Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wine tasting


We hosted a wine tasting at our house! The purpose was to get through some of the bottles we had been hoarding for a couple of years, and share them with our wine-appreciating friends. We themed up and tasted 9 Zinfandels. About 6 years ago, we were really into going to vineyards and wineries, visiting little tasting rooms up and down California, and having nice little getaway weekends. We ended up returning from one of these trips with more wine than we could store efficiently. We bought a wine fridge, AND got an offsite storage facility for the overflow. We kept up and bought more and more, and one day I realized that our entire wine fridge only held Zinfandel. It turned out, I was sick to death of Zinfandel too! So a lot of the Zin sat, especially offsite because it was easy to forget about.
Keven made this cheese snowman - all edible!
Over the years we had whittled down some of the Zin, but still had enough to host a tasting for about 11 of us. We didn't want the tasting to be too structured, but enough so that people could taste and learn and enjoy (and not just get drunk, though that happened too). We did a blind tasting, covering up the labels and numbering them. We figured it was easier to remember you were on number three, instead of relying on remembering a name you had never heard of before. All in all, the night was a success!
Lots of cheese and crackers that night

Swiss Enchiladas


Once Thanksgiving is over, it's as if the only food in the world is Mexican food. It's the right time of year for tamales, enchiladas, champurrado, tacos, hot carrots, pozole, chips, salsa, negro modelo….. As if summer doesn't have it's own built-in daily taco need, especially fish tacos. I digress. I love Thanksgiving, but after the main meal, I rarely want leftovers, it's weird. The food is rich, plentiful, takes a lot of preparation, and the occasion (for many) equals travel, effort, coordination and patience. I love it, and it's all worth it! But after the meal, I don't want to see it again for a good long while.
Back to Mexican food. I made these enchiladas when some friends came over, to celebrate and hang out, and eat something other than turkey and stuffing! We drank lots of wine, and hung out at the house. Great times.
A couple of food notes- in my haste I grabbed gluten-free tortillas, and I really noticed how different they were in the final product. They did not absorb the milk, and so were a little tough and dry. Next time, I will make sure to grab the right thing. Also- I made the "Mexican Caesar" salad dressing from a recipe I found online. It was delicious! Thanks to my food processor, it was a cinch. Next time I can probably halve the recipe because it made a ton.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Almond Milk

I made almond milk at home! So fresh and so much better for me that the store-bought stuff.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day of the Dead

at Hollywood Forever Cemetery was … pretty cool. I enjoyed seeing the altars and listening to people's traditions. I also enjoyed seeing the different ways people honored their friends and relatives who have passed on.
It was very crowded though (and this was during the daylight), that we only stayed for 2-3 hours. I think we saw enough to know that they do it right! After experiencing this tradition deep in Mexico, I knew nothing else could compare. But I was pleasantly surprise with the celebration in Los Angeles.
Many people wore painted faces and had costumes.
This was something I didn't really see in the cemeteries in Mexico.
But traditions differ from town to town, city to city

Outside the mausoleum

There were several interactive alters, this was one I really liked.
Quite simply, you write the name of your loved one on one of these sticks
and place it in the dirt. This is a way of reaching out to them,
keeping the connection between loved ones alive 

Inside the mausoleum

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spinach with garlic and lemon

I love spinach this way!! I put the effort into cooking the nutritious side dish, while Trader Joes provided the easy, microwaveable main course of tamales. What a collaboration!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pancakes

I made the family recipe for pancakes! Due to recent discovery of an egg sensitivity I had to use an egg substitute. They turned out a little different than the norm, but that could have been any other factor: seldom used flour, no-salt butter, the egg replacer... Anyway- the taste was great and they were merely a little puffier than normal (not a huge crime)! And I am a newbie at cooking bacon for some reason, did pretty well at that too!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

watching, reading...

watching - Breaking Bad, again
reading - Stealing Food Road, by Brian Krepshaw
listening - to Valerie June and Slayer
looking - art deco cars, duct tape art, 21C museums and (soon) Camille Rose Garcia exhibit
cooking - basic protein, veg and carb. Soon- soups, stews, pot roasts and gumbo... it's feeling like Fall!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Country Girl Farm


The last stop in Kentucky before flying out - a B'n'B Farm off the interstate. This place was fantastic and really rounded out our trip to the south. The lady who runs it was so nice and personable. She was "always a country girl at heart" and finally moved out to the country (from Connecticut) to start her dream. She was great, the space was great, and this experience really locked in my feelings about everyone we met in Tennessee and Kentucky.

People were so nice, genuine and proud of where they're from. When you asked a question, people took the time to answer and help. It was more than good service from someone merely getting paid to be cordial and do their job. More like, we all live on this planet, let's share ideas and help one another out. Many people seemed genuinely interested in our journey, where we might go next, etc. It was really really a refreshing change.



Back to the farm. I'm so glad I got to squeeze in some farm work after a lovely home-cooked breakfast and before having to hit the road. It reminded me of going to my grandparent's farm every summer growing up- great memories.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bourbon in Kentucky 2

Bardstown, Loretto, etc.
A friend had recently toured Kentucky, specifically the Bourbon Trail, and he gave us some tips. Though we are not regular Maker's Mark drinkers, he told us we could dip our own bottles in wax at the Maker' Distillery, so we needed to stop by. We were there for a dip, a sandwich and off to the next one in 30 minutes or less. Actually it would have been cool to tour this one, because it is so huge. In fact, the parking lot reminded us of Disneyland, lots of tourists, shuttles, people, buildings, groups, etc. Anyway- we bought 2 bottles, and each dipped our own. Mine turned out kinda lame, but at least I brought mine home and look forward to drinking it. The husby's turned out super cool and drippy, but we had to kill that bottle on our trip..
Afterward, we went to Willet, we had heard so many good things. This is a small batch distillery, very different from Buffalo Trace, even though it looked huge to us. We took the tour.
One of the many warehouses on the premises where the barrels age


Mash

I loved how worn and raw these buildings were

Yes

Bourbon in Kentucky

Part of the reason to go to Kentucky (a huge part) was to check out the Bourbon Trail. Assuming that hitting up a few distilleries would be similar to wine-tasting in California, I quickly learned that I was mistaken. We had to drive several hours between distilleries in Kentucky. Perhaps it was because we had specific ones we wanted to see and tour, and this covered half the state!
We started out close to Lexington, Kentucky. First stop was Four Roses, which was great, though brief. Bought some glasses, enjoyed a taste, and moved on. The next day, another hour or so from Lexington (in a different direction from 4 Roses), we took a tour at Buffalo Trace. Buffalo Trace is probably our favorite Bourbon to drink at home, so it was definitely worth getting up early for the tour! Interesting, large, historic, tasty..



The bottling of Pappy Van Winkle. Expensive, I can only assume fantastic.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Louisville

I did NOT get enough time in this city! First of all, we lost an hour (that we didn't really factor in). And we had to leave to get to our dinner reservations, and almost miss them due to traffic. I just never factored in traffic in the south (like I do any time I go anywhere in Los Angeles). As a result, we had a short and sweet visit. We know we must return, and the traffic-enduced reroute resulted in us seeing lots of farms and backroad country we would never have seen otherwise. So all in all, not a bad trip. But only an introduction.
Watermelon, radish and goat cheese salad. Apparently a known paring,
as this was not the first time I saw it on a menu in the south.
It was delicious!
We ate at a restaurant called Hillbilly Tea, which I found on Eater. I didn't realize that almost all of the restaurants close between lunch and dinner (from 3-5) and that those were the hours we would be there! Anyway- our awesome waiter suggested a few things to see with our 3 hours, and we had a great time!


The new-ish pedestrian walking bridge..
Will take you all the way to Indiana when it's finished!
Our friends (and our new friend the waiter, let's call him Robert) suggested going to the 21C Museum Hotel. Not only are there art galleries in the bottom floor of the hotel, but the bathroom has a one way mirror in it. You can pee, watching the public, and they can't see you! How exciting!
Then there was THIS exhibit! An outdoor exhibit, you could probably easily miss if you didn't know to look for it. It was these three drums, located in an outdoor corridor, that blew smoke rings at random intervals (around 4-7 seconds apart). I could have watched this for hours. It might have been the coolest thing I've ever seen. Seriously, I dig stuff like this.




OMG

And what trip to Louisville would be complete without checking out the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory? I wish we had had more time.




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nashville

We just got back from a great vacation to parts of the country I have never visited. At least- that was the excuse to go! And I'm so glad we did.
We visited Nashville, Tennessee, a handful of places in Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio, then flew to a music festival outside of Denver, Colorado. I am still trying to catch up on rest. But what a great trip! Adventure, music, art, old friends, new friends, farms, storms, distilleries, coffee houses, smoke rings and new jeans!





Nashville alone I could dedicate a week to. We saw some antique art deco cars, ate barbecue, met several really nice locals, tried the new hip restaurant, experienced Air BnB for the first time, watched an awesome bluegrass jam session, visited an old school print house, country music historical buildings, went to the house that jack (white) built, met other out-of-towners music fans, learned a new phrase: Brazilbilly...