As we approach the New Year we end yet another holiday season. For readers of this blog, you probably noticed I didn't have much in the way of holiday postings. Just been in Oregon busy with dad's heart surgery. We brought him home yesterday.

With the new year only a week away it means that eggnog will soon be disappearing from the dairy case at the grocers. Yet there is still time if you need to put together an item for that a party you are going to. This is as simple as can be with only three ingredients. I came across it in the Food Network's magazine and just had to try it. It took about two hours to make, which is longer than regular flan recipes, but the texture is so smooth and light and worth the long bake time.

Eggnog Flan
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 cups eggnog
  • 5 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Stir the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until deep amber, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour the caramel into a shallow 10-inch-round cake pan, tilting the pan so the caramel evenly coats the bottom.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Whisk the eggnog and eggs in a large bowl until smooth, being careful not to beat in too much air. Pour the eggnog mixture over the caramel in the pan, then place in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the cake pan.

Loosely cover the roasting pan with foil and bake 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking until the custard is set but still quivers, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove the flan from the roasting pan and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold and set, about 2 hours. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the flan, place an inverted flat plate over the pan and flip to unmold.
As an avowed saltaholic, I am still ignorant of all the wonders and kinds of finishing salts available and the proper use of them. As a person interested in food, I had finishing salt on my list of subjects to learn more about. I was aware of the numerous types of finishing salts, but had never ventured much past packaged sea and rock salts. I had been online window shopping for a while and found it coincidental when Blair at the Sacramento Bee wrote on Exploring the wonders of salt , a review of a book I had been looking into - "Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, With Recipes" by Mark Bitterman.
Mark Bitterman is owner of The Meadow , a store in Portland that specializes in finishing salts, chocolates, bitters, and flowers. Last year he opened a second store in New York City. He is truly gifted in how he writes and explains the different salts. For instance, "The salt deposits were capped under a hermetic layer of volcanic ash, protecting them from external contaminants, so you are literally tasting the flavors of the earth’s primordial oceans. Over the millennia, these salt crystals have taken on the translucent colors of cranberry and tangerine gemstones. This finishing salt is suitable for use in a grinder, whole in cooking, or as decoration at the table, or on special dishes. It is very mild, perfectly balanced, and slightly sweet, with a clean finish. Try it on seafood, ceviche, and salads of cucumber, lime, and chilis." How can you not be entranced after reading that?

I spent some vacation days in Portland when I went north for Thanksgiving  and decided to check out The Meadow in person.
When I went to college in Portland in the 80s any decent business or restaurant was in the downtown area. Portland has seen a revitalization across the city and I was surprised to see that most of the renowned restaurants are now on the east side of the river in the many eastside neighborhoods. I ventured to Mississippi Avenue, an area that was once known more for its hookers and drug deals. Now there are several nice eateries, shopping centers, and The Meadow.
The Meadow is small and tucked back from the sidewalk. Inside can be a bit cramped if there are a few shoppers at one time. Two wall sections are filled top to bottom with the finishing salts. Another wall has the chocolates while the rear of the store has mostly liqueurs and bitters.

My focus was on the finishing salts and I was helped by Jordan, who was happy to answer any questions. The smallest jars are 1.5 ounces and range from $4 to $9. One of these little jars is labeled as "Sample" so that you can shake out a bit to taste. Jordan explained that the three factors for distinguishing finishing salts were moisture, mineral content, and texture, as in the crystal structure.

All my life I've driven up and down I-5. First it was family vacations when we would return from Saudi Arabia. We would often enter in Los Angeles and then do family activities as we drove back to Oregon to visit my aunt and cousin. Later I did the drive in the 80s when I would travel from college to Palm Springs for spring break. My years were the years that closed Palm Springs forever for spring breakers. Now I do the drive to visit my dad. He retired in Salem and so it's an 8 hour drive to and from. 

So it's pretty amazing that in all that time I never stopped in Medford to go to visit Harry & David. I must admit I've never really bought from Harry & David since it was always a bit on the pricey side for me and I live in the Sacramento valley where we have all the produce I could ever want. My tightwad ways. It was quite by accident that I stumbled on their headquarters this trip. I was stopping in Medford for lunch and drove right by their main store. 

