Olive Oil Poaching Leads To Silky, Luxurious And Incredibly Tasty Fish

Poaching is a classic French method in which a chef gently cooks something (usually fish) in a liquid over low heat. Traditionally, that liquid is a light broth, known as a court bouillon. If done correctly the finished fish comes out delicious, light and flaky.

The Italians took that method a step forward, substituting extra virgin olive oil as the liquid, and it’s the foundation for an entirely different way of cooking. This is not deep-frying. Submerging a sturdy fillet of fish such as halibut or tuna into a bath of warm olive oil and then cooking it in the oven at a low temperature is to many a revelation. The fish comes out of the bath with a remarkably tender, silky texture — with a pure seafood flavor that’s hard to achieve with any other cooking method. It’s moist, but never watery, and any residual oil is not burnt or acrid, but rather light, sweet and slightly peppery.

OilPoachedFish2Not only does this method lead to alternative taste and texture, it provides chefs with an additional use for olive oil — one of the healthiest oils on the planet given that it’s rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and vital polyphenols.

One of the remarkable things about the poaching technique is that the timing is virtually foolproof. Twenty-five minutes is the magic number for perfectly cooked seafood every time. Chefs will let the fish sit at room temperature for about an hour before poaching because cold fish from the refrigerator will lover the temperature of the oil dramatically.  The best doneness indicator is the appearance of white droplets of albumin (protein) on the outside of the fish. Or you can make a small cut in the fish with a paring knife to visually check for doneness.

There are three keys to perfect olive oil poaching. First, make sure that the fish you choose is rich in flavor and firm in texture, and is cut into at least 1-inch thick fillets. Choose a straight-sided sauté pan or saucepan that will hold the fish in a single layer to the pieces don’t overlap. Finally, be sure to use extra-virgin olive oil for poaching, because its rich flavor will penetrate the fish. In the interest of cost, do not use high-end finishing oils, but rather good-quality extra virgin oil.

Normally you will use between 4 and 6 cups of oil to poach the fish. Be sure to save the oil in order to extend it into a few more poaching sessions. Let it cool to room temperature and strain it through a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Following are the steps to poach fish in olive oil:

  • Step 1: Remove the fish from the refrigerator, season it, and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Step 2: Heat the oil over low heat just until it reaches 120 degrees. Use a candy or instant-read thermometer to monitor the oil’s temperature.
  • Step 3: Immediately transfer the pan with the fish to the oven, and poach for exactly 25 minutes. When plating the fish, drizzle with a little of the poaching oil, and spritz with lemon juice.


More And More Brides And Grooms Make It Their Pet Project To Incorporate Furry Friends Into The Ceremony

A wedding is a family affair, and it’s safe to say that no one should be excluded — but how about those furry, four-legged family members?

Modern brides and grooms have extended their wedding guest lists to include treasured pets that are weaved into the ceremony in a variety of creative ways. The trend has become a natural progression of dressing down the ceremony by making it more fun and accessible to all.

If you can’t imagine walking down the aisle without your precious pup, favored feline or maybe even your beloved bird, there are plenty of ways to make this a reality without turning your ceremony into a zoo.

As fun and creative as it sounds, including your pet in the wedding does require some thoughtful planning.


Consider the following:

  • Weddings can be stressful and overwhelming for a pet that does not adapt well to new environments or is uncomfortable around strangers. Be sure your pet has the demeanor and patience required to participate.
  • Decide what part of the ceremony you would like your pet to attend. It’s prudent to involve your dog or other pet friend in the ceremony but not the reception, as receptions tend to be full of noise and stress.
  • Be sure to check with the wedding venue to make sure that pets are allowed.
  • Based on the role your pet is playing in the ceremony, start preparing early for the tasks it will be required to perform.
  • Designate a handler that will be with your pet at all times throughout the ceremony.

The biggest decision is determining what role your pet will play in the ceremony. Following are some ideas that can be pulled off with minimal planning and effort:

  • Use your pet to propose. Hanging a “will you marry me?” sign around your dog’s neck, for example, will set the stage for what’s to come. Or tie an engagement ring tightly to your cat’s collar and let your beloved find it on her own.
  • Let them star in your save-the-date cards or engagement photos. Including your pet in these photos gives recipients a peek into your personalities, and tells them more about your “family.”
  • Give your pet a special job, such as a sign holder, or as a prop at the photo booth.
  • Let them be the flower girl escort, or the ring bearer. Having the flower girl walking your leashed pet down the aisle can really make a fun statement. For especially well-trained pets, securing the ring on a special collar can be a cute way to retrieve it when the Officiant asks for it.
  • Have your dog stand in for the flower girl. You can dress them accordingly with an adorable top hat or flower crown — making a picture-perfect wedding moment.
  • Forget the bouquet and carry your pet down the aisle.
  • Let them stroll down the aisle before you.
  • Have them by your side during the ceremony.
  • Equestrian brides can ride their horse to the reception, the gown artfully draped on either side.

Sure, including a pet in your ceremony or reception may take a little extra work and planning, but you’ll be pleased to have included your animal pal in the long run. Remember to include them in some formal and not-so-formal wedding photos because years from now those images will be considered picture-perfect wedding moments.

Wine Ice Cream Could Be The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

You’ve had a miserable day. You want to go home, kick off your shoes and make no decisions — except maybe one: Wine or ice cream? Tough call. The alcohol in a glass of wine can certainly numb us to a cruel world, while a bowl of ice cream comforts with its fat and sugar.

But now, thanks to a century-old dairy in upstate New York, we can have both — in the same bowl (or glass).

Mercer’s Dairy in Boonville, N.Y., has come out with its own line of wine-infused ice cream that contains 5 percent alcohol by volume. This is not “wine flavored” ice cream, but real wine blended into eight different cream concoctions: Cherry Merlot, Chocolate Cabernet, Peach White Zinfandel, Port, Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Riesling, Spice and Strawberry Sparkling.

As it turns out, we have Hillary Clinton to thank for this spectacular merger of two vices. When then-U.S. Senator Clinton put the grape growers next to the ice cream makers at a Washington D.C., showcase of New York farm products in 2003, wheels started turning. Mercer’s owner Roxiana Hurlburt became inspired by the sight of guests adding Mercer’s Dairy ice cream to wine glasses from a neighboring booth. She took her time (nearly a decade) perfecting the formula, which was especially difficult because higher alcohol concentrations prevent ice cream from freezing. Settling on 5 percent alcohol, she then had to jump the hurdles put down by state lawmakers before she could make the blending legal.

Though Mercer’s first created the recipe in 2006 and began selling it in 2007, it has recently become more than just an upstate New York secret. In December Jimmy Fallon mentioned the dessert in his opening monologue, and the product was a secret ingredient on the Food Network show “Chopped” last month.
Admittedly, this isn’t the first time someone has thought to combine alcohol with dessert. However, this is the first truly alcoholic ice cream to hit stores. While the brand Ciao Bella offers 
alcoholic sorbet (and the Internet holds plenty of DIY recipes to make alcoholic ice cream), Mercer’s is the first to package and sell ice cream reserved only for those over the age of 21.

The wine ice cream contains 300 calories and 14 grams of fat per half-cup serving. Mercer’s ships it by the pint, half gallon, five-quart pail, or three-gallon tub, depending on how hungry — or thirsty — we are.

Find out more, or place an order, at www.mercerswineicecream.com

To make your own wine ice cream at home, try this recipe:

 Red Wine Ice Cream

(Serves 8)

2 bottles full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
9 yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Steps: Pour wine into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add cinnamon sticks and peppercorns. Simmer until the wine is reduced to 1 cup (it should take about 1 hour).

  In a large pan, bring the milk, cream and half of the sugar to a boil and turn off heat. In a bowl, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. Temper the yolks into the boiling milk by gradually whisking about 1 cup of milk into the yolks and adding this back into the pot with the remaining milk. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. Whisk in the reduced wine. Set pan over a bowl full of ice to cool. Pour the chilled ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer. Process the base in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.

Yoga Devotees Combining Core Elements Of The Ancient Discipline Into The Equestrian World

Interest in yoga is growing nearly as fast as the love of horseback riding, so the melding of the ancient spiritual and ascetic discipline into the equestrian world is logical.

Yoga involves breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, and is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Introducing these core elements to equestrians makes sense because they are similar in what is needed to create a workable equine-rider partnership.

