5 things I Love right now

5 lovely things, in no particular order.

Local Pears & Blue Cheese

Pears & Blue Cheese

Our nice neighbor brought over some freshly picked pears from her tree (which we had been lusting after all summer) and I thought, should I make a tart or some maybe preserves? That didn’t happen, we slathered the juicy sun-blushed fruits with blue cheese and haven’t looked back. Cut a pear into wedges and serve alongside a chunk of blue cheese, serve with crackers or baguette if you so desire. This is a simple and easy cocktail hour nibble that is salty and sweet. I love fresh seasonal flavors and a ripe freshly picked pear is hard to beat.

 

Homemade Pepper Sauce

Homemade Pepper Sauce

The end of pepper season is here, make sure you put every last one to good use. Make my spicy Pepper Sauce and drizzle it over soups, chicken, eggs, pizza and just about everything else! Peppers past their prime are perfect for this sauce. Grab a clean 16 oz jar and fill it to the brim with peppers, leaving a few peppers whole and cutting a few lengthwise to place against the side of the jar for a pretty presentation. Add 3 cloves of cracked garlic. Bring 2 cups of white wine vinegar just to a boil and pour over the peppers. Let cool to room temperature before placing the lid, then refrigerate.

 

Wines from the Big Red Outlet

Big Red Outlet Store

This is THE place for really great wine deals. There is always something new to try and quality mid range wines are selling for less than $5 per bottle. This week I have enjoyed a tasty Viu Manent Malbec, typically costing around $15 for $3.99! I can’t wait to try the blend from Columbia Valley. The deals are deep and the cases sell out quickly. If you find something you like make sure and stock up.

 

Fennel

 City of Bloomington Animal Shelter

There are so many exciting things happening at the Animal Shelter right now! The 2012 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge is underway with a chance for the shelter to compete for more than $500,000 in grant funding, including the grand prize of $100,000. From August 1st thru October 31st the shelter is competing to find homes for more cats and dogs than during the previous year. Adoption specials run each day throughout the week from Muttly Mondays (all mixed breed dogs are $40) to Feline Fridays (all felines are free). We adopted a sweet baby kitten two weeks ago and her name is Fennel. I forgot what it is like to have a kitten in the house, she is wonderful!  If you can’t adopt right now, please consider donating to the cause, click here for more info.

 

Yummy Green Tea Kombucha Decaf

Yogi Green Tea Kombucha Decaf

Autumn is when I take a tea inventory and figure out what to purchase and what to toss out. My love for the magical probiotic properties of Kombucha made this decaf green tea a natural addition to my tea box. Mellow flavor with notes of passionfruit and plum I enjoy this tea served hot mostly in the afternoons with a little dollop of Hunter’s Farm Honey. Cheers!

Throw a Backyard Harvest Party

Checking out my article over lunch at Finch’s  (try the Goose the Market Tasso and Duck Fat Potato pizza at Finch’s, yum)

My article in the current issue of The Ryder was inspired by the abundance of local produce available. It is the most wonderful time of year to cook with local ingredients and the idea behind “Throw a Backyard Harvest Party” is to celebrate.  I threw a stylish party in my backyard that could be summed up as easily done. When ingredients are as delicious and fresh as they are right now not much prep is needed. Is there anything better than simple cooking and no fuss entertaining?

Please check out the magazine for the Harvest Party recipes. You will also find some tips that focus on entertaining, my style mixes high and low to create a memorable party.

Backyard Harvest Party Menu 

Blue Smoke Deviled eggs are inspired by my favorite BBQ joint in New York City, Blue Smoke. The eggs are creamy and full of flavor with a mustardy undertone.

What is a Harvest Party without a paying tribute to the most celebrated (in my house) summer fruit of all? Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta is so delicious with tomatoes, olive oil and basil over crusty grilled farm bread. You can’t beat it.

Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant is a simple dish of tiny eggplant grilled over hot coals, brushed with olive oil and finished with kosher salt.

Ball Jar Local Beer Chicken served with Local Lemongrass Honey is delicious and so easy to prepare. This recipe is a play on beer can chicken. Use a pint size ball jar filled with your favorite local ale in place of a beer can, I chose Bloomington Brewing Company Ruby Bloom Amber. Whip up an infused honey with local lemongrass and slather it on the crispy chicken.

Pick up a copy of The Ryder and check out the article in its entirety. The magazine is available at most local businesses and is free!