Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cut it off, Missy!

A couple months ago I posted a list of things I want to do before I turn 50. Well, today I get to cross an item off the list -- I had my hair cut super short!

Anna had the honor of cutting off my ragged mane of hair. I sent her pictures of what I was looking for, but other than that it was up to her to create a style for me. She said it was the most fun she's had in a while.
Along with my new hairstyle (which I love!) I also inherited a container of moulding gesso, and sea salt primer. Anna made it look easy, but I'm a little nervous on how to apply these products to my hair!

So, Item 1 accomplished -- karaoke next? Who is with me?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wake Up and Smell the Bread Baking

Earlier this year I bought a book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day but yet to use it. The book calls for some special equipment (like a 6 quart food safe storage container with lid, a pizza peel, baking stone) that I would have to buy. Anyway, yesterday I decided I'd just use what I had. My huge Pyrex bowl has always worked well for rising, and I could use my perforated pizza pan to bake the bread.
The dough was a breeze to make, and after plopping it into the bowl to rise I set off to meet Heather and Rachel for some drinks, which turned into dinner, and so five hours later I came home to put the dough in the refrigerator for me to deal with the next day.
I woke early this morning, and it was chilly! I figured I'd bake the bread, and help warm up the house so I took the dough from the fridge, shaped it, and let it sit for 40 minutes to warm up. 450 degrees, a little water bath for the baking, and voila! 20 minutes later I had some delicious bread for my breakfast.
Today I'm off to buy some rye flour so I can try another recipe. I love this book!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

It's quite blustery and wet outside -- a perfect day to make soup! Tonight we shall laugh at the rain while feasting on black bean soup and buttermilk wheat bread.

I love black bean soup but it can be a bit bland. I was happy to find this spicier version on allrecipes.com (click on link for recipe). I made a few adjustments to the recipe by dicing four carrots instead of two. I also added a stalk of celery (diced of course), an additional clove of garlic, and half a teaspoon of coriander. I cooked black beans instead of using canned. It does take time but it's so easy: just soak the beans in cold water (eight hours minimum or overnight), drain and rinse, add 6 cups fresh water, bring to boil, and then simmer until tender (between one to two hours). I prefer chunky soups with broth rather than a thicker pureed base so I skipped that step. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt, and yum!

Making bread is a breeze with my KitchenAid mixer, and the dough hook is my favorite attachment. The only problem is I make a loaf, serve it at dinner, and it disappears! I think I'll try a little psychology tonight, and bake the bread in mini loaf pans. We'll see how it goes. Tonight I'm making wheat bread from a recipe I found on cuisinart.com (click on link for recipe). I don't usually have bread flour on hand so I use all purpose flour. It works just fine!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lunch Date with Paul

Poor Paul worked all weekend from home. He stayed home today to finish some reports, and I've been on my best behavior not to distract him (which is really hard since it's a rare treat to have him to myself all day). I managed to sneak into the kitchen to make him a nice lunch -- grilled tuna and cheese with tomato soup.

I'm going to have to tweak the recipe a bit I think, but my first try was pretty good. The original recipe had a convoluted sequence where you move the half of the soup to the blender, add some oil, and puree, transfer to a bowl, blah,blah,blah (you'll see what I mean in the directions below). I just used all the oil at once to saute the onions/garlic, and used an immersion blender to puree the soup, and then added the stock (I only needed one cup). I think next time I'll use less onion and garlic, and try vegetable stock instead of the chicken.

Paul gobbled it right up, and said it really hit the spot. I'm glad he liked it since we're having the soup again tonight with the leftover vegetable frittata!

Tomato Soup
(from startcooking.com which they adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (about 1 cup) chopped
2 cloves of garlic (about 2 tsp) minced or crushed
1 bay leaf
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 slices of large sandwich bread (crusts removed and cut into 1 inch pieces)
2 cups chicken stock

Heat 2 tbsp oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it's shimmering.
Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain.
Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.
Remove and discard bay leaf.
Transfer half of soup to blender.
Add 1 tbsp oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil.
Rinse out the pot you cooked with soup in and return the soup to the pot.
Stir in up to 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth until soup reaches desired thickness.
Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Optional garnishes include chopped parsley, fresh chopped basil or croutons.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Best use of leftovers ever!

I've been in a bit of a cooking slump. We're on a tight budget lately so I've been making dinners with ingredients I already have on hand, rather than finding recipes I'd like to try, and then buying what I need. Poor Paul and Kevin have been dining on lentil soup, vegetable soup, salad, and bean/cheese tortillas for a week now.

