Week 11 update: hanging with the ex

Week 11 was primarily still focused on the start up of my new project as the ramp up phase is crucial (and the hardest) to making any venture successful and also because it is the exciting part. They say that when you are able to see your dreams come to reality, it’s time to jump in and fully commit. I’ve envisioned myself doing this for a couple of years now, but the timing wasn’t right. However, the timing is now right and so now it’s happening. I can’t wait to share it completely. 

Now because I’m spending time focused on my new project, my other project (my food blog) has taken a short hit in production where I’ve only made one of my dishes in the last two weeks with the camera rolling, and I still haven’t got the video ready for production yet. Once I get beyond this initial state of starting up my second venture, the cooking blog will return to its normal release cadence. 

Or, maybe I’ll hire myself a personal assistant and they can work on video production (haha), but on second thought why not. I’ll put that thought on the back burner. 

Change…it is inevitable…

Another wrinkle is stuff happening at work. On Tuesday, Jackie came by my desk and informed me she had to make a decision on which career path she would be taking as she also informed me that our department is being reorganized or “rewired” as I guess that’s the new buzz word. I’m supposed to be told about the org change later in the week and was instructed by Jackie to act surprised as she wasn’t supposed to say anything.

Sure enough, my boss came and sequestered me and him to a closed door session a few days later where he informed me about the org change. I wasn’t supposed to know so my practicing of being surprised paid off and was apparently spot on. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself because my boss literally asked, “Oh, you didn’t know?” after telling me about it. 

Short story, I’m supposed to report to a new manager whom I’ve never met before and who doesn’t know me or the other project managers she’s acquiring in this org change. The change is effective on 3/21. They say everything is supposed to stay the same, but do they really? I’m anticipating maybe nothing will change until the first of June as that is when my employer starts its next fiscal year. 

At that point I’m anticipating a huge change in the direction of where my career path would go as the group of project managers being rewired is a hybrid bunch in that we also manage scrum (iterative development) teams. Most of us hybrid managers are responsible for multiple projects and for multiple teams and a few of us also act as product managers in that we tin cup any new request by securing additional funding. So we’re not the normal project manager, or the typical scrum master, or the run of the mill product manager. We’re all three (and then some) all wrapped up in one. So it’ll take some time for management to figure out how to handle our small group of multi faceted PMs. 

Maybe by the first of the fiscal year, my second venture would be mature enough to give me my exit option, which is much sooner than I had anticipated, but if the timing is right then the timing is right. I guess I’ll really need to think about hiring a personal assistant, but that’s many weeks away at this moment. 

Of course the rest of the work week, it was hard focusing on actual work as now the looming org change was coming right around the corner and the rumor mill was rampant, which pushed me further from work mode for the remainder of the work week. 

So enter my pet project…

Now I do a very good job of not mingling my personal endeavors during business hours, and I’ve given up my lunch time many times to complete work, or work in preparation for afternoon meetings. The lunch hour is personal time anyway so, for this week, I decided to forego using my lunch hour for work and instead use it for my personal project. I’m glad I did as I’m better positioned for the work I have to do the weekend of week 12. 

Cook or dine out…

During the week, S was doing her own thing which was good. For the weekend, we decided that I would spend the Saturday night and Sunday with her. On Saturday day she would be doing a back to back 5k run/walk with her girlfriends. Originally we were to meet up at her house afterwards and have a low key dinner with her and her kids. 

The results of our Friday planning session was now on the verge of being altered as another option surfaced during the day. I could still cook dinner for her girlfriends and their dates, or we could go out for Saturday evening and have the low key dinner on Sunday. I voted on option one, which was to go out for dinner on Saturday night. I chose this as it was the best option and it gave us time for more interactions with her girlfriends and the dates. Otherwise, I would have been stuck in the kitchen cooking up food and S would be complaining about not having everything done at some imaginary time in her head, which if I had help from her it wouldn’t be a problem. But cooking solo for 16 people were not my idea of a fun Saturday night. 

Since Saturday became the dining out night, we changed plans for Sunday dinner to be our low key dinner with kids and now her mom and dad. The revised plan was to attend her daughter’s bowling fund raiser event, where apparently her ex and his wife would also be in attendance, and then grocery store for buying ingredients for dinner. But of course any revised planning with S is always subject to more change. 

Since the twins were with their dad on this weekend, their dad would be bringing them into town earlier than normal on Sunday so that they would attend their daughter’s fund raising event. At the event, S and I didn’t really mingle much with her ex as there were twelve of us on two lanes and we only had an hour and a half to bowl. He wasn’t that social either as we only chatted a few times during the bowling event because he would mostly sit down next to his wife (kids’ step mother) after his turn to bowl had completed. Also, I only spoke to his wife a brief time after the event. Maybe they were unsure how things were but maybe that’s their nature when they’re out in public. So I could see why S and her ex were exes. 

After the bowling event, S and I split directions as I needed to shop for dinner (for our small gathering of seven people) – us, her kids, and her mom and dad. 

Because I’m Filipino…

I don’t just cook for seven, I’ll cook for more than the number of folks as I don’t like my guests leaving hungry and wanting more. I think that’s just the Asian culture, which is completely opposite of how S is as she would only cook for herself and her kids. Her kids don’t eat her cooking much these days, so she mainly cooks for herself and rarely makes extra as her kids are picky eaters and would only eat her cooking if they like it. And S isn’t one that would make food that her kids love so there’s contention at dinner time as well with heated conversations containing phrases like “there’s no food here!” followed by an even sharper retort of “there is but you don’t like it” and yada yada yada. 

Since I’ve been staying on weekends and staying thru Sunday night, I usually cook which the kids eat and don’t complain about my cooking. In fact they make it a point to be there for dinner, which makes S a bit jealous but actually I think the kids like me cooking and I’m glad they are eating. So not sure why there is so much issues over the dinner table. Just make food your kids would eat. That’s another item filed in my mind about my relationship with S. 

It turned out that the small family gathering of seven mouths became 12 as S invited other folks to come over. I’m glad I purchased more food. 

Personal thoughts…

I feel that life is where it should be for me as I’m able to work on my personal projects, hold a good paying job, have personal goals that I’m bringing to fruition, and involved with a lady that for the most part has a good heart when you take away her mean demeanor and tone she has with her youngest child and her parents, and her emotional roller coaster ride she takes me through every now and then, and her selfish nature when it comes to food. I find those things are caused by her own baggage, and I’m not here to change how she handles her baggage. She’s the only one that could change that, and only if she wants to. I think I’ve learned to have more patience, especially when dealing in her emotionally charged atmosphere, which I’m finding harder to deal with than my business start ups. 

Until next time, stay safe online as well as offline…

#life #lifeasithappens #lifeasiknowit

9th week update (not on my calendar)

Thursday of the 8th week was my birthday and if it weren’t for Facebook, no one in the office would have known about it other than my friends who hangout together on non work events, and who I have a pact with to not express birthday wishes openly at work. 

I was anticipating a nice quiet evening alone and just working on my pet projects, which is exactly what I did. It was awesome being productive in my own quiet space with no parties, and no one to entertain, or forced to drink wine, or what have you. 

Don’t get me wrong. I throw a home party at least four times a year, attend several parties at other times of the year that I’m not hosting, and hang out with friends and coworkers at an occasional happy hour. I just don’t like the attention of a party specifically for and/or about me. That’s just the way I’m built. 

