Lunch Room Conversations

double_facepalm_tng1

It’s been a few weeks since I started working in the tech world of San Francisco and ultimately I can’t say if I’m sold on it yet or not. Yes, there’s the food – and by God that is definitely one way to keep me happy – but I can’t say I’m seduced just yet.

There’s the normal grievances – too many people, no offices (seriously don’t get me started), really really young people…the list goes on. But in taking it all in, and adjusting to the tech world culture, I have come to discover that tech lunch room conversations are equivalent to NYC subway conversations. You’re minding your own business, trying to curl into a corner to get your work done or de-stress for 20 minutes despite being surrounded by chaos, and, inevitably, conversations will be had, ears will perk up, and eyes will be rolled ending with a big huge thud.

Today’s lunch room conversation is brought to you by the oh so charming youthful contingency here in the tech world:

Girl #1: “Now that I’m getting older my hangovers are just killing me.”

Girl #2: “Wait, you’re not old yet, how old are you?”

Girl #1: “I’m 24, so you know – GETTING THERE.”

Girl #2: “Totally.”

Girl #1: “How old are you?”

Girl #2: “22 and a 1/2. Wait, should I stop counting the half? Is there like a rule?”

INSERT EYE ROLL THUD TO THE FLOOR.

I have no words…Okay – except these – YES ladies, there is a rule for letting go of the “half” and the rule is first applied upon the onset of your very first wrinkle. No, no, those are not smile lines. You aren’t all crinkly because you’re so full of joy – you’re getting old and you can officially stop counting your age in half stages.  In fact, stop counting at all because it just gets depressing.

Pick an age you loved and determine to stay that age in heart and mind. Mine is 27. I intend to be 27 FOREVER.

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Filed under American Culture, California, Culture, Life, San Francisco, Tech, Work

Tech Virgin No More

LUNCH - at work - obviously

LUNCH – at work – obviously

It seems I have hit the temp job jackpot.

I am currently working for a wonderful start up (not to be named here) that not only is full of young, motivated, ambitious, friendly people but also has a full blown restaurant/kitchen available to employees. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner – all available for FREE. And free without being sub standard – free and delicious – free and restaurant level cuisine – free and catered to my daughter of a French chef taste buds.

The chef here is the real deal, and even feeding a staff of hundreds, the food is amazingly good.

Example A – this was lunch on a Friday:

Pan Seared Salmon with Cauliflower Puree and Sauteed Dino Kale

Pan Seared Salmon with Cauliflower Puree and Sauteed Dino Kale

 

Seriously. That was my lunch – at work. And they just gave it to me. They didn’t want any money – or blood – or my first born child. They just gave it to me all like Happy Friday this is totally normal.

There’s also baristas to make you coffee, whenever you want it, lovely little women who roll around a cart full of cookies by your desk around snack time, and a constant supply of snacks, water, and honestly whatever else your little heart desires. It’s insane.

Example B: Pre made green juice with kale and apple and ginger (employees need their daily fiber after all):

Freshly made and ready just for us

Freshly made and ready just for us

It’s a little disturbing to think that many of these twenty something employees only just out of college are getting it this good. I remember when I was working for pennies in my twenties. Where maybe once every six months there would be a company pot luck – which resulted in lots of mediocre food and my polite oh so subtle pushing my plate away inch by inch until it eventually landed in the garbage.

My how times have changed.

SLOW CLAP for you universe – you may be making me wait on the perfect full time job but you clearly understand who you’re dealing with. Well played – and thank you.

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Filed under American Culture, California, Cooking, Culture, Food and Drink, Life, Tech, Work

Alive and In Love With California

Golden_Fog,_San_Francisco

So…it’s been awhile. I just finished making a lemon tart, wondering if I’d blogged about the lemon tart at any point in time. Realizing I had, it then occurred to me that what I haven’t done is blog, AT ALL, in quite awhile.

