Rib-off 2011

August 1, 2011

The 3rd annual rib-off competition was the best one yet! Last year we were a bit crowded in the house, so we decided to have the rib off in conjunction with our neighborhood block party. Our friends C & S live on the street next to ours so we did it in front of their house. Thanks guys!

My friend Kelli of Shindig Events handled the setup/signage/decorations etc… since she has started her own event planning business. She even set up a photo staging area for everyone complete with props. Cute! It was a huge help.  A major highlight was the Street Treats truck arriving in time to serve us dessert. My sweet tooth did not object. The ice cream sandwiches were perfect on a hot summer day.

Did I mention I won…again? I mean, it’s not big deal, but I’m sure you were wondering. Here is this years recipe.

Check out the pics:

Hydration station

Block party hydration station

Snacks

Snacks n' such

Adult Bevies

The Adult hydration station complete with Keg of PBR and Mexi Cokes

Ballard block party

Enjoying the sun

Ballard block party

Food Table & Kids table complete with kid stuff...

Street Treats Truck

Street Treats dessert truck! Of course I was in line...

Rib-off Ballot

The very official Rib-off Ballot

Announcing the winner

Announcing the winner... me!

Sean & I

You're looking at the winner and her trusty sidekick...

hori hori dig dig!

Getting started

June 12, 2011

I finally got around to planting a few things at the Ballard P-patch this weekend. I have to admit I’m a little intimidated trying to grow new veggies. I don’t want to spend a ton of money and then somehow kill all the plants. I went to Swanson’s and decided I’d plant 1/2 the plot with flowers and decorative plants and the other 1/2 with edibles.

My favorite flowers are: Peony, Tulips and Lilies. I looked all over for a nice deep red, or peach colored peony, but all they had were white and pink. I went with a light pink color. The bees were all over it.

Ballard P-patch Peony

My Peony

Koda

My lazy companion. He didn't even offer to help.

Balalrd P-patch plot

Getting started on my plot

Balalrd P-patch plot

Lemon cucumber, tomato, chives and bush beans...

I loved the lemon cucumbers we grew on the deck last year. I like how full the plant gets. They are easy to grow and they make me feel somewhat successful as a novice gardener!

I’m going to plant some peppers and maybe some arugula as well. Stay tuned…

hori hori dig dig!

Redecorating

May 30, 2011

I’ve been pondering redecorating the bedroom for a while, but didn’t have any solid ideas. I bought some beautiful pendant lights from Anthro a while ago and it’s been a chore to try to figure out how to hang them as bedside lights. I also wanted to do something with the plain wall behind the bed. We looked at wallpaper and found some cool large prints, but when I brought them home to see what they would look like, none of them inspired me. Then we went to The Book Bindery restaurant. The ceiling of the restaurant was recycled lath mixed with newer lath. It was beautiful. It would provide the texture and warmth I was looking for, but also would add a modern twist. Check it out:

Bedroom before

Before

Our friends M & E recently introduced us to their carpenter who, by the way, does WAY more than just carpentry. He is an all around problem solver and our new favorite person. Patrick Egan of Artisan Carpentry did an amazing job with our newly installed lath wall, and custom recycled steel light fixtures that are not only cool, but height adjustable. He has a ‘metal guy’ that built these and they are exactly what we envisioned. I love, love, love how it turned out. Patrick finished this in 3.5 days. He was precise and very thoughtful about the process.

Recycled lath wall

After the lath installation

I had gone to happy hour with some girlfriends the night he finished the lath, and when I got home I may or may not have drunk dialed (well, buzzed) him while jumping up and down clapping.

Bedroom adjustable bedside pendant lights

Custom recycled steel light fixtures and Anthro lights

Lath wall as decoration in Bedroom

Love!

It feels so much cozier upstairs. Now I just need to work on getting the chair of my dreams for the corner. I may need to wait until I win the lottery.

hori hori dig dig!

Woot! We finally finished the traffic circle planting project today. It looks fabulous! We met so many of our neighbors as they drove or walked by and thanked us for our hard work. One lady even told us we were going to heaven for cleaning up the neighborhood. Nice.

Ballard Traffic Circle Before

Before

Ballard Traffic Circle After

After

Ballard Traffic Circle in progress

Planting

We planted Yucca, Oat Grass, Bowles Wallflower, Point Reyes Ceanothus, a few Poppies and a few Echinacea.

Ballard Traffic Circle Plants

A trip to Swanson's Nursery

Ballard Traffic Circle Plan

The Plans

Oh, and we found this while digging: someone’s pet hamster remains. For a second I thought we found someone’s dope stash. We promptly reburied it. J is for Jumper the hamster who apparently died in November of 2009. RIP Jumper.

Hamster remains in the traffic circle

Someone's pet hamster remains...

At the end of the project, I spent the Seattle Small Sparks funds from the city ($599) and only $40 out of pocket. It looks great and I am so glad it’s done. A big thank you to Sean for helping me get this done. Also, to my brother and sister-in-law for pulling out juniper roots with their truck.

Now it’s time to move onto my p-patch plot!

hori hori dig dig!

I have been on the wait list for over 3 years for a plot in a local p-patch. I was on 3 lists actually (the max allowed) with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Recently I was contacted by the city to see if I was still interested in a plot at the Ballard P-patch. I don’t think the volunteer appreciated how excited I was. I think she wanted me to stop clapping.

Anyway, I met the garden site coordinator, Roy, who showed me my plot and gave me the rundown on volunteering at the site. My plot is 10′ x 10′ at the edge of the garden. I love the this p-patch because it is off the street and has a large parking lot, so it is relatively quiet compared to some of the p-patches in the city. Check it out:

Ballard P-patch plot

My plot at the edge of the garden

Ballard P-patch plot

A blank slate...

Ballard P-patch

The Ballard P-patch site

The garden also has quite a few plots dedicated to grow food for the Ballard Food Bank. Each Tuesday is a Growing for Giving volunteer night. I like that.

I haven’t decided what to plant here yet. I think I’d like to do a mix of flowers and edibles. Stay tuned…

hori hori dig dig!

My friend S recently raved about The Book Bindery restaurant. I finally got a chance to go for dinner with some friends last night. Seldom do I have a meal with friends where everyone cleans their plate. The food was delicious and the flavors fresh and subtle. I don’t usually get caught up with the presentation (unless it looks like dog food), as long as the food is spot on. Each dish was beautiful.

Chef Shaun McCrain worked for Thomas Keller in a previous life at Per Se in NYC. The design and layout was the brainchild of Patric Gabre-Kidan, the former business parter of Ethan Stowell here in Seattle.

The Book Bindery Restaurant Seattle

The Book Bindery

The Book BIndery Restaurant Seattle Ship Canal

Our Table overlooking the Ship Canal

The Book Bindery Restaurant Kitchen

The Kitchen

The Book Bindery Restaurant Menu

The Menu

The Book Bindery Restaurant

Farro Quinoa Salad with Mint and Cucumber

The Book Bindery Restaurant Pork Loin

Pork Chop/Belly with Kale and White Bean Puree

Oh yeah and we order all 4 desserts on the menu (to share of course!)

Dessert at the Book BIndery Restaurant

Churros with Pot de Creme, Coconut Rice Cakes with Grapefruit Granita

Dessert at the Book Bindery Restaurant

Frozen Butterscotch Parfait with Rice Krispies and Gingersnap

So, I’ve found a new restaurant to add to my top 5 in Seattle. The space was gorgeous. The service was impeccable (with the exception of not offering coffee with dessert… this is Seattle after all).

Oh, and to top it all off, the Book Bindery has a partnership with Almquist Family Vitners, and there is a tasting room next to the restaurant.

Almquist Family Vitners The Book Bindery

Almquist Family Vitners Tasting Room

So my top 5 favorite Seattle restaurants are:

Franks Oysterhouse & Champagne Parlor, Bizarro Italian Cafe, Walrus & Carpenter, Cafe Presse and The Book Bindery.

hori hori dig dig!

Nerd alert: I am totally geeking out on this traffic circle. I love it. I feel more connected with my neighbors and I finally have a little patch of dirt to play in. It has been a work in progress and isn’t even close to being finished, but I wanted to share my progress. I’ve been working with the city and I am the official volunteer of the traffic circle at 28th/59th street. I hope they send me a badge. I applied for a Small Sparks award through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to get up to $600 from the city to beautify my TC. I am waiting to hear back from them. Take a look at the before shot:

Ballard Traffic Circle

Before

These are 30-year-old juniper shrubs with a smattering of weeds, leaves and a few pretty flowers. We decided to take out all of the juniper. I didn’t realize what a gigantic pain in the ass that would be. The first day of cleanup we only got 1/2 the job done and filled 10 yard bags full of debris.

Ballard Traffic Circle Cleanup

Day 1 Cleanup

Ballard Traffic Circle Cleanup

Day 2 Cleanup

Treasures found while cleaning out the TC: 3 full cans of Miller High Life that were a bit old, multiple doggie tennis balls, some airline size alcohol bottles (empty), and a little 1 hit hash pipe. Who says it doesn’t pay to volunteer?!

We cut the junipers down to the root, and my next challenge is to find someone to remove them. There are about 6 large roots to be removed. I think it requires a truck and chains. I don’t think the Prius or Subaru will do the job. Although I’m sure it would be fun to watch.

Ballard Traffic Circle Cleanup

Juniper Roots

Once I find out about the city funds for the plants, I can go shopping! Stay tuned…

hori hori dig dig!

Montana Road Trip

March 29, 2011

We took a short trip to Montana this past week to catch up with some college friends. My best friend from college and her husband just had a baby 4 months ago and I had to meet her. Ellie is adorable, and has the chubbiest little legs and feet you’ve ever seen. Wait… before I start gushing let me back up. It all started in Whitefish, MT which is about a 9 hour drive from Seattle. Sean’s college buddy Jason is a chef at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake. We stayed there for a few nights to see him and have some amazing food. He is super talented and loves to cook as much as I love to eat. I love these visits. We arrived at the lodge just in time for dinner and J started sending us plates of food. Mushroom soup/bruschetta with goat cheese, his famous ribs that inspired my Polynesian rib off recipe for 2010, Amazing Salmon sashimi and more.  It was so good. Check it out:

Mushroom soup and Bruschetta with Goat Cheese

M'mmmm mushrooms

Ribs

The rib recipe inspiration for Rib Off 2010

Whitefish, MT

A beautiful day for a hike with J's dogs

J's dogs on a short hike

It was great to see Jason and spend some time in Whitefish. The lodge is beautiful, and the town is really quaint. Next stop Seeley Lake, MT.

