Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two Thanksgivings!

A month or two ago we were introduced to the magic and wonder that is Portillo's hot Italian beef sandwiches. Portillo's is a restaurant chain in Chicago that specializes in Italian beef sandwiches as well as Chicago-style hot dogs. Chicagoans, as well as those who just appreciate the good food of Chicago, can order everything you need for a sandwich party on-line. After stuffing ourselves at our first introduction we had the idea that, instead of messing with the traditional Thanksgiving meal, why not just order the sandwich-making stuff and focus our culinary efforts on what really matters at Thanksgiving: pie.

So on Thanksgiving day at Matt's mom and dad's in Oklahoma instead of a turkey dinner everyone gathered around for Portillo's! The restaurant sends the meat packed in ice, as well as the gravy, hot peppers, buns, and detailed instructions on how the sandwiches should be prepared. After some initial doubts, all the family members decided that these are truly amazing sandwiches!

Here's a picture of nephew Tag sporting his very own Portillo's hat. As you can imagine, Tag was a big help getting dinner ready.

Niece Lucy, if she could talk, would be saying the following, "put that dumb camera down and get me out of this chair." Note that her Granddad had the excellent idea of taking some canned whipped cream and putting a huge pile of it right in the middle of her high chair tray. Hey, it's the holidays, and it kept her entertained (once we stopped taking pictures of her) for at least a few minutes. Sticky, but entertained.

The row of pies. This year it was pumpkin, pecan (definitely in the running this year for "best pie"), apple, chocolate cream (the other "best pie" nominee) and coconut.

The remains of a Portillo's sandwich. It looks like dog food, but it tastes great.

Three of Matt's favorite people: his mom, his grandma, and his wife. Notice the pies in the foreground look far less pristine at this point in the meal.

Nephew Tag watching a movie on grandma and granddad's bed! He followed this up with some coloring with Aunt Sharon, so it was a pretty good day for the Tagger.

We were quite proud of ourselves for being so unique and creative in our Thanksgiving dinner choice. Then we had a conversation with our friends the Grahams in which they told us they were not having Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving because they'd be doing some volunteer work that day (earning brownie points with the Big Guy Upstairs.) So the Grahams invited us over on the day after Thanksgiving for their traditional Thanksgiving feast! So, we got two Thanksgivings; one with family and non-traditional food on the day of and one the day after with friends and all the regular good eats. Matt volunteered to cook the turkey (he's been working on perfecting that task) and once again pie featured largely in the equation.

Yes, there were definitely left-overs.

The Graham kids mainly focused on the rolls, and with good reason. They were great!

So that was our Thanksgiving. It was great and we ate far more than we should have. Matt is glad that Thanksgiving has come and gone because now Sharon will let him listen to Christmas music in the car (she has a strict "not before Thanksgiving" policy.)

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody

If the stresses of the holidays are becoming more than you can handle, just watch this.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Three Years and Going Strong!

So we've gotten pretty bad about blogging in a timely manner. Apologies to those who follow us with any regularity. September 6th Matt and Sharon celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary, and it has been three great years! Being single and LDS in our part of the world doesn't bring a lot of opportunities to meet eligible partners, we're thankful every day that we managed to find each other. Matt survived his first date with Sharon, which consisted of having dinner with Sharon ... and Laura and Jason Hammontree. Jason decided that they would need to inspect any potential suitor for Sharon and, given that Jason is one big dude, Matt had reason to be intimidated. The intimidation lasted about 30 seconds until Matt mentioned he was from Oklahoma. Jason, also being an Oklahoma-boy, immediately decided that Matt was ok and could date Sharon. It didn't take long for Matt to work his way in with the Grahams as well (the other "Sharon guardians" Matt had to seek approval from).

We found some old disposable cameras from our wedding reception and, well, disposable cameras left in the hands of wedding guests equals really bad pictures. So we thought we'd post a few of the professionally-taken shots. More than anything just to prove that Matt did at one point in time have hair.

Sharon was so excited to be married, water spontaneously erupted from the top of her head.

Lots of folks made it out to the temple, and then to the reception. Once again, erupting water.
Matt, joined by his other "former menace to society" friends staring in awe at their wedding rings. Seriously, all three of these guys blew past 30 with no marriage prospects in site. Luckily, all three managed to find women who would tolerate them. And we all three still sometimes are stunned by the fact that we actually managed to make it to the altar.