Friday of the 8th week, I took off from my 9 to 5 day job because I had to prepare for a Texas style BBQ at S’s house which we planned many weeks prior. The plan was for me to bring down my Weber charcoal grill and we (and that translates to me) would be grilling some South Texas style fajitas (beef, chicken & shrimp) along with all the fixings, or as we say it in the South, “fixin’s”.  

The argument that could not be avoided…

Friday afternoon (around 3pm), I texted S that I was on my way to her house. I had originally thought that I would be leaving earlier but that didn’t happen as I had to load my BBQ pit in the bed of my pickup truck, pack the food I had, and my grilling plates that make your food sizzle as you bring the food to the table (as she didn’t have these kitchen items). Of course in her head, I should have been there sooner but let’s don’t jump there just yet. 

I received a text from her about 4pm asking if I were already at her house to which I informed her I wasn’t but that I was in the area. I also hadn’t eaten since earlier in the morning and was a bit hungry so I stopped off to get a small bite to tide me over until supper, which I had thought would be spent with her children as this was her weekend with her kids. 

She replied back, “Okay. I’ll be leaving work soon and will meet you at the house and get changed for our evening event.”

“Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “did I miss something?”  I checked my handy planner calendar and nothing was written in the square for Friday. I checked my online calendar and nothing was on the online Friday calendar that I use and sync up with after work activities and other social events. 

So I texted her back, “What event? I have nothing on my calendars.” Oh boy…that was enough kindling to light a fire. 

I get a text, “Are you kidding?” And immediately after receiving that text my phone was buzzing with my caller ID showing it was S. I answered in my normal quirky greeting, “Weeellll heyllo”. Her typical response would match my quirkiness, but that didn’t happen. 

Instead she questioned again, “Are you kidding with me?” 

I of course truthfully answered, “No. What event were you referring to?” Silence then sniffling followed shortly afterwards. 
S goes off on me, “Now we talked about this several weeks back and you said you were okay with it. How did you not remember?”

“Well,” I started in “like you said, it was several weeks ago and we’ve made several ‘what do we do on this weekend’ planning of which nothing resulted in those plans for me writing anything on my calendar for tonight. Can you remind me what we’re supposed to be doing tonight?”

Then the control thing went sideways and she continued her ranting and now crying as she continued to read me the riot act about whatever she thought in her head. After a few more minutes, I calmly stated, “I didn’t say I didn’t want to go. I just wanted you to remind me what it is we had planned that I neglected to write into my calendar.” 

At this point she continued without telling me about the event and went into a different tangent about her being my secretary and yada, yada, yada. After another five minutes (or so) of her venting, crying, and becoming an emotional wreck, I again politely asked about tonight’s event. Finally she told me and I replied, “okay…that sounds like fun” and left it at that thinking her displaced anger would decrease and vanish. Nope. Of course not. It lasted another few minutes until she reached her house where I was already parked in her driveway and waiting for her to arrive. 

Now S and I had talked about a soirée in a nearby local town with her coworkers and friends, which I helped purchased during a fund raiser event, and to which I didn’t put in my calendar for this Friday night before the Tex-Mex themed party. 

Luckily her mom was there to shield me from more tounge lashes. I had thought the time she spent upstairs getting ready were enough to dissipate her anger but it seemed to only fuel it more. I got another earful as we were driving to her friend’s house who we were collecting and taking with us to the first half of tonight’s event, and whose husband would be meeting us after he gets off from work. “Do you want me to prove it?” She asked. I said, “no need to prove it like you prove it to everyone else who fights with you.” And the microphone was metaphorically dropped from my hand and hit a metaphorical stage. It didn’t even slow her down. 

Now in past fights, with my prior relationships, I learned if I took the blame, the heat of the argument would be lessened, but apparently not with an emotionally upset person with control issues. The opposite happens as they feed off of that submission. Truth be told I was only half listening by the time we were in the car and halfway towards her friend’s house, as my ears were tired of the assault. I had taken ownership of not remembering and that’s all I could do. And I asked her just that, “I’ve already apologized for not remembering, I’m taking the blame, I cannot go back in time. So what do you want me to do?”  

“Don’t let it happen again,” was her response to which I said, “there’s no way I can make that promise as I’m sure I’ll forget something else in the future.” 

She yells out, “MACARONI! MACARONI! MACARONI!” 

Take the escape fool…

Now I should have stopped the car and turned back towards her house, got back into my truck, which was still to be unloaded, and headed back home to a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. After all, that was the safe word we established that either one of us could utter without defending our reasoning if deployed before 19 months from the time we entered our exclusive dating timeframe. But instead I looked into her face and read it as an insincere utterance of the established safe word. 

So instead of stopping, I presumed the direction to her friend’s house and remained quiet. She also remained quiet other than the occasional turning directions, which I already knew since this wasn’t my first time to this particular friend’s house. I continued to remain quiet and stayed in my own world still deciding if I should walk away from this maddening one sided conversation and accept her raising of the “Macaroni” flag of freedom. 

We reached her friend’s house and she got out to let her friend know we were there. I needed some air and walked half a block down the street in the direction from which we came and took some deep breaths. 

I needed something to take me to a different place and luckily found a house for sale that had fliers with pictures of the inside of the house and other information about it. I wasn’t interested but I needed something else to read or put into my brain other than the ridiculous argument that just occurred. I guess you cannot call it an actual argument if I didn’t contribute to it. It was more of a hissy fit on her part and I was the unwilling recipient. 

Pretend all was well…

I walked back to the direction of her friend’s house hoping that they would emerge from the front door and we could be on our way. But as luck would have it, they didn’t, so I walked to the door as if nothing had happened holding the flier I was fake reading when the door opened. I’ve been married before and have had previous relationships where you fake happiness so no one knows that there was a squabble. 

“Hello there,” I greeted her friend’s young daughter as I entered through the doorway fake reading the flier I held out in front of me in an arms length away looking as if I were enthralled with whatever information was on the flier. 

“How much is it?” Asked her friend to which I quickly responded with the price using an unemotional tone.” And it’s a little over 1400 square feet” I added. We talked more about other houses in the neighborhood for a few more minutes before heading to our first destination of the evening. 

As usual I found my parking at the front of the establishment and we three walked into the place. 

Drama deferred…

I knew the argument was put on hold until after the evening and we would be back in a domain that were more private. So for the time being, I enjoyed the non-argumentative surroundings and mingled with her other coworkers and their husbands and dates. 

Now I’ve never been to a soirée where you sampled hard liquor like gin, rum, syrups, and bitters and how each is used in the making of various cocktail drinks. So this was new to me and apparently to S as well. The owner of the establishment was very informative about each of the drinks she made and how she came about creating each of the concoctions. She perfected her cocktails as I had with my food dishes which were via trial and error. She started her business with making jams and jellies but eventually evolved it into liquors and created a niche in the middle of wine country as being the only liquor tasting room. She’s been in this industry for almost two decades and she loves it. Something I want to aspire to – loving what I do for a living. 

Two thirds of the way through the soirée, S whispered she was sorry. “Was she really sorry, or was it the booze talking?” I thought as she uttered words seldom, wait…never is a more appropriate word, have emerged out of her mouth since I’ve been dating her. “I’m sorry” is not a phrase that gets emitted from the lips of a control freak. 

