Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend wrap-up

Lots of cooking in the Hartman kitchen this weekend. I got new cooking magazines in the mail which meant lots of new recipes to try. We made a spicy Korean chicken stew out of the Cooking Light magazine as well as potato croquettes that required the purchase of a either a food mill or a potato ricer. After visiting the Little Red Hen cooking store I decided that buying a potato ricer from the baby supply section was definitely the cheaper way to go. And with Chris getting older, and losing all his teeth, it'll probably come in handy in the coming years. 
I tried so hard to focus only on what I needed and not all of the super cute, awesome cooking gadgets they have there. Though I did find, much to my delight, a whole pile of mulling spice tins that we've been desperately searching for to use in future batches of mead since it was such a hit the first time. As a way to satisfy my need to buy things there, I did find three bunko gifts for my upcoming host month in March and they were gracious enough to wrap them for me. So, back to my potato ricer - the recipe called for cooking peeled yukon gold potatoes before pressing them through the ricer into a mix of mushrooms and leeks that I'd finely ground in my food processor. 

Add an egg and some cheese to the mix to hold it all together before forming it into patties which are covered in (gluten free) flour, dipped in egg whites, and covered in gluten free panko crumbs. Then the patties are browned on each side in a non stick pan and served over a bed of lettuce with a dressing of olive oil, vinegar (used the raspberry basil vinegar Wilson got me at Christmas), diced shallots, and salt and pepper. 

Really good, but holy crap I had dishes for daaaays. The ricer, the mixing bowl, the food processor, the flour, eggs and panko bowls, the dressing bowls, etc. I formed the extra filling into patties, but didn't coat them yet before putting them in the fridge for dinner later in the week. At least the hard work is already done. 

The other big event of the weekend was running into Girl Scouts selling their little crack cookies. I politely declined since they would have given me a raging tummy ache, came home and promptly printed out a recipe for gluten free thin mints. After lunch I gathered my ingredients, all of which I had on hand, and got busy preparing what promised to be the most important gluten free recipe I would ever attempt. The dough was pretty easy, just flour, sugar, egg,  butter, cocoa, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Then you roll it into a log and freeze it for at least an hour while you watch Season 1 episodes of Downton Abbey. 
I cut the log into 3 dozen slices and baked them for about 12 minutes a batch at 375. I let them cool completely while I went to church to sing at an evening Lenten service. When I got back I made the chocolate coating which was nothing more than a LOT of chocolate and butter melted together with more vanilla and peppermint extract added. Then it's just dipping and flipping each cookie and letting them firm up on waxed paper (I let the fridge help speed up the process). 

When we got back from the gym, where I beat my January 5K time (27:58) with a 27:08, I pulled out two cookies that had been chilling in the fridge and they were fantastic in a "I didn't have to spend $5 on these" kind of way. I'm letting them finish hanging out in the fridge overnight before bagging and freezing them for future consumption. Take that, you little flour pushing cookie pimps! I'll just make my own, thank you very much. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Golden Gate Park

On Saturday we spent most of our day at Golden Gate Park visiting the Japanese Tea Gardens, De Young Museum, and the Strybing Arboretum. We'd already decided that it was too far of a walk for us and set out to find a cab right after breakfast. $25 later we were dropped off at the front door of the De Young Museum for the start of our adventure. Since the weather was nice we decided to walk past the museum, down to the Japanese Tea Gardens and start there. It was a good size garden and only second to the one in Portland. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of year for any kind of blooms or fall colors, but it was still beautiful (and peaceful).

High-five Buddha, high-five!

After the Japanese Tea Gardens we walked back to the De Young Museum to get our walk on in the big, multi-storied modern building.
Our Ancient Americas doppelgangers.
 Gold hair clips from 7-8th century Panama.I've been looking for a nice, gold tooth hair clip.

Enjoying the best decaf of the trip outdoors in the back of De Young while Chris got stabbed in the head by some of the yard art. After lunch at a Turkish restaurant in the neighborhood, our last stop in the park was the arboretum and botanical gardens. We got there just in time to catch a guided, docent tour which was fabulous. We learned so much about magnolia trees and leaves and flowers that we never would have figured out on our own.

My favorite part of the gardens were the herb gardens where they encouraged you to touch and smell and the herbs. I had no idea rosemary came in so many scents.

We chose to skip the science museum at $25 per person admission. Plus, by that point, both of our feet needed a break. One of my little toes was getting rubbed raw and the boy's heal was starting to hurt. So we shelled out another $25 to get delivered back to the hotel. After another short nap we walked over to our little residential restaurant (Pat's Cafe) we'd found the night before for dinner and had the best grilled calamari salad. I had grilled veggies over polenta for dinner while Chris got a more appetizing looking fish and chip plate. Neither of our dinners were crazy fantastic, but the calamari salad made the trip worth it. And of course we topped if all off with more cheesecake from the potato place across from our hotel.

