Greetings and welcome to Dinosaur Bear,
This post is all about birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and food – but mostly food. SB and Valentino’s birthdays both center around Valentine’s Day (sometimes to SB’s chagrin, never to Valentino’s) and unsurprisingly we tend to find lots of excuses to eat plenty of good food and sweets (such as our tradition of making a cake). However, this year we even got into the “February sweets” mode a little earlier than normal thanks to SB’s work. Considering that SB is a mental health professional that might sound like an odd connection, but one of the perks with her job is that she occasionally gets wined and dined by pharmacy representatives and (more importantly) brings home left-overs when she is able! 🙂 These left-overs have even included such things as filet mignon, though the most treaty thing so far has been some yummy cheesecake.
Beyond fancy dinners, there’s also the generous co-worker aspect that has provided us with a decent amount of food so far. These Hispanic dishes have continued to impress – and besides free food is, well, free food.
Of course we don’t always get food provided to us, but we (and by we I mostly mean SB) have been exploring making lots of different new dishes, a decent majority of which have also turned out really good.
As well as some entirely new efforts, such as when I made a chocolate-honey-banana-cinnamon.. something? I’m not sure what you would call it, but we paired it with some Skyr and it was surprisingly good for something that I just made with no preparation.
Since we found Kodiak Cakes I’ve dutifully made either waffles or pancakes nearly every Sunday – with a new variation (even if minor) each weekend. We also pair our waffles or pancakes with coffee, with some of the more recent varieties definitely meshing well with colder temperatures.
While the holidays are over, we did find some extremely yummy gingerbread raisin crackers that were on clearance from the holidays and they really made us wish we had found them sooner! Though our waistlines are probably glad we didn’t. 🙂
Speaking of post-holiday things, Tristen continues to lord over us in his new golden-state. Things are mostly back to normal with him, though since February normally centers around SB and Valentino Tristen has had to keep himself busy. Naturally he’s found lots of ways to do this, such as continuously examining “his” car after anyone else has used it.
Or maybe he’s just waiting for the Chakra chocolate that comes at the end! Unfortunately we did recently finish off our chocolate box, so we’ll see how long Tristen remains dedicated to the whole affair.
Oh, and this is kind of random, but one day while doing some yoga I noticed that SB’s chair sort of looked like a horse with the four wooden legs being the horse’s legs, the chair being the body, a sweatshirt being its head, and a pillow being part of its mane.
Anyways, with Valentine’s Day approaching the Boys started receiving some love from their friends (which literally span the globe).
I used to make these all the time 7 or 8 years ago, but then sort of tapered off a bit before stopping altogether over the past couple of years. We really like them so I’m not sure why I stopped making them, but this was the first one we’d had in a long time. It turned out.. odd, something was wrong with the consistency. The flavor was still really good, but I somehow managed to mess up something as simple as cool whip pie. 😛 After that we didn’t want to overload the sweets, so we took a bit of a break on the sweets after the pie in order to better appreciate SB/Valentino’s cake that would be coming up soon. In the meantime I got a late Christmas gift from a friend, a Super Nintendo Classic!
This is one of those console remakes where they preload it with a bunch of games (21 in this case), reduce the size substantially, and make the console HDMI compatible. It’s one of those really neat things that I enjoy having, but probably would have never bought for myself. The really nice thing is that it comes with 2 controllers by default, so SB and I have been able to play Super Mario Kart together!
That about brings us up to the celebration of SB’s Birthday, Valentino’s Birthday, and Valentine’s Day – which in the Taco Household are pretty much all done at the same time. Valentino began the celebration by sleeping in, and Pig joined him either because he wanted to sleep in too or because he was too scared to move and wake up Valentino (who can be quite cranky during that process). 🙂
Valentino also spent quite a bit of time just chilling under the flowers that SB got. He may look cute but in actuality he was sitting there because he was hoping to eat them when we weren’t looking (same goes for Pig).
Surprisingly all the flowers survived – probably in equal parts due to us being diligent about watching Valentino and Pig around plants and also because they had something even more tasty to look forward to: the birthday cake!
I think Pigsten gets a bit stir crazy from time to time now that his construction site work is all remote, but I welcomed the additional help in the kitchen. We made the cake earlier in the day so that it would have plenty of time to cool and so we could eat it with no delay after the birthday dinner. The downside to that, is that it meant that not only did I have to watch Valentino around the flowers, I had to watch out for the cake too.
Now, as for that birthday dinner. We have a second tradition of me cooking salmon in one fashion or another. We usually only buy salmon when it’s on sale these days, but for most of our relationship SB and I couldn’t even really afford to buy it that frequently, so back then salmon was a real treat. Now it’s still a treat, but I think we do it more for the tradition of it than for the “exclusivity” of the salmon itself as we might have done in the past. Don’t get me wrong, we all love salmon here, some a bit more than others. 😛
If you have to cook salmon around Valentino then you basically just have to come to terms with the fact that you are either going to have to give him a nibble or get scratched – and sometimes both are going to happen regardless of your decision.
