A Fond Farewell

The The “Southern Picnic” themed table at my retirement celebration

A co-worker asked if the Retirement Reception that was organized in my honor was blog worthy. At the time, I didn’t know how to respond because I knew she was speaking about the quality of the food that had been prepared. Since my foodie tendencies are well known throughout my department at a very  service oriented Navy facility that day in and day out does an outstanding job of supporting our war fighters at sea, the” party planners” for this event had paid particular attention to food quality and décor. As I came home after experiencing such a truly lovely outpouring of affection I knew I indeed needed to include this extraordinary event in my blog. The food was outstanding but that is not the point of this blog post. The fact that a wonderful group of co workers went out of their way to give me a retirement sendoff  with every nuance of my personality considered is what makes the occasion “blog worthy” (for you, Andrea).

Just part of the tablescape at my retirement reception Just part of the tablescape at my retirement reception
The Glorious Cupcakes served at my retirement reception at work The Glorious Cupcakes served at my retirement reception at work

Not to be out done, my sweet daughter with help from the rest of the family had planned a big retirement bash at Vintage (read my post “Thanksgiving at Vintage” to learn more about this magical place) where long time friends and close co-workers were invited to celebrate MY “Independence Day”.  As the guest of honor, I contributed very little to the affair only making the family Shrimp Spread and a couple of other bites to pass. The rest of the menu was squarely the responsibility of my incredibly talented girl. The Party should’ve been covered by our favorite magazine, Southern Living! From Ham Biscuits and Chicken Tenders with Alabama White Sauce to Market Potato Salad and Gazebo Room Pasta Salad, from Pimento Cheese and Mommy and Mamie’s Cheese Ball, from Spiked Blackberry Basil Lemonade to Troeg’s Sunshine Pils and everything in between……….this get together was fantastic!

The cake , fruit and candy bar at my Independence Day celebration The cake , fruit and candy bar at my Independence Day celebration

Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate- Alan D. Wolfelt

Thanks ever so Jen, Jill, Nikki, Andrea, Jason, Amy and Kay.

I love you all- Mamie, Austin, Pat, Jamie, Mom and Dad, Rick, Laura, Cloey (Nick of course too) and Hailey.


Time in New England took Me Away to……..

The rocky beach of Kittery Maine

The rocky beach of Kittery Maine


Before I get into my musing, let’s have a little interactive play- Who can take the title of this blog post, finish it to complete the first line of a song from the 1970s and name the artist? (hint-the picture above is a good clue and my guess is you’ll only know it if you were a teenage girl of the era and like me, might’ve sung it a hundred times or so while looking in your bedroom mirror using your hairbrush as a microphone!) It’s easy to leave a comment so don’t be shy. Now on with the show………

I will be ever grateful to Steve and Gina for inviting us to their wedding in Portsmouth New Hampshire over Memorial Day Weekend. Due to that invite, I was able to visit 2 States I had never been to (New Hampshire and Maine) AND feast upon food I’ll likely won’t forget for a long, long time. What an absolutely wonderful 5 day extended weekend my husband and I enjoyed! Do you realize driving from our area in PA to NH (and a 3 mile cross over to ME) you touch 7 States? (PA, NY,NJ,CT,MA,NH and ME).

This post could be far too lengthy so I’m just going to highlight a few of the great meals we had on this trip:

Montville Inn, Montville New Jersey- The plan had been to leave early enough to visit a Connecticut Winery before arriving at our first night destination. My pokey husband took a winery visit off the table with our delayed departure so we played one of my favorite games of Luncheon Roulette. We ended up at the darling Montville Inn. I had the lunch special of a Broccoli Frittata which was delicious and creatively plated with the side salad atop the egg creation. Ladies, I have never ever given this recommendation before, but when dining at the Montville in make sure to use the Ladies Room……it’s got two outstanding features! I’ve said enough. Just go if you’re ever close to Montville New Jersey.http://www.themontvilleinn.com

Piccolo Arancio, Farmington CT- We spent the night en route to Portsmouth at the ever so quaint Farmington Inn.  Although well worth the cost for a single night stay, the Inn doesn’t have a Restaurant/Lounge but thankfully is just the width of a parking lot away from the very delicious Piccolo Arancio. http://piccoloarancio.com , http://www.farmingtoninn.com

When we made are way to New Hampshire, things got serious.

Behold! A succulent Lobster Roll from Petey's in Rye, New Hampshire

Behold! A succulent Lobster Roll from Petey’s in Rye, New Hampshire

Petey’s Rye, NH- An acquaintance of my husband recommended Petey’s and I had a hankering (yes, KLS that’s for you) to have my first ever Lobster Roll. Let me tell you, Petey’s did not disappoint! On the advise of our super friendly server, I got the jumbo-sized roll that was packed with gigantic pieces of succulent Lobster. Not to be outdone, the Mister ordered the award winning Clam Chowder and then put in a 2nd order for the Seafood Chowder! We were there for a late lunch, but the place was hopping with locals and visitors alike. http://www.peteys.com

The Library Restaurant in Portsmouth NH

The Library Restaurant in Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth New Hampshire is just a great destination! We enjoyed the wedding we attended immensely and our extra time visiting the area was filled with fabulous scenery and delicious eating. One of my favorite restaurants we visited was The Library. If you’re a Martini drinker like me, this place is a must……over 120 different Vodkas! The atmosphere was superb with its shining wood and old books everywhere. I was especially fond of the salad that I ordered and plan to duplicate at home-lettuce, chopped Giardiniera and a light creamy dressing. http://libraryrestaurant.com/

Before heading for home, we just had to pop over (3 short miles) to Kittery Maine just to add another State to our repertoire. The good and bad was that we ate Brunch a perfectly wonderful place called Anneke Jans BUT this particular Sunday happened to be their last brunch until Fall(or maybe forever!). We made ourselves Bloody Marys for the do-it-yourself bar. Their version of Eggs Benedict was tremendous. Rest assured, this bistro is open for dinner 7 nights a week and as a loyal facebook follower, I’d say the meals at Anneke Jans don’t disappoint. There’s a story about the name of the Bistro that can be found on the internet, but you’ll have to visit the restaurant to find out the connection!http://annekejans.net

A delicious version of Eggs Benedict at the charming Anneke Jans in Kittery Maine

A delicious version of Eggs Benedict at the charming Anneke Jans in Kittery Maine

After spending the night along the way just to spread out our journey home, we made one last stop to dine. Enter the Haags Hotel. What a great find! This old-timey establishment with quirky décor boasts of homemade Amish Cooking PLUS it has a bar! I had a Pumpkin Chowder that was luscious and we shared Pierogies with Garlic Butter which were uhmm,decadent. If you’re ever around Shartlesville PA. , stop by, it’s a fun place. http://www.haagshotel.com

There you have it, a wonderful 5-dayer that included some great eating. I’d love to hear about your thoughts. Please provide comments if you’re so inclined.

The eclectic Haags Hotel!

The eclectic Haags Hotel!

Districtly inclined to Dine

Springtime at Dumbarton Oaks

Springtime at Dumbarton Oaks

 Recently I got to participate in one of my favorite activities……. Mommy-Daughter Birthday Weekend! This year we deviated from the norm of winery visits and meals in some of the charming towns of Virginia and instead opted for a “staycation” in the District of Columbia ( my daughter’s place of residence). The thought was save bucks on lodging and thus have more for eating and boozing. With this theory in mind, my daughter was responsible for two very important facets of our weekend: 1. Get her apartment in a suitable state to receive a visitor as distinguished as her Mother and 2. Make the dinner/brunch reservations. Truth be told, my sweet girl failed miserably at # 1 but more than made up for it by planning a whirlwind of restaurant and garden activities that were perfect for us! 

Friday: Union Market and the National Arboretum ( R-boar-E-tum) by day, Komi by night 

Union Market http://unionmarketdc.com was a perfect choice for lunch. While the market has some produce, meat and seafood, the space is taken up primarily by an eclectic collection of restaurant stands. The choices are varied and all include an option of beer or wine. We settled on sandwiches from Red Apron Butchery http://www.redapronbutchery.com mine being a Choripan (a sandwich made of Chorizo, Avocado, Smoked Chimichurri and Pickled Onions) which was delicious washed down with a chilled Lambrusco. After a thorough walk-thru of the rest of the market and a purchase or two, we set out for our afternoon destination: the National Arboretum http://www.usna.usda.gov.

The grounds at the Arboretum are quite lovely and the Bonsai Collection is truly magnificent. What’s most impressive is the cost for the experience…..$0! (thankfully, given what came next!)

One of my favorites in the Bonsai Collection

One of my favorites in the Bonsai Collection

KOMI-What can I say? As the subtitle of my blog indicates, I am definitely NOT in the 1%! That being said, Komi and restaurants like it, are a once a year experience for me and  company limited to one other companion. Every dollar spent was well worth it though because dining at Komi http://komirestaurant.com/ is an adventure rather than a meal. When first seated, our very attentive server asked if we wanted to see the menu beforehand or just be surprised with each offering. We chose the latter and also opted for the wine pairing which adds a whole other dimension to the experience. Picture taking is frowned upon so I have none to offer but let me just say the presentation was magnificent and the flavors divine. Foodies only for this trip…… two tastings, two wine pairings, DC tax and an appropriate tip took this bill to in excess of $500.

