Fancy Food Work

A few nights ago we had friends over.   They had purchased a lovely bottle of wine whilst vacationing in Italy, hand carried it all the way back to the USofA, and left it with us to share with them at some point.

The wine, from the Montalcino region of Italy is a Sangiovese, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.

Lemartine says this about their wine –

IMG_1639Winemaker Notes

Lemartine has a distinctive richness combined with a classic elegance. It is a hearty, rich and elegant wine. The black and red berry fruits integrate to enhance a beautiful structure and firm, yet never aggressive tannins. Its generosity delivers minerality, intense fruit flavors and hints of leather, spices and black licorice.

In Lemartine, the Brunello grape still plays the lead role, as it does in all Poggio Antico wines, but here it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot (planted back in 1997 and 2003 respectively). These three varietals, rigorously and exclusively estate grown at 420 meters altitude, refine separately in small French oak barrels of varied toasts. On the day they are blended together, they become Lemartine. Prior to release, the wine enjoys a further refinement in the bottle for at least four months.

Ok, so why the background on the wine?   I needed to pair a meal to this wine.  And not just a meal, but a sort of special meal, befitting the wine.

We started the evening with a Vouvray paired with a butter bean spread.

Butter Bean Spread

  • 1can butter beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 med Onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper as desired

I started by sautéing the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, then dumped that, the beans, the tahini, about 3 tblsps olive oil a pinch of salt, and a bigger pinch of coarse ground black pepper into my food processor.  I puréed til quite smooth.  Uncover, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and olive oil as desired.

I served this with some whole grain crostini I toasted earlier in the day.

Dinner was a

Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup.

  • 1/2 med Onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 lg cauliflower
  • 2-3 c vegetable broth
  • Curry powder, how much you use will be up to your preferences.
  • Garbanzo flour
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper as desired

I started by sautéing the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil.  I then added about 2 cups vegetable broth and 1/3 of a lg cauliflower coarsely chopped.  I let this simmer till the cauliflower was soft.

I added a pinch of salt, and a bigger pinch of coarse ground black pepper, and a tablespoon of a fabulous curry powder that I can’t remember the name of; it was a gift from Cliff and Alison from Merida.

All this then went in to the food processor with about 3 tblsps of garbanzo flour.  This was puréed and extra veg broth was added to get to desired consistency.  For plating, a large scoop in the bowl, topped with  toasted cashews, and I used fennel fronds for garnish.

Note:  using garbanzo flour as a thickener and to give a creamy taste and feel is something I learned whilst in Italy, in Lucca I believe.

It was really good.

And then a Stuffed Roasted Eggplant

I took inspiration from a recipe I saw online in Food and Wine

  • I used 2 medium purple eggplants, washed, ends cut off and split in half.
  • 2 tblsp miso and 2 tblsp mirin all mixed together the set the cut sides of the in a pan with the liquid to marinate.
  • While that was happening I rough chopped
  • 1 med onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 8-10 baby bella mushrooms
  • About 1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • this stuff was then drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted(roughly 400f for about 20 minutes

The eggplant was also roasted about the same amount of time.

Once the veg mix was close to done I drizzled it with balsamic vinegar and let the acid burn off in the oven.

The eggplant was served over a Mushroom Orzo.

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, I boil water and cover the porcinis to hydrate.

About 5 baby bella mushrooms, sliced

So I put about 2 c veg broth, and the porcini liquid, as well as the mushrooms on a medium heat, bring to boil, add about 3/4 c orzo and let cook.

Then, to serve, I placed an amount of mushroom orzo on the plate and spread 4-5 inches, then set the 1/2 eggplant on that, finally spoon on the roasted veg mix.

This is then garnished with chopped mint, sliced spring onion, and toasted sesame seed.


and of course I completely neglected a dessert.  I seem to be pretty consistent on forgetting about dessert.

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I’m down

I have / had a down pillow.  It was my own personal pillow. I modified my pillow by removing 2/3 of the feathers, years and years ago.  I traveled with my pillow. I loved my pillow. I will miss my pillow.

I have, not with great regularity, washed my pillow, it has always worked quite well:  Fresh, clean, and fluffy.

Not today – today my pillow exploded, do you have any idea what that much down does to a washer, and everything else that was in it.   OMG, I hope you never find out. And the dryer…after much shaking I placed a few pieces in the dryer,   gads, it was a rain storm of feathers outside of the dryer escape vent.


Guess I need to pillow shop –


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We love to travel.  We also love having and being in a comfortable home.

We returned to the USofA June 2016 after living in Mexico since January of 2006.

Prior to our retirements, (we opted to retire very early, in our 50’s) we traveled mostly within the USofA, except for yearly dive trips to Mexico and Central America.

In 2004 we did travel to France for our first European Adventure.

We’ve now also traveled to Spain, Portugal, and Italy.  I do love travel, and I do love European travel.

Mostly since returning we’ve only traveled between Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
We are ready and planning our next European adventure.

Great Britain

I was getting ready to go back to Merida to visit friends, and discovered my passport expires in July.  Just FYI – many, if not all airlines require more than 6 months remaining on your passport to let you fly.  As far as I can tell this is not a government rule, but an airline rule.

So no visit – My passport is enroute  to renewal center which estimates 4-6 weeks for processing.  And it now costs $110.00 usd for renewal. Crikeys!

Anyway, planning has started – for how long, what major areas, must see/do recommendations, …

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

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Gardening in Richmond

At the house on Midlothian Turnpike I had put in several temporary style raised beds for veggies and herbs.  They were doing very well and we were getting lots of tasty fresh goodies; spinach, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, chard, and herbs.


We even had this beautiful sunflower come up.  I didn’t plant it but can thank the birds for it.  And of course it is the birds who are now harvesting the seeds.IMG_0803


This is how I decided to do the herbs.  Just filled the voids in some cinder blocks and arranged them in a zipper pattern.IMG_0805


How was I to know just how easy it was to move the herbs.   I just lifted the blocks and scooped up the rectangle of earth, root, and herb and placed it in a pot.

It was really easy – and the herbs transitioned very easily.  They’ve been doing very well in the pots but I knew I needed to get them in the ground before too very long so they could establish to make it through the winter.

When we moved into the Archdale house there was a play area in the back yard that included a wooden playset.



This area seemed just right for a garden.  A bit shadier than I would like, but … Anyway, we gave away the playset, and I set out to plant the herbs the other day – Me, pots of herbs, gloves, and trusty shovel. Holey Moley.  I couldn’t do it.  I called Tom for help – he gave up and we went to Lowes and bought a pick ax.

Yep, Virginia’s notorious red clay, well sort of a yellowish/gold clay.   Gads and I thought the limestone of Merida was tough.

Well we finally got enough holes done for the herbs, and here they will stay till Spring.   I am definitely going to need a roto-tiller, sure hope to rent one rather than buy.


Posted in Everyday Stuff, gardening in Richmond, life in Richmond | Tagged | 2 Comments

the house, as staged for sale!

OK these are the photos from the realtors page of the house we bought.  As you can imagine, I am doing my best to “Debify” the house.

I have not yet started painting any rooms, but am adding color using area rugs, and throws.  We’ve not bought much furniture yet,  just a guest bed, and a couple chairs.


1 2909 front

front view

2 front hallway

front entry, looking to exit through front door.3 front entry

looking from front door  in to living room on left, and kitchen straight ahead.  To the right are bedrooms, and bathrooms, as well as stairwell to downstairs.4 living room

Living room5 living room2

other direction view of Living Room6 dining room

Dining Room7 dr view

Dining room alternate direction8 kitchen

kitchen, oh yes, I am in heaven!

