wine

Gorgeous Gorge

I was soooo looking forward to my long weekend over the 4th of July! It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling a bit burned out at work and needing a break. This was just what I needed. Saturday morning we drove out to Hood River. We rented a little cabin on the Washington side this time, and it was so cute! We were 10 minutes from Hood River, so it was a great location.

I went to the gym early, we packed the car and then hit the road. We arrived in Stevenson, Washington, at lunch time. Perfect timing!

We went to Walking Man Brewery. It’s funny–I think our second anniversary when we were dating we stayed at these super cute log cabins in Stevenson a block from Walking Man and it was kind of a funny memory because we were literally right next to the train tracks and the train went by HOURLY. No exaggeration. So when we went to Walking Man for lunch we went by the cabins and had to laugh about that disastrous weekend. 🙂

Anyways, we got to Walking Man just as they opened and the outdoor patio was open and empty so we got a table in the corner where Bella could hang out (and she miraculously did great!) and we set up Logan in his high chair and we enjoyed a beer and some pizza for lunch! It was kind of the perfect day.

Logan LOVED pizza (and pepperoni) but was not a fan of olives (still). The pizza was great. It was small enough for the three of us to share and it was smokey and good.

After lunch we walked a block to the waterfront park and walked around for awhile. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. The kind of day you just want to hang out in the park for hours in.

After awhile we drove out to Syncline Winery . We had an hour or two to kill before we could check into our cabin. Two separate people had recommended this winery to us recently so we checked it out.

It was SUCH a cool place! There were wine tasting stations outside, there was cornhole set up, adirondeck chairs placed around the grounds, there were private tables in the shade and a bunch of hammocks and gardens. It was such a fun, relaxing vibe. We LOVED it. It was right near our place, too.

We played some cornhole, Logan played too :), I did a little wine tasting and we played in the hammocks (if you follow me on instagram, I posted some videos).

We ended up becoming members! It was such a cool place that we wanted to go back and we really enjoyed all the wines.

After that we checked in at our little cabin. It was in Underwood, Washington, 5 minutes from the bridge to Oregon and Hood River. It was kind of the perfect location! It was a little A-Frame loft above a garage in the woods.

There was a nice kitchen, bathroom, living room and upstairs in the A-frame loft was the bedroom. It was nice because the owners had a pack n’ play set up for us and a high chair. It was a great place!

The best part? The deck outside. The deck overlooked the trees and yard where there was a hammock and a family of deer that meandered through (and apparently wild turkeys??).

We had a few hours to kill before dinner so we went over to Hood River to pick up our half case of wine from Cathedral Ridge (we had a membership that we’ve since cancelled, we just want some variety!) and let Logan run around the yard for a bit.

Then we drove to Big Man’s Rotisserie in White Salmon. It was a BBQ joint that Michael found online and we made a note of wanting to go there. We got the chicken and pulled pork combo to go and went back to the cabin for dinner on the deck.

O.M.G if you are in the area, you MUST go to Big Man’s Rotisserie. That pulled pork was absolutely amazing! We even discussed wanting to go back and getting more before going back to Portland! It was smokey and delicious and reminded us both of Franklin’s BBQ in Austin.

Eating dinner and drinking wine outside in the shade on the deck was pretty freaking awesome!

It was great just hanging outside on the deck while Logan slept! 🙂

Homemade Sauce

One of the things Michael and I kind of miss from our “old life” was how we used to cook together. We’d find a recipe and open a bottle of wine and hang out in the kitchen talking and listening to music while we cooked dinner. I loved that part of our relationship. This year things have changed, obviously.

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These days it’s a lot of tag-team action. When the Witching Hour arrives, I feed Logan and get him to bed while Michael starts cooking dinner for us. It’s worked well so far, for sure, but hasn’t been fun.

So we decided to try and re-create a recipe that my brother made when he visited us in April.

It’s funny. We talked about making Andy’s spaghetti sauce for about a week but something always came up. Then the other day I was out for a walk with Logan and I stopped by the store to get the tomatoes that Andy said were a must for the sauce, and when Michael got home later that day he had also picked up tomatoes!

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So now we have tons of cans of tomatoes for this spaghetti sauce!

Per my brother: “The key is to get San Marzano tomatos, they are pricey but worth it (about $4-5 here in Philly for a 28oz can) (http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano/sanmarzano.html). I have tried a lot of different tomatoes and those Cento ones have the best flavor and texture.” So FYI.

I got Mr. Fussy-Pants-who’s-teething-and-cranky to bed:

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And Michael started on dinner. He doubled Andy’s recipe (and I froze the leftovers for later). It was a lot of garlic to mince and onions to chop!

I poured the wine for us, and for the recipe:

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We put on some music, drank some wine and talked like adults while we waited for the sauce to cook and the spaghetti squash to bake.

Sooo I have a complaint about people who cook–and don’t follow recipes. It’s so HARD to recreate what they did! My aunt Sheila is like that. She’s an amazing cook and the food is always amazing but she’s one of those “throw it all in a pan” chefs and you can never do what she did. She gave me a bunch of her recipes like 15 years ago and they never turn out as good as if she made them. My brother Andy is like that. He just kinds of wings it and it’s always delicious.

Andy's Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • A couple shallots, small dice (sometimes I will go with half a sweet onion if I dont have shallots)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Oregano and Basil (fresh or dried)
  • Crushed Red Pepper (optional, for a little zip)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Red Wine (optional, use a lighter or heavier wine to give it a more delicate or robust character depending on what it is being served with)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes, pureed (you could slice or dice them if you like chunky sauce)
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a large stock pot (heavy bottomed) over med-high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan (maybe a 1/4 cup or so). Heat the oil, then add your shallots and cook until softened, then add garlic and cook for about a minute.
  2. If you have Mushrooms, Olives, or other things to add to the sauce, do it now and cook until they soften.
  3. If using DRY herbs, toss them in.
  4. Add the wine and let it reduce.
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring to a soft boil then reduce heat and simmer until you have a consistency you like (30-60 minutes depending on how moist the tomatoes were).
  6. Throw in some S+P at the end and if you use FRESH herbs, add them last.
  7. Serve over pasta and whatever else you like to put red sauce on. Garnish with grated cheese and enjoy!
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=51237

The final product:

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Both Michael and I went to the store to get the special tomatoes for the recipe on the same day without talking to each other, and yet neither of us thought to pick up a loaf of garlic bread. FAIL. So we had the not quite classy gluten-free toast with butter and garlic. 😉

The sauce was decent but not the same as when my brother made it. We followed his recipe and added kalamata olives to it. It was definitely spicy! So that was good. I froze the leftover sauce and when we defrost it we’re going to add some cooked ground beef to the recipe and I think that will make the sauce even more flavorful.

I’m glad Michael doubled the recipe because it takes a long time to make it. So now we’ll have an easy dinner later on. It’s also low in calories–especially if you use spaghetti squash instead of pasta!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite homemade pasta sauce recipe?