Category Archives: foodie

Hopes And Dreams

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Our 2018 is coming to a close very soon.  Where did the year go?!  Filled with memorable days with many of you, & for others not enough time together.

Our travels started with a February trip to Louisville, KY where we went to the “show of shows” for military & gun collectors. Foodie joints, the Louisville Slugger tour, & downtown were a part of the trip.  Dean & I visited the St. Meinrad Archabbey.  The architecture & gardens are stunning.  Mother’s Day weekend included a combined mothers trip to Pella, IA to view the late spring tulips, a windmill tour, & indulge in Dutch fare.  Memorial Day weekend Dean & I visited the Lincoln Museum & Home in Springfield, IL.  Late June, we gathered up my Rachel’s three, & took a 4-day trip to Branson, MO where the go-carts reigned.  Such fun with the grandkids!   We had a short few days in Minnesota.  It definitely was not long enough, but happy to relax & visit with in-law family in the Twin Cities and family friends on Island Lake part of the 4th of July week.  Over Veteran’s Day weekend, we holiday & antique shopped in Branson.

Our big news for 2018 is our purchase of a small 1940’s home in historic St. Charles, just one Missouri River town closer to St. Louis metro.  The weekday commutes to our offices have been easier, & the quietness of this older neighborhood so refreshing.  Dean loves the WWII era, & his “man cave” basement.  “Deanna’s Cottage” is a “work in progress”; new kitchen flooring, unveiling the hardwood floor under carpeting in the living room & our bedroom, new or no awnings (depends on if you ask Dean or Anna!), new fencing, taking down at least one huge tree, & building a “garage plus” in the big back yard are envisioned. It is a quaint 4-room dwelling, under 800 sq-ft love nest.  We went small on purpose.  We love visitors, but really love our empty nest!  The comfy guest bedroom takes you back to the whimsical Edwardian era.  It has been a blast finding 1930-40’s furniture pieces & 2nd-hand decor to decorate Deanna’s Cottage. We recently listed with Airbnb for the St. Charles festival weekends only.  Being 7 blocks from historic Main Street makes our place an ideal hideaway for travelers. On those weekends while guests are at our cottage, we stay at our 4-bdrm St. Peters house, which is being rented to my daughter & son-in-law.  Dean & I have experienced some Airbnb suites as guests before we opened up our home as hosts. The concept seems rather novel, but in past centuries many travelers stayed in common people’s homes.  This century we are using electronics to facilitate bookings for lodging.  Although not a traditional bed & breakfast, I will always leave some kitchen-made goodie for our guests, as I still love to bake & our guests gladly indulge.  For any naysayers about the size, pace, venue, or avenue, it is Dean & I’s dream.  Deanna’s Cottage will grow. We are building our dream one step at a time.  More in the years ahead …

Our grandchildren continue to flourish.  Dean’s granddaughter, 2-year old Elise has developed into her own person.  Loves art, music, & hands-on anything!  My youngest grandchild, Eli shines in math & finally had a buddy move in his neighborhood.  Ella needs to stop growing!  Such a kind, pretty young lady she is.  My oldest granddaughter, Hannah, is in her last year of homeschooling.  Another artsy one.  The last I heard she wants to be a tattoo artist, but had thoughts about nursing.  Either or both paths are the right one for her.  I understand that pull in vocational choices based on gift areas. Libby is thriving in her 1st year of high school, active with choir, & quite the artist as well.  What is it about our girls & art?  My Brendan is the other one that needs to stop growing! He excels in his height along with sports & academics.

Our beloved, Midnight passed away in June just before Father’s Day. The memories we had with him during his puppy, young & older adult doggy years I will treasure forever.  Dean & I had him his last 5 years after my father passed away.  Though I hesitated at the first, Dean embraced being Midnight’s new master when the need was brought to our attention.  This Labrador brought so much liveliness & love to our home & our extended family.  We miss our Midnight.  Another doggy will come into our home later, maybe when we retire.  Our feline, Celine stays at the St. Peters house.  She is getting too old for another change.  We have granddogs & grandcats always in plenty.

