Amazing artichoke cakes

Christmas countdown!

There are six days until Christmas! This month flew by like a gust of wind! It has been an extremely busy month with work, culinary school, and holiday errands. Thus, with so much going on, it was an enjoyable holiday season.

With all the hustle and bustle in our lives, we’re also dealing with a new COVID variant and an increased surge in cases. There’s a lot going on! Nevertheless, I hope you all found this holiday season to be joyful and memorable.

Winter break begins!

I am officially on holiday break from culinary school. I’m so grateful for this time off. I have two weeks to take care of other things that have been put aside since the week of Thanksgiving. Additionally, I have traditions that I practice before welcoming in the new year (i.e., cleaning the house, brainstorming resolutions, etc.). Whoo! Let’s do this!

Pâtisserie course completed and a new class awaits…

It’s been a bittersweet moment this week as I completed my second course in culinary school. Twenty-four weeks went by like that *snaps*! I began this journey in early July and now, we’re ending 2021. Wow! I’ve learned so much throughout these many weeks that will remain with me for life.

In January, I’ll begin a new 12-week course on world cuisines. Each week we’ll be honing in on a specific country. I’m beyond excited to begin this class. I love trying and eating miscellaneous ethnic foods from around the globe. I’m so appreciative that Hawai’i is a melting pot, full of multi-cultures. Hawai’i has given me a lot of exposure in introducing me to a plethera of cuisines. It’ll be an exquisite experience to make these upcoming dishes in my kitchen. Stay tuned for those weekly blog posts, starting in the second week of January. It’s gonna a voyage of a lifetime!

Hors d’oeuvres vs. appetizers

Before I was introduced to this week’s assignment, I learned the difference between hors d’oeuvres and appetizers. According to my chef instructors, hors d’oeuvres are small, individual dishes that are served before a meal/main course to stimulate a person’s appetite. It’s usually not sharable amongst other people on your table, compared to an appetizer. Appetizers can also be a meal in itself. Huh! Now you know!

This week, I will be highlighting artichoke cakes. I guess this dish, depending on how many batches are made and how many cakes will be served to each customer, can be categorized as either an hors d’oeuvres or appetizer. These cakes were amazing and light. It’s a perfect dish to serve before the main course. It’ll defintiely ignite one’s pallate.

Recipe:

  • 8 oz canned artichoke hearts, chopped and drained (recommended to pat chopped artichokes on a paper towel and kept in the refrigerator overnight so that they can complete dry and absorb any excecss liquid)
  • 1 oz onion, small dice cuts
  • 1 oz red/green bell pepper, small dice cuts
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise (if you can make your own mayo, even better)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ¼ c panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • Mixing bowls/cups/spoons for mise en place ingredients
  • Can opener
  • Cutting board
  • Chef knife
  • Fork
  • Mixing bowl
  • Sauté pan 
  • Spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Food scale

Production steps:

  1. Sanitize kitchen (sink, countertops, stovetop/oven, cupboard handles, phone, computer).
  2. Drain and cut artichokes. Let them dry on a paper towel and store in the refrigerator overnight to completely drain the artichoke liquid.
  3. Wash and cut onions, and bell peppers.
  4. Mise en place ingredients.
  5. Sweat onions and bell pepper in a sauté pan over moderately high heat. Cool completely.
  6. Gently combine artichokes, onions, bell peppers, mayonnaise, egg, dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  7. Form into 3 oz patties.
  8. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over moderately high heat (not too hot, or else the cakes will char).
  9. Add artichoke cakes and cook until golden on the bottom.
  10. Flip and brown the other side.
  11. Remove from the pan and season with salt if needed.
  12. Serve immediately.

Alternatives…

I had a difficult time pan-frying these cakes. Several of them were burnt and did not cook on the inside. I found that the heat on my stovetop was too high. However, because I didn’t know that at the time I was frying the cakes, I decided to bake them in a 375ºF oven as an alternative. I think it worked out better. I didn’t have to deal with oil splattering everywhere.

