Doodles

Do you doodle? I do! I often doodle while I'm in meetings or otherwise engaged. As any good teacher knows, it doesn't mean I'm daydreaming. It simply means I'm activating another part of my brain. Perhaps, because of the doodling, I will retain even more. I wish all teachers understood this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Zinnias take me back to my grandmother's gigantic garden. She had bush green beans and vines of squash, horseshoe-shaped cucumbers and giant tomatoes. And stuck in the middle, a very long row of zinnias.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

Breathe, Make Fun of Myself, and Drink Tea

I'm in crunch time at work now. I'm landing a huge program on August 25th, and we're definitely in the thick of it. Late nights and early mornings, last minute changes, additions to the plan. Thankfully I am starting to see the tunnel's end.

One thing I know for sure - I can get a little grumpy when I'm under deadline pressure. I'm sure my teammates felt it yesterday! :-) So, to lighten the load, I like to first remember to breathe, then laugh at myself. I sent my team this picture yesterday. That's me, growling. I hope they print it and throw darts at it. I might, too!

To stay calm and relaxed, I try, Try, TRY to maintain a sense of humor, a sense of perspective, and force myself to make time for a tea break. (Those things usually get chucked, in that order. I go around and try to pick them up at the start of each day.) They're too precious to give up, and I do so too willingly. And I NEED my tea breaks! I need those few minutes of relaxation in the middle of my day.

How do you deal with deadline stress?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No Tea Cozies Without Irony

Love this image! It's from They have several fun ones - all vintage-looking with a twist. I'm amazed (and grateful) that the concept of crafting has reinvented itself into one that is hip and modern.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Delicious Things Sold Here...

This sign caught my attention on Saturday as I was walking along our new multi-purpose trail through downtown. (It's not the first time I've been caught by this sign.) This little French restaurant (one of my favorites in town) sits right on the trail and the owners have capitalized on the opportunity, opening a small to-go window. I had the panna cotta and I ate it so fast, I didn't even get a picture.

The photo below is one of the best I've taken, and it was an accident. You see the sign, which makes me smile every time I walk by. "Delicious things sold at this window." Indeed. And then you see me. And if you look closely, you see the graffiti in the background. Three layers. I couldn't have set it up any better. I think I might frame this one. It's just got so much depth - literally and metaphorically.

Do you know a special little eatery, one where you can walk by on a Saturday and get a little something? Tell me about it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Long Gone


I loved my long hair, but I'd had it for several years and was tired of fighting with the tangles. As my hair stylist told me yesterday, "You have fine hair - but girl! You have a lot of it!" That means tangles, and lots of them. So, farewell tangles! I'm sure I'll miss the variety of styles with the long hair, but will enjoy the faster shower time!

Long gone...
This is the new cut. 14 inches off and a 12-inch braid to Locks of Love! This photo is a good example of what it actually will look like, not when I'm fluffed up for the camera. I had just walked in the door from the Farmer's Market. I'm sweaty and windblown. Real life - real hair. :-) I like the new cut. Never had it like this before.

A funny thing - in addition to the "no more tangles," I was going for the slightly more professional look. I have to make a trip to the work mothership in August and meet with some super powers. I thought I'd give myself the advantage. The funny thing is the DH thinks this cut actually makes me look younger. Just what I need! Once again, to be mistaken for the intern. LOL (laughing out loud)! What do you think?