Tuesday, March 27, 2012

last minute

We are now down to about 14 days that we will be home to work on house projects. I am mostly finished packing aside from the essential things we'll need until the last minute. There are always those things that you don't know where to pack and keep avoiding until it's time to pack the truck and then shove them all in a box together. Im trying to avoid that and empty every cabinet and pack as much as possible. We've sold almost everything aside from two bookshelves, the grill, and Ben's old video games. Not too bad! Today Ben is power washing the house and I'm plugging away inside packing, cleaning and putting books on CD on my iPOD. It's been a major challenge for me to organize everything since we'll be in our trailer for awhile and space is very limited there. The majority of our things will be on the truck and then put immediately in storage, so we need to make sure we don't pack anything we'll need for the next few months. I'm often so overwhelmed with all the different factors that it's hard to get anything done. I've found that making really detailed lists is the best way go. Last night we walked to every room in the house and made an extremely detailed list.

I've been searching for rentals, but don't have any leads yet. I am getting very nervous about finding a rental that will be big enough, in a good location that will allow 3 dogs! The thought of living in our trailer for more than a few weeks is very frightening. I'm sure it will all work out, but I guess I like to worry about these things. 

We've been making an effort to see our friends for the last time. We went out to Quinns in Seattle last night with Kate and Jacob for dinner. We heard they have good burgers and it was true..they were pretty amazing.
 I've been trying to use up ingredients in my pantry so I don't have to compost good food. I hate wasting food. I had a lot of beans, cans of tomatoes, broth and cabbage in the refrigerator. The only thing I needed to buy for this recipe was the bread. It makes a lot and you really can't go wrong with any recipe by Ina Garten. She is the best! Ribolitta was one of our favorite dishes in Italy. We went back to the same place several times in Tuscany.

Ina Gartens Ribollita


  • 1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 pound large diced pancetta
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots(3 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded cabbage or kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups stale sourdough cubes, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch.  Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the pancetta and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage or the kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Worth The Time

We now have less than 20 days to get stuff done before we leave. It's a balance between spending time with friends, seeing things for the last time in the Northwest and getting ready for the move.  I packed up most of the kitchen yesterday, which was very satisfying. We also sold Finley's dresser and our living room couch. Ben has been busy in the yard making the gardens look ready for planting and doing last minute repairs. I booked some of our camping spots for our drive, scheduled the carpet cleaner and ordered beauty bark for delivery. I had my official last day of work on Friday. I'm happy to be done with work since I'm having a bit of a career identity crisis. The move will be a good time to sort out my plans and decide where I want to work. 

Back to the fun part of seeing friends and the Northwest. We went to Portland this weekend to visit our good friend Brooke and our old dog Ari. We went to a whippet race on Saturday, but had dinner with Brooke on Friday and Saturday nights and went for a hike on Sunday to Horsetail Falls. We took Finley in a Kelty carrier (and by we I mean Ben). It worked really well and there was actually plenty of room to stash snacks and dog leashes in the backpack. The only problem was that Finley got cold toward the end and Ben had to rush her back to the car.  I absolutely love hiking in the Northwest. The forest is magical with moss hanging from huge maples, the floor covered in various ferns and the surprising crystal blue water. It's become familiar over the past 10 years and is one of the things I will miss about this area.

One of my favorite things to do with friends is to hang out and cook together. Amy and I have been getting together lately and trying new recipes. Last week we made a Strawberry Tart and we had some Creme Fraiche left over. What do you do with leftover Creme Fraiche? you make the best scones ever. Yes, I made scones that came out tasting good! Amy found this recipe on ChowHound and I have no idea who created it, but I am very thankful.  I made a few modifications to the technique...I used a food processor and put the berries in so they wouldn't get smashed. This is the first time I've made scones that were edible. They are usually tough and breadlike. These are creamy and rich and light. I'm going to experiment this week with chocolate, cherry instead of blueberry. 

Blueberry Creme Fraiche Scones 

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup blueberries
1 egg plus 1 yolk
7.5 oz. crème fraîche
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in bowl of food processor. Add butter and pulse  until mixture resembles fine meal.
Whisk eggs, crème fraîche and vanilla. Add crème fraîche mixture into flour mixture (dough will be very moist) . Turn dough out onto generously floured work surface. Divide dough in half. Press each half into 6-inch round about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange blueberries on one half and gently push 2nd half on top. Cut round into 6 wedges. Transfer wedges to baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.
Bake scones until pale golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.