When riders learn how to tune into their bodies it makes them more aware of the physical and emotional cues they are sending to their horse. Learning how to control those cues will make anyone a better rider and horseman. And riders will also be building balance, strength, and flexibility, along with finding a fun and relaxing way to spend time on their horse.  

Equestrians may work yoga into their world in three ways: practicing traditional yoga on a mat to become a stronger, more connected rider; developing a program of poses to try atop the horse; or even with the horse as an active participant.

The popularity of yoga has led to a more specialized approach for sports enthusiasts, notably in tennis, running and horseback riding. Whether you ride to compete or simply for pleasure, your balance and comfort in the saddle can be improved by practicing a few yoga postures and simple breathing techniques.

Good posture is essential while horseback riding. In the saddle, the back should be straight but not stiff, and there should be a natural curvature in the lower spine. Downward Facing Dog is central to many styles of yoga because it elongates the spine, which encourages good posture. To begin, come to your hands and knees on a yoga mat. Bring your hands forward about 3 to 4 inches, tuck your toes under and press your hips toward the ceiling, bringing the body into a V-shape. As you press your hands firmly into the mat and work on moving your heels toward the floor (they may not reach in the beginning), you should feel your back muscles and hamstrings stretch and lengthen. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths and then return to hands and knees. Repeat this exercise at least five times to increase suppleness in the spine.

Horseback riding also puts a lot of strain on the hip flexors. Regular stretching will make riding more comfortable, and it will also allow a deeper seating position. Equestrians can practice Bound Angle Pose to open and stretch the hips. To move into this posture, sit on your mat and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your bent knees to gently fall out to the sides. Do not force the stretch, but rather, let gravity take over as your knees move toward the floor. If you want a deeper stretch you can slowly fold your upper body forward over the soles of your feet. Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds, remembering to focus on your breath.

Many people can practice yoga on a nice soft mat laid out on a floor that doesn’t move. Not many have the balance, strength and confidence to perform those same poses atop a half-ton animal. It is the ultimate test of a rider’s skills and abilities, and there is no way better to truly connect with nature — and your horse.

 These poses target the entire body, with an emphasis on the legs, hips, shoulders, and back. The horse not only makes for a fun four-legged companion, but it also challenges you to remain focused and present. If your mind begins to wander, you risk tumbling to the ground.

It is advisable to research this practice carefully, hire a qualified instructor, and to always have a “spotter” nearby. Always use a calm, trustworthy horse and proceed slowly as your confidence builds.

Among the more fascinating forms of the yoga-equestrian union is practiced in The Doma India School in San Luis, Argentina. The school was founded by father and son Oscar and Cristobal Scarpati and works under the philosophy that respectful and non-violent horse-taming can establish a meaningful bond between man and steed.

The Scarpati family considers horses to be sacred, and applies and develops their concepts on wild, traumatized or nervous horses tamed by manipulating them into yoga poses.

A video of a wrangler performing yoga-esque poses atop a strapping steed went viral on the Internet earlier this year. See this unusual concept here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuiItttvwKE.




Ongoing Fascination With Kate And William’s Royal Wedding Affects 2015 Wedding Trends

On April 29, 2011, a global audience of more than 300 million watched Kate Middleton join the royal family of England by marrying Prince William. The grand day became a bank holiday in the United Kingdom, with the government declaring April 29 St. Catherine’s Day.

The interest and excitement of that royal wedding has not waned. Princess Kate grows in popularity every day, and along with the large audience for the PBS drama “Downton Abbey,” brides cannot get enough of sweet English details to incorporate into their weddings.

From garden soirées to glamorous balls, details with an English feel are trending for 2015. Those in the know predict an influx of stylish details that bring to mind garden parties and dining al fresco. In this scenario tables are uncovered or simply adorned with a vintage lace cloth. Lush garlands get turned into runners and loosely styled floral centerpieces hang from above. Garden roses become a beautiful accent and are reminiscent of a lovely afternoon tea.

And, of course, no British wedding is complete without Pimm’s, the tasty liqueur made from gin and a secret blend of herbs. Pimm’s-based cocktails served in a famous Pimm’s No. 1 cup will lend a certain cachet to any celebration.