Harry & David are brothers that took over their father's farm after his death in 1914. They took their agricultural expertise to expand the business with their famous Royal Riviera pears. The business took a hit, understandably, during the depression. It was some creative and inspired marketing that made the brothers venture into the mail order business. In 1934 they took boxes of their pears to influential businessmen in San Francisco and New York. The pears sold themselves and the mail order business was born. Since then the company has increased their product lines to include all sorts of fruits, chocolates, snacks, and baked goods. 

freshly dipped pears
There are factory tours offered several times each weekday. Since I was there on a Wednesday and not in a great hurry, I signed up for the 12:30 tour. The tours cost $5, but then they give you a coupon for $5 off your purchases later. I had already shopped and had used their Foursquare check-in coupon of 10% off.

The crunch time for Harry & David is from about mid September to the beginning of December. The factory is exploding with bustling business. I was mid December and the plant was pretty quiet. The last of the pears were being packaged and some gift baskets were being assembled.

Here you see the variety of cheesecakes being split apart. They are assembling the variety packs with a quarter of each cheesecake packaged together.

Moose Munch mixer
Their biggest product is the Moose Munch. They have about 20 flavor variations. I like the dark chocolate with macadamia and coconut macaroon. The popcorn they use is of two varieties. I didn't realize that each variety pops differently. One pops in a mushroom shape and the other in a butterfly shape, which they like to hold more caramel.

I finished the tour and soon went on my way with a few purchases. I guess I'll be stopping in Medford more often now that I've discovered the treasure hidden slightly off the freeway.

What can be more sexy in food than chocolate and spices? As my chai obsession continues (see Gluten-free Chai Snickerdoodles), I paired the two together in chai brownies.

Normally I always put nuts into my brownies because I like the textural crunch they add. I did not want nuts to detract from tasting the spices in the chai brownies and so I opted for cacao nibs instead. Some may be surprised, but this was the first time I had ever bought and used Scharffen Berger cacao nibs. They added the perfect bit of crunch while letting the spice shine through in these chai brownies.

I took the chai brownies to a holiday party this last Saturday and they were a big hit. I had promised I'd put the recipe up in time for others to make them for this weekend's round of parties.

Sexy Chai Brownies

the spices
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-5 teaspoons chai spice (below)
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum if making gluten-free
1 cup of flour or gluten-free flour mix
1/4 cup cacao nibs

Chai Spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
Make chai spice mix: In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and pepper. You can choose to add  some or all of it depending on the strength you want. I added 4 tsps to mine and found it the perfect strength. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9x9 pan and set aside.

Melt together butter and chocolate together in a double boiler over a steaming water. Melt only until just blended together, not to a point that the butter separates.

Remove from heat and mix in the sugar. The mixture will be grainy. Add one egg at a time, whisking each egg into the batter.

Add the chai spice mixture, vanilla, and salt to the batter and mix thoroughly.

Add flour (or GF flour + xantham gum) to batter and mix thoroughly.

Pour batter into pan and spread evenly, smoothing top. Sprinkle cacao nibs across the top. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until top has a dull finish and a tester comes out smoothly. Cool on a rack.

I can become fixated, especially when it comes to flavors.  I'll fixate on a flavor or flavor combination and then need to see what I can do with it by making numerous items. Lately that obsession has been chai.

I've never been a coffee or tea drinker. The hot drinks I like are hot chocolate and cider. About a year ago, though, I saw a Chai Hot Chocolate up on a menu board and decided to try it out. After all, I was always putting cinnamon and nutmeg in my cocoas anyway. After that discovery I switched to ordering chocolate chai lattes when I was at a coffee bar. Six weeks ago I decided that I needed to cut down on the sugar and so I started to order just chai lattes without the chocolate. That is my current hot drink.

It then occurred to me one day that snickerdoodle cookies are rolled in cinnamon sugar and so it wasn't that much of a leap to think of chai snickerdoodles. I was all proud of myself until I decided to search the internet and found out that other people had already had that thought. Oh well.
the meringue top doesn't show well in the picture

No, mud hens are not birds (in this case). Mud hens are a cookie bar, apparently a Southern treat, that I had never heard of before. I stumbled upon them on the internet and thought they looked interesting and worth a try. They consist of a cookie crust layer, then nuts, marshmallows, and chocolate chips, topped with a brown sugar meringue.

