Category Archives: food

Salsa time!

Ryan has gotten into making salsa recently.  He’s pretty good at it, too!  Last night he made a great cilantro-lime salsa to enter into the 2008 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival.  Here’s a look at the salsa in progress in the food processor:

He has perfected this recipe after several weeks.  It’s a tasty, classic, fresh salsa that won’t last long because it doesn’t have any preservatives.  On the other hand, it doesn’t last long anyway… because it’s oh, so good.

The sad part is that we had to give away a whole pint of the stuff when Ryan entered it into the contest this morning.  We’ll have to make some more soon!!


Sushi and Bats

Ryan and I did a couple of new things that we hadn’t done before on Thursday.  We went to a place called Sushi Caliente in Cedar Park to try out the Japanese-Mexican fusion (yes, you read that right) menu.  It was kind of a long drive out there, and it wasn’t very busy when we went in.  It’s an interesting idea… there is everything from traditional sushi and sashimi, to teriyaki, to fish tacos, to enchiladas… and then there is the stuff in between.

Like this:

That’s what was left of our Mariachi Roll when we decided to take a picture.  It contains crab, avocado, onions, a little Monterrey jack cheese melted on top, serrano pepper inside and out, and topped with what they call “Caliente sauce.”  It was an interesting roll… a little spicy, but not too much.

We also tried someting called the Leander Roll (left) and the Latin Lover Roll (right):

The Leander roll contains eel, masago (flying fish roe) and cucumber with avocado on the outside (I would rather have had a plain unagi roll with avocado and the sweet sauce).  The Latin Lover roll was a little sweet and had crab, masago, and “flamingo sauce” – a little sweet – on the inside.

There was a nice touch in that they served miso soup and a little cup of edamame with roll orders, but I don’t know if we’ll be back here.  The sushi was just okay, and it’s not really worth driving that far to get it.

After dinner, we decided to drive downtown and check out the bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge.  I had never been to see the bats, so it was fun to do the little touristy thing.

We parked in the Statesman “bat parking” area and hung out under the bridge for a while, where I got this cool picture of all the bat watchers on the bridge (click to expand):

We stayed down near the bottom of the bridge until the bats started coming out, even through seeing Leslie in a cheerleading outfit with black pompoms, even through the little kids wailing for paletas from the vendor that was down there, even through the sprinkler systems coming on and sending people scurrying in all directions!

After a while, Ryan thought we should go above and check out the view from the top of the bridge, and it was really cool… we got a great view of them feeding in the tops of the trees.  Head over to my tumblr blog to check out a short video!

We headed back to the car after watching for a few minutes and drove back home.  We had a great night of trying new things!

On the grown-up train

It feels like I have boarded the train into adulthood, and that I will arrive sometime in 2008. I am beginning to see some of the sights that I have heard about, like buying a house, creating and sticking to a budget, thinking about children, doing something about my health, taking charge in my job…

All of these signs definitely point to being a grown-up. When I think about where I was a year ago, two years ago, five years ago… I have grown up a lot. It has been ten years – this year, anyway – since I graduated from high school. I have a lot to be proud of in those ten years, as well as some mistakes and missteps that I have learned from.

But now that I am becoming a real grown-up, I am also learning to take pleasure in the small, delightful things. The sound of the computer humming, the TV turned off, time to myself, time with my family. As I take notice of the small delights in life, though, the small distractions and annoyances seem to come into sharper focus, such as paying bills, dealing with irritations at work, or the inconvenience of a rainy day.

This weekend, Ryan and I spent a lot of time at home. Friday night we stayed home, made dinner, and played Mario Party on our GameCube while drinking some wine. Saturday I had a project to work on, but then we went out to lunch and invited my parents over for homemade pizza. Sunday was a long day at church, followed by lunch at Carino’s and a slice of cheesecake (shared with Ryan) that was so, so good. We went to Waterloo Park in Denison in the afternoon, where we ran around with the dogs in the cold and wind. And tonight we went over to my parents’ house for homemade pot roast, which was perfect on this rainy, cold evening. It was uneventful, for the most part, but such a nice weekend. It was good to spend it with people I love, doing things I enjoy (mostly) and ending the weekend feeling accomplished and relaxed.

