Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recipe: Louisiana Chicken Gumbo

For what ever reason soups are a favorite dish at our house. Summer or winter I get requests for soup if I ask what I should fix for dinner. The core of this recipe comes from my son's Louisiana relatives.   I have made some modifications to fit the way I cook, but this is the real deal for authentic Cajun Gumbo. 

As my son pointed out, the main modification is that is does not include fowl shot in the backyard but chicken from a store:-)

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Servers 8 once; or magnificent leftovers once or twice for 2 or 4

4 chicken thighs/ skinned and boneless chopped into bite size pieces
2 chicken breasts/skinned and boneless chopped into bite size pieces
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
4 stalks of celery finely chopped
1 small green pepper finely chopped
64 oz of unsalted chicken broth
2 Tbls of butter
2 Tbls of flour
Red pepper flakes to taste
File to taste
Black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
2 cups of steamed rice (see below)

Saute butter in a large pot until bubbling add flour and stir constantly for approximately 20 minutes. You want to create a very rich brown and nutty smelling roux. If you see ANY brown flecks in the roux discard and start over or the dish will be ruined. The roux must not burn. You can double or triple the roux recipe and store roux in the refrigerator for future use.

Add the garlic, onion, celery and green pepper to the roux. Saute until soft. Add the black pepper covered chicken and stir until the chicken is cooked. Add the broth and some red pepper flake and salt. Cook on the stove at low heat for at least 3 or 4 hours. The sauce will start to thicken and the vegetables will break down.

Prepare the rice.

Add 2 cups of rice to 2 1/2 cups of water. Let it boil uncovered and then cover and reduce heat and cook for 3o minutes.

To serve

Put rice in the bottom of the bowl, add file powder and red pepper to taste. Pour gumbo onto mixture and serve.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I am a Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams

I was beginning to wonder if I was actually going to get through all the classes, tests and paperwork needed to become a real estate agent.  Finally last night my DRE # (Department of Real Estate) showed up on the website, this number allows me to join a real estate broker. 

I decided several months ago that I would join Keller Williams when I became an agent.  I am so impressed with the people that work for Keller Williams and the Keller Williams culture.   I have already benefited from their great training programs.  They offer some of the best sales training I have ever had and I have attended some expensive corporate training courses in my day.

So this morning I went to the weekly Keller Williams sales meeting and then filled out the paperwork to join the team. 

My journey as a real estate agent begins! 

Here is my contact information at Keller Williams.

Carla Dimond
Real Estate Agent
DRE # 01871201

Keller Williams Realty, Cupertino
20230 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite E
Cupertino CA 95014

650-388-8820 cell

408-850-6956 fax

Keller Williams Realty is proud to be the fastest growing real estate company in North America, with 690 market centers, over 73,321 associates and $28,167,677 in profit share over the last 12 months.*   *numbers are year to date April 2009

J.D. Power and Associates has awarded Keller Williams the distinct honor of "Highest Overall Satisfaction For Home Buyers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms, Two Years in a Row!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Real Estate Broker do I go with?

Being a real estate agent can be described as an entrepreneurial contract employee.  You are in charge of your business but you can utilize the marketing and branding power of the real estate broker you work for to help increase your business.

My first instincts are that I want to find a real estate broker that has a good mentoring program and name brand recognition.  However, I also realized that there are several boutique real estate brokers that only specialize in serving the silicon valley real estate market.   Which real estate broker makes the most sense for me?

This decision feels so much like the Titian of Industry vs Start-up decision I have had to make so many times in my high tech career.  There is something very satisfying at saying I work at Company A, Titian of Industry.   Name recognition is great and you get to use their name as part of your branding.  But it is also very fun to work for the small and nimble company as well.

The big difference between real estate and high tech is that real estate is a local market and the goal is to create the "Brand of me, Real Estate Specialist" that transcends the name of the real estate broker you work for.

Small Boutique Silicon Valley focused or National Brand Real Estate Broker?  Which is the best for me?

So I am going to make this decision based on the same criteria I would make if I was going to my next high tech company....

At the end of they day it is the people you work with directly that matter more than the company you work for.  So lucky for me I found great people at a name brand company.  I get to have both!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recipe: Easy Eggs Benedict

I know for most people easy eggs benedict  completely sounds like an oxymoron.  However, I have learned the key to preparing easy eggs benedict is  execution and a killer blender Hollandaise Sauce.

The most important thing is to get the egg yolks for the Hollandaise sauce in a small container that can be placed in a bowl of very warm water ( but not too hot) to warm  up the yolks before making the sauce.  The downside of using blender hollandaise sauce is that it gets cold very quickly.  Getting the egg yolks warm helps keep the sauce warm longer.  If you get everything out and into their respective pans this really does take less than 15 minutes to complete.  Don't forget to set the table as well.  Time to table is critical with this dish.

Give this a try and let me know how it works for you!

