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cooking in a postage stamp-sized kitchen

We return later today from a glorious long weekend, spent with Marissa and her boyfriend, Jeff, in San Francisco and Napa.

San Francisco from the ferry

Marissa had a very busy and stressful work week, so I made dinner on Friday night in her very small kitchen. When I say small, I mean really small!

In May, Marissa moved from the Outer Sunset neighborhood to Pacific Heights. Part of the tradeoff to live closer to the center of the city was less space.

postage stamp kitchen

The closet-sized kitchen is only 7 feet wide by 10 feet long, with less than 25 square feet of walkable floor space and only 3 linear feet of counter space. No dishwasher, no garbage disposal, and a smaller than average sized refrigerator.


Speaking of the refrigerator… remember this Friday Funny I posted last week?

small fridge

It is Marissa’s reality! Here is her refrigerator…


… and here is how mine typically looks. Just a bit of a contrast!

filled to the rim with goceries

So, what did I make for dinner in the tiny kitchen, you ask?

After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, I unpacked it all, which took up every inch of counter space, then I proceeded to make a one pot (no drain) pasta dinner, rounded out with salad and garlic bread. The salad recipe will be posted tomorrow.

foil to cover holes in cover

The one pot Marissa owned, that was big enough, had a lid with holes, for draining pasta. I needed a solid lid so I covered the pot with foil, then added the lid, for a tight seal.

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October 7, 2013   6 Comments

I’m back…

Connor and I had a blast in Disneyland and California Adventure. When I say a blast, I not only mean a great time but a heat blast too.

main street USA

It never fails, I leave this Godforsaken desert to find some refreshing cool air and the heat follows me! It was 95 every day we were there. The weatherman is predicting a lovely 75 degrees for Tuesday! It’s not right!

polenta bruschetta

Oh well, fall is coming soon… I hope. Until then, I have the quickest and the easiest appetizer for you …. plus a few Disney vacation photos at the end of the post.

polenta pesto bruschetta ingredients

Most grocery stores carry the tubes of prepared polenta … and prepared pesto too. Although, I used some frozen arugula pesto I had on hand. I brought this to a surprise party on Sunday that our dear friend, Amy, threw for her husband, our dear friend, Scott.

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September 9, 2013   1 Comment

get dinner on the table

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m just like you – some nights it is sheer drudgery to make dinner. This is how I feel on those days…


This recipe was made on one of those nights. Going to the grocery store was not even a remote option – it’s too blazing hot to even think of getting in and out of the car.

I had frozen scallops in the freezer, fresh mushrooms and cream cheese in the refrigerator, dried mushrooms and pasta in the pantry, and herbs in the garden… so this is what I made.

There were no complaints …. but if there were….

eat it or starve

I think I’ve reached the end of my rope with this summer heat. Oh, who am I kidding? In all honesty, that is always my attitude.

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August 20, 2013   4 Comments

the best laid plans

happy hour

On Wednesday night, Peggy, Anne, and I made a 6 PM date for an impromptu happy hour at my house.

I had planned to go to Trader Joe’s and pick up some nibbles and wine, but the day slipped away from me (hijacked actually) when something unexpected came up.

Sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do … with what she has on hand.

I raced through the door at 5:15; pulled a loaf of bread and a package of prosciutto from the freezer, chilled a couple of bottles of wine I had on hand, jumped in the shower, then threw together this quick appetizer… all before Anne rang the bell at 6:00.

3 ingredients

Victory is Mine!

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June 28, 2013   9 Comments

chicken and peach main course

Ten years ago, in 2003, we had a huge peach tree. I’d have to say it was too huge!

Too many peaches '05

Somehow, it had grown completely out of control and sadly, this was what happened to it. It was so top-heavy and so full of heavy ripe peaches, that most of the branches broke from the weight.

Peach Dinner 03

I did what any resourceful woman would do – I had an impromptu “Pick Your Own Peaches” Dinner Party. To attend, you had to pick as many peaches as humanly possible and take them home with you! You were rewarded with dinner and profuse amounts of gratitude.

The tree was never quite the same. We had another couple of years of good harvest, but it was an ugly tree after all those branches broke off in such an inhuman way.

goodbye pool

Then, in December of 2007, we took our back yard down to the dirt, literally. We took out and filled in the old plaster diving pool. We tore down the south and west sides of our block wall fence and the entire narrow covered patio, plus the dated columns that held it up.

Dec 2007 back yard

And we said goodbye to the peach tree – and just about every other living thing in the back yard. The peach tree used to stand where that orange trash dumpster sits, in the photo above. And that’s my gorgeous Tanqueray in the center of the photo. How I miss my sweet boy!

couple trees is all that's left

All that was left were the citrus trees … the branches of the lemon tree are seen on the right, while the orange and grapefruit trees are out of view along that same side of the yard. Plus the orchid tree, which is on the far left of the photo, but can be seen more clearly in the photo above this, directly behind Tanqueray. Also saved was the large fig tree, which is out of view, but is on the back side of that orange dumpster. The two queen palms were later transplanted, but in the end, didn’t survive.  The tall eucalyptus trees in the background, used to be on the side of our front yard, but we pushed out the fence and they now line the western edge of the back yard.

