Co-ops are the best. They all smell the same (spice and dirt). You end up buying things you never knew you wanted. You buy all the health food you could possibly imagine, only to find out it's just as bad for you as the regular crap you buy. But, you feel good doing it, right!?! Also, it's so perfect when you're waiting for the ladies room, and some stranger tells you to put your phone away because she can't be around cell phones. God bless!
My favorite Co-op is the one in Mount Vernon. There is a strong granola vibe there. It's possibly the best Co-op in Washington state. I say that because of the size, variety, amazing food bar, and gift shop upstairs.
Recently they opened a cafe next door. It's called C.Square. There's a deli, ice cream parlor, and a well lit, delicious cafe. I love indulging, and I really love indulging hen I get to pretend to be healthy. The art is local. The bar is stocked. It's a fun place to dine.
You want to be there right now, don't you? They have all the meats, all the cheeses. They have an amazing fig ice cream. I love everything about this place. If you have a sleepy weekend with no plans, please make this your plan. You won't regret it.
Who all here has heard of Dry January? If you haven't, it's a thing where people feeling guilty about their over indulgence, take January off and abstain from alcohol. It's kind of a New Year's resolution/body reset plan. In my humble opinion, it's a month some of us take to evaluate whether we're alcoholics or not. Am I participating? No! I'm a glutton through and through. I love all the foods, and all the drinks. Thinking about abstaining from anything I may want in the moment makes me angry on a physical level. That said, sometimes I would rather grab a tasty, well crafted soda, as opposed to something that is going to further bloat my liver. For those of you committing to Dry January, those who don't drink, and to those who just love a tasty beverage, this one is for you!
Pictured above is a grapefruit soda by Pok Pok Som, out of Portland. It's light, tastes very much of grapefruit juice (pulp floaties included), and at 90 calories it's not going to destroy your diet. Beer, wine, and spirits will most certainly make you fat if you don't practice moderation. Looking online, Pok Pok Som specializes in drinking vinegar. I'm not sure what that is, but I'm intrigued. Kombucha tastes like vinegar, and I like that stuff.
I see this stuff everywhere. People love to serve Dry. Sparkling at events that are sans alcohol. You can even buy some of their products in large 750ml "wine" bottles. I can see why it's so popular. The Rainier Cherry tasted most definitely of fresh cherry, not that nasty artificial candy flavor. It reminded me of sparking water with a hint of sweetness. At 60 calories a can, this one is our list's big winner if your resolution is weight loss related.
Oh Blue Sky! How I love you! Let me count the ways... This soda shaped my childhood. It's a part of many of my favorite memories. In fact, my all-time favorite lunch included: Blue Sky, Kalamata Olive bread, Mascarpone, and grapes. I guess it was the child's version of a winery picnic. Perfect for this post.
Blue Sky is a New Mexican soda, and up until recently, was not found outside of The Land of Enchantment. It was made with real sugar, no artificial coloring, etc. before that was even a thing. New Mexicans can out granola you any day of the week. I remember visiting Toronto in high school, and I was so excited to find it in this tiny shop I stumbled upon. Now you can buy it almost anywhere, because everyone is into "health food." Let's not kid ourselves, it's still soda. This one pictured is a whopping 180 calories a can, but it's probably not going to give you cancer or dementia, at least, I don't think so.
Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in or near Seattle, maybe it's because I love being an eternal tourist, but I love Seattle Center. I love the Space Needle, and how it peers over Lake Union when you're driving into the city going south on I-5. I love the Pacific Science Center (we frequently buy an annual membership. If you have kids, it's worth every penny). I love the newish Chihuly Garden. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever experienced. I love the International Fountain in the Summer, and the Winterfest Ice Rink in the Winter. I love the pan flutists, puppeteers, and moving statues. All that said, my favorite place to be at is the Armory.
Shocking, right!?! The Armory currently houses 17 different options for food and beverages, and while some of them are large chains (Starbucks), others are little tastes of local restaurants that are thriving (Skillet: Counter). Almost every time we're in the vicinity, we eat there. My husband's absolute favorite is Bigfoot BBQ. So, when we were at Key Arena a few weeks ago seeing Macklemore (obligatory name drop), we had to stop by.
We've eaten here several times before, and I've never ordered something I didn't like. Of course, you have to remember that I'm not terribly picky, but I do think they do a good job with their barbecue, which is the most important thing for a restaurant with their name. Honestly, my favorite thing about this joint is the atmosphere. If it's not too crowded, I recommend sitting at the bar/counter. You can then enjoy the faux wood cabin vibes they have carefully crafted. Who doesn't love a fake window with a view of the outdoor woods? Plus, I don't know if this is consistently true, but I've found that their staff usually has a great sense of humor. When we were there last, they kept saying "Oh, is that Macklemore?" and then standing back and watching the masses scramble. Love it!
