Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chinese dumplings sicken 10 Japanese (from Yahoo! News/AP)

"Ten Japanese were sickened, including a child who fell into a coma, after eating Chinese-made dumplings contaminated with insecticide, police and health officials said Wednesday."

Yikes! Patty and I usually eat frozen dumplings once or twice a month!
I think from now on, we'll be making them from scratch more often.

Here's the full article:
Chinese dumplings sicken 10 Japanese (from Yahoo! News/AP)

Monday, January 28, 2008


Last week, we went to check out a new fresh&easy store that just opened up near our house. If you haven't heard of it before, fresh&easy is a new concept from Tesco, the British grocery giant. It is also Tesco's first attempt at entering the U.S. market. The stores are designed to be neighborhood markets (somewhere in between a convenience store and a supermarket).

My one word description of the place: sterile

Other words that come to mind...barren, quiet, cold, uninviting, boring...

For me, it was the complete opposite of say, a Trader Joe's store.

We bought two things - a strawberry dream walking sundae and an organic soy yogurt (can't remember the flavor). Here's are two pics of the walking sundae:

fresh&easy - strawberry dream walking sundaefresh&easy - strawberry dream walking sundae
The description sounded pretty good: moist pound cake, brownies, rich vanilla mousse, strawberries and whipped cream

It was really bad. Way too sweet!!! We ate a few bites each and tossed it. I don't remember the exact cost but it was around $3.95, which I thought was kind of expensive.

I didn't try the yogurt, but Patty said it was terrible.

With Sprouts just down the street from it, I'm not sure if we'll be back at fresh&easy any time soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

At Elite Prep Schools, College-Size Endowments (The New York Times)

Found this interesting article via another blog (

At Elite Prep Schools, College-Size Endowments (from The New York Times)

Make sure you check out the accompanying slide show and graphic...craziness!!!

Ready for the Super Bowl

One more week until the Super Bowl!

Here are some recent pictures of University of Phoenix Stadium and the surrounding area:

University of Phoenix Stadium
University of Phoenix Stadium


A week ago, we went to Trente-Cinq for dinner w/ our friend Denise. This was the first time there for all of us. Here's what we ordered:

me: Steak au Poivre ($25) - "Filet mignon served with a green pepppercorn sauce and fries."
Patty: Waterzooi ($20) - "A traditional seafood dish from Belgium. Salmon, halibut, shrimp, scallops, mussels, and vegetables served in a saffron cream broth."
Denise: Bouchee a la Reine ($14) - "Puff pastry filled with a chicken and mushroom veloute. Served with roasted tournee potatoes."

Sorry - no pictures (it was too dark inside).

A plate of bread was served w/ a ramekin of something that resembled a relish. The bread was ok. The relish didn't have much flavor.

My dish was ok. The meat itself was tender but flavor-wise it didn't "wow" me. I thought the peppercorn sauce sauce kind of drowned and overpowered the steak. The fries were decent.

Patty's Waterzooi was fantastic. The cream broth was so light, but still packed w/ flavor. It was a very unique flavor.

I tried a bit of Denise's dish and thought it was ok. Nothing spectacular here...

We noticed that almost every table ordered the Moules au Vin Blanc (steamed mussels). If we go back, we'll definitely try them.

Romanesco broccoli

Last week while we were at Sprouts, we saw this cool looking vegetable:
romanesco broccoli
It is Romanesco broccoli. This was the first time either of us had seen this type of vegetable before. We bought a head and prepared it the same way we make regular broccoli (stir-fry w/ a little oil and garlic). The taste was somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower. We both liked it. It's also very interesting to look at! Hopefully Sprout's will stock this type of broccoli from now on.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Going back to work

After a 14 month "sabbatical", I'll be returning to the workforce on Monday! I'm going to be going back to school (kind of) - working for my alma mater, Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Appetites Barbeque

I had lunch today at Appetites Barbecue. It's a small family owned barbecue restaurant that just opened less than two months ago, near our house. This was my first time there. I had a pulled pork sandwich w/ a side of fries ($6.75).

Everything was great. The sandwich was very good - definitely one of the better ones I've had. The pulled pork was tender and had a nice smoky flavor. The sauce was really tasty - not too sweet, a bit tangy and smoky, and a touch of spice. I heard another customer tell the owner it was the "real deal". The steak fries were crispy and nicely seasoned.

