Coping with Holiday Travels

Travels with chef


December 26, 2019

I just returned from a quick trip to Southern California, which started with a visit to my sister in Laguna Hills. Conveniently, I scheduled my flight to arrive at dinner time because Laguna Hills has a very dynamic Asian community, and I was ready for some good sushi or Chinese food. We settled on a wonderful Chinese restaurant, where the special that night was Peking Duck. Needless to say, we enjoyed it!

Two days later, I headed up to Los Angeles for work and to visit friends, where I happily ate sushi every day, lunch and dinner. Subconsciously I think I was trying to grow fins, to swim back to Washington instead of facing the Friday before Christmas holiday travel insanity at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). However, I stuck with convention and flew home, along with Daniel, (the chef). Traveling at the holidays is never fun, but adding Daniel to the mix, may be karma for many of my past sins. He, like my sister, does not handle glitches in travel well. A flight delay or change of gate can throw them a curveball. I finally found a solution!

I promise this is not a paid advertisement but, thank you Alaska Airlines. As an Alaska Air credit card holder, I can purchase a day pass to the Alaska Lounge for $25. In fact, there is even a “2 for 1,” so I can purchase one for me and it includes a guest. Considering there is decent food, comfortable chairs, lots of outlets and charging stations, along with giant TVs and an open bar, it’s well worth the $25.00. Undeniably, it made our wait time at LAX more palatable. It almost makes holiday travel tolerable.

We arrived back in Waitsburg late Friday night, after another delay in Seattle, (which we spent relaxing in the lounge, compliments of our $25-day pass), to unusually warm weather. I’d like to take credit and say I brought the warm weather with me from Los Angeles, but I’m sure mother nature would not appreciate my conceit.

My personal chef, Daniel, is here, and in three days, I’ve already eaten better than I did for the past month. We went to shop in Walla Walla and discovered a new butcher shop (Butcher, Butcher), where we stocked up. On Saturday, he made light-as-a-feather meatballs; he ground the beef, pork, mortadella and beef bacon himself. To my surprise, he gave the stamp of approval to my homemade tomato sauce. I, like most Waitsburgundians, had a bumper crop of tomatoes, which have been made into a number of iterations of sauce and stashed in the freezer.

Last night, he made sous vide collar steaks; up next are braised short ribs, potato sausage cooked in a local craft beer, and ham hocks that will be made into split pea soup. Then we’ll head back to the butcher shop for round two.

And, there is another bonus to having Daniel here. He is using his carpentry skills to build shelves, redo kitchen shelving and cabinetry, and he’s reorganizing the laundry-room/pantry, and adding shelves in the upstairs bedroom nook.

I went running yesterday, I will run again today and the day after, and the day after that. It’s worth it to eat as well as I will be through the holidays, and along with his home improvement undertakings, I’m enjoying this holiday season.

Of course, first we had to purchase a microscale for measuring his tea leaves. Because, Daniel’s morning tea is a major culinary endeavor, a science project and a ritual. And I have learned, you don’t mess with chefs and their rituals.


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