Pearl Onion Peel Tutorial

How pathetic is this?


That’s my daughter trying to make a “cry-face” and that’s my foot in a brace elevated on pillows.  I fell yesterday while working in the yard and sprained my ankle.  I simply stepped off the walkway the wrong way and twisted it, then crumbled to the ground and cried like a little girl.  The sound that came from my foot was so alarming and the pain was so excruciating that I was convinced I had broken it.  I screamed quite dramatically for about 5 minutes trying to get my husbands attention so he would come and rescue me.  Alas, my damsel in distress act did not work and I had to hobble around the back of the house to get his attention.  He came running and carried me into the house and I’ve been on the couch ever since.  It hurts.  A lot.  I’ll start drinking again very soon.  I’ve been instructed by my husband who thinks he’s a doctor to stay off of it for 24 hours and keep it elevated.  This is proving to be more difficult than I imagined.  I am entirely too busy to be laying on the couch all day and drinking.  Well, not really, but I have to keep up the act.  So, I’ve taken the opportunity to create a new blog for Jen (Hates) Loves House as well as spend a little time improving JLF (yup, I just used an acronym for my blog).   I felt my adventures in restoring an old home deserved its own space.  I hope you will take a look and subscribe!

Today on JLF (did it again!) I am giving a quick to tutorial on how to prep pearl onions for all you novice cooks out there.  I don’t claim to be anything but a novice cook and I am always googling cooking techniques and recipes.  I hope this helps some folks out there.  I’m working on a new recipe post for a slow cooker dish in which I used pearl onions, but thought it might be a good idea to give this tutorial first.

Pearl onions are cute little things that are great to use in things like chicken pot pie and slow cooker beef stews, but they can be a real pain in the ass to prepare if you don’t know how.  I’ll admit, I have tried peeling them raw like a regular onion before using them in a dish.  I can be really stupid sometimes.  And then one day I wised up and googled it and my life in the kitchen has been easier ever since.  All you have to do is blanch them, cut off the woody ends, and squeeze those little suckers out.  Viola!  Okay, it’s still kind of a pain in the ass.

Here we go…..


*To blanch something is to cook or boil a food for a short period of time, then submerge in ice to stop the cooking process*

Step 1:  Immerse onions in boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.


Step 2:  Drain onions in colander and then submerge them in a bowl of ice water.


Step 3:  Cut off the woody end of the onions.


Step 4: Squeeze from the tip of the opposite end.


That little guy will pop right on out!



Back East with Tacos

I gotta hand it to all you mom bloggers out there.  Where the hell do you find the time to blog?  I’ll admit it, I’m lazy, by the time everything is said and done for the day, it’s 9:00pm and I’m exhausted and want nothing more than to sit my ass on the couch and watch mindless television.

Anyway, here I am again, making an effort to keep up with the blogosphere and post more than once a year.  WE HAVE MOVED.  AGAIN.  Whew……… I’m tired.  This was no regular move.  When Tony and I relocate, we RELOCATE.  We have come back to the East Coast y’all!  We left Los Gatos, CA on January 5 and now reside in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Let’s hear it for New York!  I have to say, I was sad to leave Los Gatos.  It is the only place in California I would ever consider living again.  And the year round Farmers Market was awesome, with a street taco stand that I lived for.  I miss street tacos already.  Therefore I’ve decided to share a glorious recipe I found on Pinterest……. We knew that coming back East was what we wanted to do, so my husband accepted a new position within his company in Malta, NY.  It’s so much closer to my beloved Virginia and I don’t feel like I live in a foreign country when it comes time to visit.  We are insanely happy to be here.  It is cold and it snows just about every damn day, but I flipping love it.  This photo of my front yard was taken the day before the first day of spring.  We got about 8 inches.  That’s normal for March.  Normal.


We bought an older home on 4 acres in the country, just outside of town.  This old house is crazy and needs a ton of work, which has inspired a new category to Jen Loves Food.  Jen (Hates) Loves House.  Here I will document the never-ending list of projects to be done in order to make this place what I want.  If you are looking for a home design blog with lots of fancy and trendy decor ideas and tips, look away.  I am an amateur and I am on a budget.  However, I have a very handy husband who can do most of the work that needs to be done and I’d like to think I have pretty good taste. So check it out if you have the mind to.  Moving on…..

And now on to some food.  Here is a recipe I found on Pinterest and I think everyone should know about it.  Slow cooker beef tacos.  I’m obsessed with tacos y’all and these are delicioso!  The beef is so tender and juicy and shreds easily with a fork and the flavor is subtle but wonderful, not at all like a taco seasoning packet.   And the best part is that this recipe is honestly the easiest slow cooker dish you will ever make.  It takes less than 5 minutes to put it in the slow cooker.  It takes longer to prepare the accompaniments at the end of the day.  See my suggested list of accompaniments below the ingredients, however, dress your tacos as you deem appropriate.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos from Cooking Classy


  • 1 (2.5 lb) chuck roast
  • 1 (14 oz) can beef broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime

Serve with

  • Corn tortillas
  • Flour tortillas
  • Diced white onion
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Black beans
  • Rice
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Cotija cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce
  • Freshly squeezed lime


  • In a small bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place roast in a slow cooker, pour beef broth over roast then squeeze with fresh lime juice. Sprinkle roast with spice mixture. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat 8-10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker, shred beef (remove fat) and return shredded beef to slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook additional 30 minutes. Remove beef from slow cooker with tongs to remove juices when plating or drain in a colander. Serve with desired toppings.


When using corn tortillas for tacos, remember to steam them first, otherwise they’ll break apart and not taste as good.  I wrap a stack in a few damp paper towels and microwave for about 2 minutes.  You can also fry corn tortillas in vegetable oil to make them into hard shells.  My husband is an expert at this.  Me, not so much.  I dress my tacos very simply.  I usually only put the beef, cilantro, onion and hot sauce or salsa  on mine and sometimes a little cotija.  That’s how the “street” tacos are usually served.  It tastes extremely fresh and authentic.  I save all the other stuff like avocados and sour cream for the burritos.  We use large flour tortillas to make burritos.  If you can’t find cotija cheese, as I can’t find it up here, you can substitute with feta.  Cotija is just a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese, very similar to feta.  Let’s hear it for tacos!


Best-Ever Marinara and the Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project

Clay and Zach over at The Bitten Word put their readers to work this month by asking for help in making every single recipe in 6 food magazines for their Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project.  These guys are ambitious!  Those of us who volunteered were given an assignment.  My assignment?  Best-Ever Marinara from October’s issue of Food & Wine.  This made me laugh, one of my first posts was about an unbelievably beautiful and long simmering marinara recipe, a marinara that is still highly coveted by my husband.  So here I am again, making another marinara recipe and blogging about it.  Anything for The Bitten Word.  I’m not worthy!

Fortunately for me, this marinara took only a fraction of the time to make than Tony Ciccone’s simmering 4 hour masterpiece.  And that’s the great thing about this recipe.  It is incredibly easy!  Just look at the ingredients!  You probably have most of it in your pantry already.  I sure did!

The end result?  Pretty darn delicious.  Although canned tomatoes are used, this sauce tastes fresh and flavorful and would pair nicely with a number of pasta dishes, especially pasta stuffed with cheese.  Yummmmmm…….  I wish I had taken the time to make stuffed shells or even Tony Ciccone’s meatballs with fresh fettucine.  But alas, I was short on time, so I used a spinach and cheese ravioli I found in the deli section at the grocery store.  Still quite tasty.  Since it’s such an easy recipe with few ingredients, this marinara is perfect for a weeknight pasta dish.  I simply froze the leftover sauce.

Best-Ever Marinara from the October 2012 Issue of Food & Wine


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 peeled and halved garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 35-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes (I couldn’t find a 35-ounce can. I used 1 28-0unce can and half of a 14.5-ounce can)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 basil sprigs


In a large saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and crush them with the back of a spoon; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the sugar and basil sprigs and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic.

