Merry Christmas 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cidney the Girl Dog - Christmas

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas! I hope it is filled with lots of laughs, family and hella food.
- xo, Mary the  Food Librarian and Cidney the Girl Dog

Cidney Christmas Collage 2012
Dear Friends of the Food Librarian, I know Mary writes about me all the time and takes endless instagram photos on the beach, but can you believe this year's costume? It was a few sizes too small and had to be stretched over my head (luckily I have small ears). Then they put antlers on me too. Oh, the things I do for a daily walk and occasional run to the beach. :) I wish you and your furry friends a great holiday season!
- xo, Cidney the Girl Dog
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Gingerbread Pancakes - Mark Bittman

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gingerbread Pancakes collage
Gingerbread Pancakes

I woke up craving pancakes the other day. And gingerbread. Thus, gingerbread pancakes!

This recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. It's a great book that I need to use more often. Are you a food blogger? I've finally started taking a photo of the recipe I'm using so I can keep track of things!

Gingerbread Pancakes
These pancakes are fluffy and have a hint of molasses and spices. Fresh minced ginger is added to the batter. When I make these again, I might also add some ground ginger to the mix to amp up the spices.

Gingerbread Pancakes
The liquid includes milk (I used almond milk), molasses and egg yolks. The egg whites are beaten until stiff and folded into the batter.

Gingerbread Pancakes
When you wake up with a craving for pancakes and gingerbread...make these!

Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Base: Light and Fluffy Pancakes (page 202) + Gingerbread ingredients

1 cup milk
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger, or 2 teaspoons ground ginger, or 2-3 Tablespoons minced crystallized ginger (I used fresh ginger)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
Dash salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves

1. Preheat griddle or pan. Cook these pancakes more slowly than others as they can burn.
2. Beat together the milk, egg yolks, ginger and molasses in a measuring cup or bowl.
3. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff but not dry.
5. Combine the dry ingredients and milk/yolk mixture. Fold in the egg whites but don't can leave streaks of the egg whites.
6. Butter or oil the pan and add batter. Flip when the pancake shows some bubbles, and cook through.
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Manhattan Beach Yuletide 5K Run 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Manhattan Beach Yuletide 5K Dec 2012
Manhattan Beach Yuletide 5K

Yesterday, my friend Melissa and I ran the Manhattan Beach Yuletide 5K on the beach. This was my first time running this race in the glow of the moon, holiday lights on the pier and glow necklaces.

The 5K goes from the Manhattan Beach Pier to 45th Street and back. After, they had a kid's run with adorable and fast little tots. Many people dress up with outstanding costumes and hats. Some were wearing full-on battery-powered Christmas lights wrapped around themselves and sometimes their strollers...very cute!

Getting my glow sticks on at the manhattan beach 5k.
Everyone received a glow necklace that reminds you of a carnival or Disneyland. It was also FREEZING. Um, I know the use of the word "freezing" by a native Los Angeles girl may be laughed at by others...but it was really cold outside. The low was 48 degrees on Saturday and it felt it.

Manhattan Beach Christmas 5K run on the beach! It's freezing...but festive.
The Manhattan Beach Pier is decorated with simple lights and the "tree" at the end of the pier was a beacon of "you are almost done." I've never run on the beach as I usually have Ms. Cidney the Dog with me (only a few Los Angeles area beaches allow dogs on the beach). It was harder than asphalt but oh so beautiful. Running under the moonlight with the waves rolling besides you...if it weren't so dark, it would totally be a postcard of beautiful Los Angeles living.
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Giveaway winner and more holiday ideas

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bought myself a nike + gps watch for my birthday. #selfgiftingrocks Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! I had a lovely birthday with friends, family and the dog. Mellow and fun. I bought myself this Nike+ GPS watch for running. Only wish that it also ran for me...but I'm sure they are working on that. ;)

The randomly selected winner of my birthday giveaway ($20 Amazon gift card and $20 donated to the Red Cross) is:  Tina of Food for Tina. Congrats!

