Friday, November 22, 2013

House Proud

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach
I have always appreciated where I live and each place that I have called home. This month, however, my perspective on the true meaning of "home" was made even more clear due to the recent floods we had here in Austin. Friends of ours lost their home and 80 percent of their precious belongings due to flooding, but they still had their spirit. With spirit and a community of helpers rallying together they were able to sift through their many years of memories and start that long road to recovery. It will be a long journey but they will do it because the most precious items in their home was each other. As I was helping the family sort and wash and pack and move, I was reminded that a home is deeper then the bare walls and all the furnishings. Don't get me wrong, there is a story for every special item in your home, but if we have to choose between the material and the real, family wins every time. Helping this family during the same time I was scheduled to have my friend Amy come to my home to do an episode for her show House Proud really made me stop and think about my home and what I try to portray in it. I've always wanted a home that was stylish yet comfortable. A home where you walk in and don't feel stiff. Where yummy smells entice you to stay for a while. But if all of that was taken away overnight would I still have a home? Would I have the spirit and drive it takes to rebuild all that is lost? I'd like to think that I would. I realized that those same walls that bring us shelter are the same walls metaphorically speaking that my family and friends bring to me, shelter. As I prepped for the show to be filmed in my kitchen I had to "de clutter" many of my things to make room for the camera guy. It's now a week later and I have not brought those things back into my kitchen nor have I missed them. I guess in hindsight, I always knew that home is where the heart is but the love and joy and hope I have encountered these last few weeks has truly cemented it for me, I'm jus' sayin'.

I made three quick go-to recipes for this episode of House Proud. Each of these recipes can be whipped up with little fuss and no dent in the pocketbook, which in turn gives you more time to enjoy your guests. I like to start with an easy and affordable cocktail and sangria is the perfect choice. I put a seasonal spin on it with apple and cinnamon but feel free to mix it up. I bought a good fresh salsa and paired it with easy homemade tortilla chips. I also made a bacon appetizer because who doesn't like bacon!

Fall Sangria Cocktail
In a large pitcher place the following:
2 apples cored and diced
3 strips of candied ginger minced (pantry staple)
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon (spice pantry)
1/4 tsp. of ground cardamom (spice pantry)
1/2 bottle of Moscato wine (fridge staple)
1 bottle of hard apple cider
1 cup of apple juice
Juice of one half of a fresh meyer lemon
Stir all of the above and pour into glasses. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
*Optional: rim each glass with lemon juice and cinnamon mixed with clear sanding sugar.

Fresh tortilla chips
1 bag of corn tortillas.
Oil for frying.
Cut each tortilla in fourths or strips.
Fry in 1/4 inch of oil.
Drain on paper toweling and sprinkle with Beer Salt. Serve with fresh salsa.

Sweet & Spicy Bacon Wraps
1 lb of bacon
1 bag of chili flavored dried mango strips (pantry staple)
Cut bacon in thirds. Cut mango strips to bite sizes.
Wrap bacon around each bite size mango strip.
Place bacon wraps on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until bacon is cooked and caramelized. Drain on paper toweling and serve.

Want to help the flood victims? They still need so much. Check out this link and see how you can help.