I live where weather extremes prevail. Yesterday it was nearly 70, today 60, and in a few days it will drop to 9, yes, 9, with a windchill way below zero. In the meantime, I dream of spring flowers, renewal, transformation. I scrolled through old flower photos and decided to share a few. Drink a glass of wine, dream spring dreams, dance.
I look .
The fly floats in my glass of Seven Deadly Zins,
full to two golden flowers half way up the rim.
What kind of flowers?
Unsure, I watch the fly struggle, floundering around
in the deep red, the color that turns tongues
Dead. It floats.
Not poor, frugal. I debate.
Should I throw the wine out? Drink it?
I take the silver teaspoon–from the six piece
set Father gave Mother in 1946 on their
first anniversary–dip it in the dark, remove
fly, throw it down the antique copper sink drain.
I pick up the glass.
swirl the wine around in the bowl, take a sip.
Surely 15 percent alcohol kills germs.
It was past seven, time to fix dinner. Since I live a lone, I often fix dinner for two, save half, and have dinner ready for a hectic evening after work. Just warm in the microwave.
Cod with Fennel, Mint, and Lemon
Two cod loins–one if extra large
1 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 to 1 cup finely sliced small carrots
1/2 large poblano pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
several cauliflower florets thinly sliced
crushed dried mint
essential oil of lemon and fennel (if you do not use essential oils,
you can use 1 tsp. ground fennel and lemon juice to taste)
Pour enough olive oil in a ten inch skillet to totally cover the bottom. Saute garlic and carrots in the olive oil until carrots are almost tender. Sprinkle a small handful of mint over the garlic and carrot mixture. Add cauliflower and poblano pepper. When poblano peppers are about to change color, add the cod. Sprinkle drops of lemon and fennel essential oil over the cod–or the ground fennel and lemon juice. Cook until the cod flakes. Serve over rice. I use basmati.
McPherson Cellars, Llano Winery, Caprock Vineyards
red, white, sweet, dry
Lubbock, Texas, wine country beckons.
Last Wednesday Kornpanod (Mink) Stiensape, my grandson, and I went on a field trip to Lubbock to visit three wineries. Mink, my second daughter (in my heart), lived with me as an exchange student six years ago and came back this past month to visit. First, we stopped at McPherson. The tasting room, located in downtown Lubbock, not only has various wines to taste but also sells unique and fun items from candles to napkins to T-shirts. McPherson specializes in dry white wines although they do produce a nice sangiovese as well. Next we drove south of town to Llano. The current tasting room is small. The staff is friendly; tasting and tours are totally free unlike McPherson which charges a small fee for tasting.
The tours did not seem to be on an exactly strict schedule so we had to relax and wait a bit.
This photo shows the tasting room at Llano Winery. I think Mink and I tasted at least half of the red wines, ending with the port which included chocolate to go along with the port. My grandson took photos of the giant stainless steel vats. Personally, I enjoyed the oak barrels much more.
The tour guide explained the difference between the effects of newer barrels and the older ones, e.g. 35 years old, urged us to touch the surface of the barrels, and explained the varied effects. The newer the barrel the rougher the surface of the wood. Newer barrels “breathe” differently than older ones which, of course, alters the effects as well.
Next we drove a short distance farther south to Caprock Vineyards. The lady at McPherson told us Caprock was getting out of the wine business and planned only to host events. Absolutely not true according to the young woman at Caprock. The new owners plan to extend not curtail the wine aspect of their business. This includes surrounding the beautiful central building with vineyards from which they eventually plan to make wine. This is already in progress. Caprock is beautiful, full of elegant ambience which probably explains what others perceive to be an emphasis on events which they do intend to continue. Caprock charges five dollars for five tastings. The labels of at least one of their wines is very misleading. I like dry, red wine. The young lady convinced me to try the Sweet Tempranillo. It is not sweet; it mystifies me why they call it sweet. I do not like sweet red wine, but I liked this tempranillo. It is light enough for summer but dry enough for those who like dry wine. For those unfamiliar with Texas wines, tempranillo has become the go to grape for at least this part of Texas.
The front of the main building walking from the parking lot to the right.
On the path that leads into the malbec vineyard. There is a pathway that winds through the vineyard and an empty area in the middle where an event could be held.
These photos are also in the malbec vineyard looking toward the main building.
