Archive | July, 2012

Vitamin D and Civilization

20 Jul

It’s amazing what Vitamin D and civilization will do for a girl.  While there are many things I love about Coos Bay, the Southern California sun and, yes, a Starbucks on every corner, does add to an already wonderful vacation.

We started off with a night camping in Napa.  It was a beautiful campsite with a view of Clear Lake and vineyards off in the distance.  Sig showed his guard-dog nature lowly growling at the nearby treacherous wildlife (most likely a squirrel, chipmunk, or maybe a frog).  Dinner consisted of a rack of lamb, quinoa, and sautéed kale with fennel and scallions all cooked over a Coleman stove.

Overboard, yes.  Ridiculous, slightly, but – and here comes the whiney voice – I kind of had a high bar to meet hearing my Eagle Scout husband’s campfire cooking stories of bacon-wrapped game hens and baked beans cooked in a hollowed out pineapple.  To quote my mom, “Where were the hotdogs?!”

After a grueling 111-degree drive through the central valley I-5 corridor, we arrived at my parents’ house for a long, and well-needed vacation.

We partook in a fabulous birthday jaunt to Hollywood to celebrate in style, including personalized fusion drinks at the Library Bar, and antique bowling next to Zach Braff and Donald Faison (yes, I just name-dropped).  I ate lamb belly for the first time; it had the soft, buttery texture of braised pork belly with the lamb grassiness that is so unique yet specific.  It was fantastic paired with couscous, but was certainly trumped by chatting with Zach Braff (yep, did it again).  The next day we drove through Rodeo Drive, but for Rob’s fear of immediate bankruptcy, we didn’t stop, and then spent the rest of the day lazily lying around from having stayed up late partying with Zach Braff (third time’s the charm).  The weekend ended with homemade birthday rib-eye steaks, Mom’s grilled onions, and scalloped potatoes, all favorites in the Tamminen and O’Donnell household.

Movie stars, I mean, Mom, Jenn, and me at the Library Bar in Hollywood.

After such a crazy school year, right now, I am mostly enjoying long walks around the lake with Sig, casually sitting on the kitchen counters chatting with Mom, reconnecting with great friends, and comfortably wearing tank tops.  My mom and I have taken turns cooking, and I think we make a great team.  The heat has lent to lighter dishes, such as seared Ahi, tortellini salad, and one of which I’ve included below.  You can’t come to California without eating a fish taco, and I’ve tried my hand at many versions, never really getting it perfectly right.  The SoCal inspiration worked – I think I did it this time.  You be the judge.

There’s still another week left in my vacation; I’m sure there’s more relaxing times, and more delicious dishes to come.  I’m off to work on my tan with a Starbucks in hand!  Happy summer!

Halibut Tacos (serves 4-6)…. sorry, in all the cooking fun I forgot to take a picture.  But I promise it still tastes amazing!  

  • 2 lbs fresh Halibut (1/8-1/4 lb for each taco)
  • 1 head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp good mayo
  • juice 2 limes
  • about 1 tsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp Agave
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • few tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • few dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • s&p
  • Corn or flour tortillas (or both!)
  • Extra limes and cilantro for garnish

 To cook the halibut, heat the grill to med-high heat.  Put the halibut on aluminum foil, and prepare with a few tablespoons of olive oil (because halibut can dry out), juice of 1 lime, the white whine, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, a few springs of cilantro (no need to chop them) and s&p. 

Fold over the sides of the aluminum to make a vented pouch for the fish.  Put on the grill – no need to flip – until just cooked (fish should flake easily, but still show shininess and moisture), about 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the aioli sauce.  Mix the mayo, juice of 1 lime, garlic, cilantro, paprika, and s&p to taste.  Make sure the mixture combines smoothly, and remember, the longer it sits, the better it tastes.

If you wish, heat up the tortillas in the oven. 

When the fish is done, slice it into chunks that easily fit in the tortilla, about 1 inch by 4 inches.  Put a healthy shmear of the sauce on the tortilla, then place the fish on the sauce.  Top with the cabbage, and a tiny sprinkling of cinnamon (it is AMAZING what the cinnamon adds to this dish – may sound strange, but trust me, it’s fantastic).  Garnish with whole cilantro leaves, and lime wedges.

