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The number of times I have gone to Europe.
The number of meals I have eaten which included beef tongue.
The number of times I have truly fallen in love.
The number of years I have attended the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC 2014).
The number of years I have written this Blog.
One special, overwhelming, fulfilling, challenging, and inspirational year!
One year ago today, Pete was sitting in our dining room, asking me what I wanted this to look like.  One day before, I had no idea what I was about to get into let alone know what it should look like (other than the header, which Pete designed for me earlier).  I would not have ever gotten past the thought of a space to write down my ideas about food without first, the journals that my husband Tom bought me, ritually, each time I filled one up, or second, without Pete saying, “Hey, do you want me to come over and just help you do this thing?”.  I can’t thank them enough!

And big thanks to all of you that actually read what I write.  A bigger thanks to those that actually leave comments and/or follow my blog (Simon, you were my first follower, thanks!).  Most of all I am just happy to have a place that I can escape to and write for a few minutes, or an hour, or a day.  One!  Without that time, I feel lost.  Without that writing, I would not have connected to all of the people that I have met through this blog.  I am so glad to have “met” each of you.  I wish I could meet you all in person, have you to dinner, or share a glass of wine over a leisurely lunch.  But we can pretend (unless you actually come over, then we can do some serious eating!).

I leave you with this, a dinner that we shared last night with my Mom and her opposite-sex-partner, John (very much part of the family too), before their departure back to Alaska (after fixing numerous household things in need of repair).  One trip, one meal, one year, is never enough (but they will be back for a special birthday in a month, I will keep writing for another year and I will attend, for my second time, the International Food Bloggers Conference, September 18-20, 2015, you too can register here).

One Summer down, Fall is back in the air, and this is the meal that we shared… and for Mom, my recipe for the pork belly + canteloupe sauce.  One course is never enough.  We had five.  A good number too, but too much to write. This is about, One (recipe).

A Fall Dinner for Mom and John 9/27/14

To start – Nibbles with cocktails
Fresh shrimp spring rolls with dipping sauces (nuac chom + nectarine sauce (nectarine sauce recipe to come in another post))
Fried shoyu tofu sticks + golden cow’s milk cheese & everything crackers (for the nibbler (ironically not me, my Mom))
Roast beet + raw zucchini and mint stack with miso sauce and pickled ginger
True cod with corn, wild mushrooms, baby bok choy and shoyu corn broth
*Pork belly + scallop, massaged kale, cantaloupe sauce
To finish
Fig, apple and ricotta galette with carmel cashew-milk ice cream
Berry galette with Elleno’s lemon curd yogurt

PS_spring rollsFresh shrimp spring rolls with dipping sauces.

PS_beet stack 1Roast beet + raw zucchini and mint stack with miso sauce and pickled ginger.

PS_cod 2
True cod with corn, wild mushrooms, baby bok choy and shoyu corn broth.

PS_ TOMpork 2
Pork belly + scallop, massaged kale, cantaloupe sauce.

Berry galette with Elleno’s lemon curd yogurt (in the making).

*Pork belly + scallop, massaged kale, cantaloupe sauce
Serves 4-6 people

It is best to get the pork belly with the skin on if you can; this time I did not but I prefer it that way (it keeps the fat from turning very black).   I learned the method of cooking pork belly from Tom Collicio’s book, “Think Like a Chef” and have experimented with many different cooking flavors, modifications ever since.  The pork belly is braised in a broth that then becomes the base of the sauce for the true cod (above) which I also used to flavor the beets, zucchini and fried tofu sticks.

The cantaloupe sauce helps cut the richness of the pork and the saltiness of the shoyu braise.  It smells of pumpkin as it cooks, and looks like butterscotch when done.  I make this sauce every Fall.  It is wonderful served with a meal of cranberry beans, pork loin and prosciutto, plus could easily be used to sauce everything from fish to fois gras.  Because I was pairing this with a shoyu-based braise, I changed out the typical Chardonnay in the sauce for sake, but either would work fine.  You can freeze leftovers in a Ziploc freezer bag or freezer-safe container.  Both the pork and the sauce can be made a day or two in advance, which makes it great for entertaining.

The kale was an afterthought because I felt we needed something green, I had some in the fridge, plus I felt it would lend a perfect balance of texture and flavor to the rest of the dish.  My favorite way to eat kale is a simple massage of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice.  No cooking required; the heat from the pork and the sauce are all the heat that is needed.

INGREDIENTS (for the pork belly)

2 lbs pork belly, skin on if you can
Salt and pepper
1 celery stick, diced
3/4 cup onion, chopped
2 TB chopped garlic
3/4 cup corn broth
1/2 cup shoyu (I used Ohsawa organic Nama Shoyu.  Quality does make a difference but feel free to substitute for a soy sauce instead.  Please note that it might be saltier so do adjust according to taste.
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

INGREDIENTS (for the cantaloupe sauce)

1 cup chopped onion (or shallot)
1/4 cup chopped fennel bulb (or a few fennel stems and fronds from the garden, chopped as I did this time; I had no fennel bulb)
1 TB butter for sauteing (or use olive oil)
3 TB L’Estornell Grenache varietal red wine vinegar (or another good quality red wine vinegar) (more as needed to season)
1 cup sake (or chardonnay)
2 to 2 1/2 cups large diced, peeled cantaloupe
A handful of fresh basil (optional)
1 TB red currant jelly (I forgot it last night but it does help to thicken the sauce)
1 TB demi-glace
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 cup heavy cream
Sea salt to taste

INGREDIENTS (to finish and serve)

Kale (approximately 1 leaf per person), rinsed, dried and stem removed
Olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice to taste

Fresh, dry-packed sea scallops (1 per person)
Olive oil, a knob of butter, sea salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice

Fennel fronds and flower for garnish (optional)

PREP & COOK (the pork)

Season the pork with sea salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees

In a hot pan, brown the pork, skin (or fat) side down (this might take 10-15 minutes over medium heat).  No oil is needed as there is plenty of fat that will come out of the pork.  Drain it off periodically if it splatters too much.  You will want to reserve about 1-2 TB for cooking the vegetables.  Transfer the pork to a plate.

In 1-2 TB pork fat, cook the celery, onion and garlic until soft.  This will take about 10 minutes more. Keep the heat low so as not to brown the vegetables.

Transfer the vegetables to a baking dish.  Top with the pork belly, skin (or fat) side up.

Combine the shoyu, rice wine vinegar and water in a small bowl (or measuring glass).  Pour enough of this mixture into the baking dish to come 1/2 to 3/4 the way up, but not cover the pork.  You will likely still have some liquid left which will be added later.

Cook, uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.  Check on the liquid and add more if needed.

Cook an additional hour, checking occasionally to be sure it is not burning or running out of liquid.  If it browns too much, you can cover it loosely with foil.  Add the rest of the liquid (if any).  You could use sake or water if needed.

PS2_pork pan 2

3 hours is usually how long I leave my pork to cook.  It should be quite tender (the degree of tenderness will depend on the thickness of the pork and the ratio of fat to meat).  It will go back in the oven to finish later (if eating that night), or the next day (if doing in advance).

