Sunday, September 27, 2009

Picnic in the Park

This post is overdue, which seems to be a trend for me lately. I forgot that a regular job is kind of a time suck. But hey, this week I'm home on script so maybe we'll get some more action here at Killer Zucchini.

When I was up in the Bay Area a few weekends back, we took a trip to the new Academy of Sciences. Located in Golden Gate Park, we started off the day with a picnic in Marx Meadow with food we picked up at the Marin Farmers Market that morning.
The featured picnic foods were: a fresh baguette, Bellweather Farms cheeses, an awesome container of duck rillettes, saucisson, smoked salmon, peaches, plums, orange raspberries, figs, dates and olives. We washed it all down with a good Zin and some sparkling water. I think the duck rillettes were my favorite. How can you go wrong with shredded duck and duck fat?

Stacy, Noah and Robin (Noah's mom aka Agile Lady) were waiting for me to finish taking pics so they could eat already. This one makes me giggle - it looks like the wine bottle is up Noah's nose.
This little guy was at the picnic, too. He was grubbing on the bits and pieces of fruit we tossed to him. I think he makes a good living being adorable to picnickers.

Outside the Academy of Sciences.

When I was a kid, the A of S was my absolute favorite place to be. I think there was a time when I made my parents take me at least once a week. Like many children who grew up in the Bay Area in the 1980s, I had this weird obsession with the two-headed snake they had in their reptile room. It was awesome. I was sad to learn he (they?) had died, but they did have him preserved in a jar down in the Lower Level aquarium. There was also the alligator pit (complete with the old seahorse railing), a version of the touch pool (not nearly as good as the old one) and a nice big anaconda (although I felt like they could have had 75% more snakes overall).

They still had a bunch of the dioramas from the Natural History Museum, too. We didn't get there in time to get Planetarium tickets and we weren't into waiting in the long line for the Rain Forest. I was pretty happy with all the changes. And the building looked beautiful.I especially loved the living roof and all the domes. I told Noah we're so doing this when we buy a house. It's like nature and sci-fi had a baby.

Reliving your youth? Definitely a fun way to spend the day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

I think you should all watch the best new show of the year tonight. And I'm not saying that just because I write for it.

So sit down, mix yourself a gin rickey and enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Lovely Way to End the Summer

Today was one of those truly beautiful end of summer days in Baltimore... high in the 70s and no humidity. Just a harbinger of fall sent to tease us before the hot doldrums of September set in.

Last weekend I was visiting with the Kucserka clan in San Anselmo (see Sarah's blog from last week) and I came across this recipe in Gretchen's Gourmet magazine and knew it would be a winner because it is South Beach compliant, Weight Watchers friendly and just plain appealing.
So tonight we had our very own Mediterranean dinner poolside and this was a total winner. Enjoy.

Mediterranean Grilled Lamb Steaks (serves 4)
from Gourmet April 2009

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Turkish bay leaf, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 (3x1") strips of orange zest
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 14 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 lbs boneless top round lamb roast

In 2 tbsp of oil, cook garlic, bay leaf, fennel seeds, and zest, stirring until fennel seeds are golden about 1 minute.
Add onion and cook stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes with their juice, artichokes, and olives and cook until vegetables are tender 5-8 min. Discard zest and bay leaf
Heat grill. Cut lamb across the grain into 4 1" thick steaks and brush both sides of steaks with remaining 2 Tb of oil and season with salt and pepper
Grill lamb, turning once about 10 minutes (we needed more because our steaks were thick) for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board and slice into thin slices.
Spoon tomato mixture onto plates and top with slices of lamb

We served this tasty dish with grilled baby carrots done with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Life Aquatic

For my birthday I'm giving you all a little Moments of Rest-esque video from our trip to the California Academy of Sciences this weekend. Note: It's more Zen if you turn off the sound. Additional note: If you are Veronica, you definitely do not want to watch this. Two words: sea creatures.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nice Way To Spend A Sunday Morning

Noah and I were up north this weekend - visiting my family, attending a wedding, hanging with Noah's mom who was in from Baltimore and celebrating my birthday a few days early. As you can imagine, the schedule was fairly packed. But Sunday morning we got to do one of my favorite things - take a trip to the Marin Farmer's Market at the Civic Center. And this isn't some skimpy market. There are rows and rows of farm stalls, food stalls, petting zoos and even a bouncy castle or two. Heaven.
There's no better time to check out the bounty at the market than early September. Fruit like crazy, the beginnings of fall veggies and all kinds of meats, fishes and cheeses. Well, sadly not as much cheese this weekend as I had hoped for, as both the Andante guy and the Pug's Leap folks were MIA for the holiday. Damn. Still, there was plenty of other good stuff to enjoy.
Like these gorgeous berries. We brought a box of the fiery orange raspberries to our picnic in Golden Gate Park. They were sooo good. And I'm not at all a raspberry person. Usually they're too mushy and slightly fermented tasting for me (yes, even the really great, fancy, expensive ones), but these were great. They had an almost citrusy tang to them.
Brian picked up some fantastic tuna from the fish folks at Santa Rosa Seafood, which he whipped up for us at my birthday dinner at Insalata's. I must say, it's pretty nice having a chef in the family. I meant to get a few of the SRS oysters, but was rushed out of the market before I had a chance. Next time.
Of course, we had to grab some stone fruits as well - flavor king plums, flavor grenade pluots and some O'Henry peaches. We cut them up and had them along with dates (also acquired at the market) for our picnic dessert.
Stacy getting fresh with a plum.
Stone fruit free samples. I had to take this one three or four times because people kept popping in and blocking the shot as they reached for their taste.
I just liked this sign. Doesn't it make you smile?
One of the food stalls at the market is a wood-fire pizza oven. We always get their fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and egg breakfast pizza. Apparently you can hire them to do parties in Marin. If I lived there, they would be catering my birthday party. I guess dinner at Church & State is an acceptable substitute.
It was a nice time at the market - not too crowded, not too hot and lots and lots of deliciousness. Stay tuned for details of the picnic in GGP and the trip to the Academy of Sciences. I've got two words to tease it... duck rillettes.