Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Color Is Your Rainbow?

I got this from Debra at

Your rainbow is shaded white and green.

What is says about you: You are a contemplative person. You feel strong ties to nature and your mood changes with its cycles. People depend on you to make them feel secure. Those around you admire your fresh outlook and vitality.

Find the colors of your rainbow at
">Your rainbow is shaded white and green.       What is says about you: You are a contemplative person. You feel strong ties to nature and your mood changes with its cycles. People depend on you to make them feel secure. Those around you admire your fresh outlook and vitality.Find the colors of your rainbow at'>Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Look Me, No Sandra Dee....I'm a...


What.A.Dump. (wild gesturing with a cigarette)

You Are a Bette!


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.   
  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.   
  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.    
  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.   
  • * Give me space to be alone.  
  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.   
  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.  
  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette  

  • * being independent and self-reliant   
  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on   
  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest   
  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life   
  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me   
  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette  

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to   (I sometimes forget there's a tact button)
  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence   
  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it   (all.the.time)
  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices   
  • * putting too much pressure on myself    (all.the.time)
  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often   

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit    (I was the feisty one)
  • * are sometimes loners   
  • * seize control so they won't be controlled  
  • * figure out others' weaknesses   
  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked   
  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents  

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted  
  • * are sometimes overprotective    (vigorous head shaking)
  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid (my kids laughed at that one)

Monday, February 23, 2009


Mom is still in the hospital. She's passing blood - something that had happened before several years ago, but this is different - without getting too graphic, it's not a blood and *use your imagination*, it's blood and mucus.  Not good.  The CAT scan showing some inflammation, so today they are going to follow up with a colonoscopy.  I spent yesterday with her, bathing her and just holding her hand.  She'll be 81 in a few weeks and it just seems as though her body is breaking down.  This is a long drawn out affair, tough on everyone, but I can't even imagine how hard it is on her - for years my sister and I always said that my mother is childish and completely narcissistic.  She is, but she is also far tougher than I ever imagined.  We were talking about next steps and she just talked about how she would handle whatever treatment or surgery came up.  It never occurs to her to just let go.  I've always thought that if in her shoes, when I got to a certain point, I would just want to concentrate on the time I had left and to love my family as much as I could before I went.  My mom doesn't feel that way. As long as there is a breath in her, she will fight. 

On a lighter note - I stopped at Moore Brothers wine company on the way home from the hospital. It is my all time favorite wine store and I rarely get to go.  I selected two Chinon Cab Francs and an Alsatian Pinot Blanc (mind you I have and was in the middle of a tasting when my phone rang.  It was the owner of Amalthea Cellars vineyard and he wants me to start working there on weekends!  I have precious little time, but I really want to do this.  I think my next career will be associated with wine - if I were ever to be in a position to follow this dream.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here We Go Again......

Friday morning I received a phone mom's blood pressure was all over the place and they couldn't get it stabilized.  Long story short, they took Mom to the hospital and when they found that her hemoglobin was dangerously low, they had to transfer her to another hospital for transfusions and dialysis.  It seems she's bleeding internally - again.  This happened a couple of years ago - no cause was found and after a week or so, it went away.  It's just that the maladies are coming closer and closer - you just learn to hold your breath day after day, wondering what will happen next. 

I also had an small hiccup at work - I wasn't selected for a job - and I think the way I presented myself to the client had a lot to do with it. I was trying to help and challenge the customer to do the right thing, but I could have been a little less "Jersey" about it.  All I can say is that it was a real learning lesson and I will approach these things in a much different manner from now on. 

I had a little break this week. A very good friend came into town and we got to spend some time together.  It was a life saver...:)

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Secret is In the Sauce.....

What sauce?  What is the secret? Can anyone help me out here?  I recently signed onto the SITS blog roll, I visit some of the blogs on the follower list and have found some really great blogs, Such as Words of Wisdom From a Smart Mouthed Broad, Like Sand in an Hourglass and of course A Devonshire Design.  So, my question is "Now What?"  I'd like to create more visibility for my blog - any ideas?  Just what is the secret in said sauce?  Any help is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adding a New Cookbook to My Top Ten List

I'm a devoted reader of the Amateur Gourmet.  His recipes are, for the most part, spot on, and his restaurant reviews are great.  Adam often receives cookbooks and recommends several a year.  He has a new sidebar on his blog that has a recommendation list and the other day, I noticed "All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Food" by Molly Stevens.  His review was very positive so I jumped over to and checked it out, and every review on the site was superlative.  That was it, I had to get it. 

Today, the book arrived and after leafing through it for a few minutes, I could see why everyone is so high on this book.  It's incredibly well written, the pictures are beautiful.  I turned to one of the recipes, Braised Leeks and Halibut and decided to give it a try.  I had thick filets of Steelhead Trout in the fridge and a few leeks left that I hadn't figured out what to do with. So I decided to give this recipe a try.  In keeping with the recipe, I prepared the leeks by splitting them in half and chopping the halves into nice sized chunks:


Molly advises you to rinse twice and I followed that - I've had gritty leeks before and that is NOT a pleasant experience.

While the leeks were soaking, I minced two cloves of garlic and about 1 1/2 TBS. of fresh thyme.  After rinsing and draining the leeks, put a small braising pan (or small saute pan that has a lid) on the stove and heat using medium heat.  Add a 1-2 glug of olive oil, then add the leeks, garlic and thyme and stir to coat with the oil.  Season with salt and pepper and continue to saute until the leeks are glossy.  Add a half cup of dry white wine (or dry vermouth) and bring to a boil.  Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment paper that has been greased with a little butter.


Place a lid on the braising pan  and put into a 350 degree oven on the center rack and braise for 45-50 minutes or until tender, you may have to add a little additional wine if the leeks are dry. 

When the leeks are tender, remove from the oven and add about 1/4 C. of heavy cream (I used half n half, I would change it to light cream to make it a little creamier but keep the calories down) to the mixture and stir until smooth and creamy (I didn't measure the cream, I just eyeballed it).


I pan fried the trout and steamed some baby zucchini:


Excellent!  Leeks, when slow cooked become mellow and almost sweet.  R, who is not an onion fan, scarfed them right up!

Adam Roberts is sooo right about Molly Stevens.

Now that I have all of these wonderful cookbooks - I really have to get it together and make a weekly menu to make my shopping more efficient. 

What was your favorite dish this week?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend Ramblings....

It's been a wonderful and weird weekend.  I talked about my loverly Friday night in my previous post. Saturday, Devonshire and her hubby came down to a wine tasting at the vineyard where I may start working in the spring.  As she mentioned in her post, not your typical Jersey wines (sweet fruit wines, yuck)  - lovely varieties made in the Bordeaux and Napa styles.  We came back after each buying several bottles and made an antipasto of Tuscan white bean salad, sliced red peppers, sopresatta and olives with sliced crusty seeded baguette.  It was a great afternoon, watching golf and picnicking in my den.  

After they left to to play chauffeur to their son, I got ready for a dinner party (already fooded out, mind you). I had invited a friend of mine who recently lost her husband and another friend to dinner.  I made Tunisian Chicken with Olives, a basmati pilaf and arugula salad with blood orange and mint.  We had Green Dragon Chardonnay and Clos D Bois Pinot Noir.  It was a lovely dinner and we sat around chatting - except my widowed friend kept jumping up and either running out to pet the cats who were sleeping in the sun room, to the bathroom or to answer her phone which rang repeated through out dinner. We had good conversation, but I found that the repeated exits and entrances disturbing. I didn't say anything (I realize that she feels very alone and is almost neurotic about missing a call), but it really bothered me.  Would you have said anything?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quiet Friday Night......

Tomorrow and Sunday are full days...meeting friends for a wine tasting in the afternoon, hosting a dinner party tomorrow night (not everyone buys into that junk- my sweetie and I call it St. Hallmark's day - romance is a more spontaneous thing), and Sunday I am taking my mom out for brunch and giggling.  But tonight.....tonight is a quiet night all of my own.  It's been a God-awful week; the company had a RIF and several good, good friends/associates (emphasis on the FRIEND part) were let go; we had to plan how to make money in a tough economy and the usual jam packed stuff that comes with the work week. I swear I worked in pajamas three days this week because I got started at 7 - the evils of working at home - and didn't look up until 4PM. 

But tonight... I packed the kids off to their various activities and their dad and step-mom and settled in for a relaxing evening.  On Demand is showing "Two Lovers"  - mutual theater/cable release (it's mostly art movies, which is great - my local art house movie theater got bought out and turned into a showcase -bleccchhh) ....


It was a stunningly good film - makes you angry that Joaquin has gone off the deep end to focus on bad white boy hip hop.   I followed that up with Six Degrees of Separation - I've never seen it all the way through (which I found interesting but a little over the top).

In retrospect, it was my pretentious movie night - and I loved it. Opened a great Spanish red, Navarra Azaratura Tempranillo, built a fire and sliced a little cheese and ate it with crackers and just relaxed.   Life is wonderful when the little things make you smile.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reconciling the Two Halves of My Brain....

I'm writing this while listening to my team meeting for my job.  I am an analyst with an IT  industry research and advisory firm.  I help companies save millions of dollars in software investments, better allocate their resources, and improve the quality of their applications.  This job allows me to exercise the right side of my brain - thinking through big problems, forecast trends in the industry, write research, speak at conferences etc.  If you're not in IT or software, what I do doesn't make a lot sense to many people, but if you're in IT, you know that working with companies like mine can help you save your job. 

The left side of my brain is what I bring to this blog; my recipes, my thoughts on wine, life and politics.  If there are a few folks who get something from this, that makes me happy.   

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Risotto for Lazy People

I love risotto, but like many people, I generally made it for a dinner party or when I had time to stand over the stove.   One night as I was setting up the rice cooker whilst making dinner, I wondered by a rice cooker couldn't play a positive role in bringing risotto into the mix as a regular player in the weeknight dinner mix. 

With a little online research, I found that one could make risotto in a rice maker; the reviews were pretty good, so I figured, why not? Give it a try. I opted for a simple mushroom risotto to use as a baseline. 

First, I gathered the ingredients:

I small white onion - chopped fine

1 cup of arborio rice

1 lemon ( for zest)

Dry white wine (use about 1/4 cup (give or take)

a few shitake mushrooms - I have two GREAT Asian markets near me so my choices in this area are just fabulous

Chicken Stock/Broth


I set the cooker to cook white rice and heated a little olive oil, then sauteed the onion


once the onion is translucent, add the rice and saute until the rice is translucent


Meanwhile, warm the stock until it is going at a good simmer on the stove. Regular rice mix for a rice cooker is one cup of rice to liquid at level 1 in the cooker - it's approx 1.5 C liquid to 1 c. rice.  For risotto, use a 2:1 or even a 2.25:2 mixture...heat extra stock and add as needed.


And saute the mushrooms lightly with a little salt and pepper ( I forgot to rake a picture of that).   Add the wine and the stock to the rice and close the lid to cook (make sure the white rice indicator is still on and is cooking)


Stir halfway through ...check if you need more stock, add an 1/8 cup at a time if needed


And add the sauteed mushrooms

When the rice cooker clicks to warm (it's an automatic thing - I can't give you times)



When everything is absorbed, pop open the lid and shave in some parmesan into the rice and stir until creamy.    I served this with a mixed green, Kalamata olive and pecorino salad and Hawaiian butterfish with tomato coulis:


This will go well with a Sauvignion Blanc or a Pinot Gris as a cut to the creaminess of the dish; or, a Chablis or a steel fermented  Chard if you want to highlight the fish a bit more. Yummy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Finding My Way Back to Recipe Time

I've been craving Indian food, but I have two kids who have very different tastes in food.  My son loves clean, bright tastes that are pretty identifiable and he hates spicy food.  My daughter loves spicy food and unusual presentations.  M loves Japanese and Italian food and salads, R loves Indian and French food and won't touch anything raw. The only cuisines they both agree on are pub/diner food (read: hamburgers) and Mexican.  So, when I'm craving an ethnic or vegetarian dish that is off the beaten path, if I'm not going out with friends, I usually have to get creative and make a variant of it at home so that I can reach a happy middle ground for both. 

