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Pamm’s recent visit to her daughter Lisa’s family living in Hong Kong prompted a China night, nudging us just a little out of our cuisine comfort zones, with excellent results!

The special feature of the night was a Peking Duck (from a local Asian market), which we tried our hand at artfully carving after watching a master Asian carver do it on a video.  He was so much better at it than we were.  It LOOKED easy…

The table-scape was simple, featuring bamboo mats and a simple bowl of clementines.  Each of us received a colorful sleeve of chopsticks to take home (and of course there were NO forks on the table!).  Tips from Lisa made our state-side Chinese dinner procedure as authentic as we could feasibly do it, without a round table and lazy susan and a team of chefs serving us.

We all agreed that Chinese cooking is deceptively simple:  not that many ingredients, but LOTS of prep work to do!

Here is our menu and recipes (hyperlinked as they become available):

Keri had to miss this one — enjoying Hilton Head with her girls.


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Click here for food photos.

To introduce us to this theme, Amy wrote:

Aruba, even though in the Caribbean, is far from tropical (if you are thinking green and lush), unless you are on the parts of the islands where the hotels are located, or an irrigated part of the island. It is basically very much desert, with a short rainy season in the fall. However, much of the food has a Caribbean / tropical flair, and even more, a Dutch influence, since it is still under Dutch rule, and has been for years.. Being a highly visited tourist island, there are international restaurants of just about every European country, as well. So – the flavors and choices are overwhelming, but all foods are flown or shipped in, since they raise nothing much on the island (with the exception of aloe, which, to my knowledge is NOT edible!)

Fish is very much featured in Aruban cuisine (says Amy, who gets to go there about every year thanks to a timeshare!), so she made us a beautiful chilean sea bass dish, and we provided the following accompaniments:

Click on the island photo above to see photos of these dishes!

(Pamm missed this one — she was in Hong Kong with her kids.)

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Cindi sippin' Peppermint Wonderful-ness

Once again, THE Christmas party to be at.  This one always boosts the Christmas spirit for all of us, especially since we share it with the hubbies and make a big deal of it.  Keri was in good form (but not such great health — what a trooper!!) and started us off with peppermint cocktails that fogged like a deep lake in December.  (Bubbling Candy Cane: one shot each Godiva White Chocolate Liquer, vanilla rum and peppermint schnapps served with a nugget of dry ice in the bottom of the glass.)

Then on to that exquisite table in the new dining room for a snowscape and candlelight, and SIX dinner courses, with and intermezzo course of homemade cranberry and lemon-ginger sorbets.

Next we adjourned to the winter-wonderland in Keri’s living room for gift swap and our final course of a trio of mini-desserts by Mary, and just a whole lot of laughing.

Click for more pix!

We had planned some shagging lessons, but we were all so stuffed and mellow from the cuisine, we’ll have to re-visit that idea another time.  Enjoy the pictures (click the sorbet picture for more).


*Keri says here’s how:  Layer (in molds/empty soup cans) chopped yellow peppers & fresh parsley; steamed carrots with buttermilk dill dressing; sun dried tomatoes in olive oil; barbequed corn with fresh chives; and steamed asparagus — served with a dollop of the buttermilk dill dressing and a squirt of fresh chive/parsley lemon olive oil.

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german nite – hold

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