Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Winner of Blueberry Heaven

Okay, this is a double post. First, the winner of the contest  Sadly very few of you (2 to be exact) took advantage of multiple entries. One of the folks that did, won. So keep in mind that you could have had 30 bucks to go toward this, when I tell you about the next exciting thing coming. I am not telling you yet, but you guys really want to stay tuned. It is super cool.  And now for the winnner....




So the other day the fabulous Kindness Girl asked me to go blueberry picking with her. I have to say that I have not been blueberry picking since I was about 10. All I recall is thinking, “God this sucks.” So I accepted the invitation but did so with high doubts of truly lovely times to come. Kindness Girl assured me it was lovely, loveliness. Humph.



First the ride there was lovely, down tree covered roads and past water. I felt myself easing into just being. We got there and the kids were off. Typically, that would make my shoulders go to my ears and me want to turn tail and leave. Somehow, I knew that it was okay.






We selected a path and soon I found myself in a blueberry room. The bushes literally formed a tunnel. A tunnel of blueberry lusciousness.




 The bushes dripped with berries. I mean really. They hung on the bush like grapes. To me, it was amazing. Then Kindness Girl said, “Too bad you should have seen them last week. I never left one bush.” 




It took me about 30 minutes, all while negotiating kids, to pick about 10 lbs of blueberries. Which sounds great, but I could have been there all day. It was truly, lovely, loveliness. We had a picnic and the kids “stole” blueberries. Dreamy.



Tonight, cantaloupe and blueberry sorbet. Sigh…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Toys, Tots and Pasta




Just recently in an effort to preserve my collards I tried my hand at making pasta. I thought, people make spinach pasta why not collard pasta. I must admit for the fist time making pasta, I was thrilled at the outcome. Especially since I could find no recipes so I had to make my own up.

My Dad, decided out of either kindness or because he didn’t like me borrowing his pasta maker, he bought me one of my own. So this morning me and the kids made pasta as a thank you. The kids had a ball and actually where very helpful! I made a citrus pepper pasta.

I send a pound a fresh pasta to their house and kept the leftovers. I had them for lunch.

This is again a non-recipe recipe, but here is what I did

Sautee about 2 tbs of chopped onion in about 2 tbs of olive oil.

Add 1 clove finely minced garlic.

Add 3 tbs slivered almonds.

Heat all until almonds slightly toasted.

Add…(these were leftover from the night before so I am guessing ) ¼-½ lb shrimp (mine were already cooked.

Add ¼ c. reserved pasta water (from cooking)

Toss with cooked pasta

Top with parm and a squeeze of lemon if you have it.


Joel I wish you were here for lunch!! :O

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chicken with a Kick

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I will say this was awesome and is my new favorite marinade!
I have
been terribly distracted, and hope to get back to the blog…however the other night we had our CSA chicken and I decided to marinate the old gal. This had a kick to it, but if you are not a lover of spice use less sriracha.

Marinade:

½ c. Ponzu sauce
½ c. rice wine vinegar
1/8 c (depending on like of spice I probably did between 1/8 c. -¼c) Sriracha sauce

Mix together in bag, throw chicken in and marinate for 2 hours.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Farm to Family….Finally!

Say that ten time fast!! So I finally made to farm to family. On Fridays their bus is about a mile from my house. However, I always forget. Today I was driving home from getting compost and there they were! I have to say, I had both kids, they were busy and I felt totally overwhelmed, but it was really cool. The guy even gave Tristan a neat packet that contained seeds so he could grow his own food, sadly either we left it there or from point A to point B it got lost. I love that they do this because the surest way to get kids to eat things is to first engage them. Tristan will not eat salads from store brought lettuce, but let us go pick it, clean it and dry it together and all he can talk about is how much he wants that salad. Plus it gives them an appreciation for what it takes to grow food.

As is typical in my life, I am not a trend setter, so I figure I am the last person that has finally gone to check them out. However, if for some reason you haven’t go. You can also find them on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Egg Hunts

So does anyone know why the tradition of coloring Easter Eggs came into being. And why, oh why, are giant sized bunny’s hiding said eggs?




I mean, really, is it just a reason to have egg salad?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Real Value in a Shared Dinner


He sat quietly for a moment, hands folded and head down in thought. He then looked up and said, “Michael brought him to me, I know.” He spoke, referring to a neighborhood kid he had started mentoring that was good but on the wrong path. “I needed him, I needed a reason to get out of bed. I needed someone to need me.” I believed he was right. The change was measurable. He wasn’t quite his old self, but you could see, the glimmer of hope that one day, he believed, he would truly be able to breath again.

It was the first time we had Peter over in ages. Ironic, since I talk so much about breaking bread and reaching out. Peter...Peter is different though. To see him is to rip a bandage off a festering wound. The loss of Michael is on him. It reminds me of how much I miss Michael and how different this would all be if only he were here. I know these encounters are hard for Peter too, sadly, for the very same reason. Several months ago when he was over he said, he knew he would cry the whole way home, because it didn’t feel right that Michael was not there. What can you say to that? It was true. It was like breaking a leg a mile down a deserted path and having to endure each painful step to get to help. But you keep walking forward, because what else it there to do really?

