Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend San Jose

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Going to Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend San Jose started out as a whim.  I am a Facebook fan of the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).   She sent a post to all her Facebook fans that she was going to be speaking on an 8 city tour with Oprah.  I had recently finished her latest book “The Signature of All Things”, which was just wonderful!  I finished her book in 2 days and those of you who know me know that I am not an avid or speedy reader but it was so good that I couldn’t  put down until I finished it.  I decided to go to Oprah’s The Life You Want weekend  San Jose and invited my sister, Susie to join me for a weekend with Oprah & Liz.  I had a wonderful sister weekend!  Thanks Susie!

As our weekend approached, I was very curious about what our Oprah  weekend would entail and what O town(Oprah town) would be like.  We got a schedule with times for the events taking place at the SAP Center and O town.  We decided to stay over at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino to be closer to the SAP Center for an early Saturday morning O town visit.  O town opened at 7 am on Saturday.  The Cypress Hotel is about a 20 minute drive to the SAP Center but is reasonably priced, with wonderful staff, and ample self parking.

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To start off our Oprah weekend, we went for lunch at one of my sister’s favorite ramen restaurants, Orenchi in Santa Clara. The weather was cool and a little chilly, just perfect fall weather for a steaming hot bowl of ramen.  Orenchi is a very popular Japanese ramen shop. There are always very large crowds of people waiting for a bowl of their delicious ramen.  There are 3 kinds of savory soups : tonkotsu (thick pork), shio (salt) , and shoyu (soy sauce).  We enjoyed our shoyu ramen especially after waiting outside for 45 minutes. But It was so worth the wait.  Orenchi  definitely makes the best ramen in the Bay Area.

After our delicious ramen lunch, we decided to see if we could check in early since we were very close to our hotel.  They had no rooms available at that time but they said we could leave drop off luggage and check in later.  So we headed over to the Cypress and our front desk person, Rocky, helped us tag our luggage. We decided to look around the hotel and have a glass of complimentary flavored water(lemon, orange, or cucumber).  In a few minutes, Rocky came to find us and said our room just finished cleaning and we could check in.  I had a feeling that we were going to have a “good” karma day.

We left Cupertino and headed over to the SAP Center to pick up our O wristbands and tour O town.  The O wristbands were stretchy white plastic wristbands that were required to enter O town.  There was not much of a line to pick up our O wristbands but after waiting in line for 5 minutes the line was all the way around the entire block.  Shades of things to come.  After getting our O wrist bands, we headed over to O town.

O town was totally astonishing!  There were so many people.  The majority of people in O town were women but there were quite a few men as well. Every nationality was represented :  Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Indian, and LGBT.  Young and old,  mothers and daughters, sisters, couples, and friends, all coming to hear Oprah speak later that evening. People were very friendly, courteous, helpful, and were enjoying being there.

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O town consisted of many huge white tents.  Each tent had a sponsor.  Ikea had a room decorating and room arranging seminar with free Ikea  blue bags.  Olay had free head massages and make up consultations as well as free cosmetics.  In the center of O town was a  huge red, orange, and yellow O that you could take a picture in.  There was a center stage was filled with various types of performances such as singers, a comedian, a fashion show featuring Stanford cheerleaders, and dancers.  We really wanted to see Art Smith, a Southern chef who is frequently on Top Chef.  We found out that he was Oprah’s personal chef for 8 years.    We also got to see Iyanla Vanzant, a healer who helps people with their relationships.  She was speaking on Saturday along with Elizabeth Gilbert as one of Oprah’s “trailblazers”.   She was extremely funny as she answered the audience’s questions.  She was a blast!  I was surprised that our two hours in O town went by so quickly.

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My sister told me that my parents had been big fans of Oprah and watched her show faithfully.  I didn’t even know that until this weekend.   In the past, I had watched Oprah’s show a little but didn’t really know very much about her.

DJ Kiss played such great music before Oprah’s speech!  The whole audience was dancing, clapping, and singing along.  She played Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and so many great songs.

Just then Oprah entered the stage, our O wristbands lit up and flashed different colors : Red, Green, Blue, and white.  It was like a glow stick but flashed in sync with the music.  Everyone stood up and applauded.    I found out later that Oprah’s weekend was sold out with over 10,000 people in the audience.

But in her 2 hour talk that she gave on Friday night, she told us about her life.  She began from her childhood in Mississipi up to her present life.  She was such a dynamic, interesting,  and humorous speaker.

