Only words

First there were the Wordless Wednesdays and I think many of us had fun with it. I have to admit it’s an ingenious way to ‘write’ a blog post without actually writing it! But now I’ve decided on going in the opposite direction – pictureless posts, something that few may embrace though it sounds like fun to me.

For too long, we’ve given in to our photo-snapping obsession and allowed our pictures to tell our stories for us. Some folks have even gone so far as to trade in their blogs for insta’s. Nothing wrong with that but there’s a reason why I never bothered setting up an account!

Personally, I’m not a fan of using my photos to do the talking, or blogging, for me. I’m someone who rarely pulls out my cellphone to show people my pictures or plaster them all over the internet. I actually prefer to describe stuff to folks whether they like it or not.

We-ell, it could be because in real life, I’m a nerd lol. So yeah, it’s all very well that technology has made it so much easier for our pictures to paint a thousand words but for me, I still prefer to write a thousand words.

I think half the fun of blogging is the writing itself. To some, a post without pictures is like driving without a steering wheel. I get that! But somehow, that’s not me! Sure, photos add a nice backdrop but ultimately, I think it’s the words themselves that speak the loudest.

More power to the written word! Hear, hear!

Days like this

Okay, so it’s a sizzlin’ 106 degrees outside. It’s been hovering steady at these temps all week. That’s the heatwave for ya, all up and down the west coast of California and the southwest in general. Good thing we’re back from our road trip to Arizona (it’s even hotter there, ouch!) or you’d hear me swearing from way out there (not that I swear. that much!)

Inside the house, however, it’s a different story. We haven’t set foot outside today. Not one step. Yup, best to stay cool even if it may be a little stuffy at times with the windows shut tight to keep out the hot air. Thankfully the air-conditioning is behaving.

So here we are, on this sizzler of a day. The first phone alarm goes off at 5:30 this morning. I stumble across the room in true zombie fashion to swipe the freakin’ thing off and jump back into bed. Mid-dream, someone else’s phone alarm goes off. Who the heck sets the alarm to 6:02 anyways? Okay, okay, it was ME!

I transport said phone to my bedside table knowing it’ll ring again soon and I’m certainly not going to go tripping across the room for the third time. The next time it rings, my arm swings out and I blindly and furiously tap my screen till the music stops. Note to self: I really shouldn’t use a song I like as an alarm. Now I kinda hate that song.

Okay, okay, I’m up, I’m up! If I sound like I really don’t want to get up, I’m lying! Thoughts of that delicious cup of morning coffee sends me off like an arrow, headed straight to ye ol’ electric kettle to turn it on. And that jingle is playing in my head, the same one I learned from the TV commercial during my college days – the best part of waking up is Folgers in my cup!

I take, oh maybe, a half hour over my bowl of oats and coffee, savoring the still and quiet of the morning as I potter around the house and the internet before anyone else is awake. That, for me, is the best part of waking up with the sun.

Soon the house is awake with sounds of Hip2bDaughter2 concocting her potato soup from scratch in the kitchen. By this time, I’m hungry. Again. I need to eat. But with lunch time technically 3 hours away, what am I supposed to do to assuage a growling tummy?

Thank goodness for leftovers. But is the single serving of rice and braised pork ribs from last night enough for us? Clearly not! So should we have the potato soup now? The answer is, why not?! Potato soup and crackers it is! That’s how we end up finishing lunch at 9:30am.

And needless to say, by the time the real lunch time rolls around, we’re famished. Poking my head into the refrigerator, I find the last bit of banana cake we baked last week for our Arizona road trip. Whew! I’m glad someone thought to defrost it.

By mid-afternoon, the naughty knotty tummies are a-calling yet again and this time, it’s some sun chips, dates and a half grapefruit each. By dinner time, it’s really beginning to feel like we haven’t stopped eating since breakfast, which is technically true.

Still, dinner is certainly not to be missed. Soon ’em chicken wings be in the oven (on such a hot day?! you better believe it!) and a whole pound of ’em asparagus (which is in season at $1.99 per lb so it’s been asparagus 3 nights in a row!) be saute-in’ in the skillet.

Man, I love me days like this, just hanging out at home chillin’ and drinkin’ (lots of water!), with no place to go and nothing much to do and piles of unwashed dishes in the sink, that make life in the hometown so cool. Did I just say cool?!

 

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?

Reflecting on 2016

Reflecting on 2016

Okay, so I started writing that obligatory end of year post that tries to capture, in a single post, everything that’s gone on in an entire year, but I didn’t finish it. Frankly, it’s harder to write than most years. 2016 was meh, at least that’s how I feel right now.

I’ll say though that yesterday was a beautiful winter’s day outside, the kind of scene you read about in novels – gray, foggy, rainy and trees now devoid of leaves – and so cold I had to keep my hands wrapped around the electric kettle. Gorgeous weather…

… and enjoying baguette slices gently toasted with homemade garlic butter and a bowl of piping hot homemade tomato soup. Aaah!

But the show post must go on. In keeping with the tradition of past reflection posts, I’m going to throw a bunch of completely random recap of our food adventures out there.

Cooking firsts

It’s again been a year of kitchen explorations with lots of cooking, lots of baking, lots of eating. What’s exciting is the bevy of budding chefs working alongside me in the kitchen churning out lots of creative ideas and new favorites. Our joint successes this year include:

New food loves

2016 was, in many ways – grilled, braised, pre-seasoned – the Year of the Pork Rib for us. It’s also been the year we ate a lot of fish #happy and too many desserts and snacks #notproud. Happy New Year!

Happy tummies, happy holidays!

Happy tummies, happy holidays!

So okay, we attended a Christmas breakfast. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Is she going to serve oats? cereal? fruits?  Hmm, now I know. Christmas breakfast is another way of saying Christmas lunch because by the time her entire family arrived, it was lunch time! Understandable, of course, given that her children and grandchildren were driving into town from all over the state.

Meanwhile, she’d been up since the crack of dawn to start making – breakfast? – for 15 people. She was thrilled when the elves showed up bright and early – 9:30 on the dot! We immediately got to work – washing and arranging strawberries, raspberries and grapes, cutting pineapples, slicing bananas to place on the jello. Yup, I was right about the fruits *winks*.

Them there were the leek and feta cheese phyllo pastries to arrange on the baking sheet to go into the oven. She has 2 full-sized ovens, by the way, and was lamenting that she needs 3! Between whipping the cream, arranging the crackers and wheat thins, laying out the jams, sauces and salsas and the doorbell ringing every 10 minutes, time flew by rather slowly!

By noon, we were running really low on fuel. At this point, we were willing to do just about anything to help her speed things up so we could sit down and EAT already! Good thing we always eat before attending invited events. In fact, we’d had 2 breakfasts at home that morning before heading out. Winter does weird things to your digestion.

Finally after 3 whole hours, my plate was filled with turkey, ham, sausage, bacon, corn salad, biscuit, crackers and fruits – hohoho! – followed by an afternoon of games, gift exchanges and some photos before dessert. There was so much food I ended up having only a slice of pumpkin pie. Good times, good food and lots of laughs.

We got home in the evening to pop those ready-to-cook ribs into the oven.

Happy tummies, happy holidays!

Thank goodness everything else was pretty much ready to eat – my homemade cranberry sauce, coleslaw and mashed potatoes. Happy tummies, happy holidays!

Happy tummies, happy holidays!

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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