Life

My daily adventures

Heston Blumenthal Continues to Expand His Empire

Crown_Entertainment1

English chef Heston Blumenthal has never been short of creative ideas having wowed us with his culinary flair for many years. But what has set Blumenthal apart from many other world famous chefs, is his desire to continually reinvent himself and come up with edgy and industrious ideas.

Just recently Blumenthal went on a one-man mission to revolutionize the way food was served at London’s Heathrow Airport. First, he started with launching his latest addition to his ever-expanding array of restaurants: The Perfectionists’ Café.

Situated in the heart of the newly renovated Terminal 2, The Perfectionists’ Café serves a bevvy of “quintessential British dishes” with the innovative flair you’d expect from a Blumental restaurant.

On top of that, he has also released his range of bespoke on-board picnics for flyers that want to fly with the comfort of appetizing food as opposed to the processed food we are all served by ever airline in operation.

And Blumenthal could be forgiven for holding fire on any other potential projects for this year, with the workload of launching the previously mentioned lines and restaurant. But not, Blumenthal he has also announced the intentions of his next project, which is very much under way now.

The Michelin-starred chef has announced a partnership with the Crown in Melbourne, Australia. For those of you who are unfamiliar of the Crown, it’s one of the biggest casinos in Australia, and Blumenthal is set to launch his latest restaurant there.

Apparently, the project is well on its way but no one is yet to announce an opening date. The Crown Group has announced it will be located in the center of the casino next to its swimming pool, which is a major focal point of the casino.

The Crown Group, which is a major force in the gaming industry, has said that the restaurant will showcase “his distinctive gastronomy combinations next to the high rollers.”

The Crown Group has seen unrivaled success in Australia mainly due to offering its patrons a diverse entertainment experience in its many establishments. They see Blumenthal as the ideal figurehead to change the way casino food is perceived, and offer its clientele fine dining at its very best.

Since the uprising of online gaming through InterCasino in the late 90s, companies like the reputable Crown Group have succeeded because of ideas like getting Blumenthal’s brand associated with their casinos. It’s a clever marketing ploy that has driven a new clientele and looks like one that will thrive in one of the culinary capitals of the world.

As Blumenthal continues to reach new markets with his business and culinary acumen, 2015 is set to be another busy year for one of the most inspiring chefs on the planet.


Disclaimer: This is a guest post by Hannah Baker.

Patio/Container Gardening

 

Container gardening, patio gardening, balcony gardening, whatever you want to call it, it’s a great way to grow your own vegetables, herbs and even flowers in the smallest of spaces.

Check out some of these amazingly creative container gardens:

container-gardening

This one is my own handywork, an herb 4-pack:

herb-4-pack

I customized a Marble Brewery 6-pack container to hold 4 mason jars and herb plants.  Can you sense my level of pride?

I’m no expert by any means, but I am learning how to grow my garden better and better in the Denver area each and every year.  This Small-Space Container Gardenings book is extremely helpful to get ideas for planters and has loads of tips, but I’ve learned some great advice from local gardeners too!  So I wanted to share what I’ve learned during my beginning years of patio gardening in an arid climate.

