Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stuffing Stockings

My future Mother-in-law, Ginny, invited us all to stuff stockings yesterday for the local shelters and homeless kids around Seattle. She had the largest division with over 500 stockings filled! We had so much fun and of course it felt good to give back as well. Last year I volunteered to tutor kids in low income housing projects and I loved it, but it became too difficult for me to do once a week with my own work schedule, taking classes and having a new home so I had to stop doing it after a year. I am now looking for some volunteering activity that is perhaps once a month or I can sign up on days I know I'm free, so that's one of my goals for this next year. Remember, New Year's Resolutions are coming up soon. I've always like New Years Resolutions, it's a time to re-evaluate and see if there are things you can do better in the year to come--it makes me feel good to know I'm actively working on myself and making note of it.

We've got our spa Christmas party at our house tonight so I made my very first gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting. We'll see how that tastes tonight. I also made one of my favorite pasta salads with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and arugula, but this time I added some salami and extra basil as well. We like it because it's so tangy. I made truffles this week with Sarah and Morgan--Caramel salt, oreo, toffee, kahlua and peanut butter. I'm terrible at making them, despite them tasting good, and I will never make them again. What a pain in the butt!! They are ugly too. Really ugly. The lasagna recipe I promised to report on turned out to be incredible and now my current favorite lasagna and the one I will use from now on. Some of the secrets to it were less noodles, both beef and pork, three kinds of cheese, fresh herbs, red wine and lots of good tomatoes. I also simmered the sauce for 3 hours before I even got started on the assembly of it--it was so good!

I'll be student assisting in a couple of CC classes this week so I'll take pictures and report on what we make. That is if I can get through the snow to get over to Beacon Hill. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Celia's Gingerbread House

Celia and I made a date to build a Gingerbread house this week. For a kid that can't buy all the candy in the world she wants, this is a time where she can pick out all the candy she's ever wanted to try and not have to then go and eat it all. Which is why there isn't much of the actual gingerbread part of the house you can actually see. Still, it's very cute. Celia and Cypress went to see Santa this week as well and although Cypress doesn't cry anymore, she still looks terrified of Santa. I can see that--I mean he's sort of strange and he gets all up in your face and he might have terrible breath. So glad I'm an adult and my Santa sitting days are over. And I know my hair is pink, for those of you that haven't seen me in a while, it's supposed to be that way.

We had a great dinner this week of steaks and arugula with some excellent blue cheese from PFI. I'll be making a new lasagne recipe tomorrow night and give pics and and update. This is also a pic of the beautiful sunsets we've been having lately.

Also, we've made it to the dodgeball showdown -not sure how that happened-but that will be tonight on KBUTT Channel 5. Don't bother looking for it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marathons, tattoos and carbonara!! Oh my!

Thanksgiving went smoothly this year, not too much work and pretty relaxing if you ask me. Lee and I made the majority of food for dinner, but family members brought things like pies and wine and salads which helped a ton. We made two turkeys, seared duck, spanish scalloped potatoes, kale with bacon, mushroom and sausage stuffing and mushroom soup. Everything was so good--aside from the fact that I'm not a big fan of turkey unless it comes on a sandwich, so I didn't eat much of that. I did, however, eat my weight in pumpkin pie, caramel apple pie, cherry pie, pumpkin cheesecake, creamy jello yumminess that doesn't have a name and pecan pie. Then, I snacked on those things and more carbs before the Seattle Half Marathon, you know to do the carbo load thing. Which gave me the energy to finish the half marathon, Yay! I did it in under 4 hours and that included waiting in line 20 minutes for the porta potty. Horrible. Yuck. I am proud of myself and for me, it was harder than the triathalon I did a few years ago. The constant pounding on the pavement with no stopping or stretching and going as fast as you can was pretty rough on me. Apparently the banana and protein bars I ate weren't enough because later that day (after a tasty Guinness) I nearly passed out from low blood sugar and thank goodness Lee was there to take care of me for the rest of the day. I was pretty much out of it for a good 24 hours. Live and learn, I guess. So I'd like to say the half marathon was successful, but I wish I hadn't gotten sick.

Lee got his second tattoo from Josh at Slave to the Needle, best tattoo shop in Seattle! It's the Douglas crest and it looks so good-- Josh is a great artist. And I've finally figured out what I want for my next one as well-took me a while. Don't ask--you'll see pics when I get it done.