I didn’t say anything but returned a smile, more like a smirky smile as I wasn’t sure how much of the apology was real. I’ll find out later of course. 

After the last cocktail, I had gathered some of the jellies created by the owner and paid for my selection. S picked out some samples as well that were already included in the package that came with the event. 

The  group walked across the street to a French inspired restaurant where we partook in a three course meal and continued visiting with her colleagues. By the time we were done with dinner, it was late (about 10pm) and I was ready to go to bed with the assumption that our plans for tomorrow were intact. If so, I had a Texas party to cook for on the next day. 

Just let it go…

On the way to S’s house, S was normal and even commented on the fun she had. Then she did her normal critiquing of the food dishes. I had to admit I also had to critique my meal as I wasn’t inspired to return to the restaurant as my meal wasn’t as tasty as I would have imagined a French inspired restaurant would be. I was a bit disappointed with the main course. 

About 15 minutes later, we were at her house and I decided to see the rest of the weekend through and not throw in the towel as of yet. I probably should as when we were laying in bed, she started in again and began explaining her rationale about her feelings. She said she felt like she was my secretary that she has to remind me of our plans constantly. 

I had a fleeting thought that if she were my secretary, I would have been better prepared for the evening events but I wasn’t. So check she wasn’t my secretary and if she were she wasn’t really good at it. 

“I again apologized that I didn’t write the plan in my calendars.” I repeated. “And you’re not a secretary,” I added. It’s a good thing I was coherent enough to not insert the adjective “good” before secretary.

She drifted off to sleep as I laid awake several hours thinking about the afternoon and contemplating if the relationship would actually last. I finally fell asleep.

I’m too busy…

The next morning, I woke up early as it was a full day of preparing the meat that would have otherwise been completed the night before had we not had plans that were not on my calendar. By the time S arose from her slumber and ventured into the kitchen in search of coffee, I had completed removing the unwanted fat from a couple of skirt steaks and were processing the next skirt steak. I told her to just rest and I’ll take care of everything for the party. She was also still recovering from a cold and since she didn’t want to cancel tonight’s party, she needed her rest. 

She watched TV as I continued my prep work on the main protein for tonight’s party. I was done by about 10:30am. I knew she would be hungry but I still had to go to the store and pick up other ingredients. We settled on a hamburger from a local hole in the wall but good tasting burger joint not too far from her house. On my way back from the grocery store, I stopped off and picked up or lunches. One of her children were home but she didn’t order his lunch. Sad but I was too busy to run back out to get him something. He declined my offer of half my burger so I guess he wasn’t hungry yet. 

The guests were scheduled to arrive between 6 and 6:30 with dinner at 7. I had everything ready by 7 and we all sat down to eat. Folks loved the spiciness of the steak, chicken, and shrimp fajitas as well as my Spanish rice and frioles a la charra (bean soup). I also made the traditional Tex-Mex spicy cheese dip, pico de gallo, and spicy guacamole for them to snack on while waiting for the dinner. Her friend brought pico also which I liked better than mine. 

All her guests were done and out of the house a little before midnight. The ladies loaded the dishwasher before leaving and I decided to leave the remainder of the dishes alone and to tackle them in the morning as I would be awake before everyone would be anyways. It’ll be my alone time to enjoy the peace and quiet of a Sunday morning. 

Personal thoughts…

Not withstanding S’s utterance of the safe word, I had definite opportunities to walk away from this relationship at the ending of the 9th week as the fighting lasted far too long and was enough to say “I’m done” with no regrets and no looking in the rear view mirror. But I know deep down S isn’t a bad person, she just has control issues that cloud her judgment and makes her world tumultuous when it doesn’t have to be. If things continue down this path, it’s only a matter of time before I’m going to weary and be completely disengaged at which time I’ll have to leave so as to remain true to myself. 

Until my next update, stay safe online as well as offline…

#life #lifeasiknowit #lifeasithappens

8th week update (our annibirthary)

Thursday of the 7th week, I reached a stopping point of my personal projects which meant I still had a few hours to go to prepare for the upcoming weekend with S. I knew I couldn’t have everything done, so I multi tasked and was packing for my weekend while I continued on my person project work. 

Dating update…

The weekend was crammed full of events so I had to appropriately pack several and varying attire for each venue. The first was a concert to one of the bands that S loved. On the following day, we had a chocolate and wine pairing event hosted by one of the wine clubs to which S belonged. This event was one of the wine club’s ‘member appreciation day’. Later that Saturday evening, I had made reservations to a nice and local restaurant to celebrate our one year anniversary and our upcoming birthdays. And finally on Sunday, my secret plan was to take S on a personal shopping experience of getting her iWatch. We later named the two weeks as our ‘annibirthary’. Of all the events planned, I was looking forward to the last one because for one, it’s a secret and S doesn’t know she would be picking out her personal gift. And two, I like seeing people’s expressions when they get a surprise gift – I couldn’t wait for her surprise. 

By 1AM Thursday (probably closer to 2AM), I had completed the things I needed to do, which only left a couple of hours for some shut eye. 

“I’m going to be dead tomorrow,” I whispered out loud to myself as I crawled into bed. Five  minutes later, or that’s what it felt like, my alarm was buzzing and the time was showing 4:30AM. 

“Yep! I’m going to be dead today and don’t know how I’ll function tonight as I’ve got to go to that concert with S,” I scolded myself. 

I hit snooze and drifted off for a few more seconds until my alarm sounded again after another 9 minutes had lapsed. I repeated the process and hit the snooze button again taking in my few seconds of power naps between the rude yet helpful “wake up! It’s morning! You’re going to be late!” alarm. 

I finally fueled up from the power napping after about five snoozes later. Good thing I live close to my “bobbing in the sea of life” job that I could have snoozed a couple of more times. “I need coffee and lots of it”, I whispered to myself as stumbled into my kitchen. 

It only took a few sips of my espresso to awaken me to a full functional state. “I can do this! It’s Friday!” I exclaimed, which in reality was more of a somber statement and not as enthusiastic as what I had really needed. In reality, I just wanted to crawl back in bed and sleep for another half day. 

Luckily I pushed through last night to get everything packed and to which I had the fortitude to have laid out my attire for today, which would also be the same attire I would wear to the concert later that night. I’m glad my alter ego laid out my clothing for this morning so I didn’t have to think about it. 

I left my day job about 8 hours later (about 3pm),  which was a lot earlier than I normal do so that I could swing by my house and pick up my bags for the weekend. I thought about changing my attire but opted to remain in the same clothes I had worn to work. My attire was fine but hindsight I would have changed as I was wearing khakis, a hooded jacket, and tennis shoes that matched the color of my jacket. Most folks at the concert were dressed about the same comfort level as I was so I was fine clothing wise. I just don’t normally dawn a super casual outfit for going out and about on a date night. 

The last few dates, I’ve managed to score front row parking spots which S lately have made comments to my luck, “how do you find these perfect parking spots. I never do but you, you just turn the corner and there it is.” 

Now I’ve been with S for a little over a year, and I’m beginning to understand the tea leaves for when our date would be a good date and when it wouldn’t. Tonight started a little rocky as she was non jokingly shaming me on my luck for finding prestigious parking. I hoped it would quietly slip into the night, but it didn’t. There were a few more jabs on her part as we ate at the restaurant across the street and opposite the concert hall to which we would enter and be seated within an hour listening to a band she claims as one of her favorites. 

