Friday, August 28, 2015

August 26, 2015 PPI Filet Mignon, black beans, Tomatoes, and sugar snap peas

August 26, 2015 PPI Filet Mignon, black beans, Tomatoes, and sugar snap peas

Suzette heated up the PPI filet with the black beans while I steamed the PPI sugar snap peas and sliced several tomatoes that I drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

We drank Aberdeen 50% Shiraz/50% Malbec rose which tasted a little flat and definitely was not fruity.

A simple pleasant dinner.

Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 25, 2015 Birthday Dinner for Suzette Grilled Filet Mignon, steamed sugar snap peas, Sautéed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and garlic

August 25, 2015 Birthday Dinner for Suzette  Grilled Filet Mignon, steamed sugar snap peas, Sautéed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and garlic.

I went to Costco for lunch (a hot dog) and to buy some food.  I saw Mimi Montgomery and invited her to dinner.  She said she was having dinner with her friend, Larry Kay, and would check with him.  We were  standing in the meat department and I saw lovely filets, so I picked a package with four nice filets and told Mimi, “We will grill these.”  Mimi said she would call me later to confirm. 

I then picked a 2 lb. bag of sugar snap peas,a blur cheese and a goat cheese and a bouquet of yellow roses for Suzette.

Mimi called later to confirm that she and Larry could come to dinner at 7:15 and they would bring mango sorbet.

I went home and at 6:00 we began washing dishes and preparing dinner.  I chopped about ¼ cup of onion, three or four cloves of garlic, five brown crimini mushrooms, and four Yukon Gold potatoes.  I also fetched a bottle  of 2008 Hafner Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley that Cliff and Nancy had given us for Christmas several years ago.  I also stripped the strings off the edges of 1 ½ cups of sugar snap peas and went the garden and picked stalks of thyme and tarragon and plucked their leaves and added them to the mushrooms.. Suzette added some water to a pyrex bowl filled with diced potatoes and cooked them.  Then Suzette sautéed the onion potatoes and garlic and then added the mushrooms and thyme and tarragon. 

At 7:00 Suzette opened the wine to let it breath.

Mimi and Larry arrived a bit later with a container of butter pecan gelato and a Hagen Daz Mango sorbet.  Suzette heated the grill and turned on the Bayou cooker.  She grilled the steaks and sautéed the potatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and herbs, while I heated the sugar snap peas for a bit more than a minute so they would still retain their crispness and flavor. When Suzette brought in the steaks I sliced them and they were a slightly bloody medium rare. I fetched the Béarnaise sauce and we plated the plates.  The meat was incredibly tender and the wine was fabulous. The sugar snap peas were crisp and sweet, at the height of their flavor and stole the show as best ingredient.

We enjoyed talking with Mimi and Larry.  Larry is also a lawyer and a serious long distance bicycle rider.  

We sat in the gazebo and after dinner ate the gelato and sorbet and sipped cognac

By 10:00 we said goodnight.  

Suzette said she did not like having to cook on her birthday.  I responded that I was able to make a better dinner than we could find anywhere for a cost for the entire meal that was less than the same meal for one of us if we had gone out to dinner and ate a better dinner.  She agreed that we would not have found such a good meal in Albuquerque and if we did we would not have wanted to pay for it.  We play this game after a good meal, by which we try to set the cost of the meal taking into account the dishes, the quality of ingredients and wine. Suzette estimated the dinner at $50 for each person’s Filet Mignon dinner and $100.00 for the 2008 Hafner Cabernet. Her final analysis was, “We would never have paid for such a wonderful meal?”  Meaning $300 for dinner for Four was too extravagant, even for a BD.  And we got to share it with friends we had not seen for a long time.  By my reasoning having to cook a bit was a small inconvenience given the result and the enjoyable evening and dinner.

Bon Appetit 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 24, 2015 brunch – Huevos Rancheros Dinner- Sautéed Smoked pork and Napa cabbage with Calabacitas and Black Beans

August 24, 2015  brunch – Huevos Rancheros  Dinner- Sautéed Smoked pork and Napa cabbage with Calabacitas and Black Beans 

I rode to Rio bravo and then helped Suzette with a project and made breakfast with a smoked pork cutlet, onion, a tomato from the garden, eggs, garlic and lime flavored Mexican red hot sauce.  There was too much liquid and the sauce did hot stiffen, so the result was really soft mushy eggs, which I liked.

I ate PPI Cuban sandwich for a late lunch. Suzette arrived from Santa Rosa a bit after 6:00 and I worked until after 7:00 on my water case trial preparation, Suzette cooked dinner, which turned out to be very interesting and delicious.  She started by chopping red bell pepper and onion and sautéing that with a can of seasoned black beans, Hoja Santa and Epazote for the first dish.  For the second dish, we had thawed a container of Calabacitas, so she chopped Napa cabbage we had bought at the farmer’s market last weekend and sautéed it with a diced pork cutlet and the added some of the Calabacitas to make an elaborate dish.  

We ate the delicious food with Mexican Modelo Especial beer and watched the Antiques Roadshow. 

Bon Appetit 

August 23, 2015 – Day in Santa Fe. Museum Hill Café and Dinner at T. R. and Linda’s

August 23, 2015 – Day in Santa Fe. Museum Hill Café and Dinner at T. R. and Linda’s

Suzette made lovely Bacon, Chard and tomato sandwiches at About 9:30 with chard and tomatoes from our garden on toasted Fano baguette.  

We drove to Santa Fe and parked at Owings Gallery and walked through Indian Market to the Fine Arts Museum, where we saw the color show from the permanent collection.  I saw several new pieces including a Dorothy Morang abstract watercolor in the  Transcendental style from 1940 that I liked.  Then we walked upstairs and saw the Museum construction show with its wonderful Kenneth Chapman and the original Rapp and Rapp elevations.

We walked through the sea of booths and people constituting Indian Market that has grown since I last saw it 15 years ago. Booths now stretch around the Plaza and along all the streets adjoining the Plaza.  For example, we walked from the Museum along Lincoln to Marcy and saw booths stretched all the way to the federal courthouse.  The number of Indian artists seems to have grown over the years.

We then drove to Museum Hill to see the Red Show at the International Folk Art Museum.  The parking lot was full and we parked in the Botanical Garden lot across the street.  The museums in Santa Fe have coordinated shows around the Summer of Color theme with the Wheelwright’s color being silver for jewelry, the Spanish Colonial Museum’s color being blue for indigo, the Indian cultural Museum’s color being turquoise, and the Folk Art’ color red featuring cochineal.  It was 1:45 and we were hungry, so, we walked to the Museum Hill Café and were seated at a table on its expansive patio.  We both chose salads.  I ordered a Cobb with pico de gallo and Suzette ordered a salmon  salad.  My salad turned out to be an adventure as I searched through it to remove all the diced jalapeños and even then it was just on the edge of hotness for my taste with the addition of a small ramekin of blue cheese dressing.  Suzette’s salmon was grilled and a lovely salad.  We ordered glasses of wine.  I ordered a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc and Suzette ordered a maguey juice Bloody Mary that tasted  like the liquid in a Mexican shrimp Coctel. 

The Waiter realized that we liked wine and brought us a sample of Ponderosa’s Chardonnay that was unbaked and rather nice, like the Chardonnay produced in Anderson Valley.

We then saw the extensive Red show that was highly technical, covering the cultivation, dying and trade in cochineal, besides displays of beautiful cochineal colored objects.  Here are a few:

     El Greco

    Japanese fireman's coat

We then went to the other exhibit of Southern clay objects.  I ran out of gas and we found some lounge chairs in front of a video showing many of the potteries and folks all across the South making many of the objects in the show and I took a nap.

At 5:00 when the museum closed we had to find something to do for 1 ½ hours until dinner.  My stomach was upset from the pico de gallo in the salad, so I suggested ice cream.  We drove to Baskin and Robbin’s on Cerillos and shared a cup of pistachio almond and world champion chocolate wit both white and dark chocolate ice cream mixed together.  We then drove to the narrow park along Galisteo at Cordova and sat and read and walked through the Santa Fe Rose Society garden.