N + T= Ellie and let me tell you she is the happiest baby I’ve ever met. She was a little unsure of me at first, but once she warmed up to me (and discovered that I would let her chew on my fingers), I was done for. I didn’t want to put her down. It is so amazing to see one of your friends become a first time parent. I am so proud of them. They made it look so easy. Ellie is a lucky girl. I am looking forward to our next visit.  Check out these chubby little baby legs!!!

E standing up

Little E in her PJ's

Num Num Num

Nibbling on my finger

OH… and take a look at these amazing photographs by Adele Enersen. N & T showed us these pictures on our visit with them. Adele is from Helsinki, Finland. She takes these photographs while her daughter Mila naps. So creative!

It was a great trip and we had so much fun catching up with friends. We got back just in time for a dinner party with a group of friends at the Corson Building. Post coming soon…

hori hori dig dig!

I met a girlfriend for mani/pedi’s last weekend and we walked around the Ballard Farmer’s Market afterward. It was a beautiful sunny day here in Seattle. Spring is (or was) in the air. It is cold (we’ve had snow the past few days); but seeing tulips and daffodils at the Market gives me hope that Spring is on the way. This is what we wade through 8 months of cold/rain for. Spring and Summer in the PNW is glorious. I am really looking forward to it.

Ballard Farmers Market Tulips

Ballard Farmers Market

Honoring my Dutch roots with Tulips

Tulips at the Market

Tulips at the Ballard Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hori hori dig dig!

Crafting a Jewelry Board

January 9, 2011

This has been driving me crazy. There is a little nook between the bathroom and the closet with a built-in dresser. Take a look at what was my less than organized clutter of nail polish, makeup, jewelry and other miscellaneous girl business. I wanted to find a way to organize my jewelry so it was easy to find.

less than organized

a hot mess

My friend M turned me on to ReadyMade magazine . L.O.V.E! In a recent issue I saw an article featuring a jewelry designer who had hung her jewelry on a vertical surface covered in burlap. I liked the look of it and wanted to recreate it in my nook. Then, while shopping at Anthro, I saw the bin of knobs/hooks/drawer pulls and decided to use those to hang my earrings and necklaces from the board. I love these:

Anthropologie knobs and drawer pulls

Anthropologie knobs and drawer pulls

I went to the local lumber store to start the project. 15 minutes later I had the plywood I needed cut to size and my hardware threads cut down by an inch. One of the lumber guys even carried my 15″ x 25″ plywood piece to my car. It doesn’t weigh more than 2 pounds total.  Cute. Total charge for the board: $6.95. Nice.

I laid out the knobs and drawer pulls where I wanted them, then drilled the holes. I bought some batting at JoAnn Fabric, and a thin rubber doormat at Home Depot to glue on top of the board. If I need to pin additional pieces on the board later I wanted to have a substantial backing so the pins would hold.

Asssembling the Jewelry Board

Laying it out

Side note: staple guns are fun. I bought one for this project.

Stapling the Burlap to the Jewelry Board

Attaching the burlap

The finished product:

The final jewelry board

My jewelry board!

The final jewelry board on the wall and a new mirror.  I love it. It always feels better to clean things up. Happy New Year to me! Now if I can just keep it clean…

The finished jewelry board

That's better...

jewelry board and Velocity design ceramic organizer

Jewelry board and Velocity ceramic organizer

Earrings organized on drawer pulls

Earrings on drawer pulls

hori hori dig dig!

Oh for pete’s sake… yes, I am writing about Thanksgiving, because I can’t write about Christmas until I’ve covered Thanksgiving. It was so fun! Since living in Seattle my girlfriends and I have gotten together for Orphan’s Thanksgiving almost every year and we gather a group of people who don’t have other plans. Sean and I hosted this year and had 14 guests. Everyone brought a favorite holiday dish and somehow (my memory is a bit fuzzy here) we ended up with more wine than we started with. It pays to host the party! My favorite dish: cheesy onions. Do you want to know what’s in it? No, you don’t. Really. Trust me though, its delicious.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about Thanksgiving. The most important lesson has been to always make the “stick it” rolls ahead of time. It takes an entire day to make these rolls, but they’re a special treat once a year. Especially when you get to dip them in cheesy onions. The other lesson is to drink wine while cooking. That way you don’t get too stressed about having enough food or whether or not it will all turn out.

My friend Kelli came early and decorated the tables. She also put together this cute menu. We had a great time and I am very thankful for my friends. The evening ended with The Go-go’s channel streaming on Pandora and a spontaneous dance party in the kitchen. Totally normal.

Thanksgiving Menu by Kelli

Cranberry, Pear & Ginger Relish

Sean's Turkey

Bevy Bar

Thanksgiving Table dressed by Kelli

The famous homemade "stick it" rolls

Apple tart, pear tart, pumpkin bourbon cheesecake, pumpkin spice cake

Giving Thanks around the Table a la Kelli

The gang

The buffet

Cheers!

I was told to look somber like a proper pilgrim...

Post dinner dance party in the kitchen

Sheesh… it is about time I posted my San Juan Island blog post! 

Before the end of Summer Sean and I decided to explore the San Juan Islands. Sean’s parents were kind enough to let us borrow their boat for the week. His Dad took us out the week before to show us how to use the GPS/Depth Finder and other misc… man gadgets. We reviewed the maps and planned the ports we wanted to stay in. The next week we left from the marina in La Conner and made our way north. We slept onboard in a different port each night. Most days we had picnic lunches while buoyed off an island near the border between the Canadian Gulf Islands and the U.S. San Juan Islands. We took naps in the sun, read and sat on the dock overlooking the islands with a bottle of wine and a blanket. It was perfect.

I was the navigator (and driver depending on the day). I did not, however, dock the boat. Ever. I’m scared of accidentally hitting the throttle the wrong direction! My other duty was to continuously yell “I’m on a boat!” It never got old, at least for me.

Me at the helm

Check out all of my photos here.

Here is our itinerary:

Day 1) La Conner to Deer Harbor (Orcas Island)

I didn’t realize how close the islands were together. It took less than 2 hours to get out to Deer Harbor from La Conner. This ended up being one of our favorite stops. We walked 1/4 mile up the road from the marina to have dinner at the Deer Harbor Restaurant overlooking the harbor. It was beautiful. They also had a latte stand. Enough said.

Day 2) Deer Harbor (Orcas Island) to Stuart Island for lunch and a hike then to Snug Harbor (San Juan Island)

We left Deer Harbor after a lazy morning and a breaky sandwich from the marina store and headed to Stuart Island for lunch and a hike. There is a state marine park on Stuart Island in Reid Harbor and from there you can hike 2.5 miles to past the old schoolhouse to Turn Point lookout. Stuart is the westernmost island in San Juans. We weren’t really prepared for hiking. We both wore flip-flops. It was a pretty hilly hike actually, but the payoff was an amazing view at the Turn Point lighthouse. Oh, and then there was the seal that looked up at me with a salmon in his mouth just as I looked over the cliff. So cool! We left Stuart late in the afternoon and headed to Roche Harbor & Snug Harbor. Roche was beautiful and they had a few restaurants so we stayed for dinner before heading to Snug Harbor to sleep. We got to Snug Harbor and it was tiny. There is only 1 shower/bathroom and it wasn’t very nice. Okay, it was pretty gross. Snug was my least favorite marina, but the harbor was pretty.

Seal with a Salmon at Turn Point Lighthouse. So cute!

View into Canada from Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island

Day 3) Snug Harbor/Roche Harbor (San Juan Island) to Sucia Island for lunch then to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island)

We woke up in Snug and decided to head back to Roche Harbor for breakfast and showers. Every marina we stayed at (with the exception of Snug) had pay showers. Most of them were $1 for about 5 minutes.  Roche had cute stores, a few bocce ball courts, and the old Lime Mines. We went up to Sucia Island for lunch and decided to tie off to a buoy in Ewing Cove. It was gorgeous. Sucia is one of the northernmost islands in the San Juans, just a little southeast of Patos Island. After lunch we headed to Friday Harbor for the night. We got there in time for a cocktail before dinner and then we walked around the town. We asked a local about a great place for dinner with locally grown/organic ingredients. They told us about Backdoor kitchen. We walked around the property, which is off the beaten track and it was beautiful. The menu looked amazing, but they were closed, unfortunately, so we couldn’t try it. Next time! If you go, you’ll have to tell me how it is.

Roche Harbor

Sean in Friday Harbor

Day 4) Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) to Jones Island for lunch then to West Sound (Orcas Island)

Friday Harbor was beautiful, but I was excited to head out to Jones Island to relax and have some lunch. Jones Island was my favorite lunch spot. We tied up to a buoy in the bay and took a nap in the sun. There is something about sleeping on a boat. It is like getting rocked to sleep. We watched a group of Kayakers explore the island and noticed lots of jellyfish coming in with high tide. When the sun started to head toward evening we got on our way to West Sound. West Sound is another small marina like Deer Harbor. We had an amazing dinner overlooking the harbor just up the street at The Kingfish Inn. There isn’t much to do in West Sound, so we set up our camping chairs at the end of our dock, grabbed a few blankets, opened a bottle of wine and watched the sun set. Awesome.

View from the Kingfish Restaurant

Day 5) West Sound (Orcas Island) to Rosario Resort/Spa (Orcas Island)

The morning was cold and cloudy. West Sound, while it was my favorite stop, did not have coffee. So needless to say we left pretty early and headed to Rosario Resort. I’d driven by Rosario when I first moved to Seattle. I went camping in Moran State Park. From Mt. Constitution lookout you can see all of the surrounding islands. It is breathtaking. Rosario Resort has changed hands a time or two since then. The restaurant at Rosario is called the Quilted Pig. The food was pretty good, but the view was the best part of the meal. Most of the ports you pay about $1/foot for moorage at the marina and then pay to use the showers. At Rosario you pay per foot for moorage and then $20 or so to use the property. We were able to use the spa pool and hot tub, or either of the outdoor pools and any of the showers. The facilities were by far the best. Since it was cold, we spent most of the afternoon in the lodge in front of the fireplace reading our books on large comfy couches. I know I keep saying this, but it was so relaxing.

