Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cranberry Applesauce

I found a use for all of my apples!  This is actually half apple, half pear, but that starts to verge on being a mouthful.  Especially with the cranberries, and the fact that I used white wine instead of water.  But that's an entirely different story.  This was the first time I had a jar that didn't seal, which tells me that it's time to invest in a proper pot for canning, even if it's just $3 from Goodwill.  Matao also put his brand new dehydrator to use this morning and made a batch of beef jerky.  Which I have been secretly munching on all evening (the same piece... I'm a slow nibbler).  I'm starting to believe that he might be a secret kitchen genius.  This stuff is so good.

Mmm pretty!

I am less than excited that my four day weekend is coming to an end.  I haven't exactly been a bundle of energy today, but it felt really good to take a nap and run pointless errands with the love.  I could definitely use another day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Do You Fall In Love Often?

I now have/am actively using a Tumblr account.  Follow me, and I'll follow you.

New Camera!

Finally!  I have had the same digital camera since my high school graduation... which was nearly 7 years ago.  Because I am a bossy little brat- my mom new exactly what to get me for Christmas this year.  It's perfect.

Matao snuck down to the canal with me today to go on a bit of a top secret adventure, so I messed around a bit with daylight.  Lovely!


Only a few pictures from yesterday.  Me being adorable (haha!) and a bowl full of 5 pounds of picked AK king crab.  This is how I trick people into loving me!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Calendar Winner! And Other Stuff!

The winner of the Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar calendar is Tekla!  "Love it! I would hang it in my kitchen next to the basil and rosemary pots, grown "wild" in my Manhattan apartment. :)"  Tekla (who I still call Tally) is my oldest friend- who I've known for nearly 21 years! Congratulations, lovely!

Gorgeous, as always!

I have been crazy busy lately.  Matao's cousins from Australia are in town visiting, my brother and his girlfriend Liz made a quick stop-through on Sunday/Monday, and we had a pretty decent sized "Non Denominational Holiday Dinner and Gift Exchange" on Sunday night, where I assisted my brother in making the best moose meatloaf ever with tons of garlic, onions, and fresh mint (!!!)  Thanks greatly to our dad for sending my brother with a styro full of game meat!  Moose meat is so clean and flavorful that it lends so well to simple dishes with a few good additions.  There were actually two vegetarians at the party who tried it and loved it (I won't name names!) 

Last night I bottled up all of my homemade vanilla extract.  It smells and tastes wonderful.  I used a bit of it when I made vanilla cupcakes on Sunday- and although the cupcakes were a total flop (don't get me started) they still had great vanilla flavor.  After this I think I'll have a very hard time buying pre-made vanilla extract ever again.

Our CSA boxes the past month have been overflowing with potatoes and apples.  The potatoes get used up quickly, but Matao isn't much of a fruit eater, and we have more than I can even begin to put a dent into.  A lot of the apples are starting to go soft on top of that.  I'm thinking I'll end up making applesauce, but I'm having a hard time getting excited about it.  Does anyone have any other suggestions, or maybe even just a good twist to put on applesauce?  If I do make it I'll be canning most of it, and if it's going to take up precious pantry space it had better be amazing!

Aside from any of that... I am dying for snow.  Seattle just doesn't cut it in that department.  I'm not going home for Christmas this year, either, so I guess I'll just have to enjoy it via other peoples photos that I stole from Flickr.  Hah!


Saturday, December 19, 2009


I'm upping the ante!  If 25+ people enter for the Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar Giveaway I'm going to also send a 4oz bottle of homemade vanilla extract to the winner.  If 30+ people enter- I'll do a second drawing, and someone else will also win a 4oz bottle of homemade vanilla extract!  Get on it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giveaway! The Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar!

After falling so in love with the art and recipes in The Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar, I contacted the creator, Christina of Nettletown and Foraged & Found Edibles to see if she'd be interested in doing a calendar giveaway through my blog.  Whatever I said - it worked!

