21 Jul Five Items Getting Me Through Home Life
I have become a real homebody over the last few months and I am actually liking it. Of course I miss traveling and eating out, but for now, neither are in my visible future. I have been growing my own herbs and vegetables. I have been cooking daily, trying out new recipes. I have been opening up many of the bottles that have sat unopened in my home. And there are five items that have been helping met get through life at home as I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and I am sharing here.
I have never spent so much time at home. I am sure that is what most of us are saying these days. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was traveling at least once per month, sometimes more.
And, when I was home, I was eating out, or ordering in, up to five times per week. I had amassed a lot of wine that would sit untouched because I was never home or when I was, I would not want to open a bottle for a single glass of wine.
I had remodeled my kitchen a few years ago but rarely used it for more than making breakfast and an occasional dinner. My small patio had a grill on it that had not been touched in over five years.
Then suddenly life changed, and I was home. I am now cooking almost every day and drinking wines from my collection on a regular basis. Now that we are several months into the quarantine, I want to share five of my favorite items that have been helping me improve my cooking and drinking.
New West Knifeworks
If you ask a professional chef one item they would not be in a kitchen without, it would be a good knife. While I am not a professional chef, I have always had good quality knives. However, I recently got a New West Knifeworks Teton Edge Santoku Knife.
Headquartered in the Teton Mountains in Wyoming, New West Knifeworks also has a retail store in St. Helena in Napa County. The powder metal steel blades are designed, engineered, crafted and tested in Wyoming. The colorful and sturdy handle is made of layers of fiberglass and cloth-epoxy that is compressed and cooked into G10 sheets before being hand-shaped. The blade is so tough and sharp that I enjoy chopping herbs and cutting larger items.
And I loved the knife so much that I invested in three more. The 9-inch Superbread is shaped more like a chef knife with a “wave” serration to cut through the crustiest of breads. The 6-inch petty utility knife is also great for chopping and slicing. The 3-inch paring knife is a definite must for peeling, coring, mining, and pitting. I am obsessing over the cutting board and knife holder for future purchases.
As a single person, I rarely opened a bottle of wine to drink a glass or two because I knew I would not be home to finish it the next day. But I finally got a Coravin, the wine preservation system.
Coravin has a wine needle that easily inserts into, and is gentle, on the cork. As you press the trigger, releasing the wine into the glass, the capsule releases 99.99% ultra-pure argon gas into the bottle creating a protective layer above the wine.
The cork reseals naturally, and the wine can be stored for weeks, months or even years. With my Coravin, I have been tasting and enjoying so many of my wines. I can have a few glasses of one wine, or I can switch between a couple wines during the night. When I have a line-up of wines to taste for work, I can try them without worrying about having to open them all.
I love going to the farmers market every week and getting fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. But I found that when I bought a bunch of cilantro or basil, I could not use it all before it went bad.
I decided to try growing an herb garden on my patio and now have basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary available any time!
I could not believe that I could grow herbs on a concrete second story patio but thanks to a website called Gardeners.com that I found, I was able to get all the supplies I needed and then I bought the herbs from my local ACE Hardware.
But I did not stop there. I am now growing a myriad vegetable and fruits on my concrete second-story balcony. I bought a Farmstand from LettuceGrow.com. With the possibility of growing over 200 fruits and vegetables, the Farmstand is self-watering, self-fertilizing hydroponic garden.
I am growing Romaine lettuce, butter leaf lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, green onions, bok choy, green beans, sweet peppers, jalapeno, strawberries and watermelon. All I have to do is add nutrients and water once a week and in four weeks, I will have successfully grown my own food (and I do not have a backyard, garden or soil).
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Fire + Wine Cookbook
With all the fresh vegetables, as well as the fresh fish that I get at my farmers market, I also decided it was time to replace my gas grill. But as soon as I got my new grill, I also got a copy of “Fire + Wine,” a cookbook of 75 smoke-infused recipes from the grill with wine parings written by Sean Martin, a pitmaster, and Mary Cressler, a sommelier and wine writer.
I was concerned that I had brought the wrong thing and should have invested in a charcoal grill or smoker. But all I had to do was order a smoke box and a variety of wood chips (applewood, cherry, mesquite and hickory) and I could smoke anything.
I have made maple chipotle cedar plank grilled salmon, smoked Portobello mushrooms, smoked gazpacho and more.
And I love the wine pairing suggestions that come with each recipe. If you are interested in the Fire + Wine Cookbook, you can get an autographed copy from Sean and Mary from their website at www.Vindulge.com.
Sipski Shower Drink Holder
The last item that has brought me much joy seemed like a joke when I first got it. Previously, when I took a bath, I had nowhere to place my glass or had to reach out of the tub to pick up the glass from the floor but now it is sitting at the ready.
The Sipski is a silicone wine glass holder that securely grips to glossy surfaces such as glass, mirror, marble, metal, shiny tiles and laminate using a patented technology without leaving any residue. I stuck it on my shower door and now I can enjoy a glass of wine while taking a bath. There is also a Sudski Shower Beer Holder for the beer lovers. Sipski’s are inexpensive and available at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Target, Urban Outfitters and more.
These five items have made my life at home a joy and continue to each day!
Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.