Spa pool at Rosario

Day 6) Rosario Resort/Spa (Orcas Island) to Olga (Orcas Island) then home to La Conner

We woke up in Rosario and I was so sore from sleeping in a cramped space. I told Sean I didn’t think I could sleep on the boat for another night. We had already gone to all the ports on our list, so we decided to head home a day early. On our way back we stopped at Olga. Olga is so flippin’ cute. Not only is long dock into the bay picturesque with starfish in the water and an amazing view of the islands, but the tiny little town is super charming. The store right in town at the top of the dock has closed, but if you walk down the road a bit the Olga store/cafe’ is still open. They sell a large variety of arts/crafts from local artists and have a nice cafe’. Walking back to the dock I didn’t want to leave to go home. It was really pretty and peaceful. When we got back to La Conner, we had fresh crab for dinner with Sean’s parents in Anacortes. Yum.

View from dock in Olga

Fresh crab for dinner in Anacortes

It was a fantastic trip. Next summer, we want to explore the Canadian Gulf Islands, north of the San Juans. I can’t wait.

hori hori dig dig!

I was feeling like a hearty Fall dish tonight. I stumbled across a recipe for Vegetable “Bolognese” and was excited to use fresh veggies. You don’t even miss the meat. Put carrots, red pepper, shallots and celery in a Cuisinart and pulse. Then throw it in the pan with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Saute until cooked through and then add chopped fresh mushrooms (I didn’t want to bother with dried Porcini mushrooms so I used fresh chanterelle), red wine and a little tomato paste. Mix in the Pappardelle noodles and throw a little Parmigiano-Reggiano and you’re done. Yum. I’ll have leftovers for a few days!

The light in the sky is changing and there is a slight chill in the air. I like to call it pre-Fall. Since we had such a late start to Summer, I feel weird admitting that I am excited for the change of season. Growing up in Michigan I experienced 4 very distinct seasons. Here in Seattle we have basically 2 seasons and the cold/grey season is the longest. So why am I feeling just a little excited?! Maybe because I get to pull my Hunter boots out of the closet. And my basket of scarves. I love them.

It’s been a while since my last garden update. I am happy to report nothing has died! In fact it seems that the plants are quite happy right where they are getting loads of sunshine and plenty of water.

I’ll hopefully get to make a few jars of pasta sauce with the tomatoes. I usually make a chunky tomato sauce with loads of garlic, shallots and white wine. The Cucumbers are basically just a method of transportation for hummus. I also like them in salad. If we get enough of them, I may try my hand at pickling. Finding a pickling recipe for Lemon Cucumbers has been tough. I may just try a few recipes and see what works best. Brussels Sprouts just seem like a Fall dish. Sautéed with onion and sometimes a little bacon. Just for fun. They are comfort food. I didn’t realize I liked them until 4 or 5 years ago when I was living in Portland and made them as a side dish for Thanksgiving. I don’t remember having them often growing up in Michigan, or maybe like most kids, I turned up my nose when they made an appearance. I’m a big fan now.

It has been amazing to watch the tomatoes. I can’t believe how quickly they grow! This is a Speckled Roman variety tomato plant, and while it looks a little worse for wear, it seems happy and the tomatoes are getting bigger by the day. They look a bit like swollen peppers.

The Lemon Cucumber plant is my favorite. I love how it filled out and is creeping slowly and looking for a place to climb. The flowers that become the cucumber are pretty and it’s fun to watch the transformation.

The other morning while watering the plants I thought this little guy was getting trapped between the pot and vine, so I tried to move it gently but it came off. I think it is a little young yet, but I may try it this afternoon with some hummus. M’mmmm…

The Brussels! I started with 4 plants and 1 was losing the battle so I pulled it from the pot. I think this pot is a little small for 3, but we’ll see what happens. I have to do some research on how to maintain these as the sprouts grow. They are forming veeeerrrryyyy slowly in the armpit of each stem/leaf, but I heard somewhere that you have to snap off the bottom leaf to promote growth. I’m not convinced that I didn’t dream that, so I want to be sure. If you have advice I’d love to hear it!

Now I feel a bit more confident with my gardening skills. I’ve heard a rumor we might get a new P-Patch in Ballard, so I have to try to get my name on the list for a plot. Stay tuned…

We just got back from our San Juan boating trip. I’ll share the details soon. It was so relaxing.

hori hori dig dig!

I love Boat Street Cafe. It is definitely in my top 5 restaurants here in Seattle. Owner, Renee Erickson just opened a new restaurant, The Walrus and Carpenter in Ballard at the industrial end of the strip. The Kolstrand Building was an old marine supply company that now houses a bike shop, several restaurants and a few other small businesses. The Walrus and Carpenter space is just as quaint and French kitchen-like as Boat Street, but it’s in my neighborhood. We went in the week it opened to check out the menu and have a few bevies. I love the decor, the subway tile, the Oyster Bar, the jars of preserves, the yellow stools, the old wood floors, the chandelier, the outdoor seating… you get it.

Oyster Bar!

A nice variety of veggie, meat and seafood options. Each dish we tried we loved. I thought the olives in the Salad Nicoise were grapes for some reason and bit into one. I’m not a fan of olives. No matter how hard I try, I just don’t like them. I can’t help but think of Mad Men when I see the Utz potato chips on the menu. Remember the hallway scene with the Utz actor’s wife/agent and Don Draper?

Salad Nicoise.

Pork Crepinette.

Chevre and Ballard Honey. A perfect pair.

I dig the cocktail menu!

The Porch Swing. Yum. My friend Kelli will be pleased. She makes a mean Pimms cocktail as well.

Here’s the thing, if I could decorate my house to look like a store I love it would be Anthropologie. If I could have any kitchen I wanted it would look like one of Renee Erickson’s restaurants. It’s simple, clean and fun. I know it will be a success and hopefully I’ll still be able to get in from time to time. The space if beautiful and rustic. The Dutch Bike Co. moved in up front and Ethan Stowell (of Union, Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf and Anchovies & Olives), just opened Staple & Fancy in the same building. I’m excited to try that as well.

I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. I love Ballard.

hori hori dig dig!

After Rib-off, I didn’t want to see a rib for a while, or any other meat product for that matter. So I’ve been trying a few new veggie dishes. I want to enjoy the summer produce before it’s gone. This dish is delicious. Asparagus, peas, sugar snaps, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, vegetable broth and Israeli Couscous. Add a little parmesan and you’re done. I found this recipe on Epicurious. We loved it so much I’ve made it again this week. I took leftovers on my hike up to the top of Mt. Si and had it for lunch.

A view from the top of Mt. Si. It was such a clear day we could see Mt. Rainier perfectly (on the right by the tallest tree; it kinda looks like a cloud)!

The weather has been amazing in Seattle the past few weeks. I can only hope we get an extended Summer before the clouds of winter set in. For now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy.

hori hori dig dig!

2010 Summer Rib-off

August 13, 2010

It all started last year when Sean’s brother Hugh said he made the best ribs. He was probably right, considering I’d only made ribs once before in my life. I don’t know why it kick-started my competitive spirit, but it did. Of course it also meant I got to throw a party and I can find any excuse to throw a party. In 2009 Hugh and I were the only rib entrants and if you ask Hugh, he’d tell you that he won, though I had a friend design the ballots. Some may call it cheating; I just had a competitive advantage. A graphic designer friend with great skill in font sizes and terms and conditions. If you read the fine print, I won no matter what. Even if you were sleep-voting while under the influence of Ambien. It covered everything.

This year I planned 3 months in advance. We had 5 competitors and over 50 guests (and a dog that, strangely enough, wasn’t interested in ribs). There were pineapple glazed ribs, Kansas city ribs, rosemary cumin ribs, Polynesian style ribs (my entry), and smoked ribs. They were all delicious. This isn’t the food network, so we don’t exactly get into the intricate details of ribs (whose were the most tender, most flavorful, had the perfect sear etc…). We mainly just vote on whose we liked the best overall.

My marinade ingredients.

Me hard at work while E, a rib competitor, waits for his turn at the grill.

M’mmmmm… Let’s take a moment to thank all the piggies that gave their lives for this meal. Not a single one went to waste. Delicious.

We had over 50 people show up this year. The house was packed. My friend Justin made a mystery flavored homemade ice cream. It was like vanilla but I couldn’t quite figure out what that other sweet flavor was. CORN! It sounds strange, but it was mild and slightly sweet. A perfect flavor for a rib-off. He also made baked beans that were out of this world.

M & E’s rib entry. Sooooo good. These fun fashionista’s recently started the Scandinavian Mod brand Sur Flicka. Check it!

There was tons of great food, beer/wine and of course ribs. I loved having so many of our close friends (and some complete strangers) together. It was nice to meet new people. I invited Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton too, but they were unavailable. Matthew sent me a nice email back to thank me for the invite. Sweet, right?!

Sean’s brother Hugh, after spilling a platter of ribs on the deck.

So, 2011 rib-off. I’ve already checked and I can get a “special event” permit with the city to close down the street. It is a little spendy and there is that pesky proof of insurance thing, but it could be the best way to go if the party keeps getting bigger. We can line up the grills and kegs and everyone can bring a chair and a dish to pass. Thankfully there is plenty of time to prepare.

hori hori dig dig!

You’ve heard me talk about Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island before. They sell meat, milk, cheese, butter and wine at my local farmer’s market each weekend. I love these guys. Nearly everything they serve in their restaurant on the island is raised and harvested from the farm. I finally made it to the island last weekend to their restaurant La Boucherie. It did not disappoint. It’s part butcher shop, part restaurant and all kinds of fresh and delicious! I was in foodie heaven.

We arrived earlier in the day hoping for a farm tour, but because of the Strawberry Festival on Vashon (which, oddly, didn’t have any strawberries) the ferry delay was too long and we missed out. Here are some pics of the restaurant/butcher shop.

We had the 3 course prix fixe dinner and started with the Pork Rillettes (confit pork belly) with mustard and bread. Need I say more? I love pork…

This is the main course. Campagne sausage with cherries, kale and farro. It was so delicious!

