The second act


breakfast from side.jpg

When you have eaten the best meal of your life, it is hard to know where the one to top it will come from and you are likely to think it will be somewhere new.  Standing on the ferry dock, I looked around noticing how different it felt then it had a year and a half before.  The sky was beginning to fade, slowly; the hot sun had been replaced with a misty rain and a hint that winter was closer than anticipated.  Buddy stumbled out of the car and left his mark before curling back up in his bed, but Ginger decided she was in a hurry to get to our destination.  She squatted on the sand to lighten her load and then made a bee-line for the dock.  She ran past the cars and her tail wagged eagerly as her tall legs took her closer and closer to the waters edge.

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Panic swept over me as I realized she was still faster than I was, and as you may know, definitely has a mind of her own.  I ran awkwardly behind (and I’m sure we were quite a sight to the others waiting for the ferry), but I luckily caught her before she was able to plunge happily off the end of the dock.  Ginger knew where we were headed, back to the Willows Inn.  Best meal of my life, and a favorite puppy adventure spot.



Tom and I refreshed after hauling our things from car up the hill and then up the steps to the cottage.  I’m sure to the kitchen staff in the windows nearby that it looked like we were moving in.  Nothing like a little workout before a grand indulgence!  We tucked the kids into their beds before heading down to the lounge for a cocktail.  Stepping in from the cold, damp air, we were immediately warmed by the heat of a blazing fire and the room was filled with a wonderfully smokey aroma and the sounds of laughter and chatter.


There were only two seats open, next to a shelf filled with jars of island preserves of dried herbs and even creatures from the sea.  Above the shelf was a windowless opening that looked over the bar which was tucked back in it’s own cozy room.  We ordered our cocktails (two Dogwoods made with apple cider and rye) and sat back to take in the scene.  Even though our dinner reservations weren’t until the next evening, we felt as if we were guests at a grand dinner party.

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As the dinner hour began, we sat cozily sipping our cocktail in the parlor while everyone else was escorted to their seats.  Soon plates of food came from the kitchen being delivered to the guests.  What a wonderful scene, we had the best seat in the house to watch the magic unfold.  Suddenly to our surprise, a warm brick with the most amazing roasted sunflower root sitting on top arrived.  We smiled, what a treat to wrap up the beverages with before our lazy departure.  We savored their sweetness and the accompanying sweet onion puree, was literally finger-licking good.  Then, out of the blue, a plate of perfectly prepared, delicate chanterelles were set before us, and followed by two of the freshest oysters topped with rose hip granita.  As yet another plate arrived, I very guiltily reminded our server that we weren’t joining for dinner until the following night.  His reply “Oh I know, but we’re feeling nice.”, with a wink. “Plus, it doesn’t mean your not important.”…

Feeling as though that was enough to be the perfect dinner, we snuck out the back and headed around the island to the Beach House Cafe across from the ferry dock. Again, warm and inviting, but casually, country pleasant.


Our sweet server, serving the table behind us.

We had a sweet server and enjoyed a wonderful meal of fried cornish hen, spaghetti bolanaise and a delightful salad of apples, goat cheese and beets.  We went to bed that night in anticipation of the Inn’s breakfast the next morning.  On our previous visit, when we had stayed for the first time, we woke up on a Monday; no breakfast service on that day and had wondered, what if?

amouse with menu

We, of course, were late to the dining room, sneaking in just prior to the 11:00am close.  Luckily, a foursome was still there and another followed shortly after us so we were not left to dine alone.  The menu was somewhat odd, I remember thinking.

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Soon I would realize, each bite was in harmony with the others and I was about to eat what would be the best breakfast of my life.

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As we sat in the parlor after finishing our meal, sipping the remains of our champagne, the once quiet kitchen began to awaken.  It seemed like an easy melody at first, starting out quietly, slowly building up to, what would eventually end in a crescendo.  The air began filling with smells that were reminiscent of the holidays.  I half expected a little grandmother to come ask me if I wanted tea.  We were completely alone in the room, other than the fire, yet directly behind us, merely 15 steps away, was a most elaborate production unfolding.  Dinner preparation was underway and many hours of work ahead by the dedicated staff.  Among them was Blaine himself, just recently returning from his book release in New York the night before.



There was a promise of rain, but for now, we had dry skies and took advantage of it by heading down to the beach where, once again, we were completely alone.  The sandy shores were speckled with remnants tossed up from the ocean.  Ginger and Buddy frolicked, wearing themselves out once again.


Warming up after the romp in the sand.



tomSoon it would be time for the second act, and another perfect meal…


blaine.jpg…the best meals of our lives!

Humble Pie


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When I was about to graduate from Cornish, I volunteered to head up the committee to organize the food for our BFA show.  Of course, my role was related to food, because in hind-sight, that was my real passion.  We had an extremely limited budget though, so I painstakingly got on the phone to companies around town to ask them to donate food for the event.  To my surprise, as hard as it was for me to actually bring myself to make the calls, I found it exhilarating!  I was, in-fact, pulling together an amazing menu through my efforts and loved the connections I was making to our local community.

The toughest phone call I made was to Marcella Rosene, Founder of Pasta & Co (now owned by Kurt Beecher Dammeier from Sugar Mountain Foods).  She was my idol.  Pasta & Co was the type of store I wanted someday, to own.  When I called her, she seemed so personableSo friendlySo real!  She did not donate her food but she gave us an amazing deal and personally came to the event to set it up on beautifully stark white platters with handwritten labels describing each dish.  It was so perfect!

Meeting her in-person was pivotal for me.  I was absolutely floating after the event and probably should have gone into event planning, catering, or something else, right then and there!  But I didn’t.  I went on to work in my chosen field of Commercial Interior Design at one of the largest architectural firms in the country, actually, the world.  Years into this job, I begin to long for a career involving food (which is why I moonlighted at Etta’s Seafood two days a week for Tom Douglas).

I wanted to reach out to Marcella once again, but this time on a personal quest.  I wanted to take her to lunch and ask her advise.  I wanted to know how she got started, what it would take for me to get started, and how hard the journey would be if I embarked on one.

I never did.  I was too afraid to pick up the phone, or simply, even send an email.

After the company sold, Marcella stayed on as a vital employee and continued to leave us all feel that she was still the owner.  I was secretly disappointed that it hadn’t been me that was fortunate (or wealthy enough) to be the one that had taken over the reins of her wildly successful food model.  I still didn’t call her or write.  Ugh.

Some twenty years later, I am still a designer and am still in love with the world of food, and still love shopping at/eating from Pasta & Co.  More recently, I have wanted to reach out to people like Molly WizenbergKathleen Flinn, Amy Pennington and Jess Thompson, but for years, have been far too intimidated.

Me, intimidated, how ironic, since I have been told often that I, myself, am intimidating (me?)!

I am an introvert and while I might be loud sometimes and talkative (even a “fast talker”), I am happier huddled up in my kitchen with the other eight legs (Ginger and Buddy), a glass of wine, and my pots and pans, cooking.  The music is always on and Tom is usually hanging around fixing or cleaning something or conversing, a safe distance from under-foot. I talk about things I want to do and people I want to reach-out to, but never do.

This year at the International Food Blogger’s Conference, I actually met Kathleen Flinn, Jess Thompson and Amy Pennington (and still hope to meet Molly one day, but she wasn’t there, that I’m aware of).  I also listened to them speak their wisdom and I did, in-fact, hang on every word!  One of the big come-aways from this event, for me, was that the people we look up to or admire, are real people and are often quite approachable.  They too are passionate about what they do and are actually inclined to help others reach their goals as well; sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

Kathleen Flinn, author of “Burnt Toast Makes you Sing Good” and “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry”,  spoke about journalism writing.  She holds writing classes which you can find out about at her website. I sat in the front row but was caught off guard when she called on me.  I was completely unprepared to answer the simplest of questions “What is your Blog about”? (note to self – apologize for that!!!… and figure out a better answer).

From IFCB’s 2015 Website Agenda:  “Hungry for Words: Journalism 101 for Food Bloggers” :  “Get a crash course from award-winning author and former journalist, Kathleen Flinn, in the fundamentals taught at J-school and exercised by working journalists. You’ll move from Who/What/When/Where/How/Why to methods for conducting successful research, working with the AP style guide and interview techniques. We’ll also cover the elements that define good explanatory journalism (which includes most food writing). Finally, the session will shift to some basic reporter tactics, including designing your own “beat,” developing sources, keeping a tickler file and developing an editorial calendar. Even if you’ve got a recipe-based blog, this jam-packed session is aimed to help you avoid embarrassing mistakes, organize your thinking and make your work feel more professional. Hopefully, it will also inspire you to reach beyond your comfort zone and look at old subjects with a new, more inquisitive perspective.”

Jess Thompson spoke at a session, author of the food blog Hog Wash and co-author (most recently for Renee Erickson’s book,  A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus).  I introduced myself after her talk.  I wish I had been more prolific in what I said (or at least been myself) because she is the type of person I would be friends with if I had gone to school with her.  She and I might have been best friends (if we had actually met).

From IFBC’s 2015  Website Agenda:  “(Writing): Honing the Craft “:  “No blog succeeds without good writing. Join award-winning food writer Jess Thomson (Hogwash) as she explores what makes personal narrative work, how she’s developed her voice, and where her own writing process starts. She’ll identify the tenets of good memoir, and lead a writing exercise that allows participants to put their new knowledge to use immediately. (View her presentation here).”

Amy Pennington, author, cook, farmer and all-around fancy, foot-loose food lover, wore many hats in marketing, working at and helping coordinate this (IFBC) event.  I was lucky enough to catch-up to her in the hall and introduce myself.  We have in common, personal tenures at Tom Douglas’ restaurant empire some many years past yet our paths never crossed back then.  She is very approachable and I hope to catch-up with her again in the future.

From Amy’s Website:  “OFFICIALLY: Amy Pennington is a cook, author, and urban farmer. She is the author of Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a ThriftySustainable and Seasonal Kitchen, Apartment Gardening, Apples from Harvest to Table AND Fresh Pantry – Learn to Love Your Vegetables, One Month at a Time. She is also the host of the PBS show Check, Please! Northwest. Pennington has been named one of Seattle Magazine’s 2013 Top 50 most powerful players in Seattle’s food scene and as a 2012 Bon Appetit Tastemaker. She has been featured in Bon Appetit, Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post,, and Apartment Therapy. She runs GoGo Green Garden, an urban farming service specializing in organic edible gardens for homes and businesses. Pennington lives in Seattle.”

Well, let’s cook!

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Humble (Apple) Pie – makes 4 individual pies

This is loosely adapted from Tom Douglas’ Apple Dumplings, a dessert he has had on his menu at Etta’s Seafood for years.  It is a long-time favorite of my Tom’s but one I do not often make (being a cook rather than a baker and all).  Mine is quite “humble” looking and yet, still extraordinary in taste.

Tom Douglas serves his with homemade cinnamon ice-cream and a maple sauce but it is just as fine with a good quality vanilla ice-cream or even just a dollop of creme fraiche.  Dusting the top with cinnamon is not a bad way to go either.  I use fresh figs rather than dates and use almost no sugar; it is sweet enough as it is with the apples.


2 apples, cut in half lengthwise
2 fresh figs, stemmed
2 tsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turbino sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Lemon juice to drizzle

1/2 recipe (or more as needed) pastry dough: (You can use many number of recipes but basically, add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 TB raw cane sugar, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 sticks chilled butter to a food processor.  Process and then add ice water in 1 TB increments until it comes together.

The butter should be chilled and sliced smallish when added to the mix.  The mix in the processor will seem wobbly but when removed will mold together like a good wad of Playdo.  Divide in half and press each half into a circle.  Cover with wrap and chill for an hour before proceeding.


Chop the figs, butter, cinnamon and salt together on a chopping board.  Add the balsamic and mush together.

Scoop the middle of each apple half to remove the seeds and create a small “bowl”.

Divide the fig mixture among each of the four apple halves; drizzle with lemon juice.


Roll out the pastry dough into a square (if possible). Cut the square into quarters. Cover each apple with a square and wrap it to encase the whole apple.  You might need another piece to cover the bottom but just tuck and wrap creating as messy or as neat of a package as you like.

Slice a few air holes into the top and place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake in a 400-degree, pre-heated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the apple is cooked through and the crust is slightly golden.  Serve hot from the oven.  They can be kept refrigerated until you are ready to use and then re-heated before serving.  They also freeze well.

IMG_5108We like apples…and figs!

A sure B.E.T. (bacon, egg & tomato breakfast sandwich)


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A few weekends ago, Tom and I went, willingly, excitedly, to an industry conference.  I know what you are thinking, “why would you do that, on your own dime and with no, business-associated, alterior motive?”.  I mean, let’s face it, conferences can be a bit of a bore.  The answer, in this case, of course?  Food!  Drink!  Like-minded souls!  And of course, my pals at Foodista and Zephyr Adventures (they did not pay me to say this; they just really know how to throw a party…um…event).

We write a Blog (well, I write a Blog and Tom edits), which of course, you all know.  You know, because you are reading this.  What you might not know, even if you are reading this, is how we actually make our living.  We are both designers and both love what we do, however, I love food more!  I do, so sue me.

I often feel like I should be making my living from something pertaining to food.  I should be that person you call when you need to cater the perfect party, or that place you go to when you want a beautifully constructed salad, or an easy to put on the table meal, or a bit of advice about where to buy the best duck breast (hint, it would be in my shop), find the best place to eat or simply read the best book (mine? aw shucks, so nice of you to say).

But that is in my pretend world.  In my real world, I design commercial spaces.  I should be blogging about design trends and Interior Design initiatives.  I should be telling you why we (designers) are valuable and should be paid more for our services, but instead, I tell you about what I cook, what we eat and how much we (Tom and I) love our pups, and food (in that order).  And I hope that is why you are reading this?

There was a time that nobody cared what people ate, how they cooked, or if they loved their dogs like children, or even family members.  What a great place food lovers live in now.  How thankful we all should be to those that paved the way to open up the possibilities of nutritional/social food awareness and the attainability of such things that were not attainable for most of us in the past.  How thankful we should be that our kids (even our four-legged, furry ones) are now able to eat healthier and therefore live healthier lives, all the while, thoroughly enjoying every bite.

I respect and applaud the many sponsors of this (IFBC) conference, as well as those that passionately put it together; they clearly care about what and how we all eat and experience food and drink.  There is a passion, a fire in the belly that those in the food industry have that goes beyond making money.  Similar to the design community, they don’t choose this industry to get rich, but rather to be rewarded with a rich life.  Hats off to all of you (except for Thierry, keep that hat on) that participated in IFBC Seattle this year and thank you Sheri, Barnaby, Amy and the rest of the team and generous sponsors that made it happen!

So, if you have a Blog, just love food or want to mingle with people that know about and can write about food, join us all next year in Sacramento for IFBC 2016.  Tom and I will be there, fork and glass in hand.  So we’ll see you there?  And to our new friend Jon, we will save you a seat!

tom and jonstacey and jon use this

B.E.T (bacon, egg, tomato sandwich)

This seems simple enough, I realize.  Most people think that of, say, a martini.  It is not simple though, I assure you.  There is a careful combination of ingredients required but most importantly, there is a requirement that those ingredients be the best.  Deviating to a lesser quality ingredient will produce an obviously lower quality product.  So, judge not the egg **muffin “likeness”.  This one will not disappoint.

I started with a perfectly toasted English muffin from Bay’s.  I did pick up a free pack at the conference, but I will definitely buy my own soon.  These are light and fluffy, reminding me of the fresh ones Tom brings me back from the restaurant Summer House in Maryland when on his business travels there (check out their really cool project Pike and Rose).

I then spread the bottom with a thickish layer of Skillet’s bacon jam (which, by the way, I was incredibly skeptical of since I don’t buy into the “signature” ever-popular take-home item that tends to be for sale by the restaurant du jour these days).  But if ever there was a good use for said jam, this sandwich is it (and since they mastered the fried chicken and waffle, I knew they could step this one up).

a good egg

Next came a sunnyside-up egg topped with white cheddar cheese.  Pop them into the oven and a mere 5 minutes later – heaven!  Okay, not actually heaven, but a really nice breakfast regardless and that is a darn good start to any day, plus a sure B.E.T!


dog days, by ginger


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G and B

We are dogs of leisure, Buddy and I.  We are also dogs of habit.  Habits change, from time-to-time, but behaviors are a constant.  I know this because I have been told that I have selective hearing.  I like to assess the rules before deciding to follow them…or not.  I am my Mother’s daughter that way.

