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Friday, April 29, 2011


Wednesday, my town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama was devastated by an EF5 tornado. There is tremendous loss of life and property.  Our emergency responders were part of those affected most by this storm.  We have lost our Salvation Army center (thankfully, they have sent mobile units), our Emergency Operations Center, and two water treatment facilities.

We need help.

I am calling on all my followers as well as my fellow bloggers to spread the word about how people can help.

  • The American Red Cross has opened dozens of emergency shelters for families affected by the severe storms. You can donate online or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. To quickly contribute10, you can text "REDCROSS" to 90999.
  • Samaritan's Purse is sending teams of volunteers to hard-hit areas in Alabama to offer assistance. Supporters can donate online to help the organization provide aid.
  • The Salvation Army has deployed mobile feeding units to tornado-affected communities to provide meals to people in need. You can designate your online donation go to "April 2011 Tornado Outbreak" relief. Funds can also be given over the phone by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or texting "GIVE" to 80888 (for a10 donation).
  • Governor of Alabama Robert Bentley's office is accepting donations for church and community relief efforts in the wake of the massive storms. Supporters can contribute by credit card or check.

  • United Way West Alabama is taking online donations and has information for victims regarding immediate shelter and food/clothing assistance as well as low income housing options for those who have lost their home.

The Tuscaloosa Community is in need of everything.  Clothing, household goods (pots, pans, sheets, towels, dishes, pillows, furniture...the list is endless.)  Please donate.  Encourage everyone you know to donate.  Encourage people you don't know to donate.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gotta Love Leeks

Do you have one of those ingredients that never fail you? For me, it is leeks.  A lot of people in the U.S. don't use, or even know what a leek is, and I think that is a crying shame.  Leeks are a member of the allium family (like garlic and onions) and are incredibly good for you.  Packed with flavor and nutrients, they can be used in soups, roasted in the oven, sauteed...the possibilities are endless!

In the market, look for leeks that are like green onions on steriods.  Crisp, with no dried out or limp tops.

But, a word of caution on the preparation.  Leeks are dirty, dirty veggies.  So wash them carefully by slicing and soaking in a bowl of water, making sure to separate the layers of the leek.  So, now that you have met one of our principle players in today's meal, let's get dressed.

It has been very warm and sunny here, so shorts are in order (finally!)  Since I have a soccer game to attend this evening, I went for a casual look with a pair of BKE jean shorts (no, these are NOT your mom's jean shorts!)

Add a lovely sheer tunic...(Just make sure the length of the tunic is not too long for the shorts. We don't want to look as if we have nothing on underneath!)

And a pair of snakeskin wedges, and you are good to go!

Since my outfit is quite simple I thought some accessories are in order.

There is something so lovely about the emphasis of a woman's slender wrist when she wears a cuff that I adore...

And, I have had these snake earrings since high school.  I get so many compliments on them, and I do love that they have a bit of daring to them.

Dressed and ready to cook, my lovelies? Let's head to the kitchen!

With the warm weather, I was in the mood for a light and healthy soup, so I turned to my good friend, Martha.  Martha Stewart, that is.

Martha Stewart's Provencal Vegetable Soup:

2 T. olive oil
4 leeks, sliced and cleaned (see above)
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 cans cannelini, drained and rinsed (okay, I cheated here, she recommends cooking fresh...)
6 cups chicken stock
1 large bunch kale
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 1 large bunch fresh thyme, and 2 sprigs rosemary tied in a cheese cloth)
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper-I used white pepper)

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add leeks and onions and saute gently, until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and carrots, saute for 5 minutes more.  Add garlic.  Add chicken stock and bouquet garni, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add cannelini and kale, simmer for 10 minutes more.  Remove bouquet garni (remember to squeeze all that flavor out before throwing away!) Season with salt and pepper.

Uncork a bottle of lovely Vouvrey, add a few fresh baguettes, with European unsalted butter, and you are set! Better yet, throw a tablecloth over your patio table and eat outside-Provence style!

Cheers, my lovelies!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring is here! Less clothing, lighter food...

Don't you just love the warmer temperatures? I find myself making excuses just to wander outside and bask in the warmth.  And, to make sure I'm getting the appropriate amount of vitamin D, I am exposing a bit more skin while I'm out there!

A lovely white, empire waisted dress (yes, I forced the season a bit and wore white-so sue me) with a great pair of peep toe, striped wedges and I was out the door!

The best part about the beginning of spring is that feeling of a warm breeze on skin long covered in winter layers, don't you think? In the mindset of light and airy, I headed to the market for seasonal food that made me feel like a spring breeze from the inside out.

On the menu, Mediterranean Shrimp Salad and a fresh Strawberry Pie.  

Arugula and lemons are in season now, and I love to capitalize on the bright fresh flavors of the current crops.

Mediterranean Shrimp Salad:

The vinaigrette:

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, and set aside.

The salad:

1 lb. large, fresh caught shrimp (I don't care for the flavor of farmed-blech)
      I have these steamed at the market, but you can boil them with 2 bay leaves if you like.
4 c. orzo pasta (cooked)
1 c. arugula
1 zucchini, halved and sliced very thinly
1 c. (or more) kalamata olives
1/2 c. sweet onion, sliced vertically
3 T. fresh basil, chopped
1 T. fresh oregano, chopped

Combine in a very large bowl, toss with vinaigrette.  Now get yourself outside and enjoy the weather! Oh, and grab a glass of chardonnay on your way out...

