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Monday, May 21, 2012

Now on "The Road to the Good Life"

We've moved! The blog's moved in with a few others over at The Road to the Good Life, and cubes and I have traded in our cozy Edwardian apartment for one on the other side of the Mission.
Sneak Peek: Our New Kitchen
After the boxes get unpacked, look for your favorite columns -- bi-monthly Blast from the Past, Dining Out, monthly Family Style, bi-monthly Font Friday, bi-monthly Friday Funnies, monthly Guestbook Recipe, weekly Ingredients, bi-monthly Pantry Challenge, monthly Recipe Rewind, monthly Retro Kitchen, and weekly What I Crave -- to resume over at The Road to the Good Life.
Bon Appetit!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I Crave: Pot Stickers

I've always loved Gyoza or pot stickers - especially the salty spicy sour dipping sauce. Now that I'm pregnant, this craving is on overdrive. I could eat pot stickers every day for almost every meal. However, not every pot sticker is worth eating. Here are two of my picks and one pan from around the Bay Area.

For me the ideal pot sticker has:

  • An ever so slightly crisp dough
  • Thin dough
  • Flavorful filling

When I bite into a pot sticker, I want the perfect balance of dough to filling. Pot stickers that leave me wanting, and often are left untouched past the first bite, have:

  • Soggy chewy dough
  • Thick dough
  • Bland filling
My Favorite in the City: Pot stickers from Alice's at 1599 Sanchez St in San Francisco, CA 
My Reliable Standby: Pot stickers from Red Jade at 245 Church St in San Francisco, CA 
Not Worth the Calories: Pot stickers from Sun Mei in Walnut Creek, CA 

I also like consistency. I'm not sure what's going on at Sun Mei, they used to be my go to Chinese restaurant for lunch, but the last two times their pot stickers have been less than tasty. Doughy, a little oily, and bland.

Where are your favorite spots to get Pot Stickers?

Bon Apetit!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for Recipes for the Good Life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Etsy Tuesday: Retro Toys

There's something about the smell and the feel of wood and metal toys. Toys that don't come with elaborate back stories; ones that are ripe for a child's imagination to take flight. Toys that aren't labeled "For Boys" or "For Girls." As we work on Gates' nursery, I find myself thinking about the things I grew up with: Fisher Price, Playskool, Lincoln Logs, Tonka, and TupperToys.

The Finds (from left to right): Tonka Fire Truck $17.99 from The Vintage Road 2 Retro; Tuppertoys $10 from RetroClassics; Lincoln Logs: Explorer Set $39.95 from Westward Gifts; Fisher Price A-Frame $140 from Toys of the Past.

What are your favorite childhood toys?

Bon Apetit!
Credits: Collage created by Eden Hensley Silverstein for Recipes for the Good Life. All product images taken by their respective Etsy sellers: RetroClassics, The Vintage Road 2 Retro, Toys of the Past, and Westward Gifts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ingredients: An Unlikely Place for A Sweetner

One of my favorite foods right now is Gyoza or Pot Stickers. I especially love the dipping sauce - a blend of 2/3 part Rice Vinegar and Soy Sauce with 1/3 part Chili Oil. Recently, I was surprised to find out the packets included with our Chinese delivery contained another ingredient.

I typically make our dipping sauce, except when I've run out of an ingredient and then use the provided packets. As I was tossing out the packets, I noticed Molasses as one of the ingredients. Boy was I surprised! I can't believe I never thought to check the ingredients before. The next time I order Pot Stickers at a restaurant and a dipping sauce is provided, you can bet I'm going to ask what's in their sauce.

Have you found sweeteners in odd places?

I've got a lot planned for this short Holiday week. Tuesday is all about toys, specifically those I grew up with and want to share with Gates. Wednesday, I reveal some of my best and worst experiences with Pot Stickers in the Bay Area. Thursday, I'll be back in the kitchen, bringing stuffing to our friends' Thanksgiving potluck, so you'll be treated to a recipe! Shocking, I know. And on Friday I'll share a couple more illustrations from The New Wolf in Chef's Clothing along with tips on entertaining.

Bon Apetit!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for Recipes for the Good Life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Funnies: Breakfast in Bed

One of my favorite 1950s cookbooks isn't meant for me at all. The Wolf in Chef's Clothing and it's second printing The New Wolf in Chef's Clothing are written for men by Robert H. Loeb, Jr and illustrated by Jim Newhall. It's "the picture cook and drink book for men." Why do I love this cookbook? It's the fabled rule book every guy has on how to catch and keep a girl.