In Colorado, the summers are extremely hot and dry.  I’ve tried various containers and plants during the last few growing seasons, and found success with some more than others.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t be fooled by those cheap clay pots.  They are absolutely THE worst container you may ever use for your plants.  I could hardly keep my soil wet long enough to water my plants.  Clay pots absorb too much water and dry out very quickly.  Avoid these at all costs.
  2. Make sure that whatever container you’re using has drainage holes.  You don’t want your plants to rot.  If you find something you would like to use as a container and it doesn’t have any drainage holes, simply take a drill with the biggest drill bit you have handy and poke a few of those puppies in the bottom of it.
  3. Shade, shade, shade!  Even when your plants call for direct sunlight.  The summers here are HOT, HOT, HOT!  Plants that are able to survive in full-sized gardens in Colorado may not have the same luck in full sunlight on  your patio.  Find some partial shade for your babies.
  4. When growing season is in full swing, water your plants at least once a day.  Weather and temperature dependent, sometimes twice a day.  I’ve noticed that lighter-colored plants tend to need more water than darker-colored plants (for example, basil plants need more watering than rosemary).
  5. Grow lots of herbs.  Herbs do extremely well in containers.  They can also live with one another.  You can put different breeds of herbs in one container.  I’ve had the best luck with basil, rosemary, thyme, and chives.
  6. Tomatoes are a challenge.  If you want to grow tomatoes, they can be extremely challenging in containers.  Make sure you have one large container per tomato plant, at least one gallon in size.  You’ll need tall sticks or some sort of framing to hold the tomatoes up.  I’ve had the best luck with a hybrid tomato plant actually called Patio Tomatoes.  Your traditional tomato breeds need lots of dirt and water and pruning.  Loads of attention for hardly any tomatoes.  The Patio Tomato hybrid comes highly recommended if you want a lot of tomatoes.
  7. Container plants love nutrients and will suck the nutrients dry from your soil quicker than you want them to.  From time to time you should sprinkle in some Miracle Grow plant food or you can make your own by adding crushed egg shells onto your soil.  Yes, you read that correctly – egg shells.  Save your egg shells by rinsing them and allowing them to dry (they will not smell, trust me).  When they are dry, toss them in a food processor or crush them by hand until they are finely broken up.  Voila!  You have free plant food!

I grow my plants from seed too.  Seeds can be a pain because you need a lot of space to get them started, but starting your plants from seeds is definitely cheaper than buying grown plants.  I start my seeds pretty early, usually the last week of March or the first week of April.  I use a seed starter tray, carefully marking all of my pods, then I gently move them to larger containers until they are ready for the outdoors.

Well folks, those are some of the tips I’ve picked up on during the last few years of patio gardening here in Colorado.  What other suggestions do you have?  Let me know!  I’m always looking for new advice from my fellow green thumbs!

Cheers,
McBooty

 

Photo sources:

Pallet Garden (via Life on the Balcony)
Hanging garden herb baskets (via housetohome)
Galvonized Buckets (via DIY Network)
DIY Colorful Vertical Garden On A Fence (via shelterness)
Wagon Container (via Life on the Balcony)

Happy Spring!

These last few weeks have proven to be busier than normal.  That means that things are really ramping up here in Colorado.  Spring is springing and Summer will be here before we know it!  I know it doesn’t seem like it in many parts of the nation (still experiencing the coldest temperatures on record!), but good things come to those who wait, right?

Easy for me to say I suppose.  We have been blessed with sunny, warmer weather as of late.  The Mister and I were even able to squeeze in our first hike of the year this weekend!

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It was really nice to feel the warm sun on my face and get outside for a few hours.  It’s time to start shedding that winter fat!

I also planted my pre-mature baby plants this weekend.  I can’t wait to see them grow into little seedlings!!

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I’m also trying to force flower bulbs for the first time.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Any tips?  I’m trying to do this with Calla Lilies in particular.  Fingers crossed!

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Speaking of babies, my best friend just had her first born!  I love Spring!  I love Spring babies!  I’m so happy to announce the newest addition to the extended family, Inara Nicole Lynn 🙂

inara
Isn’t she precious?  Bonus points if you can guess where her first name came from!

As far as cooking goes, I’m sad to report that there hasn’t been a lot of that lately.  We either make quick, go-to meals, eat out or order in.  It’s not something that I’m proud of but it’s  happening.  The move, the new job, and everything else combined have left us little to no time or energy to put something new together.  I do aim to update a new recipe here soon though.  Thank you for bearing with me!

That begs the question, what will happen to this blog?  I don’t plan to let this online adventure die, but it might be time for a revamp or a new direction.  Perhaps a Life in Denver type blog?  Or Ordering In and Take Out blog?  Food and Restaurant reviews?  Hm… any thoughts?

Stay hungry my friends!

On This Day In November …2007

on this day

The recent move has left me mostly internet-less or lacking in free time to cook/blog.  Luckily, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  We are mostly unpacked and I hope to hang some art this weekend to make the place feel more like home.

