Sunday, January 31, 2010

BK² Wasabi and Cheeseburgers

BK and AB (also known as BK and BK or BK²) hosted a wonderful family dinner last night. it was the last night many jessops would be in town . . . the last night we were all together until who knows when. and what a send-off they gave.
we were welcomed in from the snow to a roaring fire, cozy candlelight, and drinks of our choice. (gin and tonic for me please:)
wasabi cheese with wasabi crackers kept our appetites at bay as we anticipated our feast to come.
we flipped through photo albums and quizzed each other on canadian territories and provinces knowledge.
AB gave us the tour of her brand new shiny fridge - fancy ice/water dispenser and huge freezer to boot!
while in the kitchen, i grabbed a sneak peak of dinner.
looks like it's going to be a good one. AB and BK ground their chuck in house and man was it worth it! BK even braved the frigid temps to grill these babies outside, summertime style.
the men chatted it up 
while we waited for the grilling. all burgers were made to order too - rare or medium-rare with or without smoked gouda. but let's be serious, who wouldn't want cheese?!? no one here!
AJ and i both took some table shots. fire and candlelight made us feel warm and cozy despite the winter storm mother nature had brewing outside.
the salads were amazing! arugula salad with toasted almonds, pear, and goat cheese complete with a homemade creamy dressing. to.die.for. i could have eaten a whole bowl of that salad and left happy. but no, as fate would have it, i was also able to sink my teeth into a perfectly grilled, medium-rare, gouda smothered, lettuce, tomato, onion, and horseradish mustard topped, mouth-watering, juicy burger.
this thing was so big, i could just barely get my mouth around it. 
i must say, i topped this piece of heaven perfectly. every bite was better than the last. it was good to the last crumb. i devoured the entire thing - no joke. my tummy told me to stop but i just took a big gulp of shiraz and ignored that nonsense. i pushed away from the table full and happy and fighting an oncoming food coma.
others were unsuccessful at fighting the sleepiness . . .
i hope BK and BK weren't insulted by the "resting of the eyes" or the "examining the inside of the eyelids." in my opinion, it's the ultimate compliment. your food was so good, guests ate till their bellies were full and their eyelids became heavy. (don't worry the sleepy ones were chauffeured home safely.)

thanks again AB and BK, the food was fabulous, the wine was delicious, and the company was superb!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

i never made it to the gym yesterday. instead, G and i did some yoga and AJ joined us for a brisk walk in the snow. let me tell you, it was cold! roughly 16 degrees fahrenheit with a brisk breeze that joined us a times while the snow continued to fall.
meadowvale looked beautifully serene and quiet covered in a blanket of snow. it's as if time was standing still yesterday. every fence post and branch stood out wanting to be noticed.
i feel as though i can never take enough pictures of this place. every time i walk around the property it's as if my mind is desperately trying to remember every detail. i've had 29 years to imprint every tree, barn, window, gentle slope, and hill. yet somehow i need to grab hold of every minute, take deep breaths, and enjoy every precious chance i get to walk where poppop and mommom walked for trees, barns, windows, and hills may soon be gone.
so i still walk and i still photograph, and i still try to remember - to burn these images into my deepest memories.
i will long remember this snow and this very walk with AJ and G for this may have been the last particular snowy walk we share.
as we tucked the chickens into bed, collected the eggs, and closed the door, the ladies snuggled together to keep warm. and i hurried back inside to defrost my fingers and nose.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ping Pong Dim Sum Bacon Brother

at the end of a very long week, E asked me to come to one of his co-worker planned happy hours. i always have a good time at these things. his co-workers (and significant others) are all really fun. but, when last night rolled around the one hour train ride to DC felt more like a cross-country trip. i was starting to yawn, my tummy was growling, things were not looking good. i was beginning to second guess my decision to go.

