Napa, California, 2013: Oxbow Public Market and a Look at Sweetbreads

Posted by Carly Morgan

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Oxbow Public Market is relatively new on the Napa tourist scene, but it’s often the first place we visit. It’s a food market that’s been here for a while, but it only really started hopping within the last few years. In addition to local fruits and tourist items, you can find some of the best farm-to-table restaurants and some really nice lunch options. I always go for the oysters first, but my mom likes the Italian honey cream puffs and Kyle is a fan of the tea shop.

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On our first day in Napa, we met my family for lunch and got all of our favorites. The Morgan family had Oyster Po’ Boys and some really, really terrible coffee from the overpriced coffee stand. I guess it was imported and interesting, but we each picked our own flavor and neither were drinkable. Tea for everyone!

And yes, our family got an entire box of honey cream puffs.

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I also popped in to the meat shop before we left to see if they had anything interesting. They do a braised tongue sandwich that always sells out before I can get there and, despite arriving before noon, I missed out once again. I did, however, pick up some sweetbreads. I watched a ton of retro Julia Child cooking shows while on bed rest so sweetbreads had been on my mind, but the ick factor keeps most shops from stocking them. Luckily, the Oxbow meat market had them in stock.

(Vegetarians might want to stop reading right about here.)

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To prepare sweetbreads, you need to rinse and soak them first. Sweetbreads are thymus glands and traditionally people soak them in milk to get rid of the some of the gamey flavor, but I like that about organ meats so I just did a five hour water soak. After soaking, I removed the tough white outer membrane, dried the meat thoroughly, and battered them with an egg wash and a flour/salt/pepper mixture. I then pan fried them in olive oil and a little butter until they were crispy.

They. Were. Delicious.

They turned out a lot like really creamy and intense liver. Nobody else in my family likes adventurous meat eating (they have bad memories about that pork uterus I fried up a few years back) so I ate all of this myself. I will say that it’s probably a little too rich to eat all at once, but I didn’t want it to get soggy in the fridge. This would be best as a hot appetizer, served on toothpicks or spread on some nice crusty bread. Yum!

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Home in Progress: Our Disney Gallery Wall

Posted by Carly Morgan

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We moved our furniture around right before Calvin arrived and ended up with a large blank wall dominating our living room. We used to have a giant mirror hanging on it, but the mirror was moved to the bedroom when the couches jumped around so all that was left were huge screws promising to leave huge holes in the wall if I removed them. After we moved the furniture, I hung two extra pictures (not matching in size or subject) on the giant screws and decided to deal with it later.

Well, it’s later.

I debated about buying one great big piece of art for the wall, but it’s pretty much our entire living room and I just didn’t see myself buying anything that large that I’d want to look at for the next few years. So, I’ve been browsing Pinterest for gallery wall ideas and I finally found one that was just perfect:

I love that it goes up at an angle and I really love the floating images in the empty frames. I decided it would be fun to do that with some of our Disney photos, since we have so many. Being completely cheap, I decided that I could do a quick DIY version by running down to the thrift store and using photos printed at home. Easy, awesome, done in an afternoon.

Ha ha.

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Notice how it doesn’t look like the picture above? Yeah, that’s because this project has been stamped “DOIN’ IT WRONG” in the Carly archives. What I hadn’t realized is that the inspiration photo features new frames from the same frame line in two different colors. Consistent frames hang a lot easier than frames that don’t match and vintage frames, like most of the ones I used, don’t hang straight anyway and are usually hung by scary seventy year old bits of wire that will definitely give you tetanus.

After spending $15 on frames and framing photos printed at home from our Disney vacations, I honestly spent at least six hours trying to make this project work. First, I couldn’t do the floating images I wanted to do because most of the frames didn’t work with that idea. Second, the frames were a total pain to put up. The things would just not hang right. I’d step back and there would be one a little to close to another or one a little too far away or one a little too completely freaking crooked, blah blah blah. And let me just tell you – this is not a DIY project if you have OCD and a hammer. I put so many nail holes in our wall we’re probably just going to have to buy the house so I don’t have to show the landlords what I’ve done.

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At around 10 PM, I gave up and told Kyle it wasn’t going to work. Exhausted, I haphazardly hung the pictures to cover up the worst holes so I could deal with it all the next day. Weirdly enough…it kind of worked.

I don’t know if it’s desperation because I put so much time into it or if I accidentally stumbled onto something that works, but either way it’s still up on the wall. As Kyle pointed out, it looks better than it did before. Baby steps. Maybe I’ll try again after the holidays.

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Grace

Posted by Carly Morgan

I’m working on a photo project today. I’m pretty excited about it, but it’s taking longer than I thought it would (color me shocked!) so no trip report post today. I will, however, leave you a photo from the dusty piles.

My great-grandma Grace grew up in an orphanage. She was placed for a while with a couple she adored and later remembered as her parents, but the state of California removed her from her home after a few years because she had been placed with a Chinese couple. Grace was dark-skinned as an infant, but as she got older it became apparent that Grace was a mix of Caucasian and Native American, not Chinese. The state didn’t feel that it was proper for a Chinese couple to be raising a Caucasian girl (no matter how brown) and took her away, refusing two petitions from her adoptive parents.

I can’t imagine if Eva was suddenly taken away because the state thought our family looked inappropriate. Grace spent the rest of her childhood in a Chinese-speaking orphanage (she didn’t speak English), grew up to marry a Chinese man, and was eventually so much a part of the Bay Area’s Chinese history that they named a San Francisco bay shrimp junk after her. So heartbreaking to think about how confused she must have been when people came to take her away for not being Chinese enough.

 

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