We bought the Boudin Blanc sausages from La Boucherie before we left that night, and recreated the sausage dish at home. Kale, farro, cherries and sausages. Oh, and a bottle of red. Stick it! It turned out beautifully (although my farro was a bit undercooked).

We are really lucky that food raised humanely, organically and in a sustainable fashion is easy to find here in Seattle. I love food, wine and sharing it with friends and family. I could die happy tomorrow as long as I have that.

hori hori dig dig!

The adventure continues. It has been a month and half since I bought my veggie starts and all of the edibles have been potted and are happily enjoying the rain and sun on the deck. The tomato plant has done well, but it isn’t growing as fast as I thought it would. At this rate I might get a few tomatoes in September!  Patience has never been one of my strong suits.

My original Lemon Cucumbers died. I think the edible plant sale was a bit too early this year and the starts didn’t have enough time to get established. I waited a month and then bought a few more at Swanson’s. Those are doing well, and I will have to transplant them into much larger pots soon.

The Arugula went bananas (b.a.n.a.n.a.s). We had a lovely sunny Sunday a few weeks ago and threw together an impromptu get together on the deck. We served steak sandwiches with fresh arugula (drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon juice) and blue cheese on ciabatta buns. OMG, they were delicious. The arugula was perfect. I love how it adds just a little spice.

The Brussel Sprouts have also taken off. I think the pots I put them in are going to be too small. I’ll have to transplant those soon as well. I already have a plan for these lovelies when I harvest them (again… assuming I don’t kill them). Halved, and sautéed with onion and just a smidge of bacon.  Btw, these green pots I found at Ballard Market and at Swanson’s are biodegradable. They can be used for 2-3 years outside and longer if used indoors and then can be planted directly in the ground. They come in tons of fun colors too. Nice.

This past weekend I finally got around to potting some houseplants as well. I have never done too well with houseplants. Mostly because I only give them water (and usually too much of it), I don’t know which plants need fertilizer and how often. So, I’ve decided to buy mostly succulents this time around. That way they will be content with a little water now and then, and if I forget, I assume they won’t mind. I did buy a few low maintenance non-succulents as well. We’ll see how they do.

Overall, the deck is looking good and I’ve been enjoying the sun whenever it decides to shine down on Seattle. I think the edibles are doing well and I love checking on them each morning and night. It makes me so happy to watch them grow. We’ve also planted some rock rose and lavender and have seen more bee activity. Sean has been learning a lot about the decline in the bee populations and what that means for our plants, including edibles. So now, I (who detest all insects) am trying to help the little guys thrive. Sean actually contacted our neighborhood bee guy (who can install hives on your property and harvest the honey for you) to see if we could put a hive on the deck. Really, Sean?! Luckily the bee guy said that would be too difficult because he’d need regular access to our roof. Geez…

To be continued…

hori hori dig dig!

I often refer to myself as a Scandinavian (a.k.a. Scando), which is strictly defined as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. I identify with the simple design aesthetic of almost everything in their culture (architecture, furniture, art etc…). The truth is, I’m Dutch which makes me Benelux (and, well, Benelux doesn’t seem as hip as Scandinavia). Which means, those of us that are Benelux, need to do a better job hippin’ it up. Damn my own arguments! 

Anyway, back to my point (which is that Holland should be included in Scandinavia). Denmark is included in Scandinavia. Really? Just because they jut out into where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea a little more? Holland can practically reach out and hold hands with Denmark. I bet if that pesky little portion of Germany wasn’t in the way, they’d let us into the party. No offense to Germany. I have a bit of German heritage as well…

So why isn’t Holland included in what Wikipedia considers the “extended usage” of the term Scandinavian? Since it’s clear the definition of Scandinavia has gotten looser over the years (now that Finland and sometimes even Iceland are considered part of Scandinavia), I’m going to keep calling myself a Scando.

What do you think?

This isn’t to say I don’t love the Dutch culture and aesthetic. I do. I love that Holland was ahead of the game with wind power (windmills are cool), and I love the fiercely strong bike culture. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers and I used to have wooden shoes as a kid. I also love that they have Amsterdam. I think we all want a little piece of Amsterdam.

I’m sure you are wondering what brought on this conversation. Some friends of mine have started a Scandinavian-mod brand called Sur Flicka and they are now offering a line of clothing and accessories. We’ve had the “what it means to be Scandinavian” conversation at many a happy hour and they have agreed to let me be an honorary Scando… at least in their eyes. Thanks M & E!

Check out their new line of products at Sur Flicka.  I have no doubt they will be super successful in their new venture. Come join the fun at the launch party this Friday, June 4th at the Swedish Cultural Center here in Seattle. I will see you there!

This is Jaime Broersma, a proud Dutch girl AND Scandinavian, signing off.

hori hori dig dig!

If you haven’t heard of Spilled Milk, the podcast, I highly recommend you give it a listen. I listen to it regularly and ask myself “why am I not friends with these people?” We have so much in common and I love to cook, laugh, and of course eat delicious food with my lovely friends. Molly and her friend Matthew talk about recipes and cooking tips and all sorts of random craziness. Molly Wizenberg wrote a book (that I haven’t read yet, but it’s on my ‘must read’ list) and also helped her husband start Delancey. A fancy little pizza place here in my neighborhood that I’ve blogged about before. Oh, and she has the cutest blog named Orangette. Her co-host on the podcast Matthew Amster-Burton (who also wrote a book) is a kick and they always make me laugh.

Anyway… I think we need to be friends. I think they should share the happy fun times with me. Maybe if my tomatoes take off (see rooftop garden adventure), we could talk about sauces and preserving tomatoes. I want to try that too … my list keeps growing.

So there you have it. I’ve never forced (encouraged sounds so much better, don’t you think?) a friendship before, but I kind of think I need to know Molly and Matt. I think they might just enjoy me… a lot. I could be their sidekick. So, how do you go about encouraging a new friendship with local famous people? Maybe I should just invite them to the next happy hour on the deck and tell them to bring the microphone.

I’ll chew on it…

hori hori dig dig!

Living in the city is a bit of a challenge when it comes to gardening. I can’t afford a house with a yard and therefore a garden, so instead, as I’ve talked about before, I volunteer at Seattle Tilth so I can get my hands in the dirt and learn all about organic gardening.

The Spring Garden Crew season has started and last weekend was the Edible Plant Sale at Tilth. I bought a few starter plants and, for the first time, have committed to trying my hand at growing edibles in containers on the rooftop deck.

Here are the plants I selected:

Basil, Onion, Brussel Sprouts, Wild Arugula, Tomato (the saucy kind) and Lemon Cucumber (I heart these).

My hope is that after all is said and done, at least the tomato plant will have survived and flourished! I love fresh chunky tomato sauce. If it goes as planned and I have a ton of tomatoes, then maybe I’ll have to learn how to preserve them as well.

Here’s how cute and little they are now (and here’s hoping they don’t look the same size, but dead in a few months!)

If you have any advice I’d love to hear it. Fingers crossed. Stay tuned…

hori hori dig dig!

Montana Roadtrip

February 24, 2010

Since I am unemployed and have the time, I decided to take a road trip and headed to Montana. Montana holds a special place in my heart since I went to school in Missoula. I love it there. Sean decided to come along so we could go visit his college friend in Whitefish too. We stayed with my best friend from college and her husband for a few days in Seeley Lake and then headed up to Whitefish where I was able to ski Big Mountain! It was so nice to spend time with friends.

I love being in the mountains. I grew up in a small town of about 11k people, and when I moved to Missoula for school they had a population of about 100k. Seattle metro has a population in the neighborhood of 600k. Sometimes I find it overwhelming and I just want some quiet space. In Seattle we have views of both the Olympic and the Cascade mountain ranges. It is beautiful, but I don’t get out to enjoy them enough. Thank goodness bike season is starting. I’ll get my fix on my rides in the country.

Here are some photos from the Montana trip.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, there were steaks in the shape of a heart. Sweet.

Noel made us chocolate lava cakes after a fabulous dinner. Of course we had a bit of wine too. Thanks guys!

Big Mountain from downtown Whitefish.

The backside.

Sean’s friend is chef at the Lodge on Whitefish Lake. We had an amazing chef’s whim dinner on Valentine’s Day and then sat by the fire watching the Olympics. Perfect.

Back to Seattle, the job search and Chilly Hilly, the kick off ride of the bike season.

hori hori dig dig!

Time on my Hands

February 17, 2010

I knew when I quit my job I would have room to breathe and ponder and in general just catch up with the world around me. I feel thankful, but most of all I feel inspired. Remember a few years ago when The Secret came out, and then Oprah trampled down that same road and we all were throwing our needs/wants into the universe wishing and hoping for them to become reality? I’m right back there. Oh yeah, the vision board from 2008 that is on top of my refridgerator is still not complete (my friend E is gasping out loud right now, since she has probably complete 3 or 4 in that time). I’ve pulled it down, and am in the process of deciding what more I want/need. I feel pretty lucky already.

I won’t go into details, but since I started this vision board so many of the things I wanted to do or things I wanted to bring into my life have happened. It’s a little weird. I decided it was okay to add a few material goods (just a few!) that I really wanted, but I haven’t gotten those yet. Like the super spendy Sabina handbag that I’ve been coveting for almost a year now and they likely don’t have in stock anymore at Anthro. Boo.

So when I started this process I created a vision board including my vision for love, my home space, personal/self help stuff and family. I feel like I’ve accomplished quite a bit in the past few years, but I still have a list of things to work on. I still desperately want my own garden, but since I live in a condo I just signed up for the Spring Garden Crew through Seattle Tilth so that I can get my hands in the dirt and learn more about organic gardening. They also have a Comprehensive Organic Gardener course that I’d like to take (depending on my employment status of course).

For now this is my  patio. It is looking a little sad at the moment. I usually find a few accent pots at Anthropologie (big surprise). I love shopping for new plants with a variety of colors. My favorite plant right now is the Hellebores (in my swan planter). A gift from Sean to spruce up my patio a bit. So sweet.

The Japanese Aralia has gone gangbusters and does really well in the NW climate. My rosebushes from last year (seedlings I bought online) haven’t quite taken off yet. One is doing better than the other. We’ll see how it all turns out now that Spring seems to be right around the corner!

