Monday, February 02, 2009

Here we go again

With all that is going on in the world, one would think that the Massachusetts Attorney General would have better things to do with her time.

Free the Grapes!: Massachusetts Attorney General to Spend Taxpayer Money to Maintain
Discriminatory Ban on Wine Direct Shipping

February 2, 2009, Napa, CA – Despite a decisive opinion and remedy order by widely respected
U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will spend
taxpayer dollars to appeal the judge’s decision, which promised an expansion of consumer choice
in fine wine.

On November 19, 2008, Judge Zobel ruled unconstitutional a Massachusetts statute that bans winery-to-consumer shipments from wineries producing more than 30,000 gallons and who retain a Massachusetts wholesaler; these wineries account for over 90% of all of the wine produced in the US each year, according to the plaintiff’s filing (Family Winemakers v. Jenkins). On December 18, Judge Zobel enjoined the state from enforcing Sections 2, 18 and 19(F) of the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 138.

Now, Attorney General Coakley intends to appeal the final decision to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The 30,000 gallon cap statute has been a lightning rod for consumer anger and press opposition. Now that it has been ruled unconstitutional, Massachusetts’ citizens should wonder why their taxes will go to defend this anti-consumer statute whose sole purpose appears to be to maintain a state-sanctioned monopoly in wine distribution,” said Jeremy Benson, executive director of Free the Grapes, a national coalition of thousands of wineries and 300,000 wine lovers.

According to Free the Grapes!, if successful, the AG’s appeal will:

• Reduce Consumer Choice: Maintain a law that effectively bans all winery-to-consumer
wine shipments, making MA one of the remaining 15 states that continues to prohibit its
of age citizens from purchasing the wines they want directly from licensed, regulated

• Ignore Working Solutions: Successful direct shipping “model” legislation is working
successfully in a majority of the states – the model bill satisfies state regulators and wine
lovers, and in several cases, provides states with a new source of tax revenue;

• Waste Taxpayer Money: If the state loses, then the case will have expended taxpayer
money on needless legal wrangling;

• Ignore Opposition in Other States: The “cap” approach has been introduced
unsuccessfully for three consecutive years (FL), litigated (AZ), angrily opposed by
consumers (OH), and now ruled unconstitutional (MA);

• Provide No Benefit to Massachusetts Wholesalers: Even the chairman of the country’s
largest wine and spirits distributor, Southern Wines & Spirits, was quoted in IMPACT
trade magazine that direct-to-consumer shipping has “…not hurt us in any way.”
Free the Grapes! encourages Massachusetts consumers to visit its website at and personalize a message sent automatically to Attorney General
Coakley, as well as to send letters to local newspapers for consideration.

Massachusetts Background

In 2005 Massachusetts House Bill 4498 was introduced and passed both the House and Senate.
The bill was condemned for seeking to place conditions on out-of-state wineries that did not exist
for Massachusetts’ wineries. No in-state wineries produced more than the 30,000 gallons, and
they could sell directly to Massachusetts consumers as well as through state wholesalers.

Out-ofstate wineries over the 30,000 gallon cap would not have this option – they would have to either sell directly to consumers or through a Massachusetts wholesaler, if a wholesaler chose to
represent them. Wineries that retained a Massachusetts wholesaler and produced more than
30,000 gallons were prohibited from direct-to-consumer shipping. Governor Mitt Romney vetoed HB 4498 in November 2005 – commenting on its "anti-consumer effect, as well as its dubious constitutionality" – but the veto was overridden. In January 2006, Governor Romney introduced, but failed to pass, a separate bill similar to legislation working successfully in many other states, commenting that “It’s time we end the monopoly that wholesalers have over wine sales…”

Instead of passing the Governor’s new bill, the wholesaler supported HB 4498 became law in 2006. On September 18, 2006, Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins was filed, stating that current Massachusetts law violated the nondiscrimination principle of the Commerce Clause, which prohibits “laws that burden out-of-state producers or shippers simply to give a competitive advantage to in-state businesses.” (U.S. Supreme Court, Granholm v. Heald, May 2005). The case was funded in large part by the Coalition for Free Trade ( with Family Winemakers of California as lead plaintiff.
Massachusetts is the seventh largest wine consumption state in the U.S. (source: Adams Wine
Handbook, 2007, figures from 2006 data). For more information, visit,,
# # #
Media Contact: Jeremy Benson, Free the Grapes! (707) 254-1107

Friday, July 11, 2008

What’s happening?