The week of Christmas

Sending everyone wonderful wishes to a fabulous week leading to up to Christmas. May all your holiday wishes come true. Stay safe, keep yourselves healthy, and take care. Stress less, hydrate, eat nutriously, and remain positive.

Merry Christmas!

FS x

Bon appétit French baguettes

Halloween greetings!

Happy Halloween! I hope you and your loved ones had a spooktacular and bootiful holiday.

Updates on life

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post. I was away visiting my dear friends on the mainland. I went to North Carolina, North Dakota, and Minnesota. It was a wonderful trip. I love traveling and experiencing life away from home. I’m so grateful for the time I had with my friends and that I was safe from COVID. Thank you, God, and to my guardian angels. I’ve selected some favorite pictures from my trip.

  • L top: Sunset near my hotel in Durham, NC.
  • L bottom: Beautiful day in downtown Durham.
  • R: Sidewalk in downtown Durham.
  • L: Cool chess board/pieces at Babb’s Coffee House in Fargo, ND.
  • R: Downtown Fargo.

Baking my own bread

This week, I baked French bread. I can smell the fresh aroma as I sit here typing this post. Mmm, it smells lovely! Baking this bread was a weekend’s work. I had to re-do my assignment twice. The first time, the loaves almost looked burnt. I describe it as badly suntanned, haha. Thankfully, the inside of the bread was fine. It was actually good. It was just very difficult to cut and bite into because it was so hard. Eesh! Thank goodness I didn’t break my teeth. Ha!

Yikes to the picture on the left, right? Gosh! I learned that we can’t always follow the recipe’s baking time. The recipe said 30 minutes but look at the outcome after 30 minutes. It was not good and unacceptable in my eyes to submit to my chef instructor.

The second time, I watched my oven like a hawk, setting timers every 10 minutes, as I peeked through the oven window. The color I was looking for was golden brown. After 25 minutes, I took the loaves out. It looked golden brown from the oven window. The loaves were so beautiful, soft, and chewy, with a bit of crispiness from the crust. I was so pleased and happy. Yay to baking bread from scratch!

Recipe and culinary equipment for the French bread:

Here is the very simple recipe for this time-consuming process. Make sure you set a lot of time aside to make this.

  • 375g bread flour
  • 262.5g water (may need to use less to prevent the dough from getting really sticky)
  • 9g active dry yeast
  • 7.5g Kosher salt
  • Food scale
  • Measuring bowls for ingredients
  • Mixing bowl
  • Plastic scraper
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Rubber spatula
  • Timer
  • Plastic wrap
  • Big cutting board (for kneading) or counterspace

Production steps:

The production steps to making this fresh and comforting bread:

  1. Sanitize kitchen (sink, countertops, stovetop/oven, cupboard handles, phone, computer).
  2. Scale ingredients.
  3. Mise en place ingredients.
  4. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until the dough forms and it is fully mixed.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for one hour.
  6. Release dough from the bowl with a scraper.
  7. Stretch the dough into a rectangle and fold into thirds (add flour onto the bench (counterspace) if dough is sticky).
  8. Round dough into a ball and put it back into the bowl.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Weigh dough and divide into 250g.
  11. Shape the weighted dough into a ball and bench for 5-7 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap.
  12. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  13. Shape dough into a baguette by shaping dough into a rectangle, folding it into thirds, and pressing the seams with the heel of your palm.
  14. Roll the dough with your hands (spreaded fingers) into 12-17” baguette with tapered (narrowed) ends.
  15. Transfer to a lined baking sheet.
  16. Proof (rest) shaped dough, covered in plastic wrap until it doubles in size.
  17. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  18. Slash proofed dough through outer skin in an angled cut, covering the length of the loaf.
  19. Bake until the crust is golden brown.
  20. Cool on a rack for at least one hour.
  21. Cut the baguette and serve.