If you are doing this in advance, store the pork, in the baking pan with the liquid (and solids), covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

When you are ready to use (up to 8 hours in advance), transfer the pork to a plate.  Pick off obvious pieces of fat that have solidified in the liquid.  Strain the contents of the pan through a fine mesh strainer (or chinois) into a bowl and discard the solids.  Separate the oil from the liquid as best you can.  The liquid will likely be quite salty; this is okay. You should have about one cup of liquid.  Dilute with more corn broth (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup).  Taste for flavor and adjust accordingly.  It should be balanced in flavor now, not too salty, not too sweet.

Remove the skin from the pork (skip this step, obviously, if there was no skin to start). Cut the pork into 4-6 equal sized pieces. Score the fat.  Put it back into a baking pan with the liquid.  At this point, I went ahead and added a few tablespoons of that liquid to my sliced beets, zucchini and tofu. I “borrowed” more of the liquid when I went to cook my true cod.

In a 350-degree oven, cook (or re-warm) the pork until it is very tender and the fat is browned (but not burnt).  If you did not have skin on the pork, the skin will burn easier so you should keep checking in on it’s progress.  Allow 1/2 hour for this process but you can keep it in the oven for longer if you are serving other courses; just be sure to cover it or turn down the heat so as not to dry the pork out.

PREP & COOK (the cantaloupe sauce)

Heat a saute pan and melt a knob of butter.  Add the onion and fennel.  Cook until the onion is translucent, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the vinegar and cook a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

PS_close up sauce

Add the sake (or wine) and cantaloupe; continue simmering for approximately 20 minutes more or until the cantaloupe has softened and blended into the pan (another 20 minutes or so).

Strain the sauce through a chinois.  The liquid should be thin and bright.  You will likely have 1 1/2 cups.

PS2_top of chinois
The bowl in the front is my strained pork braising liquid.

PS_kitchen window 2

Put the liquid back to the sauce pan (wiped clean).  Add the basil (if using) and let steep for 1/2 an hour, no need to turn on the burner.  Remove and squeeze liquid from basil, discard basil.

Add the jelly, cayenne, demi-glace and cream.  Bring to a simmer and reduce until it is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, approximately 20 minutes (it will reduce by about 1/3).  Set aside and re-heat when ready to use.


While the pork is warming in the oven, prepare the kale.  Slice the leaves into pieces, drizzle over some olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze over a wedge of lemon. Gently massage the leaves to soften and distribute the flavors.  I think I might have even spooned over a bit of the shoyu corn broth (optional).  Set aside.

Rinse and pat dry the scallops (remove the muscle if it is still attached).  Score the top side with a small cross-hatch cut.  Season with salt and pepper.  Be sure the scallop is completely dry before putting them in the pan to produce a nice seared top.

Re-heat the cantaloupe sauce.  Check to be sure the pork is warmed through.

On individual plates, divide the kale.  If using fennel fronds and flowers, put them artfully on the plates too.

Heat a saute pan until hot.  Add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  When the oil is heated (enough to easily move about the pan), add the scallops, scored side down.  Do not touch them for at least 2 minutes.

When the scallops easily come away from the pan with a spatula without sticking, and they are nicely browned on the one side, throw in the knob of butter.  It should melt quickly.  Turn the scallops over.  In the 30 seconds after you turn the scallops, place one piece of pork on each plate.  Immediately squeeze in a lemon wedge and turn off the heat.  The scallops should be soft to the touch still (not rubbery), seared on the exterior and soft in the middle.

Quickly spoon the cantaloupe sauce onto each plate and immediately remove the scallops from the pan and place one on each plate.

PS_buddyOne bite!

PS_sleeping bagsTwo pups!

PS2_1110 legs!

Burnt Toast (and IFBC 2014)


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PS3_biscuit 1

There are several ways to cook corn, none of which I spent too much time pondering until recently. For me, corn always goes on the grill and often gets treated with butter before biting into, straight off the cob.

It was pointed out to me though, during a series of semi-“deep” discussions regarding corn at our recent family reunion in Minnesota, that if you are not lucky enough to eat it raw when it is freshly picked, the microwave might be the most perfect method for it’s cooking. I was skeptical, but willing to listen and then, eager to give it a try. I also wanted to share a few other methods of cooking corn and an idea (or two) of what I like to do with it every summer (one of which I already did). However, I realize this might be less-than-timely seeing that the summer is coming to an end, for now, so perhaps I will pick that thought back up again next year…

As I ponder the subject of corn though, I turn to pondering the subject of eating. This brings me to food, which of course, is the center of this years International Food Blogger’s Conference (IFBC 2014) taking place at the Westin in downtown Seattle, which brings me to writing. Many of us attending the conference (obviously) write about food. My guess is that most of (if not all of) us enjoy food, more than might be considered normal. I am happy to fit into this category of “not” normal because it means I eat particularly well and who can complain about that?

What most excites me about the upcoming conference (beginning tonight), is the optional workshop I signed up to attend on Sunday. The workshop is about writing, creatively, concerning food, but also concerning memoirs (clarifying voice and story). This is of particular interest to me because I have been trying to write just that. Not just about food but also memories, and memories about food. Well, not just memories about food but memories that involve food (which is an extensive bank of memories).  Actually, what I really want, is to write about those things in a way that captures my voice and makes you want to read what I am writing, enthusiastically.

Burnt Toast

Not only is the content of the workshop something I am looking forward to, it is being led by New York Times Best-Selling food writer Kathleen Flinn, author of “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry” (which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed) and her third book “Burnt Toast Makes you Sing Good” (which I have not read, but will read as soon as I can buy a copy). The title of that one makes me smile because my father is a notorious burnt toast fan and I just sent him an after-surgery care package containing some burnt biscuits I made because they tasted of burnt toast. Needless to say, burnt toast doesn’t travel well and they went to the trash. Perhaps I will ring the hospital and ask them to prepare him some freshly burnt toast? Or not. In any case, I will ring him to share my experience after the workshop and if we are lucky, I will have learned a thing or two to make me a more engaging writer (when I share the experience with you). That is the plan.

If you haven’t read Kathleen’s writing, I encourage you to pick up a copy of one of her books; well worth the read. Also, if you are attending the conference, perhaps I will meet you there and maybe you are joining the workshop too, which you do not need be at the conference to sign up for, cost is $75, you can sign-up here). Until then, inspired by the title of Kathleen’s third book, I have gone to the kitchen in the hopes of recreating the perfect burnt toast without the “burn” (and come to think of it, without the toast). Curious?

PS_biscuit 3

Biscuits and “cream”
(Aka: not “burnt” toast)
loosely adapted from Molly Wizenberg (and Marion Cunningham)

I know what you’re thinking. I think I do anyways, because if Kathleen were writing this, I would be thinking “burnt toast has nothing to do with biscuits and certainly to do more with butter than with cream”. Hear me out though.

Biscuits are where I started and biscuits I am still trying to make. Ones that don’t taste of burnt toast (even though I think Dad would have liked them straight from the oven before being shoved into a wobbly envelope and flown across the country). I started out wanting to make buttermilk biscuits. I bought one from “Honest Biscuits” at the Pioneer Square Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago. It had butter dipped into the center and honey too, which oozed out the side. They were tall (double story tall) and slightly reminded me of the biscuits I missed out on at the Willow’s Inn. Almost, but not quite. I say not quite because they didn’t look quite as pretty (as the ones at Willow’s Inn).  In reality, I never actually tasted the ones at Willow’s Inn (if you recall from my lengthy post) but this Honest Biscuit was a very good biscuit.  Very good, yes.

