foodie stuff

Be a wine pro (or how to fake it)

Let me start this off with a little good news/bad news. The bad news is, no how-to article will teach you how to be a wine pro. The good news is, the only way to talk about wine & sound like you have a clue is to: 


It is 100% true that whenever I taste a new wine I learn something. It can be anything from a new combination of flavors that I love, to ‘Oh wow, this wine compliments what I’m eating so well.’, to ‘OMG, I definitely never want to drink this again.’ 

You can read books about wine, and flavor profiles of different wines. A simple Pinterest search will bring you an info graphic that tells you that the flavor profile of a particular Cabernet has red currant notes with some tobacco on the back, along with a leathery mouthfeel. I’m here to tell you that the light will not go on until one day you experience that leathery mouthfeel. The bottom line: it doesn’t take a lot of work. Just drink. 

2. Listen to the guy at the store.

This tip will usually work if you’re buying your wine at a reputable place. In general, most serious wine drinkers will love to tell you about their favorites, recent finds, and what they would drink with certain meals. If you have a general idea of what you’re looking for (i.e. a wine to go with some steaks I’m grilling, a good wine to take on a picnic) they will generally steer you in the right direction. Example: one summer I walked into my local spot looking for a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (if you’re looking for a refreshing summer wine, this is a great choice). My spot had 6 of them; so I asked the guy which one he would recommend. Without hesitation, he recommended Kim Crawford. I told him if it was terrible, I would be back to give him a piece of my mind. He laughed & told me I wouldn’t be. He was right. It was excellent & Kim still holds a spot in my summer wine rotation. 

3. Experiment 

Try different wines with different foods. It’s fun, and every once in awhile you will have a ‘there’s a party in my mouth’ moment. And it will be glorious. Many wineries and higher-end shops will offer hands-on events where they pair their wines with different foods. I once hosted one with aphrodisiacs that was outside the box, but a fun way to spend an evening.

4. Don’t follow the rules.

Are there “rules” for wine? Sure. But much like ‘don’t wear white pants after Labor Day’ you don’t have to follow them. Drink what you like. If you only like sweet white wine, then drink it with your steak if that’s what makes you happy. If you want to put a couple of ice cubes in your Chardonnay, ignore the side-eye and do it. Don’t like room temperature red wine? Chill that puppy in the fridge for a bit. 

For more wine, food, and snark follow my Pinterest feed! 

Gastro Goodies? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Want some of the delicious treats you’ve been seeing in my blog in your own mouth? Check out my Etsy shoppe, Mise en Place Gourmet for 40-day-aged black garlic, hand-rolled truffles in 6 flavors, flavor-infused finishing salts, flavored sugars, and more! Hand made by me & delivered right to your door! You definitely have time for that!! 

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #4 This is My Jam! Jam

Folks would have you believe that making jam is super-hard. It’s not, but you do need the right materials & equipment & good instructions. I whipped up this jam that’s perfect for gifting while my kids were at martial arts class one evening. I even had most of the items on hand. Here’s how:

This is My Jam! Jam

makes 5 12oz jars


  • about 1 1/2 C mixed berries (I used a mix of frozen blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries I had in my fridge from my smoothie-enthusiast days.)
  • 1 bottle of wine (I used a Missouri Chardonel)
  • 5 C granulated sugar
  • 2 packets pectin (I have had best results with Certo brand)


  1. Wash your jars with soapy water & set them out on the counter on a clean towel with lids and rings. For gifts, I like 12 oz or smaller quilted jelly jars.
  2. In a pot larger than you think you will need (gotta leave room for that rolling boil) combine berries with 1 C of the wine.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower to medium-high and simmer for about 15 mins.
  4. After 15 mins, pour entire mixture into blender and puree until the berries are pulverized. Add a little extra wine to facilitate blending if needed.
  5. Pour puréed berries & wine back into same saucepan. Add the rest of the wine, and all of the sugar. Stir to combine.
  6. At this point, I recommend clipping a candy thermometer into the side of your pan, to monitor the temperature of your mixture.
  7. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
  8. Add all the pectin & stir to combine. Continue that rolling boil for 1 minute, or until your mixture reaches about 220F. (Sometimes it will take longer than 1 minute to get there.)
  9. At this point you will start pouring your jam into the jars. I like to pour the mixture into my large, glass measuring cup and pour from there into the jars, but you could use a ladle as well.
  10. Fill your jars to the fill-line and immediately cover tightly. If your jam still looks loose at this point, do not despair, as the jam cools it will firm up for you.
  11. Putting the hot jam into the jars will often pop the seals, but you can also process the jam using a canner for about 5 minutes, if desired.
  12. Allow jars, processed or not, to cool for 6-8 hrs, or overnight.


