Tag Archives: lifestyle

Crispy Chocolate-Granola Haystacks

Road tripping ain’t what it used to be, friends.

Gone are our lazy days of puttering down the coast, of long lunches with spectacular views, of starting and stopping and pitching camp where and when we like.

We’re all business now.  It’s I-5 all the way from Seattle to Northern California, aggressive packing of PB&J fixings so we don’t need long lunches, and hardly noticing the view because of the song and dance I’m doing in the back seat to entertain the girls.

That’s right, we packed the whole family into the minivan (which I like to call the “Man Van” now, both to distance myself from it and to convey to J how sexy it is for him to take the kids to swimming lessons).  And we drove all afternoon and night, and much of the next day, and lived to tell the tale.

Here are some of the things that we did in the car to entertain three children aged 1, 3, and 5: made a list of things to do, read books, sang songs, colored, napped, watched a video, ate snacks, played peek-a-boo, and let the baby pull out an entire package of floss.

Here is something we did not do in the car: eat these chocolately granola treats.  We meant to, we really did.  Hannah said they were road food and I’m inclined to agree, but once I made them we had to taste one and then, wow, another, and they were so crispy and chocolately and then it was the next day and J was asking me to please take a photo of the things already so he could keep eating them and just like that…gone, as fast as the miles roll by when you’re having a good time out there on the road.

Continue reading Crispy Chocolate-Granola Haystacks (click for recipe)

Grilled Eggplant with Cumin-Basil Yogurt Sauce

Seattle being Seattle (read: located above the 47th parallel), we are expecting almost 16 hours of sunlight on the summer solstice this week.  These long hours of light don’t always herald summer’s arrival, though.  We usually say that summer starts after the Fourth of July in Seattle.  We hope.

You know what else doesn’t start until July?  My CSAs.  Yes, that’s right, plural, CSAs.  Two big boxes of gorgeous produce–one mostly fruit and the other mostly veggies–for twenty weeks.  I can’t wait.

For those of you in the Seattle area who haven’t thrown your lot in with a CSA yet, there are lots of great options in our area, but I truly love the two that we are getting this year.  The first is from Tonnemaker’s organic farm and orchards, which provides a weekly box of unbelievably fragrant and impossibly delicious summer fruit: cherries, apricots, peaches, melons, pears, and apples were some of the highlights last year.  They grow many varieties that I had never heard of, let alone tasted, and a few months of their fruit was enough to make me truly mournful about having to get through the winter without it.  Tonnemaker’s is located in Eastern Washington, so they also provide some of the hot-weather produce that we’re starved for on this side of the Cascades: Tomatoes!  Eggplants!  Peppers!

The other CSA, our old standby now, is Nash’s Organic Produce.  They’re located out on the Olympic Peninsula, but they deliver to a few Seattle farmers markets.  Nash’s hooked us years ago with the Sweetest Carrots I Know, then reeled us in with greens galore and broccoli that tastes like a different vegetable from what you buy in a store.  Nash Huber and his team are also known for their activism and innovation in environmental conservation and protecting farmland, for which Nash received the 2008 Steward of the Land award from the American Farmland Trust, so that’s nice too.

Of course it’s not too late to sign up for either CSA!  Just click those links above (or–you’re so lazy!–click here for Tonnemaker’s and click here for Nash’s).  And once those boxes start rolling in, we’re going to be in veggie heaven around here.

In anticipation of summer vegetables, I grilled a couple eggplants based on this recipe from Food and Wine that my mother-in-law recommended.  I could have eaten the marinade with a spoon, but it was quite subtle in the finished dish, so if you want to take the easy way out you could just sprinkle the eggplant with olive oil and salt.  Most of what you’ll taste here is the smoky eggplant and cooling yogurt sauce with a background of cumin and big, herbaceous basil flavor as you crunch into the torn leaves.  In other words, it tastes like summer.

Continue reading Grilled Eggplant with Cumin-Basil Yogurt Sauce (click for recipe)

Smoked Salmon Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Spicy Peppers

There are currently only three chickens in our backyard flock: Ducky, Feather, and Feather.  Yes, two Feathers, both black.  I’ll gloss over the details of what happened to the original black Feather, and just tell you that when we got chicks the following spring, my oldest exclaimed in delight: “This time we have two Feathers!”  And so we do.

The Girls (by which, at the moment, I mean the three chickens, not the three little girls who live inside with us; it does get confusing sometimes) usually keep us amply supplied with eggs.  Today we had run out, though, so I was pleased that an afternoon visit to the coop yielded the two eggs I needed to make this recipe.  Taking fresh-laid eggs straight to the table never gets old for me.