I've been on a quest to get my kid to eat lots of vegetables and to use up all the random ingredients we have before we move. We have a lot of frozen spinach and canned tomatoes.

Fusili with Spinach and Sweet Italian Sausage

1/4 cup olive oil
4 mild italian sausages
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper. chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup red wine
1 can whole tomatoes
1 lb fusili pasta
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and excess water removed
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

 In large saute pan heat 1 Tbs. olive oil and  cook sausages over medium heat for about 8 minutes total, turning a few times during cooking. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining oil to sautee pan and sautee onion and bell pepper until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, continue cooking for 1 minute. Deglaze with wine and reduce for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir, breaking apart tomatoes with spoon. Cook tomato sauce for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile boil large pot of salted water and cook pasta until aldente, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Cut sausage into 1" pieces. Return cooked pasta to large pot, add sausage, tomato sauce, spinach and parmesan and add pasta water as needed. Cook over low heat until cheese is melted and spinach is hot. Serve with grated parmesan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Building List

Things have slowly been moving along with our move. Or I should say time is passing and our list of things to do is building up. We finally sold some furniture and met with our real estate agent. The market in Seattle is pretty good actually. It's nothing like the market when we bought of course. Back in 2006 houses were going for over $300 per square foot, now it's more like $190. The inventory is low, which is good for us. But the houses that are available are very nice, which means buyers won't take dumpy houses. Luckily our house is in good condition and updated. We do still have lots of landscaping, painting and cleaning to do.

Finley has been going through a major growth spurt and word explosion. She is eating an amazing amount of food. She eats more than I do and probably less than Ben does. She had four servings of dinner last night! Her 2 year old doctor appointment is tomorrow, so we'll know her weight exactly, but according to our scale she's gained 2 lbs (she's now 26.6 lbs).

She has been talking up a storm! She loves to go around the house and find things and say who they belong to. She'll say "mama shoes" or "dada hat". Other things she is saying "clean, clothes, cow, dogs, cheese, juice, more, socks, shoes, boots, poop, puppy, grapes, fruit, coat, thank you, please, hi, Gran, pop, cat, mouse, cars, book, up, down, slide, help...those are the most common ones. It's amazing to watch the association she makes and the things she notices. She knows which leash belongs to each dog and lots of things that were never directly taught to her. She is also now obsessed with her doll that she calls BB. She likes to dress BB and carry her around. We are working on teaching her not to drop little BB.

Finley had her last gym class today and she was on fire! She is the youngest one in class and has always been a bit behind with swinging on the bars, the trampoline, the balance beam, but today she was doing everything.

My friend Amy and I hung out the other night and make this lovely tart. It was fairly easy and very Springy. We decided it would be fun to bring to a party for Easter or with Blackberries or Peaches for a summer BBQ. You can use this same crust and substitute other fruits (any berry, nectarine, pear) or you can use jam instead of the cream and fruit on top. I would like to try raspberry jam with fresh raspberries on top. 

Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart from Sunset

  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 12 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced 


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, whirl flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, the cornstarch, and salt until combined. Add butter and 1/2 tsp. vanilla and pulse until fine crumbs form and dough just begins to come together. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-in. round tart pan with a removable rim.
  2. 2. Bake until edges are golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then gently push tart crust from pan rim; set on a plate.
  3. 3. In a bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat crème fraîche, cream, remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla until thick. Spread in cooled crust. Arrange strawberries in circles on top, alternating cut sides down and up.
  4. Make ahead: Chill, loosely covered, up to 4 hours.
  5. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Here's what I've been cooking this week

 I absolutely love to cook. I love trying new recipes. The more complicated the better. I love spending hours in the kitchen and challenging myself to come up with my own recipes. Lately I've been lazy about writing things down or taking photos, but I've been cooking a lot. I also thoroughly enjoy food shopping. Is that weird? I look forward to it every week and take my sweet time going up and down each aisle. I usually buy Finley a bagel or some cheese and juice to snack on and she stays happy.

Ben has been on a gluten free diet for a few weeks. He is trying to figure out if he has food allergies. At this point his symptoms haven't gotten better, but he is staying on the diet for 3 weeks just to be sure. It's fun for me to be creative and come up with things that are gluten free. I think the trick is making things that would already be gluten free, rather than using substitutes. Although we have been eating rice pasta, which is actually pretty good.

Earlier this week, I made this egg casserole dish for dinner. I like to keep frozen spinach in the freezer. I personally think it's the best vegetable to buy frozen. Of course it only works if you want cooked spinach. It's great with casseroles, lasagne, quiche, spinach and cheese pastry. You really can't tell the difference at all. I stocked up a little bit too much and now that we are moving I'm challenging myself to use everything we have before we go. This particular recipe was pretty good. Not amazing, but easy and would make a great one dish breakfast.

