Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet the Gemini

The Gemini was featured in the June 2009 edition of Martha Stewart Living. The cocktail works well with either brunch or as a before dinner drink. Use 100% grapefruit juice with nothing added for best results. The juice cuts down on the sweetness of the cocktail. Whole Foods sells fresh squeezed juice by the half gallon - unless you wish to squeeze your own. St-Germaine has several additional cocktails listed on their site.
About: St-Germain liqueur is made from the Elderflower, a blossom of the Elder Tree, picked fresh from the Alps.
The drink buys you a ticket - almost - to sophistication. Careful. Using Elderflower and Alps in the same sentence may make you sound pretentious. For now, I will just keep it light, refreshing and call this cocktail satisfactory.

Makes 2

4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice, strained
3 ounces St-Germain liqueur
2 ounces vodka
Ice cubes
2 grapefruit-rind twists

Mix grapefruit juice, St-Germain, vodka, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into 2 chilled glasses. Top with Prosecco.
Serve each with a grapefruit twist.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Perfect Bowls for Summer Entertaining

Macy's has a new set of melamine* bowls available through their Martha Stewart Collection. The Camellia Nesting Bowls come in two different color combinations (shades of blue or shades of pink). I found they set-up nicely for a buffet. I used them for fruit and yogurt when I recently served a brunch buffet. They are only available in Macy's stores and not online. Currently they are 50% off. The sale price is what they are worth. The original price was north of $40.00. However, around $20.00 is a good price for an attractive set of four nesting bowls.
*Melamine should not be used in microwave.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Watching TV on Hallmark Channel

She preferred the numerous commercials and frequent interruptions over the much viewed episode of Little House on the Prairie. Rev. Alden was in trouble but all was resolved in the last five minutes thanks to Charles Ingalls.

Sadie Does Laundry

Sadie behaves like a cat sometimes. She is very excited about warm laundry fresh from the dryer. While I had my back turned, she took her usual turn at doing the unspeakable. This time she dove into a pile of freshly laundered towels and boxer shorts. Sadie dove through the leg of a pair covered in romping dachshunds. She wore them as a fashionable muffler until I ended her laundry romp and began to fold the cotton tower.

Animatronic Obama Going to Disney World With High-Tech Style

President Obama (Obamatron) goes live in July as part of the newly revamped Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. President Lincoln will read the full text of the Gettysburg Address and President George Washington will also have a speaking part in the new show.

Lincoln was the first life-sized human robot that Disney built and it was introduced at the Sate of Illinois Pavilion in the New York World's Fair in 1964. The original show was called Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which will re-open at Disneyland later this year. In that show Lincoln remains the only President.

Like I needed another reason to visit WDW.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Martha Plants Terrace with Home Depot Finds

Planting my outdoor terrace at Skylands
posting from Martha Stewart Blog

Posted using ShareThis

Usually, Martha uses plants grown from her private greenhouse or other speciality plant suppliers. She may have a deal cooking with the big orange box store and is simply sharing the love. Whatever the reason is I like it when she makes affordable choices elegant. One of her plantings inspired me to do the same in one of my garden pots. I will update you on that latter. Perhaps, the long holiday weekend will offer us all the sunny weather for fun and gardening with time to rest.
Martha's selections before planting.
I believe the cycads are $22.99 a pot at Home Depot. In my experience with HD plants it's best to catch them as close to their stock date as possible. Some locations do not give them the care a smaller nursery provides. I am planting one indoors and one outdoors.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cream Puffs with Lemon Mousse and Blueberry Sauce

Here is another item from brunch this past Sunday. We capped off the afternoon with this very refreshing desert, which seems light despite all the eggs and heavy cream involved. I was perusing the June 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living and found this in the From Martha's Home to Yours section. At first glance I was not a big fan of this current issue. Also, I should come clean in case it was not completely obvious before now that I am a follower of Ms. Stewart's. She's like a relative in the house. Well, I should make clear that I'm glad she's not a live-in one because I would be out of my mind with perfectionist worries. She inspires me though I cannot relate to being a supper wealthy owner of a company and many properties. Would I like to? Hell yes!!!

The cream puffs are the most labor intensive part of the recipe. The light confections would also go perfect with your favorite ice cream, sauce and toppings. Do not forget to add the egg wash at the end before applying sanding sugar for a crunchy, sweetness texture. Be liberal with the sugar. Also, do not skip straining the crud through a fine metal sieve after cooking.

The cream puffs were almost to pretty to cut open.

The recipes for the blueberry sauce and lemon curd mousse made enough to top 12 cream puffs. I had extra cream puffs that I made good use of with some strawberry jam.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Portobello and Asparagus Egg Strata aka Brunch with Ponch

We had a few friends over for brunch on Sunday. I have decided that a 1:00 p.m. start time works best for brunch. One of the dishes I prepared was a recipe from Whole Foods. The portobello and asparagus egg strata was quickly devoured. You make it the night before so that the bread soaks up all the flavors and some of the eggs. You can either use plain or herb goat cheese. I choose the herb kind and would up the garlic cloves - next time - from three to four for an added kick. On the day you bake it you sprinkle the remaining goat cheese on top and bake for 45 minutes, allowing it to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Some clever types at the table had to go there and mention Erik Estrada (Ponch on Chips). We had a short chuckle about it. Get it? Of course, and most likely you groaned. However, I will forever associate Ponch - now - with the tasty Strata severed for brunch. I hope you will try it. This one is going on the make again list.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday Nap Take Two

Their sleepy eyes report the fact that the only event that could perk their ears or manage to motivate a tail wag would be dinner time, followed by an after-dinner Greenie (for Sadie).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sadie and Spencer's Nap Debate

After a brief nap, both decided to discuss what the rest of Sunday afternoon might hold for both of them. The decision was easy and the verdict was not a surprise. They decided to continue productive napping and accomplished little to nothing for the remainder of Sunday evening.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chocolate Love

Over the last couple of years I reintroduced myself to chocolate after a nearly 14 year hiatus from the wonderful food. I do try to exercise to allow myself these indulgences and mainly limit myself to the best dark chocolate and mostly skip milk chocolate. I find that I don't scarf down dark chocolate - unlike milk - as fast. This is another benefit of dark and limits consumption. My taste may not be the most expert but I have developed a fondness for a few brands and flavors. In other words, I know what I like as you may well too know. I like to find new chocolate to share the way other like to share wine. Please, post your favorites. Here is one brand to tempt the chocolate taste buds.


Yes, the name and packaging suggest love and poetry but it has a very manly dark chocolate flavor. They go the purist route as well as combine interesting flavors. Nationally you can find a limited selection of their flavors at Target and a wider selection at Whole Foods.

My Picks: Strong Dark 70% Cocoa, Cherries & Almonds 55% Cocoa, Chilies & Cherries 55 % Cocoa

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Favorite Read: "A Prayer for Owen Meany"

Incredible first sentence.

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice-not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

Originally published in 1989, Owen Meany remains my favorite John Irving novel. I discovered the title in 1999 after seeing the dreadful Simon Birch that was very loosely based on this book. Perhaps, one day they will make a stellar film adaptation of this haunting epic. Irving's newest release, Last Night in Twisted River, arrives in the fall.

John Irving discussing Twisted River.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sadie Plays Half Pint in the Grassy Salem Meadow

Despite the rain or the threat of rain, the weekend turned out to be quite enjoyable and productive. I was able to finish yard work and planting annuals in the beds. Sadie also had some quality time and two productive high-impact walks. We even attempted to recreate the closing credits to Little House on the Prairie. This was my Half Pint's best take. Enjoy!!!

The result we had wished for.

After the brief shoot our budget did not allow for a fancy on-set trailer or other perks. Sadie simply collapsed after working for not quite guild level scale. Peanut butter treats were all the meager craft services could provide.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rainy Day Mystery

Murder She Said: Brief Synopsis

When nobody will believe she witnessed a murder, elderly sleuth Miss Marple takes a job as a maid to ferret out clues.

