Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for a Zip! Zing! Zee! Party


Congratulations to all of us bloggers of the Blogging from A-to-Z April Challenge! We did it. Zzzzzzzooo-hoooooo!

So, for you, today, I'm cooking up a virtual feast as my final entry for my food theme. Enjoy!

Appetizers
• Lumpia (Filipino eggrolls. Of course! I can't throw a party without lumpia)
• Potstickers
• Inari Sushi (Deep-fried bean curd skins stuffed with rice, peas, and salmon
• Assorted fresh vegetables with onion dip


Main and Side Dishes
Kalua pork
• Grilled salmon
Pancit  (Filipino noodle dish)
• Stir-fry vegetable medley (onions, garlic, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, tiny corn, and water chestnuts)
• Kim chee
• Bamboo relish (The Mama's awesome, delicious, pickled spicy bamboo. Double yum!)
• Brown rice


Desserts
• Apple Pie, Ollalieberry Pie, and Cherry Pie
• Suman (Coconut glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves)
• Fresh watermelon and pineapple

Drinks
• Local handcrafted beer
• Local wines
• Apple juice (locally produced, of course)
• Water

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

The Dude, The Husband -- XOXO

My Alphabe Thursday theme -- The Dude, The Husband

Is that too much PDA (public display of affection) on the blog?

What can I say? I love the Husband.

See ya next week at Alphabe Thursday, which is hosted by the sweet and amazing Jenny Matlock. To check out today's participants, please click here.

If you've come from Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my Z post is over here.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for the Yummy Song

When the Eldest Niece was a baby sitting in her high chair, eating time was show time. I believe she had me pegged for a softie and could have me perform with a shake of her head  as I brought a spoonful of food to her tightly closed mouth.

And, I did. I sang a made-up song with great relish. I don't recall the exact words anymore, or even the tune. It went something like this:
Yummy, yummy. Here comes some lovely yummy to your tummy. Open wide. Here comes yummy.
That was over 35 years ago. I do remember that she opened her mouth to eat a few bites when I sang it.  Those were great times with the Eldest Niece.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Head Pollinator

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
For nearly 27 years, the Mama worked in applied seed research. She had a hand in getting the stink out of broccoli and creating an oblong tomato that would be easier for machines to pluck without bruising, among other horticultural feats. This was many years before genetic engineering in agriculture came to be. Back then, seed research involved people cross pollinating generations of cabbage, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, squash, peppers, broccoli, melons, and other vegetables and fruits.

It's not as easy as you think. It takes steady hands and a focused mind. And, if you're working with the Mama, you definitely cannot be a slacker, at least on the job. I ought to know. I worked for her for two summers when I was a teenager. One of the best paying jobs to have back then. The Mama was the supervisor of the crew of seed technicians. Summer being the busy season, she hired two or more teenagers to help out. She wouldn't hire me until the summer after I graduated from high school.

There were many aspects to the Mama's job.  I only learned how to be a human bee. Even more than 40 years later, I still recall the basic things to know, which applied to any plant. You carefully strip a female's dress (petals), making sure you don't touch any part of her reproductive organs with your fingers or your tools. You harvest male flowers from the correct rows. And, you have to make sure that neither the female or male has already opened and, thus, possibly been compromised by bees, butterflies, or other pollinating insects. You also have to remember to cover the pollinated female with the proper covering and tag her with the male's ID number before you move on to the next one.

It was very fascinating work. Looking back, I would've loved to have gone through at least one full cycle of the process of planting seeds to threshing the seeds and bagging them.

San Jose Mercury News, 1968

Today is ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now headed by Roger Green and his helpers. Click here to read posts around today's letter P. 

If you've come from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my Y post is over here.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xmas Cookies


I bake cookies at least once a year. And, that's at Xmas. What's Xmas without the yummy smell of cookies baking in the oven, right?

Those first few years of baking Xmas cookies, I'd go through cookbooks, looking for interesting cookie recipes to try. But, always, I'd end up following certain recipes in a Women's Day cookie recipe booklet. That may be how I got hooked reading cookbooks.

