Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tis the season for...ballots and baseball

Life is per-usual around here, which basically means there isn't a lot of blog-worthy news this week. We did our part to vote in the California 2010 Election, which at times felt a little like doing homework:

However, we did have the opportunity to weigh in on our state's next governor and some potentially landmark legislation to legalize marijuana. This year's election leaves much to complain about. One gubernatorial candidate here has spent more then $140 million dollars on her campaign - more than any other candidate for any other office, to date. The mudslinging has gotten ugly, candidates rarely seem to talk about the issues and the campaign speeches have all started to sound the same. Despite this, I feel privileged to be able to partake in our country's democratic process, flawed though it may be. All that's required is to read through some booklets, check a few boxes and stick a stamp on the envelope. The whole process can be done in your pajamas, on the couch, which is actually how I recommend doing it.

It's important to remember, though, how good we have it when it comes to voting. Did you know that the Nineteenth Amendment, which finalized women's suffrage, was passed only 90 years ago by Congress in 1920? This picture below shows South African voters in 2008 who sacrificed a day's wages to stand in line, in the hot sun, just to cast their vote. Sure gives you some perspective.

In unrelated news, the San Francisco Giants are playing in this year's World Series which is big doings 'round these parts. I met a man today in an elevator who was on his way to the first game, giddy with excitement. Not being a loyal MLB fan myself, I tend to look at the practical nature of the situation and mentioned he could probably sell his ticket for a large sum of money. He shook his head in disbelief and replied, "are you kidding? I've been waiting for this my whole life!" They say it's hard not to get swept up in sports fever, but somehow I still manage.

And last but not at all least, I'm posting a new favorite recipe of ours. It's pretty simple and definitely worthy of your next baking adventure. This recipe was given to me for our wedding by my very special Grandma Linda, who lives in Idaho. It's a favorite of her husband Jim's, who she lovingly refers to as her Peach.

Fresh Apple Cake

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 cups coarsely grated tart apples (recommended: Granny Smith)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins or chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9X13 glass baking pan. Mix the eggs, sugar, and oil and stir in the grated apples. In a large mixing bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients and then add the apple mixture. Add raisins and/or nuts, if using. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. apple cake & ice cream

Speaking of amazing cakes, I'd like to give a shout out to my cousin Vanessa, who is the resident baker on my side of the family. She is talented and accomplished in the art & science of baking up delicious cakes (her specialty) and cupcakes. She is now baking cakes by order near Ontario, CA and has recently launched a new website, Nessa's Cakes. Check her out!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time flies...

Time flies when you're having a great time. We had a fun visit with family this weekend and I only wish it could have been a little longer. To welcome my mom, we tried making Martha Stewart's Macaroni & Cheese, which is her favorite food. I almost never follow recipes exactly, and modified this one by adding a generous helping of Tillamook Cheddar and tomato slices on top. It's a great recipe if you have access to some inexpensive, good quality cheese and don't mind the extra calories. Not much was left by the end of the weekend.

We braved the first rainy day of the year and trekked down to touristy Fisherman's Wharf for a sunset dinner cruise on the bay. It was actually a clear, beautiful night and the views of the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate bridge were fantastic.

Mom & Bill on the boat

Sailing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge at night

No trip to Fisherman's Wharf would be complete with stopping for a sourdough loaf

I got a chance to show everyone some of my favorite San Jose places, including, but not limited to: the city rose garden (which was in bloom), my favorite taqueria which serves up some excellent horchata, our local dog park, the live seafood and variety meats at the Asian grocery store down the street, and both the lowbrow and highbrow shopping centers. My mom won the weekend's Canasta tournament earning her a scratch-it ticket prize that could have been worth millions.

They also helped us take some family photos at the park, though Lily certainly had other plans on her agenda. Her attention span is always shortened when nut-burying squirrels are within close range. You can tell from the photo outtakes getting all three of us to look at the camera was quite a feat.

