Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chef Rich-ard and his Gumbo

Chef Boy-ar-dee move over...Rick is making Chicken-and-Sausage Gumbo for dinner tonight! Gumbo is one of the crowning glories of southern cuisine. This flavorful stew is named for the West African word for okra, "gombo". It can feature any number of ingredients, most commonly shrimp, crab, chicken, and sausage. All gumbos start with a roux, the browning of fat and flour, followed by what Louisianans call the "holy trinity" -- bell pepper, onion, and celery. After that the ingredients are left up to the discretion of the cook and what ingredients are on hand. Rick spent two summers working on tug boats out of Slidell, Louisiana and learned in the galley kitchens on board how to make a "real" roux. He always adds okra, tomatoes, bay leaves, and garlic...but an equal amount of chefs do not...right Sandi? Another possible thickening ingredient is file' you didn't know it was crushed sassafras leaves?
I'm under Doctor's orders not to get my hands wet so this was a real treat for me...I feel better already! Now, who gets to do the dishes?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Is it over yet?

The traveling, the shopping, the decorating, the wrapping, the's over and now the days can sloooww down! We are looking forward to spending all day at the Rivah Cottage with the kids. Christy and Doug are starting a new tradition by ordering oysters from Duxbury for an afternoon of shucking and Patriot football. To add to the "tailgate" I brought my 'favourite' Onion Chutney from London for a traditional pub Ploughman's Platter. Haley is in charge of our special cocktail with pomegranate and spice. The Prime Rib Roast goes in at 3:00 - and I turn off the oven at 4:00 - hope this works! (No Gumbo this year, boyfriend Tommy is joining us and he is strictly a meat and potatoes kind of guy!) I have the Mahjongg game primed in case there is a lull but I think Train Dominoes may be the game of choice this year...Thanks Sandi! Through out the day I will think of all our family and friends around the world. We have certainly enjoyed a year of abundant blessings. I hope each of you are surrounded by laughter and hugs .....Happy Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tree Hugger

You may remember this in the news last February...... Auburn Tree Huggers: Fans & Friends of Toomer's Corner AU to test for spread of herbicide Auburn University will begin drilling test wells today around the Toomer’s Corner oaks to monitor the possible spread of herbicide in the surrounding soil and groundwater. Yes, the trees were poisoned by some wacko who actually bragged about it on Talk Radio! And the University has done everything possible to try to save the trees on Toomer's Corner but sadly, this is what the magnificent trees looked like last week when we were visiting the "loveliest village on the plain". I was impressed with some of the T-shirts on sale to help the cause.
And I thought it might be fun to replay last year's Christmas card photo in front of the trees after a "major celebration".... Cause this is how we roll in Auburn!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Add a bow !

Start with a basic evergreen wreath or a container of budding bulbs...the fun is adding the extras! In this case dried oranges, bundles of cinnamon sticks and dried apple slices or even dried lavender.
I can always get good ideas from the flower shop around the corner....'wild at heart'
Looks like all you will need to do is add a pretty bow!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mistletoe in London

Nothing says "festive" like a Christmas street fair to kick off the holiday season! This one was Sunday afternoon on Elizabeth Street, just a couple of blocks from our flat near Victoria Station. The highlights of the day were Santa (so engaged!),Three Wise (Wo)Men with their camels,and the Elf and Fairy Princess Christmas Tree on stilts...interesting combination but the children loved them all!
There were also stalls filled with special gifts...sweets, knitted treats, baby Uggs, and the most popular of all, the mistletoe stall. I asked the fellow if he shot it out of the trees and he looked at me as if I were CRAZY. (I am used to that look by the way!) "You must be from Texas, we are not allowed to carry guns in this country", he says, "We have to climb up into the tree and cut it down." AND I will add, that is why he was selling it for £20 a branch! It's a lot easier to just shoot it out of the top of a tree, and NO, I'm not from Texas!
The best part for me is always the Hot mulled wine and listening to the choirs sing all my favorite Christmas carols...especially the children's choirs.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bittersweet...a thanksgiving treat!

There is just something about a simple sprig of the bittersweet vine that says, "It's November in New England and give thanks!"..... before the mad rush of Black Friday and boxes of Christmas decorations get hauled out of the basement!
I just happened to find my own stash of the woody vine full of reddish berries and clusters of yellow buds and Mr Turner told me to "help myself". The biggest hazard with Bittersweet is that it usually wraps itself around other vines...other vines with sharp stickers...ouch!
I think it makes a beautiful, natural decoration around Thanksgiving....even if it does poke everyone in the eye when they come in through the front door.
The Christmas wreath and twinkle lights go up today..... and Auburn plays Alabama tomorrow.....Bittersweet!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Desert Spirit

Last week I was in the Coachella Valley....Palm Springs,California. The contrast of the snow capped mountains and the flat desert valley enhanced with an oasis of tall palm trees and wall to wall golf courses, not to mention days of glorious sunshine, provides a life style like no other! This magnificent life-size bronze statue of horses running across a stream caught my attention. The design is called Desert Spirit by the sculpture David Spellerberg. It is located near the front entry gates of the Saddle Club at Griffin Ranch......a Country Club and world class Equestrian Center conceived by the late entertainer Merv Griffin. Take a closer look.... I think it is just beautiful in the setting!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ready or Not!

Christmas is coming, the lights are up in Sloane Square, and the windows are dressed in Peter Jones. What's on your wish list?
Perhaps orange custard pastries and a glass of eggnog -topped up!- at The Orange?
The inaugural Motcomb Street Christmas lights switch-on takes place on Thursday, Dec 1 and celebrations continue on Sunday with the annual Belgravia Christmas Sunday event on Elizabeth Street. The Three Wise Men will be there with their camels......stay tuned!

The days are shorter!

But Green Park never looked more beautiful on a rainy November day! That bench is just calling my name.

Red Poppies

On November 11 this year, it will be 93 years since the Armistice of the First World War....."the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month". Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in this country to remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty since World War 1.
The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields". These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red color an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war. On my walk this morning I saw them everywhere......
Oh, Oh! And almost got hit taking pictures! I do love this tradition!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Waddesdon Manor and Wine Tasting!

I am off on another AWC trip to a treasured National Trust "Home", Waddesdon Manor, built by Baron Ferdninand de Rothschild. This Renaissance style chateau was built to display his collection of art treasures and to entertain the fashionable world back in the day when an invitation for a weekend hunting trip outside the city of London was just what the Royals looked forward to. We arrived early in the morning and the sun was just peeking over the elaborate roof line so I took a few close-ups as we waited for our private guided tour of the house.
Since the 19th century, the Rothschild name has been synonymous with riches, banking, lavish houses and exquisite art collections. Equally important, however is the family's long association with the finest wines in the world. So how could we resist a wine tasting in the private wine cellars containing over fifteen thousand bottles of the finest Rothschild wines in the world.
It is rare that we are able to bring home a gift for our husbands (who are working while we play!) but I thought Rick might enjoy two of the wines we tasted. For future reference: Blason d'Aussieres 2008 - A.C. Corbieres in the South of France...a blend of 4 grapes - Spice from the Syrah or Shiraz *wine tip* Known as Shiraz in Australia and South Africa and as Syrah in California and France Amancaya 2009 - Mendoza, Argentina ...less tannin more alcohol - Malbec/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend *wine tip* A wine with a high alcohol content works best with fatty foods such as Duck.
Cheers Love!