Thursday, March 25, 2010

Apiculture….are you familiar with the word “apiculture”? To be honest with you, I don’t think I have ever heard of it. I happened upon the word when I googled the “honey” in preparation for writing this blog. What I learned is this….Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin apis, bee) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect honey and beeswax, to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary. There is an apiary just down the road from the vineyard. The bees love the grape vines!

Now, let’s talk about honey as a natural guard against allergies.

The idea behind eating honey to fight allergies, is kind of like gradually vaccinating the body against allergens, a process called immunotherapy. Honey contains a variety of the same pollen spores that give allergy sufferers so much trouble when flowers and grasses are in bloom. Introducing these spores into the body in small amounts by eating honey should make the body accustomed to their presence and decrease the chance an immune system response like the release of histamine will occur. Since the concentration of pollen spores found in honey is low -- compared to, say, sniffing a flower directly -- then the production of antibodies shouldn't trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. Ideally, the honey-eater won't have any reaction at all.

You just have to make sure you are eating honey that is truly local. Eating honey from bees even 10 miles away may not help you because chances are, their honey does not contain the pollen from the plants that are making you sneeze! So, buy local!

Now, it is time for cooking with honey!

Start your day off with Applesauce Breakfast Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Cream butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in honey until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl; reserve 2 tablespoons flour mixture. Combine dates, walnuts and reserved 2 tablespoons flour mixture in small bowl; set aside. Add remaining flour mixture and applesauce alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in date mixture. Pour batter into greased 13 × 9 × 2-inch pan. Bake at 325ºF 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.

Serve Mexican Coffee with it!

4 cups hot espresso-style coffee
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sweetened whipped cream
Chocolate shavings

Combine coffee, half-and-half, honey, cocoa and cinnamon in blender and blend 1 minute on high. Pour into mugs; garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

For dinner….Grilled Pork Loin with Honey and Port

1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Somerset Ridge Tawny Port
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 cup dried apricots
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Rub pork loin with olive oil and kosher salt. Place in bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pour hot marinade over pork; cover and chill for several hours. Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade.
Preheat dome-shaped charcoal grill. Sear all sides of pork roast. Place on roasting rack. Cover grill; cook pork to an internal temperature of 150ºF, about 35 minutes. Baste frequently with marinade. Remove from grill. Cover and keep warm for 15 minutes. Reserve all juices.
Heat reserved marinade to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes; add pork juices and simmer a few minutes more. Slice pork loin to serve; arrange on plates. Pour warm sauce over slices.

And for dessert…..Honey Ice Cream!
1 pint Heavy cream
1 pint Light cream
8 Egg yolks
4 ounces Honey

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the heavy and light cream and heat just to a simmer.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and honey together until pale, slightly thickened and at the ribbon stage. Slowly add the heated cream, whisking continuously, so as not to cook the yolks.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and cool over an ice bath. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

12th century olive oil mill
Look what I just received! A photo of the olive oil mill I blogged about yesterday! I want to thank Mariann Vandenberg ( for sending it to me. Mariann planned a perfect trip for us! And she obviously has a better camera than I have!
It is hard to judge the size of the mill and the room. If my memory is correct, the base of the mill was maybe 3 feet high and 5 feet in diameter. The monks would hold onto the long handle and walk around the outside of the mill, crushing the olives. Oh what we do for that perfect golden green oil!

Have you ever eaten Bagna Cauda, that wonderful warm "olive oil bath" for crudites. There are so many stories about how the recipe was developed, too many to really find the truth. All I know is, Bagna Cauda is wonderful! Since it is warm, served in a little cup over a candle, most people feel it is a winter dish. Trust me, with all of the spring veggies about to pop up in our gardens, don't wait for next winter! Enjoy it now!

Photo by Rubber Slippers in Italy

Bagna Cauda, A Piedmontese fondue to be served with fresh raw vegetables

Serves 6
One head garlic or to taste
1 to 1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, buy the best you can afford!
8 whole salted anchovies, briefly rinsed in water.
Assorted vegetables for dipping, including carrot strips, cauliflower, jicama, broccoli, celery, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus

In a food processor, blend the anchovies,  the peeled cloves from a head of garlic, and about half a cup of olive oil. Process until it is the consistency of a paste. Pour into a heavy saucepan and cook over very low heat for about 25 minutes, until lightly brown in color. To serve, pour into bagna cauda warmer, or small fondue pot, and add olive oil to thin slightly.  There are some recipes that call for 1/4 cup softened butter to be blended in at this point., I never turn down butter! Use this mixture to dip vegetables or bread, or serve over grilled polenta or roasted vegetables.

