Category Archives: food

Bridal Shower sans Cake

Good morning and happy August – Jillian here.  An update on Hobbes first—He is back to this normal, crazy self and even though he can be a pill waking me up for food or to go on the porch in the wee hours of the morning,  I’d rather have him like that than when he wasn’t feeling well. Serendipitously,, I met a vet tech who told me more horror stories about that 24 hour emergency vet place – including one where they did a full battery of tests on a dog where they said it was vomiting blood and the animal had serious issues.  The truth? He bit his tongue and it was bleeding where the phlegm he was spitting was discolored.  Reiterates my decision to never darken their door again. 

Yesterday, I drove two hours each way to attend a bridal shower for a nephew’s bride-elect. It was a long trip, but worth it to see family I haven’t seen since February 2020 (the month before Covid lockdown).  The shower itself was utterly unorganized and lasted forever. I was texting my niece that I could feel my hair getting grayer by the minute. 🙂

It was a lovely venue and the bridesmaids did a beautiful job on the decoration and food. They clearly had no clue about timing, though.  It was supposed to be from 2-4 but they didn’t even tell people to eat until 2:45 and they never cut the cake! Here is what it looked like- I didn’t get a pic of it there, but this is a link to how it looked. Red Velvet Rose Cake! – CakeCentral.com  They also didn’t start opening the presents until 3:55 pm. And she got a TON!  So, my plans to get home before dark dissipated.

I really wanted some of that cake, but alas, it was not to be!  The place was beautiful even though it was a barn in the middle of nowhere. Home – The Gilded Oaks  My niece and I put the address in her GPS and we ended up driving down a road that went from pavement to gravel to red clay.  I kept saying, “This cannot be the way.” We were laughing hysterically and the road got more and more narrow–I kept waiting for the dead end— or the banjos from Deliverance. 🙂 (We have a blast every time we get together—she is more like a sister to me—we’re only 6 years apart in age) and when we got there, we kept telling everyone about this road that was not really a road and they looked at us like we were crazy. When we left, we turned the opposite way from the way we came and guess what?? It was a paved road.  All the way. 🙂

A cool thing they did was a flower bar. They had a variety of flowers in a large basket and each guest was allowed to make a bouquet to take with them. How fun was that?  Sure wish I’d gotten a piece of cake though…..

Blueberries

I have always liked berries, strawberries, blackberries, marionberries, raspberries and this year I am really into blueberries. About a week ago I went to the local farm store and bought two bushes. My nephew had gotten some Legacy bushes so I followed his lead as there were a lot of different varieties to choose from.  

I’m not sure why I have all of sudden acquired such a craving for these berries but in reading about the them, I’m thinking maybe my body is telling me they are good for me.  

I had always thought they grew in bogs but a number of neighbors have them here. In fact, the neighbor next door invited me over to pick some. His bushes were loaded with delicious fruit.

Blueberries don’t seem to require a lot of maintenance. Before they were cultivated, they grew wild and are native to North America. Native Americans were the first to recognize their versatility and health benefits.  If you google ‘blueberries’ there is a lot of information about the health benefits of including them in your diet. 

There are a lot of blueberry recipes. I love them over Greek yogurt and do about half/half. Half Blueberries of course. I also love them in summer salads.   Hopefully I’ll get some pictures of my bushes with fruit next year. I’m looking forward to it. 

Happy Summer!!!!

Cancun

We usually travel in January to take a break from Pacific NW weather, but this year we decided it would be safer to go to Cancun in April.  I loved it and felt completely safe. There were six of us and we have all had our covid vaccine shots except for one person. We’ve been to Cancun numerous times so this time we did stay in the resort which worked perfectly. 

Moon Palace has three palaces and we stayed in the Villa at the Grand. It’s the first time we’ve stayed at this one and it’s my favorite so far. We had a private pool, small but it looked down on the huge pool area and they had activities and music for a lot of the day. It was like having a ring side seat. I got a little pink but no burn. 

