Saturday, June 29, 2013

Outstanding in the Field

On a hot summer day recently, we went to dinner in a Napa Valley vineyard...

As you can probably tell, this is no ordinary picnic. This was a stellar event put together by the folks at Outstanding in the Field. They hold farm-to-table dinners at locations all across the country, for the purpose of reconnecting diners with the land and where their food comes from. A friend told me about OITF last year, and as the events sell out FAST I made sure to get tickets for my man and I this year. The 100% organic and biodynamic vineyards of Robert Sinskey lent a perfect setting to the event. RSV is one of my favorite winemakers, so I knew I had to get tickets to their event! Take a look at my photos from the event, you can see we had a fantastic time!

Tradition is you bring your own plate to dinner.

The menu.

The people/places who contributed to the amazing meal.

Winecrafter Jeff Virnig explains the difference between Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes.

Langoustine, anyone?

Lamb three ways on top of braised greens.

We were all members of the "Clean Plate Club"!

Beautiful light as the sun set.
As darkness fell, it was time for dessert.
Happy as clams - it was a wonderful evening!
Have you ever attended a farm-to-table dinner? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!

Basil Walnut Pesto

Worried that you bought too much basil and won't be able to use it all before it starts to wilt? This recipe will take care of that for you! Make a batch of pesto, and either use it immediately, keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, or store it in the freezer for a few months! If you can wait that long, tasting the freshness of summer in the middle of winter is pretty amazing, let me tell you. :-)

Dinner: Baked salmon with Zucchini "noodles" topped with Pesto & Parmesan.

Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto (makes 2-4 servings)
- About 1/2C of loosely packed pesto leaves
- 2 Peeled Garlic Cloves
- 1/4C Raw Walnuts
- 2T Olive Oil (add more as needed)

- Put all ingredients into your blender, and pulse the blade. Add more oil if it appears too dry.
- The pesto is done when it's reached your desired consistency. Some people prefer more of a puree while others like it chunky.

Serving Idea: Use a topping on your zucchini "noodles" or on top of fresh tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fresh Tomatoes and Basil. Summer is HERE!

How do you know it's summer? We all live in different parts of the country (or maybe even the world), but I can tell the seasons have changed when the vine-ripened tomatoes start to show up at the Farmer's Market! The last couple of days have been gray and foggy, but last week was sunny, and we spotted some organic tomatoes at our Farmer's Market. It was a VERY exciting day! And what makes it even better is that the market is held just around the corner from our new apartment. Can't get much more convenient than that!

Tomatoes from a few summers ago, one of my fave pics!
We walked the aisles and saw that multiple vendors were selling organic tomatoes, but rather than go straight for the huge heirlooms, we decided to go with smaller tomatoes, about 2" across. We tried a sample, and they were so flavorful! She had them in all colors and we got a variety of red, yellow, orange and green tomatoes. Another vendor had fresh herbs, so we picked up a huge bunch of organic basil. With just a little bit of prep, the dish was served!

Our haul from last week's market. Delicious!
Fresh Summer Tomatoes with Basil
- Tomatoes
- Basil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Mozzarella di Bufala OR Sheep's Feta Cheese (totally optional)

- Rinse the tomatoes and basil, pat dry.
- Using a SHARP knife, cut the tomatoes into either wedges or slices. It's up to you.
- Arrange the tomatoes (and cheese, if you're using it) on a plate.
- Sprinkle some olive oil over the tomatoes, and add a touch of sea salt.
- Gently tear off the larger basil leaves from your plant. Stack a bunch of them together and roll it up. Slice the leaves while they're rolled. Sprinkle basil on top.
- Serve and eat!

Note: One tip about Basil (and other herbs) - If you buy a fresh bunch, cut off the bottom of the stems and keep it in a glass of fresh water. This should keep your plant alive for at least a few days, maybe longer if you see it start to sprout roots!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Am I a Hoarder?