Friday I roasted some cauliflower in the oven with garlic and Parmesan cheese. Which I served with some pan roasted zucchini, and a tomato salad with a buttermilk/blue cheese dressing. It was good, but I had about the equivalent of a small zucchini and 1/4 of a head of cauliflower leftover. I was surfing the Internet today trying to come up with an idea to use the leftovers that did NOT involve soup (I think the boys have had enough), and I came across a vegetable frittata from Emeril Lagasse on foodnetwork.com. Now I've never had a frittata. It always looked so dry, and I hate dry eggs. I also had none of the veggies that Emeril called for, but I did have my leftover veggies, and lots of eggs, so what the heck -- I gave it a shot.

Paul and I ate half the frittata before we remembered to save some for Kevin. I served it with an arugula salad with pan roasted red pepper (I used some of the pepper in the frittata), and a lemon/olive oil dressing. Really good stuff! I think I found us a new favorite!

Vegetable Frittata
adapted from Emeril Lagasse, foodnetwork.com

6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp butter
1/4 of a small red onion thinly sliced
leftover grilled veggies thinly sliced, or cut into small pieces. Approx.: 1 small zucchini, 1/4 head cauliflower, 1/2 red bell pepper

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper, and add 1/4 cup cheese. Set aside.

In a large non-stick broiler proof skillet (I used my cast iron skillet) melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute about 4 minutes. Add the grilled veggies and cook about two minutes to coat with butter, and warm. Add the egg mixture. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the eggs are almost set, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Sprinkle the set frittata with the remaining Parmesan. Place the frittata under the broiler and cook until the top is set and starts to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place a large serving plate over the pan, and carefully invert to turn out the frittata to serve.

Serves 4

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Before I Grow (too) Old

A friend of mine is working on a list of 36 things to do before she turns 37, and it got me thinking -- I should come up with a list of my own. Now next year I'll turn 50, and while I'm not as ambitious as my friend I did come up with a list of ten things. My own "bucket list" is filled with things that I've always wanted to do but stopped myself from trying because I didn't have time, I couldn't afford it, I didn't think it would look good, I'd make a fool of myself, etc., etc. Well now is as good of a time as any to stop with the excuses so without any further ado (and in no particular order) I give you:

Ann's top ten things to do before turning 50:

1. Cut my hair super short
2. Sing at a Karaoke bar
3. Take piano lessons
4. Learn how to brew beer
5. Visit Sedona and the painted desert (specifically the Palatki Cliff Dwellings)
6. Take a sculpture class
7. Ride the train to San Francisco
8. Learn a foreign language
9. Take Paul to the Redwood Forest
10. Mosaic three pieces with only white tile

And the clocks starts...now!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Here comes the tomatoes!

Every morning I water the garden and scan the tomato plants. We've got a bonanza of flowers, and the fruit is coming in slowly.

This morning I was thrilled to spot a flash of red deep inside one of the plants (specifically on our heirloom Surpice). Now I don't put my hand inside of any of the plants -- it's too risky. I might come in contact with a spider, or (god forbid) a slug.

Luckily Paul has no qualms about it, and soon we discovered that we're the proud parents of not one, not two, but three tomatoes!

Can't wait for the rest of them to arrive!.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What to do with zucchini?

"TWO?!" That was my mom's response when I told her I had planted zucchini in our garden. "You planted TWO PLANTS?! You're gonna have a lot of zucchini."

Sure, how many zucchinis can one plant produce? Well three were ready now, there are about eight of various size, and five or six more flowers. I was too afraid to check the other plant.

I let the first zucchinis grow a little large since I was planning on baking with them. The biggest of the three was about 9" around and 12" long. Oh, it was a beaut! It produced over four cups of grated zucchini which was enough for four mini loaves of zucchini/blueberry bread, and two batches of zucchini muffins (one chocolate-chocolate chip, and one chocolate chip). I made two batches of zucchini bread from the smallest of the three, and I'm looking for some more recipes to try with the last one.

There's a lot of oil and sugar used when baking with zucchini so I decided to experiment with using no sugar applesauce in lieu of vegetable oil, flax meal to substitute for eggs, and Splenda in place of the sugar. Right away let me say forget about using Splenda. It's fine for my morning cup of coffee, but does not work with baking. The applesauce was a great substitute for the breads, but made the cupcakes very sticky and dense. Oh, and the flax meal substitute didn't work so well either. Oh, well! Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I'm listing the two zucchini bread recipes. The cupcake recipes I tried were...well they were interesting. The first zucchini bread is a family favorite, and it was given to us by my mom's friend, Minnie Braaten.

