Film; Precious

I finally watched the film Precious.  It was not, surprisingly, as difficult to watch as the book was to read.  I guess if you are well prepared for abuse and incest then you can desensitize yourself.  I watched it with Dr. J and my parents none of whom had read the book but knew to expect the above mentioned. 
The film is excellent.  I still liked the book better, as I always do, but I did not hate the film- which I usually do. 
The cast was amazing.  Mariah Carey who plays a social worker is really a talented actress.  I don’t like her music and the bit I have seen of her public image on MTV Cribs and Perez Hilton gives the impression that she is an attention seeking diva (aren’t they all- or aren’t we all!?). 
The role of the mother is played by Mo’Nique who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this film.  Her portrayal of this nasty human being produced in me a physical revulsion.  Although I never felt sorry for her there is a scene where she is talking with her daughter and the social worker that was excellent in the novel and played well in the film.
The actress who plays Precious, Gabourey Sidbide is a newly discovered talent.  In her first staring role she does an excellent job of carrying the film. 
Often I feel that films ruin novels and dumb things down for general audiences.  
Such was not the case for this film.  I encourage everyone to see it-


Santa Barbara Marina and Brophy's Seafood Restaurant

The waterfront marina in Santa Barbara is approximately 252 acres of tidelands with mooring and storage facilities for boats. The amazing array of botanicals along the boardwalks and beaches adds to the beauty of this place. Truly a place of inspiration, sitting on the patio of one of the many beach side restaurants or taking a long walk is highly recommended.

Brophy Bros. a seafood restaurant that was established in 1986 by a local family, the Bennett’s makes the best clam chowder on this side of the coast. (I am partial to Cape Breton chowder but this chowder was amazing and had a great ratio of seafood to potatoes).
We ate a whole bowl of boiled clams, shrimp and mussels with amazing sourdough bread dipped into the tasty broth. 

Furthermore the Margarita’s are amazing and the Bloody Marys use fresh homemade horseradish.
The restaurant participates in the Sustainable Seafood Program so you can be certain that the meal you enjoy is not over-fished and does not produce unnecessary environmental damage in its fishing.

119 Harbor Way
Santa Barbara, CA 93109
(805) 966-4418


Santa Ynez- Wine Tasting-

Wine tasting is a fun educationally entertaining activity. When we first got married Dr. J and I went to Napa Valley, California and had an amazing time. I also did a ‘wine tour’ in Cape Town, South Africa. To this day I remember wineries I visited and what we enjoyed about particular wines. I am a big believe of ‘if you experience something you will retain it more readily’ and wine tasting is no exception.

During a tasting you will be taught the finer subtleties of what to recognize with each glass. How it was made, what the process was and even what type of dish it can be enjoyed with.

Santa Barbara is the closest wine region to us and we went yesterday to do a few tasting.
Taking San Marcos Pass to the San Ynez Valley is in my opinion the most gorgeous area in the United States (disclaimer- I have not been everywhere in the US!) The wineries there are amazing and the views are spectacular. If there was ever an untouched Eden this might be a representation of that.

Bridelewood was my favorite vineyard on this tour- for the record it was not Dr. J’s- He preferred Melville’s winery which I crossed off my list because the view was not as spectacular and they did not make Port wines, which I love.

Most tasting provide you with a wine glass to keep and give you a sampling of 5 to six wines.

The tasting at Bridlewood started with a 2007 Chardonnay from Monterey County, made only in stainless steal vats and not the common oak barrels. The taste was light and “was crafted to emphasize the pure ripe fruit typical of the region.” I am a red drinker and I like my whites to be crisp so this wine was delightful.

The next wine was a 2007 Viognier reserve which had a lovely guava taste- Dr. J felt it had more of a pineapple taste. It is described as having aromas of “white nectarines, honeysuckle, tangerines, citrus…a blend of tart guava, peach and grapefruit with a creamy texture.” This white was a good combination of flavor and texture not often found in whites.

Our first red was the 2007 Arabesque a Southern Rhone-style blend which was a combination of red fruits (cherry, pomegranate, strawberry, raspberry) and smoky tobacco and cigar flavors a result of the oak barrels it was made in. I felt that it had a spicy flavor and could taste a hint of cedar wood.

The Syrah Central Coast a 2006 was my favorite red. It would be perfect with a beef stew on a cold winter night in front of a raging wood fire. It is described as opening “with aromas of smoke, cedar, and chocolate leading to bright cherry fruit” and of being “full of soft, chewy tannins”. I don’t know if I like using the word chewy when describing wine but it is a full bodied wine which coats your tongue in pleasant flavors.

The last wine was a predominantly coffee flavored wine which “opens with blackberry jam, violets and plum.” This wine was think and had a strong alcohol taste.

We also tried a port wine and dessert wine which were not on the regular tasting and they were both amazing.
There are two fantastic cheese shops in Santa Barbara on State Street, Say Cheese and The Cheese Shop, both of which have knoledgeble staff and a wide selection of amazing cheese, smoked meats, olives, dried fruits and wine.