I blame the move. Moving is hard. And three months later, I’m only just starting to see straight and come out of the fog of readjusting to life elsewhere. That being said, I love it here. The people, the weather (OMG), being closer to my best friends and my family, it all makes it worth it. I won’t lie- there’s  a piece of my heart that will always belong to our little corner in Brooklyn, but it was time to leave New York, and I am not sad to have left the city and all its daily stress behind.

Let’s update on the basics:

JOB: I’m still looking for the right full time job. My next step is an important one and the jobs that feel like the right move for me professionally are few and far between, but I am remaining hopeful that something will work out very, very soon.

APARTMENT: Erik and I are currently living at my Mom’s – God bless her generous soul. Thankfully we love living with her and, hopefully, having two people cooking for her every night is making up for the cramped quarters. Once I have a paycheck coming in we can start saving for our own place, and paying off some debt. But for now, we are living the American dream and sponging off our parents.

COOKING: I have been cooking, although not as much as I’d like, and most certainly not experimenting as much as I’d like. New recipes generally add up in terms of buying new ingredients, and we can’t always be sure the finished product will be good or worth eating, so I’m taking less chances given the lack of funds. In short, I have become very good friends with the baked potato. But there have been a few new recipes which I will post here very soon. New recipes include a mushroom shallot quiche, fish tacos, crab cakes, and mustard roasted fish.

LIFE IN GENERAL: I’ve gotten back into my old lady water aerobics which, I’m sorry, is a really good workout. You get what you give with that type of workout but when you give it your all, it really does a body good. I’ve also taken up swimming. I wouldn’t say I swim well, but given how hot it’s been, swimming has become my exercies of choice and I’m averaging two to three days a week (plus two days of water aerobics) and generally do about 20 laps. Which for a real swimmer is nothing, but for me, it’s plenty. I now even have what I consider to be a tan. Most people would say I now look “fair” instead of “porcelain”, but for me it’s a tan. And I hate it. I can’t wait for Fall and the palest of skin, and tights and boots, and over sized sweaters…can’t come soon enough.

In other general life news my Mom and I have had some pretty solid date nights. We saw Barry Gibb in concert (Bee Gees!) and last week we saw Julianne and Derek Hough’s dance show. I know, I know…but I make no apologies. They’re brilliant dancers and it was a seriously wonderful show.  Speaking of dancing, my feet are itching to get back to Irish dancing but I’m  holding off until I have a full time job. I want to make sure that once I start going I can keep going, so I need to know the full demands of my work schedule before I can commit to anything. Hopefully I’ll drag my Mom with me to classes.

Meanwhile, I have agreed to do next year’s Tough Mudder event with Erik in Lake Tahoe. I’m a little scared. It looks fun but super intense. I’m gonna have to start running (groan) but it will be a fun thing to do with Erik and it will give us a reason to work out together and “train” for it. Expect various blog posts about sore muscles, lack of finding a runner’s high, and general updates about our progress. I figure if I document it, we’ll really do it. So once we officially start training together for the Tough Mudder (end of this month), I’ll start blogging about it.

So there you have it. Not too exciting around here but hopefully everything will start to settle soon and we can begin really enjoying our new life here in the Bay Area. No matter what, it’s good to be home. God Bless California livin’.

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Filed under California, Cooking, Family, Life, Summer

Scallops a la Grenobloise with Fennel

grenobloise

Many of you are aware from previous posts that I love scallops. Like a lot. Like in the perhaps you need a support group for your non sensical devotion to them kinda way. But I have no shame. They’re delicious, they’re healthy (if we ignore the amount of butter I drown them in), and compared to the cost of other fish they’re more bang for your buck.

Last week I made Scallops Provencal (again), a frequent mid week dish chez moi , and the Scallops with Brussels Sprouts (again). But this week I attempted a new variation – Scallops a la Grenobloise.  Initially, I was going to attempt Jacques Pepin’s version, but then I found this version in Food and Wine Magazine and thought it sounded a bit simpler for my first go at it.

