Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Chatter of Turkey

Thanksgiving is a time to gather around,
 share a wonderful meal and give thanks for so many things.
Our house was no exception,
 and as I stood cooking in the kitchen
 listening to the happy sounds of talking and laughter filling our home, 
I was so very thankful for my life.

For the smiling faces that rang our doorbell, 
the hugs and the laughter,
 the patter of little feet sneaking into the kitchen
to grab a cookie before dinner.
It was the chatter of happiness.

I've decided to share a few peeks into our day...
mostly food related of course,
 with some great new recipes that I've found.

That's me...with Chad playing photographer
 putting the final touches on our table.
  Normally, I have no desire to even be in the photograph,
 but there is a reason for these ones.
It's the dress.
This isn't just any dress...this was an "ah hah" 
that's my dress kind of moment.
I have to give credit where credit is due and that's to Angela over at
her great blog Pickles on Pizza who blogged about this very dress,
from a wonderful little etsy shop Call Me Chula 
that carries the coolest vintage clothing.
So thanks Angela and Call Me Chula for my wonderful dress...
I love it!

So how about what the table was wearing?

This year we rented a large table and cleared out
 our kitchen furniture so everyone could sit together.
The turkey plates were a Homegoods clearance find a couple years back
 and the centerpiece was 5 boxes of "fake" 
fruit and leaves for $2 a box from Walmart of all places.
Can't beat a $10 table centerpiece!

Everyone comes early and we do appetizers before dinner.  
I always do the old standbys, a cheese plate, vegetables and dip,
 but usually throw in one or two surprises as well.
This year it was these.  As you can see from the recipe
 it was supposed to be smoked duck and pear, 
but duck was no where to be found so I did smoked ham and pear.
The only way to describe these...
Christmas on a spoon!

I decorated the drink station and the appetizer buffet with these
 fun glass gems from Personalized Pebbles, a great little shop on etsy.
They are totally customizable and are perfect for all kinds of occasions.
They added a fun little sparkle to the day!

We made all the regular Thanksgiving day food, 
turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.  
This year I tried a new gravy recipe from Tyler Florence.
Calvados Gravy with apple brandy.
It was delicious...a definite keeper of a recipe!

We had 2 vegetarians at our dinner this year.
I saw this as a great opportunity to try out a new dish.
It was fantastic!

The sweetness of the butternut squash, played off the
 bitterness of the swiss chard so nicely.
The caramelized onions, potato "croutons" and
 the crunchy hazelnuts finished it off beautifully.
This recipe is going to be a new favorite in our house for sure!

It was a day of some old standbys and some new favorites.
A day to be thankful for family and friends and good food.
I hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful day with your loved ones.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to each and every one of you
 that takes a moment out of your day,
to stop by my blog and read my ramblings.
I love your comments and read each and every one.
They make me laugh and smile and just feel good.

So from me to you...
thank you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Three Bowls

Three bowls...
a much loved tradition in our house.

Three bowls of baking ingredients that when combined make...
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I've been making these every year for as long as I can remember,
 even before the kids were born.
They define the start of the Holiday season in our house.

The kids know they are coming, and the words pumpkin and chocolate
 and cookies are heard at regular intervals
 in the weeks leading up to Cookie Day...
which this year happens to be today!

It's funny how traditions develop, but I love that they do.  
There is something magical as a child looking forward
 to something that only comes along on special occasions.
The anticipation, the dreaming, and then finally the end result.

They love it and I have to confess, so do I.
It's a ritual of sorts for me...
in the kitchen, apron on, hair pulled back and
 of course it's the first day that the Christmas records get dusted off.
Who can beat standing in the kitchen, in your fuzzy slippers,
 listening to a little Dean and Frank belt out some Christmas carols,
 while the scent of pumpkin, cinnamon
 and chocolate fill the air.

Not me.

As we give thanks this week for so many things...

I am thankful for traditions, my friends
 and above all my family...
without whom I would not be.
I would not be a spouse.  I would not be a Mother.
I would not be who I am today.

For them I am the most thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Steamy Kitchen

Like many other cooks I'm sure, I go through stages.
Sometimes I'm in "easy" mode,
 if it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare...
Sign Me Up!
 And then there are times when I feel more adventurous,
 and love a full evening in the kitchen.

