Friday, July 31, 2009

Just leave it alone, would ya!

Ok. I'm not really mad. Just slightly annoyed.

I went into Williams Sonoma recently to buy a refill for the soap in the bathroom. I have some history with the soap, and apparently I am not alone.

We bought the soap, lotion  and holder about two years ago. We have it in the bathroom that Elli and I share upstairs. It took a while to go through the soap. When it was just about gone I went to Williams Sonoma to buy a refill container or replacement.  

Much to my surprise, they changed the packaging from a round cylinder to an oval cylinder. This is no good! It won't fit in the holder. Bummer. Lucky for me I could just transfer the soap into the old container. Not a big deal. But slightly annoying none the less.

So this past weekend I went to buy another refill. Of course I remembered my experience the last time I bought the soap. So I was a little curious about what I would find.  Aha!  The package was back to a round cylinder.  I grabbed a new round one (not the refill container. It was $42. Yikes.) and headed to the cashier.

Here's where it got interesting. A sales associate was busy chatting with a customer. No big deal. She saw me right away and started ringing up the soap. 
She asked if I needed the pump.  At first I said no, then I said yes, just in case they did something weird with the size of the pump. I then told her my story about the round vs. oval bottle.  

Well!  She then turned on me. She shook her finger at me and said, "It's because of customer's like you, that they turned the packaging back into round containers." She gave me my receipt and turned her back to me to go back to her conversation with the other customer.  What? Did she just scold me? I thought the whole idea of the soap thing was to buy one. THEN COME BACK AND BUY MORE. Which is exactly what I was doing.

Anyhow, I got home and put the new soap in the holder. Of course Williams Sonoma cannot leave anything alone. They changed the label. So now my soap and lotion don't match. Sigh.....

Thursday, July 30, 2009


RN74 is not what you might think. It's one of chef Michael Mina's restaurants in San Francisco. Who is Michael Mina you ask? Well, he's been awarded some top chef honors and has quite a restaurant collection as part of his restaurant company. I haven't eaten at any of his restaurants. But I'm intrigued now that I've been to the bar at RN74. 

Wilfred and I hung out here for an hour or so last week. We like to play a little game at the bar. We have the bartender pour us a few wines from the wine list. Then we try to guess what they are. It's always fun.  I'm not very good at the game. I can rarely identify the varietal, forget about identifying which one it is on the menu!

We had a great bartender today. His name was Jose. He picked some really hard wines. We didn't do very well guessing. But most of the fun is trying wines you might not have selected.

Of course as we're sitting there Wilfred is taking pictures of the restaurant, our stuff, the wine bottles. We draw a lot of attention. Before you know it Wilfred is passing out cards and make friends with everyone in the bar. He's a really friendly fellow. And a bit of a superstar since his name is all over BevMo! People recognize his name and love talking to him.

We could have hung out there for a while. But he had a dinner meeting at Town Hall and I had to get home. I wish I could remember the wines we tried.  I really liked the Syrah. Good thing Wilfred documents everything. I can get the name from him later.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My little monkey.

See no evil. Speak no evil. Hear no evil. Makes for a very sweet girl.

There all kinds of definitions for this old proverb. Many people simply take the proverb as meaning not to be snoopy, nosy or gossipy. Others use it to describe someone who doesn't want to be involved in a situation.

It's easy to be a bad monkey with all the internet has to offer. I hope my little one learns to be a good monkey.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I really think I need one of these.

My friend Wilfred told me I had to check out this website called Enobytes Wine Blog.  He was leading me to it for one thing, then I saw this wine cellar and went crazy.

According to the website, if you store a few dozen bottles for a month, or year, or more - than you need one of these in your home! Yippee! Can't wait to tell Don. We do like to store wine at home. And I have to say, it's not very impressive pulling wine out of the hall closet. 

The wine is all shelved, but since our house is tiny, the only space for long-term storage is the hall closet.  It has a tendency to get covered in snow boots, luggage, bags, golf balls, etc. Which is all part of keeping the wine at just the right temperature. I'm sure of it. (I had to pull the vaccuum out so you could actually see the wine.)

A secret staircase leading to a spiral wine cellar would be awesome! I seriously love stuff like this. How cool would it be to have a glass trap door that winds down to your wine cellar. This is stuff you only see in James Bond movies. 

"Excuse me?  You'd like to try a bottle of blah, blah, blah? Let me just get it from the wine cellar!" Your guests will ooh and aaah.  They won't care if you bring up a bottle of Challis Lane! It will taste like a million bucks to them! 

Don't fret if you're not building a house and want one. They can put one in an existing home. They have an example of the team installing one in someone's garage floor.  Pretty cool.  

I'll just put it on the "Would be so cool to have, but will probably never get." list.

You have to check it out.  

Dude, Where Did You Hide The Wine Cellar?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Carbo loading for the big race.

On Sunday we hosted my brother-in-law Mike and his friend Budd at the Mulkey Inn. They were in town to run in the SF Marathon. So we had a pasta dinner to get them carb loaded for the race. (Bet you thought I was carbo loading for a race, right? Ha. Ha. Ha!)

Since tomatoes are so plentiful I looked for a summery recipe that called for fresh tomatoes. I found one in my Food & Wine Magazine Cookbook, Quick from Scratch Pasta. I made another recipe from this cookbook this week that was totally delish, Tortellini with Garlic Sage Butter Sauce.  But more about that on another day.

The recipe I chose was Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce. The picture in the cookbook looked so fresh and yummy I knew it would be perfect. 

The sauce is uncooked. You basically blend everything in the food processor and pour it on the hot pasta. It kind of reminded me of gazpacho. The taste was so fresh and full of tomato and basil flavor. Perfect for a summer pasta dinner.  The key to this recipe is fresh ingredients. Fresh, ripe tomatoes. Good olive oil. And good, quality pasta. I used a variety of heirloom tomatoes of every color.

Since the sauce is not cooked I used olive oil that we don't use for cooking, but use for dipping bread, salad dressings, etc.  You can use your evoo that use for cooking. But if you have another you might want to try it.

Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce

2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 T good olive oil
1 1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
2/3 c. lightly packed fresh basil
1 pound fusilli pasta
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. In a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, garlic, oil salt and pepper and puree. Add the basil and pulse just to mix.

2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fusilli until just done. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and the parmesan cheese. Let sit for about 1 minute to allow the pasta to absorb some of the liquid. Serve with additional parmesan.

And of course you need wine.  Our cyclists didn't drink any wine. But Don and I had a glass with dinner.  He cracked open a bottle of  '06 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley that we picked up at Sebastiani winery in Sonoma.  

It was quite tasty.

In case you're wondering, Mike did great in the race.  YEAH!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The SF Chronicle recommends the Testarossa Pinot Noir

The other day I wrote about visiting Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos.

Today they are a featured wine in the SF Chronicle for Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.

Rob and his wife were both in the high-tech world before getting the wine bug. They now put their technical passion to work combing old-world wine making techniques with state of the art technology. Pretty cool.

The Chronicle describes the wine as: ripe, concentrated oakier style. Fairly sleek, with tart cherry acidity that lingers on the finish.

None of the picks are cheap. But if you're going to choose one I would pick the Testarossa. 'Cuz Rob is such a nice guy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fresh + Simple = Delicious

I went to Los Gatos yesterday morning to meet with Rob Jensen, owner of Testarossa Winery. We will be doing a photo shoot with Rob in a few weeks.  So this was a pre-shoot meeting to try and nail down the type of shot and where we would shoot it at his winery.

He's a really nice guy. I got a great tour and lots of good ideas to pass on to the creative folks here at the agency.

Los Gatos is the cutest town. Reminds me of Mayberry. All the houses were colorful and cute and the street just seemed so friendly and nice. I know that sounds kind of lame. But it was!

After our meeting I just had to stop and find a place for lunch. It was noon afterall. And that is my lunchtime. The first place I spotted was The Purple Onion Cafe.  It looked casual, quick and relatively inexpensive. 

I ordered the Toasted Tomato and Cheese sandwich. It was made with a yellow heirloom tomato, manchego cheese and basil mayo. So simple. And yet so delicious. It came with a side salad made with the freshest greens and edible flowers. I can't wait to go back for another lunch when we do the shoot in August.

I love finding cool little places like this. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I love it when things go right!

I love days like yesterday. I got a lot done at work.

I received the FedEx package I was waiting for. Yeah!

I had everything on hand to make dinner - pesto pasta and a fresh tomato salad. 

It's nice when everything falls into place. 

You can't beat fresh pesto for a quick, super-flavorful dinner. I made it fun for Elli and served it with shell pasta- which are perfect with pesto.  They grab the sauce beautifully. 

For a salad I sliced some mozzarella, piled on diced heirloom tomato's and fresh basil, then drizzeled it with a splash of balsamic and olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Both dishes were so flavorful and yummy. I - LOVE - SUMMER!!!

I never used to make fresh pesto. I don't know why. It's so easy to make. It helps to have a food processor. But it really couldn't get any easier. Throw basil, pinenuts, parmesan and a little salt and pepper in the food processer. Chop it up. Gradually pour in the olive oil. Done. 

In food processor combine:
4 cups basil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 clove garlic
dash of salt and pepper

Slowly pour in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Toss it on hot pasta. And dinner is served. Save the extra pesto.  I usually just throw it in a small ziplock and freeze it for another time. Then I really have an instant dinner.  Yeah!!!!