Pictured above is the smoked chicken, smothered in Bigfoot's extra spicy sauce, beans, and a Bud. My hubby was warned to be careful with the spicy sauce. He didn't listen, and immediately realized his mistake. I don't know if this is always the case, but the beer was only $1.50. 'Murica! Any hoo, if you have the chance, if you're hosting out of town guests, if you also love Seattle Center, whatever the reason... If you're visiting Seattle Center, you should go to the Armory, and if you love BBQ and beer, go visit my friends at Bigfoot.
Most of you are aware of my vast and unending love for curry. Cook some meat and/or veggies in a spice laden sauce and pour it over rice or injera, and I'm there. A classic curry found on most Indian menus in America, and frequently the star of any Indian buffet, is Butter Chicken. Done right, it is simmered in all the best spices and fats for hours, until it melts in your mouth, and dances on your tongue. Done wrong it tasted like chicken nuggets in a cream of tomato soup. I'm crying just thinking about it.
I ventured out of my comfort zone four or more years ago, when my husband found a wonderful Indian cookbook at our local thrift store. It's called "What's Cooking Indian," by: Shehzad Husain. I asked my family what recipe they wanted me to try first. It was a unanimous vote for Butter Chicken. $30+ worth of spices later, I was intimidated, and shocked. You should be warned that if you don't regularly cook with Indian spices, then getting whole cardamom pods, garam masala, etc. is going to cost you. Once you have it though, it can last quite a while. So, plan on making curries on the regular.
This recipe will take you at least two hours to make, so carve out a lot of time. This is a common birthday request in our household. I mention that, because this is not a healthy dish. It is for special occasions, and is a common food at weddings or other great feasts. This is not meant to be an everyday meal, not unless your daily caloric allowance is way higher than mine.
Seen above are the onions sauteing in 7 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP oil, for a full half a cup of fat. We tend to make a lot of rice, and really love the sauce, and leftovers, so we double the sauce, but keep the chicken at the same amount. I'll spell out the whole recipe, with my notes, below. Doubling the recipe requires a very large pot. I recommend a Dutch Oven if you have one.
My favorite part is mixing the spices with the yogurt and tomato paste. It smells so good. You want to roll eight, bone-in pieces in the sauce until entirely coated, and add to your now caramelized onions. It's important that the chicken is not de-boned, because it's going to cook for a long time, and you don't want it to dry out. Dark meats are preferable. I like drumsticks and thighs because they are inexpensive cuts, and are easy for everyone to eat. Picking the chicken up with your hands is allowed. We pull out thick cloth napkins for this dinner.
While your chicken start to cook you'll want to chop up some green chiles and cilantro. I usually use a poblano or serrano pepper, because that's what I have available. You could use whatever green chile is available in your area, and is at your preferred spice level. As for the cilantro, I will confess that this used to be one of the foods I disliked. Then I learned that my distaste for the herb was genetic. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, but if you eat it enough, you can desensitize yourself. Which is exactly what I did, and now I love it!
Now there is more stirring, and simmering, and the addition of cream. Yes, there is more dairy! Not only is this a fatty dish, but it is not meant for those of you who are lactose intolerant. Apologies.
So, there you go. This is my New Year's gift to you all. I've had several friends request this recipe, and I've never taken the time to share it properly. I hope you enjoy. I think this would be a perfect meal for this evening, if you're scrambling at the last minute for ideas. Or it could be a perfect lunch/dinner for New Year's day. Cheers to you all, and a Happy New Year filled with love, joy, and delicious food!
Buttered Chicken *All credit to Shehzad Husain*
Ingredients *It's a daunting list, but mostly spices. Remember, you may want to double the sauce*
*Pre-Step: Make 2 cups of rice in a rice maker, or per the instructions on the bag. I won't micro-manage you.*
1: Heat butter and oil on medium-high until melted, add onion, and cook until onions are golden brown. Reduce heat
2: In a mixing bowl combine: ginger, garam masala, coriander, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, cardamom, peppercorns, yogurt, and tomato paste.
