Monday, August 30, 2010

I am a selfish b....

Okay, not really! Big WAMPP is over for this year. The winery is an easy gig, so now time to share this and I am making my way over to your blogs this week. Gosh I miss reading  and ingesting all the blogs out there! I miss eating too. Naw, I actually cooked this weekend for my Open Mic crew down at our annual 'Fireside' Camp out! Will share how I got 'Hatch' chili's, and roasted them for...(to be continued)...

By R. Kurt Osenlund, Pennington Post

The weekend festival was the second for the Wine Art Music Poetry Project, a new nonprofit devoted to supporting area artists and performers, and benefiting congenital heart failure research.

On Saturday, Aug. 21, the Straube Center in Pennington played host to the Wine Art Music Poetry Project (WAMPP), an up-and-coming, nonprofit festival set to be held in various spots throughout New Jersey.

Designed to support local artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, authors and wine connoisseurs who may not have another outlet with which to share their passions, WAMPP also raises funds for congenital heart failure research.

“WAMPP is a charity fundraiser that I’ve been wanting to do for years now,” says Elizabeth Stelling, founder of the festival. Ten years ago, Stelling lost her 14-year-old daughter, Anelisa, to heart disease. After going through a serious grief period, Stelling – a writer, artist, performer and chef who moved from Texas to St. Louis then finally to Jersey – was in desperate need of a creative outlet, and wanted to find a way to marry it to a good cause.

Stelling discussed her plans over the years with her artist friends, many of whom she knew through the open mic nights she organized in Princeton.

“They said, ‘when you’re ready, we’ll participate,” Stelling recalls.

And so they have. Saturday’s event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., boasted a full roster of performances, along with a smattering of artists and vendors. Set up through the parking lot and onto the lawn between the Straube Center’s two main buildings, the all-day affair featured a stage at either end, one devoted to music and the other to poetry and book readings.

Among the performers were C.J. Barna, an R&B rock musician who entertained the crowd around 3:30 p.m.; Phil Southard, a singer/songwriter who hit the stage at 4 p.m.; and Ed Hines, a poet-turned-musician who serenaded guests at around 1:30 p.m.

At the poetry stage, local poet and author Phoebe Wilcox read an excerpt from “Recidivist,” her published collection of original poems. Wilcox also mentioned that her new novel, “Angels Carry the Sun,” is due out Sept. 15.

The vendors who lined the path between the stages included Amalthea Cellars of Atco, N.J. (the “official winery” of WAMPP, which hosted the project’s debut event on July 31, and will host its Harvest Event on Oct. 23); a face-painting booth, where Christina Miller of Hightstown drew mini-masterpieces on children’s cheeks; Jeanine DeNitto, a mixed media artist selling quirky, handmade dolls; and Randi Millstein, whose company, Randi’s Gourmet Foods, is especially known for its artisanal biscotti.

“This is totally a volunteer event,” Stelling said. “Nobody’s being paid to do this. They help me and I help them. I like helping the little guy. A lot of these performers were playing in bars and in their living rooms. This gives them a way to bring it out and share it.”

And, of course, it also gives them a way to be part of something that can help sick kids in need. All of the money raised at WAMPP events – which typically advertise a $5 suggested donation – goes toward congenital heart disease foundations and children heart camps. Proceeds from Saturday’s event were donated to the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation.

Stelling says she has big ambitions to bring WAMPP to many locations, and she has targets like New Hope and Lambertville in mind.

“I don’t just want to limit it to music; I want it to be all genres together,” Stelling says. “I want to bring the spirit of open mic – this element of art and music and poetry and wine – all over.”

{Photos and article property of Pennington Post- R. Kurt Osenlund-  Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010}

Oh BTW, I did not say "I like helping the little guy", poetic license from the writer! I said, "Starting open mic gave each of us a chance to come out of the living room after raising kids, or whatever, and dive into our passions of music, poetry, etc... I did it for myself, so I could perform my spoken word writing again! Oh well, I thought it sounded like I was looking down on people, not what I really meant...Oh, and I promise, no more WAMPP post until next year...time to get back to my real job!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Art You Can Eat

Most of my friends in some way or another in the past ten years have been laid off, gone back to school, and tried to re-market themselves in the bad economy (started in Texas ten years ago and followed me to the NE), and only a few have succeeded. Their savings have dwindled, and now are looking at working straight through retirement. Is this true for you? Do you believe the economy is coming back as annalist have said? Have you re-invented yourself? One woman has, and I want to share her story...

