February

The other day Bob and I did one of our favorite things – wine on the back patio. We had a nice glass with dinner, then finished them outside enjoying the warm weather. The pets joined us and I love the shot of Alinea on the table. You can’t see her very well, but I still love how it came out.

In the glass is a Gruner Veltliner that I love. We’ve also tried a Nebbiolo recently and while I generally really like Nebbiolo, I didn’t like this one. I tried to have it with food, but I just could not get past the Robitussin taste.

Pet pictures (’cause they are cute):

 

Star Wars Costume Exhibit

I am not a huge Star Wars fan. I like the movies, but I don’t think about the universe or small inconsistencies in the films or how this or that wouldn’t happen. I appreciate them for what they are, but Star Wars did not play a major role in my childhood – it didn’t define something in me as it did for other members of my generation. I didn’t love, but also didn’t hate the prequels (please, no hate mail) and I’ve enjoyed the new films as much for the story as the nostalgia. So when Bob said he wanted to see an exhibit on the making of the Star Wars costumes in St. Pete, I happily agreed.

I hate to admit it, but I needed more time at the exhibit. We ended up going later in the day and had about 45 minutes to get through the whole thing. This should have been enough as it was not a huge exhibit, but it wasn’t. I only took a few pictures since I wanted to make sure I saw everything but the few I took, I had a reason for.

IMG_20180102_162129.jpgThis sketch was of an early concept for Princess Leia. The ultimate costume was pretty different, but I love this dress – it reminded me of Erin’s wedding dress and there is something simple, yet incredibly beautiful about the drawing (and her dress). To me, that is hard to pull off and I would have loved to see that dress as a final costume. (If I missed it and it actually is in the movie somewhere, I goofed, but I thought the plaque said it was just an early idea for Leia.

IMG_20180102_163022.jpgThe costumes in the prequels are pretty much why I don’t hate the movies. I love the dressed and the design and the effect the costumes give the character and the worlds. One dress in particular made me drool so I was excited to see the dress in the exhibit. Natalie Portman had a number of amazing costumes in those movies, but this one, the regal dress is the one that really did it for me. I love how elaborate, yet how simple, it is and how the dress itself commands a level of respect. It’s hard to pull off, but this dress does.

And, of course, Yoda. The wise master who could easily have gone too far and been a silly character is just wonderful. The simple costume speaks volumes, but I really think it’s just Yoda that I love.

If I get back and see it again before the exhibit leaves in a few months, I may post an update, but for now, these will have to do.

Charisse – Picpoul, 2016

  • Basic info: Charisse, Picpoul de Pinet, France – Picpoul, 2016
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $17 (Weekly Tasting)
  • Look: Pale yellow with medium legs.
  • Smell: honeysuckle, citrus and lemon
  • Taste: Crisp and clean with some lemon. This one was hard to describe other than clean. Medium finish and tart.
  • Conclusions: Great drinking wine. Could not identify a lot of what the wine tasted like, but it was really enjoyable.
  • Other notes: I was curious about this wine and I really did enjoy it. It was light and crips and very clean tasting, but there was some complexity there.
  • From the bottle:¬†No bottle notes, but from Weekly Tasting, “Straw color with green apple, pear and an herb butter note, this is a wine with personality!” 12.5% alcohol by volume.

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French-Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Every now and then I want real comfort food. Food that is hearty and goo-y and a bit salty. I was in that mood the other day and came decided to make grilled cheese. But me being me, decided to make it french-onion soup grilled cheese.

A while back I made a batch of French-onion soup (vegetarian, of course) and removed some of the soup before adding all of the liquid. I froze it thinking I could defrost it, add more water or broth and have soup another day. Instead, I heated it up, boiled off more of the liquid and made grilled cheese.

This really was pretty perfect for me. Slices of Gruyere cheese topped half a hoagie roll. Very condensed onion soup on top of that and a little more Gruyere cheese and a  touch of pecorino completed the sandwich. I broiled these for a few minutes to make sure everything was melty and goo-y.

Yes, those are two different sandwiches. The first one (on the foil) came apart when I pulled it up because the cheese melted onto the bread and foil so it was a total mess. I just took a picture of the sandwich I made the next day (same ingredients) before moving it to the plate.

Caesar-ish Salad

I love Caesar salad. Love it, but can’t eat it about 99% of the time. Most Caesar salads have anchovy in the dressing, and some have it in the salad itself. Even when I’ve asked if there is anchovy or anchovy paste in the dressing at a restaurant, and they say no, it generally does and I figure that out about five to twenty minutes after the first bite. Given this, I haven’t ordered a Caesar salad, or even had a Caesar salad in years.

But … oh thank you internet … I found a vegan caesar salad dressing  on food.com (my computer is giving me problems, so I can’t link to the actual page – just search vegan caesar salad in the website and it will come up) that was pretty perfect. I’m not vegan, so I used regular parmesan cheese (or pecorino if I have that on hand), cashews instead of almonds and mixed pepper, but otherwise, kept it pretty true to the original. I think mine might also have been a little thicker than the recipe as I didn’t measure the cashews and just tossed in a handful of nuts, but Bob said it was the best Caesar salad he has had, with the possible exception of one restaurant. He also asked me to make a batch of it, and he happily ate mashed chickpea sandwiches with the dressing on them, so I’m calling this one a definite win. (Next time I make mashed chickpea sandwiches, I will definitely post it.) Mom even tried the recipe and both she and dad liked it, so again, a win.

Even my salad isn’t traditional Caesar. Maybe I should call this an Augustus Salad. But anyway, this is my new addiction and will feature heavily in my school lunches next year.

  • Caesar-ish Salad:
  • 1 head red lead lettuce
  • <1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (for salad)
  • olive oil for croutons
  • old bread for croutons
  • salt
  • 1 handful cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 gloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (for dressing) 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • pinch of pepper

Into a food processor or blender put nuts, water, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, soy sauce, olive oil, mustard, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Take day or multi-day old bread and toss with about a tablespoon olive oil and salt. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 4-7 minutes and the bread starts to turn golden. Set aside to cool or use immediately.

Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces and split between two plates. Add grated parmesan cheese and croutons. Pour dressing over salad – about 3 tablespoons per person (although both Bob and I may have added a bit more).

 

The other side

At the beginning of this month I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end of the month without going nuts. I worked every weekend this month and long days during the week. I managed to start my internship during one of the busiest times of the school year and we had Leia to deal with in the middle of everything. Thankfully Bob has been absolutely fantastic and understanding about how draining this month has been and I did manage to make it out the other side with my sanity relatively intact.

I will admit, the wine helped. A glass (or two) with dinner or on the back patio after a trying day is great for regrouping and getting thoughts together. The furry boys have also helped. Tigger is still a little unsettled and he is hanging around me more than he did before, but he is also getting along with Arthas really well. They seem to have an understanding, although exactly what that is I’m not sure.

Arthas … well, he is really a good boy. He tries to be good and to listen, and he mostly does. He is still a puppy (he’s two) so he has some maturing to do, but in general, he’s a happy boy. He has also decided that he gets a chair outside when we hang out on the patio. Like most dogs, he thinks he is part human.

What a decade brings

This month is was ten years that I have had the kittens. Ten years since I lost Patches and created a whole new family with three little furry creatures to help the big furry creature get back to her normal self. Ten years since I went from a normal-ish person to the crazy cat lady and back to relatively normal. So what did the last decade bring? Well …

  • I lost Patches at 21 years old. That’s a long time to have a cat.
  • I adopted the three kittens and brought them home.
  • Bob and I started dating.
  • I sold my house in Jersey.
  • Bob and I bought a house.
  • Jessie, the kittens and I moved to Florida.
  • I found a temporary job.
  • I found a permanent job.
  • Bob and I got engaged and married (4 months – I can count that as one).
  • I quit my job and found another job.
  • I started grad school.
  • We lost Jessie (I still miss that little girl).
  • We adopted Arthas (he is awesome and I love him, but it was not an easy few months).
  • We lost Gracie (just picture tears. Still).
  • Leia and Arthas started getting along (thank heavens).

In these same ten years we have also visited five countries (or six if you count Scotland and England as separate countries and not as the “UK”), eight U.S. states, and multiple U.S. cities (I tried to count and just ended up forgetting some so … multiple). We have gone from eating almost everything to trying almost no grains to going mostly vegetarian. Friends and family have had children and we have seen them start school and develop personalities completely independent of their parents (probably the coolest part of interacting with other people’s children, but has to be scary as anything for the parents).

So yeah. Ten years ago this month four precious kitties found a home. (Erin also adopted a cat when I got the kittens, but she was sensible and stopped at one. And I have to admit, there was something about Rosie that everyone just had to love.) Two of them are gone, and the hole they left will be felt for a long time. But two remain, and they are still as lovable as ever. I don’t regret a second of it, but I am fairly certain I’m not adopting three cats at one time again.