Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gilmores Spin Along on California Road Trips

Since my children's book, CORA COOKS PANCIT, was published in March, our family has been on our share of great California road trips. I've been signing books up and down the state and we've had the excuse for some fun trips to hang out with friends and explore new areas. Our road trips have included Los Angeles (for the LA Times Book Festival), Palo Alto (for Kids Otter Read Day), and Stockton (for Filipino Heritage Month).

Our most recent trip was to Oakland, where I had the opportunity to sign books at the Northern California Independent Booksellers conference. This trip was also an excuse to spend the night at our friend Danna's new condo (in San Jose) rendezvous with Ericlee's cousins from Atlanta (who just happened to be in Santa Clara) and my college roomie Jen and her fam (who drove over from Escalon). Delia, Ella and Meilani (pictured above) squealed with delight as they were reunited at the Tilden Park in Berkeley after mama's book signing. We rode a historic Merry-go-Round.

We hiked around this beautiful lake with leaves crunching beneath our feet and birds singing in the trees.

Then we followed our maps to our fave Ethiopian restaurant right on the border of Berkeley and Oakland. Asmara serves up family-style Ethiopian with the famous injera bread (aka Ace Bandage bread) for dipping. The VanderMeulens were great sports and all tried out with wild and spicy cuisine with our family.

We appreciate how the VanderMeulens are game for new adventures and even joined us in the midst of our busy weekend. The girlies are already planning their next road trip and sleepover soon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cooking Club: French Cooking in Honor of Julia Child

For our August Cooking Club we decided to take some cues from a master. Julia Child is an inspiration in the kitchen and now on the big screen. Our group piled in a friend's van, left the kids with the daddies and headed to the movie theater to watch "Julie & Julia."

We loved the movie - at least the first 15 minutes of - until the movie broke down. We were so disappointed that we actually got all us mamas to a movie and then we couldn't even watch the whole thing. We did score free movie tickets. Actually, Allison scored us two movie tickets each one for a refund and one for the incovenience. (That means I got to see the movie with my lover and we thoroughly enjoyed. Needless to say, I was inspired to get back to my food blogging!)

We learned that the secret to life is butter. Julia enticed us with her "bathing the thighs in butter" and we all headed back to our place to try out some of her famous recipes.

Our first dish to conquer was the famous French "ratatouille," which is comfort food at its best. Ratatouille is actually a vegetable dish made with thinly-sliced layers of vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant and onions. Next we dove into a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake called "Reine de Saba." The secret ingredient in this cake was coffee (next to butter, of course) but it doesn't have a strong coffee flavor.

We also tackled a French chicken dish, which uses Herbes de Provence (thyme, marjoram, rosemary). We felt like Julia as we diligently whisked the eggs for a fancy egg sauce to top the chicken.

Our final summer dinner party was a grand occasion. This time Allison's mom and family joined us. They have been to France and are big fans of Julia Child so it was fun to have their input. Marcy & Jeremy Pusey and clan, Mary Andrade (with Olivia), Darrel & Cori (with Micah) and Susan all took part in the French feast.

In addition to this fabulous chicken that had us all licking our chops, we also sauteed some baguette bread in olive oil and made a scrumptious bruschetta. (No, bruschetta is not French but it was in the movie and we just *had* to have it when we got home...)

The kids had fun racing through the house, playing dolls and kitchen, and, of course, digging into the fabulous chocolate dessert. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baby Playgroup meets at Gilmore Casa

I've praying a long time to find close friends to walk alongside me in this mother journey. I have been struck lately by how God has surrounded me here in our Fresno community with so many women to lean on. I'm so blessed. We recently started a Baby Playgroup at our house with our good friends Stacie (and new boy Nathanael) and Cori (and baby Micah). We're trying to get together each week so our little ones can play, read, sing, connect and encourage our little ones to socialize.
I do a lot of play dates and activities for Meilani but this one is focusing on Giada. My baby girl is growing so quickly. She crawls and pulls herself up on furniture now. She's very comfortable on her feet and it looks like she might be an early walker like big sister Meilani. (This may not be a good thing for mama!)

Stacie's son Nathanael has been here in the U.S. 6-plus weeks now. He's adjusting well and working toward crawling too. We love watching Giada and Nathanael clap their hands together and squeal with delight.

Olivia, Mary's daughter, also came to visit for one Wednesday. Mama Mary had some relaxin' on our couch before her new baby boy arrives.

Micah Schmidt is a few months younger and growing quickly too. We love to see his smile explode. He is a lover of music. At Playgroup he tries out Giada's Baby Einstein Exersaucer. It's a hit!