We've been making some really good pasta dishes lately. Katie came over and made us spaghetti with a traditional meat sauce. I never ate spaghetti or red sauces growing up-my Mom didn't really like them and so I never knew how good they could be--now I crave red sauce all the time. I also made the best carbonara I've ever had, better than any restaurant and even what I had in Italy. I took some spaghetti we got at the Ballard market, imported from Italy, and added fresh local eggs, parmesan, cream, pepper, Gabe's guanciale cut into lardons, criminis sauteed in white wine and peas. Now I know traditionally it doesn't have peas or mushrooms, but that's how I like it. And fresh eggs and pancetta or guanciale make all the difference. It's a hearty meal, but I can't stand ordering it when we go out because it's always got that awful, pasty, heavy, no taste cream sauce and old eggs and oscar meyer bacon. I pretty much stay away from cream sauces in restaurants--they don't do a very good job at making it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Check it out! The decorating begins the day after Halloween in this household. That may change in the future because Lee thinks it's a little insane. Like he said, I'm on Nordstrom time. How can you not like the twinkly lights of the Christmas tree? Putting it up the day after Thanksgiving simply wouldn't give me enough time to enjoy it. Lee and I buy a new ornament every year to add to the memories--we already got this years. From the game store, of course!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something to Blog About

I've got big news this week...... Lee asked me to marry him! And I said 'Yes'! I feel like there's been a party going on around me ever since it happened. It's fun, and it only happens once in a lifetime, so I'm enjoying it. Mostly, I want to marry that boy. Sometimes people grab my hand before I can tell them I'm engaged, I'm sure they mean well, but it's a little frightening.

He was very romantic about it all--we went to one of my favorite restaurants, The Harvest Vine, and probably had the best meal I've had there. There was this wonderful white albacore with a tangy sauce and little peppers, a great bottle of Rioja, some seared foie gras and a wonderful sweet and savory desert with little bits of brunoised cheese on it, amongst other dishes. After dinner we went to get coffee at our favorite coffee place, Victrola. Then we took a little walk around Capital Hill, the neighborhood where we spend a lot of time when we met. On our way home, we went for a drive, something we typically do after date nights, so I wasn't thinking anything big was going to happen. Lee took me up to Kerry Park which overlooks the whole city of Seattle and began saying the sweetest things, but still, Lee is wonderful about saying sweet things so I still didn't have a clue even though I was teary eyed. I really didn't know he was asking me to marry him until he got down on one knee and actually proposed. It was wonderful. One of the best days of my life.

We are working out wedding details, but it should be a big party, a celebration and something we are gonna have a ton of fun at. My new ring got a workout this week with me cooking for a full Gypsy dinner, playing dodgeball and doing pedicures at work. I worked my very first Gypsy--a multi course, very formal dinner over at Culinary Communion. I have no desire to be a chef after seeing what they go through, but still love being the cook and having my little projects.

Also, on election night (Yay Obama!!) we made a meal of frites, aiolli, pumpkin soup and a beet and arugula salad--yum. Made the night even better.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This year since we've got this new home we love, we decided to have a Halloween party. A pirate Halloween party, that is. Lee was the Dread Pirate Robert from 'Princess Bride' and I was your everyday Wench. We had tons of candles and a net strung over the bathroom, cobwebs everywhere and rats and scary cats--the best decoration of all was Kimberly's pirate ship pumpkin. She's so talented! Halloween is my second favorite holiday, Christmas is my first, so you can guarantee that I'm smiling almost all of November and December. I love the twinkly lights, the smell of baking, the brisk weather, the cheer, the mistletoe, the Christmas music, the mushroom season, the festivities downtown, the family gatherings, the cooking, the cuddling, and I could name 100 other reasons I love this season. And I'm one of those crazy people that start decorating for
Christmas right after the Halloween decorations come down.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Everything

Well, this weeks food theme was pumpkin. Now that I know how easy it is to cut a pumpkin in half, bake it, puree it and make a tasty pumpkin mess that is ten times better than that stuff you buy in a can in the store, now I'm totally into doing anything and everything with it. Sarah and I made pumpkin ravioli this week with a brown butter sage sauce and toasted hazelnuts, and a side of broccolini fresh from the Ballard Sunday market. Then I made toasted pumpkin seeds--the key to a good pumpkin seed is to boil them in salted water before baking them. Now I'm on to making pumpkin soup for our Halloween party on Friday. And if I get a chance, pumpkin bread will be this week as well. I guess I'm surprised at how inexpensive sugar pumpkins are and how much pulp I get from one pumpkin. Tasty, nutritious, cheap and easy to prepare. And now I can do this with ALL squash--very exciting in my world.