It is horrible to see someone you love in such pain. It is more horrible when you share, at least in small part, that pain. However, it has almost been a year, and he was finding some purpose again. He was still putting one foot in front of the other and he was getting somewhere. So was I, and I knew in that moment that it would never be the same. I knew I would always, in some small way, wish Michael had been there. I knew though, that we would all laugh out loud together again, and Michael would say a blessing of love over it all. So this night, we just ate our meal, and talked and healed … just a bit.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One Weekend….with Kids

The past year and a half has seen huge changes in the McCauley mansion (that’s what we like to call our house…we can dream…no?) Joel started his own agency, I have something in the works to be revealed at a later date, and most recently we have made a big change in our food. We have switched over to meat and eggs that are handled humanly, fed proper diets and allowed to see the light of day. I am not going to get preachy, don’t worry. It was just a personal decision, it is not for everyone I know.

In that vein we pulled resources with our neighbors and are put in a huge garden. We always do a garden, but this garden “should” provide not only all our veggie needs for summer plus allow a to put up quite a bit for winter. We have a large yard for the city and so we are putting the garden in our yard but our neighbors provided labor to help enlarge existing beds and put in a new one. We also are putting in non-GMO seeds. Again, promise no preaching…just a decision we made.

So in preparation for our hard work ahead that Saturday morning, we went to the local farmers market.



We are lucky to have one of the biggest farmers markets within walking distance of our house. During the winter the die hard sellers move from the local park to just down the road. It is mostly non produce venders (baked goods, local honey etc) but some of the farmers are there and have some winter produce, but mostly eggs and meat. I have to say I like the winter market much better. The summer market I think has gotten far too big and crowded, just this girls opinion. We got some breakfast sausage from Faith Farms to bring home and make brunch with. I have to say it was amazing. It was patty sausage, however it tasted like link sausage…go figure. Yumm, and a total treat. I love sausage but only indulge like 2-3 times a year. Then I found the mother load. Rona, from Sullivan’s Pond Farm (http://www.sullivanspond.com). I was drawn to her stall because of the lovely daffodils. Aren’t they amazing?





I stayed at her stall because of her cheese. I ended up buying two cheeses, a blue and a goat rolled in salt and pepper. The goat had some age to it so it was more firm than a typical soft goats cheese. I really can not express to you, the love I have for both of these cheeses. They were really good there, but it was cold morning. I got them home and the next day let them sit out and get some warmth to them. They amazed me. I think I scared my poor husband. Periodically I would take a bit and yell, “man alive!” I think he thought I had finally lost my mind. I am in love. Really, if you go to the south of the james market, go check her out.




We took all our goods home had brunch and then set about the work of the weekend…putting in our new Veggie bed. Even the kids got into helping.




After about 5 hours in the yard, mommy was off to girls night and a much needed beer!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Sans Kids---Hoooowaaa

So part of what I want to do with my blog is document time we spend with people we love. Over the past week, we have had our neighbors over, been to a party, been out on a date, been over to a girlfriends house for a girls night….none of which I took one single picture of. Sigh. I realize once the fun begins, I forgot about the camera. So, this will be a serious learning curve for me.

That said, this weekend the kids went to see Granddaddy and Grandma. That meant a whole weekend to ourselves. At first we planned to squirrel ourselves away and not see a soul. Then we decided we would have one night with friends and one night to ourselves. We finally decided, both nights with friends. Reality is, we don’t get a child free night, that also permits us to sleep until God wakes us the next morning often. Why not live it up? So Friday night we saw friends we don’t get to see nearly often enough. We had planned for a cheap night out, but at last minute they decided to bring dinner to our house and cook. Really how can you turn that down???

I went to Ellwood Thompson and got some yummy cheese and olives, and then by For the Love of Chocolate for some brownies and chocolates. So really talk about making out for us, we get to hang out with friends, they cook, and even our contribution we don’t’ have to cook! Score!



They made a coconut chicken soup that was amazing. Really, I don’t think anyone said a word while slurping it down. Then we had a very simple but wonderful argugula salad. For dinner it was fettuccini with muscles. The chef, felt he had put too many herbs in the sauce??? I thought he was crazy. It was amazing.






It was a great evening with great people. Who could ask for anything more. Plus when dinner was done, we got to just roll into bed!

The next night I have no pictures of. In fact the only reason I have pictures of Friday is my wonderful husband remembered to take pictures for me. We are so lucky to have great neighbors. Saturday one of our fabulous neighbors asked us over for drinks and cheese and then we went to Cielito. It was gorgeous here so we sat outside at their house. They made their secret libation called an “E.” I can’t tell you everything involved, but I will say it involves muddled basil and St. Germain. Lovely! They also got some amazing cheese from River City Cellars and these wonderful fennel olives that they brought back from a visit to Charleston. Joel and I had done a ton of work around the house and out in the yard that day so we were that wind whipped sort of tired, it was a gorgeous night, the drinks were amazing and the food was yummy….it was really and truly perfection. After some munchies and talk we went to the restaurant, and were lucky to get the last table outside. Joel and I have never been big fans of Cielito Lindo. We have never had anything bad there, but never had anything worth writing home about. However, it was close to home, we could sit outside and our neighbors swore they had the inside track on what was good to eat there. Turns out Taco’s Del Res, rock at Cielto.

So, lets recap….

No kids.
Great company.
Awesome food.

Can you say perfection??

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Clementine Obsession

Really, seriously, I can not stop wanting to put these little lovelies into EVERYTHING. As promised I have some recipes. Well one recipe, one just suggestion of one. The quinoa salad was really good. If you don’t like cilantro, I think you could substitute basil and it would be great.





Quinoa Clementine Salad


2 cup uncooked quinoa (I used red, but any would do)
1 bunch of green onions cut
½ C almond slices toasted
6 clementine’s peeled and sectioned
1 c. (aprox) of loose cilantro leaves
Juice of 3 clementine’s (about ¼ cup)
2 TBS olive oil

Make Quinoa and let cool. Add other 4 ingredients and stir. Add the juice and olive oil, if possible right before serving.

So we went back to get our third bag of clementine’s at Trader Joes. I mean they are so good I can’t stand it. They are sweet with a bit of sour. Mmmm. So today, Joel came home for lunch so I came up with this. I figured he would lover it or hate it. He moaned and gave every impression of deep love. I knew, however, I really struck a cord when he came in a minute ago an told me he was still thinking about the sandwich. Score!




I had a nice multigrain crusty loaf that I got at Trader Joes, but use whatever bread you like. I made a pesto mayonnaise and spread that on both pieces of bread. Then on one side I laid two pieced of bacon, the other one Clementine (peeled and sectioned) and in the middle a ton of arugala. It was really, really good. However, I am a sucker for a salty/sweet or savory/sweet combo and this had all of it, salty, sweet, savory and bitter. Mmmmm. The one thing I would try is a bit of goat cheese. It was wonderful as it was but I always have tendency to want to add cheese (in more ways than one:)


So the real question is… do you think there is a Clementine detox??

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday Tristan

6:45 a.m., I am laying in bed sleeping, I hear from Tristan’s room, “Mommy?! Do you know what today is?” I reply, “Yes! Happy Birthday Tristan! Come here!” Typically in the morning he comes, jumps up in bed and we snuggle for last few precious minutes before I have to face the day. I hear, “Ahhh, Mommy, you need to go downstairs and get my food and do that thing we talked about. “ Sigh. He asked for breakfast in bed like Daddy got on Fathers day. Just a note, has mommy ever got breakfast in bed? No. Is she bitter???? I will leave it to you, to decide :) I reply, “I am on it Tristan. Give me a second and I will be back with it.” He reply's, “Okay mommy. Oh and don’t forget to sing me the happy birthday song too.” Roll of my eyes, “Of course, Tristan.”

I am not going to even get into how the hell he is turning 5 or how I feel about it. There is not enough space or time to delve that deep into it. Time….it always gets the better of me in so, so many ways.

He wanted banana pancakes, so that is what he got, and a slice of bacon. We brought it to him and sang the "happy birthday song."




He wanted hot dogs for dinner, and so he got that too.






Saturday was his birthday party. It was the first year he asked for friends. Normally, he just wants the grandparents. We had the family first, and then later the kids came. Joel and I embrace the low key. We try to keep things simple. In that vein, the kids that were invited were not allowed to bring presents. Insanity... I know! I also know that some thought we were mean parents. Maybe. I just really feel that, first, he has enough. However, mostly I want him to learn to honor company for company's sake. Their gift to him was them sharing time with him. I want him to learn to ask people to share time with him for the joy in that, not for the crap he can collect from the invitation. So go ahead call me mean... I just hope he won't in therapy one day!

It is amazing to see how your children learn the social dance. To see how excited he was to show his room to friends and show them his special things was precious to me. You realize that for five, he is sharing himself. I loved to see it.

Our wonderful neighbor made his cake. It is really one of the cutest cakes I have ever seen, and if you live in Richmond, e-mail me if you want the contact information.



Not only was it a cute cake but it was crazy good (as always Mark!!), and I find it rare to get that combo. Tristan agrees.




Finally, after all the excitement of the day our neighbors stopped by for a special birthday wish for Tristan, and Jillian got some snuggle time.




We are lucky, so lucky to have great family and friends. It is days like this that really make me remember what my heart knows. We are blessed. even if time is not my friend...





Literally seems like yesterday...sigh...






Friday, March 5, 2010

Rawrypop!

I just couldn’t resist getting this up. Yesterday was Tristan’s birthday and I will be getting a post up about that, however in the meantime I could resist sharing.

I came home from dropping Tristan off at preschool and saw my neighbor was home. He has been going through a rough patch so I put some tea on and decided to invite him over just to give him a pep talk and time to vent. Turns out , I just missed him and so I decided to sit down and have tea with Jilly. We play tea party all the time but I thought I would actually give her some warm milk with a splash (really like a 1/8 of a teaspoon) of tea so we could have a “real” tea party. She was thrilled. We were having such a good time I thought I would give her a lollipop I had been saving since Valentines Day (I am super stingy with the sweets). Ultimately I think it is good, because if I gave them out all the time I doubt I would get blog fodder like this… really this is the “best ever, ever.” It is a bit long, but I don’t know how to edit down the video, and apparently the video won't load here so go lick the link, it is worth it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1hqoFQY_Eg

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who the Hell Said This Would be a Success Only Journey?

Cuz they lied.