The growing season was shorter this year. This spring I missed the window of opportunity to sow my greens like arugula, lettuce, & spinach because it was winter up until mid-May.  Summer came 2 weeks later!  In our screen house we again had monster tomato plants produce some delicious cherry tomatoes.  I still have a few of those green tomatoes picked before Jack Frost came that are turning red in a bowl set in the kitchen window.  Boone Hollow Farm where the screenhouse/greenhouse seats is still a serene place for Dean & myself to hide away during a workweek evening or weekend.  Just 30 minutes of the country quiet & picking weeds or vegetables can restore my blood pressure & sanity to normal.

Dean continues to serve & learn from the clients that come into the research room at the National Archives.  The stories the researchers & employees uncover are quite entertaining.  Throughout the year we go out for happy hours or dinners with his clients.  My work with the employee wellness program at St. Louis County was nationally recognized by the American Heart Association this year, after 10 years of creative efforts & hard work.  In 2019, I along with other wellness professionals in the St. Louis region will address diabetes & glucose issues.  I can personally vouch that regular physical activity keeps those numbers in line.  I was walking 10,000 steps a day this year, & am now challenged by the cold temps.  Our basement will be put into use over the winter months just like the underground tunnel at work.

Advent season sets the stage of waiting in hope & a readiness for the Gift.  The Gift of Jesus is there to embrace any day & any time.  Our hopes are birthed in Him.  One of our children has a hope for healing of chronic health conditions of degenerative disc disease & arachnoiditis against the current medical odds.  Conventional medicine has harmed more than helped, so alternative therapies are sought for pain management.  Missouri joins the legalization of marijuana, a miracle in itself.  Another one of our children is waiting & has a hope for having a child.  Dean & I continue to pray for our daughters & sons.  And for each of us who have a hope whether tiny or big, impregnate our whole being, let the joy of knowing that our God reigns, He cares, He loves us right now just as we are.  Look to Him for security. “Hope as an anchor” is what I pray for you & our loved ones this holiday season & long into 2019!

 

Pasta Arugula

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I use my abundant, pungent arugula in my salads as well as egg, pasta, and rice dishes these days.  A little goes a long way, so most of my culinary creations as of late include my fresh grown arugula. One important aspect to the culinary arts is that improvisation goes a long way. It is easier to substitute ingredients with cooking versus baking.  I find arugula can be used in place of spinach in most dishes and salads.   There is a taste difference with these 2 greens, but cooking properties similar. Arugula like spinach is a great source of vitamin A and C as well as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.  Arugula grows much like spinach, spring and autumn sowing here in Missouri.

I love creamed spinach! The best I ever had is crafted by the executive chef Gerard Germain. I learned much from the culinary experts while working at Dierbergs School of Cooking.  Chef Gerard dazzles his students’ appetites with Italian and French cuisines. A first generation French immigrant applies his old world culinary magic in the kitchen of a fine Italian establishment in St. Louis called Tony’s. The next best thing is spinach in a white sauce over pasta.  So here is my attempt to a lighter version of Pasta alla Fiorentina … Pasta Arugula (or the Italians say rucola), but my recipe is American-style.  I lessen the butter and use a little olive oil as a base for the slurry as well as use whole milk instead of cream or half & half.  Of course, arugula goes in the recipe instead of spinach.  Noted for the recipe this evening, I cooked too much whole-grain pasta for the amount of white sauce I made, and did not add enough arugula.  Fresh arugula shrinks considerably while sauteed. Tonight I served the Pasta Arugula with locally-made chicken Italian sausage and crusty bread.  I sipped a glass of lavender sparkling water,  and Dean downed a domestic beer this rainy summer evening.Pasta Arugula

Co-Thriving

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“Co-exist” is a word that became popular a few years ago. It implies people, critters, and plants living harmoniously on this earth despite our differences. A lofty goal, easier said than done, but is wonderful to experience when it happens. I would rather think “co-thriving”.  I want to thrive rather than just exist. I know there are other people in my world who feel the same.  Even my Labrador, Midnight thrives when people surround, a social animal. My geraniums thrive in the warm and sunny afternoons and a humid Memorial Day rain storm.  Rain finally came after many cloud build-ups this 3-day weekend!