Some other wedding trends to look for in 2015:

panetone en plein air

  • Pantone Inc. has announced the theme for top color picks for spring 2015 weddings and it’s En Plein Air, which means “in the open air.” Think gentle and soft muted hues. Aquamarine will be present everywhere next wedding season. This color is cool and ethereal, and is said to reduce stress (something every bridal couple needs). Other colors include: Scuba Blue, playful and reminiscent of a tropical ocean; Lucite Green, cool and refreshing, yet light in tone; and Toasted Almond, representing warmth.
  • Wedding dresses will feature off-the-shoulder tops. This look is romantic and timeless. You will see variations from one-shoulder to draped sleeves on both sides, creating a very soft and Bohemian look.
  • Thanks to celebrity brides like Blake Lively and Lauren Conrad, yellow gold and rose gold are creeping their way back into engagement ring stores (and on the hands of more and more brides).
  • Move over gold and silver, because copper decor is popping up more than ever before. From centerpieces to invitation typefaces, brides want to give off vintage vibes, so expect to see more of this metal.
  • Lighting has always been one of the most important factors for a gorgeous wedding, since it has the power to enhance, create focus and set the. This year’s brides will look to fairy lights, pin-spot lighting, brilliantly lit up initials or soft romantic twinkle lights.
  • More and more brides are now embracing the idea of the wearable flower crown. Depending on the theme, the crowns can be made from pretty delicate flowers such as gypsophila, or fuller blooms such as roses and hydrangeas for more impact.
  • When it comes to the cake, couples will revisit classic designs. Another trend will be to skip the elaborate dessert and sweet table and serve cake as the actual dessert.

What’s In A Name? That Which We Call A Rosé By Any Other Name Would Never Taste Sweet…

holman ranch rose of pinot

Whether you call it rosé, rosato or rosado, it’s without a doubt the most beautiful, refreshing wine in the world.

Rosé is French for pink, and rosato and rosado mean “pinkish” it Italian and Spanish, respectively. Those three countries lead the way when it comes producing to quality rosé — and the people drink a considerable amount of it, especially on hot summer days.

The United States is starting to appear on the rosé radar (rosé exports from France to the U.S. have grown at double-digit rates each year since 2003). This is remarkable considering the country is battling decades of bad press following the long production of sweet bulk wine called White Zinfandel (much of it dispenses from a square box).

Today, California winemakers especially are producing quality dry rosés, made with an eye toward balance and character. The results are elegant, refreshing (with low alcohol) and delicious. Grapes used include Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Pinot Noir, among others. Rosé is a quintessential food wine and, while great in the summer, is truly enjoyable 12 months out of the year.

Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, Calif., makes a Rosé of Pinot Noir it calls Blushing Bride. It embraces the spirit of warm weather wine, all while staying true to the tenets of the classic bistro tradition. It features a bright nose with a subtle hint of wildflowers jumping out of the glass, and its lengthy palate and juicy overtones finish off the all-estate selection.

 The thin-skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lends Pinot to producing mostly lightly colored, medium bodied low tannin wines. When young, wines made from Pinot tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. The wine’s color is frequently much lighter than that of other red wines, due to the grapes’ lower skin anthocyanin (coloring matter).

Creating fine blush wines is not easy, although some producers simply combine red wine and white wine and call it a day. It’s more complex than that.

Almost all grapes produce juice that is clear when they are crushed, so the red (or rosé) color comes from pigments in the crushed grape skins.

 To say that all rosés are “pink” is an over-simplification of the process. In the Provence region of France (known for its outstanding rosé), there is an official system of grading the color of rosé: Cantaloupe, Peach, Groseille, Grapefruit, Mango and Mandarin. As you might guess, the color spectrum for rosé wines ranges from light pink to dark pink to a pinkish-orange hue.

 The most authentic and delicious way to make rosé is through the Saignee (sen-YAY, or “bled”) method, the practice of “bleeding off” lightly tinted juice after a brief maceration with the grapes. Since wine’s color comes from the skins, the longer you “steep” the grape, the darker and more tannic the rosé.

  This method was originally used to intensify the remaining batch of red wine but wineries soon found that following fermentation, the slightly tinted wine had a bright, acidic and bone dry deliciousness.

