Mardi Gras Texas Style

It’s that time of year!  I know there are many carnival style celebrations in different places. Mardi Gras of course is famous in New Orleans, the Texas version is in Galveston.  I have been exploring some of the food and activities around this celebration.  My daughter went to Galveston with friends to experience the party, parades, dancing, and lots of people!  I decided to stay home and watch the Rockets.  So when I woke up I thought about beignets. Beignets are New Orleans French donuts.  When I went to New Orleans, I remember having them served in a paper bag. There was so much powder sugar on them that it gets all over you.  They are really light and fluffy.  We went to a restaurant near us here that had them and they are different than the New Orleans style.  Not as messy.  It satisfied the craving, however they weren’t the same. These were served with a caramel sauce and had more of a crust than I remember, the inside was light and fluffy.  But of course I wouldn’t have been able to see a crust on the ones from New Orleans because of all of the powder sugar!

beignets

Fat Tuesday is coming up, and since I don’t have time to get creative on Tuesday with dinner, I decided to try tonight.  My son has never had étouffée.  This is a dish that has crawfish or shrimp with sauce served with rice.  It’s roux based which is made by whisking butter and flour together until it turns brown (how did anyone think to mix butter and flour together until it turns that color I will never know).  It has onions, celery and green pepper in it with a bunch of spices.  It turned out pretty good.  You serve it with hot sauce if you like.

etouffe

Here is a note about hot sauce.  It is interesting that people from different places have their hot sauce preference.  My daughter prefers Cholula.  I would think most people from New Orleans would prefer Tabasco.  Cholula is imported from Mexico and Tabasco, the brand McIlhenny Co.  is from Louisiana.  I did a little searching and found that the ingredients are the same except for the pepper. Cholula uses pequin and arbol peppers. Tabasco, which apparently has a history of origin in Mexico is named after the state in Mexico.  The peppers all look different. When you visit another state, they probably have their local preference of hot sauce on the table.  (So my daughter carries her own).  That is some serious preference!

hotsauce

 

Mardi Gras Texas Style

Long Ride Prep

Almost 60 days until the 150 mile ride from Houston to Austin!  Team Wood Group requires everyone take the Group Riding Skills class.  It took a little over 3 hours for the class.  (They did feed you). It was about 2 hours in a classroom setting at the Wood Group campus and 1 hour in the parking garage on your bike.

About 20 people showed up and there are currently 47 on the team.  It’s weird to me that the 3 women there including me at the class are the only on the team.  Whenever you do an event like a triathlon or something like this, the more information the better!   For instance on the triathlon you could not draft which is to be within 3 bike lengths from the person ahead of you, on this ride it’s ok.  However, they advised not to align your front wheel side by side with the back wheel of the person in front.  This is kind of the blind spot effect in that any sudden change with the person in front of you will cause you to crash. Most of the two hours were tips like this.  So now I know the lingo and the etiquette.

The one thing that stood out on the garage portion of the class is how to use your front brakes in an emergency stop so that you don’t flip over the handle bars.  I actually saw a guy flip over his handle bars in a group ride doing exactly that, going down a hill and using his front brakes only (@ Critical Mass Houston).   I thought there is no way with clip in shoes will I be able to hang my butt off my seat and jump off the back after braking like the instructor suggested.  If you do plan to use your front breaks only, you can at least transfer your weight back so that you don’t flip  (probably more useful on a mountain bike without clip in shoes).

The instructor went over all of the things you need on your bike for a long ride.  I have pretty much everything and just ordered a Camelbak Rogue hydration pack.  I knew about these from spectating motorcycle enduros back in the day.  These packs are fancy now! You can carry the rest of the stuff you need that doesn’t fit (like sunscreen) with you plus 2 liters of water.

I didn’t get the detailed information on what to pack for overnight camp I wanted but the puzzle is starting to come together.  Hopefully the last purchase will be a pack-able cot.  Mine is so old and bulky.  I want sleek, easy to carry and setup. I have had bad experiences on air mattresses and besides you will be relying on generators which I am not bringing and don’t plan to use. There were no real details on leaving from the Wood Group instead of Rhodes stadium either.  The instructor asked some people about how fast they ride.  Thank goodness most ride 14-18 miles an hour.  So I can keep up with them for the 9 miles it will take to join the rest of the 13,000 people !

kestrel

Long Ride Prep

Happy Valentine’s Day

What comes to mind for me when I think of Valentine’s Day is dinner, chocolates in a heart shaped box and flowers!  And when I was a kid the little valentine cards we would bring for our class mates.  I think it is a sweet gesture to say something kind to your classmates especially when  you are really young.  Going out to dinner is crazy now a days. Most places are packed with a long wait unless you have made reservations well in advance.

Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year.  It’s definitely a night in for us.  So I decided to decorate the table.   The family noticed right away and while it’s not the decor I would like all year, it is fun to have it for a couple of days.  It was cheap too  (and maybe a little cheesy).  I think they like the little extra sparkle that comes around this day and definitely the chocolates!  Although my daughter says, “that is so extra”. And yes, it’s extra special for you 🙂

valentines-day

Looking through Pinterest I found some cute heart shaped meals.  We did a heart shaped pizza last year.  I like to try different things.  Chocolate covered strawberries will be for dessert!

I decided to do a little adult craft while looking for heart shaped cookie cutters, I saw a bunch of corks in my drawer.  I’m certainly not great at crafts and probably spent too much time messing with this today when I had so much to do.  But oh well, sometimes you have to bring the creative out.

cork-heart2

If you love your family by cooking for them, then maybe you can appreciate this plan.  We are starting the day with heart shaped cinnamon rolls and red sprinkles!  For my daughter she will get her belated Valentine’s breakfast tomorrow.  Fried heart egg (using a heart shaped cookie cutter for the yolk).  For dinner, pasta carbonara for the boys with salad, heart shaped garlic rolls (using frozen dough) and salad with heart shaped cucumbers.  My daughter and I will have salmon salad.   And to start the day each of the kiddos get a box of assorted chocolates with a special Valentine’s day note.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I read the history, one story is that St. Valentine performed wedding ceremonies for soldiers during a time that was forbidden for soldiers to marry.  St. Valentine is said to be a Christian and healed children.   True or not, I’m thankful for the celebration of love.  ❤

Happy Valentine’s Day

Superbowl LI H-TOWN

It is such an honor for Houston to host the Superbowl this year. Even though neither one of the Texas teams made it, the experience of having the event in town is quite amazing regardless.   We are not Falcon or Patriot fans.  The activities are around the George R Brown convention center which is next to Minute Maid Park.  NRG stadium, where the game will be played, is a distance away from the activity.  I’m always amazed at how many people can park and get into this area in the 4th largest city in the USA.  It took us about 45 minutes at least to get in and thankfully we bought the NFL Experience ticket online because they were sold out.  There was a long line for security check.  Discovery Green is right in front of the convention center with plenty more going on accessible for free.

superbowl

The NFL experience had a series of activities you could do.  There was a 40 yard dash, passing targets, kicking targets (punts and scaled down field goals).  There was autographing from varies players, viewing of the Lombardi trophy, displays of Super Bowl rings, plenty of photo opportunities like a 3-d life size player for every team that you can climb up and stick your head in.  There was a stage setup as NFL draft day where you can stand on the stage holding up the jersey for your team!  They had mock up news rooms where you could take pics as if you were reporting live in the studio or at the game.  There was a kid zone, with a football field for the kids to play on complete with stands.  They had a referee area demoing what they do on instant replay.  They had virtual reality, and just so many things.  dash

Outside is Discovery Green, here there was a concert and Fox Sports setup, more stuff to see…even an ice skating rink!  All things NFL are pricey.  The NFL experience cost $40 a ticket, I was able to get in free and also got parking for free, it’s $20 at least to park. All of the sites outside were free and there were so many people there.  Elton John slipped in the back of the Marriott Marque (right in front of us!!!)

I’m really glad we went.  If your city is hosting the Super Bowl, that is special!  There is no way we would pay the game ticket price to be there live, so like the majority we will be having our Super Bowl spread at home and watching the game on TV.  I baked a chocolate cake that I cut in the shape of a football.  Had to freeze it so that I can frost it.  Then our main dish is a stadium snack tray…idea from Pinterest of course!!

I made this cake twice, once was a disaster with an 8inch pan the second time with 9 inch was better using a template (instructions online).  Let me just say chocolate cake is the HARDEST thing to frost.  It takes so much patience!

football

I also saw so many snack tray ideas.  When we do snack trays they are so boring.  For Super Bowl we wanted to do something special!  This is the outcome…. Lots of work but my son really liked it so that is worth it!

snacktray

Superbowl LI H-TOWN