I first discovered Foraged and Found without realizing it- when I bought fiddleheads from them this past spring.  I came across Christina's blog about a month and a half ago, via Fat of the Land and instantly fell in love.  I bought three copies of her calendar right away.  She and her partner sell their calendars and foraged foods at the Sunday farmers market in my neighborhood, and she also sells via her Etsy store.  I do sound a bit like a creepy secret stalker, considering that we've never actually met!

The calendar features 18 recipes, 12 different foraged foods (native to Washington), and gorgeous illustrations by Emily Counts for each month.  Mine is going up in my kitchen, where I will hopefully be able to avoid sloshing food and dirty dish water all over it! 

If you're interested in winning yourself or someone else a copy of this lovely, lovely calendar- all you need to do is comment on this entry- telling me where you'd hang it!  I will randomly pick a winner next Tuesday, December 22nd around 3PM Seattle (Pacific Standard) time, and announce it here.  You should be able to comment via your Google account- unregistered users please be sure to use your real name.  Also, please be sure to check out The Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar Fan Club on Facebook!

 ♥ R.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh Brother

So, funny story.

Remember that post I wrote less than a week ago about some alternatives to chopping down a live tree, where I also mentioned that I had ordered something, but I wanted to wait until it got here to tell you what?

Well, it showed up yesterday.  In a very, very small box.  Much smaller than expected.  Oops.

My plan was to buy a live, rooted tree, so that I could just plant it in a large pot and then we could continue to use the same tree year after year, until it needed to be put into the ground.  I found a seller on eBay who had an assortment of different types and sizes of rooted trees, for super cheap.  The problem was that she had two sizes listed under "small", and I happened to buy the smaller of the smalls.  Meaning that it's about 5 inches tall.  YES!  I win again.

I kind of love it, for what it is.  I went ahead and potted it and decorated it with my smallest snail ornament.  Matao, however, was not impressed.

Luckily, Urban Weeds just so happens to be located across the street from his work.  They also happen to sell organic trees... I gave in.

It's only 3 feet tall, and we are using a terracotta pot with dirt and rocks as a tree stand... so it's still a little "Charlie Brown"-esque.  But I love it, and Luna has only tried to attack it once.  So far.

People for Puget Sound: Stand for Clean Water

We're at 6:48!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


 Aside from the hot pink tinsel tree that Renee bought for us a few years ago that we covered in snails and giraffes, I haven't had much of a "Christmas" tree in years. 

Matao wants a tree this year.  At first I was hesitant, then excited, and then just conflicted.  I love the idea of having this big wonderful smelling tree in our apartment- but I hate the fact that we have to kill one to do so.  Plus, the cleanup is awful, and I'm pretty sure we'd have a wild cat beast climbing up it and knocking it over.  Probably only onto my things and not Matao's, in typical Luna fashion.

Me, being me- I'll show you what we ended up doing once it gets here (yes, I ordered something).  But aside from that I wanted to suggest a few good alternatives to a real "live" (aka soon to be dead) tree.  Especially if you live in an apartment, or somewhere with limited space.

- This is my absolute favorite thing.  I can't get over how cute it is!  It would be darling with a tiny strand of white lights, and some felt berries.

- Etsy is an absolute mecca of vinyl wall decals these days, but if you can manage to weed your way through some of the cheesy crap, there are a lot of really great finds.  I love the idea of a giant tree taking up half of your wall.  Some of my favorites: here, here, here, here, and here.  Phew.

- I love this, and I think they would also be incredibly easy to make, if you had the right materials.  She has a few in other colors and patterns as well, and you really can't beat the price at $12.

- This seller has an entire shop full of wonderful tree alternatives.  I really love the idea of a wreath, that can be used year after year (also: this, this, this, or this).  Or a teenie tiny pinecone fruit and spice tree that would work perfectly on a shelf or tabletop.  If you aren't hung up on having a tree tree there are a lot of other directions to go in.