Her grandmother was a maid for a white family in Mississippi that gave them their extra clothes and food.  They had no running water.  Her grandmother told Oprah that she hoped Oprah would find a nice whilte family like the ones that she worked for.  Oprah said she was thinking at the age of five  “uh uh” that she wasn’t going to be a maid but decided not to tell her grandma about that.

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Oprah thanked her grandmother for teaching her to read and write.  When her grandma was too ill to take care of a six year old, Oprah moved to Detroit to live with her mother.  She was in shock on her first day of  kindergarten.  Not only were all the children white but they were playing with ABC blocks.  She decided to write her teacher a letter.  Dear Miss … I do not think I should be in this class because I can read and write.  She wrote a long list of all the complicated words  that she knew… hippopotamus, invictus, …  Her teacher took her to the principal and they made her read and write again.  The next day she was moved to 1st grade.

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She spoke of the many difficulties that she overcame in her life.  She was raped at 9 years old and pregnant at 14.   She was sent to live with her father and he told her that one thing can’t happen in his house, teen pregnancy.  Little did she know that she was pregnant.  When she lost her baby soon after his birth, her father told her that  God had given her a second  chance and she should make the best of it.

In her two hour talk, she discussed her life as a broadcast journalist, her 25 years on Oprah show, the Color Purple movie, Maya Angelou, and her new current cable network OWN.  She will be producing a movie called SELMA (Martin Luther King’s march).  She was mesmerizing, confident, humorous, and a very moving speaker.  If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, I wholeheartedly recommend going.

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Early Paleo Thanksgiving Menu

Last weekend I went to Whole Foods and got my “sale” (40% off) organic Diestel Heidi’s Hen No GMO turkey.  I decided why not do an early Paleo Thanksgiving.  Turkey is one of Fred’s (my husband) favorites.   We  enjoyed the turkey and froze some for when we have a penchant for turkey in the coming weeks.  Here’s  my early Paleo Thanksgiving Menu and favorite paleo Thanksgiving recipes.

Roast Turkey with Thyme Butter and Fresh Sage

Zenbelly’s Best Ever Paleo Stuffing

Zenbelly’s Acorn Squash with Pears, Butter, & Cinnamon

Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards

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Roast Turkey with Thyme Butter and Fresh Sage

Ingredients

15 pound turkey (I used a fresh Diestel Organic Heidi’s Hen)

4 ounces butter (I used 1/2 a stick of Kerry’s Gold unsalted butter)

2 TBSP fresh thyme

8 -10 fresh sage leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 stalks celery

1/2 onion chopped in eighths

1/2 – 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Rinse turkey inside & out and pat dry with paper towels.  Remove turkey innards from both neck and turkey body cavity.

3.  Soften butter and add 2 TBSP chopped thyme.  Add salt if desired.

4. Loosen the skin above the turkey body cavity with your fingers.  Spread about a third to half of thyme butter mixture under the turkey skin all over as far back as you can reach.

5. Gently push each fresh sage leaf under the skin as far back as you can reach on each side of turkey breast.  Arrange sage leaves in a pattern under the turkey skin (four leaves per each side). This will look very beautiful after the turkey is cooked.

6.  Rub some thyme mixture in the turkey cavity.  Fill turkey cavity with a 1/2 -1 lemon, 4 springs of thyme, celery stalks and onion.  Truss the turkey legs with kitchen twine.  Tuck the neck skin underneath the turkey.  Rub the rest of the thyme butter all over the entire outside of the turkey.  Place turkey on a rack set in a large roasting pan.

7.  Cook at 425 degrees F for 1/2 hour.  Make sure to check if your turkey is too  brown too quickly after 15-20 minutes of cooking.  If the turkey is getting too brown, tent the turkey with tin foil to prevent further browning.

8.  Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake turkey for 2 1/2 more hours. Total estimated cooking time is about 3 – 3 1/2 hours total.  Baste turkey with the melted butter from the bottom of the pan every 1/2 hour.  Start checking turkey temperature after 1 1/2 hours.  Use an instant read thermometer.   The temperature should be at least 165 degrees F under the thickest part of the thigh when turkey is done.  Be sure thermometer is not touching the bone.

9.  When done let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.  Save the pan juices for pan gravy.

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Zenbelly’s Best Ever Paleo Stuffing

One of my favorite Paleo food blogs is Zenbelly.  I used her Best Ever Paleo Stuffing recipe and substituted Italian Sausage for ground pork.  I would increase the amount of fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, and fresh sage by another teaspoon each.  I added 1 cup pecans, which gave the stuffing a lot of crunch which I recommend.  The texture of the stuffing is wonderful!  This is an excellent addition to your paleo Thanksgiving menu.

