my side

Leave a comment

As creatures of comfort, we all have special rituals and/or habits that brings us small pleasures.  From sneaking a piece of sinful dark chocolate to a cherished cup of coffee, it’s the little things that bring us bliss. Simple joys that give us that drawn out “ahhhhh” moment.  It’s a cold beer after a hot day.  It’s grabbing a warm blanket and settling into your favorite chair in the evening to watch some TV. It’s fresh sheets as you climb into bed, curling up to sleep.

We all know there’s nothing better than nature fresh, clean sheets.  Crisp, cool, clean sheets – how many of us stretch and sigh as we slide between the covers?  Rolling into the perfect position as we lay on our side of the bed and close our eyes. How many of you fluff your pillows and arrange them just so?  Who among us rolls first to the left and then on to their stomach?  Or do you sleep on you back, arms above your head, knee bent?  Are you a left sider or a right sider?

We humans get pretty territorial when it comes to which side of the bed we sleep on.  Some want the side closest to the bathroom.  Some want the right side just because that is what they are used to. And some want next to the side closest to an electrical outlet for their alarm clocks and landline.  In our household, either one of us is lucky enough to have a side.

When you have dogs, dogs who consider the middle, bottom and your down pillow as their side of the bed, we’re lucky to have a corner of the blanket and three square inches of mattress. There are two sides to each bed and Dolce and Amore have ownership of both.  There is no left or right side, only a Dolce or Amore’s side.

the dog sideBoth girls like to climb on the bed for a little night-time loving as I prepare to go to sleep.  Dolce especially loves to curl up against my legs as I absently scratch her ears, her head draped across my thighs.  Amore will troop cover the covers and pillows as she heads to the top of the bed to get her share of rubs.  Ten minutes later they are off to other parts of the house, only to return in the wee hours of the night to take over the bed, staking their claim on the mattress.

There are times when I ask Malcolm to call the dogs so I can have some leg space.  I beg him to give me ten minutes to enjoy the bed to myself before he lets the girls in.

“Let me get settled and then they can hop up,”  I plead.  Without his help, I’d be curled up into a cramped ball, while the dogs sleep diagonally across the bed, paws in the air, taking up all the space.

But still, we let them up on the bed.  It’s a special time for me to give love and comfort to our girls.  My special ritual.  My special pleasure.

The other day on facebook, I ran across a video of James Stewart and Johnny Carson. In it, James Stewart reads a poem about his dog.

And, now you know why Dolce and Amore have their side of the bed.

blog signature 2-25-14

The vote

1 Comment

You say tah-mat-toe, I say tomato.  Where is no right or wrong way to pronounce the juicy fruit (veggie to some).

Just as there is no right or wrong pairing of either vino or beer, but you decide.  Click on the link below and vote for your favorite pairing.

 

Blue Cheese Stuffed Filet Pairing Challenge – The Vote.

gritty blog buddies

2 Comments

One of the great things about hosting a blog are the friends you make.  Virtual friends.  Blog buddies you probably will never meet in person but interact with on-line.  You exchange comments and replies.  You “like” their post.  You even reblog from time to time.  There aren’t any long winded phone calls to keep in touch.  Just short blog messages, and smiley faces.  LOL comments and a few LMAO remarks.  We “oooh” over photos of beautiful Ms. Harper Lee, a Golden Retriever from Louisana, from Thek9harperlee blog and “ahhh” over pictures of Colorado from Mike’s Look at Life blog.

When my cookbook was just off the press, I asked a fellow blogger, PAWS IT ON, to sample some of the recipes and write a critique on her findings.   When I started to follow a traveling wine and beer blogger, The Wandering Gourmand, I asked him to “pair” a beer with three of my soups.  I would like to think a friendship of sorts was started. A virtual friendship.  I know if any of the above mentioned ever found themselves in New Mexico, aka Santa Fe, I would love to meet up with them and have a LIVE conversation.

Turn around is only fair.  A month ago (or so), fellow blogger The Wandering Gourmand started a wine vs. beer pairing contest.  Asking the blogging world and his readers to submit a pairing with a selected entree, The Wandering Gourmand garnered several entries for the first round.

yes, my fish n' chips looked just like this!

yes, my fish n’ chips looked just like this!

Fish n’ Chips was our first pairing course.  Malcolm and I dusted off our stored-in-the-garage fryer and proceeded to inhale a double batch of homemade beer battered fish with some spicy french fries.  Delicious!  It brought back memories of London.  And Brighton Beach.  And Bath.  And York.  And all the pubs we visited while in Great Britain.  There is nothing quite like the Brits’ fish n’ chips!

Our next pairing contest was Shrimp n’ Grits.  More like a test – not contest.

I can’t say I’ve ever made Shrimp n’ Grits.  I can’t say I’ve even tasted Shrimp n’ Grits, let alone just a taste of grits.  In fact, grits aren’t even on my top 100 fave foods list.   And, to be honest, grits of any kind, ranked pretty low on my order pad.  So, here I was, about to make Shrimp n’ Grits, and for company to boot.  Oh, boy….

Hubby-dear is from Georgia. Atlanta. Inside the belt. Buckhead, which he considers Atlanta proper. Not those suburbs like Marietta, Decatur or Alpharetta.  We’re talking Atlanta.  A true southern boy. When I mentioned we were having Shrimp n’ Grits for our weekend feast to test out the perfect pairing, he sent me a stern look.

grits IS NOT polenta!

grits IS NOT polenta!

“Now Honey,” he said, “Grits IS NOT polenta!” Clearing indicating a West Coast transplant to New Mexico would not know the difference. He had a point. My first trip to the grocery store brought home corn meal. Oops!  It was a Lucy & Ethel moment.  I thought I grabbed the grits, I swear! I didn’t realize my mistake until I had the corn meal cooking on the stove top and it wasn’t thickening properly.  Yikes!  Company was due in ten minutes.   Like Malcolm said, grits isn’t even close to corn meal.  A first cousin and married, but according to Malcolm, Grits is not Corn Meal! I think Malcolm was most grumpy mainly because he was elected to run back into town to get the real deal.

We already had some fun beer in the frig, and our guests had volunteered to bring an appropriate wine. We were ready to sip and sample.  One of our invitees is a cider drinker, so at the last moment I added Stella Artosis Cidre  in the pairing line up.
Our sampling included a Fox Glove Chardonnay, a Spanish wine, Licia Albarino, and finally, Stella Artosis Cidre (made with handpicked apples).  Along with an assortment of beers, we were set.

WOW! Not only was the Shrimp n’ Grits totally fantastic, we had one of the best times sippin & samplin!  We had a pairing party to end all pairing parties!

The top choice was the Stella Artosis Cidre, with the Albarino a close second. I gotta tell ya, the Cidre was perfect with the Shrimp n’ Grits. Crisp with a hint of carbonation, it was the perfect foil for the slight heat of the sausage. I’m sure it’s the “hand-picked apples” that made the difference!

Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Grits

Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Grits

SPICY SHRIMP WITH ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE ON GRITS

  • 1/2 cup green hot pepper sauce (I use Mrs. Renfro’s Jalapeno Salsa)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Combine hot sauce, wine, onions, lemon juice and vinegar in a heavy medium sauce pan. Boil over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup.  About 15 minutes.  Stir in cream.  Cover and refrigerate.  Can be made one day ahead.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 12 oz. smoked Andouille sausage – sliced (Chorizo and hot Italian sausage works as well)
  • 1 cup minced white onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
  • 4-5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 30 or so uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off

Heat olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage bits, onion, jalapeno and garlic.  Saute until onions and garlic are tender.  About 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and seasoning.  Stir and heat over low heat while grits are cooking.  When grits are close to being ready, turn up the heat and add uncooked shrimp, sauteing until shrimp are opaque in center, about 3-4 minutes.

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups corn grits (I cheated and used quick grits)
  • 2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth to a boil over medium heat.  Add 1/4 cup butter and S&P.  Gradually whisk in grits.  Cover and let simmer until grits are thickened and very soft, stirring often.  About 1 hours.  If using quick grits, about 5-10 minutes.  When grits are done, add rest of butter and cheese.  Season if needed.  Keep warm.

Bring hot-pepper cream sauce to simmer.

Spoon grits in swallow bowls forming a well in the center.  Spoon shrimp/sausage mixture over grits and drizzle the hot pepper cream sauce over.  Serve.

beef, beer, and blogs

7 Comments

Part I of the Beer n’ damn it’s hot Chili series.

The blog universe is essentially the FedEx of a global cloud of words.  A big, huge cloud that covers every subject matter known to man.  The blogs themselves are a specialized international courier and delivery of tales, stories, pictures, advice, adventures, recipes, foods, wines, travel, sources, and resources.  Blogs are written about everything, anything and all things, in all languages, all styles and all formats and platforms.

At it’s best, blogs are a written handshake between fellow bloggers and devoted readers that enjoy and share a common interest.  A howdy-do amongst those that love to travel or those that share a love of food.  A wave of the hand between dog lovers, cat lovers, or animal lovers.  A wink to your fellow jokester, a nod to another great cook, a toast to the wine aficionado.  Bloggers are the ambassadors of their hobby, their crafts, their talents.

Several months ago, I started following The Wandering Gourmand, a blogger with a collective interest in foods and beverages (and perhaps dogs too!).  I appreciated his writing wit and quips, his reviews on foods, beers and wine, his notes from his travels.  I liked his style of writing, his pairing of words went well with his pairings of wines or beer.  The Wandering Gourmand blog would often question his loyal followers, “beer or wine” with BBQ? With chicken?  With steak?  Inevitably, my husband and I would grill for the weekend meal and test his theory of which was better paired with our steak, a complex red wine or a dark hearty stout?

I asked The Wandering Gourmand if he would recommend a beer or two for a few of my recipes in my cookbook, If it falls on the floor, it’s mine!  His replied “yes” brought a quick fist pump in the air and several recipes to his inbox. Below is the first of a three-part Beer n’ chili series .

Excerpt from The Wandering Gourmand  http://thewanderinggourmand.com/about/

Lately, I have become the beer pairing expert.  On a recent bachelor party in Charlestown, SC, I was tasked by almost each of the 12 partiers with picking out a beer to accompany their meal at Craftsman, a gastropub and tap house.  I’m not sure why.  (Maybe it’s the recent beard.  Beards and beer go hand-in-hand.)  Luckily, almost everyone ordered the Crunchy Dane so my job was easy.  It was only fitting then that Megs asked me to create beer pairings for a few recipes from her new cookbook.

I was stoked.  Not only do I enjoy her blog and the adorable (yes, even bearded beer experts can use that word) photos of her dogs, but I heartily support any blogger who can turn this hobby into a business.  I truly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and love seeing the Internet allow ideas to generate household income be they products sold on blogs like Megs or artists selling their masterpieces on Etsy. 

Please don’t be disappointed by the fact that the pairings are from the macro-craft breweries.  As much as I wanted to promote Natty Green’s Southern Pale (best pale known to beerkind), nobody outside of North Carolina could buy it.  Thus, you’ve heard of these beers and that’s point.  They had to be accessible. 

BEEF CHILI AND BEER  

Holy shit!!!  3 large jalapeno chilies with seeds, 7 tablespoons of chili powder, and 2 tablespoons of canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce!?!?!?!?  At first glance (meaning first ingredients), I was thinking something along the lines of an American Strong Ale.  Big malt and big hops to match a hearty chili made with bell peppers, beef, beans, and stout beer.  Then I read the heat and suggest a fire-hose of milk to extinguish the flames.  If you are more man than me, then I’d recommend Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.  But be careful, with the heat level and the high ABV of 7.2%, it might just be an early night for you.

Bryan, The Wandering Gourmand

beer and beer chili

beer and beer chili

BEEF CHILI AND BEER   use a stout or dark beer

One great thing about chili – you may add more or less of an ingredient throughout the cooking to customize the blend of flavors to your liking.  Just don’t give your husband free rein with the chili powder!

  •  1½ tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 5 lbs. ground chuck (lean)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2½ lbs. onions, chopped
  • 1½ lbs. red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1½ lbs. green bell peppers, chopped  (make the spouse do the chopping!)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or more), minced
  • 2-3 large jalapeno chili with seeds, chopped
  • 7 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more), minced
  • 2 – 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 2 – 15-oz. cans kidney beans
  • 2 bottles dark beer + one for yourself

Sauté ground beef in heavy, large pot until no longer pink, breaking up with a spoon. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions, all the bell peppers, garlic and jalapeno and sauté until they begin to soften.   Add mixture to pot with beef. Mix well. Stir in spices, chili powder and chipotle chili. Add crushed tomatoes, beans and beer.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with sour cream, chopped green onions and grated cheese.   In New Mexico, everything is served with a tortilla – cornbread or biscuits are equally good.  Okay to prepare ahead and freeze.

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823