Monthly Archives: August 2014

Jasmine’s Parents Visit

My parents came for a visit last week and I thought I would share some of the activities we did. We do have a guest photographer for this post: they were all taken by my dad.

Since my parents had never really been outside of San Francisco on their previous visits, we spent a day in Santana Row in San Jose. While this isn’t typical of San Jose, it does have all the activities you want to take a visitor to: wine tasting, restaurants, and shopping. Our first stop was wine tasting at the Vintage Wine Bar. They have an outdoor seating area near a fountain, which was a really nice place to enjoy a glass of wine.

My parents and me at the Vintage Wine Bar. We liked the fountain.

My parents and me at the Vintage Wine Bar.

Afterwards, we got some dim sum for lunch, again at an outdoor table, and looked in a few shops. The highlight of the day was getting to do all of this outside. There aren’t very many places with outdoor shopping in Indiana and there are too many bugs this time of year to make outdoor eating particularly popular. It made for a nice change for my parents.

The next day we went to San Francisco and wandered around several areas: Potrero, the Mission, the Haight, and the Castro. We didn’t stop anywhere in Potrero, but I did give a tour of several of the places we used to frequent when we lived in San Francisco. The first actual stop was Southern Pacific Brewing for lunch with Lloyd. This was also a place Lloyd and I frequented and I think my parents were a bit dismayed when we said everything on the food menu was good, but we all enjoyed the meal.

There is a lot of walking when Lloyd and I tour people around the city. I think the footwear says it all.

There is a lot of walking when Lloyd and I tour people around the city. I think the footwear says it all.

When Lloyd went back to work, the rest of us wandered over to the Haight since my parents had never been there. This isn’t an area of the city I usually visit, but it is one of the places visitors think of when they think of San Francisco. On the way back, we decided to see if they had bar seats available at Magnolia, a very popular brewery in the city, and got the last three. I’d only been there once before and was excited that they had a small beer (low alcohol percentage, not the size of the glass) since I was more thirsty than anything else, and was happy to find that the beer was as good as I remembered.

The view from Magnolia.

The view from Magnolia.

Afterwards, we wandered over to Kasa in the Castro for dinner. I first heard about this place, weirdly, at a knitting store down the street. The people who worked there were always talking about going there for lunch and how good it was. One day, we decided to check it out, armed only with the knowledge that it was an Indian restaurant somewhere nearby. We followed our noses and now go there pretty much every time we’re in the area. Definitely a favorite and a great way to end a visit to the Bay Area.

One of my favorite views in the city, fog included. It makes Sutro Tower look much more interesting.

One of my favorite views in the city, fog included. It makes Sutro Tower look much more interesting.

Mt. Madonna County Park (N37.01 W121.71)

In our almost over quest to go to all of the Santa Clara County Parks, we went to 3 parks this weekend. This sounds impressive, but we spent the lion’s share of the time at Mt. Madonna and only a hour or so at the other 2 which were very small.  So as not to sully the fine park of Mt. Madonna, we will be doing those as a later post.

Mt. Madonna is pretty far south of us in the Santa Cruz mountains just west of Gilroy.  It is high enough up that it is quite moist due to the marine layer which means only one thing: redwoods!  We were both really pleased by the park which, for the most part, was a lovely 6 mile hike in mostly redwoods turning into a bit of plains and scrubby oak as we got a little lower altitude. I would rate this park pretty highly with one caveat: there were a lot of RV parking spots so maybe it is less serene in the height of tourist season.

Just the standard little piece of heaven trail.

Just the standard little piece of heaven trail.

There was just enough areas without cover on the hike to give a view of the surroundings

There were just enough areas without cover on the hike to give a view of the surroundings.

Add one Jasmine for scale

Add one Jasmine for scale.

There was this cool little late on one of the trail spurs we took with a derelict dock house on the border.

There was this cool little lake on one of the trail spurs we took with a derelict dock house on the border.

We might have not stayed on the trail the whole time.  But if they really wanted to keep us out they would have used electrified razor wire not barbed wire, right?

We might have not stayed on the trail the whole time. But if they really wanted to keep us out, they would have used electrified razor wire not barbed wire, right?

New Boat Progress

I’m in the beginning stages of building another sail boat and I thought I would share the current status.  So far the outer skin and frame are prepared and I’ve started putting all the pieces together so about 20 hours done and maybe 60 hours left to go.  This time I am basing it off of plans for the Blondie so I hope it works better that attempt number 1.

Step 1 is measuring out and cutting all of the plywood skins.

Step 1 is measuring out and cutting all of the plywood skins.

Step 2 is epoxying the cutouts together to make full length skins.

Step 2 is epoxying the cutouts together to make full length skins.

The side panels epoxied together.

The side panels epoxied together.

I also fixed some of the plastic tires on the neighbors electric toy quadbike :)

I also fixed some of the plastic tires on the neighbors’ electric toy quadbike. :)

Kayaking at McCovey Cove

We decided to go kayak at a Giants game as we have not been to one this year and we used to go all of the time when lived by the stadium.  So we drove up to the Islais Creek, about 3 miles south of the stadium, and put in there and made our way up to the game.  It was a fun day out on the water, and we made a full day of it with the 7 miles of kayaking and hanging out at the park for 4 innings.  And, most importantly, we actually got a splash hit ball!  It was only a foul, but still pretty cool.  I would highly recommend hanging out at McCovey cove for anyone with a boat in the Bay Area.

