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October 2015

Let’s Talk About Wine, Baby

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When I say “Let’s Talk About Wine,” you may not know what I mean.

Or maybe you do.

Depends on the kind of wine drinker you are, I guess.

I want to talk about wine and the things I love about wine and what wine means to me. I don’t really want to talk about what it smells like, or what its bouquet is, or if it’s oakey or buttery.

I am a wine lover. I know many of you are, as well. Most of my friends and family are, thankfully. I’m a white wine girl; red wine doesn’t sit well with me for some reason, and it makes me crazy thirsty. So I stick with white, usually Sauvignon Blanc in the summer and Chardonnay in the winter.

It wasn’t that long ago that I preferred a beer or a cocktail to a glass of wine. As a young adult drinker, I don’t remember wine being all that present. I still enjoy a beer or a cocktail, no disrespect there, but if I’m given a choice, it’s always going to be wine.

To me, a beer is a football game, a Saturday lunch out, or a scorching hot day.

A cocktail is the holidays, a summer happy hour, or the rare, dressed-up party.

A glass of wine is every day gold, a gift, reason alone to have a get-together.

Every day, I have wine. I love a glass while I cook and a glass with dinner, and although I refuse to tell my doctor, some days more than that. Surely they know we all lie on that question, right?

Recently, I went out to dinner with my husband for our anniversary. We decided to try a trendy place we had heard good things about. We love to eat and sweet lord, he deserves a treat for putting up with me for 17 years, so we dressed up and headed out. The place that shall remain nameless did not disappoint on the food- my sweet potato gnocchi was wonderful, as were the fruit crisp and the chardonnay.

The problem was the couple next to us. And when I say “next to us,” I mean NEXT TO US. Like, I could have touched the woman if I extended my arm out. And we were in this little weird nook, so it was like the four of us were having dinner together but at two tables. We got used to it fairly quickly and carried on our own separate  conversations, until the chick next to me asked the server if she could speak to the “som.” Which I assumed was the “sommelier.” I found that annoying right off the bat and should’ve known it was foreshadowing. The “som” came out and she started loudly telling him all about her “som class” she just took and was taking “som 2” and wanted to ask him all about the wine list.

Hey, I’m all for wine school. Seriously. I am a wine supporter, so I am a fan of people knowing how to make good wine. If a presidential candidate ran on a platform for more wine school funding, I would probably vote for them. So, the wine guy (I like “wine guy” better than som) starts telling her some wines to try, etc. etc. For quite some time. Many minutes. Which was fine but it was a bit distracting, seeing as how I could’ve taken a selfie with them, they were so close, and we don’t go to fancy dinners all that often. So I decided to make it less awkward by pleasantly putting us into the conversation and exclaiming to our three nook-mates, “hey, this is great! I’m going to get in on this free wine class, if you don’t mind.”

And…crickets.

Crickets. And stares. Quizzical, uninviting stares.

And then the chick turned back to the wine guy and THEY continued THEIR conversation. They talked about flavors, they talked about varieties, they talked about this bs and that bs and ooh la la, the superiority of French wines and her love of $100 bottles and how she must have one. By the way- she was about 25. Her man was about the same. Also, being completely ignored by her but eventually paying the bill.

They held their glasses up; they sniffed their snooty noses full of wine smells; they acted like complete asses.

Okay. Like I said, I’m all about the wine. I know there are some that are better than others. I have had wine I don’t like, I have had wine that I love and can’t afford on a regular basis. I think winemaking is fascinating. I thank God for winemakers every damn day. I love to go to wineries. I’ve been to Napa. But you know what? I drink wine that costs as close to $10/bottle most of the time. And Newsflash: People are more important than wine or food at a restaurant. This person may have known a lot about wine but she sure didn’t know squat about people. And neither did the wine guy.

I would rather drink a PBR in a dive bar any day than have to be around that douchebaggery. Funnily enough: the girl got up to use the restroom and while she was gone, her dude (again, he was in my peripheral vision, I couldn’t help but see him) tossed back most of a glass of that $100 wine. Take that as you will, but I think he would’ve rather been at my dive bar, too.

After we paid, my awesome husband, beyond annoyed too but not afraid to show it (gotta love that), held up his water glass, and loudly exclaimed, “honey, what do you think? I taste some fruitiness, maybe some earthiness…oh and I taste some alcohol from the baby wipes in the public water system…”

At that point, it was all over for me. I was dying. The guy was looking at him sideways and my guffawing wasn’t helping. We got out of there quickly, before they had time to complain to their buddy.

I would say we learned a valuable lesson: don’t ever go back to that restaurant! And that as much as I love food and wine, people should always come first. Eat, drink, and be merry! And the more, the merrier.

Take care of yourselves and each other,

YDC

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Cooking Light Comes Over

Cooking Light came to my house a few weeks ago.

