Sunday, October 27, 2013

Recipe for "Put a Duck In It" Sandwich

So, in addition to the recipes I create, I have decided to post my husband's as well, because he can concoct some amazing dishes.

This dish was inspired by a great charcuterie place we have gone to several times in Apple Hill, California. It's called Smokey Ridge and has the best sausages I think I have ever had. You can find their stuff at

Being huge fans of duck, we picked up some duck/pear sausage on our annual trip to Apple Hill, and hubs came up with this savory recipe. If you are in an area where you have access to a decent deli, I am sure you can track down some duck sausage, depending on the time of year.

"Put a Duck In It" Sandwich

1/2 head of cabbage
1/2 Black Arkansas Apple (if you do not have access to this, any kind of tart apple should do the job)
1/2 can of pineapple pieces (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce (if you can't find this, substitue for a sweeter teriyaki sauce)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
4 duck sausages
2 hoagie rolls
A dash of red pepper
A dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Cook the cabbage, apple, and pineapple together with the teriyaki  sauce, ginger, red pepper, and sesame oil. When cabbage is tender crisp, drain the veggies while keeping the residual sauce. Set aside. Cook the sausages in a skillet on medium heat. When cooked through, add any extra fat to the set aside teriyaki sauce.

Cut hoagie rolls in half. Dust with a dash of cinnamon and bake until toasted.

Pour dipping sauce into small bowls. Once rolls are finished, top with veggies and sausage. Add a small drizzle of the dipping sauce.

And voila! A rich, hearty fall meal to keep your tummy and tastebuds satisfied!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gluttony... Just Gluttony... And Romance, awww...

So, it's obvious that the hubs and I are foodies, and that we love to get our drink on when the time calls for it.

Apparently, the time called for it the weekend of our anniversary, since we decided on random last minute to book a super swanky hotel and head to San Francisco to see a band we really liked play--for free, mind you--at a bicyclist festival called Tour De Fat, sponsored by a brewery we really enjoy.

So, we jumped in the car last minute, drove through a torrential rainstorm, and ended up at one of our favorite places in Haight-Ashbury, Cha Cha Cha's, which serves excellent tapas and sangria of the gods,. I'm also partial to this place, because when my husband and I were just "friends," and I was so in love with him it was sick, he took me to this restaurant when we had gone to SF to see another concert. We spent an hour or so talking, like we always did and still do, about anything and everything. Whenever we are in San Francisco, we like to go there, for the memories as well as the wonderful food.

It had been raining up until this point, and hubs and I were happy to be in a dry location where we could thaw off and dry out. We feasted on plantains and black beans, pulled pork empanada, and fried calamari, all while sharing a pitcher of the most delicious sangria I have ever had--and I have tried my share.

When we had finished replenishing ourselves, we headed to Golden Gate Park for the festival. The ground was muddy and sodden, and my hair--which I had painstakingly done that morning--was lying like a dead dog on top of my head, so up it went into a ponytail while I resigned myself to the fact that my nice black slacks were not going to survive the excursion without being splattered with mud.

We grabbed some beers, nabbed a wet patch of grass, and watched the festivities, which included storytelling, a dance competition--won by a dude dressed like a giant hot dog--and the band we had come to see, Beats Antique. Also fitting considering Beats Antique is a band my husband shared with me when we first started dating, and we even danced to once or twice. So far, this random anniversary trip was ending up rather spontaneously romantic, especially since San Francisco was where we had taken our honeymoon.

After the show, some beer, and my husband getting hit on by a gay man, we headed to our hotel in Union Square, Villa de Florence, or something like that. I was excited because the hotel restaurant was somewhere I had been when I was a child and I kind of wanted to recreate a memory. However, the original memory was rather bittersweet, so I suppose you could say I wanted to make a new, better memory. I had tried to do this once before, and it had been completely blown by the company I was with, so I was looking forward to making a great memory with my husband. That was pretty much the sole reason he had booked the hotel...

But unfortunately, the hotel was overpriced for what we got, the staff--with the exception of one or two--were rude and snobbish, and the other guests were pretentious and looked at the two of us like we were scum on their shoes. Seriously? I didn't think that actually happened like it did in Pretty Woman, but it really does. Which made no sense to me. We had changed our muddy clothes and were dressed nice, and we obviously had the money to stay there so...what gives?

We didn't get any better treatment at Kuleto's restaurant, the place where I wanted to make my "new memory." The staff was super pretentious there and didn't even wait on us after telling us we had to sit at the bar. After getting really aggravated, I told my husband we were leaving because I was not going to be treated that way, and I realized that maybe the memory I was trying to recreate was never supposed to be good in the first place, and maybe my childish sentimentality had candy-coated parts of it. I realized that maybe, in the naivety of youth, I had thought a person I was with was so much more than she really was. I know that sounds cryptic, but for the sake of not writing a memoir, let's just suffice it to say I had an epiphany.

And I was ecstatic to be with my present company--my best friend and the best man I have ever known.

We had made a reservation at a restaurant called Absinthe--another old favorite of ours-- but they had been booked until ten. I was not going to wait that long to eat, so we spotted a place across the street, an Italian restaurant that I unfortunately forget the name of now, and decided to give it a shot.

Score one for intuition.

This place was amazing. I had white snapper on a bed of polenta and veggies and hubs had wild boar. The food was fantastic, the wine was amazing, and I'm pretty sure the owner was our server. Hubs was getting a kick out of speaking rudimentary Italian with him, which, let's be honest, was kind of a turn-on, and he gave us free dessert upon finding out it was our anniversary. This place gets five stars in my book.

But while we were satisfied, we were also stuffed, and we still had to go across the street to Absinthe, where we had decided to get drinks and dessert. We had already had a sufficient amount of both, but this place was also special to us, as hubs had taken me there on the same trip he had shown me Cha Cha Cha's. I remember talking with him there, laughing, and thinking to myself that if I could spend the rest of my life doing just that with him, I would be the happiest woman in the world. It seemed so far from my reality at that point, yet here we were. We couldn't not go to Absinthe.

Several drinks, several hours, and two more desserts later found us down on Hyde Street Pier in the middle of the night, freezing, stuffed beyond comprehension, and hanging out on the beach with a set of homeless hippies and a couple of tweakers. After that little excursion, we headed back to the hotel before we ended up on the beach to see the sunrise.

Although, that probably would have been better than the weird dude underneath our hotel window on the street shouting for four hours when we DID wake up.

Feeling a little lethargic from our insanity the night before, we were moving slow the next day, but managed to make it to another one of favorite restaurants, House of Nanking in Chinatown. Best Chinese ever. Hands down.

After eating there and getting slightly re-energized, we headed to Ocean Beach where we spent a lazy afternoon sunning ourselves, playing in the sand, looking for shells, and snuggling. We decided on dinner at the Cliff House, where we had clams in garlic broth, Frutti  de Mare--TO DIE FOR--and spinach ricotta pine nut ravioli. This is only the second time I have been to Cliff House, but every time I go there, I am never disappointed. This restaurant is also upscale, but unlike Kuleto's, the staff is always exceptionally friendly, the service is wonderful, and the food and wine sell itself.

Once we had sated ourselves, we started on our journey home, sad, as we always are, to leave the city by the bay.

But we'll be back. We always are.

It is, after all, our favorite. :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hearty Traditional Beef Stew in a Crockpot

This is a recipe that can be adapted in pretty much any way. I don't always make it the same. Sometimes I change the veggies. Sometimes I change the seasoning. It just depends on my mood and what kind of flavors I'm craving that day. This particular adaptation is based off of the first beef stew I ever learned how to make, which was my momma's :) It's a little bit different as hers uses celery and cabbage, but regardless of how you decide to make it or what you like, it's a great meal to help welcome fall.

Take 1 package of beef pieces for stew and cut them smaller if you wish. 

In a small bowl mix together about 3 generous spoonfuls of minced garlic, salt, black pepper, celery seed, dried sage, dried thyme, and dried parsley (however much you would like depending on how much flavor you want your meat to have). Put the meat in the bowl and mix until it is coated thoroughly, rubbing the spices into the meat. Put in crockpot with about a cup of beef broth, half a cup of vegetable broth, and a cup of tomato soup. 

Dice up one white onion, one medium zucchini, some portobello mushrooms, red potatoes, and carrots (or veggies of your choice) and add them to the crockpot. Add some salt and black pepper, a bit of dried rosemary, some herbs provence, and cover with more of the beef/veggie stock and tomato soup. 

Cook on low until the meat is done and the veggies are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust broth until to your liking!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Adventures in Seattle- Part Three

Ok, so Part 3 came Friday instead of Thursday. My bad.

So, the last day of our trip had us deciding to go to the Woodland Zoo, but first, we were hungry, and we wanted to check out this Beth's place, which one of our cab drivers had told us was amazing. So, we walked for about a mile to get to this place only to wait about 20 minutes--in which hubs played the most ridiculous hunting video game I have ever seen and I bashed my forehead with the bathroom door--but it was worth it, because this breakfast was off the chain. SO GOOD! I highly recommend this place to anyone.

After breakfast, we decided to hoof it the rest of the way to the zoo, which was cool because we saw some beautiful flowers, and sucked because we were both in flip-flops and it was another mile to get to the zoo. If nothing else, we were working off all the food and alcohol we had stuffed into our bodies over the last couple days.

Now, I have to say, I have been to some zoos in my day. This zoo...was remarkable. It is 9 city blocks long and 9 city blocks wide. All the animal enclosures look like real habitats. And there is an insanely diverse amount of animals. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get through it. I would highly recommend this zoo to anyone.

After the zoo, we got Dom to come get us and we headed back to Pike's Market to get me a couple of things before it closed. That was insane, but mission accomplished. Then we ran about 6 blocks back up to this place Dom had recommended called 360 for dinner, which was all supposed to be local, which we loved.

Sadly, it was highly disappointing. The drinks were heavy flavored on the alcohol, but not actually strong, and blended badly. And the food was less than inspiring. Under-seasoned and mediocre for the cost, but hey, the wine was good!

Hubs and I were headed to an improv comedy show after that, but we had some time, so we popped into this place that had caught or eye earlier--it looked like a tiki lounge. We went to the bar and ordered 2 zombies.

Oh dear lord, was it a zombie.

I still felt like a zombie after the comedy show!!

We wandered our way back to Fado Irish Pub and got some after-show food and drinks. Meanwhile, my friend--who lived near the airport by the way--texted me and told me if we wanted to come and stay with her for the night, we could.

Um...YES! Our flight was at 7:45 and our cab driver stopped working at 5 am. So, it was either go to the airport at 4:30 am or stay at my friend's and maybe get some sleep.

Sleep won out. As well as good conversation, laughter, and sleeping with Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp blankets.

We boarded the plane back to Reno much too soon, with a random cab driver who was playing "Rock Lobster" very loudly...and who didn't look at all like a person who would listen to "Rock Lobster."

We wandered our sleep-deprived selves through security, and passed out before the plane even took off. Hubs' foot got run over by the drink cart, but it was all-in-all an uneventful flight. Took us probably 3 days to recover, but it was worth it.

Seattle was an experience, a good one. I hope to go back soon, and in the meantime, who knows...? Maybe something I have written will end up in one of my novels in the future. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Adventures in Seattle--Part Two (Part Three coming Thursday)


For two days I slept terribly, partly because I think I had taken too many B-Vitamins and partly because the window in our hotel room didn't actually have a curtain. And having some weird dude shouting "F*** YOU!" at 6 am on Day Two didn't help any. I tried to sleep on the floor, the bed, upside down, it didn't matter. Insomnia was my constant companion for the first two nights we were there, but I have had insomnia off and on most of my life so I could deal. I was on vacation so no way was I gonna whine about it.... Well, I whined a little.

Day Two was spent hanging out at the Aquarium and wandering around the waterfront.

We had great lunch at this place I forget the name of now--Cafe 56 or something like that. My husband got some very rich and filling seafood cakes while I got these really awesome scallop and brisket sliders. They also had some great peach sangria.

We headed to what Seattleites refer to as the "U" District--AKA the college district--after that because that was where the venue was for the show we were going to see. As we got out of our cab and started walking around, my husband noticed a guy who was nonchalantly hanging out around the corner from the venue. Turned out to be the lead singer of the band--my husband's FAVORITE band, mind you. A brief conversation and a picture later, hubs was flying high and we were looking for a place to light until the show.

We went into the first place we saw, which was an Irish pub called Finn MacCool's. How could you go wrong with a name like that? Especially when the sign out front had a Scottsman in full regalia with a bagpipe? We had to give it a shot. Hubs is Scotts-Irish, after all. 

Best coconut shrimp--EVER. Hubs got some Irish nachos, which were a little icky after the first half, and he kept trying to steal my shrimp, but I was guarding them like a mother lion protecting her cubs. I let him have a couple, but mainly I flaunted how good they were by making "mmm" and "omg" sounds while I was stuffing my face. 

So, thumbs up for that place, and we headed over to the venue after we had finished, where we continued to be impressed by the amazingly cheap prices for liquor. I guess that's what happens when you live in a 24-hr casino town and are used to going to shows in San Francisco--both places price gouge like none other. 

After a great performance from the band Gogol Bordello--great gypsy rock for anyone who is interested--we headed back to Finn MacCool's for karaoke, but it was overrun with frat boys and their girls so we only sang one song, got our nom on with some mediocre gyros across the street, and went back to the hotel, where I continued to not sleep.

Day Three had me ironically on only 3 hours of sleep. 

I was meeting a friend of mine today who I hadn't seen since high school and the first part of my first year of college. I wasn't really nervous, per se, but you never know how things like that are gonna go. When you haven't seen someone after ten years, most of the time the only thing you have to talk about is your past. Considering I had only been in patchy theatre workshops with her over the years and was basically only her Facebook friend now, I was wondering. But she had actually made the effort to see me, which no one ever does, so I was also hopeful. 

Hubs and I got on a ferry to the island of Bainbridge to see what we could see, but what we saw was absolutely nothing but giant houses, so we turned around and went right back. Which was fine, since we had to meet my friend anyway--after hiking up like six years of stairs. 

So, I met my friend who I hadn't seen in a decade wheezing, and sweating, and maybe saying some mild curse words, because I cannot breathe in air that has moisture in it. I. Am. From. The. Desert.  On a side note, my face was also hating me, as my skin goes into lockdown freakout mode when in humid or moist climates and decides to melt off any makeup I have and generally make me look like a transient drug addict.

Luckily, my friend recognized me and wasn't like, "Who is that crazy wild-haired beast lumbering towards me?" We all hugged, introduced, and headed off to the famous Pike's Market and Pike's Market Chowder place, where I was overwhelmed by how many choices of chowder I had. I ended up settling for the old faithful clam because I am picky about my clam chowder and I was curious. I give it about a 9, honestly. The only place I may have had better was San Francisco, but then again, I am very partial to my city by the bay.

After lunch, we wandered the market, which was stuffed to bursting with people on all 6 levels. That's right--6 levels of shops, fun things, fresh fish, and the most amazing produce I have ever seen in my life. Like, ever. There was even a creeptastic guy who looked like a hardened criminal walking by with a live snake coiled around his neck! 

...Yeah, my friend had a very violent and adverse reaction to that one. 

Speaking of my friend, we were all getting along really well and it wasn't awkward at all. Probably the most casual I have ever felt with a person I used to know other than my husband, who I had also grown up with and lost contact with for ten years. Apparently, I like to see how things go after decades of time have passed. Seems to be a thing with me.

At any rate, we got horribly lost and finally ended up at Pike's Brewery where good beer and conversation commenced. We finally had to go due to the fact we were seeing Gogol Bordello again, but my friend told us #1. where she would be later if we wanted to meet up and #2. the name of a cab driver who was a friend of hers--Dom "the Stache" who was flat rate and could be helpful to us. 

So, as we headed to the show, hubs texted this Dom character, excited because he loves "The Fast and the Furious" movies and anyone named Dom was cool in his book, and we hit up a place called Kai's Bistro for dinner. 



That's pretty much the way that went down.

We got three appetizers: calamari (which was so fried I couldn't tell where the bread ended and the squid began) thai chili shrimp (which was actually just shrimp with like 18 tons of tomato sauce and googobs of garlic on top of it) and marinated mushrooms (which were actually pretty ok.) Hubs also ordered a Manhattan, which came complete with dead flies bobbing around in it. When approaching the bartender about this, she merely dumped it, didn't bat an eye, and said "K, I'll make another one."


I don't even want to think about what we ate. Not to mention, at the show, we were both burping up that gross shrimp crap and my husband had his intestines reject all food about 3/4 of the way through the second encore--they played 4 by the way. Amazing. And we also got to meet two other members of the band.

However, aside from the terribleness of our dinner, Dom "the Stache" had texted back, and a personal cab driver was born. We headed over to where my friend was at and spent the next few hours shooting the breeze in a very mellow and chill Hillside Bar on Capitol Hill. We got caught in a freak thunderstorm on the way home, and ended up seeking refuge under a tree for about 45 minutes while our cab driver dealt with a difficult fare, but we didn't care. We love the rain, and it was beautiful and invigorating. I have always found there to be something magical about the rain.

But despite the difficulties, Dom pulled through and got us home. 

That night, I slept like the dead...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adventures in Seattle--Part One (Part Two to Follow Tomorrow)

Husband and i just came back from a four-day trip to Seattle. The reason? Going to see a rock band of course. Why? Because we could!

So, anyone who doesn't know the hubs and I...we turn the most basic of trips into a food and drink excursion to rival Anthony Bourdain. We love to experience as much local culture, food, and drink as we can while we are wherever we are...but we do it on the fly. Spontaneity is usually key for us. It's more fun to randomly find a seedy tavern in an alley than it is to Google to death the "best places to eat" where we are traveling. We want to see the dives and the hovels, the rare jewels, the terrible grossness, all of it. We want the whole experience, even if our colons and livers say otherwise.

So, it was awesome when our rickety, propeller-plane flight to Seattle served complementary wine and beer!

Too bad I was nauseous as heck and could only manage a ginger ale because I get airsick.

And too bad hubs was so passed out asleep that he missed it.

Oh well.

Armed with pizza/sleep breath from our earlier meal and subsequent flight, we immediately hopped a train--that took a millennium-- to get downtown...where we waited for a bus that never came... Oh the joys of the Seattle public transit.


That was a word we became well acquainted with.

When we finally landed at our hovel of a hotel, which was right in the midst of the ghetto where the prostitutes frequented--joy--we immediately headed out again to hit up downtown and find some great grub. We were starving, after all. Like, really starving, having been on some form of public transportation--or not--for the last few hours after a two hour flight.

Ironically, while we had been waiting for our bus that never came, we had seen a...thing...called The Third Door. Now, we didn't know what it was, but it sounded interesting, and as we got let off downtown from our bus, which HAD come, we only knew one intersection and that was it, so we decided The Third Door was the place to go.

Turns out intuition was right because it was a music venue/theatre/restaurant. How can you get better than that?

Oh, we were there during happy hour. That's how you get better than that.

We ordered half the menu--chicken satay, boar satay, green papaya salad, prawns, duck sliders--not to mention a multitude of cocktails. All were rather exceptional, aside from the papaya salad, which was sour and bizarre and tasted like coleslaw on crack. The drinks weren't amazingly strong, but for the price we were getting them, not bad.

After satiating ourselves, we headed down to the waterfront, meandered, and ended up randomly running--they were boarding when we bought our tickets--onto a cruise that went around the bay. Hey, why not? Cruises are fun, and we had never been in Seattle before. Hubs had been there once, but only for a day. Why not experience the sights?

It was happy hour on the boat too.

And the beer was good.

After an hour long sunset cruise, we ended up at the only place my husband had gone to on his previous trip to Seattle--an Irish Pub called Fado.

And let me tell you...

The food....


I got fish and chips, which people think are generally easy to master, but they are not. These were amazing. And hubs got a lamb sandwich served with some beefy au jus sauce.

Now...I am not a fan of lamb...but holy crap. I could have bathed in this sandwich. Not to mention, the drink on special that night was a Crabbie's ginger beer (REAL beer) with a shot of Jameson. Best meal we had all day.

We ended up back at the Third Door later for a live jazz band that was playing, but it almost put me to sleep in the booth--and I came to realize later than NO ONE in Seattle knew how to make a proper Dark N Stormy, but this place took the cake for THE WORST. It was like a rum and coke gone wrong and tasted like coke and olive juice. But over all, I enjoyed the place, and any place catering to local music is OK in my book. Just jazz is not my cup of tea, especially when I have been traveling all day and am exhausted beyond measure.

When we finally collapsed into our gross bed on Prostitute Row later, I thought I would sleep like the dead.
Little did I know, my insomnia was just kicking in...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Squash Goulash the Healthy Way---I Think

First of all, I have to give the disclaimer that this is not an attractive dish. I tried to dress it up as much as I could to make it pleasing to the eye, but it's a goulash. It looks like a goulash. So...there ya go.

That being said, I grew up with my mom making zucchini goulash, and I've watched it evolve through the years. Awhile back, I got the idea to make it with ground turkey instead of ground beef to make it healthier. Although, I'm not entirely sure if the googobs of cheese don't entirely destroy that notion. 

Let's tell ourselves it's healthy.

Now, this recipe is definitely one that is seasoned more to individual taste. My husband likes it heavier on the red pepper, black pepper, and pepper jack cheese for a little extra kick. If you have a milder palate, use less. This recipe is less about the measurement and more about your taste buds, so just have fun with it. 


1lb ground turkey
one medium-sized zucchini
one medium-sized yellow squash
1 cup sliced mushrooms
one small white onion
about two generous teaspoons of minced garlic
1/4 cup sliced roasted red pepper
3/4 can whole kernel corn
1 can of sliced black olives
about 4 slices of pepper jack cheese torn into shreds
shredded fiesta blend cheese

(Use the spices below to your individual taste)
sea salt
black pepper
crushed red pepper
Trader Joe's 12 Seasoning Salute

Put the turkey in a large non-stick skillet. Dice the onion and add it to the turkey along with the garlic, roasted red pepper, and the spices. I like to use the Trader Joe's roasted peppers in oil, but if you would prefer to roast your own peppers, get on with your bad self. Mix thoroughly and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, slice the yellow squash and zucchini into quarters and add to the skillet. Next slice up your mushrooms, stems removed. I usually use crimini or baby bella. Add those to the skillet as well. 

Next add the corn and the olives, stir until thoroughly blended. Cook until the squash starts to look almost done. Now is a good time to taste your mixture and adjust the spices as you see fit. 

Tear the pepper jack cheese and add to skillet, then stir the cheese in until melted. If there seems to be excess liquid the the skillet, drain it or just let it cook off. Taste again and adjust amount of cheese and salt as needed. 

Top with desired amount of fiesta blend cheese and you're done! An easy summer meal, and filling too!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Best Food by the Not Always Because of the Food: Part One

So, my mother is amazing. Let me just start out by saying that.

She has been my mother, father, best friend, sister, therapist, and confidant for all of these years. She is young at heart, does not think my generation is stupid, goes to rock concerts with me, drinks with me when the time calls for it, laughs with me, cries with me, the list goes on. We have been a gruesome twosome for my entire life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have many good memories with my mother, more than I can even list, actually. But the first of two that stand out for me was when Mom and I went to Los Angeles to see our favorite band--a metal band from Finland--play a special show. It was in January with a storm threatening where we lived, and we had been terrified our flight was going to get canceled, but we made it, got our rental car, and proceeded to drive halfway through La Brea and beyond because of road construction and me not knowing where the *insert word of choice here* I was going.

Because of the day we came into Los Angeles, we were Disneyland bound, because I had not been there since I was five and we had a whole day to kill. Well, after a harrowing journey to find the hotel--where we drove back and forth on the same road like four times, we had to ask directions and then follow a local woman back onto the freeway, we barely made our exit, and I thought I had lost my cell phone--we were promptly told we could not check in yet.

Of course!

This was how we were used to traveling when we were being "groupies." It literally was what always happened. So, we just bailed and headed to Disneyland.

The rides were fun, but the whole day traffic was bad, the food was even worse, we got lost more times than I ever want to think about, and by the time we got back to our hotel, I was about ready to throw in the towel for good. The last stint on the freeway an hour back to our hotel had seen me having to pee so badly I was practically shaking, and as a person with an anxiety problem...I was SO DONE with LA traffic.

So where did we end up?

At Denny's of all places.

Because it was the only thing open.

And it was terrible.

Can we say heartburn?


Needless to say, we were disappointed, and we went to bed feeling like we had lead in our stomachs.

The next day, we headed to Venice Beach before the concert. We were feeling good, ready to go...

Even though I was getting a hang of this driving in LA thing, the wind at the beach almost blew us into the next county, and we ate lunch at some seaside shack where the fish was so greasy it stayed in my stomach for the rest of the day. I was seriously wondering if I was ever going to get a good meal while I was on this trip.

However, despite numerous meal setbacks--I seriously don't even remember what I had for dinner...something Mexican, I think--we met up with some of my good friends, we had a great time, the concert was amazing, and we headed back to the hotel that night on a rock and roll high we had been missing for awhile.

The next day, our flight did not leave until late, so Mom and I decided to head back to Venice Beach for a better experience since the first time had been so rushed.

We went to a place I unfortunately forget the name of now, but it was both a high-class and low-key restaurant (if that makes sense) where we had the only decent meal we had eaten thus far--a real, honest-to-goodness breakfast. We scarfed it like starving people, and were satisfied for the first time all trip. Afterwards, we wandered the beach, checked out shops, watched some local talent, and enjoyed the peace and serenity that can only come from the ocean.

We stayed there for the greater part of the day, and two hours or so before we had to go to the airport, Mom and I headed back to that same restaurant for dinner.

Now, keep in mind, I was pretty broke at the time. I was divorced and living in a studio apartment. My budget was extremely limited. But because I was so used to being a miser, I had saved more money than I had spent and decided to just say screw it. You only live once, I was on vacation, and I was under budget.  So Mom and I got an amazing cheese plate, a couple glasses of wine, followed by a half bottle I don't even want to remember the cost of now--because as much as I love wine, I am still pretty cheap above all things, especially back then.

Honestly? It was one of the best cheese plates I've ever had. And even one of the best wines. But I don't think it had anything to do with the actual food and wine I was consuming.

I have and always will be a sentimental creature, and sitting on the patio of that restaurant, eating cheese and drinking overpriced wine with the one woman who could understand what I was babbling about when it came to the man who would one day be my husband was worth any price.

And and as the sun set, we drank, ate, and talked. We even saw the artist P!NK, which  was pretty freakin' cool, but the best part of it wasn't the wine or the food, as good as it was. It was the fact that I was somewhere I loved--the ocean--at sunset, and I could talk freely and candidly with someone; I could share an experience like this trip had been with someone, and would never even think to regret any part of it. I could be myself, I could "let it all hang out," to to speak, and I would never be judged.

Let me tell you, that is an awesome feeling.

That night on the beach remains one of my favorite memories of traveling, because it was so raw in its realness. It can never be copied or replaced...

And that's just how I want it to stay.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Easy Weeknight Chicken Tetrazini

When I was visiting Arizona, a good friend of mine had me over for dinner and offered me a glass of white wine while she was cooking chicken tetrazini. I'm pretty sure I hadn't eaten for most of the day and it was the middle of summer, so it was probably somewhere around 110 degrees. Knowing the wine was going to go straight to my head because of that combination, I asked my friend if I could have a piece of French bread, discreetly trying to stave off the illuminating effect that wine has on me on an empty stomach.

No such luck. I lit up like a blazing torch and I could feel the red splotches spreading heat in bizarre patterns across my chest, neck, and face. I said nothing because this is a normal thing for me. I'm pale. I splotch. It happens. So I just sat there and breathed in the heavenly aroma of onions, garlic, and mushrooms simmering in white wine, and enjoyed conversation with my friend, who I hadn't seen in quite some time.

When my friend turned around, she just about screamed at me and thought I was having some sort of allergic reaction and was going to pass out. I told her I was fine, that it was just because I was drinking wine on an empty stomach. She shoved more bread at me and then made me go stick my head in the freezer.  To this day, this is the memory that comes to mind when I think of chicken tetrazini, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I never looked up a recipe for the dish. I don't know why. I guess I just like to play. But over the course of some experimenting, I have concocted a yummy chicken tetrazini recipe that takes out some of the steps. It's great for the working woman who does not want to spend a ton of time preparing a meal after she gets home from a long day.

Again, I don't really measure anything, and a lot of the seasoning is up to individual taste. I will give you the ingredients and the steps, and the rough estimate of measurements, and you can customize it :) This recipe is for 2-4 depending on how hungry you are lol.


extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
about 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
about 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
about 1/2 teaspoon of herbs of Provence
sea salt
ground black pepper
about four cloves of chopped or minced garlic (2 generous teaspoons if it is in a jar)
a quarter of a cup or so of diced onion
1 can Progresso Recipe Starters Portobello Mushroom
about a cup of sliced crimini or baby bella mushrooms
half a package of frozen peas
white wine
bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the powdery kind you put on pizza)
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 package of linguine

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Pour some olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the chicken, onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, herbs of Provence, sea salt and pepper and saute on medium heat for about a minute. Add about a cup of white wine. I like to use Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Simmer uncovered on medium heat until the wine reduces by about half and the chicken is pretty much cooked. Don't forget to give it an occasional stir.

When the wine reduces, add about 3/4 the can of Progresso Recipe Starters Portobello Mushroom. Add the mushrooms and peas. Turn heat a little bit lower and heat through. Meanwhile, fill a pot with water, add some salt and a little bit of olive oil. Bring to a boil and add your linguine. Cook until tender, then drain and add the noddles to the skillet. Add the powdery grated Parmesan cheese and the nutmeg.

Give your sauce a taste and adjust the spice level to your tastes.

Transfer the noddles and sauce to a baking dish and sprinkle the top with the fresh grated Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake until it starts to turn a little golden. Usually about ten minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy with a glass of the same wine you used to cook with!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Thing That Began My Love of Wine

So, artists in any fashion are often joked about as being drug addicts and alcoholics and generally messed up people. A lot of the time, this is true. lol.

But this is not one of those stories!

The people who are closest to me tease me about being a wino, but the alcohol content has absolutely nothing to do with why I love the beverage. Over the years, it has become a ritual of relaxation for me--there is nothing like coming home after a hard day of work and taking a bubble bath while listening to some music and drinking a glass of red wine. It is also something that, from a very young age, I equated with success. And yes, I know that sounds really negative for the psyche, but let me explain.

One of the people I admired very much while growing up was my best friend's mom. She was tall and statuesque and had spent her life in the theatre business. She would have parties for the kids and their parents at her luxurious two-story home and would walk around laughing and mingling, glass of red wine in hand, her black clothing flowing like living art as she walked. To a thirteen-year-old with a love for the arts, it epitomized everything I wanted to be when I grew up. Artsy, beautiful, successful...and a glass of red wine seemed like the perfect symbol that stuck in my naive teenage brain.

Too bad I thought red wine was horrendously nasty by the time I was 18, and the only way I could stomach it was if it was a glass or Arbor Mist  with maybe a splash of Seven Up. You can imagine the damper this was putting on my future goal of being a wine-wielding arts aficionado.

Enter my mother and her best friend, who I commonly refer to as "Aunt Michele." My aunt Michele had done freelance housecleaning for years, and one of her longtime clients had moved to a placed called Cambria, CA. It was right on the Southern California coast, and she would let Aunt Michele come and spend vacation time there as so long as she cleaned the house before she left. So, basically rent-free, all things considered.

Mom and Aunt Michele asked me if I wanted to come along during the summer I was 18. What a silly question that was. Of COURSE I wanted to go! I adored the ocean, and I reveled in any kind of traveling I got to do.

So, for ten days, I was was able to explore the California coast with two of my favorite people, taking in such sights as Hearst Castle and Big Sur, San Luis Obispo and Salmon Creek. They let me drive the convertible Mustang they had rented while rocking out to Metallica and we had a whole floor of Aunt Michele's client's beautiful home to ourselves, which was right across the street from the ocean. It was like being at the best resort.

But the thing that I really took away from this experience was my love of wine.

We had gone wine-tasting one day, and while I never expected to get served anything, the sommeliers kept giving me amounts to taste, obviously knowing I was with two adults. How awesome was that? Made me feel super important at the time!

And while I didn't start really loving red wine until I was around twenty-four, we all found a wine at EOS Estate Winery that suited all of our palates at the time: Muscat Canelli.

It was sweet, crisp, and refreshing, a desert wine, but one that we all adored the flavors of.

But the wine was not what really mattered after everything was said and done.

That evening, we went back to the house, ate dinner, and finished it off with a glass of Muscat Canelli, each of us with our own, and we went out onto the balcony that overlooked the ocean in the distance. It was sunset, and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen up till that point, the sunset highlighting everything in purple, pink, and gold. And we were laughing, the three of us. Laughing about all sorts of things. And I remember thinking to myself how happy I was, and how this was what relaxation was, this was what peace was.

And later that week, after I had been peer-pressured into going to some beach party kegger with a bunch of Cal Poly kids who were three years older than me, and me being the only one strong enough to help the one guy with us beforehand carry the keg, and with some random guy spilling beer in my purse after trying to pick me up, and after I had spent the night feeling completely awkward and out of my element, I much preferred that tranquil feeling I had gotten drinking wine on the balcony with my family.

And as the years went by, my love of the sweet wine transferred to a love of white zinfandel, which then transferred to a love of dryer but juicy white wines, and then eventually to a love of most all things red. I still credit that sunset on the balcony. Because as much as I would like to say it all went back to my friend's mom, it really didn't--even though I DO flow through my house in artsy attire with my glass of red wine during dinner parties, I also wander around in my sweats. It's all in perspective. The memory I think of first when someone asks me why I love wine was that one night--so peaceful, so perfect, so full of laughter and light and innocence.

That is what I feel and remember every time I have a glass of wine.

And I sometimes wonder if that is what relaxes me instead of the alcohol.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Introduction and Apologies

So, I am sorry that the first post in this blog was just a random recipe. I was confused, drinking wine, and trying to figure out how to change my old blog (which I never did anything with) over to this new one.

I am a wine and food enthusiast in addition to being an author. This blog really has nothing to do with me being an author. While I may refer to it from time to time, this is something I can do that will make me happy and cultivate some of my other passions: wine, food, and travel. I will share stories, recipes and whatever else. Pictures definitely, when I have them. So, please, feel free to subscribe or recommend me somewhere.

At least then I'll know someone is reading it lol.  ;)