Saturday: the Flower and Garden Festival in Leesburg VA and dinner at Le Diplomate

After spending a perfectly lovely afternoon at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival, we returned to the District to get ready for our evening culinary activities. First up was a stop for cocktails. I felt immediately transformed as we left the bustling city street to enter the cool, sleek basement establishment of 2 Birds 1 Stone http://2birds1stonedc.com/. Here, your cocktail is truly handcrafted and will be served in vintage glassware. I enjoyed two (yes, two) perfectly created Gimlets, while my daughter opted for the very appropriate Mamie Taylor first time around and then a Bourbon concoction (of dark liquors I’m not a fan).

A Fine Drinking Establishment

A Fine Drinking Establishment

Dinner at Le Diplomate http://lediplomatedc.com was next. This venue is the first Steven Starr creation located in DC. It’s probably no surprise that it’s fashioned after a crowded French Bistro. The place was hoppin’ but that didn’t take away from the exceptional service and flavorful dishes we received. My Steak Au Poivre was delicious and the Potatoes au gratin were decadent. I would definitely go again if only for the incredible little Lemon Cake bites we got at the end of the meal!

Sunday- Brunch for 4 and Dumbarton Oaks

My son and his lady-love were able (I should say invited) to join us for Brunch at Fiola Mare http://www.fiolamaredc.com along the waterfront in Georgetown. After a rocky start, that was quickly resolved once the manager  intervened (thanks Elizabeth) we all had an absolutely wonderful brunch. The ladies (3 of us mind you) chose the Brunch special which included choices for 3 courses and bottomless cocktails of Mimosas, Bellinis or Sangria. My first course of Smoked Salmon Piadina was sublime and more than enough to share with my son. My second course was a take on Eggs Benedict, however the Rosemary Hollandaise made it extra special. Brunch at Fiola Mare is great especially if you reserve early enough to get a seat on the Veranda.

After Brunch we went to the a favorite place of mine…..the Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks http://www.doaks.org. Atop the hill of Georgetown, DO is just beautiful in any season (I’ll admit, I haven’t been in winter) and is well worth the admission of $10.

As always, Mommy-Daughter weekend was one to cherish. I couldn’t imagine sharing a birthday with anyone else but my sweet girl.

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” — Julia Child


A Food Frolic

A Lettuce Centerpiece confirmed we were having a Springtime Brunch indeed

A Lettuce Centerpiece confirmed we were having a Springtime Brunch indeed

Last weekend my adult children (I call them the DC Contingent) came from our Nation’s Capital to partake in what I dubbed as our “Spring Frolic Weekend”. We kicked everything off on Friday evening by meeting in the booming (not) town of Biglerville PA. It is there that you’ll find a gem of a restaurant called Fidler and Company Craft Kitchen (http://www.fidlerandcompany.com). My kids have been raised at my hand so needless to say they, too, have Foodie-like tendencies and fortunately Fidler’s fit the bill for our reunion. I’ve been there once before for brunch and dinner. The past dinner experience, while delicious, was somewhat disappointing in that I was told AFTER I ordered the Pork Belly and Kimchi Pizza that they were out of dough. I had tried thwarting the same situation this time by providing a veiled threat in my email reservation request ……”you better have pizza dough this time”. Unbelievably, one of the first snippets of information our server gave us when we settled  at our table is that they were out of pizza dough! Did I just hear that? Fortunately and not a second too soon one of the Fidler brothers (Dan, I believe) came over to greet us and told me he had held back enough dough to make two pizzas for us. Saints be Praised! We ordered the Pork and Kimchi Pizza that I was cheated out of last time and in a stroke of good fortune we were able to enjoy the special pizza of the evening……..thinly sliced beets, sautéed spinach (or maybe arugula, I forget), goat cheese and horseradish cream-yum! More appetizers followed as my son (credited with the photo below) and daughter both ordered the impressive and tasty Steak Tartar. The presentation was outstanding as the server lifted a glass filled with smoke from the steak and quail egg once the plate was placed. My Entrée was the Duck Salad which was fabulous, while my husband ordered the Swordfish Special that was delightfully prepared.

