Food – Roasted Heirloom Tomato Sauce

MUST LOVE TOMATOES!

Looking at my photos from Italy got me thinking about the simplicity of good, fresh, local ingredients.tomato

Many of the farmers markets are open until the end of October so you can pick up a nice selection of fresh tomatoes.

This is a quick, easy, and delicious basic tomato sauce that can be dressed up with spices and herbs for pasta, stews and pizzas.  Although the recipe calls for heirloom, you can use any kind of tomatoes you like – it will make an array of prettily colored sauces.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4lbs tomatoes quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup of fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Pimenton
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
  • Selection of sterilized jars with tight fitting lids
PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a large ceramic baking dish and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring half way through.
  3. Remove from the oven and take out the bay leaves. Rest the tomatoes for 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce the oven heat to 250°F.
  5. Place the tomato mixture in the blender and working in batches, turning the tomatoes either either smooth or slightly chunky depending on your preference.
  6. Pour the sauce into the prepared sterilized jars leaving a ¼” space and screw the lids on. Tap the jars on the counter top to get rid of air pockets and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Place in the oven for 30 minutes to seal.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. You will hear a pinging sound as each lid seals. Check to make sure that the center of the lid is concaved. (If a jar does not seal store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)
  8. Label and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Valerie Aikman-Smith for Goop.com

Travel/Lifestyle/ART – Tuscany

la dolce vitaitaly1

 It’s pretty  straightforward.  I want to live like an Italian.italy8

There are too many likes.  From the Renaissance paintings and sculptures of artists like Michaelangelo and Botticelli in Florence,  to medieval villages, historical towns, castles and country churches scattered all over a vast territory of rolling hills.  Romantic architecture abounds.

the house that was used to film "Under the Tuscan Sun"

the house that was used to film “Under the Tuscan Sun”

italy3

Simply prepared delicious food: lunch on the terrace overlooking ancient vines and olive groves, wine, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Aceto Balsamicos, and Gelatos.

Vespas and fast luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani & Maserati.

 

Style in general which includes a well-tailored desire to look alla moda.

italy7italy6italy4
I want to live like an italy9Italian.  

I’m sure I missed a few things but this pretty much sums it up.

Photos: d. king

Pagani

Pagani

Vespa2 - Copy

italy

 

Words…why Fridays are important

Today is Sunday (which means tomorrow is Monday, a work day for most) but here is why we need Fridays:

nothing-fucks-up-your-friday-more

ISIS. Ebola. Russia in Ukraine. The world looks like it needs a Friday. But if the UN is looking for a playlist, we’d recommend starting with “a little less conversation, a little more action.” –  theSKIMM

On a lighter note:

Fridays are people’s second favourite “F” word.

Friday afternoons are filled with positive anticipation for the weekend.

You can sleep away your hangover the very next day.

For movies like “Friday the 13th“.  It would be weird sounding to change the day of the week – something like Monday the 13th doesn’t quite cut it.

Black Friday which is the equivalent of boxing day here in Canada.  This best sums it up:

Some people see Black Friday as a much-needed break for their wallet. I see it as retail outlets showing the customers the full weight of their contempt. The frenzy to buy cheap crap from China, the human downgrade of people fighting with each other over items they can probably live without, to me, is an insult. – Henry Rollins

And as for me, I don’t like to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to stand in line or sleep on a cold sidewalk waiting for a store to open.  Nothing is ever that CHEAP!

Well that’s all I could come up with because for me, everyday is a Friday!

 

Health MATTERS: myths about the G word  

I must have gluten intolerance because I’m so sick of hearing the word gluten-free. It’s a dirty word and people are using it almost as much (or more) than the “F” word. Gluten1gettyimages

It feels like everybody’s going gluten-free these days, but there is quite a bit of misinformation about the g-word.  Some people -– even those who claim to follow gluten-free diets -– don’t even know what gluten is.  And if you’re one of them, that’s OK. We won’t tell anyone your secret.

We’ll even help you out: Gluten is a word used to describe the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. You’re welcome!

Here are a few myths that have been circulating lately.

Gluten makes you fat.

The number one myth registered dietitian Kristen Kirkpatrick hears in her office is that cutting gluten will help people lose weight.

