Author Archives: marga

Christmas Eve Dinner 2022 – An Easy(ish) Family Christmas

It’s the third year of the COVID pandemic, and the first of the Tripledemic, so we once again had a very simple family Christmas Eve dinner, without any friends atoll – though our daughter’s boyfriend did spend Xmas Eve with us.

I had originally thought I’d ordered take out for this dinner, but my oldest daughter objected, so I decided on a simplified Xmas Eve menu that wouldn’t tax me too much. There were, of course, changes, compromises and courses dropped:

1- I decided that we wouldn’t have different dishes or silverware for different courses this year. One fork, one plate. We don’t have a dishwasher, so this was about saving my husband dishwashing time 🙂

2- I decided against having a soup course. The kids haven’t really liked soup lately, and not having soup would mean fewer dishes to wash.

3- Sorbet. First, I had some grandiose thoughts of making a champagne and strawberry sorbet, then I decided to just get some at the supermarket, but it wasn’t on sale, so I skipped it altogether.

4- The main dish. I had originally planned to make beef bourguignon – an old favorite, comfort food at its best. BUT chuck was not on sale this week and there is no way I’m going to pay $10/lb for what should be a cheap cut. Lately, I found some chuck in the freezer, but by then it was too late. Instead, I made a ribeye roast – because that’s what was on sale this week ($6/lb at a variety of restaurants).

5- I had meant to make a Gateaux Basque for dessert. Indeed, I had meant to make that, at my husband’s request, for Thanksgiving and then Family Christmas before. It didn’t happen then and it didn’t happen now either. Though I had already made the pastry cream, I didn’t want to bother with the cake – so at the last minute I decided to make a Basque cheesecake instead.

6- Photos. Yes, I meant to take them, but as I was busy cooking and serving dinner and didn’t nag my family members to take photos, none were taken :-(.

This is what I ended up serving:

First Course: Mini Quiche

These were bought from Trader Joe’s and they were pretty good. They have both bacon & onion and cheese & mushroom flavors. My youngest didn’t like them, but the rest of us did.

Second Course: Caesar Salad

This is the only salad my youngest likes, and I simplified my life by buying a Fresh Express Caesar Supreme salad kit. My youngest approved, though she felt there wasn’t enough dressing.

Third Course: Bastilla

My oldest had been asking for bastilla from Thanksgiving on, and this time I finally made it. I made a vegetarian one for her, using faux chicken, and a regular one for us. All of us – save my youngest who didn’t even want to try it – loved it.

Fourth Course: Cheese Plate

This was supposed to be our fifth course – served after the main dish – but as my youngest hadn’t wanted to eat either the quiche or the bastilla, she was very hungry and didn’t want to wait for the main dish to be ready to be served. So I switched. I served three cheese that I had bought at Trader Joe’s: triple cream brie, mini Basque cheese and Italian truffle cheese, along with apple slices, quince jelly and homemade bread. I had actually meant to get a baguette instead, but I waited too long and by the time my daughter made it to Safeway, the place was packed – so my oldest came to the rescue and made bread instead. Unfortunately, my youngest ended up not liking any of the cheeses. I’m going to have to try to figure out what cheeses she actually does like.

Fifth Course: Herb Crusted Prime Rib Roast with Roasted Potatoes, Sautéed Mushrooms and Popovers.

I wasn’t excited about making a roast, but it worked out very well. I got the bone-in ribeye roast from Safeway, and it was surprisingly good. I used Lisa’s recipe though I added some oregano to the butter and modified the roasting instructions to fit my need to cook the bastillas, popovers and potatoes. This worked so well that I will probably continue cooking my roast this way going forward.

The mushrooms, I sautéed with shallot and garlic, but were just OK. I used baby potatoes which I cut in two and covered with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and rosemary. By doing that and keeping them in a plastic bag in the fridge, I was able to prepare them in advance without them oxidizing. I just transferred them to a baking sheet and roasted them as the popovers cooked.

I used Ina Garten’s recipe for Popovers, which is a pretty standard recipe. It worked fine, but next time I’d fill the popover pan all the way to the top for the real spectacular popover effect.

Herb Crusted Prime Rib Roast recipe

  • 6 – 7 lb Bone-In Ribeye Roast
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp minced rosemary
  • 1 tsp minced thyme
  • 1/2 tsp minced oregano

Remove roast from the fridge. Dry all over with a paper towel and let sit, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the herbed butter. In a medium bowl, mix the softened butter with the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat oven to 450F. Cover the roast with butter on all sides. Place in a roasting pan bone side down. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 325F and continue roasting for about 1 1/2 hours. Raise heat to 425F and roast until the internal temperature reaches 120F for medium rare, about 15-20 minutes. Remove and let rest, covered with aluminum foil or a kitchen towel, for 20 – 30 minutes

Sixth Course: Basque Burnt Cheesecake and Dulce de Leche Granizado Ice Cream

The Basque burnt cheesecake is basically a NY cheesecake that doesn’t have a crust and which is baked at a higher temperature. This turns it into a lighter/airier but firmer cheesecake with a burnt top. The consistency is a bit more ashy than regular cheesecake, but the flavor is very similar. I think I prefer the American type. I based mine on a recipe from Bon Appetit.

Dulce de Leche granizado ice cream is dulce de leche ice cream with shaved semi-sweet chocolate incorporated into it. I’ve tried to recreate the ice cream I grew up eating in Argentina, but to no avail so far. This time, I made it by mixing 2 cups of dulce de leche with 1/2 cup of whole milk and then adding 2 cups of heavy cream. I put it in the ice cream maker, added shaved chocolate and froze it. The flavor was good but the consistency was off. Still, we enjoyed it. It didn’t really go with the cake, but we were all too full to eat dessert anyway, so we had it later.

Basque Burnt Cheesecake

  • 2 lbs cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 400F. Let cream cheese and eggs come to room temperature.


Grease a 9″ or 10″ spring form pan. Cover bottoms and sides with two pieces of parchment paper, about 2″ longer than edges of the pan.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cheese and sugar together over medium-low until the sugar dissolves. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at the time, waiting until each is mixed in before adding the next one. Turn heat to medium-low. Mix in the salt and vanilla extract. Sift the flour onto the bowl. Continue mixing until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the top of the cake is a dark, burnt color. Let cool for an hour and then refrigerate for a few more hours.

Marga’s Holiday Recipes


Thanksgiving 2022 – Menu & Recipes

This year, my sister and her family came to visit us for Thanksgiving. It took me forever to decide in a menu, nothing really inspired me. I knew I wanted to make poultry for dinner – both as a stand for the traditional turkey that nobody likes, and because my mother, who won’t eat poultry, wasn’t coming, so it seemed like a good opportunity. First I thought about making Basque Chicken, and from there do a Basque meal. But I couldn’t find enough vegetarian recipes without peppers to satisfy my daughter’s likes. Then I read a post on FB that mentioned someone was making chicken and dumplings, a recipe I just love and that my father used to make when I was a little kid. So I thought I’d make a menu based on family recipes – but it turns out most of what I used to eat growing up is not special enough for a Thanksgiving dinner. So, I finally decided to make Calypso Chicken, because it was an old favorite, and ended up with an “old favorite” menu. Originally, it was /also/ supposed to include a bunch of persimmon dishes: soup, lassi, sorbet and pie – but this year my persimmons are ripening slowly, so I only managed to get a couple for the soup.

I didn’t sleep well the night before Thanksgiving, however, and I was really exhausted through dinner. That means that I messed up some things as I slept walk through it.

This is what I ended up with.

Salad

So my original intention was to make a salad based on this Pear & Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Walnuts and Cranberries recipe I’ve made before and liked. But the road to hell is paved with new intentions. First, I decided to use butter lettuce instead of mixed green because my kids – who ended up not eating it anyway – only like lettuce. Then I decided to cut corners and use a store-bought Raspberry Poppy Seed dressing instead of making a vinaigrette with olive oil and raspberry vinegar. And I decided to use an apple instead of a pear. But when the time came to actually make the salad, I realized I’d forgotten to buy the cranberries and I had ran out of goat cheese. Then it turned out that my brother in law, like one of my daughters, only likes Caesar salad. So I put out the lettuce, all the dressings I had and the caramelized walnuts – forgetting the apple and green onion slices. At least the raspberry dressing was good.