2013 pool

After living in a pile of dirt, dust, and far too often, mud, that wet winter – we were hugely rewarded in May 2008 with a beautiful backyard oasis.

May 2008

I will soon be showing you more photos of the yard, because we are about to embark on phase two of the backyard remodel. Anyhow, a new tiny peach tree replaced the previous monster. It’s hard to make out, because it’s so small and barely in the picture, but if you look closely, you’ll see it on the far left center edge of the photo. That spot of green against the white of the house, that’s it!

dwarf peach

Here is what it looks like now. It’s a dwarf peach tree, so it is still small today. This photo was taken exactly one month ago. It may be little but I generally get a nice size basket or two of fruit from it each year. More than enough for just Dave and I.

box of peaches

Along with plenty of peaches to make the dessert in yesterday’s post and enough “just eating” peaches, I was able to make a main course peach dish with what I harvested this year.

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June 15, 2013   4 Comments

skinny puttanesca

Traditional Puttanesca sauce is made with chopped garlic and anchovies that are sautéed in olive oil. Chopped chili peppers, olives, capers, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and oregano are added along with salt and black pepper to taste. It is simmered for at least 30 to 40 minutes.


My lighter fresher version is anchovy and olive oil free and uses fresh chopped tomatoes that are cooked briefly and tofu Shirataki noodles with zero calories and only 3 carbs per serving. The dish comes together in 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your chopping skills and speed.

I began making it at 5:45 and had it on the dinner plates by 6:00… taking the photos took another couple minutes… as always!

One last note, I forgot to add the olives. And, darn it, they were missed! I’ve added them to the recipe, so don’t forget them.

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April 9, 2013   2 Comments

a recipe found!

set up

Yesterday, I made it sound as though I may not be posting another recipe for a while. At least that is what I was thinking. But then I remembered that I still had a couple recipes in my back pocket.  On December 5th, at the last class of my 3-week series at Les Gourmettes, four days before the fateful fall, and with the permission of my fabulous students, I took a bunch of photos during class with my iPhone.

Happily, I have those to share with you until I am able to cook again!

When I asked the class if they would mind if I took photos and they said to go ahead, I then asked if they would mind if I took photos of them too. I felt as though there was a little hesitation, so I said, “If you don’t want your picture included on the blog, just hold the recipes up in front of your face, and I’ll say that some of my students are very intent on reading their recipes.”  Here is how they reacted to that suggestion!


Pranksters, each and every one of them! I love my students!

my students

They are the sweetest people!

my stuents2

Each and every one of them!


The recipe calls for sweet potatoes to be cut into matchsticks.
To do so …


after peeling the potato,


cut in half,


then cut each half into 1/4-inch planks.


Stack the planks and cut into 1/2-inch matchsticks. It’s that easy!


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December 21, 2012   No Comments

bread salad

In France, they use stale bread to make French Toast. I love France, the French, and French Toast!

In Italy, stale bread is used to make Panzanella Salad. I adore Italy, Italians, and Panzanella Salad!

And obviously, I love photos of Marissa and Connor too! xoxo

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May 20, 2012   No Comments

luxurious spa waters

grape and citrus spa water


After our luxurious and relaxing day at the Willow Spring Spa at the Scottsdale Princess Resort on Friday, the very first thing I wanted to do when I got back home was to make a huge pitcher of spa water. You know what I’m talking about – the glorious fruit and herb infused waters they always have available to you at a luxury spa.

My absolute favorite flavor is one that I call “Summer’s Splendor”.  To make it -  find as huge a pitcher or dispenser as will fit in your refrigerator. Throw in several handfuls of fresh basil leaves, peel and then thinly slice one English cucumber and add it to the basil. Then take 1 or 2 lemons, wash really well, thinly slice, and add to the mix. Fill the picture with cold water and refrigerate.

I like to make this just before I go to bed and then enjoy it for the next day or two. Be sure to give it a good 12 to 18 hours to macerate and let the flavors blend.

Below you’ll find another 12 flavor blends to give you a nice baker’s dozen.

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May 6, 2012   1 Comment


Last Monday morning, once Marissa had left for work and I returned to her apartment after taking Dave to the airport, I sat down to eat lunch. It consisted of a boxed salad I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s the day before. My plan was to eat half of it and save the remaining half for lunch on Tuesday – that didn’t happen.

I scarfed down the entire tasty thing.  Monday night, when Marissa came home from work, we jumped in her car and headed back to Trader Joe’s to do her “big” grocery run.  She would finally have stocked shelves, refrigerator, freezer, and wine rack and could stop eating like a “third grader with a drinking problem.”

Instead she is now a young woman with healthy choices and plenty of nice wine to accompany her adult meals. (Did you know that in California “Two Buck Chuck” is actually two bucks, well actually $1.99?  Not that the $2.99 we pay in AZ is a bad deal, but I always wondered why it was called “Two Buck” when it really cost three bucks… now I know.)

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August 8, 2011   5 Comments