At 6:20 we drove to Linda’s house on Old Pecos Trail.  Soon we were joined by Mitzi and Steve who own Mid-century Modern gallery on San Francisco street and Ronald and Elizabeth who own the Indian jewelry shop in the La Fonda Hotel.  They were all interesting to talk to as we sat on the patio behind the main house and sipped wine and cocktails and ate from the abundant selection of  appetizers, including warm quesadillas, tuna stuffed green olives, cheeses, and salami.

Elisabeth and Ronald brought a bottle of chateau Pegau, Chateau Neufchâtel du Pape Rose, which was new to me.  We brought a bottle of Gruet rose and a bottle of a Presidente cotes du Rhone rose from Total Wine.  T.R. Had made watermelon margaritas, which were quite nice, but I wanted to drink the roses.  I had a glass of each and liked the Presidente the best.  About two hours later Linda made the rice and plated plates with chicken breasts with a Moroccan sauce on rice and Calabacitas.  After dinner we sat around the fire T.R. had made in the fire pit in the middle of the patio and talked until 10:00, when we said goodnight after a lovely evening of food, wine and conversation.

Bon Appetit 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 22, 2015 lunch – Greenhouse Bistro. Dinner – 5 Star Burger

August 22, 2015 lunch – Greenhouse Bistro. Dinner – 5 Star Burger

Lunch was heavenly

Dinner was hellish

I went to the Center for Ageless Living for a massage at around 1:00 and at 2:00 went to its Greenhouse Bistro for lunch.  Suzette joined me. I wanted to try the new chef, Alex’ cuisine.  I started with the Spa lunch special of Peach soup.with a Grape Suzette salad.  The presentation was lovely.  The soup was served in a punch cup (one of Mother’s) on a lovely ceramic plate accompanied by the salad.  It was a beautifully presented dish.  The salad was fresh and delicious with wonderfully fresh large red grapes sliced in half and chopped threads of Parmesan cheese and fresh tarragon and lettuce from the center’s garden.  The soup was surprisingly good, sweetened by peaches in a August 22, 2015 lunch – Greenhouse Bistro. Dinner – 5 Star Burgercreamy base and flavored with Cointreau and peach schnapps.

Then I ordered a Cuban sandwich because Suzette told me that Alex though the focaccia used on the sandwich was too thick and he had used his recipe for focaccia to bake a thinner and slightly denser focaccia.  The sandwich was very delicious and impressive.  Slices of ham, cheese, dill pickles, and roasted pork pressed together in a sandwich press.  I loved the firmness of the sandwich loaf and the side dish of fresh salad greens, slices of cucumber, and cherry tomatoes and even the small pile of crisp potato chips.

Alex is clearly using the bounty of the Center’s garden to enhance the freshness of the menu items, which I love and which I think makes the Greenhouse Bistro’s food so distinctively delicious and appealing.

The opposite occurred at dinner.  I told Suzette that I had had a great Fish and Chips at 5 Star Burger, so we decided to go therefor Fish And Chips.  When we were served our dish, I discovered that instead of the lovely large filets of Haddock that used to be on the dish the dish is now served with fish sticks that are tasteless and so thin they get over cooked and are dry with none of that fresh liquid fish flavor that makes Fish and Chips so delicious.  

I asked to speak to the Manager and when she came I asked why they would change the fish from a delicious filet to a fish stick.  She said the management in Kansas City had changed vendors from Sysco to U.S. Foods because U.S. foods could provide a Kansas ground beef.  Unfortunately U.S. Foods did not have the Haddock filets, only fish sticks.  Suzette explained that U.S. The Foods is mainly an institutional vendor that is known for its cheap prices and that was probably the reason for the change.  The Manager agreed that the fish sticks were of inferior quality and even suggested that if we wanted really fresh fish and chips we should go to “Two Fools Tavern” on Central because they use fresh fish and batter the filets themselves.

We probably will never go back to 5 Star Burger because we do not eat hamburgers for $11.00.  We instead grill rib steaks we buy for $6.00/lb.

But we surely will go to “Two Fools Tavern” next time we want fish and chips. 

Bon Appetit 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 21, 2015 Dinner- Roasted Chicken, Blanched Green Beans, with mushrooms and onion, tomato salad.

August 21, 2015  Dinner- Roasted Chicken, Blanched Green Beans, with mushrooms and onion, tomato salad.

At around 8:00 I rode south to Rio Bravo and back.  Here is a picture of the Sandias in early morning:

The most momentous event of the day was the over 500 point drop in the Dow.  The stock markets dropped by approximately 3.2% today, after shedding about the same amount over the last three days. It it pretty depressing to watch your net worth drop by 7% in a couple of days.  It is the type of sickening experience,we saw in 2008, but without the reason for the drop, which is even more vexing.

I had a had a doctor’s appointment at 11:15 that lasted until 12:25 and then went to see Bill Turner to discuss the Gila case, and eat lunch but Bill was eating when I arrived so I shared his roasted pecans. Mi was not very hungry when I arrived home at around 1:30, so I made myself a salad of lettuce, cucumber, green onion, cheddar cheese, fresh oregano from the garden, and a sliced tomato, garnisheed with croutons. 

When Suzette called at 5:00 and offered to bring home a roasted chicken I gladly agreed.  I snapped the green beans I had bought at Sprouts last Monday and sliced a crimini mushroom and a bit of yellow onion and put the three ingredients in a pyrex bowl with about 1 Tbsp. of Vietnamese fish sauce I had made a few months ago.  

Suzette arrived home a bit after 6:00 after a very long hard day of work in which her Mustang was stolen and she may have no insurance for it.  So we both were depressed over significant losses today.  She went to the garden to pick a basket of tomatoes and then she made a lovely creamy dressing with mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar and olive oil while I sliced several tomatoes.

We plated the green beans, tomatoes garnished with the mayonnaise dressing and hind quarters of the chicken, poured glasses of Leese-Fitch Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County California and went to the gazebo in the garden to eat.  Later I returned to get the rest of the bottle and picked up the container with the two truffles from the Brazilian confectioner we bought at the Railyard Farmers’ Market last Sunday.  Everything was predictably good, except the Brazilian truffles, which were exceptional.  We had purchased one orange garnished with Macadamia nut threads and one Passion fruit truffle for $1.80 each.  When we bit into them we found them to be fondant made with the fresh fruit.  We have never tasted anything like them and found them quite delicious, particularly with the fruity citrusy Sauvignon Blanc.

After dinner we played bocce for about 1/2 hour and I sat and watched as Mario took over for me and beat Suzette 8 to 4.  I was happy that he got to play and learn the game on the court he worked so hard to create.  He seemed to enjoy it and I was  happy as I heard him explaining to the dry wall crew in Spanish how the game was played. 

After a long day of unpleasant experiences, we went to bed at around 9:30.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is I am reading King Lear by Shakespeare for the book club and  seeing King Lear be humiliated and dis-served by his two older daughters after he gives them each half of England and impoverishes himself.

Bon Appetit 

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 20, 2015 Brunch - Huevos Locos and Italian Dinner at Cynthia’s House

August 20, 2015  Brunch - Huevos Locos and Italian Dinner at Cynthia’s House

Today was a good example of how hard Suzette is driving herself on the kitchen re-model. 

We woke at 6:15 and I rode to Montano and back in 50 minutes and Suzette walked for 30 minutes. Then we showered and dressed and drove to Arizona Tile to select the black Soapstone for our kitchen counters.  Here is the slab of stone:

Then we drove to Sherwin Williams at 1st and Lomas to order the paint we had selected to paint some of the walls, ceiling, and cabinets. 

When we drove home around 10:00, I was hungry and decided to make Huevos Locos.  Huevos Locos is the name that Garcia's gives to the Mexican dish that I think they call, Huevos Rancheros or Machaca, when it uses beef jerky or day old roast beef, which is eggs cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, and the beef.  It is one of my favorite breakfast dishes in Mexico.  At Garcia's it is made with a choice of roast beef or ham.  

 Today I filled my wok, which I intended to use to cook with one  chopped Roma tomato,  about ¼ red onion I had in a bag in the fridge, one portobello mushroom sliced, a dash of mint, and one smoked pork cutlet. I lit the Cajun Cooker and placed the wok on it and sautéed the ingredients with 1 Tbsp. of butter and 1 ½ Tbsp. of olive oil for a minute or two until the ingredients softened and began to take on color.  I then  added 3 eggs and chopped five or six leaves of Epazote from the garden and stirred the eggs and ingredients until they combined into one mass.  I the added about 2 Tbsp. of Mexican lime flavored red sauce (Ranch Market) and cooked the mixture until the eggs were firm enough to form soft mounds and ceased to be runny.  I then removed the wok from the cooker and split the eggs between even 2 plates and toasted slices of Fano baguette and fetched the Rose’s Lime Marmalade and called Suzette to breakfast.  We ate and then Suzette and I went to work.

We had received an invitation from Cynthia to join her for dinner at her house, which we gladly accepted.  The main dish was Pasta alla Puttanesca that she had made the night she invited us, so it was a PPI tonight. Here is the Wikipedia description: Spaghetti alla puttanesca is a tangy, somewhat salty Italian pasta dish invented in the mid-20th century. The ingredients are typical of Southern Italian cuisine: tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic. Wikipedia

Here is what Cynthia's rendering of the dish looks like:

I selected a new bottle I bought at Total Wine last week, a 2014 Conte Priola Pinot Grigio Rose and chilled it in the freezer at 5:00.  We had to wait for the dry wall crew to arrive before we could leave.  They came around 5:30 and after Suzette discussed finish issues with them, we drove to Cynthia’s at 6:00. I poured us glasses of wine and Cynthia laid a table of antipastos on her patio.  The antipastos included slices of salami, a wedge of truffled cheese, mixed black, green and kalamata olives, slices of fresh bread and crackers and a lovely plate of Caprese salad.

  When Suzette said I was restricted from eating salted meats and olives due to an increase in potassium, Cynthia looked at me and said, “Hummus and vegetable sticks for you next time, buddy!”  I thanked her and ate another slice of salami on a slice of bread garnished with a slice of the semi-soft cheese.

After we finished the Rose, which was surprisingly light and delicate and worth buying again, Cynthia went to her kitchen and heated up bowls of spaghetti alla puttanesca and served them with grated Parmesan cheese and a bottle of Alero Tempranillo/Grenache blend Spanish red wine. The puttanesca contained all the ingredients described above plus a seafood medley of shrimps, calamari, octopus, and scallops and chopped fresh tomatoes in the red sauce.  I liked it a lot.

After we finished our pasta we sat and talked and then Cynthia fetched two containers of gelato, one of vanilla and the other a pistachio with candied fruits and nuts in it that remained me of Spumoni plus the box of my favorite Belgium almond butter cookies and scooped small scoops of gelato into small ramekins and garnished them with a couple of butter cookies.  The pistachio gelato was Cynthia’s favorite and I agreed that it was wonderful.

The Mosquitos were beginning to bite at around 8:15 and I suggested we go sit in the living room.  We continued to talk until about 9:00 when everyone began to get tired and we went home. 

When we arrived home the dry wall crew was finishing and we inspected their work. They had unified the empty spaces left by the contractors when the installed the ceiling to add the structural support beams and the demolished walls into a unified whole that matched the specs for the finished kitchen walls and ceiling.  The kitchen is taking shape.  As they finished, the leader of the three man crew said, “We just need to sand now, which I think they will do on Friday, August 21st.  Then we will paint next. These guys are amazing workers.  They all have day jobs, then at 5:00, when they finish their day job they come to our house, crank up the Mexican music station and sing and work until 9:00.  It seems to me that they exemplify the spirit of hard work and the desire to get ahead and build a life for their family that Is at the core of our American cultural ethos.

Bon Appetit 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 19, 2015 Lunch – East Ocean Dinner – PPI beef pot roast

August  19, 2015 Lunch – East Ocean  Dinner – PPI beef pot roast

I decided to go to East Ocean for my usual, Scallops in Lobster Sauc at around 11:30, which proved excellent today, good scallops and good fried rice.

At 5:00 I went the garden and picked three stalks of chives and a handful of mint.

I then made tzatziki with about 12 oz. yogurt, a clove of garlic, the chives  and o
I went to meditate at 7:00, returning home at around 8:30.  Suzette had just arrived after a long day at work.  She had already opened a beer, so I suggested heating the pot roast we made Sunday evening, which I did.  

We ate stew with a bottle of Modelo Especial.

After dinner I ate the last slice of tiramisu for dessert.

Bon Appetit 

August 18, 2015 Red Beans and Rice at the Palmers’

August 18, 2015 Red Beans and Rice at the Palmers’ 

We have developed a tradition of sorts.  On days that Suzette drives to Santa Rosa, we eat dinner at the Palmers. It seems to be a reciprocally beneficial arrangement. Our combined cooking efforts produce a bigger, better meal, especially since Susan is kind enough to host and clean up,  none of us are big eaters so there is little need to cook extra.  The only difference I have noted is the slight reduction of leftovers.  Tonight's meal was a good example.

We called Monday  to let the Palmers know that Suzette was going to go to Santa Rosa on Tuesday and see if they wanted to get together for dinner.  We told them we could bring fresh Moriarty corn and tiramisu.  Susan said, “That would be wonderful. I just made a pot of red beans and rice.”

Today when I called around 5:30 to make final arrangements, Susan said she had fresh corn, so they did not need our corn.  I said, “What if I bring some duck foie gras?”  Susan said, “I would love that.”  

Then I mentioned drinks and Susan referred me to Charlie.  When I asked if Charlie preferred wine or beer, he said to bring a bottle of red wine.

 At 6:30, which was the designated time to meet I called Suzette and told her that we were taking a bottle of red and asked her if she wanted me to tie a beer for her, she said, “Sure.”

I put bread, foie gras, a Negra Modelo, and a bottle of Santiago  Station’s Devil’s Backbone Cabernet Sauvignon (Total Wine $4.00) in a bag and grabbed the Whole Foods box with the last third of the tiramisu and walked the two doors down to the Palmers. 

When I arrived I was pleased to see that Susan had set up a little assemblage of appetizers; pistachios, a loaf of herbed Boursin, and crackers, to which I added our pate.  I then sliced Fano baguette and the last this of the Cloud Cliff whole wheat rye loaf we bought Sunday at the Railyard Farmers’ market into thin slices and Charlie toasted them in their wonderful Samsung toaster oven.

I opened our bottle of red and enjoyed a glass of the cab with the cheese and pate and pistachios.  Soon Suzette arrived and joined Charlie and me at the appetizer bar while Susan heated the red beans and rice and boiled a pot of corn on the cob.

When we set the table, we discovered that Susan had also made a sliced tomato salad with balsamic and olive oil and warmed a fresh loaf of sourdough bread from Smith’s. 

The red beans had lots of chunks of spicy sausage, which was delicious.  None of us are big eaters anymore.  We each took a bowl of rice, piled a goodly spoonful of red beans and sausage on it and some balsamic marinated tomatoes.  Susan then served us halved ears of corn and thick slices of warm sourdough bread.  We enjoyed our meal so much we could not eat dessert, but a did take a smidgen extra of red beans and rice.

We noticed a pile of photos on a table in the dining room.  Charlie said they were his photos and we asked if we could view them.  

So after dinner we cleaned the table and viewed some of Charlie’s favorite platinum photos he has made over the last 20 years.  Some were quite impressive.  Views of the mirror like surfaces of water in the ocean and lochs in Scotland, the Grand Canyon, and White Sands were the most beautiful, I thought.

At 9:00 I started yawning at it was time to go home to bed, so we thanked them for fixing dinner and the lovely photography show and took some of the uneaten tiramisu and bread and walked home and went to bed.  

I imagine this to be exactly the way things are in a high end retirement village. Perhaps that is where we are.  We have created our own retirement village; bocce court, gardens, workshops, except we have not down sized yet.  We still have all of our stuff around us.

Bon Appetit 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August 17, 2015 Dinner – a steamed dinner; Couscous with Rock fish, and Chard

August 17, 2015 Dinner – a steamed dinner;  Couscous with Rock fish, and Chard

Today after my annual Medicare check-up at 9:15 I made a big shopping arch, starting at Sprouts, where I bought three filets of Rock Fish, two Italian sweet Sausage, about seven or eight brown mushrooms, a lb. of green beans, a pound of couscous, a bag of lemons, and more chocolate covered pecans.  I then bought light bulbs at Voss Lighting, then went to Office Depot for replacement ink cartridges for the printer, and finally went to Costco for a lunch of a Polish dog and a box of Xerox paper.  

