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December 2007

Jasmine Bistro

We had lunch today at Jasmine Bistro in the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon. It is the sister restaurant to Jasmine Seafood Restaurant
the  best Dim Sum place in town.
It has been a while since I've been to Jasmine Bistro and have I been missing out.
A couple of Lions? greet you street side,


then a nice calming water feature at the entrance.


We ordered hot Jasmine tea. Can you read tea leaves? If it's bad news don't tell me. ;-)


Stan ordered the Sweet & Spicy Chicken. It's "chicken breast sautéed with Jasmine's spices and a sweet and spicy sauce." For the spicy dishes you can specify the degree of spiciness. The waiter asked Stan on a scale of one to ten how spicy he wanted it. Stan asked for a spicy level of five, he wanted to play it safe not knowing if their idea of spicy is the same as ours. He said next time he's going to kick it up a notch. I hope they have a standard by which they go, it could get pretty adventurous if each cook has his own idea of what's spicy. This dish was a real pleasure. The chicken had a little crunch when bit into and the sauce was the perfect balance of sweet and spice. There was what we determined a very thinly sliced spicy cucumber in the sauce. I'd love to find out what they are, I can think of a number of things I could use them in. It was sprinkled with sesame seeds. A definite order again. Stan had fried rice with his and for a non rice eater he really liked it. 


I ordered the Thai Steak..."tender juicy beefsteak cubes marinated, seared and sautéed with fragrant Thai herbs, garlic and chili sauce." Tender and juicy is an understatement regarding this dish. The meat was beefy and juicy. I can't determine what spices were used but not one was overpowering, they all blended very well and lingered in the mouth a while. The vegetables were just perfect, not over cooked. I had the steamed rice with my meal. The sauce was very interesting and not like anything I've ever had. I tried to get more information from them but all I could get out of them was garlic and lemongrass. So now I know the sauce has chili sauce and garlic and lemongrass, heavy on the garlic which was not unpleasant at all.


Sigh....a thing of beauty.


I had a glass of Ravenswood Vintors Blend Zinfandel a "full bodied wine with a robust supple mouth feel and ripe strawberry finish."  I could do more of this.

I they just opened up a sushi bar in August. I was tempted but will try it next time. If it's any thing like their Dim Sum and the rest of the menu it's got to be excellent. There were a lot of people eating the sushi.


When seated you are handed the Bistro menu, a Dim Sum menu and a Sushi menu.

The only negative comments I have are that Stan's meal came out a good 5 minutes before mine and I had to ask again for my glass of wine. Irritants but not enough to keep me away as long as it doesn't happen frequently.

Jasmine Bistro

Caterings and take-outs

315 Parkway Plaza Mall El Cajon

Happy Thanksgiving

Last year we weren't sure we'd have another Thanksgiving with St. Robert. We call him St. Robert because he's been married to my sister for almost 40 years. Two years ago he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. This past July 5th he received a lung transplant at Stanford University Hospital.


Sometimes we feel helpless as to how we can help with finding the cure for diseases. Besides our money we can donate computer processing time so that important research can be done.
I first heard about folding@home from my daughter and son in law, they run it on their Sony Playstation 3®

This is copied from the folding@home web site.

"Folding@home is a distributed computing project -- people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer takes the project closer to our goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.

What have we done so far?
We have had several successes. You can read about them on our Science page, on our Awards page, or go directly to our Results page."

I'm donating time on my desktop computer. I'm not using it while I'm at work and I work from my laptop most of the time anyway.

We gathered at Margie and Robert's home. This is where we traditionally have Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.
Margie set up a crafts table for the children off to the side of the living room, there they could play and occupy themselves.


Cool looking race car, good job!


The sideboard and dessert table. Annie was thrilled with the good deal she got on the pumpkin soup tureen at Harry and David. It was on sale and with the coupon she had it was only $14.00.  She made the most delicious pumpkin soup to go in it.


Annie is our dessert queen and sets up the nicest dessert displays.


She made squirrel cookies and look, they are holding nuts. How cute is that.


Pumpkin cheesecake.


I made a Goat Cheese Torte the cranberry sauces and the salad. The goat cheese torte is everyone's favorite. As you can see I need a lot of help with layering. Heck, it doesn't last long enough to notice anyway.


Snacking before dinner.


Watching Paul's racing video.


ooohhhh!!! that's good.


Busy prepping.


