Food and Friendship, the best ingredients….

Food & Friendship - the best ingredients.  A gift from LindaT.

Food & Friendship – the best ingredients. A gift from LindaT.

The Allrecipes peeps have been at it again, traveling from far and wide to eat, laugh, hug and welcome in the holiday season.  We welcomed visitors from Texas, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Arizona and of course California.

For a bunch of people that ‘met’ online we sure look like a bunch of ‘friends’.  Young and old, male and female, we come from all walks of life, there is no discrimination in this group.  We are foodies to the core.  It is almost impossible to put into words the camaraderie that we share.  These bonds stretch beyond food, we share both laughter and tears, joy and sorrow. Everyone is welcome, just come prepared to be filled with friendship!

This year our adventures stretched over 4 days.  Bikerfamily arrived from Washington on Thursday afternoon.  She set straight to work helping to get things in order.  The rest of the gang would be coming in on Friday and I wanted to have lunch ready for them after their long travels.  Soup and bread was on the menu.

Debbie's bread 004


Bikerfamily wanted to learn to make the No Knead Bread so it was a win / win situation.  She mixed up the dough Thursday night and we covered it and let it do it’s thing over night.  The next morning she shaped it and baked it.  I must say, it was a masterpiece.


While the bread cooled, we made the airport run, picking up LindaT and Magnolia Blossom. Last year I got busted by the airport cop for hanging out too long curbside.  Not this year! The timing was perfect and I waved to the airport cops as I circled around and quickly collected everyone.  Arriving home we were met by Jennifer from Arizona who had arrived and made herself at home.

Festival of Lights The plan for Friday evening was to head to Riverside to the Festival of Lights with dinner at Phood on Main.  Bibi and bd.weld met us at the house and we loaded into two cars and set off to Riverside.   Cathy Myers and her husband Randy met us there, as did Korikiss and her mother.   What makes Phood on Main special?  Chef Marla!


This woman should be doing standup comedy.

Chef Marla Collage

Phood on Main will be closing after the first of the year. Chef Marla’s line of spice blends has taken off and she will be concentrating on these.  If you are interested in seeing her complete line of Super $hit Spice blends or want to order some, check out her website.

There was no shortage of conversation & laughter, in fact I think we pretty much closed the restaurant. Cathy and Randy had to book it home ahead of the storm that was heading in, with snow predicted, Cathy would not be able to join us Saturday.   Hugs were passed around as we said our goodbyes and headed for the barn.

I had decided to feature LindaT’s recipe for Mama Palomba’s Spaghetti Sauce on Saturday.  Meaty and rich, this sauce has to simmer for at least 3 hours.  Knowing full well I would not want to tackle this Saturday morning, I made this on Thursday and let it rest in the refrigerator until Saturday morning.

Linda's sauce 005

Saturday morning was devoted to making the Foccacia and another No Knead Bread.   By about 11 am the gang started to arrive, bringing tons of wonderful food!

food table and Brenda A

Everyone pitched in, plating, opening wine, sampling. (One has to make sure that it is safe to serve guests, you know!)

See Marianne’s wings?  Delicious!

Restaurant Style Buffalo Wings
Marianne bakes them instead of frying. They were perfect!


Of course, every gathering needs someone like Brian. He looks innocent with his Santa hat as he shows off his gift of “Scorpion Pepper” hot sauce from LindaT.  Notice how he so innocently lures others into this Hot Sauce Dare!

Hot sauceLaura was leary, Jennifer just laughed but Xray Barb took him up on his offer!

Brian and Barb

There was certainly no shortage of food or friendship, laughter and music.

Friends Collage

Parade of food

How did I forget the parade of desserts!  So sorry for the late addition!

Parade of Desserts

Real Strawberry Cupcakes

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Lemon Stars

Milk Chocolate Florentines

Jan’s Apple Bars

Candice’s Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Gift Grab


One of the fun things we do is to ask everyone to bring a gift for a gift grab.  The first year we did this, nobody stole anything, they were just way too polite.  Times have changed!  You notice Marianne quickly hiding her bottle of olive oil and Lora admiring her bottles of olive oil? Last year, I swiped Lora’s olive oil and Marianne was sure I would do the same to her this year.  I wasn’t me that tried to swipe that lovely bottle of olive oil, I do believe it may have been Patty Cakes!  After a bit of swiping, re-swiping and a lot of laughter,  Marianne reclaimed that bottle of oil.

The evening wore on and peeps had to say goodbye and get on the road home. The weather was terrible for Southern California.  I think those gals from the Mid-West and PNW brought their foul weather with them!

Not everyone was ready to call it a night though. Linda brought the game ‘Foodie Fights’ with her, the fun and games continued well into the night.   At which point I was hungry again and managed to clear off the rest of the chicken wings all by myself!  I also laughed so hard I was almost crying, no I was crying!

Late night games


The weekend had flown by and none of us wanted it to end.

We said goodnight with the promise of meeting for breakfast.

Barb, Jennifer, Bibi, Lora, Bikerfamily, Linda, Penny

Barb, Jennifer, Bibi, Lora, Bikerfamily, Linda, Penny

 How blessed we are!  Food and friendship, the best ingredients!



