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Alternatives to cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving | NaBloPoMo day 2

Over on About Food Preservation, I’m offering up some alternative ideas for condiments and the relish tray for Thanksgiving. Not that there’s anything wrong with cranberry sauce, but why not think outside the box with chutneys, pickles, and more?

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November’s folly | NaBloPoMo day 1

Not that you'd know it from reading this blog, but I write a lot. All day, every day, my job is to create content—or, more accurately, my jobs. Currently, I'm doing recipe editing and copywriting for Din, email marketing for California Wines, and I'm the Food Preservation Expert on Above and beyond that, I support my husband, realtor dpaul brown, with some blog and newsletter content, as well as my own DIY food site, Punk Domestics. Once in a while, I even manage to pinch out a freelance story or two. So in light of all that, the idea of writing on a personal blog is fairly ludicrous. 

Yet, the very reason I started Hedonia nearly 10 years (!) ago is that I needed a place that was wholly mine, where I wrote for, of, and about myself. This is why, as I have done in a few years past, I am undertaking National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo), wherein I will post something each day in November. 

This is not to say that I will be posting 30 new things on Hedonia. That's just crazy talk. Rather, I am taking this as an opportunity to shine some light on my other projects. I'll be writing about my recent trip to Italy over on Punk Domestics, talking about some fall preserving items on, and even have arranged to do a guest post over on

That said, I do have plans to write a few things exclusively here, though I reserve the right to post the occasional Wordless Wednesday. If things go really sideways, it may turn into Mute Monday, Taciturn Tuesday, Thunderstruck Thursday, Fuhgeddaboutit Friday, Silent Saturday, and Shhh! Sunday. But I'll make an honest go of it. 

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Up the Hatch (chiles)

Ages ago, I lived in Santa Fe. Ask anyone who knows me; I talk about it a lot, even though it's been almost 25 years. New Mexico is where I developed my addiction for spice, since green chiles are the condiment of choice on all foods, at every meal. 

Specifically, the most popular chile of the region is the Hatch chile, a long, crooked green pepper. It is the quintessential flavor of New Mexican cuisine, and now is the season for them. So when I received an invitation from Mollie Stone's for their annual Hatch chile roast with a voucher for a free 10-pound box, I didn't hesitate to RSVP. 

So it was on an uncharacteristically New Mexico-like Sunday that I arrived at the Castro store. As I stepped out of my car in the dry, sweltering heat, I was greeted by the roar of roasters and the smoky aroma of searing peppers. 

Hatch chiles roasting from Sean Timberlake on Vimeo.

After observing the roasting for a bit, I went up to place my order. Three types were on offer: Medium, Hot and Extra Hot. I have very little use for the medium heat, but I know too well that the extra hot would be positively fatal. To confirm my choice, I grabbed a sample of the hot chile. 

Hatch chile tasting

At first I got the marvelous taste of the pepper itself—vegetal, lightly fruity, almost sweet. This was immediately followed by a searing heat that raced up my tongue and coated the interior of my mouth. My diaphragm convulsed in a single hiccup. My temples throbbed. Fat tears involuntarily squeezed out of the corners of my eyes and tumbled down my cheeks. 

Hello, old friend. 

"Too hot?" the woman behind the table asked. "No," I croaked, "just perfect." 

I placed my order for 10 pounds of the little demons, and minutes later was rewarded with a box containing a bag, inside which my freshly roasted peppers were steaming off their skins. Once they cooled, we set to work slipping their charred skins off and removing the veins and seeds. Sane people would wear gloves; we did not. So, hours after the job, my hands prickled well into the evening. A glutton for punishment, I am. 

A few have already made their way into some (spicy!) peach salsa, and I plan to make chile verde and some other salsas. The chile roast continues its way around the Bay Area through September, so check out the schedule if you want to get some fresh Hatches of your own. 

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Ai Weiwei @Large, Alcatraz

Today's the last day to catch Ai Weiwei's @Large exhibit on Alcatraz. In case you missed it, here's a few shots from our visit earlier this week. 

As you enter the New Industries Building, you're faced with a tremendous, colorful dragon. The dragon is a symbol of power and freedom, and incorporated in the body of the dragon are panels with quotes from political prisoners.

Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz


In the next room, political prisoners are depicted in portraits done in Legos.

Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

Portraits of political prisoners in Legos, Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

Edward Snowden portrait in Legos, Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

In the main prison, one block of cells was equipped with audio. Each cell had a different experience — readings, music — that you immersed yourself in as you entered the cell. 

Woman sitting in cell listening to audio at the Ai Weiwei exhibit, Alcatraz

I hadn't been to Alcatraz in well over 20 years, and this was only my second visit. Living here, it's easy to relegate it to the list of things that tourists do, but it's worth a visit now and then. 

Abandoned structure, Alcatraz

Diesel tank not in use, Alcatraz

Indian graffiti on water tower, Alcatraz

Seagull, Alcatraz

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