I was excited to start the chronicles. This, was snapped at dinner last night. Jillian did not want to eat dinner. In her words, “iz yucky.” The rule is, you don’t have to eat but you do have to stay while the rest eat. She went… postal. Absolutley and totally, postal. So she got put in the other room until she could pull it together. I simply told her when she could calm down to please come back because we would miss her. She wailed, she screamed… I grabbed the camera. Funny taking pictures of her must have made her realize she was acting a fool and she stopped.



Then she sat at the table.




Then she ate.

Turns out the avocado wasn’t so yucky after all, turns out “iz yummy mama.”




And there you go…

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Breaking Bread

Ever wanted to do something more?

Something better?

Have you ever thought, who am I?

Where do I belong in this world?

I do. Every day. That is where I am. So what does that have to do with you and food? Right? Patience, my friend, patience. This is going to be a long ride…just come with me. Hopefully it will be worth it.


Those of you that follow my blog know that about a year ago a good friend of mine died. At the time I ran a contest imploring you guys to break bread or break open a bottle with a friend. The other day I looked at my husband and said, “You know it has almost been a year since Michael died.” I think about him often and when I do, I miss him. Terribly. He was wicked, and dear. He made me laugh until it hurt. Around him, I felt loved. Since then I have felt compelled. I felt, there was something I should be doing, but what? That thought has been weighing on me so heavily of late.

What? I hear you, but what?

Then, finally, slowly my thoughts started coming together. Still, just this morning I couldn’t fully get my hands around what I wanted to do. I was talking it through with the great Lucy’s mom and telling her, I wanted to change my blog, change the focus of it, but I couldn’t get my hands around exactly how.

So let me back up just a bit. I love my blog. Not , however in, “it is the best blog out there“ sort of love. I love MY blog, in the,” it is mine, I created it, it is an extension of me, my thoughts,” sort of love. I started my blog on the very first day I heard of a blog. I started it, as a sort of on-line recipe box for my family. It never, ever, in a million years dawned on me that people would really read it. As they did, though I realized there was this void, in me that needed this. I was a stay at home mom with two babies and I missed having something to say that wasn’t just about the latest trick on how to get breast milk stains out of clothes and how to make taking a rectal temperature more pleasant for everyone involved. My blog got me out into the world, the world outside of just mommy hood again. Thank god. Really.

Now, I want to take my blog from something I do, to something….more. I don’t want to just chronicle the recipe for a meal I made. I want to chronicle the meal.

I think we have forgotten how to break bread as a nation. We have forgotten to sit down and have meals as families. We have forgotten how to have meals with friends. We have forgotten how to have community meals. Or perhaps, not forgot. Perhaps, just got too busy. We made a mistake. We stepped away from the table. Look around though? Do you see the impact.? It is tangible. It impacts our children’s behavior. It changes their sense of self. It is destroying their health. It is impacting our joy. We have forgotten that a meal is a ritual. It is a ritual that honors the food we eat, how it is prepared and frankly the person that took the time to make it. It is a ritual of fueling our bodies, enriching our families and spreading love. Love. Sigh….and I am back to missing Michael. I missed too many meals with him, because we were “too busy.”

Because of this, our lives, our world is substantially less rich. We need to get back to the ritual of breaking bread. Of sharing a meal and sharing ourselves. So in that spirit, I am beginning my chronicles. I will still have recipes. However, I am going to focus on breaking bread with the ones I love. I am giving your more of myself in this. You will get a more intimate invitation into my life. Isn’t’ that what it is about? What good are we, if we don’t give our greatest gift. Our time, ourselves.

So today, Tristan’s preschool was cancelled due to a broken broiler. Luckily for him he and his lady love Lucy had a magical play date. Sadly for him (and Lucy!) she is sick :( So how was I going to salvage the day? We went to Trader Joes to restock on my daughter's blueberry obsession, and then decided to do the insane…the unthinkable…take the kids… to a restaurant…by…my…self! Cue the whodunit music. Insane (and yes I know myself is one word). Ever so stupidly I told Tristan this prior to our outing at TJ’s. TJ’s was awful. The kids fought and whined the entire time. I fussed and whined the entire time. Plthh. By the end, I really would have rather shot my left foot off than take them out to eat. However, a promise is a promise, and so I went. We went to Maldini’s, because A) it is spitting distance from my house and I just wanted to get near home, B) it was kid friendly. The pictures aren't great...it was is dark in there. I have to say it was lovely. Lovely. The kids were doll’s, they ate their salads even. I couldn’t believe it. Even Baby Jaguar (Tristan’s lovey) and My Baby (Jillian’s lovey) enjoyed the salad .


Where had the two terrors I just had at TJ’s gone? Why were they being so good?





All I can figure, is that It made them feel special. Little did they know, it made me feel special too.

Love the video, Jillian can't even be bothered to answer. Sadly I miss capturing her happy food dance and outrageous moaning of food joy... she is her fathers daughter!!
videot

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Buttermilk Cheese


A while back Joel and I took a cheese making class at the Complete Gourmet. I have, several times since that, tried to make goat cheese using the recipe for a cows milk cheese we made in class, to no avail. One thing she specifically said in class is that ultra pasteurized milk is not good for cheese making. I finally concluded that that was the reason my cheese would not set up (it would separate but the curds were so small, I would end up with about a tablespoon remaining in the cheesecloth.) and abandoned the idea all together. Sigh.

Then I saw this post over at One Couples Kitchen http://www.onecoupleskitchen.com/ and was excited to try again. I figured maybe they had the one recipe that would work! It did not work for me and I must say I feel a little bitter they are all happy and cheesy and I am sad and without.

That said, I pressed on. I made a cheese out of Buttermilk. I thought that might give me the tang I craved. It was really good, not goat, but a good sub in a pinch. Someone suggested it would be great in stuffed shells…..maybe we will see more on that later??? Hmmmm.

For now, here is what I did. I don’t think the lemon was necessary, but probably gave some extra tang. I made this up, so for all I know the cream wasn’t necessary, but I had it and needed to use it. Note: there is proper cheese making cloth that you can get at Complete Gourmet and I am sure Sur la Table, however you can use that stuff from the grocery store, just double up.

8 c. buttermilk
1 c. heavy whipping cream
½ c. half and half
1 tbs lemon juice (I used fresh, but I have used concentrate before…your call)
1 tsp course salt
Copious amounts of pepper


Heat the first three ingredients slowly until you see the curds and whey separate (best way to describe is your milk looks like you left it in sippy cup underneath your car seat for a week in the heat, floating in what looks like lemonade?) . Add the lemon. Let sit a minute or two off of the heat and slowly pour or ladle though cheesecloth lined colander. Once a good portion of the liquid is out salt and pepper the curds and smoosh (yep that is an official cooking term) about until mixed. Bundle the cheese cloth and then hang for about an hour to let drip. The longer you let it hang the drier it will get.

Spread and enjoy.  Next time I am going to try my hand at Chevre with this cool kit.  I will post up how it goes.


Remember the Green Duck contest…75 buck guys!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All I Need...



…is love, love… and food. My son is having a love affair of epic proportions. In case you forgot, he is four. Well, very soon to be five. Tristan has always been social. He loves people, but he has never had one special friend. All that has changed now, now there is Lucy.

So she came over after school for a play date the other day. All morning my sweet little boy was like an insane wind up doll, totally unable to contain his joy. While, a bit taxing, it was so sweet.

Knowing Lucy would be coming for lunch I had great intentions of knocking her socks off. I planned to make a three cheese macaroni that would make her weep. However, as is so often the case in my life, it just never happened. I felt bad that all I served up was a pitiful PB&J, on store bought bread no less. I will get Tristan therapy to resolve the shame I am sure he felt. She, being the very gracious guest, made no hint of, what I am sure, was her horror. She pretended quite well to enjoy it and even cracked a smile or two while eating. I snapped this picture while they ate. Later, when I was uploading the pictures into my computer I realized something, something I haven’t’ quite been able to articulate until now. However, when I looked at those three sweet souls all giggles and joy my thoughts finally came full circle for me.

I love food. I do. However, as a “foodie” I don’t quite fit in the larger community. I read fellow bloggers blogs and they talk about “flavor profiles’ and “upper notes” and such. That is lost on this girl. I have said it before, and I will say it again, at the end of the day, for me, it is a simple “good” or “bad.” I often thought, “How can I say I love food. What is a top note? I clearly don’t, and furthermore have NO desire to analyze food in such a way.“ These thoughts make me doubt myself. Then I will read a blog and blogger will make a comment like, “ I only purchase shade grown coffee, picked on the first Tuesday after the last Spring rain. I find it is the only coffee that I find palatable anymore.” I read something like this and feel a mix of slight shame and frustration. Shame because, I think, “what I am doing? I can’t blog about food, CLEARLY I have no idea what I am doing.” The frustration, I have never been able to figure out, until now.

Here is what I figured out…I am not a food critic. I am a food lover. What I love about food, is the shared experience. I think that is what leaves me frustrated with so many blogs/ food reviews. Food has become a way to elevate ourselves, to set ourselves apart from the uneducated, the uncultured, the “have not’s” We are beginning to lose the truest value (outside of sustenance) of food in the foodie community and that is that food, is the ultimate community builder. Food is a very concrete and tactile way to explore other cultures. It is the first toe we often dip in into the other world of people, and often the first glimmers of respect and awe we begin to feel for their traditions. It brings us together in joy and, celebration. It is how we extend ourselves to others in their grief. Food is the great community builder.

I think often, we forget. We forget, as we pull out the Pouilly-Fume, aged gouda and French baguettes, that there are millions… right at this moment… that have nothing to eat. Nothing. We forget that our neighbor just lost her best friend 6 months ago and that maybe asking her over for dinner, even if it is just frozen ravioli and jar sauce (gasp, horror) would be the best meal she had in months because she would not be so lonely. We forget to be thankful. We forget to share the joy. We forget. We forget that food, restaurants, wine, it is all meant to bring us together, not pull us apart. And this sense of shared experience starts, likely at birth, but certainly by four.

So, I guess I am a food blogger after all. As is so often in my life, it took a four year old to remind me of what my 36 year old brain forgot. Thanks Lucy. You are the best future daughter-in-law I could ask for!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kale Soup


I made this yesterday for lunch. I was having competing desires for a warm meal and something leafy and bright. This was my odd compromise. It hit the spot though and hubby loved it that night. Today I pulled it out. It is a gloomy day with snow threatening us again. I am a great lover of snow, but just this weekend it was brilliant and beautiful and I started on yard work and mentally made the leap to spring. Sigh. So with the new gloom in the air I had this for lunch but added a dollop of greek yogurt. Double yum. Plus, it is low cal, fast and cheap. Trifecta!