Note: I know this is Monday, not Sunday. However, a big electric storm came through just as I started to write this on the computer. Given that lightning strikes have injured or ruined my TV twice, I got off the computer and shut down the TV.
Several friends came over for dinner tonight. We still have enough left over wine from the wine tasting to last for weeks unless I keep inviting people over who drink wine. I served salmon teriyaki with crystallized ginger, jasmine rice, roasted vegetables, and salad–see previous posts for recipes. We also feasted on Ethiopian bread given to me at an Ethiopian party last night. Three of us in the group are headed to Ethiopia in ten days. Two of the group are doctors, ones wife is his office manager, which leads to the first topic.
Both of these doctors are from Southern Hemisphere countries. Both trained originally there and practiced there. One practiced medicine in several African countries before coming here. Basically, they had to start over here and go through most of medical school, residency, examinations, everything all over again. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if going to a doctor who did all this twice is not a better choice when you pick a doctor. I liked school; in general, I liked studying. Would I want to go through all that twice. Hell, no! Really. Their good humor, dedication, and persistence amaze me.
The morning after the wine tasting, I looked over the edge of my balcony, down the cliff, and to my horror saw all these full bottles of water. Since Thursday, when I discovered them, I have been trying to think how to get them out of there before the next rain storm comes and they wash even further down the steep slope. Friends to the rescue. I could not believe how Hernan descended the gravely slope. He confidently walked down it and around, picking up bottles, putting them in a plastic bag. He made it look easy, like he was walking on flat land. I finally had to ask how–I was down by the edge but not really climbing up and down. He informed me that he grew up in the mountains, the Andes. We all watched in mild astonishment at how easy he made it appear.
A good day to begin a good week I think: this morning people who bought my book telling me they love it, one telling me her mom grabbed it and she has not been able to even take a look, friends over for dinner, the bottles cleaned up, and the possibility of showers.
Yesterday evening, I felt honored to cook dinner for this wonderful family from the mountains of Italy. Lisa, the daughter, has been living with friends as an exchange student. Lisa had been to my house several times with her host parents and ridden Rosie. This week her parents, grandparents on her mother’s side, and her younger brother came to see her high school graduation Friday evening. Last night they all came to my house. Lisa speaks fluent English, her parents and grandfather some, but her grandmother very little. They do understand Spanish so I spoke Spanish to her grandmother, some Spanish to everyone else, some English, and, of course, everyone spoke bits and pieces of Italian or all Italian.
Grandfather Corrado smiled and laughed and hugged. When he was younger, he was ranked fifth in the world in cross country skiing. He spent much of his life, more than thirty years, in Germany making and selling ice cream. We did have ice cream for dessert–vanilla with Chambord on top.
Corrado drinking sangiovese from a local winery, BarZ, with Jeannette, the host mom of Lisa. Later, we had another bottle of sangiovese from a different winery, DiVine Wine.
They explained they drink wine every day so they felt right at home at my house. Lisa, in the Abercrombe T-shirt with her dad, Benedetto, next to her. And yes, that is Corrado smiling down there on the end.
Benedetto in the white shirt claimed that the sangiovese here seemed stronger than at home. Claudia, Lisa’s Mom appears to be explaining something, but I do not recall what. Grandmother Angelina is on her right and younger brother Antonio at the far right edge. Everyone seems enthralled. Benedetto is an architect.
From left to right, Lisa, Benedetto, me, and Claudia. They felt right at home with my dog Isabella; she has an Italian name.
Everyone agreed to eat dinner on the patio–and you were thinking all we planned to do is drink wine. The menu: brisket, roasted vegetables (red and purple potatoes, brussel sprouts, Anaheim peppers, carrots, onions roasted with lots of olive oil, basil, oregano, and herbes de Provence), green salad and bread with chunks of garlic in it.
There is nothing better than eating and relaxing with friends and family. And what a beautiful family!! Laughter, hugs. How could one not enjoy all the hugs and kisses on both cheeks.
They had ridden horses in Palo Duro Canyon and hiked there earlier in the day, attended several graduation parties, and played volleyball. Antonio seemed very tired. He is 13.
Richard, the host dad, relaxes in the bar stool while his daughter takes photos with his camera. A deer eventually showed up across the canyon.