During dinner, S continued her typical slide into her “I’m in a bitchy mood and you’re going to sit there and listen to it” zone. My last attempt to snap her out of this unpleasantness was trying to be a gentleman and offered her the last of the appetizers that remained in front of us on our table. 

She goes into a diatribe “…I had already said I didn’t want it…” 

I interrupted her in mid tounge lashing, “I was just trying to be a gentleman.” 

Instead of taking the hint and saying a pleasant ‘thank you’ she continued her response of, “…but if I wanted it, I would have told you the first time you asked me if I wanted it…but as I blah blah blah…” 

I said nothing and picked up the last of the food in front of us and finished the remainder without acknowledging anything she had said and left her in the open, awkwardness of the space she put between us. After she finished her rant, I continued my silent eating and didn’t respond and just sat there and finished off every tiny morsel of the appetizers and continued to let her wallow in that awkward space a while longer. From her prior rants, I learned not to venture into her emotionally negative tail spins with her. It’s her invitation to argue and I wasn’t going to do it. 

She finally commented, “I wanted that last bite.” to which I mumbled as I swallowed the last bite “nope I’m no longer a gentleman and I’m not sharing.” She smiled and commented that I was funny. 

Now I could have paid the bill and just left her there at the restaurant and went back home, but I didn’t as I knew that this emotional tailspin was not about me but about her struggle with control. Remember the post I posted a few weeks prior about our discussion where I learned more about her power struggle? At that time and still is for now, I’ve decided to continue playing for a little longer. How much longer is the question to yet be answered. 

The rest of the night was fine as we both enjoyed the concert. The opening band (Con Brio) was out of San Francisco and played nonstop for 45 minutes. It was a great opening act. The featured band (The Revivalists), who S claimed were one of her favorites, played for 1.5 hours. The concert ended around 11:30PM and we still had another hour drive to S house. 

I’m sleeping in…

The next morning I stayed in bed way past my “up before dawn still dark outside” typical get out of bed time. And I had continued this laziness well into the next hour after I did arise from my ‘lack of sleep from the night before’ rest. 

S was up making us both coffee as I came downstairs. She appeared to be in her ‘none power struggle’ demeanor. In a few hours we would go out for breakfast and later proceed to our chocolate and wine tasting event. 

I’ve not been to a wine and chocolate tasting before but basically a wine gets paired with a locally made chocolate. The chef was the one who made the chocolate and the wine pourers were the folks who help paired the wine with the chocolate. This was a great experience trying something new. This was also S’s first time at a wine and chocolate tasting. 

The remainder of the day was pleasant with a calm and peaceful afternoon as we meandered and discovered a new to us BBQ place whose owner hails from Dallas Texas. S invited one of her best friends, and her best friend’s husband, to join us. We sat and visited without any control issues coming to the surface. S and I were both filled from the BBQ restaurant that we decided to cancel the fancy dinner reservations and save that experience when our bellies were not as full. 

You’ll need to make a decision…

The next day after I made us breakfast and washed our morning breakfast dishes, we got ready and ventured out to get her surprise. I anticipated that it would be a great day with no squabbling as it was a day focused on her, which she didn’t know yet. 

On the trip to our afternoon destination, I gave her a heads up that she would need to make a decision. She confessed that she thought we were going car shopping for me as I’ve been looking to get a different car, but her making a decision was a wrinkle in that thought. She tried guessing but I told her that even if she guessed it correctly, I would deny it. 

We reached our destination, an outside mall called Bridgeport Village. We walked to the placard that showed “you are here” and found the destination store, of which I only made a mental note and didn’t say it out loud. We approached the Apple Store and she couldn’t believe it. Her smile was priceless. Three hours later, we walked out with her “annibirthary” gift – her personal iWatch. 

Sunday night…

She remained excited and was in a great mood the rest of the afternoon and evening. There was one small moment when she did have a power struggle and became short again on Sunday night after dropping her younger son at her parents’ house, to which I stopped her and firmly stated, “I was just asking a question…don’t go there!”

She took a second and was fine. 

The rest of the 8th week…

Monday was a holiday for a lot of folks, which unfortunately, my employer was not part of the companies that gave Presidents’ Day off to its employees. Because I spent the Sunday night at S, I commuted to work the second Monday in a row. This time around, the total trip time was a little shorter and I reached my office a few minutes before 8AM. 

The rest of the week was again focused on my personal projects. But I did spend most of the time on the phone on Wednesday with S as that was her birthday. 

Personal thoughts…

Why do I select women who have internal power struggles? I must like the challenge or else I would be attracted to just those Barbie type women with no real substance other than their outer appearances. Instead I’m drawn to women struggling with their inner conflicts. Of course the latter isn’t discovered until months of dating. But then why do I stay after the inner struggle issues had surfaced.

More for me to figure out. Until next time, stay safe online and offline. 

#life #lifeasithappens #lifeasiknowit

6th week update (the cook)

Last weekend was the annual Portland seafood and wine festival where S and I had our first official date a year ago and where I told the story of her literally falling (for me). Well she didn’t fall for me emotionally, we were walking on a section of sidewalk that were made uneven by the roots of the nearby tree, and she didn’t see the unevenness of the sidewalk and fell. You can read that post here

This past weekend, S was still recovering from her cold and I was feeling experimental in the kitchen so I proposed we have our own version of the seafood and wine festival. My proposal was for me to cook and for her to sample. She was ecstatic with the idea and so was I. In addition to our seafood and wine feast, that weekend would be the first Sunday sleepover which meant I would be commuting to work from her house. That part I was not looking forward to as prior to my moving to my current house, my typical commute took one and a half  hours one way. That’s three hours of driving in one day. Luckily this commute will only be one way. 

The menu…a variety of spicy, salt and pepper dishes

On Saturday morning I ventured to my favorite Asian market and purchased the ingredients for my seafood menu which consisted of steamer clams, shrimp, squid (for calamari), oysters, Dungeness crabs, and of course the jalapeño peppers, Serrano peppers, and the aromatics of yellow onions, green onions, garlic, and ginger. I also visited another Asian market to get a non seafood protein (pork short ribs). 

S picked four wines for us to pair with our feast – a Pinot Noir, a Syrah, a Pinot Gris, and a Chardonnay. 

The creative process I prefer when I’m on one of my experimental rants is to cook in small batches and tweak the proportions of the spices and ingredients with each subsequent batch having the end result of a dish that I’ll add to my list of favored recipes. S was on board and welcomed the idea of batch grazing. It also played into her love of critiquing as she has an opinion of almost everything. I think we’ll be good as long as I don’t ask her about things she has to deeply ponder where her go to response is my pet peeve phrase of hers “I don’t know”. I think the cooking experience wouldn’t warrant the utterance of this phrase. 

The first dish…Dungeness crabs 

I’ve made this before, so I’m not tweaking my seafood boil recipe. This is just for snacking and for the base of my steamer clams recipe. My typical seasoning for boiling crab is a spicy Cajun mix consisting of cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, bay leaves, and lemons. Once the water becomes a rolling boil, I add the crabs and continue cooking them for 20 minutes, then afterwards, drain them, and let them rest another 15 minutes before I clean them.

