December 03, 2006

Back to San Francisco Values!

Good Sunday Morning!

A sunny morning here in the North Bay following a cool night. Perfect weather for many winter crops. As my almost three year old watches "toons" on NOGGIN, I drink my Costa Riccan coffee and reflect on the events of this quickly waning year.

In April this year, we moved our little family back to the Bay from Arizona, where two years ago, we thought the grass might be cheaper (if not greener!) with a new home and a new start.

We were on the edge of a dot com layoff, the birth of our daughter, and the deaths of both of my parents. It felt like the world as we knew it was caving in and we needed a fresh start. Life in Arizona was like living in the old wild west, with lots of silicone and spray on tans thrown in.....being from the culturally diverse Bay Area, we soon found it wasn't for us no matter how nice the new house was!

So we traded our new dream home and affordable mortgage in Arizona for our nearly hundred year old, everything needs updating or repair, double the price, city home here in the North Bay. But we are counting our blessings and embracing the San Francisco Values that we took for granted before!

I am overwhelmed as I look around at the cracked plaster, the old carpet, the 50's ugly brown and green electric kitchen and two bath house with no insulation and only one toilet that works, the plumbing that is largely cast iron and the non-grounded two to a room electrical outlets and wonder how we will ever afford to do all this....but somehow, we will. We are not newbies to old houses after all.

And for a Chef to have to deal with an electric stove and just one outlet in the kitchen is a real experiment in patience! I unplug the microwave who's main function is to heat my daughter's "gok-o-witz" (chocolate milk) in the plug in the coffee maker (a real must for a 5am daily rise) and unplug that to plug in my fancy toaster! Never mind that I have a garbage disposal but no under sink electric to support it.....and even if I did, do I really want to risk adding to the sludge coating the cast iron pipes before we can afford to re-pipe?

As Thanksgiving is past, I am starting to think about the nightmare of trying to do my annual holiday bake with such an arrangement....but somehow, I will manage....I always do. I close my eyes and remember my dual fuel range that I gave up with our new home; and wonder if I will live to regret leaving it. Will my Quarsemali, Christmas Crescents, Date Pinwheels, Mincemeat Stars, Sprtiz and Giandulia Truffles be edible if forged from only electricity? I will let you know.

Every week here, I will update you on seasonal recipes, menus and food related goings on in the Bay Area and Napa Valley. I will also include one or more recipes and will welcome feedback about your thoughts and recipe results. I am also happy to post benefits and happenings for you.

One of my real fortes is to research and find great ingredients and really, I attribute that skill to much of my success in all things culinary. I use mainly organic ingredients and local products whenever possible and will site these products by name and places they have been available to me.

Date Pinwheels

Date Filling:
1# pitted and chopped dates
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Cook and stir first three ingredients until boiling and thickened slightly. Cool, stir in walnuts.

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup butter, unsalted, slightly softened
1/2 cup brown Sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, superfine
2 cups all purposed flour, sifted
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together butter and both sugars. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Sift together flour and salt and stir into creamed mixture. Chill well.
Divide dough in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one part of the dough into 12x8" rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Spread half of the cooled date filling over the surface, being patient and careful not to tear the is helpful to use your clean fingers.
Beginning at the long edge, roll up like a jelly roll. Wrap in waxed paper and chill in freezer overnight. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Slice each chilled roll into 1/4" thick slices. Bake on greased cookie sheet for 8 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool cookies on a wire rack and store in a tightly lidded tin or cookie jar.

Makes 5 dozen cookies

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