French Toast, The Lazy Weekend Way

When I was kid, I really disliked French toast. I didn’t like eggs and the way my mom used to make it was more egg-y than custard-y. I wasn’t having any of that.

Over the years of watching Saturday morning Food Network shows (Good Eats is the best), I learned of the custard-variety french toast, the kind usually served at fancy brunch places. The batter is often a base of eggs and cream or milk, plus flavorings. After I successfully made my first crème brûlée from scratch I thought “Hey, I can make a custard-like substance with ease!” and thus my French toast recipe was born. The first time I attempted to make French toast, I was living in my college dorm. I casually combined some ingredients on a weekend morning and voila, I had French toast.

Recipe: French Toast, The Lazy Weekend Way Continue reading “French Toast, The Lazy Weekend Way”

Advertisements

Why A Sunny Day in the Mission is Perfect

A warm, sunny and clear day devoid of fog is a rarity in San Francisco. That means when the fog disappears and the temperature rises above 60 degrees, everyone takes full advantage and gets the heck outside. Faced with a beautiful day in the city and an afternoon free, I did what many San Franciscans do and made my way to the Mission to soak up some sun.

Because I have lived in the west side of San Francisco for the nearly four years I’ve been here, I rarely venture to the Mission. Instead of dining at Pizzeria Delfina, spending my Fridays at Mission Bowling Club, or standing in line for fresh-baked morning pastries at Tartine Bakery, I merely read about those experiences on food and local news blogs and imagine what my life would be if I lived in the hipster capital of, uh, Northern California. (I think that’s right, isn’t Portland the hipster capital of the world? I don’t even know)

Hoping to change that, and because I was craving something sweet, I spent my sunny afternoon finding Tartine Bakery, a San Francisco-famous pastry and sandwich shop and cafe at the corner of 18th and Guerrero. The space was small, but the pastry case was big and full of too many tempting treats for me to pick something. Feeling the pressure of a growing line, I went with the first pastry that caught my eye and that remembered was highly recommended on Foursquare, the chocolate eclair.

2013-04-12 14.04.49
My Tartine eclair, before I scarfed it down.

After stopping at Bi-Rite Market, another San Francisco institution, for a water bottle, I climbed the hills at Dolores Park to take in a view while taking in the eclair, passing a guy peddling pot cookies. Thanks man, but today this French pastry is all I need. After finding my spot in the grass, I promptly took a huge bite and ended up wearing a blob of vanilla cream filling. I didn’t care because Tartine had lived up to its hype; my eclair was really, really good. It also validated in my mind that these Mission establishments are really as good as everyone says they are.

I already knew that Dolores Park was a nice place to spend a warm afternoon. Now I also know that it’s worth getting out of the Outer Sunset to find some great food in the Mission and in other parts of the city to which I never bother to venture — especially on those rare San Francisco sunny days.

Mission Dolores Park April 2013

Birthright

Since I was old enough to understand culture and religion, let’s say 20 years, I’ve identified as a Jew. But in the last 10 years, I’ve neglected one of the most crucial activities young Jews must do – education themselves about their religion, culture, customs, and history. Last year I worked on my relationship, this year I work on my religious and ethnic identity with a trip to the holiest land of all.

Let’s back up. I was raised as a reformed Jew. I spent my weekends in Hebrew school at our synagogue, learning about the Jewish holidays and customs. In the fourth grade, every Wednesday afternoon I learned Hebrew in preparation for the Bat Mitzvah that I never actually completed (though I did get close). Judaism was a significant part of my upbringing, and every holiday was celebrated in one way or another, either at home or at shul.

Once I had outgrown my synagogue’s own education program, I was sent to the new and modern Jewish community center to take classes for confirmation. My religious peers cared more about chasing boys and screwing around in the back of class than learn about the history of our people. I got fed up and dropped out of my Jewish education.

By the time I made it into high school, it was rare to find me at synagogue other than for the high holy days. By my junior year, I had stopped going to those services too. I was struggling with forming some sort of relationship with God and feeling deeply tormented by my past let-downs with a higher power. I felt that Judaism didn’t offer any guidance.

A few years later and looking for a sense of community when I got to university, I joined my campus’ Hillel. I met a few friends, learned a bit more about my religion, and had a lot of fun. On the other hand, I encountered a lot of cliques that made it hard to feel included. As meetings and events became more about people’s drama with one another and less about actually connecting to our faith, I stopped going altogether.

Give or take a few years, that leads me here. I’ve done my best to keep up my Jewish traditions, which at this point just means lighting the Hanukkah candles, making latkes, and maybe eating some matzo at Passover.

Aching for a way to really understand the significance of everything that Jews do, I signed up for Birthright this year. It’s a 10 day trip to Israel to see the holy sites, explore the country, and, most importantly, learn about the history and significance of our people. To me, it’s a way to pick up where I left off in my religious education in a setting that’s far more meaningful than sitting in a fancy community center with a bunch of ambivalent teenagers.

I’ve been told by everyone who has gone on the trip before me (my cousins, most of my friends, several colleagues) that it is life-changing. I really hope that’s not an oversell. I don’t think it is. I couldn’t be more excited. I leave in May, and I really hope I come back with more than just a few souvenirs.

16 Years Later

I don’t want to get emotional, though I am. I never want the “sorrys” or the pity, so please do not give either to me. It hurts like hell to share the pain of losing a parent with the world, but it hurts more to keep quiet.

All I want to say is that it sucks that I’ve now spent about 2/3 of my life without you. You were here for the first eight, but not the last sixteen. Every day I replay a memory from those years, making sure as little slips away as possible. Every day I miss you. But every day I’m thankful for what you taught me. Every day I’m proud of the person you were. And every day I remind myself that you’re proud of me too.

Colorful Shots of The Moon are Awesome

My love for space will never die.

From Wired: “This mosaic of 53 images shows the different composition of rocks on the moon’s surface. Blue and orange colors represent lava flows, bright pink areas are highlands, and light blue colors indicate recent impact material with the youngest craters showing blue rays extending away from them.”

Image: NASA/JPL/Wired