30 December 2011

Two scrambles

Don't ask me why (My story is: "I had a baby this year"), but I waited until this week, yes the last week of the year, to finish my last ten continuing legal education credits that I am required to complete by December 31.  Here I am on December 30, scrambling to get them finished by watching "on demand" seminars late at night streamed to my laptop.  Only two more hours to go (and in true form I'm saving them for tomorrow so I can write this post before bed. ) What was I thinking putting off my CLEs?  This is not fun. 

What I would much rather be doing is sitting on a warm, sunny beach in Mexico enjoying cold beverages and delicious Mexican food with friends and family.  Oh wait!  That's what I did all last week.  (I know, I brought this on myself . . . )

Byron, Wyatt, and I spent a glorious seven days with our friends (and family) Jill, Mark, and Sadie in Cabo San Lucas, coming home to their house in San Francisco on Christmas Eve.  (I assure you that a separate post all about that fun week will be forthcoming upon completion of my CLE scramble.)

Current situation notwithstanding, the only scramble I've had occasion to think about lately is Mark's Mexican Egg Scramble, which I ate no less than three times (and possibly more) while in Cabo.  This dish, topped with all manner of salsas and avocado, became my favorite breakfast.  I suppose it was a good thing Mark whipped up this dish every day or so since we bought six dozen eggs (seriously) to eat over the week we were there.

I've taken a break from eggs for a while now that I'm home.  But when I start eating them again, I'll be scrambling up some eggs like this.

Mark's Mexican Scramble
serves 4-6

4 (or more) corn tortillas cut into half-inch strips
a bit of oil
8-10 eggs, broken into a bowl and scrambled together with a fork
4 ounces monterery jack cheese, cut into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Toppings: salsas, sour cream, hot sauce, avocado

Cut the tortillas into strips and toast them until they have some color and are crispy in a lightly oiled, nonstick skillet.  To keep the tortillas from getting soggy in the eggs, they have to be nice and crisp.

Add salt to the bowl of scrambled eggs, and pour the eggs into the skilled on top of the toasted strips, stirring up everything together.  When the eggs just begin to cook, add the pieces of cheese, and scramble everything together until cooked to the level of doneness that you desire.

Top the scramble with freshly made tomato-onion-cilantro salsa, ranchero sauce, hot sauce, slices of avocado, sour cream/plain yogurt or whatever combination of toppings you like best. Eat.

27 December 2011

A baby-proof Christmas

Despite my best intentions to post about some of the things we have been doing to celebrate the Christmas holiday, life this month has blitzed by and somehow I never got to it.  So I thought that before we take the Christmas tree down, which is slated for later today, I should tell you about it.  Mostly, I just wanted to remember how much fun Wyatt has had playing with the lowest branches and how we came up with a fairly kid-friendly solution to decorations this year.

As is our tradition, we ventured out with friends Ryan, Darcy, and Arlo to get the tree the day after Thanksgiving. We took home a noble fir that smells great, even now.  In an effort to keep the tree from being a child hazard and to eliminate one more "no zone" for Wyatt, we opted for simple decorations -- white lights and a felted wool garland.

Here's what I did: I recycled leftover half-inch-thick wool carpet padding for the garland.  My friend Carrie and her daughter, Mia, and I spent a good part of the day cutting the material into squares and little bird shapes and stringing them onto wool yarn.  Wy and Will crawled around amid the piles of felted wool, enjoying the tastes and textures.  We made garlands for both families.  Now that the garland is on the tree, I see Wy touching it periodically.  It's a bit rustic looking, but I don't mind.  It's also soft, non toxic, and easy to repair if it comes apart.

As for the lights,  I used cool-to-the-touch LED white lights this year (in a warm white color) so that when Wyatt touched them they wouldn't be hot.  Inevitably, he put them in his mouth a few times but we taught him not to fairly quickly.  Now he swings the branches, lights, and garland every time ambles by.

Will and Wy amid the garland making.
Will and his mom, Carrie
Wyatt tangling himself up in the felt
Wyatt, Decemeber 8, 2011, with our tree.

16 December 2011

December 15

Yesterday we celebrated -- all day long -- the birthday of my dear friend Jill with a bit of a road trip.  After dropping Sadie at school, Mark, Jill, Wyatt, Byron and me headed to the Napa Valley for the day.

We managed a stop at Rancho Gordo to salivate over beans and bean accoutrements.  We bought a few -- I loaded up on the Christmas limas -- and the birthday girl even came away with a squatty clay cazuela.  And we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Bottega, one of Michael Chiarello's restaurants, in Yountville.  The man does know his food. 

Wyatt, who had slept all the way to the Valley, was ready to eat by the time we'd arrived at Bottega.  He happily gobbled up a majority of our polenta appetizer (creamy polenta with Parmesan and wild mushrooms and a balsamic-game reduction sauce) while the rest of us enjoyed nibbling on the others: burrata with walnut crostini, calamari, and focaccia from the Model Bakery with a garlicky Parmesan spread. We moved on to salads of Brussels sprouts with citrus, and beets with blue cheese, then progressed on to entrees that included a spinach and ricotta raviolo with a poached egg and black truffles, pan fried potato gnocchi with winter vegetables, short ribs, and skirt steak. The bottle of zin from Brown Estate that we shared went well with everything.

Part way through the main courses Wy decided on another nap, which provided yet more time to savor our time together and order another course and coffee.  For dessert:  a super creamy panna cotta with pineapple compote and candied grapefruit, affogado of coffee over salted caramel ice cream with a crunchy Marcona almond cookie, and, of course, the mini doughnuts with creme anglaise and raspberry jam.  Oh so good.

Three hours later, we ventured further up the Valley to St. Helena to wander main street shops and enjoy the holiday lights.  Our trip was not completely without agenda, however, as we really wanted to give the English muffins made by the Model Bakery a try.  Apprently they have quite a following.

Half of the dozen muffins that we bought turned into dinner later (although at the time we bought them we didn't think we'd ever want to eat again) . . . a dinner of toasted muffins with butter and strawberry freezer jam and mugs of tea.  Tender, light, fluffy, a bit like a savory doughnut, actually.  I think we'll have to learn to make them ourselves given how far away we are from Napa.

Before lunch, Jill and Mark also generously accompanied us to visit some friends from law school who now live in the Napa countryside -- Helen and Jason and their little girl Marina and Helen's dad, Richard, and his lovely wife, Mary.  We were so excited to see them again, and to meet Marina and to introduce them to Wyatt. They live in a wonderful spot.  Vines, fields, woods with gnarled trees, hills, and blue sky above it all . . . beautiful even in midwinter.

Helen and Jason built a house for themselves on the same property that Helen grew up on, down the hill from her dad's house.  In February, they will welcome a baby boy into their family.  We were so pleased to spend a little time with them catching up, telling stories, seeing their pizza oven, cellar and still, relaxing . . . and being reminded how glad we are to know them and consider them our friends.

Although the drive back to the city required fighting more traffic than we'd hoped, Mark got us all home safely after a thoroughly enjoyable day together.

At the risk of sounding a bit sentimental, I must also add that when Jill and I met way back in 1984 and nearly instantly became friends, I had no idea that I had just gained one of the richest and best relationships of my life.  Happy Birthday to my smart, funny, interesting, capable, strong, and beautiful friend.  I am so privileged to know and love you.