Thursday, December 29, 2011

A little break from my craziness

I just watched You, Me and Everyone Else, an odd movie that makes you uncomfortable, smile and question things. Mark would consider it, one of my arts-y flicks. Here is my favorite moment in the whole movie that you might like. Minute 1:48 is where it gets super real...that delicious uncomfortable squirmy love feeling and it's done so well. One of my favorite quotes of the movie- not mentioned in this clip is

"I want to be swept off my feet you know, I want my children to have magical powers, I am prepared for amazing things to happen."

I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Be the Jellyfish

 I was waiting for the Orcas Island Ferry in early August and witnessed this stunning jellyfish, just off the shore. I took several photos of it just riding the currents and was instantly captivated at its ghostlike form. Mark reminded me that jellyfish are an example of one of the very first nervous systems, also known as a  Medusa. Jellyfish don't have a brain, they are simply a large jelly mass of nerves, going with the flow.

I spent a little bit of time on Orcas Island this summer preparing and then actually cooking for a gorgeous country-style wedding. An American marrying an New Zealander all the way over on Orcas. It was a magical weekend and the food wasn't too bad either. 

I snapped this picture for my darling Prunella


A cool "urban farmer" at a Slow Food meet-up introduced me to a new flavor I had never experienced before: Ground Cherries. They are these cute paper-wrapped fruit, looking like baby tomatillos, but tasting of perfume.

I snapped a quick picture of the "cow," a manual wine bottling contraption, while bottling the Elsom Cellars Lewis Vineyard Cabernet Rose. It's a very dry, Spanish style rose. 
Getting the Elsom bins ready for harvest. (Currently in full swing of harvest- more pics to come)

A peak into blending trials. Basically take a sample of all 70 Elsom Barrels and attempt to see which barrels should blend with which. Stir and taste. Repeat. There was one barrel of malbec that tasted just like curry.
I bought this wine because I thought it read "I'm Fine."A kind of, yes I'll buy this bottle and drink it like Alice in Wonderland. This bottle will make my troubles go away and make everything fine.   It actually reads, In Fine, which means "In the End," in Latin.   I think that's pretty funny. With this power of suggestion, I should start labeling everything; "Satisfying soup bowl," "Female power pea coat," "Deepest sleep comforter." Regardless, I think I'm on to something.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Nice People with Common Sense do not make Interesting Characters"

That quote is by  Isabel Allende, which ends ..."They only make good former spouses." Isabel is a Chilean-American writer whose work is described as mythical- realism. Sometimes you get sent a TED talk or stumble upon one by accident, and I tell you what, they are small gifts. Most of them I'd pay a ton of money to see in person, but you get to see them all free on I was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's TED speech on creativity and I just got sucked in.

Then there is the TED talk by Helen Fisher... who talks about romantic love and sex. Fascinating research regarding why we fall in love with one person rather than another. Her answer, "Timing, proximity, mystery. Mystery elevates dopamine and the brain pushes you over the threshold to fall in love with someone who fits in your 'love map'- a conscious list of traits that you hold onto when you grow up, and you gravitate towards people with complimentary brain systems."

I completely believe in manifesting reality. I wish I had access to some shortcuts however. Sometimes I wonder how certain things surface and become apart of my life. Everything is a learning experience and I often wonder "why the hell is this happening," until after it's over and I am a changed person with new vision, or at least, sharper lenses. Most of us have very round edges or somewhat fuzzy vision until we have a few experiences to make things clear.You know what they say, "enjoy the journey.." but what if your journey is a rusting, rattling bus with no brakes or seat belts and you want to get off? I suppose that's when you jump up into the driver seat and take the wheel.

Lot's coming up! Bottling at Elsom Cellars is around the corner, then harvest! Other dinners, Slow Food Seattle and freelance projects in the works. AND little Prunella turns one in September!

Mark and I as Snow Leopards...of course

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Heatless in Seattle- Random Thoughts in a Chilly Summer

There were some days that tried to feel like summer...sunset this past July at Gasworks Park on lake Union in Seattle

I read some reports that air conditioner sales were at an all time low in the northwest, while Oklahoma's air conditioning repairs were at an all time high. I don't need triple digit temperatures for months at a time, but when you live in Seattle, there is only three months when it's warm and sometimes sunny. Not this year though. I never put away my winter sweaters, and I often turned the heater on in my car. I'm holding out for September and October. 

I was telling my mom that if there were ever a year for it to be acceptable to be cold, this year would be the one. She's going through chemo and radiation for a cancer that will not quit, and she's been indoors and immobile most of the summer. No one is more ready for a change than her.  And then there is Prune...
Prunella dreaming of hot weather
Prunella ate most of the blueberries that ripened on our bushes this year

Sometimes when you cannot get sunshine, you need to find other means, like eating it! I've consumed my body weight in cherries this year, like all years I guess.
Last of the season's cherry harvest, bought from Pike Place this morning...not sure what to do with them. I better think of something fast before I eat them all one by one.

I'm trying to find other things to be happy about when times are tough and the weather is dull, like Spotify   I'm enjoying this awesome new music website and still learning how to navigate its waters. I'm trying very hard to enjoy the moment and stress less. Nasturtiums are blooming, I just paid my car off, and i splurged on going more blonde= more sunshine substitutes! Lastly, I'm loving the Head and the Heart and want to leave you with this magical video:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On cooking and writing - at least at this moment on Tuesday, July 12 at 8:37 p.m.

I recently came across a wonderful piece that I fell madly in love with and wanted to share it with you. It's called The Difference Between A Writer And Someone Who Writes « Thought Catalog.

Thought Catalog is an interesting blog with well written random ideas.---> at least that is my take on it.
There are some lines in the piece that I want to highlight in bright yellow, hang on bookstore walls and make my Facebook status for eternity. I've highlighted a couple lines in the actual piece below.Oh it's so good, it makes me ache.

Random Beauty in Strawberries

The way I feel about cooking is really similar to how I feel about writing. I'm never satisfied. I learn and experiement, I am inspired and fulfilled and I then I create and question.

Writing classes are funny in that they ask you to "think of your audience." I realize this is important if you are writing for a niche magazine or trying to sell something, but if you are paranoid from the beginning on what your audience may think while you are writing it, than, I feel that it takes away from true writing, aka, free flowing style of writing. Cooking is similar.

Half of the time I am thinking of my audience. The other half, I am thinking for myself. Will people eat this? What will they think of this? Is this worth the price? I think these tomatoes are stunning. What is the best way to show case their true flavor and appearance? Will they hate it? Like writing, cooking is an expression that provokes outside opinion- "what did you think of my piece?" "How was your steak?" If you over-think what you originally wanted to cook, than you're a slave to the critique and not truly cooking, or writing for yourself. The truest and most desirable works of art (if we can go there, without sounding too high and mighty), are expressions of oneself as if no one really asked to see it. Without further ado, below is the piece by Ms. Eliot Rose, with my highlights of course, soon to be on Subways, kiosks and plastered in high school English class rooms.

The Difference Between a Writer and Someone Who Writes- By Eliot Rose
A writer is not just someone who writes. In her head, it’s words all day. She sees the world not as a place made up of things but of words about those things. She knows more meaning is contained in a phrase like “poison friends” than a paragraph-long attempt at comparing emotional pain to a stab wound. A writer will divine a metaphor from a pattern on a dress, or a gesture, because sunsets have been done before. A writer understands the capacity for words to embolden, to eviscerate, to cut a man in half. A writer’s words have texture and an aesthetic – they mean one thing on paper and another in your mouth. A writer knows the word “perfume” has a scent, and “savory,” a flavor. She also knows that the technical term for making you taste her words is synesthesia, but she’d rather show you than tell you.
A writer’s mind is sticky, cavernous. It is a locus of constant invention and generation, but also of deconstruction and warfare. Its very synapses fire bullets between semicolons and periods. In the infancy of the day, or as it’s expelling its final breath, an errant phrase will show up there unannounced and become lodged in some furrow. It will keep the writer up at night, until she’s built a temple, or at the very least, a sand castle, around it.
A writer believes in truth but understands the utility of a lie. Someone who writes will think about a lie in terms of its anatomy: she’ll see it as something with dead legs, flayed on a cold steel table, reeking of that stuff we use now instead of formaldehyde, because formaldehyde will kill you, too. But a writer believes in a lie’s biology and knows it is still alive, animated by some preternatural aspiration, an amorphous mass of amorphous cells, dividing and multiplying and taking on some new architecture every time you look at it. A writer knows a lie doesn’t want to die.
Someone who writes writes from a place of common experience in a common language, beleaguered by tired phrases and obvious similes, for those we call in my day job “the mass market consumer.” This is the audience who rapid-fire tweets without adding commentary. A blogger writes for the Facebook share; a writer writes for mind share. But still, in a way, a writer writes for herself. She knows her best work will get the least traction because the mass market consumer didn’t study English literature and doesn’t have the means to do the heavy lifting of literary analysis. And that’s OK. She writes for them, too, but only because it’s a way in. It’s sort of like when Ryan Gosling does one Notebook for every four Blue Valentines. A writer knows you’ll get that analogy but kicks herself for drawing it.
Someone who writes writes as herself. A writer’s voice, on the other hand, is chameleon-like. She can write from the perspective of a nine-year-old child or a pair of hands and make you believe. A writer knows exactly what T.S. Eliot meant when he wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” A writer not only fashions the image of a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, but could tease speech out of those waves and teach sign language to those claws. A writer drowns in deeper oceans.