Moving on to lights- I don't have a lot of crazy or unique ideas, but I do have one long standing favorite:

 Renee Marie & Renai Marie

Origami balls!  These are SO easy (and fun) to make, and if you use neutral colored paper you can leave them up year round.  I've seen these exact same lights sold on Etsy and a local art gallery for $35+, which is insane considering that you can get a strand of white lights for $2 and origami paper for about the same.  All you do is fold your paper following these instructions, and then place each ball (where the hole is) over a light.  Easy peasy and they're so beautiful once up.  If you live in Seattle, Uwajimaya is probably the best place to pick up origami paper (as well as heaps of udon mmm). 

My next post, which I was intending to focus entirely on gifting books- is quickly evolving into something else (surprise!), as I realized that I have far too many favorite sellers on Etsy to cut my list short.  Too bad!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More on Paper Grocery Bags

Oops.  My b.

When I got home tonight Luna reminded me of the other, better use for paper grocery bags:

Silly me.

And yeah, she hates me... and the flash.

Gifting: Part 1

December has officially begun, which means that people have suddenly all gone crazy with holiday shopping.  I am a bit of a freak, and have been doing my own version for several months now.  The reason being that I plan/coordinate all of our holiday events and corporate gifts in the office, which takes months of work- so my mind is in the holiday gutter long before most anyone else's.  It would be exhausting, if I didn't absolutely love it.

The reason why I love it, though- is because I (now) only give handmade, local, environmentally friendly, and/or sustainable gifts.  Which equates to me spending hours (and hours and hours) browsing Etsy, thrift stores, farmers markets, and local bookstores.  Hi there, Heaven.  Now, this doesn't mean that I buy heaps and heaps of stuff.  More or less, it means that I put a lot of thought, effort, and heart into the gifts that I end up purchasing.  Because, after-all, I am perfect, and that's what perfect people do.


Did you throw up yet?  No, but seriously.

I am so happy this year about the gifts that I am giving people, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite ideas, both things to make yourself, and lovely things to pick up elsewhere.

- Gift In a Jar: Vanilla Syrup from Food In Jars.  While I haven't tried making it yet, I am currently in the process of making a beautiful half gallon of homemade vanilla extract.  While her proportions are quite small and she uses rum- I used a handle of super cheap vodka, and 8 vanilla beans (split) from PCC ($.98 each!)  It's been sitting on the bottom of our bookshelf for a few weeks now, and I'll portion it out into small bottles once Christmas is nearer.  It smells and looks so wonderful, it's ridiculous.  It's also very hard to photograph!

Vanilla syrup, from Food In Jars

- Homegrown Evolution has set up their own little shop at Amazon, with a lot of really wonderful handpicked items.  

- Hand Milled Soap is a super genius way to turn basic soap into something really lovely.  I'm completely intimidated by soap making, so I'm going to give this a try sometime this week.   Lavender, tea tree oil, and peppermint!  Of course.

- Decorated gingerbread cookies are always fun to make, and even better to eat.  Another idea is to mix together only the dry ingredients from a recipe, then package them up nicely with instructions for adding wet ingredients and making cookies.  I do this for my moms partner, and include "Be nice to my mom" as the first step.  Yes, I do think I'm funny.

Good Things Catered does it right.

- There are also THESE

- If you live in/near Seattle, Urban Craft Uprising is this weekend, and has a ton of really great vendors this year (duh).

- DIY Cheese Kits!  !!!!!!!!!!!

- I already posted about air plants, but now I've had mine for a bit, I love them even more.  They're the perfect plant for someone who sucks at keeping things alive (ahem-Becca-ahem), and I've used tiny little candle holders, egg cups, and vases to hold mine, since they don't actually have to be practical planting containers.  So, $11 for three plants, plus about $1 - $3 at Goodwill for containers, and you're golden.  Or, there's always something like this.  You can also find air plants locally (usually) at places like Whole Foods or nurseries... but sometimes knowing is easier than hunting.

- The Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar is so lovely.  I bought 3.  Oops.

Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar from Nettletown

- Mibo Studio only has a few items for sale, but they're all darling, plus they're set up to be downloaded, so there aren't any shipping costs or wasteful packaging.

- And, lastly- is wrapping paper.  For which I don't think I need to link you anywhere.  I made all of mine this year using paper grocery bags and rubber stamps.  Just cut the bottom and handles off the bag, and stamp away on the blank side.  I tied mine up with scraps of yarn that I had leftover from projects (plus a lot more, but shhh).  You can also use butcher paper or tissue paper, twine or string, and any kind of ink and homemade stamps that you can think of.  I've had a lot of fun making mine (Luna has been a HUGE help, might I add), and now Matao is bugging me to help him make his own (by "help" he means "do it for me" but still).

Part 2 coming soon!  Including trees, decorations, and more paper (as in- books)!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

Since Full Circle Farm is now offering delivery of their CSA boxes, and not just pick-up, we signed back up about a week and a half ago.  In perfect timing to plan most of our Thanksgiving cooking around fresh, organic, and local ingredients.  This is the first year that I'm spending with Matao's family, and the first year in quite a few that will be a bit more civilized.  Hah!  Dinner + party vs. dinner party... there's a big difference.  I'm grateful to not have to worry about the turkey or mashed potatoes (I'm not a fan) this year, and instead I get to focus on making exactly what I want to make.  I am cooking with meat this year (as opposed to last year where everything I made was vegan!) but I did a quick walk through of Ballard Farmers Market this afternoon and picked up some locally raised sausage from Skagit River Ranch, which I feel more than okay about serving.  I also picked up the very last jalapenos that we'll see for a while, and a couple of apples for a quick snack this afternoon.  Anyway... here are the dishes that we'll be making, along with Matao's goat cheese stuffed and prosciutto wrapped jalapenos, mulled wine, and the side of wild king salmon that we've been saving.

- Country Bread Stuffing with Smoked Ham, Goat Cheese, and Dried Cherries ... I made this a few years ago, substituting good quality bacon for the ham, and cranberries for the cherries.  I seriously could have just sat in the kitchen by myself and devoured the entire pan.  This stuff is wonderful.  My love muffin Amy had a great hookup at the time for goat cheese, and we added much more than the recipe called for.  I don't think you can ever go wrong with that.

- Cranberry Sauce with Port and Cinnamon ... This is more of just an approximation.  I'm not much of a recipe follower when it comes to cranberry sauce.  I made some last night for a "practice" version of Thanksgiving, with red wine, fresh orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon sticks, and fresh ginger.  Absolutely wonderful.  Honestly, I'll probably just eat cranberry sauce and stuffing on Thursday and be happy as can be.

- Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms ... This is one of those recipes that relies 100% on the quality of ingredients that you use.  This is where locally sourced Italian sausage comes in, as well as (hopefully) homemade soft cheese.  If I don't have the time for cheese making I'll be tracking down something else that's soft, and much nicer than basic cream cheese.  This is another recipe that I've made before, and it really does turn out beautifully if you pay attention to your ingredients.  I can't even go off too much on that though, because the last time we made it I brushed the mushrooms with PBR instead of wine.  Oops. 

- Herbed Goat Cheese Tart  ...  Yes, more goat cheese.  I've been dying for a reason to make this, and if Thanksgiving isn't it, then I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. 

- Sweet Potato Pie with Three Nut Topping ... I'm using ginger cookies for the crust, rather than graham crackers.  I've never actually made or had sweet potato pie before, but I thought I'd mess around with something other than pumpkin or pecan.  Plus our CSA is coming with a ton of them, and I'm not a big fan of candied sweet potatoes/yams. 


As is typical with me- more will come about as I get to cooking.  We'll also be seeing an abundance of squash and potatoes with our CSA and I know I'll be hard pressed to really leave them alone.  We'll see!  What are you planning on making?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Air Plants

How did I have no idea that these existed before?  I was dinking around on Etsy like I do pretty much 37 hours a day and stumbled upon a listing identical to this.  HI!  You are so wonderful!  Plants that can just sit in cute pots that don't need dirt and turn pretty colors and are resilient to pretty much anything???  You are my soul mate!

