Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2008 Poet's Leap Riesling

Pin It Some exciting news showed up in my mailbox today and I just had to share it with you.  My stepson, Andy, has been studying enology for the past six years or so and working with many different wineries on several continents.  From 2007- 2008, Andy worked with the esteemed private cellar Long Shadow Wineries in Walla Walla, Washington.  While at Long Shadow and under the direction of winemaker Armin Diel, Andy produced several wines including the 2008 Poet's Leap Riesling.

Now for the exciting news ...  Last week, President Obama hosted China's President Hu Jintao at the White House State dinner and served Long Shadow's 2008 Poet's Leap Botrytis Riesling!  At the request of the Chinese Delegation, the White House arranged a "quintessentially American" evening, complete with menu, decor and entertainment that reflected some of the nation's most recognizable offerings.  The 2008 Poet's Leap Botrytis Riesling was one of only three wines poured that evening, and was served for dessert with old fashioned apple pie and vanilla ice cream. 

Just last month, I served this same wine with Christmas Eve dinner - Paella to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  It's truly a delicious wine - one of my favorites.  The winemaker's tasting notes: Freshly peeled grapefruit, an appealing minerality, and a hint of ripe pear define the 2008 Poet’s Leap Riesling. Bright acidity gives the wine its vibrancy and a clean, underlying touch of sweetness contributes to a lengthy finish.

2008 Poet's Leap served for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
The bottle had been signed by Andy (wine-producer).

Andy enjoying a fresh tasting directly from the barrel.
A private tour and lesson on the art of wine-making.
Who knew a couple of years ago that these grapes would be served at the White House?!
Andy and his Dad on the first day of his enology studies.

If you haven't discovered the Walla Walla wine country of Washington State, I recommend you plan a visit this summer.  It's a lovely little town with fabulous wineries.  You will not be disappointed.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Forget French Fries - Hola Tostones

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This past week my sister-in-law invited me over to enjoy a Puerto-Rican dinner prepared by her mother.  What a treat!  Guava & cheese, pernil (roasted pork), rice with beans & pumpkin, tostones and pastillos de guava (pastries filled with guava paste).  Sra. Maldonado graciously taught me to make the tasty little tostones - I have a new favorite snack.

Tostones, Rice with Beans & Pumpkin, and Pernil

Tostones are made from green (unripe) plantains commonly found in the fresh fruit department of a grocery store.  The peeled plantain is sliced into 1 inch thick slices, fried in hot oil until they turn golden-yellow (about 1-2 minutes on each side), and then removed from the oil and patted with a paper towel. 


Once the excess oil has been removed, each slice is squished flat with a "tostonera" (or any kitchen utensil that has a large enough flat surface) and sprinkled with Adobo seasoning. The plantains are then fried once again until they are crisp and golden brown.

They are immediately served with a garlic dipping sauce (olive oil, minced garlic, dash of Adobo seasoning, splash of vinegar).

Pastillos de Guava
Roll out puff pastry dough and cut into small squares.
Place a cube of guava paste in the middle of pastry square.
Place another pastry square on top and pinch together. 
Bake at 350F until puffed and lightly browned.
Sprinkle pastillos with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Las Tres Maldonados

Con un coraz√≥n agradecido, besitos a la Sra. Maldonado y sus hijas.

Buen Provecho!
25JAN11 Update: I've linked this posting to Today's Creative Blog.  Click on over to see many other ideas from those who have got Their Craft On too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Favorite Store Where Everything Is FREE!

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Love in the Time of Cholera

Our local public library is my favorite store.  I love books - all kinds of books - books about crafting, knitting, cooking - biographies - mysteries - a good old Jane Austen love affair.  Books inspire me.  Creative juices are tapped and visions just flow.  I have visions of my niece beaming upon receiving a new creation inspired from a Felted Jewelry book, or visions of one of our granddaughters cuddling up with her hand-knit teddy bear.  I can smell the biscuits baking in the oven.  I hear the voice of President Obama as a child in Indonesia learning to box with his new stepfather.  I can feel the pain of President Bush ordering young Americans to war.  I can hear the cannons blasting in the Civil War and the cries of our fathers.  I can see Mr. Darcy standing in the fountain with his dripping wet shirt ... 

Snow Falling on Cedars

 Perhaps my love for books was developed in the parochial school program I attended as a child.  The program included weekly time in the school's library.   There were book reports of course, but I'm sure I checked out more books than required to.  My mother volunteered in the library which was an added bonus for me, seeing my mother during the school day.  I recall her sweet smile when she would see me come in, and my heart warms. Perhaps this is why I love books so much.

Cold Mountain

In college, a took a part-time job working in the campus library to earn spending money.  This was the best job!  Easy access to all of the books whenever I needed them.  Quiet time to study when things were slow.  And an opportunity to catch up on the latest campus happenings with everyone who passed by.  It is with this job that I learned the ins and outs of a library and the full potential it offers its patrons.

Mere Christianity

There are so many wonderful crafting, knitting and cooking books on the market.  It's hard to tell from the book jacket which are good books for my personal library, and which ones are fun to look at for inspiration but probably not something I would continue to use over and over again.  The public library provides a good solution.  If I come across a book that looks interesting, I will order it from the library.  Our library has a very large and current selection so there is usually no difficulty finding what I'm looking for.  Once receiving the book, I spend time with it to digest all that it has to offer.  If I can't bear to part with it when it comes due for return, then I put it on my Amazon wish list for a special treat someday.  Here are a few of my favorites that have made it on to the shelf in our home.

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Western Garden Book

Simple Knits for Cherished Babies

Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (Helm Field Guides)

The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook 3rd Edition: Cookware Rating Edition

Wishing something new discovers you today!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Taming the Paper Dragon

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Once all of the beautiful Christmas decorations are put away and the house has been put back in order, it's time then to switch my attention to taming the paper dragon that enjoys my office.  A few years ago, I found a very helpful tool that replaced the tower of paper-filled shoe boxes with a neat little electronic file.  If you aren't already using this product, let me introduce you to NeatReceipts.

This is not a paid product endorsement.  It is just a product that I have used and loved for years.

With this easy to use scanning tool and its software, you can easily scan receipts and log it into a file. The software has built-in organizing capabilities and also lets you export the data to external programs, like Excel.  The scanner software has technology to decipher text (like date, store name, payment method, amount paid) and then inputs the text into a spreadsheet-like format.  The more receipts that are entered, the smarter it becomes with its self-teaching imaging recognition program.  At tax time, you can create detailed financial records for each receipt in the click of a few keystrokes.  Since the IRS allows for electronically imaging hard copies of documents (including receipts), there's no need to keep all of those shoe boxes filled with receipts, and there is no loss of data when the receipt ink fades. 

You can also scan and organize business cards, expense reports and various other documents, and import other electronic files (e.g., pdf images of canceled checks or credit card statements).  I have the mobile scanner and use it to scan insurance policies, medical records, important personal records (e.g., birth certificates, passports, etc), and childhood memories (e.g., artwork) - all neatly organized and readily accessible on my computer.  When traveling without my computer, I export a pdf of relevant data and images to a USB stick.  I even scan loose paper clippings of recipes, interesting articles and crafting inspiration from magazines.  Since all of our receipts are stored in the database, maintaining a household inventory list is easy (let's hope I never need it for insurance purposes), as is an accrual of home-improvement projects (which will be needed when the time comes to sell our lovely home). 

Just the other day, someone asked me where I purchased a pair of boots I was wearing.  I couldn't recall off hand, but with a simple search in the Neat Receipts database, I found the original receipt from five years ago with the retailer's name, date purchased and amount paid.  Any financial expert will tell you, the first step in gaining control of your finances is to know where your money is going.  This tool has helped my husband & me know where every penny goes.  I love this product!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold Hands - Warm Heart

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As my two hands enveloped the palm of the 90 year old woman sitting next to me in church, she says to me, "Cold Hands, Warm Heart".  Cold hands and feet have plagued me since I was a child.  My widowed grandmother would share her bed with me when I came to visit and she always would tell me, "Your feet are like ice cubes; put some socks on."  Since I've embraced knitting, I have discovered now fashionable fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm.  They are perfect for working on the computer, knitting or just about any other task not involving liquid.  More stylish versions are saved for special occasions.  In the Pacific Northwest, fingerless gloves are perfect any time.  Over the years, I must have knitted over a dozen pair. Some I kept for myself and others were given as gifts.  They are quite favored by my mother.

There are two patterns that I most commonly use.  The first is the Welted Fingerless Glove available at Churchmouse Yarns and Teas Shop on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. The great thing about this pattern is that it only requires one skein of yarn!  I'm usually able to knit up a pair in an evening or two.

(Photo Courtesy of Churchmouse Yarn & Teas)

The second pattern is from Louisa Harding's Knitting Little Luxuries called Victoria Fingerless Mittens.  This pattern has a lace cuff and Louisa's yarn Grace Wool & Silk is truly a luxury - oh so very soft.  The pattern in the book is for mittens with a long, extended cuff.  I have modified the pattern and made a version with shorter cuffs as well.
(Photo courtesy of Louisa Harding Knitting Little Luxuries)

I recently found a pattern called Wintry Mix Mitts by Grace Schnebly. I've been wanting to learn intarsia knitting but have always been intimidated by knitting a sweater with so many strands of yarn.  This looks like the perfect project to learn intarsia, so I plan to give it a go in the next weeks. 

(Photo courtesy of kathrynivy.com)
With a warm heart,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Morning Cup of Tea

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Every morning I wake up to this - a lovely cup of hot black tea.  My husband makes me a cup of tea every morning and has since our first day of marriage nearly nine years ago.  On the weekends, he serves me my tea in bed with a slice of toast and jam.  I think he must love me!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Journal for Me and A Journal for You

Pin It After showing my husband the little pocket size datebook that I made for his mother (see previous post), he asked me if I could make him a Birder's Journal to keep track of the bird sightings he makes on the Island.  I was tickled - "Of course, with pleasure!".  A friend then asked if I could make up a Dieting Journal for her to track meals and exercises.  "I'd love to!"  Nothing pleases me more than making a little treasure for someone.

I used the same weekly planners previously purchased at JoAnn.  To embellish the datebooks with the personality of a Birder's Journal and a Dieting Journal, a vintage image was attached to the front cover.  The Graphics Fairy (http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com) has so many vintage advertising postcards with birds, it was hard to choose just one.  A silver place setting image seemed perfect for the Dieting Journal.  If you are looking for vintage images to use in your projects, I suggest you check out The Graphics Fairy.  Everyday the Graphics Fairy posts vintage images in the public domain for anyone to use.  Each Monday she features projects made with images she has posted, and these journals are on her Brag Monday List this week.

Wishing you a week filled with surprises and delights!
11JAN11 Update:  I've linked this posting to Today's Creative Blog.  Click on over to see many other ideas from those who have got Their Craft On too.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cheap Eats: Pulled Pork and Apple Pie Floats

Pin It For dinner tonight, I decided to make pulled pork with bread & butter pickles and coleslaw followed by apple pie floats for dessert.  It was the perfect dinner to chow down while watching a football game.  Speaking of which - Go Seahawks!!!  Even if you are not a Seahawks fan, you had to enjoy watching Marshawn Lynch run for a 67-yard touchdown - hoot hoot!!!  Now, I can't say the Seahawks have inspired me of late, but tonight they did.  After the game, this little card was crafted for my current Send Love Today assignment.  My SLT assignment is a teen boy from Massachusetts - think he'll like it?

Back to the pulled pork and apple pie floats.  At Cooks.com I found an easy  recipe.  Of course, I changed it up a bit to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand and to suit our taste.  I also cooked it all day in a crock pot - this slow cook really intensified the flavor.
Ingredients I used:
    1 (4 lb.) pork shoulder roast
    1 (16oz) can of tomato paste
2 tbls. firmly packed brown sugar (Splenda)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. red-wine vinegar
1/4 c.Red Wine left over from last night's dinner
4 tsp. soy sauce
2 c. water
Put all ingredients in a crock pot and cook at least 6 hours (I cooked it over 8 hours on medium). When done, lightly skim any fat that has floated to the top.  Then gently pull/shred the meat apart with two forks.  Mix in with the sauce. 

This is the finished product served on fresh onion rolls with bread & butter pickles and cole slaw on the side.  It makes enough for 8 sandwiches.  The pork had been previously purchased when on sale for on 99 cents/pound and then frozen.  The most expensive item was the package of Franz onion rolls at $4.50 for 8 (next time I'll have to make my own).

For dessert, I tried a new treat - apple pie floats.  Here's my take on the recipe: you will need vanilla ice cream, ginger ale, apple cider, caramel syrup, caramel sauce, apple pie spice.

Scoop ice cream into a fountain glass (2-3 scoops).  Mix 50% apple cider with 50% ginger ale and a splash of caramel syrup.  Place spoon and straw into the glass.  After the foam has settled, drizzle a little caramel sauce over the ice cream and sprinkle with a dash of apple pie baking spice.  Enjoy - you worked hard this week!


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