The picture above was taken last Wednesday arriving at Kennedy Airport for my visit with Stephanie. The Spring air feels great and I can't wait to hit the streets running and savor the sights, smells and sounds of the Big Apple. NYC is my favorite place not only as my Daughter lives here, but the opportunity to experience culture, traditions, history and some of the best markets and food venues in the World. With the Spring and Summer festivals and street fairs you are treated to the unique essence of urban city culture. My first stop was Central Park for a walk, and as always delighted to find these Gentlemen below "jammin" with that Jazz feel to bring you back to the 60's flavors of a typical Manhattan afternoon! Sit back and listen to the music for a minute....
New Yorkers have such a stylish way to create container gardens and small places that are so inviting to sit and enjoy the Spring weather. With the sun peeking through the stoop below captures the highlights of this traditional style. I absolutely Love it !!! ;)
From a Town House to a High Rise Spring flowers are blooming all over. It is the beautiful colors that compliment the vintage architecture that completes the feeling for me. I enjoy the experience, and equate it as walking through the art that you would see in a gallery.
With the afternoon coming to a close Dinner became my next thought ....... Stephanie had it under control and she whipped up a scrumptious meal of oven grilled peppers, onions and sausage with an arugula salad with beet noodles, tomatoes and carrot. Truly a delicious way to start a Spring visit with Stephanie in this beautiful City!
I absolutely love my pot collection! I've accumulated many and consider them my prized possessions! From Club Aluminum, Guardian, and Wagner to Reverware, Farberware, Belgique, Cuisinart and Le Creuset... I love them all! I tell my friends and family when I'm using them I think back to when I bought them and who I was cooking with and the stories begin. ;)
Over the last few weeks I've been doing a Spring clean up outside in the garden and planting new flowers and herbs. I thought about creating a fun new look and decided to use some of my old aluminum pots and plant some herbs in them. I thought they would look really cute sitting on my potting table or hanging on the fence. I already have grown herbs in horse troughs for years and was so excited to add and create this new look for my patio garden.
If you notice in the picture above I took this photo and printed it out and then decoupaged it on to a tile as a trivet. I felt so proud of myself until I saw the dirt smudge to the left and laughed for hours. I've truly learned not to fret over the little things and rather view it as it adds character! ;) Now that I decided to use old pots for herbs and special pretty flowers.... I have to antique more and pick up a few additional old interesting pieces. Oh yes...Right up my alley! I started this past weekend and picked up a few while combing the antique and thrift stores. I found a lovely Pewter piece actually not a pot, rather a serving piece that had markings on the back from London. I'm going to make it up for either my Kitchen or Dining room table. I told my husband this is a win win as with all the time I've spent setting up my garden, has left me less time to do other shopping. The best part is all the fun things I've been doing using the herbs each day. I've recently made pickles, pickled okra, herb flavored Vodka for Bloody Marys as well as herbed vinegar. I'm really enjoying the time spent in my garden and slowly overcoming my fear of anything that crawls. It's so funny as I still wear long rubber clothes that are yellow so I can see anything that comes near my gloves! I would love to look like one of those natural gardeners with fancy apron etc but I'm dressed to protect myself from the element! LOL! I've really come along way working outside and really proud of the results.
Above is a picture of the piece from England that I mentioned and two ideas for a centerpiece. One with grapes for the dining room table and the other perhaps simple greens. Of course I couldn't resist and threw in my signature Crown as an accessory. I love the charm it brings as well as all the conversation it generates! There is always something about Crowns that sparks a certain fascination.....I know it does for me!
A Pasty has become one of my favorite quick suppers! You can make use of your leftovers and transform them into a pastry shell and create your own unique shapes! ;) Next you pop them in the oven for 35-40 minutes, while your tossing a Salad or making a quick soup and then sit down and enjoy, while imaging yourself across the big Pond in jolly old England!
The Pasty above was stuffed with leftover steak and veggies from a barbecue and the others chicken and veggies. You can make them with virtually any filling all vegetable or even lentils or beans. Don't make them to saucy as the sauce will drizzle out the sides while cooking and take away from the appearance.
I know this as I've been there done that more than once!