Because things have been such a whirlwind lately, I thought I would resurrect a post I wrote six years ago.

Boy how time flies huh?

I will be honest, I had completely forgotten about this post until today.  Surprisingly, I still feel strongly about each and every one of these answers but it’s sad to think that I haven’t actually pursued any of these dreams in the last six years.

Makes you think.

~

aurora borealis

What would be the 5 major things you would do if you were told by your physician that your life would only last another six months?

1.  First, I would spend time with both sides of my family.  It’s from their wisdom, their love, their mistakes, I am who I am today.  We’d wine and dine, and share our stories.  We’d have one final family extravaganza.  I’ve never imagined my funeral being glum.  Not that many of us celebrate the passing of a loved one, but I hope this would give my family one last amazing memory of our time together.

2.  Lay under the aurora borealis with somebody I love.

3.  Attend an Opera.  The symphony, costumes, the lyrics;  I’ve always been fascinated with Opera.  I am intimidated by the expenses and the languages that come along with the show.  If I only had six months to live, I would dress in my best and enjoy a night at the Opera.

4.  I’d say goodbye to everyone, and move to Europe.  Every once in awhile I get the urge to pack up my belongings and head to a foreign place.  We all do, I’m sure.  I wouldn’t need much.  Only beautiful places, beautiful people, beautiful atmosphere.  I’ve never been there,  I can’t speak the language,  I wouldn’t have any money; but I would die some place I’ve always wanted to go.  The hardest part about this of course, would be leaving the ones I love.  But this trip would be for myself.  I’ve always relied on other people to do things for me.  It would be my way of redeeming my independence I suppose.  But I wouldn’t mind sharing the experience with a close friend either.

5.  Film short documentaries of my travels for my loved ones.  If it came to it, I would mail the unfinished footage to a trusted friend who could complete my work.

~

How about you?  What would be the 5 major things you would do if you were told by your physician that your life would only last another six months?

Oklahoma Disaster

red cross

Blogging seems so insignificant when there is a state of emergency in our nation right now.  Our thoughts are with all of the families who were in the path of the category EF4 tornado that touched down in Oklahoma.  They’ve lost their homes, their cars, their way of life, and in many cases, their loved ones.  Sometimes these situations can make us feel helpless but there are steps you can take to help those who really need it.

Watch your local news or visit their websites for ideas on how you can contribute in your area.  Many times local charities will offer to collect goods to bring to those in need.

You can also donate money directly to the American Red Cross online or from your mobile phone.  You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 for tornado victims, text STORM to 80888 for the Salvation Army or FOOD to 32333 for a Regional Food Bank.

At the very least, make sure you have an emergency plan in your own home.  Depending on where you live in the country, you should have a plan for local weather disasters:  tornados, floods, fires, mudslides, etc.  Talk to your loved ones, secure a safe location to meet and have an emergency bag packed and at the ready.  The Red Cross also offers online information on how to get prepared for any type of situation.

Do what you can to help others, get prepared in your own home and be safe everyone.

The 90’s, Butter and Loved Ones

goat

I recently returned home to help my mom out with a few things around the house.  We went shopping, picked out paint colors and re-organized.  I couldn’t believe how much stuff I still had in her basement – items I hadn’t thought about in years.  It was time to do some extensive Spring cleaning.

As I sorted through old Lego sets, Nintendo video games and scuffed rollerblades, I found my extensive collection of Beanie Babies.  Do you remember that craze throughout the late 90’s?  My grandmother was the biggest culprit out of all of us.  She would research each toy and even had each store’s delivery schedule memorized.  We would hunt for these little guys every week.  It gave us something to do and I really enjoyed spending time with my grandma as a young girl.

princess di bear

I made sure Cool Moses watched the flock while I attended to other things.

moses

…like delicious Wisconsin food.  There are many Wisconsin foods I crave the second I leave the state:  Perch and Walleye Fish Fry, Cheese Curds, Broasted Chicken and of course, Butterburgers.  Butterburgers are exactly as they sound, charbroiled burgers dripping with fresh, sweet Wisconsin butter.  Paula Deen might even blush at these babies.

butterburger

The way I figure, if you’re going to have a burger, you’d better have the best darn burger your tastebuds can handle.  And butterburgers do the trick for me!

