Shiner Bock Holiday Cheer Turkey Chili

It’s a chilly October day.

Leaves are changing from green to yellowish-orange; soon they’ll be red and falling.

Farmers are in the fields harvesting; fields have turned from verdant populous green to wispy brown stray sticks and stalks.

The interior decor and scents change from Summer at the lake to Fall in the country.

Weekends are football, football and more football: Friday high school, Saturday college, Sunday NFL.

Wines are trending red, in place of the light Summer whites; cider and hearty beers replace light.

I love this time of year!

Today, simmering on the stove… Homemade turkey chili, but not just any turkey chili. Hearty, flavorful, low-maintenance – much like myself.


Homemade chili with skillet cornbread.

What makes this chili so great? It’s easy. It’s got a kick. It’s quick. It’s adaptable. Isn’t that enough?

Skillet Cornbread

Buy a cornbread mix; mix it up. Heat the oven to 400° with a cast iron skillet inside. While it heats, brown the meat, begin cutting the peppers and onions. When the oven is ready, remove the very hot skillet, pour the batter in the skillet, put it back in the oven, bake for around 18 minutes (until golden brown).


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Love vino? Try these apps.

Uncork with help from these apps: Wine4.Me, Hello Vino, Out of Milk.


“Wine4.Me uses rock solid data to take the guesswork out of finding the right wines for YOU.”

I love Twitter. I learn so much. Mashable recently Tweeted a link to an article called “5 Can’t-Miss Apps”. One of the apps they highlighted was Wine4.Me.

I’ve admitted before that I am not a wine expert. I know what I like, but sometimes the tasting notes provided by the winery are little help to me. just might solve that problem.

According to the publisher, VineSleuth, breaks through all of the hype and marketing and gives you recommendations based upon your reactions to wines you already know you like. The app also offers food pairing advice, and not in a snobby way – they even mention mac n’ cheese.

As of now, Wine4.Me is available only in the Apple App Store, but they say it will soon be at Google Play, too. I can’t wait to give it a try on my Galaxy s5.

Hello Vino

“Need Help Shopping for Wine? There’s an app for that.”

What can Hello Vino do for you?

  • suggest wine pairings
  • recommend wine based on your likes
  • offer gift ideas for wine lovers

Hello Vino is a repeat winner in the best wine app categories on multiple sites, including Wine Enthusiast, RefuGeeks, and NewsWatch. Available for in the App Store and on Google Play, this free app is highly rated.

Hello Vino touts itself as “a free app for the rest of us”. I am definitely a member of “the rest of us”.

If you need wine suggestions, Wine4.Me and HelloVino should take care of you. But, wine lovers can also use apps to help them inventory the wine they already have, or add wine to their shopping list.

I’ve used several grocery apps over time – some free, some paid for. I keep coming back to Out of Milk.

Out of Milk 

Out of Milk is more than just a basic grocery list. OOM allows you to create and modify lists on your phone, tablet, and via their web site, then sync it all together. You can also share your list with other people – spouse, personal shopper, the best friend that always seems to be going to the store. Continue reading

Listen to the Bishop

“I have enjoyed great health at a great age because everyday since I can remember I have consumed a bottle of wine, except when I have not fell well. Then I have consumed two bottles.”

– Bishop of Seville

Napa? Sonoma? Why not Dry Creek?

I’m no wine snob. In fact, I’m still learning about wine. And so far, my education has been limited. But, I know what I like.

I have had the good fortune to spend a few weeks in the Cahors region in France, birthplace of Malbec. (It’s true. Argentina’s Malbec grapes originally came from Cahors.)

I have sampled the wines of Illinois – don’t laugh. They aren’t bad if you like sweet wines. Our soil is just too good in most areas to stress the grape vines.

I have done a few winery tours in California – near Ojai, Santa Barbara, Russian River, and my current favorite… Dry Creek.

Why Dry Creek? Because that’s where my cousin took me. She lives in San Francisco and Healdsburg is only a short drive away. I have not yet been to Napa or Sonoma (true Sonoma; Dry Creek is West Sonoma), but I am perfectly content in Dry Creek. We visited several vineyards, but I fell hard for two – Dry Creek and Passalacqua. In the future I hope to highlight a few more.


Dry Creek Vineyard

I prefer reds over whites. That said, I love a good Chenin Blanc. Dry Creek makes an excellent Dry Chenin Blanc. And a pretty darn fresh Fume Blanc. And their reds aren’t too shabby, either.  (I especially liked the Old Vine Zinfandel.)

I am not a wine expert. so I won’t even try to describe the different flavors in the wines. The Dry Creek Vineyard web site can tell you more about the wines than I can.

If you are in the Dry Creek area, you have to stop by DCV. Gorgeous tasting room and gardens. And the staff is friendly, knowledgeable, patient, informative – in no way snobby. The whole vineyard has an air of casual class.

Living in Illinois my wine options are usually limited to whatever Friar Tuck’s or Binny’s has in stock. But, DCV sometimes runs specials of $1 shipping on cases. (Sidenote: on a recent trip to Friar Tuck’s I was shocked and pleased to find that they now carry Dry Creek’s Chenin Blanc at an incredibly reasonable price of around $9/bottle.)

With excellent whites like Chenin Blanc and Fume Blanc at less than $20/bottle on site, Dry Creek definitely warrants an hour, or two, or three of your time. And if you can’t visit in person, check with your local wine store. They just might have it

And if you happen to meet John in the tasting room – enjoy!


Passalacqua Winery

For you red lovers out there, try Passalacqua. It’s right across the road from Dry Creek (very convenient). And you have to meet Tony in the tasting room. You’ll feel like you’ve known him all your life.

Passalacqua is hard to find in stores. In fact, most of their wines are reserved for wine club members, although they do offer Passalacqua wines at some area restaurants near Healdsburg.

I had never joined a wine club before my visit to Passalacqua. I’m not sure if it was Tony or the red wine, but I left there a member anxiously looking forward to my first of 4 shipments through the year. As I see it, there is only one problem with a wine club. The wines feel “special”, so you save them for a “special” occasion, and not just any “special” occasion.

Passalacqua reds have a definite Italian or French feel. Dry. Full-bodied. Gorgeous.

They also produce several excellent whites, including a tropical Sauvignon Blanc. But, I am hooked on the reds.

Other Wineries Worth Visiting in the Dry Creek Area

  • Everett Ridge Winery – Laid back, very casual, beautiful views from the tasting deck, and Cheetos with their tasting flights. Yes, Cheetos. Now how can you be intimidated by a winery that serves Cheetos? Memorable – the Estate Syrah.
  • Amista Vineyard – Amista is small, family-owned. Their tasting room, housed in a large barn boasts some funky, cool artwork. I especially enjoyed a sparkling red, not currently listed on the web site, and the Rosé of Syrah.