I hesitate to say that not much has happened since my sudden departure which kept me busy at home. I wish I could tell you that I’ve travelled around the world, eaten at Michelin starred restaurants, acquired a great tan on my best friend’s yacht, but alas I’ve just been painting and cooking and staining floors. However that would not be quite true since I also enjoyed time with Alex Odie San China Boy who appeared for a very quick week.
His grandparents escaped Phoenix’s summer heat so they also could k’vell in his presence for a very brief shining moment. Of course this was all supposed to happen while still writing this blog but I’m afraid that Manservant’s office -being prime real estate in our home, took gads more time than I expected it too. I am supposing that is always the case with home projects, especially when one does not quite know what they are doing.
Manservant’s office is the magic spot where water chooses to often rear its ugly head so concrete seemed the perfect solution.The results speak for themselves. The floors are amazing and I wish I could lay concrete through the entire house and stain them all. No grout lines make this floor treatment incredible and you’d swear that high end stone was laid. Since concrete was already there it was just a matter of cleaning and sanding and then 8 steps of stain, cleaner and sealer. Just.
And then painting involved painting twice because who knew that it’s hard to match dark custom colors when one doesn’t have enough paint.? Well not me for one.
So now that everyone has abandoned me, with Manservant going briefly to Mexico City for a meeting, it is up to me to try to sort though his 17 years of dusty files and crap. I’m not feeling very motivated except that it needs to happen to start basement project #2. Can’t believe I’m considering this, but I am. And I will. BUT…most likely not until fall.
Enjoying Alex Odie means enjoying wine and we did. Drink a lot of wine, that is. He decided that with my parents arriving we should drink some of the more than drinkable, many past their prime wines, that my parents had collected over the years. They gifted us about 7 cases three years ago when they came to the conclusion that they would never be able to down all the bottles they owned in their lifetime. We became the proud owners of lots of old French burgundies and Bordeaux’s and many other BIG reds. But thinking we needed BIG occasions to drink them we still have a lot of them left to drink. Well Alex Odie helped us with this. Being a level one sommelier and wishing he could take level two, he started opening bottles. If one wasn’t just right we opened another. And another. “Don’t be afraid to throw out”, he boldly advised. He even found a bottle given to my dad from my brother, that somehow ended up in our house.
We opened it. Alas it was past its prime which was his point. Keep track so you don’t lose out. There are many great wine applications on the web.
While documenting what we had, he came across a bottle of Schramsberg that he had sent me for Mother’s Day a few years ago. He kind of went ballistic when he saw that it hadn’t been drunk. “If I send you something it needs to be drunk when I tell you or I won’t send you anymore!” Manservant quickly pointed out we are storing his wine collection for his return from China and we deserve a second chance. It’s not that this was an expensive bottle but somehow with champagne I always think one must save it for a really special occasion. After finding the bottle from my brother for my dad, I decided he was more than right. If someone gifts you wine that is a special enough occasion. From now on, dear son, we will drink what ever you send us, whenever you tell us. And actually what better moment could there be than Mother’s Day? The most momentous event of my life? Of course it has taken me a few years to reach that conclusion.
Now don’t go thinking this is an ad for Schramsberg. It is not-though if they ever wanted to gift me a bottle or two I would not turn it down. I decided in honor of this occasion of acknowledging that we must start drinking our wine, we best start with this worthy bottle. It was a busy Saturday as work still continues on the folly (though it is 90% finished) but we made time to pop the cork and earn our second chance. Delicious and perfect with this salad, we’d drink it all over again. Manservant even wished me happy mother’s day and you can bet it was. Just like every day when I think about my two gorgeous childbeings and am grateful for their existence. Certainly every day deserves a celebration of motherhood, don’t you think? Dear Alex Odie San China Boy-could you please send more? And better yet-could you deliver it in person?
I spotted the perfect salad to serve with my Schramsberg Rose on my friend Shannon’s blog. Wanting a light dinner and not wanting to spend too much time in the kitchen, I decided this was a perfect match. It is also a perfect example of showing you how recipes evolve. After running to Trader Joe’s and thinking I came home with everything I needed and then discovering I didn’t, this grilled cantaloupe salad quickly became a grilled shrimp and blueberry, cantaloupe and fig salad with a smoky sweet vinaigrette. Not having hot paprika I subbed in smoky. But not wanting this too smoky and not even having regular paprika, I added in some crushed Aleppo peppers for heat. It worked. Great and simple dressing! I then couldn’t find grapes at TJ’s, so I added figs. The figs were a perfect substitute but I wanted blueberries too. The combo of sweet, smoky and spicy was great! I threw in some spicy sweet glazed pecans also and called it a day. Check out the original recipe at Shannon’s site and you can see the changes I made. Either salad is phenomenal but this is what happens when I cook. A few changes here and there make it yours, but it’s always the inspiration that guides me. It’s a perfect example of HOW I COOK.
A Few More Great Summer Salads:
Grilled Halloumi, Peach Salad Kale and Cherries, Almonds and Feta Blueberry Chicken Pesto Salad
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This special summer salad with grilled melon and shrimp is easily made. Feel free to substitute fruits and spices and make this your own. The smoky and sweet vinaigrette with a hint of spice will become a quick favorite!
- 3 T white wine vinegar
- 3 T good honey
- 1/4 to 1/2 t smoky paprika
- 1.4 to 1/2 t Aleppo pepper flakes
- 1/3 c grapeseed oil or another flavorless oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 10 large shrimp-peeled and deveined (I like the 16-25’s Individually Quick Frozen, but they must be thawed to grill.)
- 1 T oil for brushing shrimp with (I used garlic oil)
- Salt to sprinkle on shrimp for seasoning
- 1/2 cantaloupe sliced into 4 crescents -skin and seeds removed
- 1 1/2 T grapeseed oil to brush on cantaloupe
- Champagne jelly (This is totally optional, but my cantaloupe was so bland that I brushed it with a bit of jelly to give it some flavor, after I took it off the grill)
- 1 large handful each of mesclun greens and arugula
- Small bunch of basil sliced into ribbons
- 4 – 5 fresh figs, quartered or halved
- 2 handfuls of fresh blueberries
- 4 oz of young crumbly manchego
- 4 oz of glazed pecans (I like Trader Joe’s spicy sweet pecans.)
- Salt and Pepper
- In a medium measuring cup, whisk together vinegar, honey and seasonings.Continue whisking while slowly drizzling in oil to form an emulsion. Allow to stand and let flavors develop.
- Preheat grill to medium high. Brush shrimp with oil and sprinkle with salt. Brush melon with oil also. Grill melon for about 1 1/2 minutes per side but melon should still remain firm. Place shrimp on grill and cook for about 1 minute on each side or until shrimp curls. Do not overcook it. Set both aside while assembling salad.
- I like to use individual bowls. Place handfuls of mesclun, arugula and basil in each bowl. Toss together. Top with blueberries, figs, melon and shrimp. Garnish with pecans and crumbled cheese. Drizzle with smoky sweet vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper if you’d like!
- Perfect with Rose, Champagne or Prosecco!