Tag Archives: San Diego

Picking Perfect Potatoes

Hanukkah started last Sunday. We had everything we needed for latkes, except for potatoes. In years past, we used Japanese sweet potatoes from our backyard for latkes, but this year’s potato harvest was slim. We could’ve run to any grocery store, but I thought it might be more fun to explore the Specialty Produce warehouse with the Little Birds. I figured we would find more potato varieties there, or at least something fresh and local.

hunting for potatoes at Specialty Produce

Specialty Produce is known for supplying the majority of the good restaurants in San Diego with fruits and vegetables. They also let the general public shop, seven days a week. That day it was just us, the most recent winner of MasterChef Claudia Sandoval (not to celebrity name drop or anything), and restaurant buyers in the warehouse. I had picked up Farmers’ Market Boxes there before, but this was our first time shopping the warehouse. After signing a liability release, the Little Birds and I were asked to put on gloves before touching any of the produce. The girls thought this was great. They were already dressed like princesses, so gloves only complemented their outfits.

We explored the organic section and the three large walk-in coolers, including the Farmers Market cooler, which is filled with finds from local farms. Tip: wear layers! It was a warm San Diego December day, and I froze in the cooler with just a sun dress on.

hunting for potatoes at Specialty Produce

Great success! We quickly found organic Russet and sweet potatoes. Diving into the Farmers Market walk-in, we discovered little purple potatoes from the Weiser Family Farms, and “Masquerade” potatoes. I had to look up the Masquerade potatoes on the Specialty Produce App – they are a yellow-fleshed potato, with purple skin, and a lighter gold coloring around the eyes. We also found these pretty potatoes with violet pink lipstick “kisses.” I tried to Google “kiss potatoes,” as the staff called them, but only found a Gene Simmons Mr. Potato Head… My best guess is that they are Klondike Royales.

We also stocked up on fruit, including super sweet, pink-fleshed Cara Cara oranges and crisp Shinko asian pears from Ken’s Top Notch Produce, Fuji apples from Fair Hills Apple Farm, and Pomegranate from Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm. I kept checking our receipt for a mistake. The medium-sized bag of potatoes (above) and a large bag of fruit was only $12. Try spending only $12 for this quality of produce at a farmer’s market or Whole Foods!

purple potato latkes

We love our latkes! I fried them in avocado oil and served them with homemade applesauce, alongside Tri Tip from Seaside Market (aka Cardiff Crack), donuts and gelt.

For latke-making tips, see last year’s latkes and lox with home-smoked salmon. And for a yummy twist, our Brussels sprouts and sweet potato latkes from two years ago included cumin seeds. Yum!


Free Summer Fun in San Diego

I’m excited to spend extra time off work this summer with my “little birds.” We’ve been enjoying museums and parks, but they can start to add up. So I thought I’d share some of the free activities and fun I’ve found to do in San Diego this summer (2015.)

Free Summer Fun in San Diego.

Photo by Sarah Burvenich, via unsplash

1. Hullabaloo at the Waterfront Park

We caught the first of this series and loved it. If you have a little one and live in San Diego, odds are you have heard Hullabaloo play their fun, infectious “kid-folk.” Little Bird is in groupie status, having seen nearly 20 shows. I love the small intimate shows (see number 2), but nothing beats a summer evening outside in San Diego. Skip the hot midday concerts, and bring a picnic dinner and a blanket. I won’t tell anyone if you have an adult beverage in your thermos.

Remaining dates are July 19, August 30 and September 27. Activities by Kid Ventures start at 5:30 pm, music by Hullabaloo starts at 6:00 pm, and the park is open all day. Go early to let the kids play in the fountains, on the playground equipment and friction hill we call the “North Mountain” at the Waterfront Park.

Hullabaloo at Waterfront by Chiles Photography

Photo by Natalie Chiles Photography, via Hullabaloo

Other free outdoor shows are planned for Solana Beach, Belmont Park and Mission Hills. Check the Hullabaloo calendar for dates and info.

2. Free Music at San Diego Libraries

If you enjoy smaller music shows for kids, nothing is better than catching Hullabaloo at your neighborhood library. Steve, Hullabaloo’s lead vocalist and guitarist, played our library last week. Little Bird told me she most wanted to hear the songs “Little Bird” (no relation) and “Run Bunny Run.”

Watch this video to see my Little Bird flapping her wings to Hullabaloo:

During the smaller shows, shy kids, like mine, have room to bounce between dancing up front and returning back to “home base” (their parents.) Check your local library for their lineup. To catch Hullabaloo, subscribe to their emails, or check their calendar.

3. Summer Reading Prizes from the San Diego Library

Speaking of the library, while we were there we signed up for their summer reading program. The incentives are awesome! As long as your little (or you and your little) read 10 books or for 10 hours, you are guaranteed a full list of free passes and meals. Here is the list for children aged 3-11:

  • Flute/Recorder or Inflatable Guitar
  • San Diego Zoo Pass
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum Pass
  • San Diego Natural History Museum Pass
  • Ruben H. Fleet Science Center Pass
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Chipotle
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Daphne’s
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Wendy’s
  • Free Kid’s Meal at Rubio’s
  • Free Round Table Personal Pizza

Seeing as how it can take 10 books to get to sleep any given night, we are looking forward to returning to some of the museums I didn’t think we could afford. You can sign up online here. The Summer Reading program runs June 15th – August 15th and is completely free. There are also programs for infants/toddlers, teens and adults.

Go enjoy your summer!

What are your favorite free fun things to do during summer in San Diego with kids?

The Power of a Bake Sale: Mama’s Kitchen Pie in the Sky

Mama’s Kitchen is a San Diego charity that provides free meals to adults and children affected by HIV/AIDS and cancer. As I do, they believe FOOD is LOVE. One of their biggest annual fundraisers also happens to be the biggest bake sale on the West Coast and features one of my favorite obsessions: pies! Each professionally baked pie you purchase provides over 8 healthy meals delivered to neighbors in need. This year Mama’s Kitchen delivered their 7 millionth meal. Seven million, can you believe it?

baking pies for mama's pie in the sky bake sale

About Mama’s Kitchen

Mama’s Kitchen started with one woman, cooking for her neighbors. The organization was founded in 1990 when volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund discovered that many of their clients were becoming too ill to take care of themselves. They realized that a reliable home meal delivery service was needed to ensure that these individuals would continue to receive nutritious, life-sustaining food. In 2004, Mama’s Pantry was opened to provide HIV/AIDS-positive individuals who are able to prepare meals the opportunity to supplement their nutritional needs. Today, the community-driven organization has expanded its service to San Diegans affected by AIDS or cancer that are vulnerable to hunger. Mama’s Kitchen provides three meals a day, for every day of the year, free of charge, to approximately 350 men, women, and children in San Diego County. Learn more and make a donation at www.mamaskitchen.org.

Pie in the Sky - Mama's kitchen

Pie in the Sky

Mama’s Kitchen’s annual Pie in the Sky bake sale is one of their largest annual fundraisers. All proceeds directly fund thousands of free, hot and nutritious Mama’s Kitchen meals, which help ensure that no one living with AIDS or cancer will go hungry in the San Diego community. Hundreds of volunteers will take to the streets to sell the pies to friends, family and co-workers. Many of San Diego’s top pastry chefs, caterers, and bakeries such as Urban Solace, Sea and Smoke, Sycuan, Sea World, Behind the Scenes Catering and more will donate traditional Thanksgiving pies for this annual Mama’s Pie in the Sky Bake Sale. Pies will be available for pick-up the day before Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at more than 20 convenient Wells Fargo Bank branch locations throughout San Diego County and at Mama’s Kitchen in City Heights. You can purchase a pie through my personal page, or set one up yourself.

Mama's Kitchen Pumpkin Pie from Twiggs Bakery

Photo credit for above photos: Mama’s Kitchen

If you are interested in picking up a chef-made pie and helping a good cause, the Pie in a Sky bakesale is a win-win. Interested in baking your own pie or live outside of San Diego? You can purchase a pie for a Mama’s client and then try one of these recipes:

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie Recipe

real pumpkin pie with maple whipped cream

Real Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

pumpkin pie with spicy pepita brittle

pumpkin pie with spicy pepita brittle thanksgiving dessert recipes