bored meetings are boring: by buddy

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I thought I was a Pup of Leisure.

Mom recently got into the habit of hauling us to the office with her and now I spend my days surrounded by paperwork (literally)!

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And the buzz of electronic machinery.

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I even had to attend a meeting in the talking room.

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Ginger’s not paying attention!

So, I’ve already been invited to a bored meeting; I now see how it got it’s name.

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Huh?  Even my attention is waning.

The first day I came to the office, I started out taking dictation.

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Uh huh, yup, I’m listening….(snort, snarf, snoozzzzzzz).

They didn’t even let me take off my coat first, but at least I got to bring my own chair.

yes, yes, i'm listening

wutz that?  yes, yes, I’m listening…

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dictation is  h a r rr d .

Of course, Princess didn’t have to work.

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As soon as I’m rested, I think I’ll go to the water cooler where the real action is…

After proving my abilities though, I got promoted; now I get sent out to fetch lunch.

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i have to watch out for princess too (don’t forget that I’m the boss)

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come on ginger, the food is better at this truck

I wonder What’s for dinner? or betteR yet, I wonder what Mom iz cooking for dinner?

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I think tomorrow I’m gonna call in sick

Food Matters: by Ginger

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I used to be the gal that really got excited by going to Dick’s Drive-in with Mom and Dad because they always gave me bites of their hamburger (which, by the way, was really delectable).  Buffy, my sister who I only met once, got to go all the time and she got her own burger.  I even heard that our Uncle Petey used to take her through the drive-thru at another (not-to-be-named) drive-thru and get her her own burger when he pup sat for her in the “old” days.  They were tight.  I was led to believe that I would get my own burger too, but it turns out that Mom and Dad decided to become more healthy in their eating habits since I’ve been around, which coincidentally, trickled down to me and my prescribed eating habits.  I never got excited about eating the food they called my “prescription diet”, whatever that was suppose to mean.  They thought I would love it because it was made with duck and potato but I found it to be uninspiring and bland.  Who can honestly get excited about dry, hard nuggets of duck and potato, processed so intently that it tastes only of smelly, vile chemicals, in a “healthy” way.  I tasted Mom’s duck and her potatoes, and I can say for certain that my food tasted nothing like hers.

This led me to become a (bad) beggar, or at least that is what they called me.  I know it was annoying, but how would you feel if you had to watch someone cook every night, creating wonderful aromas, and all you got to eat was fake-tasting duck nuggets?  I was constantly asking to join the family for dinner, because, well, I am part of the family, and I too care what my food tastes like!

But that was a long, long time ago.  One day, the bag that was kept in the cabinet above our eating area (containing our fake nuggets), suddenly disappeared (!) and our bowls were instead filled with a much more palatable meal.  This pleased me very much.  Buddy became a ravenous (and noisy) eating machine, and I was happy to go along with it.  Instead of ignoring my old food put out in the morning until hunger got the better of me at night, I too began waking up, wanting to be fed our new food.  In fact, I’d wake my parents up with my textbook snarfing to get them to the kitchen asap!

After the initial euphoria wore down, I started to realize we were eating much better food, and I must admit, we have a pretty civilized set-up for dining, but (and this is a big “but”) it still wasn’t as good as the stuff Mom cooked.  I still smelled those tantalizing aromas each day and yearned for the food that they ate.  Yes, I got to taste it, but that was just like dangling a carrot in front of my nose (but oh how I do love my carrots; sometimes they dangled carrots and I would dance on my back legs).

Then, it happened.  Something good came out of something bad, which in turn made it good again (did that make sense to you?).  It might sound confusing, but hang in with me here.  Last year Buddy stopped eating his food.  I mean, like seriously, stopped!  At first, I helped him out by eating his portion too, but then I got a little suspicious that something might be wrong.  I decided to stop eating so much too.  There were a lot of visits to Doc, but she didn’t even poke me a lot of those times, just him, and then there was a lot of coddling of Buddy that went on, which I didn’t like so much.  He didn’t seem very good and I started to wonder if it was something he ate?  Uh oh, I was eating it too!  Hmmm, I was feeling okay?  I threw-up a few times but other than that, I was just fine.  Within days of his not eating, there was a big change in the kitchen.  The food that was cooking and those incredible smells I was smelling, were for us.  Before I knew it, Buddy was eating again.  I was definitely eating again, and this time I was eating the kind of food I wanted to eat.

Our Mom is a very good cook.  I now know what it feels like to have a home-cooked meal every day.  I understand how earth-shattering it is to be able to have variety in my meals.  I am on top of the world!  I am so glad to be alive!  The best part is that Buddy is alive too!!  He has been better ever since (and even though he gets other things done to him that I am glad I don’t have to endure), I know he likes being around too!  Keep it coming Mom!

The moral of the story is that food matters to us all.  Eat well, live well, be well.

 

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Life’s messy, clean us up!

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Doggy Turkey Delight

Stacey here:  I admit that sometimes I was a distracted Mother and ran out of my stash of food for the pups.  I know they think I cook for just them every night because they do have a home-cooked meal every day and night but the truth is, I often have help.  Along with my creations, I also buy custom made-for-them food from Paws Custom Pet Foods to have as filler for the times I can’t (or don’t have time to) cook for them.  I buy the nutrition bottle or kit plus an herbal supplement specifically for kidney disease from Paws, so that I can cook for my pups myself.  I try to mix up the ingredients and recipes to make it more interesting for all of us.  This rendition of pressure-cooked turkey breast, sweet potato, quinoa and peas was a particular pup pleaser (there were some other ingredients too).

I use a pressure cooker to make this but if you don’t have one, you could cook in all together in a slow cooker (I am guessing for 3-4 hours on high) or braise it in the oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or so until turkey is cooked through and shreds away from the bone.

It comes together without as much effort as it sounds and makes the house smell like a Sunday dinner at Mom or Grandma’s house.  It was so good that I found myself eating it too, which is quite the point; why feed something to the “family” that you wouldn’t eat yourself…yum!

INGREDIENTS

1.5 lbs  bone-in turkey breast (I got a Kosher breast from Trader Joe’s), most of the skin removed

3 cups water (or more as needed)

16 oz shelled English peas (you can buy a bag of these at Trader Joe’s)

12 oz green beans, cleaned and diced into 1/4″ dice

8 oz sweet potato, uncooked, skin removed and diced into 1/4″ dice

6-8 oz peeled baby carrots, diced into 1/4″ cubes

1/4 cup uncooked quinoa (I use red quinoa)

1 egg yolk (optional)

4 tsp Paw’s Custom Pet Foods nutrition (optional but highly recommended)

4 tsp Paw’s Custom Pet Foods detox supplements (optional)

 

COOK

Put the water into the vessel of a pressure cooker (I use an electric Cuisinart pressure cooker) and add the turkey breast.  Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.

When all the steam has released, remove the meat from the bone, discard the bone, shred it and chop a little bit.  Add the meat back to the vessel.  Add the remaining ingredients, (except for the nutrition and supplements).  Add a little water if it has evaporated (it should not cover all the way but be enough in the bottom to add steam).

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Cook on high pressure for 10-minutes more.  When all the steam has released, check the ingredients to be sure everything is soft.  If you want it to be softer, cook for 2-3 minutes more on high pressure.  This is personal depending on your dog’s size and ability to chew.

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Transfer the contents of the vessel to a sheet pan to let it cool.  At this point, I use a potato masher to just smoosh it a bit to break up the peas.

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Once cooled to room temperature, add the nutrition and supplements (if using), and mix well.

Transfer to containers for storage and to freeze.  I used ones that were recycled from food bought at Paw’s Custom Pet Foods that held 1 1/2 lbs each.

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Ginger and Buddy combined, eat 1 1/2 lbs per day, so I froze two containers and left the others fresh to feed for the next several days.  If you have questions about feeding size recommendations for your pup, contact Shelly at shellyfuller@pawscafe.com.  She is very approachable and loves to make sure your dog is eating well.

