Steamed Clams with Purple Potatoes

This recipe turned out to be quite an endeavor given my complete unfamiliarity with mollusks. I've heard the best place in town to buy fresh seafood is the Fish Lady in Soquel, so I made my way down there one Sunday afternoon planning to buy clams for the first time ever. My naïveté soon shone to a whole new level as I waited in line at the glass case displaying the daily catch... I was eyeing all of the items in the case when I swore out of the corner of my eye I saw the little clams move in the bowl. I thought clams were, like, you know, dead when you buy them at the store. Apparently not... I've never cooked anything living and certainly had no intention of starting that day. I booked it to the Whole Foods down the street and picked up perfectly fine, albeit slightly less fresh clams that were completely closed, modestly containing their innards in their innocuous shells. A good scrubbing and steam later, they were perfect! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs little neck clams, washed and scrubbed
  • 2 pieces bacon
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 4-5 small fingerling potatoes (I used purple)
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provonce
  • salt & pepper to taste

Extra options

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup cream

Directions

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until done but not crispy, set aside and chop to bits when cool. In the bacon fat reserved in the pan, add the garlic and shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and let simmer down for 5 minutes, then add the chicken broth. Add the bacon bits, clams, carrots, potatoes, and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rolling simmer, cover with a lid, and cook until the clams open up. Remove from the heat and *if* you want extra rich flavor, add the butter and the cream and stir. Serve immediately. Serve with sourdough bread for dipping, or over a bed of linguine. 

Life Lately, according to my iPhone

Gosh, there are a lot of photos in my phone and they're all over the place. Despite what may seem, life lately has been pretty mellow and Brent and I have gotten to spend a lot of quality time together after traveling apart so much over the summer and fall seasons. This time together is sort of a new trend for us, and I'm really enjoying it... he's pretty darn fun to be married to. The next few weeks I'll be busy with conferences for work and although I am excited for it, I am also looking forward to a quiet month in March. 

Here are a few random snapshots from my phone...

1. Traveling for work; I've got the long flights pretty well figured out by now with a cocktail and Downton Abbey on my iPad. And the long day/time changes aren't so bad when you can order room service in the middle of the night ;)

2. Brent signed us up for a race in November, and he of course won the whole darn 10K. I only did the 5K and was just glad for the free beer afterwards. Rudy did the 5K with me, and enjoyed his free doggy bone. 

3. Santa Cruz sunsets... *sigh* I try to make sure I catch at least one a week before I head home to the redwoods.

4. A snapshot of Brent on our 10 year anniversary. We had a quiet night at home, cheaped out on dinner (frozen pizza) and went big on a fancy bottle of champagne instead - priorities! We went through a little cigar box of our memories; I keep of every note he's ever written me, ticket stubs, corks, polaroids, etc. I'm going to need a new one soon because this one is full! 

5. A photo of me and a very stressed-out Rudybega at Beer Thirty, in front the first public showing of my art! They were having a very busy, successful event that night and Rudy wasn't too happy with the crowd and noise, but he was a good sport for me.

6. I spent New Years in San Francisco with my family, and was especially glad to have the time with my mom. Believe it or not I made it to midnight, but certainly not long after. 

7. It's not really New Years unless Leslie and I go overboard on cheese. This is some of the selection at my new favorite store in the city, Cheese Plus. Everyone in there is as excited about cheese as I am, and they let you try endless samples of the cheese, meats, and pâté. Basically, it's my own personal heaven. 

8. My Boobear hasn't been doing so well lately. He has lost a lot of weight and hasn't seemed like himself, but we've been giving him a lot of extra love and attention, forgiving him for some bad cat behavior, and trying to keep him as comfortable as possible. I'm hoping he'll hang around with us for a while longer, but I'm thankful for the many years I've had with him and just hope he'll have a peaceful end of life. 

9. Tubby and Rudy have been forming a little bond over sharing the bed my mom and Kathy got for Rudy when we were in AZ. It's pretty ridiculously cute and I'm hoping for some serious spooning soon.

10. Brent and I escaped the Santa Cruz rain a couple of weeks ago, and went on a date in Monterey at Alvarado Street Brewery. Beer is good of course, but the brussels sprouts are DIVINE. 

11. Just a quiet Sunday morning - I took myself and a good book to breakfast at Rocky's.

12. Well, we are officially out of our record drought up here after all of these big storms passed through. Thankfully our property held up well, and Rudy and I have been enjoying waterfall hunting on our walks through the neighborhood. It's a pretty magical place to live.

So long, 2016

I can't say I'm going to miss 2016... I'm actually happy to see its backside. I will take some happy memories made along with me, like buying our home, our family trip to Hawaii, and making really great friends at work.  Not to mention celebrating 10 years with Brent! You know something strange? I was recently chatting with my Aunt Leslie about our first dates when we were kids, and I suddenly realized that Brent was my very first date!  When we were 16, he took me to see Pearl Harbor at the AMC Mesa Grand theater on Stapley Drive.  I would like to say I'll never forget it, but I did for about 15 years!  But, I digress.

I want to promise I'll spend more time here in 2017, but that has honestly been my intention for the last two years and it hasn't turned out that great.  I am most definitely going to officially start my little side business this year; I've already got the paperwork started. I am hoping this summer I will be spending it neck-deep in projects in a new Tuff Shed, so I think I should have plenty to share.

And, I figure if I'm going to start a side business, I better get on Facebook to increase my reach. I am still NOT going to be active on a personal level with Facebook - I'm still really enjoying my freedom from it. But, I will have some posts to share and I have a fabulous marketing-minded friend who is willing to help me manage it. Here is the link, please like it while you're there if you don't mind ;)

A visit to Fall Creek on Christmas Day 2016

Long time, no see

It has been a while; I have so much to share and so much for which to be grateful. But as of late, it has been difficult to move the clouds from my mind to focus on that which I know makes me such a lucky woman. Life lately has seemed like a series of time-lapse videos moving rapidly without sound, nothing but blurred images quickly passing by. It is of course beautiful, it always is. It's my lack of connection to it that poses the issue. It's hard to come here and make little curated photo albums when it doesn't feel true or relevant. I can feel an immense sadness building which I run from each day with longer work hours than are necessary, books, and scrolling mindlessly through everyone else's happy photo albums. If I stop to breathe it will catch up with me, I just know it.  

I'll dig myself out of it - I always do. It will probably be helpful to re-live the happier moments of this past summer by documenting our weekend getaways, settling into our home, and our first trip to Hawaii. Just need to wake up every morning and focus. Easier said than done for me, usually... but I'll do my best.

Podcast Recap | New Favs

Life is crazy; I don't have much time to dedicate to this place right now, but I can at least share what's been keeping me company at work as of late - my new favorite podcasts! Enjoy :) xoxo

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My Favorite Murder

This comedy true crime podcast is my newest obsession, of proportions only matched by my 2015 Gilmore Guys era. I love listening to the witty banter between these two ladies with whom I share not only an affinity for the most gruesome of true crime stories, but also loud cats, vintage decor, and sarcasm. Oh, and they curse like sailors. I'm pretty sure we would be BFFs if we ever met in person.

Start with any episode. It's all golden.

Revisionist History

I've read and loved three of five of Malcolm Gladwell's books (Outliers, The Tipping Point, & David and Goliath). When I saw he was starting a podcast, I knew it would be love at first listen. Each episode revisits and explores a topic from the past that has been forgotten or misunderstood. Episode topics range from the Toyota sticky accelerator scandal of 2009 to Wilt Chamberlain's underhand free throw, and all are incredibly interesting to listen to. Highly recommend!

Start with episode 1 and listen through - there are only going to be 10 episodes, and all have been interesting so far.

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Magic Lessons 

I just discovered this one and it's filling the void Design Matters has left in me during their summer break. Hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, the show is comprised of interviews with every day individuals who have written in to her show seeking advice in accomplishing their creative goals. She interviews them, and then often interviews famous authors, photographers, etc. to get their input and advice for helping break through whatever is blocking them in their creative journey. It's a really positive, exciting podcast to listen to, especially since I can relate so much to the people she interviews. 

There Goes the Neighborhood 

I found this podcast through Radio Lab, and I usually love anything on Radio Lab... it did not disappoint. There Goes the Neighborhood examined the gentrification movement in Brooklyn, which I found particularly compelling mostly because of the interviews they did with a good variety of people personally affected by the changes. 

Albeit on a smaller scale, I'm sure parallels can be drawn in anyone's neighborhood to the changes illustrated by this program. I found it particularly interesting after I visited Oakland a couple of years ago and noticed the striking disparity between the city blocks as I walked through the neighborhoods. Definitely worth a listen to the whole series.

 

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