As I re-read that sentence, it still hardly seems real. If you’ve been anywhere near me the past month, you already know all of the details; feel free to “x” out now. However, I’ve decided to preserve that day in writing so that when I’m old and senile, I will know it actually happened.

Cooking Light came to my house a few weeks ago. As a huge fan and guest blogger of their life-changing Cooking Light Diet, they asked if we could make a little cooking video together to go along with the January/February issue. I was like, “yeah, sure, you know, no big deal, I do this all the time. My house is always magazine-ready, and I always have magazine-worthy clothes ready to go, and I’m never anxiety-ridden about cooking with award-winning food writers.”

Ha! As thrilled as I was about getting this amazing opportunity, I actually was more in disbelief, which quickly led to denial. For a few weeks, with the date being a ways off, I lived life and made a lot of lists of things I needed to do. I am amazing at list-making. Unfortunately, list-completing is another thing entirely. With a week left and the details being communicated, I soon found myself in panic mode. I had tried to convince them earlier that I was a terrible choice, that I was not worthy, much less able to speak coherently on camera. I’m a writer, not a speaker. (Also a lover, not a fighter.) Unable to change their minds, once the plan was a-go, I decided I needed to channel a strong, capable woman to get through this. As any middle-aged, dieting, white woman would do, I chose Beyonce. She is the queen. She can do anything!

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This is basically what I looked like in my head.
With my new Beyonc-spiration (sorry,) I realized that my house and wardrobe and yard and everything was wrong and I contemplated burning the house down. After deciding that was a bit extreme, I decided to temporarily move in to someone else’s house. That plan didn’t work out either, so I asked a friend to help me spruce up the house decor. I purchased 734 blouses, hoping one would work. I planted some flowers. In the end, things were looking so good, I felt as happy as Beyonce on a yacht with Jay-Z and Blue.

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Beautiful AND bad ass.
The folks from Birmingham arrived late morning and with the help from some courage-boosting mimosas, we got acquainted. There was a great deal of Cooking Light Diet talk, lots of football talk, quite a few Parks and Rec references (knowledge of which being my main criteria for “good people”) and eventually, we got down to work. They even brought a hair/makeup/wardrobe lady! Marie, who also blogs and cooks in CL videos, tended to my every want and need, mostly by making me laugh at her perfect impression of Kristen Wiig’s Target lady. Her doting on me only encouraged my inner diva, which was of great concern to my family. I tried to get my son to fan me and my daughter to feed me grapes, but they both refused. Kids today!

There was also a chill video guy, Caleb, who basically kept the camera rolling all day. I felt so awkward; honestly, I don’t know how reality stars can stand it for more than a day. There was a sound guy with really good energy, Sean, who mic’ed me up early, and of course, I forgot it was on in the beginning and went to the bathroom with it on. He kindly assured me I wasn’t the first to do so, but good grief, Beyonce would never do that! The group brought lots of yummy Cooking Light Diet snacks; some gorgeous cookbooks; some delicious, much-needed wine; and basically made my whole family feel comfortable and appreciated.

After displaying multiple speech impediments and an inability to think under pressure in an on-camera Q&A with the smart, funny, and down-to-earth Matthew Moore (CLD Community Manager,) I had the pleasure of cooking with the lovely and talented Ann Taylor Pittman. She immediately made me feel at ease by being a mom and a dog lover, as well as being a super nice person. Her recipe for Easy Thai Steak Noodle Bowl was ideal for my family: healthy, easy, delicious, and interesting. We had some laughs as she showed me some of her techniques and I tried not to be distracted by the fact that my ovens from 1994 might be in the video.

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Note how I am smack dab in front of the ovens. Well-played, self, well-played.
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Please focus on me and not the ovens! I’ve never felt as fascinating as when I poured out this pasta water.
Afterwards, I cooked our very first Cooking Light Diet meal, Linguine with Garlicky Kale and White Beans, for the camera. I was so nervous, I messed up the amount of kale, but hopefully no one noticed. It was surreal to be cooking with these awesome food professionals. We ate a lot of fabulous food, drank some great wine, and overall had an incredibly fun day.

I was so busy, I didn’t take many pictures. I wish I had taken one of the whole gang. Beyonce definitely would have thought of that. Suffice it to say, my day with Cooking Light is right up there with all of my best days. They were truly the nicest people; professional but laid-back at the same time and very gracious. I loved having them here. As stressed as I started out, I ended up having a ball.

It’s funny how quickly it was all over. Monday morning came and it was back to life as usual. Which was good and bad. I had 733 blouses to return, two kids and two dogs to parent, and dinner doesn’t just cook itself, now, does it? But I had leftovers, thanks to the generosity of the Cooking Light Diet team, and through that food, I was able to relive that day one more time. I’ll be reliving it in my mind for many years to come. I have so much gratitude for the wonderful Cooking Light Diet that got me here and for the Cooking Light Diet team for showing us some new healthy recipes that even Beyonce would love.

beyonce kale

Take care of yourselves and each other,

YDC

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