Ho Ping House Review

There is a new Chinese restaurant in town. I find it intriguing that Dale and I were completely on the same page with regard to the service and the food. He said, “Well, the customer service makes up for the food.” DH was like, hush! be polite! And I was thinking to myself, exactly! The jumbo shrimp was overcooked and bland. My entree, which sounds good in principle, was kind of awful. Prawns wrapped in bacon and eggs and fried. Served on a platter of vegetables in hoisin sauce. I think I’m going to reschedule my trip to the lab to get my cholesterol checked. Now, the rest of the food was actually quite good. Bob ordered the Honey Chicken. O. M. Gosh. Amazing lemon and honey sauce on batter fried chicken. The beef sticks were also good, and the crab rangoon was EYE ROLLING delicious. I mean, get a room. DH had the Dragon Meets Phoenix, (General Tso’s chicken and a seafood that he can’t remember). He said it was very good. Dale had Orange Beef; he said it was pretty good. Farley and Tori ate bits and pieces of every one’s food. We had a very sweet and competent server.

The ambience of the restaurant was very nice. Simple but elegant decor. It wasn’t overdone. Pleasant music barely audible, just the way I like it. Beautiful place settings and white tablecloths.

Ho Ping means peaceful harmony, and it seemed to work, because Farley and Tori, neither one known for their patience at restaurants, were very well-behaved. Seriously, if you can take your child with Autism to a busy restaurant, and not have a meltdown the entire time, you’ve got Peaceful Harmony going on. It was, however, pricey. It made me glad we haven’t eaten out for the previous two weeks, because that’s about how much it cost for the one meal out. Oops! So, good service, substandard shrimp/prawns, but heavenly Crab Rangoon and Honey Chicken with Lemon Sauce. I’ll give it a four out of five stars.

Cracker Buffet: You Can Do It Too

This tradition started when Dale was three. Kevin was down for a nap, and I was feeling too lazy to make macaroni and cheese. Now THAT is lazy. Anyway, we got out all of our crackers, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, grapes, PB&J, green olives and cherry tomatoes. We started ‘inventing’ crackers. Cream cheese and grapes, cream cheese and jelly, peanut butter and grapes, cheese and olives and so on. It became this thing, once every few months when we’re starving for lunch but don’t feel like cooking anything. We just bring all the ingredients to the table and start making crackers like crazy. I remember the first Cracker Buffet, because Dale and I were watching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. He was three, remember? Still willing to try any movie if it meant extra TV time.  So we’re watching the exciting scene when Malificent turns into the dragon, and Dale says, “This is a lovely movie, Mom.”

We had cracker buffet just the other day. The whole weird thing about it is DH is NEVER home when this happens. And he loves crackers. Somehow, he has never been around for our smorgasbord.  So one time the kids were telling him how we had this great lunch, and didn’t he love it when we have crackers for lunch? He didn’t know what they were talking about. I felt my face flush. I’ve been holding out on this lunch tradition for twelve years? We just did it again on Sunday. DH was at church counting tithing again, and he missed it. Okay, I promise, we will have Cracker Buffet with DH the next time. Even if it means making macaroni and cheese for my kids instead.

My Dear Sister Lucy kindly mentioned me in her blog, Finding Joy in the Journey. She also mentioned my essay that was published in Segullah, an online journal for LDS women. If you are so inclined, read and enjoy my Dandelion essay.

Cheese Fondue and Eating Ants

When I was in my teens, I heard an inspiring talk about family togetherness and family traditions. The esteemed woman mentioned that every Sunday night was Fondue night at their house. I filed that tasty little tidbit away for future ruminations, and now that I cook regularly for my family of seven, we have our own Sunday night tradition. We deep fry scones. But I’ll save that for another post. We love Cheese Fondue. I could go on and on about Fondue. DH and I went to a local Fondue restaurant called Melting Pot (maybe you have one in your area). First course, a light cheese fondue with crisp fresh vegetables and bread for dipping. Second course, gently boiling peanut oil and fresh meat, chicken, beef, seafood, cooked to your exact specifications with your own deadly skewer. Third course, Chocolate fondue served with pastries and fresh fruit. Aaah bliss. Alas, we only have one fondue pot, and we are prodigiously fond of cheese, so our little fondue meals are one course only. I, ahem, make very good French and Italian bread, so that is our dipper of choice, but because I am a good mom and just a little health conscious, I offer fresh vegetables or pretzels and crackers to dip as well. My recipe for cheese fondue consists of your basic roue (one or two tablespoons butter, one or two tablespoons flour) whisked to a bubbling thickness to which I add either warm milk or broth or both, one cup’s worth appx. Then I melt the cheese into it. Cream cheese, neufchatel cheese (guilt-free cream cheese) and any other cheese I choose…shredded Monterey Jack, for example. I season with a little salt, a little pepper (a la Alfredo) and simmer. Divine.

While stuffing my face silly, I bragged to DH how basically anything dipped in the fondue would taste good. I waved a homegrown steamed green bean under his nose. He only glanced at it, but said to anyone in general: “Get me an ant, and I’ll dip it in the fondue and eat it.” That’s my husband, would rather eat creepy crawlies than vegetables. Our son, I’ll call him Dale, wasted no time. I shouted after him, “Get one for me too.” He returned with two disoriented ants. I dipped my finger in the cheese, then got the ant and ate it. Other than a spicy little tang, I couldn’t really taste it. DH says, “I crunched it between my front teeth so I could taste it.” The verdict: Pretty much anything tastes good in this cheese sauce. He really should have just tried the bean.