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #1: Wine Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #2: Porcini Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #3: Seaweed Salt


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #3 Seaweed Salt

More of my experiments with finishing salts… I think I may be obsessed. Ask me if I have made any holiday cookies yet. On second thought, don’t. I was very happy with how this came out. After I did the Porcini Salt, I started thinking about other things I could rehydrate & infuse with salt. Seaweed! My weird kid likes to snack on sheets of seaweed like you would roll sushi in- anyone else have a kid who does this? I was pretty sure if I steeped them in water they would rehydrate, which they did, but I was surprised that the water didn’t turn green. Now I get why food manufacturers use artificial colors; this is seaweed, I feel like it should be green. Not green, but definitely captured the essence of the seaweed flavor.

This recipe has been approved by Finnick Odair and the folks in District 4.

Sea-Weed Infused Finishing Salt


  • 4 sheets of dried seaweed (nori)
  • 1-1/2 C Kosher salt
  • 4 C water


  1. Fold your seaweed and place it into a large (1 qt) glass measuring cup.
  2. Boil about 4 C of water (I like to use my electric kettle.)
  3. Steep seaweed sheets in water for about 30 mins.
  4. Remove the seaweed (it will look like cooked spinach at this point) and pour water into a medium saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil, and simmer and reduce over medium-high heat. There will be about 1/4 C of concentrated seaweed-juice.
  6. When reduced, add 1 C of salt and stir until it absorbs all the liquid. If you still have puddles, you can add up to another 1 C of salt.
  7. Spread salt onto baking sheet and dry in a warm oven for about 2 hours, checking the progress & moving salt around every 30 mins or so.
  8. This salt would make a great compliment to any seafood dish; I think it would also be amazing sprinkled over popcorn.


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #1: Wine Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #2: Porcini Mushroom Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #2 Porcini Mushroom Finishing Salt

I promise these won’t all be salts, but I’ve been experimenting with infusing salts with different flavors & I’m mostly pleased with the results. The wine salt posed a bit of a challenge, it didn’t dry as well as the others I have done since.

I regularly purchase dried mushrooms to use in various applications: soups, sauces, etc. They are easy to use and keep almost indefinitely since they’re dried. To use them, all you have to do is put them in hot water and soak for about 15 mins. Typically, I will save the soaking water & use it for a greater depth of mushroomy flavor, kind of a stock of sorts.

You can use any type of dried mushroom here. Porcinis, Chanterelles, and Shittakes are all available dried.

Porcini Mushroom Infused Finishing Salt


  • 1 pkg dried mushrooms
  • 1 C kosher salt
  • 4 C water


  1. Remove mushrooms from package and soak in 4C hot water (I use almost-boiling water from my electric kettle). Use a wooden spoon to push the mushroom down into the water as they float to the top. Soak for about 30 mins.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the water & set aside.
  3. Pour the mushroom water into a small saucepan.
  4. Bring to a boil & reduce heat to medium-high.
  5. Summer mushroom water at medium-high heat for about 45 mins. Liquid will reduce to around 1/4 C.
  6. Remove from heat & stir in salt. If there is still liquid that has not been absorbed by the salt, add more salt. You may need 1 1/2-2C.
  7. When liquid has been absorbed by the salt spread salt mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  8. Place in a warm oven for about 2 hrs or until dry, moving the salt around occasionally for even drying.
  9. Place finished salt in an airtight container & use within 6 months.


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #1: Wine Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends: #1 Wine Salt

What can you do with leftover wine? Leftover wine? What’s that? I kid, I kid… if you’ve got some leftover red wine hanging around there’s a few things you can do with it, but since it’s the most wonderful time of the year, I would suggest making a red wine finishing salt.

Disclaimer: Please, never, ever cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. When you cook with wine, the flavors get concentrated, that’s the reason you’re cooking with wine in the first place, so bad flavors will definitely not get any better…

This is a finishing salt, it has big flavor, and a little bit goes a long way. Your friends can think of you all year long as they sprinkle salt on their steaks and roasts…

DIY Red Wine Finishing Salt


  • 1 bottle (750ml) red wine (I used a Shiraz for a deeper flavor)
  • about 2 C Kosher salt


  1. Pour entire bottle of wine into a medium saucepan. I used 2/3 of one bottle, and 1/3 of another. Both were leftover from my wine club.
  2. Bring wine to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-high & simmer for about 45 mins. After the first half-hour the wine will reduce by half, watch carefully for the last 10-15 mins as the wine thickens to a syrup.
  3. Pour 1C of salt into the pot. Stir salt until it absorbs the wine-syrup. If there’s still excess wine in the pot, add another 1 C of salt.
  4. Spread the wine salt onto a plate or sheet pan & allow to air dry, tossing occasionally to expedite drying. This may take several hours to a day. I ended up putting it in a warm oven for several hours to speed things along. 
  5. Store in a covered jar, use within 1 year.

For more ideas on adding wine to your recipes, check out my Pinterest board Cooking with Wine.

