Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Seattlites are weenies. It's true!
I went to college in Arizona, I should be able to handle this, but a week of temps in the 90's (well today is supposed to be the hottest day on record, topping over 100 degrees) and we Seattlites are reduced to a puddle of misery.
Like the four feet of snow we had last winter, we are not prepared to handle 90 degree weather (much less 100 degree weather). People are waiting overnight outside home stores in hopes of purchasing air conditioners being trucked in from Chicago.

So between cold showers (at 9:30, 11, 6 am, and 10:30...) I am making a list.

My top 10 ways to beat the Seattle heat:
1. The cold shower is a must. It ranks number one for proximity (you don't have to brave the boiling outdoors to get there!) and cost effectiveness (if like me water is included in your home owner dues).
2. Hang out in your freezer. There are sure to be boxes of tasty treats (in my case 6 kinds of popsicles and icy things), and the air in there is cold. Cold is good. Oh, but don't hang out too long, those tasty treats will melt.
3. Go to work. If you work in a respectable office building, it will be the only place to find air-conditioning. Barring work, head to a shopping mall. We took a trek over to University Village on Sunday, they have air-conditioned shopping and frozen yogurt. I was quite pleased.
4. If you decide to stick it out at home, make sure all windows and doors are open. Check fans obsessively to ensure that are working. Try placing bowls of ice in front of fans, and invest in a misting bottle filled with ice water.
5. Iced coffee. Drink by the gallon. It is Seattle after all, I know you know what iced coffee is!
6. Contemplate sun tea, that too could be iced.
7. Nordstrom sale. Again, air-conditioned, and they have cute shoes!
8. Dream of Hawaii, it is cooler there. It is cooler on most tropical islands.

9. Be thankful that you don't live in Vegas (sorry Carrie!) it is presently 102 there, with an expected high of 105 today. Yikes!
10. Dream of fall and winter, they will come soon enough. Maybe you should just enjoy the heat now?

11. Add some ice packs to the bed!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cucumbers and other delimas

I feel like this has been a particularly difficult summer for growing veggies! My standard houseplants seem to flourish though our recent heat waves, but my veggies are unhappy! My pepper plants were the first casualty, they had a nasty case of aphids. The banana tree hatched so fungus gnats - I learned they have to be watered from the bottom lest they attract these small fruit fly like bugs. My tomatoes are struggling, bug and disease free, but slow growing this year.
...And that brings me to the cucumbers.
I think all of these problems are the result of starting veggies from seeds (that are not disease resilient varieties), using organic soil, and heavy watering to combat heavy heat/sun exposure.
I haven't ever had this many problems with my veggies! It saddens me really.
The cucumbers are loosing their leaves to some kind of fungus, after googling I think it has something to do with the watering.... *sigh*
Anyone have any ideas on how to save my 23 baby cucumbers? :)

Cinnamon-Rhubarb Muffins

A friend from work gave me some rhubarb from her mother's garden... it was chopped and frozen, eating away at me, begging (from inside the freezer) to be baked into something delicious!
I found this recipe on, but (of course!) have made a few alterations:

Cinnamon-Rhubarb Muffins
The recipe notes that the muffins are best when still warm... I kind of disagree. I sack all of my muffins by two in Ziploc bags and toss them in the freezer to take to work for breakfast/snack, I think the muffins were better after freezing, the flavors became more clearly recognizable.

2 cups flour (I used one cup white and one cup wheat)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sour cream (I used 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup sour cream - both fat free)
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch-diced rhubarb (I used about 2 cups, and felt like I could have added more, though my chunks were larger than the recommended 1/4 inch cube)

For the topping:
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
(I used a premixed cinnamon and sugar shaker that David brought when he moved in and that I now love) :)

Preheat your oven to 4oo degrees. Slice the butter into 1 inch cubes, place in a oven safe dish and toss it in the oven while preheating to melt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon , baking soda, and salt - whisk to blend.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, melted butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. I loved this part, your end result smells like tasty vanilla custard - but no tasting! It contains eggs! :)
Lightly stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together; do not over mix. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb - your batter will be very thick.
Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mix, and then bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes.
When you take the muffins out of the oven, let them cool in the pan for the first 10 minutes or so, this helps them firm up and will hopefully keep all of your rhubarb in the muffin (I did have one casualty!)

These muffins are so good and remind me of my Mom's Rhubarb Cake! Just make sure to use paper muffin cups or Pam with flour baking spray (the one with flour is like a magic trick, nothing sticks!)