So off I go to dream a little and see what else I’d like to add to my vision board. Stay tuned…

hori hori dig dig!

Thai Chicken Curry

February 5, 2010

I was craving comfort food the other day, and wanted to incorporate lots of veggies. A bowl of Thai Chicken Curry over rice sounded perfect. In addition to all the fabulous food blogs that I read regularly, I also use Epicurious for recipes. They have a great search option so if you only know what main ingredient you want to use, you will get all kinds of ideas. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this dish is low fat (there is coconut milk involved), but if you incorporate brown rice instead of white and light coconut milk instead of full fat, it’ll make you feel better!

Look at all these beautiful veggies. The Bunashimeji (beech mushrooms) were so cute, I had to have them. I got the fresh, organic and mostly local veggies in my neighborhood market. I love this recipe because you can add whatever veggies sound good to you, and adjust the heat to your liking. I used red and green curry paste because I am kind of wimp when it comes to the heat! I also added fresh garlic and ginger and didn’t use the tomatoes. Sean cleaned his plate, which is a good sign.

Other updates coming soon, and a trip to Montana on the horizon.

hori hori dig dig!

Who’s your Farmer?

January 27, 2010

This Fall/Winter I’ve tried to go to the Ballard Farmers Market prepared with a menu (of sorts). A while ago I wanted to make a pork roast but was disappointed that I could only find frozen at the farmer’s market, until I came across the friendly guys from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island. They had a bone in pork shoulder ready to go. Grass fed and local. I couldn’t wait. They also sell homemade butter. What’s not to love?! Sean & I picked up the rest of our ingredients and made dinner with his brothers. The Pork Roast was by far the best menu item. We were all standing around what little leftovers were there at the end of the meal picking at it. I braised it with cider and onions (and stuffed it with lots of garlic cloves). So, so good. On the side we made potato gratin with goat cheese and shaved brussel sprouts.

Matt from SBF showing off his goodies:

Sean and his brother decided to make an upside down pear tart. It was delish!

Sea Breeze Farm also runs a restaurant called La Boucherie on Vashon Island. Everything they serve is grown, harvested and prepared on the property. Dinner here is going to be one of Sean’s Christmas gifts (once I am employed again!). I can’t wait. If you are a Seattelite and in Ballard on a Sunday afternoon you should stop by the Ballard Farmers Market for fantastic fresh, local foods, and cute dogs everywhere!

hori hori dig dig!

At last, my blog about our Mexican vacation! It seems a distant memory now, but when I look at the pictures it all comes rushing back. We went to a little place called San Pancho (San Francisco), Nayarit, Mexico. It’s about an hour north of Puerto Vallerta and about 5 or 10 minutes north of Sayulita (another popular spot for Northwesterners).

Our friends D & K told us about it. They’ve been going to San Pancho for years. San Pancho is a quiet little town with cobblestone streets, a handful of restaurants and art/craft stores, an uncrowded beach and lots of authentic Mexican charm. If you are looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy the sunshine and culture of Mexico, this is a great spot! Right over the footbridge from the airport in Puerto Vallerta is the bus stop headed north to Sayulita. We paid $5 for the ride north on what I refer to as the Mexican Chicken Bus (because the only thing missing from that experience was the livestock). Then we grabbed a cab in Sayulita to our B&B in San Pancho ($10).

We stayed at a lovely bed & breakfast at the far north end of town on the edge of the jungle.  We found it on Trip Advisor. They have 4 rooms, a pool with a swim-up bar (bartender on call) and an honor bar so you can help yourself to beer anytime. First, let me say that the Swine Flu scare has led to an unfortunate decline in tourism in Mexico. In addition, I think the economy has people spending less on travel. The good news is you can find some great deals in Mexico. Although, we didn’t get much of a discount at Casa Obelisco, we did have the entire place to ourselves for the week! The owners Bill & Barbara and their dog Kahlua and John & Judy (2 couples from the states) also live here. They were fabulous hosts. They made us breakfast each morning as we overlooked the ocean. We fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. It was so relaxing. The B&B was clean and quiet. We felt completely comfortable here and walked to and from town in the dark on a few occasions without a worry. Here are some pictures:

Entrance to the B&B from the street.

The pool area

Town was about 1/4 mile south on the beach from our B&B. Here’s a shot of the beach as we started walking home one evening.

Our bartender, Evy, invited us to go with her and her family to La Penita (a town 1/2 hour north) to shop at the market. I walked into one of the shops and almost ran into this parrot!

Evy’s little girl kept us entertained most of the day. She was so much fun.

Enjoying sunset on the beach.

The best little taco stand in town!

Oh yeah, shrimp tacos and beer after a day in the sun!

John & Judy (from the B&B) just opened this gallery in town with beautiful pottery and beaded work.

Bill and Barbara’s dog Kahlua, lounging by the front gate.

The beautiful Mexican mirror I purchased in La Penita and hung in my kitchen.

I already miss Mexico. San Pancho was everything I hoped for. Relaxing, beautiful, safe and full of charm. The people here are so gracious and kind. They were so patient with me considering I know very little Spanish. It ended up feeling like a long game of charades! I can’t wait to go back. So many trips to plan, and so little cash! Hopefully there are a few local road trips on the horizon.

Stay tuned!

hori hori dig dig!

Oh my gosh, December felt like a whirlwind. I’ve been to Mexico (blog post to come later), did some cooking/baking, and then went to San Francisco for NYE.  I was so excited Sunday morning when I woke up in my own bed to a quiet house and enjoyed my cup of coffee (okay, pot of coffee) in the glow of my mini Christmas tree. I’m not really ready to get rid of my tree. I like the soft lighting in my house; it’s pretty. Is there some rule about how long you can keep it up? I hope not. I’m not talking about leaving it up until June, but maybe February-ish. I always feel like the Holidays come to such an abrupt end. I mean they cram the holiday spirit down our throats before Halloween now. I remember the days when you didn’t hear a Christmas song until the day after Thanksgiving. Those were the days… Here is my cute tree. My friend called it a pygmy.

I also have some news: I decided to quit my job a while ago, but today I made it official and gave my notice! I don’t have a plan, but I do have a mortgage. Crazy, I know. I’ve been feeling as though I need something new in my life and change was in the wind. I operate very well when I am scared to death, so this may work out perfectly!

I am preparing for the GMAT, soon to be unemployed, and wondering what I am supposed to do next. I am anxious, terrified but most of all excited! I’m thankful for the knowledge I’ve gained in my current position and the friends I’ve met along the way. Here’s to new beginnings!

I’ve just leapt off the cliff. Please feel free to share you thoughts… or just tell me I’m a nutter.

hori hori dig dig!

Kevin, Top Chef and Pigs

December 10, 2009

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the finale of Season 6 Top Chef Las Vegas, then don’t read any further (go home immediately and watch it)!

I love Kevin Gillespie , his beard and his love of pork products. If I weren’t dating Sean, I might actually start a mildley stalker-ish relationship with Kevin. Although I’m not excited about the fact that he lives in Georgia. Anyway… I was pulling for him. He is talented, funny and seems like such a loveable guy.

He didn’t win. I thought he was going to cry right there in front of the judges, but he held it together. I am really disappointed. He will go on to great things no doubt, but I wanted this for him. How sweet was that moment with his Mom after he found out he didn’t win?

Bryan and Michael. The brothers make me want to stick a fork in my eye. Of course they are talented, but their food is so fluffy and over complicated.  I was waiting for Bryan to snap the whole season. That guy has some serious repression issues, or a very large stick in his bum; and Michael, well, Michael is just cocky. I have to admit Bryan’s dessert on the finale sounded the best to me (even though I love bacon and Kevin), but it looked like the fig sorbet was a piece of poo on the plate! Really?

Anyway… fine. It’s over and I’m sad for Kevin. Maybe I should send him a card.

hori hori dig dig!

Cantinetta and Me

December 4, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve had a nasty cold that just wouldn’t go away. Ick. I am on the mend and finally made it out of my house for a proper meal the other night!

My friend Craig (whose partner, Cary just opened a new vet clinic in South Lake Union… stop by and say hello!), told me about a new restaurant in Wallingford called Cantinetta. A lofty space with mellow lighting, mismatched dinnerware and vintage silver. The staff was very friendly and on a Thursday night they were almost full. We ordered 5 dishes, and every one was a delight. I can’t wait to go back. As of today, if I were Anthony Bourdain, this would be my death row meal restaurant of choice.

We started with the Beets served with Huckleberries and Chevre and a Insalata Mista that came with a very large wedge of blue cheese. It should come as no surprise that I ordered the Pork Belly. I can’t help it. I see it on the menu and everything else disappears. I should get a pig tattoo like Kevin on Top Chef (I hope he wins the whole shabang btw). Anyway… the Pork Belly was served with apple and sage and a cider reduction. The pork was cooked perfectly. Sean had the Lamb Ragu that had a little dollop of Ricotta on top. He was excited because there were carrots in the sauce.

And then… there was Chocolate Bombolini. I can’t quite convey this when typing, but if I were in person telling you about the next dish, rest assured that I would be speaking slowly and using a lots of descriptive words to convey just how much I loved it. Get this: a slightly chocolate flavored doughnut, made to order, then rolled in sugar and injected with espresso mascarpone. Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in. There was a coffee flavor inside a chocolate doughnut and then it was covered in sugar. 3 of my favorite things in one lovely bite. It blew my mind.

I don’t think I have properly introduced myself on this blog. My name is Jaime. Hello! I love food. I love wine. I am addicted to sugar and I find life a bit unsatisfying without it quite frankly. I will spin for twice as long on my bike if that is what it takes to be able to enjoy another Chocolate Bomboli in the near future. I wonder if I can order them to go? Anyway, it is nice to meet you! Here’s a picture of me from my birthday party this year taken with cake, naturally.

hori hori dig dig!

