Vacations are Awesome

I huge apology to those that have been devastated by my virtual absence! The first week of January, I pledged to myself that I would post at least weekly with an update on my gold for the year. I’ve failed miserably. Here I am, finding myself looking at a calendar to accurately find out what week of the year it is. Its week 17. That’s 11 weeks of tardiness. I didn’t think it was that bad. I do have an excuse though!

I’ve been on vacation….for 3 weeks.  It was a much needed WONDERFUL vacation!!  Multi-destination and 2/3 child free! Let me briefly walk you through our timeline: March 29th, 11am: our flight takes off from JFK destined for Seattle, WA.  A quick traditional meal at Red Robin in South-center with my parents takes place.  We then make the 45 minute trek to Chateau Le’ Broun.  A quaint bed and breakfast type home that I grew up in.  (Although it was hardly quaint when I lived there…more like woods and animals.) We arrive around 8:00pm.  Erin’s bed time, but she remembers the tradition: Scream “Kitty” at the top of her lungs upon entering the door when seeing the cat waiting for the calm quiet adults to come home.  Then chase so-called “kitty” through the house and discover the large stuffed animals and HUGE amount of space to play.  All the while her parents are trying to calm her down and get her to bed.

March 30th, 4:30am:

I sneak into Erin’s room and place a kiss on her soft cheek, whisper words of love in her Asia Trip 030 ear and tiptoe back out.  Ping and I head to the airport to catch an early morning flight to China.  13 hours later, we arrive in Suzhou, China.  Home of my in-laws.  We enjoy Easter dinner in Shanghai with family friends and settle in for the night at Palace Lee.  (It’s not really a palace, but it was a nice apartment! Best shower ever!)

Our time in China consisted of sightseeing Suzhou- a beautiful Asia Trip 282place! And a high speed train trip to Beijing where Ping learned that there is such a thing as “too many Asians.”

April 6th, afternoon:

My mother-in-law, Ping and I arrive in Taipei, Taiwan.  I am stunned at how old the city looks, but how clean it smells and feels compared to mainland China.  I will forever be impressed by Taiwan and will daily miss and crave the food!  I lost weight in China.  The food was good, but I didn’t eat much.  I began craving American food in Beijing.  When I got to Taiwan, all I wanted was a large cheeseburger.  But instead, we met my mother-in-law’s family for dinner and my cravings of ground beef sandwiched in between two slices of bread were forever taken away by the sweet, delicate, rich, flavorful taste of Taiwanese cuisine!  The food was so good, I gained the weight I lost the week prior back….and then some.  Ping’s cousin opened my senses to the beauty of Tamsui, sour plum juice, seafood that never tasted so good, noodles that were the best of the best (and cost the least of the least).  I dream nightly of this food….it was that good.

April 10th:

Ping’s parents, Ping and I board another high speed train to the center of Taiwan to T’aichung. Just an hour away in the mountains, resides a lake….Sun Moon Lake.  A place Asia Trip 1022of quietness, beauty and rich in Taiwanese tribal culture.  I wish we had more time to spend here.  Just one night did not give me enough time to really soak up this experience. I will be back though.

April 12th 6:30am:

Ping and I find ourselves in a car on the way to the airport.  We are headed back to the states.  Was I ready?  No.  Was my heart ready to see Erin?  THAT was overdue!  It was so good to see my baby when we arrived!  I truly missed her!

We then spent the week in Seattle before returning home. It’s always nice to have time with family and friends.  We celebrated Erin’s 2nd birthday while there and enjoyed witnessing the marriage of two close friends.

Some of you are thinking, well Tricia, that was only 3 weeks.  What about the other 8 weeks you’ve been absent…hmmmm????  I’ll share that tomorrow.

Wrong Potatoes!

I haven’t screwed up my cooking in a while. That’s probably because I haven’t cooked really in 3 weeks. I’ve been out of the country and on vacation. Its been fun getting back in my kitchen. The first night cooking, I noticed it was way too dark in there. I looked up and realized I only had one light bulb out of three working! A trip to the store and a handy hubyy got that fixed in time for my next “Oh Crap! Cooking” adventure.

Here are my excuses and I feel they are legit. I caught my daughter’s nasty cold towards the end of our trip and my left year was still plugged from the plane when I went shopping on Monday. I’m coughing and sneezing constantly with a 2 year old in tow who MUST inspect all our food before it officially goes in the cart behind her.

With that said,I had made my list. I put all the ingredients down that I needed. I even used the recipe card to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I get to the store and start my shopping. Carrots, celery, corn, cantaloupe, milk, strawberries, spinach, olives, cheese, broccoli….each item was crossed off the list as it was placed (read chucked by my toddler) in the cart. That was Monday morning.

red potatoes

Red potatoes

Wednesday evening, 5pm. I struggle to get a 2 yr old out of the park to get home and start cooking dinner. We get home, she insists we open the package waiting for us. Good thing we did, it had a new toy in there to keep her busy! I then reach in the fridge and grab the ingredients for my Corn Chowder. It’s only then do I realize that I got the wrong potatoes!

sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

I purchased sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes. How could I miss this!?! They look completely different and aren’t even next to each other at our market! Gah! Well, I guess this will be one for my next “Oh Crap! Cooking” post.

I cut two sweet potatoes into chunks, add the other ingredients and start cooking. An hour later, dinner is ready and my family and I are ready to consume.

The verdict: it was great! I actually didn’t notice much difference except the soup tasted a little sweeter and was less starchy. It added color to the dish as well. I think I might do this again…..on purpose this time. So, here is the recipe for my Corn Chowder. And remember, you can use red OR sweet potatoes!

2 cups peeled and diced potatoes. (I don’t peel them because I like the skins.)

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1-11oz can creamed corn

1-15 oz can whole kernel corn (you can use fresh corn too, just not frozen unless you thaw it first and take out the water)

1-12 oz can evaporated milk

1/8t cayenne pepper. (I used just ground black pepper since some of us don’t like it so spicy.) it still has a bit of a kick to it

1/4t salt. I don’t use salt either. I actually don’t use it in any of my cooking.

In a large pot over medium heat, place potatoes, celery and onion with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain.

Return vegetables to pot with creamed corn, corn, evaporated milk, pepper and salt. Simmer 20 minutes.

Serve. May add garlic ans cheese to taste. I add minced garlic when I add the corn.maybe just one clove. I love adding the cheese at the end.

Enjoy!
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