Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery is always a blast!

When they release a new wine at the same time….it turns into quite a party.

The day started at 10am with a Yoga class in the vineyard. Now honestly, I personally have never taken a Yoga class, but I do understand the concept, the desire to find simplicity, peace, and poise; to feel serenity and tranquility.

We had 25 Yoga students, with their mats spread out in the wide grassy area at the top of the hill. There, Brenda Wrischnik of Paola, led the class through the stages of Yoga, while the birds sang, the breeze rustled through the leaves on the vines. As they felt their bodies relax, the sky was a beautiful soft blue overhead. I have always said I could be in the worst mood and walk into the vineyard and immediately feel peace and happiness take over my mind, my body and certainly my attitude! I’m pretty sure everyone participating in the class went through the same attitude adjustment today, thanks to Brenda and Somerset Ridge.

I had the opportunity to discuss the class with several of the students immediately following the class and every one of them said it was probably the most perfect yoga class they have ever taken. You know that old saying “location, location, location”? Well, I think the vineyard is THE LOCATION for Yoga!

Strange how things work out….the yoga class over, they were ready to come into the winery and try the new wine, Aphrodite, a dry rose. As they wandered about the Tasting Room, they discovered Cindy had arranged for Napoleon’s, the number one French bakery in the Midwest, to have their Croissants, Almond Tarts and the most wonderful Raspberry Glazed Passion Fruit Mousse Cake there waiting for them. So much for diet and exercise! We do try to have wonderful food available on weekends.

Once again, the Veranda was packed with couples, groups, families, old friends….all enjoying the Spanish guitar of Jerrod Stephenson. Sitting there, enjoying the music, eating a box lunch, drinking a bottle of chilled crisp white or an big oaky red, or our new rose, Aphrodite (very much like the pinks of Southern France), they enjoyed one of those perfect weather days here in Kansas….a great time was had by all!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This is Memorial Day weekend. To some it means picnics, or time to put the boat back in the water. For many it means partying. And of course, the swimming pool opens!

All of those events are fun and it is wonderful for families to be together, enjoying a weekend full of fun and food, but let us not forget the true reason for the holiday.

In this country we have set aside a day to honor those men and women who have died protecting our country. It is just one day out of 365, so please take a few moments this Memorial Day and thank these men and women who made it possible for us to live in a free America.
 I am well aware we are living in a country with great unrest and genuine concern about our future, but if we remember our roots, remember how this great country came to be, we will find the strength to return to those roots, and to uphold our Constitution.
Come Monday morning, I will make my drive to the National Cemetery in Leavenworth.

As I look across the gently rolling hills, with row after row of perfectly spaced snow white headstones, I will thank our military for protecting us;
I will cry when they play Taps,
I will smile as I stop to spend time with
Colonel Arch Tucker.
Arch, my late husband, was a true red, white and blue Fighter Pilot in the United States Air Force for 33 years. During the 10 years I was honored to be his wife, I learned about the patriotism, the strength, the dedication, and the loyalty that is at the core of our military. Arch, and every one of his Air Force buddies that I learned to call friends , believed it was an honor and duty to protect the
Flag and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Today, around the world, our military is serving our country with those same beliefs.
May God protect them.


Friday, May 21, 2010

How long has it been since you have baked a Soufflé?
Soufflés have scared the living daylights out of people for decades. They are supposed to be difficult if not impossible. They need to be treated delicately, eaten immediately. I don’t know about you, but when I plan a dinner party, I very rarely get it cooked and on the table on schedule. My invitations usually say “dinner at 7-ish”. If I have a souffle in the oven, I try to get my guests to the table, salads served, wine glasses filled, etc, so when I pull that gorgeous golden brown soufflé out of the oven, it is on the table before it deflates.

A Souffle can either be a sweet or savory mixture that is made of custard and whipped egg whites. You want to use the the freshest eggs you can find. Known to be one of the more intimidating baking dishes because of its propensity to "fall" or collapse during or after baking, every souffle has two basic components, a cream or puree base and egg whites. The base is known to provide the flavor and the egg whites provide the rise.

Do you know what “souffle” means in English? …to blow up!