Impressive Steak Tartar after the smoke has been lifted

Impressive Steak Tartar after the smoke has been lifted

We split up among the girls and the boys on Saturday. The girls continued with the Food Frolic theme by lunching at Garryowen Irish Pub (http://garryowenirishpub.net) in Gettysburg. I been to the Pub once or twice for a beer, but this was the first time I had eaten there. I was more than pleased with my Salmon Roulade Salad. The Pub is in an old Civil War era home so the eating areas are broken down into a variety of rooms. The room we ate in was recently opened and very charming in décor. I definitely would go back for lunch or dinner. After lunch we visited our “go to” place near Gettysburg if the weather is halfway decent…. Hauser Estate Winery (http://hauserestate.com). The view from the Tasting Room is beyond compare and the wine is more than drinkable. Since we had just had lunch, we chose not to get cheese with our tasting or glass, but believe me you’ll want to try the Bay Cheddar from Conebella Farm….it’s great! (http://conebellafarm.com)

The dressing served with this salad compliments perfectly. That's crab rolled in the smoked salmon!

The dressing served with this salad compliments perfectly. That’s crab rolled in the smoked salmon!


The Main Food Frolic Event occurred on Sunday at Brunch hosted by none other than yours truly. As always, I had spent the better part of the week prior (when I wasn’t at my real job, of course) planning and prepping. What fun I had preparing the Spring Menu and Tablescape! I have to give a shout out to Dave and Rachel who operate the best flower shop ever , The Whimsical Poppy (http://thewhimsicalpoppy.com), for having beautiful Lettuce Planters again this year!

The Menu:

Homemade Corned Beef Hash- a recipe I saved from Southern Living years ago. I roast the Brisket a few days before and then chop with the potatoes and pepper. Believe it or not, a bit of nutmeg makes all the difference.

Oven Roasted Bacon- the best way to cook a lot of bacon in my opinion. Just set raw bacon on a rimmed baking sheet covered with crinkled foil, place in the oven THEN set the temperature for 400* and walk away for about 20 minutes.

My Heavenly Chicken Salad with Lettuce wraps

Deviled Eggs

Spring Vegetables with Warm Vinaigrette – recipe in the April edition Food Network Magazine on page 118

Pimento Cheese in Cucumber Cups- from the new cookbook “Lighten Up Y’all” . This cookbook is really great. I love the photography and the author, Virginia Willis, has done a grand job of slimming down many Southern Comfort Food recipes. (http://virginiawillis.com)

White Cupcakes with Creamy Frosting- No kidding, I made the best cupcakes using Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake Mix. Without added preservatives and artificial flavorings, this mix creates a cake to rival traditional wedding cakes. Likewise, I tried Duff’s (the Ace of Cakes) canned White Creamy Frosting and had to keep reminding myself I didn’t make it from scratch. Both products can be found at your neighborhood grocery store.

There you have it. By 2:00 pm the DC contingent and my lovely parents were on the way to their homes, my husband settled in to read the Sunday paper and I started the process of cleaning up all the while reminding myself that this is what I love to do.

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire

The MAE-AB (may ab)Guide to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Coaching in Sweaters is a No-No

Coaching in Sweaters is a No-No

Now here's a stylish Coach

Now here’s a stylish Coach


This guide or method if you will to viewing the Madness that comes in March by way of NCAA Basketball you’ll find nowhere else. It’s a nonsensical approach that has nothing to do with brackets, basketball acumen or gut feelings. Instead, the MAE-AB method gives the viewer specific points of observation, much like a scavenger hunt, that makes B-ball watching enjoyable for everyone from the College Hoops Fanatic (guilty) to the poor soul who’s forced to watch with a loved one. What makes the MAE-AB method even more remarkable is that it provides all the tools you’ll need to determine without a doubt which team should win each and every game! As a testimonial, I’ve used this method for years and have NEVER been unable to conclude who should win ….it works I tell you!

I don’t usually keep score, but since you’re new to this method you may want to try out the unusual scorekeeping associated the MAE-AB Method. Each team starts out with 50 X’s and 50 O’s. A team cannot earn any additional X’s or O’s, but they can surely lose them. X’s are worth double the amount of an 0. Let’s get to the X’s and O’s shall we?-

Most Important Observation Point: The Coach

You’ve got to get on this one right away, preferably before the game begins.

