Tuesday, July 31, 2012

santa maria style tri tip

IMG_3606 IMG_3612 IMG_3619 IMG_3622 IMG_3625 This is one of the best and easiest recipes in my arsenal. I make this Santa Maria style tri tip whenever we have people over for dinner (matter of fact, I should probably come up with something new to make before people catch onto that...). When I made this over the weekend, I served it with some Cilantro Lime Grilled Shrimp for a California style surf 'n turf along with a grilled salad composed of chopped carrots, bell peppers, and a maui onion. 

Because I have definitely had to perfect my tri tip grilling skill through trial and error (I have caught one on fire and overcooked a couple), so I wanted to share my hard-earned keys to success my favorite cut of beef.

On a side not, one thing that my mother taught me when I first moved into my own apartment was to talk to the butchers where I bought my meat. This was a great piece of advice as butchers are some of the friendliest people working in any grocery store (does that seem odd to anyone else...?). If you buy whole chickens to grill or roast in pieces, the butcher will cut them into pieces for you in any way that you like. Most butchers will also season meat for you (I have never tried this one, but I probably should). The butcher can tell you how much meat you should buy for a dinner party (on Sunday I told him that I was feeding four people and wanted to have leftovers). They will also give you pointers on how to prepare different cuts of meat along with the do's and don'ts of handling those cuts. Since I've been shopping at the same markets on the same days at the same time each week for the last two years, the butcher has become familiar with my shopping habits and will make sure that I know when certain things are on sale so that I can stock up. Did I mention that all of these services are usually free?

So, the moral of that whole story is: if you eat meat, talk to your butcher! And then make this:

Santa Maria Style Tri Tip
Serves as many as you need it to
  • Tri Tip Roast
  • Salt (I used Himalayan Pink Salt this time, but I usually use sea salt)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
Turn all burners of your grill on high and put the lid down. You want it to get nice and hot in there. 

Here's how easy this is: sprinkle salt and pepper (as much or as little as you like) on the fat side of the roast. Then sprinkle with garlic powder liberally--you want to form a crust on the outside of the roast.. Pat the spices into the meat, flip over and repeat on the other side. Don't forget about the edges of the roast! I usually flip it over again and sprinkle a little more garlic powder on it to cover the spaces that were "messed up" during the flipping. 

Now, turn one side of your grill off, and turn the other side down to low. Place the roast on the grill fat side down first on the side of the grill with no direct flame and close the lid. Cook for 15 minutes, flip, then cook on the other side for another 15 minutes. Turn the one side of the grill up to medium-high heat, flip the roast, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 135 degrees. I like my tri tip prepared medium rare, so you may want to add or subtract cooking time for your preference. Remove the roast from the grill and tent with tin foil for 15 minutes. Enjoy! 

In the words of Ina Garten: "How easy is that?"

Monday, July 30, 2012

the weekend

IMG_3574 IMG_3591 IMG_3593 IMG_3616 IMG_3638 Our weekend was one of those sort of perfect lazy summer weekends filled with Olympics, fresh food, a baseball game, and some Sunday afternoon time spent with family. We tried to stay up for the whole of the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, but fell asleep just before the lighting of the torch and Paul McCartney's closing concert. I wasn't too disappointed since my favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies are all of the outfits (and using Google maps and Wikipedia to learn more about some of the participating nations. Needless to say I could definitely use a little refresher course in geography). Did you have a favorite and/or least favorite Opening Ceremonies team outfit? I thought our US team looked great, but I am still incredibly disappointed in the outsourcing of the garments to China.

Apart from cheering on Team USA, we ate a lot of good food including some bruschetta made with tomatoes from both our CSA box and my Mother-In-Law's garden, barbecued tri tip, and some homemade citrus margaritas (recipes coming soon, I promise!). We even squeezed in an Angels game which was followed up by a Goo Goo Dolls concert. So much fun--the concert transported me right back to 8th and 9th grades...I know you all remember this song, right? We ended the weekend with having Justin's parents over for a little tri tip barbecue and putting our new patio furniture to good use!

