Poke, if only it came with waterfalls

Poke, if only it came with waterfalls

So we’re on our way down from Yosemite, the land of waterfalls. Maneuvering those twists and bends can really get you light-headed, I tell ya. Not to mention the blur of the redwoods, sequoias and cold wind rushing past the slightly rolled down car windows. You tilt back your head, take a deep breath and let the mountain air permeate through your entire being. Man, this is what I’m talking about!

And now to top off that light-headedness, it’s time for some poke (pronounced po-kay). Since we found out about a seafood restaurant tucked away behind the downtown fish market last year, we’d been quietly sneaking down there for the occasional dose of raw fish goodness. They don’t serve live seafood (which makes this place all the more attractive to me) but they sure do serve a mean bowl of poke that’s bursting with fresh raw fish and robust enough to feed two. Poke for the diehard, in other words.

Then somewhere in the middle of last year, Pokiland opened not far from us and we started going there for our fix. It’s popular with the health conscious, offering less of a focus on the fish and more on greens, toppings and sauces. You pick a bit of this and that to personalize your own poke bowl.

Poke, if only it came with waterfalls

Looking at this picture, I know you’re going, but where’s the fish? Well, you can’t see it but trust me, there’s 2 generous scoops of raw salmon and tuna hidden at the bottom of the bowl. Well, that’s how they put together your order, you start by selecting your proteins so the fish goes in first and ends up hidden underneath all of those gorgeous toppings and sauces.

Okay, then, let’s mix it all up and dig in! Omg, you cannot believe how good and SPICY this tastes! One of their sauces, dabomb, is literally just that! One fiery spoonful and you totally wish you were standing underneath a waterfall with your mouth open. Oh man, where are those waterfalls when you need ’em!

Poke, if only it came with waterfalls

Pretending to be a restaurant

Pretending to be a restaurant

If you ask me, weeknight dinners are supposed to be homey, maybe even to the point of boring. While cooking up a storm on a weeknight may be counter-intuitive, I think it makes sense to linger near the stove just a little longer on cold evenings like these. And just to throw in a little fun, why not pretend to be a restaurant serving up a dinner to some weary diners?

First up, that obligatory omelet that I would not order but which my girl friend never fails to order . But why? Baffled! I made this with the last few eggs in the fridge and the egg whites I had left over from my cream puff project.

Pretending to be a restaurant

Next, we have a braised dish. It was supposed to be braised pork belly which I love but will not order because it always seems to be swimming in fat and sodium. While the prospect of cooking it myself was exciting, I’m new to braising, sorta.

And also I’ve been looking for a leaner cut of pork belly. Does lean pork belly even exist? I didn’t think so either. Armed with zero experience in the pork purchase department, I was wont to throw up my hands and leave it once again to the God of Ribs! No lean pork belly? No problem. We got ribs!

Pretending to be a restaurant

I braised the ribs with potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Weird combination, I know. But I couldn’t resist the temptation of making it an even larger pot so we could have it over 2 meals.

And of course, not forgetting the veggies. Chinese kale stir-fry is another hugely popular restaurant dish. Mine comes topped with garlic oil and oyster sauce and with enough carrots to make any rabbit happy.

Pretending to be a restaurant

Spicing up the kitchen

I ran out of cayenne pepper about a month ago. Yes, you read that right. I was cayenne-less for a month and that’s the longest our kitchen has gone without one of our favorite spices. Ever since I discovered the wonders of cayenne and the subtle kick it adds to every dish, I have kept the kitchen stocked with it. But I forgot to check my pantry and found myself shaking an empty bottle one day.

No problem, I thought. I would go to the store and get more.

But when I got to the store, guess what? They were out of cayenne! The little row labeled ‘cayenne pepper’ was empty. I figured that the store ran out of stock since it’s a pretty common and popular spice so I decided to check back the next week. Again, the row was empty so I waited patiently for the next week. By the third week, I asked the store clerk if they were going to restock it. She said she didn’t know.

Finally, after a whole month of waiting and realizing that it might not get restocked for whatever strange reason, I decided to go for cayenne’s neighbor, California chili pepper instead. So far, it has been a good substitute but you can bet I’ll be snagging as many bottles of cayenne pepper as I can when they get restocked!

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too

And so there was the afternoon when we actually made a trip to the bakery for some pastries and a slice of cake. Not on purpose, of course. We were on our way back from lunch and the bakery was just one tiny fattening U-turn away. Convenient, ain’t it?