Now if you are preparing a chocolate soufflé for dessert….wow, that presents even bigger problems. Timing is everything. My kitchen is not far from the dining room and I don’t want my guests trying to talk over the noise of the electric mixer! You can’t mix it up ahead of time, the egg whites deflate if they are held very long. Of course, if you are a purest and actually own a beautiful big copper bowl and a giant balloon whip, you can excuse yourself from the table, go in a whip up those egg whites, gently fold them into the best chocolate you can buy, and voila! You have made a perfect chocolate soufflé! So, I have learned to live with the fact I am not a purest….actually, I am no where near it.

Chocolate soufflés have not been served at my dinner parties for years. I have also discovered that my favorite cheese soufflé is fabulous for brunch. And they are perfect any time of the year.

Hope you enjoy my favorite souffle recipes.
Somerset Ridge Cheese Soufflé
4 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
grated nutmeg,
6 large eggs, separated
8 ounces grated Comte or Gruyere cheese
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400F. Brush the inside of a large soufflé dish with 2 tablespoons of softened butter. Sprinkle the Parmesan onto the buttered surface of the dish and gently shake the dish to spread the cheese evenly up the sides.
In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk the flour into the melted butter, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir the milk into the butter mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens.
Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg yolks, and cheese. In a separate clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until the egg white form stiff peaks. Stir a few spoons of the egg whites into the cheese mixture and then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the soufflé batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared soufflé dish and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the soufflé is puffed and deep golden brown. Serve the cheese soufflé immediately.
This cheese soufflé recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

Okay, now here is my very favorite Chocolate Souffle recipe….trust me, the chocolate/orange combination makes it iworth the pressure, but try it a few times before you prepare it for a dinner party.

Chocolate Soufflés
1 pint Orange juice
8 Egg yolks
4 ounces Granulated sugar
3 ounces All-purpose flour
8 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 fluid ounces Orange liqueur
16 Egg whites
Butter, melted, as needed

Granulated sugar, as needed
To prepare the base, heat the orange juice to lukewarm in a heavy saucepan.
Whisk the egg yolks with 3 ounces (90 grams) of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the flour and warm orange juice, then return the mixture to the saucepan.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the chocolate until completely melted. Stir in the liqueur. Cover this base mixture with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Hold for use at room temperature. (Unused base can be kept overnight in the refrigerator; it should be brought to room temperature before mixing with the egg whites.)
To prepare the soufflés, brush 4-fluid-ounce sized ramekins with melted butter and dust with granulated sugar.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Place a sheet pan in the oven, onto which you will place the soufflés for baking. (This makes it easier to remove the hot soufflé cups from the oven.)
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with the remaining 1 ounce (30 grams) of sugar. Fold the whites into the chocolate base and spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins. The ramekins should be filled to within 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) of the rim. Smooth the top of each soufflé with a spatula and bake immediately.
The soufflés are done when well risen and golden brown on top and the edges appear dry, approximately 12 minutes. Do not touch a soufflé to test doneness or it will fall flatter than a pancake!
Sprinkle the soufflés with powdered sugar if desired and serve immediately.

One last bit of soufflé trivia for you…..the first printed recipe for a soufflé is dated 1742.
Louis XV was the King of France way back then. I bet he could eat the whole thing!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I’ve lived in Overland Park, Kansas since 1965 and I know for a fact, there are many reasons to be happy about living here. It is truly a lovely town that tries to keep her residents safe and happy. I love the old part of the town; historic Downtown Overland Park features the clock tower plaza and a statue of Overland Park City founder William Strang, as well as some fun shops, like The Tasteful Olive, Penzie’s Spices, The Olive Branch Gallery. The rest of this town of mine is loaded with great restaurants, huge theatre complexes, large shopping malls, lovely neighborhoods studded with many schools and churches ….all those things that make a town a great place to live.

Now, for my favorite part of Overland Park….just today I was re-introduced to the wonderful Arboretum and Botanical Gardens! I asked myself how I could let almost an entire year slip by without a walk through the Arboretum. This morning, after a good night’s sleep and absolutely nothing on the calendar for the day, I jumped in my car and headed south to 179th Street. Suddenly, there I was. I had returned to the winding paths through the gardens of the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

We had rain all day yesterday and throughout the night, but the pathways were perfect for a stroll. The sky was gray, but the spring flowers were bright and cheerful. Huge bearded Iris in every color imaginable. One was such a dark purple, it was almost black. The peonies in colors I am not familiar with, such as a truly bright red! The gardeners have been planting my favorite flower, Lantana, a spritely flower that grows with colorful combinations within the same plant.

