Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clam Cakes & Chowder update…

Over the last several weeks, Charles & I have asked many people which restaurant or clam shack they feel has the best clam cakes & chowder. We were told about the old standbys, and we had been to most of them; but we were looking for that one place we’d never been to or heard of before, that special place with clammy clam cakes & chowder.

Well folks I have some good news for you, I think we’ve found what we've been looking for! There is a place in Charlestown, RI called The Hitching Post. Now, for those of you who know us, you know that we spend most of our summer weekends down in Charlestown. How could we have been going to Charlestown all of these years and not known about The Hitching Post?...A place that has been around for 60 years?!!?...I don’t know and I am pretty upset, but alas, after a recommendation from a friend, we found it.

Now let me tell you a bit about the family run shack called The Hitching Post. It is located at 5402 Post Road (Rte. 1) Charlestown, RI and has been in business since 1950…they must be doing something right. The gal who served us is third generation and truly enjoys working at her family’s restaurant. Eat-in dining is available, but they also have a sweet little outdoor garden where you can sit and enjoy the food and weather at the same time. We choose to sit in our car and eat, as the buggy time of night was approaching. (And I usually end up with tartar sauce all over my face.)

I’ll start by telling you about the chowder, saving the best for last. Clear chowder is the only chowder style they offer. Why? Because it is the traditional way Rhode Islanders make their chowder. That’s news to me, but it's OK because I really enjoy the clear chowder the best. The broth is very light; almost too light, but still very delicious. (I think because they don't use a ton of butter, the broth is very light and pretty healthy!) You can taste the ocean with each spoonful, as well as onion and celery. As you stir the chowder, you can see the clams swirling about in the bowl…yes, actual clams!! And they are soft, tender clams, not the chewy kind you may be used to. As far as the potatoes go, there weren't a ton of them and they're cut into small cubes which made me happy because they are my least favorite part of the chowder. I actually ate them all!  

At The Hitching Post they offer “clam fritters” instead of clam cakes. Why? I don’t know, but I’ll find out! It doesn’t even matter because they are just so good! We ordered 6 clam fritters and we actually got 7! Mistake? Who cares!! These fritters also taste like the ocean (in a good way) and are light and airy and actually have clams in them!! With each bite I took I’d carefully examine my fritter, and to my surprise, I’d see at least 3 clam pieces waiting in the dough pillows for me to eat. YAHOOO!!!! YUUUUMMMMM!!! GIDDY UP!! I can't believe we finally know where to go for good clam cakes, I mean fritters, and chowder! My summer is now complete, and I can rest easy knowing that The Hitching Post is near!!

Oh, I must tell you about the tartar sauce…totally homemade! I could tell it was homemade just by looking at it. The tartar sauce has a fresh, crisp, sweet taste that paired very well with the clam fritters.

Go to The Hitching Post and play with your food!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Farmer's Market updates…

There are a few bits of information I wanted to add to this blog that may be helpful to you.

The first thing I’d like to tell you is the address of the Scituate Farmer’s market. It is located on Rte. 116 at the intersection of Institute Lane and Rte. 116. It is the same location as the Scituate Art Festival. Our farmer’s market will run through the first weekend of October.

Next is Eric The Honey Guy at Hillside Apiaries. His phone number is 573-1015. If you’d like some super-delicious, smooth, local honey please give him a call. Eric is at the market every Saturday and often does other locations as well. He may be at a market near you!

Then there is Marcia…She has the most beautiful flower bouquets you could imagine. All of Marcia’s flowers are grown at her home at 965 Chopmist Hill Road (102) in North Scituate, RI. Why am I giving you her address? Because she also has a flower cart at her home where she has flowers available to purchase! There are deep burgundy dahlias as well as pink ones and white ones with pink tips. And the vibrant yellow gladiolas are to die for!!

