The Central Coast of California is big-time dreamy. A group of 13 girls piled in a few cars and airplanes to spend a weekend celebrating our friend and bride-to-be Edyta in Carpinteria. We were so excited, I miiiiight have gotten pulled over for speeding on the way there (thank you nice police officer who gave me a ticket for tinted windows instead). The house we rented ended up being more like a sprawling estate. I kept saying “jeez, it takes sooooo long to walk across this house” as if that were a problem. The weekend was exactly what I needed – we laughed a lot, drank a few too many cocktails, lounged in the front yard that over-looked the Pacific Ocean (seriously? seriously.) and danced our faces off. There also might have been a stripper involved. We spent a lot time in our pajamas. It was perfect.
If you’re feeling stressed or in a rut, I highly recommend a girls weekend away. Bonus points if you’re lucky enough to live close to the little paradise also known as California.
I think someone said once that chocolate is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. Or, I’m making it up now. Either way, it’s true, and this granola recipe is evidence – alongside the pain au chocolat at Tartine.
I’ve been making this recipe for a few years after finding it on my favorite food blog Orangette. One year, Jason and I were scheming a homemade gift we could create for our friends, and we thought of this – but to make it special and, I don’t know – more seasonal – we added rosemary and sea salt. My mom’s restaurant makes this amazing nut mix with pecans, rosemary, and chocolate, so I thought the combination would work. Friends, I was right. We’re basically addicted to this recipe and it has become a holiday tradition of sorts.
Spoiler alert: many of our nearest and dearest will receive our granola as a gift this year. I love it because it’s homemade and it’s a little unexpected – the perfect thank-you gift for a friend who did me a huge favor recently, as well as for some friends who are hosting us up in wine country next weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!
Rosemary & Chocolate Granola We go ahead and make the double batch because it goes fast. I suggest you do the same – or halve this recipe if you’d rather start small. It’s adapted from Molly’s recipe here.My adaptation fills about 3 quart-sized Ball jars.
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw nuts, chopped. I like pecans and almonds.
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and finely chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp of kosher salt
9 Tbsp. mild honey
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup, or more, chopped dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. You will need 2 large rimmed baking sheets, like these. Do not grease the sheets.
In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, rosemary, sugar, and salt. I use my hands to sift until all the ingredients are well-combined.
In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisk together the honey, brown sugar, and oil until the sugar dissolves. Pour the liquid over the oat mixture and stir well until the oats are lightly moistened. Spread the mixture out evenly over both baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, stopping halfway to stir the granola.
Let granola cool for about 15 minutes then sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate. The chocolate may melt slightly, so resist the urge to stir the granola.
After chocolate has set up, scrape granola from pans into an airtight container. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.
Last Sunday, we went apple-picking in the North Bay. After some quick research I found Chileno Valley Ranch (just West of Petaluma) and it looked like exactly what I wanted – a little bit of country, a little bit of fall.
The ranch didn’t disappoint; we picked apples right off the trees and got up close and personal with some friendly cows. Sometimes this Missouri girl just needs a taste of home.
On our way home, we drove out to the coast through Tomales Bay & Point Reyes. That area has amazing views and misty fog – a lot like Mendocino. We had lunch right on the water at cozy Nick’s Cove which Jason called “the original Red Lobster”. I told him he was my red lobster. Awww.
It has taken two-and-a-half years of living in coastal California to realize that I miss seasons. I even miss winter a little bit. I can’t believe I just said that. But in a way, it’s true. I miss the sense of impending change, of time passing in increments. Living in a place with no seasons starts to feel a bit like Groundhog Day sometimes. It’s predictable.
We’ve gotten some unseasonably cool weather for October lately (our Octobers are supposed to be our summer) but I’ve really enjoyed it. It feels like fall. I’ve been listening to a lot of Louis Armstrong and Etta James and thinking about cinnamon and pumpkin-flavored things.
So I made snickerdoodle cookies for the first time. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long; they are incredibly easy to make and so (I mean SO) delicious. Still warm from the oven, they’re like a piece of cinnamon sugar toast. I highly recommend them eaten while cozied up on the couch, watching a movie.
Recipe adapted from this one. Makes about 3 dozen medium-sized cookies. The secret ingredient is the extra sprinkle of coarse salt. Don’t forget it; it really makes these cookies spectacular.