Attire: Any Head Coach worth his paycheck wears a coat and tie to games. The most-snazziest of dressers incorporate their school colors in subtle ways, perhaps in the tie or suspenders. Entire suits in the school colors can be distracting especially if those colors aren’t black, navy or gray. For instance, Roy Williams of UNC should be docked an X or two….Carolina Blue Plaid just goes too far. Jim Larranaga at Miami knows how to dress for his coaching duties and if fact easily made the transition from George Mason to Miami in terms of incorporating school color in his ensemble. Observation of the Coat and Tie Coach doesn’t stop at the beginning of the game. You have to pay close attention to when the coat actually comes off. Is at the beginning of the game? When the game gets close? Does he make it to half time? Is it back on in the 2nd half? So many things to consider and luckily you can dock Xs/Os however you see fit. I personally like it when the Coach makes a statement like calling a timeout and then dramatically taking the coat off and maybe even loosens the tie. If the game isn’t close, I say just keep your clothing on. Sweaters in school color should never be worn as game attire and if done so, Xs/Os should be docked at the fullest extent possible in accordance with the non-existent rules. The worst ever is an entire coaching staff in the same sweater…Ugh. Bright Red is appallin  and Orange is just plain disgusting. Sweat Suits should be reserved for practice only (WV) and any coach caught wearing one to his game should forfeit all his teams’s Xs/Os. Way to go Coach!

Name: I realize D-1 Coaches aren’t the same as Hollywood celebrities who change their names for professional reasons. Some Coaches were given names that lend themselves perfectly to their chosen profession. Listen carefully to the Coaches name and how it looks in print. Listen, too, how the announcers treat the name. One of the best active Coach’s name out there is VCU’s Shaka Smart. Oh my, what a great name (good coach too IMHO). Interesting fact, Shaka was named after a Zulu Warrior according to Wikipedia. The great Dean Smith had a perfect first name as a Coach at an Academic Institution. He surely was the “Dean” of College Basketball and what better way to honor his name than the construction of the “Dean Dome”. Fortunately for the MAE-AB Method, some weren’t lucky enough to be given good Coaching names. Names you might consider as poor Coach’s names participating in the Tournament this year are Thad Matta (yes, I do like to pick on OSU), Tony Bennett (I think we all know who comes to mind first) and Bryce Drew (it sounds like the beginning of a sentence). Feel free to decide for yourself what makes a good Coaching name and what doesn’t…just make sure to dock X’s and O’s accordingly.

Second Most Important Observation Point: The Mascot

The Mascot is truly telling of which team should win a basketball game. So many things need to be considered for this observation point. The name obviously, but just important is presentation and representation. My rule of order for Mascot domination is based in preference applied science (trademark pending). Typically a ferocious cat is going to kill a domesticated dog, yet something tells me a silly looking lion won’t have a chance against the Butler Bulldog. Likewise, an animal mascot should eat a plant mascot alive. For instance, any self- respecting Ram should eat a Buckeye for dinner (oops, what happened last night VCU?). Heroic Human-form Mascots should always trump a Satanic Mascot. That’s why a Cavalier should always beat a Devil, unless of course that Devil is Blue…you get the picture? Decide for yourself where bugs, fish, weather phenomenon, and non-descript objects fall when docking X’s/O’s. Throughout the game, observe the mascot whenever possible (I swear some stations spend so much time on the players you hardly see the mascot at all!). Things to consider for X/O dockage is pleasing appearance, dancing ability, the ability to annoy opponent fans and most important the tendency to irritate the mascot’s own fans.

Third and Final Observation Point: The Players and their Uniforms

First and foremost, if a player acts like a smart-ass you dock X/O’s big-time. It doesn’t matter how the announcers might describe an incident, whether fouls are assessed or how the Coach reacts. YOU are in charge here, YOU make the call. While the ridicule of the player’s personal appearance is out of bounds (for the MAE-AB Method only), heavy ridicule of the uniform and warm-up is encouraged. You have to wonder how some of the uniform selections are made and when it was determined okay to dress like a highlighter. Reduce Xs/Os as you wish just try to keep tattoo placement and hairstyle out of it.

By now you probably have a good idea who should win. If by some chance the other team comes out victorious, don’t get upset. You didn’t get it wrong, YOU GOT ROBBED!

The only way to tie this into my blog is to point out that the MAE-AB Method of NCAA Basketball viewing is experienced best while sipping an adult beverage. This evening my beverage of choice is a Dirty Martini followed by Red Wine with my Filet Mignon with Brandy Shallot Sauce. Keep it up Spartans!

The 1st Annual Musing Awards

The first Foodie Buddy

The first Foodie Buddy

It’s coming up on a year of blogging. It’s been such a hoot for me and I intend to continue and I hope you’ll stick with me! I’m going to wrap up my first 12 months of blogging by bestowing the much coveted (not) Musing Awards to some of my favorite persons, places and things I experienced for the FIRST time this past year.