I'm not going to go into a lengthy post today. I'll just tell you a couple of things I would note about the recipe.
Voodoo is not evil - except for calories.

I went to New Orleans about ten years ago courtesy of The Pampered Chef. I had earned a trip to the conference there and I was so excited to explore the city. One of the stops I made was at the Voodoo Museum.

It turns out that voodoo is not necessarily an evil religion even though it is often times depicted as such in movies. It's just another religion that believes in a supreme being, but also that there is a spirit level between us and God.

For some folk the name is apropo for Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, OR. I'm guessing that for some people their doughnuts take them into a spiritual world as they savor their round confections.

The last time I had been in Portland for the day it had been Saturday Market day and the line for Voodoo was around the block. I admired from afar, but decided I wasn't interested enough to stand in the line. This time around I went on a Wednesday and found no line. I also found other foodie tourists just like me - taking pictures of the famed shop. The one downtown is the original, of course, but there is a second Portland location and one in Eugene as well.

I was stunned when I saw the number of products made by Bob's Red Mill. After all, we usually see no more than 20 on any store's shelves. But I was at the headquarters and at their store where the shelves were lined with every product they made in multiple sizes.

When I went to college in Portland, OR in the 80's, Bob's Red Mill wasn't around, or wasn't big and visible like it is today. Now the large red mill is impossible to miss as you drive down Highway 224 through Milwaukie, OR. Farther down the road is the actual processing plant where all their products are packaged. It's at the plant where I was greeted by Cassidy Stockton, their Social Media Manager. She had kindly offered to take me on a private tour. (Public tours are offered every morning at 10 a.m.)

First mill

We started in a section of the plant that held some historical photos and milling equipment. The business started out as a bit of a hobby. Bob Moore's wife, Charlee, loved to use whole grains in her cooking. Bob started playing around with grinding his own flour for her. Slowly it grew to supplying friends and family until it got to become an actual business. Actually started in Redding, CA, the Bob's Red Mill moved to Oregon in the 80's. Over the years they have grown from grains and flour to include beans, mixes, soups, and more. They are especially known for their line of gluten-free products.

Here you see Bob's very first millstone. Bob's Red Mill uses only traditional French millstones that have been favored by mills for centuries. Apparently the granite at this one quarry in France produces porous granite that is extra hard with lots of edges that can grind down the grain. The channels that are cut into the stone automatically channels the grain so that as it gets finer, it moves down the channel to get ground down finer still until it finally drops through as flour.

Testing lab

As I mentioned, Bob's Red Mill has become particularly well known as the gluten-free market has grown and grown over the years. The company takes it very seriously to make sure there is no possibility of cross contamination. There are separate lines, staff, and labs for all of the gluten-free work. Production staff do not cross between the gluten-free and conventional lines to keep things clear.

Leftover bits of flour are given to local food shelters and banks. The debris flour on the floor is swept up to be used in animal feed. 

In a time of economic upheaval in the country, Bob's is one of the few companies that can say they have grown. Cassidy tells me they have seen 20% gains each year. She couldn't supply me with numbers for the gluten-free versus conventional sides of the business, but I suspect the percentage growth is higher in the gluten-free area.

This machine mixes together ingredients for cake or pancake mixes (etc)
Sorghum flour being milled
Inventory ready to be shipped
After my tour was over I headed to the store and was so overwhelmed with all the products that I didn't buy anything. One thing I liked at the store was that they sell huge 25 pound bags of some items, like the flour. Usually we are only exposed to their little one pound bags in the store. They also had bulk bins, which is a wonderful option. I would love to have a Bob's store with all the products and options nearby.  For now I'll have to make do with the fact I can go when I visit my dad up north.

I want to thank Bob's Red Mill and Cassidy for their time and generosity. Since it is the holidays I asked Cassidy if I could have some product for our food drive instead of for myself, which she is graciously sending.

Click here for more stories like this: Fun Things to Do 

Back in April SactoMoFo was a bit chaotic, being the giant success it was. It was our first mobile food festival and so many people didn't know what to expect. I've been to many mobile food events now and here are my best tips for you.

Go as a team! The biggest tip of all. Not a huge team, but one of about 4-5 people. You should all get into different lines and order enough to share with your group. The reason you only want about four people is that some trucks will limit the amount of food you can order at one time. If you had a team of 10 but were only allowed to order enough food for four, that would be hard to share.

Go early. It's all about lines and so I'd much rather be at the front of the line then at the back of a 2 hour line.

Bring utensils and containers. It makes it easier to share, but I also happen to like to order enough so that I can eat things later or the next day. I can only eat so much and if there are 22 vendors, there is no way I could eat it all while there.

Bring chairs. This is not always allowed, but for events that are on concrete with no place to sit, this is a big one.

Bring small bills. Help the trucks out so that there's not a problem with them having to run to a bank for change to break $20s, etc. It also makes the lines go faster.

The last thing isn't really a tip because it happens naturally at these events - Make friends with those around you. In fact, this is one of the things I love best about food trucks. People socialize while in line and waiting for their food. There's a camaraderie that is so awesome. When was the last time you chatted up all the tables around you at a restaurant? Nope, it's food trucks that create this social atmosphere and that we want more of here in Sacramento.

Have a great time!

43rd and SE Belmont, PDX
I can never visit Portland without a visit to some food carts. Food carts have become one of the main attractions of the city for visiting foodies. With over 400 carts throughout the city, there is something for everyone, from vegan to carnivore, Thai to Scandanavian, and everything in between. 

This visit I wanted to visit a food pod in a residential neighborhood. If you've read my article, Mobile Food Pods Revitalize Neighborhoods, then you know that I had already researched this topic from afar. I had not actually visited any of the pods in a residential area though, only downtown. I agreed to meet my friend, Brett, at the pod at 43rd and SE Belmont.

Brett is the Portland food cart expert. You've probably seen him on Eat St. and other shows about food trucks and carts. His website is and he's probably eaten at every cart in the city. We met up to talk about nationwide cart/truck issues while I checked out a couple of the carts.

The beauty and the danger of fried rice is that you can use whatever leftovers you have in the kitchen. I say danger because my mom once got food poisoning from eating fried rice when we were in Asia. Lesson learned - only order steamed rice when you are overseas.

This recipe took care of two problems for me. I wanted to try this kimchi fried rice that everyone was talking about and I wanted to use leftover turkey from my Whole Foods Holiday Meal leftovers. I had half a turkey left and just little old me. I also didn't want to suffer the typical leftover turkey fair of repeatedly eating the same meal over and over until it's gone. I wanted something different! (As an aside, my family's traditional leftover turkey meal is turkey tettrazini, which I crockpotted earlier this year.)

In my frig were the two jars of kimchi that I had made about three weeks ago. Here was my chance to actually use the stuff. The result is a very different Korean fried rice with the chili paste as the major flavoring in contrast to the soy sauce Chinese fried rice or the fish sauce Thai fried rice. Because it uses chili paste, it has more bite to it. And because kimchi is cabbage, you take care of the crunchy vegetable component.

Leftover Turkey (or whatever else you got) Kimchi Fried Rice

Note that I add a spread of ingredients so you can go low if you like less of an ingredient or high if you like more.

1 T vegetable oil
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 - 1 cup kimchi, you may need to chop it down to smaller pieces
2-3 cups cooked rice
1 T chili paste
1 T sesame oil
1/2 - 1 cup cooked turkey, chopped
1 egg

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil til hot. Add onions and green onions and cook until the onion is transluscent. Add kimchi and rice. Toss everything together to mix well. Add in chili paste and sesame. Mix thoroughly. Add turkey and toss to mix everything together.  Let mixture cook a bit so that the bottom layer gets a bit crunchy, about 5 minutes. Toss again. Make a small whole amongst the rice and break in an egg. Cover the pan with a lid and let the steam cook the egg until the white is set, but the yolk is not completely cooked, about 3 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately.

