baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

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archive for August 2011

the beauty of this life: a fund for jennie

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Recipe: vietnamese pickled vegetables

When Jeremy and I were a young couple, we would on rare occasion have dessert for dinner and giggle to one another that this was a perk of being an adult. I defined adult by age. I had no idea what adulthood really meant. I didn’t know loss. I didn’t know illness. I didn’t know that people would disappoint in times of crisis. I also didn’t know that there were those who would carry me through the toughest days with their love and support.

seek the rainbow in the storm

Today, I try to walk through life ever-present… to appreciate the beautiful moments be they the hug of a small child, an exquisite landscape, tucking my hand into Jeremy’s back pocket as we walk, hiking into the mountains, stroking Kaweah’s soft floppy ears, sharing a meal with a friend.

at dinner with jennie in sonoma valley (november 2009)

Sometimes beauty arises where you least expect it – like all of the peanut butter pies that the food blogging community posted per Jennie’s modest request after her husband tragically passed away two weeks ago. Or in this, my favorite tribute to Jennie and Mikey by my dear friends Todd and Diane.

a fund for jennie
Thanks to the efforts of Shauna and Maggy, we can offer some longer term support. Maggy, Erika, and Aimée have launched Bloggers without Borders and one of their first assistance projects is a fundraiser for Jennie and her girls. Many bloggers are participating by holding auctions and sharing the news. As part of this blogging community and as Jennie’s friend, I’m doing my small part to help and to get the word out.

I’m sort of raffling off two of my 12×18 inch photographs (matted to 18×24 inches, all archival materials) to two winners who will be drawn at random. I say sort of because it’s one ticket per person, but you are of course welcome to donate more than the cost of a ticket if you are so inclined. It’s about helping Jennie more than anything else.

Here are the rules:

1) To enter, donate a minimum of $10 to Bloggers without Borders (donate via the button below) AND leave a comment on this post sharing what you find beautiful in life.
2) This raffle is open to everyone.
3) One entry per person, please.
4) Deadline to leave a comment is 12:00 pm (noon) extended to midnight, Mountain Daylight Time on Monday, August 29, 2011.
5) Winners will be chosen at random from the comments and verified with Bloggers without Borders.
6) The winners are to select a photo of their choice.
7) The photos will ship anywhere (at my cost).

Or if you want to donate, but don’t want to enter the raffle – that’s perfectly fine too! Either way, thank you for your kindness and your generosity.

click this button to donate to a fund for jennie at bloggers without borders

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

a few of the photos the winners can choose from

There is a recipe too since these wonderful people and this incredible community are a part of my life because of food. In fact, I wouldn’t have known about nor made this recipe if Diane hadn’t introduced me to banh mi, the delectable sandwich of her people made with baguette, pâté, cilantro, a protein (pork, ham, etc.), pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, and mayonnaise. I determined that I needed those pickles. So I made them myself a while back (as you can tell from the henna tattoos on my hand). [NOTE: I pickled cucumbers with the daikon and carrot, but I don’t add cucumbers anymore because their excess liquid dilutes the pickling power too much.]

typically daikon and carrots, but i added the cucumbers too


**Jump for more butter**

swooning in seattle

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Recipe: crunchy granola

[There really is a recipe buried at the bottom of the post, but first I’m going to yammer about my Seattle visit… because it’s my blog and because I get to do whatever I want with it.]

You knew we were *this* close to moving to Washington (state), didn’t you? In 2004, Jeremy and I had a map of the country in front of us and we had narrowed it down to two places: Colorado and Washington. Obviously Colorado won, but it was a choice between awesome and amazing. We are incredibly happy with where we are now, but we have a bit of a love affair with Washington – especially Seattle. In fact, it’s becoming worse because of all the friends we have there. We almost have to sneak into the state for fear of hurting feelings. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a problem if we didn’t insist on time in the backcountry, but that’s a priority for both of us – time alone (together) in the wilderness.

the ferry to vashon

Our flight landed and we made a slow bumble beeline for the ferry to Vashon Island (is it me or is SEATAC really slow about… everything?). For me, Vashon is synonymous with Shauna and her dear family. They had invited us to their lovely island home for lunch and to make a pie for Mikey. It dawned on me that there is never enough time to spend with any of the people we care about, especially the ones far away. Life is a balance between those things we should do, those things we want to do, long term, short term, good, and bad. Everything had been go! go! go! up to this point. I stood in their living room watching Lucy play, listening to Shauna share the latest, thinking about our friend. It can be overwhelming how life is filled with both joy and sorrow – to such extremes and all at once. I closed my eyes and quietly choked back the emotions welling in my chest.

love this

danny prepped fava beans for the pasta

lu took me outside to play before lunch

lovely lunch of salad, pasta (filled with vegetables), and homemade strawberry soda

If you follow my tweets, you’ll know that Jeremy was utterly delighted with the ferries (partly for special relativity teaching moments). This New Mexico boy is smitten with the ocean. When he sees it he gets all giddy and says, “The ocean!” and I’m all “Yeah, there it is.” I grew up on the water and I do love non-tropical coasts, but I don’t have the same feelings for the water the way I do for the mountains. Still, it’s wonderful how Jeremy becomes a little kid on or near the water. A little kid with an astrophysicist’s brain, that is. A good fraction of our outdoor conversations revolve around the laws of physics that dictate curious and interesting natural phenomena. I knew a woman in graduate school who once said that she felt learning how things form makes them less amazing to her. I feel the complete opposite. (I should add that my opinion of her plummeted after that comment.)


