Remember the Buddhist Thanksgiving I used to do in Houston? This past weekend, there was a Buddhist Christmas Party. Sort of. There was FOOD. So that makes it a Christmas party to me!
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Merry Christmas! Are you ready for Santa to drop by? Sorry I’m late again. There’s a lot going on. . . .
Snow At The Casa de Rurale!
Ladies and Gentlemen, on Friday, December 8, 2017, we had four inches of SNOW. No kidding. I was happily camped in with a pit bull, a rust-colored mutt and a fussy old cat. BF braved the four mile drive to work and made it home safely. He hates cold weather and absolutely abhors it after waking up in a snowstorm while stationed in Afghanistan many years ago. He was not amused, that’s for sure.
Houston got a half-inch of snow, as did New Orleans, but certainly not the four inches we had. I have a new client up the freeway in Jackson, MS, and we were chatting on Skype about it. This project manager has young daughters who had an absolute blast making snowmen.
The local Baton Rouge news and weather wonks called it “Sneaux Day 2017.” (“Sneaux?” It’s a thing, I suppose.) So glad I stocked up on chocolate almond milk the weekend before while I was in New Orleans. It was only supposed to be a freeze, but snow was a gift.
You can see the pictures I took in the two Facebook albums (you don’t need an account, it’s an external link) and the videos I took online. These were taken during the actual snow,, and these were taken the day after. My YouTube snow videos are here, and, yes, I narrate the videos, too. I’m going to use the Shutterfly app soon to get those pictures printed up for the price of shipping. (This one may be an enlargement, too.) It was SO much fun. First time in a long time I’ve made a snowman hood ornament.
The Royal Wedding!
By now you’ve heard that Prince Harry is engaged to American actress Meghan Markle, and their wedding is set for May 19th. Well, he was always the “fun” one, right? Harry has definitely had a little more fun than he should have. . .but this beautiful actress captured his heart. I’ve burned my signs that say Marry Me Harry!
But still BF isn’t excited about a royal wedding. And like me and BF, Meghan is working on Prince Harry to get him healthier. She’s told him he’s got to quit smoking (something I didn’t have to do with BF because he never smoked.) She’s a longtime fan of yoga, partly because her mother is an instructor. I suggested we start doing couples yoga, and I could get a DVD for us. Yeah. . .that went over like the proverbial lead balloon. But I also suggested that we should get in shape for the royal wedding. BF: “Yeah, I’m all over that.” Well, it’s a goal, right?
The day after their engagement, the McCall’s Pattern Company posted on Facebook a pattern for a coat exactly like Meghan’s:
Since the patterns were on sale that day on their website, I ordered it immediately and it arrived a week later (McCall’s 7480, view D, if you’re interested.) I am hoping to go buy fabric to make it after Christmas. This one is unlined, so it should go pretty quick. Not making it white, that’s for sure. I’ll see what Joann’s in Baton Rouge has to offer in coat fabrics. Then I’ll be wearing the coat of the future Duchess of Sussex.
Right away, the company posted the pattern on Facebook so we could all “sew the look.” Someone asked if it was newly designed, or just a coincidence that they had a pattern like the one Meghan was wearing. One of the employees with the social media team at McCall’s answered the question with, “Lucky Coincidence!” I’ll take it. . . .
Ms. Markle wore a very nice beige skirt the next day (under a different coat) that one lady in the private Facebook group for McCall’s patterns has already re-made and is ALREADY WEARING IT. But McCall’s has announced that they are working on a “sewalong” for 2018 with the theme of #royalwedding, with dresses and hats and the like. Let’s see if I can keep up.
The New Star Wars Film
Speaking of the Princes. . . .if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve probably already seen The Last Jedi. But if you didn’t, I won’t spoil it for you. We went to Hammond the day before it opened to run errands, and BF walked right up to a kiosk outside and bought the two tickets. Nice–and we even had assigned seats, apparently.
