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Tomato Soup for the Soul

>> October 10, 2012

Seriously? Why does chicken soup get all the glory? There are few things that a piping hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese can't fix. 

Now that Fall has officially arrived in Georgia, it's finally appropriate to start pulling out the cozy sweaters, warmer recipes, and (dare I say) boots?!?! I'm super pumped that it's Fall, not only because it's my favorite season but because I love the sense of renewal that comes along with each season. Inevitably, by the time each season comes to a close we are so ready to move on that any change in temperature is cause for a mini celebration. 

These days, I've been eager for a little change in my life. With Josh graduating school, we've closed a chapter in our lives and the next chapter is waiting in the wings. Of course there's excitement that comes with new opportunities, as well as uncertainty about what's around the corner. Not to worry...before my excitement gets out of control my anxiety swoops in to make sure I don't get carried away. You know that saying "the only thing that's certain is death and taxes", well it should be "the only thing that's certain is death, taxes, and Carolyn's anxiety".

At any rate, here's to a new season and new beginnings!

Tomato Soup
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
1 28oz Can Whole Tomatoes
1 Tbs Brown Sugar
2 Tbs Butter
1 Large Shallot, Minced
1 Tbs Tomato Paste
1 Tbs Flour
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Milk (or Cream if you'd like to add richness)

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set a strainer over a bowl, and cut the tomato's in half and remove the seeds. Make sure you retain as much of the juice as possible! We're just trying to get rid of those pesky seeds! Spread the tomato half's on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Pull them out of the oven and set them aside to cool.

Melt the butter of medium heat until foamy and add the tomato paste and minced shallots. Reduce the heat to low and cook the shallots for 7 - 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook until completely incorporated. Gradually start to add the chicken broth and whisk constantly until all of the broth is combined. Add the tomato juice and the roasted tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once the soup reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. 

Pour the soup into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend to make the soup creamy! Add the soup back to the pot and add in the milk (or cream) and cook for another 5 minutes. 


San Francisco Travel Guide: Part 1

>> October 7, 2012

I sat down to write this and quickly realized that I needed to break this up into two posts...there’s just too much here to cram it all in at once. Evidently my gift of gab has returned.

I’ve had the good fortune of visiting San Francisco a boatload of times. Because of my job I’m there at least once a year and I’ve been several times for pleasure. It is by far, one of my most favorite cities. This is mostly in part because of the food culture (it’s unreal), but the vibe and climate are pretty stellar as well. Recently, I’ve had several requests for things to do/restaurants to visit in the Bay Area so I thought I’d construct a “To-Do/How-To” SFO style.

The one thing I think most people are surprised by when they visit San Fran is the climate. Seemingly the misconception is “it’s sunny’ll be warm”, but this is almost never the case. They have a pretty moderate climate year-round, but the the average high temperature maxes out at 72 degrees and the low bottoms out at a whopping 46 degrees. It’s definitely cooler than you might assume, but a far cry from being considered “cold”.

Ok, onto the good stuff. What to do when you’re in the Bay Area! For starters...there’s quite literally tons of wonderful things you can do to spend your time, here are just a few of them: 

Golden Gate Bridge & Presidio Park: Ok, I’m starting with the obvious, but crazy tourist’s aside it’s wonderful to see and offers fantastic views of the city.

  • I wouldn’t be a good steward of the National Park system if I didn’t remind you to get your Passport stamps at the Golden Gate Bridge gift shop.
  • Make sure to stroll over to the old Battery West (on the Pacific side of the bridge). The views are absolutely stunning of the city and Presidio Park
Alcatraz Island: Yet another obvious addition to the list, but still a fun activity. What could be better than visiting Al Capone’s old stomping grounds? With all the lore that this famous penitentiary holds, it’s certainly worth a few hours of exploration.
  • I’m leaving Fisherman’s Wharf off the list because it’s a bit of a 2-for-1. All of the ferries to Alcatraz leave from the wharf area, so you can stay and visit as long as you like. However, the wharf is super tourist-y and can be extremely crowded at peak times...not to mention that it’s incredibly cheesy...but you be the judge :)
Palace of Fine Arts: Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts is a pretty awesome way to spend the afternoon if you ask me. I learned of this place on my last business trip to SFO...a friend who’s local to SFO took me to explore the architecture. Architecturally, it’s nothing like anything else you’ll see in San Fran and surrounded by a wonderful little park. It was originally built for the 1915 World’s Fair, and was demolished shortly after the event. It was later brought back by popular demand and rebuilt in 1965, so the current building is actually a replica of what once stood.

Ferry Building Market: I could seriously go on, and on about the Ferry Building. It’s seriously my favorite part of San Fran. It’s full of restaurants and food vendors, but the best days to go are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to see the Farmer’s Market. The Saturday market is especially vendors from all over the area come to display the most beautiful ingredients you’ve ever seen. It makes being in a hotel sans kitchen a cryin’ shame. My suggestion would be to grab some artisanal bread, local cheeses, maybe a little charcuterie from boccalone and a bottle of sparkling wine...find a little park and pop a squat for the best little lunch you could ever dream of.

For the sake of brevity, I'll leave you with those four "must see" places to visit when you're in the Bay Area. Lord knows, I could go on and on...but in my opinion, you'd be hard pressed to find better ways to spend your time in the city.

Next up...what to eat and where to stay...stay tuned!


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