Be aware however, "one head of garlic" can be huge, can be small....can be mild, can be strong. Some people like to steep the cloves in hot milk for an hour to remove some of the harsh taste of raw garlic. I personally feel the traditional way is the only way. It is suppose to be garlicky!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In October, 2008, I took a trip to Sicily to study Food, Wine and Olive Oil, as well as the history of Sicily. It was everything I had hoped it would be! The island of Sicily is a region of Italy but they have a self governing community. The people are proud to say they are, indeed, Sicilians first, Italians second.
They have every reason to be proud, their history is amazing. A beautiful mountainous island, Sicily has been occupied by a series of traders, migrants and invaders including Phoenicians, Greeks, Cathaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Angevins and Spaniards, each leaving their own architecture, art and cuisine. We were treated to some of the world's greatest food!

Tucked away on a remote mountainside is Gangivecchio, once a Roman outpost, then a fourteenth-century Benedictine abbey. Today, it is a world-class restaurant and inn, and for special occasions, a cooking school. Every moment at Gangivecchio was incredible. I loved the restaurant, the inn, the cooking demonstrations and of course, the food. But as I think back on my time there, it is the history of the place that excited me the most.

In the center of the original structure is an open air courtyard that took my breath away. On one side was a beautiful stairway leading up to the second level. The owners had positioned potted plants here and there, all with colorful blossoms. The floor of the courtyard was cobblestone, much of it over 1200 years old. Off to one side, there was an area blocked off with rope. In the center…..a “dig” was going on. It seems they discovered some artifacts from 400BC just a few feet beneath those cobblestones!

Just beyond the “dig”, directly across from the stairway, was an opening leading into a pitch black chamber. Just outside that chamber, hanging from an ancient old board, were whole cherry tomato plants, drying in the hot Sicilian sun. I was fascinated with the whole picture; the darks, the lights, the stones, the intrigue of that dark portal. My camera came close to a meltdown!

Photos taken, I had to see what was in that black opening. After being in the sun-drenched courtyard, it took more than a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the cool darkness. As they began to focus on what was before me, my heart was pounding! There, tucked away off the courtyard, in a tiny room, was the ancient hand carved stone olive oil mill, used by the Benedictine Monks in the 1300s! I have to say, few places or things have had that particular effect on me. I love history! I felt so much a part of that place, that time. I wanted to stay forever.

I hated to leave Gangivecchio. I had been there such a short time and there were so many nooks and crannies I wanted to investigate. I truly felt a loss as we drove back over the mountains, but as I checked my camera, I realized I had a future painting of Gangivecchio before me!

As I said, it has been a year and a half since my trip. I've looked at that photograph at least once a week. I printed out an 8x10, so I could think about my painting. I showed it to all of my fellow painters and instructors, all the time trying to get the nerve to attempt to capture my favorite place in Sicily.

The month of March proved to be my time. It is so rare for me to be pleased with a painting, but I truly am happy! Gangivecchio makes me feel like I am in that courtyard; I can feel the hot sun, then… there it is….that black portal is before me! Thank you, Sicily!

The Inn and Restaurant at Gangivecchio are owned by the Tornabene family. Wanda amd Giovanna, mother and daughter, have written 4 or 5 cookbooks, and of course, I had to bring them home with me.
In   La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio, I found Wanda's meatball recipe, Polpette alla Wanda. I love them!
1 pound ground veal
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 large eggs
1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/3 cup day-old bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
1/2 cup diced mortadella
1/3 cup diced ham
olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and ground pepper
Mix together all the ingredients from the veal through the ham. Shape into 16 equal-sized meatballs and flatten slightly into oval shapes.
Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with 1/4 inch of olive oil and fry the ovals until well browned on each side. Transfer to a heavy pot.
Add the onion, tomato paste, sugar and 1 cup of water to the same frying pan, stirring to release any tasty particles sticking to the bottom, and cook for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the meatballs and add enough cold water to almost cover them. Sprinkle the tops of the meatballs lightly with flour. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Do you realize June will be here in a flash? I need to be painting like a mad woman, but haven't had much time lately. The Art in the Vines show will be upon me before I know it! Somerset Ridge Vineyard is looking spectacular now that the snow is gone (surely it is gone!). The second week in April should bring "bud break" when the vines suddenly wake up after a long winter. They are eager to show off by sending out beautiful thick canes, soon to be heavy with bright green leaves and gorgeous clusters of grapes!
The vineyard will be the venue of not only the Art in the Vines, but also weddings and formal dinners.
It is such a perfect setting for romantic events!
Are you familiar with that amazing event designer, Colin Cowie? I met Colin when he was in Kansas City probably 10 or 12 years ago. He came to Nordstrom's to introduce a new book. He facinated me! Ever since then, I have been a Colin Cowie Fan.
Don't I wish he would be hired by a Kansas City bride to come and plan her wedding at Somerset Ridge Vineyard! Check out his newsletter, great events of all kinds, fabulous recipes, great gift ideas. Beautiful photography, beautiful party ideas.  Go to

Here is one of Colin's recipes from his newsletter.....heavenly! Thank you, Colin, for letting me share you and your newsletter with my friends and fans!
Spicy Shrimp SalsaYield: 4 Servings

•1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

•2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

•1/4 cup diced red onion

•1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

•1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced

•1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

•Juice of 1 lime

•1/4 cup olive oil

•Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Cut each shrimp into 4 pieces and place them in a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, chile, and parsley and mix to combine. Add the lime juice and oil and toss to mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Chill until serving time and serve with tortilla chips and beer.

