food blog

Fast Foodie Cooks: Weekly Recipe: Gluten Free, Sugar Free Whole Grain Waffles

I have been focusing on the quality and timing of my diet much like I was before my Olympic Trials qualifier earlier this year and trying to ensure that my heavy training load is fueled by high quality foods that maximize my training and recovery. That said, I've hit a point in this training cycle (4 weeks until race day!) where my hunger is out of control. I work at making sure that I am eating a small meal every 2-3 hours to keep the hunger at bay, but some days I feel like I need something more substantial to tame the savage beast that is my stomach.

This morning, after a 25 mile double day (10 in the morning, 15 in the afternoon- all trail) yesterday, I could tell today was going to be one of those days. We headed out before dawn to chase down some early morning sunshine and did a fantastic loop above the fog on Mt. Tam. I can't tell you how many times we simply stopped in our tracks and soaked in the sun's rays. Midway through the run, my stomach was already grumbling and I spent the rest of the run thinking about breakfast, like I do on so many runs. I announced to Nathan that is was a waffle kind of morning, as long as we made it home in time to make them. I knew my standard bowl of gluten free oats would keep me full for -.5 seconds, so I was hankering for something heartier. We finished up the perfect 10 mile loop and jumped back into the car and made our descent back into the cold, fog.

I've been working on this recipe throughout this training cycle because it accommodates the current restrictions on my diet. I am eating very few grains these days and usually its just my morning oats. I am always gluten free, so these waffles were naturally gluten free. I also wanted them to be healthy, so I included sorghum and buckwheat (whole grain) in my mix. They also had to be sugar free. I am not doing sugar or sweeteners right now, so that was a necessity. After a few trials, I am very pleased with how these waffles came out. They are whole grain, they are sugar free, they are hearty but not heavy and definitely not unhealthy. They are perfect topped with a drizzle of almond butter or peanut butter and make a typical dreary San Francisco morning seem a whole lot brighter.

Gluten Free, Sugar Free Whole Grain Waffles
1/2 cup gluten free sorghum flour
1/2 cup gluten free buckwheat flour
1/3 cup gluten free sweet rice flour
1/3 cup gluten free tapioca flour
1/3 cup gluten free coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious sugar free vanilla coconut milk)
1 egg
1 small banana, mashed
1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract (optional)
butter to grease waffle iron
for topping: peanut butter, butter, maple syrup, fruit (optional)

Heat waffle iron.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well incorporated. In a small bowl, mix together milk, egg, banana, and almond extract. (Baker's note: for extra light and crispy waffles, whip egg whites vigorously until you get soft peaks- because there is no sugar you won't form good peaks). Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Don't over-mix.

Grease waffle iron with butter to prevent sticking. Scoop 1/4 cup of the mix in each of the waffle molds (our waffle iron makes 4 square waffles). Cook 5-6 minutes or until done. Top with butter, peanut butter, maple syrup, fruit or any of your favorite toppings!

Fast Foodie Cooks: Weekly Recipe: Farmer's Market Frittata

I haven't been posting nearly enough recipes on my blog. I am currently in the best shape of my life, culinarily speaking. I am geeking out on seasonal produce, creating amazing meals for my clients and coming in to my own as a personal chef. I think everyone can be their own chef, so I might as well help this along by providing you recipes that help fuel me up with the healthful energy I need! My goal is to post a weekly (ok regular) recipe post with some delicious goodness that is being thrown down in Casa De Ninja!

Farmer's Market Frittata
Serves 2-4 (2 as a main, 4 with something else)

8 large organic eggs
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup spring onion, baby spring onion or regular onion, chopped
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup zucchini with blossoms, zucchini sliced and blossoms separated, sliced- set aside.
2 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
optional: 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute the onion, zucchini, mushroom and butter/olive oil in a 10-inch oven proof skillet (such as a cast iron) or pan over medium heat until starting to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the squash blossoms, salt, and pepper and cheese (if using) and combine. Pour the mixture over the cooking vegetables and place the skillet in the center of the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes, until it puffs and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve hot directly from the pan with a side salad of fresh mixed greens.

