If Eve Tempted Adam with an Apple…

what could she do with a good hard cider? I have tried and enjoyed a few hard ciders, but usually think that one is enough. They are just a little too sweet for me. But, I have now tasted Original Sin. And I loved it. Light, refreshing, appley effervescence.  I was as intrigued by the story as the cider. I spoke with the founder, Gidon Coll, during a recent tasting at Central Market in Austin. His family’s farm, located in upstate New York, went out of business twenty years ago. Instead of giving up, he used this as an opportunity to change gears and start growing apples and producing cider. Educated at Cornell’s School of Agriculture, he enlisted the help of a local winemaker and, after much trial and feedback, Original Sin was born. Can you think of a better name for hard cider? Another product he let me sample was a Newton Pippin Single Heirloom Varietal Cider. The Newton Pippin was a favorite of our founding fathers and makes a brilliant cider. Hoping to indulge in Original Sin? Their website has a list of distributers…and you won’t even have to go to confession.

OSHA approved

Lunch break. Many of you are thinking…Huh? What is that? I am usually loading the dishwasher, refereeing the patrons, and julienning tonight’s veggies while grabbing bites of last night’s cold leftovers or the crusts of P&J. That is “lunch.” But I would encourage you to take the term “break” literally. Sit down, enjoy your salad, catch up on mindless blogs or your latest Real Simple. It is good for the soul.

For me, when I take even fifteen minutes for myself while the kids are napping/resting, the day is much happier. It doesn’t look like I pictured it when I had visions of staying home with my children. I am not coiffed, lunching with a friend at a cafe while my cherubs happily (silently) color, but it is a welcome break in the middle of the day.
Now, if you are like me, you vacillate between reading something productive, challenging, and reflective in hopes of being a better parent (and feeling wholly inadequate), or, simply put, trash.  With that in mind, I have two new finds to share with you.

The Parenting Passageway is centered on a creating a peaceful, loving environment for her homeschooled children using her experiences in pediatric physical therapy (and other professional qualifications), faith, and Waldorf techniques.  I haven’t dug too deeply yet, but have found some good gems already.

On a slightly different note, I am loving the snarky humor of  dear winebuyer.  Please check out the ode to, or shall I say “eau-d” to a buyer with a penchant for bad cologne in smells like my highschool boyfriend.  I think we could be friends.

What is your guilty (or not so guilty) nap time pleasure?  Share your favorite books, websites, shows, etc. that you sneak in while the little ones catch a few z’s.  Who knows?  We may even stretch our lunch “break” to a full OSHA approved hour.

Buon Compleanno indeed

Salute to the wonderful people at La Traviata for making my birthday dinner extra special.  I have been a bit overwhelmed as of late (thus the lack of posts) so my birthday planning this year gets a C-.  Fortunately, our lack of reservations did not stand in the way of us popping in to this Austin Italian gem.

There was a decent wait for a table but we were able to find a spot at the bar which, truth be told, is preferable when I am in a social mood. I love chatting with fellow patrons, with the bartender, and the casual feel of dining at the bar.   The menu has many classics, some with a twist, and it is not terribly expansive.  This, in my opinion, is a good sign.  Do a few things well. Oh, do they.

We started with the Beef Carpaccio.  It was the best I can remember having.  Arugula, pine nuts, shaved parmesan, and truffle oil.  The surprise?  Fried radicchio wedge.  Crazy, I know, but it was silly good.  The bitter crunch of the radicchio really put an amazing dish over the top.  Yum.  It paired wonderfully with an ’09 Valmorena Barbera d’Asti.  We also shared a salad with beets, orange segments, and goat cheese.  Tasty, straight forward, no surprises.  Then, we asked both Ryan, our gracious server, and Marion, the super charming owner, to recommend a pasta.  Both said the Carbonara was a must have.  It is something I would never let myself order normally, but it was, after all, my day to spoil myself.

Great presentation: a nest of spaghetti tossed with pancetta, onion, cream, lemon, and served with a locally farmed egg yolk on top.  So decadent. So delicious.  So glad we split it.  Marion shared that the dish is traditionally a hangover cure.  Um, pretty sure it could cure anything.

We finished the meal with a cantaloupe champagne granita and tiramisu.  Any plans to stay out were put to rest with the Carbonara, but I was not complaining.  We so enjoyed our time at La Traviata.  Thank you to Ryan and Marion for making it extra special!  Happy belly, Happy Mama, Happy Birthday.

Wine-  ’09 Valmorena Barbera d’Asti -Medium Bodied,Yummy, fruity, peppery delicious

Paired with Beef Carpaccio-A

Paired with Carbonara-B I might not have selected it to go together but it worked.  Or maybe I so focused on the pasta that I didn’t even taste the wine at that point.

Labor (Day) of Love?

Ah, watermelon…the perfect summer treat…thirst quenching, low calorie, full of lycopene and Vitamin A….and citrulline.  Haven’t heard of it?  Let’s just say that according to a Web Md article, it has some interesting benefits for the man in your life (wink, wink).  I recently cut into a watermelon which had great flavor but it was lacking in texture (not firm and juicy, more mealy-not-worth-eating).  But because of my resistance to wasting food, I decided to seed it and stick it in the Vita Mix to make watermelon juice.  I used some for popsicles for the kids, froze some into ice cubes, and made cocktails with the rest.    Here are a few creative ways to incorporate watermelon (and watermelon juice)  into your Labor Day menu:

Watermelon Mojitos (Serves 4)

8 oz (1 cup) Rum

2 oz Simple Syrup (water, sugar warm till dissolved)

4 oz Lime juice

About 6 oz Watermelon juice

About 10 mint leaves

12 oz seltzer

Mix all ingredients other than seltzer, muddle mint leaves into liquid.  Pour over ice, add seltzer and stir.  Mint garnish.

Watermelon Basil Lemonade (serves 4)

2 cups lemonade

1 cup Watermelon juice

1 cup vodka or rum

1 cup seltzer

10 basil leaves

As above, mix all ingredients except seltzer, muddle basil, pour over ice, add seltzer and basil to garnish

Watermelon Feta Salad

Cube watermelon, about 6 cups

1/4 of a sweet onion, sliced thinly

Crumble in about 1/4 cup feta

Chiffonade Mint leaves, a handful

Sprinkle with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper

Watermelon Lemonades Popsicles

Equal parts watermelon juice and lemonade, pour in pops and freeze

Happy Labor Day!