Last week so much time was spent on kickball and on Friday’s dinner (drool over the menu here) that I hardly had time for anything else. It went by in a rush. It took me until today to get caught up on … Continue reading
6 years ago today I was in La Rochelle, France. Probably on my way down to the shore–taking in the hot, salty Atlantic Ocean air and looking for new vantage points out into the harbor. Or I might have been … Continue reading
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. In case you missed it, I announced plans earlier in the week to start a food truck here in Seattle. Getting ready to go big has made life busier than … Continue reading
This is a post for World Party Day, which is coming up April 3rd. If you don’t know much about it, you can find out more here, and catch up on the previous tutorials at Big Things, who are organizing … Continue reading
Sometimes you need to buy something that you wouldn’t normally consider buying. Like non-fat milk. Wait, I never buy that. Ok. A better example might be kirsch, which I found myself buying last week and I chose to buy Monarch … Continue reading
A couple of years ago we started having people for New Year’s Day brunch, which was I guess some sort of weird indication that we were becoming grown ups or whatever. It was the year after we bought a house, so maybe that had something to do with it. The first couple of years we spent the entire day totally hungover, but the hangover has slowly become less and less.
This year instead of a brunch I prepared a four course dinner for a few close friends, and we just ate and drank and ate some more, and then we watched Bridesmaids. It was one of my favorite NYEs ever, and I’ve had some pretty amazing ones.
We spent the afternoon in the sun: a very welcome change for the start of the year. One that I hope will be a good sign of things to come. It’s been a dark December.
One thing this means we missed out on was the annual NYD tradition that started that first year, one we like to call “Eat the Year.” It is pretty much what it sounds like. We make an edible “20**” and then we consume it as a group. There has also almost always been some sort of skype/gchat thing happening, the most notable being a bi-coastal dance party. Over gchat. Moving on.
|Original Eat the Year. We were a little egg crazy: new chickens, and someone brought duck eggs|
Well this year we did “Eat the Year” over gchat with some of the original creators and it was great. We had to eat all of it ourselves, since we were the only ones here, but it was good just to see the smiles on those friends faces as we just said hi for a minute and talked about what they year might bring (building more shelves, obviously).
|Good bye, 2011. You rocked.|
For me, this simple tradition is just a way for us to mark the start of the year with the people that really matter to us. We feed our bodies with the food, we feed our heads with the idea of a fresh thing, and we feed our hearts and souls with a meal made with hope and love and joy in mind when it is made. It’s nourishing all around.
I hope the start of your year was as joyful and full of love as mine. Maybe this year you will start a new tradition, or find a way to keep up an old one that maybe needs some of the dust brushed off of it. And however you spent the time ringing in 2012, I hope it is the best year yet.
Today was supposed to be the happiest day for two people. One person: A beautiful, witty and truly unique lady. The other: A fantastic, generous, wacky, brilliant guy.
Spike, today was going to be your day. You finally found your dreamboat, Grace. Who seemed to come from nowhere into your life and we, your friends, welcomed her as your soul mate.
Grace, today was going to be your day. You found the match made just for you, Spike. Who adored you so much. It was beautiful to see, and with ease and open arms we made you a part of our “family.”
But today was not to be what you intended. It went off not according to plans, and while the love is still there and will forever be, it has been rendered intangible–just a memory. Some of the best memories that people who knew Spike could ever hope to have.
But, in all this, Spike would not have wanted too much sadness. He was all about life, living, giving, loving, building and creating. He would not have wanted us to feel like anything was amiss, he would want us only to build something new from the pieces we were left holding. Spike built things for all of us. Thing we can hold in our hands, and things we can hold in our hearts. The things in our hearts are the more important of the two, but sometimes it helps to see the bits and pieces you left behind you. The little handmade treasures that we took for granted while you were still here.
I can’t speak for the huge community of people that Spike’s life touched. I can only speak for myself. I am going to build something for you Spike, and I know just what it will be.
I was going to build it for today, for you both, but now I will build it for tomorrow. For the lives you would have touched. For the lives who will go on remembering you. It will be a little different than we planned, but it will be special nonetheless, and it will be sweeter than ever before. Because, it will have a little something extra–a little Spike, if you will, in the batter. It will be the best cake you ever had, Spike Perry, and even though you won’t get to eat any, we will all think of you when we sit down to enjoy it.
But even more than that, we will enjoy the company we savor it with, because that’s how you would have wanted it.
We had a busy busy weekend here. We attended a wedding; we hosted an out of town guest, took her to pick raspberries, and shared a scrumptious picnic with her; I baked some delicious cakes; and oh yeah, I competed in my first triathlon. No biggie.