Be Your Own Personal Chef: Part II

Welcome back to my second new series: Be your own personal chef. Over the past few months, we have been taking a page out of my personal chef book and sitting down on Sundays to plan out our week's menu and shopping list for Monday-Friday. We pull all the recipes we are going to use (if we use any) and make a grocery list so we only have to shop once a week. This saves a huge amount of time AND money. We have committed to doing a meatless day once a week as well. In this series, I will share with you our weekly menu plan and any (actual) recipes we use! The idea behind this series is to give you some inspiration on how to be your own personal chef and get fired up in the kitchen. Be sure to check out my other series: Nutritional Navigator for more ideas!

While I am working on my next installment of Nutritional Navigator, I decided I should post up what we have been cooking and eating this week. This weeks menu had a lot of light fresh ingredients to celebrate spring and the nice warm weather. We also have committed to doing a meatless meal once a week and this week we actually had two because our dinner guest Thursday night was a long time vegetarian. I really enjoyed how light and fresh everything was. Great flavor combinations. We used a lot of recipes for inspiration this week but added our own spin.

Our weekday menu:
Monday: Asparagus Stir-Fry with Tofu, rice 
Tuesday: Very vegetably Spring Soup with Chorizo
Wednesday:Lamb Skewers (inspired by this recipe). Sweet Potato salad with preserved lemons and green olives. Eggplant with pomegranate molasses. 
Thursday: Indian Vegetable Curry with Tamarind and Chilies (from Everyday Greens). Saffron Rice.
Friday: Roast kale, onion, sweet potato and jalapeno. Seared and roasted bone-in chicken breast.
Other items: Homemade maple almond butter with chia seeds. Whole Wheat Coconut Pineapple Muffins (adapted from my gluten free coconut pineapple muffin recipe which will be in my future cookbook) for the Baker.

As I mentioned, we got a food processor and I am obsessed with making nut butters. I have become addicted to nut butters again but I don't think that is a bad thing. This maple almond butter with chia seeds tastes like graham crackers. It is amazing.

Homemade maple almond butter with chia seeds

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss together almonds, maple syrup and chia seeds. Spread out on a sheet tray and roast for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on the nuts, don't let them burn.

In a food processor, add the nuts and turn on. Let process for 3 minutes. Then with a spatula wipe down the sides and continue processing. Continue this process until the nuts release their oils and turn into a beautiful silky smooth butter. This takes a bit of patience but no fancy tricks. Once the nuts are a smooth butter add in the salt and process for 1 more minute. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid. 

That's what we are cooking and eating. How about you? Do you do a meatless day?

Want to learn how to be your own personal chef? Check out my Culinary Coaching Services. Love the idea but don't have the time and energy? Check out my Personal Chef Services.

Be Your Own Personal Chef: Part I

Welcome to my second new series: Be your own personal chef. Over the past few months, we have been taking a page out of my personal chef book and sitting down on Sundays to plan out our week's menu and shopping list for Monday-Friday. We pull all the recipes we are going to use (if we use any) and make a grocery list so we only have to shop once a week. This saves a huge amount of time AND money. We have committed to doing a meatless day once a week as well. In this series, I will share with you our weekly menu plan and any (actual) recipes we use! The idea behind this series is to give you some inspiration on how to be your own personal chef and get fired up in the kitchen. Be sure to check out my other series: Nutritional Navigator for more ideas!

My first installment of Nutritional Navigator guided you through a typical taper week. Thankfully, that means this week is a recovery week from my big race this past Sunday. After months of hard training, an unsuccessful first attempt at qualifying for the Olympic Trials and success at last, this weeks menu reflects some well deserved celebration and not training typical meals for me (stay tuned for an upcoming blog on my great bread experiment). We wrote this menu after my race and ironically enough, I was craving pretty normal healthy foods instead of anything wild and crazy. I have had some weird cravings in my life, but after Sunday I was just craving the comfort of the familiar with a few exceptions.

