By the time you read this, I will be on a plane heading to Barcelona, Spain!
The photo was taken in February 2013 at Peggy’s 50th birthday party.
Anne, Lorraine, Connor, Peggy, Stevo, Natalie and Samantha (standing)
Peggy, Lorraine (Peggy’s sister-in-law) and I are going for a nearly two-week long trip to visit Natalie, Peggy’s daughter, who is studying abroad in Barcelona.
How lucky are we?!?
There is supposedly internet in the house we’ve rented. If so, I shall blog from there… if not, I hope to be able to blog at least intermittently.
March 10, 2014 1 Comment
Here is what I’m up to today…
Who am I kidding? It looks more like this…
March 9, 2014 2 Comments
“It’s like trying to pick your favorite child.”
Today I tackle the last of Lori’s four questions she’d posted after I asked for you, the readers, to pose questions to me for a new Friday Q & A feature.
I thought it was going to be the easiest of the four, so I “saved the best for last” – boy, was I wrong! Here is Lori’s question:
“I know with your vast database, it is practically impossible, but can you tell us your list of the top-10 recipes that are quick, easy-peasy, crowd-pleasing, always get asked for the recipe, recipes? I am always overwhelmed when I get on your website and start looking through everything. I get so sidetracked sometimes, I totally forget why I went on in the first place.”
Sounds like an easy enough question, until you consider that I’ve posted 1,454 times over these last 4 1/2 years… that amounts to at least 1,000 recipes!
And as I considered the question more carefully, it became impossible to narrow down to ten. I found ten recipes I love and that fit Lori’s criteria before I got past the “appetizer” section of my Complete Recipe Index. In fact, before I knew it, I had over 25 appetizers alone.
I narrowed those down to six and started looking at the “Easy-Breezy” section of the index. Again, I had a list longer than my arm, so I just narrowed that down to two soups and two slow-cooker recipes.
As a result, I have to say, “No Lori, I can’t give you a definitive list of my Top 10 recipes on this site, quick, easy-peasy, crowd-pleasing or otherwise.”
Instead, here are six appetizers, two soups and two crockpot meals to get you started on a Top 10 List of your own. I can guarantee that each of these is crowd-pleasing and if you make them once, they will instantly become a part of your repertoire.
March 7, 2014 1 Comment
Let’s begin with a little history of our neighborhood Progressive Dinners. The first dinner was held in April 2005 and the second in November of the same year. I was a participant in those first two dinners, not a planner. I became involved in planning by the third dinner, held in April 2006.
The one person who has planned these events for all nine years is my friend and neighbor, Ronnie. She is the real expert in how to pull off a successful Progressive Dinner, but since I have a blog and I’m the one writing this … I shall be your expert for today.
Last Saturday, we had our 10th Neighborhood Progressive. Here is a list of the ten we’ve had thus far:2005 April – Italian
2005 November – Western/BBQ
2006 April – White Trash/Tacky
2007 February – Valentine’s Love
2008 April – Mexican Fiesta
2009 February – Mardi Gras
2010 January – Jamaican/Island
2010 December – Holiday
2012 April – 1970’s
2014 March – Speakeasy
As you can see, a couple of times we held two in one year and then there were a couple of years we missed getting it together.
It takes a lot of work and organization to put on a party of this nature for a large group. We have 118 homes in our neighborhood and every single household receives an invitation. If everyone showed up, there would be over 300 party-goers. That has never even come close to happening. I believe our largest group has been about 58 participants or 29 households.
The most difficult task is picking a date. It works best in the spring or fall. We generally avoid the winter since the holidays are already jam-packed and the summer as well because it is not only too hot but also too many people are out of town.
The problem with the spring is working around the various school spring breaks and the fall becomes difficult because around the time the nights get cool enough (late October) it seems as though the holidays are right around the corner and people’s calendars fill quickly.
Once you get over that hurdle and you have your date … here is our organizational structure and our step-by-step instructions:
We begin the evening all gathered at one home – this is the “Appetizer House.” The Appetizer Hosts provide bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages. Additionally, they decorate according to the theme and set the ambiance with theme-appropriate music and such.
Each participating couple brings a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white wine along with them to the Appetizer House. A few select couples are asked to bring two cases of beer (light and regular) instead.
When the invite is sent out, there is a call for “Dinner Hosts.” Participants can check this box if they would like to host 10 people at their home for dinner. They set the table and ambiance and let the party come to them. In the past we haven’t required the Dinner Hosts to provide any of the food, but we’ve decided to change that and will now let them have first choice at what they would like to provide, instead of being assigned a dish, which is how all other participants discover what they will be bringing.
Finally, there is a “Dessert House” – this is where everyone joins back together after being divided up for the dinner hour. The Dessert Host is responsible to coffee, liquors (if desired) and for making sure the leftover beer, waters, and other beverages from the Appetizer House get to their house before everyone descends upon them after the dinner hour.
March 6, 2014 7 Comments
I received a request to post the recipe for Chicken a la Rose, which I mentioned in an earlier post. It was the main course at one of our Progressive Dinner host homes.
Additionally, in an email from a follower, I was asked to give details explaining exactly how we organize our neighborhood Progressive Dinners.
Today – the recipe.
Tomorrow – How to Host a Progressive Dinner.
Chicken a la Rose was a popular main course during the 1920′s. You’ll find it on this menu from a dinner in February, 1924, for President Coolidge.
Cream of Celery with Toasties
Aiguillette of Striped Bass Joinville
Potatoes a la Hollandaise
Medaillon of Spring Lamb, Chasseur
Asparagus Tips au Gratin
Breast of Chicken a la Rose
Waldorf Salad, Mayonnaise
Venetian Ice Cream
March 5, 2014 1 Comment
Saturday night was our 10th annual neighborhood Progressive Dinner. The theme this time was “Speakeasy” and we had so much fun with it.
We started with appetizers at Ronnie’s beautiful home, then split up to have dinner at the various host homes and finally gathered back together at our house for desserts.
This was what greeted guests when they entered our house.
At Joanne’s, my “dinner host” home, I enjoyed a wonderful meal where we indulged on Lemon Drops and…
… not only delicious, but beautiful Chicken a la Rose, made by Kim…
… along with Waldorf Salad and Rosemary Potatoes…
… all in a perfectly jazzy dining room! Pictured are Flapper Ronnie, Cool Cat Scott (with his faux cigarette) and Flapper Kim. Can you even imagine a more perfectly themed dining room than this one, with its life-sized jazz band mural?
It all began at Ronnie’s and her beautifully set hor d’oeuvres table!
I made the appetizers for Ronnie’s house and she provided the desserts for mine. I made Piglets in a Warm Puffy Blanket, Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Mushrooms, Spinach Deviled Eggs, and the following recipe for Shrimp Canapes.
March 3, 2014 5 Comments
This is the third installment of my Friday Q & A, also know as “Questions from Lori & Answers from Linda.”
Myself, Lori and Amy
If you recall, my sweet and dearly missed friend, Lori, asked me four detailed questions when I first challenged all of you to pose them to me. Lori stepped up to the plate and I’ve already answered the first and then the second. This is the hardest of the four, but I don’t want to shrink from the task at hand any longer.
Lori and her adorable husband, Jonathan, have been doing business and living in Tokyo, Japan since September 2012. Lori is fabulous cook and had the most gorgeous, huge, well-equipped, workable and enviable kitchen imaginable when they lived here in Scottsdale.
This is Lori’s Tokyo kitchen! Can you imagine? When I wrote about how much of a closet Marissa’s San Francisco kitchen was, Lori wrote to say that she envied it, now you can see why! Here is what Lori emailed me at the time:
“I have attached pictures of our charming little Tokyo kitchenette. And when I say “charming” – I use that term in the loosest of senses . . . the charm quickly wore off … and we are left bumping into each other, cursing at each other and are at our wits end to figure out what to cook on our 2 miniscule burner cook top.
No oven (regular, toaster or otherwise) but a decent microwave, but little else to work with in terms of pots, pans or cooking implements. And clean-up! Did you see the size of that dishwasher? Although I have to say it is very àpropos given the fact that we have exactly 4 plates, 4 salads, 4 glasses and cereal bowls.
So, with information and visuals in hand- what the heck would you cook here? Oh-and of course I forgot to mention, there is no access to “normal” foods, spices, condiments, etc. So, Miss Linda – if you were in my slippers and kimono what would you do?”
The exact question Lori put forth on that Friday, three weeks ago, was this:
Is there a way or rule of thumb to adapt any recipes for the oven to a microwave? I literally never used the microwave except for re-heating in the US, and sadly that is all I have to use here in Japan (along with my tiny stove-top).
My problem is that, I too, only use the microwave to thaw, melt and reheat food. I do not use it to cook with. I had to turn to the internet for help. Then I tested the theories on a few small items, a chicken breast, a rice casserole, and a piece of salmon. I found all the hints and tricks below to be spot on. Lori, I hope this helps and I hope that while you’re visiting here in the States, you’ll pick up a microwave cookbook and then experiment on your own when you get back to Japan. Please keep me (us) posted on any successes and on the failures too! You have a knack for writing amazingly hilarious “fail” stories!
Here are my Dozen best tips for Microwave Cookery
February 28, 2014 No Comments
My life is spiraling out of control, out of my control. Others are currently pulling the strings. As a result I have nothing new to blog about so today I’m giving you a Throwback Thursday.
Today is a special day for my longtime friend… who also was a bridesmaid in my wedding some 28 years ago …. today is her birthday.
The two cocktails and appetizer in THIS POST are what I served when we had Birthday Girl Karen and her husband, Bob, over for dinner last year about this time.
February 27, 2014 1 Comment
Chef/Restauranteur and longtime friend, Mark Tarbell of Tarbell’s Restaurant, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes on Monday and Tuesday nights. His menu was inspired, fun, and delicious. The first course was Frico with Smoked Paprika Aioli.
Frico, is an Italian savory food, typical of Friuli, in the northeastern tip of Italy, which consists of a thin crisp wafer of shredded cheese, baked or fried until crisp. The customary cheeses used include Montasio, Parmesan or mozzarella. Mark used Montasio cheese, but Parmesan is easier to find and works just as well.
February 26, 2014 4 Comments
We don’t enjoy going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.
It’s overcrowded, the service isn’t always the best and working in the food industry, I can not relax and enjoy myself knowing that the restaurant is desperate for you to finish and leave so they can sit their next reservation.
Since Valentine’s was on a Friday this year, it made it easy to go out for our Valentine’s celebration on Saturday night instead. We wisely chose Bink’s Scottsdale.
Dinner was, of course, fantastic. The one thing I had that I thought I might be able to recreate was the Queen’s Affinity Cocktail. The menu said that it was made with Bombay Sapphire, Orgeat, and muddled Lemon and Mint.
Before I made the cocktail at home, I had to figure out what the heck orgeat is and then find out where to buy it or how to make it.
Orgeat is pronounced “or-zsa” – “zsa” as in Zsa Zsa Gabor.
After some research, it appeared that orgeat should be easy enough to find at any liquor store. I also learned that homemade orgeat is far superior to store-bought. As a result, I made my own.
First I shall share with you a recipe for my Queen’s Affinity Cocktail Knockoff and then for the Homemade Orgeat.
February 24, 2014 2 Comments