Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Biltmore

The largest house in America, the Biltmore was wonderful! We spent a whole day on the property , starting at the winery and then ending back at the winery. The tour through the house was excellent, if you go do get the audio tour,it was very well done and gave us an insight into life with the Vanderbilts. We want to come back and stay on the property. There is so much land to explore, different tours and I can not wait to see the gardens in bloom. We had a great lunch at the Stable Restaurant . I had a triple grilled cheese sandwich with pesto in between each layer, while my daughter had a delicious pizza. Her pizza was on flat bread with white cheeses, pesto, tomatoes and of course Basil.

We waited to see the lights turned on....magnificent! I cannot wait to come back.

The last day we journeyed into Asheville. What a great town. We had a great day shopping, eating and exploring. Our Thanksgiving Excursion to the Mountain Cabin was a great success!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


With content hearts and tummys, we headed back up the mountain to our hideaway retreat. A major concern with having our Thanksgiving meal out was the absence of leftovers. It was decided that each family would bring a contribution from home for our "leftovers". My Son-In -Law brought a wonderful smoked turkey from a favorite BBQ spot in Georgia, while my Son brought a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. I did not ask what that contribution was left over from. I provided the appetizers. We settled in for a long wonderful afternoon of football watching, game playing, dog loving, and hot tubing. My Daughter-In-Law's contribution of the game "Apples to Apples" was a tremendous hit. I must say it was one of the most relaxed post Thanksgiving meal days I have had in a very long time.

By far the best appetizer of the day was the light version of the Spinach-Artichoke Dip, that I had found in the Food Network Magazine. Much to my delight it had a whole cup of fresh Basil included in the recipe. We made sweet potatoes chips to use as the dippers and promptly consumed the whole dish! As we watched the sun set over the mountains, I felt a tremendous wave of gratitude for Family, Love, Good Food and yes even all the dogs accompanying us on this journey. Thank you for such a blessed life.

Hot Artichoke-Spinach Dip

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
25 min
12 servings


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 10-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 or 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • Baked chips, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Stir the spinach and basil into the boiling water and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge in the ice water. Drain and squeeze dry, then roughly chop.

Puree the beans, cream cheese, garlic and chicken broth in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in the spinach and basil, artichokes, parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Add the cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste.

Mist a deep 1-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread the dip mixture in the dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with baked chips.

Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 100; Fat 5 g (Saturated 3 g); Cholesterol 19 mg; Sodium 338 mg; Carbohydrate 7 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 6 g

Photograph by Karl Juengel/Studio

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Grove Park Inn Thanksgiving Buffet

Rather than cook on the mountain, we drove into Asheville and had the luxury of attending a Thanksgiving Buffet at a very special spot! The Grove Park Inn is absolutely incredible, from it's wonderful location high on a mountain overlooking Asheville to its amazing gardens and stone facade. I love historic hotels, they provide a glimpse into the "people side" of our great history.

The Buffet had amazing food, and so festively presented. I hope you will look through the Video, if it makes you hungry, try the recipe below. I am not sure it is the same but it tasted similar. This Cheese Log was voted the favorite by the Ladies, the Guys were mixed on a fav but all agreed the Corn Pudding was to die for (I had it for my dessert!)

If you go during this time, please allow time for what looked like a time honored tradition, hanging out in the lobby. This lobby is not any lobby, from it's massive hearth and rugged stone walls, it begs you to linger. We had a Bloody Mary and joined the festivities watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, it was a wonderful mix of young and old, all thankful to be sitting in this great place with family and friends.

Pecan and Cranberry Cheese Log

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 cup)

4 ounces blue cheese (1/2 cup)

2 ounces crumbled feta cheese, optional (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries (about 1 3/8 ounces)

About 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans

By hand or in a food processor, thoroughly combine cream cheese, blue cheese and feta, if using. Mix in cranberries by hand. Spoon cheese mixture onto plastic wrap; using the plastic wrap, form into a log about 8-inches long. Refrigerate until firm, then wrap in foil and freeze.

To serve: Unwrap from foil and defrost slightly in the refrigerator. Roll the log in the pecans and place on serving platter. Allow about 30 minutes for the cheese to warm to spreadable consistency before serving with crackers or crostini.