Last weekend I was feeling rather intrepid and
 decided to cook something I'd never made before.

I love Thai food...
especially Pad Thai, it's one of my all time favorites,
 but surprisingly I'd never tackled it before.

So after some searching for an authentic recipe,
 I settled on this one from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook 
(which...hint, hint is now on my Christmas wish list)
which I came across on the
 fabulous Rasa Malaysia website.

After a trip to the local Asian market,
 I came home with everything I needed to get started.

Now it was "mis en place" time...

There is a lot of prep for the recipe but it's easy prep,
 just a lot of ingredients.
Then the real fun begins as you
 get to cook and assemble the dish.

It smelled so good...
I couldn't wait to eat!

While I finished up the Pad Thai,
 Chad was working on Steamed Dumplings
 from an old Martha Stewart magazine
 we found mixed in with our recipe books.

The end result....
(drumroll please)

Pad Thai and Steamed Dumplings with Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce

It was absolutely delicious!

I think the Pad Thai was as good if not better than the one we get
 at our local Thai restaurant.
(That's me giving myself a little pat on my back)

And Chad's dumplings...
Sublime little pockets of glistening doughy goodness,
 surrounding tasty mouthfuls of delectable filling.

So, while not a fast weeknight dinner...
 there is something so satisfying about eating food
 that you prepared yourself.

The verdict...
Steaming up my kitchen...
worth every drop of moisture!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Vous

It was Rose Bowl Sunday!
Yippee for me!!
It's my favorite Sunday of the month.

Rose Bowl Flea Market - Pasadena, California
This is the Mother of all flea markets.
It houses over 2500 vendors and attracts between
 15,000 and 20,000 buyers each month.
It's a really big deal!

I try and go almost every month.
Even if you don't find anything, just perusing through all
 the vintage treasures is a treat in itself.
And of course since this is Los Angeles, sometimes the
 people watching is the best part!

There is everything and anything you can imagine...
and then some you wouldn't believe!

Sometimes I go to just simply go and wander, 
and other times I go with a purpose.
Today I was on a mission.
I've been longing for a mid-century sideboard or martini cart, 
and usually there is a ton of mid-century stuff that
 struts itself on the second Sunday of the month.

But of course as my luck would have it...nothing!
Well, I shouldn't say nothing...there were "somethings",
just not the right somethings or at least not in the
 realm of what I would consider
 not causing great affliction on my wallet.

So I was a little disheartened until...
I saw this!

A 1940's Cocktail pristine condition and filled
 to the brim with recipes for cocktails and appetizers
 and the most hilarious drawings!

Ooooooohhhhhhh...what a find!

So no sideboard was to be mine today...
but when it eventually shows itself,
I have the perfect book to sit on the shelf!

So I leave you with the recipe that we chose to make...


1/3 part Jamaica Rum
1/3 part Apricot Brandy
1/3 part Sloe Gin
Juice 1 Lemon
Dash of Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
(vintage of course)

The Verdict:

Delicious, but
 Whoa Nelly!
If you were to have more than one of these...
you'd be sending out an S.O.S. from the prone position on your kitchen floor!

So go easy and
 "A Vous"
 which translated means
To You!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today I will...

I woke up this morning thinking of my grandfather.
A wonderful man who played a very important part in my life.
He passed away many years ago, but still lives in my heart everyday.

I was remembering an old tin box at my grandparents house.
It was full to the top with photographs, the lid held in place by a rubber band.
The pictures were black and white.
It is my grandfather in uniform, looking very young and dapper.
 It was taken in Indonesia where he was stationed during the war.

It seemed fitting somehow to have that memory today.
I grew up in Canada so to me it is
Remembrance Day.

Today I will remember that photograph.
A sea of red poppies pinned on lapels.
All those who have served their countries.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables

For me it was peas.  
Ick, yuk, blech, gag...the list goes on.
They would sit on my plate and stare at me, 
until they were cold, slightly shriveled,
 beyond edible...except that my Mom would still make me eat them.