Our weekday menu:
Monday: Tequila-spiked slow cooked chicken
Tuesday: Dinner out at Bar Tartine
Wednesday: Shrimp tacos. Shrimp marinated in chili powder and lime. Roasted sweet potatoes, onions and garlic with ancho powder. Fresh cabbage slaw with jalapenos. Primavera tortillas
Thursday: Vegetarian pizza. Fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, hot peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic (meatless meal).
Friday: Homemade lamb sausages. Lemon roasted potatoes. Braised chard.
Other items: Homemade chocolate hazelnut cashew butter ("nutella"). Homemade Banana "Nutella" Muffins. (Recipe below)

We just got a food processor and my absolute favorite thing to make is nut butter. I wanted an excuse to try out creative nut butter recipes and what better way than to make homemade nutella. I didn't have enough hazelnuts on hand to just do hazelnuts so I mixed it up by adding some cashews.

Homemade chocolate hazelnut cashew butter

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup melted chocolate
In a food processor, add the nuts and turn on. Let process for 3 minutes. Then with a spatula wipe down the sides and continue processing. Continue this process until the nuts release their oils and turn into a beautiful silky smooth butter. This takes a bit of patience but no fancy tricks. Once the nuts are a smooth butter add in the melted chocolate and process for 1 more minute. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

Banana Nutella Muffins
  • 2 cups GF flour mix (see below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup homemade "nutella"
  • extra banana slices for topping
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place paper liners into muffin tins (12). 
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl or standing mixer. In the food processor, combine the ripe bananas with other wet ingredients, except nutella and process into a smooth paste. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add in nutella and stir until incorporated.

Pour batter evenly into muffin cups and top with banana slices. Bake for 26-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and store in a tupperware container. Enjoy with more homemade "nutella".

GF flour mix:
  • 1 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1cup potato starch
  • 1cup buckwheat flour
  • 1cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
Combine all flours in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine. Store in the freezer.

Note: These muffins were my first attempt at the recipe. They were good as is but the recipe still needs a bit of tweaking.

That's what we are cooking and eating. How about you? What was your favorite meal you made this week?

Want to learn how to be your own personal chef? Check out my Culinary Coaching Services. Love the idea but don't have the time and energy? Check out my Personal Chef Services.

I like food

Nathan's stop photographing my food and let me eat face.
Just kidding. Lunch at Pok Pok in Portland.

I like food. I promise. I admit it, I have left out the foodie part of this blog for some time now. Today, I was trying to figure out why.  I haven't been baking any great new muffin creations, but I have been cooking up some hugely creative meals. While you may miss my muffins (note: you can buy all your favorite gluten free muffin mixes from me here), I have been focusing my eating on all sorts of amazing vegetables and creative recipes that don't really include that much grains. I am actually surprised I haven't done a better job documenting all these eats because frankly I have been impressed with myself. I think that my kitchen confidence is coming from working more and more as a personal chef. It is all in the practice and I am in my groove. So why no food blogging? Well, I think the answer is, at least partially, day light. You see when I bake things, I can take beautiful shiny wonderful shots of the food in the afternoon light or even evening light. It makes a big difference. Since I make dinner around 7pm and its winter, there is not much light to be had for good photography. Believe me when I say, those shots of beautiful looking food you see all over the internet are not done in a dark kitchen or under florescent lights or using a flash. When I go out to eat, I am getting lost in the moment and enjoying myself and my experience. I don't want to be the person that makes everyone wait to eat and have their food get cold while I get a good shot of it.

Delicious treats from Ken's Bakery in Portland.
But not for this gluten free lady!

Whatever the reason, I have not been making you drool nearly enough or sharing the foodie side of me. This is just an acknowledgement of that. Whenever you do need to drool, head over to my recipe page and have at it.

