Friday, December 30, 2005

A stormy day! And a good time for a cup of tea. And now I can tell you about a new tea I found the other day, Bigelow's "Eggnogg'n" - "An Eggceptional Winter Tea"

I'm enjoying a cup right now. It has a lot of vanilla tones in it with a touch of cinnamon. I have added a teaspoon of honey but the honey flavor is barely noticeable in the complex of flavors.

Unfortunately, it comes in bags so I can't enjoy it in my new Ingenuitea cup.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Teapot from Adagio Teas
I received this for Christmas and I'm thoroughly impressed with it! It works perfectly! Thanks!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Great Pumpkin Bread

…no, not bread made from Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, an ordinary pumpkin will do just fine.

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned* pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium orange, juice and grated peel
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Beat together first 4 ingredients until blended. Stir in the remaining ingredients until dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not overmix.

Divide batter between 4** greased and lightly floured mini-loaf pans (6x3x2-inch), place pans on a cookie sheet and bake in a 325 F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester, inserted in center, comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then remove from pans and continue cooling on a rack.

When cool, brush tops with orange honey and sprinkle with a few chopped toasted walnuts.*** Yields 4 mini-loaves. Or 2 (8x4-1-inch) loaf pans OR 1 (9x5-inch loaf pan. Adjust cooking time and bake at 350 F. until cake tester, (toothpick) inserted in center, comes out clean.

This is very good!

*I used fresh pumpkin and it makes lighter bread than the processed pumpkin.

**The 4 overflowed…I’m going to try it with 5 next time.

***I used finely chopped pecans.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Movie Review time...
We watched "Coach Carter" the other night and here is what Netflix has to say about that...

Coach Carter (2005) PG-13
Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular, controversial coach, a hardliner who firmly believes that scholarship and a sense of ethics go hand in hand with excellence on the basketball court. A man of his convictions, Coach Carter benches his undefeated team of high schoolers when they turn in poor academic grades (much to the chagrin of the players' parents and many of his fellow teachers). Co-stars Ashanti. Thomas Carter directs.

Great movie! Some scenes and the language were irritating, but in the end did not factor into our overall enjoyment of the movie. I have to admit that I wasn't all that keen on seeing the movie...but I was wrong. The story is a no-brainer, but the acting is so well done that you will enjoy it despite the fact that the ending is obvious.

I gave it 5 stars.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wednesday night and...

Before the concert we decided to try a “New to Us” restaurant. And this time it was the Caffe Malvina. A good choice. We arrived at 5:45 and found the restaurant empty. Now for us, that’s a good sign, signaling a quiet evening ahead of us. We were greeted quite warmly by the hostess (family?) and seated at a nice table by the window. The menu holds no surprises, it is Italian! And there are no signs that it might be a trendy sort of place. The menu said “family”.

We made our choices, pastas with squid. But two different entrees…And at 6, a crowd began to fill the restaurant. A piano began to play and soon it was difficult for us to hold a conversation. (It is a small room.) Service was smooth though not polished. Our hostess was constantly in motion, moving from one table to another with greetings and concerns. It was quickly apparent that the dinner crowd was comprised of returning customers. I’m sure that we were the only “strangers” in the room and the hostess went out of her way to make us feel at home in her “home”.  

Good, simple Italian food…give it 4 stars, but come early! (And come to eat on Thursday nights, it will make the owner happy.)

Concert Time

A night at Laxson. A great evening with Joan Baez in concert. We easily found our seats, high above the stage in the balcony section and then noted the grand architecture of the hall. I guessed that it had been built in the 1930’s but it turned out that I was off by a few years as it had been built in the late 20’s. It certainly has that Classical Moorish look and feel to it. It is a small venue so most seats are good ones. The more knowledgeable around us had brought small binoculars to get a better glimpse of those on stage, but we didn’t miss out on anything by not having binoculars for ourselves.