It's funny how time changes our tastes, 
because somewhere over the years, I learned to love them, 
enjoy them...they became one of my favorite vegetables.

Like a lot of things in life, exposure is vital to learning to appreciate
 different things; smells, tastes, sounds.
Our minds expand through new experiences.

In this generation of things fast and loud,
 moments of slow, quiet and simple, seem fewer and farther between.
Music is one way of transporting yourself.
One of my favorite artists is Cheryl Wheeler,
I've listened to her for over twenty years.  
She's a very gifted songwriter with a beautiful voice.

My kids have been exposed to her many times over the years,
 driving in the car, on the stereo at home, but they had
 never had the chance to see her in person.  
When I heard she was coming to McCabe's in Santa Monica,
 I knew it was time for a little sensory exposure.

McCabe's is a piece of Southern California history.  
They've been around since the 1950's and just walking
 in the door you step back in time.
It's like an old fashioned candy store...but for guitar and music lovers.

Our 14 year old son plays guitar so he was quite
 literally a kid in a candy store.
Old wooden drawers of picks and guitar goodies to browse through,
 shelves upon shelves of music books and the walls
 are literally covered in instruments up to the ceiling for you to ponder.

McCabes smells important...
even if you don't play an instrument you can sense the history.

Concerts are in their back room with metal folding chairs,
 exposed brick walls, open beam ceilings, and guitars stacked all around.  
Intermission snacks consist of homemade
 chocolate chip cookies and hot tea.
It's an intimate concert experience, much more meaningful than being
 one of faceless thousands in some sterile arena.  

As I sat there watching my boys sing along to more songs
 than I realized they knew, clap and laugh, and eat their cookies;
 I became aware that I've been feeding them "peas" 
longer than I realized and something funny had happened.  
They were enjoying their vegetables. 

A ticket stub pinned to their bulletin board.
A Cheryl song on their ipod.
They like peas. 

If you'd like to listen to Cheryl Wheeler here's
 one of many songs on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Camping on a Stick

There's something about sitting around a campfire making S'mores.  The air is scented with melting chocolate, your fingers sticky from the marshmallows and crumbs of graham crackers on your lips.
It's the quintessential outdoor experience!

Since summer is pretty much over for most of the country, there won't be too many more campfires to sit around roasting marshmallows.  I was browsing etsy the other day, and I came across this
delightful little sweet shop called Nummy Crummies.
What a fun name!

The first thing that caught  my eye...S'mores on a stick!

S'mores Lollipops
Now you don't need to go camping to enjoy this delicious campfire treat.  I asked Melissa the story behind them and she told me "that she LOVES S'mores and was bummed the weather was changing", so she came up with S'mores on a stick "a portable snack".

Melissa was kind enough to send me a little sampler pack of her products to try.  It arrived packed nicely in a box with ribbon and tissue and each sweet treat was tied up in a cute little bag.

Cute packaging
Her Chocolate Marshmallow Mudslide Cookies are fantastic!
If you love chocolate, then this is the treat for you.  The cookie was soft and moist...almost like a little piece of chocolate cake, topped with a marshmallow and some more chocolate.
What's not to love!

Chocolate Marshmallow Mudslide Cookies
When I asked Melissa what her favorite item in her shop was, 
she had trouble picking but finally decided on her 
She told me "they are her flagship item and
 the reason she started her shop".  
She even said "it's hard to fill orders without munching on them".
I'm thinking these would make a perfect snack
 while wrapping Holiday presents!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

While those may be Melissa's favorite...I have my own.
Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears!
They are totally addictive and yes,
I'll admit it...I hid the bag from everyone else in the house.
Mom's secret stash!!
Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears

It's a fun surprise with each bear you eat,
 because you don't know what flavor gummy bear is
 hiding out underneath all that yummy rich chocolate!

Melissa "enjoys the whole creating process...
especially drizzling the chocolate".
She said "there's something relaxing after a long day to
 come home and make sweets".

I like the sound of that...good-bye long hard day and hello chocolate!

Melissa's shop is filled to the brim with wonderful sweet treats.
Perfect for your Holiday gift giving and of course for yourself.

Nummy Crummies on etsy
or on her blog

Happy Sweet and Delicious Day!


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