God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Really, Really Good Scallops and Veggies!

As a new recruit to the wonders of scallops, I've been experimenting with recipes. Tonight I repeated a past success and will now share as it was just as wonderful the second time around. Also, the veggie part of it is OUTSTANDING and would be good at any time.  A new favorite here.

Seared Scallops with Summer Vegetables and Beurre Blanc
                     From Cooking Light

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped shallots
3 tbs chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp lemon rind
5/8 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 orange bell pepper it into 1 inch pieces
1 small red onion
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 cup grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 1/2 lbs sea scallops
1/4 cup small basil leaves--optional

  1. Place a jelly-roll pan in oven. Preheat oven to 500° (leave pan in oven during heating.)
  2. Combine wine and shallots, bring to boil. Cook 6  minutes (I found this too long) unitl mixture is reduced to 2 tbs. Strain through sieve into a bowl, discard solids. Return to pan. Gradually add butter, stirring with a whisk until smooth and emulsified. Stir in rind and 1/8 tsp salt. Keep warm.
  3. Cut zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise. Cut each half  crosswise into 3 pieces; cut each piece lengthwise into 4 strips. Combine zucchini, squash, pepper, onion and 1 tbs spoon oil i a large bowl, toss to coat. Put veggies into preheated pan. Bake at 599° for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic, toss. Bake for 4 minutes or until veggies are lightly browned. (I cooked longer.) Remove from oven; add salt and pepper.
  4. While veggies cook, heat large cast iron skillet over high heat. Pat scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1tbs. olive oil to pan. Add scallops; cook 1 1/2 minutes each side or until seared and the way you like them. 
  5. Serve scallops with veggies and sauce. Garnish with basil.
Again, let me say, the veggies are so, so good.

Serves 4 

For Ken and I, I just use 5 scallops each and then sort of cut back on veggies to what I think we want. I do the full sauce as then if we want more, we have it. Better too much than too little. The key with the scallops is to have the skillet hot, hot.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Temecula--A Hidden Destination

Yes, yes, yes---somehow keeping up with this blog after so many years becomes increasingly difficult--particularly when life is rather routine and ordinary. The thing is...I started this as a type of journal which hopefully will be meaningful to Casey in the years ahead. With that said, my on again off again commitment doesn't quite meet that goal, does it?

Several weeks ago, well months now, Ken and I went away for a few days while Casey was enjoying the fun of house boats on Lake Shasta. (Have to say that it is worth every penny to send him to summer activities far away so that we can have our own fun.)

Anyway, thanks to a Groupon purchase, we had a few discounted nights at The Inn at Churon a winery/BandB in San Diego's own wine belt, Temecula Valley, which is producing some excellent wines. Unfortunately, we were not very pleased with our lodging as it is in a state of approaching being a "has-been" in need of new owners who are willing to invest. This is quite strange as everything in Temecula Valley is relative new making it surprising that anything could be in serious disrepair so soon. Did not like their wine either.

We did stop by some wineries that we had found in the past and discovered new ones tucked into hillsides and resting on hill tops; thus adding to our "wine cellar" which consists of a small cooler and any cool hideaways in the house. How I would like the wonderful basements we had in St. Louis and Syracuse (which actually had a wine cellar but, sad to say, was before we were wine aficionados.)

However, this blog entry is not about wine or the lush Tuscanesque landscape of Temecula Valley.

Instead it is about the discovery of a hidden treasure that we have ignored and misunderstood for years and years. When we lived in Riverside, we would occasionally drive down to San Diego and now that we are in San Diego, we have driven up I15 more times than I can count or remember--on our way to Riverside, Palm Springs, Idlewild, Arrowhead, Big Bear, Apple Valley and other SoCal destinations. Each time we have driven right by the Temecula city turn off--seeing only the businesses spread out along the highway--MacDonalds, tire shops, a mall, maybe a roadside restaurant or two. Certainly nothing beckoned us down the ramp. It seemed like just a small, old, tired place, certainly not a place of charm or interest. As this old town and the new vibrant Temecula Valley are on opposite sides of the freeway, the town is easily ignored.

Our foray into the town only happened because Temecula Valley restaurants are really geared for the weekend crowds that come for wine tasting and a few days get away time. Many are closed during the week, or so it seems. So, we decided to cross the tracks (really the freeway overpass) and see what was available in Temecula proper. And we were enthralled by what we found. A town that lost its history and purpose when the freeway went in, reimagined itself and has become a place of wooden sidewalks, cute shops carrying wares different than the ubiquitous offerings of the mall culture, places to eat (not Michelin quality, for sure), a look into its old time jail, a Lionel Train store that has anything for which you may be searching,  a wonderful new theater and cultural complex and an old hotel for sale in the event you have always wanted to run an inn. It's a fun way to spend a few hours, strolling, exploring, and in my case, finding clothing that is unique that I love wearing.

So, if you have time to kick back, relax and just stroll a bit, take a detour into Temecula town.

While we were meandering, we began talking with Kristine Turner from nearby Marietta Springs. She offers "A Culinary and Wine Lovers Tour" if that sounds interesting. I have no idea whether it is good but she seemed interesting and fun--kristine@kristineturner.biz or 931-239-5973