I did not want to recreate the Honest Biscuit. What I actually wanted was a cream biscuit. One that was fluffy and moist. One that tasted, well…of cream. What I didn’t want was to actually use cream. Or white flour. But that was a minor detail. What I ended up doing was going to Orangette to find Molly’s cream biscuits I had read about years before. She has a version by Marion Cunningham (no, not the one from Happy Days) that she swears “you can’t screw up”, yet I am here to tell you that I did (screw up), twice. I had only made a few alterations: I used quinoa & whole wheat flours + corn meal rather than all-purpose flour. I used honey rather than sugar and (most notably) replaced the cream and butter for buttermilk and yogurt. So you can see why I was surprised with the unforeseen outcome?  No?

Well, I do confess that there were two attempts at this recipe, because after the first version, I was convinced that the flop was to do with my outdated baking soda (expired February of 2013) and I (reluctantly) had in-fact brushed the outside of the biscuits with melted butter (only 1 TB, but that was likely why it tasted of toast at all; their only redeeming feature). I thought the burnt part was to do with using honey (and perhaps that darn TB of butter that I diligently brushed on even the underside of the biscuit; the side that actually did burn)?  In any case, as it turned out, this was the better batch of the two (yikes!).

PS_close burnt

The second batch received a freshly-opened can of baking powder (no, not the whole can), just 1 TB).  I reduced the amount of quinoa flour and corn meal by half, replacing it with more whole wheat pastry flour.  Then, thinking I needed some “cream”, rather than use actual cream, I used 1/2 cup cream on top, whole milk yogurt (which had already been depleted of said top cream) in addition to buttermilk (because I really didn’t learn the first time).  I also opted to use sugar rather than honey but I brushed the tops with yogurt instead of butter (not advised).

So now that you know what not to do, this is what I just did.  Just a few moments ago.  I don’t have burnt toast and I don’t have (real) cream biscuits, but I do have something that looks more like a biscuit than a hockey puck, and tastes more like a biscuit than a (hockey puck) piece of burnt toast.  Plus, it is healthier than a cream biscuit (although, full disclosure, it does use actual cream).  If you didn’t read about my corn butter, I think you should.  I replaced half of the cream with the same portion of corn butter.  I used spelt flour rather than whole wheat.  I kept with the quinoa flour (because I like the color and the sweet richness) and I replaced the cornmeal with fresh sourdough breadcrumbs (because it started out as bread, which is what we use to make burnt toast; you following?).

I made the breadcrumbs without toasting the bread, hence the term “fresh” bread crumbs.  The bread I used was the sourdough from London Plane in Pioneer Square, but any good bread will work just as well.


1 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup *quinoa flour
3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (simply purée day-old bread inners, not crust, in a blender or food processor until coarsely crumbly; it will be warm and moist to touch)
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TB honey
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup corn butter (or another 1/2 cup cream)
Another bit of corn butter or melted butter for brushing

*quinoa flour can be purchased from some grocery and specialty stores (for a hefty price).  When I discovered the Blendtec, I am now able to make my own (well worth the small investment).


Pre-heat the oven to 425-degrees.

Mix the flour, breadcrumbs, salt and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.  With a fork, blend in the honey, then add the cream.  Continue to blend with a fork until it quits “shagging” (Marion and Molly’s term).

Lay it out onto a floured work surface (which I find helpful to have fall onto a piece of wax paper).  Knead to pull it together (it will be wet and sticky). Roll it out with a pin.  In order to keep it from clumping onto the pin, I had to throw a handful of flour onto the dough.  Then, because it looked pasty, I threw over a teaspoon of corn butter to rub over too.  Roll it to 1/2″ thickness.

dough only

Now, you could cut into 12 squares (as Molly says) but I prefer round.  It was quite sticky and did not cooperate very well so my rounds were cattywampus and thin.  This is where I had an epiphany.  I took my thin discs and doubled them up with a layer of corn butter in between.  I also left one or two single-layered and half of them were top-coated with melted butter, while the rest were coated with more corn butter; all of them turned out just fine.  Better than fine, actually.  They are quite good!  yes, this is me admitting to them being good (my family will be shocked).

try thisPretty is not what these are about…

Sometimes it is about the food and flavor, not the…pretty.  Think about that. (pretty gutsy for a lead in to a food bloggers conference…no food porn here)!

How ’bout a random cute photo of my cutie pies instead?

PS_random 2They are acting a little pouty because they don’t get to go to the International Food Blogger Conference even though they are part of the “team”.

PS2_with preserves
Pretty good with boiled down blueberries though (no additives).PS_bittenI guess I should give the pups a nibble.

Down on the Farm and back to the City


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PS_done close 2

I used to tease my brother, Scott, that he was the Country Mouse and I was the City Mouse. As the years go on though, I start yearning more for the tranquility of Nature’s melodies than for the sounds of the energy bursting from the bustling city. I don’t think I would ever completely trade the skyline for clear sky but I can appreciate more now, what a sweet life country living would be.

Last month, Tom and I went to Minnesota for a family reunion. My Grandpa, on my Mother’s side, grew up in Hager City (“City”, current population 338), Wisconsin, which is just a stone’s throw across the mighty Mississippi from Red Wing, MN. It had been over thirty years since I last visited; my Great Grandmother had still been alive. One of my cousins, Sabrina, ended up marrying a gentleman there and now lives on a large farm that houses some of Wisconsin’s premiere dairy cows, supplying milk to the creameries that produce those famous Wisconsin cheeses.

grandpa cropped
Grandpa Brown stepp’in out and me…ssshhhh, I adopted (temporarily) a dog; don’t tell Ginger and Buddy.

I had the opportunity to accompany Sabrina’s husband, “Farmer John”, while he made his rounds at milking time (PM that is, I’d have only been in bed mere hours before AM milking). I had never milked a cow before and didn’t realize what an interesting operation the whole thing was. He let us (me and a half dozen bright eyed wee ones) milk a cow, although I wouldn’t say It was of any help to him, or the cow. In fact, I felt like an intruder, knowing that the cow was being burdened by my/our inexperienced technique. It was not as I expected either. It looked so easy when he showed us.

When I went to place my hand on the cow’s teat, I expected it to be soft and squishy but it was so much larger than I thought and was taut beneath my skin, requiring a swift pull that I did not deliver well. The warm liquid shot out sideways as I did not control my grip.

“Farmer John”

Right before we went into the barn, my sister-in-law, Irma, told me how they used to milk the cow’s milk right into a glass, pour in a shot of tequila and drink it fresh on the spot; (her family has a ranch back in Oaxaca, Mexico). When I saw the liquid squirt out toward me sideways, I couldn’t imagine having an aim good enough to hit a small opening on a glass, let alone wanting to drink it. Watching it hit a pail though (as someone more experienced did) it was cloudy white with frothy bubbles as if it had been warmed to place in a shot of espresso, so the image of their drink seemed like an intriguing ritual.




In addition to milk, one of their main crops is corn.

This is at the Farmer’s Market, not my cousin, but a big heap of corn to unload.

barn keep

Looking around the property, corn stalks surrounded us for as far as you could see. They were bigger than I would have imagined, perhaps twelve or fourteen feet tall. Other than the corn, the only tall structures where the barns and the silos. At night you could hear the whisper that the stalks made as they blew easily in the nights breeze. The only light came from the moon as it lit up the sky, and the flicker of the fire pit around which came good conversation accompanied by wine, until the rain came in and cleansed the earth for the next day.


