Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

Christmas is all about food, family, gifts, snow, glitter, music, evergreens, holly, cinnamon, apples, bells, bows and boxes.  We get so caught up in all of that, making sure that all the gifts are ready to go by the eve of Christmas day, when the whole world shuts down, and rips into the work of the shopping season.  On the big day, we eat, drink, travel, hug, and sometimes try to find a store open to find the half and half that we need to go in the sweet potatoes, since we used it all in our coffee that morning.
I like to stay in my pajamas for as long as I can, woobied up with a cup of something warm and wonderful, and a pile of wrapping paper crumpled around me from all the flotsam of the tearing open of boxes and bags full of goodies. 
A ginormous cinnamon bun with real butter for breakfast and now I feel ready for a nap:)
Soon, it will be time to start cooking.  Or watching the various cooks do their enormous task of putting together a gargantuan feast.  We each have a contribution to the kitchen.  Turkey, ham, gravy, taters of two kinds, a half a dozen various vegetable casseroles, pies, cakes, salads,  fresh breads, the list goes on.  Lots of butter and sugar.  My contribution to the meal is the deviled eggs.  It's my job.  Well, and my chickens.  Other than the eating part.
I'll go on a diet after New Years - I mean - why not just enjoy it all NOW?

But we all know that the real reason for the season is Jesus.  The celebration of His birth, on earth, to Mary and Joseph, in a stable, in Bethlehem.  Last night our church had our first candlelight service in our beautiful church building.  Actually, it is a big barn:)  Pastor Dave read the scripture of the story and in between, our band Branded by Grace, played songs like Mary did you Know, There's a new Kid in Town,  Born in a Barn, and Away in a Manger.  It was magical and beautiful.  I felt honored to be a part of it.
The story grounds me.  Calms me. Centers me. Makes me feel like I'm in this world to reflect the light. That whatever I forgot to do for Christmas Day doesn't matter as long as I remember the story.  The real story of why we celebrate Christmas.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wink or you'll miss it

So, that's supposed to be "blink".
But "Wink" is the name of the restaurant that Brad said was his favorite. 
We'll plan another trip, stay at a groovy hotel and make dinner the highlight of our trip.
and spending time with friends.
Which is always the best part.

I wanted to share a little about the dinner Brad prepared for us when we were in Austin.
He's a big foodie - a lot of my friends are these days it seems.
Anyway - even though it was HIS birthday, and he was beginning a huge project with his firm,
I asked him to cook for us.  I know, I'm ROTTEN!  But the man needed a little R & R,
and cooking is just the thing for a foodie to relax a little.  Especially when he's got appreciative
EATERS on hand.  And I am that, if nothing else, a really good eater.

We gave him carte blanche.  I suppose that put a french spin on things, because he came up with a menu that included Coq au vin.  The dish that the french usually prepared when they had an old rooster on hand that was acting unruly.  Instead, he used some nice chicken thighs he found at the famous Austin Central Market that very afternoon.  He paired it with a bunch of brussels sprouts, and a fabulous salad made with this spinach from Poteet Texas of all places.  It was divine.

The chicken was tender and savory.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked  - sort of like a chicken stew.  He chose a white wine to flavor the pot, which added  a nice and fresh, very clean lightness to an otherwise heavy winter dish.  I loved it.  I had two thighs, hopefully a right one, and a left one - to stay balanced.

I have to say, the Brussels sprouts were my favorite.  Larry likes them, so I cook them occasionally, but these were cut in half and allowed to caramelize in the pan on the flat side before they were turned, and then a bit of balsalmic reduction added to flavor.  I could eat a ton of them, and in fact, did, finish off the healthy portion he prepared for us.  No leftovers there.  Sorry Barb:)

The salad was another thing of beauty and culinary delight.  Evidently, this Poteet spinach has quite a reputation.  It is sweet and tender, triple washed, fresh with goodness and nutty flavor.  Barb had this great salad dressing with blue cheese made by Martinique brand that added a pungent savory-ness to the greens.  I can't for the life of me remember what else was in that salad, but I had two helpings.  I'm telling you, I'm an eater:)  Normally I don't eat bottled dressing, but this stuff was great, and has good ingredients - well, except for the soy oil, which I understand is not great for the thyroid, but all the other stuff was good stuff - and NO SUGAR, which is pretty remarkable.   I found some today to put in my pantry.  I'm thrilled to have found it in Weatherford!