Wisconsinites not only love their butter, sports and their cheese, but they love their beer too.  And these beers needed tending to as well.

beer

If you couldn’t tell already, New Glarus is one of my favorite Wisconsin breweries.  I made sure to sample a a handful of these during my stay.  My friend Meg also introduced me to Ciderboys’ Cinnamon Cider, also local to Wisconsin.  Dee-licious!

Of course, I shared in my wealth of beer with friends.

friends

These are two of my oldest friends, Meg and Amanda.  I’ve known them since my mom and I first moved to Wisconsin.  Meg and I used to play in a field outside and pretend we were part of Tarzan’s crew.  Amanda I met a bit later, during our boy band phase.  We’ve all been friends ever since.

mom

This is my mother.  Isn’t she beautiful?   She is starting down a new path in her life.  She is the bravest woman I have ever met.  I know that she will shine and grow more than she believes she will.

Wisconsin is filled with all sorts of wonderful food, beer and culture, but it’s my friends and family that I miss the most.  It’s always bittersweet leaving Wisconsin to go back to Colorado.  Although my life is in Colorado now, Wisconsin still has my heart.

If you’ve moved away from your hometown, what do you miss the most?

 

My Vacation in Massachusetts

Unemployment has left me with nothing but frustration.  I have submitted my resume (to which I update constantly) too many times to count.  I’m pretty sure I’m in the 1,000’s range by now.  I’m not getting a lot of hits.  The few that I did, chose other candidates.  Other nibbles were for jobs that I do not have any interest in (100% commission, for example).

Companies have upped their game, which is not good news for me.  There is no long a human analyzing your resumes and looking for skills and personality, they have created software programs to sift through each and every resume.  To get past their hiring software programs, my resume has to have specific keywords to meet their requirements.  If I do not pass that initial test, they send me an automated email saying that I do not qualify for the position.  If I do pass the test, there are a series of personality exams that offer nothing but confusing and unrelated questions (red is to black, as bear is to… and math questions that I will never use in life, such as, Dick ran South for 2 miles at 5mph and continued on a bus at 25mph, how far did Dick go?)  Are you picking up on my frustration yet?

Anywho, it’s been a painful process and it seems like no matter how many hoops I jump through, I always end up at a dead end.  It was time to get away and stop thinking about hiring processes for a few days.  My two very close friends from college moved to Massachusetts and I was long overdue for a visit.

Faneuil Hall

The east coast is beautiful – full of sparkling ocean coastline and trees as old as America herself.  There are  five-story tall houses as wide as city blocks, whose bones have survived every war this country has bled through.  Such rich history, brimming with vibrant people and exceptional cuisine.  I was overwhelmed by the variety.  Fresh Seafood, Portuguese, Lebanese, Italian Pizzerias, Polish Pierogis and even Coney Island Hot Dogs – I was in a foodie lover’s dream.

Lebanese Meat Pie

For our first food adventure, I tried a Lebanese Meat Pie.  Earlier that day I had gorged on a Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia and my body was hating me for eating so much meat and cheese in one sitting, so I ordered a spinach and feta pie.  I tried both my friend’s traditional pie and mine and they were both absolutely delicious!  The dough is buttery and fantastic and the filling… ooey gooey and completely satisfying.

cousin mikes

Shortly after, I was introduced to Chouriço (pronounced shure–REET-zo), a delicious Portuguese sausage spiced heavily with garlic and paprika.  Chouriço was everywhere in Fall River, Massachusetts.  Chouriço pizzas, grinders, bread, breakfast, hotdogs… you name it, they had it… and I loved it!  I wish I would have brought some back with me.  I will definitely have to plan ahead the next time I visit.

eggplant parm

My eggplant parmesan grinder.  Cheesy, tomato perfection.  Cousin Mike sure knows how to make some mean bread!!

Quincy Market

Moving on, we eventually made it to Boston and explored the Quincy Market – a place filled with show performers, shopping and the most amazing grub you may ever see, including these ultimate pizza bagels.  Completely drool worthy.