Anyways, one thing I was inspired to share (again) is my kombucha. I have been brewing kombucha for almost 6 years now and I love having my own supply on hand. I would love to just go hog wild and start making enough to sell, along with other fermented goodies; I love fermentation. Everyone seems to be on the bandwagon these days with kombucha but I've been here all along. I posted my kombucha recipe on my blog 3 years ago (here). Check it out if you want to know how to brew it. My kombucha recipe is very simple and has a great flavor profile. I don't mess with a good thing by using herbal teas or flavored teas. I think it is easiest and safest to flavor after the fact.

A beautiful healthy kombucha culture.

Enough about the things I haven't been doing, I need to get out for another run and start work on another delicious dinner.

Someone's little workshop

Tis the season 

I certainly cannot believe that the year is almost over. It has been a good one, an journey for sure, both heavy and light with lessons and experience. But this is not about the bygone year. I would much rather celebrate the present and the season. It is a fun one after all.

This season we have been doing a making a bunch of DIY goodies that I am excited to share with friends and family. From Christmas cards to homemade chocolates, it is so satisfying to create something and share the success and goodies with others. There is something really empowering about creating things for yourself.

That feeling is something I have decided to harness for myself and my career. This fall, I have struggled with figuring out what direction I want to go with my career after my job ended in August. Over the past month (with all the luxurious time that comes from lower mileage, 80-90 miles a week ha!), I have been working on defining and creating for myself that direction. I decided somewhere along the way that I don't want to simply take a job I don't believe in to pass the time and pay the bills. I know myself, I burn out on that too quickly. I realized that I have lived my life afraid of truly going after what I want and creating my reality (especially when it comes to career). I mean, I went to culinary school but didn't take up cheffing. I immerse myself in food and nutrition, yet sit on the sidelines, afraid to true and carve out my piece of the pie. But I realize now, I want to pursue food as not just my passion, but as my career.

And let me tell you, I have been busy in my little workshop! I have been building up my personal chef client base and am actively pursuing new clients in the bay area. I have rebuilt and relaunched my personal chef/cooking website Fast Foodie. I am having my friend (and amazing designer Rick Gaston) design a new logo for me (sneak peek in the picture below!). I have launched a line of gluten free muffin and cookie mixes  that I am looking forward to developing into a line of muffins, granolas and bars!

I know where I want to go (cafe/bakery of our own!) and I would like to develop myself and my skills as the journey takes me forward to that eventuality. It is not an easy thing to undertake, nor is it all passion and inspiration, but it feels right. Many say, "but what about your running?" and I say, "what about my life?". Running is a huge part of my life, but it something I am not willing to defer every other aspect of my life for. I have done that and nearly imploded in the process. I find it surprisingly easy to balance and furthermore, I like the challenge. Food is a huge passion of mine and I feel as driven to create with this medium as I feel driven to run. It makes me excited. 

The most wonderful time of the year

I posted recently on my running blog about realizing I need to eat more meat. That post was about a month ago and the truth of the matter is, I probably haven't been that much better about eating meat more. Maybe 1x per week more. That still means I am eating meat/fish only 3 days a week. Not so good. Even in France I was limited to little meat because often times the main offerings had gluten in them. I probably managed to eat meat 4 times while I was there, which by all accounts is comparatively pretty fantastic.

The problem is not that I don't like meat. I do. Just like the problem is not that I don't like cookies (gluten free of course). If you put them in front of me, I will eat it and probably a fair amount. Thus, meat or even cookies for that matter (speaking of which I have managed to eat 4 small teff peanut butter cookies today already, someone stop me!) don't tend to stay around very long. On top of that, my grocery of choice Rainbow grocery, does not sell meat. Thus, I usually don't want to make a second trip to another store to get meat. I shop at Rainbow because I am primarily a fruit and vegetable eater and Rainbow provides the most local organic produce you can find outside of a farmer's market. I love fruits and vegetables more than cookies and meat combine. But I also know I need to eat more meat. Thank goodness for St. Patty's Day.