I’d read a few things online, but not anything that gave away too much. But Princes Harry and William are both fans, and have cameos in the film as First Order (formerly Imperial) Stormtroopers. No kidding. They were visiting the set, and someone said, “hey, you guys wanna be in the film? You can be Stormtroopers!” The Princes were suited up and stood in the film. They’re in the scene where Finn gets captured with a female character, and since they’re both over six feet, they kind of stand out. (Stormtroopers have to be 5’10”.) I saw them. BF didn’t care.
I will also say that it was heartbreaking to see Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, knowing that it’s the last time we’ll see her and her character. (I know, a bit of irony to say that, since she died of cardiac arrest.) Spoiler alert–she does *NOT* die in this film, as some have reported. But in the next film, they’ll address the end of the character’s story arc. They won’t digitally re-create her like they did at the end of Rogue One, or some of the other long-departed characters. I read about this before we saw the film–there is a dedication in the credits that says, “For Our Loving Princess, Carrie Fisher.” And we saw it. Awwww. . . .
Here’s a small spoiler: there is one scene where Chewbacca is very hungry, and he’s about to eat a barbecued bird. It happens to be one of the newest birdie characters with big, puppy-dog eyes, called the Porg. And one Porg stares down the Wookie with those sad eyes, because the Wookie was about to eat one of his friends. Chewbacca was so hungry, but he couldn’t do it. I wanted to give Chewy a hug at that point–he reminded me of BF.
If you love Star Wars, you’ll be thrilled with it. Lots of action, storylines like moving parts, different things going on. Some like it, some hate it, you’ll just have to decide for yourself.
Random Grocery Sightings
I texted this picture to Neighbor E from our local Walmart the other day, but he didn’t respond. I’m guessing he’s enjoying these way too much:
There was a trip through The Fresh Market the other day where I found these:
Yeah. . .I’m all over the French prunes. I’m sure they’re great. . .if you like prunes.
Our Buddhist Christmas Party
Buddhists having a Christmas Party? I suppose I shouldn’t use this term, because, technically, it was our December district meeting. As an “end of the year” celebration, our district leader, who is a Hispanic transplant from LA, made a mildly flavored soup called Pozole, and we all brought some other delicious stuff.
Where has this stuff been all my life? And how did I miss it in TEXAS???
If you’re not familiar with Louisiana “po-boys,” people order them either “dressed,” with lettuce and tomato (some places add pickles, too) or “un-dressed” with just the sandwich and fillings (i.e., fried shrimp, oysters, roast beef, etc.) So what OR did was to offer cabbage, cilantro, radishes and onions (all well chopped) to add to the top:
Oh, Holy Shish Kebab.
We all gobbled some up, and OR is definitely going to have to teach me to make this, especially if she wants me to keep doing the district calendar. (Just kidding!) Seriously, though, she’s on the hook for a cooking lesson here. It’s not a strong flavor, which is why I think BF will like it, cilantro or no. But because I’ve been busy, and cooking a lot of pork and chicken, BF complains that he’s “clucking” and “oinking.” I try hard to feed him well, despite his protests, and sometimes, every dish is “new.” Oh, well.
A quick search brought up this recipe for Pozole, and I may actually try it soon. Like tamales (yum!) OM says it’s “laborious.” Well, after seeing Stephanie O’Dea’s recipe for tamales in the CrockPot, I might try Pozole in it, too. (I haven’t made tamales yet.)
I wonder what he’d say if we were given a fair amount of venison and I cooked a lot of it for him. Oh, wait–would he grow antlers?
The Rest Of The Party
Other folks brought some delicious things, and I made some of Nigella’s delicious Chocolate Christmas Cookies:
I assure you, these are not gluten-free, sugar-free or fat free in any way. They are, however, egg free. I still haven’t found any “Christmas sprinkles,” so I’ll have to order some next year. I mean, I was looking for them in HOUSTON and couldn’t get them. What made me think I could get them here? So, once again, we have the everyday multicolored sprinkles that probably contain every allergen known to man. Oh, well.
Pictures from the rest of our celebration:
We had a great time, and all our Buddhist activities are finished for the year. We’ll start back again on New Year’s Day, and we’ll be back doing our regular activities.
