Friday, March 31, 2006

Mammoth Trip Photos 2

I don't usually share photos of my son, but here he is (above), looking like a little pro.

This is poblano cornmeal crusted halibut from the Chart House. It was good, but I much preferred the ahi that my hubby ate. Oh well, at least he shared some!

And as promised, this is the aforementioned photo of my husband at snowboarding class. He's the figure second from the left. What did I tell you? It was really coming down!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mammoth Trip Photos 1

The view from our bedroom.
Outside of our condo...
Our condo is behind all of that snow! You can't even see our windows!

It was just beautiful during our trip to Mammoth Lakes. We had two days of warm, clear skies and beautiful snow for skiing. And our last it snowed ALL DAY long! (Just ask my husband, he had signed up for a snowboarding class, and they don't cancel classes because of weather...that picture will follow!)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mammoth, here I come!

I'm taking a few days off to go to beautiful Mammoth Mountain. I won't be skiing, as that isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I will still be having a lovely time!

I plan to work on my knitting, scrapbooking, reading and time-wasting in general.

I'll take some photos and share when I get back!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Finally. My husband admits the truth.

Out of the blue the other day, my husband tells me that "he has to admit" that after watching Rachel Ray for a while, he has begun to find her annoying.

Thank you. That's all I wanted to hear.

For the longest time now, my husband has pretended that she's not so annoying and teased me about my feelings for her. But alas, in the end, even HE is not impervious to the fake laugh.

On a similar note, my sister recently checked out a family style cookbook written by Ina Garten. I flipped through the book and the recipes looked pretty darn good. In fact, my sister has made the standing rib roast twice now, and let me tell you - it's damn good.

But the thing that struck me first when I was reading her notes and introduction, was this: she doesn't seem as stuck up when you read what she's saying versus seeing her on television. (My sister said she thought the same exact thing when she was reading it.)

So, when I think about it, I realize it's the impression of being fake or being a snob that makes me dislike those two cooking shows. And it's too bad. Because who doesn't need to know how to make a good meal quickly, or how to entertain in the Hamptons?

No, really, they both seem like fine cooks. But, I guess what I perceive as parts of their character matters enough to me. Enough to make me change channels when I see Rachel beaming out at me with unnatural joy over cooking a thirty-minute meal.

Friday, March 17, 2006

WCB #41

You know it's cold when these two get together for warmth!

Thanks to Clare for hosting...check out more kitties at her page *I'm early right now (Friday afternoon) so check on her site later...maybe Saturday...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Anniversary #8

This week I celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary. Every year, with each passing anniversary, I always find that I can't believe that much time has gone by.

Even though last year I celebrated my 7th, and I know that next year I'll celebrate my 9th, I know that I will still wonder, "where has the time gone?!"

Now, my husband likes to quip (jokingly, I hope), that it "seems longer" (back off ladies, this romantic is all mine), but I think that we both are surprised every time we think about how fast time flies.

Our big milestone this year is that our cats will be turning 10 years old this summer. This is like you or me celebrating our 50th, so I guess I'll need to whip out the good tuna and cream.

This morning I read about 'motherhood glances' over at as I see it now and again felt reminded: time does move fast.

Watch a few too many Law and Order episodes and there goes another year!

So this is a reminder. Spend time with your loved ones building memories to look back on.

The joy of living life with others is more satisfying than a "really good CSI" or a Thanksgiving Day shopping spree. No great mystery about it, but somehow, I still need reminding every once in a while.

Oh, and my husband got an A+ this year. He sent me 2 dozen long stem red roses from Everyday Flowers in Tustin. They are gorgeous and so perfect. Granted, he bought me roses because he didn't buy me a gift and when I gave him a small gift he felt guilty...but nonetheless, he sent me flowers and the other ladies in my office are jealous, and for this I give him full credit.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Foodie QOD #13

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.

- James Beard

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Black Bean Soup

I tried this recipe from because it was rated highly. The only thing that I can figure is that it was rated by vegetarians, because to me, this just lacked the depth of flavor I would expect from a bean soup. I think that switching to a chicken broth would help. Or perhaps adding some ham steak would enhance the flavor. Next, I think that I'll try the America's Test Kitchen recipe for black bean soup. After I've tried it, I'll have a full report!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups vegetable stock
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, 1 can of the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.

2. Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining can of beans; add to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Banana Nut Bread

This banana bread recipe never lets me down. Of course, like many baked goods, they're best on the day they're baked.

It has a great crust that is crisp on the top and a moist interior.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter or margarine. Beat the egg slightly, and mix into the creamed mixture with the bananas. Mix in sifted ingredients until just combined. Stir in milk and nuts. Spread batter into one greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until top is brown and cracks along the top.

I usually end up baking mine around one hour, but I do the toothpick test to determine the exact moment to remove it from the oven.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bees, bees and more bees!

I've learned more than I ever thought I would about bees this last week. So, of course, I'm sharing my random knowledge with you.

I borrowed a book on honeybees from the library for my 6-year-old, trying to find something that will get him more interested in books. I have since gone back for two more books on bees. He really got interested in bees!

The major facts about bees are these:

1. Most hives only have one queen, unless it's a REALLY big hive, in which case it might have more.

2. The majority of the rest of the bees in a hive are workers. Workers are female (I knew that God is a Man) and they collect the pollen and nectar, make honey, care for the eggs and young, and do the rest of the work in the hive.

3. Drones are the males. They are stingless, defenseless, and unable to feed themselves (sounds like some other males I know) and are fed by the worker bees. The only job a drone has is to make with the queen(s). I know this sounds like a posh job, but before anyone rushes to sign up, you should know one thing: immediately after mating with the queen, the drone dies. Well. That is a job hazard!

4. Honeybees have to visit about 1 million flowers to make one small jar of honey. You better appreciate that, they worked hard!

5. Honeybees are most attracted to blue, purple and yellow flowers.

6. The wax for the honeycomb is secreted from the abdomen of the worker bees. The honeycomb are used to store pollen, nectar, honey, and to house new eggs.

I also learned that female mud-daubers sting spiders and paralyze them. Then, they take the paralyzed spiders and put them in the little mud rooms that they lay their eggs in. They lay an egg with the paralyzed spider, and then when the egg hatches, the baby wasp has "fresh food."

Interesting facts!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Careers for Gourmets & Others Who Relish Food

I went to the library last night and found this little red book nestled in with the cookbooks. Careers for Gourmets and Others Who Relish Food is a book that is supposed to "help you find your own personal recipe for success."

If you're like me and have a love of food, you have probably had someone tell you, "You really should own your own restaurant."

At which I always mentally respond: no way! Give up my personal time, my family life, work long hours and face the very real likelihood of having my business fail?! I don't think so.

But lately, probably as a result of getting older, I have begun to appreciate the whole 'you only have one life to live' thing. And, subsequently, I have been reconsidering my standard response that the idea of owning a food-related business.

Now, my response is maybe.

If it was well-planned and well-thought out. If it wouldn't kill my personal life. If I didn't have to put up my future house as collateral. Lots of 'ifs'!

I really admire Vicki at The Moveable Feast for having a successful career in food, but is it possible that I can do that, too? And more importantly, would I want a career in food? As I explore this question, maybe you, too, can answer this for yourself.

The book says that you have to take careful stock of what you know about yourself, and how those personal traits of yours stack up against some of the harsher realities of the culinary arts.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Q. Will you be happy working with food, every single day?
Try to be realistic as possible about how you would feel, cooking all day long, every single day. Not every aspect of cooking is fun. A lot of the work is tedious and repetitive.

Q. Are you confident you can work with others as part of a team?
This work is both physical and mental, and it is definitely demanding. When you find yourself stressed to your limit, you need the maturity and calmness to dig down a little deeper and find the energy to keep going without throwing a tantrum.

Q. How do you feel about working on holidays?
It is not uncommon to have to work 10, 12, or even more hours in a row from time to time. The work is exhausting and grueling, and, more often than not, you will be tired, dirty, and worn out at the end of a shift. There are always days when you will wonder why you ever chose a job that keep you from joining in with family celebrations like Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and Mother's Day.

There is lots of stuff to consider before starting any business. And considering that over 57% of franchised restaurants and around 61% of independent restaurants fail within the first three years, I guess we should try to consider all of the realities of owning a food-related business before leaping.

I found these comments from the article on business failure rates very interesting:

"Many of the failed restaurant owners attributed their failure partly to family issues such as divorce, poor health or simply a desire to retire," Parsa said.

All mentioned the immense time commitments that a restaurant requires.

"The successful owners were either very good at balancing their family and work lives or single or divorced. The failed owners were no longer willing to make those familial sacrifices."

Food for thought!! Dawn

Sunday, March 05, 2006

French Dip Sandwiches

I love a good french dip sandwich. The delicious flavor of the beef, the amazing au jus. I never would've imagined that one of the best french dip sandwiches I'd ever eat would be the one I'd make at home!

This weekend, I knew that I wanted to try a new recipe. I was on the mission of finding a new crock-pot recipe. Something simple, yet oh-so-good! And I found it!

Easy Slow Cooker French Dip

4 pounds rump roast (I actually only used about 3 1/2)
1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth
1 (10.5 oz) can condensed French onion soup
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer (darker is better)
6 french rolls
3 Tablespoons (give or take) olive oil
Flour (for dusting roast)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Garlic powder (to taste)

Trim the excess fat from the roast. Pat dry. Dust the roast with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and flour. Cook in pan over medium-high heat in olive oil until browned on all sides.

Once browned, transfer roast to crock pot (slow cooker). Add the beef broth, onion soup and beer. Cook on low setting for 7 hours.

Once cooked, remove from crock pot and slice against the grain (this part is really important in order to get tender meat). Dip the sliced meat in the jus in the crock and serve on split french rolls with cup of au jus on the side. I also love to use creamed horseradish on my sandwiches.

Tickled my funny-bone: My six-year-old asked saw me getting my camera out of the bag this morning and asked me if I was blogging again (although I think he called it bonking). He said, you know, with food? He sort of answered his own question with his comment: it smells like it!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Food Fact

In today's Food section of The Orange County Register there is an article about Williams-Sonoma founder Chuck Williams.

I never really knew anything about him, but what I read was quite interesting (at least to a foodie like me).

Charles (Chuck) E. Williams turned 90 years old last October. He opened his first store in 1956. Fifty years later, his shop has grown into a 260-store-plus Williams-Sonoma chain. And including his spinoffs (Pottery Barn, Hold Everything, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home), the store total grows to more than 550.

He shared an interesting little food fact in the interview. "Do you know why souffle dishes have these pleated sides?" He explained that in the great houses of ancient France when a souffle was pulled from the oven, it was quickly wrapped in a collar of pleated starched linen "just like the collars people wore back then" so it was attractive enough to be presented at the table.

Now I know something new, and maybe you do, too!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hello Again!

I'm back. I don't have that feeling of the ceiling caving in quite as bad anymore!

After the holidays were over, my work was just so crazy and that combined with personal problems was enough to make me feel...well, let's just say 'not good!'

I haven't been doing very much cooking lately, but I've got to get out of my funk and get back to it.

My two biggest barriers are that I feel overwhelmed by recipes that are either too labor intensive because I don't feel like I have enough time and the fact that I have been dealing with chronic heartburn for quite a while, so I can't eat as much. What a bummer!

But, I think that if I stick to some simple recipes, I'll be cooking again before I know it.

Since I last posted, I have made a couple of delicious items. First, I made a wonderful, simple French Onion Soup. And last weekend I made Bacon Quiche Tarts.

French onion soup is one of my favorite soups to make because there are No Rules.

I know, I know...that can't be true, right? French onion soup is one of those items that everyone seems to think that there is a right or wrong way to make it. I disagree.

My coworker Jan told me how she made her soup and after I made her tell me a couple more times, I went home and made it - without a recipe. And it kicked butt!

So, here is the basic gist of the recipe. I usually select a white onion, a sweet onion, a brown onion, a leek, and a shallot, but any combination of those will work fine. I use about 1 1/2 tablespoons (little more or less as needed, depending on how much onion you use) of each olive oil and butter. The butter will lend that rich taste and the olive oil with raise the smoking point so that the butter doesn't burn.

Cook the very thinly sliced onions, shallot and leek in a large heavy-bottomed pot in the butter and oil mixture over low. Cooking slowly and stirring every couple of minutes, cook the onion mixture until soft and caramel brown (be careful not to burn). Add a box of your favorite beef broth to the mixture and let simmer for 10-20 minutes so that the flavors meld. Serve with gruyere, swiss, mozzarella, and/or croutons as a topping.

I hope to post on a semi-regular basis...but I am not promising anything just yet! Thanks to Michelle, Vicki, Ilva, and Kristi for your thoughts. I'll be stopping by all of your sites today to check in on you all!