The completed dinner featured some seasoned salmon (Taco’s secret blend), seasoned Spanish rice, grilled asparagus, and also a big ole’ chunk of a cheese because SB loves cheese and I hadn’t integrated it into the other dishes, so I just put a chunk in the middle and SB was more than ok with that. 🙂
For starters, that coffee is worth explaining. SB gets a free drink from the Bux (and also Dunkies, but that came later) on her birthday, but when she went to redeem it the employees did something wrong (they claimed to have messed up her drink, but nothing was wrong with it) and so the birthday coupon wasn’t used. So, after work SB went and actually used the coupon for another free drink which she brought home to share with everyone! This paired really well with the yummy cake.
This cake was awesome. It was by far one of my favorite cakes I’ve made in a good while. Sure it mostly used premade ingredients, but that didn’t stop me from making it magical in my own way. The end result was a cherry, orange, whipped vanilla cake (with two different kinds of sprinkles, naturally)! The cake was a huge hit and even better it was big enough that we had cake for the next four days!
After dinner we all played some more Super Nintendo and Valentino got the place of honor of SB’s lap – complete with comfy blanket.
The following weekend we kept up the Valentine’s Day theme with some lovely flower bath soaps that SB had received as a gift. These were profoundly difficult to keep Valentino and Pig from eating because they smelled really good. Fortunately the prospect of a bad stomach ache was enough to dissuade them (for now).
While the festivities were mostly about SB and Valentino, I was also gifted with another bottle of scotch – and it just so happened to be the most expensive one so far (though as I’ve learned, my definition of “expensive” and hardcore scotch-drinkers’ version of “expensive” are too very different things, e.g. to me $60 is not “quite affordable” – lol – but I guess when some bottles are $45,000 I guess it’s all relative).
I used that acquisition as another opportunity to do a “taste off” this time between the newly acquired Aberlour 12 and the Glendiffich 12 I’d been working on. Unlike some of my earlier tastings, this one had a clear winner in the Aberlour 12 for me.
I’ve yet to get a scotch that I just hated but this versus match made it clearly obvious that my palate has now learned enough about scotch over the past six bottles that I am discovering more about what I like.
Beyond that – lingering cake aside – the weekend and subsequent week saw the Taco Household return to normal. I mentioned earlier that it’s been cold here, well, as with scotch prices cold is generally relative. For example, we’ve had a few days in January and February that just were not cold, I’m talking like 72 degrees. However, the past few days (as of me typing this) have been actually cold (low 30s). I think a few days of really strong wind brought that on. We’ve been told that March is incredibly windy here (oh lawds, us and wind) but before this cold front we had a couple of majorly windy days – so windy that a bunch of sand got blown in the from the desert and necessitated me cleaning off a bunch of electronics in the office.
While we were having our subsequent windy days it was fairly sunny and still decently warm, just very windy. But then the clouds and cold moved in (and the wind stayed, though not as intense) and one day we even woke up to snow!
It’s probably hard to see in that photo, not only due to the compression, but also because as I’ve discussed in the past the snow here tends to be decently limited. Valentino was a very happy boy, at least when the heater wasn’t turning on. We keep it set at 68 for cost/environmental reasons, so on sunny days (even cold ones) the heater doesn’t turn on much. As such this has given us insight into the fact that Valentino does not seem to like when the heater runs. 😛
Fortunately the cloudiness was only really intense for two days. Sure, the cold hung around a bit longer but when the sun is out the cold is much less intense. 38 degrees with clouds is far different than 38 degrees with sun here. I suppose the better weather was also fortunate for the folks whose car broke down in front of our apartment.
This might seem like an odd thing to post, the random misfortunes of another person who I don’t know, but I swear we live in the desert version of the Bermuda Triangle for automobiles. There have been an absurd number of cars break down in front of our apartment. Realistically I’m sure it has to do with traffic routes and flows and where we live in relation to them, but it’s WEIRD how many cars end up broke down directly in front of where we live. In the relatively short time time we’ve lived here I’ve seen more cars break down than I think I have at any previous residence of my entire life.
So yeah, that’s odd. In hindsight I can’t help but wonder if Tristen is involved. 😛
Anyways, that’s all for this episode of Dinosaur Bear. I hope you all had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day (whether it’s loving Valentine’s Day, loving to hate Valentine’s Day, or if you are indifferent that you just had a good day). We celebrated our round of birthdays and Valentine’s goodness with lots of family time and good food: hard to beat that!
As a closing thought we recently received a special mystery package, but the powers that be have informed me that I can’t reveal its contents to you lay-folk just yet. 🙂
Until next time,