Dinner with Linda at Keegan’s, Uptown Farmers Market, Pita Bistro, Happy hour at Manuels, at home Margarita party, Jack’s magic beans, Butterfly Wonderland

1 Jun

I was at yoga today (Madison Improvement Club) where my fabulous teacher Katie told us towards the end of class that one of the things she likes to do is write. She doesn’t do as much of it as she’d like… but it’s something that brings her joy. And that reminded me that I haven’t blogged in awhile and it brings me joy.

One of the other things I like to do is read. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Jack picked me up some books recently so I read Hillary Clinton’s Living History, which I really enjoyed. I didn’t realize she had such an impressive background (before and after Bill) and all of the things she’s done to help our country and help other countries (especially concerning women’s rights and healthcare). The other book I’m reading now is Barbara Walter’s Audition. Her childhood and young adulthood were very interesting, having grown up surrounded by famous patrons and showgirls (her father ran variety clubs) and her early years in television and radio she was a pioneer being a woman in a mainly man’s profession.

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One book I finished recently Still Alice is about a tenured Harvard professor who develops early Alzheimers. This particularly interested me since my mom had to deal with the disease when she was taking care of her mother in her later years. It was not an easy time for my mom, or my parents in general. I figure there’s a lot for me to learn and I’d better get preparing. Just in case.

Okay…I forgot momentarily this is not a book review blog. It is a food blog. I digressed…

The lovely Linda treated us to dinner recently at Keegan’s.

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A hanger steak for Jack, chicken madeira for Linda and beef stroganoff for me. It was delicious and fabulous company, as usual. Thank you again Miss Kelliker! :)

Last week my friend Rueben gifted us with some red peppers and cherry tomatoes from his organic garden (thank you my friend!) and they were so fresh and sweet.

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I ate some of the tomatoes on the way home from work and gave the rest to Jack so he could make peppers and onions for our brat sandwiches that evening.

Jack made some magic beans this week. He soaked pintos overnight and cooked them with magic fairy dust (that’s what I say when I don’t know what he put in them) but I can tell you they were spicy and we had them with jasmine rice, grilled zucchini and steak.

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Mercy. It was good.

The zucchini came from the Uptown Farmers Market we had visited the weekend before.

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We really broke the bank and brought home some nice stuff…including: spaghetti sauce, flour sack towels with cute designs (day of the dead), Noble Bread, a caramel apple and we spied some pretty pottery that we didn’t buy.

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This vendor had a pot Jack liked a lot but it wasn’t big enough for soup. She produced another pot that was larger but it didn’t have a lid. You can see how pretty the glazes were on her pottery. So, we’ll probably go back. If not, Santa will order something for Jack from her down the line.

And the best thing we saw at the farmers market…

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baby goats! So cute.

Something else we did that was fun recently was visiting the Butterfly Wonderland, where Jack was quite popular.

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There were butterflies of all varieties and colors.

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Also, there was an impressive 3D documentary about the monarch butterfly that migrates to and from Mexico each year. It was a really super afternoon.

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Pita Bistro is a fairly new lunch spot (and happy hour spot thanks to its liquor license) near work that is great because it’s one of the few healthy options around. I usually get a falafel wrap and a green tea.

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You can build your own wrap or get it “their way.” Either way if you choose salad, wrap or other option with chicken, beef or falafel, you’re going to leave full and it won’t hurt your budget too much.

And hummus is *free* at happy hour.

Speaking of happy hour (like my segue?) We were at Manuel’s earlier this week for happy hour.

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They have delicious taquitos with chicken or beef  that come with guacamole…and for just $1 more they will make your draft beer a michelada.

We like spicy food. It’s a good thing, since Jack’s jalapeño peppers are growing nicely. Lookie lookie.

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There’s a homemade spicy guacamole and pico de gallo in our near future.

There was a margarita party this weekend. At our place. The menu included…chicharron

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and carne asada tacos

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and goodies courtesy of Los Pinos Carniceria, which we are crazy about due to their close proximity, reasonable prices, abundance of Mexican candy and soda, pollo asado, prepared meats, fresh tortillas, panadería, etc etc.