Buddy is (mostly) a rule follower.  He likes to play by the book.  I would rather lick the book, or chew on the corner (just look at Mom’s first food journal) and then do it my way instead.  But he and I get along okay anyways, and sometimes we break the rules together.  He can be easy to persuade.


We must have been on really good behavior lately though, because Mom and Dad took us with them to a hotel for a mini-break.  We usually have to travel far to get to one of those places where we sleep somewhere else; like our grandparents’ or aunt/uncles’ but this one wasn’t very far away at all, and it was fancy.

When we pulled up, Buddy and I were thinking we would be sitting in the car for awhile, but instead, we were led inside to a grand lobby with soaring ceilings and stone floors, cool on the paws but not too slippery for clumsy Buddy.  And of course, not before getting to tinkle on a manicured lawn (don’t tell no one that Buddy tinkled on the sidewalk instead).

Up we went in an elevator (which I hate, but that is another long story itself).  Buddy and I were giddy with excitement for whatever the other side of the door would reveal.  It was spectacular!  Plush carpet (again I’m sure so Buddy wouldn’t slip), soft lights and nobody else in sight!  We ran down the hall past our room and Mom had to chase us while Dad used a magic card to open the door.  We ran inside, still tethered together on a single leash, but then Mom did her usual annoying critique.  Was it high enough, cute enough, with the right view, and blah…blah…blah!  She is always questioning things; but I guess, so am I.   Buddy didn’t mind that we were only on the 2nd floor and that the room was much smaller than the one we sleep in at home.

I immediately went into explorer mode and while off-leash, was still tethered to my brother and I drug him around with me.  Yes, this in fact, was an adventure!   A time to get away…if only for a day.   Plus, the best part – two doors opened up revealing a sweeping view to a sea of blue (which at first I thought was the Cote d’Azure, but was actually just a sea of tennis courts).

PS_gb out to blue
Oooooooh la la!

There was a waft of fresh air that required me to plant myself on my fluffy bed in the wake of it all so I could comfortably sleep the afternoon away, breathing in the air and my brother’s scent, long into the evening.

PS_ on beds

Yes, our parents left us for something other than us, but we had gotten sleepy by then anyways.  They did come back to wake us and were happy too, plus the evening was late yet still warm.  Mom took us outside by way of the plush hall, scary elevator and spacious room.  My brother and I took longer than we needed to because the night was so perfect and warm.  We love exploring new places, smelling smells that are unfamiliar yet, all at once, exciting!

PS_turn down serviceI even provided the turn-down service!

That night, we behaved.  Our behavior did change!  We slept longer and deeper than normal even tho we had a late nap.  And we didn’t wake up our parents until the light came into our room.  When we made Mom get dressed to walk us, the sun had already risen and the world was gloriously awake!  Mom didn’t agree that this was the perfect time to be awake; it was 5 am.

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Spy girl That is me up there.

When our parents got dressed and left us alone, they wore the same kind of clothes they wear when they leave us on the weekends.  This time though, they appeared again below us.  They began hitting a bright ball back and forth with a netted paddle.  We have seen them do this in the park sometimes but they were always getting mad at us for loudly cheering them on so they stopped taking us.  We decided that this time we might try being silent; sneakily peering from above and chewing our feet instead.  This must have been a good idea because they rewarded us for being good by taking us on another walk and then fed us our favorite home-cooked meal out of our special travel bowls.

buddys fuud

Buddy & Ginger’s Favorite Home Cooked Meal for Pups – by Ginger
Makes 4 pounds (enough to last Buddy 5 days; he is little but sometimes 12 pounds)

This is actually Buddy’s food but I like to eat it too.  I like to eat.  He is on a low protein diet because he is shaky and wobbly and something isn’t right with him but I don’t know what is wrong.  I just know that ever since he started getting poked with a needle every night to let liquid fill up his skin, we both started eating something different than we used to eat and we each have our own flavor.  Mine has more meeat which Buddy would rather eat and his has more vegetables which is more my kind of thing.  I always get to taste his though, especially if he leaves some stuck at the far end where he can’t reach and it is usually really good except when Mom uses zucchinis (the only vegetable I really hate, except celery…well, and cucumbers).  Buddy is weird and like those things.  Then again, he’ll eat fuzz off the floor.

I have always had a healthy diet but believe you me, ever since we switched to this whole, non-process food, I feel like a young pup again and Buddy has gone from crazy not eating at all to inhaling his food and getting it all over and then tries to eat mine.  Sometimes a lady named Shelly makes the food for us and sends it to the house and sometimes Mom makes it herself.  When Mom makes it, she uses 25% protein, then splits the rest with equal parts vegetable/fruit and carbs.  She then adds nutrition and supplements provided by Shelly at Paws Custom Pet Food nearby and when mommy forgets, late at night she can order it on her computer.  Below is our favorite mix from Mommy and I had her type the numbers (although Buddy would prefer there was more meeeet)!


1/2 lb chicken hearts
1/2 lb ground lamb
1/2 lb carrots (peeled and chopped)
1/2 lb sugar snap peas in the shell (stem end removed)
6-8 oz cooked sweet potato
6-8 oz cooked brown rice
6-8 oz cooked garbanzo beans (drained of liquid)
4 oz fresh figs
4 oz fresh blueberries
2 oz cabbage leaves, sliced
2 tsp nutritional supplements from Paws Custom Pet Food (Buddy’s has the added kidney/liver supplements with holistic herbs such as turmeric and milk thistle)


Mom adds some olive oil to a sauté pan (just a tiny bit) and then cooks the chicken hearts until they are no longer pink inside.  This takes about 10 minutes.  She always eats a few herself so I make sure I stare so she feels the need to share with me too.  When those are done cooking she sets them aside to cool.

Next she cooks the lamb, right in the same pan.  She buys the grass fed lamb that doesn’t get all oily on the bottom of the pan.  When I eat grass I barf, so I’m glad I’m not a lamb.  She doesn’t add any salt or pepper and “tests” so much of it herself that I worry about if any makes it into Buddy’s food.

While that is cooking, she cooks the sweet potato in the oven after stabbing it with a knife (scary).  She says all of the ingredients need to be cool when she mixes them so that it stays fresh longer.

Next, she puts everything into a big bowl on her electric chopper thing and turns it on.  It is so loud and I can’t even hear very well; this is my least favorite part (daddy’s too).

That’s it!  Easy huh?  Make it for your pups!  Now lets eat!

love ginger

A Number’s Game


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Little meaning can be put to some things, yet much meaning can be put to many things; take numbers, for example.  We use numbers to measure things, much of the time.  We measure ingredients, various aspects of our pups/kids lives, our personal “status”, and of course… our age.  Much of the time though, those numbers can mean rather little (in the grand scheme of things), unless you want them (or let them), mean everything.

I turn (bleep) this month (tomorrow, actually).  I don’t usually know what age I am turning on the month of my birth (mostly because I think I have already been that age the year before) and doubt that, give one year, or even two, it really means much more than the last.  It is just a number, not a real age; certainly not the age that I feel (well, most days)!  Not the age that I actually am!  In two years time (again) though, I would like to accomplish a task.  This is a task I thought I would accomplish by thirty, and then forty, and, well…it is still a task (and a dream).  I want to write a book.  But I have been writing a book!  For ten… no, fifteen years!!!  Not really writing a book so much as just, writing (and reading, and living, and cooking, and dreaming)!

I have words to say, words to be read, and sentiments to be taken to heart.  I have food to be prepared, shared, and techniques to teach and happiness to be spread.  I have something to give, something to receive, and hopes to fulfill.  Life is busy, and complicated, and full, even when my belly isn’t.  Life is delicious and generous, yet greedy at the same time.  I can be spontaneous today and shut-down the next.  I am joyful and expectant, yet scared to jump into the unknown.  Yet, I’d bet many of you feel the same way?