 

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Let the kids clean up

So long… our Friend (by Ginger)

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Monkfish with pan drippings

I woke up this morning going about my usual routine; a long, full body stretch, followed by a down dog (that’s me), then an up dog (me again) and a loud snarf. The morning was cool but the sheets were warm and as I jumped from the bed, I rolled to and fro, feet up in the air, letting out a signal that I wanted to be rubbed. When that didn’t work, I went on to scratch myself, hard and fast, under the arm. Before I could move into biting at my back, I was hit in the head with a flying panda bear; pretty sure Buddy sent Panda my way, probably to get me to stop making such a racquet.

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It couldn’t have been Buddy or I, look how innocent we look…

I just can’t seem to get over this itch though! I know I have my allergies and some days they bother me more than others but lately, it has been a REAL _itch. The kind of itch that makes me go into a scratching fit for real relief rather than just for attention (more acupuncture please).

This time of year is always a little crazy in that there are Holidays going on (well there were holidays going on). Santa Claus came several weeks ago and the time leading up to his visit was a little hectic and varied from the usual order of business. For instance, a few days before Santa came, Buddy’s and my usual morning routine was diverted from that leading into a peaceful day of relaxation and calm sprinkled in with squirrel watching and biting my tail (cuz it really does itch now). Did I mention I’m allergic to pine (aka Christmas) trees?  Oh, but I love them so.  Ahhhh, but it was our spa day. On spa days, instead of longingly watching Mom and Dad leave for work, tails down in something they call “Snuffleupagus mode”, Buddy and I get bundled up in our coats and harnesses and carried by Mom to the car. Buddy starts to shake. I’m not sure if he is cold or just thinks we are going to see Doc, but I feel invigorated because I know we are going to see Victoria (I love Victoria and Buddy does too). Victoria cuts our hair (and has all of the time we have ever been with Mommy & Daddy). She does more than that though, she spoils us with her sweet, friendly charm and her patience for our shenanigans (especially Buddy’s). She is nice to everyone but we always feel extra special and secretly know that she would do anything for us. We get plenty of water and walks and love, even though there are many other dogs that are vying for her attention.

I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time that I hated going to that place. When I was a puppy, I was afraid of the water and thought the brush was a monster with big spiky fangs….yikes! Going to see Victoria (and Sue) meant being dipped in water and scrubbed. It meant being dried with a machine that blows air on us that is loud, and it meant getting rid of all the braids that formed in the time between visits. It also meant leaving feeling pretty and dainty when all I wanted to do was romp around in the leaves and the dirt, chewing on twigs. But now, being the Princess that I am, I like to feel pretty and Victoria always makes me feel pretty (and the product she uses leaves us smelling good).

Since I have been going there for so many years, Victoria also knows what I/we like. For instance, she knows that Buddy and I have sensitive ears and so she puts cotton balls gently inside them during bath time and drapes a hood over our head to protect them from the noise of that crazy air machine. She knows we like to be put front and center so we can see all the action coming and going through the front door and out on the street. She knows we like to sit together (Buddy and I), even though we used to pretend not to like each other when Buddy first became my brother. We also like Victoria to talk to us and tell us how wonderful we are.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, as we were about to leave, she told us she was going to miss us. I asked her to explain and as she did, her eyes teared up and her voice cracked a little. Funny though, cuz as she told us about her new adventure, I could tell it was something she looked forward to doing.

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Buddy thinks he’s always the last to know.

From here (Looking Good Grooming) though, it was time to for her to retire, from this. I have been around the block a time or two. I know good from bad. I know right from wrong. Most of all, I know friend from foe. Victoria is our friend and no matter where she goes, it will never be just good bye, but rather, so long…until we meet again, when I can say “hello”.

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Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Monkfish Medallions with pan drippings and sautéed kale (with mushrooms and cipollini onions)

For Victoria, we present monkfish, because monkfish is actually “angel fish” and Victoria has been our angel. Also, monkish is a delicious, delicate white fish that is firm in texture but soft on taste. Mom always cooks a chunk for us, wrapped in foil to keep it moist and soft but without the salt and pepper they put on theirs. There are many sauces that would work with this but keeping it simple is just as good and much less fuss. Mashed potatoes or polenta is also a nice accompaniment to complement the texture of the fish.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb monkfish – trimmed of cartilage (ask your fishmonger to do this.  You are looking to have a nice, clean log (isn) of fish.
Salt and pepper to season
Flour for dusting
Olive oil and butter to sauté
A splash of white wine
1/2 head kale cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 Crimini mushrooms, stem removed and sliced
1 large or several small cipollini onions, cut into wedges

PREPARE & COOK MONKFISH

1.  Slice the monkfish into 3/4-inch thick medallions.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper then dust with flour.
3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan until hot, but not smoking. Add the fish medallions and let brown on the first side, without touching (approximately 3 minutes). Turn and cook 2-3 minutes more.
4. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lemon and let simmer until it is mostly evaporated.
5. Add 2 pats of butter and let melt. Swish around the pan to coat the bottom of the fish and add a splash of white wine.  Let simmer slightly until warm and remove from heat to plate.

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MEANWHILE, LET’S COOK THE KALE:

1.Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and cippolini onions. Saute for 5 minutes or until just soft.
2. Add the kale to the pan (I like to massage the kale first in olive oil, lemon and a pinch of salt just to loosen).
3. This should cook over medium-low heat while cooking the fish. Stir or toss periodically.

SERVE:

Plate the medallions of fish with a small pile of kale and a small pile of either mashed potato or polenta (red potato mash is pictured). Drizzle the pan drippings around the medallions of fish and squeeze over more lemon if desired.

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Ginger's head

Looking back to the salon as we drive off.  Until we meet again my dear friend…

 

60!

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The year was 1951.  A couple, a young child and their dog drove up the Al-Can highway after the war and soon opened, what was at the time, a small shack of a diner.  They soon hired a waitress named Agnes (Aggie).  They woke up early, went to bed late and peeled potatoes, fried chicken, griddled burgers, and spun a yarn in-between.  50 years later (10 years ago), Aggie was still there, cooking, smiling and helping to shape the sense of Place.  The child was now grown with three siblings, three children of her own and a much different job, running the offices of a US Senator.

The man and the woman were still married and still the Host and Hostess of an ever-present gathering spot in Alaska, serving the best fried chicken, burgers and shakes around.  They had created an institution.  The photos on the walls told the story of those 50 years and the years preceding them.  A WWII pilot, George met Peggy waiting tables at a diner in Utah when he began courting her.  It was a fast romance that resulted in that previously mentioned child.  On this day, some 60 years later, The Lucky Wishbone still has a line out the door during the lunch rush, has some of it’s original employees or their offspring, their original patrons and/or their offspring and is still owned/operated by 94-year-old George Brown, my Grandfather.  And you guessed it, that child is my Mother.

This November 30, 2015, The Lucky Wishbone turns 60.  I am so proud.  If walls could speak, the stories would be many.  Each of us kids have put in our time there learning what it is like to put in a good day’s work for a good day’s pay.  Learning what quality product and service should be.  Learning so much….about life.  I personally, feel the Lucky Wishbone shaped who I am today, for many reasons.  I know it has shaped the lives of many others, both patrons and staff.

To George and Peg (Grandma is smiling from above) – Congratulations!  To Grandpa and Grandma – I love you and thank you!  To all the employees that I worked with and ate with and grew to know as family – Salute!.

Happy Birthday to “the Bone”! (and Happy Birthday to my Tom whose birthday it is today; you still light up my life).

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I think I’ll go cook up some fried chicken now myself.  But Julia, might you bring some home for me?

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The second act

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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.

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Whew!

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Warming up after the romp in the sand.

 

 

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

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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, GOOP.com, 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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

PREP

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.

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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!

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dog days, by ginger

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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.

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Hmmmmm….

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).

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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.

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Comfy

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)!

INGREDIENTS

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)

COOK

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!

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

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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

COOK

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

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

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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.

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.

uncooked

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!

Love,
Saucey

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!

sesamme

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.

Then…

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…

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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…

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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).

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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!

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