A tomato revelation

Hello, friends! It’s been too long. All the grand plans we had of taking the month of June to pack, completing a few outdoor projects at the new house in July, and then leisurely moving in went straight out the window. We had to move in to the house in the middle of June. Packing accelerated and the move was quick; all the outdoor projects started after we moved in. We’ve been knee-deep in planning the kitchen remodel, getting settled in the new place, spending time with friends and family, and work the last few months. The remodel hasn’t happened as quick as we’d like, it hasn’t happened at all actually. We’ve had a hard time finding a contractor due to the insane construction boom in Seattle. Right now, I’d be happy with a contractor and a start date! Though, truth be told, I’ll be even happier when it’s all done. But, we’re in our house! We were in the house with the whole summer ahead of us and it was glorious. IMG_4304Roux has a real yard to run around in and bunnies and birds to watch and to bark at. The cat is the cat–Milo has found his favorite spots and learned how to open the screen on the sliding glass doors. He’s a crafty little guy and full of mischief.  Continue reading

Little Rum, Little Love

Exploring vacant land options, looking at existing houses, and thinking about all of the what ifs, how-tos, and complications of all of it has been an all-encompassing distraction. This has been like planning the biggest, most expensive wedding ever–not good for work productivity or any other aspects of life outside of this crazy event. Thankfully, we had great architects who have helped us think through permits and building options, as well as explore the endless modifications to existing homes (and the realities of our budget). We also have two wonderful real estate agents, one of whom we’ve worked with through the buy and sale of the last two homes and been friends with for years. This process would be insane without all of them. And, much to our (or maybe, my) surprise, we fell in love with a house on a hill in West Seattle–it’s got a yard for the pup, a view that’s hard to beat, and pretty great mid-century style. So, we bought a house! What??!? Yes, we bought a house. It hasn’t really sunk in yet and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. It’s all crazy, and it’s all exciting, and now it feels like the whole process is taking forever. This house is near-perfect and needs a little work to get it there for us; there will still be decisions and dust in our future. The last year has been roller coaster of ‘we’re remodeling’, ‘we’re selling’, ‘we’re building’, ‘we’re buying’, and, in the end, back to ‘we’re remodeling.’ Phew, bonkers!

Now I’m going to take a little break from thinking about the house, enjoy the long, sunny (**Finally!**) Memorial day weekend, and enjoy a little cocktail.

IMG_4286editLittle Rum, Little Love
Tools & Extras: Cocktail shaker, coupe glass

3/4 oz. Fresh lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
1/4 oz. Campari
1 1/2 oz. Dark Rum
1 oz. Amaro Amorino (the newest release from Letterpress–and it’s delicious!)
Few dashes of Angostura Bitters
Grapefruit twist & a Luxardo Maraschino cherry

Details:
* Add the first six ingredients to a cocktail shaker; fill with ice and shake for 30 seconds.
* Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Twist or press the grapefruit peel over the cocktail to express the oil from the peel on the drink.
* Wrap the peel around a cocktail pick with a delicious little cherry.
* Enjoy while planning your long weekend…

 

Hot day, cold drink

Wow, it’s warm in Seattle this week! Now, this doesn’t happen that often, and the Southerner in me laughs at the idea that this is hot but…it’s 92 degrees and we DON’T HAVE AIR-CONDITIONING, only a couple of fans. Yes, it’s not humid and the temperature will cool down late at night, allowing me to sleep. But, while I’m awake, the sun is shining, it is hot. Continue reading

Good for your eyes & appetite

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Summer in Seattle this year has been a little grayer and wetter than the last couple of years–still, on those blue sky-kind of days, it’s one of the loveliest places to be. This week is starting cool and rainy and ending (supposedly) with heat and sun. So, I’ve planned our meals accordingly. Tonight, dinner will be cooked in the oven and towards the end of the week, we’ll have a cold soba salad. The one exception, of course, is pizza Friday…unless we go to one of our favorite pizza places for dinner. Hmm, a plan is forming. Continue reading