If there is one thing I have learned in my time here so far, it is this: live, love, and keep being a better person; to yourself, your family/friends, and those that you don’t even know.  Don’t take things that aren’t serious, so seriously.  Trust me, there are plenty of serious things that will be speed bumps along your way.

The three (best) pieces of advise I would give to a “young” person are these:

  1. Always wear sunscreen.  Even if there doesn’t seem to be sun.
  2. Be kind to your feet.  Please.
  3. And eat your vegetables.  Whether you have two legs or four.

Now I’m dating myself, but trust me on these!

and now…let us make cake!


soRry tO inTerrupt The regularly scheduled rEcipe; this just iN…

PS_B + G_7187

Psssst, buDdY and gInGer here an we wantted to make momMy a cake for her birthDay soo of course the obvious Choice is for us two make Carrot cake.  MoMmy doesnt Really know how too bake so the cake she made iz probably a Tiny healthier then most of uS would preffer.  sO we are Here 2 make sum thing bOth nutritious aNd Delicious.  we hopes sHe will share sum with us even thO we uzed butter and special flower.

we went heer for inspiration since we don’t know how to bake eether but since we can’t follow directions to good, it is a little difrunt.

we urge You to make this, not that Fig thing below, But our great cake:

PS_ginger tongue_4080

CARROT, CAKE by the numbers

loosely adapted from Alton Brown’s carrot cake

INGREDIENTS + steps 1 to 5

Step 1:  grate the Carrots and put in large bowl with the coConut

2 cups grated carrots

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Step 2:  mix the dry ingredients in

dry Ingredients:

2 cups “001” flour (soundz fancy, daDdy sez u can uze 007 to, we dont get it)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 TB cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

sum nutmeg

Step 3: Beat the wet ingredients minus the olive oil.  when creamy, drizzle the olive oil in with the beater going slow

wet ingredients:

3 TB butter

1/2 cup whole cane sugar (looks like a cross between turbino and brown sugar)

2 TB honey, sweety

2 large eggs

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup sour cream

Step 4:  mixx the Dry ingredients into the carrots and coconut

Step 5:  Mix the wet ingredients into the carrots and dry ingredients. Ooo, thats tricky


Step 6:  Transfer the mix to a buttered And floured cake pan (9” round or square, but no rectangles cuz thats not as Cute an We like cute).

Step 7:  Pree heat the oven to 375 degrees hot and bake for 30 minutes.  reduce the temperature to 300 degrees cooler and continue to cook until the inside of the cake equals 200 degrees (we stuk our paws in and it seemed gud to us after 30 minutes).

Step 8:  LeT cool in the cute Pan and then turn out onto a rack

Step 9: top with whippet cream cheeessse mixed with hunny.  Add Cute decorations – boNuS iF they can Be eated!

Step 10:  leT US eat Cake!!!

G B with slice_4091


Daddy, don’t blow out mom’s candle (ginGer thinks its fuNNy tho).


Now back to the originally scheduled recipe…

PS_I like better

Fig and Ricotta Cake (by the numbers)

When I told Tom what I was making, he said (often when I bake stuff), “You haven’t made that before; make what you know” (as I usually say for when we have company).

To that I replied, “Yes, but only for company.  Most of the time, you should just make it up and have fun”.

Step NUMBER 1:

Gather ingredients.


Dry ingredients:
1 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 cup amaranth flour (feel free to use all purpose flour for a tastier, less healthy cake)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 TB cinnamon
1 TB whole grain sugar
1 tsp baking powder

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
Approximately 1 pint (12-15 whole) fresh figs, cleaned, quartered with stems removed and discarded
2 TB raw honey
1 vanilla bean, inside scraped and outer part saved for another use
1 1/2 TB lemon juice (juice from 1-1/2 baby lemons)
14 oz whole milk ricotta (from a 16 oz tub, 2 oz reserved for topping the cooked cake)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk

Step NUMBER 2:

Mix the dry ingredients into a bowl.

Step NUMBER 3:

Beat the eggs, figs and honey together until the figs break down but are still showing skin.  It should be holding together but still a little bit liquified.

Step NUMBER 4:

With the mixer on, add the vanilla bean, lemon juice, ricotta, olive oil and beat until nicely blended and slightly creamy.

Step NUMBER 5:

Slowly stir the dry mix into the wet until blended.

Step NUMBER 6:

Pour the whole lot into an oiled cake pan and pop into an oven, preheated to 375 degrees F.

Step NUMBER 7:

Drizzle olive oil over in a circular motion.  Do the same with the honey.  With the back of a spoon, swirl them around the batter.  Pop the pan into the oven and set a timer for 45 minutes.


Step NUMBER 8:

Pour yourself a glass of rosé and wait for 30 minutes before checking in on the cake.  During this time, you should be spending quality time with your family…your friends.  Smell the air and rejoice.

Step NUMBER 8:

Check on the cake and you might need about 10-15 minutes more for a toothpick to come up clean.  If it is getting too dark on top, simply cover with foil and continue.  Remove to let cool slightly then turn it out onto a rack.

cake cooked1

Step NUMBER 9:

Cut a slice for you and your friends.  Top with a dollop of ricotta and a drizzle of honey.  Perhaps slices of figs and/or strawberries and blueberries.  Go free-form on this!

B candle

BG candle

Step NUMBER 10:

Eat cake (again?) later that evening… and don’t sweat the small stuff!


Food to remember + plus recipes to be written…someday!


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We document everything

We document everything.

I am not always documenting my food like I used to in days past.  The abandon of cooking, going free-form, is exquisite and in this busy life, a necessity.  Many things are spinning in my mind: work, play, working-out to de-stress, cooking (always cooking + food, good, good food) and now, teaching a class in the Fall.  The Summer has swept us away.  It has been hot, lovely, relaxing, plus stressfully busy at work.  As yoga brings me to a peaceful place, cooking brings me to a happy place.  Eating good food is a requirement of our happy life.  Writing it down has played a distant memory, for now!   I have typed a few versus as the weeks move on and those I will share here, if not only to remember (or hopefully have you ask me to remember) to do them again, but this time, just to write it down.  This Post will inspire me in the future.  I hope it inspires you today!


Beer-can chicken, flavored in-part, from a bottle of toasted sesame seeds with garlic and sea salt by Eden Organic called, Gomasio (so good).  Also used Kona coffee grounds and Maui Brewing Co. coconut stout ale with nothing else in the can. I put garlic and lemons in the cavity with only a little olive oil on the bird, no butter (but I think whole garlic cloves in skin on breast).  Cooked on our Mak wood pellet grill at 450-degrees indirect for about 2 hours with mesquite pellets (or was it hickory?, says Tom).  I think it was actually a combo of hazelnut left in the hopper and new hickory.  Served with home-made heirloom cannellini beans that were amazing with the chicken plus drippings from beans and fresh-grown garden lettuces.  Tom was in love.  He kept complimenting the dish more than usual!!!!  Perfectly cooked!  Yummy!  Oh, so damn good.  Moist and delicious.  Melt-in-your-mouth kind of yum!  I think he liked it!  I certainly did!!!  I didn’t get a picture though!

Next up…

lamb plate

lamb rack

Wood-smoked lamb rack covered in coffee grounds with smoked jalapeño-cherry sauce polenta and fresh garden lettuces.  We licked these greedily off the bones and the pups sucked the bones clean!  Moist and perfectly cooked on a 450-degree temp in the Mak.  First, seared over flame and then moved to indirect for ??10-15?? minutes. So good!  So, so, soooooo gooooood!  Do it again…and again, exactly this way!  If only I will be able to remember the way enough to actually write it down next time.


prep poblano

Chicken + black beans in fire-roasted poblano peppers with tomatillo sauce and mozzarella.  Have made this multiple times now and it has never disappointed us once!  Perfect for a Mexican-inspired craving and a nice hearty, late-night summer meal.  Smokey, sweet, hot and satisfying.  Easy to prepare and perfect for company too!

