Tasty Tuesday {Alice Waters}

A year ago, my parents invited us to join them for dinner at Chez Panisse to celebrate my mom’s birthday. We eagerly accepted, because one we love spending time with them and two, as self proclaimed foodies, we love to try new restaurants, especially world renowned ones. The whole evening was amazing. The restaurant is housed in a beautiful craftsman style home, nestled into a busy Berkeley Street, hidden by trees and marked only by a very non assuming carved wooden sign announcing this food mecca. We were sat downstairs for the prefix menu of whatever fresh courses Alice Waters has chosen for the given night, we had no idea what we would be served. The dining room was beautiful, and the kitchen sat behind beautiful wooden columns at one end of the dining room allowing us to watch the many chefs preparing dinner. It was amazing! While we were watching the magic happen in the kitchen I caught a glimpse of Alice Waters herself! She was the real life version of the photograph on the cover of her cookbook that was in my kitchen. Here we were at her restaurant, and there she was in the kitchen. I don’t know if you guys have gone to a lot of restaurants that are famous for the chef, but the famous chef is not usually in the kitchen. I calmly, excused myself under the guise of heading to the restroom and asked the hostess if we might be able to meet Alice Waters, I was prepared to pull out all of my bargaining chips, it was my mom’s birthday, eating at this restaurant was on her bucket list, etc. I didn’t need any of my arguments, the hostess explained that their’s was an open kitchen and anytime we wanted to, we could go back and see what was going on, if we wanted to meet Alice though we would have to go quickly she was just eating dinner and would be leaving soon. With that, my mom and I rushed back to meet her. She was the nicest woman in the world, she talked to my mom about cooking and how she loved to give back to her chefs by eating what they had prepared offering them encouragement and feedback. She didn’t act “holier than thou” because she had challenged the way that America eats and when asked about the breakfast she would soon be preparing with Michelle Obama to promote childhood nutrition, she said that she hoped it would help. Then as I thought we were about to leave she turned to me and entrusted me with saving my generation from processed foods. Yikes, let me tell you when Alice Waters, the pioneer of the slow food movement tells you that it is your responsibility to bring your generation back to “real food,” you take the charge seriously.

I have never really eaten processed foods, my mom was pretty into fruits, vegetables and whole wheat bread. One time I came home from kindergarten and asked my mom why all the other kids had fruit snacks in their lunches, and my mom simply replied that it was because their mom’s thought that fruit snacks were real fruit, I think that I have eaten an apple almost every day of my life and can count on one hand the packages of fruit snacks I have had. I have always believed that a homemade cake means flour, sugar and eggs, not a box from the grocery store. And don’t even get me started on white bread, I don’t remember tasting Wonder Bread until I was in college and let’s just say that Wonder Bread and I had an amazing weekend long fling, but when the loaf was done and I went back to Wheat Bread I knew that I would never go back.

I also believe that there is something so comforting about eating foods in their seasons. I don’t believe that God made any mistakes in the creation of the earth and there is something beautiful, harmonious and balancing that the foods perfectly match the need of the season in which they ripen. I mean really, fresh, juicy fruits and vegetables in the summer, when the days are long and the sun is out and all you want to do is sit and graze while enjoying the heat outside, not be stuck inside next to your heating oven. Then the seasons turn, days slow down, leaves change color and squash starts covering the ground like crazy and nothings seems more perfect than roasting vegetables in your oven all afternoon while sipping hot cider or the smell of big vats of soup simmering on the stove all day.

As you know, I have taken on the challenge of gardening this summer and it is discouraging. I planted a whole package of corn seeds and I have 1 measly stalk of corn. I know that this journey I am on toward REAL FOOD will probably be very long, and I will fall back to convenience and ease time after time, but I am committed. I am taking Alice Waters seriously. Because I think that our health and the well being of our planet is important. I think that childhood obesity, diabetes, and hunger are important. I know the facts. This planet produces more than enough food to feed all of it’s inhabitants and yet 1 in every 15 children will die of starvation before they reach the age of 5. Imagine if that were the statistic in our preschool and Sunday school classrooms. Food was made for a purpose. For nourishment but I also believe for community. Jesus broke bread with the disciples. He started all sorts of controversy when he ATE with the pharisees. His first miracle was water into wine at a wedding. It is not something to be taken for granted. I don’t think that it was made for a can. We can all agree that a tomato fresh off of the vine is far and away more flavorful than a tomato out of a can.

Last week a High School student came to my door collecting cans for a canned food drive. I am happy to report that I gave her every last can in my house… 1 can of kidney beans. It was so encouraging to see a little picture of progress. I hope that the generation that follows will be reacquainted with the family dinner table. They will understand the community that can take place around a dinner table eating a bowl of soup that has simmered on the stove for hours or a fresh loaf of bread from the oven. I long to taste and love REAL food, even if it is “harder”.