Last week, I listed a few holiday gift ideas (see Part One here). Of course, as soon as I hit "publish," I thought of some more ideas...and I got some birthday gifts that would be perfect holiday gifts! :)

My dear friend sent me these Dorie Greenspan cookies for my birthday!!! Most delicious gift ever! Dorie's store is open in New York...and it's my dream to visit. However, we now have delivery. I received a sleeve of Classic Jammers, World Peace Cookies and Sables. OMG...they are so delicious - I love them all. The Classic Jammers are my favs (but picking a favorite is like picking your favorite child). Order yours today!

Humble Bean Japanese Recipe Booklet
My friend Azusa has developed another recipe booklet! You can find simple, delicious recipes for clear mushroom soup, sesame dressing, oyako donburi, ramen cabbage salad and more. On Etsy for $15 plus shipping.

Moleskin 2013 12 Month Daily Planner in Pretty Colors
I got this for my birthday! I love all things Moleskin and can't wait for the new year to start to use it! Each month is a different color and you can keep them all in this book for years to come. In all the police procedural movies and books I've read, it is important to hang onto your calendar to prove your alibi. Just saying. $40 retail.

Emergency Radio
Emergency Radio, Flashlight and Cell Phone Charger
I live in earthquake land and we never know when the big one is going to hit. This is a little radio/flashlight/cell phone charger hand crank thingy that I keep by my bed and in the car. For about $40, I feel a little better having it at the ready. It may not be the most glamorous gift, but the recipient will love you when they need to charge that cell phone after an earthquake, storm or power outage.

One Line a Day Book
This is a fun book I got a couple years ago. Each page has one day (such as December 7th) with five sections. You fill out one section per year. Then, you can look back to what happened one, two, four years ago. You only have room for a couple sentences so you can basically tweet your day. :) I'm almost done with my second year, and it is enlightening to see what happened a year ago...sometimes it'll make you cringe at how fast a year goes by! $12 on Amazon.

Finally, after all this holiday shopping and cheer, it's always nice to have someone else cook for you. The folks at Souplantation told me about this special: bring in a canned food donation and get 20% off at Souplantation during December. Your donated food will be given to local food banks!

Have fun! - mary the food librarian

FCC Disclosure: I'm part of the Amazon affiliate program so I get a few cents if you click on my links and buy something on Amazon (don't worry, I never know who buys what so if you want to buy ten copies of 50 Shades of Grey, no biggie). 
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Happy Birthday to Me Giveaway!

Friday, December 7, 2012

42nd Birthday - December 7, 2012

Good morning! It's my 42nd birthday today! What?! Not sure how that happened (time certainly accelerates when you get older), but I've been blessed with great family and friends throughout my life.

Today is about walking to the beach with Cidney the Girl Dog, lunch with my folks and dinner and rom-com with friends. Sweet. And, of course, calories don't count today. It's the law.

To celebrate, I'm having a little giveaway! One reader gets a $20 Amazon gift card and $20 donated in their name to the Red Cross. A little something for you, and a little something for others. Sounds like a plan.

Just leave a comment below before Sunday night, December 9, 2013 at midnight PST. I'll randomly pick one winner. Leave your email or twitter handle if you comment anonymously. FCC Disclosure: I'm paying for this.

Thanks for sharing my birthday with me! Hope you have a great day too!

- mary the food librarian
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Pumpkin Muffins

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins

I got my first Christmas card yesterday. What?! I'm in denial about the holiday season. But I do love photo cards...always amazed how fast kids are growing. My mom and dad made my brother and I sit for holiday cards until I was 21 years old. Do you make photo cards for the holidays?

Pumpkin Muffins
Here are some simple pumpkin muffins...and they are dairy-free! (contains eggs so they aren't vegan). They come together in a jiffy. Next time, I think I'll add some crystallized ginger. Everything is better with ginger.

Pumpkin Muffins
It's my dear friend Helen's Birthday today! Woo hoo! Happy Birthday Helen!

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from the American club, in Kohler, Wisconsin via Gourmet Magazine

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I used Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice)
1 1/4 cups sugar

1 Tablespoon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
and/or shakes from the Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Grinder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in 12 muffin cups (I used brown parchment cups - love these. I get mine from Surfas in Los Angeles...they are opening a store in Costa Mesa soon.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar.

Quickly mix the wet mixture with the flour mixture. Don't overmix!

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar topping. (I topped mine with a few grinds of the Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar grinder). Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.
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The Food Librarian's Gift Ideas 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Season's Greetings! Seriously can't believe it is December 1st already. Haven't started my holiday shopping yet...have you? Anyway, here are some things that I own and can't live without, or can't wait to explore that someone in your life may want. I can't guarantee that this will be the most awesome gift for your friends and family...but it may give you an idea for things to buy For Yourself. :) Remember to treat yourself this holiday season too!

It's a pretty random list... here goes (click on links for Amazon pages - full disclosure: I'm part of the Amazon affiliate program and get pennies if you happen to purchase items from this link...and I end up buying more cookbooks! Ah, the circle of life :)

Gift Guide 2011\
Cookbooks - For the Baker of all levels:
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
If you've followed my blog, you know this book is a huge part! I was part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group and we baked our way through this book. I consider it a classic, and perfect for both the beginning baker and expert. Dorie Greenspan is amazing...she has very good instructions and wonderful flavor combos. This collage is just a few of the things I made from the book!

Tuesdays with Dorie Collage
Some of the recipes from Dorie's book: Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the more advanced baker: 
Bouchon Bakery - This new book by Bouchon Bakery is beautiful. I haven't baked anything from it, but can't wait. Fortunately, Bouchon had a pop-up bakery in Beverly Hills (now they have a permanent bakery) and I went on my 40th birthday for delicious cookies and signature bouchon "cork" brownies. Everything is in weights and they have a chapter about throwing out your measuring cups. Woo hoo...speaking my language.

A few more books that I use a lot:
The Art and Soul of Baking - This is a great book with lots of instruction and easy to make recipe. It's by Sur la Table and pastry chef Cindy Mushet. Some of the items I've made include Orange Chocolate Chip muffins, Nectarine Upside-Down muffins, and Chocolate Chip Toffee scones.

Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe - Oh man, I love this bakery and this book. Joanne Chang has some detailed instructions and very delicious recipes. The yellow cake is worth buying this book alone. And the lemon ginger scones? Please. Just add it to your cart already.

Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours - This book came out in 2010 and I find myself reading it often. Sarabeth Levine has her bakery in New York...and until I get myself there, I'll just have to bake up a lot of yummy desserts from her book. 

Gift Guide 2011
Mochi: recipes from savory to sweet! by JustJenn Fujikawa ($12.50). My friend JustJenn has this great recipe book of all mochi related recipes! From Savory to Sweet! Get your mochi on this holiday season. JustJenn is so creative and makes awesome recipes - you'll really enjoy this book!

Gift Guide 2011
Salter 3003 Aquatronic Glass Electronic Kitchen Scale (about $40)
Speaking of scales, I've had this one for a few years and love it. It easily switches from grams to ounces, and  has large numbers. Weighing ingredients is much faster and saves washing dishes. Luckily, more cookbooks are published with weights, as well as food sections of newspapers like the Los Angeles Times.

Gift Guide 2011
Portable Speaker  ($15-20 Available in Blue, Black, Red and Silver)
When I bake, I love listening to audiobooks. However, I'd rather not have headphones in my ears (have you caught the cords on a drawer and have them yanked from your ears? Totally sucks). This cute little plug-in speaker does the trick. My colleague uses it with her iPad to watch movies in bed, and another friend uses it in her car. It charges via USB on your computer, and the charge lasts awhile.

Roku HD Streaming Player
Do you have Netflix streaming, Amazon Prime or watch Amazon videos or Hulu? This really small Roku box lets you stream videos via WiFi. It's way cool. Most of my friends have an XBox or Blueray player that will stream videos to their TV, but I don't have those fun things. This box works great, and takes very little space. Before I got it, I bought a DVD player with streaming from Costco. It wasn't set up for Amazon Video so I would have to open a browser, use a little remote without a keyboard and it didn't work great. The Roku has it set up to work with the major streaming players so you don't go crazy.

P.S. Thanks to my twitter buddy Erica @epeureka for helping me find the remote too! I tweeted, "If I were my Roku remote, where would I be?" and she said, "Couch cushion crack." Score! (And I found some lose change too).

They have a bunch of different types of Roku... but I really love it for streaming. It's amazing that something so small can deliver my favorite shows! :)

For the runner:
While I'm hardly a big time runner, here are a few things I wear while running so I'm not hit by a car. Because that would suck. Big time.

Road ID Engraved Emergency Contact Wristband ($20) - I run with my phone and dog. But if something happens, my phone has a pattern lock, and my dog doesn't talk. So I have a pink Road ID that can talk for me should that ever happen. This would make a very valuable gift to anyone who exercises or even just walks the dog.

Traveler stuff:
This is a great bag. It is called the Patagonia MLC or Maximum Legal Carry-On bag. It has a zillion zippered pouches and can be carried like a brief case or worn like a messenger bag or backpack. My friend Sumi has taken hers all over the world, and well, I've taken mine to San Francisco and the east coast. It's perfect for probably up to 4 days, if you don't have too many shoes. It's $160 but I think it's going to last many years and miles.

Of course, the best gift is giving to others. Consider a donation to your friend's favorite charity - service organizations, libraries, museums, zoos, and so many worthy causes!

Updated: See part 2 of my gift list here
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Apple, Persimmon, Cranberry Crisp

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Apple Persimmon Cran Crisp
Apple, Persimmon, Cranberry Crisp

I made this crisp for Dave & Phil's Friendsgiving dinner. Rain was falling in Los Angeles so it was definitely fall. Combining my favorite fall flavors with a oatmeal topping was just the ticket.

Fall Crisp collage
Fuyu persimmon (make sure it is a FUYU and not a Hachiya persimmon - Fuyu can be eaten firm, but the Hachiya has to be soft and gooey - you can't sub them in this recipe), apples, and fresh cranberries are perfect fall flavors. I was inspired by Dorie Greenspan's Cran-Apple Crisp recipe. I omitted the coconut and added the kaki (persimmon in Japanese).

Warm fruit is one of my favorite foods in the world. I hope you try this crisp on a cold day this winter.

Apple, Persimmon, Cranberry Crisp
Fruit filling:
2 Gala Apples
1 Fuji Apple
2 Fuyu Persimmon (Must be fuyu - cannot use the hachiya variety of persimmon)
1/2 - 1 cup fresh cranberries, cut in half
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 stick (8 T/4 oz) cold butter

1. Lightly butter 8-9 ramekins. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Make the topping by hand or in a food processor until large clumps form.
3. Peel and chop fruit to bite size pieces. In a large bowl, mix the fruit with sugar and flour. 
4. Fill ramekins with fruit (almost to the top).
5. Squeeze the topping with your fingers as you place it on top of the fruit, making little clumps.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges.
7. Remove from oven and let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.
9. Serve alone, with ice cream, or whipped cream.
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Bocce Friday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bocce Ball
Bocce Ball, Souplantation, and Visiting...

My Black Friday was actually a Bocce Friday! Much better than waiting in line, getting pepper sprayed and fighting for stuff in the store. :)

My high school friend Sonny was in town with his son F from the east coast to visit his family. Yes, high school. We go way, way back. When we didn't have gray hairs. What?! How did we get so old?

Sonny visit - Thanksgiving 2012
We went to the beach with his family but it was totally foggy. I'm a native Southern California girl and complained about the fog and chill...and Sonny laughed at us poor fragile Angelenos. He then described icicles in his nostrils from the New England winter. Okay, he wins.

