Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend in Photos

 My first ever loaf of bread: Sourdough with rosemary and smoked sea salt.

Sourdough cinnamon rolls.


Weeding and planting starts at The Blue House.

Tiny mushrooms in woodpecker holes.

The view from the top! Hiking Rattlesnake Ridge.

More Rattlesnake Ridge.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reading List:

Top to bottom:

1. Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts, Mark Kurlansky. I just started reading this. It gets mixed reviews, but I'm enjoying it so far. Many of the characters and themes are carried throughout the book and the short story format works really well for bus reading.

2. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver. My absolute, all-time favorite book. I re-read it about three times yearly. It's a quick and easy read, but I just love it more every time I finish it.

3. Pacific Feast: A Cook's Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine, Jennifer Hahn. This beautiful book was a gift from my love Becca. The guides and recipes cover everything from weedy greens to shellfish to edible trees. I'm quite smitten with it.

4. Take a Walk: 100 Walks Through Natural Places in the Puget Sound Region, Sue Muller Hacking. While this book covers a lot of smaller, more urban parks and trails- it also offers up some really great options for easy day hikes and beaches. I'm excited to use it for new weekend running routes.

5. The Last Fish Tale, Mark Kurlansky.  "...provides a delightful, intimate history and contemporary portrait of the quintessential northeastern coastal fishing town: Gloucester, Mass., on Cape Anne. Illustrated with his own beautifully executed drawings, Kurlansky's book vividly depicts the contemporary tension between the traditional fishing trade and modern commerce..."

6. All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms, David Arora.  This guide is eccentric, if not extremely informative. David Arora has a reputation for being a little bit nutty- and while the cover of this book is on the odd side, the full color photographs and serious details within make it well worth checking out.

7. The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild, Lynn Schooler. "Schooler, who has worked for many years as a guide in the unpredictable waters of the Alaska Panhandle, has distilled a life of unusual intensity into his first book. The story centers on the renowned nature photographer Michio Hoshino, a client who became a friend, and the two men's ongoing search for the elusive glacier bear, a blue variant of the North American black bear."

 8. Bradt Travel Guide: Iceland, Andrew Evans. Spring of 2012! This guide is the best I've found so far- and does a really great job of covering a lot of what I hope to experience.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Link Love: Sourdough!

Sourdough is a glorious, lively beast. I bought myself a 100 plus year old Alaskan sourdough starter a little while back, then spent a few weeks moving the packet around my counter- hoping its presence would either inspire or terrify me into re-hydrating it.

Once I started it- I knew I was doomed. I have since become obsessed with everything sourdough. I made pancakes last weekend, and ate 9. I usually can stomach 2-3 before I find them boring and heavy. Sourdough pancakes are like little tart and fluffy pancakes of love. Paired with real maple syrup and fatty salty smokey pepper bacon- there aren't too many things in life that can compare.

If you don't have a sourdough starter and would like to grow your own- this is a great resource- he also includes instructions on feeding and maintaining your sourdough as well as a basic sourdough bread recipe to get you started.

- Basic Whole Wheat Sourdough Tortillas from GNOWFGLINS seem delicate and simple- they'd make a good homemade substitute for crêpes.

- King Arthur Flour seems to have the go-to recipe for Sourdough English Muffins. This recipe makes a lot- but the leftovers can be frozen.

- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls have been on my radar from day one. I'm obsessed with them- I just need to find time to make them! Dog Island Farm has a simple and well written recipe.

- Sourdough Pancakes from Joy the Baker result in a bit of a thin batter- but reading through the comments should instill nothing but confidence. I'm going to try these this weekend, for a little change of pace (I said little).

- Finally- Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies are simple and don't require much work ahead of time. I really love this idea.

Have you ever worked with sourdough? What are your favorite recipes?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nettle Foraging & My Favorite Green Smoothie


Last weekend I spent a few good hours tromping around Discovery Park with some folks from The Seattle Wild Foods Meetup Group and my bff Amy. The two of us eventually split off on our own and found a few really good spots for nettle picking. Honestly- this time of year it's nearly impossible not to find good spots all over the place. They're coming up like the wild little weeds that they are.

Blanched or dried- the vicious little things quickly turn into a culinary dream. Their flavor is earthy, fresh, and a little zippy. They make an easy replacement for cooked spinach in recipes, brew into an earthy tea, and blend into a gorgeous pesto or ravioli filling. I blanch mine for 2-3 minutes, run them through the food processor, and then freeze into ice cube tray portions. From there I can thaw and add them to just about anything. Most recently I've been adding them to my smoothies.

Cranberry & Nettle Smoothie

This has been my lifeblood lately. In an effort to cut down on gluten- I started making myself smoothies for breakfast most mornings. It took me a few tries to get a combination down that really did it for me- but I am over the moon about this one. The great part about smoothies is that everything is more or less interchangeable. If you don't have access to nettles- no problem. There are an infinite  number of things that you can use instead. I've included some good alternatives in notes marked with red astrix below.

This smoothie is pleasantly tart, and lends its creaminess to raw cashews soaked in water. Ideally it's best to soak cashews overnight- but an hour will suffice, and in a pinch I've just thrown the cashews and water in without soaking at all. Still great, just not as smooth. If you're freaked out by the idea of adding greens to a smoothie- try it first with a small amount of spinach. You'll be pleasantly surprised- you truly can't taste it at all. Feel free to adjust the amount of honey that you use based on your tolerance for tartness.

Cranberry & Nettle Smoothie:
- 1/3 cup raw cashews + 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 handful nettles*, blanched
- 3/4 cup frozen cranberries**
- 1/2 cup kefir***
- 1-3 tsp honey or agave nectar
- 1 tsp flax meal
- 2 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender (they layer best in the order listed), and blend using quick pulses until smooth. That's it! Seriously. Smoothies aren't hard.

* Spinach, kale, chard, arugula, etc. (no need to blanch these greens before using)
** Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.
*** Yogurt, fruit juice, non-dairy milk, etc.

More great information about nettles can be found here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shiny & New

Hi Loves-

I'm thrilled to let all ya'll know that I'm the new intern at Swallowing Seattle- esentially the Food & Drink portion of Questionland!  This is really exciting for me, because I both adore Questionland and food. It really doesn't get much better.

I'll be blogging over there from time to time, running my mouth and helping out with themes and contests on Questionland, as well as diving into a lot of new and exciting things happening with food in Seattle. There may be a bit of cross-posting happening here, and I'd be thrilled if any of my readers joined Questionland (you don't have to live in Seattle- many of the questions are more about the "what" rather than the "where").

This months Food & Drink theme is "DIY" and right we're talking about home canning and preserving- with cheese making, homebrewing, and coffee roasting coming up in the next few weeks. We have a really knowledgeable guest panel, including Michael from Herbivoracious among many others. We also have a contest going on right now - The Ultimate Sandwich Showdown! The winner gets a one month subscription to Rouxbe and the joy of eating said delicious sandwich.

Most importantly- I want to let you know that I'm not abandoning you! If anything I'll have more exciting things to share. I know that posting has been a bit spotty lately- January and February are notorious for kicking my ass, but I'm getting excited about longer days and busy weekends coming up. I'm hoping to get out nettle picking this weekend, and I start my first mushroom identification class next month. As always- I'd rather post less often with higher quality, rather than the other way around.

Love love!

- R
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