Thursday, December 31, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Here's my menu for today! And yes, while it is customary to do 7 fishes, I can never stop at just 7. This year, I'm incorporating 12 different kinds of fish into the menu. The more, the merrier!
Links to recipes provided, where applicable. I've also put some "notes" at the bottom, and will post pictures in a few days, when all of the festivities are done.
UPDATE: Photos added!
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Fried Calamari (middle tray)
Posted by Lisa Yak at 7:00 AM
Monday, December 21, 2015
Every year at Christmastime, it's become a tradition for me to make "Rainbow Cookies," also known as Seven Layer Cookies. They're a lot of work because there are so many steps to the process, and they take two days to make (most of that is time spent setting up in the refrigerator). It's a challenge every time I make them, and once I start, it's a great reminder of why I only attempt them once a year.
To get the recipe at Epicurious, click HERE
They turned out great, with a minimal amount of extra effort, given all of the other steps in the process. It's a great way to use every bit of that precious cookie batter, too!
|Rainbow cookie cake pops!|
Posted by Lisa Yak at 9:15 PM
Christmas Eve 2015 marks the 25th "Festa dei Sette Pesci" (Feast of the Seven Fishes) that I will have hosted. Over the next few days, I'll be posting pictures and recipes from years past, along with the menu for this year's celebration.
With just 3 days to go, it's time to start soaking that baccala--get to it!
If you've never worked with this stuff,
be prepared--it's very pungent!
|Baccala Alla Vesuviana|
This is baccala in a spicy tomato sauce. I made it in 2014, and it was terrific.
I used Mario Batili's recipe, which you can find HERE.
I made this in 2010. I don't recall which recipe I used,
but THIS ONE from the Food Network is pretty close.
I enjoyed it, but it didn't go over as well as
the Vesuviana did a few years later.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 6:30 AM
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Posted by Lisa Yak at 7:22 PM
Saturday, December 5, 2015
It just so happens I was baking Christmas cookies today, so the timing of this discovery was certainly serendipitous.
Following the recipe in the manual, I made a batch of Holiday Butter Cookie dough, and made cookies in two shapes: trees and hearts.
Not gonna lie--this thing is not as easy to use as you'd think. The dough has to be just the right consistency, not too cold and stiff, not too warm and sticky. I had a few "fails", but ended up with about two dozen cookie so far that look pretty good. Looking forward to experimenting with this new contraption and making some more cookies tomorrow!
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:37 PM
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Hands down. No contest. Mic drop.
Now if you'll pardon me, I have to go search these out online. I still haven't been able to find them in stores, and I need these in my life.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 11:04 PM
Friday, November 20, 2015
This blog is mostly just my own musings, and food reviews, and other random ramblings, but every once in a while, I do try to share information of value--IF it's something I truly believe in.
You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook!
Posted by Lisa Yak at 9:48 PM
Wow. This John Lewis Christmas ad is absolutely beautiful, and it made me think of my Dad. He was an electrical communications engineer, and he worked on the Gemini and Apollo space projects for NASA. He helped design the circuit boards that were used in the lunar module, and because of that, his name is written on a scroll that was left on the Moon.
He's been gone for almost exactly 9 years now, but I still think of him every single day, especially when I look up at the Moon.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:55 PM
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Posted by Lisa Yak at 11:14 PM
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
I remember all to well the events of September 11, 2001, waiting anxiously for my eldest two children to come home from school so that I could help them process what had happened that morning in New York City at the World Trade Center. School officials had done their best to keep the children shielded from the news, but in the age of technology and cell phones, rumors starting trickling through during their bus ride home. My 7-year-old and 5-year-old came running in, wide-eyed, telling me they'd heard on the bus that a plane had hit the junior high school. Evenutally, they learned all about what had happened, and for many months afterwards, any plane passing overhead was met with a fearful upwards glance.
My heart goes out to the children of Paris, and to their parents, who will be dealing with the trauma from this terrrorist attack for years to come.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 1:13 PM
Monday, November 16, 2015
Last night, a commercial for Campbell's soup depicted a young boy at mealtime, along with his Star Wars-obsessed dad...and, his other Star Wars-obsessed dad.
I thought the commercial was cute, but I knew immediately that there would be people who found it offensive, and point to it as an example of the "gay agenda."
Honestly, THIS COMMERCIAL by Campbell's, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, is the REAL culprit when it comes to being offensive. Double dipping--the horror!
But really. It's just soup, people.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 7:28 AM
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:32 AM
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Yes, Hallmark's "Countdown to Christmas" has been in full swing for two weeks already, with a daily lineup of holiday-themed movies to choose from. I'll admit it--they're my guilty pleasure this time of year.
Unfortunately, not all of these sappy romance movies are worth tuning in for--some are painfully trite and obvious--but every once in a while, there's a gem hidden in there that is absolutely worth watching.
