Monthly Archives: November 2012

Dear Mr. President

Rem had the idea to send the card and I wanted to make it.  We know there’s only a very slim chance that Barack Obama will actually see the card, but our intention is good and we felt it was worth making and sending.

I’ve been making decorated tags to use on cards so decided to use one on the card for the President.

We know someone in the White House will see the card and be pleased and that’s good enough for us.  We enjoyed watching this video about how Obama reads 10 letters from the public.  Every day.  I think that’s cool.

Washi tape, stamped words, a butterfly sticker and some postage stamps were all part of the embellishments.

It was also pretty fun addressing a card that I made and sending it off to the White House with our very best wishes.

Here are a few other cards I’ve made recently with embellished tags.

Some of the cards are 5.5 inches square and some are the more standard 4.25 x 5.5 inches.  I keep my mom stocked with cards (mostly birthday) so she got some of these for her stash.

And here are tags that haven’t yet made it onto a card front.

I started out using some manila shipping tags but found it was more fun and really easier to just start with patterned paper and cut out the tag shape.

These are 2 1/8 inches wide and 4 1/4 inches long.  I cut the corners off (using a real tag as my template) and punch a hole at one end  A circle punch and hole punch are the tools needed to make the little reinforcing circle.  I find it easiest to punch out the hole first than align my circle punch so the hole is centered and punch out the circle.  My sister suggested punching out a circle and adhering it to the tag and just punching a hole through both the circle and the tag at the same time!  Very clever.  Only sometimes the circle comes unglued (don’t we all, sometimes?) and ends up stuck to the hole punch.  So you can try it either way.

I’ve been using some of the goodies I picked up in Kirkland, Washington on a Ben Franklin craft shopping spree with Carson.  The Ben Franklin’s around here aren’t the same.  I got two 6×6 paper pads that I’m loving (For the Record 2 Tailored, by Echo Park Paper Co., and Meadow by My Mind’s Eye). And of course washi tape.

I’m also using these gorgeous Flora & Fauna stickers by Cavallini that I found at Once Around craft store in Mill Valley.  I discovered a discount sales rack in their workroom and grabbed these stickers 50% off.  I LOVE them!

What have you been making?  Who have you been making it for?

Thanks for stopping by.

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Emerald City Salad

On vacation in Seattle I had a version of this salad from a store called PCC Natural Market.  I’ve been eating lots of kale and chard but usually cook it  (and occasionally juice it) so having it raw in a salad was new for me.  The PCC recipe has ribbons of kale and chard mixed with wild rice, fennel, bell pepper and green onion in a lemon/olive oil dressing.  It was very good but I wanted to tweak it a bit.

I switched brown rice for the wild rice, though wild rice is great if you want to splurge on it.  I added some apple and dried, sweetened cranberries for a little bit of sweetness and celery for more crunch.  I also omitted the garlic from the dressing and reduced the green onions.  A little toasted sesame oil in the dressing enhances the nutty quality of the brown rice.  The resulting salad is delicious and colorful.  It is perfect for a potluck as it makes a lot.  It also holds up better than most green salads.

It is loaded with healthy ingredients and might be just what you’re craving after a weekend of turkey, stuffing and pie.  I think it could be the perfect fall salad and with a little leftover turkey on the side would make a very nice lunch or supper.  I like to make a big bowl of it on Sunday and enjoy it for lunch throughout the week.

Emerald City Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked brown rice (I use Trader Joe’s frozen, microwavable brown rice or their Rice Medley which is a combination of Brown Rice, Red Rice and Black Barley).  You can, of course, start with raw rice and cook it according to the package directions.

1/2 half bunch of kale (about 7 ounces before trimming)

1/2 half bunch of Swiss chard (about 7 ounces before trimming)

1/2 a large fennel bulb

1 red bell pepper (or half of a red bell pepper and half of a yellow bell pepper)

1 apple

2 stalks celery

2 green onions

1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, such as Craisins

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 to 2 teaspoons Dijonnaise, Dijon or other mustard (I love Dijonnaise by Best Foods aka Hellman’s – it is a creamy blend of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise and I use it all the time in salad dressing and on sandwiches)

1 teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Remove the tough stems and ribs from the kale and chard.  You can grasp the leafy part in one hand and kind of zip the stem down with the other.  Lacinato or Dino Kale is pictured below though I more often use Curly Kale.

Stack and roll up the kale and chard leaves and cut into thin ribbons.

Thinly slice the fennel.  Dice the bell pepper and apple.  Slice the celery and green onion.

In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, kale, chard, the vegetables and the apple.  Add the dried cranberries and toss together.

