I can pretty safely say that I was the first Sacramentan to use Foodspotting, the app for foodies who like to take pictures of their food.  Since they launched, I have met the founder, the team, and even been to the Foodspotting headquarters in San Francisco. It's a great app and a popular one.

There are other apps related to food that I do not use. I don't check-in with Foursquare and I very rarely Yelp. I never saw any decent return on Foursquare check-ins and only use it now to get the free valet parking at Ella. As for Yelp, I've always hated having to weed through bitchy comments to find worthwhile and helpful reviews. When it comes to helpful foodie reviews, I prefer those on Urbanspoon.

But I'm now switching over to Dinnerwire. Dinnerwire has it all in one place. I can check-in to the restaurant, take pictures of my food and post them, and write reviews or rate them. This is just the tip of the iceberg as it has more, and will be getting more, functionality soon.

In full disclosure, I'm now working for Dinnerwire and have been working as a consultant for them for the last six months.  They are a new app based in Davis and when I started last summer, they were still working on bugs.  That's where I came in.  As a foodie end user, I told them things that needed to be changed and what I wanted to see in the app that weren't there. Some of my suggestions are currently seen in the app.

For instance, before you could add a picture and then it bounced you out to the main menu. But we all know that we take multiple pictures at a restaurant. Now you can post multiple pictures without getting kicked out to the main menu.

During my 14 years of selling Pampered Chef I managed to accumulate a lot of their products. One item that I keep boxed and rarely use is their lovely trifle bowl. It was even featured as an Oprah Favorite Thing. So when I was invited to Garrett's for a holiday dinner, I figured it was time to put it to use.

I also knew I wanted to do a pumpkin trifle with pumpkin cake as the base and eggnog pudding. But I knew it needed more and so that was why I had made the Candied Pumpkin and Candied Pecans yesterday. Put all together, this was one fabulous trifle.  I even went a little overboard in that I reheated the candied pumpkin today, added rum, and then flambeed it. And to add a bit of color and tartness, I threw in some fresh cranberries as well. 

Here, below, are the other two component recipes - the pumpkin cake and eggnog pudding.  I did fold in whipped cream to the eggnog pudding to both increase the volume and stabilize it. To create the trifle I cubed the cake and then layered my trifle bowl: cake, candied pumpkin, pudding, cake, candied pumpkin, chopped candied pecans, final pudding layer with candied pecans and cranberries for decorating the top and a final dusting of fresh nutmeg.

Pumpkin Cake
This cake makes a large 9x14 rectangle cake or you can do 2 9" rounds for a layer cake. 

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pan(s) by greasing and flouring.

In a large bowl, blend together sugar, oil, and eggs.

In a medium bowl, blend together the dry ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet, blending until smooth.  Stir in pumpkin puree. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool for five minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack.

Eggnog Pudding (from Paula Dean)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated nutmeg

Mix together flour, cornstarch and sugar in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of the milk to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. In another saucepan, scald the remaining 2 3/4 cups milk; add to flour mixture. Cook and stir mixture over medium-low heat; do not allow to boil. In a bowl beat the yolks; remove 1/2 cup hot mixture and add to yolks to temper them; mix well and return to pot. Continue to cook over low heat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla. Let cool and then refrigerate to chill. 

I'm making a complex dessert for a holiday dinner (Pumpkin Trifle w/ Eggnog Pudding) and I needed crunch and fruit. On a whim I decided to look up candied pumpkin and found out that there are recipes out there. These, therefore, are not my creations. They are COMMON recipes, copied over and over, on the internet. So there is no person that I can attribute origin to.

The candied pecans are great to eat on their own. But I'll be using them to add crunch to my final dessert. The candied pumpkin can be eaten with ice cream and over pancakes or other desserts.  You can see my final dessert tomorrow.

Candied Pumpkin

1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1  sugar pumpkin, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Mix everything but the pumpkin together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure sugar is dissolved. Add pumpkin and turn down to simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Place cooled pan with the pumpkin in the liquid, in the refrigerator to chill.

Candied Pecans

2 cups of pecans, shelled
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
Mix the sugar, spices, and salt in a plastic bag.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and water til frothy.  Put the pecans into the egg white mixture and toss to coat them thoroughly. With a slotted spoon, scoop them into the bag of spiced sugar. Seal the bag and shake to thoroughly coat the nuts. Pour the pecans onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring the nuts a bit at the 15 minute mark.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For sushi lovers uni is a delicacy, as it is in nature. Uni is the Japanese word for the gonads, or sex organs, of sea urchins. Uni is, in fact, delicate and must be handled with care. It's very soft and even a bit mushy.  Eaten, it's got a creamy consistency.

In Japan, uni can go for as much as $400 a kilo. Luckily, we have plenty of local sea urchins off of our California coast. At Sunh Fish the uni comes in from Fort Bragg. A small tray of uni is $9.75 and a large tray is under $20. This is for the nice, pretty stuff as you see in the picture above.

But Sunh Fish also sells not-pretty uni for less. They have pint containers of mashed uni for $8.75 and it's perfect for making uni pasta or, if you go to Kru, Bill's uni panna cotta.  

That one pint of frozen uni mash will last me forever for uni pasta.  For a single serving I only need a quarter cup of it. Thus making it a very affordable deal. 

Uni pasta is super easy. And even though it uses no cheese, it's as creamy as if it did. 

Uni pasta

1/4 pound of fresh pasta noodles
1/4 cup of uni
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 T butter
reserved pasta water
caviar for garnish (optional)

Cook pasta until al dente. Before draining, scoop out a quarter cup of hot pasta water. 

In a small bowl mash the uni if it isn't already. Mix in olive oil and pepper flakes. 