Wine pairing: Cream cheese mellows the salty, pungent bite of blue cheese. Add dried cranberries and Merlot becomes a logical pairing partner.

Makes 1 cheese log (about 8 inches by 2 1/2 inches)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I just returned home from a wonderful four days with all my Family. We celebrated Thanksgiving in a cabin way way up on a mountain top in North Carolina. I thought I would have lots of time to blog, but of course no Internet! So now I will be back pedaling and telling you all about Thanksgiving at Grove Park Inn and the Biltmore and high on a mountain top in Weaverville NC. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving...I am looking forward to sharing our adventure with you all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sage : A Thanksgiving Tradition( after the fact)

I have been cooking for our Thanksgiving Excursion and every recipe I find has sage in it! I love that all my sages are still going strong in the garden. I really enjoy all the contrasts of the different varieties of the sages. The larger oval leaves of the Berggarten Sage accent the hues of the Purple Sage, while the Tri-color Sage reflects the autumn sun with it's hints of gold and yellow. Wow would it not be wonderful if I still had sage for Christmas Cooking!

I tried this great new bread. I first saw the recipe in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Since I am writing this after the fact, I will tell you all my family loved this bread. I made it in one loaf pan, it was dense but very moist and tasty. Definitely worth a try!

Pumpkin Sage and Browned Butter Quick Bread

6 ounces( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more
for the pans
1/4 cup fresh sage, cut into thin strips, plus more
for garnish
1 2/3 cups all -purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 cup solid pumpkin( from 1-15 ounce can)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour your pans.( The original recipe uses 8 mini pans, I used one loaf pan) melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the Sage strips, and cook until the butter turns golden brown. 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon,nutmeg, cloves,and salt. Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and browned butter with sage. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until incorporated. Put mixture into pans. Smooth tops with spatula.

Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Invert pan to remove bread, transfer to a wire rack, top side up, and let cool completely( bread can be stored, wrapped, at room temp overnight or refrigerated for up to 5 days) Garnish with whole sage leaves before serving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November or May????

Is it really November 22nd?? I have never had Flower Boxes still in bloom in November.

I hope this does not mean we will have fall weather in June. In the meantime, it has been a great week to get the Christmas Lights out!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sanibel Island Shell Island USA

Sanibel Island truly is the Island of my dreams... We have spent the last four days enjoying the natural beauty. It is hard to believe the amount of shells on the beach, the birds are everywhere and no fast food!!! You all must come.......

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If you are ever on Captiva Island...

If you are ever on Captiva/Sanibel...
This could go on and on and on and on. It truly is the island of my dreams! I have had the luxury of staying at my sister's island retreat, Amarelo Sol for the past few days. It is here that my 90+ Mom and two of my sisters and I have hung out here and had a grand time!!

Captiva is like no other place in Florida, it is more Caribbean than Floridian. We have been coming here at least three times a year for the past 30 years. This is where I hope to hang my hat during my golden years!

So one thing you must do if you come here is go to the Green Flash Restaurant for lunch. You must sit out on the veranda- the view across the bay is amazing, the birds are great entertainment, and the waitress is super!!!

Have the Sanibel Salad, it has smoked salmon, artichokes,asparagus,olives, great greens and much more. But the kicker is the homemade Herb Dressing, it is wonderful!

All this week I will continue with Sanibel/Captiva.

Someday, I will get back to the Greece Trip Pic's!!!!

These are pictures from the Veranda at the Green Flash. Soak in the sunshine and enjoy the Snowy Egret, a.k.a. our waitress. She made a "heck of a waitress"- tips were cheap just a little left over salmon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The Ginkgo Trees were just unbelievable this year, their leaves were golden rays of sunshine. In fact maybe just maybe I can forgive all my female Ginkgo's for the "Poopy Stinky" fruits that litter my front side walk. So if you come to visit me this fall, please remove your shoes before entering the front door.

I found an amazing article about the History, Lore and Facts of Ginkgo Trees in a recent edition of "Martha Stewart Living" It gave me a new appreciation for the beautiful golden trees that grace my front yard.