Best-Ever Marinara with Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

I can’t wait to see this picture on The Bitten Word, y’all!

Harley Goat Farms

This past weekend, my husband and I took the girls to Harley Goat Farm in the cute coastal town of Pescadero, CA to pet some goats and buy some cheese!  Doesn’t that sound like the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon?  Well, it was.  The drive there alone was worth it.  Here’s a shot off of highway 1.  Holy crap, that’s beautiful.

Harley Goat Farms gives daily tours, but they’re 2 hours long and $20 per adult.  Our girls would never sit through a 2 hour tour and $20 per ticket is a little much for us.  We didn’t feel like we missed out on a thing.  We pet a few goats and bought a variety of goat cheese and called it a day.  This place is totally adorable.  And so is my family.

From the goat’s milk, Harley Farms makes Chevre, Fromage Blanc, Ricotta and Feta cheese.  Y’all, they have a TON of it.  O.M.G.  And most importantly, they have a sample of every one.  Most of my cheese pics are a bit fuzzy so I’ve shared the ones that turned out ok.  It’s a little dark in the cheese room!

Chive Chevre

Apricot Pistachio Chevre

Cranberry Walnut Chevre

They also sell a variety of lotions, soaps, and lip balms, all of which are pretty pricey.  We just stuck to the cheese.  Most 8 oz tubs sold for about $8.  The small buttons of chevre went for $4.  The pumpkin goat cheese had me sold before I even tasted it.  How can you NOT buy pumpkin goat cheese?  It’s sweet, tangy, fall flavored heaven.  We also bought a button of the cranberry walnut and the sundried tomato chevre. Delicious.

Harley Farms also hosts seasonal, 5 course, farm to table dinners.  They are very expensive, around $125 a plate, but I have a feeling it’s worth every penny.  I was unable to pull up their menu for the upcoming Autumn Dinner since both seatings are full, but here’s a video from CBS’s Eye on the Bay about Harley Farms and their seasonal dinners.  It’s a bit cheesy (geez…. no pun intended!), but you get the drift.

Say Cheese y’all!

San Francisco Revisited

Hey y’all!  It’s been forever, I KNOW!  Before I get to my weekend trip to San Francisco back in 2011 (omg), let me try to explain my awful, long neglect for my blog.  First of all, I had another baby.  And while I was pregnant with that other baby, I was completely miserable.  So after a month of not writing, came another month and yet another, until the baby came, from which I was then sleep deprived and completely insane with a newborn and a toddler.  Writing a blog was very low on my priority list.  When the baby began to sleep longer and I became less crazy, I began to think about writing again.  But that’s all I did.  I thought about it.  Then came the holidays.  We all know how busy the holidays are.  After the new year and our awesome trip to Sandbridge, VA,  I thought about writing again, but I couldn’t do it.  Probably because it had been so long.  Then we moved.  Moving SUCKS.  But, I’m sure you already know that.  So, finally after 4 months of living in the Santa Cruz Mountains and actually finding some peace and solace in the state of California, an email inspired to get back to my blog.  A small website called Dwellable read my post about the Outer Banks and wanted to add me to their blog roll.  Not a big deal by any means, but it made me feel good and gave me the push I needed to get back to my outlet.  Before I started something new, I went through the numerous drafts I had saved from last year. I read the one about my trip to San Francisco with my bff and I thought it was really special.  I had almost finished it, therefore I think the restaurant reviews should still be relevant.  However, I didn’t get to E Tutto Qua, which is probably for the best.  It didn’t really leave a lasting impression and the pictures I took were terribly blurry.  It was  good, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to go back.  I began this post with a long, angry paragraph about my difficult pregnancy.  I laughed at the first few sentences, but I’ve decided to go ahead and publish it anyway and maybe, just maybe, I’ll bring some light to someone who has suffered with the same problem.  I had forgotten about the pain and frustration I had felt.  So here it is, from April of 2011, the ravings of a pregnant lady who loves food more than life, complete with curse words and all………….