“Gluten does not make you fat,” said Kirkpatrick, who manages wellness and nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic. “Calories make you fat regardless of where those calories are coming from, whether they’re coming from brown rice, which is gluten-free or a wheat bagel.” In fact, sometimes gluten-free bread can have 30 more calories than regular bread, Kirkpatrick said. And if you eat more calories in a day than you use, the extra calories will be stored as fat, she said.

“Some gluten-free foods contain extra sugar or calories to make them more palatable – to make up for the loss of the gluten,” said Dr. Kelly Thomsen, a gastroenterologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

That said, since people who go gluten-free need to do some extra label-reading, it can help them make better choices overall and ultimately lose weight, Kirkpatrick said. But it’s a secondary factor.

Gluten is not part of a “clean” diet.

First of all, “clean” eating is subjective, Kirkpatrick said. The Food and Drug Administration has no official definition for it. But to her, it means something along the lines of eating foods that are as whole and unprocessed as possible.  As such, you can eat a clean diet that includes gluten or a clean diet that cuts it out, she said. Gluten doesn’t make a diet clean or unclean.

“You can be on a horrible gluten-free diet, just like you can be on a horrible vegetarian diet,” Kirkpatrick said.  Remember, French fries are gluten-free and vegetarian.

Gluten is bad for you.

Thomsen says she often hears people say that they want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, but she says that’s a useless (and expensive) choice for anyone who hasn’t been diagnosed with celiac disease.  “There’s nothing inherently unhealthy about gluten,” Thompsen said.

Gluten alone doesn’t have many health benefits, but foods that contain gluten – like whole grains – tend to be higher in fibre and have a lot of vitamin B, zinc and iron, she said. As a result, cutting gluten could actually result in nutritional deficiencies.

That’s why people with celiac disease often meet with a nutritionist to make sure there are no holes in their diets, Thomsen said.

You personally can’t eat gluten because you just know it.

It’s true that there are people who can’t eat gluten, but they’re a minority of the population. These people have celiac disease.  “Most people don’t have celiac disease, so they don’t need to remove gluten from their diets,” Thompsen said.

When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it damages the tiny finger-like protrusions that line their small intestines, keeping them from absorbing nutrition from food, according to the National Institutes of Health. The disease affects about 1 percent of the population, and can be diagnosed with a blood test. If that’s inconclusive, a doctor may perform additional tests, like a biopsy.

Symptoms of celiac disease vary and can include fatigue and diarrhea as well as fertility problems, joint pain and seizures. The only treatment is a lifelong, gluten-free diet.

If you think you have celiac disease, do not stop eating gluten before seeing your doctor, Thompsen said. If you stop eating gluten before getting tested for celiac, it could result in a false negative diagnosis.

There are also people who have a gluten intolerance, which Thompsen said is a diagnosis that comes only when all other possible diagnoses have been ruled out. These people do not have celiac disease, but their doctors have determined that they can’t eat gluten. Again, she said people who suspect they have a gluten intolerance should not stop eating gluten before seeing their doctors.

Finally, a gluten allergy is when someone experiences signs of allergic reaction when they eat gluten, Thompsen said. They may have swollen lips, difficulty breathing or diarrhea. Again, people should not self-diagnose or self-treat.

Gluten causes cancer.

Thompson says this one is a myth for the majority of the population.

“For the average person, eating gluten in their diet does not increase the risk of cancer,” Thompsen said.

Long-term complications of untreated celiac disease, however, can include intestinal cancers, she said. Again, if you think you have celiac disease, make an appointment with your doctor before making any dietary changes, she said.

gluten3gettyAs for me, I will continue enjoying French bread and all types of baked goods…in moderation.  Moderation: being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme.  Okay then.

gluten4getty

Source: Sydney Lupkin – a health reporter for ABCNews.com.  Photos: Getty Images

Feel-good Friday – take a cruise

Life is beautiful….enjoy the ride!cruiser3

If you can’t take a cruise to Alaska right now (like some friends of mine recently did) then you can always take a cruise around town.cruiser1cruiser2

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein letter to his son Eduard, 1930.

 

I thought of that while riding my bicycle. – Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity.

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20140814_122919

tied to a dressed up pole

tied to a friendly post.

 

 

 

 

I've never seen a macramé  pole.

Move over bracelets, macraméd signposts are the latest trend.

 

Photos: first 3 from images.  Last 4: d. king

Relatively speaking I think it’s a good idea to ride a bike whenever you can.

 

Have a lovely weekend!

Beauty biz – NO SWEAT!

It’s been said that ladies don’t sweat – they perspire.  But we’re not particularly fond of either.

photo: YASU+JUNKO

photo: YASU+JUNKO

How to choose from the latest crops on the shelves?  Whether it’s stress, humidity or exertion that’s sending your underarms into overdrive, there’s something out there so you don’t have to sweat it.  Find your best options to stay dry and keep clothes stain-free below.

  • Best For Worrywarts:

Degree Clinical Protection Stress Control Antiperspirant-Deodorant – approx. $6

Stress induced clamminess is not the same as heat-triggered sweating, so calming ingredients are incorporated.  Scent: Eucalyptus and Lavender.

  • Best for Everyday Wear:

Dove Advanced Care Clear Tone Antiperspirant-Deodorant, in clear tone pink rose – approx. $7

Calendula and Sunflower seed oils keep armpits smooth and odor-free for up to 48 hours.  Scent: a fruity, floral with notes of violet, rose and raspberry blossom.

  • Best for Dressing Up:

Ralph Lauren Romance Deodorant stick – approx. $20

A deodorant scented with a favourite fragrance helps class up this malodorous area.  Scent: Rose, ginger, musk and chamomile.

Or; Clinique Roll-on Antiperspirant-Deodorant  (approx. $12) will not ruin or stain clothing.

  • Best for Long Summer Days:

Dry Idea Clinical Stain Clear Solid Antiperspirant-Deodorant – approx. $8

Made with less wax than traditional sticks have, it won’t cause yellow sweat stains.  Scent: white flowers and fruit.

  • Best for Earth Mothers:

Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Deodorant – approx. $6

An aluminum and paraben free option for those who steer clear of artificial fragrances and chemicals.  Scent: None.

Or; Dr. Hauschka fresh Deodorant – approx. $23

  • Best for Working Out:

Secret Clinical Strength Clear Gel Antiperspirant-Deodorant gel – approx. $8

This light gel formula curbs wetness without leaving a chalky residue on tight-fitting workout garb.  Scent: Melon, apricot, linden blossom, cucumber and sandalwood.

DE-ODOR DECODER – the types to know:

Deodorant

Masks the smell of sweat. Ingredients like triclosan control the underarm bacteria that cause BO.

Antiperspirant

Contains aluminum salt, which keeps sweat glands from perspiring. “All antiperspirants are deodorants, but simple deodorants aren’t antiperspirants,” says Susan Biehle-Hulette, Secret’s senior scientist.

Clinical-Strength Formulas

Serious sweat issues used to call for a prescription. Not anymore. “These deliver prescription-strength odor and wetness protection,” says Douglas C. Tomczak, deodorant research and development manager at Unilever.

Botox

Injections of botulinum toxin A — which disables the armpits’ sweat glands — have been approved by the FDA to treat severe underarm sweating.

So I hope this helps you to stay Calm and stay Dry so you don’t have to SWEAT the small stuff.

Other things to consider: you don’t want the scent of your deodorant (should you choose scented) to compete with the scent of your perfume or body lotion so keep that in mind when choosing one.

Source: MarthaStewart.com

style: RAW – from the ROW

Springing ahead for a sneak peek but I’m ready to wear the ready-to-wear already.  IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

The Row Spring 2015

The Row Spring 2015

Yes, it’s already Fall and as usual it crept up just like that.  While we’re busy getting our boots and blazers out of the closet, New York Fashion Week just wrapped and London Fashion Week has just begun to show us what’s in store (and what will be in stores) for Spring 2015nyfw7Unfortunately, having not attended the New York shows in person I was consigned like many to checking out what’s next on the internet.  After perusing many of the choices I decided to focus on showing only one fashion house – that from “The Row” and their 28-year-old twin designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who obviously have an amazingly grown-up fashion sense – well beyond their years.  Girls to look up to and styles to put a Spring in your step.  Here is what someone who attended the actual show wrote:

Chic Twins

We love a  Chic Twinset!

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are women of very few words. Ask them about the direction of their new Spring collection, and you get the shortest of briefs: “Raw silks.” That’s not much to go on, but no matter. This show, like most of The Row shows that have preceded it, was highly evocative. Monday morning traffic, the elevator you just missed, your buzzing cell phone… In the face of the serenity on their runway, all that stuff fell away. The setting, a raw, fifth-floor warehouse space in Soho, played a big part. Pouring through skylights, the morning sun glinted off the gold basket weave of a loosely tied coat, and shimmered on an organza top that looked as if it might’ve been dipped in tea or sepia-dyed. Angels, you thought.nyfw4nyfw3

That’s probably too literal an allusion for the Olsens’ taste, but there was an undeniable purity to this collection, with its mid-calf hemlines, full A-line silhouettes, and covered-up arms and shoulders. The Olsens experimented quite a bit with wrapping. Long swaths of fabric crisscrossed the torso, twisted around the waistline of dresses, and trailed down the legs, sometimes creating a gentle peplum at the hips. These were not clothes designed to seduce, but they were beguiling nonetheless. A woven tabard finished with braided fringe was especially lovely; not many other labels in New York are turning out this level of handwork. Equally tempting because it was more utilitarian: a crisp, collarless white cotton poplin shirt tucked into a three-quarter-length black skirt, accessorized with a cross-body “hunting” bag.

So Sleek, So CHIC!

So Sleek, So CHIC!

The Row’s former design director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski was in the news this summer when it was announced that she was appointed the artistic director at Hermès. She left the company last March and The Row reports it won’t replace her. This beautiful show positions them well for the future.

I just love this acress's outfit.

I just love Jessica Alba’s outfit – the balance between structure and romance.  A no-nonsense ladylikeness.

I personally feel you can do so much with beautifully constructed basics and seem to be leaning more towards this look these days. So easy to mix ‘n match too.  Don’t get me wrong though – I’m still willing to wear that studded collar shirt and skinny zippered cobalt jeans.

Source for NYFW: Nicole Phelps (September 9, 2014) for style.com                                    Photos – taken from images

FOOD: the Staples – Rice, Noodles or Rice Noodles?

THE ULTIMATE CULINARY CARBS!  Do you have a preference?tofu2tofu1

Most people like either or and they’re both important food staples in most countries (especially Asia & Africa) even for breakfast where they’re sautéed with vegetables.  Here in North America we’re having a noodle moment with noodle places like The Noodle Box opening up all over….so tasty and comforting and versatile.  Rice is also nice but seemingly more ordinary – as in you don’t see rice joints opening up all over town…but it’s equally diverse.  I personally love both depending on what they’re served with (obviously noodles with Pad Thai & Spaghetti and rice with Paella & anything Indian).  It would be hard to make a specific choice because we need both (I don’t care what the diet books say – I’m sticking to this rule because there are so many varieties of either and gluten-free noodles are available). *Rice in all forms (white, brown, basmati and enriched rice) are all gluten-free.

There was recently in Vancouver a Taiwanese street festival where chefs battled out their unique rice or noodle recipes.  I was there but didn’t sample either. Instead I’m giving you two simple and satisfying one-pot dishes for both which you can improvise to your liking (after you read the recipe).  Enjoy!

 SPICY TOFU HOTPOT

Warm up a chilly evening with this light but satisfying one-pot meal. The tofu absorbs the flavors of this fragrant, spicy broth, making it anything but bland. Look for fresh Chinese-style noodles in the refrigerated case of your supermarket alongside wonton wrappers.

Makes: 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

 INGREDIENTS

  • 14 ounces firm tofu, preferably water-packed
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 4 cups thinly sliced tender bok choy greens
  • 8 ounces fresh Chinese-style (lo mein) noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

PREPARATION

  1. Drain and rinse tofu; pat dry. Cut the block into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sugar, broth, soy sauce and chile-garlic sauce; cover and bring to a boil. Add bok choy and tofu, cover and simmer until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the noodles, pushing them down into the broth. Cook, covered, until the noodles are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.                                                                                                                       TIPS: Chile-garlic sauce is a spicy blend of chiles, garlic and other seasonings; it is found in the Asian section of the market.

Per serving: 251 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 7 g fiber; 636 mg sodium; 191 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (45% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Fiber (27% dv), Iron (20% dv).

 READER’S COMMENT: “Awesome!! we used Udon noodles in place of Lo Mein, but otherwise same recipe. The broth with garlic and ginger is fabulous! “

 MUSHROOM & RICE ONE-POT

Take a handful of simple store cupboard ingredients and turn them into this hearty comforting dinner.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary or 1 tsp dried
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes (can use fresh)
  • 425ml vegetable stock
  • handful parsley, chopped

PREPARATION

Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Tip the rice into a sieve, rinse under cold running water, then leave to drain. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole, add the onion, then fry until softened, about 5 mins. Stir in the rosemary and mushrooms, then fry briefly. Add the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then add the peppers, tomatoes, stock and some freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, give it a stir, cover tightly with a lid, then bake for 20-25 mins until the rice is tender. Scatter over the parsley and serve.

TIPS: you can modify this recipe a little bit by
– using fresh tomatoes and tomato puré
– using chicken stock
– adding chicken and green chillies in recipe

*More about RICE:

Plain rice — regardless of whether it’s whole-grain brown rice, polished white rice, long-grained basmati rice or even exotic black rice — is always considered gluten-free.

So is the form of rice called glutinous rice, also known as sticky rice or sweet rice. Despite the name, it doesn’t contain the form of gluten that’s dangerous to those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance; the term “glutinous” simply refers to the fact that glutinous rice gets glue-like, or sticky, when cooked.

Source: Rice Recipe from Good Food magazine.                                                                Tofu Noodle Recipe from EatingWell: The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook (this recipe is not just for diabetics – it just happens to come from the cookbook). xo

Follow my Food Board on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/foodsavour-taste-flavor-relish-palate-enjoyment/

 

 

 

Travel/Lifestyle – Tree messages vs e-messages

In today’s age where everyone has either the latest Android or iPhone who has time to leave a handwritten message?  Texting is where it’s at!  History reveals itself…message5To go back in time…well just a little, to the romanticism of the handwritten note.  There is a centuries old Acacia tree (knows as the Thorn Tree) in the heart of Nairobi where travelers have been leaving messages pinned to its branches over the years to date.  The messages reveal personalities that will enthrall you with their heartfelt charm, humor and occasional romance.message4 It is found at the legendary bistro style pavement café of yesteryear called the “Thorn Tree Café” at the Sarova Stanley hotel.  It is a Nairobi landmark known as the country’s first luxury hotel, a place many people stay before heading out to safari including yours truly.  The message board is situated in the centre of the restaurant.

The Stanley (now the Sarova Stanley) played host to a long line of living legends including Ernest Hemingway.  It was in a Stanley hotel room during 1933/34 he stayed recuperating from an illness following a hunting trip to Kilimanjaro and thought up themes and wrote some of his famous short stories and books, several of which mentioned the Sarova Stanley. message3These books, which were to make him a household name across the world, included The Green Hills of Africa (1935); The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936); and The Happy Ending, retitled The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

The Stanley has also been, at various times, the base for classic Hollywood film idols such as Stewart Granger, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Gregory Peck. Not to mention notable entertainers like Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, who at the time was married to Ava Gardner. This shows its rich heritage and epitomizes affluence that appeals the elite class and celebrities who are searching for top hotels in Nairobi.

In recent times the hotel has hosted modern stars like Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Wild at heart), Michael Caine, Sidney Poitier (To Sir with Love), Barbra Streisand and James Bond himself, the ageless Sean Connerymessage2message1

From time immemorial the café has been the perfect meeting place for friends and offers a remarkable dining experience in the central business district. It has a deli counter, serves pizzas from a wood-fired oven, fresh juices, beers, the widest range of coffees and a varied menu which includes popular continental and nouvelle dishes.

‘Tree mail’ endures despite email and the Thorn Tree Café flourishes as the crossroads of Africa.

Side Note: For some reason I’ve followed Ernest Hemingway’s travels without really meaning to – at least I didn’t plan it that way.  He had a fascinating life and really knew how to live (maybe too much so) so from Havana to Key West to Nairobi I found myself visiting his famous hangouts. Which makes me wonder – can you be considered someone’s stalker if that person is no longer alive?