So because it was such a busy weekend, I was surprised how many raspberries survived through it. They don’t last long once they are picked, and having picked them Friday, I expected a much bigger mess by the time I got around to them on Sunday afternoon. Instead, I was pleased to find that I was able to freeze one whole tray of them, leaving me with just enough berries for only a 2/3 batch of jam. (Not that this is a problem, as I have lots of plans for other jams and jellies this year…)
We didn’t pick that many to begin with. The farm we visited had a small number of rows, and since it is just about the end of the season here for berries anyway, I didn’t expect to hit gold or anything. We were able to just about fill one good sized box before Lilli got too hungry and we had to call it quits.
We also were able to stuff ourselves silly, which is really the point of U-pick berries anyhow, as any good berry picker knows.
Since I already went berry picking twice before the raspberries last week, (the blueberries, and also some blackberries growing down the block from me, for the delicious cakes I mentioned earlier) I was kind of picked out anyway. I had fun and got to visit with a friend I haven’t seen in years. Tamara is living in Baltimore, and has done at least a hundred exciting things between this visit and when we shared a tiny room in Cannoneer Court on Pratt Institute’s campus in Brooklyn (where I attended one depressing semester before putting my tail between my legs and heading home. Tamara was not, however, responsible for any of that depression.)
It’s a wonder I even managed to get to the berries on Sunday as it was, since that was the day of the race. I competed in the Danskin triathlon here in Seattle, finishing in just under 2 hours. I was quite surprised at how well I did, considering I really didn’t feel that ready. I took a nice long nap afterwards and felt revived enough to deal with the berries before making some dinner (back on LEAP this week, but that’s another story altogether, which I hope to share soon but has been so hard to write about…I don’t know where to start).
I slowly picked through what there was in the box. I fed a few to Lilli to keep her from climbing all over me while I sorted them. I slowly filled the tray and put it in the freezer. I put the rest in a pot, 4 heaping cups, and poured some sugar over. Then, I forgot all about the berries and the pot sat there for a couple of hours.
Later, I brought it all to a boil. At this point I realized I once again could not remember exactly how many minutes to boil the jam for, so I had to call my mom since my family recipe cookbook is MIA.
I forgot to stir it during the second boil, but I did remember the
I think it’s fair to say that by now I had come to terms with the fact that I was actually pretty exhausted and I could feel the soreness creeping in. Triathlons will do that, I guess.
I also forgot to ask Joe to buy lemons when he went shopping (which, by the way, writing the list for was the hardest thing I had done in a while. I think that’s when I figured out how out of it I was.) so I had to use lemon juice from a bottle. I was worried it wouldn’t have as much thickening power, but really it was fine.
And today, I put it in jars. And I started to deal with the 50 lbs of apricots I impulse bought. And I got ready for the rest of the summer, which will involve canning lots of things, if the past 4 or 5 summers have been any indicator of my canning habits. It usually begins with the jams and ends with pickles or pumpkin butter and apple sauce. This year, who knows?
You can use raspberries or blackberries with this jam, and probably other ones too but I’ve never tried because I love raspberries and blackberries so much–I sometimes put rhubarb in the raspberry jam, though. It’s pretty much out of this world delicious.
6 heaping cups fruit
3 cups sugar, halved. Sometimes more for blackberries, if they’re very tart
juice of one lemon
You may need to rinse your berries before you start. Raspberries are generally clean enough, but pick them over to make sure there aren’t any bugs or sticks or cores left. Blackberries, I find, are often full of thorns and bits of plant. The best way to rinse them is to fill a bowl with water, dump the pre-measured berries in, and slowly skim off the stuff that floats to the top, occasionally giving a gentle stir to make sure you release all the unwanted stuff. Scoop the berries into a colander and go from there.
Bring the berries and the first cup and half of sugar to a boil. Boil for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the second cup and a half of sugar bring back to a boil and boil for three minutes, again stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Poor into a clean, non reactive bowl and let set up overnight.
Poor into clean, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth. In our family, we seal the jars with wax. I think this is because my grandmother dislikes canning, and so this is an easy way to seal them without having to process them. I have always been too lazy myself to figure out how to do it any other way with this particular jam, but I’m sure you could process them for real. Otherwise, just pour about 1/4 inch of melted parowax over the top of the jam, let cool and then put your lids on. If you’re new to canning and the thought of processing scares you a bit, this is a great way to start while you get up the courage to try the whole kit and caboodle. Happy canning!
When I was younger, I had a large box of postcards from all over. Some were sent to me, and others were postcards that I picked up along the road. I have slowly used them to mail love letters and notes of endearment, or just to say hi to friends not seen in too long.
