Saturday, August 29, 2015


The kiddo is becoming an engineer.

Dining at Mourad in SF

Last night we had dinner at Mourad's and tried the evening's tasting menu.

It was an extravaganza for the pallette. Every serving created something wonderful for the eye, "mmmmm" moments for the tongue, and an exquisite smiling delight. It was an experience. It was pretty wonderful.

I now realize I don't need to learn to cook. I just need to eat out at these kind of restaurants.

Pink Bloomers

"These are my new pink bloomers" reports the Bambina.

"They are roomy enough for me to do my morning stretches. See?"

Save Me San Francisco by Train

Train, a musical group from the Bay area, delights us with showcasing many of the local visuals with this catching tune.

The song is a reminder that San Francisco is a place of unique and special energy. It can be a place of refuge. A place of freedom. A place of creativity. A place of change and hope.

Save me, San Francisco -  because it can. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Practicing my arias

Gramz, I'm practicing my arias....

listen....pretty cool, huh?

Kombucha Update

The other day I made Kombucha. I've been waiting until I could force myself to try this new creation. Well, today was the day. The heat was awful and I was dying of thirst, so it was easier to talk myself into taking a swig.  So I swigged. And didn't die.

This kombucha batch was made from kefir rather than a scoby. It didn't taste at all like the stuff you buy in the store; it wasn't very sweet nor was it bubbly. It tasted rather homemade, kind of like something you may find on the set of Little House on the Prairie, which is better than the set of Little Shop of Horrors, but still nothing to shout about. So it was a win, but not a very big win.

I have since purchased a REAL scoby so next time I'll follow the recipe exactly and see if I can become master of the Q-Kombucha domain. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

A B-Day Celebration for the Bambino

Now THIS is a CAKE!
What a perfect celebratory dessert for a 2 year kid who LOVES trains. Special thanks and appreciation to the gracious hostess who created this fantastic masterpiece....

and then also shared their lovely home so Bambino could romp and play with his best buddies, eat some goodies, and then open gifts.  

I think this b-day created a wonderful memory for the lad and will continue to linger in all of our hearts and minds because it was shared with wonderful friends and family.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Astronaut on Mars, aka "The Martian"

The Martian - a story of an astronaut left on Mars and what he goes through to stay alive until (or if) he gets rescued.
This is a rather intriguing story, but when you throw in some quirky humor, you get completely drawn into the story.
But what makes it even more interesting is seeing how HUGE problems get broken down into teeny tiny bite size pieces as stepping stones toward a bigger goal, and you begin to walk away with an awareness, "oh yea, this just may be doable after all". It's a good reminder how overwhelming problems and situations get resolved - a little at a time.

The book is great and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.

The Astronaut of a Kombucha Kitchen

I'm reading "The Martian" by Andy Weir, and one thing I've taken away from this book is that problem solving and survival often means you compensate with what you have. These same principles can transfer to any situation. Even the kitchen.

I mean, how many times have you heard a cook say they swapped ingredients or portions in a recipe because it was not available? A LOT! So that prompted me to use these same astronaut-like principles in my own domain.

I began with wanting needing to make kombucha. As you may know, kombucha is one of those healthy fermented beverages filled with probiotics. It takes about 10-14 days to ferment and it begins with a scoby, which is a fermented blob. This is what a scopy looks like (based on my internet search).

But since I didn't have a scoby, I improvised - just like an ASTRONAUT! After all, I was stranded in the kitchen with nothing but water to drink. I realized I had some kefir grains (tiny fermented crystals from milk) so I used them to start making my kombucha.

But after several days of those krystals swimming in sweet tea, this is what my kefir crystals produced - a weird looking scoby:

Yes, I know. It totally looks like shit!  
I filtered out all the kefir crystallized scoby and it now looked a bit more normal for kombucha.

Naturally, the next step would be to drink this concoction. But just like a good astronaut, I first needed to record the event in my log (aka blog) just in case I DIE from this fermented drink.

I mean, I'm just doing the same thing a Martian astronaut would do, but in the kitchen. With an apron rather than a space suit.  And a tiara rather than a helmut. 

Authentic Thai Coconut Soup

My concoction of this recipe, Authentic Thai Coconut Soup, did NOT look anything like this photo. So, either the photo is a fake or I did something completely wrong (which is probably the case).

In my despair of observing my failed masterpiece, I wondered why in the hell I was trying to learn to cook at this stage of life (post children and pre-retirement). I mean, why not learn pole dancing or to finally play the piano?

I then remembered the moment of answering that question of "now what?" It was after I acquired my Qigong Therapy certificate and started my Qigong practice. I realized that since nutrition is one of the foundations of health and wellness, and most restaurants and prepared foods are filled with preservatives and chemicals, I had to learn to cook. I mean, have you ever read a food label? Chemicals! Most of the food in that product is filled with preservatives, and most of that food was grown with pesticides imbedded in their internal cells! The result is our body doesn't know how to use those foreign agents. Eventually the organs will give up trying to figure it out and say "to hell with you! You figure it out!" The result is there a lot of people with low energy, low libido, chronic disease, cancer, or even psych problems.  Hence, my new adventure - learn to cook with real food and heal the world!

My cooking goal has been to create foods that are a delight the eye, as well as the palette (connect with the soul), but are also good for the body.  Health and wellness for the body, mind, and soul is my new mantra.

So, here is that damn recipe.  Maybe yours will look more like the photo.

