Weekend in Yosemite


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Psalm 95

I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend! We took a sporadic camping trip to Yosemite to meet up with some of our dearest friends from Okinawa. If you've never been to Yosemite, I hope you'll get to go some day. From the gorgeous meadows in the valley looking up at El Cap and Half Dome, or gazing out at the peaks from 3,200 feet high at Glacier Point, we could not help but stand still in wonder. It is absolutely breathtaking.

It got so cold at night that we put John Shea in three fleece outfits and snuggled him up with me in my sleeping bag. He punched me in the face all night long and shoved Cam and I both out from the covers (the boy likes his space when he sleeps, duly noted!), but he woke up happy and ready for more dirt. Traveling anywhere with him is rarely easy, but we are thankful for what a little trooper he is and his sweetness and sense of adventure every time we take him somewhere new. We are thankful too for an amazing and beautiful weekend, especially right before starting our Croatian language classes (today!!). Coopers, we love you and loved getting to spend time together, catching up while hiking, walking in those glorious meadows with deer just feet away and around the campfire!

Warm Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini Drizzled in Honey and Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This was our appetizer for Friday night's Olmsted dinner at our house and a little something I've been making a few times a week now that figs are in season. We can't get enough!! Since we had 14 people over (Cam and I loved getting to know everyone better!) I wanted to make a simple yet special dinner that could be served family-style. We had these crostini, lemon and garlic marinated chicken that Cam grilled, roasted new summer potatoes and beets with fresh pesto for dipping, a big farmer's market salad and my stone fruit and blackberry cobbler for dessert. It was a good night.

For these crostini, like any simple recipe, the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference. Not everyone has access to a farmer's market or to locally grown fruit, or even to fresh figs (hi friends in Okinawa!), but if you do, you'll almost always find juicier, riper, more flavorful ones than you would at the grocery store.

I rubbed the sourdough bread (feel free to use whichever kind of bread you'd like!) with fresh rosemary, olive oil and sea salt before spreading on goat cheese and popping it in the oven for five minutes to get the bread crispy and the cheese warm. Then a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, sliced fresh figs and a good drizzle of honey. So simple and so delicious.

Warm Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini Drizzled in Honey and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4-6 figs, sliced
4oz goat cheese
1/2 baguette sourdough bread (or whichever kind you prefer!)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the baguette into about 1/2 inch thick pieces. Generously drizzle olive oil over each piece and sprinkle on a bit of fine sea salt for taste. Rigorously rub in the olive oil and salt with a sprig of rosemary. If pieces of it come off on the bread, all the better. Spread enough goat cheese over each piece of bread to cover it. Use as much as you'd like :) Bake for about 5 minutes on the top rack of the oven, or until the bread has become golden and the cheese soft. Remove from the heat and drizzle on EVOO. Top with slices of fig and drizzle on honey. Serve immediately.

Suz's Wedding in Lake Tahoe


Monday, August 25, 2014

Suzy is a married laday!! She is one of my best friends from college and our paths continually cross all over the world... we were roommates in college, both studied abroad in Italia, spent Christmas together in Romania, then roommates for a semester in Washington, DC, both moved to DC, she moved to Maui and us to Japan, and now are both back in California again for a short time. We were together for a lot of the ups and downs of our early twenties. I love this girl (and her whole family) and am so happy for her. She was an absolutely gorgeous bride and did an amazing job planning her beautiful wedding at the Baker Estate in Lake Tahoe. She's always had great style so it was no surprise! The food was all local and so delicious, thanks to D'lish Catering. John Shea was chased by all the little ladies at the wedding, and he, Cam, Carie and I danced our hearts out before making the 6 hour drive back to Monterey. Cam drove all 12 hours of the roundtrip on Saturday and I love him for it!

Happy wedding day, Suzy and Ian Hathaway!

The Beginnings of Our Garden


Thursday, August 21, 2014

If you need John Shea, you can find him "helping" Daddy with the beginnings of our raised garden. He especially loves to play with the wood chips (Cam is using them as soil covering -- this was his inspiration!), eating dirt and cracking up while scooting his whole body through the tomato plants. These are not the greatest photos because I had to keep grabbing our little gardener before he pulled a basil plant clear out of the ground.

All of the empty spots are where seeds are planted. Cam built the raised bed when we moved into our house and has been working hard on it the past few weekends. It's such a joy to plant and watch God make it grow, and then eat the gorgeous, flavorful foods He made. We had a potted garden on our back deck in Okinawa, but so appreciate having one now in our backyard. We're loving it! Including planted seeds, we have pumpkins, summer squash, tomatoes, basil, oregano, arugula, rosemary, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, a couple varieties of flowers, and cilantro, parsley, carrots and broccoli on the way. We hope to be able to teach John Shea to know and appreciate where his food comes from as he grows up. We wish we were allowed to have backyard chickens here! I'll take more photos once the rest of our vegetables and flowers have grown in.

Summer Stone Fruit Sangria


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One of my favorite things about this summer has been our amazing local farmer's market in Monterey. Each week, I load up with so much stone fruit from Minazzoli Farms that I think there's no way we could possibly eat it all, but we always do. John Shea devoured three whole peaches by himself today! It is the juiciest, most delicious and ripe fruit we've ever tasted, that I've been adding peaches, nectarines, pluots and plums to just about everything I've been cooking... including this incredibly fresh sparkling sangria. It isn't the weekend, but every day is a precious gift so Tuesday sangria it is.

I usually like to make a white sangria with sauvignon blanc but we brought home Rosé from Boyd Family Vineyard in Napa last week that sounded perfect with fresh fruit. Sparkling cider adds bubbly and sweetness, and with the fruit juice, this is a fresh, flavorful and light sangria that embodies the end of summer. You can either use a blender or a juicer and takes no more than five minutes to make. Do you "juice"? Cam and I have been convinced by many friends and have heard great things about juicers from Williams-Sonoma

I hope that wherever you are, you have a wonderful rest of this Tuesday and get to relax outside tonight with a glass of sangria!

Summer Stone Fruit Sangria
(serves 8)

2 bottles Rosé, chilled
1 bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled
3 very ripe yellow peaches
3 very ripe yellow nectarines
3 very ripe pluots or plums
sprigs of fresh rosemary for garnish, optional

For optimal flavor, choose fruit that is ripe to the point of almost spoiling. It should be soft enough around the stem that when you lightly push your finger into the fruit, it leaves an indentation. Local farmer's markets usually have the best selection!

Blend or juice one of each of the three kinds of fruit until all of the fruit and skin has dissolved. Set aside. Slice the remaining fruit. In a large pitcher, stir to combine the fruit juice/purée with the rosé and sparkling cider. Add in the fruit slices and top with rosemary for a pretty garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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