So what makes it “Grenobloise” you ask? Apparently the presence of capers, lemon, and parsley all on the same plate. Having visited Grenoble very briefly I can’t say I have any real knowledge as to whether this really holds true, but it seems to be the running theme for recipes found here in the States claiming Grenoble as their homeland. This particular recipe included fennel which honestly I could do without. I think capers, lemon, and parsley are perfectly lovely on their own and fennel has that very agressive licorice smell and taste that can be off putting if you use too much of it. I actually cut the fennel in half knowing I would have a problem if I used the amount the recipe called for. But to each their own. If you’re a fennel fan then this recipe is definitely for you.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 pound sea scallops
  3. Kosher salt
  4. Freshly ground pepper
  5. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. 1 medium fennel bulb—trimmed, halved and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
  7. 2 tablespoons drained capers
  8. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

 

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the scallops and cook until just opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the sliced fennel and capers and cook over high heat, stirring, until the fennel is crisp-tender and lightly golden, 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the fennel around the scallops and garnish with chopped fennel fronds. Serve with lemon wedges.

 

Finished product (served over quinoa):

grenobloise2

It was good. Not amazing but good. Personally, if I make this again, I’ll make it completely sans fennel, but that is definitely a personal preference.

Anyone have any go to fish dishes they love to make? I need more recipes!

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Filed under Cooking, Food and Drink, France, French Culture, Home, Life, Recipes

Halibut with Charred Corn Salad

yummy corn salad

yummy corn salad

Dinner was so healthy the other night I almost hated myself for it.

Who am I becoming? There was no starch, no complex carbohydrates, and technically there was no butter! Until I added some, because OF COURSE I DID.

Wednesday night’s recipe was Halibut with Charred Corn Salad (found on Serious Eats) and I must say it was delicious. But it was delicious in that healthy feel good way. Not in the healthy SO GOOD way. Does that make me sound crazy?

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (I used canned corn – FOR SHAME)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ jalapeno, minced
3 scallions thinly sliced, light green parts only
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh juice from about 2 limes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 halibut fillets (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)

Directions

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the corn and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn has charred slightly, about 5 minutes.

LOVE corn, always and forever

LOVE corn, always and forever

2. Add the corn to a serving bowl and mix with the jalapeno, scallions, tomatoes, mint leaves, lime juice, and extra-virgin olive, and season to taste (see above photo). Set aside.

3. Wipe out the same skillet and add the remaining olive oil (AND SOME BUTTER) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season fish with salt and pepper. Add the fish skin side down and until the skin is crisp, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until just cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Serve with the corn salad.

The finished product:

Pretty and healthy

Pretty and healthy

Another pretty plate of food. And super healthy. Like so healthy I needed to eat a handful of Girl Scout cookies an hour later to make sure I wasn’t going so far over the edge of healthy eating habits that my friends couldn’t recognize me.

Would I make it again? Yes. For a mid week healthy option, absolutely. Do I want to make it again the way I want to make the scallops and brussels sprouts again? No, not really. I would never crave this dish, but I will add it to my rotation of options.

Worth a try if you’re looking for easy and light mid week meal!

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Filed under Brooklyn, Cooking, Food and Drink, Life, Recipes

Scallops with Brussels Sprouts and Lemon Chive Crème Fraîche

brussel1 Last night I got home and all I could think about was ordering delivery. I wanted someone to bring me hot delicious food while I sat on my couch, had a cocktail, and indulged in some seriously questionable TV programming.

