Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Celebrate a Kentucky Fried Christmas

It may be May (har har), but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the warm, cozy, bizarre Christmas presented in this amazing find.

A fried chicken holiday spectacular.
Yes, ladies and gents, that is Christmas Eve... with Colonel Sanders. All of your holiday favorites, in one beautiful vinyl. It is sure to add spice to all of your all evenings.

Let's explore further...

...should we call for help?

The Colonel looks dead. More specifically, he looks like he was trying to suppress a giggle, then caught himself off guard by dying. Or he is trying to feign sleep so the giant Christmas chickens don't come back to life and seek their revenge.

Henri Mancini signed up for this?

It has all of your holiday favorites! Just think - you could sing with your kids, or plop them down and throw on an old timey fast food record. It is the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

The only collector's edition of anything you will ever need.
...and don't you forget it!

Oh yes. This is a VERY special collector's edition for Kentucky Fried Chicken. To add to the rest of your Kentucky Friend Chicken record collection. Or porcelain bucket collection? Or basket liner collection?

In fact, a quick Google image search does yield the following:

2 Piece And A Biscuit Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Play Set in Original Package from eBay

Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Play Set Complete in Box + Instructions from eBay

So we have that going for us. Touche, Internet! 

There also is a Christmas Day with Colonel Sanders, so the festivities never have to end.

Do you have a fast food Christmas tradition?

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Cruise Through South Pasadena Homes

Subtitle: My Creepy Afternoon.

This past week, I got very lucky and was gifted a half day of work. As such, I decided that I wanted to work on my stalking photography skills, and take some photos of the beautiful houses I often drive by. With more or less no knowledge of architecture, please don't judge my classifications too harshly.

Plus, doesn't this guy look like he needs a walk?

Such a sad, deprived dog...

To provide some context, when my husband and I first decided to move to South Pasadena, we felt as if the neighborhood houses had the ultimate "Americana" vibe. It was as if everyone in America, as portrayed on TV, lived on streets just like those we can find around here. Since moving here, we have come to realize that one of the main reasons we got this feeling is because, indeed, so many television families HAVE lived in these houses (in a manner of speaking).

South Pasadena is continually aflutter with film crews, many of whom work for popular TV shows, all filming the beautiful home exteriors. The houses are picturesque, classic Craftsman styles for the most part and ranging in size from grand to quaint.

To kick off our unofficial house tour, Dooley and I headed down toward Mission Street, aka South Pasadena's Downtown area, and wandered North into the neighborhood. Camera slung around my neck, I'm sure I looked like a snooping paparazzo with a furry alibi.

First up...

I LOVE this house. This may be my favorite house in the area, because it is the manifestation of a classic haunted house. It's like Old Man Withers' house, from which you and your friends flee after thinking you see a ghost in the attic while walking by.

It is so rare to see houses this size and this style in the Los Angeles area, with old school brick and meandering stairways. There even is a grand veranda. So dreamy. Even the gate's lighting is Gothic and beautiful.

If I were to daydream about moving into any style of house in particular, outside of the brick haunted paradise, it would be a Spanish-style home. The bungalow we live in now is decorated in hacienda colors and Mexican folk art, and I love the idea of an expansive Spanish- or Mission-style house.

Taking these photos probably made me look less like a creepy stalker, more like an insane person talking out loud to her dog about how we should live there.

We took a quick stop at this pretty street corner for some sniffing.

...after which he started sneezing for about a full minute. Doggie allergies, one presumes.

The trees in the general Pasadena area are also spectacular. The Jacaranda trees have purple flowers and only bloom twice a year. The Spring is gorgeous to behold, albeit probably a major pain to those who garden.


There are also a selection of more modest houses, bungalow-style. These look positively idyllic, like the home of the heroine in most chick-lit novels (the ones I read, anyway).

Look at this lemonade stand, for crying out loud. This is the cutest thing ever.

Even the fire hydrants are charming and quirky.

...before you go thinking that I work for the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce or have decided to become a realtor, I really am just a big fan of this area. The Pasadena area (once considered impossibly far away from the hip West Hollywood neighborhood I used to live in) is a superbly picturesque place, and would recommend to anyone looking for a place to live.

It is so fun for both woman and dog to explore.

What are your favorite Los Angeles neighborhoods?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Meandering Thoughts on Book Series

Is there any better way to spend a lazy morning? I sure as heck can't think of one.

The Ultimate Morning
Ryan is currently reading his way through the Harry Potter series, and it stirs up so many memories. I remember waiting for the midnight book releases, wand in hand (courtesy of my dear friend Cassie). I remember the enthusiasm for a book that truly did reach folks of all ages. I remember getting Order of the Phoenix the night before my brother's wedding, opening randomly to Harry and Cho's kiss and having my mind all aflutter until I could figure out the progression that got them there.

Of course, being in college, I was arguably too old to be reading these. But then again, everyone in the world was reading them so I hardly feel self conscious.