And of course, this smallish bakery is just about the most happening place for people eager to have a finger in every pie, so to speak. There’s such a big selection of desserts they’d be crazy not to. Want to have a finger in every pie, that is. So we got our fingers ready too. To point at what we wanted.

Because the desserts aren’t displayed with those little name cards we’re so used to seeing. These pastries and cakes have no names because well, the regulars who frequent the place already know the names like the backs of their hands. Not us though. Frankly desserts aren’t that high up on our to-do list.

So let’s see. We had the Blueberry Danish, Cinnamon Roll, Bear Claw and Nicoise Cake. And the verdict: They were all really delicious.

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too

The cake was creamy, way too creamy. But hey, what’s a little cream? Because you can always count on your New Year’s resolution to get you back into shape, right?

Mid-winter froyo

Mid-winter froyo

Ouch, it’s cold. As in freezin’! It’s too cold to blog (anyone got a better excuse?) and it’s been raining heavily except that heavily in California means you can walk outside in a hoodie and not get wet. And when it rains, it’s actually not as cold except when the wind blows.

Some pretty gusty winds out there, the kind that flips your poor umbrella over the minute you get it open. When the wind blows, you shake the loose strands of hair off your face and toss your head back to catch more of it. Refreshing takes on a whole new meaning.

So we get to the front of Yogurtland and the sign says we’re 7 minutes early. We’re the only ones standing marching on the spot (brrr!) outside waiting for it to open! Well, at least we’re not standing in the blazing sun!

Frozen yogurt, here we come! And this time, I got my own cup, yay! (unlike the last time).

Mid-winter froyo

Had the Alphonso Mango Tart, Cheesecake and Sumatra Coffee Blend. Tossed in 2 little pretzels and called it a topping. Coupled with the intense shivering, this is really an awesome combination.

Stepping back out smacking my lips after this delicious frozen yogurt w-was q-quite th-th-the ch-challenge! The wind wasn’t letting up so the only thing left to do was pull my hoodie in closer, toss my head back and do the hustle. Woo-hooooo!!

 

Keep calm and snack on!

Keep calm and snack on!

What do you do when lunch is a distant 2 hours away and your tummy’s doing drum solos every other minute? Answer: Keep calm and snack on!! Man, do we need snacks around here? The cold and the rain and just being indoors has made me a monster snacker. Barely am I done eating breakfast when I’m on the prowl for food again. If you’re in the same boat, keep calm and snack on like I’ve been doing.

Smoked salmon on a water cracker. A snack with a posh twist.

Keep calm and snack on!

Weirdly shaped chicken curry puffs. You can tell these are homemade. No one sells puffs shaped like the sails on a yacht. Unless they’re making them for a nautical-themed party?

Keep calm and snack on!

Kettle chips and guacamole. Yup,we made enough guac to feed an army and no one’s complaining!

Keep calm and snack on!

Christmas menu planning 2016

Christmas menu planning 2016

My Christmas menu is pretty much a blank right now. Blame it on the weather, what else? It’s very sunny but it’s also f-f-reezing, if that even makes any sense. Step outside and you’ll feel Nature’s air-conditioning on the highest setting! It’s really quite delicious – ugh, you know you’ve been writing too many food posts when you use ‘delicious’ on everything including the weather!

Some delicious onion bagels and Hip2bDaughter2’s homemade tomato soup to warm up the insides…

Christmas menu planning 2016

… before we make our shopping and grocery rounds. Strangely, my grocery cart has little in it that has to do with Christmas dinner. We’re just gonna wing it this time because we’ve been invited to a Christmas breakfast? Never heard of it. Not quite sure that it means. Do we roll out of bed and over in our jammies and hurricane hair? I don’t know but we’ll find out.

Meanwhile, we’ve been picking out Christmas cards and shopping for baking ingredients for the cookies we’re planning to give out to friends. Christmas cards, I haven’t bought any in ages since I decided to be environmental and send e-cards instead. But Christmas cards seem to be in vogue here so here’s to a bit of nostalgic shopping.

I’m guessing we’ll be coming home after breakfast to cook our own Christmas dinner. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter when we have our  dinner because we don’t celebrate Christmas, not as a religious event anyways. It’s just seems fun having it on Christmas Eve along with the rest of the world.

For many years now, we’ve had roast turkey on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, instead of roast turkey (which we decided to limit to possibly one a year after reading about the inhumane ways they treat turkeys), I’m planning to grill pork ribs of the pre-marinated kind (from that mile-long rack we bought recently) and whip up my homemade cranberry sauce, coleslaw and mashed potatoes to go with those ribs. So there, I’ve got my Christmas menu figured out just like that!

What meal do you have lined up for Christmas?

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