I Ran Away To The Fog

At the end of July, I started going a little bit crazy because I was working too hard. Plus it was about a billion degrees outside (and inside, too, since our off-the-grid barn doesn’t exactly have central air). So I ran away to the fog.

It was amazing. J. and I found icy cold creeks and went wading with minnows.

We had a picnic in the redwoods…

… and went to this awesome store with stuffed animals all over the walls and gold-mining equipment for sale, and an old dude that talked to me about hiking into the mountains of Alaska where he made $360,000 off of his gold claim in one week. 

We found treasure in the tidepools.

We camped next to the ocean.

which reminds me of this:

I have lost myself in the sea many times

with my ear full of freshly cut flowers

with my tongue full of love and agony

– Garcia-Lorca, Gacela of the Flight

We ate lots of things from the ocean, of course. Clams and oysters and other fish-related things.

We brought the cast iron dutch oven with us and cooked all kinds of lovely food at the campsite. It’s amazing how good a hot-dog tastes when it’s slow-roasted on a campfire next to the ocean. I highly recommend it.

Campfire Hot Dogs

Special Equipment: Firewood, a metal shovel, Cast-Iron Dutch Oven, or a stick will work too

Cooking Time: 2 hours or so

Serves: however many you want

Ingredients:

  • a pack of hot dogs (or Italian sausage, bratwurt, or whatever floats your boat)
  • a few tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
  • for serving: buns, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard

Build a fire. Wait awhile so the wood starts turning into hot coals (don’t just throw the dutch oven on the fire immediately).  Using your shovel, pull away coals from the main fire and make a small pile of the hot coals. Set the dutch oven on top of the coals.  Pour in a little oil and add the hot dogs once the pot is hot.  Cover, and check occasionally to make sure the pot isn’t getting too hot or cold. If the dutch oven gets too hot, just pull it off of the coals for a minute.

Cooking on coals like this is the equivalent of cooking on medium heat instead of blazing hot. Your pile of coals will stay hot for about 20-30 minutes. Keep adding wood to the main fire and pulling hot coals over to the pile for the dutch oven.  The hot dogs will eventually get all nice and browned on the outside and juicy and delicious in the middle. Serve with mustard and sauerkraut. Eat s’mores for dessert.

Make sure to take care of your fire (put it out with sand or dirt, or you can sit and look at the stars until it dies.) We don’t want to be burning down the forest or anything.

If you don’t have a cast-iron dutch oven, you could just use a stick. It will still taste super good.


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Jasmine and Oysters and Beignets

I am completely crazy about New Orleans. We were there this past week and I’ve never not wanted to get on a plane home quite so much in my life.

sunrise, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

The city is so magical, with walls of flowering jasmine, palm trees and ferns. Music explodes out of every crack in the sidewalk – walking down the street on a steamy Monday afternoon, I found a girl sitting in the middle of the street playing the bowed saw and singing beautiful blues songs.  Around another corner was a twenty piece brass band and children dancing in the street. I am in love!

The food, of course, is ridiculously good. We went to Mother’s, a restaurant that has been open since 1938. (Would you believe that the first day that we were back in California, there was a special about Mother’s on tv? The universe was sending a message…) Their oyster po’boy was insane, heaped with fried oysters, cabbage, and pickles, and perfect with a liberal dose of their hot pepper vinegar.

I had oysters on the half shell for breakfast and tried alligator for the first time (it was amazing!).

We went to Cafe du Monde for beignets, which is apparently A Thing That Everyone Must Do.

Normally I avoid Things That Everyone Must Do; Cafe du Monde is most certainly very crowded, and there is a line to get in pretty much all day, every day. Customers seat themselves though, so keep your eyes peeled for open tables and grab one when you see it (don’t just stand there for fifteen minutes wondering where the hostess is).

Beignets are like the most elevated piece of fried dough you will ever eat. They are perfectly fluffy and warm, and the absurd amount of powdered sugar that they are served with kind of melts into the beignet as you eat it. We ordered cafe au laits and fresh squeezed orange juice and listened to a trumpet player that was right outside of the dining area on the street. It was dark and cool in the restaurant, making it the perfect powdered-sugar-fried-donut-hideway from the humidity outside. Simply put, New Orleans is a city unlike any other. I will definitely be going back. I am still dreaming of jasmine and beignets.

And congratulations again to J. and B., our friends who got married there, the whole reason for the trip!

For more pictures, go to the grow it cook it can it facebook page.

P.S. That girl playing the bowed saw was in a band called The Jaded Optimists. They were pretty awesome and you can find their facebook page here.

Breakfast

Somehow I have reached a place in my life that the town I left eight years ago no longer seems so terrible.  A lot of this might be based on how pathetic the bagels are in California, and how good they are here.

The Vegetarian Bagel from Ithaca Bakery: sliced tomato, veggie cream cheese and melted muenster cheese on a spicy italian bagel

Melted cheese on top of more cheese is a brilliant idea. And the bagels…. they have the perfect texture, and the flavors they have available are totally unique and delicious.  I sat at a front table of the bakery, ate breakfast, and gazed out the front window at the blooming daffodils and forsythia while I woke up this morning.  It was lovely and I will probably do it again tomorrow.

Ithaca Bakery has several locations; I went to 203 N. Aurora St., Ithaca NY 14850. You should too.