Annual #thankfulchallenge

In 2018, I started a #thankfulchallenge, where I list 30 things I’m grateful for during the month of November. Please visit my Facebook and Instagram each day to see what I’m thankful for. I’ll be listing the recap in my blog posts each Sunday in November. I’m excited! Thanksgiving is coming sooner than we know it! Let the holidays begin!

Cheers!

FS x

From brittle to cookie

Weekend recap

This weekend was very long. I spent the last three days baking in the kitchen. It was exhausting!

Homemade chocolate chip cookies

This week’s assignment was baking chocolate chip cookies- from scratch. Sounds easy, right? Hah! Think again! I had to make them a few times before they were to my satisfaction and acceptable to submit to my chef instructor. So glad they turned out in the end. Baking is not my forte, but my hope is that I’ll improve my baking skills throughout this course. I want to be well-rounded in all areas of culinary arts.

All the feels…

There were a lot of emotions I encountered during this experience. Frustration, confusion, annoyance… Despite those feelings, there were also some positives that came out of this event. Gotta look for the silver linings in every event.

Figuring out the food scale

So, I’m two weeks into my pâtisserie course and I’m finally using my food scale. I’m familiarizing myself with the different measurements. Last week, we measured in ounces. This week, it’s all in grams. Measuring everything in grams was simple, thanks to the food scale. However, when the recipe stated 90g of eggs, I was very puzzled on how I would accurately measure that. 90g of eggs is basically like 1 tsp, LOL! That doesn’t sound accurate at all! Baking recipes always requires at least a couple of eggs. I took matters into my own hands and guesstimated. I tried adding just one egg to the dough mixture. I had to test the waters somehow…

The recipe:

Let me share the recipe and instructions before I talk about the end result of my first attempt at baking these cookies. This recipe yielded 20 (2 oz. size) cookies.

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 120g dark brown sugar
  • 4g Kosher salt
  • 90g eggs
  • 5g vanilla extract
  • 300g pastry flour
  • 4g baking soda
  • 300g chocolate chips
  • 120g chopped walnuts and macadamia nuts (or pecans)

Production steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. Prepare a cutting board and chef knife to chop macadamia nuts.

3. Mise en place ingredients (basically, portion and measure ingredients so they are ready to go).

4. Prepare a stand mixer.

5. Cream butter and sugar until it is a sandpaper-like texture.

6. Add one egg at a time, as well as vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate into the mixture.

7. Prepare a second mixing bowl and sift dry ingredients.

8. Combine dry ingredients and combine the creamed mixture.

9. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

10. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

11. Use cookie dough scooper to scoop dough onto baking sheets.

12. Bake between 8-12 minutes.

13. Let cookies cool before serving.

The mishap!

This is what transpired from adding in one egg.

It’s a brittle!!! 😱 But it was darn good!

Brittle was a good thing!

The first thought that came to mind was “they’re burnt!” No, they’re actually not. My cookies turned into a brittle, which was really crispy and delicious. The color is really dark because of the dark brown sugar. I really enjoyed it, but that’s not what we were going for this week, so I remade the assignment.

Second time’s a charm!

I spent a good amount of time reflecting on what I did incorrectly and pondered what I could do differently to change the outcome of my baked cookies. I had a deep feeling it was the eggs, that I didn’t add enough. I followed my gut and added another egg (two total) to the dough mixture during my second attempt. Thank goodness, it worked!

Now this is what I’m talking about!
Doesn’t this cookie look delicious? My mouth is watering!

Lessons learned…

Overall, baking is not as simple as cooking. Everything is precise and cannot be altered like cooking can. Further, you can’t always bake by taste, like with cooking. Once the baked dish is ruined, the entire process needs to be redone.

Crunchy vs. chewy cookies

To conclude, here’s how cookies are made more crunchy and/or chewy.

