23 03 2010

Get this. Scott will only let me eat blue candy. For Valentine’s day, I had a bag of almond M&Ms in valentine colors on the table at the front door (Abby’s favorite MM stash). I asked Scott to hand me some while we were watching tv one night and I got a handful of blue MMs. He says I’m only allowed to eat blue so we can guarantee the little speck is a boy. Last night he came home from work with a big bag of Robin Eggs for Easter. Guess what? They’re all blue.

team pink or blue?

He thinks he’s so clever. But really, while he’s at work, I eat pink food all day (ok, it’s hard to find naturally pink foods – salmon counts though, right?). I can.not.WAIT to get a strawberry iced donut at Shipley’s in April.

Take your vote in the poll on the right. We’re set to find out at the end of April what the gender of specky will be. I might give a prize to one of the correct guessers!

Grilled Salmon over Pappardelle with Pesto & Fresh Peas

22 03 2010

One of the benefits of living up in the Northwest is easy access to fresh, wild fish. Particularly salmon. When I first moved to Seattle, I lived a block away from the Pike Place Market. I quickly identified my favorite fish stand (no, it’s not the flying fish stand) and stopped in there 2-3 times per week after work. I would pick up a hunk of salmon and whatever fresh vegetables struck my fancy that day. I think I ate fresh salmon that way for easily the first 7-8 months. I kind of burned myself out on it and stopped eating it for a long time.

I guess I’m getting back in the salmon habit these days. I’ve found a few stores/markets in our neighborhood that have really fresh seafood and even can drive a few minutes down to the docks in Ballard to grab dinner straight from the person who caught it.

I came up with a new way to serve salmon. What’s great is I really thought it was a recipe on Martha Stewart last week. When I went to search, it was nowhere to be found. So I searched through the DVR to look through her shows all week last week. Absolutely none of the recipes last week were this concoction. I guess I dreamed it after a mix of all the other things she made last week. Anyway, I invented a new recipe!

First off, the market had fresh english peas. I’m not a fan of canned or those dimpled frozen peas. They just seem *mushy* and gritty. I’ll eat them, but I love spring when the fresh peas, fava beans, garbanzo beans, etc start hitting the markets. So, first thing, I shelled the peas:

peas in their pods

The peas are easily shucked. If they are ripe, you just have to squeeze one end and the pod opens up at the seam. Pop the peas right out of their shell and into the strainer to rinse!

shucking peas

2 salmon filets (1/2 lb each)
1 cup of peas (fresh in this recipe, but frozen would work just as well)
1/3 cup fresh basil pesto (store bought is good too)
Pappardelle noodles (I considered angel hair, but had these in the fridge to use, so that’s what got used)
Olive oil
Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

1. Get two pots of water boiling: one salted for the pasta, one for the peas.
2. Get a grill pan warmed to medium heat for the fish.
3. Prepare the fish by flipping it skin side up. Score the skin with two marks, try not to cut the flesh. Sprinkle the skin with sea salt.
4. Sprinkle some olive oil on the grill pan and lay the fish skin side down. Let cook 2 minutes, then flip and cook another 2-4 minutes on the flesh side (depending on your need for doneness, I cooked an additional 3 minutes to make sure mine was cooked all the way through – raw fish is a no-no for me these days).
5. While the fish is cooking, get the pasta cooking as well. Simultaneously, drop the peas in the other boiling pot of water. Let them cook 2 1/2 minutes or until crisp, but done. Bathe them in an ice water bath to cool quickly.
6. Toss the hot pasta with a little pasta water and the pesto until coated. Add the peas and toss again until well incorporated.
7. Layer the fish on top of the pasta.

It turned out really well. I sprinkled a little lemon on top of the finished product and liked it better with the zestiness of the lemon!

Sorry I’m so bad at food pictures, but you get the idea…

the finished product

Cherry Blossom

20 03 2010

My parents lived in Japan just after they were married for a little while. While they were there, they bought a sweet maltese puppy. I suspect they bought her during the spring when the cherry trees were blooming because they named her Cherry Blossom. She was a great dog. One of those perfect mixes of snuggly and playful. And protective. We would pretend to hit mom and mom would fake pain and scream and cherry would come after us. She never bit us but she pretended too and got all ferocious. (sounds like kind of a sick game when you type it out for the world to read, no? we were a strangely very fun house, I think).

row of cherry trees

Mom told us about the beautiful cherry trees in Japan. I really didn’t get it or understand what was so special about them. I mean, all I knew was the yellow pollen mess on Live Oak trees, that was never a fun time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Live Oaks. They make me tear up when I see them, they are such a symbol of “home” to me. But I hate that yellow pollen. Probably not as much as dad and mom who have to clean it off everything twice a year.

