Monthly Archives: May 2012

Wine Bottling 101

Thanks to new friends we met on the Western Slope last weekend, we were invited to experience a wine blending/bottling party and to help with the process. It was so fun and I learned so much! (Blend #3 is going to be phenomenal!)

bottlingWine

Here’s a video showing the corking process.

Colorado’s Wine Country

I had already been itching to get to our Western Slope, Colorado’s fruit basket and home to our quickly growing wine industry. A quick check on Denver’s upcoming weekend forecast was all the arm-twisting that it took.

denverForecast palisadeForecast

The drive along I-70 is gorgeous. Some of my favorite sections are when you see the first 14-ers in Evergreen, going through Vail,

vailCO

and (of course!) Glenwood Canyon. We chose to stay at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade as opposed to our usual Grand Junction. As per our reservation package, they had a lovely snack and a bottle of wine waiting for us. The wine was made from grapes that had grown less than 100 yards from our window.

wine

Saturday morning, we woke to a breath-taking view over vineyards and mesas. While waiting for our Palisade Pedicab, we took a walk around the hotel and grounds.

porch wineCountryInn lobby babyGrapes strolling sam

The pedicab is a GREAT DEAL! For $135, Shawn will take you to various vineyards, lunch spots, and will point out local flora and historical interests. I was most impressed with the service that both Palisade Pedicab and the Wine Country Inn provided.

sam

It was a lovely, relaxing weekend getaway…perfect for two city dwellers/workers desperately in need of some R&R!

 

Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi with Spinach and Basil Pesto

gnocchiYet another modified recipe from the March 2012 issue of Southern Living (I swear, I do read more magazines than this one!), this has quickly become a spring-time favorite. I modified it a bit to make it a quick, weekday supper for two.

Ingredients:

  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 pack of mini bell peppers in red, orange, & yellow
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 package of gnocchi (we like the Garlic & Basil Gnocchi from Rising Moon Organics; sold in Whole Foods’ freezer section)
  • 2 T Basil Pesto
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut squash and bell peppers into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a cast iron skillet. Roast for 15 minutes.
  2. Wash the spinach leaves and arrange them on the bottom of a large pasta bowl.
  3. Cook gnocchi according to instructions. Basically, I bring the water to a boil, add the gnocchi, turn the heat down to medium-high, and stand over the pot with a slotted spoon. As soon as they float, they are ready to come out. I let them drain for a few seconds, then place them directly on the raw spinach to blanch it just a tad.
  4. Once all the gnocchi is out of the pot, your veggies are likely ready to come out of the oven. Empty the skillet, veggies and oil, into the pasta bowl. Toss. This will further cook the spinach just a bit.
  5. Add the basic pesto and parmesan cheese. Toss. Serve immediately.
plate

(Top image, courtesy of MyRecipes.com. Bottom image, my own.)

Olli Salumeria

I love shopping at my local Whole Foods in Denver. The associates are always incredibly friendly, knowledgable, and helpful. I have especially gleaned so much information from the fromager, a wonderful woman who always seems to know exactly what I’m looking for.

This weekend, I was shopping for the ingredients for this Marinated Greek-Style Pasta in the March issue of Southern Living. I wanted a high-quality, slow-cured salami, but the varieties in the cooler didn’t seem quite right. The fromager directed me to the Calabrese, a slightly spicy salami with Sangiovese wine by Olli Salumeria out of Virginia.

calabrese

(Image from Olli Salumeria)

One bite of this delicacy this evening told me that, once again, she knew her stuff! Our pasta dish was absolutely delightful.

greekPasta

Picnic Basket Make-over with Chalkboard Paint

I had long been on the hunt for a plain, 0ld-fashioned picnic basket. I didn’t want one with utensils and dinnerware included. Nor did I want one with straps and pockets on the inside.

My mother found exactly what I was looking for at the annual Peaches to the Beaches yard sale/flea market in Georgia. (Thank you, Mom!!)

picnic basket

While the bones of the basket were perfect, the lid was in dire need of some TLC and updating. I brainstormed for nearly a month on what to paint on the lid. Lattice work? A monogram? Seashells? So many choices!

This afternoon, inspiration struck and I decided to go with an option that would allow me to change the design depending on moods, seasons, or occasions. The first stop was Home Depot, where I spent under $20 on brushes and quart of chalkboard paint tinted in “Latte.”

paint paint colors

The second stop was Target where I spent $5 on a set of 60 sidewalk chalks.

chalk

Add a couple of layers of paint…

basket

…and now I have a cute picnic basket that I can customize on a whim! (Pardon the dark pictures; today was overcast.)

spring summer birthday

Fashion Gets a Health Make-over

I was thrilled this week when I read that all 19 international editions of Vogue will no longer hire under-16 or obviously unhealthy models. While I think there is still room for growth in this industry (no pun intended), it’s a nice start. Kudos to Vogue for paving the way!

I’d like to continue this trend by proposing a new name for the item I am most wanting for this fall’s fashion queue: Smoking Slippers. While the smoking slipper has a romantic, Old-World-glamour history, I think it’s time we renamed it to reflect modern habits and sensibilities. Much in the same vein, the Cigarette Pant has been renamed in recent years to skinnies, stove-pipes, and (my favorite) Golightly pants.

So…here are a few of my ideas, but I’d love to hear yours!

slipper

Old Name: Smoking slippers. 

New Names: Wine-Sipping slippers (emphasis on “sipping“), Dress slippers, Office slippers, Friday slippers.

Other ideas? Please comment below.

(Image from Lulu’s)

Papa Ross’ Mint Juleps

barDerby Day is always a little bittersweet for me, as the last conversation I ever had with my Grandfather Ross involved his giving me his mint julep recipe. I do like that it gives me an annual reason to toast him, however!

Ingredients:

  • the smoothest Kentucky bourbon you can find (I prefer Blanton’s)
  • fresh mint leaves
  • sugar
  • water
  • crushed ice
  1. Boil a desired amount of sugar into a pot of water, then cool in the refrigerator. (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so my sugar water is rather weak.)
  2. Crush half of the mint leaves and rub them in the inside of the glass (which is preferably a sterling julep cup). Discard the leaves.
  3. Combine the sugar water and bourbon to taste over crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Wishing everyone a safe and joyful Derby Day!