Being presently on the second book on the Fifty Shades of Grey series (which I have been somewhat reading for the last year, typically reserved for long baths), I can hardly say I have found a new series that captures my interest quite the same way. I poured through Hunger Games, Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series at a pretty steady clip, but they miss the humor, the world building and the intellectualism of Harry Potter. Even the quiet intellectualism that comes out in the names and the literary allusions.

And, let's be real, a lot of them just aren't up to the general quality bar.

Enter Game of Thrones. My geeky new obsession, albeit acknowledged that the first book came out in 1996. I am struggling to keep up with the books in tandem with the series, but am now on Book 3, A Storm of Swords. Holy cow are these books good. Some of the best-written female characters in literary history, as far as I am concerned (excepting Jane Austen). The ability to read a book in which you have genuinely NO idea where the characters' storylines are heading is exhilarating. There are so many opportunities for self-identification and reflection, it is like a breath of fresh air and a stein of heavy stout all in one.

I may have also gotten a little obsessed with both the books and the show over the last few months, resulting in me getting this for the husband for Christmas:

Yes, our sigil is a Golden Retriever.

I am sure I will have many Game of Thrones posts to follow. I own A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, so food adventures are inevitable.

Does anyone else have any series they are obsessed with? Medieval recipes?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Freezer Binge Cooking - Day 2 (and 3 and 4)

The cooking day hath been completed, and several tasty meals have been born! Specifically, 45 individual servings of easy weeknight goodness.

For those of you who missed my first post (and its nerd-tastic planning), you can check it out here. This post is going to more 'memoir' than didactic, and I recommend checking out the recipes themselves for more of a detailed breakdown. It also may have morphed into three extra days of cooking, not because of difficulty but primarily because I am easily distracted.

One detail I was arguably way TOO excited about was the fact that I was able to procure some restaurant-style takeout containers in which to store two portions each. These babies are courtesy of Amazon, which was very handy for stacking (read: stuffing) our new food in our already-packed freezer. Hey man, four half-used bags of frozen peas take up space!

Ooooh, sexy containers. You headin' my way?
But what went in those containers, you ask? Oh I will tell you.

The very first step on the cooking day was actually remembering to take out the spinach for the lasagna I was going to make that afternoon, which has to be fully thawed. Thank you, planning notebook!

When it came time to begin the real cooking, the chili was first up. This is Pioneer Woman's "Simple Hearty White Chili," which cooks on the stove for several hours. I prepped the necessary produce for the recipe, and let it cook on the stove so I could move on to prepping the rest of the produce needed for the day.

On to Martha Stewart's Primavera Lasagna. Oh this lasagna is good. I started by making the creamy sauce (made with whole milk instead of cream so, you know, zero calories), then added the vegetables and let it all cook together while prepping the other lasagna components. Mainly cheese. If making at home, be sure to prep an extra cup of grated cheese or so for snacking, otherwise the lasagna won't turn out right.

Once prepped, the lasagna is layered and put in the oven. Here is the final product, pre-freezer:

Lasagna Primavera and White Chili. So so good...
Lasgana money shot.

Having pre-shredded all of the produce for Smitten Kitchen's Stuffed Cabbage, I cooked up the parsnip, carrot and celery and set aside to cool.

...then I realized I was running super late for my friend's amazing Crawfish Boil and decided to make the rest of the stuffed cabbage the next morning. Which, thankfully, worked out very well! This is a great place to stop if you have to dash out.

The next morning, full of crawfish, I picked back up and finished the filling, prepped the cabbage leaves, and assembled the rolls, letting them stew in tomato sauce.

Tomato-y goodness.

Turns out, doubling the recipe makes a LOT of stuffed cabbage, which I conveniently forgot from the last time I made this recipe. I'm talking 16 servings.

Ready to freeze.
As the cabbage cooled, it took no time to throw together the Black Eyed Peas in a Spicy Goan Curry. I immediately spooned small servings into freezer bags and stacked them so they could be frozen as sleek, thin rectangles.

Yes. I made a bit of a mess  by the time it was all done.

Cleaning service, anyone?

The one straggler that made its way to Monday was the Curry Chickpeas with Dill, out of sheer laziness. However, making a double batch on Monday yielded two dinner servings and three hearty lunch servings, so it was all worth it. It really does make an excellent lunch. No photos. Too hungry.

So.... there it is! A fantastic binge freezer cooking weekend (+Monday). All things considered, it really didn't take me long at all for the amount of meals that we have. It is also much cheaper to buy everything at once and prep in bulk. Highly recommended! We are reaping the bounty tonight and having a much more leisurely evening, no cooking required.

What are your favorite freezable recipes?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Freezer Binge Cooking - Day 1

Last night, Ryan and I had an amazing night of Game of Thrones, cleaning, and going to bed early (our favorite kind of crazy night). The trick? Having. Dinner. READY.

Some time back, Ryan was out of town and I spent a full day making a bunch of big batch meals to freeze - it was a glorious day of watching all of Season 2 of Luther on my iPad, hanging with the dog and feeling monstrously productive.

