Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Here’s wishing you a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve. Please remember to be safe out there. Please remember that if you are out and about, you don’t need to drive if you have been drinking. Click here for some available options for safe transportation.

Christmas Eve Adventure

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Christmas Eve I was treated to a private flight over the Napa Valley. It was so much fun!! Flying out of Davis I got to see from the air many of the roads I have cycled on for years. It was awesome!

Christmas Eve Flight

Christmas Eve Flight

My friend let me use his camera to take pictures. Here are a few …

Pre-flight view. Look at that sky - nary a cloud.

Pre-flight view. Look at that sky – nary a cloud.

You can see Sacramento in the distance!

You can see Sacramento in the distance!

Just another cool scene headed out of Davis ...

Just another cool scene headed out of Davis …

I am pretty sure that is the Bay Bridge!

I am pretty sure that is the Bay Bridge!

Lake Berryessa

Lake Berryessa

Lake Berryessa Dam  - see that windy road to the right? I have cycled that a time or two.

Lake Berryessa Dam – I have cycled that windy road on the right a time or two.

Almost back to Davis ... luckily in time to avoid these clouds.

Almost back to Davis … luckily in time to avoid these clouds.

I am hoping to get to do this again!

Mushroom Risotto

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

This mushroom risotto was the main dish for Christmas dinner this year. Based on this recipe, I modified it just a bit. I added a lot more mushrooms (probably double and added oyster mushrooms to the mix), added a little smoked Gouda cheese with the Parmesan cheese, and I forgot to get flat leaf parsley. Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I did double the original recipe, which turned out to not be necessary because the serving size was pretty generous. The recipe below is not doubled, so it will make about 6 servings. Be sure to allow about an hour for total prep (25) and cooking time (35) and do remember the parsley!

Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms

Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms

Fresh Oyster Mushrooms

Fresh Oyster Mushrooms

Fresh Crimini Mushrooms

Fresh Crimini Mushrooms

Mushroom Risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 shallot, minced
about 6 ounces each: fresh shiitake, oyster, and crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (Pinot Grigio would be a good choice)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 quart hot vegetable stock
3/8 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/8 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (or cut into very small chunks)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Make sure to assemble all of your ingredients before starting. Once you add the liquid to the rice, you’ll need to stir constantly, so have everything ready to go.

Remember to heat the stock and keep it hot and close by for when it’s time to add it! Make sure you’ve got some hot water available, too, in case you need it to finish cooking the rice.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the crimini mushrooms and cook a few minutes, then add the shiitake, cooking a few minutes more. Add the oyster mushrooms last (they’re the most delicate). Stir frequently and cook until the mushrooms just begin to brown. Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and the Arborio rice. Stir to coat the rice well. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are golden brown.

Add the wine and cook until it’s evaporated, stirring constantly. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium low and begin adding the hot stock. Add about 1/3 of the stock, stirring until it’s evaporated. Repeat with the remaining stock. Each addition will take about 7 minutes of stirring.

Continue stirring until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy. You might need to add a little hot water at this step and continue cooking until the rice is tender.

Stir in the cheeses and flat parsley. Serve immediately.

Mushroom Risotto ... warm, creamy, rich, and satisfying!

Mushroom Risotto … warm, creamy, rich, and satisfying!

I hope your holidays have been merry and bright, filled with family, friends, and a heaping dose of joy. Now, let’s get to some cycling – the weather is beautiful out there today. If you’re out and about today in Northern California, be sure to layer up – it is chilly out there!

 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Here’s hoping everyone has a warm, wonderful, Merry Christmas!

I love polar bears!

I love polar bears!

Of course my tree is filled with bicycle ornaments!

Of course my tree is filled with bicycle ornaments!

... and more bicycle ornaments!

… and more bicycle ornaments!

... and a little bling!

… and a little bling!

Sorry for the really poor quality photos … taken with my phone.

Merry Christmas! Time to get ready for company. I’m cooking for friends and am so grateful. I hope to get some really good photos of the food and will post those when I can.

 

Cloudy & Full Moon …

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

It’s a chilly night here, and clouding up again for some more rain.

Full Moon & Clouds

Full Moon & Clouds

I can’t believe that Christmas is less that 2 weeks away. I better start some baking and menu planning and getting my house ready. The tree is up and I have a few things here and there. This will be my first Christmas without Mom. I might have to raise a toast of her special Glenlivet Scotch in her honor.

I’m not sure what to bake. I think I’ll open up Mom’s recipe box for some inspiration.

That Was A Nice Weekend

Monday, December 5th, 2016

… a very nice weekend indeed. I got to spend time with old friends and new. A little foodie retail therapy. A little cycling. Lunch and some chocolate cake at Konditorei Austrian Pastry Cafe. A stroll through the UC Davis Arboretum with some nice company.

