Friday, December 15, 2017

Grandma's Sinigang #SoupSwappers

In January, Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm kicked off her new group: Soup Saturday Swappers. And I love it every month. I always walk away with some great new recipes to try. What a fun year. What a great event.

This month, Wendy is hosting with a theme of 'Thanks for the Memories.' She writes: "Share a soup that has special memories for you. Perhaps it is a soup that was served each holiday season. Maybe the soup your Mom or Grandma gave you when you were sick. A soup from a special dinner date or vacation. Share not only the recipe but the memories associated with it."

Food - tastes and aromas - evoke so many memories. I was excited to put on a thinking cap for this one. Here's what everyone else shared.

I wanted to share a memory of my grandmother. Naturally, my sweetest memory of my grandmother involved food. Here goes. Well, first some photos. I'm grateful that my boys were able to meet - and remember - my grandmother. She was a wonderful woman and an amazing cook.


Sinigang 101
From the piquant tamarind to the bitter mustard greens, Grandma's sinigang was always my favorite. Over the years, I would ask her for the recipe or, at the very least, to let me watch her cook it so I could learn. She would always decline, saying, "No, Cami, whenever you want sinigang, you just come visit." So, I did.

On one visit, I brought my boyfriend Jacob - now my husband and the father of two of her great-grandsons - and Grandma had a pot of sinigang on the stove. Grandma ladled out steaming bowls and we sat down together. Now that I think about it, she didn't start eating right away; she just watched Jacob dig in. He was as smitten as I was, asking if I knew how to make sinigang. I explained that no, it was a secret recipe and that Grandma was never going to give me the recipe because she preferred to culinarily blackmail me: as long as I didn't know how to make it on my own, I would have to come visit to get it

At the end of the afternoon, Grandma walked us to the front door to say goodbye. As she hugged me, she said, "Now, I will show you how to make sinigang. Come back next week."

"Why now?" I asked, equally excited and flabbergasted.

She just smiled and patted Jacob's shoulder. "Don't worry. I will teach her how to make sinigang for you, Jacob."


Sinigang is a sour Filipino soup made with shrimp and tomatoes, characterized by its tangy-sour taste that comes from the use of the tamarind fruit.


  • 6 C water
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned but with head and tail intact
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 T pure tamarind paste
  • 1-1/2 C green beans, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1-1/2 C chopped greens (we like using mustard greens)

In a large pan, bring the water to a boil. Add in the tomatoes and onions and simmer for 30 minutes. Add in the green beans and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and season with fish sauce, to taste. Cook until shrimp are opaque, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in the greens until wilted. Season to taste with the tamarind.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy immediately with rice.

So many delicious memories of eating this at my grandparents' house. So grateful that my grandmother finally showed me how to make this.

Quince Crumble with Lillet Blanc Cordials #Winophiles

As we race towards the holiday season, and the end of the year, Jill of L'Occasion invited the French Winophiles to post about French dessert wines. You can read her full invitation: here. "Just as a dessert wine beautifies the winding-down of dinner, this experience eases us through the end of 2017 to a new and bright 2018," she writes. What a beautiful sentiment for our fun, wine-loving group!

What the Group is Pouring, Pairing, and Posting

What I Poured
Though I'm not much for sweet wines, I did have a bottle of Lillet Blanc in the fridge that I had used for my Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired Ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb! Martini.

Lillet Blanc is comprised of 80% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Muscadelle. While I usually think of this as a light, summer option, its floral notes reminded me of elderflower liqueur, so I thought to use it as I would an elderflower liqueur. Then I served the dessert with a lovely cordial of Lillet!

What I Baked
Autumn and Winter mean baking for me. Lots and lots of baking. Okay, truth be told, I bake all year long. But when the days get shorter and colder, I bake more. And when I saw a basket full of quince I think I squealed. Literally squealed. People stared. Oh, well...if they don't understand my joy at seeing this elusive fruit, too bad.

I adore quince. If you're unfamiliar, here's a piece I wrote for Edible Monterey Bay a couple of years back: Queen of Quince Takes Her Show on the Road

Ingredients serves 6 to 8
  • 4 or 5 quince
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t Lillet Blanc
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 T organic corn starch
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 C butter, cubed
  • 1 T Lillet Blanc

Rinse the quince and place them in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 75 to 90 minutes until the quince is tender. The fruit will turn golden; the longer you poach it, the more pinkish it becomes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a baking dish.

Slice drained, poached quince in half. Remove the cores and stems. Cut into thick slices and place in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with corn starch, sugar, cinnamon, Lillet Blanc, and lemon juice.

Toss to coat. Spoon the quince into your prepared baking dish.

For the all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and use a pastry cutter to create pea-sized chunks.

Spoon the topping over the quince and use a spatula to spread it over the top. 

Bake the crumble for 40-50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot with a cordial of Lillet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Feeding Minds and Creating Life-Long Readers #MomsMeet #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Moms Meet
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review, 
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I focus on food and our family's culinary adventures; I also write about food inspired by books that I've read. This is slightly different in that I'm writing not about actually food. I'm focusing on feeding kids' minds and creating life-long learners.

In a blink of an eye, it seems, they go from this... this.

My boys are never far from books! This is R just after two different signings with his new books. The first was meeting Greg Mortensen in 2010 and the second from meeting Andy Weir just last week.

Through my association with Moms Meet -I received a selection of books from National Geographic, including Hey Baby: A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature's Nursery. You might think it an odd book for a mother of two teenage boys to read and review, but we have shelves full of books just like this; they have always preferred books about natural history to pure fiction. So, I've read many, many of these kinds of books over the years. And this one is a beauty.

My Thoughts on the Book
This book is a delight to look at and to consume...kinda like a beautiful dish. There are vivid photographs and engaging stories and poems in addition to the purely factual information about all the animals and their habitat. The book is organized by habitat. We particularly enjoyed the folktales from around the world. And while you might think this is a children's book, all of us in our household - from ages 13 to 44 - enjoyed consuming text and images. We sat on the couch and took turns selecting a page and sharing it.

Why Read to Them?
When you read to your kids, you form a habit of reading. They see reading as part of life...kinda like eating. Yes, I always do bring my posts back around to food. My boys always have a book tucked into their bags - or my bag - when we go to events. It helps pass the time!

My husband and I joke that some parents take their teens to rock concerts. We take our kids to author meet-and-greets. Just last week we drove up to Santa Cruz to hear and meet Andy Weir, the author of The Martian and, newly released,  Artemis. "He's a rockstar, Mom!" they both quipped. I agree.

 Can you spot us in this seas of nerdiness? [photo by host Bookshop Santa Cruz]

When you have readers, they are constantly learning. Each book can transport them to a time or place, especially if it's a historical work. Books can challenge them to think about concepts in different ways.

Readers are life-long learners. And this process starts waaaaaay before they themselves know how to read. So, I'll get off my soapbox, but just do it. Read to your kids! And books such as these are engaging ways to get them excited about reading.

Giving Back and Where to Buy
Purchases of National Geographic Kids books support National Geographic Society in their efforts in conservation, research, and exploration. You can purchase Hey Baby! and other titles from stores such as Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million, from local independent bookstores, from mass merchants such as Target, Costco, Walmart, and from Amazon.

You may find National Geographic...
on the web
on Twitter

Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program,
May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Oklahoma Cookies v. 2017

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you'll know the history of these cookies. They are always my first large batch of holiday cookies each year because now I can laugh about it. And the boys get a kick out of hearing the story while they eat them. But, when it happened, I cried and cried. You can read about The Great Oklahoma Cookie Diss of 2003.

This year's version includes twp different kinds of nuts and some coffee extract that gives them a little bit of a mocha flavor. They are so tasty.

Ingredients makes approximately 5 dozen cookies
  • 4 C semisweet chocolate chunks, divided in half
  • 2-2/3 C flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t freshly ground sea salt
  • 1 C butter
  • 1 C organic dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t pure coffee extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 1 C raw pecans, chopped
  • 1 C slivered almonds
  • 1 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt 2 C chocolate in a double-boiler  over low heat.

Stir until smooth and remove from heat. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar and coffee extract in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in remaining 2 C of chocolate, cranberries, cinnamon, and nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto silicone or parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are slightly puffed. Cool on baking sheets for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks and cool completely. Enjoy!