Put the olive oil, toasted sesame oil, about 3/4’s of the lemon juice, Dijonnaise, sugar and salt and pepper in a jar.  Close the lids and shake well to combine.  Taste and adjust with the remaining lemon juice, additional olive oil, Dijonnaise and/or salt and pepper as needed. (I like it quite lemony and mustard-y with the kale and chard, but others might prefer it on the milder side). Drizzle dressing over salad and toss until greens are well coated.

Salad will improve if it sits at least an hour in the fridge once it is dressed.  Adjust seasoning before serving.  This salad keeps well but I found it needed a little more lemon juice after being in the fridge for a day.

Serves 6 to 8

Thanks for the visit.

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Ballard Locks & Theo Chocolate

I wish I could do a brain meld with all my readers and get everyone caught up with posts I want to write.  There are still a few things I want to share from my vacation and that was in late September! I’ve been crafting some cards I’m really happy about and I want to share them. I made a salad adapted from a recipe that I enjoyed on vacation called Emerald City Salad that has kale, chard, fennel, apples and rice in it.  It is a great fall dish and it’s coming soon too, I promise.

So, here we go: Ballard Locks. We really enjoyed our time there and I would recommend it as worth a visit.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this place is officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks & Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Gardens.  Kind of a mouthful!  You can see why it is known as Ballard Locks (the Ballard comes from the neighborhood).  The garden, which I looked at briefly as we strolled through to the locks is nice and probably really stunning in the spring, is not the main attraction for most of the visitors.

Did anyone else used to think of fuschia blossoms as little ballerinas?

I call these “fried egg flowers” but apparently they’re really known as Matilija poppies.

Rem and I rode with Ted while Liz parked elsewhere and rode her bike and met us there.  Luckily Ted had sweatshirts in his car because Rem and I had been pretty blithe about the temperature and by the water it was on the cool side.

There are two locks – a large one and a small one.  They go in opposite directions.  Boats were coming in to the large one and than tying up to rails along one side and tying up to each other, with larger vessels against the side of the lock.

Note the level of the water and the green walls of the lock.  We’ll see these boats later when the water has level has gone up in the lock.

Meanwhile, the small lock filled and emptied several times because it is so much smaller.

This tour boat practically filled the small lock.  In this direction the boat comes in at a high-water level.

Than the lock operators close the gates and the water is drained out, like water out of a giant bathtub and the boats sink down.  They open the gates and the boat or boats go on their way.  Or at least that is what is supposed to happen.

Back at the big lock they were closing the gates.

At the last moment, these three Canadian Geese decided they wanted to go through the gates.

Luckily, no one lost any tail feathers.

The water level started to rise.

The first three boats in line are still tied together. These are the same three as seen in an earlier photo, but taken from a different angle.

The water inside the lock is almost at the same level as the water on the other side of the gate.  They gate starts to open…

The higher water flows into the lock, evening out the difference between the two levels.

The large cabin cruiser, Lexington, started up their motor and havoc ensued.  Apparently, in an effort to save time and get going out of the lock quickly, the people on these front three boats had untied the lines at the bow of each boat, ahead of the signal from the lock workers directing the boat traffic from the sides of the locks.

When Lexington started churning up water with their powerful engine, the two smaller boats, now tied together only at the rear or stern of each boat, started knocking together and turning in the flow of water coming in from the opening gates.

The boats are still tied together, people are yelling at each other.

The water flowing in from the open gate of the lock is pushing the two smaller boats the wrong direction.  They’re now blocking all the other boats from leaving the lock.

It’s a big mess.

A lock worker is shouting directions, telling them to untie the lines.  The Auklet, which started in the middle is now on the outside, facing the wrong direction and the sailboat Kona Wind swings into another boat.

The crowd watching from the side groans in unison. I can imagine the nearby boat captains watching these two boats swirling towards them just wincing as the Kona Wind careens their way.  They can’t take evasive action because they’re still tied to the rails on the side of the lock.  We heard a crunch but when everything was finally set to right, no damage was visible.

In all the hubbub, the cabin cruiser glides out the open gate of the lock.  From my point of view, though they might not have been fully to blame for the problem, when they started their motor, they certainly made things worse.

After all the excitement, Rem and I checked out the fish ladders to one side of the locks (no fish action while we were watching) while Ted and Liz relaxed in the sunshine.

We left Ballard Locks, ate lunch, wandered the Fremont Sunday Street Market and wrapped up our outing with a visit to Theo Chocolate.

There wasn’t time for the factory tour, but the showroom has samples every where you turn.

A few well-chosen books were on display.

But it was mostly chocolate.

I did a lot of tasting and a little shopping.

The chocolate dipped smoked almond sea salt toffee was pretty awesome.

I did both share and enjoy the confections I bought as well as the lovely samples.  It was a wonderful finish to an already full day.

Thank you for coming by.

