A Farm Stand Thanksgiving

Turkey-Day Recap!

Check out this map... You've got Monterey Bay on the left, what is probably Elkhorn Slough up top, and Highway 1 going up the center. 

That star-arrow thing in the middle is pointing right at one of the neatest/cheapest/diverse produce stands in the whole entire world: Farm Fresh Produce

Check out the Price indicator on Yelp. ONE DOLLAR SIGN. That's not a joke! This place is super duper di doooper cheap! Also check out "Hours Today: 6:00 am until 5:30 am" That's not true, because that would mean that they are open for 23 1/2 hours a day. You know what? They are actually open 24 hours a day! 

They get new produce around the clock so why not stay open around the clock? Driving from Santa Cruz to Monterey at 3 am and need 10 oranges? Want to get them for a buck? Well this is where you should stop!

My roommate Sarah originally told me about this place and the first time I went I was overwhelmed by all the deals. Now I've got it down to a science... I like to get grapes there, and freeze them for snacking on during the week. I'll also get some apples, plums, and usually an onion.

Before Thanksgiving, I made a booklet of all the dishes I wanted to prepare on turkey day:

1. Seared Brussels Sprouts
2. Orange Cranberry Sauce
3. Alton Brown's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
4. Honey Glazed Carrots
5. Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms
6. Cornbread and Dutch Crunch Apple Stuffing
7. Pumpkin Pie!!
8. Salad stuff <- but I didn't end up making the salad

I bought my brussels sprouts from the Marina Farmer's Market on Sunday and the rest of my veggies came from Farm Fresh Produce in Moss Landing. Check out my spread:

Orange (#2), Green Beans + Portobello Mushroom + Onion (#3), Parsley + Carrots (#4), Baby Mushrooms (#5), Apple + Onion + Celery (#6), Lettuce + Tomatoes (#8)... Lemons are for beer... MMMMM I love lemon in my beer. Better than orange fo sho.

Yeah... and my total for ALL of that was $12.78 (plus I got a bunch of frozen grapes, not pictured).

Thanksgiving morning David, my mom, my sister Nicole, and I drove at the crack of dawn in the freeeezing San Jose weather to go run the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot! 

One of my favorite traditions is running this race with my Mom and Nicole and Aaron, but sadly he couldn't make it this year because he has a girlfriend and she lives in LA area.

We quickly started the race, and finished the race, and grabbed a bunch of freebie snacks - hoping for any sort of warm sun rays (didn't get any though). Instead of sticking around for a while, we jammed back to the car and drove back to my moms.

After showering, I got to work in the kitchen. Timing things is pretty difficult. I was so nervous that it would be 5pm and everyone would be starving with no food ready. With Nicole and Kyle's help, we actually got a lot of the food ready to bake ahead of schedule.

Adding to the list above: the turkey, Kyle's mashed potatoes, Nicole's secret-ingredient banana bread, and my mom's sweet potatoes (favorite dish), we had 5 things that needed oven time.

Luckily, everything finished on time and was warm and delicious. While it sounds kind of corny,  Thanksgiving dinner truly was delightful. In attendance: Mom, Nicole, David, his 3 sons: Nathan, Sam, and Ben, David's coworker Doug, family friends Becky, Megan, and Andrew, and good ol' Kyle Dozeman... and myself. After my pumpkin pie slice, Ben brought me a chocolate chip cookie he took home from Starbucks - perfect end to the perfect meal. It was so much fun to spend the day cooking in the kitchen with Nicole and Kyle.

I wish I had more time to make fun, creative meals. Sadly, during the week I just don't feel as motivated to make tricky things for just myself to enjoy. Maybe if I had the "Cooking for One" cookbook I could learn how to spice things up without having to eat leftovers for lunch/dinner 2 or 3 days straight!

"Cooking for One"??? That sounds like a depressing gift. Nobody give it to me out of pity! I will make do until my move to San Jose. Hopefully then I can cook with my mom, Kyle, friends.... any takers for dinner dates??

While there weren't any pictures taken of the Thanksgiving dinner spread, I did take pictures of breakfast the next morning: Apple Walnut Sticky Buns!!