Tom and I (being ones to elevate every travel experience) stayed at the historic St. James Hotel in Red Wing. My Mom fondly remembers my Grandmother taking her there for lunch as a young child. Then, she wore her white gloves, was taught the proper placement of silverware and to say please and thank you. Our room looked out over the River and the train tracks were nearby (well, across the street). The startling and frequent blowing of the whistle both excited and lullabied us as the trains raced past.  Tom didn’t even use ear plugs after the first night (shocking!).

st james

There was deep-rooted history there, but apparently, no food served after 10:00 pm.  Our first night got us in past this hour and we dined on Chex mix, pretzels and Manhattans (classy, right?).

PS_manhatten duo
We later asked that the cherries (we forgot that was “traditional”) be replaced with lemon twists (although they might have gone nicely with Chex).

PS_chris bartender
The bartenders there were really good though, Chris, in particular, is one I would expect to find behind a serious hipster bar in Portland.

With no coffee pots in the room (gasp!), Tom went down for cappuccinos in the mornings while I showered. We would meet on the veranda where he sat, waiting in a rocking chair with the newspaper, his coffee and a wonderful view of the river, boats and folks.IMG_6458

Later, the scratch Bloody Mary’s would come, served refreshingly good, with a chaser of light beer. A (not so) light breakfast set us up for a day of family and fun.


So, this trip brought us from city to farm and back again.

pour 2
And back at our “homestead”…

Milky Corn Broth with shrimp meat, sweet tomato and avocado  

Needless to say, we were sent home with many ears of fresh corn so when we got back I made a long-time summer favorite, corn broth; it is a broth that eats like a soup.  It is refreshing and pure, tasting deeply of corn which mingles happily with it’s favorite comrade, shrimp.  The sweetness of the corn is offset nicely by the subtle, sweet saltiness of the shrimp and further enhanced by the creamy avocado and textural nuances of tomato.

As I was straining this through my chinois, the liquid resembled the milk from a cow, slightly warm and bubbling as it pooled out and into the bowl.  The final liquid is milky, sweet and gold.  I can’t imagine a more fitting recipe (of mine) than this, to illustrate the influence and coupling of these two commodities; even though there is not actually dairy in this soup (unless you count the butter), it tastes of fresh cream kissed with corn.

The amount of salt and lemon juice will depend on the sweetness of the corn. If overly sweet, the salt and lemon juice help to balance it out.


5 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
1 large (or 2 medium) sweet onions, chopped
2 TB butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups dry white wine or vermouth
4 cups water
1-2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
Lemon juice to taste (perhaps 1-2 TB)

Garnish: Per person, approximately 2 oz shrimp meat (Oregon or Canadian if you can), 1 wedge avocado (diced), 3 sweet baby cherry tomatoes (cut in half or quarters).


Remove the corn from the cobs and reserve the cobs.

In a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic and corn in the butter until soft, approximately 5 minutes. You don’t want it to brown though so keep the temperature slightly low.

Add the white wine, water, reserved cobs to the pot and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and turn the heat down. Let it simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. The lid should help the liquid to keep from evaporating. I like to participate in the process so I check in pretty often to see how the flavor is coming along. I might remove the lid if I feel if it seems too watery and as long as the liquid is not going away altogether, I let it simmer as long as 1 1/2 hours to allow the aromatics to really permeate the liquid. There is not an exactness to the amount of time or liquid quantity, just taste and instinct.

Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. I like to leave it sit until the cobs are cool enough to handle but that is not necessary. Remove the cobs from the pot with tongs and set in a bowl.  Pour the rest of the contents into a chinois placed over a bowl and push on the solids to extract all the liquid and flavor. When the cobs are cool enough to handle, use a knife to squeeze whatever liquid you can from them and add it to the bowl.

Return the liquid to the pot season with salt and lemon juice. Simmer a little more to thicken it slightly. It will be broth but should thicken enough to look like cream.

Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.


Place the shrimp meat in the bottom of individual bowls. Ladle the corn broth over the shrimp meat. top with the avocado and tomato.

If you had a bit of crispy bacon (say left over from breakfast), that might taste good as well (says Tom).

shrimp in bowlpour close

BONUS: Corn Butter

I recently got a Blendtec.  It competes with Vitamix and as far as I know, works every bit as good, if not better.  Plus, it fits under my cabinet and is easy to clean.  I usually throw out the mash of solids after pressing them through my chinois but, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to add them to my Blendtec and put the switch on soup mode.  I ended up with a lovely bowl of corn butter.  It is delicious on toast and I imagine many other things I have yet to discover.

PS_corn butter

And lastly, while we were in MN, we went to a park that had a special place just for monarch butterflies.  This shot is for Sheri at Unfettered Fox, I thought of her as I followed this fellow (and it’s friends) from spot to spot.

IMG_6467Have wings, will fly.

And when a late Summer storm passes through when the special guests need to be escorted to their vehicles, creative pop-up valet service ensues…

PS_johnMan on a mission.

What is wrong with me???


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Wait, don’t answer this. It is meant to be rhetorical. Oh, you already have answered? Sssshhhhh, keep it to yourself, trust me, I already know.

It is September. Yes, the month that comes on the calendar after August, which is in reality, the last true month of summer. Where did the months of June, July and August go (rhetorical, again)? I waited patiently all through the winter months, and then the first month of pre-Spring for the Farmer’s Markets to unfold. I went once back in May, by myself, and made an enormous haul. So enormous that I could barely maneuver the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing without teetering side-to-side. My arms weighed heavy, carrying all that my eyes told me to buy.

I bought a tomato plant too.

Did I mention my arms were full and I was shopping alone?

I left that tomato plant at numerous stands. Weaving through busy crowds, I back-tracked to retrieve it as I happily thought about all the delectable morsels it would someday soon bring.

The last stop got me talking about pickles. Not just pickles, but sauerkraut too. I had to have several large (heavy) jars.

The tomato plant was left behind once again.

It wasn’t until I had reached another 7 minutes into the walk back to my car that I realized Tomato Plant had been abandoned again.

I paused for a moment and pondered about the four dollars I had paid and the worthiness of that money, versus heading back to retrieve it, laden with bags cutting marks into my wrists.

It wasn’t really to do with the money that made me return for Tomato Plant. It was the promise of the red, juicy succulence, bursting into our mouths with nothing more than a rinse from the fountain to clean off their skins. It was also the vision of delicate red balloons, multiplying and offering more sweetness, more nutrients, more summer, again and again and….

As mentioned, it is now September, and that was my only trip to Farmer’s Market this year (until last Friday). What is wrong with me? (Sssshhhhh)

And this new friend that I could not let go, brought only one, yes one, lovely little Roma, that decided to ripen while we were away on a trip. Apparently that was it, and I am most sad.

It is a good thing I was (somewhat) fortuitous in that I did buy a second plant; the type that promises to produce tomatoes. It was in a small wooden basket, gripping from a little wood trellis and did produce a bunch of bright red gems, but, only a few really made the cut. The rest were mealy. Thankfully, a mealy tomato can still make a robust, earthy sauce. So, that is what I did, sauce, times two (well one was actually a purée).

photo 3Sorry girls, he’s taken.

My real problem is this, I sometimes go whole seasons, yearning for the next season. I know, we all do this (no?). I then go through the next season and forget to enjoy (to the fullest), all the delights that said season brings… until the end. I am now at the end of Summer without having reveled in a plethora of perfect tomatoes. And there are few foods I adore more than Summer-fresh tomatoes.

