Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape and is typically bottled 6 to 8 weeks after harvest which is GOOD NEWS for those who can’t handle the tannins from aged wines – Nouveau typically has far less tannins. It is the first wine of the harvest, made to celebrate the harvest, but until WW II was kept at home for local consumption. For more information on Beaujolais Nouveau, go here.

The first time I tried it, back in the 1980s when the wine world used to make a big fuss about Beaujolais Nouveau, it was the first wine I’d had that tasted like a fruity Kool Aid with a nice banana flavor to it. There are two offerings from Georges Deboeuf; one from inside the “controllee” of the Beaujolais region, and one from the surrounding villages (Beaujolais-Villages); unfortunately, I’ve only got the one from Georges Deboeuf. But I did find a pretender! Below are two “Nouveau” wines.

Oh, and remember this is NOT a wine to stock in your cellar (if you like it). Buy it, drink it! Do not let it age because trust me, age does not improve this wine.

These are the 2006 bottles.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2012  Cuvee Spe´ciale – Appellation Beaujolais-Villages Controlleé   Alcohol 12% by Volume; under $10 at Cost Plus World Market

On the Label: “The 2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages Nouveau, the first wine of the new vintage, has arrived! Time to enjoy and celebrate the harvest in style iwth this charming wine!

Thirty years ago, Georges Duboeuf introduced American wine enthusiasts to the delights of his Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Villages Nouveau is packed with generous, round, black and red berries aromas.”

My Take: It was better 30 years ago. That’s a knee-jerk reaction and I’m aware of that. But I didn’t get the light, fruity Kool Aid flavor I was hoping for; no banana taste. It had a heavier feel to it, which makes me wonder what this year’s vintage Beaujolais will taste like in a few years. However, it is inoffensive, not overly priced, and has a fun label that you can actually buy in tie form for that busy executive in your life.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ And if you bone up on the whole Beaujolais Nouveau mystique, you can bring a bottle of this plus some stories to share the next time you are invited to dinner. Find them on Facebook at

Charles Shaw Red Table Wine Nouveau 2012 Napa and Sonoma, California $1.99 at

Label from the 2010 Vintage

Trader Joe’s in California; $2.99 elsewhere.

On the Label: The typical Government Warning and that’s about it.

My Take: This bottling just made me laugh. I understand the reasoning behind it; they can’t put Beaujolais on the label – but to just toss a bunch of different grapes into a wine and decant it into bottles after a couple of months seems strange to me, even for Two Buck Chuck. The wine wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a good red wine, either.

My Rating: ~ Barely Drinkable ~ If it lands at your table somehow, add fruit to it and turn it into Sangria. You’ll be glad you did. However, others have different opinions on this wine. Go to and check out their ratings.

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

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

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!


Wrestling with Recipes – Vegetarian

Wrestling with Recipes – Vegetarian

Sorry about the lack of blog posts the last couple of weeks. I’m finding healing takes up a lot of energy! I am, however, getting a lot of work done on my latest book, so that’s a plus.

But as I get stronger, I am at last cooking again and enjoying it. Getting adventurous. So, yesterday I made this terrific recipe that ended up being more of a pain than it needed to be. (Afterwards, I was a zombie. And it wasn’t the wine I drank that made me a zombie! I guess I need to cook something less ambitious for now.)

Cover of Vegetarian Cook BookI’d bought this book called Vegetarian, over 300 healthy and wholesome recipes chosen from around the world, pubbed by Metro Books with Nicola Graimes listed as the Consultant Editor. (If you click on the link, it’ll take you to Amazon.)

So there’s no one driving Chef force behind the recipes, which may account for the rather randomness of it. And while this is a Vegetarian cook book, they use a lot of dairy and eggs and cheese throughout, which surprised me. Plus there’s NO nutritional information, so don’t go looking for it.

There is, however, a comprehensive introduction and discussion on the basic vegetarian whole food diet, the essentials you need for good health, and over 100 pages on The Vegetarian Kitchen and what to stock and why. Interesting reading, and I’m glad I picked it up in the bargain bin when Borders was going out of business. (Sniff…I miss my Borders!)

