Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Next town!

Tomorrow morning is when the b.s. girls (Kari, Lulu, Joanna and I) are heading off to Spirit West Coast in Monterey. We're meeting at Lulu's house (down on the south side of Ceres) at 8:00 am and making tracks. We'll be back Sunday afternoon. Three full days of music and shopping and eating. Lots of photos to follow.

News for this week; I got to work on Monday to find a mug I've been asking for sitting on my desk.
It's the new town flag. They've been selling the mugs at the Thursday night 'buy local' event in downtown P-town, but I never want to stay that late to go. Go ahead, be jealous.

The 'rents went to Oregon for the week so we've been on Izzy duty. That really just involves reading all their magazines and occasionally petting Izzy. Maybe giving her some food, too.

Lastly, I am the proud owner of a new ring. It was a ring that his real dad (who died a couple of years ago) gave his mom and his mom has since given Chris to have. Chris had shown it/offered it to me a while back but I wasn't interested at the time. Now I've changed my mind and think it suits me perfectly. It a pearl and diamond in a yellow gold band. Very simple, but it has meaning to us.
I just need to get it sized down a half size or so. It feels like a 5 1/2, but I wear about a 4 3/4 ring. I'll take it to the jewelers next week.

Have a good weekend, I'll be back with an update on Sunday!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Brunch

We went to the 'rents today for brunch. Mum made sourdough waffles with her starter. They were very tasty. You could taste the slight tartness of the sourdough in the batter. She also had sliced up some fresh peaches to go on top as well as some fresh whipped cream, all with a side of bacon.
We got to take home some of the leftovers that we can heat up in the morning in the toaster oven. Excellent!

Instead of going home with Chris, Mum and I went to Heel and Sole to go shoe shopping while Chris and Mr. A. went home to do "car" stuff. I needed a pair of Teva's for Laguna Seca this week (something that would be comfortable to walk all day in, yet okay to get dirty) and Mum is always game for a new pair of shoes. I found some black strappy, squishy foam Teva's as well as a pair of Italian heeled sandals. I wasn't going to get them, but they were so cute and Mum convinced me that they "will go with everything".
Please ignore my chipping toe nail polish. They also had the same shoes in black with navy blue stones, but at $65 a pop, I was only buying one pair today. No more shoe shopping with Mum!!

We had our leftovers from the seafood place for lunch today. They packed the boxes for us so I opened Chris' box to find this delightful little treat.
Peek-a-boo! I'm saving it to put on a co-worker's desk. People are so lucky to work with me!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happiest Place on Earth

First I want to say, "Me too, Jessica"!! I too have numb arm when I sleep. It's my right one. I have to sleep with it flat on the bed or it immediately starts tingling and going numb. If I try to sleep on my left side, I can only go half way and then I have to fling my right arm behind me and keep it flat on the bed. Evil, huh? Maybe we have "crafter's arm", or something. Keep me posted what your doc says. My doctor left his practice so I haven't been in to meet his replacement and pick his brain about what's going on. CrAZy!

Anyway, back to me and my adventures. Today we went to the Galleria mall in Roseville. I think it's the happiest place on earth. I went to Macy's, H&M, Charlotte Russe, Anthropologie (actually across the street), DownEast Basics, The Body Shop, J. Crew, Nordstrom's Rack, Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, Harry & David, Williams Sonoma, and much, much more.
We had lunch in the food court at a place called UFood Grill. It was "healthy" foodcourt food. They had burgers, but with lean beef, turkey, bison and veggie, and there were wraps and bowls. Plus their fries were baked. I had a chipotle pepperjack turkey burger and it was delicious. They serve all their burgers with whole wheat buns, the bowls are with whole grain brown rice, and the wraps are whole grain, too. I wish they had one of those places around here, I'd eat it all the time.
We finished shopping around 5:00 pm so we went across the street to McCormick and Schmick's
which is a seafood restaurant. Chris got jambalaya and I got a grilled chicken fettuccine with a cajun cream sauce. All the fat made it tasty. Next door was a Whole Foods store that we peeked inside and immediately fell in love with. It's like the love child of Trader Joe's and S&S Produce, but with super human powers. There was a salad bar, an olive bar, a soup bar, a pizza counter, a mexican food counter, a sushi/noodle bar and a meat counter to die for. The had premade, seasoned turkey burgers, buffalo burgers, and seasoned hamburgers. They also had a whole corner dedicated to cheeses. Wheels of every cheese you could possibly dream of. Chris was in heaven. We left with one measly box of King Arthur scone mix. So sad.