I returned home at 12:30 and worked until 5:00.  I dozed and watched the news until Suzette arrived around 5:30.  I asked Suzette what she wanted for dinner and, as she was making her evening cocktail, she said, “We should eat the fresh fish, but I do not want to cook”.

I suggested making a one dish meal with couscous and the fish, sort of a Moroccan style dinner.  I looked for our Moroccan spices until I realized they were inaccessible in our basement due to the dry wallers’ scaffolding.  So, I went to the garden and picked a handful of chard leaves and about five or six sprigs of thyme.

I found a large Pyrex bowl that fit into the microwave and heated in it 2 Tbsp. of butter and 2 cups of water.  I then put 1 cup of couscous into the heated water and cooked it in the microwave for 2.33 minutes which was sufficient time to cook the couscous.  I then fluffed the couscous and laid the fish filets, a sliced clove of garlic, the thyme, and the de-stemmed and chopped chard on top of the couscous and the garnished the top of the chard with three slices of lemon and covered the top with Saran Wrap and cooked all the ingredients for an additional 7 or 8 minutes.  The result was a rather flaky couscous with a flakey fish filet and steamed chard.  I was amazed at how delicious it tasted.  We filled our plates and glasses with the PPI Torrontes from the Mendoza Valley of Argentina produced by Santiago Station (Total Wine $4.00/bottle).  The Torrontes was light, clean, and very pleasant.  A bit fruitier and less citrusy than Sauvignon Blanc. 


This type of one dish meal is typically Moroccan.  We enjoyed our simple meal in the garden, except Suzette is still trying to get the timers for the garden lights to work properly.

 We ate some PPI tiramisu with a sip of cognac for dessert and watched the local PBS station’s “Art in Albuquerque” program, which was based upon the large recent show on Albuquerque art at the Albuquerque Museum.

Bon Appetit 

August 16, 2015 Dinner Party and First Bocce Match


We invited our neighbors, Branden, Alliison, and their four year old  son,Benjamin  Zajak and Cynthia Elliot for dinner and bocce.  I had bought a 3.5 lb. chuck roast at Sprouts on Thursday ($3.99/lb.) and we had carrots and onions.  On Friday I went to Costco and bought a 15 lb. bag of Yukon gold potatoes ($7.79).  On Saturday morning I rough cut the potatoes, carrots, and an onion and put them into the crock pot with enough water to cover the ingredients and then added 3 beef bullion cubes, a Tbsp. of chopped Rosemary and 2 or 3 Tbsp. of fresh chopped oregano leaves to the crock pot.  We let it cook all day and by 7:00 when we served dinner the meat fell apart to the touch and the vegetables were all cooked and tender.

Cynthia arrived around 5:00 p.m. with a container of hummus, pita chips, a salad, vegetable sticks for scooping into the hummus, a peach and blueberry cobbler, and a bottle of champagne.  Soon the Zajaks arrived bringing a  sumptuous tiramisu from Whole Foods and a bottle of Gloria Ferrar 1997 vintage champagne, an exceptional bottle with luxurious fruit and complexity. We poured it first and went outside to play bocce.  When we finished the Gloria Ferrar, I opened a bottle of Gruet 25th anniversary Blanc de Noir and poured it, but it soon began to rain.  We sought cover under the awning on  the patio.  I opened my most glorious food find in the last year, a package of duck pate bought at our local Lowe’s Neighborhood Market for $7.99.  I toasted slices of Fano baguette and we smeared them with pate and enjoyed it with sips of champagne.  Since we all could smell the stew, we decided that since it was raining we should eat. 

Cynthia made a balsamic and olive oil dressing for her spinach salad, with celery, tomatoes, red onion and chopped green olives with pimiento.  I cut slices from a loaf of whole wheat rye bread  I bought at the Railyard Farmers’ Market Sunday morning from Cloud Cliff Bakery and toasted it and we filled pasta bowls with the pot roast beef stew.  I served a 2013 La Finca Cabernet Sauvignon I bought at a tasting at Total wine on Thursday. The ruby red color and fruity taste made the cab very drinkable for me. 

After dinner, I re-filled the glasses with champagne and Cynthia served her salad.  A  little later Suzette served tiramisu, with a scoop of vanilla ice  cream, and a scoop of Cynthia’s cobbler with glasses of Gruet champagne.

The first bocce game pitted the Zajaks against Cynthia, Suzette and me.  Ben proved to be a handicap for team Zajaks’ scoring ability but a big plus in the enthusiasm category, because Ben was too small to throw the bocce ball effectively but so loved the whole concept of playing with the grown ups that it more than made up for his inability to score points. We won the game 12 to 8.

Around 9:30 we all said goodnight.

Bon Appetit 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

August 15, 2015. Dinner – Grilled Ahi Tuna and Red Onion, Caprese Salad, and steamed Green Beans

August 15, 2015. Dinner – Grilled Ahi Tuna and Red Onion, Caprese Salad, and steamed Green Beans

I ate PPI gazpacho for lunch and the toasted baguette slices with Delice cheese.

Suzette was hungry at 5:30, so we decided to cook dinner.  Last Thursday I bought an  Ahi tuna steak and string beans at Sprouts Market.  We decided to grill the tuna with some slices of a fresh red onion Suzette bought at the farmers’ market in Los Lunas. 

We sliced a red and a yellow onion from our garden and chopped up the PPI basil and red onion from last night and halved slices of mozzarella.  Instead of simply dressing the salad with balsamic and olive oil, Suzette added a large spoonful of mayonnaise to a bowl and I made a creamy balsamic dressing with some olive oil.  

I chilled one of the bottles of Santiago Station Torrontes from Mendoza Valley, Argentina that I bought at Total Wine yesterday.  We found the Torrontes to be very drinkable, especially for $4.00 per bottle.  It went very well with the meaty tuna steak.

In fact the entire meal was wonderfully complementary with all of its elements.  The creamy balsamic dressing help unify all the flavors.

 After dinner we went to see “Ricki and the Flash” and then to our new neighborhood brewery, Boese Brewery for a beer.  I really liked their oatmeal ale.

Bon Appetit 

August 14, 2015 Costco and Neighborhood Cocktail Party

August 14, 2015 Costco and Neighborhood Cocktail Party 

I worked until 11:30 and then went to Costco for lunch, gas, and do some shopping.  Yesterday Suzette had picked four nice early boy tomatoes and we decided to make Caprese salad because Suzette also had bought beautiful red onions at the farmers’ market in Santa Rosa.

So after I ate my open face hot dog garnished with onions, relish, mustard, and catsup, I went shopping.  I first picked up a package of fresh mozzarella and then bought a small ½ lb. piece of Swiss Gruyere.  Since I bought a 3 lb. chunk of chuck roast yesterday at Sprouts that we decided to make into pot roast on Sunday, we needed potatoes.  We both agreed that we would either use Yukon Gold potatoes or the small fingerling potatoes from Costco, so I bought a 15 lb. bag of Yukon Gold potatoes.  I finally bought a bag of dehydrated cherries, because I had put the last of the bag we had into the Maraschino cherry bottle to rehydrate and infuse at the suggestion of Ricardo. 

 Suzette arrived at 5:30 with a small bag of basil from her garden at the Center for Ageless Living in  Los Lunas.  Our basil was killed by what we think was an overspray of Roundup from the walkway by the gardener.

Suzette fetched a large white plate and I started slicing tomatoes and then red onion and we sectioned the mozzarella slices and I cut them in halves to better match the size of the tomato slices since I had halved the tomatoes before slicing them. Suzette then tore basil leaves in half and constructed the salad with alternating layers of onion, tomato, cheese, and basil and I made a simple balsamic vinegar and Spanish olive oil dressing that we drizzled on the salad.  I must say, the final result was quite lovely.

We walked over to Barry and Kylene’s house on Los Alamos, where we found the largest gathering of neighbors I have ever seen at one of the Neighborhood cocktail parties.  There were lots of new people.  I met a few.  We talked to Gary, who does foreign law compliance for Northrup-Grumman and Tim Keller, our new State Treasurer, who has a new baby, and our new next door neighbor, Sandy Buffet, who is the niece of Warren Buffet and whose family owns Buffet Candies, all of whom are recent arrivals in the neighborhood.

