Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Naples Lights

My cousin Scott (aka Ford) came down to Long Beach to spend Christmas with me. As soon as it got dark, we made the trek to Naples (it’s about a mile from me) to see all the holiday lights by the canals. As usual, some of the homes went all out with a crazy amount of lights. Many homes had several decorated trees.
I forgot my tripod and just took very quick pictures as we walked by the homes. However, there are a few that turned out okay so I thought I’d share them with you…
lights on the water
   lit palm trees
holiday window

Although this one was very pretty, it reminds me of a display window for a shop.

fake snow
 This one had lots of fake snow in their display.
I guess that’s the closest thing to snow that 
Long Beach will ever see!!


love me some gnomes

disco christmas

This one had several disco balls and disco Christmas music  playing and a bubble machine. Steve Rubell would be so proud.

Of course, there were lots of animals. Pictured above are some polar bears (that remind me of the coca cola bears), a Christmas frog that I snapped mainly for my Mother, two white swans, and the last house had penguins, three flying pigs with halos and Snoopy. There were lots of reindeer. This one below was one of my favorites.


frosted trees
 The new trend in fake trees this year appears to be vintage-looking trees with frosted tips to look like snow. I think some of them are cashmere. I liked these because they were at least a little different, instead of being really full like all the ones I‘ve seen around, they were slim.


Many nutcrackers in this window  display.

napping santa

I really love all the beachy Santas. I doubt that I’ll see many (if any) of these next year.
santa surfing

winnerHere’s one of the big winners.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed my pictures of the holiday lights in Naples!!
lots of love

Monday, December 26, 2011

Classic Cookbook Challenge–December

abc gourmet cooking
I love collecting and reading old cookbooks. So last month I created a challenge for myself to make one recipe a month for a year from old cookbooks. You can read my original post here. I also said that if anyone wanted to send me an old cookbook, then they could chose the recipe for me to make.
Well, a few days after that post I received a cookbook in the mail from my aunt.

Here she is with me and my cousin (her son) on a vacation we took to Savannah, GA ruth greg and celine in the 70’s.

The book she sent is the ABC of Gourmet Cooking that she got as a present from a close family friend back in 1963. The book is copyrighted in 1956. She selected the Quiche Lorraine recipe for me to make. She says she has made it (and many variations of it) many, many times throughout the years.

Q is for quiche

(Click on picture to bigify it.)
I was very pleased that she picked a recipe with few ingredients and that looked relatively easy. Plus, I have never made a quiche before!

But before I get to the quiche, I’d like to share the preface with you. I thought it was very encouraging so if you’d like to read it too, click on the picture to see it larger.
I pretty much followed the ingredients exactly with a few exceptions to lighten it up just a tad. I used 2% milk instead of whole and for the Swiss cheese, I used low-fat Swiss cheese for about a third of it (the rest was the whole fat version). I did use my pink piggy microwave bacon cooker, which they didn’t have back then.
ingredientspink pig bacon cooker
Ready for the oven!ready to be cooked
 Cooking in the oven…in the oven
Out of the oven!is it done yet

oops - not cooked
The timer dings. I put a toothpick in the center of the quiche and it comes out clean. I start to cut a slice and liquid oozes out of the top.  It is not done at all. So back in the oven it goes – for another 20 minutes!
When I take it out again, it has totally risen, like a soufflé. I wish I had thought to take a picture because it dropped to half it height within seconds. This time it was ready!!

risen and ready
See how the sides have risen? Oh, you noticed that some of the crust was missing? That was me “checking” that the crust was finished. Hee, hee!

farmer's market
Earlier in the morning, I went to the Alamitos Bay Farmer’s Market and got some really fresh, yummy grape tomatoes. I sliced them in half and covered with Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (one of my favorites!) But you won’t see that in the final picture because Karen and I got too hungry waiting for the quiche to finish. The tomatoes became an appetizer as opposed to a side dish!

My 365 picture of all the tomatoes…

I will definitely make this quiche again. It was relatively easy and very, very yummy. And it made a lot! let's eat

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My last Stoneybrook Book Club Meeting

suppliesSo, the cat’s out of the bag. For those of you who didn’t already know, I am moving. To where? Well, that is TBD!! But I am moving out of my condo in January.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Our book for the month was picked by Lora, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. The thing that we all seemed to like best about it was that it was a quick read! But overall, I did like this book and would recommend it, especially if you are in a book club as it gave us a lot to talk about. But then again, we are all talkers.
book club_loraSince it was to be my last book club and some of my neighbors did not know about my move, I decided to make them a little “Celine” gift. If you remember this post here, I had created a design for us to label my door and all my “French” food. I decided to revisit that design and make a Stoneybrook Book Club book mark!

mistakeahhh...this is better
glueFirst I cut the design in half, then printed them on business cards. (This took two tries due to borders.) Then I glued the cards together…punched a hole in them…and tied a piece of yarn through the hole.
pompomsLastly, to jazz it up and make it even more Celine-like, I added a handmade pompom from the same yarn and threaded it through the hole as well.

finishedI think everyone really liked them. And now when they are reading their next book club selection, they can think of me when they mark their page.
cakeAlso, I made a cake for Kate’s birthday. She had told me previously that her favorite is German chocolate so I made a four-layer one. (It was all made from scratch- no canned frosting for this gal!) YUMMY!!

Kate has a nursing degree so she did not blow out the candles but instead extinguished each flame with her fingers. We all thought she was odd until she explained that by blowing out the candles, one is essentially blowing their germs all over the cake. Ugh! I had never thought of that before but will from now on whenever someone blows out candles.
candlesPat, Patti, Karen, Lora, Kate, and Leslie: I will miss our little book club.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A week of parties–Langston & Lightning McQueen

cake panThe last time I was in Nashville visiting my nephews, I made a promise to Langston that I would make him a Lightning McQueen rainbow cake for his birthday.

So the Friday after Thanksgiving, I had the boys all to myself.  All three of us made the cake together. I wish I had some pictures to show you because it was all so cute (and so professional!) cars colorsDesmond, who is only three, cracked his egg without getting any shell in the mixture. (Langston and I only got a tiny bit of shell in the mixture but we got it all out.) We followed all the directions to the letter and then Langston decided on the colors. We had special Wilton Lightning McQueen colors but tried to use very little of them per instructions from their mother. She prefers that their food be as natural and organic as possible.

Langston is a pretty easy going guy so he was okay with the colors being muted. We chose three colors plus the uncolored batter, which was yellow. And then we just plopped all the colors inside the pan with
cake slices a spoon. I wish I had taken a picture before it went in the oven or even more pictures of the slices. The colors were orange, seafoam green, dark yellow and then the light yellow batter. If you look really hard you can see the blue in the slice I’m holding.

We decided to let it cool overnight and then frost the next day. I made a basic buttercream frosting and then came the fun part. We determined that Langston would be the Director, I would be the Worker and Desmond, who is three, would be the Assistant. They took their jobs very seriously. Langston would refer to the Wilton picture and directions and then direct me which nozzle to use and where each color should be piped. Desmond would get the colors ready for me. Again, we made the colors a lot less vivid than the Wilton picture so that we wouldn’t have to use so much coloring. The main body color was a little harder to pipe as it warmed up so I should have made it in two batches. We worked very quickly as everyone was waiting for us to finish so that they could eat it and open presents.

I used a new piping bag filling technique that you can see here. plastic trickBasically, the frosting goes into saran wrap, then you fold it over in to a pouch. You grab each end and sling it around until the ends become really tight and can be fed into the piping bag. (It’s much easier to understand if you watch the link.) This is the best tip I’ve ever had for frosting. I only had to use one piping bag for all those different colors. And it only flew out of my hands once! Eek.

When we finished the top, we decided to write Langston’s name and his age on the sides. We also wrote the number 5 in Cantonese. Langston drew the symbol for me and I copied it.alomst done
We were all very excited when it was finally complete. Desmond even kissed me!kisses-it's done     done
We all gathered around, sang “Happy Birthday” and then Langston made a wish and blew out the candles. Afterwards, he opened all his gifts and then we finally got to enjoy the cake! Many people (I won’t name names) had more than one slice.

  Aren’t they the cutest?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

A week of parties–Thanksgiving

This picture from my 365 Project sums it all up:
So, as I was saying in my last post before I got all caught up with Neely, Ann, and Jennifer (the dolls!!), this year Thanksgiving was celebrated at my little place in Long Beach. We ended up having 14 people, although one didn’t eat at the table with us because he is only 4 month old! table and chairs I borrowed a table and many chairs from two different neighbors. One neighbor emptied out most of her refrigerator and freezer for me to use for the week. I also used a different neighbor’s oven for several dishes when we figured out that the turkey was sitting in an oven that had been turned off an hour earlier! Nothing like a little Thanksgiving turkey drama. menu
I made several copies of the dinner menu for guests to peruse before dinner.
My mother got many compliments from Tinu’s cousins about her cheese ball. We’ve all been making her recipe for years. It’s a family favorite.
She also got raves for a new recipe that she created – Blue Cheese Slaw. I am still trying to get the recipe from her. I hope she remembers how she made it. It was a HUGE hit and the first dish to be finished.
We added several dishes at the last minute so before we added them, we were afraid that we wouldn’t have enough food. Boy were we wrong. There were so many leftovers.
turkeyWe made a 23 pound turkey – well, mostly Jessica and my mother made it. My father did the carving (by hand as he didn’t realize that I had put a electric carving knife right by him – oops! I guess he did it the same way the pilgrims probably did.)
I made chicken a la king using all leftovers but I adapted the turkey a la celinerecipe quite a bit so I am now calling it “Turkey a la Celine”. It was very yummy.
Another hit was my mother’s Out of This World Salad (which is actually in my Joys of Jello booklet!) She insisted on calling it Out of This World Jellied Salad. She makes it every year, usually serving it in a bowl. This year she gave her recipe to Karen, who made it in an original Jello mold. It turned out looking beautiful and tasty.out of this world
As usual, I was so busy that I didn’t take many pictures.  A few of these pictures were taken by Karen and my mom posted some on her blog. She was especially happy that we found mince pie for her so she posted quite a few pictures of pies. 
Here are a few pictures of the food and people enjoying it.eating food
nephews_turkeyI hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving too. My nephews are posing outside my door with a picture that they made for it in honor of our big turkey. Aren’t they so cute?
Whew…only one more party to go…stay tuned!