Lawn Signs

Periodically I do a 6-7 mile loop walking thru Woodbury.  Just about half that distance is on Main St. (Route 6), but most is off the main drag. {Sidebar 1:  it is a stretch to consider any road in Woodbury as truly a main drag}. And on my walks I encounter any number of signs stuck in the ground fronting homes, churches (we have 4 in Woodbury!) & places of business.

Many signs give thanks to the essential workers… giving well-deserved thumbs up to everyone in the chain of keeping our lives together. And then there are many signs with this signature: “Hate Has No Home Here.”

We are also in a Presidential election cycle, so there are lawn signs supporting specific Presidential candidates, and other aspirants in this election year.

My observations:

1. Only a few folks put out lawn signs. Although there are more “Thank you” & “Hate Has No Home Here” signs out there than signs of political endorsement.

2. Several examples where signs in a location only offer down ticket candidates, and there is no association with the Presidential head liner.  Why is that? {Sidebar 2: I can remember the day when signs would not only note the candidate’s name, but also his/her party affiliation. I rarely see that today.}

3. There were a few locations where there were signs for both “Hate Has No Home Here”, and a sign for support for a specific Presidential  candidate.

Question:  On the locations that had both Hate Has No Home Here and a sign offering support for a Presidential candidate – who would you guess that candidate to be?

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Slow Cooker Jambalaya & 2017 Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les Jours

Jambalaya is a dish with West African & French Provençal roots and tinged with a Spanish influence. The dish typically consists mainly of “meat” and vegetables mixed with rice.  It’s nearly impossible to exaggerate how great this recipe is, and more critically, the ease of its assembly. This dish is as close to “idiot proof” as it gets.  It’s trickier to make a decent peanut butter & jelly sandwich!  I am confident that there are other ways to make Jambalaya without using a slow cooker.  But why?  Why add complications to your life on a “football Sunday” when the path to culinary happiness is a straight line from “put everything into the slow cooker before game time, turn it on and forget it ‘til the last 15 minutes when it’s time to add the final ingredient and cook the rice”.  Dinner served at half time of the second game!!

For wine I was looking for something that offered good fruit flavor, brightness on palate, nicely textured, but not “voluminous”.  A wine that has a clean finish and that would encourage the next forkful of Jambalaya. I found it in a modest Syrah produced by Andrew Murray Vineyards.  A Cru Beaujolais would also do well here (e.g. Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent), as would a Rhône Blanc.

Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les Jours ’17 (Santa Ynez Valley, CA)
The 2017 Syrah Tous Les Jours is supple, fruity and delicious, not to mention an incredible value. Dark cherry, plum, lavender and spice are all pushed forward. There is so much to like about the Tous Les Jours, including its modest price. Once again, the Tous Les Jours over delivers big time. 90pts Wine Advocate

{for the wine video, click on this link}

6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into fork-sized chunks
1 lb andouille sausage cut into 1” slices
1 large onion chopped
1 red bell pepper sliced
2 stalks celery thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
½ tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb shrimp

1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size.  Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming.  Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!

2. Add all the ingredients (except for the shrimp) into the slow cooker and stir.

3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

4. Swim 3500 yds & walk 7 miles (or watch the football game)

5. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add in the shrimp

6. Serve over rice.

n.b. With regards to the rice:  classically, recipes call for rice to be cooked with the ingredients, unlike Gumbo and Étouffée which is served over rice. That said, I loved this atypical approach for Jambalaya. Next, the shrimp: the bigger the better.  Also, I don’t peel and devein shrimp before cooking.  It’s an excuse for me to plunge my fingers into the food. 

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“Tous les Jours”: Andrew Murray Syrah

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Martini Construction

As you may be aware, there are few things I hold as dear as a superbly made Martini.  And it is rare that I find an “away” Martini ever comes close to what I create in my “home court.”  The one time was some 40 years ago (give or take a year or so) at Victoria & Alberts in the Grand Floridian, when our server wheeled out a damask covered cart with all the fixings hidden from view… then he brought all the necessaries top side and proceeded to make my Martini at the table… with the same élan and skill set used in making steak tartare at the table.  Extraordinary theater.  I loved it.

Yes, a deserving nod of approval goes to V & A. 

However, I stand by my claim (with only a hint of hubris) that my Martini is a reference point cocktail.

For a demonstration of the construction of my Martini, click on this link:


 p.s. When we went back to V & A a few years later they had discontinued the “Martini Service” at the table.

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