Adapted from a Sandra Lee recipe I saw on a Bake Sale special on the Food Network:

You'll need:
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/4 C brown sugar
2 T. softened butter
1 (8-count) tube of refrigerated cinnamon rolls
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 to 2 t. water

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 12-count muffin tin a lil' bit.
- Peel/core/dice apple into 1/2-inch cubes
- Stir together diced apples with walnuts and brown sugar.
- Divide apple mixture evenly into 8 of the 12 muffin tin slots.
- Put the 8 cinnamon buns, cinnamon side up, on top of the apple mixture.
- Put the muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Put a clean baking sheet on top of the muffin tin and flip to remove the sticky buns.

For glaze:
- In a small bowl, combine the frosting from the cinnamon roll tube with the pumpkin pie spice and 1 to 2 teaspoons of water.
- Mix until very thick and of pourable consistency. Drizzle over buns and serve.


Now let's start thinking about Christmas dinner... I'm thinking Vegetable Parmesan?


Wild Plum Bakery and Cafe

On Saturday two of my friends from San Jose were in town. Sarah and Brian drove down the night before for their pal's housewarming party. We decided to meet up for lunch and it was my task to find a "cute spot" to blog about! I'm glad Sarah keeps me accountable.

But where to go? Little known sandwich spot? Somewhere on Alvarado? Hit up the municipal wharf?

A few weeks ago, my friend Maren wrote a review of Wild Plum Cafe and Bakery after she had lunch there with her bf Max. I hadn't ever seen the Wild Plum Cafe, hadn't heard about it, but oh man - based on her pictures, I definitely had to file it away in my "gotta try" list. So, when I met up with Sarah and Brian for lunch, the Wild Plum was the place to go!

I'm a big fan of Yelp. I don't really ever write reviews, but I love reading them. Before texting Sarah and Kyle (yep - he met us there) the address, I quickly looked at what Yelpers had to say.  Cons: unprofessional, stressed owner, understaffed. Oh Phooey! They don't know anything.

Check out that one ^^ "Yum. Lunch." My thoughts exactly.

Wild Plum Cafe is right behind Denny's (I think) and has a couple of outdoor tables. We went on a rainy day, and were lucky that an inside table opened up right as we walked in the door. Our waiter brought coffee and water as soon as we sat down. 

We grabbed our menus but didn't look closely look at them for another 10 minutes or so. Our waiter returned probably once every 2 minutes to see if we were ready to order. That means that we had to apologize about 5 times for not being ready to order. Can you blame us though? We had to catch up!!

So 10 minutes later, we had made the HARD decision and each figured out what we wanted to order. Of course, that's when Kyle walked in and he had about 10 seconds to make his mind up... 

I chose the 1/2 sandwich (veggie sandwich) 1/2 salad (sesame chicken) option. So effin good - the bread started crumbling apart, but it was covered in avocado and pesto and who cares if I need to attack my sandwich with a fork? Not me, and not when it's this good!

Brian picked the 1/2 sandwich (grilled chicken sandwich) and 1/2 soup (...soup of the day?). Kyle picked the same sandwich, but the full size. I had a bite and it was warm and cheesy - highly recommend.

Sarah went with the full sesame chicken salad.

Everything was delicious! There were about 5 or 6 things on the menu that I still want to try, so I'll have to come back someday.

MMM food & friends FTW! (I just learned that means For The Win and now I can't stop saying it in my head). We talked about lots of stuff - jobs, challenges facing the educators of America, secret clearances, wedding parties, and... my impending MOVE. Dun Dun Dunnnn... Yup, I decided to move back to San Jose to be closer with the ones I love: family, friends, Jan Hagel, Valley Fair, Orange Leaf frozen yogurt... 

As I write this it's easy to see why moving is the right thing for me. I LOVE Monterey. It's a beautiful town, has lots of charm, and is great to explore with people who make you happy. However, I'm a numbers girl, and the numbers point to San Jose. I am eager to be back in a city that has a higher percentage of people I can go out and experience life with. Let's bring back the kickball games, the random mall trips, and MOM time :) I'm going to miss living here, miss my roommates, but there's absolutely nothing stopping me from future weekend trips.....