When we got back in to town we stopped at Marie Callendar's and had some dessert. They had a July $1.99 pie special going so we each got a slice. I had Kahlua cream cheese pie and Chris had lemon cream cheese.
Here's some of my loot from today's haul:
A plaid, "pirate" shirt from Charlotte Russe. Any shirt that had ruffles on the front Chris deemed a "pirate" shirt and mocked. However, all I wanted was a pirate shirt. Badly.
Super cute skirt from DownEast Basics. They had great clothes at a great price. The skirt was like $24 and most of the shirts were $19.99. I also got two tank tops there trimmed with lace on the bottom.
Pirate shirt from the Gap.
Adorable white jacket from Macy's on clearance for $17! I love the green paisley inside trim. I also got a pair of Levi's there on sale.

I'm sure Mum would love the Galleria. She's a Macy's "regular" and loves Williams Sonoma (fancy kitchenware store). Maybe we'll make a fall trip together now that I know how to get there.

Alright, we need to get to bed. We have an "early" morning breakfast date with the 'rents. Mum's making sourdough waffles with some of her starter. It was a recipe we got at our class. I'm sure it'll be good, everything we have there is. Plus, I don't have to make it or clean it up!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cookbook Progress

I spent some time tonight cranking out some more pages in my cookbook:
There's some other, but I think you get the drift. I got some more recipes from a couple of co-workers today so I'm almost ready to start the recipe cards. I promised everyone who participated that they would get copies of all the recipes, too.

I tried another new recipe last night out of my Raley's magazine. It was a BLT and chicken orzo salad. Chunks of seasoned chicken, diced bacon, cherry tomatoes, chopped lettuce, and orzo with an oil/white wine vinegar dressing. We both liked it. I just hope the leftovers heat up well since there's tomatoes and lettuce in it.

We both took tomorrow off for grins and giggles. I've been trying to talk to Chris into a trip to the Galleria mall in Roseville, but I'm not sure I've bribed him enough with promises of bacon for breakfast. We'll see.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Feeding Eduardo

Yesterday was Eduardo's, my sourdough starter, feeding day. That means taking him out of the fridge and coming to room temperature for about an hour. Then I have to scrape him into another bowl on top of my kitchen scale to figure out how much he weighs.
In this case he weighed 6 ounces. That meant that I needed to add 6 ounces of flour and 6 ounces of filtered water to him.
After I mixed Eduardo all up, I measure out 1 cup of starter and put it in a separate container to use today for sourdough biscuits. After the starter is mixed you leave it out for an hour and then refrigerate it. If you plan on using it the next day you leave that amount out for a full 12 hours before you refrigerate it (I mixed the starter at 8:00 pm and left the 1 cup for the biscuits out on the counter until 8:00 am this morning).
Around 11:00 am this morning I pulled the starter back out of the fridge (the same stuff I put in there at 8:00 am) and let it come to room temperature for about an hour. Then I mixed it with flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and canola oil. I took the dough and kneeded it until it was smooth and then rolled it out on my pastry mat.
Using a cup rim, I cut out 9 biscuits from the dough and placed them on a greased baking sheet to rise for an hour.
After a 30 minute baking session in the oven, my little masterpieces were ready for some butter and honey.
At first I was worried because they had a very firm outer crust and obviously hadn't risen much, but once I got them sawed open and buttered up they were pretty tasty. I wouldn't trade a KFC biscuit for one, but they were decent for my first biscuit baking experience.
This afternoon I've been working on my cookbook project for a co-worker who is getting married in October. I've received recipes from about 5 co-workers, with a lot more to come. I stole the design idea from the scrapboook store in Paradise. They had a sample book they'd made out by their kitchen themed merchandise.
The front of the pages are the food category headings (appetizers, breads, soups/salads, etc) and the backside are the pouches that hold the recipe cards.
I ran out of cooking themed paper so I need to go back to the Paradise store to get more this week. I think the biggest time consumer will be retyping all the recipes in to the computer so that I can print them on to cardstock and trim into recipe cards.

