Sometimes I have thought about what to open that night before 8am...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I believe...

I believe in being slow to judge, and quick to forgive.
I believe that chocolate milk always makes homework easier.
I believe in hugs and kisses.
I believe in saying you're sorry when you are wrong, and meaning it.
I believe in a Sunday morning playlist: Eva Cassidy, Marc Cohn, and Shaun Colvin.. to name a few.
I believe in growing your own, composting, recycling and appreciating everything we have.
I believe I would always rather laugh than cry, but that sometimes a good cry is healing.
I believe in taking the time to do something to make someone else's life easier.
I believe in dancing: in the livingroom, in the kitchen, with your kids, at work, in the grocerystore...

Oh, and I believe I'll have another glass of wine!

Little Black Dress
Pinot Noir
Easy, drinkable, and fun!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today's Forecast

This weekend was beautiful: bright clear sun, 45 degrees... it felt like spring. Today? Well, it is suppose to be snowing in less than an hour. I guess that is one of the joys of living in New England. You never know what the day will bring!

When it feels like snow, I immediately want to make soup. Warm up the house, warm up the tummies! I am currently obsessed with one soup in particular. It is called Golden Winter Soup and it comes from Cooking Light. I swear by Cooking Light. I read the magazine cover to cover every month, and I troll the website when I am looking for specific things. Their food is delicious, and HEALTHY! It is a great resource for feeding your family, making dinner for two, or when you are entertaining.

Back to the soup. The Golden Winter Soup is 9 ingredients, takes about 30 minutes to assemble, and tastes like you spent the day slaving over the hot stove.

Golden Winter Soup
Cooking Light Magazine
January 2008

2 tbsp butter
5 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs)
2 cups cubed peeled russet potato (about 12oz)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 cups sliced leeks (about 2 medium)
4 cups vegetable broth *
1 cup half and half
chopped chives for garnish

Melt butter in a large Dutch Oven. Add squash, potato, salt and pepper to pan. Saute 3 minutes. Add leek saute 1 minute. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.**

Place half of potato mixture into a blender.*** Remove the center piece, put a clean towel over the top, and puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Repeat the procedure with second half of potato mixture. Stir in half and half. Cover and keep warm.

* The recipe calls for Chicken Broth, but if a recipe has the potential for being vegetarian, I always convert to vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. Your soup will still be as flavorful, just less chicken-y.

** Over time we all learn certain tricks to make recipes even better. With this recipe I always rest the potato mixture for 5-10 minutes before blending. It gives it a chance to thicken and results in a creamier soup.

*** I use a stick blender to puree my soup. It makes less dishes, which always makes me happy!

I serve this soup in bowls garnished with more cracked black pepper and chopped chives. A piece of crusty bread will finish it off.

Since this soup is a take on a traditional French Potage, I am pouring French wine. I came across the Saint Cosme, Cotes du Rhone for $12.99, and whisked it into my basket. It is 100% Syrah. Too me it was big wine, with black current flavors, and a slight spiciness. I have had a thing for Cotes du Rhone lately. They are becoming much more available in our area, and they are a very sophisticated tasting wine, for a very small price tag!

So that is my plan for the evening. I have sent my husband to get wood. And tonight, we will be snuggling by the fire warming ourselves with its glow, watching our Saint Cosme sparkle its ruby color through our glasses, and eating our delicious Golden Winter Soup. I guess there is a lot to love about winter in New England after all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends

Those days. We've all had them. Trust me when I tell you, this one was a doozy. Just a snap shot:

I have come to the conclusion that we are living in a time where young adults have no manners. No table manners, no cell phone manners, and certainly no common courtesy. There is no please and thank you. There is no patience to wait until someone can help you, everything is right now, and on my terms. For example..

Arrogant Twenty-something Metro-Sexual, "I'll have a water. With lemon." (while holding cell phone to ear.)
Deadly Zin, "okay." (walks away, gets water)
A.T.M., "chips and salsa." (still on cell phone)
Deadly Zin, "okay." (walks away, gets chips)
A.T.M., "honey-chipotle crispers" (yep, still on cell phone)
Deadly Zin, (pause. pause. pause) "I'm sorry, were you talking to me?"
A.T.M., "um, yes. (pause) I'll have the honey-chipotle crispers."
Deadly Zin (pause......)
A.T.M., (puts down cell) "Please."

That was at 11:15a.m. By noon, it was a whole other picture..

And since I believe laughter is the best way to deal with life, we will just skip the 3 nut jobs that I am pretty sure were imbibing things other than fajitas and ritas in the bathroom. There is no laughing about them.

By 5:15 p.m. I was home, finally. Let the dogs out, let the dogs in, give them dinner, let the dogs out again, let the dogs in, get a phone call from an amazing friend offering to make dinner for me and the Goose. Sweet.

Run downstairs in time to see #2 dog (the boy, of course the girl is #1) throwing up his dinner ... wait for it... on my bed. Super.

