Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, people

Merry Christmas, everyone.

I'm currently visiting my mom in SoCal for the holidays. Hating the SoCal traffic and ultra-sprawl. In a couple of days, we'll head to Arizona to see the in-laws.

One weird thing we encountered while walking around the neighborhood here was a megachurch. It was a convention center-sized campus with a huge sanctuary, twice as much parking as a Wal-Mart, and a cafe and two retail spaces. It was like a big-box store for God! It's still being built and isn't yet open for worship services.

Other recent activities:

Attended two Messiah Sings - one hosted by my choir and also the Stanford one. The one we host has a better level of audience musicianship, but the Stanford one is more like a big, festive community event. Also, Sugar Daddy can accompany me to the Stanford one because they have a pick-up orchestra for instrumentalists like him. In fact, the Stanford Messiah Sing has become quite a tradition for us - we've attended it for the past few years.

Also, Sugar Daddy and I are slowly getting over our nasty colds.

I finished another piece of my volunteer web project for New Dream.

I ended up pouring a lot of time into a homemade Christmas present this year. One of my pastimes is wild edible plants, and last year I gathered leaves from California bay laurel trees, dried them, put them into recycled jars with labels I designed, and gave them to friends and family who cook with bay leaves. Well, this year I got a little more ambitious. While we were at the Calstar weekend astronomy outing at Lake San Antonio this past October, I gathered a bunch of valley oak acorns from our campsite. I decided to prepare them by adapting a couple of traditional recipes that originally used chestnuts. The end result was jars of Ghiande al Liquore (Acorns in Spirits) and Glands Glacees (Candied Acorns), which I'll give as gifts to some friends who also have an interest in wild plant foods. It was a fun project but more messy and time-consuming than I realized...it takes a long time to shell that many acorns, and also the candying process took 4 days and involved a lot of sticky sugar syrup. Also it was kind of an experimental thing. The brandied acorns take 2 weeks to cure so I haven't sampled them yet and don't know how they turned out yet. I did try the candied acorns and they are a little bit more firm than chestnuts would be, but I like the flavor (although Sugar Daddy thinks they have a woody taste). Well, at least these gifts are going to people whom I know will appreciate the novelty and the experimentation, even if they taste weird :)

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