Clubbin’ it….

Book Club that is…. I have the pleasure and great fortune to admit that I belong to a book club. Not any book club mind you but an amazing, enjoyable, fun filled, great eats, laughter filled book club. We are a group of women that started this fabulous book group back in the 2000’s… and yes, we are still going strong today in 2016. We’ve lost a few women along the way due to different reasons, but we’re proud to say we have 10 of the original 15 members still with us.  It’s rather impressive when you think about it. The women that stuck with this group are all wonderful friends  that enjoy books and food. So much so that the actual name of our group is the “Read ’em and Eat Book Group”  We all look forward to meeting once a month and not only talking about a great book but also eat great food, drink wine (yes!) and of course other drinks as well, get off track a bit, catch up on life, eat more, drink more and just have fun. It’s always a great time and something I look forward to each month.

Some of our books create the best conversations- Things you would never talk about otherwise and a lot can be learned by our discussions….and that’s the beauty of it. You learn something different each month about everyone….and how they think about different topics and sometimes life in general. On any given book club night I learn something new about someone in book group- I love that!

This month we read the book “The Girls of Atomic City- The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II” by Denise Kiernan. It was a story about a “secret city” that was built in the Tennessee mountains and recruited thousands of civilians to work for the war effort. Many of those that worked there were women- everyone was kept in the dark on what exactly they were doing there until the end of the war…and no one was allowed to discuss anything about their days at work or what their tasks were. Our discussion was mainly about this main fact- how on earth would that work in todays world?? With social media and just the way people think and work and do things now, it seems unbelievable that this could have taken place. Made for great conversation and here’s a link to the book if you’re interested in reading or finding out more. It was a book that most of us enjoyed, even though it was a harder one to get thru in some parts.

The women in my book group are all wonderful and it’s a pleasure to get together with them. We always have a lot of fun together and food is a big part of our group. We try to have some sort of theme related to the book and this month our host Kris suggested that we make something that we would surely miss had we lived in war times and didn’t have the choices we have today. I decided to make something sweet because I’m all about sugar…but then changed my mind at the last minute to a really good salad that sounded good on Pinterest….ah Pinterest….the go to place for EVERYTHING….but that’s another post. Anyway, I made this fabulous Barbecued Chicken Salad from the website Damn Delicious that was a huge hit. I thought I’d include the recipe if any of you would like to make it. It was super easy and the assortment of ingredients were pretty amazing…everything tasted fabulous together. I used a rotisserie chicken to make it even easier.  Enjoy!

I will post more about the happenings on book club each month. And I’ll post next time about a great wine I had this past week. Until then….Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally Spring!!!

 

 

I can’t even describe the weather of this past weekend here in southern Wisconsin. My goodness….mid 70’s, low humidity, sun, light breezes….just a perfect combination after a very long winter here. I will try not to complain about our past winter because we got off easy in the way of snow accumulation….but it was just so long and took forever….makes a person kind of crabby….and I try hard not to be crabby.  So this beautiful weather made me glad to be a Wisconsinite!!!!  I’m hoping that winter is now behind us for good…I even went out and bought some flowers and got my hands dirty by potting them and put the deck umbrella up and everything. So all signs of spring!

Next weekend I hope to get out in my flower beds and clean those up. I love the idea of Spring and new beginnings. Everything is brand new and it’s so fun to see what made it thru the winter and what’s going to be peeping out of the ground. It’s just a beautiful season of fresh growth and new beginnings. Kind of like going thru different seasons in life. A time to start over if you choose. Here’s to Spring!

And because this is supposed to be a blog about wine, here’s a link to a special vineyard.  Edna Valley wines are some of my favorites. It might sound like I’m always saying that but I have yet to have a bad wine from them. I have never visited this vineyard but it’s on my list! Next time I go to California I’m going to visit and try everything they have. Ok, that’s probably not true but I will participate in a tasting and have fun and buy some of their wine… Until then, I’ll tell you about the ones I’ve already had.

In the summer I drink their Sauvignon Blanc- so fruity and fresh. Tastes like grapefruit and also a bit like how grass smells…if that can be a taste. Anyway, out on my deck with a glass of that and I’m just happy and content. Just lovely and it’s easy to find here so that’s a bonus. This past weekend my gorgeous firstborn daughter came home to spend some time with me….so that was a treat. We ended up buying a bottle of Edna Valley’s Cab. I would like to say that I had a glass…but I didn’t….I had a taste- that’s it, but that’s all I needed to know that I’d buy this one again as well. Can you guess who drank the rest of the bottle? (I think she liked it)

I’ve also had their Merlot in the dead of winter….think cocoa and cherries with a hint of anise. They have great info on the website so take a read and then buy your own bottle to try. Great prices. 14.00-16.00 range-

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Spring in Wisconsin?

We’ve had some very interesting weather so far this April….Woke up to snow showers several times this month and it’s starting to feel like Spring is not coming anytime soon. I’ve refused to get my winter coat back out but it’s been downright chilly….the perfect weather for opening a bottle of red.

The one I decided on this past weekend comes from California again. It made it home in my suitcase from my trip to Texas, via my youngest daughter Hannah. Hannah lives in Northern California in the heart of wine country…Sonoma County. On top of that, her boyfriend Eric works at one of my favorite wineries out there…. St Francis Winery as a food and wine pairings Sous Chef. St Francis is a lovely place…there are so many vineyards in northern California and I have been to a small fraction of them while visiting Hannah…but this one is special (and not just because Eric works there) If you are ever in Sonoma County visiting, you should definitely go and visit. When you make that visit, be sure and sign up to experience a food and wine pairing event. It’s a great way to eat some fabulous dishes and taste amazing wines that compliment them. I’ve done it twice now and both experiences were super fun and I learned a lot about their wines. St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals- which is pretty cool, because I love animals….. Here’s a picture of me while visiting the winery last October. They have a very large statue of St Francis there that makes for great photos and I took advantage of that. The grounds are gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. Their wines are some of my favorites and they have lovely tasting rooms and also some beautiful outside spaces to sit and relax and enjoy a glass of wine. The scenery is breathtaking…So if you get a chance, you should visit….You will not be disappointed! 20151017_170403-1

The wine that Hannah sent home with me was the 2013 Anthem Meritage. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. And it was spectacular!!  It was very full bodied and tasted  berrylike…but also had a spicy, almost peppery hint along with vanilla. Just lovely….

Here’s a thought before signing off tonite- found this so true! Happy Spring! Whenever it decides to show.

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Texas has wine….

Last week we took a little trip to see two lovely young people get married…Laura and Eric- Eric is my nephew by marriage and Laura is from my hometown here in WI, but her parents are friends of ours and to make it even more interesting… from England!….this was a very fun wedding, with British accents and beautiful hats and fascinators and gracious guests….lots of love and laughter from everyone that came to see them say their vows. We had gorgeous weather and the wedding was perfect in every way. We were able to spend some down time with friends and family and also visited some Texan sites-

We spent one day in a little town near our hotel called Grapevine. It had a fun main street filled with shops, restaurants and surprise- Wineries!!! We stopped at two and both were great places to taste. We started at Umbra Winery and it was a very welcoming place with one of the prettiest bars I’ve ever seen….All amber and yellow tiles, was very cool. The guy working the tasting room was great and I really wish I could remember his name. He was originally from Michigan but had moved to Texas from the Eastern part of the country. He knew a lot about the wines and gave great info about the winery. They have some nice wines and Hannah and I especially liked the Sauvignon Blanc and a red blend called Red Fusion. The tasting room was modern and gorgeous and we ordered a delightful cheese board with bleu, gouda, brie and some other wonderful cheese I can’t recall…but it hit the hungry spot. If you are ever in this area, it’s a great tasting room…with a really cool bar as well.

The 2nd tasting room we stopped at was Bingham Family Vineyards and this one was very interesting. Really different wines than we’re used to- I can’t say that I fell in love with any of them but still  glad we stopped. Read their story on the website- they have not been in the wine industry long but like how they are very passionate about their grapes/fruit…they are trying different  varieties of grapes to produce different wines and they also grow grapes for other Texan wineries. We had an enjoyable time at this tasting room and the woman there was delightful and very knowledgeable. Bonus that some of the wines had great names..Dirt Farmer and Prairie Rose are two that I liked.

Anyway, we did some other enjoyable things in Texas. Took advantage of the weather and visited both the Grapevine and Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. Grapevine’s was small but still lovely and Forth Worth’s was huge…we could not get thru it all but some of the highlights were the Japanese Gardens and they had an awesome butterfly exhibit where I was able to get some stunning pictures. It was nice to get a dose of spring-like weather after a long winter in Wisconsin. Here are a few beautiful pictures to remind us that spring is somewhere…because right now I’m watching it snow out my window!