There was an imposing array of food and, due to the season, much of it was made with fresh seasonal ingredients.  The hands down  winner as best dish tonight was Janet’s corn cakes that she had  made with fresh corn from her garden picked this evening that were garnished with a dab of sour cream and a sprig of fresh chive.  After eating Swedish meatballs made by a young lady who is buying the B n B at 701 Roma and some killer ground shrimp fried dumplings and spinach and chard balls made by Gary’s wife and a few glasses of wine I moved on to desserts.  I started by eating one of Max’s oatmeal raisin and cranberry cookies and found that I could not stop eating them.  They were the second best thing I ate at the party. I talked to Barry and ate cookies until Suzette arrived and told me it was time to leave.   I looked at my phone and saw that it was 9:15 and realized that I was getting sleepy.  We said goodnight and walked home after a lovely night of food and conversation.

The winning dish must combine originality, which means to me the best matching of ingredients to the dish selected, good flavor, and good presentation.  For example, Janet’s corn cakes were still warm when I first tasted them.  They had no chemical flavor that interfered with the clean flavor of the freshness of her main ingredient, creamy fresh corn.  The cake literally melted in one’s mouth.  They were attractive with flakes of red pepper and beautifully garnished with a dab of sour cream and a sprig of chive that enhanced and complemented their flavor.  I was impressed by their simplicity, directness, and yet they had a complexity of flavor that seamlessly combined all the elements into a pleasing whole.  I could have eaten a dozen but took only one, so others could enjoy them also.

Bon Appetit 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August 12, 2015 Lunch – l’Olivier Dinner – Cliff Blaugrund’s 70th Birthday Party at Albuquerque Country Club

August 12, 2015 Lunch – l’Olivier  Dinner – Cliff Blaugrund’s 70th Birthday Party at Albuquerque Country Club 

I argued a motion in Santa Fe until Noon, so we were looked for a place to eat lunch near the Court of Appeals.  Scott wanted Chinese, we walked toward Galisteo and at the corner of De Vargas and Galisteo I saw folks sitting outside L’ Olivier, so we walked over and found them open for lunch.  We took a table on the spacious patio and looked at the menu.  There were only four or five lunch items but they all looked good.  I ordered a duck confit salad and Scott ordered Fish and Chips ($9.50 each). We both loved our meals. The duck confit was served on a large bed of baby arugula garnished with petitas ( roasted sun flower seeds) and the most wonderful candied rehydrated cranberries.  The duck meat was so tender it fell of the bone with a flick of my fork and the arugula had dark veins running in a network on each leaf.  It was a very special salad.

Fish and chips 

When I walked to the bathroom I saw Chef cooking in the kitchen and asked him, “Is the duck confit salad good?”  His reply was, “it is very good.”  He was correct.  We were trying to decide on a soup.  They were out o f cold cucumber soup, but brought us tastes of gazpacho.  Unfortunately it had too much black pepper for my taste.  I told the waitress to tell the chef to eliminate as much black pepper as possible from my salad. 

For a moment I felt like we were sitting on the patio of a small family bistro in the French countryside with the husband cooking in the kitchen and the wife serving and running the front of the bistro.  And we were, but for the fact that we were sitting beside the Santa Fe River in New Mexico.

Nancy and Cliff invited us to the large celebration of Cliff’s 70th birthday at the end of an Albuquerque Country Club.  We saw dozens of folks we knew.  I sat by Paul Silverman who is probably the oldest friend in the crowd.  He and his older brother, Harry, and my brother, Billy, car pooled to Sunday school in Fort Worth 55-60 years ago.  Paul told me Harry had died at the age of 60, which would have been 8 or 9 years ago.  We reacquainted with dozens of folks.  It was a great enjoyable evening for me and Suzette even made a new friend who sat beside her at dinner. 

The food theme was tacos.  There were large bowls filled with shredded beef, shredded chicken that had been sautéed  in spices and a bowl of fried fish.  Then there were five or six different salsas, including a mango salsa and a pomegranate salsa.  There was shaved cabbage and lettuce for garnish and a spicy guacamole and tomato wedge salad, plus raw vegetables such as carrot stick, Palm hearts, and olives.  I loved it.  

August 13, 2015 Grilled Rib Steak, Sautéed Chanterelles, garlic, Shishito pepper, and thyme and cucumber, red onion and cherry tomato salad

August 13, 2015 Grilled Rib Steak, Sautéed Chanterelles, garlic, Shishito pepper, and thyme and cucumber, red onion and cherry tomato salad 

I ate PPI lamb stew with couscous and baked pasta for lunch.

At 3:30 I went to Total Wine and bought $120.00 of wine and  a bottle of Chabanneau VSOP cognac for $30.00.  One of the bottles was a 2013 Ropiteau Pinot Noir Burgundy $9.99 less 10% or $8.99.  It is a lovely smooth French style pinot; very fruity with a rather long finish and it will not get bitter or lose its vibrancy after an hour in the open air.

I tasted and liked a La Finca Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina and bought a bottle of it.  I also bought 4 Mendoza Station Torrontes, 2 Cabs, several new South American roses, an Italian Rose of Pinot Grigio, and 2 Wind Haven Pinot Gris, and 2 Perrin Families Cotes du Rhone. 

I the went to Sprouts and bought an Ahi tuna steak, a 2 1/2 lb chuck roast, some gree beans, a bunch of green onions, some chocolate covered pecans, green grapes and granola.

I thawed out a bone in rib steak overnight.  At 6:45 we started cooking.  I chopped cucumber and red onion and Suzette picked cherry tomatoes in the garden and sliced the larger red ones in half. We put all three ingredients in a bowl and tossed them with Spanish olive oil, balsamic vinegar and ½ tsp of German deli mustard.  

Then I chopped four shishito peppers, thyme, and garlic from our garden and then the chanterelles.  Suzette then swung into action and grilled the steak to medium rare and sautéed the mushrooms and other ingredients. 


I had cooked an artichoke at the Palmers’ house last Thursday night.  We opened it up and it was still good, we decided to grill it on the grill with the steak.  

In a few minutes dinner was ready.  We filled our plates and took them to the gazebo with the cucumber salad.  It was cooler and more quiet in the garden, since the dry wall guys were installing drywall in the kitchen.  

I love grilled artichokes with steak.  After dinner we filled our glasses with the rest poured of the bottle and went to the bottce court and played a quick game until night fell.

I am sitting in bed and blogging while I sip the last of my glass of Ropiteau with a bit of ice and it is even more delicious and refreshing cold with a bit of ice.  A wine winner.

Bon Appetit

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 11, 2015 PPI Lamb Couscous Stew

August 11, 2015 PPI Lamb Couscous Stew

Sometimes I am amazed at how delicious an easy peasant dinner can taste.  Tonight was one of those pleasant discoveries.  Last Friday I made a crock pot full of lamb stew with a mirepoix, a couple of beef bouillon cubes, and fresh oregano.  We also made Couscous with chard.  Tonight we put enough lamb stew in the Pyrex bowl that we had made the PPI couscous in and heated it covered in the microwave until it was hot.  The loose liquid stew  was wonderful.  We drank Santiago Station Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mendoza Valley of Argentina with the stew and enjoyed the simple, yet satisfying hardy meal.

Bon Appetit 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 10, 2015 Mykonos Restaurant and other Greek foods

August 10, 2015 Mykonos Restaurant and other Greek foods

Today was a good food day in both senses; delicious and healthy. I ate granola with fresh strawberries and Greek yogurt for breakfast. For lunch I ate a large bowl of PPI gazpacho and a garden salad of green leaf lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes from our garden, a green onion, and the last of the feta cheese we bought from Old Windmill Dairy at the Farmers’ Market several weeks ago. I put some of the croutons we made last night with the uneaten French bread on both the salad and the soup.

Suzette told me that Debbie had offered to sell a fancy Miele automatic coffee maker to us and we were going to meet her and Jeff for dinner to pick it up.  At 5:00 Suzette called and said we were meeting at Mykonos restaurant at 6:30, so I was able to watch the business report.  We met Debbie and Jeff at Mykonos and loaded the coffee machine into our car and then went into the restaurant.  As I walked into the restaurant  I noticed that Mykonos had a ½ off special on any bottle of wine on the menu on Monday and Tuesday nights, so I was already excited about the meal.  We had a young waitress who turned out to be less than professional, which can be expected, I guess.  She did not clear the empty glasses and plates quickly until I mentioned it to her and then she made an effort to do that and she was talking with another waitress after our entrée orders were sitting on the counter at the kitchen and I had to get her attention and tell her our food was ready.  Other than that she was nice in a limited knowledge way.