It has been since March 16th that I posted an entry and a lag of almost 6 months is not typical for me. Unfortunately, life has taken hold and finding the time to blog has not really been the issue, but finding the time to post new and interesting things has.

Seriously how many times can you post the different variations of the same things over and over again without it getting tiring to even yourself?

Since the last post the baby is now over a year old! I have a new job and all that a new job entails. Traveling a lot for work as well to places like Zurich, Amsterdam and even Newark!

Also, I have been training for a few sprint triathlons later this summer including-

Dover Sherborn Boosters Triathlon
FireMan Triathlon

Needless to say it has been a busy summer!

So what about the food posts? Assuming I make something creative (and I have a few ideas) I will be back to make the post. Otherwise look for some new content in the fall when I bust out the slow cooker!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi is one of those dishes I really enjoy but rarely get in restaurants. Along the lines of spaghetti and meatballs, it is a dish best kept simple but people try to make fancy.

The list of ingredients is fairly short and simple:
lemon juice
parmesan cheese
white wine
olive oil

The amounts of this items can vary based upon your taste of even what you have in your kitchen, fresh parsley is a must though. Most people have everything listed above except the shallots and the fresh parsley, so pick some up when you hit the store to get your shrimp.

Speaking of shrimp we actually cheat sometimes and roll with pre-cooked, shelled, de-veined frozen shrimp. I spoke with the fish guys at Whole Foods and they said all their shrimp are frozen when they get them, so aside from what the recipe calls for, the representation was that there is little difference.

One could defrost them in a brine, which always makes shrimp tastier, or even get them raw and brine them but the plan is to put a fresh dish on the table in 30 minutes. When we grill shrimp we always try to make a point of brining them first, it is worth the effort.

To make the scampi, I prep first by mincing up the garlic and shallots

and then sauté them in about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes.

At the same time, I have the pasts boiling and in to cook. Once the garlic and onions are sautéed, I add 1/4 cup of white wine, the juice of half a lemon and then the shrimp. Since the shrimp is already pre-cooked, it is mostly a quick stir or two at this stage. I then remove from heat. Once the pasta is done, I plate the pasta, then spoon the shrimp / sauce over the pasta, finish with some parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Some fresh ground pepper to taste and you are good to go. Serve with some crusty bread and the rest of the white wine and you have a pretty tasty and quick meal. A non-tradition variation to this dish is to add some tomatoes to it. It adds some nice color to the dish as well as a good contrasting flavor.

We now make this about once a week and have served it for company. The only gotcha is that with the pre-cooked shrimp you have to be careful not to overcook it when you incorporate the sauce and the shrimp together.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Give a Cow a Day Off

Roughly a month ago I received a very nice email from Megan telling me about the Ronzoni "Give a Cow a Day Off" campaign in support of the new Ronzoni Smart taste pasta. Smart Taste pasta that contains as much calcium as a glass of milk, and because of that cows can take a day off.

There is a pretty funny web site for the campaign as well as a Youtube clip. Megan was also nice enough to send me a box of Ronzoni pasta and a recipe to give the new stuff a twirl-

Having a soon to be 5 year with a huge hunger for pasta, the appeal of her getting more calcium is very important to us, so I was willing to try it out.

The recipe is simple enough-

Serves: 6

3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt and pepper 1 bag baby spinach leaves, about 4 cups
1 pkg. RONZONI® SMART TASTE™ Thin Spaghetti 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese (approx.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley Toasted pine nuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss the tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Spread the tomatoes on a foil-lined, baking sheet.
2. Roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes or until shriveled and lightly browned. Scrape the tomatoes and juices into a
large bowl. Add the spinach.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions.
4. Toss the pasta with the spinach, roasted tomatoes, Asiago and basil. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts (if using).
Serve with additional cheese on the side.

The only hard part about the recipe is that the smell of the balsamic vinegar drives the sou chef out of the kitchen and I really enjoy having her in there to help me out.

easy to recognize box

the stinky tomatoes roasting away ( I actually like the smell)

the whole combo mid toss

ready to go with a spoon and fork
So the conclusion? I would give both the pasta as well as the recipe two hooves up. Get it! "Give a Cow a Day Off" and two hooves up!!! Stop me now!
Seriously though, the pasta tastes the same which to me is a big deal. We tried the Barilla Whole Grain pasta but gave it up since it never seemed al'dente. The Ronzoni cooked up the same way and had the same feel in the mouth. Seems like a no brainier to me.
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A post about everything

This is a post about the most simple and delicious of things
a cupcake

I could leave it at that and enjoy the vanilla frosting, the multi-color jimmies and the soft chocolate cake but there is much more then just that.

