Sushi (not a recipe or how-to guide)

We love sushi. I’m going to stop right here and address the members of my family who read my blog. No. Sushi is not RAW FISH! You may choose to put raw fish in your sushi rolls, but the word sushi does not mean  you are eating raw fish.

Okay. Now that we have that out of the way, I’m also going to say that I’m not posting a recipe today. We are novices at best and I think there are too many good sushi makers with How-To information on their websites for Nathan and I to add in our two-cents.

I will tell you our list of ingredients. Since this was the first time we had ever made sushi, we kept it simple.

  • Sushi Rice and Seaweed Wrappers
  • Cooked Shrimp
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Sliced Jalapenos
  • Green Onions
  • Mayo and Red Chile Sauce mixed together
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Cream Cheese
  • Wasabi Paste
  • Soy Sauce

Before I continue, I must digress. When I got home from my wine-drinking trip to Texas, I headed out to Angee’s house to try our hand at sushi. First, I spent more than an hour at our local Asian Market trying to find all the ingredients and accessories we would need. Frustration does not begin to describe my time at the Asian Market. I didn’t know enough about what I was getting to navigate the packages and foreign languages. I’ve since found that our regular grocery store had exactly what we needed!

So, I went to Angee’s house where we proceeded to make sushi and destroy her kitchen. We approached sushi preparation that day similar to a couple of teenagers making a grilled cheese sandwich after school.  It tasted gross. We threw it all in the trash and vowed to buy sushi from here on out.

The next day the Spring Break Winter Storm blew into Oklahoma and Nathan and I were faced with a long Saturday trapped inside. Nathan also likes to show Angee and I who’s boss from time to time. So, he decided to make sushi and I was his assistant. He wouldn’t listen to anything I told him since he knew the sushi I had made with Angee ended up in the garbage.

Nathan approached making sushi like a fine artist. He had organization, focus, technique and pretty much all the things Angee and I were lacking when we tried to make sushi. I’m not sure he had as much fun or as much wine as we did, but whatever.

It worked. The result was delicious. I can’t say it was the best sushi I’ve ever had, but it was pretty great. We have big plans for another sushi-making day with some different varieties.

I do have a couple of words of advice for anyone who makes sushi at home. First, focus on the rice. If the rice isn’t good, then your sushi won’t be good. Second, do all the prep work ahead of time. Get the ingredients ready and when you are ready to make your rolls, it’s a lot easier to put together.

Here are some websites you might find helpful if you decide to make sushi. Angee and I will not be posting a How-To Make Sushi Podcast anytime soon and we are OKAY with that.

Wine, wine, wine (Spring Break is over Whine)

Spring Break is ending. Instead of throwing myself on the floor and sobbing hysterically like I want to do – I’m reflecting on the past week. It started with a Scentsy party with great friends. I love this picture because everyone is smiling. Looks like someone in the room said something funny.

A few days after the party, I packed my bags and headed off to Odessa, Texas. Yes, Odessa is a very popular Spring Break destination – haven’t you heard? Actually, my friends Brent and Tina now live in Odessa and I decided to go visit them for a couple of days.

Here’s what I know about Odessa:

  • Brent and Tina live there with their super cute son Rip.
  • It’s seven hours from where I live – ugh.
  • There is a Mexican restaurant there that used to be a Chinese Restaurant. It is decorated with an amazing mix of sombreros and Chinese dragons.
  • Tina’s parents own and operate a store called Homemade Wines of Odessa.

Brent actually works for his father-in-law at the wine store. I took about a thousand pictures of the wine store and asked Brent about a million questions about making wine. When I started to write captions for the photos I took, I realized that I don’t know much about making wine, but I sure do appreciate the process. It is very interesting and it’s fun to see it all come together. It’s even more fun to drink the fruits of your labor.

So, here is a pictorial of my two days in Odessa at the wine store. My apologies, to Brent and his father-in-law John, if I don’t have a lot of technical information to go along with the pictures.

First, while I was there, I saw a lot of “transferring” and “filtering”.  One of the things that really impressed me is that the customers who come into the store can see their wine being made. It’s a very open concept which is very cool.

In this photo, Brent is probably trying to tell me something very technical about the wine-making process. I was probably saying something very profound like … “the wine smells really great” or “have you ever spilled one of these big buckets of wine?”

I did learn that the French word for FILTER is TAMPON. That’s all I have to say about that.

I was fascinated by the filtering process. There is pressure and water and tubes running here and there.

Filtering the wine also means you are really close to bottling the wine. I call this the bottle tree. I’m not sure what it is really called. I spent a lot time with the bottles as it took no training for handling the bottles.

Then the cork …

Then the bottles set on these big magnets for 30 minutes. It has something to do with ions, but I won’t begin to try to explain it here.

Then we added the labels and the seal. They even have custom labels. I brought a few bottles back home for Angee and Keely. For Keely’s bottle, Brent added a label that says “Keely’s Back Pain Elixer” because I told him she had been struggling with a hurt back for a while. So, Keely, if you are reading this, I have a bottle of great wine for you!

Finally, it was time to place the wine on the shelves and it’s ready for customers.

If you ever get the chance to go to Homemade Wines of Odessa, be sure and ask Brent to play you a tune on the piano!

I really had a great time learning about the wine and getting to see first-hand how it is made. The thing that really stood out to me is that this wine is truly a hand-made product. While my photos make it look simple, there are a lot of steps and it isn’t a simple process. There is also a lot of variety in this wine store — plenty of choices for those who like sweet wines or dry wines, red or white. Also, as someone who has a sensitivity to sulfites in wine, these wines have very little and so I don’t have any reaction when I drink it.

I hope you enjoyed the photos from my trip and now I’m off to drink a glass of wine and whine about my Spring Break coming to an end.

The past few weeks…

I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks.

I’ve learned that a dozen cupcakes are too many cupcakes for one birthday boy. I’ve also learned that cupcakes come in many different shapes and sizes.

Our good friends Chris and Elesha came for a visit and we shared some great Greek food, some great wine and many laughs. I realized just how much I miss hanging out with them.

Sunday brunch with the girls is something I look forward to all month.

Mamosas, good conversations, laughs … I’ve learned that I don’t just enjoy seeing my best girls … I NEED to see them. It’s good for my soul.

I’ve learned to eat more vegetables. And, I’ve learned to drink more water.

I also learned that when I buy groceries, I need to stand close enough to young guy ringing up my items that he can hear me name all the veggies for him. When we brought this artichoke down his line, he had no clue what it was.

I’ve learned that fresh vegetables are so much better in the summer.

Nathan has started his summer veggies and I can’t wait!

I’ve learned a little more about man’s best friend.

Sadie hasn’t been well. Facing the fact that she is getting old, hasn’t been easy. I still think of her as a puppy, but she is an old lady now.

I’ve learned there is a line of amplifiers that have the word BOOGIE on them. Seriously.

I think this is one of the most appropriate names ever. I’ve decided that all amplifiers should make such promises.

The last thing I’ve learned is something I never suspected. Look closely. Can you see it?

It’s so unexpected.

My husband has a Babyface Tremolo Lovepedal! Don’t think I didn’t make fun of him about this for hours.  I’m so impressed with guitar pedals. I want to collect them all — especially the ones that say things like Babyface and Lovepedal. I will take one in each color please. I don’t really know much about what these do, but they sound good to me — both figuratively and literally.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s fun to take photos and leave them on your camera for a couple of weeks. When you look back at them, it’s fun to see what caught your eye and what you may have learned.