Posted in Galveston, Holidays, Restaurants, Travel

A Small Christmas Interlude

We have this cat. She was as annoying as could be sometimes, but she was sweet at the same time. I rescued her as a kitten, kind of. A stray cat had kittens and brought them to my parents’ yard. A stray tom cat carried off and killed all of the other kittens. There was just one left. I didn’t want the tom cat to come back and get her, so I took her to my house. That was fifteen and a half years ago. She ended up moving back in with my parents while I was in grad school. She was the boss there. Lately, she had been getting more and more ragged looking, and had started wheezing quite a bit. We took her to the vet. He gave her antibiotics, but prepared us a little that it might not work because of her age. She was down to about 7 pounds already. She seemed like she was improving, but then she died this morning. My mom was the most attached to her.

We had been planning on running some errands today, so we decided to just make a day of it. At least that way Mom wouldn’t be thinking about the cat. (My dad and nephew buried the cat while we were out.)

But, why run errands in the suburbs when you can run errands in Galveston? So we did the most sensible thing to do- we went to Galveston. We decided that after the normal errands, we should hang out on the Strand for a while. They have this really cool gift shop called Admiralty. I didn’t take any pictures inside. I was too busy oohing and ahhing at all of the pretty stuff. I did take a picture of the cool doors going into the shop. Check out how tall and skinny they are. All of the buildings on the Strand are old. Many of them survived the 1900 hurricane and have survived several major hurricanes (and the accompanying flood waters) since then. The curbs are super high, which makes sense if you think about the fact that the Strand area was built when people still rode in horse-drawn carriages everywhere. The high curbs would have made it much easier to get out of the carriages, especially in the big fluffy dresses that were in style back then.

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Of course, you can’t go to Galveston during the Christmas season without going to La King’s Confectionery shop. If you haven’t been there before, you should add it to your Galveston to-do list. They are amazing! They make most of their own goodies. They pull their own salt water taffy. You can even watch them do it. Around the holidays, they also make their own ribbon candy- the old fashioned kind. They even make their own ice cream. We didn’t get any of the ice cream today because it was a little too cool for ice cream. In the summer, though, their ice cream is the best I’ve ever had. I’m pretty much addicted to the lemon custard flavored ice cream.

Galveston is just a neat place in general. Here is a row of shops we passed on the way back to the car.

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We worked up quite an appetite walking up and down the Strand and decided that the best course of action would be to eat lunch somewhere yummy. I mean, you can’t have a girls’ day out and eat somewhere lame like a fast food place. The only sensible thing to do was eat at Fisherman’s Wharf. If you like seafood, then this is also something you will need to put on your Galveston checklist. This is easily one of my all time favorite restaurants. The atmosphere is really relaxed and cozy. It sits right on the bay, and the views are amazing, especially in the late afternoon, early evening when the sun starts going down. The official Tall-ship of Texas, the Elissa, ties up right next to the restaurant, which makes an incredible backdrop for pictures. As if these weren’t enough reasons to eat their, the food is beyond yummy. Even though I generally don’t particularly like using the word “scrumptious,” it actually does apply here. I could eat there every single day and not get tired of it.

Check out this crab queso. I’m getting hungry again just looking at the picture. Notice how large the pieces of crab are!

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I couldn’t resist the shrimp. I’ve never had anything other than seafood there, but one of the servers was carrying a tray of food and there was a hamburger on it. It was huge, and there were loads of french fries. So, I’m guessing that the burgers are pretty good too. I can honestly say though, that their seafood is just too good for me to even consider ordering a burger.

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The entry way was all decorated up for the season.

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Here is a picture I took of the Elissa on a previous trip to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s hard to beat the view.

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Overall, it was a very good day. We took care of the errands, and took our minds off of the cat. Tomorrow we have to hit the ground ready again. I still have a few last minute ingredients to get for the Brussels sprouts, and I still have a little bit of quilting to do. Taking a break from the Christmas rush was nice. I think I may make it a new tradition.

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Posted in baking, Christmas

Oh, Eggnog Scone. Oh, Eggnog Scone. How yummy is your rum glaze.

Okay, I have to just put this out there. I think that King Arthur Flour should just give me free mixes to try out. Then I could blog about them. Yes, this is really just an attempt to get free yummy mixes from King Arthur Flour, but I’m okay with that. I haven’t found anything that they make that isn’t super yummy. I got a coconut cupcake mix from them this past summer, and it was amazing! I use their sourdough starter pretty much every week to make my bread, and a while back, I noticed the Spiced Eggnog Scone mix in their catalog. I couldn’t resist and ordered it with the intent of trying it out during the Christmas season. With my nephew’s birthday happening today and family in town for that, I decided now would be a good time to make them.

O.M.G. They were soooo yummy! They were a huge hit! I got the rum glaze mix that they recommended too. I only made half a batch of the glaze, and it was perfect. I even remembered to take pictures. The mix didn’t require extra eggnog. I just took a picture of the bottle of eggnog to pay homage to the mighty eggnog fairy.

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The mix called for butter, milk, an egg and salt.

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I sliced the butter into pats and cut it into the dry mix with a pastry blender. Then I added the milk and egg.

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In the top right edge of this picture, you can kind of see the Danish dough whisk. I didn’t even know these existed until a few years ago when I read about it on The Boat Galley blog. I was skeptical at first but decided to try one. I don’t think I have made a single batch of bread, cookies or scones since then without it. They work so much better than a spoon and are so much easier to stir, even when the dough is thick. They are amazing! I found mine on Amazon, but it was a cheaper one, and I got what I paid for. I ended up having to super glue the metal tines into the handle. King Arthur Flour has them for sale on their website, and I think eventually I am going to replace mine with one of their’s. I’m sure they are much higher quality. All I know is that if my lower quality one works this well, the higher quality ones must be heavenly to use.

Anyway, back to the scones… I mixed everything up, dropped it in big globs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and popped them into the oven. Fifteen long and excruciatingly slow minutes later, I had scones!

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Then I mixed up the rum glaze that I had ordered at the same time, and voila!

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These were even better than I had imagined. I think I’m going to need to order some more of these mixes before they are gone.

I am enjoying my Christmas vacation so far. I worked as an offshore structural engineer before the bottom dropped out of the oil and gas market, and I only got 2 days off at Christmas. Now I teach high school math, and I have to say that the pay cut is kind of worth it. I love having so much time off around the holidays. I even had a whole week off at Thanksgiving. And don’t even get me started on summer break. I really enjoy actually having the time to do the things I want to do- like baking and quilting for instance.

I think for my next trick, I am going to try out a brussel sprout recipe that I found online. Our family holiday menu has grown a little stale. We always have the same basic menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the casseroles and sides are getting a little boring. We agreed that we needed a change, and I have grown fond of brussel sprouts over the past few years- something that I would have never expected when I was younger. If it turns out okay, I will post the link to the recipe and some pictures.

 

 

Posted in baking, Bread, Christmas

I Need More Eggnog in my Life

I went to the grocery store yesterday and was greeted by a glorious wall of Eggnog. It’s a Christmas miracle! Oddly enough, there was even singing. Apparently that particular store has a choir. I am pretty sure they all worked there.  Well okay, maybe not the baby being held by the guy dressed as a Shepherd. He looked pretty young. That would violate all kinds of labor laws, but I digress. The important takeaway from this rambling story is that there was Eggnog.

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So now I have realized that I need more Eggnog in my life.  I bought an Eggnog scone mix from King Arthur Flour Company a few weeks ago. I do believe the time has come to try it. I am going to make them tomorrow. If I am organized enough, I may even remember to take pictures.

Today, I made bread. Again. I actually haven’the bought bread at the store in several years. I got tired of eating bread that was full of ingredients that I didn’t recognize or couldn’t pronounce. I couldn’t find a single loaf of bread at my local grocery store, or local at the time,  that didn’t contain soy or corn syrup. Soy? Seriously? Why do we need corn syrup or soy? People have been making bread for thousands of years and it wasn’t until recently that we started pumping our bread with chemicals and unnecessary ingredients.

Today I made sourdough rolls using a recipe from King Arthur Flour and a super yummy French Bread recipe that I found in a Mother Earth News magazine. Did I remember to take a picture while making it? Of course not, but I do have a few pictures from the last time I made it. I also have a picture of the end result.

