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Friday, February 14, 2014

Costco wine blog
Costco fans know that it's a good place to shop for food, office supplies, electronics, etc. etc. but it's also a very good place to fine some great wine treasures at great prices.

Our daughter who lives in Germany mentioned a new inexpensive wine she and our son-in-law recently discovered, and in my search for it I stumbled on this Costco wine blog which I've added to my blog list. I noted some of the recommendations and will see if our local Costco has them. He mentioned a Vila Antonori which we discovered years ago in a restaurant in Tusacany and we were happy to see it at Costco in recent years.

My plan for dinner is my Mexican inspired chicken, onion, tomato, serrano chili saute with margaritas. I don't use a recipe for this, just saute some one or two sliced onion in a bit of olive oil, then add a few sliced serrano chiles and  2 large cloves of garlic chopped. Saute about a minute to release the aroma of the garlic, but don't allow any browning. Then add 3 of the  4-5 or more chopped tomatoes I use, depending on how many I'm cooking for. I cook  on low/medium about 5-10 minutes or till the tomatoes start breaking down.  Then I add about a pound of boneless chicken breasts cut into about 1" pieces (I allow about 1/2 lb of the boneless chick per person), salt, pepper and some oregano. When I add the chicken, I also add the one or two reserved diced tomatoes. Saute till chicken is done which only take another couple of minutes. You can taste for heat before you add the chicken and if not hot enough you can add a bit more of the serrano chiles. This is a delicious dish, but you'll have to make it according to your own taste level with the seasonings and the heat. If I have to err, I err on the side of adding more tomatoes because they just add to the lovely, spicy sauce.

I serve this with re-fried beans topped with melted cheese, and of course margaritas. If I have company, I also serve corn tortillas with it, otherwise we skip the extra calories.

I've already started some of my seedlings and the broccoli, escarole and cauliflower and cabbage (I think) are up. The peas have sprouted on damp hand towel paper so I need to get out and plant them today. It's been raining on and off for days now, so it's going to be tricky to find an opportunity to get those planted in my raised beds. This was a small test batch, so I might just put them in a couple of seedling pots if the weather doesn't cooperate.

I ordered a new Earth Box planter for this season. They work really well and are help extend my vegetable gardening since our back yard is mainly containers and a couple of 4X8 foot, 2 foot deep raised beds I had constructed last year. The first year I had two eggplants in one and last year did  hot pepper plants. Everything did great. I think this year I'll plant bell and frying peppers in one and maybe  Eggplant and serrano chiles in the other.

My summer square foot gardening plan is done and now I just have to wait for some good weather to get out there and prep my beds. I checked them out several days ago and garlic is up, chives are coming up and even potted tulips nearby are up several inches. I'm going to have to do a major cleanup of all my potted plants. With the unusual, below zero temperatures we had over a month ago, I suspect we lost a lot of our perennials. I'll be better able to assess it all in another month.

With all the cancer causing GMO foods on the market we are eating mainly organic and I'm trying to grow as much of our spring, summer and fall veggies at home. Our son and daughter in law have a 9 large raised beds and some in ground garden space at their ranch and I will be able to do some planting there. I'll probably plant most of my potatoes, squash, fava beans, late heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, and whatever extra seedlings of everything else there.

Their ranch is right on the Rogue River, so I never mind driving over there, letting our dog Bodhi visit his furry cousins and get a good run; and if I want I can always cast a few after some garden time. It's a great fishing spot and beautiful on the eyes as well.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Foods and Wines of Spain

The other day I ordered a couple of Spanish cookbooks after watching an Anthony Bourdain show on Spain; and I'm so glad I did. It probably wasn't a good idea to watch Anthony Bourdain before breakfast, because I wound up ordering 4 cookbooks. The Spanish Table was the other Spanish cookbook I ordered as well as a vegetarian one "Fresh and Fast Vegetarian" and "Provence the Beautiful". 

We've been adding more fish and vegetarian meals and the Provence cookbook looks like it may have some nice vegetable and fish dishes, since that is pretty much the main diet in that part of France due to the very rocky terrain not being great for grazing.

Yesterday afternoon I was browsing the Penelope Casas book "The Foods and Wines of Spain" and I can't wait to try some of these recipes. The tapas section looks wonderful and there are some really nice and easy recipes there. I'm thinking I should plan a night of Tapas for dinner. Jim loves appetizers, so this would work for him.

We have a lovely Spanish Rioja that we found at Costco. It has around a 90 rating is pretty inexpensive, so I think we're set for a Tapas night. Jim wasn't up for Riojas but indulged me, liked it, and went back to Costco to buy a few more bottles.

One of the recipes I would like to try calls for Bacalao (salted cod); so I've been looking on the Internet for a quality source to the make one of the bacalao recipes in this book. So far, no luck; but I'll keep searching.
I checked but the reviews weren't great for most of what is for sale there, so I might have to search out some Italian specialty stores. Unfortunately we don't have an Italian grocery stores in Southern Oregon.

I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y in an Italian neighborhood and remember seeing this dried, salted cod in the local fish market; but never ate it. My family wasn't Italian so my mothers Italian repertoire consisted of spaghetti and meatballs or meat sauce and lasagna, which our Italian upstairs neighbor Delia, taught her to make. She probably never would have thought of asking for a fish recipe since my dad loved to do deep sea fishing and was always bringing home fish, which he rarely ate. He loved crab and lobster but that was the only thing from the sea that he wanted to see on his plate. So it was my job to give a lot of the fish to the nuns at my school who were always thrilled to get fresh fish.

Tuesday  I decided to try a batter fried chicken recipe. The meat was lovely but I wasn't thrilled with the recipe which called for a buttermilk brine, then double flour dipping before dipping in the batter. I think the double flour thing was what didn't work. In any case, I have plenty of leftovers for tonight, so dinner is going to be just a matter of reheating the chicken and mashed potatoes and corn. I'll try batter fried chicken again, but use a Bobbie Flay or other recipe. After the very messy after dinner cleanup, Colonel Sanders was sounding pretty good for a while! LOL