Food Mandalas by Shannon Sims

While attending Flora Bowley's Bloom True Art workshop last weekend, I was introduced to the nourishing genius of Shannon Sims - holistic health practitioner, nutrition guru and food mandala maker. Shannon provided workshop attendees with a delightful array of artfully arranged food throughout the weekend. I was so impressed with her plate creations that I hunted her down on Instagram to see more of her beautiful work. Here are some examples:












Shannon, thank you for taking such spectacular care of us. I immediately came home and made my own food mandalas for Thanksgiving. You're such an inspiration!

Dear readers, you can find Shannon at the links below:




As a side note: While I was browsing Shannon's gorgeous Instagram, I discovered an image from Stephen McCarty, whose food mandalas and plant based deserts are pretty mind blowing as well. You can find him HERE via Instagram. Here's a taste of his mesmerizing plant-based creations.






Dinner and Drinks | Gluten Free

Our new housemates have some specific dietary needs. One is gluten free and the other is a vegetarian. So I've been tweaking some of our meals lately. The other night, we had a particularly yummy adventure. I thought I'd share here!

The salad entree is a wilted spinach salad that I paired with a cauliflower, Portabello mushroom sauté. The second course was a bowl of Julia Child's garlic mashed potatoes, taken from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I also served a rosemary lemon vodka tonic cocktail with dinner. It was a weird set of things that all went together beautifully! Yay for happy accidents.






Wilted Spinach Salad with Marinated Onions in Mustard Seed Dressing
Recipe from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo


Marinated Onions:
  1/2 yellow onion sliced thin
  1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I used Bragg Liquid Aminos since we have a gluten free eater)
  Pinch ground black pepper

Mustard Seed Dressing
  1 Tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  1/2 teaspoon salt

Salad
  8 cups spinach
  2 carrots julienned
  Pinch ground black pepper

To marinate the onions, combine onions with vinegar, Braggs Liquid Aminos and pepper. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad. (I let mine marinate for two hours).

To make the dressing, combine maple syrup or honey, vinegar, oil, mustard seeds and salt into a small bowl and mix well.

Toss dressing, marinated onions and salad mix together and let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow for wilting. This is a raw, vegan, gluten free salad and it is delicious!



Portabello Mushroom and Cauliflower Sauté
(I made this up on the spot)

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
2 large portabello mushrooms, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, send through garlic press or finely chop
1 fresh sprig rosemary, stem removed and chopped
Pinch sea salt
Pinch ground pepper
Olive oil, 2-second pour

Heat oil in sauté pan over medium to high flame (I have a gas stove). Toss cauliflower into pan and sauté for a few minutes before tossing in the mushrooms. Add salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Either flip or stir ingredients in pan as they cook. I like to let my vegetables brown up a bit. After a few minutes, vegetables will soften. Serve when a desired consistency is reached. 

Apple Pie

During my holiday at my mother's farm in Eastern Oregon, Rob and Linda (organic orchardists from Eagle Creek Orchard) brought us two crates of late harvest apples. Forgive me for not remembering the variety. All I remember is the sweet taste.

I happily processed all of the apples with my Mom's hand-crank apple peeler and made two apple pies and multiple quarts of applesauce for my son, Charlie. It was such a pleasure to take beautiful whole organic fruit and create comfort food for my family. Thank you Rob and Linda for the Christmas bounty!

If you'd like to take a peek at their farm house in Eastern Oregon, check out my Houzz article HERE. Rob and Linda are tree whisperers and they've done incredible work on their orchard.









Also - don't forget to enter our Radical Homemakers giveaway!
Click HERE to enter to win 3 books by homesteader and author Shannon Hayes.


Enter HERE!

Homemade Pizza Dough


Hello dear readers and welcome to another installation of Radical Homemaking! I've decided to make this a weekly feature on the blog. It's become a big part of our home life and as always, my goal at La Maison Boheme is to reflect the real journey I'm taking with my family and our beloved bohemian home. I usually come back from the weekend with some kind of domestic morsel to share, so Monday seems like a natural day for my weekly feature.

For some of you, most of the changes I'm making will not seem radical in the slightest. But for me (a girl who grew up buying genetically modified food on credit) and my family, baking our own bread from scratch, gardening, composting, hang drying our clothes, fermenting our own yogurt and shifting our connection away from corporate America is totally new - radical even.

I've been experimenting in the kitchen this weekend. One of the unexpected gifts of living more simply is that my first reaction to almost everything is, "I bet I could make that". Last night my six-year-old wanted to order pizza. Since my husband and I are laser-focused on our budget - a plan to help us cut all ties to big corporate banks and their nasty credit cards - ordering pizza wasn't really doable. So, I rolled up my sleeves, poked through a few bread books and found a rustic whole wheat crust that would do just fine.






Now I just need to learn how to make my own wine to pair with the pizza!
What is your favorite pizza dough recipe?
Please share because I'm hooked.

Radical Homemaking | Homemade Food Staples



This weekend I've been experimenting in the kitchen, making food staples that my family consumes everyday. We spend a lot of money every month on yogurt and bread in this house. My son Charlie, as you may know, is a stroke survivor and has great difficulty swallowing food. And chewing? Forget about it. Needless to say he eats a lot of soft food - yogurt is his favorite. And my six-year-old seems to be on a fruit, peanut butter and bread diet. A loaf of bread can disappear in a day. So instead of relying on corporate food processing and packaging to fill this void in our diet, I am intervening.



BREAD
I used Amanda Soule's Everyday Oat Bread recipe from her book Rhythm of the Family. It was a lot messier and a lot easier than I had anticipated. The loaves turned out gorgeous and delicious and even my six-year-old is asking for more more more!







YOGURT
The yogurt was also messier and easier than I anticipated. I started with a gallon of whole milk ($3.50). After straining, I ended up with a little under a gallon of yogurt - about 14-15 cups. My son's store bought Chobani yogurt is $1.10 a cup and my homemade roughly comes to 25 cents (or less) a cup. I sure like that math! My kid eats 2 cups a day, so that adds up to huge weekly savings.

My yogurt turned out pretty runny, which sounds like a common first time situation, so I strained the whey using coffee filters. Next time I'll use cheese cloth like a sane person. I used a few online tutorials to help make this work. I found the following to be really helpful:







This was breakfast this morning!




SCONES
We drive through our local coffee shop at least twice a week and order a round of scones for the car. Cha-ching! So I've been making a round of scones at the beginning of the week for the past month. They're super simple and really good. The original recipe was from a friend, but I've added grated orange rind to these for flavor. You can add anything you like - blueberries, dried fruit, jam, chocolate chips, etc.



Scones

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 - 1 1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Topping (sometimes I skip this):
2-3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar

- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Stir and knead all ingredients together 
- Pull it apart into 8-9 even balls (or you can pat the dough into a circle and cut it into slices like a pie)
- Place pieces on ungreased pan
- Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (I use my fingers)
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (I tend to bake for 15-16 minutes)


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Why do you sometimes write about Radical Homemaking and what is that?
Radical Homemaking is a term I borrowed from Shannon Hayes's book, Radical Homemakers. Basically, I am in the process of transitioning our home life from one that is mostly centered around consuming (water, electricity, groceries, technology, services, etc.) to one that centers around creating and producing. I am inspired by the idea that we don’t have to rely on nameless, faceless corporations to feed, clothe, shelter and entertain us while they treat their employees poorly and poison the environment. So yes, less spending and more making. This involves, but is not limited to vegetable gardening, making our own food, composting, back yard chickens and DIY home improvement. We are doing this for economic, health and environmental reasons. Plus, it's just plain fun! I've written more specifically about this in the posts below:



Texas Road Trip & Food Tour

This weekend, I went for a little business trip to cover some homes for Houzz.com. And since the timing was so close to my wedding anniversary, I grabbed Jack, my darling husband, and brought him along! We spent two days and one night eating our hearts out through San Antonio, Austin and Georgetown, TX. It was marvelous. And I was also able to visit two very cool homes, which I'll share later in the month via Houzz.com. Take notes - all three of the restaurants we visited are worth going back to.


City: Georgetown, TX
Location: cutest Old Town Square in Texas
Restaurant: Gumbo's

Lunch Menu:
Mimosa
Fireman's Four (great Texas beer)
Fried Catfish Po'Boy with mashed sweet potatoes
Grilled Tilapia with parmesan-crusted asparagus
strawberry cheesecake


Gumbo's had a great Louisiana style atmosphere and Motown music in the background. It was the perfect place to take refuge from the muggy day and enjoy a beer and some kicky food. My favorite thing was the mashed sweet potatoes that came with Jack's catfish Po'Boy. It was off the hook, made with some kind of pork fat or something heinous that I would never eat in another context. Take my word for it - just order the sweet potato stuff and don't ask what's in it.


Old town movie theater marquee.

The side of an old Georgetown public building.

Town square centerpiece.

Alley.

Gumbo's restaurant on the square.



City: Austin, TX
Location: South Lamar
Restaurant: Olivia

Dinner Menu:
Soup and Salad...
a glass each of Domaine de Fontsainte Rose
Broccolini salad - house lonzino, almond, truffle, red onion, fried egg, brioche
Corn Soup - craw fish toast, blue basil pesto, garden herbs

Shared wine and apetizers...
A bottle of Hecht & Bannier's Minevois '10 - a grenache, syrah mix
Mussels - leek, jalapeno, beer broth, smoked ham hock
Oxtail Risotto (I can't remember all the amazing stuff in this risotto)

Shared entree...
Petite Filet - parsnip, marscarpone, bacon, red chard, Malabar spinach, grilled fig, sherry veal demi

Shared desserts...
Creme Brulee - sea salt, fresh berries
Peaches and Cream - peach semifreddo and sorbet, malted milk candy, roasted white chocolate
Coffee with cream (jack) and champagne (me, because why not?)


We wanted to go someplace special for our anniversary dinner, so Jack found Olivia at Fearless Critic, one of our favorite restaurant finding sites. This meal was quite possibly the best food I've ever eaten. Seriously. It was beautiful to look at, extraordinary to taste and the whole evening was elevated in a way that made me feel like I was a part of something artful and transcendent. The food at Olivia is all locally sourced and some of it grown in their own vegetable garden, which eaters are welcome to browse at the back of the restaurant. They also have a dozen or more hens that lay fresh eggs for the kitchen. Service was warm and knowledgable and as our waiter said, "I could talk about this food all day long." I will definitely be going back as often as I can afford. The meal was pricey, but worth every penny. Oh and whatever you decide to eat - please please please someone order the Oxtail Risotto because its so good it will make you cry.

Broccolini Salad

That's right, my man drinks rose.

The menu.

Mussels. 

View from our North Austin hotel room.

City: San Antonio, TX
Location: Rover Walk
Restaurant: Boudro's

Lunch Menu:
Frozen Prickly Pear Margarita
Guacamole and tortilla chips for two made table-side
Pulled Pork Sandwich with picked slaw (Jack)
Blackened Ahi Tuna Salad (me)
Coconut Flan with Caramel Sauce

It's hard to find food on San Antonio's famous River Walk that isn't super touristy. Let's just say there's a lot of corporate food down there. Boudro's is a happy exception. This little Texas Bistro is tucked into a womb-like cave with a small river side patio and serves up delicious gumbo, Tex-mex, and soul food. The prickly pear margarita was awesome and I recommend you try it out. I know what you're thinking... frozen?  Yes. Frozen. Drink it and you'll see. The guacamole was fresh and made right at our table by our chatty, adorable, red-headed waitress. Everything about this place says 'sit down, enjoy yourself and take it easy'. It was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

My man on the river walk.

Prickly pear margarita.







Neighborly Cherry Tomato Offerings

This weekend, one my wonderful neighbors brought me an overflowing bowl of organic cherry tomatoes from her community garden plot. After I ate a dozen raw handfuls, she suggested that I roast them with olive oil and sea salt. They were delicious!






How to roast cherry tomatoes: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut tomatoes in half and lay cut side up in a baking pan or cookie sheet

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt

Bake for an hour

Switch to "broil" at 500 degrees for 3-5 minutes for those tasty little blackened bits

Serve immediately with pasta or salad or focaccia (or eat them with a fork out of the pan as I did). Or put them in a jar filled with olive oil and refrigerate for later.


Scottish Shortbread

My childhood Christmases are chocked full of yummy food memories, but one in particular seems to always stand out. When she was alive, my Grandmother Jane would bake shortbread. She got the recipe from her sister-in-law, Ruth. I still have the recipe card with my great aunt Ruth's handwriting and every Christmas, I pull it out and bake a double batch for my family and friends. Its completely decadent, very easy to make and pairs perfectly with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and hot chocolate before bed. I thought I'd share the recipe with you...





Ruth Lambie's Scottish Shortbread

1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar

Blend above ingredients until smooth.

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cup sifted flour

Mix all ingredients to form a stiff dough.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into wedges, rectangles or use cookie molds. 
Bake in preheated oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. 
Cool for one minute on sheet before transferring to plate or tin.

Merry Christmas!

Red Velvet Pancakes


Yesterday, this happened: 




And this is how I did it...



I bought the mix at Target.  Since I didn't have cream cheese on hand, I was unable to make the frosting, but these babies were so rich and yummy, they didn't need a topper. Oye.

Spiced Plum Tart

This isn't a food blog, but these turned out so lovely, I thought I'd share. Today I got a big delivery of plums from my food co-op and turned them into a plum tart. It's my own recipe, dictated by what I had on hand.  And it was delicious!



Spiced Plum Tarts

2 roll out crusts (I used Pillsbury)

2.5 pounds of plums (diced)
3/4 cup sugar
3-4 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon Grand Marnier or Sherry
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) Mix ingredients in bowl and divide in half.
2) In the center of each crust pile the mixture
and fold edges over to create a bowl (see photo above).
3) Brush crust with milk and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top.
4) Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
5) Devour.

Makes two tarts, serves 8-12.



In the Kitchen Today

Today, I'm in the kitchen making a homemade bean soup for my family.  We're battling the winter sickies and its pretty cold outside. I've got two boys feeling under the weather and they'll need something warm and savory to see them through the day.  What is your favorite thing to cook up when the weather turns frigid and immune systems go on strike?

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I saw this cute kitchen conversion table at JPM yesterday and thought I'd share.
I need this reference sheet on my kitchen wall or tucked inside a cabinet door.

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Good Food

I've had lots of wonderful Christmas-y things to eat over the past week.  But tonight, I'm in the mood for something a little different.  My father has lovingly offered to take my children for the night while Jack and I enjoy an evening out.  I'm thinking some little rustic Italian place where I can get yummy fresh food and an espresso to top it off.  I'll let you know how it goes!

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For Oprah...

Since her show is now over, I thought I'd continue the tradition.  
Here are a few of my favorite things...


The best flavor combination I've ever experienced. 
These chocolates are so good you'll die a little death.



My favorite-est coffee ever!  I discovered Victrola when I lived in Seattle, 
one block from their Capitol Hill location. When I moved 
to Dallas and left Victrola behind, I was bereft.




I picked up the Patchouli lotion at a Whole Foods in Santa Fe and never looked back. 
This is not your Aunt Sunshine's hippy essential oil roller stick.
This is a mild and delicate Patchouli.


I am a sucker for simple, beautiful tunics.  And this one from 
Eileen Fisher has really captured my imagination.  I don't have it yet, 
but I know that when I wear it, it will be one of my favorite things.




Many of you know that I'm on a mission to lose 75 pounds this year.
One of the sweet snacks I've discovered on this journey is the LÄRABAR, 
a beautifully simple fruit and nut bar that I find delicious and perfect in every way.  




Note: the companies above have not paid me to write this.  
I mean, I wish they would pay me - that would be awesome.
But they didn't - I just like their stuff.

Dallas - The Stoneleigh Hotel

What: The Stoneleigh Hotel
Where: Dallas, Texas
Driving time from my house: 18 min



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Welcome to the final installment of my "backyard vacation" series.  Yesterday, I took you on a Southern style, down-home tour of South Dallas and the Oak Cliff area.  Today, we're going uptown for some sophisticated living!  Welcome to The Stoneleigh Hotel!  The original 1920's Art Deco design of this historic Dallas hotel has been meticulously preserved through a recent $36 million renovation. 


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Many of the rooms are designed with deep red accents and gray velvet club chairs.




The Penthouse suite was designed by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper and Company.
This is serious old-school Dallas luxury.



We've got a whole day in Dallas to call our own!  If its a beautiful morning, we'll head to the Nasher Sculpture Garden for some world-class art.  I love the Henry Moore pictured below:

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If, however, the weather is cool or wet, we'll spend our morning at Antiques Moderne, a consignment shop that boasts 20,000 square feet of mid century modern heaven.  Brandi from Flights of Whimsy just did a post on this place and I can't wait to go check out the amazing inventory.

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In the afternoon, we'll drive north on McKinney Avenue to the the Knox / Henderson neighborhood for lunch at Toulouse.  We'll start with their famous lobster bisque and an order of the Vol au Vent, a puff pastry stuffed with creamy Champagne leek fondue, roasted mushrooms and carmelized shallots.  To drink?  A French 75!



Then we'll stick around for some window shopping:


 For dinner, we'll eat at Avanti Ristorante, an intimate Italian place that has live music every night.  FI the weather is nice, we'll eat on the side patio.  We'll start with the Italian Ceviche and a Grey Goose martini up and dirty. 


And finally, back to our beautiful room at the Stoneleigh for the night.



Thanks, dear readers, for joining me on my five day journey through Texas on the lookout for great "back yard" vacations.  I've had lots of fun putting these posts together and I'm excited to take a long weekend in the near future to try one out! 

South Dallas - The Belmont Hotel

What:  The Belmont Hotel
Where: Dallas, Texas
Driving time from my house:  20 min




Today my "back yard vacation" series continues with a Southern style, down-home getaway in Dallas, Texas.  From our home, we'll drive 20 minutes south for a two-night stay at the Belmont Hotel, a super cute refurbished 1940's motor inn near the up-and-coming Bishop Arts District.

Belmont Hotel




After checking in, we'll visit their cozy cocktail lounge, The Bar Belmont, and enjoy our drinks on the patio, which has possibly the best view of the Dallas skyline. 


After our celebratory sans-children drink at the Bar Belmont, the hubs and I will take a short drive to Tillman's Roadhouse for some real Southern cooking.  When I tell people from Dallas that I've lived here for over three years and never been, they roll their eyes.  After looking at the menu online, I can already tell you what we'll order:  Salmon Ceviche to start and then an order of the Crispy Cornmeal Dusted Housemade Pickles for novelty.  I'll order the Grilled Pork Chop, which is served with coffee-goat cheese grits, shiner bock beer-battered green beans and lemon thyme cream.  Knowing my husband, he'll have a hard time passing up their famous Venison Chili Frito Pie.  Tillman's is also reported to serve the best mac 'n cheese in Dallas, so I may order that for dessert.  It's off the hook, ya'll.

Tillman's Roadhouse

After we've stuffed ourselves to the gills, we'll head to The Brooklyn Jazz Cafe on South Lamar in the Deep Ellum neighborhood for some cool cocktails and hot music. My husband and I love live jazz!


The Brooklyn Jazz Cafe

Back at our hotel for the night!



In the morning, we'll wake up with some coffee and a dip in the pool!  Dallas mornings are warm from April to October and a refreshing dip in the morning is sometimes the only way to cool off. 


After our swim, we'll need food.  Smoke restaurant, which is literally ten paces from the Belmont Hotel's front door, serves a kickin' breakfast.  Coffee and blueberry ricotta cheese pancakes for two please.  After our third cup of coffee, we'll drive to Riverfront Blvd. for some shopping at Lula B's, my favorite vintage consignment store.  Then, because we're history-loving-museum-happy-dorks, we'll spend our afternoon visiting the JFK 6th Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza. We've never been ... and frankly, how can we say that we live in Dallas if we've never been to the famous Book Depository?

The Book Depository above Dealy Plaza
Dinner?  Hattie's in the Bishop Arts District - yet another highly recommended Dallas eatery that I've never been to.  I've been told to order the fried green tomatoes.

Hattie's Restaurant

We'll finish our final night at the Belmont Hotel with a nightcap at Bar Belmont on that magical patio.  And if we plan it right, we might be able to attend Barefoot at the Belmont, an outdoor concert series that runs all summer.  Goodnight Dallas!


Tomorrow, my "back yard vacation" series continues 
as we head uptown for an entirely different look at Dallas, Texas. 

Marfa - El Cosmico

What: El Cosmico
Where: Marfa, Texas
Driving time from my house: 8 hrs 45 min




My "back yard vacation" series continues today in Marfa, Texas - a town in the high desert of far West Texas located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.  At almost 9 hours away from Dallas by car, this is the furthest destination in our series. While in Marfa, we'll stay at El Cosmico, which lies on an 18 acre plot of land in Marfa, Texas.  Opened in the fall of 2009, El Cosmico is described as "part art vintage trailer, yurt and teepee hotel and campground, part creative lab, greenhouse and amphitheatre - a community space that fosters and agitates artistic and intellectual exchange."  Makes one curious, doesn't it? 






El Cosmico offers accommodations in several renovated vintage trailers, reinvented yurt structures called eco shacks, a traditional 22 ft. diameter Sioux teepee, and a number of tent campsites. Visitors are encouraged to explore and use the communal spaces on the land including an elm grove full of hammocks, a community lounge and mercantile, and an outdoor kitchen and dining space. 


Marfa has some serious film cred and is the location where Giant (1956), No Country for Old Men (2007), There Will be Blood (2007) and other films have been shot.  However, Marfa may be most famous for the mysterious Marfa Lights, which are visible on clear nights between Marfa and the Paisano Pass when one is facing southwest. At times they appear colored as they twinkle in the distance. They move about, split apart, melt together, disappear, and reappear. Presidio County residents have watched the lights for over a hundred years. The first historical record of them is from 1883.





We'll get settled into our trailer for the night, drink some beer and enjoy the wafting sounds of a guitar from a traveling troubadour camping nearby.   In the morning, after watching the sunrise and enjoying a cup of strong coffee, we'll probably venture into town for a meal at the quirky cute Austin Street Cafe. Then we'll browse through the Marfa Book Co, which also boasts an impressive art gallery.  Actually, for a town of 2,100 residents, Marfa has a ton of great art.  My husband and I will probably spend the entire day gallery hopping.  Check out THIS impressive list of galleries.

Austin Street Cafe

On our way back to El Cosmico, we'll stop at The Get Go grocery store for some provisions.  Or maybe we'll be lazy and get something to go at the Food Shark.  I know it looks a little sketchy, but this little truck is reported to peddle some amazing Mediterranean cuisine.


...and then back to El Cosmico for a drum circle (because I'm sure my husband will bring his Jembe) or a soak in a Dutchtub or a nap in a grove of hammocks or all three. 




Tomorrow, we'll be trading the mysterious Marfa lights for the lights of Dallas.  Join me for a two-night stay in my own city.  No driving, great food and awesome accommodations - all in my"back yard".  Stay tuned!

San Antonio - Hotel Havana

What: Hotel Havana
Where: San Antonio
Driving time from my house: 5 hours





Today, I'm continuing my "back yard vacation" series with a trip to San Antonio, Texas.  We'll drive for most of the day from Dallas, and check into the beautiful old Hotel Havana.  Once we're settled in and refreshed from the drive, we'll visit the Ocho Lounge at the Hotel for drinks and appetizers. Then we'll ask the concierge for dinner recommendations.  Since Hotel Havana is on the River Walk, there are countless dining options just a short walk away.  That's how my husband and I usually kick off our stay in a new city.  My number one travel tip is always "ask the locals."





After breakfast in bed, we'll head down to the San Antonio River Walk Park.  While we're there, we'll do some shopping at the La Villita Historic Arts Village.  For lunch, we'll eat at The Cove, which the New York Times describes as "burgers with a conscience".  We'll walk off the calories with a stroll through Brackenridge Park and spend a contemplative moment in the Japanese Tea Garden.  In the evening we'll visit the shops at Pearl Brewery.  Dinner?  My first choice is Il Sogno Osteria.  But if the lines are too long (they don't take reservations) we'll head over to the Sandbar Fish House and Market. After dinner, we'll head back to our sweet Hotel Havana for a good night's sleep!





Tomorrow?  Marfa, Texas!  I can hear you saying, "Marfa?  What is there to do in Marfa?"  We'll, hang on to your hats - cowboy hats if you have them - and stay tuned. 

Coffee Cream Soda

A rare Sunday post! I think I just invented an awesome new beverage. It's so yummy that I had to share it with you immediately. This is my Italian style coffee cream soda. What? Coffee cream soda? Yes - believe it.




Coffee Cream Soda

Ingredients:
--  brewed coffee (hot, warm, cold, day-old, whatever)
--  agave nectar (sugar, artificial sweetener, whatever)
--  half and half (milk, cream, soy milk, whatever)
--  sparkling water
--  ice

Directions: (or as my mother calls them, "destructions")
--  pour martini shaker half full with coffee (I do not have a martini shaker, so I used a pint glass and my son's small plastic IKEA cup shoved on top as a make-shift shaker.)
--  sweeten with nectar to taste
--  fill rest of shaker with ice
--  shake the be-jesus out of the coffee mixture until foam appears.
--  pour cold coffee mixture over ice and add a splash of half and half
--  top off with sparkling water

Mix and Enjoy!

Sunday Rest


The world pressing against me at this moment happens to be my bed.  I think I should stay here a little longer and enjoy the quietude of my sheets.  Jack has the boys in the front of the house so that I can get some Sunday rest.  Bless him.






And on the home front, I baked up some lemon scones and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies last night in anticipation of my Dad's arrival from Scotland.  I figure if you have someone visiting from the UK, you'd better have proper scones and cookies on hand.