From the Vine

Guess Who’s Back?

kitchen_renovation_UG \ The Urban Grape

steak_salad_UG | The Urban Grape

I am. I am back!

It’s been approximately 365 days since I wrote on this blog in any serious, substantial way. I have hated ignoring the blog, but the process of writing Drink Progressively, our wine education and food pairing book out this fall, was creatively draining. Even on the days when I wasn’t writing the book, it was like a soul-sucking creature looming over my every move (I promise it’s going to be great despite that last sentence!). But it’s done, and I’m free to remember the joy of writing a quick little something every morning on the blog.

kitchen_renovation_UG \ The Urban Grape

Except, of course, that I’ve saddled myself with another huge project – a home renovation. TJ and I pulled the trigger on renovating our kitchen and bathrooms, none of which had been touched since the mid-70’s and were in desperate need of being completely gutted. So that’s what we’ve done. And we’re living in our basement during the renovation in a small in-law suite. The four of us and the dog. Living in the basement. It’s going well, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that at this point I’m actually missing my old run down kitchen.

Cooking has been a challenge. I’ve gone from the pinnacle of stove experiences – a very old but remarkably well-working Master Chef professional series range – to a slightly better than dorm room, but honestly perfectly fine, stove top and single oven. You never know how good you’ve got it til it’s gone, right? Instead of my nightly meditation, cooking dinner has become stressful, and for the first time in a long time I pencilled in “hot dog night” on my calendar of weekly dinners. Not exactly Instagram worthy.

But thanks to our grill, I did manage to turn out a delicious dinner this weekend, a grilled and onion-y steak salad that my friend Anne made for me last year that has been haunting my dreams ever since. As you know, I love a good composed salad, because I can deconstruct it for the kids and everyone is happy. Salad is also the easiest way for me to eat gluten and dairy free, but keep those options available for the others. We paired it with the smoooooooooothest Napa Cab from Ramey. This one has been in our cellar for a while and had no edges at all. Just creamy, delicious, well-integrated juice.

Here’s how to make this deceptively simple salad, even if you only have a grill!

Pre-washed salad greens, something soft like a butter lettuce or an herb mix
Roasted red pepper, cut into strips
Grilled red onions
Grilled scallions
Grilled avocado
Marcona almonds
Feta or goat Steak stcheese (optional)
Croutons or slices of French bread (optional)
Dried fruit – sliced apricots, cherries, etc. Just a few!
Slices of grilled steak

Layer this all up in a way that pleases your eye. Dress with any kind of dressing – I did olive oil, red wine vin, dijon mustard, garlic, oregano, and s&p.

There. I’m back. Making it work in the basement even if the pictures aren’t pretty and the food isn’t all that awe-inspiring. Feels good to be here. xoxo



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