Tag Archives: family

Craves and Savors From The Original Pantry Cafe

9 Jun

pantrycafe

Who loves breakfast? I do! And so do a set of four year old twins that already know what their cravings are in the mornings. My bf, his sister, brother in-law, the kiddies and I went to The Original Pantry Cafe in Los Angeles for breakfast and there was a line that almost wrapped around the building, it was so long. It’s safe to assume that every one waiting to eat also loves breakfast, and they all must also love The Original Pantry. While waiting to get in the door, I hear Evita say, “I want pokey eggs” (eggs sunny-side up, that you can poke and the yoke runs out) and DeAngelo say, “I want pancakes.” After the wait, we all wanted anything and everything on the menu! We finally made our decisions, and ordered. My cravings for coffee, apple juice, two eggs over easy, breakfast potatoes, and French toast overpowered the other cravings, but having an option for a combination of three items and two beverages also helped. Those potatoes are honestly the best breakfast potatoes ever! I think I know why so many people were lined up out front. The French toast with maple syrup was also savory, but nothing was savored more than the time spent with the people I shared breakfast with. What’s not to love about a delicious breakfast when we’re with people we love?

Savoring Sobriety

18 May

tenyearcake

What does May 18th mark for some one who is addicted to alcohol and substances? For my bf, it marks his ten year anniversary of being sober. We call it his birthday because prior this date ten years ago, during his battles with alcohol and substance abuse, he believed he was not really living at all. Some people may not understand what it’s like to be, be with, or even know, an alcoholic or addict, while other may know what’s it’s like all too well.

Alcohol and substances effect all walks of life, and while every one’s story is different, there can be certain aspects of these stories that sound eerily similar to one another. My bf’s story started out with drinking and abusing drugs at a very early age, getting three DUI’s before age 21 (the legal drinking age) and several visits to the Emergency Room, one of which left him in a coma for a week. One would think any one of those instances would be a wake up call, but for an alcoholic or addict, it’s not as easy as it seems to stop drinking or using as it may be for some one who isn’t afflicted with this disease or predisposition. Thank goodness for his family members (and especially his sister Evy), who made a final intervention and ultimatum to either get clean or get out of their lives as the life he was leading was headed in one of two directions, jail or an early grave. His mother could never get a good night’s sleep, as she thought she would one day get that call that her son was either dead or had killed some one. As the family and/or loved ones of some one is going down a path of destruction, we too have to make hard decisions of being an enabler or not. That ultimatum is what lead him to Las Encinas Rehab, which taught him the tools he needed to get and also remain clean and sober, which ultimately saved his life. While he considers himself one of the lucky ones, he also knows it doesn’t just take luck. He takes his sobriety one day at a time, waking up, thanking God for another day or being alive, and not taking anything for granted.

My bf describes himself during those “dark years” as a “shell of himself,” with no morals, no values, or without ambition to live. While I didn’t know him during the the time before his sobriety, I know that time is a big part of what makes him who he is today, one of the best persons I know, the man I love and who I can’t imagine my life without. Although every day can be considered a day to savor and celebrate his sobriety, I am so proud him and happy that we can celebrate this special milestone of his tenth birthday together.

(Amazing Banana Creme Cake Courtesy of my bf’s sister Evy, so gooooood!)

My Favorite Person, My Mommy

12 May

meandmom

meandmom2

Who is my favorite person in life? My dearest Mommy, who I love with my all my heart. Every one’s story starts with our mothers, and my story started with a compassionate and loving mother, who always put her children’s well-being before her own. With unconditional love and lifetime of sacrifices, she was able to instill values and a belief system that has allowed me see the best in people and always keep in mind the importance of family. She also been such a supportive force, allowing me to believe that I can achieve anything and to believe that the sky is the limit. I owe so much to my Mommy, and can’t express how appreciative I am to have her as my mother. She is my best friend, the best person I know, and she means the absolute world to me. To an incredible person and some one I owe everything to, I wish my Mommy the happiest Mother’s Day.

Rave Worthy Birthday Party

11 May

twins

What do you need to throw a rave worthy birthday party for a set of four-year-old twins? Today we hosted that party for my bf’s niece and nephew, Evita and DeAngelo, and it was a huge success. Everything that was included in the party was a perfect recipe for a great event, leading to happy guests and happy twins.

birthdayparty

An awesome theme. Check.

giftsandfood

Birthday Boy. Check. Birthday Girl. Check. Gifts. Check. Great Food. Check. (King Taco of Pasadena’s Food Truck was a huge hit!)

jumpie

A jumpy. Check.

deangelocake

evitacake

bdaycake

Birthday cakes, cupcakes, and goodie bags. Check.

piratesandmermaids

Entertainment for children: A mermaid who can sing, do a magic show, and face paint; and a pirate who can lead a treasure hunt, engage the children in games, and tell jokes. Check

cakepops

Cakepops and chocolate covered fruit (all made by a family friend). Check.

poolparty

Perfect, warm weather, and a pool (with a lifeguard of course). Check.

makeawish

A happy birthday boy and girl surrounded by friends and family, with warm wishes and birthday kisses. Check.

We are Family, I Got All My Sisters With Me

10 May

family

girlsinPI

Aren’t girlfriends the sisters that we choose? After a fun-filled vacation with my girlfriends and our family members, I felt extremely grateful of all of the people in my life and all of the time I was able to savor with what I think of as my extended family. My girlfriends are like my sisters, and their family members, I also consider my family members as well. Although a few of my sisters were missing from the trip, I know they were there in spirit. On our, what seemed like a very short, trip together, we were able to eat, shop, and talk together. We shared rooms, stories, and experiences of a lifetime. We participated in water sports, laid out on the beach, enjoyed happy hour at sunset, walked around Boracay’s Zone One, and sang karaoke until we were falling asleep from exhaustion. No matter what the activity, the most important part of it all was the love we felt for one another and the simple joy of being together. Despite everything that we’ve been through with one another though out the years, we have always found time and ways to make each other feel important and despite the amount of time between seeing one another, we have always picked up where we left off.

Craves and Savors from the Philippines

5 May

filipino food

aristocrat

What’s better than satisfying genuine Filipino food cravings in the Philippines? Sharing the experience with family and friends. While staying the Manila, I was able to visit my family members who I hadn’t seen for a long time, and some members who I had never even met before. Despite the distance, how well I knew my relatives, or how well they knew me, they made me feel right at home as gracious and generous hosts. One thing about Filipinos is they love it when their guests eat, and I was happy to oblige as the food continued to be placed in front of me. Filipino food has been a long awaited craving that I rarely get to satisfy, and every meal was ready and waiting, and offered with lots of love. A typical Filipino meal that I enjoyed was white rice with egg, fish, and sliced tomato in soy sauce or vinegar. Every means was also accompanied with delicious fruit like papayas, pomelos, yellow mangos, bananas, or watermelon. My uncle even took me to Jonas for dinner, where I had mami (noodle soup) and was happy to indulge my cravings of leche flan and banana bread. I loved being able to spend time with my family members before I met up with my friends and their family members, for more time spent savoring the company of loved ones, and eating more Filipino food. For lunch at Aristocrat I satisfied more Flipino food cravings: Palabok (a signature Filipino noodle dish), Pinakbet, (a signature Filipino vegetable dish), Puto (a Filipino delicacy), Garlic Rice, and I washed everything down with Buko (young coconut water). Having lunch with friends in another country, enjoying our time together in the Philippines and sharing our experiences with one another is something that should never be taken for granted. Also, being in a city of a third world country, where poverty is apparent on every block, is a truly humbling experience. Everything that I’ve eaten and enjoyed is just that much more savored and appreciated, as not every one has the luxury of constant and steady meals. Everything so far craved and Savored have been accompanied with feelings of being very blessed and thankful for all that I have in my life, and every one in it.

Easter Craves & Savors

31 Mar

laquinta

What is Easter without loved ones? The last four Easter weekends were spent in Palm Dessert with my bf’s family, including my bf’s mom, aunt, sister, brother in-law and adorable niece and nephew. The last three Easters we participated in La Quinta Resort and Club’s Easter festivities, which include an Easter egg hunt, face painting, jumpers, performances, Easter bunny photos, and more. All of the children at the event are entertained for hours, and it’s great for families. All of the children, and adults can also indulge in the popcorn, sno-kones, and cotton candy that are offered to all attendees. We always have a great time, especially because we know the twins always have a great time.

easterplatters

My bf’s mom makes sure that there is never shortage of food, and she is an amazing chef. All weekend long, and also on most holidays, we are spoiled with food that will likely lead to regular cravings. In addition to the food platters comprised of seafood cocktail, crackers, cheese, and fruit from Bristol Farms, she cooked lobster, wild rice, and a vegetable medley with cheese that is unbelievable. Every meal is like a feast.

pooltwins

The best part of the weekend; however, is the time we are able to spend with one another. From Friday night, sitting and talking at the Patio table, to eating together and bonding, to enjoying time with the twins and marveling at how much they have grown, there is never a dull moment, since all of these moments are colored with love. While doing common things like sitting on the couch watching television together while eating berry sorbet and some not so common things like watching my bf throw up in the air two three year olds while playing in the pool, all of these things will become lasting memories to be appreciated and oh so savored.

Easter Brunch Cravings at bluEmber

31 Mar

bluember

When we’re craving so many things for Easter brunch, what’s better than a buffet? After Easter Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Rancho Mirage, by bf and I headed to meet the rest of his family for brunch at blueEmber in the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa. For the first time ever, we had to listen to the sermon outside though a doorway since the church was at maximum capacity. There were over 300 people in the church lobby alone. We had direct access to hear the mass from one of the back doors, but all of that standing in the dessert sun really built up an appetite. Luckily, we had reservations for a brunch buffet and big-time cravers, such as myself, were able to eat as much as our hearts desired.

The seafood station was filled with pacific coast oysters, snow crab legs, crab claws, mussels, poached shrimp, and a selection of smoked salmon. The salad station offered heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella, pesto bordeaux spinach, shaved radish, dates, grilled green beans, cous cous, grilled artichokes, olive tapenade, tabbouleh, chopped parsley, cucumber, truffled mushroom, grilled asparagus, baby swiss chard beets, pickled carrots, walnut brittle, blue cheese, chilled seafood, shaved fennel, picholine olives, assorted greens, artisan cheeses, and a variety of vegetables and dressings. The soup station had clam chowder and smoked chicken soup with small bread bowls, and the carving station had a chef slicing pork steamship and beef wellington. There was a station of hot items, including farmers market roasted vegetables, organic squash, short rib hash, roasted potatoes, crab cake benedict, brick oven chicken, pan roasted barramundi, grilled ratatouille, and hedgehog mushrooms. All children ages 5 and under (which applied to the twins) ate free, and there was a children’s buffet with mini pizzas, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken tenders, lasagna, and local vegetables. There was also an omelet station, where chefs made custom omelets with an assortment of vegetables, meats, and cheeses. There was plenty of fruit, and the dessert station was out of control! On display were french belgium waffles, seasonal berries, cafe tiramisu, cheesecake, apple tart, white chocolate mouse, mini french pastries, creme brulee, panna cotta, rasberry and chocolate cake, chocolate pralines, chocolate truffles, mini hot cross buns, and chocolate covered strawberries.

The bluEmber Brunch buffet had a great variety, and since the weather was beautiful, dining on the patio was that much more enjoyable. Not to mention, the resort is beautiful and offered an Easter egg hunt for the children (which was the 3rd egg hunt this weekend for the twins). For family fun in the sun, the desert rarely lacks in sunshine and it’s resorts always cater to families so like this weekend, the fun never ends.

Craving Khan Toke Thai House

24 Mar

khan toke

khan toke2

khan toke3

khan toke 3

khan toke 5

Since when did San Francisco streets get so busy to the point where it takes half an hour to find parking on Geary Blvd? I’ve been asking every one who lives in the City who still lives here because I either forgot how long it takes to get somewhere or find parking, I’m overly optimistic in what can be done in a certain amount of time, or SF has become increasingly more crowded and congested. Maybe it’s a combination of all three… I made reservations at 7pm at Khan Toke Thai House, one of my favorite Thai restaurants of all time. My brother introduced me to this authentic Thai restaurant years ago, where the ambiance and service is as memorable as the food. Like most every other plan I made this weekend, I make a time recommendation and I’m the one who ends up running late. I called to push the dinner reservations I had with my family to 730pm, but by the time I finally parked and walked in the door, it was 8pm. Luckily, the restaurant wasn’t packed and reservations were probably not necessary. Not very many people know about this somewhat hidden gem; from the outside, Khan Toke doesn’t really look like much. As soon as we walk in, the decor and set up makes us feel like we’re in a home. An attendant, dressed in traditional Thai attire (just as all of the serving staff), at the door takes our shoes (so it’s best to wear socks) and we’re shown to our table in one of the several sections of the restaurant . The tables are low to the floor and it appears as though we’re all sitting on the floor, but there is a space cut out underneath the table for normal, comfortable seating.

I was craving a Thai tea, which I drank almost all of before dinner came. My mom, dad, brother, nephew, and I ordered family style, although with not every one had everything due to dietary restrictions and food allergies. We started off with the Sa-Te: beef and chicken charbroiled skewers served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, Paw Pear Tod: deep-fried spring rolls stuffed with tofu, silver noodles, and vegetables served with sweet and sour sauce, Tom Yum: Spicy and sour lemongrass soup with mushrooms, tomatoes, cilantro and tofu Som Tum: shredded green papaya salad with carrots, tomatoes, green beans and ground peanuts, and Young Lady Salad: Green salad with grilled tender beef mixed in lime dressing, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes. For the main course, we had the Mus-A-Mun: Beef in red curry, peanuts, onions, sweet potatoes and coconut milk, Gaeng Ga Ree: Yellow-curry, sweet potatoes, vegetables, tofu, and coconut milk, Broccoli Gra Tiam: Broccoli sauteed with fresh garlic sauce, Pad Siew: Wide rice noodles sauteed in a dark soy with broccoli and egg, Pad Thai: stir-fried rice stick noodles with ground peanuts, tofu, bean sprouts, egg, and prawns, and side orders of brown rice. For dessert we had the Mango with Sticky Rice.

The food at Kahn Toke never fails to please and was just as good as I remembered it. That sentiment was validated when my 10- year-old nephew, whose severe food allergies (to fish and nuts to name a few) has lead him to become somewhat of a finicky eater, commented on how much he enjoyed his dinner. I guess driving around for parking on Geary Blvd was all worth it, but I guess the optimism should remain focused on cravings satisfaction and not really on any parking gods to bestow divine intervention on saving on lot fees (or prevention from walking several blocks in the chilly nights of San Francisco to pay those fees…. if, and only if, you actually made it to an open lot).

I Died and Went to Tamale Heaven

23 Dec

tamaleheaven

Have you ever had homemade tamales? It only takes the entire day to make, but it’s absolutely worth the time and wait. I’m here in Palm Springs, where my boyfriend and I usually spend part of the holidays with his family. Everyone participated in the preparation and joined the assembly line of making tamales con carne (beef), tamales con queso (cheese), and tamales dulces (sweet). Tamales are ojas (corn husks) filled with different ingredients: the tamales con carne are filled with masa, seasoned beef, green peppers, papas (potatoes), and olives; the tamales con queso with masa, Monterey Jack Cheese, and green peppers; and the tamales dulces with sweet masa (masa mixed with sugar and raisins) and pineapple.
They are so delicious, I must have had half a dozen of the cheese tamales and half a dozen of the sweet tamales (so far). I made sure I worked out before dinner, so I didn’t feel entirely guilty. I get to indulge in this craving once a year, so I had to take advantage of this opportunity to get my fill. Tamales are a traditional Mexican cuisine, and its not only a treat to eat, it’s so much fun to make. The amount of time and man power (actually, woman power) that it takes to prepare and cook tamales makes for a quality bonding experience, filled with Christmas carols, laughter, and 3 year old twins (boy and girl) dancing to Justin Beiber’s “Baby.” Making and eating tamales are one of my favorite times of the year, a time to crave and savor.