Anyway. I’d found this meal in the book called Potato Rosti and Tofu with Fresh Tomato and Ginger Sauce (pg. 312). Since we’re trying to eat a couple meals a week meat-free, and since I have a back yard full of tomatoes, this looked like a good start.

My first hangup? The recipe called for 3 3/4 cups of tofu, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. How do you buy 3 and 3/4 cups of tofu? I went by weight, only later realizing that weight doesn’t equal – well, never mind. I wish they had just said buy one 16 oz block of Tofu. I ended up buying 32 ounces of tofu (two 16 oz blocks) – which frankly was 16 ounces too many (but they were on sale, so I lucked out).

Then the recipe had me marinating the cut-up pieces in a TERRIFIC marinade – but there wasn’t enough marinade, so I had to double the recipe. (I’m finding that to be true very often. Is it just me? Or do recipes tend to skimp on marinade amounts?) After an hour of marinating, scatter on a cookie sheet then bake until crispy, 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Um, let me just say – there is no way, even with turning, that you’ll get crispy tofu in an oven. No way. The only way, in my experience, to get crispy tofu is to fry it. If I’m wrong I’d love someone to explain how to do it! My tofu, after baking, was still soft (and yes, I used extra firm).

The rosti was fun – 2 lbs of potatoes cut in large chunks and boiled, cooled, then grated into shreds. Season with salt & pepper, then form by hand into potato cakes, and fry in a thin layer of oil for 6 minutes per side. This recipe made more than we needed, and we ended up using the leftovers for dinner tonight – but would be spectacular with breakfast, as well.

Then there’s a sauce – you add the marinade to 8 chopped up tomatoes and some olive oil in a hot pan, and cook the heck out of it. The recipe called for me to strain the sauce to get rid of the skins, but by that time I’d been in the kitchen far too long to do such nonsense. (By the way – this is a long slog in the kitchen. Easily two hours, with minimal time to just sit and stare at nothing. This is not a recipe you want to make on a busy weeknight with the kids screaming in hunger.)

Two rosti, a scatter of tofu, and topped with the delish sauce. Add a tossed green salad, and it was a wonderful meal. EXCEPT – when I make this again, I will split a cake of tofu in half width wise, then cut in quarters before marinading. None of this 1/2 inch crap. After marinating, I’ll probably dip it into some – oh darn, forgot the name of it…rice based dry stuff – anyway, dip it in that and then fry it quickly for the crispy.

I might add an egg to the rosti, just to keep the potato cakes from separating so easily in the pan. That was a minor headache.

All in all, the men loved the dish. LOVED it. It was a light and yet filling meal, with an label for Alexander Valley Vineyards ChardonnayAsian flair that everyone appreciated. The hubby and I shared half a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, regularly $18.00 but on sale for $11.99 at Vons. A terrific addition to the meal, though a Sauvignon Blanc would have worked as well.

This is the first recipe I’ve made out of this book, and I think before I make another one I will read the recipe carefully and see where the traps are for the unwary cook. I’d much rather change something up as I go, than buy ingredients I don’t need.

Wrestle Factor (time + grrr moments):  ~ High ~  
Taste/Likeability Factor: ~ High~
A Remake? ~ Yes, Absolutely, With Variations ~

Do you have cookbooks that you always have to “fix” the recipe? Or are you a slave to how it’s written? AND – What’s your favorite cookbook? With the advent of the internet, I do a lot of last minute “what do I want to make tonight” searches, but I still prefer to skim through a cookbook in my lazy time and think of filling happy bellies. What about you?


Thanks so much for stopping by! If you like this post, do let me know. I’m thinking about having a regular feature on recipes if there’s any interest. Of course, I may do it anyway, because I’m like that, lol! Cheers, and remember to drink responsibly!

Wines for Summertime

Wines for Summertime

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. But when you check out the hundreds of wines available in the grocery store, what do you buy? Relax! I’m here for you, sorting out the memorable from the truly awful. Each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, 2008  Calatayud Product of Spain  Alcohol 14.1% by Volume. $14.99 at BevMo! – bought on a 5 cent sale (1 bottle regular price, 2nd bottle 5 cents).

On The Label: Just the typical government warning.

My Take: I had bought Las Rocas Garnacha on a 5 cent sale earlier in the year, and just recently drank the second bottle. It is very like a big, full-bodied Zinfandel, with lots of lovely pepper and dark fruit to it. When I noticed it won “Best of Class” in it’s section at the L.A. Wine Fest this year, I decided I really needed to pick up another bottle. Or two.

I’m SO glad I did. The wine went very well with the BBQ’d pork ribs I’d made for my family.  I’ve got one more bottle up in my wine bin, and I may just have to bring it down for this July 4th BBQ. It’s great with grilled meats of any kind, and would also be fabulous with just about any Italian dish.

My Rating: ~Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!~ Yes. It’s been awhile, but this wine deserves the rating. Plus, on the 5 cent sale, you can buy two bottles which puts each individual bottle under $10! (I’m sneaky that way…) 2008 seems to have been a VERY good wine year.


Barefoot Pinot Grigio n/v Alcohol 12.5% by Volume $6.99 at Vonsphoto of barefoot pinot grigio

On The Label: “Barefoot’s Pinot Grigio Blends have won BEST BUY from the Wine Enthusiast, March 2011 ‘Consistent Quality, Proven Value’.

“Barefoot Pinot Grigio is a crisp and refreshing wine with bright aromas and flavors of citrus and fresh green apple. Hints of jasmine complement a bright, delicate, flavorful finish.

“Barefoot Pinot Grigio is a perfect match with poultry, seafood, spicy pasta, and pizza. Refreshing!”

My Take: This (along with just about every Pinot Grigio) is the perfect summer wine. Often I don’t remember to chill my white wines in advance; this wine, in a big glass filled with ice, is the perfect party sipper. Plus at this price, it won’t break your wallet. Take two bottles and make your hosts happy! (Note to self; Pick up a couple bottles at the store before heading out to the drum circle today.)

If you notice, I’m not raving about the wine. I have a hard time raving about whites; I don’t know why. But it is a solid player and one I’m not ashamed to serve – or give.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Stock up on it for the summer, so you’ll always have some on hand!

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!


As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, how much writing I’ve managed that day, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

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

Blood Dreams is now available, just 99 cents! Demon Hunt, Book 2 in the Caine Brothers  Series, coming late Summer 2012.



Cocktail Shake-up – Between the Sheets

Cocktail Shake-up – Between the Sheets

Sometimes I like to step away from my wine and dip my toes – metaphorically speaking – into other libations. In my twenties, margaritas were my drink of choice (though I did go through many bottles of the low-end sparkling wines – Cooks, Freixenet, etcetera). Most of my friends had blenders then just to make those frosty, slurpee-like margaritas.

photo of a margarita blender

Hamilton Beach 58150 Muchas Margaritas Fiesta Blender

Now? Those blenders are used to make meal-replacement shakes. Sigh. Okay, where was I?

Right. Back in my twenties. So, one night my husband Tom was working at The Harlequin Dinner Theater down in Orange County (off Harbor Blvd somewhere) doing a play – don’t remember which one, but I had gone to see the show and have dinner. After the show, the actors usually gathered to drink – the bar was kept open for awhile. The bartender, a cute guy and no, I don’t remember his name, but anyway…he made us this drink called Between The Sheets. (One is supposed to put you there. I think, at that age and at my then-current weight, it probably did!)

photo of a martini glassThis past fall, Tom decided to do something different and, after rummaging around in his memory, came up with this drink from our past.

I don’t knowwhat the state of your liquor cabinet is – but ours has bottles we

a photo of my liquor bottles above my cereal.

Thanks to Tom Ashworth for the photo!

haven’t looked at in a decade or so. (Plus it’s above our cereal. Doesn’t everyone keep their hard booze near the kid cereal?!)  Most of what he needed, we already had. So he made the drink, and it wasn’t bad.

Then he bought slightly better rum, and the drink was suddenly MUCH better. Here’s the recipe – 1 shot rum, 1 shot brandy, slightly less than one shot Triple Sec, and slightly less than 1 shot fresh lemon juice (jarred lemon juice will work in a pinch). Fill a cocktail shaker with ice – pour in the alcohol and lemon juice, and shake. Strain into martini glasses (or shallow champagne glasses if you don’t have martini glasses). Makes 2 servings.

