A present for Mommy

Originally uploaded by marymompics

On our way home from the ice cream store we stopped and got a present for Mommy. Nathan thought this was a great idea and picked out the sunflowers. He was as excited about them as Ryan was. They matched flower heights and discussed petals and sepals.


Originally uploaded by marymompics

And finally here’s Sam whom we didn’t feed at all! Sam’s just begun eating actual food and ice cream is not on his list yet. He is just the happiest little person. He always has a big smile for us. He is especially happy with his new mobility. He’s learned to get to sitting, crawl and pull up to standing all in the last few weeks.

We started by sharing an order of fried calamari with squid ink aoli. The calamari were perfectly done and the bitterness of the squid ink aoli was a great foil for the sweetness of the calamari. We have been on a calamari quest ever since they closed Starz in Oakville and this calamari and the calamari at Mustard’s have come pretty close to ending the quest.

John ordered wood-grilled pork and olive sausage, calabrese braised romano beans and yukon gold potatoes. I thought the sausage was a little dry but he thought it was just right. Supposedly you eat with your eyes first. This was not a great dish for the eyes.
P5100015.JPGThen on to Chateau St. Jean for a little wine sipping on their back deck.  Bob (whom we call Alpha Bob because he seems first among Bobs there), served us all our favorites.  Phillipe charmed us with his usual bulls*&# and then we too tired to drive back to Pleasanton.

Not being able to find a room at the Gaige House, our favorite, in Glen Ellen, we opted to stay at the Kenwood Inn and Spa.  Word of warning – this place is incredibly overpriced and NOISY.  Plus there was no wireless internet.  But it was a nice room and a gigantic bathroom and it seemed a better choice than driving home.

We had a great day in wine country.  We ate great food, tasted great wine and spent a great deal of money.

August 18, 2009 Slow cooked pork chop

Low temp pork cooking

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Remember how good pork used to taste? And then they made skinny pigs so people could have low fat pork. It cooks up dry and tasteless.  What was the point? Just because something is low fat doesn’t mean that people will want to eat it.

When we were visiting my sister this summer, she made some really good pork chops using the technique recommended by America’s Test Kitchen. They turned out really well. So we decided to try it.

You have to get the butcher to cut you some really thick pork chops. You roast them in a 275 degree oven until they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees. Then you transfer them to a pan and sear all the edges bringing the internal temp up to 145. To avoid the mess we seared the pork chop outside on the grill.

We call this dish Incredibly Yummy Brussels Sprouts. The sprouts are cut in half and started in a pan with a little water and a little butter. I leave the lid on the pan slightly canted. As the sprouts cook the water evaporates. When you are down to just the butter, you throw in some dry sherry. The sherry evaporates imparting a nutty flavor and then the sprouts brown in the residual butter.

The finished dish

Originally uploaded by marymompics

And here’s the finished dish. The pork has been finished on the grill. It’s still juicy and slightly rosy in the center. The Brussels sprouts are browned and the whole thing is served with some curried rice and a glass of Imagery White Burgundy. Pretty yummy.

August 14, 2009 Concert in the Park

Karen and Joe

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Karen told me that the last time that I posted their picture that she didn’t like it. So I am trying again. Karen and Joe look so happy together. It’s nice when you socialize with a lot of people who are happily married (like we are) for a number of years. We are a dwindling species. The band, Finding Stella, was playing. Jonathan’s group, Hookslide, opened for them once at the Main St. Brewery. They are pretty good.

Madelynn and Steve

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Madelynn and Steve also come to the Friday nights at the park. We were a small group of only six this past week. A lot of the regulars were away at a golfing event. We made a frittata with potatoes, red peppers, onions and mushrooms. It’s a good thing to make when you don’t have a lot left in the refrigerator. But I don’t think it was much of a hit. John ate most of it.

Bear and Abbie

Originally uploaded by marymompics

And of course I can’t leave out Luree and Bill’s dog, Bear, and Madelynn and Steve’s dog, Abbie. Abbie’s on the end of the red leash but due to the fact that she’s black and the background is black she kind of blends in. They enjoy the hard rocking music of Finding Stella. They also like all the attention and extra snacks they get as well.

August 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by marymompics

Ryan had this picture on her blog and it is just too cute for me to pass up. Look how sweet they are together. Sam thinks Nathan is just the best and Nathan is willing (usually) to tolerate Sam. In exciting Sam news, he pulled himself up to standing today.

In dull Mary and John news, John has been working all week and I miss him! I was a little complain-y when he left this morning. I hope he took it as a compliment.

I’ve been getting all my health maintenance stuff done. It makes me more aware of my increasing decrepitude. Special vitamins today for possible macular degeneration in the future. It runs in the family. I think when you turn 60 all the red flags go up.

August 10, 2009 A visit to Nathan and Sam

Nathan and Zayde

Originally uploaded by marymompics

On Monday we went over to Ryan and Jon’s to see Nathan and Sam (and also Ryan and Jon.) I figured since they had just gotten back from Colorado the night before, they could use a little pre-made dinner so we fixed a lasagna and brought it over.

Nathan was so excited to see us! We could hear him calling out the window as soon as we pulled up. Of course he was also interested in presents. I think he’s got the whole when-Beeba-and-Zayde-are-away -they-bring-back-presents thing figured out. Nathan’s looking a bit tired in this picture. He is still recovering from the time change and being up late but he had plenty of energy to play trucks and blow bubbles and build towers.


Originally uploaded by marymompics

And, wow, has Sam grown in the past two months! And he has accomplished so many new skills. He can sit up. He can crawl. He grasps things and plays with toys. He’s working on pulling himself up to standing. He’ll be running around before long.

Sam is also a very happy baby. He has a smile for everyone which lets you see his two new teeth. He probably didn’t remember who we were but he made us feel like he did with his hugs and smiles.

P-town Friday night in the park

Karen and Joe at the Park

Originally uploaded by marymompics

Let’s see, since last I wrote, we drove the 660 miles back to Pleasanton in one day. Whew! It is pretty exhausting. Sarah came over and spent the day and we played tennis a few times. But now it is time to get back into our social life here. A long standing tradition among our group is to go down to the concert in the park during the summer. Although I didn’t get pictures of everyone, here are some highlights.

Diana and Peter at the Park

Originally uploaded by marymompics

So the picture above is of Karen and Joe and this one is of Diana and Peter. Everybody brings food to share and also wine. Really, what do you expect? We are Californians after all. I think this week we had a taco type salad, a pasta salad with sausage, shrimp cocktail, and a Chinese chicken salad that we made. There were some other dishes as well but I can’t remember them. Must be the effect of the wine.