Sunday, October 31, 2010


Friday, October 30th at 9:00 p.m., I put the finishing touches on the jack-o'-lantern I carved from last week's CSA basket pumpkin.
Carving jack-o'-lanterns with Mom, Bob, and Rebecca back in 2008 made me realize that pumpkin carving is a lot more fun than I thought it was, especially with the right tools. This one was super easy. Maybe next year I'll have time for something a bit more challenging.

October's Cookie of the Month: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My independent taste tester loves pumpkin baked goods, especially with chocolate chips, so this wasn't exactly what you'd call a tough sell. He loved them, especially their cakeyness. I, on the other hand, am not a big fan of pumpkin baked goods, chocolate chips or no. But I found the pumpkin to be quite subtle in these cookies, much like the banana in April's Cookie of the Month: Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. These taste even better the next day. My second batch spent a few too many minutes in the oven, and they were still super soft and yummy the next day.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • 2 C plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cool, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1/2 C solid-packed canned pumpkin (do not use canned pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C Ghiradelli 60% Cacao chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl.

2. Soften the butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, about 1 minute. Add both kinds of sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and airy, but still somewhat grainy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, beat in the egg, then the egg white, then the canned pumpkin, and finally the vanilla. Don't worry if the dough looks slightly curdled at this point.

3. Add the prepared flour mixture and beat at low speed just until soft and light, like traditional chocolate chip cookie dough, not sticky. Stir in the chocolate chips, just until evenly distributed.

4. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto two large baking sheets lined with silicone mats, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and back to front. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and somewhat springy to the touch. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cool the baking sheets for 5 minutes before baking further batches.

Previous Cookies of the Month:
January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
February's Cookie of the Month: Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies
March's Cookie of the Month: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
April's Cookie of the Month: Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
May's Cookie of the Month: Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies
June's Cookie of the Month: Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies
July's Cookie of the Month: Big Soft Chocolate Cookies
August's Cookie of the Month: Viennese Chocolate Pepper Cookies
September's Cookie of the Month: Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fullerton Voting Guide?

If you're a Democrat or of a more generally liberal persuasion, voting in Orange County can seem a bit disheartening. I've put together what I can figure are the best of bad choices with links to other resources so you can make up your own mind. Seated in a conference room in Cal. State Fullerton's Pollack Library, awaiting the start of a talk “Public History, Public Trust: Remaking the Nixon Library” by Dr. Timothy Naftali, the Director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, and their Education Specialist, Mindy Farmer, at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, October 21st, a handful of folks from the political science department discussed the upcoming election. The two big topics of conversation were the Fullerton city council and the judicial seats.

Regardless your position on the candidates and issues, the most important thing is that you vote. The registration deadline has passed in California, but if you're registered, you can vote. The Obamas are asking you to commit to vote and share that commitment through your social network so as to promote voting among your friends.

For the Democratic Party of Orange County's endorsements click here.

For City of Fullerton, Member, City Council, Full Term, I'm voting for Jesse LaTour. Of all the local candidates, I am most excited about LaTour. I met him at a dinner party. Lovely young man. As one of my friends said, "Well, he's sure not more of the same." I'm definitely not voting for Bruce Whitaker, as Red County loves him. I'm not voting for Barry Levinson because he seems like a loose cannon, and not in a fun, alternative way. Greg Sebourn is endorsed by scary conservatives.

For City of Fullerton, Member, City Council, Short Term, I'm voting for Anthony N. Fonte. According to the League of Women Voters, Roland Chi and Bruce Whitaker are both endorsed by Republicans. I liked what Fonte said about this post being non-partisan so he's not accepting any endorsements. I also like his idea to turn Coyote Hills into a park. Fullerton Stories has profiles of each of these candidates.

As far as the judicial races go, I'd like to offer as a caveat the words of a wise commentator on Red County.

It's a bad idea to vote against a judge or justice simply because you disagree with some of his or her rulings. We don't want the bench to be subject to the tyranny of the majority, which is what would happen if everyone did as you suggest. The judiciary needs to be independent of political pull, and we should be voting against judges only if they are plainly incompetent, guilty of some moral turpitude, or similar problem.

I don't know of any of the judges or justices who meet that standard. I think we should either vote in favor of all those on the November ballot, or refrain from voting in those races.
If one believes that judges should be appointed rather than elected does one best express that opinion by voting yes for all, voting no for all, or not voting in judicial races? If you decide to vote on a candidate-by-candidate basis, why not take the advice offered by one of the folks awaiting the Nixon library talk: vote the opposite of the guy from Red County. I'll save you the trouble (and the guilty conscience of generating ad revenue for Red County's website):
Vote No on Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.
Vote Yes on Ming W. Chin.
Vote Yes on Carlos R. Moreno.
Vote Yes on Judith D. McConnell.
Vote Yes on Manuel A. Ramirez.
Vote Yes on Carol D. Codrington.
Vote Yes on David G. Sills.
Vote No on William W. Bedsworth.
Vote Yes on Eileen C. Moore.

For your propositions, scroll down to page nine in this PDF of the Fullerton Observer for a handy chart showing where the following groups stand: the Chamber of Commerce North OC, the League of Women Voters, the Green Party, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the Sierra Club.

