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An essential part of my kitchen is the wine.  It is either an ingredient for my cooking or an ingredient just for me.  It’s just another way to extend the pleasure of escaping my busy world by standing in front of a stove.  As Justin Wilson  used to say on his Cajun cooking show – “a little for the pot, and a little for me.”  So true.

Typically, when I start one of my “special” meals, meaning not just franks and beans, I get Don to open a bottle of Chardonnay.  To me, it starts off the enjoyment of cooking.  My business is stressful and cooking is one of my escapes.  Wine just makes it even better.

One of my other traits, though, is frugality.  This is not to say I am cheap – it just says I prefer to spend my monies wisely.  Therefore, I love bargain shopping.  Last night I took a couple of  minutes off to browse through one of the few remaining magazines I still receive – Food and Wine.  They always have very good wine sections and this time they had a section that talked about 24 hour internet wine discounts.  http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/24-hour-internet-wine-discounts. Hm, pretty cool.  So of course I had to go check them out.

I have never bought anything on any of the TV home shopping channels.  On the internet, I occasionally will get something from overstock.com.  The internet wine discounts looked interesting so I decided to check them out.  The top two sites that I liked were Cinderella wine (http://www.cinderellawine.com) and The Wine Spies (http://thewinespies.com).

There is a trick – you have to check every day to find the daily deal.  Not sure I will have time to do that – but every once in a while, I think I will pass by these sites in a “just browsing” mode.  You never know.  My son loves a good Burgess Cab.  My favorite Chardonnay is Rombauer.  And Don loves a particular Zinfandel.  All of them are not cheap so they make it into our homes only for special occasions.  I need to figure out a way to know when one of them, if ever, comes up on these sites.  I’d be there in a southern minute.

Well, that’s it for today.  Guess I just need to get back to work to earn some mad money for wine deals.

Ciao y’all

This week has been a workweek from Hades.  Too much to do and not enough hours.  Heck, two days this week, we crashed at 3:00 AM and woke right back up at 8:00 AM.  So, to say my brain has left the building is an understatement.

When 5:00 PM winds around, that means I have to figure out what to cook for dinner.  Ah, the paragraph before just  stated my brain is missing in action.  That pretty much describes a normal dinner time around this place.  After a full day of making decisions, the last thing I want to do at 5:00 is make yet another decision.

But…. it has to be done.  And that’s the focus of today’s blog article.  I have turned to one of my favorite tools – Google – to help me make cooking decisions.  And it’s pretty simple what I do.

Step one. Figure out what’s around.  Is something going critical in the fridge? Move it to the top of the ingredients list.  Check the freezer and find out what’s there as well.  I tend to go with a quasi-standard southern rule – Meat and Two – (rather than the typical Meat and three).  In other words, pick a meat (or in the new healthier world, a PROTEIN) and then two sides.  The sides don’t necessarily need to be a vegetable.  It can be stewed apples or peaches.  You decide – but you want two.  We always sort of try to put in a starch.  I’m now cooking for my mother-in-law as well, and she’s a die hard meat and potatoes kinda gal.  We have been dragging her into the “all veggie dinner” or “no veggies sides at all” nights kicking and screaming.  Not sure I’ll ever crack that nut.

But, I digress.

Step two.  Go to the internet and type in said ingredients found in step one and then review the answers.  What will come up is a range of ideas and recipes.  That’s when the fun comes in – picking which one makes you go “hm, that’ll do.”

Tonight was a prime example.  I went to the fridge with one thing in mind at first.  It was “5:00 somewhere” so it was time for a glass of wine.  My stomach was going “feed me Seymour” and I grabbed the nice unopened package of Stilton cheese we had picked up at Sams.  That’s when it hit me – this was tonight’s ingredient.  Chicken breasts had already been on the list because I could defrost them quickly.  That’s the other part of the daily saga – what have I remembered to take out of the freezer vs what have I forgotten to take out of the freezer.  You get the drift.

So, armed with my glass of Chardonnay, I headed back to the computer and typed in Stilton cheese and chicken and oui-la, recipes appeared.  I found one that had onions, white wine, and cream cooked together as a sauce to cook the chicken slowly.  Perfecto.  Ah, I detoured just a bit from this by using canned milk – my usual standard for cream.  It works just as well, and has lots less calories.  Unless I’m making Creme Brulee and then ONLY real cream will do.

Oh, and I just went to taste this sauce and OMG it is amazing.  Stilton was never something I would have thought of to put in a sauce – however, based on what is slowly simmering on my stove at the moment – that is changing.

The moral of my little tale is “head to the computer when you haven’t a clue what to cook for dinner.”  The answer awaits you.

Ciao y’all.