Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017
Showing Love

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My Three Loves- My Family, My Food, My Photography, : Dear Mom

My Three Loves- My Family, My Food, My Photography, : Dear Mom: 04/26/18 Dear Mom,             I’m trying to think of what to write for your celebration on life party happening this Saturday at t...

Dear Mom

04/26/18
Dear Mom,

            I’m trying to think of what to write for your celebration on life party happening this Saturday at the Coffee Company. The very first thing that comes to mind is, how do I even imagine my life without you? For so many years now, you have been, not only my mom, but my number one friend. My BFF. My secret holder. My shoulder to cry on. That mom-friend that would listen to my sarcastic stories and laugh, enjoying my humor. You have been that person to be that I have dreamed about! Our relationship as mother and daughter had evolved into a mother-daughter-bestfriend type-ship... I called you every day, sometimes twice a day… I called you when something great happened, or when I needed a recipe and couldn’t remember the exact process. If I was out of an ingredient, I would call you to see if there was something else I could use as a substitute. We shared many talks, many laughs… I would even call you when I was feeling emotional and just needed to cry. You were always there. Now all I have are memories, photos, and recipes to savor your life and your legacy.
            We are here today as family, including friends that are family… just as you would have wanted it to be. With that all being said, your love and passion for our family will live with me forever. As a kid, we would travel near and far to be with family.  Being surrounded by family was the most important to you. You have taught me that family comes first, and blood is thicker than water (even when the blood is not the same as yours)! Thanksgiving was special!!! When I was a kid, we would get special outfits, and we always brought delicious side dishes… even though not many people LOVED the creamed onions… you loved them, and that’s all that mattered. Your brisket at Hanukkah was amazing too. And your potato latkes were the best!! I’m thankful every day that YOU taught me how to make them… even if that meant using a food processor to grate the potatoes! They were always a hit! When I make your recipes, sometimes I get complements; This is to me is validation that I’ve learned from the best!  You have passed on your cooking skills to me, and I will cherish every dish I make, in memory of you. My passion for cooking is because of you! For my birthday every year, you would make tamale pie per my request. Not only would we have it for dinner that night, but we would sit together in the morning eating it for breakfast, followed by more tamale pie for lunch, and then again for dinner the following night. It was one of those meals that we could eat for a week and love every single bite. You always cooked for an army, so we would usually have no choice but to eat it for a week.
Because of you, I grew up watching I Love Lucy, and the Food Network religiously. Therefore, I have a special love for the I Love Lucy show with Lucy and Ethel’s Friendship Sisterhood, and I grew up loving the art of cooking. We celebrated your 60th birthday with Lucy present and it was the best day ever. I have also come to know, Giada, Bobby Flay, and Ina Garten. It may seem like we knew them personally, and cooked many meals with them, but that was still just a dream for the two of us! They were just  some of your inspirations in cooking, and I know they would be proud of your passion. Because of you, I have learned to love life for the days we have together, the friendships we build on, and to cook meals for those we love. You have taught me to welcome people into my home with open arms, and to send them home with full bellies of food made with love.
Lastly, because of your life long battle with illness, you have taught me what it is to treat people with compassion. You have taught me how to speak up and advocate, not only for myself, but to also advocate for others. You have taught me what the definition of strength is, because as we all know, you were the epitome of strength. I believe that your will to live and your constant activity, and refusing to sit and relax when we all told you so many times, is what kept you with us for so many more years than any of us could have ever dreamed of.  When I think of your life, the majority of it was spent in and out of hospitals. You often told me that you felt like you were literally living in hell, on earth. Mom, I can’t imagine the pain and suffering you endured for so long. I always tried to see the positive in lifes’ little, and big moments for you. I would share my thoughts often, even if you didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I honestly feel you were an angel placed here on earth from the heavens. There were so many times when the patient next to you, in a shared room, needed something from the nurse. You were there to get them the help. You would talk to the family members, consoling them, educating them, making new friends, etc… I know you would get frustrated with the doctors and nurses, who would come in one by one and ask you the same questions over and over. But think of what an educator you were for them. How many times did you self-diagnose? How many times did you tell the doctor what medication you needed and why? Still to this day, so many medical professionals aren’t familiar with Celiac, and you were their source of knowledge. How many times do you think a medical student walked away from you and thought, WOW, I learned something today!! These thoughts that I am sharing with you are just that, they are my thoughts, and my feelings. Like I said, I can’t imagine how you felt, and It’s not fair that you were so sick, but you never let that stop you from doing anything that you wanted to do.