Last night I surprised myself with putting together two dishes that didn't seem like they would work, but went well together. The Tangerine-Maple Glazed Drumsticks was modified from a recipe by Bobby Flay, which required a grill. It was wet and gross outside, so I decided to attempt to substitute broiling the meat. It worked! Cauliflower was on sale at the store this week and I decided to try making up a recipe. Soups are easy and are usually variations of the same thing. I was shocked at how delicious the soup was! I substituted corn starch and wheat free soy sauce in my version for my temporarily gluten free husband.

 Potato, Sausage & Spinach Breakfast Casserole 

from Bon Appetit


  • 16 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 12 ounces fresh breakfast sausage links
  • 2 cups sliced leeks, white and green parts only
  • 2 russet potatoes (1 1/2 lb.), peeled, shredded, and lightly squeezed
  • 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (4 oz.) grated Gruyère
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) grated Parmesan


  • Position a rack in top third of the oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk eggs, cream, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper in a large bowl; set aside.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a 12” cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook, turning often, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add leeks to skillet. Season with salt; cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, spreading out in an even layer. Cook without stirring until bottom and edges are crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Slide potato pancake onto a large plate. Invert onto another large plate. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in skillet. Slide potato pancake into skillet browned side up; cook until bottom is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Scatter spinach, leeks, and sausages over potato pancake, each in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in egg mixture. Sprinkle both cheeses over.
  • Bake until casserole is puffed and golden brown, 35–40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Tangerine-Maple Glazed Chicken Drumsticks


adapted from a recipe by Bobby Flay

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 quart tangerine juice or tangerine-orange juice, not from concentrate
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tangerine or orange, zested
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 16 chicken drumsticks
  • Salt
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish


Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat, add the onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the juice and thyme, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to approximately 1/2 cup, 20 to 25 minutes.
Strain the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the syrup, soy sauce, zest and black pepper and let cool to room temperature. Set 1/2 cup of glaze aside.
Turn broiler on high and move rack to middle of oven. Melt remaining butter and brush some on broiler to prevent sticking. Arrange drumsticks on broiler and put in oven for 1 minute.  Take drumsticks out and brush with butter, season with salt and pepper. Broil for 10 minutes. Take drumsticks out, turn and broil for another 10 minutes. Take drumsticks out and brush with glaze on both sides in the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Serve with reserved glaze as dipping sauce.

Cauliflower Parmesan Soup 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots,  chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower  
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the leaves and core from the cauliflower, chop, and set aside. Heat the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, bell pepper, carrot and celery. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower and garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside in large bowl. Over low-medium heat melt butter in soup pot and then add flour. Stir constantly until flour roux is golden brown. Return vegetables to soup pot along with stock and half and half. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and, using an immersion blender puree the soup and return it to the pot. Add the Parmesan and stir until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

our life in massachusetts

We have been planning this move for a long time. We've wanted to more space and a change of scenery and ever since I went to Massachusetts for my internship, it seemed like we could find what we want there. Now that Ben has been accepted to Veterinary school, passed his Masters in Wildlife at UW and my temporary job is over, it feels like we are already there mentally.

Our plan is to rent a place for a few months and learn the area and find exactly where we want to live. We want something that is rural, but with a downtown nearby. My ideal home will be an old farm that is in decent enough condition that we can move in and not have to remodel until Ben is done with school. It's important that it's in a farming area at least and has some outbuildings and is mostly flat. 

I want to start with chickens and ducks, but would eventually like to get some more animals for food. We haven't decided quite yet, but we are sure we don't want goats or anything that needs to be milked. But like I said, we will start with chickens and ducks and see how it goes. I also want space to plant an orchard and have large garden plots with enough space to plant edible perennials and medicinal plants.

While Ben is in school, I haven't yet decided what I want to do. I plan to work as a dietitian, but I've also been building my skills in dog training and am interested in dog massage, ttouch and more advanced training techniques. I would ultimately like to have my own training facility with a pool for conditioning and rehab and a variety of training programs. Of course it would have to be big enough for flyball!

We decided to name our future farm Spectrum Farm, which is the same name we chose for our dog kennel. This blog, just like "Our Life in Seattle" will be a record of Finley growing up, recipes, travels and projects we are working on. We have a lot of changes coming up and we are excited to share our stories.