Pezza Farm is at the Scituate Farmer’s Market, and they also have a huge farm located at 2279 Plainfield Pike in Johnston, RI. The farm is open to the public everyday during the summer from 9-5. What a great place to take the family!! For more information on Pezza Farm, go to their website at http://www.pezzafarm.com/.

And lastly, Quint’s Finest also has a website where you can shop for great gifts like the Cookie of the Month Club. We also offer cookies sold by the dozen and brownies too!! Check us out at www.quintsfinestcookies.com/ . If you are looking for something special like party favors, please call at 401-935-8459.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who is at the Scituate, RI Farmer’s Market?

As you may or may not know, Quint’s Finest Gourmet Cookies & More has a table at the Scituate, RI Farmer’s Market which runs every Saturday from 9-12 through the first week in October. I am just loving the experience, and I also love being a part of something so dedicated to the community!

Ever since I started my business last year, the 2 words “Farmer’s Market” kept popping up so I decided to find out how to get a table at one. After many e-mails, I ended up choosing the Scituate Farmer’s market to be my host. I hadn’t been to a farmer’s market since I lived in Florida 15 years ago. Why? I’m not sure; it’s one of those things that you do when you live in an area and then when you leave that location, you leave some of the things that go along with it behind…does that make sense?

So anyway, here I am participating in a local farmer’s market, and as each Saturday passes, I feel a tighter bond with my community. That is an awesome feeling because it is my community that is supporting me as I am supporting them. Each Saturday, my regular customers (and the new ones too) will come up to say hello and tell me how much they enjoyed their cookies over the last week. If that is not one of the best feelings in the world, I don’t know what is!! They actually love my cookies! I will never get tired of hearing those words, and I don’t know if I can put into words how much I appreciate them; but I can say “Thank you for all of your support!!!”

Here are a few of the local farmers at the Scituate Farmer’s Market…

There is sweet Eric, the honey guy who owns and operates Hillside Apiaries…get it…sweet? He harvests the honey from his own bees!!! I never realized how fabulously creamy and gentle fresh, local honey could “bee”. The taste and texture are like no other honey I have ever had, and I highly recommend (if I could, I would demand…ha) using honey from your local honey man!!

Then there are the super nice folks from Blue Sky’s Flower Farm. Their table is always set up so beautifully and what I would think of as traditionally. When we first started the market together, I purchased a few lavender plants that are just thriving!! They also offer a variety of herbs, vegetables and flowers.

Next is Pezza Farm which is located in Johnston, RI. They always have a wide variety of vegetables such as green beans, corn, eggplant and squash along with flowers and herbs. When I don’t have any zucchini left from my own garden, I use theirs to make my zucchini bread.

Saving the most important for last, we have Olga’s Cup and Saucer. They have a huge selection of the best breads ever!! The Olive bread is loaded with olives and is definitely my favorite followed by the perfectly tangy sourdough. They also sell various cheeses from Narragansett Creamery including a spicy feta cheese spread called Pirate Spread, YUUUMMMM!. This table is run by a committee from Scituate and the proceeds from the bread sales, as well as the rent collected from the vendors at the market, is used to pay for the insurance for the market; but better than that, what ever they have left goes to a scholarship for a student of Scituate. Last year they were able to give away 2 scholarships!! Thank you to the Scituate commitee for being such wonderful hosts for us!

If you’re in the area, please come by and say “Hello!!” If you don’t live in the area, please find out where the Farmer’s Market is in your area and support your local farmers!!

We play with our food at the Farmer’s Market!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who was voted Best BYOB in Rhode Island?

That’s right; it was Pinelli’s Café at Night! If you’ve been there before you already know why it was voted best BYOB in Rhode Island, but if you haven’t been there yet, let me tell you a bit about it and why I love going there.

How did Pinelli's get it's name? The the restaurant is named after the owner, Bill Pinelli. Bill opened this restaurant 20 years ago and is still going strong. He is often there to greet the guests when they arrive. When he isn't there, he is at his other place, Flare, which is another fabulous place to dine!! Finally, there's good pizza in Coventry, RI!!

Pinelli’s Café at Night is an awesome Italian restaurant tucked in a plaza at 701 Quaker Lane (Route 2) in West Warwick, RI. Now when it comes to eating Italian food, I usually don’t go out to eat because, as you know, I love to cook at home. But when I am craving Italian and don’t feel like cooking, the only place I’ll go to is Pinelli’s!! As soon as we walk in the door, my husband and I feel right at home. The wait staff is always pleasant and on the ball…and quick with the bottle opener!!

One of the main reasons I love Pinelli’s is because when the food comes out, it is ALWAYS hot!! Always! There is nothing better than receiving your dinner plate piping hot, am I right? Firstly, the fried calamari is just so good! The hot peppers… with the calamari…in the buttery sauce…sooooo tangy and spicy, yet the squid is tender and sweet. My mouth is watering just writing about it! Talking about hot and spicy, the occasional Buffalo Calamari special is a must try. Next is my favorite entrée, the Linguini with Clams in white sauce, which is a clam broth…YUM, YUM, YUM!!!!!!!!!!!! The clams are perfectly steamed, and the broth is seasoned just right and has that oceany freshness that the linguini just soaks up. It really hits the spot, you know?

Another reason I love to go to Pinelli’s is because of the service. I have been there as a party of 2 and a party of 25 and the servers never skip a beat. Again, the food is always served hot, fresh and oh so delicious. Did I mention the portion size? Holy hugeness Batman. There is enough food to feed an army, but it is so good that you won’t share it with any army, you’ll eat it aaaaall yourself! Executive chef, Michael, along with Manny, his wing man (i.e. sous chef) are always coming up with creative and tasty specials each night.

Yes, there is yet another reason Pinelli’s is on the top of my Go-To places. It is a BYOB restaurant, how cool is that?! Whether you like margaritas, beer, wine, champagne or pina coladas, if you can carry it in the restaurant, you can drink it! I’ve seen the pros walk in with coolers!!

Check out Pinelli’s Café at night, you won’t regret it.

Remember, it’s OK to play with your food.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Let’s talk about the internet, old friends and coincidences…

Patty is on the left and I am next to her...caught making bunny ears!
Is there such a thing as a coincidence? Does everything happen for a reason? I believe in the latter, but occasionally wonder…

With this whole world of technology that is always growing and changing around us, I must admit that I am a bit slow on the draw; but I’m hanging in there and doing my best to keep up with the times. About a year-and-a-half ago I reluctantly jumped onto the Facebook bandwagon. It took me a long time to join because I thought it was a thing for high school kids. Then one night I had dinner with a few women from my childhood and they were telling me how fun it is to reconnect with people who have faded from our memories, how entertaining it can be, and what a great networking tool it is. So finally I joined. It took me quite a while to get comfortable with this because there really is no handbook; you just kind of go online and figure it out for yourself. People from my past would pop up and want to “friend” me, and as time passed and I started to feel more comfortable with Facebook, I would “accept” their invitations. Friends from college, from my time spent in Florida, relatives, and people from my childhood were flooding into my life. It was quite a surreal experience because with all of these people coming back into my life, all of these memories came flooding back into my mind. For those of you who know me, that is a lot for me to handle because I remember everything!

Anyway, it was exciting to reconnect with people from my past and see what they are up to. Then a friend from elementary school “friended” me, her name is Patty. Wow, there is a blast from the past. She was always a sweet girl, and I remember going to a couple of her parties as a child and playing with her on our school field trips to Diamond Hill. So I accepted her invitation and once again, we were friends.

