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Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”

Today I competed in the Loomis Eggplant Festival Cooking Contest and won 1st place with my (original recipe) eggplant dish: Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”. The name is derived from the incredible texture of the breading, and I also used “eggplant” in the name twice without actually doing it. Aubergine is the word for eggplant typically used in old world Europe. I also used eggplant twice in the recipe. First, with the fried slices, second, with the eggplant “butter”/spread on the top.

The thing is though, I was the only participant in this year’s contest. So, while I was happy to take home the 1st place certificate, participant ribbon, and the $100 cash for winning, it did not feel all that special to win by default. I was surprised that absolutely no one else entered!

What felt great was walking in downtown Loomis, and seeing a few hundred people out having a good time. The weather here at the end of September/beginning of October is next to perfect, and there were lots of families taking advantage of that and having good old-fashioned fun at the festival. I wish my mom had been there with me today to see it, but she lives in Ohio and absolutely does not like eggplant!

The cooking contest organizer (Mary Jane Perkins) encouraged me to come back next year, and I certainly hope to do so, even though I am not sure I could top my creativity this year or back in 2008 when I made a CAKE with eggplant and won 2nd place.

Here’s my “winning” recipe from today. I hope you’ll try it for yourself. If you do, please let me know what you think.


Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”
Appetizer Category (Serves 6-8)

Eggplant Spread:
1/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
1/4 Cup Cream Cheese
2 Tbs Butter
1 Roasted Eggplant with Skin Removed
Lemon Juice
Sea Salt
You can prepare eggplant spread a day ahead of time. Slice an eggplant. lengthwise and drizzle it with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 425 for 45 mins and discard the skin. Scoop out the roasted flesh and place in a food processor with the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and sea salt. Pulse until completely blended. Set aside.

Fried Eggplant Slices:
1 Eggplant Sliced into Rounds
1 Cup Crushed Pork Rinds
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Almond Flour
2 Eggs
Cracked Pepper

Combine pork rinds, cheese, and almond flour to create the “breading”. You’ll want to place the “breading” in a shallow container that will allow the slices to be dipped in. Slice the eggplant into rounds and salt, laying on paper towels to allow the excess moisture in the eggplant to seep out for 10 mins.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and when the eggplant has drained, dip the slices into the egg, and then into the breading.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to bake, or prepare the slices in the air fryer. 350° in the oven until browned, or 370° in the air fryer for about 10 minutes.

Garnish:
Fresh Dill
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1/4 Cup Capers

Meanwhile, fry the capers in olive oil until they become crispy and drain. Toast the pine nuts in a shallow pan until they become nice and toasty.

Top each fried/baked eggplant slice with some of the spread, and garnish with the crispy capers and toasted pine nuts. Top with fresh dill. Serve.

For the Undecided: My Recall Newsom Letter to 19 Newspaper Editors

I wrote the following a few weeks ago and sent to 19 different newspapers across California in the hopes it would be published as an op-ed piece in at least one of them (since it is a little long to be a letter to the editor). Of course, since the L.A. Times and the McClatchy rags are all pro-Newsom, it’s a little delusional of me to think I would stand a chance getting published. In fact, the Times and the Sacramento Bee sent me a rejection letter. And I was even rejected by two different editors (who I won’t mention by name) at the Sac Bee. I consider it a compliment.

Since I am a little impatient and time is of the essence, I decided I would use my own platform to publish my letter and use my own social media to push out, even though this blog and my audience is mostly interested in food, wine, and travel. Apologies in advance for this slight diversion. It will be over soon and I will go back to my normal content. Possibly from another state if Newsom is not recalled.

I have never been very vocal about politics in California, as I feel it is a losing battle. I am a registered Libertarian, and I am typically not liked (or trusted) by Democrats or by Republicans. I believe a lot of people in California say they are democrats or liberals because they want to be accepted by others. Most folks want to be looked at as “a good person” and someone who “does the right thing”. It’s a giant popularity contest in which I have no interest. You can clique-ity clack yourself on out of here. I do not care if I get canceled. I do not care if I am liked. I am completely used to being the freak, the weirdo, the outcast, the black sheep… But this time I am voting RED, baby!

So now it’s time for me to speak up if only for a moment. California, its residents, and virtually all of its small businesses are completely doomed if Gavin Newsom stays in office. He has FAILED our state on every level. If you care at all about the life you have now or had prior to his governorship, you will stand with me and vote “yes” on this recall.

-Kristy Harris, September 8th


My Letter to the Editor(s):

If you are voting “NO” on the recall, then this letter is not intended for you. You can skip to the next column or try your hand at today’s Sudoku puzzle.