Minnie's Zucchini Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the over to 325F.

In medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl add eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla and beat well. Fold in zucchini. Add flour mixture in batches, and beat until just combined. Stir in walnuts. Pour into greased loaf pans, and cook 70 minutes if using full size loaf pan, or 50 minutes if using mini loaf pans, or until knife inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on racks for 20 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Blueberry Zucchini Bread (courtesy of Laura via allrecipes.com)

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups white sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat over to 350F degrees. Lightly grease four mini loaf pans.

In a large bowl beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini loaf pans. Bake 50 minutes in the preheated over, or until a knife inserved in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sometimes it just hits you...

We're sitting on the back deck trying my latest cooking experiment, and I look at my husband to say something, and it just hits me like a ton of bricks how much I love this guy!

I love his profile.

I love his receding hairline.

I love the crinkles around his eyes when he laughs.

I love his gentle, soothing voice.

I love the way he sighs when he hugs me after a long day at work, and I can feel him relax in my arms. I love that he is a kind, patient, and good man. All this I know, and I am grateful for each day, but sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks. Just saying.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

Ok, so you can't win them all. I was watching Food Network, and Tyler's Ultimate came on featuring a "natural red velvet cake". It was really a cake made with beets. Now the beets in our garden are ready to be pulled, and I was stressing a bit trying to think what I could make with all of them so I was really interested in trying the cake.

Tonight is my book club, and as luck would have it I was in charge of dessert (don't you love the timing?) so this afternoon I pulled out some beets and got to work. I saved the greens and stems for dinner tonight (the boys are having a stew with sausage, greens, lentils and carrots over some cracked wheat). Everything went together well, and then it was time to cook. The recipe says 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean, but after 40 minutes I called it quits and pulled the cakes to cool. The cakes taste okay (maybe a tad too sweet), but the texture seems a bit gooey. Maybe next time I try a little less brown sugar, and a little more flour. It will have to wait though because I just saw a recipe for chocolate zucchini cupcakes -- yum...

Such a pretty color

Just waiting for a bit of whipped cream

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Early Morning Haircut

Paul and I are feeling quite proud of ourselves. This year we set a goal to plant our first vegetable garden, and today we performed our first haircut (harvest) on the salad garden. Paul was especially proud that I didn't scream when the spider (who by the way was as big as a horse) ran over my foot, and how diplomatic I was with the slug (who could have easily been Jaba the Hut's twin) when I escorted it off the property. Feel like starting your own garden? All it takes is a little time, and these three steps:

Step 1: Don't get mired down in details (like spending the entire summer planning the perfect garden layout, or concocting the perfect raised bed container, or building defenses against all possible intruders such as deer, raccoons, birds, slugs, and neighborhood kids). Just dig up the sod, flip it over, and stack.

Step 2: Fill the beds with potting soil and plants.

Step 3: Cut and enjoy!

Now all that's left to do is rinse, and repeat!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Granola

I've been wanting to make my own granola for a while now. I was always told how easy it is to make but I just couldn't find a recipe that I wanted to try until I saw this one on Spoon With Me, a fabulous blog by Jennifer Morgenthaler. It's a recipe that she adapted from Neal Fraser's Fruit and Nut Packed Granola, via Food and Wine. So simple, and so yummy. I've typed the recipe verbatim from her blog, but I altered my granola a little bit. Paul is not big fan of coconut so I omitted it. I used dried cranberries and blueberries ('cause that's what I had on hand), and rough chopped 1 cup each cashews and almonds, and a half cup each pecans and walnuts. Delicious!

Sunday Granola:

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup honey
1/3 (packed) cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3-3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup finely grated unsweetened coconut
3 cups (12 ounces) raw unsalted nuts (she used 3 oz each of unsalted pistachios, cashews, pecans, and sliced almonds)
2 cups (10 ounces) mixed dried fruit such as golden raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apples, etc.
1 cup fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine butter, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. Simmer until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl combine the oats, shredded coconut and nuts. Add the brown sugar mixture and stir to thoroughly coat. Spread the granola on the baking sheets, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (or until a deep golden color) stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine the dried fruit and orange juice in a medium bowl and let stand until fruit is plumped, about an hour. Drain the fruit in a strainer, pressing down the fruit to remove excess juice. Discard the liquid. Stir the fruit into the granola on the baking sheet. Bake for an additional five minutes.

