Pheasant’s Tears – Kakheti, 2015

  • Basic info: Pheasant’s Tears, Kakheti Rkatsiteli, Tibaani, Georgia – 2015
  • Type: Rose
  • Price estimate: $18 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Cranberry color with a hint of orange
  • Smell: Not much smell. Smelled liked wine.
  • Taste: Interesting taste – not much there. No real discernible flavors. Slightly woody on the back end, but not tree-bark like.
  • Conclusions: Eh. I thought it was fine.
  • Other notes: We had this wine on vacation with friends because we were really curious about it and it ended up with two very different opinions. Bob, John, and Erin hated it on the first sip – so much so that they would not go back for a second sip. Ed and I both thought it was fine. It wasn’t offensive and it didn’t have anything distinctive in the taste. I can’t say it was enjoyable, but I didn’t find it bad at all. I’m glad we tried it, especially after hearing about it on a podcast and on an Anthony Bourdain show. It was interesting but not something I need to try again.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, “the wine shows an electric raspberry robe in the glass. Aromas of dried apricot angle with walnuts and wildflower honey. A crunchy acidity gives lip-smacking texture to flavors of red cherries, almond skin and ripe strawberries. Fine, grippy tannins make this rose perfect for a cool summer evening.” 11.5% alcohol by volume.


Really, Mom?

We knew the end of August would be busy and hectic. We knew that Bob had to be away for business and I had some long days with the start of the school year. Despite this, after taking my exam for my Florida license (no idea how I did, results won’t be in for a while, but the test was nothing like the practice test the state puts out, or any of the review/study materials they publish. Given that … who knows) I decided to go look at kittens again. I figured Bob and I had been looking for a while and we didn’t come home with anyone, so we probably would not find a cat and that would be that. Well … we were wrong.


Meet Ella (on the right) and Alinea (on the left). These about three-month old kittens stole our hearts almost immediately. Ella was super outgoing and very energetic. Alinea was shy and very skittish. They played well together (they are not from the same litter). We were a little concerned about each individually, and their impact on the boys, so when Bob suggested we adopt both (yes, two was his idea) I wasn’t going to object. And I have to say, he was absolutely right.

The girls both had a rough start. Alinea was thrown from a car and had a degloved jaw and road rash on her paws and tail. Ella was found as a tiny kitten in a barn all alone – no momma cat, no siblings. These two were incredibly lucky to be rescued by a great girl who runs her own rescue organization (and she is 23!!!) and rehabilitates cats so they can be adopted. She did an incredible job with these two and we just adore them.

The boys are still adjusting. Arthas is more interested in their litter box and food than he is in them. Tigger isn’t sure about them, but he isn’t objecting to their presence. I’m hoping once everyone settles in and gets comfortable with each other, they will all get along. We know it will be a while, but it will be worth it.

Personalities are still developing but already Alinea is more outgoing than we expected. Ella is curious, but shy with the boys and she likes her alone time. It will be very interesting to see how they change as they grow up.

(Ella got her name because of the dark freckle like marks on her face, and the darker smudge on the other side of her nose. Every time I saw it I thought of soot, so she made me think of Cinderella, hence the name Ella.  Alinea is both the name of an amazing restaurant in Chicago, but it is also the editing symbol that indicates a new paragraph. Since she had such a rough start, we want her to have a new beginning. She also LOVES food and eats constantly and voraciously, so the name definitely fits her.)

Summer Salad

I love summer food. Tomatoes, peaches, corn, zucchini etc. are some of my favorite foods and they are fresh during the summer. Admittedly Florida is a little challenging vegetable wise in the dog days of summer, but there are still plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to be found.


When I saw the dark cherry tomatoes at the farmer’s market, I knew I had to make a sale out of them. The ripe peach cried out to be paired with them, so I made an herbed vinaigrette using the chives, oregano and parsley from my garden. I roasted a little corn, chopped up some manchego and tossed it all together. It was lovely.


