While Charles was gone on his business trip last week, I decided to revamp his office a tad. Then I got the flu, so my time management went out the window. Before, the office was cluttered and gray. Now it's orange and simplified, at least as I'm writing this, it is. I used all of the same furniture, just moved them around a smidge to give the idea of more space. (It is a VERY small room.) Charles seems to like it. And let me tell you, he was incredibly surprised!
One of the things I thoroughly enjoy about the local produce season getting under way is the challenge of trying new things. Before Heaven and Earth Farm brought garlic scapes into the store last week, I had never heard of them, but typing the words into Google gave me a few ideas about how to cook up these bad boys. Specifically, this blog gave me a recipe that screamed to be made.
So I did. I don’t have a food processor, (someday, oh one beautiful someday, I shall!) but I do own a blender. The blender worked okay, but I ended up needing to put in about a tablespoon more olive oil to get it to mix together properly.
I tossed the pesto with some al dente fettuccine, sprinkled some extra parmesan on top, and WHAMO! Talk about a taste sensation – the intense flavors of garlic and greenness danced upon my taste buds in a very pleasing samba. We paired it with a Viognier from Pilot Peak Vineyard and Winery which was an extremely good call. The garlic amazingness brought out pear flavors in the wine that were lovely counterpoints.
My Charles pointed out that some sourdough bread with a little bit of butter would have been a nice addition to the meal, and I agree. We didn’t have any on-hand, but if we had, the meal would have gone from wowza to complete contentment. Even without the bread, it was fantastic.
I’ve been wanting to be more organized with my cooking lately. It’s easy to become haphazard in your meal preparation when you work at a grocery store. You finish work, clock out, wander onto the floor, and dazedly gaze at all of the foodstuffs surrounding you. What do you make for dinner? Why, that looks easy, and then off you go, spending too much money on your soon-to-be-made dinner.
What’s worse, at least for me, is that it’s my job to post daily recipes on Facebook for all of BriarPatch’s lovely fans, so all I have to do is take my own advice. How often do I actually end up doing that? About once a month.
I spend too much money on food, especially since I make 90% of our meals. It mostly comes down to convenience – it’s way too easy to pick up a simmer sauce, a bell pepper, and some chicken thighs, add some premade naan to the plate, and throw a fifteen minute meal together. Quick and tasty, yes. Affordable cooking at home, no.
In the spirit of thriftiness, and also getting into the habit for when our CSA starts in a couple of weeks, I’ve decided to make a week’s worth of meals ahead of time. On Sunday I prepared two dishes that I could stick in the freezer, cook, and then feed us leftovers for at least three days each. Mostly based around food we already had around the house, I put together a salmon casserole with sharp white cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, herbs de Provence, fresh black pepper, and two different types of leftover pasta; and a lasagna with spelt noodles, garlic tomato sauce, Italian chicken sausage, pesto, ricotta, and parmesan cheese. Charles was feeling like eating casserole yesterday, so that’s what I popped in the oven. Omega 3 comfort food – oh, yeah! Personally, I can’t wait until we polish off the casserole and move on to the lasagna. I’m really looking forward to the combination of the spelt noodles with the pesto and tomato sauces.
Usually, I try not to serve more than one pasta dish a week, but since I was trying to use ingredients we already had, this is what we got. It can be a bit challenging preparing meals with the types of things my grocery manager man brings home, but I always feel proud of myself when I accomplish a tasty dinner out of random samples. And my pocketbook loves it too.
There's something so rejuvenating about driving around the foothills on a sunny day, listening to good music, chatting with great people, eating yummy food, and drinking WINE.
Saturday, Charles and I did the Northern Sierra Wine Trail. It happens every year, but this year was a bit different than in years past. This year, we knew people. And we got to do one of the things that we thoroughly enjoy -- we got to talk about wine.
All that gabbing meant that we didn't make it to too many wineries -- only three to be exact. We started off at Montoliva Vineyard & Winery. There we picked up our glasses, had some of Mark Henry's always lovely wine offerings, and even got to try some of Mark's home brew. The man knows how to make a good beer. Besides getting to chat with Mark, which is always a fun time, my favorite experience at Motoliva was getting to barrel sample his 2008 Teroldego. I can't wait until this beauty, with its nose of wild roses and vanilla bean, is ready for the bottle!
Then we were off to Naggiar Vineyards & Winery. They were recently voted Best Winery in KCRA's A*list. Now, we've been fans a long time. I even wrote an article about them a couple of years ago. We tried every wine they offered for tasting during the Trail. We couldn't say no to any of them, they're just all so spectacular. Then Diane Naggiar discovered us and made sure we were fed. We were served a lovely pulled pork sandwich along with a plate of fresh fruit and another plate of fresh vegetables and paired that with their wow-factor Petite Sirah. After chatting with Mark Foster from Nevada City Winery and purchasing a bottle of wine, we were off to our last stop.
All of our great chit chat over the course of the day had really eaten into our five hours of Wine Trail. We wouldn't have had it any other way, and it meant that we got to end our afternoon at Pilot Peak Winery. Again, we tried every wine offered because how could we resist? We love it all so. Which meant that yes, we needed to eat some more food. Hooray! We were lucky enough to have their famous coleslaw and omg! tri-tip sandwiches. We paired our food with one of my favorites, their Cabernet Franc. After purchasing another couple bottles of wine, we drove home, full and contented and wishing it wasn't another year until our next Wine Trail.