½ onion sliced
½ bag chopped kale (or about 3 cups??)
2 cartons of beef stock (could used veggie, chicken, or broth if you prefer)
1 can chick peas
2 tbs sweet curry
1 tbs olive oil.


Heat olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Add stock, kale and chickpeas and bring to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add curry and any salt you want. Viola!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pork Loin Stuffed with Clementine’s



I have two topics today. The first, dinner the second wine. Actually, on second thought, maybe I will start with the second and go to the first. I find it is always best to start with some good wine!

A while back my dad was given a bottle of Rendition Petit Syrah. He had forgotten who had given him the bottle and spent ages tracking down where he could by it. It was an outstanding bottle. Lucky for all involved he finally found it and it was a Trader Joel wine. Even better is was under $10 a bottle. Hooo-rahh. The other day I went to stock up, and they were out of the Petit Syrah, they did however, have a Zinfandel, so I decided to try it. It was amazing. So go give it a try!



Now on to dinner. Also at Trader Joes where clementine’s. I was very happy because I love clementine’s. I mean, love…love. However, this year they all looked either shriveled or green (I mean really a GREEN orange…need I say more??) so I have not had any. The ones at Trader Joes looked great and were pretty cheap. So I tried them. They were that perfect tart sweetness I love. This lead me to tonight’s dish. It came out really well, with complimentary moans and professions of love from my husband. I made both tenderloins in the package, if you are making one, half the recipe.


Cut the filets in half about ¾ through and open, then gently pound (how is that for an oxymoron!!) the meat out. Salt pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.

Filling

5 Clementine’s pealed, sectioned and white membrane removed.
2 sprigs of rosemary finely chopped
Zest of 1 Clementine
¼ of walnuts chopped
¼ c. goat cheese
1 TBS Dijon
1 TBS soy sauce

Mix spread down the center of filet, and bring meat around and tie to form roll. Place in baking dish.

Topping

3 TBS orange olive oil (if you don’t have use olive oil and add 1 tsp zest)
Juice of one Clementine
3 TBS soy

Mix and pour over filets. Cook for 30 minutes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ludicrous Lamb!

The dinner party went well. I did not snap as many pictures as I intended or should have. I really only can offer the view of the table while setting up and the cheese plate. Sigh. Best of intentions, down the drain. Such is my life! Oh well. Here are the few I have.






Now onto one of the best lamb dishes I have ever made I must say. I think this would be great in a crock pot to.

Leg of lamb

4-6 small or half cloves of garlic
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can petite diced tomatoes


Cut slits in lamb and put garlic cloves down in, salt and pepper lamb well. Put in a covered dish ( I used s turkey roasting pan with lid) pour both cans of tomato with the liquid over. Cook at 250 pretty much all flipping day. I cooked mine for about 7 hours.


It ends up coming out like pulled pork. Tender, all shreddy (I know that is not exactly a word). I then fished the diced tomatoes, and a ladle or the crushed from the bottom of the pan. I put it in my food processor and gave it a quick pulse or two with about a teaspoon of oregano. I didn’t processes it too much because I wanted it thick and chunky. Ladle over meat and eat.

No pictures of this either. It was gone too quickly!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Patrick Henry Dinner Tonight

A while back, Patrick Henry had an auction to benefit the school. I donated a dinner for four. They picked tonight for the dinner. As of yesterday, they said, weather be damned, they were still coming. Brave souls!! I will make sure to have the bourbon ready to warm them. They wanted to do a slow night with multiple courses, which, for me, makes it super easy. For all the things I manage to pull off in the kitchen, timing is something that I am not great at… it stresses me out. So slow courses makes it nice for me, plus it is really such a nice way to have a meal I think.

So here is the menu, too late to change it now, but tell me what you think.


Assorted cheeses - Mountain View Local Marmac, Artequeso Manchase, Le Roule

The above will be set out in the living room, I will serve cocktails and let them settle into the evening. Then, after a bit, I will have them go to the dinning room where the following will come in courses.

Smoked Salmon Boat- Smoked salmon with lemon infused cream fraiche, topped with a sprig of dill in an endive leaf boat.

Beef Consommé Laced with Sherry- topped with shaved parmesan and cracked pepper.

Beet Salad- Beets mixed with argugula and goat cheese

Spinach, Pine Nut, and Feta Pasta - spinach wilted with garlic, and crumbled feta. Topped with lemon zest and toasted pine nuts.

Cardamom Pound Cake- Topped with maple whipped cream and caramelized apples and toasted walnuts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Over The Top

I was honored by fellow blogger and friend extraordinaire Swestie over at http://www.swestie.blogspot.com/ . I am lucky to not only know and love Sallie through the blog-o-sphere, but she is a neighbor and friend. I know! How lucky am I??