One day as I was browsing my Facebook page, I noticed Patty had a blog…how cool is that?! I had wanted to write a food blog for a couple of years, but I had no idea how to even start one never mind how to write one. I sent Patty a message on Facebook asking her how she got started and to see if she could offer any advice. Within a few days I received a message back loaded with all kinds of information. Yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you Patty!! With the information given, I was on my way to Bloggerville, USA. One day, after Patty had read an entry from my blog, she suggested I read the book “My Life in France” by Julia Child. “Hmm, Julia Child,” I thought; I admire Julia Child as a chef, but I don’t know too much about her or how she got started. Since I had just finished reading one book and was looking for another, I went out and got “My Life in France.” I wondered what the book was going to be about and if I was going to be able to relate to Julia; after all, if she were alive today, she’d be 58 years older than me! Well, within the first 7 pages I was ready for a trip to Paris. What a neat woman!! She had determination like no other and quite an engaging personality. She had a strong curiosity for life and for the people who surrounded her. And as it turns out, we do have quite a few things in common. We both met our husbands when we were 32 years old. Our husbands are 10 years older than us. We must to create a dish over and over again until we get it just right!! We realized our intense passion for food, especially cooking, later in life. And now, we both love to write about food and share our knowledge with whoever will listen!! Who knew?!

Life is an interesting experience filled with strange happenings, and I love to encounter, absorb and realize them. Everything happens because it is supposed to, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the pretty. I’m not saying in any way that I’ll be the next Julia Child, no way, one could only dream of that! I am saying that if it weren’t for my childhood gal pals leading me to Facebook, then I wouldn’t have reunited with Patty, I wouldn’t have taken the leap to write a blog, and I wouldn’t have discovered the person who is Julia Child, and I wouldn’t have rediscovered the person who I am today….do you see where I’m going with this?

Enjoy the day and remember…it’s OK to play with your food. Julia Child did!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are you looking for a good burger?

You must check out Luxe Burger in downtown Providence! Their burger menu is set up like a sushi menu, it’s very unique. There is a paper “Burger Menu” (as well as a full menu) and you check off what you’d like and how you’d like it. First you pick out the meat of your choice (there are 6 options), and then you pick from a long list of goodies to dress your burger with such as a variety of cheeses, toppings, sauces etc. Not only that, but you are free to dress your fries too! They offer cheese, chili, jalapenos along with many other toppings, oh don’t forget the bacon!!!

When it came to burgers I was totally traditional, just ketchup & mustard please. Then one day I ordered a hamburger and forgot to ask for it without the pickle. I bit into it, tasted the tang, zestiness and sweetness of the pickle and thought, holy shnikies! For the last @# years I have been missing the best part of the burger… the pickle!! How could I have been so stubborn all of these years? Didn’t I learn with the whole “tasting the cantaloupe” thing?! Anyway, I thank my lucky stars each time I eat a burger now, and I always ask for extra pickles!!

The other night Charles & I decided to use our gift card for Luxe Burger and we are glad we did! Kenny the bartender greeted us with a smile and was very knowledgeable and helpful in navigating us through the menu. When we asked about the Gold Label Burger, Kenny told us it was a combination of 3 types of beef: sirloin, chuck, and brisket. I am not sure who thought of this concoction, but I want to thank them because it is a very juicy and tasty blend.

The combinations on the burger menu are endless, and since I am a traditionalist, I had a tough time deciding on whether or not I should change my ways. Then I thought of that mysterious pickle on my burger and the surprise it brought when I bit into it. “I must try something new on my burger,” I thought…but what? Then I saw those 3 magical words…Fried Onion Strings!!! Oh yea baby, that’s it, I’m going to get fried onion strings on my burger!!! Giddy up! Now how about a sauce? If I am going to try a different topping, I must get a different sauce too. As I read down the long list of sauces, I couldn’t find anything that seemed to catch my eye like the words “fried onion strings” did. Then, the third to last sauce was practically blinking at me on the menu “Garlic Aioli! Garlic Aioli! Garlic Aioli!” Now I’ve got it, I am going to have a Gold Label burger on a sesame seed bun with garlic aioli, fried onion strings, and of course, pickles!! Oh, I can’t forget the side of hand cut fries.