On to…


Lamb+beef burgers flavored with cilantro/parsley/cumin/garlic and served on an english muffin with PCC’s kale caesar salad and our own home-grown tomatoes – yum!!!!  I was not wanting to cook this night.  Truth be told, I really wanted to cook a fillet of salmon and serve it over a caesar salad because someone at work had done this very thing for lunch (yes, we have a grill outside at the office).  I was tired at the day’s end and had not been to the grocery market for a few days.  Once I got to market, the skies opened up and I found way too many things to buy.  This took time and I ended up with much less time to cook.

The stop at Gemini seemed indulgent since I had more than 4 pounds of meet in my bags from market (albeit, half was to cook the pup food).  In any case, I opted out from a Gemini stop and cooked half of the grass-fed beef and lamb for Buddy and Ginger instead.  I also made burger patties for Tom and I from the other half of their meat.  I flavored ours with ground cumin, chopped, fresh cilantro and parsley, plus a little Dijon, sea salt and pepper.  They were grilled in small patties on the Mak grill until medium.  We served them up in a bun of English muffin, smothered in freshly-made mayonnaise,

Then I really cheated…


PCC’s pepperoni pizza enhanced by me with Mama Lil’s Peppers turned out fantastic for a Friday night, movie night, outside!

But then I didn’t…

Tuna Niçoise for brunch – Photos are missing; imagination not hard to muster.  No dressing other than fresh lemon juice and olive oil.  Potatoes and green beans are stars but the hard-boiled eggs are a perfect accessory.  We used Blade’s albacore tuna which is a show stopper.  You can’t skimp on the quality if you want this to impress, or even if you just want to eat an amazing brunch that you will be oohing and awing over all morning.  A glass of crisp Albariño alongside is perfection.

Then I made something for Tom…

pasta for tom

Tom wants me to remember a pasta I made a few nights ago (or weeks ago now).  I had a few really good fully-cooked Italian sausage on hand.  I grilled one, then cut it to dice.  I cooked a 1/2 lb quinoa-pasta spaghetti and mixed it with about a 3/4 cup tomato sauce made the day before with a can of diced tomatoes, chopped garlic, a little red wine, oregano and basil (super simple).  These sausages were delicious from Olympia Provisions (I’m gonna’ check out their products further + it turns out there is a restaurant; actually two).


I added in some fresh-chopped tomatoes from our hanging pot, 1/2 a yellow, roasted pepper, chopped, 1 small onion grilled and chopped.  I then grated over parmesan and tucked in some fresh lettuces that included fresh basil.  Easy and yum!

Next up…

rib glaze

Pork Ribs and a Cauliflower Soup

I now make my braise bath as I do my cocktails, by intuition, not measurement, but with intention.  You want all the components: sweet, hot, acid, tart, salty….  Don’t worry about exact measurements, it should just taste balanced and won’t even do much harm if the balance is off a little.

Louisiana ribs this time.  Boiled in water with the rest of our coffee, about 1 tsp chipotle chile powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, squirt of honey, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, squeeze of Sriracha chile sauce, a Dijon glop and 1 cup tomato juice + water to make up enough liquid to, almost, cover.  Boil about 45 min – 1 hour.  Remove and set on a baking pan.  They will still be slightly tough but the fatty meat will be worth picking for a quick taste.

Make the rub/glaze (or a wayward glue as it happened with me), in a small bowl by mixing chipotle chili powder (a sprinkle to equal, say 1 tsp), 1 tbsp Dijon, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, a big squeeze honey, ground pepper, 1 tsp-ish of the sesame mix I found, mix well and brush over ribs.

ribs on pan

Put on the grill, set indirect at 280-degrees and cook approximately 1.5 hours.  Remove and brush on barbecue sauce (I used the sweet, spicy, Honey Stinger that I got with grill but you should make your own if you have time, or not, as I didn’t have time) put back to smoke, turning down heat to 225F or so.  These will be pretty much done at this point and you can keep them warming, eat them straight away or simply wrap them up to save for the next day.

The soup was made by roasting a head of cauliflower then bathing it and the leeks in the rib bath.  I used 1 large leek and added 2 smallish potatoes that cooked until soft.  I then puréed it all (using about 1 cup chicken stock for the liquid).  This puree was spicy from cooking things in the rib bath.  I added the juice of 1 lemon and a drizzle of olive oil to help temper the heat.  Season as needed with sea salt and pepper.  I also shaved some truffles I had found hanging out in the freezer; don’t tell Tom

The soup is not best served with the ribs by the way, just happened to make them at the same time.  A nice salad with fresh corn, peas and mint is better to round out the meal.  The soup can be a start but was best served for us (AKA me), as lunch the next day and the day after that, followed by soup, yet again…yum!  I did mention truffle, yes?

proof is in the pups!

Proof is in the pups!

Don’t worry, they are not eating ribs.  I make them a special meal each night; ingredients include love!

“Fly” Fishing


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I have never been fly fishing.  I have been fly-in, then fish-fishing though and do realize how lucky that is.  I recently saw a picture of my nephew with his first-caught fish.  I smiled at the image because it reminded me of my first-caught fish which (by the way) was bigger than my then seven-year-old self and, I believe, weighed considerably more than me (yes, that sounds fishy to me too).  I did truly “catch” the largest salmon on that fishing trip though, even if my Grandpa had to help me reel it in!

IMG_3532What ‘ya got there Derek?  Need a hand?

…ok, you got this one by yourself?

Among many other things, Grandpa is a pilot (as is John and for that matter, my Mom).  When I recall fishing in Alaska, I recall flying to the destination.  I hate to fly in general, still to this day, but I liked flying with him (or is that why I am now scared of flying; upside-down flying and all?).  Truth be known, I am not that crazy about fishing now either.  I like the idea of it though.  It sounds pretty cool for someone who loves eating and cooking fresh fish.  My Mom always baited my rod for me and when I reeled one in, she was the one that got dirty taking it from the hook.  I wasn’t a “girly” girl, but I didn’t like to get my hands in the guts (yuck) either.  Good thing I had Mom for that.

IMG_3531Grandpa taking off

In any case, I am much more interested in cooking than fishing now, but I’m lucky to have Grandpa, John, Mom and sometimes my brother Mark, to fly-in and catch it each Summer.  I am also lucky because Mom and John just came to town, bringing (in addition to fried chicken from Grandpa’s restaurant) king salmon + sockeye, caught literally the day before.  Sorry Gemini, it just doesn’t get fresher than that, for me!

Grandpa still flies himself (!!!) to fish for salmon, at, well, lets just say he’s had over 90 years on Earth, let alone the years in the air!  How many people can say that?  He brings it back to his restaurant and fries it up for the Lucky regulars sitting around the counter (who likely caught wind of what George was up to that day).

Grandpa in action: 

So, for our little eight legs, two medium legs and Tom’s larger legs, we scurry to the grill to cook up the rest of the catch brought by hand, by way of commercial airlines, insulated bags and cold packs, just in time for an unconventional heatwave in Seattle’s June summer.

Mom cooked her signature salmon for us a few nights ago (see below).  It awaited for us upon our return home from work, at the ready, for flash-cooking and begged to be devoured quickly along with sweet corn, grilled asparagus and whole Rainier cherries bitten from their pits and spit into the garden in hopes of cherry trees next year (of course, we do this every Summer and the squirrels usually just haul them off, and alas, the two decades-old “planted” cherry trees in the yard, are non-fruit bearing).

ps_salmon platterThanks for the great dinner Mom!

We brined the fish, smoked the sockeye and pre-smoked the king.  At the end of the day…we had fish.  Smokey, yummy fish.
PS2_hot smoke smoking
King Salmon smoking…

PS hot smokedHot-smoked King (salmon, not Elvis)

Hot-smoked Sockeye

Sorry, no photos available of the grilled king salmon with smoked jalapeño cherry sauce – I know you can use your imagination for this though.

Gin and Tonic Smoked Salmon

Today’s weather is a reprieve from a 91+ degree F heatwave that day (a paltry 88 for the high predicted).  I brined my sockeye fillet in a mix of gin, tonic, lime, lemon, sugar and salt.


2-3 lbs fresh salmon fillet (mine were sockeye, skin on… Mom didn’t want me to smoke the king – oops, did a little bit anyway… ssshhhhh).