Someone who writes understands writing in terms of something she does, not in terms of something she is. A writer is aware of the singular stuff of which her soul is composed, but will never shake that gnawing feeling of inadequacy. She will be at once inspired and made to feel inferior by other writers’ words. But she’ll never let that stop her. She’ll continue to see the poetry in a broken watch, or a dog with one blue eye and one brown. She will give you her heart on a Saturday night for the story she gets to tell on a Sunday afternoon.  She will give you her soul always. And she will give it to you in writing. TC mark

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bottling Wine with the 36th Ave Winemakers and Manifesting Loveliness

The Corker

Last Sunday I joined the 36th Ave Winemakers in my aunt and uncle's backyard to help bottle the 2009 Mueller. Once the last golden carboy was drained, and the pristine white wine bottles filled, I had to snap a photo with my phone. As if it didn't already look like a scene one might set up for Gourmet Magazine, I wish I had taken a shot of the homemade goose sausage and the kalamata olive shortbread cookies that others had brought.

Each time I visit my Uncle Steve and Aunt Rae's house, a wave of nostalgia rushes over me. Playing hide and go seek with the cousins at family reunions, picking raspberries in their garden, always finding something wonderful to nibble on in their kitchen and always admiring their art.
"Blue Collar Wine," as Father Bruno would call it

Mark and I are fortunate enough to have two lilac bushes on our property, one is purple, the other white. I put a vase of lilacs in every room of the house while they were in bloom.
Lilac season is always too short. Prunella digs them too.
I haven't been overly inspired to cook lately. Mark made a lovely homemade squid marinara for me the other night, and I did saute some mushrooms with a basil pesto over salmon recently, but all my creative energy is sucked up with the New Vineyard Table Catering project, which is so very exciting!

I haven't even been gardening. I did manage to start some nasturtiums and I do plan to get some weeding done sooner or later. of all things, I've been inspired by all the poppies and peonies that are starting to bloom and I definitely want to put those on the list to plant next year!

I did manage to catch an attractive glimpse of this fast b.l.a.t. that I made for a recent road trip with Mark.
Thick cut B.L.A.T. on olive bread and onions with garden chard

On another note, I finally forced myself to take another creative writing class at the Richard Hugo House. Creative non-fiction! My favorite. I'm suppose to bring 4,000 words to work with. At first I found this to be impossible and limiting. But I already know what I am going to write about, even if it crushes me. It's called "expressions of my father." I'll post it when I get to a point when I am feeling more complete about it.
READ THIS! Blood Bones and Butter!
To get my creative juices flowing, all I really needed to do was read Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. Mentally delicious. I needed a kick start- something to move me and it is full of gritty inspiration. Yes of course it's about food and chefs and struggle, and many other things that make me say, "ahh," out loud on a crowded airplane, but when was the last time I did that? mmmmm satisfying.

I've been seeking inspiration, and manifesting loveliness. I'm on a creative mission. What I am finding is that if you put it out there into the world, it will start coming back to you. Like exercising anything, the hardest part is starting. But once you are in a good rhythm, things come so much easier. There has been an abundance of inspirational conversation lately with great chefs like Kristen Schumacher and winemakers like Leroy Radford and I want to keep it all flowing. And on that note- a little inspiration, aka Bryan John Appleby, Cliffs Along the Sea.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Slow Food Teams up with Heath Putnam Farms and Serious Pie!

