Thursday, March 31, 2011


The food/wine pairings "widget" in the upper right side of my blog is pretty comprehensive but following is another little "cheat sheet" to help you pair foods with wine.  Of course, for reasons too numerous to list, there are no hard and fast rules for these pairings.

Anise - Cabernet Sauvignon
Basil - Zinfandel
Chive - Pinot Grigio
Cinnamon - Riesling
Dill - Sauvignon Blanc
Garlic - Sauvignon Blanc
Ginger - Pinot Noir
Nutmeg - Riesling
Oregano - Merlot
Parsley - Cabernet Sauvignon
Black Pepper - Merlot
Rosemary - Sauvignon Blanc
Sage - Chardonnay
Tarragon - Pinot Noir
Thyme - Pinot Grigio
White Pepper - Syrah

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It appears that many of us have very different images of ourselves than may be the case. Are we too fat? Are we in good shape? We tend to believe that we are "just right" or "just need to lose a few pounds". There are ways to get at the truth, though, with our wonderful WWW! Check out to find out how you are really doing. It takes about 15 minutes to work through the quiz but the resultant suggestions are excellent.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Awhile ago I mentioned my new "Encyclopedia of Kitchen Secrets" and suggested that readers post inquiries. Yeaaa... we got one!

"I have a question/challenge for your Encyclopedia. Is there a rule of thumb for storing baked goods? I know that you have suggested metal tins for cookies. But, for some reason, I still seem to goof this up! My baked goods either become soggy or dried out."

Excellent question! I checked the Encyclopedia and found a detailed section on freezing baked goods. It categorizes baked goods (e.g. bread, doughnuts, coffee cake, etc.) then discusses for that particular category (e.g. muffins) how they should be frozen. That's a start. Here are my very general thoughts on the subject.

Freezing works very well when goods are tightly wrapped, first in waxed paper, then in aluminum foil and, finally, in a zip-lock plastic freezer bag. Package to eliminate as much air as possible.

Store cookies in tins. Line the tins with waxed paper, then layer cookies to minimize breakage. For that fresh out of the oven texture, microwave for a few seconds. Alternatively, freeze the cookie dough in balls. Later, defrost a dozen or so and bake per the recipe instructions.

Store cake in the refrigerator in a covered cake plate. Cut pieces and bring to room temperature before eating (if you can wait that long!).

Store pastries in waxed paper in the refrigerator. To eat, remove pastry to a plate and microwave for a few seconds to add back lost moisture.

Storing pie is the most problematic. I just try to eat it as fast as I can!

You'll note that I don't mention plastic wrap very much as I am working to eliminate as much plastic as possible due to the multitude of studies finding that plastics contain carcinogens. No matter what... never use plastic in the microwave oven! As plastics warm, they give off gases that are carcinogenic. For the same reason, never leave plastic water bottles in a warm car. The plastic leaches into the water... very bad! Enough for the lecture, but it needs to be said.

I would love to have other readers make suggestions to address this question. You can post using "anonymous" if you'd like.

Thanks for the question!


A few weeks ago Kevin put me on high alert that he really, really wanted to get away for a week.  The criteria included (1) a non-stop flight and (2) a place to snorkel.  That left few options but St. Thomas V.I. met the criteria.  The photos pretty much tell the story.

Sapphire Beach.
Day Sail.
Happy Iguanas.
Sunset Cruise.
Car rental on St. John's.
On the road.
Deck off our room at Point Pleasant Resort.
Happy Hour on St. John's.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Last Thursday was our Cooking Club lunch and it was one of the best we've had.  The best of the best though was the appetizer.  Enjoy this easy but delicious dish.

*  20 Medjool dates
*  20 whole fresh mint leaves
*  1 3-oz piece of Manchego cheese (a Spanish cheese made from sheep's milk, sold at most stores) cut into 20 1-1/2x1/4x1/4 inch strips
*  4 packages thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon)
Cut small slice off the short end of each date and discard.  Carefully remove the pit from the date through a small slit.  Place 1 mint leaf across the opening of the date, covering the cavity.  Take 1 strip of cheese and push the mint leaf and cheese into the date cavity.  Pinch the date opening closed.  Repeat with all of the dates.  Wrap 3 pancetta slices securely around each date, enclosing the date completely.  Place the pancetta-wrapped dates on a baking sheet.  [Note:  Can be made ahead up to this point, cover and refrigerate.]
     Preheat oven to 375ยบ.  Bake dates uncovered until the pancetta is crisp and the bottoms of the dates caramelize, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and serve warm.