Lola Loves….Wine!

WINE!

It seems like I have wine on the brain of late. Maybe because it is such a great time of the year to enjoy a good glass of wine — not that I have ever had a bad glass of wine—out of doors! Since bugs have not taken over the patio yet, this is the perfect time to sip a glass of your favorite white or red outside, even if that means putting up a pop- up tent to get out of the rain.  Look at this way, the rain may be soggily dampening our spirits, but at least it’s not SNOW!

If you are adventurous like me — I didn’t get to be a sassy pig by sitting around at home — enjoy your wine in a new setting. Indulge in a glass of locally produced wine, fruit or otherwise. There are lots of great wineries to peruse that are nearby too! From Maple River Winery’s award- winning Rhubarb Wine to Richwood Winery’s now infamous Buffalo Red, you don’t have to travel too far to get great locally produced wine! Did you know there is also a whole ND Winery Trail to explore as well? With stops at Dakota Hills Winery and Vineyard, Point of View Winery and Bear Creek Winery, I am itching to venture done this trail and try all their blends.

I, of course, love to cook with alcohol, and the last time I checked, WINE is alcohol.  I add it to sauces to add fun and flavor. Check out my now infamous Chardonnay Caramel and Merlot Fudge sauces. Besides lots of zing, they go great with Bourbon Bundt Cake and Double Chocolate Rum Brownies! Wow, that is like a double shot dessert!

So live it up, try a new wine and see where the road takes you! Remember my motto: Have hooves; will travel; enjoy life!

Lola Loves….Cruisin’

Cruisin Broadway-Downtown Fargo starting June 6: Top down, wheels shined and ready, I am ready to cruise the streets or at least one very special Fargo byway, BROADWAY. Known for being the drag of Fargo in years past, the Fargo Downtown community is embracing its past by playing host to Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey “Cruisin” Broadway event. Held the first Thursday of each summer month: June 6, August 1 and September 5, it is the height of cool. Just go to their website at www.downtownfargo.com for more information!

Lola Loves…. Shady Hollow Flea Market

Shady Hollow Flea Market: Sundays June, July and August!  Located 5 miles south of Detroit Lakes on US Highway 59, Shady Hollow Flea Market is a great place to check out new and used treasures as well as summer-fare foods (which I know a little about!)  Weave your way through the unique market’s 3.5 acres of shaded, grassy grounds, Sundays in Memorial Day to Labor Day. Plus, they are open extra “bonus days” over the big holiday weekends. Featuring 23 permanent vendors selling from their cute lil boutique cabins, there are also 150 daily vendors hailing from all over the tri-state area. So there are always new things to see but inventory changes fast!

I am combining my passions of wine and art at the flea market this year. Check out my wine bottle creations starting mid-June.  Frankly, I had to do something with all those left over bottles. Lola loves her wine 🙂  Now besides, drinking it and cooking with it, I am also making beautiful art pieces. Hey, I’m even recycling. I am a wonder pig!  Check us out next to Peggary every week (you know, the PINK cabin!)

All spices are not created equal

I always thought that the TV chefs that ground their own spices and espoused the benefits of using freshly grown herbs from their “kitchen garden” and acted like we should too were being a bit pretentious.  I mean I live in Northern Minnesota and have three kids and multiple careers.  Don’t I have better things to do?!  But it turns out good spices really can make the dish!  In fact, adding good quality spices is one of the simplest ways you can transform a forgettable dish into something memorable.

There is also good reason to not only be wary of the spices we buy at the grocery store but pay a little more for the “good stuff” (or grow your own).

Products on the shelves of your average grocery chain my have been there for a year or more, and may have even sat in a warehouse up to a year before that. Since the average shelf life of ground spices maxes out around six months, chances are you’re buying stale spices. Most of these spices are of poor quality and may even contain nasty contaminants.

So what can you do?

  • Purchase whole spices and grind them yourself to retain maximum potency and ensure a fuller flavor. Whole spices will stay fresher, longer.  You know what you are getting with whole spices. Ground spices may have other ingredients such as salt, rice or flour mixed in and FDA regulations do not require suppliers to list these add-ins as ingredients. Also, ground spices are not required to be free of contaminants.
  • Grow your own herbs.The best solution for sourcing dried herbs is to grow your own! Or buy from a friend or family member who has a garden. Hang bundles of fresh herbs upside down to dry.
  • Buy in smaller quantities so that your herbs and spices are used up regularly and you receive the full benefit of their flavor and aroma.

Check out this blog for even more great information about sourcing, storing and cooking with spices!

http://www.simplebites.net/what-you-need-to-know-about-buying-storing-and-cooking-with-spices/

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