I hope you enjoy! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Homemade Life ... and a tasty potato recipe

I just finished (and LOVED) A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.
It is a touching story in which the author remembers her father and relates the meeting of her now husband through stories associated with her favorite recipes.
I walked away from this book wishing that I knew Molly in person, loving the stories, her fond memories of her father's love of Paris and food, that he was a man that enjoyed life!
I loved reading how she and her now husband met, of each bringing things (bowls, love, quirks, vinegars, and dirty socks) to the relationship.
I loved that the book was so positive. I didn't want to put it down, it made me happy just reading it.

This recipe was from the blog (not the book, though there is a similar recipe in the book), but so tasty I had to share (I am quoting her blog, you can also go here to view):

Salsa Verde for Potatoes

For this recipe, we use capers in brine, and we don’t rinse them after draining. And just so you know, you can multiply this recipe to make a lot at a time, but you’ll want to watch out for the garlic. Its flavor tends to grow exponentially, and it can quickly become overpowering. For large quantities, add garlic to taste.

Oh, and just in case of confusion: the term salsa verde is a sort of catch-all used to describe a variety of green herb-based sauces, so if you’ve seen other salsa verde recipes that looked different from this one, that’s why. (For example, there’s a salsa verde in my book that uses cilantro, chiles, and lime juice. Nothing like this one, but pretty killer on roasted cauliflower.)

6 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. capers, drained and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk to mix well. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld. Toss with hot roasted, steamed, or boiled potatoes. (But preferably roasted.) Salt to taste, if needed.

Yield: enough for about 1 ½ lb. potatoes
... David and I almost ate the whole bowl while standing in the kitchen (they are that tasty!)
Oh! Another side note, I used the remainder of the dressing as a rub on some chicken before grilling, it too was fantastic!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A food day

I have found a new love. (Sorry honey, you have been ousted by whipped yogurty air!)
David and I started the day out at the gym, but on our way home some friends called to join them at the Bite of Seattle, a huge summer festival involving tons of food booths, people, a few crafty booths, bands, and far too much sunshine! lol... We had a great time, and managed to limit ourselves to only two servings of Yogurt Shnoo.
We came home, I took a nap and then made some tastiness of my own:

I was talking on the phone and shopping yesterday (a terrible habit), and managed to come home with some fat free asiago sourdough bread. Don't ask how they made it fat free, that question I simply cannot answer, but while I thought it tasty, David compared it's springiness to a seat cushion and attempted to toss it out.
I rescued the somewhat indestructible bread and gave it new direction! I sliced and drizzled, added some chopped tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and a little pesto, tossed the mess under the broiler for a few minutes. 8-10 minutes later we had a tasty snack!
But then everything is good with a little cheese right? :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bainbridge in Bloom (aka Bloedel Reserve)

We tried! We really did! Sunday we took the ferry over to Bainbridge, our goal destination (the Bloedel Reserve) carefully charted on google maps, and we arrived, we were there, I saw a sign!
And yet, we somehow ended up on the Bainbridge in Bloom Garden Tour rather than in the Bloedel Reserve.
We asked directions for tickets, and followed the map provided, really I didn 't realize we were in the wrong place until the second house when it became more obvious that we were trapsing through peoples gardens. (Though, you can't blame me, the first garden came with directions like 'through the white trellis, past the apple orchard, to the zen garden...')
Ours was a happy mistake though, and I have to wonder, what do these people do for a living???
These were gardens the likes of which I have never seen in real life, magazine gardens if you will, each more beautiful than the last.
We had a great time!
(Though I still want to see the Bloedel Reserve!) :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Project 365 - week one

I know! I am a lean mean posting machine today! I have been thinking of all of these things that I have wanted to post, but just haven't gotten a chance until now, it has been a busy week!
I just wanted to post a reminder to check out my Flickr page or view my progress on Project 365. I have been posting my daily pics every couple days, along with a little comment - check it out if you get a chance!
A couple of other tidbits:
This weekend David and I are headed over to Bainbridge Island to visit the Bloedel Reserve and maybe Bainbridge Island Winery and Vineyards - this is going to be a great weekend, I will post pictures I promise!
I also bought tickets to LA to visit Heather and Carrie at the end of August! I am so excited for this trip, it has been about two years since our last vacation get together, and I can hardly wait!

Foodie books

I just finished The Sharper the Knife the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn...
I wasn't really paying attention when I originally picked up the book, there was a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love - which I loved), on the cover and somehow I translated that to Elizabeth Gilbert being the author of this book as well. Even after spending much of the book pondering how the two could possibly relate (and still not coming to the obvious conclusion) I loved this book! lol...
Good grief, quite the recommendation I am making right?
Anyway, 'The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry' is about the author (Kathleen Flinn!) satisfying a long held desire to attend Le Cordon Bleu, the famous Parisian cooking school. It is about living in Paris, learning to communicate in another language, having a desire to do well, to complete something started, and to find honest love in the process. I loved it.

I am now reading 'Entertaining Disasters' by Nancy Spiller...
It has an interesting premise, the author (traumatized by previous family and dinner party woes) has take to making it all up; inspiring recipes and bits of conversation, pretend meals and entertaining guests. That is until a prospective editor invites himself over.
Your interested right? Good vacation reading, I think that I bought this to read of some road trip or another, but I must tell you that while the premise is tantalizing, the book is BORING!
I hate to give up on a book, and so I rush though, but 100 pages in? She is still talking about how she is a fake, and really, I got that part already.

Maybe I am just really excited to start this book:

A Homemade Life is by Molly Wizenberg, author of the blog Orangette. I will keep you posted on this one, but I have a feeling that it is going to be fantastic! :)

Avert your eyes!

So yesterday I noticed that my pepper plants were not doing very well. I cut off the bottom few leaves that were covered with a sticky residue and what looked like little shinny bumps of sap or something. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I took a picture to email to my Mom:

I forgot all about it, until I was loading my pictures from my camera onto my computer.... I use photoshop to rotate and re-size pictures and happened to zoom in on the pic..... lo and behold the little bits of 'sap' have eye balls. Little black beady eyes belonging to little buggies that are killing my pepper plants!
I am guessing that they are aphids, which I thought I could just spray off when I got home from work. I thought that I had caught them fairly early, but when I got home they seemed to be everywhere!
I gave up on the peppers, they went down the trash shoot.
Further inspection of the surrounding tomatoes and avocados reveled no more buggies, my fingers are crossed that they stay that way!

Friday, July 3, 2009

101 in 1001

I found an old blog I used to have, many many moons ago .... I thought I had deleted it, but it was still there. On said blog, I had posted a list (one that I threatened to make Heather do recently) of 101 goals to accomplish in 1001 days, and reading the list I was ... wowed... to find that I have done these things, I have really accomplished all but maybe 5 (okay, I counted, there are 16 that I haven't done, but then again I don't have any relatives in Cuba, so that make #29 a bit tricky!) ... It is amazing to see yourself doing the things that you always wanted to do!

My 2006 list of goals (keep in mind, 101 is quite a few, you get a bit silly after 10!):
1. Get a passport
2. Follow up on the prospect of tuition reimbursement, take a language class
3. Go to Paris this October
4. Go to the Louvre
5. Use the spa gift certificate (I re-gifted, that counts right?)
6. Continue saving
7. Open another savings account, for the purchase of a house/condo
8. Follow through and buy a condo within the next three years
9. Paint the walls
10. Volunteer
11. No matter how challenging, don’t give up on the parents, work hard to keep the parents and the brother together
12. Go to the gym
13. At least three times a week
14. Loose thirty pounds by the end of August
15. Once that weight loss goal has been achieved set another
16. Take a glass blowing class
17. Take a pottery class
18. Take an acrylics class, preferably something challenging like figure painting
19. Take a cooking class
20. Go to a winery, take a tour
21. Go to more restaurants by myself
22. Go to a bar by myself
23. Learn how to use my camera
24. Take 10 pics a day for a week straight
25. Take the train somewhere, Canada maybe?
26. Use my employee benefits, there are tons of hotels that I haven’t seen
27. Speaking of, go to Boston
28. Run away to Mexico with the work place friends
29. Go to Cuba, dress colorfully
30. Keep up the monthly dinner parties
31. One month should be brunch (with mimosas!)
32. Have a fondue party (buy the fondue pot from value village)
33. And another month should be a picnic
34. Try to convince the participants to have some at their houses
35. Find some window boxes
36. Figure out how to use them with my windows
37. Grow a small garden with freesia outside the bedroom windows
38. Buy screens for the windows this summer, bugs scare me
39. Work on the furniture
40. Go miniature golfing
41. Go ice skating
42. Go skiing
43. Buy a tent and sleeping bag
44. Go camping
45. Go camping with friends who are not my brother and his boyfriend
46. Find a ‘best of’ reading list and read the entire contents
47. Go to the symphony
48. Go to a film festival
49. Go to the eye doctor, get new contacts
50. Get new glasses for the days I don’t want to wear the contacts
51. Find a specialist, get an expert opinion on the prospect of lasik
52. Go to the dentist
53. Get my wisdom teeth pulled
54. Be wise without them
55. Learn to tell a better joke
56. Buy some skirts
57. Wear them
58. Find and wear some sexy shoes in something other than black (I have had several pairs of pink shoes since)
59. Pay closer attention to the news
60. Read the paper
61. Work in a coffee shop for at least a month, learn how to make an amazing cup of coffee
62. Hang out in coffee shops more often, take my reading outside of my apartment
63. Find and try spicy chocolate
64. Try escargot
65. Go horseback riding
66. Learn to kayak
67. Finish the painting
68. Paint something else
69. Learn to BBQ
70. Have a place to do it
71. Buy a fruit tree and keep it alive long enough to produce
72. Date
73. Make-out like a teenager
74. Take a yoga class
75. Figure out how to straighten my hair
76. Learn how to wear a little make-up
77. Find a lip stain that I like (something a little darker than the tinted gloss I usually wear)
78. Get a credit card
79. Continue developing my credit
80. Go visit the Vegas friends in Hawaii
81. Rent a bike and tour around Bremerton/Bainbridge
82. Find and buy a few more nice dresses
83. Find and go to some swanky events in which those dresses can be worn
84. Find somewhere I can volunteer to help with building/refurbishing houses
85. Donate blood
86. Date some more
87. Go on a romantic weekend away
88. Explore the San Juan islands
89. Donate my hair to Locks of Love
90. Find some festive unmentionables
91. Send a message by balloon
92. Ride in a hot air balloon
93. Make my own Christmas cards
94. Research how to sell the cards
95. Go skinny dipping
96. Have fun more often
97. Go dancing
98. Learn how to do an actual dance
99. Kiss in the rain
100. Fall in love
101. Make it last

The day off before a holiday

It is an interesting thing taking a picture every day. Thinking about taking a picture every day. Yesterday we had dinner with some friends at Ponti (part of the birthday week celebration). I took the camera, but didn't use it. There is a wonderful aspect of just enjoying the company of friends, but then the regret of not capturing that same moment...
I am not particularly impressed with any of my 3 of 365, but can hardly wait for the collection.

Today David, Craig (my brother) and I debated my brother's age while wondering around Swanson's, drinking coffee, and lusting after plants.
Oh! and then we bought a fancy new tent! Our next camping adventure will take us to Port Townsend at the end of August and will hopefully include: beach combing, creamery touring, biking Fort Warden trails, afternoon napping (it was so relaxing during the last vacation, why not?) and I always try to sneak in a coffee date or two!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

aka Cherry Dump Cake?

Before leaving for our San Juan Island Vacation Weekend, I had cleaned out the fridge (using the ricotta) and freezing some leftover cherries. Yesterday being David's birthday (and today I have a potluck at work calling for the leftovers!) I made a 'cherry cobbler' that distinctly reminded me of an old recipe I used to have for a dump cake - it was so easy, and very very tasty! :)

Fresh Cherry Cobbler
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar (I used a 1/2 cup white and a 1/2 cup brown)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
I also added about 1 1/2 sliced almonds - this is optional, and just an addition that I made to the recipe :)
2 cups pitted cherries (I didn't measure, but probably had about 3 cups)
3/4 cup white sugar (I maybe used 1/4 cup sugar for this part)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (this time I happened to grab wheat flour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a 9x13 inch baking dish and place in the oven to melt while oven is preheating. (Cut up the butter, otherwise it wont melt fast enough, and yes, the dough will really fill that size of dish) Remove as soon as butter has melted, about 5 minutes (I didn't let my butter brown, but may try it next time!) :)
In a medium bowl stir together 1 cup of the flour, 1 cup of the sugar and the baking powder. Mix in the milk until well blended then pour the patter into the pan over the butter. Do not stir. (Here is were you start to question the amount of butter floating in the dish, never fear, all will be well!) Sprinkle almonds (or nut of your choice) on top of the batter if you are adding them.
Toss the cherries with the remaining sugar and flour, distribute evenly over the batter. Do not stir.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown. A toothpick should come out clean.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pictures a bust!

Sadly the disposable camera pictures were a bust! I can only offer a few shots (of victory - we were the last car on the ferry!)

When Friday Harbor was repeatedly labled 'touristy' by friends and co-workers alike, I imagined Oregon Coast tourist traps, but Friday Harbor surprised me with just a few kitschy shops, a couple of restaurants, several tasty coffee shops, a kitchen shop we loved, and a cute Saturday farmers market.
We wandered around a little each day, ending with five bottles of wine from San Juan Cellars, some over exposed pictures of alpacas, delicious memories of pork ribs doused in campfire smoke, the island luxury of afternoon napping, and love for Lime Kiln Park (it was easily my favorite place on San Juan Island!).

Sunday night after returning home, it was hard to sleep without the sounds of our island birds, I am already hoping for a trip to Orcas Island next year!