Monday Musings M-m-m… These Are A Few of My Favorite Wings

I am always on the lookout for savory-sounding chicken wing recipes, because they are such a universal favorite.   They are perfect to serve when you are having a gathering where the food is comprised of “hearty apps.” 

Recently our nieces were here visiting from San Francisco.  Because a small baby would be in attendance, I suggested apps as opposed to a sit-down dinner.  I had fun in the kitchen most of the day, experimenting with new recipes, and tried to cover all bases with things people would enjoy.   

There was no question that one of the major hits of the party was the Spicy Chinese Chicken Wings - recipe available in my website “Recipe” section.    Also popular was the Tuscan Bean Dip, and the Crostini with Feta and Tomatoes were in a word, awesome (thanks to The Barefoot Contessa). 

I love to cook, so the activity is a reward in and of itself.  But having beloved friends and  family members raving with unbridled passion about what your efforts produced is truly for me priceless.
I should have stopped after a dozen...

I should have stopped after a dozen…….

Monday Musings M-m-m… Scotties & Bagpipes & Kilts, Oh My!

On the first Saturday of every December, if you come to the Old Town section of Alexandria, Virginia, you are in for a great treat – the Scottish Walkday Parade.  Here you will see hundreds of Scottish clansmen, Scottish dances being performed, bagpipes being played, and pipe and drum bands adding much merriment to the festivities.  

Being an obsessive animal lover, what I enjoy most I’ll admit about this day is seeing the hundreds of Scottie dogs, and other varieties of pooches, many showing off their plaid jackets and sweaters, exuberant to be a part of the happy scene, and often stealing the show.

This day was special for me because I participated by having a book signing event at The Virginia Store, one of Old Town’s favorite destinations for people looking for unique gifts, all from the State of Virginia.  Selling books is always marvelous, but what was even more fun was connecting with passersby and bonding with the many canines who came to say hello and share my space, and if I was really lucky, lick my face.   

Monday Musings M-m-m… Almost Heaven – Western Virginia

Fall Foliage and Fabulous Food – Priceless

Although I’ve lived in northern Virginia for well over half my life, until this past weekend I had never explored the wonders of the western part of the state.  We stayed at a wonderful little B&B called Osceola Mill in Steele’s Tavern, near Staunton and Lexington, VA.  The location couldn’t have been better for exploring not only those 2 historic cities, but also for sightseeing along the Blueridge Parkway and visiting the Shenandoah National Park.

Natural Bridge, Naturally Awesome

We also fit in a side trip to Natural Bridge, VA, which was, according to a local health food store owner, “All THAT.”  So – throw together fall foliage that was blindingly brilliant and beautiful, and a comfy cozy cabin at Osceola Mill (that included a huge stone fireplace with sunken jacuzzi next to it), and what more can you ask for? 

If you appreciate great food, obviously that would be the answer to that question. Osceola Mill is not only a B&B, but also houses a marvelous restaurant.  How lucky were we to dine there every night and eat food that was probably the best to be found in the area – and only steps away from our private cabin.

And to top off a close to perfect trip, I met the chef who prepared our fabulous meals, who now has a copy of “Cooking With Clyde” in her kitchen!!

Monday Musings M-m-m… The Cool Cucumber

Did you know: Cucumbers contain almost all of the vitamins you need everyday. Having a mid-afternoon vitality slow-down?  Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins and carbohydrates, and can provide a quick energy boost that can last for hours.  Want to avoid a hangover or headache?  Try eating some cucumber slices before going to bed.  Cucumbers have the ability to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, to help your equilibrium. Feeling a desire for an afternoon or evening snacking binge?  Try eating some sliced cucumbers dipped in some hummus – delightful!! A beloved friend/family member recently shared this recipe with me – knowing all the benefits of cucumbers, I was excited to try it.  The recipe is vegan, and can be adapted as indicated if desired.  Either way, yummy! CUCUMBER SOUP 2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter) 1 generous cup chopped onions 3 cups sliced cucumbers 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon flour 2 cups vegetable broth (preferably organic) Juice of 1 lemon 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind 1/4 teaspoon dill weed 1 cup vegan sour cream (or regular sour cream) 1 cucumber, grated Heat Earth Balance (or butter) in saucepan and add onions and cucumbers.  Saute until they begin to soften. Add salt, flour, vegetable broth, lemon juice, lemon rind, and dill to the saucepan and simmer over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Place mixture in a large bowl and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes.  Puree with an immersion blender.  Stir in sour cream and grated cucumber and chill.   Serves 4      

Monday Musings M-m-m… Vocal About Local – Tantalizing Tomatoes

You say tomato – I say “YUM!”

Tomatoes are one of my favorite things in the world to eat.  So I’m always thrilled when they are in season and available in abundance at local farmers’ markets.  The tomatoes pictured were sliced to make one of my favorite Italian dishes – Tomato Salad with Fresh Mozzarella.  There is a recipe for this wonderful taste treat in “Cooking With Clyde,” but you really don’t need a recipe.   Just slice some ripe fresh tomatoes, place slices of fresh mozzarella on top, shred a plentiful amount of fresh basil leaves over, and if desired, sprinkle some halved kalamata olives on top.  Pour some Italian dressing over top and voila.  I always make my own dressing, and it could not be easier – as evidenced below: VERSATILE VINAIGRETTE 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar (preferably organic) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Whisk together all ingredients except for the olive oil.  Continue to whisk while slowly dribbling in the olive oil until the mixture thickens.  Cover until ready to use.  It may be necessary to whisk the dressing again before using. Makes approximately 1 cup