More catching up and a Panera review

Some more catching up in the New Year. Hopefully, I will get back to blogging more regularly, and these entries will be a little more coherent, rather than inspired by my pictures and what I can remember.

I actually finished a project this weekend, a hat for my niece. Will wait until she receives it to post pictures. I was developing a pattern from a picture, and it is not quite exact, but hopefully she (and her mom) will like it. If I make another one, I will have a better idea of how to do it.

Here are some cinnamon rolls I made this fall – it is strange for me to make cinnamon rolls because I grew up eating caramel rolls and calling them cinnamon rolls. But the DH prefers cinnamon rolls, so I usually make them. Using the Speedy Roll dough recipe.

Cinnamon rolls 20131020_095209

I also ate at Panera bread this fall, specifically to try their seasonal menu items. Of course, then I neglected to get this posted while they were still available. But maybe they will bring these back. The Rigatoni San Marzano pasta  – this was OK. The tomatoes in the sauce were nice, the peas were pretty pointless. The sausage in the sauce was good. Panera does a good job of cooking the pasta al dente, at least at the Panera shops I have been to. The turkey harvest wheatberry salad was also tasty, the wheat berries were a little soggy but I liked the vinaigrette.


Rigatoni San Marzano pasta – Panera Bread

Wheat berry salad, Panera

Wheat berry salad, Panera

Quick dinner idea: roll up ham and cheese in crescent rolls and back. The DH will eat just about anything rolled up in a crescent roll. (Well, so will I.) Easy dinner for work nights, with a green salad or vegetable.Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups

Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups

Tried a new place in Westminster, Goody’s Eatery, for breakfast. Two thumbs up! Nice decor, friendly staff, good food.   I had the Huevos Garcia Hashbrowns, green peppers and onions, PKWY green chile, melted cheddar jack, two eggs over easy.

Goody's Eatery - Huevos Farcia

Goody’s Eatery – Huevos Farcia

Had a day off from work so ate at Taigun for lunch – on of my favorite places but not open for lunch on Saturdays. This was one of their lunch combinations, it was good. Not as good as on-the-coast sushi, but good. I really should stick to rolls in the middle of the country. /

Sushi Lunch, Taigun, Broomfield, Colo.

Sushi Lunch, Taigun, Broomfield, Colo.

And this is the duck ramen at Uncle – finally got to go there with my friend E. We had the brussels sprouts for an appetizer, which were amazing. If I could figure out how to make those we would be having brussels sprouts once a week. Well, I would be having them, at least…..

Duck Ramen, Uncle, Denver

Duck Ramen, Uncle, Denver

Tomorrow: Current projects!

San Francisco Trip Report January 2013, Part III

For lunch, we went to the Crab House at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf. Oh, this place was amazing. I have been craving crab ever since we ate there.


I had the clams cioppiono, delicious.

My friend S. had something for herself, I no longer remember, but I do know she liked it. AND we shared a 1/2 order of the Killer Crab in their roasted garlic sauce. Amazing.



Then we went and looked at the sea lions at the Wharf. And then we went shopping at the Boudin Bakery gift shop . . . which is when fate brought us together . . .

Me and the . . .

Crab hat

Crab hat!

Of course, I purchased it immediately, and it accompanied us wherever we went.

Ghiradelli chocolate (some chocolate purchases were also made, of course.)

Crab hat

On the trolley. The same TERRIBLE busker was there singing again. I warned S. but this is something you have to hear to believe.


At Lombardi Street.


At Chinatown.


We were in Chinatown because we had a dinner recommendation from another friend to eat at the House of Nanking. It is a small, kind of hole-in-the-wall place, but has a lot of character and really good food.

We had the fried calamari:

Calamari House of Nanking

This calamari was different than any I ever had before, it was not heavily breaded and it was in pretty big pieces. Good, though!

And then the steamed dumplings:


They were also delicious, but we have never had dumplings as good as the ones at the conveyer-belt sushi place in Spokane….

And then I had the Garlic Ginger Poached Scallops, and S. had something else too, or maybe we were just happy with all of this….apparently I didn’t do as good a job this trip getting pictures of everyone else’s food! Lots of nice greens with these, you can hardly see the scallops.


