Panic in the Kitchen with Wine from NZ

Panic in the Kitchen with Wine from NZ

The news lately is depressing. Red meat kills you faster than anyone had thought (Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, March 13, 2012). You’re not supposed to drink coffee prior to donating blood, as coffee lowers your iron count. (This is new!)

According to heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell, our years of eating highly processed carbohydrates and the excess consumption of omega 6 vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, and sunflower oil is the #1 major cause of heart disease, and not cholesterol (, March 1, 2012). Here’s a quote from the Sott article: “Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped. ”  It’s a fascinating article, and I highly recommend you read all of it.

PANIC TIME All this news, though, has caused me to panic in the kitchen. I enjoy making bread, and feeding steak and smashed potatoes to my boys. But at the same time, I want my family to stay healthy. What’s an omnivore who has no interest in changing her stripes to do?

I reached for a bottle of wine, natch!

Photo of the label for Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand Alcohol 13% by volume.  Regularly $12.84 at Vons; on 30% off special for $8.99. (DON’T get me started on that phony $12.84 pricing.)

On the Label: “New Zealand’s South Island is home to the Marlborough wine growing region, known for its natural beauty and some of the world’s finest Sauvignon Blanc.  Marlborough’s favourable climate and diverse geography develop wines with a unique character, making them as flavourful as they are refreshing.

“Our Sauvignon Blanc delivers all of the refreshing citrus aromas and lively acidity that characterizes the Marlborough region. Our goal is to take the Starborough experience even further; with a layered testure and long, crisp finish that truly epitomizes the character of New Zealand itself.”

My Take: I liked this wine a lot. I’d come home from work and was in a bit of a panic about dinner; found a healthy recipe and scooted off to the store. Found this wine – and felt my panic recede a bit. The wine was crisp, clean, and yet had a hint of sweetness. Refreshing and very easy to drink. After my first sip, I felt panic slip away and I began to cook.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ I think I may just start buying NZ Sauvignon Blancs when I’m in an S. Blancish mood.

Recipe: Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms via

This recipe is one of my favorites – I didn’t list it here, because I didn’t create it, but do photo of a grilled stuffed portobello mushroomcheck it out. Grilled mushrooms, chopped tomato, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, olive oil and mozzarella cheese – what’s not to love?

Ahhh…I was sipping wine though, remember. And I was a bit panicked about life and eating. So where the recipe called for 2/3 cup of chopped tomato, I tossed in three chopped tomatoes. And where the recipe called for 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella, I threw in a pound. (Oh, a handful at a time – but by the time I was done, the whole 16 oz bag had gone in. Whoops!)

The only bad thing was, I had made enough filling for twelve portobellos, instead of four. Sigh. If any of us had remembered to put up the extra, it would have made terrific topping for pizza!  I did follow the rest of the recipe to the letter – grilling, basting, filling, and melting – and the mushrooms turned out spectacular (by far my favorite way to have them).

I paired this with a lovely chopped salad of bell pepper, zucchini, cucumber, spring onions, feta, three different types of lettuce (butter, red, and some crinkly artisanal lettuce), fresh basil, fresh parsley, and shredded carrot; squeezed one Meyer lemon over it all and added a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper, and mixed the heck out of it all. Tasted wonderful (and there were leftovers for lunch the next day).

On to the next bottle! After a full day of gardening, I came inside and opened another NZ bottle of wine…

Label of an Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc

thanks to

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand Alcohol 13% by Volume – on sale for $8.99 at Vons

On the Label: “Oyster Bay captures the special character of New Zealand’s cool climate viticulture…elegant, assertive wines with glorious fruit flavors.”

My Take: Nice and brief label – love it. I enjoyed this wine, too…it had a slightly more acidic flavor to it, which held up beautifully when paired with a robust chicken/mushroom soup I made and doctored the family with this past week.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Honestly, I was very pleased with the quality of both these wines. I will go out of my way to search for more New Zealand wines – hopefully I can find some yummy reds, too!

Well, that’s it for this week. Do you have any recommendations for wine under $10? I’m always looking for new ones to try! Remember the ratings are based on my taste buds (and sometimes those of my hubby), and will be influenced by how much the media has managed to panic me that week, how much gardening I’ve done, and the phase of the moon. Your taste buds will be different.

Thanks for dropping by – and remember to Drink Responsibly!


Time Change

Time Change

Thanks to David Hood for the photo -

I will not lie. I LOVE the time changes. I hope the government never gets rid of “Spring ahead, fall back”.  There is something so urgent and hopeful about spring, moving the clock ahead, seeing daylight after getting home from the day job. Having the soft spring light in the early evening to wander in the garden, or to plant, weed, hover, dream in the half-light that happens (for me) between getting home from work and having to start dinner.

In fall, it’s even better. By November I’m tired of the heat, the unrelenting sun, the dry winds. Give me rains, and chilly weather. Give me a reason to wear sweaters here in southern California. I’m ready for it to be light at 5am. Let me enjoy the rare night fire, the family gathered around, mulled wine and hot cider available for everyone. (Trader Joe’s has a WONDERFUL spiced apple cider that is FABULOUS when heated.)

This year, I was doubly blessed on the night of the time change. Hubby and I went to an L.A. Kings game last night (hockey – we lost to the Penguins, waddle waddle) and due to overtime and a shootout, plus some nasty traffic on the 5 northbound (a big truck overturned and leaking oil/fuel/something flammable anyway, closed ALL lanes), we didn’t get home until 12:30am. Hubby had to leave home again at 4am, due to working on a USC grad student’s film in the Angeles Forest.

Luckily, because of the day, we just set the clock back. Which gave us time – him to figure out where he was going and to play his new Taylor GS Mini (which he ADORES), and me to make a quick breakfast for him to eat on the road (peanut butter and honey sandwich, apple, banana, and two tangerines). An hour (and a couple glasses of wine – oh, and some fresh popcorn) later, we were in bed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

When I woke, Hubby was long gone. I looked outside – it had rained in the night. The clouds were still thick in the sky – I went back to bed for another hour, because I could. For me, “winter” had arrived. It stayed in the 50’s at my house today; the sky was dark by 5pm. Tomorrow morning, when I leave for work, I’ll have to re-learn how to drive when the sun is barely on the horizon and then SLAMS me in the face unexpectedly. When I come home, I’ll have to deal with driving in thick traffic at night along with everyone else, who has forgotten how. In a month, we’ll all have adjusted.

But my day today was an enchanted one, filled with the dripping eaves and a rainbow, the scent of fresh rain and rosemary and a woodfire in someone else’s hearth. It was a day for dawdling and indulging. I dawdled over the newspaper, reading every section of the Los Angeles Times (thin though it is nowadays). I made breakfast for my even later-rising son. I indulged in watching a video, and then did some writing/editing. I made plans for dinner, thanks to romance writer Christina Dodd’s post about macaroni and cheese.  I took my son driving, and then went on a long walk (and I even did some very slow jogging – the legbone is feeling strong now).

The hubby came home, having spent the day being snowed on, rained on, sleeted on, then

thanks to

more snow, all while they were filming. He had a big grin on his face though, and the merrily crackling fire in the fireplace just about made his night. Until I handed him some hot spiced wine. Then he fell in love with me all over again.

So, yes, I LOVE the time change. Yes my body takes awhile to adjust – it’s not even nine pm where I am and I was ready for sleep 30 minutes ago. But you know what? I don’t care. It’s a definite shift of the seasons for me, and in a world of perpetual sunshine, the fall’s “fall back” is a lovely signpost to slow down. A breather, if you will, between school starting, and the full swing of the holiday season.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

My first novel, Demon Soul, is available for the Kindle and the Nook! It makes GREAT Holiday gifts!!! *hint hint* lol!


RT Update – Angela James, Deidre Knight, and the L.A. Times

Yesterday got off to a great start. I went to a “get the most out of RT” hour, and they had all the pubbed authors stand up, give their name and the name of their book, and it was really nifty!

The best part of that hour though was finally meeting in person Kristen Lamb, the guru of Social Media for authors. She is just as nice and funny and intense in person as she is on twitter – and that’s saying something. We hung out, made plans for some future blog stuff, and ended up sitting together at the Welcome to RT mixer along with Roz Lee, Jennifer Haymore, and Sarah (who got 2 requests – one from an agent, one from an editor!!!).

In the afternoon I went to the Crescent Moon Press spotlight, the Ravenous Romance spotlight (both of which were very enlightening), then went to listen to Elaine Spencer and Deidre Knight from the Knight agency, along with Shannon Butcher and Kristen Painter, two Knight Agency clients. They were talking about plotting your career – and the best advice they had was to stay flexible, keep writing, and if you can, get an agent to help you through the turmoil that is going on in the publishing world. What is true today may not be true ninety days from now. There really aren’t any more 5 year plans for an author’s career – everything moves faster now.

After the talk I was able to talk to Deidre (and kid her about not showing up at the gym yesterday morning, like she’d said she would. But she didn’t arrive until late morning, so that was a great excuse!). It was nice getting to talk to her like a real person! I handed her a bookmark and she was appropriately pleased for me – everyone when they find out I’m a debut author has been very warm. She didn’t show up at the gym this morning, either, but that’s okay -it was packed again. (She’s lost a ton of weight btw and looks great!)

Going from one workshop to another, I ran into Angela James. She is the tiniest, nicest, prettiest woman I’ve seen in a long time. She’d make a great heroine in a novel, I’m just saying. Anyway, I shook her hand, introduced myself, told her she’d sent me a very nice rejection letter but I might have something else for her to look at – and she was appropriately receptive, and very very nice. I’d love to work for her and so will keep that in mind.

A panel on social media was great – Kristen Lamb was there, Nicole Peeler, Andrew Shaeffer, and Terry Kate of Romance in the Backseat. FABULOUS! I’ve got a date with Terry Kate in May, I think, so it’s all peachy.

Got to rush now so I’ll just say during yesterday evening’s Sexy Sirens Through History gathering, I got to talk to the press person from the Los Angeles times. He not only took my bookmark, he asked me questions about my book, my publisher, RT, my writer’s journey, and asked for my phone number. His name was Alan, and you can be sure I’ll be talking to him whenever I see him the rest of the week. And he said the feature should run in the Saturday edition of the L.A. Times.

So that’s my Wednesday Wrap-up. All in all, I consider it a great personal success!