The thousands of trees were an intense mixture of greens and blues. The leaves were covered with drops of rain. The woodland areas were fragrant with the aromas of an old forest, moss, mushroom and more. I, of course, have a favorite tree there among all the others. It is a majestic old Sycamore, a painters dream of a tree. The native sycamore has a grand branch display and its bark is unique among all trees - you can always identify a sycamore just by looking at the bark.

Those same trees were home to thousands of birds. I watched as black and white woodpeckers dined at the side of their tree. I listened to the chirping of gold finches, as one stood guard while his mate ate at one of the feeders; I enjoyed the happy little faces of the chickadees as they flew from tree to tree as if playing a game. All of this from an extremely comfortable garden bench, placed there in memory of a local master gardener.

The favorite part of my day? Wolf Creek. I am a lover of creeks, rivers and lakes, but particularly creeks. Wolf Creek wanders through the Arboretum, sometimes gently meandering among the trees, occasionally rushing down gentle slopes lined with water loving plants, and then there is the song of the Wolf splashing happily over the rocks, as it cascades over the waterfalls. Yep, I could have stayed there all day.

If you are fortunate to live nearby, please experience the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. It is just a short distance down 69 highway. Located at 179th and Antioch, the park is open 7 days a week, 8:00am to 7:30pm.

Soon, it will be filled with artists easels, as local painters try to produce the winning painting of the Stems Plein Air competition. For information on the Stems event, go to

How long has it been since you took part in a soiree? Seriously, you need a good soiree every now and then. This is your chance.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Great weekend for Art! Friday night I was at ARTichokes Gallery in the Mission Farms area. I particularly enjoyed the paintings of Diane Boone, Ada Koch, Kristin Goering and Becky Pashia. Diane’s paintings are featured as you enter the gallery. Big, bright and bold, they are just plain fun! Ada, an instructor at ARTichokes, has 2 wonderful florals that are loose, free and graceful. Becky had many new pieces, all delightfully “Pashia”.

As for Kristin Goering, her current work is outstanding, and hanging next door in Room 39, a restaurant there in Mission Farms. The paintings, all beautiful 40” squares, are mostly florals, featuring native wild flowers and some of Kristin’s favorites. There were also several landscapes with trees casting interesting shadows. Kristin’s use of color is always exciting! What her paintings do for Room 39 is terrific. This is the first time I felt all of the paintings in the restaurant fit the space. Subject, colors, size….all working beautifully in the room. They should consider buying the entire collection!

As usual, Becky Pashia and her partner, Megan Sutherland, pulled off a perfect “opening”, right down to the Chocolate Crinkle cookies!

“A Retrospective of Barbara Cleary 1935-2010.”

Saturday night found me driving south down highway 169, headed to Paola.  Barbara Cleary, who died earlier this year, was a longtime fixture in the Paola art community. For the next month, that community celebrates Cleary's life and legacy with a three-part retrospective, all in spaces surrounding the town's historic square.

D'Marie Gallery hosts "Barbara's Journey," "An Impressionistic Viewpoint" is at the new gallery and artists co-op, For Art'Sake, and finally, David Gross’ Gas Light Gallery is displaying works from a private collection. All told, the shows will cover Cleary's entire career as an artist Along the way, she placed work in both private and corporate collections and earned pages' worth of awards for her work.

Barbara will be missed.

I wrote my first entry for this blog on January 1, 2009….ready to conquer blogging, and to learn all about this fairly new way of communicating, of telling a story. It has been fun, challenging, frustrating….and oh yes, educational.

In the beginning, for my “statement” concerning what my blog is all about, I said I would write about cooking, painting, and genealogy. I wrote about my grandparents and where they came from; where and how they lived. I found while I was sharing stories about the Ogg Family Farm in Richmond, Missouri, I was awakening memories for my readers! I received so many comments, hundreds of email, all expressing how fun it was to read the blog and remember things they had forgotten. I have to admit, each message made me feel pretty good.

Family history is very important to me. I suppose my fascination with Genealogy comes naturally. My Aunt, LouEmma Ogg Jones, worked for years to find how our Ogg ancestors came to America from Scotland. My Grandfather, William Ambrose “Dutch” Johnston, spoke of family and family history, and told me stories  as we would “hang out” at the horse barn where we shared a love of all things equestrian. With a big cigar clamped tightly in the corner of his mouth, he would speak with his Missouri style southern accent, telling me about his brothers and his parents. Of course, that was 60 years ago….how I wish I had written them down!

Several years ago, about the time I was signing up for Social Security, I decided it was time to ask the next generation of Johnstons/Oggs, which of them would like to carry on the research and preserve the history that Aunt Lou and I had so painstakingly compiled. I sent an email to my sister’s daughter, my brother’s 2 daughters, and my own 2 daughters, asking if one of them would be interested in our genealogy and would eventually become the family historian. Now I won’t say who said what, but those that did respond (2 of the 5) were not interested at that time. I had to admit my timing in asking for assistance was rotten. All 5 were young women with careers, children and homes to take care of….each day was a challenge to get kids to soccer practice and gymnastics; shop for food as well as get it home, cooked, and on the table; laundry so everyone had something clean to wear the next day; homework checked; house cleaned; kids cleaned; and yes, husbands to keep happy. All of this to be done , hopefully before midnight, so they could drop into bed and let their minds and bodies rest so they could rise at 6 a.m. and start it all over again. They were normal women with normal lives. They did not need to worry about what Napoleon Boneparte Ogg died of in the 1800s! So, I kept compiling information, asking questions, filling in the blanks. My computer runneth over and sloweth down….

Last night, out of the blue, I received a text message from my daughter, Betsy, expressing a profound interest in and fascination with….you guessed it…. Genealogy! She and Ben have been watching the NBC series “Who Do You Think You Are?” and they are ready to dive in with both feet! Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I put my external hard drive with everything I have about the family, and CDs to download, in my car and delivered them to Betsy. We spent about an hour getting it set up on her computer, she joined, and suddenly she was in business! That was about 3:00 p.m. I spoke with her around 9:00 this evening and she was still at it.

I have to tell you, I had heard for years that George Caleb Bingham, famous painter and statesman from Missouri, was an ancestor….very distant, mind you, but an ancestor. I had done some research on Bingham about 10 years ago, looking for a connection, but never found a clue. Today Betsy began there, with Bingham, and within several hours, it appears she has found the connection! I have a feeling she is hooked! I'll have to share the photograph of me standing by his self portrait that hangs in the Nelson Gallery here in Kansas City. I usually grin from ear to ear, but Maria Johnson, the photographer, thought I should try to look more like George. What do you think? Think we are related?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

30 Local Artists displaying their art among
 the vines of beautiful
Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery!
June 12, 2010
11am to 5pm
go to for directions
Here I am, just hangin’ out with Rudy, my “nephew-puppy”. Well, he used to be a puppy, now he is a full size Collie, and gorgeous! He loves it when Aunt Kay comes to stay because I bring the world’s greatest eggs for him. Tom and Vicki won’t be happy with me when they return home to find Rudy hanging out by the stove, waiting for his next over-easy!

Being Rudy’s “aunt” is very similar to being “Mimi” to my grandchildren. I get to do what I want, then go home. What a life.

Here is another recipe from Gangivecchio, using eggs. When I make this, my eggs are laid by little Prairie View hens instead of little Sicilian hens, but it tastes just as good! I do encourage you to hit the olive market at Whole Foods or your own Italian Deli and pick up green Sicilian olives. Do not make the mistake of using a jar of Spanish olives you find next to the pickles at your grocery store. You want this salad to be as authentic as possible!

Aringhe in Compagnia (Herring and Egg Salad) serves 4
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced crosswise
3 smoked herring, chopped
1 large head romaine lettuce, shredded
20 green Sicilian olives, pitted and halved
½ pound cooked asparagus, cut into 1 ¼” lengths
Italian Bread slices
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 drops pepper sauce
½ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine all of the salad ingredients, except for 1 whole sliced egg, in a large bowl. To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together and pour over the salad. Garnish with the remaining egg slices. Serve with slices of Italian bread.