At the end of a long day, we were very glad to go back to the hotel and crash. Here is all the “loot.”


I like to get edible souvenirs, if you hadn’t noticed. All of those jelly beans, and the ghiradelli chocolate, were wonderful. S. and I did have to traipse all over Chinatown to find that crab magnet again, I greatly appreciate her patience there. I should have purchased it the first time I saw it. The dragon magnet also is springy and bouncy. The cinnamon bread and jalapeno cheddar roll from the Boudin bakery were also great. And I do believe I bought a peanut butter cookie there also, but it was already gone. This trip may have led to a small obsession with peanut butter cookies for a while. And of course the CRAB HAT, best souvenir ever!

S. left the next morning, and I hung around so that my brother-in-law could come get me and I could get to see my newest nephew!

baby nephew

My brother-in-law N. took this picture, and it pretty much sums up how I feel about the nieces and nephews. Awwwwwww.

Las Vegas – Miss America 2013 – Day 3

As I write this Friday morning, it already seems so loonnng ago – Vegas does that to you.

Retired pretty early (well, comparatively, midnight, I suppose) because Thursday’s morning rehearsal started at 8:00 rather than 9 or 9:30, and Miss SD was first out of the starting gate in talent. So I was up before my alarm at 6:30 and went to the Miracle Mile Shops adjacent to Planet Hollywood, this time I went for the 3.99 breakfast special at La Salsa Cantina – 2 eggs, potatoes, bacon, and tortillas. This was also good! And the required Diet Coke (and water, trying to stay hydrated, Vegas is worse than Denver for being dry.)


I got to talent rehearsal in plenty of time before it started. Miss SD did change her talent from Miss SD – from using “Defying Gravity” from Wicked as her song to “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago. And, this type of stage does not allow her to do as much of what I would call “flying” tricks – but it is still a marvelously entertaining talent, especially if you can see her face, which the judges can but 90% of the audience really can’t. I can’t wait to see her do this one on the Miss SD stage, although I am hoping she does both of them.

This group had, I kid you not, out of 17 contestants, FIVE who were doing a lyrical or jazz dance and were wearing white. Wow. As my top talents, I had picked SD of course, VT who sang Habernero very nicely, and WY with an original piano composition. I really liked ND playing the piano and singing, but also knew that it was kind of non-typical Miss America talent, so was delighted when she won! Way to represent the Dakotas!

I think this was the strongest group over all (Alpha) in swimsuit – the first round of rehearsal I circled five as ones to watch: WA, CO, OK, FL and TN. And then the second time through I couldn’t really narrow it down, but I thought probably FL or TN. And was delighted that one of my first picks, WA, was the winner.

My favorite evening gowns were CA in a seafoam green velvet strapless with a beaded/jeweled band at the waist, and OK in a grey/silver satin.

It was starting to cool off outside, and I could sense that, so what I really wanted for lunch was a big bowl of soup, so I went to P.F. Chang, I love their chicken noodle soup, and it is reasonably priced. Plus you can spice it up with the various condiments they give you like red pepper sauce and hot mustard.


And then I went up to the room to write the blog – these blogs on travel really take a long time, trying get in all the fun details, but I know I will enjoy reading it later and remembering, and I do enjoy sharing it with my friends who are not able to be here for the pageant!

Tried to nap, again, mostly unsuccessfully. So I enjoyed the soaking tub and read my book. Decided to just be simple and have a Pink’s hot dog for dinner. I go down there, and place my order, for a Planet Hollywood Dog: polish sausage, grilled onions, grilled mushroom, bacon (3 strips) & nacho cheese, and french fries. The lady takes my money, and says, #13 at the end of the counter. OK, I go down there. The lady at that end announces #13 right away, and I think, hmm, that was quick, but OK. I get back up to my room and I have a Polish Pastrami Swiss Cheese Dog: polish sausage, pastrami, swiss cheese & mustard and cheesy fries. Well, I wasn’t very happy, but I bet the person who got mushrooms and onions was even more annoyed. Maybe they noticed the confusion before they left the shop. I would have eaten it there, but they only had outdoor seating, and it was getting colder, so I wasn’t about to go back all the way down there. So no picture of that, because I was annoyed.

