Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review: What to Drink with What You Eat

What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers by Andrew Dornenburg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publishers Description (I am abbreviating it as it was a little long)

"The most comprehensive guide to matching food and drink ever compiled, by the James Beard Award winning author team of Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, with practical advice from more than seventy of America’s leading pairing experts...

Exceptional in its depth and scope - with over fifteen hundred entries - What to Drink with What You Eat is based on the collective wisdom of experts at dozens of America’s best restaurants, including Alinea, Babbo, Bern’s, Blue Hill, Chanterelle, Daniel, Emeril’s, French Laundry, Frontera Grill, Inn at Little Washington, Jean Georges, Masa’s, The Modern, Per Se, Rubicon, Tru, and Valentino.

You’ll find authoritative recommendations for stocking your cellar and kitchen with must-have beverages, from wines to waters. You’ll also learn what to drink with everything from French toast to Chinese food, and what to eat with everything from Pinot Noir to green tea, to create mouthwatering matches. Follow the authors three simple Rules to Remember when making a match - or just dive into the wide-ranging listings in chapters 5 and 6. "

I really really want to have this book on my bookshelf. It is amazing. It made me feel so much more at ease about pairing food with not only wine but tea, beer and other beverages. It mostly talks about wine though. It is put together in a way that makes it easy to follow - very user friendly. It is an essential reference for serving wine with a meal.

It not only goes in how to pair food and wine but a little bit of history, geography of wine such as what areas produce what types of wine, it gives how to actually taste wine and other expert techniques.

They had 3 simple rules to follow to when starting out...
1 - Think Regionally: If it grows together, it goes together.
2 - Come to your senses: Let your five sense guide your choices
3 - Balance Flavors: Tickle your tongue in more ways then one.

Of course they explain those rules indepth in the book. And make the process as easy as possible for those of us new to pairing beverages with food or foods with beverages. And it does go both ways in this book to make it very easy. Lets say someone gave you a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and you want to make something to go with it. You would look up Cabernet Sauvignon in the book and it has a list of food that go well with it. It has a list of herbs, meats, cheese, veggies, legumes, fruits and just everything you can think of but not only that it also tells you how to cook. Such as it said that Cabernet Sauvignon is good with grilled meats such as hamburgers and beef - braised, grilled, roasted or stewed. It also works the other way if you are serving chicken in cream sauce then it tells you what wine or beverage goes good with it it (Chardonnay - especially a full bodied California). It lists things in general too so if you aren't sure what you are going to do with the chicken yet. I just really loved how easy it was to follow.

As I said above I think this is an essential book for those of us serving wine with a meal.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, August 30, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 (12 inch) pizza dough crust
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
4 slices thick cut bacon - cooked and chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Seasoning to taste such as red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese

Preheat oven (and pizza stone if that is what you cook homemade pizza on) to 425 degrees.

Spread 1/3 cup barbecue sauce around the pizza dough. Top with shredded chicken, bacon, scallions and parmesan. Sprinkle with seasonings. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake pizza until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 15 to 18 minutes. Slice and serve.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. contact from an old friend via Facebook. I have missed her. She just got married. I am so very happy for her.
2. a great day out and about with Michael my love. I haven't been sleeping so having a great day out was just what I needed. He alwas knows what I need.
3. Michael knowing what I need. I am very grateful for Michael always knowing what I need.
4. a poetry book given to me by good friends. They have poems and photographs in it and I am grateful to enjoy their beautiful work.
5. a nice bottle of wine we shared this evening - that we bought when we had a friend visit not to long ago. We took her on the winery tour and picked up a few bottles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

100 Things | Socks

19. I love socks.

My feet are almost always cold. Walking around the house, I don't like shoes but I do wear socks during the fall and winter. And sometimes into the spring. And so with the fall coming on, I can't wait to wear socks.

These are fun and cute socks that were given to me by my good friend Mandy. She found them at a place called the Sock Market.

One of my favorite places to get socks is TJMaxx because I can get good quality socks at a very low price. I got 3 pairs of ragwool socks - black and white, navy and white, khaki and white - for $2 a piece in 1991. And they still are in great condition.

This red pair of wool socks is again a pair I got at TJMaxx and bought them when I was in college. So a LONG LONG time ago. And they are just staring to wear through the bottom and I know I will cry big crocodile tears when I lose them. As they are my FAVORITE pair of socks. They are so warm and comfy!

Stripy Socks who doesn't like stripey socks! They are warm and fuzzy too.

