Weekday Vegetable Soup

6CFEBF1E-9A33-483B-B058-51605A832AB8I love my instant pot.  And last night, a Tuesday, I made vegetable soup after work.  And ate it for dinner that night!  It was amazing.  Admittedly, my MIL was here, and we didn’t eat until 8:30 because the baby was sick, but I can see how in a slightly different scenario this could be a smooth part of a healthy dinner rotation.

Here’s how I did it:

Chopped half an onion and sauteed it in ghee in the instant pot while prepping the other vegetable.  I scrubbed and chopped two and a half carrots into half moons (the other half a carrot went into a microwave to be cooked and rejected by the toddler.)  I cut three stalks of celery into slices, and two small zucchini into wedges.  Most of a box of chopped tomatoes, a handful of pre-washed kale, four cups of water and four teaspoons of chicken better than bouillon got dumped in next.  And then, high pressure for ten minutes and another ten or so of natural pressure release before just letting it go.


And, it was amazing.  I served it with parmesan on top and happily enjoyed it two days in a row.

where to eat in san francisco . . . if you are me.

My advice is a little bit dated (circa 2008), so there have been lots of changes on the SF dining scene – but these yelp links might keep you up to speed.  Fancy, I know.  (I learned when I lived there that you’re not supposed to call it San Fran, but perhaps part of the reason it just really wasn’t the place for me is because it still feels a little natural to call it San Fran.  Sigh.)  I was able to update this list a little bit after a family vacation in August 2014 – we rented an airbnb in Noe Valley and played at being SF (ha – that one came naturally! I guess we did a good job pretending)  parents for a week.  It was pretty great.

Woodhouse, Zuni and La Taqueria remain amazing.  My favorites and I miss them always.  No words can capture.


SF Ferry Building Farmer’s Market – Saturdays and a smaller group on Tuesdays (mostly mornings).  It’s a bona fideSF tourist destination, and the bounty of cool vegetables and weird SF-style among the patrons should not be missed.  The best vendors are behind the building, and the Mexican breakfast stand, Hog Island oysters (freshly-shucked!), and samples!  Lots of samples.  You can almost make an entire breakfast out of samples. Among the samples that are not-to-be-missed are the salmon candy (down near the end of the lot) and garlic quark (up near the front.)  There’s also blue bottle coffee, which people seem to love.  Inside the ferry building is lots more cool shops and food vendors – definitely worth a gander.  I particularly like the mushroom shop (and the truffle salt they sell, on popcorn – – although I think you can get it pretty much anywhere these days.)  Also check out Cowgirl Creamery for amazing cheeses and if you feel like a sit-down restaurant, Slanted Door is terrific and fancy Vietnamese food in a beautiful location.  The Shaking Beef is particularly good, and I’ve always liked the angel hair noodles with crab and lots of hot sauce.

One of my top five favorite restaurants in the world: Zuni Cafe.  Go, for lunch or for dinner.  Better if you can make a reservation, but worth any amount of wait.  You MUST MUST MUST order the roast chicken with bread salad.  Seriously, we can’t be friends if you don’t.  It’s that good.  And don’t worry about it saying there’s a wait, and it’s for two, and there being other things you want to order – just order it and whatever you don’t eat that night will make amazing leftovers straight out of your hotel fridge.  wonderful things happen to the bread overnight and cold chicken is more delicious than it has a right to be.  and once you’re in that far, eating salad with your fingers is just fun!  [Revised instruction: order the chicken and other stuff, so that you have leftovers.]  They are also well known for their caesar salad – a very good iteration if you like them.  And the oyster selection is superb. http://www.yelp.com/biz/zuni-cafe-san-francisco
For seafood (especially Dungeness crab) and delicious McDonald’s style but restaurant-made so infinitely better,Woodhouse.  It’s not a particularly special restaurant, but it’s always delicious and I would crave its Crab Louis sandwich. It’s in a fun location, in the Castro, so there are decent bars nearby.  Blackbird is a particularly good cocktail bar, and there are a few used bookstores nearby too.   http://www.yelp.com/biz/woodhouse-fish-company-san-francisco  http://www.yelp.com/biz/blackbird-san-francisco
There is also Swan Oyster depot which is quite famous, but I’ve never been because they are only open for lunch and I had an awful job while I was there.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/swan-oyster-depot-san-francisco  It’s 41/2 stars on yelp, and famous enough that they can only be open at lunch. I bet it’s amazing.   Okay, now I’ve been – we made it there on our August trip. It was . . .  disappointing.  We went right when it opened (the benefits of a baby!  We walked the whole way there from Noe and still made it when there was no line) and Stella was a dream in the tiny, cramped space.  They even stored our stroller in the kitchen.  But, they were out of all of the things we wanted to order and everything we were especially excited about that we saw on Anthony Bourdain’s show: Dungeness Crab – period; the Dungeness Crab yellow stuff served on the half-shell; sea urchin; and I think there may have even been others.  Tres disappointing.  We had oysters and some shrimp salad with louie sauce.  It was good, but it wasn’t what we were there for.  And we had some Yank Sing dim sum about two hours later because, yeah, we weren’t satisfied.
You may also be tempted by the garlic crab places down on Fisherman’s Wharf if you go down there.  The garlic crabs are good, so I would not judge the choice.  🙂  There’s also an In-n-Out down there too.  It’s the only in-SF-proper In-n-Out, which makes it worth the trip.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/in-n-out-burger-san-francisco
Burma Superstar.  Not to be missed.  It’s delicious and I still dream about the Samusa soup. The tea leaves salad is also quite good, and you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. There will be a long wait, unless you get there right when they open, so plan to spend some time down the block at Green Apple books, a fantastic bookstore, and poking around the Asian supermarkets.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/burma-superstar-san-francisco http://www.yelp.com/biz/green-apple-books-san-francisco
For Ice-Cream – Bi-Rite Creamery, and take it to Dolores Park to eat.  Salted Caramel is loved by those who like caramel.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/bi-rite-creamery-san-francisco
Tartine Bakery – a good breakfast spot.  Delicious almost-too-rich pastries.  Always has a long line, but is worth it for a morning when you just want to sit back and eat french pastries.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/tartine-bakery-san-francisco
My absolute favorite mexican food is at La Taqueria on Mission and 25th.  I would get the Carne Asada Taco, with everything, and that is what I strongly recommend you get.  (Sometimes I would get it without sour cream.)  It is two taco shells, lightly fried, with cheese, beans, guacamole and salsa in addition to the beef.  And it is fantastico. (The with-everything is what makes them fry it and add guacamole and other stuff.  Otherwise it’s a bit naked with just meat, beans, and salsa on the tortillas. I also highly recommend their burritos.  They are not the typical Mission Burrito, because there’s no rice.  I particularly like the Chicken in a burrito since they chicken is in a spicy, watery sauce.  (Sounds gross to write it, is good.)
For a typical Mission burrito, you have lots of options at the corners of the 24th and Mission and 16th and Mission – and one block in any direction, essentially.  Some of the better-known ones for straight-up Mission burritos are: El Farolito(mission btw 23 and 24 – closer to 24), Taqueria Cancun (Mission between 18  and 19, and Pancho Villa Taqueria(16th between Mission and Guerrero).  There’s also a popular burrito spot that’s slightly more hippie/yuppie-fied that is quite good called Papalote (24th between Valencia and Poplar (towards Guerrero)).