When the burger arrived I couldn’t wait to dive in. I must admit, I was excited yet a bit nervous about the new flavors that were waiting for me. What if it wasn’t what I had expected? What if I just wanted my ketchup and mustard back? Ahhh!! Bite into it and find out already!! From the first bite to the last, it was out of this world. Between the juiciness of the burger, the garlic aioli, the crispy onions, and the tangy pickles, I was in burger heaven! It was a disco party in my mouth!!

The best thing about Luxe Burger is the fact that they do not make dense patties the size of softballs. The beef was gently packed into a perfectly sized patty that was very juicy, tender and delicious. Not only that, they don’t put all of the toppings on the top of the burger, some of the “toppings” go underneath the burger! This offers a nice balance for the bun so all of the toppings don’t go flying out when you bite into the burger…genius!

I wish I had my camera to take a picture of Charles’ burger because it was picture perfect! Charles also had the Gold Label Burger and chose the wheat bun. On top of the burger, there were sweet caramelized onions as well as a copious amount of gorgonzola cheese that had gently melted with the heat from the burger. Underneath the burger, Charles opted for roasted red peppers and fresh baby spinach, “A perfectly dressed burger” he said. The side of sweet potato fries was cooked just right, with a nice delicate crunch and a light sprinkle of salt. When the burger was cut in half, the colors were just beautiful…and the taste? Unforgettable!!!

At Luxe Burger, it's OK to play with your food!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What to do with all that watermelon...

Before I get into the watermelon recipes, I'd like to share some information on how to tell if a watermelon is ripe enough to purchase.

First and foremost, if you can get your watermelon, or any fruits and veggies, at your local farmer’s market, then please do so. Farmers know exactly when to pick their produce and take pride in selling you the best product possible. Local produce is always fresh, hasn’t been sitting in a truck and then the market for days, and isn’t covered with wax and who knows what else. So please let the Farmer’s Markets be your first choice, support your local farmers!!

The best way to see if a watermelon is ripe is to give it a thump. If it makes a hollow, deep thud, it is ripe. Next, pick up your deep-thudding melon and compare its weight with a few other watermelons that are the same size. The heavier the melon, the juicer and more ripe it is. Another way to see if a watermelon is ripe is to look for the patch on the melon where it was resting on the ground. This patch should be yellow or yellow-ish white. If it is bright white, it is not yet ripe. There was another interesting method I read about but haven’t tried yet. Take a long piece of straw or dried grass and place it across the width of the melon. If it is ripe, it should spin to lay lengthwise! Sometimes it will keep spinning!

My first watermelon recipe is a spin-off from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. She is a great chef and has simple yet wonderful recipes!

Refreshingly Unique Watermelon

¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh lime (or lemon) juice

¼ cup simple syrup (recipe to follow)
Watermelon balls from ½ of a melon

Put the first 3 ingredients in a blender and blend. Toss over watermelon balls and serve.

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved, you have simple syrup. Reserve any extra syrup and use it for iced coffee or iced tea. Using simple syrup in your cold drinks helps immediately blend the sugar into the drink. No more sugar chunks at the bottom of your glass!

Wondering what to do with the rest of the watermelon? Here are a few suggestions:

Watermelon sorbet

Take the remaining watermelon balls (drained) from the recipe above (or plain ‘ole watermelon) and fill a blender. Add ¼ cup simple syrup and ¼ cup lime juice, blend. Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze. If you don't have a popsicle mold, you can freeze this in a Tupperware container. It will be a little hard to scoop out so just let it sit for a bit.

Watermelon Limeade

5 cups watermelon
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup simple syrup

Blend ingredients together and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh basil.

Be free and creative with your recipe. If you don’t have any blueberries, try using raspberries or strawberries. Maybe you could use half watermelon and half cantaloupe!

Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

Take 5 cups of the watermelon balls from recipe above (or plain watermelon) and put in your blender.
Add 1/4 cup simple syrup and 1/4 cup lime juice, blend
OR you could use 5 cups of Watermelon Limeade
Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Fill blender halfway with frozen watermelon cubes.
Add ½ cup tequila and 1 tablespoon of triple-sec.
Blend and enjoy!!!

Remember, it's ok to play with your food!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The story & recipe of Sassy Salsa

Each year my husband & I plant a modest garden in our back yard, and we love to cook with the fresh veggies that are produced. There is always a fantasy I have that the tomatoes and hot peppers will be so abundant, I will be able to make a ton of fresh salsa and enough tomato sauce to get us through the winter. Well, this year my fantasy is coming true!! Our tomatoes are ripening by bushel, and the hot peppers are poppin’ by the pound. First comes the salsa…Bliss!!

An old friend of mine would make salsa on the stove top, which was something I had never seen before and was very curious about. He would puree the ingredients together and let it simmer on the stovetop until they reduced a bit and the flavors intensified. As he was stirring it, my curiosity grew and I had to go check this out. I took a whiff of this delicious concoction and the fumes from the hot peppers went through my nose and came out my eyes…Wow! Intense!! Must have!!! The flavor of this salsa was like no other I had tasted since visiting New Mexico 15 years ago. My mission to find a similar recipe began…

Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to find a recipe that reminded me of my friend’s salsa. It is a little different, but has that same intense, fresh, spicy flavor. I named my version Sassy Salsa…Why Sassy Salsa?...you’ll see when you taste it for yourself!

When I first looked at the recipe, I was nervous that the roasting process wouldn’t create the same flavor as my friends but I had to give it a whirl anyway… you never know ‘til you try. Thank goodness I did try it because this is the best salsa ever and is exactly what I was looking for. The roasting of the ingredients intensifies the flavors perfectly; it’s like having a party on my tongue!!! Ole!! 

Sassy Salsa

15 plum tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
½ small onion, quartered
2 chili peppers (just 1 for a mild spice, or none for spice-free salsa)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin (this adds a nice smoky flavor)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (just have a lemon? use 2 Tbsp instead)
1/4 cup fresh parsley

1. Preheat the broiler. (Want an even more intense flavor? Roast them on the grill!)
2. Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion and chili peppers in a medium baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Broil 10-20 minutes stirring occasionally until outsides of vegetables are just charred.
4. Remove vegetables from the broiler and let cool until warm to the touch. Peel the tomato skins off (they come off very easily!), cut the tomato in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Remove the stem from the chili pepper and the skins from the garlic and onion.
5. Place the roasted vegetables and remaining ingredients in the food processor and coarsely chop.
6. Enjoy!!!

One fun thing about cooking is that no recipe is set in stone. Originally this salsa recipe called for cilantro, but I had parsley in the garden so I used that instead. I actually prefer the parsley because it has the same fresh taste as cilantro but is a bit milder. The first time I made this, I didn’t have an onion so I didn’t use an onion; it was still fabulous. If there is an ingredient that you don’t have or don’t like, you may be able to eliminate it or substitute it. If you aren’t sure, just let me know and I’ll help you out!! Also, feel free to add things to the recipe such as fresh mango, pineapple or peach chunks!! YUMMM!!! Those will jazz up any salsa! (Stir them in after the chopping process.)

Now, don’t feel limited to pairing only tortilla chips with this salsa. Oh no my friend, the possibilities are endless! Sassy Salsa is awesome in an omelet, on a burger (or in a burger!!), stirred into some whipped cream cheese, on fish, on a hot dog, as a sandwich spread, over roasted chicken, mixed in with roasted potatoes…etc.

Explore and be free with your food!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The eternal search for clammy clam cakes, can you help?