Mykonos has an extensive regular menu and a rather large specials menu for this evening that included fresh sea bass on a bed of spaghetti squash, and grilled swordfish and an acorn squash filled with sautéed  salmon and shrimp.  Jeff took the sea bass, Suzette and I decided to split the acorn squash, and Debbie ordered chicken souvlaki. I had seen a dis h on the appetizer menu that intrigued me, grilled octopus, so I ordered that.  The wine selection was a little rough.  The waitress was clueless about the wines.  I ordered a Marcus Gomez Albariño for $32.00 a bottle at full price and had my heart set on that steely dry white.  In a few minutes the waitress returned with the news that the Albariño was sold out.  I said to her, “Then I will have the Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.”  She reply, “I am sorry, we are out of that also.” 
Rather than ask if there were any wines not listed on the menu that were available, I ordered tastes of a “New” Riesling and Kouros white.  She brought the tastes and we sampled them and it became immediately clear that the “New” Riesling was the same old sweetened California Riesling we grew up Onondaga the Kouros white was the pleasantly dry white that Kouros produces every year.  How stupid of me to not realize that a good Greek restaurant could be relied upon to have good Greek wines.  I ordered a bottle of Kouros white.  When it came it was a 2014 and labelled Rhoditis, which I assume is the grape but am not sure, because it seems all Kouros wines are grown in Nemea.  This Kouros’ low end white but it had a surprisingly crisp fruit flavor with just a bit of a warm baked after taste that the winery described as an expression of the Greek summer sun, which was not unpleasant.

Jeff’s corvina sea bass looked delicious, a sautéed flirt laid on a pile of spaghetti squash that had been pulled from its shell into long threads.  Debbie’s Chicken was even more interesting, two about ten inch long bamboo skewers filled with large chunks of chicken,bell peppers and onions and charcoal grilled with steamed vegetables a risottoed orzo. Our acorn squash was huge and had been baked to perfection, not too hard, not too soft, filled with a sauté  of shrimp, salmon, strips of red bell pepper, and spinach and covered with the thick white sauce used on Moussaka and baked and supported on a bed of mashed potatoes. I thought it was a wonderfully creative dish that was well executed and presented, although a touch too heavy with the two different sauces and the mashed potatoes.  Suzette and I split one order and both of us had trouble finishing our half.  Suzette's comment, It's Greek comfort food.”

The best dish of the night was the char grilled octopus.  It was served first as an appetizer on a bed of fresh chopped Romaine lettuce.  It looked awful charred chopped pieces of octopus, but it tasted delicious, lots of tender charred chunks served with a lemon cream sauce that tasted amazingly like my Avgolemono soup.

I loved dinner.  I think Mykonos is a superb restaurant that has both a strong grill and strong sauté line.  All the food was beautifully prepared and presented.  It is my favorite Greek restaurant in Albuquerque.

Bon Appetit 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August 7, 2015 Lamb couscous

August 7, 2015 Lamb Couscous 

I went to Garcia’s Café for huevos locos  at about 11:20, which is machaca, eggs scrambled with chopped jalapeño, tomato, onion and day old brisket.

In the morning I had taken a few minutes to fill the crock pot with four frozen leg lamb chops, four carrots, four Roma tomatoes, two onions, and four stalks of celery, about two Tbsp. Of Italian seasoning, a dash of salt, and nine or ten cloves of garlic fresh from the garden.

By the time Suzette came home and we watched the News Hour, we were hungry. We decided the sauce was thin, so it  would  go best with couscous.  We have had good luck cooking couscous in the microwave oven before so we decided to make couscous.  I went to the garden and picked four stalks of oregano and two sprigs of chives and Suzette picked a handful of chard.  I de-stemmed the chard, plucked the leaves from the oregano and chopped about five prune and added all of them to the Couscous after it had initially cooked. 

We opened a bottle of Famille Perrin Reserve (Total Wine $7.99 less 15%).

After dinner I ate a piece of Fano French baguette with Marin County Brie.

Bon Appetit

August 8, 2015 Gruet Wine Dinner

August 8, 2015  Gruet Wine Dinner 

I went to Taj Mahal for lunch.  Pretty much the usual, a bit of rice, a piece of chicken tandoori, some mixed bean dhal, a kulcha, and a spicy chicken curry in a tomato sauce with lots of raita.  

We had signed up for the Gruet Wine Club members Al Fresco dinner last week when we visited the Winery.  So we dresses in our suit and cocktail dress and drove out at 6:30.  We arrived a little before 7:00 and were served our glass of the wine of the month, the newly released Chenin Blanc, which a little drier than the first one produced two years ago.  I figured why this one is drier, when Laurant described the still rose served as the second wine course of the meal.  He said that he wanted to make a good Rose and this year he mixed Chenin Blanc with pinot noir.  Well he picked my two favorite grapes and the result was a lovely,slightly dry elegant French style rose.  So I was happy to drink a slightly dry Chenin Blanc. 
A bit after 7:00 we were seated in the small courtyard beside the door to the tasting room were there were six or seven tables that were lit with candles.  There was a musician playing music and about 25 persons.  We sat with Diane and Patrick, who were newly weds, having been married three years and living in Santa Fe.  

The hor d’ouvre was a cheese puff that was served with Gruet’s 43 three year old Blanc de Noir champagne.  Laurant explained  that it is called 43 because it was ranked Number 43 on Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of 2014, which is the most highly rated wine ever produced by Gruet.  

The first course was a little strange. It was described as a cold peach soup,nut it tasted of lemon zest, cream and wine.  Sort of a creamy peach zabaglione with grated lemon zest.  It was seved with the Chenin Blanc, which was lovely.  

Then we were served glasses of the rose and Laurent spoke about how he liked rose and hoped to make more in the future.  I clapped and said that I thought it a perfect rose, which I do.  Serving a refreshing wine between courses is a very French way of serving dinner.  

Next was the Chardonnay with Maryland crab cakes with a thinly shaved fennel, mandarin orange slice, and arugula salad.  We hated the Chardonnay but I loved the crab cake and particularly liked the wafer thin fennel strip.

The entrée was soon served, a rack of three lamb riblets with mashed potatoes with their skins on.  Suzette was sure the lamb had been sous vided, because they've recall so uniformly cooked. The lamb and potatoes were served on a puddle of Demi-glacé that was really lovely.  We were served a glass of Pinot noir and Laurent told the story of how when his father had a stroke and was in the hospital in France in 1999, Laurent drew off a sample of his first pinot noir and took it to the hospital for his dad to taste and his dad liked it and that was the last sip of wine his dad tasted because he died within a week.  I liked the Pinot noir with the lamb and Demi-glacé. 

Finally we were served a lovely zabaglione again with lemon zest, with fresh strawberries and blueberries and a glass of Demi-sec champagne. 

This was the best wine dinner I have attended in years.  There are two types of wine dinners;?those that are supported by the winery and  those that are not.  The winery supported dinners are about half the cost of non-winery supported ones, because the wine is free.  This dinner was $65.00, with tip and tax included, which is less than ½ of the normal $125.00 per person cost of most wine dinners, mainly because the help were all employees of the winery, the dinner was hosted by the winery at the winery, and all the wine provided for free by the winery.

I know when a meal is great. It is when you feel better when you stand up after the meal than you did when you sat down. This was one of those meals.  

After dinner around 9:30 we went home and soaked in the hot tub and the had cognacs.

Bon Appetit 


Friday, August 7, 2015

August 6, 2015 Lunch – East Ocean Dinner at Susan and Charles Palmer’s

August 6, 2015  Lunch – East Ocean  Dinner at Susan and Charles Palmer’s

I worked until 12:30 and then drove to East Ocean for my favorite quick delicious modestly priced lunch of Scallops in Lobster Sauce with fried rice and a small side dish of Fred chicken doused with sweet and sour sauce.  As you can see the rice is mixed into the lobster sauce to enhance the flavor of both, which is a basic strategy in Chinese Cuisine, just like saucing a grilled piece of meat is a basic strategy in European Cuisines.  Today they used bay scallops instead of deep sea scallops.  I like deep sea scallops better because they are sliced and put in raw and their milky liquid is released as they cook, which blends its flavor into the lobster sauce.

