Thursday, March 06, 2008

As a Lover of Both Wine & Animals...

Earlier this week in my online travels, I discovered CritterWines. This is a compendium of labels with animals prominently displayed on various wine labels truly for sale.

The label shown to the right was a faux label that I designed several years ago depicting my contemporized grape bunch with Bacchus' name as the winery. This was one of the very first motifs beyond the CalligraphyPets line.

And now, I have a few ideas brewing... stay tuned on CreativeGoddess to learn how you can be a part of a new series.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Australia's First City Vineyard

Australia has created the first city central vineyard.

Watch the opening time-elapsed scenes -very cool.


This past week, Andrew and I have been celebrating some good news he received.

While we enjoyed our port in a pair of port sippers we found at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill last Fall, we also realized that port, if not dispensed properly, can be a four letter word.

In this case, we had it after white wine. egads!

Monday, February 11, 2008


These Crabcakes take a bit of prep (about 30-45 minutes +1 hour), but they're worth it.

1 16 ounce can/container of prepared crab (I generally use the Phillips Special which comes in a large black can)
1/2 medium Red bell pepper cut into very small pieces
1/2 medium Green bell pepper cut into very small pieces
1/2 medium Shallot - minced
1 tsp minced Garlic
3/4 cup canned Bread Crumbs (I like the Italian ones for a little extra flavor)
2 large Eggs

Combine the following in a medium mixing bowl and set aside
1/2 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
1/2 cup Miracle Whip (Light works very well)
1 Tbsp prepared Horseradish
1/2 tsp Lemon juice
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine the Peppers, Shallot and Garlic in a small sauce pan with a little Olive oil and cook until the ingredients are just soft. Remove from heat, put aside and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and crab and mix well (I find it is very easy to combine these ingredients with my hands - wearing latex gloves). Add in the cooked ingredients and mix further before adding the eggs and mixing until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Form the mixture into 3-4 inch wide by 3/4 - 1 inch thick patties (generally I get between 7 and 8 cakes out of this recipe). Place the cakes onto a flat plate or pan and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cooking.

Cook the cakes in a hot flat skillet with a little olive oil. Cook for about 4-6 minutes on a side turning at least 2 times. Depending on how much oil you use in your skillet, you may want to briefly drain the cakes on a paper towel before plating.

Serve the cakes with remoulade either on the side of the plate or on top of them.

We generally also have broccoli or Edamame with the crabcakes.

Wine Pairings:
Our favorite pairing with these is a really good Chardonnay such as Joseph Phelps or Kistler. If you don't want to pay that much a nice Sauvignon Blanc works well too.

Swordfish Kabobs

Another simple but delicious recipe to impress your friends.

Skewer Ingredients
1 - 1 1/2 pound Swordfish steak
3-4 Fresh Lemons
3-4 Fresh Limes
6-8 Cherry Tomatoes

1/2 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbls Lime Juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat Grill on high

Cut the Swordfish steak into 1 inch cubes
Cut the lemons and Limes into 1/4 inch slices
Skewer the "Skewer Ingredients" on flat stainless steel skewers starting starting with a tomato at the handle end and then alternating between fish and lemons/limes until you are 1 inch from the end of the skewer.
Place another tomato at the end of the skewer

Brush on the marinade with a basting brush, making sure to coat all sides, and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Place Skewers on grill about 2-3 inches apart
Using tongs turn the skewers about every 4-5 minutes and reapply marinade to the top side after each turn
NOTE - I usually try and turn the skewers only about 1/4 turn each time to evenly cook the fish

Once cooked, remove the ingredients form the skewers and discard the lemon and lime slices.

The fish should be flaky and tender with a distinct citrus undertone
Serve with a spinach salad or Edamame

Wine Pairing: A nice light white with a little bit of citrus. Not too sweet, such as:
- Blouberg from South Africa
- German Pinot Gris

Grilled Ahi Tuna on Mango Salsa

Grilled Ahi Tuna rolled with blackened sesame seeds on a bed of mango salsa.

This is actually a fairly simple recipe to prepare.

Seared Ahi Tuna

Individual sushi-grade Tuna steaks (1/3 - 1/2 pound each)

Dry Ingredients
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon Wasabi powder

Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder

Preheat a grill or grill pan on medium-high heat

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a shallow dish (shallow soup bowl, deep serving dish, etc)
Place the Tuna steaks on a separate plate and spray the top side with non-stick cooking spray.
Turn the steak sprayed side down into the dry ingredients and press to make sure the entire side gets thoroughly coated with sesame seeds and powders.
Place the steak back on the "spraying" plate - seeded side up and spray lightly to help adhere the dry ingredients
Turn the steak over onto a new/clean plate - seeded side down and spray the unseeded side the repeat turning this side down into the dry mixture and remove to a clean plate to spray/adhere the ingredients.

