Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dog day afternoon...where in the world is Gordon Ramsey...

It was suppose to be a fun day with lunch at a local culinary school with bloggers Sue at Rue-mouffetard and Rose from Santamakersjourney. Please see Sue's post HERE as no one can tell a story like Sue. She will make you laugh for sure.

It quickly turned into a dog day afternoon starting with Sue innocently taking a photo and being reprimanded by the manager of the dining room in the cooking school.

A picture is worth 1,000 words or in this case 1,000 dog howls!
This was my lunch.

I know what you are thinking. Pretty unappetizing presentation to say the least. Turning over just one of the burnt carrots and doing a minuscule sprinkling of garnish could not disguise this so called STEW. A complete and utter disaster. I bet Julia Child would turn over in her grave if she saw this atrocity. After being brave enough to consume a few bites of old shoe leather I had a strange sensation that I was growing a tale and had acquired a few fleas on my back. When I awoke this morning I had an obsession to to run after cars and drive with my head out of the car window.

Sue and Rose convinced me to call over the manager and send it back. The manager just asked if I would like something else and never said this should not have come to the table. How are students to learn if there is no communication? I watched as the plate was returned to the kitchen and the chef did not bat an eye. His lips never moved. No constructive criticism to the students. This does not surprise me as he had to have approved the presentation of the dish before it left the kitchen. Such a waste of the students time and money. How will they ever learn in such an environment?

After we leave Sue and Rose make a trip to the ladies room and I take out my little camera and start taking photos of empty classroom kitchens. I figure this is OK since the manager told Sue all one had to do is take photos without students or when students are present to ask their permission. Sounds fair to me. I snap away and am very impressed how spotless the entire facility is.

Sue is asking others for permission to take more photos and we are headed back to the elevator to leave and then it happens...

Sandra Lee and Betty Crocker and Rose are questioned by the Food Police!

We are confronted by not one security person but by two security officers.

The big guy asks Rose:

"What is the nature of your business here?"

Sweet quiet Rose offers no information. He says something about photos and I ask him if he thinks I am from a magazine with my little pocket camera. How ridiculous! I wonder if he thinks I am from the Board of Health? Sue comes around the corner and says we are just 3 crazy housewives having lunch. We have a sneaky suspicion that the totally unprofessional restaurant manager, who completely ignored us after the so called stew was politely returned, called in the Food Police. Luckily, the elevator doors opened and away we went NEVER to return to this gastronomical nightmare again.

I think the reason why they have such a large amount of security in the building is that they are holding Gordon Ramsey (my hero) hostage. He probably was also served the Beef Stew. They realize once he is let out and he talks about how dreadful his experience was the entire school will be TOAST!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Olympic Gold Medal Comfort Food...Foodie Friday...

I am freezing just watching all these amazing Olympic skiers fly down those snowy Canadian mountains. They are all such talented athletes and I applaud each and every one. They definitely eat their Wheaties. I wanted a big dish of comfort food to warm me up while watching TV this week. I found this recipe on the back of a box of Kroger elbow macaroni and thought I would be as brave as those Olympian athletes and take a chance on this recipe. I was able to put this together in record breaking time so it is certainly worthy of a GOLD medal.

Hot Tuna Salad

1 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 can tuna (6 1/8 oz) drained
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped (I personally did not use the eggs)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups celery, sliced diagonally
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Prepare macaroni according to package directions; drain.
toss together with remaining ingredients and place in a 2-quart dish.
Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
Serve hot.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.

For more Foodie Friday recipes please visit our hostess designsbygollum HERE

Remember I won the above Le Creuset pan from April Harris at the
21st century housewife HERE.
Go on over and visit April at her wonderful blog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sharks and Toasters...

click on photo

This past Saturday bloggers were invited guests of Creaxion at the Georgia Aquarium to view a special exhibit Planet Shark- Predator or Prey. The exhibit was creative, fascinating and informative. Full scale shark models, a display of real shark jaws, and a frozen in time 10 foot Mako shark are just some of the items that will amaze all who attend.

The most important information you will learn from this exhibit is that sharks are needed to maintain the eco system and honestly you and I have more of a chance of being killed by a faulty toaster then a shark.

Did you know that it is illegal in most international waters to take a shark for it's fin? Trust me, I have no intention of making shark soup for my cooking light group. Many countries find this soup a delicacy. This is when the tides turn and the sharks become the prey.

The largest whale shark found in the Indian ocean was 41 ft. 6 inches. Yikees!

The Longnose sawshark has teeth on it's nose. I bet he shreds a whole lot of Kleenex.

