Cooking Season is Coming!

Hello!

I am so sorry about my absence lately, I have been very busy with work and having computer troubles at home. I am glad to be back and to tell you guys about some of the things I have coming up that, to me, are fabulous! Now, Thanksgiving is coming up just next week and I will be travelling for the holiday this year to Oklahoma. I will have a special post regarding my Thanksgiving holiday when I return, but until then, I have a couple of shopping events and community events I plan on attending. First up: shopping!

If you are living in the Tyler area and you love to cook, you’re in for a great deal. Two of our specialty shops for kitchen items and gourmet goods will be having special sales events this Thursday. I know, they are both having a special the same day…you know what they say about having a health competition. At any rate, the two stores in question are: The Sweet Gourmet (located in the French Quarter shopping center on Broadway) and The Kitchen Drawer (located on Old Jacksonville Highway in the shopping centre next to Jul’s). My Mom and I will be hitting up both shops to check out their deals. Both of us enjoy holiday cooking and if we can get quality gadgets, bakeware and ingredients for a good price, we’re definitely in!

The Sweet Gourmet will be our first spot, since they will close at 6:00pm cst. They are promising deep discounts (up to 30%) on major brands such as Wustoff, OXO and, my favourite, Le Creuset. They will have representatives from these major companies doing demonstrations of their products as well. There was also a holiday cooking class going on the same night, but I missed out on the registration (we were informed that the class filled up in less than 2 days!). I have been shopping at The Sweet Gourmet since I moved to Tyler in 2007 and I absolutely love going in there. They have really tasty homemade fudge and truffles for your sweet tooth, gourmet roasted coffees and several ingredients, spices and sauces found no where else in sight. They also offer some really great cooking classes every so often that offer great tips for entertaining and making a first class meal at home. The shop is open Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm, Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12:30 – 5:00pm. You can visit their website for more information, regarding their products and cooking classes at: http://www.sweetgourmetonline.com/ If you do visit their site or their actual store, I highly recommend getting on their e-mailing list. They do not spam or send out your information to 3rd parties, and that is the best way to find out about events.

Our second event for the same evening will take place at The Kitchen Drawer. It’s very similar to The Sweet Gourmet, but has more gadgets than gourmet goodies. They also hold special events and cooking classes. We want to check this one out because this isn’t a store that we frequent and we’re always willing to find new kitchen shops. The Open House event will be from 5:00pm – 8:00pm and will have food, prizes and special discounts on exclusive items. The Kitchen Drawer also holds cooking classes every so often and I have heard great things about them. We also missed the class for this month, but hope we can get into one soon to see how it compares to Sweet Gourmet’s class. The Kitchen Drawer also has a website and their hours of operation are a little more geared toward the “stay-at-home” crowd, closing at 5:30pm on weekdays, open from 10:00am til 4:00pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. For more information, you can visit their website at: http://www.thekitchendrawertyler.com/ .

Last but not least, my favourite event to look forward to: International Thanksgiving. I work for the local Junior College in Tyler in their Administrative Services building and many of our student workers are from outside the country. Every year, right before we let out for Thanksgiving break, our BSM (Baptist Student Ministry) helps put together the International Thanksgiving. Each of the students look forward to this event as an opportunity to come together with other students and share their culture through food. I have had the honour of being invited this year and will be bringing the most American thing I can think of: Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie. I would have brought apple pies, but our apple crop that’s come to Texas has not been desirable. I will be going to this event next Monday, November 23 at 6:30pm. After this event, I hope to actually have pictures to include with my post to finally add some more excitement. I am so thankful to be able to work with such intelligent and upstanding students and for them to be so kind to include me in their lives. This will, hopefully, be a wonderful cultural experience to cherish for the rest of my life. I’m sure it will be a wonderful time.

I think I will go ahead and close this post for today and get ready for the days ahead. I’m looking forward to a lot of fun in between all my work scheduling and getting ready for the holidays with everyone I like and love.

‘Til next time, Y’all!

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On Moving to a Much Smaller City

When I was in high school, I lived just outside of Tulsa, OK; a city of around 1 million people. Tulsa had things a typical major city had, concert venues that attracted well-known artists, minor league sporting events (Baseball, Football, Hockey), a night life, tons of shopping, great eating places and trendy little districts. All and all, it was a great city for young people and had something for everyone.

After I graduated high school, I moved to Tyler, TX and was in for major culture shock. This place, Tyler, was described to me as a “big city” in East Texas and maybe it was to Tyler’s 100,000 residents and small town neighbors. To me, this was a over-glorified town and definitely not geared for the 25,000 college students who flock here for a good education at the two major colleges. I had visited college towns, like Stillwater, Norman, San Marcos, etc. and Tyler was absolutely nothing like them. The reason for this was the large population of retirees and old money in the town that took tradition over entertainment any day. Almost nothing is open past 10:00pm, due to city ordinance, and anything that was open past that point was probably a gas station or fast food. This was a shock. No bars, ice houses, music venues (even small stages) so, what the heck do young people do here?!

Let’s fast-forward to now. While Tyler is still very traditional in its small town setting, improvements have been made by the cries of young, bored adults. Tyler has become a, what I like to call, a “damp” county (they sell beer and wine in stores, but no hard liquor). This has also opened up opportunities for a couple of Brew houses and Ice Houses to pop up, here and there and those are open til at least 11:00pm up to 1:00am. So, good stuff for the 21+ crowd. We have one major club for dancing, but it’s mostly Country and Western music, so if that’s not your style, you may not like it too much. There have been a few places, restaurants mostly, who have been having concerts on their patios but there are no actual music venues. The Liberty Theatre, a non-profit organization, has since opened on the Tyler square and has a feature every week like old films, plays, speakers and occasionally music artists. There are even festivals around the area from time to time that can be quite fun. The biggest problem with Tyler’s fun stuff to do is that it is poorly advertised. If you are moving here, it’s best to make friends with a local person to figure out where to go and when events are coming up. Locals always know someone who knows someone putting on events, so they’re your best bet for finding hidden gems. If you must go at it alone, I recommend looking up Tyler’s E-Guide (you can pick one up at several restaurants around town or just visit their website: http://eguidemagazine.com/ ) or the City of Tyler website to look up upcoming events. The E-Guide also tells you of new places that pop up and occasionally will have a review. This is true of any smaller city. Look for publications about the city, whether it be their newspaper or magazine (Tyler has 3 magazines, I think), they are generally full of good information about the city and what is going on. Another thing you can do is google various blogs from local residents of the area you’re moving to. In this blog in particular, I aim to sniff out the things worth going to and share my experience with my readers. Tyler may be filled with older people and families, but there are also a ton of people around my age, who just want something more to do than stare at their TVs all night.

I recommend, that if you want to find something to do in a small city, enlist a partner-in-crime (preferably, make friends with a local person) and take a look around. Just know that in small cities, you can make your own fun, even if you’re just going to paint the town beige in stead of red.