I know I can hear from where I'm sitting the gasps of breath for putting a picture of Lard as an ingredient. First off my defense is less is more and your not going to eat all 6-8 pastys yourself, that called for 1/4 cup lard .....no Butter. Now you could use all butter or half and half lard to butter or my last choice Crisco. I did my research and unless your vegetarian there is a good argument out there that animal Fat=Lard is actually a better choice than Veg lard due to the processing. If you find lard offensive use a little Crisco or all butter or bacon fat or as I like to create for Britalia Way recipes is a pastry using pancetta that you have cut small and chopped in a mini processor to make it smooth. The flavor is fantastic and of course for Britalia Way it combines an Italian ingredient with an English recipe! ;) ...Not to mention people" Do Not" equate Pancetta to lard rather a delicious product you pick up at an Italian Salumeria! Seriously pasty's are something you don't have every night and the fat content is probably less than store bought processed pie and bread products eaten far more often.
I've made all different types of stuffing and I really like leftover Escarole and beans or Escarole and Sausage. Vegetarians could use cabbage, carrot, peas and parsnips and add cream of celery soup to bind together. Tuna fish , red peppers , onions and capers and bind with a little mayonnaise and chili sauce. I've tasted many from Myers of Keswick in Manhattan and they have beef and onions with delicious mushrooms etc. There are endless ideas just use leftovers and try them some evening and possibly pour a pint to serve as your beverage!
This past weekend we took a drive to Mt. Dora to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary and enjoy some Antiquing in this lovely town. The little shops along Main street are so inviting and each carry so many unique items made by local artists. The town also boosts a wide variety of great Restaurants as well. I was truly excited when I learned that the Annual Garden Show was being held this past Sunday at Rennigers Antique and Flea Market! Aw yes a trifecta for me staying at the lovely Heron Cay Lakeview Bed and Breakfast, Antiquing at the Garden show and then enjoying the local restaurants celebrating our Anniversary for a few days! There's always room for another Martini!:)
We headed up Sunday morning and went straight to the Garden show and was amazed how large a show it was. Needless to say I had to take it all in and we spent 4 hours meandering both inside and outside at all there was to see. The top picture was the first booth as we walked in and I bought some lovely dried lavender there. My other great finds included an old sewing machine drawer pictured below that I put some potted plants in that I had at home. I also purchased some lace that day as well as a metal wall vase. I finished off the show with two ceramic boxes that have crowns (my favorite thing) on them. Another store in town called Piece of Mine brought a purchase of the lovely flower pot that I put the lavender in and I added moss! Little pretty things make me happy! ;) Next we enjoyed cocktails at the Lost Parrot in town and then headed over to the Bed and Breakfast to check in.
We were greeted by Margie the innkeeper and shown to our room. It was a lovely room overlooking the Lake with a four poster bed and we thought just perfect. Well to make a long story short on our way down to get our clothes she showed us the just Heavenly Suite and we decided to stay in that one as it was available. A grand room with a King Bed, Fireplace and sitting room and finished off with a huge Bath and dressing area. The bath was decorated with antiques as was the room and made it feel all that nicer. Chandeliers in the bathroom.......yes savvy style!
It was truly a beautiful three day get away with all the bells and whistles! As always we love to talk with everyone we meet and while having Dinner at Pisces Rising a Florida Steak and Seafood Restaurant we met Maggie and Kevin. Our tables were back to back and Kevin heard me asking about dessert and he said don't count calories just do it! Well five minutes later they joined us at our table and we shared lots of good conversation, laughs and the beautiful evening breeze sitting on the patio overlooking the Lake with music to boot!
Monday morning we met Laura and Dave that were staying at the Bed and Breakfast as well. We started talking and then set off in different directions. We stopped at the Olive Branch Restaurant to check out the menu for dinner and they were there having a drink. Once again lots of talk and then we decided to meet them there later for dinner and celebrate our Anniversary's together ! We had such a lovely evening and really got to know each other and plan on meeting up again soon.
Once again sharing special moments with two special couples made our get away all the more memorable. Thanks to our innkeepers Margie and Randy for a delightful stay at your gracious home and the delicious Breakfast served each morning!
