Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back to reality...

Hello everyone.   I am back.   I have been back for about 5 days and am just now starting to get my head screwed on straight.   You know... laundry, groceries, the job and oh Christmas.   Mac and I were pretty diligent this weekend, getting food in the fridge; clean clothes in the closet; suit cases put away; and Christmas decorations put up.   I am pretty proud of all we did all while battling jet lag. 

I am pretty excited about the holidays, probably because I was SO homesick during Thanksgiving.   We don't have much time left to accomplish all of our holiday plans but I am pretty sure what we actually decide to do won't consist of visiting any horrific shopping malls and honestly it is a relief.

We have made a list of Christmas goodies we are going to make and have planned on just staying home and making cookies and candy for an entire weekend.   Now, that sounds fun... doesn't it?

I know, I am behind on my trip updates... I will get those taken care of pronto!

P.S. Image above is from a cool blog called bluebison.net where you can print off all sorts of cool coloring pages for you or your kiddos.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wedding Trip: Update

I know, I know... I am behind on my Thailand posts, hey I am on vacation.  I am logging in right now (while I am sure I have internet access) to let you all know we made it to New Zealand.   We arrived in Wellington last night and had an amazing dinner and zonked out.   We are currently on a ferry in between the islands.   I am hoping to locate a NZ sim card once we hit land again... keep your fingers crossed... I am worried because I think NZ is ruled by Vodafone.... ugh.    

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wedding Trip: Day 9

Today was the day of our wedding ceremony... and not only did it rain... but it POURED.   Jungle, mud-slide rains came down but we had a great time.   Took some ok photos and had a great dinner.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wedding Trip: Day 8

Today we had planned on visiting the Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple).   We told everyone at breakfast where we were headed and they all seemed shocked and told us that it was 1200 steps to the top.   I thought that wouldn't be a problem... I didn't realize that those steps lead up a Karst that was 300 m high and that some of the steps were almost vertical, much like a ladder leaning up against your house.

There were tons of monkees all around the Wat.    Some of the monks had them on leashes... weird

Anyone up for BBQ monkee

Then we started to climb.   and climb.   and climb.   About step 400 is when they got really steep and I didn't think I could go on... Mac told me I was being a puss and that I had to keep going.

Mac also thought it was funny to take photos of me in varying stages of MISERY.

Finally we make it to the top.   The view was well worth it.   They say that it requires strength and courage to visit the golden stupa.

photos of the top

Monitor vs. Iguana

Kaylee: I am not sure of the difference between a monitor and iguana and to be perfectly honest with you I haven't really been motivated to do any research on the subject.   I believe that an iguana is a desert animal, although we did see them in Costa Rica.     Mac and I had a discussion while kayaking that he thought they were the same... I disagreed and yesterday I saw a 70 pound one saunter out of the jungle and into the ocean and I am pretty sure that a) an iguana has a totally different head and cannot swim; and b) an iguana doesn't get as big as a monitor.

Here is the video.... ok I am having trouble uploading video.   I will try to post it on facebook.   Until then here is a photo.

Update: Facebook is a wash... couldn't load it and had to go through some "security" check because I was logging in from an unknown location.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wedding Trip: Day 6

Today we went kayaking thru the mangroves of Ao Thalane.   I was beautiful.  Mac and I have visited so many mangrove forests in the world that we are practially experts on them and their importance to the ecological systems, most importantly they are vital to the survival of the reefs (just ask Australia) and we love the reefs..   One thing we didn't know, but learned on this trip is: a) they secrete an oil which plankton love to eat; and b) they injest 70% of salt they intake through the water.

Some information on mangroves here and here.

Southern Thailand is covered with Limestone hills, not quite hills they are cliffs that spring up everywhere... on land and sea.   These "hills" are constantly erroded by ground or sea water creating fantastic caves (or hong in Thai), this type of topography is called Karst, so sometimes they are referred to Karst cliffs.   Never the less they are stunning.   These limestone Karst are everywhere which is why rock climbing is huge here.