The second dish…steamer clams 

Now prior to this past weekend, I’ve only made the traditional steamer clams that I learned from my mother which was just cooking them in a garlic butter sauce. 

For my fist batch, I wanted to completely change the steaming process. I cleaned the crab and instead of discarding the shell and the innards of the crab, I put them into the stock pot that would be lightly boiled and would be used in the steaming process. To this steam pot, I added the discards of the onion (onion skins and roots), jalapeño stems, garlic skins, ginger skins, bay leaf and vegetable stock. I should have used the same water I cooked the crab in but didn’t think about that until I had already poured it into the sink. 

“Next time I’ll do that”, I mumbled to myself. 

I covered this steam pot with the steamer tray full of clams and let the aromas from the steam pot cook the steamer clams. In a separate pan I melted butter and added green onions, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and red pepper flakes. Once the clams opened, I added them to the butter mixture and stirred them in the mixture until they were fully coated before plating them and serving them to S for her critique. 

The only noise S emitted were groans of deliciousness. We paired them with the Pinot Gris. She said, “don’t change anything! It’s perfect as it is!” After we devoured the steamers, S dipped the crab in the buttery mixture and thought it was equally complimentary to the sweetness of the crab. 

So no tweaking was needed thus far and since the base ingredients of onions, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, and jalapeño were the common theme, it was easy to move to the next dish.

The third dish…spicy oysters 

Now this one would be truly an experiment as my mother hardly, correction, never (that I could remember) ever cooked oysters when I was growing up. 

My first batch was a flop aesthetically and the flavor profile were somewhat missing the mark as well. 

For my second batch, I changed both the preparation and the cooking process which improved it in all aspects from, looks, aroma, and flavor. S had a food orgasm and after taking a moment said, “Omg!! This is amazing and it could even be better than my mother’s pan fried oysters!”

“Wow!” I thought to myself. 

It was better than her mother’s oyster recipe. She bragged to her mom (the next day) that her oysters had serious competition. As this was my first time making this, I’m not ready to lay claim that my version was better. After making it a few more times (with consistency) then perhaps, but not just yet. 

The fourth dish…spicy short ribs

The next dish was the only non seafood item. Now I had made this dish before, but it hadn’t  been taken through the vetting process. So I decided to make it again and get an honest critique.

To my surprise, S liked this dish as well and had no criticism or changes to be made. So I guess I got my answer that the current process in making this dish is solid and is a recipe to save. 

The fifth dish…squid (calamari)

The next dish was the fried calamari which is a typical appetizer on most restaurant menus and is one of my favorite items to try out when I’m dining outside my kitchen. So far, the flavor profile I make is still uniquely different than what you get at the restaurants and after serving it to S, her facial and vocal enjoyment was supportive of my own conclusions. 

S complimented, “Wow! I’ve never tasted fried calamari with this intense flavors. I love this dish!” And no tweaking. I asked about the need for a sauce and she (along with other folks who had tasted it before) said “…definitely not needed!” 

So I guess that dish is ready to be placed in my favored set of recipes. 

The sixth and final dish…crispy spicy salt and pepper shrimp. 

In my prior attempts in making this dish, I wasn’t satisfied as the cooking process was not getting the crispness of the shrimp where I wanted it. This is also an experiment not with the flavor profile but with the cooking process. 

I decided to use the same cooking process as I did for the second batch of oysters. The results were the way I had envisioned it and the crispness remained throughout the cooking process as I had wanted. 

As you may know through my prior posts, I’m Asian and in Asian families, when shrimp is cooked, we use the whole shrimp (heads and all). Now depending on the size of the shrimp, we may (not on all occasions) bother with the removal of the vein that runs along the spine of the shrimp. But other that that, we eat the whole shrimp. 

For S and since these were the medium variety (42-50s), I tried the Asian approach by deveining but leaving the head and tails. I also clipped the horn and eyes and trimmed the legs, which otherwise, if cooking for my family or for other Asian guests, I would have left those on as they become crunchy during the cooking process. 

This dish did get criticism, as already anticipated, to not have the skins or the heads presented. So basically, S would like it prepared like what you get in restaurants. 

S invited another teacher friend and her husband over to join us during the making of the sixth dish and they too had the same comments. Duly noted that when serving this dish for non Asian guests, the shrimp would need extra preparation in the removal of the heads and skins. 

It was getting late in the evening an I was getting tired so that version would have to wait for next time. I had been prepping and cooking since 1 in the afternoon and finished the last dish around 10:30 PM. I was exhausted and didn’t do my normal clean up and left them for the morning. 

The next morning, I got up early and cleaned my kitchen mess and was just drying off the last dish when S came downstairs. 

With eyes dancing with joy, she exclaimed, “Wow! My kitchen fairy cleaned the kitchen! Thank you.” and gave me a morning kiss. 

It was a great one year anniversary of our first official date!

My cooking blog…

After making the personal seafood and wine date, I realized I could kill two birds with one stone and use this time to also video the preparation and cooking of these dishes as well as photograph the final product for my blog site. I mentioned it to S and she was fine with it. So I’ve got six more dishes I will be adding to my food blog. 

Have a great week and I’ll speak with you all soon. Stay safe online (and offline)…

#life #lifeasiknowit #lifeasithappens

#240 (no snow fun for us)

Since I was rudely awakened out of a deep sleep yesterday morning, I changed my alarm to NOT sound at it’s normal weekday morning time. I woke a few minutes after 7 AM, made a fresh pot of coffee, and sat down to enjoy a few minutes of quietness and solitude before S and her flock of children arose out of their slumber. 

Prepare meals for the day…

I was working on preparing our slow cooked dinner when I heard S coming down the stairs. She kissed me good morning, poured herself a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and sat in one of the barstools opposite the countertop stove but was facing me.

The menu for the evening meal was a pork butt roast seasoned my way with bay leaves stuffed with garlic and a salt and pepper rub. My plan was to cook it slowly in a crockpot with carrots and parsnips for the entire day so that it would be ready by the time we returned from our second day of having fun in the snow. 

I had just started cutting slits in the roast to accommodate the garlic wrapped with fresh bay leaves, which she thought was a great idea and something she’d never had done or thought to do before. As she continued to sit and watch (and commen), I started doing my salt and pepper rub. 

“Don’t you rub the pork with oil before yo put the salt and pepper on it?” she asked. 

I replied, “I guess it can be fine that way, but I typically pat dry my meat as I want the dry ingredients to stick to the meat itself. I do add oil to a turkey though to give it that golden brown color.”

She responded with a facial gesture that said, “I don’t know if I’d do it that way.”

I reassured her it would be fine. 

The last ingredient which is something I’ve always used whenever I make roast (beef or pork) is worcestershire sauce. 

Well of course S questioned, “wouldn’t that be too vinegary?” followed by a facial expression that said, “I think you made a mistake there.”

I proudly announced, “I guess I’ll just have to convince you. Have you had many of my meals that hadn’t tasted better than you expected?”

She responded, “yes you have surprised me but this one I’m not sure.” and grimaced again. 

I put the roast in the barely big enough crockpot and repositioned the roast several times before the lid set closed. I added a few thicker sliced carrots and parsnips and the wedges of half an onion. I turned the setting to low and began working on our breakfast. S continued to sit and watch. 

I had the routine down as bacon was in the oven baking at 400 degrees, which she later questioned why I didn’t broil it as that is how she would do it. 