Foodie Field Trip: Shatto Milk Company

Awhile back, completely by accident, I stumbled upon the awesomeness that is fun, flavored milks by Shatto Milk Company. A quick flashback, in case you have forgotten… I could hardly contain myself when I found out the awesomeness was produced in Osborn, MO. A hop, skip, and a jump (OK, a 45 minute drive) from my casa. Trust me when I tell you I am not unfamiliar with Osborn… I let my excitement out all over social media, including this Instagram post (By the way, are you following me on Instagram yet?): IMG_0463 The folks over at Shatto were kind enough to invite me out to check out the farm & meet the cows. Really, they had me at cheese… and flavored milks… and ice cream. As soon as I had a day available, I made the trip.

It was a lovely summer’s day in Missouri (Not really, it was pouring rain.) when I arrived at Shatto. Their gift shop was absolutely FILLED to capacity with people. Young moms and preschoolers, a tour bus full of seniors, joined my teens & I waiting for the tour to start. Because of health codes, everyone was furnished with a paper hat to wear during the tour.  My teens were thrilled (sarcasm), the little kids kept taking theirs off only to have their moms plop them back on their heads, and one older lady put hers on completely upside-down (how?) which greatly amused me.

There were at least 4 tours going on simultaneously, and with great precision, each group set off in a different direction to begin the tour. Our group started with milk-tasting, led by owner Leroy Shatto. As a professional wino, a small part of me was confused by milk-tasting. Where was the dump bucket? Was I supposed to spit? Wait, just drink the milk? I kid, I kid… We tasted 8 different milks (banana, strawberry, chocolate, cotton candy, root beer, cookies & cream, coffee, and the new birthday cake flavor) while Leroy gave us some history of the family and the farm. I think root beer is still my favorite, followed by coffee. The birthday cake was delicious; it tasted just like cake batter. I’m kind of bummed that I missed out on the limited release of apple pie flavor, but maybe I’ll catch it again the next time they do it.

Owner Leroy Shatto telling us about the farm's history in front of the milk-tasting set up.

Owner Leroy Shatto telling us about the farm’s history in front of the milk-tasting set up.

We walked past a cheese-making/processing room where you could look in and see some folks working on the various stages of cheese-making including the production of those famous Shatto cheese curds! Maybe in the future they can offer a “cheese geeks” tour. I know the littler visitors might not be into it, but I nerd out over cheese and would’ve loved to hear more about it.

Then we checked out a vintage (1950s) milk truck that the family found, restored, and decked out to rep the farm in parades and such. A pretty cool feature is that you can stand up and drive it. A guy on my tour made an amusing “milkman’s kid” joke, which I had to explain to my kids later. Thanks dude. 🙂

Checking out the bottling line and the various holding tanks was next. We also learned a little about homogenizing and pasteurizing milk. Here I learned 3 very important things: 1) milk can get from the cow to the store in fewer than 12 hours 2) a milk-bottling line is very similar to a wine-bottling line, and most importantly, 3) Shatto makes pumpkin spice eggnog in the fall!

Here's a shot of some chocolate milk getting bottled.

Here’s a shot of some chocolate milk getting bottled.

Next, they brought us out to meet the calves and if we wanted to, milk a cow. The calves were very cute, but were unfortuntely upstaged by a litter of adorable barn kittens. Amazingly, no kittens found their way into my purse, and my cow-fearing daughter (When she was a toddler she had an unfortunate incident in which she was head-butted by a cow.) actually enjoyed petting one of the calves and letting it lick her.

Katie the calf meets my little bovinophobe.

Kacie the calf meets my little bovinophobe.

A bovine friend waiting for her turn in the milking parlor...

A bovine friend waiting for her turn in the milking parlor…

After visiting with the calves, cows, and barn cats, we headed over to the milking parlor (Sounds so fancy!).  Here, they can milk about a dozen cows at once. According to Shatto, an average cow produces 6-7 gallons of milk per day. The staff discussed sanitizing the cow’s udders and let us all stick our thumbs in the milking apparatus. It felt similar to a blood pressure cuff at the doctor’s office.

Here are the ladies coming into the milking parlor & getting hooked up.

Here are the ladies coming into the milking parlor & getting hooked up.

This guy was pretty amused with everyone sticking their thumbs in the milking apparatus...

This guy was pretty amused with everyone sticking their thumbs in the milking apparatus…

The tour ended (of course) back in the gift shop where we were treated to some tasty flavored butters (honey butter and garlic butter) and cheese curds (the plain ones). The seniors did some shopping and got back on their tour bus, and the little kids begged their parents for cowbells. Thank goodness my kids are big!  I picked up some birthday cake milk for the kids, some “Dill-licious” cheese curds (that barely made it home), and Lily, a hard cheese a bit milder than Parmesan that I have already used in several dishes (Stay tuned!).

I think the sign on these needs to read "MORE COWBELL!"

I think the sign on these needs to read “MORE COWBELL!”

Thanks for a fun summer field trip Shatto, I’m excited to see what outside-the-box stuff you come up with in the future!