Wednesday, July 30, 2008

you must make this recipe

A friend just asked yesterday if I had baked anything good this summer and I realized I have still been taking a break from all my usual business and no, I really hadn't been doing a lot of extracurricular kitchen crafting! But, twice I have made this fabulous dish. It's very easy, very comfort-food-ish and great for breakfast or dessert. It comes from Torie Ritchie's "Tuesday Recipes". She is a local cookbook author who emails out a new recipe every Tuesday and you can subscribe to her list here. It's worth it. I have made a few keepers from her emails!

french toast bread pudding with warm peaches

serves 6
prep time: 20 minutes
chill time: overnight
bake time: 45 minutes

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 loaf (about 1 pound) cinnamon-swirl bread, challah or brioche bread
6 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 ripe peaches, sliced (you are definitely going to want to double the peaches, but nothing else)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The night before serving, smear the 1 tablespoon butter over the bottom and sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or other 2-quart baking dish. Tear the bread into small pieces and scatter in the dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla. Pour over the bread. Tamp down the bread with a spatula to submerge each piece in egg. Cover with foil, gently pressing down so the foil is right on the surface of the mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, remove the dish and slide it into a cold oven with the foil on (otherwise, the dish will crack). Turn oven on to 375°. After 25 minutes, gently pull off and discard the foil. Continue to bake until mixture is puffed and golden brown, about 20 more minutes. At this point, prepare the peaches by melting the 4 tablespoons butter in a wide nonstick pan then stirring in the brown sugar. When mixture is bubbly, add peaches and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until peaches start to look glazed, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside (mixture will be really hot).

When bread pudding is cooked, let it cool for a few minutes on a rack, then spoon onto plates and top with warm peaches.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the best ice cream

Last week I went to Bi-Rite Creamery. I can't believe I've been missing out all this time! They were closing right as we arrived and we had to make a really quick decision. I chose the salted caramel without even really seeing my other options. I'll never look back. I think I'm in love (sorry David). It. was. so. good. I'm trying to mastermind the way I can get back there as quickly as possible. It tasted like really rich, super creamy, almost burnt sugar. Just the way I like it. The flavor was complex, sweet- but not too. A grain of sea salt every so often to bring out the flavors, and every once in a while- a small creamy nibble of caramel. Wow. I couldn't stop thinking about it for the next 24 hours.
Oh, and I love that they have little wooden ice cream spoons and biodegradable cups. And that their tasting spoons are REAL spoons. That they wash. And reuse. And that they use Strauss Creamery dairy products.

Monday, July 21, 2008


While we were on vacation I got to go out with a couple of my sisters, David and my dad a couple of times for a photo "field trip" to capture Driggs and the surrounding valley. I thought these turned out pretty well.

nature shots

Here are some of my better nature shots from the trip.

the people

And last but not least, some of the people I got to spend the week with!

Friday, July 18, 2008

you might want to avert your eyes

We had a National Geographic moment on our vacation. We were staying in a condo near two other condos where the rest of my family was staying. One day while we were walking from one to the other we came upon this scene right in the grass 20 feet away from our back door. Somehow two baby birds had fallen earlier in the day and a couple of garter snakes had discovered them and were anxious for a chicken dinner. My kids and their cousins were able to witness these small snakes from just a few feet away as they pulled their feast under the house next door. Lucky for me (or not), my camera was very close by and I captured it for your viewing pleasure!

yummy pastries in Teton Valley

We just returned home last night from a family reunion in Driggs, Idaho which is in the Teton Valley right on the border between Idaho and Wyoming. It is about an hour from Jackson Hole. A great time was had by all and the area is just gorgeous.

One unexpected moment was coming upon this fabulous little pastry shop hiding at the back of a gravel parking lot on Main Street. Driggs has always been a small town with only a small variety of shops and eateries but apparently this one has been there about 4 years and we never knew about it!

My dad and I split a fruit tart with nectarines and bluberries and an almond pastry, my favorite. My sister had a blueberry and cream pastry and boy, was it hard to make a choice! Everything looked fresh and perfect. We met the women who bakes and owns the shop who told us she learned her skills from her Austrian father, who had a bakery in SunValley, while growing up. Definitely a spot to rival those here in San Francisco! I look forward to visiting Pendl's again when we go to Driggs in the future.

I loved the atmosphere. It was one of those spots that you would want to visit daily and where you would look forward to seeing your friends from the neighborhood. There were cute tables outside and a fire pit for cold weather. And I love that it was tucked away from the street's edge, away from the increasing traffic in town. Isn't it funny how discoveries like this one just brighten your day!