Do You Know What Defenestration Means?

No? Any guesses after seeing this photo? Still, no? Look carefully at what I’m doing to Alex.

If you’re still clueless, defenestration’s interesting origins are worth a quick read on Wikipedia. But the bigger question that you’re probably wondering is why are we acting out defenestration?

In January we were tasked with a project by the sister of some friends who are expecting a baby in late March. She was putting together an ABC’s baby book where friends and family were supposed to take photos depicting something that started with the letter (or number) they were assigned—we were given the letter D.

We hemmed and hawed about what we should do. Do we choose something that you typically see in baby books that seem to make sense to be among baby’s first words like Dinosaur, Dad, Dump Truck, or Dog? Or do we go crazy and start prepping baby for the SAT with some big, esoteric verbiage?

We decided to do both and let the people putting it together decide. So we gave them two choices. This photo below with a Dog and a Door and the one at the top with Dog, Door, and Defenestration (and we noticed Driveway in there too, but forgot to send that along when we submitted the photo).

And they chose….

Awwww yeah! They loved Defenestration, so in the book it went! Can’t wait to hear our friends’ baby say it for the first time 😛

Also, I feel like sharing some of what others did from the book and for you to be able to see how it turned out. “E is for Eating stuff” from our friend Duncan had me in stitches.

And then there were some other overachievers who topped us by having eight items that started with the letter M in their photo.

M is for Michigan Minnesota

Overall, this was a fun project that I think is a fantastic idea for a couple who are expecting a baby. Shutterfly has a template where all you need to do is add the photos so it’s minimal work for someone to put together as well.

And thank you Molly and Adam for letting us borrow Moxie for the photoshoot! And for letting me throw Alex out of your window 😛 You guys are awesome!

Lastly, if you live in San Francisco you may be familiar with the building on 6th and Howard that’s actually titled Defenestration—an entire building devoted to an art installation demonstrating defenestration. It’s worth a drive-by if you haven’t seen it before.

Defenestration San Francisco

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Product Review: Almond Dream Yogurts

The other week I spotted a new non-dairy yogurt at Whole Foods from Almond Dream. It took me by complete surprise because I hadn’t heard a peep about these yogurts prior to landing on store shelves and usually the vegan community is abuzz months before new product releases. I excitedly threw one of each flavor in my cart and went home to try them. I also had Alex do the taste test with me and here’s our verdict on these new non-dairy yogurts.

Overall, they’re good. Not the best non-dairy yogurt on the market (that title still belongs to Wildwood), but definitely solid and I can see myself purchasing them on occasion. As far as non-dairy yogurt goes, I LOVE LOVE Whole Soy Unsweetened Plain. Frankly, it’s the most (and Wildwood Plain Unsweetened is a close second) yogurt-like vegan yogurt I’ve found. It’s deliciously sour and creamy like yogurt should be and I think that’s the problem I have with the Almond Dream ones—they remind me more of a custard rather than a yogurt. And when I ate them with that mindset, I REALLY enjoyed them.

Christina’s favorite: Call me Plain Jane, but that’s the one I liked best. I actually liked all of them, but can see myself gravitating towards the plain more often than the others. The strawberry and mixed berry flavor are very reminiscent of the strawberry and mixed berry yogurt flavors I remember from childhood. So if you love those flavors, you will probably like Almond Dream’s version of them too.

Alex’s favorite: Alex actually really loved these yogurts and thinks they are on par with Wildwood (his overall favorite). He too liked them all, but mixed berry was his favorite and strawberry his second favorite, which is usually the case with any yogurt so his preference is not all that surprising.

My Sweet Valentine

Binary Wrapping Paper

Right now Alex is peacefully sleeping and I will be off to work before he wakes so I won’t get to see his reaction to the Valentine’s gift I left him this morning. And actually I’m okay with that as it might be more enjoyable for him to open it without me hovering over him. It might afford him the time to just relax and enjoy it.