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Hello, Big Doggie

If you spend any time with Rem, you will soon learn he loves dogs.  And generally dogs love him too.  In fact, I think he must have some kind of positive doggie pheromones because he seems to attract dogs who act as if he were a long-lost friend.

Our last full day of our Pacific Northwest Vacation in late September was beautiful.  We went to the Ballard Locks (official name: Hiram M. Chittenden Locks) to watch boats moving between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal, which connects  to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

We saw boats of many different shapes and sizes and we saw dogs.

This little Yorkie only had eyes for his (or her) guardian.

We saw several different dogs enjoying a Sunday afternoon pleasure cruise with their people.

After watching boats at the locks we went to get some lunch.  Walking down the street we came across a chair tree.

I noticed this beautiful carved stone in the sidewalk.

The doorway of a shop was surrounded with cherubs. I probably would have stopped if we weren’t heading for lunch.

This t-shirt caught my eye.

It’s for the South Lake Union Trolley.  Of course.

We bought our picnic and ate overlooking a bike path with more dog (and people) watching.

I think the little girl on the back of the bike was trying to point out the lady with the camera to her mom.

We tried to look harmless.

After lunch, we strolled through the Freemont Sunday Street Market.

A vendor’s dog seemed to be enjoying the warm sunshine.

I bought a toe ring.

Rem talked to the dogs.

It was a great day all around.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Plum Crumble, Groundspeak and a Troll

On the last weekend of our vacation, we stayed in the guest cottage of friends, Liz and Ted.

This is in the backyard and in the front yard, they have a plum tree.  Full of plums.

The cat from next door watched me taking pictures while Ted picked plums.

I’m pretty sure these are Italian Prune Plums.

Before we get to the recipe for Plum Crumble, I want to share a few more pictures from Seattle…

We visited Groundspeak, kind of like Mecca for geocachers.  The mother lode of all caches is in their lobby – there is a trunk full of goodies.

When you go, you have the opportunity to meet some of the staff as well as other cachers.  There was a large group of kids who were avid geocachers, happily sorting through the trunk.

We left Groundspeak and set out for some outdoor play using location-based technology (aka a geocache).

We didn’t find the cache, but we did find this.

Or should I say him? The Fremont Troll.

This giant troll (that’s a full-sized VW bug in his hand) lives under a bridge near the Groundspeak headquarters.

We survived our visit to the troll which was a good thing because it was our first night with Ted and Liz.  We settled into our cottage. Ted made a delicious surf and turf dinner with both salmon and steak.

The next day, walking with Liz, we talked plums.

I was making dinner that night and a plum dessert seemed like a good bet.  Our main dish was That Pasta (of course) and for dessert, this Plum Crumble.

Plum Crumble

Adapted from Diana Rattrey on About.com

Ingredients:

3 lbs. fresh plums, pitted & quartered, about 5 cups

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces

Directions:

Set oven to 375 degrees.

Combine plums and brown sugar.  When I made it, I didn’t have brown sugar so I used white sugar with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Put the plums in a buttered 11 x 7.5 inch baking dish.

Stir together flour, white sugar, salt, cinnamon and add the beaten egg, stirring until crumbly.

Using a fork, two table knives or just your fingers, cut or rub the pieces of butter into the flour and sugar mixture.

Sprinkle over the plums.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

This is delicious served with vanilla ice cream.  I haven’t had it with whipped cream, but I’m sure that would be good too.

The original recipe called for melting the butter and drizzling it over the dry flour and sugar mixture that had been sprinkled over the plums. I preferred this method, combining the cold butter with the mixture, but you could try the other method if you prefer.

This was such a hit the night I made it that the next morning Ted was out picking more plums and we made an even bigger recipe the following night.

The same recipe would work well with apples in place of plums and either would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving dessert menu.

Thanks for coming by.

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Ferry: Edmonds to Kingston & Poulsbo

Rem and I rode a car ferry for the first time while on our vacation.  We’ve taken the local Golden Gate Ferry from Larkspur or Sausalito to San Francisco but this boat was BIG.  It dwarfed the ferries in the San Francisco Bay.  I read on the Washington State Department of Transportation site (WSDOT) that the SPOKANE carries 188 cars!

Many passengers stayed in their cars, tipping back the seats and catching a little snooze while we crossed from Edmonds to Kingston.  We got out to explore the ferry and enjoy the view…

Our destination was the scenic town of Poulsbo, which has the nickname “Little Norway”, on Liberty Bay.  It was about a 20 minute drive from the ferry terminal once we landed in Kingston.

It was a beautiful, warm day.  We decided to start with lunch and enjoyed fish and chips, sitting on a sunny deck.

We strolled the waterfront after lunch.  The bay had the feeling of a lake surrounded by pines.