The limbs are full of the fruit, I hope this is not a sign that this winter is going to be long and cold!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gathering Walnuts...GREAT RECIPE

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Walnuts and Feta Cheese


  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat fusilli or other spiral shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta, rinse it under cold water, and put it in the refrigerator to chill.

In a dry saute pan toast the walnuts over a medium-high flame until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Set the walnuts aside to cool then chop them coarsely.

In a large bowl, toss together the chilled pasta, walnuts, feta cheese, onion, and spinach. In a small bowl whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Last weekend we had our annual "Gathering of the Walnuts Day." It was a crisp clear Fall day, we loaded up buckets in the Rhino and with 3 dogs in tow we headed out to the old barn.

Every year we have done this fun task, but I do not think we have ever used a one!! That is very sad, if anyone has suggestions please let me know.

Last year we collected buckets full, Randy put them in the barn and the squirrels promptly stole them all!!

My husband believes that we need to put the on the driveway and run over them, breaking the outer shell and then we can harvest the meat.

Would you eat walnut meat that had been run over and over by cars and trucks????


Anyway, above is one of my favorite
walnut recipes.

Recipe from Ellie Krieger 2006

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I spent last weekend surrounded by my wonderful friends, where we would we be without our dear friends?

It was a hard time as one of our group experienced a great loss, a truly unreal event. We all agreed to have faith and carry on. We love you Greg, may you rest in peace...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall Color

What a colorful Fall we are having.

Magnificent color has been painted on plants that have never lit up before. It has been breath taking!
Thank you Mother Nature.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Halloween Fun

Last Friday was a great start to the weekend and Halloween! We had a very special feast at my Son's In-Laws home. I feel very fortunate because I call both my daughter and my son's In-Laws, my Friends-in Laws.

Marian put on such a festive dinner. We helped create and enjoyed such an eerie assortment of appetizers, from Eye Ball Salad, Skeleton Vegetables, to Candy Corn Pizza's, it all was great fun and delicious.

I have included the Recipe for the Vegetable Skeleton and the Eye Ball Salad, but the pictures, as they say, are worth a thousand words!!

Thanks for a Howlarious Evening!!

Eyeball Salad
(makes 12 servings)

12 basil leaves
3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
12 small rounds of fresh mozzarella, cut in half
24 small green olives with pimientos, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

On a large platter, place basil leaves. Top each basil leaf with a slice of tomato, 2 rounds of cheese and 2 olive pieces. Sprinkle zest over platter. Drizzle each salad with Lemon juice and olive oil. Serve cold.

Skeleton Vegetable Tray
Cauliflower florets, Green bell peppers, Zucchini slices, Squash slices, Red bell peppers,Sugar snap peas, Slivered almonds, Pitted kalamata olives

To make a skeleton, use cauliflower florets to shape the head and hips. Use green pepper strips to make arms and legs. Alternate squash and zucchinis slices to make a spine. Use red bell pepper to make ribs. For feet and hands, use the pieces of green bell peppers with tiny strips of red bell peppers for fingers. Cut slits in sugar snap peas, and fill with almonds for the mouth. Cut olives in slices for eyes. Cut 1 olive in half lengthwise for nose.

The recipe calls for a great Ranch Dip, however I would substitute one of my all time favorite veggie dips :

Salad Burnet Dip

1 Package Cream Cheese
4TBLS Burnett Leaves, chopped fine
2TBLS Garlic Chives, chopped fine
Chopped Lettuce
1tsp salt and pepper
Bind with 1/4 C sour cream or mayo

Mix all together and chill for 24 hours.

The above recipes were taken from "Celebrate Halloween" by Phyllis Hoffman

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carving Pumpkins

Sometimes bringing back fun from an earlier time is exceptionally special!!

Every Halloween we would carve pumpkins and roast the seeds, I love it when we have the chance to enjoy this activity again.

Can life get much better ?


We spend a long time digging out the goopy mess inside the pumpkins and picking out the seeds(Beware, in our household this action can result in a pumpkin guts food fight!).

We then clean off the separated seeds and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet.( I use olive oil) I then liberally sprinkle the seeds with good sea salt and pepper. Then roast the seeds until they are crispy.

