Fire + Fish + Beer Recap

5 Jun


Skill Exchange! One of the best things to come from organizing these events are the new friends and collaborators I’ve gotten to know. I single-mindedly focused on the student-side of things when I first started Skill Exchange, but one of the most rewarding parts has been this growing network of teachers and makers. For every stressful moment, there seems to be a creative counterpart– a good conversation, a shared resource, a new idea. Fishmongers, photographers, makers, printers, chefs– I’ve learned so much and had so many opportunities to grow my practice and work with inspiring and challenging makers. James Tucker, of The Aesthetic Union is one of the those makers. We met through the Skill Exchange network a few years ago and now frequently collaborate on client projects as well as personal ones. James is a pressman that uses just the right combination of humor, know-how and hard work.

During the planning process back in early May, James offered to help out with a special print project to share with students during our May event. He suggested letterpress menus, for our grilled lunch– and within about 48 hours, I sketched some illustrative bits, Edible SF Editor Bruce Cole put together a summery meal of grilled fish and seasonal vegetables. I handed the menu file off to James– no nit-picky color, additional plates or other requirements (I’m good at that part, you can ask James). I told James to go for it, and this is was his contribution to the project. Beautiful splint fountain, and wonderfully textured paper with a raw edge, and some serious printing skill. Its not often that I can comfortably close my eyes and hand off a project to someone else– but working with James is a delight.

Fire + Fish + Beer Skill Exchange
I also worked with the amazingly talented Kimberley Hasselbrink, photographer, author, food blogger and all around San Francisco lady-business powerhouse. Kimberley shared a recipe and tasting at the May event, but she also worked throughout, documenting the day for Skill Exchange. It is a real pleasure to hand off the responsibility of documentation to someone as talented as Kimberley. I am frequently the organizer/host/photographer/micro-manager during all Skill Exchange events — its a task I take on because I for the most part, like all of those things, but its sometimes hard to step outside the roles in the moment to see and experience the events with fresh eyes.

During a workshop, I’m frequently thinking ahead to what needs to be lined up or prepped, or whats missing, or what might go wrong– so I often miss out on small moments. Receiving the event photos from Kimberley was like Christmas, I was seeing so many sweet moments for the very first time. Honestly, look at these faces below! Serious determination to shuck that oyster in the foreground and total delight in the background as one of our students plucks his first oyster out of the shell. This stuff makes me feel almost weepy!

Fire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill Exchange
Who am I kidding here, I DO feel very emotional looking at all these photos. If you’d like to see more photos by Kimberley, the whole set is now available on the newly redesigned Skill Exchange website,


Two things // June

3 Jun

Last month I wrote a very brief post about two things I was currently infatuated with. I still feel the same way about those two things but this month, I’ve got two new things to feel strong feelings for. Item one: Kimchi! For the last two weeks the pantry tucked away at the back of our house has been giving off a sorta pungent (fermented) scent– especially on warm days. Home fermentation guys! After the big event in May, Austin of Fermenters Club sent us home with two pints of ready-to-ferment kimchi. All we had to to was cover them with cheese cloth, and keep an eye on the liquid level and prepare ourselves for a kinda kimchi-scented kitchen for 1-2 weeks. I tasted them raw, then one week into the fermentation process, then again this weekend, 15 days after we got them started. I like a forkful of kimchi anytime, but we also make kimchi fried rice for weeknight dinners pretty frequently with leftover rice and random vegetables we’ve got in the fridge. Throw an egg on that and dinner is delicious. We’ve tried a few variations of kimchi fried rice– this one from Serious Eats is pretty basic but good.

Item two: ROASTED CAULIFLOWER. My mom recently told me that I used to call cauliflower “fake broccoli” when I was little. I’ve always felt that way about cauliflower, because my love for broccoli has always been much, much stronger. Cauliflower was in my opinion, the bland boring sister to cauliflower, that is until  4 weeks ago when I fell for roasted, crispy, sweet and salty cauliflower. I am converted. We’ve had it at least once a week roasted with olive oil, sea salt and Aleppo pepper. I will eat it straight out of the oven, burning my mouth and fingers, or, the more adult way, tossed with roasted garlic, arugula, good olive oil and pasta with a little pecorino romano on top. Now I know that roasting is going to make almost any boring vegetable delicious (broccoli, cabbage, radishes, brussels sprouts) but roasted cauliflower is really really good.


Maybe blurry May

27 May

The month of May has been a blur. I’ve been busy with the shop, packaging and fulfilling orders and sanding, always sanding. I also spent a few blurry and busy few weeks prepping for the big summer Skill Exchange event over at StoreFrontLab. It was my dream lineup of teachers and workshops, but it was as always, an intense experience to bring it all together. I somehow seem to forget that putting on events takes a lot out of me, physically and emotionally, even though I do enjoy most of the organizing, planning, and final results. The results, by the way, were wonderful. Joanna wrote a very lovely recap of her experience as a student at Skill Exchange over at Jojotastic.

All of our teachers were passionate and so generous with their time and skills– in the coming weeks I’ll share photos and a full recap of the whole event, captured by photographer Kimberley Hasselbrink of The Year in Food. I am very excited to see these photos! For much of the day I was so busy running around behind the scenes, I know I missed quite a few skills. I put together a short video of a few moments, but I’m already eager to see what else Kimberley captured of our day.  I realize now that I’ve almost completely stopped toting my camera around, and most of the time have become too lazy/forgetful to take photos at home. I’d blame it on being busy, but being busy just seems like a dumb excuse. I forced Intern to take the above photo of me, and it may be the one and only photo of me there, and probably the only one of me looking way less stressed than I actually felt. The other photos were taken during a leisurely late lunch mid-week in mid-May, when Intern and I both snuck away from work to take care of a few errands in Hayes Valley, and have nothing to do with the contents of this blog post. Feels like an appropriate way to sum up the past few weeks– lots of unrelated everything-all-at-once.


Real Life (with 4 cats)

14 May

There is little to be said that could fully capture the amazing nature of this moment. This rarely happens. From left to right: Neebu, Lucca, Sofia and Muuli.  I already shared another version of this photo on Instagram, but I can’t help myself.


Two things

12 May

Two of our favorite things right now- One: Prosecco and Aperol happy hour, because I can’t ever stop loving the bitter, floral and bubbly combination. On a warm evening, nothing is better.

Two: Barley risotto. We’re hooked after trying Bon Appetit’s recipe from the April issue. We started with the spinach and herb combination, and now have moved on to other variations– this week’s included freshly shelled fava beans and peas, with an arugula pesto mixed in at the end. We reheated leftovers the next day, and served it with a poached egg for a very, very late breakfast. The recipe seems like a lot of work, (but risotto is always a lot of work) but this is completely worth every extra step. The toasted barley has a really wonderful texture and flavor, but also very creamy like regular risotto.

We’re 6 days away from the Skill Exchange grilling workshop(s) on Saturday, with only a few tickets left. Last night, after a full day of pretending it was Friday, I got into bed and my brain went into list-making-worrying-not-sleeping mode. Paired with 4 abnormally wild hellion cats that staged an all out attack on human sleep last night, I’m feeling tired and also pretty wired today. Also, very excited.

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