Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simply Delicious & Healthy

After an eleven hour slumber, I woke up refreshed this morning, and ready to tackle the week before me. I fell asleep last night precisely as the Tea Drinker hit play on our DVD player. We had planned to watch this week’s NetFlix movie: The Hangover. In regards to the many genres of movies available, I prefer drama, drama, and more drama. I do not enjoy comedies. Maybe it's because my life overfloweth with it on a daily basis. I know you are thinking: “Drama never enters your life?”. Nope, just comedy. In any case, just another example that a higher being does exist, as I was granted this small blessing of missing this ridiculously silly movie. The Tea Drinker was not impressed with it, either.

Any how, I vow tonight to attempt to stay up past 8:30pm, or at least make it through 60 minutes. The key will be for me to enjoy a cup of Golden Pu-erh right after dinner, instead of reaching for another glass of wine. This might help with avoiding any real life hangovers, too. Now, I am using my noggin’.

Today, I am eager to share with you the dinner that we enjoyed last night. It was so tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare. You must give it a try. Each weekend, we typically experiment with a new recipe, and yesterday’s dish was a hit.

While prepping for dinner, we snacked on Aged Manchego and Young Mahon, two lovely Spanish cheeses. Now onto the recipe- the key to this dish is that the process starts on the stove, and then finishes in the oven. Therefore, you need a skillet worthy of transferring from the stove to the oven. We chose to use a 10 inch skillet first, and then used a Spanish Cazuela clay pan. By using this attractive earthenware, you can move it right to the table. If you do not have a cazuela pan, the best bet is to use a cast iron skillet for both steps.

Simple Ingredients:
Patagonian toothfish- 4-6oz Fillets. Now, I have your attention. Okay, this fish is simply known as Chilean Sea Bass. Buy your fish from a reputable, local fishmonger.
Olive Oil- 3 TBSP
Sweet Onion- (1)sliced into wedges. About ½ inch.
Garlic- 2 cloves, thinly sliced
Paprika- ½ Tsp. We use Hungarian paprika, because we like the smoky dimension that it adds to the dish.
28oz Can of Whole Plum Tomatoes – I like Organic Muir. Drain, crush slightly, remove seeds. Set aside.
Italian Parsley- Chopped, 2 Tbsp.
Salt & Pepper

Simplified Romesco Sauce:
** a lovely flavorful Catalan sauce. Great accompaniment to roasted fish.
Raw Almonds(whole,with skin)- 1/2 cup. coarsely chopped, then lightly toasted.
Olive Oil - 4 TBSP.
Roasted Red Peppers- Jarred is fine. About a cup.
Paprika- ½ tsp.
Garlic- 1 clove, minced
Sherry Vinegar- 1 TBSP. Do not be afraid to buy this versatile vinegar- great for salads, too(whisk with honey and olive oil).
To Prepare Sauce: In a small food processor or blender, add garlic, peppers, pinch of salt, paprika, and process until pureed. Add 4 TBSP of olive oil slowly. Combine. Taste. Add the sherry vinegar. Stir, and set aside.

Ready, Set, Go:
1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2) In a 12 inch skillet over medium-low heat sauté onions for 15 minutes until golden brown. Add garlic- sauté about 5 minutes. Stir in Paprika.
3) Add crushed tomatoes and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
4) Layer bottom of oven-proof pan with the tomato/onion mixture, save a heaping TBSP for each fillet. Place fish fillets on top of tomato mixture. Salt, pepper, and sprinkle the fish with parsley. Spoon remaining tomato/onion mixture on top..
5) Place in oven, bake for 15 minutes or until the thickest part of fish is opaque.

Viola! Serve fish with the romesco sauce on the side. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy. We went with Road 31 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir.
Serves 4.

** recipe adapted from Sur La Table, Things Cooks Love.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Boundless Energy- Drink Iced Herbal Masala Chai

Reporting from Sarasota, FL, where we are visiting Mops & Pops. The Tea Drinker met me at his parents' house on Friday afternoon. He braved the California weather, and boarded a delayed red-eye out of SFO the night before, endured an early morning layover in Atlanta, and finally arrived safely in Sarasota after circling above the airport for more than an hour(due to dense fog). The Tea Drinker does not enjoy the process of travelling; this trip is another example of his unwavering love for me. Okay, he loves his parents, too. I was eager to kick off the weekend and meet my husband in Sarasota after having spent a week travelling to Orlando and Jacksonville spreading the good word. We jumped right into dining out, drinking wine, and introducing Pops to I- Beer, a 99cent application, that we downloaded onto his IPod Touch. Hey, 99 cents for a lifetime of laughs is so worth it, and its calorie free, too.