Rosé emerged as possessing the drinkability of a dry white wine, with some of the color and characteristics of a red wine. Meeting in the middle proved to be a popular, and profitable, decision. And, today, more and more wine drinkers are “blushing” at the thought of it.

Why Horses ‘Laugh’ And Other Interesting Tidbits About Our Four-Legged Friends

Humans have enjoyed amiable companionship with horses for thousands of years — and that bond appears unbreakable.

horse laugh

We love horses for many reasons, beginning with their beauty and grace. Not many of us can inspire painters and photographers by merely standing around casting a shadow. But horses can.

They are also intelligent beings that form close personal relationships with their caretakers. Did you know that horses are four to seven times faster learners than humans, and that they are extremely intuitive?

Following are other interesting tidbits about those amazing horses:

  • There are approximately 58 million horses in the world (9 million in the United States), the vast majority of them cared for by humans.
  • Approximately 4.6 million Americans work in the horse industry in one way or another, with an annual economic impact of $39 billion.
  • Horses make a strange expression in which they curl their upper lip and bare their teeth into a wide grin. This “horse laugh” is part of a special nose-enhancing technique called a “flehmen response.” It directs scents floating in the air toward special olfactory glands that are located at the end of the horse’s nasal passage. The horse isn’t laughing at you, it’s just trying to determine whether you smell bad.
  • Police horses have been used in peacetime law enforcement since the 17th century and the first official mounted police unit was established in 1805 in London. The number of police horses is slowly waning, but many countries still keep a few mounted units around for public relations and crowd-control purposes.
  • Horses have fairly good eyesight, thanks to their peculiar eyes. At a diameter of roughly 2 inches, they are the largest of any land mammal. When measured in volume, a horse’s eye is up to nine times larger than that of a human.
  • A horse eye has three eyelids — two ordinary ones and a third called the nictitating membrane —located in the inner corner of the eye and occasionally sweeps the eye, lubricating and cleaning it.
  • Horses can’t properly focus their eyes like humans do. Instead, the lower parts of their retina see objects at a distance, and the upper ones are for closer viewing. This means that if you want to know where a horse is looking, you should pay attention to how it’s holding its head.
  • While horses have near 360-degree vision, they do experience blind spots directly in front and behind them. That’s why it’s ill-advised to stand directly behind a horse. Kicking out is their way of defending themselves.
  • Horses use a range of different vocalizations to communicate. Whinnying and neighing sounds are used when horses meet or leave each other. Stallions perform loud roars as mating calls, and all horses will use snorts to alert others of potential danger. Mares use deep smooth sounds called whickering when they are nursing a foal.
  • Horses and other equines have better senses of smell and hearing than humans. Their ears can turn in different directions to aid their hearing.
  • Horses use their ears, eyes and nostrils to express their mood. They also communicate their feelings through facial expressions.
  • Not only do horses understand our words, their memory is at least as good as that of elephants. If a horse is treated kindly, it will remember the person as a friend for as long as it lives.
  • Horses also remember places very well, becoming nervous when they’re taken to a place where they’ve had a startling experience.
  • Horses are undeniably clever animals. Beyond being proficient at relatively simple learning tasks, they are also recognized as having the capacity to solve advanced cognitive challenges.
  • It is extremely unlikely to see all horses in a herd lying down simultaneously. This is because at least one horse will stand as a lookout in order to be able to alert the others of any potential dangers.
  • The horse is one of the 12 Chinese signs of the zodiac. Anyone born in the year of the horse is seen to embody the characteristics of the animal, namely intelligence and independence.

Brides And Grooms Showing Off Individual Tastes By Creating Personalized Food Bars

Among the many wedding trends predicted for 2015 is a strong spirit of individualism among couples who want their ceremonies and receptions to reflect their own personalities.

The ceremony can certainly reveal their personal feelings (from the vows to the music to the readings). Where the focus falls this year, though, is on the reception — specifically surrounding the food and how it’s served. If the betrothed want all of the details to reflect their style and taste, an option is a food-centric reception that feels very personal, unique and delicious.

How does all of this individuality come together? With personalized food bars. This difference-maker is changing the way meals are presented and served at wedding receptions, and the new craze makes sense.

