Lovely Day for a Picnic


picnic in presidio

Two weekends ago we were looking for something fun to do for my mother in-law’s last Sunday before heading back home. She had been WONDERFUL enough to stay with us for almost a month to help out with the baby before she was enrolled in daycare full time. She said she had never experienced the delicious glory that are food trucks before so I initially thought maybe we could hit up the Friday night Off The Grid meetup at Fort Mason. As we got closer to Friday, we realized what a pain it would be driving into the city during rush hour on a Friday with a baby. Not happening. 

Thankfully, I looked at their site and discovered they do Picnic in the Presidio on Sundays. How did I not know about this? I love picnics and even more, I love picnics with food trucks. It was on.

As we started driving into the city, the weather was cold and foggy. Typical. However, after we parked the car in the Presidio and walked over to the main lawn, it was like the sun was shining only in this spot in the city. It was gorgeous out. We met up with some friends who found a spot on the lawn and set up camp. We parked our enormous jogging stroller, spread out the blanket and immediately scoped out our surroundings. There were SOOO many options! How does one choose just one? You don’t. First thing was first- my mother in-law and I went straight for the bar (yup, they have a bar tent) and got ourselves a Pimm’s Cup and a Bloody Mary. Now were were ready to deal with some of the long lines. 

I was starving so ended up seeking a stand with a short line and got a vegan sausage with kraut. Pretty damn good. I also sought out a dessert stand and got some cookies and creme brulee. We enjoyed our food and good company in the beautiful sunshine on the Presidio lawn in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Not a bad day.

addie tired picnic

 

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National Cheeseball Day!


I’m a big fan of food holidays and April 17th is National Cheeseball Day! No, not the corny comedy kind of cheeseball but the decadent, rich, edible kind.

To say cheese has been an essential part of my diet growing up would diminish its importance. I lived on cheese. I grew up in Central New York (yes, there is more to New York than New York City) and part of our property actually was used by dairy farmers. I woke up every morning to the sound of cows and can’t tell you how many times I had to stop my car in the road on my way to school to wait for a cow to finish crossing. (It really happens.) Most meals had some form of cheese and many snacks consisted of peeling plastic layers from sliced cheese after a soccer practice followed by a sleeve of thin mints.

One memory that is vivid is my late grandmother’s absolute obsession with those port wine cheeseballs that you get from Hickory Farms. There was always one in the house. I can smell it just thinking about it. They even became a staple at our Christmas Eve gatherings. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the holiday tray of port balls and crackers and I’ve since pretty much given up dairy. Hard to believe, I know. I’m not a strict vegan by any means given my weak, weak will power, but I have really cut back on animal products of any kind- including my beloved cheese. 

Recently, I had my first pasta alfredo without cheese. Seems a bit like an oxymoron, but bare with me. You can actually make an incredible “cheese” sauce from cashews. It really tastes like cheese. When I discovered this and that it’s actually really delicious, I felt like I was cheating the system- above the law! 

I don’t have a lot of experience making vegan cheese but am definitely going to experiment more. I even have a one pound bag of cashews in my cabinet waiting for me. For those who are already well-versed in the language of vegan cheeses,  Native Foods Café is having a contest for the best vegan cheeseballs. Maybe I’ll enter next year after some practice. I am sure SOMEONE has to have a recipe that will fool my family on Christmas Eve into thinking they are eating the real thing.

Anywhoooo, check out their Facebook page where they will announce the winner. I highly recommend trying out some recipes. Even a girl growing up around dairy farms can get behind it.

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New Site is the LinkedIn for Chefs


Ok friends, I’ve got the scoop on a new site that is exciting for foodies and techies alike and frankly, it’s genius! It’s called Chef’s Roll and simply put, it’s the LinkedIn for chefs.

Chef’s Roll allows chefs to create online profiles for themselves where they can showcase their experience and abilities, including adding pictures and video. With their motto “Presentation is Everything”, it also allows chefs to market themselves in social media and will soon include a job board. 

The first thing that comes to my mind is “why did I not think of this?” Seriously, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, LOVE all things food and have worked in media and tech. I’m grounding myself. Absolutely kicking myself. However, hats off to the founders in San Diego who DID think of this, Thomas Keslinke and Frans van der Lee. Finally chefs will be able to have an online presence and community where they can look for jobs and show off their stuff.

I’m very familiar with startups and new sites, especially living in an area where they are abundant. I’ve even written for several. This one has some serious clout. It’s been endorsed by Cedric Vongerichten (Perry St., NY), David Burke (David Burke Group), Taji Marie (chef, food writer, consultant) and one of my favorite chefs and tv personalities Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame. In fact, Top Chef has actually used Chef’s Roll for casting and if you have read my blog before or know me at all, you know I’m not only a Top Chef addict but actually appeared on one episode. (ahem! insert humblebrag here. Ok, there were four shots of me in a crowd and every single one was the back of my head- minor details.)

Chef’s Roll was also selected for a technology incubator program, Accelerate-IT’s Launch-U, to help the business quickly scale and grow. I think you will be hearing a lot more about this site, but remember you heard it here first and don’t forget to check it out whether you’re a restaurateur, chef or just an obsessed foodie.

Chef’s Roll
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChefsRoll

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Lentil Sloppy Joes


lentilSloppyJoes

I’ve clearly been on a lentil kick and this is my second lentil comfort-food recipe in a row. I’ve made vegetarian sloppy joes in the past, but previously used seitan. This version uses a natural protein and the bonus is this is super easy to make!

Lentil Sloppy Joes
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Ingredients
  1. 1 yellow onion, diced
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 28oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes
  4. 1 Cup green lentils
  5. 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  6. 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  7. 1/2 tsp cayenne
  8. 1/2 tsp chili powder
  9. 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  10. 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  11. olive oil
  12. salt and pepper to taste
  13. Sandwich rolls
Instructions
  1. Heat a pot of water to boiling. Add green lentils and cook about 40 minutes or as directed on the package.
  2. In a dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Finely mince the garlic and dice the onion. Add to the dutch oven and sauté about 4 minutes. Add red wine vinegar, worcestershire, cayenne, chili powder, thyme and mustard and stir. Add crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer.
  3. Drain the lentils. Add the lentils to the sauce and stir. Cover and simmer on low heat about 25 minutes.
  4. Serve on sandwich rolls or hamburger buns.
Notes
  1. Check the ingredients on your Worcestershire sauce. Most have tiny amounts of anchovy paste in it so good to know if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan.
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Red Curry Lentil Soup


IMG_5720

(apologies for the pic quality- have not had time to take out my lighting kits so resort to cell phone pics , especially with a colicky baby!) 

I really enjoy making soups. It’s a great way to experiment with flavors and they are easy, one-pot meals. Here is a recipe for a red curry lentil soup that is warming and comforting. Perfect for anyone on the east coast experiencing after effects of the polar vortex!

 

Red Curry Lentil Soup
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Ingredients
  1. Olive oil
  2. 2 carrots
  3. 2 stalks of celery
  4. 1/2 yellow onion
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 32oz container "No Chicken Broth" or Vegetable broth
  7. 5 tsp thai red curry paste
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 6 cups cooked green lentils
  10. 3 cups chopped flat kale
  11. 1 13oz can lite coconut milk
  12. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Finely dice the celery, onion and carrot. Add to the oil and cook about 4 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the carrots, celery and onion and cook about 1 minute. Add the curry paste and broth and stir until smooth. Add the bay leaf, lentils, kale, salt and coconut milk. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper as desired.
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