Mangalitsa Pig
Mangalitsa Pig
[To be added to our cancellation list for this event, drop us a note with your name, email, and phone number. If anyone cancels, we'll put you in touch with them to buy their ticket.]
Join Slow Food Seattle on Sunday, June 26th from 3-5pm and learn how to make your own homemade Mangalitsa pancetta and lardo at the Westlake Serious Pie location in South Lake Union. Heath Putnam (founder of Heath Putnam Farms) and Serious Pie chefs Tony Catini and Kenan Fox will lead a class on curing and producing lardo and pancetta with Mangalitsa pork. After the Mangalitsa presentation and demonstration, we’ll enjoy a three-course lunch provided by Serious Pie.
Brown Paper TicketsCapacity for the class and lunch is 25 people as space is limited.
Participants will be able to take their lardo home the day of the event, and can pick-up their pancetta once it has cured.
$50/person – Ticket includes the class, lunch, and selections of lardo and pancetta to take home.
Slow Food Members receive advance notice and a discounted rate for all of our events. This one currently has just 9 spots left!
According to Putnam, “Mangalitsa pigs are a traditional breed, essentially unchanged from 1833. In the past, when plant oils and margarine weren’t available, Mangalitsa pigs produced the fatty products like lard, lardo and bacon that consumers demanded. Mangalitsa pigs aren’t necessary anymore, but they taste the best and produce the best products.”
What is a Mangalitsa Pig?
In 2006, Heath Putnam, the founder of Heath Putnam Farms, encountered Mangalitsa while working in Europe. Impressed by its exceptional quality, and aware that America had nothing comparable, he imported a herd and began production here in Washington State. Unlike all popular breeds of hogs, which are meat-type, the Mangalitsa is an extreme lard-type breed. The Mangalitsa (pronounced MON-go-leet-sa) was created in 1833 by the Hungarian Royal Archduke Jozsef. Lard-type breeds produce high-quality fat and very marbled, juicy and flavorful meat. Mangalitsa fat is more unsaturated than normal pig fat, so it tastes much lighter, cleaner and melts at a lower temperature. The fat is also healthier and keeps longer, due to higher levels of oleic acid. For more information on Mangalitsa pork and where to find it, visit Heath Putnam Farms.
Serious Pie
Wooly Pigs

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Last Vineyard Table Supperclub... Revisited

Like many people who try to keep up on their blogs, I have this personal guilt when I don't post as often as I'd like. I have draft upon draft of blogs that will never be seen, because I don't take the time to edit or finish them- regardless of glaring mistakes or regrets that several confessions should have been screened ...slightly, I just need to simply hit post and get it out there. People hate reading apologies, (just do it already!) and I'm one of them!
So- I give you a long overdue blog post, a bittersweet photo montage of the last Vineyard Table Supperclub that was at the SODO location. The previous Vineyard Table is no more, but the silver lining is there is a group of us at Elsom Cellars who are slowly breathing life back into it. Soon we will be unearthing the bones, removing the wraps and resuscitating the magic that was and all the beautiful things that were created from it, will be again. Interested in throwing a party? Email me:

This last supper club was created with my close chef friend, Kristen Schumacher of Heirloom.  Her recap of the dinner can be found here.

Discussing a game plan minutes before service

Spices, sauce and pork to make homemade chorizo
Kristen's homemade chorizo

The table set- mismatched silver just adds character

Butchering squid, moments before the soup. Hint: butcher your own- creates the best texture

Bread, Chicken Liver Mousse, butter with Himalayan Sea Salt, Caramelized Pears

Kristen and I explain the next course

Pork belly bite on arugula with grapefruit vinaigrette, pomegranate gastrique

Flying dreams sauv blanc, signed by the winemaker, Leroy Radford

Spanish-inspired Fisherman's stew, squid, fish, house-made chorizo and proscuitto chip

The Vineyard Table

Leroy explains his wine while pouring for the soup course

2007 Elsom Cellars Malbec

Ridiculous violet color- strong pepper

Kristen cracks quail eggs

Slow Roasted Goat Mole, Manchego Polenta, Fried Quail Egg and Pickled Watermelon Radish

Hubby Mark adding the finishing pepper

My stunning niece Kaela helping with serving

Quick pose!

Chocolate Torte with Bay Leaf Creme Anglaise

a well deserved glass of vino and dessert