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I was making Gluten Free Irish Soda bread (and cookies magically got made as well) to compliment a slow-cooked corned beef brisket. I love corned beef brisket. My favorite time of year is around St. Patty's day because corned beef brisket is readily available, it is one of my more favorite cuts of meat. Plus, it is an excellent excuse to make my mom's horseradish sauce (1 part fresh prepared horseradish, 1 part dijon mustard, 2 parts sour cream).

The soda bread was a hit with my diners, sucked down as both appetizer and dessert (with a little left for breakfast). The brisket was outstanding though. Starting at 4pm, I turned the oven on to 300 degrees to preheat. Meanwhile, I put my large Dutch oven on the burner and put the brisket in with it's brine and spices. I added 2 fresh bay leaves. Then I covered it with enough water to have about 2 inches of water above it. I brought it to a boil, skimmed the gunk off the top and put the lid on, then straight into the oven. I let it cook for 3 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, I did other things, got stuff done, wasted two hours, then went back into the kitchen to put together the mustard-roasted potatoes. I used the mix of ingredients from this recipe, but problem was, I was already using the oven and it was at 300 degrees not 400. Thus, I decided I would slow roast the potatoes on the very bottom rack and when I took out the corned beef, kick up the temperature to 425 to get some crisp on them.

The potatoes roasted for an hour and when the corned beef was tender, I pulled the Dutch oven out, put it back on the burner, removed the meat and covered it tightly with foil. Then I cranked up the heat on the stove and threw into the cooking liquid a half head of green cabbage cut into wedges. Cooked that for another 15-20 minutes while the potatoes, now at 425 and on the middle rack of the oven, crisped. Wham bam, done delicious.

It was all really good. To serve I put the cabbage on a serving plate with the meat sliced on top. I had people spoon cooking liquid from the meat over the top of their food for additional kick. While I tend to think that the horseradish sauce is what brings me to the table, everything was incredibly flavored, dang near perfectly cooked and awesome.

(P.S. sorry the pictures aren't as awesome as I would like, no natural lighting by dinnertime, even with daylight savings time!)

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffins

Calling my name, GF Banana Ginger Muffins

There are many times in life since going gluten free that I will pass by a bakery window and gaze in upon stacks of beautiful fresh baked muffins and wish that I could have one too. As I have mentioned, I don't crave sweet that much but I do love an occasional muffin. Last year, when I was able to "take a break" from my no-gluten diet (doctor's recommendation for testing) I stumbled upon my all time favorite muffins at Macrina Bakery in Seattle. Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins. I went home after that, totally obsessed and created a version of my own and posted the recipe. But those were made with whole wheat and spelt and soon I had to reliquish their hold over my tastebuds and go gluten free again (thanks for the painful vacation doc!).

I will wait for these to cool, I will wait for these to cool.

After that, I baked muffins occasionally, picked up muffins at Flying Apron when I was in Seattle, and generally went without. And then, the other day I remembered these muffins. I think it was because I was planning a big group run around Discovery Park in Seattle for my visit home this weekend. Last year a bunch of speedsters got together and ran some loops and then went to Macrina. Oh those muffins. I instantly knew that it was up to me to create a gluten free version that would be as crave worthy as the Macrina ones.

I did it. Yes, me and my little creative brain did it.

I took my own original recipe and then worked through some possible flour combinations/ratios. With muffins, especially gluten free ones, texture is huge. And picking the right flour combination makes a huge difference. I settled on brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour in a 2:1 ratio. Flying by the seat of my pants as it were, I also kicked up the ginger content two fold as I recalled that my previous batch a year ago was not as gingery as I liked.

I baked. I waited. I let them cool so completely that by the time I went to eat them I was bonking from lack of food. I think there was a bit of trepidation in there too. I was afraid to try them. The looked like a winner, but would the taste be triumphant? Would the texture leave me once again annoyed that gluten free will never translate the same? Would they dissolve into a wet, fallen mess overnight (like a lot of GF baked goods do)? Would they be hockey pucks?