For making these cupcakes was about everything in life that is important. Some sweetness, some delayed gratification (in the waiting for the cupcakes), some instant gratification (in the licking of the spoon), some silliness, a lot of laughing and spending time together putting cup cake mix on our noses.

For these were not just any cupcakes mind you, they were cupcakes that my 4 1/2 year old made with my wife and I. The cupcake baking kit was a present from one of our close friends who absolutely adores both of the girls. She also knows that every tooth in our 4 1/2 year olds mouth is a sweet tooth.

I have a lot of memories about my mother and most of then involve food and the kitchen. When I was sick, there was always a hot bowl of matzoth brei ready and when I could not keep that down a bowl of white rice. I remember the half a loaf of bread she used to make grilled cheese sandwiches after football practice freshman year and I remember that her matzoth balls were always soft and never rock hard.

I also remember my father making fresh apple sauce with my mom and my sister and I sneaking spoonfuls of the still hot sauces out of the pot. I also know that for the life of me I still manage to screw up omelets, while my father made such crazy ones as a banana and jelly omelet.

I cook because I enjoy it, I also cook because it keeps me connected to who I was as well as who I am. I get untold pleasure in being able to share that connection with our girls.

(setting the cups in just right)

(mom (as always) providing gentle guidance)

(one bit for the cupcake, one bit for me)

Some day years from now our children will be making cupcakes with their children. They will say, I used to make these with your grandparents when I was your age and that would be the sweetest thing of all.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The RWT Chili Cookoff - The Roundup!

A thanks to running with tweezers for the RWT Chili Cookoff! For those of you who are new to Sauces and Stuff a very hearty welcome and to everyone else welcome back. There are some excellent and varied recipes for chili on RWT so make sure to take a look!

And click on the tasty bowl of chili for my entry for the Chili Cookoff and if you are interested, send me an email and I would be happy to mail out a sample of my homemade chili seasoning.

Put a steak in it

Unless you have a great relationship with the local butcher or want to pay through the nose for something like a whole tenderloin roast from Lobel's, purchasing a tenderloin and doing the trimming yourself is the best option.

I have seen Alton Brown go to Costco and trim up the huge tenderloins but that is overkill for what we needed. I went down to the local Stop and Shop and purchased 6 pounds of tenderloin. If you are a fan of Cook's Illustrated, you will know that in their taste tests, the Stop and Shop tenderloin beat out all the local as well as national brands including Lobel's and Niman Ranch. The only downside (or upside from my perspective) is that you need to trim it up yourself.

Trimming your own tenderloin has many advantages; 1) you only pay for what you need 2) you can make sure it is trimmed correctly and 3) you can tie the tenderloin up in different thicknesses to facilitate better temperature per your guests liking. Tie one end thinner and it will cook faster then the thicker end and 4) it looks nicer and takes little time.

Most butchers can trim a tenderloin fine but in a grocery store they won't go the extra and needed step of removing the silver from the tenderloin. What they usually do is trim the outside and then tie the silver sides against each other. The tenderloin looks pretty but it has that tough fibrous section running through it. Removing the silver is an important step in prepping the tenderloin and should not be skipped at all. if you do not know how to trim a tenderloin it is pretty simple to do, but I won't walk you through all the steps here.

Basically you need a few things; 1) a wicked sharp fillet knife 2) paper towels 3) butcher twine. Trim away any of the fat you do not like, make sure you flip the meat around and hunt out all the little bits. Remember that you are paying a lot for this beef and just trim away the fat only. When it comes to the silver you should see a silver band that runs down the back.

Because my hands were pretty gross at this point I did not take a photo but I found this one on the web. The method that I use is to use my knife to pull up one section then hold the meat with one paper towel and hold the tip of the silver with another paper towel. This way I can pull the silver right off the tenderloin with out using the knife. Also, I would never use a knife on a metal surface. They should of put a cutting board inside the sheet rather then cutting on the metal.