The three years since have been wonderful, full of lots of great times together. Our favorite thing to do is to sit in the big, comfy chair in the living room with the doggies at our feet, eating a yummy dinner and watching a movie or one of our favorite shows (if you can't tell by the music on the blog, Sharon is really into "Glee" right now.) We do occasionally leave the house, too. We like to go on trips (Branson, OKC, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Seattle, Washington D.C., Santa Fe, Austin, we've been a lot of places!) and we love to go to the movies and go visit family and friends. But most of all we like being with each other, and that's a pretty great thing to have in a marriage. So far, so good!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gosney Summer Vacation - Second Blog: The Food

Obviously we love food. Every time we determine where we're going to go for vacation, or even for a quick trip, we have to ask "will we eat fantastic food?" It's actually been a surprisingly fun aspect of our marriage, our common love of finding and trying new places to eat and new recipes to try. We've eaten in some very nice places, but more often than not we're trying fun little hole-in-the-wall joints. (It took quite a while to talk Sharon into trying the little taqueria here in town, however. She's not a fan of what she calls "sketchy burittos." We always look to see if any dogs are missing outside. So far, so good.

So when we were discussing if we wanted to go on a vacation this summer obviously the opportunity to try new and fun food was high on the list. New Mexico is famous for their unique, "New Mexico Mexican" cuisine. New Mexicans are very quick to tell you that their food is definitely not Tex-Mex, it's got its own particular twist on things that is probably much more authentic to Mexico. Every restaurant seemed to have lengthy discussions on their menu about the perfect elevation New Mexico enjoys in order to grow perfect chili peppers. And everything has chili (sauce) on it, either green chili or red chili. The green chili is made from fresh peppers and is a little hotter. Red chili is made from dried peppers and has a smokier flavor. Or, if you want to talk like a local you can have both on your plate. That's called "Christmas style." (Red and green, get it?) Sharon preferred the green chili and Matt preferred the red. Forget chips and salsa, that is not done in New Mexico. But you can count on sopapillas for dessert. After dealing with the "happy heat" of all that chili, the sopapillas were definitely welcome!

The Blue Corn Cafe
So here's where we went first, a fantstic place right on the edge of the square called the Blue Corn Cafe. We ate there our first night in town and it was wonderful, but we forgot to take pictures of the food! So here is our meal from lunch the very next day (we really liked this place, and it was reasonably priced! Hard to find in Santa Fe.) Sharon is enjoying huevos rancheros (this was actually probably Sharon's favorite for the entire trip, she loves loves loves heuvos rancheros.) Matt is showing off what's left of chicken tacos in blue corn tortillas.

El Meson
Santa Fe has a pretty significant Spanish history. And because of that their food is strongly influenced by Spain. So we decided to try a Spanish tapas bar to get a taste of Spanish food. Spanish tapas are sorta like appetizers, only for dinner. The idea is to order several small items and share. That way everybody gets to taste, and you get to try a bunch of different things. So we started out with an heirloom salad with goat cheese and basalmic vinaigrette. After that came the "main course" tapas. We had chili-marinated grilled lamb skewers (awesome, Sharon was surprised at how much she liked them), oven-roasted red potatoes with a red chili sauce and garlic aoli dipping sauce, and ridiculously tasty shrimp sauteed with red pepper flake and garlic that came out in the cool little ceramic bowl. You can probably still see them bubbling in the picture. El Meson was also a winner.

Coyote Cafe - Rooftop Cantina
The Coyote Cafe is a pretty swanky restaurant in Santa Fe and, after our El Meson experience, we figured we should tone it down a notch. So we went to their rooftop cantina instead. It had a fun vibe and they get pretty creative with their interpretation of New Mexican food. It helped that the night we went was stunningly beautiful, so being on a rooftop outside in Santa Fe was a great place to be. Here's pictures of both of us enjoying the evening, and then one picture that captures both dinners. Sharon got a Navajo Taco (pretty crazy, it had buffalo, beef, and chicken on it) and Matt had a chimichanga. The chimicanga was definitely better, to be honest.

We were off to Taos after three days in Santa Fe with a recommendation to try Orlando's. The manager of our B&B in Santa Fe had lived in Taos for 25 years and said it was the best in town. We didn't get a lot of time to try everything to see if she was right, but it would be hard to top the grub we put down in Orlando's. Sharon liked it so much she bought a t-shirt there! Matt got a big ol' stuffed buritto and Sharon got more huevos rancheros, this time with blue corn tortillas and pasole (the hominy side dish.) To quote Sharon, it was "freaking amazing." Orlando's kinda had a dive feel to it (no website to point you to on this one), but man the food was amazing. If you're ever in Taos, go to Orlando's!

El Meze
We decided to finish off the trip with a fancy dinner, and did we ever hit the jackpot. El Meze is owned by chef Frederick Muller who is sort of a chef/historian. He's done years of research on the food of Northern New Mexico and discovered that its influenced by quite a few different groups, including the Spanish Moors (Arabians.) So he's created a restaurant and menu that pulls from Arabic, Spanish, and Mexican tastes and is really amazing. It's pretty rare to get to eat at a place where you sit back and think "this guy is probably one of the best in the world at what he does." Well, El Meze was one of those places. But not too full of itself, either. Chef Muller came out about 3/4 of the way through our dinner and just sat down and had a cup of coffee. He asked us what we had and when Sharon told him crab salad he said, "oh yeah, I was craving that so I put it on the menu." Amazing food, great place. A picture of the restaurant is included (it's a 200 year old adobe hacienda, just to add to the awesomeness.)

So we started with hummus and olives. Sharon loves olives, so some Spanish olives hit the spot for her. The hummus was great and the pita chips were grilled, very yummy. Matt had a bone-in aged rib eye with Moroccan butter and herbed french fries. The butter should probably be a controlled substance. It was garlicky and minty and amazing with the steak. Sharon had (as mentioned) crab salad with big ol' huge chunks of crab in it. She was very happy with her choice.

We ended with dessert, even though we were stuffed. Matt had lavender-infused creme brule, and Sharon had cardamom doughnuts with a chocolate caramel sauce. Sharon wanted me to put a caption under the picture saying "check out my wife's doughuts." But since this is a family blog we won't do that. At the end is a picture of us after dinner, fat and happy. So to sum up, if you get a chance to go to Northern New Mexico (and it is absolutely worth the trip) go hungry!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gosney Summer Vacation - First Blog

In August Sharon and Matt went on a week-long vacation to Northern New Mexico; Santa Fe and Taos. It was a beautiful trip and a much needed break! Anyone who reads this blog knows one thing about the Gosneys, they love good food! So the trip will be broken down into two blog postings, the first will be about the trip and the second will be about the food! And yes, silly as it is to pull out a camera and take pictures of every meal, Matt and Sharon do not regret it for a moment. At the bottom of this blog I'll include the slide show with all of our pictures. I'll just plug in a few of the more memorable pics in the blog itself.

Traveling ...
We took off early Monday after dropping the dogs off at the doggie day care. Auggie and Penny were not pleased with their lack of invitation to participate in the family vacation. Once we'd dropped them off it was on the road to New Mexico! Driving through Western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle isn't exactly "scenic," unless you enjoy tumbleweeds. But we ensured we had excellent road trip food (no photos were taken of the bologna sandwiches we had at a rest stop in Oklahoma, don't worry.) It was really the first time we had been able to take a true "all day" road trip together and it was great! Lots of time to talk and see new things. Sharon is convinced that she does not fall asleep in the car. If that's the case, then she really needs to explain the long stretches of silence with her mouth slack-jawed and open (and a little bit of drool.) I think I'd just admit to sleeping.

Santa Fe
We decided to stay in Bed & Breakfasts in both Santa Fe and Taos, which turned out to be a great idea. The first Bed & Breakfast was the El Farolito in Santa Fe. It was beautiful! As you can see, we had our own little "casita" with a front porch to enjoy. Everything in Northern New Mexico is built in the "adobe style," which was fun. The El Farolito was within easy walking distance of the Plaza in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is an old, old town with lots of history. It was established back in the 1600's and has been a Spanish settlement, Mexican, as well as American. So lots of history. But it is also a thriving artistic community. So we were able to entertain ourselves our first evening and all day Tuesday simply by wandering around the various shops as well as stopping in at the occasional historic site. Santa Fe is at about 7000 feet in elevation, so it is easy to get winded those first couple of days. But Sharon is quite convinced that higher, dryer air is better for her hair than muggy old Arkansas. She's probably right. Anyway, we loved being up in the mountains, walking up and down the streets and smelling the pinon and mountain wildflowers. The Plaza itself is amazing, with hundreds of little shops and restaurants to check out, and live music to enjoy in the evenings.

Sharon had one goal in mind on her trip, and that was to purchase some authentic turquoise jewelry. And boy was there a lot of turquoise! And you can pretty much spend as much on it as you'd like. Fortunately as we walked into town each day we'd pass some shops just off the plaza. Should any of you ever be in Santa Fe, definitely find some shops off the beaten path. Prices are much more reasonable when you get away from the craziness of the Plaza! Sharon was successful and found a beautiful Zuni broach that she will wear as a necklace. It's a vintage piece, most likely made in the 1950's. She picked up a bracelet to go with it (not vintage) and now she is quite decked out in the turquoise.

We decided on Wednesday to sneak down to Albuquerque and take in a temple session. The temple is actually only about an hour's drive from Santa Fe and is really beautiful. Afterwards we came back and toured the Palace of the Governors, the original capital of New Mexico built in 1610. It's a beautiful adobe building filled with artifacts from the Spanish colonial era of New Mexico. Really, it's just amazing to be in a 400 year old building made of mud and straw. We finished the day wandering the streets and enjoying the sites and sounds.

The Train Ride
Thursday we checked out of the El Farolito bright and early and made our way up to Chama, NM. In the late 1800's gold and silver mining was the big business in the Southern Rocky Mountains. The Rio Grande Railroad intended to extend all the way to Denver but with the discovery of silver in and around Chama they decided to head the railroad south to be able to pull it out of there more efficiently. So in 1880 a narrow-gauge (narrower track than a standard railroad) line was built between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO. Now, of course, it is no longer used for mining. Instead the states of NM and CO jointly own the railroad and train and run scenic tours along the route. The train is a legitimate steam engine. It smells like coal and being having the window open means you'll probably get soot on you. But it's also one of the last, truly authentic steam engine experiences left in America. It's also America's longest, highest-altitude narrow gauge line, the train climbs up to around 11,000 feet elevation. As you can imagine, there were some spectacular views!

We rode for a few hours and then the train stopped in Osier, an old mining town, for lunch. Instead of continuing on to Antonito we got back on the train headed back where we came. What a beautiful trip! We only included a few photos here, but lots more down on the slide show.

After our train ride we drove the couple of hours in to Taos. Right before making it to Taos you cross the Rio Grande Gorge, and it is impressive! As you can see from the photo, storm clouds were brewing which made it all the more impressive. There were also gale-force winds, so you felt like you were about to get swept off the bridge and into the abyss. So we didn't stay long to admire it.

For our Taos Bed and Breakfast we stayed at the Adobe & Pines, and it was amazing! The Adobe & Pines is a 200 year old adobe hacienda that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. Our walls were quite literally two foot thick adobe. We were lucky and got a room with a little balcony. The grounds were really beautiful and it was easy to forget the rest of the world as we wandered around. Everything looked and smelled wonderful, lots of colors, lots of beautiful flowers. We liked the El Farolito in Santa Fe, but the Adobe & Pines was really something else entirely (and less expensive!) It was truly one of the most tranquil, beautiful places we've ever stayed.

Our Friday was originally going to begin with a horseback ride. However, those storm clouds you saw in the gorge photo developed into a downpour on Friday morning. And, being the city slickers that we are, we decided a horseback ride in the rain wasn't our idea of a fun vacation. When it cleared up we did make it over to see the Taos Pueblo. The Native American tribes that make up most of Northern New Mexico are "pueblo" Indians, meaning they build permanent pueblo structures to live and worship in. The Taos Pueblo community, and main pueblo, was over 1000 years old. Several thousand Native Americans still live in the Pueblo and abide by the Pueblo rules, meaning no running water or electricity. As you can imagine, one of the rules for visitors was to absolutely not throw anything into the stream running through the middle of the reservation. Most of the residents of the Pueblos had Native American art of some sort to sell, it was really a fascinating trip. And then, on our way back into town, Sharon decided we needed a picture of something a little less historic than the Taos Pueblo: the Adobe-style Taos McDonalds.

We were back up on Saturday and, after laying around far longer than we should, we got back on the road to head home. We took a different route, this time through the Oklahoma panhandle, hoping for more engaging scenery. Alas, no luck. The Oklahoma panhandle is just as forelorn as the Texas panhandle. But we enjoyed our drive back home and were so extremely grateful for the chance we had to spend a week together. It certainly re-charged our batteries. And now Sharon is absolutely ready to move to New Mexico. But that may be because of the food more than anything, but that's the next post!

Below is the slide show from the vacation.