I am thankful your pain and suffering is gone now, but my heart aches as I try to grasp the concept of you actually being gone from this life. I will live my life everyday with my memories of you, your strength, your love for food and cooking, and your love for our family. I know I can talk to you, although right now it is very difficult. I know you will always be with us… It’s not the same, but I am strong in my faith and I know we will meet again in the eternal life that is beyond this life. I’m thankful to have you as my mom…  I love you.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Married with Iz: Dirt Dog Las Vegas

Married with Iz: Dirt Dog Las Vegas: So for months now... We have been talking about going to Dirt Dog LA. I don't know if it's because we've been back to work, ...

Dirt Dog Las Vegas

So for months now... We have been talking about going to Dirt Dog LA. I don't know if it's because we've been back to work, our crazy schedules, or the fact that it's "all the way in Los Angeles," but we haven't made it out to the local location. So last weekend we were in Las Vegas visiting my mom, who was extremely ill and in the hospital. The day that we were going to be driving back home to Cali, we ventured away from the hospital for an hour or so to get a quick bite to eat before hitting the road. Much to our surprise, we came across a Dirt Dog Las Vegas! We were so excited to eat there, and thought it was funny that we had to travel all the way to Las Vegas to finally be trying some of these famous fixings! Who knew @dirtdoglv would be our first experience! Walking into the restaurant I felt like I had been transported back to LA and back in time. Tupac was playing in the background, and the place was loaded with artwork that represents the City of Angels.
Looking at the menu, we couldn't decide which dog to get, so we both ordered one and planned to share half and half. We got the Elote Dog, and the Patty Melt Dog. Unfortunately, after we ordered, our first visit to Dirt Dog took a turn for the crapper. I wasn’t super impressed. First, the girl taking our order didn't get both of our dogs in the order, so we had to do two transactions. Not a big deal... then, We ordered to sit and eat in the restaurant, but our order came to us as “to go.”
Again, not such a big deal. I did feel the presentation in the to-go container kinda killed my first impression of the dogs though. They didn't look as great as we'd been seeing via social media. Looks can be deceiving I guess, especially when there's editing features on peoples phones and whatnot. The hot dogs were ok, I didn't find them to be amazing! I felt like the elite dog needed more of a sauce. The corn was a little dry. If the make the corn into more of an esguite mixture, and then put it on the hot dog, it would have more moisture. The bun on both hot dogs were dry which made them a little hard to eat. I did like the chipotle sauce on the Patty Melt dog, but it was still lacking. Maybe it needed more cheese??


 Lastly, my drinking glass had a chip at the top, but thankfully I saw it and avoided the area. The server working the floor did bring us deep fried Oreo as a sorry for all of the mishaps... I'm bummed our experience wasn't better. I feel like maybe if we go to the one in Los Angeles, we will be able to change our perception. There is nothing more frustrating than being disappointed in food though.  #SorryNotSorry #Foodie#IHateBeingdisappointed #ILoveFood#BaconWrappedHotDog ##EloteDog#PattyMeltDog — at Dirt Dog Las Vegas.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Married with Iz: New Name...

Married with Iz: New Name...: It's been almost a year and a half since I've posted here on my blog... So much has happened in that time, and so much has changed. ...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Name...

It's been almost a year and a half since I've posted here on my blog... So much has happened in that time, and so much has changed. Most things have happened and changed for the better, of course. My kids have grown older, Isabelle is almost 9, Jacob is 7 and Claire is 5. They are all attending school at St. Rose of Lima now, so I don't have multiple drop offs and pick ups anymore, which is awesome! As of July 2017, I became officially divorced. Although I never imagined myself going through something like that... I know in my heart that it was the right decision! So many events over this last year have validated my feelings, but I won't go into details... not yet at least. With the divorce, and the sale of our house, I was able to buy a condo for the kids and I to live in. The condo is one mile from our family home, so we are still close to their school, local friends, church, etc... Everything happens for a reason and I truly believe God has a plan. Things in my life have fallen into place a little more than usual, and the small circle of people I'm surrounded by are the BEST!!!!!
With all of that being said, I need to rename my blog. I am no longer "Married With Iz." I'm open to your suggestions and would love to hear some creative ideas. I am mostly a mom, foodie, public health student, photographer,
and I love food. So what do you suggest?