The Nine Lives of Christmas is one of my favorites. It's a heartwarming story about a veterinary student named Marilee and a firefighter named Zachary, who meet and bond over their love of cats, while facing down some serious trust issues and emotional baggage. LOL...yes, it sounds hokey, but trust me, you'll enjoy it. CLICK HERE to watch it on Vimeo, or check the Hallmark Channel schedule to see when it airs next.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:42 PM
Friday, November 13, 2015
Last year when my daughter started high school, we had to adjust to a new bus stop: instead of being located right outside my next door neighbor's driveway, the high school stop is 1/4 mile away, at the top of our long, steep hill. No more waiting inside until the last second on a cold, blustery day--now, if she wants to make it in time for the bus, she has to leave the house at least 6 minutes ahead of the scheduled pickup window, lugging a huge backpack, laptop, and lunchbox for a power-climb to the top.
Yes, it is important to teach a teenager about the importance of responsibility, and I'm sure there are those who believe that forcing her to brave the elements and experience that heart-pounding dash every morning would help her "build character."
But I'll let you in on a little secret: sitting with her in the car for those few minutes at the bus stop, often bleary-eyed myself and in need more coffee, is the highlight of my day.
Teenagers can be notoriously difficult to communicate with, but each morning, waiting for that bus, I've got a captive audience. I keep my cell phone firmly in my pocket, and as we watch the sun rise in front of us, we take that time to talk about the day ahead. Those still-sleepy morning minutes are when she's most likely to tell me about things that are weighing on her, and also the time she's most receptive to encouragement and advice. Our bus stop bonding has brought us closer, and I treasure it.
Now that she's a Sophomore, we've added a new element to the mix: two boys from our street who I've known since they were born, both in their Freshman year. As someone who has no sons, these mornings are now even more special for me. I love observing the differences between how these young men are first thing in the morning, as compared to what I've experienced raising teenage girls. Every once in a while--usually on a Friday, when the excitement of the weekend is building--I see a flash of the carefree little boys I remember, riding bikes and skinning knees. Then they hop out of the car and I am jolted back to reality when I see that both of them are now taller than I am.
The first time I showed up at the bus stop on a rainy day, and urged the boys to get in to stay dry, I could see the conflict in their eyes: struggling with their feelings of obligation to "tough it out" and deal with the downpour in stride, while wanting to take refuge from the elements. The deciding factor? Deference for a mother-figure, when I roll down the window in exasperation and say, "Oh for heaven's sakes, get in, I'm cold looking at you!" Their respectful compliance speaks to the strong relationship each has with their own mother.
So, in addition to keeping up on things with my daughter, this new dynamic also has me doing a quick check on ESPN.com most mornings, lest I be unaware of the newsworthy football scores from the night before. The kids and I talk about everything and anything, from boring school assemblies and difficult exams they're worried about to their favorite after-school clubs and the new movie coming out this weekend that everyone wants to see.
Once the school bus comes into view, I wish them all a good day, and they reluctantly trudge to the corner, but not before thanking me for the chance to "relax in a nice warm car" for awhile.
Believe me, kids--the pleasure is all mine.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:30 AM
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I only post links to videos on this blog that are absolutely "click worthy," and this one is no exception. It's from an article on Shutterbug about a fascinating experiment, where 6 different photographers were each given the same subject to capture on film. The twist? The subject's backstory was changed for each photographer: one was told he was shooting a self-made millionaire, while another was advised her subject was a just-released ex-convict.
The results are astounding, and proof-positive that professional photographers possess a talent and an artistry that deserves to be appreciated.
VIEW THE ARTICLE AND VIDEO HERE: http://www.shutterbug.com/content/lab-pushes-boundaries-photography-decoy
Posted by Lisa Yak at 11:54 PM
Today, Pope Francis advised families to turn off their cell phones, televisions and other electronic devices during meal times, and focus on conversing with one another. This seems like common sense to me, so the fact that it's making headlines and is considered a bold and revolutionary idea is surprising.
I agree with the Pope's advice 100%. In my home, meal time has always been a daily opportunity for my husband, my children and me to sit down together and converse about what's going on in each other's lives. It's when we hear about the latest drama at school, a new dream or goal for the future that is starting to take shape, upcoming weekend plans, or just a silly joke that someone overheard in the cafeteria. We share our ups and downs, offering a daily dose of love and support, and reinforcing the concept that we are all connected as a family unit.
As a parent, having a sit-down dinner as a family is a valuable time for sharing and staying plugged in to what my children are feeling and thinking, and it saddens me to think this daily ritual for us is more the exception than the rule for others.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 3:34 PM
Friday, November 6, 2015
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Seen today at the Phoenix Zoo:
I love this. Anyone can dedicate a memorial bench or plant a tribute tree, so Arlene's family took things to a whole other level.
