Happy Hour with Friends
This past weekend we gathered with friends. On Friday our snowbird friends came to the house for happy hour. It’s a night of old dance music, take out dinner and lots and lots of laughter. Well and wine of course. We started with a red Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Courtois – La Source 2015. I found this wine dry on the tongue with mild fruit on the light to medium bodied end of the spectrum. I have had this wine before and liked it more before than I did tonight. Gary on the other hand thought it was perfect for the occasion. This wine is available locally at The Wine Shop
Later we switched to 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 from Australia. This is a “Tuesday” wine and is widely available. What is a “Tuesday” wine, it is sold for under $10.00 and quite honestly nothing special. Just easy to drink for those that like it sweeter. We tried this wine because friends had brought over the 19 Crimes Red Blend (store locator here) before and while the verdict was mixed (I was “undecided to a little to sweet” and Gary was a definite “No way”.) Our friends liked it so what the heck. While I found the red blend was tolerable, the cabernet sauvignon was a no go. It was nothing like what I expect from a cab. If you like them on the sweet side either of these wines could be for you.
Dogs, dogs, dogs
Two of my three sister’s who live in the Charleston area have dogs. They rely on Gary and I for additional care when they travel. Mikili (aka Moof… it’s a long story so maybe some other time) is and has been the canine love of my life. While she is my sister’s dog, I picked her from the litter and I swear we share the same personality traits. She is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (think Bernese Mountain Dog but with short hair). She is 8 years old and has had a plethora of medical issues but the one that has been a more recent challenge is that she is now blind from cataracts. She is not a candidate for surgery so this is her fate. Still able to see shapes and light and dark she gets around ok. I have been her “PuppDaddy” her entire life.
And now there is Breezy, the 5 month old Yellow Block Head English Labrador Retriever that my other sister acquired 3 months ago. I am her PuppDaddy too. Because she is so young I watch her during the week. When she was younger I had her 5 days a week but now only two days when she is not being socialized at doggie day care. It is great for me because when I have these dogs they entertain me and get me up from my desk and out for walks. I know…I need to move more!
Well, this past weekend I had both dogs. I was expecting a crazy, hectic time but the weekend went really well. Moof is set in her ways at 8, but she is such a mild mannered dog that keeping her is truly a joy and super easy. She has trouble seeing Breezy when the pup is approaching so I am training Breezy to be calm and gentle as she approaches Moof. We had significant progress but Moof is so timid it will require a lot more work with both dogs. We are training Breezy using The Perfect Dog system by Don Sullivan. It was suggested by the breeder and while skeptical at first, I am a huge fan. I am sure that Breezy’s temperament is part of the success but I have never experienced such a well behaved puppy before. Hey she is a lab and they are wound tight with energy and can be chewers so she does not have free reign yet but she is well on her way to being a perfect dog.
Ooh La La – Indaco
Saturday evening we gathered with friends at Indaco, an Italian Restaurant in the Upper King neighborhood of downtown Charleston. This area had exploded with restaurants and nightlife in the past several years. Indaco is one of our favorites. This was the last weekend of the winter CHS Restaurant Week (which because of a typo became three weeks). members of the Charleston Restaurant Association have special menus to entice locals to visit during the slow time of year. Indaco offered three courses for $35.00, plus wine, tax and tip. It was a great deal as you got to choose from the regular menu and portion sizes did not get smaller because of the deal. A few things have small “up charges” but it was well worth the additional cost. The Kale Caesar Salad that many of us order was a huge hit. Most of us went with a pasta for the second course and were very happy. (Check out the menu).
Those Italian Wines
Since we have had such a mild winter so far, I have not really given up on rosé just yet so I ordered the Proprieta Sperino Rosa del Rosa Rosato 2015. I have not drank italian rosé before so it was time to give it a go. It was super delicious. Darker in color than your typical southern French style wines, this rosé was perfect as a cocktail wine as well as with our meals. Three of us ended up sharing a bottle (or two). It was bright with a perfect amount of acidity and fruit. This wine is sold online with an average price of around $19 per bottle.
While we enjoyed the rosé, the others at the table wanted a big red. They chose the Antico Sigillo Primitivo Di Manduria 2014. Primitivo is genetically similar to Zinfandel and came from the same source. In Europe Primitivo and Zinfandel are interchangeable but in the US they must be labeled differently. Like most Zin/Primi style wines this wine is full bodied with an intense red color. There is lots of fruit with a balanced acidity. I did taste this wine as well and will be putting on my shopping list when I head to the wine store.
Best decision as a couple ever
Gary and I have been together for 28 1/2 years and I have to say it’s better today than ever. When we moved in together we made the decision to hire a cleaning service for our then apartment and have continued this practice all these years. This was an easy decision for us because there were no antiquated gender roles telling us who cooks or cleans or mows the lawn. We recognized that we both hold down full-time jobs so taking care of the household needs to be shared fairly or paid for. We both dislike house cleaning so hiring a service has been the best money we ever spent. For us, it is a required expense just like paying the electricity. That way no arguing over who’s turn it is to clean the bathrooms or the floors. Every other week a team comes in and the result is we do not fight over a messy house. Look what they left on the porch this time. I guess this is also part of our work – life balance.
Hot and Sour Asian Soup
This soup is my own recipe. It came about on a cold day and I wanted soup. I was also trying to lose weight. So I just opened by pantry and started pulling ingredients that I thought would go well together. The first time I made this it was not as good, but I kept at it and now it’s finally ready for primetime.
I love hot and sour together and when I need a soup to warm me up (with temperature and spice) and fill me up, I make this. Do not be intimidated by the number of ingredients. Most of these are staples in my house so you may find other uses for many if they are not in your pantry.
Since it is low calorie it can be a meal for 1 if you are a big eater or divide it up for two.
1 14.5 oz. can Fat Free reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
Water, (fill broth can 3/4 full)
1/3 cup Lemon Ponzu (found where you buy soy sauce)
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar (plain)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric (if fresh – about 1/2” – peeled, crushed and chopped)
1 tsp Ginger, crushed (if fresh 1” – peeled, crushed and chopped)
1tsp Garlic, crushed (1 clove if fresh – peeled, crushed and chopped)
3/4 tsp Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce
1 brick Ramen Noodles (plain – no seasoning packet needed)*
2 pcs Korean BBQ Pork Jerky** Sliced into thing strips about 1/8” wide by 2-3 inches long.
12 pcs Snow Peas
3/4 cup Shredded carrots
Hearty dark Salad Greens*** I use Pepper Greens and Baby Arugula. (salad section of the grocery)
Cilantro for garnish
large wedge of lime
Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
Pour the chicken broth into a 2 or 3 quart sauce pan. Fill empty broth can 3/4 full of water and add to pan. Add lemon ponzu, rice vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, garlic and chili garlic sauce. Bring to a boil then add Ramen Noodles. After 1 minute add the jerky. After another minute add the carrots and snow peas. Cook for another 2 minutes until ramen are cooked.
While cooking noodles fill your serving bowl with your salad greens. I put in a large handful of Pepper Greens and a small handful of Arugula. You can use more or less to your desire.
When the noodles are cooked and soup is ready, remove from heat. Pour the soup over greens to wilt.
Add several tender stems of cilantro for garnish, Add a drizzle or two across the bowl surface with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce and squeeze the lime wedge onto soup.
Grab your chopsticks and a spoon and dig in.
I do not add any salt because there is plenty of sodium in the ponzu and the Worcestershire Sauce for me. Use salt at your own preference
To make this soup vegetarian just use a vegetable or mushroom broth and leave out any meat.
You can also add or replace with others any veggies you want. Just make sure that they are shredded like the carrots so it will cook quickly. You could had bamboo stems, baby corn, assorted mushrooms…. what you like.
* You can substitute with any Asian noodle. Be sure to follow cooking instructions for the noodle. Or leave out the noodle for an even lower calorie soup.
**I get this jerky at Costco. I imagine it will be hard to find. You can substitute with any jerky, or leftover roasted chicken breast or any other already cooked meat.
*** I buy Pepper Green and Baby Arugula for my salads. That is why I also use in this soup. You could also use baby spinach or baby kale. I would not used a plain mixed greens salad. You want leaves that have some tooth to them so they can wilt but will have a tooth to them.
PDF: Hot Sour Asian Soup