Month: October, 2014

Apartment Living

I have never lived in an apartment building before. Ours is certainly not a fancy one. It has carpet reminiscent of an English pub complete with the smell of old cigarettes lingering, there is no lift, and rubbish bins are lined up in the centre courtyard rather than a manicured garden. But I love buzzing in the front door and seeing the packages that have been delivered, checking to see if there is one for us, or post in the number 12 slot. I love walking up the four levels to our door, passing the smells and noises of other people’s life. Fried onions and garlic at number four, curry at number seven. Sometimes a door is left ajar and I can peak into a crowded hallway, strange to live so close to someone and yet know nothing about them. I look out our kitchen window, across the courtyard to two abnormally large cats who sleep in the sun on the outside stairs, other people’s windows, other people’s choices of lined up bottles and plants.

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We have been in this building for five months now. We know our neighbours on our floor. We have all our things from New Zealand and it feels a lot more like home. Books threaten to topple, art is on the walls, clutter is accumulating, and as of Saturday, we have plants growing on the fire escape.

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Five months on and Autumn has arrived. The lower sun means we have bright light streaming into the living and bedroom for most of the day making perfect spots for curling up with a book or a bowl of pasta. It also means finally bidding farewell to stone fruit and berries and welcoming more wintery apples and pears, as well as piles of pumpkins. I am loving the comforting, hearty food- lentils with pasta, chicken pie, soups and pumpkin ravioli which I will blog very soon.

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Fast Times in Tahoe

When I go travelling, I like cities. I like galleries, museums, bustling streets, cafes and bars. So when Ollie and I booked to spend four days at Lake Tahoe, (obviously, I prepared mentally by listening to Fast Times in Tahoe on repeat) I was excited but never expected to have so much fun. To get out of the car into the cold, clean, dry air was like heaven. We stayed at Basecamp Hotel which was perfect, it is run by really helpful people and has a great breakfast to make full use of before setting out for the day. We did outdoorsy things- we hiked, we biked, we climbed up mountains and through forests and had the most amazing time.

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Even when we close our apartment windows at night, we can still hear the traffic outside, so to be in the silent, crisp air was refreshing in so many ways. Although Tahoe is an alpine region, it still has plenty of deciduous trees to give me my autumn leaf fix (I miss seasons so much living in San Francisco). It made me realise that when you live in a busy city, it can be nice to get out amongst nature when you need a break.

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If you are visiting Tahoe, I would recommend doing the Mt Tallac hike. It is a 16km round trip climbing 3300 feet through forest, past lakes, and over rocks to the Mt Tellac peak. We had lunch at the top, surrounded by breathtaking views. Luckily we were a little better prepared than the day earlier where we set off with just a jumper and a brown paper bag with our lunch in. This hike needed jackets, thermals, water, suncream and a camera.

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This is us at the top! I was feeling especially proud of myself as I am now sporting an ever expanding bump that has been leaving me rather exhausted and nauseous.

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We have now decided we are going to set out and explore the hikes within driving distance of San Francisco, so any tips are very welcome. The perks of not drinking- waking up early in the weekends, ready to go adventuring!

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And I’m back… with some midweek spaghetti

A couple months back, I finally found myself a job and started working. As well as being busy during the day again, I was a little under the weather and I didn’t feel like cooking much. Uninspired, I fell back on old favourites. I stopped blogging. Things got busy, new habits developed and in this case, they didn’t involve blogging. Life ambled on.

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I hadn’t really thought much about the blog until a few days ago when I received a beautiful email from a wise student who inspired me, kind words from another friend about how she misses my recipes, another wanting to know what I have been reading. And so I’m back. Back to the blog and looking forward to it. I’ve been talking with a very-talented-certain-someone about making it look prettier and have been thumbing through new and old cook books getting excited.

I thought I would start with a quick and easy pasta dish that is perfect for a midweek, after work dinner. It’s quick to throw together, and can be used by scrounging around at the back of the fridge- there always seem to be half eaten jars of olives back there. I think it is great because of my love of anything that is either salty or vinegary. Don’t worry about chocolate or cakes for me, but salt and vinegar chips are a winner. Pickles, olives. fries and mustard are also good options. This is slightly healthier than the items on that list, but tastes just as good.

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Midweek Spaghetti 

1 handful of olives, I used a mix of green Sicilian olives and black Kalamata
3 diced tomatoes – I used Early Girl
1 big handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion very finely chopped
1 Tbsp capers
Salt and pepper
Big, big glug of olive oil
Small glug of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 handful of rocket
1 handful of fresh basil and Italian parsley
Spaghetti

In a large bowl, add the destoned, halved olives, capers, tomatoes, red onion, tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic. If you leave these for half an hour, they will slowly marinate in their own goodness and the bite will go from the red onion. While the spaghetti is cooking, add the rocket, basil and parsley to the bowl, then toss in the spaghetti. You want to eat this immediately, while the spaghetti is still hot, and it tastes great with some slithers of parmesan over the top.

DSCF3983It’s fresh and tasty and perfect for a summer’s evening.

It’s good to be back.

Anna x