Enjoy with margaritas!!!

*******

If anyone wants a the lamb-dish recipe, just let me know… it’s a rough recipe (meaning not precise due to camping circumstances), but it, too, was very tasty.  Maybe even better than a hot dog. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

What a Birthday

5 Jul

There’s a school of thought that the infamous “they” proclaim which says the way you are on New Years Day is what shapes the way you’ll be the entire year.   That, among other reasons is why I like to wake up rested, sans hangover, on New Years Day.  I’m hoping the same mindset goes for the 4th of July – the way the 4th is spent will shape the rest of the summer.  If it’s true (and being that I like to occasionally make up my own silly superstitions and pass them on so others will become similarly superstitious), then Rob and I are in for a summertime treat.

Our 4th of July started out with sunshine and ended with sparklers.  We had a perfect day – simple, humble, and just enough of our own festivities to make the day special.  The sun woke us up later than usual (thank you, Sig, for not barking at 5:something in the morning!), and proceeded to draw us up the Oregon Coast towards Cape Perpetua.  The almost 3-mile hike is straight uphill with switchbacks completely up and down.  It helps that the mountain faces the south, thus blocking the Arctic Ocean winds, but doesn’t make the climb any less strenuous.  Climbing only a couple feet behind Rob, my face was level with the small of his back and I could clearly see the sweat soaking through his quickly-turning-darker-shades-of-green shirt.  At one point the sweat turned to stink.

“Oh, well I don’t have any deodorant on,” said like that was totally normal.

“Why wouldn’t you put on deodorant this morning when you knew we were going hiking?”

“Because I’m clean.”

Ok then.

Notwithstanding the climb, it brought us to a view that can only be described with a noise.  A gasping “wow” under the breath might suffice.  Or maybe a low whistle would do.  But if I had to use words, I would only need one: freakingamazing.

We stayed at the top for a while, sitting on stone look-out fence, quietly chatting but mostly not, hoping to see a whale and soaking in the sun with un-SPF-protected skin.  The sea was not nearly calm, but from way up high it looked like dark, etched glass.  The lava-rock cliff beneath us showed millions of years of growth with succulents and wildflowers singing with bees and birds doing their biological jobs, despite the national holiday.  The tropical view made a contrasting picture with the mountain pines standing like tall, skinny guards bordering the horizon.  It made us long for a tropical drink and a bowl of chili at the same time.  A zucchini salad at the bottom of the mountain would have to do.  With our pasty Oregon skin starting to burn, and stomachs starting to growl, we made the trek down the mountain, and a beeline towards the nearest picnic table.

Eating with bamboo forks right out of the bowl, we devoured the salad.  And not just because we were hungry.  The combination of grilled zucchini, sweet cranberries, tangy goat cheese, and pop-in-your-mouth pine nuts made for the perfect outdoor travel lunch.  One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is grill zucchini with olive oil, s&p, and a sprinkling of dried oregano; it’s a great side dish, or even a snack.  But this way may be my new favorite.

Like I tend to do in cars, I fell asleep on the ride home.  We had hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner, and lit our sparkler centerpiece after dusk, waving the wands around like little kids.  At that moment, Sig was probably the most mature out of the bunch.  It was a 4th for the books.

Grilled Zucchini Salad (serves 2 hungry hikers)

  • 2 med-large zucchini, sliced lengthwise 
  • ¼ c dried cranberries
  • ¼ c toasted pine nuts (I toast mine in a dry pan over high heat)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • few leaves of basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • s&p

On a large grill-pan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  Prepare the zucchini by drizzling the other tbps of olive oil, oregano, and s&p over the slices.  When the grill is hot (the oil will shimmer like the sun reflecting off the ocean), place the zucchini on the grill cut-side down.  Leave to grill – and do not bother – until brown grill-marks appear, about 5 minutes.  Flip zucchini and grill until the veg is just tender, but still has bite.  Set zucchini aside to cool.

When cool, slice the zucchini lengthwise again (now, there should be 8 slices).  Slice those into bite-sized pieces, like little triangles.  Pour into a bowl, and add the cranberries, nuts, and goat cheese.  Mix well, taste for seasoning, and top with basil.

Enjoy!  

 

 

%d bloggers like this: