The Princess and the Frog

July 30, 2008 at 4:09 pm (Napa Valley)

Once  upon a time,  in a land far away,  a  beautiful, independent,  self-assured  princess                 happened  upon a frog as she sat,  contemplating  ecological issues  on  the shores of an unpolluted pond in  a verdant meadow near her castle.  The frog hopped into the princess’ lap and said: Elegant Lady I was once a handsome prince,  until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.  One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am and then, my sweet, we can marry  and live with my mother,  where you can prepare my meals,  clean my clothes, bear my children and forever feel grateful and happy doing so.                                                                     

That night,  as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sauteed frog legs
seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself:                                                  ” I don’t fucking think so.”

Thanks Kevin!

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The Preacher Man – Cold blooded killer or just a bad driver?

July 29, 2008 at 10:00 am (Napa Valley)

So a scandal has been going on in my hometown for the past four years.  There has been a lot of speculation, there have been some threats, but most of all an entire community has been divided.  It is a sad, sad state of affairs. 

Did the preacher kill the old man for his money, or not…that is the $4 million question. 

Read the attached and let me know what you think…

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I Heart Bocce…more than anything

July 27, 2008 at 6:20 pm (Napa Valley)

So I just played bocce for 4.5 hours.  Yes, that might sound like insane amount of time, but what else do I have to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when the valley truly feels like the garden of Eden. 

And while I do love playing bocce almost more than anything…today’s highlight was finding an Eddie Bauer “Official Rule Book” of Bocce, Croquet, Badminton, Horseshoes, and Volleyball.  And so I thought I would share a little history of bocce for all of those who actually care:

“There are many differnet stories about the origins of bocce, but one thing is certain, it’s old.  Drawings dated as far back as 5200 BC show figures tossing a ball or stone.  Even the early Egyptians are believed to have played a version of the game.  Early Greek physicians advised patients to play bocce as a therapeutic exercise.

The popularity of the game grew throughout Europe to a point in time at which governments feared for the security of the state.  Many people were more interested in playing the game than in defending their nations.  Governments, Kings, and even the Catholic Church officially condemned the sport imposing fines and even imprisonment on those who disobeyed the law.

Despite the international appreciation for the game, bocce was still lacking any central organization thus it was excluded from the first modern Olumpics held in 1896.  France was the first to establish organized leagues followed by Italy.  These two countries together help to garner interest in the sport through the rest of Europe.  The United States first organized competitively during the turn of last century.  The Olumpic Committee is currently considering adding Bocce as a competitive sport.  Possibly with the first demo trial being held during the 2002 Olympic Games.  (Obviously this didn’t happen?)

The object of the game is simply to try and get your ball closest to the Pallino or target ball.  It can be played by individuals of all ages and physical ability, on a court, on the beach or in your backyard.  It is fast becoming one of the most popular games in the United States.  World wide it ranks second as the most participated sport, preceded by soccer and followed by golf.”

Who would have known bocce was such a historical sport that was loved the world over?  I just thought it was us Napa Vallians that loved the game so much because it was a good way to eat, drink, and enjoy the fabulous Napa lifestyle.  Obviously, I had no idea!

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Joanie Loves Bocce – Food you can eat with one hand

July 25, 2008 at 8:20 am (Napa Valley)


The infamous pickle roll-ups

The infamous pickle roll-ups

OMFG – maybe one of the best bocce food nights ever!  We had pigs in a blanket, chicken wings (3 kinds), breakfast sandwiches, and of course I made pickle roll-ups in reverence to my foodie trip in Minneapolis (pickles, cream cheese, pastrami all on one toothpick…how can you go wrong there?)

But, besides the delicious eats it was a rough night of playing because the Joanies only won 1 of 3 games.  Imagine the bitterness of losing two games 11-12 and 11-12.  What was amiss you may ask?  Well, I am pretty sure it was the lack of red jacket wearing.  So the red jackets were donned and imagine the elation in game three as the Joanies spanked the opponents 12-4.  It felt like justice was finally served.

We are still among the top 6 teams of our night.  We will still make the playoffs.  We still are the most snazzy looking team in the history of bocce.

Things could be worse, and James and I did get a Casino…that means another Gold Star for my jacket!

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So much food, So little room

July 23, 2008 at 8:01 am (Napa Valley) ()

So Kevin finally left yesterday…it was a sad, sad day!

Kev, Nat and Britt with Tequila shots

Kev, Nat and Britt with Tequila shots

But, before he left there was a lot of packing big trunks and cleaning out the cupboards and ridding the fridge of food…and guess who was the beneficiary of all the glorious food items…moi!

The problem…I live with 2 other people.  Our fridge and cupboards are already at maximum capacity.  The solution…cramming it all in, even if it means when you open the fridge items fly out at you. 

So when I received an invitation to Malcom’s to greet an Irish couple that was visiting, I was thrilled.  The question was “How much of this stuff can I use in 1 dish?”  I pondered and pondered and finally came up with a dish that would use up:  potatoes, green beans, capers, dijon mustard, red onion, prosciutto, olive oil, and white and red wine vinegar.  Can you guess what the dish was?  

Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad…doesn’t sound too appetizing, but really the people loved it!  Here’s how you make it:

1.  Cook the potatoes in boiling water.  As potatoes cook trim green beans and chop onion.
2.  Blanche the green beans.  As green beans blanch spread prosciutto on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for about 20 minutes.  You want it crispy, but not to burn so keep an eye on it.  Rinse green beans in cold water and then cut into bite size pieces.
3.  Make a vinaigrette with mustard, olive oil, red and white wine vinegar.  Add any sort of herbs.
4.  When potatoes are done, cube into small chunks and put in a bowl.  Add capers, onion, green beans, prosciutto, and dress with dijon vinaigrette.  Wala, a feast without even having to go the the store.

Granted there is still quite a bit of food still left even though I used all of those items, so I will make something else up tomorrow and use my bocce team as guinea pigs.  I’m sure they can’t wait!

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July 16, 2008 at 7:48 am (Napa Valley) (, )

There are only five days left until Kevin leaves the Napa Valley to return to his beloved New York City – the city that never sleeps.  It is a sad, sad time.  He only visitsfor 2 months each summer, but those two months are full of so much laughter that when he leaves it seems like summer immediately ends and fall begins. 

I love when Kevin is here because we cook.  We sit on the porch.  We listen to show tunes…there are thousands of gallons of Sauvignon Blanc consumed.  Sometimes if we are really lucky Kevin will dance a little jig to Liza Minelli.

But, before I get any sappier…which could be hard…Kevin hasn’t left yet so we got to enjoy a wonderful evening with him last night.  The theme was Sandra Lee…semi-homemade!  It was a simple meal consisting of basic ingredients that were in the fridge and needed to be used.  But, of course there was a little bit of Napa Valley spin on it!

The meal in simple terms consisted of Chicken, Potatoes, Asparagus…

But, in reality the feast we made consisted of this:

The Recipe

The Recipe

Parmesan Chicken
Now before I actually give the preparation of the chicken you should know one thing – I detest mayonnaise.  Yes, I pretty much can’t even look at the substance.  So when Kevin pulled out the mayo jar and grinned and said we were making the recipe for chicken on the back…I was a little disturbed.  But, I went with it considering that is what the host had chosen for the main course.  And I am glad I went out on that limb.  The chicken was delicious…the mayo-parm-bread crumb mixture gave it a perfect topping that kept it succulent and juicy.

Here is what you will need:
3-4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 C Mayo
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese (not the kind that comes in a plastic canister, the real deal from Italy)
4 T Bread Crumbs (not nasty store bought ones, but homemade)
Dash of Dried Herbs
Dash of Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper the chicken.  In a bowl mix together the mayo, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle in herbs (we used Thyme and Oregano) and a dash or two of Cayenne Pepper.  Spread the mayo mixture over the chicken.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  Halfway through add the asparagus to the roasting pan.

Kevin’s Sassy Potatoes
So this is a combination of two things…leftover potatoes from the night before and something from scratch.  I am going to combine them so it will be a little easier if you want to try these at home.  And believe me, you do!  These were maybe some of the best potatoes I have ever had, and at this stage in my life, there has been a lot of potato consumption.

