Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye Christmas, Hello New Year

Another super busy Christmas has come and gone... New Years awaits.
We are closing on our house in a little over a week and I, as I believe I have mentioned my teaching career before, I will be starting my student-teaching this semester...
We can't wait to have a house! A larger kitchen to cook in... my little cook's heart is thumping in my chest thinking of the entertaining possibilities and all. Right now our kitchen is about the size of a large bathroom... and while it's been great for our first year and our lessons in cooking, we are quickly outgrowing it, literally!
The one-step-from-fridge-to-sink-to-dishwasher-to-stove-to-serving-window was truly quaint at first, but the idea of this larger kitchen is just heavenly.
One last season in our little home though. Boxes sit in the hallway, and the spic'n'span freak inside me has definitely seen better days. This season we seemed busier than ever, but I still found time to bake.
I actually found time to try (everyone gasp) baking bread!!!
I know, how could I do it and not let you all know? I didn't take pictures as I was focusing very intently on getting the bread right. I made Stollen, a German-sort of fruitcake... much more bread than fruit, and usually with a filling of marzipan. Mmm, the relatives from Germany usually send one or we get one from Cost Plus World Market, but this year I wanted to make it. So I did. The recipe made three loaves! I didn't put the marzipan in it, and I also used a recipe which didn't include the traditional rum, so it wasn't as authentic as it could/should have been, but it was still good. Daniel took some to work for a potluck and it was a hit, we ate one loaf, which made a good mid-morning snack, and the third loaf was reserved for the family Christmas.
Making it was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I followed the recipe and kneaded it and let is rise as it said, but the second rising didn't do near as much as I thought it would. It still turned out, and now, I'm eager to try some more bread recipes... I've found countless recipes... and I'm reminded of an old blogging friend who does her own sourdough... maybe I'll even get brave enough to try that!

And of course I did cookies. I love cookies. I want to own a cookie shop where I can decorate cookies all day and charge ungodly amounts of money for my artistry. Okay, I'm not that good, but I just love doing them... a background in cake decorating helps... and I just love the finished product all piled up on a plate. It's like the cover of one of those magazines you see at the checkout stand during the holidays... Like... people really DO that!?!? And I love seeing people smile when they eat one (imagine the decapitation of a gingerbread man).
I've told you of Ethels Sugar Cookies from BC's famous Cooky Book... so of course I made those. I use a thicker, powdered-sugar based frosting for those, in layers so I can do details.
We didn't have have cookie cutters, so I used my paring knife again... I mostly only made one or two of each shape! Below are the best of the batch.

I also made Lofthouse cookies... those soft chewy ones you get in the bakery of most grocery stores, covered with fluffly frosting and almost like little cakes. Originally, I had down a cook named Mimi Hiller as the author of the recipe... but she no longer lists the cookies on her site... here's my page with a half-sized-recipe if you want them :)
I used a cup to cut out nice circles for those, along with the powdered sugar frosting to provide a deep blue background for piped-on cake-frosting snowflakes. Still no piping bag so I used the ziplock bag method I've mentioned before... it works just fine when all you need are lines and dots!

I'm going to try making bread again. We'll be super busy for a while getting started with the New year, but I'll be sure to let you know how it goes with pictures and all. Happy New Year everyone!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Off the Vine

In our last entry, we told you about San Pedro Brewing Company, and right after eating there we took a walk over to Off The Vine which was another establishment we learned about from www.cruisecritic.com (which, by the way, is really great site to learn everything about cruises, including what to do in the cruise ports!) It was a short walk away, and they were having a wine tasting that night of Australian wines.

Neither Corinne or I were very familiar with wines from down under, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to enlighten ourselves. We walked inside and we were the only customers so we got to talking to the owners Mike and Alison. They were great company and we talked and tasted Australian wines for close to two hours.

Some friends of ours joined us shortly and, declining the wine tasting, Mike found some beers for them to sample. The place filled up as the night went on and it was a fantastic evening of good wines and new friends! We ended up leaving with two bottles of Heartland wines. One was Heartland Stickleback Red and a bottle of Heartland Viognier Pinot Gris. Both were very reasonably priced (under $20 each) and we figured they would be perfect to bring on the ship with us the next day to have with dinner or in our cabin.

If you have the chance to visit San Pedro, be sure to stop by Off the Vine, we know Mike and Allison will take good care of you.

Off the Vine
S. Pacific Ave Suite 103
San Pedro, CA 90731
(Located across from the
Warner Grand Theatre,
entrance off 6th street)

(310) 831-1551
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

San Pedro Brewing Co.

Just prior to the cruise that Corinne and I took last month, we spent the night in San Pedro. Of course being in a new town we had to try out the local restaurants. We decided on San Pedro Brewing Company because of good recommendations on cruisecritic.com. The brewing company is a small bar/grill in the heart of San Pedro with no more than 25 tables.

The décor was mostly historical San Pedro, with old pictures and portraits of important figures in the cities history. We took a table in the corner and ordered a couple of microbrews. Corinne enjoyed a Harbor Hefeweissen while I had a Point Ferman Pale Ale and later a Long Shoreman Lager.

Corinne desribed the Hefe as having fruity flavors of citrus and banana with a bittersweet finish and very bubbly. The Pale Ale was full flavored, lots of hops with a sweet finish while the Lager was a little bit smokey, medium bodied (but they called it their lightest beer) and with hints of vanilla flavor.

Our waiter brought us samples of each of the microbrews though the only one I remember was the Chocolate Porter, I can’t describe that one but I remember I liked it! They all had great flavor but none compared to my favorite Warsteiner. We ordered the Fire Grilled Marinated Tri-Tip sandwich and it was just out of this world. The menu described it as Tri-Tip on grilled sourdough with caramelized onions, jack cheese, roasted chilies and Santa Fe sauce. Sounded good, but that didn’t come close to describing how good it really was! It was without a doubt the best sandwich I have ever eaten!
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