Monthly Archives: November 2015

Killer Tofu*

Before continuing to write about my PDX trip, I want to share with you some of the goodies I’ve been making! As a slight chill has begun to whisper its way into the season, it has moved me to create some warm dishes, full of rich color & flavor. I’ve been particularly fond of using fresh rosemary in both savory and sweet fare this past month. Having a kitchen stocked full of fresh herbs makes daily cooking even more enticing!

Root vegetables have taken center stage for me this Autumn. After enjoying a summer full of beet and peach caprese, it’s now time to slice up the beets -golden & red- and roast them with garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I’m a big enthusiast of “eating your colors,” and there’s no better way than a jewel-toned dish like this one! Toss with fresh sage, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, and you’ve got some beautiful and delicious side dishes.

rootveggies

roasted sweet potatoes, beets, & garlic with fresh parsley, sage, & oregano

An added bonus-they are completely vegan options! Another pantry item I can never have enough of  is olive oil. From sauteeing a mirepoix for soups and sauces to drizzling as a final touch on top of tomato pies, olive oil is one of those perfect ingredients that brings a recipe together. Not only that, it’s one of the healthiest fats you can eat! Nourishing for your hair, heart, skin, cognitive abilities, etc, it’s just about an ideal food.

carrots

carrots & beets roasted in balsamic, olive oil, & rosemary

Root vegetables don’t have to be just roasted to be enjoyed – I’ve been using them for cozy soups, as well. I enjoyed a homemade parsnip soup in Michigan last Christmas, and decided to try my hand at my own version. This one included carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, spiced with fresh ginger, tumeric, thyme, & roasted pepitas. Served with a steaming cup of mint tea (also fresh from the garden!), it’s an excellent meal to serve up on a grey, rainy day.

rootsoupprep

root soup prep!

rootveggiesoup

finis!

What’s a dinner without dessert? I always, always have room for something sweet, no matter how big the dinner! I’ve been really in the mood for brownies lately, and instead of brightening them up with mint or orange, I made some with rosemary and sea salt. The recipe I found for these makes a chewy, wonderfully dense (I am not fond of cake-y brownies) brownie that surprises you with it’s hint of chili powder. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sea salt, the flavors compliment each other amazingly well. I did worry that the rosemary would make them taste…weird…but it was actually a pleasant surprise! The rosemary and chili powder heighten each other’s flavor profiles, while the dark chocolate balances them with it’s rich sweetness. These were dairy-free but they did contain eggs. I haven’t tried making them with an egg substitute yet, so if you do, let me know what works best!

rosemarybrownies

rosemary sea salt brownies

I really, really love the art of food – from the act of creating something delicious to sharing it with others. It doesn’t matter how tired I am after a full day of work, I still love to go home and immerse myself in the soothing process of making something from scratch. The change in the weather brings about a welcoming change in the process, too. It can be a little more complex as we begin to fill our refrigerators full of comfort food rather than the summer’s simple, freshly picked fruits and veggies, but the dishes created quietly warm your bones and your soul. Plus, who isn’t enticed by one’s kitchen becoming an indoor garden, those lush herbs begging to be eaten?

*props to anyone who gets the title reference!

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What’s a geoduck?

The drive from Portland to Olympia can be a dangerous one, if you go it alone. That’s simply because the views are incredible. I don’t know how I managed to not hit someone or drive off the road while trying to take pictures and drive at the same time! (sorry, mom).

I got up early to drive to Nicole’s house (should I say, Lucille‘s house???), somehow managing to bypass any jet-lag out of eagerness to see my friend and her Bostons. After lots of puppy snuggles, we hopped in the car to explore and grab lunch. On the way into the city, I noticed this cute little  retro-themed burger shack, replete with dinosaurs and large wooden cut outs of cartoon characters, and thought to myself, “ooh, I hope we go there.” Nicole knows me pretty well because the next thing I knew, we were turning into the parking lot! Holy Hell. I don’t know how Olympia residents don’t eat at Eastside Big Tom’s on a daily basis. I was in veg heaven with veggie burger, hot dog, and chik*n sandwich options, plus fries, tots, and best of all, GOOP. The Goop was pretty much the main reason we went there-it’s a secret sauce they put on their burgers and you can order it on the side for your fries or tots, which I highly recommend. I was skeptical at first, being a big ketchup girl, but now I’m always trying to recreate the Goop in my kitchen across the country. It really is a THING out there! I devoured a veggie burger, fries with Goop, and a marshmallow milkshake before we headed to the farmer’s market.

Eastside Big Tom's!

Eastside Big Tom’s!

The Olympia Farmers Market, known as “The Jewel of Olympia,” really is a gem. I wish I could have bought all of the fruits and veggies they had-especially the Eastern European sauerkraut from Olykraut. (Please bring it to the South!) I did go home with the ‘Pineapple Express’ headband from Pieces to Peaces for my penpal, Adrienne, and a longing to shop there every week. The Farmers Market is in downtown Olympia, within walking distance to Budd Inlet.

Puget Sound

Budd Inlet

I debated buying all of these seed packets to grow in my garden, displayed so beautifully in vintage crates! It was hard not to scoop up all of the fresh lavender that many of the nursery vendors were selling…

sowing the seeds of love

sowing the seeds of love

Every now and then, I have to have an oyster or two. If you’ve ever read M.F.K. Fisher’s Consider the Oyster, then you’ll understand! How gorgeous are these?!

fresh oysters

fresh oysters

After the market, we made our way into the downtown shopping district. While Olympia may be a “college town,” it’s definitely got a big-city feel. The delicately curated shops have something for everyone, my favorite being Compass Rose. From Dram Apothecary bitters to vegan bags by Matt and Nat, stationary by the ever fabulous Cavallini & Co., and the best candles ever by Produce, I had to hold myself back from emptying my wallet there. I did, however, pick up a few 45s from Rainy Day Records. Sweet Nicole waited patiently while I sat on the floor, digging through boxes as quickly as possible! I got a couple of James Brown singles, and a copy of “Shake a Tail Feather” by The Five Du-Tones, among others. I fell in love with Psychic Sister, a vintage shop that also had tarot readings! I love getting vintage pieces from around the world, and found the most beautiful butterfly dress from the 70s that I was able to wear to a wedding recently. If you aren’t following these shops on Instagram or Facebook, you should be!

After a little shopping, Nicole drove me over to Evergreen State College, where we walked around the woods and took a little tour of the campus. It was there that I learned what a geoduck is! The mascot of Evergreen, the geoduck is a species of very large, edible saltwater clams in the family Hiatellidae. That said, I suggest you google an image of one, if you aren’t already familiar with it. Evergreen’s motto is Omnia Extares, or “Let it all hang out.” Google the geoduck. Trust me.

lush forest at Evergreen

lush forest at Evergreen

We drove around a little more, with Nicole taking us to the highest point of the city, showing me the best panorama of Olympia. By the time we got back to her house, we were greeted by yet another Boston having arrived! With 3 in her house and another up the street, it was nearly too much for me to handle! It was really hard to leave, even with the fact that there were more adventures awaiting me in Portland. Even better-Nicole drove down on Monday so we could do some pet shopping before I left! Putting us in a dog boutique is just asking for trouble…

Solo cross-country trip, day one, was better than I could have ever imagined. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such amazing friends!

The Dream is Alive…

My solo trip to the Pacific Northwest was, for lack of a better word, amazing. Even the flights there were great-I had a brief layover in Austin where I waved to my friends, Adrienne and Elaina, from the airport, and a longer layover in Denver, where I got to have dinner with my “sister,” Lizzie and manhandle her Basset Hound, Buckley. Denver was pretty awesome, if only for the fact that it has a sushi restaurant called “Sushi Totoro.”

I got in pretty late in the evening to Portland, but my lovely airbnb hosts stayed up to greet me and made sure I got settled in nicely. Sarah and Colin have the sweetest mid-century modern home full of air plants, souvenirs from their trips around the world, and two cuddly kitties. I was ready to move in permanently!  Prior to my arrival, I got to chat with them via airbnb and text, and by the time I arrived, I felt like I was visiting with old friends. From photography and ceramics to records and a love for Danish Modern, I couldn’t have found hosts to be more in sync with.

Schoolhouse Electric bedding!

Schoolhouse Electric bedding!

Tiny mid-century perfection

Tiny mid-century perfection

Their house is in a lovely neighborhood, where I enjoyed morning walks taking in all of the lush plant life and fresh air. It’s always educating to see how different assortments of plants thrive in areas of the world other than your own. Portland, known as “The City of Roses,” naturally has a ton of gorgeous rose varietals, but also an abundance of  dahlias, sunflowers, and succulents. It was also nice to see how many vegetable gardens everyone had-people were growing pumpkins on the sidewalks!

succulent dreams!

succulent dreams

The weather. was. incredible. Everyone kept mentioning how unnaturally humid it was, but it felt pretty damn amazing after dealing with 100 degrees and 100% humidity on a daily basis back home! It was also a pleasant change to be able to sleep with the windows open and not nearly die from an allergy attack the following morning! I’ve been in love with the PNW ever since I visited Seattle when I was 15, and this trip just deepened my feelings for it.

IMG_0798

It was hard to leave a house as cozy as this each day, but there was adventuring to be done! I actually began my first day not in Portland, but by driving to Olympia, Washington, to visit one of my best friends, Nicole, and her pups, Lucille of The Pawsh Puppy and Kumba, who just so happen to be Rosie’s BFF and boyfriend, respectively.

I’ll be sharing my favorite places in Olympia next, but also devoting a special post to all the Bostons I got to see while there! I always make sure to include Rosie in each trip, and this one was no exception. From Facetiming to toys and clothes, she got to partake in my experience, as well.

Coming up: Bostons & burgers!