Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Well, Autumn has arrived! We woke up to temperatures in the high 40's today and now it's 55 degrees. I finally wore my corduroy jeans after years in storage and we even inagurated the fireplace! The neighbors must think we are craaaazy! A walk to the lake with the dogs was a disappointment as the lake is pretty high and the dock has shifted to one side. Oh well, it was a gorgeous day, anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pasta With Marinara Sauce

This is my go to meal when I haven't planned ahead and need something quick. It's all made from the staples I keep around in my pantry. What makes it special is the Marinara Sauce, which is quick, authentic and delicious...what you get in Italy and in only 20 minutes. The recipe is adapted from Lidia Bastianich, co-owner of three New York restaurants, several cookbooks and the celebrated PBS show, Lidia's Italy. I used to stay up until 1:00 a.m. to catch her show on PBS. Use what you need and freeze the rest for a million other things like Bruschetta, Eggplant Parmeggiana or another quick meal of pasta. It is also a good base for Penne alla Vodka. That's why I keep a bottle handy in the freezer! Use the best and freshest ingredients, after all that's what makes this simple sauce great.

This recipe was originally posted in my main recipe blog, Lindaraxa's Garden in March 2009. I use it in so many of my Italian recipes that I decided to post it again in this blog. Keep it handy, you will need it!

Marinara Sauce

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic peeled
1 box Pomi Crushed tomatoes(or one 35 oz San Marzano tomatoes seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
1/2 tsp. sugar
Crushed hot red pepper (go easy!unless you like it hot)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Black Olives for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Bring to a boil and season lightly with the salt, sugar and red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook, breaking the tomatoes with a whisk or a spoon (if you got the can of whole tomatoes) until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil* about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper, if necessary. Set aside.

You can bring to a boil and cook the spaghetti while the sauce is cooking if you are pressed for time. I prefer to cook my sauce first and let it settle. It will get thick but I thin it with water from the spaghetti just before I pour it off the saucepan.

*Do use fresh basil and do not chop until right before you add it. Herbs release their best aroma when they are just cut and you want this released into the sauce, not the counter.


Boil the spaghetti for about 10 minutes in a big pot with lots of water and a dash of salt. Don't skimp on the water! This prevents it from sticking in the pot. When the spaghetti is almost done and before you drain, take one or two laddlefulls of water and add it to marinara sauce to thin. If you want to eat it like a real Italian add the spaghetti to the sauce, not the other way around, and cook it in the saucepan for a couple of minutes. This and the water helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Add freshly grated Parmeggiano-Regianno and enjoy. I serve mine with a baguette and a tossed salad.

Wine suggestions: Peppoli from Antinori, if you can afford it, or Santa Cristina, the least expensive of the Antinori wines. Monte Anticho, found sometimes in the supermarket and fairly inexpensive, is also good. But stick with Italian wines, preferrably from Toscana-- remember terroir! P.S. You can find Peppoli sometimes at Costco, at great savings. It is one of my daughter's favorites.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rubber Duckie....

This part of the lake will never be the same now that a Westie and a Lab have moved in.

Today I made the crucial mistake of taking the dogs to the lake by myself. I've never seen such a mad dash to the water. Lily, the lab, is a master swimmer and diver. Lucy on the other hand, just waddles along as fast as her little paws can take her. She hasn't dived off the dock yet, but it's only a matter of time.

I took them down around noon to see how our end of the lake had fared during the deluge we had last week. The lake was beautiful. The water clear, hardly a cloud in sight, the noon sun high up in the sky and a family of ducks eating up the whole scene until these two came barreling down the hill. Lily does not even stop, she just dives off the dock. Lucy wades in from the shore but soon catches up to her new sister. I am just mad at myself for forgetting the camera at the house and failing to catch such a beautiful scene for my blog!

We spent about a half hour on the dock with the dogs, playing, running around and splashing in the water. The trouble happened on the way back to the house. I must have taken a wrong turn and ended down by a brook with a quaint little bridge that led to some houses on the other side of ours. That's when I lost sight of Lily and guess who behind her.

All my neighbors must know by now that the new family has a dog named Lily and another one named Lucy. I kept calling their names but nothing, not the slightest noise. Then I looked up at one of the houses and saw Lily on the deck; but I couldn't see Lucy and I can always see her, she's so white! Finally, I saw her near the deck except she couldn't climb up. Well, down and up I went, across the bridge to the other side of the brook yelling and screaming until finally they decided the hide and seek game was over. Off the porch they went, back down to where I was, at 100 mph and damn it if Lily didn't lead me up the right path back to the house.

By the time we got back they were so muddy I had to give them both baths, towel off Lily and blow dry Lucy, who will follow me around the house until I dry her and put the collar back on. Then it was time for me and another shampoo and shower. By 2 pm I was so exhausted I put on my nightgown and crawled back into bed! That was the extent of my day today. Welcome to the lake, city girl!

And the Floods Came...

By now, our lake has been all over the news as reports of the floods in North Georgia circulate around the world. We are fine, all five of us. Unfortunately a lot of people did not fare as well. Nine dead in the state so far after 20 inches descended around the Atlanta area in a week. The only good news so far is that water levels at the lake are now only 3 feet below normal, after 4 years of drought.

"Drought-stricken Lake Lanier, which stands near the head of a water table that serves Atlanta and parts of Georgia, Alabama and Florida, rose 3 feet (1 metre) in the recent rain.

Two years ago the lake was at record low levels but now it stands just 3-4 feet (1-1.2 metres) below the 1,071 feet (326 metres) above sea level considered its full level during the summer, said Lisa Coghlan of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Mobile, Alabama.

At the height of a drought in November 2007 the lake's level fell to 1,052 feet (320 metres), Coghlan said."

For pictures of the lake after the rains visit



For great pictures of the flood in Atlanta and all around us visit:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It hasn't stopped raining since I arrived a week ago, Sunday. Great weather for unpacking but not much else. I drove for 11 hours straight with my Westie, Lucy, who loves the car ride and sleeps much of the way...but it's company. The moving van was pulling out just as I was driving in around 5:00p.m. I was grateful for that. The house was a total surprise in spite of the fact that I picked it out off Craig's List. It is much larger than it shows in the pictures and even more charming. Great layout except for the fact that there are three levels and the kitchen is a bit small in proportion to the rest of the house.

I have only been able to go down to the lake once, the afternoon I arrived. It has been raining since then, on and off, everyday. I'm beginning to worry about the boxes still in the garage, but we are pretty high up here. The other problem is the pets, they dont want to go out in this rain! I've had to push the dogs out and we've already had an accident...thank heavens the cat has her litterbox (I hate cats). More later...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Start to Finish Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

This recipe works as a salad on its own or as a filling for a wrap sandwich.


5 scallions, white and greenparts, finely chopped

1 small fennel bulb, core removed, very thinly sliced

1 'Granny Smith' (or other firm, tart apple), peeled and cored, thinly sliced

2 cups cooked quinoa (or substitute wheatberries, farro, or brown rice)

Meat from 1 whole roasted chicken, roughly chopped, about 3 pounds

1 cup toasted pine nuts

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large mixing bowl, combine ingredients and toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Annie B. Copps, Yankee Magazine
Photo: Steven Vote


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