Tag Archives: food

November

November?

What happened to you?

Where did you go?

This month, more so than most, has flown by.

Here are the highlights:

Scott and I went to Chicago and all we did was take this photo at The Bean.

That’s not quite true. We gathered in the windy city to witness the union of our two dear friends, Jenny and Sayan. But I don’t have photos of that. Because, as it turns out, I am really bad at taking the time to take photographs when I am actually having a life (remember Dave and Robin’s wedding?).

It also turns out that I am a romantic sap. I love watching people promise to spend their lives together. To become each other’s family. It’s stunningly lovely. And never fails to bring tears to my eyes. To have the people from all aspects of your life gather, assemble and celebrate love.

Plus, there is the added benefit of their friends being my friends. So in assembling to celebrate Jenny and Sayan, I got to see many of my friends that I had made while in graduate school. Some of whom I hadn’t seen for nearly two years and just thinking about it brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Somewhere in the middle of November, I spent a week in Minneapolis, where I developed my menu for Thanksgiving.

Then I flew to the best corner of the world, the Pacific Northwest, otherwise known as home.

Where I got to play with babies and toddlers (and force my hugs and kisses on them).

And fuss in my parents’ top-notch kitchen.

Eating more than I thought I possibly could. All the while soaking up the scenery.

Lazy days filled with family. Doing nothing and having the days slip through my fingers without a second thought.

As always, it does my heart and soul good.

November, you will be missed, for you brought me my friends and family (and a lot of food!).

A girl can’t ask for much more.

Feeding the soul

I just returned home from a much needed trip out West to see my family and to feed my soul. Oh, and there may have been some blackberry pie eaten for breakfast.

First I flew out to Vancouver, British Columbia to crash Scott’s math conference. Okay, really it was just to visit Vancouver – but I did listen to a couple of math talks. Then we drove down to Olympia for a few days to play at the lake and welcome my new baby nephew, Lucas, to the world.

I can only describe Vancouver as cool. Cool, in a we-are-awesome-but-feel-no-need-to-overtly-state-how-awesome-we-are-because-if-we-did-then-we-wouldn’t-be-awesome-anymore kind of way. Perfectly welcoming and charming. An enchanting combination of European and American culture, with a large dose of Pacific Northwest ruggedness thrown in. Equal parts urban, residential and scenic. The buses apologize when they are out of service and the “walking man” seems to be strutting so jauntily. How could you not be utterly delighted by such a place?

I could continue to gush, but instead I’ll just share some photos.

The food.

The beach.

The totem poles.

The skyline.

And the sunset.

Then we were off to Olympia. While gazing out over the sunset last Thursday evening, I received a phone call from my brother letting me know that Amber was in labor.  Sure enough, when Scott and I got to Olympia there was a new baby nephew to fawn over. Perfectly happy and healthy, Amber and Lucas got to go home Saturday morning before we even got into town.

There was family. (You can see that I couldn’t keep my hands off that baby.)

Fun.

And of course food (with lots of “help” from Kailey).

And perhaps most importantly, there was blackberry pie. Wild blackberry pie, the only kind that is really worthwhile to eat. I think that I have finally convinced Scott of the superiority of wild blackberries (small and intensely flavorful) to the things calling themselves “blackberries” in the store (large, seedy and tasteless).

Mom’s Blackberry Pie

one 9-inch pie

**********
Crust
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
16 tablespoons (1 cup) butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons ice-cold water
 
The filling
3 cups wild blackberries
2/3 cup sugar (more or less, depending on the tartness of the berries)
1/4 cup flour
**********

In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Pulse a couple of times to mix together. Add all of the butter and process for about 30 seconds, it should resemble cornmeal. Transfer to a bowl and add water, mixing with your hands until dough comes together. Divide in half and shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll out one disk of dough 1/8 inch thick and transfer to pie pan.

Combine berries, sugar and flour in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved and the berries start to pop. Pour into pie shell.

Roll out remaining pie dough and cover berries with it. Fold over edges and pinch together both crusts. Cut slits into top crust and bake at 350º for about 45 minutes. It’s a good idea to bake pie on top of a cookie sheet to prevent any spillover mess. Let cool before cutting into.

Serve with vanilla ice cream. Nothing else will suffice. And feel the happiness spread through you.

 

 

Rhubarb-ilicious

It’s decided.

I am having an intense love affair with rhubarb.

Or maybe it’s more like we are BFFs.

Or is it that I have a crush on rhubarb?

Can one have a food crush?

I want Tom Robbins to write a story featuring rhubarb the way he did for beets.

Let me explain. Rhubarb has got style with it’s bright pink slender stalks. It’s full of sass and take-that attitude. It’s a vegetable posing as a fruit (unlike the tomato who is fruit posing as a vegetable). Don’t think that it is just red celery – because it’s not. It can be savory or it can be sweet and there is no hiding its unique flavor. Rhubarb is one-of-a-kind and utterly delectable.

How can you not fall in love with it?

Be prepared for an onslaught of rhubarb recipes.

It’s not complicated

What I love about cooking, and baking especially, is how it transforms ingredients into food. I love the process – the peeling, the chopping, and the sauteing or the mixing, the folding, the whipping and the baking. It’s (usually) a very satisfying science experiment with the end result being something that you can eat and enjoy. There’s a “I made this” feeling that I am addicted to. It’s a yummy accomplishment.

So I hardly ever just eat plain, old food without any kind of manipulation. Fruits get macerated and vegetables are roasted. Most everything gets cooked with bacon.

I had a perfectly ripe avocado sitting in my fruit bowl for the past couple of days, begging to be eaten. But, as I didn’t have a good idea of what to do with it, it continued to sit next to the lemons.

Then, last night, I decided to eat it. Just the avocado. Not as part of a salad or with any fancy sauces. Just the avocado, pure and simple.

And it was awesome.

I’ve realized that often times when I go out to eat, I am drawn to a particular dish because of the ingredients. “Oh, this has avocado in it – well then, decision made.” So why not take time just to appreciate a single, wonderful flavor?

As we head into spring (and please god, let us be heading into spring), this seems to be a great time to re-discover pure and simple flavors of food.

But don’t be surprised if the next post is about baking …