There are times in a teacher’s life when the planets align, and all possible meetings that you could possibly have occur at the exact same time. Each day consists of at least one meeting, and the precious planning time that you once had is sucked away. It’s tiring. After a while, my mind and body become numb to information overload, and I just need to lie down and not think. These past two weeks have been just that. It takes all of my energy just to make a decision when I get home, as at that point, I either a) don’t care about making decisions anymore, or b) am tired of making so many decisions that for once during the day, I just want someone to make a decision for me.

This week, I had planned for the meals I would cook ahead of time. Luckily, they were ones that I could go simply through the motions of chopping, stirring, and dumping, preparing decently good meal. Two of the three meals were slow cookers, so I could prep the night before and not have to worry about getting home late and not having time to cook. All three meals I prepared for were some kind of Latin inspired dish. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I did not plan a wine. Blame it on meeting exhaustion. The first meal was Laaloosh’s Slow cooker Chipotle Copycat (beef) Barbacoa. The beef chuck was perfectly and wonderfully moist (side note, I hate the word “moist,” but there is no other word to describe it). The beef shredded as soon as you touched it and melted in your mouth. It wasn’t too spicy, but had just enough zing to let you know that chiles were an ingredient. Because it was a slow cooker and I had a husband whose graduate school was on fall break, I had absolutely nothing to think about in terms of preparing dinner. The hubby could turn it on, and I could go to one of my many after school meetings with thoughts of slow cooking hunks of beef awaiting for me when I got home (“hunks of beef” in terms of both meat and men).

It was only when I returned home, ready to dish my plate when I realized that water was the only thing in my glass. Luckily, I have way too many (20 something) bottles of wine stashed just for this occasion. Which one shall I choose? No, no, not this one, not that one, too summery, too wintery, yes, and yes. Wait…two yeses. Which one do I choose? This one is fruitier and fuller, but this one has some spice and zing to it. Um…(biting fingernails)…I don’t know!!! I held both bottles in my hand, at a standstill, unable to make a decision. I’m too tired and I don’t want to make any more decisions! Screw it…we are doing both.

And that is how I ended up with two opened bottles of wine this week.

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes

The second dish I prepared was from SkinnyTaste’s new cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes. It just came out a few weeks ago, and I highly recommend buying it. Some dishes are ones that she has cooked on her blog before, but many are new. I can’t wait to try them all! It was her Slow Cooker Turkey, White Bean, & Pumpkin Chili recipe that I choose (page 65). I love anything pumpkin, cilantro, or almost any food that you can eat with a spoon, so this meal was right up my alley. Savory, sweet, and spicy, the flavor was out of this world.

The final dish I prepared was yet another Skinnytaste recipe. Gina, or the author of SkinnyTaste, is one of my all time favorite food bloggers. This was her Creamy Lentil Soup, and I added roasted Brussel sprouts. It is the time of year when Trader Joe’s comes out with the Brussel sprout stalks, and I tend to hoard them whenever they come in. Be on the lookout for more Brussel sprout meals on the blog or on Instagram soon, because I cannot get enough of them! The flavor of the lentil soup was so incredibly earthy in a good way. I added red chili flakes for some spice, but that is not needed if you are not a fan of spice. Brussel sprouts are my favorite vegetable, and roasting them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper added another layer of flavor to the meal.

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Now back to the wines. The first wine I picked was Odfjell Winery’s Armador Carménère. Talk about a global wine. The winemakers are Norwegian, they took a French grape, and planted it in Chile. It’s got so much character!  The wine has notes of bright fruits, toffee, and a slight hint of licorice. Dry, but many of the brighter, fruitier notes are dominant. The other wine was Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza. I tasted more mature and balanced tannins in this wine, with leather and tart cranberries. I am a girl who like a dry and spicy/leathery red wine, so this was very much my kind of wine.

Surprisingly, the wines did the same thing for all three foods, which I did not expect. The Armador, or the fruitier wine, brought out the spicy flavors of the dish, as well as enhanced the sweetness (such as the bell peppers in the Barbacoa, or the pumpkin in the chili). On the other hand, the dry and spicier wine brought out the earthy flavors of each dish, making everything less spicy and more even. I predicted the exact opposite, so I was startled when that wasn’t the case. It was weird, as I preferred the Carménère with the food, but the Rioja Crianza on its own. Overall, I’d have to give the pairings 3-grapes. They were good, but nothing wow-ing. They worked, but I could have done better. On top of that, much like my lesson planning as of late, I literally did no planning, so I wasn’t expecting perfection. Next time, I may choose a dry Rosé or a sparkling wine.

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Recipes:

Wine:

  • Odfjell Winery’s Armador Carmenére (Red, White, & Bleu) $14
  • Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza (Dominion Wine & Beer) $11

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