I never thought much about our Governor until around April of 2020. Mind you, I did not help elect him in 2018, but I was supine and unsurprised when the “Gav Man” won the election. We are after all, a very blue state and apparently glutton for punishment.

I consider myself to be a reasonable person. So, when the “two weeks to flatten the curve” approach was announced, I was completely onboard to stay home (other than running outside for exercise instead of visiting my already shuttered gym). It was three weeks into the two weeks that I found myself looking at Gavin Newsom during his daily press conference with a bit of ambiguity. It dawned on me that he seemed to be enjoying the spotlight a little too much.

Many people turned on Gavin Newsom following his infamous dinner at The French Laundry in November of 2020, but my resentment towards him commenced all the way back in April of the same year. It’s around that time I realized the “State of Emergency” he had declared on March 4th, followed by the Stay-At-Home order on March 19th, was just a foothold on the way to declare himself king.

I was not fond of the way he began slinging executive orders like a pancake brunch cook (conveniently, while the Legislature was recessed for seven weeks). His 37 Executive Orders altered 175 state laws, completely sideswiping any of the lawmaking process.

My fury culminated on June 18th when the state-wide mask mandate was put into effect. Of course, make it mandatory to wear a mask right after you close a deal with China to produce them and profit from it. I’m only surprised the mandate did not specifically require N-95s, but maybe that would have been a little too obvious.

If I kept going on about why Gavin Newsom needs to go, it would prohibit me from telling you about the solution to him. That person is Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.

I have been following Kevin Kiley since June of 2020, over a year before he became a candidate to replace Newsom. It was at that time he and James Gallagher took Gavin Newsom to court and won, just one day before my birthday. For the first time, I felt like there was someone fighting for the people. I subscribed to Kevin’s blog “Capitol Quagmire” to get updates on the court cases, but really for entertainment purposes. Any person who could write so cleverly and deliver a weekly burn on the Governor was going to automatically gain me as a fan.

In January of 2021, Kiley wrote and published a book called “Recall Newsom, The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor”. The book was released before Kiley had seriously considered running as Newsom’s replacement, and all the book’s profits went to the recall campaign. As I read over it, I can’t help but believe the man who wrote it must be destined to take the wheel.

Kevin Kiley is a graduate of Harvard (BA), Yale (Law Degree), and Loyola Marymount (Master’s in Secondary Education).

Before being elected to the State Assembly in November of 2016, Kevin was a Deputy Attorney General who represented the People of California in cases involving convicted felons. He has since authored legislation to protect victims of crime and support law enforcement. Assemblyman Kiley is ranked 100% by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association for his work in fighting new taxes and his support of Prop. 13. He does not take any funding from special interest groups, and he is the only 100% citizen-backed California elected official.

California needs a person who has already worked across party lines. Someone who will not forget the people who elected them. Someone who supports medical freedom of choice and upon election will immediately end the State of Emergency in California. Someone who knows good ideas don’t require force.

It was what Kevin Kiley said at a recent campaign speech that also got my attention:

“It’ll be back to basics. That will be the order of the day. Pave our roads, store our water, manage our forests, maintain our grid, fund our police, do the things government is supposed to do, do them well, and do nothing else.”

For non-Republican voters Kiley says, “Take a chance on change. If you don’t like the way things turn out, you can always vote for a return to corruption and racketeering next year.” I am a Libertarian, but still feel that Kevin Kiley is the appropriate choice to repair the hot mess that is current state of California.

It seems uncomplimentary to refer to Mr. Kiley as a waste management technician, but I am sure once elected he’ll be ready to take out the trash that is Gavin Newsom.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley is the brightest, most qualified candidate for the job and will be able to go to work for all Californians on day one. I hope you will join me in voting YES on the recall of Gavin Newsom and voting for Kevin Kiley for Governor of California. 

Kristy Harris
Curtis Park, Sacramento

August 29th, 2021

Zamir Gotta of A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, and Parts Unknown, Visits Sacramento!

Zamir Gotta’s Peacemaking Happy Hour featuring his Zamir Vodka was held on July 16th at Easy Diner and Bar in Sacramento. Guests were treated to samples of his Russian vodka, Russian themed appetizers, and a question and answer session with the audience.


Zamir also took photos with several guests and auctioned off 3 autographed bottles of his peacemaking elixir. The following is a few snippets of video of the event, as well as some photos I cobbled together taken by myself and friends who were there. What a fantastic and memorable evening!