I love food and yet there are still a lot of foods that I'm coming into late into life. Some I've posted about before. Things like squash and figs were items that I didn't grow up with and so I had no experiences to draw from. Some things were just plain stubborness. Like sushi. I only learned to eat it about seven years ago because I had the typical naive aversion to the idea of eating raw fish. Another is jalapeno peppers. I was afraid of them, I guess, until I cut one up in a burrito and realized that it added so much more flavor and heat. That was about 15 years ago. Or even being as silly as to not putting a flavoring into my hot chocolate. Now I can't stand hot chocolate plain, I have to have some sort of additional flavor added to it.

Kimchi was one of those scary foods. After all, it's fermented cabbage with a reputation for being spicy. Don't get me wrong. I love spicy foods. Yet, here I was having a stubborn obstinance to trying this strange looking concoction of hot cabbage.

The one and only time I had a grocery store prepared holiday meal was about 15 years ago. My parents rented a cabin in Tahoe for Christmas and so we couldn't be bothered with cooking up things from scratch with limited cooking equipment. We went to XXX grocery and picked up a turkey dinner with all the fixings packed into Styrofoam containers. The mashed potatoes were a gummy puree and the rest of the meal was just an unmemorable.

I appreciate the working relationship I have with the Sacramento Whole Foods stores. Thanks to them, we were able to pull off SactoMoFo last April and now they are helping me get the Sacramento Food Film Festival going for next March. When they offered me a Whole Foods Holiday Meal sampler, I took them up on it and hosted a small dinner party last night to try out the dishes. I had high expectations for Whole Foods and they did not disappoint. Now I know I can, if necessary, reach out to them for a quality holiday meal.

There are a variety of Whole Foods holiday meal selections available. 
Some of the options are:

Intimate Goose Holiday Dinner - Pitman Farms, free-range geese

Cleaning up my archives, I found this old post (2008) and decided to repost because I had forgotten about it and need to remake them myself. I love looking at other food blogs and discovering new things. I stumbled across hoddeoks at My Korean Kitchen. Hoddeoks are Korean street food, pancakes with a brown sugar/cinnamon filling. They looked interesting and easy, so I figured I'd give them a try. Tips for next time: more filling, try chocolate shavings.

Ingredients for 6 pancakes

* All purpose white flour - 1¼ cups
* Salt - 1/4 tsp
* Milk - 90 ml (6 tbsp)

Fermented yeast water (mix these well in bowl 1)

* Warm water (40℃) - 45 ml (3 tbsp)
* White sugar - 1/4 tsp
* Dry yeast- 1/4 tsp

Stuffing (mix these well in bowl 2)

* Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
* Crushed walnuts- 2 tbsp (you can use peanuts instead, but I prefer walnuts)
* Dark brown sugar - 90 ml (6 tbsp)

Leave the mix of fermented yeast water in a warm place (30-40 ℃) for 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt, and milk. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for two hours.

Oil your hands and then split the dough into six equal parts. Take one and flatten it into a pancake in your hand. Put a spoonful of filling in the center and then seal the dough around it.

Heat a skillet with a little oil. Place a pancake in and flatten with a spatula.

Brown both sides and serve. Here is a cut one to show you the inside. The brown sugar should be melted in the center. Yum.

Updated info at bottom re: current fees

You can forget the cupcake wedding cakes, today's hot thing is to have food truck catering at your wedding.

I get contacted frequently to act as a go-between when people are inquiring about food truck catering for a wedding or charity event. I just give advice on which food trucks are out there, what they specialize in, and help with the exchange of contact information. Often times, though, I hear a bit of disappointment later when it turns out a party couldn't book a food truck.

The problem is that food trucks, like all businesses, have to think in terms of money. They have a lot to consider when planning their schedules. In terms of food truck catering for an event, here are two things they consider that you, the client, might not have.

Days Off - Hey, food trucks need days off too. Most tend to take Sundays and Mondays off. It has to be really worth their while to get them to schedule a booking on one of their days off. Currently the Sacramento trucks have single crews each. That means they are all working long hours, often 12+ hour days, and sometimes even seven days straight. Not fun. I know that Krushburger is trying to get their second truck out on the road, so they will have more flexibility in the future.

Profitability - How many guests at the wedding or charity event versus how much they would make roaming their usual spots that day. If a food truck has a spot or route that they know they are going to be able to make $1500, then they might not be interested in a 100 guest wedding where they will only be making $800.