I hope that you all enjoyed a lovely summer weekend. Can you believe that we are entering the last few days of July? It feels like the beginning of the end of summer. Especially when I see parents and students shopping for school supplies at Target, and people are starting to post fall and even Thanksgiving inspirations on Pinterest. Time flies...

Friday, July 13, 2012

recycle bins

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Here is another one of those projects that has been on my to do list for quite some time. I am big on recycling--my father taught us the importance of recycling at a young age (way before it was cool and it may surprise you to learn that my father is a staunch right-wing conservative). As a matter of fact, when we were just wee children, my sister and I started up R & J Enterprises which was our little business of collecting aluminum cans and taking them into a recycling center. We made little flyers on my dad's Tandy and printed them out on his dot matrix printer, carefully tearing off the dotted sides before handing them out to our neighborhood. Once a week we would take our little Red Flyer wagon around to all of our neighbors who had agreed to give us their aluminum cans. We used my dad's weights and/or our feet to crush the cans until we made enough money to upgrade our equipment to a wall-mounted can crusher. I wish I knew where that can crusher was today--it would be a fun little reminder of our early entrepreneurial efforts.

Now that I'm all grown up and R & J Enterprises has long been inactive, I still feel that recycling is very important. We have two bins in our kitchen--one for trash and one for recyclables. In the past, whenever the recyclable bin was full, we would take it down to the garage and drop the bag in a corner. Each week I would say, "I've got to take the recycles in this weekend." Each weekend I would not feel like sorting through all of the recyclables and then they would never get taken in. It took Justin helping me sort through all of the bags the other weekend for us to hop in the car and head down to Home Depot to find some bins to make this process much cleaner, easier, and more efficient.

The bins may not be beautiful, but they certainly are very useful. Now it is very easy to just sort each bag as it becomes full, and when a  bin gets full I can easily throw it in the back of my car and drive it down the street to the recycle center. The paper bag on the side is for non-CRV recyclables which I can take care of on my weekly trip to Target. Now I just need to make some cute labels for the bins...

This post is part of The William Morris Project with Pancakes and French Fries.

Friday, July 6, 2012

balboa peninsula

IMG_3260 IMG_3261 IMG_3265 IMG_3267 IMG_3268 IMG_3269 Photobucket

My sister and I have been trying to take the beach cruisers down to the Balboa Peninsula/Newport Beach for awhile, but it just never seemed to quite work out for us. On this visit, we made it happen. We found a parking spot in the little lot on Superior Ave just off of the PCH (you can see it marked on the map above--the metered rate is $1.50/hr). 

We then rode our little beach cruisers down to the Newport Balboa Bike Trail down to the Balboa Fun Zone where we stopped at the Balboa Candy store where we tried some amazing salt water taffy. Maple bacon, caramel corn, key lime, coconut, and frosted cupcake were a few of the flavors that tempted us. Then we crossed the street to the Balboa Fun Zone for classic Newport Treats: a Balboa Bar with rainbow sprinkles and a frozen banana. 

If you have more time than we did, you could ride all the way down to the little park at the tip of the peninsula and watch some body surfing, or you could take the Balboa Island Ferry over to Balboa Island and ride around, stop for some dinner and/or a drink, and stop into some of the cute little shops over on the island. Jackie and I decided that next time we're going to make it a day trip and spend some time lounging on the beach.

Have you ever been down to the Balboa Peninsula? What are your favorite spots and things to do?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

disneyland pt. 2

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My personal favorite at Disneyland was, once again, Tom Sawyer's Island. I know that it's lame, but I loved the books. And, the island with all of its little forts and tunnels reminds me of my childhood and the ways and places that Jackie and I used to play. We were always outside and everywhere we went we would build forts and dams (do all children build dams, or just the children of civil engineers?). As a part of our Tom Sawyer experience, we did the canoe "ride" around the island which gave us a nice little upper body workout in addition to the 8 hours of walking around for the day.

