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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hot Cocoa

Ah.............. sitting by a fire, a good book, and a large mug of hot cocoa. I will admit that I have used those (gasp) instant packs of cocoa in a pinch. If I'm at work, and need something hot to drink, I'll sneak away to the microwave with one of the infamous little pouches. I don't call that drinking cocoa though. It's just flavored hot water in my opinion.

My oldest son was home from college the week of Thanksgiving and we had hot cocoa one night. I make it the old fashioned way. Whenever I make hot cocoa, it reminds me of my days living in Paris. On most cold winter mornings, I would get the perfect size pot, fresh whole milk, Droste cocoa (which I still purchase when I see it), and make some warming cocoa before starting the morning trek to the local metro station. Something about the click of the gas stove and making cocoa that "jogs" the memory. Funny isn't it how some things spark a memory.

Hot cocoa

1 measuring container using my favorite mug (or any mug)
1 or 2 tablespoons sugar per mug (I like my cocoa sweet)
1 tablespoon cocoa per mug (you can use dark cocoa for a change too)
1/4 tsp. vanilla added to the milk in the pot

put the cocoa and sugar in the coffee mug. Add just enough milk or water to stir the ingredients smooth. You will probably use 1 tablespoon of water. Heat the milk in a pot to scalding. Just before serving, stir in the vanilla flavoring. Please only use REAL vanilla. The imitation vanilla is not tasty. You certainly don't want it to come to a boil. Nothing grabs your attention faster than Mt. Everest rising out of the pot just before it bubbles over the edge of the pot onto the stove. Yes, that has happened to me numerous times.

Pour hot milk over the choco/sugar mixture in your mug, add marshmallows or marshmallow cream, stir and enjoy.

Whenever my oldest son is home, I still get out his Tasmanian devil character mug from the Old Bugs Bunny cartoons. He has had this mug since he was 7 or 8 years old.

I have also read about making a thick hot cocoa by adding a little bit of cornstarch with the chocolate/sugar mixture, but have yet found the perfect measurement. The first time I made it it was too thick. It's something to attempt if you desire.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Success out of failure

Spaghetti sauce is an easy thing to make. Well not always. I usually have everything for a delicious spaghetti sauce on hand:

2 pounds ground chuck (for a nice hearty sauce)
1 large vidallia onion, chopped fine
1 pound sliced button mushrooms
2 teaspoons oregano
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 large bay leaf
1 32 ounces tomato puree
6 diced Roma tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup black olives sliced (I like olives on pizza, so why not in spaghetti sauce?)
1/8 cup green olives sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup of dry, red wine

In a large frying pan, saute diced onions in olive oil until translucent. Add ground chuck and brown until tender. I usually then drain the meat to get rid of some of the fat. Put meat and onions in a large pot. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I like to vary the pasta shapes that I use. On this particular day, I used the long hollow Greek pasta that is traditionally used for a Greek dish called pastisio.

I've made hundreds of pots of spaghetti, beef Burgundy, stews, etc... that call for wine. I've never had a problem opening the wine until I decided to use a new bottle opener that I had purchased. Instead of retelling the story, I'm just going to share my fb header and the comments that followed. I have a terrific sense of humor and the more I tried to get the cork out of the bottle, the more I laughed. I deleted the names as they know who they are and I won't forget that they share my zany sense of humor.

Lisa Poulos Williams has a fancy schmancy cork screw! It's awesome.... Guess who did SOMETHING wrong and has a perfectly good cork STUCK in the middle of the long neck wine bottle! What to do? What to do? %$^&&% ( my spaghetti sauce may NOT have wine in it...HECK NO! I'm determined to get it.! hahahaha). Final outcome later....

02 November at 18:58 · ·
LOL. Push it down into the bottle with a butter knife! Works for me when my corkscrew fails. Good luck!

Cork saga continues: Cork in bottle. While trying to pour it, cork lodged back in the neck and wine wouldn't pour. I shook the bottle, cork moved, and about half the bottle went into the sauce. **Bleth sauthe *hic** I've everth mathe...*** hic***

HA ha! That's really funny, Lisa!!

you make me laugh

cook it longer, reduce the alcohol. low heat

Reduce the alcohol"!! Are you kidding?? That was the best flippin' sauce I've ever made!hahaha

I am cracking up that Your Son tells you to do the reduction and you're protesting. Very funny.

oh life's trials and tribulations!!!

i laughed

How many Greeks does it take to open a bottle of wine??? hahaha!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jones Soda

Where do I begin? Being a native of Atlanta, I think that the only soft drink we had in the house was Coca-Cola. Coke, Coke, Coke and more Coke. We were such good eaters as children, that we could have coke with our dinner. I have never liked the taste of milk, never drank it when I finished my cereal, and can remember drinking very few glasses of it (...and that was at a friend's house who's mom had put it out with the dinner. I gulped it down and asked for a glass of water so that I could enjoy my meal). Anyway, I'm not sure when it started, but Jones Soda caught my eye in the store. Was it the humorous packaging, the funny names, or the outrageous flavor combinations?

I started purchasing the Jones Soda for a weekend treat for my sons when they were younger. Never knowing how something would taste or look. It always has the great carbonation though that tickles the taste buds. Flavors like Bubble Gum, Strawberry Lemonade, Popcorn (yes, popcorn), and many other combinations have adorned our refrigerator. My brothers have always had a terrific sense of humor and I have always enjoyed giving them funny gifts. My oldest brother, who was a coach, would receive funny neckties to wear at school. My other brother has been the recipient of Jones Soda for Christmas. His wife has been given a few cookbooks over the years as she enjoys cooking, so in a way he benefits too. First year, I gave him some Green Apple Jones Soda. The next year, I received the same soda wrapped in their Christmas wrapping paper. A tradition was soon started as the same soda went back and forth from house to house at Christmas. In 2005, Jones Soda came up with the brilliant "Holiday Pack" which has the following holiday flavors:

Turkey and Gravy
Wild Herb Stuffing
Brussels Sprout
and last but not least, pumpkin pie

I'm sure that the pumpkin pie and cranberry flavored drinks would actually be quite refreshing and delicious. I'd be curious about the other flavors though. This pack managed to find it's way to my brother's house one Christmas. The flavors can only mellow over the years for my great grandchildren to enjoy one day like the finest wines of the world (A bottle of Chateau Lafite 1787 sold for $160,000 at Christies in London). If many years down the road, you see Jones Soda being sold at Christies, you will probably see one of my sons in the audience. The tradition of Jones soda on many weekends and holidays will continue at our house. This Halloween it was Blood Orange Soda. It was actually good.

So next time you are out shopping, be on the lookout for Jones Soda. The children will think they are fun and the adults get the biggest kick out of the humor and flavor combinations. Let me know what flavor you try and what you think of it.


Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar