Schweiger Vineyards

I spent my Veterans Day afternoon visiting a vineyard before heading back to San Francisco for NASS 2014 which will run the rest of the week. I wanted to visit a mountain vineyard for a change of pace from other vineyards I’ve seen. I picked Schweiger Vineyards because it is a family founded, owned and operated vineyard. I like the idea of carving a vineyard out of a mountain wilderness and turning it into a family adventure running a winery.

This was also my first visit to a winery in the fall. The leaves had turned but had not yet fallen off the vines. The colors were spectacular.

IMG_9410For the cellar tour, we were accompanied by the matriarch of the vineyard dogs, Blitzen (a Christmas puppy… the litter was named after all the reindeer).


I really like taking barrel photos with the vineyard mark on the head of the barrel.


The olive trees at the gate made for great framing of the mountain vista.


The wine tasting was delicious. We tasted sauvignon blanc made from sourced grapes and the estate chardonnay, cabernet, bordeaux blend and port wines. Diana, the founder’s daughter and VP of Sales, ran the tasting and gave the tour. Her kids even stopped in to say hello making the experience feel very much like a family affair. Great visit and well worth the extra drive off the beaten path up the mountain road.

Thought Provoking Sermon…

Denny started a new series this morning on the end times. It was thought provoking to say the least. If you are curious, the Sunday morning messages are posted online:

Denny’s message specifically addressed Islam and our present day War on Terror in the context of the end times.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is the appropriate response to Islam as a Christian?
  • What is the appropriate response to Islam as an American?
  • Do those responses compliment or are they mutually exclusive?
  • What should we expect from our government?
  • How do we support our Armed Forces as Americans? as Christians?
  • Are those forms of support complimentary or mutually exclusive?

My thoughts…

Christian response per Matthew 5:43-48 and 28:19-20. American response is to protect and defend and to support those who do the protecting and defending. I think the Christian response is ACTION regardless of Islam and the American response is REACTION to Islam and any other threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Complimentary and not mutually exclusive to my way of thinking. Our government seems to be hell bent (pun intended) on being tolerant and accommodating to the point of being intolerant and prohibitive of our Christian heritage as a nation. Yet, these same people send our troops into harms way because “war is merely the continuation of policy by other means” (von Clausewitz). So while we may agree or disagree with policy and the politicians, we support those who are sent to continue the policy by other means. We can support both as Americans and Christians through gratefulness for the protection, appreciation for the sacrifice, and prayer and service to military men and women and veterans. Complimentary and not mutually exclusive to my way of thinking.

I hope, if you have taken the time to read this, that you’ll take the time to listen to Denny’s message and ask and answer the questions it raises for yourself. And I hope you have a new and expanded idea of and response to Veterans Day as a Christian and American.


Making Butter

I’m using my latest butter making as a test run at posting videos to my blog. I use my KitchenAid with the whisk to get the process started.

After a few minutes of whipping…

Swap the whisk for the paddle…


Continue whipping with the paddle…

Getting thicker…

Getting chunky…

And the magical moment with the cream breaks into butter and butter milk… you can hear the buttermilk sloshing in the bowl…

And we have butter and buttermilk!




I use my bamboo spatulas as butter paddles to wash the butter…

6_washSpeaking of washing the butter… I think it is so cool that you use put water in the butter to get the milk out of the butter… add liquid to remove liquid… butter is magic… that’s why everything is better with butter!

Formed and washed…


And finally… formed and ready to chill in the refrigerator…


Now time to hit publish and see if the videos work… thanks for humoring me with my butter making and video tests.



I pulled in the driveway one evening and saw the headlights play over a strange shape at the base of a tree… and that’s how I found my first hen-of-the-woods mushroom. At the base of an aging oak tree. Right in my front yard. Lucky me!


I had to break the mushroom into a few pieces to get it from the base of the tree to the kitchen. The whole mushroom weighed 7lb 12oz.


I cleaned up the first piece get a feel for working with this delicious smelling mushroom. The bottom pile is the caps, the top left is the stem sliced into pieces, and the top right is the woody stem where the mushroom was attached to the ground. Full of nooks and crannies, these are a bit more involved to clean compared to your average button mushroom.


Here are the pieces after brushing and trimming the woody stems. I put them up for night while I decided what to do with my new found treasure…

I settled on attempting to recreate the porcini risotto from my visit to Lyon. I cut up another piece to get enough caps for the risotto and used the sliced stems to add flavor to the chicken stock.



I diced up the leeks for the sauté.


To get the party started, I sautéed the caps in a few batches.

IMG_2659Once the caps were all browned, I got the risotto started with the rice and leeks.



This was my first risotto. According to the recipe, you add a ladle at a time and cook until absorbed as opposed to adding all the liquid at once.  I have no idea why… I’ll research that one someday…IMG_2662Half way through the cooking time for the rice, the mushrooms joined the party.


Risotto finished with a helping of grated parm.


A nice close up for posterity.


A little extra coarsely grated parm for good measure.


And the verdict? Absolutely delicious and a successful first risotto. Mushrooms were a little gritty – need to clean more thoroughly even at the expense of breaking up the caps or losing flavor from using too much water. And porcinis are better than hen-of-the-woods. And French chefs are better at risotto than I am. And I loved it anyway 🙂

The next batch of fresh mushrooms went with boneless loin chops cooked with paprika and caraway for a German flavor to go with the cucumber salad. I roasted the mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper and then served with a thyme & red wine vinaigrette. This batch was thoroughly cleaned and absolutely wonderful with the chops and salad.

IMG_2681I will now look forward to October as much as May… Morels in May and Hen-of-the-Woods in October.