I never had the pleasure of knowing her, but I'm willing to be she had a great sense of humor.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 12:33 PM
Sunday, November 1, 2015
I was skeptical about not mixing anything, but I tried it, and it was fantastic. Somehow, all of the ingredients came together, and it was like apple cobbler.
It got me thinking about other variations, so today, I tried the same basic technique using two cans of cherry pie filling, one box of chocolate fudge cake mix, and two sticks of butter. The video I saw on Facebook shows the sticks of butter being placed right on top, but I decided to cut them up into pieces to make sure the butter was evenly distributed. It worked out great--absolutely delicious, and so easy. Definitely going to stock these ingredients in the pantry this Winter for a fast, simple dessert.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 9:34 PM
Monday, October 26, 2015
I just saw this commercial for Campbell's Organic Soup, and I am horrified! See if you can catch why:
She puts the spoon to her mouth, tastes the soup, and then STICKS THE WET SPOON RIGHT BACK INTO THE POT WITHOUT WASHING IT FIRST. Disgusting!!
This is why I can't eat anyone else cooking except my own. Blech!
Posted by Lisa Yak at 9:13 PM
Friday, October 23, 2015
I went to visit my daughter in Pennyslvania today, and this afternoon, we went for a walk to the campus of Eastern University--a location we call "the happy place." It's a Christian university that integrates faith, reason and justice into the curriculum, and the deeply-rooted spirituality that exists there is palpable. It's difficult to explain, but the moment I step foot on the grounds, there is a feeling of peace and serenity that washes over me. It is a place that exudes positivity, and hope, and yes, happiness.
These are two photos I took today--they barely do this beautiful place justice.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 6:24 PM
Monday, October 19, 2015
Saw this great quote in Reader's Digest regarding the value of protests:
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:07 AM
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Hussey is a photographer who created images of elderly people looking at their own reflections, which have been superimposed with a photo of their much-younger self.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 11:28 AM
Monday, September 28, 2015
I know everyone means well, but "better safe than sorry" is exactly the kind of thinking that perpetuates internet hoaxes and scams. Please THINK before you blindly share a warning on your Facebook account...better yet, check a site like HoaxSlayer.com or Snopes.com to see if it's actually true before you spread it around.
Disney is not giving away a free vacation, Tiffany's is not going to send you a diamond ring just because you share a status, and Facebook isn't going to suddenly protect your privacy just because you declare publicly that they are not the boss of you.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 7:38 PM
Friday, September 11, 2015
Although this day will always be filled with painful memories, especially for those of us who call the NYC-metro area home, it's also a day to remember how strong and united we are in the face of adversity. There will always be evil forces in this world, spreading hate and fear, seeking to destroy the traditions and values of the United States, but they will never prevail. You may knock us down, but we will always get back up, rising taller and stronger than before.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 7:38 AM
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
I didn't buy it--mostly because of the high calories and sodium content--but I'm really curious as to how this would taste. I'm also wondering what it's like for the person who tries to brew coffee on the same machine right after someone else has made soup. Yikes.
The way it works, as far as I could tell from reading the package, is that you put a packet of freeze-dried veggies and other spices into a mug, and then "brew" the broth of the soup using a K-cup.
If anyone out there is brave enough to try this, let me know what you think!
CLICK HERE TO FIND THIS PRODUCT ON AMAZON.COM
Posted by Lisa Yak at 9:31 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2015
I got a phone call today that I have been dreading. I knew this day would come eventually, but when it did, I was still unprepared.
My dear friend, Dorothy, a woman I've known for 30 years, has died. She had a zest for life that, to this day, is unmatched by anyone else I've ever met. Until recently, I had no idea how old she actually was--she was always so vibrant and strong and a force to be reckoned with. When the friend who is handling her affairs called and told me she had passed away earlier this month, I was shocked, despite the fact that I knew she was 97 years old.
I worked for Dorothy in the law library at Fordham Law School, when I was an undergraduate student, as part of the work-study program. She was the Acquisitions Librarian, and the best boss I ever had. She was SO intelligent, with a razor-sharp wit and wicked sense of humor. She was strong and independent and didn't take crap from anyone. She loved to laugh, and cherished her friends. She was a woman without guile, without pretense: you always knew where you stood with her, good or bad.
She used to bring in a bottle of wine on Fridays in the summer time, and after we cashed our weekly paychecks at the bank, we'd share a liquid lunch and head home early to start the weekend.
When she went on vacation, I stayed at her beautiful NYC apartment in Greenwich Village to babysit her cat. I was only 19 years old, still living with my parents and commuting to school every day, and those precious days gave me a glimpse of what her life was like: unmarried, untethered, able to come and go as she pleased, living in the best city in the world.