This lovely Italian family lives way in the north of Italy in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Claudia explained they work seven days a week during the seven month tourist season–it is skiing country, and then they like to travel. This evening as I write this they have headed to New York City by minivan via St. Louis and Falling Waters–Corrado really wants to see this Frank Lloyd Wright house. I feel so honored to have met them. Una bella famiglia–a beautiful family.
On my way home from work today, I stopped by a friend’s house to get some Black Eyed Susans. She and her husband run a bed and breakfast with a spectacular garden in the back. Iris of every color are blooming, yellow, lavender and white, peach, every shade of purple, and one a combination of colors I have never seen before. The lavender and white combined in one flower I gave her in the fall of 2012. They rebloom and spread rather rapidly. Because of that and the fact that I cannot bear to throw any away, I have them by the barn and here and there. Some do better than others–a lot of the soil here is either clay or caliche or a combination, not very conducive to anything but the toughest. She has a rose bush taller than I am which means it must be about 5’6″ or 7″. Another deep red rose was already blooming. She gives me flowers and I wait and see how they do or if the deer or bunnies will eat them.
Today’s weather brought perfection, a rare treat of just the right temperature, sunshine, and no wind. When I arrived, her husband was napping in the garden in a lawn chaise. He got up, we all walked around the garden, looked in the koi pond, and commented what flowers seemed to flourish more readily than others. Many flowers which do well in town either die out here in the country only twelve miles away or fail to thrive. They just sit there and do nothing. She and I have shared flowers for years, flowers and conversation and wine. We all decided to sit town and share some wine and cheeses and crackers and visit. They travel widely and always have tales to tell. He is from Jordan so we discuss world events. Part of today’s conversation centered on Boko Haram and the differences between Shia and Sunni. He is Sunni and I used to be married to a Shiite. Often we discuss extremism and how it harms everyone, regardless of religion. None of us understand the hatred some people seem to feel toward others who are different from them either my race or religion or ethnicity or gender.
As soon as I returned home and changed into gardening clothes, I fed Rosie, and planted the Black Eyed Susans with a big dose of water and root stimulator. Who knows if they will make it. I will wait and see. If they do, they will contrast nicely with the purple of the catmint and the white, tiny, native Blackfoot Daisies growing wild among the other plants in my little garden. What more can a person wish for than spending time with good friends among the flowers. And a little wine never hurts.
Arrived home from work and fed Rosie. Looked at the dry native grass around my house and decided to water a bit of it even though I loathe wasting water. Green is probably safer than winter brown. The recent giant wildfire raised my concerns about the fire danger in this drought. I cannot remember when it rained and the next ten days show no rain in sight. As soon as I finish writing this or shortly thereafter, I get to run back to town and join probably 100 plus other people at friends’ house to taste the wine and food brought by Market Street. These friends run a bed and breakfast with a spectacular garden complete with koi pond and just about every kind of flower you can grow in this area. It’s cool, nearly froze last night, so I will wear the black turtle neck and slacks I wore to work. It’s hard to believe that it was just above freezing last night and is supposed to hit 100 next Monday–the desert has now reached here apparently.
Thinking about this leads me to think about some of my favorites, especially when it comes to wine: zinfandels, especially from Lodi, California. The moderately priced one I buy most often is OVZ. It frequently goes on sale here which is even better. I also like Seven Deadly Zins–unfortunately I have never seen it on sale. Basically, I love red wines and almost never drink white. A moderately priced nice blend is Apothic Red. Market Street had a super sale so I bought several–ten percent off if you buy six at a time. The best malbec I ever drank came directly in baggage from Argentina, a present to me from my Argentinian exchange student when he arrived. You can’t get it here and when his mom tried to ship me some, she was not allowed.
The students at school kept commenting on my black attire today. They asked if I was going to a funeral or something. I laughed. I like black; I look good in black. It also shows off my turquoise jewelry. My most favorite color is orange. Turquoise looks good with it too. Red and green are ok. Finally after decades I have learned to like hot pink, but really I am not a pink person–see my poem about Hot Pink Toenails–on an old blog. It remains one of my blog posts that people look at most–I have no clue why. The one color I really do not like is blue, especially pale blue. Perhaps tomorrow I will post about favorite books. I really would like readers to comment about their favorites. It fascinates me what people perceive and feel about this and that. Often I am the only person I know who reads what I read.
Off to taste some new wines and maybe find a new favorite.