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!!

 

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!

That frozen yogurt surprise

That frozen yogurt surprise

When I heard we were going to Yogurtland for dessert, I was like, what? First off, I didn’t think my kids liked yogurt (all that much!). Secondly, how did they figure out that frozen yogurt is even a dessert? The poor things grew up believing that dessert meant fruits and nothing else. I made sure of that.

I made pretty darned sure they didn’t find out about the other kinds of dessert. So no cakes (except on birthdays), no chocolate, no candy, no soupy, gooey Asian desserts. None of that! I think ice cream was probably their only vice growing up, and even then, it was more of a treat than a given.

So yeah, I’m surprised they found out about Yogurtland. Omg, how did that happen? And there’s a wall of yummy choices too and enough combinations to make anyone dizzy.

That frozen yogurt surprise

So while they grabbed a cup each, I was happy to tag along sans one. I’m not big on this kind of dessert so I’m content to savor a mouthful here, a mouthful there. That’s good enough for me.

That frozen yogurt surprise

As we moved up the line to the endless selection of toppings (this picture doesn’t even show the half of it), I was like, wow, this is crazy! I’ll have no part in this lol!

That frozen yogurt surprise

You can help yourself to whatever flavors and toppings you like and it’s charged by weight. Ours was a modest cup that tasted clean and refreshing without being overly flavored or sweet. Delicious!! Next time, I might have to get my own cup.

That frozen yogurt surprise

So yeah, it looks like going to Yogurtland has suddenly become a thing with the folks for whom going out for dessert is almost unheard of. What’s up with that? The last time we ventured out for dessert, we came away unimpressed. But that was then. Apparently now, randomly swinging by Yogurtland isn’t so surprising any more.

Thanksgiving on Black Friday?

Thanksgiving on Black Friday?

Oops, I’m late posting this. Busy, busy, busy. Well, this year’s Thanksgiving swept in and out like a whoosh. When friends invited us to spend Thanksgiving with their family, it meant throwing our own Thanksgiving dinner to the backseat, yup, to very late Black Friday. Strange, I know, but shopping comes first, food can wait.

Yup, people, you gotta get your priorities right. Black Friday waits for no one. So we headed out to the stores early Friday morning to join in the shopping frenzy. This is the first time we’ve done this and it was fun. But we came back with only one bag of gifts for friends and nothing for ourselves *sad face*. But all is not lost. There’s always online shopping, right? So you know where I’ve been.

Since we chose to cook the entire dinner ourselves, pretty much, I can tell you the kitchen was a hive of activity. With all the running back and forth between kitchen and computer, you would expect some delay and lack of focus in the cooking and roasting. But apart from that, everything went smoothly and the dinner gong sounded right on the stroke of 7:00.

Thanksgiving on Black Friday?

Our roast turkey was a little under-roasted, I know! No doubt, the result of paying more attention to shopping than roasting lol. Well, that + the fact that we didn’t want it overly charred + we were so hungry we couldn’t wait. But trust me, it tasted ama-azing!

 

Twas a simple meal with no room for dessert. Everything here – mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, my tricolor coleslaw (so pretty!) and the best gravy ever – is homemade except for the stuffing.

Thanksgiving on Black Friday?

If there’s one thing you’ve probably noticed by now, it’s that I don’t give two hoots about my food photography. I mean, when your tummy’s growling and your hands are shaky, you can forget about pretty pictures. This is what I call organic photography. It’d be nice spending hours arranging everything on fancy table mats for those glamor food shots but that’s not me. So excuse me, I’m hungry, I just wanna eat *rotfl*

Have a great rest of the long Thanksgiving weekend. Drive safe!

Happy Thanksgiving

Popping in to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Hope y’all had great food, good company and family time. Just back from spending the entire Thanksgiving day with a friend and family. Now knee-deep in Black Friday shopping. Be right back to post about our Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving menu planning, check!

Thanksgiving menu planning, check!

Hey, Thanksgiving week is here and I’m happy to report I’m ahead of schedule with my menu planning! How did that happen? Well, I got off my butt and went shopping earlier than usual. Simple as that!!

Aa-and I have a turkey in my shopping cart to show for it, yay! Most years, my turkey has been much bigger and frankly, quite a weight-lifting challenge after it’s stuffed. This year, I have a modest 11-pounder.

Thanksgiving menu planning, check!

And speaking of stuffing, last year, I said I’d make my own stuffing this year since it’s pretty easy and I’ve done it before. But as I was making my rounds at the sampling booths, I tasted the stuffing they were giving out (same one I bought last year) and I was instantly reminded of how much I like the taste. So forget about making my own, let me just grab a box!

The cranberry sauce I sampled also turned out to be the same one I bought two years ago. Last year though, I found cranberries in the frozen section at $1.99 for like a 2-pound bag which I grabbed without so much as batting an eyelid to concoct my own sauce. This year, I’m going to continue the tradition of making my own cranberry sauce which tastes really good and will have more natural goodness if I cook it myself.

To complete the meal, I made mashed potatoes last year and a romaine salad which proved to be too much for one sitting. I mean, Thanksgiving is a huge, huge meal that’s eaten over several meals. So I’m trying to scale it down this year. The mashed potatoes will stay but I’m changing up the salad for homemade coleslaw instead. So that’s going to be interesting.

So are you ready for Turkey Day? *winks*.

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