Place the tuna steaks on the grill and cook for between 3 and 5 minutes per side depending on the amount of doneness you prefer (note-3 minutes on a side will generally give you a cool raw center - sushi style)

Once the steaks are seared to your liking cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Serve over a generous bed of mild to medium heat Mango Salsa (we found the best stuff at Costco) and with dipping sauce on the side.

Wine Paring
We generally like a good solid red with this dish but not something as strong as what we would have with beef;
West Coast Pinot Noir
California Red Table Wines
Sometimes a milder Zinfandel (when we're in the right mood)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Private Label Swill Party

Just discovered a wine tasting party that can be personalized to fit your event!

Chez Hayden Swill Party anyone?

Unembraceable... Me!

Andrew is now free from his brace! Yee-haw!

It marks his 6 month anniversary and after a slew of x-rays, the doctor gave him the final word to shed his albino warrior gear. I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to see his brace removed permanently, alas, they removed it in radiology and the tech came back with the good news.

Andrew was initially apprehensive (I don't know why he played the doubting Thomas at this point), that corset would not be strapped on him by me regardless. ;)

However, when the doc came in for a consult, I made him stand next to Andrew and give him that official okie dokie handshake.

I guess we can call this surgery successful.

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Word

  1. What you call the person who sits in the passengers seat (or worse, the back seat) of the car with a map on their lap and complains every time you miss a turn that they forgot to tell you about ahead of time.
  2. The person who was responsible for reading you the directions to an event, but either forgets them, or doesn't read them properly, and then proceeds to complain that you are never going to get there.
  3. The person who was responsible for getting you hopelessly lost because they cannot read a map, even though they said they were an expert, and then spends the rest of your life retelling the tail of how you got the two of you hopelessly lost that one time.
  4. Your Mother in-law who claims she doesn't need a map and constantly barks directions over your shoulder, reminiscenses about the construction for the 10 miles.
  5. Your Mother-in-law who insists on directions and then fails to use them on your wedding day, leading the sheep unwittingly to an adult bookstore.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Can Drive Again!

We saw Dr. Suh again today and apparently I am healing well. He said everything looks good (and the x-ray tech thought I'd had surgery 3 months ago, not 5 weeks, because of how well I was moving around). The doctor showed us on the x-ray where the bone graft is starting to heal and it looks like a faint halo around the screws and rods. Anyway, since everything is looking so good I am good to start work part-time on January 2nd. I can also start driving any time I like (woo hoo!). Unfortunately, I still have to keep wearing the brace for the next 5 months or so (24/7) which kind of sucks!

So that's the update for now. I'll post a picture of the latest x-ray when we get it downloaded from the camera.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

2-week Check-in With Doctor

So we went to see Dr. Suh today for my two week follow-up. The first thing he said when he came into the exam room was "It looks like you about set the record for getting out of the hospital quickly." So apparently I am doing fairly well (OK, apparently really well), but since I have no frame of reference I am not sure what that means. When I mentioned to the Physical Therapist that I was up to walking a little more than a mile a day at about 2.5 mph on the tread mill, he kind of gave me one of those "well I guess there's not much more I can help you with on my end" looks. He made a couple of minor modifications to my exercise routine, but other than that told me to just keep doing what I'm doing.

They took X-rays and Dr. Suh explained what everything was that we were seeing. We could not get copies of the xrays, but I took this picture with my phone so I apologize for the quality. Essentially what you're looking at are the screws and rods that the doctor put in to decompress the offending vertebrae take the pressure off the bad disk in between. What you cannot see are the bone grafts that sit on the outside of the vertical rods (they're there, just faint and hard to see in the picture). The key to how long I have to wear the brace is how long it takes for the grafts to completely knit with the vertebrae.

Since my incision is no longer draining, I don't have to keep the dressings on, which is nice because they were causing pressure points inside my brace. Speaking of the brace, I think we finally found the best padding to use inside the back of it to get rid of those nasty pressure points. Last week I discovered a company near Ashville that makes two different kinds of padding materials (one a memory foam the other a gel foam)that help prevent bed and pressure sores in wheelchair patients. So I ordered a small (16X18 inch) piece of the gel foam and received it yesterday. When I ordered it, I had a brief discussion with the customer service rep and told her what I wanted it for. She was interested, and I guess took pity on my plight because when I received the padding yesterday the box had both kinds of pads (woo hoo!).

The gel foam if really great stuff, it essentially removes all of the pressure points and is actually quite comfortable, the only problem is it weighs a ton (the 16x18 pad probably weighs about 5 pounds). The memory foam is a lot lighter and not quite as good at eliminating all of the pressure points, but it weights almost nothing. This creates a bit of a dilemma, but as Lisa pointed out, both have their uses so I am wearing the memory foam during the day and the gel foam to sleep in.

I see the doctor again on December 20th, and am cleared to go back to work on Christmas day. SAS is closed the week between Christmas and New Years so I will not actually be back in the office until January 2nd and then only on a part-time basis for the first few weeks. In the mean time I will be seeing my SAS PT next Monday and probably on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for the next six months or so. I'll keep you posted on any other developments.