The Olympic Peninsula

The weather is becoming warmer, the days longer, and the cherry blossoms are making their debut. This past weekend we ventured out to the Olympic Peninsula, bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the east by the Hood Canal, north by the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and anchored by the splendid Olympic Mountains. The sun was bright and warm, the water sparkling, and the mountains snow-capped and so grand that we felt as if they were always watching over us.

A fab bookstore in Olympia, WA.My love language. The Hama Hama Oyster Saloon sits on the Hood Canal and is the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful view, slurp oysters, make new friends and sit around the fire. We tried most of the menu but will always default to raw oysters! The Walrus and the Carpenter serves Hama Hama oysters so you know they are some of the best. Also loved the grilled oysters with a variety of butter sauces. YUM. Grab a dozen on your way out to shuck that evening. Mounds and mounds of oyster shells.BateauView of the Olympics from our deck.The butter to my bread, and the breath to my life.

Making this tomorrow for the first time. Thanks to my sweet friend and amazing chef Emilee for treating us to the BEST Bolognese ever while we were in Austin a few weeks ago.

Bon Appétit!

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ATX & Pantry Staples

“When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.” -Alice Waters

Chicken & Dumplings

As my love for food, simplicity, and cooking continues to grow I rely heavily on a well-stocked pantry. Here are some items I always have on hand – canned, whole-peeled tomatoes, beans, lentils, pasta, capers, canned olives, olive oil, vinegar, flours, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, jam, sea salt, black peppercorns, polenta, rolled oats, nuts, anchovies and sardines. Keep reading for a few recipes that we find ourselves cooking and eating most often. Thank you, Seattle, for providing your residents with such fresh bounty! But first, a few of my favorites from our most recent trip to Austin.

Beautiful wallpaper at Elizabeth Street CafeI will always, always love you, Julio’s. Favorite red ranchero enchiladas & chicken soup, hands down.Does it get any better than this?Give me all the brisket, jalapeno sausage, ribs, potato salad, and beans. You feel like you have gone 30 years back in time when you enter Stiles Switch. It has an old Texas feel and is one of the best BBQ joints with amazing service. Don’t forget to grab a banana pudding!

What I will always love about Austin – the warmth of the sun on my skin, chips + queso  + salsa + guacamole, tacos, the people – we are blessed with amazing friendships, where Adam and I share the bulk of our memories as husband and wife, where I was born, where our Nora Rose was born, The University of Texas, beautiful oak trees, the music, the heat! dresses & sandals, and of course the coffee!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we have, and that you share them with those who will love them just as much!

“A familiar pantry is like being surrounded by friends who won’t let you down, within instant reach.” Alice Waters

Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs 

Lentil Soup w/Sausage, Chard, and Garlic

Pan Fried Butter Beans and Greens

Bon Appétit! Thanks for dropping in!

Winter Warmth

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” -Edith Sitwell

The first signs of spring are beginning to blossom and I couldn’t be more excited. We are a little over a month away from winter coming to an end, and while I’ve appreciated so much about this season I have begun to look forward to the next. What gives you comfort during the winter months? A good book, coffee shop outings, cozy sweaters, vacation planning, snail mail from Texas, dinner dates and a hot bowl of savory vegetable soup, you won’t even miss the meat. Much love to you and yours. xoxo

Bon Appétit!

Italian Potato Pasta Soup With Greens

  • YIELD 6 to 8 servings
  • TIME 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

  • 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for garnish
  • 2cups diced onion
  • 1cup diced carrot
  • 1cup diced fennel or celery
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1bay leaf
  • 1large thyme sprig
  • 2garlic cloves, minced
  • 2teaspoons paprika
  • 2tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3quarts/12 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • 2pounds medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or russets, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 8ounces kale or chard, stems removed, leaves sliced across into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 4 cups total)
  • ½pound dried pennette, orecchiette or other small pasta
  • 1tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or marjoram, for garnish
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrot and fennel, stir, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat to prevent vegetables from browning or scorching.
  2. Stir in bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic, paprika and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth, potatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  3. Stir in kale and pasta and simmer another 10 minutes, or until greens are well cooked and pasta is done. (Soup can be made up to this point, without the pasta, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  4. Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and Parmesan. Drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Recipe by David Tannis of NYT Cooking

Memories

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” -Kazuo Ishiguro


The house is quiet and still this morning after a week of excitement and celebration. With the smell of bone broth simmering and Norah Jones singing in the background I am remembering special moments from our baby girl’s 1st birthday and holding onto them with the tightest grip. What a whirlwind of all things happy, joyful, warm and lovely we have been blessed with by her precious life, and are grateful for each of you that have played a remarkable role in our lives. Here are some of my favorite snapshots from Nora’s birthday weekend for those of you who couldn’t be here or for those who just simply want to remember. Be infectious with kindness and generosity this week, and make a big pot of our favorite tomato soup for loved ones and strangers alike.

