Sunday, November 27, 2016

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Binge Watching "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life"

Netflix via Wikipedia

As a big fan of the TV show Gilmore Girls, I decided to watch the first episode of four that make up the revival on netflix called Gilmore Girls: A Year on the Life. All premiering on Friday, each episode is named after a season. I didn't stop after the first though. I actually binge watched all six hours of the mini series over like an eight hour period today. It was wonderful. I really enjoyed watching it on my sofa.

I adored the show back in the day. One of the main characters was Rory and she was the same age as me (during both the series and the revival). I approved that she was smart and loved to read. I could relate. I was also jealous of the two main characters though. I loved Lorelai and Rory's dialogue. I love the way that they speak, squeezing a lot in quickly with confidence, which is something an INFJ can hardly ever do! My favorite humor is that which is clever, so I appreciate all the (pop and historical) culture references. Their lines were a bit of a departure from real life, but that's what I loved as their lifestyle and environment was a quirky and wonderful world to escape to. I did own all the seasons on DVD until I decided to sell them to fund a trip to Italy.

I think all the characters (except Mr. Gilmore as the actor died in real life, but the character's death was central to the plot) returned for the revival. I was so happy to see all of them! Even the town troubadour! It was a stretch to include them all though... It felt like some were just making a cameo. Would I want these cameos to be skipped for the sake of the flow of the film? No. It was like catching up with old friends!

The last (and seventh) season of the TV show was not written by its creator, so with the original team on board with this year's installment, they could end things how they intended nine years ago. It felt like a true extension of the series. Pretty much nothing had changed for the characters in those nine years though! That made things easy. There was one quirky part that was entirely too long and I completely hated the last words of dialogue that ended this miniseries, but other than those two parts, I loved the revival. I laughed. I cried. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Luke and Lorelai together. I suppose that I can understand the ending. There had better be more episodes after that cliffhanger though! Anyway, Gilmore Girls proved to be a fantastic escape from life once again.

I don't tend to watch a lot of TV, so binge watching something is something different for me to do this weekend. Since both watching the first episode and continuing to watch happened spontaneously today and I didn't plan in advance, I didn't do it Gilmore-style, binge eating (takeout and junk food) or coffee drinking, but that's okay. It's entertaining. I recommend binge watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It's like a book you can't put down.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Stocking Up on Wine for the Winter

Back on Sunday, October 30th, my friend Elizabeth and I ventured out to the wine warehouse called Total & Wine & More and then made dinner together at my place. This is the second time that I've been to this amazing store, but my first visit to their new location to a bigger place in the same shopping center. In their celebration of the new superstore, they mailed a coupon. If you spent $100 on 750mL or 1.5L bottles of wine, then you got $20 off. Initially, I had planned to spend $75 like my first big wine shopping excursion, so I played with my virtual shopping cart on their website until I got it just over the needed $100 subtotal. That wasn't perfect, but I actually managed to get the subtotal to $100.23 in store. With the coupon (and tax), my total was $87.45. I ended up with seven bottles of wine including a double bottle (1.5L)! That's like $11 a bottle. Such a wonderful value! I definitely wanted to stock up on some wine for the winter when I am no longer earning a lot of commission.

I picked up the following bottles of wine:

1. Radius Riesling
I wanted to have a bottle of either Moscato or Riesling for when I have my friend T over for a weeknight dinner. She likes a sweet white wine while I am the complete opposite with my dry red preference, so we pretty much have to have two bottles on the table. I actually served her this domestic wine from Washington last Tuesday evening and she liked it.

2. Bolla Chianti
This was my go to for years and what I often grab from the liquor store I can walk to. I already enjoyed this 1.5L bottle including when I was wining and dining with T.

3. Dom des Grandes Perrieres Sancerre
Sancerre is my signature white wine. I love when a wine is described as "elegant." I look forward to trying this particular crisp Sauvignon Blanc with my penne pasta with sun-dried tomato cream sauce dish maybe sometime during the winter. This was my priciest selection, but it was still under $20 after the discount.

4+5. Banfi Chianti Classico
This is my favorite red wine. I discovered it on my first visit to this store. It is the smoothest medium-bodied Italian red wine I have ever had. Check out an entire post dedicated to this signature red wine of mine. I grabbed two bottles, one I am enjoying this week and the other I am saving to share with another friend.