3. Piece by piece, place the chicken in the bowl of yogurt and spices. Coat each piece thoroughly, and add to cooked onions. *I scrape the last of the mixture into the pot when I'm done coating chicken.*
4. Stir-fry the chicken vigorously for 5-7 minutes.
5. Add the water and bay leaves, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
6. Add the cream, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
7. Garinsh with cilantro and chiles. *serve over rice*
Not to be a Grinch, a Bah Hum Bug, a general Debbie Downer, but for those of you that celebrate Christmas (as I do)... It's not Christmas. Christmas begin on December 25th, and lasts for 12 days, ending in January. That said, we are in prime Hanukkah season, and it is time to spread some Yuletide cheer. Which is why it's the perfect time to start buying, imbibing, and enjoying some of this winter season's best beer. Pictured above, is Pelican Brewing's Bad Santa Dark Ale. I must confess, that I am enjoying this beverage right now. It's dark, comforting, with a strong bitter aftertaste. I know that doesn't sound appealing to many of you, but if you're a dark beer drinker like me, then it can be quite satisfying. Pelican is based out of Oregon too, so as a Pacific Northwest consumer, you can feel good supporting their efforts.
Ya'll know I went to Wisconsin this Summer. I loved the cheese. I loved the people...the beer, not so much. Wisconsin beer, the Beer Barons beer, PBR and Milwaukee's Best, taste like moose piss. No I haven't had moose piss, it's just a guess. That said, I love a good shandy, and pomegranates are a holiday must. I was so excited to see that Leinenkugel made a Pomegranate Shandy. It's refreshing; it tastes delicious, and it tastes like Christmas (but it's not Christmas yet).
Ok, I saved the best for last. You need to know that I don't like lighter beers. I solely purchased this because it made me laugh. It made me think of Frank Zappa, and my Uncle Rick, who truly loves his music. I remember as a kid listening to "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." So, does this beer taste like dog piss? No! It's my favorite this season. It's light, but complex. You can taste the evergreen, but it's not overpowering. Rogue is hit or miss in my book, and this one hit the mark!
and a Warm Yuletide to you all!
Ermagerd! Look at that yolk though! A few weeks ago I went to lunch with my beautiful and hilarious friend, Lori. I walked the mile to the restaurant, and planned on eating mainly protein. Good diet plan, nah? Except, the menu had ramen... I also forgot that Lori eats like a bird, and I had to finish her tempura and Ahi tuna, because nothing angers me more than wasted food.
Everything was delicious. I did order the roe sashimi style, and that was a gross ball of salt. Even our server seemed put off. I don't have much to say, except the food is great. I ate too much. We had to censor ourselves a bit because it's a popular spot, and I know too many people in Everett. Oh my, I forgot to mention the restaurant name, J Ramen and Sushi...
I recently made, quite possibly, the best chocolate cake I have ever had. That said, if you don't like coconut, you should stop reading right now. Seriously, you should leave and go read one of my other fabulous posts. Also, if you don't like chocolate, why are you even reading a food blog at all? Unless you're my mom, and have a chocolate allergy, but love me enough to read this dribble. Ok, that's out of the way. We can begin.
My good friend, Michelle, recently told me through much laughter, that her husband asked if I was food obsessed. He started listing my food related activities: cooking/baking, Instagram food pics, this blog, watching competitive eaters on YouTube... What he probably doesn't know is that I also read about food. I love learning about new ingredients and the latest food trends. I have a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine (not sponsored) and I simply love cuddling up on a Saturday morning, and pouring through it, over a cup of coffee. Occasionally I even make the recipes they share. This particular cake spoke to me. It's a flour-less cake. Which means it's gluten-free, and because it's made with coconut milk, it's also dairy-free. Typically these are not things I would care about, but I knew that making a flour-less cake would mean it would turn out incredibly rich, fudgy, and an absolute chocolate dream. This cake did not disappoint. Here's the link to the recipe.
As you all know, I have a lovely kitchen elf that does things like greasing the cake pan with delicious coconut oil. You want all six of your eggs to be room temp. So make sure to take them out of the fridge a few hours early. I promise you won't die from this. You're going to bake them any way. Also, make sure to double boil your chocolate so it doesn't burn. We cheated and put a heat safe bowl in the pot of water.
Let's see, what other tips do I have for you... I especially love dark chocolate, so I used a dark cocoa powder, instead of milk. As you can see above, It creates a arguably appealing, almost black cake, and it came out clean because of the parchment paper. Make sure you buy parchment paper! I also used almond flour (I already had this from making macarons). Almond flour is pretty spendy, but if you want to save the time of grinding almonds yourself, this is the way to go.
The almonds-coconut clusters are optional, but I do think they're awfully pretty. The ganache is made with coconut milk, which I've never thought to do. It turned out perfectly, and would be a wonderful vegan frosting option. I will definitely be making that again. I want to pour it over all my foods, well, the sweet ones at least. I encourage you to try this recipe. If you do, please share, and always let your camera eat first.
