Let’s Roll!

My apologies for a lapse in the cooking and blog writing.  My family is a bit under the weather this holiday season.  I’m recovering from surgery.  I had a little cancer that had to be removed, so my doctor successfully removed my thyroid and some lymph nodes.  They say that I won’t even miss them!  It turned out to be a couple of types of cancer with one rare type called medullary.  My family and friends have been calling me an overachiever!  I’ll be just fine but have some healing to do, so I’ve been taking it easy.  Not an easy thing for me to do, but necessary.

My uncle had knee surgery, my aunt is not feeling well, my parents decided to get a bad cold…so needless to say we’re all not celebrating as usual this year.   We will all get together in the new year and have a redo on Christmas.  For now, we’re all going to focus on healing.

I learned last night that part of the healing process should include making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve with my good friend Debi!  I unexpectedly decided to bring her lunch that afternoon and then stayed to help her make four types of cookies and cinnamon rolls.  She did most of it, but it was a great time hanging out as we listened to holiday tunes and chatted about how funny I was on drugs from the surgery.

Cinnamon rolls for her family is a holiday tradition.  The recipe comes from their church cookbook.

Disneyland Cinnamon Rolls (from Sarah Judkins)

1/2 cup warm water + 2 Tbsp. yeast (mix and set aside)

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1 (One) 3 oz. package of instant vanilla pudding mix

2 (Two) cups milk (microwaved to take the chill off)

2 (Two) tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 (Two) eggs, slightly beaten

1 (One) tsp. salt

8 (Eight) cups flour

In a large bowl, mix the pudding with the milk.  (This pudding is going to be thicker than normal as we are not making it to the package specifications on the box)  Add butter, eggs and salt.  Mix well.  Add the yeast mixture.  Mix well.

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Gradually add flour and knead until smooth.  image

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Put in a large greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size.  Handy tip:  warm a wet kitchen towel in the microwave.  Cover the bowl with the towel and set in the microwave.  Do not turn your microwave on!

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Punch down, cover and let rise until double in size for a second time.  The recipe calls to do this twice but we did this about four times and Debi says she usually does it more.  It can take 8 to 10 hours.  We did a faster version in about 5 hours last night.

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Roll dough on a very large floured surface to a long rectangular shape, approximately 34″x21″.  We split the dough in half to do this.  It would have rolled out to the entire surface of the table if we didn’t split it!

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Spread:  the recipe suggests the following

1(One) cup butter, melted

2 (Two) cups brown sugar

2 (Two) tbsp cinnamon

Brush on melted butter.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over top.

We did ours with a minor modification.  We mixed the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to make a spreadable paste.

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Roll into a jelly roll.  Measure every two inches and cut.  Handy tip:  use clean dental floss to slice!

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Place in a greased pan, gently pack them so they stay together, and allow to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.  We placed our pans on top of the stove cause the oven was warm from baking cookies already.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Frost while still warm.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (One) 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (One) tsp vanilla

3 (Three) cups powdered sugar

2 (Two) tsps milk

Mix well in a bowl until creamy and smooth.

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Hope you enjoy your holiday with family, friends and warm cinnamon rolls!

 

A Dia To Remember

A couple of friends of mine were interested in celebrating Dia De Los Muertes on November 1st in honor of a friend that passed away way too soon last year.  So we started in Old Town Pasadena for their celebration but we only found a few window displays (and a few shopping items).  We all got the memo, and dressed in black and wore as many flowers in our hair as possible.  It’s November but it was 90 degrees out so we were in summer attire.image

We understand that Dia de Los Muertes is a celebration of remembering loved ones that passed before us.  This seemed fitting and so we went on this mission to check things out.  There seems to be lots of symbolism or traditions that have evolved such as sugar skulls, gold marigolds, altars and displays.  Some of it seems scary, but I gather that culturally it’s meant to honor or show respect for the deceased.

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Since Pasadena wasn’t quite what we were looking for, we decided to go to Olvera Street in downtown LA cause if there was going to be a celebration near us, that would have to be where it was at!  We were right.  There was a ton of traffic, hard to find parking and lots of crowds to navigate which proved we were right and it accomplished our mission.  It was a feast for our eyes!

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The day proved to be a cultural feast that helped us hold significance for a passed loved one for the girls.  Even though it was crowded, it was great fun to see the traditions, colors, fabrics, altar displays and hear the music!  We, of course, ended the day at a Mexican restaurant with food and margaritas.  It was a great Dia to remember!

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Do any of you celebrate Dia de Los Muertes?  What are your traditions?

 

The Family Tree

My dad planted two trees when I was about 4 years old, a peach and an avocado.  My favorite tree was the peach tree because as a kid, it was one fruit that I couldn’t get enough of.  His favorite was the avocado tree.  Over the years, a decision had to be made – which tree to keep as they grew bigger.  There wasn’t room for both trees in the backyard, so the avocado tree won and there went my supply of peaches.

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Here’s a pic of the avocado tree on the left and the peach tree on the right.

You should know that I was introduced to the avocado in a strange way.  My dad liked to mash it up, sprinkle sugar on it and pour milk over it. Being Filipino, he called this his merienda. No one in the family was a fan of this dish so it always served a party of one.  Today I like avocados, but not even sugar could get me to eat them as a kid!

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Me when I was about 5 years old.

It dawned on me that the avocado tree has truly grown up with the family and is like a second sibling to me.  We have various pictures with the tree and of the tree.  It’s been a backdrop for birthday parties, bbqs and backyard shenanigans.  I’m sure the tree would love to tell the story of when my brother and I launched his Hot Wheel cars off of the roof.  (It was my brother’s idea but I was a great cheerleader).

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Avocado tree when it was about 3 years old.

One year, there was a fruit fly infestation that was coming to the area.  We couldn’t give the tree preventative shots or take the tree inside to protect it.  Worried about the health of the tree, my dad found an advertisement for a local forum on the fruit fly.  He attended this meeting along with several community farmers.  They all shared with each other to gain insight to their problems, “How many trees do you have?”. Dad answered, “One”.  They were all growers for local groves of avocado farms and fruit trees.  Dad had a grove of one.  After the initial shock from the farmers that dad had a single tree, they tried to offer him suggestions.  They had ideas, products and suggestions for lots of trees if dad had a farm, but with one tree…it wasn’t going to work.  So dad had a good story to tell family and friends about his interaction with the farmers but ended up concocting his own recipes to help the tree and prayed for the best.  It seemed to do the trick as we still have the tree standing today.  (There’s a recipe for this concoction that has gone through several versions to perfect it, but I was sworn to secrecy!)

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A photo close up of avocados when the tree was about 11 years old.

Another year, I visited my parents and there was tension in the air.  I asked my mom what was the problem and she explained that they had had some plumbing issues.  They were trying to decide if they were going to take care of the problem.  In most houses, this wouldn’t be such a big decision?  Of course you would fix the problem!  But because the pipe ran under the avocado tree, this became an impossible situation.   One thought was to just let that bathroom be non-operational.  That’s not an option in my mind but I guess if you gave my parents a decision of harming their third child vs. fixing their toilet…they just couldn’t bare it.  Luckily another plumber came up with another solution, so they didn’t have to compromise the tree.  It was plumbing or the tree, and the tree won again.  Thankfully the toilet works again too!

Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.
Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.

My dad loves to give avocados to family and friends.  If you express any desire to eat them, you can expect a bag the next time daddy sees you.  They have been gifts to people far and wide.  Recently, a family friend from the Czech Republic asked dad for some avocados to take to her grandmother on a visit.  We weren’t quite sure she could get through the airport checkpoints with an avocado?  She got nervous and gave the carefully brown paper covered grenade-looking item to her husband to take back home with her after dropping her at the airport.  Before he left, he chatted to a TSA agent about the avocados and they said she could take them with her!  So he quickly passed them to her in line and she flew happily Continue reading “The Family Tree”

Roger’s Gardens – A Delish Shopping Trip!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday recently.   We usually like to drive my parents places that they don’t get to go to on a regular basis, so this birthday weekend was no exception.  I think we tired the parents out but hopefully they had some fun in the process.

There’s a nursery and gift shop in Corona Del Mar called Roger’s Gardens.  It has a great selection of plants, patio furniture, pots,  knowledgeable staff and a great gift boutique.  They also decorate for seasonal gifts and decor, so the Halloween Boutique had just opened this same weekend.  If you like Halloween, this is sure to spark your creativity!  Mom loves this place, so it was a good idea to take her there.

The theme this year for the Halloween boutique is “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and it’s truly like entering a magician’s tent with a maniacal display of whimsy, gross, scary, absurd and glittery objects.  Heaven.