Appetites Barbeque - pulled pork sandwich w/ fries
From this first visit, it seems like a great addition to the area. I'll be back soon to try their ribs!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception

A report published last Monday shows how price influence perception. Caltech and Stanford researchers performed a study in which they asked 20 volunteers to rate five samples of wine. They were told the prices of each sample ($5, $10, $35, $45, and $90 per bottle). What the volunteers didn't know was that the $90 bottle (actual price) and the $10 bottle were identical, as were the $45 bottle and $5 bottle (actual price). The study participants preferred the more expensive wines (ranked exactly by price). Measured brain activity also corresponded w/ these results.

(Credit: Caltech, Stanford)

In a follow-up experiment, the same group was asked to rate the same five samples, this time without price information. They rated the $5 and $45 bottles best.

Here's the full article:
Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lilly: The World Map Master

A friend just sent this me this incredible (and very cute) video:

Brunch at La Grande Orange

For brunch yesterday, we went to La Grande Orange, one of our favorite places (for breakfast, lunch, or dinner). It's been eight months since our last visit to LGO. There was a period of time when we were going there almost every weekend (at least once or twice a month). If we lived closer, we'd definitely go there more frequently.

As usual, it was super busy. Here's a pic showing the line going outside:
La Grande Orange - exterior
Here's a pic of the interior:
La Grande Orange - interior
We ordered a Commuter w/ bacon and avocado ($7.25), French pancakes w/ honey, fruit, and creme fraiche ($6.75), and a large orange juice ($3.75).

The Commuter was fantastic, as usual. If you haven't tried one of these yet...go try one ASAP! It is one of the tastiest things ever...
La Grande Orange - The Commuter w/ bacon and avocado
This was our first time trying the French pancakes. The combination of pancakes, fruit, honey, and creme fraiche was very nice (and not too sweet). This one is getting added into "the rotation".
La Grande Orange - Mia's French pancakes w/ honey, fruit, and creme fraiche
One thing I noticed that had changed (from our previous visits) was the large OJ was about half filled w/ ice cubes. When I'm paying $3.75 for OJ, I don't want any added ice! Message to LGO management - What's w/ the ice??? Are you trying to reduce costs?!?

Hopefully, it's not another eight months before we visit LGO again. I've been craving pizza for a while, so maybe we'll be back soon for some of their delicious pizza.

Places mentioned:

La Grande Orange
4410 N. 40th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Preparing for the Super Bowl

We drove by University of Phoenix Stadium yesterday and it looks like they are busy setting up (what I'm guessing are) corporate/media/activity tents for the Super Bowl. Here are some pics:

view of University of Phoenix Stadiumview of University of Phoenix Stadium

Saturday breakfast (at home)

Here's what I made for breakfast yesterday:
French toast, fried egg, orange wedges, and banana
It was my second time making French toast. The French toast turned out pretty good, but the bread I used (Milton's Multi-Grain) had too strong of a flavor on its own, so we couldn't really taste any of the other ingredients I had added (vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.).

Friday, January 11, 2008

The big winner in the Countrywide deal?

Is Bank of America getting an incredible deal for Countrywide or a toxic company?

I'm sure this guy would definitely say it's a fantastic deal:

Angelo MoziloAngelo Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide
(Photo from L.A. Times/Reuters)

Either way, I think the risk for BofA is pretty minimal. The $6B investment ($2B from their previous investment plus the $4B offer) is only a drop in the bucket for these financial behemoths. Just think about this - Citigroup is reporting earnings next week and they may announce write-downs of up to $11B!

It's going to be very interesting to see how this investment plays out. Whatever happens though, one guaranteed winner is going to be Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. I've read reports that he could leave with a severance package of up to $83M. Very nice...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

DVDPlay, Redbox, and Waitress

It seems like we've been watching quite a few movies lately. We've got at least five DVD rental kiosk locations all within a mile of our house, so renting (and returning) is very convenient. Our first few kiosk rentals were via DVDPlay ($1.49/day). On our last rental, I rented via Redbox ($1/day). Both offer a good selection of the latest hits, though Redbox seems to have a broader overall selection (including many movies I've never heard of before). Redbox is cheaper so I'll probably continue renting from them in the future. One additional feature of Redbox is that you can view a particular kiosk's offerings and reserve a specific title (via their website). Considering how many movies we rent each month (maybe four to five max), renting via these services makes more sense for us than a Netflix or Blockbuster membership.

