Dec 23, 2010

Holiday Zoo Lights at the National Zoo

DC has a multitude of holiday-related events going on. I finally had a chance to do something fun this week when we went to Zoo Lights at the National Zoo

National Zoo Main Entrance

We saw entries from their gingerbread habitat contest. I loved this one because of the small details that the maker created. For instance, the Christmas tree had meat ornaments on it for the lions. Cute! 

Here's another example of the gingerbread habitats.

This was by far the strangest thing I've seen in a long while. It's a snowglobe with a dancing human dressed as a panda wearing a Santa Claus hat inside of it!

There were little displays around the zoo, including this ocean themed one.

We also got to go into many of these exhibits like the reptile and small mammal houses.

Big iguana

Merry Christmas, sleepy porcupine!

Dec 3, 2010

Giveaway: $35 gift certificate from

I'm happy to announce an opportunity for one lucky blog reader to win a $35 gift certificate to If you still haven't had a chance to visit CSN Stores, they operate 200+ websites with thousands of products. While I enjoy checking out their travel accessories and cookware, they also sell everything from backyard furniture to barstool and lighting. continue reading--->

Nov 16, 2010

Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show - Washington DC

The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show was held on November 13 and 14, 2010 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. I decided to go after finding tickets on Groupon for $32. My ticket included general admission to the show as well as entrance to a celebrity presentation of my choice. Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray and Paula Deen were this year's featured celebrities, and I, of course, chose Paula.

A look at the show from above. As you can see, the show drew quite a crowd.

Here are the four things I learned from attending the show:
1. Apparently, cooking and entertaining is synonymous with condiments. Visiting the exhibit floor was one of the aspects of attending that I was looking forward to. However, after a stroll down a couple of the rows of exhibitors, I discovered that the "condiment show" would have better described what was going on. If you like hot sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, chutney, dressing, marinades and the like, then perhaps waiting in line behind a bunch of people to dip a pretzel into each of the sauces is your idea of a good time, but I had bigger fish to fry.

Condiments, anyone?

2. I wouldn't mind working for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT). Every year, NASFT hands out the sofi Awards, recognizing innovative new food products, which means someone or a group of someones has to taste thousands and thousands of these new food items. One of the tasting workshops that was included in my general admission was to taste some of the sofi Gold Award-winning products including: bacon, a "naanwich," chai, chocolate, vinegar and two condiments. 

I enjoyed most of the products but wouldn't know what to do with the condiments or the vinegar. Also, I am not much of a chocolate person so I did not enjoy that one much. 

My tasting set-up
Nueske’s Wild Cherrywood Smoked Uncured Bacon, Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods: Tandoori Chicken Naanwich, Spread Health Foods: Nutmeric Ultra, Rishi Tea: Masala Chai Concentrate, Stonehouse 27: Cashews & Cream Indian Cooking Sauce, Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Company: Olive & Sinclair Salt & Pepper Chocolate Bar, South African Consulate General: Rozendal Hibiscus Vinegar

3. Baked goods have the nicest booths. In addition to condiments, baked goods, teas, cheeses, ice creams, coffee, popcorn, nuts and beverages could be found on the show floor. I found that the baked goods had the most eye catching displays. 

Whoopie pies

4. Paula Deen is a bad girl. Okay, so this was a whole lot of funny and not a lot of cooking demonstration. I don't think I've laughed that much in a long time, and I have never seen so many people in DC having such a good time. To put it mildly, they tend to be a little grumpier than Californians.

Paula had her husband Michael along for the ride, and Dr. Jill Biden made a special appearance to say hello to the military spouses in the audience, who were at the show because of the work of Operation Home Cooking. Showing us how to make stuffing and ham fell by the wayside, and instead, Paula entertained us for an hour and half with her stories and Southern hilarity.

Here are a few of the tidbits she told us:
- Don't ask a fat girl what her favorite dessert. You know she likes all of them.
- Paula has a cat named Pumpkin who likes to catch lizards and then eats the whole thing except for the head which Pumpkin leaves in the bathroom.
- Michael told Paula to tell us how she multi-tasks now that she's old. She told us that when she sneezes, she pees and poops at the same time.
- Paula's red sweater was sent to her by a Texas designer, but sometimes he gets her size wrong. She had Michael wear it for a couple of hours to stretch it out to the perfect fit.

The one and only Paula Deen
Paula and Jill Biden
Michael, Paula and Glenn preparing the stuffing
Paula had a booth on the floor as well, where they were selling some yummy seafood dip.

After a good four hours at the show, I couldn't handle the crowds anymore and was not interested in walking the floor to find things other than condiments. There were a few tasting workshops that I missed and I didn't spend any time at the cooking stage where local DC chefs were doing demonstrations. Overall, it was a fun day and Paula's presentation by itself was worth the price of admission. 

Nov 4, 2010

In the Kitchen: a Product Review

My products from arrived some weeks ago, but I only had a chance to put them in to use recently. Shopping with CSN Stores is...continue reading ->

Oct 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I always have fond memories of Halloween. One of the neatest Halloween activities I've done in the past was to attend Dia de los Muertos at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. To have access to such a fascinating cultural tradition that I never had exposure to as I was growing up is amazing to me, although this celebration tends to be a mixture of tradition and current happenings.

Below are some photos of the event from 2006 including the altars and dancers.

Be safe and happy halloween!

Oct 29, 2010

Say Cheese: Shutterfly's 2010 Holiday Collection

This could just be me, but I have always thought that sending your friends and family cards with your face on it was some how strange and narcissistic. Over the past few years, as we’ve all grown up and...continue reading->

Oct 25, 2010

A Whole Lotta Home-cooking

Raisin Bread and I have been cooking up a storm at home. This week is another story because I had finals but here is a sampling of some of my favorite dishes so far.