March has been a busy month at my house both with projects and a visit from my girlfriend Carol. I look forward to her visits for all the fun we have visiting, shopping and of course our talks on solving the World's problems! ;) As she tells friends she is in "Finance" ..... moving money in all stores and creating a need for industry to supply pretty items at discounted prices! ;)
We have the best times collaborating ideas and then shopping from stores to antique malls, to thrift shops in pursuit of the perfect items to create a new idea we've envisioned!
She arrived with a big bag of presents for my Birthday and we began right away figuring out the best place to display them. Her presents were all crown related starting with a beautiful gold bird with a crown pictured above, Crown Measuring Spoons, Crown Napkin Rings, A Crown Bookmark from Ireland with an Irish Cookbook, a crown applique for Furniture and then a beautiful pair of Crown Crystal earnings from My Flat in London! Awe Yes I certainly felt like a Queen the day she arrived! Thanks Carol for all my presents and creating memories I get to look at and enjoy. ;)
Starting with the wreath above that I had in a closet and with the addition of some Ivy, a little ribbon and then of course my new bird Bella with her crown. She is now proudly hanging in the Pool bath also known as the Queens Throne!
March was certainly a busy month and Carols visit made it so memorable. From a Paul Anka concert at Sunrise Theater, my neighbors 50th Anniversary Party, Reiki one evening, as well as Meditation, endless shopping and visits with my neighbor Addie who had us over for a lovely breakfast and my good friend Paola who had us over for Tea and her special Cassata cake pictured below.
With the end of March comes a new month to enjoy the Spring and a visit from both Stephanie and Stephen for Easter. I'm looking forward to making a Pizza Rustica and Grain Pie and will keep you updated with pictures. Happy Spring!!!
It's hard to believe that my last post was from Feb.17th! The past five weeks have flown by and with so many great memories to share at Britalia Way. Starting back on Feb 16th we enjoyed an evening with Jay Leno at the Sunrise Theater. We were so happy to get a chance to meet him before the show and take a picture and then I snapped this selfie of us above.
He is such a nice guy and his show was fabulous. He hasn't lost touch with reality with all his success and it shows! An hour and a half of non stop laughter and you leave his show wishing we could still turn him on every night at 11:30 on the Tonight Show! His jokes are hilarious as he pokes fun at simple everyday subjects without the need to use curse words or put someone down in a negative way. Even his political jokes don't demean or disgrace, rather his delivery of some as questions make them even funnier! ;)
Truly a style all his own with facial gestures that can't be beat! I can't say enough of how entertaining Jay is other than..... If he comes to your town, don't miss his show!
I love hanging pots in my kitchen I love looking at them, but mainly I hang them as I don't like trying to fight with them when there stored in cabinets and get stuck in each other....Right!! :) Problem solved..... I have two pot racks in my Kitchen and love the convenience as well as the style it brings to the room. I still store the larger stock pots in the lower cabinets and make all sorts of sounds when trying to retrieve them and then put the others back where they belong. Actually I think I hear some of you laughing thinking the same thing! Really this is hilarious as most of the world is in chaos over so many issues and I choose to write about hanging pots. In the above picture, you can see I use my Asparagus pot as a vessel for utensils and the strainer for that pot also for assorted spoons etc. It is amazing how easy it is to reach and not fumble around in a drawer. If your about to click off as this post is too corny ....I'm about to share an exciting game I've been asked to participate in! ;)
My nephew Salvatore who is a chef sent me a letter last week asking me if I would share some ideas and be part of the game "My Last Supper" It's a game chefs have enjoyed for decades and seemed to keep it among themselves in the profession. Then along came author Melanie Dunea in 2007 who asked 50 of the World's famous chefs to participate with a picture of the Chef and create a great book for all to enjoy. The object of the game is to answer 6 simple questions:
What would be your last meal on Earth
What would be the setting for the meal
What would you Drink with your Meal ;) That's easy Martini!
Would there be Music
Who would be your Dining Companions!
Who would prepare the meal
Sal (my nephew) thought it would be fun to ask fifty of his friends and relatives to participate. Recipes are optional....are we surprised Chefs usually keep them to themselves or if your like me never formally measure unless baking and rely on our hands and eyes as our measuring tools. I'm excited and plan to think about it over the weekend, possibly pondering the ideas over a lovely Martini recalling meals shared with special people.