Special thanks to Elizabeth Barthel for the videos and taking the cover photo of this video.

Zamir Gotta’s Website: https://zamirgotta.com/
Zamir on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zamirgotta/
Zamir on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZamirGotta

Enjoy Zamir Vodka at Easy Diner & Bar:
1725 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95818

Easy Diner & Bar Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/easy.diner….
Easy Diner & Bar Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Easy.Diner.Bar

A Wine and Art Lover’s Dream: Vannatta Winery & Gallery

Do you love wine and art? I know I do! What a treat it was to visit Vannatta Winery and Gallery (located in Elk Grove, about 25 mins from Sacramento). In this episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris, I interviewed Steve Vannatta, the owner and winemaker, and Liliana Rodriguez, the winery’s artist, wholesaler, and marketing manager.

Find Vannetta Winery online here:
https://www.vannattawinery.com

And on social media here:
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/vannattawine/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/vannattawinery

Life with Alopecia: My Makeup Routine

Happy #transformationtuesday
In a quest for authenticity in a world full of filters and special effects, I present to you today my makeup routine (before and after). This is how I do my makeup any time I leave the house other than to go to the gym or run errands (during which I don’t mind being seen au naturel). It’s in essence a makeover on a daily basis, although for my mental health, I try to build in a few days a week during which I go makeup free and accept the person in the mirror without any modifications.

A little background: It’s been nearly 20 years since I lost my hair to Alopecia Universalis. It began in spring 2002… I had a moderate to severe case of acne, mainly affecting my chin and jawline. The acne problem was painful, and I couldn’t mask it with makeup, so under a dermatologist’s care, I began a treatment of antibiotics. The drug regimen worked, but eventually I reacted to the drug I was taking (minocycline). I was admitted to the hospital in July and misdiagnosed with Lyme disease. The physician to which I was assigned prescribed doxycycline, and I was given it intravenously, which ultimately led to a more severe reaction. Once the IV was removed, I recovered almost immediately, and after another week, I was released from the hospital.

Three months later (October), I noticed the hair on my arm was missing, and then a few days later, my eyebrows and eyelashes started to shed. Eventually, the hair on my head began to fall out and by Christmas there was hardly anything left.

Links to the makeup and hair piece I used in the video:

Acne Safe Priia Stick Foundation

Acne Safe Liquid Foundation

Acne Safe Powder Foundation

Setting Powder

Setting Spray

Eyebrow Pencil

Eyebrow Paint

Eyebrow Hairs

Eyeliner

Eye Shadow

Lashes

Lash Glue

Lip Liner

Lip Gloss

Hairpiece

Paint, Drink, and Have Fun at Pinot’s Palette

Happy Monday! It’s a new week and time for a brand new episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris!

In this episode, I interview the owner of Pinot’s Palette in Elk Grove, Stacey Van Lente. Pinot’s Palette is an upscale Paint and Sip destination in Old Elk Grove, just a short drive from Sacramento.

Join them for a perfect night out – enjoy drinks, music and hanging out with your favorite people while you paint! It’s as fun for first-time painters as it is for experienced artists. Their slogan is Paint, Drink and Have Fun!


Pinot’s Palette Elk Grove
Website: https://pinotspalette.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pinotspaletteelkgrove/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PinotsPaletteElkGrove

Table Talk with Kristy Harris Interviews Zak’s Bar & Grill in Rancho Cordova

Happy Wednesday! Just writing to let you know there’s a new episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris available on my YouTube channel, and I am excited to partner with Zak’s Bar & Grill on their UNMASK-QUERADE event on July 30th!

For more details and to learn about their Zak Attack Burger challenge, tune in below.

Check Out Sacramento’s Newest Restaurant: Easy Diner & Bar

In this episode, I interview the owners/staff of Sacramento’s newest restaurant, Easy Diner & Bar. They’re the same team behind the Bambi Vegan Tacos food truck. We chat about the food (there’s BOTH vegan AND non-vegan options) and drinks (full bar!) they offer, kitchen life, and the impact of late chef and travel journalist Anthony Bourdain.

Easy Diner & Bar is going to be hosting a special event on July 16th, from 5-8pm, featuring Zamir Gotta who was the former travel companion to Anthony Bourdain. Zamir will talk about his travels with Anthony and there will also be a Q&A. VIP admission ($40) is at 5pm, General Admission ($25) is 6pm.

