Summer Wine Party: Crostini with Homemade Ricotta, Grilled Tomatoes, Caponata, Tapenade, and Prosciutto

“Man (and woman) cannot live by bread alone,” was always the truth. Even the very best of bread, which is some of the most wondrous and healthy food in the world, must have its topping, its gilding, its raison d’être–its reason to exist. Bread bakers, feel free to chime in disagreeing here.

Add wine, of course. How about other necessities like song and laughter? That would mean a party and the most memorable parts of the current season (the touch of hot summer sun lingering on glistening skin, a crash of sudden wild storms cracking open in the distance, the heady sniff of freshly cut grass, hot orange day lilies along the path, sleazy dog-eared paperbacks sporting just such language) all call out for such a gathering to occur at night and out of doors.

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Thanksgiving, 2012

                     “It’s not what’s on the table that’s important.  It’s who’s in the chairs.”

This post includes:

  • Guide to cooking and baking hotlines
  • Links to great Thanksgiving sites for tips, food, decoration, kids’ activities
  • My own favorite Thanksgiving photos, recipes, music, wine, and even a blessing or two   



  I can’t preach about giving thanks.  I’ll just say I think it’s healthy.  It’s lovely in that it’s a discipline folks of any religion or country can take part.  But of course, our fair “Rabbie” had it best:

Some Hae Meat

 Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

~Robert Burns

 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  You could have guessed.
My worlds all come together on that day.
Giving thanks– being grateful–is a practice or discipline of many religions and cultures, including mine.
I need it.  I need that discipline. And:
Creating a meal to honor that…is my idea of a great day!
I wish you a day of totally beautiful, grateful life.

A grace could be very simply giving thanks for the hands that made the meal, for the workers in the stores, on the trucks, in the gardens and  the vineyards Even a toast to all who made it possible would work.  Mark the moment.

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.  
                                                    ~W.J. Cameron
Awareness.   Awakeness. Appreciation.  Peaceful breath.
A table that includes something you love.
Someone you love.

Some of the best new scripture these days is found on paper napkins.
I have some that say, “It’s not what’s on the table that’s important.  It’s who’s in the chairs.”
Ah, that we have to print that somewhere.

Deep breaths and a sense of warm wonder to you as you prepare to give thanks this year.

          If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. 

                                                                                                              ~Meister Eckhart
Before the fun begins,  thanks for reading and responding:

           Bloggers Without Borders Post on Helping Victims of Sandy 


In case you need help with the meal….

 Two Mushroom-Red Onion Soup from my upcoming book.

Thanksgiving HOTLINES:

*Splendid Table (Radio)  from 11am-1pm  CT on Thanksgiving Day:  800-537-5252
*Reynolds’ Turkey Tips:  800-745-4000 Open through December 31, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*Butterball Hotline: 1-800-BUTTERBALL Weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time
*Crisco Pie Hotline:

(877) 367-7438 toll-free. Provides answers the most common questions about baking pies for novice bakers as well as offering tips that will benefit the most seasoned baker. The hotline also offers the option for callers to connect to a live pie expert for pie baking guidance. Hours: 9 – 7 EST except for: Nov. 12 – 21 (8am – 8pm EST) and Dec. 12 – 22 (8am – 8pm EST)

*USDA Meat and Poultry Line:

  (888) 674-6854 from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Closed weekends and holidays, except Thanksgiving. Special hours of operation on Thanksgiving are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time. 


                              It is of course possible to dance a prayer. 
                                                                         ~Terri Guillemets

Thanksgiving Listening and Watching + Kids’ Stuff:

                      Garrison Keillor’s “Over the River and Through the Woods”

Download Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Thanksgiving Song here.

Watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on youtube.

Thanksgiving Day Parades

Thanksgiving Day Football Games–Networks, Kickoff, etc.  

Thanksgiving Day Kids’ Activities 

Martha’s Thanksgiving for Kids 

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, – a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert 

            Minneapolis Turkey Day 5K Run  8am Nov 22, 2012  
            Walk to End Hunger Mall of America Nov 22, 2012: 7am Registration; 7:30-10:30


Really Good Websites with Thanksgiving Tips, Recipes, and Ideas 

I could reinvent the wheel here and give you step-by-step, day by day, but here’s a list of places that have already done all that work.  Have at it.  Below that, I’ve listed some of my own favorite recipes or menus from this blog or Dinner Place, Cooking for One.  I include an Intimate Thanksgiving, which is a Thankgiving for two (with leftovers) or for four (not too many leftovers.)  It was created for those who really don’t have much time to spend on Thanksgiving, but want a special meal nevertheless.  