As the days are getting longer and I would much rather spend my evenings relaxing and not prepping meals, I have decided to do a Freezer Binge Cooking Day this weekend. Because I was hungry when I picked the recipes am feeling ambitious, I am going to try my hand at no less than FIVE freezable meals. They are as follows, with links:


Primavera Lasagna

This one is the most complex of the bunch, but is great when you have a full day to commit to cooking. As lasagnas go, this one is one of the healthier recipes you can find.

Curry Chickpeas with Dill 

This dish is an absolutely delicious, simple dinner. It is very easy-to-follow for Indian novices as well, which was important to me as I am only now teaching myself Indian cuisine at home.

Black Eyed Peas in a Goan Curry

Also from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices by Ruta Kahate
Handy Online Version

This was one of the other early dishes I made from this cookbook. In the description, this is called out as a common breakfast dish. If you like spicy food, as I do, it is nice to mix up the same 'ol breakfasts with something with more character.


Beef-Stuffed Cabbage

from Smitten Kitchen

The ultimate comfort food? Definitely in the running. I will cook these as the recipe recommends, then heat up the thawed versions in some marinara sauce on low temperature, covered.

White Chicken Chili

from Pioneer Woman

Another phenomenal use for a Costco chicken, and this recipe serves about 6 (amply) or 8 (modestly). Super hearty.

The Preparation 

The written prep day is my absolute favorite, compulsive day where I go through and make a huge shopping list and cooking strategy. Writing all these lists out by hand is my preferred method as it gives me an opportunity to wrap my head around the recipes' ingredients, preparation steps and time so I will have digested it (no pun intended) by the time I reach my cook day. Here is my personal method:

Nerd, anyone?
  1. Create a shopping list divided by store, and organized into total quantities of an item for ALL recipes. I use an online tool,, for this as it will allow you to create a shopping list which is automatically organized into store categories, and can be categorized further by store.
  2. Organize to-be-prepped ingredients in format of (specific recipe quantity) (ingredient) -> (preparation method), with the recipe it corresponds to noted on the right. 
  3. Using the above list, I can take everything that has the same method of prep and move into one task (e.g. if I am grating carrots, ginger and mozzarella, I will do all of the grating at one time while I have the grater out and then portion out per recipe later)
  4. Review printed copy of recipes, and make notes on how long I realistically think each step will take, whether it cooks on the stove or in the oven and what dish it needs (e.g. if I am making chili in my big Dutch Oven and it takes 2 1/2 hours, I will start that first so it will be done by the time I need it to cook my stuffed cabbage).
  5. Do one last read-through of recipes to ensure there isn't some major step I'm missing (e.g. let beans soak 6-8 hours or let frozen spinach thaw).
  6. If I am feeling VERY Type-A, I re-write the recipes with my own shorthand. I retain information better by writing it out by hand, so this by this stage I can usually just reference the recipes quickly for quantities.
This is the type of amazing control and strategizing that makes me feel like I am a superwoman, dominating the kitchen and planning the eff out of my friggin' weeknight dinners. I am Martha! I am Ina Garten! I am... well, organized for a change. Let's see how this goes...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ode to Yeti Head

I can think of few things more unique than my prized Yeti Head. What is Yeti Head?

He is a bust of a human's face made our of a deer's backside. The tail, as you can see, is the goatee. It was given to me by my uncle, who procured it from an unknown store in Grass Valley, CA on vacation. My aunt was very willing to get rid of it, and I was very willing to have it. The nickname "Yeti Head" stems from the direct physical correlation, in my eyes, with the famous Yeti. He sits on an old telephone stand in my 1920s bungalow. And he is spectacular.

There are several remarkable things about my Yeti Head.

Firstly, you love him, or you hate him. When bringing new friends by the house, it is always fun to present them with the Yeti Head and see what their verdict is. Many are enthralled, and take numerous photos. They want to know all the details about its creation, procurement and meaning. I often take this has a solid sign of a budding friendship if someone reacts with such enthusiasm, as it means we probably have the same weirdo taste. Not loving Yeti Head of course doesn't mean we will not - in fact, my husband can't stand the thing. He tolerates it alongside all of my other bad habits (if there are any, being practically perfect, I'm sure...).

"I don't know about this..."
Secondly, my dog's reaction to Yeti Head. Or any dog's reaction, for that matter. Somewhere deep in that head remains the scent of the wild. The scent of the animal from whence it came. Not to mention the terrifying, steady glance it levels out across a room and over all creatures. Dooley will be walking in or out of the bedroom and, roughly ever few weeks, will suddenly catch the Yeti Head's eyes and give it a skeptical, sidelong glance. Occasionally, he barks. Even more occasionally, he will lean upward to give it a good, deep investigative sniff.

Lastly, his personality. If I was to give Yeti Head a personality, I would say "good sport." He has been covered in so many hats for photo opportunities, he would have to be. Plus, if you Google "head made of deer's butt" and see the other image results... he is far less terrifying. He looks more stoic than most terrifying deer heads.

Finally, home protection. I mean, who could rob us if you have a seemingly-possessed evil relic staring you down? Hopefully no one!

Do you have any weird relics you can't get rid of? I'd love to hear about them!