Saturday, August 31

beautiful weekend

My littlest starts school next week, so the past few days have been a whirlwind of doctors appointments, pharmacy visits, and meetings with parents, teachers and the school director.  You know the drill.  So I'll keep this short and sweet with two videos that have inspired me this week.

Saturday, August 24

A Rosé for the weekend

Age is just a number.  It's totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.
-Joan Collins

Today I'm excited to introduce a series of posts dedicated to one of my greatest pleasures - wine.  I celebrated my birthday last week with a case of wine from Naked Wines.  I'm not a member, but it was a fantastic gift!  If you've never heard of Naked Wines, it's a wine club devoted exclusively to wines that are crafted by up-and-coming wine makers.  The selection can be hit or miss, so the members rate the wines, leaving feedback for the vintners.  I selected the wines in my case by following a few basic criteria.  It's what I always look for when choosing a new wine:
  • Is it French?  I've never had a bad French wine.  I'm sure they exist, but I have yet to find one.  The French have such high quality standards, I'm quite convinced that nothing bad comes out of France.  Here's a quick rule of thumb, though:  Because of the harsh (I use that term very loosely) and shorter growing season in France, French grapes do not develop sugar as quickly as those grown in California.  Therefore, French wines age better, and are best after they've rested for a while.  Grapes grown in the California sunshine produce more sugar and are best consumed sooner.  A Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux will taste entirely different than one from Napa Valley.  I love them both!  Of course, great wines can come from anywhere.  If I'm feeling adventurous I'll choose one from Chile or Australia.
  • Will it go with the food?  Wine is an integral element of a meal, and therefore, I always consider the food with which it's served.  In the summer, I cook foods that are light in both texture and flavor.  I love a good, chilled white wine that's a tad sparkly or a light Rosé.  In the winter, there's nothing better than a rich Pinot Noir with a bowl of hearty stew. 
  • Is the price right?  Good wine should never be inaccessible because of price!  Don't get me wrong, I love a fancy bottle of wine every once in a while, but I drink wine every single day, so I'm always searching for good wines that are in the $8 - $10 per bottle price range.  There are some great ones out there.  I can't wait to share! 
  • Know what you like!  This, of course, is completely subjective, and takes a bit of experimentation.  Everyone has different tastes and preferences.  I know I can rely on a crisp Pinot Grigio in the summer to go with just about everything.  Chardonnays are iffy.  There are a lot of so-so ones, but if you can find a good one, it's very good!  I don't like a lot of heavy tannins, so when choosing reds I look for lighter varieties like Merlot or Grenache, or blends of those.  Knowing what you like makes choosing a wine so much easier.  But don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone from time to time.
  • Champagne goes with everything!  Enough said.
The first bottle of the case that I opened this weekend was a Jacqueline Bahue Rosé.  It's light with just a touch of sweetness and a soft finish.  It pairs well with some of my favourite summertime recipes: Farmers' Market Pasta Primavera, Eggplant and Summer Squash Lasagna, or Roasted Beet and Chicken Sausage Risotto.  I'm so glad that Rosés are making a comeback! In my opinion they're the perfect light, everyday wine.  Not too frou-frou, not too serious, they can be enjoyed with almost everything throughout the year. 

In case you're wondering, the book in the photo is Audrey In Rome, which also makes a very good pairing with this wine.  Especially on a quiet week night after everyone has gone to bed.  Written by her son, Luca, it's a gorgeous collection of never before seen photos of Audrey Hepburn from the 1950s through the 1970s - the twenty years she made Rome her home.  If you're as big of a fan as I am, this is a must read!  Cheers!

*This is part of a series of posts that are dedicated to the wines I love.  I choose wines based on their availability, affordability, and quality.   This is NOT a sponsored post, and I'm in no way receiving compensation.  I simply love to share what I enjoy, and if I don't like it, I wont recommend it!

Monday, August 19

Epic Salmon-Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes

"These potatoes are EPIC!" sang my son, as he scraped the last, heaping bite onto his fork.  That, coming from a potato-hater, is pretty major!  I think it was the salmon that won him over.

The kids went back to school last week and we were all fighting the new routine.  I felt that a classic comfort food meal was in order.  Heavy in carbs, I knew it would calm our frazzled nerves and lull us into the deep sleep of which we'd been deprived.  And nothing says comfort, to me at least, like bacon, potatoes, and cheese.  Lots of it!

Tuesday, August 13

A Summer Symphony & "Chick-Chick" Salad

She wore flowers in her hair, and carried magic secrets in the eyes.
-Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

It's August!  Summer is in full swing, and the flowers stretch their lanky stems toward the morning sky.  In the afternoon they bend and wilt beneath the barrage of August monsoons.  The violent storms and oppressive heat make August in Colorado one of those months you either love or hate. 

Recently, I've been waking early to write.  I'm so inspired by the sound of the birds in the morning.  It's as if they're calling to each other from treetop to treetop - "Did you make it through the storm last night? Did you see that brilliant sunrise?"  - Or perhaps that's just my overactive imagination . . .

Thursday, August 8

To Allergy Parents

In honour of the second anniversary of Pure and Peanut Free, I'm taking a short break from food to give credit where credit's due . . .

Dear Allergy Moms and Dads:

You are the unsung heroes of this generation!  Through your diligence and tireless self-sacrifice you are raising a generation of healthy, well-adjusted, confident food allergic children.  Children who are ready to face the world with a level head and a sense of compassion toward those who may be just a little different, a sense of compassion unseen in previous generations.

You bake cupcakes at midnight for a birthday party the next morning, just in case.  You attend countless meetings with teachers, principals, and nurses at the beginning of every new school year.  You can spell the words anaphylaxis and epinephrine without batting an eye as you fill out endless health forms, 504 plans, and allergy action plans.  You make hundreds of phone calls to hundreds of companies, demanding better ingredient labels.  You hold trembling hands and softly wipe away tears as blood is being drawn.  You rub little backs that sting from skin prick tests, until they hurt no more.  You stroke tiny heads, kiss clammy foreheads, holding them close to your heart in the middle of the night when hives mysteriously erupt.  And sometimes, late at night, you cry.  You cry out in despair.  You cry out in anger.  You cry out in fear; for what does the future hold?  Yet in the morning, you dry your eyes and put on a brave smile - for little eyes will be looking up to you today.

Don't despair, allergy parent!  It's true, when we were children no one had peanut allergies and emergency epinephrine was a thing of suspense movies.  But times have changed, and we march on.  We are raising a generation of pioneers!  I look forward to the day when my children can walk into any restaurant and be handed an allergen menu without a second glance; when nut-free cafés will be found on every street corner, in every town; when all food labels will be standardized, regulated and finally trust-worthy.  We're not there yet, but look how far we've come!  All thanks to you, food allergy parent!

You are at once a bodyguard, a chef, an advocate, a nurse, a parent, and a teacher (often educating those who condescend, who are unwilling to learn or change).  You endure a myriad of eye-rolls, heartless jokes, and meddling in-laws.  Still, you hold your head high.  And because of you, our kids can look forward to a future that is bright and full of sunshine.  A future where food can once again be a source of pleasure rather than fear, and where a food allergy is no longer a source of shame.  A future of hope, where all differences are treated with educated, dignified respect.

Yes, there are days when the road seems too long, and the mountains too high, and you are ever so tired.  There are days when hope begins to fade like the last fleeting rays of the setting sun.  Be encouraged, dear food allergy parent.  The sun will rise again and shine with brilliance on a future that you helped create.  Remember, God will never give you more than you can bear.  He must think very highly of you, allergy parent!  Very highly indeed!

With love, from one food allergy parent to another,


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