Worked more on the blog, editing pictures, and etc. I was having a craving for creme brulee – the ever-constant dessert on most Vegas buffets, but I have only been to one buffet this week, and it didn’t have creme brulee. Well, I thought, there is a little coffee place in the Miracle Mile shops, and I had seen that they had “Homemade” creme brulee. Hey, I am in Vegas, let’s go get a creme brulee. The first warning sign was when the lady didn’t know what I was talking about, I had to go show her in the case. I am pretty sure she was just going to hand it to me, “as is” – just the custard, but the other lady working grabbed it and took it to the back, to do the sugar caramelizing on the top. Then she overcharged me for it, as well as for the hot chocolate (which was really quite good) – I pointed that out and that required 2 different people to fix. The creme brulee came out, and it looked pretty good, but oy, not a good creme brulee. Lots of un-caramelized sugar on top, and the custard was not a good texture, or taste. So I was batting .5 on food for the day.

Disappointing creme brule:


Time to go to the room and get ready for the evening. I was wearing my new red dress from Torrid. Called Ken and explained to him where to find my flats, which I want for Saturday night since my feet are killing me.


I was meeting my friend Erin and her BF for drinks again before the pageant – the “PBR Rock Bar” has some $5 drink specials, so we thought we would try that, rather than the $12 or more drinks which are quite common here. Erin had texted me that she forgot the tickets and had to go back for them, so they would be a little late. Well, when they arrived, she was all aflutter – when she came out of the room with the tickets, TJ was on his knee in the hallway with an engagement ring!

Since she had apparently had an inkling that this was going to happen in Vegas, he decided to go with a surprise location instead of going to a fancy dinner or the top of the Eiffel Tower – and I have to say it worked perfectly – she was quite shocked! So that was very fun to be one of the first to share that news!

Enjoyed the show again – Miss SD had hurt her foot trying a more difficult move on the stage floor during her talent run-through in the morning, so substituted back to the previous move, which was also pretty spectacular. And you couldn’t tell that she had hurt herself at all. I also remembered the binoculars this time, which was helpful, it was so much fun to see her facial expressions during talent. I was sitting by a former Miss SD this time, who is one of the pageant fashionistas, so that was a fun commentary.

After the pageant, up to the ballroom for the visitation – again, the SD group is getting bigger each night! We took up a huge section of the wall for our group picture. What a hoot. And four former Miss SDs, plus our current Miss SD, so that is really pretty cool.
This is how Vegas/pageant messes with your circadian rhythms. You get all wound up seeing the pageant, and then your contestant at visitation, and then you need to do something to wind down, so you end up going out and staying up even later. So I went over to the Rock Bar again for another $5 frozen drink, and then hooked up with Erin and TJ and other pageant friends at another lounge in the hotel. This is Vegas – apparently you can carry your alcohol from one place to another quite freely.

We hung out for a while, and people watched, which is VASTLY entertaining in Vegas. I decided to make it not TOO late of a night and headed up for bed a little before 1:00, stopping at Earl of Sandwich (why didn’t we know this place was open 24 hours the FIRST night – strategy note, find out the places that are open late around the venue) to get a sandwich. I knew I had been up too late when I couldn’t find the buzzer they gave me but then discovered I had tucked it in my armpit. TIME FOR BED. But I enjoyed my sandwich first, they do good sandwiches, and then sacked out.

Friday! And food and crafting stuff

I am continuing to clean up by writing about the photos hanging around on my phone and hard drive – hmmm, lots of them are of food, go figure.

You might think these look like wonderful delightful fried dumplings, but you would be wrong. They were some of the worst dumplings I have ever had. Sad day. I will be avoiding China Wok on Harmony in Fort Collins in the future.


Same thing for the “Special” wonton soup, unfortunately.

I make a crocheted baby afghan, a pieced quilt, and an embroidered quilt for each of my nieces and nephews when they are born (or, hopefully, shortly thereafter, although there is a five-year old who will be getting her embroidered quilt for Christmas this year….). I also offer repair service on these items if they are repairable. This is the latest from my nephew C., age 7.

