food

Exploring Calistoga

by tatiana on January 17, 2016

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

My good friend and former roommate returned from an 8 month trip backpacking around SE Asia and Central America last year. Before embarking on her trip she mentioned that she thought she might want to work in the wine industry when she got back, and she ended up doing just that. She now works at one of the most beautiful wineries in Calistoga (I mean all of them are pretty gorgeous, right?). My treks up to the North Bay usually take me to Sonoma or Napa, so I was excited to explore a new part of Northern California’s wine country – especially with some of my favorite people.

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I made the trip to Calistoga with three great friends, one who had moved down to Los Angeles 6 months earlier, so her return and our reunion as a group was really exciting and made for an extra fun trip. 

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We rented a car and drove up VERY early to get to the winery before the crowd arrived. Allegedly this place gets so crowded that you sometimes can’t get into the tasting room. When my friend suggested we arrive before 10am, my intial reaction was “I don’t think I can drink wine that early” and her response was “Just remember, it’s wine tasting, not wine drinking.” Valid, but I mean, we all know me. That being said, I was the driver this time around so I stayed well-hydrated and reluctantly used the spitoon throughout the day.

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

This is Tatiana after a 10am wine tasting. #supermodel

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

Tatiana after a 10am wine tasting also makes her friends pose by the flowers. 

Anyway, our first stop was Chateau Montelena, home of the winery whose Chardonnay put California wine on the map at the end of the 1970s. If you haven’t seen or heard of the film Bottle Shock, you will have after visiting the winery because they proudly display it along with other merchandise. I watched the movie before visiting the winery and I give it a 2 out of 5 stars. It’s ok. The story is pretty incredible though, and Chateau Montelena is definitely a place to visit.

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We went through the tasting menu and I picked up a bottle of their 2012 Riesling, which surprisingly was my favorite. I tend to stay away from the sweeter whites but this one was delightfully mellow.

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Our day continued with visits to a couple more wineries, lunch in downtown Calistoga and a nap in the car around 3pm by a park, with the AC running, because we are adults and wine does that to you.

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

Exploring Calistoga | tatianajimenez.com

That face says “I need a nap and I need it now.”

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My beautiful friends, in a slightly blurred photo taken by a fellow tourist.

After our group nap in the car, we met up with our friend for dinner when her shift was over, said our goodbyes-for-now to our friend and the wine country sunshine, and made our way back to foggy San Francisco.

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Bread and Butter Pickles | Recipe and Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

The dream of the 1890s is alive in my tiny kitchen, you guys.

As we all learned from reading Little House on the Prairie, food preservation was an integral part of life before refrigeration. Nowadays, canning remains a popular way to preserve the fruits and vegetables people grow in their gardens, but what about those of us who don’t have a garden? Although I may be a garden-less city dweller, I love picking up in-season fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. Canning for me is more of a hobby than a necessity, so, what does this hobby cost me?

I’m pretty new to the canning game, this being the fourth time I’ve dedicated a day to creating a stash of goods to enjoy over the coming months, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. (I’m definitely still a beginner, though!) Here, I’ll share the costs of getting started, tools you’ll need, things I’ve learned and, my thrice tested (and ever-evolving) Bread and Butter Pickles recipe.

What You’ll Need

Before making my first batch of pickles I watched numerous YouTube videos, pored over tons of blog and recipe sites, and took copious notes with techniques and ingredients I wanted to try. Here are a couple of my favorite videos that go over the basics of canning pickles: video one and video two.

Canning involves working with very hot water and glass, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools so you don’t hurt yourself. I recommend a kit similar to the following:

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

I bought mine on Amazon and it cost $13.99 at the time. I use all of the tools except for the regular tongs. I’m still not sure what those are for.

You’ll also need a water bath canner, which is basically a huge pot that you can fill with water high enough so your jars are completely submerged. I purchased this one, again from Amazon, and it cost about $20.

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

In addition to the internet, as mentioned above, I found that this book has been an excellent resource.

Canning Tips | tatianajimenez.com

It isn’t the sexiest book, but it is wonderful, and goes over everything you need to know about the science behind canning, safety guidelines, and contains a lot of great recipes.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe (and a Cost Breakdown)*

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

8 lbs Pickling Cucumbers – $12 
3 lbs Yellow Onions – $3 
3 tbsp Mustard Seed – $7.98 (2 packs at $3.99/each)
4 c White Vinegar – $3.99 (per 64 oz. bottle)
3 c Apple Cider Vinegar – $3.99 (per 32 oz. bottle)
6 c White Sugar – $1.99 (per 4lb bag)
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes – $1.99 (per 1 oz. pack)
1.5 tsp Turmeric – $4.59 (per 2.4 oz. jar)
2 tsp Celery Seed – $3.99 (per 2.4 oz. jar)
1 c Kosher Salt – $3.49 (per 48 oz box)

Cost of Ingredients: $47.01 (assuming you have to purchase all items and don’t have anything on hand)
Cost of Jars: About $8 (The cost of jars can vary depending where you buy them. I purchased mine individually from a local hardware store for 0.75 each.)
Cost of Canning Supplies: About $24

Total First Time Cost: $79.01

* All cost estimates based on local San Francisco pricing. A few other quick things about this cost breakdown that are important to remember: 1.) You can reuse your jars. Just make sure you purchase new lids as those can only be used once, 2.) Almost all of your spices and vinegars will be good for about two or more batches of this recipe (or other recipes), 3.) The math breaks down to $6.58 per pint jar, which still isn’t bad when compared to really good quality pickles on the market. And if you’re reusing jars, and already have canning equipment on hand, it really is about $3.92, or less if you have spices and vinegar on hand. 