Moving is never easy, but when you're downsizing it is especially tough! We moved exactly one week ago, last Wednesday, and are adjusting to life in a smaller place. We wanted to save some money while C is in graduate school, so our new apartment is roughly half the size of our last one! Both places are 1-bedrooms, but our previous apartment was really spacious with lots of closet space. (We know, we got totally spoiled living there.) The new place...doesn't really much closet space, so some things (like suitcases and laundry hampers) have yet to find their place.

So much stuff!
Because we knew we needed to downsize to fit into the new apartment, in packing up from our old place, we decided to sort things into groups: keep it (in the new place), put it in storage, donate it or trash it. It amazed us how much stuff we had! Despite all the things we put into storage and got rid of, we still had a LOT of boxes when we moved into the new apartment. Boxes were piled up to our shoulders, leaving narrow pathways to walk around the apartment, and it seriously felt like we were hoarders! The first night there was a little anxiety-producing - where was it all going to go?? But as we put shelving up and items found their places, things started to feel better. As each empty box left the apartment, it created more open space. Breaking down each box and putting it in the recycling bin felt like a huge relief! 

As my fiance and I went through the process of cleaning out the "cobwebs" of our stuff, we both remarked on how cleansing the process felt. He commented that he feels "lighter" since getting rid of old college textbooks and notebooks that have been in storage for years. I notice that eliminating so much of my old stuff, while itself a physical act, has opened up space for new things to come in. In a way, my whole life feels a bit more spacious now.  

After a few days of organizing, a trip to Ikea, assembling furniture, and lots of unpacking...I can now say that the new apartment is starting to feel like home. We've both noticed that we sleep much better here, as the apartment itself is quieter than our old place. This is a great thing! We plan on putting artwork up on the walls this week, and that will be pretty much the last step of this move. I look forward to settling in here and getting to know my new neighborhood, and am open to living this next chapter of my life!

Have you moved recently? Let us know (in the comments below) - How was it for you? What are some strategies you used to keep it as low-stress and low-anxiety as possible? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Super Easy Oven Roasted Broccoli

I hope you'll forgive me, but my blog posts this week and next will be short, as my fiance and I are in the process of moving (from the Peninsula to the East Bay). I'm sure many of you can relate to the fact that my stress level goes up every time I move. The questions running around in my head are endless...Where will things go in the new place? Did I change my address on everything? Will everything fit in the new place? What should go into storage? What are we keeping? What are we donating? What if x, y, or z doesn't work out? And it goes on...

But I find if I take a few moments at the beginning and end of the day, to sit in stillness and just breathe, my stress level goes waaaaaay down. Try it next time you're feeling stressed about something. Starting early, and doing a little bit each day, makes the task of packing much less overwhelming. We've also hired movers to move the big stuff, which is a HUGE stress relief!

Before we pack up all the kitchen supplies, we're doing a good job of eating what's left in the fridge. Because the more healthy stuff we eat here, the less we have to worry about transporting! Here's a new (to me) way to make broccoli that was super simple and tasted delicious. It took me about 5 minutes to prep, I worked while it was cooking, and then we ate. Easy peasy, and I hope you enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli (serves 2)
1 Large Head of Organic Broccoli
approx. 1T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

- Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse the broccoli, shake it a couple times to get the water off
- Chop off the florets, and put in a large mixing bowl.
- Chop off about 2" of the end of the stalk and discard.
- Chop the top of the stalk into 1/2" pieces. Add these to the bowl.
- Shave the bottom part of the stalk to remove any tough bits, and continue to chop the stalk into 1/2" pieces. Add these to the bowl.
- Pour the olive oil over the broccoli, add some salt & pepper if desired.
- Use your (clean) hands to coat the broccoli with the oil.
- Bake for about 20 minutes.
- Serve immediately. Due to the crunchiness, this dish won't work very well as leftovers.

I may be moving, but I'm still coaching! Doesn't matter where you live, as all my coaching services can be held remotely. Interested? Check out my website for more info: