Mama w her babies

Mama w her babies

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sonoma California

I just spent Thanksgiving weekend in the Sonoma/Napa area if California & it was a truly great trip.  We had some spectacular wines & great food!!!  We found out early that 2-3 wineries are about the limit for the day. 

Of course our 1st day we visited 5, Chateau St. Jean, Imagery, Schug, Cline & Jacuzzi. I had to dump a lot of wine & some were too good to dump.  I can still say now that I have tasted just about everyone of Jacuzzi's wines I haven't found one that I didn't like.  I have to say that doing tour  & Private tastings were much more enjoyable then tasting with everyone else on a busy weekend when there is a special event where you spend $44 for a 2 day weekend & get to taste at 120 different wineries. We then went to dinner in downtown Sonoma at a place called the Depot.  It was very good but we were a bit wined out so we just ate with no wine. I had a tenderloin with a pepper sauce, whipped potatoes & some steamed veggies.  All very good!!!  We then headed up to the Russian river to the Korbel estates & spent the night in one of the guest houses.

The next morning we got up & walked around to discover that the estate is really an old railroad town that Korbel had purchased & turned into their winery.  We then headed back down to Sonoma to Kenwood & then Vally of the Moon.  They are both owned by Korbel. In between the two tours we went to the Meritage where I had a lobster salad sandwich on their home made foccica with a side of fries.  Very good!!!  I split my sandwich with my hubby & in return I got half of his burger with cambazolla cheese & bacon, also very good!!!  Doing only 2 wineries was a much better idea.  We then headed back to Santa Rosa were we stayed the night & went to dinner at Zazu restaurant & farm.  It would have been nice to get there in while it was still light to see the farm but it was dark.  There I had a fatoush salad that was made with mint & parsley for the greens with pomegranate seeds & goat cheese.  It also had red pepper that was a little over bearing but I just picked them out.  For my entree I had the flat iron steak that was cooked perfectly & served with blue cheese ravioli, whole roasted garlic cloves & red chard.  It was all sooooo good!!!! 

The next morning we headed up to Lake County to visit the Langtry Estate & Vineyards for a tasting, lunch & a tour. It was truly spectacular.  We had lunch up on a hill where the cab grapes are grown that overlooks the whole Langtry valley.  Our guide, Scotty, was extremely knowledgeable about the winery & knew all aspects of  the process.  We were able to enjoy wines from the barrels & the stainless vats, which was very cool to see the differences in flavor of each.  It was a great way to spend our last day.  We then headed back to SF to the airport.  Of course when ever I am at the SF airport I have to pick up 2 of my favorite things in the world, See's candy & SF sourdough bread, to bring home with me.  ...& I don't share!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

A few years back I was lucky enough to go to Africa on a photo sufari.  While there we stayed in "bush homes" which were like bed & breakfasts, lodges, & then we camped for a few nights in the saringeti.  We were very well taken care of.  Every morning we would have tea, coffee, or hot chocolate waiting out side our door & then we would go to breakfast which was a baffet & would consist of eggs, bacon & sausage, grilled tomatoes, beans, potatoes & all the fresh fruit & pastries one could eat.  Lunch was usually a box lunch consisting of fried chicken, hard boiled egg, an apple or orange, & something sweet for dessert because we were usually out in the "bush", out watching the animals.  Then at night we would go back to where ever we were staying & get dinner.  Dinner would always start with a soup that was often pumpkin and/or salad.  The entrees were simple, veg, starch, & meat which could be wild game or fish, chicken, etc...  all served with nan.  ...& then dessert which was always yummy!!!! 

Here is my recipe for Pumpkin soup.  It is a geat starter for Thanksgiving.

½ stick.................. Butter
2 ea...................... Carrots
4 ea...................... Celery Ribs
1 ea...................... Onion
4 ea...................... Bay leaves
1 Tbs................... Garlic powder
1 Tbs................... Onion powder
½ gal.................... Chicken Stock
2 tsp..................... Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 drops................ Tabasco
1 can (29 oz)....... Puréed Pumpkin
1 qt....................... Heavy whipping cream
to thicken.............. Roux

1.    Dice carrots, celery and onion into ¼” pieces.
2.    Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed stockpot and add the diced vegetables.
3.    Sauté until golden brown, stirring so as not to burn.
4.    Add chicken stock, onion and garlic powders, and bay leaves.
5.    Let simmer for 30min.
6.    Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, Tabasco and heavy whipping cream and bring to a boil.
7.    Thicken with roux  (roux is part flour and part melted butter made into a paste)

Garnish with chopped green onions, toasted pumpkin seeds (I often get tamari flavored), fried garlic and/or a dollop of sour cream.

If you wanted to make this soup healthier you could use low fat milk in place of the cream and olive oil in place of the butter in both the sautéing and the roux.  To make this soup vegetarian you would use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. You can replace the canned pumpkin with fresh pumpkin that has been cooked down and pureed but in this day and age it is hard to get a good baking pumpkin.  You can also change the soup by replacing the spices and replacing the pumpkin with other types of squash or roasted red peppers. 

Be creative, have fun and enjoy!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010


It's pomegranate season & yep, I love pomegranates.  I remember tasting my 1st one. One of the older neighbor kids that lived behind us was baby sitting us and brought one for us to try.  I was hooked.  Over the years my mom would buy my sisters one for a special treat.  Growing up in Colorado & not having a lot of money it wasn't often.  Now, I eat them as often as I can. 

Since ancient times, pomegranates are a symbol of fertility & the Goddess of Love, Venus liked to give them as gifts to all of her favorites.  Pomegranates are very high in antioxidants such as vita. C & very high in fiber.  So they are a very healthy snack.

A pomegranate can be intimidating but they are really easy to get into.  And yes you can eat the whole little seed.  But be careful because the juice will stain.  Just cut the fruit in half and carefully remove the seeds.  I tend to take the slow hard way of starting at the top & carefully peel it. but I don't loose any of the yummy little rubies of yummy flavor.

Pomegranate & Walnut Salad

1 hd............... Chopped Lettuce
½ c................. Pomegranate 
½ c................. Walnuts
½ c................. Sliced Red Onion
½ c................. Blue Cheese Crumbles
2 ozs.............. Dressing


1 c...................Oil
½ c..................White Vinegar
2 Tbs...............Sugar
¼ tsp...............Salt

1.      Mix dressing and refrigerate until needed.
2.      Place lettuce in a bowl.
3.      Arrange ingredients over lettuce.
4.      Ladle dressing over the top.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Getting started

I am starting this blog because I love food & have a few things to say about it.  I have always been a very picky eater & now I am just a food snob (aka, grown up word for picky eater).  What most people don't know about me is that I will only eat about 10% of what I make.  I guess I was always meant to be a chef (which is a word I have a hard time calling myself b/c it is sooo over used & is meant for those who have earned the title).  After cooking professionally for 8 yrs I went to collage & got my BS in Food Science (yes, I am a food geek & a chef).

I state that I love food. By that statement I don't mean just to eat but all that it is.  I get great joy every time someone tastes something that I made & truly love it. I always watch the face because it never lies. I love the science of food.  I love that we can take mold and make yummy cheeses.  I love that we can take living organisms and create bread & wine.  I love the calming it gives me while cutting & chopping. It takes me to that zen place.  I most love how people are when sitting down to enjoy a meal with others.  People are much more respectful while eating with others.  That social aspect of food.  I love how it works in our bodies.  When we eat healthy, we are healthy.  When we eat unhealthy, we are unhealthy.  Food should always be balanced.

Be creative, have fun & enjoy!!!!