Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MIT Chapel

I think there is something so wonderful about buildings that are designed specifically for worship.  I think it's something we've gotten away from, at least in California, and even more specifically, in Southern California.  When searching for a new church after moving, I was hopeful for a building that was designed as a church, with that single purpose.  Not a church that met in another building, not a church that moved into a strip mall, not a church that built itself a sanctuary that was more function than form, even though I believe wholly that church is about the people and community, not about the building.  I think there is something special about seeing God's beauty while in a place that reflects his creations creativity and ability, and for a building that has been built for the sole function of meeting God.

How incredible is this chapel at MIT?  To say Eero Saarinen is one of my heroes would fit the bill.

Don't you just love this light at the altar?  It breaks my heart when churches eliminated natural light, because it's better for media presentations -- power point, controlled lighting, video screens.  What a fabulous place for a wedding.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Saturday night at the ballet

We bought a season subscription to the San Francisco Ballet this year, and the season opened this weekend.  The first program this year is Onegin, which is a ballet adaptation of a Pushkin poem. Here's how they describe it online:

The passionate story of Russian aristocrat Eugene and his lost chance for love with the beautiful Tatiana, unleashes heartbreaking themes of unrequited love, anguish, and tragic irony. Set to a powerful score by Tchaikovsky, this production features lavish scenery and costumes by award-winning designer Santo Loquasto and lighting by James F. Ingalls.

It was fantastic. I think even a non-ballet lover would enjoy it.  You can get tickets here, they added an additional performance so it's running through February 3rd.

photo:  Erik Tomasson

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good news for Spring 2012

So in love with Valentino's continued pieces of the "Rockstud" collection.


And how sweet is this little Miu Miu Bow t-strap sandal for Spring 2012?
I love the gold metal heel.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fresh Friday: whole wheat pasta with chard; roasted romanesco with cilantro dressing

Follow along with me on my resolution to eat not just locally, but seasonally in San Francisco.  Fresh Friday!

Week 2:

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sauteed Chard
boil water, cook your pasta.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Finely chop 2 leeks, add to the skillet with salt and pepper and a touch of garlic if you like, and saute in the heated oil for a few minutes.  Add the chard, and coat with the oil and stir with the leaks, saute until limp, and toss with your pasta and a touch more olive oil.  Sprinkle with Parmesan, and eat it up!

Roasted Romanesco with Cilantro Dressing

One or two heads of romanesco
salt and pepper
chili powder
olive oil

Heat oven to 425 degrees, cut the romanesco into bite-sized florets.  Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl, and add a pinch of chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Toss the romanesco in the bowl and coat with the spiced oil, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until starting to brown, I think it was like 25 minutes for ours.

Cilantro Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tsp honey
salt to taste and fresh ground pepper

While the romanesco roasts, combine everything for the dressing in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Dip the roasted romanesco in the dressing, or I guess you could drizzle it over the top

This romanesco recipe came from our farm's, eatwell.com, via cristiescorner.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Central Europe 2011 Part III, Austria

After our stopover in Czesky Budjrovich, we continued on and crossed the border into Austria, and stopped off in Salzburg.  Not the highest place on our list, we only planned one full day in Salzburg, but it turned out to be our FAVORITE place!  We talk dreams of moving there to have babies and live a small perfect life.  We rented bikes, bought picnic goods and spent the day riding around and tracking down all the sights from The Sound of Music, and fulfilling the fantasies of the 7-year-old girl inside of me, singing the songs and dancing around. We had nice weather for the first time, and loved every minute of the day.

An Alpen in her natural habitat 

Maria's Church! At her Abbey! Nonnburg Abbey 

The FRONT Von Trapp mansion, can you believe they used two different ones, a front view and a back view??  We picnicked across the lake looking at the back view, where the kids fall in the water in their play clothes! 

the 16 going on 17 gazebo, and below, is Andy indulging me in my 7 year-old girl fantasy of being Liesl when she dances around with Rolf, leaping from one bench to the next!

Seriously. Favorite Day.

The next morning we got up, rented a car, and drove to Vienna.  It was an amazing drive, the Austria I'd been longing for -- huge Alps, expanses of lush green grass, and those hunky brown and white cows with big bells on!  We packed our left-over picnic food, bought a map, and hit the autobahn! We made two significant stops along the way, in the tiniest ever town of Hallstatt in Salzkammergut, and to take a gondola ride and hike a mountain top.  Hallstatt is built on this teeny tiny bit of land between a huge mountain and a beautiful lake, not even room for roads, so everything is quite literally on top of each other.  It's charming like crazy, full of incredible views on all sides, and home to the Kirche und Beinhaus, which is the Bone House church.  No space to live, and no space to die, they didn't have room to bury their dead, so instead, they placed the cleaned, dried out, and decorated skulls and femurs in a chapel, a bone house. The year of death was painted on the skulls and they go back to the 1800's.

