Gym is kicking my arse hard.
Oh my aching quads.
I don't want to cook.
Too much effort, I say no.
Welcome to my blog. Here you will find random commentary on my cooking adventures, restaurant reviews from my time on the road (mostly in Oklahoma, but not exclusively so), occasional musings on life, and whatever else I feel like writing about. If you check the archives, you'll find some anecdotes from my time as a special education teacher, comments from camps I've worked, and glimpses of my family. Enjoy!
Last week, I made a trek to Cao Nguyen in Oklahoma City. I bought all of this produce for like $14! Seemed like a bargain. Granted, some of it I have no idea how to use, but that makes it all the more fun!
Lemongrass--I sense Tom Ka Gai Soup coming soon. Some of the greens are interesting; I imagine I'll just cook them in broth until wilted. The brown thing on the left is taro root. Lemons and limes are so cheap there-I stock up to use them as a finishing touch to soups and salads. Jicama is great in salads--it adds texture and I like the crunch! I've already used the eggplant. It became this:
Steamed in my awesome bamboo steamer that Avie gave me, topped with rice noodles, cilantro, and a shoyu sesame sauce. It was good, though I over steamed the eggplant a bit. Next time I'll know. . .
I first had bubble tea in Chicago about 5 years ago. I'd heard of it, but never seen it anywhere. I was walking down a Chicago street--can't remember the name, but it was NE of where my friend Jackie lived in Lincoln Park. I can still see the street. The shop owner was a friendly man--I promised to come back if I ever visited Chicago again!
Anyhow, I've been on a bubble tea kick lately. I've bought the tapioca pearls. I have the instant boba milk tea mix. It's good. However, when I looked at the ingredients...well, it's not something I can allow myself to have all the time. Yeah, no fun. It's just instant tea, powdered milk, sugar, and sometimes flavorings/colorings. The tea shops have flavored teas--mango, taro, coconut, . . . really just about any fruit you can imagine and then some. I decided tonight to dig around in my tea stash to see what sounded good and found some Thai tea I forgot about. It was perfect! It's called Sweet Thai Delight and is by Yogi Tea.
The ingredients are organic redbush leaf, organic cinnamon bark, organic anise seed, carob pod, stevia leaf, natural coconut flavor, and natural butterscotch flavor.
To make the bubble tea, you add the tapioca pearls to bowling water, boil for about 3 minutes, turn the heat down to medium and cover for another 8-10, until they are the texture you like. Drain and rinse.
Make your tea, whether the instant stuff or leaves you steep yourself. I added some agave nectar to make it a little sweeter without a ton of calories, and topped it off with some milk. The instant stuff is already very sweet and had milk powder in it.
Add your bubble tea straw and you are set!
I have some black tea with blueberry flavorings that I may try next.
So, Harley had surgery today to remove a tumor of some sort! Poor guy has been through so much! Getting him in the house was a comedy in and of itself. You just had to laugh. Determined dog whose hind legs wouldn't work, his owner who made the poor decision to dress in BLACK today, and a towel. He finally made it in thanks to my boyfriend coming to the rescue!
We'll find out soon if the mass was cancerous or not.
In the meantime, here's Harley thinking about getting out of my car (I was waiting to catch him) and then when he finally made it to his pillow.
And yes, he has drool hanging out of his mouth. Darn anesthesia does that to him every time!
So you'll have to read down to the bottom for the funny part. I have to provide the back story. Harley dog (138 lb. Alaskan Malamute/St. Bernard mix) has quite an extensive medical history. Things have been sort of quiet on that front (thankfully) for the last 1.5 years or so. Well of course he was due! A few months ago, I noticed this black thing on the top of one of his back legs. It didn't seem to be bothering him, so I just made a mental note to let the vet know on our next visit.
Well, that plan changed today. Yesterday, Harley was messing with it, and this morning it was bleeding and he was obviously not feeling well. Off to the emergency vet we went. Sadly, this is a fairly familiar routine for us.
We didn't get any answers at the vet, but we did get this awesome halo for him to wear so he won't be able to gnaw at his sore. I am taking him to his vet first thing in the morning where he will spend the day.
When we got home, I took my stuff in and then Peanut followed me outside. I have to help Harley out of the back of my SUV. So as he's at the edge, about to gingerly jump down (while I pick up his tail end and let him down easily), Peanut decided to jump into the back of the car.
However, the halo is clear...and she didn't see it. Also notice that it is rather large, so its span was wide. So she jumped up and directly into it and promptly fell back down to the ground (landing on her feet). She did this twice before looking at me confused like. I was cracking up. Harley is just standing there and if he could talk, he would have been saying, "Get the f$%# out of my way. I want OUT NOW."
You can see the boo boo on Harley's left hind quarter. They cleaned it up but it continued to bleed a bit. Poor guy. :( I think they will do a needle aspiration and depending on what they find, decide where to go from there. Sigh. A dog's life isn't always easy, is it?
I used my day off work on Friday to visit my former students and school. I got there when they were at lunch. I got some hugs, smiles, and a cold shoulder. Yes, a cold shoulder. The student I was most worried about dealing w/ another transition actually handled it pretty well and has adjusted with no major problems. I've talked to her on the phone a few times. She's a hoot. Anyhow, she looks over at me when I walk in, and then quickly looks away. No reaction. A minute later, she says to the girl across the table, "Did you know Ms. B got a new JOB?"
It took her about 20 minutes to warm up to the fact that I was there to see her. I was cracking up. It's sort of what I'd expect from her. She just needed some time to process is all.
Anyhow, it was good to see them and get those hugs and smiles. I miss that.
I also was surprised that my advisory class (homeroom 6th graders) slowly came up one by one until I had about 8 or 9 of them around me, but none talking. I felt like a celebrity! LOL. I had some good kids in that group, and it was good to see them as well. The boys would come up and say, "Hey Ms. B." The girls came up and hugged me. I did get a few, "Are you coming back?"
Sorry kids. I'm not.
I also got to visit with former coworkers a bit. It was about a 3 hour visit all together. Fun times.
Do I miss it? I don't miss teaching. I do miss my kids and the daily interaction with them, the chance to see them grow and shine, to "get" new things. I don't miss the stress of feeling like you are never doing enough, juggling so many things and wondering when exactly you're supposed to do them, dealing with some teachers who don't want spec ed kids in their class (fortunately, I didn't experience this often), and working till 6 or 7 regularly. No, I don't miss it. My current job has its own set of stresses, of things you just have to deal with, but all in all, it's a much easier job. Yes, I do leave exhausted some days, the travel can be difficult, but it's nothing like the trenches.
This restaurant was located off of 259A----somewhere. It's a loop. If you enter the north loop of 259A, you make 3 left turns and you'll see the restaurant. Just keep turning left as you can.
It's on the river south of the dam of Lake Broken Bow. Beautiful area. It was a little to chilly to sit outside, but we tried. We lasted for about 10 minutes. Long enough for a little squirrel to come check us out and see if we had any food to share. We didn't at that point.
The view from outside.
Anyhow, we were the only people in there, though it was a little early.
We both ordered the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a salad. Yeah, and you've heard me complain about putting on a few lbs. with so much travel recently? I wonder why? That is something I rarely eat, so will order it every now and again. Unfortunately, it's been years since I've had any as good as my own. Unfortunately, I never make it anymore because of a) guilt because I SEE how it's made firsthand and b) I make the world's messiest kitchen when I make CFS. No really. I do. Flour EVERYWHERE. Grease splatters. Ugh.
Anyhow. I think I will just refrain from ever ordering it again, unless I am at the Del Rancho. It's just not worth it if it's not super- super- better- than- mine- good. And it's not. Ever. And this one was about $12. It wasn't really crispy. It wasn't hand battered at least 2 times like I like it. It was OK, but. . . not all that.
Oh, we also each had an order of cake to go. It was homemade and it WAS worth a trip back. Hummingbird Cake, made by grandma. It had pecans, bananas, cream cheese frosting, 3 layers. Yeah, good stuff.
Here's a branch of the river downstream a little bit.
What do you get when French cuisine collides with Vietnamese? You get Banh Mi--Vietnamese sandwiches and we have a great place for them in OKC! For those of you out there familiar with the Asian district in OKC, Saigon Baguette (Banh Mi Ba Le) is the sandwich shop underneath the Braum's milk bottle on Classen.
The sandwich is comprised of pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro sprigs, sliced jalapeno chiles, pate, and pork or chicken. I had the #1--with everything. This sandwich, with tax, is $2! How amazing is that? I shared it with a coworker. It was plenty for 2. Granted, it's not stuffed full of meat like many American style sandwiches, but it was just enough.
Another one of my new favorites are Vietnamese style spring rolls with peanut sauce. They are awesome! So fresh tasting and light. They had these by the checkout stand, so I had to buy them. I think they were $3. I ate one and shared the others and converted some coworkers with my "weird" food.
Saigon Baguette features six versions, including one with the traditional pate. But don’t think deviled ham; the pate is more akin to thin-sliced bologna. Other fillings include chicken and pork either barbecued, sliced, grilled or in meatball form. Not on the menu but available is an all-vegetable version.
I am so far behind! I have so many places to blog about, so little time. I really can't remember who I need to blog about next. I think I'll just do one big post on my Broken Bow trip last week. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.
So my coworker and I headed to Papa Poblano's for dinner the afternoon we arrived (that is, after getting some wine at Girls Gone Wine winery). She had the tacos al carbon; I had the carne asada. Their salsa is a simple one with just tomatoes, peppers, salt and maybe a touch of onion. We got some white queso and it was Oh so good.
My carna asada. It tasted good, but the very thinly sliced meat was overdone so the texture was akin to beef jerky. Not quite what I had in mind. I was jealous of my friend's al pastor.