America’s Test Kitchen:  Turkey and Gravy
James Peterson’s Gravy Guide
Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving Planner
Non-Turkey Thanksgiving 
Vegetarian Thanksgiving 
Vegan Thanksgiving: 12 Recipes
LA Times: Great Thanksgiving Photos
Glazed Turkey from the Chicago Trib
Free:  Martha Stewart Thanksgiving (2011) Ebook with 40 Recipes
Smitten Kitten’s Thanksgiving
Taste Test:  Store-Bought Stuffing 
Perfect Pantry Sugar-Free Slow-Cooker Cranberry Sauce 
Serious Eats: 16 Salads for Thanksgiving
Kalyn’s Kitchen:  11 Green Bean Recipes
Mark Bittman:  101 Starts on the Day
Giada’s Butternut Squash Lasagne
Melissa Clark:  What Can I Actually Prepare Before Thanksgiving?
Gourmet Live:  Thanksgiving 2012
Chowhound’s 10 Thanksgiving Cooking Essentials
The Bitten Word’s 2012 Thanksgiving Recipe Index:
Thanksgiving Videos:  Mark Bittman
King Arthur Flour Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls
Perfect Pantry’s Squash Muffins
Download Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Baking App
Pie Perfected by Carole Bloom
David Lebovitz’ Pumpkin Ice Cream 
Thanksgiving Wine: NYTimeswine:  
HGTV’s Stylish Thanksgiving Table Settings
Thanksgiving Decoration from Epicurious

Maybe it’s a good time to pull out the bread machine?

  More Time at the Table/Dinner Place Thanksgiving Posts:

Kathy’s Apple Pie (More Time at the Table)

Alyce’s Thanksgiving: An Intimate ViewVery Simple and Quick Thanksgiving  for 2-4 people who don’t want to cook much:

  • Starters: Olives and Nuts–set out in small bowls served with sparkler/wine
  • First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (purchased)
  • Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
  • Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
  • Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
  • Bread: Corn Muffins or Rolls from the bakery
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350—No crust)
  • Drinks: Wine: A to Z Riesling and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have both! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream

Pears Poached in Port

Other recipes of mine you might enjoy at Thanksgiving:

Alyce’s Bacon Roasted Chicken or I Don’t Want Turkey
Alyce’s Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash
Alyce’s Roasted Pork Loin, Hot and Spicy Cranberry Sauce
Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust 
Alyce’s Butternut and Other Squash Soup
Alyce’s Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan New Potatoes 
Alyce’s Green Beans Sauteed with Onions and Garlic
Alyce’s Turkey Pot Pie from Thanksgiving Leftovers 
Alyce’s Pumpkin Soup or Making Up for Thanksgiving
Alyce’s Spicy Cream of Pumpkin Soup+Wendy’s Sage and Thyme
Alyce’s Pear-Grilled Fig Salad with Goat Cheese
Alyce’s Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit and Cheese 
Alyce’s Pumpkin Bread

Wendy’s Sage

Alyce’s Quick Prune Bread
Alyce’s No-Knead Bread Post on Dinner Place
Alyce’s Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls (from Bill Kalbus)
Poached Pears in Port               
Alyce Morgan’s Pie 101
Alyce’s Derby Pie (Pecan-Chocolate with Bourbon)
Alyce’s Kathy’s Apple Pie
Alyce’s Almond-Scented Pear Crostata
Alyce’s Ask Me About Dessert Post
Alyce’s Pumpkin Custard with Cinnamon Creme Fraiche (One Minute Pumpkin “Pie”–no crust) 

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread.  Thanksgiving morning breakfast.

Anne Lamott’s Parade Magazine Article on Counting our Blessings  

my quick take on the (american) wine and other drinks

Need extra wine glasses?  Borrow them!   If you’d like a large inexpensive set to keep from year to year, and can’t spend much:  go to the dollar store or a discount place like Marshall’s.  You can store a couple of boxes in the closet or basement and have them available for loan or a February Sangria party.

Drink what you like:
 Wine is for your enjoyment and the enhancement of food.  So, do not fret and fuss about the wine (or anything.)  First and foremost, you should drink exactly what you like with Thanksgiving dinner.  If you have no idea what you like, go to the wine shop or liquor store, and find a salesperson who’s willing to talk to you.  Do not do this on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving unless you’re a glutton for punishment.  Everyone else in the city will be there and the clerks will be infinitely hassled while wondering what they’re having for Thanksgiving and who’s going to cook it all.  Tell the salesperson what kinds of wine you (and your guests if you know) like, what your price is (don’t be shy), how many people you’ve having, and what your menu is.  Believe it or not, everyone is not having turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie.  This person has paired vegetarian lasagne, pumpkin ravioli, goose, steak, and an all-raw menu before you arrived.

Don’t know what you like:

If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of shopper and want to go to the liquor superstore or simply have NO idea of what to buy, then I go with my tried and true recommendations, which are: 

A.  One bottle of wine per person (total) is the rule.  Yes. You’ll be there for hours.  I like American wine for Thanksgiving, so my recommendations are based on no wine from outside the United States. 

B.   Overall:  Provide a sparkler for before dinner or apertif, then one white and one red  to make everyone at least closer to happy.   Some sort of after-dinner drink or digestif is needed as well, though a walk will help, too.

I don’t like a cocktail before this kind of a meal…too many calories and too much alcohol, but then again, I’m a wine person.

Have beer on hand.   Get your brother-in-law’s favorite so he’ll be quiet or choose a saison, which would pair admirably with the meal if he won’t drink wine even with food.

Have lots of non-alcoholic choices. Sparkling water is pretty in a wine glass and is good for digestion for everyone, actually.  Non-alcoholic beer (Kaliber is about the best), iced Ceylon tea, and plenty of plain water are good choices.   Coffee is necessary; have the pot ready and start it when you sit down to dinner so people can help themselves.  Some will want it immediately after the meal even if they’re happy to wait hours for dessert.  If you don’t drink coffee, borrow a pot.  You can’t skip it.

C.  For the sparkler, buy a New Mexican sparkling wine like Gruet.

I suggest  Riesling for the white  (Washington state, Oregon, or New York). The lower the alcohol content, the sweeter the wine.  The alcohol content is printed on the label.  So if you like sweet, get an 8 or 9% alcohol Riesling.  11?  Much drier.  Don’t know?  I’d go with the sweeter for a group; you’re bound to have people in who want sweeter wine and your red will definitely be dry.

The red:  Oregon Pinot Noir.  It’s a splurge and it’s worth it.  If you need a lower-price Pinot Noir, choose A-Z or Angeline.  If you simply don’t like Pinot Noir (why?), buy a good California Merlot.  By the way, if you decide you like the Oregon Pinot Noir (and I’m a Pinot girl), buy a couple of extra bottles and squirrel them away in a cool, dry place for next year.  This wine doesn’t have to age terribly long to be scrumptious, but it’s usually better with a few years under its belt.  The older vintages are sometimes available, but not always.  If they are, they’re a lot more expensive.  Buy them young.

D.  If you’d like a dessert wine,  American sherry–or port– is lovely with pumpkin pie.
 A little nip of Jack in the coffee would do no one from below (or even above) the Mason-Dixon line any harm.  Save the Irish coffee for St. Patrick’s Day.

some pics of blog favorites for the holiday:

Almond-Scented Pear Crostata from More Time at the Table. 

On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment – halftime.
                                                          ~Author Unknown

Hot and spicy Cranberry Sauce cooking in the pot. It’s done quickly and can be done a day or two ahead.
My pumpkin soup topped with Parmesan and chopped peanuts. A nutritious soup for a first course is elegant and will help keep folks from overeating. 
Pecan or Derby Pie is a great Thanksgiving choice.  When else would you make it?
Spicy Cream of Pumpkin with Wendy’s Sage and Thyme
Pear-Grilled Fig Salad with Goat Cheese (dried figs are fine, too)
Don’t bake?  One-Minute Pumpkin Custard with Creme Fraiche.
Butternut and Other Squash Soup
Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables  (Leftovers make great soup.)

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust.  No mashed potatoes or gravy needed.  Or anything else really.

Whatever menu you choose, have fun with it.  Make things you like.  Let people bring their favorites so everyone is happy.  Don’t worry if the gravy has lumps or the turkey is cold.  No one cares if your plates match, but they do care that they’re invited.

   If your heart is warm in welcome, everyone will have a great time.

Heap high the board with plenteous cheer and gather to the feast,
And toast the sturdy Pilgrim band whose courage never ceased.

~Alice W. Brotherton

Sing a new song…be grateful all day long and enjoy every minute,

Beef, it’s what’s for New Year’s Eve or Baby, it’s cold outside….

Late afternoon, 12/30/2010

When it’s nice and cold, 
I can hold my baby closer to me–
and collect the kisses that are due me.
I love the winter weather 
’cause I’ve got my love to keep me warm….

Today, Emi and I ran out to get a video game, hit Whole Foods and King Sooper’s.  In the middle, we just had to have lunch together.  As we sat by the window of the restaurant, I looked outside and said, “We’ve got to get home.”   There’s just this look in the skies and about the air when all hell’s about to break loose.  The snow began to fly as we drove south, but it let up by the time we got to the grocery store.  I ran in the liquor store to grab a little Cotes du Rhone to round off the bean soup and wienies for dinner, while she got started on the grocery list.  Five minutes later, I walked in to find no carts at all.  I knew we were in trouble.  It was us and everybody else in Colorado Springs.  All at King Sooper’s.  Together.  The bread aisle was slim indeed and I was thanking God I got my bread earlier at Great Harvest.  Milk?  Same story, but thanks be I only needed heavy cream for a horseradish sauce for a friend’s New Year’s Eve tenderloin.   The lines were 6 deep, but all of registers were open.  Thanks for good planning, store manager.  Emi said, “This is how the store where I live is all the time… and people are not happy in line.  No one talks or smiles.  New Jersey, ugh.”  I seldom wait for more than one or two people in front of me; often I’m first.  Wow.

By the time we got out to the car, visibility was zero.  Snow was flying in all directions, mostly sideways.  The wind had picked up to an amazing pitch and the temperature had dropped ten degrees.  Two inches of snow were on the ground and it was a freezing mess to just open the trunk door and throw the bags in.  We felt our way home behind a crawling car in front of us and were very grateful to see the little grey, wooden house coming up on the right…finally.   It was about 2pm and it was obvious it would be dark early, which it is.

Thanks, God, for a warm house, heat, hot water, loving family, a working stove (where the bean soup bubbles) and a lovely fireplace where we’ll roast wienies tonight.  Why not?

If you don’t cook in the fireplace, try it sometime.  Fun, fun.  This pic if one I took last spring when the menu was the same as tonight.

Meantime, I thought I’d leave you with a great New Year’s Eve dinner that you might really like to make–either now or later.  But I think it’d be a wonderful celebration for 6-8.  Not a tenderloin and not the price, this time-taking (yes) prep is made with flank steak.  Cool thing is, it braises slowly in the oven while you share a bubbly or two with your friends and put your feet up on the coffee table.  Once the prep’s done, the work is nearly done.  

Here’s what it looks like from nearly the beginning to end….  I like some skinny green beans cooked in the microwave, a great baguette, and some fresh pasta with it.  You could make do with a salad and bread.













Ultimate Beef Braciole (Tyler Florence)-Alyce’s altitude/seasoning adjustments in italics 
   Note:  do not try and get this tender in the amount of time allotted if you’re at altitude

For the Braciole:

  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup buffalo mozzarella bocconcini balls, sliced in half if large size
  • 1/2 cup store-bought, drained and roughly chopped roasted red peppers
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-pound piece flank steak
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise

For the Braising ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, gently smashed
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 c red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
  • 8 vine-ripened tomatoes, separated from vine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped for garnish


To make the Braciole: Toast the panko bread crumbs in a dry skillet with a little olive oil over low heat, until golden. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the anchovy, garlic, bocconcini, red peppers, parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, to taste. Stir together until well combined.
Set the flank steak on a piece of plastic wrap. Make a deep horizontal slice along the steak almost all the way through and fan open like a book. Lay another piece of plastic wrap on top. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, gently flatten the steak until about 1/2-inch thick; take care not to tear. Discard the top sheet of plastic wrap; rub the surface with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the stuffing evenly over the meat, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Arrange the eggs lengthwise down the center of the meat and roll up like a jelly roll log, using the plastic wrap as support. Tie the roll with kitchen twine in 4 to 5 places to secure – this will help hold the shape and keep the filling from falling out.  Season outside of roll very well indeed with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put a roasting pan across 2 burners and heat over medium heat. Add a 3-count of olive oil and add the thyme and garlic. Cook for about a minute until fragrant. Carefully add the braciole and sear until evenly browned all over, approximately 2 minutes each side.
Add the sliced onions and bay leaves, then stir in the beef broth to deglaze. Add the canned tomatoes over the top, then nestle in the whole vine tomatoes around the braciole. Bring to a simmer, then cover with foil and put in the oven to braise for 45 to 60 minutes.   Add 20-30 minutes if at altitude…serve when tender. When done, remove the foil and remove the braciole to a carving board to rest. Carefully remove the whole vine tomatoes, with a slotted spoon, to a plate. Let the sauce cool for about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaf, then add the sauce to a blender and puree. Pour the sauce back into the pan and set over medium heat to bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add the balsamic vinegar. Remove the kitchen twine from the beef and cut into 1-inch thick “pin-wheel” slices. Arrange the slices on a platter and arrange the whole vine tomatoes around the beef. Pour the sauce over the top, garnish with
chopped parsley and serve.

Haricots Verts with Lemon

1.5 # haricots verts
1 t freshly grated lemon rind 
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, microwave proof bowl, place beans with 1/4 cup water.  Cover tightly and cook in microwave at full power for about five minutes.  Test for doneness.  Drain and place in serving bowl.  Dust with lemon rind, salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Pasta

Here in the Springs, I buy pasta (linguine for this) at Mollica’s on Garden of the Gods.  Two pounds for 8 people is plenty and will cost you about $11.   Call ahead to make sure they have some; you can order some a few days ahead to make sure.  Bring 10 qts of water, well salted and peppered, to a boil and gently place raw pasta into the water… you’ll need to carefully separate the strands of linguine. Cook until al dente…perhaps five or six minutes.  Remove from water  or drain and, after placing in a serving bowl, add 1T olive oil and  1/4 c chopped fresh parsley.


We liked a Barbera ($) or a Barolo ($$) with this. Vintages Wine on Tejon has some  lovely choices.


Get your baguette at Marigold or La Baguette.


I like a little sparkler and some spiced nuts…not much more.  This is a big meal.  Gruet (New Mexico) makes a sweet sparkler that’s not overly priced and is nearly local.   Otherwise, grab some prosecco and be glad. 

Stay warm,  be happy in 2011.  You will be if you eat this for New Year’s Eve.

If you live in the Springs, I’m thinking you should have bought New Year’s Eve dinner already.

I Hahd a Fahm een Ohreegahn…or..How I Fell in Love with Pinot Again

Every once in a while, God throws you a, no, not a hardball…  not a softball…  maybe just “a ball.”  And folks go around saying things like,

“Life has loveliness to sell.”   or

“Damn, I’m good.”  or

“Ya gotta have frehhhhhhends..” or

“Do not be anxious.”  (Sound familiar?)  or

“Is that stuffed French Toast for breakfast?” or

“What is duck confit anyway?” or

“Don’t ask; just pour.” or

“What is harrissa anyway?  or

“Do you know the way to ______________”  after one more u-turn. or

“Will you order me 6 of those to make a case?”

If you had the time, the friends, and the money…  You might grab them and go to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  Maybe at the end of the summer when the grapes were trying oh-so-very-hard to ripen.  Before harvest, before crush.  While the wineries were all spanking clean and winemakers still had time to talk to you a little (or a lot).

We had three full days to see -and taste at- a number of fine, fine wineries and had three top-flight dinners, two with winemakers and the other where the winemaker had had a word with and bestowed  a blessing on the owners of the restaurant.  (Hence the cassoulet with the duck confit.) We tasted somewhere around 120 wines.   And spit we did or we wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.  Lord, it was hard to spit sometimes.  By dinner, we could actually REALLY drink a glass of wine.  And, sometimes it was hard to look at it.  Well, we suffered through the experience as best we could.

The winners?  For me, Tony Soter’s Brut Rose. ($48)  For most everyone else, Scott Paul’s Dom Denise…but, then again, I loved nearly EVERYTHING at Sineann (Thanks, Peter) and WillaKenzie had just a phenomeneal line-up over all.  WK’s whites knocked me out of the ballpark.   My favorite 08 Pinot?  Really hard to say, but I might choose Prive’s Nord.  Prive is a two-person vineyard and winery and is boutique in the best sense.  Tina and Mark… a very low bow.  My favorite older vintage Pinot?  Ah, I’d have to dither amongst the Ken Wright bottles.  No doubt.  Favorite zin?  Sineann.  Favorite table wine?  Ditto.  At $13 bucks a bottle; it rocked.  Syrah?  Cristom.

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?  (For a full line-up of pics, go to my fb page; I’m still uploading, but lots are there.  Friend me if you haven’t!)

Our B&B, Wine Country Farm.  Call Joan.  She’ll set you up with a room & BREAKFAST. (with a “B”)

A view from the B&B

Hazelnuts in the nearby grove and Gris, one of the farm’s Australian shepherds, who herded us on our daily walks in the country.

Starting out the day in front of WillaKenzie…  wine for breakfast?   pic by Barb Alexander

  Pinot grapes–most weren’t this ripe. And:  How much stuff is on top of the grapes in that vat?

Scott Paul Winery, where we tasted both Oregon Pinot Noir and some French Burgundies.  The pick here was a local wine, Dom Denise…  The pick of the trip for our resident geeks and somm.

Dog fix with Big Mac and tasting with Courtney at Tony Soter.  My fave of the trip was Soter’s Brut Rose, and Courtney greeted us at the door with a glass.  Maybe that did it.

In Tony’s garden…

At the Depot in Carlton, tasting 08 Ken Wrights (for the cellar) and Ken teaching us all about terroir in Oregon.
Tasting at Witness Tree and Bethel Heights
Great lunch for $12 available at Bethel Heights:  freshly-baked baguette, charcuterie et fromage avec vin–mais oui! 
(below)  I had hoped they’d leave me behind here, but no such luck.
This should be my obituary picture.  Oh, and this is how wine is stored at the winery (St. Innocent)

(above)   And just in case you forgot what black-eyed susans looked like.
I don’t think there’s anything that doesn’t grow in Oregon.  Blueberries, a few, were still coming on.

(Above and Below)  In the tasting room
and barrel tasting at Christom
with Steve Doerner…who was the perfect host.

I hahd a fahm in Ohreegahn.
Loving Sineann.  (above and below)
Sineann produce and Dave and I in the parking lot at Sineann. (below)
(Below)In the Prive winery with Tina.
We were all convinced we’d like just a couple of acres of vines for Tina and Mark.
Sounded like fun when she talked about it.
Until the subject of weather came up.
And how it was going to affect the year’s income.  EEk.  Well.
But, whatever.  They DO get to have pizza parties with their outdoor wood oven.  Maybe that was part of the draw?

At dinner with Sineann winemaker, Peter Rosbeck, and also another piece of duck we were forced to eat.

This time with a little risotto and a gorgeous carrot.
Wine talk over part of Sineann’s lineup.  Note the vineyard maps behind. (above)

Last gasp:  stopped at the Ponzi wine bar (something like 150 OR wines to taste there) and had a tiny bit of breakfast wine on the way to the airport.  Arneis was LUUUHHHHvely.  Best buy?  Ponzi’s Rosato, a dry rose good enough for any table at $15.  (above)

A final pic… my favorite.  Best wine dog= Poor old Big Mac. Relegated outdoors during tasting at Soter’s.
I like you.  You’ll like me.  Why can’t I be in there?  I’ll only kiss you one (or five times).
Hey, Hey, Heyheyheyhey heyhey  Hey!!!  (Are you gonna eat that?)

