Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lately

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
It's been a little quiet over here as we embraced the cold weather, battled to get the heat working in our old house, got oven some sicknesses, and kept ourselves busy with work in between. I've been drinking so much tea lately, coping with a lingering cough from seasonal allergies. Normally, earl grey is my favorite. But lately, some simple yerba mate with honey and lemon hits the spot and soothes a tickled throat. Tea in the evenings has been such a routine around here. In the beginning, the teapot would start screaming and Mordechai would race me to the kitchen. Now, he barely picks his head up to see what the new cup of tea smells like. It's the little routines that help me feel grounded.

Speaking of Mordechai, the weather lately has been so cool and he's been such a cuddler. He could spend hours on our couch, in between me and S. Whenever he's on his back I rub his belly, and when I stop he paws the air begging me to continue. In this short time that we've had him (4 months now), he's stolen my heart.

I've been listening to The Splendid Table podcast these days. I attended a baby shower out of town, and during the long, misty drive I listened to hours of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's soothing voice talk about eating your way through travels, creating recipes with hard to find ingredients, and food culture across the globe. My favorite parts are when they have great guests like one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris discussing Sedaris family dinner time, as well as when listeners call in asking her advice on what to do with something unique like espresso balsamic vinegar. It's a really great food podcast that inspires new dishes that all seem attainable.

In addition to events at the museum, I've been working from home editing blog posts for different clients of a branding company. This is one of the reasons my blog posting here has gone a bit quiet and less frequent, and also explains my lack of reading some of my favorite blogs and commenting. This time of year, everyone is incredibly busy, and this year I really feel that myself. Normally I can juggle anything that is thrown at me and I'm motivated to accomplish things that are challenging. However, this year, with responsibilities of taking care of a dog throughout the day, working from home as a blog editor in addition to working at the museum, and numerous social engagements with event season, I've been feeling stretched thin. I'm the type of person to be fond of "me" time whether it's with tea, a book, or even just watching bad TV shows on the couch with my dog. But throw in responsibility not only at work, but responsibility when I get home with blog editing and taking care of Mordechai, and I find less and less "me" time. It's been a huge transition period where I'm learning to balance an abundance of work and personal life that includes seeing friends regularly, keeping up with hobbies I enjoy like blogging, as well as kicking it back with Mordechai on my couch and an entire season of Downton Abbey. Just typing this out makes me feel a lot better about accomplishing it all and it puts into perspective how feasible it really is. Vacations and holidays like Thanksgiving always seem to come at the most needed times. It's been raining all day today, I've got biscotti in the oven, an entire pot of tea, The Sopranos playing on loop, and Mordechai drooling next to me on my suede couch. It's just what I needed.
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Monday, November 10, 2014

A Guide To Thornton Park

Monday, November 10, 2014
One of my favorite bloggers, Christine, did a Destination: PDX post and it inspired me to write a little bit about the small area we live in. We moved from Winter Park to Thornton Park, both near and in Orlando, FL. We loved Winter Park because of it's small downtown area with brick roads, tree lined streets that are decorated for the holidays, and sidewalk restaurants and endless window shopping. We moved to Thornton Park which has the same brick charm and sidewalk restaurants, except it is way less uppity and more casual. Thornton Park has more of a sense of community with it's dog friendly bars and walk-ability.

Some of my favorite local spots:

Benjamin Bakery // We go here for crusty baguettes that taste just like the baguette tradi in Paris. They have delicious sandwiches, macarons, and even sell some foreign candy like our new favorite Daim chocolate bars. When we walk Mordechai early in the morning, we pass by people enjoying their coffees at this sidewalk cafe.

The Falcon Bar // Beer and wine only, but who can say no to $1 sake? Also, the DJs here play some great 80's alternative and new wave, and once in a while it's Bring Your Own Vinyl and the DJs will play it. It's super low-key with local art on the walls and the greatest mid-century vintage couches to lounge on if you don't want to sit at the bar.

Eola Wine Co. // This is an old favorite. They have wine flights, cheese and nut plates, and wonderful flatbreads. We always sit outside under the string lights and it's always relaxing.

Dexters // One word: brunch. Also, the most delicious red velvet cake ever; it's a bonus that the red velvet is gluten free.

The fountain // We pass this on a daily basis when walking Mordechai and it's really calming. And I may or may not know the person who used to put soap in the fountain every year.

Events, Parades, and Fireworks  // Our little area is lucky enough to have the annual Gay Pride Parade which runs one block away. We missed it this year but Mordechai was still able to go. There's also the weekly farmer's market a few blocks away, as well as the lake. People go running and walk their dogs around the entire lake after work, on weekends, and there's fireworks for New Year's, Fourth of July, and other events on that lake which we'll be able to see from our front lawn.

Utility Box Art // Nearly all of the utility boxes in the downtown Orlando area have been painted by various local artists. My favorites include a mid-century one by a park, a shopping and restaurant Thornton Park themed one which I saw Plinio Pinto painting, as well as one near all the antique shops in Ivanhoe Village that depicts two women sitting on a shore in tribute to an old theme park in that area called Joyland.

Walkability // We walk to the grocery store, the 24/7 convenience store (wine whenever I want? really?), the popsicle shop, the lake, and numerous parks. Within the last year S sold his car and we only have mine. With living in Thornton Park, we don't need a second car. I drive 10 minutes to work and S bikes to his office in 5 minutes. If one of us ever has the car, there's always something to do with in walking distance of home for the other.

We still have many different places to try like Maxine's on Shine, Shari Sushi, and Mingo's. We had a fun Halloween going downtown, hanging out at a balcony bar with friends, overlooking the crowded streets below. I worked our annual fundraising gala at the museum, and then we had 8 events in 6 days. This past weekend my cousins and aunt and uncle visited and we enjoyed Harry Potter at Universal (again!) courtesy of my dear friend, Steven. This time, my camera was away, and I enjoyed the experience for what it was - immersion in a fictional place. My little cousin knew what everything was and the references to the books; she remembered more than I did!

This time of year, my favorite time of year, normally inspires me to cook and try different wines, entertain friends and family, and attend events across the city. Life has been busy and overwhelming lately, making it hard to indulge in my favorite traditions. I am so looking forward to picking up some winter veg at the market to cook a hearty meal with, enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and popping open this years Beaujolais Nouveau. No matter how busy it gets this holiday season, I will indulge in my favorite festivities, I will make time for the meals I want to cook, the friends I want to see, and I will make holidays themselves a priority, because these are the best times of the year. 
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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Grandma Licha's Enchiladas

Tuesday, November 04, 2014
S's grandmother on his father's side passed down some amazing recipes, one of them being her enchiladas. They aren't enchiladas like you get at a fast food taco place. Her's are more delicious, and simple. 

I never got to meet Grandma Licha. S's aunt gave him a video of her making some classic Mexican cuisine and I feel like I know her a little. She and I both share a love of cooking and it's great to not only have her recipes, but to see how she cooks as if she was in our kitchen today.

These enchiladas can take you to Mexico. Not only did Grandma Licha pass down this recipe, but she always made hers with a particular brand of chili powder. She first bought that chili powder in a little bodega in Chicago while visiting her family. Now, the rest of the family follows that tradition by continuing to order the chili powder from El Popular. They don't have an online shop set up and they only ship it in bulk, but we were able to order ours via email with a credit card. Grandma Licha used to have to send a check in the mail and wait for her shipment to arrive after that. Five pounds of chili powder later, and it was time for enchiladas. 

Grandma Licha's Enchiladas
40 small flour tortillas
14 ounces of muenster cheese
1/2 of a yellow onion
2 tablespoons of chili powder
water
vegetable oil
  • Pour an inch of water into a shallow dish like a pie dish and stir in chili powder. Dip each tortilla into the mixture to coat each tortilla with chili powder.
  • In a saute pan, heat a thin layer of vegetable oil on medium and fry each tortilla on both sides; about five seconds per side.
  • While fried tortillas cool, shred a block of muenster cheese and finely chop an onion. Take each tortilla and put a thin layer of shredded cheese and chopped onions, and then roll each enchilada.
  • Place each enchilada into a baking dish and just before eating, heat in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to lightly crisp and completely melt the cheese. Enjoy!

This recipe can bring Mexico into your home; or, you can head there to experience all the authentic cuisine for yourself! Mexico's culture is full of color, traditions, and incredible food like these enchiladas. You can travel to Mexico too and travel groups like First Choice can help make the trip an unforgettable destination.

This post was contributed by First Choice
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