This was pretty easy to fix.

This one, I am not sure about. It is actually HALF of an afghan I made him (he got two, because he was allergic to one of the yarns in the first one, but he is over that now)  – this aghan kept growing each time it got washed, so I cut it in half and finished the edges so he could have two. This one half is having a problem. I am working on unraveling the tangle right now. Considering I don’t even remember which pattern I used to make this one, I may not be able to have it repaired by  Christmas.

This is the new pumpkin pie bagel from Panera. Apparently this is a seasonal thing.

Their website describes it as: Pumpkin Pie Bagel NEW! Freshly baked bagel featuring pumpkin and spice with a crumb topping and cinnamon sugar mixture, sprinkled with powdered sugar

I thought I might like it because I love the Cinnamon Crunch bagel (which is the highest in calories of all of their bagels, oy vey). Also – what is the point of Cheesecake flavored cream cheese? I tried it because it was also new, but HUH??? It has some brown bits in it that are supposed to be cinnamony-graham cracker crust flavor, I believe. I will stick with my honey walnut from now on. It was not bad, but not better than the Cinnamon Crunch.

It took me forever to remember where I ate the food in this next photo. It is a good thing that my phone puts a date automatically in the photo properties.

This is a crab omelet (or maybe lobster?) with brie cheese and avocado at the Le Peep near my house. I should learn my lesson, I like over-easy eggs or breakfast. But every now and then I get a wild hair and try something else. This was fine, better with the Hollandaise sauce for dipping. The toast was really QUITE well-done enough for me, I really prefer undercooked toast, I might have to start specifying that.

This was the morning I was to leave for a trip to Houston, and the fact that I had TIME to go out for breakfast bodes well for where my head was when I was packing, but that is another entry……

2010 Thanksgiving San Francisco Trip Report Part 4

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Sunday: I was up at 7:00, why oh why oh why. But then I decided to use the time to write up this trip journal, so that was OK. We will have fun looking back and reading this.  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast (family tradition). Nick started out the day by getting the left turn blinker fixed.  Then after much debate about which direction we should start our circular tour in, we were off to the Embarcadero, Pier 39, and Fisherman’s Wharf.  When we got a few miles down the road, I discovered I didn’t have my  Bruce the Shark finger puppet, even though I had talked about him and carried on about how I was bringing him and how he wanted to see the Pier. Nick was not willing to turn around and go home and get Bruce, go figure. I thought I must have dropped him when I went into our room to get my chapstick or something. If I dropped him in the living room, the cats were going to have something to amuse themselves with all day.

Parked at about Pier 5, so we then walked backwards along our planned loop to the Ferry Building which has little shops, mostly food or food related.

I got a Macaron (because we don’t seem to have any little bakeries that make those in Denver) and then came to Nirvana – Boccalone! I have seen this place on some Food Network show, just can’t remember which one. Anyway, they have a paper cone that they fill with “Tasty Salted Pig Parts” and it is fairly amazing.

I quickly grabbed one and we all shared the bits of meat, nothing big, just a good appetizer for the day.

I can’t believe that this place is the only location and we just stumbled across it. Was verrry tempted by their T-shirts. Bought some local olive oil as a “souvenir” – I like souvenirs that are either edible and then they are gone so you don’t have to dust later, or wearable. Was sorely tempted by another t-shirt at another meat shop that said “Praise the Lard” and had a picture of a pig.

Then we wandered down the Embarcadero, past all of the piers, most of the piers still have boats of some sort stopping at them, not as much for shipping things as in the past, but there are a few that have warehouses still, and of course various tourist boats that will take you out to the Golden Gate bridge and/or Alcatraz. We didn’t manage to have time for that. We hit Pier 23, both the pier and the restaurant of that name that Guy Fieri has visited, April and Nick say this is a big biker bar in the summer. Decided I wanted to save my lunch calories for crab, etc., later on down the Pier. Then to Pier 39 (there are a lot of piers, but they are not really that far apart, so the walk isn’t that bad.)