The guidebook starts with the quintessential first meal, breakfast, specifically, breakfast for two.

"If you want to rise and shine -- Make her breakfast.
If your conscience is bad -- Make her breakfast.
If her conscience is bad -- Make her breakfast.
If you want to breakfast her -- Read on"

On page 30, Jim even illustrates the proper tray setting to "make a queen eat out of your hand:"

While pregnant I've enjoyed many a meal brought to me on a tray; it's definitely a treat.

Bon Apetit!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for Recipes for the Good Life.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bedside Reading: Books about Presenting and Eating Food

Right now I have six books (besides the two trashy novels I'm reading) calling out my name. All six have something to do with food from styling it, photographing it, choosing and storing ingredients to cooking it. The books currently inspiring my dreams of future dinner parties are Eat Love Food Concepts by Eating Designer Marije Vogelzang, Delicious, Plate to Pixel, Food Styling for Photographers, Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food, and They Draw & Cook.

Unfortunately I've been too tired lately to cook; the most I do in the kitchen at the moment is reheat things or brew a cup of tea. While we haven't tried any of the recipes in Eat Good Food yet, we've learned a few things about storing food. First, I learned my mom was right: if you're not going to be able to eat a loaf of bread in a couple of days, the best way to store it is in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Second, we learned that tomatoes are best kept at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.

I've always believed that we eat with all of our senses. If a dish is not appealing to my eyes, I have a very hard time even trying a bite. Even when I'm dining alone, I still plate my food artistically.

I remember the first time I saw Wayne Theibaud's work at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. I became obsessed with recreating my favorite foods using the limited color palette of my Crayola Broad Line Markers. I had paper cutouts of all my favorite Farrell's desserts from an ice cream sundae to a rootbeer float.

Eat Love takes food from nutrition to art, providing inspiration for food-themed gatherings where guests are presented with edible art. The other two books on my nightstand, Food Styling for Photographers and Plate to Pixel, offer practical advice on how to capture the impermanence of  edible art and excite the rest of the senses. I can't wait to try out some ideas I've come up with after just skimming these books.

As I dive further into these books, I'll share a few of my favorite tips, illustrations, and recipes.

Bon Apetit!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for Recipes for the Good Life.

What I Crave: Steven Smith No. 45 Peppermint Leaves

I'm a diehard coffee fan. So, it's pretty surprising that I could fall in love with an herbal tea. Well, I did. I fell head over heels in love with Steven Smith No. 45 from Portland, OR. And, the delivery of this tea may have been my most demanding pregnancy wish.

You're probably wondering how a San Francisco resident discovered a Portland tea. If you're thinking I discovered it on a visit to Portland, you'd be wrong. It came tucked into my orders from GemKitty. (If you didn't follow my wedding blog, I purchased all of the maids' jewelry, as well as mine, from this Portland, OR-based studio. Arrs, the sorceress behind GemKitty, is also my sister-in-law.) Arrs personally writes a note with each order. At the time I ordered my wedding jewelry, she included a packet or two of the tea she was drinking in her studio. (She now includes 100% organic, all natural lollipops with each order.)

When I got pregnant and was trying to avoid all caffeine, I turned to the tea Arrs had sent me. And, I got hooked on Steven Smith No. 45. If you want to be transported from the every day, I highly recommend brewing a cup of No. 45.

cubes and I talk pretty regularly to Arrs and Todd (her husband). On our last call, I asked if they could send some of the Peppermint Leaves our way. Little did I know this was not going to be a wish that was easily fulfilled. You can't just pop down to the corner tea shop or grocery and pick up No. 45. Arrs had to take a special trip to the tea factory itself to find the tea. I now have 30 magical escapes awaiting me (fewer if I decide to share - I may just call the pregnancy card into play here and keep it all).

Huge thank yous to Arrs of GemKitty for finding a stash of this tea and Todd of Vizify for hand delivering it!

What's your favorite tea? How did you discover it?

Bon Apetit!

P.S. I know two "What I Crave" posts in one week! I'll be sharing the backlog of food books that are occupying my bedside nightstand after dinner tonight. I got so sidetracked by my tea that I just had to share. I hope you don't mind.
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for Recipes for the Good Life.
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