Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday: Accademia Salad

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

As many of you know, the Eatwrite family just had a marvelous trip to Italy.

This trip was sort of an early graduation present for C, who will be graduating from high school in June of 2011, but we figured that next year, he'll probably be doing the college visit thing or we'll just plain be putting everything into saving for college.

So there it is.

We went to Florence in February, with a brief taste of Venice.

From a culinary standpoint, it was also Tuscan, with a brief taste of Venetian.

On somewhat the spur of the moment, we signed up for a Tuscany day trip, which included stops in Siena, an organic farm and winery (for a spectacular lunch), San Gimignano and Pisa. It was all spectacular, with the exception of Pisa, which is touristy beyond touristy.

C wasn't feeling his best that day, and while he greatly enjoyed the trip, when we got back to Florence, around 6:30 p.m., he was ready to crash. D and I, however, wanted dinner, and the tour guide on our Tuscan trip had suggested one of her favorite restaurants within just a 10 minute walk from our lovely B&B.


So, we set off for the Ristorante Accademia, on Piazza San Marco, and had just a spectacular dinner there. I have to warn folks, that we also had a far-less-than-spectacular dinner there later - it's a restaurant with a split personality - "foreigners" in the front, and Italians in the back, with commensurate service, quality, etc. The food, however, was universally good, and they had a great, local, by-the-glass wine selection both times.

The first dinner we were introduced to the salad below, which was one of our favorite eating experiences in Italy (which is really, really saying something). It's just a great combination of flavors, and while I haven't completely captured the quality of the Accademia salad, I think most of the basics are here, and those who've tried it Stateside have seemed to like it.

Happy What's Cooking Wednesday!

Accademia Salad


1 TBS good quality olive oil
1 tsp good quality honey (if you can get Tuscan honey, so much the better)
2 TBS Looza peach nectar, or the equivalent (I've also made this berry juice - even cider might work)


2 large handfuls of watercress (I've been using arugula, since watercress isn't in season. I've also made this with winter spinach, and that worked well, too, but the bite in the arugula is a bit better)
1 large pear (preferably bosch), sliced into thin wedges
2 TBS toasted pine nuts
1 - 2 oz. EITHER pecorino Toscano (if you can find it - this is best, but also price) OR Basque sheep's milk cheese, Parrano or Pecorino Romano all make good substitutes - each has a different feel), shaved thin in strips
pepper to taste

1. Take a large bowl and put in the dressing ingredients and whisk HARD. The honey is just not going to want to emulsify, but persevere! Once you've gotten everything blended, let it sit while you fashion the salad.

2. Wash the greens and dry thoroughly and spread at the bottom of the salad bowl. Slice the pears on top of the bed of greens. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the pears. Shave the cheese on top. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper to taste, and drizzle the dressing over all.

3. Eat and enjoy!

Nutrition facts:

* Fat: 8.8g
* Carbohydrates: 12.8g
* Calories: 138.4
* Protein: 3.9g

As always, nutrition information supplied by the recipe calculator at sparkrecipes.com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The dishes are clean. The house is getting aired-out and springified.

The taxes have been sent off - both ours and my mother's.

We are now clearer on goals for our house, for C's future, for our next stage - whatever that is.

My writing group is more active than it's been in years, and I've been absent.

I have full notes on the trip to Florence sitting in e-folders.

I spent from 9 - 1 yesterday playing at a magnificent poetry workshop given by Scott Beal, whom C is also lucky enough to have as his short story workshop leader. Even better, I got to play with Anno at the workshop.

It was the perfect entree to my enforced leave from writing.

Happy Spring.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year End Meme

I got this meme from Michelle, at Bleeding Espresso, who first saw it at Sundry Mourning, who originally copied it from Gwen’s Petty, Judgmental, Evil Thoughts back in 2004.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

I became a "professional" food blogger and learned that it's not something I enjoy doing.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I make goals, rather than resolutions. I'm getting close to meeting some of them and haven't touched some of the others.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! Gorgeous Aiden Van Erik Tyler was born!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, sadly.

5. What countries did you visit?

Bermuda, Canada

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A quiet year with no major family traumas.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 20th - the Inauguration - what a day!
March 26th - the day my mother moved to Michigan.
May 26th - the day my mother moved to her new home in Michigan.
July 5th - the day Aiden was born.
September 22nd/23rd - the days Sarah and Amy turned 25, respectively. YIKES.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Starting a yoga practice, as odd as that might sound.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm trying not to put things in these terms.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Ugh - let's not even go there.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Three books by four friends: Luisa Perkins's Comfortably Yum, Karen E. Olson's The Missing Ink, and Charity Tahmaseb's and Darcy Vance's The Geek Girls Guide to Cheerleading.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
many ordinary people with their heart in the right place (I'm using Goofball's answer here, because I like it!)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Intolerant people. Those who claim to be one thing, but behave in ways that show they don't stand for what they say they stand for.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The basics.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The local food/artisan food movement in Michigan!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

"At Last" sung by Beyonce to the new First Couple.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?
happier, same, same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
reading books (ditto Goofball again - it's true!)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Food blogging

20. How will you be spending New Year?

with family at home

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

Um... well, continued to be in love?

22. How many one-night stands?


23. What was your favorite TV program?


24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don't think hate is a useful emotion.

25. What was the best book you read?
Really hard to say - I loved many.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Again, hard to say. I like Owl City at the moment, but only in small doses.

27. What did you want and get?

Some more free time or permission to myself to take it.