We wrapped up our day by taking a quick jaunt back to Tomorrowland for Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear before the Disney Parade. By the end of the parade, we were all feeling pretty old and ready to head home at 6:30pm...We kind of wanted to stay for the fireworks, but couldn't imagine hanging around for another 3 hours, so we decided that next time Jackie is in town we will head down to Downtown Disney for dinner and some walking around and watch the nightly fireworks show from there.

Overall, my mid-to-late 20's self enjoyed Disneyland far more than my teenage self did 8 years ago. I was  amazed with the attention to detail in everything from the plants in front of the Matterhorn to the mailboxes in the Mainstreet, U.S.A. area. I'm so glad that I finally got around to giving the park a second chance, and I'm even more glad that my sister finally had the opportunity to take her first trip to Disneyland! Next on the Disney agenda: California Adventure!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

disneyland pt. 1

Jackie and I on the tram
Main Street, U.S.A.
Indiana Jones Adventure
Splash Mountain
Me: What was that face? Jackie: I was trying to look like Justin in pictures.
In line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
My Prince Charming
Justin barely fit into the teacup, but he was actually smiling in all of the photos from this ride. I guess Disneyland really is the "happiest place on earth..."
It's a Small World

My sister has brought up Disneyland every time she has come down to visit us. I kept brushing her off because I had only been to Disneyland one time when I was 19, and I just was not a fan. Last time she was down to visit, it came out that she had never been to Disneyland. I felt terrible for blowing her off and promised that the next time she came to visit, we would go to Disneyland. And go to Disneyland we did!

We decided to go on Sunday right when it opened at 8am in hopes that it would be less busy despite the fact that it was the prime of summer vacation season. We were also hoping the the crowds would be lighter due to the opening of the new Cars Land at California Adventure. We also decided that we would hit all of the big attraction rides first, then go back to each land visiting whatever sounded like fun. Our plan worked, and on July 1st we were able to go on every single attraction with our longest waiting time being 40 minutes! 

We had so much fun! I knew it would be because my sister is always so much fun. The most popular ride of the day with our group was Space Mountain. Space Mountain was closed last time I was at Disney, so I was very excited to finally have the chance to experience the attraction. We also loved Indiana Jones, of course. I think they changed it--didn't it used to have the big rock rolling toward you, or is my memory faulty? Other favorites included Splash Mountain and the updated Pirates of the Caribbean.Worst ride of the day: It's a Small World. Does anyone like that ride? It is pretty, though!

I'll post the rest of our Disney adventure tomorrow including Tom Sawyer's Island and the Disney parade! 

Monday, July 2, 2012


IMG_3259 IMG_3257 bruxie

My sister was in town over the weekend, and we decided to head over to Bruxie in Old Town Orange for a late breakfast (I don't really think you can call it brunch when you walk up to a little stand to place your order). Bruxie is one of my favorite places to eat in Orange County because the concept is so fun and original. A little food stand in one of my favorite neighborhoods that only serves gourmet waffle sandwiches? Yes, please!

The menu is full of the expected: Bacon, Egg & Cheddar, Nutella & Bananas, Lemon Cream & Berries. It is also chock full of the unexpected and clever: Green Eggs & Ham, Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle, the Bruxie Burger, Smoked Salmon & Dill Cream Cheese, S'mores, Hot Pastrami...the list goes on and on, and I haven't even mentioned any of their seasonal specials! How does Carolina Pulled Pork, New England Lobster, or Braised Beef Short Ribs sound? I also once had one that had goat cheese, fig, honey, arugula, and a balsamic reduction. It was heaven. When you're placing your order, don't forget to order some waffle fries (of course)! Also, I can't speak for their other two locations, but the Old Town Orange location makes a perfect iced coffee.

This place is pretty popular, so I recommend getting in line right away and having one member of the party take a menu, find a table and hold it, then text their order to you.

After you finish your sandos, you can walk off some of those very worthy calories by browsing through the antique stores in the Orange Circle.