Where do you go for clam cakes in the RI area? My husband & I are on what seems like an eternal search for a decent clam cake. When I bite into a clam cake, I surprisingly expect to bite into a clam or two, but lately that is just not the case. The clam cakes are usually tasty, but there are just no clams. Is there a clam cake out there that was the last one scooped from the batter and loaded with clams? Hmmm, maybe the clams are minced and you just can’t see them? I’m not sure, but I’d love some information on them.

While we’re on the subject of clams, how about some clammy clam chowder to go along with the clam cakes. Last week we were in Matunuck for clam cakes & chowder and we ended up with clam-less cakes and bacon-potato chowder. Now don’t get me wrong, bacon is #1 on my list of favorite foods and I do appreciate it in my chowder, but bacon-potato chowder wasn’t on the menu. (If you were to puree that with a ton of cheese…YUM!!!!!...I’d have to call that Super Soup! Hmmm...that is going to be my winter project now…I’m on it…but I digress.) What's the dilly? Where are the clams? Won’t you tell me your favorite places to go for clam cakes & chowder? I know that restaurant is out there somewhere, the one that serves both clammy clam cakes AND clammy clam chowder. Please comment below this post to let me know where you go for these awesome summer treats, and we’ll try them out this weekend!

Enjoy the day!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

OK, my blog is titled “It’s all about food…well, mostly!” What are the “non-food” things that I will be blogging about? Mostly they will be about my sweet husband Charles and my silly dog Daisey. They are my partners in crime and always keep me laughing, motivated and feeling loved. Today I will tell you the story of why we adopted Daisey from Twin River in Lincoln, RI.

For many, many years I have wanted to adopt a Greyhound. One day Charles was doing some work up on the Twin River property and decided to stop in the adoption center to see what these dogs are all about. He couldn’t quite understand why I was so adamant on getting a Greyhound over any other dog. As soon as he stepped into the pen where 6 Greyhounds were playing, he understood. Of the 6 dogs playing, there was one dog in particular; she was drawn to Charles like a magnet. When he was talking with the woman who was tending to the dogs, he felt something wet in his hand…it was a dog’s nose…perfect fit! "Hmmm," he thought with a grin on his face…”what would happen if I moved to the other side of the pen?” So Charles went to the other side of the pen and like a magnet, the same gentle dog’s nose was in the palm of his hand…he fell in love on the spot.

Later that day I received a phone call, “Hey Beth, I was in Lincoln today and this girl was all over me.” Now, I knew he wasn’t talking about a woman only because if he was he knew I’d immediately change the locks on the house (among other things)! Ha! Then he told me how hairy she was, right away I knew that he had visited the dog track. “You have to come at meet this dog; she is so sweet and beautiful!” (Side note: this is one month before our wedding date of October 4, 2008.) I was a bit hesitant about adopting a dog as I was preoccupied about the wedding, yet at the same time very excited…a dog!!! The next week I went by myself to visit this particular pooch and she was the same way with me, just like a magnet. Where ever I went, she would gently approach me and put her wet nose in my hand. I found a leash to walk her around the property with, and after our walk I realized the entire leash was embroidered with “Charlie.” Hmmm, that’s funny, I thought.

For the next week, Charles & I discussed the possibility of adopting a dog and agreed to visit her together…2 weeks before our wedding on October 4. When we got to the kennel, June, the wonderful woman who has devoted her life to Greyhound adoption, greeted us with her warm heart and gracious smile. She gave us a leash and had us walk the dog together. When we got back inside, I asked June how old this sweet pooch is, and she told me to look in her ear. There’s a tattoo in each ear, one is her registration number and the other is the month and year of her birth followed by a letter which stands for her birth order. I peek into her ear and see 104C. My jaw dropped as I showed Charles what I saw...he had the same reaction. Her tattoo is 104C!!! She was born in October ’04 and was 3rd in the birth order (ABC)…our wedding day was in 2 weeks on October 4th…C…Charles…!!!!! We both looked up and said “We’ll take her!!!” Daisey is a wonderful addition to our family, and we couldn't imagine life without her!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A bit about my culinary beginnings