We rented Waitress last Friday night. It was a decent movie. Kind of slow in a few parts (I think I might have dozed off a few times during the movie). Overall though, it was cute w/ a few funny parts. It was worth the $1 rental.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bill Gates' Last Day at Microsoft - CES 2008 Keynote

Just found out about this one from my sister - I'm sure it's going to be one of the most watched videos of 2008:

(the fun part starts at :49)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Flo's Asian Kitchen and Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt

This past Saturday, we were doing some shopping @ The Promenade in North Scottsdale and decided to eat at Flo's Asian Kitchen for dinner. In-N-Out was tempting but we just went there a few weeks ago (one burger a month limit!). I'm pretty sure I've been to Flo's Asian Kitchen before, but it has been at least a few years.

As we glanced through the menu, I noted that the prices seemed quite high. If I remember correctly, all beef dishes are around $13. We ended up ordering the Thai Lettuce Cups ($9) and Thai Basil Chicken ($10).

The Thai Lettuce Cups arrived first. The dish was too salty and very oily. Also, the lettuce was very, very wet. Each leaf was soaked and the bottom of the plate holding the lettuce was filled with water. I couldn't complain that the lettuce wasn't washed. We both thought this dish was worse than the corresponding dish at Pei Wei. Note, we rarely eat at Pei Wei, but it was the most comparable place I could think of where we've also had Lettuce Wraps.

Flo's Asian Kitchen - Thai Lettuce Cups
The Thai Basil Chicken was actually pretty good. The chicken was very tender. We both liked this dish.
Flo's Asian Kitchen - Thai Basil Chicken
The bill came and we saw that the Lettuce Cups were only $4.50. YEAH! We we're there during Happy Hour which meant half-price appetizers! That made the (originally) $9 dish a tiny bit better. I'd probably put Flo's Asian Kitchen somewhere between Pei Wei and P.F. Chang's. Like those two, it's definitely "Americanized" food. Although the happy hour prices aren't bad, we probably won't be coming back any time soon.

After dinner we headed to Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt for dessert. This was our first visit to a Golden Spoon. Patty ordered a mini size strawberry yogurt w/ yogurt chips and I had a mini size vanilla w/ cookie dough.

The strawberry yogurt was very sweet w/ a strong artificial strawberry flavor. The yogurt chips didn't provide much in terms of taste. Both of us didn't like this one.

Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt - mini size strawberry yogurt w/ yogurt chips
The vanilla yogurt was ok. I thought it was very similar to McDonald's soft serve. The cookie dough bits were way too sweet. I tried three or four of them and then couldn't stomach any more. Yuck.
Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt - mini size vanilla w/ cookie dough
Both of us didn't finish our minis - the quantity was too the yogurt wasn't that great.
BTW, we noticed that almost every customer ordered a small or regular sized yogurt.

Places mentioned:

Flo's Asian Kitchen
16495 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
(@ The Promenade)

Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt
9397 E. Shea Blvd. #110
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(multiple locations)

Live Free or Die Hard

The other night we watched Live Free or Die Hard (aka Die Hard 4). We both enjoyed the movie. John McClane seems to be even more indestructible than Jason Bourne...

It's amazing - the first movie in the series, Die Hard, came out twenty years ago (1988)! Bruce Willis hasn't aged much over the years...except for his hair (spike to bald).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Dino's Greek and Italian Grill

Yesterday for dinner we went to Dino's Greek and Italian Grill. We also ate there the day after Christmas (also for dinner).

I'll start w/ last week's visit. We ordered hummus ($4.95) as an appetizer and lamb chops ($18.95) for our entree (to share).

The hummus was ok. Nothing special. Both of us didn't particularly like the pita bread served w/ the hummus. It seemed like the stuff you can buy at the grocery store - very airy (not like the thinner, chewy stuff that is served at most places). Here's a pic:
Dino's Greek and Italian Grill - Hummus
We both liked the lamb chops. They were very flavorful and cooked just right. The accompanying items (rice, tahini, veggies, and potatoes) were ok. The dish also came with a cup of soup. Our server was very nice and brought us each a cup of soup since she knew we were splitting the dish. Here's a pic:
Dino's Greek and Italian Grill - Lamb Chops
On our visit yesterday, Patty ordered the Prawns Riviera ($16.95) and I had the Veal Scalloppine Marsala ($13.95).

Each entree came w/ choice of soup or salad. We ordered one of each. The salad was ok. I noticed that a few of the lettuce pieces were browning on the tips (not so fresh?). The soup was a lemon rice soup - Avdolemono. It was ok as well.

