Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Remember K-TEL?

Back when music came on records, did anybody else buy those "greatest hits" compilations put out by K-TEL? I know that I had a few of them in the 80s, back when I was awfully fond of Lionel Richie, Thriller and Wham. Thank goodness tastes change. Although, strangely, I'm still usually listening to 70s and 80s music. Hmmm.

I mention K-TEL because my one year blogiversary is coming up in a couple of days and I thought that I would look back to what I posted way way way back last year (forever on the Internets, don't you know...). Unlike K-TEL, I don't know that I'd call these greatest hits, but it's fun to look through the bargain bin just the same.

For those who are long time readers (Hi, Mom and B) you might recognize my various fads; for the rest, I'm spinning some of the oldies:

My fascination with France: Onion Soup, scrambled eggs and a little peek into homemaking in la maison.

To Russia with love: a stew (see the comments for the recipe) and tea.

Waxing Nostalgic: brigadoon, June Cleaver, and aprons.

Thanks to all of you for visiting my blog and posting your wonderful comments. I really appreciate it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Random Recipe Monday - Pumpkin Dumplings

The word "dumpling" is so cute, don't you think? It conjurs images of "The Apple Dumpling gang" and big pots of chicken n' dumplings, and fat cheeked babies. It also makes me think of wonderful dim sum meals and things savory. That's good news because I'm trying to cut back on sugar. I know, no fun that's for sure. It certainly puts a crimp in my cupcake baking. But I can still make dumplings - especially savory ones.

"Pumpkin" is another cute word. My favorite word for adorable children, actually. It's also a versatile veggie that works for both sweet and savory dishes. So, just imagine when these two language lovelies get together. Voila, .pumpkin dumplings that work well with fall flavors.

More like gnocchi than your grandma's dumplings, the flavor is mild and more about the butter that the dumplings are sauted in, rather than a burst of pumpkin (I said no sugar, not fat...). You could amp up the taste by increasing the nutmeg but I like them a little more mellow, a little more of a background player to grilled kielbasa or pork chops. A little sage in the butter might be nice and I'll try that next time. But like all good dumplings, the pleasing and the plump goes hand in hand and that's what makes them good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Whoa, Nellie

My head is spinning. I'm listening to news, trying to get a handle on everything that is happening right now. WAMU, bailouts, debate on, debate off, debate on...everything is spinning.

My first thought was a song (which is usually the case - former singer). I couldn't stop thinking about REM's "It's the end of the world as we know it". I was going to link the video. But I couldn't. If ever we were in need of shiny, happy thoughts, it is now.

Hang on folks, there is a heck of a ride ahead of us. I don't like spinning rides but I fear there isn't much chance of this one ending anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An apple a day...

Have you noticed that apples don't taste like apples anymore? Though not a fan of the Wachowski Bros, I must say that the scene from the Matrix where the character Mouse says "You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn't figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything" has been on my mind. That's how I feel about apples now.

Apples taste like each other or nothing, depending upon the apple. Sure, some are more sour - granny smith apples hit pucker sooner than golden delicious, but the quintessential appleyness seems to be missing from the fruit at the grocery.

And no wonder. Out of the 17,000 different kinds of apples recorded over history, how many are left? A handful, a basket full - not even a bushel. I bet the local grocery store has five or six, tops. Talk about disappointing.

So I'm on a quest. To find the apple. The real taste of an apple. Not the bland juiciness of a fuji or the mushy graininess of a red delicious. I want to find out what apples really taste like - the apples from the past, when apples had flavor. (You know, back in the same time when roses actually had a scent. When we hadn't bred everything away for perfection.)

This weekend, we'll be heading to the local farms to see what's out there. I don't expect really exotic selections like the Allum or the Arkansas Black, but perhaps we'll find some gravensteins or pippins. Something with some character, some flavor, some zip.

Foodhistory's chart of apples will be on my bookmarks for awhile while I scratch this apple itch. Maybe I'll even look for a variety or two to plant in my own yard. I can't help wondering when we all decided that blemish-free fruit was better than flavorful fruit? Is a year round supply of bland better than a few months of wonderful? I think not.

If you have any favorite apple varieties, please let me know so I can look for a local sample. I'd love to try them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oktoberfest, Ja ist es gut.

I think I've mentioned before that I don't drink beer. It just isn't my cup of tea, as it were. Ahem. It certainly looks good - especially those pints of Guinness or the Sam Adams commercials with the frothy stuff and loads of talk about winter wheat, hops and ale. The closest I get is using it in cooking.

So why would I post about Oktoberfest? Well, I think there is more to this German celebration than drinking, right? Ok, well, there is more than just drinking, anyway. There is also eating. That I can get behind.

I don't come from German roots and I'm not always partial to things that end in -wurst or -braten. But there are plenty of other hearty dishes that go nicely with autumn and heck, I'm always up for a good pretzel.

So, donned appropriately in lederhosen - man, these shorts are chaffy - and empty stein in hand, I'm ready to try out a few favorites (or culinary knock-offs, either way).

My first stop is a Fried German Potato Salad. I've always loved fried potatoes and onions as a side dish and this is a variation on that theme. I think a roast pork loin with beer sauce would go nicely with that.

We could finish off with some more chewy pretzels but I'm in the mood for something sweet. How about lebkuchen? (Think gingersnap but chewy). That should go well with a mug of...cider.

Whether you make it to Munich or not, enjoy Oktoberfest. It runs until early October traditionally, so you have plenty of time to polish those steins or savor that sauerkraut.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Snaps

Punkin at the State Fair
Black pumpkin table runner
A Vintage Halloween acquisition
Never going to turn red...
These either...
The moles are back...

Random Recipe Monday - Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

I am sick. I have been all weekend, but it has really hit the heights today. I have a wicked sore throat and laryngitis, which I tend to get when I'm sick. Go figure. In fact, this blog is the most "talking" I've done in two days.

When I'm sick, I go straight for comfort food - who doesn't it? Last night, hubby made up a batch of biscuits and sausage gravy for dinner. Yeah, for dinner. It hit the spot. Tonight, we're having pot pie - and I'm not even going to make them from scratch. Nope, going with the frozen Marie Callender pies that I keep in the freezer for food emergencies (they are quite good, I must say).

But one thing I will be making is this chocolate pudding because that sounds soooooo good on my throat right now. I've been drinking tea with honey non-stop and I'm in desperate need for something else.

This is no way to start off the autumn season. Ah-choo!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Minestrone, anyone?

Continuing with my veggie lust, I thought that a big batch of minestrone would fit the bill and get my family to eat some vegetables. Hubby and NR were both under the weather and I believe in the restorative power of soup. But neither guy is big on vegetables, so I knew the soup would have to have a bit more going on than just that.

Minestrone typically uses ingredients that you have on hand, whatever is in season. For mine, I used some zucchini, carrots, asparagus and some heirloom tomatoes. To make the dish a bit heartier, you could use potatoes or beans but I went with pasta and some meatballs. The veggies were prominent so it still is a minestrone in my book and it was tasty. Even if some of the veggies stayed at the bottom of the bowl, NR took in some, along with the broth, so the minestrone did its job. Plus, it made good leftovers. Here's my concoction:

Mama D's Minestrone:
1 sweet onion - coarsely chopped
1.5 cups chopped peeled baby carrots
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 cup cubed zucchini
4 cups chicken stock
salt, pepper, dried basil
1/2 package small pasta (I used orecchiette, but anything small would work) (approximately 8 ounces)
20 or so of your favorite cooked meatballs (your recipe or a good frozen meatball that has been thawed and cooked)
4 large heirloom (or flavorful) tomatoes, with juice

In the bottom of a heavy stockpot, over medium heat, add three tablespoons olive oil. Warm oil and add onions and carrots, saute for about five minutes. Add asparagus, zucchini, and stock. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add salt (about 2tsp) and pepper (about 1/2 tsp) to taste. Add 1.5 tsp of dried basil. Cover and cook 1 hour.

Prepare tomatoes by chopping into cubes, reserving any juice. Add tomatoes, reserved juice and pasta to soup. Increase heat to medium-high. Add cooked meatballs and cover pot for approximately 20 minutes. Check soup for seasoning (I added another 2tsp of salt) and pasta for doneness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fabulous Fifty State Tour - Oregon and Sour Cream & Raisin Pie

I have always liked driving into Oregon. Sure, there is some gorgeous scenery, quaint towns and lovely coastline, but mainly because it means that I don't have to pump my own gas. Yep, you can't pump your gas in Oregon, and I find that very civilized. The state also lacks a sales tax, which certainly is appreciated by those folks who live along the southern Washington border and who don't mind committing a little fraud to buy big ticket items. Not that anyone from Washington would do such a thing.

