Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Got Be Noon Somewhere.....

It was snowing again in NJ this morning, and as far as I'm' concerned, it's got to be Noon somewhere (preferably some place warm and sunny) so I can just get a little numb and forget about that white stuff falling on top of the 8" of white stuff still sitting in my yard.
No, really, I can't do that. Too much to do this afternoon. 
But, last weekend after several days without snow, we had a bottle of wine to celebrate, again thanks to my friends at the Wine Chateau.  This one was a Louis M. Martini 2011 Cabernet. Delish!
Typically, I am not much of a Cabernet drinker, but the reviews of this wine had me totally hooked! And to be fair, I was not disappointed once we opened it. It was not heavy at all, but had flavors of berries and a little green pepper without earthy or licorice flavors. I am not a licorice girl anyway, unless it 's the red one, so that worked really well for me.  The finish was smooth and this was a very drinkable wine which means in my world, it's perfect for a Friday night hang out and catch up, which is exactly when we had it!
Thanks again my friends at Wine Chateau-- not sure I would have made it this far through the winter without you.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Message in a Bottle- Drink Me.....

It's no secret that there has been a ridiculous amount of snow in NJ this winter. More than I can remember in several years, and enough to drive a woman to drink. Yes, that's right I said it.
Out loud.
In public.
Right here.
There is really only one way to handle multiple snow storms: comfort food and beverages. And lots of baking. So.... I've got wings, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and everything I need to make cookies, ice cream and whatever else my kids dream up. I've got a bunch of books on my kindle, and of course several others in print for reading. And, if the power stays on, and the Xbox doesn't go out, I'll make it through the next couple of days.
Thankfully, the people at The Wine Chateau have us parents covered. I received a shipment just after Christmas of three wines. In the spirit of post-holiday recovery, I saved them and did what I could to fit back into my clothes.
And let's just say that I'm glad I did because with a week's worth of snow, I'm gonna need them.
Happy New Year to Me!
With the first week of snow in January, we dove into the first bottle, but I still have two more left. That one was a Foley Estate Santa Rita 2011. I love a Pinot and this one was delicious. The longer the bottle was open, the more the wine opened up and presented truly balanced flavors. The fruit of currants and the spice of licorice made it perfect to accompany a spice rubbed flank steak on a cold winter night.

I've got two bottles to go and two snow storms on the way. So, while I'm not a typically a wine reviewer (book and food, sure, but not usually wine) I'm looking forward to sharing the next two bottles-- The Louis M. Martini and the Cakebread-- with anyone else who's looking to get creative during the never-ending winter.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Mother's Musical Choices

Growing up, I had a choice: Music or Sports. Anyone else?
At the time, middle school, there were not a lot of sports options for girls- more than there were for my mother, but not nearly as many as my own daughter has today. In 6th grade, I had given up gymnastics and was the only girl on an all boys soccer team. Let's just say it wasn't the best experience. By spring of that year, given my choice, I conceded to piano lessons. I was not the child blessed with perfect pitch or long fingers--that was my sister. I have smaller hands, cannot carry a tune, and wouldn't know a note by listening to it if it screamed in my ear.
Eventually, I hit high school, moved back to gymnastics (along with swimming and lacrosse) and left the piano behind. Until college. Yes, there was a boy involved, and he was much better playing the piano than I was, but I'll never forget my parents excitement when I asked them if they would be willing to pay extra for piano lessons at school. Once they picked themselves up off the floor (I know I heard the thump through phone), they readily agreed, and I was back at the piano for a semester and really enjoyed playing.
Fast forward 20 years. Now two of my three kids play instruments (they have their father's musical talents, and no it's not the boy from college) and the third is not far behind. I didn't make them choose, they have sports and music, and I couldn't love their versatility more. However, what all of that doesn't leave any of us with is extra time; especially for my youngest who willingly sits at the bench of our (currently out of tune) piano just to play and sing. I don't have the extra time or money to take him to weekly piano lessons, although I think he would enjoy them. I could clone myself, but then I might have a wardrobe problem..... and I'd need another car. That's not happening. I need a plan B.

Anyone else find themselves in this predicament? 
Willingness- plenty. Time- none. Budget- Tight. 

Thanks to the internet, e-books, You Tube and Amazon, once again technology has made way for the busy mom, and today (January 31) it's FREE.  Now we're getting somewhere! Here is the book:

Piano Scales, Chords & Arpeggios 
Lessons with Elements of Basic Music Theory: 
Fun, Step-By-Step Guide for Beginner to Advanced Levels (Book & Videos)

Damon Ferrante, a piano professor, composer, and award winnging pianist, has created 140 step-by-step lessons. Designed for all levels, from beginner to advanced, the additional 30 streaming videos are interactive, engaging and fun. As a kid, with my choice, this would have been so awesome! The lessons address piano technique, creativity, and understanding of music. Technically, I could use this for myself. I do have the piano in my living room after all.

Ferrante's method, used by thousands of pianists, has been proven to reduce the effort, time, and expense of piano learning. Time? Effort? Expense? I'm so in! This paricular book covers chords, scales, arpeggios, and basic music theory for all levels. There are videos to help too, which is great for the visual learner, and people like me who have no sense of tune or rhythm. 

Here is a link to the book, which is FREE on Amazon today, January 31st. It's a kindle version which of course can be downloaded and read on a Kindle or any computer or tablet with a Kindle app. I love that app!  Watch out kids! Time to dust off that piano!

Did you have similar choices? Are you more musically talented than I am? 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It Needs A Name!!!

I won't complain about the snow. I won't complain about the snow.
I won't complain about the snow......
Ok, I stopped. Actually, I have nothing to complain about. There was no school, I didn't have to drive anywhere, I didn't have to shovel, and there is egg nog from Christmas still in my refrigerator. Perfect for the day after a snowy night.
So... being stuck able to play in the house all day yesterday, I did what any mother of three would do. I sent the kids outside into the snow and made sorbet. Doesn't everyone make sorbet when it's 13 degrees outside? There's a reason for this though, I promise.

My mother arrived at my house on Christmas Eve bearing gifts-- several of them. They were yellow, large, round and four of them easily overflowed between her two hands: Meyer Lemons; hand delivered from Georgia! A cross between a lemon and lime, they are sweeter than a typical lemon, have a thinner skin, and are in season right now! Lucky for me.
So I put the lemons in my fruit bowl and waited for them to finish ripening. Fine by me, I had no idea of what to do with them.
Last year, I made a Meyer Lemon and Salted Caramel ice cream which was delicious. Making the same thing twice can be boring though, and I really needed to find a way to use these guys before they got too ripe and went the way of warmer days.
Some searching led me to a recipe for Lemon Sorbet from Cook's Illustrated-- my favorite source for recipes. But, me being me, I couldn't just leave the recipe the way it was, I had to make adjustments to allow for incorporating the three oranges on my counter that I neglected to use on New Year's Eve with our chocolate fondue.
Two Zests and a Spice

So.. two zests and some cinnamon later, I made a lemon, little bit o' orange and cinnamon sorbet. It tastes delicious, was really easy and captures that citrusy cinnamon flavor of winter.

I don't know what to call it!!!

It needs a name as bright and spicy as its blend of flavors. Somehow, it needs to capture the Meyer Lemon specialness that makes it great for this time of year. Winter is citrus season, but two years ago I created a Winter Citrus Chicken recipe so Winter Citrus Sorbet is out.

Bloggy buddies and foodies and anyone who appreciates sending their kids into the snow so they can play in the kitchen, share your idea for a name in the comments and I'll pick a winner. The prize? Not sure yet, but definitely the recipe and credit for helping me with my naming dilemma.