I am hitting the age where more of my colleagues are retiring.  Dean and I attended a happy hour this past week for  one of my friends. More Cardinal ball games and late mornings are in my friend’s new season.  I can be entering that season of life in about 4 years and 4 months. That would be 225 more work weeks. Oh, I forgot I have a few vacation weeks in there as well, but who is counting?! I want to thrive, not merely exist during retirement. Good chance I will do just that because that is what I am doing now. Key is, co-thriving with my Dean, family, and friends. I believe green plants and gardening will fill my days, as well as serving with joy the people God places in my life. Much like today. “And those who were seen dancing were thought to  be insane by those who could not hear the music” Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted.  I hear the music, and I want to dance every season of my life.

Mother’s Day Weekend

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My Saturday was filled with caring  for green life, as so many Saturdays and Sundays in the spring time. Dean and I made an early run to the greenhouse as summer like weather was forecasted for the day. Dean mowed the grass while I attended to weeds and watering. Our peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, parsley, and dill are sprouting. The chive plants are in full bloom. I cut a bundle, and dropped some off to Jack Mac, executive chef  and friend at Chandler Hill Vineyards. He told me how to use the blooms in my cooking this week.  For this weekend I put together a red potato salad snipping my chives and young voluntary dill sprigs into the bowl.

As tradition goes green plants and May flowers fill my Mother’s Day weekend. This year is no exception. Maybe it is tradition from my childhood.  My motherSeeds Quote still enjoys a potted tomato plant and another pot of summer favorites like petunias or geranium. This Mother’s Day I sit on the porch bench surrounded with early morning mist, song birds, and quietness from the world’s busyness. Midnight,  our Labrador joins. He, too relishes the weekly early Sunday morning date with nature. My pots of perennials and annuals complete my sensual needs this morn.

More French Art

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In my last post I shared some French influence in the culinary arts. That same evening I threw together an overnight blueberry french toast which turned out deliciously, and we have eaten on this dish the past couple of mornings.  The kitchen is not the only room where the arts have a French flavor.  The artistic style of the French poet and painter Jules Breton now resides in Dean and I’s bedroom.  Last year Dean gave me a print of Breton’s painting “The Wounded Seagull”, a replica of my favorite painting at the St. Louis Art Museum.  A thoughtful gift. The original was created in 1878 when the World’s Fair was held in Paris.  We had this print matted and framed, and now resides over our headboard.  When Breton painted it, this was a time in history when “naturalism” was replacing “romanticism” in the arts, artists portraying the daily lives of everyday people.  It is thought that Breton romanticized a common peasant girl in this painting.  The wounded seagull looks up to her while she appears to be in a far away thought.  Sea life was not easy, for the seagull or the girl.  I think this painting tells the story of so many I know and love.  We care and love each other a mist turmoil.  The conflict and contrast continue.

 

To Eat Intelligently Is An Art

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“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld, French author wrote.  This author lived an exquisite lifestyle in his French chateau in the 1600’s. And the one and only saucy “The French Chef” herself, Julia Child was an American chef who brought the French cuisine to the everyday American in the mid to late 1900’s.  This “mindful, purposeful eating” is an art almost lost, but has been resurrected once again with the farm-to-table restaurants and crafted foods and spirits in today’s food culture.  The term “slow food” was coined in Europe in the 1980’s, and has come to the United States full swing.