In order to receive this award, I must answer the following questions with one word answers and then pass the award on to 5 other bloggers whom I believe are also "Over the Top!" (They will then repeat.) Here goes:

Your Cell Phone? Old (5 years…really)
Your Hair? short
Your Mother? kind
Your Father? grumpy
Your Favorite Food? cheese
Your Dream Last Night? bizarre
Your Favorite Drink? wine
Your Dream/Goal? joy
What Room Are You In? living room
Your Hobby? Blogging (duh)
Your Fear? Loss
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? successful
Where Were You Last Night? Home
Something That You Aren't? perfect (sigh)
Muffins? Meh?
Wish List Item? Dunno? Nothing?
Where Did You Grow Up? Richmond
Last Thing You Did? breakfast
What Are You Wearing? jeans
Your TV? on
Your Pets? none
Friends? Awesome!
Your Life? Great!
Your Mood? Excited?
Missing Someone? Always
Vehicle? VW
Something You Aren't Wearing? Makeup
Your Favorite Store? Anthropologie
Your Favorite Color? aqua
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Too long
Last Time You Cried? Too long
Your Best Friend? hubby
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Kroger?
Facebook? rarely
Favorite Place To Eat? Bistro 27








So I am passing this on to the few people that have stuck by me during my blog hiatus. Thanks guys!


http://www.giverecipe.com/ Not only is she charming, and warm, and someone I really hope to meet face to face, her food is amazing.

http://www.nibblemethis.com/ chris has been every ready with a funny quip to my rare posts and for thant I am thankful. Plus, this man is a serious grill hound and, if you are not already, will make you long for summer.

http://mytastytreasures.blogspot.com/ Donna, is truly the blogger I hope to be when I grow up. She is funny and warm and is always honoring her fellow bloggers. Plus her food ain’t too shabby either!!

http://thehappylittlehome.blogspot.com/ Darling and infectious. Really, a girl you will want to spend time reading and could totally see myself hanging out with.

http://coleensrecipes.blogspot.com/ , so besides the scrumptious peanut butter cake that greats you at the top of the page… when feeling glum about our cold weather, I always feel a tad better when I see flashing on her page, the temperature in Wasilla. How could such cold weather produce such a warm person?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cheese Sublimation



I am a little bit back logged as this is a sandwich I made after my last post. It was lunch time, and I was blue. Too early for cocktails, so cheese had to do. However, I had no tomato soup, and I love that creamy bit of tart with my grilled cheese. So I decided to experiment. I put sharp cheddar and creamy tart goats cheese together. The pictures are terrible, my camera somehow got on some odd setting (likely because I had been stupidly toting it about in my purse) and hubby was not around to rescue me from my camera ignorance…so I had to make due.

I have to say, I the goat cheese adds an extra sharpness that I loved. I still missed my soup though!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Patrick Henry Charter School


First, I am sorry about the off topic commentary and rants of late, but hold on for one more. Second, most of my readers do not live in Richmond, so likely this is of no interest to you unless you just love to delve into the craziness of local politics. I also have to apologize that this has ABSOULTEY positively nothing to do with food.

So why am about to post on something not of interest to most of my readers???? Because I am using the only vehicle I have to get the word out to folks in Richmond that read my blog that might have a dog in this fight. So there (kidding!!).

I would love to go into a litany about the love /hate relationship I have with the city in which I choose to call home, however, for once in my mouthy life, I will attempt to show some restraint and stick to the topic at hand, schools. Though, let me be frank, it is killing me!

Richmond, is not in a totally unique position. I believe, that in America we have a public school crisis. This crisis will rock our country in about 20 years, when we are having a hard time competing in a world economy because our kids are going to lack the critical and analytical skills needed to compete against workers educated outside the U.S. That said, Richmond seems to take special pride in cultivating terrible schools.

Then came a dedicated group of parents that wanted a change. They were tired of seeing their friends leave to go to the county once their children got school age. They loved their city and they wanted the kids of Richmond to have an innovated and cutting edge school. They have worked tirelessly, for YEARS, to bring about Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts (PHSSA). Each step of the way Richmond Public Schools has thrown up, what the average person, would see as near insurmountable obstacles. I, for one, am ashamed to say, I never thought they could do it. This band of 20 or so folks, scaled every obstacle. Their support continued to snowball and their grassroots effort took hold. Richmond wanted a change and PHSSA embodied that change. They set about doing what Richmond had been failing to do for 20 or more years. Provided an opportunity to each and every child within the city to not only an adequate education but a stellar one.

After years and years of work they are set to open their doors in July (it is a year round school). For those of you that don’t know what a charter school is let be back up a little and explain. A charter school is a public school, it is available, at no cost, to any student (in this case any student in the city of Richmond). However, the total cost of opening the doors is born by the charter school. They only get public funding once the doors are open. Once open, a Charter school still has to pay some of there own way ,unlike a public school, but that cost is covered by fundraisers and grants, not by charging admission. PHSSA has been able to secure all the funds needed to open their doors. Now, at the twelfth hour, after hundreds of thousands of dollars have been secured, Richmond Public Schools is trying to renege on funding promised and needed once the doors open. I wish I could say I was shocked I am not.

Someone asked me why, why wouldn’t Richmond Public Schools want to add to their accomplishments a Charter school? She went on to say, every area she has ever known that has had charter options has thrived. It is a good question. Richmond is an amazing city, that has thrived not because of great leadership but in despite of bad. I can’t imagine the booming city Richmond could be if it could just simply say 4 words, “We have great schools.” This really is a matter of if you build it they will come. So what could Richmond possibly stand to loose by not supporting this?