Strawberries, strawberries, strawberries! The luscious, ripe, redness of them just rock my socks.  It was time to take those succulent little darlings and turn them into a fitting spring tribute.

Fresh Strawberry Pie:

The crust: (From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
    To prebake, bake in a 475 degree oven for 10 minutes.

    The Filling: (From Cooking Light)
    2 c. hulled, ripe strawberries
    1/2 c. water
    2/3 c. sugar
    2 T. cornstarch
    1 T. fresh lemon juice
    6 c. hulled, ripe strawberries
    1 c. heavy whipping cream
    1/4 c. sugar

    Mash 2 c. strawberries in a small bowl with a potato masher. Combine mashed strawberries and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes.
    Press strawberry mixture through a sieve, into a bowl.  Discard pulp.  Reserve strawberry liquid. Add enough water to measure 1 cup.
    Combine 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan; add strawberry liquid, stirring well with a whisk.  Bring to a boil, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
    Add a layer of strawberries to crust, stem sides down. Spoon 1/2 sauce over.  Add remaining strawberries to crust and spoon over remaining sauce.  Chill pie at least 3 hours.
    Whip the cream in a stand mixer on high while adding the sugar in a steady stream.  Beat until stiff peaks form.

    So tasty! Enjoy the fruits of your labor, my lovelies.  Go outside, bare your shoulders, your toes, and anything else you feel like!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Long Time, No Blog!

Okay, my lovelies, I owe everyone a great big apology! It has been far too long since I have posted, and I have missed it greatly.  Suffice to say, travel, change of season, and general life events conspired against my energy and creativity in posting blogs, but, baby, I'm BACK!

So, where to begin...Oh, yes! My fabulous trip to Portland, Oregon about a month ago!  It was foodie heaven.  If you ever have the chance to go-well, go!  I had the chance to visit a few of my favorite haunts.  Kenny and Zukes has the most amazing pastrami on rye ever along with a Hungarian mushroom soup to die for.  The best Italian food outside of Italy with the most charming, flirtatious owner (I mean, to be kissed, serenaded, and called bella-be still my beating heart!) is at Piazza Italia.  I had an osso bucco that melted in my mouth, and a chianti to rock my world! Of course, we had to make our way to Voodoo Doughnut for a voodoo dozen (assorted-they choose) and a maple bacon bar.  For those of you thinking, "Bacon? On a doughnut?!" I am here to tell you that it is a decadent, savory, sweet, smokey piece of heaven.  And I don't even like doughnuts.  Seriously, I don't.  But, these aren't doughnuts.  They are some kinda crack laced goodness.  Guess they are right- the magic is in the hole.  (Oh, and yes I did get a pair of the underwear with that slogan.  I just couldn't resist!)  For an amazingly fab brunch, we stopped by Meriwether's and indulged (yet once again) in waffles with fried chicken, applewood smoked bacon, and grilled apples.  Thank goodness Portland has lots of hills! Otherwise, my daily run wouldn't have cancelled out the extreme food. Lastly, but not least, we had a tasty lunch of manila clams sauteed in garlic and feta at Papa Haydn.  Such a tasty trip!

Now lest you think I was simply eating my way through Portland (well, actually I kinda did.) I have to share some of my favorite fashion haunts while I was there.  First, a stroll down 23rd was in order where I stopped in for Amai Unmei where they were having a sale on coats.  Did you know I adore a great trench?  So, I snagged this lovely purple short trench.

Image courtesy of Amai Unmei

Aren't the big buttons adorable?  And, purple does lovely things for gingers.

Next, I made my way to a couple of vintage stores that are fabulous.  Buffalo Exchange is not unique to Portland, but there isn't one in my neck of the woods.  Then, over to the Alberta Arts district to Billy Goat Vintage Clothing.  One of the most fun vintage stores ever!  Loads of cocktail dresses from the 50's and 60's.  Just trying them one made me feel like Joan or Betty. best part about Billy Goat? They have an etsy store, so even if you're not able to pop up to Portland, you can still shop with them!

And, then, my lovelies, I went to my land of milk and honey, or in this case, silk and lace.  Jane's Vanity is truly a luxurious experience.  Emily was an expert in her recommendations for me.  The selections were so lovely, I don't think I turned any away!  There is something so decadent about fine European lingerie.  It goes beyond the simple function of lifting and supporting and transforms the wearer into a more sensual version of herself.  One that can imagine a Bridget Bardot moment with her partner-hair tousled, eyes smokey, and clothes thrown carelessly off.

I came home with five sexy sets.  A demure pale lavender Nina Ricci, perfect for the lighter spring clothes.  A stunning royal blue Eres set that looks amazing against my pale skin and red hair.  A smokin' navy and black demi set that makes me feel all femme fatale.  And a favorite sheer red lace that is so freakin' hot I might have to call the fire department each time I wear it.  The knickers are pictured below: (just picture them in red!)

I mean how can you not love a flirty bow and a keyhole? Tres magnifique! Emily assured me that they will have an online store soon, so keep your eyes open for it!

So, lovelies, we are caught up on my Portland adventures.  Visit the sites, go to Portland if you can, and stay fashionable.  I will have my own food adventures posted again very soon!