The largest shortfin mako ever caught was one off the coast of Massachusetts that weighed 1,221 pounds. What makes this so unique is that this is the fastest swimming shark with an aerodynamic body.

A Great White was caught in the waters of Cuba in 1945 and was 20 ft. 11 inches long. Look out boat people.

I found the safety information very helpful and wanted to share some of the tips with you.

Safety information
Sharks are often found in the presence of whales and dolphins as they eat the same foods so it is not a good idea to swim in these feeding areas.

Shiny objects such as jewelry can attract a shark. So leave your items at home.

Do not swim at dawn or dusk as that is prime feeding time for sharks.

Do not swim by those who are fishing.

Scott has sent along a combo pass savings for you to use on your visit to the Georgia Aquarium to see this amazing world class shark exhibit.
Thank you Scott.

Friday, February 19, 2010

No-Knead Oatmeal Bread...Foodie Friday...

It's party time today for Foodie Friday and I am bringing a hot loaf of bread to the celebration. I was originally planning to bring Chinese Food to continue with my Chinese New Year theme but had to put that recipe on hold. My imaginary sue chef did not show up so "Mr. Vundervants" had to step up to the plate and help. I did not think that my little sous chef was up to all that chopping since he can barely handle a spoon and fork at his young age! His kitchen gadget of choice is a sippy cup!

This delicious bread recipe comes from Kathleen's Bake Shop Cookbook . I have made this easy oatmeal bread for years. The best is that it is No-Knead. You still need to allow a few hours from start to finish but mostly it is time just waiting for the dough to rise twice.

Punching down the dough is the most fun for my little sue chef.

Allow for time to wash your hands after you punch down the dough.
"Mr. Vundervants" hates to have have his hands dirty.
He said this was "YUCKY".

No-Knead Oatmeal Bread

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
6 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl stir together sugar, salt and oats.
Add boiling water and butter; let stand until lukewarm.

If you would like to participate or view more recipes please visit our hostess HERE

Sprinkle yeast into 1/4 up warm water and stir until dissolved.
Add yeast mixture to oat mixture.
Stir in flour 1 cup at a time.
Dough will be sticky.

Transfer to a greased bowl, cover blow with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in bulk.
Life and drop into bowl three to four times.

Grease two 9- by 5 by 3-inch loaf pans and divide dough into two equal portions.
Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Bake in a preheated over at 450 F. for 10 minutes.
Lower oven to 350 F. and bake for anothher 45 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped withe your finder.

Remove bread immediately from pans and cool on wire racks. Yields 2 loaves.

If you would like to participate or view more recipes please visit our hostess at designsbygollum HERE. Michele it certainly has been so much participating each week in your amazing Foodie Fridays and I look forward to continue participating in the fun. Thank You!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fortune Cookies...Barney's windows...

This is such a fun and creative window at Barney's in Las Vegas
to welcome in the Chinese New Year.

It sure would be good fortune to have a zero balance on one's credit bill at Barney's!

History of the Fortune Cookie

The idea of fortune cookies was introduced by Makoto Hagiwara at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, as a refreshment to be taken while strolling the tea garden. The Hagiwara family was not business oriented, and there was never a patent taken out on the fortune cookie in any form (name, rights, cookie itself, or otherwise). This confection is said to be based off of a Japanese food known as tsujiura senbei, which is associated with New Year festivities at Shinto Shrines.

The tsujiura senbei, several generations old, is not sweet like the fortune cookies that were designed to fit American tastes. The novel idea of receiving a fortune in a light senbei cookie is not widely known in Japan. The tsujiura senbei contains a tsujiura (a writing that tells one's fortunes) inside a senbei (Japanese crackers). This senbei is traditionally found in Kyoto.

The origins of the Fortune Cookie as we know it today were laid down by the Chinese 49'ers who worked on the building of the great American railways through the Sierra Nevada into California.

Work was very hard and pleasures were few in isolated camps, those hard workers had only biscuits with happy messages inside, to exchange at the Moon festival instead of traditional cakes with happy messages, and thus the Fortune Cookie was born. This became something of a cottage industry and as the Chinese settled in San Francisco after the railway and the Gold boom the custom continued. Today it is almost impossible to have a Chinese meal in America and Canada without finishing with a Fortune Cookie.

After WWII, a number of Americanized Chinese restaurants copied the idea. Fortune cookies became very popular, served as a dessert after every meal at many restaurants. In addition to a fortune, fortune cookies may also contain lucky numbers (used by some as lottery numbers) and a Chinese phrase with translation.

Although they are served almost exclusively in Chinese restaurants abroad, fortune cookies are almost unknown in China. Places that serve them call them "Genuine American Fortune Cookies."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday...Chinese New Year...