Open a bottle of red wine and bon appetite!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good News.

I'm happy to report that I received my FedEx from the Legacy Resort.  And all is well. I got my wallet and jewelry back. Phew.

Never give up!

On Saturday afternoon I discovered that I left my wallet and jewelry pouch in the safe in the hotel room in Phoenix. Bum-mer. It would have been nice if I remembered before we left Arizona.  But no.  I discover it in the car on the way home to Mill Valley.

I immediately call the hotel and ask if they can check the safe for me. The woman at the front desk says that the new occupants couldn't get in the safe when they checked in the room, so they called security to open it for them. And that there was nothing there. 

Hmmm. I'm not buying it. I know I left my stuff in the safe.  

I call back and ask to be connected with room 3103.  The operator asks for the guest name. Busted. So I tell her the story and she says that no one has checked in the room.  WHAT?!  Ok, now I'm not happy. I ask to speak to a manager. The manager tells me they checked the safe and nothing was there.  She's sorry. I argue with her about it. And ask if she would please just check. She won't.

I am furious. I don't believe her.

So I call back again and ask to speak to the security manager.  I tell them the story and BEG them to check the safe.  After much arguing, I finally get them to agree to check the safe. They said will call me back in 15-20 minutes.  Great. It was a very long 20 minutes of me tapping my finger on my phone willing it to ring.

I finally get a call back from Kelly, the security manager. And what do you know. MY STUFF WAS IN THE SAFE!!!!!! I KNEW IT!!  

I should receive my wallet and jewelry via FedEx today. Hopefully everything is in tact.

I'm still a little shocked that the front desk lied to me.  And that I had to beg everyone to check the safe for me. I'm sure this sort of thing happens all the time. Why didn't they believe me?

Hopefully it will end well this afternoon.

Moral of the story: never, ever, give up.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My love for Bobby and his BBQ continues....

So today I was reading the newspaper. Shocking, I know. I went right to the good stuff. Parade Magazine.  And what do you know, Bobby Flay has an article called "Winner Chicken Dinner".  (I'm sure this was a SNL skit or something.) Anyhow the recipe was for grilled Tangerine Honey Chicken and Herb Potato Salad. It had my name all over it. So I bailed on the rest of the paper and headed to Safeway.

The article said the recipe was easy and inexpensive to make. It didn't say speedy. I don't know about you but a potato salad recipe with roasted garlic takes a while. And boiling 3 cups of tangerine juice to 1/2 cup takes a while too.  Plus I had tot go to several stores to find it. So if you make this give yourself a little time. I made the marinade and the dressing in the morning so dinner prep was actually fast and easy.

We invited a friend and her daughter over for dinner. Everyone loved the food - even the kids. They really liked the potato salad. Go figure! I also made grilled corn on the cob and we had Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches and watermelon for dessert. Perfect for a Sunday dinner in the summer. 

I highly recommend this for a summer BBQ.  The rub and accompanying sauce will cover more than 4 pieces of chicken.  You can probably cover twice that.

We were all in the mood for red wine tonight. So Don opened a '05 Roshambo Syrah which was quite tasty with dinner. 

Tangerine Chicken (photo from
Grilled Tangerine Chicken

3 cups tangerine juice or tangerine-orange juice (or orange if you can't find tangerine)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup honey
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 T. paprika
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. dry mustard powder
2 t. ground fennel seeds
2 T. canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz. each)
2 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

1. Combine the juice and thyme in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup; remove the thyme stems and discard. Whisk in the honey until incorporated and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
2. Heat grill to medium-high. 
3. Stir together the paprika, cumin, mustard powder, fennel, and 1 teaspoon each of the kosher salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Brush both sides of the chicken with the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Rub the top of each breast with some of the spice rub and place on the grill rub-side-down. Cook, without touching, until they’re lightly golden brown and a crust has formed, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the breasts over, brush the tops liberally with some of the glaze, flip them, and continue cooking until juices run clear.
4. Remove from the grill, brush the spice-rub side with more of the glaze, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled New Potatoes (photo from

Grilled New Potatoes With Herb Vinaigrette

2 lbs. small red new potatoes
1/4 cup canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the potatoes in a pot of salted cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes or until a paring knife inserted into the center meets with some resistance. Drain and let cool slightly before slicing in half.
2. Heat the grill to medium heat. Brush the potatoes with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the potatoes on the grill, cut-side-down, and cook until lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and continue grilling until just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
3. Remove to a large shallow bowl and add half of the Roasted Garlic-Mustard-Herb Vinaigrette (see below). Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the rest of the vinaigrette over the potatoes and garnish with fresh herbs.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette (photo from

Roasted Garlic-Mustard-Herb Vinaigrette

8 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley 

1. Put the garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. 
2. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Add the parsley and blend a few seconds just to incorporate.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Birthday Ho Down

YEE HAW!! We went to the Rustler's Rooste to celebrate my mom's birthday. The place reminds me so much of the old Trail Dust restaurant in Dallas. They have a country western band, a slide down to the dance floor and all the food is served family style. We had a blast!