Suzette was going to Santa Rosa today and we discussed dinner and decided to call the Palmers to see if they wished to cook together.  I called Susan mid morning and she was receptive.  I said we would bring asparagus and the strawberry rhubarb compote we made last night, if they could make a meat.

Later in the afternoon we talked and Susan said they were planning to fix steak and we should come at 7:00.

Suzette arrived a little after 6:00 and relaxed while I continued to work on my water case until almost 7:00.  We then grabbed a bottle of 2012 Perrin Famille Cotes Du Rhone Reserve, an artichoke, the strawberry/rhubarb compote, and the bag of asparagus and walked down  the street to the Palmer’s.  

When we arrived Susan had set out appetizers of Boursin cheese, pistachio nuts, and crackers.  We nibbled and talked and Suzette and I sipped glasses of the red wine as we prepped dinner and I boiled the artichoke. I snapped the ends off the asparagus and loaded them into the asparagus steamer.  Susan made a lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomato salad.  Susan also had bought and cubed a seedless watermelon Susan then boiled ears of corn, while Charlie grilled the boneless ribeye steaks he had previously sous vided for four hours.  The benefit of charbroiling sous vide meat is to impart an attractive texture and flavor too an otherwise fully cooked piece of meat.  The result with the steak this evening was an incredibly tender texture, with a bit of surface charring.  Sous vide still seems almost culinary trickery to me because one is cooking meat twice to make it appear that it is being cooked only once.

Charlie put a garlic salt and pepper rub one the steaks before he grilled them, which gave the steaks more flavor.  In fact, Suzette and I thought the steaks had a slightly salty flavor. 

Susan served Tahitian vanilla gelato with the strawberry/rhubarb compote for dessert and we discussed the problems Blue Bell has had and its progress of re-starting production.  Charlie said something interesting and insightful.  His dream scenario for the Presidential election is for the Republicans to turn on Trump, Trump to get pissed off at the Republican Party, and run as a third petty candidate and split the conservative vote thus allowing the democratic candidate to win with less than a majority of the votes the same way Bill Clinton won with only 42% of the votes over George H.W. Bush in 1992, because Ross Perot garnered 19% of the votes. We did not watch the Republican debate because it would probably just upset us.

The most exciting thing on the home front is that Mike Conrad the contractor finished installing the lam beams to support the roof and opened up the walls between the kitchen and the den.  We now have an open expanded space without walls that includes the kitchen, the T.V. room and stairwell to the basement.   According to Suzette we are on schedule and under budget, which made Charlie and Susan chuckle, since their house remodel took over three years.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 5, 2015 PPI dinner at Cynthia’s house shrimp and avocado salad, Fried Catfish, Remoulade Sauce, Sautéed string beans and salad

August 5, 2015 PPI dinner at Cynthia’s house  shrimp and avocado salad, Fried Catfish, Remoulade Sauce,  Sautéed string beans and salad

Cynthia invited us for a PPI dinner she had cooked last night but did not serve because her dinner guests did not make it.  We drove to Cynthia and Ricardo’s house at 6:00 with fresh rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and a bottle of Winter Haven Pinot Gris (Total Wine).

We started at  the kitchen table drinking a gin and tonic and eating a lovely appetizer of small shrimps in a mayonnaise sauce served on slices of avocado.  The saltiness of the shrimp reminded me of the small shrimp I ate when I lived in Copenhagen for a summer.  Their saltiness derived from the fact they had been cooked in seawater on the boat on its way to port.  The most delicious shrimp of this kind I recall was at a summer dinner party in Copenhagen when we sat around a table peeling what seemed like thousands of small shrimp, which were then mixed with Mayonnaise and dill and perhaps some chopped steamed white asparagus and served on rounds of Fresh French bread as  Danish open faced sandwiches.  The most dramatic small shrimp experience was in 1968 when I first travelled to Oslo, Norway with Bob Howard and Lotte.  We went to the docks at the head of the Oslo fjord where the fishing boats moored by the Town Hall and bought a small brown paper bag from one of the boats filled with fresh shrimp.  These salty small shrimp were some of the freshest, most delicious I ever tasted  and the fact that we were standing in one of the most beautiful spots in the world enhanced the experience.  In my opinion there is no more beautiful country in the world than Noway in the summer.

Getting back to dinner, I opened and poured glasses of Winter Haven Washington Pinot Gris to drink with our salads and while we were eating our salads Cynthia prepared the rest of the dinner, which meant heating a platter of fried catfish filets, a bowl of fresh steamed green beans served with a butter sauce, fresh salad, a lovely mixture of white and wild rice that tasted as if it had been risottoed, and a small bowl of Remoulade Sauce on the dining room table. We filled our plates and had a lovely dinner with lots of talk.  Cynthia had made sliced plums flavored with lemon and honey, but Suzette took four stalks of fresh rhubarb from her garden at her Center for Ageless Living in Los Luna's and the container of fresh strawberries we had bought at Costco on Sunday to Cynthia’s with a cup of sugar and asked Cynthia if we could cook a strawberry and rhubarb compote.  Cynthia graciously allows us the use of her kitchen and soon Suzette had chopped the stalks of rhubarb into bite sized pieces and I had removed the stems from the strawberries and halved them. Suzette put the rhubarb and strawberries into a large pot with the 1 cup of sugar and brought it to a simmer.  We simmered the mixture while we ate dinner, checking and stirring it occasionally.  When the mixture seemed to have melded into a more or less homogeneous compote, we turned off the heat.

After dinner Cynthia brought a pint container of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream to the table and spooned small scoops of ice cream into small ramekins and I then spooned a dollop of the warm compote into each ramekin.  Cynthia placed a bowl of Belgian butter cookies with almonds from Trader Joe’s on the table.  These are among my favorite cookies.  I became endeared to the by the McCrimmon sisters Amy and Cissy, who used to serve them with tea.  I guess a wave of nostalgia came over me and I asked Cynthia if I could have a cup of tea.  We went to the kitchen and she opened the drawer where she kept teas and soon we selected a couple of bags of peach/mint tea and she heated a kettle of water and then brewed a pot of tea.  I really enjoyed the tea and cookies as the conversation between Suzette and Cynthia veered into the realm of difficult clients.  By
9:30 I had drunk them rest of the pot of tea and eaten several more cookies and we all said, “Good night,” ending a very pleasant evening of food and conversation.

I must mention lunch. At 12:30 I was thinking that I would love a bowl of warm soup and recalled that James Turk and I had made arrangements to meet for lunch today at Que Houng, so I called him and he was ready to go to lunch.  We met at Que Houng, which was pretty full today.  James ordered his favorite, chicken in curry sauce on rice and I ordered a bowl of pho with rice noodles, sliced raw beef and beef meatballs. Que Houng puts a little extra effort into almost every dish and today I discovered one of the extras when I squeezed what thought was hoisin sauce into the soup it appeared to be much less viscous than it should have been.  James said, “It is teriyaki sauce,” which did not right to me.  Why would a Vietnamese restaurant have squirt bottles of a traditional Japanese sauce on every table when the usual sauce in Vietnamese restaurant would typically be hoisin sauce.  So I asked the waiter why the sauce was thin and he said, “They mix it with orange juice and other things.”  I learned something new today, that you can alter the flavor and texture of hoisin sauce for the better.

Bon Appetit 

Monday, August 3, 2015

August 1,2015 Lunch – Greenhouse Bistro. Dinner – Wildlife West Adventure Park Chuckwagon Dinner

August 1,2015 Lunch – Greenhouse Bistro. Dinner – Wildlife West Adventure Park Chuckwagon Dinner

We had a fun day of music and food.  We drove to Los Luna's around 10:00 and after I rested for a few minutes.  I was hungry so at 11:00 I walked to the Greenhouse Bistro and ate a lovely lunch.  I started the meal with a bowl of Minestrone soup.  The soup was a clear broth wit fresh carrots, tomatoes, chard and oregano from the Center’s gardens plus red beans and penne pasta, a very delicious, refreshing soup.  

