Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grilled Corn with Toppings -- Santa Cruz and Inverness -- Northern California

Do you like to travel and then come home and relive your travel memories by making the food you ate on vacation.  On our recent family summer vacation we went to Santa Cruz, California!  The Santa Cruz Boardwalk features carnival-type food and games, great thrill rides and a great swimming beach!  Santa Cruz was my children's favorite part of the trip.  On the Boardwalk you can  find Deep Fried Twinkies, Funnel Cake, and grilled corn with toppings.  All of these food offerings were quite popular.  I will include some photos first of Santa Cruz and then we will travel to Inverness.  You can't find two more dissimilar coast locations than Santa Cruz and Inverness.  At the end of the post, I will show you the grilled corn I made and the  toppings.

I loved riding on the SkyCoaster as you had such a great view of the Boardwalk, the rides and the ocean.  It was Dollar Night at the Boardwalk.  There is no entrance fee and all the rides were one dollar, no exclusions.  Hot dogs, pop, and cotton candy were also just one dollar.  Even though it was dollar night, there really wasn't a lot of waiting.

The Giant Dipper, the classic white wooden structure. is a wooden roller coaster that has been named a National Landmark.  Over 50 million, that includes me, people have taken a ride on the Giant Dipper; it first opened in 1924.   As I get older roller coasters just don't appeal to me like they used to.  Since it was a National Landmark I HAD to ride and I conned my husband to ride too!  I DID open my eyes three times during the ride....honestly I did!

My son rode the 125 foot  Double Shot...not me!

The log ride was a hoot!

There's just something about rides on a beach.

At Seabright State Park, which is adjacent to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, there is a small lighthouse.  At night you can build a fire in the fire pits on the beach.

There are lifeguards on duty and this area in Santa Cruz is probably the most swimmable, temperature-wise, beach in Northern California.

Since my son had never body surfed before, it was good that there were lifeguards.

After two days at Santa Cruz, we traveled to Inverness to spend some time with a friend.  Joan has a share of a house in Inverness which means that she is able to spend about nine weeks a year there.  Inverness is in west Marin County, located on Tomales Bay, and is about an hour north of San Francisco.

There is Spanish moss in the trees and a huge amount of vegetation at Joan's vacation home.  There is an osprey nesting in one of her trees.

Convenient t to Inverness is Chimney Rock Beach.  Even though it wasn't low tide, the kids were able to climb over the rocks and find some sea life.

Sea Stars

 Sea Anemone

I sat on the beach and enjoyed an otter surfacing  from time to time while he was eating.  My husband and children explored on the rocks.  Years ago, on an earlier trip, at Chimney Rock, we were able to witness seals released from captivity.  As the seals were released they tried to come back to shore and the volunteers had boards to keep them from coming back.  It was an amazing sight.

The weather on the Northern California Coast is very changeable.  Fog began to roll in.

By the time we went to Point Reyes Lighthouse, we were fogged in.  Point Reyes is the foggiest and windiest place on the Pacific Coast.  It WAS cold, wet, and windy!  To get to the lighthouse it is about a mile walk and then another 308 stair steps.   At the visitor's center, there was a sign saying that  "grey juvenile whales" could be spotted today.  We weren't disappointed!  Because we were high above we were able to spot them so well.  Unfortunately, my older children, who at first decided that they didn't want to make the jaunt to the lighthouse, weren't able to see them!  They later came, but the whales had moved on.

Point Reyes Lighthouse in the fog.

Point Reyes was first opened in 1870 and decommissioned in 1975.  In 1951, Clint Eastwood crashed in a military airplane about 2 miles north of Point Reyes.  With the help of a lifeboat, he was able to make it safely to shore, which would have been no small feat in these waters.  There is a beautiful Fresnel lens in the lighthouse.  On the way up the stairs, which seems longer somehow than the way down, are numbered.

My children went back to school yesterday so that is a sign that summer is official over for us.  I have enjoyed showing you the sights and food inspired by our trip.  See below for my version of corn served on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Grilled Corn With Toppings

The corn before grilling.

At the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, grilled corn was a popular item, for $4.00 per ear of corn!  There were many toppings to enhance the flavor of the corn.  To grill corn, peel back the husks and remove the corn silk.  If there are a lot of husks, remove some so that the heat of the barbecue can reach the corn.  At this point, some people to prefer to soak the corn and husk in cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn on the barbecue grill to high, then lower to medium heat.  Brush corn with butter or olive oil.  Pull husks over corn and put a little bit of kitchen twine to secure husks better to corn.  Put corn on grill and grill until done, about 8 to 15 minutes, turning frequently.  This is the tricky part.  Just experiment with the time and watch the corn closely.

I topped mine, from left to right, with prepared roasted garlic, prepared pesto, and brown butter and freshly cracked pepper.  I loved the brown better best.   The toppings are endless; you could top your corn with Parmesan cheese, bruschetta, salsa, sour cream and chili powder, and the list goes on and on.  Be careful not to smother the wonderful taste of fresh corn with too much topping.

=Thank you for stopping by Red Couch Recipes and helping me finish my tour to Northern California!

Posted with the following:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lemon Lemony Cup Cakes -- San Francisco -- Northern California Week

Hi, everyone, just have some more pictures to share with you on our Northern California trip!  We DID leave our hearts in San Francisco.  There is so much to do!

Cow Hollow District
 Being in San Francisco inspired me to make the Lemon Lemony Cupcake pictured above; the recipe and instructions are at the end of my post.  My 16 year old son said that the "Lemon Lemony Cupcake" was "almost as good" as the cupcakes at Kara's Cupcakes!  Kara sells cupcakes in Northern California.  There is an outlet in the Cow Hollow District.  The Key Lime Cupcakes at Kara's are the best cupcakes I have ever eaten.  Okay, so they are not cheap --- $3.25 per cupcake, but really you need to try them if you can!  Although I didn't know this when we made our visit, Kara was a contestant on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars this summer.

While we were in San Francisco we stayed at the Cow Hollow Motor Inn.  It was a lovely motel, with free parking, on Lombard Street and Steiner.  Bonnie, who writes the blog City Home/Country Home visits San Francisco at least once a year and had recommended Cow Hollow Motor Inn when she wrote a "What We Ate" review of her trip.  Drop by her blog; I enjoy reading it!  She also was so kind enough to give me lots of other tips about where to eat and what to do in San Francisco.  Thanks Bonnie!

This is a view from our motel room of the The City.  In the bottom left-hand corner is Mel's Diner which has been a San Francisco tradition for over sixty years.

We ate at Johnny  Rockets.  It is a fun diner to go to with your kids.  We had the best waitress who, without asking, brought our two youngest hot water, lemons, and honey to nurse their colds they were suffering from.  Each table has a mini juke box   where you can put in a nickel and they will play your song.  The prices were on the inexpensive side and the food was good diner food.  You can get a nice-sized patty melt and fries for $6.00.

A grocery store display of food on Chestnut Street.  The Cow Hollow area has every service you could desire.  There is a small Pottery Barn, a bookstore, bakeries, an Italian Deli, a movie theater, an Apple store, and an ice cream and candy store....just to mention a few of its offerings.

The Cow Hollow area has many homes similar to these and all it takes is a nice walk to get you to the Marina.

The famous Lombard Street!  I attempted to drive UP the hill to drive down the curvy part....I would not recommend doing this with a stick shift!  I chickened out...or dare I say the smell of asbestos from my clutch told me not to go any further.  There is a staircase adjacent to the curvy part and we had a nice walk down.

We found the cable cars to be really fun to ride.  Bonnie had suggested going on the California line, which we did, because there was no waiting! 

View from California Line

We also rode one of the other two lines.  We loved the conductor who pelted us tourists with lines such as "Thanks for leaving tourists," as people were leaving the cable car.  My favorite line as he was squeezing through the crowd to collect fares was "No squeezing my muscles or pinching my bootie....sometimes the ladies get fresh, really fresh!"

We didn't always take cable cars; we walked and walked and walked!  This is a view from Hyde Street.  That's Alcatraz to the right.

The Wharf Area

The Wharf area is always alive!  We loved the street performers, especially the band.

This guy was on a unicycle with a strait jacket.  He was able to get out of the strait jacket while cycling.

The "Golden Guy."

Have some crab!

Have some chocolate!

Eat some bread at Boudin's.  They pipe out the smell of baking bread to the street, really they do!

Watch the antics of the seals.  After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the seals came and stayed at Pier 39.

My kids enjoyed the Musee Mecanique where for 25 or 50 cents you can have some fun with antique coin operated arcade games or player pianos.  The Musee Mecanique was shown on the original Princess Diaries movie.

Golden Gate Bridge

It seems as if everyone has to walk or bike across Golden Gate Bridge.  It is a beautiful structure with great views of the San Francisco Bay.  It is a suspension bridge.  Our motel was right on Lombard Street; Lombard Street leads to 101 North , or 1 North, which takes you over the bridge.  It is free to leave the city and I believe it is $6.00 to enter the city.  The Bridge is not golden, but rather a rust color, officially called vermilion orange. 

Unfortunately, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular suicide location in the world.  There are at least two locations where there are crisis line phones.

Most of the over 1200 people who have attempted to commit suicide have succeeded.  There is a 98 per cent fatality rate.  I believe they stopped keeping records in 2005.   It is estimated a suicide from Golden Gate Bridge occurs every two weeks.  In 2009, 31 people committed suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.  As of 2006 only 26 have survived.  One man who did survive, said that as he was jumping, all of the things that he was worried about he realized were fixable...except the jump.  Thankfully he survived. 

Lemon Lemony Cupcakes

These were really good and really tart and sweet at the same time.  The cupcake recipe is from Martha Stewart I found it at Squidoo.com   The frosting recipe was adapted from a recipe from my sister Jacqueline at Purple Chocolat Home.  These cupcakes consist of cupcakes, lemon curd, and frosting. 

(Makes 24 cupcakes.)

Cupcake Instructions:

3 cups flour (all-purpose)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Grated zest of 3 lemons or about 3 tablespoons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Mix butter and sugar together with mixer at medium speed.  Add eggs one at a time, until mixed well, then add zest and vanilla.  Add flour mixture in three batches with two batches of buttermilk and lemon juice in between. Beat until just combined after each addition.  Place batter in lined cups filling about three-quarters full.  Bake until golden, cake tester comes out clean or about 25 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the muffin tins.

Lemon Curd Instructions:
When cupcakes are cool, pipe frosting into cupcakes to fill them or spread a thin layer of lemon curd on top of each cupcake.  If you like sweet, do both! 

Frosting Instructions:

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4  cup lemon curd, use Trader Joe's or Dickinson's brands.
4 3/4 cups to 5 cups  powdered sugar

In large mixing bowl, beat all ingredients together. Add additional powdered sugar if necessary to have frosting be stiff enough, yet fluffy.

I found this cake server at Ross this summer.  His tail is the cake server!

Thank you for dropping by my RED COUCH. 

Posting this with the following:

Tickled Pink at 504 Main
TGIF at Serenity Now
Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Northern California --- Chinatown Inspired Tablescape

Hi and welcome to Red Couch Recipes and my San Francisco's Chinatown inspired table.  Also Welcome to Tablescape Thursday.  The picture below is of a sidewalk tablesetting at an Asian restaurant, not in Chinatown,  in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco.  I liked the upside down plates.

This is the placesetting.  I like the floral salad plates with the black and white napkins.  What do you think?  The color red, has great significance to the Chinese people.  There is even a very vibrant red called Chinese Red.

I don't really specialize in centerpieces, but I put this together with some Barberry from the bushes in our backyard.  I think the branches of the bush look a bit Asian.

Here's a sideview of the tablesetting.  My husband and I are pretty good at using chopsticks.  How about you?  When we were dating we had "our" restaurant -- Tu's Hunan in Sacramento.  We had our wedding luncheon there.  Tu's Kung Pao Chicken and Moo Shu Pork were excellent.  Unfortunately, we found out that the restaurant had a fire and is no longer in business.

Here's the view of the light shining through the red glasses.

My sister Jacqueline  -- Purple Chocolat Home --gave me this Chinese dragon puppet years ago. When I was in college Jacqeline and I used to be into a Chinese cooking phase.  We would get together and whip up a great Chinese feast in no time at all.  Someday I will post one of our favorites -- a lemon chicken dish I have been making for years.  I have been in San Francisco's Chinatown during New Years.  It is quite a treat to see the huge New Year's dragon come by.  It is a very festive occasion.


I bought the brass Chinese character wall hangings years ago in Chinatown.  The characters mean "Double Happiness."  I DO wish you "Double Happiness."  This character is often stamped on traditional Chinese wedding invitations.

We served Chinese Almond Cookies tonight.  We were not really thrilled with Chinese bakery goods in Chinatown so I came home and made some cookies.  Click here for the recipe on yesterday's blog entry where I show the sights of San Francisco's Chinatown.  My son can't wait until after dinner to eat one.

A taste of China!

I thank you for taking the time to visit me today at Red Couch Recipes.  Like the Chinese, I love the color RED!

Tablescape Information:
White Plates:   Tai Pan Trading
Black Plates:  Wal-Mart
Red Floral Plates:  Wal-Mart this year
Red Goblets:  Costco
Napkins:  Fabric from Wal-Mart
Brass Chinese Characters:  San Francisco Chinatown
Dragon Puppet:  Present from sister

I am posting this with the following:

Style Sisters Centerpiece Wednesday
Between Naps on the Porch Tablescape Thursday