Sunday, January 27, 2008

Books I want to read

Last night I finished "Eat, Pray, Love," which I really liked. It's about a woman who travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a journey to understand herself. I read so many self-help books that I could really understand this need!

Anyway, this means I will choose another book from my long list to read next. I have a stack of books that I bought thinking I would read immediately, but they are still waiting on the book shelf. I also keep an ongoing list in my cart on Amazon. Sometimes I even buy them and add them to the shelf! These are some of the titles I am considering:

1. One Year to an Organized Life
2. Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone
3. Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cooking
4. A Demon of Own Design
5. Four Blondes
6. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

If you've read any of these and have advice about which would be the best bet, let me know!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm coming into port!

I noticed that several of the Texas wineries make nice Ports and I'm not sure many people notice them. I discovered Port when I took a chocolate and port pairing class with Mary Cech (The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook). What a class! But that's another story...

Anyway, pears and port make a fast, sophisticated dessert when you want to treat yourself or someone special. My favorite recipe comes from Bon Appetit:
1/4 c. lemon juice
8 large, firm but ripe pears
4 c. ruby port
2 c. sugar
15 1/8"slices ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split

Add lemon juice to bowl of cold water. Peel pears, leaving stems and remove core with melon baller through the bottom. Add pears to bowl of water.

Bring port, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, & vanilla bean to boil in heavy Dutch oven over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer syrup 10 minutes.

Drain pears & add to syrup. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pears & stand them upright. Boil syrup until reduced to 1-1/4 c. Pour over pears & chill. Got a little extra time? Serve with gingerbread and whipped cream!

Quick Version (from French Women Don't Get Fat).........
Bring 2 c. port & 1/2 c. sugar to a boil. Lower heat & simmer 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp lemon jiuce and 4 pears (peeled, cored, halved) Cook 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Cool & refrigerate. Ice cream?

Even if you don't drink port this is a great way to try those Texas ports!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shoe sale!!

Time out from the wine discussion for a shoe sale! Karavel Shoes on Burnet Road is having a clearance sale in the discount store next to the main store. The discount store has shoes from last season that didn't sell in the main store. They are usually half price but this past Thurs-Sat they were reduced 75-80 %. And they are thinking about doing it again next Thurs- Sat. Check the paper or call (they are only open Thurs-Sat).

Prices range from $19.99 to $49.99 for shoes that retail for up to $260. I bought a pair of Italian sandals that retail for $255 for $49 and a pair of French comfort sandals that retail for $260 for $49. The Euro makes it almost impossible to buy these retail.

By the way, the French shoe is Arche. Comfort shoes with some style! They also carry lots of Soft, another great comfort shoe with style and most are $19 now.

Back to wine next week!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Save $1! Here's the blue cheese dip recipe

My sister bought the blue cheese dip recipe and shared it with me. She said she used a different kind of blue cheese and it came out stronger. I haven't tried it myself but I'll try to find the brand mentioned just in case.....

Pillar Bluff's Infamous Blue Cheese Dip

1 4-oz brick of blue cheese (i.e. Treasure Cave)
4-5 TBSPs olive oil
3-6 tsps dipping spices (I.e. Alessi)
cracked black pepper

Use a fork to mash the blue cheese while adding olive oil one tablespoon at a time. Add dipping spices to taste, and cracked black pepper, and mix into the cheese dip. Or, put all ingredients into a food processor and blend. For a creamier texture, add more olive oil.

Tip: For a taste sensation, use this dip as a topping to a grilled sirloin or venison burger. Or add to a baked potato or warm French bread. This tangy addition is an excellent compliment to our Pillar Bluff Boar Doe, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot wine.

Tonight I learned how important it is to pair food with wine. I bought a bottle of Provencal at Becker Vineyards and it was good but not memorable. Well I had sushi tonight and saw that open bottle in the frig and thought I might as well try it with the sushi. Wow! What a difference. I loved it. Had two big glasses and had to take a nap!