Well, not only do I love to cook, but I also loooove to bake. It is unusual to have a passion for both culinary areas, but for some crazy reason I do. Generally, people who love to cook don’t like the precision and “rules” necessary to bake; and people who like to bake need the exactness of a recipe in order to feel comfortable. Being an unusual gal myself, I love both. The freedom of cooking liberates me. Knowing that I can switch ingredients on a whim allows my creative juices to flow and keeps me on my toes. On the flip side, the preciseness of baking is more structured and allows me to focus on what I am producing. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of creative freedom when baking as you’ll see from my cookie menu. First and foremost, you have to understand the science behind baking, and then you’ll feel free to listen to your creative voice.

My baking career started when my Grammy asked me to help her make dessert for my Grampy’s birthday, I was just 4 years old. We made a cherry cobbler, and I remember it like it was yesterday (it was far from yesterday!). My Grammy sat me on the counter and showed me how to mix the filling…”gently”…Then we made the crumble topping. This was the best part because I got to put my hands in the bowl and get messy mushing the ingredients through my fingers, so liberating. Together we sprinkled the crumble topping over the filling, and I watched her place it in the oven. Then it came time to sing to my Grampy and that is when it hit me…the smile on his face was as big as ever…he knew I made the dessert…and look how happy it made him!!! From that moment on I was hooked, not only on the baking part, but on the huge smiles that followed.

After baking for someone else for 7 awesome years, I decided to branch off and start my own business. Quint’s Finest Gourmet Cookies & More was born in September of ’09, and I just love it. Times can be extremely stressful, but it is very fulfilling to own my own business. Of course, my favorite part is creating new recipes. I am constantly experimenting with new flavor combinations from ideas that pop into my head at 3 a.m. Some cookies are deep and rich, like the Devil’s Delight; and some cookies are light and crisp, like Lime Shortbread. Right now I have 16 flavors and counting! Wait a minute, isn’t that a TV show? Oh no, that’s kids…ha ha ha.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tonight's dinner...

Since I got a bit caught up writing this blog today, I decided to make an old favorite of ours, Boboli pizzas. Boboli's are the best invention ever, I just love them!! They are so versatile and help make a quick dinner possible, just 10-15 minutes at 425*. Tonight we have pesto pizza with tomatoes, hot peppers and basil right from our garden! I also love to add olives and parmesan cheese...and whatever else we can find in the fridge... Be creative with your Boboli!!

My first post...

OK…here we go! This is my first blog posting ever. I must be honest; I’m a bit nervous, yet very excited!! You will find most of my posts will be about food, either something I’ve made, recipes that have been shared or found, restaurants that I have visited or any other thing that has to do with food. My husband & I just love food, and we love to explore flavors from all over the world. Since we can't travel the world, we bring the world into our kitchen.

The funny thing is I didn’t always have this affinity for food. For the first 11 years of my life, the only things I would eat were peanut butter & jelly, spaghetti & butter, Capt’n Crunch, and grilled cheese sandwiches (the cheese must be white!!). So, to the Mom’s out there with similar children, don’t worry too much, as long as the get the protein and vitamins from a certain source, they’ll be alright.

When did I discover just how wonderful food can be? Around 17 years ago I was at a luncheon and a fruit plate was served. I wasn’t too keen on anything in the melon family, but that's what was offered. Like a polite trooper, I tasted the fruit, and what a surprise I had!! The cantaloupe was super sweet and juicy, with a warm, mellow flavor, and I just fell in love with it. Then I tried the green melon. With a crisp, yet sweet flavor and just as juicy as the cantaloupe, I fell in love again. I had been living in Florida for 2 years, where the freshest fruit was all around me, and I had never tasted melon?!? Crazy, no? Why had I dug my heels in the ground when it came to trying something new, especially something as simple as fruit? I never answered that question, but from that moment on, I had agreed to try just about anything that was on my plate…I do have my limits!!