Pizza Bagels

They had everything from chowder to lobster rolls, to smoothies to giant cookies at this market.  If I lived in Boston, I would be here every day for lunch.  Plus, out of all of the clam chowder I tasted (and I ate a lot of chowder), this place had the best chowder I tried.  Try the free samples at Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Bar and see if you don’t agree with me.

Back to Fall River and more delicious food, this time of the Polish nature – Patti’s Pierogis.

pattis pierogis

Patti’s was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  Patti makes a zillion kind of pierogis!!  You can look at her menu online, but we enjoyed (to name a few) the traditional varieties, shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, pizza, broccoli and cheese, Chouriço pierogis and dessert ones too – mounds, chocolate and peanut butter and fresh blueberry.  Phew!  Try making your own pierogis at home!

pierogis

I had many adventures in Massachusetts, too many to share in this novel of a blog post, but I do have one last place I would like to talk about, Nick’s Coney Island Hot Dogs.  Apparently there is a hot dog war going on in Fall River – Nick’s v. JJ’s.  These hot dog joints are located right across the street from each other.  I’m fairly certain it is so the owners can keep an eye on one another.  My friends side with Nick’s, so that’s where we went for breakfast before I had to leave for the airport.

hot dogs coney island nicks

The sausages snap in your mouth, are surrounded by a steamed bun and then topped with delicious toppings.  We had our hotdogs with onion, mustard and chili sauce.  The chili sauce is what makes these dogs!  I am craving one right now.

My friend also ordered coffee milk at this establishment, something I am not familiar with.  I believe this is a drink native to the east coast, maybe more specifically this area, but it is milk flavored with coffee syrup (similar to chocolate milk).

french fries

We also ordered French fries – possibly the FRESHEST fries I have ever had!  The lady behind the counter literally took a whole potato, brushed it off, pushed it through a fry-cutter and dropped the fresh potato pieces into a deep fryer.  Amazing.

To conclude, I had a wonderful (and much needed) weekend with some of the greatest girls I know.  Thank you to those who welcomed me into their home and showed me around Massachusetts – a trip I will never forget.  And thank you readers for sticking with me throughout this very long post.

Much love!

Alice and the Super Bowl

alice in wonderland, tumbling, rabbit hole

I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d write a quick update (sorry folks, no recipe today).

Do you ever get the feeling that you just can’t catch a break?  I’ve been feeling a bit like Alice lately (tumbling down the rabbit hole).  Waiting on unemployment checks, waiting to hear back from job interviews, just… waiting while everything else passes me by (or that’s how it seems at least).  It’s an unfamiliar feeling for me.  I know the silver lining is there, it’s just been difficult to see.  I know everything will turn out though.  I’m just sick of waiting.  Good things come to those who wait, right?

Anywho, enough of the negativity McBooty, sheesh!

Can you believe that it’s Super Bowl time again?  I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, maybe you’re not a sports fan.  In that case, it’s almost Puppy Bowl time again!  My team is already out this season, so I am looking forward to delicious food, cool brews and close friends.

Mister came up with a great idea to do a DIY nacho bar, complete with black beans, jalapenos, nacho cheese and barbacoa.  I can’t wait to make the beef!  I’ll let you know what happens and how everything turns out.

Do you plan to watch the game?  Maybe the Puppy Bowl?

Goodnight friends!

Top 12 Recipes of 2012

2012

Hello everyone and happy New Years Eve!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  It’s about that time again where we all ponder the year’s accomplishments, realize how little we really got done and make new resolutions for the upcoming year.  Or maybe that’s just how I do things?

2012 was a tough year for too many people.  It seems so trivial to complain about anything when so few are as fortunate as you and I are.  These horrific events make me very aware of what I have.  I am very thankful for all of the love and warmth in my life.

As the year comes to an end I can’t help but think of how quickly this last year came and went. The years seem to slip by faster and faster, don’t they?  I guess that means I need to cherish the time I have with my friends and family even more so.  If that’s even possible.

