Food, Wine, and Fellowship

Photography:  Courtesy of Douglas Frassa   “Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” –Plautus   “I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.” –Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield   As a wine enthusiast and someone who’s recently completed the Level 3 Award in Wines with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), I’ve grown to enjoy different kinds and styles of wines as well as learning how and where they’re made.  Not only do I delight in a glass of wine from an exceptional vintage, but what is truly great is when wine is paired perfectly with food; both are better for the pairing.  In my opinion, it’s the same thing when people get together for a meal–the fellowship makes the food more pleasurable, and both are better because of the pairing.  When all of these elements align, a transcendence occurs; and, the act of eating becomes much more–especially, when a talented chef, gracious staff, and good friends are involved. A number of years ago, I experienced dining out as an artful experience in a nearby town.  The restaurant, located in Roanoke, Virginia, was called Horizon Bar and Grill.  Don’t let the location or the unassuming name of the restaurant fool you. The chef and our friend, Scott Lockhart, was the artistic talent and creative energy behind the weekly/ monthly wine dinners and beautiful seasonal menus at his family’s […]

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The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing

This recipe for homemade dressing or stuffing has been passed down through the generations of my family:  Great-grandmother Rieley, Great Aunt Florence, Grandma Rieley, Mom, and me.  My family’s recipe for dressing has been modified minimally over the years and continues to be a favorite part of our Thanksgiving dinner.   It’s even better on the second day due to the flavors melding together.  The dressing re-heats easily, or just eat it cold–right out of the refrigerator (with the door still open).  That’s how I enjoy it best! The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing *Use organic ingredients whenever possible Ingredients: 1 loaf white bread (I use gluten-free) 1 stick salted butter 2 cups finely diced celery 2 cups finely diced yellow onion 3/4 bag of best quality seasoned stuffing mix (Mom uses Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing; I use Rudi’s Gluten-Free Savory Herb Stuffing) 2 cups of broth (vegetable, turkey or chicken) Method: Tear bread into small pieces and leave out overnight on a baking sheet, loosely covered with foil.  Next, broil breadcrumbs for approximately 10-15 minutes, keeping a close check so as not to burn them.  Finely dice celery and onion.  Place stick of butter in skillet and sauté celery and onion at 300 degrees F. for five minutes; don’t overcook celery and onion, leaving a bit crunchy as they will continue to cook when baked.  Add broiled bread crumbs, two cups each of sautéed celery and onion, 3/4 bag […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Celebrate!

Basilica di San Lorenzo Chapel of the Princes Florence, Italy     “You can turn this world around And bring back all of those happy days Put your troubles down It’s time to celebrate Let love shine And we will find A way to come together And make things better.” ~Madonna   *A very special thank you to our good […]

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Christmas Memories

Farmgirl with Santa circa 1975     It’s fun looking back at old photographs, especially this time of year. Growing up, my family usually gathered on Christmas Eve at my Grandparents’ house for dinner and gift giving.  It was always a joyful occasion getting to visit with all of my aunts, uncles, and many cousins.  I have fond memories of […]

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Comfort Food

  Many people have heard of macaroni and cheese, but if you’re Southern, you’ve probably enjoyed this classic on MORE than one occasion.  In the South, mac and cheese is such a popular side dish that some folks might even consider it a vegetable.  Growing up, if there was a family get together, then macaroni and cheese was certainly in […]

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The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing

This recipe for homemade dressing or stuffing has been passed down through the generations of my family:  Great-grandmother Rieley, Great Aunt Florence, Grandma Rieley, Mom, and me.  My family’s recipe for dressing has been modified minimally over the years and continues to be a favorite part of our Thanksgiving dinner.   It’s even better on the second day due to the flavors melding together.  The dressing re-heats easily, or just eat it cold–right out of the refrigerator.  That’s how I enjoy it best! The Best-Ever Thanksgiving Dressing *Use organic ingredients whenever possible Ingredients: 1 loaf white bread (I use gluten-free) 1 stick salted butter 2 cups finely diced celery 2 cups finely diced yellow onion 3/4 bag of best quality seasoned stuffing mix (Mom uses Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing; I use Rudi’s Gluten-Free Savory Herb Stuffing) 2 cups of broth (vegetable, turkey or chicken) Method: Tear bread into small pieces and leave out overnight on a baking sheet, loosely covered with foil.  Next, broil breadcrumbs for approximately 10-15 minutes, keeping a close check so as not to burn them.  Finely dice celery and onion.  Place stick of butter in skillet and sauté celery and onion at 300 degrees F. for five minutes; don’t overcook celery and onion, leaving a bit crunchy as they will continue to cook when baked.  Add broiled bread crumbs, two cups each of sautéed celery and onion, 3/4 bag of seasoned herb stuffing mix […]

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Fall Favorites: Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

With the arrival of fall, thoughts turn to cool, crisp mornings, fields full of pumpkins, the smell of a crackling fire, and the taste of hot apple cider.  This time of year often causes us to reflect on happy times.  I always find it interesting how our senses ignite memories.  Memories that take us back to a single, meaningful experience.  The senses of smell and taste, in particular, tend to evoke the strongest memories for me.  The smells of freshly cut hay and buckets of Dad’s ripened tomatoes, or the taste of Mom’s homemade Thanksgiving dressing.  These smells and tastes take me right back to my childhood. It’s such a visceral experience.  I think that’s one reason we enjoy the seasonal routines of planting gardens, visiting a pumpkin patch, or preparing and eating a holiday feast.  The sights, smells and tastes associated with these activities bring back a familiar comfort. So, here’s the thing.  With the many signs of fall, including pumpkins appearing at the local farmers’ market, I  remembered one of my favorite recipes:  Spiced pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I hope you’ll try this recipe and maybe even add it to your fall favorites.  Enjoy! Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins: *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice 1 tablespoon curry 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt *************** 2 […]

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