I just passed over the 5-month anniversary of my move to California. Here’s what I’ve liked so far:
Closer to home. I’ve been down to Los Angeles four times since we moved here. That’s like 4 years worth of family visits! It’s also been great to see Jen’s family on a more regular basis.
Our friends. We’re lucky to have people from all over (high school, college, work, grad school) converge in the Bay Area. Of course we really miss everyone in Boston, especially our friends’ children.
Weather. I kind of miss the snow and I may be sad this fall, but it’s also been great to enjoy outdoor activities during the winter. I’ve received 5 Somerville snow emergency emails in the past few months.
No second car. Between walking and the Caltrain, things have worked out well. It’s nice to have some reading/nap time and physical activity built into my daily schedule.
Within walking distance of groceries. This made me way happier than I thought it would. The Sunday market and Trader Joe’s are an 8-minute walk away, which means that I don’t really have to plan meals for the week. When I was working from home half-time, I’d walk over there at least 2-3x a week.
Year-round farmer’s market. Fresh produce all year round! Our market has fish and meat as well.
New job. This was one of the last pieces to fall into place. I love Endeca (everything – the company, product, and team), but working remote over the past few months has been quite lonely. Started at Yelp last week.
Stopped by Baylands Nature Preserve again yesterday after having lunch with friends at Topix. Took my binoculars along this time too.
As I was leaving, I saw a ring-necked pheasant. It was quite skittish but also didn’t make any effort to get away from me. Quite striking in its coloring.
A few weeks ago while we were discussing the heavenly Bi-Rite ice cream, Joy mentioned another one of her favorites: Niman Ranch Pork Chops. I picked up a package of two at Trader Joe’s. They were juicy and delicious, especially with this sweet, spicy sauce.
I didn’t get much of a fond when I seared them, but I imagine that the adobo chilis and molasses would have overpowered the meatiness. The brine doesn’t have to be as involved as it is below – aside from sugar and salt the other ingredients are optional.
Pan-Seared, Oven-Roasted Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Pan Sauce
from Cook’s Illustrated
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 cup kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt)
10 medium cloves garlic , crushed
4 bay leaves , crumbled
8 whole cloves
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns , crushed
4 bone-in rib loin pork chops (12-ounces each), 1 1/2-inches-thick
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest from 2 limes
1 cup orange juice from 2 large oranges
2 medium cloves garlic , chopped
4 chipotle chiles en adobo
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 2 pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper
1. For Pork: In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve sugar and salt in 2 cups hot water. Add garlic, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, (if using) and 4 cups cold water; cool mixture to room temperature. Add pork chops, then seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour, turning bag once. Remove chops from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place shallow roasting pan or jelly-roll pan on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. When oven reaches 450 degrees, heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Place chops in skillet; cook until well-browned and nice crust has formed on surface, about 2 minutes. Turn chops over with tongs; cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer chops to preheated pan in oven. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each chop registers 125–127 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes, turning chops over once halfway through cooking time. Transfer each chop to platter; cover loosely with foil (be sure not to wrap foil tightly around meat), and let rest about 5 minutes. (Check internal temperature; it should register about 145 degrees).
3. For Sauce: In bowl of food processor, puree molasses, lime juice and zest, orange juice, garlic, and chipotle chiles until smooth. Transfer to small bowl; set aside.
4. Pour off fat from skillet used to brown chops; place skillet over medium-high heat and add molasses mixture, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with pork chops.
We spent the past weekend in Sonoma to celebrate our friend’s completion of the California bar exam. Ten of us (Sloanies, significant others, and Meatball the dog) shared a fantastic house (back of the house, backyard view) in Guerneville.
Spent most of Saturday wine tasting, highlights included the beautiful gardens at Ferrari-Carano (I didn’t sample the wine there) and a few hours lounging around on the back patio of the Harvest Moon Winery. Harvest Moon, a tiny winery, was our favorite of the bunch – we all had a really pleasant time, got along well with our hosts, and bought several bottles of wine. We had brought along our own bread, prosciutto, and cheese, and also sampled their chocolate and olive oils.
On Sunday it was rainy but that didn’t stop a few of us from heading to the beach. We strolled along Goat Rock Beach, catching a break in the rain. We spent a lot of the day lazing around from the comfort of our house.
Of course, the eating was fantastic. We cooked one breakfast, one brunch, and three dinners together. Meal after meal, we all ate far beyond the point of being full. The nine of us fit comfortably around the dining room table. It was warm, cozy, and homey.
Jen and I have been looking for outdoorsy places to visit; a few weeks ago I came across the Baylands Nature Preserve. It’s only a 5.5 mile bike ride from our place in Menlo Park. Today I went in between rainstorms. The marshlands are full of birds; next time I’m definitely bringing a pair of binoculars along with me.
On one of the pond shores, two groups of birds (one brown, one white) would suddenly take to the air every few minutes. Nature fans should have a look at these in high-res: 1, 2 (you can see why they were flying if you look on the right side of the image), 3.
Oh, and there was a rainbow too.