Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On this rainiest day of August, I'm happy to report we had at least one sunny day last weekend: perfect weather, friends, and lots of excellent food, including fresh crab caught that morning by our amazing hosts.

First, we walked the short distance to town, in search of shaved ice -- think snowcones, but instead of Blue or Pink, you get to choose from flavors like Tiramisu, Wedding Cake, and Wango Tango (pina colada + margarita).

Between pre-happy hour welcome snacks and Full Happy Hour, I watched the Birch Bay Bocce Ball Championships in the back yard. To celebrate his momentous win, Brian fell off a hammock.

Aside from the lawn sports, the day was basically non-stop food. The highlight: a quickly-devoured dish of crab dip, of course featuring crab caught that morning.

Unfortunately, I was far too consumed with eating to take photos of the vast Happy Hour and dinner spreads. But trust me, everything was fabulous.

Margaritas, sunny beachy walks, too much good food, and, finally, a campfire. It was short, but it was a perfect one-day vacation from suddenly-grey Seattle.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette (a borrowed recipe)

Melissa sent a blueberry muffin recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and browsing along I knew I had to make this Zucchini and Ricotta Galette. It seemed perfectly simple but not at all boring, comfort food (buttery pastry + 3 kinds of cheese!) but still summery.

I was a little worried this would be too zucchini-y, so I used one medium zucchini for a fairly thin layer. I baked it 35 minutes, which left the zucchini perfect done -- still fresh tasting.

My crust was not as glorious as the original seemed to be, but I also didn't chill it quite long enough and my butter bits were perhaps too big. Note: take care with pastry, the little details make a difference!

You can visit the beautiful Smitten Kitchen for the recipe and additional thoughts. Now me and the men (er, man and dog) are off to Blaine for a festival of crab! Plus appropriate cocktails, horseshoes, and lounging around in the sun. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

While I'm waiting for the tomatoes to ripen, I've been using another item I found in the garden: Rosemary. It's my favorite herb for roast chicken.

Some fun tidbits about rosemary:

  • Hungary Water, an infusion of rosemary into wine or alcohol, was created for the Queen of Hungary, in a attempt to revitalize limbs. We're not talking rosemary-scented riesling, however -- this water was more of a rosemary perfume, used topically rather than accompanying dinner.
  • Rosemary has a reputation for improving memory, but even more interesting is it's use in inspiring love: tap your beloved's shoulder with a blooming rosemary spring, and s/he will fall in love with you. Effective? I'm not sure, but it certainly seems less risky than shooting them with cupid's arrow.
  • One more note from Wikipedia: "Somehow, the use of rosemary in the garden to repel witches turned into signification that the woman ruled the household in homes where rosemary grew abundantly." Oh really? Rosemary in abundance means I rule the house? Excuse me while I go nurture a few more bushes ...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Best Cookies (p.s. they're vegan)

This post needs no narration -- just photos, recipe, and a strong recommendation that you bake these cookies pronto. And a thanks to the co-worker who shared the cookies, then sent the recipe!

These really are the best cookies I've made in a long time, not just the best vegan cookies. If you're not drawn to vegan stuff, just ignore that part and grab a mixing bowl.

Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Use vegan versions of these ingredients if you like. If you're not vegan, just use normal stuff. I'm not really sure what vegan flour, vanilla, or sugar are, anyway.
  • 2 C unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 1/5 to 2 C Chocolate chips
  • 1 C sugar (my co-worker used 1/2 sugar, 1/2 agave)
  • 1/2 C canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 C water (I needed more -- try 1/4 C first, then another T or 2 as needed)
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Pre-heat your oven to 350. This recipe requires just a whisk and spoon for mixing, two bowls, and the baking sheet -- no heavy mixer necessary.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients except sugar (I accidentally included the sugar in this step, and everything turned out fine). Add chips. Make a well in the center and set aside. In another bowl, mix sugar and oil well, then add vanilla and water. Mix well. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well, but be careful not to overwork it (this is why I would not use your fancy Kitchenaid mixer for this recipe).

Drop by bablespoons onto cookie sheets. I use Exopat baking sheets, as seen in the photos below -- nothing sticks, ever! They're worth the investment.

Bake for 4 minutes, rotate sheets and bake another 4-6 minutes. As with most chocolate chip cookies, you'll want to remove them when they seem just barely underdone, since they'll harden a bit as they cool. Allow them to cool for a couple moments before transferring to a wire rack; this is another reason silicone baking sheets are helpful -- you can remove the full Exopat sheet from the metal baking pan, letting the first batch of cookies cool faster and starting your next batch on a second Exopat.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Pizza!

If you're a fan of paper-thin Neapolitan pizza (and why would you not be), don't forget to stop by Tutta Bella this week to get your free pizza! That's right. You have til' this Sunday to stop by for a free pie. If you're willing to brave the wait, and the screaming children (at the Wallingford location only) I highly recommend you take them up on this generous offer.