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Zenbelly’s Acorn Squash with Pears, Butter, & Cinnamon

This  Acorn Squash with Pears, Butter, & Cinnamon recipe is one of my new fall favorites.  The acorn squash looks so elegant with the pear slices filling the center.  It’s  super easy to make.  I’ve substituted a Granny Smith apple for the pear slices with the result similar to a baked apple in the center of the acorn squash.  Very delicious!

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Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards

For dessert I recommend my Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards recipe.  They are delicious and can be topped with whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, or coconut chips.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday & enjoy!

2014 San Francisco Giants World Series Parade

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The San Francisco Giants are my absolute favorite baseball team.  When they won the 2014 World Series on Wednesday, I knew that I just had to go to their parade in San Francisco.  I had missed the two previous 2010 and 2012 World Series parades, so I was determined not to miss this year’s parade. The parade was scheduled for noon on Halloween, which was perfect because the Giants colors are orange and black.  All summer long there has been a terrible drought here in California and everyone wants it to rain.  But not on the day the Giants parade!  Despite the gloomy weather forecast, my neighbor, Clare and I ventured out to see my favorite team careen down Market street.

We decided to take BART (our mass transit) to San Francisco.  Our BART car was filled with so many Giants fans!  From babies to seniors, kids, men, women, families, all going to support their favorite team. All these Giants fans were in the best of moods and gave their advice on where was the best place to view the parade.   There were two options:  go to the Ferry Building which was where the parade would begin or go to the Civic Center where the Giants ceremony would be held.  The Ferry Building is a wonderful bit of San Francisco filled with delicious restaurants(Slanted Door), shops like Heath Ceramics, Boccalone(best salami), Acme Bread(delicious bread), Cowgirl Creamery(best cheese – try Mt. Tam), Miette(great macaroons), Delica(Japanese deli), and of course you can catch the Ferry there.

Our dilemma was solved when we decided to head toward the Ferry Building.  We exited at the Embarcadeo BART Station and made our way to Market Street.  Market Street was decorated with wonderful orange and black Giants World Series Championship banners.    Giants fans,  young and old,  were decked out in their favorite Giants garb(orange and black).  How convenient that Giants colors were also perfect for Halloween festivities later that evening.

We ended up near the intersection of Davis, Pine, and Market Street across from the PG&E building.  It was a little chilly and it was raining off and on but everyone around us was in such a very happy mood.  A woman in an orange Panda hat and two young women who were Madison Bumgarner fans were very friendly and funny.   The young Madison Bumgarner(MADBUM) fans even made orange signs for him.  They were one of the few “lucky” ones who got free pairs of black “MADBUM” jockey undies that they were giving away.  They were wearing their MADBUM undies to the parade.  There was a woman in a wheel chair who brought her whole family.   Her daughter told her mom, “Mom this is the best! So much better than what we would have done at school.  Thanks for bringing me!.”  Everyone was filled with good cheer and with anticipation for the parade.

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MADBUM fans!  Finally after much waiting the parade began!

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Buster Posey

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Santiago Casilla and Buster Posey

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Hunter Strickland and Tim Hudson

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Pablo (Panda) Sandoval

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Madison Bumgarner (MadBum)

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Hunter Pence

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Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez

After the wonderful parade, we went to peruse the Ferry Building and to get some lunch at Delica, Japanese deli.  It was the best Giants parade ever!  Go Giants!

David Leibovitz’s Delectable Celery Root salad with Mustard Sauce

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Last May, I went to San Francisco for my first cookbook signing, David Leibovitz’ My Paris Kitchen.   My sister, Susie was kind enough to accompany me.  I have been a fan of David’s blog for quite some time and have made numerous recipes of his… all which I may say are totally delicious!  Before the book signing, we had a great lunch(Roast duck noodles) at a small Cantonese restaurant, B&M Mei Sing restaurant on Second street.  The book signing was at Fog City News, a news shop that carries a vast varieties of magazines in multiple languages.  Another great thing about the David Leibovitz book signing was that they gave out samples of David’s celery root salad (Céleri Rémoulade) and grated carrot salad.  They were both delicious!  They were also passing out samples of chocolate.  Fog City News has quite an assortment of premium chocolate bars(bean to bar).  With these delicious salads and chocolate, who could resist purchasing such a wonderful cookbook.  I have made quite a few recipes from David’s book but since fall has arrived (and celery root is in season), I decided to try to recreate David’s delectable celery root salad with mustard sauce.

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Celery root is not a particularly attractive root vegetable.  But after slicing off the stem side and root side, it has a creamy white interior.  It has a texture that both crispy and crunchy.