My in-laws look fantastic(see above photo), and are doing great and it must be noted that they have bounds of energy(see photo again). I am waiting for this ‘new found’ energy in life to kick in for the Tea Drinker and me. This first week back on the road after a short hiatus has proven me rusty and tired. It’s been an eventful week. Let’s count the ways: I lost and then found my cell phone car charger, conveniently forgot my wallet after offering to pick up the wine tab at dinner(my father-in-law suggests that I stick to buying complimentary mimosas at breakfast), proceeded to get lost for over an hour in a residential area with a drained cell phone and a GPS(not sure how this happened), left important beauty maintenance products back home in Napa(read: unruly hair, and tired eyes), but most importantly, I forgot to bring my treasured tea stash with me! Maybe this is the core reason to why my energy level is so low. I realize now that I have finally turned a corner in the mysterious land of tea, and can never go back to mediocre hotel coffee or stale bagged teas. Just can’t do it. I sneer, and snicker. I begged the Tea Drinker to please bring me some tea, and a new pair of contacts for my tired eyes.

Dan’s parents enjoy Drink the Leaf herbal teas every day. Of course, they offered me a tasty iced version of Herbal Masala Chai, which was great, but if you know me, I love to bellow “caffeine” over and over each morning. The Tea Drinker arrived with a bounty: Keemun Hao Ya A, Organic Golden Monkey, and Emergen-C. Perfect! This would be sure to cure all, and I felt ready to take on the world. My in-laws suggested a bike ride. Sure, why not? We left the Tea Drinker behind, as he was nursing an upset stomach. We peddled out of the driveway, and Mops & Pops took off. I trailed behind them, huffing and puffing, and pretended to look at turtles and Sand Hill Cranes while catching my breath. I was marveled by their energy, as they biked for more than 12 miles, and told me of their usual route of 19 miles. Maybe there is something to drinking herbal teas…

This week, I have certainly learned that I should start biking to boot camp, and that I should never ever leave home without tea, both fully-loaded and caffeine-free. Here's to living life to its fullest!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti- A country in need. Take Action now.

The Tea Drinker & I join the rest of the world in grieving for the people of Haiti. We can’t tear ourselves away from the TV and watching the news. We stare in awe at the devastation, horror, and great tragedy that has struck this country not far from our homeland. The images resonate with us, and weigh on our emotions. We are reeling from the stories of rescue efforts and survivors still being found five days after the earthquake.

Hope. A belief and wanting that circumstances and predicaments can turn around and work out for the best. I would like to add action to the equation. Hope keeps you going in times of great need, and for the people of Haiti--hope, love and prayer are all that they have left. Action needs to come from the rest of the world.

Our leaders are being very direct in what is needed: money. Donations will provide relief, food, water, aid, medicine, rescue, shelter and rebuilding for the earthquake survivors. Join us in this effort, and please donate, if you can. Any amount, $5, $10, $25 will help rebuild the life of an orphan, mother, father, brother, or sister in need.

We found the following two websites to be helpful. They are very easy to navigate and we were able to donate quickly. Impact Your World &

As President Obama stated, “The losses that have been suffered in Haiti are nothing less than devastating, and responding to a disaster of this magnitude will require every element of our national capacity." We raise our cup and donation to the survivors, and those helping them rebuild their lives.

**From now until the end of the month, Drink The Leaf will donate 10% of every order(excluding shipping) recieved to This organization is working to provide immediate relief and long-term support to the earthquake survivors.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Touchdown with Loose Leaf Tea!

“He- could- go- all- the- way”. I love to quote ESPN announcer Chris Berman. He makes me laugh. Funny, since the quote is tied to football, a sport that I know basically zip, nada, and nothing about. You would think since I grew up in Orchard Park, NY less than 2 miles from Ralph Wilson Stadium( formerly known as Rich Stadium) that I would be well versed in football. I am embarrassed to admit that even living that close to a stadium, I never went to a game.

I guess at times my life did intersect with football. My mom used to run into former Buffalo Bills’ coach, Marv Levy, when they were both out walking their dogs. That has to count for something. And, there were a few kids in high school that their fathers were coaches or players. Another good point. Also, as a teenager, I worked at a local hot dog stand that was frequented by mountain-sized players who consumed milkshake after milkshake. I even met famed quarterback Jim Kelly a few times. A true story: once while riding my bike home from work, a rookie player (often in the news, and not in a good way) followed me in his Mercedes. He wanted to meet my parents, and ask for their permission to take me out on a date. I was flattered, but my Mom said NO. Never understood why. If she were a bit more flexible, I might now a thing or two about football today. Hmm.

In college, I spent many weekends and Monday nights in various sports bars, but I primarily focused on pitchers of beer and baskets of chicken wings. I think this is where I got side-tracked. I was doomed to know nothing about one of America’s favorite obsessions. Of course, I am talking about football, not beer. Thank god I moved across the country, and no longer fear running into famous football characters. The pressure is off, and I don’t need to know a darn thing about the game. Today, a day of watching football translates into a day of reading, relaxing, and drinking loose leaf tea. Yes, I have gone way off track.

