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R. Moretti

I have some small scale reverse glass paintings by R. Moretti that I just adore.

Both are rural Italian scenes, a farm house in the background. I used to having these little gems beside my bed, when we lived in the city. I’m guessing they made a subconscious impact on us, since now we are people that have a town and country life. With all the heavy clads it reminds me of the end of summer, and beginning of the autumn is looming in the horizon.

I love how the artist made use of the light just breaking through the clouds, and the detail is amazing for such a small painting. One has touches of orange, indicating the poppies that are still in bloom. The other has a creek with a waterfall, with light bouncing on the rocks. I just love how paintings take us out of existence in this time and space, then transports us to another location. Well, of course, you have to be willing to use your imagination.

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Harvest Season

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

There’s something magical about harvest season when you live in wine country. It’s a current of electricity that runs through the everyone and everything. I always think of Dr. Seuss. Ya know those giant machines that come in to clean up after “It 1 and 2 and the kids? Well, there are grape. Picking machines driving on the roads at this time, and Dr Seuss is at the forefront of my thoughts…I kind of giggle like a child when they get in front of me. I can take it for a mile or so, but then I have to pass them, but not without waving like a deranged lunatic. It is just exciting!!

We don’t use machines to harvest our grapes, we have to hire people. My husband as well as our winemaker get out in the field and pick with all the other people working in our fields. Just this past week we have already processes several tons of grapes, and pressed them. So, the fermentation process is already starting for the 2017 wines. I believe the Merlot for this year has already been picked, destemed, and pressed. 

These were photos of the grapes before some of the fruit was dropped. We have to drop fruit so the healthiest grapes will get the most water, and the best sunshine. Depending on the variety, canopy may have to be cut back to get the right amount of sun, or less sun. We want to pick at just the right amount of Brix, which is the sugar content in the grapes, too high, and the wine is too sweet, you want just the right amount to make great wine.

 We try to maintain a sustainable vineyard, and keep the dropped fruit for compost. Once the grapes are pressed the must will be used for more compost to mix back into the soil and boost the soil with microbes that recondition the soil.  Our ducks are always in the vineyard taking care of the slugs, and soon we want to introduce babydoll sheep and chickens. The sheep will help with the grass and cover crops, and the chickens will take care of the insects in the vineyard. The chickens will also give us fantastic eggs to eat. It all makes for better wine every year. A wine that you can enjoy and feel good about drinking. We look forward to getting closer to becoming more biodynamic! 

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Bacon Wrapped Albacore Tuna

“A tuna steak and salad? Seventy bucks. Welcome to Los Angeles.” Mark Zupan

For the tuna

2 trimmed sushi-quality albacore tuna loins, each about 1-1/2 pounds

Course sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

6 to 8 strips of thin cut artisanal bacon

Pepper Cream Sauce

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large shallots, peeled and finely diced

1 tablespoon freshly ground peppercorns

1/4 cup of Cognac

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Course sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoon of fresh tarragon chopped, plus extra sprigs for garnish

1/2 lemon

Tuna- Sprinkle tuna loins with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. For each loin, cut 4 lengths of butchers string, about 12 inches long, and lay them parallel to each other (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart). Place a strip of bacon in the center, perpendicular tot he strings. Lay a tuna loin on the bacon. Lay two more strips of bacon on top of the tuna (3 if it’s a large loin), bring the strings snugly over the loin.

Grill on a grill grate until the bacon and tuna are seared, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with tongs to sear the remaining sides. The interior of the tuna should retain its rosy color; do not over cook. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the butter once the saucepan is hot, then add the shallots. Cook the shallots until they are translucent and soft. Add the black pepper and Cognac. Add the white white, and bring to a boil; reduce by half. Stir in cream and mustard and let the sauce simmer until it coats the back of the spoon. Add salt to taste. Stir in chopped fresh tarragon and squeeze of lemon. Remove the strings, and enjoy.

This would go great with our Estate Cab. Franc. It scored a 94 in San Francisco, and won double gold. IMG_0271

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Baked Chicken and Magical Mashed Potatoes

Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well. Michael Pollan

Magical Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs of potatoes  4 ounces of butter, 2 cups of milk, teaspoon of salt

Potato ricer, and a mixer

Peel the potatoes, and cut them into small pieces, cover them with water, and start to boil. Add a teaspoon of salt to your water. Once the potatoes are boiling, check them with a fork to see how if they are soft. Drain the water off the potatoes, and in the mixing bowl add the 4 ounces of butter.