Is it me or shouldn’t you refrain from commenting if you’re not helping with breakfast. I said, “I didn’t want to overcook the bacon as I’m also making the country style potatoes as well as eggs.” 

She continued to spew advice from the seat opposite the cooking area. I ignored her comments and changed the subject to talk about today’s ski trip. 

She was off the subject of breakfast and rattled off the weather conditions which I admit I only listened to the last few words and repeated them back to her showing I was somewhat listening to her rambling. I was concentrated on making breakfast and doing a good job of multitasking trying not to ruin the three breakfast items. 

By this time she moved into the kitchen and started making fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice to accompany breakfast. I guess that’s one thing S contributed to breakfast. 

As I was almost finished cooking breakfast, I politely interrupted her juice squeezing and asked her to get the kids up and ready for breakfast. She disappeared momentarily to waken her kids, which instead of yesterday’s big brother alarm system of loud door banging, I heard the somewhat gentle calling of each her children’s names as she entered their sleeping quarters. 

Her daughter emerged and began plating her normal breakfast of bacon and hash browns. I’ve learned her daughter is not fond of eggs or fruit. You would think she would be obese but in reality she is extremely fit and wears a size 4. I bought her some Nike stadium pants as part of her Christmas gifts in extra small size. 

After calling on her boys, S returned to the kitchen, finished her juicing project, and began plating her breakfast. I asked, “Are the boys up?”

She said, “I told them breakfast was ready. They snooze they lose.”

Hold the phone…

More conversations were occurring in my head and questioning the actions of S with her children. Now her daughter has well adjusted and moves quickly to action when it comes to food or when it requires them to be out and about. I know this meal must be special as I’ve rediscovered that her mom doesn’t cook breakfast. 

What’s shocking to me is that she fed herself first before ensuring her kids were awake and would have a hot meal before we traipsed up to the mountain for a full day of skiing. 

Again a very different parenting style. 

The cooking of breakfast was done. All had disappeared to get ready for the slopes while I rinsed the breakfast dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher; washed, dried, and put away the pots and pans used; and wiped down the dining table, the kitchen counter, the stove top and the rest of the kitchen to its pre-meal state. 

Then I got myself dressed for the mountain trip. 

Renting equipment…

The second day of our snow trip was underway around 11am with everyone fed and loaded in my truck. The first order of business was to rent a snowboard for her daughter, and to exchange the ski package her youngest rented yesterday for a snowboard package as he wanted to try out snowboarding today. 

The salesperson at the rental place advised us to call the ski resorts before renting as folks have been returning with unused equipment because traffic was taking excess of 3 hours just to the first of many resorts on the mountain. Basically the weather conditions were much improved from last night that everyone in Portland, OR decided to go to the mountains. The salesperson informed that from 7 AM until about the time we arrived, their tiny store front was filled with folks and lines were out the door. 

I took his advice and called the resort we had planned to be at today. I tried several times and could not get through to the resort. So we decided to save the lift tickets for a different day when traffic caused by hoards of people trying to get to the ski resorts were lessened. Instead we took the advice of the salesman to go in a local hike. 

Back to the rental house…

We returned to the rental house and everyone sheared off their skiing and snowboarding clothing and changed into their normal clothes. 

We talked about staying at the rental house for the day and playing games and just hanging out. I thought to myself, “this would be interesting as I’ve never seen all four of them interact as a single family unit without some snide remark or a sharp tongue lashing.”

The first game…

As everyone settled in, they decided to play a card game called “Phase 10”, which was very similar to a card game I played in Texas called “pit”. It’s a little different in that you always start off with 10 cards in your hand. There are ten phases or challenges that each person had to achieve. The first person to complete all ten phases wins. 

The interaction between the four wasn’t bad. I played between the two boys and received discards from the younger boy which meant I discarded to the oldest sibling. The daughter played between her mother and her twin brother. 

Other than the intermittent cursing from the younger son, there were no dysfunctional moments of yelling or arguing among each other. The oldest son won. 

Draw me a picture…

The next game we played was pictionary where  you draw the object described on a card that matches the color block that your game piece landed on. So if your game piece were on a yellow square, you would draw the object described on the card highlighted in yellow. 

I discovered her younger son was a great sketcher. I think I just thought of a great birthday gift for him – his sketch pad with sketch pencils. 

Yours truly won this game. 

Break from game playing…

We took a break from games and S and her younger son went for a hike around the neighborhood. They later informed they followed the Zigzag River up river. It was scenic with trees but nothing else than the river lined with trees. 

Her oldest child retreated to his chosen bedroom to finish homework while her daughter and I hung out watching a movie. During one of my falls yesterday, I bruised my left knee and was a little stiff. Otherwise I would have gone hiking with S and her younger son. 

I didn’t learn more about her daughter than I already knew as she had hung out with S and me on several occasions. This is the child I’ve gone clothes shopping with, as well as eaten out in restaurants with her and her mother. She’s also the child that loves driving my vehicles every opportunity she gets. 

Dinner was served…

I could smell the pot roast as it’s been slow cooking for seven plus hours. I checked and found the roast to be tender. I started on preparing the remaining carrots and parsnips when S returned from her and her son’s hiking trip. The house was quiet (other than the movie playing in the background) up until S and her younger son returned. I’m seeing a pattern emerge. 

I had sliced the remaining root vegetables in a diagonal cut, tossed them in a bit of oil, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Since this was the last dinner, I wanted to use up all the non-breakfast ingredients so I added the remainder of the partially used onion to this mix. There was also a lime that would be thrown away so I added the zest of the lime to this vegetable concoction. 

S was watching all this time and I guess couldn’t refrain from commenting, “The zest of lime, huh? That’s going to be a different taste.”

“Yep it should liven up the dullness of the root vegetables, but we’ll see.” I said as I put them in the oven and moved on to the mashed red potatoes. 

About 20 minutes later, the root vegetables were cooked as I like them (still a little crispy), the mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy, and the roast was removed from the crockpot and laid out on a platter. The meat pulled away from the bone perfectly.
I guess everyone liked it as there were only a third of the roast remaining, all the mashed potatoes gone, and a couple pieces of the lime zested root vegetables remained, which I ate while I was clearing the dinner dishes. 

Chef and dishwasher…

I noticed after dinner, everyone cleared the dining room and retreated to the places. The boys were in the back room playing a game of billiards, S grabbed a book and was reading in one of the reclining chairs, and the daughter watched TV and texted on her phone. 

As for me, I rinsed our dinner plates and put them in the dishwasher. The only one I didn’t do was the daughter’s as she did that when she was done eating. But the others, including S piled their dirty dinner dishes in the sink as they typically had done in their house. Now I see why there is always an accumulation of dishes in their sink at home. No one bothered to help. 

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “I’m the cook, dishwasher, and mister money bags this trip! Wow!” 

I continued in silence and cleared and wiped off the dinner table, reloaded the dishwasher with the dirtied dishes, washed and dried the crockpot, started the dishwasher, and wiped down the stove and cooking surface of the stove. 

I settled down on the sofa with the daughter to watch TV. This trip has exposed and confirmed a lot of information about S and her family. 

The last game…

We played one last game called nerts. Basically  the setup is similar to a game of solitaire where each player has a stack of 13 cards (called nerts). Instead of having four aces to buil from, you can build off of anyone’s stack of aces. You win by discarding all your nerts. 

Who knew that years of playing solitaire would propel me victorious. The kids and S weren’t happy and I got called a few colorful metaphors throughout the game. I guess that’s just how this family were raised. 

I later mentioned to S that it was fun watching and learning about her family as this was the first time that all her kids were together since we’ve been dating. After searching the corners of her mind, S concluded and agreed that this was the first time in years that they were all together. 

Maybe there would be more of these moments in their lives…

#boardgames #cardgames #familybonding #life

#236 (food for skeleton crew)

During the last couple weeks of the calendar year only few souls actually go into the office and work. The majority of the full time employees (like myself) take a few days of vacation during this down time. However there are some folks (workaholics) continue as if it were a typical day. I say enjoy the benefits and take the time to refuel your mind and soul. Then there are the unfortunate folks like our contractors who must work. They can choose to not work, but then they don’t get paid. 

Those who are in the office working during the holidays don’t have food options as the cafeterias and restaurants on campus also close during this time of year. So I started something last year that I think I’ll continue as long as I work there. 

Like I did last year, I brought in food to feed the souls who were in the office. I wish I could say that all of it comes from the goodness of my heart, but let’s face it I have an alternative motive in that it allows the opportunity for testing out new recipes for my upcoming parties. I figured it’s a symbiotic relationship where I get feedback by seeing their faces with either a grimace in disappointment or a smile and eyes lit up with approval. 

Regardless, I get feedback and they in turn get food. 

Unknown number of diners…

I’m not sure how many folks will be working as it’s the holidays. I estimate there would be a few employees (maybe 5) and the majority of the contractors, which I estimate to be around 15. Jackie texted me and said she would be in as well just to partake in the luncheon. 

Last year, they were so grateful and devoured my cooking. Even our VP was in the office and he also partook and consumed two of the ribs. Maybe he’ll be there this year as well. 

So I’ve made enough to feed 30 people. 

The grub…

On the menu this year and based on requests from last years recipients are their favorites from last – my slow cooked wings and my fall-off-the-bone BBQ pork ribs. In addition to those two favorites, I threw in my shrabacon (shrimp stuffed with crab and jalapeño and wrapped in bacon), and a vegetarian option.  Now I don’t usually do veggies, so this would be new for both them and me. 

My slow cooked chicken wings…

My slow cooked pork ribs…

My shrabacon…

My pickle chips…

My baked cauliflower…

My birthday present…

As I posted last Friday (http://wp.me/p70WJj-WR), it was my birthday and I like keeping things low key. The other thing I like to do on my birthday is to give back to my community. So as part of my birthday celebration, I brought my food into the office and the best part is they didn’t know it was my birthday. So I celebrated my birthday without them knowing it – I love that. 

I’m glad I’m able to bring delight to their taste pallets, especially since the cafeteria was closed. However, even if it were open, they do not have great tasting food. Our taste buds have been bored for many months now since they contracted with a different food company and have taken away the food truck options. 

So enjoy my office team!! Happy holidays!!

#bbq #chickenwings #bbqribs #stuffed #shrimp #baconwrapped #food #holidays #life #singleasianmale

#228 (new appetizers – part 2)

The two appetizers turned out better on the second round. So instead of taking one, I took both to S’s holiday work party. Did I mention, the party dress code was to proudly wear the “ugliest Christmas sweater” you own. And there would be a white elephant gift exchange to boot.

I’m not sure we would win the ugliest Christmas sweater contest as it’s not too bad compared to other sweaters people were happily dawning and flaunting. 

My white elephant was purchased during one of those couldn’t sleep because I had too much brain activity keeping me awake nights, which I’ve always had throughout my teens and into my adult life. I couldn’t wait for someone to open it. The recipient would either love it and hold on to it, or try to quickly coerce another guest into stealing it away from them. It’ll be entertaining regardless. 

Arriving late…

Well of course we would arrive later than most of her coworkers. I guess that’s the new norm when I’m with S. We weren’t as late as other folks but much later than when I would have normally wanted to arrive. Of course S was okay with it as that’s just who she is. I would be there a few minutes before. I might sit in the car and wait while the starting time approached, but I wouldn’t be “fashionably late” as we have been. 

All gone…

In parties I don’t host, I like to watch and see which items are devoured first. I discount any store purchased items as those don’t represent what I would normally prepare. Those that legitimately run out first are the ones I want to emulate and either get the recipe, or the more favored thing to do is to savor the flavor and try to pick out the ingredients. 

Of the two I brought (with S), both were neck and neck on their consumption rate, which after the first round of grazing, only a few pieces (about half a dozen) remained. There was another contender which I also liked. It too had a few remaining pieces. I took another couple of them to begin deciphering the flavor. 

I tasted garlic, a sweetness like a syrup or honey, or maybe a jelly of some sort squeezed into a date which was wrapped in bacon. The filling in the date tasted like cream cheese and a pepper or jalapeño jam. It was quite tasty and the different flavors blended together well. 

On the second round, the two items S and I brought were gone. So were the bacon wrapped date stuffed with cream cheese and pepper jam. 

So now I have three items to include in my upcoming small plate themed party. 

#entertaining #life #appetizers #partyideas #singleasianmale

#227 (new appetizers – part 1)

I think the next party I’m planning would be a small plate themed gathering. Some folks (and in that I mean my girlfriend S) think that tapas or small plates require less preparation than a full four or five course meal. If fact it’ll actually take more time as there would be more, chopping, slicing, puréeing, and visual artistry than say making a steak or roast dinner. 

Given my previous experience in the four parties I hosted the past 12 months and the many parties hosted when my oldest son was a small child, this one would blend and test my culinary art skills (not saying I have any professional training), time management, and superb coordination. Oh who am I kidding. It organically comes together on its own. 

Opportunity for an experiment…

S was attending a staff party this past Saturday in which I was her date. She volunteered us (and us being me) to cook something for the party. So I took up the challenge and thought about introducing a new appetizer, or perhaps two. It depends which one tastes better. Maybe what I make for her gathering , I can add them to my arsenal for my upcoming event. 

Now S is really a good cook. But she cannot reproduce the exact taste every time she makes a dish, which is problematic as I think there should be consistency from the first time they taste the dish to the next time you serve it again. She knows she brings that unique gift of having inconsistent flavors each time she makes a dish. The main reason is because she substitutes ingredients and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. 

My style…

I don’t precisely measure anything, but I do keep the same ingredients I used the last time the dish was successfully served. Rather than measuring, I eyeball it and taste as I go. Although the amounts of each ingredient might be slightly different each time I make the dish, the flavor is pretty consistent with my previous batch. I also go by color, smell and texture. 

Typically I give myself a few days to create several batches so that I could tweak the flavor profile before presenting it my partakers. This time I did not have that luxury. 

Saturday morning I woke early and travelled an hour south to S’s house. I was determined to make at least one batch before the final version I would present to her coworkers and her boss. S of course had a different idea in that we just make one batch and go with however that one comes out. So I had to emphasize that’s not me, and that’s not how I operate, and that’s not what I’m going to do, especially if I’m the one cooking. 

Do you remember back in grade school when two alpha males squared off in the playground and the other kids would chant, “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!”? 

No one was chanting this phrase, but I sure felt the tension as she had other plans she wanted to do that day. In the past I’ve given into her crazy, full schedule day to which we either showed up late to an event and/or we were frantically scrambling to get out the door. Oh typical Pisces – late to everything. 

Just settle down…

After I took my stance, I said calmly but assertively, “I’m going to the store to buy the ingredients for tonight’s dinner. You can either come with me or not.”  I waited a few minutes, then I left (without her). 

I bought the ingredients and returned to her house. I didn’t know where she went as her garage door was open and her vehicle wasn’t in sight. I suspect she had to run one at least one of her children somewhere. I entered her back door that led to her kitchen. I cleared out a space in her always cluttered kitchen counter to begin my prep and cooking. 

Cook and dishwasher…

When I cook, I also wash, dry, and put away the dishes I used – which is how I’ve always been. I think it is because I don’t have ample amounts of cookware so I need to keep a clean pan handy. It’s also partly of my OCD. So while the first batch was cooking and I had about twenty minutes, I started in on the dishes I used as well as the pile of dishes left from either the night before and/or earlier this morning before I arrived. 

The oven timer sounded informing me that my creation was ready. I set my first batch on the counter to cool and kept an eye on her cat, which has a bad habit of jumping onto the counter. Ensuring my food was not in jeopardy of being consumed by her cat, I turned my attention back to the dishes. 

After the dishes were washed and drying on a rack, I sampled my first batch. It wasn’t bad. It needed a bit more spice (for me), but other than that I think it was just right for her coworkers. I left a few samples out for S to try whenever she returned. 

The other appetizer…

S still hadn’t returned so I started on the second appetizer option. I’m not sure I’ll bring both, but at least I would have something I could be proud to present not only to her party but to mine in the next few months. 

By the time the second appetizer was done, S had returned along with a peace offering of my favorite Dutch Brothers drink. Along with the drink was her apology for our earlier verbal scuffle. That’s the part of our relationship I don’t like – the contention between us when we disagree on what we have to do. Usually I give in as it’s not worth the energy to fight on noncritical matters. 

I tackle the hard stuff first while she likes to play first and work later. Thus my house is clean and most of the time things are in their places. Her house is the opposite and regularly decorated (or accented) with piles of clutter made evident by the various drop zones established out of habit over many, many years. Her kids complain of the messiness but, like their mother, they contribute and don’t do anything to rid their house of the piles until it has accumulated well beyond a quick tidying exercise. When they do start on the cleaning it take several days. 

I’m not sure that’s a characteristic of a being born under a particular sign or just laziness. I think it’s the latter as my younger of the two sisters have the same decoration techniques. My sister was born in April and S was born in February. 

#relationships #life #forgiveness #patience #singleasianmale 

#215 (turkey day)

My 2nd thanksgiving at my new to me house was not unlike what I did for my first thanksgiving – I spent most of the time in the kitchen. Last year it was my my son and his girlfriend. This year it was with S, her kids, and her mother (and her mother’s dog). 

I made my traditional thanksgiving spread. Turkey, spiral ham, stuffing, green bean casserole, candied yams, giblet gravy, fluffy biscuits. 

My first spiral ham on the Traeger…

I had originally planned to warm the spiral ham in the oven. But I couldn’t get both the turkey and the ham to fit properly. So I decided the ham was going in the Traeger. 

Since the ham was precooked, it just needed to be warmed to the appropriate internal temperature of 120 degrees. 

I started warming my precooked sprial ham on my Traeger. I set at the lowest smoke setting at 225 degrees until it reached the targeted internal temperature. 

Once the desired internal temperature was reached I added my glaze. It came out better than I expected. I think I’ll keep that recipe. 

My traditional baked turkey…

Next on the list was my turkey. I decided to bake the turkey in my oven instead of the Traeger. It came out okay, but think it would have been better on the Traeger. 

For the past several Thanksgiving dinners, I baked my turkey using a locally pressed olive oil. Fortunate for me, there is a local olive oil farm who always have their first pressings around thanksgiving day. 

I think my turkey came out as it normally does, but I don’t think S and her kids liked it. It’s okay though. I’ll make turkey pot pie or something else with the left overs. 

Giblet gravy and other fixings…

I also made giblet gravy from scratch the first time this year using the drippings from the turkey, some flour, and of course giblets (meat from the neck bones and the turkey gizzards). S was a fan. S was also a fan of my stuffing, which I also make from scratch (butter, celery, onions, and crumbled dried seasoned bread). 

The other side dishes (green bean casserole, candied yams, and layered biscuits) were not favored by S. Her mother loved everything, and her kids loved the biscuits. But the other two sides were hardly touched. Again it’s okay as I love left over thanksgiving dinner. 

Now my mother raised me to be thankful of what I have and be thankful for those who made the meal. S confessed she was a bit disappointed as I didn’t make mashed potatoes. Apparently that’s a traditional side dish at their family thanksgiving dinner. 

Don’t complain if you didn’t place your order…

I had asked many weeks prior if they had something special or traditional she wanted me to make. She knew what was on my list of dishes and no requests were received. Instead I get, “make your traditional meal.” 

“Are you sure there’s nothing special?” I had asked several times before the turkey day approached. 

“Nope! I’m sure it’s all going to be great!” S would respond. 

“So being disappointed is your fault.”  I wanted to say to her. But of course I didn’t. 

Something to ponder…

Imagine that someone planned out the menu, bought the food, slaved over a hot stove / grill, and you have the audacity to complain. Especially when all you did was show up at my house and eat. 

She didn’t even offer to help with the dishes, seemed a little bothered that the food wasn’t all done when she arrived, and commented that the tablescspe wasn’t up to par based on the pictures she saw of my last year’s holiday party. And to top it off, she knew I was coming off a 2+ week upper respiratory infection. 

“Wow!” I’m really seeing a selfish side that I don’t like. I feel it’s becoming one sided. I think I need to rethink this relationship. 

#singleasianmale #thanksgiving #turkeyday #leftovers

#206 (turmeric tea)

Last year when I was sick, one of my work colleagues (Chad) hinted that I should try turmeric next time I’m sick. Last week my typical upper respiratory infection returned which is usually when the weather changes from fall to winter and again during the change from spring to summer. 

Allergies is a strong probability…

Since I’m not familiar with this spice, I did some research. I knew it’s a spice in most Indian dishes but didn’t know of its healing properties. It’s interesting to know the different uses. 

In my research, I did find a recipe for turmeric tea made with ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and honey. 

Simmer the spices…

I used the long method of the directions which called for simmering the spices in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. The aroma smelled good and wasn’t that foreign to me. 

I was expecting it to have a stronger fragrance than what it did. 

After 15 minutes of simmering, the directions called for straining the blended concoction. It took longer than expected to strain the liquid through a strainer, but after about 5 minutes of draining I got my tea. 

The directions calls to add honey and milk to taste. Like most Asians, I’m lactose intolerant so my choice of milk is soy. I am also a big proponent of consuming local honey and not the honey you find in your grocery store that was processed thousands of miles away. I mean raw honey from a local honey producer. 

The instructions didn’t specify the amount of honey so I used my normal amount I put in my tea. I typically don’t add milk unless it’s in a latte so played that by ear as well. 

Not too bad…

I thought the turmeric would be stronger but it was quite pleasant. The next time I think I’ll warm the milk. 

#singleasianmale #turmeric #healthybody #healthyfoods #menshealth #life