Sunday, August 29, 2010

Royal Naval Dockyards - Commissioner's House

Jenni and I spent the better part of our third day in Bermuda exploring the Royal Naval Dockyards. Bermuda once played a key role in British defense, and the Dockyards was her 'Gibralter of the West.' The facility was decommissioned 1951, and the 6 acre site has since been transformed into a series of shopping centers, museums, and restaurants. The Commissioner's House, pictured here, had an excellent museum on Bermuda's history and its naval military past. 

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

This is an awesome lemonade to have on a hot summer day. I make it every summer. We had a party over the weekend and it was very popular with the adults and the kids. You can never have enough strawberry lemonade.

1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups rinsed, stemmed, and chopped strawberries
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
24 ounces sparkling water

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Transfer the sugar syrup to a blender, add strawberries and lemon juice. Puree until well blended.

In a pitcher combine the puree with the sparking water and server over ice with a sprig of mint.

Portabello Reubens

The kids are back in school, so I'm cranking out meals like a short order cook. I haven't been able to talk the boys, or Jenni for that matter, into eating sauerkraut, but I've come to appreciate it over the years. Grandma Benson would be so proud. But with our without the sauerkraut, this is a delicious sandwich. The recipe is courtesy of Moosewood Restaurant.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
dash of salt

Combine the oil, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Remove the stems and slice the portabellos. Brush both sides with the oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, turning once, or saute in a large skillet.

Russian Dressing
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash of Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste

8 slices plain or toasted rye bread
4 sliced cooked portabellos
1 cup drained sauerkraut
1 1/2 grated or sliced Swiss Cheese

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Spread Russian Dressing on 4 slices of bread and place plain side down on a baking sheet. Layer each slice with 1/4 of the portabello slices, 1/4 cup of the sauerkraut, and a generous 1/3 cup of the cheese.

Top each sandwich with a second slice of bread with dressing, and bake for about 4 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Red Rock Canyon - Las Vegas, Nevada

I've had the opportunity to spend my share of time out in 'Fabulous' Las Vegas, Nevada. If your time on 'the Strip' starts to wear on your nerves you can take a short drive out of town to the beautiful Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area for a hike in the hills above the city. I spent a long afternoon climbing amongst the rocks with my buddy, Danny and his fiance, Katie, following the many trails, feeding the wild donkeys and generally recharging my batteries.

St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest

The Cotswold Way - Broadway

"Ah, the timeless wonder of the English countryside." Isn't that what Rik, from the Young Ones used to say? I took this photo of a small section of the Cotswold Way high above Broadway one afternoon, just down from Broadway Tower. I walked several sections of 102 mile long trail, which connects numerous Cotswold villages. But I took a surprisingly small number of pictures of the trail itself. Not pictured in the photograph is an Irish wolfhound a middle aged gentleman was brushing just behind me. The dog was the size of a Shetland pony. I failed to ask him if there were any wolfmen in the immediate vicinity.

Moat at Warwick Castle

Jenni and I spent the better part of the day wandering the gardens and grounds of Warwick Castle. There was a medieval fair going on that day with a large crowd. Wandering down to the pump-house I had a chance to take this picture of the old moat that was part of the castle's defenses.

Budapest - Tram

Jenni and I were able to get around Budapest using the subway and the light rail pictured above. It's a shame most of the light rail services were pulled out of towns like ours in the 40's and 50's. They continue to be a practical option throughout Europe.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Orleans Hill Winery

I'm not a tremendous consumer of wine. But I like a good bottle of red as much as the next guy. Our local Friar Tuck has begun selling Orleans Hill wines and I've picked up a few like the Syrah pictured here. Orleans Hill makes wines that are organic, sulfite-free and vegan friendly. I like the Syrah. It's dry and full-bodied, but not too heavy. Perfect with a nice bowl of pasta with a cream sauce.

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

I couldn't resist the temptation to pick up The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson, the second and third books in the Milleneum Trilogy. Like most people I found myself sucked into the surprisingly violent and corrupt world of modern Sweden. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist, hacker Lisbeth Salander and company do battle with corrupt government officials, the secret police, gangsters and spies. Like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo there's a high body count, tons of characters, and a lot of surprises along the way. Who knew the streets of Stockholm could be so mean?

Last summer Jenni and I took the boys to Stockholm for our family vacation. It was a great trip and the weather was fantastic. We walked down many of the streets depicted in the novels. Stockholm isn't a large city, but if you're unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, the long street names or the numerous islands, finding your way around can get pretty confusing. The same can be said when you're reading the novels. I kept taking out my Stockholm map to see where the characters actually were. 'So, Mikael's in the Tunnelbana station in Gamla Stan....'

The novels have now become such a sensation you can now take Milleneum tours around Stockholm to locations like Mikael Blomkvist's apartment at Bellmansgatan 1 or to the cafe's where the characters drank one of their numerous cups of coffee.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gate Guru iPhone App

I'm always looking for tools that make travel easier, or at least a little less frustrating. I heard about Gate Guru from a friend of mine and downloaded it to my iPhone. Gate Guru allows you to locate food, shopping, ATM machines, news stands, WiFi, etc in most of the major US airports. There are a couple of non-US airports such as Heathrow and Vancouver as well. It's a great tool to have at your disposal. It's recently been incorporated into the Kayak iPhone app as well, making Kayak an even better one stop shop.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cheese Pizza

I make pizzas just about every week. They're easy and delicious. I cover them with asparagus, spinach, beets, sliced potatoes, chopped rosemary and basil from the garden. Whatever is handy. There's no wrong way to make a pizza, is there? Here is the basic recipe for cheese.

You can vegan it up by removing the cheese or adding a substitute like daiya mozzarella.

This recipe calls for dough, sauce and a half ball of part/skim mozzarella.

Brad's Basic Pizza Dough

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp n active dry yeast
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp of salt

1) To make the dough by hand, whisk the yeast and oil into warm water until it is foamy.
2) Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together.
3) Work the dough on a floured surface until it becomes smooth and not lumpy.
4) Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning so the dough is completely coated with olive oil.
5) Cover and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour. You can divide it again if you wish and let it rise further, or save half for later.
6) Stretch the dough out on a floured surface or roll it out.
7) Dust a pizza pan with cornmeal and place crust on the pan.
8) Top it with your desired topping and bake.

Quick Chunky Pizza Sauce
2 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic1 can of whole tomatoes (or diced) and juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tbs fresh basil
couple cranks of pepper

Heat oil over medium heat. Fry onion until just translucent. Add garlic and cook for a couple minutes without browning. Add the tomatoes, herbs and salt. Cover and simmer for a half hour, stirring as necessary. I use a potato masher to gently press the tomatoes after about 15 minutes have gone by. Once the tomatoes have reduced and thickened you can remove from heat and allow them to cool. Spread on the crust to the coverage you need and top with cheese and other toppings.