My phone rang two weeks ago, and this familiar voice said "E, I think we know each other". After talking about how our lives have changed in two years, the poor economy, so she started her own business, and asked if her products could find their way into the WAMPP Festival. I of course told her "food is art", and she was welcome to join us.

Randi Millstein found herself in a no win situation with her job- not liking what she did and the uncertainty of cut backs. For the first time in her life she toyed with the idea of biting the economy back by working for herself, but how? She noticed a recipe in a Food and Wine magazine for an unusual savory biscotti and thought to herself, this sounds good, and I bet others would like it too.

After tasting her twist on the biscotti, friends and family told her she should sell them. On a shoe string budget she sought out a kitchen, got a certificate to start her business, began experimenting with flavors, sizes, packaging, and Randi's Gourmet Foods was born. The packages are adorned with a small photo of Randi and her trade mark 'colorful' head band, her name, and ingredients. Did I mention they are low fat?

I sat with her as she explained how she mixes and cures her dough one day, pans it up the next, bakes it off, and then packages it for vendor sales. Over time she has learned what works for her, and has taken classes in business start-up. She does all the work herself. Even loads it all up into her car, heads out on Thursday to flea markets, farmer markets, and eventually found her way to WAMPP this past Saturday. People taste her foods and after discovering how good they are, and buy them up. Local is the name of the game these days.

Turns out we knew each other from a food and wine event she attended I had catered two years ago. Watching her move the entire time we talked, I knew I was impressed with her willingness to beat the odds. She brought gourmet art to my festival, and her products are affordable. Randi's Gourmet Foods started with multi flavored biscuits, now moving into crackers, and is on it's way to making a few sweet treats.

The shelf life on this product? At this point it does not matter (around three months, baked fresh weekly)! Why? Because people eat them before they make it home Randi says to me, and then we laugh. Guilty! I might be able to convince her to send you some to try once she expands the business. Now spending the afternoon with her, my wheels have begun to turn on getting my barbecue sauce and chutney in production.

Randi is not rich, but like many of us who work for ourselves, she is happier, and is control of her own destiny! Her future plans? To bring them to the local gourmet markets as soon as she feels the products have been perfected. "Tweak some recipe and business details before I hit the market running", she said handing me another bite of the newest sample of cheese crackers. While crumbs are flying all over my blouse (I am safely sitting far from her work station), I tell her, "my taste buds think they are pretty perfect".

I wonder if I can convince her to make gluten free versions?

Tomorrow 'Partners In Wine Club' is taking her product to a WAMPP Fundraiser someone is having for me, and I am pairing wine with some of her flavors, and will report back next Monday and Tuesday on the wine site!

{Photos taken by E Stelling, and property of CookAppeal, LLC- 2010}

Thursday, August 19, 2010

News! The Big Day Has Arrived

Nope, I am not quitting, I just wanted to share with you wonderful bloggers the reason I have not been over to your sites much; it is because this weekend is WAMPP- Wine Art Music Poetry Project, the big one. We had the winery event July 31st and raised lots of money for Cardiomyopathy. Our soft opening was great!

This is the big one, and I have been running around all week getting ready, and I will say this is a two martini night with all the stuff I have to check and double check. We have tents, we don't have tents, now we do...people are driving me batty! Part of the job, and I love it.

Enjoy some pics- of the buffet spread we had for the Amalthea Cellars guest, my new best friends (in blue chairs, they drank three bottles of wine, and I had a glass!).

I was running from the kitchen, and back outside. I have to figure out a better way to host and be in the kitchen, I could not move the next day!

Pasta and sauce, Chardonnay Caesar Salad with Chicken, Dill Potato Salad, Masa Boats, Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta, Gouda Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Fruit and Cheese Board- all for a $10 donation. Wine was sold separately. Donations were taken at the front entrance.

Artist set up tents with their wares, people all over the grounds, relaxing and watching the musicians and poets, and me performing with my new 'Poetry' band, Fora and Eli.