Something to serve with your salad? A frittata, of course.

Salami and Roasted Pepper Frittata serves 2
4 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 thin slices salami, sliced into 1“ strips
Half of a 7.25 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, cut into 1”strips
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degree. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper and water until well blended.

In a 9” frying pan with a heatproof handle, heat olive oil over medium heat. Pour eggs into pan, cook, shaking pan and stirring at same time with a wooden spoon. As eggs begin to set around the edges, stir them into the center. When eggs are half cooked, (2 to 3 minutes), scatter the salami strips and pepper strips on top. Sprinkle with basil and Parmesan cheese.

Place pan on the middle rack of the oven. Bake 2 to 3 minutes, or until set. Remove pan from oven and slip spatula around edge of pan to loosen. Cut into wedges to serve.

I have to be honest with you, the frittata recipe is not from Gangivecchio, but rather from my own kitchen....but it does go with the salad!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I’m getting ready for Art in the Vines and spent a few minutes with my painting Gangivecchio. It brings back such great memories of Sicily….and makes me hungry just thinking about it. I realized I have been so busy with “painting and wine stuff”, I’ve been ignoring my readers who enjoy my blog for the recipes! I do apologize! So for you, here are two of my favorite recipes from Gangivecchio.

To refresh your memory, Gangivecchio was a 14th century abbey in the hills close to the mountain town of Gangi, Sicily. The abbey started out as a Roman outpost many years before the monks moved in! But before the Romans (GULP!), the exact spot on which Gangivecchio stands today, there was a pre-Greek village called Engio, believed to have been established by the Cretans by 1200 B.C.!

Today, Gangivecchio is an amazing restaurant and inn, a place where I could happily spend the rest of my life. I would love to be at Giovanna’s side, there in her kitchen, preparing food for their travelers. I would love to work in their orchards, their gardens, pausing to look out over the surrounding hills. And how I would love to be there when their two big fig trees give up their harvest! And would I love to help with the excavation going on in the main courtyard? Absolutely! They have found bits and pieces from the 5th century! Damn! We just don’t get to do that kind of thing in 21st century Overland Park, Kansas!

Giovanna and her mother, Wanda Tornabene, have written several cookbooks, and my autographed copy is a treasure. It is the ultimate Sicilian Country Cookbook, with recipes culled from generations, handed down as part of the extraordinary and charming history of the family, the town and the island we know as Sicily.

Hope you enjoy!

Panzerotti con Ricotta (Fried Dough Stuffed with Ricotta)

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Lukewarm water

2 cups drained ricotta (Put in cheesecloth lined mesh strainer in refrigerator for 2 days)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, then add the olive oil and about 1 cup lukewarm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough is formed, adding a little extra water as needed. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for 10 minutes. (Don’t whine…it is worth it! Trust me!) Let rest for an additional 10 minutes.
Season the ricotta to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each into a 35-in-long piece, about 4 to 5” wide and 1/16 inch thick. You can use a pasta machine for this step if you have one, if not, it is time for the rolling pin! Roll one 3rd of the dough, stuff and cut it before rolling out the rest of the dough.
For each strip of dough, put rounded teaspoonfuls of ricotta 1” from the edge of a lengthwise side of the dough, spacing the ricotta about 2 inches apart. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, covering the ricotta-filled portion to the edge, as if you were folding a sheet of paper. Press the end edges of the dough together, and then, press down the dough between each of the ricotta-filled portions with your fingers.
With a serrated pastry cutter, cut around the ricotta, making 2” squares. Place the panzerotti on a lightly floured baking sheet, uncovered. Make the rest of the panzerotti, they can rest for up to 1 hour.
Heat 3” of vegetable oil in a deep-sided frying pan until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Fry the panzerotti a few at a time, in batches, until golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels as they are cooked. Serve immediately! Or, stand there at the stove and chow down!