The first dinner we had was at a French restaurant and ‘Oh My Gosh’.  For an appetizer I had scallops sautéed in wine and covered in Hollandaise sauce.  I could have made a meal on multi orders of just that. But I had steak for the entree. I wouldn’t have recognized if off the menu without help from the waiter. Another night we went to the steak house and it wasn’t even close to this one. Well except for size.  French servings are a lot smaller and a good thing as I think it’s criminal to go to a French restaurant and not at least look at the dessert menu. Yeah of course just ‘look’, not.  I had Creme Brulee.  

The resort was extremely cautious and very generous with the hand sanitizer.  Someone posted this on Facebook. “I have used so much hand sanitizer that I’m cleaning the toilet when I go wee.”  No kidding, they had people stationed all over that was squirting the stuff on our hands. 

Jules, one of our group, is athletic and among other things took a lesson in surfing.  We had lunch overlooking the surf pool and enjoyed every minute of the entertainment.  The resort wasn’t anyway near capacity so the service was over the top.  Some of the surfers were really good. I couldn’t have done it in my best years and I’m a long way from there now. 

Again, I think this villa is my favorite. 3 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms (3 attached to bedrooms with 2 extra) a small pool, a hot tub, and 5 patio’s. Here’s some pictures, I am ready to go back to this one. 

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Cranberry Chutney Recipe

Our granddaughter made this dish for Thanksgiving. Not only was it a new recipe she embellished it. The original called for brown sugar but after a taste test we all knew it didn’t need it. I can see Cranberry Chutney … Continue reading

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

And suddenly Christmas is almost upon us once more. Despite the difficulties of the past year, it has crept up seemingly faster than ever. I should have been more prepared, after all the shops were playing seasonal music since November, cards and decorations and seasonal food on sale back in September and the Christmas movies on TV since the summer! Not that I have much to prepare. As it has been for the past 20 years, ours will be a quiet time, just Dave and me and my mother, who finally decided yesterday she did indeed want to come to us again. No presents, no fuss, no crackers, just enjoyable food and a little drink or two and even more enjoyable company with the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner, and hopefully a good movie or two to watch on TV.

Talking of TV, the Christmas advertisements haven’t been up to their usual standard this year, in our opinion, although there is one that has moved me to tears. No silly song, indeed, no dialogue whatsoever but the sentiment is so strong it brings a lump to my throat every time I watch it.

https://youtu.be/yg4Mq5EAEzw

With my mother being German, we were bought up with many of the German Christmas traditions, from the Christmas tree never being put up until Christmas Eve, when us children were in bed so it became an extra special magical Christmas morning, to the Advent Calendars, sent from Germany by our grandmother (Oma), years before they became available or popular in the UK. They were simple affairs, a little religious scene behind every dated window or door, and lots of glitter. No chocolates or treats or perfume or even bottles of gin that are so popular nowadays – the ones for adults, that is. These came each year in a large parcel sent from Germany at the end of November, along with a homemade Stollen, Lebkucken, iced gingerbread hearts, packets of Dr Oekter vanilla sugar (because Mum couldn’t get any in the UK), special coffee beans, our presents from Oma, along with other items for Mum and Dad. I will never forget the aroma that filled the house those days when the parcel arrived and opened. Now Stollen and Lebkucken and other German treats are readily available here, much to my family’s delight although nothing yet beats Oma’s baking.

Lovely memories of childhood Christmases fill me each year, and for many a year I have been on a quest to find a recipe my mother would make just after the festivities were over. Years ago you couldn’t buy beer in the supermarkets like you can now. If you wanted to drink beer at home, especially for parties, you bought glass flagons of it from the off-licence section in the pub. When you needed more supplies, someone had to take the empty bottles to the off-licence to be refilled. Of course, the beer went flat very quickly if not drunk and, rather than waste it, my mother would use some of it in beef stews and casseroles and as a special treat, make beer soup! I can taste it now, in my mind. But I have never been able to find the recipe for it. Mother cannot remember the recipe now, nor can she find her German cookery book in which it was written. All I can remember is she used to put custard powder in it.