Chocolate cake ...

Chocolate cake …

A view from the Arboretum ...

A view from the Arboretum …

My first Christmas tree in my first house.

My first Christmas tree in my first house.

I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow at work, so I really should be finishing up my chores and heading to bed soon.

Wrapping Up the Holiday Weekend

Monday, November 28th, 2016
Getting decorated for the holidays!

Getting decorated for the holidays!

The weather cooperated pretty well this holiday weekend. I was able to ride a total of 160+ miles

  • Wednesday = 57
  • Thursday = 40
  • Friday = 20
  • Saturday = 0 [rain]
  • Sunday = 54

I think I have successfully worked off the Thanksgiving Holiday meal, even that leftover piece of sweet potato pie I brought home. By the way, the pie was fabulous. This recipe will become a regular at my Thanksgiving table!

I was going to cook dinner for a girlfriend to night, but … I am so craving pizza right now. Looks like it’s a girls’ night dinner out.

Here’s a peaceful moment from today’s ride to enjoy…

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

WOW! It is glorious outside this morning. The weather forecast for today is cool, sunny, with light winds. It’s time to bundle up, slather with sunscreen, and get out on the bike. I’ve just got to figure out how to get to where I want to go without going through the park – it’s “Run to Feed the Hungry” day and they’re starting at 8:15 am and the park will be filled with runners and other participants.

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From yesterday’s ride – along Pleasants Valley Road.

Here’s hoping for polite traffic on the surface roads.

Happy Thanksgiving! May your day be filled with family, friends, and festivities! And … here’s hoping you get a great ride in, too!!

Let The Holidays Begin

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Tonight was a baking night for Thanksgiving. This is the first Thanksgiving without Mom, so I am especially thankful to have been invited to join friends tomorrow. I’m bringing appetizers, desserts, and the makings for Tangerine Mimosas.

I’ll be putting together a cheese plate tomorrow, with the star being baked brie with fig jam.

Brie with fig jam in pastry, ready to bake.

Brie with fig jam in pastry, ready to bake.

It’s Thanksgiving, so it’s time for a classic dessert, right? However, pumpkin does not agree with me, so I made a Sweet Potato Pie, based on this recipe. If it tastes as good as it smells (and looks!), it will be divine.

sweet-potato-pie

Sweet Potato Pie

I’m missing Mom, so I also wanted to bake one of her specialties. Mom made these every year during the holiday season, so when I came upon this recipe card, I knew that was the one to try tonight.

russian-tea-cake

Russian Tea Cakes … so tender and delicate … a childhood favorite!

Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be glorious, so I’m looking forward to a nice ride in the morning. Today I got about 57 miles in, a little rain shower, a lot of sunshine, a little breeze, and lots of smiling. Let’s just say that it was one of those days that I was glad I a little overdressed.

Rain?!

Rain?!

Here’s wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Three Day Weekends

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Don’t you just love three-day weekends? Especially when the weather is amazing? Until you catch that dreaded cold …

I got two days of good cycling in: 50+ miles on Friday and 50+ miles on Saturday. Both days I rode out to Winters from Vacaville and back. The routes were slightly different, so I feel like I can justify that. Saturday’s ride was a late start and I probably should have cut the ride a little short, but it was just too beautiful out. I guess I thought I could sweat the cold out, or something like that. Yeah, no, not this time. My ride back to Vacaville was pretty mellow on Saturday.

By Sunday morning I still felt a bit funky, but I mustered the energy to do a very mellow ride with some lovely scenery. These pictures don’t really capture the beauty of the day; they’re taken with my phone.

Just off Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville.

Just off Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville.

A nice, quiet country road recommended by some local cyclists.

A nice, quiet country road recommended by some local cyclists.

So peaceful ...

So peaceful …

Gates Canyon Road

Gates Canyon Road

Gates Canyon Road is a nice, mellow climb for about 2 miles. The cyclists I spoke with said it gets a bit steep after that and the pavement turns to gravel. I didn’t get to the gravel because a couple of vehicles needed to pass, so I got off my bike and got out of their way. Had I felt better, I might have restarted and gone further, but it was just right for that day.

The weather this coming weekend is supposed to be a bit stormy, so we’ll see how much cycling happens. It might be more of a hiking weekend. Perhaps it will even be a homemade bread weekend. I haven’t make homemade bread yet in my new home, so perhaps it’s time.

Oh, my … Thanksgiving is one week from tomorrow. Perhaps this weekend will be a good time to work on some recipes?! I’ll need some good, healthy food therapy to get through this holiday season. It’s the first one without Mom. She loved this time of year. Thanksgiving is supposed to be mostly sunny with about a 20% chance of rain and light wind (as of now, anyway).

Well, it’s time for Nyquil and sleep. I’ve got to kick this darn cold to the curb and soon!