SAY CHEESE, PLEASE & LOBSTER & TRAINS & SO ON AND SO FORTH…

My mom is in town so that means it is time to loosen the belt and eat. So far, we have been far more healthy than usual and we have done far more home cooked meals as well.

First night we marinated salmon in teriyaki sauce.

teriyaki

Then I threw it on my baby Cuisinart grill.

 

salmon in teriyaki

While it cooked, I sautéed onions and spinach in olive oil. It was a good, healthy and light meal.

We went to my cousin’s home (on my dad’s side) for a meet and greet! It was so cute they introduced my mom as Aunt Ruthi to their kids. It is an odd situation. Our dads are identical twins and fiercely close. FIERCELY!!! Yet, the cousins barely know one another.

Well, Perin (my cousin) and Erin (moi) have started remedy that…Perin’s brother Langdon was there. I met the spouses to my first cousins and all their kids, and I had never ever met the spouses or any of the kids. And Perin lives 15 minutes away from me in Hyde Park. A really, really nice group of people and we had such a nice time.

We left there and went to the Annual Guggenheim Gooble Gooble Day party. It is always so much fun to see faces that I had not seen in years and now only see at this event yearly. And when they all saw my mom, whom they have not laid eyes on in several years. They all went “RUTHI!!!!” It was very cool!

The food was absolutely yummy. Steak sliders and I have no idea what was in that egg roll shaped thing but it was killer. Catered by DeStasi’s in Wyoming, that is the one in Ohio.

 

http://www.400wyoming.com/ordereze/Page.aspx?PageID=1003

 

We are such UN-traditional Thanksgiving eaters. We used to do “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner. We still do on occasion, if I go to the Gugs or Crotty’s, but when the occasion arises and we don’t have to go the turkey route…we don’t. NEITHER of us like our turkey hot. We like our turkey cold. We like turkey sandwiches the next day! I love stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. My mom does not. This is how the problem gets solved.

I went to Findlay Market and I bought cheeses, but that story is for later in the blog. Then I went to Luken’s and I bought a lobster tail, a half-pound of shrimp and ¾ lb. of sea bass.

I steamed the lobster and shrimp in my steamer. I love that thing. I have had it for over 10 years. Well, worth it. Best $19.95 I have spent, maybe! Then I took the sea bass and followed a recipe I picked up in Savenor’s in Boston. By the way, Savenor’s is famous for being the place where Julia Child bought all of her meats. Well, this sea bass recipe is simple and tasty.

You coat the fish in mayonnaise and then roll it in breadcrumbs and bake it accordingly (to size/weight). When it is finished place slices of red onion on it, but my mom hates raw onion, so I sautéed the onion in butter and placed them on top and on top of that slices of red tomato. So yummy. Highly recommend it.

My sides consisted of roasted cauliflower florets in a caper vinaigrette and sautéed zucchini cooked with the following spices: parsley, oregano, basil and marjoram and a squirt of Dijon mustard.

It was a lot of food but perfect for us. Oh yes, béarnaise sauce for dipping the shrimp and lobster. But it was a lot healthier than the traditional meal.

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Dessert was simple and even easier. My mom plunged a spoon into a pint of Graeter’s Salted Caramel gelato and I had a slice of Frisch’s pumpkin pie and for us that was a yummy Thanksgiving dinner.

My mother was an interior designer years ago. I never realized how well liked and respected she was till I heard a few people tell me how well liked; respected and TALENTED she was and still is! I knew all those things but until you hear otherwise one assumes those facts are carved in stone and I am very biased.

Well, my mom was so good at her job that she became one of the lead interior designers specializing in banks in OH, KY, and IND. It sounds so unlike my hippy, progressive, artistic mother to do a traditional style bank, but she was good. On Friday, she wanted to go to Lebanon, Ohio to visit a bank she had designed the interiors for over 20 years ago!

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We were pretty certain the bank had been done over since my mom left her mark on it years ago, but we would be mistaken. What a compliment to her that they didn’t feel the need to re-do it till this coming year!

Then we wandered around the beautiful little town of Lebanon, Ohio. It was the star of a Hallmark film last year THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.

And it is famous for a hotel that is the oldest in Ohio called The Golden Lamb. Did you know that 13 U.S. Presidents have dined and/or stayed at this hotel? Pretty impressive!

Beautiful place!

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We were worried that the food would be ordinary, heavy comfort food, but it was fantastic!

I ordered a Black (steak, steak was not black, but that is to represent the steak, just in case you didn’t know) and Bleu salad with iceberg lettuce, tomato, egg, onion, bleu cheese, crispy onions and chef’s dressing and the presentation was beautiful.

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My mother ordered a creamy tomato-basil soup and a grilled cheese sandwich that she vows may be the best grilled cheese she had eaten in years! Look at this thing!!!

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Now, here is the close up!

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It has caramelized onions on it and creamy boursin, Tillamook cheddar, balsamic tomatoes, on brioche bread and then homemade potato chips with sea salt.

We were so impressed!!! Even the yummy pull aprt bread, butter and apple butter were delicious!!

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We wondered in and out of the cutest, quaintest little shops!

Maddie Lisee and The Pink Hippo

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Then into a few antique shops, which had jukeboxes, beautiful antique corner cabinets, tables, and pieces that you have not seen or thought of in decades!

Then we went to an adorable shop called Sticks & Stones Design. Great gifts for dog lovers, and so much more!!!

sticks and stones

sticks and stones 2

The one place I really wanted to go was into the old fashioned ice cream shop for the fact that it was a step back in time to see this traditional shop with the old fashioned chairs and the look of something you saw in an old, old movie. Didn’t eat the ice cream, because I was forewarned it was nothing special. Hate to waste calories on nothing special, but this joint is charming.

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Then we saw old train cars that they are trying to save….

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And some guys who setup a train set for a few days for the town to enjoy free of charge…

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We left Lebanon behind us and then headed back toward Cincy. We stopped at the mall thinking if we found a parking spot we would stop, but we didn’t! We just kept going! Neither of us are black Friday shoppers but we do not do well at passing a Ralph Lauren outlet with HUGE sales. We love his colors!

Over the weekend, we did something that I learned was not only a childhood tradition for me, but also a tradition for my mom when she was an art student at DAAP @ UC. The way the DAAP Program, which is a pretty prestigious art school in the country, is setup is for the students to do what they call co-op work. It is great and everyone everywhere should be so lucky. You work 6 months at a job in your field or a field you wish to try and then 6 months of schooling and it alternates between school and work. Students use it as an opportunity to figure out what they want to do and where they want to do it. Then when you get out of school you do not run into what MANY of us have, which is the line, “Come back when you have experience.”

Well, during one of my mom’s co-op jobs in art school she worked above the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Christmas trains and she said that every day during her lunch break during Christmas she would go downstairs and watch the trains. When we went this year. She said she went every day they were there. I had no idea. The things we learn.

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Well, we went to The Museum Center to see the trains and we found this amazing display of Cincinnati from long ago that was incredible. I HIGHLY recommend all Cincinnatians and tourists visiting Cincinnati go see it!

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Then when I was a kid, we used to go downtown at Christmas time and see the trains, go see the shop windows. They still do it in New York, but I think that tradition is gone in Cincy. AMAZING windows in shops at Christmas time in places like Saks in Manhattan, which are so popular and crowded there is a cue around the windows because so many folks go!

And for the kids, years ago, they had two reindeer in Pogue’s a shop that was bought by Federated and now is famously named Macy’s. Patter and Pogie, the two reindeer, and when I was a kid I COULD NOT wait to see them. I had my picture taken with them as a small child and apparently my mom felt compelled to EMBARRASS the hell out of me and make me take one with them as an adult. So, here are ALL these kids in line to get their picture taken with the reindeer and ONE forty-five year old woman. Nice! Here are the reindeer without ME!!!

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On Sunday, we went to a friend’s for leftover Thanksgiving dinner. Her food rocks! So, we ended up with a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving dinner after all! And the pumpkin pie was really good. She said it was an Alton Brown recipe and the consistency of the pie was killer.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pumpkin-pie-recipe.html

But the pumpkin cheesecake was MINDBLOWING good!!!!

We had a board meeting and she brought leftovers to it and I took two pieces home. My mom and I are still eating off it. Now, ya’ll know if it was me it would have been gone lickety split, but with the one bite eater there. I am trying to show some restraint.

My first day of work. Nice people. Convenient place. All is good so far!

One night during my first week of work, I came home and my mom had made an appetizer. It was a mushroom sautéed in butter and then stuffed with shrimp and a type of goat cheese melted over the top. Can you say yum!!!!

mushrooms

My mom is an interior designer and growing up with a woman with a real flare for design is a lot of fun! She is also a loyal Cincinnati Enquirer reader and in the paper she discovered a few house tours in town.

The first I was very excited to go to and it was quite frankly one of the best house tours I have been on in the city. It was the Glendale House Tour. Glendale is one of the prettiest and most elegant towns in Cincy, as well as one of the oldest and most posh neighborhoods. People think it is Indian Hill and Hyde Park, but it is Glendale. The homes there are special. I am not crazy about the locale of the neighborhood in the city and the schools stink, but the homes!!! Here is an example of one.

 

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Then because I had claimed that I was NOT going out on Sunday, we went directly from the Glendale House Tour to across the river to Newport, Kentucky and went to their house tour. That neighborhood is beautiful! The homes are not as spectacular but they are a series of row houses with beautiful stained glass windows and architectural gems on/in them.

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This weekend we are doing the OTR Home Tour. Tickets are going fast!!!

That evening, the company I have started to work for The Asset Advisory Group (TAAG) had their annual Christmas party at The Cincinnati Zoo.

They even had an owl for the kids to see! Food galore! Fun was had by all. Then my mom and I tucked cookies in our pockets (I felt like Dan Akroyd in the movie Trading Places at his Xmas party in the movie) and we poured Apple Cider into cups and we walked through the Zoo looking at Xmas lights drinking cider and eating cookies.

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We came home and my mom took a Barq’s Red pop and poured it over a scoop of Haagen Daaz vanilla ice cream and made herself a pink cow! Whatever makes you happy mom as long as it does not involve two reindeer and me.

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The next day, we woke up to the first sunlight we had seen in days! Dulce and I went for a walk and a run. We were going to get her boyfriend Duffy but then I knew we were going jogging and I wasn’t sure how Duff would feel about the run! I needed it after all the cookies!

We saw these cool things on the fence that I have noticed for MONTHS on my walk and it looks like kids made them. I asked the owner what they were made out of and he told me an art student at DAAP makes these out of duct tape. Pretty darn tootin cool!

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We came home and snuggled into the couch or in my case the hammock and watched the Steelers CREAM the Bengals. So painful!

On Tuesday, we went up to Marty’s Hops and Vines for drinks and dinner with Viv, Shirley (aka Trouble) and Darlene! We walked in the door and it was packed and this is what was going on. Dress for Success a wonderful organization where women donate clothes for other less fortunate women to come get the proper attire for job interviews. They were having a fashion show.

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It was Ladies Night and we were hoping it would be filled with men, but alas it was filled with women. Cie la vie! (Such is life, as the French would say!) My mom and I ordered pizzas that were KNOCK your socks off good!!! Killer!!! Mine had pepperoni, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese on it. My mom got pepperoni, artichoke hearts and Gouda. We highly recommend it.

Marty and his wife Kate are wonderful, wonderful people. The place is a huge success and a wonderful spot to go for a drink and a nibble.

http://www.martys-hopsandvines.com/

We all had a ball. Nice, nice, fun night!

Back to a very important topic.

CHEESE!!!

I alluded to this earlier in the blog. My mom and I believe that Cheese is an all-inclusive food group. We rationalize that it is filled with protein and calcium. So, before she arrived, I went down to my favorite cheese guys at Findlay Market called J.E. Gibbs. They are directly across from Luken’s where I buy my chicken and seafood.

This is who you are looking for… the name not this particular man in the picture.

J.E. Gibbs Cheese

These guys are so great and they have such amazing cheeses! They are as nice as can be. They have approximately 200 different cheeses and they are quite knowledgeable about them. I told them that I was going to do this and I have always wanted to do it. I am going to try a series of cheeses and let you know what I think of them.

So, this is what I bought for my mom and I to try.

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First, is the Brie with mushrooms.

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You really can’t go wrong with Brie. I mean you can if you don’t buy a good quality Brie but Brie is such a yummy, smooth and tasty cheese and if you love mushrooms. It is delicious.

Then I tried a New York Peppadew cheddar cheese with red pepper in it. This is interesting. Peppadew is the brand name of sweet piquanté peppers, grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa. This was probably our favorite of all the cheeses I brought home, but they all were really good.

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I bought a cheese we had bought on my mom’s previous visits called Polder Blanc. It is a unique cheese variety of Gouda cheese made with goat’s milk. It is very mild and very tasty. I almost never go to the Gibb’s booth and not buy it.

 

The last cheese I purchased was a cheese with a pop of mustard in it and when you bite into it the mustard seeds pop in your mouth and give an abundance of flavor. Plus, they are really fun to make pop! The cheese is called Red Dragon Irish Ale & Mustard Seed. I cut off bits of it and ate it during the evening for a late night snack. Look at it….

 

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We took some of this cheese and added it to omelets for a great flavor, but I was happy to eat it plain or on a cracker.

 

Well, that ends the cheese segment for this time….

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

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