For me it's all about the experience and in the picture above you see a rolling pin.... not just a kitchen tool but a rolling pin that holds a very special memory. I purchased that in Montisi Italy at a little shop not far from the bed and breakfast where we were staying. This was a small village and the shops were mostly for the locals or the few tourists (very few) that were there. I still remember walking in and being greeted by the lovely Italian woman and the sincerity in her eyes. With her limited English we shared a memorable exchange as I looked at all her cooking and handmade items she displayed so nicely. There were kitchen tools, aprons, towels and china one nicer than the next. This particular rolling pin has ridges so when you roll it across the dough the Pasta strands are evenly cut..... Perfect for Tagliatelle! She took the pin in her hands to demonstrate and I was immediately taken by her genuine love for cooking and sharing of ideas.
Truly a heartfelt moment for me and one that I recall each time I roll this pin across fresh pasta dough.
Many times when I'm cooking my thoughts take me back to when I've enjoyed the dish that I'm preparing. I'm conscious of what I'm doing but actually imagining the taste, presentation and memory of a simple meal. The above pasta was at a restaurant outside of Florence Italy where we were shopping at a local Antique market. This little Trattoria had set up a tented area in the Town Square for their patrons to enjoy the festivities while enjoying their meal. I can remember the day, the weather, the presentation.....OK you get it I'm obsessed over a bowl of Pasta!!! ;)
Back to my point..... many times as I cook I've realized I'm actually in a meditation of sorts. I came to this conclusion after enjoying a guided meditation class where the teacher was reading from a book called Hidden Treasures by Gangaji. She read a passage that called attention to Conscious awareness of Silence. It was interesting to me as I realized that in my interpretation of her words I applied it to dreaming or even lost in a trance or merely concentration itself. When I dream, I'm aware of animated visions but not sound . As I gave it more thought that day after the class I realized how many opportunities we have to meditate without the formal setting being seated and relaxed and closing your eyes. Sometimes Meditation is simply when our minds concentrate on the task at hand. For me ......that is cooking!
From gathering my ingredients, preparing them and then enjoying the aroma of their flavors is a practice of Meditation for me! ;) While enjoying a simple life activity I'm able to consciously relax and focus only on the present moment to create, present and enjoy a beautiful meal with my family!
There are so many forms of Meditation to achieve the same goal ...that being a time for you to enjoy the present moment. While cooking, gardening, painting or even walking through an art museum, take time to focus in these moments. Become aware of the natural sounds that may be as simple as the sizzle of food being dropped into a hot pan or a paintbrush back and forth on a canvas.....become aware of this simplicity and enjoy your interpretation of conscious awareness. Experience your own feeling of being in the moment.
Wishing you Delicious thoughts today!
Above is one of my favorite snap shots I took while visiting the Cotswolds region in England. We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Bourton on the Water and took several trips to neighboring villages and this was snapped near Stow. This beautiful Countryside area would be my decision if thinking of a move to the UK. The charm and style of each village we visited was like stepping back in time to pages in a favorite picture book. This particular home captures both simple design and stately charm! From the stone of the home matching the colors of stone in the pebble walkways, to the single urn of colorful flowering geraniums and ivy, the manicured hedges around the urn to those of the two Topiary's at the sides of the front door.... a picture of simple elegance! For me my thoughts were imagining the interior and of course cooking in its lovely English kitchen.
What entices me about English style and its charm is they savor the tradition of years ago. Even when homes are not as large as the lovely one above their yards reflect the English garden theme. Maybe a single urn or two of greenery of perhaps just a patch of wild flowers. Crisp white curtains on clear glass(no screens) look so neat.
Their villages still have Mom and Pop stores that offer the distinct taste in both food and home goods their shoppers desire. From bakeries and sweet shops, to cheese and gourmet goodies, your palate will taste only the best! Then there are small interesting bookshops, toy stores, and fabulous home good stores with unique styles. My favorite was a kitchen store in Stow where I was amazed at how many toast racks there were to choose from. I loved having a toast rack on the breakfast table table each morning and silver rimmed individual butter dishes. The butter dishes are common here but seldom do I see a toast rack.