In a word: No. I was awe struck by these muffins. Look at that texture! If I didn't tell you it was gluten free, you would not know. The taste, oh my! Smooth banana flavor with a perfect and very present ginger flavor. They played nicely together, letting each other have a share of the glory and spotlight. Neither dominated, they comingled, they made music together and my taste buds were singing! My favorite part was that the banana and ginger were present but the muffin was still predominately savory, not overly sweet- just enough. Again a very fine balance, I think.

I was so excited I couldn't wait to share them with the Baker.

He made me wait though. I fed him way too much bibimbap and homemade coconut milk ice cream for dinner. I waited patiently for my second opinion. I finally got it post early morning run with our regular crew in the Headlands. I open the container (which I left on the counter), prepared myself for some caved in or other gluten free horror to unfold but they were still perfect, together, moist.  The Baker took one out and  took a bite, I prepared myself for a polite, "they're good" and to go back to the drawing board.

"Wow" He said. "These are good. These are really really good. Where did you get the recipe?" Happy dance in my head, something along the lines of a end zone dance, complete with strutting and waving of arms!

"From my head" I answered. "Completely original recipe". I liked being able to say that. I feel it is important to my perspective to keep perspective on the whether things are "good for a gluten free item" (because we all know there are plenty of really bad options out there) or "universally good", meaning gluten free/egg free or not these are damn good. I am glad my second opinion heralded them as the second. I made my muffins in small muffin tins so we shared a second muffin, though I am sure we easily could have each had two and not be making a bad dietary choice (since in addition to all the other awesome things about this recipe, there is only 1/4 cup of butter and that is the only fat). These are not "you can eat those because you run 100 miles" muffins, these are part of a healthy and delicious lifestyle muffins. I don't think it is a bad thing when you can have your decadent cake and have it be nutritious too. It is just an added benefit to these muffins that you don't even have to think about it.

They are good. Damn good. I will be making them again and again and again. I have a feeling that down the line, someone will be looking at one of these babies through the window of my own bakery.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffin

5 small very ripe bananas (if not super ripe, add 1/4 cup almond milk)
¼ cup butter , room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ⅓ cup brown rice flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
⅔ cup garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tsp. ginger zest, divided
4 tsp. crystallized ginger, minced, divided
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch fresh nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 and line with parchment cups/grease 2 muffin pans (12 muffins). In a food processor, mix together the bananas and butter. Mix in the two types of brown sugar and blend together. Add in vanilla, 2 tsp of minced crystallized ginger, 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger (zest).

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the remaining ginger until incorporated. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of muffin mix into the muffin pans, making 9-12 muffins. Sprinkle the muffins with dark brown sugar and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and the tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes

Not reinventing the wheel

Beef Bourguignon, the perfect way to end a weekend

This weekend was an absolutely wonderful and blissful weekend. In food, running, life.  It was Valentine's Day Weekend which has never meant a thing to me one way or another. Like most holidays, I don't get swept up in the commercialism and hype. I do my own thing. This weekend was no different, but it is the first time in the history of my life that I have ever received flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day, and I have to admit it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy. And then I tasted the chocolates from Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building as my last bites for the weekend I am about to describe, which pretty much cemented it as one kick ass weekend.

Beautiful flowers from the Ferry Building Saturday Market

The weekend started with a fabulous Friday night of food. I decided to indulge in a non-gluten free friendly meal and it was decidedly worth the risk. In fact, other than a bit of asthma symptoms on Saturday, I was pretty non-reactive to it. We went to Little Star in the Mission and had a deep dish Classic, which has sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper. I had been seriously craving pizza for a long long time (I haven't had a slice since November at Delfina) and this definitely satisfied that craving.

This weekend seemed like it was created straight out of my imagination, it contained all of the things that combine to make me insanely happy and content. Saturday kicked off by getting up early and, for the first time in a while, instead of going on a long run, we headed down to the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to pick up ingredients for our planned Sunday dinner as well as our other weekend meals. I wish I had had my camera. We met Brett and Larissa down there, sipped on some Blue Bottle and wandered around gathering more and more ingredients, as well as snacks with each lap around the market.