To continue with the Chinese New Year celebration I wanted to share the photos that I snapped at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It is outdoor Wednesday but I thought since the weather has been so cold and snowy I could stretch the meaning of outdoors today and take you for a stroll to show you some colorful flowers that are indoors.

As you enter the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel guests are greeted with an amazing display of fresh flowers to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

The Bellagio Hotel has a conservatory that changes with the seasons and holidays.
No trip to Las Vegas is complete to me unless I visit the dancing fountains and the conservatory.
I was not disappointed this year when I saw this massive statue of the most powerful God of wealth and fortune who welcomes you into the conservatory.

This folk figure is dressed in the opulent costume of a high official.

Traditionally, his image adorns doors and walls of Chinese homes, bringing prosperity throughout the year.

Yards and yards of beautiful intricate and colorful fabrics are incorporated into the costume of the God of wealth and fortune.

We are greeted by the tiger which represents just one of the zodiac signs.

This mechanical tiger head swivels delighting the young and the old alike.

Bamboo and pretty red and gold bridges adorn the conservatory.

A baby panda bear takes a nap among the colorful flowers.

Pretty lanterns and pagodas welcome us to sit and relax before we journey onto the next part of Chinese New Year tomorrow.

I am sharing these photos at at a southern daydreamer HERE.
Thank you Susan for hosting this fun weekly event and allowing me to fudge the meaning of outdoors this week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chinese New Year...Sesame Balls...

These delicious sesame balls of glutinous rice flour, are filled with sweet red bean paste and rolled in sesame seeds. They are especially popular during the Chinese New Year. What makes sesame balls special is the way they expand during deep-frying. I have to warn you to be careful frying these in hot oil and turn the balls carefully to retain their shape. According to Chinese tradition, this symbolizes the way your luck may expand throughout the New Year.

There are lots of recipes for this treat in cookbooks and they seem to differ slightly. I am still searching for the perfect recipe. If you have the perfect family recipe I would love for you to share it with me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year...Year of the Tiger...Mosaic Monday

Click on photo

This Mosaic was assembled from snap shots that I took this month at the
Palazzo Hotel-Resort- Casino in Las Vegas.

I invite you to follow along on my blog all this week as I celebrate the Chinese New Year, the year of the Tiger, with photos, information, and Chinese recipes.

Please visit our hostess Mary at the dear little red house for more Mosaic Monday posts HERE.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Valentine Atlanta Bloggers Tea...Mosaic Monday,Tablescape Thursday, Foodie Friday...

click on photo to view detail

This past Friday I had so much fun hosting a Valentine tea for all my wonderful blogger friends in the Atlanta area. There was enough delicious food to feed an army of bloggers. New and old bloggers spent the afternoon eating and chatting about their blogging experiences. Your ears were probably ringing since we all agreed that bloggers are the best ever! If you would enjoy an in-depth review of the tea and seeing more photos and the faces of those bloggers who attended please visit Sue at Rue-Mouffetard HERE.

I also want to say thank you to all the bloggers who attended for your help in bringing amazing treats to share and some amazing hostess gifts which were appreciated. You are all the best!

Mosaic Monday is hosted by Mary at little red house HERE. Please share in the fun by adding a mosaic of your own or stopping by and viewing this weeks mosaics.

Please visit Between naps on the porch HERE Tablescape Thursday.

Please visit designs by Gollum HERE for Foodie Friday.

Please visit bargain hunting with Laurie HERE for the Valentine Party.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Focaccia with Olives and Rosemary...Foodie Friday...

Focaccia With Olives and Rosemary

This is one of favorite Focaccia recipes. It is a big hit with everyone who tastes this and I never have any to take home. They always request a copy of the recipe. I originally made this for my Cooking Light Cooking group. I have to say that the recipe is quick to prepare but you must allow 3 1/2 hours. The dough needs to rise not once but 3 times.

I have made the following changes to this recipe:

I sprinkle a little Kosher/sea salt on the top.
Blend the reosemary and the olives into the dough so that it does not fall off.
Make sure you use ALL the olive oil in this recipe.
Depending upon your oven temperature you may have to bake this 3-4 minutes less.

The recipe can be found HERE at Epicurious.

To see more delicious recipes please visit our hostess designs by gollum HERE

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vegas...Elvis and Michael Jackson sighting...Outdoor Wednesday...

Click on photo

And you thought they were gone forever?

Elvis may have left the building but not the streets in
Las Vegas.

Michael Jackson doing his moon walk shuffle on the strip.

The beat goes on!

Sorry to say the National Inquirer was not interested in buying my authentic photo!

For more outdoor Wednesday photos please visit our hostess Susan HERE
at a southern daydreamer.