Polar bear challenge

Polar bear challenge

You don’t hear me complain about the cold very often. I love winter. I love cold weather. Everyone says winters in Vancouver, Canada are very cold. I spent the winter there two years ago and the daytime temps were in the 40’s (7-10 degrees, for you Celsius people). Yes, it was cold but it was bearable. It rained a lot (hated it!), it even snowed for three days (loved it!).

Guess what? California, being this much farther south, is even colder right now than that winter in Vancouver. Ouch! The days are very sunny but you can’t feel the heat of the sun’s rays against the cold air. It’s around 40+ in the daytime but at night, temps dip down to 20+ (that’s below freezing Celsius). And it’s not your regular kind of cold either. This is the kind of biting cold that sends chills piercing into your very bones! I’m not even kidding!

What’s up with ya, California? Well, it’s not your fault! If only we hadn’t done all this stuff to make Mother Nature so bitter! So okay, instead of complaining, we three polar bears are challenging ourselves by not turning on the main heater. at all. this winter. Nope, not once! Not even at night! Talk about taking environmental friendliness to a whole new level!

To be fair, we’ve got a tiny little portable heater that gives out a piddly bit of heat against the freezing cold. Even then, our thermostat sometimes goes down to 60+ degrees – woohoo! – and we’re wearing 2 layers of clothing + socks inside the house! Yes! We can do this!!

In the mornings, it’s really hard to drag ourselves out of bed. Sometimes it takes 4 alarms going off at different times and the nagging growls of an empty stomach. Real polar bears are lucky they don’t have alarm clocks. That’s why they can sleep right through the winter. Wonder if they’re hungry all the time – like us?

Never mind that. So how do we polar bears keep warm?

For one thing, we’re doing a ton of baking. The oven warms up the house beautifully and fills it with the wonderful aroma of baking. So far, we’ve made a butter pound cake and two carrot cakes and we’ve got an apple pie, a cranberry pie and an orange cake coming up next. This is yesterday’s amazingly moist carrot almond cake. If you’re wondering where the glaze is, there’s none, it’s not my style.

carcake

Secondly, we keep our pots busy boiling lots of soup. Our one-pot wonder mu soup is dabomb packed with cabbage, carrots and chicken drumsticks.

radsoup

And of course, we go all out for spicy food. This tilapia dry curry is our newfound Thai food love.

tilcurry

Definitely not what real polar bears would eat but only because they don’t know any better. The polar bears are making lemon chicken for dinner tonight. Anyone interested?

One, two, three cupcakes

One, two, three cupcakes

I ate one cupcake.

Then another.

Then another.

That’s kind of a big deal for me. I rarely eat cake and even when I do, I hardly ever finish a whole slice on my own. I’m what you might call a cake nibbler.

These were part of the 30+ batch we baked for a holiday party potluck, and to give away to profs and friends. We only managed to fit 15 cupcakes into this box…

cupcakes1

… which means we got to keep the rest for ourselves. That’s how I ended up eating 3 cupcakes after dinner one night.

I’m notorious for not icing my cakes, not a fan but since we were giving these away, I was obliged to get up early to top a few with berry icing… which, even I have to admit, was a really nice change from the usual.

cupcakes2

So that was one sweet afternoon spent baking. By the time we were done, the whole house was nice and warm, and we had some rare tea time treats to enjoy!

Leave out fall? Nah!

Leave out fall? Nah!

We’ve gone from hot and sunny to wintry cold, straight from summer to winter. Whatever happened to fall? I love fall. There’s a certain romance about the colorful backdrop, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the need to huddle together for warmth. Do you think Mother Nature would be so mean as to leave out fall altogether (heck, was that an ever so subtle pun right there? I do surprise myself sometimes)? Here’s proof she hasn’t forgotten!

fall15

I took this picture the other day. The colors of fall are awesome against a completely cloudless sky. You ponder what an amazing job Mother Nature does with her palette, taking her time to paint each and every leaf from the spirited scarlets, to the mellow maroons, to the awe-inspiring auburns, to the unyielding yellows, and all the shades in between. It’s sad these amazing colors won’t last long though before the trees became brown and bare 🙁 .

But the best of fall cuisine and cooking is still here to enjoy. More on that later?

Sounds of the season

It’s game season. Football? Basketball? How does an otherwise clueless un-sports fan like me know? Well, it may surprise you but when I hear the sounds of a marching band practising every other day, I know! I may not be able to tell you the difference between a trumpet and a trombone, or a woofer and a mesa mini rectifier but I sure do know that when the marching bands start practising, it’s game season!

