I really enjoy being a contributor to Boca Style Magazine and citylifestyle.com. Here’s an article I wrote for their October 2020 issue. I hope it inspires you to still find the joy in Fall and Halloween, during the pandemic.
These are anxious times already, and to be sending our kids off to college during a pandemic, certainly doesn’t help us feel any calmer. I’m taking my youngest daughter back to college next week and we’ve committed ourselves to just focusing on all of the positives. I’m a true believer in expect and hope for the best, but also be prepared for everything. When we’re prepared, it helps even tough situations go a little more smoothly.
I’ve sent 3 daughters off to college and I still don’t have it perfected, but I’ve developed a helpful checklist along the way, that I’d love to share. (My boy parent friends will have a much shorter list and a good giggle.)
Girls can certainly get away with much less than this and some may even think of more…but it will help you not have to start from scratch. I hope it’s helpful!
Big prayers for a healthy, safe, educational, fun and resilient college year to all of the kids, faculty and parents traveling near and far. What important lessons and life skills this year will be!
Boca Style is a beautiful magazine and I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute to their July Issue! Don Schnurr-Publisher and Marti Schnurr-Editor, are right on point with their idea for this article to help inspire us to stay hopeful and positive until the world opens up to us again. Books are the perfect way to help us have adventures and travels without ever leaving our home. In my article, I recommend 3 books that I hope will inspire you in many unexpected ways to grow you and your life more beautiful! Thank you Don, Marti and Boca Style for this fun opportunity.
Grab a sneak peek of the magazine piece below. Articles can be found later this month at Citylifestyle.com and a complete copy of the monthly magazine at Lifestylepubs.com.
I feel there are many gifts wrapped up for us during Quarantine, if we can just take a deep breath and choose to open them. One of them is un-rushed time in the kitchen with family. I’ve got all 3 of my daughters back at home during quarantine, so we thought it would be fun to broaden our cooking skills and master some new techniques. We’ve been looking for recipes that challenge our usual run-of-the-mill meals and also make for a fun and festive evening. It’s been giving us a little something fun to look forward to on these quarantined weekend nights. It’s also proving to give us some special, positive memories during such a crazy and negative time.
Last week was homemade traditional pasta, this week we took on “gnocchi”. (nyow·kee, ˈnȯ-kē, ˈnyȯ-, ˈnä) Gnocchi is also known as potato dumplings or “pillows of love”. Just like pasta, gnocchi’s texture is so much better if it’s homemade. I’m allergic to wheat, so I challenge myself to make gluten free recipes where my family can’t taste the difference. I think we have all decided over the years that many of the gluten free flours even have more flavor and a better texture for certain recipes. The recipe I’m leaving for you can be made with all purpose white flour or gluten free flour. (See link in recipe)
We had a lot of fun making the recipe and also trying to figure out the correct pronunciation. Ask five different people how to say it and you’ll get five different pronunciations. Regardless, it’s hard to say without getting the giggles. However, if you make your own, you don’t have worry that you’re not pronouncing it correctly to the waiter, and you can “speak gnocchi” however you want 😉 Enjoy!
1 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese (more for topping when serving)
In a large stock pot boil potatoes with their skins on. The skins will protect the potatoes from getting water logged and mushy. Don’t over fill the pot with water just enough to cover the potatoes. Depending on the size of the potatoes, it should be “about” 15-20 minutes of boiling. You want them to just be fork tender, no more, no less. Cooking them too long will make the potatoes too mushy to grate/rice.
Drain all of the water well. Remove potatoes. Allow them to cool for just a bit in a colander.
Peel the boiled potatoes. At this point it’s easily done by hand.
Now rice the potatoes. If you have a potato ricer use that. If not you can just use a grater. That’s what we did and it worked well.
Mound the grated potatoes on the middle of a large cutting board or on a very clean, dry countertop. Top with flour. Sprinkle with salt.
Using your hands, make a well by scooping out the center of your mound.
Drop the eggs into the center of the well. Whisk the egg with a fork.
Very gradually start pulling in the flour to the potato and egg mixture with the fork. Then begin to use your hands to really combine ingredients to form the dough. Make it a slow purposeful roll so you combine it but not over work the dough as you knead. Don’t be tempted to keep adding flour at this point or it will give you dough that’s hard to work with and in turn, hard gnocchi. Eventually shape the dough into into large rectangular shape.
Then cut the rectangle into into 8-10 pieces of dough, about 4 inches long.
Roll each piece into a long rope by gently pushing softly with your fingers spread. Try to make an evenly sized ropes.
Using a sharp, non- serrated knife (a pastry cutter is quicker if you have one!) cut dough ropes into pieces. We cut into 1-inch pieces. You can play with various shapes and sizes but make the whole batch as uniform as possible so it cooks evenly.
To prevent sticking try to cook the gnocchi as soon as its made or at least keep it in a cool area. Be sure to toss them with a little extra flour while they’re waiting to be cooked.
To cook, drop them gently into a large boiling pot of salted boiling water. If you have a hand strainer, that works great to drop them in without getting burned or smashing their shape. Cook gnocchi until they start floating. They shouldn’t take more than about 2-5 minutes so taste test after 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the water with a hand strainer or slotted spoon.