The links in the blurbs about the North Orange County Community College District Governing Board Members go to the non-partisan League of Women Voters candidate information for each contest. They're a quick read and might give you more of a clue on how to vote than I give you here. For North Orange County Community College District, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 2 I'm voting for Barbara Dunsheath as she seems vastly more qualified to address the needs of community college students and faculty than her opponent. Also, Tim Keenan is endorsed by Ed Royce, the Republican U.S. Representative for our district.

For North Orange County Community College District, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 3 I'm not super thrilled with either candidate. Brown seems more experienced but Barron seems to have his priorities in order.

I am similarly unenthused about the candidates for North Orange County Community College District, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 4. Miller seems more experienced, but Allen seems to have her priorities in order.

For the Fullerton joint Union High School Governing Board Members, Buchi, Singer, and Hathaway seem vastly more experienced.

For Fullerton School District, Governing Board Member, I'm voting for Aaruni Thakur and Beverly Berryman. Meyer and Thompson are endorsed by Ed Royce, the Republican U.S. Representative for our district.

I saved the County of Orange County Supervisor 4th District for the end of this post since it's a choice between two Republicans neither of whom I'd be particularly thrilled about. But all things being equal, Shawn Nelson's only "issue" on his website seems to suggest he's anti-High Speed Rail. First, lame that it's the only issue. Second, high speed rail is going to be great for Orange County, so he's on the wrong side of his one issue. So that leaves me with Harry Sidhu, who at least recognizes the importance of more than one issue on his website . . . if that's not damning with faint praise I don't know what is.

Same problem with the County of Orange Treasurer-Tax Collector. Shari L. Freidenrich is endorsed by all the scary conservatives. Keith Rodenhuis doesn't have a link to his endorsements, which bodes poorly for his success, but he's also a Republican. He's worked as the deputy to the position he's running for, so eh, why not.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

CSA Basket 15

This week's basket contained: Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Tomatoes, Beets, Eggplant, Jalapeno, Basil, Leeks, Broccoli, Kale, Purple Pepper, Apples, Valencia Oranges, Grapes, Celery, Red Butter Lettuce, Plums, Pumpkins, and Chard. I forgot to include the pumpkin in this picture. It's a good-sized carving pumpkin. Stay tuned for impending jack-o'-lantern. I traded in three summer squash and the beets for garlic, eggplant (baby LOVES eggplant), and tomatoes.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

CSA Basket 14

This week's basket contained: Carrots, Chard, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Cucumber, Green Beans, Cilantro, Parsley, Eggplant, Jalapeno, Basil, Grapefruit, Apples, Pluots, Red Leaf and Red Butter Lettuce, Valencia Oranges, Grapes, and Nectarines. Please excuse the indoor picture. It was raining, which I find quite shocking . . . a sign I have officially been lulled into submission by the gorgeous climate of southern California.

I traded in the summer squash for more winter squash. The carrots, two of three winter squashes, green beans, eggplant, apples, and nectarines have all been made into baby food. Actually, we've advanced to the eating of small pieces of squishy fruit, so the nectarines aren't really processed into baby food so much as diced while feeding like the grapes. The carrots and squash, along with some store bought organic white potatoes, were diced and steamed for more self-feeding baby fun. The green beans, eggplant, and apples were all steamed and run through my trusty KitchenAid FVSFGA Fruit/Vegetable Strainer and Food Grinder for Stand Mixers.

The chard is probably going to be frozen for my go-to Black Bean Chilaquiles from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals. This tome falls open to page 164 because I make chilaquiles (pronounced: chee-lah-KEE-lays, though I have been known to refer to it as Shaquille O'Neal, which is still better than what I used to say back when I first got this cookbook in 1998 "chill-LAH-kway" . . . which reminds me of how this girl in my dorm in high school used to pronounce fajitas . . . which was not appetizing at all) every other week and it serves eight, so we probably eat it on average twice a week. The recipe calls for a bunch of steamed chard, but I've found that freezing it in water breaks down the cell walls sufficiently to make the chard layer nicely and it leaves more of the chard-y flavor in the dish. I used a similar trick to make stuffed cabbage. In fact, I've got a cabbage in my freezer awaiting that very fate.

The cilantro and basil shall become pesto, as usual.

I'm contemplating making Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style, like I did starting with Basket 3 in May. We're kinda out of our tagine phase. So any suggestions for something North African to pair with the orange salad would be greatly appreciated.

I might make pickles with the cucumbers. I finally ate some bread and butter pickles dear Cousin Eartha made for Presidents Day. So good! If I could figure out how to make those, I would disparage this overload of cucumbers so much less.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Furrday: OK GO Edition

No pictures of our own pooches this week. Just the following embedded YouTube video and a link to The Madeline Brand Show segment in which she interviewed Trish Sie, the amazing director and choreographer behind the latest OK Go video for their song "White Knuckles." [<--Try this link to view it on YouTube if the video below appears cut off - the pyramid of trash cans should be centered in the image.] You may recall OK Go is that band that had a YouTube hit with their video for "Here It Goes Again" in which the band performs on treadmills. This new video is like that: no CGI, single take oner, directed and choreographed by Sie (who is the sister of maybe the lead singer) . . . but it has the added bonus of not one, not two, but TWELVE real dogs performing along with the band.