Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Stroll Through a Spring Garden

What a lovely break it was from this snowy and cold Midwest winter.   It was like we had been transported back in time - back in time when we visited Paris last spring.   

We found it a bit of a coincidence that the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden exhibit was brought to our town’s museum almost one year after our visit to Paris and the Louvre.   


Once private gardens for French royalty, the Tuileries is now open for the public's enjoyment and serves as a grand, red carpet-style entrance to the Musée du Louvre.  The garden is a museum in itself with very old sculptures as well as contemporary art.

The local exhibit is a fine display of sculptures, paintings, tapestries and drawings - which gave us a sense of strolling through Paris’ most famous garden.


As fleeting as it was, it was a wonderful visit - just long enough to escape the cold, get a glimpse of green, and be reminded of the beauty and warmer days of spring to come.

Have a wonderful week!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Recipe for Cozy

Tonight’s forecast:  3 to 5 more inches of snow and bitterly cold temperatures……………sigh. 

At this point, the greener days of spring seem nowhere in sight.  Oh, it will be here eventually, but we have a long, long way to go.
Don’t despair!  Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean your house has to be.  Here is my recipe for a warm and cozy home – for any season. 


Candles, lots of candles - If you are leery about using real candles, the flameless versions are a great option without the worry.

A dash of Greenery - I may have mentioned this before…..touches of green whether real or faux can fill that void between the holiday season and spring.
1 handful of Plates – dish up a little cozy by stacking, hanging or just placing a pretty plate in your design.

A few cups of Literary - nothing reads better than books in your décor.  Use them to add height or color to your vignettes.

2 Bundles of Fresh flowers – always brighten any room’s (or girl’s) mood.


A dollop of Black - whether it's wrought iron or a distressed antique, any color of room will benefit from black accents.


1 - 2 Furry Friends – need I say more? 

Have a great week and stay warm!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, Cupcake

Have I mentioned that I don’t bake much?  It’s not that I don’t want to.  It’s just that I don’t think I’m very good at it. 

Strawberry cupcakes for Valentine's Day
First of all, I can’t even touch flour without completely wearing it.  And then there’s the whole follow the recipe exactly part which is probably most of my problem.  I love to cook; however, cooking is much different than baking.  One can substitute this or that and modify dishes according to taste. 

But baking is another story.   I suppose there is some room for modification in baking, but we’ll leave that to the Marthas and Julias of the world.

Ready for frosting

Last week, my co-worker Debbie made a delicious strawberry cake for our office potluck.  When she shared the recipe with me, my first reaction was, “You mean I have to make it from scratch?”   Debbie assured me that it is very easy to make.  Here's the recipe

A very sweet little treat

Donning my apron with wooden spoon in hand, I decided to go bold.  I would not only bake this treat, but I would convert the recipe into cupcakes!  I consulted my local baker friend who told me to simply adjust the time.  Start with 15 minutes.  If the cakes bounce back when you touch the middles, they are done.  If they are soft, add another 5. 

Wouldn’t you know - they turned out pretty darn good.  And all I had to do was follow the recipe.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Monday, February 3, 2014

The Many "Ways" to Eat Chili

During our office chili cook off last Friday, there was a bit of a disagreement among my fellow co-workers regarding what is and what is not considered chili.  While placing our votes for our favorite, someone made a comment about one of the entries, “It’s good, but it’s not chili.”   Upon further discussion there were more comments that chili is only chili if it has a tomato base and ground beef.

Homemade Cincinnati-style Chili
Is this really true?   What about those who substitute turkey for the ground beef?  What about white chicken chili?  How about vegetarian chili?  Or chili made with bison, veal or venison?  I have to believe that what you deem is real chili has a lot to do with where you grew up.  Chili made in San Antonio is probably going to be very different from chili made in Detroit.  And Cincinnati chili is going to be a lot different from chili, say from Chile.

The bridge we used to drive over to get downtown
Nevertheless, chili is in the eye of the beholder.  I was fortunate to spend a good chunk of time living in Northern Kentucky, a short drive across the bridge to downtown Cincinnati.  It was in Cincinnati where I developed a taste and these life-long cravings for the region’s very unique style of chili.  Cincinnati chili, brought to the city by Greek immigrants, is known for its myriad of spices – cinnamon, cloves, allspice and chocolate.  Yes, cocoa powder.  It’s usually served over spaghetti, or you can take the Cheese Coney route which is topped with finely grated cheddar cheese, mustard and a bit of onion. 
All of these spices are what give Cincinnati chili is unique taste
In Cincy, chili parlors are abundant - Skyline, Empress, Gold Star and Dixie are just a handful of chains to choose from.  There are also many “ways” to eat your chili.  Ordering your chili is as easy as one, two, three...

……or four

……or five

Bowl: chili in a bowl
Two-way: chili and spaghetti
Three-way: chili, spaghetti, and cheese
Four-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions
Five-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans

I’ll take a Three-way, please. 

Simmering chili
Although I no longer live near Cincy, nor do I live near any Cincinnati chili parlors, I will always hold the city’s chili close to my heart.  Now, there are canned versions in local supermarkets, but I think we can do better.   You can check out the recipe from Food.com http://www.food.com/recipe/skylike-chili-skyline-chili-copycat-110548

By the way, I heard a co-worker mention that we should do other types of office cook offs in the future - like a mac and cheese cook off.  But aren’t the ingredients in mac and cheese just macaroni and cheese? I guess it depends where you’re from. 
Have a wonderful week!