At this point there are lots of sauces and ways to prepare it. We immediately dropped them into a greased baking dish that had a layer of marinara sauce already down. (We preheated the sauce) After all the gnocchi was in the baking dish, we lightly tossed them with the sauce and with a cup of grated fresh parmesan cheese. We saved a little sauce for the top & topped that with fresh sliced mozzarella and fresh basil leaves-Then baked it off quickly until the cheese was melted and sauce was bubbling. About 10 minutes at 350.
We watched a few tutorial videos online and found that very helpful. It’s pretty straightforward and easier than we thought it would be!
There is a tumultuous storm named Coronavirus (Covid-19) pounding and drenching the world right now. It’s frightening for many reasons but for most of us, the sky is NOT falling. Many weren’t fortunate to have warning. Their tragedy began striking before they knew what was even happening.
We’re hearing a lot of screaming around us. The Chicken Little crowd is loud and wants to always force us to see only doom and gloom. However, if we’re wisely adhering to precautions, it can be just a very dark storm and the sun will shine again soon.
I don’t want to discount the big disappointments for all of us. There will be financial repercussions for most. There are many beautiful plans being cancelled left and right. It seems every day we’re forced to give up something a bit more from our “normal” life as we know it.
Things are very weird and chaotic and yes, it feels scary and unsure. Let’s feel our feelings and validate them. Let’s validate other people’s feelings about it too.
These feelings associated with this pandemic have been piled on top of what we were already facing.
This will challenge our character.
Our flexibility, creativity, and resilience are being dared by the minute.
Whenever life knocks me down, I try to get back up as soon as possible. Standing up quickly makes me feel powerful and in control, regardless of the situation. Part of getting up is quickly looking for positive perspective.
We’re all feeling the same way. How often is the whole world on the same team? How often do we all wake up with same problem to solve? We’ve all been sucker punched by Coronavirus. But if we don’t have it, let’s stand back up as quickly as we can. Let’s not let Coronavirus make us feel like we’re sick patients if we’re not. Let’s punch back at it and see how many beautiful and healthy things it actually may bring.
There isn’t a lot we can control in life. We can only control our perspective and they way we receive the things that happen to us. We gain a sense of control when we build ourselves to have a beautiful perspective. We do have control of the beauty happening inside our minds and hearts.
If we’re following safety protocol, we will have more time on our hands than we’ve had in a long time. I don’t want this virus to make us act sick if we’re not. Let’s find the beauty and all of the silver linings right in front of us. Let’s create them. Let’s be brave and brilliant, not bored. Let’s use this unusual time to pray, meditate, value and thank. Let’s exercise, rest, sleep and rejuvenate. Let’s dream, imagine, think, solve and create. Let’s read, learn, strategize and plan. Let’s love, be present, listen, connect and help. Let’s cook and sing! Let’s build. Let’s evolve and excel. Let’s make beautiful contributions to ourselves and others.
My only gig as a wine sommelier is in my own kitchen haha, but living in Oregon Wine Country, I’ve gotten a chance to get pretty decent at it! When I create a great pairing, even a simple one like this, I love to share it! Great food and wine pairings are one of life’s simple pleasures and should get to be enjoyed by many. You know it’s special, when a combination of food and wine just hit the palate with that yummmmm factor! It’s like a beautiful symphony of the most perfect notes dancing in your mouth!
I’ll set the stage that possibly added to making it seem so good. It was cold and rainy all day and last night. A fire, candles and comfort food were definitely in order. I decided to make a cozy zucchini, lemon risotto for dinner. I’ll share that recipe too, very soon! Since risotto takes patience and we were hungry, we decided we should have a little snack to enjoy during the slow cooking process. I needed to tend to the risotto so whatever I was going to whip up for a little delicious nibble needed to be fast and easy. I decided on popcorn but also wanted it to be a little special like the dinner we were waiting on. I remembered I had a block of delicious truffle cheese so the minute the popcorn came out, I began shaving the cheese all over it! I thought it deserved a velvety red wine that would be great with the risotto too. This is super simple but it tasted so special, that I want to share it. It’s a perfect pairing for a cozy night in!
Perfect Pairing-Truffle Cheese Popcorn and Tamarack Cellars Red
Popcorn with fresh shredded truffle cheese and Tamarack Wine Cellars “Firehouse Red” 2015 wine.
Prep Time:3 minutes
Cook Time:3 minutes, 30 secs.
Total Time:6 minutes
Cuisine:Food and Wine
Microwave Popcorn ( I love Costco because it’s not too buttery but just enough!)
A bar of Melkbus Truffle Cheese ( I get it at Whole Foods- any kind of truffle cheese will be great)
Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red wine, Columbia Valley 2015
So easy- Spread the popcorn out on a long tray so all pieces get a nice coating of cheese! Shred the fresh truffle cheese generously on the popcorn while it’s hot. Watch the cheese melt as you pour the wine. Relax and enjoy every delicious bite and sip!
The truffle cheese is a warm combination of garlic, creamy, earthy, nutty flavors that meet so well with popcorn and this red blend from Walla Walla Washington (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc +) that also has earthy flavors, but of fruit, herbs and spice tones. It’s like when 3 new friends meet and just all hit it off! Even if you can’t find this exact pairing, I hope it inspires you to try a fun combination of popcorn, cheese and wine that you have access to. It’s funny how something so simple can be so special! Not everything needs to be fussy to be great!