I’ve been working on goal # 14 of my Bucket List, which is basically aimed at my feeling more comfortable with my cooking skills. I have conquered a handful of dishes, although I surely tried many more. Just in case my friends (who know I am not a kitchen queen) don’t believe me, here’s proof. Below are some of my tryouts accompanied by a very brief outcome report. You will notice that some of the dishes are very simple; my aim is not to become a gourmet cook, but to be able to create family meals by mastering certain dishes and being able to recreate them time and again with the same quality and flavoring. Since I am being very picky as to accept any dish into my mastered list, I am also giving myself credit for every single dish I conquer, no matter how simple 🙂
Tag Archives: Food
In our home, I like to make birthdays very special for each person. Usually this means spreading a few activities throughout the week of the person’s birthday, in order to keep the celebration going a bit longer. The most recent one to enjoy this special treatment was Karla. On the day of her birthday she had birthday cookies to bring to school, cupcakes to share at daycare, and a birthday dinner with her dad and brother at a restaurant of her choosing. The birthday gifts, cards, and calls from family and friends spanned for a few days. During the weekend she had a costume party at home, with guests mostly consisting of school mates. I thought an appropriate way to top off the celebration was taking her out on one of our special one-on-one outings we call Special Dates.
She wanted to watch the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill. I usually wait until movies are showing at the discount movie theater to bring my kids – movie tickets are ridiculously expensive nowadays, but seeing this was a special occasion we headed to the matinée at the Providence Place Mall cinema.
Providence Place Mall is right at the heart of Downtown Providence. It’s establishment was part of the renaissance period the city went through beginning in the early to mid 90’s. Another icon of this period, Waterfire, is right across from Providence Place. The Mall is considered upscale, and it is home to about 180 stores, including several restaurants. Some of the companies showcased include Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Coach, The Apple Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Sephora, J. Jill, Ross-Simons, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Dave & Buster’s among others.
After having a good laugh at the movies, we had lunch at the food court. The agreed upon restaurant: Johny Rockets! Here we ordered a couple of burgers and fries and we shared a delish strawberry milkshake.
Since a trip to the mall is not complete without some retail therapy, I took her to Claire’s, a somewhat affordable accessories store with a juvenile theme. She picked out some gloves and hair accessories and we were good to go.
I have come up with a very fun way to help me accomplish goal #4 on my bucket list, by scheduling one-on-one time with each of my kids; when we go out for fun, talk about them and whatever wonderful things are occupying their minds at the moment. We call these outings Special Dates. I document some of those dates here, hoping as time goes by, that the memories will be “officially” preserved. On this occasion, thanks to a Groupon I snatched a couple of months ago, my daughter and I were delighted to indulge our love for breakfast foods, by visiting The Breakfast Place in nearby Attleboro, MA. Sunday brunch, that’s gotta be my favorite meal ever; and in such good company it just fills me with joy. This cute little breakfast joint has a 60s air to it, and they play the oldies, which I believe Karla enjoyed. Their service is great; it seems to be family operated and they really give you the special touch treatment; making you feel very welcomed. The little lady and I spoke about the new school year and reuniting with friends, over a veggie omelette, with wheat toast for me, and scrambled eggs with a chocolate chip pancake for her. We also shared an order of french toasts, which by the way, were the best I’ve had in a long time. The servings were generous and we could not finish our meals so we took our leftovers to go. Karla liked it so much she plans to ask her dad to bring her back soon.
We then headed towards Roger Williams Park in Providence in order to cross off the last spot on my list of places to visit within the park, The Botanical Center. I must say this is a beautiful and serene garden; I think it will be my new favorite spot to sit and relax while reading a book. My princess also commented on how pretty and peaceful it was; she also enjoyed snapping pictures of the flowers and mom, among other things.
As many of you know, I visit a Nutrition Center where, in addition to having a healthy meal, I get to socialize with a group of friends. This has become a part of my daily routine I happily look forward to, as it is a moment for me to unwind, and just enjoy mindless chit-chat.
At the nutrition club I met my friend Mack, who is originally from Cambodia and has lived in the States for many, many years. Recently, I was very surprised when one day after work I went to the club and found Mack seating at a table with two Buddhist Monks who were wrapped up in bright orange robes. Being the curious creature I am, my rear end promptly found a seat right at their table, and after being introduced to the Monks by Mack, my brain started formulating all sorts of questions, which they kindly answered. For your benefit, I am posting all my new found knowledge about Buddhist Monks right here (you can thank me later :).)
Ok, so I didn’t gather all the profoundly spiritual information you might be expecting. I went for the most basic stuff like: You have a cell phone!!! Are you kidding me? A Buddhist Monk with a smart cell phone, which by the way is much smarter than mine??? Apparently, although they are required to make a vow of material detachment, these rules were made long ago, so naturally cell phones were not contemplated because they didn’t exist, thus cell phones are not against the rules – bet you didn’t know that! Other things I learned:
- Monks should not touch females; although if they “resign” from being a Monk they can get married and will be accepted without being frowned upon.
- They can’t eat after noon; however, they are allowed to drink. That is why Mack had the brilliant idea to invite them to the club for a protein shake.
- More likely than not, someone from the community prepares meals for them since their time is thought to be better spent in prayer and meditation rather than cooking.
- They are encouraged to pursue lifelong learning.
I am of the Christian faith; and my curiosity in the Buddhist Monks was mostly cultural. I believe in learning about, and taking an interest in, people in general, and I try to teach this to my kids as well. Of course, you know once I found out that their temple was right in one of the nearby neighborhoods, a visit was promptly planned .
I had driven by the area many times without noticing that one of the houses was actually a Buddhist Temple! My son came with; together, along with other members of the community, we sat on the floor while the Monks had their lunch. They kindly let us try some of the food, including some dry semi-sweet meat, and some ripe plantains in a light green sauce for dessert. Mack was also at the temple on the day of my visit and he gave Aleck and I a mini tour of the place. My boy was so curious about this whole new culture for him. It was a good experience, he got to greet the head monk, Sochettra, as well as sit on his special chair. Also, my son was asked to join a Cambodian language class thought at the temple on weekends; Aleck is excited about the idea. Later that day, I received a text message from Sochettra thanking us for our visit.
My shot was for a laid back weekend, and cooking some dinner for a few close friends. Must say, I was very pleased with the results, which included spending time with friends (#16 on my list), furthermore decluttering my apartment (# 23 on my list), and cooking Chofán for the 2nd time – if I may, let me brag about mastering this dish 🙂 ( #14 on my list).
It was a casual Sunday Evening; conversation over dinner with a few dear friends, and of course a good selection of music playing on the background. The occasion was Yadira and Leona’s Birthday, for which Pezuzu made a delish Pina Colada cake, yumms and thumbs up to Pezuzu for making the cake in such a short notice.
I am starting to gain more confidence in my cooking skills; the more I cook the better I feel about it. Plus it helps when guests rave about the meal and ask to take the leftovers home!
Disclaimer: I am not an alcoholic; not a regular drinker either. I hardly ever drink alcohol, and when I do, it is usually 1 or 2 drinks the whole night. Glad we got that out-of-the-way 🙂
Now to My Progress Report
Last week I posted a poll asking readers what their favorite cocktail was, and the results are in:
* Piña Colada snatched the first place
* Closely followed by the Martini (in different variations)
* Honorable mention goes to a glass of water (love it!)
For all of you Piña Colada lovers, here’s Paula Dean’s recipe:
- Ice cubes
- 1/2 cup rum
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup pineapple chunks
- Sliced pineapple, for garnish, optional
- Maraschino cherry, for garnish, optional
Fill blender halfway with ice cubes. Add rum, coconut cream, coconut milk and pineapple chunks. Puree.
Serve, garnished with a slice of pineapple and maraschino cherry, if desired.
On # 14 Mastering a Few Signature Dishes:
No new dishes have been mastered as of yet, but have been cooking more often and am close to mastering Steak with Onions, Fried Okra, Yellow Rice with Corn, and Sautéed Pork Chops (Dominican Style)
On # 24 Exploring RI from A to Z:
I crossed off visiting the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium at Roger Williams Park. The visit lasted about 2 hours; of which the Planetarium show took about one hour. The price was right at $3 per person, including the show.
I will recommend this for a family outing with kids 4 and up; younger children aren’t allowed in the Planetarium show.
As I had a long weekend coming up, I decided to jot down some action items to tackle in order to advance on my list. Here are the results:
Having Fun (#33)
definitely accomplished this one by going to the Go Karts, where I took the slippery track for the first time and laughed with all of my lungs; also played in the arcade there. Watched a couple of movies, and surprisingly I liked both (not Oscar material but fun to watch): No Strings Attached and The Adjustment Bureau. Enjoyed the company of a few good friends; special thanks to Antonia for giving me my first gel manicure. Lastly, went to Karaoke Night at a local bar with a few friends. No, I didn’t sing, but I danced; plus during this outing I took care of my next item.
Crossing One Goal off My List
Fulfilled Item #37 by Having a Martini during Karaoke night. I am far from being a cocktail expert; tend to stick to Margaritas and Wines when it comes to alcoholic beverages. However, I’ve always been curious about Martini’s since characters such as James Bond make it look so glamorous, so I ordered one. Did not love it – too dry for my taste. Mine was garnished with a lemon wedge which was a surprise. I asked the waitress about the olive and she replied that they only put the olive in Dirty Martinis; and they also serve an Apple Martini. I had no clue. Sipped it very slowly; that was the only drink (other than water) I had all night.
Work on # 23 – Getting Organized
I was shooting for making some order out of the piles of paperwork resting on my desk table, and bookshelf, which I did not get to. However, I made some progress on de-cluttering, as well as tackling some neglected household chores. Not bad at all. Big shout out to Kiara for helping me with this; that’s true friendship I tell you 🙂
Knock out One Rhode Island spot from #24
Didn’t Get to this one.
Cook Something! (#14)
Mastering a few Signature Dishes is one of my goals into which I have put little effort. The truth is I hadn’t done some real cooking for almost 2 months. So this weekend I was supposed to master Moro de Habichuelas Rojas (Rice with Red Beans) and Bistec Encebollado (Steak with Onions). The bad news is that I do not have this one under my belt yet. The good news is that I did cook it and it was decent; I just want to fine tune my personal sazón on this dish a bit more.