Peperoni Ripieni (Baked Yellow and Red Peppers) serves 8

4 each, yellow and red bell peppers (select peppers that are as equal in size as possible)
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
¾ cup diced caciocavallo or provolone cheese (I would check with Whole Foods for the
Caciocavallo cheese)
¾ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off tops of the stem ends of the peppers and reserve. Be sure to remove the white membrane and the seeds from inside.
Combine the ingredients from the bread crumbs through the pine nuts in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil for a light moist consistency and season with salt and pepper. Fill the peppers with equal amounts of the stuffing and replace the tops.
Put the peppers into a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the sides comfortably, with the tops pressing against the edge of the pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until the skins begin to brown and wrinkle. Serve hot, at room temperature, or even cold. Delicious!

Soon, I will give you their recipe for turning 5 pounds of ripe tomatoes into a quart of tomato sauce….plant a lot of tomato plants, you are going to need them!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bravery, the most handsome rooster you will ever meet,  and two of his girlfriends came to Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery over the weekend, accompanied by Annie and Erin Cassity of Prairie View Eggs (those amazing eggs I rave about all the time) While there, they entertained the families that came for the Miami County Farm Tour. Along with the rooster and hens, we had a turkey and a goat. There is just no limit to fun times at the winery!
Actually, my entertainment came from Steve Gray, the amazing jazz guitarist who sent his wonderful music wafting over the vineyard. He plays a wide variety of tunes, but all in his style of smooth jazz, warm and exciting. Sitting there on the veranda with a glass of wine and listening to Steve is my idea of a perfect day!
 I also enjoyed the Biscotti and their baker, known as Biscotti Bob. We had a great time discussing cookbooks and food in general. He was decked out in his chef's hat, known as a toque (which I gave up wearing many years ago. I'm  4'11", the toque is taller than I am!) Bob offered samples of his wonderful Biscotti; citrus, hazlenut and one he calls Trade Winds, full of macadamia nuts. Our visitors were encouraged to try dipping them in our wines. Biscotti were developed in Europe centuries ago because they have a longer shelf life and they travel well. They soon discovered how delicious they were when dipped in their "Vin Santo", a wonderful Italian dessert wine.  This weekend we proved how good they taste dipped in all of our wines!
Biscotti Bob has packaged his cookies for our box lunches, which we served over the weekend.  See what you missed! I am not kidding when I say "Somerset Ridge is the destination for weekends!"
The next big event at the vineyard will be Saturday, June 12th.
ART IN THE VINES is just around the corner, just a month away!
As of today, I have 38 artists committed to the show!
Please mark you calendars today so you don't miss this fun event.
Saturday, June 12th, 11am to 5pm
I will be there and I will be looking for you!
I don't have a recipe for you today, but I do have a great food tip for you.
Have you been to the Tasteful Olive in downtown Overland Park yet?
Don't miss it! Try the 18 year old Balsamic Vinegar and the
Tuscan Herb Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I think I could drink the stuff!
My latest purchase is the Wild Blueberry Balsamic....blended with the Tuscan oil then
drizzled over my homemade Ricotta cheese....Heavenly!
Take the time to check out
The Tasteful Olive
7945 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, KS

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Mom
91 year old Virginia Johnston

Today’s blog is about Mother’s Day….I know it is still 2 days away, but I will be busy with family on Mother’s Day. So, today I want to share some of my favorite quotes about motherhood and children. Hope you enjoy them!

It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't. ~Barbara   Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too. ~Lionel Kauffman
Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your children. ~Sam Levenson
Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~Aristotle
Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky. ~Fran Lebowitz
There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Children seldom misquote. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said. ~Author Unknown
What is a home without children? Quiet. ~Henny Youngman
There are only two things a child will share willingly - communicable diseases and his mother's age. ~Benjamin Spock, (Whoops, I guess I shouldn't have said Mom is 91?)
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller
If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers. ~Edgar W. Howe
A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. - Peter De Vries

I don’t know if you have someone to make breakfast for you on Mother’s Day, but if you do, pickup these ingredients, mix up the dough (it is good in the refrigerator overnight) and leave the recipe on the kitchen counter. Maybe, just maybe you will have fresh warm beignets for breakfast! Good Luck!

