Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Thanksgiving in San Diego

We've been in San Diego for our annual visit for Thanksgiving. It's been a little crazy thinking it's been a whole 'nother year. I've also been very absent from these pages.

I think it was mostly because of the habit of keeping private the happenings at UCC Longmont, and it went even further now that I am friends with dozens of very Internet-active men in their teens and twenties. They're all great people, but are very private about their private names, they keep very strictly to their gaming labels, and they've seen what fame can do both bad and good. So they're careful about not giving out private information, and I respect that.

Plus, nearly all of them are in the tldr camp, it seems. So I just don't. Or haven't. *laughs* Don't like being boring, in some ways, but it does seem like I've left the places I used to frequent all the time.

And I know that I've probably lost a lot of people already simply by not producing on a frequent basis anymore...

And that's all right for now.

I needed the time away, as I sometimes have. I've walked away from my version of the Internet, on an on-again, off-again basis with some frequency, usually a three or four year period. It's interesting to realize what kind of life events bring me back again. The summer trip was a good instance, and I still want to write about Glacier and the trip home. I have the pictures up already! *laughs*

I've been pretty much eaten by competitive TF2, learning like crazy how to be a good medic, and putting 500+ hours in the game in the last six months.

That's five minute's play on a casual game, with me as medic, sending sollys of to catapault themselves through the sky, etc. It's been an interesting time learning a lot of small things that add up into much better play than I used to be able to do.

Usually, when I join a game late in the game (only five minutes left), it means that a lot of the team has left. Also, when a bunch of us are all spawning at the same time, it mean that the team we were joining had a bunch of people leave and the way the new matchmaking works, replacements seem to come in a batch, very late. So when I join late like this I try harder, and it turned out that a lot of my late-starting teammates did the same, and the defense held tight.

Playing a video game, for me, with others, is a lot like playing music with others. Just a private jam sessions means that you don't really have anything to show for it other than getting better at the play and the experience of sharing that play with others that appreciate your skill and/or how you play with them. Recording it allows others to share the experience, much as with music

Thanksgiving has brought me a litle bit back to the real world, and on the first day we were back in San Diego, Mom asked me to make a lasagna, but without any tomato in it. Instead, I made this green lasagna, with the no-boil TJ's noodles. It had spinach, sauteed mushrooms, and sausage, layered with ricotta, their quattro formaggio blend, and topped with bechemel swirled with the last of the pesto.

It was creamy and wonderful and it was fun to make it up as I went. And it's becoming more of a family tradition to have a lasanga for one of the dinners during the week here in San Deigo, which is funny since we have an East Coast Italian friend who always makes a a lasagna for Thanskgiving itself.

We've done the usual things here, going to the beach, going to 85 degrees for Asian bakery goods, and eating a lot of amazing Chinese food at the local restaurants. Getting a lot of stuff from Trader Joe's just to nibble through the week.

I had to have the roots of my teeth laser cleaned the Tuesday before we left; and I've had to eat "soft" foods for the two weeks
after. They also put me on a series of two different antibiotics for 10 days as well. Given that they gave me nitrous and shot me with so much novacaine my lower right jaw is still tingling a little, it wasn't surprising that I've been really tired since. The localized pain and the amount of recovery I've had to do from when they went in has been tiring.

But we've still done the beach, and today we went to the Zoo and I did 12,000 steps out there. Got to see the usual elephants, pandas, bears, lions, and tigers...  and even out to the polar bears. But it was a lot of work, and after a full lunch at RakiRaki ramen, I fell over into my bed and just slept like crazy.

We were able to go to the Dumpling Inn this evening, and it included a lot of the Shanghai speciality of the small steamer buns with soup included with the filling, They were hot, tender, and really good with vinegar and ginger. Last night, we went to the Vietnamese place with roasted catfish. The catfish was served with the wrappers, pickles, fresh vegetables and fruit, and lots of rice noodles. It was so good, with two kinds of sauces, the usual fish sauce with pickles, and another bowl full of a creamy peanut sauce. The fish was huge and steaming hot with crisp skin.

Food is so important for Thanksgiving, and we've also been watching the Michael Pollan series, Cooked, which has been really good. I read his original treatise that proposed eating locally, and it as shaped a lot of how we live. Doing little to no fast food. At one point, one of the people he was interviewing said, "Try this for diet, you can eat anything, so long as you made it. Because if you have to buy the ingredients, you'll buy the best you can get, and you'll prepare it as simply as possible." And that will make it healthier than anything the food industry can sell you.

So, apple pie, a cookie, and ice cream when I get home. xD Given that we've made all of those from scratch for quite some time, it would be worth the doing. Nearly everyone who eats our hand-cranked ice cream says it's so much better than what they've ever had before. Given that I use real vanilla beans, half and half, vanilla sugar, and eggs in a custard that I slow cook, it's understandable. *laughs*

The turkey will be the day after tomorrow, and Mom's getting a fresh local one, and I'll be cooking it.

For those that are interested in the lasagna recipe here's what I can recreate of it. I'm writing it down for my Mom and sister, but thought it wouldn't hurt to have it for anyone that wants it.

Green Lasagna

1 pkg of no-boil noodles
1 lb full fat ricotta
1 egg
3 cups milk, split into 1 cup and 2 cups
1 lb Italian sausage, removed from skins, and browned.
1 lb chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry of water
8 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 - 7 oz tub of Genova Pesto
3 Tbs butter, split into 1 Tbs and 2 Tbs
2 Tbs flour
1 - 12 oz bag TJ's Quattro Formaggio cheese blend

  1. Saute the mushrooms in one tablespoon of butter, until they've given up their liquids and have browned. Set aside in a bowl.

  2. Using the same pan, melt the other 2 Tbs butter, add the 2 Tbs flour, make a roux and toast until it smells toasty, with no raw flour smell. Take off the heat, and beat in 2 cups cold water, put back on the heat and bring back to a simmer, whisking or stirring constantly until it thickens. The bechemel should be gravy-like in consistency.

  3. Mix the ricotta, egg, and a cup of milk together. It should be almost batter-like in consistancy, add a bit more milk if needed to thin.

  4. Dip four noodles in the ricotta mixture, and layer with a little bit of overlap in the bottom of an 9x13" pan.

  5. Smear one spoonful of pesto on each coated noodle.

  6. Spread all of the chopped, drained, frozen spinach over the noodles.

  7. Spread a third of the Quattro Formaggio blend over the spinach.

  8. Dip and layer four more noodles, spread pesto over them as well.

  9. Spread all the sausage over the noodles. Spread another third of the cheese blend on top.

  10. Dip and layer four more noodles, spread pesto over them.

  11. Spread the sauteed mushrooms over the noodles, and put the last of the cheese on top.

  12. Dip and layer four noodles on top of the mushrooms. Pour the bechemel over the whole lasagna, spoon the remaining pesto into spots on the bechemel and run a knife or spoon in a swirling motion over the surface, dragging the pesto through the topping layer of bechemel.

  13. If the lasagna looks like it's going to be dry, pour another 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of water in along the sides, so that the liquid goes about 2/3rds of the way up the side.

  14. Start to heat the oven to 375 degrees. Let the lasagna sit for 15-20 minutes, the time it takes to let the oven come to temperature.

  15. Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. It should be tender all the way through (a butter knife sunk into the center should meet very little resistance), and browned on top. Give it another 10 minutes if the bechemel is not toasted on top.

  16. When done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 10-15 minutes (long enough to toss a salad or toast a bagette in the still hot oven) before slicing and serving hot.

Tags: beach, cooking, food, travel
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