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Chef Jack also happens to be a fabulous bartender

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and just in case you wanted to know…the margaritas worked ;)

I want to end on a healthy note. Because I started this post off with healthy (yoga) and I can’t end with alcohol…so here’s our latest (potential) healthy find. Our neighbor gifted Jack with a practically new Ninja blender this morning. So there are some smoothies in our near future.

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Frozen berries and yogurt and ice and…if anyone has recipes for smoothies, please let the kitchen wench know. Otherwise we’ll be regulated to using it for frozen drinks.

Lol

Laughlin, BBQ Company, Scott’s Generations, Barrio Queen, Taco Guild, Acacia Cafe, Fez, Camelview 5 and Cookin’ on Wood

3 May

We finally made it to Laughlin a couple of weeks back. I had the wrong impression about the place, and I’m not sure why. But, needless to say, we had a great time. We stayed at Harrah’s and it was very clean (and cheap! only $60/night) and included a 2 for 1 buffet. Harrah’s has a beachfront and those little umbrellas made out of thatch so you don’t get all burnt up.

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They also have drinks available poolside, that they will let you take out onto the beach (at least that’s what we did) and there’s also a fabulous restaurant courtesy of Guy Fieri called El Burro Borracho. We were so excited when we learned this that we had to put it on our list of places to try.

And so glad we did. Lookie lookie:

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It’s a pork chimichanga that was very moist, with rice and beans, and a large cabbage salad. We shared everything since the portions are enormous. Also the drinks were delicious. I had a sangria and Jack chose a beer (I don’t remember which kind). We didn’t get to see the founder but we were told when the restaurant opened the staff had been through a 1 1/2 month training period and Guy had visited to make sure there was quality control.

The night before we had visited the same restaurant for fried ice cream and margaritas. Potent frozen margaritas, which we like. The fried ice cream is very fun, they spray it with some type of alcohol and set it on fire before you eat it. Very theatrical!  A late snack for us since earlier we had our two for one buffet at the casino, which included all of the favorites like steaks, lots of veggie choices, fried shrimp, an italian station, salad bar and all kinds of desserts. I was barely able to finish my coconut chocolate chip bar because dinner was so delicious (and plentiful).

We never got to the adult tower, but we were curious ;)

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One thing that’s fun (and free) to do in Laughlin is visit the Car Museum at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort.

Jack really liked the Delorean while I was showing my love for the Honda scooter.

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I was with some of my workmates at Barbeque Company about a month ago. It’s rare that we all go together, because some of us have different work schedules or eating preferences. But this was a different day. Look at all these happy people.

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Sorry no food pictures, people. But typically we all get something different. They have a great bbq pork sandwich or a loaded baked potato, or bbq chicken, pizza on Thursdays and regular sandwiches like a blt. Their veggies that you can get as a side are a medley of zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and onions. It’s a substantial side of vegetables and I wanted to mention that here since I’m not sure we usually equate bbq with something that can also be healthy.

It’s true that Jack and I really like to eat. So recently we rediscovered Scott’s Generations (or I did since it was his first time a few weeks back). I had been there previously with my brothers and had kind of forgotten about the place. Their bagels are still amazing. Last weekend we were there with my Mom and my bro Mike for sandwiches. Mike had a number one sub with italian meats, and my Mom chose pastrami (her favorite). I stick with a classic, hard salami on a bagel, while Jack ordered a hot dog with sauerkraut.

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Their fries are the whole potato with skin on and are really crunchy and tasty.

Dad and I grabbed lunch last weekend at Barrio Queen. I had never tried their fish tacos and that sounded good to him too so we shared a plate of 4 (three only on the plate since he started eating before I could take a picture). The fish tacos are very fresh and come with a salsa verde that has a nice kick.

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Also we imbibed a couple of Queens Fire margaritas that are made with jalapeño infused tequila and a rim of chili salt.

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Not a bad thing at all.

Taco Guild has become one of Jack’s and my favorite places. We joke that we don’t have to go to church on the weekends we go there since it is housed in a former Methodist church.

Last weekend we were there for tacos and salad.

Jack is fond of their lamb tacos. Look how pretty they arrive.

