Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Cold Are We?

While it's dim outside and rain is dripping all afternoon,  it's easy to get bummed out about the cold.
But this isn't really cold, not even close. I have to keep telling myself that.
Here's some pictures to remind us all of what cold really is. And to point out -- once again -- that cold is beautiful and that it is a big reason I love to go skiing. Real cold is actually amazing to someone who grew up in the dry valleys of Southern California.
So please join me: Let's enjoy these pictures, then go make some soup. And maybe have a little Port before bed.
Cheers, Joan

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Locavores Are No Longer Weirdos?

It's harvest season here in Wine Country so the air smells like squished grapes.  Local garden tomatoes and squash, local bread and trees full of oranges are everywhere. But how about the rest of the year? How big of a deal is local food, really?
Turns out it is a really big deal, even after your favorite farmers markets have shut down for the winter. Fresh local food has gone mainstream year round. Yep, we locavores are no longer weirdos. (foodies can still be kinda ridiculous, what with the one-asparagus-on-a-plate for $10 thing)  Here's a bunch of stats proving how local has grown.

Like you perhaps, I fall in love with a local produce market in every town I visit--beautiful food and good prices. But the granddaddy has to be  Wegmans Markets in the East, partly because it is in places where the alternative is Walmart. Plus it snows there a lot, so forget winter gardens. Lately I learned that Wegmans even has its own research farm, now open to the public.This is a chain that is trying to teach customers raised on pizza, buffalo wings and donuts how to grill veggies and try whole gains. I've got to give them credit. Curious? Here's the deal on Wegmans.

Now, go make yourself a Harvest snack:
A slab of sourdough brushed with herb- flavored olive oil. Add a slice of newly picked tomato and basil leaves. Finish your computer work and go sit on the porch. Add wine.
Smile, sip and enjoy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Holy Guacamole, Pour Me Some Sangria

New flash: Beware of regular old TV, the kind that comes with commercials. 
You probably know there are a lot of tantalizing TV ads for junky food, but this stat hit me over the head: 
A 2,000 calorie diet of foods advertised on TV would contain 25 times the recommended daily servings of sugar and 20 times the recommended servings of fat.
Eating just one of the advertised food items would give you at least  2.5 times the recommended servings of sugar and fat for the entire day. 
So says the American Dietetic Association Journal, as reported in Adweek.
Holy Guacamole!
So I guess I'll stick with movies and my (ad-free) Netflix offerings. Who needs the unhealthy persuasion?

On the other side of the coin, what food and drink do you think we regularly search for on Google during the summer? Well it's not burgers and pizza, according to Adweek.  Google says the most popular searches are for chicken, salmon, margaritas and sangria. Yes, yes, yes, and YES.

Well, everybody around here craves margaritas, (check out the famous Margarita Quest). But poor Sangria is often forgotten when the menu is made. 
So, to save you a search, here's a great Sangria recipe to serve with that spicy guacamole, grilled chicken and poached salmon. You can make margaritas at the next BBQ.


1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
1/3 cup orange juice

  • 1 bottle red table wine from a small local winery
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds
  • 1 lime, sliced into rounds
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • ! cup sparkling water 

Turn off the TV and enjoy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cycle Chic in Your Town

Riding our everyday bikes around the neighborhood is actually fashionable. What a great development! 
Of course, cycling each day also keeps all our joints working and is easy aerobic exercise, as well as being green and cheap. Really, what is there not to like?
And now I can pick out cool togs that match my (neon green) bike and make a fashion statement as I pedal to the post office. 
Note to self: black seems like a good basic look for my bike, with contrasting casual brights. Stay away from pastels.

My inspiration comes from the new book "Cycle Chic" by Mikel Colville-Anderson. Lots of pictures of sexy folks wearing interesting clothes as they cycle in cities around the world. Another note: riding in heels is more comfortable than walking in heels. 
Mikel also has a blog filled with fun tidbits, (here's a post about cycling in skirts and dresses) but the book is the best way to get immersed in his vision. Happy riding everyone.

Photos courtesy: Good.net.nz, Cycle Chic

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tricky Food and Wine Match-ups

Not every marriage is uncomplicated. And not every food-and-wine pairing is simple. Sure, folks like to say to match up any food and wine that you like. Yes, red wines can be fine with fish. But sometimes it can get tricky. Especially if you like somewhat exotic dishes, and are getting a little tired of cheese.
So, in the interest of harmony, here's some advice from the experts and my own experience for those more complicated marriages.

Vinegar-based dishes -- German or New York Riesling
Yogurt-based dips -- Dry white or rose, Greek Retsina
Spicy chili -- Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot
Gingery soup -- Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurtztraminer

And any discoveries you've made about hard-to-pair healthy food, please share.
Cheers,  Joan

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Open-Minded Wine Fans Unite

I try not to be too picky about wines. That way I can venture out and still enjoy the various vintages that cross my path. But I admit to a few favorites -- both wines and winemakers. Take Vince Tofanelli (pictured here) and his Zinfandel, for instance. It's killer. Vince advises us to pair it with any tomato-based dish. Also a slice of home-made chocolate cake. Wow.

Tofanelli is a tiny Napa winery with really old Italian grapevines.
Wines cost about $35 and you have to order them. So they are a special treat -- but without a trace of snob appeal. I have no problem storing them right next to my inexpensive red table wine from the winery down the street. All enjoyed in good fun.