Steve's mashed potatoes were done so he and Brenda kept us company as we were finishing up our dishes.


Margie doesn't cook, she really doesn't cook. She says she's in charge of the ambiance. I'd say she does a good job of it.



Time to be seated for dinner.


Come on, lets get seated, what's the holdup.


For what we are about to eat, let us be truly thankful.


Fresh blueberries off the salad make great eyeballs.


No,no,no,no. Great Uncle Mike tries to steal some blueberries.


Sat around the fire letting dinner settle before we ate some dessert.


Every Thanksgiving we can all be together is the best one yet.


Testing one two three, and burned biscuits

I discovered that Microsoft Office 2007 has a blog feature. This is a great way to blog for someone who is on dial up, or for people like me who need to go back to school and take English Composition 101.

This is a test post so who knows what'll happen.

So, what photo to add to a test blog, how about the burned biscuits from Thanksgiving Day dinner?
Mike brought the biscuits and they were doomed from the beginning. First they were put on a cookie sheet and precariously placed on top of the upper oven awaiting their turn. When Annie opened the upper oven door they came crashing down and landed upside down all over the kitchen floor. We invoked the 5 second rule and three women were scrambling around on the floor picked them up as fast as they could while counting out the 5 seconds, one thousand one, one thousand two, etc….I was up to my elbows in lettuce and laughing so hard I couldn't get a picture. But I did get a picture of the biscuits that once they made it into the oven were forgotten, until smoke came pouring out and the smoke alarm went off.

Who said too many cooks spoil the stew. Or should that be too many mimosa's burn the biscuits.

November Birthdays

This past Sunday we celebrated the Families November birthdays at All Italia where we had St. Robert's birthday party.
When we arrived we joined my brothers Mike and Mark (on the right) on the patio awaiting the arrival of the rest of our party.


Family started showing up.


The owners of All Italiana have always been very accommodating to our large, sometimes….o.k. most times boisterous party. They set a nice comfortable table for us,


and we assembled around the table.


One of the birthday boys guys Jeff


Playing peek-a-boo.


Too much talking and not enough deciding what to eat.


Next time you see him it will probably be at the Barona race track.


Time to start eating. The special comes with both soup and an antipasti salad.


I had the spinach lasagna. This is the best meal I've had there. They use fresh spinach and they didn't scrimp on it. I couldn't get a photo of it without the flash that's why the photo is so crummy. Something I'll have to work on.


Of course we had wine with dinner.


Yippiee!!!!! time for birthday cake.


Darn that looks good. Isn't it time to cut the cake yet?


Just too tempting.


Robert makes everyone their own personal birthday cake. Wait!!! I thought it was the dad's birthdays


Just what we need, more sugar.


Everyone knows that while sipping an espresso after dinner it's pinkies up ;-)


I'd say a good time was had by all.

Cranberry Relish with a kick

I took a spicy cranberry relish to the Thanksgiving party at work. This has been a family favorite for years.

The spice of Jalapeño jelly and the herbs rosemary and thyme are used.


The cranberries are simmered with water, orange juice and the zest of one orange.


The cranberries are divided in half. To one half the Jalapeño jelly and herbs are added. 


To the other half the orange segments are added.


Tah..dah...One pot, two delicious cranberry dishes.

@@@@@ Now You're Cooking! Export Format

Cranberry Orange Relish


1  pound fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1  orange, zested
4  oranges, segmented, pith and membranes removed
1 cup seven-pepper jelly I use Jalapeño jelly
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a simmer. Add the
cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest. Stir until sugar is
dissolved and the cranberries begin to pop, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Divide relish in half, reserving half. Add orange
segments to half of the cranberries. Stir to combine.
Add pepper jelly and fresh herbs to the remaining half. Stir to
combine. Serve relishes in separate dishes.

Yield: 4 cups

Preparation Time:  0:30

** Exported from Now You're Cooking! v5.77 **

I'm kicking myself for not documenting where I got this recipe. I'm usually pretty good about that.

Tequila And Lime Cured Gravlax

I made this for the Thanksgiving party we had at work today. The first time I had this was at a cookin' a few years ago with some of the participants from the newsgroup This is one of the signature dishes of Terry Squeaks Pulliam Burd.

I started Sunday evening with the dry cure.


I don't have a jelly roll pan like the recipe suggests so I used this little square one with one and a half inch sides. It worked very well.


Salmon tucked away in the dry cure


The pieces of plastic wrap that I lined the pan with weren't long enough to completely wrap the salmon and the rub securely. So I gingerly with help, lifted the salmon out of the pan and put in one of these plastic bags I bought at Daiso. I love these bags and I use them a lot.


The recipe says to place another pan on top and place 5 lbs of cans or other heavy weights on top. I don't use a lot of canned goods so I was bereft of something to weight it down with. I thought I'd use my good ol' Molcajete for this. The shelves in my refrigerator are too close together and not adjustable so this just didn't work.


After scrounging around I found the weights I needed.


After day one I needed to get the wet cure ready.


I placed the salmon in the wet cure along with some of the dry cure saved from day one.


Unveiled on day four. It was a big hit at the party and I only had this little piece left. That's because this is the piece I didn't take to the party.


Slice thin and serve on crackers. I prefer mine without crackers.


Tequila And Lime Cured Gravlax

appetizers, seafood

      ----For the dry cure: ----
1 1/2 pounds side of salmon (sushi grade)
  unsliced, skin on
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
3 cups light brown sugar
      ----For the liquid cure----
1/2 cup tequila
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  zest of 1 lemon -- colored part of; peel - only
  zest of 1 orange -- colored part of; peel - only
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
3 sprigs fresh dill -- with stems
3 sprigs fresh mint -- with stems
3 sprigs fresh basil -- with stems

Day One - The Dry Cure: Mix the salt and sugar together and reserve
1/3 of it for Day Two. Next to the salmon, place a plastic-wrapped
jelly roll pan and, forming a bed 1/4' thick along the length and
width of the salmon, spread the cure. Turn the salmon over and lay it
flesh side down on the cure. Scatter leftover cure along the sides and
ends of the fish, and then pull the plastic up so it wraps around the
fish securely and will capture extruding juices. Place a board or
another pan on the fish and set 5 pounds of cans or other heavy
objects on the board to weigh down the salmon. Refrigerate for 24
Day Two - The Liquid Cure: Pour the tequila and the lime juice into a
bowl and stir in the zests. Place the coriander seeds in a plastic
bag, lay it on your work surface, and crush the seeds with a rolling
pin or the bottom of a heavy pan; pour them into the bowl, then chop
the herbs roughly and stir them in. Pour the tequila marinade into a
second plastic-lined jelly roll pan, spreading the zests and herbs out
so they are evenly distributed on what will be the length and width of
the fish. Sprinkle the reserved dry cure over the liquid, again
reserving a bit for the ends and sides. Remove the salmon from the
refrigerator and lay it flesh side down on top of the cure, scattering
the dry ingredients along the sides and ends of the fish. Wrap the
plastic around it, replace the board and weights, and refrigerate for
at least another two days and up to four.
Slice the salmon into thin, long, wide, handsome pieces, using smooth,
long strokes with your very sharp, long knife, and that you leave the
skin on the cutting board. Cut only as much as you plan to eat. Store
the salmon in its cure, but it need not be kept weighted down. Cured
salmon will keep for at least 10 days in the refrigerator.

NOTES : From the cookbook,_ In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs_,
this makes a spectacular appearance and tastes even better than it
Recipe By     : Monique Barbeau
Serving Size  : 25   Preparation Time :0:00

Contributor:  Squeaks on rfc

Alex's Brown Bag

We were finally able to get to Alex's Brown Bag. This was the second stop in my quest for a great Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich in San Diego.


We ordered the Original Philadelphia Cheese Steak which had fried onions, mushrooms, green bell peppers and mozzarella cheese, the taste was right in there. The bread was very very good, not too chewy and didn't fall apart. Stan commented several times on how much he liked the bread. We both thought the meat was good and beefy tasting.

Notice the steam coming off the meat, and the texture of the bread. There is a lot of meat on that sandwich and some good stringy cheese. (pssst, I would have liked a little more cheese on mine)


We also had an Italian salad that was chock full of meats and cheeses, olives, tomatoes, etc..... It was huge. Nice crisp crunchy greens and the Italian dressing was very good.


We had a very pleasant experience, it's a casual and friendly place. Orders are placed at the counter and the food is delivered to you.



This was Stan's favorite Philly Cheese Steak sandwich so far. I've found that I prefer the "wetter" style of sandwich. Too bad they are closed on weekends, this limits our opportunities to try the rest of the menu, but we'll find a way to get back there somehow.

Cucumber Sauce

I bought some beautiful Persian cucumbers today, just perfect for cucumber salad. Then I remembered that Nick, a participant on a cooking group I participate in, had mentioned in one of his posts a sauce, like the one I'm posting, but made with soy sauce and fish sauce and topped with fresh cilantro.

I used his wife's cucumber sauce recipe and added 2 tsp of soy sauce and 8 shakes of fish sauce. Pretty danged good. I don't have any fresh cilantro so I crushed a couple of coriander seeds and added them.  I was tempted to add some fresh dill or basil. 


That's some pretty potent stuff.


I had that with some cold salmon and cold chicken for a snack tonight.


Thanks to Nick for being so generous in sharing his wife's recipes with us. Here's Nick's wife's recipe

Thai Cucumber Sauce (Nam Jim Tang Quai)
Nam Jim Tang Quai I for fish cakes
1 lb cucumbers
2 serrano chiles
1/2 medium onion
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Peel the cukes and slice them crosswise into 1/8th " slices. Remove
the stems but not the seeds from the chiles and slice them into rings.
Peel the onion and remove the root part and slice into thin vertical
Combine all mixing 'til the sugar is dissolved.
Use within 2 hours.
Note: If allowed to stand longer that 2 hours the cukes will start to
become soggy.

The standard has been set for biscuits and gravy

On our way to town this morning we stopped by Ray's Bitchen Kitchen to reserve a whole smoked chicken to be picked up later on our way home. In my conversation with Ray I told him we were going to go out for some biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Boy!! his eyes lit up and he fixed us a little bowl of his biscuits and gravy to sample.  We ate it on our way to town. Stan said, now this is what I've been talking about, he must have said that at least three times. I was driving and he was spoon feeding me, I felt like a little baby bird. More than once I had to tell him to put a little more gravy on that biscuit.

Later when we picked up the chicken I wanted to buy some gravy for Stan to have for breakfast tomorrow morning, but all he had left was about half a serving so he gave it to me, What a guy!!!. I plated it with one of the biscuits he gave me so I could get a photo of it. Honest, I didn't eat it, Stan will get it with his eggs in the morning.


Look at all that good sausage in there, excellent. The consistency and flavor are perfect and there is no flour taste or residue. Stan says this will be hard to beat.


We went ahead and had some biscuits and gravy at Bonnie's Cafe anyway. I wanted to taste them one right after the other. There is just no comparison, the photos will tell you that.


We've always had great food at Bonnie's. It's a great diner and I can get my favorite breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs over easy.


Stan doesn't like runny eggs, he likes his eggs cremated so he usually orders them scrambled.Today he decided to order them fried over hard. He got what he asked for Blech!!! but the rest was good.


I'm hoping I'll get a little bite of Stan's breakfast tomorrow morning. Heck, I'm cooking it, that's a given.


Todai for lunch

Today's plans were originally for Stan, daughter Vicky and I to go to Alex's Brown Bag for Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. This will be my second place to visit in my quest for a really good Philly Cheesesteak in San Diego. I didn't know that they are closed on weekends so daughter Vicky and I decided we wanted to go to Todai instead. Stan is not a big fan of Asian food so he begged off, but he will be going with me to Alex's on Monday.
Vicky has never been to Todai, I think everyone should experience it at least once. We started on the salad sushi side and worked our way back to the dessert buffet. I had some sushi, a green tea noodle salad that was made with some spinach and radicchio, it was fabulous. I also had the green bean salad which is one of my favorites. I tried a tofu salad, even though I like tofu it was not something I'd do again. It  was topped with what tasted like some kind of dried shredded fish, I wish I knew what it was, I really liked it.


I didn't take good notes today so I'm not sure what sushi is what. I do know it was all delicious and fresh.


I then had some miso soup, two different types of delicious shrimp, tempura vegetables that were not overcooked, they still had a bite to them. The spicy fried calamari could have been a little spicier and the squid rings were very good but bordered on a little chewy. Ah, BBQ rib was juicy and tender and the BBQ sauce was not too sweet. I also had a green mussel topped with a light cheese sauce, delicious.


Thankfully they serve delectable little bites of desserts, that way  you can have a nice variety of treats.


We decided we prefer sitting at a sushi bar for our sushi, but we enjoyed our meal immensely. I'll be more diligent next time with my food notes so I can give a better description of the flavors, but it all was delicious, and you can't beat that.