Authentic Thai Coconut Soup  (from Allrecipes)

"Galangal and Kaffir lime leaves are combined with coconut milk and shrimp to create a delicious Thai soup. If you have all the ingredients on hand it's easy to put together and makes the perfect comfort food. If not, it only takes one trip the Asian market. It's so versatile you can make it vegetarian or substitute chicken for shrimp. Enjoy!!"

1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and
2 (13.5 ounce) cans canned coconut milk
2 cups water
1 (1 inch) piece galangal, thinly sliced
4 stalks lemon grass, bruised and
10 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the shrimp until cooked, about one minute. Drain shrimp, and set aside.
  2. Pour the coconut milk and 2 cups of water in a large saucepan; bring to a simmer. Add the galangal, lemon grass, and lime leaves; simmer for 10 minutes, or until the flavors are infused. 
  3. Strain the coconut milk into a new pan and discard the spices. Simmer the shiitake mushrooms in the coconut milk for five minutes.
  4. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar. 
  5. Season to taste with curry powder.
To serve, reheat shrimp in the soup, and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with green onion and red pepper flakes.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Singing Happy Birthday

The grandkid has had a full day of birthday excitement with goodies, gifts, and birthday songs sung to him through the day. At days end, after bath time, and while getting ready for bed, the Bambino wraps up the events by singing the song he heard through the day - happy birthday. It makes me smile. You can see and even feel his joy and satisfaction from this day of honor and celebration.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Happy b-day Bambino

The Bambino turns two!
He loves books, his iPad, trains, legos, stacking boxes, trucks, putting things together, pushing things around (like a cart or a broom), his mommy, daddy, and new baby sister. And Curious George. He is a pretty happy, thoughtful, and loving kid. And very curious. And funny (he likes to laugh).

Yep, he has captured my heart. 

Get up every morning with a smile on your face

Work has been kind of sucky for a few weeks and I started to dread going to the office to fight the dragons. But this morning, as I woke up from dreamland, this song was playing in my mind - "you've got to get up every morning with a smile in your face and show the world all the love in your heart..." and I thought, "yep, it's time to change my attitude and appreciate there are dragons out there I get to interact with and learn from.

So I'm sharing my new morning mantra with ya'll, "Beautiful" sung by Richard Marx.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sage advice for my granddaughter

I thought it was time to start passing on some of my sage wisdom to the new grandkid. My first bit of grandmotherly advice was about the rules of the kitchen.

"Don't drink and chop at the same time" I tell the Bambina.  "If you have sharp knives, leave the wine for another time."

"What the hell is Gramz talking about?  What is wine? The only thing I've ever tried is breast milk. What else are they keeping from me?" 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fe fi PHO fum

I acquired basic cooking schools in Utah, using the Centerville Ward Relief Society mimeographed and stapled cookbook as my guide for being master of the kitchen. Those recipes were mostly cookies, cakes, jello salads, and casseroles. It wasn't until I relocated to California, I discovered a whole new world of foods, flavors, and recipes beyond jello.

This week I'm interested in Vietnam, so when the kids said their FAVORITE Vietnamese dish was Pho, I decided to try compiling and cooking this exotic dish. Obviously, I began the process by finding a Pho recipe and settled on one called "Authentic Pho" from Allrecipes.  I then compiled a list of the ingredients needed for this concoction and journeyed off to several stores to get all the ingredients. I mean, who has beef bones in their refrigerator, right??

I should have read the prep time FIRST, but I didn't. Prep time alone is 9 hours; 9 f*cking hours! I can already tell today's cooking is going to require a bottle of wine. With a straw. Going directly in the bottle of wine.

Filling the pool

"More water! We need more water, they say!" mumbles Bambino.
"Don't they know this pool is a bit bigger than a wading pool and will take me longer to fill it up?"

Friday, August 14, 2015

Twinkle Toes

"Gramz, stop calling me old twinkle toes. I'm not that old!"

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My New Writing Partner

"Gramz,  what are you sharing about me on your blog?" the Bambina asks.
"Hey! I didn't say that! This is totally out of context! I want a retraction or at least partial writing credit for all my humdingers."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Qigong the Bambina Way

"Gramz, I have created a new Qigong exercise for babies" says the Bambina.
"First, center your body and be at one with the universe."
"Then, bring in your legs and visualize pulling vibrant healthy qi into your body through your legs while you inhale. Like this."

"Then, extend your legs out and visualize pushing out stagnant qi energy from the core of your body as you exhale."

"Did you get that? Pretty good stuff, huh?"

Toilet Waterfall

Many people talk about bucket lists and their desires for traveling adventures. One of my friends recently visited China and shared news of seeing an unusual travel experience - a waterfall made from toilets! Yes, toilets; American style toilets.

The United States may have the largest fry pan in the world and also the biggest ball of string, but Foshan, China, has a waterfall made from 10,000 toilets. It is art; not a dump.

I assume those who visit will hear the soft gentle tinkle of water and then feel the need to pee. Others probably either laugh, gag, or just shake their head and wonder. But others may find it speaking to their inner self. After all, is not art a type of truthsayer, allowing our hidden emotions and feelings a way to come to life and get expressed? So what is that message embedded in the waterfall of toilets?

Well, I believe it is saying "I don't give a shit!" over and over and over again. 10,000 times. And, finally, I agree with its statement. I don't give a shit for this art, either.