Here's the salad and soup:

Dino's Greek and Italian Grill - salad and soup
My dish was ok. The veal was tender but the marsala sauce was very salty. The spaghetti was ok.
Dino's Greek and Italian Grill - Veal Scalloppine Marsala
Patty's dish was also just ok. The flavors were good but the shrimp were overcooked. The accompanying items were ok.
Dino's Greek and Italian Grill - Prawns RivieraSorry for the extremely dark can at least get an idea of what the food looks like.

Hm...lots of "ok's" mentioned...

Service was good on both visits. However, our opinion of the food definitely declined after our second visit.

The restaurant was busy on both on our visits. I think this is due to its location. There are no other Greek restaurants in the far West Valley. This part of town is loaded w/ chain restaurants and there aren't that many family owned restaurants. Actually, in the immediate vicinity, there are only a few dining options. I don't think they would do as well if there were in another part of town (w/ more dining options). Overall, I think it's pretty average. It's comparable to what you would get in a typical chain restaurant. That being said however, I would still pick Dino's any day over most chains. We'll probably be back sometime in the future.

Places mentioned:
Dino's Greek and Italian Grill
14960 W. Indian School Rd.
Goodyear, AZ 85338

Cajun Seafood Corner and The Street

The Thursday after Christmas we met up w/ a bunch of friends for dinner at the Cajun Seafood Corner. This was the first time there for all of all us. It's quite an interesting place. As the name implies, the restaurant specializes in Cajun food (jambalaya, crawfish, etc.), but also offers a full Vietnamese menu (as the owners are Vietnamese). We had a few things from both menus.

Here's what I can remember eating:
  • Fried prawns (Vietnamese style)
  • Snails in coconut broth (Vietnamese)
  • Shaken Beef (Vietnamese)
  • Fried rice
  • Fish (catfish) and chips
  • Catfish po'boy
  • Chicken wings
  • Boiled shrimp
  • Jambalaya
I was pleasantly surprised. Everything was very good. My favorite was the fried prawns. Sorry - no pictures of the food.

After dinner, a few of us went to The Street (which is just up the street from Cajun Seafood Corner) for boba drinks. I had a red bean smoothie and Patty had a green milk tea w/ boba. Both drinks were quite good.

Too bad we live on the opposite side of town from these places...

Places mentioned:
Cajun Seafood Corner
2051 S. Dobson Rd. Suite #18
Mesa, AZ 85202
(SE corner of Dobson/Baseline)

The Street
1116 S. Dobson Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85249
NW corner of Dobson/Southern)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Robert Linxe's Chocolate Truffles

OK - I promise this is the last posting on least for this week!

The blogger @ makes truffles using Robert Linexe's (of La Maison du Chocolat) recipe. Click here for the posting.

I guess i went a bit crazy w/ the linking...

Making chocolate truffles w/ Michael Ricciuti

I found these videos mentioned on another blog (

Chocolatier (and author) Michael Ricciuti teaches you how to make truffles in these two videos:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Glenn Beck - Honest Questions with Jon Hunstman

One night when Patty and I were in LA last weekend, we were flipping through the channels and caught an interview between Glenn Beck and Jon Huntsman, Sr. on CNN. Earlier in the week, I had heard an advertisement on the radio for this interview and it sounded very interesting (I've never seen the Glenn Beck show before).

Jon Huntsman grew up in poverty, attended the Wharton School, founded the Huntsman Corporation (one of the world's largest chemical companies), and is now a member of the Forbes 400. He is also a mega philanthropist. After his mother died from cancer, he founded the Huntsman Cancer Instititute and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation to find a cure for cancer.

It was a very inspiring interview...

Here are some excerpts from the interview:
HUNTSMAN: Well, I think, Glenn, there`s an old expression that we all know. It said -- it goes as follows -- life isn`t fair, but that doesn`t mean that we shouldn`t be fair. And as we go through life, I think we have to take an accountability of ourself and see, you know, who are we? What are our real values? What do we believe in?

I`d like if I can just mention this early on here -- I`d like to talk to people about what will be said at their funeral. Have you ever planned a eulogy?

When you talk to 21-year-olds, you talk to college students, you talk to young executives on Wall Street or on Fleet Street in London, Montgomery Street in San Francisco, or somewhere in Russia or China, particularly at Beijing University in China, where I was recently, and you ask them, "Have you ever planned your eulogy? What are they going to say about you? What is the character of the man or woman involved?"

And so I would just say that, you know, that`s kind of the key to life, is to ask ourself, when we`re peeking at our funeral, how are we going to be?