One of my favorite places to get socks is One thing I really like about them is that I wear skirts and dresses mostly and during winter I wear lots of tights. But when I discovered Sock Dreams I found they have warm over the knee or socks that come up on thighs. I have several pairs. This pair in the picture is like wearing leg warmers but connected to socks. I have a sweater that has that purple color in it and wear them with a jean skirt. It is very comfy and warm.

The packaging on these said "cloud socks." Very soft and warm. I participated in a sock exchange between friends a couple years ago and got these from my friend Angie. There were 3 pairs in the package - pink, light blue and lavender. And I wear them a lot during the winter and especially to bed as my feet usually are their coldest right before bed.

These are hand-knitted slippers made for me by my friend Kaylee. They are beautiful. She hand-dyed the yarn, felted and made to fit me. They are the thickest and the warmest slipper socks. I am very thankful to my friend for giving me such a beautiful gift.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Doing Not Thinking Challenge

So my goals for this Doing Not Thinking Challenge goals are:
1. Work on art once a month (great if more but I want to at least try for once a month)
2. Create Soul Collage cards (like at least 3 done by the end of challenge)
3. Organizing and decluttering - which I have been working on already but want to continue with these areas
* storage
* Michael’s office
* bedroom closet
* front closet
4. Sew one thing. I haven't sewn in years and picked up a basic sewing book at the library and want to make it a goal just to sew one thing so that I don't keep putting it off.

Progress: I actually kind of forgot about the challenge because I have been out of town 3 weeks out of the last 5. So I am going to try to get back on track but as I have said this challenge I am just not accomplishing my goals like I did last challenge. I am trying not to beat myself up about it but of course I am a little bit.

Goals Completed: bedroom closet, Michael's office and front closet

Birthday Wishes....

Wishing my beautiful sister a VERY Happy Birthday! Michael and I hope your day is filled with celebration of YOU! You are an amazing woman and I truly blessed to call you my sister! I love YOU!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Banana Layer Cake

The fudge chocolate frosting recipe made enough to frost 2 whole cakes. Next time I will use another chocolate frosting recipe. Maybe a milk chocolate one.

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks of butter, unsalted - room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 medium - very ripe peeled bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use powdered buttermilk*)
3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts - OPTIONAL

1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda until blended with a whisk.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter with a mixer on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Add the bananas and vanilla and beat until well blended and only small bits of banana remain. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each. The mixture will look lumpy but it will come together. Add half the flour mixture on low until just blended. Add the buttermilk until just blended. Then add remaining flour and mix until just blended. Stir in walnuts, if using.

4. Evenly divide into the 2 pans. Bake until tops are brown and a toothpick or cake tester come out clean about 30 minutes. Transfer pans to racks and let cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Invert the layers onto racks and remove pans. Let cool completely.

5. Brush the loose crumbs from the cooled cake. Place the bottom cake upside down. Frost first layer of cake. Add second cake and frost top and sides. Cake can be served at room temperature but also in my opinion good cold.

* I use powdered buttermilk. I don't always use up a carton of buttermilk. And the powdered buttermilk lasts much longer. So I have found it is much easier to have that around.

Here is the powdered buttermlik that I use....


Friday, August 21, 2009

Where did Michael Go?

Very good question.

My last entry was back in March and ... well ... I haven't been very good at blogging, have I.....

Well - I don't think I have a lot of excuses to offer. I don't email people as often as I once did. Things have been busy and well, things haven't exactly gone very well. In fact, Darby noticed a change in me since January and the only thing I can say is that there's been a cloud, a heavy cloud for quite some time.

Physically - I can actually feel it hanging above my eyes ... it's a pressure that feels like a heavy blanket weighing down on my head, my mind, my eyes....

It has been a depression that just hasn't really let go. It's been building and building -- without much of a reprieve or opportunity to adjust the slope and climb out of the ruts I've found myself in. The latest rut has been very difficult that has been settling in this summer.

I've been pretty good at managing depressions for a long time - but there are times when it just starts to rise faster than I'm doggy paddling. That's how it has felt all year - and admitting that much has helped me realize that it's okay to go through it. The influx of work has helped - as it has been one of the major stressors with the downturn of the economy. Having stable jobs has been difficult to maintain - as everyone is hurting.

So that's where I've been.

I'm feeling better than I have been - but I'm still feeling the cloud hanging around. I fully recognize that depressions generally don't evaporate like a fog - as it takes a lot of work to eventually have them dissipate. I'm coming out of my shell a bit more and that's a good thing. Shells are good for self-repair, but hardly ideal for any significant living quarters.

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. Really good deals on groceries this week - pantry and freezer are stocked quite a well again.
2. Being given an advance reader copy of Her Fearful Symmetry
3. something that I didn't give gratitude for earlier - that I should have - a wonderful package from a dear friend. She really put a lot of thoughts, care and love into it. Thank you for your friendship Kaylee!
4. being home. I have enjoyed all my time out of town but it is nice to be home too.
5. great dinner of steak, baked potatoes and salad - yums!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dirty Vase

Michael was waiting for me at the airport with roses when I came back from Minnesota. Beautiful roses that I had problems finding a vase that would fit them nice. I have 2 vases that are my favorite. And both very nice crystal vases. One is a Lennox and over the years the crystal has become cloudy. I have tried cleaning it with vinegar and baking soda and a tooth brush but it just doesn't do anything to improve it. So I told myself this time after these roses die, I would find a way to clean that vase. I rememered reading that people have used denture tablets on discolored vases so I decided to try it. I picked up a box of denture tablets at the dollar store. And let me tell you - it WORKED! Really well!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time Traveler's Wife - Her Fearful Symmetry

I came back from Minnesota with an email waiting in my inbox from the publishers of The Time Traveler's Wife. They read my review online and knowing that people online were really the ones to make The Time Traveler's Wife gain interest and success - they were wanting to send advance reader copies out to people to do a blog review and generate that interest again. And I was one of those people. So of course I wrote them back. And when we got back from our Denver trip, Audrey Niffenegger's new book Her Fearful Symmetry was waiting for me. I read about 50 pages and already know I am going to love it, just beautiful writing. I need to finish 2 books I checked out at the library and then I will finish reading Her Fear Symmetry. And of course I will be doing a review of it too.

I have to say it is pretty exciting to be contacted like that and just be one of the people wanted to have do a review of it. The Time Traveler's Wife is in my top ten books. I reread it again recently and didn't want the book to end.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Doing Not Thinking Challenge

So my goals for this Doing Not Thinking Challenge goals are:
1. Work on art once a month (great if more but I want to at least try for once a month)
2. Create Soul Collage cards (like at least 3 done by the end of challenge)
3. Organizing and decluttering - which I have been working on already but want to continue with these areas
* storage
* Michael’s office
* bedroom closet
* front closet
4. Sew one thing. I haven't sewn in years and picked up a basic sewing book at the library and want to make it a goal just to sew one thing so that I don't keep putting it off.

Progress: I actually kind of forgot about the challenge because I have been out of town 3 weeks out of the last 5. So I am going to try to get back on track but as I have said this challenge I am just not accomplishing my goals like I did last challenge. I am trying not to beat myself up about it but of course I am a little bit.

Goals Completed: bedroom closet, Michael's office and front closet

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. Noodles and Company - we don't have one in Grand Junction so try to get a chance to eat Noodles when we come over to Denver. And we did tonight. It was really good.
2. coloring with Michael's Mom tonight
3. work set up and take down and just the filming in general going well
4. quality time with Michael's parents. We have had lots of fun on Wednesday and are going to spend the day with them tomorrow too.
5. the men and women that defend this country. I heard some stories the last 2 days that broke my heart in how we treat those that serve in the military. I have always had a profound respect for those that serve in the military but that just deepened even more after hearing their stories.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To Denver

We are leaving to go to Denver today. Before I left for vacation, we got some hard news about Michael's Dad. And while I was gone we got even more bad news. So while we are going over for work we are also just spending time with his parents. It will be nice to see them and spend some quality time with them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time Travelers Unite on Facebook

So last night when we went to bed, I picked up my book to read a bit. And Michael asked me what book I was reading. I told him that it was a series I read before but there is a new one coming out in the fall so I wanted to reread them all again. Now I talk to Michael about almost all the books I read. He has heard about Eat Pray Love so much I think he can quote lines and he didn't even read it. (BTW lala - I think you should read that book.) He has heard about Lovely Bones where the little girl is watching everything and everyone from "heaven." He has heard about artist wife that goes back home to help her Mom and has an affair (The Mermaid Chair.) And he has heard about Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife and Claire from the Outlander series who also time travels. It is the series I am rereading. I am on book 2 The Dragonfly in the Amber.

So anyway...I told him I was rereading the Outlander series. I told him that it was the one about the woman that time travels to Scotland 1745. And he asked if that was The Time Traveler's Wife. I said no different time traveling book. He replied that the time travelers should make a facebook page. And they could swap time traveling tips. They could also send each other drinks and yankee candles*.

And of course being tired - that set me off into a fit of giggles where the cats were looking at me like I lost my mind. I just had this image of Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife and Claire from Outlander sending each other yankee candles.

