Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Issues with Eggplant

I just have to tell you that right now I'm roasting vegetables. This is supposed to be a level one, easy culinary task and yet I can't seem to get it right. One of my favorite veggies is eggplant and the reason why I only eat it when I'm at a restaurant is because I can't seem to cook it correctly. Right now the majority of my veggies are roasting well, but the eggplant has turned to mush and not only that, but it's sticking so badly to the pan that there is no way to salvage it anyway. And yes, I coated it in oil before baking. So frustrating! So once again, I'll have to order eggplant at all Chinese and Indian restaurants until I get it correct.

Lee's Dad, Terry, had his birthday this week so we invited the family over for a really simple, but tasty dinner. I had just gotten off work so the dinner had to be quick, and I found a great way to throw dinner together quickly while still having a homemade meal with a few courses. Now I couldn't do it without Lee prepping everything before and helping out, but together we can whip out dinner in a minute. This should come in handy in the future. We had traditional swiss fondue with apples and bread, green beans with shallots and pinenuts, endive 'bowls' with beet and blue cheese salad inside and Lee's famous bananas foster for dessert. I tried to get a picture of him lighting it on fire, but I must have been caught up in the moment, so I just got a picture of him after the fact. It was very French and I always love being with Lee's family, my soon to be in-laws. I'm very lucky.

We had an excellent cheese plate this week, you all know this is my favorite food. I also went to the How How shopping center on 12th and Jackson--it's the less expensive version of Uwajimaya. I got a ton of things I haven't tried before (like fresh water chesnuts) and came out with two full bags of food for $18, which is pretty good these days.....but, it took me an hour to get through the line and there were so many people pushing me and staring at me that I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon. It was sort a big ordeal, but it was definitely a good way to save a buck-and I made some amazing chow mein and stir frys out of it. That's one thing I've always wanted to do checked off my list.

This weekend we are having a Super Bowl party and I wasn't planning on making anything at all, but instead have a potluck, and well, I'm sure you all know how that is turning out. I can't help myself--I really do love cooking. My friend, Kyleen, and I got on this goat cheese kick and now I'm attempting to make a goat cheese cheesecake with a cherry balsamic sauce. I'm making up the recipe, so we shall see how this goes. Then I started thinking about other things and now I've got this whole menu of stuff I want to make--I even lost my mind temporarily and am having some fresh Wisconsin cheese curds sent to me by mail. They better get here before the super bowl!

I am now guest blogging for a Greenwood blog and my first entry was a review of Gainsbourg, one of our favorite new places. Check it out here:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Walk Around Greenwood

One of my favorite things to do on my day off is to take a walk around my neighborhood. Lately I've been working nights and the weather has been nice, so I've gotten to do my walks more often. I walked out the door this morning with a light hoodie and a knit hat, and after a couple blocks of slow jogging I was so warm that the rest of my walk was nearly balmy. Winter in Seattle is the absolute best time to walk!

There were a lot of things I wanted in a neighborhood when we were looking for homes and one of the most important was to be within walking distance to parks, grocery stores, the library, restaurants and anything I might need to visit doing everyday errands. And when I say walking distance, I mean within a couple of blocks. I like knowing that if I need a cup of coffee or a late night drink and happy hour, that I can walk there and back within 10 minutes. In a weird way this has always made me feel safe, which is probably why I never felt at home or why I thought that I was the crazy lady in town when I lived in more rural areas. My Mom always felt safer living in the boonies and having a car to get away, or perhaps a gas mask or two (love ya, Mom). I feel safe knowing that if something really awful happens and our world is going down quickly, I can head down the street to buy some groceries and die surrounded by others. Maybe we'll sing songs and and reminisce about when the earth had humans on it, but at least we won't be alone. So it may be sort of morbid, but I'm not one to be afraid of death, and living in the urban core of a city makes me feel safest. I know, I know, you are all wondering how I lasted so long in Montana and Wyoming. Honestly, humans can adapt to anything, but I'm just really happy I found where I belong in my 30's. Could be worse.

I took pictures of some of the cutest homes I walked by and Sandel Park, which is a great local park with lots of swings. Then I headed to the store to pick up some tortillas and onions for making enchiladas this afternoon. Headed over to the library to get a book they had on hold for me. I took my time to notice how pretty it is here in the winter--almost like spring is in the air. Then I came home to see that there was a plane that went down in the Hudson River, and it truly is a miracle that everyone survived. Now I'm done with those enchiladas, which happen to be low carb and low fat--we shall see how that goes. You all know I'm not into that kind of stuff, but I've got our wedding coming up and I'm not paying the photographer that kind of money to take pictures of me busting out of my dress. Wait a minute, even if I do lose a few pounds, I'll still be busting out of my dress. Anyway, I'm just trying to eat a little healthier, no big changes and if Lee takes me out to a wonderful restaurant, I'm still eating something fabulous. And if I go on vacation, then I'm going to enjoy myself to the fullest. But I'm trying, a bit. I even made a no sugar, whole wheat pumpkin cake yesterday and everyone at work said it was amazing and ate it up quickly. I think I have a talent for cooking healthy, but I also know how good things can taste, so I'm always comparing it to the best of the best. Just don't make me eat light yogurt with that fake sugar--soooo gross.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Planning Has Begun

I thought you might like this picture of Lee. Last night he babysat my godchild, Ryan, and I met him when I got off work just in case he needed me to help out (aka diaper changing). As usual, he found a way to entertain himself by writing no less than 25 phrases on Ryan's Magna-doodle. I am so thankful she's not able to read yet, to say the least. I chose the tamest of the words he wrote---but he did crack me up all night.
We went to the University District Farmers Market on Saturday and found quite a bit more than I had thought was growing in the winter, this is typically the 'chef's' weekly market because of the abundance of local fruits and veggies. There are even two mushroom stands with beautiful black trumpets out this week. And today we went to the Ballard Sunday Market, which is typically the one we go to, and checked out the colorful potatoes and kale (one of my favorite veggies, by far). And the newest and best arrival to the markets?? There is this lady who makes fried egg sandwiches with local eggs, cheese and fresh bread--this is possibly the perfect breakfast, so I'm happy she set up shop.

I edited and added a few links to the right of here as well. The Slog is the Capital Hill and alternative news source that I've been getting plenty of my news lately. Nancy Matthews Blog is a personal blog of a high school friend of mine who recently had a double lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis--it's just amazing to see the progress she is making. The New York Times, All Recipes and Epicurious are some of my favorite websites.

And wedding planning well underway, thanks to all the help I've got from sisters and mom's and Lee and friends and so on. We've got the reception and ceremony site, the photographer, the florist and the honeymoon place. Oh, and I've got the groom. That's the most important part.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and everything else that has happened in the last month.

I had the perfect opportunity and plenty of time to blog for a good week during the Seattle winter storm of '08, but some horrible alien invaded my computer and I got my first virus. I found out quickly that I can live without TV and movies and music, but living without a computer is much harder than I had imagined. So instead of blogging or just looking up every question I ever wanted answered, I hung out at home with Lee and watched movies, played games, talked a whole lot. I don't like the snow at all, but I must say that being snowed in with Lee made it much better and aside from simply getting cabin fever, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Being stuck with your best friend isn't so bad, and we laughed a lot. I heart Lee.

So Christmas was very laid back, even with home made gifts since we couldn't get out to go shopping. And New Year's was at El Gaucho with friends and then off to a party at Culinary Communion. Now we are off to a new year--which always puts me in a good mood-and I'll be celebrating my 34th birthday in a few days. I think we are going out for sushi at Maschiko, which I haven't had in soooo long.

We've been doing quite a bit of cooking and also Lee surprised me after work one evening and took me to Poppy. I've been wanting to go there for quite a while. Jerry Traunfeld is the chef and he used to be the chef at the Herb Farm, probably the best place to eat in this area during the 90's and early 2000's. Anyway, I always wanted to try his food or at least meet him. To my surprise, since chefs of his caliber don't actually cook at their own restaurants, he was cooking the night we went to Poppy. I compare this to going to the French Laundry and having Thomas Keller actually behind the line that evening (this kind of thing never happens). Although Jerry is not Thomas Keller, but anyway. I got a shot of him in the kitchen on the sly then he came out to talk to us and signed our menu for me. He's a very small guy, tiny, and I asked all the questions--Lee and Kyleen just sat there and didn't know what to say. My review? Well, it was really unique. Odd pickles and relishes, a very bitter endive salad, excellent short ribs and a grapefruit/avacado/shrimp salad that stole the show. It all had an Indian flavor undertone, and the best thing there are the appetizers and the desserts by Dana Cree. I really liked it, but it was so interesting that you wouldn't necessarily crave those flavors often. Next up for Lee and I? A special trip to Rover's for the Grand Degustation--my Christmas gift from him.

Here are a bunch of pictures of the past few weeks. My adorable niece Cypress, some friends from CC at a party, apps we made in class and a dark pic of Jerry Traunfeld.