The results are in and the “Musee” (patent pending) goes to……..

Favorite Prepared Foods and Beverages:

Savory: Blue Hill Butternut Yogurt-this stuff is the bomb! Currently, the only place around me where it’s available is Wegman’s and it’s a bit pricey but worth every penny. Check out Blue Hill’s website for locations, other fun products and recipes. My own concoction is the yogurt, hot sauce, and almonds…a perfect at the office breakfast yum. http://bluehillyogurt.com

My fav is the Butternut Squash, but there's beet and Sweet Potato at Wegman's as well

My fav is the Butternut Squash, but there’s beet and Sweet Potato at Wegman’s as well

Sweet: Garden Lites Carrot Berry Muffins– found in the freezer in the Organic Foods Section (at Giant at least) these muffins are just a moist 4-bite piece of Carrot Cake only nutritious too. I swear spread some cream cheese on the top and you have dessert! 35 seconds in the microwave from the freezer and you’ll be in guilt free heaven.

Marvelously delicious with no effort

Beverage: American Harvest Vodka- When I’m not drinking tea, I’m drinking wine. When I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking Vodka (I think in that order…sometimes I forget). A mid=priced Vodka this Organic-American made Vodka has a wonderfully crisp, clean flavor that in my opinion stands up to being “dirtied” or sipped straight (very chilled of course).


Favorite “New to Me” Chef: Chef David Schmidt of Enchantment Resort in Sedona Arizona- I mentioned Chef Schmidt in my post “Northern Neck Paradise”. I met him while vacationing this summer and became enchanted…..with the chef and the resort where he is the executive chef. Check out the website to learn about the Resort and David Schmidt (Chef also has a facebook and twitter page). http://www.enchantmentresort.com/

As a side note, I made the Granola Recipe on the resort website as Christmas gifts to my Office employees at my real job this year.

Granola Gifts for my Office. Double the recipe made 20 bags!

Granola Gifts for my Office. Double the recipe made 20 bags!

Favorite “New to Me” Winery:first ever tie. First Colony Winery, Charlottesville VA and Old House Vineyards, Culpeper VA. I go to lots of wineries, especially in Virginia. Out of a dozen or so that were new to me this year, these two stand out as favorites-great venues, good wines and personable staff! I truly find something to like at every winery I go to (sometimes it just the Corgi!), but at times I find a winery that has it all…go to these two when in VA. http://www.firstcolonywinery.com and http://www.oldhousevineyards.com


Marigolds used keep pests away from the grapes at Old House Vineyards

Marigolds used keep pests away from the grapes at Old House Vineyards







The Thatched Roof of First Colony

The Thatched Roof of First Colony




Favorite “New to Me” Restaurants:

Upscale to the Max- Te at the Inn at Leola Village-If you happen to be in the Lancaster PA area and you want to indulge in an award winning meal go to Te. Matter of fact, stay over night in the lovely accommodations available at the Inn at Leola Village. Our meal at Te was exquisite and I hope to go again sometime soon! http://www.theinnatleolavillage.com

In the Windy City- The Purple Pig-this was tough. I realize we didn’t even scratch the surface of all the fabulous restaurants in Chicago and literally ALL of the places we went to had merit. The Pig though has a certain flair that I found interesting, comforting and just darn tasty. It’s not everywhere you can order bones filled with fat and consider it delicious….you can at The Purple Pig!

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Just Plain Delicious-Restaurant Sidney (Willoughby Run in Gettysburg or the Original in East Berlin PA)- Love, Love, Love my Sidney. Great Food, relaxing atmosphere at both locations and a Chef and servers who try to please. http://restaurantsidney.com/#!/main

Classic Sidney Pate

Classic Sidney Pate

Favorite “New to Me” recipe to me- Easy Cioppino- the recipe is found in a previous post titled “Easy Peasy”. I swear, I must try 100 different recipes each year (have I mentioned that I love to cook?). This particular recipe is very easy, very delicious and quite healthy.

This is my adaptation of the recipe found Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publication "30-Minute Dinners"

This is my adaptation of the recipe found Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publication “30-Minute Dinners”

Life Time Achievement Award: Gazebo Room Salad Dressing-This is a no-brainer for the first award of this kind. Please refer to the previous post titled “Location, Location, Location”. GRSD is a must-have for all household that are lucky enough to live in a State that stocks the dressing at local grocers.

Photo (3)

Unlike the Oscars, winners don’t go home with gift bags. Instead, I’ve tried to supply contact info when possible so do me a favor and click on a couple of sites that interest you. It’ll show the winners you care and I get a kick out of seeing the number of “clicks” I get on my stats page (anonymous of course)

It’s been a fun year. I look forward to testing out next year’s winners for the next 12 months…stay tuned.
