Spoon out the potatoes to the ricer, and push the potatoes through the ricer into the mixing bowl. Continue until you are finished. Add about 2 cups of milk, you may need a little more or a little less, it depends on how fluffy or pureed you prefer your potatoes.

Baked Chicken

Stop buying your bread crumbs! When your bread is starting to lose it’s freshness, leave it out so it can become dry. If you have a food processor, put the pieces of bread in there, and store your bread crumbs in a container or plastic bag. What are you going to need?

Chicken,  3 cups of bread crumbs, 1 cup olive oil, spices and herbs you like, use at least a teaspoon of each, Italian Parsley, Oregano, Basil, Cumin, Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Tarragon, Sage and Rosemary are our favorites, but you can add what you like. Three bowls are needed, and a cookie sheet.

Preheat your oven to 450, wash your chicken and put it in a big bowl, Your going to need three bowls. One bowl for your chicken, one bowl for olive oil, and one bowl is going to have the fine breadcrumbs and all your herbs and spiced mixed together.

Give your chicken a bath in the olive oil, and then your going to roll the piece of chicken in the bread crumbs. Add each piece to the cookie sheet.

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It takes about 30 minutes to bake your chicken. Make sure they are crispy and brown before you take them out of the oven. The naked ones I have in the oven are ones I save for lunches. They are just given a olive oil bath, and herbs and spices.

Enjoy!

 

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Ode to My Husband

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” Judy Garland

As we approach 20 years of marriage I want to tell you all how wonderful my husband is…First, I can’t believe it has been almost 20 years. We met on Yahoo, while I was working in the Museum and he worked at the Lab. We chatted in a chat room often, and ironically enough we basically were doing what young people do now, typing to each other everyday…kind of recapping our day to each other. We then moved on to emailing, and finally started talking on the phone. By the time we were talking on the phone, I was living in San Francisco. We finally met at the clipper ships, and each of us had a gift for each other. I had a wizard for him, since his name online was “Merlin” (the wizard in Camelot). My online name was Contessa Grigia, which just mean Countess Gray. He purchased a giant black teddy bear that was in a giant red gift bag.

We met at 10am, because we wanted to make sure we would get the most out of our day, and just in case we didn’t like each other, we wouldn’t waste our day. We had a great time, we not only laughed, but we talked, about everything and anything. We even went to the grocery store and made spaghetti together. I never had so much fun on my first date!

We met in person in the month of March, and we were married in September. We were married at my church in San Francisco, and I moved to Oakland. We always loved taking long country rides in the Toyota. Sometimes we were quiet during the ride, and sometimes we would not stop talking there was never a point when we forced each other to talk or be quiet, we just let it happen. We rode our bikes all over Berkeley, and took long walks through the Oakland hills. We got our geek on when we created websites together, and we even had web rings, which really geeky people will remember.  We won all kinds of awards for our websites too. We purchased codes that we had on our website, available for people. We worked on 3D puzzles together that would take up our whole dining room table.  The whole time we would go in and out of talking and being quiet, just concentrating.

Since his parents lived right across the street we would go to their house every Sunday for dinner. We would all watch “Funny Videos”, and when 9PM would roll around we would go home, and the perfume of faux orange would be hang in the air. To this day the smell of that flower reminds me of walking home from across the street. We had so many wonderful dinners and conversations at that old house.

We had our first child, Sergio. His name was the one that Roberto always longed for, and Sergio was the name of the nemesis of Cesarina when she worked with the Ferrari family. He was the meaner kid that always gave Cesarina a hard time. After she waxed the floor, he slide through the fresh wax and screwed up the whole hallway. She had to start all over again. Roberto and I had a two reference books that we called “owners manuals”, when something was questionable we would ask “Where is the owners manual?” We would take our giant stroller down to College Avenue and collect beanie babies for Sergio. We went a little crazy with that whole collection. I mean really, it’s almost embarrassing. It was just so much fun at the time.

Roberto lost his father, and it was the first time he ever lost someone so close to him. I had to make the phone call to him to come home from work. It was a tough time for him and his mother, but they handled it was dignity and grace.

Roberto and I renovated our house in anticipation for our second child, we hired an architect, and interviewed several construction people. We finally got all the permits and finalized our decisions for the house, and then I was too pregnant for renovation. We had to wait until Sabrina was a little older. We decided it would have been too much dust for a little baby. Finally, it came time to start the house, and it was a HUGE deal. Not only were we building on, but also digging out the basement to make it larger. We were going from 1100 to 3500 square feet. Everyday, we had to clean up with the kids, and get ready for the next day. It was exhausting for both of us. Roberto was the finisher for the house. He built all the crown molding in the house. He had the tool made, and then he milled each and every piece of molding that went into the house. He cut every sheet of hand painted paper for the ceiling, and even fired me when I couldn’t hold still while holding the paper. He replaced me with a cardboard box on top of a ladder. LOL! True story!

Those country drives were marriage savers, and Roberto would encourage me to go to the movies with my girlfriends. He would stop at antique stores that were on our way to obscure places. We would take our chances, and take our time. He would be outside sometime pushing the stroller, and I would go in the stores.

We have had tough times too, just like everyone else. Cesarina was never easy to get along with, and would often try to start problems between the two of us. She got cancer, and we took care of her. Then we had my dad come live with us for 10 months, and he was an instigator too. I mean with parents, reconstruction, and everything else…we are married for life!

Marriage is hard work, it’s compromise when you want your own way. It is understanding when the other needs your compassion. Everyday, he kissed me before we say “good night”, every morning for the last 20 years we kiss before someone leaves. Even when we have been pissed off with each other, we always end our evening with a kiss. It was part of our contract that we had with each other before we ever got married. Part of our contract was never ever say “I will divorce you.” Neither of us have ever said the word to each other. Part of our agreement was Never say the word unless we are really going to end our marriage.

My husband is the hardest working man I have ever known. Willing to do whatever it takes to get things done. It may be loud at times, but after he it’s off his chest he doesn’t bring it up again. We never hold our past against each other either. What has happened, has happened, we can’t change it, why linger over something that can’t be changed? It’s been a wonderful 20 years, and I hope we have another 20 years together. A destination winery, with all of our other dreams unfolding as well. We have one child that is in college, and one is a senior in high school. Our children are wonderful human beings, and I am ever so grateful that we found each other and created such loving children.

Thank you Roberto for making my life so much better with you being a part of it! I love you, and am so gad we stated “talking” to each other so long ago! We’ve been through so much…2 children, 2 renovations, 6 dogs, 25 goats, 100 chickens, 27 ducks, 3 miniature donkeys, 2 cows, 30 scooters, 3 trains,  7 apartment complexes, 5 websites, 100’s of pieces of art, and one giant ass move! Plus, all our new adventures and a destination winery.

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Traveling, Pouring, and Having Fun

“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.” Henry David Thoreau

 

One reason why I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog is because I haven’t been able to keep up with my own life.

Honestly, I need a vacation!

Recently, I have been gone just about every weekend. A few weekends past, Sunni and I went to Los Angles. OMG! So, in Los Angles double yellow lines are only suggestions to the people that reside in the area. If you are a visitor in the area of Los Angles make sure that you remember that it is like driving in the wild, wild, west. If you’re in the fast lane, you better being doing at least 70 MPH. AT LEAST…wink, wink.

When I am done working at a venue, I like to take a little side trip to learn something. This particular time, it was going to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Sunni and I rented the head sets, and were off on our adventure through the Mission. It was so beautiful and informative. Here are some photos of our adventure…

 

 

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Olive Oil Pancakes

Not only do we have our Sunday dinners together, but we also enjoy our Sunday breakfast. Anyone that has been to my house knows that I use olive oil for cooking, and that is no different with my pancakes.

 

 

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old fashion bowl

What are you going to need?

2 cups of all purpose flour                        1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt                                       2 large eggs

1 1/2 cup of milk                                         3 tablespoons of Olive oil

Mix all your dry ingredients first, and then add the wet ones. Get as many as the lumps out with the whisk as possible.

While you are mixing the wet ingredients, you may want to turn on your stove top so the skillet gets hot before adding your butter or your olive oil to the skillet.

Use a ladle or a bog spoon to scoop some batter to add to your hot and now oiled or buttered skillet. Depending on the size of your skillet or griddle you can do many or a few, but you will want to flip once tiny bubbles appear on your pancakes.

Once you have them on the plate you or your guests can decide if they want butter or jam on their pancakes. We use hartley farms jams, not only are they our neighbor, but a friend that makes awesome jam!

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