Month: March 2015

cucumber kimchi fried rice with shiitake mushrooms and perpetual spinach

Spring has arrived in Seattle. Every week on one of my days off, I walk the mile or so to Pike Place Market. Usually to pick up some groceries, but often just for the exercise and to wander. And sometimes to visit Coffee & A Specialty Bakery, an entirely gluten-free bakery offering the most incredible pastries. (This week I indulged with a pineapple topped mini brioche and a tender vanilla madeline.) Spring weather in Seattle is scattered. Sunshine gives way quickly to rain, and just as quickly in reverse. From our apartment, we can see the block where blue skies are cut off by the gray, where the wall of rain starts. On Tuesday, I walked under a canopy of sunshine and managed to make it home with just a few sprinkles of rain falling. I try to change up my route on these walks. Sometimes I’ll take 1st Avenue all the way down, or Elliott or Western. Sometimes weaving up and down the hilly side streets to avoid construction or a conglomeration of tourists. …

pan-roasted pastured pork chops with brussels sprouts, butterball potatoes and a bacon-sage brown butter drizzle

The Butterballs were highly recommended. Not turkeys. Potatoes. Yellow, waxy and crisp with a delightful buttery-nutty flavored flesh from Olsen Farms. We saw them one Sunday at Ballard Farmers Market, but passed them up in favor of the classic red-skinned (Craig’s favorite). After one of his colleague’s recommended them, we filled a paper sack full at the following week’s market, after digging through their igloo cooler to find two matching pastured sirloin pork chops. The first pastured pork chop I ever made I overcooked. A lot. It was mid-July in Atlanta and hot. The sticky, humid hot of a bright Southern summer. Craig and I were visiting Grant Park Farmers Market for the first time, weaving through the thick throngs of people, filling up our bags with the bounty of summer. I made a peach pie that weekend with margarita jelly from One Screw Loose, and a thick ketchup from three pounds of the juiciest, heaviest heirloom tomatoes. The woman from Riverview Farms who sold us the chops that weekend told us we should cook …

winter vegetable poached whole chicken

There is something really special, sacred even, about Sundays. Whether you consider it the first or last day of your week, Sunday is a beautiful in-between moment to shake off the days before while preparing for and breathing life into the the ahead. Growing up, Sundays were for Mom’s slow cooked pot roast invigorating the entire house with its warm, hearty and comforting scent. In the fall and winter months, Sunday was also for Dad’s chili, his secret-sauce garlic buttered bread, and football. Sundays were also for homework, tackling loads of laundry, chores and even working. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to slow down on Sundays. Relax, reset, and soak up the time. While slowing down and savoring, I also try to prepare for the week ahead. I started a new almost-weekly tradition of roasting a whole chicken and throwing the bones together with vegetables to make broth or stock that would sustain us through the week with soups, stews, or even for sipping as a gentle breakfast. I have this rule. I …

creamy parsnip grits with lion’s mane mushrooms and andouille sausage

This dish is like Donny and Marie. It features a little bit of where I came from and a little bit from where I am now. (A little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll, if you will.) The stone-ground cornmeal is from Riverview Farms in GA, and came with me across the country. I bought it late last summer when I was craving cornbread. I made a big batch of that, studded with fresh corn kernels, in my cast iron skillet. It was in Georgia, too, that I first discovered lion’s mane mushrooms. These Tribble lookalikes are adorable, as any fluffy living creature could be, soft but sturdy and meaty, with a delicate seafood-like flavor. Since I no longer live near the gulf, and thus have less local access to fresh shrimp, I dusted the mushrooms with Old Bay and used them in place of the seafood to play with this traditional Southern dish. I didn’t grow up eating oatmeal or porridge, so it was in Georgia where I first tasted and then …

to market, to market

Even when you lose an hour of sleep, Sundays are still the best days. There’s something about the sunshine and the air and the breeze on a Sunday that’s different from all the other days. There are a few farmers markets open year-round here in Seattle. So, for the last few weeks, we’ve woken to brilliant sunshine and the brightest blue sky, walked a few blocks to catch the bus, and wandered through the Ballard Farmers Market. After moving across the country, I felt a little lost. I worked at and shopped at several different markets around Atlanta over the last few years, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself in a grocery store. I wandered through Pike Place Market, chatted with a butcher (and checked out her walk-in fridge), and scoped out the stands heaping with fresh (but not always local) produce. Walking into the cluster of tents at Ballard Farmers Market, I felt instantly at home. There was a hotdog stand, artists, jewelers, soap makers, musicians with banjos, acoustic guitars, …

squid ink pizza

squid ink pizza with homemade ricotta, smoked salmon and a lemony brussels sprouts salad

Salty. Like the sea. Craig was standing behind me, watching as I prepared potatoes for dinner. Red skins scrubbed, diced and in a pot covered with cold water. Set on the stove, I sprinkled in a generous pinch of salt. “You use more salt than I do.” I turned to look at him. Salty, I said. You want the water to taste salty like the sea. The squid ink was a gift to him for Valentine’s Day, with a hand-crank pasta machine. And then the jar sat, intimidating in its dark simplicity, in our refrigerator. It was the one thing from our fridge that traveled with us across the country when we moved from Atlanta to Seattle. The ink is the darkest black I’ve ever known. It’s too difficult to describe the darkness in that jar, other than to simply say it was inky. Even that is a misnomer. It was thick, thicker than I was really anticipating. I thought of the ink in a pen but this is viscous, like molasses but less sticky, …