1/4 cup turbino sugar
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup gin (I used Tangueray)
1 cup tonic water (I used Q-Tonic)
Juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 a lime

Fennel fronds (or whatever herb you might want it’s scent imparted)


Making a brine is easy and requires less fuss than one would expect from the things I have read on the internet.  Simply mix the brine ingredients in a Ziploc freezer bag,  stir well to let the sugar dissolve and then add the fish.

The fish should be rinsed and patted dry.  The skin can be left on or removed.  You will want to let it brine for 4-6 hours or overnight for a real immersion.

Set your smoker to “smoke”.  *We use our new Mak 2 Star General wood pellet grill for our smoking and the grill temp was between 180-200 degrees at that setting.  Let it smoke until the thickest part reaches 140 degrees F.  For us, it was 3 hours.

Easier than you thought, eh?

You can eat this straight from the bone or add to a cracker with dill sauce or creme fraiche + drink a gin & tonic (again, use your imagination, sky is the limit).


But whatever you do, do try this!  It is outstanding!  Smokey, but not too smokey.  As spicy hot as you want it to be (1 jalapeño with seeds removed worked for me but go with your gut, it may or may not thank you later).

smoked cherry

Smoked Jalapeño Cherry Sauce 

This was a bonus because I had a bag of cherries and a fire-pot of smoke.  I simply emptied them onto the grill (in my side cold-smoker tray) and let them smoke alongside the hot-smoking salmon.   The jalapeño tagged along for the ride.

IMG_3481Hmmm…not sure where that eggplant ended up?

The cherries were perfect for eating with a cheese plate in that they were still raw but contained a mild smokey quality.  I wanted to make a sauce though and the smoke was to be more assertive, so I took the cold-smoked cherries and threw them directly onto the grate with the king salmon as I smoked it the next day and let them smoke away (this is starting to sound like a Cheech and Chong movie).

Two hours later, I pulled them off, pitted them and threw them into my Blendtec with just enough water to make them saucy (1/8 cup?).

That’s it!  De-lish!  Stay tuned for rack of lamb with this sauce….

or use your imagination!

buddy + gingerMeanwhile…Buddy & Ginger are back to the observation deck awaiting their next meal.

Red Rover


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PS_ginger on marimeko

I never liked games like dodgeball in school.  I always got hit.  Hard.  Red Rover was equally un-satisfying because I was often the kid that didn’t get picked.  I didn’t mind not being picked, but it still made me hold my breath as each name was called.  I hated to draw attention to myself, but somehow I always did.  Not knowingly, but did.  Not during this game though; it showed me no love.

I don’t pay much attention to my blog statistics, but okay, I peak, now and again.  I get really excited when I have a new number (of followers).  That sounds kind of creepy when I say it out loud.  What I mean is, people who choose to follow new Posts on my Blog.  It was climbing rapidly and then all of a sudden went backwards.  I got hung up on one number.  124.  I loved number 124.

But then, it became 123 once again.

123, no, 124, no, 123, 124…123, again!

Red rover, red rover, send 124 right back on over.

Number 124, I am talking to you!   You know who you are.  I couldn’t help but notice you un-followed me, four times!  I understand.  No, really, I do.  I’m not in this for the numbers, I like the love though, don’t you like the love?  Did you really mean to hit the “unfollow” button?  Let me take just a moment to break this down a bit.  Is my Blog not your style?  Are Ginger and Buddy not cute enough?  Perhaps it is my food.  Is it my food?  My food is too fussy, isn’t it?  Wait, is it not fussy enough?  I can make it really fussy.

What if Ginger and Buddy cooked instead?  Hmmm, that might be challenging though.  I can take your requests.  I will cook just for you!  I bet it is my writing, not my cooking at all.

Is it my writing?  I can be too wordy?  Do I offend?  What if I write you a poem?  Can I beg you to come back?  Oh wait, I make it a habit not to beg.  Ginger and Buddy have less scruples though and are wondering, “What will it take to bring you back?”!!!  They say they will stop snarfing (well, I don’t think they will, you can’t really count on that!).  They say they will be cuter (but nobody is cuter than them)!  They will talk less and be cute more (ha)!  What if they start wearing hats?

Buddy_Ginger in Hats_cropped

What if I talk less and cook more?  Take better photos?  How about no photos at all?  Oh well, like I said, I am not in this for the numbers.  I do like the love though.  So, to show you the love, I will cook more and talk less, just this once.  Just for you number 124!  I’m cooking this for you, only you!

Tomatillo Chicken Thighs over Jade Rice and Pinto Beans

I’m not chicken to ask you to come back number 124!  This is full of flavor and completely satisfying.  Served over jade rice and pinto beans, with a few leaves of quickly-grilled romaine lettuce and a dollop of yogurt; I think, even you might agree to come back.  This is not fussy, light on words and full of love.


3-4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in

Sea salt and pepper
2 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
2 tsp cumin
Squeeze of lemon juice
3 TB plain yogurt
Olive oil for browning
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (good-quality purchased or home-made)

Serve with rice and beans, romaine lettuce, tomato slices and yogurt – see below.


Rinse the chicken and pat it dry.  Season lightly with salt and heavily with pepper.

Mix the oregano, chipotle powder, cumin, lemon juice and yogurt in a medium bowl or freezer bag.  Add the chicken and let marinade for at least a 1/2 hour and up to a day, before cooking.

Heat an oven-proof pan, large enough to hold the chicken in one layer, but small enough to keep it snug.  Add enough olive oil to coat the pan. When hot, add the chicken, skin-side down.  Let the chicken sit, undisturbed, until browned.  When the chicken is ready to release itself from the pan without tearing away the skin, turn it over.

Add the salsa, mostly around the sides with a little dollop on top.  Transfer, uncovered, to a 350-degree oven.

Cook approximately 30 minutes.  The chicken should be cooked all the way through and very tender.  The top should be beautifully browned.

MEANWHILE – make the rice and beans

While the chicken is cooking, cook the jade rice (I use a rice cooker with a 1/2 cup rice to 1 cup water and a dollop of salsa thrown in).  Mix with 1 cup drained, cooked pinto beans (I cook mine in a pressure cooker with a good amount of chipotle powder and cumin).  One cup dried beans with 3 cups water, cooked on high-pressure for 20 minutes produces a slightly spicy bean.  Season with salt after cooking and add a splash of vinegar.  You will want to strain the beans out of their liquid for this dish.

Mix one part rice to one part beans and serve under the chicken with a few leaves of grilled romaine lettuce.  A dollop of sour cream is always welcome in our home.
PS_IMG_3189It was too yummy and late to photograph the first night and clearly too late the second.  I know I am not helping my case here, but the photograph I did get is grainy due to the dark night.  I reheated the thighs in a pan with the rice and beans.

The Twentieth of May (and a visit to Paws Cafe)


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bed buddy's

May 20th marked the anniversary of Buffy’s passing.  As with every year on that day, for the past 15, we lit a candle by her tree near the place she rests.  We sit with her a while and speak of stories past.

Ginger sits with us too, and then Buddy joined in.  They quietly sit, knowingly.  The candle burns through the night, putting itself out as the moon gently lights up the sky.

The next day, Ginger turns one year older: this happens every year.  On that day, she happily eats her salmon dinner and blows out her own candle, thankful for having had BUFFY lead her to our home.

This year though, there was a heavy mood looming the day before.  Buddy has been ill.  It started with a simple change that was barely detectable.  The back, which has always been a little stiff, seemed a little bit more stiff.  The appetite, which has always been great, became only moderately good.

At first, it was just turning down a carrot.  No to carrots, yes to sweet peas.  No to snack kibble, but yes to Darwin’s raw food.  Yes to chicken, no (?) to sweet peas.  Then it was just, no.  No food.   No!

A blood test had revealed an alarming change in the progression of Buddy’s kidney disease.  What once was mildly concerning had escalated quickly from, worth-watching, to demanding action.

Tom and I pride ourselves on taking care of our pups.  We do what we think is best and what we learn is right.  No matter how much we read or learn though, something else is needing to be learned.

May 19, 2015

Buddy was curled up in my arms on my lap, in the front seat of the car, in a position known well to babies (well, not the car part).  I know this was not the safest way to drive and I knew that it was not the proper place for him to be.  But against my chest, in my arms, was the only place.