So what did I make for him? Well, after my successful chocolate candy making experiment over the holidays, Alex has been begging me to make more. So always wanting to please my hon, I decided that Valentine’s Day was the perfect reason to get back into it. I knew that I wanted to use the occasion appropriate hearts and kisses molds for the shape.

Chocolate Candy Valentine's Tin

And for the filling? Well, having been born and spending his early childhood in New Hampshire and Vermont, Alex has a certain affinity for maple. Maple sugar, maple candy, maple cream, maple syrup, and, of course, maple butter. So what better way to treat him for Valentine’s Day than to mix his recent chocolate candy request with his love of maple?

Maple Butter Filled Chocolate Hearts

For the kisses, I cut thin strips of pink tissue paper and wrote little notes with things that I love about him on it and placed it in the kiss before wrapping it in foil.

I then packaged them all up in a tin with pink tissue paper and, because Alex is a software engineer and totally geeks out on things like this (and I won’t deny that I don’t either), I wrapped his gift in paper that says “I love you” in binary. Can any other geeks out there read this? 🙂

Binary Wrapping Package

Maple Filled Chocolate Candy

These are so ridiculously easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (or more depending how many you want to make) chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • maple butter (or maple cream)

Melt Chocolate and Assemble: In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and shortening until completely smooth. If you want to be extra careful not to burn the chocolate, you can use a double boiler. With a paintbrush (or small spoon) paint the inside of the mold with the melted chocolate. Once you’ve completed every heart and kiss in the mold, place it in the freezer for 3-5 minutes until hardened. Remove from the freezer and fill each heart and kiss with the maple butter. The maple butter I was working with was VERY sticky so I had to grease my finger when working with it. If you use maple cream, you probably won’t need to do that. Then cover the maple butter with the melted chocolate and put the molds back in the freezer until the chocolate hardens completely. Pull them out of the freezer, pop them out of the mold and store in a cool place until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

Green Machine Smoothie


I have been eating this smoothie every day (for weeks) as a post-lunch snack. By using seasonal fruit and taking advantage of the luscious kale that is in abundance at the markets right now, you too should enjoy this nutrient powerhouse. The great thing about the Green Machine is that even if you abhor kale you’ll still love this smoothie! It’s the perfect way to add this high-nutrient dense veggie into your diet. I promise you won’t even taste it! The fruit completely overpowers the flavor of the kale and the only way you know it’s in there is because of the beautiful green color it lends to the smoothie.

Powerhouse Green Machine Smoothie

  • 2  oranges peeled (make sure to remove all of the pith otherwise your smoothie will be bitter—it’s happened to me, don’t let it happen to you)
  • 3 apples cored
  • 1 pear cored
  • 2-inch peeled chunk of ginger (optional—but for me, this makes the smoothie!)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups kale, rinsed and de-stemmed
Directions: Place all of the fruit ingredients and ginger in a blender and blend until super smooth. Also, I layer the fruit in my blender starting with the oranges, then apple, pear, banana, ginger, and pineapple so that the juice from the oranges adds enough liquid that you don’t need to add any extra juice. It makes for a crazy thick smoothie that you can eat with a spoon so that it’s as nutrient dense as possible. Then add the kale and blend again until completely smooth. Enjoy!
Note: I have a Vitamix blender and have not tested this in any other machine so in the case that it won’t blend you might need to add a smidge of juice.

Hiking Land’s End

It was another glorious weekend in San Francisco and we started our Saturday early with a hike on Land’s End. We arrived at the Cliff House shortly after 10am and it was already starting to feel warm.

Our notoriously late friends (we love them regardless!) were running an hour late so we had some time to enjoy the sea breeze, soak up some vitamin D, and enjoy the marvelous views. I also had time to take a bathroom break in Cliff House and refill my water bottle while Alex sat down on this bench and caught up with Twitter.

When our friends arrived, we began our trek. The trail hugs the cliff along the ocean and provides incredibly dramatic views—such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Sea Cliff (where you’ll find houses priced in the 10s of million dollars) neighborhood pictured below.