Sing a new song; sing of OHREEGAHN,

Sole on Leeks with Salad

For six or seven months, I’ve been loving fish cooked in vegetables or with vegetables or as a part of a salad.  Maybe longer.  Just think of it.  Simple white (any color, really)  fish that absorbs the flavor of vegetables, is a complete dish (or almost) when it comes out of the pan,  and lets you eat your carbs at the other meals.  Or not.  To say nothing of getting your however many servings of vegetables.  Right there.  Right then.

I’ve done fish “tacos” this way,  fish salads with proscuitto, snapper in tomatoes, onions and olives, etc.  I even put sole in a spicy broth and felt naughty.  After all, sole is supposed to be…

Well, what is sole supposed to be?  I always think of meuniere when I think of sole.  And I make that fairly often.  Especially for just me.  What’s easier?  While I link to Ina’s recipe for it, really you can make it without a recipe, I’d think.   Very lightly  flour, salt and pepper up your sole, saute it in butter for a couple of minutes,  take it out of the pan onto a heated plate.  Add another tablespoon of butter into the pan, melt, and squeeze in a lemon.  Pour that over the fish on the plate and scatter some chopped parsley on top.  I like another dusting of salt and pepper.  If you have some greens on your plate, the sole and lemon butter will create your dressing.  Et voila, dinner is served in… how many minutes?  And how much sole do you need?  How hungry are you?  1/4 of a pound is ample.  If you buy a half pound, cook it all and eat the rest cold the next day with some green beans or tomatoes.

This sole, however, was a dream before I cooked it.  Fish cooked on leeks and just a smidge of garlic.  Nestled in some greens and a little tomato and yellow pepper for color.  No dressing that’s made ahead  per se, but a dressing is definitely made, once again, by lemon and olive oil.  Quick and healthy and lovely for a hot night.  Add a little Sauvignon Blanc, maybe a bite of bread and butter or cheese,  and there you are!

Sole on Leeks with Salad  serves 2

1t butter
2T olive oil, divided
6 leeks, whites and light green only, trimmed, washed very well, and sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, minced finely
1/4 c fresh parsley, divided
2T fresh chives, chopped, divided
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 # sliced fresh Dover sole
1 lemon, halved
1/4 c white wine or chicken stock
3c salad greens
1 tomato, chopped finely
1/4 yellow sweet pepper, chopped medium

In a large skillet, heat butter and 1T of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add leeks and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often.  Add garlic, 2T of the parsley and 1T of the chives.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Cook another minute or so until vegetables are very wilted and beginning to brown.

Add sole in a single layer over the leek mixture.  Add a little more parsley and chives, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add wine carefully.  Squeeze lemon over all and cover.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until fish is opaque, but still quite tender. 
 Meantime, on a large platter, scatter salad greens and top with chopped tomatoes and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper.  When fish is done, slowly, using a large flat spatula, remove vegetables and fish onto or in the middle of the greens.  Season with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, drizzled over the fish and salad.  Squeeze the other lemon half over the entire platter.  Finally, dust with a last pouf of fresh ground pepper.
Serve with a little seeded bread and salted butter, as well as a few slices of cheese.  A light white wine, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, would be the perfect accompaniment.  But I said that already.
Bon appetit!
Note:  the herbs are all from my garden…  Quite fun to wander around outside, hoping nothing burning on the stove, while I decide which herbs go in which part of what dish.  Some things I just love about summer.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
Thursday night dinner guests:  Froncie, Julie and Teresa for Grilled Chicken Caprese (another post.)
Froncie is an old college friend; Julie and Teresa are her sisters.  Wow.  What an evening outdoors.
How cool to see an old friend….
We babysit Moss.
He likes it.
Sunbird for brunch.
Someone else cooked!
Why I have goldens.
Summer in the front garden.
Russian sage…bees love it…
Still waiting…
What’s on my counter and in the frig?
Sweet potatoes for a frittata
Fresh mint in a small watering can–for tea
Big gladiolas
New potatoes
Sea salt
new Le Creuset pan; Dave burned up my old 3 qt one:):(
Big hunk of Gouda
Goat’s Cheese
Lemons and Limes
Side of salmon (friends for dinner)
Chuck steak (testing chili for Cooks’ Illustrated)
Oregon chardonnay
Blueberries (making blueberry frozen yogurt)
3 qts of iced tea
Sing a new song; cook some fish,