Beignets with Butterscotch Sauce
1/4 cup warm water, 105-115F
1 package active dry yeast
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
vegetable oil
sifted confectioner's sugar
Butterscotch Sauce:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Measure warm water into large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until softened. Add eggs, butter, sugar, orange rind, rum, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth. Gradually mix in 3 1/2 cups flour until smooth.
2. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead in remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Cover; refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight.
3. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll out each half to 3/8-inch thickness; cut into 1 3/4-inch rounds. Cover; let stand 20 minutes.
4. In large skillet, heat oil (1-inch deep) to 375F. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm with Butterscotch Sauce.
5. BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE: Combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in half-and-half and vanilla. Serve warm.

Have a great day! Enjoy your children....and don't forget your Mom!
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I was 15 years old the summer I covered America’s western half in a bus with 20 other teens from around the state of Kansas. We started our trip from Mission, Kansas and within 3 weeks we had hit Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and finally, back to Kansas. We slept in Church basements in our sleeping bags, shopped along the road for picnic food to consume in State Parks along our route, and ate breakfast every morning in little cafes along the way. I don’t remember much about evening activities, I’m sure we had fun. What I do remember is falling in love with everything American Indian. By the time our bus entered the 4 Corners area in the Southwest, I wanted stay forever. I have to say, that was one of the most amazing times of my life.

When you are 15, or at least when you were 15 in the 1950s, you didn’t have a concept of America’s history before 1776! Suddenly, there I was, standing where the Pueblo Indians began building their world ten millennia ago.

Chaco Canyon , Mesa Verde and the New Mexico dessert floor are memories I will keep the rest of my life; they have not faded over the last 50 years.

Have you ever taken a trip to the National Parks in America’s Southwest? Have you felt the pressure against your chest change as you walk to the edge of the Grand Canyon? Have you ever looked out over the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon? How about Zion National Park for a great hiking experience? If your answer is “no”, let me tell you, you have missed out on a major part of the United States!

When I married Arch, we discovered we both had a love for road trips and National Parks. It was 5 years ago this month that we made our last road trip. Arch had been diagnosed with cancer and he wanted one more tour of our favorite part of America. We had become used to packing the car for 3 week-long road trips. We could pull it together and hit the highway within 24 hours. When he completed his radiation and first round of chemotherapy, the doctors encouraged us to take the time to enjoy each other and the parks one more time.

The first time we went to the Grand Canyon, Arch was as overwhelmed as much as I was. He had scoffed at my desire to go, said he had seen it. When I asked when, he said he had flown over it hundreds of times! It was then my turn to scoff! Flew over it! At 30,000 feet! Ha!
To say he was overwhelmed might be understating his reaction. He stood and smiled every few yards as we walked along the edge.
 With Arch’s health being a major issue, I asked him to be seated on a park bench by the edge while I walked down a trail for a short distance to get some photographs. When I returned, PANIC! No Arch! I ran back and forth like a crazed person, calling his name. Finally, I heard “I’m down here.” DOWN HERE! WHERE DOWN HERE? I peered over the edge and my darling 78 year old daring fighter pilot had climbed down the canyon edge and was sitting on a rock outcropping, maybe 12 to 15 feet below enjoying the view. What a smile he had on his face! His climb back up took both of us pulling and pushing....we are lucky we didn't end up at the bottom of Grand Canyon.... the hard way!

I think his favorite National Park was Bryce with all of those crazy Hoodoos. They struck Arch as very funny, he loved them. It was downright cold there that day, very windy, but we braved the elements and spent as much time as we could, stopping at every viewing point for as long as we could handle the temperature. We didn’t pack parkas for the trip, it was May!
As I spent time in those beautiful natural miracles, I realized they were the playgrounds, hunting grounds, home to early American Indians. Long ago, at the end of the Ice Age, the Paleo-indians hunted among the magnificent hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Puzzle pieces of ancient artifacts have been gathered leading scientists to believe that the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) Indians lived in the Bryce Canyon vicinity over 2000 years ago. It is thought that they entered the area to harvest pine nuts and hunt rabbits, but the environment there was harsh and other places offered a better life. Bryce Canyon was established as a National Park in 1928.
This love of our National Parks, my fascination with the Anasazi Indians, and the memories Arch and I made on our trips, have turned my painting in a new direction. I would be excited about it, but I’m still researching, still experimenting. Excitement won’t come until I am sure of myself, more directed. One thing I will say about this new style and medium….it sure is different than all of my previous paintings! With luck, I will have really new stuff for Art in the Vines in June!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Carriage House Art show presented by
The Somerset Ridge Painters