So, needless to say- I ordered them and should have them by the end of the weekend.  I have a sort of obnoxious collection of little pots and egg cups with nothing in them that are just DYING to have cute little air plants in them.

Ahhh I am a genius.  And for bonus points, she also offers a three month subscription! 

My life is ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Noooooo big deal.  Just chompin' on fresh Southeast Alaskan king crab legs... la la la.  I whine about work a lot... but this is one of the biggest, hugest, most wonderful perks.  That and health insurance.  Hah!  Sorry, I'm done being a jerk now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Cranberry Curd, and Whiskey Buttercream

Whoa.  That's a mouthful.

I made these cupcakes on Sunday night for a co-workers birthday.  It's the best vanilla cupcake/cake recipe that I've found, with a touch of fresh ground black pepper.  I know it sounds weird, but they were absolutely delicious.  I wanted a cupcake that would pair nicely with fresh cranberry curd, and I didn't want to go with just straight-up sweet.  I wanted something with a kick- and these were perfect.  They're also super easy to veganize, since they already call for shortening (I tried them with butter and it just wasn't the same), and the eggs and milk are easy to sub out.  I'd go for a flax meal or Ener-G sub rather than tofu, though.  Unfortunately I have no idea how to veganize curd at the moment, but really, they'd still be lovely with a dallop of jam or fresh cranberry sauce.  Alternately- here is a recipe for vegan lemon curd that you may be able to experiment with using fresh cranberries.  They're acidic enough that it just may work.  The whiskey buttercream came into play because I wanted something simple, but contrasting enough to do something of its own.  They went over wonderfully and I will 100% be making them again.  The recipes I've written out are the way that I made mine, and the original recipes can be found in the links (other than the whiskey buttercream, which is my own).  Onward!


- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon good sea salt
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper (entirely a matter of taste!)
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla 
- 2 large eggs or equivalent egg substitute 

- Set oven to 350 degrees F
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour with sugar, baking powder, salt, and fresh cracked pepper until combined.
- Add in the shortening, milk, vanilla and eggs (or sub) and mix thoroughly.  The batter may be a bit thick, which is just fine.  You can add a splash of milk if it freaks you out.
- Pour into paper-lined regular size muffin tins filling under just three-quarters full. 
- Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the cupcakes test done.  DO NOT overbake.  Seriously.  I did this with some of mine and the texture was blah.
- Immediately remove from pans and allow to cool before filling/frosting.

Cranberry Curd:

- 2 very full cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon water
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs


- Combine the cranberries and water, and cook over low/med heat until all of your cranberries are popped.
- Force cooked cranberries through a food mill, or a fine mesh strainer- and return puree to saucepan.
- Over low heat, add the sugar and butter, allowing them both to melt without boiling.
- Beat eggs in a seperate bowl, and very slowly add to cranberry mixture.  It is VERY important that your cranberries not be too hot, otherwise the eggs will cook on contact and you'll end up with a nasty mess.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for around six minutes.   DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL!!!(!!!!!!!!!!!!)
- Your curd is done once it thickens and holds whisk marks.  It tends to happen rather quickly, so keep an eye on your curd while mixing.
- Set aside and allow to cool.

Whiskey Buttercream:

- 1/2 cup butter or shortening
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon whiskey (the cheap stuff is just fine!)
- 2+ tablespoons milk or non-dairy milk


- Dump everything into a food processor or bowl with a mixer, and mix the hell out of it, until it looks/feels/tastes like frosting.  Add more sugar or liquid as needed.  Fresh vanilla bean is also a nice addition. 


- Once cupcakes are cool, use either a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the middle of the cupcake (don't go all the way down- just about halfway).
- Fill your holes back up with a good sized dallop of cranberry curd, then let them hang out in the freezer or your patio for about an hour.
- Top with a generous helping of buttercream, and if you're feeling extra fancy and special like I was at work the next day- a couple of candied cranberries*.

* Candied cranberries can be made by heating one part water to one and half parts sugar over medium/high heat until just boiling.  Allow to cool, then add about a cup of cranberries.  Put in the fridge for at least 24 hours, allowing the berries to get nice and sugary sweet.  Drain simple syrup from berries, then roll in sugar.  Place on wax paper, and allow to dry for about an hour. 


+ One more thing about these cupcakes-  even if you don't want to go through all of the extra steps of making the curd or an alcoholics dream version of frosting- at least try the cupcakes with fresh pepper.  I promise it will change you.  For the better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Link Love!

This is really photo heavy for some reason.  Who cares!  My favorites right now:

- Ryan over at Go Means Go just posted an article on putting together your first alleycat that covers a lot of great points.  Ryan has organized a lot of really well put together races and is a good resource if it's something you're interested in doing.

- Thanksgiving Tables via Flickr on Re-Nest.  Agh!  I am a nerd.


- This womans photography is fantastic.  Garden of Knowledge is hands down my favorite set.


- Rubber Sidewalks Rescue Trees.  This is so cool, and totally genius.

- I made these last week.  Matao liked them, but I thought they were much too hard.  The flavor was amazing though, so I think I'm going to try re-making them with eggs this time.

- Hahahaha.  Not a link.  But still.  I love Married to the Sea.

- A really wonderful article about how photographers got their toughest shot.

- Daily Drop Cap rules.   This is obviously my favorite.

- This makes me feel so sick every time I look at it, yet it's completely beautiful in a really horrific way.


"These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking."

- And finally, on a much less depressing note, here's Luna, again.  She has been INSANE this week.  This isn't her yawning... it's her trying to eat Matao whole.  Aside from that, she's decided that everything that I eat is hers too.  She helped herself to my lemon/ginger/blueberry muffin that lovely Becca made me, she took a bite out of the peanut butter falling out the bottom of my PBJ the other night, and yesterday she snatched a tortilla chip right out of my hand.  What a dear.


Monday, November 9, 2009

North Douglas Chocolate Cake

This recipe is kidnapped from The Fiddlehead Cookbook which was a staple in most of the kitchens of my childhood.  Unfortunately The Fiddlehead restaurant is no longer around- but this chocolate cake (and their French onion soup) were, to me, the two things that mattered the most.  I had to dig around online to find this recipe, since I don't own the book (AHEM HINT HINT), but now that I have it I think that it needs to be shared.  It doesn't look like anything all too special- but I have always thought of it as the most perfect chocolate cake that there could possibly be.  And knowing that Alaskans have been making it for years should be assurance enough.  Plus, hello- it's named after Douglas Island.  You can't beat that.

North Douglas Chocolate Cake

1 cup water
1/4 pound butter
1/2 cup safflower or corn oil
3 1/2 tablespoons sifted Dutch process dark cocoa
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 pound plus 4 tablespoons butter
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sifted Dutch process dark cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 375 F and arrange racks so they are evenly spaced in oven. Generously coat two 8- or 9-inch cake pans with butter and dust with flour.
Combine water, butter, oil and cocoa in a small pan and bring to a boil. While butter and water are reaching a boil, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
When butter and water are boiling, pour over sifted flour. Stir just until combined. Add egg mixture and gently fold together. Pour into prepared cake pans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven when a probe inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow to rest briefly in pans, and then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
To prepare icing: In a medium bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add confectioners sugar and cocoa and stir gently until they are partially combined. Stir in milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth and spreadable. It may be necessary to add additional sifted confectioners sugar if mixture seems too soft.
Assemble cake as usual. Decorate as you wish. Chill cake briefly to firm icing.


What are your childhood-era foods that still feel just as special now?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Confession:  I am obsessed with our cat.  And she is equally as obsessed with me.  This sort of came as a surprise- as I have never been anything close to a cat person.  Both of my families always had a dog (or dogs) growing up- and thus I have learned the hard way (too many times) that cats do not want to be picked up, wrastled with, or fed Pop Rocks or Lemon Heads (yes we had dogs who not only tolerated- but actually loved both of these things).  Cats are tricky business.  Luna somehow seems to be a weird combination of cat/dog/monsterbeast.  She will let me pick her up without clawing my face/neck/shoulders, she is constantly chasing me (and only me, for some reason) around the apartment and trying to eat both my toes and ankles (she's a big fan of the front claw grab/rabbit kick thing and also likes to swat me in the butt from the arm of the couch or the dining room chairs), and while I haven't tried to feed her candy- she has already developed a very demanding taste for expensive cheeses and (only) vanilla ice cream.  She actually starting crying at me tonight when I was eating rosemary asiago and tried to feed her cheap cheddar cheese.  Poor thing.  This morning the two of us both passed out on our couches for a good chunk of time- but for some reason I was scrunched up on the small loveseat, while she took over the person-sized fleece-blanket covered futon.  That's actually where she is now.  Upside-down and looking rather pleased with herself.  Shocking.

Okay, tired of that yet?  I think my entire Facebook and Twitter feeds have been nothing but "Luna did something!" all week.  Sorry sorry.

This post was actually supposed to be a weekend recap/food post- but Matao just got off work early and is on his way home to help me eat pumpkin ice cream from Snoqualmie Gourmet with herbed and salted squash seeds that I roasted tonight.  Oh yeah and I think there's a movie in there somewhere, but we all know where my mind is. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009


New love!  We went to the shelter today, just to look- and came home with this little darling.  She was the third cat we looked at, and she actually hadn't caught our eye right away- but the first two cats were both extremes of what we were looking for- and she is that perfect middle.  Matao pointed her out and as soon as she came into the room with us we knew we had to take her home.  She's been wonderful so far.  She's only tried to eat the fish a couple of times and only tried to rip my arm off when I made her come out of the closet. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkins and Tomato Sauce

I finally suckered people into picking pumpkins with me!  Actually that's somewhat of a lie, as next weekend will involve the same thing.  Whatevs.  The place we went to today was not quite what I was expecting- as in everything was pre-picked, you just walked through and picked out what you wanted.  When I went previously you actually had to remove yours from the vine.  And you'd think the ten billion little kids would be terrible, but they were actually pretty darling, and it was their parents that were awful.  Figures.

I ruined this picture, but just pretend like I didn't.








Those two alpacas were darling.  I came home telling Matao I wanted a pygmy goat again, but I think I'd give up goats for an alpaca.  Apartment alpaca... that sounds about right, doesn't it?

Back in Ballard we did a quick last minute run to the farmers market, where I picked up two pounds of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.  We also had such great timing that someone shutting down their stand offered us all of his leftover cheese samples, so we had a great impromptu snack of cheese niblets and fuji apple chunks.  Nom.


I picked up the tomatoes with this recipe in mind, and currently I've got it all in the oven roasting.  I am seriously about to die from the smell.  It's absolutely ridiculous.  Hopefully I can talk Matao into eating pasta later this week.  I may have to resort to bribing him with sausage.  And I've said it a million times before, but I really am sorry about the weird lighting in my kitchen.  I need to figure out a way to make it work, but for right now this is what I've got.  I'm on the hunt for something small and portable that I don't need a light box for, so we will see.  

 Check out how huge those garlic cloves are.  I threw the full bulb in for comparison- and it's actually quite large itself.  I've been buying local garlic every chance I get, and the quality and flavor can't even be compared to what you normally find at the grocery store.  This stuff is gold.

All ready to go in.  Once this comes out I'll remove the seeds and skins from the tomatoes, and then cook it down for another hour with white wine.  I would marry myself right now if I could.

Maybe I'll still try.

♥ R.
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