Black Magnolia

  • Producer: Real Nice Winemakers
  • Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Year: 2016
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Price estimate: $22
  • Tasting notes: Garnet in color and semi-translucent. Smells of strawberry, bramble and baking spice. Taste was great – cherry, strawberry, black fruits and a little vanilla. Very smooth and a really beautiful finish.
  • Conclusions: Fantastic wine. Loved drinking this – maybe a little too much. It has a lot of character without being fussy.
  • Notes: We got this in one of our wine club shipments and after drinking it and thinking about it for a week, I ordered three more bottles from the winery. Yes, it really was that good. It was one of those wines that holds my interest, but didn’t make me feel like I needed to study it and concentrate on the wine. It was just nice to drink. Bonus, we also ordered a rose from the same winery that, upon opening, was also great. Not the Lulu Rose great (my standard for amazing rose these days) but really good.



“Right Proper” Tofu and Brussels Sprouts

A few weeks ago Bob and I did our annual DC trip. We had an amazing meal at the Fancy Radish, a completely vegan restaurant. I honestly can’t say enough about that meal, but this post isn’t about that – although I’m pretty much betting we end up back there next year because it was so good.

This post is about a dish we shared at another restaurant, the Right Proper Brewing Company. While most of the meal was good, the Brussels Sprouts from the appetizer list was just fantastic. When we were done eating, I had really, really wished I had the sprouts all to myself for dinner.

So what does any self-respecting home cook do when faced with a fantastic dish that you know you can’t get again for a while (that is possible to make – I am not attempting the Fancy Radish dishes …. they were a little too different than what is in my repertoire to really attempt)? You make you own version.

Because this was a lunch dish, I wanted more than just the Brussels Sprouts, I wanted some tofu and rice too. I figured this would increase the protein and the full feeling factor. I didn’t have a recipe for any of this … I just went with what I had on hand, a little knowledge from having made pieces of this in different forms before and a bit of tasting along the way.


  • Brussels Sprouts (I think I had 10 oz)
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2/3-3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbs. ginger (puree from the refrigerator section of the grocery)
  • 2-3 Tbs. chili garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbs.  rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. corn starch
  • salt and pepper
  • oil – I used a combination of olive oil and sesame oil
  • Scallions (optional)
  • Dry roasted peanuts (optional)

Brussels Sprouts:

Pre-heat oven to 400. Wash, dry, and trim the Brussels Sprouts. Cut in half and toss with about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes tossing half way through. You want the sprouts crispy and slightly charred, but not burnt.


Cut tofu into cubes of desired size. Lay flat on a cutting board lined with a paper towel. Layer another paper towel on top and press down. Let sit for a few minutes while you make the sauce.

Transfer the tofu to a bowl or a zip top bag and add 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Toss to coat.

Heat oil in a frying pan (I used half olive and half sesame for a bit of extra flavor but you can use whatever you like). When oil is hot, add coated tofu to the pan. Spread out and let cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom is crisp and lightly browned/golden in color. Turn and toss to ensure the oil is evenly distributed. Cook about 3-5 minutes, until the second side is golden in color.

Thai Peanut Sauce:

Combine soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar and maple syrup. Mix well and taste. Adjust amounts as needed – more soy for more salt, maple syrup for sweetness, peanut butter to cut the salt, chili garlic for more heat. You could also thin it more with warm water, but I like a thicker sauce.

To Plate:

IMG_20181216_115836Spoon rice onto the plate. Top with Brussels Sprouts and tofu. Drizzle sauce (be generous – this dish is really about the sauce) over everything. Top with chopped peanuts and scallions if desired.

IMG_20181216_121220The best part of this – leftovers!


Longboard Merlot

  • Producer: Longboard Winery
  • Location: Sonoma, California
  • Year: 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $35
  • Tasting notes: Opaque prune color with a tint of brown at the edges. Nose has notes of leather, metal and compost. (Yes, it was not my favorite smelling wine). Taste of herbs and cherry with a note of fresh tobacco. Medium long finish.
  • Conclusions: Not bad, but also not my favorite. Think it needs another year or two before it will be fantastic.
  • Notes: I love a good Merlot and given all of the other wine we’ve had from this winery, I was very excited. Mildly disappointed, but I really do think a year or so will help and it has the potential to be a fantastic wine. The depth is there but it’s still hiding.



Keetna’s Blanket (with an ode to Rosie)

There are only a few times when I get super excited about something I’ve made, be it a paper/project for school or work, a meal or a knitting project, but this was one of those times. After knitting Bob’s scarf and a cat blanket or two for home, I decided to make one for Keet – Ed & Erin’s cat. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do, but I started with black yarn and a cat pattern in honor of Rosie – the cat they adopted at the same time I adopted the original three kittens. After thinking (and knitting) a bit, I decided to change up my original plan, and I think it came out pretty great.

Each of the four corners are grey paw prints, and all the other squares are a cat pattern. I knitted each column together so I only had to join the column together. Unfortunately, I miscalculated and knitted one middle square too large (added probably 2 rows), so I had to figure out how to separate it from the square above (remember they were knitted together), then remove the two rows and stitch it back together before joining it to the rest of the blanket. I’m not sure how I pulled it off, but I did and the result was pretty good.

I finished this a before Thanksgiving, but I wanted to wait to post it until I gave it to Ed and Erin (and Keet). It definitely kept me busy for a bit, but I like how it turned out and it gave me a little more confidence – so much so that I’m now knitting a blanket for the spare room. This may take a few months, but I’m pretty sure I can do it.


Mini Pot Pies

If you know me – or have read this blog for a while – you probably know I have a minor obsession with savory pies. I love the flaky crust that surrounds an entire meal, but making them can be a bit of a pain. However, after Thanksgiving, I took some leftover chicken and made mini chicken pot pies for Bob and some friends, and little vegetarian versions for myself. I was very happy with my savory pie – and all the chicken ones were eaten, so I’m assuming they were good. (Bob says they were so I’ll go with it.)

IMG_20181123_141645I started with the vegetables for the pies – essentially I made the same filling except I added chicken to the mix after I took out some of the filling for my pies. Onion, carrot, celery and garlic made the base, liberally seasoned with salt and pepper. Once cooked a bit, I added vegetable broth and then some heavy cream and parmesan cheese. That was it. The dough was  basic pie dough, rolled thin and everything was baked in muffin tins. They came out pretty too.

I loved my pie. A touch salty, a touch creamy and filled with vegetables. the crust really made it all come together.

It’s been a bit since I made these, but I think the recipe is right. Taste along the way and you will be fine.


  • Basic pie dough
  • Leftover cooked chicken (about 1 cup if using)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 handful parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for pan

Pre-heat oven to 375. Grease muffin tins.

Chop Carrot, onion, celery and garlic to desired size (I like rough chopped for a rustic feel). Heat a tablespoon of oil in a hot pan and then add vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the vegetable broth and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for another 10 minutes. The broth should be mostly absorbed.

Add chicken if using, otherwise, skip. Add cream and combine. Reduce heat a little and cook until the cream begins to thicken just a little then remove from heat and add the cheese. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

While the filling is cooking, roll out the pie dough very thin. cut into circles to line the tins, and leave enough dough to form a top crust.

Fill the lined tins with filling, then cover with another circle of dough. Bake about 35 minutes until the dough is flakey and a little browned. Remove from tins and enjoy hot or room temperature.