Clean it up, grab wine and green beans (she was a little short on vegetables), and head down the block.

At which point she fixed me. Not with Eggplant (which was delicious), or wine (which was scrumptious), but with friendship... because that is what we do for each other. As women: we listen, we cry, we laugh, and we certainly heal each other's bad days.

"Sure God created man before woman. But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece." - Author Unknown

Oh and in case you wonder what we were drinking:

La Chase du Pape
Cotes du Rhone

I would describe it as full bodied, on the drier side, and lightly spicy. Oh, and worth $11.99, definitely.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fun without wine!

So sometimes it's not about the wine. - Angel on right shoulder
Wait, no. It is always about the wine! - Devil on left shoulder
Noooo (insert magnificent eye roll here), sometimes it is about having fun with your kids. - Angel on right
Can't there be wine too? - Devil on left
Of course there can! - Charlie

(but this time there wasn't...)

The Goose's Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional add-ins:
almonds, pecans, chocolate chips, craisins, dried apples, cherries, raisins and whatever else suits your fancy! (Karen Ray used semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and craisins)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl toss the oats with the cinnamon.

In a medium bowl combine the vegetable oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them. (that's right, I said use your hands!) Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, and spread evenly. Leave a few clumps here and there for texture.
Bake for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. If you are using nuts sprinkle them over the top and return the pan to the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. (this timing is tentative. Please keep an eye on your granola, because nothing is worst than burnt granola. blech.)

Let cool completely and then sprinkle your remaining toppings over the top of the granola. Use your hands to transfer to an airtight container.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Battle of the Pinots - Or - What I did during the blizzard

I am admittedly a snob when it comes to screw cap wine. I like corks. I like to cut the foil off the bottle and pull the cork. There is something so satisfying about the sound the cork makes as it leaves the bottle. Thwop! It just sounds happy. Unscrewing a wine bottle makes it feel like Nyquil...

So tonight I am tasting two Pinots. One of them has a screw cap. I almost didn't pick it up, but a handwritten note in front of the bottle said, "Shockingly good!" The price tag next to it, "$9.99". Really? hmmmmm. The gauntlet was thrown and I picked up the Redtree Pinot Noir.

I am, however, a college educated woman. A woman that knows better than to leave the liquor store, the night before a snow storm armed only with a bottle of wine that she bought mostly on a dare. So I also bought the Pavilion Pinot Noir priced at $14.99. It has a cork.

First the Redtree... When tasting wine, it is important to always start with the wine you expect to like less... I mean the lesser wine ...crap I mean, the less sophisticated of your selections...

I really did go into this wanting to like the Redtree. There is nothing I like better than a deal: a delicious, mouthwatering, come to mama deal! The Redtree is not that. There is no nuance. There is no depth. There is no complexity. It is house wine... no, that's not a fair description. (I love a good house wine.) It is returnable. More on that in a minute.

On to the Pavilion. It is everything the Redtree lacks. Fruit forward: I picked up raspberry and black cherry. Light to medium bodied, but it offered a full mouth feel. It was good... even better after it had been open for a bit. Smooth, slick, and innately drinkable.

I bought both of these wines at North River Wine and Spirits. It is a great local wine shop. The people that work there are knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. They have tastings often, and carry many wines that you don't see every day. It is a great place to find something different to try. This is the first time I have not been happy with one of their suggestions.

Which takes us back to returnable. Most people don't think of consumable items as being returnable, but under some circumstances they are. If the wine has turned, or if the wine shop has recommended it and you really do not like it, you should absolutely take it back. Most wine shops will let you return a bottle under these circumstances, especially if you are a regular customer.

So now it is back to making Valentine's Day Cards with Karen Ray, another glass of the Pavilion, and the snow storm that wasn't.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

And so it begins... I decided to write this blog some time ago, and yet here it has sat, empty and sad for months on end. It is hard to be brave and take the first step. It is hard to select a topic, a theme, an introduction to myself. What isn't hard, is the wine.

Oh Wine, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.. I love your crimson color streaming through my glass. I love the slight pop a cork makes when being pulled from the bottle by my captain's knife. I love matching your flavors to my meal, or my mood, and I love the ELATION that comes with finding a scrumptious bottle for under $15!

There was a time that wine wasn't about the price tag. Let's call it PKR. PKR I had a job. A real job. The kind that lets you shop, eat out, and drink wine. PKR I knew everything, did everything, and was unstoppable. In other words, I was young and stupid. I lived my life to the fullest, and I have no regrets. It was fun, and educational, and luscious...

Now? Now I take care of my kids, work 2 part time jobs, have become an above average cook, and have learned to appreciate wine. Wait, I did that before. The difference is that now I can appreciate a $50 Chateauneuf du Pape, and a $12 Zinfandel. Now, I realize that I still have so much to learn.

That is what is in this blog. Consider it a documentary of my re-education...

One deadly Zin at a time...