As a child I came to appreciate this wonderful gem late one night by accident as I channel surfed. Margaret Rutherford made four Agatha Christie Miss Marple films in the early 1960s. This is the first film of that series. The Scooby Doo Mystery production values and charming score composed by Ron Goodwin all add to the kitschy atmosphere of the film. The most fun comes not just from the mystery but from Rutherford's expressive, frumpy elastic face and body language. She steels every scene. Other films in the series include: Murder at the Gallop, Murder Ahoy and Murder Most Foul. Stringer Davis (Rutherford's husband in real life) portrayed Mr. Stringer, a sort of befuddled sidekick, in all four films.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grandpapa Steiff Bear Arrives

After a bit of a delay, Grandpapa Steiff bear, an exclusive release of The Toy Shoppe, finally arrived in a large cardboard box with a caution in German and lots of acid free tissue paper.

He is the fifth edition in the larger bear family series available through The Toy Shoppe in Virginia. Since FAO Schwartz closed all of its stores down except for two flagship stores and its Internet business, The Toy Shoppe is the largest vendor of Steiff in North America. They work closely with Steiff to incorporate elements of vintage bears in their new interpretations. His accessories include a removable sweater and a working gold pocket watch featuring the Steiff and The Toy Shoppe logos.
One of his best and most striking features is his shaved muzzle, which gives him a stately profile. He is number ten in an edition of 1,500 pieces.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dream Remembered

Last night's dream was filled with A list actors and other oddities. Here's the scoop on the dream and it seems too silly for interpretation. Jessica Lange and another actress were playing the roles of Big and Little Eddie from Grey Gardens in a stage version of the show at a local pub.

No, it does get better. I was also in the play but as the young boy from Sling Blade speaking in a thick Hollywood Southern accent.

My entire family showed up for one of the performances at the pub where the show would incorporate pub activity into the action. I became paralyzed with stage fright and could not perform a scene with Jessica Lange. After the performance - or my paralyzed attempt - I flung myself at Jessica's feet begging for her forgiveness. She did forgive me and also gave me a lift home in her Amish buggy. While driving home, she taught me how to take the reins of the horse. The next evening I experienced the same stage-fright-like symptoms and could not be comforted by Jessica. However, she gave me a ride home again in the buggy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Orchid Opens

Whole Foods has a great deal on a larger than usual variety of orchids. All varieties are $15.99 and tend to look better cared for than the selection offered at Home Depot. The one I picked out had not opened yet. A week later it is thriving with all the flowers opened except one. This lovely lady is a Miltonia Soquel "Tiffany". These are a nice alternative to the expensive ones delivered through a florist.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sadie Takes New Toy Out for Test Drive

Sadie picked up a new toy this weekend since she did not make a big fuss at the groomers. Wetnoz, not a company I was familiar with, makes a toy called a Spring Roll an ergonomic fetch toy. It comes only in lime green making it easy to spot. Available in two sizes I choose the small and love how perfectly Sadie's distinctive dachshund profile fits in the hourglass shaped cup at each end. There is a small place in the center to place a treat, which provides play motivation. If you choose a treat that fits snugly in the center, you are in for quite a lengthy show as your dog becomes more and more playfully determined. Sorry for the hidden-camera video quality.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Zen Soy Chocolate Pudding, MMMMM Good!

A nice refreshing snack I have grown fond of - addicted to - is Zen Soy's Chocolate Pudding. They make four flavors: chocolate, banana, vanilla, chocolate vanilla swirl. I prefer the chocolate both for its texture and taste. Thick and creamy with a dark chocolate flavor it has no strange after taste. Since the flavor is more dark chocolate than milk chocolate in richness the pudding seems twice as decadent. It serves up best cold directly from the fridge. The pudding is organic, and you can find it at most Wild Oats and Whole Foods locations. Each pudding has only 130 calories and one gram of fat.