Eggs Benedict Recipe for 4 servings

4 eggs
2 english muffins
4 thinly sliced pieces of ham,  or use spinach, crab your choice

Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
1/c melted butter

Pre-Execution Plan

1. egg yolks warming in water bath
2. English muffins in the toaster oven BUT not turned on yet
3. ham slices in pan to be warmed BUT not turned on yet
4. egg poaching pan on the burner warming the water BUT without the eggs
5. butter in the microwave BUT not yet melted

Execution Plan

1. Start the muffins in the toaster oven once the egg yolks for the hollandaise sauce are warm
2. warm the ham on the stove at a very low heat
3. Melt the butter for the hollandaise sauce approximately 90 seconds in the microwave
4. Add eggs to the poaching pan and poach eggs for about 3 to 4 mins
5. Add lemon juice, cayenne pepper to warmed egg yolks
6. Put muffins on the plate
7. Then add the ham
8. Then add the poached egg
 9. Take to the table
10. Using a hand held blender lightly beat the egg yolk mixture and gradually add the melted butter.  It should be a nice lemony color and slightly thicken
11. Take hollandaise sauce to the table and serve!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Visions Engineering Inc: Handyman Services

Rob has helped me out with three different homes.

He saved my rear end when I was trying to sell my house in Palo Alto by doing some very basic and minor foundation repairs that were causing potential buyers to run from my house instead of putting offers on my house.  His foundation worked helped me get my house sold quickly.

Rob did a great job and a great deal of work in my house in Mountain View.  He put in a new tile floor and installed my new cabinets in the kitchen.  He also insulated my house and redid my fencing.

If you need someone that you can trust to do it right the first time I really recommend that you call Rob for your handy man needs.

New Visions Engineering Inc
Robert Briganti
cell phone: 650 520 6747

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting the "Right" Real Estate Picture

When I shared with several friends that I was leaving high tech and moving into real estate a common question kept cropping up....

Are you going to stop changing your hair every few months if you are a real estate agent?  You need to look like your picture.

True, I do change my hair most than most people but have you really looked at some of the those real estate photos out there?  No one looks like that!

Do I want one of those real serious studio pictures of me in a suit or something more my style?  I don't think anyone would recognize me in a suit!

Do I do the cheesy picture that includes my pet? What does owning a pet have to do with real estate? I really don't know but you see lots of pets in real estate pictures.

Do I try to do something that really captures me?  Somehow work my shoe collection into the picture. Maybe use a tag lines like these; "I will wear a hole in the bottom of my Jimmy Choo's looking for the right house for you!"  Or "I will sell your house in less than 60 days or you can have my favorite pair of Prada's!"

I am liking the shoe angle!   Now if I could only stand to have my picture taken....

Friday, September 18, 2009

La Petit Salon: Reward for a house project well done!

I know personally that house projects can be one of the most stressful things in your life. So I am including my favorite way to regroup after I have demolished a kitchen, stripped a floor or removed popcorn from the ceiling.  I go see Nancy Tran at La Petit Salon.

 I am extremely biased about La Petit Salon and Nancy Tran.  I have know Nancy Tran for almost 15 years and I have always enjoyed incredible customer service from her and her team.  I have very few other data points to compare to her as I see no need to go anywhere else.  The few times I have had pedicures or manicures from other folks have been in other cities and they have all been a disappointment compared to her.

If you are looking for a cheap in and out pedicure/manicure Nancy is not the person for you.

If you are looking to make sure you will have the best pedicure/manicure available in a clean and safe setting then Nancy is the person to go to.

In addition to manicures and pedicures, Nancy provides the best facial in the Silicon Valley as well. She is my fountain of youth.

Le Petit Salon 

335 Plaza Central 

Los Altos, CA 94022

(650) 947-9106 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recipe: Egg Cups

One of my favorite breakfasts to make for guests and family is my "Egg Cups"

They look fancy and like you spent a great deal of time in the kitchen but they are very easy.

You can use ham or spinach as the cup layer; depending on your guests or family preferences.

These have been a big treat in our house for years. I hope you enjoy. I would love to hear about any variations that you try at your house.

2 servings or 4 starters

Egg Cups

4 eggs
2 Tbls of Sour Cream
1 Tsp Fresh Tarragon finely chopped
1 Tsp Fresh Chives finely chopped
4 oz of Fresh Mushrooms finely chopped (Button or Exotic)
4 -8 slices of Thin Ham or 8 to 12 leaves of Spinach
1 Tbls Butter
4 lightly buttered ramekins

Preheat oven to 425 F
Line 4 Ramekins with ham or spinach to cover bottom and sides with some overlap to create the cup.
Saute mushrooms in the butter until moisture is removed; add tarragon and chives. Take off the heat and gently add sour cream. Spoon mixture into the 4 ramekins. Top each ramekin with one egg.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until white is no longer clear. Do not over cook as egg yolk is best still runny.

Serve and enjoy your egg cups.  I hope they become a favorite in your house as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My New Blog!

I want to thank all of you who have encouraged me to continue or to restart my blog. It is a very nice thing to know that others at least occasionally read what I am writing.

I have decided the format of this new blog will be about real estate and also about lifestyle. I will update at least once a week anything that I find that I think will be interesting about what is happening in real estate; locally and nationally.

I will also highlight a business that I think could be of interest to your lifestyle. Some businesses are real estate oriented and others will just improve the quality of your life. We all like to have someone recommend a service to us instead of relying on a Google Search or an old school Yellow Pages Ad.

I am also going to include a recipe a week. As many of you know that read my original blog; cooking is extremely important to my lifestyle. I wanted to have a forum to share recipes that my family and friends love and that have added a richness to our lives.

I see this blog as a way to stay connected with so many of the wonderful people I have know through out the years and as a way to meet new people as well.