How many of you could handle a week without cell phones, TV or internet? No really…none of them. If you think you cango without technology for a week and you like the outdoors, I highly recommend trying one of San Francisco’s “best
kept secrets” for families – Camp Mather up in Yosemite National Park (technically just outside the park in Groveland, CA). Oaks, Cedars and Ponderosa Pines canopy over tiny cabins that keep you
warm at night. For many, the family camp has been a San Francisco tradition for generations. This Jersey-girl fell in love with Yosemite at first sight, so it was a no-brainer for me.
Aside from being in pure nature and doing things out of your normal city element – like taking an archery lesson, one of the best things about Camp Mather is that you don’t have to worry about your meals. You get 3 delicious fresh meals a day served to you by perky college kids working hard during summer break – old-fashioned style – in a mess hall, with dinner bell and all! OK, this is starting to sound corny, but it’s just great and the food was really good. Of course, I had to tour the kitchen and get the scoop on how it is they manage to serve 90,000 meals a summer (500 people a week x 3 meals a day).
So how do you feed an army of 500 people 3 times a day all summer long?
- Prep a day ahead with enough hands on deck. Delegate.
- Plan a good variety between vegetarians, kids and everyone else.
- Serving cafeteria style vs. family style keeps the food hot and fresh.
- Keep the bears out of the kitchen! They get in sometimes :0)
Thanks to Chef Mike Cunnane and Cook Allison Murnin for the tour and inside scoop behind Mather’s beloved Dining Hall secrets. My favorites were Thursday night’s hearty Eggplant Parmesan and delicious Tilapia a la Murnin and the freshly baked breads and dessert and every breakfast, oh and the sweet cantaloupe…thank goodness for the gazillion hiking trails that kept us going in between meals :0)
Can’t wait till next summer already.
So we have about a month of pumpkin recipes to go before they seem “so last season.” I, personally never get tired of everything pumpkin this time of year, especially pumpkin-spiced recipes. Maybe it’s because I LOVE the Fall – even if “Fall” seems to be the shortest season these days.
Here’s a good one I came up with while in search of inspiration for a new week’s worth of home cooking. As I was flipping through a stack of food magazines (more fun than searching for recipes online), a pumpkin whipped cream recipe in Food & Wine caught my eye and led me to crave a Spiked Pumpkin Coffee! Try this adult beverage for some fall-inspired fun:
Tuaca & Pumpkin Cream:
- 2 1/2 oz hot coffee
- 1 1/2 oz Tuaca
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 oz pumpkin cream
Pumpkin Whipped Cream: Beat together 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin puree until soft peaks form (thanks Food & Wine Magazine).
As for technique: Pour your hot coffee into a pre-heated coffee glass or mug (al la Buena Vista). Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Add Tuaca and top with your homemade pumpkin cream. Voila.
Inspiration works in mysterious ways. Yummy!
Roots of a Clueless Cook
I want to hear from all my fellow clueless friends out there. Is your kitchen the least used room in your house or apartment? Are you finally getting tired of eating out or microwaving dinner almost every night? Are you feeling the pinch of eating out but the idea of cooking a meal exhausts you because you just don’t get the kitchen?
Tell me your story. I want to know why you don’t cook. Here’s mine:
I was raised by my grandmas, who are still amazing cooks. Problem is, they spoiled me and thought they were doing me a favor by serving me delicious food, cleaning up after me and not letting me in the kitchen. Mom was proud to admit that she burned popcorn. Working all the time – cooking was something she didn’t “do.” With this background and living near NYC, I became obsessed with restaurants in my teens – a restauranteur Greek boyfriend may have helped that passion along. Quickly growing into NYC-bred work-aholism, eating out became the norm. Flash-forward 15 years and I’m in my 30’s, newlywed, who knows about all the great restaurants – but exhausted of eating out and burning food at home. I am on a mission to help put a dent in this epidemic!
My theory is that people like me, who don’t cook, don’t do “it” because we don’t know where to begin, don’t know “how” to do “it.” I bet if we knew the basics, like basic French or Spanish, per se, we’d speak and cook a little more often – maybe travel more.
Anyway – not to get off track: Are You Clueless in The Kitchen? Please tell me about it and examine the root.
Pizza Tossing Class with 9-time Champ, Tony Gemignani
Just when you start to believe that you are useless in the kitchen, you also realize that it’s not “cute” to be clueless anymore! I was invited to a “Pizza Party” with 9-time World Champ, Tony Gemignani, at the Dacor Showroom in South San Francisco and volunteered to be a “student” with no expectations except that I would certainly throw dough on someone’s head! This photo is proof that ANYONE can learn how to cook or at least toss pizza like a pro (if you just “throw” yourself out there). All you need to do is find a good teacher and listen carefully. After a few cuts, scrapes and burns (minor hopefully), you’ll be on your way – like I am. Share your learning epiphanies here!
Photo credit: Kira Stackhouse, Nuena Photography
Pizza Champ, Tony Gemignani, Works the Crowd