You will need:
3 potatoes
Jar of Horseradish
Sour Cream
1 Onion, thinly sliced
3 pieces of bacon

Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible.  Place 1 layer of potatoes in a buttered dish.  Pour a little cream over the potatoes.  Dot the potatoes with Horseradish.  Salt and Pepper.  Another layer of potatoes, and dot again with Horseradish.  Then dot with some sour cream.  Cover potatoes and cook at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile while potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon and caramelize the onions.  Halfway through the potatoes cooking time top the potatoes with the onions and bacon and cook the remainder of time.  Seriously, make these things, they are divine!

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Joanie Loves Bocce – It’s too damn HOT to Cook

July 14, 2008 at 10:38 am (Napa Valley)

So we all know that bocce is a social sport.  It is played for fun while we sip wine and nibble on tasty treats.  But, for some of us we like to win.  And losing to a team that knocked us out of 1st place last fall just doesn’t quite sit well.

Bocce was INTENSE this week.  And I will actually admit, wasn’t so much fun…I definitely had some anxiety while playing.

First game – lost 12-8.  We were ahead 8-2 and somehow just couldn’t get any points.

Second game – lost 12-11.  The was extremely painful considering we had them at 11-9 and just couldn’t pull it together.

Game three – won 12-10.  Thanks to Spencie and James and Kevin and Tom.  They should get 5 stars apiece for pulling this one off!

The one redeeming thing about bocce this week was the Helen Jane came with my new little friend Nora Lea.  She is a huge Joanie fan and will grow up to be a great bocce player like her mom and dad.

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The Food Whores

July 9, 2008 at 12:45 pm (Napa Valley)

On one of the hottest days in 2008 the Food Whores officially began their journey.  Theirs is a journey that not everyone is cut out for because 1)  you must love food.  Love it so much that you not only eat it, but think about it and talk about it.  And 2)  you must be curious.  Willing to try new things and share the unexpected.  This is not the journey for those that prefer meat and potatoes.  This is for the adventurous, the ones who will rise to the occasion.

What are the Food Whores, you may be asking?  And I can say that the Food Whores are a group of girls who are so obsessed with food that they decided to form a Cookbook Club.  Together they will explore one cookbook at a time, sharing the cooking experience as well as the food.  There will be wine, there will be laughter, and there will be lots of full tummies.

First dinner is August 6 – should be delicious!  Keep ya posted.

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Joanie Loves Bocce – Trailer Park Extravaganza

July 6, 2008 at 12:18 pm (Napa Valley)

One of my favorite themes…ever!  But, seriously what’s not to like…

…sloppy joe’s, onion dip, Dr. Pepper Salad…this is rich!  All sorts of fun treats to soak up the booze while we roll the balls.

But, besides the fab food the Joanie’s won all three games.  I think we might have solidified are spot in the playoffs.  Yippee!  The Hone Dogs  better watch out!

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A tribute to Delbert on his 80th

July 1, 2008 at 9:19 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Grandpa and the Grandkids (some of them)

Grandpa and the Grandkids (some of them)

This weekend I went to Bass Lake to celebrate my grandpa Delbert’s 80th birthday. 

He is the kind of grandpa that tells bawdy jokes and has nicknames for all of his grandchildren (and now great grandchildren).  I grew up being called Dawiloh (dah-wee-low) – who knows what it means or how to spell it, but everytime I hear it a huge smile lights up my face. 

Grandpa Delbert has lived and loved.  He has been married to Grandma Peggy, raised 4 children, and watched his children raise 7 grandchildren.  Now he even has two great grandchildren.  His friends adore him and he is famous around Bass Lake for telling his jokes and building/fixing boat engines.

So in tribute to my Grandpa who has 80 years under his belt, I have made a list of some of the things I want to accomplish in the next 50 years of my life.  In my next 50 years I want to:

learn to speak spanish
live in another country
throw a Marie Antoinette-themed party
travel the world
eat at the French Laundrey
eat at El Bulli
plant my own garden
fall in love
write a book
raft down the Colorado river
be in Rio de Janeiro for Carnival
make my own wine
and I could go on, but how boring! 

Quite a list, but I do have some time…I will be 80 in 50 years, making it the year 2058.  Half of the 21st Century will have evolved, and who knows what will have happened by then.  Having the first African American president will be a milestone well passed.

So I raise my glass of Early Times on the rocks to Delbert.  May he have many more birthdays to share with family and friends!

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