Category Archives: Food

Cracking Coconut

If only I had known how easy it could be (hint: it doesn’t require waiting for Dadoo to get out a wedge and hammer):

This actually works!

I felt a but silly tapping the coconut with a hammer, but it’s true–there is an equator of sorts that is vulnerable, and eventually cracks. On our coconut, it went through the poles instead of around the middle.

I’d never heard of the oven trick, either.

This was definitely worth the watch.


Epiphany Gifts

Our Epiphany celebration this year was somewhat muted, when contrasted with my ambitions. I pictured a ceremonious procession of the three wise men figurines over to the Nativity scene on the fireplace mantel, followed by three small gifts for each child, wrapped in gold and silver paper.
The afternoon would be spent creating King Cake, inside of which would be hidden a special prize. We would make this part of our leisurely evening meal, and talk about the story of the first Epiphany.

The day did not turn out as I anticipated, but it was a great day, nonetheless.

We attended morning Mass as a family, and the Mass intention was for my uncle, who is still in the hospital recovering from a stroke that occurred the week prior to Christmas. After Mass, we went to a small Vietnamese restaurant for a Pho brunch. This was at about 10:30am, and we were the only people in the building, aside from the woman who served us, who I believe was also the owner.

Dadoo finally went to work around midday, and the children played while I caught up on laundry and post-weekend house cleaning.

Around mid-afternoon, some gorgeous knit gifts arrived for the children, homemade by my mother. Everything fits perfectly, and the kids were so excited.

Little Miss has barely taken off her watermelon hat and mittens–the hat is only removed to change clothing or take a bath, and the mittens are on her hands as long as she’s not eating.
Tiern has pronounced that his sweater is his super-suit for the persona, Superman-Phobia.
“It’s red, so it matches my cape.”
Dood-Locka is trying to lose his duck feet, but Little Miss has been determined to find them and replace them on his feet as many times as necessary.

No other gifts were given, and none were necessary.

Although Dadoo did not arrive at work until 1pm, he still put in a full eight hours. So we ate a very late, very brief dinner (without king cake). We made our steak-fried-rice taste celebratory with some champagne over pomegranate seeds, and then leftover New Year’s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake for dessert.

At some point during the meal, I looked up and noticed that the three kings and their dromedary (as Tiern correctly calls the camel) had made it to the stable.
“When did you guys move the three kings?” I asked.
“Oh, a few days ago,” Dadoo answered. “Tiern was getting a little impatient.”
And that was the extent of our Epiphany discussion.

So there it was.

An early arrival. A holy prayer. Three surprise gifts. A quiet, but memorable, celebration.

Perhaps more in keeping with the day than I could have planned.

4th Day of Christmas Turkey:

Mama asked me what I would like for Supper on Christmas Day. I requested Pho. And, Pho it was. Not a traditional Americana Christmas meal, by any stretch of the imagination, but a favorite of mine, nonetheless. She also bought a turkey (as an possible last minute alternate). So on the 4th Day of Christmas (Feast of The Holy Innocents), we cooked it.

Hooray for 4th Day of Christmas Turkey!

4th day of Christmas Turkey
Photo: 4th Day of Christmas Turkey.

Looks appetizing on the outside, let’s see how it tastes on the inside.

By happenstance, I was invited on the 2nd Day of Christmas to the best Pho place in town (for the first time). I think Mama’s version of Pho is pretty darn close to the real deal.


Christmas borscht
Photo: Mama’s savory Polish Christmas Eve supper.

Sometime during supper:

Tiern: “Can I have some more of that white stuff? I really like it.”

Dadoo: “The potatoes?”

Tiern: “No, the other white stuff.”

Mama: “The borscht?”

Tiern: “No.”

Mama: “The eggs?”

Tiern: “No. Not that white stuff.”

Mama: “Oh, the opłatek. Here, finish Little Miss’s.”

Tiern: “Yum!”

Dadoo: “Do you know this meal is a Polish tradition?”

Tiern: “It’s yummy (popping another piece of kielbasa into his mouth).”

Dadoo: “Do you know you’re part Polish?”

Tiern: “Oh. …Are you Polish?”

Dadoo: “No, I don’t have any Polish in my family tree. But you get your Polish from Mama. All the kids have some Polish in them. You’re more similar to your siblings than I am to you.”

Little Miss: “I’m not Polish.”

Mama: “You are part Polish.”

Little Miss: “No I’m not.”

Dadoo: “Yes, Miss, you are part Polish.”

Little Miss: “No I’m not POLISH!”

Awkward silence…

Tiern: “Let’s eat some PIE!”

Dadoo: “Great idea.”

Christmas Eve Cherry Pie
Photo: Mama’s flavorsome Christmas Eve cherry pie.

Little Miss Pie
Photo: Well, for Little Miss, let’s say she’s more cream than pie (she had several helpings of cream, the pie underneath the cream topping went untouched). Where’s Grandpa G when you need him?