28. What did you want and not get?

Enough of that time. Health and life for loved ones of friends who died.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I can't pin this down, either. Maybe Julie and Julia, just for Meryl Streep/Stanley Tucchi.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

For the big 5-0 I sat in a small ship's cabin waiting for maintenance to do something about the black bilge water coming up through our bathroom pipes. Then we had a nice French dinner in the evening. It wasn't my favorite birthday, despite the French dinner.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Fewer crises for family and friends. More political change in the U.S. than what has actually happened. I'm worried our system is irreparably broken.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

Health care.

33. Who did you miss?

Not seeing enough of my exchange daughters/son.

34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Eat rhubarb wet from the rain
Beautiful fruits all the same
Pears, oranges, and grapes from the vine
Children it is the earth's time." From "Children Play with Earth" by Arrested Development

35. I wish you all a happy satisfying healthy loving 2010. Have a good celebration and a fun start of the new year. All best wishes to you all!!!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Just Have to Write About How Awesome My Husband Is

We're not so big on presents at the Haines house. I think all three of us feel that there's too much emphasis on "things" in general in this country, and that most holidays should be celebrated for their spirit, rather than for getting things.

One thing we share with various family members, for example, is sending donations and/or homemade gifts, rather than more traditional presents.

SOMEthing from your spouse, however, is always nice. And this is an area in which Dave has had some problems.

In any marriage, there are things you find just amazing about your spouse, and there are probably some things you wished were just a little bit different.

One things I wish were a little bit different about Dave is that he tries so hard at finding just the "right" present or card that often I've ended up with nothing at all. And yeah, that's created some doghouse moments.

This Christmas, when Dave asked what I wanted, I said, "anything simple, but I want a couple of things to open on Christmas morning - I don't really care what - just see what you think will work and don't spend more than $30 altogether."

I hoped I was making it easy, but maybe that was too directive. You can weigh in on that.

I expected that maybe I'd end up with a couple of paperbacks, and maybe some candy or something.

What I got instead was total awesomeness. Dave showed up and then some. The man is OUT of that doghouse!

First off, for those that know me, know there are few things I love more (well, other than family and friends) than coffee and my guinea pigs. So what does Dave do? He combines them:

Can I just say how much I love my new coffee carrier? I can't imagine anything better. And since Dave is a talented photographer, the pictures he chose are simply wonderful. Unfortunately, I am a horrid photographer, so you'll just have to imagine how great this mug looks.

My second item was Fellini's Amarcord. This is a favorite of mine from way back. And he remembered. As I said, awesome.

The last and maybe best was something he made for both Connor and me, but each was personal. Dave is always coming up with "million dollar ideas". It's a family joke, and every time Dave says he's got another one, Con and I kind of roll our eyes. Most of these ideas are real stinkers. If they were truly million dollar ideas, well, our lives might be different. (Or not).

Anyway, each of us received a booklet by a Dr. Silas Pepperpotdottson of our "unique and personal assortment of $1,000,000 ideas." Connor's were ideas for video games, and mine were ideas for restaurants. They were absolutely hysterical.

Here was my favorite:

Motto: The localist food in the universe
Image: A spoon containing grass, ants, leaves and a cute mouse
Target niche: People who really care

Local is in. Microvor is taking the Locavore revolution to its logical end. This "restaurant service" brings you a meal made entirely from food that's found no more than 100 feet from where you live. Make a reservation and the Microvor chefs will arrive at your doorstep with their aprons, attitudes, and nets. They spread out to make creative and unique meals just for you from the food found in your yard, your home, your basement, your attic, your bedsheets. Anything edible is fair game for their knives and their acute and creative minds. No one will ever eat a meal like yours again!

These people are in it for the love of it. If you have a house you get the super-fresh ingredients (grass, spiders, mice, moss) of whatever you have living in or outside of your house. If you live in a leaky, 4th floor walk-up, they'll love the challenge of creating a unique meal from your native flora and fauna before the food inspectors catch up to them.

Microvor is pricey but unique. It's so unique that each franchise comes with a film crew, a slot on the Food Network, and a whole set of liability waivers fully tested in court."

Now, is that a million dollar idea or what?

I'm telling you, my husband is made of awesome.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happiness and Love and...

Peace for the New Year.

December has been a challenging month. I miss everyone and am sorry I haven't been around reading or writing. I hope to rectify that in early 2010.

To all those who celebrate - a very Merry Christmas.

Belatedly, Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrated.

Happy New Year to ALL.

And for those who might have expected cards... I still hope they're coming.

I'm so. far. behind.

Again, peace, love and happiness to all readers here and for all the Earth's children everywhere.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Music Monday: "Baby Are You Down, Down, Down?"

My friend Pat, one of my writing mentors and all around great friends sent me this video clip recently.

I loved the "Where the Hell is Matt" project, and if you haven't seen it, you can find it here.

This is a similar project, but focused on bringing awareness of breast cancer. It was also part of an effort to get Medline to donate a huge amount of money to St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, OR. They had to get 1,000,000 hits for this on youtube, and the current tally is 1,599,499, so they made their goal and then some.

The folks in this video are Medical Center employees, and as you can see, they were joyous in their participation.

To all our sisters fighting this disease and to all of their loved ones (and a special shout-out to my friend, Linda, who is going through a bone marrow transplant on Friday to fight myelofibrosis):

Happy Music Monday. For more participants, go visit Soccer Mom in Denial.