HUNTSMAN: But I lost $200 million. But I`ll tell you, Glenn, the integrity, the value of one`s character. He had me speak at his funeral. He only had Governor Bey (ph) of Indiana and me as his two speakers. I was so honored, because he remembered our situation. And when he passed away he had put in his will, put in his last testament, that I was to -- I was worth $200 million.

BECK: But do you know how unique this is? Do you know how unique this is? When I read this story, I thought, OK, there`s going to be -- oh, but yes, "but later I made all this money, et cetera."

You took the value -- you lost $200 million, and you took the value as you were honored to speak at the man`s funeral. Do you know how rare that is?

BECK: You were -- in 2001 you were on the cliff...


BECK: You were on the cliff, and you were headed towards bankruptcy, and you said bankruptcy is...

HUNTSMAN: Not an option.

BECK: Is not an option.

HUNTSMAN: Never an option.

BECK: Because?

HUNTSMAN: It`s never -- because our name is on the door, No. 1.

No. 2, because in bankruptcy somebody gets hurt. Your creditors, your suppliers, your customers. Maybe some of your -- of your employees are released. If somebody gets hurt because of you, what kind of a man or woman are you?

BECK: OK. So he won`t take out bankruptcy -- I`ve got to go into a break. He wouldn't take out bankruptcy, so he takes out a loan. He sells his -- he sells some of his personal stuff. He takes out a loan so he can meet the commitments of his charity.


BECK: We just talked about it a minute ago. Possible bankruptcy. That`s what your financial people were saying: just declare bankruptcy and just get out. And you said absolutely not.

And you had commitments to charity. I have never heard of anyone, when they are facing bankruptcy, say -- go to a bank and say, "I need to sell my stuff so I can meet my commitments to charity." What did you do?

HUNTSMAN: Well, Glenn, this is -- I mean, this is the character of the man or woman. When you make -- when one makes commitments to charity, it`s very, very important that they maintain those commitments, because you have -- in our case we have cancer institutes. We have centers for abused women and children. We have scholarships, 5,000 scholarships to underprivileged children. We have programs for the homeless.

If all of a sudden we withdrew our money, our commitments, and these commitments are made over three, four, five, six, seven years, if we withdrew those commitments, thousands of people, millions of people would either go homeless, would not have scholarships. So those become vital parts of our link to integrity and honesty and keeping our word.

And so when the business was ready to go off the cliff, and I had to go without a salary and our people went without bonuses, and we had a terrible time during 2001 and 2002. Energy prices went up. There was overcapacity. There was a recession, a perfect storm.

The bottom line is I went to the bank, and I told Bill Harrison at JP Morgan Chase and my friends at Citibank and my other friends in the banking business, "I have to take out a loan. I have to put up my home for collateral. I have to put up what`s left of my company for collateral."

And they said, "Well, Jon, your business, it looks like it might make it. It looks like it might make it."

I said, "No, it isn`t for the business; this is for charity."

BECK: What did they say?

HUNTSMAN: They said, "You`re crazy. We`ve never made a loan to anybody for $50 million, for $75 million, for $100 million so you can turn around and give it to charity."

I said, "Well, you have to." If people make a commitment to something as critical as charitable interests, are you going to take away these scholarships from kids? Are you going to deprive cancer victims and cancer patients from not having research and proper clinical treatment? I said, "Whatever it takes. Take my business, take my house, but I need the money for charity. That`s a critical point."

And so we got through it, and I paid them all back. And you know, but it was -- I`m going to tell you, Glenn, it`s not easy. Bankers are tough to deal with. These guys are -- you know, they never cut you any slack.

BECK: ...I don`t know, Glenn. It just seems like those who are blessed with money have an obligation -- no, no, they have a duty. They have a solemn duty in life to give that money back to a better and higher use, and that better and higher use is helping our fellow man and woman.

BECK: We live in a society where our government is telling us we should take it from you. We should take -- you owe us the money that you have made. And I have -- and you see -- you don`t see an example like you very often, that is so glaring, but it is not the government`s responsibility to take it. It is your responsibility.

HUNTSMAN: Absolutely.

BECK: ... to give it.

HUNTSMAN: Absolutely. And the government will take it and waste it. The ideal situation is let private industry, private Americans establish what we did. People said you can`t establish a cancer institute, you`re just one individual. What do you mean you can establish a cancer institute? What do you mean you can build hospitals? What do you mean you can do large research projects? You know, and you just say, "Watch it."

