Bombina – Red Blend, NV

  • Basic info: Bombina, Red Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon & Sangiovese), Puglia Italy, No vintage
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $15 (local wine store)
  • Look: deep red with no noticeable legs
  • Smell: dark fruit, cherry
  • Taste: fruit. very smooth. nice acidity, but not too much.
  • Conclusions: This is a good drinking wine, but it isn’t memorable. I could not discern too many specific tastes or smells in this wine, but it was a nice wine.
  • Other notes: I almost didn’t post this wine, since I didn’t have much to say about it, but I decided this is part of the experience. I need to remember the only ok wines, and the wines I really don’t like, as well as the good ones. I also think I have a good baseline now and it may be time to start playing with smells and tastes, and take a look at what I’ve learned so far.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes. 12.5% alcohol by volume.

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Pupsicles!

It has been just over a year since we got Arthas. We thought about getting him some puppy ice-cream for his anniversary date, but when I looked at the ingredients, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. After a little thought I decided to make my own “puppy ice cream” but make them more popsicle like. The shelter had used frozen chicken broth with milk bones in them for treats, so we did a play on this concept.

IMG_20170807_111004Basic, cheap ice-cube trays from the dollar store were perfect for portioning out the treats. I found a recipe on-line and modified it just a little. Erin was super helpful and very encouraging (I am way more creative when she is around) so we just got a few ingredients and made pupsicles.

These are stupidly simple to make. Yogurt, honey, peanut butter and a banana. Mix then portion into the ice-cube tray and add a milk bone in the center as a stick/handle. They froze in about two hours, although we did keep them in the tray a little longer to solidify more. Except for the milk bone, these are all human ingredients so technically you could eat them too.

Recipe:

  • 16 oz. plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • small Milk bone dog biscuits

Mash the banana with a fork in a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Portion out into ice-cube trays and add the milk bone biscuit in the center for a handle. Freeze.

Arthas loved these. Small snack for him, but perfect for these really hot days.

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Spicy tofu, sweet potato and pepper

There is a joy in a simple to make, less than an hour start-to-finish delicious meal. There is something even better about such a meal that is also colorful and tasty.

I was searching for something easy to make, that didn’t require a lot of heavy pots or constant stirring and came across a really interesting recipe from Cookie and Kate. I loved the idea of this, but wanted to make sure it would be filling enough as a main dish, especially since I needed to use less pepper as Bob is not a fan of them and I only had one sweet potato on hand. So with this as my starting point, I experimented a bit and came up with quite a tasty dish. And Bob even said he did not mind the peppers. Bonus points for me.

Recipe:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 block tofu
  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • nut butter of choice – about 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • hot water to thin – about 3 tablespoons
  • oil for coating and frying
  • ground cumin
  • 2 scallions
  • cilantro leaves
  • peanuts (dry roasted, unsalted)
  • salt

Cook rice according to package directions. Should be about 1 cup water to 1/2 cup rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Take of heat and let sit, covered, for about ten minutes.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut sweet potato into 1/3 – 1/2 inch half moons or cubes. Chop peppers into large chunks, about 3/4 – 1 inch pieces. Coat in oil and spread on baking sheet, keeping separate. Sprinkle all with salt, and sprinkle some cumin on the sweet potato. Roast for about 25 minutes – the potato and peppers should be soft but not burned. If your oven is anything like mine, stir half way through to prevent burning the bottoms of the potatoes before they are cooked.

Press tofu to remove as much water as possible and cut into chunks. For crispy tofu, coat in corn starch, for less crispy tofu, leave uncoated. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium high heat and add tofu. Let cook about 4 minutes before flipping. If the bottoms are not browned, let cook another 1-2 minutes. Cook second side until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.

To make the sauce, add nut butter (I used a combination of almond and peanut as I didn’t have enough of either) to a bowl. Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar and honey. Mix well and add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until creamy and sauce is thinning enough to pour. It should be similar to a dressing consistency, but not a vinaigrette.

Chop scallions, cilantro and peanuts.

Layer rice on a plate, then top with potatoes and pepper then tofu. Spoon dressing, about three tablespoons, over top and garnish with scallions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve hot.

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Domaine de la Roche Bleue – Chenin Blanc, 2015

  • Basic info: Domaine de la Roche Bleue “Jasnieres” Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France, 2015
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $19
  • Look: light straw color, some legs, but not many when chilled.
  • Smell: honeysuckle, lemon and melon
  • Taste: Lemon, salty. Crisp and clean, but with a little brine. Medium finish.
  • Conclusions: Good wine. Easy to drink and great on a hot day. Not something I will seek out again, but it was definitely a good wine.
  • Other notes:
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, ” The Roche Bleue 2015 Jasnieres shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate reveals almond, pear, stone and chalky minerals that continue in the ver long, tart, very mineral finish.” 12% alcohol by volume.

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Shebang Wines – Red Blend, No Vintage

  • Basic info: Shebang Wines, “The Whole Shebang” red wine blend from Sonoma, California
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $15 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Dark plum, opaque with good legs
  • Smell: plum, cherry, deep dark fruit.
  • Taste: Cherry, blackberry, ripe plum, dark fruit and chocolate on the back end. Long finish.
  • Conclusions: Fantastic wine and one that tics all the boxes for both Bob and I. It is rare that we both find a wine we really love, but this zinfandel blend is doing the trick. It is higher alcohol content than either of us guessed because we didn’t taste any alcohol and we didn’t feel anything in the back of our throats (sure sign of high alcohol). We had this with our cheese box last month and we were both super happy with the wine.
  • Other notes: I love zinfandels and I love the dark fruit taste of them and this wine is 55% zinfandel, so I was pretty sure I would like it. I wasn’t prepared to love it, especially not at $15 a bottle. We liked this wine so much we ordered more of it the next day. I don’t usually do that, and we have only ever decided a wine was that good that we needed to make sure we stocked away a few bottles twice. Because the wine is high alcohol, I can only do a glass of it, but I savored my glass and drank slowly because I wanted it to last. This is really an incredible wine.
  • From the bottle: No tasting notes from the bottle, but from Chamber Street, “55% Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics from old vine plantings (up to 100 years old) around Sonoma County, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel and raised in a nice bit of French oak for a bold, bright-fruited, silky, and satisfying wine that is unbeatable at this price.” 14.2% alcohol by volume.

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