I usually have the oven temp around 400 degrees. Keep a good eye on them (Kalee is great at this job) and turn them over and over, while sprinkling more salt on to taste.

Now that the kids are older, we sit down with a cold glass of pumpkin ale or a nice glass of wine and enjoy not only the fruits of our labor but each other's company as well.

Reliving this memory just keeps getting better and better!

Monday, October 26, 2009


October gave a party:

The leaves by hundreds came-
Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

George Cooper "October's Party"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Basil...Throughout Greece

This Country is just so amazing....I loved the contrasts between the land, the sky and the sea!

There are so many wonderful memories.... but while we still have just a bit of Basil left here in Kentucky, I thought I would share my collection of Basil Pictures from Greece.

It did seem that the small leaf Basil was the most popular!! I love the Spicy Globe Version of this Basil.It is easy to use,no cutting, just pick the small leaves off and use. It also makes a beautiful display in the garden. I love the BIG BALL this herb grows into as it matures.

It seems fitting for Basil Becky to take pictures of Basil where she roams!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Fun and the Last of the Basil.....

Wow this weekend was wonderful!! My daughter and her husband came to visit. Even though this meant 5 dogs, it was well worth it. This is my Basil Daughter( refer to an earlier blog)so since we were expecting the first frost (and we got it!),we decided to use the last surviving Basil we still had in the garden.

Friday night we fixed a feast, I have included one of our favorite recipes from the night. Saturday we went up to Indiana University. My husband and I both graduated from IU and our daughter went there one year, before bailing out to SMU. More importantly my Father was involved with Indiana University for over 25 years. Both Mom and Dad love IU, so we felt our Daughter's Husband needed to see this reverend place. We wanted to take pic's at the tree that had been planted in my Father's honor but truth be known, my Husband's fraternity had a dedication of a new wing, and he was anxious to reconnect. Actually, this suited me just fine because I got to meet up with a very special friend from college. We ended up at a wonderful restaurant. If you are ever in Bloomington this is a must visit. The Chef is the son of one of my Mom's good Friends, he was in Manhattan for a number of years and returned to his roots. Midwesterner's should be so grateful!! He uses all local slow food, it is creative and wonderful. Please check it out :


There is nothing better than Family, Good Friends and Good Food!!

Cheese Ravioli with Red Pepper Dip

olive oil cooking spray
24 whole wheat wonton wrappers
1/2 cup soft goat cheese ( we added fresh basil chopped)
1/4 cup low-fat Parmesan cheese
1 cup roasted red peppers(from water packed jar) chopped
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
2 TBSP Fresh Basil
Sea Salt and Fresh ground pepper, to taste

#1 Preheat oven to 400 Degrees
Coat a large baking sheet with Olive Oil cooking spray

#2 Arrange wonton wrappers on a flat surface. Spoon a small amount of the Goat Cheese on to
each wonton. Using a wet finger, wet edges of the wonton. Fold wonton over, making a triangle, and press edges together to seal.

#3Transfer wontons to prepared baking sheet and spray surfaces with cooking spray. Sprinkle parmesan chees over top. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the wontons are a golden brown and toasted.

#4 Make Red Pepper Dip: In blender , combineroasted red peppers and sour cream. Puree until smooth. Transfer dip to a bowl and fold in Basil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the dip on the side for dunking.

* Recipe from Robin Miller

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rachel's Bamboo!

To me , the best thing about gardening is sharing plants. I was raised in a family that did not let anyone leave a visit without sending something home with them, so my garden has helped me continue that tradition. I always have something to share, either cut flowers, starts of plants or fresh fruits. My Dad's great sister Rachel shared this Bamboo with me when I moved to Kentucky. When ever I look at it I remember her house in Columbus. Thank you Rachel, it is beautiful this year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 2

Poseidon was so great but we are ready to sail!! We met up with Father John , dinner and then we are sailing!!!