This is a nice, not-too-sweet before dinner drink – a special occasion drink – a fun, different, and hard to screw up drink. Even an after-theater drink – we had it last night, after getting home late from a preview of A NOISE WITHIN’s production of Moliere’s The Bungler (in their new theater in Pasadena, California – wonderful space!).

Anyway – last night we sipped, we split a plate of nachos, and we talked about theater. While wine would have worked, the slightly sour, slightly sweet Between The Sheets hit the spot and went great with the nachos.

Do you have a favorite specialty mixed drink? Please share – and the recipe, if you know it!


Thanks so much for stopping by! Wine bottles are threatening to take over my kitchen counter and my desk, so I promise I’ll toss up a wine blog again SOON. 

In the Garden

Today was the perfect gardening day. We headed out about 3pm, a bag of 65 bulbs in hand and trowels at the ready. Within 3 minutes, we realized we had a bigger problem – weeds.

Weeds, and the I-can’t-believe-I-planted-it-because-it-takes-over-the-whole-yard morning glory. The twice-damned vine was EVERYWHERE. In the apple tree. Twining around the berry bushes. Hiding behind the tomato pots in the weeds, and making plans for taking over the center of the yard. (Some of my tomato plants have wintered over…I ate a cherry tomato yesterday, fresh from the vine and bursting with flavor. Yum!)

Anyway – back to the weeds. Being the enterprising couple that we are, we roused our boys from their hermit-like hiding in their rooms, and put them to work. We have two “official” garden cans, and two cans we use to put the leftovers that we can’t stuff into the official cans. The boys (young men?) pitched in and filled both sets of cans while weeding out empty planting beds, and taking care of the weeds trying to hide the artichoke plants. (We’re up to six on artichoke plants, if anyone is keeping track.)

While waiting for the opportunity to plant, and to stay out of the guys’ way, I got the big clippers out and de-branched the christmas tree. The trunk now waits for one of the kids to saw it up, and the branches await the fireplace. Plus, the yard is a little bit cleaner.

Once the weeds were taken care of, we could plant. Out of the 65 bulbs, hubby planted probably 35. Don’t ask me what they were – I know he planted 10 purple Echinacea, but I don’t remember the other two…and of course, two of the three weren’t bulbs, they were rhizomes. The third was definitely a bulb, however.  So all of the rhizomes got planted – but we’ve got 30 of the bulbs to still scatter. I’ll do my best to get them in the ground in the front this coming week…

The air was crisp, cool but not cold. The sky was impossibly blue, and the sun gentle on my face. Doing the work – weeding, planting, getting my fingers deep into the soil (which I did!) – was somehow life-affirming. Rejuvenating. Not to mention, damned good exercise. I didn’t get the writing done that I had wanted, but the time outside in the sunshine was very well spent.

SPEAKING OF WINE…(weren’t we?)

The other thing I did this weekend was to taste some Rieslings. I’ve got one more to go, but to my surprise I’m enjoying them. I thought they would be too sweet for me – but for sipping wine, they are spot on. I look forward to the discussion on them this week!

Another wine note – a winery contacted me and asked me if I’d like to taste and review a bottle of wine they’re just putting out – a new blend. After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I answered back but of course! And they have sent me a bottle of the wine, without me paying a dime. Very cool, what? Unfortunately I haven’t had time to taste it, what with this weekend being dedicated to tasting Riesling (thanks to Kathy Bennett, lol). However, I got to taste another wine on Friday that will go well review-wise with the donated bottle, so I look forward to bringing those thoughts to you.

Now, its almost time for dinner. The NY and San Francisco game is 17 to 17 with 30 seconds left in the game. JoePa has died. Hubby is gearing up for another week on Christian Slater’s new show, BREAKING IN, which also stars Megan Mullaly.

May your coming week hold love and laughter, and – as a dear friend of mine always says – “seek joy, y’all”.  Seek joy, indeed!

~ Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet? ~