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Tonight my husband and I had a wonderful dinner. While traveling. That we cooked ourselves. And we sat back and realized that this dinner was part of a wonderful food journey we’ve been on now for several years.

My husband came from a long line of old fashioned, meat and potatoes cooks. I came from a family of amazing cooks. He has said I have dragged him into a new world of food adventures. I don’t think any dragging occurred at all. What happened is he discovered flavors. He discovered food passion. He found out it is possible to be utterly amazed at the smallest thing in the food world.

Tonight was an example. We are out of town staying at a timeshare while we work and learn. It has a nice kitchen and I always bring my “vacation cooking bag” with essential spices (in little packages that I learned to make from my friend Lindsay Garrison), olive oil, vinegar, etc.

When we went shopping for items to make lunches and a couple of dinners is when the fun began. Meat is so expensive any more that it was really fun to find some nice little lamb chops at a really reasonable price.

Then he and I walked around planning out the menu based on what nice fresh ingredients we found.

I passed the fresh pasta area and saw Roasted Mushroom Ravioli which looked simple and sounded like a good match for the lamb.

Garlic jumped in the cart – well because it was garlic.

A lovely French red wine joined the party because it looked nice enough to stand up to a nice piece of lamb.

I needed some fruit and there were fresh slices of watermelon. For me now, watermelon is not just the fruit – it’s also the the rind, which I turn into Chutney. And that also sounded like a good foil for the lamb.

Ok, fast forward to dinner. With the chutney now made and in the fridge, it was time to start the dinner.

We love to watch food TV shows and as I browned the lamb chops I thought of a show by Alton Brown where he pontificated about the Maillard Reaction – which to old cooks like me meant what happens when you brown meat. There is a fine line between browned to perfection (where you get the wonderful sugars and caramelization) and burnt. This lamb along with the four cloves of crushed garlic were close to that perfection.

While the lamb was in the oven to finish them off to a nice medium rare, I put on the ravioli and deglazed the pan drippings from the lamb browning with the lovely French wine we found for dinner.

Once it was all done, we sat down to eat and we both stopped after a few bites and realized we had created a perfect dinner. Everything went together. There was harmony in the tastes. Each bite demanded more.

We stopped. We looked at each other. And started smiling and laughing. It was a perfect moment. Just the two of us. A perfect dinner we created together. Amazing flavors that blended so well as to give you goosebumps.

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There are several good lessons here. 1.You can create an amazing dinner anywhere. 2. Half the fun of cooking is sharing it with someone who loves it as much as you. 3. Sometimes the high price of one ingredient pushes you to another which turns out to be magnificent.

It was so perfect I had to blog about it.

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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