Geocaching: Lunchtime Treasure Hunts!

Geocaching: Lunchtime Treasure Hunts!

Darling Sister,

Im so excited to share this app with you. Geocaching is a outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices (your phone). Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

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During lunchtime today, we tried our first Geocache. This was the first clue (they are in the titles of the caches) Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough. I won’t reveal how that played into finding it. The GPS alerts you when you are within 30 feet of the hidden container. We spent around fifteen minutes searching and going over the clues. If you are really stuck there are hints and photos to help you locate it.

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Our handles are MAYONAISE and THE MYSTERY PARADE

Some tell you ahead of time to bring a pen or pencil. We didn’t realize that till we discovered it, and borrowed a pen from a business-lady nearby. Log your discovery on the app, and add some words.

Fired up from our find, we headed to the next closest point on the map – general vicinity of the Exploratorium. This one was super fun because the summary offered the clues. “Through air, elevated flows, cut between, surface arrows show, by wind, chorused voices sometimes blow.”

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Score!

The Mystery Parade solved the riddle on this one. You put them back exactly where you found them (discreetly) and move on to the next.

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We stopped to try out the rickshaw obscura in front of the Exploratorium.

The third location was a bust. We could not find it, but saw that someone located it 4 days ago. We logged – stating we did not find it. Maybe you can find it! It’s on the corner of Mission and Steuart. “One to All”.

Container sizes can vary from small to large, so keep you mind open.

Tomorrow we will set out again during lunch to locate more treasure! This is a fantastic way to invigorate our lunchtime Fitbit steps. We should try it out on the weekends around Martinez, there are tons in the hills.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

Oolong Noodles

Oolong Noodles

Darling Sister,

We went for a walk today into Chinatown to find this famous custard cup bakery, that was unfortunately closed. But, on the walk back on Washington – saw this sign.

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Decided to be adventurous and give it a try. We could see this man through the window rolling out fresh noodles!

I ordered mushrooms with tofu, and added a soft boiled egg soaked in tea.

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While waiting, I made a buggey-eyed friend.

Back to the office – it was too windy out to eat on one of the rooftop gardens.

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Fresh veggies, and fresh noodles. I definitely recommend if you are in the area.

I will post again when the famous custard cup bakery is open. In the meantime – this place is called Oolong Noodles on Washington, between Kearny and Columbus.

Later!

Banoffee Pie: Take One

Banoffee Pie: Take One

Darling Sister:

We were requested to find a serviceable recipe for a dessert I had never heard of before: Banoffee Pie. I was intrigued as I read through descriptions of a crumb crust, caramel-like base, sliced bananas, and whipped cream.  As I drafted a plan of attack, I imagined that this british confection was going to come out flat and over sweet, a taste only an aficionado could appreciate. Instead, with a couple of tweaks, the resultant pie is a hit – balanced flavor, a little freshness from fruit and cream, and great textures: crunchy crust, chewy toffee, and fluffy cream.  I am a little in love with this dessert!

I can’t wait to hear if this version passes muster with someone who has actually tasted the real thing. After surveying recipes and approaches, I opted for a quicker path to toffee base than simmering condensed milk in a water bath for 2 hours.  There’s always room for a second attempt – I know folks around this house won’t mind one bit!

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The finished pie, perfect for a summer night!

 

Banoffee Pie: Bananas, Toffee, and Cream

This recipe, adapted from this one calls for a roll of English tea crackers, digestive biscuits or similar. I found them on the end cap of my local grocer’s shelves, along with a small assortment of other imported british foods: clotted cream, and some sort of pudding in a can.  They come in a round tube. If you are unable to locate these locally, you are looking for an unsweet cookie…I imagine animal crackers would fit the bill (the plain ones, not pink-and-whites).

For the crust, you will need:

  • One stick of unsalted butter
  • One 10-ounce package of tea crackers or digestive biscuits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt one stick of butter over medium-low heat. While the butter is melting, pulse the cookies in a food processor (or put them in a doubled ziploc and whack them with a heavy object) to fine crumbs. Once the butter has melted, add it to the crumbs and whizz to combine.