Happy St. Nicholas’ Day!

The children awoke to some treats this morning:


~Chocolate St. Nicholas with candy cane crozier
~A bag of chocolate gold coins
~A note of encouragement and some suggestions for preparing their hearts for Christmas
~2 new Christmas books: Mortimer’s Christmas Manger and Room for a Little One

Last night we read some wonderful selections from the library:
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale
The Miracle of St. Nicholas

We started reading The Legend of Saint Nicholas this morning, also a library book, but I don’t think the children are old enough to appreciate it yet.

Today we’re all excited to bake St. Nicholas Purse Cookies for tea-time.

I love this time of year!


Best Bread Ever

I thought my bread machine was the answer to any and all problems related to financial strains in the grocery budget.

And then my friend posted this recipe for No-Knead Bread, and I find that the bread machine isn’t even necessary!

This is such a delicious loaf; it looks and tastes like the best artisan breads in any of our local bakeries. And it’s so easy! Even though it requires some planning ahead, most of that time is spent waiting around (aka, doing other things). It has become a regular item being created in my kitchen.

Thanksgiving Recipes

Yes, we will be doing this again.
Well, almost all of “this.”

The food for our Thanksgiving table turned out beautifully this year, with the exception of the cranberry salsa. Actually, that was beautiful, too. It’s just that nobody was really in the mood for spicy, chunky, cranberry-jalapeño sauce on their turkey plate. I can’t imagine it would be popular on leftover turkey sandwiches, either.

This cranberry sauce, however, was delicious.

And these candied cranberries were both visually appealing and a fun pre-dinner treat. Little Miss took exception to the tartness of the red berry part, though–I found several cranberries sucked clean of their sugar coating, all lined up on her dinner napkin!

Yes, I had three bags of cranberries with which to experiment this year!

The 15lb turkey was brined according to the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.
Then, after soaking it in fresh cold water for 30 minutes, I followed this procedure, complete with aromatics on the inside. The only change I made was to flip the bird to breast-down 30minutes after lowering the heat to 350. Total time in the oven was approximately two and a half hours.

This stuffing was a new recipe for me, recommended by a friend. I’ve never made stuffing from scratch before, and this is likely the reason why I never really cared for stuffing. Although it was labor-intensive, I did most of the prep beforehand, and just did the final mixing and baking today. It was worth all the effort, and I plan to make it a permanent dish in my at-home Thanksgiving dinner.

Mashed potatoes were also per the Pioneer Woman’s instructions; after making these once, a long time ago, I’ve since never been able to skip the cream cheese.

We had sweet potato fries, which served as pre-dinner munchies. Also on the table this afternoon with the fries and candied cranberries were shrimp with cocktail sauce and Costco’s trail mix.

There was no green dish this year; maybe asparagus would have been good, but our experience has been that the veggies don’t get much love at Thanksgiving dinner, and we weren’t moved by any strong inspiration this year. So we skipped it!

Dessert included pumpkin pie, apple pie, and cherry pie with homemade whipping cream using our newly unpacked wedding gift (5-1/2 years into our marriage!).

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is not my favorite vegetable. The taste isn’t particularly flavorful, and if I cook it too long, it’s mushy. Whenever it appears in our weekly produce basket, I have to get creative. This usually means I add it to Pad Thai or another stir-fry type of dish, so that it takes on the flavor of the other, more tasty, veggies.

But now, I find myself voluntarily reaching for the seasonally-priced zucchini at the grocery story, for we have discovered–and then modified to our highish altitude kitchen–


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 c coconut oil
1-1/2 c honey
1 Tbs vanilla
3 eggs
2-1/2 c flour
1/2 baking cocoa
1 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
almost 1/4 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
2 c shredded zucchini (one medium zucchini)

In the mixer, beat the oil, honey, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon; gradually beat into wet mixture until blended. Add in zucchini. Transfer to two greased loaf pans.
Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Core value:

What is the best way to eat an apple?

Huh, I thought there is only one way to eat an apple.

According the the above video, I have been wasting a significant portion of apple my entire life. Who knew? But I am fair game for trying new things. Watch out, apples, I might not be the boss, but I promise to be one heck of an apple eating monster.

I guess I either spit out the seeds or someone should generate seedless apples to help the process be even more efficient.

Bad Pomegranate:

De-seeding pomegranates using proper technique is probably second-nature for most Californians. However, for the rest of us, when October rolls around, eating fresh pomegranate is a double-edged sword. Those delectable plumpy seeds are an aggravating menace to get out, but oh, they are so heavenly palatable. The above video has changed our lives forever; we have been freed from the wickedness of this stubborn fruit. For all those years Pomegrante, you have been especially mean to us, pay back is going to be sweet vengeance. You’ve been a very bad Pomegranate, indeed.

Promegrante intrigue: Originally native to Iran, they were brought to the Americas by Spanish settlers in 1769.