Link of the Week: Taylor Maid Farms

Good Morning All!  Before you read this post, grab a cup of coffee or tea and make yourself comfortable.  I suggest some coffee or tea from this week’s Link of the Week, Taylor Maid Farms, a purveyor of organic coffee and tea, located in Sonoma County.  I first learned of Taylor Maid Farms while my husband and I were  honeymooning in Sonoma a couple of years ago.  The inn we stayed at served Taylor Maid Farms coffee with breakfast and we thought it was some of the best coffee we had ever tasted.  It was so lovely to sit on the inn’s terrace in the cool morning mist and sip our hot coffee and let it warm us from the inside out.  We loved this coffee so much I even surprised my husband with a huge bag of their Sonoma Roast blend for our 1 year anniversary.

Besides roasting some of the best organic coffee I have ever tasted, I appreciate the fact that most of Taylor Maid Farms’ coffees are shade-grown and fair-trade certified.  Additionally, Taylor Maid Farms is dedicated to supporting small family farms.

If you are a tea drinker, I recommend their Herbal Gardens blend.  This is the tea I drink when I’m soaking my feet in my foot spa.  Too much information, perhaps, but I wanted to convey the relaxed feeling this tea gives me.  It is so floral and aromatic, it is perfect for your own personal “spa day”.  It’s like aromatherapy in a teacup!

If you are looking to improve your coffee or tea experience, I highly recommend you give Taylor Maid Farms a try.  I simply love them!

Link of the Week: Save The Legs!!!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Link of the Week!  Each week I will feature one of my favorite websites and provide a link to it so that you may enjoy it as well.  The featured website may or may not revolve around food and wine but it will be enjoyable.

This week’s featured website is Save The Legs!!!.  Save The Legs!!! is a cycling blog that covers the in’s and out’s of professional cycling from the enthusiast’s point of view.  It is intelligently written while also maintaining a good sense of humor.  I have learned a lot about the world of professional cycling from this blog and highly recommend it to my readers as well.  Professional cycling is such a civilized sport (read: non-contact) with awesome culture, tradition and camaraderie associated with it.

Growing up in Florida, I used to always ride my bike to the beach with my brother and never considered my bike to be anything more than a source of cheap transportation.  Now I have learned the value of cycling as an excellent source of aerobic exercise.  In inclement weather, I can be found in my gym’s spinning class and in warmer, drier weather, I can be found buzzing up and down the Hudson River Park bike path.  I’ve even biked Bike New York’s Commerce Bank Five Boro Bike Tour.  All 51 miles of it!

If you are a cycling fan, whether professional or amateur, I encourage you to check out Save The Legs!!!.  It’s quite an inspiring read…

A La Turka

My husband and I have just returned from enjoying this month’s Foreign Food Night at A La Turka on the Upper East Side.  This month was my husband’s turn to choose which cuisine we would explore and he chose Turkish.  We used to live in the same neighborhood as A La Turka and we always said we’d like to try it sometime but never got around to it.  It was nice to get back to the old neighborhood and after the meal we just had, I think we’ll be doing it more often…

We arrived in a deluge of rain thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Hanna.  We almost thought of postponing Foreign Food Night until tomorrow night but we were feeling particularly adventuresome and set out to enjoy our evening.  As soon as we entered the restaurant, we could smell the heavenly aroma of grilled meats.  My mouth started watering and my stomach started growling.  We were sat at the front window, per our request, and perused the menu, taking note of the soulful music in the background.  As soon as we ordered, we were brought a basket of soft, warm flatbread with 3 dipping sauces (chili sauce, yogurt sauce with cucumber and dill, and flavored olive oil).

We shared a couple of hot appetizers – Sigara Boregi: pan-fried phyllo scrolls stuffed with feat cheese and dill; and Spicy Cigars: pan-fried phyllo scrolls stuffed with ground lamb with a garlicky yogurt sauce.  Both appetizers were out-of-this-world good!

With appetizers as good as these, our appetites were properly whetted and ready for our entrees.  My husband had the Beyti Kebab: hand chopped ground lamb seasoned with garlic, red pepper and parsley.  He L-O-V-E-D it!  I had the Fresh Turkish Okra with Lamb: baby okra cooked with tomatoes and onions served with rice.  Oh my… the lamb was so incredibly tender, I was in rapture.

For dessert, my husband had Baklava.  He can not see Baklava on a menu and not order it.  I ordered the rice pudding, which is my new comfort food dessert of choice.  It was so rich and creamy I would love to have some of it while sitting in front of a fireplace in my pajamas.  But, I digress.  Needless to say, we both enjoyed our desserts very much.  I do apologize, we did not take photos of our desserts as I, acting like a deranged woman who must have her dessert NOW, dug into my rice pudding before my husband could grab the camera.  So sorry.

As far as service is concerned, we were delighted by the wait staff that served us.  Everyone was exceedingly friendly and knowledgeable.

I must point out that we had to use our point-and-shoot camera this evening as our new digital SLR is simply too large to discreetly take photos in a restaurant.  Still, I think the photos turned out nicely.

My rating (out of a possible 5):

Yes, you read correctly, I have awarded this restaurant 5 TC’s.  The first 5 I have given since starting this blog!  That is high praise indeed.  I implore you to try this restaurant soon.  We were so thrilled with our meal and I want you to experience it for yourself!

Homemade Applesauce

Happy Labor Day!  As today is the unofficial end of summer, tomorrow is (unofficially) the beginning of Fall!  Fall makes me think of apples and apples make me think of applesauce and applesauce makes me think of my Great-Grandma Hollingsworth who used to make homemade applesauce for me and my brother when we were little.  My brother liked his applesauce to be red, so Grandma would add some red food coloring to it.

I never got Grandma’s applesauce recipe before she passed away so I spent last Fall tinkering in the kitchen, trying to replicate her applesauce so that I can, one day, make it for my children and grandchildren.  Luckily, I came up with a more natural way to make my applesauce red.  I love the texture, flavor, aroma and color of this applesauce and hope you will enjoy it too.

Homemade Applesauce

6 pounds apples (use a mix of sweet varieties such as Gala, Fuji and Empire)
Good quality cranberry juice (no sugar added)
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Wash, peel, core and dice apples; place in large saucepot.  Add just enough cranberry juice to keep apples from sticking (start with 1/2 cup).  Add cinnamon to taste (1 teaspoon is a good place to start).  Add sugar to taste, if you are using it.  Stir to combine, cover and slowly cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  Cook until apples are soft and cranberry juice is completely absorbed.  If the cranberry juice is completely absorbed before the apples are fully soft, add a little more juice and continue cooking until apples are soft.  Run cooked apples through a food mill or potato ricer (I use a potato ricer).  Chill before serving.