We have a work associate of Chris' coming in to town tonight for a multi-day stay for work stuff. We always go out to dinner with him when he comes so we're tossing around some ideas for tonight. I suggested Franky's because it's good and easy. We've already taken him to Casa Ramos (gag), Sierra Nevada, and Thai food. My back-up ideas are La Hacienda or Tres Hombres (not my favorite, but edible). Chris will probably be eating out with him and some other engineers again tomorrow night, but I have a union meeting after work so I'll be dining on a frozen pizza (tuscan chicken, mmm....). It's times like this when I'm bummed that Kramore Inn is closed. We could go there everytime and never run out of new crepes to try. But until dinner, I need a nap. Badly. Chris is already crashed out on his side of the couch. I can feel my eyes getting heavy....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

These shoes are made for walkin'

Two weeks ago I made a trip over to Johnson shoe store in the mall to buy some comfortable, yet stylish shoes for Chicago. I don't want to tromp all over the city looking like a dork in my New Balance. Anyway, they didn't have the color I wanted in the shoes I picked so I've been waiting for them to be shipped from Redding and I finally got the call today. They're Dansko and feel like you're walking on pillows. Yes, they're pricey ($110), but totally worth it for a blister free vacation.
Besides picking up shoes today we went and saw the first showing of Public Enemies (with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale). It was good and had some funny previews that we're trying to remember. We were by far the youngest couple in the crowd. There were so many old people you'd think we were watching a movie about drag queens (always a high old people turn out for those!?!). I would have liked living in the 30's and 40's. Everyone was so stylish. Chris could have worn 3-piece suits made out of plaid.

Tonight for dinner we made the 3rd out of 4 pasta recipes out of my Raley's magazine. This was the dilled ham and cheese pasta. Spaghetti mixed with chunks of ham (from a lightly browned ham steak), chunks of swiss cheese and green onion. The dressing is a mix a olive oil viniagrette with dijon mustard and dried dill. You mix it all together and let it chill in the fridge. Chris probably liked it more than me because I don't like swiss, but it was still tasty.
The leftovers will be lunch tomorrow.

It's too hot to play outside tonight so we'll be house bound again. It just now dropped below 99 degrees and it's 6:10 pm. We still have another recorded movie to watch, Jumpers. I think it has Hayden Christiansen in it. Or there's always NASCAR...

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm melting...

It got to 99 degrees today here at home. That's about 25 degrees higher then I care for and there's no relief in sight. Ugh, summer is officially here.

It doesn't look like I took many photos this week of my going-on's. Monday night I made another of the Raley's magazine pastas. This one was a peanut sauce pasta. Spaghetti with chopped red bell pepper, chunks of chicken, and sliced scallions. The dressing was creamy peanut butter mixed with a Kraft Asian ginger salad dressing. We both really liked it.
Tuesday night was Bunko in Paradise. I didn't win anything, but she had cheesecake for dinner so I still left happy.

Wednesday was bible study at my house. I had a taco bar with all the fixings and spanish rice and chips & guacamole on the side. For dessert I made a recipe out of one of my Sandra Lee cookbooks. It was brandied apricots over a mascarpone cheese mixture on dessert sponge cups with toasted almonds on top. It was a big hit. The apricots were warm from being on the stove so they made the mascarpone melt a little bit hence why the photo isn't quite cookbook quality.
Not much activity on Thursday. Spent the evening at Barnes and Noble's.

