Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Eating In: Blueberry Banana Bread

My friend Kara is coming to visit Ruby and me for breakfast tomorrow, so in her honor I baked a banana bread. But not just any banana bread; this one has some of those gorgeous fresh blueberries from our trip to Bybee-Nims Farm.

I found this recipe by doing a quick search, and with just a few personal touches (using half brown sugar vs all white sugar, adding oatmeal and vanilla, doubling the amount of blueberries) it's exactly what I was hoping for. Plus, it makes two loaves; enough for breakfast and snacks while Ed's parents are visiting.

Blueberry Banana Bread
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
3/4 cups sour milk (add 1tsp cider or white vinegar to 3/4 cup milk)
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup walnuts, toasted and broken by hand
2 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and flour two bread pans.
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between. Add vanilla and mix. Add sour milk to mashed bananas, then add to butter mixture.
Combine flour, salt, oats and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, mixing just until moistened.
Using a spatula, gently fold in walnuts** and blueberries. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, checking for doneness with a wooden skewer.
Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then gently remove and cool on rack.

**Since Ruby's too young for nuts, I added the walnuts to the remaining batter after I'd poured half the batter into one of the pans.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where we used to live

Take a gander at this post by Crabmommy, a blogger who moved to Jackson Hole from NYC (sound like anyone you know?). She talks about how double-wides sell for half-a-million buckaroos and such.

No, really, they do. Check it out!

Yep, a real estate market even crazier than the one here in Seattle. And in Wyoming!

When I first moved to Jackson we drove by a single-wide "in town" that was listed at $350k+. Thing is, I had a sane person's reaction (wha the fuh!!??) but Ed, who'd been there for years, just kind of shrugged. People there are numb to it.

But you know what? That gross peach trailer is probably worth a half-mil+ now.

Eating In: Pizza Margarita con salami

Sometimes dinner's just eh. Sometimes it's pretty good and you think, hey, we should make this again. And sometimes you hit it right out of the park. Last night's Pizza Margarita con salami was one of the latter; throughout the meal we kept commenting on how good everything tasted.

I'd made a Trader Joe's run earlier in the day to pick up the kinds of things we eat when Ed's parents are here from Michigan: cheese, more cheese, summer sausage, salami, oh, why not get another cheese, smoked oysters, sardines, crackers and yes, cheese. But I also grabbed one of the pre-made pizza doughs (actually, I got two--one herb, one plain). I'd never bought it before but I figured if it could save me the hassle of making my own dough and letting it rise, etc, then I'm game. Plus, we had a beautiful tomato left from our trip to Fall City Farms, and tons of basil in the pots on our deck. It was obviously time for pizza Margarita!

I decided to use the plain crust and save the herbed one for making foccacia later this week. So for the pizza, I started out by making a garlic-basil-rosemary-olive oil pesto-like sauce in my mortar and pestle (you could easily just chop the herbs, crush the garlic and add olive oil, but hell, how often do you get to dust off the ol' mortar-n-pestle you just had to buy?)

I rubbed the dough with the sauce all the way to the edges and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

Then I started borrowing from the SLDWVS (aka the Scheff Labor Day Weekend Visit Stash). I thin-sliced some smoked mozzarella and Romano and scattered these on the pesto. Next I sliced the heirloom tomato and added them to the pie.

And then I noticed the Chianti salami, a crucial part of the SLDWVS. Could I spare a little for the sake of our pizza? What if we're out on the deck enjoying some wine and nibbling and we run out of salami waaayyy before we run out of cheese? Well, shit, you've gotta take a chance now and then. Plus, I didn't need very much--only a 2" piece or so. I went for it. I sliced it up and then tore the pieces and scattered it around the pizza. Ah, perfection. A little fresh basil torn over the top, a little more Romano and into the oven.

Ten or 12 minutes later we had a beauty.

A quick salad of greens, cherry tomatoes from our garden and some cucumbers from the Farmers Market and we were good to go. Thanks Trader Joe's!

Summer in Seattle

A look at what's growing in our yard and garden.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moving to the country gonna eat a lot of peaches

Yesterday afternoon we got the fever. The fever for the country. So instead of going to a Farmers Market we went directly to the farm. Fall City Farms, that is.