Pork chops with cranberry port
"Greek-style" fritatta with spinach, black olives, feta and sundried tomatoes
Pork chop with apple butter glaze
Roasted whole carrots
My version of California Chicken Cafe's broccoli (crack) salad
Avocado, cucumber, carrot and shrimp sushi
Stuffed acorn squash with bacon-wrapped asparagus
Crab cakes with sauteed spinach

Oct 15, 2010

A Visit to the Farm

Last weekend we decided to check out the farm of one of our farmers market vendors: Cibola Farms. They are located about an hour and a half away in Culpeper, Virginia. They mainly raise hogs and bison and it was wonderful to see the animals first hand.

Other than us, there was one other visitor who came from Alexandria and the farmhand who was working that day. This is one place that doesn't have anything to hide.

Cibola Farm's sign

While we were visiting, the worker drove around on a tractor doing his work and once in a while we would run into him again around the farm. I really wanted to see the pigs, so we asked him where they were. He told us that we could unlock one of the gates at the end of the path and they would be there. He reminded us to chain the gate again, not because he was afraid that the pigs would get out but because the bison might wander over there and there aren't any gates on the other side of the parameter so they would wind up wandering into the streets.

The pigs were absolutely fascinating to watch. They love their mud and they seem both curious and slightly skittish. 

Piggles walking towards me!!
Muddy piggle
This pig was my favorite. He's a red head.
This bison was a twin. Isn't he cute?

The bull of one of the herds. There was another bull that was twice his size but we couldn't see him because the other herd was roaming freely and we weren't allowed into that part of the farm. Bison look slow but they can run and charge. 

Sep 29, 2010

Wellingtons: Am I too old for these?

It's fall here in the nation's capital or is it capitol? I still can't figure that one out. Can a thirty year old woman pull off wellingtons? How about wellingtons with fat blue birds on them?

If not how about classic Hunter wellies? I think these are slightly more age appropriate, but still can't figure out how to work them into my wardrobe.

Entirely unrelated, for those who don't know, I am an MBA student at an undisclosed school. Today in my accounting class, I took home two new pieces of knowledge, which have nothing to do with accounting.

Take away #1: This is the Donald Rumsfeld chart.

Know                 Know
Know                 Don't know
Don't                  Know
Don't know         Don't know

Take away #2: Why averages are unreliable
If you are standing in a bucket of ice and your hair is on fire, on average, you should feel comfortable.

Sep 24, 2010

Coming Soon: Product Review

I was recently approached by to participate in a product review. If you aren't familiar with this company, CSN Stores operates 200+ websites with thousands of products. They sell everything from furniture and upholstered headboards to...Continue reading ->

Sep 15, 2010

What I'm coveting: Rope Necklaces

Raisin Bread and I went to Pennsylvania last weekend to visit his family and attend the Doylestown Arts Festival, where his sister was exhibiting. Being there reminded me that I am really coveting a rope necklace. Fabulous, aren't they?

Aug 31, 2010

Eat slowly, deliberately, and with pleasure

"Eating with the fullest pleasure - pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance - is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend."

- Wendell Berry

Aug 30, 2010

Hiking in Arizona

Arizona happened to be the place I found myself for my first anniversary with Raisin Bread. He lived in Phoenix for a number of years, and we were in town for his friends' wedding. We wound up being there for the weekend and took the opportunity to explore a number of the areas natural wonders.

Phoenix in January is absolutely perfect with its sunny skies and mild temperatures. Our first day was spent driving to Sedona and taking in Red Rock State Park. We both weren't appropriately dressed to hike. Instead, we found some easy walking trails and drove to various viewpoints.

It always amazes me just how diverse the landscape of our country is. Time has carved these beautiful and unusual pieces out of the land for us to enjoy.

Sedona's Red Rock State Park

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is literally built into the rock formations in Sedona and is open to the public. Being a formerly religious person, I still have a deep respect for the religions of the world and seeing the church combined with nature was stunning. 

The Chapel of the Holy Cross

Although I would have liked to have explored Red Rock a little more, just looking at it was awe-inspiring. Every formation had it's own life and presence. It was also a romantic way for us to celebrate our first year together. 

Red Rock State Park

We weren't the only couple enjoying the view!

Couple at Red Rock State Park

Sedona struck me as an extremely hippie town. There were galleries selling all sorts of Southwestern artwork, vegan restaurants and a whole lot of alien-related establishments including Ye Olde UFO Store. 

Ye Olde UFO Store

The UFO has landed in Sedona

In Phoenix, we went on two hikes after the wedding. The first was Papago Park or as Raisin Bread calls it "the rock with a hole in the middle." Another neat rock formation in the middle of a big city.

We walked up to the rock with a hole in it and saw the city through the other side. 

Papago Park's hole in the rock

Our real hike came later with a trip to Camelback Mountain. You can see this mountain from all over the city, so I have always wanted to climb it starting from my first visit to Phoenix in 2004. I am not sure what the name of the trail we went on was but it was a little hairy in sections. 
As you first begin to ascend Camelback, the view contains a bunch of Phoenix's cookie cutter homes. Not exactly a serene view.

View of Phoenix from Camelback Mountain

But as you continue up and look back down towards where you came from, you can see the entire length of the "camel's back."

Camelback Mountain

I didn't take many more photos on the rest of the climb up because the trail basically ends. It is rock scrambling the rest of the way up to the summit. Keep in mind that this was during the new year holiday so there was a bit of a bottleneck at some sections. 

Once we got to the top, we were met with a tree that had been decorated for the holidays!

Summit of Camelback Mountain