Join me won’t you in eating one meal of real food this week. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

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Girls Weekend

This past weekend I headed to the mountains with my roommates from college. We get together once a year and it is such an amazing time of vulnerability and fun. We laugh we share and sometimes we even just sit. Whenever I get home, Husband always asks what we did and my response is “we talked.” I think he assumes that I am just tired or something so he settles for that answer, but always asks again, “what did you guys do?” to which the response is again, “we talked.” I assume the same thing is going on in his head that goes on in mine when I ask him what he is thinking about and he replies, “nothing.”  Every time we get together, I am amazed at how easily we fall back into our days of living together in the crazy college house. We are in such different places than we were in college, some of us are married, some of us own houses, some of us are doing what we actually studied to do in college (one of them isn’t me), one is getting her masters and one is having a baby. We talk about menu plans and lesson plans and five year plans. We talk about dreams and memories and fears and then there it is- transparency. It’s real, it’s raw, we are known by each other and deeply loved, and for moments, some just sips, and some gulps, grace. We are not alone, we are in it together and it is amazing. We were made to be in community, we were created for relationship, something inside of us does not work perfectly without it. We need it. And when we are together, we are able to share and I believe that in the sharing we stand together and fight Satan. We tell him that he doesn’t have a foothold, that he isn’t in control that he cannot isolate us in our fears and insecurities. We are Jesus’s not his and he doesn’t get to win. But we also have a darn good time!

Erin made us a delicious dinner from P-dub (The Pioneer Woman). She is cooking her way through P-dub’s cookbook and had been avoiding Chicken Spaghetti because it required her to piece a raw chicken, so I volunteered to hack the thing up for her, and she handled the rest. It was delicious. We went antiquing, got our toes done, and of course watched Tangled. We were a house full of diehard Disney fans. I mean diehard! Our first roommate outing, while we were still in the dorms was to Disneyland and we stayed for the whole shebang. 

People we were babies! I insisted we all wear pink… I thought that it would be cute… They were good sports, they always have been.

Our second year we were the ninja turtles and April for a costume party.

The last day we lived together. Sad!

Our first reunion.

Our second reunion.

Our third reunion.

And this year! Sorry it is so blurry, the lighting was no good in the restaurant. The one where we are in focus, we are all making weird faces, trust me, this one is better!

I am so very VERY thankful for these women!

San Diego

I know this is a slow attempt to blog about all of our crazy summer travels, but stick with me 🙂 After our amazing time in Seattle, a little less than 24 hours after flying back into San Jose, we had driven 3 hours, stopped by home, done laundry, repacked, driven 6 hours and were in San Diego to staff the San Diego Legacy Summer Project. It was AMAZING! Seriously, we loved it!

Goofy Group Picture

Me, Carly and Dina- Some sweet girls that I got to spend the summer with!

Dinner with Steve’s Bible Study Guys

The awesome Bible Study I got to lead with Carly

For our fun day during the trip, we went to SeaWorld

Watched Shamu amaze the crowd. How do they train a huge animal like that to do those tricks?

We spent a TON of time with these two- The MacMillans. We miss you two!

Visited the Polar Bears- Steve’s favorite!

I made a pressed penny, a favorite of mine!

And we took a picture with the Shamu Car

The view from our room, not too shabby 🙂

The sun setting over Mission Bay, we had an amazing time and were so blessed to get to spend the end of our time with Crusade on Sumer Project in San Diego!

 

 

 

 

Seattle

My sweet husband gave me a trip to Seattle for my birthday last year and in the beginning of June I had the chance to cash it in. We had so much fun! And since we are self proclaimed foodies there was A LOT of yummy adventures in the foodie mecca.

We stayed in a very hip little boutique hotel with a Tom Douglas (the celebrity chef of Seattle) restaurant in the lobby, with another across the street and another next to that, and another next to that and another down a block. Needless to say, foodie mecca. I got hungry every time I got out of the elevator.

Our first stop was lunch at a really cool restaurant called, Fare Start where local chefs train disadvantaged people to have jobs in the food industry. It was delicious and our waitress was hilarious.

Because we wanted to have a way to remember all of the yummy places we went and we have a new camera we wanted to play with, you will be seeing a lot of pictures like this.

After a quick trip to Pikes Place market and a nap to ward off our O’dark-thirty flight, we headed to a sushi happy hour at Umi sushi. AMAZING!!! I loved every bite!

zAfter dinner we hiked a mile and a half uphill, because I had just stuffed my face with sushi and because I thought the walk would be good for us, to Kerry Park for the most amazing view of the skyline and Space Needle. We met a lot of dogs, watched an outdoor aerobics class, walked through a super posh Seattle neighborhood gawking over the houses and watched the sunset at another park before calling a cab to take us back to our hotel and most importantly dessert across the street.

We had to crop this funny because I was doing something funky with my hand… oh dear.

The next morning we set out on a tour of Pikes Place Market complete with mini donuts, flying fish, flowers and the most delicious macaroni and cheese.

The Seattle’s version of the “Gum Wall”- much grosser than SLO’s if you ask me.