The Beaver state has more than gas and sales tax going for it, though. It is the place for hazelnuts, peppermint and black raspberries - though I don't think I'll try them all at once, thank you. Lewis and Clark, the original road trip duo, explored there and who can forget the adventures of The Goonies along the coast near Astoria (goodbye, One Eyed Willie, goodbye). Matt Groening (Simpsons, Futurama), Ursula K LeGuin (fantasy author), Tanya Harding and Courtney Love have all called Oregon home - certainly all creative types in their own special way.

The state motto though has me puzzled: "She flies with her own wings". Ummmm...I don't get it. Maybe some savvy Oregonian can clue me in. And speaking of unusual, the state's official seashell is the Oregon hairy triton. Wow, that's something you don't hear about everyday.

So I guess this was a long way of saying that Oregon is a bit quirky - but in a good, wearing birks with socks, loving hiking and trail mix, we have 231 state parks, kind of way. And what better way to celebrate that off-beat spirit than a vintage sour cream & raisin pie recipe from Scappoose, Oregon. Nothing says off-beat like raisin pie to me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just a bit of harmless brain alteration, that's all

"Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" is one of my favorite movies. Maybe it is the new-school-but-it-looks-like-old-school claymation or the voice work of Ralph Fiennes, but something about that movie just tickles my funny bone.

So much so, that when I get a craving for Veg (vegetables for you non-anglophiles), I naturally think of the enormous specimens in the movie and the rabbit...err..rabid townsfolk that love them. Who wouldn't love a pest control company called Anti-Pesto? I'm mean really, what's better than that?

Ok, so this digression does have a point. For the last couple of days, my mind has become a "rabbity mush" as Wallace would say and I can't stop thinking about fruits and veg. It started with a huge pot of corn chowder, with tons of fresh basil (the recipe is at one of my favorite blogs, Posy Gets Cozy) and moved on to a severe thirst for apple cider (see the earlier post about the doughnuts).

Today, at the store, I found myself strolling the produce section, lingering over the piles of peaches and stacks of squash. I came home with a huge bag of fuji apples and the blackest and biggest seedless grapes since a trip to Versailles. These local grapes were almost as good as those, albeit far less pretentious without the mini-berets and tiny cigarettes.

See? Mushy mind, for sure. AnyVeg, I finished my craving with a huge bowl of butternut squash soup, sprinkled liberally with Goldfish crackers. While hubby and NR scarfed down their homemade pizza, I slurped down the squashy soup. Something clearly must be amiss. Craving apples, eating veggies and dreaming of salad is not in my bunny nature, as it were.

Oh, I was going somewhere with this post...ah yes, the squash. I tried a pre-fab squash soup and it was pretty good, though fresh would have been (and will be) a lot better. I'm thinking of whipping up a batch, with a bunch of fresh sage and a drizzle of cream. Maybe a nice salad with cranberries, sunflower seeds and a poppyseed dressing to round things out. Hmmmm...sounds like I need to get down to the local farms and see what's available.

Oh, right. The recipe. This is the one I'll be tinkering with this week, with plenty of nutmeg and onion. Mmmmm...onions....

I guess there are worse cravings than vegetables. Like cupcakes, perhaps. Well, maybe carrot cupcakes wouldn't be too bad.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Apple Cider "Doughnuts"

Apple cider is the quintessential autumn beverage. As hot cocoa rules winter and margaritas hold summertime, cider practically screams out "It's fall, everybody. Grab a mug and a sweater."

Drinking it, no sweat, but making it is another story. It involves multiple kinds of apples, an apple press and some patience - none of which I usually have when I want a mug. Thankfully, there are good brands out there for tasty cider and I don't have to worry about smashing apples in cheesecloth. For those who want to try it though, check here.

Almost as well known as the beverage, apple cider doughnuts are an autumnal favorite - especially in the northeast. I like doughnuts but not enough to contend with the frying; I avoid deep frying more for the mess than the calories. Luckily, a baked style doughnut (more a bundt than doughnut, but close enough) uses apple cider, so I can have my doughnut and eat it too. The recipe calls for a maple glaze, which I am normally all over, but I think that might hide the apple flavor. I'll test it with and without.

Sounds like a perfect pairing with a mug of cider.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear Representative...

I'll bet you'll think I'm crazy. Or at least hopelessly out of touch. The country has so many problems right now - the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care...the list goes on and on. So with all these big problems, I sent a letter to my local representative for our state government. I didn't ask him about our state taxes, traffic woes or any of the other local issues that get everyone so hot under their collective collars. Nope, I sent in a suggestion that he get the ball rolling for an official state cookie.

Crazy, right?

Wait, hear me out before you delete me from your blog lists. Or better yet, read what I sent him. Then tell me I'm crazy.

"TO: Representative XX

FROM: Ms. Kimberly Devlin

SUBJECT: Designation of an official state symbol

MESSAGE: Representative XX,

I realize you are busy with campaign season right now but I thought I would send a short note suggesting that you consider proposing a new state symbol - akin to the official fruit, flower, bird, etc. I propose that Washington adopt the Oatmeal Cranberry cookie as its official state cookie. Why would I suggest something so seemingly silly, you might be asking. First, let me say that both New Mexico and Massachusetts have official state cookies, so we would hardly be the first to do so, though we would likely make a bit of news with it.

Washington ranks 4th in the nation for wheat production (for flour) and 5th in the nation for cranberry production - an official cookie designation could promote those industries. Washington has previously designated a muffin as an official state symbol (blueberry) so this isn't uncharted territory. Primarily though, my suggestion for this comes from a feeling that local government isn't just there to take care of the difficult, taxing (and taxable) problems; local government is also about fostering community and civic pride. If having a state cookie brings people together and fosters local pride - albeit at a bake sale or coffee house, then it has done a good thing for the people of Washington. Sure, there are many more pressing issues, but recognition that there are sweet parts to life is important too.

I appreciate your time in considering my suggestion.
Kimberly Devlin

RESPONSE: Ms. Devlin has requested a response to this message."

I'm not so loony as to expect that anything will come from this; I'm mostly curious to see if he will respond at all. I think he's running unopposed right now so odds are good he'll be back around in January. But I do believe that government can be more and do more than just tax us and fix bridges. That stuff is important, don't get me wrong, but recognizing two agricultural crops and fostering local identity isn't such a bad thing either.

Let's see what happens. Isn't democrazy...I mean democracy fun?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Swooning over Spoonflower

Technology can just be too much fun. Really, there are some gadgets, gizmos and whatchamacallits that are plain fun to doodle with and let your imagination run wild. Sometimes, my computer is like that - when it is working and all the tech stars are in alignment. I like to goof around with Adobe Photo Elements and play with all the different ways to change photos, drawings and the like. Typically, these masterpieces of mayhem just hang out in a folder on my harddrive, never seeing the light of day.

But now, courtesy of another technological whirligig, my jpegs can become fabric. Spoonflower is a beta site that lets people register for their turn to take doodles, photos, artwork of all kinds and transform them into fabric. What's the point of that, says the uncrafty among us. Well, what about curtains for a kids bedroom featuring their own artwork? Favorite family photos transformed into wearable art or reupholstered pillows featuring your sketches or favorite quotes. Get where I am going with this? Nifty in a big way.

I finally got my invitation to join (I signed up earlier in the summer). There is no cost to register and once you get the golden email, you can just upload your jpegs and select the size fabric you want to purchase (from swatches to yards). The shipping is dirt cheap (one dollar) and the fabric prices aren't bad considering it is custom work. Until my own swatch arrives, I won't be able to comment on the quality, but I have a good feeling that the end results will be true to the visual.

Once my treasures arrive and I actually take the plunge and do something with them, I'll be sure to post photos so you can check out the results. I went crazy with a Russian nesting dolls theme-meets-Andy Warhol-Pop-Art-Wannabe so I'm anxious to see the finished fabric.

Whee! I love technology. Mostly.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Random Recipe Monday - Cabbage and Potato Bake

I'm a fan of corned beef - when it is cooked in a crockpot all day and the fat just melts off the meat, leaving just the good stuff behind. Boiled corned beef rates zero in my book, but crockpot corned beef I can get behind. What I usually can't get behind is the cabbage that typically goes with it. A New England Boiled Dinner would have corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots. I wanted that kind of meal but didn't want the veg messing up my beef.

Perusing FoodNetwork.com, I found a dish that seemed to fit the bill. Emeril's Cabbage and Potato Bake combined the named ingredients, onions and bacon, just for laughs. The whole thing bakes for a couple of hours, transforming the cabbage into a soft and pleasantly disguised veggie tasting of all the other ingredients too. For those not too fond of cooked cabbage, I'll bet you'll be reassured by the plentiful bacon (and drippings) added to the works - even if your cardiologist isn't.

Best of all, for the "I won't touch cabbage" eater in your crowd, the cabbage is at the bottom of the mix, so just scoop the other goodies off the top and peace will reign. It paired really well with the corned beef, and left just enough room for a brown sugar cake with butterscotch frosting. It was a good dinner (if I do say so myself) with even better company.

Happy Belated Grandparents' day to you all. Love to Grammy, Papa, Grandma T and Nana.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fabulous Fifty State Tour - New Mexico and Bizcochitos

"I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque." Who hasn't heard that statement? Heck, I've even used it just to say that I've screwed something up. Well, while Bugs was tunneling his way to Pismo Beach and missing his turn at Albuquerque, he was missing out on the lovely state of New Mexico.

The Land of Enchantment should be called the "land of dinosaurs" because some of the dino all-stars like T-Rex, Triceratops and Torosaurus used to call the area home (though none of them are the state dinosaur; that would be Coelophysis - yes, I have a young son into dinos.)

Former Prez candidate Bill Richardson hails from NM and there are names o'plenty of folks that called NM home; Judy Blume, Georgia O'Keefe, Jim Morrison, Greer Garson, Billy the Kid, Kathy Bates and even John Denver (go figure).

Santa Fe, the capital, averages three hundred days of sunshine a year. Yep, 300. That's a bit too much cancer potential for me, but plenty of folks can rally around blue skies and sunny days for darn near the whole year. It's also the highest capital city in the US, so take that Denver. Plus, along the lines of "who is buried in Grant's tomb", Sante Fe is also the end of the 800 mile long Sante Fe trail.

You'd think with Roswell in its midst, I'd have looked for a sci-fi type recipe like green alien cupcakes or something, but nope, we have an official State Cookie to try: the Bizcochito.

This butter cookie is flavored with cinnamon and anise that is supposed to melt in your mouth. The "Mexican wedding cookies" that pop up from time to time are a version of bizcochitos, utilizing powdered sugar to give the cookies an all-white appearance. The traditional version uses lard, which I just can't get behind using it in my cooking. I know, it gives a flakier texture but I'll defer to Crisco, thanks just the same. What's Cooking America.net has a non-lard version to try or you can go old school and go with Cakespy's version.

I have to love a state that has an official state cookie. That's a place that has its priorities right. Insect? Gem? Flower? Forget about it - give me a cookie any day. Land of Enchantment indeed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Autumn on the rise - a few favorites

I'm not a fan of The Sound of Music. I know. As a musical theatre fan (notice I spelled it "theatre" and not "theater" - you know I'm a fan now), it is simply not done to say that you don't like The Sound of Music. It's like movie buffs hating Gone with the Wind or art history students shrugging their shoulders at the Pieta. Nope, everybody likes TSoM.

Except me. Well, I have to take that back partially - I like the song My Favorite Things. Oh yeah, I know it has been done to death, from everyone from Tony Bennett to The Supremes to Dionne Warwick to Miles Davis. But I still like it. Maybe because my sister used it as an audition piece when she was a little kid trying out for a musical or maybe just because I too like whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens. I don't know. But in any event, I like it because it takes ordinary, everyday things and elevates them to remarkable.

In a world often gone mad (by the way, movie trailer voice over artist Don LaFontaine just died, hence the dramatic beginning to this paragraph), sometimes it is only the simple things that make me feel grounded. I can't change the big stuff (not by myself, surely) but I can notice and remark on the small stuff, the stuff that makes life...well, life.

So, some things that I really enjoy about the beginning of autumn:

I love how the mornings are crisp but you can feel the heat of the sun coming through the nip in the air. It reminds me of some fun weekends in Whistler, BC or strolling around the streets of Leavenworth, WA.

Sweaters come back from the corners of the closet and there is something comforting about a good sweater. No horizontal stripes though, please.

Apples taste better - especially Jonathans, hot chocolate with whipped cream seems more appropriate and piles of knobby ornamental gourds start to appear in grocery stores. Good applesauce, warm zucchini bread and homemade mac n' cheese with slices of polska kielbasa - all things I like in the fall.

The smell of wood fires when it gets dark and that wonderfully toxic "new plastic" smell that can only be found on good Halloween masks. Lighting candles on my mantle, listening to moodier music (Loreena McKennitt and Kate Rusby are good celtic-style favs) and bringing out the photo albums.

I like that summer is still around but not as hot around the edges. Cool mornings, sunny days but shorter all the while, the windows still open but quiet without all those breeze boxes and fans going all night. Socks start returning, as do sleeves and even the occasional afghan for nights on the sofa.

It might not be brown paper packages tied up with string, but ordinary can be quite dandy, actually. I know that this particular autumn will be consumed with all the political drama of the presidential race, but taking just a few moments to appreciate the simple things seems especially timely right now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day Jitters

NR's back at school today - a new school, which is a lot to handle when you are little. The new school requires a uniform, so he picked out his navy polo and khaki slacks to wear (out of the red, white or navy polo options) and we found last year's backpack in the closet. His packed lunch was a special treat - pizza Lunchable (yuck, I say, but I'm not eight) and a homemade chocolate chip cookie. We left the house early so I could find my way there and get photos of him - in front of the school, while waiting in line and while he walked with the class to his room.

He looked so big and so small at the same time. Nervous but still a bit brave, trying to fit into a place that is completely foreign. I promised him a surprise when school was over today and that I'd be waiting for him - right there - when he came out. He smiled and followed the new teacher to his new desk, with the unknown classmates right behind him.

Life is scary for someone little. I saw younger kids wandering the playground, asking teachers where they were supposed to go. Kids carrying heavy backpacks and little slips of paper with a teacher's name on it. Is this really what we expect of our kids? Independence while they are still watching Sesame Street?

I get scared in new environments, in unfamiliar turf - I can only imagine what it is like for young kids. Oh wait, I don't have to imagine, I just have to remember. I lived through it. Thank goodness most of it is a blur, but I remember the jitters, the unknown of new faces and a new teacher. It was hard as hell but when you don't have a choice to get in your car and drive away, you stick it out. Eventually, it gets easier and you get into the groove - until summer vacation comes and you have to start all over again in the fall.

Maybe I'll have one of those cookies, download the pictures from the camera and just keep my eye on the clock until it is time to pick him up from school. First Day Jitters alright.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Random Recipe Monday - Loin of Pork with Green Peppercorn sauce

This story has a happy ending. Even though it doesn't sound like it, it does - at least I think so. Saturday, we had company coming over; a first on two fronts. It was going to be the first dinner party in the new house and the first time meeting someone as well. Names are reserved to protect the innocent, but suffice to say that it was a big deal.

Ok, so rewind to Friday when I made the homemade applesauce and went shopping for the dinner. A Roast Loin of Pork with Green Peppercorn Sauce from Ina's new Barefoot in Paris cookbook, cauliflower gratin with gruyere (from same), the applesauce, a perky little salad, good wine and a granny smith apple pie with my favorite buttery pie crust.

Saturday came and I was busy most of the day - cooking, tidying up our fairly (for now) tidy house and getting some last minute touch up things done that you do when company is coming. Dinner was at six o'clock so we managed to get the lawn mowed (no moles!), new curtains hung up, china polished and even a couple of new plants in the garden bed. We were spit-shined and polished, candles lit on the mantle, food finished on time and warm in the oven - really, ready to rock and roll.

Six o'clock came and six o'clock went. At six fifteen I got the message from a couple hours earlier - our company couldn't come.

I said this story had a happy ending, and it does. The roast loin was delicious and I now have two recipes from the Paris cookbook that I've tried and liked. The pie was eaten up by visiting family and the wine didn't go to waste either - let's just say that I enjoyed myself tremendously with the Cellarmaster Riesling.

So, I can recommend this recipe and even tell you that if you can't find brined green peppercorns (as I couldn't) you can substitute dried ones soaked in hot water beforehand. It was quite a sight to see me picking them out of a peppercorn mix one at a time until I had enough for a quarter cup.

Enjoy the silver lining to this story and try the roast loin. It was quite tasty. So was the Riesling.