April 2011:  If you’re irritated by pregnant women complaining, then skip this paragraph, I will not be offended.   If you’re curious, or can simply relate, read on……….  This second pregnancy has been challenging, to say the least.  I never reached my second trimester “burst of energy” or relief from nausea and encountered another problem very early on.  It’s called  Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction.   In a nutshell, this “dysfunction” causes the ligament that holds your pelvis bone together to loosen and sometimes completely detach from the bone itself, meaning your pelvis is out of alignment.  It causes pain in the hips, lower back, legs and pubic region.   Hormones are probably the main culprit of this problem, but the midwife that diagnosed me seems to think that the birth of my first child, who was a whopping 9 pounds, may also have had something to do with it.  It will heal after giving birth, however, breastfeeding prolongs the healing process due to the continued production of these hormones.   Now, here’s what really grinds my gears….I started having symptoms of SPD in my fourth month of pregnancy, in fact, while I was gallivanting around San Francisco.  When it worsened, I told my doctor and she blew me off, saying this was just another “ache and pain” of pregnancy.  So, I took matters into my own hands and diagnosed myself by doing research on the internet.   Upon figuring out what was causing the pain, that got worse with every passing week, I read somewhere that most obstetricians do not recognize the condition, literally calling it an “ache and pain of pregnancy”, but that most midwives do acknowledge the problem and will prescribe ways of managing it.  I was SO pissed when I read this, because #1) the obvious reason, my doctor blew me off with this “ache and pain” bullshit and #2) during my first pregnancy, my caregiver was a midwife and she was AWESOME and I knew she would have taken care of me properly.  As if I needed another reason to be bitter about moving to California.  For my next visit to the doctor, I was rehearsing what I was going to say to make her listen.  I wasn’t going to tell her what I thought it was, I wanted her to figure it out, because hello, she’s a fucking doctor.  I know I shouldn’t have played this silly game, but I did, out of sheer spite.  AGAIN, she blew me off, this time literally cutting me off mid sentence to say that it was an “ache and pain” and would get worse with subsequent pregnancies.  I said “Ok, well, it’s preventing me from exercising.  Is lack of exercise making it worse or should I try to exercise?  I was a runner before I got pregnant.”  She actually said this, I can’t freaking believe it, she actually said “Maybe.”   Maybe what?  Maybe I should exercise?  Maybe I shouldn’t exercise?  I was in tears when I left and I still don’t understand why I wasn’t more aggressive with her.  It’s probably because I was raised by a nurse who taught me that “your doctor knows best”…….For my next appointment, I scheduled with a midwife (the only redeeming experience with Kaiser thus far). By this point, the pain was so bad, it would stop me mid step.  The pain was mostly in my lower back, inner thigh and pelvis area, and predominately on my right side.  One night, it became so terrible, that my husband had to walk behind me as I went up the stairs, supporting my lower back as I walked, asking if he should carry me.  Then, he had to pull my legs in and out of the bed because using the muscles to do it myself was excruciating.  He was so mad at the whole situation and kept telling me what I needed to say to make them understand. The appointment with the midwife finally came and as soon as I began to explain to her the pain I was experiencing, she said “Oh, I think you have SPD, in fact, I think the ligament has completely detached from the bone.  You will need to see a physical therapist right away and buy yourself a support band…today.”  I started to cry, I’m sure you can guess why.  I bought a support band that day and the difference I felt was almost immediate.  Then, I saw the physical therapist, who did some awesome leg pulling and hip adjusting on my right side (among other PT stuff), making me feel better instantly AND gave me more insight into my pain.  I mentioned that I broke my pinky toe on my right side about 6 weeks before (yup, that was a real sundae topper!) and she laughed and said “Well, that certainly didn’t do you any favors, considering you couldn’t put any weight on it for a while.”  Eureka!!!!!  No wonder it hurt so bad on my right side.  I was given a few exercises as well as a long list of things not to do while suffering from this condition.  I have to get in and out of the car and bed a certain way, I have to take smaller steps, I cannot move things on the floor with my feet, cross my legs, or sit in a position where my hips are lower than my knees.  Basically, my knees should be at hips width apart and straight in front of me at all times. After taking these measures for only 2 days, I felt better!  Finally, although, the pain has not gone away completely and I don’t expect it to.  I’m just so glad someone knew what the hell they were talking about and was able to help.  Oh, and exercising?  Walking and running is out of the question, however, swimming is a good alternative.  I hope to never see that doctor again and when this experience is all over, I’ll be finding a place to write a terrible review about her.