The kids must have gone down the slide a hundred times. My sister and I went down the slide and flashed everyone. The slide was fast and dumped you right in front of the main dining room. Kathy got rug burn on her bum!

In annoying Kris fashion, I dragged every person I could to the dance floor. I couldn't exactly remember how to do the two-step, but I did my best teaching everyone what I remembered. It was like I was back at TCU and dancing in the Fort Worth Stockyards again. As I'm trying to remember the two-step I realized TCU was a long time ago!!

Anyhow, we had an awesome time. The view from the restaurant was really nice. The food was pretty darn good and where else can you get cotton candy and a giant eclair on your birthday - that serves 20?

Today all the girls are going to a local dinner theatre for the matinee performance of High School Musical. I can't wait to see Troy and Gabriella.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Girls day out at the Aji Spa. Aaaaaah

I'm on vaca with the entire Poling clan in Phoenix. We're here celebrating my mom's birthday. Won't say which one, cuz she would kill me. She has the whole family here - all kids and grand kids, at the Legacy Resort in Phoenix. There are 17 of us - we're having a blast.

Yesterday all the grown-up girls treated mom, and ourselves of course, to a day at the spa. We picked the Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wildhorse Pass Resort. It's just a few miles down the road from where we're staying. It's gorgeous and peaceful. And wouldn't you know it - all treatments are half price on Tuesday! Woo hoo!

I'm not sure the Spa was quite ready for the Poling group. We're not exactly the quietest bunch. We had a great afternoon. We started with a lovely lunch in their cafe - which is where the laughter started. The chairs at the tables were made for people 6' tall so when my sister-in-law sat down her chin came up to the tables edge!

The food was awesome. Four of us had a salad with lump crab, watermelon, and a spicy chipotle dressing. My sister had a really yummy flatbread pizza and mom had a portobello wrap sandwich with the spicy chipotle dressing. All the food was very gourmet. And very delish.

We then moved to the pool. There wasn't a soul out there. So of course my mom, sister and I got to chatting. There was a grass hut on the edge of the pool. We we were curious what it was for, so we're asking each other, "Is it for massages", "Is is some sort of Indian thing?" Then a woman (guest) appears out of nowhere and says in a very quiet and serious voice, "It's a meditation hut." Oh. Guess we better hush up!

From there we got pedicures, relaxed in the lounge and shopped in the boutique. It was a really fun afternoon.

Today, we're off to a water park with the kids. It will be 114 degrees this afternoon. Holy schnikes.

Not exactly the Aji Spa.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rawan's Special Pasta Sauce

We had pasta last night. Again. I had to make dinner quick so I used a jar of pasta and ready-made turkey meatballs. It tasted fine. They make some pretty decent jarred pasta sauce these days.

But it reminded me that I haven't made my friend Rawan's sauce in a while.

So here is a re-post of her pasta sauce recipe. You really should try it. It's quite delish.

The addition of cinnamon in the sauce gives it a delicious, unique flavor that you will crave and want to make again. The good news is, most of the ingredients are things you probably have on hand. So it's a good recipe for those days when you don't know what to make.

Rawan's Special Pasta Sauce

4 T extra virgin Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 lb ground beef
3/4 can of tomato paste
1 1/2 t. dry basil
1 1/2 t. dry oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. cinnamon
Sprinkle of sugar
Salt and pepper
Box of your favorite pasta
2 T unsalted butter
1 T flour

In a medium saucepan, saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add ground beef. Cook through. Drain grease. Add cinnamon, tomato paste and water to cover the beef. Add basil, oregano, bay leaves, a sprinkle of sugar and a few shakes of salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and let simmer for 3o -45 minutes.  Add the roux to the sauce and stir. Cook for another minute.

To make the roux, melt butter and flour in a small saucepan. Let cook until golden brown in color. Add this mixture to the sauce.

Make your favorite pasta. Be sure to add a lot of salt to the pasta water. It adds great flavor to the pasta. And I'm not talking about a shake or two. Grab the Morton's and pour it in. (The goal is to make salt water.) Drain the pasta. Don't rinse it. In fact, it's ok if there is still a little pasta water on the noodles. Add the pasta back into the pot. Pour in the sauce and gently combine.

Serve with garlic bread and a simple tossed salad of lettuce and tomatoes and a light vinaigrette.  Of course you'll also need some wine.  A nice bottle of red should do the trick!