Dr. Rice had told us about Paws Cafe awhile back.  With all the research I do, scouting of the Internet, I do not know for the life of me, why it was I did not look this place up more seriously until now.  Dr. Rice mentioned it again, this time more pointedly, singing praises of the owner, Shelly, as an authority on the subject of nutrition for specifically this thing.  This thing that we (Tom, Buddy, Ginger and I) now have to accept and somehow make it through – renal failure!  A subject I had not yet learned much of, but could now probably tell you more of than you really care to know.

Buddy traveled, on this day, the nineteenth of May, to work with me.  We went from work to two meetings downtown.  After the first, I came back to the car and Buddy had gotten on the floor and pooped.  He was stuck down there on the floor, with the poop.  Returning to the car, my heart skipped a beat because I could not see him on the seat.  Ginger was in the back, asleep.  I cleaned it up (with the help of my client bringing me paper towels).  But I was happy to see poop.  I had not seen it from Buddy in more than two days.  The timing was unfortunate however…for us both.

This slight variance from the day’s plan caused me to be late to my next meeting.  When I arrived, I was slightly smelling of odor, and I do not mean perfume.

After that, finally, we were on the road to Oz.  We had contacted Shelly of Paws Custom Petfood (formerly Paws Cafe) and she had made us a tonic of detox and nutrients that I was to put in Buddy’s food.  Having evaluated his blood work, Shelly recommended that I make his food because she didn’t want to sell me 10-15 lbs only to find it something he refused to eat.  I didn’t want to, but I did read between the lines, regardless of if the lines actually said what I thought they read.

By this time, Buddy had not eaten in close to 48 hours.  Dr. Rice was on vacation and we were somewhat on our own (although other doctors were on hand and there was our faithful friend and neighbor, Piotr, who helped with the needle and subcutaneous fluid administration).  I did not mention this earlier to you, but Buddy was also suffering from small seizures brought on by specific, sudden sounds (such as cutlery clinking, foil crinkling or high pitched squeaks and vibrations, even a door closing).  He would twitch and fall suddenly yet momentarily, legs splaying out bringing him to the ground.  He was also wobbly and drunken as he moved across the yard, but still intent on getting to his destination, wherever that may be.

He acted this way when we got home from Oz that day.  But it was sunny and more than warm.  I went to the kitchen and began cooking Buddy’s food.  Tom had not yet come home from work and the sun was the perfect temperature for Buddy and Ginger to lay outside on their respective beds.

When I finished, I brought a bowl outside.  Two bites!  Buddy took two bites of food into his mouth off of a tiny spoon.  That was enough for now.  The fluids from his injection were going to have to get him through another night.  I looked to Buffy’s resting spot and remembered…another time.

May 20, 2015

This day is always bitter-sweet for us.  There is a heavy presence of Buffy in the air and even Ginger, who (sometimes) can be cantankerous and ornery, is on her best behavior.  It feels almost spiritual, Buffy’s presence is still so strong.

In the morning before work, I looked at Buddy, so small, curled up in our bed.  I brought in a bowl of his “new” food and he did something quite surprising; he actually began to eat, ravenously, greedily eating!

Buddy and Ginger stayed home that day and when I came home at lunch-time, Buddy decided he would actually eat lunch!

The twentieth of May; a day I thought might take our Buddy from us too, was a turning-point instead.  That day, Buddy decided to live, at least little longer (and hopefully a lot more).  Buffy may have had a word or two, to him, or someone; we will never know.  Every moment is precious when you realize how few moments there might actually be, so for now, we will count each and every moment as a gift.  This gift we will always treasure.

Paws Custom Pet Food – A version (or two) for Buddy

I can not stress enough how thankful we are for finding this place.  They are located in Redmond, Washington, right down the road from the Pomegranate Cafe.  They deliver locally (in a (our) limited area), but ship via UPS to anywhere.  The food is available in many different sizes and with chicken, turkey or grass-fed beef.  They will also make food custom for your dog or cat’s needs based on their blood-work (which might include rabbit or lamb with an adjusted amount of protein and added nutrients or herbs).

They also provide a starter-kit for those that wish to make their pet’s food themselves.  The kit provides the vitamins and minerals needed for proper nutrition in a simple, one-step container.  I have always wanted to make my own (dedicated pet) food but worried that I wouldn’t know how to balance the nutrition levels to their needs.

Shelly spoke with me in great length on the phone, describing the percentages of proteins to carbs to veg required for a dog with renal failure.  The phosphorous levels in Buddy were extremely high, so foods with low phosphorous were needed (in tandem with his medication).

Shelly provides recipes in the kit so you can get the proportions correct.  Her recipe is for 10 lbs of food though and I needed to start a little bit smaller.  Below is my recipe from the first batch of food.  It resembled the texture of baby food because I used my Blendtec to puree, which required me to add water.  He loved it, but I had to feed it with a spoon otherwise he would have worn most of it in his fur.  The second batch of food I pureed in my Magimix (or a Cuisinart-type processor) and it was much more similar to the consistency of the food you can purchase from Paws Custom Pet Food.

This food is really easy to prepare and can be portioned out (and frozen if you make large quantities at once).  Speak with your Vetrinarian (or Shelly, or another animal nutritionist) as to the right amount of food for your dog, based on age and weight.  Ginger polished off a 24 oz portion sample size given to us by Shelly, in about 2+ days.  Buddy ate the first batch of food I made in the same time (yay!).  They shared a bit of each other’s but it mostly evened out.

Happy Turkey Coma with carrots and peas

Turkey is a great lean protein for compromised (or healthy) animals.  The “feel good” comatose that we experience post-Thanksgiving is from the feel-good (but sleepy) dopamine found in turkey.  I also added a few bits of lamb so that Buddy was enticed by the “stink factor” (a good stink, we think).

As with all foods we eat and feed our loved ones, use the best quality you can afford and if possible, organic is best!  The idea is to heal, not harm.  Ingredients should be as natural as possible with no added chemicals.

buddy breakfast on sheep


8 oz. cooked turkey and lamb

(I had 2 turkey cutlets of approximately 3 oz. each which were poached while making broth. The rest was lamb leg chunked for stew which I had purchased to flavor rice the previous day in an attempt to get Buddy interested in food – sadly, a failed attempt).

6 oz. cooked carrots

2 oz. cooked sweet peas (in pod, stringy side seams removed)

6 oz. baked sweet potato (no skin, just the soft meat)

4 oz. cooked white rice

1/4 cup broth (made from cooking the turkey, peas and carrots)

3 tsp nutrients*

*Nutrients:  As purchased from Paws Custom Pet Foods (Shelly made my bottle of nutrients using vitamins & minerals, turmeric, slippery elm, probiotics, DGL etc…)  Please note that I added the detox option to my nutrients which she added to the regular mix. All ingredients are organic.


The food will all have been cooked by now.  That was easy, right?

The ingredients should be cooled before mixed and pureed.

Add the ingredients to a food processor (as mentioned, I used a Blendtec, which wanted me to add water so as to actually blend).  The water or broth is not needed if you use a Magimix or Cuisinart, but since animals with kidney disease need to stay hydrated, it certainly won’t hurt).

Divide the food into 12 oz – 24 oz containers with tight-fitting lids.  You may freeze them this way, or they will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

A few words from Shelly via email answering my questions:

I like the crockpot for small batches because it’s fewer dishes to clean.  I cook and drain the meat and then if I’m cooking the veggies, I’ll either leave the meat in the pot for soft veggies like zucchini or peas that cook fast or keep it in a separate bowl to cool while I cook the harder stuff like carrots & yams.  You shouldn’t need to add much if any water. If you’re putting everything through the food processor after it’s cooked and you’re adding water, that may be why it’s runny?  I usually recommend cooking ground meat because you get a good texture by default so a food processor isn’t needed.  If you aren’t cooking your veg you’d still need to run that through the food processor but it sounds like you are so maybe you can just chop your veg into smaller pieces and cook it and that’s it.  