Moving on………After the slightly disappointing crab cake dinner back in January, I took Sarah to the city for some sight-seeing and good eatin’!  We took the long way to the city so we could stop at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and drive across the great bridge itself.  Here’s a pic.   It was a beautiful day!

Once we got into town, we checked into our hotel in Union Square, threw our bags down and headed out for a little shopping before dinner.   Once we got our shopping fix, is was time to get ready for dinner at First Crush.  We decided to walk, since it was only a block from the hotel.  At this time in my pregnancy, I was still able to look relatively hot and strap on my heels, holding my skinny jeans up with a rubber band.   I’ll quickly go through what we had and why I would definitely go back to this place, sorry, no pics! Forgot my camera!  First of all, the restaurant is small and intimate and a little loud, which I love, although I definitely did not appreciate our smug neighbor who was so impressed with himself being a journalist and used the f* bomb in every other sentence.  Not that I don’t cuss like a sailor, it’s just so tacky to be so loud about it in public.  Have some damn class!  Anywho……  Our server was lovely and extremely helpful.   First Crush is a wine bar with a very impressive (and very expensive) wine list, so we ordered a delicious half bottle (I can have just a bit, you see) of the Steele Pinot Nior………a whopping $27, the least expensive of the half bottles.  Ouch.   We decided to start with the cheese plate and a few “First Courses” and if we were still hungry, we’d venture on to the main courses.  The cheese plate was the mother effing cat’s pajamas people.  4 Cheeses: Marin French Cheese Co. Triple Creme, Redwood Hills Farm Goats’ Milk Cheddar, Bellwether Farms San Andreas Goats Milk Cheese, and Shaft  Blue.  4 accompaniments:  Port Pear, Fig Cake, Honeycomb,and Grilled Toast Points. I am probably not supposed to have half of what was on that plate, with all the cheese restrictions that are put on the pregnant, but I lapped it up with cheese lover enthusiasm.  My FAVORITE part was the honeycomb.  I paired it with every cheese and it was delicious.  Sarah’s favorite was the fig cake, also delicious.  After taking our sweet time enjoying cheese and wine, it was time to move on.  Sarah ordered a Truffle Mushroom Ravioli, no longer on the menu, which is too bad as it was amazing.  Very truffley!  I ordered a spinach salad with walnuts and gorgonzola (I think)……… Then we decided that we really wanted to enjoy dessert, instead of stuffing ourselves with an entrée.  So, I ordered the chocolate souffle with raspberries and Sarah ordered a dessert that I can’t remember, except that it had peanut butter in it and I don’t do peanut butter in my deserts.  We took these deserts to go and enjoyed them in the comfort of our hotel room (and pajamas) while watching a guy very unwillingly be arrested on the street below.  To sit cross-legged on the desk, peering down onto Mason Street watching a young man lie face down on the street in cuffs and scream “See where your tax dollars are going! SEE! This is bullshit! I didn’t do anything!” while savoring the rich chocolate was superb……….I could not have asked for better.  Thank you San Francisco.  Our first night was a success.

The next morning we woke up and decided to order room service.  I wish I could have taken that back and gone here.  Our breakfast was terrible.  Then, we grabbed some Starbucks and headed towards the trolleys.  Sarah and I were both Trolley virgins.  I thought my belly would conjure a little sympathy, but I was wrong, the trolley operators yelled at me anyway for not getting on the trolley quick enough, or facing the right way.  Sarah and I are from Richmond, Virginia y’all, we don’t have that big city stuff out there, ya hear?  We just don’t know how to act.  There I was, hanging onto a trolley pole, going UP Powell Street, trying not to touch my neighbor with any part of my body.  Finally, someone got off and Sarah and I were able to sit next to each other on a seat and the operators ended up being totally hilarious and cracking us up the whole way to Fisherman’s Wharf.   We spent a little time at Hyde Street Pier, walked into a tourist shop and purchased some magnets and I was ready for lunch.  Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist trap, but a necessity if you’ve never been to the city I suppose.  If you know me, you know how I feel about eating in a place like Fisherman’s Wharf.  In case you forgot, read my post about Monterey.  BUT, Sarah is waaaaaaay more laid back than I and being pregnant and starving, there simply was no time to do my research and find a place that met my standards, so we basically picked the first spot we saw as we started to walk down the Wharf.  Pompeii’s Grotto it was.

I was more willing this time to give a place like this a chance.  Sarah ordered a cocktail.  I was jealous.

I heart cosmos. I went with a daily lunch special, spaghetti with fresh salmon, tomatoes and basil.  It was really good!!!!  Very fresh, although it could have used more flavor.  I was expecting larger basil leaves and tomatoes, however, it really was delish.  I was very happy with my choice.

Sarah had the tuna sandwich and I don’t think she was as thrilled as I was with her own lunch.  I said “Friend?  How’s your sandwich?”  She simply replied “It’s ok, I mean, it’s good.”  Sorry friend 😦

After lunch, we continued down the Wharf.  I supposed I should have taken Sarah to get clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl somewhere or dungenous crab from a street vendor.   BOO dungenous, BOO!

We stumbled upon the Musee Mecanique, a privately owned collection of antique arcade machines.  It’s completely weird.

Hooray for San Francisco!  Since this trip in January 2011, my bff and I have been back to the city and enjoyed another fabulous restaurant.  More on that soon!


Everyone is thinking and talking about Japan and I am no exception.  I can’t even wrap my brain around the nuclear plant and the radiation exposure.  Simply put, my heart literally aches for the people of Japan.  Here’s a link with a list of relief agencies and ways to help………Waking up in the middle of the night to a tsunami warning, when it was still a warning, was terrifying, to say the least.  Even though Livermore is a good 45 miles from the coast and up in the hills, my husband and I were still concerned about the aftermath effects (lack of power, water, goods, etc…)  He got out of bed at 1:00am to put gas in the car and head to the grocery store for a few goods.  Becoming parents have turned us into paranoid freaks.  Hailing from the East, I was always terrified of earthquakes and vowed I’d never move to California because of it.  Give me a hurricane any day over an earthquake.  I’ve been through a few storms, even been to some hurricane parties (holla!).   It’s all what you’re used to, I suppose.  My husband (born and raised in Northern California) grew up with the threat of earthquakes, doing earthquake drills in school and actually feeling the quake that hit San Francisco in ’89.  That was only a 6.9, by the way.

I’ve never been a preparer, until I had my daughter.  Preparing for an earthquake was totally foreign to me,   but you prepare for those like any type of disaster really, keeping water, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, etc… A few months ago, my husband and I started an emergency cabinet in the garage by purchasing these kinds of items a little at a time on our trips to Costco and the grocery store.  We also have other items like heavy blankets and our camping gear in case we ever had to run.  Seriously!  We call it “the Zombies are Coming” cabinet.  With small children, the Zombie cabinet also has things like diapers and powdered milk (and will soon include formula).  Click here for a list of items for your very own Zombie Cabinet.  But I never thought about keeping an emergency kit in my car.  Isn’t that stupid?  It truly never occurred to me to keep my car stocked with emergency items.  The link I provided is specifically for an earthquake emergency car kit, however, I think it can and should be used anywhere for any disaster.  I started my kit last week with a quilt, baby wipes, tampons (yup ladies, you may need ’em and don’t forget to add them to your Zombie kit), a large jug of drinking water and an old change of clothes I dug out of the Goodwill pile (remember this next time you go to give an old pair of jeans/sweats away!).  I don’t have everything yet, but I plan on purchasing food, like those Nature’s Own bars, a flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, and formula.  Even though I plan on breastfeeding with baby girl (due in June), it’s good to have back up.  What if I can’t produce?!  How do I save my babies?!  I have to be able to save my babies.