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They make an enormous grilled romaine salad that you can choose the protein (chicken, steak or shrimp). I always choose chicken. It is nicely grilled and charred and the salad dressing is a cilantro lime creamy thing that you just want more of.

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I really like it. As you can see, there’s a lot of bacon that gives flavor too.

They also have a “taco of the day” that is about half price of the regular tacos so between 2-7pm it’s a good place to visit especially if you are on a budget and have a sense of adventure. Also there are local craft beers which for me are very important, like Four Peaks 8th Street Pale Ale. Local first!

Acacia Cafe is one of mine and Dad’s go to breakfast spots. It helps that they are within walking distance for me and just a couple of blocks away from Dad. Last week we were there and I inhaled half of a waffle with butter and baked apples.

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It’s better than apple pie. Trust me.

They also have wonderful dine in or to go lunch options like chicken salad sandwich and “bistro salad” with chicken, avocado, strawberries, red grapefruit and spinach with a poppyseed dressing. I’m just crazy about this place with their fresh food and reasonable prices. My Dad actually told the owner he should raise his prices. ;)

Jack and I were at Fez last week with Linda, her bro and her sis-in-law for an early dinner. Very nice people. They had already ordered by the time we arrived and Jack wasn’t really hungry so I was munching on this plate of arroz con pollo all by myself. It has a lot of flavor and the chicken and vegetables are all great quality in a yummy sauce.

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And I finished the leftovers the next day.

This is where I mention that Fez is now at Portland and First Avenue. Their new location is, well…fabulous!

Did I mention our microwave is broken? This puts a damper on our leftover reheating, but resourceful Jack has been able to reheat our leftovers in the toaster oven. I’m so lucky.

Dad and I were at Harkins Camelview 5 last week after our lunch at Barrio Queen.

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Did you know that the Camelview is closing? The Harkins folks are creating a multiplex movie theatre at Scottsdale Fashion Mall, so soon my little independent movie theatre that shows foreign films will be no more. I’m sad to lose it. Meh.

Linda discovered Cookin’ on Wood recently and we have been there for lunch a couple of times. It’s a homecooked meal for about $5.00. A real steal. She likes the tri tip meal…

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and I’m more of a chicken meal kind of girl.

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Also this week the boss brought in lunch for us from these same folks and everyone really enjoyed it.

So give ’em a try.

Noble Eatery, Halo Halo, Frances, Mariscos Sinaloa, Tropical Snowflake, Urban Cookies, Barrio Urbano

2 Apr

Today I was given permission from my boss to play hookey. It’s called PTO and boy, I needed it!

Jack and I started our day at Harkins Camelview 5, where we saw Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes), a series of stories that are pretty, well…wild.

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Produced by none other than Pedro Almodóvar himself, so I knew it would be great. And it was very very funny. Funny goes a long way with me.

After the movie we took in some lunch at Noble Eatery. I have been wanting to get over there for some time now and today was the day, finally. Jack chowed on a tuna sandwich while I chose avocado toast with a blood orange flavor in the background… and started with cauliflower served cold with olive oil and vinegar, pepitas and raisins.

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Everything was very fresh and delicious. They bake their own bread so of course we had to take home a loaf. One stop shopping. Eat now and take home for later.

Halo Halo is another place we had meant to go to before now. One of our friends had recommended it some time back and it turned out we were on the west side of town last weekend, so a trip seemed inevitable. We took home some chicken curry, pork skewer, some other kind of pork dish with vinegar and lumpia (not pictured).

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Their lumpia are super tiny and very crunchy. Those were gone really fast. They also make tea/smoothies with boba and I had to have mine. Milk tea with boba.

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It was frothy and nice for a hot day, not too sweet.

Frances is one of those places I mean to visit more often. Because they are local and have such cute stuff. They used to be at the Union Shops at the Biltmore Fashion Park where they carried Remix shoes, but then they closed due to all the mall restrictions and quite frankly understanding what it is to be self employed, I don’t blame them. Restrictions can cut off your air, as it were. Don’t get me started on that…anyways, Frances has a fabulous facebook page, you should friend them. They have very cute jewelry, accessories, hello tshirts, kitchen textiles and clothes…the list is endless. Emphasis on cute, though.

And here’s my shirt that I got today.

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So cute! I love fruit.