This weekend was different. It was all about football. I admit I had an ulterior motive. There is a new bar in Napa, named the Norman Rose. A cozy tavern, with a plethora of beers on tap, a few flat screen TVs, accompanied with comfort food, including Truffle Parmesan fries. Okay, you caught me. The fries were the real reason that I suggested to my husband that we call my best friend (football fanatic), and park our butts at the bar at 4pm on a Saturday. I was not disappointed. They watched the Dallas Cowboys confidently crush the Philadelphia Eagles, while I drank Lagunitas IPA, snacked on pub cheese, and munched on perfectly seasoned fries. Just like the old days in college, but way more civilized.

Now it’s Sunday, and I have suggested to the Tea Drinker that we snuggle up on the couch with a steaming pot of tea, and watch football again. Like I said, who have I become? It’s an overcast, chilly day in Napa, and the sun is starting to peak through, and I can’t imagine any other way to spend the day. The good news is that the Buffalo Bills are no longer a point of concern for my husband, and I do not have to listen to him moan, groan, and swear. He can shelf that worry until next season, and just relax and watch the game. I have already started planning Super Bowl 44. I will be visiting the parents in Buffalo, and plan to watch the game with my Dad; I am in charge of the snacks. I got it covered. The only problem is that my Dad is a coffee drinker. Damn. I guess I will have to smuggle in some tea leaves.

Whether it be beer drinking, wine swirling, tea sipping, or actually watching the game...take time to enjoy the sport of your choice today!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Top 10 Highlights of 2009

Happy New Year!

Bring on 2010! The year of the Tiger. GRRR.

We had a fabulous 2009. We are eager to see what adventures are in store in 2010 for the Tea Drinker and his faithful, adoring witty wife(that's me). I hope it will include intriguing travels, tasty morsels, liberal libations, lots of friends and family, and loads of laughter.

My Top 10 Highlights of 2009

10) Michael Mina, Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, NYC's Locande Verde , Chinese New Year, or Thanksgiving at a dear friend’s home. It’s a tossup for me between which one of these was my favorite meal of 2009. I am spoiled rotten when it comes to enjoying food, and proud of it. All of the above experiences had the right ingredients: ambiance, great company, copious wine, and a downright delicious meal.

9) The Little Fishes. After years of whining about wanting a fish tank, my dear husband surprised me with one for my birthday. A highlight indeed, and the best part is that the Tea Drinker cleans the tank. Check out what our cat, Little One, thinks about this new addition to our family.

8) Mops & Pops 50th Wedding Anniversary. A milestone, and a fantastic celebration. It was a treat to spend time with our extended family back East. No, really.

7) A family Affair: Gemma Grace & Oklahoma Bound. I can't wait to meet our precious new niece, Gemma. My parents are finally grandparents at last, and can expand their pictures of offspring beyond a cute little feline that resides on the West Coast. Congratulations to my brother, Mike and lovely Rachel! In August, we descended upon the Sooner state for a relaxing and fun weekend with my brother, Nick. We wore ten gallon hats, road down Main street on throughbreds, and drank beer by the boat load. Well, at least the beer part is true.

6) Phone & Internet. I can't live without this little gadget known as the cell phone. How else would I be able to stay in touch with my best friends, Alex & Dede, and talk their ears off at will? And, a weekly highlight always includes conversations with my Dad. We talk about everything and nothing. A phone and a dame is a dangerous thing. And because of Facebook and Twitter, I was able to reconnect with college friends for a “girls gone crazy’ weekend in NYC last February. And, lived to talk about it.

5) Mommy and Me. A wonderful Happy Birthday getaway Mother’s Day weekend bash in Charleston, SC. What fun. We love this historical city, and all that it has to offer. We will be back.

4)Sea Ranch. My top ten list would not be complete without including my treasured getaway destination. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and plan a trip. But, please not when I am there, I am trying to relax...

3)Drink the Leaf Organic Golden Monkey. Of course, loose leaf tea is near the top of the list. It's my number one jump starter of the day. I am obsessed with this tea- too bad it’s really limited. I can’t imagine my life without tea, and a great book. Dramatic, I know. But, that’s how I roll.

2)Napa Valley Adventure Boot Camp. Obviously, I am equally obsessed with my ‘must have’ outdoor workout regimen. I am grateful for my health. Now, if I could just find a ‘nutrition plan’ that I am equally as obsessed about.

1) Happy New Years! For years we have rung in the new year with our great friends, the Scots. We stay at home and enjoy each other’s company with bubbles flowing and devour a fabulous meal. This year’s highlights were no exception: Cream of Cauliflower soup from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc At Home, a ruthless game of Pictionary, and we stayed up past Midnight without any injuries.

Thank you for reading! Here's to much more fun and laughter in 2010!

** Post your favorite highlights of 2009 here**