Limestone Karst in Southern Thailand

The question of the day was... what is the difference between a Iguana and a Monitor?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wedding trip - Day 4

view from bed

Today Mac and I woke up at 4 am... I opened the curtains hoping the sun would come up so I could enjoy the view... I read for a bit and dozed off until 8.   We showered and lounged around our hotel room, then went to breakfast.   Breakfast... sweet mother of all meals... was a buffet that included fresh squeezed juices, bircher muselix, homemade granola, yogurt and jams.   I died.

We spent the rest of the day deciding where our wedding ceremony would be held and lounging by the pool.   We ended the day meeting a baby elephant and eating thai food... I was in bed by 9.  

P.S. don't tell the Mox I am in love with a baby elephant.   Mac even made out with her, the whole time all I kept thinking about was that woman on the east coast who owned the chimpanzee who ripped off her friends face... ugh.

pool at our hotel

Pool area ato our hotel 

Location of where our wedding ceremony will be held. (Wedding will be on 11/11)  Hoping it will clear off.   Haze is from the Indonesian volcanic eruption.

Wedding trip - Day 3

We had a bit of sleep... but either jet lag or excitement had us both up by 6:30.   We watched an hour or so of Aljazeera TV... which was an eye opener.   It is so surprising how "washed" our news is, which is both good and bad as I am not sure I could start everyday watching a man being smothered to death on TV but I would appreciate my news a bit less filtered. 

At 9 am we went and had breakfast and then toured the hotel to get a bit of exercise.  

Then back to the airport... the thought of getting on another airplane acutally made me sick to my stomach.  ugh.   Only for an hour (I keep telling myself).    They served a wonderful drink on the plane made with lemon and butterfly pea, no not butterfly pee... it is a flower, much like the hybiscus but this one makes a amethyst colored tea.   I loved it.    I have to remind myself to ask a Thai person what exactly butterfly pea is.

We rode the airplane to Krabi with a Thai woman who's leopard collared suit was accessorized with a leopard belt, purse, shoes, suitcase and dog carrier.   Her entourage of men carried all her luggage on board and buckeled her pomeranian into its own first class seat!   She had old lady hair... you know set in curlers, then picked our until it resembles a helment and finally shellaced with VO5.   She was cute.

We were quickly picked up by the hotel and escorted through the welcome platform.   (For those of you who want to see where we are staying it is here.)    We were welcomed with lemongrass iced tea and a symbolic thai welcome flower arrangement and there we met our butler, Joy.   I think both Mac and I were in shock.   This place is unusual... no front desk... everything you do is run through your butler.   We were given a tour of the facilities and then to our room.   The hotel and the grounds are stunning.  

Hotel pictures here

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wedding Trip Day 1 & 2 aka the longest day ever

Denver to Chicago to Tokyo to Bangkok...22 hours total flight time heading west, chasing the sun... we never saw darkness, until we left Tokyo and by that time we only had 6 hours left of traveling.    We spent these first two days eating our way thru every first class lounge and flight from Denver to Bangkok.   Thank GOD for Mac and his points... I had never flown first class oustide of the US or Central America... woah that is an eye opening experience.   We had our own cubicles, complete with toiletry bags and a full selection of movies and games at our fingertips.   Above is a photo of Mac in his cubbie.   I am so thankful... I don't know how I would have survived without it.

Once we landed in Bangkok we were suprisingly full of energy.   Customs was a breeze, or shall I say wasn't even open?   Yes we walked through.   We found a few Thai Sim card dealers found the best rate and bought one... 3 cents a minute to the US... AT&T, Verizon can suck it.   Our stop over (hotel) was across the airport parking lot.    We spent the night at a Novotel which was beautiful... staff was around every corner just sitting there waiting to help.    The Thai people have been so nice.   We managed to call our families to tell them we arrived and fell asleep. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Oh how did I forget about this recipe.   I made it last fall and fell in love, then proceeded to cook it every week until I couldn't stand it any longer.    Well we were reunited this week and it is STILL that good.   Ina... thank you for being so reliable.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
Barefoot Contessa

1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry (I also sometimes use spinach)
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Dinner: Chicken with Morels

Hi.   I know you all think I have fallen off the earth.   Not so.  My life this fall has been a whirly, crazy mess...there is a lot going on in my life right now... wedding, trip and some secret news.   All of which has been very distracting, consequently I have neglected my blog.   But, enough of all the turmoil in my life... on to food.

Those of you who know me, know how much I love Ina and there are many reasons to love her.   First, she creates (and tests) awesome recipes; second, she and her husband are so cute together I just want to run over to the Hampton's and hug them both; third, her garden and kitchen are so beautiful; and finally, she seems cool.    By the way people, she has a new cookbook coming out in a few day titled - How easy is That?.

Anyway, I love this recipe from her Paris cookbook.   It is Chicken and Morels and not for those who are dieting or on a strict budget (morels are about $14 an ounce).   But, it is a once a year fall treat that we should all splurge on.   I serve it with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Chicken and Morels
Barefoot Contessa
  • 1- ounce dried morels, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 cups very hot water
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1⁄4 cup clarified butter
  • 1⁄3 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup Madeira wine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) creme fraiche
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lift the morels carefully from the hot water in order to leave any grit behind in the liquid. Rinse a few times to be sure all the grittiness is gone. Discard the liquid and dry the morels lightly with paper towels. Set aside.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge them in flour and shake off the excess. Heat half the clarified butter in a large saute pan and cook the chicken in 2 batches over medium-low heat until browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to an ovenproof casserole.
Add the rest of the clarified butter to the pan along with the shallots, drained morels, and garlic. Saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring constantly. Pour the Madeira into the pan and reduce the liquid by half over high heat, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the creme fraiche, cream, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Boil until the mixture starts to thicken, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 12 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. To make ahead, refrigerate the chicken and sauce in the casserole and reheat slowly on top of the stove.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Hello all.   So I have finally caught up on everything that I neglected while I was gone.   Whew.   Just the amount of tomatoes almost crushed my soul.   Now I am busy thinking of other things... in four weeks I will be leaving for a month... to go here

Then here....

And finally here...

Yes.   I am one lucky girl.   Of course, while I am there I will be getting married AND turning 40, it takes a month to celebrate all of those things... I have so much to be thankful for! 

I hope to blog a bit while I am away, because I have never been away from my friends and family that long... let alone Ms. Moxie... I don't know how I will survive that long without her.    And I am sure you all will want to know what I am doing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Canning: Salsa

aka, Oh my god that is a lot of tomatoes, part deux.  

Spicy tomato Salsa
(About 12 – 8 oz jars)

9 dried chili peppers (New Mexico or Cascabel)
Hot water
12 cups diced tomatoes
3 cups red onions
1 ½ cups tightly packed chopped cilantro
6 Jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
15 garlic cloves finely chopped
¾ cup red wine vinegar
1 T salt

1. remove seeds from dried chilies and cover with hot water.   Allow to stand for 15 minutes.   Drain off half of the water and puree in a blender.

2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a stock pan and bring to a boil,.   Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
4. Ladle hot salsa in jars, leaving ½ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.   Wipe rim and add lids.
5.  Process for 15 minutes

Jalapeno Salsa
(makes 6 – 8oz jars)

3 cups of chopped tomatoes
2 cups seeded, chopped jalapenos (I only used 2 cups)
1 cup of chopped onions
1 cup cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a stock pan and bring to a boil,.   Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
3. Ladle hot salsa in jars, leaving ½ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.   Wipe rim and add lids.
4.  Process for 15 minutes

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

un, deux, trois jewlery club

I love the online shop, French General.   I haven't been on the site for sometime... but I noticed today they have a jewelery club, which is along the lines of a fruit of the month club, but so much better.   You are sent jewelry kits every month to assemble... so fun!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Canning: bruschetta

I have an extraordinary amount of tomatoes and jalapenos sitting in my house and since I bought the new Ball Canning book while I was in Montana, I thought I would try a few of their recipes out. 

Canned Bruschetta
Adapeted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
(makes 8 - 8 oz jars)

9 cups of roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup white wine vinegar
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup of water

1. Sterilize your jars

2. Place ingredients into stew pan and bring to a boil.   Cook for five minutes.

3. Fill jars leaving 1/2 inch head space, remove all bubbles and placed lids on jars.

4. Process jars in hot water bath for 20 minutes.

I will let you all know what it tastes like in a few weeks.