No two palates are alike. And let’s face it, there are a lot of picky eaters out there. Creating food stations or bars gives guests a way to customize your menu choices to their tastes. It’s a way to cater to every kind of eater — from carnivores to vegetarians, from starch lovers to gluten-free disciples. The use of stations will also get guests out of their seats, perfect for mingling and conversing.

Say you and your mate met while working at a fast-food restaurant, or perhaps your first date happened over a juicy cheeseburger. Or maybe you just want to reflect your combined casual style. Try a build-your-own burger bar.

When it comes to burgers, sliders are your best bet, since they’re easier to handle, and guests can fill their plates with a trio of different burger types: sirloin, tuna or veggie, for example. Topping choices can include onions, mushrooms, bacon plus classics like tomato and pickle slices. And be sure to provide a selection of gourmet cheeses in addition to classic American — such as Gorgonzola, bleu and brie.

burger bar

Maybe one or both of you hail from barbecue country. How about mini sliders of smoked pulled pork and brisket, with a bar set up with multiple sauces and toppings? If it’s seafood you crave, set up a raw bar with oysters, littleneck clams and shrimp, or take it to the next level with a customized ceviche station that allows guests to pick their raw seafood ingredients (then have a server mix everything together in a cocktail shaker and serve it in a martini glass).

Stations with varied pasta options are popular, too, along with the classic taco or nacho bar or maybe a fancy grilled cheese station. Another novel idea is a mashed potato bar, complete with every imaginable topping.

Everyone loves pizza, and a wildly popular idea is to crate a pizza bar, with a professional manning the portable oven. You can even provide gluten-free crust and vegetarian options for those with dietary restrictions.

When it comes time for dessert, fire up the oven again for a fruit pizza bar, complete with decadent drizzles of chocolate and/or candy toppings. Or how about milkshake bars, popcorn bars, gelato bars or donut bars?

A coffee bar at your reception will give your guests much-needed sustenance to dance the night away. For a special touch, provide heart-shaped sugar cubes or rock candy stirring sticks. Be sure to include decaffeinated options for those who plan for an early night and a dreamy snooze.

When it comes to casual drink options, make your own fruit purées to create a signature cocktail that matches your palette. Be it flights of craft beer, tiny shots of different bourbons, wine samplings, or even a lemonade or fizzy soda bar, couples are letting guests sample an array of beverages. These types of different drink stations allow guests a peek into your personal tastes, and help create a buzz — of conversation.

Quick tips for food stations

  • Hire enough staff to cater to all the stations.
  • Place the bars in areas where waiters can access it easily to replenish items, allowing enough space to provide a good traffic flow around the table.
  • Label anything containing nuts.
  • Choose vessels with wide enough openings for scoops and tongs to get into.



Wine Lovers Shake Things Up A Bit With Refreshingly Different Wine Cocktails

Holman ranch wine cocktails

Sure, we love our wine, but most of us limit ourselves to pouring straight from the bottle — a perfectly fine strategy that has worked well for thousands of years. But mixing things up — literally and figuratively — by making yummy wine cocktails has gained favor thanks to creative bartenders and adventurous oenophiles.

A wine cocktail is a mixed drink, similar to a true cocktail. It is made predominantly with wine (including sparkling wine such as Champagne, Cava or Prosecco), into which distilled alcohol or other drink mixers are combined.

One of the first wine cocktails to become a classic is the French 75, created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris (later Harry’s New York Bar) by barman Harry MacElhone. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun, also called a “75 Cocktail,” or “Soixante Quinze” in French. The sparkling cocktail was popularized in America at the Stork Club in New York.

To make a French 75, combine 1½ ounces gin, ¾ ounce lemon juice, and ¼ ounce simple syrup (mix equal parts hot water and sugar until sugar is dissolved) in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Top with 1½ ounces sparkling wine and enjoy.

While the French 75 is a classic cool cocktail, on the opposite side of the spectrum is the equally classic hot mulled wine, a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and raisins and a liquor such as brandy.

Wine was first recorded as spiced and heated in Rome during the 2nd century. The Romans travelled all across Europe, conquering much of it and trading with the rest. The legions brought wine and viticulture with them up to the Rhine and Danube rivers and to the Scottish border — bringing their recipes with them.

Hot mulled wine is a winter favorite — warm, flavorful, and always so comforting It’s easy to make in just 20 minutes, or made even easier in a crockpot.  