Tonight we're watching a movie we recorded. It's Perfect Stranger with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. When it's over we're going to the gym to go swimming.

No big plans for the weekend, other than if we do anything outside it'd better before 8:00 a.m. so it won't be 100 degrees. We'd like to get over to the movie theater and see Public Enemies or The Proposal. During the summer they don't do matinee price Tuesday's anymore so our movie watching is relegated to the weekends.

Facinating week, I know.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baking Class

Today was the bread baking class in Paradise I signed Mum and I up for as a birthday gift to Mum. One of my co-workers, Sherry, teaches bread baking classes at her house up in Paradise every other weekend and she's actually booked solid through the end of October. You learn how to make sourdough bread and make homemade pizza for lunch and an apple stromboli for dessert. Plus she's got tons of snacks out like fresh bruschetta with homemade baguette slices (of course), a blue cheese and butter spread, wild salmon spread, and an olive spread. And a wonderful iced tea made with a mix of plain tea and a couple bags of Good Earth tea heated with a bag of cloves. So, when we first got there we learned how to "feed" the sourdough starter, which we would each be taking a portion of home. The starter's name is "Eduardo" named after the handsome baker Sherry met at a baking conference she went to a couple of years ago. We are NOT allowed to rename the starter under penalty of punishment.
You feed it equal amounts of flour and warm water (equal to the weight of the existing starter) once a week. If it's starts to be too much, you can give some away or just throw some out.

After a basic feeding lesson we got on to the business of pizza dough making.
I didn't spread my dough out as thin and large as others because I like a thicker crust. Once we'd rolled out our dough, we lifted it on to wooden peels liberally covered in semolina flour (finer cornmeal) so that it would slide off easily in to the outdoor hearth. Outside was a buffet style table set up with ingredients to make margherita pizzas. There was homemade red sauce, shredded and sliced fresh mozzarella, basil, sliced roma tomatoes, gorganzola cheese, sun dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and oregano.
Once we made our pizzas, we gave them to Sherry's husband, Glenn, who was the official baker. This is my pizza completing it's 5 minutes bake off in the hearth oven at about 650 degrees!
Doesn't it look fabulous?
Sherry also whipped up a salad to go with it (as if we needed it)! Once lunch was over we got to shape some dough Sherry had make at the beginning of the class. We learned how to stretch it out, tuck the sides into the middle and flip it over, making a taut ball that you shuffle around in a circle continuously tucking the sides under. Then you take it to your round bread basket that has been liberally floured with white rice flour and put the dough in smooth side down. Then you have to take the tucked in underneath and make sure it's pinched together enough to stay put, then you sprinkle some more rice flour on it and cover the basket. They have to rest for an hour before you stick them in the fridge for 24 hours. Thankfully, Sherry had already made and prepped a batch for baking the day before. So she took us outside and showed us how to turn them out on to the wooden peels for Glenn to bake (and us to take home).
You have to make sure to slash the tops before you bake them or they will burst!
By now the hearth had "cooled" down to 500 degrees which is the perfect temp for the bread. It also allows you to bake it in the oven, too. Another trick is that you have to mist the top with water before you stick it in the oven, and again in 5 minutes. Then you leave it alone for 20 minutes.
Then they come out to cool. While they were cooling (and the hearth), we went back inside and made our apple stromboli. We took leftover pizza dough and and rolled it out in a big circle and then cut out the four corners to it was shaped like a cross. The two sides were then sliced in to 5-6 slits. Down the center of the dough Sherry put a cream cheese mixture (cream cheese, egg, almond extract and bakers sugar) topped with a can of apple pie filling. She covered that mixture with lots of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Then she folded the top and bottom of the center section of the cross over the filling. Then you "braid" the side strips down the center. Then she covered the whole thing in an egg wash and topped it with lots and lots of the big, coarse, decorating sugar. Once the hearth got down to about 375 degrees Glenn popped it in there for about 25 minutes. This is Mum and I waiting for the stromboli to bake.
The end result was to die for! Mum was too full from the pizza, but I'm not one to let sweet pastries and ice cream go to waste.
The best part is that the class included a giant syllabus that has numerous recipes for our sourdough starter and this is one of them. So I can make it again and again.