PFAFFL – Gruner Veltliner, 2016

  • Basic info: PFAFFL, Gruner Veltliner “Vom Haus”, Niederösterreich, Austria – 2016
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $18 (? Weekly Tasting pack, so I’m not certain)
  • Look: Pale straw in color with minimal legs, even when warm.
  • Smell: Apple and vanilla. Not much smell to this one and I *think*  I got those two smells, but in retrospect I might have wanted to smell those.
  • Taste: Under ripe peach, salt, lime and white grape. (Yes, seriously, white grape)
  • Conclusions: This was a pretty amazing wine. It was light and clean tasting, but there was a lot going on in it. This was a wine you could drink and ignore as you sat and chatted (which is what we did the first night we opened it with a friend) or ponder as you sip it as I did the next time we had it.
  • Other notes: I think this wine goes on the list of favorites – right there with the Soter Pino Noir and Decoy or Haywood Zinfandels. It is that good.
  • From the bottle: “This classic, crisp and fine fruity Gruner Veltliner has a good pinch of black pepper. A great house wine that is incredibly versatile.” 12% alcohol by volume.


Mock Chipotle Sofritas Salad

About once a quarter a group of us at work have a Friday in lunch together. We order something, pick it up and try to have a rallying lunch. One of our go-to places was Chipotle and I was pretty excited when then added a vegetarian protein. It ticked all the boxes for me – spicy, touch sweet and really filling. The lunch in tradition changed a bit this past year and we did more eat what we brought as we had lunch together, which is great for a variety of reasons, but I did somewhat miss the salad. Yes, I know Bob and I could go and get lunch or dinner one night, but I scoured the internet for for a way to make it at home and found a recipe that looked possible. I also found a copycat recipe for the chipotle-honey vinaigrette that I love on the salad. So … I decided to try it since I had a little time one weekend.

I didn’t use as much tofu as the original recipe called for, although I did make all of the sauce to cook it in. I didn’t want to have a lot left over if this didn’t work, so I just used about 7 oz. of tofu and that was enough for Bob, myself and one leftover portion. When I make this again, I will probably use one whole package of tofu so we have more leftovers.

For the meal, I recreated most of the salad the way I order it. I used red leaf lettuce, rice, diced tomato, cheese, the sofritas and dressing. I was going to fry up some onion and orange pepper, but decided against it, and the corn salsa I made wasn’t good – I think the corn had a bad case of freezer burn. But the overall effect was good. Very good. Better than Bob expected good.

I will say this – going out for this is way easier than making it. It isn’t hard, but there are so many pieces to it – blistering the pepper, making the dressing, making the sofritas, making all the parts that go on to the salad … and I cheated and used pre-shredded cheese! I’ll make it again, but it will not be in the quick weeknight dinner rotation.


Chateau Saint Martin De La Garrigue – Rose, 2016

  • Basic info: Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue, Bronzinelle Languedoc Rose, Provence, France, 2016
  • Type: Rose
  • Price estimate: $18 (? – from Weekly Tasting pack, so I’m not certain)
  • Look: Salmon pink in color with descent legs
  • Smell: strawberry, cherry and some mineral
  • Taste: light berry, hint of mineral and salt, very light. Weird taste in the middle and back of this wine and very alcoholic tasting.
  • Conclusions: I love rose so I wanted to love this wine. It started out really great, but that weird taste kept intruding on my enjoyment of the wine. I ended up not finishing my glass and am not sure we will have any more from the bottle. I don’t think it was a bad bottle, just not one that we liked.
  • Other notes: The smell and first sip of this wine was really lovely, but I just could not drink it. There is an odd taste in the wine, and I think it may be gooseberry (based on the descriptor of the wine) that I just didn’t like. The grapes in this wine are Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah.
  • From the bottle: From the Weekly Tasting notes, “Strawberry, red cherries, red currants and orange zest with a marked flintiness on the nose. The wine is rich in body for a rose and has an incredible silky texture. ” 14% alcohol by volume.


Laurent Barth – Gewurtztraminer, 2012

  • Basic info: Laurent Barth, “Le Clos des Trios Chemins”, Gewurtztraminer, Alsace France, 2012.
  • Type: white
  • Price estimate: $17 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Deep yellow color. Lots of legs, even when cold.
  • Smell: lemon flower, honey, and orange blossom. Bob got peach and some fruit he could not identify.
  • Taste: Sweet. Round and full bodied with a crisp end when cold. Orange blossom, Chartreuse and vanilla flavors. Bob swore there was another flavor he could not identify and later said lychee. Nice finish – longer than expected.
  • Conclusions: Very cold, this wine is fantastic. It is sweet – no mistaking it for a dry, off-dry or semi sweet wine. It is complex and interesting and reminds me a bit of an oaked chardonnay in the texture of the wine. As the wine warms, the sweetness intensifies and it was a little hard for me to finish a glass.
  • Other notes: I am not a fan of rich, buttery wines or of sweet wines, so I was surprised that I liked this one so much. It had a lot going on in the glass and ice box cold, I really liked it. As the wine warmed (we were eating dinner) I found it harder to drink and the sweetness really started to coat my mouth. I’m not sure if this is a typical example of the varietal, but it is definitely interesting and I really want to try a dry version, and maybe one with just a little less richness in texture.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, “This one has the perfect level of sweetness. It’s not cloying or sticky, but is instead balanced and fresh with white flowers and other classic Gewurz aromatics, a rich and textured apart, and great underlying acidity which lends well to the dreamy and majestic finish.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.



There is apparently a small problem with having some time off from work around the end of July, beginning of August. I start to think about adding pets to the house. This was not a problem when we had four furry creatures, but less than that and I start to think, and look, and really want another pet. Last year I decided to “just look” at dogs and ended up, on the first visit, falling in love with Arthas. Although in my defense, how does one not fall in love with this face.IMG_20170814_122232

This year I was so busy for June and most of July that I barely had time to think about a new cat. I went through the “I’m not ready” phase, then the “Tigger isn’t ready” phase, then the “it’s not a good idea” phase, followed closely by the “I’m good with just the two boys” phase, and then hit the “oh screw it, I want another cat” phase. I can give you twelve different logical reasons why a new kitty is a bad idea (and counters to every one of them) – Arthas has issues with other animals (but he does fine once he knows the animal and it doesn’t rush him – we can train a cat), Tigger had his world turned upside down four times in the last year and he needs stability (he has always had other kitty companions and might like the company), I have a full time job plus an internship coming up (cat will still get more attention and love than she would in a shelter), and we have no idea what my job situation will be like in a year (technically this is always true, so why should this year be any different).

So … I started looking. I went to a few area shelters, scoured and just looked and looked for the right kitty. Bob went with me a few times to look at kitties and there were one or two that I really wanted to be the right cat, but just weren’t.  There was one cat that I wanted to want to bring home (ok, more than one, but one in particular) as she was sweet, calm, friendly and super cute (admittedly I think most cats are super cute, so take that with however much salt you need) but something kept stopping me from taking her. There were two kittens I really wanted to want, but they just weren’t right either.

I want the feeling I got when I first saw Jessie or Gracie or any of my other babies – that feeling of you belong with me and I just can’t wait to bring you home. I want to be eager for Bob to meet the kitty and fall as much in love with her as I will and I just haven’t found that yet. Add to this mix I want a cat the boys will be ok with, and maybe even like (I do have little fantasies of our own“Dear Kitten” video moments). I know it will be an adjustment period, and we have so much going on right now that it is a bad idea, but I’m going to keep looking. Heck, if I can go to multiple shelters over multiple days and not bring a kitten home, I think I can be trusted to wait for the right cat, and not just the right time. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my boys – cause the are super cute and super sweet and my babies (ok, Arthas has become Bob’s dog, but he is still my boy).

