Monday, September 28, 2009


The first day of Fall may have been 100 degrees in my neck of the woods, but I hung my warm fall colored wreath on our front door anyway and welcomed the new season. Today the temps cooled down to low 80's. Tomorrow is to be even cooler and cloudy. Finally, signs Fall is here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wine Country Sights on the Way to Lancaster Estate Winery Today

The smell of crush was in the air in so many areas of the wine country today. You could tell what areas had a winery or more crush grapes that morning. I love that smell in the air!
I can easily envision the wine maker walking through the rows of grapes in the vineyards very early in the morning, tasting, tasting, tasting.....knowing which grapes if any are now ready and need to be picked and crushed that morning. Exciting time in the wine country.

Moving down the highway......

Gotta love Dean and DeLuca's.

Afternoon at Lancaster Estate Winery

There was a special event at Lancaster Estate Winery today as a thankyou to their club members. It was very hot, very beautiful, and as always a delightful time. The smell of the crush was in the air. They actually did some crushing early that morning, and then cleaned the same area up to throw this fabulous party.

Tastings were in the wine cave.

Not that good legs on the glass are really all that important, but look at these. Beautiful.

They served paella and roasted pig. There were also cheeses with bread and crackers and ice water with lemon or cucumber water.

Serving up the roasted pig. It was so good - very tender and moist. Great flavor.

The vegetarian paella.

The more traditional paella with shrimp, clams, mussels, chunks of boneless chicken, sausage slices and vegetables.
My plate with both versions of paella and roasted pig.
David and others enjoying the great food and listening to the band which was a floor below. (People at railing are looking down at them.) It was such a lovely afternoon, though hot - very close to 100 degrees. Thank goodness the wine cave is cool, however it also echoed inside so the sound of so many voices was deafening.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wonderful Family Time in Truckee!

Ryan and Katie were married Saturday the 19 of September in Iowa and honeymooned in Lake Tahoe, California. Wednesday we all met at Jen and John's house since they are so close to Tahoe. We had such a great time together. Katie is a sweetie. We were so thrilled to finally meet her and have special time with her and Ryan.
The men: David, Ryan John are in the back. In front Jacob and Justin

The ladies: Jen, Katie and Me

Gram Gram showing Jacob how he can see himself in a picture on her camera.

Listening to lesson.

Thinking about it all.

Flirty smile at Gram Gram because he now wants to take pictures with her camera.

The newlyweds Katie and Ryan, they are so cute together. A great couple.

Justin organizing the football trading cards Grandad and Gram Gram brought for him.

Justin concentrating on the football cards.
It was a special afternoon with special people.

Our Happy Girl!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Callie Has Found Her Thumb!

mmm mmm good!

It takes two Baby.......

Plum-Rum Conserve

In an 8-quart pot, combine 3 cups pitted, peeled and crushed ripe plums, 5 cups sugar, 1 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter.
Over medium-low heat, heat the mixture sitting constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup toasted chopped almonds (can use pecans or walnuts). Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove the pan form the heat. Skim off any foam. Add 1/3 cup light rum and stir. Be careful, this will bubble and pop because of the very hot mixture and alcohol.
To prevent floating fruit let the conserve cool for 5 minutes before filling jars. Gently stir the conserve to distribute fruit. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean damp cloth; cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process 1/2-pint jars for 10 minutes in a 200 degree F water bath, pint jars 15 minutes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kitchen Moments This Week

I spent a lot of the week in the kitchen preserving foods which I adore doing. Above is one of the two batches of plum jam I made and canned. I love how the light from the kitchen window is shinning through some of the jars.

I also put up 1 batch of sliced red onions in white wine vinegar and 2 batches of red onion wedges in red wine vinegar.

Made this sauce for dinner one evening - meat sauce with veal and cream. Lovely.

Tried this new recipe for a pumpkin-zucchini bread which was not good. It has a lot of melted butter in it which actually weighed down the bread I feel. Though moist it is also dense and didn't rise much at all. I didn't like the texture of the crust which was tough. This is not a keeper. I love the concept of the pumpkin and zucchini though and will try other recipes or try and create my own over time.
A few people have emailed me and asked how I skim the foam off my jams. I find using a paper towel (sometimes you have to do it 2 or 3 times with new clean paper towels) and gently pressing it to the surface of the hot jam, making sure to press gently around the edges. This works the best for me. Simple, quick, and not messy. Just pick up all 4 corners of the towel when removing from jam surface and drop right into your garbage which I have next to me on the floor.

I made another batch of peach jam this week as well as a batch of plum rum conserve. (I'll be posting the recipe for the plum rum conserves soon.) The plums are all from Theresa and Shawn's yard. The peaches I picked up at Costco which are Autumn Gold.

Dinner last night was a chicken dish that is in our normal menu rotation. It's a favorite of mine - boneless skinless chicken breast cooked in a foil packet topped with pesto, sliced zucchini, chopped tomatoes, green onions (tomatoes and onions from shared vegetable garden) baked in the oven. I make the packets up in the afternoon and refrigerate them until time to bake. Some steamed brown rice and a delicious dinner is on the table without much effort.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In My Kitchen - Greek Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

This was my lunch today. It is very good. This recipe is from Nick's Fish Market at The Fairmont Kea Lani resort in Maui. I made the full amount of dressing last night, and today for lunch I composed a salad the size I wanted to eat and used a portion of the vinaigrette to dress my salad.

1 cup olive oil
1 4-oz jar capers with liquid
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 hard cooked eggs, whites only, minced
2 tablespoons minced roasted red peppers from jar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

10 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges (I used small orange and red heirloom tomatoes form garden)
3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
2 Maui onions, chopped (about 3 cups), I used red because I had it
3 cups shredded hearts of romaine (about 1 head) I used baby spinach because it's what I had
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (about 9 ounces)
1 1/2 cups cooked bay shrimp

Vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Salad: Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Add vinaigrette to salad and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Note: This would be a great salad for a buffet. I am also thinking it would be pretty to dress the spinach/lettuce separately and place on a serving platter. Then dress the "goodies"separately and pile each one individually on top of the bed of spinach/lettuce for presentation.