On a side note, one of the participants in the class was Fred, an elderly (75) neighbor across the street from Sherry and Glenn. Absolutely fabulous and funny man. He brought a bottle of home brewed wine to the class which we enjoyed with our lunch. It was a peach sauvignon blanc and it was like candy, it was so good. We all loved it so he said we could come over for a tour of his "winery" at the end of the class and he'd give us all a bottle of it. He can't legally sell it because he's not a licenses winery, but he can give it away.
Besides making wine he also collects old tractors (his winery is called "Old Tractor Winery") and shows them.
These outdoor ones (more were inside the garage) were actually lines in red and green christmas lights that he turns on every evening. Too cute. He told Mum she could bring Mr. A. over anytime to see them, too (he's an old tractor driver from one of the Dakotas).

With our bottles of wine in hand, we went back to Sherry's and loaded up our sourdough loaves, containers of sourdough starter, framed group photo she printed off for everyone while we were at Fred's, instruction booklet, leftover pizza and whatever else we had. Pay attention, this is the best part: I helped Mum load up all of our loot in the backseat of my car completely forgetting that I had placed my bagged sourdough on the roof of my car so that I could open the door. It wasn't until we got to Mum's and I was getting her stuff out that I realized my sourdough wasn't in the back seat and it struck me that I never took it off the roof of my car. It blew off somewhere on Pentz Rd. I literally was ready to cry. I love sourdough and this was my own loaf and I hadn't even got a bite of it yet. I don't have enough starter yet (need to feed it for another week or two) to make another loaf, nor do I have all the tools (peels, baskets, clothes, bread flour, etc). I could just scream even thinking about it. But besides that, I had a good time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thai in a Box

Tonight while I was making dinner, peanut Thai noodles, Chris was out doing our daily garden check. Even though all of our tomatoes came in the same blister pack, they are obviously not the same variety.
They're like cherry tomatoes, but on steroids. The whole plant is full of junior beefsteak tomatoes. The middle plant is producing normal size cherry tomatoes like they're going out of style and the plant on the left has grown as big as the others, but hasn't produced one single tomato yet. Different dads, maybe?

Anyway, back to dinner. I had a boxed Thai noodle meal that came with rice noodles and a packet of magic seasoning. You boil a pot of water and dump the noodles in, taking them off the heat and letting them soak for about 10 minutes. In the meantime I stir fried some shrimp in a wok and once the noodles were done I added those to the shrimp along with the seasoning mix once it'd been mixed with some water. The box also suggests that you add some bean sprouts, so I did. I also topped mine with a couple of chopped up peanuts. It was very tasty.
It's definitely on the repeat list.

I forgot to mention earlier that Mum had given us her new exercise bike. She'd bought one for the condo, but it hurts her hip so she made Mr. A. bring down her old one from Medford. I'm not an exercise bike kind of gal, but it can't hurt to spend a little time on it while watching hours of t.v., right? I gave it a breaking in on Sunday night since I'd pulled a muscle in my leg earlier in the day. It works because I got sweaty. Or maybe that's because you're sitting on pleather....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Raley's Recipes

Once a month, or so, Raley's has a free magazine featuring some of their products and a couple of bonus recipes. This month there was an ad for Ronzoni pasta (which we buy) that had recipes for four different types of spaghetti. We picked one to make tonight that was spaghetti with corn (bbq'd and cut off the cobb), sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, and chopped basil covered with a roasted red pepper salad dressing. It was light and refreshing.
While out picking basil, I checked on the rest of the garden. Soon, very soon, we'll be ready for a substantial harvest.
We watched 'He's Just Not That Into You' this afternoon. It was cute, funny and embarrassing. Just like my life!