For my sprint to the end (of Summer) though, I have managed to pile 4 bags of produce, farm-fresh eggs, pasta and pickles into my car last Friday from the Bellevue Farmer’s Market before heading off for the weekend where I piled a few more bags of the same (minus pasta) from the local farm stand (Hunter’s Farm) near Hoodsport, WA. I have a very full fridge and a bowl filled with Summer tomatoes (I am happy to say, but anxious about using in time).

This Fall, I must remember to cook using pears and squash. Until then, I give you freshly grown tomatoes, roasted and puréed, served with a side of chicken and eggplant Parmesan (because, it looks a little bit like Fall and I did have mealy tomatoes for sauce).

Roasted tomato (purée) sauce
makes approximately 2 cups

Once, long ago, when I worked at (the sadly now-defunct) Seattle restaurant Italia, I noticed the ovens were constantly filled with sheets of whole tomatoes roasting and sending out a heavenly scent. The cooks would take them from the oven and dump them through a large contraption that separated the meat from the seeds and skin. I have no idea what temperature the ovens were or how long they roasted, but I did know two things; roasted tomatoes made delicious sauce, and roasting tomatoes made everything smell fantastic.

This is less of a recipe than a process. To coax out that earthy, sun-kissed tomato flavor, roasting them low and slow in the oven is a pretty neat trick. Roasting high and quick works pretty well too and I often switch between the two depending on how much time I have, what I am making and how big the tomatoes are; it is pretty hard to screw up at this.

For instance, if I am using smaller, cherry tomatoes that I want to liken to those sun-dried numbers, I usually douse them with a little olive oil, sprinkle over some sea salt and cook them at around 300-degrees until they dry out a bit, but retain their natural juices. At 300-degrees, this might take only an hour or less; if I reduced the oven to 250-degrees it would take longer, but provide a more-succulent result. I am slightly impatient (again, shhhhhhh) so I usually opt to cook at a higher temperature (sometimes 375-degrees) for a shorter time. For this sauce however, low and slow is the way to go.


1 1/2 lbs tomatoes
1 head garlic, outer skin removed, cloves separated, hard inner skin still intact
Olive oil
Sea salt + fresh ground pepper, to taste
Red wine vinegar, to taste

tomatoes raw copy


Preheat the oven to 275-degrees.

Put the whole tomatoes and garlic cloves on a sheet pan. Drizzle over some olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt. Add some herb sprigs if you like, such as fresh thyme, rosemary or oregano. Shake to coat.

Place the pan in the oven and let roast for approximately 2 hours.

cooked tomato

Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor, including juices (if any), yet removing the garlic’s skin (and any skin that easily slips from the tomatoes), as well as picking away the stems from the herbs; purée.

Add the vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and grind of pepper to taste. Process to combine. I sometimes add a little more fresh herb or dried oregano; this is optional because it will taste fantastic with or without.

That’s it. Easy, right? Yes, it truly is. You can use this versatile sauce for many things; use right away or freeze to use later.

Roasted tomato (purée) sauce with a side of chicken + eggplant Parmesan
Serves 4


1 cup (+/-) roasted tomato (purée) sauce – see recipe above

2 smallish eggplants (Chinese or Japanese varieties work too but adjust quantity per slice circumference), sliced into 1 to 1 1/2″ slices.
Olive oil for brushing
Sea salt to season

2 boneless, skinless breasts of chicken, each breast cut in half down the center
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning
Flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup panko
1/8 cup grated Parmesan
Olive oil for frying
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
Soft herbs (such as basil or oregano) for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

Lay the eggplant sides on a baking sheet and brush each side with olive oil. Sprinkle one side with a little sea salt.


Roast the eggplant in the oven for approximately 20-30 minutes. It wants to be slightly browned but not hard. The top will be slightly tough but with a little give to the touch. Remove from the oven and let sit. The eggplant should soften as it sits (making it hard to resist eating directly from the sheet pan; I always make enough to account for my nibbles).

In a shallow plate or bowl, mix the panko and grated Parmesan.

On a cutting board, between two sheets of wax paper, pound the chicken breasts until even and 3/8″ thick. Season with salt and pepper and throw a handful of flour over, lightly coating each side.

Dip each chicken breast quarter in egg, then press into the panko/Parmesan mix. These can set aside 1/2 to 1 hour before cooking.

chick parm

Heat a sauté pan and add enough olive oil to just fill the bottom to 1/8″ deep. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook undisturbed until golden on the bottom side. Flip and cook 30 seconds more. Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined surface.

Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking pan (just enough to barely coat).

Add the roasted eggplant in four vertical lines .

Top each line with a chicken breast quarter.

Pour the remainder of the sauce over all, down the center.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese and chopped fresh oregano.


Bake for 30 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

close up

Now, may I recommend that you serve one quarter chicken + eggplant Parmesan, on a plate alongside a fresh green salad with vinaigrette or dressing of your choice?

photo 2
(note from the editor) Edit with a nice glass of wine, Rosé on a warm Summer day. Enjoy.

photo(And don’t forget, tomatoes are good for pups too)!

The magic mushroom – on health & healing


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PScover shot

There comes a time in everyone’s life where we need to reflect. Reflect upon our health, our happiness and our future.

That time for me, is now. With Buddy’s recent scare, and he and Ginger’s inevitable aging, I put in motion a set of changes to prolong their time with us and ensure they are as healthy, comfortable and pain-free as possible, for what we hope to be, years to come. In our quest for finding the right mix of potions, we realized that what applies to them could and should, help inform our own regiment.

Health and well-being is largely dependent on choices. We make choices everyday and those choices add up to a map of our path that brought us to where we are in life, love, work and health. Some of our health is determined by genetics, but part of our health is dependent on all of the choices that influence each of these areas. I am always amazed at how much we have control of in this seemingly out-of-control world.

Simply put, we need to take control of our lives and be informed about as much as we can to make the right choices. Fifteen years ago, I was challenged with an illness that was determined by genetics. I read up on and educated myself at the time, but if faced today with the same situation, I would have gone at it a little differently, and certainly with more vigor; in fact, that is exactly what I am doing now. More vigor, more thought, more awareness. Genetics never change (although, soon they can).

Today, I would have looked to nutrition, emotional stability, situational acceptance, the power of the mind, and the power of ancient remedies. I would have meditated, done yoga, accepted my situation in a positive light and sought out things that are not the routine answer. This is not to say that I did not do things right, because I did the best I could with what I knew and discovered at the time. I survived and came out, perhaps, a little bit stronger.

It is never too late to start making smarter choices, bigger changes, and positive impacts. One of the first things to do is to make the choice to become better educated on your options for healthy living. The next step is to make a commitment to implementing those things you learn. Then, obviously, you need to take action.  This is obviously easier said than done.

I am, in some capacity, working in all three stages. I was especially happy to find that in the, “becoming better educated” stage, that I have more excuses than ever to seek out, cook and eat wild mushrooms.

Oh, how I love wild mushrooms!
Tom does not.
Turns out they are good for us (much to his chagrin).
So good!

I recently discovered that mushrooms present significant health benefits. So significant in fact, that even Tom can’t ignore. A friend of ours turned us onto the magic of mushrooms. No, not that kind of mushroom (shame on you). Our friend had become ill, lethargic and un-diagnosed. It was not until she began taking these supplements that she was able to resume her life after years of a serious detour.

I had already read a little bit about how mushrooms might be a good thing to incorporate into Buddy’s diet when we thought cancer was lurking within. I became more intrigued after hearing about Heather’s story, and even more intrigued when I began reading up on the supporting research.

Not only are certain varieties believed to have properties that reduce blood pressure, help control diabetes, sharpen memory and strengthen immunity, the largest benefit, in context of ourselves, is inhibiting growth of cancer cells. As with most things, ingesting beneficial foods are usually not effective in delivering the potency required to reward you with maximum benefit; capsules or extracts are best suited for that. It seems though, that eating mushrooms, of any variety, will offer enough of a reward that I can optimistically recommend they find their way to your plate as often as possible. I am certainly not an expert on the subject and certainly won’t pretend to be in this post, so to read for yourself, take a look here, here and here.

I have ordered several products from this site both for Tom and I, as well as for Buddy, Ginger and Dad (read up on Paul Stamets, renowned mycology expert). They have not yet taken residence at my doorstep so I will have to report back in a later post after my real research kicks into place. I will say though, Buddy and Ginger have been religiously taking this (human-grade, made for pets) product for several months now, switching between the joint formula and digestive formula. This, in conjunction to other dietary improvements have made a remarkable difference to their health in this relatively short time. As an bonus, acupuncture for Buddy has proven to provide noticeable relief from a myriad of symptoms. Tom (inspired by Buddy’s unbiased success) has recently joined that club too (and I will talk further on this subject in a subsequent post).

As another thought for cure, and intended to help inform my cousin Bridget, epilepsy in dogs also benefits from acupuncture.  Eric, go with this, it is a small price to pay for a drug-fee loved one and might prove to be a smaller expense long-term.  Read further here for some great thoughts on the subject (Scott and Christine, you will be interested in this too).

So if anyone else is also thinking about improving their health, even the tiniest thing can make a difference. Smile more, frown less (I need to do this). Eat 1/2 instead of the whole (Tom needs to do this). Laugh when you feel like crying. Kiss your dog. Kiss your other dog (even if its just your better half). Appreciate what you have and forgive yourself for what you don’t. Eat your mushrooms. Love your life!

PSclose up

Wild mushroom and corn ragout with tomato & peach
Serves 4

Mushrooms are lovely cooked in butter and olive oil.  However, in keeping it healthy (and shareable with my pups), I am roasting the mushrooms and corn with only the tiniest bit of oil, no salt.

You can serve this by itself as a vegetarian dish, or as I did, serve as an accompaniment to beef braised in tangy peach sauce (recipe follows).


Olive oil
1/2 lb mixed wild mushrooms (approximately) – I used a few small chanterelles, 7 shiitake and 4 trumpet
1 ear of white sweet corn, removed from cob
Pinch of sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, cored and diced
1 peach, peeled and sliced
Truffle oil (optional)

PREPARE & ROAST (the mushrooms + corn)

Gently wipe any dirt or grit from the mushrooms.  Remove the stems from the crimini and portabella (if using).  If using chanterelles, scrape the stems with a pairing knife to remove the grit then trim the bottom of the stem.

Put the mushrooms onto a baking dish lined with foil, and toss with the smallest amount of olive oil needed to lightly coat them; this could be just 1 teaspoon.  Set the corn alongside on the same pan.

Roast them in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Check on them after 10 minutes to be sure they are not drying out.  Give them a little stir to mix them with the juices that should be starting to release.  If they seem too dry, close them up in the foil for a few minutes.  Pull the corn from the oven if the kernels are tender and cooked at this time.  The mushrooms are done when they are tender and browned.  The trumpet mushrooms will take a bit longer than other varieties.

Alternative cooking method for the mushrooms:

Heat a little olive oil in a pan.  Add a knob of butter and let it melt before adding the mushrooms.  

Cook for several minutes, stirring a few times, until the juices begin to release.  Sprinkle a pinch of salt over and grind in some pepper.  

Add the garlic and continue cooking until the liquid evaporates.  The whole thing will take about 10-15 minutes.

PS2just veg


Lay down a few slices tomato on each plate and scatter the corn.  Divide the mushrooms, selecting a mix of the varieties for each plate.  Add in the peach slices and sprinkle with a little salt.  A few drops of truffle oil are a nice addition if you feel so inclined.

PSmeat with sauce

Beef Braised in Tangy Peach Sauce

Serves 4

This braised beef, as well as the sauce, is delicious over the mushroom and corn ragout.  You can roast the mushrooms and corn at the beginning of the braising time since the oven begins at 400-degrees.  The oven will then get turned down for the remainder of the braise, at which time the mushrooms and corn can be set aside and heated-through later.

The sauce will make approximately 3 cups, but for this you will only need 1 cup, so you will have extra to freeze or bottle for later use.


1 1/2 lbs choice boneless beef ribs
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Spelt flour for dredging
Olive oil for browning
1 cup tangy peach sauce (see recipe here)
1 sweet onion, trimmed and sliced


Line a baking dish (large enough to hold the ribs) with foil. The foil should be large enough to fold over and cover the ribs. Place the slices of onions onto the foil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

Season the beef with salt and pepper, then dredge through the flour.

Heat a sauté pan and add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Brown all sides of the beef; be sure to let it sit undisturbed until one side is brown before moving. When it is ready to be turned, it should easily come away from the pan without sticking.

When all sides of the beef ribs are browned, transfer to the baking dish, setting the ribs over the onions.

Deglaze the sauté pan with red wine and scrape all the bits up to pour over the ribs.

Pour the peach sauce over the ribs and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Baste the ribs with the sauce and cover with the foil. Continue cooking until they are tender, basting occasionally, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 more hours. During that time, if the pan gets too dry, you can add a little water.

The onions will be caramelized and taste delicious served under or alongside the beef. You can use the pan sauce after removing the fat, or as I did, use some of the tangy peach sauce that was not used for cooking.


In Loving Memory of Amber Bender, September 2002 – August 2014

My dear sister-in-law Laura, our heart goes out to you and our/your beautiful, sweet Amber. She will always be by your side and in all our hearts.

photo 7I love you Mom; I’ll meet you at the other side.

Just Peachy (1 sweet + 2 savory)


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I’ve always wanted a fruit tree; one that actually produces fruit, unlike our cherry trees, which do not. Apple trees grow well in our neck of the woods, as do plum trees, cherry and fig. I don’t know how to do it but I think I need to plant a fig tree soon.

For now though, I am currently without fruit (on tree). Luckily, when our next door neighbors Kam and Amy moved in, they had a peach tree that they didn’t want so they gave it to their friends, Neil and Stacy, who moved in across the street from us shortly after they moved in next door. Neil and Stacy re-planted that tree in their front yard and then several years later, sold the house to Piotr (AKA “P”). It has been a decade now since that tree was relocated, but it has just in the last couple of years, began to produce fruit.

The fruit from this peach tree feeds many squirrels, birds, bugs, and the bunny in the neighborhood, in addition to providing a juicy accompaniment to my morning yogurt, plus an endless amount of cooking inspiration. The branches fell heavy and full several weeks ago, so in an attempt to salvage a branch in distress, Tom and I picked the fuzzy, round balls which slipped easily from their stems, out of their clothing and into a basket, a bag, or a bath.

Parboiling them loosens their skin, allowing it to peel away easily for freezing, baking or saucing. Otherwise, keep them in the basket if they are ripe, in a paper bag if they are not; eat raw with yogurt and freshly made granola (or the best that you can buy).

If you are like me (lucky enough to have a neighbor/friend willing to let you take copious amounts of them, and still kind enough to bring you a bag of them picked from the tree’s top), you will need other ideas; so, here are a few ways I like to use peaches (with corresponding recipes of course):

Spicy Peach Galette
Peach Barbecue Sauce (use for baby back ribs or on a lamb + feta burger)
Tangy Peach Sauce (use to braise beef or sauce fish)


Spicy Peach Galette
Makes 2 galettes

photo 7

I have always admired the imperfect and irregular shape of the galette. Galette is filled more sparingly than pie and with the thin profile and lovely drape, it crisps nicely, making it a welcome addition to your morning coffee, or with a light dollop of crème fraîche it has all the nuances of an elegant dessert. Galette is portable if you want to tuck it in your picnic basket or it sets nicely atop a fancy plate waiting to hold court. Galette is easy and forgiving if baking isn’t really your thing, but can be made to look quite pretty if you are patient enough to spend time arranging the fruit just so. This galette is filled with sweet peaches and then spiced a bit with cayenne-spiked honey. I was inspired by all the galettes that have been popping up as of late, and with a healthy basket of peaches on hand, it seemed as good of time as any to give the galette a try. Plus, I had half a recipe of pie dough still hanging out in my freezer from my Red, White and Blueberry pie.


1 pound peaches, peeled and pitted (4-5 small)
A good sprinkle of cornstarch
1/2 recipe pie dough
1 lime wedge

2 TB honey
1/4 tsp cardamon
1/4 heaping tsp dried oregano
Several shots cayenne pepper powder

Cayenne spiked honey for glazing (this is how mine looked, this was enough for one of the galettes so I made another of the same, reflected in the amounts of ingredients listed above)


Thaw the dough in the refrigerator (if frozen). Be sure it is still chilled, but soft enough to roll. Divide the dough in half and roll, one half at a time on a floured surface. As soon as it is rolled, transfer to a non-stick baking sheet before the dough becomes too soft to move. Sprinkle approximately 1 tsp of cornstarch over each dough round.

Squeeze lime juice over the peaches and arrange them in the center of the rounds, leaving a few inches at the sides. Fold the sides over to cover just the edge of the peaches.

Mix the honey, cardamon, oregano and cayenne in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds (just long enough to make the honey soften).

Brush the honey over the tops of the peaches, and bake in a pre-heated, 400-degree oven for approximately 12 minutes. If the peaches have too much liquid, stirring in a little cornstarch will help.  When finished, let cool slightly on the pan and enjoy right away or cover and refrigerate or freeze.


Peach Barbecue Sauce
makes approximately 4 cups

barbeque sauce


Olive oil to sauté
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano chili, large dice
2 tomatoes, cored and large dice
4 peaches, skinned, cored and large dice
1 bottle of ale (I used Red Hook IPA, but any good ale will do)
3 TB organic ketchup
1 TB Grenache (or other red wine) vinegar
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly torn


Sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft (5 minutes or so). Turn up the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat to low and continue cooking until things become nicely combined and slightly thickened (about 30 more minutes). Purée with a hand blender or in a food processor. Adjust seasonings to taste.

lamb burger 1
Peach barbecue sauce in & on lamb burger with feta, grilled onion and peach


Tangy Peach Sauce

Coconut oil for sauté
1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 TB coriander seeds, toasted and freshly ground

2 lbs peaches, peeled and pits removed (approximately 4 cups peach meat)
1 cup water
1/2 cup coffee
Juice of 4 limes (approximately 5 TB)
3 TB fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp siriacha sauce



In a small amount of coconut oil, sauté the garlic and jalapeño for a few minutes over relatively low heat. Add the ground coriander and stir.

Add the peaches, followed by the fish sauce, siriacha, water, coffee and lime juice.

Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and let simmer until it has reduced and thickened, approximately 30 minutes.

Put the mixture through a food mill and then purée with a hand held blender or in a food processor. You should have about 3 cups. Check for flavor. If you like it spicier, add more siriacha, too spicy, add more lime and perhaps some honey.

This freezes well or you can bottle it following this process.

Ginger buddy
Not bottled and not frozen, Ginger & Buddy are peachy too + they eat peach!

Flowers + peaches courtesy of our friend Piotr, thanks “P”.

Short (stack)


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short stack

It is a beautiful day.  It was filled with laughter, love and food.  I turned one year younger today and although I have much to say, I am keeping this one short and sweet.

I woke up to my loving dogs, barking birthday wishes (or was it just to go out?).  Followed by my loving husband, bringing me coffee and juice in bed.  I turned on my tech with email greetings, and followed this link to a video sent from Pete.  Gotta love a GOOD laugh!  Not sure what I wanted to eat, I quickly decided PANCAKES, PANCAKES, pan,la la pancakes to a tune you will soon also be singing (if you follow the link).

So, watch this video.  Sing that song.  Make these cakes:

The fluffiest (f*cking) pancakes ever! 

(For today, anyway).  I may have made the (non-) bush-league version since my flour and my sugar were not white, my eggs were organic, my butter was Irish, my buttermilk was actually almond milk and my blueberries were, in fact, local (but yes, product of USA).  So perhaps mine were not quite as pictured on TV, yet tasty indeed!


1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 TB turbino sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup cream on top, plain yogurt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TB maple syrup
2 TB butter, melted and cooled slightly

Blueberries, optional



In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites to fluff and then whisk in the milk, yogurt, vinegar and syrup. Alternatively, you can use buttermilk instead of the almond milk yogurt and vinegar (I only had almond milk and yogurt which worked out just fine).

Whisk the egg yolks and then whisk in the melted butter.

Add the egg white mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just unit it comes together (lumps are okay).

Stir in the egg yolk mixture.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.


On a hot, oiled (I did not use Pam) griddle, plop spoonfuls of the batter spaced an inch or two apart. If using berries, drop the berries onto the wet surface of the pancake now. Let cook, undisturbed, until bubbles form on top.

Using a spatula, flip the cakes over. The tops should be golden. If not, add a little butter to the pan and let it seep underneath. Continue cooking a few minutes more.

Serve with butter and finest Canadian maple syrup (oops, I used Trader Joe’s). Grilled pork sausages and fresh peaches are a flavor explosion not to be missed.

two plates
Breakfast for 2 humans and 2 pups (bowl of peaches and blueberries for the 4-legged ones). 

Oh, one more thing, I got many birthday wishes and I do appreciate them all but I feel the need to share two that took the (birthday) cake.

pup cardFrom my darling little pups.  I forgive them their spelling.

dad card
Thanks Dad and Linda!  Another GOOD laugh for the day, plus a dancing hula with music.  With the weather, I really felt like we were in Hawaii.

If I could attach a clip from my voicemail, you all would get to experience an outstanding “birthday song” performance from the Edwards/Cappadona clan; big thanks and well done!

Love you all!

Ten Shades of re(a)d


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10 shades
Journals #1 – 10 from 1998 – 2014

I have an affinity for red. This is quizzical since I most always wear black. I don’t usually wear lipstick, but if I did, the colors of my journals seem like they might be a good fit. These are my journals.

Ten journals. Eight handwritten and two high-tech. Tom brought me into the age of computer journaling the Christmas of 2012, when he gifted me my own iPad Mini, inscribed lovingly on the back “For Saucy – Love Guinea & the Pigs”.

I was still teetering on beginning a new handwritten journal and moving into the current Century. I inherited (or shall I say, took-over) Tom’s iPad (yes, the first version) when I finished handwritten journal number 8. The things written on Tom’s iPad are what I refer to now as, “the lost chapters” because the Pages app got corrupted and lost everything at some point; until the “genius” mentioned a software program that was able to recoup some of those entries (but I’m sure not all).

This original iPad to which I am referring, has a cover that is Black. My journals are Red!

Ironic I know. Such is my life. Ironic, but good.

From here-forward, this 3rd day of August, 2014, I begin journal number 10 (so this is a changing of the “guard”, if you will). My current Mini in it’s second leather cover. In honor of this new chapter (journal), I have set up a new page that indexes all of the posts from this blog, by month, year, title and recipe.

You can check it out here and I hope it inspires you to revisit, or visit for the first time, the stories of 10 Legs in the Kitchen. A kitchen always in motion, always in flux and always with love.

Salad of Duck Confit, starring: Strawberry and Fig


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Everyone knows that Fig and Duck can sing a nice song and that Arugula hits the same nutty note time and again.  Strawberry and Chèvre hit both the high notes and low notes, leaving plenty of room for Fig and Duck to chime in.  It is Onion that can sometimes venture off-key.  However, choose an already sweet one from Walla Walla or Maui and it is sure to fit in.  Macerated in a little vinegar and tuned up with olive oil, the band gets together and plays a nice gig called, “Summertime, Salad, Strawberries and Fig”.

They will be performing (as an encore) this weekend over at Angie’s weekly party, Fiesta Friday.

Salad of Duck Confit: starring Strawberry & Fig

Serves four – six

When making this salad for just Tom and myself, I usually still use the same proportions for the vinaigrette; it can be used throughout the week for other salads or to drizzle over fish.  The amount of strawberries, figs and onions you macerate can vary depending on how many people you are serving.  Any leftover onions are delicious on the grill to serve with your next meal (I just grilled my leftover onions last night and served them with our hanger steak).

INGREDIENTS (for Vinaigrette)

7 cleaned, quartered strawberries, stem removed
1 knob butter
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 pinch fleur de sel plus pepper (
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil


4 qty. 1/4″ slices, sweet onion (such as Walla Walla) cut into large pieces
4 figs, cut in half then quartered
7 strawberries, hulled, quartered
6 qty. 1″ x 1″ pieces of bread. Brush with olive oil and grill to just golden each side (1-2 minutes each side depending on grill). Do this in a sauté pan if grilling is not an option.
2 ounces chèvre
2 duck confit legs, meat removed from bone (skin and excess fat reserved for another use)
1 bunch arugula, cleaned and spun dry

PREPARE (the Vinaigrette)

Sauté the 7 strawberries in butter a minute or two until they are slightly loosened. Add the sparkling wine or prosecco and continue to cook until some juices from the berries release. Reduce this down to about 3-4 TB liquid (it will be pinkish in hue).

photo 7

Transfer the mixture to a chinois and squeeze the liquid into a bowl.  You should have about 1/4 cup liquid.

photo 4

Add the vinegar plus whisk in the oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

PREPARE (the Salad)

Add the cut onions to the vinaigrette, along with the cut figs and strawberries. Cover with a lid (or wrap) and let sit to macerate for a 1/2-hour or so, (seasoned to taste, with a little sea salt and pepper, if needed).

Brush the bread cubes with olive oil and grill them until slightly golden on each side (1-2 minutes per side).  Alternatively, you can do this in a sauté pan.

Heat the duck confit on a piece of foil in a 350 degree oven until just warm, approximately 5 minutes.

PS full plate 2


Mound a small pile of arugula, tightly, on the center of each plate. Top with a crouton.

Using a spoon, drizzle some of the vinaigrette over each mound (mindfully saving a little for you… for later, in a jar). Using tongs, divvy, the onion pieces, strawberry slices and fig quarters among plates.

Divide the duck meat among the plates, tucking it in in with the fruit.

Crumble over goat cheese. Enjoy.


Last one to the party misses out on the duck!!!

Willpower (is over-rated)…


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…until you are done indulging.

I just finished a box of crackers that I kept proclaiming to be, not very good.  Yet, as the box stared me in the face on the counter each day (not having quite made it to the bin), I reached in, for just one, to take away a small growing hunger.  Once I had one cracker, inevitably, another handful ensued.  These were not delicious, but I could not stop from having them, one after another as if I was willing them to taste great; subliminally they were great.  Until I stopped eating them.  Then they were not (great).  At that point, I finally realized, for the tenth time, how mediocre they were.

This is where I proclaim never to buy cracker products again (ha).  Well, I certainly won’t buy that product again… until I do; amnesia sets in at some point during trips to the market (why? I don’t know).  What I do know is never say never.  Although, I really do mean it at the time.  Indulgence is tricky.  Sometimes it is for good things and sometimes for bad.  Willpower is not my strong suit since making excuses (justifications) is something I do particularly well (at least in my head).

Once when I was young, say 10 or 12, I was canoeing on the lake behind our house and consumed an entire box of Ritz crackers.  I just  c o u l d  n o t  stop.  I kept telling myself it was okay to keep eating them because, now opened they would just go bad, or, more likely, get soggy.  I told myself that I was skinny and these were wafer thin.  I had already indulged in half the pack so I might as well finish the rest.  So I did.  Later I became sick.

I don’t deny myself food when I feel it is needed (whatever that need might be), but I wish I had willpower to say no to those things that I know will not agree with me later.

So, today, right here, right now, rather than give you the anti-cracker (because I don’t really know what the anti-cracker would be – thoughts?), instead, I vow never to eat a full box of crackers again (at least not mediocre ones) and I give you my top 10 list of things (better for you than crackers) that I should (and do) eat when hungry for a snack (not in any particular order).

Cottage cheese (one or two spoonfuls usually does the trick, otherwise a slice of Swiss cheese will do).  What am I saying?  Cheese, just cheese.
Toast!  With great butter and jam, or almond butter (see below).
Beans of any legume variety (I am addicted to black, pinto and white beans, lentils, chickpeas, cranberry beans, or the like, and of course – hummus!).  I am literally, full of beans.
Leftover steak (yes, I usually have a little piece of tenderloin in our ‘fridge cooked from our “Friday steak night”).  If not, roast chicken, roast pork or turkey cutlets are usually afoot.  The stand-in deli meat makes an occasional appearance.  Just need a little meat please (Buddy-approved statement).
Avocado, scooped straight from the shell.  Morning, noon or night.
Granola (I usually have homemade or good-quality granola hanging about).  This is a good substitute for dessert, one handful would (should) be sufficient.
Nuts of any kind, but best of all are sprouted almonds or sprouted pumpkin seeds (no added salt).
Almond butter, in substitute of PB (best scooped finger to mouth, Ginger-approved).
Goat’s milk ice cream (with La Loo, why would you even eat cow’s milk?).
Mini tacos.  Don’t ask, on the “bad” list.
Figs (when in season), smushed onto a crostini slathered with chèvre.  Sometimes also drizzled with honey.

Hmmm… I think that was eleven (but one does go on the bad list).

PSbuddy cheese 2Cottage cheese works well for Buddy.  He prefers a fork to a spoon.

PSPBGGinger enjoys this diversion from licking paws (sort of).

Me…well, I had a little bit of each.

The “nibbler” strikes again.

What is your go to snack?


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