Whether you live with the threat of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards or zombies, the links I provided give a basic level of preparedness……..and please don’t forget about your car!

A special thanks to the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan with our friend CWO2 Ron Morris and everyone else who is providing aid in Japan.

Kick Ass Crab Cakes (with Sunchokes and Broccollini)

It’s been too long, I know…………. I’m lazy and I procrastinate.  Moving on…….

It is no secret that I thoroughly hate Dungeness crab. Californians love it and often make fun of the East’s blue crab because of its size. I shouldn’t say Californians, really, it was my husband’s grandma, who also chastised the entire cuisine on the East Coast, saying it was bland.  I almost choked on my tongue……the nerve of this woman.  I have yet to get over that.  Anyway…….the Dungeness crab is huge, it’s true, compared to our little guys that fill the Chesapeake with the sweet flavor that is blue crab. There is nothing like it and my crab cravings will only be satisfied by it.  Since my bff Sarah, who lives in Richmond, was flying out to see me in CA (over a month ago), I asked her to fly with a pound of glorious jumbo lump crab meat from P.T. Hastings.  I promised to make her my kick ass crab cakes the evening she flew in to welcome her to the West…..with an East Coast dish.  Whatever…….I’m pregnant, I can cook what I want.

Crab Cakes

1 lb jumbo lump or lump crabmeat, picked through for shells

1/4 cup of mayo

1 egg

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 teaspoon Old Bay

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

fresh ground pepper (to your liking)

a few dashes of hot sauce


1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Chopped fresh parsley (if you’ve got it, if not, dried will do fine)

Vegetable oil for frying

Fill a large sauce pan about 1/4 full with vegetable oil and heat on medium high until oil is hot.  You can test the oil by flicking a drop of water in the pan.  If it sizzles and pops, it’s ready.  In a small bowl, mix together flour, bread crumbs and parsley.  Set aside.  Drain extra moisture from crab meat by squeezing it through a paper towel.   In a large bowl, mix together crab, mayo, egg, Worcestershire, lemon, Old Bay, dry mustard, salt, garlic powder, pepper and hot sauce.  

With your hands, form a crab ball about the size of your palm (your crab mixture should make 5-6 crab cakes.  I made 4 large cakes once and it was a disaster….too hard to flip in the pan and I have a permanent burn scar on the top of my hand from it). 

Roll the ball in the flour/bread crumb mixture and place in hot oil (oil should come up about halfway around the cake). 

Cook each side about 3-4 minutes until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels. 

Serve with lemon wedges, fresh parsley sprigs and your favorite remoulade, yogurt sauce, etc…..

Now, Sarah and I did not have any sauce planned for the cakes.  Sauce is great if you have the time, but these cakes are normally so delish, it’s not necessary.  HOWEVER, this crab was particularly fishy………….BOO!  I’m not sure if this is because the fresh meat was frozen then thawed once in California or what, but it was very disappointing for me.  So, Sarah whipped up a little sauce with mayo, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper and a little white wine vinegar.  It was PERFECT!

I wanted to serve a few special sides.  Broccollini is one of my favorite side dishes (for recipe, see Balsamic Broccollini).  It’s so delicate and pretty and really crunchy when roasted!  I had also been wanting to try sunchokes after reading a post about them from the fabulous Bitten Word.  These little guys are sold in my local Safeway and are such a treat.  We loved them!  As mentioned in the Bitten Word, they’re like potatoes, but sweeter.  We did not use an onion, just onion powder, but they turned out great.  Simply saute them in a pan with butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and a chopped onion until they’re golden brown and crunchy.   YUM!

The finished dish……….