All posts by Linda

A Healthy and Delicious Breakfast!

A Healthy and Delicious Breakfast!

We are so fortunate to have access to the freshest and BEST produce here. Our breakfast yesterday consisted of blackberries and blueberries grown on the mainland (near where Ron’s sister, Mary, lives at Ajijic, beside Lake Chapala and half an hour from Guadalajara), fresh organic papaya from our friend, Alberto, who lives and has his organic farm just outside of San José del Cabo, fresh whole walnuts from Ron’s Mom that are grown near Santa Clara, CA, and fresh pomegranate, picked in our garden the day before. Add some yogurt and some homemade granola – an explosion of flavor and goodness to start the day!

 

Black Bean Soup With Avocado Salsa

Black Bean Soup With Avocado Salsa

One of our organic farmers, Manuel, had some beautiful black beans available for sale at the market on Saturday and I couldn’t resist buying them. I soaked the whole bag and cooked them the next day with a chopped onion and a generous amount of epazote (to eliminate gas – or at least we always hope so!).

With some of the soaked beans, I made a slightly modified version of a recipe from the New York Times by Mark Bittman, for Black Bean Soup With Avocado Salsa. I made the soup on the stovetop (not in a pressure cooker), added chopped celery, and did not put the Spanish chorizo in as the recipe called for.

Black Bean Soup With Avocado Salsa

This is a delicious soup and what makes it really special is the generous dollop of Avocado Salsa to garnish. I added a dollop of thick sour cream as well – really nice complement to both the soup and the salsa.

Fresh Organic Strawberries and Blueberries

Our dessert tonight were the beautiful fresh organic strawberries and blueberries that were fresh-picked in nearby Pescadero – unbelievably sweet and delicious!

Blood-Orange Rosemary Fizz

Blood-Orange Rosemary Fizz

 

Some of Alberto’s Produce at the Pedregal Organic Market

We are so fortunate to have the organic market half a block away from us on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Wednesday, Manuel had the most beautiful blood-oranges, so I decided to try a new cocktail that evening. I saw a recipe that inspired the drink on the Food & Wine website – it used both blood-orange and rosemary, of which we have two large bushes of.

For each drink (I used red wine glasses to serve), here are the portions:

2 ounces fresh blood-orange (or pink grapefruit juice can be substituted)

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup*

2 ounces Prosecco

1 blood-orange slice, for garnish

1 rosemary sprig, for garnish

Put desired amount of crushed ice in each wine glass. Add the blood-orange juice, Campari and rosemary simple syrup. Mix and top with the Prosecco and garnish with the blood-orange slice and rosemary sprig.

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Blood-Orange Rosemary Fizz

*To make the rosemary simple syrup, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 fresh rosemary sprigs in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved, Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes or until cool. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into an airtight bottle, discarding rosemary sprigs. Cover and chill. Syrup may be stored for up to a month in the fridge.

 

A Special Spoon

A Special Spoon

I started the two day process to make chicken soup tonight. I use a combination of recipes: from Julia Moskin of the New York Times and Ron’s 97 (soon to be 98) year-old Mom, Mother Mary as I love to call her. There is nothing that brings more comfort than a bowl of homemade chicken soup.

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When we were recently in Santa Clara, California, Ron was fighting a bad cough and chest congestion. Moms never stop being mothers and Mother Mary immediately set to work to cook Ron a pot of her very special and delicious chicken soup to make him well again. She keeps two packages of organic (and she will only use organic, bless her!) chicken legs in the freezer in case of sickness and to prepare a pot of her famous and delicious “cure”.

The broth is so thick and filled with goodness that it completely congeals in the fridge. Heat it up and the kitchen is filled with that amazing aroma of pure, beautiful and healing food. Mother Mary learned how to make chicken soup from Aunt Mae, a generous woman who adopted Ron’s family and loved each and every one of the family members as her own, even though there was no blood connection.

Mother Mary told me years ago about a special wooden spoon that she uses that was gifted to her when Aunt Mae passed away. The spoon is well over one hundred years old and holds the energy of the two amazing women who cooked wholesome and nutritious food for their families, friends and loved ones over the years. I never had the privilege of meeting Aunt Mae, but I know that preparing incredible food was and is the most powerful expression of love from Mother Mary (as I’m sure it was from Aunt Mae as well).

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry's

Mother Mary Making Gravy for Thanksgiving Dinner at Claire and Jerry’s

Mother Mary gifted me with this spoon on our last trip. It is the only material thing I ever want from her and she generously passed this special spoon, this legacy, on to me. Every time I hold this spoon, I feel the incredible love and energy of both women. I will cherish it always and think of them every time I use it to make special food for my family, friends and loved ones, just as they have done for over a century.