Success! Now I just need to make another batch. Because, by the time my cookie monsters were finished, I didn't have enough cookies to package up for other people...and certainly not enough for the cookie tray I need to be filling for D's Christmas party on Friday.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pickled Chard Stems

Somewhere, awhile ago I read a recipe for pickled chard stems. If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you'll probably know that I love to pickle things. Anything. Along with the usual pickles - cucumbers (though they were a Japanese smashed pickle), carrots, and beets - I've pickled Golden CauliflowerPeppersRed OnionsGreen TomatoesRadishes, and even Blueberries and CranberriesBut, it never occurred to me to pickle chard stems! If I happen to be making stock, I'll toss the stems in; otherwise, they go straight to the compost bin.

And, since I couldn't find the original article I read about pickling chard stems, I just decided to make up a pickling recipe. As I mentioned, I'm a pickling fiend.

Ingredients makes 1 cup
  • about 1 cup chopped chard stems (any color, I used rainbow chard)
  • 2 t salt, divided
  • 1 t dill seeds
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • ¼ C apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ C rice vinegar
  • 3 T raw cane sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, destemmed

Rinse and chop your chard stems into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle them with 1 t salt. Toss to coat and set aside.

Place the vinegars, sugar, and 1 t salt in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Swirl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat, stir in the dill and fennel seeds. Let the brine cool.

Rinse and drain the chopped stems and place them in a jar, cover them with the brine and refrigerate overnight before eating them. I used them as a flavor foil to a creamy lobster roll. I also served them with a fennel slaw and pickled okra.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Coffee is the Foundation of My Food Pyramid #FoodieReads

Let's just start with this: Coffee is the foundation of my food pyramid. And this book tells me that I'm not alone. Coffee Gives Me Superpowers by Ryoko Iwata*.

This is a really cute book that's fun and educational with just the right amount of snark (which I just learned is actually a combination of 'snide' and 'remark'! That makes total sense.)

The Coffee Snob: "'s pronounced 'espresso', not 'eXpresso.' Also real coffee must first be cleansed in the tears of sacred Peruvian yaks. Also, I have no friends" (pg. 13).

On why it's called a 'cup of Joe', after Josephus Daniels: "Coffee became a clean and righteous substitute for booze and debauchery. Coffee = Bean juice from Jesus" (pp. 79-81).

Okay, I have been known to scoff at Starbucks drinks. I mean, they really taste like dessert in a cup. Now I have calorie counts...and will never order any of these creations. Seriously. "Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha = 520 calories or the equivalent of 3.7 cans of Coca-Cola" (pg. 61).

World's Most Expensive Coffee: "Black Ivory Coffee, which comes from elephant poop, is now the most expensive coffee in the world at 2 cups for $50" (pg. 17). No, just no.

If you make coffee a routine part of your day, you'll get a kick out of this book.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in December 2017: here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Sips Worth Sharing #WinePW

Today the Wine Pairing Weekend crew is posting about Giving the Gift of Wine. You can read David's preview on Cooking Chat. It's timely as we race headlong into the holiday season.

As Christmas approaches, I always tend to have extra wine bottles on case people drop by and I want to uncork something or in case we are invited somewhere and I need a quick hostess present. Also, wines are a favorite gift for most of my circle. So, there's lots and lots of wine swapping.

But this Wine Pairing Weekend event was the first time I actually stopped to think about why I pick the bottles that I pick as well as which bottles I share the most.

Giving the Gift of Wine
Here are the topics the #winePW crew will be covering: 

Be sure to check on Saturday morning for these great articles! We will also hold a live Twitter chat on Saturday, Dec. 9., 11 am Easter Time / 8 a.m. Pacific. Just tune into the #winePW hashtag on Twitter at that time to join the conversation. You can check out past and future #winePW topics by visiting this page.

Sips Worth Sharing
I put out a call for favorite bottles and came up with a list of bottles I need to track down. But what I decided to share with this post boils down to this: share sips and bottles that, first, you have actually tried and, second, have a great story you can share with the recipient. That's it.

And the best gifts are the bottles you actually want to squirrel away for yourself! A few of my favorites are bottles from Hundred Suns (it's like Bottled Poetry), Donkey & Goat (love that they have an 'esoteric' category in their wine list), Pierce Ranch Vineyards (a Spanish and Portuguese emphasis right here on California's central coast), and I. Brand & Family Wines (local-to-me winemaker who was named by Wine Enthusiast Magazine to its "40 Under 40: American Tastemakers" in 2012...and, yes, it was well-deserved). Additionally, I always have a case of prosecco ready at this time of year because Italian bubbles always make me smile and it's a good bet that almost everyone enjoys a good bottle of sparkling wine.

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