We'd originally thought about going out to Alcatraz on Sunday morning before heading back home, but at the last minute scrapped the idea. We preferred the idea of sleeping in (though we had a hard time falling asleep with the lady in the neighboring room moaning so loudly we had to turn the TV up to block her out), enjoying a leisurely breakfast and then hitting the road. Plus, we were done walking, having already logged what felt like thousands of miles in the past two days. We had a great time and love having something like San Fran close enough for a quick weekend trip that doesn't require a lot of planning, but provides lots of entertainment.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

We arrived in San Fran for our long weekend vacation on Friday right before noon. Even though we were too early for check-in we were able to park our truck at the hotel while we ran across the street to HotSpud for lunch. It was a gourmet, baked potato eatery that made all gluten free items, including desserts. I picked the shrimp spud that had a chipotle tartar sauce with corn, olives and green onions. It was so ridiculously good.
Chris day dreaming of meat filled potatoes....
I need a HotSpud in Chico pronto like. The boy ordered a sausage spud which he quickly gobbled down much to his delight. There couldn't have been a more perfect restaurant a stone's throw from our hotel. And to top it off they had gf sweet potato cheesecake and sweet potato brownies, both of which we picked up for dessert (the cheesecake two nights in a row). Love, love, love, love.

After lunch and checking in, we decided to stroll down along Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero to get to the Ferry Building at Pier 1 (our hotel was across from Pier 39) so that I could visit the gluten free bakery I had on my wish list.

Across the street from the Ferry Building was an arts and crafts street fair that I of course had to visit after finishing my business at the Ferry Building.

It was a much longer walk down the Embarcadero than we'd realized so we caught the trolley back up to Fisherman's Wharf so that we could go back to the hotel and nap. Because that's what old people, like us, do. When we woke up, we decided to head back to the wharf for an early dinner at an Italian restaurant that looked promising online. We both ordered some clam chowder and I got a dinner salad while the Canadian splurged on some fried calamari.And to wash it all down I had a sweet little glass of sangria.

After dinner we proceeded to wander around Fisherman's Wharf observing the oddest lack of people. We practically had the whole place to ourselves. Of course the Bay Bridge was closed Friday through Sunday night to incoming traffic, but still, we expected a few more than the dozen or so people walking around the wharf. We enjoyed a nice beer sampler at a sports bar there and then just enjoyed the city lights.

On the way back to the hotel we walked around the surrounding neighborhood looking for the Barnes & Noble the tour book said was nearby. After not having any luck, I searched for it on my phone only to find it had permanently closed, but in our travels we stumbled across a restaurant in a residential neighborhood that looked right up our alley for breakfast. I love finding something on accident that turns out to be the best surprise of the trip. By then, it was getting late so we headed back to hotel so that we could rest up for an action packed Saturday, but that's another blog....

Keep on trying

You win some, you lose some, and you end up buying some. This last week I baked some gluten free scones which came out very tasty, but a bit higher in calories than I would like for the size of the scone, and I also made some gluten free banana bread muffins which were not at all what I'd hoped for. They looked fantastic in the pan, but ended up being very chewy and flavorless. They eventually ended up in the garbage.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, I found a gluten free bakery that was near out hotel in San Francisco this weekend and made a special trip out there to load up on goodies that were more than I wanted to attempt myself. I ended up with a crazy delicious cinnamon roll, a 2-pack of cinnamon raisin bagels, and a pack of buns.
I had a half of a bagel today with some fresh french-press coffee and it too was very tasty. I pulled out one bun for a hamburger tomorrow night and the rest I cut in half and froze for later. There was a lot of other tasty treats the bakery had, but really, how many packages of biscotti and cookies did my waistline really need?!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Turkish delight

Having a hodge podge of Turkish food for lunch by Golden Gate Park.

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S.F. Beer week

Enjoying a sampler of beers at Pier 39 as part of San Fran beer week.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Feeling the love

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Field trip

Spending 3 hours today with reps from CalRecycle to go over the town's recycling programs. Here we are dumpster diving at the hospital. We know how to show people a good time!

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New toy

Guess who got a donut pan last night and was up at 5:00 am this morning making gf donuts?!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Food finds!

I was at Holiday market picking up a frozen, gf pizza and saw that they carried gf burritos by Amy's so I had to try one! They have an amazing selection of gf food - even better than S&S. That's saying a lot!

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Valentine sweets

A co-worker brought in some goodies for all of her sweeties. Namely me.

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Monday, February 13, 2012


The only way I get flowers is when I hijack a delivery to an office that's closed for lunch! I'll enjoy them while I ransom them to the real recipient.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another week down

After a long hiatus (since before my Christmas work break) I finally made Sunday treats to bring into work on Monday. I was just minding my own business, perusing gluten free cooking blogs when I came across a recipe that I had everything for and look really simple to make. Let me introduce you to toffee granola bars;
The base layer was an oatmeal, a little bit of gf (gluten free) flour, brown sugar, melted margarine, and chopped walnut mix baked for about 15 minutes. While it baked, I heated a can of sweetened condensed milk with a little bit of margarine on the stove until it slightly thickened.When the oatmeal base came out of the oven I covered it with the milk mixture and then stuck it back in the oven for about another 10 minutes (if memory serves me right).
Next was to sprinkle some mini chocolate chips (so they melt faster) on top of the hot, baked toffee and wait a few minutes for the chips to start to melt before spreading them out into a smooth chocolate top layer.
Once it had cooled, I stuck it in the fridge to really harden the chocolate before cutting it into bars. Huge hit at work, and I could have some too!