Tonight was that night.  I was in the mood for Indian flavors, but not up for my usual Chicken Tikka Masala.  So, I dug out my copy of "Indian Food without the Fat" and went to work.  


Me getting ready to cook

Here are the ingredients:

Chicken - I used skinless thighs because they have flavor but less fat without the skin.


I crosshatched the thighs and rubbed in lemon juice and salt


While the chicken sat, I mixed the following into a blender

Pureed garlic (1 Tbsp)


1 Tbsp of pureed ginger, 1 Tbsp chile powder, 1 Tbsp paprika, 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp of cumin and 1 Tbsp of turmeric, 1 small onion, coarsely chopped and 3/4 c. of plain Greek yogurt.



Puree in a blender until well mixed and pourable because you will be pouring it over the chicken to marinate. Some recipes call for marinating overnight; others call for two to six hours.  I marinated for an hour (because I was busy on conference calls and got a late start).   


Meanwhile I started rice in the rice in the rice cooker and preheated the oven to 500. Now this looks more yellow than other tandoori's, I've seen - I'm chalking it up to the turmeric.  If color is a bother to you, up the paprika and cut back on the turmeric. Once the oven is ready, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on the sheet.  Coat with a healthy spritz of cooking oil and put into the oven to heat (about 5 minutes). Remove the thighs from the marinade and shake off excess. Place on rack and cook for 10 minutes, then flip over for another 5-10 minutes (I flipped after six minutes).  Turn the oven up to broil - Hi and broil just until the edges brown and char a little.

For a vegetable, I decided to make spiced green beans and carrots.  Toast 1 T. of black sesame seeds and 1 T. of white sesame seeds until the white seeds are light brown.  Pour into a mortar (or a coffee grinder reserved for spices) and crush slightly




Chop two cloves of garlic.  Heat a little oil in a saute pan and add garlic with 1 1/2 tsp chile powder, 1/2 tsp of paprika, and a 1/4 tsp of turmeric.  If you want additional spice, add a 1 tsp. of mustard seeds before adding the garlic, add the garlic when the seeds start to pop.


Add a bag of string beans and carrots (I used Green Giant) and saute until crisp/tender.  Sprinkle seeds over the veggies and toss. 



Voila!!  Tandoori  Chicken with Spiced vegetables:


Monday, February 9, 2009

Needing a Little Relaxation....

It's been a stressful day - the economy has affected us at work, and I'm bidding farewell to a few longtime friends. So now, settled into my chair with a nice glass of Bordeaux, some cheese, a hunk of bread and some olives, I'm reading cookbooks.  I read cookbooks like some people read novels.  I love the notes and anecdotes that surround recipes, ooh and ahh over the beautiful photos and sometimes dog ear and make notes in the columns.  I'm reading through "The Food You Crave" and "Spain - A Food Travelogue".  I'm also reading a memoir of Julia Child's  - "My Life in France" (along with A Traitor to His Class about FDR).   So I've decided to start a Meme - see if anyone still reads this blog */;-)* - Name your top 10 cookbooks. I'll offer up mine:

1. The Barefoot Contessa Goes to Paris - simple, hearty French influenced meals showcasing straightforward ingredients.  Roast chicken, beef tenderloin are stand-by's in my kitchen.

2. Tyler Florence's Ultimate - Everything in this book is just great - not a bad recipe in sight. Roast chicken, paella, chicken wings, steak - just eat the book, it's that good.

