Like a kid in a toystore

Last week Garry and I checked out Talbot's Toy Land in San Mateo.  Impressive offerings for a relatively obscure (i.e. non-Toys-R-Us) establishment.  I was pretty interested to see how different some of the toys were, like these Karito Kids line that features rather large dolls, each one hailing from a different country and wearing 'modern' outfits.  Yes, what you see in the pictures is a pair of UGG boots on the surfer-chick doll from Australia.  Yuck!

There was also this weird juxtaposition of super-traditional, anti-feminist Barbies to ultra-modern comic book hero action figures for girls.  And of course, Ugly Dolls and SET, my favorite card game!

I appreciated going back in time and seeing some of my favorite toys:
  • Original 1983 Edition My Little Ponies.  I still have Cotton Candy around somewhere.
  • Calico Critters... I had the bunny cotton-tail family I think.
  • Breyer horses.  I always wanted, not just one, but a whole bunch of these gorgeous horse models.  My friend Sara had a whole herd of horses plus the full farm and paddock set-up (I was so envious and thought she was so spoiled).
A nice trip down memory lane.  All we actually bought, though, was a kite for windy days!

PS. I realize this post is ironic in light of the previous post.

Thanksgiving saga: Last of the leftovers

This was the last bit of leftover turkey, from the second Thanksgiving dinner we had with Garry's family, which we used to make... pizza!  I forgot to take a picture of the turkey sandwich I made this afternoon (turkey, cranberry sauce, La Brea Bakery bread, and vegetable tian).

It was not really planned.  Garry had a couple friends who wanted to get In-n-Out but I was like, hey, we have all this stuff in the fridge, and I looked and realized we had everything we needed to make two scrumptious pizzas:

In the Fridge
  • Leftover turkey
  • Cut up broccoli (part of the crudite I was going to serve with my aioli that broke)
  • Canadian bacon (I used part of it to make a quiche, pictures forthcoming)
  • Mushrooms (also from the quiche I made)
In the Freezer
  • Pizza sauce
  • Pepperoni (from the last pizza-making party)
  • Frozen artichokes from TJ's--something I always like to have around
  • Shredded mozzarella, parmesan and crumbled gorgonzola

Ours was very nicely assembled--the only problem was that the mushrooms leeched so much liquid that it came out all watery.  After sopping it up with a paper towel though, it was perfectly tasty: half was turkey/artichoke/broccoli and the other half was canadian bacon/mushroom/broccoli.  

Garry's friends made a monstrosity with all of the above ingredients, plus pepperoni, a sprinkling of gorgonzola and even a stuffed crust on one side!

Thanksgiving saga: The feast!

It was, indeed, a feast for all posterity.  Pretty much everything was top-notch delicious, made tastier by good friends.

Some photo highlights:
  • Wendy basting the turkey with, yes, a syringe!  With Vince looking on.
  • Vince grappling with a newly-dead carp fish.
  • The fish, steamed with ginger and scallions.
  • Scott & G's beautiful vegetable tian.
  • The full spread.
  • Candace's butternut squash risotto.
  • Wendy's turkey with Grace's rich gravy at the ready.
  • Gilbert's virgin attempt at an apple pie--great execution, and very yummy besides (plus his mulled wine was outrageously good).

Thanksgiving saga: Aioli FAIL

I didn't know this was possible, but I broke my aoili yesterday.  I have made this recipe for aioli a bunch of times before with perfect, trembly, buttery-creamy results every time.  This time, I got greedy.  There was a point at which I knew I had added enough oil (lots of really good olive oil too), but I thought, since I was using a jumbo egg yolk, that I could maybe add a bit more.  And a bit more.  So greedy.  I put the aioli to chill overnight.

The next day, I saw that it looked kind of sickly--whitish spots all over it, and sort of "sweating" or oozing oil.  This was not good.  Wendy said it would be fine, but I was unhappy serving less-than-perfect aoili.  I knew I had added more oil than my egg yolk could emulsify.  I thought, maybe I can put it back in the kitchen-aid and add another bit of egg yolk, and it would be fine.

As soon as I started whisking it though, it liquified immediately.  No longer nice and stiff like it had been before--no matter how much I whisked it, it was toast, as they say.  Apparently over-whisking will deteriorate the egg.  It's like the egg had just thrown in the towel and said, "Forget it!  If you are going to abuse me like this, I'm not going to work for you at all." 

I gave up and stopped whisking.  I was so sad.  After letting the mixture sit for a while, all the eggy stuff had floated to the top and the oil was there at the bottom, but it was truly inedible.  Sad.

Thanksgiving saga: My actual cranberry sauce.

I decided on regular sauce because I didn't have a grinder, but to spice it up I cut up a persimmon (they're in season!) and added it to the mixture.  Started with a bit less than 1 c. sugar and 1 c. water.  Added cranberries--after just a few minutes they started splitting or "popping open."  Soon the mixture began to boil in earnest, and the cranberries started breaking down, at which point I helped them along by mashing them against the sides of the saucepan.  

Careful not to over-cook the cranberries.

Thanksgiving saga: Steps to a beautiful eggnog

Man, I'm so sorry I forgot to take pictures of the first two steps.  -__-  I will probably make this again though.  I adapted the recipe from one I found on

1. Warm 4 c. milk in a saucepan with 5 whole cloves (6 if you are feeling sassy), 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon on low heat for 5 min.  Slowly bring to a boil, using a spatula to stir it so the milk doesn't crystallize at the bottom.

2. Separate 12 yolks from their egg whites (okay--or 8-10 if you think using an entire dozen is nutty).  Save the egg whites for later use, like the egg white quiche they sell at Costco now.  Whisk the yolks in a large bowl with about 1.5 c. sugar until "fluffy."  To really get your eggs fluffy, it helps to have a KitchenAid and turn it to the highest speed for a few minutes, and you may even want to throw in an egg white or two.

3. While still whisking the eggs, slowly pour the hot milk mixture in.  You don't want to put the eggs into the milk because they will curdle.  

4. When eggs and milk are fully combined, pour the whole thing back into a saucepan over the stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until the eggs thicken.  Do not allow mixture to boil.  Remove cloves and let mixture cool for an hour.

5. If mixture has formed chunks, use a hand blender to smoothen it.

6. Stir in rum (to taste... up to 2.5 c. if you're an alcoholic and as little as 1/2 c.  I don't recommend going totally alcohol-free because rum really gives this drink a whole 'nother dimension), 3-4 c. light cream or half-and-half, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg.

7. Refrigerate overnight.  This step is key, to allow all the wonderful flavors to meld and work their magic.

I also added pictures of my final cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving Saga : Cranberries

Cranberry sauce is one thing I put myself in charge of this Thanksgiving, and I take my task very seriously.  I bought two separate bags of fresh cranberries.  I was just going to make a crapton of regular sauce (even though people typically don't eat a lot of sauce), but I googled 'cranberry sauce' and the first thing that came up was this interesting-looking recipe for raw cranberry relish.  It sounds dubious (calls for 1 whole orange, pith and all) but I think I really want to try it.

Then I will probably make a batch of regular cranberry sauce too.