I haven’t heard complaint or praise for the acoustics in the hall, so I had no bias…but I would have to think that they could have been better. Joan’s voice easily rises above mere electronics, but I could hear a brassy overtone every once in awhile. And since the hall has obviously never been remodeled, the acoustics are the same as they were in the 1920’s. Hard surfaces abound in the room, though they may have used acoustical paint on them. (Here's a link to more information than you will ever need about the auditorium)

But, I’m looking forward to seeing more at Laxson. Next year I will spend more time reviewing the season’s offerings and making some early reservations. I will have to seek out some knowledgeable persons to discover the best seating choices. Anyone?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One Pot Sauce...something new from Trader Joe. It's a Mexican style chili sauce; all you do is add the meat and one can of beans. I tried the sauce with the last of the turkey (dark meat) and had it on tortillas, with cheese, tomatoes and avocado as sides. It has some heat, so you won't need any salsa for fire...and it's quite good! It has a sweet aftertaste that I found appealing to my taste.

Another new item is the Carrot Ginger Soup. I will try that in a few days.

All in all, it's great to have the old familiar TJ "stuff" close by. But I'm hoping that the tourists will soon depart and go back to Safeway or Albertsons. They stare at the shelves and block the aisles as they try to make sense of the offerings. I was thinking of just grabbing some good stuff off of the shelf, throwing it in their baskets and sending them on their way..."Here! Now'll like it!"
Teaz Me just got better! I stopped there this morning for a hot chai before heading to Trader Joe’s. As I was putting my change back in my wallet I noticed a good looking scone in the display case and decided to order it. In a few minutes my chai and scone were delivered to my table. The scone, a cranberry-orange one, was served on an oriental style of dish, rectangular with a sloping surface. And on the plate were an orange twist and a small serving of orange marmalade. Very good! The orange marmalade went well with a perfectly baked scone. And the scone was as good as the ones served at Higher Ground.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A little something added...OK, I tried the recipe that my daughter had concocted, (see below) but I changed a few things; only because I didn't have all the ingredients that she used. For instance...I used a couple of large pork loin chops. They are really the size of small roasts, though they have a different taste. I added some fennel seeds (1 tsp) because I like that taste. I used Pappy's Garlic Herb rub and not the barbecue rub. I only had one jar of bruschetta (Trader Joe) but that, plus one small tomato sauce was enough. Then I added half a dozen sliced fresh mushrooms at the very end. And while I was at Holiday market buying the wide egg noodles, I spotted a freshly made jalapeno bread. That made the perfect accompaniment to a great meal!
Got a good one from my oldest...Here it is, verbatim;

"Hey Da, Made a really yummy dinner last night….well I worked on it all day while I was at work…the famous trio of pork roasts from Costco…in my roaster/slow cooker….sprinkled pappys (Pappy's Choice, Dry seasoning) on them (cooked two). Seared them in the pan….then poured two jars of the bruschetta (Trader Joe's) ½ cup red wine, and one can of tomato sauce. Slow cooked all day then added sliced black olives when I got home. Served them over hot buttered wide egg noodles… was a big hit! "

Sounds good and I can already taste the leftovers.

It's Monday.

Another day and another movie…this time it was “Hidalgo” 2004  PG-13

Here’s what Netflix says about it.

“Viggo Mortensen stars as Frank T. Hopkins, reputed to be one of the best riders of the Wild West. His chance to prove his talent comes when an affluent sheik invites him to join one of the most outrageous and grueling races of all: a 3000-mile trek across the Arabian Desert. Previously open only to those who ride Arabian horses, the event allows Hopkins to join with his Mustang, Hidalgo. Can they win?”

What a stinker of a movie! I’m surprised that the director couldn’t find a way to include a scene where the heroine was tied to the railroad tracks with a train fast approaching, ala the “Perils of Pauline”. It was sort of like watching an old Lassie re-run; substitute a horse for Lassie and you have it all. Give this one no stars.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A good sign! I drove by the Teaz Me! location this morning on my way to the park and noted that there was an "Open" sign glowing in the window. On the way home I stopped in to see if they were really open or had mistakenly left the light on overnight. They were open...and so I had a chance to enjoy a black tea latte with vanilla. The new hours make sense; open at 7 AM.

Check out their morning tea...I will be there after each walk at Bidwell.