Closing

Until next time… Thanks so much for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing. I appreciate all your support!

Take care,

FS x

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Honoring Hispanic culture

Hola! Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th-October 15th. In honor of this celebration, we’re featuring salsa verde and empanadas this week. Ironically, these are the dishes I made for my first week of my new course on culinary and pâtisserie. Whoo hoo!

Salsa verde recipe:

Let’s start with salsa verde- ‘coz it was simple and pretty quick- hehe!

Ingredients (yields two cups):

  • 1 oz Canola oil
  • Bunch of cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 Garlic
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 oz Onion
  • Salt- to taste
  • 1/2 of Jalapeño or serrano peppers
  • Tomatillos (canned or fresh)
    • 1 canned 13oz
    • 5 fresh (I guestimated since I couldn’t find canned tomatillos at my grocery stores)

Production steps:

When using fresh tomatillos, be sure to remove the husk. Also, before blending, fresh tomatillos, they should be blanched or broiled. I did both.

  • Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor to desired consistency.
  • Heat canola oil over medium high heat.
  • Season with salt.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Salsa will keep fresh up to five-to-seven days.

Reactions to making salsa

I’ve never made my own salsa before. I couldn’t believe how simple and quick it was. I would love to experiment in making other salsas like pico de gallo and salsa roja (red salsa). Ooh, I can’t wait! I’m on a salsa kick! (I’m doing my quick salsa dance right now 🤪💃🏻). My university had a ballroom dancing course that I took. It was pretty cool, but definitely had its challenges. Salsa was a bit difficult to learn. My favorite dance was the foxtrot. It was the first dance we learned and was the easiest.

Empanada recipe:

Onto empanadas… Empanadas are basically Spanish turnovers. They can be filled with either a savory or sweet filling. We’re filling them with savory ingredients.

Ingredients (yields eight servings)

  • 2 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cake flour
    • *NOTE: can substitute both flours for all-purpose flour (3 oz total)
  • Canola oil (optional for deep-frying)
  • 1/2 oz lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz monterrey jack cheese or mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 poblano pepper (roasted, seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 oz warm water

Production steps:

  • Sift flours into a mixing bowl.
  • Add lard or vegetable shortening and blend into flour (I used vegetable shortening).
  • Dissolve salt in warm water before pouring into the flour mixture.
  • Knead dough until smooth.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile…

  • Scrape the filmed skin off the poblano pepper, using the back of the knife.
  • Remove seeds and cut into dices. (The seeds will make the flavor more acidic)
  • Combine cheese and pepper into bowl.

30 minutes later…

  • Weigh the dough on a food scale and divide into eight equal pieces.
  • Sprinkle flour on surface and rolling pin.
  • Roll dough into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin, creating a circle.
  • Place cheese/pepper mixture on one side of the circle.
  • Fold the other side to create a turnover.
  • Press dough around the filling and crimp edges with a fork.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a 375ºF oven until golden brown.

Closing

Happy October! Wishing you a great week ahead. Until next week…

Peace and wellness,

FS x

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Bawk Bawk!

As the Olympics come to a close, it’s always a bittersweet feeling. What an incredible experience, every time! I love how the world comes together to compete in these terrific sports. It truly brings us together. I couldn’t believe how many sports there were this year. Astounding! Congrats to everyone who participated; those who took home medals and those who didn’t. Everyone’s a winner! They’re the best in the world, no matter what! I certainly admired the awesome sportsmanship throughout the games. It was so touching and beautiful to see. Those were the most memorable moments to me. It meant more to me than ever. 2020 gave us a lot to reflect upon and appreciate. Cherish one another; love each other, and be kind.

It was a busy weekend in the kitchen, cooking and roasting up a storm! This coming week is my aunt’s birthday. In celebration of her birthday and for my culinary assignment this week, I’ve roasted a young whole chicken and made gravy from scratch. Good ol’ comfort food. Yum!