What’s rocking our tastebuds this week

What's rocking our tastebuds this week

Don’t ask me how we ended up with 4 loaves of multigrain bread but we did. Obviously there was no way we were going to get through those in one week! Hey wait, everyone loves garlic bread, right? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t. So garlic bread it is, yes, the hip homemade version – the quickest way to move those loaves fast!

gbread

And for a weeknight dinner, I have a huge slab of salmon. If you know me, you know I go berserk over salmon. So we grilled one-third of the slab for dinner. The kiddy meal sized strips of salmon that restaurants serve are exactly that – for kids! I mean, c’mon, how’s 3 little mouthfuls gonna satiate a grown adult’s appetite?! and no way I’m going to pay the ridiculous price to order more! So homemade grilled salmon it is! You can see I’m going crazy here with this portion for 3 of us.

gsalmon

And for the occasional afternoon snack – tadaaa! This is like the most amazing comfort food when you step in the door from 90 degrees outside. I fell in love with Dreyers during my penny-pinching days in college, couldn’t afford it. Never had slow-churned either. Turns out this is the best thing ever. It’s half the fat, it’s silky smooth, and has a very, very mildly sweet coffee flavor. So-oo gonna grab 2 more tubs this weekend – watch me!!

dreyers

Okay, so that’s it for a quick round-up of what’s rocking those picky tastebuds. Oh and not forgetting those 2lbs of crazy juicy grapefruits!

gfruit

Monday morning ramblings

I’m in a rambling mood today, sorta so just ignore me while I ramble away…

So here’s the story about last weekend at the grocery store. A staff was loading up the shelves. He had boxes and a cart along one side of the aisle. I was walking past to get to the other end of the aisle when two bottles of sauce (looked like mayo) fell off his cart, crashed onto the floor and some of it splattered onto my clothes, face and hair. I got a new look instantly. A mayo makeover, if you will…

… and last night, did anyone see the super moon? We got pretty excited about it earlier in the evening but when 7:00pm rolled around, we were getting ready to sit down for dinner, so we figured, forget it, growling tummies get first priority, we can always catch the super moon on live feed later. Well, it wouldn’t be live any more but …

… yeah, so scientists found water on Mars, liquid water that flows on the surface of the planet in spring and summer, a sure sign of life, but then they determined that water to be too cold for anything on Earth to survive in. Agreed, Earthlings may not be able to survive on Mars, but that doesn’t mean no other life forms can. For the most part, humans are so self-centered they think they’re the only ones inhabiting the universe. I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of aliens checking us out too *waves back*. There IS definitely life on other planets, the Buddha said so 2,600 years ago, and I believe that. Just because we can’t see them in the pictures that space probes beam back doesn’t mean that they don’t exist…

… and in other news, I have just eaten half a grapefruit the size of a personal watermelon, and it was the juiciest thing ever, a far cry from the slightly bigger than an orange-sized ones that I have to squeeze to death for every last drop of juice that it’s worth. I guess it helps to have the world’s orchards in your backyard, eh! I’ve got a 10lb bag of these delicious babies in the fridge, gonna take my time to work through them.

Okay, that’s all the rambling from me today. Have a great one, folks!

Rain!

It’s raining!! Yup, you heard me! It’s freakin’ raining!! It hasn’t rained in California for ages so you can imagine how it’s been on the agricultural produce that California is famous for – the grapes, apricots, peaches, oranges, almonds, walnuts, … Our back lawn is parched, and our poor car, rarely washed, to conserve water, has been wearing an unfashionable coat of dirt and dust.

The rain is not heavy, just steady but it’ll do. I’m standing at the open window just breathing in that distinctly cool and nostalgic freshness. It takes me back to overcast college days of hoodie-clad me racing down tree-lined paths on my racer bike with the cool breeze whipping the rain lightly onto my face  It always made me feel light-hearted and so happy.

I love the distinct smell of the rain here. It’s so clean you just can’t help being greedy and taking it lungful after lungful of its cooling freshness. It’s certainly not the kind of rain that serves to come down in torrents to wash away the disgusting pong of trash left behind on the streets by the garbage truck, shall we say?

It’s still raining outside. I can hear it. I don’t have the pictures to show you, I’m assuming you know what rain looks like. But trust me, this rain is different, it’s so much more beautiful (for the memories it invokes in me).

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