Now, I really must go paint! A new Lago di Como is trying to come to life on my canvas!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gigabiting » Blog Archive » Chillin’ With My Peeps

I must share this blog with you. I discovered it several weeks ago and thought it was good, but then along came the "Peeps" posting! Make sure you read it and follow the links when they sound interesting to you. Hope you enjoy it as much as you enjoy "Peeps"! That reminds me, I need to hit the candy aisle at the grocery store............
To read this blog, click on  Gigabiting » Blog Archive » Chillin’ With My Peeps

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Could this possibly work? Will Americans develope the backbone to win back our country?
Can "WE THE PEOPLE" stand up and be counted?
 Time will tell....

I wrote a post several months ago, then felt maybe I was being too radical....I could picture my 3 kids rolling their eyes, wishing I'd never gotten into blogging! Me, radical, sure!
Anyway, I ended up saving the post, basically chickening out. Not anymore!
Yesterday I called the White House and left a message for Obama, telling him that
he is encouraging our government  to flush 234 years of freedom down the toilet.
What do you want to bet mine was not the only message he received?
What do you want to bet he never bothers with messages from the citizens of America!

         Call the White House TODAY!  202-456-1414

Call your Senator and Congressman today!
U.S. Capitol Switchboard 
and ask for your senators' and/or representative's office. far as I am concerned, they all should go.
American Government and American History need to be taught
like they were when I was in high school...50 years ago!
Americans need to know:
What it took to become an independent country!
What it took to become the best place in the world to live!
What it took to be America, the Beautiful!

At the same time, Americans need the truth about how we got into the position we are in today.Greed and Power have destroyed our government, and is doing all it can to destroy the America we love!

Wake up, America!
Thank you for all the messages and inquiries as to where the h*?# I have been since my last posting. My little 91 year old Mother took a tumble and has been in the hospital. She is home now, and hopefully she will stay safe. If you should happen to see her somewhere and she doesn't have her scold her and tell her "Kay said for you to use your walker!" Chances are she won't listen, but we must try!

Happy St Patrick's Day to you! No. I am not going to give you an Irish recipe. There is enough Corned Beef and Cabbage in the world. I will share a recipe today, but nothing green!

I have fun times planned for Friday night. My dear friends at The Piano Room in Kansas City are saving my favorite table for me and I am meeting some of my Somerset Ridge Painters and their husbands for a great evening. That Master of the Keyboard, Mr Dave McCubbin, will be filling our evening with song. He not only plays the keyboard beautifully, but he sings, too! If you have never been to the Piano Room, you must go. Dave is one of the Treasures of Kansas City! The Piano Room was formerly Inge's Bar, a landmark in the Waldo area.
Unfortunately, the Piano Room does not serve food, but Ginny, the owner, has never frowned at you bringing in your own nibbles to have with her perfectly prepared mixed drinks or a glass of wine! Since I know my "Painters", I am going to take food on Friday. After much thought, I have decided to take an old recipe, a great "take along" kind of appetizer. It is called "Bread Pot Fondue".

Bread Pot Fondue
serves 8

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese                      
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces pepperoni sausage, I buy Farmland
1/2 cup chopped green onions
4 ounces can green chilies
1 loaf round bread, top removed and inside   hollowed out. Save top!
1 large bag of Fritos

Chop pepperoni and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Drain.
Mix all ingredients, pour into a hollowed out loaf of bread. Replace top, wrap in foil.
Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.
Serve with Fritos.

This recipe travels well and stays hot! I keep it wrapped in the foil and then wrap in in a large towel. I unwrap it when it is time to serve it, surround it with the Fritos and make sure a serrated knife is handy for cutting chunks of the bread (probably the best part!).
So, this definitely not a GOURMET recipe, but it is so simple and so good! One tip...don't use a round loaf of bread that has been stored in a plastic bag. You want a fresh crispy loaf. Here in Kansas City, we have a bread company called Farm to Market Bread. They make the perfect loaf for this recipe! You can find them at all the Hen House Grocery Stores.