We started encountering street performers at this point: guys who do paintings with spray paint, and various shields and scrapers – the first one we saw was not using any sort of breathing filtration, I can’t imagine that is very good for you, with all the fumes. Various musicians, including on of the worst ones I have ever heard – he was singing in one “non-key” and playing guitar in a different “non-key”, he also had a harmonica holder, I kind of wanted to hear him fire up the harmonica and hear how he didn’t play that in any sort of normal fashion. Then there is a guy called Bushman, who essentially has two handfulls of bushy twigs taht are pretty tall, he crouches next to something so he looks like a bush, and then he jumps up and scares you. He got April pretty good because she was walking next to that side of the sidewalk. Does he expect to get tips for that???? Odd. And then guys who were being statues, all spray painted gold or silver. We did not take advantage of the opportunity to purchase churros from a vendor, they looked good though.

Then Pier 39 is where the sea lions hang out, and where there are a bunch of tourist shops. And – MINI-Donuts! Well, you don’t get to eat mini-donuts every day, so we had to have some of those. Mmmmmmmmm. Greasy burning hot goodness. It is sad, some of these shops make the stuff like corn dogs and even funnel cakes in advance, so they sit around and get non-crispy. That is the POINT of this stuff, people. Anyway, the mini donuts were nice and fresh.

And then we sat and watched the sea lions for a while. They weren’t very active but it was relaxing to watch them lollygag in the sun and relax, so we could relax for a bit. Walking on the pavement is harder than walking on beaches. The highlight of the sea lion watching was when a little kid swiped my soda. I turned around to look for it, and his mom saw him about the same time I did. “Reuben, that’s not yours!” That was rather amusing. He didn’t into it, although just about, I am sure diet is not his preference anyway. There were not that many sea lions, April and Nick say in the summer there are many more, and they were being quiet. There was a little boy there making sea lion noises at them, but he wasn’t being really loud about it. Ken knew that I could do REALLY LOUD sea lion noises, but I wasn'[t willing to do it unless people would give me tips like the street performers. Plus I thought the wildlife preservation guy who was running around there might give me a lecture for bothering the sea lions.

Walked back around the tourist shops, purchasing a Golden Gate bridge magnet, and an accordian magnet for my mom, and finding a place that was going out of busines, and getting a half price sweatshirt. Then we headed for the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

One of the big things is the Boudin Bakery (now, Boudin is a spicy Cajun sausage with rice, and I didn’t see any of that around, so that was disappointing) but they are famous for their sourdough and sourdough bread bowls. They have a big window where you can watch their bakers, and sometimes they are making the bread loaves into animal shapes, well they weren’t doing that while we were there, they were makingh jalapeno cheddar bread, that looked pretty darn good to me, I may have to try to make some of that. We went through the quick bakery line and April had a grilled cheese sandwich, Nick had  a bread bowl with clam chowder, Kenny had a sourdough pepperoni pizza, and I had clam chowder in the bread bowl. The bread bowl was great but that clam chowder had about half a clam in it, if that. April and I looked around the store a little bit before we all ventured outside to the super scary public bathrooms. They were not nearly as bad as the one at Golden Gate park.

Next: Museum Mechanique- this is a collection of old-time arcade machines, some of them REALLY old – the man who collects them had been doing it for a long time. There are several have little vignettes of things like hangings and guillitines, many music boxes of various types, and some actual games – Nick did the boxing game, where you have to give the punching bag your hardest punch. He was trying for the longest time to figure out how to get the punching bag to come down on it after you put the money in, when April pointed out the “Start” button is up above your head, and he pushed it, and pretty much got hit in the face by the punching bag coming down, so that machine CAN fight back. We spent some time wandering around looking at all of the old gadgets, and then crammed all 4 of us into one of the photo booths for a picture strip, which turned out greatly entertaining, of course.

Before we left the Fisherman’s Wharf area, I wanted to have crab and Nick wanted to have crab, so we found what we thought would be the best place, that Nick had scoped out earlier.

They have crabs there ready to go, steamed already, and  when you order one, they re-heat it by plunging it in and out of the boiling water bath, and they make all the cracks for you, so you don’t have to deal with crab crackers, and the meat is easy to get to.