Sincerely,
Ryan Nichole

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cafe Firenze Feast of the Beast 2015

I have to begin by saying that the staff at Cafe Firenze is always amazing!! They are welcoming with warm smiles, knowledgeable of the menu, seem to have a passion for food and you can tell they love their jobs- at least most of them (which is so important!). It says a lot about management when the staff is happy and that makes me want to support this business even more! 

When I first heard about this event via social media, I got really excited! If you know me, you know I love fundraisers, supporting local organizations, and I LOVE food!!!! I then made the executive decision to attend, knowing my husband wouldn't object! 

As we arrived, I was surprised to find the outdoor portion of the event enclosed by chain link fence! My party planning mind wondered why they chose such an eye sore!? Were there other material options? Was it a budget issue? Who knows... I then realized I wasn't there to critique their chain link fence decor and my foodie mind then switched to what was important! The food!!! 

I was ecstatic because this event was going to be showcasing a roasted pig, a cow and house made sausages! Being such a foodie, my mind was floating all over and my expectations were high! I haven't had the opportunity to meet Fabio yet, but I knew with his name on the event, it was going to be great! 

Entering the right side of the restaurant, we realized this is where the cow was being displayed! Honestly, I have no idea what part of the cow was being carved but it looked great!! 
Now keep in mind this was our first time attending this annual event, so we had no idea what to expect! I was a bit surprised only one beef option was being served! Don't get me wrong, the meat was tender, the bread was soft and fresh and the Gorgonzola fondue was creamy with the perfect tang! I could have gone without the bread, only because I was there just for the meat!! I actually ended up requesting a plate of just meat ;-) the chef was kind and had a fun sense of humor! He gave me a generous portion topped with the balsamic glaze and a splat of Gorgonzola fondue on the side! My mini plate was now all I needed and wanted (for that tiny moment in time). I've never thought to use a balsamic glaze on beef, but HOLY COW... (Pun intended) it was delish!

While I ate the mini plate of beef, my husband ventured out to the street taco food truck parked within the chain link fence! 
Smoked Carnitas (one of my loves) street tacos were provided my Scratch Ventura!! I cannot even begin to tell you how mouth wateringly delicious these tacos were!
The picture doesn't do these precious babies any justice! The meat was moist, tender with the perfect amount of crisp. The tomatillo salsa was flavorful with a kick, and the watermelon radish gave the tacos that little bit of crunch to satisfy my textural delight! I love cilantro on almost anything... Need I say more!? I was feeling full pleasure at that moment and could have left the event saying like Porky Pig, "Th Th Th Th Th, That's All Folks!" However, my stomach and my heart reminded me there was more to experience for these taste buds of mine!!! So until next time Scratch Ventura... 

Onward we must go... To the roasted pig we shall travel!!  
I have never seen such a pig! And to think... For 10 years I was a pescatarian! Babe was my favorite movie! Meat grossed me out, yet here I am, eating off a whole roasted pig! The pig was delish!! Very tender and moist as it should be! Nothing but the pure flavor of the pig! Served along side a tiny tiny salad with walnuts and blue cheese. Best combination- Creamy and Crunchy and Fresh! This pig has inspired me to cook more pork!

Lastly, we headed to the back of the restaurant... This is where we found the house sausages!
 The lamb sausages were served atop a fancy plop of creamy polenta, peppers, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Once again, I am tastefully satisfied! Creamy polenta with anything at Cafe Firenze is heaven sent! One of the greatest comfort foods! Before this event, I'd never had a lamb sausage! I'm not usually a fan of sausages, but the freshness and smooth texture gave me confidence to try others in the future! (My husband is cracking up as I proof read this to him by the way... He's actually crying from giggling). Describing sausage is a new thing for me ;-) My only complaint is... There weren't other options! Oh and the beer paired with the sausage was AWESOME! Great Great beer! Enegren's Special brew was fresh, and crisp with a hint of banana! Nothing says summer to me like a cold bubbly beer! Excellent job!! 
Overall this experience was great! I'm hoping the Boys and Girls Club of Moorpark reached their goals from this event!! I would have liked more of a variety in all food areas! That would be my only disappointment (and not meeting Fabio)!  The food was satisfying, the wine was good, the beer was fantastic, and the people were awesome!! For me, anything involving food, networking and a classy environment is always going to make for a nice time! Date Night with my Hubby benefiting charity... Can't wait until next year! We will be reserving a table, who's with us!?