mellow in the trees

I got really lucky about 11 years ago when I was sent to Washington DC for some kind of emerging software training. Sad, I can’t even remember the name of the software. I happened to be there during the week of the cherry blossoms. I finally got it. The cherry blossoms are amazing! It’s that perfect picture of spring. Promise of the warm, relaxing summer days to come, but still enjoying the cool breezes left over from winter. Spring can’t be beat.

peeking through

We’re fortunate in Washington to be one of those climates where cherry trees thrive. They are everywhere and all bloom at different times, so the blooms easily go on for 4-6 weeks. There is a giant fruit bearing cherry tree outside our home office window that isn’t quite blooming yet.

gothic architecture and blooms

But the ones at University of Washington are in full glory! We popped over there last weekend and hung out in The Quad. A lot of other people had the same idea as us. A lot of amateur photographers, professional photographers, family portrait takers, young couples snuggling under the trees, kids running around the pathways. So much fun. The combination of the green grass, brick pathways, gothic architecture, and blooming trees make the quad one of the most beautiful places in Seattle on a spring day.

the quad at u-dub

The L Pod is Growing!

13 03 2010
How exciting! It’s been a great year for the L Pod. They have FIVE new calves that have been spotted so far this late winter near the San Juan Islands. Some years you don’t hear of any, others you hear of a couple, but in almost 9 summers, I’ve never heard of one pod getting five little ones in a year. The most recent one is L-114. They don’t name them until they’ve made it a year or so as their lives are a little precarious in the first year. It’s mother is a 22 year old Orca named Matia, aka L-77.

image borrowed from

I love hearing these stories and seeing the whales flourishing in the wild. I think we need to make a long weekend trip up to the islands and soak in their beauty and sit on the shores looking for our namesake. 

In other growing news, the L Pod of the blog is expecting a baby L Pod too! We’re extremely excited and plotting and planning some adventures that include a +tiny. We’re due on September 23, 2010. I’m feeling great and excited to share the news with everyone! Scott is beyond excited, though he might be a little tired of my tears. We all know the volume of tears I produce is higher than normal. Between the Olympics and other high drama events in the last few weeks, he’s had to console this teary pregnant lady a lot. He’s good at it too. 🙂 

Obviously, many more updates to come! Any bets on a boy/girl?

Spring Flowers

11 03 2010

We went to Pike Place Market in search of some Wild Boar for a recipe I’ve been hankering to make. Wild Boar is apparently very hard to find. Whole Foods can get it if they call their regional buyer. And if I give them my right arm as collateral and the deed to our house.

Sorry, I get side tracked easily. One of my favorite things to pick up at the market (besides the wild honey, yummy fruit, local winter produce, and fresh caught fish) is fresh-cut flowers. I picked up this lovely for $5.

pike place market blooms

It has tulips, daffodils, a magnolia branch, some evergreen, some grain, pussy willow and some other shrub like branches. Maybe from a winter daphne?

Not a bad way to brighten your house for $5!

Lemon Cake Loafs

10 03 2010

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I’d much prefer a big plate of french fries to a slice of cake or pie. But my one real exception (besides chocolate chip cookies) is all things flavored lemon. I love tart combined with sweet. The kind that makes you pucker! When I went to Norway, I remember gorging on candy, they were huge on the sour candies and I just couldn’t help myself. I brought bags of candy back for my sour candy loving mother and ate them all within 2 days of getting back to Seattle (sorry mom :().

This cake is a perfect blend of tart and sweet and a tad buttery. So delicious!

lemony buttery cake

Lemon Cake
recipe courtesy of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties!
makes two 8-inch loaves

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (separated)
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature (I’ve used large and it’s still been great)
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6-8 large lemons)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (separated)
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease, flour, and line the bottom of two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Try not to eat in one sitting.

No-Knead Bread

9 03 2010

I’ve discovered that The New York Times is a gold mine for amazing recipes. I had no idea! I stumbled on a recipe for no knead bread about a year ago and tucked it away. I always forgot to pull it out and when I remembered I needed a fresh loaf that day. Well, I magically remembered on Saturday that I wanted a loaf to go with my Sunday soup. So I started the loaf. As a disclaimer, the bread takes about 20 hours to make, but the hands on time is virtually nothing. It’s no knead bread!

No-Knead Bread
recipe courtesy of New York Times

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cups (or 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp) water

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended; dough will be shabby and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, or better for 18 hours, at warm room temperature, about 70°.

Dough is ready when dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle with a little more flour and fold over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 15 minutes (don’t skip this step – your dough will be ridiculously sticky and will struggle to not be super dense bread).

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on a towel and dust with more flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 450°. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready carefully remove pot from the oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough under into pot; seam side up. It may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once, twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack. (it should pop RIGHT out of your pan).

Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf

I used cornmeal to coat mine and wish I had used flour. I don’t care for corn meal coated bread – or pizza dough for that matter :). The bread is still absolutely delicious. It’s light and fluffy with a good basic flavor. It’s a pretty loaf too.

no knead bread!