Our guests were greeted by
Vicki Johnston and Winnie Davis
and the beautiful painting by Audrey Benskin
called simply "Argentine"
The guests above are Nina Freed  and
Tiffany Freed Sizemore,
wife and daughter of
artist Doug Freed of Sedalia, Missouri.
Behind the bar, Audrey Benskin poured glasses of
Somerset Ridge wines with
JoAnne Carlton and Vicki Johnston
The Carriage House is part of the Levee complex on 43rd Street
between Broadway and Main.
Not only did the Levee host the art show, but also a fun Kentucky Derby Party in the bar! 
The beautiful dark red brick walls were a perfect
background for our paintings. The house was built in the late 1800s
and is a perfect place to party...or have an art show!
Audrey and guests
Thanks to all of our guests who spent the afternoon with us.
The Somerset Ridge Painters will continue to paint, exhibit their paintings, and party.
I will continue to let you know when and where!

Here is a Somerset Ridge recipe for you.
Somerset Ridge Salmon
Four 6-ounce skinless , center-cut salmon fillets

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound sliced cremini or oyster mushrooms
Freshly ground pepper
8 medium scallions , cut into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup Somerset Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay Wine
1/2 cup fish stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the broiler. Lay the salmon fillets in a baking dish and pour the orange juice over them. Season with salt; let stand for 5 minutes. Turn the fillets; let stand for 5 minutes longer.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant. Add the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, until the mushrooms have released their liquid, 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions and cook uncovered over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 5 minutes. Add the wine; boil for 1 minute. Add the stock and cream and simmer for 3 minutes.
 Season with salt and pepper.
3. While the sauce simmers, transfer the salmon to a rimmed baking sheet, skinned side down. Top each fillet with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining butter. Broil 5 inches from the heat for 5 minutes, without turning, until richly browned and just cooked.
Spoon the sauce on plates, set the salmon on top and serve.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Today is a day to eat on the run. The Somerset Ridge Painters are holding their Carriage House Art Show today from 3 to 7pm. The Carriage House is a darling house attached by patios and wrought iron enclosed breezeways, to The Levee, one of Kansas City’s oldest bars. I remember going there as early 1965 and it was fun. It is located on 43rd Street between Main and Broadway, just north of the Plaza. It should be a fun afternoon….the Kentucky Derby will be on all of the huge televisions, and following the Art show and the Derby, a great band is playing. Come on in and spend the day with us.... It is party time!

So, on the run food is always better if you fix it at home, rather than driving thru McDonald’s. The challenge is to make it delicious and FAST! I have a great love for grilled cheese sandwiches. My family holds an annual Grilled Cheese Contest and you would be amazed at the variety of delicious sandwiches we come up with. Here is a recipe for a fast lunch.

Chipotle Grilled Cheese

4 slices very good white or wheat bread
2 teaspoons pureed chipotle chiles (I buy a can, take it home and puree the whole thing. Keep it stored in refrigerator to use as you want to….like when you are eating on the run!)
5 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
1 ripe tomato, sliced
thinly sliced red onion
cilantro leaves coarsely chopped
soft butter
Spread each piece of bread with thin coating of pureed chiles, or more if you like your sandwich really hot. Cover bottom slice with layer of cheese, tomato and onion slices and as much cilantro as you like. Top with second slice of bread and butter it. Place sandwich, butter-side down, in cast-iron skillet. Spread top piece of bread with butter as well and cook sandwich slowly. When golden brown on bottom, turn it over and cook on the other side. Covering pan will help melt cheese by the time bread is crisped and golden. Eat right away with something very cold to drink. Maybe a glass of Somerset Ridge Buffalo White! If you are using a thick layer of chipotle, you might want a glass of milk with yours!
If you want it open face as in my photo, grill each slice of bread with the toppings, then pop it under the broiler for a few it, they burn quickly if your broiler is super hot.

See you at the Carriage House!

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