All That Sparkles

I absolutely love fizzy and sparkling wines!  And, since New Year’s Eve celebrations are fast approaching, I thought it may be fun and helpful to share some information about Champagne and sparkling wines. Champagne: First, all that sparkles isn’t Champagne.  Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region of France and made in the traditional method (méthode champenoise). The traditional method is a labor intensive, multi-step process (two fermentations) that contributes to the expense.  Champagne can be made from three grapes:  chardonnay and red-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier.  Sometimes the label will use the terms “blanc de blancs” meaning the wine was made from white grapes, or “blanc de noirs” indicating that the Champagne is a white wine made from the dark pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties. There are also different levels of dryness/sweetness in Champagne: Brut Nature/Brut Zero:  Bone dry.  No residual sugar. Extra Brut:  very dry Brut: very dry to dry Extra-Sec or Extra Dry:  off-dry to medium dry Sec:  medium dry Demi-Sec:  sweet Doux:  super sweet *Special note:  More Champagne houses from France are opening vineyards in California: Roederer Estate (by Champagne Louis Roederer), Domaine Chandon (by Moët & Chandon), Mumm Napa (by G.H. Mumm), and Domaine Carneros (by Taittinger) are a few of the French producers in California. Sparkling Wines: Crémant:  French sparkling wine that is made outside of the Champagne region in France but produced using the traditional […]

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Peanut Butter Spice Cookies

I. LOVE. Peanut butter.  So, it makes sense that I would also love peanut butter cookies; however, it’s not just the taste that endears me to this special treat.  It’s also the memories.  When I was a girl, peanut butter cookies were always the cookie I wanted to make with Mom.  I so enjoyed rolling the little balls of dough in my hands and using a fork to make the crisscross design atop the cookie.  And, very often, peanut butter cookies were the treat awaiting Santa Claus on Christmas Eve at my house. This recipe for peanut butter cookies is unbelievably easy, only requiring four ingredients:  sugar, peanut butter, an egg, and vanilla extract.  The peanut butter flavor really shines through, especially since there isn’t any flour.  For such a simple recipe, the taste is amazing! A few years ago when making these cookies, I decided to modify Mom’s recipe a bit.  I really like ginger.  So, for a twist, I added ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and crystallized ginger.  Oh, and I also placed a few chocolate chips on top for good measure.  The result: yummy, yummy cookies! These peanut butter spice cookies turned out to be delicious; and, if you’re looking for the perfect wine to pair with them, a Malmsey Madeira works well.  Enjoy!   Peanut Butter Spice Cookies: *Use organic ingredients when possible. Ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup raw cane sugar & 1/2 cup […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Feeling Festive

I LOVE wandering around vintage/antiques stores.  You know the kind—where there’s everything from beautiful, old quilts to those tacky Smurf drinking glasses you just had to collect when you were a child. The fun thing is you never know what you may find….treasure or trinkets.  But, it’s all good stuff! Well, recently, while enjoying a lazy afternoon in one of these delightful shops, I discovered an item that grabbed my attention…a pillow with small, red bells on the corners and the phrase, “Get Your Jingle On.”  I laughed out loud! Anyway, the more I thought about this whimsical pillow, the more I decided that I really needed it.  I thought, “What a good reminder of this season of love and goodwill.” So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, or stressed-out, put on some festive music, remember your blessings, and think about all the wonderful things you can do to reflect light into our world by offering a kind word, a bright smile, or a helpful hand. Go ahead, “GET YOUR JINGLE ON.”     As you can see, Clementine, Dash, and Bizou love the pillow, especially the bells. 🙂 Wishing you a week full of joy and lots of jingles! 

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This Above All…

Farmgirl posing before school on picture day Circa 1977     “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown   “Never betray your values. Never betray yourself.” ~Walter Rieley (My dad)   “This above all: to thine own self be true…” ~William Shakespeare   […]

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Rosebud’s Lesson

 Butterbean, Sweet Pea, and Truffle stoically watching their fallen friend.   This post was originally published November 1st, 2018 It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. However, the lesson is still there.   I squatted uncomfortably in the pasture. My left shin gently pressing on Rosebud’s back with the remainder of weight shifted to my right leg. My left hand disappeared into the coarse wool on her chest, above her heart. As I carefully caressed Rosebud’s face, the feathery sensation of her long eyelashes brushed against my hand as she opened and closed her eyes.  Her heartbeat was faint. Although Rosebud was still grazing and eating grain regularly, we recently noticed she had lost weight and seemed to be lying around more. She was nearly 12-years-old now–elderly for a sheep. However, even though a bit slower, she was always grazing with the flock and never missed an opportunity for a grain treat…until Wednesday morning. After feeding the sheep, I walked back to the house, feeling my chest tighten and heaviness gather in my shoulders. Once inside, I picked up the phone and dialed our local vet’s office. A young girl answered, “Bedford Animal Hospital.” I was struck by the contrast of the cheerful, sunny voice at the other end of the line to the worried, grayness of my inner landscape.  The receptionist informed me that the doctors’ schedules were full, and that no one would be available for a […]

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More Treat Than Trick: Sauternes and Sage Jelly

Growing up in the country and on a farm, it was commonplace to preserve as much of the summer’s harvest as possible. My parents and grandparents worked all spring, summer, and fall planting gardens, picking vegetables, tending fruit trees, picking berries, and then canning, freezing, and storing much of it for future use.  I can still see kitchen counters covered with Mason jars of green beans, tomatoes, and black raspberry jam, and the beauty of the jewel-tone colors as the sun shone through the glass and its hard-earned contents. It’s because of this seasonal tradition that I observed and participated in as a child that I appreciate the work that goes into preserving as well as the delight in enjoying something homemade. That’s why I love using a familiar recipe or even finding a new one each year to preserve something special to share. So, when I was leafing through epicurious cooking magazine recently and discovered a recipe for wine jelly–specifically, Sauternes and sage jelly, I knew I had to try it.  I’ve made fruit jams and jellies, pickles, and even chutney in the past, but I’ve never tried making wine jelly–until now.  The cooking magazine raved about this jelly, describing it as “sophisticated and subtle.”  It also stated that it was a delicious substitute to the green mint jelly that traditionally accompanies lamb. Actually, this sublime jelly is wonderful with any roasted or grilled meat and is a fantastic […]

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