First time out in 13 months! 4/8/21

John and I planned a treat for ourselves and went out to lunch, dinner, and stayed over at hotel for the first time since February, 2020. I have to admit that not being able to go to restaurants for over a year probably helped a lot with staying on a diet but now that we are semi-free to do so, I have to figure out strategies to make good choices.

Since we were scheduled for a wine tasting at Imagery we decided to go to Salt and Stone in Kenwood first. For lunch I ordered mussels and John ordered octopus. Seafood, as a long as it is not fried, is always a good choice. Giving John my bread is also a successful strategy for me but probably not for him.

Pretty outdoor setting at Salt and Stone
John with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Mary with a glass Chenin Blanc
John’s grilled octopus
Mary’s mussels

Our lunch was followed by a wine tasting at Imagery Winery. We sat outside and it was a perfect Spring day to do it. Flowers were blooming everywhere and the temperature was just right.

John and poppies at Imagery
Mary at the winery
Tasting menu

After our tasting we made our way to the BW Sonoma to check in, have a little rest, and get cleaned up for dinner. The hotel is very near the square in Sonoma and it is an easy walk to EDGE, the restaurant associated with Stone Edge Winery.

We had a four course meal paired with wines which had us eating hamachi, a salad, halibut, and buttermilk ice cream. Of course these were not simply the item on a plate but each course was carefully prepared with delicious accompaniments.

Dining outdoors at EDGE

It was so great to go out again. We still need to be careful but now that we are vaccinated, we feel much safer than before. We are looking forward to more outings and travel soon.

Passover celebration. 3/27/21

Hopefully this is the last of our pandemic Passover celebrations. Although it was fun and delicious, it is even better with the whole family here.

Pictures from our 2021 Passover –

Table is set!
Seder plate
John lighting the candles
John reading Hebrew
Matzo ball soup
Mary and Clark
Grilled lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and asparagus with sauce grabiche
Sarah’s delicious macaroons

Celebrating Alex’s birthday. 3/7/21

Alex is turning 15 this year. I cannot believe it!! It seems like such a short time ago that she was just a little kid. Ah, well, I guess we all get older (and older.) John, Sarah, and I took a trip over to Jon and Ryan’s house for a little celebration. Of course since it is still pandemic time and not everyone has been vaccinated, we celebrated in our masks outdoors. Jon, Ryan, Leigh, and Sarah cannot wait for it to be their turn to get the vaccine.

Here are some pictures from the day –

Alex and Sam in their matching outfits
Ooh, cookies from Auntie Sarah
Opening some presents from mom and dad which included a new scooter and some high tech headphones.

We gave Alex some Spring clothes which is not terribly exciting but I know will be appreciated when the weather warms up. (If it ever does!!)

Visiting St. George with Jonathan. 2/26/21

We decided to take a week’s trip to St. George to enjoy the sunshine, the beautiful scenery, and to celebrate our vaccines. We invited Jon to come along since he is a great lover of the St. George area. He can play tennis, golf, and hike as well as accompany me to the grocery store and cook while he is here.

We have rented accommodations at the Villas at Entrada where we know the units are fastidiously cleaned and the tennis courts are a short walk away. We have stayed here before and are always interested in how one unit varies from the other. In this one, 2502, there is a separate potty room in the master suite bathroom and a powder room for communal use. We are up pretty high in the development so the views are spectacular. The kitchen is equipped rather poorly but we have brought along things that we felt we would need and can manage quite well.

Living/dining area

On our first day here we take a trip to Harmon’s to get our groceries for the night’s dinner. Shopping is a special mom and Jon activity. In the afternoon we play tennis. It is pretty chilly here but out in the sun even temperatures in the 50s are okay when we are running around.

Jon about to hit backhand
Jon set up for forehand
John about to hit forehand

After we are cleaned up we take some pictures from the little table and chairs in front of our villa. It has a great view of Snow Canyon.

Jon enjoying a Negroni Sbagliato
Mary and John
John and Jon

Our welcome dinner is the always fabulous Kenwood shrimp. It is a group effort with Jon and me cutting the veg, me cleaning the shrimp, and John doing the cooking. I think it turned out the best we have ever made it. Could it be that adding all the cream makes a difference!?

Kenwood shrimp – shrimp in a Pernod/white wine sauce with brunoise vegetables served over rice
Close up

Purim celebration. 2/25/21

We do not usually celebrate all the Jewish holidays but since we are still pretty isolated due to the pandemic, Sarah thought that finding occasions to celebrate and make new things was a worthy project.

The idea with Purim is that you read the Book of Esther from the Bible (Esther was a Jewish queen who outwitted the evil Haman and saved the Jewish people from destruction), give to charity, eat triangular food (the shape of Haman’s hat), and get a little tipsy. Sounds perfect!

We started out with some crackers and hummus. Since Esther was Middle Eastern we figured this was a fine appetizer to have.

Hummus with triangular shaped crackers

Rather than make our own triangular food we hit the frozen food aisle to try to find some already made items. We were actually hoping to find spanakopita but no luck. We ended up with samosas that were stuffed with chickpeas and a tamarind chutney and came with a delicious cilantro sauce. I am planning on using this new found sauce on many things in the future. The samosa manufacturer, Sukhi’s, was nice enough to put the recipe online.

Chickpea samosas with cilantro sauce

Our next find were Buffalo chicken poppers which were triangular and spicy. These were fine although it was hard to find the chicken in them and were not nearly as good as the samosas.

Triangular Buffalo chicken poppers

Finally we had homemade hamantashen that Sarah made. They were wonderful! The cookie part was crisp and delicious, kind of a like a sugar cookie. The interior was a great prune jam that she also made.

Sarah’s homemade hamanstashen

We really enjoyed our Purim celebration. Taking turns reading the Book of Esther taught us some new things and it was fun booing whenever Haman’s name came up. Maybe we will do it again next year quarantine or not.

Two other red letter days early in 2021. 2/15/21

Some good things are happening! On January 20, 2021, Joseph Biden was sworn in as 46th president. We are so happy that the dreadful Trump administration has ended. Maybe now the country can move forward. We deplore the awful insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 when rioters tried to stop the confirmation of the ballots. The lies about election fraud perpetrated by the Trump administration and its rabble rousing caused this to happen. But now Biden is in and we are so hopeful for a better future for this country.

The announcement of the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris

President Biden has promised 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his term. And he is doing it!! On January 25 John and I received the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine and on February 15 we get the second one. Our side effects are minimal, mostly just a sore arm for a day or two. By March 1 we should be mostly immune. Of course the virus is trying to stay ahead of the vaccine and has mutated into variants which the vaccine may not deal with as well but we understand that even if we were to catch a variant the vaccine would protect us enough that we would not get seriously ill. Hurrah!!!

Sam’s 12th birthday. 1/11/21

It is a new year but the quarantine goes on as Covid-19 rages throughout the U.S.  But it is Sam’s birthday and it must be celebrated. We all don our masks and keep social distancing while we have a little party outside on Jon’s front porch.

Alex and Ryan. Alex is wearing some of the new clothes we gave her for Christmas.
Sam opening presents with Jon
Sarah and John at our little party
Sam’s at-home birthday celebration has a fabulous cake by Leigh
12 year old Sam!


New Year’s. 1/1/21

We were, at some time in the recent past, hoping that 2021 would be free of Covid-19 but as the deaths in the U.S. mount up towards 500,000, things still are very grim. The ray of light is that two vaccines have been approved for emergency use. However, the lame duck administration of president 45 has no plan for getting them in the arms of the American people. Hopefully the Biden administration will do a much better job.

Our New Year’s celebration is mostly about food.  We have a fancy dinner on New Year’s Eve while watching When Harry Met Sally and traditional, good luck black eyed peas over rice and collard greens for New Year’s Day.

Seared scallops, mashed potatoes with braised leeks an asparagus is a festive New Year’s Eve dinner.

New Year’s Day black eyed peas over rice with collard greens

Christmas Eve and Christmas, 2020

We celebrated Christmas as our own household unit due to the pandemic. We had hors d’oeuvres on Christmas Eve and watched Die Hard. There was no present opening or singing of carols which was sad.

Christmas Eve hors d’oeuvres table
A family favorite, Pigs in Blankets!

We shared Christmas with Jon and family by texting photos and comments of their opening our presents.

Sam with Pusheen accoutrements
Ryan with silk scarf
Alex with leggings
Jonathan with workout pants
Sam with Pusheen slippers
Alex with a special gift from Zayde

Of course we had some present opening and festive eating to do at home.

We start off with our traditional breakfast of bagels and lox with Schneider’s Tap 7 Hefeweizen
Then it is on to present opening. Mary with Cali dish towel
Sarah with Leigh’s box of chocolates
John with bourbon
Sarah and a 3 quart pot

Sarah makes us our traditional lasagna dinner. For dessert we have the panettone she spent days making. So good!!

Mmmm, lasagna
Sarah’s homemade panetonne

Even though our Christmas was quieter and more isolated than usual we still managed to have a good time.