Then there are the shared events where a food truck is competing for sales with other vendors/trucks. It's the same mentality I had when I sold Pampered Chef and someone would host a Holiday sales party with Avon, Partylite, Cookie Lee, etc all at the same party. Instead of getting 20 sales from a party I would have done solo, I would only get 5 sales because people were splitting their purchases amongst all the vendors. It wasn't worth my time and I eventually stopped doing them. 

Same goes for the food trucks. In a perfect world they want you to buy a complete meal from them, not split your money with one item from them and another from someone else. (Note that roundups are different thing altogether.) Therefore, if you plan on having a few vendors at your event, you can be sure the question posed to you will be, "How many people do you expect to attend?" The food trucks usually want about 200 people per vendor. 

This is not to say that you won't be able to get a food truck for your 50 person birthday party. It just depends on a number of factors, the above which are only a couple of them. I will say that you should not limit yourself to thinking of only the gourmet, non-taco food trucks. There are lots of quality, authentic taco trucks that should be considered for bookings as well.

You should know the following:
  • The minimum a truck will usually consider is $1000.
  • You should think of a per person cost of about $20 each.
  • That said, a 50 person party would be the $1000 minimum.

This is not a solid rule. If things are slow a truck might consider going lower.

If you need assistance with food trucks, please feel free to contact me at @sacfoodtrucks on Twitter or via email.

My office loves me just for the fact that I constantly bring treats to work. Being single, I bake all these goodies and then need to unload them as soon as I can to prevent me from eating them! (Which I surely would.) In some cases, I will spring an item on them without giving them the info on what's in it until they have given me feedback. 

I was thrilled when I got my order of fermented black garlic last week. I first heard about black garlic from Garrett on Vanilla Garlic. Bulbs of garlic are fermented for 40 days and then dried for a week. The result are the beautiful black cloves. Used for centuries in Asia, it's becoming a trendy food ingredient in the West. Eaten by itself, it's amazingly sweet with smokey undertones, which is why it is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It also brings chocolate instantly to mind as a perfect thing to pair it with.

The first dessert recipe I came across featuring black garlic was the post by Irvin from He had made Black Garlic-Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean-White Chocolate Marble Brownies. He used the black garlic in the dark chocolate swirls of the dessert. I knew I wanted to try the black garlic with chocolate, so I decided to go with straight chocolate brownies. I noted that Irvin used a whole bulb of his garlic for only half (the dark part) of the overall brownie.

Update: February 2016
I've just received an email about a class action lawsuit against It's Just Lunch.

Original 2011 post:

Dating as a woman in my late 40's in Sacramento sucks. And it's not just me. I have a posse of single girlfriends my age that look great, have good jobs, are smart and outgoing, and none of us can get a date with a decent guy in our age range.

I've been divorced now for ten years. I've tried it all - online dating, speed dating, Meetups, etc. In 2005, before the economy tanked, I tried It's Just Lunch (IJL). You may have seen their ads, especially in airline magazines. It's a dating service where they set you up on dates (basically blind dates) for just an hour - over lunch or over drinks.

In 2005 IJL had an office near Arden Fair Mall. I went in for an appointment and signed up for a year for $1200. I was so fed up with the online dating scene and I figured that "you get what you pay for". If a person is willing to pay that much money, they must have a decent job and be serious about finding a long term relationship, right? I was tired of the online players out there just looking for hookups and casual flings.

Sacramento lacks tailgating. Serious tailgating. With a lack of major sports teams, our attempts at tailgating are few and far between and rather lackluster.  Well, OK, maybe I shouldn't base my opinion off one observance at a recent Mountain Lions game, but compared to Pac 10 or NFL games, we stink at them.

I was channel surfing a week ago and came across a food show on tailgating - the serious kind. I guess it was before the big LSU/Alabama game because the tailgaters they were showing were LSU fans. One of the more well known LSU tailgaters was talking about his pastalaya.

Pastalaya? This was something new to me. It doesn't take a genius to figure out it's jambalaya but with pasta instead of rice. Yet I had never heard or even considered it before. I was intrigued.