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David advises, “Celery root is pretty easy to prepare, but does discolor a bit once sliced open and grated.  So make the dressing before slicing and grating the celery root, for best results.  I like mine really mustardy, so I use a fairly large amount.  If you’re unsure, start with less, you can add more, to taste, when the salad is finished.”

David Leibovitz’s Celery Root salad with Mustard Sauce

(Céleri Rémoulade)

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small celery roots (2  pounds) (I used 2 small)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

2 TBSP grainy mustard (I used a French mustard Maille)

1 TBSP dijon mustard (I used Grey Poupon)

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

2 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley

Tools

Food processor with grating disc

Directions

1.  In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, creme fraiche or sour cream, grainy mustard, dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt.

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2.  Lop off the top and bottom ends of celery root and set it on a cutting board on one of the flat sides.  Cut away the coarse skin slicing it with a curved motion, conserving as much flesh as possible.  Cut the root in half and then quarters.

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3. David likes to hand cut the celery root into match stick sized pieces.  (My above picture of the celery root salad was made with hand cut celery root).  Recently,  I used my food processor with a grating disc to cut the celery root into smaller bite sized pieces.  I found that the pieces of grated celery root cut using the food processor were smaller than the hand cut match stick size pieces but still remained crunchy in the mustard sauce.    If using a food processor be sure to use  the grating disc with the largest sized holes.  I will leave it up to you if you would prefer to hand cut match stick celery root pieces or use the food processor.  I personally would recommend using the food processor because it is much quicker.   Because the celery root discolors when exposed to air, toss celery root pieces into the mustard sauce immediately after finishing grating.

4.  Add chopped parsley and stir well to incorporate into salad.  Once dressed, this salad will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.  It will lose it’s crispness the longer it sits.

Bon Appetit!

Paleo pumpkin and maple syrup custards

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Fall has finally come to  the Bay Area(it’s actually raining today) and everywhere you go, there are pumpkin goodies in abundance.  Trader Joe’s even has an issue of it’s Fearless Flyer dedicated almost entirely to our favorite fall  pumpkin. There is pumpkin bread, pumpkin latte,  pumpkin butter, pumpkin spice coffee, and one of our favorites, pumpkin pie.  I found this paleo pumpkin cups recipe from Nom Nom Paleo and amped up the spices (Thanks to my mother-in-law Linda for spices from her fantastic homemade pumpkin pie!).  These crustless mini pumpkin custards are just perfect for a fall dessert. Top with toasted coconut chips, whipped coconut cream, or whipped cream. Totally delicious!

Ingredients

10 ramekins (4 ounces) or 7 ramekins(6 ounces) (I used 7 6 ounce) ramekins

1 1/4 Coconut Milk (I used half and half but use full fat canned coconut milk for paleo recipe)

4 large eggs

1/2 cup grade B Maple syrup

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin)

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp kosher salt (I omitted)

1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)

whipped coconut cream (optional)

whipped cream (optional)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degree F.

2.  Get 2  9 x 13 glass baking dishes. Line each glass baking dish with a small tea towel.   Turn on kettle to boil hot water.

3.  Heat coconut milk in a pan over low heat until steaming but not boiling.   (I heated my half and half in the microwave until warm.)

4.  Crack 4 eggs into a large bowl.  Add 1/2 cup maple syrup.  Whisk well.

5. Slowly add warmed coconut milk to the egg maple mixture a little at a time.  Mix vigorously.  Beware to add hot milk slowly or you might scramble your eggs.

6.  Add pumpkin, vanilla extract, salt, and spices.  Mix well until blended.

7.  Divide ramekins between the two towel lined baking dishes.  Ladle in pumpkin mixture into ramekins.

8.  Fill baking dishes with boiling water until the water comes up to halfway up the ramekins.  (Water bath for our delectable custards).  Carefully transport the baking dishes to the oven.

9.  Bake pumpkin custards for 30 minutes at 325 degrees F.  The custards are ready when the knife inserted into them comes out clean.

10. Cool ramekins on a wire rack for an hour.

11.  Top with toasted coconut chips, whipped coconut cream, or whipped cream.

Bon Appetit!

Fun DIY Fall Polkadot projects

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Fall is finally here in the Bay Area!  The Giants are going to the World Series!  Life is good! Here are a few fun fall polkadot DIY  projects!

Cute DIY polkadot tights from This Heart of Mine blog!

DIY polka dot tights

20 DIY Pattern tutorials to refresh your rug including a polkadot rug from Apartment Therapy!

20 DIY Pattern rug tutorials

From remodelaholic blog, cute DIY confetti curtains!

DIY confetti drapes

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