I’ve always considered grapes to be a fall food. Maybe it’s their deep purple color, or that I was always used to concord grapes growing up. Those are a fall fruit, but table grapes are harvested in the summer here. As in right about now.
That’s one of the cool things that one gets to witness here in the Valley. Harvest of just about everything is an incredible operation to observe.
So I bought a few crisp, sweet red and purple grapes, which are really purple and almost black. Beautiful.
They are, of course, good fresh, but they are also excellent roasted. A half hour in the oven and they become even sweeter with caramelized notes. So if you can stand heating up the oven in the summer, roasted grapes are the way to go.
They go well in desserts, on pizzas, and in cocktails…
Pineapple sage was a new addition to the herb garden this year. What an amazing plant. First of all, the leaves taste like pineapple. And it smells like it, too. Mine hasn’t flowered yet, but it will also bloom with beautiful reddish pink flowers that attract humming birds.
It’s taken off well in the garden. Some of the older leaves are burning in the sun, but I was pleased to find some new, pretty growth in the inner part of the plant. It seems to be sticking around.
I had a purple basil plant back in our Kentucky garden. I love the deep purple color it adds to a landscape that is otherwise all green. When I found one here earlier this spring, I decided to give it a go.
After our first hot spell, I thought it had bit the dust. The strong sun here tends to turn the leaves a brownish gray, not the purple I was hoping for. But a couple weeks ago, it started coming back a bit. I’ve upped the watering and it now has new purple leaves peeking out.
Next year I think I’ll try it in more shade, but for now, I have enough purple basil for garnishes and cocktails.
I’m still working on cracking the code for successfully growing food here in the Central Valley. Blueberries and citrus are going well and I can pull off some kale through winter.
Peppers last year were a no go, and I’ve murdered a few tomato plants as well. As I continue to attend workshops and talk with others, I’m slowly gaining more knowledge. I do see a few tomatoes and maybe an eggplant in the near future.
I rarely have an occasion to make sangria, but last week we had a little Fourth of July party to break in the new kitchen.
It was a simple affair – charcuterie, salad, and sausages on the grill. I had a lot of fruit around so stepping things up in the drink department seemed like a good idea.
A fellow blogger and friend visited the Saturday prior and brought us some beautiful plums. I’ve also been trying to take advantage of the last few days of berry season around here so I’ve been buying up way more than we can eat. Sangria was a natural fit for all the fruit.
This twist on one of my favorite brunch meals pairs Crab Cakes Benedict with the crisp 2013 Oak Knoll Chardonnay sent to me this month from Cultivar Wine.
We were at least a year into our time living in the Bay Area before I discovered Crab Cakes Benedict. To be honest, I’d probably only started eating regular Eggs Benedict not long before that.
The crab cake version, though? Well, it blew the old standby away. In all honesty, I can’t say that I was a super huge fan of the original anyway. The Canadian bacon on the English muffin didn’t do much for me, nor did the sauce.
But Crab Cakes Benedict is a whole different story.
A couple months ago, I bought a bulb of fennel from the farmers market. It had the most gorgeous long stem, overflowing with feathery fronds.
This kind of fennel is harder and harder to come by. Not a chance at our local super markets. They like to chop off the beautiful tops to make the bulbs all tidy when stacked.
It always makes me feel like I’m getting ripped off when I have to purchase fennel like that. I do as much with the fronds as I do with the bulb. So whenever I spot it at the farmers market, I grab it.
Well, this time around I had loads of greenery left over after a project. I started to think about how its licorice-like flavors would pair with the Costco-size bottle of vodka sitting on the counter (don’t judge). I’d had fennel infused cocktails before, but it was as a flavor accent, in the syrup or as a garnish, versus the main attraction.
These sweet and savory holiday party snacks pair well with the 2013 Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon I received from Cultivar Wine.
Tis the season for snacks and appetizers. At least that is what I’ve been telling myself as I’ve snacked my way through breakfast, lunch, and dinner the past week. I try to rotate a carrot or celery stick in every now and then, but who am I kidding.
At this point, it’s best to cast dietary caution to the wind and enjoy some holiday food. And drink a little wine.
This dark chocolate bark is studded with salted cashews, toasted coconut and dried currants. It makes a delicious dessert when paired with the Laphroaig 10 Year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky I recently received for review.
If my Dad could total up the number of pounds of cashews he has received as Father’s Day gifts over the years, I have little doubt it could fill the back of a pick-up truck. There has always been something essential about a can of his favorite nuts being a part of his gifts.
I suspect my tendency to give food as a gift is rooted in this family practice. But these days, while my family tends to stick with things like cashews, our gift giving has expanded into the drink category.
Quick. If you make these cranberries right now they will be ready for your New Year’s Eve cocktails. And trust me. You are going to want them for your cocktails.
These tart little berries are sweetened with a syrup made of raw sugar, rich bourbon and aromatic whole spices. They take only minutes to prepare and they make a good destination for the half bag of cranberries left in the fridge that you can’t find a use for.