(above photo stolen from internet)

When you are done trimming you are left with a mess of beef that you need to assemble into something presentable.

You can see from the various shapes that there is a natural sort of Lego fit to everything.

When you place it all together and tie it up the tenderloin takes on that familiar look. I purposefully left one side a bit thinner as my father enjoys a more well done piece of tenderloin.

I sprayed the tenderloin with Pam and then generously rubbed with fresh ground peeper and salt. I wrapped the tenderloin up in plastic wrap and rolled it to make sure it was all evenly covered. This went into a pre-heated oven at 375 for about 25 minutes or until the thickest part reached 120 degrees internally.

The above shot is after resting for 10 minutes and the shot below is after about 15. The inside sections were nice and red with some of the thinner sections a nice pink hue.

Trimming you own tenderloin is a useful skill and makes for great presentation.

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Monday, December 17, 2007


I am a pretty big fan of leftovers. If it was good the first time, it has to be good the second time around right? Chili is an excellent left over meal and when I saw the RWT Chili Cook-Off, I dug through my previous posts and sent in my chili post.

What is the RWT Chili Cook-off?

The RWT Chili Cook-off!

follow the directions:
  • The RWT Chili Cook-Off will start on December 5th and go through December 31st. In that time, post your favorite chili recipe to your blog.
  • There are no rules. I encourage all sorts of recipes and ingredients. They don't all have to have ground beef in it! Add pork, veggies, sausage, beans, chicken...let your imagination go wild.
  • After the closure of the challenge, a winner will be chosen (i haven't decided if this is going to be a democracy or not) and awarded a food-related prize!
  • Send your cook-off submissions to Include in your email: your name, your blog name, your location, the permalink to your post, and your recipe name.
  • Good luck!
So here is the link from earlier this year, Chilly Willy, it is a bit more then a chili recipe as it includes my home made chili spice mix as well as homemade cheddar cheese biscuits.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


A while back I asked people's opinion on the ads in my blog. The feedback was mixed though pretty consistent. Folks that had ads on their blog liked them and folks that did not, did not like them.

Even so, there are a variety of ways for people to monetize traffic to their blog. One of the blogs I read, C for Cooking, has a Amazon page where referrals are paid if you purchase items through his page.

So as an early New year's resolution, I am going to make a concerted effort to click through on all the ads on the blogs I read. Some of the blogs that I really enjoy have no ads at all such as Culinary Types and Stephencooks and others such as Food Blogga and WhiteTrash BBQ have a few tastefully placed ads. Just go over to the right and select from the blogs that I have listed.

The point of is that the food blogging community is fairly small. Regardless of your position on blog ads, it makes sense to support those of us who do choose to place them on our blog.

If you feel so inclined, the best way to do so on Sauces and Stuff is to use the google search window that is at the top of the page.

Just enter what you are looking for into the search, the same way you would do in Google and click on any of the four ad links that are shown!

Thank you all for your support!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A whole lot of stuff

As my friend Rob pointed out a while back for a blog named Sauces and Stuff there is very little sauce and a whole lot of stuff. I did point out that the blog is names Sauces and Stuff, not Just Sauce so there is a little wiggle room here.

Rather then post the same ol, oh I made a turkey for Thanksgiving photos, I figured I would follow-up with a very simple salad dressing. Is that sauce enough for you Rob?

When most people think of Italian in Boston, they think of the North End. The North End, ain't what she used to be. For the most part the food is still very good but most of the smaller mom and pop restaurants have been replaced by more of the regional commercial type of restaurants. That combined with the lack of parking and waiting in line for a marginal meal makes the trip not worth the effort.

If I am in the area, the one exception I will always make is to stop by Bova Bakery . Bova is open every day 24 hours a day and serves fantastic pizza and calzones until 1:00 am.

For Southern Italian food one of the best restaurants I believe is Carlo's Cucina Italiana in Allston, MA. The food is fantastic, the prices are more then reasonable and the Stracciatella Alla Romana soup is to die for.

The house salad they serve is sinfully simple. Greens, thinly sliced carrots, olives, red onions and a simple dressing.

The dressing is easily made at home by combining, one part lemon juice to 5 parts light olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.

The dressing has a very simple flavor to it and it is best served by dressing the bowl and then adding the greens to it.

The final thing that makes this dressing so great is that pretty much at any time most folks have a lemon, olive oil and some red wine vinegar in their house. Try it tonight!