I found this dinner roll recipe in Saveur Magazine about 6 years ago and I’ve been making them for Thanksgiving almost every year since. Most people go for store-bought rolls for Thanksgiving since the focus is mostly on the bird and other dishes (rightly so). Considering all the cooking, baking, traveling and organizing that is required around the holidays I think if people added home made rolls to their list of to-do’s, we’d find a few too many ladies (and gents) with their heads in the oven! They really are a major pain in the tuckus, but here’s the thing, I love them. Right out of the oven they are the softest, pillowiest, lightest, slightly sweet little lovelies you’ve ever seen! Women all over America (and some of the boys) are dusting off their cookbooks and utensils to bring a new dish sure to please, or an old favorite that everyone raves about each year. I bring rolls (and a few other things if my hosts will let me!).

This year I am practicing a week ahead of time, mostly to see if they taste good after being baked, frozen and reheated. If they do, then I don’t need to kill myself to make them the day of Thanksgiving. Getting up at 6 a.m. doesn’t sound good at all. No thank you. Look at this super cute apron my friend Noel sent me for my birthday! Thanks Noel, I love it!

When I make this recipe I usually have to do a couple batches of the yeast, because almost always one of them fails.

After adding the milk mixture and eggs to the yeast, I pulled out the Kitchenaid mixer. I love it, love it, love it.

The dough had to rise for 3 hours, then I rolled it out and, because I don’t have a biscuit cutter, I used a short glass to cut out the rolls.

After dipping each lovely roll into the butter (m’mmmmm), I lined them up on the pan and let them rise for another 2.5 hours. Patience…

Pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes and voila! I made a note to only put 10 per row instead of 12, they were falling out of the pan!

This year I discovered the wonders of Plugra butter. I’m pretty sure it may be the key to the kingdom! My girlfriends came over for mexi food last night, and we ended up having these rolls with butter for dessert. Omg…freshly baked rolls and real butter. Words cannot describe…

I grew up surrounded by a large extended family and Thanksgiving was always at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by good cooks. Unfortunately it didn’t rub off on me until I was much older. I remember arriving at Grandma & Grandpa’s house and when I walked in it would be toasty warm and smelled amazing. I don’t remember if anyone made rolls from scratch at our Thanksgivings, but I ‘m not sure it mattered. It was always nice just to have everyone together. And there was no shortage of food!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

hori hori dig dig!

My Apple Galette

November 15, 2009

It is a cold, rainy weekend here in Seattle (we had snow Friday night…ick). All I want to do is stay inside and be warm. Today we decided to stay in and cook a proper Sunday meal. I haven’t blogged about cooking or baking in a while, so I dove headfirst into my pile of cookbooks. I took care of dessert and chose an Apple Galette recipe.

P1020403

I’ve been meaning to purchase a 12-cup food processor for quite some time. Each time I am in a kitchen store I stare at them longingly, but I can’t seem to loosen my grip on my wallet. Oddly, if I were in Anthropologie trying on an outfit that fits perfectly, my wallet practically runs to the checkout line by itself. No issues there! If you’ve ever made a double batch of anything using a 3.5 cup food processor, you know what a gigantic pain in the hoo-ha it is. Which is why I am so happy Sean has a 12-cup food processor. Making the crust was a snap.

P1020408

Apple galette. I love the smell as it bakes, and it’s a thing of beauty when it’s done. M’mmmm… freshly baked loveliness. This recipe was so simple. I loved the apricot preserves drizzled on top.

P1020413

Served with Snoqualmie Creme Fraische Gelato. Stick it!

P1020418

hori hori dig dig!

I find it hard to describe why I love Portland, Oregon so much. I lived there for 4 years before moving to Seattle and I still feel like I am going home when I visit. There are a few major differences with Seattle. Portland is smaller, cleaner, cheaper and it has an amazing mass transit system that is easy to use and affordable. They also are VERY bike friendly. I could go on and on, but that is another post. Let’s talk about the food. I love the food variety in Seattle, but there is a certain passion and risk behind the food in Portland. We have amazing fresh, organic and sustainably farmed ingredients easily accessible here in the PNW so it takes a lot for a new restaurant to stand out. In Portland some of the best food comes from people you’ve never heard of, with a background equally as mysterious. They haven’t worked for the latest top chef, or the most notable restaurant in the city. That’s not to say we don’t have a great underdog story here in Seattle from time to time, but in Portland it seems to be the norm.

I had the opportunity to go to Portland last week for work and of course had a list of restaurants to try. Some new, some old favorites. Whenever I go to P-town I like to stay at the Hotel Monaco downtown so I can walk around the city. 2 shouts outs for the wine happy hour in the lobby each evening and the fact that you can bring your dog to stay with you! It is a beautiful hotel with bold colors, patterns and textures everywhere.

Here are the notable spots I hit last week: Pambiche, Park Kitchen and Pok Pok.

P1020395

I am going to cut right to the chase and tell you Pok Pok is now my favorite restaurant in the Universe! It is so incredibly good. Every dish at Pok Pok was a so tasty and even though I knew I was full, I REALLY wanted to order more. Pok Pok’s menu comes from the food of Southeast Asia. Mostly Thailand. I’ve had a lot of Thai in Portland and Seattle, but I’ve never had such authentic Thai flavor. It makes every phad thai or panang curry you’ve ever had seem like a bowl of grits. Andy Ricker opened Pok Pok as a take out Thai shack in front of his house in Portland in 2005 after spending quite a bit of time traveling around Southeast Asia. To say Pok Pok took off, is an understatement. Check out all these reviews! After opening the shack which is Pok Pok, Andy opened the Whiskey Soda Lounge in the basement of his home. So technically I guess I’m raving about WSL, but I like the name Pok Pok better.

I tried the Pomegranate Caipirinha drink with Pomegranate (duh!), muddled lime and Cachaca. Yum.

P1020397

Kaeng Hung Lea is the sweet pork belly and shoulder in curry with ginger, palm sugar, tamarind, turmeric, Burmese curry powder and pickled garlic. It will blow your mind.

Everyone told us to get Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. I’m not a wing fan. Too much work for little payoff. We tried them anyway and I was SO pleasantly surprised. They are marinated with the fish sauce garlic and sugar, fried and then tossed in carmelized fish sauce and garlic. I’m at a loss for words. Try them.

We also had the Yam Khai Dao a fried egg salad with chilies, chinese celery, onions and carrot with lime, palm sugar and fish sauce dressing. I helped balance the other heavier items on our table.

P1020399

If you are in Portland, you don’t have a choice, you HAVE to go to Pok Pok. Tell them I sent you. HA! They don’t know who I am… but if you say hori hori dig dig a few times, I might get a few more readers!

Pambiche is a delicious Cuban restaurant that is my old neighborhood. I used to come here for happy hour and have the plantains and Sangria. Last week I had the Cubano sandwich toasted with roasted port, smoked ham, swiss cheese and a dill pickle. I love the atmosphere here. It makes me feel like I am on vacation.

P1020385

Park Kitchen opened after I had moved to Seattle so I was excited to try it. The fare is mostly pacific northwest cuisine with a twist. They source most of their ingredients locally and change their menu each season. We had the flank steak with blue cheese/sherried onions. You can’t really go wrong with meat and cheese! Then we had the prawns with radish/celery root.  I need to stop ordering cold shrimp dishes. The texture/temperature thing doesn’t do it for me, but also this dish didn’t have a lot of flavor.

I love the copper table tops and the bright green paint color inside Park Kitchen. The rolling garage door out front allows them to take advantage of the Summer sidewalk dining that is so popular in Portland. If I could bend their ear at PK, I would suggest taking the “nut” ingredient down a notch. Why do people who love nuts, assume everyone else does? I think every 3rd item on their menu had nuts in it. That significantly reduced my choices (I’m allergic to nuts). I suppose this is how my vegetarian friends feel when I choose a restaurant with mostly meat items. Oops!

P1020393

Go to Portland.

hori hori dig dig!

In the 5 years I’ve lived in Washington last weekend was my first trip to the Methow Valley. It was the perfect weekend to see all the Fall colors. The Methow Valley sits in North Central Washington about 3.5 – 4 hours drive from Seattle. Some friends told us about the Rolling Huts on a property outside of Winthrop, Washington. On old mobile home park stripped of all the homes and the land brought back to a natural state, save the new super cool rolling huts. There are only 6 of them; each come equipt with a bedroom, wood-burning fireplace, plenty of firewood, porch, mini kitchen (with coffee maker, thank goodness) and a great view. You can move the furniture by the fireplace together to make another bed.

Think camping, but without the pitching a tent, sleeping on the hard ground, no heat, no shower, no proper potty thing. You don’t have to worry about ending up running around the woods like you are in the Blair Witch project. Unlike a tent the huts have electricity and doors that lock in case you’ve watched too many scary movies as of late, like me. This will give you piece of mind. $80/night (winter rate) is a bargain. I love simple architecture that looks cool. These cabins are made with i-beam, plywood, cork floors, glass and whatever else holds it all together. I was so excited just to lounge around without a schedule. We brought books, a bunch of wine/beer, crackers/cheese and Scrabble (of course). My brother and sister-in-law came too and they brought their puppy. He was in heaven with all the room to run around on the property. It’s a short hike to the river from the huts.

P1020307

P1020303

P1020305

P1020376

Sun Mountain Lodge is about 15 minutes from the huts and a beautiful drive up the foothills. 1 word: horses. 2 words: amazing views. 2 more words: wine cellar and one more to sprinkle on top: spa. You get the idea. It’s a whole lot of fun up there. The rooms are much more expensive and fancy, but it’s a great place to go just for a horseback ride and some drinks/snacks. My horse’s name was Wigwam and of course he liked to stop and eat any chance he got, so I was way behind the others!

P1020338

Let’s talk about the food. Most of the food we ate in Winthrop was fried, but there was one restaurant that was remarkable: Arrowleaf Bistro. They serve locally sourced seasonal cuisine. Sean had Elk Bourguignon and I had Chicken Fricassee, one of my favorite meals ever. It was so good. They also had L’ecole 41 Schoolhouse Red. My new favorite Fall wine from Walla Walla, Washington. Love it.

P1020381

P1020383

I haven’t been this relaxed in a long while. I can’t wait to go back. Next time, snowshoes!

hori hori dig dig!

Tavern Law…objection

October 22, 2009

Whew… it’s been a bit hectic as of late, but I’m excited that I was able to try a new restaurant/bar this week. I heard about Tavern Law in Capital Hill a few months ago when they first opened. Shrouded by mystery and a “speakeasy” label, I had to see what the hubbub was all about. Tavern Law is crafted in honor of a time during prohibition when there were dark basements and back rooms dedicated to the art of a mixed drink and the bartenders that made them. I have to say that I am a sucker for a sweet little old-timey cocktail glass. Seriously, they could pour milk in there and I would think it was the fanciest thing ever. Love.

