Wednesday, September 28, 2011

25 years ago today...

....Rich whisked me off to San Diego and proposed marriage at George's at the Cove restaurant in La Jolla! We actually went by plane - it was a short but fun ride. As we went through security at LAX, my engagement ring in his pocket (which happened to be in a metal box) triggered the metal detector and Rich had to discreetly show it to the security officer... I kind of already knew what was going on and that it was "the day" but that was the clincher. :-) We had an exquisite meal at George's and after a long and sentimental expression of his love, he handed me the ring. I just looked at him and finally he remembered, "oh yeah, will you marry me?" As you well know the answer was a resounding "yes!"

We've been back to George's a few times over the years - most recently at our 20 year anniversary in which we stayed at the amazing Lodge at Torrey Pines (a beautiful craftsman style resort which went on to inspire our living room and all our pine cone light fixtures outside). We decided, on the 25th anniversary of the day this year, to go down and spend the day in San Diego and have dinner there once again. Due to my pending jury duty service, we were able to get away Monday and it was a delightful time.

The plan was to first hit one of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for lunch. We had been to Hodad's in Ocean Beach once before - getting take out while we were camping several summers ago in San Diego with the Tubbs. It was so busy when we went that time, that I think it took 45 minutes to get our burgers! This time, we decided to get the full experience and dine inside the restaurant.


Their specialty is really their bacon burger. They don't just lay slices of bacon across the burger either, like most you've seen. They make actual thick bacon "patties" which are as big as the burger. In the picture below, it looks like there are two patties on the burger, but one is really just the bacon layer! I love it that they serve "frings" (half fries/half onion rings) and we were sure to order some real Cokes to go with. The burgers are good, but I can't say that they make my top 3 list of burgers (In my opinion, the Apple Pan, Pie 'n Burger, and Bob's Big Boy still rule).

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Check the place out! I am pretty sure this one falls under the category "dives."

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I convinced Rich to sit at the table that was fashioned out of a hacked off VW Microbus! So fun!

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It is very hard to get your mouth around this burger! See the bacon layer?

After stuffing ourselves, we decided to park the car and take a walk around Mission Bay. The weather was so delightful that we ended up sitting on a park bench for over an hour just watching the sailboats on the bay. It was just so pleasant! We then headed over to La Jolla and drove to a vista point that had panoramic city views, grabbed an iced tea at Starbucks, visited some seals at the beach, and drove around some charming yet stunning neighborhoods in La Jolla. We arrived at our anticipated dinner destination around 6:00 p.m.

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Goofy self portrait.

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We had fun watching the seals! They were so entertaining. When a wave would come, they'd arch their backs, and put up their heads and tails for leverage.

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Do you see this cutie? I love the way he looked right into the camera!

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One of the amazing homes we drove by.

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Beautiful gate. Would have loved to have seen the estate behind it!

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So much charm!

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Finally, time for dinner! George's has three levels - we like the "California Modern" level downstairs. They gave us a beautiful ocean front table and a complimentary bottle of artisan olive oil as a gift in honor of our celebration. They do things right here.

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We began by sharing this gorgeous ceviche appetizer.

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This was my entree! Isn't it breathtaking? Seared rare tuna over carrot-miso puree, spectacular veggies mixed with fresh ginger and a tangerine butter. Definitely one of the most appealing and delicious plates I've ever been served. Almost too beautiful to eat. But no worries, I ate every bite.

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Here's Rich's entree - a tender braised lamb shank over corn risotto, roasted squash, and a feta salsa verde. Amazing dish as well. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and ultra-flavorful due to the braising. And the risotto was done right.

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Boy am I glad my dinner entree was so nice and light. Here's our killer dessert. Fresh, warm cinnamon-sugar encrusted yeast donuts with four different dipping sauces: deep chocolate infused with orange, espresso caramel, mascarpone whipped cream, and chocolate hazelnut mousse. They were all incredible. Fried dough with cinnamon is pretty much my favorite thing on earth, so these sure floated my boat! This was paired with a most delicious cup of coffee - divine. Seriously one of the best things I've ever eaten.

I am so grateful for the beautiful day we could get away and celebrate our marriage - we have much to celebrate as God has blessed us so richly. And, I am infinitely more grateful for the man God has given me to spend every day of my life with. After 25 years, I can truly say I love and appreciate Rich more and more with each passing day, and after all these years, I can recognize in a deeper way what a gracious gift from God he is. There's no one I'd rather have by my side than him. Blessed.

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Here we are September 28, 1986 - I think I'm trying to show off the rock!

