Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Beef Cook-Off 2009

What a great time we all had in Sonoma!!!! Sarah was a PRO cook and every part of her recipe preparation turned out AWESOME!!!! She worked so well under pressure -- even when the cameras were all around .....

Even with the heat reaching 100 degrees, she kept her cool! She was grilling outside and preparing her recipe "Beef 'California Roll' Salad".

When it came time for the big gala dinner and awards show, she was so cute in her sparkly purple cocktail dress! We had a delightful dinner of the best steak I believe I've ever tasted. Then came the awards. Unfortunately, Sarah did not receive one of the monetary awards, but the memories she has and the love of cooking are more precious than anything in the bank! She's already come up with new ideas for the next contest!

Here are all 15 contestants at the 2009 National Beef Cooking Contest held in Sonoma, CA on September 23. Information about the contest can be found at .

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sonoma, Monday -- Who Stole the Airport!?!?

So, our day started at 3:15 am. We were flying out of Springfield which is about an hour drive, so we were driving before the sun came up. As we neared the exit, we saw a different sign with different directions to "the airport". We thought perhaps it was a private air field. Well, apparently not! When we got to where we had "left the airport" last time we used it (!) -- it was a total ghost town! Apparently there is a new airport which has replaced the airport we were used to using. After a few minutes of nervous looking we found the new airport and things seemed good until they couldn't find our names on the computer. Apparently our last name was spelled wrong in the database, but soon all was well and we were on our way to California (by way of Dallas!).

Both flights were actually on-time and a wee bit early! We arrived in San Fran, took a shuttle to Sonoma and checked into one of the most wonderful and beautiful hotel/resorts I have seen. The Lodge at Sonoma is just gorgeous. The grounds are covered in various plants including pomegranate trees, lime trees, Asian pear trees, and so much more. We are in a villa style room with a leather couch, fireplace, vaulted ceilings and patio area. We are being totally spoiled! The lobby even has cucumber and lemon water which Sarah thinks is so cool.

Uncle Chuck picked us up at the hotel and took us on a great tour of Sonoma. We saw the vineyards and several of the quaint housing areas. And we LOVED seeing Uncle Chuck's house. He has the most gorgeous yard where he is growing table grapes which are undescribably delicious (last photo below), kiwi (photo below), black walnuts, oranges and tons of flowers and trees. Just stunning! Then we had a delicious dinner on the Sonoma Square followed up by a walk completely around the square including a little bit of window shopping. Thanks Uncle Chuck!

Tomorrow starts all the cook-off fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Off to Sonoma!

The bags are packed and the mini powdered sugar donuts are ready for the morning. Yep, that means we are heading off to Sonoma! We've packed the laptop, movie camera and digital camera. We'll be posting updates along the way.

Sarah prepares her marinade and beef on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning is the actual cook-off where she'll grill the beef and prepare her other items. The awards ceremony is Wednesday night and we probably won't know the outcome until 9 pm Pacific time, but we'll be sure to post. I know most of our Midwestern family and friends will be asleep then. But should Sarah win a cash prize, no matter where you are on the globe I'm sure you'll hear her screaming with joy!

Thanks so much for all the good wishes you've sent to Sarah! It means SO MUCH!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Two Weeks Until Sonoma!

Whew! Two weeks until we're in Sonoma!! Watch out National Beef Cooking Contest! Sarah did her recipe as a timed practice run yesterday and was very pleased with the results. The contest folks have her preparing the marinade and marinading the beef the night before the contest (20 minute time limit for this portion) and then she has 50 minutes on the actual cook-off day to prepare the vegetable components, grill the beef, assemble the final dish and have it to the judges.

We ran to the store today to pick up several cucumbers so she can practice using the mandolin slicer. Previously she was hand slicing the cucumbers but she's worried she may not be cutting them even enough so we're trying a mandolin slicer which takes a bit of practice. So if anyone is in the mood for a bag filled with sliced fresh cucumbers, you know where to find us!

On Saturday, we spent several hours bouncing around the mall. Sarah tried on more dresses than I care to think about and finally settled on a really pretty black and purple one that she'll wear to the awards dinner after the cook-off. It has sparkly "bling" and therefore it's right up her alley! And, being Sarah, she picked out matching earrings, a bracelet and over sized floral cocktail ring which is just adorable on her.

As the time gets closer she's getting more and more excited ... and nervous ... but I think the excited will win out in the end.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Family Day!

Sorry to have not posted in a awhile! It's been a whirlwind around here! Sarah started high school and Kevin is back to school as well. I'm happy to report that Sarah is loving high school.

So, you may be asking what those crazy folks in the photo above are doing? Well, that would be Sarah and Kevin dancing in the basement ...... in celebration of "Family Day"! Today is the 2 year anniversary of the day Kevin, Sarah and I became a family! YEAH!!! We'll actually be celebrating tomorrow with dinner out as tonight if busy with homework and preparing for a graphic design test tomorrow. But rest assured there will be merriment and fun tomorrow!

Hope everyone is doing well and I'll try to be better about blogging in the more timely manner!