Bridlewood is located at 3555 Roblar Ave, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
And you can order all of their wines from their website at http://www.bridlewoodwinery.com/


Fresh Spring Rolls-

My family loves appetizers and I usually make them every night. A regular we’ve been having lately is a rice paper, fresh spring roll.
We add a variety of fillings such as sprouts, spinach, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, avocados, cilantro, mint, tofu, shrimp and chicken. To me they are like eating a mini salad before dinner.
We usually eat them with peanut sauce which Dr. J makes in bulk and we freeze- He will not let me share his recipe but you can google peanut sauce or buy it at Whole Foods.
These are very easy to make, we buy the rice paper at the Asian market-

Start by chopping up the fillings. Sauté tofu in sesame oil and  use cleaned and cooked shrimp.

Each 'paper' circle is soaked for about ten second in a shallow pie dish filled with warm water and it becomes malleable.

You fill the center with your filling

Fold the sides

Fold the end and roll
I didn't get a good photo of the final product but they look something like this:

These keep well for about 24 hours in an air tight refrigerated container, wrapped in wet paper towel.


Asian Market

Two out of four of us hate going to the Asian Market. The smell sends Gman into a fit of olfactory over stimulations making the whole experience unpleasant.
Today we had the opportunity to do a little shopping without the monkeys.

The seafood selection is amazing and they have a large variety of live and freshly killed fish and shell fish.

We also get all of our sushi grade seafood at the Asian market.

We did not pick up the dreaded duran- The smelliest fruit IN THE WORLD.


Cheese Fondue or Fun Doo

Spring is in full gear over in our neck of the woods so I felt I was long overdue to host a fondue party. I love cheese and there is no better use for cheese than dipping things into it and calling it a meal. Since we have a set (thanks C.) I usually host at least one fondue party a winter. We did it once as a NYE party and it was great. Making chocolate fondue is fun as well.
A throw back to the 1970’s when they gained popularity in North America fondue sets can be found at flea markets and consignment shops abound. When I lived in Switzerland cheese fondue was not something that many locals ate in their homes, however Raclette was a common meal. A Raclette cheese is a half round that is heated and then the top layer is scrapped onto individual plates; the term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning "to scrape".

I borrowed this image from: www.bonjourlafrance.com/.../raclette.html
I usually set out a few baguettes and other yummy breads (we love olive loaf), red skin potatoes (the small ones or you can cut them in half) sliced apples -make an exciting salad, and call it a meal.
(I didn’t take any photos of my exciting salad but trust me it was exciting).

The recipe we used is a slightly variated version by Tyler Florence from The Food Network
At Whole Foods I asked them to shred the cheese for me, alleviating that step of the process. 
We also used port, rubbed a lot of garlic and added a touch of lemon zest.
half a pound of Swiss Cheese
Half a pound of Gruyere
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Garlic to taste (a few cloves)
Cup of dry white wine
1 table spoon of lemon juice (and we also zested some of the peel)
1 tablespoon of Port
1 pinch of Nutmeg
1 dollop of Grey Poupon
The Directions we followed from Tyler Florence from The Food Network

This is a photo of the broth cooking before the cheese was added.
All four monkeys and all four adults said YUM.


Lady Ren-Ovation

I am an amateur do-it-yourselfer. Growing up my parents always hired people and at one point in time the house was ‘under’ renovations for two years (bad contractor story).

The first place Dr. J and I owned was our condo in St. Martin and the moment we moved in I started ‘getting things done’. The thing about living in the Caribbean is that there is a plethora of people to hire for anything and everything. Seriously you are doing a disservice if you don’t hire help- that is certainly what I told myself to justify my daily maid and nanny. Over the course of many years of studying Feng Shui the concept of doing things for yourself around your home, mindfully, has ingrained itself into my ideas and given me (a sometimes false) determination.

I love the house we live in right now. When we first moved in I hired a bunch of people to do things but we also taught ourselves fix and redo- thanks in part to U Tube and Wiki-how-to!

For the last two years I have been BEGGING Dr. J to redo the kitchen cabinets. They were in near perfect condition just not the color I wished they were. Because Dr. J is THE BEST husband in the world (or is it because I am THE BEST nagger in the world) we just finished the biggest home renovation project we have ever done.
This is what our cabinets looked like prior to our kitchen makeover-

Keeping in mind that I wanted to be mindful in the process, I used natural environmentally conscious cleaning products and recycled rags. We washed all the cabinets and removed the hinges and hardware carving corresponding numbers under the hinge of every drawer and cabinet.

We then sanded the cabinets and rewashed them.

Sanding the frames in the kitchen was probably the biggest pain but with lots of prep we were able to keep the dust mostly in the kitchen.

We then put two coats of primer, on both sides of the cabinets which of course involved drying them thoroughly before flipping.

And primer on the frames.

Choosing the color was no small feat. I likened it to choosing my second monkeys name. We were well into the project before we chose- In the case of naming, we were well out of the hospital before we chose.

We applied two coats on the cabinets and frames and let everything rest for two days- (Actually Dr. J left for two days for a bachelor party on the Las Vegas Strip- Congrats B and A).

Drilling the cabinets back on was much less painful than I had anticipated. With the numbers easy to coordinate and no screws missing, we were done in no time.

We could not be happier with the final result. I have my dream kitchen and all it took was some sweat, dust and a few buckets of paint.

Please check out all these wonderful Party Links that I linked to- Thank you so much to all the hosts!

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