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25 years later on September 26, 2011

Rich wanted me to mention that my hair hasn't changed a bit, but that his has :-)


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Friday, September 23, 2011

Easiest Homemade Bread ever!

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Don't think you can make this bread? You can, and in just 5 minutes a day!

Remember the bread machine craze? I remember Rich taking me to some warehouse out in Woodland Hills to get a refurbished DAK machine, oh probably almost 20 years ago. It was a beast and took up half the kitchen! The funny thing about it was, that it made a tall round loaf (I think the later models made rectangular ones which made more normal looking sandwich slices). The machine was actually a lot of fun to use, though. I particularly enjoyed the "dough cycle" setting, where the machine would do all the work for you, then you could use the dough it as you wish. Some of my favorite things to make were crescent rolls, pizza dough, and cinnamon rolls.

Well, eventually, the bread machine quit and I never replaced it. Sometime after that I got a KitchenAid mixer, and I tried to make bread a few times in that. However, I always sensed that the KitchenAid wasn't quite up to the task (I don't have the heavy duty one). Maybe it was the smell of what seemed like the poor overworked motor burning up that caused me to set aside breadmaking, but I just kind of stopped making dough and bread completely.

The situation was so dire that I had turned to Trader Joe's for my pizza dough and Costco for La Brea breads...I needed help.

Enter in, this little miracle book:

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My sister had told me that a girlfriend of ours had been using the method in this book with great success. She tried it as well, and raved, so I decided to give it a try myself. I checked the book out of the library, and felt quite skeptical as I read. All you do is mix flour, yeast, oil and salt (no kneading), stick it in a container, and refrigerate. Any time that you want to bake bread, you tear off a chunk (1 lb. of dough), rise it on the counter for 40 minutes, and bake. I had to try it. It was about 9:00 at night and I was in my pajamas but I got myself up off the sofa and made the dough (you have to let it sit on the counter for 2 hours first) and put it in the fridge. The dough needs to sit in the fridge at least overnight before first using it. So, I got up bright and early the next day, put my bread out to rise (it takes 40 min.) and baked it for breakfast. I will not tell you how much of the loaf I ate. (OK, half.) Anyways, it was SO amazing. I could not believe how easy it was, and how good it tasted.

I will let you know that you need a baking stone for this method. I have an old trusty, well-seasoned Pampered Chef one that I make pizza on all the time. Also, since you preheat the stone in the oven, you are supposed to rise your bread on a pizza peel and slide it on to the preheated stone. I don't have a peel so I just use parchment paper - it does the job perfectly. I simply place the dough, on the parchment, right onto the hot stone. After baking, you simply pull the parchment away and discard.

And, do you want to know what the greatest thing is? The batch makes enough dough for four loaves, and stays up to two weeks in your refrigerator. And, the dough gets better with each passing day. When the dough is gone, you don't even wash the container out! You just add the new dough batch to the remnants as they act like a sourdough starter would, giving the dough more flavor.

The book is full of all kinds of recipes. You can make pizza dough, foccacia, wheat bread, and even sticky pecan rolls with the many different doughs and recipes. Everything I've tried this far has been amazing. After such success, I decided I needed to buy this book and keep it forever. I also discovered that the authors have a second book, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.
So,I got that one too. I can't tell you how seldom I buy cookbooks but these are keepers. I cannot wait to try all the whole grain recipes. Who knows, maybe I'll even blog about them! :-) I can't wait for the cooler fall weather so I can make some soup and more of this yummy homemade bread.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hey Holly...

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Here's Holly & me... don't we look like dear old friends? Actually, this photo was taken on the first day that we ever met! Holly is a friend of my longtime friend, Tracy, and has been stalking reading my blog for awhile. She once recognized me at Disneyland - but instead of coming up and introducing herself, she called Tracy and gushed "I think I just saw the E-wife!! Find out if she's at Disneyland today!!" Anyways, it's been fun to have a fan and recently we finally got to meet in person. It truly did feel like we were already great friends when we met. Through Tracy, I know Holly is a godly woman and and I look forward to getting to know her better. I thought she'd blush a bit if she actually saw herself on my blog!! So, here's to you, Holly! Thanks, Tracy for the pic!

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Good Reads

This summer, a friend introduced me to Goodreads.com - it's a neat site that you can review books that you've read, and best of all - read the reviews of friends that you trust for books you can read! You can have "friends" on Good Reads, and you can see all the books they've read and rated, as well as make a "to read" list for yourself. So, if you're a voracious reader, or just looking for a good vacation book, you can find what you're looking for. I recently put up a page there, so if you want to see some of my favorite reads, just click here!

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