Great wine, great friends, great food, great fellowship, lots of laughter, stories well told, and best of all, the gift of time, given without hesitation. 
Is the stuff that makes memories shared.
Thanks Brad,
for cooking for us for your birthday. 

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Food in Austin

Spent a few days in Austin and wanted to make the most of the calories spent there.  Three of us took a few days after all the shows were finished with for a food and friends extravaganza.   It was Brads birthday, so we asked what his favorite restaraunt was.  I can't remember the name of the place he said without hesitation - more on that one later, cuz we're planning another trip.  We started searching online for a restaraunt we used to haunt in the old days in Austin.  Miraculously, it was still in business.  I mean, food comes and goes in Austin, and the fact that this one has been an institution in a trendy city is a testament to its goodness.

Kyoto.  You take your shoes off when you enter.  Sit on the floor.  Beautiful ladies in Kimonos serve you fabulous food.  I couldn't wait.

But it was sunday, and I suppose we all have to have a day to rest.  This was theirs.  So, we started over, searching.  And found this gem called Uchiko.  It has a higher end restaurant in town called Uchi, but we are on a budget, so we chose this and made a reservation.  It was an experience.  Let me tell you.  I wish I had written down the food we were all able to taste and sample a bit of.  Beautiful food - fresh sushi mostly - a few cooked dishes - incredible from the fresh fish to the fresh vegetables to the beautiful presentations.  All served by a most delightful waitress, each time telling us passionately and patiently what we were eating, and how wonderful she thought it all was too.  I love it when a wait person is passionate about the food they are serving.  It is absolutely one of the things I search for when I am looking for a food experience.  I wish her good fortune in her future, but I also hope that every time I visit, I find her in exactly the same spot, at the same table, with the same sushi chef (which by the way, is a woman).  I loved every minute of it.

The next day started out wonderful  - we had breakfast from Barbs own kitchen - a savory and yummy  dish of fresh eggs and sausage,  orange juice, about three pots of coffee with half and half, and a catch up get to know ya better visit in her very comfy  living room.   A GREAT morning relaxing with friends.

We decided we wanted to spend a few hours on Congress Ave shopping, so about noon, we headed out.   Christy was looking for some neato cowgirl boots.  Kim isn't ever really looking for anything, but we have SO much fun dressing her that she can't help buying something along the way.  And me, well, I can almost always find something.  I'm not just a good eater, I'm also a good hunter, and an even better finder. 

After a few hours, we were famished again and fell into a really cool looking lunch spot called Snack Time.  It has so much potential.  I mean, the place is really groovy inside and out.  Our waitress was sweet and if not passionate about the food, she was smiling and available.  We ordered some items that sounded really interesting, like veggie straws, and roasted beet salad with goat cheese, and sweet potato soup, and hummus, and something I can't pronounce with leeks and cabbage and aoili.  The soup was so thick you could cut it -tasted like it came out of a can and more like a pumpkin than a sweet potato (we're foodies here, so we know).  The veggie straws were from a bag - I mean, a little bowl of colored chip things that tasted like those Munchos you used to get when you were on the road. I don't do that anymore FYI.  The hummus tasted like it was soured - we sent that one back.  And the beet salad was straight from a can - not roasted beets - they were vinegared.  The only redeeming part was the thing I can't pronounce or remember what it was - the leek and cabbage thing - it was delicious, and no doubt freshly prepared, presented well, and I wanted to order another one.  But I didn't push my luck - we paid our overpriced bill and went on our way, already thinking about the next meal........

More on that one in the next blog.  Brad cooked, so stay tuned.......

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!