Thursday, May 21, 2009

Diablo Oak

Diablo Oak, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

This stately oak is located at some picnic tables in Diablo Foothills Regional Park. The park does not have much of a reputation...

...but what an amazing park it is! Huge rock formations, hundreds of feet tall, jut from the Earth and support owls and raptor nests. Pine Creek fills the canyon with the smell of water and carpets of California poppies bloom upstream.

It's like a paradise that has been forgotten...a Shangri-La of the Bay Area sort.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Satay Ayam Kuning - Yellow Chicken Satay

In the past few weeks I've been experimenting with cooking Indonesian food. Not well known in the United States, the cuisine is flavorful and exotic, with easy-to-make dishes.

These succulent chicken satay skewers, marinated in turmeric, cumin, coriander, tamarind juice, and a pinch of chili, are tasty and fun to make. Serve them with peanut sauce.

Satay Ayam Kuning (Yellow Chicken Satay)

Taken from Agnes de Keijzer Brackman's Cook Indonesian.

- 2 chicken breasts
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- pinch of cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tamarind juice

Cut chicken into bite-size portions. Thread on bamboo sticks or meat skewers. Set aside.
Heat oil in saucepan and add coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and tamarind juice.
Using a soft-tufted cake brush, paint chicken thoroughly with the mixture.
Cook meat over charcoal until well done.

Saus Kacang Pedes (Hot Peanut Sauce)

Taken from Agnes de Keijzer Brackman's Cook Indonesian.

- 1 medium onion, sliced finely
- 1 clove garlic, sliced finely
- 1 tablespoon margarine
- 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons sambal ulek
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon tamarind juice
- sliver of shrimp paste
- ½ teaspoon salt

Sauté onion and garlic in margarine until deep brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
Add peanut butter and ½ cup water to saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and stir to a paste consistency.
Add sambal ulek, brown sugar, soy sauce, tamarind juice, shrimp paste and salt, and mix well.
Now add onion and garlic and stir gently. Serve lukewarm or cool.
Note: For a different variation, leave out onion.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rain in May

Clover Fly, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

It seems the weather has decided to be strange this year.

Rain in May in northern California is fairly unusual. By now the hills are starting to dry up and the wildflowers are mostly shriveling. But here and there, flowers still bloom, such as this clover.

Yesterday's misty rain covered everything in beautiful droplets, and the humidity combined with the 65-degree temperature made it seem downright East Coast-like.