Now that we have our costs laid out, let’s jump right into the recipe! First, you’ll need to slice the cucumbers. I like to slice them at about 1/3 of an inch because I like a chunkier, crisper pickle. Then, slice the onions.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Quick tip: taste test a bit of every cucumber just in case you have a bad/bitter cucumber in your batch.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Put them in any non-reactive container (I went with the stoneware part of my Crockpot and a couple Ziploc bags). Take your cup of kosher salt and add it to your pickle/onion mixture. Put that in the fridge and let it do it’s thing for 2-3 hours (3 hours is most commonly recommended, but I sometimes get impatient, and 2 hours has been totally fine).

While your pickles are literally chillin, you can start boiling the water in your canner. This will take about 30-45 minutes to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your jars carefully to the water, cover and boil for 10 minutes.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Carefully uncover the pot, let the water cool a bit before pulling the jars out so there aren’t as many boiling bubbles and possibilities to burn the crap out of yourself. Remove the jars and place them on a clean towel on your nearest surface.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

You’ll also want to throw some of that hot water into a bowl to sanitize your lids. Make sure this water cools a bit, as it should not be boiling. Keep those sitting in the water until you need them.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Next you’ll prepare the pickle liquid mixture. In a large pot we’ll add both types of vinegar, the sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Put it on the stove and heat it on high.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Take your produce out of the fridge and rinse it well. You want to remove the salt. Add the produce to the pickling liquid and combine. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then get ready to jar.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

With your handy curvy tongs and funnel, ladle your pickles into the jars. Be sure to also add enough liquid, and leave 1 inch of space.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Once the jars have been filled, you’ll want to use your stick tool (a wooden chopstick also works fine here) and release bubbles by swishing it around the sides of the jar. Then take a clean, damp towel and wipe the tops of the jars. Place the lids on the jars carefully with your magnet stick (or tongs, just remember that these are probably still hot!), and twist on the bands finger tight (which means, don’t screw it on super tight or else you could crack your jars).

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

Now we’re ready to can! Carefully place the jars in your canner. You’ll want to follow proper protocol regarding elevation and how long to process your jars, but I processed mine for 10 minutes.

Once processed, remove your jars and place on a towel about 1″ apart from each other to cool. You should hear a pop, which means your jars have sealed. Leave untouched for 24 hours.

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe and Canning Tips for Beginners | tatianajimenez.com

24 hours later, make sure your jars have sealed by removing the band and picking up the jar from the lid. Be careful just in case your lid pops off. If it does, the pickles did not process properly and you should refrigerate those and eat them within the next few months. The jars that sealed properly should last a year.

Do you have experience canning and preserving foods? Have some recipes or tips you’d like to share? Let me know!

My Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 8 lbs Pickling Cucumbers
  2. 3 lbs Yellow Onions
  3. 3 tbsp Mustard Seed
  4. 4 c White Vinegar
  5. 3 c Apple Cider Vinegar
  6. 6 c White Sugar
  7. 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  8. 1.5 tsp Turmeric
  9. 2 tsp Celery Seed
  10. 1 c Kosher Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cucumbers at about 1/3 of an inch. Thinly slice the onions. Put them in any non-reactive container or Ziploc bags. Add the kosher salt to the pickle/onion mixture. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  2. Start heating the water in your canner. This will take about 30-45 minutes to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your jars carefully to the water, cover and boil for 10 minutes to sanitize. Remove the jars and place them on a clean towel on your nearest surface.
  3. Ladle some of the hot water into a bowl to sanitize your lids. Make sure this water cools a bit, as it should not be boiling. Keep those sitting in the water until you need them.
  4. Next you'll prepare the pickle liquid mixture. In a large pot combine both types of vinegar, the sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed. Put it on the stove and heat it on high.
  5. After 2-3 hours have passed, take your produce out of the fridge and rinse it well. You want to remove the salt. Add the produce to the pickling liquid and combine. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then get ready to jar.
  6. With your curvy tongs and funnel, ladle your pickles into the jars. Be sure to top with liquid, and leave 1 inch of space.
  7. Once the jars have been filled, use your stick tool to release bubbles by carefully swishing it around the sides of the jar. Then take a clean, damp towel and wipe the tops of the jars. Place the lids on the jars carefully with your magnet stick (or tongs, just remember that these are probably still hot!), and twist on the bands finger tight.
  8. Now you're ready to can! Carefully place the jars in your canner. You'll want to follow proper protocol regarding elevation and how long to process your jars, but I processed mine for 10 minutes.
  9. Once processed, remove jars from the canner and place on a towel about 1" apart from each other to cool. You should hear a pop, which means your jars have sealed. Leave untouched for 24 hours. 24 hours later, make sure your jars have sealed by removing the band and picking up the jar from the lid. Be careful just in case your lid pops off. If it does, the pickles did not process properly and you should refrigerate those and eat them within the next few months. The jars that sealed properly should last a year.
Tatiana Jimenez | Design + Marketing + DIY http://www.tatianajimenez.com/