luckily things turned around - quickly. ping pong dim sum is a great place. it was very W-esqe. modern, big paintings, minimalist.
E and i got there before everyone else which was nice. we got to have a drink and talk a little just the 2 of us. shortly after that, S and SJ arrived. E and i met SJ for the first time last night and i quickly discovered he is my bacon brother. no joke, this boy likes his bacon and he likes it the right way - crispy as all get out. we talked about the best blt we had ever had. mine was at a hole-in-the-wall gas station in columbia with dad. seriously, i still have dreams about this blt. we talk often about going back and we need to do that stat. SJ's best blt is from the gw deli. this is now on my short "to go to there" list. i cannot wait to get back to dc now so i can have a gw deli blt. don't worry, i will post about that as soon as humanly possibly.

so, needless to say, i was craving bacon like nobodies business. but alas, dim sum would have to do. so, like i said, E and i started out with a drink. a vanilla, lemon, vodka to be exact.
this drink was so smooth and lemony. it was awesome. E had two, i had to change it up because the ginger limoncello caipirinha was calling my name! (oops, no pic, it was too good to photo:) we also had some vietnamese spring rolls - again not pictured because i inhaled them. i was hungry!

finally, everyone else arrived and we ordered up a storm. in typical dim sum fashion, we just ordered a bunch of different dishes. E and i ordered 4, and they were all amazing. first up, we had honey glazed ribs (no picture) and vegetable puff.
the vegetable puff was amazing - perhaps my favorite of the night! slightly sweet and buttery from the pastry. it literally melted in my mouth. i couldn't really tell what veggies were in there but they were good. the ribs were good too. very tender and sweet from the honey. we gobbled them up.

next up was char sui bun and seafood dumpling. these were both super good too. i love dim sum!
(sorry for the bad pic - these are all using the blackberry. no camera tonight)
S also let us taste one of her chive dumpling with prawns. they were awesome too. the chives gave the shrimp a fresh taste.

if you are in the dc area, you must go to ping pong dim sum. it is an experience.

this morning, i woke up and was craving bacon - crazy. i can't imagine why but while E ran over to pick up dignan and roxy while i popped some bacon in the oven and whipped up a veggie scramble. we had some vegetables to use up in the fridge so i just thew everything in the saute pan. red onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. once they were browned and tender, i threw in 4 whisked up eggs, a sprinkling of shredded mexican cheese and done!
it filled my belly and satisfied my bacon craving. perfect! i'm off to the gym to do some cardio. i've been slacking this week. i only managed to make it to pt with G and that's only because i still have the chin-up (oops, i've been calling it a pull-up. G corrected me and said it's a chin-up since it's underhand) looming this tuesday. i think i'm ready though (fingers crossed).

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Valley Inn - For Poppop

all the jessops headed to what is quite possibly poppop's favorite place to eat (aside from maybe ribs at the corner stable) the valley inn.
there isn't a time i don't remember mommom and poppop going there for weekly dinners. the food there is quite good but it is somewhat of a miracle it is still in business. however, i will not focus on the negatives of the valley inn and will solely focus on the positives.
there are some truly beautiful paintings gracing the walls inside the inn. if you happen upon this historic inn in the winter, you will surely find warm, cozy fires burning in their many fireplaces.
perhaps one of the reasons poppop loved the place so much was everyone knew him there. he even had a special chair he always sat in. the hostess and waitresses always doted over him and called him their favorite. perhaps his favorite thing was to take other people and treat them to his favorite place. he wouldn't dream of having them even chip in. being generous was what poppop was known for and what he will be remembered for.
so, with heavy hearts and fond memories, we enjoyed our favorite drinks, toasted poppop, told memories, ate till our bellies were full, laughed, cried, and honored poppop one more time at the valley inn. that place will always hold a place in my heart because i have only been there with him.

if you are every in the brooklandville, maryland area, this historic inn is worth a stop to experience and eat a good meal. if you do, raise your glass to my poppop. that place may very well still be standing because of his loyal patronage.