Then I ordered a chicken salad salad.  The bistro jades a wonderful chicken salad from the fresh roasted chicken it cooks in the German Kombi unit using fresh  dill from the Center’s own organic garden.  The salad was vey attractive, served with carrot, red onion and green bell pepper spears on a mound of organic greens with three small piles of chicken salad.  I really enjoyed the salad with a raspberry vinaigrette, a plate of fresh toasted focaccia slices and a glass of lemonade.

As I was finishing lunch I heard the band begin to play, so I took my glass of lemonade outside and sat near the stage and listened to the reggae band from Belen that Suzette had hired to play a luncheon concert.  The kitchen staff made hamburgers on grill set up near the stage with potato salad inside the big tent in front of the stage.  Suzette has planned Saturday musical concerts at lunch during the month of August and a number of other events that are free to the public. 

After a few minutes Suzette came over to me and asked if I wanted to see the orchard, so we walked back to the orchard and I saw the trees laden with fruit.  The quince was particularly impressive..  As we walked out of the orchard we were on the other side of the lawn but in front of the stage and the music had a much more. Balanced sound so I sat in one of the three Adirondack chairs on the south side of the lawn.  Soon Tony Williams came over and we talked water law until 12:50 when I excused myself to go to the Garden Gate Day Spa for a facial treatment by Rosemary, who is about my age and gave me a wonderful facial and mini massage on my shoulders and back and even put cream on my feet and hands to soften the skin on those areas. 

At 2:30 when Rosemary finished the facial, Suzette was waiting and we drove home and had a nap.  The at 5:15 we drove to the Wildlife West Adventure Park for the bird show at 6:00 and to return a bag of corporate documents that I accumulated in 1992 and 1993 , when Roger Alink and I and a group of others started the New Mexico Wildlife Association and formed a partnership to buy and finance the construction of the park. 

Since it was raining I left the documents with Terry, Roger’s wife at the park entrance, where she gave us a wristband for dinner.  We then walked to the covered shed where the bird show was presented.  When we arrived it was full of over 100 people, so we found seats in the back.  There were lots of families with three generations.  Soon Mr. Smiley, a master raptor.  Gave his presentation.  He spoke about birds of prey, vultures, Hawks, Falcons and Eagles and flew a hawk, a falcon and finally a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world.  Unfortunately We missed the peregrine falcon demonstration, much to Suzette’s chagrin because Roger took us on a tour of the constructed improvements to the park.  Roger and the Youth Conservation Corps participants have added lots of improvements over the last few year. At around 7:00 we finished out tour and went to the Chuckwagon area, which is a covered dining stage and serving area that appears to seat over 200 people.  Roger told me they had over 300 people show up for the Chuckwagon dinner a few years ago.  We sat beside a lovely retired couple who were volunteering at a Christian camp up the road who I can only describe as Chuckwagon dinner aficionados.  They had traveled all over the Southwest to Chuckwagon dinners.  Their favorite was in Durango, Colo. And when I told her I had gone to a Chuckwagon dinner in Ruidoso that I liked many years ago the wife told me they were going to drive to Ruidoso the next weekend to go to that one.  I was impressed. The wife told me how Chuckwagon dinners were set up, their evolution and the menus.  She said that beans and potatoes cooked over an open fire are prerequisites.  Usually you get a choice of one meat, although tonight’s meal included a choice of BBQ beef or pulled pork and chicken.  Soon Roger announced organization of the meal and the over 100 people lined up in front of the stage for food.  The method service is as important as the menu.  The wife said that at many Chuckwagon dinners you were served on an aluminum tray like those used on ranches, but tonight’s meal was served on a five compartment styrofoam plastic tray.  When we arrived where the food was being served it reminded me of military dining halls. There  were a series of large stem table serving trays. As one progressed down the food service line a person at each tray would spoon Apple sauce, then cooked beans, then your choice of meats, then a fire roasted baked potato and finally a baked roll and a cookie. There was another booth with a counter filled with some pretty awful and sweet cups of a pink punch.  The Chuckwagon aficionado wife told me that at the more traditional dinners they served stewed apples and beans out of a bean pot beside the fire where they are cooked.
I was impressed with her knowledge and enjoyed the meal more because of her engaging commentary.

After everyone was served the band, Mystic Lizard, took the stage and I thought I recognized the band leader.  When Roger came over I asked who the leader was and Roger said ”Bobbie Goldstein.”  I had met Bobbie Goldstein when I was helping Dave Dewitt and Robert Spiegel start the Chile Pepper Magazine years ago.  We left around 8:00 and since the band was still playing I asked Roger to say hello for me to Bob Goldstein.

We went home and sat under the patio awning and drank wine with Mike and Kathryn and watched the intermittent rain instead of  going to the African music concert.

After a full day of food, treatment, and music, we slept well.

Bon Appetit 

August 2, 2015 Brunch – Gravad Lax and Bagels, Dinner – Grilled Lamb Chops, Chanterelle Stroganoff and Tossed Salad and Mint Chutney

August 2, 2015 Brunch – Gravad Lax and Bagels,  Dinner – Grilled Lamb Chops, Chantrelle Stroganoff and Tossed Salad and Mint Chutney

Mike and Kathryn spent the night.  Suzette and I exercised in the morning and Cynthia came by a bit after 9:30.  I sliced gravad lax I had made last week, onions, fresh tomatoes from the garden and then made up platters with cream cheese and capers plus all the above.  I toasted bagels we had bought at Lowe’s last night and opened a bottle of Spanish La Granja Cava.  We ate under the gazebo in the garden and spent a lovely morning talking and eating.  A bit later Kathryn’s mother joined us and I toasted the last two bagels, sliced the last large tomato and more gravad lax and opened a bottle of Gruet brut rose.

Cynthia was kind enough to give us suggestions for landscaping around the bocce court. 

Around 2:30 Mike and Kathryn and Suzette and I drove to Cynthia’s house for a tour of her new kitchen inside and outside and then we drove to Gruet Winery and tasted champagne and their still wines until almost 4:00.  I joined Gruet's Wine Club and we bought a case of wine with 5 bottles of the new still rose ($13.00, a luscious 100% Pinot noir rose), 4 bottles of the  Blanc de Noir 25 aged in the bottle for three years ($20.00, the pourer said, “Laurent considers this the best value of any of Gruet’s wines.”) and 3 bottles of Chenin Blanc ($12.00, which is very dry this year and lacking in much of the fruitiness of some of Gruet’s prior year’s Chenin Blancs.
We also signed up for a wine dinner for Saturday evening ($65.00 each). 

We tasted almost all the wines that Gruet makes in the course of 1 ½ hours.  We did not like the 2010 Pinot Noir because it had a spicy Zinfandel flavor but did like the Cabernet Sauvignon, which came from Washington grapes and had a very velvety flavor.  We bought a bottle of Cabernet for dinner ($17.00).  By joining the wine club we obtained a 25% discount on all the wine we bought because we purchased at least a case of wine and we got a free tasting each month and a glass of the featured wine of the month.

We then drove to Costco and bought lamb chops and pasta for dinner plus asparagus and strawberries. 

We then went home and discovered that we had forgotten to get cream or half and half for the cream sauce we intended to make with the pasta, so we decided to make a stroganoff sauce with white wine, butter, and sour cream.

I finely chopped six small cloves of fresh garlic, one medium onion, and almost the entire pound of chanterelles.

Suzette fired up the Cajun cooker and boiled a lb. of penne pasta.  Then she cooked the onions, garlic and chanterelles in butter and olive oil and made  the sauce by adding white wine and sour cream. Then we switched the gas to the grill and she grilled the lamb chops to medium rare and Cynthia made a salad with celery , cherry tomatoes, lettuces, and chopped green olives with a white balsamic vinegar dressing.  
Cynthia also brought a mint chutney made with fresh mint, garam masala and Anaheim chili.  Here is her recipe:

We drank the two bottles of Gruet Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner in the garden.
After dinner we retreated inside from the mosquitoes and Cynthia made us dessert.  She had brought a container of fresh Mission figs, a wedge of Gorgonzola, a bottle of sparkling Spanish Cava made from the Monistral grape (Total Wine) and a bag of fresh red plums from one of her gardens.

Cynthia halved about a dozen figs and cut small pieces of Gorgozola cheese and put the small pieces of Gorgonzola on each fig half.  We poured the Cava and ate figs and plums for dessert.

At 10.00 Cynthia said good night and we all went to bed.

Bon Appetit