6. Gabbiano Chianti Classico
This was such a great value. It tasted of berry and pepper though and I happen to prefer a more smooth taste, free of spice and pepper. I remember that I first discovered that a wine could contain a note of pepper at a wine tasting at Boordy Vineyards here in Maryland. I don't think I'd purchase it again.

7. Rivata Prosecco
I wanted Prosecco because it is an ingredient in an Italian cocktail called a spritz. I intend to serve it in the summertime. This sparkling wine is also described as "elegant." That coupled with the price being right, I can hardly resist!

After this shopping trip, my wine cabinet was almost full, only two spots in the wire rack empty.

I did really well. Like on my first visit, I got an amazing value on the bottles I wanted. It was odd to be filling a shopping cart. I don't buy a lot of anything anywhere!

One of the bottles of Banfi is currently on the kitchen counter. 
This is what my wine cabinet looks like tonight, with just three unopened bottles from this trip left.

I would like to buy a bottle of tequila before next summer, so I can have blood orange margaritas throughout the season. I'm sure that I will buy that along with the Banfi Chianti Classico and perhaps something new to try if that's in my budget on my next visit to this warehouse.

Elizabeth picked up a bottle to try with dinner. We couldn't find anything we loved the description for that was reasonably priced and completely different. I suggested a South American wine, maybe one from Chile, but they didn't seem to be represented well in this store. We returned to the Italian section and I suggested Valpolicella, a rich red wine from the Veneto region. I have a fond memory of drinking this specific wine in Piazza delle Erbe in Verona on my last trip to Italy in 2011. Elizabeth and I both liked this wine with so much going on, but I don't believe either of us loved it. I was glad this Valpolicella didn't have a note of spice, which I believe stopped me from buying it before. I would purchase it in the future.

For dinner, we tried a new recipe: balsamic chicken. We both love this dish, but wanted to find a decent recipe for it. This one was delicious! The chicken was so moist. This was the best way I have ever prepared chicken. I am happy to now have this recipe in my repertoire. We served it on a bed of sauteed spinach. We also made my olive-oil roasted gold potatoes.

I have to sincerely thank my friend Elizabeth for helping me that day. I woke up with a cold on the previous day, Saturday. The morning of our outing, I sneezed and I suppose my muscles were tight at that moment because my back went out. I could function, but despite pain reliever (alternating with cold medicine!), was in serious pain every time I sat, bent or twisted for six days. She helped me carry the heavy liquids and probably helped more with the cooking. I am grateful.

I still did laundry at my parents' place as usual that Sunday afternoon/evening, but simply was not at my best to publish a blog post at the end of that particular exhausting day. I even set up those bottles and snapped those pictures while we were cooking, planning on publishing the same day, but it was too much. I am sorry that I didn't post. I will try to catch up on the blog, so please stay tuned!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Cranberry Scone

I baked cranberry scones from scratch this morning. Now, breakfast is basically taken care of each day this week. I tried this particular recipe from Martha Stewart that I found on Pinterest previously and wrote about here. I always intended to make them at least once every fall since that's when cranberries are in season. Because they are tart rather than sweet, I prefer to have them every once in awhile, when I feel like something different, just not on a regular basis. They're good and I recommend them. In addition, they are quick and easy to make. Pretty simple, I only had to pick up two of the ingredients at the grocery store this morning: half-and-half and fresh cranberries. I now have plenty of this fruit in my freezer.

Check out the recipe I tweaked...

Cranberry Scones
Serves 8.

2 c. all-purpose flour plus more for slab
5 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 c. half-and-half
1/2 c. halved cranberries
bit of powdered sugar for topping

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Wash and dry cranberries. Cut them in half and measure 1/2 cup. Leave to the side.
3. In a bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir.
4. Add butter and play with until mixture starts to resemble coarse crumbs.
5. Stir in half-and-half.
6. Fold in cranberries.
7. Dust slab with flour.
8. Knead dough 5-10 times.
9. Form into a flat 1-inch tall circle.
10. Cut into 8 wedges.
11. Place each wedge on a baking sheet a couple of inches apart.
12. Bake until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes.
13. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy.

They were delicious. I enjoyed not one but two scones warm out of the oven with a glass of sweetened iced tea while watching the latest episode of Barefoot Contessa at 10:30 this morning. I had already sipped shots of espresso much earlier. I look forward to pairing another one with coffee tomorrow.

I am sincerely sorry that I haven't been posting lately. I've truly had to deal with a lot lately. Even though some of all that will not settle down until the end of the month, I will still try to catch up and get into the habit of blogging regularly. I do love blogging and being a part of this community.