If You’re Jewish
I know a few Jewish folks, but I can’t say that I’m particularly knowledgable on the faith. I know that in kosher cooking, you don’t serve beef with a cream sauce, and that some meat has to be “koshered” using the salt. Some folks keep a “kosher kitchen,” but I don’t know any more than that. I actually use kosher salt, because, well, I learned about it from Martha Stewart, and it’s great stuff. (I explained to BF the other day that if I ask him to get “salt,” kosher is generally what I’m asking for.)
I’d heard stories about Jewish people going out for Chinese on Christmas, because, well, they don’t celebrate Christmas, as a rule, and Hanukkah doesn’t always fall on Christmas Day, either. So, since a Jewish family probably doesn’t have a Christmas Lunch/Dinner, they’ll go out to the only place likely to be open on Christmas: a Chinese restaurant.
You’re probably thinking, “Amy, why are you bringing this up?”
Online magazine Mental Floss published this story on Thursday about why Jewish folks are frequently at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day. I thought it was an interesting read, and wanted to pass it along And, it’s a tradition! Well, here in the US, anyway. And is there ever a bad reason to have Chinese food?
And For A Buddhist
Well, Buddhists in the US can do whatever they want for Christmas Day. As longtime readers know, I have spent many Christmas dinners alone, watching TV (frequently the Doctor Who Christmas specials), cooking and sewing, and maybe having a drink before going to bed. Honestly, I can’t say it was a bad thing.
I did manage to get the Christmas specials DVD for Keeping Up Appearances from the local library a couple of days ago. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Hyacinth!
But for the second year, I’ve got BF. We’ve not decorated the Casa–the decorations are way to hard to get to right now–but we’re going to visit his daughter and his Dad’s place up the road. And maybe we’ll come home and watch TV for a while. I’m not cooking anything, unless I put beans in the CrockPot and let them roll.
I got him a little present, but when I told him not to get me anything, I meant it. If someone goes all out for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc., but then treats you like dirt the rest of the year, who cares?
BF indulges me–like taking me to Mandeville the other night to meet up with a guy who was giving away Meyer lemons from his backyard, because he had way too many. He posted it on Facebook, and said, “come and get ’em!” I thanked him, and set aside some for our neighbor who also loves lemons. We also hit Whole Foods, and I offered to get him something from the cookie bar, but he wanted a milkshake. A quick tap on the phone, and we were at a Sonic. I bought his milkshake for him.
BF will take me nearly anywhere I want to go (although we haven’t made it back to Houston yet) and makes no bones about going to work hours early so I can make a Buddhist activity in New Orleans or Mandeville. He takes me to Starbucks, even though he doesn’t agree with their, um, CEO’s spoutings. (I don’t either, but you know I love to go.) If we’re in Hammond for an errand, there’s a stop at Starbucks–especially if there’s a double star day during a star dash.
You can’t box that and put a ribbon on that, you know? So, yeah, I don’t mind if he doesn’t get me a “Christmas present.”
So when he’s off, I let him sleep in like the grizzly bear he is, and don’t bother him much. (When he wakes up is a different matter.)
If you’re alone this Christmas, do whatever it takes to enjoy it, whether it’s watching TV, making some delicious food, or even heading out to your local Starbucks for some food. I know the ones in Houston were open, but I’m not sure about the ones here in LA. Whatever you do, don’t sit around and brood about “being alone on Christmas.” It’s OK, I’ve done it. Getting together with some other folks in the same predicament would also be a good thing. And then there’s volunteering.
Merry Christmas To One And All
From the Casa de Rurale in Central Louisiana, I raise a glass and hope everyone has a great Christmas, whatever you’re doing. I am hoping to have more interesting subjects to write about in the new year. (Have you found your new “diet” yet?) I’ll be back soon.
Evening, Fellow Foodies:
I found out this evening that as part of Taco Bell’s new menu, they have dessert. Not only do they have dessert, they have one that looks fantastic: The Cookie Sandwich. Holy Shish Kebab. My bar buddy brought Taco Bell tonight, and while we drank white zin (him more than me) I had the chicken Cantina Bowl, and he had a couple of tacos and two of these. Surprising, because he doesn’t eat a lot, and he had two–AND he didn’t offer me one! That’s OK–I’m glad, because I know I would end up driving to Taco Bell and getting them through the drive-up window after one sugar-loaded taste. I will also tell you that the ones he had contained twice the vanilla filling you see here. They’re about the size of the palm your hand, but the cookies are thick. OMG–if I really need dessert, I’ll be heading that way to get me one. Maybe two. And you have to admit, they do look interesting.
Two food-related stories from today’s Wall Street Journal today–one on the ubiquitous bread basket served in many restaurants, and are either disappearing or cut back.Some restaurants have artisan bread, some come up with new bread creations, regularly to show off their creativity, and some have cult followings, like Cheddar Bay Biscuits at Red Lobster. They cost–especially the butter part. But as one expert points out, eating white flour on an empty stomach, which is how it usually goes, is like eating sugar from the sugar bowl–and will cause an insulin spike. I try to avoid it myself, because I know I can’t stop eating it. And you fill up with bread or chips before dinner–bad idea. Some bring it with dinner, some bring bread only on request. Whatever your feeling on bread before/with dinner, you can see the video here.
About four years ago, we had a restaurant in Houston called Bailey’s American Grill, and they had the most delicious pre-dinner nibbles ever. They had these little cheesy biscuits with bits of prosciutto in them, and a couple of others I can’t remember, all freshly baked. An experience in and of itself. I went with a supper club from work and it was fantastic, three kinds of nibbles! Two weeks later, my brother was in town, and that’s where we went to dinner. Worth the trip, I tell ya. I told him about the great “nibbles,” but he said something else in a fake hick voice I won’t repeat. I can’t take him anywhere, and in the car on the way back to my place, I called Mom to complain about his behavior (while he called his wife on his cell.) Suddenly, about 2 years later, Bailey’s American Grill closed suddenly for no reason. Shame–I was hoping to go back again one day.
So the other bit of WSJ news for Twinkie fans is that Apollo Global Management LLC and Metropoulis & Co. are offering $410M for most of Hostess’ brands–yes, Dolly Madison, Ding Dongs, HoHos, and even the incredible Twinkies.
All this for a line of junk food. No kidding. But it’s also a big, creamy, sweet piece of Americana. We only do this in America, right? What a country. . . .
The deal they are working will set up a “floor price” at a bankruptcy auction for some of the well-known assets–the aforementioned brands, five bakeries, and “certain equipment.” I’m guessing that’s proprietary stuff that makes Twinkies so special. It’s called a “stalking horse bid,” which this chef wannabe has never heard of, but it has to do with Hostess’ bankruptcy auction they are planning for Mach 13th. . .an odd day for an auction, but OK.
It was previously reported that Mexico-based bakery Bimbo (pronounced BEEM-bo) would likely be the new owners, but, well, it doesn’t say that here. Also, there are a total of interested 9 parties bidding on either pieces of the Hostess pie or the whole enchilada (puns intended, I’m a foodie, darnit.) I’m guessing Bimbo is one of them.
They need to get a move on. Although you can still buy remaining Hostess Twinkies on eBay for varying prices, they will eventually go away, and people will remember them fondly but not buy them anymore–or at least be skittish about the new ones. There will be push-back from purists, no doubt. Competitors are fighting for that shelf space that Hostess used to have, and people may eventually get used to something else. Then when you say “Twinkies,” the response will be, “who cares?”
This eBay seller has a recipe for Twinkies that she claims will sell out, but why the heck she’s feeding one to a beautiful kitty cat, I’ll never know. Cats aren’t supposed to eat that kind of stuff. Well, neither are humans, but humans can handle it better than felines.
Apparently you could, at one time, buy a Twinkie kit from Hostess–sure enough some are for sale, this being the cheapest (there are actually three for sale.) And as I reported to you previously, you can also buy a kit on Amazon.com that you can use to bake Twinkies on your own.
So as I predicted (like a lot of other people) Twinkies will be coming back, maybe even sooner than you think. Sit tight, America–you’ll have your Twinkies again, maybe even this year if they can get the legal wrangling finished. (Note: that’s speculation on my part.) Cross your fingers and pray that Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, and Dolly Madison treats come back to your convenience store shelves soon.
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