in memory of WHJ, Jr.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yogi Cereal Review

this is quite possibly my new favorite cereal

i am always looking for new cereals. i often have it for snack rather than breakfast, but i love it nonetheless. cereal is an especially good late night snack. i happened upon this cereal the other day at wegmans and decided to give it a try mainly because it had cherry flavor without the dried cherries. i know i'm weird, but i don't like dried fruit mixed in with my cereal. it had always been a consistency issue with my. i want my cereal to be crunchy, not some crunchy, some chewy, some soft. bleck. while we are on the topic of the way i like cereal . . . it also has to be ice cold milk and i have to eat it immediately. don't distract me while i'm eating cereal. there will be no phone calls while i am eating cereal or answering the door for that matter either. there is nothing worse than mushy cereal in semi-cold milk. thus, it is best to enjoy immediately, without interruption. but, that's just me.

so, anyway, back to the yogi cereal.

first up, taste:
considering i just told you it is now my new favorite cereal, it won't come as much of a surprise that this ranks high of the taste meter. it has all the key elements of cereal in my opinion. it has crunchy flakes, crunchy clusters, nuts, and lots of flavor. the cherry flavor is very subtle yet wonderful. the crunchy clusters a slightly sweet and i love the almond pieces!

nutritional value:

i have a rule of thumb that i don't buy cereal with more than 12 g of sugar in it. luckily, this just met my criteria because despite the borderline high sugar content, it has lots of other goodness in it. the 3 g of fiber is pretty good and the 5 g of protein is excellent for cereal. those two things together will keep you fuller for longer. and check out the ingredient list (at right)!

 i love the yogi whole grain blend - oats, barley, spelt, amaranth, and quinoa, oh my! this cereal is jammed packed with nutritional goodness.

GCFE rating: 9.5 out of 10

this probably isn't a surprise. i love this cereal! the most exciting thing is i just bought another flavor - yogi walnut spice crunch. stay tuned for its review.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pears, Glorious Pears

last night we had one repeat and one new item for dinner. i made the pear and shallot pork for the jessops and aj and i decided her smashed rutabaga and pears would go excellently with it. keep it all in the pear family you know. to round out the meal we had sauteed green beans and carrots with caramelized shallots. so both the pear and shallots were a reoccurring theme. a nice reserve merlot went well with the dinner and i must admit i nursed an orange martini (vodka and triple sec) both before and after dinner.

green beans and carrots with caramelized shallots . . . mmmmm

everyone seemed to like the dinner although we did polish off some dark chocolate after. but seriously, who doesn't have room for chocolate after dinner?? there will be leftovers too - for lunch perhaps.

you can find the pear and shallot pork recipe here. the bon app├ętit smashed rutabaga and pear recipe is here. we doubled the ginger, used honey instead of sugar, light cream instead of heavy, and didn't re-heat the mash to remove extra moisture and it turned out just fine. whew!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Meadowvale Angel

we had a kitchen angel arrive at our door at meadowvale today. what a wonderful surprise!

mom's friend, S, baked up a storm today. she baked, and baked, and baked some more. then, when she was finished baking, she cooked some chicken for us for dinner. how lucky are we? she truly was our baking angel today. there is nothing quite like comfort food. and she whipped up some wonderful, comforting, baked goods.

chocolate chip cookies
 apple bread
 pound cake
 and finally, corn flake chicken with gravy (for dinner tonight)

i enjoyed a slice of apple bread with a cappuccino (an AJ special). she makes wonderfully frothy cappuccinos. G stole not one sip . . .

but two(!)

of my coffee goodness - grrrr!

but it hit the spot and gave me the pick me up i know i'll need to make it through the rest of the evening.

S kindly shared her apple bread recipe with me and allowed me to share it with all of you. it is truly wonderful. it was still a little warm when i had a piece. it was warm and goey, perfectly moist with a little crunch on top from some sugar dusted topping. yum!

Apple Bread
(makes 2 loaves)

3 cups flour (i would use whole wheat pastry flour for at least half of this)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 tbs vanilla
2 cup diced apples
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp flour (additional for walnuts)
1/8 cup sugar for topping (optional)

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

mix wet ingredients together in mixer. add dry ingredients a little at a time. toss walnuts in flour and add walnuts and apples, mixing just to combine. divide mixture between 2 greased loaf pans.

bake at 350 for 1 hour.

sprinkle top with sugar right out of the oven if desired.
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