This recipe is inspired by the Carbonara with Mama Lil’s Peppers on Michael Natkin’s delightfully-named vegetarian blog Herbivoracious (and check out his new Herbivoracious cookbook as well).  I love Mama Lil’s Peppers and think they’re an inspired addition to pastas, pizzas, antipasto plates, and much more.  (I even gave J a jar of the spicy ones as part of his Fathers Day present.  But use the mild ones for this recipe!)  A vegetarian carbonara is untraditional, of course–usually it gets a hit of smoky salt from bacon–and I departed from Michael’s departure from tradition by adding hot-smoked salmon instead. Continue reading Smoked Salmon Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Spicy Peppers (click for recipe)

Quinoa Salad with Radishes, Peas, Arugula, and Cilantro-Sweet Corn Dressing

Today is one of those nice days where a lot of people I love are together under one roof.  My in-laws are visiting, and my brother and his wife are passing through town with our favorite nephew (also, yes, only nephew).  I got to putter around in the garden for a while, sneaking up on weeds and picking ingredients for this salad while my mother-in-law, who is an amazing cook, made the rest of the meal.

I know I once said I couldn’t tolerate a one-color meal, but it turns out that maybe I can if the color is springtime green.  I wish that I had taken a picture of it all together, but you will just have to imagine how lovely the table looked with this salad alongside a bright green pea-and-basil soup and followed by an equally brilliant avocado mousse.  So green!

The top left picture below is the creamy cilantro and sweet corn dressing that I used for the salad.  It’s just corn, cilantro, lime, and salt, but it has such a creamy texture and bright, sweet flavor that I’m already thinking about how else I’m going to use it this summer.  Suggestions, as always, are warmly welcomed–you guys have such good ideas, thank you for sharing them!

Continue reading Quinoa Salad with Radishes, Peas, Arugula, and Cilantro-Sweet Corn Dressing (click for recipe)

Easy Cheddar and Onion Egg Bake for a Crowd

Now that I have confessed that I have a minivan, I might as well tell you about another way in which I’ve become an old fogey without even noticing: these days, I like having parties in the morning.  The kids are in good moods, the house hasn’t been wrecked yet by the the daily tornado of  family life, and you can drink mimosas.  But most of all, brunch is such an easy meal to prepare for a crowd.  All you need are big bowl of fruit, a cake (or two, in the case of J’s recent birthday) these eggs, and lots and lots of coffee.

This dish, or something like it, is one of the easiest ways I know to cook up a dozen or more eggs at once.  You can vary the filling by adding any vegetables, cheese, or meat you’d like.  I kept this one simple because I love the flavor combination of sharp cheddar and cooked-until-sweet onions…and also, I will admit, because monochromatic foods are usually a hit with the kids and we were expecting many, many kids. Continue reading Cheddar and Onion Egg Bake for a Crowd (click for recipe)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream, No Ice Cream Maker Required

The truth about how J and I met is kind of boring, so we usually make something up when people ask us.  For a long time we used to say that we’d met in an internet chat room, back when that sounded scandalous, but now everyone meets online and we have to be more creative.  We met underwater off the Great Barrier Reef?  We were seated side by side for jury duty in small claims court?  We both worked at Baskin Robbins in high school?

That last one is true, actually, although the establishments in question were thousands of miles apart.  But it proves an important point: we have a long history with ice cream around here.

So I am well-qualified to tell you that this one is outstanding.  I already sang its praises here, but I feel wrong depriving you of this recipe for Seattle’s iconic ice cream flavor from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Especially since, get this, you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Some magic having to do with the salt and the cream keeps the texture sublime, even if you make it with a pan and fork instead (directions below).  If you do have an ice cream maker, you can save yourself a few minutes of stirring. Either way, this recipe will make your summer better.  And probably the entire rest of your life. Continue reading Salted Caramel Ice Cream (click for recipe)

Sorta-Caesar Salad

Well, the nice thing about this endless Seattle gloom is that the lettuce isn’t bolting.

When I first moved to Seattle, J and I lived in a tiny house, and one of the first things we did was put in a tiny garden.  We built four raised beds in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street.  Everyone does that now, I know, but this was more than a decade ago and I liked to think of us as pioneering urban farmers back then.  (We got chickens too, of course.)

There was just one problem.  I’m from California.  And when I moved to Seattle, I was cold.  I consulted with my local garden store about what kind of vegetables I could grow in this inhospitable climate and planted things like lettuce, arugula, and broccoli.  And then I bundled them up as warm as I could.  I put hoops over the beds and sheathed them in clear plastic, trapping the heat to create toasty little greenhouses for my tender plants.  They thought it was high summer and went happily straight to seed, of course.  Learning that some plants prefer cooler temperatures was the beginning of my education about the benefits that a cool climate has to offer.  (Others include not needing much of a summer wardrobe, only needing an air conditioner a few days each year, and the blueberries.  Oh, the blueberries!)

In any case, delightful lettuces grow in this part of the world nearly year-round.  They are floppy or pert, frilly or reserved, pastel green, deep maroon, or freckled.  They are the stars of the show at springtime farmers markets, and I find them irresistible.  Here’s a nice thing to do with any sturdy, crunchy lettuce.  (Romaine is the classic, of course, as we’re riffing on the Caesar salad here, but it gets much more exciting than that.) Continue reading Sorta-Ceasar Salad (click for recipe)