I used to bake a bunch of different cookies. Not anymore. Now, I bake three kinds of cookies. Persimmon biscotti, the Mama's favorite; Russian tea cakes, the Husband's favorite: and a persimmon, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or gingersnap cookie.

Do you bake Xmas cookies? What cookies do you like to bake?


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for What's Wrong with Your Cake?

Once-upon-a-time, a long time ago, when I was still a young thing. . . .
 
After the Birthday Gal happily blew our her candles on the carrot cake that I baked, the other student assistant and I cut the cake and served the slices to the Birthday Gal and everyone else in the Department of Secondary Education office. The cake looked yummy. Everyone took a bite. Several people looked puzzled as they chewed.

The gruff teddy bear of a department chair said, "Sue, did you forget to turn on the oven?"

"Huh?"

The Teddy Bear Chair examined his cake. "It's flat."

"That's the way it's supposed to be." I said.

"I love it," said the Birthday Gal. "It's just like the cake from home. All full of nuts and carrots. Thank you, Sue."

The Birthday Gal was from Central America. She gave me a hug and took another slice.

The Teddy Bear Chair continued eating his cake. "Have you made this cake before?" he asked.

"First time," I said.

"So, we're your guinea pigs," he said.

"All my cakes are first times," I said. "They're never the same. I don't measure things."

"Ah ha! That's why. Measure next time, Sue." He said, then turned, walking into his cavern of an office with his nearly eaten piece of cake.

Much later, as I sat at my desk, typing paperwork, my supervisor Dr. Who-Writes-Romances-During-Her-Breaks came out from her office behind me. "Sue," she said, her voice full of excitement. "I know what's wrong with your cake."

"Yes," I said, thinking there was nothing wrong with my cake.

"You forgot the flour!" she said. She went back into office with a satisfied look on her face as if she had solved a mystery. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I did use flour.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wild Pink


The Husband and I came across these wild pink roses while walking on the main street of San Juan Bautista last Sunday. A perfect contrast to the sights that we saw during our hike with friends at the Pinnacles National Park. To see some of those amazing sights, please click here to go to my other blog, Take 25 to Hollister.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vegetable Garden


My earliest memory of the Daddy's vegetable garden was floating a pea pod in the water rushing down one of the narrow vegetable ditches. I was about four years old. I remember the garden being tall, green, and wild-like.

Every year, the Daddy put up a vegetable garden for the family, growing many Filipino vegetables that we couldn't buy in the grocery store. We ate a lot of long beans, bitter melon, Japanese eggplants, tabongaw (a type of gourd), Kabocha squash, saloyat (okra leaves), parda (a hairy, bigger, and thicker pea), and kabatiti (a kind of squash with ridges) during the summers. Also into the winters, after the parents bought a big freezer.

When the Daddy came home from a long day of irrigating vegetable fields, he went straight to the garden to see what needed tending. The Mama went into the garden to harvest vegetables for the evening's meal.  The Daddy was always getting after the Mama for picking the bitter melon leaves from the top rather than the bottom. Guess who tells me not to pick the bitter melon leaves from the top?

The Mama continued growing vegetables after the Daddy died. It was tough, as she was still working. I suppose being in the garden helped her deal with being a widow.

Today, as some of you know, the Mama works a few hours hours nearly every day in her vegetable garden. Along with the Filipino vegetables, the Mama plants green beans, peppers, tomatoes, chives, and Filipino green onions.  Her garden doesn't yield as much as it used to, which is fine with me. There's only so much bitter melon I can eat. The Husband won't eat it and the Mama eats only a bit of it.

Growing vegetables is a fun challenge for the Mama. Her satisfaction comes from seeing other people eat the fruits of her labor.



Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for the Utensil Choir


Earlier this month, the Husband and I entertained ourselves while he washed dishes and I dried them. The result was a rundown of the utensil choir. This is the make up of the choir, according to the Husband, a musician at heart.
The soup spoon sings bass.  
The special spoon, which is a Korean soup spoon, sings baritone. 
Teaspoons sing soprano, while tablespoons sing alto or tenor. 
Forks sing four-part harmony, of course.
Salad forks? Three-part harmony!
Knives are tone deaf. When they sing, the sound cuts to the heart.
I didn't want the knives to feel left out, so I let them hold the music sheet for everyone.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.






Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for 60 Pounds of Tripe

"How come you have so much tripe?" I asked the Mama, as I stared at a large clear plastic bag full of white, honey-combed cow stomach lining.

"Your godfather gave it to me," she said.

"That's a lot of tripe. How many pounds is that?

"Twenty."

"What are you going to do with all that tripe?"

"Put it in the freezer."

I lugged the heavy bag to the big freezer in the garage. What the heck? On top of other more frozen items was another large clear plastic bag of tripe.

Just as I closed the freezer, Frances, one of the Mama's friends walked up the driveway. The garage door was open. "Hello. Is your mom home?"

"She's in the house. Come inside," I said.

"I need to get something out of the car first," Frances said. "I have something for your mom."

She ran out of the garage. I opened the door and yelled into the house, "Mama! You have a visitor." Then I went to see if Frances needed help.

As I neared her car, I saw Frances pull out a large white item from her trunk. A blanket? No. Oh no!

Frances handed me a large clear plastic bag full of white, honey-combed cow stomach lining. Another twenty pounds!

"Your mama told me that she was hungry for tripe. She wanted me to buy her some, if I saw any. I was lucky. The butcher had tripe today."

"Thank you," I said. "She's going to be very happy to see the tripe."

That happened a few months after the Daddy died, more than 30 years ago. I have no idea what the Mama did with the 60 pounds of tripe.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

The Dude, The Husband -- A Walker

My Alphabe Thursday theme -- The Dude, The Husband
The Husband enjoys walking, whether it's in the wilds or a park, down the street, or through the neighborhood. The kind of walking that's tough for him is slow walking like when we're browsing through a museum or a shop. That tires him out.


He has an easy gait with a long stride. I have a slower place than him, so I tell him to go stretch his legs. Until recently, I was usually half a block behind him. These days, I can keep up with him or just be a few steps behind him, some of the time.

I love walking with the Husband. I also like taking photos of him on our walks and hikes.


It's Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the sweet Jenny Matlock. Today is the letter W. To check other participants, please click here.  By the way, if you're coming from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my T post is over here.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for the Mama's Spoon

This is the Mama's spoon, the one with which she cooked for as long as I can remember. And, for those who are new to the blog, I'm in my early 60s and the Mama is 30-some years older than me.

I like cooking with the Mama's spoon. It's smooth, fits in my hand, and has the perfect heft to it. I also like the way the metal spoon sounds against a pot or pan. Most of all, I like cooking with it because it's the Mama's spoon.

When I pick up the Mama's spoon, I think of her using it to stir her bittermelon chicken soup, eggplant-bittermelon stew, tabongow chicken soup, pork adobo, ginger beef, fried rice, scrambled eggs, pancit, and diningding (a soup of all the Filipino vegetables in her garden).

In my mind, I see her making Thanksgiving dinner with that spoon. She sauteed the ingredients for the dressing. She basted the turkey. She mashed the potatoes with the back of the spoon. And, she stirred and stirred the gravy.

She cooked a lot of meals with that one spoon.  Nearly all of which were delicious.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Orchids

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and Her Authentic
Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
I got this orchid plant as a gift six years ago. Every year it has bloomed again because of the Mama, who took it over from the moment it came into the house. She doesn't feed it any special orchid food.  She just waters it and reminds me not to water it.

Today is ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and now headed by Roger Green and his helpers. Click here to read posts around today's letter O. 

If you've come from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my S post is over here.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Rice

We usually have cooked rice in the refrigerator, ready to be heated as is or made into a fast and easy fried rice dish.

Rice is the one dish that the Mama usually makes. I'd rather cook it because hers comes out too dry. But, I let her prepare the rice because I think it makes her feel that she's contributing to cooking the meals. When I warm up the rice in the microwave, I just add a bit of water. So no big deal.

Twice a year, the Mama sees her eye doctor who always asks,"What's your secret for long life?"

"I eat rice," she tells him. "Eat rice for a long life. You don't get so many wrinkles."

