Friday, December 27, 2019

Fasting Friday - No more treats

No more sweets, no more alcoholic beverage, no more high carb meals, and no more going out for meals.  Until when, one might ask.  Oh, I don't know, maybe until the end of the year. Oops, that only four more days.  Well, I am going to try anyway starting today.  I have been noticing that I can't seem to finish most of the food I put on my plate.  So I have been trying to only dish out small portion so I don't waste any food.  Of course if I get hungry I can find something to snack on, but lately I am finding that I don't need too.  For today's post, I would just like to share some of the holiday things that we receive or made and tried.

Gift from my neighbor's mom.

Candy cane jello shots served during our caroling.

Gift from the Smith's

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Teaching Tuesday - Baked Samosas

When one of our neighbors ask me if I can teach her how to make samosas, I was surprised. The reason, she was originally from India.  So one would assume that she would know how and that she should be doing the teaching.  She asked me for the recipe so she could get the ingredients and then she ask if she could come over one day.  Last Sunday, she and her husband came over to our home.  The good part about it is that she made the filling at home using the recipe I had sent her.  It's not a secret because I just searched it from Pinterest.  She brought at least 3 boxes of phyllo pastry as she didn't know how much it will require.  We started laying out the pastry and then cutting them to the right side and brushing with butter for each sheet.  I showed her how to fold it so it becomes a triangle and that the fold is under when baking.  After I showed her, her husband wanted to learn how to do it as well, and once he got the hang of it, we continued the process as we became a team.  We baked one batch and the rest they took it home to freeze and will bake when needed.  They were very appreciative of the lesson and I was very impressed with the results.  She was very impressed with the ones I brought to her home about a month ago at their event.  Unfortunately, the samosas were gone by the time she wanted to try it but her friends were giving me a lot of compliments.  I am so happy to share what I have learned from Pinterest.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sweetest Saturday - It's all about presentation

During the holidays most of you are probably doing a lot of baking.  Some will do it a month or two before and freeze them.  Unfortunately my freezer is not big enough so I can only do a couple of containers and will have to consume or give away.  Once the container is empty, then I will start baking again.  To date, I have a couple filled with squares and cookies.  But it didn't stop me from making some other ones.  For example, I made this butter pecan crack cake with toasted almond on top.  Next I made a bread pudding because I had left over bread that Jeff baked and I wanted to make use of it before it goes bad.  Half of the pudding was delivered to the By-law office last Tuesday.  On Thursday night, I took a plate of assorted cookies and bars to the RCMP Detachment since I was working my volunteer shift.  Of course, you now that when it is snowing, I tend to stay indoor and just bake.  I wanted to bake my artisan bread for one of our neighbor who made my charcuterie board.  He loves artisan bread and I wanted him to try my version of cranberry and walnut bread.  So this weekend, here's my presentation of my variety of breads, cakes and cookies.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Towels Tuesday - Only 54 days before Superbowl

While watching TV today, I notice that there's only 54 days before Superbowl LIV.  That's when I realized that I have not made my special NE Patriots kitchen towel.  I thought it would be nice to have them when I host the superbowl party in February.  But there's a rule.  I only have a party if my all time favorite team "Patriots" will be in it.  There's a few more games to complete before the playoff but they are 10-3.  It will be nice to have the rest of their games a WIN.  Anyway, I am all prepared for that party, just in case. It snowed the last couple of days so I decided to stay in my sewing room and do something productive. I made some additional towels for gift giving which included the one for my daughter that I forgot to take a photo. So here's the towel collection for this week.

Friday, December 6, 2019

French Mac Friday - Back to Macarons

It has been a while since I made macarons.  I believe the last time I made them was last year. Not sure why I didn't make them again this year.  Oh ya, I remember, it's sweet and I shouldn't be eating them.  But it doesn't mean I can't serve it for dessert or give it as gift.  So I decided to try them again as I need some more practice.  This time I made their size smaller.  They are cute but I need more practice in piping.  I found some tips online and it's like a trouble shooting guide.  Now I can try again keeping in mind all the information that I read.  For example, I need the consistency really looking silky and flowing like a lava.  If I am coloring it, I will need more to actually change the color of the macarons.  And the last one is all about that baking.  Right temperature and correct timing is the key.  With all those in mind, the next batch should be perfect.  I hope so.  Anyway, here's what I did this week.

As you can see, some are perfectly piped.

This batch all have that little point which is not correct.

Aren't they so cute. You can just pop the whole thing. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Winery Wednesday - More wine to bottle

We finally got the call from the wine place and we are ready to go there and bottle another 30 bottles of wine.  The owner mentioned it the last time we got our first batch that there might be a few couples interested in doing a variety of wine.  If we were interested, we would get a variety of red and white.  This was a great opportunity to build our stock so we agreed. Luckily my son in law was the designer of our label.  He was quick and making changes and we got it early enough to send it to the wine place (Vernon Vintners).  We have been saving some bottles and a few of our friends donated their empty wine bottles.  I was in charge of washing them, removing the labels and Jeff would remove the old foil and use paint thinner to remove some glue residue.  I organized all the bottles in the box so we know exactly what to use for each type of the wine.  When we were ready to work, I got to pick whatever foil I wanted to use for our batch.  Luckily, there were so much variety that I could match each of the foil to the label.  If you look closely at the label, the color of the outline matches the foil.  Our stock is complete and hopefully the first and second batch of wines will be good for at least three years.  If you are lucky enough to get a chance to visit the Cranberry Portage B&B, you can do some wine tasting without going to a real winery.  OK maybe not the same. 

White Trio - This refined Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat blend exudes pretty floral
aromas with hints of tropical fruit and lychee. Flavours on the palate include juicy
pineapple, mango, peach and lychee.

Italy Viognier - opens with a dramatic and intense floral bouquet enhanced by aromas of
apricots and peach. Lush peach and honeysuckle on the palate balances a crisp acidity.

Australia Cabernet Sauvignon - This complex, full-bodied wine has an appealing aroma of
plump blackberries, sweet vanilla, and fresh violets, white cherries, pepper spice and
rich tannins grace the palate.

Chilean Malbec - a brilliant bouquet of dark fruits with subtle hints of oak,vanilla and spices.
Strong plum and berry flavours balanced by moderate tannins on the palate.

Red Trio - A modern, new world style wine featuring a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
and Zinfandel.  Aromas of vanilla, red berries and black cherries and sweet
flavours of ripe raspberry, chocolate and cherry.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Snowy Sunday - Stayed indoor being productive

First day of December, although it was not the first snow, I considered it was.  Sometime in November we had a little bit of snow but in a couple of hours it was gone.  So technically I count today as our first day of snow because there was quite a bit.  By the looks of it, this one will be staying.  After breakfast, I decided I was not going anywhere.  It was time to bake and cook.  But before that, I tried to finish up with all the Christmas decorations that was mine to do.  I am sure you feel the same way, when it is cold outside, you think of SOUP.  I asked my hubby to save the bone of the ham from thanksgiving.  Using is for my broth and then I added vegetables and alphabet noodles. It's like a minestrone aka vegetable and ham soup. LOL.  Now it was time for baking.  First I check what I have in the pantry as well as the fridge.  Then I look for recipes that I can follow as a guide.  Sometimes I have replace an ingredient or two, but still sticking to the rest of the instructions.  It was a very successful day even though I did not get a chance to go outside.  Well, maybe just for a few minutes to change my garden flag and add a few decorations for outdoors.   I manage to bake the oatmeal pecan lace cookies, cranberrry whole wheat muffins with chocolate glaze, hawaiian pineapple coconut bread and of course my soup.  Check out the photo of our neighborhood with all that snow. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanking Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving

Today we are hosting our second USA Thanksgiving Dinner with friends from our neighborhood.  Last year when we hosted it, we received such a great response and so we decided to have it again.  Since most of the guests are the originals of the neighborhood group, we will also have a short annual meeting to discuss the events for 2020.  We will also take volunteers to take on the task for a particular event.  For the dinner tonight, my husband will be cooking both turkey and ham.  In addition to that he will be making mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing.  The rest of the sides and desserts will be brought by the guests.  In our neighborhood get together it is always a BYOB rule.  The following are the sides that will accompany our thanksgiving dinner.
  • Dinner rolls and butter
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli salad
  • Roast brussels sprouts
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Green salad
  • Peaches and cream corn 
  • Pecan pie and pecan tart
  • Apple pie
We are very thankful to our neighbors who embraced us in their group and made is feel so welcome.  Although some of them have move out of the neighborhood, they still are part of our group and we never lose touch.  Since our families are all in the USA, this thanksgiving the neighborhood is our family.  You are probably wondering what my contribution is for tonight.  I couldn't just let the guest bring the dessert, that's why I made my oatmeal pecan lace cookies.  And then at the last minute made a puff pastry appetizers.  It was a success thanksgiving dinner with all of the above going so well with each other.  Of course the combination of the people in attendance was amazing.  We also manage to have our annual meeting. We think this will be totally a yearly event for our group.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Magically Monday - Deconstructing a dress

Lately I have been watching a few episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee.  Sometimes even if they are older episode I would still watch it as long as it's one that I have not seen.  The part I like is the second challenge because it is when the contestant really shows their creative side and their speed to put together a piece of clothing from the two materials that is thrown at them.  For example, the last one I saw was when the gave them an umbrella (outdoor) and a lounge chair (outdoor) which is a bit thicker material and both stripes.  Everyone of them created something magical using both fabrics from the two items.  Last week my neighbor came to me for some help with a dress that she wanted to wear to a Christmas party.  They were asked to wear something from the roaring 1920's also known as flapper dress and headband.  The dress she brought has never been worn and I was hesitant to practice on deconstructing it.  Luckily I have an older long black dress that was too big for me and I was just going to donate.  She was happy that I agreed to take on the challenge of deconstructing this dress to give her more room.  I also need to design and make her an head band in the same theme.  I measured her and told her to go home and I'll have her dress and headgear ready in a couple of days.  The first day, I remove the stitches on the sides of the dress, then I cut off 8 inches from the bottom of the dress.  I used that material to place on each side of the dress to make some room for her hips.  Then I added some white ruffled material for the sleeves as she prefers to cover her arms.  She came over to try the dress and it was a perfect fit. Yeah.  Next day I worked on the head band using fabric, sequence, lace, feather and ribbons.  In addition to this, I offered to curl her hair on the day of the party.  Once it's all put together, she will be going back in time and feel like the Great Gatsby.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Score Saturday - Vernon Vipers

Most cities in each province in Canada usually have a hockey team.  Some belong to the OHL, WHL, CHL, etc. In Vernon, the team is called Vernon Vipers.  Their home area is at the new Kal Tire Place which just opened in September 17, 2018.  Shortly after, we started thinking about getting some tickets and watch some local hockey games.  It has been over a year and we still have not been to one.  Until last week when someone offered free tickets to watch the Vernon Vipers.  It was a nice treat and we decided to take advantage of this great opportunity to support the local team.  The Vipers will be playing against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.  We don't really know anything about the standing of each time.  But we know that some of their games are more exciting as they tend to have higher scoring games.  This is just from watching the local evening sports reports.  It's an evening out and hopefully it will be a great game.  Of course, since it will be in the area, I am planning to dress warm and bring a blanket, just in case.  Since it is a free ticket, the seats are a bit on the higher part of the arena.  Hopefully not to high or we won't be staying long.  The other important part of this event is that it is honoring the First Responders of our city.  Luckily the Vipers won during a shoot out.  

I was the lucky winner for this gift certificate for being in the lucky seat for that night.

This was the lucky ticket.  They were giving a price after the Vipers scored the first goal.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Flavorful Friday - TGIF for working friends

Sometimes we like to invite a couple or two couples to share dinner with us.  I have been trying to invite one couple but it seems like they were out of town on the days that I pick.  Last week we finally got a chance to get the two couples together and since both of the couples are still working, I thought that it would be good to give them a break from cooking on a Friday specially after working. I gave them a few choices of the type of food they would like to try.  Both couples agreed that they would like some Asian cuisine.  So I started checking online to see what would be a good combination.  Of course I wanted to make something that I sort of know the recipe and how it is actually cooked.  For our starter, I made a chicken lettuce wrap.  Then it was the Singapore Noodles with shrimp, Rich man's fried rice with lobster, Chinese BBQ Pork and Black pepper chicken.  They we so appreciative of the fact that there was plenty of food to have seconds and even some to take home.  For dessert, I made a Purple Yam pound cake, mango flan, buko pandan salad and Jeff's chocolate chip cookies.  It was a great evening sharing old stories and life experience.
Everyone was so thankful that we all live in a great neighborhood. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Trail Tuesday - The Rail Trail Cafe

When my golf buddy called and asked if I wanted to go for coffee, I thought about it and then agreed after he mentioned that we will be checking a different quaint spot.  When we got there, I recalled that I had been there but only to check out what they were selling.  What I didn't realized was that they had a small seating area for coffee, treats and even soup and sandwiches.  We ordered our coffee at the counter and my buddy had the cinnamon roll and I had their ham and egg croissant.  Everything was delicious and it was a great mid morning place to sit in and actually have a conversation.  The owner/employees were friendly and attentive.  Anyway, I decided to take a photo of my breakfast and some of the other treats available.  Their prices were reasonable and the service was great.  Anyway, if you are ever in the area, please checkout this quaint place located on Kalamalka Lake Road, Coldstream, BC.  It is called the Rail Trail Cafe. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Snowy Sunday - I don't like snow

"I don't like snow" that was my daughter's message on Monday when the Greater Toronto Area received quite a bit of snow.  It was cold and the roads were slippery.  I understand what she was talking about as I used to live there for over 20 years.  It was even more snow when I temporarily relocated in Ottawa.  I did not learn from the first time, I did it again a couple of years later.  When you think of where we relocated the first time in Canada, one would think that we wouldn't mind the snow.  But I guess after residing in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory, one might get tired of the cold winters.  The difference is that Ontario has the four seasons and it is beautiful specially in the fall.  Leaves changing their colors is amazing and spectacular.  After having a chance to live in California, it's truly difficult to return to a city where snow is available sometimes from November to March.  But sometimes in life, you really have to weigh everything.  Sometimes you have to give up more than what is important because even if it's only a couple of things that the other city can provide, it is something that is life changing.  If you think of how others have to put up with flooding, tornado, hurricane, typhoon, etc., having a few months of snow is actually not so bad. So far we had one day of snow but it did not stay.  Hopefully we will have a shorter and milder winter.  Are you willing to give up everything you have currently and move somewhere without a winter but has all of the other issues?  Here are some winter wonderland photos.