Work has been very slow for me lately, turns out being in a luxury business isn't so good when the economy is bad. And on the other hand, Lee has been working a ton of overtime, not that it's his choice. Therefore, I haven't seen much of him lately which makes me a little lonely. So I'm filling my time with walking and friends and cooking, getting lots of errands done and working in the yard. Today I bought a new pair of running shoes for when I walk the half marathon. They tested me on the treadmill, then tested where I place pressure on my feet and then filmed the way I walk to show me how I walk like a duck. Apparently my feet are all messed up, pronated and need serious repair. I could have told you this because I always get blisters and currently have plantar faciatis, but I just work through it and walk even more and eventually it gets better. I mean what else am I going to do?! Sit down all day and prop my feet up and watch soaps? I don't think so. So I got these shoes, and the insoles are more expensive than an average pair of shoes in my closet. But....I'm telling you, it's worth it. I could already tell I'm walking better, any pain is completely gone and they feel like heaven. So worth it, considering I will be walking a long, long way.

This is a picture of the last performance Lee had playing Rock Band with his loyal fan Sarah beside him. His X Box died the next day. Very sad day for him, and I never even got to play one song on the new Rock Band list.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crab Feed

Every year I look forward to my Mom's crab feed. It's the only time I can eat as much dungeness crab as my heart desires, enjoy it as long as I want and get as messy as I possibly can doing it. Hopefully since I'm my Mom's daughter I always get invited, but there is usually a different crowd every year, which is possibly why I eat like this could be the last time I will ever have crab. I was in charge of making the salad this year, my Mom always bakes fresh bread with lots of garlic butter and we chow down. Apparently my salad was a hit this year--probably because it's somewhat seasonal and goes well with crab. I started with a layer of butter lettuce, topped by some arugula, grapefruit, avocado and homemade honey poppyseed dressing. I'm thinking it could use some pistachios, or pomegranate seeds when winter really kicks in.

I was jealous of Lee's huge crab pile. He spent a good hour on all the hard work of getting it all out and I thought I should take a picture of his masterpiece. And no casualties either, unlike clumsy me who sliced her finger open.

As for dinner this evening? It's a trip to Mr. Gyros for us. Tasty, quick and cheap--plus it's supporting our 'hood.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Joel Robuchon

This last weekend we went to Vegas and of course we had a ton of fun gambling and seeing shows and laying by the pool, but the highlight for me was dining at Joel Robuchon, my first 3 Michelin Star restaurant experience. It was worth every penny and I think I have a new addiction, or at least a goal in mind for every few years. This is something that everyone who loves food should do at least once in their lifetime--it's really an experience you won't forget. There is no need for more than once glass of wine because you feel drunk and high from being so happy and well taken care of. We did the tasting menu and although every course was unique and wonderful, my favorite was the caviar course. I never liked caviar before this and now I will seek out the best. There was also a beautiful pumpkin gnocchi that was amazing. I would say Joel had a theme of gold and foam, which doesn't sound appetizing, but was really quite tasty. The decor was a combination of masculine and feminine with black and pink being the primary colors. We were treated like kings and queens, with about 6 waiters to our table. The man, or I should say my man, was the only one who got the menu with the prices and when we left all the ladies recieved a gift of lemon pound cake to take home. I'm still enjoying this and thinking of the experience with each slice of cake. Yumm. And what a great way to make the experience last!Aside from dining well, we barely slept and Lee seems to have a knack for gambling. Although I knew this was the case--he's not only lucky, but extremely intelligent and good with numbers. So I would go lose the money and he'd spend all night making it back, therefore the poor guy didn't get a wink all weekend. But we did come out even and got a lot of game playing in. He made all my lost money back and rubbed my sore feet every night--he really is the best guy on earth. We were starving when we got off the plane and into Seattle, so we took the comfort food route and headed to Senor Moose in Ballard for some homemade chilequiles. Lee fellfast asleep on the table.

And in other news, since going to Maschiko gets expensive, we made sushi last week. It's so easy, even the tempura roll. And aside from perfecting the sushi rice, which I have yet to do, I got my sushi craving fixed. For under $25, and serving at least 4 people stuffing themselves silly. Yay!

