Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Farmer in Chanel

The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell....

no the farmer in Chanel!

Accessorizing for an afternoon in the fields takes a stylish turn when you learn this heirloom yellow tomato plant is bearing fruit for all to see on the back lawn of the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee an hour and change away from Atlanta.

Carolyn goes for the gold plucking a perfectly

ripe heirloom tomato with Chef Jaco Smith.

Chef's Garden

Chef Jaco Smith, who runs Georgia's Bistro at the Ritz, is so dedicated with putting Southern grown products on his menus that he worked with local farmer Sid Cox of Deerwood Farms in nearby Sparta to carve out a section of the lawn in front of the terrace to create a Chef's Garden. In less than 8 weeks the little plot is bursting with tomatoes, mint, rosemary, three kinds of basil and lots of other herbs. "We don't even have to order these herbs anymore from our suppliers. We just pick our own for use in the kitchen."

Garden Chef for a Day

The Chef's Garden is open to guests who sign up for Smith's Saturday "Garden to Grill" cooking classes. And in total Ritzy style each guest cook gets his or her own personalized chef's jacket, an apron and a chef's hat of course. Then the cooking begins. First, Chef Jaco reviews the menu for lunch, then we pick what we need from the garden and assemble it all in an outdoor kitchen and on the grill. The best part is when other guests walk by and wonder "What's going on here?" "Who are these people in the chef's hats?" "How can I join the fun?" Simply sign up for the next class! The menu morphs with the seasons and Chef Jaco gave us the scoop on what's next, "We are expanding the garden to include Fall crops including pumpkins, squash and winter greens."

First Course:

Strawberry, Herb and Summer Green Salad with Sweet Grass Dairy Goat Cheese and a Kiwi Raspberry Dressing.

(Chef Jaco's lesson: a few fresh herbs go a long way in adding taste to green salads)

Second Course:

Herb Grilled Scallops and Shrimp with Heirloom Tomatoes, olives, capers and garden pesto.
(Chef Jaco's lesson: use fresh rosemary sprigs as skewers for grilled shrimp)

Third Course:

Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops with

Pickled Shallots and Raisins
Warm Fingerling Potato Salad

(Chef Jaco's lesson: use sourcream instead of mayo for warm potato salads b/c the mayo will separate when heated)

Pretty Fab Picnic! Overlooking sparkling clean Lake Oconee my group of "Garden to Grill" guest chefs leave the kitchen behind to enjoy the three course lunch we prepared with Chef Jaco Smith paired with wines from Georgia's Bistro.

I love camping!! Actually we coined a new phrase on this weekend trip to the Ritz-Carlton Lodge- Glamping!

With a round of glamourous activities including a sunset cocktail cruise, elegant private dinner in the Presidential House (with dessert in the billiards room), morning "Zen" kayaking on the Lake with yoga session on a little island, dinner by the Lake in the light and warmth of personal chimineas, marshmallow roasting around the Ritz campfire and pampering treatments at the Spa- this is definitely my kind of camping!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Smart Thinking about Drinking

Beau-tea-ful!!! I was introduced to a deliciously smart iced tea idea recently at the blissful Amanyara Resort in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos where the tea is blended with ice to create a beautifully presented refreshing frozen beverage in a tall glass garnished with lime.
Hot weather trimming your appetite? But, you’re still not losing weight. Hmmm, maybe it was something you drank? The first line of diet defense in the battle of the bulge focuses primarily on food choices. And while we still need to watch our plates, we may need to add a serious look at our glasses, cups and car’s drink holders. It turns out that beverages play a significant role in supplying the excess calories that can cause weight gain. Researchers who watch what we drink and how much found that on average 22% of the calories we consume are the ones we drink. And too often, they're calories from soft drinks and other sugary beverages.
So, what should we do to control the liquid portion of portion control? First of all think before you drink. That “free-refill” of sweet tea may be costing you a belt notch or two over time. Here’s what to consider when you're adding a soft drink to your fast food combo, grabbing a fruit juice out of the cooler at your favorite sandwich place or when the server asks, “What would you like to drink?”

Water’s the Winner- Water is of course calorie free and the ultimate thirst quencher. But, if you think it can be a bit boring, add a splash of fruit juice to make your own flavored water. Zero calorie fruit flavored waters with no added sugars are a good choice, too.
Enhanced Waters- These products add everything from herbs to vitamins to the watery mix. Many are artificially sweetened to keep calorie levels down, but make sure to read Nutrition Facts label and choose one with less than 20 calories per 8 ounce serving.
Sports Drinks- They may be associated with winning big on the tennis court or cooling you down after mowing the lawn, but their dehydration fighting electrolytes come with a calorie price tag because of their sugar content. So, you might try the new crop of artificially sweetened lower calorie sports drinks available today.
Coffee/Tea- Calorie-free all by themselves, coffee and tea gain weight when you add sugar and cream. Choose non fat or low fat milk and watch the sugar and honey factor.
And even though pitchers of free flowing super sugary sweet tea are a Southern institution, why not update tradition and ask for a customized mix? Try 90% unsweetened and 10% sweet tea in your glass. You’ll save hundreds of calories and you still get a hint of sweet tea taste. At fast food places, I add a splash of lemonade to the unsweetened ice tea.

Milk- USDA diet guidelines recommend we consume three cups of milk per day for good health. Ever try low fat chocolate milk over ice? Close your eyes and think chocolate milk shake and save hundreds of calories.
Fruit Juices- Full of nutrients but relatively high in calories per ounce. I make a 50/50 mix of 4 ounces orange juice with 4 ounces of sparkling water to cut calories and get some good nutrition. A serving of fruit juice is 4 ounces not a 36 ounce tumbler!
Soft Drinks – Count about 150 calories for a 12 ounce can of soda. Diet drinks are calorie free. There are no nutrients in either choice, but if you're a soft drink fan and drink more than three cans a day -or drive around with a 36 ounce ‘big gulp’ in your car- you can cut 450 calories a day when substituting the diet version. In fact you'd lose about a pound each week.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Independence Day Lessons Afloat

Ah the special light effects at sunset as the pinks and golds mellow everything out even if you're not drinking Champagne. This is what I call a boat! 165 feet long and four decks high cruising out of Naples into the Gulf of Mexico with friends Bob and Suzy Goldman.

Happy Fourth of July! Oh and for some content on
food and nutrition how about this?
Champagne before sunset- 100 calories a glass
Champange during sunset - 100 calories a glass
Champagne after sunset- 100 calories a glass