Saturday, December 4, 2010

So It Still Doesn't Feel a Lot Like Christmas

So I spent all my blogging time today updating my blog design to match the holiday season. At this point I am really trying hard to make myself believe it's Christmastime already. Texas has not seemed to get the memo about Christmas being so soon. It is just ridiculous that it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the mosquitoes are still thriving this late in the year. This time last year we had snow in Texas!

To get me into the mood of Christmas, I have spruced up my blog design and added a Christmas music playlist to the bottom of my blog that will play as soon as the page loads. I've tried to play different kinds of music from different artists, but I couldn't help putting 3 of Mariah Carey's songs on the playlist. I just love so much of her Christmas work. If anything can make it feel like Christmas, these songs can.

A cold front is supposed to move in tonight, which I will welcome with open arms. Tomorrow morning my kids from the afterschool program where I work will be performing in a Christmas special during a church service. They have been practicing for this Christmas program every day for a while, and I will be so proud to see them finally show off all of their hard work.

Maybe it will feel more like Christmas after it becomes chilly tomorrow and I get to listen to the children's Christmas carols. Does it feel like Christmas where you are?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Trying New Things on Thanksgiving

I know it has been about a week since Thanksgiving, and you probably don't want to hear about Thanksgiving again until next year, but I finally put up the pictures of the food we made this year.

This Thanksgiving, my sister, Jessie, and I wanted to contribute to the feast, especially since we were hosting Turkey Day at our place this year. My grandma and papa were busy at work creating a new kind of pumpkin custard that would suit everyone's allergies and diets. Jessie and I wanted to try something new, easy, and healthy(ish), so I scoured the internet for recipes. I settled on poached pears and a Moroccan carrot salad called parve.

Here is the recipe we used for the poached pears:


Read more about it at,1613,150171-236192,00.html
Content Copyright © 2010 - All rights reserved.
6 oz. frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrated
1 c. water
12 pears, firm but ripe
1 (3 inch long) cinnamon stick
Mix cranberry juice concentrate with water in a pot large enough to hold pears in a single layer. Partially peel pears (4 or 5 strips lengthwise). Add pears and cinnamon sticks to cranberry juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 12 minutes. Turn pears once. Cool in saucepan. Serve with liquid and cinnamon. For festive dessert garnish with thinly sliced lemon. Serves 6.

We wanted to double the recipe, but when Jessie went to the supermarket, she had trouble finding enough fresh pears to even make the original recipe. She was eventually able to find everything on our shopping list except for the cranberry juice. The frozen juice aisle only had cranberry/raspberry juice, so that's what we got.

We decided to poach the pears on Wednesday night, in case we needed to buy a replacement dessert on Thursday. The strips on the pears were a great idea from the recipe, because the exposed parts of the pears were died pink by the cranberry juice, resulting in a more festive-looking desert. We ended up boiling the pears much longer than the recipe called for, because the pears did not seem to soak up enough of the juice. The resulting pears looked like this:

I'll definitely be doing more fruit poaching in the future, because I loved how soft these pears were. They got even softer after soaking in the fridge for a few days. The fruit will also stay good for much longer, just like canned fruit, because of the sugar.

Thursday morning, Jessie and I started on the parve. Jessie really did the whole thing, from slicing and cooking the carrots, to spicing it up. The whole process did not take long at all, aside from the cooling. Here's the recipe we used:

Moroccan Carrot Salad (Parve)


  • 6-7 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring water, with salt, to a boil.
2. Add the carrot rounds to the pot. Boil for 8 minutes.
3. Drain. Rinse under cold water.
4. In a small bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin and paprika.
5. Pour dressing over carrots and mix well.
6. Season with salt and pepper.

The sauce for the parve turned out really really garlicky, so Jess suggested that we add sugar, which was a good idea. We agreed that next time we'd add even more sugar, as the garlic was a little too strong. The carrots went over really well at Thanksgiving; a lot of people seemed to like them. I myself, thought they were a little too bitter. I tasted them later, and realized that they tasted better the longer they were in the fridge. Next time I'll make it a few days in advance. Here are the pictures of the parve:

The picture above shows my great-aunt's potato salad. That was probably my favorite thing from this Thanksgiving dinner. It had such interesting ingredients, like apples, olives, and hot dogs. I'd have never put those ingredients together myself, but after trying the salad, I found out how delicious it was.

Grandma and Papa's pumpkin custard turned out really great too. The pumpkin custard was set apart from other custards in the way the texture tasted. It was not a regular custard, and that made for a nice twist.

I wonder what interesting new dishes we'll be trying next year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

TJ's Movie Reviews: From Classic to Not-Quite-So Classic* Part I

*Any movie reviews under this title are written by
film critic T.J. Morrow.

The Deer Hunter

A heart wrenching movie about how the Vietnam war affected a group of friends. Though the movie was very sad around the end, it was very hard for me to get that that emotional point, because the movie was hard to get into at first. The wedding scene went on forever. I was half asleep by the time it ended. I'm not quite sure why they did that during the filming. I'm sure some reviewers would say that it was filmed like that to get the viewer to know the characters more and to fully understand the horror the war caused to the families. I didn't quite get that. I think the time used for the wedding scene could have been used better.

I also thought the naked DeNiro scene was just unnecessary. It seemed thrown in the movie just to fulfill the actor's need to show his dedication to the film.

But all that aside, it was not bad. The acting all around was good. What saved the movie from being a total waste of time was the fine acting by almost everyone involved in the picture. De Niro's emotionally restrained character was well done, while Christopher Walken's final scene was truly an Oscar-worthy performance. Also, the use of the song, "God Bless America" at the end of the movie seemed pretty significant to me. I felt as if it was a song of innocence lost and patriotism. It could be interpreted that each character had a different view of America and Vietnam. The movie never quite says what the characters feel, but it doesn't have to.

I just wish more of the movie was in Vietnam and not at a wedding after-party.

My rating for The Deer Hunter: 3.5/5 stars

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Doctor Who Christmas Special

It's been a while since I've written a Doctor Who related post, which seems crazy, because after all, my url is Jennifer the Whovian. I really have no excuse, but I have not seen a Doctor Who episode in ages! The fifth season ended in June, and since then I have been dying for another hit of the show. Matt Smith has not been my favorite Doctor, but I am desperate enough to watch anything about Doctor Who right now.

Since I had no idea when the new season would begin, I started surfing for Doctor Who news on blogs. I rediscovered my go-to Doctor Who blog:

The video I found there, and have now embedded here has revived hope in me. Perhaps after you see this brief teaser trailer, you'll understand why.

Am I crazy to be stoked about a Doctor Who/Scrooge crossover? Now I am left with the question: Is Doctor Who visiting a Scrooge-like character in real life, or has he somehow found a way to enter the fictional realm of Charles Dicken's book, A Christmas Carol?

At this time, I am guessing that the writers will opt for the cop-out that Dickens' character Scrooge was probably based on a real-life character. On my part, I wish that they would visit book characters, as improbable as that might be, because then the opportunities for fictional crossovers would be limitless!

What do you make of this preview?

Update from Planet Gallifrey: This Christmas episode of Doctor Who will be airing on December 25, 2010. I will probably have to wait a little longer to watch it, as I am in the United States and do not have all of the British channels.