3. The Open House Cookbook -Sarah Lee Chase -  Classic cookbook, I think it was one of the first foodie cookbooks (1984) worth finding just for the Rainwater Chili, Provencal Lamb Chops and the June Havoc chicken legs.

4. Bistro Cooking - Patricia Wells - I actually bought this at a book store in Epcot (I'm secure enough to admit it), and loved loved loved it.  Fish recipes, potato recipes and tart recipes to die for.  This book (and Open House) turned me from a fumbler to a foodie in the kitchen.

5. The Way to Cook - Julia Child - Many of the recipes are straightforward and many are not.  Read it for the technique and do NOT be intimidated.  Yes, Julia knew more than anyone.

6. Julia and Jacques: Cooking At Home - Jacques' burger recipes are killer, as are the recipes for Veal Blanquette, Beef Borguignone and pate.  I received the book when I first started to really cook and I have to admit that I had to put it away for a couple of years until I became more confident in the kitchen and now it's one of my go to books.  The step by step is great.

7. The Art of Simple Food - Alice Waters - I'm including this even though it's one of my newer books.  It's just such a wonderful read and her dedication to fresh products is what has made me become a farmer's market devotee.

8. Field of Greens - Anne Somerville - It's a vegetarian cookbook that will appeal to carnivores.  The side dishes are simply gorgeous and the main dishes won't have you missing a chop or filet.  My favorite recipe is Fettuccine with Swiss Chard, Walnuts, Currants and Brown Butter - it is a perfect fall dish.  Risotto is another wonderful dish.

9. Nick Stellino's Mediterranean Flavors - Before there was Food Network, there was  PBS and Nick Stellino was a popular cook.  This book is very straightforward and produces great, flavorful dishes. Devonshire was addicted to the Eggplant Caviar for a while and my sister loves the Tunisian Chicken Tagine with Olives. 

10. The New Moosewood Cookbook - Molly Katzen - The original Moosewood is dog eared and stained. I love it with the nostalgia that you feel for an old lover, but the new and improved version is quickly becoming the one that I go to, because I like the lightening of the recipes that don't sacrifice flavor, the hearty dishes and the addition of fish dishes that are just flat out good.  ZuCanoes are a family favorite.

That being said, I do look online for many recipes and I keep my Gourmet, Bon Appetite and other cooking magazines around for far too long, but when I'm planning a meal, nothing beats looking through a stack of cookbooks to plan a menu.  What are your favorite books?  I'm tagging  Deb from Devonshire Design, Cindy from Figs Lavender and Cheese and Cathy from Noble Pig to offer up their favorites!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Whew...we have finally relocated Mom to assisted living. It's taken me three weeks of moving, cleaning, decorating and spending money to get Mom in and situated.  Many, many thanks to Devonshire and her family in helping me to get Mom set up. But we've finally done it.  The place is cute, she's got a lovely, private bedroom and she shares a kitchen and living room with her roommate.  Mom likes it, but we all understand it will take some getting used to.   What I've noticed is that with Mom gone, even though I'm making dinner each night for the teens, I'm starting to eat a lot less and imbibe less too...I can feel the stress lifting.

I've started yoga again and while I'm not doing it as regularly as I want, I am still making the effort to make it a regular activity.  I've decided to focus on being healthy, versus stressing over a body image that is probably not going to change dramatically.  I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, I want to enjoy myself responsibly now. I'm beginning to clean out years of garbage, emotionally and physically - it feels good - I'll keep you posted as I go along - I'm dipping my toes back into my life.

On another front, I am keeping my fingers crossed. I love wine - to drink it, to pair it with food, to cook with it, to give as gifts and to serve it to my friends.   Living in NJ, you'd think that unless I like blueberry wine, my only chance for decent wine is to drive to my local wine purveyor and buy the global best.  A few years ago I would have heartily agreed, but that is starting to change.  There are a few gems popping up here and there that are producing some really great wines and I, hopefully, will be pouring for one as well as doing food and wine pairings during the tasting.  I don't want to say more - no jinx, but keep your fingers crossed :)