I'm driving a beautiful country road on a gorgeous fall day. It's the Lincoln Newcastle Highway curving through lovely farmland as it makes a slight climb in elevation between Lincoln and Newcastle. I think I've only driven this road once before in my 20+ years in the area. I'm looking for Twin Peaks Orchards and as I round a curve it suddenly pops up in front of me quicker than I would have thought.

I am here to take a tour of the family owned orchards with Camelia Enriquez Miller. I had met Camelia and her mother at the Folsom Whole Foods press dinner where their dried stone fruit was part of the cheese platter and a peach jam was featured on the Diestel turkey. The dried fruit, in particular, was addicting. I had asked if I might come and visit and spent a couple of hours on their beautiful property.

Don't miss the Open House details at the end of this post.

It's only about six years ago that I started to eat raw fish. I had one of those aversions like most naive eaters have when it comes to sushi. My conversion took place when I tried some fancy rolls. I still don't care much for just a piece of raw fish on a bit of rice, but I do like rolls that have a bunch of ingredients that add interesting flavors and textures. 

Eventually I ventured a little further and tried sea steak specials and finally poke. Poke means slices or cuts. As a menu item, it means raw fish that has been cubed or sliced and tossed with a few ingredients, typically onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I am now a poke (and ceviche) convert.

not mine, but similar

When I was 12 or 13 I went on an extended summer trip of the Eastern United States with a group of other 'gifted' children. This was a big deal considering that at the time I still lived in Saudi Arabia. This meant a two-month vacation traveling with our teacher and being away from my family.

Ah, puberty. It was during this trip that we girls started shaving. There probably wasn't too much to shave at that point, but it was a right of passage that began on that trip.

Upon returning home I now had a shaver amongst my bathroom toiletries. One day my father discovered it - how I'm not sure since I had a separate bathroom where my father never ventured. Anyway, my father came to lecture me about not thinking that I had any reason to be shaving. After all, I had most of my mother's Filipina traits in that I really had hardly any body hair. He didn't forbid me or stop me, but I still remember the talk.

 The thing is, he was right in some regards. I hardly have any hair on my arms and legs. But as we all know in our American culture, women still shave under their arms and sometimes in the nether regions. My point is, though, that this lack of body hair includes around my eyes. My eyebrows are light and my eyelashes are practically nonexistent.

It's hard to imagine anyone not loving Hawaii. You've got a set of beautiful tropical islands that are part of the United States so that you get all the amenities of home while feeling like you are almost in a different country entirely. My first trip to Hawaii was to Maui with my parents in the 70s. Since then I've been back a few times, but I never had such a wonderful time as my last visit in August. I guess it was the freedom of being by myself so that I had the ability to explore, learn, and know Hawaii in a much more intimate way than ever before.

When I was told that there was going to be a Taste of Hawaii Tour with Chef Alan Wong coming to San Francisco, I had to sign up for one of the events. Alan Wong is one of the most prominent chefs in Hawaii. He was here to introduce his new cookbook, the first in over a decade, called "The Blue Tomato". Along with him was Arnold Hiura, a journalist who is now also known as a Hawaiian food historian. He also has a book out, "Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands", which I bought as well. They were in the Bay Area for a week, their only mainland stop. There was a full week of events, including the Chef's birthday bash. Eileen and I went on Sunday for a talk/dinner event at the Japanese  Cultural & Community Center of Northern California.
I know that many people have been waiting and waiting to know what's next with Sacramento's food truck ordinances.

The last time I updated everyone was probably the end of July. At that time we had had a few roundtable discussions with the City, the restaurant owners, the California Restaurant Association, and, of course, the food trucks.

The food trucks gave a wishlist of some of the things they would like. The list included such things as being allowed to park for the meter limit (if it's a 2 hour meter, they should be able to park there for 2 hours) and being allowed on private property with owner's permission.

Where we left it in July was in the City's hands. They had collected information from everyone and said they were going to start working on some proposed ordinances, it would take a few months, and hopefully they would have something in the fall.

Whatever is proposed has to go to committee first - the Law and Legislation Committee. At first we heard it would be October. Then it got pushed to today, November 1st. I was all set to go today and then found out it was cancelled.

I contacted the City to see if they had a status. Here is what I can tell you.