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for cinnamon-sugar topping)
1 1/2 T cinnamon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt plus some extra for sprinkling
Coarse sea salt (kosher or fleur de sel)
In a shallow bowl, whisk 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon together. Set aside.
Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each one. Add in vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, just until combined.
Using your hands, divide the dough into small balls (about the size of golf balls) and roll each one in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until fully covered. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place balls on a cookie sheet and top each cookie with a healthy pinch of coarse salt. Bake each batch for about 10 minutes or until the tops have cracked but are not overly golden brown. Do not over-bake. Store all remaining dough in a resealable container; sprinkle with salt right before you bake. You can keep the raw dough refrigerated for up to one week.
I came across a bunch of photos from my last trip home in July and I wanted to share them. I spent time at my mom’s adorable restaurant that she has spent 12 years perfecting; her cozy bungalow that reminds me of the giant house we could buy for the cost of a down payment here (San Francisco real estate, I shake BOTH of my fists at you!); my oldest, best friend Emily’s parents’ house where I practically grew up. My sister and I a memorable day at the lake with my dad, which sadly I didn’t take any photos of for fear of ruining my camera. You’ll just have to take me word that it was a great day.
Also, my friends have gorgeous children. I love seeing them grow up, although I hate how much of their lives I miss.
I love California, but Missouri will always feel like home.
The fog has finally lifted from our neighborhood, so I ran up to our roof before work to catch the view in the morning light. The beauty of this city still takes my breath away.
Happiness has been a bit elusive for me during the past year. Just when I think I have it, it slips away again. A wise person told me recently that you can hold two things at once: happiness, disappointment; thankfulness for what you have, sadness for what you lost. I like this concept a lot, and sitting up on our roof felt like yet another example of it. This city is hard to live in sometimes – it’s stupid-expensive and it takes forever to get anywhere – but daaaaamn. It’s gorgeous.
There are small moments in life you hope you’ll always remember. These are a few of mine lately:
Sitting around our living room with my favorite red head, my brother, and his little family, bellies full, drinking wine, laughing and singing along to Otis Redding and the Righteous Brothers.
My godson on the phone, telling me in his tiny three-year-old voice that he misses me from 2,000 miles away.
Getting a surprise package in the mail from my mom with a ring she picked up for me on a recent trip to Greece.
I am truly thankful.
Ricotta, Pistachio and Honey Crostini (makes about 15 pieces)
1T olive oil
1/2 french or sourdough baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2-3 T raw honey
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
salt & pepper
Heat oven to broil. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1T olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast for about 90 seconds or until bread is golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool.
Spread each baguette slice with 1 small spoonful of ricotta cheese. Drizzle with honey and top with pistachios. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top. Serve immediately.
During the Banshee party, we snuck off to have dinner at Campo Fina. It’s right off the square in Healdsburg and it’s a sexy little restaurant – kind of unexpected in wine country, but then again, Healdsburg is becoming very hip. Piece of advice: get the pork belly appetizer.
A strange thing happens when you move across the country: inevitably, you’re drawn to people who came from the same place as you – people who were raised the same way. Our friends Noah and Kelly fall into this category. They moved to San Francisco long before we did, but grew up in the same part of Missouri and went to college in our hometown.
A few years ago, they opened a small wine company with a few friends. Not surprisingly, it took off, and we were invited up to the opening of their new tasting room on the square in Healdsburg. It’s actually tough to find well-designed (modern) spaces in wine country, although that is changing. Banshee’s tasting room is already getting impressive accolades (here and here). Again, no surprises there – Kelly is a designer and has an aesthetic that is the perfect mix of old and new.
I was so proud to see our friends in action, celebrating a lot of hard work. Congrats to Kelly + Noah and the whole Banshee team. We’ve always been rooting for you guys! And we love drinking your wine.
p.s. I love all Banshee wines, but their pinot is my favorite and it’s very reasonably-priced compared to other Russian River bottles of the same quality. You can order some for yourself here.
Photos taken at Banshee Wines, 325 Center Street, Healdsburg.
If you don’t live in San Francisco, you might now know that we have the best French bakery in the country, Tartine. I challenge anyone to argue with me on this fact.
It’s funny; just when you start thinking maybe you could live somewhere else, you have a magical day in which the city totally redeems itself. 80 degrees, incredible food, and the pretty streets of the Mission neighborhood. I’ll take it.
Photos taken at Tartine Bakery, The Mission neighborhood, San Francisco.