Love & Cocktails

Skip and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary last week in Big Sky, Montana. I was there for work and he joined me mid-week to celebrate our anniversary with a visit to Yellowstone and a delicious dinner at the Rainbow Ranch Lodge. This was my first trip to Montana and to Yellowstone; it was warm, sunny, and breathtaking. We only saw a tiny portion, mostly the geyser basin, of the park but it was enough to make me want to go back! The highlight of that visit was, by far, the Grand Prismatic Pools—you need to see these, and please, for the love of God, follow the rules and stay on the walk way. Seriously.

When we got married, we tried to do lots of little things that made our wedding reflective of who we are and what mattered to us. Skip’s ‘best man’ was his close friend, Katy; my ‘maid of honor’ was my man of honor, my oldest nephew, Wes. Our ring bearer was our beloved border collie, Oliver, who even wore a tie to the ceremony. Our wedding favors were cookie versions of a fungus plush toy from Giant Microbes made by my talented friend, Lori Trammel; the actual toy was from our engagement and served as our ring pillow. There’s a whole story behind that little fuzzy fungus that I’ll tell you one day! Our close friend, Chris, performed the ceremony.

Our cake topper comprised two handmade figurines–Oliver with a top hat and bowtie and Cricket, my little calico, wearing a veil and daisies. Cricket, unlike Oliver, was not known for her people skills and would not  have enjoyed being at the party for real but she, of course, needed to be part of it! And, two good friends, Elizabeth Lowry and Nathan Yee, were our photographers. Friends and family from all over the country joined us to laugh (lots of laughter), cry, and celebrate. Oh, it was wonderful!

We had a cocktail hour before (& after, of course) the ceremony so that our wonderful guests would have a cocktail in hand while we said our vows. The bride’s cocktail was a basil gimlet and the groom’s cocktail was a take on a Manhattan—guess this was sort of our version of a ‘wedding cake’ and a ‘groom’s cake’. These cocktails put a smile on my face when I make them and remind of the day I put on a fancy dress, had a crazy fancy party, and married my best friend.

The Bride’s Cocktail: Basil Gimlet
Tools & Extras:
Boston shaker, coupe glass

2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Basil simple syrup*
1 oz. Lime juice
Basil leaf

Details:

  • Add everything but the basil leaf to a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill with ice & shake for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass & garnish with a basil leaf.

*Basil simple syrup: Mix 1 C granulated sugar with 1 C water; boil to dissolve the sugar. Once the the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and lightly crush 10-12 basil leaves and add to the syrup. Steep for 10 minutes; strain into a clean jar and store in the refrigerator for 1 month.

The Groom’s Cocktail: Manhattan, Sort of but not really
Tools & Extras:
Cocktail mixing glass, bar spoon, old fashion glass, ice ball or large chunk of ice 

1.5 oz. Rye Whiskey
1.5 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
Dash Orange bitters
Orange rind & brandied cherry

Details:

  • Add everything but the orange rind & brandied cherry to a cocktail mixing glass.
  • Fill with ice & stir for 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled old fashion glass with an ice ball & garnish with a orange rind & cherry.

Red Currant-Orange Shrub

Every weekend during the summer, I buy too much fruit for me and Skip to consume before it turns to mush. I can freeze it, yes, but I’m notorious for putting things on a cookie sheet and placing it in the freezer–then, forgetting about it completely until I need the cookie sheet usually months later, though I did have a recent success of actually transferring frozen fruit to a container. There’s also the fruit that I don’t think will freeze all that well, like currants. Admittedly, I haven’t tried it but they seem way too delicate compared to blackberries, strawberries, or even raspberries. Well, in an attempt to quickly use up fruit in a way that didn’t involve baking (or heat of any kind), I discovered shrubs a few years ago–a crazy concoction of vinegar, sugar, and fruit that’s a complex blend of sweet and sour. Now, I have a shrub of some sort in my refrigerator at all times! Continue reading

