social distance diaries: days 268-274

a day late because Sunday was a DAY

Day 268, Monday

Back to work so I recorded a “study with me” work from home video :). It’s chatty in the middle, because this was entirely unplanned, but I might make some no talking videos in future.

Day 269, Tuesday

Because I was inspired by yesterday’s video, I recorded a “day in the life” vlog. I briefly considered trying Vlogmas this year, but I really didn’t need another daily project while editing and working…

Day 270, Wednesday

MRI done and, since I was in the area, I popped into my local(ish) Asian market to treat myself to all kinds of stuff (only two of which I was actually there for)… It’s like a Target run, but tastier.

Since, I was on a roll… I recorded a haul 🙂

Day 271, Thursday

Woke up at 2am in a panic because something was obviously burning in the area and the smell of smoke filled my bedroom. Searched all over and woke up my BF just so I could be sure it wasn’t the office downstairs that was on fire.
It was not.
But, yikes, was that scary. My heart goes out to all the folks on the West Coast who lived through the recent fire season. It’s terrifying! Of course, the smell and interrupted sleep triggered a migraine and I was still experiencing side effects from the MRI. Not a fun day. Ended up needing to call it quits when my dizziness made it impossible to work.

Day 272, Friday

Back to the lab to drop off my mom’s specimen (see vlog for first lab visit). We will speak of it no more.

I was craving Argentinian croissants (media lunas) and fries, so I indulged in both (separately, of course). Unlike a French croissant, Argentinian croissants have a sweet glaze and what I suspect might be cream (perhaps cheese?) in the dough.

Day 273, Saturday

In an unexpected turn of events, I slept in until nearly 9am, something I haven’t done in ages. Somehow, the cats’ meowing wasn’t enough to drag me out of bed. I suspect I needed it after so many days of migraine.

Did some writing and started the de-cluterring project that I’ve been putting off for months. First to go: all the bras that don’t fit the way they should. I am OVER uncomfortable bras.

Day 274, Sunday

No extra sleep today. I woke up in the middle of a weird nightmare and was too rattled to get back to sleep. Early start to my writing session and a bit more decluttering. I might document some of it, but so far I’ve cleared out paper clutter, an old toaster, and some perfumes that I’m giving to my mom to rehome. My old vacuum will be going with them and the bras I culled yesterday.

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off the shelf: Danielle Walker’s Celebrations

celebrationsbook_zpsevsvpinjAgainst all Grain is my grain-free bible. Of all the paleo/grain-free/gluten-free/Whole30-esque cookbooks I’ve read, Danielle’s has been the best resource for home-style, every day recipes that I a) want to eat and b) can actually make (skill and ingredient-wise). When I learned that she was publishing a book of holiday menus and recipes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Celebrations is a beautiful, inspiring collection of recipes for a delicious, grain-free holiday. The book is divided into holidays and features a full menu (including drinks, desserts, entrees, appetizers, and sides) for each event. Some of these include specialty flours, but these are regularly available at Whole Foods and similar markets. I’ve already marked my holiday menu and can’t wait to try the Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes. 🙂

I received my copy of Celebrations from Blogging for Books.

Pin it, do it challenge update

I never did get around to checking in when I made the leaf silhouette, so here are the results from the first pin it challenge.


I bought two shades of blue green for the first layer of paint and a spray paint called “Sweet Cream” to offset the silhouettes. Then I raided the boy’s neighborhood for some large leaves. The result looks a bit like giant raindrops, which wasn’t quite what I was going for, but was nice for a first try. Next time, I’ll search for non-tropical plants.

For today’s challenge, I decided to make the Healthy Pumpkin Muffins from No Sugar Sweet Life. It’s a low fat, low sugar recipe that involves lots of whole ingredients. It was very easy to prepare the mix, almost like a banana bread. I did, however, have to go a ways away to find some of the ingredients that are not readily available at my local grocery store, but I always do enjoy a trip to Whole Foods :).




Go here for my original pin it, do it challenge post. Or go here to learn more about the Pinterest Challenge.

G. In the Kitchen – The Boozy British Trifle


It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe post, but this one was a special request that turned out better than I had imagined, so I just have to share. Last weekend, I made Nigella Lawson’s Boozy British Trifle, a drunkenly masterful concoction full of creamy, fruity, sherry goodness. I made it for a rather silly reason–a cook-off between me, the boy, and his friends to celebrate the Hell’s Kitchen season finale with British themed eats. Dessert seemed like a good idea at the time and the boys claimed trifle is Gordon Ramsay’s favorite dessert (this is part of their Hell’s Kitchen/MasterChef mental database of useless knowledge). So I scoured the internet for a good, authentic recipe and settled on this one, as posted on Dash Recipes.

The trifle in all its boozy glory!

Other than a couple of substitutions–1/2 tsp dried orange peel for fresh orange zest and almonds for the pistachios and candied roses, I followed the recipe to the letter and produced a trifle and a half. Mostly because my trifle bowl was not as ginormous as the one pictured on the site, so I had enough leftover to make a smallish trifle as a tester. It was delicious!

Overall, this is a simple, easy to make recipe that can produce an amazing looking dessert, but you need to be aware that you need to refrigerate it for at least 12 hours before pouring on the final, whipped cream layer. 2 days is best (really, it makes a big difference as far as flavor). I used a nice cream sherry for the wine base and it went very well with the mild cream layers and the sweet fruits. This is a time-consuming dessert, but well worth the effort if you plan it out well and use good ingredients. For the cake, I recommend a drier sort of vanilla pound cake, rather than a butter loaf, as it will absorb the alcohol and juices better than a moist cake.

And, yes, I won the contest… although I think the boys were just too scared not to give it to me after I told them how long it took me to make this thing.


playing hostess

Had to play hostess today during one of our library events and got to exercise some of my event planner type skills. The event centered on a visit from the Deputy Consul from Argentina, so I had to develop an Argentinean theme for the treats to be served. Some quick research and trips to various stores and Hispanic shops turned up the perfect mix of quick, affordable bites.

Went with a blue and white theme for the tableware to coordinate with Argentina’s flag.

Martin Fierros – Manchego cheese (I used sharp white cheddar to stay within our library event budget) and quince jelly. Similar to the Cuban timba (white cheese and guava paste). A tasty, sweet and savory mix.

Medialunas (croissants) and Dulce de Leche (similar to caramel but creamier)

Sausages! Argentina loves beef!


Overall, the treats were a huge success, as was the event 🙂

a classic treat

I’ve been meaning to make rice pudding for ages. It’s one of those desserts I used to come home to after school when I was a kid, but it’s been years since my gran has made it. I decided to try my hand at it at last, modifying a basic recipe downloaded from the Mahatma rice site and making it my own with plenty of rum-soaked raisins and a touch of cinnamon (lovely, lovely cinnamon from Penzey’s Spices courtesy of Auntie Em).

Creamy goodness awaits…. but *shhh* the b-chan doesn’t know.

I’ve had a long week, but this makes it all worth it.

Recipe: Garlic Parmesan Croutons

My mom was about to throw away nearly an entire loaf of Italian bread, which I thought was quite a shame… so I decided to make a batch of croutons instead :). I looked up a basic how-to and added some of my favorite flavors to the mix. They turned out great! And made the house smell deliciously of pizza when they were in the oven.

Gricel’s Garlic Parmesan Croutons

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  • 4 slices stale, Italian style bread
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • 1-2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or any other light oil)


Preheat oven to 325°F.

  1. Slice the bread into even-sized cubes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oil, spices, and parmesan cheese.
  3. Toss the bread to coat with the oil mixture. Try to coat all the pieces.
  4. On an ungreased baking pan or sheet, spread the bread pieces in a single layer (don’t crowd the pieces).
  5. Bake at 325°F for 10-15 minutes (depending on how toasty you like your croutons), turning the pieces about halfway through the baking time.

I also made more Dulce de Coco because it was such a hit with the family :).

Recipe: Dulce de Coco

I really do. Thanks to my grandpa and his friend, we have a lovely bunch of green coconuts to enjoy. So while the coconut water flows, we have an abundance of fresh coconut meat… I already made a batch of macaroons, but I wanted to try something different with some of the grated coconut. I thought there must be some way to make something similar to rice pudding but with coconut, but my searches turned up very few recipes that made use of fresh coconut rather than dried. Then, a stroke of genius… I decided to search in Spanish. After all, the best coconut deserts I’ve had are all Hispanic. Voila! I found the just what I was looking for on a forum for a Dominican recipe site: Dulce de Coco. A tasty treat, similar to rice pudding, but featuring delectable coconut goodness.

I adapted the recipe to suit my needs and it turned out wonderfully sweet and full of coconut flavor. A great treat if you have some fresh coconut.

Dulce de Coco

Adapted by Gricel from La Cocina de la Tía Clara, Cocina Dominicana

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  • 3 cups of 2% milk
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups fresh, grated coconut (I’m sure unsweetened baking coconut also works)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • ¼ cup raisins (optional)


Mix the milk, coconut, sugar, cinnamon stick, and raisins (optional) in a medium pan, on low heat.

Stir occasionally to keep the coconut from sticking to the bottom and burning.

Allow to boil until the mixture thickens, the consistency should be similar to rice pudding.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. It will thicken further as it cools.

Note on the cooking time: I set it on medium-low heat for a little over an hour and a half. The original recipe said it would take 25 minutes, but I halved the recipe and it still took more than twice as long before it reached the desired consistency.

Recipes: Apple Cinnamon Banana Bread

I had a pair of over ripe bananas and decided to make some banana bread so I wouldn’t have to toss them. I used my go-to banana bread recipe, the one I have modified over time, and I added some cinnamon and apple chunks for variety. I realized that though I’ve blogged about this bread before, I’ve never actually posted the recipe… shame on me. So here it is in a handy, printable PDF with all my modifications and additions: Gricel’s go-to banana bread recipe

It’s been a hit every time I’ve made it, but I really think the apples and cinnamon made it extra special this time around. Plus, I finally got to try the mini-loaf pan my mom got me a few months ago 🙂

Apple Cinnamon Banana Bread

Recipes: Orange Brunch Muffins

My mom and grandma love orange-flavored baked goods, so I wanted to make something orangey for Mother’s Day breakfast 🙂 . I found several interesting recipes, but finally chose this one: Orange Brunch Muffins from the Very Best Baking site. This is a Nestle recipe that calls for white morsels, but my mom absolutely hates white chocolate, so I replaced them with dried cranberries to add some tartness to the mix. It also calls for baking mix as part of the dough… I’ve never used baking mix in a recipe before, so I was a bit ambivalent, but I didn’t want to try any complicated replacements. I just went with the rest of the recipe as is.

I burned my hand with some hot soup last night, so mixing was a bit of a problem and I just hoped that I wasn’t under-mixing, but despite a rough start, the muffins turned out very well. When I took them out of the oven, they looked a bit like biscuits, which I assumed was the result of using baking mix in the recipe (since biscuits are generally made with this mix). The texture is similar to that of a biscuit, slightly crusty outer layer and very soft doughy middle. The taste nice and orangey, and the cranberries and macadamias provided a nice balance of tart and crunchy. They are not overly sweet, but just right for a breakfast muffin.


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