* if you don't have facebook - they have applications on there like meme, quizzes and then some that you can give virtual gifts. And drinks and yankee candles are just a couple things you can give.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My Summer Vacation

I don't' remember having to do the reports on my summer vacation when I was young girl in school but I am sure I did one or two. This time as an adult I want to remember my summer vacation as my trip was great. Seeing my family was incredible - just having so much time with them. Usually when I see them it is just a few rushed days. But this time it was just really good quality time with them. Michael said that when I came out to meet him at the curb to be picked up - I glowed. I told him I was sure that it was because I was excited to see him. But he says that he felt my trip relaxed me. And it did. He was waiting with roses for me at the airport. He is so great!

We did lots of shopping, eating, hanging out talking and laughing together. My sisters and I went to was Town Talk Diner which was one of the places featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had adult malts and frickles. Adult malts are just malts with alcohol. I had a German Chocolate Cake Malt and it had coconut rum and another liqueur that I can't remember at this moment. And then frickles are slices of dill pickles coated in batter and deep fried. And then dill mustard mayo to dip them in. I had never had a fried pickles before and they were SO GOOD! The malt was amazing too - and should have been for the price. We sat at the counter as the main dining area was closed when we came in. A couple came in that in talking to them sounded like they decided to just take a trip to Minneapolis to try out some of the places that have been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. My sisters and I thought it sounded like a nice reason to go on a trip to just pick up and go on a trip to eat!

After the Farmer's Market and Sculpture Garden, my sisters and I went to have homemade ice cream at Sebastian Joe's where I had chocolate praline that was delicious. I had a sample of the raspberry chip - which was great and then also tasted of my sister's ice cream which one was called Pavarotti that was banana with caramel and chocolate chips. And then coconut cream pie. Next to Sebastian Joe's was a cute little store called Patina's . Another cute store we went to was Good Things. I picked up a few gifts for friends and Michael at each place. Another place we went that I wanted to go while there because I knew my Mom and sisters would like it and that is Penzeys Spices. A very good friend of mine sent me a gift basket of several of their spices. And Michael knows when I use a Penzeys as it just tastes so much better. He will often say to me - "did you use a Penzeys?" And always my reply is yes because you can tell the difference when cooking with them. My sister and my Mom bought me several spices. I can't wait to use them.

My sister had bought her house since I had been there last. So it was nice to finally see it. It is a cute house and she has decorated it really nice. I love the colors she is using. It is obvious the work she is putting into it. I spent the night there one night. But we had other times of just all us girls hanging out. It was good quality sister time. I miss them a lot and it was good to just hang out talk and laugh and really get to know them as adults better. I have lived so far away their whole adult lives basically. I mean I know them but I also see the beautiful women they have grown into and their interests and dreams now as adults.

I had a great time with my parents too. And often I wished I could see them all much more then I do now. As I see my parents about once a year. And I see my sisters about once every other year. It would be nice to see them more often but I live far away so not easily done.

My main purpose for going to see my family was that we were throwing my Grandma a surprise birthday party. She is turning 85. So we all traveled one of my cousin's in Fargo, North Dakota for that party. And my Grandma was very surprised! And she LOVED the video Michael made for her. She was so surprised how many people came. I hadn't seen some of my cousins in over 10 years so it was great to see everyone. A cousin of my Dad's who babysat me when I was little was there as well as my godparents. And I can't even tell you when the last time I saw them - it might be about 20 years. And silly me didn't think about getting a photo of them. I took a lot of pictures but there were time I just didn't think about it was I was busy visiting and just doing stuff.

The next day we had another surprise birthday party for one of my cousins who is turning 40. It was at my Aunt and Uncle's lake house. And the lake house was fun! My cousins, their spouses and kids - just were a joy to be around. I had so much fun. My Aunt and Uncle had all their kids and grandkids there so they got a group shot - 18 grandkids. 3 infants and the oldest grandchild is 12. My one cousin's baby was so cute (all the babies were cute) because he just was smiling all the time. He had a little tuff of hair sticking straight up down the center of his head just like a mohawk.

One day it was really breezy out and of course I didn't get sunscreen on fast enough so ended up with a burn on my arms, neck and chest.

My cousin Rhonda and I are very close. We are close in age. I was the first grandchild and she was the next. So we just were together a lot. She and I had a good time catching up. We always had such a fun time as young girls talking and giggling. I miss her a lot so it was nice to see her.

It was just a lot of fun and again I wished often that I saw everyone more. But I am so thankful for the time with them. I know Michael had to work hard without me here so I am thankful he made it possible for me to go and spend time with my family. I can't even begin to express what it meant to me to see everyone and have such an incredible time. I know that this vacation will be one that I cherish and remember for a very long time.