I guess you could say it was a collection. I don’t collect a lot of things. Not counting things I need for my pastry work, like cookie cutters and other kitchen tools, I really only have a couple. I have an amount of scarves that some might say was excessive. I don’t have a lot of shoes or jewelry or art. I do however love to collect unique glasses. I only ever buy one of each, even when there is a whole set. Joe has tried unsuccessfully to help me get rid of them, but I finally convinced him that “wouldn’t it be so much better if someday we could have a large gathering and assign everyone in attendance a special glass to call their own for the evening?” So I have collected more. This week I found not one, not two, but three! new-to-me glasses that were all special in their own way. Yay!
I can also admit to collecting recipes and things that I can check off of some imagined list as having done to feed myself, both literally speaking and in a more philosophical sense.
|This is our car, full of boxes. The boxes are full of beef.|
Like last week, when we brought home a whole beef to split 4 ways with friends; and how I made mayonnaise from scratch; or when I played Iron Chef with our diets for the week, cooking with only about 20 ingredients as part of a strict elimination diet to help my stepsons rid themselves of food allergies.
It was a good week for collecting food memories. And so was Sunday, when we celebrated making it through a whole week of said elimination diet. To be fair, we celebrated after those very same stepsons went to their mom’s house for the week. I made burgers from some of the ground beef that came as part of our share of the beef.
The best part of all of this, as if it could even get any better, is that everything was homemade or homegrown, not counting the beef itself or the buns. The buns were my only downfall. I baked so much this week that I could not bring myself to make them from scratch, though I think it would have been amazing if I had somehow found the energy to do so.
And I got to collect a little kernel of knowledge from last night’s dinner: it’s true what they say. It really does taste so much better when you grow it and make it yourself. I collected a memory of the three of us, Joe and Lilli and me, sitting on the deck, eating the best burgers we’ve ever eaten, as a family. In the sun, with the laundry drying behind us and the soft cackle of our crazy flock of chickens below us.
Last week was rough for me, and trying to make the best of it wasn’t always a success. But last night, I felt better than I felt in a while. I didn’t even care that the camera battery was dead forcing me to take most of the pictures of dinner with my phone while the battery charged up for dessert.
It was just nice to remember that collecting the little things is what counts the most.
Joe took the boys to Yellowstone. They will be gone for a whole week. I missed him pretty much the minute he left.
We’ve never really spent that much time apart since meeting almost 6 years ago. There was the odd vacation here and there spent with family, etc. in the beginning of our relationship, and we spent almost a week apart just before our wedding. We’ve been together almost everyday since.
But last month, we discovered that Lilli doesn’t like road trips as much as we do, so I missed a trip to Lake Chelan when school got out. And now I am missing a long awaited trip to Yellowstone, and Lilli and I are hanging out all alone, just the two of us.
|The cilantro that’s as tall as me.|
It is a small consolation that I got to plan a menu for them to eat while they were out in the Wilds of the West. There was an assortment of easy camping fare, like hotdogs to cook on sticks and mac’n'cheese from a box. And then there were those homemade bagels I was teasing you with last week (which I’ll get around to writing about in due time…the recipe is a doosey). But by far the best thing in the cooler was the empanadas.
I’ve been wanting to try homemade empanadas for some time. I love pie, and we eat a lot of NW style Mexican food (is that a thing?) at home. Empanadas are like mexican pies you can hold in your hand. How can you go wrong? We are also growing a ton of cilantro, so I knew that I would have the best accompaniment possible for the big pot of black beans making empanadas would give me the excuse to cook up. I found a good recipe for the dough here, but wanted to make my own filling.
I doubled the batch of dough, since we were eating them that night and I wanted to have some to send camping with the guys. It worked out great, but could have been a touch more flaky. I think you could use pretty much any standard, unsweetened, pie dough.
I used little new red potatoes, some caramelized onions, and black beans. I boil my own beans–I like the satisfaction of seeing them go from dry little beans to big, plump delivery systems of flavor. I usually forget to soak them the day before, which results in the softest bean. I almost always end up boiling them for a minute or two early in the day, and then letting them soak for several hours in the water. After that, you need to switch the water before you continue cooking them, which is the best part because you pour off this thick, black, inky water from boiling the beans. I always fantasize about what I could use that water for, but so far I haven’t come up with anything good.
When we ate them last week, we had my Dad and Step-mom over for dinner. I served a big salad, of course–made with very thin sliced cabbage, lettuce from the garden, radishes and celery, with a lime vinaigrette. Eating salad, for me, is the best part of the day. I can turn anything into a salad and if it has it’s own special dressing, that is even better. The empanada part of the meal was the biggest hit though, paired with cilantro sour cream and a healthy dose of hot sauce.
|A little surprise in the cilantro.|