9 kitchen2

Kitchen looking towards Dining Room.  Doorway on Right goes to screened in Porch.11 bedroomsEnd of hallway looking into bedrooms and hall bathroom

12 HallBath

Hall Bathroom

13 Master Bath

Master Bath14 MBr

Master Bedroom with his n hers closets, although Tom uses both closets.  I have a separate dressing room.15 BR1

This is now my ‘craft room’16 BR2

this is my dressing room17 BR3this is the guest room18 screened porch

the screened in back porch, the dogs and I love this area.20 downstairs hall

The steps and hallway downstairs23 downstairs greatroom

the downstairs, aka family room, aka man cave24 downstairs greatroom2

downstairs from other angle25 garage

garage, the prius, and both motorcycles fir in here26 backyard

backyard27 backview

back view of house28 sideview garage

side of house with garage entry.

Posted in Archdale House, Everyday Stuff, life in Richmond | 7 Comments


5.6, that’s how far we’ve moved, yep, 5.6 miles.

We closed on the house 14 August, and immediately started moving stuff over.  We did it all ourselves until the following weekend when Tom rented a truck, and hired 2 guys to do the really heavy stuff; 2 couches, a front loading washer, 2 big work tables, 2 desks, a trunk, and 4 dressers.

1 2909 front

We’ve been crazy busy getting things done since then.  We are pretty comfy now.  I just ordered vertical blinds for the upstairs living room.   We have a large space downstairs that will be family room/man cave.  Once we get to it all Tom wants a monster size TV.  Right now our little 31? incher is upstairs.

I don’t like having a TV in the area where we entertain and spend most of our time.  Mostly because I am/or could become a major league couch potato.  I love TV, for the movies.  I have a ton of dvds that I could happily watch over and over.  And now we have Netflix and I find myself binging on British series TV shows.

I have intended so many times to sit and blog about the house, the move, etc, but am either legitimately busy with something constructive, or watching TV.

The house we moved into when we arrived here in Richmond from Mexico was/is small.

It was purchased so that we had someplace to land with 3 dogs.  The available rentals were a horror.  here is the house


Tom and I are both extremely happy with this new house – it has everything that was on our wish list, other than location.  It is close to shopping, close to the river, but none of that is walkable, all must be driven to – I am adjusting to that.

We are still in the City of Richmond, we are however in ‘the burbs’.  From the first house (pictured directly above) I could walk to the river trails, and into both downtown historic, and downtown business.  Now I must drive, 15-25 minutes to downtown, depending on traffic, and 5-7 to wooded walking trails.

When we looked at this house the first time, although I really liked the house I told Tom NO WAY.  I do not want to live so far out in the boonies.   Unfortunately you can’t always get what you want.  We looked at, online, more than 70 houses, and actually went to about 25.  We put in several bids, you heard me ‘bids’, not offers.  And we were outbid on each.

It is expensive to live here in Richmond.  So to get what we wanted in terms of house, required we give up a bit on location.  I used to believe the old adage of Location, Location, Location; I don’t anymore, because included in that is what you want, and what you can/will spend.

So enough for now, and more on the new house later!


Posted in Everyday Stuff, life in Richmond, moving, Richmond, Richmond Life, rva | 10 Comments

This Old House

This old house, which really isn’t all that old, just a year or two older than me!

One of the things I decided to do, and have sort of done, is to have fun with this house.  Not to worry about convention and stereotypes.

Many of you may not know, but once upon a time, in a place far far away, and in a different life I worked in Interior Design.  I was great at creating environments for other people.  I could figure out what they wanted and deliver that to them.

I was no good at doing that for myself.  I think part of it was never knowing quite who I was or what I wanted to be.  Still not sure I’ve figured all that out.

So I decided when I started working on this house to just have fun with it.  And I have.  I really enjoy the space and the colors and whimsical eclectic feel of it.

So the other week I was in a thrift store and I saw this adorable wall shelf – I actually passed on it, then rethought and turned back for it. 

Two young millennial types were handling it, O M G. 

Finally they put it down and I snatched it.



So look at this tag on the back, then notice the tiny Made in China sticker. 

I must say I get huge chuckles from this alone.


But then again I also get pleasure now, seeing it on the wall in my dining room.


Posted in Around my Home, Everyday Stuff | Tagged | 4 Comments