Aw yes that English flair! Simplicity with distinct preference as toast in a toast rack does not lay on each other and become soft and soggy but stays dry to be the perfect vessel for delicious butter. We did enjoy the full English breakfast of eggs, ham or sausages, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans and black pudding. Many shops offer fried bread with the breakfast as well. I was a little hesitant to taste the black pudding as it is made with not only pork fat or beef suet but also pork blood and added oatmeal and sometimes barley groats. I decided I would taste it and actually found it to be quite good. It will not make my top 5 recipes or even an attempt on my part to recreate but rather if in a good Pub in New York or England I'd have a taste with breakfast.
Below are some of the lovely shops I visited and tasted some fabulous cheese and sweets as well. I still enjoy envisioning being the shop keeper to one of these special stores! ;)
The English have a savvy way of creating tasteful, distinctive and simple style. Elegant is Elegant, Formal is Formal and Casual has a flair of its own! Traditions seem timeless and protocol still a very Royal Perspective. As they say in England "The Old Guard still reigns at Buckingham Palace." Perhaps I will follow suit here across the Pond in Florida and Oh yes.... I will be putting out my toast rack for breakfast tomorrow and serve myself with style and recall the beautiful Holiday spent in the Cotswolds.
As the New Year unfolds I'm excited like everyone else to try and trim away a few pounds.......alright a lot of pounds!!! ;)
Having returned from our New York Holidays and the lovely cold weather I'm excited to try out some new great soup recipes. My favorite soup this trip was Potato Leek soup that we had at Connolly's 121 West 45th Street between 6th and 7th if your in the NYC area. The Pub features both an upstairs and downstairs....we sat downstairs in a booth not far from the Bar. It was an overcast day Dec 30 and we had just finished a carriage ride through Central Park where we were so excited as when we were pulling back to get off we actually had some snow flurries. I thought at first it was rain but the Driver of the Carriage a spirited Irish man said no it was actually snow flurries. Seeing the white flakes flying through the air made me feel completely blissful! I know it sounds corny but I'm sincere when I say its not only checking a moment off a list as completed but rather getting truly caught up in the moment with that special feeling in your heart. The ride was so nice as our driver was so talkative. I loved his Irish accent and thought about it again later sitting in Connolly's. Yes this was going to be a truly Irish day as we were meeting my Daughter later downtown at Jim Brady's Irish Pub for Dinner.
Lunch would be light so we just ordered a bowl of soup and I a Bloody Mary and my Husband Rocco a Bourbon Manhattan.
The drinks came and we cheered to a wonderful visit we were having in New York. My Potato Leek soup arrived and it was absolutely delicious! Creamy with the taste of the leeks being perfect. I added a little hot sauce and swirled it around and loved the tangy flavor it created. To be so excited over a bowl of soup to some might seem odd, but for me it was so much more. From the quaint room where we were sitting with its rich dark furniture and cozy atmosphere to the Christmas lights twinkling, and people engaged in conversations and poof I was imagining being in a Pub in Ireland where I could ask the Bartender to pull me a pint! A moment becomes a memory when you feel it in your heart and I will always remember the taste of my Soup at Connolly's that cold December Day!
My favorite Irish Cookbook is pictured below.....Here is their recipe for Potato Leek Soup..........My special tweek to their recipe is to add a shake or two of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. It's a little jar of magic that combines onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley,basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary,cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel,tomato granules, lemon juice powder and oil of lemon. I use this flavorful blend in so many soups, salads and always that special boost in a Bloody Mary!
4 tablespoons lightly salted butter
1 onion chopped
2 Leeks sliced
2 potatoes cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup light cream optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the prepared vegetables and saute gently for 2-3 minutes, until soft but not brown. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend the soup in the saucepan using a handheld immersion blender if you have one. Alternatively pour into a blender or food processor, process until smooth, and return to the rinsed out saucepan.
Reheat the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper .Ladle into warm bowls and serve swirled with sour cream, if using and garnished with the chives. * I would omit the salt if using the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe's.
Enjoy and maybe find some Irish music on Pandora and create that Irish Pub atmosphere right at home.
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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