Hate to cut this short, but I must go see Mom and then get my taxes done...heaven only knows our "Government" (and I use the term loosely) needs all the money they can get their hands on! By the way, I left several messages for the President and my Congressmen yesterday. The switchboards in D.C. were HOT!
Do you think anyone listens to the messages?????????
Have a great day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

At last, a week with plenty of “nap time”! I feel ready to take on the world again. After a month of pressure and very little sleep, not to mention constant bad weather, I am up and running again!

I’m doing two painting classes a week at ARTichokes, helping to organize the Art and Wine Crawl that will be held June 19th in Paola, Kansas, and of course, my favorite event of all time, Art in the Vines, to be held June 12th at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery.

It is so good to be back in painting classes again! Becky Pashia, the co-owner of Artichokes, and one of my two instructors, has always given me that jolt to pick up a paint brush and get busy. I am more organized, more prolific, and I paint with more abandon. Then there is my other instructor, dear little Ada Koch, one of the sweetest people I know. Ada can look at me and say “Do you see all the color in that clear glass?” In the beginning, I did not….but I do today! Ada has taught me to “see” what I am looking at. She lets me do my own thing in class, but she keeps close tabs on me, too.
Yes, it is so good to be back….and good for me! If you love to paint, or have always wanted to paint, go to and check out their classes. While you are there, scroll through the artwork and their list of artists. Becky and Megan Sutherland provide Kansas City with beautiful shows in their gallery.

 Paola Art and Wine Crawl is in the early planning stage, but with the beautiful town square full of paintings, sculpture, music and food, I know it is going to be a great day. The plan is to have each merchant around the square offer a different wine and display some of the art. So, by the time you have visited all of them, you will be saying “That was FUN!” Mark you calendars, June 19th.

And while we are on the subject of Paola, don't miss the Anniversary Week at Molly's Table in Paola. Donna Nagle's restaurant will be featuring local "chefs", friends and neighbors there in town who are famous for a particular recipe they have perfected. It is a great idea and should be fun. The Somerset Ridge Painters and I will be there for lunch on Tuesday, 3/16 to help Donna and her staff celebrate!

Somerset Ridge Art in the Vines.
We held the first show last year and it was a roaring success! I have 30 artists coming this year, each bringing their work to hang in among the vines. You come out, get a bottle of your favorite Somerset Ridge wine and a couple of glasses, and then spend the afternoon meandering through the vineyard enjoying the art and talking to the artists. There will be live music and food! It is such a fun celebration, one you do not want to miss. June 12th!

Speaking of Somerset Ridge, now that spring (and daylight savings time!) is coming, the vineyard will be hopping with fun events and special days. On weekends, The Veranda will be providing a great place to sit and enjoy live music, and a selection of fun foods to pair perfectly with the wonderful wines of Somerset. The winery is a great place to spend part of your weekend! Check their webpage and sign up to receive the newsletter. You will receive announcements for special events.

Can you believe it! It looks like we may actually have SPRING after all! I’ve been talking about fresh herbs and spring vegetables. I’ve been dreaming about fresh asparagus and baby spinach, pots of beautiful crisp basil, fragrant mint and soft fuzzy sage. I want to cover my deck with every herb I can find. I need to dig out all of the pots from last year, get them cleaned up and filled with potting soil so,when the herbs arrive at the green houses, I’ll be ready. The shallots at the vineyard should be shooting up in a month, about the same time we have “bud break”. The wonderful thing about shallots is they multiply all the time! We should have plenty to use for preparing our harvest lunches. At Somerset Ridge, we believe in using fresh, using local!

What says spring more than Lamb and Mint? The two are a perfect combination and I figure it is time to get some recipes lined up featuring Lamb. Here is one of my favorites

Minty Pasta Salad with Lamb
5 oz. dried fettuccine
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1 recipe Mint Herb Pesto, below
12 small lamb double rib chops
3 cups arugula
1 cup fresh mint leaves
Pine nuts, toasted

For Mint Herb Pesto:
1/2 cup lightly packed arugula
1/2 cup lightly packed mint
1/2 cup lightly packed basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup shredded pecorino cheese
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse; drain. Transfer to bowl; toss with oil and lemon peel. Prepare Mint-Herb Pesto. Add to pasta; toss. Set aside. (Pasta may be chilled up to 24 hours.)
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle lamb lightly with salt and pepper. For a charcoal grill, place chops on rack directly over medium coals. Grill, uncovered, 10 minutes (145 degrees F for medium-rare), turning once. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place chops on rack over heat. Cover; grill as above.)
3. Toss pasta with arugula and mint. Top with grilled chops; sprinkle with pine nuts. Makes 6 servings.
4. Mint-Herb Pesto: In blender or food processor combine arugula, mint, basil, extra virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, and minced garlic. Cover; blend or process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add the shredded pecorino cheese and crushed red pepper. Cover; blend or process until just combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker