Sunday, April 29, 2012

We are the champions

Today was our award ceremony for last weekend's home brew competition. It was a potluck affair (I made a warm potato salad with beer dressing) in the backyard of one of our member's in the north end of town. To wash down all of our good eats were all of the leftover beers from the competition. Literally hundreds of bottles of beer.
Chris and our neighbor, Doug, taking stock of all the beer samples.
There was also a raffle we could participate in.
We bought tickets and ended up winning a growler (the big empty ale jugs to the left) and a big can of malt. After the raffle and food it was award time! And after striking out in his first two beer categories guess who finally got called for a bronze medal in the cider category?
This guy!! Then we realized that the cider category was after the meads and were quite surprised that Chris hadn't at least placed in the "other meads" category for his metheglin entry (mead with spices) which we already knew scored high at the competition. So during a break before announcing best of show, Chris ran up to the gentleman announcing the medals to find out who won first in the mead category and found out it was him - the guy (John) had accidentally skipped reading it and had moved on to the next category. So then John announced 1st place for "other meads" and Chris got to go up again for his second medal.
That's our club president, David James (l), Chris, and John Abbott (r) who is our resident mead expert and who Chris beat out. Chris placed on 2 of his 4 entries, not bad considering we didn't get anything last year.
Now, if only I could get him to take them off!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Secretary's Day!

Look what I got from the building official for Secretary's Day! An origami crane with a coffee gift card. Niiiiiice.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lunch in the city

Just finished my lunch run to the gluten free store in downtown Sac since I'm here for class again. Now enjoying some iced coffee and yogurt for lunch.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Saying goodbye

Yesterday was Susan & Todd's goodbye party before departing for Papua New Guinea. It was a late afternoon, potluck shindig at the gymnasium at First Baptist. The most important part of the evening was making sure that everyone got their photo taken so that Susan could put together a photo book to take with them to help remind the boys (and themselves) who everybody is.

Now that they're fully funded they're just waiting to get their visas back from the PNG embassy in Washington DC which is pending a fax approval from the PNG government. Then they can purchase their plane tickets ($1500-1700 each!) and head on out for their four-year adventure in the jungle. Susan and I will be sure to see each other one last time before she leaves.

Since the going-away party was a potluck, I got started on a salad as soon as I got home from church yesterday. I decided on a mango quinoa salad.
The salad ingredients were cooked quinoa, red bell pepper, mango, avocado, cilantro, green onions, and a can of drained black beans.
The dressing was a mix of meyer lemon olive oil, raspberry basil vinegar, lime juice and salt and pepper. The olive oil and vinegar could just be plain, but I used my fancy stuff 'cause I'm cool like that.
After sitting in the fridge for about two hours the dressing had permeated everything and produced an absolutely delicious (gluten free) salad. And based on my empty bowl at the end of the event it looked like other people like it too.

Since I was already in the kitchen making a mess with the salad I also made some Thai Chicken Biscuit Cups form one of my favorite online food blogs to take with me so that I would have something substantial to eat. The recipe is basically a (gluten free) bisquick muffin mix baked around a curry chicken cheese filling.
I just made a half recipe of 6 muffins (2 per serving). It was about a TBSP of muffin batter topped with a 1/4 cup of chicken filling, and covered with about another TBSP of batter.
After 5 minutes in the oven I pulled out the tray and added chopped cashews (didn't have any peanuts) and green onions over each of the muffins and then put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
I had intended for the Canadian to have some for dinner while I was gone, but he'd made a big vat of crockpot chili on Saturday that he was still working on so only I've eaten them so far. I doubled the curry in them so that they'd be a little bit spicier and I think that they came out perfect. And they're so easy to pack for lunches - love it. Yay for double success in the kitchen!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bandages off

Had my post-op this morning where the surgeon took off the steri-strips and admired his work. Six weeks and then I test my thyroid hormones. Hopefully all will be good and I'll be back on my merry way.

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Half birthday

Who got some balloons for her half birthday? What a nice way to celebrate 34 1/2! Thanks to my evil twin, Susan.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

A gluten-free Easter

In order to change things up a bit and get rid of the foods that upset my tummy we came up with a new menu for this Easter. We decided on ham, sweet potato casserole, roasted zucchini, and roasted potatoes with some Oreo poke cake for dessert.
No spiral cut ham for us this year, just a small pre-cooked piece of ham.
The sweet potato casserole wasn't really even sweet potatoes, it was mashed butternut squash mixed with almond milk, egg beaters and sugar free maple syrup. This was my favorite part of the meal.
 Instead of green bean casserole we made zucchini crisps where I thinly sliced zucchini, coated them in egg beaters and then rolled them in seasoned, gluten free bread crumbs before roasting them.
And then some good old standard seasoned roasted potatoes.
 So many new tasty favorites!

For dessert I made a twist on my old favorite, Jello poke cake. I saw a version online that used chocolate cake (instead of white) and topped it with Jello Oreo pudding instead of regular gelatin. So I went about turning it into a gluten free version.
Betty Crocker makes it pretty easy to swap out the cake, I used sugar-free white chocolate Jello pudding and mixed in gluten free Oreo-like cookies to make my own Oreo pudding. I kept the cake low-cal by mixing it with just a cup of water and a cup of fat-free Greek yogurt. It makes it denser, like a brownie, but not any less tasty. So, like a poke cake, you bake the cake first and then poke holes along the top of it. Once cooled you make the pudding, mixing in the cookies, and then pour it all over the top of the cake (I only ended up using 1 box of pudding since I only used an 8x8 pan). Finally, I topped it all with crushed cookies and put it in the fridge to set up.
Here's what I learned - adding your own crushed cookies to white pudding turns it a very unappealing shade of gray. Good to know. Secondly, pudding is very thick and doesn't show as well from the side view of a cut slice.
It's good, but no regular poke cake. Don't feel bad for us though, we'll manage to choke it down.

All in all, a very successful day of delicious food!

Happy Easter!

Much to the Canadian's relief the Easter Bunny did not forget him this year.
Awaiting him, when he woke up, was an overflowing basket of candy (and beer). No more threats of having to backhand the Easter Bunny should (s)he forget again.
Before heading off to church this morning I made some deviled eggs, per the boy's request, for snacking on before dinner. Half were traditional, with mustard, mayo, vinegar, and paprika. The other half had sweet relish instead of vinegar, the way I got used to eating them at work as made for years by the office receptionist (Pam). And who's the only person to have eaten some so far today? Yeah, that'd be me. Apparently the boy got distracted by the 20 lbs of candy on his side of the couch as evidenced by the empty candy boxes when I got home from church.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fancy hats

I spent this afternoon having a little girlfriend time. I met my friend Kari at T-Bar for lunch (sorry I took somebody to our special place Wilson) and then we walked to downtown for a little window shopping and girl talk. She was trying to talk me into fancy hats from Tom Foolery for Easter;
It's like a bridesmaid dress, something I'll wear over and over again...or not. I'm not even sure I could get through a standard door frame with that thing on. And yes, it made me say "Pip, pip, cheerio Gov'na".

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brew club

Tonight was our brew club meeting at Sierra Nevada brewery. It's always the first Thursday night of the month which sometimes coincides with my singing practice so I don't get to go every month, but since I'm not singing during April or May (because of the throat surgery) I get to attend at least those two months. Each month there's a beer theme for the national all-club competition. This month was Scottish and Irish Ales. Anyone who'd like to submit one for consideration at the national competition brings their ale to the meeting and we, the members, taste and vote for our club favorite to send. This month we had one Scottish Ale and one Irish Ale to sample. After a close 18-22 vote our neighbor Doug's Scottish Ale was chosen as the club submittal. We like Doug, but both Chris and I preferred the more palatable Irish Ale. Doug doesn't brew anything that won't grow hair on your chest. After official voting business we get down to drinking random beer samples from club members.
This is Chris sniffing a sample that he immediately announced smelled like "feet". Then changed his mind to a more politically correct "straw" like at a fair. There's some winners and a lot of losers. The only time I perked up was at the very end when I heard the words "cherry mead". Yes please! Our group has grown so big that sometimes it take a loooong time for a bottle to make it around the room for a pour, or worse yet, people at the beginning of the line take too much and there isn't any left for those at the end.
We meet on the upper mezzanine of the gift shop area at the west end of the brewery. Thankfully it's big enough to meet our seemingly ever expanding group. It's a lot of younger members joining who are at least bringing beers to sample and not being the freeloaders that I suspect others are. But after 8 or 10 beers everyone starts getting a little loud and unruly and it's hard to hear the brewer of the sample beer talk about it. That's when our neighbor Doug comes in handy. He's a club officer and has a big, booming voice that gets everyone's attention when he tells them to be quiet. You get 'em Doug! We close shop at 8:00 pm, pack up our tables and chairs and head out. A lot of the members then go downstairs to the restaurant for more beer and snacks, but we eat before we go so we just head home. Besides, the gluten free brownies I made last night are a lot better than any sweet treats they've got at the restaurant!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A stripe fetish

Day two of my imposed sick leave left me bored and itching for action. Shopping action that is. So I packed up my coupons and drove across town to my biggest weaknesses - Kohl's and Target. After picking up a little bit of this and a whole lot of that, I got home and surveyed my loot;

Stripes, stripes and more stripes! I didn't even realize that's all I bought until I got home. It helps balance out all of the polka dot clothes I bought last month at the Roseville Galleria.

Since I can't do "strenuous exercise" for at least 2 weeks I've been reduced to taking walks around the block a couple times a day to make the hours pass. I take a 30 minute jaunt in the morning and another one in the afternoon and one last one in the evening with the old man. Other than walking, I spend ridiculous amounts of time watching Food Network and surfing online during the day. I should be doing church reports, but I can think of a bagillion other things I'd rather be doing, like not doing them. I did get the 2012 files finally put together today though, which was a huge accomplishment. Now to box up 2011 and take them back to the church for filing in storage. It almost feels like progress - something I try to avoid at all costs.