Simple, it will be a glaring monument to the fact that Richmond leaders had failed their residents. It took 20 people to do what a city either could not or would not. It will be an unquestionable documentation to the fact that Richmond Public Schools had not only failed their children but have continually done so, not for lack of resource but simply for lack of want. It is shameful and they know it.

So if you live in Richmond and want to support PHSSA please come to the school board meeting February 1st details linked here http://www.richmond.k12.va.us/schoolboardnew/index.htm

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bacardi Wants Your Money, However Leave Your Opinions at the Door

Okay, I will come back, at some point to tell you about the eggplant parm, trimmed down, however (It was very good) I am taking a moment to “share.” Please indulge my little rant and do with it what you will.

Let me give you the back story… my husband received, as a gift, for Christmas a bottle of Disaronno. Disaronno is typically too sweet of a drink for me, but I thought it would make an interesting modification on a Manhattan. I was right. I am not sure what possessed me but I thought I would e-mail them and share my idea. I sent an e-mail simply requesting information on how I could send a recipe idea I had using their product. Silly, I know, but I guess I was (pardon the pun) full of the spirit.

Here is the response I got back:

01/17/10


Dear Vanessa,

We are frequently received information, ideas or inventions (“Information”) from people who are not our employees. It is our policy to return, unopened, all identifiable unsolicited Information. If, due to inadvertence or due to lack of knowledge of contents, an envelope is opened, it is our policy to forward the Information to our Legal Department who then returns it to the sender with out giving it any consideration.

Should you want to submit your information to us, please write to:

Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.
Legal Department
Attention: Advertising & Trade Practice Counsel 2100 Biscayne Blvd Miami, FL 33137

and request a copy of our “Unsolicited Information / Idea Submission Policy” (Policy) for completion before submitting your information. Information received before compliance with our Policy with be return without consideration and we assume no risk, obligation or liability whatsoever regarding the reception, retention, confidentiality and consideration of you Information.

Best Regards,


I am leaving the customer service representatives name off, because she was just doing her job and should not be included in my disgust. So follow me on my ride of logic.

Here is basically what she said, if anyone ever wants to contact our company via mail, they are required to write and ask for permission to write to us, once and only once that permission is granted, they may then write. Furthermore, lets say I purchased their product and had a problem with it, and I wrote them to address my grievance. Lets also assume, I didn’t know I had to write and ask permission to write (ughhh…duhhh), they would just send my letter back unread and unopened. Really. Really???

It seems to me the proper response to my question was:
Dear Vanessa,

Please don’t bother, we really don’t care at all about our customers. Your satisfaction, is really and totally irrelevant to us Really. I mean seriously, we are not joking about this. If you have a problem with it, please write us and ask for permission to complain. If permission (oh, and this is such a LONG shot!) is granted, you must twirl around twice prior to licking the stamp or we will not be able to give consideration to your complaint.

Stuff it sucker,

Bacardi.



Grrrr. Look let me make it clear that if they simply responded, that they don’t accept recipes, I would have no issue. I get it, they probably get thousands of recipes from silly girls like me that think they stumbled on to some great new drink. What I have an issue with is that this is their policy for ANY UNSOLICATED mail. Really. Really? Wow. It is sad to me. Maybe I am just sick of companies that seem to have forgotten that they need customers to make money, and that possibly it would behoove them to treat their customers decently. However, I can’t blame them because, we seem to have forgotten the ultimate power we have as consumers, not to purchase their product.

So on that note, I will in no way be a consumer of Bacardi products. The list includes:

Bacardi Rum (that was a surprise huh!)
Disaronno
Martini and Rossi
Dewars
Bombay Saphire (the most overrated martini gin in this girls humble opinion)
Cazadores
Grey Goose
42 below
Havana Club Drambuie
Eristoff Vodka
B&B and Benedictine Liquores


Maybe I should send them a letter letting them know I am not a customer any longer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Trying to Get On the Wagon


Okay you know when you start getting harassed by relatives to blog again, that you have totally fallen off the wagon. Joel and I try to eat reasonably healthy (too bad a bottle of wine in one sitting isn’t considered such…sigh), but along with the thrones of other fools we decided to recommit to healthy eating after the holidays. Thus my leaned down eggplant parmesan.

Before I get yelled at that this is not healthy… I know, I get it. I am not calling this boiled chicken breast, steamed broccoli, with a side of water. It is, after all, eggplant parmesan---ish.

I didn’t bread the eggplant. I sliced and salted it and let is sweat for about 45 minutes to an hour. I then with a brush coated a non stick with oil and cooked the slices. I covered it with a lid to try and hold in most of the moister. To my surprise.. .it caramelized nicely and all said I used ¼ of oil for 1 and a half eggplants.

I then sautéed 1 lb. lean ground beef, with fennel and onion, and seasoning.

In a pot, threw more fennel and onion and sweat that out and then put a container of crushed tomatoes and 4 grated garlic cloves and abut ¼ of wine and let that cook down.

Then I layered starting with eggplant, then beef, sauce, and repeat. I ended with sauce and large amounts of parmesan and then sliced fresh mozzarella and baked at 350 for 30.

Sorry for the short handed instructions…getting back on the wagon can be hard J I will let you know later how it turned out!


Happy new year all!!