P1020245

The decor is dark and a bit quiet. There is a lot of dark wood and leather seating. Shelves filled with old books. A fantastic old refrigerator with the big stainless steel handles and glass windows sat behind the bar. I would love to have one of those some day. Probably not the most energy efficient machine I’m guessing, but super cool! So, to get things started I had a glass of sparking rose’ in a sweet low wine glass. Delish. The menu is short and sweet. The portions are small and perfect for sharing. We tried the Truffle Risotto with celery root and the Pork Cheek with beans and plum. Mercy… I love a good pork cheek dish.

P1020248

The service was fantastic and the staff was friendly and knowledgeable; here is where it fell short for me. Salt. I like salt, but I don’t LOVE salt. I think I have a fairly common palette in that way. So, when you have a dish that is alarmingly salty, it sort of ruins the rest of the fun. I was hoping for a party in my mouth with these dishes. They were beautifully presented. My mouth was watering when they arrived, but both were too salty for me. Truffle is a strong flavor and a little seems to go a long way, so had that dish not been so salty, it may have been delightful. My second cocktail is a favorite of mine. Lillet on the rocks. Very refreshing after the salt lick that was my dinner.

P1020252

P1020254

I feel a little bad giving this place a hard time about the salt, but these are talented chefs. Even though they’ve been getting lots of press (including a recent write up in our old friend Gourmet), I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to try Tavern Law again. They do have a small upstairs space through an old steel door and you have to call up before they let you in. I wonder what the code word is. Water? They had a private party the night I was there, so I was out of luck.

I’m off to the Rolling Huts in the Methow Valley this weekend, so I’ll have another post soon. Off I go…

hori hori dig dig!

Volunteer Park Conservatory

October 13, 2009

Even if you don’t care for gardening or plants, you have to admit this is kind of cool:

There are plenty of plants at the Volunteer Park Conservatory that are obviously not native to our climate here in the Pacific Northwest. I found out that the Conservatory is a US Fish and Wildlife Rescue Center and when the US Customs seizes illegally imported plants some are given to the Conservatory to display. Which explains why all of the orchids were behind locked screens. Cool, right?

If you haven’t been to Volunteer Park Conservatory in Capital Hill, you need to go. Especially now, because the trees in the park are lit up in their Fall colors. It’s a really nice place to take a stroll. I recommend donating some money if you go, because the Friends of the Conservatory and the Seattle Parks and Recreation department do such a nice job maintaining the plants and the property. On my recent visit to Olympia I was disappointed that the conservatory at the Capital had been closed permanently. I love to see the variety of plants; their colors, texture and climate. Since I am always cold, I’m particularly fond of the fern house since they keep it kinda toasty in there. Go check it out!

P1020222

P1020232

P1020236

P1020239

P1020241

It was my birthday this past week and on Friday night I had a lovely dinner party with friends. There is nothing I love more than sharing great food and wine in the company of my friends. I feel really blessed.

This weekend I was able to check out Volunteer Park Cafe & Marketplace in Capital Hill. This quaint little restaurant is on a tree-lined street with beautiful old homes. 100 years ago this place was a grocery and meat market. Now, they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have one large rustic wooden table running down the center of the space and other smaller tables around the perimeter. Huge windows in the storefront give lots of natural light. I love, love, love that they use local, organic and sustainable ingredients. They are even putting in a garden of their own.

There is something fun about communal dining. I like meeting new people and talking about food/wine. I can’t wait to go back and have dinner. They have a nice selection of wines in house and the dinner menu (chock full of PNW fare and comfort food) looks fantastic.

Those of you that know me, are well aware that I love bacon. Since we went for breakfast I quickly scanned the menu and chose the bacon and egg breakfast panini. The Stumptown latte was the frosting on the cake. I was in a happy place.

P1020218

P1020215

P1020211

P1020207

hori hori dig dig!

Boat Street Cafe

October 7, 2009

I am a big fan of French food. It seems like I’ve been writing about it a lot lately. It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering my love affair with butter. Also, is there anyone that doesn’t like French cooking? I like simple food that isn’t overdressed or overthought.

I recently went to Boat Street Café for lunch with a new friend that shares a passion for gardening and food/wine. Boat Street, which is described as a country French restaurant, is located where Lower Queen Anne meets Belltown. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. They have a quaint space with white tablecloths and simple decorations. The food is delicious and varied. One of my favorite highlights: they use fresh ingredients mostly sourced through local farmers. I’ll admit the parking situation can be a bit of bugger, but not impossible. If it were too easy to get to, it would be harder to find a table! It’s worth it… check it out!

P1020164

Boat Street has a cute little courtyard with additional seating. I took my grandparents here last year and we enjoyed a little lunch outside in the sunshine.

P1020165

So, let’s get down to business. They’ve changed their menu since I’ve been in and I was excited to try something new and fall-ish. I had the gratin with a sausage, simple salad and a baked apple. You guys… sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m not in a race to finish a meal. It was so good. The baked apple was a perfect ending. My friend had the peppers stuffed with goat cheese served with couscous, salad and fresh fruit. We finished our meal with some coffee and you know how much I love my coffee!

P1020173

P1020174

Look at this darling space they have for dinner parties or cooking classes!

P1020169

P1020170

They sell their pickled figs, prunes, red onion and raisins in house.

P1020171

hori hori dig dig!

What is Olympia

September 23, 2009

That would be the Jeopardy answer to “The Capital of the State of Washington.” I have to say, I’m not captivated by politics (but I have big place in my heart for Mr. O) or history in general. So when driving back from Lake Quinault recently my boyfriend asked how I felt about touring the Capital, and I (while distracted) said, “sure, why not?” we dove across 4 lanes of traffic to make the exit and landed smack in the middle of factoid land. I was nervous.

My family could tell you never ending stories about how much I despise tourist traps and crowds. That is my least favorite part of traveling. All those people with fanny packs, stopping to stare at nothing in particular in the middle of pedestrian walkways… don’t get me started. Luckily we went on a Monday so the place was pretty empty.

P1020101

P1020105

Sean is a bit of a nerd (an adorable nerd) and he absolutely loves factoids. So at the capital when we walked in the legislative building and a sweet little lady asked if we wanted to join the tour that was just starting, he was grinning ear to ear. I was scared we wouldn’t be able to leave or that they were going to put some sort of tracking device on us (this stems from a tour of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City with my family when I was a teenager… a funny story that I can tell you some other time).

The interior of these buildings is very grand. I became the tourist stopping to stare with my mouth agape. Things I heard: 35 tons of marble from Italy , Germany, France and Alaska. The largest collection of Tiffany lamps in the world. Sean telling the sweet little tour guide that George Washington’s bronze bust had a shiny nose because he was in fact Ruldolph. Par for the course…

P1020120

I saw conservatory buildings in the distance and as we closed in, I saw a sign saying they were closed indefinitely. My mood soured. How can the Capital not have a conservatory or formal garden? I think we need to get that added to the next ballot.

Did you know you are allowed to sit in on Supreme Court hearings? Did you also know that when you open the door during a hearing and every head in the room (attached to a body in a suit) turns to look at you when you are dressed every bit the part of a tourist (sans fanny pack) that it is kind of embarrassing? I ran away and left Sean standing there and he, of course, smiled and waved. He’s so nice.

P1020127

All in all, it was fun to walk around the Capital. I picked up a few facts to throw around at dinner parties and a better understanding of how the people I help elect work. They have assigned seats like in grade school with slightly more formal desks. Cute.

hori hori dig dig!

Cafe Besalu, oh how i love you

September 21, 2009

I love food and I hate running. This is a problem for me. I’ve had to get creative with my exercise routine in order to justify the food/wine I love. There are a few places in Seattle that I will return to again and again and again because they have nailed it, whatever it is. Besalu is one of those places.

Cafe Besalu is a little pastry shop in Ballard on 24th Ave. that smells like heaven when you walk by. People flock here each morning and wait in long lines for what can only be described as the most buttery, flakey, delicious pastries in Seattle. I can’t imagine a happier place to work; surrounded by the smell of baked goods, butter, dough, sweet fruits, savory treats and more butter…hello?!

I normally get the ham and swiss pastry, but yesterday I tried the onion and gruyere. It was delicious. I have a friend that sometimes talks to her food. And every once and a while when I am about to eat something amazing I pay homage to her by speaking to my food as well. “Hello lover…” Besalu pastries should be talked to. Each pastry is a little work of art and as such should be properly honored before being eaten! I could die happy right here.

hori hori dig dig!

P1020136

P1020137

P1020141

P1020142

Lake Quinault Lodge Getaway

September 18, 2009

I took a much needed mini-vacation at Lake Quinault Lodge in the Olympic National Forest this past weekend. We did very little except eat, drink, play scrabble, read the newspaper and sit in the adirondack chairs overlooking the lake. It was all about relaxation and I loved every minute of it (except when I was losing at Scrabble). This place is weathered and has a very lodge-y feel. A huge fireplace is the centerpiece in the main room of the lodge and is surrounded by comfortable leather couches and chairs. It takes about 3 hours to get there from Seattle and you don’t have much choice when it comes to relaxing. There are no cell signals or phones in the rooms. There was a pay phone however (cute!). The food was good and they served the usual Pacific Northwest cuisine, but my favorite was the Olympia Grown Wild Mushroom Ragout we had for dinner one night. Yummmm….

A bit of history about the lodge: FDR visited in 1937 and sometime after the Olympic National Park was established. If you haven’t had the chance to venture into the park, you should go. We are so lucky to have rain forests, beaches and glaciers right in our backyard. I like to take a ferry ride every once and a while over to the peninsula just to get out of the city. The quiet space is nice and the views are spectacular.

The rooms at the lodge are pretty basic unless you are willing to spend an arm and a leg. You are paying for the setting, the history and the quiet. I think it was worth it.

hori hori dig dig!