Our dinner plan for Valentine's Day was simple. After watching Julie and Julia last week, we couldn't help but think about Julia Child's beef bourguignon and since I had never ever had beef bourguignon, it was an easy pick for a Sunday at home on a special occasion. We grabbed our beef from Prather Ranch Meat Company as well as a half chicken for Saturday. We picked up Batch 21 Cheese and Crescenza cheese from Cow Girl Creamery. We shared a box of potatoes from Roli Roti. I drank an outstanding smoothie from one of the purveyors, we snacked on dates and filled our bags with greens, tiny potatoes, beautiful King Oyster mushrooms, spring garlic, beautiful sprouts and pickled veggies from Happy Girl Kitchen. It was a blast. By 10am though, the market gets crazy busy and we were ready to go. Brett and Larissa headed off to Tomales Bay for the weekend and we headed back to my house with all the goodies. We changed, went for a nice long run on the Miwok 100k course from near Rock Springs to the turn around point of the course at the bottom of Randall trail and back. 24 miles worked up our appetites, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods post run for a few ingredients and ice and we headed back to dive head first into our farmer's market goodies.

First there was salad to temporary satisfy the ravenous beasts we were quickly becoming. I tossed a beautiful mix of Greens with Sprouts and topped with avocado, sauerkraut and mild pickled peppers from Happy Girl. The huge ramen bowls were empty in less than five minutes. We put our half chicken into the oven and cooked it "brick chicken" style, using my cast iron grill press. While it cooked, ice baths were taken, beer/cider was opened, veggies were chopped. When the chicken was done, we made fajitas with handmade tortillas from Primavera (also from the farmer's market), bell pepper, jalepenos, onion. We kept the seasoning light and the flavors clean, a bit of avocado, crescenza and lime were all that was needed. Absolutely delicious. The evening was finished off with Coconut Bliss and some gluten free graham crackers which I made on Friday.

We had decided that we wanted to be done running and heading home by 11:30am. We also had planned to run really really hard for a long way, so that meant we didn't have to get up too early. In fact, we each managed to run 19 miles in just around 2:40 and that is on the climby-est part of the Miwok course. Very nice. We were back at the car and heading back into the City by 10:45, which was a vast difference than Saturday when we hadn't even left for our run yet! Lunch was a redux of the previous days salad. And I am thinking that I may be making it for myself every day as long as the ingredients are still available to me. My favorite part was the crunch from the "Market mix", which is a blend of sprouted beans. Wow good.

The beef bourguignon takes a while, so got to work on it pretty quickly. While easy, tasty meals are awesome, there is something really fun and validating about working on small little details and ingredients and spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Sunday afternoons in the kitchen are one of my more favorite thing. It's fun just to create and then be able to eat the reward at the end.

I have not done much cooking out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and unlike most recipes, this one we really tried to follow. There would be no reinventing of the wheel on this one, there is a reason that Julia Child's compendium is in 40-somethingth edition and could become a best seller, again, 49 years after its release. I really liked working through each step, each little detail to create the final product. From individually cooking the bacon, browning the meal, cooking the vegetables before cooking them all together for 3 hours with lots of wine to sauteing the mushrooms in butter (don't crowd the mushrooms!), it was a blast. It reminds me how complex it can be to make amazing simple food. And it was amazing. The beef bourguignon had so much depth of flavor, you felt like you were watching a perfectly executed symphony, but instead of listening, you were trying your best not to submerge your whole face in the still hot dutch oven. We paired the rich stew with a very simple playmate: boiled potatoes. And they played well together. Meat and potatoes to something like an exponent of 10. Meat and potatoes at their best. It was damn good and when followed by the chocolates mentioned above, pretty much capped off the kind of weekend you remember for a long time and enjoyed completely from end to end.