I don't know about that.  But, hey, she is 93 years old.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quick and Easy


Yesterday the Husband and I got together with friends and hiked in the Pinnacles National Park, one of the newest parks in the National Park Service system. It had been planned for awhile, but as usual, I didn't think about what to bring for trail snacks until Saturday. We had no idea how far or how long we would hike.

"What do you think about getting energy bars for the hike?" I asked the Husband.

"Great idea," he said. "We can bring apples."

"Okay. How about some nuts?"

"Yeah."

"We have carrots."

"That'll be good, too."

Done. Quick and easy meal planning. I always like that.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review -- Flora and Ulysses


Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo is the funny book I read for my 2015 Reading Challenge. If there was a charming characters category, this children's novel would fit it, too.

Ulysses is a squirrel that is very strong, flies through the air with the greatest at ease, types, writes poetry, and loves Flora. All this he was able to do after he was sucked up by and spitted out of a super strong vacuum cleaner.

Flora Belle Buckman is a young girl who loves to read comic books, thinks of herself as a cynic, doesn't like that her parents are divorced, and loves Ulysses. Her mother, alas, wants nothing more than the squirrel to be no more, with the help of a sack and a shovel.

The quest for Flora and Ulysses is to remain together for as long as ever can be. She is helped by her neighbor Tootie Tickham who accidentally sucked Ulysses up in her vacuum cleaner; William Spiver, Tootie's grandnephew, who is temporarily blind, but nobody believes him; George Buckman, Flora's unhappy father; and Dr. Meescham, not a physician, and neighbor to George Buckman.

The story is both fantasy and real. I like the way the author handles the hard topic of how kids deal with divorce and new step parents. She isn't afraid to address how children and adults feel unhappy, lonely, and lost.

If I was a teacher, this would be a story I'd read out loud to my students, regardless of how old they are. I read a passage out loud to the Mama and the Husband at the lunch table one day, and their attention was caught. The Husband started reading the book before I finished it. Of course, he very patiently waited for me to put down the book after I had read a chapter or two or three.


Note: FCC and you need to know that the link leads to Amazon.com. Should you click it and happen to purchase anything there, Amazon may reward me with a bit of change.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Sunday Picnics at the Beach


Going to the beach was always an all-of-a-sudden decision that the Mama and the Daddy made at some point between the moment they woke up and finished breakfast on a Sunday morning. Then, they would wake up the Older Brother and me.

The Mama and Daddy got everything together. The Mama cooked a pot of rice and gathered plates, napkins, utensils, cups, cutting board, knives, blankets, towels, and so forth. The Daddy collected firewood (and later charcoal), grills, and buckets. The older I got, the more tasks I did, from gathering my own change of clothes to getting the picnic basket together and helping haul everything out to the car.

We usually made two stops before we got to our favorite picnic spot on the rocky shoreline in Monterey. The first was at a mom-and-pop store on the way out of town to buy the Daddy's bottle of whiskey, Seven-Up, soda, and hot dogs. The second was at the Fisherman's Wharf where the parents bought American mackerel, squid, and other fish for lunch.


The Daddy always drove the long scenic route along the coast to our picnic spot, which was over a short dune and down a slope full of boulders and rocks. It was tough going for a kid, but I managed to make it down by myself. The Daddy and the Older Brother were whirlwinds as they took several trips back and forth to the car.

Once the blanket was laid out, everyone, but the Daddy, changed into shorts. The Mama picked up a bucket and headed for the rocks to pick seaweed. At that time, people could gather seaweed freely for food. The water was still pristine, so we thought. The Older Brother went in another direction on his own adventure. The Daddy made a makeshift barbecue pit on the rocks, and once the fire was going, he mixed a drink of whiskey and Seven-Up. The Daddy was very happy to grill the fish and sip his drink, while the rest of was did our thing.


I stayed within sight of the Daddy, going farther and farther away as I grew older, climbing the rocks and splashing in the tide pools. Sometimes, I had my own bucket to gather snails, which we ate for supper when we got home. I always kept an eye out for the waves. The Mama told me to make a sign of the cross in the sand as a worrisome wave approached and that would keep me safe. It worked every time.

The Daddy called us in when the fish was cooked. The Mama took a long time coming back because she kept stopping to pick up more seaweed. But, finally she was back with a bucket full of red, pink, green, brown, and black seaweed. The Older Brother appeared from who knows where, a few times with an abalone or two.

Our lunch was a feast. Grilled fish. Hot dogs. Rice, Tomatoes and onions. And, whatever else the Mama packed in the basket. Yummm. The Mama often said at our picnics that eating at the beach made the food taste better.

After we ate, the Daddy washed the grills, then took a nap. The Mama fussed about, putting everything back in order, after which she sat back and enjoyed the moment, or went out for more seaweed. The Older Brother and I explored.  Sometimes I followed him, but could never keep up. Then before I knew it, it was time to change into our dry clothes and haul everything back up the hill to the car.


Last year, the Husband and I went by our family's favorite picnic spot. The sand dunes and rocky slope are no more. Rocks now litter the spot where we used to have our picnics. Doesn't matter, I can still see us there.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Overindulging


I must face it. I've gotten my body out of sorts. Again. I've gained back nearly all the weight I lost last year.  It took one year for me to lose 13 pounds and four months to gain 11 pounds. Sigh and Grrr. I'm not going to cry about it. Nor whine. Nor make excuses for myself. I know what I did. Since Christmas, I've been eating desserts nearly every day, drinking beer about once a week, and not pedaling Tilda-Hilda up a hill six days a week. Pure and simple. I admit it. I overindulged and got lazy. I did it to myself. Again.

This morning, I started paying attention to the wise woman inside me when we dropped the Husband's computer at the repair shop. The first thing I saw when I got out of the car was the doughnut shop two doors away. Just like Homer Simpson, my first reaction was to drool and say "Doughnuts, me want."

I did not go over to the doughnut shop.

As we were leaving the computer repair shop, about 20 minutes later, I thought, "Doughnuts, me want."

I got into the car without making a suggestion to the Husband.

So, good for me.

I'll be facing this decision-making process again at lunchtime when the Mama opens the bag of chocolate cookies for dessert.

One moment at a time. Last year, I went a full year. This time, I'm aiming for a lifetime. I know I can do it.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Nighttime Snack


"Let's have a snack," said the Daddy. He sat in his Lazy-boy recliner, while my teenage self stretched out on the couch beside him. It was a summer night, with the doors and windows still wide open for the breeze. A rerun show played on the TV, at which I looked up now and then from the book I read.

Without doubt, that scene took place around nine o'clock, the usual time the Daddy called for a snack when he was in the mood. The Daddy's favorite nighttime snack were the doughnuts without the hole that I made from canned biscuits. They were quick and easy to make, about 10 minutes, if I recall correctly.

As the oil heated in the iron skillet, I opened the cardboard can of biscuits, the best part of making the doughnuts. Pow! A satisfying blow against the edge of the corner. Pop! The eight (or was it 10) small, soft, slices of dough smiled between the cardboard.

Carefully, I dropped the round slices into the heated oil in the skillet. Sizzle. Sizzle. Sizzle. I quickly stirred cinnamon and sugar on a plate.  When the doughnuts were a golden brown, I transferred them to the plate and tossed them in the sweet topping. Voila! Cinnamon doughnuts.

The Daddy already sat at the table, ready to dig into his nighttime snack.


Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.


The Dude, The Husband -- Vocal with Vivid Vocabulary

My Alphabe Thursday theme -- The Dude, The Husband
The Husband is very articulate and precise about saying what he means. I love that about him. I also like how he questions things and is not afraid to vocalize his thoughts, especially about the illogical thinking of others who want to impose their agenda upon everyone. The Husband does that a lot on his Facebook wall. And, today, he's letting me share a few of his posts, with which I whole-heartedly agree.  Thank you, The Husband. 

If you're not interested in reading about religion and politics, then scroll down to read the Husband's third post. The Husband is a great punster.

By the way, if you're coming from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my N post is over here.







Today is Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the sweet Jenny Matlock. To visit other participants, please click here.