A “Sweet” Heart Supper

“This year, Valentine’s Day was a celebration of the heart in the truest sense. With bypass surgery behind and my husband’s continued speedy recovery, I was in the perfect position to go all in with the meal prep.

The table is set at Hodge Podge Lodge The table is set at Hodge Podge Lodge

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love”- Craig Claiborne

The lady’s cocktail for the evening was a French 75 with a welcome twist…..made with Vodka instead Gin. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a must as far as I’m concerned and only the tiniest bit of superfine sugar. I used Prosecco as the bubbly but Cava works just as well.

I love my French 75 Cocktail I love my French 75 Cocktail

The Salad I chose to make is called Italian Salad. Recipe can be found at one of my favorite sites: http://fandw.me/1A0v840.

So easy and very delicious So easy and very delicious

The Main Course: Filet Mignon with Peppercorn-Mustard Sauce (p 29 of “Special Edition: The Best of Cooking Light” published in 2000), Poached Mahi-Mahi with Lemon-Herb Sauce (p 34 of “Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2012”) on a bed of Jasmine Rice and Haricot Vert.

The published fish recipe calls for Halibut. The Mahi-Mahi worked just as well...I've tried both. The published fish recipe calls for Halibut. The Mahi-Mahi worked just as well…I’ve tried both.

The Dessert: A Sampler from the local bakery with a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie as the highlight.

No credit to me here. I just did the plating. No credit to me here. I just did the plating.

The first anniversary of “Musing about Eating and Boozing” is fast approaching in April. I appreciate all your support these past months and look forward to taking the blog back on the road once Spring is in the air. I’d love it if you’d browse through my previous posts and I’d be especially interested in feedback. If you’re interested in short snippets about food and a sundry of other things please visit my facebook page “Mygro Tips” once in a while.   Ta-Ta for now.


If You Can’t Eat the Dish You Love, Love the Dish You Make!

Chicken Vegetable Soup ala Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

Chicken Vegetable Soup ala Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

My family has been struck with Heart Disease which has necessitated a rather slight change in meal prep for me. Typically, sodium has not been a nutrition factoid that I’ve dwelled on when choosing recipes to try or adapt, but that changed after bypass surgery for my love became a reality. Being relegated as a caregiver for the week or two after surgery was nothing new for me and the idea of having all day to make meals was almost exciting. I love to cook (have I said that before?)! With a new focus on low sodium, I set out on my familiar exercise of pouring through Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbooks to find the perfect recipe. As usual CL did not disappoint. I found perfection in nutrition, taste and presentation. Behold….Chicken Vegetable Soup from Cooking Light 2009 page 27.
Simmered a whole chicken skinned myself then cut in half

Simmered a whole chicken skinned myself then cut in half

I say the key was the addition of parsnip and turnip.

I say the key was the addition of parsnip and turnip.

This recipe is readily available on line. In order to get a beautifully clear broth, cook the noodles separately and add to the bowl when serving.

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all”-Harriet van Horne

Seize the Day!

New Year's Day Pot 'o Tea

New Year’s Day Pot ‘o Tea

Typically, after a whirlwind of cooking and entertaining during the Season, my New Year’s Eve Celebration is fairly low-key. This year will only be slightly different in that due to an especially stressful week past, I’ve decided to “own” New Year’s Eve this year and make it all about me. Still limited to my rather small town surroundings, I’ve planned a day that may rival the celebrations (in culinary terms) of big cities everywhere!

6:45AM- Day drinking begins with the consumption of an entire pot of Constant Comment Tea…in my mind, one of the best everyday tea available. Sipping was especially comforting while watching “The Paper Chase”. Checkout the Bigelow tea website at http://www.bigelowtea.com for some amazing facts and tips (beauty tips…who knew?)

Behold! a French 75 at Sidney Willoughby Run

Behold! a French 75 at Sidney Willoughby Run

2:30PM-An intimate lunch at Sidney Willoughby Run, one of my favorite restaurants! My French 75 paired perfectly with the ever so spicy-sweet Crispy Calamari Pizza with Jalapeno and Banana Peppers. The velvety Sidney Classic Pate was delicious with just the perfect amount of Yuzu Marmalade.

Spicy and Crispy Calamari Pizza

Spicy and Crispy Calamari Pizza

Classic Sidney Pate

Classic Sidney Pate

Read all about the Sidney locations at http://www.restaurantsidney.com and my previous post titled “My favorite Gettysburg Address”

4:30PM-“Into the Woods” at the Theater

By 7:30PM-home to ready-up for dinner and a glass of something Red.