Tuesday night we spend getting ready for bible study here on Wednesday. Clean, clean, clean, make dessert, and prep as much of the dinner as possible.
One of my favorite sights - a man doing chores.
For dessert I made a turtle cheesecake.A crustless, low-fat cheesecake made with non-fat cream cheese and non-fat Greek yogurt, topped with crushed gf chocolate cookies (in place of chocolate graham crackers), chopped pecans and light caramel dip (the kind you buy in a tub to dip apples in). Though I may have slightly overcooked the cheesecake (I'm always scared when any of it still jiggles), it was still wonderfully tasty - even for the next couple of days' worth of leftovers.

It was my Friday to work so I made the most of my time in P-town by also getting my mullet trimmed and having lunch with C. to finally exchange Christmas presents. Yeah, I'm that bad. They're still shooting to be leaving for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in April, they just have to finish all the work visa paperwork and get that last bit of funding support in place (they're at about 86% right now and have to be at 95% to get the tickets to go). She was telling me about all of the legal paperwork they're having to complete with a lawyer before they go - designating power of attorney (her mom and myself for everything except medical decisions), guardianship for their children should something happen to them while in PNG (definitely NOT us), and medical power of attorney (two of her family members). It's quite a daunting task when you have to sit down and actually make these decisions.

No big plans for the weekend other than to sit down and run church reports (ugh) and finish planning for S.F. next weekend (yay). I'm in charge of figuring out where we're eating since I'm the hardest to accommodate. So far we've decided on a Turkish restaurant by Golden Gate park for lunch on Saturday and an Italian restaurant for lunch on Friday when we arrive that is doing an all day food and beer pairing as part of S.F. Beer Week. I've still got two dinners and two breakfasts to figure out, though I did find a gf bakery on the Embarcadero that I want to stop at on our way out and stock up at. They've got buns, bagels, and some sweet treats I've got my eyes on. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather holds until we get there.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl(s of food)

The only thing more important than the Super Bowl game is what we planned to eat during it. After weeks of searching for the perfect recipes I settled on baked mozzarella sticks, buffalo chicken dip, and artichoke spinach dip. I prepped everything earlier in the day so that when game time came I could toss it all in the oven for a quick 30 minute bake.

Grub is served...

15 minutes later..

Yeah, we ate all that - we're that good. I did hold back 1/2 of the spinach dip for bible study on Wednesday night here. I'm going to use it to stuff mushrooms with. The other 1/2 of the buffalo chicken dip is going with the Canadian tomorrow for his lunch. Trust me, nothing's going to waste! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vacation destination

Now that I'm on an every-other-Friday off schedule at work (to whittle down excess vacation accruals) I've got some nice 4-day weekends in the coming months because of holidays. This month, with President's Day weekend, is one of them. On a last minute whim we decided to make plans to go to San Fran for that weekend, staying at the cheap hotel right off of Fisherman's Wharf we stayed at last time. It includes free, gated parking which is why we like it. If you've ever been to San Fran you know what a challenge parking can be - especially with our F-250 beast. We'll either walk as is our style, or take a cab, to where ever we're going. Since this last minute trip is happening in two weeks we swung over to B&N this afternoon to do a little destination research.
We're big on pre-planning, so this book will help us find the best attractions close to us as well as dining and shopping. I'm a huge fan of the Frommer's travel books and have one for all the big cities we've visited - Victoria, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Plus I've already got my eyes on the Las Vegas, Boston, and New York books for our future trips. Anyway, we'll be spending some quality time this coming week putting together our travel plans.

Tonight I'm heading off to Oroville, with my friend Kari, for a Christian concert at one of the churches there. We're seeing Brandon Heath who I think is so dreamy. We've both seen him at Spirit West Coast (big, annual Christian Woodstock at Laguna Seca) and love his music. We're meeting at the bottom of the hill (Skyway) at 5:00 to get there about an hour before the doors open. It's general seating so you don't want to be last in line. We're bringing something to eat while waiting in line so I made sure to keep a few slices of our gluten free pizza from Left Coast Pizza we got last night. This time I ordered the Emerald Isle pizza which has a pesto sauce, spinach, provolone, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
Not the Canadian's favorite, probably due to the lack of meat, but good enough. I loved it up until the point I insisted on a third piece that Chris warned me against and instantly got a horrible stomach ache. I've had a bad tummy all week (I think I've been snacking on too much fresh fruit) and this was literally just too much food for my stomach to process. Ugh. Tonight will be two small pieces eaten very slowly. I don't want to spend my evening in so much pain I can't even stand up straight like I have this whole week. There are days I hate my broken stomach so much I'd rather just have the stupid feeding tube. And then I think about how much I'd miss nachos and I knock that thought right out of my head!