Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: Big Green Egg

From Capitol Pools

The Big Green Egg is on my wish list, but not for me.  Rather, I want my husband to get one, since he does all of the grilling (I am not and never will be a griller). Made of ceramics rather than metals, the Egg is much more heat efficient that most charcoal grills, as well as being safer and more durable.  Since we prefer charcoal to gas grills, this one would be perfect.  There are several sizes, but a medium-sized one would probably do for us.  At about $600 (plus the additional cost of accessories), this Big Green Egg is not cheap, but it should last a lifetime, and can be used as a grill, a smoker, and even an oven.

I recently watched an episode of "Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction" in which he made two fish dishes (plus sausages) on a Big Green Egg.  One was halibut, which is a fish I happen to love, but the other was a salmon recipe that looked so good I would eat it -- and I don't even like salmon!  I know my husband could make this dish just as well as Bobby Flay if he had an Egg, and the Big Green Egg website has so many more recipe suggestions.  Who knows, I may never have to cook again!

Bobby Flay next to his Big Green Egg (from Food Network).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the Homefront: "One Fish, Two Fish, White Fish, Blue Fish" Table

With apologies to Dr. Seuss, I present to you my "one fish, two fish, white fish, blue fish" table!  As I mentioned in a previous post, on our recent trip to Santa Fe I purchased two white bone china tabletop fish sculptures which were being displayed as napkin holders in the store.  I have a fair amount of blue and white table accessories, one of my favorites being a set of Fitz and Floyd Les Fish salad plates, and this seemed to be the appropriate time to do a table using these items.  Since my husband is an avid collector of blue and white Japanese arts and crafts, much of this table décor has an Asian influence as well.  The striped napkins are another recent purchase from Santa Fe.  We found them at The Gallery above Cafe Pasqual's (a great place to eat, by the way -- try the Huevos Motuleños), which was displaying handmade goods by artists attending the International Folk Art Market being held in the city that weekend.  The napkins were made in Thailand and are actually meant to be used as hand towels, but my husband loved them and insisted they would be perfect as napkins (he was right!).

Dark brown wooden bead placemat from Target; dark blue dinner plate from Target years ago; blue and white Fitz and Floyd Les Fish salad plate; white flatware from Target; white coastal design water glass from Big Lots years ago; blue and white striped hand towels as napkins (made in Thailand) from Cafe Pasqual's Gallery; white bone china fish sculpture napkin holder by Yuki Murata at moderngoods from Victoria Price Art & Design; can't recall where I got the blue wine goblet.  Blue and white koi fish table runner is a fabric piece my husband picked up in Japan.

The centerpiece features eight blue and white
fish-shaped chopstick holders from Japan.

Close-up of the fish sculpture napkin holders.  Since I only have
two, I put two napkins into each and tied them with the fabric
piece that came with them.

Since fishes were the theme, the only Dalmatians to make it
onto my table this time were two sweet little Japanese
blue and white chopstick holders!

Thanks to a conversation my husband and I had while in New Mexico, I am currently obsessed with blue food, but only those that occur naturally.  I used as many as possible for the menu here (blue cheese, blue potatoes, blueberries), but I was unable to find blue cornmeal locally.  These are the only naturally blue foods I could think of, and some skeptics do not consider them truly blue, but for me they were close enough!  Of course I had to include fish as the main dish.  Sesame Green Beans add an Asian touch (use my recipe for Sesame Spinach, substituting 12 oz. cooked slender green beans (haricots verts) for the spinach; allow to sit for at least one hour before serving, or better yet make them the day before).

I had never made mashed blue potatoes before, but the images I found on Google did not look appetizing, so I decided to do a combination of blue and white boiling potatoes, with much more attractive results (a sort of lavender-blue, which may not be so obvious in the photo):

I used my basic recipe for Smashed Potatoes, just doubling the amount of everything to use one 24-oz. bag each of blue/purple potatoes and white boiling potatoes.  In addition to butter and salt, I substituted heavy cream which I had left over from another recipe for the milk (true decadence!) and added about 1/2 cup leftover minced parsley as well.  This variation was especially delicious, as the potatoes had a slightly sweeter flavor than usual, and of course the butter and cream made them quite rich and luscious.

Blue and White Fish Menu:

Small Green Salad/Blue Cheese Dressing
Blue and White Mashed Potatoes
Sesame Green Beans
Fresh Blueberry Cobbler/Vanilla Ice Cream

For a touch of the unexpected, I went with coconut Lindt Lindor truffles in blue-tinged green wrappers for the dark blue candy dish:

This simple blue and white table setting is one of my favorites, and the menu was a fantastic Sunday dinner, the first real meal I prepared since we returned from Santa Fe.  It was almost as good as the food we had while there, and we had some pretty phenomenal fare!

Blue the Dalmatian makes a return appearance to
admire from afar a table set in his namesake color!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Baked Halibut with Lemon and Capers

From Sirously Delicious

I thought I would continue the week's fish theme today!  When it comes to eating fish, I prefer those that are delicately flavored.  I always choose a white fish over something like salmon, and my favorite is halibut.  I never cared for fish as a child, and to this day do not prepare it often enough, but this very simple recipe for Baked Halibut with Lemon and Capers may convince me to make fish more often.  The dish comes together quickly, oven bakes in mere minutes, and is ready to eat as soon as it comes out.  Then there is the added bonus of the light lemony sauce, slightly salty from the capers, that you can spoon over the fish and whatever starch you serve (it is divine over mashed potatoes).  If you love fish, or even if you don't, this recipe is worth trying!