Onward to Vienna, but not without finding a gondola to an alpen summit!  We took a ride up two gondolas to the top of this crazy mountain, and hiked out to a view point where there were all these paragliders, and "relaxation couches" where we ate our little lunch, and watched people jump off the side of the mountain and sail over the lakes and valleys below. Dream life. We continued the trail to another overlook, and tried these five "fingers" -- little planks that extend over the cliff and give you five different thrills, before we had to head back and catch the last ride down the mountain or be stuck there overnight!

 Andy and our rental:  a Ford Fiesta

Last stop, Vienna!  Where, we didn't take many photos it seems.  Which might be because I left the plug converter in the room in Prague, and we ran out of camera battery and were unable to charge it... but I can't remember.
Vienna: we discovered that the same operation that we rented bikes from in Salzburg, was in Vienna, where we were already set up! You pop your credit card in a machine, enter your password information, and it unlocks a bike for you to rent by the hour, seriously, why is this not in San Francisco (and for a euro an hour!)??   So we tried to see Vienna on bike, but got lost, and had an unsuccessful day.  We made it out to the Danube, and saw a much more real-life side of Vienna then we maybe needed to, but we capped off the night with our favorite dinner treat:  a sausage served "hot dog" style, meaning they take a long roll, like a sour dough roll, cut the top off and make a little hole and stick it on a spike. Then in the hole that the spike makes, they pump in mustard, and then shove in your sausage!  It's all perfectly contained in the bread, and is all the sausagey perfection I could ask for. YUM!

The next day, we had tickets to see the Lipizzaners at the Spanish Riding School.  They only had performances on Saturdays, which we weren't there for, but they sell tickets to their morning practices on some weekdays.  Oh MAN, soo great!  Word of caution, the arena is indoors, and if you're allergic to horses, like me, it's pure misery.  You're not allowed to take pictures, and I obeyed.  We then toured the Hoffberg's palace, Schlas Schonnbrunn, and got wine on the canal in the Palace Urania.

Schonnbrunn Palace

ein Sachertorte und zwei cappuccino

And then we flew forever, got delayed on the runway for four hours and missed our connection in Boston and got a wonderful nights sleep at a hotel courtesy of the airline, before giving up our seats the next morning and getting a $700 voucher! And then we're home. Whew! Can you believe it?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fresh Friday

I'm starting a series this year, to partner with my resolution to eat locally AND seasonally. "Fresh Fridays!"  I know how much easier it is to do this in California than most other places in the country, however, let me just tell you, we're getting slightly over eating winter greens in our house. Here's the deal:  we're using our CSA box and a food wheel as our guides -- even if the food wheel doesn't say it, if it comes in our CSA box, we count it as allowable, and can buy more of that from the market if we need to.  In the Bay Area, seasonal vegetables in January are bitter leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, and we're getting leeks, broccoli, romanesco, oranges, some apples, and winter squash. Frozen and canned food is allowed, however, we're really trying to be local as well, and are therefore trying to avoid them as much as possible.

Week 1:

Winter Squash Baked Risotto  (this recipe is adapted from one from Real Simple, and it's both simple and amazingly delicious. We've made it so far with butternut, acorn, and red kuri squashes, all have been great!)

about 3 cups of squash cut into 3/4 inch cubes.
1 cup pearl barley
about 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 or 8 oz of spinach, however much you like/have
salt and pepper
tsp of garlic

Prep your squash and your onion, pre-heat oven to 350, and then heat olive oil in a dutch oven on the stove. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft, about 3 minutes, crack some salt and pepper in there.  Add the squash and saute another 5 minutes until it's soft too.  Add the barley and stir, cook for one minute, add the wine, cook for another 3 minutes, add the broth, stir and bring to a boil.  Put the lid on and transfer your dutch oven to the heated oven, and cook for 45 minutes.  Pull it out, stir in the butter and most of the Parmesan, and then the spinach.  Garnish with the rest of the parm sprinkled on top.  Serve it with your same dry white and enjoy!  serves about 6.

photo credit: Real Simple

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Resolutions: 2012

2011 resolutions were largely culinary, and we did pretty well, aside from some weight gain:
*produce from the farmers markets, go weekly. (this turned into a CSA box instead)
*pick up our wine shipment in person at least 4 times a year (good reason to get out of the city for the day)
*meal plan weekly
*try at least two new recipes a week
*leave the country at least once

So, for 2012 I'm resolving to:
*buy only seasonal veggies if more than the CSA is needed --this means no tomatoes for a while, and right now it's meaning a LOT of bitter winter greens and squash.
*fight the inappropriate growth of my body
*run a race
*limit meat to one meal a week, if that
*allow myself the freedom to be a better friend, even if I can't be a perfect one
*deepen my relationships at work
*leave the country at least once

Sunday, January 8, 2012

four month sum-up

we traveled, we loved, we ate, we celebrated!

September and October were nuts for us.  Saudi Arabia (Andy), San Diego, Seattle, Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, 30!, Holiday, Bend. whew.

Andy and I celebrated our 1st year of marriage in Seattle, where Andy had a conference.  We spend a couple days in his conference hotel downtown, and while Andy taught and learned, I saw friends and played in the City, and then we spent the weekend with some friends in Ballard, along with some other friends who drove up from Portland.  We got to see my family for dinner one night, and spent Sunday with them, eating an amazing brunch and swimming in a fabulous pool.  It was full and lovely. We didn't take any pictures if you can believe it.

I marked 30 with glam.  Call these the crisis of turning twenty-ten, by Valentino:

(I was also spoiled by my wonderful husband, who also felt the need to mark the occasion.)

Hello Central Europe!  We took a fabulous trip to Central Europe, into Berlin and out of Vienna.  We had thought we'd spend the time in either Argentina or Italy, but with Andy's recent travels to the Middle East, we had enough airline miles to book a trip, and those places were unavailable.  We decided to pick the dates, and go where ever we could get tickets, and this worked, so we booked it, and started planning.  Two glorious weeks that felt like a second honeymoon, and were a blessing to be away from work, away from life, and enjoying each other and our spirits of adventure.

We spent Thanksgiving with The Coughlin/Walther side of the family, but here in the Bay.  Andy's folks came down and cousins came up, and it was a huge, fun day of family and fun, before the misery of the Holiday shopping season hit my life. We spent Christmas just the two of us, and cooked a fabulous meal where I roasted my first chicken. Vegetarian no more!

 Andy headed up to Oregon the next day, and I joined him a few days later, and we got just enough snow to satisfy before we headed off to the high desert for New Years.

Now, enough wrap-up, here's some hot NYE shoe:   Palais peep toes from YSL.

Happy New Year!!

We spent our 2011-2012 transition in Oregon with Andy's fam, and spent NYE and a friend's Birthday by renting a cabin at Brasada Ranch, about 30 minutes outside of Bend, Oregon.  If you are looking for a perfect high-desert resort with mountain views and amazing facilities, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Central Europe 2011 Part II, Czech Replublic

We kicked it down to Prague for the next week.  Oh Prague.  Those copper-topped buildings, and cobblestone streets (murder on your feet but so pretty to look at), pints of delicious Czech beer for less than $2! Bridges and rivers and palaces!  We saw The Marriage of Figaro, performed by the Czech National Opera, in the same opera house debuted Don Giovanni in.  Beautiful.  We spent our last coins on two champagnes during intermission, instead of dinner.  La Vie Bohem!! After the opera, we went out dancing, and learned that we were just too old for it, at least for that club.  We tried.  We spent several days exploring the streets, the sights, the many cathedrals, and fighting the cold air by drinking our weight in hot wine.  We ate heavy Czech food, too much sausage and cabbage and dumplings, but the perfect amount of delicious pilsner. 

wine at the palace vinyard

on the Charles Bridge

John Lennon wall

We took a day trip out to Kutna Hora, a mining town about an hour train ride away, where we took a tour of an old silver mine (!!!).  Incredible, but maybe a little wetter and drippier than I had expected.  (Andy loved every second of it, I was creeped and ready to be out after about five minutes of the 90 minute tour.)

On our way down to Austria, our train had a stopover in Czesky Budjovic, which just happens to be where the Budvar brewery is (Budvar is the 2nd largest Czech beer brewer after Urquel), and so we decided to extend our time in Czech Republic by extending our stopover and getting out into the town.  Like so many other things on our trip (Guggenheim closed for a changing of exhibit, Josefhov sites all shut for Yom Kippur, funicular railway out of service) our timing was off and it wasn't a work day, so I didn't get to see any machines in action, but the beer was delicious.  We hung out in the pub to kill time before our train, and tried all the beers we could drink.

 (I LOVE how things are made)

 Fun fact:  When Anheiser Busch was coming up with a name for their beer, they chose Budweiser because  the Czech's Budweiser Budvar is synonimous with "good beer."  

Central Europe 2011 Part I, Berlin

Per usual international travel, I got sick on the way over, and our first few days, in Berlin especially, were full of fevers and constantly watering eyes and a raw, red nose. Unfortunately, we kind of missed out on Berlin.  We were there for Sunday and Monday nights, the two nights that Berlin, the city that doesn't sleep, slept.  We found no dancing, no clubs, and empty bars. We did see all of the historical sights we could, go to an outdoor flea market, see the Lars Van Trier movie Melancholia in a fabulous old theatre, and become proficient in the Berlin train system.

 We did, however, catch the tail end of Oktoberfest, and found Berlin's little celebration of it, where we drank beer, ate pretzels and danced some polka.  It felt like our time in Berlin was a huge history and cultural lesson, as we experienced the city torn in two, and full of a tortured and horrific past, coming to flourish in art, fashion, and culture. It was also the birthplace of my love of mulled wine, or there called: hot wine.