Back on the mainland, we gathered our food for our backpack. In summer, for trips shorter than four days we like to go no-cook which means no stove. That’s particularly handy when you are flying because airlines really get their panties in a wad over Whisperlite stoves and empty fuel canisters. It’s easier to leave them at home or borrow from a friend. One of my favorite things to bring are savory croissants (spinach & feta, ham & cheese, vegetable) from good bakeries. Shauna sent us to Bakery Nouveau near the ferry terminal in West Seattle. Highly recommended, people!

we also picked up some chocolate and almond croissants for brekkie

I took Jeremy to Delancey for dinner with Tea. It is considered a must visit and this was the only night we had available to dine there. Good food and great company – it’s these simple things that make my days.

heirloom tomato salad? hell yes!

pepperoni deliciousness (their red sauce pies are so bleeping good)

We got quick hugs and hellos with Molly and Brandon, and Brandi was so sweet to bring us around back to The Pantry to have a peek. Less than six months ago I saw the start of demolition and now it has transformed into a most beautiful space and place.

gardens gone gangbusters

molly teaching a class

The next three days were spent noodling about in the backcountry of Olympic National Park. A splendid jaunt and much needed calorie-burner for all of the noshing we had done (and would continue to do) in Seattle! One thing we learned when it comes to ferries… it helps to not be in a rush like the rude stressball from Illinois who cut us off in line but still didn’t make the boat. We took advantage of the downtime to dry out the tent and our (really smelly) socks.

peering over the ferry rail

We arrived in Seattle with enough time to clean up at our dear friends’ house and take them out for dinner at Staple and Fancy. The group opted for the four course family style supper which I know for a fact feeds twice as many people as you have at your table. Let’s see if I can remember… First course: bread, buttery green olives, crostini with smoked halibut, anchovies on boiled eggs, burrata with eggplant, pork terrine, fried oysters, salmon belly crudo with sea beans. We were feeling pretty full, but wait! There were three more courses! Second course: tagliatelle with arugula pesto and shaved tuna heart, cod brandade ravioli. Third course: whole branzino with fingerling potatoes and olives, roasted half chicken with slow roasted tomatoes and sweet peppers. Fourth course: cheesecake with fresh figs, chocolate and caramel pudding with truffle cookie. It was all very well done.

the menu that i never even read

fried oysters and aioli

tagliatelle in arugula pesto

branzino (european sea bass) and roasted half chicken

cheesecake with fresh figs

Someone had to roll me down the street, into the car, out of the car, and into bed. But by morning, Jeremy and I were ready for a nice stroll around Queen Anne to sample some Top Pot doughnuts, visit Macrina Bakery, and wander through Trader Joe’s (because we like to torture ourselves like that). I should mention that the weather during our entire trip was perfect: mostly sunny, cool, and not too humid for Seattle. We met up with Lara for lunch at Sitka & Spruce, a place I had wanted to take Jeremy ever since I dined there on my last visit in March. The food is something else… something exceptional. I highly recommend it. [View the whole photo set on the photo blog.]

albacore tuna with broad beans and muhammara

lamb belly with tomato, chantarelles, harissa, and a 6-minute egg

sitka & spruce is also a gorgeous space

That evening we attended a potluck that Dana so graciously offered to host as there were many people to see in Seattle (far too many to fit even in Dana’s wonderfully large and gorgeous home). I felt sheepish. I didn’t want a party for ME. I’m usually the one who throws the party (or helps throw a party) for someone else. I kept telling myself that it was for everyone else too. My non food blogging and food blogging worlds collided in an explosion of laughter, raunchy talk (that was most certainly the food blogger contingent), amazing food (my non blogging friends are great cooks too!), stories, and the three most well-behaved little boys this side of the Mississippi. It was a fun way to wrap up our trip.

dana preps heirloom tomatoes

marc’s string bean salad was all the rage

(left to right) jackie, becky, danika, and matt

spencer and graham demonstrating their disco prowess

So it’s about time I gave you a recipe as I’ve been delinquent for most of August. And it’s only fitting that in my discussion of Seattle and Boulder, I bring you crunchy granola. Get it?! Ha ha ha! Okay, if you don’t get it, I’m not explaining it. I love eating homemade granola, but never thought to make it myself. That’s the great thing about food bloggers – they (the ones I like) make EVERYTHING from scratch which means I really had no excuse for not making my own granola. The only decision to be made was what to put in it.

oats, almonds, coconut, pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

and some honey, sugar, and cinnamon

**Jump for more butter**

in the olympics

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Not the Olympics, but the Olympic Mountains in the northwestern corner of Washington State. I’ve had an obsession with this part of the world ever since I was a little girl, flipping through my collection of Time-Life Nature series books. Anyone remember those? We had The Universe, The Sea, The Desert, and The Forest to name a few. At first I only perused the pictures, but as I got older I could read and understand the narrative that accompanied the images that I had internalized in both my imagination and my understanding of the natural world. They imprinted on me. So much so that when I graduated from college, Jeremy and I took a road trip up the coast and back from Southern California to the Olympic Peninsula, stopping at several national parks and wilderness areas en route. My ultimate goal was to see the only temperate rainforest in the continental US – the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. A photo, an idea, a place I had fallen in love with and latched onto since I was a five year old sitting on the living room floor with books and pictures of other worlds wide open. Adventure – wide open.

This past weekend, Jeremy and I returned after more than a decade away from this gem of a paradise. There are no roads that cross the Olympic Mountains. Most of the year the high peaks, glaciers, ocean, deep valleys, and skies are obscured by thick clouds. August and September are typically the best weather months for travel into the backcountry there, which translates into the busiest time of the season. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you view it), the snow pack was a month behind in melting out this summer and we were happily alone at the most popular backcountry destination in the park at the height of the summer season.

crossing the sol duc river

boardwalk trail through sensitive meadow

deer lake

avalanche lilies are first to bloom after snowfields melt away

the “snake pit”

**Jump for more butter**