I have spent many years trawling recipe books and the internet to no avail. Yes, there are recipes out there, but they all include cheese and made with lager, all claiming to be the original German beer soup, but cheese nor lager was ever used in ours or in that Oma made. Try as I might to recreate it adjusting from those recipes, I failed every time. However, a few days ago I came across a site that had many old German recipes from a cookery book dated 1897 and low and behold, there was one for beer soup that sounds very much like the one I know.

Beer Soup
1 cup dark beer
1 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk
1 heaping tablespoon flour
Place egg and flour in a heat safe bowl; set aside. Heat beer, water, sugar, and salt until just before boiling. Pour beer slowly over egg and flour, constantly whisking.  Return to pan. Serve hot.

I haven’t tried making it yet, but I intend to.

Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a carol or two, so here is one of my favourites “Oh Holy Night” sung by four gorgeous hunks to sign off with. But before I go, I want to thank you all for your friendship and support during this difficult year and wish each and every one of you a Happy, Safe, Merry and Enjoyable Christmas, no matter how you are celebrating yours. See you in the New Year.

https://youtu.be/a5j_XuATgRU

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

Getting Creative in the Kitchen…

Okay, so inspired by a good friend I’ve taken a long, hard look at my chocolate addiction. I think she’d been a little concerned that lately at our coffee meet-ups I’ve been choosing hot chocolate instead of a cappuccino, and enjoying a chocolate muffin to go with it. Plus, there are two squares of dark chocolate I treat myself to during the evening, and *whisper* the odd (okay, more than odd) choccie bar I grab during the day.

Anyhoo, to cut a long telling-off very short, she suggested some easy ways to swap up my choccie addiction. Apparently, I can still have the two squares of dark chocolate (Yay!) but have to add way more vegetables and good stuff and ditch the rubbish.

So, I dug out the juicer/blender my mum bought me last Christmas and got to work with what I had in the kitchen. Most people know I’m not a great kitchen creative, in fact, I go there as little as possible. Thankfully, I have a husband who loves to cook and prepare meals, so at least we don’t starve. He never tires of telling people the story about a friend who popped in before Christmas one year and told him to put my pressie somewhere I’d never look and he said he’d put it in the oven because I never went there! Charming!

My first attempt at blending via set recipe was okay, but nothing that would keep me far away from the choccie. So I thought I’d just throw in things I had in the cupboard. It’s been working pretty well and so far my favorite is this one:

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A couple of handfuls of Spinach
Carrot
Half an Avocado
Banana
Cinnamon
Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar/Lime Juice/Apple Juice

Surprisingly, it tastes pretty good (much better than it looks). Now, I just need to give it a name 🙂

How about you? Do you juice or blend? Have any favorite recipes?

 

 

Accountability Partners

Unknown In October a group formed here in our community that I was fortunate to be a part of.  A sort of non-diet group. There were ten of us, we each put in $20 and drew for two competing teams.  The time frame was three months. Yikes this would take us through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Not the easiest time to lose weight. There were no diets, and no rules except a weekly weigh in at the lodge.

Now I have to tell you I am allergic to the E word. The minute someone mentions ‘exercise’ I don’t want to do it. So no walks, but a trip to the mall, that isn’t exercise.  I had scheduled a trip with my friend Karen who was also in the group.  We went to Arizona for the month of November and stopped in Vegas on the way down. We walked over 3 miles in one day but that wasn’t exercise.  Getting a picture here?

I can’t begin to describe this group. We met once a week and after weighing in visited for a bit in the lodge. I laughed so hard at some of the stories. I only really knew two of the women but almost at once we formed a rapport. There were a couple of women that were on weight watchers and of course at some point, we’d all tried most of the diets out there.  We rooted for each other, and shared what was working like rice cakes. We were happy for each and for every pound anyone shed.

In the end every one of us lost weight, and have vowed to keep in touch once a month to weigh in and continue to support each other. There is power in numbers and working with like- minded people to meet challenges.  I feel so much better. This experience was priceless. The team that won voted to return the money equally. We were all winners.

 

 

 

Spring in November

C12D3BB9-7B5A-432B-8959-31DD8D13C38FSince we won’t be going to Arizona this coming January we decided to take the month of November to get a respite from winter. By leaving the end of October we felt safe in changing the route we usually take and instead traveled along the Columbia Gorge to Boise and then cut down on Hwy 93 at Twin Falls.

I’ve been on 93 as far as Wells Nevada quite a few times but it’s been a lot of years since I’ve been on it into Ely.  We saw a smattering of snow and Ely was experiencing some really cold weather. We spent the night there and it was supposed to get to -7 the next morning.  Karen and I dug out sweatshirts and winter coats, but it didn’t last and as we got closer to Vegas we were on the side of the road getting back to t-shirts.

Travel traffic was good until we got to Vegas. Oh my gosh, we deserved a couple of gold stars for that part of the drive. Their freeway design looks like a bowl of spaghetti.  The navigation was almost continually pointing us to take exit this, then a left, then exit that, we finally landed off the freeway and found ourselves in a downtown area. The navigation was still trying to direct us back into the freeway system, but about the time we were ready to give it another go we spotted ‘Las Vegas Blvd.’. Ah ha, Luxor, where we were staying,  is on this street.  We turned north, wrong, and after what seemed miles we turned around and started south. Now at least the distance on the navigation screen was reducing, but it was still trying to get us back on the freeway.  7 miles out we puttered down the Blvd watching as the distance between us and our destination decreased.  All this time the navigation kept chattering. The bright side of our driving adventure was that Karen hadn’t been to Vegas for years and was enjoying the view. Me, all I could see was cars and more cars. It was early afternoon but it looked more like it was in the middle commute time.

So Vegas, we bought a bus pass that enabled us to hop on and off all day. The route took us down the Las Vegas strip. A friend had told Karen to be sure and see the Venetian.  I agree it’s a must see. If you go take a look at the shop area’s  ceilings.

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Another must is the Bellagio. The conservatory defies description. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here’s the link for them.  They change the theme with the seasons and the tigers were there when we were.  They are one of the animated displays.  We played a little and browsed the Conservatory gift shop.  Then had a drink at the piano bar under a ceiling of Chihuly glass.  Loved our time there.

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Linda (friend since second grade) and I were in Vegas in 2016 and had happy hour at Trevi an Italian restaurant in Caesar’s Forum shop area where the ceiling looks like the sky.  Karen and I found it on this trip and it was as good as ever.  I had a salad … the picture it says it all.  We had a Trevi Bellini drink, a repeat of  2016.  Believe me if you go to Vegas you won’t want to miss at least stopping at the Trevi for a drink. 0B6595E9-44FE-432A-A0ED-88F9A3BE83AD

 

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From Vegas it would have been a short day to Glendale even with going through Oatman.  It was Halloween and we expected to get in early and stop for candy but hit construction. They closed the freeway so it turned out to be a two hour detour.  Again, a real driving experience.

We’ll be heading back after Thanksgiving but have so loved Arizona in November we may do it again.  A lot of pool time and lazy days.

 

 

 

 

 

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Busy November

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Jillian here. Happy November. This month is chock full of happenings. The first weekend, I spent with writer friends at a lake house about 2.5 hours from me. My friend’s uncle owns it and he allows her to use it … Continue reading

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Noodle Casserole

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We have been really busy lately and for us busy, stressful, or whatever, means a craving for comfort food. I’m betting most of you will have some version of this recipe in your files. This came to us from a … Continue reading