My one piece of wedding planning advice

Do everything – EVERYTHING – with a separate wedding-planning only email address.  It will be your login for registries, your wedding website, emails with vendors, RSVPs if you’re going paper-free, etc.  Bonus points if it’s an email address both you and your fiance can check, so he can stay fully in the loop and it won’t fall to you to forward contract drafts to him.  Learn from my mistakes, oh engaged people of the internet.  Learn from my mistakes.  I am still on the automatic listserve of the woman who used to run the rental business for water taxis.

PS – Water taxi was still totally worth it.


Re-framing Parenthood

I also think that we’re framing parenthood, in this micro conversation—but really possibly in our greater cultural conversation right now—as something that’s primarily hard and tiring. That’s absolutely the lens I was given to look at it with, and it was terrifying. What I’ve found in the last year and a half is that for me, it’s totally the wrong lens. Like TOTALLY the wrong lens. For me, it’s this earth exploding joy machine, that yeah, makes me tired sometimes. But I’m still operating in a culture that mostly treats kids as a nuisance, not a joy. Which sucks. And isn’t universal (I learned when traveling).

This excerpt from a comment posted by Meg Keene, the Editor in Chief, in a discussion-in-the-comments about the choice to have kids really resonated for me.

I am so easily swept along by the cultural narrative, and the easy, canned responses to the typical questions: it makes conversation polite and simple, and I don’t risk an awkward situation where someone basically asked a question on autopilot not expecting a real response. I hate those moments of discordance. The risk though, is that the culturally-accepted patter starts to dominate and you miss out on the opportunity to develop real and deep connections.  But I don’t know how to answer quickly, without sounding pompous or insincere, that our life doesn’t resemble a chaotic sitcom version of young parents with a baby.

She is the most fun ever, and although it’s work, taking care of her doesn’t feel like a chore or drudgery.  Perhaps that’s because we share the labor with daycare, so each individual day we have a balance of work related to the baby and work related to commerce.  And our lovely daycare providers have a balance of work related to the baby and work related to their school, their families and whatever else they feel like doing.  So, we spread the work but even when we don’t, on weekends and vacations, it’s thrilling and enervating to guide her days.  It’s not just drudgery in exchange for a few moments of hugs and communication.  It’s joy.



My Absolute Favorite Pregnancy Resources about Food

A pregnancy book that I think is really helpful is: Emily Oster’s Expecting Better.  I really respect her approach to the various pregnancy restrictions and her thinking definitely helped structure mine.  For example, based on the research she cites, I came up with a drinking strategy that is more conservative than hers but made me feel comfortable: an occasional small glass of wine or a sip or two of my husband’s cocktail.  (My doctor also has a great line on drinking during pregnancy:  “not in public in the United States” with the assumption being that it is something you should feel comfortable doing at home.)  I would go straight to the book itself, and avoid both the reviews of it (which overemphasize her conclusions without going deep on her rationale or conclusions; I also found her articles on Slate less helpful overall.

And, my curated favorites from around the interwebs (I sit at a computer all day – I’ve read a lot):

 The first is the article that I found on epicurious is the most balanced and intelligent with regard to what you can and can’t eat while pregnant.  I don’t follow it religiously, since I got comfortable with sushi at very good places based on this nytimes article that follows, but it still helped me feel comfortable while navigating all these new decisions.

And then, helping with sushi and various fish decisions are my favorite ‘is there mercury in that?’ checklists: by fish name AND by sushi names!
For food, I have found it incredibly easy and helpful to just ask google or my phone: “lobster tomalley safe during pregnancy?”  and the answers come up quickly.  (Answer: No.  In general, liver is bad because it processes toxins.  Although has lots of Vitamin A so could be good, but overall I avoid it.  I was disappointed.)
I hope this helps someone get through these 10 months – writing now from my second pregnancy, I can definitely say even though I know first-hand there is an expiration date to all of these restrictions, it still feels like I’m going to be pregnant forever!