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Notice the orange counter tops? I am pretty sure that are the original counters from the 60’s. The teddy bear I got for my niece to go with her Christmas present was supervising.

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This is the finished product. It was a marathon day of cooking and baking. If I had any wine in my house, I would have kicked back with a slice of bread and a glass of wine. Fortunately,  I had something even better. Hooray for Eggnog!

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, quilting

9 Days Until Christmas! Inconceivable!

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How is this even possible? Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I don’t even have all of my presents bought or made. (Did you get the inconceivable reference in the title? Princess Bride?)

On a brighter note, I discovered Snapchat today. It has opened up a whole new world. While I was waiting to get off work, I turned myself into a water buffalo, a reindeer, a psycho-rabbit, a duck (several times) and a Hawaiian tourist- well okay, not a Hawaiian tourist, more like a tourist in Hawaii. It was amazing. It also took my mind off of the fact that I have so much to do before Christmas.

Of course, most everybody is getting something handmade. Three of my nephews and one of my brothers are getting quilts (2 Star Wars, 1 Walking Dead and one outdoor style). I am also planning on making quilted mug rugs for everyone on my list. They are super cute and only take a few minutes to make. I’m kind of over the whole store bought Christmas thing. I feel like we put too much pressure on ourselves to go out and buy prepackaged junk that nobody needs or really wants. I would much rather have something unique and handmade. I like the idea of baked goods, but they have to be eaten too quickly to avoid having them spoil, and let’s face it, I don’t need any more sugary baked things. I really like the idea of the jar mixes. Sometimes you see them in catalogs or store- you know the mason jars with all of the ingredients for cookies, and all you have to do is add water or some other liquid ingredient and then bake. Those are really cool.

I saw a book in the Mother Earth News magazine that was a cookbook for meals in jars. I had to order it of course. It’s really cool. It has all kinds of neat non-sugary meals where all you do is add water and heat. There is even a recipe for a breakfast casserole that uses powdered eggs. I like the idea of meals in jars using dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients. That would make really good gifts, and they are good to have on hand for emergencies. Here on the Texas Gulf Coast, hurricanes are always a possibility.  am far enough inland that I am not in an evacuation zone, but during a hurricane, it is still common to have the power go out for a day or 2 or 3 weeks. Those kinds of meals would be perfect.

I think I am going to make it a New Year’s resolution to put together several meals in jars to have in my emergency supplies.

Anyway, I guess I need to get with the program as far as Christmas is concerned. I have my tree, so I am headed in the right direction. Now I just need to get sewing.

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Posted in Christmas, Holidays, puppies, quilt, quilting

Quilting and Baking Weekend

Christmas is taking over the townhouse. I had planned to get a Christmas tree this weekend, but the weather forecasters were all telling us that we were going to be having a cold wet weekend. So I picked up a tree on Thursday evening instead so that I wouldn’t have to transport a tree in the rain. I was glad I did because the weather forecasters were actually right. (I was shocked. That doesn’t happen very often). So with the tree already taken care of (pictures coming soon), I decided to spend my weekend doing other holiday type things, like quilting and baking.

My couch is a nice neutral gray color, so I decided to dress my living room up a little bit. I looked at the store for holiday throw pillows, but I didn’t really want to spend very much on pillows, and the cheap ones weren’t very pretty. Plus, living in a townhouse, storage is an issue. If I buy pillows for every occasion, I am going to run out of closet space. Then I had a brilliant idea… There are fleece throw blankets on sale pretty much everywhere. So I bought one of those instead. Then I cup it in half and made slip covers for the pillows that I already have (but hardly ever use). The puppies were more than happy to test the pillows.

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That took all of 15 minutes. So then, I decided that I should make a quilt. The fabric stores are loaded with Christmas material right now- most of it on sale- so, finding material wasn’t much of a challenge. Keeping myself from buying all of the Christmas material is the real challenge. The quilt I decided to make had a cute little snowman and it matched perfectly with this really cool sparkly blue snowflake material.

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The problem I have with quilts is that I usually have a hard time keeping them. They make such good gifts! I decided to put this one on my Etsy site. I must admit though that I had a hard time not snuggling up with it on the couch.

With the weather as cold as it was, I decided to bake some bread as well, but I am going to save that for the next post.