Our next stop was Salumi Deli for delicious Italian sandwiches. The line was around the corner and there was a very pregnant woman inline in front of us, so we knew it would be great!

It was then onto the architectural portion of our tour starting with the Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas

Then we went to Steven Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University.

After our 6.5 mile tour of Seattle, Husband took me out to an amazing dinner where he had one of the best wines he had ever tasted. Photographed here with the hot towels they brought us after the satay portion of our meal.

The next morning brought us to the Dahlia Bakery across the street from our hotel for fresh baked english muffin breakfast sandwiches. We then spent the day on the gourmet tour of Seattle followed by the new X men movie and the late night happy hour in the restaurant in the lobby of our hotel where we ate the most delicious baby lamb burgers.

The last day of our trip we boarded a ferry for Bainbridge Island. The Seattle skyline from the ferry was amazing.

As was the view of Bainbridge as we approached, there were a ton of beautiful cottages on the water. Forgive us for the lack of pictures on the island, we were too busy scarfing the best ice cream ever!

Before leaving we managed to try a couple more coffee shops! Forte, not our favorite, but I tried a very unique latte with cardamon in it.

 And Vivace, our favorite! Not to mention that it was right across from an REI flagship store.

Thank you Seattle! We had so much fun!!! And our taste buds were thoroughly entertained!

AAGR #2

What the heck is AAGR you might ask… AAGR stands for Annual Avalon Girls Reunion, now two years strong, one of my favorite parts of the year. Approximately 5 years ago, when venturing into my new life in San Luis Obispo I met five of my favorite women in the world. Erin and Lindsay lived across the hall from me in the dorms, Elise and I met during orientation week at the College of Architecture lecture, and Rachel got into my car, not knowing me to go to the Freshman welcome dinner for Campus Crusade for Christ.  And thus began our group. Over the years we have been on so many adventures. We went to Disneyland together Freshman year, it was my idea that we should all wear pink, I thought it was a really good idea at the time, so we wouldn’t… I don’t know… get lost or something… We moved off of campus together into the yellow house on Avalon Street (hence the Avalon Girls). We had kitchen/living room dance parties a plenty. We dissolved into many laughing fits when we were too tired to studying. We ate more finals-week-pancakes than anyone I have ever met. We encouraged each other to love Jesus more everyday and we held each other accountable. Almost every one of my college memories has at least one of these girls in it. After our third year of school we each set out on grand adventures. Rachel got married, Elise and Lindsay went to serve Jesus in a far away land, Erin went to Spain to learn Spanish, and I went to Colorado Springs to serve with a missions organization and spent a month in Africa. After that first year away we started AAGR. We HAD to see each other. The first reunion was held in our beloved San Luis Obispo and consisted almost entirely of talking. In the year that followed our first reunion Erin got married, I got engaged and Lindsay and I graduated from Cal Poly. SO much happens in a year. The first week of August we reunited again. This time in Redondo Beach. We talked, laid on the beach, talked, ate, talked, got dressed up, talked, ate, talked… you get the picture. It was wonderful. I love these girls so much and am so encouraged by them! AAGR #2 was a blast! Now forgive me ladies for the pictures posted, but here goes a picture per year.

Freshman year at Disneyland… In our pink 🙂

Sophomore year, our alternate identities… Ninja Turtles

Junior year, the last night we were all in the house 😦 I think we ate Chinese food at the coffee table for dinner and tried to relive all of our favorite memories in the span of the night.

AAGR #1, celebrating all that God had done in a year and anticipating all he would do in the next.

AAGR #2 such a sweet time of talking about everything. So much has changed since Freshman year!

A Weekend in San Luis Obispo

So much to blog… Sorry I have been an absentee blogger. Yikes! Well look out for some posts. They may be out of order, my appologies!

A couple of weekends ago, slash the at the end of last month, (holy cow, the time is FLYING!!!) we went to San Luis Obispo for the weekend to attend the beautiful wedding of some friends. While we were in SLO we did some wedding planning, really we did some eating. Tasting is so far one of my favorite things about wedding planning.

I don’t even like cake, but these tastes at the bakery were so so so yummy!

Since we only had a couple of days to spend in our town, we wanted to make sure that we experienced some of our favorite SLO things. One of those things was an epic adventure to the Drive-Ins. We saw Despicable Me and brought our own stadium seating. It was such a fun night hanging out with friends. I have missed the amazing community that we have in SLO. I cannot wait to be back in the fall! I love that you need blankets and sweatshirts to be out at night during the summer on the Central Coast.

And, the reason for our journey… Mr and Mrs Matt Thiede!

We have been to so many of our friends weddings this summer and every time I am blown away by beautiful and “them” it was. This wedding was no exception, it was soooo Matt and Lauren. Matt’s stepfather married them and the ceremony was an incredibly encouraging picture of marriage. We are so excited for these two!

It was an absolutely beautiful wedding!

The sunset reflecting in the car window driving through the middle of the state. We had such a wonderful summer weekend away!