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Touring The Washington State Wine Region – Day Two

Touring The Washington State Wine Region – Day Two

We headed to downtown Walla Walla mid-day, parked the car and started to wander and explore more of the town. As we had read that K Vintners of the Walla Walla Valley had produced, according to Wine Spectator, the #31 wine in 2015, their 2012 wine called “The Creator”, we were curious and wanted to do a tasting at Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners. Ron and I shared a tasting of six red wines, starting from lighter to more complex. A couple of the wines were fine, but none of the six impressed either of us enough to make a purchase.

A few of the more than 15 plus mass-produced wines from K Vintners/Charles Smith Wines

A few of the more than 15 plus mass-produced wines from K Vintners/Charles Smith Wines

After our tasting, we went looking for a hot bowl of soup on a very cold afternoon.  Our new friend, Terry, recommended the Walla Walla Bread Company right across the street from him at the Fort Walla Walla Cellars Tasting Room. We sat up at the bar to warm up as it was directly in front of their very impressive wood-fired oven. We ordered one of each of their soups of the day: Smoked Turkey Lentil and Broccoli Cheddar. Both soups were delicious but the Smoked Turkey Lentil soup was the winner – full of flavor and goodness.

Some of the artistanal breads made at the Walla Walla Bread Company (photo courtesy of http://www.w2breadco.com/#home)

Some of the artistanal breads made at the Walla Walla Bread Company (photo courtesy of http://www.w2breadco.com/#home)

We ordered a glass of Balboa Cabernet Sauvignon as well as the Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon which our server, Ashlee, highly recommended. We then shared a Pork Torta (pork shoulder, purple pickled cabbage, salsa verde, feta and avocado, served in a delicious torta) that was served with two sides: JoJo’s (wood-fire oven roasted potatoes with garlic, paprika and thyme) and Panzanella (Italian bread salad).

Our meal was excellent as was the wine and Ashlee’s service. One of the other servers was just finished work and generously offered her recommendations on our choices as well. We especially enjoyed watching Raymond prepare the food to be cooked in the wood-fired oven and then plating the lunch dishes as they were ready to be served. The breads in this restaurant/bakery looked AMAZING and we will definitely be back when we’re next in the area.

Taking a short break!

Taking a short break!

It was Halloween and it is a BIG event in Walla Walla. Main Street is closed off to all vehicular traffic for almost 3 hours and the store owners and businesses pass out candy to a never-ending parade of trick-or-treaters, both young and old.

The never-ending line of trick-or-treaters

The never-ending line of trick-or-treaters

We had learned about this special Halloween tradition from our new friends, Terry, Pat and Shelley at the Fort Walla Walla Cellars Tasting Room the day before, and they invited us by to check it out.

The Cookie Monster!

What a great idea to keep the kids off the streets and safe and a wonderful opportunity for the store and business owners to do something really nice for the children and the community.

Pat dishing out candy to the masses!

Pat dishing out candy to the masses!

Fort Walla Walla Cellars went through thousands of pieces of candy. Pat’s arm was getting tired, so I jumped in to help him for a short while until Shelley and her granddaughter arrived to take over. It was such a lot of fun!

The cutest baby elephant!

The cutest baby elephant!

Terry and Pat then generously invited Ron and I to join them for the Industry Night at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel. Monday nights are Industry Nights at this beautiful hotel and it is a tradition for people in the wine industry to bring a bottle or two to taste and share with others. Terry brought three fabulous bottles for us to taste (from Fort Walla Walla Cellars and Watermill Winery) and, what was left over, he left for the staff to taste and enjoy.

The historic Marcus Whitman Hotel in the background on the right

The historic Marcus Whitman Hotel on the right in the background

The four of us shared Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms and Calamari with our wine tasting – both appetizers were delicious but the wine was absolutely amazing. We felt so honored to be included in the evening and to sample these beautiful wines. We all ordered a Burger and the four of us finished by sharing an Apple Cobbler.

Our last night in Walla Walla was so special and we look forward to coming back to this area one day. The wines and food in the area are truly fabulous, but we are most grateful for the new friendships we’ve formed and the memories we’ve made on this trip. We’ve learned in our travels that it’s not so much about where you go and what you do, but rather the people you meet on the journey.

Some great and creativec costumes!

Some great and creative costumes – a Halloween to remember!