Fall City Farm is surrounded by 10-foot-high sunflowers in yellows, golds and reds.

But it's these guys who sealed the deal for us.

We knew we had to get a closer look. But first! You've gotta go through the "gourd walk" to get there.

When's the last time you saw a goat this close up?

We bought some purple potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, red garlic (never'd heard of it before), and a loaf of rustic sourdough bread from Preston Bakery. The baker, Alex Williams, built his wood-fire oven himself and hand-forms each loaf. His breads are sold at the Bellevue Farmers Market, Fall City Farms, and nowhere else. Pick up a loaf. Tastes real good buttered.

Then it was time for some blueberry picking. The nice folks at Fall City Farms directed us to Bybee-Nims Farm, a gorgeous 42 acre farm at the foot of Mt. Si (which is 4,167ft, so I win the bet Eddie!)

We grabbed a bucket and out we went into the fields.

It was tricky keeping the branches from thwacking Ruby in the face, but she loves being outdoors and we all had a great time.

Now we've got 6lbs of beautiful ripe blueberries. Got ideas? Recipes?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eating Seattle: Upcoming Foodie Events

There are some amazing food events coming up in the next couple of weeks, including a free coffee tasting, an almost-free farm dinner, and best-of-the-summer-season supperclub tasting menus.

Unfortunately, if I told you about them I'd have to kill you. Or rather, I'm writing about them for 80108.

Have you signed up yet? It's free, you lazy bum. Get on it and get the scoop on everything good to eat in Seattle. In the meantime, here's what you missed last week.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Eating Seattle: Madrona Eatery & Ale House

Ugh, kid-friendly places. Ed and I don't usually opt for restaurants that bill themselves as such for obvious reasons. The words "kid" and "friendly" don't exactly scream "we really care about our food and it's seriously delicious," am I right?

But we were itching to get out of the house last night and hadn't been to Madrona Ale House; I hadn't heard bad things (or really anything) so we figured we'd give it a try.

We piled into a booth and ordered a round. They've got about 15 mostly local brews on tap including the very hoppy Chopper's Red from Georgetown Brewery. Yum. When we started looking at the menu we realized we were facing a familiar connundrum: On the one hand they've got steak frites and a pork chop special served on sauteed onions and apricots; on the other they've got pizzas, burgers and fish-n-chips. Without knowing whether the kitchen can pull off a decent steak frites, we weren't going to gamble $20+ in a kid-friendly corner pub. Maybe that's where we went wrong.

I ordered the lamb sausage sandwich, which was served with aioli, shredded lettuce and a terrible, un-ripe slice of tomato on a nine-inch loaf of bread. This thing was just all bread, but it was also the dryest sausage I've had in at least five years. How long does one need to cook a sausage to remove all the fat? Ask the cooks at Madrona Ale House. I also had the onion rings (instead of fries) and they were nothing special. Bummer.

Ed had the beer-battered fish-n-chips. The fish was fine but the coating was clunky and heavy. Ed actually peeled it off before eating the fish. $13? Right.

All the while there are probably 10 kids running around in the place having the time of their lives. There's a toy-filled area over by a gas fireplace and the three-to-seven year old set was really loving it. Which just makes me feel worse for their parents, because you just know these kids are going to beg to come back.

I'm sure we "ordered the wrong thing"--don't get me started on how there shouldn't even be a wrong thing to order on a menu. Lucky for us Ruby's too young to do any begging, so we won't be hurrying back.
Madrona Eatery & Ale House in Seattle
[where: 98144]

Friday, August 24, 2007

Missing the Glove

...Gary Payton is a sure Hall-of-Famer and if not for Oscar Robertson is probably the best point guard of all-time.

So sayeth Seth over at Enjoy the Enjoyment. Hard to argue with rightness, dontcha think?

What ever happened to Big Smoove, though?

Jane and Ali's excellent dining adventures part 2

In our last episode Jane and I flew out to NYC to eat fabulously (and freely! hell yeah!) with our fearless leader, National Restaurants Editor for Citysearch (at the time) Brian Miller. You'll just have to read Episode 1 to get the whole scoop...I'm too lazy to recap all of it.

So, day two begins. Being a good friend, Courtney (who I was staying with) appeased my sorry tourist ass and said, "OK, fine, we'll go to Carnegie Deli." Actually, lets all just admit that, at least when the food is decent to good (and the food at CD is good) it's sometimes kind of fun to have an excuse to go to your city's cheesiest places. Sometimes.

So we went. We ordered towering 10" high sandwiches filled with pastrami (and Courtney was a model, so you can see she's really sacrificing here) and ate way more salty meat than you'd need to eat in a month. Then she took me to H&M. Good friend, right?

Obviously, someone in their right mind wouldn't eat like this on the same day she is supposed to do a tasting menu at Jean-Georges. But a girl only gets to eat for free in NYC so often (or until she gets a job doing it, which, at the time would've been way too much of a dream to even think about), so she's gotta maximize.

The only problem with maximizing with salty meat is that your borrowed Prada shoes will not fit later that day. I've honestly never seen anything so unattractive in my life: Puffy tops-of-feet bulging over the shoes like fat-lady cleavage spilling over a too-tight strapless dress. God. Yuck.

But hell, this isn't stopping me. We meet at Jean-Georges and, after last night at Daniel, I'm feeling a little less intimidated by the big-time restaurants. We're seated in JG's sleek, earth-tone dining room--quite a contrast to the lusty, colorful dining room at Daniel.

Again, we're told that the chef himself would be cooking for us. Holy cow, here we go again. The three of us--Brian, Jane, me--were served a different dish per course, and this went on for hours. My favorite moment, though, was when Brian was served thin slices of raw scallops on slices of banana with a little wasabi between. This was exactly what I was looking for in my NY dining experience: something different! Something daring and bizarre. If you can't get that in NYC, where can you, right? Certainly not in Seattle at the time.

But the best part was Brian's reaction. "Oh yuck." And then he shoved the plate aside. Here I was studying how the dish worked--the banana being the softest thing on the plate, whereas the scallop would usually play that role. And the way wasabi hits you with heat and then disappears, versus how chilis fade slowly.

In the midst of my reverent oohing and aahing, Brian's "been there, done that" attitude was funny. And, well, honest. At the time it was a little shocking to me, but now I know it's just what happens when you eat in NYC every night. You get used to the antics and, just maybe, a little bored with them.

The meal was more interesting and required a little more thinking than Daniel did. Daniel was full-figured, lingerie-clad, busty. Jean-Georges was long legged, wearing expensive but understated shoes. JG used concentrated flavors--it was my first run-in with the word "nage," a concentrated essence of a vegetable or fish (often lobter)--and Daniel uses concentrated fats.

Clearly it's not that simple, but the two approaches were distinct and, having the meals just one day apart, the differences in approach were much more noticeable.

Next time: Hob-nobbing with the rich old ladies and suits at Le Cirque.

Jean Georges in New York

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Columbia City has a captain?

Who knew?
I'm kind of bummed that I didn't know this sooner.

Skillet Street Food

After covering restaurants for so many years, it's sad to admit, but I don't get that excited about many of 'em. Sure, I have my favorite chefs, I have a running list of places I can't believe I haven't been to (or been to lately), and I love the old standby favorites, where the chef still cooks in the kitchen that bears his or her name. But another Chinoise? Sorry, but yawn.

But when I read about Skillet Street Food I got excited.
What a great idea. Foodies far-and-wide brag nonstop about which taco truck has the best brain (as if, let's be honest, they'd know). So why not make a high-end mobile diner--in a groovy old Air Stream, no less--for the foodie contingent? I'll admit: It made me curious.

So....I think I'll search them out soon (but not this week; the Daily Candy email sent out yesterday might make for long lines and/or *gasp* running out of food), but if any of you get there first, report back in comments.

**UPDATE** Jess Thompson at the Weekly ate there yesterday. Read about it.

Eating In: Herb-crusted ling cod

We picked up a beautiful filet of ling cod at the Ballard Farmers Market. I love cod, and this was so fresh. Sure, they had plenty of salmon, but by this time of year I've eaten my weight in salmon already. The cod was calling.

Since we had leftover panzanella, half of our dinner was already done, so I made a quick herb-panko coating for the cod and did a pan fry/oven roast combo. The fish would be terrific with a nice garden salad and good bread, or a light tomato-basil-garlic orzo pasta. This was quick and really tasty; something we'll definitely do again.

Herb-crusted Ling Cod
1 filet cod, or other white fish, cut into +/- 6oz portions*
1 c Panko**
1 tsp chopped fresh chives
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp fennel fronds (optional)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.
In a shallow pan mix the herbs, salt, pepper and panko. Rub each piece of fish with olive oil, then pat the crumb mixture onto the fish. Once all the fish is coated, lightly sprinkle with a pinch more salt and pepper.

Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high. Add a little butter and a little olive oil to the pan, then add the fish. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes, until coating is deep golden brown.

Turn fish and immediately tranfer pan into the oven. Cook fish for 5 minutes, or until the fish feels slightly resistant to your touch. Remove from oven and serve.

*In most cases, portioning your fish at home isn't an exact science. What you're looking to do is even-out the cooking time, and you can do that by cutting the thinner pieces larger and the thicker pieces a bit smaller. You can also add the thinner pieces to the pan a little later than the thicker pieces, allowing the thicker pieces to cook, say, a minute longer.
**Panko is a Japanese bread crumb that creates a less heavy coating than traditional breadcrumbs

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Orangette gets married like a foodie

Beautiful writing by Molly about her recent wedding. Read it here.

It reminded me of my own. Seems like a long time ago, what with the little one being seven months already, but our beautiful wedding was only a year and a half ago.

I still remember having an epiphany on a hike: There would be NO BUFFET. I am not a buffet person. I used to argue with one of my managers about how I'd rather be a pauper than own a Bucca di Beppo. So I decided right then: No matter if we have to invite fewer people or spend more money, we are doing a plated dinner.

What we ended up doing was a tasting menu with wine pairings. And dancing to Steam Powered Airplane, our favorite local bluegrass band. It was wonderful.

Sunday at the Ballard Farmers Market

Sunday mornings are wonderful, don't you think? This Sunday was particularly great because we had 5,000 women swimming, biking and running in the park by our house for the Danskin mini-triathlon.
image via Seattlest.
I'd prepped some walnut bread French toast the night before, so I popped that in the oven, made a batch of coffee and then headed down to watch the race with Callie while Ed played with Rubes.

It was drizzly, but you could see from the expressions on the women's faces that the weather wasn't keeping them from feeling proud and satisfied. My favorite part, though, was hearing the men and children cheer for their wives and moms. It reminded me of watching the NYC marathon with Marly, my roommate in NYC for two years. We'd get up early, hop on the subway to Harlem and find a spot to watch. The first year we stood on the sidelines of the race near a gospel choir. I think it was mile 21 or 22, and you could see the thankfulness in the runners' faces when they heard the choir. It was such an inspiration. And this was too.

Back at the house we had our French toast (it didn't work as well as I would've wanted. You need a more absorbent, pillowy bread) and Ruby napped.

Then we headed over to the Ballard Farmers Market.

I'm not sure why we both love this market, but we do. When we lived closer and when Ruby slept anywhere (especially in her carseat) we'd go almost every weekend, even when the only things the market had fresh were winter greens, winter squash, cheese and potatoes.

Things have changed! Oh, the produce is gorgeous. Peaches, nectarines, blackberries, blueberries, Walla Walla's.

And tomatoes! Beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

We grabbed a bunch of fresh veggies and fruit, and then Ed got a hankering for a reuben. Other Coast Cafe makes the best pastrami sandwiches in town, so we gave the reuben a shot.

It was awesome. A little heavy on the mustard, but mostly just a delicious mess.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lame quizzes are sometimes insightful

About me:
You Are Japanese Food

Strange yet delicious.
Contrary to popular belief, you're not always eaten raw.

About Ed (I filled this one in with what I think his answers would be)

You Are Italian Food

Comforting yet overwhelming.
People love you, but sometimes you're just too much.

**Breaking news** Marriage = knowing the other person, right? Wrong! I had Ed fill this out himself and I got one out of five questions right! Thanks, I know, I'm really good at this. Here's what Ed really is:
You Are French Food

Snobby yet ubiquitous.
People act like they understand you more than they actually do.

Take the quiz and tell me your food in comments.