My boss introduced some of us to Mariscos Sinaloa a couple of weeks back. We were having phone troubles and he decided we should all do some team building for lunch. And I couldn’t wait to try the place. So a few of us went from work and tried different things: carne asada tacos, fried shrimp, shrimp cocktail and burritos. They do serve cubetas (buckets of beer) and micheladas (beer with clamato) but these were working hours so all we could do was ogle the cubetas at the other tables.

So recently a few of us at work were heading to Pita Bistro (think food like Pita Jungle) but they are so crowded now because their food is so healthy and good, so we needed a backup place and we landed at Mariscos Sinaloa. Look at my fabulous lunch.

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And my peeps. We had a really good time. Bruce, my workmate, is really funny. He says ridiculous stuff really fast you don’t really have time to say “did you just say that?”

Tropical Snowflake is going to be my new best friend again this summer as it is warming up. Earlier this week I popped in for a chamoyada.

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My favorite snack.

Urban Cookies has happy hour on Sundays from 1-4 and Mondays (I don’t remember the times on Mondays because I can’t get there that day) and all cookies and cupcakes are half price. That means these cupcakes below are $1.50 instead of $3.00.

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Yes!

We brought 3 cupcakes home (chocolate on chocolate and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting) and a couple of chocolate chip cookies and made a cupcake friend. Lance, Jack’s friend came over for dinner and helped Jack with some computer issues and hooked up our HBO GO. Yes! For that we rewarded him with homemade turkey pot pie. And riesling (and a cupcake).

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It is the second pot pie we have ever made and was so good! The crust (courtesy of moi) came from a challenge butter recipe 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter and 4 tablespoons of cold water. Jack made the gravy with a roux of flour and butter and threw in some fresh rosemary and a lot of veggies. It was a work of beauty.

I was excited to try Barrio Urbano as soon as I found out they opened since I was already a fan of Barrio Cafe and her former restaurant Barrio Queen (now owned by different folks). At Barrio Cafe she makes a chunky guacamole with pomegranate seeds that is duplicated at Barrio Urbano. And their pozole! Just take a look. We took my Mom for her birthday and all of us had something different. The ensalada maya with chicken and a citrus dressing was just perfect for me. Mom had pozole and Mike went for french toast, while Jack chose menudo.

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It was a big hit especially with me and Mike. We had been to Barrio Urbano before, when Mike enjoyed an Arizona burrito with lots of chicken and smothered in a tasty cheese sauce and I was keen to try the pozole so that’s what I ordered. (They serve breakfast until 2:00..things like steak and eggs, huevos revueltos, chilaquiles, etc. take note those of you who may have imbibed the day before.) Afterwards we played ping pong at the Yard. Mike’s on his game!

This is a picture taken previously by me while he played with my uncle. You can tell he’s good.

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A.T. Oasis, Brunch at Postino, Valentine’s day dinner at China Village, Julia Baker Chocolates

14 Mar

Valentine’s Day came and went very quickly. Jack gave me a pretty bouquet of colorful mums and carnations that smelled very nice and lasted a couple of weeks (we’re a couple that appreciates value!) and about a week before we were at Julia Baker Chocolates at Biltmore Fashion Park and he bought me a 6 piece box.

It’s a very decadent thing.

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Her chocolates are very rich and you only need to eat one at a time (well maybe two) to get the full effect. I like one or two with earl grey tea. There were light chocolate truffles with caramel, and dark chocolate truffles with hazelnuts. And some other flavors. They’re a blur now which means I need to go back for another box.

Julia Baker trained in Paris and she’s a local. Your chocolates are made in Scottsdale, a good thing.

The other thing that’s great about her place is that you can sit down in a fancy chair with a mirrored table and eat your chocolates. Yes, this is no joke. Or you can eat cake and have a port, an espresso or a latte. And she has melted european chocolate so if you are crafty (like moi) you can bring in your own croissant from AJ’s Fine Foods for dipping. There’s also champagne. It’s a lovely place to hang out on a Friday afternoon with your girlfriend (or solo, if she’s stood you up). I’ve taken my Dad there and Rob when he was visiting from South Carolina, and we all agree that Julia should sell us some stock in her place. We want little name tags on our individual tables.