Buttnernut Squash, Carrot and Persimmon Soup

While most of my persimmons didn’t ripen in time, I was able to find two of them ripe enough for this recipe. They gave a very pleasant sweetness to this soup. At first, I felt the soup was too carrot-y, but that flavor profile mellowed the second day. Still, next time I might use just one carrot. It’s slightly modified from superchef’s recipe at allrecipes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled & thickly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 20 butternut squash cubes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • pulp from 2 Hachiya persimmons
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and bay leaf and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the butternut squash and continue cooking for 5 minutes, also stirring occasionally.

Add the white wine and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the persimmon pulp. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Alternatively, wait until it cools down a bit and transfer to a blender, then return to the pot. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Assorted Appetizers

For my appetizers, I reverted mostly to old family favorites. I hadn’t made bacon-wrapped bananas in a long time, and I thought it would go well with the Caribbeanish theme of the dinner. This time I used a maple hickory bacon and it was delicious. I had originally planned to make coconut shrimp, but then I thought I had too many sweet flavors in this meal, so I decided to do shrimp wrapped in cheese and bacon instead – though it was a bit repetitive with the bananas. This time I used Havarti cheese and the maple bacon, and my husband loved them (but he always does).

The goat cheese & caramelized onion tart was a variation on my blue cheese & caramelized onion squares from yester holiday meals. I simply substituted goat cheese for blue and thyme for rosemary. My daughter, who doesn’t like blue cheese, loved it but I think the rest of us prefer it with blue cheese. Still, it’s an easy appetizer to make and you can make the caramelized onions in advance. I used Vidalia onions this time, but any onion will do.

The Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Butter Bruschettas, from a recipe I found at Scrambled Chefs. It’s not really bruschetta but cheesy garlic bread with chopped sundried tomatoes on top. BUT it was very good cheesy garlic bread, mostly because it had a lot of garlic and I used a lot of butter on each slice.

Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsp chopped thyme

Directions

Heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Add the sliced onions and turn heat to medium. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and stir in sugar, if using. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until the onions get the consistency and sweetness you want. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a large baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper.

Set puff pastry sheets on the baking sheet. Spread goat cheese on the sheets, leaving about a 1/2 ” margin. Spread caramelized onions on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle chopped thyme on top. Pinch the edges of the tarts, making a border. Bake until the the crust is golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Butter Bruschettas

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 5 garlic cloves, minched
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Mozarella or other shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut baguette into inch-thick slices

Place the butter in a small bowl and stir until soft. Add the parsley, garlic and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Spread butter on baguette slices. Arrange on baking sheet. Top each slice with shredded cheeses and top with chopped sundried tomatoes. Bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 5-7′

Calypso Chicken & Roasted Vegetables

Calypso Chicken is a dish that you can find throughout the Caribbean in different iterations. I’d made a Dominican recipe originally and repeated it for this dinner. Alas, by this time in the meal I was too tired and full, and went to bed before tasting it, leaving it to my husband to do the honors. He apparently just served the chicken without the sauce, and thought it was just OK, though my daughter said she liked it. We all enjoyed the leftovers the next day, however, when I did heat them up and serve them with the sauce. It’s really a solid dish. I made roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans and asparagus to go with it – I just mixed them with olive oil, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper, and I’m told people enjoyed them. There were very few left the next day. I had also planned to make air fried plantain slices, but I was too tired to follow through with that.

Granny’s Sponge cake with lemon frosting

This used to be my favorite cake as a child, one that I would ask my Grandmother and later my aunt Gladys, to make for my birthday. I’ve made it a couple of times before and my daughter specifically asked that I make it for Thanksgiving. While I didn’t eat it the night of the meal, as I was already in bed by then, everyone else enjoyed it and we had the leftovers the next day. I was extremely proud that the cake tasted exactly like I remembered it from my youth. I made it with no whipped cream in the filling and only 1/4 cup of whipped cream for the frosting. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, and I think my grandmother probably didn’t use it, but it does make it easier to spread. In any case, both the cake and the frosting came out perfectly and I was glad that my sister could try something my grandmother – who died years before she was born – made.

Marga’s Party & Holiday Menus & Recipes

HelloFresh Coconut Curry Chicken Recipe

So fast and easy, with stuff you are likely to have around

I’m often amazed at how HelloFresh comes up with very easy, very simple recipes that are, however, super tasty – specially now, when they’ve made their recipes quicker and simpler, both to save customer’s time and their own profits. This recipe is a prime example. It’s a complete cheat curry and one I think I should be able to recreate. What makes it particularly fast is that it’s made with pre-cut chicken, but buying tenders and cutting them into pieces shouldn’t take that long. I’m planning to make it for my vegan daughter, though I will have to figure out what to use instead of peppers, as she doesn’t like them.

The recipe below is for two portions, double for four.

Thai Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • 1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • salt to taste
  • 10 oz chicken tenders, cut into 1″ strips
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock concentrate
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions

Heat a generous drizzle of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and salt to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and a pinch of salt and continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken browns. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the coconut milk, the chili sauce, stock concentrate, sugar and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and lime juice. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve over rice.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Jazmine rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions

Place rice, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in lime zest and chopped cilantro.

Filippo Berio Tomato & Ricotta Pesto – Review

I came across this product soon after having some complimentary bread with a creamy tomato sauce at some restaurant, probably Buon Appetito in Hayward. My daughter and I really liked it, so when I saw it, I figured I’d give it a try.

I hadn’t tried it until now but it tastes exactly as you would expect from the title/description. It basically taste like pesto, which has been mixed with some ricotta cheese and tomato sauce. The strongest flavor in the mix is the Grana Padano cheese, a cheap cousin to Parmesan, followed by the basil, which stands in the background. The tomato adds quite a bit of intense acidity to the mixture, while the Ricotta somewhat softens it, but can mostly be felt in the soft yet slightly chalky texture.

All in all, I enjoyed it quite a bit on French bread, but the acidity is such that you can’t eat too much of it. Still, it works well as a dip, and you could make interesting canapes with it. The producers also suggest as recommended uses: “Roasting or Basting Proteins and Vegetables, Baked into Bread, Layered with Pasta as Lasagna, Base for Creamy Soup”. I’d note that due to its intense flavor, less is likely to be more on any dinner dish.

Filippo Berio is a brand named after the namesake of the olive oil company he started. In addition to olive oils, they produce and sell balsamic vinegars, pestos and glazes. They seem to be base din Lucca, Italy and the pesto is made in Italy. It sells at my local Safeway supermarket for $6.60 (I bought it on sale 2 months ago for $2.50 and it’s currently on sale for $4).

Braised Short Ribs with Pomegranate Molasses

I have been cooking for over 30 years, but I pretty much never cook without a recipe. I’m not a particularly creative person – and I’m anxious enough to believe that if I can’t anchor myself to a recipe, I’ll screw it up. So I was pretty nervous making this. I did look at several recipes out there, but none of them were exactly what I wanted. So I combined them, skipped what I didn’t want to use (carrots and celery) and tried to think of what flavors would work well together. And, of course, I used what I already had at home (thus the ginger garlic paste and pomegranate molasses).

The results were great. A little greasy (I used more bacon than what I’m recommending in the recipe below), but delicious. Maybe still not the ultimate short rib recipe, but getting close.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs short ribs
  • kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 4 strips bacon, cut into 1″ squares
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or concentrate
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp corn or potato starch

Directions

Preheat oven to 300F

Season short ribs with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Pour a very thin layer of oil in a wide oven safe lidded sautĂ© pan or dutch oven, if needed. Heat over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook until the fat renders. Remove the bacon bits (feel free to eat them, you won’t use them).

Working in two batches, add the short ribs to the grease and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Pour any excessive grease out.

Add the chopped onions, turn heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft. Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until dry.

Add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the port, pomegranate molasses and beef broth. Mix well and bring to a boil. Return short ribs to the pan. Add the sage leaves. Add enough water to submerge the short ribs. Cover, put in the oven, and cook for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven. Gently remove the short ribs to a plate and set aside. Place the pan on the stove and turn heat to medium-high. In a small bowl, mix corn starch with about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the pan. Whisk into the sauce in the pan. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken, then return short ribs to the pan and warm for a few minutes before serving.

Black Irish Irish Cream: Taste Just Like Baileys

We are not huge alcohol drinkers, but I do like cream liqueurs from time to time, and Baileys Irish Cream is our “default.” Irish Cream consists of Irish whiskey, cream, cacao and sometimes other flavorings. It was invented by an ad agency back in 1973, but the Irish seem to have adopted it as their own.

We usually buy Baileys when it’s on sale, or Kirkland Irish Cream, the Costco brand, if we shop at Costco. But I saw that Safeway also carried O’Connery’s Irish Cream Liqueur for just $8-9, and I figured it was worth a try. It gets fairly good reviews and is made by a well known distillery. I do most of my purchasing online, however, and despite the fact that I always ask for no substitutions, Safeway invariably substitutes unavailable products for ones that much more expensive. So unsurprisingly Safeway sent me this Black Irish Irish Cream instead of the O’Connery. At $25, it was over 3 times the price I expected to pay, but fortunately Safeway gave me a refund. I kept the bottle, however, and today I gave it a try. It tastes just like Baileys.

I don’t really know how to describe Irish cream, and there might be some minute differences that a connoisseur could tell, but to me they taste pretty much the same. The same can be said about Kirkland Irish Cream, btw. Unfortunately, both Black Irish and Baileys cost approximately the same – at least when not on sale.


Doing some digging online, I found out that the Black Irish brand is owned by singer Mariah Carey, who realized you can make far more money selling alcohol than singing. Given the very commercial origins of Irish cream, I don’t think anyone can be upset. Still, no reason to buy it or not buy it instead of Baileys – if I had to choose between the two, I’d go for whichever one is on sale.

Garlic Braised Short Ribs With Red Wine

I made this recipe last night, as Safeway had a great sale (great as in, the same price that short ribs were at just a handful of years ago – yes, I’m not an old lady that decries how expensive everything has gotten) on short ribs last week. The NYT has a similar sounding recipe, but it’s behind a paywall, so I looked for something that approximated it.

It was good, but nothing to write home about. Just a standard short rib recipe. On the plus side, it was an easy recipe to make and my non-vegetarian daughter liked it. She thought it looked horrible and had no hopes for it, but she was hungry enough to try it, and was pleasantly surprised. I skipped the parsley and lemon zest at the end, simply because I forgot about it. They might have given the recipe the ummph need it to elevate it. I’ll see if I remember to add them to the leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs bone-in short ribs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic, sliced in half crosswise
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 275°F

Season short ribs with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large, lidded, oven-safe sauté pan over high heat. Working in batches, add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium and add the garlic, cut side down. Push to a side of the pan.

Add the chopped onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft – about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables.

Add the wine, deglace the pan, and let boil for 2 minutes. Add the beef stock and the thyme and bring to a boil. Gently return the short ribs to the pan. Add enough water to cover the ribs. Bring to a boil, cover, turn off the heat and carefully place the pan in the oven.

Cook for 3 to 4 hours, until the ribs are cooked through and tender. Add the parsley and lemon zest and serve.

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Here are some other short ribs recipes I’ve cooked in the past, if you are looking for inspiration. All of these were good as well, just not the ultimate recipe:

Morning Star Vegan Meats: Are they Diabolic?

My vegan-cum-vegetarian daughter is very fond of Morning Star products, particularly the buffalo cik’n. But did you know that “Morning Star” is another term for “Lucifer“, aka “the Devil”?

I’d never had realized that if I hadn’t started watching both “The Sandman” and “Devil in Ohio*. Of course, I had to go to Wikipedia, where I found a not-very clearly written article on Lucifer. For what I can make up from it, it would appear that the planet Venus is known as the “morning star.” Venus is the closest planet to the earth and therefore the brightest “star” in the sky – but it’s particularly visible when it’s low in the horizon. As both the Earth and Venus orbit the sun, their relatively position changes, and approximately every 18 months Venus goes from appearing brightest right before dawn to appearing brightest right after sunset. It was thus known in ancient times both as the “morning star” and the “evening star.” I’m not clear if the ancients realized it was the same star.

In any case, the Latin name for Venus as the morning star was “Luciferus,” or “bringer of light”, from where we get the name “Lucifer”. As many astral bodies, Luciferus became personalized and given a family and vague mythology.

Meanwhile, there is a passage in Isaiah, in the Old Testament, where they refer to the King of Babylon by a Hebrew term that translates as “the shining one”, also understood to be Venus, aka “the morning star”. In the Vulgata and King James versions, they translated that word as “Lucifer,” while modern English versions use the term “morning star” or even “day star“. The passage describes the King of Babylon’s fall from grace – which you can compare to Venus, as the morning star, being seen low in the horizon before dawn. I guess the fall from grace motif caused “Lucifer” to become a name for the devil.

So, is eating Morning Star products a form of devil-worshipping? I mentioned it to my daughter and she laughed. More seriously, though, Morning Star is a product line that belongs to Kellogg’s, a company that has a history of exploiting/mistreating employees, false advertisement/lying to consumers, andincluding toxic ingredients in its cereals. That seems like quite evil/devilish behavior. So perhaps, by giving money to Kellogg’s and increasing its promising, we are rewarding evil and worshiping the devil in the only real way to do so.

* My daughter tells me that this is a also a well known fact to people who watch the show “Lucifer“, as the main character, the Devil, is called “Lucifer MorningStar,” but I never watched it.

Primal Kitchen Beef & Mushroom Bowl – Review

I found these frozen bowls at Grocery Outlet, I think for $4. I was impressed by the simple ingredients and “grass fed” beef so I figured I’d give them a try. It was fine, about the quality you expect from frozen food. The beef consists of “patty crumbles”, the mushrooms are limp and the sauce is basic a tomato sauce, a little bit spicy and a little bit undersalted. The dish is in need of a starch, some bread, rice or cornbread would probably compliment it nicely. Of course, they are sold to cater to the “paleo” market, thus their lack of carbs.

I did like that it came in what seems to be a compostable bowl and is covered with wax paper – but I have curve side composting. And the portion was large enough for a light lunch. I just wasn’t sold on the flavor.

Primal Kitchen, which started as a small company but was later acquired by Kraft, sells 3 frozen bowls – the other two are panang curry and chicken pesto. It’s not clear to me if the bowls are in the process of being discontinued, however. The only place I can find that sells them, other than Grocery Outlet, is Thrive Market, where they retail for $9. They used to be $8 at Safeway, but they’re no longer available.

Tapsilog Express in San Leandro offers tasty, quick Filipino silogs

Bay Area Restaurant Reviews

I’m a big fan of Filipino food, a very successful fusion of Asian and Spanish/Latin American cuisine, but we seldom get it because Filipino restaurants don’t really cater to vegetarians or vegans, and one of my daughters is one. So when we were kidless a few nights ago, it was a great opportunity to try one of the local Filipino restaurants. It was a wonderful night, so we figured we’d get take out and eat it in the patio, and Tapsilog Express seemed best suited for an easy take out experience. It was.

Tapsilog Express has some indoor seating, in a pleasant though not particularly alluring room, but it’s mostly a take out place. They have a simplified menu of meat mains served with rice and a fried egg, as well as some appetizers, drinks and a couple of desserts. We got two orders of lumpia, the tosilog and the chorizosilog . I also got the pineapple cooler and flan for dessert. The food came out very quickly, about 10 minutes after ordering.

The lumpia ($7.50 per order) were small, 1 1/2″ pieces, but there was a good amount of them per order (the picture shows two). They were tasty by themselves, which is a good thing as the sweet and sour sauce they came with was overwhelmingly sour and not very tasty. I’d only get these again if I had sauce at home.

Tosilog ($11) is described as Filipino bacon, but it’s more like pork strips marinated in a sweet sauce. It lacks the crispiness of bacon. It was pretty good, though I felt it lacked “umph”. Still, I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed mixing the egg yolk with the rice.

My husband similarly enjoyed his chorizo ($11). It was slightly sweet and very tasty. He’d get it again.

The flan itself was pretty standard, but the caramel sauce was tastier than usual – probably because it was cooked to perfection. I’m a big flan fan and I’d have it again.
I seldom get juices/fountain drinks at restaurants (other than soda), but their pineapple cooler ($3) had good reviews so I decided to give it a try. It was actually very good, a great proportion of pineapple juice to water, so that it had a nice pineapple taste but it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet or heavy. I’d have it again.
Tapsilog Express
14843 Washington Ave.
San Leandro, California
(510) 878-1232
M-Su 11:30 am – 07:30 pm