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Day Trip to Sonoma & Real Talk About Wine

by tatiana on July 6, 2014

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

So, fun fact: I managed to stay away from wine until I was about 22 years old. In college, my roommate and another close friend would hang out in our living room with a bottle of Merlot and a plate of stinky cheese whilst watching America’s Next Top Model, and the buttery smell of the wine + the crazy cheese really turned me off. I didn’t grow up around these foods and thought they wouldn’t be enjoyable for me. As a result I went through most of college drinking Midori Sours. Headache central, kids. Head. Ache. Central. Luckily I eventually navigated to new waters that brought me to more fun and complex beverage experiences.┬áMy gateway wine was a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, and at that moment I knew that there was a world that I had been missing out on. (And I now LOVE stinky cheese, although there are still a few that are outside of my olfactory comfort zone.)

A few months ago some coworkers and I decided to take advantage of how close we are to California’s wine country and visited a few wineries in Sonoma. I brought my camera along to document our experience. We visited the following wineries: Cline, Jacuzzi (owned by Cline), and Chateau St. Jean.

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

This first photo (above) was taken at a winery that I a.) don’t remember the name of and b.) had an unpleasant experience at. The woman pouring the wine wasn’t welcoming and answered our questions with either monosyllabic answers or a condescending tone. I think a few ladies in my group still purchased some bottles, and the woman was friendly after that, which felt extra icky to me. I’m happy to report that everyone at the wineries I listed, that we visited after this first winery, were friendly, knowledgeable and a lot of fun.

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

Checking out the tasting menu at Jacuzzi.

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

Pretty stained window at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

Taking a moment to pose with the wax man statue at Jacuzzi.

We went to the Girl and the Fig for lunch, and it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had. Included below is a photo of the cheese plate, which was one of the many things we ordered. What a treat! If you’re ever in Sonoma, I highly recommend checking it out.

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com sonoma_09

Caitlin orders her first Bloody Mary (EVER) at Girl and the Fig.

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

We ended our trip at Chateau St. Jean. The photo below was taken by my friend and perfectly describes how I feel after a day of wine tasting:

Day Trip to Sonoma | tatianajimenez.com

Fuzzy and incredibly content.

Do you have any favorite wineries in the Bay Area that you’d recommend? Let me know!

In related news, I recently starting using the Delectable App for the iPhone. (Add me by searching for Tatiana Jimenez!) It’s kind of like a combination of Instagram, Yelp and Foursquare, but for wine. You take a photo of the label, or point to the wine you ordered on a menu and it identifies the wine, adds it to your wine feed, and you can rate it and add notes. It also organizes the wines you’ve tried into country, region, sub-region, etc. It is slowly turning me into a wine nerd, and I’m ok with that.

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Happy Monday, kids. I thought I’d share a web banner that I made tonight for the good folks who are organizing International Beer Day. [click to continue…]

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So, across the street from the home of my favorite breakfast burrito of all time is a place I’ve never been to before called eVocal. I’ve always admired the neat signage from afar, and today I guess I will finally be checking it out. KROQ is hosting a free show at eVocal with The Jakes as the headlining act. Stay tuned for photos and my oh so important thoughts. (Ha!) Right now I’m mostly excited about that breakfast burrito…

jakes-poster

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Open Source Sewing

by tatiana on May 7, 2008

I am all about open source. From open source code, to creative commons, you name it. I think it’s great. Recently I’ve stumbled upon this amazing website.
Visit burdastyle.com!Visit burdastyle.com!
If you haven’t visited it already, DO IT NOW! BurdaStyle.com is a great way to obtain patterns for FREE. Yes, free. Amazing. You can search for patterns based on difficulty level (Very Easy to Hard) or by garment type. All you need to do is register and own a printer (or have a generous friend who owns a printer), and you’re making your own stuff for close to nothing! As in, ZERO DOLLARS. I’m all about saving the moola.

Speaking of saving moola, if you’re interested in reading how you can become a more conscious consumer visit this lady’s blog for some nifty ideas: You Might As Well Burn $5!

Also, in recent weeks I have become more motivated about supporting local agriculture, and basically just trying to maintain a healthier diet. I have joined my roommate in purchasing all of our produce (fruits and veggies) from our local CSA (ours is http://www.southcoastfarms.com/csa.htm but you can find out which CSA is most local to you and more info here). I say give it a whirl. I think it’s great so far. Granted, the baskets come with some really weird stuff. Alien-like plants/vegetables that look like they might eat me before I eat them (ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but kohlrabi is intimidating). Anyway, figuring out how to cook with new things is always a great learning experience. Mmmm and a yummy one. Go check it out.

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