Drain the pasta and immediately return it to the hot pot with the butter. After the butter has melted, stir in the uni mixture. If necessary, add a bit of reserved pasta water a little at a time until the uni pasta is nice and creamy.  

If you can, serve with a bit of caviar as garnish. It adds a nice bit of saltiness.
This month marks six years that Munchie Musings has been in existence. To say that it was one of the best things I've ever done is an understatement. Not because I have great reach or because my blog is anything special, but because of the way it has changed my life. I've become friends with so many more people via the blog and the social media groups. I've learned SOOOO much more about the food industry and food in general that I am sometimes a bit overwhelming and scary in food conversations. I've become involved with Sacramento's food community so that I've been able to do such things as the Sacramento Food Film Festival and Have an Offal Day as well as being an active supporter of the food truck movement. 

Along the way, I hope I've shared some useful information with the few that do read my blog of follow me on Facebook and Twitter. The last few years I've made a habit of finding daily news stories on the internet pertaining to food, nutrition, agriculture, restaurant business, and more.  I select the stories that I found the most interesting and thought others might be interested in.

With that in mind, if you like those news postings and follow me on Facebook, you need to know that Facebook, if it doesn't change soon, is going to go the way of MySpace. The reason is, they aren't sharing my posts with you all.   Of the 500 Facebook fans I have, only about 7 at a time ever see a post that I share there. That's because Facebook wants us to buy adds. That's all well and good if you are a business that has money, but bloggers don't. Bloggers are fed up.

So, while I will continue to post things to the FB page, I'm also going to start working more on posting to Google + with the hopes that the reach is better. Please consider following me there at google.com/+MunchiemusingsNet

I know it's so much easier to do what you've always done, but technology is ever changing. America Online and MySpace? Hardly anyone uses those anymore. It's looking like Google + is the next thing as long as Facebook keeps doing what it's doing. Facebook might be good for keeping up with friends, but it's crap from a small business perspective.

But just for the fact that you are even reading this - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!


Back in September I told you that the California Pear Advisory Board was having a contest for local restaurants to come up with some new pear recipes. The winners were announced yesterday - or winner. Hawks Restaurant  featured California Pear and Endive Salad as its entry in the contest’s “appetizer” category along with a specialty drink called the Turtle Dove entered in the “adult beverage” category. They ended up winning first place in both of the categories and was awarded a total of $3,000 in prize winnings offered by California pear farmers. Be sure and congratulate them and order that drink on your next visit.

Mama Kim Eats on Urbanspoon

If my only complaint is that the place was cold, then I suggest you just dress warmly during the winter. 

My BFF offered to take me out for my birthday and we decided on brunch. My first inclination was to go somewhere downtown, but my birthday fell on the same day as the California International Marathon, which reeks havoc on roadways all the way from Folsom Lake to the State Capitol. For us downtown, it's just another weekend day of detours due to races/runs, except that this one lasts for HOURS and messes up the entire Grid.

Since I wanted to take BFF to the GOOD: Street Food & Design for the first time, I figured we should head for Mama Kim's on Del Paso Blvd. We could conveniently take the freeway and avoid the traffic mess.

MK is just down the way from Enotria and in the same space by the departed Supper Club.  The building is on the industrial side with high ceilings, bare brick walls, and exposed pipes - thus the chilly temperature on this sub-freezing December day. 

We were greeted by the lovely sounds of live music. Phillip Rayburn, (Mama) Kim Scott's business partner, was singing accompanied by his backup trio. They are a fixture and feature of MK, playing both at dinner and brunch service. They are a polished and cohesive group, making it all the more enjoyable.

Service is friendly and attentive. We were quickly seated and given menus with a listing of dishes that makes it hard to choose. The servers here use tablets to take orders and to present the specials. This was the first time I've had a server present an image of the special on the tablet while she described it. Nice touch!
Even so, we opted for menu choices.

BFF enjoyed sipping on her sake Bloody Mary while I had a hot chocolate to warm up a bit. Eventually these two beautiful dishes came out...

Mine (pictured above) was the Poached Eggs with Duck Confit, Sweet Potato Hash and Feeding Crane Greens. Fabulous!  And loaded with duck. There was no skimping here! The duck had been shredded to mix in with the hash vegetables. There was a smear of hot sauce on the side of the plate, which I found added a nice kick of spice so that I asked for a bit more. The braised kale was the perfect bit of bitter greens to compliment the hearty hash and eggs. 

BFF was equally thrilled with her  Smoked Pork with Creole Sauce, Sunnyside Eggs, Aged Cheddar Grits and Feeding Crane Greens. This was a dish that had interested me too, except I'm not a grits fan. Underneath her eggs she found a nice piece of boneless pork with a light smattering of smoky flavor. The Creole sauce was a chunky mixture of tomatoes and winter vegetables with a nice Southern tang. BFF was so happy with our dishes that she declared this her "new favorite brunch place" and "I can't wait to come try it for dinner!"

The sliders on the menu had also caught my eye and then they caught it again when I saw the physical manifestations appeared at the next table. They were so impressive that I had to rudely butt-in and ask if I could take a picture, since I knew I had to blog this wonderful breakfast.

Lamb Sliders with Creole Relish, White Cheddar, and Sweet Potato Chips

Salmon sliders 

All in all it was a wonderful birthday brunch. Luckily I avoided the birthday song that another diner got. Oh, it was a lovely serenade by the talented Phil, but I just didn't want the attention. 

This had actually been my second time brunching at Mama Kim's. I love the food truck food, the brunch, so it's really only a matter of time before I get around to dinner there.  After such a fabulous brunch, it causes me to wonder - why am I taking so long?