But instead, I rallied. I did the dishes, broke out the recipe book, and tried out something new for dinner. And man am I glad I did because it was DELISH. Like really, really good and super satisfying. And I am so glad I tried it because, in an effort to eat a bit lighter, I’m trying to focus most of my meals on fish and vegetables. I’m also trying to opt for quinoa and veggies instead of for my true love – the potato. The change in focus is not for any particular reason other than it’s been a long winter and quite frankly my body is craving the lighter food. That being said, this particular recipe calls for pancetta and crème fraîche…and some butter…so I suppose by definition it’s not SUPER healthy, but by my standards it’s perfect. All the flavor I need and all the healthy factors as well. I mean, let’s be honest, if there are no potatoes on my plate smothered in butter (and I do mean smothered) then it’s healthy and light according to this home chef.

Lemon chive creme fraiche

Lemon chive creme fraiche

Just based on the recipe, when I began cooking this I wasn’t anticipating it to be that great. I love scallops and I’ve always appreciated brussels sprouts, but despite it sounded relatively straight forward and tasty, I was almost annoyed that I was cooking it simply based on the fact that I was exhausted and wanted someone to ring my doorbell with my dinner. I was not in the mood for any kind of prep work. To be fair, if you’re in a cooking mood, the prep work is pretty light and once all the elements are ready to go, cook time takes less than 10 minutes. Also it turned out SO STUPIDLY GOOD. I got this particular recipe from Food and Wine Magazine and it’s a definite winner:

Ingredients

1/4 cup crème fraîche

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon snipped chives

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 jumbo scallops (about 3/4 pound)

6 thin slices pancetta (about 2 ounces)

1/2 pound brussels sprouts thinly sliced

1 shallot thinly sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk the crème fraîche with the finely grated lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, snipped chives and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the lemon-chive crème fraîche with salt and pepper.

2. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Generously season the scallops with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Cook the scallops over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are golden and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a plate; tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, in another medium skillet, cook the pancetta over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and shallot and cook, stirring, until the brussels sprouts are softened but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter and garlic and season with salt and pepper; transfer to plates and top with the scallops. Serve with the lemon-chive crème fraîche.

I followed the directions exactly and it came out beautifully. The only difference was that I didn’t have jumbo scallops so I used more. I mean, seriously, look at it:

YUMMMMMM

YUMMMMMM

There’s obviously more crème fraîche available if you want it but I found a light drizzling to be just enough.

This one is a definite keeper and a new favorite without a doubt. Worth a try if you’re in the mood!

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Filed under Brooklyn, Cooking, Food and Drink, Home, Life

The Time Has Come – We Are San Francisco Bound

San-Francisco-Fog-Sunset1

The time has finally come. After much discussion and a lot of thought, Erik and I have decided to move back to San Francisco. And can I just say…HALLELUJAH!

There are many reasons why New York and I need to part ways but the biggest one is the simple fact that I’m too old for this shit. Roger Murtaugh knew what he was talking about. And unlike Mr. Murtaugh who kept going back for more (silly), I am a big enough curmudgeon to know that I’m done. More importantly, I’m exhausted.

New York is an amazing city. I won’t take that away from it. It is. But it is a young person’s city. And I really am too old for this shit. I don’t want to be at the bars till 4am, I don’t want to wear the latest fashions (that I can’t afford anyway), I don’t want to snag a table at the newest, best, etc restaurant on a Saturday night, and I most certainly do not want to spend my entire month’s paycheck on my rent. Living in this city, even on a good day, comes with battles and hard edges, extreme emotions and unnecessary stress, and when you look around and can’t find one thing that seems to make it entirely worth it, then it’s time to leave.

And leave we will, for our beloved San Francisco. The Bay Area is not exactly cheap, but the quality of life is far richer than any life I’ve experienced in NYC. It is the city that I believe holds the deepest root to my family and houses the open arms of my dearest and closest friends. Top that off with perfect weather and amazing food and you’ve got what I believe to be a recipe for happiness.

We’re not sure yet if we’ll be setting up shop in the city or going back to our old stomping grounds in Berkeley, but either way, we’re coming home Bay Area.

Murtaugh OUT.

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Filed under California, Family, Home, Life, New York, San Francisco