We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Be a Beet

by Michelle

   My sisters and I will on certain occasions repeat this phrase to each other: Indigo, Indigoing, Indigone. It's all because of a certain sensational author who lives in the northwest somewhere in or around Seattle. Probably a good thing I don't know exactly where because I might, in my wildest dreams, find myself ringing his doorbell and inviting myself in for a cocktail. It's probably not a unique thought, but a universal thought among women who read his novels. Based upon his writings, I imagine he gives great conversation (and there is no inuendo intended in this sentence, I'm sure). When things get tough, I remind myself to be a beet.

   "At birth we are red-faced, round, intense, pure. The crimson fire of universal consciousness burns in us. Gradually, however, we are devoured by parents, gulped by schools, chewed up by peers, swallowed by social institutions, wolfed by bad habits, and gnawed by age; and by the time we have been digested, cow style, in those six stomachs, we emerge a single disgusting shade of brown.
The lesson of the beet, then, is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you're brown, you'll find that you're blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means:
                                ~Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)

Baked Beets

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Fort Bragg Blossom Cocktail

My Traveling Tales by Linda

   I am in love with a tiny and rustic beach town which lies on the rugged and rocky Northern Coast of California. Fort Bragg lies a few miles north of the better-known town of Mendocino, and over the course of my years of living in Northern California, I have come to prefer spending time in Fort Bragg rather than staying in its touristy cousin, Mendocino. When in Fort Bragg, I like to stay at a small motel which is situated on the rocky and wild headlands, where I prop open the door to my room and drench my stressed out work-self in the sound of the pounding surf and the cries of the gulls and pelicans.

   Fort Bragg was home to the Pomo Indian tribe before there was a reservation established in the area and a military outpost built in the mid-1800s. In more modern times Fort Bragg became a logging town and also supports a commercial fishing industry. It has remained small, and is not as popular as a tourist destination because it lacks the amenities that one can find in the town of Mendocino. For this reason it has become a favorite spot for me to relax, comb the beaches for sea glass and to be tempted at every turn with amazing opportunities to take photos.

   Another activity that I enjoy is wine tasting, and the drive through the Anderson Valley on the way to Fort Bragg presents opportunities to stop at world-class wineries. Navarro Vineyard has become a de rigueur destination on my trip up North and over to the coast. 

Navarro's sheep munch the weeds in their vineyard rows, eliminating the need for herbicides.
Navarro Vineyards displays just a few of the many medals and ribbons
that they have won at competitions in their tasting room
   Aside from the gorgeous panoramic views that Navarro Vineyards offers of the breathtaking Anderson Valley, there are many varietals of outstanding wines to be sipped, and since their wines are really only offered at the winery, it makes the stop an imperative for me. In addition to the wines, Navarro bottles a couple varieties of grape juice. Christopher, one of the tasting room staff suggested to me that the juice makes a great addition to spirits... which got me to thinking. If you read Salvation Sisters regularly, you already know that I am the sister with the "bar car", and several of my posts feature cocktails that I have either recreated from our travels, or dreamed up for entertaining such as our Layered Cosmos, Blood Orange Cosmo, Margaritas , Pineapple Martinis, Fragalino Martinis and Strawberry Lemon Drop.
   Most likely you will need to have Navarro ship you their grape juice, but they frequently have one cent shipping specials, and you really can't go wrong with any of the wine that you choose. I have come to refer to their Alsatian blend called Edelzwicker, as "my house white wine". I buy it by the case along with my favorite red, their outstanding Pinot Noir. Have them throw in a few bottles of Pinot Noir Grape Juice with your order so you, too, can make this delicious cocktail at home.

The Fort Bragg Blossom Cocktail

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Best Ever Bolognese Sauce

by Linda

  Really good Pasta Bolognese is one of my favorite meals. The sauce does require long hours of cooking to reduce all of the veggies, meat and tomato sauce into a thick and delicious ragù, so I make it when I am going to be home all day. The sauce freezes really well which is the good news. Make the big batch and freeze the leftovers. It is great for entertaining, because your guests will be able to taste that you spent all day making that sauce… they just won’t know which day. I love to serve it on Christmas Eve, because after having worked long hours on one of the busiest days of the year in grocery retail, all that is required to complete a memorable feast is the addition of an antipasto platter, green salad and some garlic bread.
   I adapted this recipe from Anne Burrell who provides one of the few reasons that I ever watch the Food Network anymore. Her cookbook is great.
   I am planning my annual trek to Greenville this month to see my son Jordan. This dish travels well, so I will be taking it along as part of the homemade dishes that I will make in advance to fill up his freezer. I know that all of you who are mothers understand my compulsion to know that my unmarried (take note single ladies!) son has some dishes to enjoy after I am gone that are made with love from Mom.

olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled
sea salt and freshly cracked ground pepper
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 6-oz cans of Muir Glen or 365 tomato paste
3 cups drinkable red wine - if you don't want to drink the wine, don't cook with it
3 bay leaves - fresh or dried
1 fresh thyme bundle

about 1/2 to 1 cup whole milk, if desired
1 pound spaghetti or your favorite gluten-free pasta
Parmigiano-Reggiano for finishing

1. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, drop the cloves of garlic through the feed tube to mince. Stop the motor, add the onion, carrots, and celery and purée into a coarse paste. In a large stock pot over medium heat, coat pan with olive oil. Add the puréed veggies to the warm oil and season generously with sea salt. Cook until all the water has evaporated, stirring frequently, and the purée becomes soft and is cooked down with most of the moisture gone, about 15 to 20 minutes. Don't rush this stage, it takes time to properly cook the vegetables and to develop flavor. 

2. Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. Brown the beef. Don't rush this step. Cook another 20 to 25 minutes. Michelle's Note: If I am making a double recipe, I begin browning the meat in a separate skillet to save time. When I am finished cooking the meat, I deglaze the pan with enough red wine to pick-up all the browned bits. I add this wine to the stock pot with the cooked veggies.

3. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine thoroughly cook until brown about  5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Add milk (if using) and filtered water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Over the course of the next several hours, as the water evaporates, you will need to add more water, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't worry about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out, so if you think it needs more water, add more water. This is a game of reducing and adding more water to develop the characteristic deep flavors of Bolognese Sauce. Adding all the water at the beginning would result in a boiled meat sauce rather than developing a rich, thick meaty sauce over time. You will likely need to add more salt. Add some now, and check again towards the end of cooking. Simmer for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

5. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the pasta. Make a habit of always salting your pasta water once it reaches a boil; about 1 to 2 tablespoons will do. The water should be as salty as the ocean. Don't skip this step. Ever. When the water is at a rolling boil add the sea salt (Michelle uses Diamond Kosher Salt), and then pasta, stir frequently. Cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
6. While the pasta is cooking remove half of the sauce from the pot and reserve.

7. Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining sauce. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or one big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pass more at the table. Serve immediately.
8. Alternatively, for a baked pasta dish to serve a crowd, cook penne or ziti, as described in step 7. I tend to only cook one pound of pasta at a time, but it is probably okay to boil two pounds if you have a large pot and adequate water.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...