Simply bring a bottle of wine with an orange and some spices to a boil, then let it simmer for at least 15 minutes.  Allowing it to simmer for much longer has the added benefit of scenting your entire house.

 Here is a recipe for mulled wine, followed by some recipes for other popular wine cocktails.


Mulled Wine

1 (750 ml) bottle red wine

1 orange, sliced

¼ cup brandy (optional)

¼ cup honey or sugar

8 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

Steps: Combine all ingredients in a non-aluminum saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Strain, and serve warm. You can also place the oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise in a cheesecloth. Then simply strain and pull out the bundle when ready.


Red Splash

1½ oz. tequila

1½ oz. Pinot Noir

½ oz. lime juice

½ oz. agave nectar

2 oz. grapefruit soda

Lime wedge

Steps: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.


The Star Gazer

2 oz. chardonnay

1 oz. dark rum

½ oz. vanilla bean syrup

½ oz. pineapple juice

Lime wedge

Steps: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. 


The Cabarita

1½ oz. silver tequila

½ oz. Cabernet Sauvignon

1 oz. triple sec

1 oz. agave nectar

1 oz. lime juice


 Steps: Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with a lime twist.


The Refresher

5 grapes

2 mint sprigs

½ oz. simple syrup

1¼ oz. vanilla vodka

½ oz. lemon juice

1 oz. Prosecco

Two grapes 

Steps: Muddle grapes, mint, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, lemon juice, wine, and ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with two grapes.

Horse Rescue Organizations Play Vital Role In Equine Welfare And Protection

Brought to our country in the 1500s by the Spanish, horses have had a significant impact on American culture.

 The first form of public transportation was a horse-drawn carriage, then the stagecoach — which also delivered our mail. Ranches and farms could not operate without horses, and horses were used for entertainment — in racing, polo, rodeos and circuses. And it’s hard to visualize taming the Wild West without horses.

The modern world has fewer uses for horses, and much of the romance surrounding equine culture has dwindled. Consequently, these magnificent animals are often considered disposable in a society where open space is shrinking.

That’s why horse rescue organizations play such a vital role in equine welfare and protection. Places such as the Equine Rescue Center & Sanctuary in Paicines, Calif., have a strict mission: To rescue abused, abandoned, neglected, orphaned foals, off the track thoroughbreds and slaughter-bound equines, including horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Located in San Benito County in Central California, the rescue center is truly a sanctuary — a place where horses spend their days grazing pasture, socializing and taking long naps. 

Currently the ERC has 83 rescues, and takes pride in providing sanctuary for older and/or injured equines. It practices humane treatment to provide quality of life, and is a strict “no kill” rescue, never putting horses down because they are old or deemed unusable.

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Like many similar horse rescue organizations, the ERC provides a natural herd environment for the many adoptable equines it purchases at auction. Volunteers retrain these horses for many disciplines so they can find their “forever homes.”
In addition, the ERC provides veterinary care, rehabilitation, socialization, proper nutrition and most of all love.

The ERC focuses on older equines, giving them a safe, natural, herd environment where they can live out the remainder of their lives.

 The retrained horses provide a greater service for disabled children, schools, youth groups and many other organizations. The ERC strives to educate the community and public about horses, horse care, horsemanship, compassion, responsibility, second chances and the value of life.
Like other rescue organization, the ERC is in need of support, including monetary donations for feed, veterinary care and hoof trimming services. Many people also find it rewarding to volunteer their time. Others send a monthly check to “sponsor” a particular horse.

The ERC was founded in early 2009 by Monica Hardeman, who received an early education in horse culture. At age 4 she would ride the ponies her rodeo cowboy grandfather from Hollister got for her and her cousins. She continued her love of horses and worked on a ranch in her teen years, but her dream was to care for horses others did not give a chance. Following the tragic death of her sister, Monica found horses helped her cope with the pain. Knowing how helpful horses were to her she wanted to share this with others in need of help and healing. The goal is to rescue horses headed to slaughter; give them a second chance, let them heal in a healthy environment and have them bond to humans.

 To find out more about the ERC, visit www.equinerescuecenter.com, or search on the Internet for “horse rescue organizations” in your area.




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