Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday and Music

I've been quite busy with music lately. Yesterday the Pleasanton Community Concert Band held our holiday concert. We played a lot of holiday music, and my favorite piece was "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story - not necessarily holiday music, but a feel-good song nonetheless. The day before I played in a saxophone quartet as a VA hospital - more Christmas music. The Wednesday before that was my usual weekly performance with the USS Hornet Swing Band at a senior citizen's center where I got to play lead. And the Saturday before that the sax quartet played at a local holiday parade. Phew! I have one more Hornet Band performance this week, and then I'm done for the season.

We got together with some friends last night to watch the Survivor: Gabon finale. We haven't followed it for a couple seasons, but this time we had to watch since Matt Whitmore was a contestant and we know him. He did really well, and if he had actually learned how to make fire with a flint (how do you not practice making fire when you know you're going on Survivor?!), he would have won the game and the million. Its been really fun watching this season. Congrats Matty!

I took our friends a bottle of Armenian pomegranate wine that I found at Whole Foods around Thanksgiving, and a Fair Isle Snowflake Ornament that I knit with some yarn from my stash:

This was a fun, quick knit (a couple of evenings). The red yarn is sparkly and the white is a bouclé, so its fluffy. You are supposed to put a Styrofoam ball in the center, but all I could find last-minute at Michael's was an egg shape, so that's what I went with. I'll definitely make more of these. Perhaps next holiday season I can make a bunch to send out with presents.

Speaking of presents, I have just a few more to get. How's your holiday shopping going?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wine Sponge

This week's Barefoot Blogger recipe is Coq Au Vin, chosen by Bethany of this little piggy went to market (hers looks great!). This is like a French stew, and I made half of the recipe with chicken for Christopher, and half with tofu for me. First you brown some bacon in olive oil:

Then you remove the bacon and brown the chicken (I used a half breast), seasoned with S&P.

While that was going on, I seasoned some tofu that I had frozen and thawed with S&P, garlic, and chili powder (for the smokiness that the bacon would add to the chicken half of the dish).

Then I browned it in a separate pot in more olive oil.

When its all browned you remove the chicken/tofu and cook the carrots and onions until lightly browned. Lots 'o brownin' going on in this recipe.

Then add garlic (I only had garlic powder - its a travesty!) Then you add the meat/substitute back to the pan, along with Cognac (I used sweet vermouth, since its what I had on hand), wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon), stock, and thyme. Once its simmering you put the lid on and stick it in the oven to braise the meat for 30-40 minutes. Here's the after:

You make a paste of butter and flour to thicken the sauce, and saute some mushrooms in butter and add to the dish. I left out the frozen onions called for in this recipe.

Et voila! I think the chicken dish looks great. I served this over cheesy mashed potatoes, peeking out beneath the sauce below.

The tofu turned into little purple wine sponges.

So, the tofu dish was okay, but didn't inspire me to make it again. It would have been better had a I taken the time to press the tofu after the freeze/thaw process (it gives a much better texture). Chris thought I was crazy, until he tasted both. He rated the tofu half as a 2 out of 10, while the chicken half is much better, an 8 out of 10. Coq au Vin needs the oil from the chicken and bacon to make it really good I suppose. Chris also said the chicken was cooked perfectly and very moist, and the stew was good and hearty. In fact, he went back and ate most of what was left in his pan after dinner, so it must have been good. If you're an omnivore you should check this recipe out!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Always Remembered


Rest in peace, good old boy. You were such a gentle and sweet spirit, and we will always love and remember you. Thank you for spending your fifteen years with us, and we'll see you on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Movin' on Up

This year, I'm thankful for... our new couch! Check it!

Its the comfy... couch!

Its the Griffin Sectional from La-Z-Boy, a giant chocolate-brown leather beast of a couch. We weren't satisfied with our other seating and wanted something very comfortable and easy to care for with the animals. And this is it! Both ends recline, there's room for everyone, pet hair and drool wipes right off, and there's even a Liz-corner. And yes, I realize I am a hypocritical vegetarian for buying leather - I'll go sponsor a cow to make up for it.

The only draw-back is that its higher than our previous furniture and Ayla can't jump up by herself, so I have to help her. She seems to like it though and has spent many evenings lounging with us watching movies... speaking of, go watch Wall-E! Loved it!

Me and my girl

Sleep train


This replays every time Chris eats,
and oddly enough they tend to leave me alone.

Once the couch arrived last Friday I put our current sofa and chair-and-a-half up for sale on Craigslist. No takers on the sofa as of yet, but the chair sold yesterday, and I feel a little guilty. Its about 6 years old, has some stains and general wear-and-tear, though its still quite comfortable. I priced it high at $200 expecting buyers to haggle with me on the price. A couple came yesterday, barely even looked at the chair, never even sat it in or tested the recliner, and handed me two $100s for it! Caveat emptor I suppose.

Ayla loves being covered with a blanket