You can see the beautiful, rocky coastline below and then Danijela meditating in the middle of the labyrinth on the right.

We continued along the trail and I was able to snap some photos of our friends; Amy, Alex, Marius, Brian, and Danijela.

Oh, and I can’t forget the littlest guy of our group, Mr. Mathias. Look at those gorgeous bright blue eyes.

And by the time we arrived back at the parking lot the sun was very warm and intense, creating a glowing baby. Dada was doing something super funny at the time and it made him giggle like mad.


And then he turned and smiled for the lady with the camera. Precious!

Roasted Tomato Gigante Bean Salad

Let me just say that I might have a new favorite bean. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my pinto, black bean, cannelini, and most of all, garbanzos, but there is a new kid on my block and I’m falling hard for him. He goes by the name of Gigante, sometimes Gigande, and I’ve even seen some people use Giganti. He’s totally beefy and much larger than your average bean. Here’s a photo for comparison (note: all of these beans are steamy and at their fully erect size).

And here you can see him from the side—see, super beefy, right?

His texture is soft yet firm, but totally creamy melt-in-your-mouth. Oh, em, gee…I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Oh, and look who spotted one of his favorite foods (and don’t worry your cute little pants off as I disinfected the cutting board after letting him enjoy this mid-afternoon snack.) Anyone else have a cat with a penchant for beans? He plays no favorites and loves them all—so weird!

But here’s the catch—Mr. Gigande is incredibly elusive. I thought Rainbow Grocery, with their extensive bulk bean selection, would for surely carry him. After all they carry peruano beans, ayacote morado beans, black calypso beans, and Santa Maria pinquinto beans! But woe is me after not finding my beloved Gigante there.

Beans at Rainbow

I then went to Whole Foods to see if he might be there. Since I have been meeting him there for our regular trysts at the salad bar for months now, surely they would stock him in bulk! But no such luck for me at Whole Foods and I walked out the door empty handed.

Hmmm…I didn’t want to have to go back to his native land, Greece, to track him down. On the other hand, maybe that would be the perfect excuse for a trip? Either way, I wanted to be able to see him more frequently—like every day. I wanted to be able to find him here and enjoy him when it strikes my fancy!

So I was then reduced to stalking him on the internet: “Where the hell can I find Gigante beans in the Bay Area?” was my Google search. It became clear to me through this search that I am not the only one who has fallen for him—apparently he’s quite the charmer and has made the rounds—but it seems that he’s not just elusive with me, as others were having the same trouble locating him as well. I did; however, discover that someone had spotted him at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market from Iacopi Farms in Half Moon Bay. Bingo! Just as I was beginning to lose hope, suddenly my spirits started to lift.

On Saturday I dressed in my finest Farmer’s Market garb (thank god he prefers the athletic look because I was not about to hike up SF hills in heels) and trucked my booty to the Ferry Building.

Wahoo! FINALLY! I found him!

After I returned home, I got busy in the kitchen with Mr. Gigante and created this amazeball dish!

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Gigante Bean Salad

  • 1 pound dry gigante beans
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 green onions

Rinse your beans and soak them in water for 8 hours or overnight. Make sure there is 8 inches or more of water above your beans as they will soak up way more than you’d think.

Soaking Beans

After that, strain and rinse them. Also, remove any deformed or discolored beans like the one on the right. That happened to be the only sad bean I found in the bunch.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash, slice, and deseed your tomatoes and then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place them in the oven.

Let the tomatoes roast for 30 minutes and then pull them out and turn them over to roast on the other side. This is what mine looked like after 30 minutes. After turning them over, pop them back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

While they’re roasting, thinly slice the green onions and mix them with the beans.

After the tomatoes have roasted for at least an hour, you can pull them out of the oven. If you wish, you can roast them for several hours; the longer you roast the more intense their flavor will become. Here’s what mine looked like after an hour.

Chop the tomatoes and fold them into the beans and onions. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

I am totally over the moon for Mr. Gigande and this dish. I’m also massively happy that I made a hefty amount and will be able to enjoy it throughout the week!