McCurtain County (a large county in the southeastern corner of the state) is a dry county. This means no liquor can be served in restaurants. For shame, right? I had to explain this to my coworker, as I grew up in a dry county. So instead of a good margarita, we both had a tecate in a chilled glass with salt and lots of lime juice. So refreshing! The decor of this place was cute and lively.
I was in town by myself the next night, so guess what I had? Yes, I could not get the tacos al pastor out of my mind, so I went back for another beer and a meal by myself. I actually only ate one taco and saved the rest for lunch the next day. If I go back to this place, this is what I'll get. Simply flavorful, spicy pork, garnished with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro and a bit of lime on home made corn tortillas. Simple. Delish. For a while, I have been "sick" of Mexican food. It just doesn't appeal to me like it used to. However, I think I've realized I'm not a fan of the Americanized Mexican food--the enchiladas heavy with cheese and sauces, the fried things, the gobs of rice and beans. I like simplicity. Even with this meal, I could do w/o the rice and beans. Just give me some flavorful, tender meat on a tortilla and garnish it with fresh veggies and I am a happy girl.
OK, I need to get the Dallas trip wrapped up, because I have SOOO many other interesting things (OK, I realize that is completely debatable) to blog about.
After the Hong Kong Market, we headed further north to have some dumplings. YUM! Jeng Chi, in an Asian themed strip mall on Greenville in Richardson was recommended to us by my long time Tish. She told us exactly what to order, and I'm glad we listened though we were both so stuffed! We had hot juicy dumplings, potstickers, green onion pancakes, and the big hit--snow pea shoots! The shoots were bright green, tender, cooked in a bit of garlic and delectable! Everything else was good as well, but we just scarfed the green stuff down!
We also checked out some interesting stores in the strip mall. I got some bamboo cheap. Anna picked up some little cat figurines (for which I'm sure there is a proper name, but I'm unaware of). We also saw a Japanese book store that also had a porn selection! We didn't check any of that out though. LOL.
Next up was Central Market, complete with live music!
On a Saturday late afternoon. Yes, we are brave. I love that store. The produce is heavenly. The fresh meats are inspiring (though because of the distance to travel, we didn't get any). I stocked up (haha, understatement) on my beloved tiramisu cordials. They are my big vice, and probably a huge reason I feel like I've gained 5 lbs since that Dallas trip! Haha. My other favorite CM staples are the flour tortillas, olives, their own brand of olive oil, and the bulk food section.
Anna was ready to check out and get her goodies HOME.
Oh, and you have to love cut-outs of bunnies sniffing arses. At least that's what WE saw when we looked at this, so of course I had to get a picture!
We're already talking about the next time....
I love this artwork that was near the check-out. So colorful!
After this stop, we hit one final Asian store in Plano just off of Legacy before coming home. We got home at midnight. A full day--but so much fun!
Some interesting things at the last store follow.
Fruit flavored beef jerky? That just doesn't appeal. At. All.
And tongue flavored cookies? Wow. Maybe next time I make cookies. . .
Various fun treats
I'll do the concluding post of the Dallas Road Trip soon, as well as some reviews on my recent work trip.
For now, I want to share some photos from the Medieval Fair held every year here in town. It's....interesting. Enjoy the pics!
Because there are so many pics, I made them smaller...so if you want the full thing, just click on them.
I'll finish the details of my Dallas road trip this weekend. For now, I'm tired. Here are some pictures from my most recent road trip to SE Oklahoma for work.
My favorite: HW259 between Idabel and Broken Bow.
On the to Antlers on HW 3.
I think the next 2 were also on HW 3, but my memory is blurry as to exactly where.
I think bridges are kind of cool.
After our fantastic lunch at Café Madrid, we headed to Half-Price Books to browse a little before making another food stop. In Dallas, there is a HUGE one on NW Highway. It was super busy, and super overwhelming, but we managed to each get some good finds—Anna a bit more than I.
Love this display in the cooking area!
Cookbooks galore! My favorite (that I did NOT buy) was on marijuana cooking, complete with pictures. I had no idea the things you could do . . .
We then headed to Hong Kong Market, near Walnut and Audelia. Next to Hong Kong Market was a super busy (Americanized in the mass production concept) café that sold bubble tea. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. I’ve had bubble tea before and this was more like a smoothie. At any rate, I like it for the tapioca “bubbles” that float in the tea.
We also noticed an interesting store that said "Herbs" so decided to check it out. We walked in...and it was dark, a bit musty, and appeared to be more of an Asian vitamin store. We spent about 60 seconds walking up and down the 2 aisles and then left. Can you say awkward?
The Market itself was super busy. Unlike the café, we weren’t the only light skinned folks there. I picked up some good finds—what I’m most excited about using are some green tea noodles. I have no idea what I’ll do with them, but I look forward to trying. I have almost 2 lbs. so there are plenty of noodles with which to experiment! I also picked up some essentials—tempura dipping sauce, green onions (.25 a bundle), udon noodles, and tapioca balls for my own bubble tea.