Monday, February 29, 2016

instant pot-head

people, THIS IS NOT A DRILL:  we are in the final week of cookie season at last!  i don't know why, but this year it seems to be dragging like crazy.  six weeks of having cookies in the house and in the car and everywhere in between just feels like for-freaking-ever.  i cannot wait till it's finally over.

in the meantime, meals have been one hell of a challenge.  we've been doing so much eating out, it's kind of ridiculous.  but with the bean having reached her goal of selling 500 boxes of those cookies, we managed to enjoy a handful of home-cooked meals last week.  it was really nice, and i'm excited to get back to it.  of course, those meals were mostly done with the help of my new friend, the instant pot.  i used the delayed start function a couple of times and it really was magical:


oh - and i tried making steel cut oatmeal in there too.  the recipe had me using the sauté function to toast the oats and some shredded coconut first.  it made the kitchen smell so good.


then i added some water, brown sugar, a little salt, some cinnamon and the key ingredient - coconut milk.  once it came up to pressure, it cooked for just a couple of minutes and then the machine switched to the "keep warm" setting while the pressure was released over a period of about ten minutes.  see, the actual cooking time is pretty short - but it does take a few minutes for the pressure to build up and then it's best to allow it to be released slowly and naturally.  so i'm not really sure if it's a particular time saver, but it is a lot faster to make a lot of things vs. leaving it for 8+ hours in a crock pot.

anyway, i dished up some of that oatmeal into my favorite bowl, topped it with a little more coconut milk and toasted coconut, and voila:


during one of my trips to the japanese supermarket, i also remembered to visit their hawaiian foods section and picked up a package of red sea salt.  i wanted to give the kalua pig recipe another try with the actual listed ingredients to see if it really made a difference.


i'm happy to report that it did just that.  i used real bacon instead of the pancetta i'd had on hand last time, sprinkled the meat with the red sea salt, and added a dash of liquid smoke.  we skipped the cabbage this time and just ate it with plain white rice, and it was so much more flavorful this time around.


and then one night, i decided to try a pot roast.  i perused a few different recipes and ended up kind of winging it using a packaged seasoning mix i found in the pantry.  this was one of the delayed start dinners, so it cooked under pressure for 70 minutes while the bean was at her dance class doubleheader.  i totally forgot about making gravy, but it turned out so perfectly it wasn't even a big deal.


i think i might try a whole chicken in the instant pot at some point this week, and there's a recipe for carnitas i've been eyeing.  woohoo!!

exciting stuff at the house of wan these days, lemme tell ya.

Friday, February 26, 2016

it's like coming home

after we were done horsing around, we took advantage of a day off from cookie boothing and headed down to the 'land after almost a month's absence.  as silly as it sounds, we were really feeling withdrawal pains from not being in the happiest place on earth for so long.  despite the fact that it was a sunday and we wouldn't be able to stay for a long time, we were really excited to get back to it.


being a weekend and a day that was open to all levels of annual passes for admission, it was pretty crowded.  and it was really warm.  we settled for just strolling along, peoplewatching and grabbing a fastpass for the indiana jones ride.  and then we splurged and picked up some new ears to wear around the park.  disney is doing a "share your ears" promo right now - if you take a picture of your mickey/minnie ears and post it on social media with the hashtag #shareyourears, they'll donate $5 to the make a wish foundation.


we browsed in all of our favorite shops, and this caught my eye - it would make such a fun, easy yoda cookie:


one of my favorite snacks at disneyland is a very simple one - their popcorn is the best.  always perfectly seasoned and freshly popped because they must go through tons of it every day.


and then for dinner, we went to the bean's favorite spot - the plaza inn.  she adores their fried chicken, and i decided to grab a turkey leg from a nearby kiosk to enjoy.


our passes expire in may, which we're already dreading, and so with cookie season close to an end we're making plans to come back as much as we possibly can before then.  and we managed to score seats at an annual passholder exclusive sneak preview screening of "zootopia" on sunday.  i cannot wait.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

horsing around

one of the bean's friends invited her to join her and a couple of friends to go horseback riding to celebrate her birthday, which included parents as well.  she was super stoked, because that's been one of the things she's been dying to do (again).  i, on the other hand...well, i was rather torn between anxious and excited, with a slight emphasis on freaked out.  the last time i was on a horse, i was about 12.  we were up in big bear for a family vacay and for some reason, my not-typically-very-adventurous mom thought it would be a great idea to give it a try.  i was fine with it until my horse decided to stray from the pack and went up ahead of the rest of the group.  of course, she knew the route really well, but my 12-year-old self had no idea and freaked out all the way till we finally got back to the ranch.  traumatized for life, yo.

so we got up bright and early on sunday morning and drove the short distance to a local equestrian center buried up in a residential area that i'd never even knew was there.  first order of business - filling out the waivers that signed away our lives.  since the old lady is now of age, she gets to sign her own forms.


then there was a little time for horsing around (har har har) until our rides were ready to be mounted.



we were given a brief overview while our guide went over our forms to make sure all the Is were dotted and Ts were crossed.  and then in what seemed like no time flat, this became my view:



thanks to the other moms present, i have some other fun shots to share, like this one:


i watched as the old lady got on her horse, sweet old chubby max.


the bean was so excited to meet her friend for the next hour, sunny.


we look ready to ride, yes?


the hour went by fairly quickly.  i spent a lot of time chatting to my horse, freckles, because for some reason i thought maybe that would help her get to know my voice and feel comfy with me.  maybe it was really more the other way around.  i don't know.  but it was an easy, pleasant ride on a trail that was also pretty popular with bicyclists and runners.  and then it was over.

by the way, watching a horse pee is just as amusing as watching him poop.


after saying goodbye to our friends, we made a beeline for the local IHOP for some grub.


okay, so i'll just say it - horseback riding is definitely not my jam.  it's a'ight, but really not my thing.  and so if the bean gets future invitations for such outings, i'll likely just sit and wait around while i sip on a starbucks or something equally basic.  but i'll still bust out my shitkicker boots, just because.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

fabulous day date

life has been so incredibly hectic over the last month or so, even more than usual.  i think i've dropped the words "fucking cookie season" more times than i care to admit.  and the hub, whose life is always super busy between his day job and the lounge, is just crazy like always.  as a result, we hadn't spent any decent amount of time together in at least a solid week - not since the wedding on valentine's day.

the other day, he found himself with a calendar that was shockingly wide open.  no conference calls, no meetings, no lunch appointments - nothing.  and with the bean having hit her cookie sales goal at last, i was in a great position to spend almost the entire day catching up with my husband.  and so after a leisurely morning at home, we hopped into the car and drove down to the beach.

we ended up in laguna - at the surf and sand hotel for a great view and some lunch.




not a bad view for a monday lunch date, wouldn't you say?


we ate at splashes, the restaurant at the hotel.  neither of us had been here in years - not since i worked at the commercial real estate office where we first met.  the food was delicious, starting off with perfectly chewy wedges of bread and tapenade.


i was amused when my lobster bisque arrived - the bowl was empty aside from the little clump of lobster:


and then the server took a little silver pitcher and poured in the actual soup.


my flatbread had braised short rib, caramelized onions and bbq sauce.  so good.


and although the dessert menu looked promising:

we took a quick selfie before heading out to drive the coast a little.


after walking off our lunch strolling around fashion island, looking at watches and shoes and all sorts of other fun stuff, we made one last stop for dessert.


best monday i've spent in a very, very long time.  i love my husband so much.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

turning japanese

our girl scout service unit celebrated world thinking day this past weekend.  unlike last year, when we were but wee daisy scouts who could simply attend and take in all of the fun, we had to sign up and run a booth where we represented a country of our choosing.  in typical wan and her co-leader fashion, we ran behind on registering and took the first easy-ish country...japan.

we spent the week scrambling to get our shit together - craft, snacks, display board.  it was fast and furious, and we planned our weekly meeting around teaching the girls a little bit about our country so that they'd be somewhat prepared for the event the following morning.  since the bean had a half day at school, we headed out to pasadena to deliver a few cookie orders we'd gotten and stopped in at a new spot for lunch:


seems fitting, right?  i mean, what better way to kick off thinking day than to enjoy some delicious ramen?  the last few times we'd passed this place, there was a line out the door.  luckily, we'd timed it so that we practically got seated the moment we stepped inside.




although whenever we're in pasadena, the bean wants poke.  and so while the old lady and i perused the menu, she happily arranged her meal so that it was just the way she likes it and dug in.


she is definitely her father's child, with how she has to organize everything just so.  sheesh.

we both went with the koku tonkotsu with extra chashu, and it arrived hot and steaming and fragrant in no time.



it was so good, you guys.  we both wanted more as soon as our bowls were empty, which didn't take long since we were so hungry.


but the coconut silky flan with matcha cream had caught our eye on the menu, and so we decided to give it a shot.


it was really delicious and light, and i was surprised that the old lady liked it so much since she's not so much a fan of coconut, flan, or anything remotely milky.  but we all loved it, and now i can't wait to go back.

the meeting with the girls went really well that evening.  the old lady helped me in prepping our swaps for the next day's event - mini "rice bowls" with safety pins attached so that the girls could wear them on their sashes or whatever.  they turned out really cute, we thought:



meanwhile, my co-leader was going over the display board with the girls.


after they learned to do some origami with the old lady, they gathered on the floor and played a quick game while they waited for everyone to finish their activities.  we had a little bit of discussion about cookies, talked about what we wanted to do with our earnings, and then i handed out some snacks:


the next morning, we were up bright and early to get our table set up and ready for 150+ girl scouts to visit us.



the best part of thinking day booths is the snacks, of course.



one of the dads stayed for the event and took the girls five at a time around to experience all of the other countries.  such a lifesaver, since we needed to hang out at the table and make sure our girls were doing their jobs.  the bean came back and happily showed off her snacks, swaps and treasure map prizes.



i managed to grab some bratwurst and sauerkraut from the germany table, and it was delicious.


we'd had our official troop portraits taken, but i had to get in at least one selfie.


and then we capped off the long day with a four-hour booth at walmart, where the girls managed to pull off another 100+ box day.


we may have been exhausted and over it all by that point, but i'm already thinking about which country we should pick for next year.  preferably a fun one where we can have the girls dress up in costumes.  we'll be much better about planning and preparing well in advance next time.  at least, i hope so.
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