April and I wait for the crab.

Look at the cute crab!

Look at the delicious crab!

See the aftermath!

We all shared it, figuring that was a good way to do it without getting too full of crab. Kenny even tried a couple of little pieces, declaring that it was “Ok.” Of course you end up with crab under your fingernails, and then you think about all of those machines you touched at the Museum Mechanique, and how you are now eating with your hands…….but it was delicious nonetheless. Need to remember the packet of hand sanitizer wipes next time. There were plenty of little shops all along here but I had my magnet and my sweatshirt so I was quite happy with those as souvenirs.

The shark was, unfortunately, not for sale. This is one of my favorite pictures of me EVER.

So then we trekked up the hill to Ghiriradelli chocolate factory. They have quite a complex there – but apparently no factory tours yet. In one of their shops they are usually handing out samples of their chocolate squares – April and I got ones that were Peppermint Bark on top, chocolate on the bottom, those were good. Then to the Soda Fountain- we decided to share again so we could have ice cream but not totally fill up (not that we weren’t still moderately full from lunch and then from crab….) so we had a Cable Car Sundae, which had chocolate ice cream, Rocky Road ice cream, and chocolate chip ice cream, marshmallow sauce, hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce, and whipped cream, oh my was that good.

Then back down the hill to the line for the cable car. We had to ride on the cable car if we were in San Francisco. The line was HUGE, and there was a street musician standing there “entertaining” all of us while we waited. He had an electric guitar, speaker, and microphone all set up. He was not really greeted by much more than apathy from the crowd. Perhaps because he had some serious pitch issues and also pretty much sang every song at the same tempo, which was basically too fast. I was trying to make some money on my own by seeing how much $$ April, Nick or Ken would give me if I caught one of the many pigeons that were wandering around, but they weren’t going for it. I told them that would be real performance art….We were near a swimming club, and there were people out in the ocean swimming, which is just insane, because it was COLD – April and Nick say it never does get super hot here in the summer, so it isn’t really a beachy place.  But then again it doesn’t get super cold in the winter, which is a good thing, because there are all these incredibly steep hills, and there is no way you could drive on them with snow.

So we (eventually) rode the cable car up the steep hills and past Lombard street again, and hopped off in Chinatown. I was hoping to find a glow in the dark Buddha to go along with my glow in the dark Lady of Guadalupe but apparently glow in the dark Buddhas are not an item that is in big demand. Will have to search the internets. Wandered around the many mysterious food shops, which were doing quite a good business in various produce and fresh fish, etc. Walked back down Broadway and we had made a big circle for the day and were back to our car.

Headed back to Nick and April’s and sprawled on the couches while we debated going out for Chinese or eating Thanksgiving leftovers. I decided I was in the mood for Chinese food since we were just in Chinatown, so we did that (Kirin’s, in Berkeley) – had the most amazing jasmine tea I have ever had, and excellent wonton soup- usually wonton is in a clear broth, and this was in a really rich beefy broth, it was incredible. Then they promptly brought our orders, but totally NOT what I had ordered, so after I dug in, I was like – hmmm, this does not seem to be soup, it does have noodles, but no scallops, oysters or shrimp….so that was switched and then I had a huge bowl of soup in about 5 minutes – of course, waaaay too huge for me to finish at that point, but all the seafood was tasty and the scallops were incredible.  Ken had broccoli beef, Nick had red pepper chicken which was very tasty, and April had Cashew mushroom chicken.  It was all good but I would most recommend the wonton soup.

Then we came home and played progressive rummy – this does take a while to get all of the rounds in, so it was kind of like playing drunk by the later hands….I was getting a little loopy and tired. And April pretty much whipped us all soundly in that, I ended up with the high score (I think this is two games in a row where that has happened now) and I was ready for bed after that.

We all spent a significant amount of time looking for Bruce the shark, everywhere the cats hide their toys, under the bed, in the refrigerator, in the garbage, on the lawn, etc., but he has not been found. I am hoping he comes to light when we pack.

What would really be handy for visitors would be a website “Clean Public Bathrooms of San Francisco.” (tasty meat cones)