Sunday, March 10, 2013

Take 20 - Tax Time or On my way to San Francisco

On Caltrain, leaving San Jose Diridon Station

1st stop Santa Clara

It's tax time and my husband David does our taxes. He has always done them but now it has become more complicated since we are filing two reports for the US and one for Canada, so double the trouble or pleasure, depending on your point of view. Where am I going with all of this talk about tax returns? Well, this is when David turns into a person I hardly know.

Next stop, Lawrence

The mood has to be just right, the papers put a certain way and particularly I, have to be out of the way. Reminds me of someone in a very distant past life who would become a very emotional man when painting a room. So emotional that staying there would have qualified me for instant excommunication from the Catholic church by osmosis. So, of course, I would choose not to be there to watch the blasphemous process but rather back later to admire da Vinci's masterpiece. But, I digress ....

Next stop, Sunnyvale.

In this case, I was dispatched to San Francisco for a ME Day. Financial concerns thrown to the wind, as everyone knows how San Fran can be mighty tempting and at times, quite expensive.

Next stop, Mountain View.

I love travelling by train. It's calming and while you can do so many things, I choose to just stare out the window as the scenery and the stations go by. So, for now, if you will leave me with my thoughts on this 88 minute train ride. Aaaaah !

All of the other stops: San Antonio, California Avenue, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont, Hillsdale, Hayward Park, San Mateo, Burlingame,
Millbrae, San Bruno, So. San Francisco, Bayshore, 22nd Street.

So, once off the train at 22nd Street, a station I had never exited from, I was at a loss to find the bus stop for Bus 48. The map on my phone said it was located at 22nd and Iowa. However, I searched,I looked, I walked back and forth a couple of time and just couldn't find it when all of a sudden, there it was !  Printed on a post, as this photo will attest. 

Also, while on a Muni bus in San Fran, I first saw a group boarding the bus with a dog. Okey, I mused. Then, a few stops later another lady boards with a dog. Curiouser and Curiouser ! Upon exiting I asked the driver what was up with the dogs on the bus and here is the thing: dogs are allowed on San Francisco buses outside rush hour. Whot?!  If your dog is a service dog, he rides for free. If he is not a service dog, you pay regular adult fare for your dog. Yes, a bus fare for your pooch ! I was flabbergasted ! Wow. Has anyone ever seen such a service. Don't get me wrong, I am overjoyed. One day I will ride a Muni bus with my Taylor, just for the experience of it all and I will take and post photos of it too.

Once off the bus, my destination was Omnivore.

A cookbook aficionado's dream, Omnivore is a book store totally dedicated to cookbooks, new, older, antiques and collectors' treasures including signed copies of various cookbooks. It also has books on food history and food related subjects. The large single room is airy and filled with light. At my request, the owner enthusiastically walked me through the sections. She also explained how the store holds events such as signings. On the afternoon of the day I visited, the store was holding a pudding contest where entrants dispensed their puddings to anyone who paid the $5.00 fee to try all puddings and finally crown a winner. While there I bought three wonderful books and discussed authors with the owner. This lady knows her stuff and her cookbooks. She also regaled me with anecdotes about authors and past book signing events. I will return to buy more books and surely to enjoy another chat about cookbooks and their authors. So if cookbooks are your thing, I urge you to visit. Here is the info,
Omnivore Books, 3885 Cesar Chavez Street, San Francisco. 
And if you cannot make your way to San Francisco, visit the store's website at:

I spent the rest of my day walking, shopping and simply enjoying the city and its throngs of people. I know I have said this or something similar in a past post but how strange this is to be walking the streets of San Francisco as a California resident and not as a tourist. It's a strange but also great feeling.

Finally, how educational to take day trips to the City, as San Francisco is called here. Does that imply that everywhere else (San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View,etc., etc.,) are all towns?  Hummm. Anyway, as I was saying it's an education to go to the City. Did you know you could drink alcohol on Cal trains? BYOB if you will ! I was on the train going back to San Jose and from my vantage point on the upper deck, I thought I spotted a girl on the lower deck drinking from a bottle that looked suspiciously like a beer bottle. I was afraid for her as I thought she would get caught when a few minutes later there was an announcement saying that because of a hockey game that evening (the Sharks were playing in San Jose) there would be no alcohol consumption allowed on the train after 9:00 pm. Huh ? Ok, so party on train riders ?!?

Because of the length of this particular post, I will skip the recipe, just this time. Promise :-)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Take 19 - My Playlist

Having been down and out with the Mother of all colds and coughs for the past few weeks and no, it was not the flu and yes, I had my flu shot, I have done little in the way of day trips and hole in the wall discovery around the Bay Area. So, in order to redeem myself a little to all you devoted readers and followers I thought I would tell you a bit about my playlist. Everywhere you read an interview of some famous person, the ubiquitous question is: What's on your playlist ? Well, I am not famous nor important but I have a big dog who needs lots of exercise, so I walk a lot. I also go to the gym several times a week so, I listen to a lot of music. I thought I would give you a sampling of what I listen to on my IPhone or on my mp3 on an almost daily basis. You will find a link to the YouTube video for that song. I hope you enjoy this musical journey!

The newer ones :

Allen Stone - Sleep

Churchill - Change

Neon Trees - Everybody Talks

Fun - We are young

Graffiti6 - Free

Fitz and the Tantrums - Don't gotta work it out

John Mayer - If I ever get around to living

The oldies but goodies :

Level 42 - Lessons in love

The Eagles - Already gone

The Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute

Tears for fear - Everybody wants to rule the world

Earth, Wind and Fire - Got to get you into my life

Supertramp - Dreamer

Now on to the food part of this post.
Here is a sweet recipe that is nothing if not super easy and here is a little trick to make it even easier. The recipe uses a jar of Nutella (13 oz) or a similar product. A few seconds in the microwave before whisking with the eggs and water will save you some serious elbow grease. Just make sure to carefully and completely remove the metallic seal on the jar. This recipe gives you moist and flavorful brownies. Quite decadent !

Coffee-Chocolate Brownies
Makes 9 brownies


1 (13-ounce) jar (about 1¼ cups) chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella or a similar product
2 eggs
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant coffee, preferably instant espresso


Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8"-square baking pan with foil.

In a large bowl, whisk together chocolate-hazelnut spread, eggs, and ¼ cup water. Stir in flour, salt and instant coffee and transfer to prepared pan. Bake until just set around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely. The brownies will be moist in the center.

Using foil to lift them, remove brownies from pan. Cut brownies into squares and enjoy.