P1020034

P1020081

P1020078

P1020077

P1020044

P1020063

Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair

September 13, 2009

I’ve been so excited to attend and volunteer for Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair. Two of my favorite things in one place, food and gardening. Harvest Fair was this past Saturday at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. I went early to see what vendors were participating and what local restaurants and roving food carts would be there. It was perfect weather for an outdoor festival, 85 degrees and sunny. I was able to reclaim some of my lost freckles! I volunteered to greet people and gently remind them there was a “suggested” donation. I also directed people to the restrooms. It was a very important job.

There are too many pictures to post, so I’ll give you a summary of the event. First, let me say that when you walked into the fair, you were greeted with the delicious smells of food from local restaurants and roving food vendors. There was live music all day and kids everywhere with face paint and decorated hats made out of paper bags. There were goats and chickens and a beekeeper selling honey. Several local farms were there selling organic produce. There were canning classes, winter gardening classes and compost demonstrations in the afternoon. Skillet was there with their super cool airstream trailer selling mouth watering lunch goodies. They are obviously mobile and you can find their scheduled locations on their website. You’ll most likely have to wait in line, but it’s worth it. Two words: bacon jam!  Swansons, my favorite nursery, was at the fair talking to people about native plants and general gardening advice. I learned about Seattle Youth Garden Works, a local organization that educates, empowers and helps find employment for kids ages 14-21 that would otherwise be living on the street or in general may not have had the opportunities or tools to exceed. They sell the produce they grow at the University District Farmer’s Market. Cool, right? Here are some pictures of the day.

hori hori dig dig!

P1010973

P1010997

P1010978

P1010988

P1020016

P1020023

The Sitting Room

September 12, 2009

Last night I had a lovely happy hour(s) with a girlfriend at The Sitting Room in lower Queen Anne. Not many people know about this place because it is a block or two from the heart of lower Queen Anne. I used to live nearby and would frequent this quaint little bar. It is low key, softly lite and cozy. They have the standard European fare and I often get the cheese plate or the bruschetta of the day. Last night I tried the special panini (it had bacon on it…yum) and my friend got the brie with some candied nut goodness on top.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I do love when a bar has Hoegaarden, especially on a nice summer evening. This week ended on a high note!

P1010967

P1010966

P1010970

hori hori dig dig!

Risotto to celebrate pre-fall

September 6, 2009

I spent the morning/afternoon with a girlfriend shopping downtown, something I don’t attempt often because of the crowds. It was so nice to catch up with her and stroll around the city. The weather was blustery and the minute I stepped out the door to meet her, it was a dogs and cats downpour! Luckily the rain stopped. I think we are firmly planted in pre-fall. I’m not sure if I am excited about it yet. However, I get to start making fall dishes and that makes me happy. I love nesting and spending an afternoon preparing a new dish, the house filled with the smell of home cooking. So, after shopping today I made Risotto with Chard and Prosciutto. The chard was harvested yesterday when I volunteered in the garden at Seattle Tilth.

My boyfriend is out of town this week (I miss him…) and I went to his house this afternoon to watch movies and cook. Also, he just bought a Le Creuset dutch oven, and I thought I would take it for a test drive! Turns out, it works just as well as mine even though it is a different color. Hehe…

P1010950

As always, I treated myself to some wine as I cooked. Listen, I will drink the Rose’ until it is officially Fall you guys! This one happens to be my favorite.

P1010949

P1010952

I’d definitely make this recipe again. I would use a scosh less salt and maybe add another green like spinach or arugula to help balance the prosciutto flavor. The day ended with a bit of sunshine. Perfect.

hori hori dig dig!

Seattle Tilth-tastic

September 5, 2009

I made it to a Seattle Tilth garden crew volunteer session this morning. It rained earlier, and it has been one of those pre-fall, blustery, it might rain again kind of days, but warm enough to wear a t-shirt. I love days like this! Perfect gardening weather. I think I should explain a bit more about what Seattle Tilth is about and why I love them. Tilth’s mission is this:

“Seattle Tilth inspires and educates people to garden organically, conserve natural resources, and support local food systems in order to cultivate a healthy urban environment and community”

Next week is the annual Harvest Fair. I’ve been meaning to go for 2 years now and this year I will be volunteering most of the day at the event. I can’t wait. Harvest Fair is a celebration of local food, teaching people about urban gardening, raising urban livestock, eating fresh food and getting together with the community. I think food brings people together and I’m looking forward to learning from all the gardeners and gardener hopefuls (like me)! Also, Tilth has a children’s garden. How cute is that?

P1010933

Today, at the Good Shepherd Center location in Wallingford I harvested lemon cucumbers (so, so cute), tomatillos, basil, beans, tomotoes and chard. We also weeded the garden and prepared a bed for cover crops to let the soil rest a bit.

P1010936

Here is my bounty from today! I am going to make chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa this weekend. M’mmmmmm….

P1010940

hori hori dig dig!

I love Cafe Presse

August 29, 2009

I absolutely love Cafe Presse in Capital Hill. This is me, shouting it from the rooftop…of my boyfriend’s house. I love it. Why? Where else can you get an amazing latte so rich and tasty you almost lose control, while reading your favorite cooking magazine that you purchased at the newstand before sitting down, and occasionally catching a glimpse of a world soccer game on the tele, all while noshing on the Oeufs Plats, jambon, fromage for breaky? Lord have mercy… as I live and breathe, this is my version of heaven on earth.

I asked our waitress if the owner would ever consider opening a Presse in Ballard, because as you city dwellers know, we don’t often like to travel all the way across town (less then 5 miles) to go dine. She didn’t think so. In the event that the owner of Cafe Presse (also the owner of the lovely Le Pichet at the Market) ever reads my blog:

Sir, I beg of you, please PLEASE consider opening a french cafe in Ballard! I realize that Bastille just opened here and yes, they do have a beautiful french restaurant, but I’ll tell you this, they don’t deliver when it comes to breakfast. When I want a Croque Madame so good that it makes me speak in tongues, I come to you. Therefore, you should come to Ballard. We Scando’s would welcome you with open arms.

P1010895

P1010891

P1010893

P1010889

hori hori dig dig!

My rose bush bloomed!

August 29, 2009

Success! This spring I mail ordered a few rose bushes from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. I have a small patio area that doesn’t get more then 1-2 hours of sun each day. I wanted a climber that would provide some greenery on my cement patio wall. Almost every plant called for more sun than my location could supply, so I did a bit more research. It turns out the Darlow’s Enigma climbing rose bush does really well in full shade.

I just noticed this bloom this morning. There is a cluster of buds surrounding it.

P1010887

Spontaneous clapping ensued.

hori hori dig dig!

Well truth be told Delancey isn’t fancy, but it’s damn good pizza. The atmosphere is simple. The chairs and tables don’t match and the walls are white with some nice framed photography. I’m not really a crust-eater, but I couldn’t help myself at Delancey. Their sauce is perfect. This place just opened in Ballard (north on 15th, rt. on 70th and look for the line of hungry folks). They don’t have a sign.

Delacey has a decent wine list. It is pretty hot in there because of the wood fire oven, but a nice cold glass of Rose’ while waiting will take your mind off the heat. It will be a welcome retreat in the cold/rainy winter. I can’t even imagine what kind of wait there will be then. We waited over an hour the other night for a table/bar seat. They don’t take reservations (but you can call ahead and put your name on the list). While we were there The New York Times food critic walked in with the chef from Sitka and Spruce and few other foodies from Seattle.

P1010881

P1010879

P1010883

Wood-fired pizza seems to be taking off in Seattle. Veraci Pizza recently opened in Ballard as well. They have traveling wood-fire ovens. I had their pizza at the Ballard Farmer’s Market this summer. It was really good. I’ve heard you can rent their ovens for events. Restorante Picalinos in Sunset Hill (north Ballard) just added a wood-fired oven for pizza. I haven’t tried it yet. Of course there is always Tutta Bella and Via Tribunali. They have been around for quite some time here in Seattle and have locations all over the city. I like their pizzas very much. What I like about Tutta Bella and Via Tribunali: they have gelato. M’mmmm…

hori hori dig dig!

Portage Bay Cafe recently opened in Ballard. I learned my lesson the last time I tried the new Portage Bay Cafe in South Lake Union. I waited a while before attempting to have breaky at the new location so that all the kinks would be worked out. There is nothing worse than a bad breakfast experience!

P1010877

First, let’s discuss the toppings bar. I’ve never experienced such a thing before dining at Portage Bay. The toppings bar consists of a large bar-height table that is filled with large bowls of all things sweet and delicious. Whipped cream, butter, blueberries, strawberries, brown sugar, syrup, nuts (not my favorite as I am allergic, but for those of you who are nut fans…I gather you would enjoy it). You get the idea. Lord have mercy… I could just roll around on that table (sans nuts)!

There is always a line at PBC for this reason: the food is great. Breaky is a treat for me. I have a fruit smoothie every day during the week for breakfast, so having someone cook me eggs, bacon (you will often here me rant about how much I love bacon) and french toast is simply delightful. At PBC they serve you coffee while you wait, and they are kind enough to cover their entry way with posters of events happening around town. A little reading material for you. How nice. Today we sat at the bar, so we didn’t have to wait as long.

PBC is also just a hop, skip and jump from the Ballard Locks, so you can take a nice little stroll after your trip to the toppings bar. You can enjoy the gardens, fish ladder and watch the boats go through the locks (there is always some good boat drama!).

hori hori dig dig!

P1010875

P1010878

The Frye Museum is Free

August 23, 2009

Yesterday I finally made it to the Frye Museum! I had no idea it was free. It was the perfect thing to do on a nice Saturday afternoon. They currently have a puppet exhibit; now, there are a few things that creep me out, and puppets/clowns/spiders pretty much sum it up. I really enjoyed the exhibit, but there was one room that had about 7 puppets on strings. I think every 20 minutes or so the show would play automatically, but I was not about to stick around. I just knew the minute those things started moving on their own, I would be caught off guard and run screaming from the room!

They had another exhibit called Bringing Munich Home that I liked as well. There was an oil painting by Alexander Max Koester called Moulting Ducks that was my favorite. It had beautiful lighting and soft tones.

If you get a chance, you should check it out. Don’t forget to donate on your way out! The Frye is definitely worth the trip. The Seattle Art Museum is also a must see. Enjoy!

P1010870

P1010872


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.