Saturday, September 29, 2007

A new venture in life

I know some of you are wondering, where has Jennifer been? I am now working full-time and am learning a new trade. This past week was full of excitement, stress and even some headaches trying to adjust to a full 40 hour week. I haven't worked in three years and I am grateful for a new opportunity in my life to make some money (MONEYYYYY) again.

I will be scarce but I will try my damndest to post at least once a week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's been on your menu lately?

I haven't taken any pictures because I am constantly forgetting (including forgetting the camera at the soccer game, so it's not just food I am forgetting here!), but I am trying to break out of the old and put a little more variety into our dishes.

A couple of weekends ago I was in a mood for bruschetta and a light salad. My husband grilled up some pork chops and I made some bruschetta with EVOO, garlic and tomato (forgot the basil but it was good anyhow). The salad I made was iceberg lettuce (which I realize has no nutritional value but I was in a mood for an "old school" salad), cucumbers, and the rest of the bruschetta mix I had left over. It was a nice dinner and even my husband liked it.

Last week I made a Cream of Celery type of dish with chicken breasts. It was rich but it was very good.

On Monday night I made a Lime-Garlic Chicken Breast with garlic butter pasta and green beans (steamed but kept crunchy) with some lemon drizzled over them and lemon zested on them. It was absolutely delicious. The garlic butter pasta was a hit with my finicky eater.

I just get bored of the same stuff over and over again and I know my family appreciates it when I try to create new things, so there you go. Lately it's been a lot of salad and chicken and they are burnt out on that. We've been eating more fresh green beans and some broccoli (although by the time I want to cook it, I find most of it gone because my husband loves to take it to work with Ranch dressing).

Tonight? I'm going to make Pork Adobo with Thai Jasmine Rice and sugar snap peas. We haven't had adobo in a long time!


Monday, September 17, 2007

Food dreams

I had a dream that I was going to an All-Filipino festival back while I was visiting my family in Seaside, California. I was going from booth to booth trying desperately to find beco, Kangkanin, or Bibingka. Why? I have no clue, but maybe I am craving some sweets. I also dreamed that I was looking for some decent adobo, but all I could find was beef tri tip.

I don't know why I have dreams like these. While I was in California we had a BBQ (Filipino family side). My uncle made some killer beef tri tip and there was all kinds of yummy BBQ stuff, but no Filipino food. Nana usually makes it but she is getting older and shouldn't have to stand in front of the stove. If I had had more time I would have loved to have made the Bibingka recipe I got from a friend a while back. Of course, I might have been the one hogging most of it! (Just kidding!) My uncle (Tri Tip Master of the Universe) and I used to fight over Nana's Kangkanin back in the day. (Fighting in good fun, of course!)

Despite my dream, tonight I am going to make what my stepmom made while I was in California- Lime-Garlic chicken. I'll probably make adobo later on in the week.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

NFB: Random mumblings

My daughter played her first soccer game today and was a bit sluggish, which had me wondering if her thyroid is out of whack again. I will monitor her closely and see if I need to take her back to her doctor's for another blood panel and check-up. She's been on the Levoxyl medication for Hypothyroid (25 mcg/day) for a while now and it seems to help. Her last levels were checked in mid-August and she was finally normalized, but with how sluggish she was at her game today, it's something that has me concerned.

My husband is using this time now to work on his truck as winter is just around the corner. The reason he bought the thing was so we would have something reliable to drive in the snow. You see, my truck is only 2wd, and the tires spin on ice and snow. I will be getting snow tires more than likely, especially considering I am on a job hunt and had an interview yesterday. I am hopeful I can find work soon so I can put some much needed work into my truck, pay off some debts and start saving for my 11th year reunion in Vegas next August (which I am hoping will double as a honeymoon for my husband and I since we never had one- next August makes 10 years together for us, a huge anniversary!). Anyhow, so he used today to work on his truck and my daughter and I were stuck at home bored out of our minds. We got outside and I walked around as she rode her bike, but I was so restless today, and I don't quite understand why.

Next month is my birthday and already people are asking, "What are you doing? Are you excited?", I keep thinking, how can I be excited when it puts me one year closer to 30? Wow, when did I become so negative in life? I don't think it's negativity as much as it is just a realization that I am not getting any younger and can feel it physically as well. My teenage years were slow going. My 20's flew by! I am trying to look at my 30's as a new chapter in my life- one of growth, wisdom and learning. I know that some of my viewpoints have changed over the past couple of years and I believe mostly that is due to being a parent, but still...could it be age as well? As for my birthday, I have no plans, I just don't really celebrate it. My husband will take me out to dinner and buy me a cake or something, but I don't really have parties anymore. I haven't had a "party" since I turned 25 (which was fun!). Maybe I'll have a party when I hit 30. Who knows? I wonder if that is the way my parents felt when they hit 30. I know when my mom hit 40 she would tell me that she was 37 and that's where she was staying for the rest of her life. My mom will be 50 next year as well. We're almost exactly 20 years apart. As we both get older though, our bond becomes stronger, and that's something I am grateful for.

And I remember when turning 21 was so cool. I spent it dealing with morning and all-day sickness because I was pregnant with my daughter. It was still a great time though. I'll never forget how I went to a club, 6 weeks postpartum (after a c-section, mind you) in heels, dancing. I wish I had that energy again! Hah!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Restaurant Review: Lee's Garden Restaurant, Marina, California

I have to say, it has been 4+ years since I have had decent (and good) Chinese food. Up here the Chinese food is a lot different and so far I have not been impressed. I have been to the Kowloon Inn in Ferndale (which was a joke in itself), the Kowloon Garden in Bellingham (I do not know if they are related, but I was just not very impressed with their dishes), have had Lucky Panda in the past (which is the equivalent of Chinese Fast Food), Haggen's Chinese food (aka "Haggenese" and again, the equivalent of Chinese Fast Food, but will do if you are in a hurry). We were supposed to go to Oriento on the Guide Meridian in Bellingham this past weekend, however, my daughter ended up sick and we had to cancel date night on Saturday (I still was able to go watch Rob Zombie's Halloween (which I may or may not review later, we'll see) though, as my husband took care of her for me and we had already purchased tickets on Fandango). We're going to try to get out to Oriento next month instead.

Anyhow, while in California, I really wanted some Chinese food, and had planned a get together with some old friends and my mom and sister, but both friends were unable to make it, so after we went to the reunion picnic (we didn't eat at it, but I was glad I was able to stop by, even if it was for a little while), we went to Lee's Garden Restaurant in Marina. Marina is about 10-15 minutes north of Monterey and is the town next door to the former Fort Ord which now houses California State University of Monterey Bay (CSUMB). I haven't been to Lee's in years, and I was excited about going back.

We started off with my sister's order of Sizzling Rice Soup (something I have not noticed on the menu at the Chinese restaurants I have been to up here!):

I loved it. It was delicious and they had big shrimp in the soup. My favorite part was the water chestnuts though. I don't quite know why I love them so much, but water chestnuts are one of my favorites.

Then I ordered what I had been craving: Pork Fried Rice, Chicken Chow Mein (and Chow Mein in California you do not have differentiate between "soft" and "crispy" noodles- they are always soft!!! Unlike up here!), and Ginger Beef, which I haven't had in years. It was a delicious feast and the service was wonderful.

Pork Fried Rice:

Chicken Chow Mein:

Ginger Beef:

While I was there, I bumped into a classmate and her husband and baby boy. It turned out that there were a few of our classmates who were coming to Lee's Garden for lunch that day! As my friend Christina put it, "I gotta have a little Lee's in my life!" (Amen to that, sistah!) It was fun seeing my friend and her family (we had seen each other the night before at the reunion at Montrio's). When I go to visit home again, I will definitely stop by Lee's Garden for lunch!

Lee's Garden Restaurant is located at:

215 Reservation Road in Marina, California
(831) 384-6888

Stop by sometime and enjoy it! :)


Friday, September 07, 2007

Fall is just around the corner

Ahh, my favorite time of year. Time to start my baking up (mostly pumpkin breads and hearty stews) and time to get ready for the impending winter (not my favorite season!). Recently I was looking at Brylane Home and came across the CUTEST thing ever, this:

I am going to be ordering that soon and getting my Wok set I posted about a while ago for free as well! Woohoo for great deals!

Last year I bought some of that silicone bakeware from some catalog I got in the mail and was not too thrilled with it. I think I'll stick with the regular ole tin sets they have.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Restaurant Review- Montrio's Bistro, Monterey, CA

Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of the meal because we were in the middle of our 10 year high school reunion. My friend set this entire thing up and she found Montrio Bistro, which has a wonderful reputation and serves fine cuisine. I had been there before, as one of my workplaces had our annual holiday party there back in 1998. Great food and wonderful service.

We were able to sit upstairs in a private room, use the microphone, and had bartenders at the whims of many of my fellow classmates, who wanted to have a couple of drinks. I did not drink that night as I was not feeling too well.

We started off with appetizers on every table, now that I actually did get a picture of:

Our appetizer was Crispy Calamari with Chile-Citrus-Basil Aioli and Tomato Basil Bruschetta with Roasted Garlic and Mozzarella. I did not have the Bruschetta as I was afraid it would upset my stomach even more, but the Calamari was lovely and light. There was just a subtle hint of that Chile-Citrus-Basil Aioli, which was a nice compliment to the Calamari.

After introduction speeches (one of which I had to give, and did okay on, thankfully!), we were served our salad, which was Field Greens with a Mustard Vinaigrette. I did NOT like the Vinaigrette at all, but the greens were delicious.

In between the salad and entree, we each went around and basically told the others what we had been up to in the past 10 years. We heard everything from people who have been married for years (like myself) with children to people who just got married, to people who just had babies to people who went on to receive their Master degrees, and even many who have served more than one tour in Iraq (one of our guys served a total of five tours in Iraq!). It was wonderful to catch up and get to talk with everyone.

We had our choice between a Grilled Certified Angus Prime New York Steak with Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms with a Red Wine reduction OR Grilled Wild Salmon with a Confit Potato, Artichokes and Pancetta in a Green Peppercorn Cream. I opted for the Wild Salmon has I had been craving it. It was delicious, moist and heavenly! I wasn't able to finish all of my meal, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I had no idea what a "confit potato" was, but apparently it's a twice-baked potato from what I was told. It was delicious, and I normally hate artichokes, but in the green peppercorn sauce with the pancetta, it was delicious. The pancetta was a bit too salty for my tastes, though, which is what any kind of bacon is (too salty).

Our dessert was a Flourless Chocolate Cake with Port Swirl Ice Cream and it was extremely rich. I couldn't get through but maybe 1/4 of the cake, which was small to begin with. It was like a decadent gourmet brownie. I loved the ice cream too, and the plate was garnished with a swirl of raspberry sauce, which complimented the cake very well.

The servers were wonderful and good about refilling our glasses with water. The only complaint most of us had was there was no A/C in there and it was quite warm up in there. But it truly was a wonderful experience that none of us will forget. I am looking forward to my 11th year reunion in Vegas next year! (WOOHOO!) I am REALLY looking forward to my 20th year reunion now though!

If you are ever in Monterey, California and would like to enjoy a good meal, stop in at Montrio Bistro on 414 Calle Principal in downtown Monterey.

Montrio's website
and you can call in for reservations at (831) 648-8880


Monday, September 03, 2007

I am back

Well, I have been back since last Tuesday (August 28th). I don't know where to begin. First off, it was wonderful to see all the people I grew up with for the first time in 10 years. The reunion went wonderfully, and it's something I'll never forget. There are now plans for an 11th year reunion trip to Vegas (which I will see if my husband and I could pull off!). It also has me very excited for my 20 year reunion although it's 10 years off. I joked with a couple of my friends about it saying, "By then I will have a daughter going into her senior year of high school!" I really do NOT want to think about that right now!

It was also wonderful seeing my family and spending time with them, but the downside(s) to my trip were that one, I ended up very ill due to the Yaz pill (which my doctor had taken me off of the day I left for California, I am back on it now, it was a week break). I was weak and something weird was going on with my stomach. I was nauseous and I could not hold much food down. I also know that with the Yaz I gained back the weight I had dropped over the summer while working out, which really pissed me off because I had worked so hard at it. I am going to resume my workout starting Wednesday now that I am not feeling as weak and am up to the challenge. Another downside was the fact that I was technically there for only four full days, and I felt like I was tugged in several different directions. There just was not enough time to squeeze everyone in like I had wanted to. By the end of the trip, I felt terrible about not getting the chance to spend much time with my father or his fiancee and her daughter.

We canceled our camping trip for Labor Day because I came home extremely weak and not feeling too hot. I barely made it out of SeaTac due to my condition. I am bummed that we had to cancel the trip, but it was for the best. Not to mention, it's raining up here this weekend! Maybe it worked out for the best? Next summer we will go camping, but in July sometime.

I met his fiancee and her daughter and I love them both. I am so glad I had the chance to meet them but I am bummed I didn't get a lot of time with them. I'm hoping to get out to California next summer for a trip and to spend more time with them. Next time I go home it'll be for at least a week, if not two (depending on whether I am working or not, of course). My father showed compassion towards me for the first time because of how ill I am. It's true, I have gained weight since I saw him last summer- mostly due to my quitting smoking, but also the inactivity after quitting smoking and before starting my exercise regimen and the various hormonal problems/Yaz. He finally realized that I am not just a lazy fat slob and for once in my life, he realized that there are huge medical problems that I need to tend to. It was nice that he finally saw me for me. It also helped me to accept who I am. Yes, I look huge in some of those reunion photos- but you know what?? This is who I am. I have to accept it- I have to be okay with it, because I know that I am working on it. I have the diet part down, I had the exercise part down (which I am getting back into come Wednesday!), and hopefully I'll have this weight loss thing down. I'm not doing it for looks- I'm doing it because I want to be around for my daughter and I don't want to die from my obesity. But at the same time I can accept that for now, this is who I am. I'm hoping with diet, exercise, and going to the doctors, we can pinpoint the problems and work on them together. I am optimistic.

I have a couple of reviews to post and some pictures to share, which I will do in the next week or so! It's been a nice break, but it's also nice to be home.