We went into rehearsal studio today and cut a CD, and will work on putting them on sale after first of the year, and all money from sales will go to this charity!

I am so excited I could kiss you all, so put your mugs to the computer and I will be back over next week! Smooch!

Wine Art Music Poetry Project @ Amalthea Cellars Harvest Stomp Festival will be October 23, Noon - 6 PM, come down and join us!

BTW Doc, we played your song for the crowd and I shared your story- I am going to do it again this Saturday on stage...I do this for all those we have lost, to remember and pay homage...

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Dog of a different kind- Sonoran

Sometime after WWII the hot dog made its way down to Mexico, Sonora to be exact. Then it came back across the border looking like a mummy wrapped in bacon (mesquite bacon!), cooked on the griddle, tucked into a steamed bun, covered with beans, mayo, mustard, jalapeno sauce, and tomatoes. So I had to try it, against hubby's taste buds of course. He does not like bacon as I have said before, but I made him go with me to check out the place where even Man Vs Food ate just barely a year ago.

You drive around various areas of Tucson and see carts dotting parking lots like sculptures, and in many ways they are. Full of culture and food history they help make the lower class business man make a living in many ways. These carts are typically called 'dogueros', and over the past decade have become so popular there may be too many to count. We saw them in many of the northern part of Tucson, and on the way out of town heading southeast towards Elgin and Sierra Vista.

Food historians call it the Sonoran-style or Estilo Sonora hot dog. It originated about 20 years ago in Hermosillo, the capital of the Mexican state of Sonora. Street vendors sit and wait for the people to exit the clubs. Hungry, the masses gobble them up as a welcome snack from dancing and drinking before going home.

The Sonoran hot dog may take the phrase "with everything" to new heights, because it starts with a hot dog wrapped in bacon. Then you begin piling on the beans, grilled onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, cilantro 'verde' sauce, and mustard. Just the thought of all this made me think twice about eating one, but after trying tongue and grilled octopus lately, I think I can stomach a few new ones. I am making mini-sonorans for an open mic cookout later this month, so I will let you know how they turn out!

They made it to California, but do not have all the 'extras' the Sonora dog has, and are called- “danger dog” (Tijuana hot dog). Some claim it originated in Mexico City.

I also found history on a hot dog from Austin Texas with peanut butter and bacon. My boss, winemaker Louis of Amalthea keeps telling me how good they are. I had never even imagined putting PB on a dog until he said something, and then I found this-

26 July 1962, San Antonio (TX)

Party foods to rain cheers at an all-boy gathering are these frankfurters. They are plump ‘n meaty hot dogs filled with peanut butter and bacon wrapped, broiled and then served in frankfurter buns.

8 frankfurters
1/3 cup peanut butter
8 bacon slices
8 frankfurter buns, sliced

Slit frankfurters, lengthwise. Spread about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter in each slit. Wrap a bacon slice diagonally around each frankfurter and fasten bacon with toothpicks. Broil, turn so bacon cooks on all sides. Remove toothpicks and serve in frankfurter buns.

If you are counting calories, then a Sonora Hotdog has approximately 550 calories with all the toppings on it, and 340 of it is the hot dog on the bun. Fat grams and and sodium are high, so make sure you swim 60 minutes of laps or water aerobics, and make that 'Vigorously'! I did, and thank goodness hubby ate one quarter, but then I had one of his grilled chicken and corn tortillas with salsa verde.

Interesting Bacon Facts-

Monday, August 9, 2010

Warning Steak Lovers

 ...because, if I am around and in the mood, then I might take down a cow! Or steal your steak when you are not looking.

Growing up in Texas (not always the cause) and eating lots of beef I cannot seem to stay away from craving it on occasion. My eating lifestyle has become more of a Flexitarian. We alternate meat, chicken, fish, and hubby has to eat pork at least once a month, no more. I have mentioned during the week we eat more vegetarian, but when in Rome...or should I say Arizona, Sierra Vista that is...try this place out.

Driving along the beautiful country side of Elgin, visiting some wineries of Arizona, we kept passing these signs...but what was up with the fences, which made us laugh...