Regarding the foods you mentioned, mushrooms are not well tolerated by dogs.  Parsley in small amounts would be safe but I’m not confident about the palatability.  It’s pretty strong.  Bell peppers are good.  Again, they are strong so cooking them would be helpful.   Chickpeas would be a carb more than a protein source in this context.  Whole eggs are well-liked.  Sometimes you need to omit the yolks if they get gassy.  Lentils are also good; quinoa, blueberries, cantaloupe, pumpkin, cabbage, green beans, carrots, yellow squash, kale, dandelion greens.  Most fruits are ok, but grapes are poisonous and all fruit seeds are.  Onions, garlic, mushrooms, chocolate are also poisonous or ill-advised options.  

Any fruits or veggies that are sweet should be proportionally limited.  So if you add 20% yams or peas or carrots, then balance with at least 20% green beans, zucchini or squash.  Too much sugar will cause acid reflux.  White starchy foods convert to sugar like white potato and white rice, so those general guidelines should be applied to those as well.  

Just one more tip, cook meat on low-heat if you’re putting it on the stove.

Batch #2 was made with bison (16 oz) cooked like stew with carrots, peas and zucchini.  Once cooked, 1/2 can garbanzo beans, 1 sweet potato (minus skin), 1 cup rice and 1 cup blueberries were added along with the nutrients*.

buddy eating from  bowlBack at the bowl again!

Imagine if…


, , , ,

PS_posole 3

Life is moving along, happily.  Hard work has gone into this happy.  This happy moves subconsciously some days and fully consciously the next.

There is love.

There is life.

There is food.

There is hard work but, most importantly, there is love of life.  And food; Big love of food!

Love happens and life happens and everything is better than fine… until it’s not fine!

Accident’s happen.  Do they happen to us?  If not to us, to whom?  We are all so fragile and at risk.  It is a good thing that we don’t all live life with this thought in mind… always in our minds.

It is something that does pass, ever so nonchalantly, though our thoughts when we hear about the news or come across a situation that rattles us yet leaving us unscathed.

I am a deep thinker, so I do have thoughts of mortality and immortality, somewhat often.  I am thankful to be alive and yet I am most thankful when reminded, yet again, how fragile life really is.

This post is about thoughtfulness of life.  Other people’s lives… who might need people to be thoughtful, of them.

It primarily has to do with two women I have met only once.  One is Raquel Ruiz Diaz, the life-partner of Chef Blaine Wetzel of Willows Inn.  Raquel was charismatic and delightful on the night we dined there a year ago.  She brought us our food, our drink, relocated us to the perfect table for a warm Spring night, and her compassion, plus enthusiasm of all that the Willow’s Inn bestowed upon all of us lucky diners.

Unfortunately, the beginning of this dining season, she is holding court from a hospital bed in South America.  Charming as I’m sure she still is, this is not the place neither she nor Blaine expected they would be on this glorious day of May.

During the winter break on a visit home to her family in Paraguay, she was struck down by a drunk driver (who fled) during a run and was left with…a long road ahead.

Raquel was uninsured due to a technicality.  She luckily, survived and is now, thanks to the love and support of a vast community, mostly going to be okay.  Her recovery though, will be long.

More love and support are needed (and more money is welcome)!

I know first-hand how much change a health issue bestows; it significantly alters one’s world and that of their loved ones, and I am asking those that I know or who are reading this post, to consider helping her cause.  Help by sending well-wishes, getting the word out, or by donating yourself here.

Equally disturbing, and on a very familial note, my sister-in-law Irma, has had such a traumatic experience with her family as well.  Quite upsettingly, her situation does not have the foreseen positive outcome as Raquel’s.  Clara is living with quadriplegia after being gunned down by hoodlums on their Mexican ranch last year.  Despite being transported across the country to better hospitals and with many surgeries behind her, the prognosis is eternal paralysis.

PS_irma clara

Again, I ask you to imagine, what if… ?

This could happen to any one of us in the blink of an eye!

I think of this today as Irma was sharing me photos of her making Pozole with my nephews in the background, and after reading the recent newsletter from Willow’s Inn and checking in on Raquel’s situation via the internet.  The long road ahead for her coincides with an amazing award for her Blaine.  He has won, yet another, James Beard award for his (their) efforts.  While he might feel delight and accomplishment in the attainment, I would bet that he also feels… well, who am I to say what he feels?  I just know, he would have preferred to have Raquel with him to share this achievement.

There has been a huge reach out from the community at large from all over the world; a pretty amazing thing in itself!

If for no other reason than one of sheer hedonistic desire (on my part) to see her in person, once again, sharing her charm and bringing us a wonderful experience at the Willows Inn, I ask you to donate to her cause.  Or, get the word out that this is a cause worthy of donation!  I have very little blog bandwidth but those of you that do can help to message her needs.

And to this, I offer a personal thought about my sister-in-law, Irma!  Irma’s sister is someone that was (and still is) full of life.  She always will be in my mind as I remember her during the one occasion at which we met; in Ajjijic, Mexico, at the christening of my nephew Alex, followed by a fiesta at my Dad and Linda’s bed and breakfast, Los Artistas.

DSC01199The backyard on that lazy afternoon before the fiesta.

For Raquel and Blaine, and with love for my sister’s dear Cardona family, I offer Irma’s Pozole and hope you will enjoy our passion for food, friends and family.

hominy 2

Irma starts with fresh hominy (which I was recently lucky enough to source in Arizona while visiting my Mom).  I found it to be superior over dried hominy but either will work.  If using dried hominy, it will take a bit longer to cook (add 2 hours to the cooking time before adding the meat, or if using a pressure cooker, consider cooking it for 30 minutes before adding the meat).

Irma makes hers in a pot over the stove-top; long, fragrant cooking.  Since pressed for time, I made mine in a pressure cooker which finishes in about an hour from start to finish.

I cooked my fresh hominy for 15 minutes on high-pressure using the whole 35oz bag plus 8 cups of water.  I then added 2 lb boneless, country style pork ribs,  1 chopped onion, 6 cloves of peeled, chopped garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp dry oregano and 1 cup freshly-made tomatillo salsa.  I turned the pressure cooker to high heat and cooked for 20 minutes.  I then added the juice of three limes and fresh pepper to taste, plus about 1/2 tsp more salt.

This concoction will thicken overnight and the quantity of liquid can be adjusted to your liking by adding more, or by simmering it down to have less.  I don’t cut my pork into pieces, but rather let it cook to the point of shredding tender, which may not necessarily be best, but Tom likes it.

The condiments for this stew are as important as the stew itself.  Present bowls of the stew already garnished, or set out the garnishes on a platter with bowls for guests to decorate their own.

My must-have garnishes include:

Green cabbage, cilantro, radish, green onion, lime wedges, avocado and peanuts.  Sour cream is a weakness of mine as well, so mine got a big dollop of that.

PS3_Irma posole

Irma’s Pozole (as written by Irma Cardona Edwards)


I recommend to clean the hominy really well and boil in enough water to cover by double for an hour, at first without the meat.  Cut the meat in pieces and put it together with the hominy to cook until it is tender (another 45 minutes).  As you add the meat, you add peppercorns, oregano, onion cut into 1/4’s, and a whole head of garlic, plus salt (enough to make the water taste, not quite as potent, as the sea, 2 tsp).  I like my pozole like soup so I add more water to cover well as it simmers.

You can make your own green or red salsa and mix it all together into the simmering pot till is cook, or just put it on the side; it is up to you, I like it both ways.

Chop some cilantro, onions, Serrano pepper, radish and some green cabbage; you can add some slices of avocado if you want, and some lime!

Personally I like red pozole, I make my salsa with some dried red chillis, roast everything in the stove, red tomatoes, garlic and onion, then blended all together add salt and oregano, after blended you fry in a pan with a little oil.

You can serve white pozole and add the red salsa on the top or you can add the whole salsa to the pot of pozole when it is cooking!

Green salsa – use tomatillos and green Hatch peppers or any other long, green chile, garlic and onion, but in this case you boil everything and blend in with the water you boil with.

Gracias mi hermana Irma!

Buddy in bed

And most dear to my heart, yet on the subject of personal sadness, well-wishes and doing good, might I be so bold as to send out to the universe, our plea to let Buddy stay with us a little (uh, a lot) longer; his little brain needs to trump his little body, his work here is not done!

We love you baby boy!

buddy sunshineIt’s a beautiful day… keep chasing the sun!!!


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