Baked Halibut with Lemon and Capers

1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
2 Tsp. capers
2 8-oz. halibut fillets (thawed if frozen)
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the first three ingredients.  Clean and dry the fish and place on a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil.  Season with salt and pepper, then pour the dressing over.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.  Squeeze additional lemon juice over the fillets, if desired, and serve.  Serves 2.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Colorful Santa Fe Shopping at Camino Real

Driving from our hotel to the downtown plaza in Santa Fe, my husband and I passed several storefronts displaying colorful Mexican pottery so bright and cheerful we just had to stop and take photos.  We pulled into the parking lot of Camino Real, a huge warehouse of a store filled with just about everything you could imagine for the home, both indoors and out.  According to their business card, this includes "SW furniture, genuine Indian rugs, glassware, Talavera, tin mirrors, pottery, suns, custom furniture, and much, much more...", even clothing, jewelry, and food items.  Most of the goods are imported from Mexico, but the custom furniture is made locally.  There is no way I can even begin to describe the multitudes of products sold, but here is some of the color outside:

And here is some of the color inside:

Pottery and dishes

More dishes



Table runners

That brightly colored fish table runner is now mine (they were having a half price sale, so how could I resist?).  It currently resides in our entry hall:

The runner fits right in as if it has always been there, so obviously this was meant to be!

If you love color and you ever get the chance to visit Santa Fe, be sure to stop at Camino Real for a real color fix.  And I have a feeling something will be coming home with you, just as it did with us!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: moderngoods Fish Sculpture

From moderngoods

A while ago I read an article in Sunset magazine which mentioned Victoria Price Art & Design in Santa Fe.  Owned by Victoria Price, daughter of the late actor Vincent Price, this store features unique art and interior design items, and offers design services as well.  I have to say that what drew me to the place initially, though, was the fact that Ms. Price is a fellow Dalmatian lover!  Her dog, Jack, was found and rescued by her as a stray in the mountains outside of Santa Fe, and is featured in many of the store photos:

Isn't he adorable?  Of course on our trip to Santa Fe last week I had to stop by and visit this store.  Unfortunately Jack was not in that day, but we did get to look around at all of the delightful items on display.  I had seen artist Yuki Murata's moderngoods line on their website, but a new bone china fish sculpture had been added to the collection, and I decided I had to get a couple.  The store used them as napkin holders, but they are also meant to be displayed in an artful arrangement, as shown above.  I really would have loved to purchase four, but they are fragile and we were traveling by plane, so I only felt comfortable carrying two well-wrapped pieces with me.  If I can remember my PayPal password, I intend to buy two more, on sale now at the website for $25 each (or three for $70).  I have already used the two I bought as napkin holders on my own table, but I had to double up the napkins in each since I had four place settings and only two holders.

You may be wondering why the fish sculpture only features the back end of the fish.  I am thinking that these tabletop fish sculptures may have been inspired by the interesting sculpture called "Santa Fe Current" outside of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, which shows only the front ends of 27 Rio Grande cutthroat trout (the state fish of New Mexico), but that is just my surmise:

More about shopping in Santa Fe tomorrow!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

Photo by NoraMarie on

Blueberry season is here!  While I am not much of a fresh blueberry fan, I do enjoy them cooked into luscious desserts, especially ones as simple and tasty as Fresh Blueberry Cobbler.  I have only changed this easy recipe slightly.  I stirred half of the blueberries into the batter instead of spreading them all over the top (I got this idea here).  Also, instead sprinkling vanilla extract over the top, I added it to the batter with the wet ingredients (lemon juice and/or zest would also be good).  I put cinnamon in the sugar topping, and since I really like cinnamon I added an entire teaspoonful, but if you are not such a fan use less, or omit it altogether.  This is a dessert that just screams summer -- scream a little more for a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the top if you like!

Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

1 1/4 C. flour
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C. milk
1/3 C. butter, melted
2 C. fresh blueberries
1 T. flour
1/3 C. sugar
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Combine the first four (dry) ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the next three (wet) ingredients thoroughly.  Toss 1 C. of the blueberries with the 1 T. flour and fold gently into the batter.  Spread the batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan.  Sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the batter.  If using the cinnamon, stir it into the sugar.  Sprinkle the sugar or sugar/cinnamon mixture over the berries.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then cut and serve.  Serves 6.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Crazy Colorful Kitchen Backsplashes

By iç mimarlik on Flickr

When I saw the Patchwork Tile in the kitchen photo above I just knew I had to check out the craze for playfully colorful backsplashes.  This kitchen is especially great because the homeowner was not afraid to go bold with the cabinet color as well, and the fun accessories on the small shelf below the upper cabinets add even more fun to the space.  Here are some other examples of bright and beautiful backsplashes:

From Villa Lagoon Tile

From In Seven Colors

From Oscar & Izzy

From Personal Style Honey

From Trend Kitchen Cabinets

From Design Sponge

From Modwalls

From Susan Jablon

From Mosaic Tile Mania

From This Old House
From Omega Glass

Now I am faced with a real dilemma.  When I finally get to add more color to my kitchen, do I go with my favorite kaleidoscopically colorful countertop, or do I install a bold, bright, and beautiful backsplash like the ones above?  Dare I do both?  And will my husband be able to live with so much color?  Thank goodness I don't have to decide right away!