Spicy Quinoa Soup

Back home from our Hawaiian vacation–back to gray Seattle skies and rain! The vacation was wonderful and much needed. Our vacation started with Skip and I spending a couple of days on our own in Honolulu;  we had some wonderful cocktails (with very cool people) at Pint + Jigger followed by a lovely meal at Town. I highly recommend both! My parents joined us the Sunday after we arrived and we headed to the little beach house we rented for a few days on the North Shore. It was a little piece of heaven…right on the edge of a pretty private beach and a perfect porch to sit, read, and have drink. Our time on Ohau was dotted with lazy moments on the porch, listening to the waves, and delicious meals at MW and the Koko Head Cafe along with daily doses of shave ice (Uncle Clay’s & Island Vintage Coffee Shave ice stand near Waikiki– fruit-based flavors, no crazy food coloring, and wonderfully fluffy ice). image

Then, mid-way through, we hopped over to Maui where we continued with our island fun: snorkeling at Molikini, shave ice at Ululani’s, dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen (so good!) and a luau at the Feast at Lele, and wrapped it all up with the drive to Hana (crazy curvy road but it lead to a stunning black sand beach). imageSpending time with my parents was something I haven’t had a chance to do in a very long time, at least not where it’s just us and no plans or obligations dictating what we do or where we need to be. Just me, mom, dad, and Skip and beach! Perfect! Now, I’m getting back in to the groove of real life, with it’s schedules, alarm clocks, and pants. Sigh.

We came home to cool weather with the typical Seattle rain and gray sky that is usually associated with spring in Seattle. I wanted something comforting and healthy for dinner, and that didn’t take too much time. While the laundry was going and Skip looked up some airfare details for our next trip–a little jaunt down to California for our niece’s high school graduation (!)–I made a spicy quinoa soup for dinner. It was just what I needed to ease back in to real life while dreaming about our next vacation.

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Spicy Quinoa Soup

3/4 C chopped yellow onion [70 g]
1/2 C chopped yellow bell pepper [80 g]
1 Tbsp thinly chopped garlic [10 g]
1/3 C chopped carrot [50 g]
2 1/2 C Water, vegetable broth, or combination
1 Tbsp Pilpelchum (pepper paste, recipe below)*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 can diced, fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 C quinoa, rinsed
2 C water
1 large garlic clove, smashed

Salt & Pepper Yogurt (optional but highly recommended, recipe below)
Diced avocado (optional)

  • Add the olive oil to a stockpot on medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook for a few minutes, just till the onions are translucent and fragrant.
  • Add the diced carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Add the bell pepper and pilpelchum. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the diced tomatoes and water (or broth). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat.
  • While the soup simmers, combine the rinsed quinoa, water, and smashed garlic clove in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  • To serve, combine 1/3 cup of quinoa (really, add how much you like!) with 1 C of the tomato-pepper soup. Top with salt and pepper yogurt and avocado.

Pipelchum (aka spicy goodness!)
from I will not eat oysters

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
½ Tbsp hot paprika
½ tsp cayenne
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together to form a paste. This will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks or longer.

A little note on the pipelchuma—the spiciness can vary depending on the potency and age of your paprika and cayenne. If you’re not a big fan of spicy food, adjust the amount of pipelchuma to suit your taste.

Salt & Pepper Yogurt

1/3 C Greek Yogurt (I used Ellenos — big surprise!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all and enjoy.

A note on the soup:

You can combine the quinoa with the spicy tomato broth if you don’t want to cook it separately. If you do that, I’d recommend cutting the quinoa to 1/2 to 3/4 C, and you’ll need to add at least 1 1/2 C water or broth to the spicy tomato-pepper soup for the quinoa to absorb. You’ll end up with more of a thick stew but it’s still delicious.