Monday, May 25, 2009

Catch Up

Hola, y'all!

Whirlwinds here at el Rancho Hooker. When last we spoke, we had just returned from the deliriously lovely Napa. The very next day, we were visited upon by my stepdaughter and her mom (yes, you read that right) for six days. Not for nothing, but if that doesn't smack of either some scary reality show or a sitcom, nothing does.

So the Brit and I have been laying low this long weekend, keeping peaceful in our finally reclaimed household, catching a breath and bracing now for the week ahead at work. But it is still a day off, and we are making the most of it.

On our touristing about the isle of Manhattan last weekend, I took the photo above of a stall in the Union Square Market that sells gorgeous yarns, so soft and luscious you want to wrap your damn nekkid body in them. Oh yeah! I just feel bad because in that selfsame stall they sell the slaughtered lambies, too. Yuck. And no, I did not buy any wool or meat.

I'd mentioned once upon a time ago that I'd finished the felicity hat from ravelry, and I'm sure that none of you believed me, but here it is in all its ribbed glory:

Now, the pattern doesn't call for the ribbing, but I truly look like ass with a flat thing on my big head, so the garter ribbing makes this a tad more flattering. Not that I'd post a photo of me in the hat, of course, except maybe from the rear.

And there is progress on the Shipwreck Shawl, in all its beautiful frustration. And it truly isn't the pattern's fault. I have this horrible tendency to end the day sticking or hooking while literally nodding off on the couch. Funny how that's not considered a best practice for successful needlework.

I won't go into detail on the numbers of times I've screwed this up. But I will tell you that keeping markers on the needles delineating the pattern repeats has saved me from having to do much in the way of serious frogging. Seriously.

On to food.

As usual, I'm cooking up a storm. This weekend, despite the steamy weather, I made a huge pot of this chili from one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks. It is the very best chili in the world. Trust me. From one of the very best food blogs in the world. Again, trust me. Even you carnivores will get seduced by Heidi's recipes. They are amazing.

And since we had the little pomme frite here last weekend, we overloaded on bananas. So I had to make a couple of loaves of banana bread this weekend. I used this Weightwatcher recipe as a base, but pimped it with dried cranberries, cardamom, and walnuts. Holy crap, it's good.

And because the frigging vat of chili, 2 banana breads, and a loaf of rye bread wasn't enough, I made some granola yesterday. I used a Martha Stewart recipe as a base for proportions, but again pimped it with the addition of pepitas, sesame seeds, crushed almonds, dried mango, and dried cranberries.

Can I get an AMEN!But the photo I took of the finished concoction looked like vomit, so I'm just posting this arty shot of the ingredients.

Okay, c'est tout for now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back from Dreamworld

Hello Loves! Just flew in from Napa, and boy, are my arms tired!

Thanks, I'm here all week!

Ah, Napa. Sweet, sweet land of wine and olive oil. Palm trees and pine trees. Heat and chill. Food and fun. How we love you... So, yes, yet another trip to Napa. It was hubsy's birthday weekend, and every restaurant seemed to have a candle for him. We stayed again at the Napa River Inn, that lovely haunted place. They kindly greeted us with a bottle of wine for our return visit. We went to Taylor's Automatic Refresher for lunch and Angele's for dinner. Apres Angele's, we went to Silo's for some amazing old dixieland jazz, played by guys (and a girl), who were just fantastic! We visited Far Niente on Saturday for a fabulous tour and tasting with Walt. Breathing the gorgeous air in the barrel fermentation room - heady aromas that I wish I could re-experience at will. Their grounds are spectacular, by the way, and the staff could not be nicer. And Dolce! OHMIGOD, the Dolce! We tasted a '99 vintage that was gold and honey and flowers and everything nice. Sweet, yes, but cloying? Never! That afternoon we went to Frog's Leap. While I really like their wines, I have to say the tour disappointed a bit. Kinda snarky mixed with Valley Girl. Maybe you have to be in the mood.

And if you are in Napa, please go to Ubuntu for their intensely creative vegetarian fare. Vegetarian, yes, and oh so indulgent.

Sunday brought us back to Duckhorn. Tom gave us a VIP tour and tasting that was an absolute joy. Doesn't hurt that their wines are fantastic, that the property is gorgeous, that the people are really nice and knowledgeable. I love this place!
Sunday night's dinner was at Celadon, which, like Angele's, is on the Napa River Inn property. And again, the food was awesome.

Crap, I'm fawning now. How embarassing.

Did I hook? Did I stick?

I sticked, mostly. Hooks were in the bag, but I pretty much sticked on the plane. We were on the go quite a bit, with less time in the room than normal, so the trip was about enjoying what we could about Napa. All that said, I made a bit of progress on the Shipwreck Shawl, undoing the massive screw ups of yore and slowly moving forward. We'll see how it all looks, won't we, when a few more rows have been created...

Till later!