Monday, October 13, 2008

So glad fall is here

This is my favorite time of the year. It's perfect walking weather, all of the great veggies are being harvested, Halloween decorations come out and the sun looks amazing on the city of Seattle. It's also the time when I want to cook more, spend less time and money eating out and watch all the movies I haven't seen for the last 6 months. This week I made a potato gratin from white potatoes and several cheeses I had remnants of from our fridge, amongst other goodies. We also had some haricots verts with tomato, garlic, walnuts and basil. Both really good. And in the interest of saving money, we are making sushi this evening. We love going to Maschiko over in West Seattle, but inevitably come out a couple hundred dollars in the hole (yes, I know that's expensive for a regular sushi habit, but it's the best sushi around). So I learned how to make Hajime's (the chef/owner of Maschiko) sushi rice and will be making my favorite rolls this evening with Sarah and Lee. I have a lovely hunk of sashimi grade ahi and some excellent crab. My favorite roll? It's called The Red Violin. Ahi, Siracha, Cilantro and avacado. I crave this probably more than anything I've ever had cravings for.

Meghan and Andy's wedding was this past week and it was beautiful. She looked unreal and we are so happy for them. Now they get to go to Italy and France and live it up as newlyweds-- so romantic.

Cypress's 4th birthday party is also this week. She had a Zoo theme and got all toys. You know, those first few years of life you get a lot of educational gifts and clothes and things you perhaps need more than want. Maybe because you don't really know what you want the first few years of your life. But this year she got all toys, and it was so fun to see her open all those cool things that I would have been so excited to get and play with as a kid. There isn't much sense to any of it, but it's just so much fun to play. Hey, Lee still get's Transformers. It's really kind of adorable.

Just a few more days until Vegas. It's 85 degrees there so I plan on reading a book poolside, gambling, exploring and eating well. I also signed up officially for the half marathon today. Looks like the route is from Seattle Center to the U District. I'm a little nervous, but also excited.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Breakfast slider

We hosted a wedding shower for Meghan yesterday and had a few leftovers so I decided to play like it was the day after Thanksgiving today. Yesterday we had goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in proscuitto, roasted chicken, fennel and apple salad with gorgonzola, tomato pie, freshly baked rolls and russian cream with berries. I took those great little rolls and made myself the best breakfast ever. A 2 1/2 inch slider with a fried egg (from A&J Meats on Queen Anne, they've got the freshest eggs around), Dutch goat cheese and soy sausage (Morningstar Farms sausage patties, they are spicy and good). Then I used the leftover chicken to make a chicken salad with walnuts and dried cherries to put on the rolls for lunch. Food is always better the day after. Well, some food.

We also took Celia and Cypress to the zoo last week and saw the most adorable gorillas. They are similar to humans in so many ways that when I see them, I feel like they feel even more trapped than the other animals and they must want to come home with me. I think in my own crazy head that I'd get in their cage, ask them over for dinner (perhaps some duck and eggplant curry?), and they'd say 'Of course we'll come over'. Then we'd have a great time watching a comedy and they'd snuggle down in our guest room for a good nights sleep. I know it's strange, but they seem so much like a near cousin to our species and they must have some of the same wants?

And in personal overall happiness news, I helped cook for my first Vagabond. There were about 5 of us cooking for Paulette's Vagabond dinner, and 36 guests, including Lee and other friends. I was on a high and after 12 hours of cooking and standing up, I felt like I could do it all over again. It really was everything I thought it would be and hopefully I get invited to cook for more Vagabond's in the future. I made the Irish Brown Bread which turned out to be wonderful, even though I was terrified because I'm not a baker. And I assisted making everything else. I really thought I could go on forever, until we sat down at the end of the night for family meal and I quickly faded and went home and passed out. You just can't sit down. Then it's all over.

By the way...17 days til Vegas. I'm counting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The week in pictures

I don't have much time to do a full blog this week--Lee and I are taking care of Celia and Cypress this weekend and I'm trying to spend time just with them. I suppose someday when I am a Mom, I'll relax about this kind of thing and do some things I want to do, but not when I only have my nieces for one weekend. It's all rainy and cold today, but I think we will still go to the zoo and look at the monkeys.

Here is a picture of the bounty from my first garden. I now have tomatoes, onions, jalepenos and corn from our Norweigan neighbors.

We went to the Fremont Oktoberfest on Friday night and had so much fun! I did Meghan's makeup and then we all went and sampled one too many beers. After that we went to Beth's Cafe and checked out the local 'wildlife' and had 6 egg omelets. Yum.