Sonny's niece A taught me how to play Bocce. Somehow, I've never played before. I got an excellent lesson, and it was a ton of fun. Sonny's family is serious about their Bocce Ball! Check out their form!

F's favorite restaurant is Souplanation (can't find it in New England) so we headed there for lunch. I know foodies may bag on Souplanation, but I have always loved the place. Fast, hella choices, and I love that chicken noodle soup!

Sonny visit - Thanksgiving 2012
Father and son. It's an awesome day after Thanksgiving! Hope you guys come back for a So Cal visit again soon!
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Torrance Turkey Trot 2012

Torrance Turkey Trot 2012
Torrance Turkey Trot 2012

I woke up early on Thanksgiving not with visions of pie in my head, but with running in mind! (well, that's not true, I'm pretty much always thinking about dessert ;)

Thanksgiving morning started with the Torrance Turkey Trot! My friend Dave ran by my side for the third year running this 3-miler (just a wee bit short of a 5K). As you may know, I picked up running a few years ago and the 2010 Trot was my first race. I've gone in and out of running since, and never finished a 5K without walking part of it. But this time? I ran the entire thing! Woo hoo. And my time was a personal best!

Torrance Turkey Trot
Phil (see his turkey presentation at Friendsgiving) ran the race for the first time and ran it in 22 minutes! He then waited for near the finish line and helped me sprint to the finish! Thanks Dave and Phil for running with me.

And what does running/walking a Turkey Trot give you? Oh yes, the golden ticket to eat all day. :) I'm sure the few rolls I ate replenished those calories and more...but who's counting on T-Day? :) I hope you had a wonderful and joyful Thanksgiving Day too!
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Pumpkin Pie (with Trader Joe's Shelf Stable Whipping Cream)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving! I still can't believe it's already Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season. Has this year been flying by? I think it's on overdrive or something.

Here is a simple Pumpkin Pie recipe. It's adapted from the Libby recipe on the can, but I used some brown sugar and extra yolk.

Friendsgiving Dinner at Dave & Phil's
I topped it with this new Trader Joe's product. It is ultra pasteurized whipping cream. You can keep it on the shelf until you need it (refrigerate for at least 6 hours before use). It contains cream and carrageenan so it's been prepared for shelf stable-ness (sure, that's a word). I whipped it by hand at Friendsgiving (with some super fine sugar and vanilla), and it takes longer to whip than regular cream. The Kitchn has this review of the $1.29 product...I'm definitely going to keep some in the fridge in case I run out of regular cream.

Pumpkin Pie
Pie Crust (for one 9" pie crust)
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1 t sugar
4 ounces/1 stick butter
3 to 4 T ice water

Using your fingers, quickly cut in butter until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Add water until dough just holds together. How much water you use can depend on the humidity in the air. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Then roll out as needed for your pie.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree (NOT the pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell

Prep: Preheat oven to 425° F oven.
1. Combine sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl.
2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs together.
3. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture into large bowl with eggs.
4. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
5. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Put pie on a cookie sheet for easy transport into oven.
6. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
7. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
8. Top with whipped cream before serving.
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Friendsgiving Feast

I saw the hashtag #friendsgiving on twitter and instagram and thought is was the perfect name for Dave and Phil's pre-Thanksgiving feast!

Dave made most of the deliciousness including turkey, beans with spicy sauce, salad with dates, fresh bread...and so much more. Everything was fantastic. Phil cuts then reassembles the turkey - a trick he learned from his father who does it with chicken. Looks awesome, right?

Catching up with Dave & Phil's neighbors, co-workers and friends made a great night. Love celebrating the life of Catherine who, literally, almost died last year due to complications from surgery, a few recent birthdays, new stamps in friend's passports, and a newly minted PhD nano-scientist heading off to an exciting post-doc in Switzerland! Thanks Dave & Phil for a great Friendsgiving. Food, friends, and no family drama. Sweet.

I brought a pumpkin pie and apple, persimmon, cranberry crisps. I'll post recipes soon!
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