Program will be 6:30pm-8:00pm. Two drinks of your choice are included with both ticket types.
Peacemaking Happy Hour with Zamir Gotta TICKETS:

Easy Diner & Bar Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/easy.diner.bar/

Easy Diner & Bar on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Easy.Diner.Bar/

Primal Sweet Potato Salad Recipe and Pinot Noir Wine Pairing

Learn how to make my killer (and healthy) sweet potato salad recipe (that happens to also be PRIMAL!) and pair it with a 2018 Owl Box Pinot Noir from Grocery Outlet.

Recipe Ingredients:
3 to 4 medium-sized white sweet potatoes, peeled cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
Dash of paprika
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
4 slices thick-cut cherrywood or applewood bacon

Recipe Preparation:
Cook the bacon in the microwave and drain on a paper towel.
Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Combine the yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes, fennel slices, onion, eggs, then the bacon.

If you like a little chill on your potato salad, you can refrigerate for about a half hour. However, I like mine room temperature so I pretty much eat the salad right after I put it together.

Local Winery Hosts Mask Burning Extravaganza

This just in! I just received this press release from The Northern Region of Libertarian Party of California, so I am sharing it with all my freedom loving, wine drinking friends! Cheers to liberty and taking off those silly face coverings.

-Kristy Harris, Madame Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Placer County
aka Lady K, aka cavegrrl


CAMINO, CA (June 17, 2021) Crystal Basin Cellars, an award-winning Camino winery in the El Dorado region of the Sierra Foothills, is celebrating the end of the state mask mandate by co-hosting a “Mask Burning Extravaganza” celebration with the Northern Region of Libertarian Party of California this Saturday, June 19th, 2021 from 1:00-4:00pm at 3550 Carson Rd, Camino, CA 95709.  This event is being organized as a way serve as an opportunity for healing by sharing stories with friends and neighbors, in addition to fun family friendly activities, including music by “Character Assassins,” a dunk tank featuring a Governor Newsom impersonator, display of the work of local artists and more.

The event is free, open to the public, no reservations required.  Everyone is invited come celebrate health, freedom, liberty and the good lives we lead in this peaceful act of civil disobedience. “No matter what last minute changes the governor may issue, it doesn’t matter, the show will go on! We are DONE!” said Mike Owen.  “If you too, are ready to say goodbye to this time in history; the public is welcome to celebrate freedom by burning your mask in a healing ceremony with friends, and good wines, in a peaceful setting.”

During the state mandated lock down, every time Crystal Basin Cellars became compliant with the latest “law,” Governor Newsom would arbitrarily and capriciously change the rules, resulting in the banishment of customer contact from this small family business multiple times since March 2020. The stress from this constant fear of losing their life’s work caused serious health complications for Mike Owen, the founder, who recently underwent a bypass operation. While Owen is still convalescing from his surgery, he feels it is very important to burn the masks that represent this traumatic time in history. We want all who were adversely affected by state mandated restrictions may all heal and move on” said Owen, who will be attending the event for a limited period on Saturday.

The Northern Region of the Libertarian Party of California is pleased to cosponsor this event so that the public can share their stories, as many have all been the victims of capricious government restrictions for over a year. “We encourage you to use this moment as a time to heal from the trauma of this last year and remember the most valuable lesson of all,” said Jia Christopher, Northern California Regional Coordinator for the Libertarian Party of California. “That personal liberty and individual rights are fragile, and we must stay dutifully committed to protecting ourselves and our neighbors from statism, because as we have now experienced, our rights are precious and can easily be taken away. Let’s celebrate life, prosperity and freedom!”

About Crystal Basin Cellars

Crystal Basin Cellars boasts the best team in the Sierra Foothills. You can be assured that their focus is on creating the most flavorful wines from local fruit. Our main hospitality team players provide a wine tasting experience that is one part fun, one part information, and a price-to-value that is second to none. We call our style of service “legendary foothill hospitality!”

All of our red wines are crafted from grapes grown within 30 miles of our winery, in the El Dorado appellation. Our growers bring us 15 different red grape varieties and we process them from grape to bottle in our historic facility. Access to such a wide variety of grapes allows us to create varietal wines from individual grapes. Our wines are regularly awarded medals in major wine competitions, helping guide our efforts at creating the most flavorful wines from our unique, high-altitude growing environment.

About the Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party (LP) was founded in 1971 and is the third largest political party in the United States. The Libertarian, Democratic, and Republican parties are the only political parties that appeared on the ballot in all fifty states this past November. The LP seeks to expand personal freedoms, dramatically reduce taxes, decrease interference in the economy, and avoid meddling in overseas conflicts. The LP of California is an affiliate of the national Libertarian Party; learn more at www.ca.lp.org.

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