Pot Stickers

Appetizers for a meal make me happy. Appetizers that I can make at home and make a meal are even better. I was trying to find something a little different and came across this recipe for pot stickers that looked really interesting. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, so I knew there would be some manipulating of the recipe, but the basic idea sounded great.

I could not find red cabbage at the grocery when I went this week so I decided to go with the bagged mixed coleslaw as it is mostly green cabbage with a little red cabbage and carrot thrown in. Yes, I was lazy and didn’t feel like shredding or chopping lots of cabbage, so this worked. And now I have leftover for salad. Woot!

Making the filling was pretty darn easy. It didn’t take long to cook everything in a hot pan and it looked really pretty. I like pretty food. Now the making the individual dumpling – that was a pain. I managed to make about half of them before giving up – I’ll finish today so I have lunch the next couple of days – but I just could not stand there trying to fill them correctly for much longer. And I was getting hungry. IMG_20170725_171426

So my recipe:

  • wonton wrappers
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 small/medium zucchini grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 7 oz tofu, pressed and diced (I’m going to crumble this next time for easier filling)
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

I heated a little oil in a pan and added the ginger, cooked for 30 seconds then added the onion. I cooked that for about two minutes then added the carrot, zucchini and cabbage. I let that cook, stirring sometimes, for about two minutes then added the tofu, tossed it together and cooked for three minutes. Off heat, I added in the scallions, pepper, sesame oil and soy sauce and mixed it together. I let this cool for about five minutes while getting the wontons ready for filling.

I lined a plate with a damp paper towel and kept a small bowl of water near by. In each wonton, I added about 1 tablespoon of filling and ran a wet finger over the edges of the wonton before trying to close. I tried a few different ways to seal these, and found keeping the bottom just a little longer than the top and folding it over the edge worked best. This is one of the reasons I needed to mash up the tofu – I needed to shrink the height of the filling.

To cook, I heated oil in a pan and when hot, added the pot stickers, cooking over medium high heat for two minutes. Then add 1/4 cup water, cover and reduce heat to medium for two to three minutes. Take the lid off and cook for two more minutes until the water has evaporated and the bottoms of the pot stickers are crispy. Remove to paper towel lined plate while you cook the next few batches the same way.

These are a lot of work, but oh they were so good.  If they freeze well (this will be an experiment) then I have a quick dinner for those days when I just can’t get it together. If they don’t freeze well, these will become a special weekend dish. Maybe I can get Bob to do the actual filling and sealing.


Jonc Blanc – White Blend, 2014

  • Basic info:Jonc Blanc, “Les sens du fruit” white blend, France, 2014 (sauvignon, semillon and sauvignon gris)
  • Type: white
  • Price estimate: $11 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Pale yellow in color with no noticeable legs when cold. Few legs noticeable as the wine warmed up.
  • Smell: wine, maybe a little citrus. very little aroma.
  • Taste: Apple, lime, pear and a slight mineral taste part way through. Good acid, but not overpowering. Medium finish with a touch of lemon on the end.
  • Conclusions: I liked this wine a lot and found it surprisingly easy to drink. I had to be careful with this one as it didn’t taste like it had a lot of alcohol and was very smooth. I liked the citrus taste in this one – lemon and lime that were just sweet enough.
  • Other notes: We had a merlot by this same producer that was great the first day we opened it, but a few days later, I could not drink the wine as it had turned. The white lasted much longer and I’m not sure if it was the specific bottle or if whites just last a few days longer after opening. I was hoping for more stone fruit in this white, but I still loved the wine. It had character and that is hard to find at this price point.
  • From the bottle: The bottle was in French, so I have no idea what it actually said, but the description from the store, “fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and since – really unique and lovely. Very complex fruit on the palate – pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.