Day 2 Posidon Temple and Boarding the Clipper Ship

The sanctuary of Poseidon at Sounion is one of the most important sanctuaries in Attica. Sporadic finds point to the conclusion that the site was inhabited in the prehistoric period but there is no evidence of religious practice in such an early date. "Sounion Hiron" (sanctuary of Sounion) is first mentioned in the Odyssey, as the place where Menelaos stopped during his return from Troy to bury his helmsman, Phrontes Onetorides. The finds of the 7th century B.C. are numerous and proove the existence of organized cult on two points of the promontory: at the southern edge where the temenos of Poseidon was situated, and about 500 m. to the NE of it, where the sanctuary of Athena was established.
Day 2
We woke up early ready to go. After a good breakfast and a wonderful long walk around the city, we journeyed on to the Temple of Poseidon. It was a long ride in the bus and we all fought to stay awake, but it was so worth it!! After a great visit we returned to the port and boarded the Clipper Ship we were to call home for the next 7 days!!

I will post some extra pic's from today on the next post!!

Athens Day 1

We arrived early in the morning Greek Time!! It was so exciting to be in Athens. I was immediately struck by the bareness of the land, I guess I was not expecting that landscape. However, our hotel was within walking distance to the Acropolis and the center of town. We spent the rest of the day walking around and soaking in the history and lore.

That night we ate with our group at a small bistro in the Market District. At the table next to us a group of young Greek Men were celebrating. As the evening wore on they began to dance and celebrate and pulled us into the celebration. A few Ouzos later we were all dancing and having a blast! Our group was very diverse, but we all united to celebrate the wonder of a Greek Night!

It was a wonderful way to start our trip!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pineapple Sage Coolers!

I am so glad that we have not yet had a frost, I have Basil to harvest, flowers to dry, but most of all it has allowed my Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) to come to it's full beauty.

In Kentucky Pineapple Sage is a tender perennial. I have had it live through the winter but that is a rare occurrence. This year it is particularly wonderful. I love its bright red spike bloom that reach up to the Autumn sky,it is as if it is begging f0r summer to hang on just a little longer.

Tomorrow afternoon a group of my favorite garden friends are coming over for a garden harvest happy hour. We all bring wonderful Herby appetizers and drinks. I will share recipes!!

I am going to make the following Pineapple Sage Cooler. It can be jazzed up with a spirit or just enjoyed without!!

Pineapple Sage Cooler

2 1/2 c. water 2( 12 oz) cans chilled apricot nectar
3 Tbsp. Fresh Pineapple Sage leaves 1 1/3 c. orange juice
6 Tbsp. sugar 1 (12 oz) bottle ginger ale

**I have added vodka, or spirit you enjoy. It is great, but equally as good with no spirits. For this event I will offer both.

Heat water to boiling. Remove from heat; add pineapple age. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain; stir in sugar until dissolved. Refrigerate till serving time. Pour into punch bowl and add apricot nectar, orange juice and ginger ale and what ever.

Enjoy! It is wonderful.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tribute To A Faithful Friend

INDIANA 1987 TO 2009
Before we left on our Greece trip, I debated and debated about my precious friend Indiana
His health had been rapidly fading and he was losing control of his hind legs, yet every morning he would jump off our daughter's bed, follow me down the steps and loudly complain until I brought him his Fancy Feast. Using the litter box was no problem and he manage a winding staircase day in and day out, so I decided he was fine for now.
Much to my delight when we returned home early last Sunday morning, we were greeted by a familiar rough but loud meow. He purred and purred when he saw me and I carried him up to catch some sleep. All the next day he wanted to hang by my side, he sat with the dogs and gave the evil Indy stare towards any of the other cats daring to get near his Fancy Feast.
About 4:00am, I awoke from a dream that had directed me to go see Indiana. I found him near death but still purring. I wrapped him up in a warm towel and held him close. He continued to purr and hold on to me till the last breathe of his 22 years on earth.
I know Indy is now with all my other Pet Friends that have blessed my life. He had waited for me to return so he could properly say good-bye. We will miss the old boy but know he is content and out of pain!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back Home

The Star Clipper was our home for 7 glorious days sailing the Greek Isles! I have so many great stories and pictures to share, but first I have to get the Basil in from the garden! We might have our first frost on Friday. In every port I found Basil growing...so I felt right at home. I look forward to blogging about my adventure!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin