Wining Wife®

Because housework goes better with Malbec...

Month: August 2012 (page 1 of 4)

Getting Involved

|| OBSERVE || PUBLIC OPINIONS || Animal Rights...

|| OBSERVE || PUBLIC OPINIONS || Animal Rights Protest March || Dame Street || Dublin || Republic of Ireland || (Photo credit: || UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL ||)

It is so important to be involved with community. There are so many different causes that one can take part in. One can get involved with helping victims of domestic violence, natural disaster relief, animal rights causes, etc. What’s really important is that you take the first steps and put yourself out there. That’s why I’ve started the blog, Activism My Way. If you or someone you know is involved with a cause or organization, and you would like to be profiled, please send an email to outreach (at) activismmyway (dot) com. I look forward to telling your story on this blog!

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Wine Review: Sandeman Port

Sandeman port

Sandeman port (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

If you’ve ever watched the television show, Frasier, you may be aware of the wonderful after-dinner treat known as “Sherry.” Port is also quite a nice after-dinner treat. Lately, Wining Husband and myself have been sitting down to watch old TV shows on Netflix, and sipping on either Sherry, dessert wine, or port while we do so. Sandeman Port is one of these wines that is both cost-effective and delicious. This wonderful, dark port has hints of sweet cherries and dark chocolate. It is a lovely drinking port, if you’re just looking for something to sip on. (Gray Fox Vineyards makes a lovely port that can be paired with spicy dark chocolate truffles).  I’ve also used Sandeman’s Ruby port in both a wild rice and dried cherry stuffing and in pasta sauce. It’s the kind of port that you don’t feel bad about using in cooking but that you still enjoy drinking.

 

What’s your favorite port to sip?

 

Food: Black Beans and Rice

14 Hands Merlot

14 Hands Merlot (Photo credit: artizone)

 

If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal to make that doesn’t involve a box and a ton of preservatives, consider this hearty meal. It’s easy to make, healthy, tasty, and well, goes pretty well with wine. We enjoyed this meal with a glass of 14 Hands Hot to Trot.

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped roasted ham (look for one that’s free from preservatives and organic)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • a couple of drops of pepper sauce
  • 6 cups of cooked brown rice (We like Lundberg farms short grain brown rice for this dish)

First, start the rice cooking. Saute the onion, garlic, and peppers in a tablespoon of your favorite olive oil. Add ham, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and beans. Simmer beans for about 10 minutes over low heat, add pepper sauce. Serve beans over rice.

What’s your favorite quick, healthy, and cost-effective meal to go with wine? Post your recipe in our comments section.

 

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Commentary: Not Again – New Orleans and Isaac

BRAITHWAITE, LA - AUGUST 29: A rescue boat pas...

BRAITHWAITE, LA – AUGUST 29: A rescue boat passes a partially submerged stop sign during Hurricane Isaac on August 29, 2012 in Braithwaite, Louisiana. Dozens were reportedly rescued in the area after levees in Plaquemines Parish were overtopped by floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

 

Seven years after Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Isaac is coming on shore. The storm is weaker, but the threat is real – and in a city that has already seen a lot of tragedy in recent years, from flooding to oil spills, Isaac is the last thing this city of jazz, arts, and culture needs.

 

As a disclaimer, New Orleans is one of my favorite places on earth. The food is amazing, and there is something magical about walking around the French Quarter. I’m also partial to the city because my sister lives there with her family. There is a community vibe to this city that is lost in many modern cities – people here really do “take care of their own” to quote Bruce Springsteen. Perhaps that’s one of the things that makes it so tragic when trouble strikes.

 

Luckily, the damage is not as extensive this time, and the emergency response teams have so far been very responsive in getting people out and helping people. At the same time, the city still needs our help. While there was an outpouring of support and aid for Katrina, this just hasn’t been so for Isaac. It’s important to remember that just because we don’t see the need every day, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This is a city that is still, seven years later, recovering from one of the greatest tragedies a natural disaster and the incompetence of government agencies has wrought on our shores. BP is still working to clean up its oil mess, which has still lingered on beaches. So, if you have a moment, cruise over to Charity Navigator, pick a charity, and help out. If you have time, consider volunteering for cleanup efforts

 

 

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Birthdays Rock! (And so does lasagna!)

This lasagna paired perfectly with the 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon.

Birthdays are great, aren’t they? Our son had a birthday, and we celebrated appropriately – with whole wheat lasagna and a bottle of Louis M. Martini 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Friday night’s Creekside tasting. It was a perfect pairing. We all had a lovely time, we went to see the new Batman movie together, and we went to play miniature golf and hit up the batting cages. In the spirit of sharing a perfect wine and food pairing, here is the recipe for the lasagna (note, I adapted it from the back of a Ronzoni Healthy Harvest lasagna box):

Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • Splash of Worcester sauce
  • 3 cups pasta sauce (I used my own home-canned pasta sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 15 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella (the recipe calls for 2, originally, but we love cheese)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • A splash of red wine
  • lasagna noodles

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Saute chopped onion, minced garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil.
  3. Add ground turkey to onion and bell pepper and brown. Drain the fat. Add a splash of Worcester sauce, a splash of red wine, and red pepper flakes along with the spaghetti sauce and water. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes
  4. While waiting for the meat sauce, mix together ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pour about 1 cup of meat sauce into the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish. Top with 3 lasagna noodles. Cover with one cup of sauce. Spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Repeat layering. Top with a layer of sauce followed by the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes while you enjoy a glass of wine (and make a salad!) Slice and serve hot.

 

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Office Makeover Part I: Before

So lately I’ve been realizing that our home office is not at all working for our needs. Part of being fabulous is having a fabulous place to do so in! Of course, looking at pictures of our office, it’s no surprise that it’s not working. It’s a mess! So, in the coming weeks, we’re going to makeover our office so that it’s a more efficient working space. The first thing we’re going to do is switch where the desks are and the black bookshelves on the left. Then we’re going to file away the giant piles of papers on the table. I think we’ll probably have a glass or two of wine in between!

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How do you organize your home office paperwork? Leave your tips in the comments.

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Wine and Cheese for a Summer’s Eve

Napa_0357

Napa_0357 (Photo credit: jstaub1)

 

This week’s tasting at Creekside had several stars. We tasted eight out of the ten wines offered, and enjoyed most of them. The theme for this week was wines that can be enjoyed during the summer – either as summer sipping wines or as accompaniments to summer food fare.

 

2010 Green & Red Sauvignon Blanc, Catacula Vineyard, Napa Valley ($20) – This wine had notes of orange peel, honeydew melon, and oats. It was quite green and pretty good. It would be a nice by the pool kind of drinking wine.

 

2007 Arrowood Saralee’s Vineyard Viognier, Russian River Valley, Sonoma ($30) – This was a rustic, warm, and spicy wine with roses on the nose. There were also hints of rosemary and thyme in the wine. This wine will be going on our wishlist.

 

Pinot noir grapes have a much darker hue than ...

Pinot noir grapes have a much darker hue than the bluish-gray coloring of Pinot gris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

2010 Gassier “Sables d” Azur, Provence, France – Rosé ($13) – This wine was lovely. It had notes of peaches, and it was light like a wonderful pink lemonade. It was sweet. It would be a great wine to pair with a fruit salad at a summer BBQ.

 

2008 Steele Pinot Noir, Caneros, Napa ($20) – This wine would go very nicely with a blackberry cobbler. It had notes of plums, blackberries, tobacco. It was definitely a wonderful, robust and full Pinot Noir.

2010 Sevin Sinners Petite Syrah, Lodi ($20) – This wine had an ink flavor, but tit did not turn into a monster. It had a ton of spice, including cardamon. It also had notes of black cherries.

2009 Landmark “Steel Plow” Syrah, Sonoma Valley ($30) – This wine was fabulous. It was very good with green olives, and it would pair well with any of your feistier foods. There were notes of blackberries, raspberries, black pepper, currant, and tobacco. This one is highly recommended to those who love a bold wine.

2009 Sbragia “Gino’s Vineyard” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley ($30) – This was light but spicy and had a bit of cream to it. It was nice, and is a good staple wine, especially if you’re looking for a lighter, less jammy, Zinfandel to enjoy.

2009 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma ($30) This wine has a wonderful nose. This wine is filled with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, cayenne pepper, almonds, and that cigar box that Wining Husband and I so love.

Have you had any of these wines? What were your thoughts on them?

 

 

 

 

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Life: Staying Healthy

Health Tips...Drink Responsibly....Eat Fruits ...

Health Tips…Drink Responsibly….Eat Fruits Liberally… (Photo credit: Sunciti _ Sundaram’s Images + Messages)

 

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to stay healthy. When you’re in the moment, it may seem like exercise, eating right, and being generally active are things no one has time for. After all, with longer work hours, more obligations, and fewer resources, it feels like we have less time than ever for the things that matter most. The thing is, no one can enjoy any of those things without their health. Here are a few general tips I’ve learned over the years.

 

  • Do something active for at least an hour every day. It doesn’t matter if you take a long walk, hike somewhere, stroll through a mall, play basketball or tag with your kids, or go to a gym. Move your body!
  • Take Doctor Michelle May’s advice: Eat what you love, eat when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re full, and really enjoy your meals. If you’re eating standing up or while walking from one place to another, your brain won’t register that you’re taking in nutrients. You’ll be hungry again soon!
  • Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, go talk to your doctor. Know how your body reacts to different foods.
  • Don’t drink too much! Alcoholic beverages are meant to be enjoyed slowly, not gulped down! Know your limits. Don’t drink to get drunk. (Also, remember that alcohol has calories in it!)
  • Do the things you love on a regular basis. If you like to write, write. If you like to read, read.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If you overbook yourself, you’ll feel stressed, and stress is a killer.

 

What are some things you do to keep healthy? Feel free to share your tips here in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

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Wine Clubs – Are They Worth It?

Old vintage wine in the wine cellars of Cojuşn...

Don’t let your wine club selections look like this! Be sure you select memberships that you will participate in and enjoy! (Old vintage wine in the wine cellars of Cojuşna winery, outside Chisinau, Moldova. (Photo credit: Wikipedia))

 

We all have our favorite wineries, and it is very tempting to sign up for wine clubs. The question is, “Are wine clubs worth the cost?” Wine clubs often offer special perks for their customers – free tastings at the winery, wine club member only events, and discounts. It can be really easy to over-commit yourself to wine clubs in the beginning. Because of this it may be helpful to consider some of the following tips when you are joining a vineyard’s wine club.

 

  1. Don’t join on the first tasting. If you’ve had the wine before, great, that’s fine. But if this is your first experience with the winery, make sure to visit again if you can. Sometimes the heat of the moment will cause you to make a regrettable decision.
  2. While you don’t have to pay for your club selections until they come, make sure you can afford the clubs you belong to. The costs add up quickly, especially if you are having wines shipped. Create a budget and stick to it. Otherwise, you may have a surprise Visa bill every three months.
  3. Be sure you understand the terms of the club. Will you need to pick the wines up at the winery? Do they select the wines or do you select the wines? Can you pick up at any time or do you have to pick up during an event? What is your obligation?
  4. Don’t be afraid to cancel clubs that aren’t working for you after the initial obligation. Let’s face it, once in a while in the heat of the moment you sign up for a wine club and you regret it. Fulfill your obligation and move on.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get to know the vintner. Usually he or she will be happy to talk to you about the wine crafting process.

 

 

 

 

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Indie Movies You Shouldn’t Miss

One of the great pleasures in life is the ability to take part in viewing the arts. There are many independent films that go unnoticed, but that are very good. Wining Husband and I do really enjoy watching many films, including independent film and foreign films. Recently, we watched three very good films that you shouldn’t miss!

Hysteria

This film is based on a story about the diagnosis of “Hysteria.” This diagnosis used to be a catch-all phrase for women who experienced anxiety, boldness, etc. The film follows Mortimer Granville who invents a device that reliably provides a “pelvic massage” to female patients suffering from this. This film is very amusing and features Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in lead roles. Don’t miss it.

The Kid with a Bike

This French film follows the life of young Cyril Catoul (Thomas Doret) and his search for the father who abandoned him. He is in an orphanage and uses his bike to visit a woman who takes him under his wing, Samantha (Cécile de France). This film is both whimsical and poignant at the same time, something difficult to accomplish, but masterfully executed by the directors.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16:  (L-R) Actors Jack ...

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 16: (L-R) Actors Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey and writer/producer/director Richard Linklater arrive at Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival opening night premiere of ‘Bernie’ at the L.A. Live Regal Cinemas on June 16, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Bernie

This film follows the true-life story of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), an assistant funeral director who winds up in quite a bit of trouble. Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Waking Life, Suburbia, Dazed and Confused) directs this zany faux-documentary style film that will have you questioning assumptions about morality. Was Bernie justified in his actions, or should he have taken a different route? The Carthage, Texas community believed him to be innocent in his actions. This one is recommended for those who think that the law is easily black and white.

What independent and/or foreign films have you seen over the summer? What would you recommend? It’s so great to see the little studios and directors accomplish so much. Please share your recommendations in the comments section.

 

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