Let the granola cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools. After cooling the granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. To re-crisp, bake in a 275 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Heather and Ann's (Excellent?) Adventure

On Thursdays Heather and I do things. Sometimes we take trips like the day we went to Ballard Locks. Sometimes we just have lunch. Yesterday we decided to go to Portland and surprise my stepdaughter Lisa. Lisa is active with the PSU Enviromental Club, and they were holding an Earth Day Festival.

In honor of the day, we decided to take the train to Portland. I've never made the trip, but have always heard good things about it. It was a lot of fun. The train left promptly at 8:15 a.m., the staff was friendly and helpful, and the ride was very comfortable. My friend Rick who lives on Puyallup Avenue was sweet enough to give us a proper send off, and stood guard on his balcony until we passed by.

We arrived at Union Station in Portland right on schedule, exited the station, and started to walk a few blocks until I realized I had no idea how to get to PSU. I have to say I've never met nicer, more helpful people than the ones we ran into that day. One young man even went online on his Ipod thingie to get us information, and soon we were on PSU's South Park Blocks which was filled with information tables, vendors selling recycled/reused goods and art, and there was live music.

It was fun surprising Lisa with our visit. She was so busy talking with people and sharing info that we could only have a quick chat before we started looking around. I was so busy looking at everything I didn't take many pictures (oops), but we walked away with info on Take Back the Tap and Ban the Bag. I bought this really cool knitted soap/sponge mitt from Jenifer Rank and she threw in a free knitted coffee cup cozy. If you're a bike rider check out Bike Cozy's etsy site -- she had lace keepers, cycling caps, toe cozies, and mini bike repair kits. Heather bought a mushroom starter kit! It's pretty ugly looking but I can't wait to see what happens!

After the fair Heather and I set off to find Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB). Chris at TRH recommended the place, and who were we to argue? We took the yellow line down to Pioneer Courthouse (main transportation hub) and discovered the green line would take us to SE Powell which is the street that HUB is on. 29th and SE Powell. So we settled in for a comfy 20 minute ride, and as promised the train dropped us off at SE Powell. Unfortunately it was 92nd and SE Powell. Luckily for us we had bought day passes (a mere $4.75 that gives us access to streetcars, trains, and buses -- ARE YOU HEARING THIS TACOMA? ) and we hopped the #9 and they dropped us right across the street from the HUB.

What an awesome place! The theme was bicycles (it is Portland after all) and beer. Outside were flowers planted in beer casks, the lights over the bar hung off of bike parts, and even the art work was bicycle and beer themed. There were 10 beers on tap to chose from, and a great menu. I had the black bean burger that was made from scratch (so much better than the Garden Burger that Crown Bar served me) with a salad, and Heather chose the portabello burger with nachofied fries. Add a couple beers, and we were two happy girls! Yes, you read that correctly. I had a beer. It was their Earth Day Ale, and in honor of Earth Day (and the fact that I was sitting in a brewery pub) I had a beer -- get over it.

We just had enough time to take the bus downtown, walk a few blocks and hop a streetcar to take us to the Pearl District. The streetcar was PACKED so we escaped after a few blocks and decided to make a quick stop at the Blitz on Pearl for a rest and a cocktail. Not impressed with the place. All I can say is at least they have Sweet Tea Vodka (my new favorite).

Having survived the drinks and the bathroom (yeah, for that story you have to talk to Heather) we walked back to 6th to hop the yellow line back to Union Station. After about a five minute wait we looked to our right and saw we were about three blocks from Union Station, and decided to hoof it, and arrived at Union Station just in time for Heather to get insulted by a street person (again -- Heather can tell the story), take a couple of pics, and get in line for the train home.

Long day, lots of fun, and I can guarantee next Thursday we'll be staying in Tacoma 'cause there's no place like home!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What a beautiful day for a dri-...hey, is he throwing those chairs out?

Okay, probably longest title ever but seriously that's what happened. Paul has been working like a fiend on our sod containers, and we needed some advice on where to get the potting soil. Off we went to Garden Sphere where they kindly (and correctly) figured out we needed just under 3 cubic yards, and wrote an estimate for bagged soil (with a generous 15% discount) that landed us in the "I'm sorry what did you say?" range of over $300. As an alternative he whipped out a price sheet for H&B Topsoils where we can buy soil in bulk.

So as we're leaving I say to Paul -- hey, let's take another look-see at that house with the sod garden containers and away we drove. Now, I remembered the house was on 35th, but I couldn't remember the cross street, so a left we took and after traveling a couple blocks I say to Paul, what a beautiful day for a dri-..hey, is he throwing those chairs out? Paul quickly said no, hoping to stop me from doing exactly what I did which was make a quick U-turn to take another peek. There was this lovely man, Mike, placing two more chairs on the curb. He said he and the missus were downsizing, and they just wanted to get rid of some stuff. I asked how much for the chairs, and he said well they're free AND there's a dining table to go with it! I looked at Paul and asked, can we take them, and he (once again trying to stop me) said oh, I don't think they'll fit in our car but guess what? They did!

Of course one of the chairs is cracked and needs repair, a table leg was wobbly (stripped screw), and the laminate is coming up at the center seam. Lucky for me I have a very handy husband, and a tablecloth!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gem Faire

When the girls were much younger Paul and I took them to the Gem Faire. Well actually I think we took them a few times, but regardless ever since I've received free passes to their yearly show at the Tacoma Dome. This year I decided to use the pass, and so Friday off I went to the show. It was pretty disappointing actually. Not as much variety as I remembered in years past. A lot of really cheap looking beads, and really expensive jewelry. There was an amazing display of amber (love, love, love amber) by a few dealers, but way out of my budget. I did find some interesting stuff though, and walked away with a strand of red "coral" (resin), two "ivory" (resin) Buddha head beads, a strand of hand made nickel plated beads and brass bugle beads from Ethiopia, and a set of medium and large "coins". I don't have any plans to use them right now so off they go into the "future projects" box.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Deep Dish Pizza

So happy I signed up for delivery from Terra Organics. This week there was kale in my box. I love kale, I just don't know how to prepare it. Luckily Vegetarian Times magazine came to the rescue again with their recipe for a deep dish pizza (from their Healing Foods Cookbook magazinewhich I found at UWT bookstore. Or go to vegetariantimes.com). The pizza dough was super easy to make, and the pizza was De-Li-C-Us! Substitutions: I had a leek and grated Parmesan cheese that needed to be used so I added them to the recipe, I didn't have fennel seeds or Neufchatel cheese so I omitted them, and I substituted 1 tsp oregano for the fresh herbs. The recipe calls for a 12 inch skillet. Mine is 10 inches and it worked just fine!

Deep Dish Skillet Pizza
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 0.25 oz pkg dry yeast
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs flax meal or ground flax seed
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves minced (1 Tbs)
8 cups loosely packed kale
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
2 Tbs Neufachetel cheese (2 oz)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 oz)
12 cherry tomatoes halved
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano or basil

To make dough: dissolve brown sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl. Stir in yeast and let stand for five minutes. Stir in whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, flax meal, oil, and salt. Knead two minutes while adding remaining 1/4 cup all purpose flour. Oil separate bowl, and turn dough in oil to coat. Cover, and let rise in warm spot until dough doubles in size (about 45 minutes).

To make topping: heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about two minutes. Add kale, cover and cook stirring occasionally about 15 minutes (mine was a bit dry so I added a little veggie broth to keep from burning) or until kale is softened. Add mushrooms and fennel seeds (I added leeks and oregano at this point) and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in Neufchatel.

Preheat over to 475F. Oil bottom and sides of 12 inch cast iron skillet. Stretch and pat dough over bottom and halfway up sides. Let dough rest 5 minutes. Spread kale mixture, scatter feta, tomatoes and fresh oregano on top (I omitted the fresh herbs and added a handful of Parmesan cheese). Bake 15 minutes on bottom rack. Let stand five minutes before serving.


Friday, March 19, 2010


So happy to have received my first delivery from Terra Organics. I was so bored with buying the same old vegetables from the store, and was hoping Terra would help broaden my veggie world. They did! First box had red dandelion greens, parsnips, brussel sprouts, apples, pears, curly parsley, and Shitake mushrooms -- AND they provide recipes!

Okay, I have to say I'm not a fan of Shitake mushrooms but I did promise myself that I would try everything in the box so tonight I cooked the mushrooms. Terra included a recipe for mushroom fettuccine but that didn't sound good. I found a recipe from vegetariantimes.com (love them!) for a mushroom ravioli using won ton wrappers. I thought if I have to buy won ton wrappers, I might as well just make veggie gyozas so that's what we had: Vegetarian Gyozas with Edamame Succotash, yum! This recipe will probably make about 24 gyozas. I cooked 12 tonight, and froze the remainder (place uncooked gyozas on a paper covered plate and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Keep on plate until frozen through, and then transfer to freezer bag).

If you're wondering if Japanese food is hard to cook it's not. It is time consuming to prepare so make sure you give yourself enough time for the prep:

Vegetarian Gyozas: (serves 2 to 4)
1/2 small Napa Cabbage (Savoy works too) cored and thinly sliced
1 large carrot shredded
4-5 fresh shitake mushrooms cored and finely diced
3 sliced green onions (white and light green part only)
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp water
1/8 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
2 sliced green onions reserved for garnish

Prepare veggies and combine with sauce, cover and marinate in fridge for 1-2 hours (you can also add finely diced Tofu, but make sure to use the extra firm). Drain vegetable mixture before filling wrappers. The leftover filling makes a great salad, and is good over rice too. Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in frying pan, and cook gyoza till brown on bottom (about 3-4 minutes). Add 1/4 cup water, and cover pan for 3-4 minutes or until gyoza is tender. Set aside on plate.

Edamame Succotash:
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 cup frozen corn
1 seeded and diced red bell pepper

Wipe water from frying pan. Add 1 Tbsp canola oil, and saute veggies for about five minutes until crisp/tender. Return gyoza to pan to warm, toss with veggies and plate. Sprinkle with reserved green onions.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brunch with the Boys

Paul and I rarely get up to Seattle, but when we do we like to get together with the boys. We started out with coffee at Top Pot in Capitol Hill, took a nice stroll around the neighborhood and ended up at Volunteer Park Cafe for lunch. The cafe was awesome, kind of a cross b
etween Antiques and Rosewood. It's just the kind of place I'd like to have if I ever owned a cafe, snuggled in a residential area where patrons walked, biked, or drove by for a bite. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are right outside of Volunteer Park with the arboretum and Asian Art Museum which was our next stop. There was an exhibit of Japanese motifs that I was hoping to see, but unfortunately it was closed so they could set up for the next showing of Japanese woodblock prints in April. Oh, poor me -- I guess I'll have to make another trip out to Capitol Hill, and I suppose I could force myself to have another bite at the cafe.

REI Flagship Store

My feet are in sad shape. Suffice it to say that in my youth I did not heed my doctor's advice and continued to spend all day in high heeled shoes that were great to look at but not great for my feet. Fast forward 20 years and I am now trying to find shoes somewhere between stylish, affordable and orthopedic -- not an easy find let me tell you. A friend recommended Keen shoes which are available at REI but Tacoma's store has a limited supply so off we went today to their flagship store in Seattle. Have you seen that place? Forget about availability of merchandise, the surroundings are fantastic! There's a bike trail if you want to try out your bike, a hiking trail, a waterfall, stone steps -- hard to believe we were in downtown Seattle. Anyway, I found my shoes but I'm more excited to go back and look in their "garage" department for gently used returned merchandise to see if I can find any bargains. And I might pack a picnic lunch too!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day Trip: Southeast Portland

I know, I know, it's been a while since I've written anything, but I have been busy. Let's see, Paul and I have been experimenting cooking with fish, I've learned how to play Texas Hold 'Em, hosted a party at the house, finished the tiles for a public art project that should be installed by the summer, all things I could have blogged about but I didn't so get over it.

It was a beautiful day so we decided to visit Lisa in Portland (and we got to meet her friend Hannah). Lisa is moving with Hannah this summer from N Portland (so close to the NE area which I LOVE) to SE Portland (which I plan to grow to LOVE).

I love Portland for so many reasons: The Tin Shed, Nicholas Restaurant , their Japanese Garden, and Farmers Market, great parks, public transportation, artists' markets, and bike-ability, and now I have a few more favorites to add to the list.

After we dropped off Hannah we went to Lisa's favorite resale shop Rerun on NE Freemonth where I paid a little too much for a ceramic planter and metal bell. We found another shop on SE Division and 34th, Village Merchants on SE Division & 34th . VM had a ton of cute knick-knacks, and they also sold children's linen in the same car pattern Kevin had on his kiddy-bed (awwww).
And where else but in Portland can you get a fabulous meal at a grocery store deli? I am so in love with New Seasons Market. Spendy, yes, but I would love to have one in Tacoma.

Paul discovered an art walk in SE Portland. It was a mixture of value priced street art, to over priced bad art, and artist studio tour where the fantastic art was displayed.

We topped the day off with a great cup of coffee at Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery. They have an awesome selection of sweet and savory pies that I managed to resist. Another reason for a visit to Portland.