The is the 3rd street bridge in the first part of our kayak.

This the 3rd street bridge in the first part of our kayak.

First time that we have ever stopped for a beer in the middle of a kayak.  The Ramp is a cool restaurant with an attached dock.

First time that we have ever stopped for a beer in the middle of a kayak. The Ramp is a cool restaurant with an attached dock.

"Give us that, Lloyd, my love."  "Why?" ""Because it's my birthday, and I wants it." "I don’t care, I have given you a present already, more than I could afford. I found this, and I’m going to keep it."  Strangling noises. "My precious"

“Give us that, Lloyd, my love.” “Why?” “”Because it’s my birthday, and I wants it.” “I don’t care. I have given you a present already, more than I could afford. I found this, and I’m going to keep it.” Strangling noises. “My precious.”

Because it actually was Jasmine's birthday I did give her the ball. Also we drank a bottle of Asti.

Because it actually was Jasmine’s birthday, I did give her the ball. Also, we drank a bottle of Asti.

The Ballpark.  Giants ended up winning 6-5 in the end, so a good day all around.

The Ballpark. Giants ended up winning 6-5 in the end, so a good day all around.

Jasmine’s Birthday Dinner

So for Jasmine’s birthday this year, first we went for a nice kayak which will be mentioned tomorrow, but I also went over the top and made a 5 course dinner (mostly out of How to Cook Everything).

1) Duck Liver Pate with Naan:  The Naan dough was done the day before and then just pan fried in butter.  The liver was boiled in a broth made of the backbone and other innards, then mashed up with butter and diced shallots (no picture,sorry).

2) Salad with Braised Fennel:  Braised some fennel, carrots, and shallots with a couple sprigs of thyme, salt, and pepper.  Then added to a lettuce salad with a house vinaigrette.Salad

3)Duck a l’orange: Roasted duck in a orange sauce, from How to Cook Everything.  Served with a side of roast corn. It was really tender.

Plated Duck

4) Strawberries: Halved and lightly dusted with sugar.  Got to have a palette cleanser before desert. :)

Berries

5) Death by Chocolate Torte: Again from How to Cook Everything. Basically an unleavened chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache icing.  Tasty, but I’m not the baker that Jasmine is.

torte

Also sorry for the blurry images; it would appear that the soft focus is easily achieved by duck fat getting everywhere.

Iron Horse Winery

Sorry about the long delay with updates, but I have been out in the desert testing some rockets for work.  Last weekend we didn’t do an adventurous hike; we instead went to one of or favorite wineries and took a couple hour hiking tour of the grounds.  It was rather interesting and, as the grapes were just about to be picked, rather tasty as well. I would highly recommend trying to get a tour of the grounds at a least one winery if you go for a day of wine tasting as it seems to add a level of completeness to the experience.

This was pretty much what most of the hike looked like, a group of 40 or so people all at least a decade older than us and lots of grapevines

This was pretty much what most of the hike looked like: a group of 40 or so people all at least a decade older than us and lots of grapevines.

Some of the vines were really old growth

Some of the vines were really old growth.

Santa Teresa County Park (N37.21 W121.79)

In the what currently feels like a never ending quest to go to all of the Santa Clara County Parks, we picked up another one this weekend – Santa Teresa.  I can honestly say that there is not much to report: it was sort of bland.  It was a pretty reasonable place to hike with the standard fields of golden grass and patches of green scrub oaks.  I think it is mainly used by mountain bikers and horses and it looks OK for that, if a little small (only 20 miles of trail total), and not too hilly.  So, in recap, good for locals but not really worth a long trip to go see.

Look, its a trail that could be anywhere in the bay area.

Look! Its a trail that could be anywhere in the Bay Area.

There is something pretty in the spareness of the flora

There is something pretty in the spareness of the flora.

And as always you can see San Jose from any local high point, this time Coyote Peak.

And, as always, you can see San Jose from any local high point – this time Coyote Peak.

Smoked Salmon

Recently we were told about a local grocery store, Ranch 99, that has an awesome fishmonger so we have been getting a bunch of fish lately.  This weekend we did something that we had talked about for a while and smoked a whole salmon.  I’ll give my recipe below, but I would say that if I had to do it again, I would brine a little longer and cut the fish in half or fillet it before smoking.  I would also recommend a electric smoker over my charcoal which is a little hard to control the temperature.

– 4 lbs of salmon, whole, gutted and scaled with the fins all cut off.

– Brine the salmon for 1 hour in 2 cups water, 1/4 cup salt, 1/8 cup of sugar, and however much garlic and ginger you want.

– Smoke at 220 F for abut 2-3 hours with 2 change ups of the wood.

– Let it cool and enjoy.

It came from the briny deep - little did it know that the briny shallows awaited it.

It came from the briny deep – little did it know that the briny shallows awaited it.

I added a couple of slits to the salmon to let the smoke in.  Also pictured above is a mackerel that I added to the mix for a change.

I added a couple of slits to the salmon to let the smoke in. Also pictured above is a mackerel that I added to the mix for a change.

MMHHH, fish.  The mackerel was smooth and oily and flavorful, the salmon was flaky and very tasty but maybe slightly dry.

MMHHH, fish. The mackerel was smooth and oily and flavorful; the salmon was flaky and very tasty but maybe slightly dry.