There is too much to put here, just read the entire thing!
Read it here:
"Glenn Beck - Honest Questions with Jon Huntsman" interview transcript (from

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools

Interesting article from the New York Times:
Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools

"India’s more demanding education standards are apparent at the Little Angels Kindergarten, and are its main selling point. Its 2-year-old pupils are taught to count to 20, 3-year-olds are introduced to computers, and 5-year-olds learn to multiply, solve math word problems and write one-page essays in English, tasks most Japanese schools do not teach until at least second grade."

Most of the Indians I know (former classmates and co-workers) are wicked smart...

Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe and Infernal Affairs

On Christmas Eve, we went to Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe for dinner w/ a few friends. Cherry Blossom is one of our favorite places (we actually ate there during the previous week as well). The food is consistently good and the prices are very reasonable. Here's what we had that night:
  • Kara-age chicken (shared appetizer for the group)
  • Crispy calamari (shared appetizer)
  • Sake steamed clams (shared appetizer)
  • Caterpillar roll (shared w/ Patty)
  • Udon Suki (shared w/ Patty)
(Sorry - no pictures)

In addition to the above items, we also enjoyed the bread basket (which includes three types of bread - dinner rolls, banana walnut bread, and "cinnamon crisps"). As usual, all of the food was very tasty.

Christmas Day, we stayed in and finished the Infernal Affairs series. This a trilogy which came out a few years ago. The Departed is basically a copy of Infernal Affairs 1 (we had seen The Departed before seeing Infernal Affairs 1). Similar to The Departed, Infernal Affairs is loaded w/ Chinese superstars. All three parts are fantastic. I highly recommend checking them out!

BTW, I read on a few sites that they are filming (or have filmed) The Departed 2 and 3. I wonder if they too will be copies (I think Warner Bros. uses the term "adaptations") of the corresponding Infernal Affairs films???

For more info on each movie, refer to the following links:
Infernal Affairs 1
Infernal Affairs 2
Infernal Affairs 3

Places mentioned:

Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe
914 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday potluck dinner (and chocolates!)

This one's a bit out of order - I'm catching up from the past few days...

The Saturday before Christmas we had a holiday potluck at our house. Here's some of the food we ate:
holiday potluck
Our contribution was dessert. Patty and I made truffles and chocolate "cookies" (as well as a raspberry sauce for cheesecake).

I was inspired to make truffles after seeing Mark Bittman's video about chocolate ganache.

Here are some pictures of the truffles:
finished dark chocolate truffledark chocolate trufflesdark chocolate w/ toasted coconut truffles
Patty found the recipe for the chocolate cookies on this blog: L'Atelier Vi. We modified the recipe by using candied ginger instead of orange.

Here are some pictures of the chocolate cookies:
tray of chocolate cookiesfinished chocolate cookie
Both are very easy to make and very tasty (we've been snacking on them almost daily). We also made bunch of extra truffles and cookies and gave them as gifts for the holidays. For those of you who tried our chocolate treats...we hope you enjoyed them! Could this be the start of a new business for us?!?

Day trip to Flagstaff

The Sunday before Christmas, we drove up to Flagstaff w/ Linda and Al. We were looking forward to seeing some snow!

Flagstaff visitors center welcome sign
For lunch, we went to Swaddee Thai (under the same management as the Scottsdale and Chandler locations). We ordered the following dishes to share:
  • Tom Ka
  • Massaman Curry
  • Spicy Catfish
  • Pineapple Fried Rice
All of the dishes were very flavorful and well-prepared. Here are the pics:
Swaddee Thai - Tom KaSwaddee Thai - Massaman CurrySwaddee Thai - Spicy CatfishSwaddee Thai - Pineapple Fried Rice
After lunch, we took a brief stroll around downtown Flagstaff and then drove a few miles to
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. The volcano was created in a series of eruptions sometime between 1040 and 1100.

Sunset Crater Volcano
Here's a good picture of the crater:
Sunset Crater Volcano(from Wikipedia)

We spotted this cool snowman:
snowman near Sunset Crater
We also went to Wupatki National Monument (which is about 10 miles from Sunset Crater). Here's a pic of the pueblo (~900 years old):
Wupatki Pueblo
We achieved our mission of seeing snow (and visiting a few new places)! That makes it 5 straight years (of seeing snow) - '03 in Chicago; '04 in Snowbowl/Flagstaff; '05 in Denver; '06 in Montreal; '07 in Flagstaff.