Sven O’Donnelley, one of Rem’s ancestors, was an early Poulsbo settler.

We continued our walk down Front Street, window shopping at the quaint shops.

The architecture and murals add to the charm of the town.

Next stop: Sluys Bakery.

Their front window is an enticing display of pastries including several kinds of cinnamon rolls and doughnuts.  Inside, cases and shelves display a wide variety of pastries,  cookies, pies, bread and rolls.

Choosing wasn’t easy, but Rem finally picked a Viking Cup which is a large cinnamon roll topped with a mound of cream cheese frosting.

I got a Krispie: a giant oval spiral made from sugared puff pastry – like a palmier or elephant ear.

A screen on the wall was running a fascinating video showing bakery production behind the scenes.

I’m not sure but I think the banner painted on the wall behind this regal golden pretzel (or whatever it is) might say: “Give us this day our daily bread”.

Soon it was time to head back to Kingston and the ferry journey across Puget Sound to Edmonds.  We were one of the last cars on to the boat.

I still have a few more vacation posts to come.  I’m sorry it’s taken me so long.

Thanks for the visit.

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‘Make This Pasta’ Update

Over a year ago I wrote about a delicious pasta dish, Pappardelle with Broccolini, Feta, Pine Nuts and Lemon, a favorite from a cooking class taught by Tom Hudgens, author of The Commonsense Kitchen cookbook.

In my post I mentioned making it a year earlier for my friends, Carson and Ian, who were new parents at the time.

Well, when we saw our friends in Seattle, we made the Pappardelle Pasta for dinner and Carson suggested an addition that she had made to the recipe: prosciutto.  She also suggested using Lemon Pepper Pappardelle if you can find it (which we found and bought at Trader Joe’s), it’s perfect for this dish.

We made a double recipe of the pasta and added a 4 oz. package of sliced prosciutto that I cut into pieces and frizzed up in a pan with a little olive oil.

That little baby?  He’s now this grown up guy, digging into the pasta.

While I was running for my camera to get a photo of the finished dish, he was grabbing the tongs and helping himself!

Before vacation was over, we made another double batch at the last place we were staying.  Broccolini or Broccoli were not favored by some of the guests, so I added spinach to the pasta and though it wasn’t the best substitute, it was still very tasty.  Asparagus or zucchini would have been better choices.  I also cooked some broccoli and served it on the side instead of in the pasta.

If you tried it before, you might want to try it again with (or without) the addition of some fried prosciutto.  If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should make this pasta!

Here’s how.

Not pictured: Olive oil, prosciutto, red pepper flakes, black pepper

Pasta with Broccolini, Feta Cheese, Pine Nuts & Lemon

(Adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen, Tom Hudgens)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 oz. pasta (Pappardelle or other shape)

salt (for the pasta water)

1 lb. broccolini, or sprouting broccoli, or broccoli

2 to 4 oz. pine nuts I love this pasta for dinner by itself so use the greater amount of nuts.  If you are serving it as a side dish, you can use fewer pine nuts.

extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (see note about feta, below)

1 lemon (zest and juice)

2 to 4 oz. sliced prosciutto (cut each slice into quarters) (optional)

black pepper to taste

pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)

A note about feta:  I can sometimes find an Israeli sheep’s milk feta called Pastures of Eden at Trader Joe’s. It is creamy, tangy and salty and wonderful in this recipe.

Directions:

Cut the broccolini into large bite-sized pieces – in half lengthwise and crosswise is enough.

If the pine nuts aren’t dry-toasted , toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until they are golden brown.  (Trader Joe’s has dry-toasted pine nuts).

Bring 1 1/2 gallons of water to a rolling boil, and add a heaping tablespoon of salt. Throw in the pasta, and boil, stirring frequently, until the pasta is almost, but not quite, cooked through. Add the broccolini to the pot and cook until pasta and broccolini are tender.

While the pasta and broccolini are cooking, zest the lemon (I love my microplane grater for this task) then cut lemon in half.

If using the optional prosciutto, fry it up crispy in a bit of olive oil.  Set aside.

When both the pasta and the broccolini are cooked, scoop a bit of the pasta water out of the pot and set aside. Drain pasta and broccolini.

In a large bowl (or I like to use the pot in which I cooked the pasta), combine the pasta and broccolini with a splash of olive oil, a bit of the pasta water, 2/3 the feta cheese, pine nuts, lemon zest, squeeze on juice from one or both halves of lemon as desired, add red pepper flakes if using, and black pepper to taste.

Now put it in the serving bowl, top with remaining feta and crispy prosciutto, if using, and serve.  You can also set aside a bit of the lemon zest and pine nuts and sprinkle those over the finished dish.

Thanks for the visit.

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