Beware – tons of pics to follow!   If you can’t visit this year, then I’ll bring the store to you here.

IMG_2181Being a marketing person, I look at signage way too much even when I’m personally shopping. They had my attention with old timey fonts and ribbon motif. Well done, Roger’s Gardens!

AND…those pumpkins!  Love!  They had a variety of pumpkins, different shapes and colors scattered around the nursery.

It was 100 degrees outside, but the pumpkins made me long for cooler weather so I can comfortably cook in my kitchen again.

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Chalk To Me

Chalkboards are all the rage right now.   I see them in all sorts of cute tables, jar lids, signs and more.  I admit, I kind of like it!  I’ve always been a fan of font type and chalkboard art.  Once again, I was inspired by Pinterest for the chalk art but first I had to create a chalkboard surface somewhere!

I live in a 1920’s bungalow and I was in need of a decorating update.  My dining area had become a dumping ground for unfinished projects and wishful ideas.  I wanted to redo this area to be livable, not a reminder of my lack of completing projects and most of all, functional for entertaining.

My dad gave me his old drafting table several years ago and I knew that I wanted to continue using it in this area but I needed to clear it off and figure out how to make it work for entertaining?  I decided to float it in the middle of the room and add some bar stools for that “office” pub feel.

IMG_3035Terrible picture, but you get the idea of what a mess I had!

So I cleared this area by mainly putting all of the craft supplies in the garage and getting rid of useless stuff, lots of useless stuff.  Once I got the room cleared and set it up generally how I wanted it to live, I felt it needed a focal point but didn’t want to spend any money or very little and I also didn’t want to hang anything heavy.  At first I was going to paint something on the wall but there was a couple of things wrong with that idea.  1.  I’ve never really painted anything and 2.  I change my mind sometimes…what if I hated it in a week?

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I decided I wanted a painted chalkboard on the wall so I could experiment with font types and designs anytime that I wanted.  If my experiments failed, I could always invite visitors to sign or leave a phrase or I could practice my math tables.

IMG_3839From the cleaning exercise, I remembered I had large pads of papers from yesteryear art classes.  I taped them carefully together and then cut a border so it would be symmetrical when I placed it on the wall.  I used the paper first so that I could determine the scale and not make a ton of pencil marks on my wall.  I was avoiding more cleaning, if that was possible.

I taped the paper on the wall and made sure it was evenly placed between my windows and at the right height.   I then traced a thin pencil line on the wall so I could paint within the line.

 

I went to my local OSH store and discovered that you can get chalk paint in any color that you wanted.  Why did they tell me that?  After I stopped my head from spinning, I decided that I wanted a classic chalkboard but not quite a saturated black color, slightly lighter.  I went with a classic grey chalkboard color, the slate color that could be found in a little red schoolhouse.

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It took about 4 coats of chalkboard paint to really cover the area well.  I wanted another detail to make the design stand out and add a little glimmer.  I added a metallic gold trim line to the edge.  I just hand painted this and didn’t create a template for it.  When I did it, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t perfect but now I like the imperfection of the hand painted trim.  The line isn’t exact and changes thickness a bit, but from a distance it looks good.  IMG_3848

Once the chalk paint was dry for about 24 hours, I had to rub chalk over the entire surface and wipe it off.  That was per the instructions, so I did that.  I think it had to cure again for about 24 hours before I decided to chalk it up with something fancy.

IMG_3862Like I said, Pinterest inspired me again.  This picture is a much bigger format of what I could do with my little chalk space, but it was the inspiration.   (DelishTish pinterest boards coming soon)

I wasn’t sure I could copy or get anywhere close to this design, but it was chalk so if I hated it…erase.  I started in the middle with the Hello and then just kept adding elements around it.  I used old fashion chalk, not a chalk pen or any other new fangled chalk writing utensil.  Chalk, a wet rag, dry rag and my hands were all I needed.  My costs for the project were about $20 for the paint and some foam brushes.

Here’s a few photos of each stage.

IMG_3861Drew the “Hello”, added a bit top and bottom

IMG_3863Started to block out the top right bubble and filled in some on the bottom.

IMG_3864There’s still a blank spot on the bottom left, so added some arrows cause didn’t want to move or mess with anything that I had done thus far.

I think in the end it came out well.  I haven’t changed the artwork on the board yet, but if it changes…you may just see a post about it!

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