Locavorism is encouraged. Niche farmers, gardeners, and chefs bring fresh meats, fruit, vegetables, and herbs to their plates and that of their community.  The Bent Pig and Hannahway Farms in Farmington and Chef Jack MacMurray at Chandler Hill Vineyards in Defiance are such people.  Farmer’s markets will open this month with their early crops.  An American diner such as Ethyl’s in O’Fallon, Missouri has their crafted meats, slowly smoked which fills the neighborhood with a mouth-watering aroma.  After work one evening this week I devoured their pork sandwich served with a heaping dollop of coleslaw between the bun and sweet, smoky BBQ pork, Carolina-style.  I slowly savored every bite.  Local does not always mean the best as my stop at a small cafe for a warm bite before my doctor’s appointment yesterday morning reminded me of that.  A “Popeye omelet” described on the menu said bits of bacon with spinach and Swiss cheese. But mine had chunks of bacon fat that resembled the Swiss cheese.  Gross!  I could not finish it!  The smell of bacon turned my stomach tonight when I came home to my daughter preparing a “brinner ” menu for her family.  See how long it takes me to get over the bacon phobia.  I usually love the leaner slices!  Tonight I created an overnight french toast using leftovers:  day old raisin bread bargain bought at a local bakery soaked in an egg-milk mixture laced with some of my home brew vanilla extract, and then topped with leftover reduced-fat cream cheese spread and fresh blueberry sauce.  Tell you how it turned out on my next post.

So go back to my original quote “to eat intelligently is an art”… it means to eat within a set budget as well as “lean, clean, and green”.  It takes some planning and improvisation.  My health goal this year was to lose at least 20 lbs.  Patronizing those farmer’s markets, growing my own veggies and herbs, and eating more plant foods will help me achieve that goal.  Based on this week’s visit to the doctor’s, I have lost.  As long as I do not eat too many slices of that french toast, and keep to veggie omelets, I will do accomplish my goal tastefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pancake Morning

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“Talking, talking, pancakes” is what Dean describes our first morning together.  We loves our pancakes!  This Saturday morning is no exception.  This improvising personal chef had one over-ripe banana in the fruit bowl and one bottle of Wells Banana Bread beer left in the refrigerator from the holidays.  This combination created some delicious pancakes. Is it Hermann’s German culture or my German heritage from my deceased grandmothers influencing the weekend menu in this home?  Probably a little bit of each.  Here it is folks … Banana Beer Pancakes with Caramelized Banana Beer Sauce.

This morning Dean and I talk weekend topics over our pancake breakfast.  Errands to run … purchase and install new window blinds in our rejuvenated home, and a tile floor selection for the bathroom.  Then dog food and possible organic vegetable and herb seeds to purchase at the local farmers’ co-op with an afternoon run out to our 7-month greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance, Missouri.  I will get the organic soil turned up today while Dean looks over the structure for winter wear. February brings us closer to spring.  Besides the Groundhog tells us it will be an early spring this year. Spring-like today, but winter returns with frigid cold weather after the weekend. Deanna Greens And Garden Art will start our 4th growing season.  In another 4 or 5 weeks, seeds will be planted in our beds for an early crop of lettuces, spinach, and peas. The garage is too crowded with our extra storage during the house renovations to get the gourd and herb seedlings started on the heating pads.  All direct sowing this year.  Flexibility and improvisations once again.  Life requires it.

“Look around for a place to sow a few seeds.”  Henry Van Dyke

 

January Blahs and Baking

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I have had little energy the past few days, turning into bed early hoping to feel better the next morning.  Extra glasses of water and hot tea are being consumed.  Tuesday into Wednesday I awoke with my throat on fire, and needed to prop up on double pillows in order to breathe.  The seasonal allergy snuffles definitely became a bacterial infection. My Dean seemed to feel worse than I with his croupy cough.  We stayed home from work, and visited our doctors in the morning.  Antibiotics were ordered treating a sinus infection for each of us. The January blahs indeed.  Naps and cooking shows filled the day.  Bone-in chicken breasts simmered all day in the crock pot, and made a healthy, tasteful stock for homemade chicken & dumplings.  I had heard years ago, homemade stock made with real bone-in meats makes a health-filled potion.  Adding vinegar, wine, or beer brings out the collagen from the bone marrow.  I always add a bottle of beer or a glass of wine to the crock pot.  I coached my granddaughter, Libby with the dumpling recipe and shared with her my secret ingredient, a pinch of nutmeg.  Warm, comfort food filled our dinner bowls by evening.

