I received my Cooking Club magazine today and there was a priceless hint in it that came from a reader/member named Lois Laine (really). Lois keeps grapes frozen in her fridge and when she wants to chill wine quickly, she doesn't attempt to stick the bottle in the freezer or something. What she does it open the bottle, pour the wine and drop a few frozen whole grapes into each glass. This will chill the wine and then you get a little extra treat in the form of the grapes.
I like this idea. It is creative, simple and everyone can do it. If you are the kind of person who wants to buy fresh fruit but sometimes doesn't know what else to do with it, freezing a few grapes is a no-brainer and it will make life a little prettier at Happy Hour.
Look for your mini-four-packs at Safeway and Fry's and I believe at every supermarket that sells alcohol. I shop mainly at those two stores so that is where I see them, but there are many Tucson supermarket chains that I don't visit often, so look wherever you shop.
Grapes are also delightful in a green salad, Waldorf Salad, and they are an enjoyable ingredient in a smoothie. One of my favorite smoothies is half black cherries and half blueberries, mixed with tart cherry juice and enhanced with fiber and protein. Any grapes would substitute nicely with this, and the basic formula of 1 cup of fruit, 1 cup of another fruit, 1 Tablespoon of protein powder and 1 teaspoon of fiber (such as Benefiber).
Here's another hint that was sent in by Noreen Morgan, who picked it up from raising children. She uses a pizza cutter for everything from cutting pancakes into children's bite-sized pieces, to sandwiches, waffles, French toast and generally any flat dish that needs to be in small pieces.
Another hint from Julie Urban was one of those that make me slap my forehead and wonder why I didn't think of it before. Julie buys those little four-packs of mini-wine selections, which are now available in all kinds of wines. She uses them to add wine to recipes, and reports that each bottle holds approximately 3/4 cup of white or red wine (and there are also rose types).
I hope that the wine industry picks up on the possibilities of these mini-bottles and gets more kinds of wine out there in that form. If you are so inclined, the boxes of wine, that hold quite a bit at one time, will also provide you with an easy way to measure out wine if you want to.
In closing, I want to mention that my conviction that food television has peaked was boosted this past week when I saw the commercials for hair dye featuring Giada de Laurentiis. When I first learned Giada's life story, I learned that, as I thought, she is a member of the prestigious de Laurentiis family who are movers and shakers in the media industry. But long ago Giada was a shy girl who didn't want to be an actress, and chose instead to get a culinary degree from the one and only Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and become a chef.
Then she became a caterer and built up a recognition for her cuisine--no easy feat--and eventually wound up on food television, still shy and nervous. This story moves me, but now there she is, batting her eyes and tossing her dyed hair as though she were any B-movie starlet who is trying to sell her looks.
We already knew that Giada is a beautiful woman, and I can't imagine that she needs the money for shilling for hair dye. It saddens me to think that she has decided to be a glamor girl when she has virtually everything else going for her. But it is what it is.