I was so nervous because I’ve never roasted a whole piece of poultry before. I usually buy a whole chicken that’s already cooked. It’s so much easier to work with!

In my readings this past week, I learned that roasting and baking are one-in-the-same. Though, I’ve never heard someone say they’re going to roast a cake. I found it very interesting that both terms mean the same.

Before roasting the chicken, I had to truss it. Trussing entails tying the chicken legs and wings snugly together with butcher’s twine so that they are close with the body. Trussing is important for the chicken to cook evenly in the oven. It also prevents the legs and wings from burning. I lathered my chick with butter (olive oil is fine, too) and seasoned with good ol’ salt and pepper. I also seasoned the inside cavity as well. I cut onions, carrots, and celery to create a mirepoix bedding to lay the seasoned chicken on. The mirepoix, a French term, is cooked slowly with the liquid and fat from the chicken. This will be used to make the gravy afterwards. The end goal is for the chicken to be golden brown and for the skin to be crispy. It took nearly two hours for the chickie to cook. The thermometer finally read 165℉; she was cooked thoroughly. Hallelujah! The chicken was juicy, tender, and oh-so-flavorful. I was stoked!

Onto the gravy… I used the mirepoix and the juices from the chicken to first make a roux. I added flour to create a thickening agent. Then added chicken broth to create the gravy. I poured the contents into a mesh strainer, and voilà! Homemade gravy! It was pretty simple and oh-so-good!

For my aunt’s birthday I made a mocha jelly dessert dish. I initially saw a video on Emmymade’s Facebook page on chocolate jelly. I, of course, altered the recipe and made it my own. It turned out to be more of a pudding texture, but it tasted fabulous. It was very rich. Next time, I’ll add more gelatin.

Emmy loves to make unique dishes. This link has some pretty wacky stuff: https://www.emmymade.com/7-wacky-retro-recipes-for-you-to-try/. Not sure if I’m totally game to trying them. Some of them are quite strange. The 7-Up mayo jello salad and the rainbow sherbet snowball cake look interesting. She’s got some interesting stuff on her Facebook. It’s quite entertaining.

Have a marvelous new week! Cases are rising everywhere. Stay safe and healthy!

FS x

Three of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Cookies

Happy Monday! It’s day three and I’ll be sharing the third thing that this year has taught and reminded me. Plus, we’ll be talking about some yummy holiday cookies.

3. To keep on persevering, even through the challenging times.

The word, perseverance, has been the central theme of my life these days. It’s not always easy to be tenacious, especially during tough times. We often feel like giving up; throwing in the towel, and just say “forget it.” I know I’ve felt that way many times. But at the end of the day, I keep reminding myself to persist and endure, no matter how hard the fight is. I’m a fighter and I don’t give up! I’m a conqueror!

The new Taylor Swift album, folklore, has been powerful. Her lyrics have a deeper meaning than ever before. One song in particular, “this is me trying,” immediately resonated with me as soon as I heard it. I thought about many people across the globe who are trying their best every single day. I think as long as we’re trying and doing the best we can in life, that shows courage, fortitude, and stamina as an individual.

Ok, let’s talk cookies. Over the last few holidays, I’ve been trying to perfect a butter cookie recipe that my late grand auntie used to make when I was growing up. She didn’t write the recipe down; only the ingredient list that was actually created by my grandfather. It took multiple tries to get the cookies down-packed. I felt like I was doing a science experiment project. Eventually, I was able to make the cookies my own, which was my ultimate goal. Baking is not like cooking. It’s very important that baking recipes are followed to the T. Too much of this or too little of that, will turn your baking dish upside down.

Until tomorrow… Keep persevering.