The thing I remember most about Dorothy was her laugh--it was a loud, cackling sound that reverberated through the office, making it impossible not to join in. She loved calling her friends at work and telling the receptionist in a low, almost growling tone, "Yes, I'd like to speak to Mitzi please. It's Faye Dunaway calling." She also did a fine Elizabeth Taylor.
Dorothy's gift was being able to listen to a problem or issue that I was having, immediately assess the big picture, and zero in on the best course of action. She minded her own business, but she knew how to choose her moments, and when she did offer advice, I always listened. And she was always right.
We kept in touch over the years, through my graduation, on through my various full-time jobs in my chosen career. We met up for lunch now and again, catching up right where we'd left off, polishing off a bottle of wine and laughing the entire time.
Eventually, I got married, moved to the suburbs, had children, but still, my relationship with Dorothy endured. We saw each other less and less as the years went on, but always called each other for birthdays and holidays. Sometimes, a thought of her would pop into my head, completely unbidden, and sure enough, within a day or two, she would call. We had some sort of telepathic connection that cannot be explained.
The last couple of times I spoke with her--for her birthday, and then again on my own birthday--she sounded tired. I knew I needed to go and see her again, and very soon. We had plans to get together in September, when the weather was a bit cooler and she might be able to go outside for a few hours (the humid dog days of a NYC summer were a little much for her these days). Instead, I'll be attending her memorial service next month.
I'm so sad that she's gone, but I'm even happier that I had the gift of knowing her, and the privilege of calling her my friend. I miss her so much already, and it pains me deeply to think that I will never hear her voice--or her laugh--again.
Rest in peace, dear Dorothy. You lived a long and full life, and this world was a better place for having you in it.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 9:10 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2015
One of the most painful parts of watching Josh & Anna Duggar's wedding special on TLC was when Josh serenaded his new bride with "The Loyalty Song". (see the lyrics, above)
And now, given recent events--the revelation of prior child molestation accusations against Josh, and now his being named as having an Ashley Madison account AND an OK Cupid account, all just weeks after Anna gave birth to their 4th child--his hypocrisy has reached epic proportions.
I'm not angry or outraged, I take no joy in how the Duggar's fame is unraveling...all I feel is sad. Anna Duggar is a real person. Going through something like this would be devastating for anyone, but to have it exposed and debated so publicly is even worse than I can imagine. My thoughts are with her and her kids. I hope she has someone in her life who will advocate for HER, and her only, and help her get out of what is an increasingly bad situation.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:34 AM
Monday, August 17, 2015
The original poster is Angel Smith Ruder, and I thank her for sounding the alarm about this latest privacy concern on the iPhone.
I'm always so careful about what permissions I give to apps, and yet, when I checked my settings, my past locations were listed, just like the video warns. PLEASE go to Settings on your iPhone, go to Privacy, Location Services, scroll down to System Services, and scroll to the bottom where you'll see Frequent Locations. If it says "On", you can click and see all of the places you've recently been, including the exact GPS location of your Home address.
I did NOT choose to put Frequent Locations "On", so I suspect it means this is the default setting, and that you have to go out of your way to change it. It's up to you if you do or not, but at least now you know about it and can decide for yourself.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 11:19 PM
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Usually, Amazon.com is pretty good about delivering their packages on the expected delivery date--at least, they were until recently.
Last month, in an effort to "improve" their delivery service times, they opened a satellite facility just a few towns away from where I live. Now, instead of my packages going to the main processing center, they end up at this satellite location.
Ever since, the reliability of Amazon's package tracking has gone completely downhill. I've had packages say "Out for delivery for arrival by 8pm tonight" that didn't actually arrive until two days later. And, when they do show up, it's in a sketchy-looking unmarked van driven by someone I've never seen before, rather than my usual mail carrier.
The latest debacle involved a package that said "Out for Delivery" for arrival yesterday, and then said, "Delivered." Except--we didn't receive the package yet, and no one else on my street signed for it. The shipment is most definitely not delivered, my husband logged onto his account to find out what's going on, and that's when Amazon explains that "delivered" doesn't always mean "arrived at your house when we said it was going to." In fact, on their Customer Service page, they advise waiting 36 hours before you contact the company and report the package missing, because there can be a THREE DAY lag between when the Amazon system says "delivered" and when the package actually hits your doorstep:
Posted by Lisa Yak at 8:29 PM
Friday, July 31, 2015
Unlike last year, it didn't take me long to find all 4 of the Flavor Finalists in the annual Lay's Potato Chips "Do Us A Flavor" contest--I found them all in one place, at Walgreen's.
And now, on to Biscuits and Gravy. This is the one I was most afraid to try, because I'm not actually a big fan of real biscuits with gravy. I like them separately, and I know they're hugely popular in the Southern United States, but the combo is never something I got fully on-board with. What can I say? Such a Yankee.
Posted by Lisa Yak at 3:05 PM