I do not bake much as the sugar and calories are not needed as I age.  Though I have been so inspired by the CutThroat Kitchen episodes I watched this week as well as the German influences while in Hermann, Missouri last weekend.   In my memory bank, is an old favorite this morning, blueberry-almond kuchen.  While in this rental house I have limited kitchen appliances and spices, as well as my recipe box is still at our home. By memory, I create a blueberry-vanilla kuchen.  No almonds or almond extract in the rental house pantry.  I substitute with a home-brew vanilla extract and use vanilla yogurt instead plain yogurt.  A hand beater and muscles rather than my stand-up KitchenAid cream the low-fat cream cheese, yogurt, eggs, and sugar.  Nutmeg goes in the butter crumb topping for a nutty flavor rather my standard cinnamon or cardamon left at the house.  Sweet baking aromas fill the air this Sunday morning.  Warmth filled our tummies once again.

This last day of January begins with a spectacular sunrise.  Another unseasonably warm day is in store.  Dean and I are feeling much better with a few rounds of antibiotics.  I cleaned and finished up laundry yesterday while Dean worked on one of the vehicles. With the weekend chores completed, we have this Sunday to attend Mass and go play.  An afternoon walk around the displays at the Train Show will help me burn off that serving of Blueberry-Vanilla Kuchen I indulged in this morning.

Blueberry-Vanilla Kuchen

Oh Hermann!

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This weekend Dean and I hibernated in Hermann, Missouri.  We were invited to stay at a lovely guest house by some wonderful folks.  We took a gander at antiques and patronized a gift shop in the historic downtown area.  The friendly salesman at the gift shop greeted us warmly and proceeded to tell us where he was from and why he retired in Hermann.  This retired banker from St. Peters, my hometown says the cost of living is so reasonable in Hermann, and so many services cater to the aging population in the quaint German town.  Just my thoughts exactly for the past almost 6 years, retiring in Hermann.

“You had me at ‘hello'” was displayed on a wooden sign in the gift shop. That would be my Dean and I.  Love at the first sight, e-mail, FB message, and date 6-1/2 years ago. Our garden courtyard wedding took place 5-1/2 years ago just 4 blocks from where I stand at that gift shop.  We had to pick up a pastry in this old Old World town. A local bakery was spotted amidst the neighborhood bars and shops.  A kringle, “krakeling” filled with strawberry ooze called out our name as we perused the dessert selections. My diabetic diet just went to pot, but back on track come Monday.  Besides the small town walking helped, right?

After an early Saturday dinner at the Tin Mill Brewery, Dean and I hung out with the local folks at the firehouse fundraiser mouse races. We fit right in, happy women with full hips and bearded men with a sense of humor. Homemade chili and desserts galore.  Bids for cash and guns kept us on our toes.  Loads of fun!  The laughter got louder as the evening went with the number of empty beer & wine bottles and whiskey & coke glasses. German people know how to celebrate life!  Not a need for a wedding or birthday to live life fully.

Sunshine beams through the tall-pane window as I sit in an elegant armed chair. Next to me my cup of hot Earl Grey tea laced with bergamot and half & half while a couple of Italian dark chocolate wafers await my consumption.  This crisp January afternoon brings my dream to life once again.  The heart dreams where the soul needs to be.  Our house and bed & breakfast in Hermann, Missouri.  We feel at home, at peace every time we come to Hermann.  From the time we cross the lighted bridge over the Missouri River, we are home.  Oh Hermann, we will be here to stay within 5 years.

And The More To Come

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winelistNew Year’s Eve dinner and bottle of wine at Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield, Missouri shared with my sweetie, Dean was slowly, lusciously savored …

~ Opera Prima Moscato, La Mancha, Spain ~
~ Yukon Gold Potato Pancake with Peppered Pecan Wood Smoked Bacon and House Made Pear Chutney ~
~ Grilled Local Heritage Hog Chop (12 oz.) and Annie Gunn’s Pork Belly with Local Apple Golden Raisin Chutney, Garlicky Brussels Sprouts and Whipped Local Sweet Potatoes ~
~ Angus Reserve Aged Filet Mignon, Northern Plains with Cabernet Cracked Pepper Butter served with Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes, Farmer Vegetables and Plugra Butter ~

Thank you, my love. With fond vignettes and memories made in 2014, and a welcome to 2015 and the more to come …