Beautiful photographs taken and edited by my insanely talented sister.


Kisses all day long xoxo

Slightly Adapted Version of NYT Tomato Soup

Serves 6 to 8 hearty bowls

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound butter
  • 1 pound onions about 3 medium, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons honey

PREPARATION

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and celery, cook gently, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add flour and stir until mixture is slightly thickened and pale gold, about 3 minutes; do not allow to brown.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, chicken broth, sugar, salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium until the liquid bubbles, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently.
  4. Stir in half-and-half and honey. Remove from heat and purée using a hand blender, or allow to cool until no longer steaming and purée in batches in a stand blender. Return to medium heat just until heated through. Serve hot.

Bon Appétit!

P.S. What books are you loving right now? I’m currently reading ‘My Life in France’ and I’m just a little obsessed. 😉

Hospitality 

During our 11 day journey to Seattle we made a pit stop in Salt Lake City for the night. The morning we planned to head out we found a coffee shop nearby in the quaintest little neighborhood. We sampled two gourmet toasts, one with lox and the other with housemade jam and sipped our cappuccinos. As we got ready to leave I noticed the sky darkening and rain began to fall. Quickly, we hopped in Ruby excited to knock out another long stretch of our cross country move. Ruby was parallel parked on the slick, wet road and as she went in reverse her back right tire became wedged in a large hole which we later found out was street drainage. A tow truck pulled her out a couple hours later with no damage but during our wait something happened that made a strong imprint on my heart.

She was around my age and a few weeks away from giving birth. It was a peaceful, drizzly morning for a leisurely stroll and we were on her path to the coffee shop. She noticed two wet dogs tied up outside, a momma with an umbrella and a sleeping babe and a daddy on and off the phone with our insurance and roadside assistance. That day I learned what true hospitality looks like. She welcomed us over for brunch and offered her husband to come with his truck to pull Ruby out of the hole. We were strangers but were treated like friends and offered warmth, food and shelter from the rain.

Hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers. Synonyms for hospitality are warm reception, kindness, food, neighborliness and friendliness. The recent events in Texas brought this story back to my mind and gives us one way we can always be of service to others. As I was reading an article from the NYT I came across this – “Make dinner tonight and serve it exactly as if you were serving it to all those millions of people affected by the storm, welcoming them to shelter, dry and warm, with food. They’d like nothing better. And, if they can’t join you, at least you can look to your family, your friends, those you’ve gathered on a Monday night in late August to eat, to talk Texas and be thankful that you’re together and safe.”

Photos by Brandon Hill

“Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Lime Crema

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

A Proper Season


Ruby bus is 49 years old, a stick shift; and I don’t drive standard, especially in a city covered with hills. What I did not grasp before moving here was the steepness of said hills. I’m talking San Francisco steep. So, Nora and I walk and take the King County Metro around the city. We LOVE taking the bus. We enjoy watching people and wonder where they are going and what they are doing. Last week, there was an older gentleman sitting on a row in front of us reading from the Psalms. He would read some, close his eyes for a minute or so, then begin reading some more. It seemed like he was memorizing scripture or maybe just meditating on what he just read. So I followed his lead and turned to Psalm 1. One particular part of that chapter stood out to me that day; vs.3 states “He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts.” Am I yielding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Am I yielding these fruits at the proper time? 

Nora “picking” and eating blueberries

Blueberry season falls naturally in the summer and blueberries are at their prime during that small window. Nature certainly knows what our bodies need to thrive. Food grows seasonally and I am beginning to appreciate and respect what we are given. Just like different seasons produce fruits that nourish our physical bodies there is a proper season for producing spiritual fruits. Our backyard is home to two bountiful blueberry bushes that yield sweet, plump, juicy fruit. On the rare occasion we don’t devour them as soon as picked, I like to whip up these buttery, gluten-free muffins. This recipe is a slight variation on Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins in the New York Times. Simply exchange the all purpose flour for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. Crushing the blueberries here is key. It produces a jammy, moist, blue-marbled muffin that melts in your mouth. Be sure to schmear your muffin with large pat of butter and serve with a hot cup of coffee.


Bon Appétit!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Bob’s 1 to 1 GF baking flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries, washed, drained and picked over
  • 3 teaspoons sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
  5. Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.
  6. Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons sugar over the tops of the muffins, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove muffins from tin and cool at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day, if they last that long.

 

Joie de vivre


Sea of flowers at the Farmers Market.

Joie de vivre; joy of living, a French phrase used to describe a hearty and cheerful enjoyment of life. One writer stated that “it can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do…And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life.” James reminds us of this very idea. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” To lack in nothing. Isn’t that the mindset we all want to attain? As I allow that comprehensive joy to saturate my thoughts more each day, I grow closer to the place where my heart lacks in nothing.


I want to introduce a series that features this very idea, joie de vivre, the little things that bring joy to my life each day. My hope is that you can find your own joie de vivre, whether it’s at home with your family, meeting and showing kindness to a stranger, in quiet with your own thoughts, living in the present and taking notice of your surroundings, or simply at the kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee and an afternoon goûter with a friend.


Wallpaper turned art for Nora’s room.

July 4th at the Pacific Ocean.

Friday afternoon rituals at our neighborhood Farmers Market.

Every Friday we look forward to meeting Adam at the Farmers Market after he gets off from work. Nora and I walk about a half mile in anticipation of seeing our main guy and then slowly peruse the local fare. Our habit lately has been to grab what looks the most appetizing and come home to prepare a simple dinner and soak up our Friday evening with each other. Stay out of the kitchen, steal more kisses from your people and let this juicy bruschetta fill your hearts and bellies!



Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Bon Appétit!

Love & Baseball

Summer was our best season…it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape.

-Harper Lee


Seattle is known for being drizzly, cloudy and gloomy, and I expect those days will come sooner than I would like. But for now we are enjoying plenty of sunshine, crisp air, and long days which translate to late dinners on the patio, open windows, quality time, meaningful conversation and doing our best to live each day simply and with intent. I read this week that simple is not a synonym for easy. Living simply requires thought and meditation on how we should be spending our time and weeding out the unnecessary distractions that so many times get in the way of what is important. Do I need this lesson everyday? Yes. Did I mention the hydrangeas have made their debut?


What else do people do when the weather is perfect in Seattle? They go to a Mariners vs. Astros baseball game at Safeco Field. Adam and I fell hard and fast for each other in 2008, but it was at an Astros game sitting in the Diamond Club that we knew we wanted to love the other person for life. Covered in peanut dust and our faces sore from smiling and laughing we had found home with each other. We plan to bring Nora to her first baseball game soon but this weekend we enjoyed a game just the two of us and it felt like old times. Nine years later our love is so much greater and deeper than it was that day in the Diamond Club and we have this love bug to show for it.




Seattle is situated beautifully on the Puget Sound and as a result we enjoy an abundance of fresh seafood and local fruits and vegetables. Over the past few days the temperature has crept up into the 90’s and everyone is at the beaches, eating al fresco and flooding the parks. I truly feel like I live in a magical place, one that boasts the bluest skies I’ve ever seen and water that glistens below it. Most homes here are without AC so on these rare warm days we spend little time in the kitchen. This effortless dish features sweet Manila clams in a savory broth, is on the table in less than 10 minutes and begs to be enjoyed outdoors with someone you love. Serve with a hunk of grilled sourdough bread.

Bon Appétit!





Smitten Kitchen Garlic, Wine, and Butter Steamed Clams

 

Home is Wherever I’m With You

After our 3,000 mile plus journey in Ruby, a 1968 Volkswagen Westfalia bus, we landed in Seattle a little over a month ago. Ruby stayed strong the entire trip and protected us from the elements as we camped and explored new cities, national parks and off the path wonders. She is a gem and quickly became our home and safe haven. When we left Austin I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the trip or arriving in a new place that would now be our home. The time we took to drive and see the beauty of this country unexpectedly prepared me for a new city with new faces. Once we reached Seattle it instantly felt like we had come home.


I was chatting with my mother one day and she asked “what does it smell like in Seattle?”, to which I replied damp, clean, and like evergreen trees. We are big on how places smell and would always talk of how Austin smelled as the seasons changed. Nora and I often walk to the Washington Park Arboretum which consists of 230 acres of forest blanketed with evergreens and speckled with azaleas, magnolia trees, cherry blossoms, camellias, and much more for the eyes to gaze upon. We love going there to be immersed in nature and for the sights, air, and smells.


There is much to say about the food in Seattle, but I will start with something from our kitchen. Our home was built in 1915 and it is my favorite place that I’ve ever lived, probably because of its age and the abundance of natural light. Even on a cloudy, misty day it stays so bright that we rarely turn any lights on. The kitchen has quickly become the room I spend the majority of my time in cooking, reading, writing, reflecting, and visiting.  The kitchen is where I have the fondest memories of my childhood. I feel a renewed sense of my love and relationship with food and what it brings to our family table.



So it is only fitting that I share with you a lovely, simple cherry clafoutis recipe for my first post. It is cherry season in Washington and it takes major self control not to buy 4 pounds of market cherries. Yikes. I chose this recipe for my darling husband on his first Father’s Day because he loves cherries and anything French. A clafoutis is a classic French country dessert and is a perfect way to enjoy summer fruits. Keep in mind that this can be enjoyed throughout the year, just substitute fruit based on season. It is as simple as whipping together a sweet batter, pouring it over fresh cherries, waiting patiently while it bakes, then admiring and devouring the airy, eggy, custard-like perfection of a clafoutis.

Bon Appétit!


Smitten Kitchen Cherry Clafoutis
I chose to leave the pits in the cherries while baking to get that extra almond flavor. Serve with dusted powdered sugar or as we did with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.