Anywho, lots of action on Foodie McBooty this year!  Thank you all for your continuous clicks and comments.  🙂  Here are the top searched/viewed recipes of this past year.  Happy New Year!

The Top 12 Most Popular Foodie Recipes of 2012:

1.  Cauliflower Crust Pizza
2.  Polish Dill Pickle Soup
3.  Perfect Pulled Pork
4.  Baked Mac and Cheese With Buttery Goldfish Crust
5.  Melt In Your Mouth Tri-Tip Pot Roast
6.  Apple Dumplings
7.  Pizza Cupcakes
8.  Artichoke Spinach Dip
9.  Anne Burrell’s Spaghetti and Meatballs10. Healthified Chicken Pot Pie11. Mummy Weenies
12. Easy Meatloaf

Foodie’s Fiscal Cleanse

MoneyJar

I recently watched an episode of Cheapskates on TLC about extreme penny pinchers.  On this particular episode, a gentleman and his wife participated (amongst many other activities) in what they called a “fiscal cleanse.”  For them, this meant they did not purchase a single item for an entire month.  It was a chance to empty out their fridge, freezer and cupboards, and get really creative with what they had.  I really like that idea.

During this past month I haven’t done a lot of cooking.  I was on vacation for almost two weeks and then Mister’s family was visiting so I was practically on vacation a second time.  I realized how little I’ve been to the grocery store lately.  I think I could do this fiscal cleanse thing.  I mean, if you turn on any TV or radio you’re bound to hear something about the upcoming fiscal cliff.  Why shouldn’t I try a fiscal cleanse myself?

empty fridge

Okay, I’m not as extreme as I pretend to be.  I couldn’t keep myself away from spending money somewhere if I wanted to but I think I have enough ingredients and creativity to make the food in my household last for a few weeks.  Plus I’m a freezing machine.  I have containers of soup and bags of fresh vegetables in the freezer to use for months to come.   That’s it, I’m doing it.

On a side note, this post may come to a shock to my Mister who is currently at the casino and up until now, was completely unaware of this idea stewing in my brain.  Surprise babe!

pumpkin-ravioli

 

To begin my fiscal cleanse, I’m taking it easy tonight.  I’m going to boil some leftover Pumpkin Ravioli and serve it with a dumbed down version of a sage cream sauce.  Okay, getting hungry.  Stay tuned!

Beer, Cheese and The Pack

Greetings faithful friends,

Long time no chat!  I recently flew into Wisconsin to visit family and they haven’t let go of me since I landed.  This is the first chance I’ve had to get away and write to you all.  So, hello!  What’s new with you?

My hometown of 73,000 people was a great place to grow up and actually has a surprising amount of history.  A few fun facts about Appleton, WI:

  • This is where Harry Houdini (the magician) grew up
  • Actor Willem Dafoe graduated from my high school
  • Maury Laws is from Appleton and was music director for many Hollywood films, such as The Hobbit and Frosty the Snowman
  • Appleton’s Lawrence University is the second oldest co-ed college in the nation
  • Appleton had the first electric cable car and the first hotel with all electric lighting
  • Mark Stewart, lead guitarist and cellist for Paul Simon, grew up in Appleton

There, don’t you feel a little bit wiser now?  Most people connect Wisconsin with beer, cheese and the Packers, and those people are absolutely correct.  People really do bleed green and gold around these parts.  There is strong sense of community here too – neighbors looking out for one another, block parties, and nobody leaves anyone’s house hungry… ever.  I’d imagine these are typical characteristics of any upper midwestern area.  It’s something you definitely do not see as often in Colorado.

Outside of spending time with my family, I plan to gorge on fresh lake perch and walleye and cheese curds while I can.  You don’t see much of these things beyond state lines.  Don’t worry, I’ll eat extra for you too.  I’m willing to make that sacrifice.  Mmm…

I was surprised to drive by a food truck the other day.  A food truck, in Wisconsin?  Who wuddathunkit?  I can’t WAIT to try out their food – their menu looks spectacular.  This is their website:  http://kangaroostaurant.com/

Just a quick update for ya’all.  I hope to get back to posting recipes again very soon.

Take care!

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