Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I'm Still Alive

I know I haven't posted recently.  I have been busy as all get out.  Mostly it relates to work.  Now that the saga of my Dad's passing has finally played out, I realized what a hit my business took over that year.  So I have been back to working big hours to get my business development engine back to where it was.  Happily I'm seeing the results and I think before too long I will be back to the type of maintenance mode that I was in before this all started.

Also with his passing, Wife and I have been doing serious, serious taking stock of where we are, what we want, and the importance of doing so sooner rather than later.  Fortunately I know the retirement industry really well and have been able to get some very strong advisers to assist us.  They have challenged a lot and made us dig deep into what will really make us feel satisfied and content in the long run.  I'm feeling very good that we have a pathway that will allow us to test the things we think we want and find those that actually are best for us.

I've been doing a different type of traveling going to Phoenix and Denver where a business I'm involved with is expanding.  I'm in Denver as I write this.  I'm flying home tomorrow afternoon.  Wife is picking me up at the Albuquerque Airport and we're driving to California where we've rented a house in the Central Coast vineyards.  Daughter #1 and family are joining us there.  I even remembered to bring my cord so I can get pictures uploaded!

I also have another mega-party with Cabinet Lady, Doctor Debbie, and Wife scheduled after we get back with more cooking craziness than you can imagine.

Will try to get back on the frequency posting wagon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cashing in on Virgin Sacrifice Account

I had a short trip to Phoenix earlier in the week and needed to stay overnight.  I went to the hotel site we normally use and the cost was almost double what it was normally (Like $230 a night for like a Holiday Inn Express level hotel!).  I did a wider search and was finding just about everything costing the same in the area.  (I later figured out this was because of baseball spring training jacking up all of the costs).

I decided to use HotWire.  I found a 4 star hotel for only $130 a night - nicer level of hotel for way less.  The problem with HotWire is you don't find out what you've bought until after you've made your commitment.  Turned out that I was in a resort that was way north in my acceptable territory.

When I got out there I found that it was incredibly plush.

And though I thought I was way north, I was only 15 easy driving minutes to my morning meeting.  Sweet. 

Who says virgin sacrifices to travel gods don't pay.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sacrificing a Thousand Virgins

We had more rain and snow starting on Friday and through the weekend.  It was our usual respectful snow, leaving the roads and living spaces alone and going to the mountains.  And if there is snow in the mountains, you know what that snow hiking!  And if de-I hikes in the snow, we're looking a virgin snow to sacrifice to the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel!

In my car waiting for Wild Bill to arrive.
Looks promising

Yes at about 7000 feet we leave first hikers behind and hit the virgin snow.
Each step I intone the mantra
"I sacrifice these thousands of virgin snow flakes to placate the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel!"
I will stuff enough virgin sacrifices down the little horse gods throat!

  Beautiful view when we reach our destination.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thankfulness is....

...having done my winter trip to Chicago three weeks ago and NOT this week.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Hard to believe that I can be writing yet again about food. 

A couple of weeks ago we were had a planning session with Doctor Debbie and Cabinet Lady for another of our party extravaganzas.  As they are raising chickens and have eggs galore.  I suggested we go to their place and I would whip up some soufflés.  There are those that think that making soufflés is very difficult but if you have ever made anything using whipped egg whites it really isn't all that hard.  Actually Wife tells me that I make this statement from the position of great expertise and I understate the difficulty.

Any way a soufflé is basically egg whites whipped into the stiff peak stage into which you fold a flavor base that is a cream sauce plus what ever flavor.  You put it into a pan in the oven and as it cooks it rises to an airy fluffy consistency.

Dr. Deb took this picture of our cheese soufflé,

I also made individual chocolate soufflés for dessert :)  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Dinner Report

The Dinner went well.  We were so glad that we had recruited the surrogate hosts because it took a lot of effort to get the food out and right.  Normally we cook for people we know well so it is pretty relaxed.  Since people paid for this we were feeling a bit of pressure.  Didn't get lots of pictures because we were so busy but got some.

Preparation - Day Before

Day one's cooking with the chicken sauce, greens ready for parboiling, and chocolate tempering station all in view.

Roasting meats and vegetables for my stock
I used my new pressure cooker to make stock for the first time
It was great.  Only took an hour when it normally can take 6 hours or more!

The only step-by-step thing I got photo documented - The Stuffed Beef Tenderloin Prep

I cut a pocket in the tenderloins.  The stuffing is Goose Liver Mousse with Duxelles (fine chopped mushrooms sauteed with shallots)

Once stuffed I wrapped the tenderloins in bacon and tied with string.
This is wrapped for storage.  Made this the day ahead.

Preparation the Day of the Event

Table set

All our notes of what goes in which dish so we don't miss anything and our timing list (which got totally screwed up almost from the start)

Glassware ready to go

All the components for three of the courses ready for finish cooking

The Menu

Asian Crackers for our Aperitif 

A Couple of Perfunctory Pictures of Finished Plates

Our first course of pate and gravlax

The Beef Tenderloin with potatoes, greens and sauce

The food turned out pretty damn good if I must say so myself.  Wife's granita was over the top even by her standards. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

THE Diner

Wife and I are putting on what is I believe the most ambitious diner party ever Saturday.  Most of the time our entertaining is on the more casual side.  However, I offered as a silent auction fundraising gift for an organization I support, a dinner for three couples.  The bidding didn't get as high as I would have liked but it wasn't a shabby amount compared to other things that were there.  We are hoping that we have a successful outcome so the bidding will go up for future events.

This is going a six course meal.

Aperitif -  We're serving belinis, a cocktail with peach juice (from our peaches) and Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine with a variety of Asian snack cracers

Course One, Cold Appetizer - A homemade French County Pate, homemade gravlax, homemade pickles, with a horseradish cream for the gravlax and whole grain mustard for the pate.  Gloria is baking her Italian Filone bread.  Accompanied by more Prosecco

Course Two, Hot Appetizer - A Spanish fried cheese tapa with a scallion vinaigrette sauce and a roasted corn salad. Accompanied by a Entre-deux-Mers, a white Bordeaux/

Course Three, Pasta - Fresh polenta with a chicken chasseur (chicken braised in stock, wine, and tomato paste) sauce.  Accompanied by a young Oregon Pinot Noir

Course Four, Main - Beef tenderloin with a mushroom, liver mousse filling, mashed potatoes, greens sauteed in olive oil and garlic.  Accompanied by a 2005 St. Emillion Premier Cru

Course Five, First Dessert - Homemade multi-citrus granita

Course Six, Second Dessert -  Homemade chocolate truffles.  Accompanied by a 2005 Unfiltered Port.

Wife and I were cooking all day today.  We got the bulk of the work done so tomorrow should not be anywhere near as much.  We even have recruited a couple who are friends of ours in our organization to come and act as hosts so we can focus on our cooking, plating, and serving.

It has been so busy, I haven't had time to photo document very much.  I will try to take a few shots tomorrow.