For Valentine’s I did some shopping for my coworkers at A.T. Oasis, one of my favorite places to buy coffee. Look at the goodies I got there.

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Included in my great bounty was organic kiwi and strawberry tea for my friend Dana (she had recently gifted me a tin of matcha so we are now tea buds) and truffles for Linda. There were also some turkish delights (like gummy bears covered in powdered sugar except they are square) and chocolate truffles.

Let’s just say I was very popular at work on Valentine’s Day. I like to take care of my people. And support local business. A.T. Oasis is my go to place to get beans. They are organic ethiopian beans and you can also buy iced coffee there, along with ful, sandwiches and pastries. You won’t leave hungry, or uncaffinated, for that matter.

On Valentine’s Day eve we found ourselves hungry and tired (hangry almost) and Jack had been doing something physical in my mom’s toolshed…we were going to cook something (that means Jack was going to cook something) but when we got in the car to head back to our place we stumbled onto China Village and just decided to eat there instead. The asparagus could wait.

China Village is not impressive to look at. It is clean but the inside feels like the 60’s and 70’s. And that doesn’t bother me at all. One of my favorite Chinese restaurants, China Doll was kind of the same thing and their food was always good. So when I walked in, I wasn’t phased at all. Come to think of it, Autumn Court isn’t the most impressive interior either but their food is really good. Enough said.

We enjoyed drinks before dinner, a mai tai for me (potent) and a long island iced tea for Jack. That’s one of his favorite mixed drinks. Then we ordered potstickers which were generous, 8 to a portion, so there wasn’t an “embarrassing potsticker” to fight over. Delicious potstickers by the way. Pork, ginger and garlic flavors, the way we like ’em. Our server was kind enough to bring us hot oil and white vinegar to put on top of them as we like to do, Hong Kong style. Or at least I think that’s Hong Kong style because at Mekong Palace they have hot oil and vinegar on the table for dumplings at dim sum. We love that place.

I digress. Our entrees were Happy Family (kind of a seafood/veg medley) and house chow fun with the wide rice noodle. The chow fun is one of my favorite dishes at chinese restaurants and I’m happy to report that China Village does a very nice chow fun. Lookie lookie.  I love the bean sprout, brown sauce and noodle combination. It’s very homey food.

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When Jack makes his version of Thai beef noodle soup he always has leftover rice noodles and makes me a big place of chow fun. It’s the best I’ve ever tried but I will stand by the chow fun at China Village as my backup. Also the chow fun at Mekong Palace and Autumn Court. Can you tell we really like our chinese food?

Recently the Postino folks were kind enough to email me that they liked my yelp review (I’ll never tell which one it was) and they sent me a buy one get one brunch coupon. And Jack hadn’t been there for brunch before, so it seemed like a good idea. I really like their french toast, so I had that, along with a mimosa and a french press. The coffee was a little too strong for Jack so they brought him a cup of drip that the spoon didn’t stand up in and that suited him just fine. He went with the egg and toast breakfast option pictured below.20150208_092350

It came with bacon and breakfast potatoes which he likes a lot. It was the perfect breakfast because the weather was beautiful that day, we were on the patio and I remember asking one of the servers if Walt Richardson was coming in that day to perform. And he said yes. And with my mimosa buzz and caffeine high I thought to myself what a wonderful world we live in where we can get a mimosa, a french press and see Walt Richardson all in the same place.

Remembering a friend

14 Feb

When a friend leaves his life too early, it makes you reflect on certain things. Sometimes I have a knee jerk reaction especially when it comes to self preservation. So in terms of Jason I could have done things differently. I could have been a better friend.

Jason entered my life through my brother in grade school, when I felt people younger than me were more of an irritation than anything else. So at that time I didn’t notice him. It wasn’t until after his car accident that I got to know him better and how funny, smart and classy he was. Emphasis on funny.

I think part of the reason he was so funny is that because if he didn’t laugh he would cry. He was in a lot of pain.

He liked to read. Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories were a couple of his favorites. And he liked Kurt Vonnegut.

I remember that when became friends he told me that I had an inferior education because I went to public school and he had it better because he had gone to Brophy. Well, maybe…I think it’s true he was exposed to things in school that I wasn’t, or maybe I just wasn’t interested or motivated in school.

He told me about his relationship with his grandfather (his Mom’s Dad) who used to have a house on a lake somewhere in Pennsylvania. His grandfather had a forge and he when he talked about him he said he was a renaissance man. He could do many things. He was a bookkeeper and might have been a friend of cosa nostra. I’m not sure if that was true or if Jason was just embellishing his past to impress me.

One of his favorite movies was The Big Lebowski. We used to watch it together and laugh. Not just laugh but we had big belly laughs. Like we fell off the bed we laughed so hard. There are only a few people in my lifetime so far I have laughed that way with.

We would eat teriyaki chicken bowls from Tokyo Express and watch The Sopranos together. This was when I was quite broke, not working and Jason had cable (specifically HBO). We enjoyed Bill Maher and I was always glad to be with someone who could laugh at religion and politics the same way I felt.

In a previous life we might have been married. But he really needed a girl with bigger boobs (his admission). I remember he told me once that if I got a boob job he would have married me. This made me laugh really hard.

I remember we went to The Herb Box in North Scottsdale (this is when he lived in that neck of the woods). We sat outside and ate our jerk pork sandwiches, drank tropical iced tea and felt fabulous among the good looking fabulous people.

Jason was actually fabulous looking. He was a great dresser and towards the end he enjoyed body ink. Over a couple of months, we would go to the Crawling Squid on Bethany Home Road, maybe once weekly and he would start shopping for a new tattoo. He had a question mark on one shoulder and an exclamation point on the other.

I wished that we could have taken a trip together. Especially when he was in better shape, because when he was feeling better he would have been fun to travel with. He appreciated good food, architecture and culture. He told me about a trip he took with my brother and his Mom to San Francisco and it was very opulent, they stayed somewhere very nice, I don’t remember the name of the place but the way he described the trip, I just knew it would have been a blast to have been there with them. I think he also said he and his family went once to Ireland, he has some roots there. I can imagine a photo of him there as a tweener in a fishermans sweater, with his blonde hair blowing in the wind, standing on a hilly bluff. With a goofy smile.

RIP my friend :)

 

Supporting my honey bunny, and recent eats at Chompies, Fry Bread House, Uptown Farmers Market, and Linda’s starting at First Fridays next month

24 Jan

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My sweetie has been through some serious stuff lately. He’s looking for work.

It’s been a complicated past week. When your loved one goes through the life changing stuff, well…you just want to do everything you can to support him.

But, even with all the recent hubub, we still have to eat. So lately, we’ve been to Chompies

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We love their pastrami sandwich.

Also I made a solo trip to The Fry Bread House. Red Chili beef. I should have ordered beans on this, but I forgot.

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No matter. It was delicious. Only when I have a savory frybread do I partake of the guilty pleasure of fountain Coke. Word on the street is that they are moving in April to 7th Avenue and Hazelwood. They purchased the building.

Last Saturday (or was it the Saturday before? this month is a blur) I was at the Uptown farmers market on Central Ave/Bethany Home (North Phoenix Baptist Church parking lot)

Lookie lookie.

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Local honey… and pickles!

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Jack is a huge fan of bread and butter pickles.

So I didn’t break the bank, about $23 all together.Could have spent a lot more on local produce and pottery. And more honey.

We had a Puerto Rican feast recently. Most of you know that Jack spent 3 years there before he came to the US. So yes, he learned Spanish and then English. I am always amazed at his journey to get here.

We started with fried plantains.

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And then moved onto a  picnic roasted pork.

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He also made rice in which a liberal amount of Spanish chorizo and Spam were used. And local olives from Queen Creek Olive Mill.

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Yes… life is rough when your boyfriend is a cheffie!

On New Years Eve we opened a bottle of wine we got in Napa in 2012 when we were there visiting Jack’s brother and sister.

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It is (was) a reisling from a winery called Trefethen. Anyways, if you can find a bottle, buy six. It is delicious. Fruity and effervescent.

I came across this picture of Jack from about 1 year ago when he was living in Tempe and he brought over a Fiat for me to test drive.

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His enthusiasm is contagious. And he does these random acts of kindness not just for me, for for his friends. It’s a fabulous thing.

We had a great happy hour last night at Arriba.

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Just know that the margaritas are 99 cents and I think appetizers are half price. We had mini beef and chicken chimichangas, guacamole and green chile with tortillas, rice and beans. And we spent about $20.

My friend Linda Kelliker displayed some of her paintings at Second Fridays in Mesa this month.

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Yup, that’s the one that generated the most interest. Anyways, now you can see her at First Fridays in Phoenix also, starting in February. This is very exciting news!

In celebration of Linda’s birthday this month (*sweet 16*) we had a potluck at work. I made my famous kahlua fudge cupcakes.

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When I try to bring something else, the natives get restless. So I go with what works.

I’m feeling sentimental today, so here’s the heart shaped schnitzel Jack made for me last Valentine’s Day.

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Not sure how he plans to top that this year!

Having the right tech support, Da Vang reprise, CityScape Phoenix, Phoenix Festival of the Arts, DeFalco’s Deli, LGK Creations, Christmas eve/Christmas day dinner and drinks at Royal Palms

5 Jan

Last year I had to get a new PC because my old one was acting up. And I had software issues…it was a bit of a to-do. However my brother Mike made it much less of a to-do than it might have been since he’s a whiz at tech support. And just last week after being fed up with my mouse I asked him to look at it and he said, “you need a new mouse, sis.”

Eureka, right?

It is good for me to have another person tell me what I need sometimes, because I don’t always realize things are broken or beyond repair. Anyways, he got me a new and improved mouse and also a keyboard since my last one only had a “tiny” back space. And now my machine feels like a new machine. Thanks bro! And he also builds websites. Reasonable rates.

If you need a hook up, let me know.

So it seems lately that we’ve been eating more Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese food than usual. Jack really likes Da Vang, we were there about a month ago and I had duck soup with ramen noodles and Jack gets his regular beef noodle soup (pho) with wide rice noodles.

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The broth of this soup is really ducky but not gamey. You should really try it. And Jack and I are both “bone” people so I was really glad to see little bonies that I can munch the meat off of.

Here is Jack’s soup. I think his soup has chunks of beef, tripe and tendon. He is a little more adventurous than me when it comes to “parts.”

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We especially like soup on a night when we’re feeling just okay or need a little pick me up.

The tamale festival was a couple of weeks ago in downtown Phoenix. We weren’t able to get close to the tamale vendors but the fry bread line was much shorter. So that was okay with us. Jack likes his with honey and powdered sugar and I like mine more savory, with beans or meat. Sorry no pictures, folks. But it was so tasty.

Also downtown this time of year there is an ice rink at City Scape. http://www.cityscapephoenix.com/ There is a bowling alley, some nice restaurants, a cvs (for the late nite muchers out there), clothing shops and a stand up comedy place. We don’t hang out downtown much, since being “arcadia lites” there is so much around us already…but when we do go downtown we try to do a few different things. So the day of the tamale festival we stopped by City Scape to see the ice rink and decorations. It was really pretty.

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And my subject material was very good, too. ;)

We also stopped at the Phoenix Festival of the Arts that day and Jack really liked the VW beetle that was made from sheet metal. Way cool!

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This was a really great event, young artists were painting murals that were for sale for $300.  A real steal, I thought. A lot of talented artistic young people are here in Phoenix. http://phoenixfestivalofthearts.org/

There were food trucks, local bands and a nice grassy open area to picnic.

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Jack made a wonderful soup a couple of weeks back with a chicken broth base, pasta shaped like a cone with ruffled edges, all kinds of veggies and meatballs made from chicken sausage and beef.

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It was so delicious. He usually makes enough so there is plenty for us to take to work the next day, and some to share.

In the lunch room last week at work one of my workmates was saying how great the food at DeFalco’s Deli is. I had to agree. It was just a week or so ago Jack and I ducked in there for a to go order and the place was really bustling. He was a little pressed for time so I just dropped him off at work and I came home to eat my sandwich. Lookie lookie.

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Their sausage sandwich is so good. And we get the marinated artichoke salad so this way we can say we ate our vegetables. Jack likes their salami sandwich. They also have plates of pasta available, great pizza and wine by the glass.

No, sadly I do not own any of their stock.

Recently Jack made a Thai beef salad for us. It came from a roast that he seared to about medium and then sliced it and added scallions, mint, cilantro, fish sauce, lime juice and rice powder.

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We ate it with cabbage. It was amazing.

One of Jack’s favorite ways to make this salad is with ground chicken. Sometimes he will take a chicken breast and use his cleavers on it until it resembles ground chicken. Then he just poaches the ground chicken and then adds the same ingredients to make a Thai chicken salad.

You should see him butcher a turkey. We have a whole turkey in our freezer now, in little ziplock bags. Brilliant!

I digress. I get excited about food. And I’m always impressed with Jack’s mad cleaver skills. It’s kind of sexy.

The boss gave us a little bubbly for Christmas so Linda came over on Christmas eve along with my bro, his friend Cindy and my mum. We made mimosas (thanks boss!) and drank a toast to world peace.

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Linda is so lovely. You know sometimes I get mushy when I talk about my family and friends.

Have you seen her website lately?  (done by my brother)

Yes I am pimping out her mad painting skills.

http://www.lgkcreations.com/

She can do a mural for you, too. For your kiddos room, your outside space, etc. Multitalented she is.

So here’s the ham Jack lovingly made for us on Christmas eve.

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It was all carmelized with whole cloves, and you will not believe how good the leftovers were. Amazing! We ate ham for a couple of days, put the bone in the freezer and divvied up the rest. That’s the way to make a ham friend.

And our sides were really tasty. We made a fruit salad with pineapple, kiwi, oranges and blackberries. Also a killer potato salad with dijon mustard and Jack’s famous beans with salt pork.

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Yup, he has convinced me that salt pork makes almost everything better.

Here is a selfie of most of us on the couch.

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We’re using the new selfie wand that Linda gave us. I might have been the one pressing the button, that’s why my head is so big?

And gifts! Yes we must have behaved last year since Santa came through, big time.

Jack gifted me with a beautiful white jewelry box.

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It feels excessive and sumptuous. I love it.

And my company gifted us with a smoker.

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Jack loves it. Smoked brisket, anyone?

The next day we were in the kitchen cooking for our Christmas day feast at my sister Fran’s.

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You could say our decorations were minimalist this year, Jack picked up a poinsettia plant and I appropriated some shiny balls from Rob Adams’ gift last year (thank you Rob for your shiny balls).

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Also I always put out the foghorn leghorn Christmas card he gave to me a few years back. It always makes me smile.

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And Lea gifted me with a “Santa pants” wine holder that holds two bottles.

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A real find. Thank you Lea!

So, back to being in the kitchen. I digressed again…made kahlua fudge cupcakes for our fabulous potluck dinner on Christmas day at Fran’s.

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They were so rich and frosted with Abuelita mexican chocolate. Kahlua went in the frosting too.

Chocolate on chocolate is always a crowd pleaser. This has also become my go to recipe for potlucks at work this past year.

This is where I mention again our wonderful dinner at Fran’s on Christmas eve. Her place was decorated so festively, there were ornaments hanging from underneath her staircase, and a pretty live tree decorated simply. She made some toasts with cheese and marmalade, dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped with bacon, a veggie tray and a fruit salad. The whole thing just exuded class. I’m hoping she can give me some pointers.

And there were gifts!

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I think Santa was too generous this year. My sis gifted me with some pretty yoga pants from Lulemon and some anti glare glasses for the computer (needed those!) and Jack received a margarita set (much appreciated) and lavender lotion/soap set. And Dad gave us a cute mug set with two different kinds of cocoa and vanilla.

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We have been using the mugs a lot. We drink tea all the time and lately Jack has a hankering for cocoa with those little marshmallows.

Dad and I went to see a movie last week at Harkins Camelview 5 (my favorite theatre) and after we decided to grab a drink at the bar at Royal Palms Resort. http://www.royalpalmshotel.com/ It is one of the only places we can find that makes a hot buttered rum (one of Dad’s favorites). He also enjoyed an egg nog and I tried something with bourbon and cranberries. Because it’s that time of year.

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Cheers!

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