Thursday, April 10, 2014

Welcoming our new granddaughter

Hard to imagine it at my young age (cough, cough), but we now have three granddaughters. Actually, I did none of the hard work - like giving birth or raising kids to get to this point. But it's so nice to reap the rewards of being a grandparent. 

Hard to imagine that Louanne and Mike went to China to adopt Nadia almost seven years ago, and that Amelie is already four. Now there is Dani, who just turned two, and has been living in this country for just a few short weeks. To say the least, she's adorable. And she's learning English at an astonishing rate. And she has her own distinct personality, different from her two sisters. 

Greg and I were able to meet her, finally. We had waffles for dinner (apparently for Nadia and Amelie, the concepts of 'Papa' and 'waffles' are forever inextricably linked), and got in some fun playtime with all three. 

And we even got Dani to give us huge smiles and giggles for pictures (she usually wears a pouty face in group photos). I especially loved watching Nadia and Amelie play.  

The only slight disappointment is that there wasn't a spare superhero cape in my size. 

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trail Mix, Remixed = Granola on the Cheap

I like granola every now and then - it's great on yogurt and fruit, and makes a nice little breakfast when paired with almond milk. But it's kind of expensive. 

Upon discovering the forgotten remnants of five bags of trail mix intended for Greg, I figured there's a way to make something good out of these leftovers instead of tossing them. So, I picked through them all and saved the best stuff for a stellar batch of granola. Voila! - trail mix, remixed! 

I made this recipe from about 15 recipes - switch up your ingredients however you like. The basics are oats, nuts, seeds, fruits and a binding ingredient. Spices are up to you.

You'll need:

3 cups of old-fashioned oats
1 cup (approx.) of raw almonds/cashews/hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup (approx.) of seeds - pumpkin (green ones), flax, chia, sunflower, etc. 
1/3 cup (approx.) of shaved coconut
1 cup (approx.) of dried fruits - raisins, cranberries, dates
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
pinch of nutmeg

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, seeds and coconut. In small bowl, mix sugar, syrup/honey, oil, vanilla, salt and spices. 

Drizzle over dry ingredients and mix well. Place on large cookie sheet lined with nonstick baking pad or parchment. 

Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring gently a few times, until it's golden and smells incredible. 

Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes and then put in a big bowl. Add fruits and mix gently. Let it cool completely before putting it in a container (I just throw it in a large zipper bag). 


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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I could give you my word as a Spaniard

"I could give you my word as a Spaniard."

"No good. I've known too many Spaniards."

Greg and I love to quote this from our fave flick The Princess Bride, since he is of Spanish heritage. Plus, it's funny to say it in public because you find out who else is in the Princess Bride Club. 

I was fortunate enough to tag along with Greg to Spain (business for him). We've been to Barcelona previously, and we're fans. 

There's something magical about standing in front of any building or park designed by Antoni Gaudi. 

Or wandering through ancient Roman architecture, losing yourself in the mazed passageways of Barri Gotic, allowing yourself to succumb to the wafting smells of tiny restaurants and dimly lit antique shops. 

Spaniards are fascinating to me anyway, but the barcelonians are a little different and hard to just group with the rest of the country. This happens with other regions too, of course. 

What I like about barcelonians ...

  • they tend to be friendlier than other European cultures
  • they're social people and enjoy all kinds of interactions, whether it's chatting over a coffee or sharing tapas
  • they're very culturally inclined, surrounding themselves with great design
  • they love their dogs - a bunch
  • they speak both Catalan and Spanish, in most cases
  • they don't get a lot of sleep (seeing as dinner time starts around 10 pm...)
  • they love to eat!

Yep, Barcelona is a pretty enjoyable place to hang out. And I think if a resident there gave me their word as a Spaniard, I'd be inclined to believe them!

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Cheating death - the flying way

Tonight, thanks to our smartphones, we saw the news that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 bound to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur had been lost on radio contact 2 1/2 hours into flight. It was over the water. It was due to land a few hours ago. 

What scares me isn't the fact that a plane didn't land when it should have. Or that the airlines is distributing concerning statements about the status of the flight which reference the loss of radio contact and the fact that their thoughts and prayers are with all of the affected families. 

What causes me chills is that:
1. Greg had a previously planned itinerary including that specific flight
2. Greg's colleagues instead took the trip to the region 
3. Greg's colleagues had booked themselves on the earlier flight

All that has been lost so far is one of the colleague's luggage which the airlines had already put on the next flight - the flight that may have gone down. So what if he has no clothing? He is alive. 

The most frightening thing of all is that we cheated death. Greg was the one originally scheduled on the trip! But maybe God isn't done with him yet. May we all take something from this chilling moment?

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Pantry turkey sausage-sweet potato egg-topped hash

If you're craving a ton of flavor, a few nice nutrients and a satisfying dish for any meal, here's an easy one to try. And for the most part, this uses what you already have on hand. Even better. 

For this hash, you'll need:

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion (any kind), diced
2 cloves of garlic
4 links of breakfast turkey sausage, or two large links of regular turkey sausage, sliced
About 4 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
3 sage leaves, finely sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Eggs - one per serving
Mustard for serving


Steam sweet potatoes in a covered bowl in the microwave with a bit of water (a few tablespoons), about 4 minutes. Drain. 

Heat large heavy-bottomed pan to medium, and drizzle in a few teaspoons of olive oil. 

Saute onions, garlic and red pepper for about 3 minutes, until they become slightly translucent. Add turkey and saute until it begins to caramelize. Add sweet potatoes, herbs and salt and pepper. If mixture is dry, add a few tablespoons of chicken broth. 

While the hash finishes cooking, fry or poach an egg for each serving. Plate hash, top with an egg, crack some nice black pepper over the top and pass around a good quality mustard. 

I recommend this locally-made one from Revival Market - it's sweet enough and crunchy from the whole mustard seeds. YUM!!

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Found a use for leftover kolaches

Before the syrup
Those leftover kolaches don't need to be chucked, after all.

A highly popular pastry in Texas, kolaches are of Czech origin. The 'real' kolache is actually a wedding pastry filled with fruit - never meat. What we call the kolache in Texas is actually a klobasnek, which is essentially a little hot dog and cheese baked inside a rather large, sweetish airbag of fluffy dough. 

Kolaches are a twice a year occurrence for us. When Greg is given the green light to fetch said treats, he buys too many. Which in turn means there will be one or two strays which are popped in the fridge and promptly forgotten. 

Last night, in my usual bout of insomnia, I thought - why not slice up the remaining kolaches and make them into Czech French Toast? And - whattaya know - it worked.  

Czech-ish French Toast

2-3 leftover kolaches, sliced diagonally in 1/2" slices
2 eggs, beaten 
1 T milk or half and half
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Shake of cayenne pepper 
Shake of nutmeg
Maple syrup

Beat together egg through nutmeg, dip kolache pieces in mixture and do your thing as you would French toast. 

Drizzle over the maple syrup and enjoy! 

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another outstanding Houston event

Houston Magazine (from Modern Luxury) is celebrating its 100th issue. Browsing through it, I must say it's exciting to see how far Houston has come. Our city is more committed than ever to solidifying and putting a finer point on its identity, which is easy when we can point at specific standout physical and cultural attributes, but more tricky when you consider our vast diversity, because by nature it means there are so many identities coming together in HTX. 

Let's get to the good stuff. The fun events that remind us repeatedly why we love living in this city. Last night's Modern Luxury celebration, staged at The Tasting Room, was no exception. Lexus is a major sponsor, so you threaded among shiny new vehicles to enter the event. Once in, having been handed a glass of champagne, you were encouraged to jump in on the photobooth action (I'm a sucker for those). 

And, of course, enjoy the wonderful hummus, charcuterie, spicy shrimp, and other delicious bites. With a few dramatic touches of decor, outstanding live music, and some of the best people watching you'll get anywhere, this was the place to be. 

For us, we loved being in the vibe, greeting a number of our friends and acquaintances, and meeting a number of new folks. We guess others enjoyed it too, since the turnout topped 900. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to reload more business cards for tonight's event.... 

The goodie bags included pecan pie!

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