port costa

7×7 has a series on their website titled “Ultimate Sunday Hikes.” I always find them during the week, when I’m most anxious to spend more time outdoors and making plans for the weekend. Fitting. This week, the feature was an East Bay trail, touted as the “hidden gem of Northern Contra Costa County.” I was sold. So today, Jon and I drove up to Crockett to follow the recommendation.

The trail was easy, dotted with cows and Eucalyptus trees, and ended in one of the cutest towns I’ve been to in such close proximity to San Francisco. If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t walked the trail from Crockett to Port Costa, now is the time. To get there, take the last exit off I-80 East before you cross over the Carquinez Bridge, then take a left onto Pamona Street. Follow Pamona through downtown Crockett until you reach the Bull Valley Staging area. Take a left, and park on the lower level. There are two trails that lead to Port Costa, so use the trip as an excuse to make the complete loop- both sides are gorgeous. Already looking forward to going back, and staying at the The Burlington Hotel.

Day hikes are one of my favorite ways to explore the Bay Area, so I am hoping to spend more time documenting my favorites here.

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millet bread

It’s so good to have another option for breakfast. Last year when jon and I were visiting Anne in Philadelphia, we went to the reading terminal market as part of our downtown tour. amongst a million options, I ended up choosing a cup of coffee and millet muffin from metropolitan bakery: it was nutty, had a crunchy top but surprisingly light and pleasant middle, not too sweet. it was delicious. I’ve been meaning to attempt a replication ever since, and was inspired once again this morning when I woke up and saw the glass jar of millet sitting next to the sink. as I am currently without a muffin tin; I used a small loaf pan instead which worked great.

forty-five minutes later i had successfully recreated the market muffin in a small apartment kitchen in san francisco.

millet bread

(slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks) 

1 1/8 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup raw millet

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup almond milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1 T. lemon zest

1 T. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter the loaf pan.

Combine the flour, millet, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the flour is just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pan.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the top is brown and just barely begins to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then serve with honey butter.

*I substituted earth balance for butter to make the recipe dairy-free.

strawberry jam.

it’s been a week of firsts. first time living (actually, living) in san francisco, first time i’ve attempted to rely on a bike as my only means of transportation, and my very first attempt at making strawberry jam.

even though i miss my friends in boston, the break from mugar library and a full course-load is oh so welcome.

for the next three months, i’ll be working most-of-the-time as a policy intern at la cocina; spending another part of my time at la cocina’s kiosk at the ferry building, and devoting the rest to the food scene in the bay area. that third leg not only constitutes an ever growing must-visit restaurant list, but a few food projects of my own. the tartine book is staring at me from the table, but i went backwards and started with the jam.

strawberry jam

slightly adapted from food in jars

3 cups stawberries, stemmed and sliced in half

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 lemon, zested and juiced

combine the berries in a large bowl with half of the sugar, and macerate for at least 4 hours.

after 4 hours (and up to 3 days in the fridge), combine the strawberries with the remaining sugar in a saucepan. bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the mixture reaches 220 degrees. test the consistency on the back of a metal spoon for readiness. the jam should be relatively thick on the back of the spoon, but still slightly runny. add the juice and zest and cook for 5 minutes longer.

meanwhile, prep three half-pint jars and their lids. prep canning materials. pour the jam into the three jars, wipe the mouths of the jars clean and seal. proceed according to the canning directions.