Now the Ribeye I had...was the bomb! (Hubby had ribs) Oh how it was smokey charred on the grill, juicy, Perfection! and yes, I had butter and sour cream on my baked potato, and a side salad. I uploaded a calorie/exercise application on my phone (MyFitnessPal), so now I can watch what I eat, and see how my goal of trimming will take place by January!  We ate light meals and dinner by 5:30...senior meal time, but he has to be on the base by 6 AM.

If you are in this part of the world, and want a great steak, visit Daisy Mae; it used to be a brothel, so they should know their meat...oh nooo, I did not just say that, LOL!

STRONGHOLD- Daisy Mae's Stronghold building is one of the, if not the, oldest building in Southern Arizona. She started out as a trading post in the very early 1870's, then became a U.S. Post Office, then a general store before being a stop on the stagecoach line. In the late 1800's it became a brothel for the soldiers of Fort Huachuca. There are still bedrooms there and the infamous "Charlie's Room", also known as the ghost room. Charlie was a patron during the brothel days and was murdered in a knife fight over one of the ladies. His ghost has been present at the building ever since, as numerous sightings and incidents have taken place.

Daisy Mae's building has been a series of restaurants for the last 60 years or so with the most famous being the G&M Stronghold until Daisy Mae's came along in May of 1993.

Daisy Mae's has won several awards since the original Daisy Mae's was established in Tucson in September of 1990. For two consecutive years it was selected one of the top 25 steakhouses in America by the American Academy of Restaurants and Steakhouse of the Year by the "Consumer Business Review" in March 1998.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Molho de Piri-Piri Lamb Sausage

Before I say anything, I have to say how much I miss a fellow blogger we lost last week, Buffalodick- Opinions and Rectums We All Have Them...he passed away last Monday morning. I keep going over to his site to read his last post. When someone passes I believe their energy lingers for a while before they move on (my opinion). I keep expecting him to come over and say something clever, or respond to my emails as he often did. I learned a great deal from him. The biggest thing was that no matter how angry you might get at someone, just let it go, life is too short.

On my journey through foods in Spain I am still making a few Portuguese dishes. I believe their spicy influence such as this sauce/marinade, comes from Africa by way of Morocco and Canary Islands. We will be traveling to Portugal, Morocco, and South of France when we travel to Spain, so we are pretty excited about discovering all the foods they offer in restaurants as well as visiting a few family homes I have set up. We also will be doing some up close and personal winery tours. Tasting some of the finest in Portugal, such as the Douro Valley.

Molho de Piri Piri (traditional sauce or marinade that is offered throughout Portugal, often recipes and names vary) Lamb Sausage Patties- to make them a bit more Mediterranean and tone down the heat just serve some hummus and tabbouleh. Similar to a Merguez Tunisia sausage in flavor, and spice/heat, which is also popular in Portugal. (Chorizo tends to be milder in heat)- Piri Piri peppers are not commonly found in the US, so I substituted some dried chilies and added Piri Piri sauce I had on hand.

These are some dried chilies from my sister and her husband, who is Mexican born. The chilies are from their bush grown in a pot they keep inside in the winter, and outside in the summer. We pull them off the bush and eat them with meals at their house. My plan is to plant some and sell them to the locals from India, well it was a plan if I do not eat them all up. Tepin or sometimes called, Texas Chiltepin
  •  3 garlic cloves, minced (I used Wild Garlic in addition to regular cloves)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 to 8 fresh red chili peppers (I used some dried variety my sister and husband grow right outside their house on a bush-Bird Peppers he brought back from Mexico)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix the garlic, oregano and vinegar in a small bowl and let steep for 20 minutes.

Drop the peppers (including their seeds) and the garlic mixture into a food processor and pulse to chop. While the motor is running, pour in the oil, sprinkle with the salt, and whir until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and let steep in the fridge for at least several days, preferably 1 week.

Strain the mixture, if you wish, but I never do. The sauce will keep for about 1 month in the fridge. Shake well before using. (This mixture is also a quick version I learned for making Chorizo with a few extra re-hydrated chilies, and depending on how much crushed pepper you add; it can be very hot, these were!)

Piri Piri chilie sauce is as common to the table in Portugal, as our Tabasco sauce is to us. I experienced this sauce in a Portuguese restaurant up in Hoboken, NJ- Piri Piri. I was hooked!