FS x

Two of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Cornbread

Happy Sunday! We are 12 days away from Christmas Day. The days are flying by! Though, we are celebrating the holidays differently this year, I’ve never been more busier than this holiday season. I’m doing more baking and slowly expanding Foodnista Soul…, just to name a few…

I spent a lot of time this year thinking and reflecting upon myself, my family and friends, my life, my goals, my actions, thoughts, and emotions during our stay-at-home orders. There were many things- good, bad, and ugly, that were revealed to me during these periods of isolation. I think a lot of us can relate and say that we had a lot of time on our hands to sit, reflect, and even dwell in and on our own thoughts way more frequently than usual.

For the next 20 days, I am thrilled to share 20 things the year has taught and reminded me. My hopes in sharing these revelations would be to instill optimism, inspiration, realization, and knowing you’re not alone if you’ve felt like this, too. Plus, let’s talk about one dish each day. Food, for me, has always brought happiness, comfort, and togetherness. Cooking and baking, especially for me, brings joy and happiness. I also love trying new foods in my community, though, it’s been a little challenging to do that this year with a lot of restaurants closing, not fully operating at 100%, and the anxiety of being out in public places amidst the pandemic. 2020 lesson number two is…

2. To believe that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t understand why.

I’m sure we’re all wondering why this year turned out the way it did- with all the distressing events that happened and are still happening amongst us. I envisioned 2020 to be a start to a brand new decade, full of clarity, vision, and new beginnings and opportunities. But that wasn’t necessarily the case for many of us. There’s a reason behind why 2020 was the year it was. It doesn’t make sense to the human mind. It’s confusing, frustrating, anxiety-provoking. Nevertheless, I know that there’s a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. The light is coming. Soon.

Life is mysterious and complex. Life is challenging sometimes, and “not always fair.” When good and not-so-good things happen in our lives, we don’t always understand the meanings behind them. At least for me, I sometimes find that to be the case. Over the span of several years, I began to look at life, including mine, differently. I began to instill the notion that everything happens in life for a reason- wonderful things, not-so-great things, and terrible things… We may not always understand why, especially when things turn south. Sometimes we’re meant to learn something from the event. Sometimes it’s meant to show us something that may or may not have an influence in our lives in the future. Whatever those reasons may be, I find it important to keep the faith, no matter what, and to keep moving forward. It wouldn’t do good, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, to always dwell in the negatives. Something great always arises from disappointments. Another door is opening; another opportunity is coming. A better one.

During the week of Thanksgiving, I was craving cornbread. I wanted to try making cornbread with creamed corn. Well, the recipe I followed, didn’t produce a yummy dish. The cornbread was very dry. It was not very appetizing. I still wanted to satisfy my craving of eating some good cornbread, so I tried again over the Thanksgiving weekend. I found a different recipe and omitted cream corn from the ingredient list. I also added almond flour to the dish. It was the first time I’ve ever used almond flour. I’ve been eyeing it for quite some time. It is a healthier alternative to white flour. Well, this second attempt at baking cornbread was a success (featured image)! It was a lot more moist, and it tasted great with the almond flour. Therefore, I was inspired to now use almond flour in future baking recipes. One of my goals when in the kitchen is about utilizing healthier ingredients in my cooking.

Have a wonderful new week. Until next time.

FS x

Quinoa is amazing!

I’m excited to say that I made a dish with quinoa in it, and it was so yummy! Quinoa has been my new addiction- like literally! I’ve always enjoyed quinoa, and now, I enjoy incorporating it into my dishes.

I made a quinoa enchilada casserole dish. It was easy and quick to make. See below for the details.

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Ingredients: (I altered the original recipe)

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 trays of ground turkey breast
  • 1 (12-ounce) can of red enchilada sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar of green chile cooking sauce
  • 2 cans of southwest corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Taco cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook ground turkey breast meat thoroughly. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili pepper
  2. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spray pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  4. Spread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses and chips. Place into oven and bake until bubbly and cheeses have melted, about 15 minutes.

Inspired by: quinoa enchilada casserole recipe

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Whoo hoo! Adios for now!