Home at Hodgepodge Lodge

Home at Hodgepodge Lodge

9:00PM-the Main Event: dinner at the Boiling Springs Tavern. BST has been our NYE destination for at least the last 20 years with very little deviation and is without a doubt our home base restaurant. BST is unpretentious, doesn’t give into fads, but consistently serves wonderful food based on a stellar menu and a few nightly specials. In my opinion, the BST fish and seafood selections are the best in the area with the shrimp being especially succulent. The staff at BST is top-notch which explains why the vast number of “regulars” like us know them by name. Michael the bartender has been a BST staple for 20 years, while the manager Kevin arrived shortly thereafter which enables Geoff the owner of this fine establishment, to spend a good deal of time with his family in Florida. Longtime servers include: Erica who never steers me wrong with a menu suggestion and certainly knows her way behind the bar, Jen who not only has a great name, but is one of the friendliest servers I know, Dave who will always tell you what he thinks about everything and Stacy who is a fine example of hiring local in that she as many other BST employees got jobs while in or shortly after graduating from the local high school.

I like that BST is "old school" and will still serve a salad with entrees....nothing but the freshest greens here!

I like that BST is “old school” and will still serve a salad with entrees….nothing but the freshest greens here!

Cajun Shrimp with Basmati Rice....Scallops added

Cajun Shrimp with Basmati Rice….Scallops added

This night we were lucky to get a favorite server BA and the best seat in the house (a perk to small town living is that 9PM reservations are usually the last). I added Scallops to my Cajun Shrimp, while my husband added Shrimp to his Mediterranean Scallops (he also swapped rice for pasta….yes, BST will do that). What perfect meals to end 2014!
See their website: http://www.boilingspringstavern.net

By the fire. Best seat in the house!

By the fire. Best seat in the house!

Coconut Tart. Kevin, the manager of BST makes most of the desserts

Coconut Tart. Kevin, the manager of BST makes most of the desserts

Resolved: For 2015 I shall follow a “Meatless Monday” regimen. In doing so, on that one day of the week I will look for guidance and inspiration from a book I gave myself…”Simple Recipes for Joy” BY Sharon Gannon

Thanksgiving at Vintage

The stone fireplace in the Great Room at Vintage The stone fireplace in the Great Room at Vintage

This year marked thirty-three straight years of enjoying my Thanksgiving feast at Vintage and I can’t imagine a more lovely place to spend a holiday that is wholly based on preparing a meal to share with family and friends as a way to give thanks and count our blessings. Although Vintage is my parents home that wasn’t purchased until I had already graduated from college, I like to think I was instrumental in persuading (actually it was full out coercion) my folks to see this beautiful piece of property as the perfect place to spend their retirement years and to hold our most momentous family occasions.
The Thanksgiving guests at Vintage have changed through the years but four of us have remained constant…my mom and dad, my husband (only fiancé the 1st year) and I. We’ve had as many as 12 around the table, but this year it was limited to the four of us and our daughter and son. Regardless of the numbers of attendees, the menu planning remains the same with very little deviation- my dad takes care of the turkey, my mom decorates the table and does the stuffing and makes the family shrimp spread recipe while I scour through all my Cookbooks and Magazines to come up with sundry recipes I want to try. My daughter has taken over the Mashed Potato prep and this year made two fabulous desserts. Get a load of this……

While the menu may be extensive, for me it’s a perfect testament of my many blessings to share the fruits of the effort with my family who have always appreciated and supported (and in many ways inherited) my culinary obsession. Likewise, the warm and welcoming atmosphere maintained by my mom and dad that Vintage holds enables us to put our significant areas of concern aside for just one day of the year. I truly hope you all have a “Vintage” in your life as well.

Sherry Creamed Mushrooms, Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach, Asparagus with Crispy Pancetta and Apple Cider Glazed Root Vegetables adorn the Sideboard. Sherry Creamed Mushrooms, Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach, Asparagus with Crispy Pancetta and Apple Cider Glazed Root Vegetables adorn the Sideboard.

5 Stars are awarded to the Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach, the Apple Cider Glazed Root Vegetables, the Salted-Butter Apple Galette and Marbled Gingersnap Pumpkin Tart (both desserts made lovingly by my daughter). The Sherry Creamed Mushrooms have always been to die for and “our” Shrimp Spread is legendary.

The Great Room of Vintage The Great Room of Vintage

“Food, in the end, in our tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.”- Louise Fresco