Sue & Bill

Lily and her grandma

Friday, October 15, 2010

Peace, love, and squash

Living away from our loved ones in Oregon is hard as we are always missing our family and friends. One of the best things in the whole entire world is having those people come and visit us. This was particularly difficult for us when we lived in Los Angeles for many reasons; mainly, we were quite short on money, living space, and time. Now that we're in San Jose, we are thankful to have our lovely office and Aerobed which has housed many of our favorite people: Adam's parents and brother, Adam's friends from San Francisco, Sarah's French host sister Florence, Sarah's dad Rocky and her grandfather Wesley. This weekend, we are excited host the newly wed Susan & Bill, who are driving down from Oregon. It will be great to hang out at home with them and have some fun in San Francisco. Please also consider this an open invitation to you as well; for anyone reading this - seriously, nothing would make us happier than to have you here!

I also cooked up a big, delicious butternut squash the other day which is another one my favorite fall things.

Sarah & the squash

In case you feel like turning your vegetables into a dessert, here is one of my favorite easy recipes: Toss your squash on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and maple syrup and roast on high heat for 30 - 45 minutes til very tender.
I am very fortunate to possess real New Hampshire maple syrup that my brother sent last winter when he worked on a farm back East. It was fascinating to learn how they tapped the syrup in the dead of winter from the maple trees. It's always great to have a connection to where your food comes from, as well.

Here are some pictures Wesley shared last year while harvesting syrup on the farm. It's exactly how I always imaged New England looked in the winter.
Aside from being a farmer, peace activist, and lover of all living things, Wesley is also an amazing musician. Here is a photo my dad took of him performing with his band at a bar in Eugene last weekend:

Peace be with you and yours!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Fall is absolutely my favorite season of the year. I love everything about it - the chilly air, leaves everywhere, pumpkin lattes, and even school starting again. I am such a nerd and always loved the first day of school/college and all the excitement that new things bring in fall. Even though mother nature seems to view fall as an ending, I've always felt it was more of a beginning. In fact, I decided many years ago that I wanted to be married in September, my favorite month. Pretty much everything about fall makes me happy.

Halloween and Thanksgiving have all the wonderful elements of a great holiday (time off, gatherings with friends & family, delicious treats, and fun) without the stresses that Christmas sometimes brings. I still love Christmas, but have found as I've gotten older that it's not always such a happy time for everyone. We have an expectation that Christmas should be like a movie, with perfect families and perfect presents and perfect lives. Of course that's never true. In contrast, Thanksgiving and Halloween seem to put less strain and pressure on folks and still adds a great amount of joy. What could be better than dressing up in silly costumes and asking your neighbors for candy? Or eating a big turkey and pumpkin pie, and then playing games and laying around the house in a food coma? Not to mention the requisite 5:00 a.m. Black Friday festivities, which I almost always make an effort to attend! Well, it is only October yet so I'm getting ahead of myself.

For now, I've opened up my Halloween box to decorate, which sadly is only 1/10th the size of my Christmas box. To honor this occasion, here are some random, cheesy photos and a fall-themed recipe below for Red-Hot Crockpot Applesauce.

I found out last year that real jack o'lanterns don't seem to last long in warm San Jose. So we bought an electric one instead.

My not-so-spooky candleholders

A cheesy hello from yours truly

Adam cutting up a cherry cheesecake he made himself to surprise me one night.

Red-Hot Crockpot Applesauce
(Adapted from Hungry Girl's Sweet 'n Red Hot Apple Mash)

8-10 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
3 tbsp. Red Hots cinnamon-flavored candies
1 tbsp. light whipped butter
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Place all ingredients into the crockpot and cook on low 7-8 hrs or high for 4-5 hrs.

Stir well and serve hot, cold, or anywhere in between with Cool Whip or ice cream for added goodness.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SanJoseisforLovers: Sarah-style

We have kept this blog over the last year and had fun sharing some of our pictures & happenings. Sadly, though, our blog has been sorely neglected and I'd like to make a few small improvements. I've been inspired from some of your blogs and love the inclusion of all your great photos, stories, and recipes. Please enjoy the new layouts/design by Sarah, and promises of more frequent updates & bloggy goodness. Stay tuned.