Posted in Real Life permalink

About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, "Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my "name" Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don't bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


Food and Friendship, the best ingredients…. — 34 Comments

  1. BN: It was an amazing weekend! So thrilled we were able to visit with Chef Marla again. Although it won’t be quite the same without Phood on Main, I wish her the best of luck in the next endeavor. I am still basking in my expanded bread knowledge under the tutelage of the one and only Baking Nana. Need proof (pun intended)? At this moment, I have my first loaf of No-Knead Artisan Bread rising on the kitchen table! (Of course, that’s the easy part. Forming and baking it might be another story). And of course, the very best part of the weekend is meeting up with AR Friends! The end of the weekend comes way too fast. Thanks for all your help to make it possible for me to attend! Love ya!

  2. The old saying, time flies by when your having fun, couldn’t be truer. So many friends and so little time. Awesome gathering and an awesome hostess. I highly recommend to anyone that hasn’t been to an AR gathering to start thinking about it. You won’t be sorry.

    • It flew by WAY too fast! Gosh, I could do a blog on each and everyone of you. We are so lucky to have these memories, thanks for adding your special touch to another great round up!

  3. Oh, Gosh! When we were talking desserts last night, I complete forgot the hazelnut cookies and the apple bars! SO much yummy stuff! SO many great people! Never enough time! Thank you, again, for hosting such a special weekend! [I was so glad I could come Friday night – though, I wasn’t sure I was going to ever be able to park my car! Sheesh!] And it was I who stole Marianne’s lovely olive oil – but only after making sure whe would still love me, anyway 😉 Of course, she stole it back, in the end =D And I got my own lovely olive oil and balsamic vinegar (= Thank you, again! Hugs!

    • It was YOU! I should have known! 🙂 There is never enough time with these peeps! I am always left wanting more! We were missing a couple of peeps this year, we will have to do and “re-do”.

  4. Great big “SMOOCH” to our wonderful hostess and her sweet DH! I loved every minute, and I send heartfelt thanks!

    • Oh Linda! Can you believe it is over? Let’s do it again! Meow says, “Thanks for her special gift” She has been preening herself to no end! Thank you so much for bringing “foodie fights”, even if Jennifer skunked us all!

  5. I’m envious, too! Isn’t it fun to meet people in person that you only “know” from on line or the phone? It instantly makes you friends! But why wasn’t Brian in the group picture? Not really feelin’ like “one of the girls”??

    • Hi Sandi, It is amazing to really ‘meet’ peeps we have met and know online. We are all friends! As for a ‘group’ picture, we dropped the ball this year! There was no ‘group’ picture. (We dropped the ball, too busy visiting I guess) I could write an entire blog on each and everyone of these special peeps. In this group there is no “girls vs guys’ we are all just good foodie friends!

  6. What a delightful time we all had. Food, Fun and Friends. Yes, those are the best ingredients! Thank you for hosting another wonderful Holiday Party Penny.

    • Candice, I can’t thank you enough for coming and bringing such amazing treats! Not to mention the lovely ornament for my tree. You are so thoughtful and gracious. I am so blessed to have you in my life! Blessings my friend!

  7. It was a blast! Thanks so much for hosting! BTW–I did take Brian’s Scorpion Sauce Challenge….and loved every bite!

    Such a wonderful escape with foodies like me, to gab, laugh, and catch up in person, instead of phone or Facebook!

    Love to you all!

    • Hi Jen! I stand corrected! Your laugh must have been in response to having taken the Scorpion Sauce Challenge! Laugh in the face of the hottest pepper on Earth! It was a great weekend! Thanks for bringing your vitality to the party! We are Blessed!

  8. I am crying just because this sounds so wonderful! Thank you for gathering in the rest of us. If I have to take a quick flight out and back for only a Round-up, I think it’s something I’m going to have to do. I’ll sign up in advance for your airport shuttle! I played the dice game w/ presents at Christmas a couple of years; to me the stealing was the best part.

    • Emeralds! Welcome to the fold! You would love to meet these peeps in person. It is something that is really hard to put into words. Good food, friendship, laughter – what more could you ask for? Book your flight into ONT – the airport cops know me there! As for that ‘game’ – HA – the first year everyone was so polite, it is much more fun to be stealing and swapping presents! It is so much fun!

      • The photos do so much to convey the spirit. The year my family did it it was painfully boring because only my brothers and brothers-in-law would steal. Once the kids started coming along, it probably would have much better. (I’ll check out ONT!)

        • Unfortunately, we forgot to get a real group photo. Lesson Learned! The first gift grab we did, NOBODY stole anything! Since then, the ice has been broken and all gifts are fair game. So much fun!

  9. OH! love, Love, LOVE this one. it’s great to see AR peeps getting together. having been lucky enough to attend such a gathering (mini mi. 2012) you’re so right when you say, food and friendship are the best ingredients! thanks for sharing and the pics. almost, yep, almost felt like I was there…*sigh* 🙂

    • Hi Weeble, I wish you could have been here…. I wish that I could really ‘meet’ you! If you ever find yourself in Southern California give us a shout out. We WILL meet someday!

  10. Some year! Some year! Some year I’m gonna crash that party! Too many good people and lotsa good food! Thanks you for this post, baking Nana!

    • Mike – You MUST make one of these West Coast gatherings. Get to the ‘left coast’ and we will muster! It is amazing how fast we can gather!

  11. Oh, Baking Nana, it is just so doggoned much fun to relive that wonderful day! Any time a party lasts for at least 8 hours in one day, I’d proclaim that a total success! You outdid yourself making us all feel at home and productive. You are truly the consummate hostess! Thank you for another wonderful memory!

    • Thank you so much for coming, Marianne and for bringing so much wonderful food as well as our lovely friend Candice! I don’t know about being a ‘good hostess’ more like, “Make yourself at home!” More wonderful memories to add to the rest of the special ones already banked!