Wine… It pairs perfectly with Christmas!

A great post about liquid Christmas Cheer – I particularly enjoy the one about the box of wine! Merry Christmas!

The Wine Wankers

a-santa-drinking-wine-24650679 Merry Christmas everybody! I’ve set this one to auto-publish on the dot of Christmas Sydney time.  I know that some of you may not partake in the joys of Christmas but I do hope that you will all at least get some giggles (or maybe a slight grin or two) out of these wine related images. Some of our regular Facebook and Twitter followers who may have already seen some of these, and I also apologise if I’m breaking any “rules” by putting them up on our blog.  Unfortunately these have circled the net so many times that I am unable to credit the brilliant minds who came up with them. All the best everyone!  I’ll be heading up to the folks to enjoy a traditional Christmas morning port with the old-man.  I’ve got a couple of bottles from the 70s to pop open.  Can’t wait. Enjoy!!

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The Old Year Now is Fled Away

It’s hard to believe the year is almost gone; but Winter is definitely here.  I’m sitting outside and it’s 51F/10C, but I’m bundled up and fortified with an exceptionally large mug of glühwein.  So fortified, as a matter of fact, that I determined to honor the word of the year – selfie – with my first one.

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Sock Monkey Cap – Shameless

I suppose a 49-year-old man has no business wearing a sock monkey cap, but there you are.

I was finally able to get out into the garden and do some clean-up.  For the most part, December has been quite cold with several hard freezes.  There really weren’t any last year, so the garden didn’t look as desolate as it does this year.  Actually, winter really teaches me patience and to look for uncommon beauty.  Anyroad, here are some photos from the garden at the start of winter.  Luckily I have next week off, so hopefully I can provide some very delayed posts of our October vacation this year.  If I wait any longer, I’ll be posting them at the same time as next year’s trip to Germany and Norway.

Rather pedestrian, but I really enjoy getting my load of firewood for the year.  For the past several years, I’ve been using Austin Firewood.  I used to order from a place that just dumped it in the driveway, but Austin Firewood actually stacks it for you!  I think they had some problems with their website this year, but per usual, nothing but great service from them.  If you need firewood, definitely call them!

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Half A Cord of Seasoned Oak Firewood

Since we turned the breakfast room into Brian’s aquarium last year, we can’t keep the ficus trees in there when it freezes, so we bought a portable greenhouse that I saw at the Natural Gardener.  The Flower House pop-up green house is pretty easy to put up (two people, 25 minutes – in a stiff wind, no less), and it works very well, but I have to admit, it does block the view of a large part of the garden for four months.  In the best of all possible worlds, I’d like to install a garden shed on the northwest corner that would house the plants when needed.

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Pop-Up Green House – No Frozen Ficuses

The only remaining colour I have in the garden is from the holly trees and my Japanese maple.  I’m not sure if it’s just the species, or if the placement is bad, or what, but my Japanese maple is red only twice a year – when it leafs out in March/April and the week before Christmas, when the leaves fall off.  Anyroad, it’s stunning, particularly at night.

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Japanese Maple

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Holly Berries

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Holly Berries

I am so excited because I am regularly visited by a family of wood peckers!  (Perhaps I need a social life…)  Anywho, here are some photos I got while it was feeding on the suet feeder.  There’s just something really prehistoric about these birds.

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Red-Headed Woodpecker

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Red-Headed Woodpecker

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Red-Headed Woodpecker

I seem to return to familiar themes; here’s the birdhouse my great grandfather made when he was a boy.

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Papoo’s Birdhouse

And here’s my scrap-metal chicken and an empty earn.

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Sad Chicken and Empty Urn

And to close out with a wine recommendation.  Recently, I picked up a bottle of Caricature Red Wine from Lange Twins winery.  A cab and zinfandel blend from Lodi, it was one of the best reds I’ve had in a very long time.  I got it primarily for the papparadelle in pumpkin parmesan sauce we had.  Spicy and smoky with a full-on stone fruit taste, it worked exceptionally well with the heavy but homey sauce.  I’ll definitely get this again!  Happy Holiday to all!!

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Cooking Odds and Ends

So we had some really knock-out meals recently that I just had to get out into the ether.  Last Sunday it was super cold and dreary – the high for the day was 36F (2C) – and that put me in the mood for Pot Roast.  This recipe was in the crock pot, but it was seared first, which is absolutely essential, I think.  Quite simple – heat a Dutch oven to screaming hot; add 3 table spoons of grape seed oil and brown all sides of a 3-4 lbs chuck roast, 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a crock pot and add 8 oz. beer and one packet of Italian dressing mix.  Cook for 8 hours on low.  I get creative with the braising liquid.  For this, I used a dark stout aged in whiskey barrels.  It was fantastic.

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With the roast, I had a Michael David Petite Petit from Lodi, California – one of my favourite Petit Sirahs…

With leftovers from Thanksgiving, we made the very best Turkey Pot Pie I have ever had.  Two secrets to this – the gravy was made from roasted Turkey broth and the ‘crust’ was essentially several cornmeal and chive dumplings.  It was really outstanding.  Nothing like comfort food…and this cast-iron skillet belonged to my great grandmother – it’s probably coming up on the century mark.  If there was a kitchen fire, I’d save this and my Le Creuset Dutch oven.

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And speaking of Le Creuset – and things French, I had a nice little Côtes de Bourg with this.  I was supposed to have the wine with Thanksgiving dinner, but as you’ll note from the photo, there was a ‘cork malfunction.’

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Côtes de Bourg w/ defective cork