Press the buttered crumbs into a high-sided pie tin or 9-inch springform pan. Use a water glass or square-sided measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pop the finished crust into the oven for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove and set aside.

Use a water glass to firmly pack the crust.

Use a water glass to firmly pack the crust.

For the toffee you will need:

  • One stick of unsalted butter
  • One 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered instant espresso

In your small saucepan from the prior step, melt the butter and sugar together over medium-low heat. Add the condensed milk, salt, and espresso and bring to a bubble, stirring regularly – it will bubble up around the edges of the pan, and darken just slightly. Let it bubble for about a minute, then remove from heat and pour into the prepared crust. Refrigerate the crust and toffee until quite cool – one to two hours.

Adding the condensed milk to the bubbling sugar and butter...things are happening!

Adding the condensed milk to the bubbling sugar and butter…things are happening!

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The lovely toffee, ready for a rest in the fridge.

 

For the cream, you will need:

  • One pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (or less if, like me, you prefer a relatively unsweet whipped cream)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Whip the cream with a mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla, then whip until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the pie, you’ll need:

  • 4 ripe bananas, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Layer the sliced bananas onto the cooled toffee. Top with whipped cream. Finish with chocolate shavings to make it pretty – you can grate a chocolate bar using a micro planer or make curls using a potato peeler. If using a springform pan, remove the side walls before slicing and serving.

Lovely ripe bananas.

Lovely ripe bananas.

Whipped cream.

Whipped cream.

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Chocolate shavings, for interest.

 

This has kept well in my refrigerator, uncovered, overnight. If my whipped cream stays stable, it might make it two nights (if my husband doesn’t eat it all first!). If you need to make ahead and the cake will be sitting out (and you don’t want your whipped cream to deflate), whip in 2-4 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese as you’re whipping the cream, it’ll keep it stable.

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Always learning something new,

XOXO

 

Great Aunt Dorth’s Sherry Cake

Great Aunt Dorth’s Sherry Cake

Darling Sister:

Do you remember going to visit the Aunties when they lived together in that big old house in Parlier? Three sisters who each lead amazing, independent lives moved back in together and held court for friends, relatives, and wide-eyed grandnieces in what seemed like a wonderland house on Picnic Lane.

I remember Aunt Dorth for seeming exceptionally kind.  It turns out she also had a great knack in the kitchen, because Mom attributes this awesome, whip-up-in-a-flash cake to her. I recommend you always keep a box of yellow cake mix in your freezer because it lasts forever and you can turn this cake out in 40 minutes flat, but nobody will believe you.

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Great Aunt Dorth’s Sherry Cake

Don’t worry about the booze – the batter will taste VERY boozy if you sample the leavings in the bowl. It will all cook off…trust.

In a medium bowl, follow the instructions on one box yellow cake mix, replacing water with an equal amount of sherry.  I prefer the “pudding in the mix” style cake mix, it seems to cook up moistest.  Use a whisk to blend the ingredients into a mostly smooth batter.  Then add in:

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pour into a prepared baking pan (bundt or sheet pan, your preference) and bake as directed.  You can ice the finished cake with a little lemon-powdered sugar slurry if you like, but I honestly prefer it plain – the dark toothsome crust is a great contrast to the sweet and tender interior and the spices hit just the right notes.

Bon appétit!

XOXO

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Gas Lamp Hidden Gem

Gas Lamp Hidden Gem

Darling Sister,

On my daily walk today, I stumbled upon a hidden gem!

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One Jackson Place is a historic part of the city, that is home to a bunch of fancy-schmancy businesses, and a coffee stand that serves Sightglass coffee and espresso.

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There are beautiful, real, gas lamps lining the brick walkway.

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Plenty of seating and greenery to relax and really step away from the “city”.

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So if you are ever in the area, and in the mood for a coffee or pastry, check this place out.

Later!

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