Friday, December 30, 2011

Eleven Fun Memories from 2011

2011 has been a very busy year full of highs and lows.  

We had some unhappy times, such as when our house got broken into, as well as when someone tried to steal my car from my work parking lot.  I had to give up on being Suzy Homemaker in order to manage full-time work and school.

We also had some awesome memories, and these are just eleven of them ...
We went vegan for a week!
Italian Dinner Party with Friends
We went back to NY for a week
We threw my Dad a surprise 70th Birthday Party
We had some new friends over for a wine and cheese party
I hosted my sister's bridal shower
Hubby's Half Ironman in Calgary - Great Weekend
Folk Festival
Best Camping Trip EVER
Three Awesome Weddings!
Trip to Vegas

Things are happening in my kitchen this evening.  I am prepping for the last day of 2011 ...

I have a feeling we will make even more good memories tomorrow, especially since we are having both breakfast and dinner with friends.

Tell me one (or more) of your favourite memories from 2011!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Cleaning Time!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

We spent Christmas eve with my family.  I made a giant ham, cabbage rolls, perogies, veggies and dessert and then after dinner we opened a few gifts and played Scattegories.  

Christmas morning was spent with the hubby at home, and it was really nice.  Since the hubby is an early riser on Christmas morning we were at his parent's home by about 10:30 (his Christmas morning excitement is worse than a child's ;-)).  We had brunch there, and then later dinner at his aunt's house.

Turkey Dinner on Christmas Day                     

On Boxing Day we drove to Saskatoon to visit my mom, grandma, and other relatives.  We spent two nights in Saskatoon.  One meal highlight was dinner at Saigon Rose.  I had the curried chicken soup.

We got home today, and our friends invited us over for dinner :-)  We have now had dinner with friends or family six days in a row, which makes me really happy.

I was surprised with some wonderful Christmas gifts this year, which means it is time to purge.  I have more than I need, and therefore I need to go through my belongings and send some things over to the outreach center in my city.  Tomorrow the hubby and I are doing a major winter-cleaning/purging.

I have to make room for this cute cookie jar:

How was your Christmas?  Was Santa good to you?  
Do you need to do a winter-cleaning?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  
Have a fabulous weekend with your loved ones.

Tonight my family is coming over for a beautiful ham dinner - Can't wait!

Hehe, cookie had it coming.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Will NOT ...

Be sick for Christmas.  No no no.


I have had a sore throat for the last couple days, and have been losing my voice.  Other than that, I feel fine.  No cough and no sniffles, and I plan to keep it that way!

I am officially on 2 weeks of holidays and I started them off with a massage, and some last minute shopping.  Tonight is sushi dinner with friends, and a gift-wrapping party with the hubby :-)  We have to get ready for an early Christmas at our house tomorrow evening with my family. 

How did you spend your Friday before Christmas?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday Dinner Surprise

Our friends Dalton and Emma gave us a shout Monday after work inviting us to come over and help them eat the giant salmon filet they bought.  It was a nice surprise to have dinner and a visit with good friends on a Monday night, and a great start to the week.

We ate the salmon with a fabulous mixture of vegetables.  


My darling friend Emma also sent me home with a giant bowl of homemade chicken soup, loaded with herbs, greens, and flavour which were so perfect for fighting off the cold that is trying to get me.  My Green Monster breakfast (smoothie with 3 cups spinach, almond milk, 1/2 banana, tsp cocoa, tsp vanilla) and that chicken soup, along with numerous anti-cold pills should do the trick.  I refuse to get sick!

How is your week going so far?  
Do you have much left to do before Christmas?

I only have two work days left before two weeks off - woot woot!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two Family Dinners

On Saturday morning we went to a Karen New Years celebration.  I have taught a lot of students from Burma and each year I get invited to their New Years celebration and feast.  The food, which is like Thai food, is incredible.  The people are so inviting and friendly and a joy to be around.

Saturday evening we got to enjoy another incredible meal at the hubby's aunt Charmain's house.

We had Boursin and prosciutto wrapped bread sticks, as well as cheese and olives to start.

The main course included numerous dishes, including bread with olive oil and vinegar that his aunt brought back from Naples.


The hubby's aunt is a great hostess and we always love when we get an invite for dinner at her place.

This evening we hosted a family dinner.

We started with Italian wedding soup.

This was followed by linguine and meatballs, with fresh noodles and an Emeril Lagasse sauce.

Dessert was pretty gorgeous - a cinnamon roll cake.  

The batter was ridiculous ...


Close up ...

Cooked and ready for glaze ...


 Still warm and ready to eat ...

The hubby loved this but it wasn't my favourite.

How was your weekend?  What was the highlight?
What do you have planned for this last week before Christmas?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


By now most of you have probably heard of umami, the scientifically proven fifth taste.


Umami can best be described as savoury deliciousness, with its flavour due to in part to the amino acid glutamate. Umami was discovered in 1908 by a Japanese scientist, who wanted to uncover the source of deliciousness in dashi stock (made with kelp).  He isolated glutamate and coined the term umami to describe its distinct taste.  In the 1980s umami, found in glutamate, was scientifically accepted as the fifth taste.

Umami increases salivation, palatability, and reduces the need for salt. It has been referred to as the "perfect quality" in taste, or the reason you describe a particular meal as the "best thing I have ever tasted."

If you haven't heard of umami, you most likely have heard of MSG, which is a chemical flavour enhancer used to add glutamate to dishes.  Although the glutamate in MSG and umami is the same, umami is a natural taste, just like sweetness and bitterness, whereas MSG is artificial.

Foods with natural umami include, but are not limited to:
  • Parmesan cheese (cheese is umami in general, but Parmesan in particular because it's low water content allows for concentrations of glutamate which are visible - ever notice those small white crystals in parm?  Umami at its finest and highest levels).
  • Egg (especially yolk)
  • Soy
  • Fermented foods
  • Beef (especially aged beef, like jerky)
  • Pork (bacon anyone?)
  • Chicken (chicken bones are packed with it - may be why chicken soup is so comforting)
  • Mushrooms (both mushrooms and tomatoes appeal to our taste for protein, thus making good meat substitutes)
  • Tomatoes (add parm and you have a real kicker!)
  • Truffles
  • Potatoes (including potato chips)
  • Many sea foods
Some restaurants are catering to everyone's love for umami, and I hope to make it to one of these places in my travels: Umami Burger (LA, with one opening in NY late 2012), Umami (San Fransisco).  


Until then, I will have to make my own umami dishes at home, and this stuff might help:

It is like natural MSG, adding pure umami deliciousness to any food I desire.  I picked it up while traveling in April but have yet to try it.   

The ingredient list includes: tomato paste, garlic, anchovy paste, black olives, balsamic vinegar, porcini mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar and salt.  

What is your ultimate umami dish?  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


After a weekend of eating junk the hubby and I were craving some one-ingredient foods.  
Summer squash and salmon for instance ...

As much as I love cheesy dips and other munchies, a plate of fruit and green tea is sometimes all that I crave.  My body does a really good job of telling me what it needs and when it needs it.  Balance is most important.  I can tell instantly when something in my life is out of balance.  A few weeks ago the work/play aspect of my life was out of balance, but luckily that is much better now that I am done classes.

The hubby asked if we could eat some vegetarian meals this week, and of course I said yes!  We had a hippie bowl this evening and tomorrow we are having sweet potato burritos.

Do you feel that your life is currently in balance?  
What, if anything, is off balance in your life right now?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Party

Last night we hosted our annual Christmas party.  We spent Friday evening prepping so that Saturday was a breeze.  The house was decorated, the food was pretty much ready to go, and I even had time to curl my hair.


The hubby and I poured a drink before our friends started to arrive.

We greeted our guests with cranberry orange sparklers (1 cup cranberry cocktail, 1/3 cup Cointreau, equal parts sparkling wine and ginger-ale).

Then ... we ate ... and ate.  


We also did a little gift exchange game that is a Christmas party tradition at our house.  I bought a ukelele kit complete with ukelele for $22 at Costco - I thought it was an amusing gift :-)  I ended up with some artisan beer <3.

We were up very late last night, but we slept in for the first time in ages, and then the hubby made breakfast with mimosas.  He made my bacon just how I like it - SUPER crisp.  If it can't snap, it is not done.

We spent the day Christmas shopping, watching movies, and just hanging out (while eating some junk).

What a great weekend!

What was the highlight of your weekend?
How do you like your bacon - soft, crisp, super crisp?
What is your favourite Christmas movie?