Tonight Ryan went to bed early, because he wasn’t feeling too well, and after I tucked him in I took some “me time” to read some blogs and put together a slide show of our New Year’s celebration with Mike and Janette. It was cool to relive that night, because I know that I had such a lot of fun, and it started the year off in a way that was grown-up, relaxed, fun, silly, and full of laughter and comfort. It was an evening that we lived the way that I want to live the rest of my life.

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Happy New Year!

The holidays are over! I’m actually pretty relieved to be free of the temptation of food and laziness. Now, hopefully, I can concentrate on working hard on my weight loss and getting to a healthy weight.

New Year’s Eve - Mike, Ryan, Janette & me

We did have a great holiday season, with a visit to San Antonio the weekend before Christmas, spending Christmas Day with my parents at our house, and a year-end visit from Mike. Janette, Ryan, Mike and I went out for New Year’s Eve (pictured) and had a great time. We went to Downtown McKinney and had dinner at Cafe Malaga, a tapas bar we discovered this fall. We followed dinner with a visit to one of our favorite wineries, Landon Winery, and had lots of wine and great conversation. We came home before midnight to ring in 2008 at home, with champagne and chocolate fondue.

Yesterday was kind of a letdown after all the fun we had. We woke up late and piled into the car to take Mike back to DFW. We did stop at Pei Wei for lunch on the way, and then drove on to DFW. We dropped Mike off at the curb, which seemed pretty anticlimactic. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening cleaning the house, taking down the Christmas tree and all of the decorations, and eating leftovers for dinner. We did treat ourselves to some Chocolate Finale port from Landon in the evening to give ourselves a little pick-me-up after the drag of a day we’d had.

Today is a little better… I’m back at work, getting some stuff done, and realigning my healthy mindset. No more cookies and candy to contend with, no more trips, no more visits, no more speedbumps. On the other hand, it also kind of feels like there’s nothing to look forward to. I guess we’ll have to create our own excitement instead of letting the calendar do it for us.

“the meal has to be perfect”

This Wal-mart commercial pisses me off. It’s the one about a family getting together for Thanksgiving, and how it’s one of the few times they can get everyone together. And then the woman voicing the spot says, “The meal HAS to be perfect.”

No, no it doesn’t.

I love to cook, especially at Thanksgiving, especially for my family. But I have no illusions that everything will be perfect! In fact, one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories was the first Thanksgiving after college. Ryan and I were living in Joplin in our first apartment, and we had met Janette about 5 months earlier. She came over to share the holiday with us.

Well, I made some completely terrible dressing. I decided to go homemade and it was a big, big mistake! It was dry, flavorless, and just disgusting in general. Ryan proclaimed that it was awful. It didn’t hurt my feelings because it was TRUE.

Poor Janette was trying so hard to be polite that she ate her whole helping. To this day, we ask her “why? Why did you eat that awful dressing??”

The meal wasn’t perfect… but it gave us a great Thanksgiving memory. And that is worth more to me!

local gossip… if you count dallas

Well… the NHL’s most eligible bachelor is engaged. That’s right, ladies… Mike Modano proposed to Dancing With the Stars contestant Willa Ford. (Or check out this page, which has a video of Willa talking about the engagement and showing off the ring to Access Hollywood.)

What I want to know is… why didn’t Mikey show up in the crowd when she was competing? And if he was there, how come the ABC-heads didn’t show him? Isn’t he at least as cute as some of the people they flew in there?

Oh yeah, and here’s one more question… is this the first time a story has been on both and

Okay, in closer-to-home gossip… well, there really isn’t much gossip. Ryan’s mom and Cowboy stopped by last night while they were in the neighborhood to chat for a couple of minutes. I made an interesting thrown-together pasta dish that consisted of capers, sauteed onions, bacon, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and lots of olive oil tossed together with angel hair pasta, covered in shredded cheese, and served alongside a pile of peas. It wasn’t bad, really. We went to Saucer, where I had a Sprite (to stave off the queasies) and Ryan propped his total up to 195. He got an interesting beer called Satan Red, which was the featured beer for “glass night”… so he got the cute little Belgian ale snifter-type glass to go with it. It’s funny, it’s just a small glass that says “satan” on it in menacing red letters.

Ummmm… today’s gossip… we’re going to Wassailfest in New Braunfels today, which we haven’t done since we’ve lived here. So now we’ve done two ‘fests in New Braunfels… the first being the sausagefest known as Wurstfest. 😉 I’m looking forward to it, because it’s going to be a chilly night, and it will be fun to go try a bunch of wassail and stroll through downtown. Hopefully we’ll remember the camera and we can snap some memories.

mind blown

Things have been crazy at work with all the year-end stuff… I’ve been staring at Excel for the better part of the day, inputting and tweaking formulas and correcting borders and shading and unshading cells…

The high point of the day so far has been Janette and Ryan coming up to the site to have lunch with me in the cafeteria. We all ate and chatted, and then I gave Janette the fly-by tour, which basically consisted of my route back to my desk from the cafeteria. I pointed out the San Antonio skyline, barely visible from the catwalk that connects the top floor of the (2-story) buildings, and was going to introduce them to my boss but he was on the phone.

I walked them downstairs, and Ryan had the dogs in the car (it’s a cool day). He brought them some water from the cafeteria and I said hello and got a mid-day puppy fix, which was really nice. I hugged everybody and went back to my desk. The afternoon’s seemed really long since I went to lunch about an hour earlier than usual, but it was worth it to spend it with people I like. 🙂

Yesterday was our six-month anniversary, so Janette and I whipped up a tasty dinner… salmon filets with mustard-dill sauce baked in parchment, roasted rosemary red potatoes, and fresh green beans with thyme butter. I read enough out of my Joy of Cooking to approximate times/temperatures based on the cooking methods I planned to use, and everything turned out wonderfully. The salmon was soooo good… and ridiculously easy. I basically tossed the rinsed-and-patted-dry filet on a sheet of parchment, skin side down. Then I smeared about a tablespoon (maybe a scant tablespoon) of spicy deli mustard on top of the fish (I didn’t have dijon, but that would probably have been quite good, or honey mustard even). I had about a half-stick of butter which I cut into three pieces, and cut each piece into four chunks, and each piece of fish got four chunks of butter set on top of the mustard. Then I shook some dill all over the top and wrapped it up. I’m not enough of a chef to wrap a parchment packet without it needing to be secured, so I gave it a little toothpick for good measure.

Oh man, when we took it out, we could see the melted butter/salmon juice/mustard mixture filling the packets about halfway up. It was kind of a Scandinavian dill sauce without the Protestant work ethic. We tossed the potatoes with some grated Comte cheese and slathered the butter all over the green beans. Yummmmmm. Janette got a bottle of champagne to have with dinner, so it was a delightful evening.

We went to Saucer last night, of course, but it was a late trip… first we went to Brindles for dessert, where I had my usual Grand Marnier in Chocolate/Stracchiatelle gelato pair, Ryan had Pumpkin Pie and Real Vanilla, and Janette had Hazelnut. All very, very good. I’ll miss that place! After we finished up our treats, we headed two doors down for some more treats at Flying Saucer. Manager Brenden, our personal beer guide, talked to us a LOT, because it was even more dead than usual for a Sunday night. We ended up staying until about 1am, after Meagan met us… she’s done with her exams for now so she’s back among the living. Yay!

Was hard to wake up and get going this morning, because Barker woke us up around 5-something making pukey noises, and then I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, so I decided not to tempt fate and just get out of bed. It was mighty chilly this morning… 30 degrees when I left. I don’t think it’s gotten above 60 here today.

Plans for tonight… low-key. Wine and cheese. Janette bought a round of Brie last weekend so we’re going to bake it (somehow). I wouldn’t be opposed to munching on some of that Comte, which was nutty and earthy. Not particularly Janette’s style… I thought it tasted like a Parmesan that had been around the block (in a good way).

Looking forward to being done with today. Late Sunday nights make for a long week.