I know. I'm two weeks late posting this, but better late than never, right? I did it. I overcame a long standing kitchen fear... I deep-fried something in oil. I'm pretty competent in the kitchen. Heck, I've made some wonderful and sometimes challenging recipes, from paella to macarons. I'm good at following directions, and using my intuition. However, oil is a constant struggle. I sauté things in oil all the time, and that usually works well, but I have been known to fall into autopilot and burn a pan of oil, by turning it to high like I'm boiling water, and then walking away. I've experienced more than one grease fire over the course of my home-cook career. I also have serious issues with oil splatter. I've been burned. I've ruined clothes. Not to mention, the shrieking that happens and startles the whole family.
You may be wondering why I would choose to deep-fry something based on my troubled history with the like. Two reasons really, I prefer to face things that frighten me (this sometimes takes a while), and my son's best friend was coming over. He'd just turned 13. His family is from Hawaii, and Malasadas are one of his favorite foods. Thankfully, as you can see pictured above, I have a kitchen elf that sifted all of the flour for me. Here's the link to the recipe I used, and I'll give you some added tips below.
Pictured above is the dough. On the right is what it looks like after two hours. You want it to rise enough that it doubles in size. That's the easy part. You can: watch TV, take a nap, paint your nails, plot to take over the world... The trick with this I think is that you do want a standing mixer like the original author suggests. I don't have one of those, because I'm cheap. I used a hand mixer and not only did it ball up like cement, crawl up the wands, and try to consume the rest or the mixer, but towards the end when I had finally added all of the flour, it spit dough all over my kitchen. That was fun to clean up. I guess, at least, my toaster got its annual scrubbing.
On the left, you see the finished dough balls, cut out and ready to be dunked. I loved the tip of putting them on parchment paper for the final rise, and then cutting them up, so you can use the paper to lower them into the oil. It's so simple, and prevented splash back. I didn't have a 2 inch biscuit cutter, so I used a small drinking glass. It worked perfectly. On the right, is about $6 worth of oil. Homemade donuts, similar to homemade clothes, are probably better quality and made with love, but they aren't less expensive. We live in an age where sometimes it's more cost effective to go with factory produced products. The recipe said to use 2 inches worth of oil in a dutch oven. I think you could get away with one inch to save some money and waste. The dough floats on the surface of the oil the whole time anyway.
Two minutes on each side, and Ta Da! You now have fresh donuts. We rolled them in cinnamon and sugar, and then filled them with coconut pudding (Haupia). Its obscene looking, right? I think you could easily make the pudding thicker by adding a little more corn starch so it's not so drippy. I followed the recipe to the letter, and she did warn that it's thinner than typical donut filling. Regardless, they were a hit. Everyone thought they were delicious, and I felt a deep sense of accomplishment. Would I do it again? Probably not. I can buy a dozen donuts for less money, and it'll take minutes to pick them up, as opposed to the four hours it took to make these bad boys. Still, it was a fun experience. I'm glad I faced my fear, and my house is still intact.
My close friend Michelle has been talking up Brazilian Steakhouses for a while now. Her economically comfortable parents had recent taken the whole family out, and all I heard was that the meat just kept coming! Based on this, my kids and I wanted to take my hubby out for Father's Day. Long story short, we ended up at P.F. Chang's instead, but the light at the end of the tunnel was my Father-In-Law. He's a classic meat and potatoes guy. So, when he came out for his birthday, we knew the time was right. I checked our credit limit, and my husband made reservations at Fogo De Chao in Bellevue. Did you know, in local sign language, Bellevue is a 'B' brushed up the nose? That's right! Even the Deaf community thinks you're stuck up. Love it!
I wasn't sure I wanted the "full experience" at first, hence my picture above. I took full advance of the "salad bar," so called Market Table. I got: hearts of palm, olives, roasted red pepper, watermelon, beets, soybeans, chicken salad, spinach, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, endives, and prosciutto. I then thought better, as did the rest of my table.
Mea Culpa! I was too photo shy to take a picture of the skewers of meat the gauchos bring out every five minutes. Needless to say, once I turned my card, and said I was ready for the full experience, the meat never ended. My son, who is squeamish about meat with the bone in, ate 4 pieces of lamb. Lamb! He ate a ton of baby animal... Every meat was perfect: chicken, bacon wrapped steak, lamb, and sausage. They also serve sides of delicious caramelized plantains, and creamy mashed potatoes.
The service was stellar, speedy, and they brought my Father-In-Law a birthday flan. I'm applying for a second job, but I will be back!
Disclaimer for those that know me personally, I did go to Wisconsin for work. I didn't take a solo vacation to the Mid-West. I know my food pictures and this post make it look glamorous. In reality, I was working 12-16 hour days without break. So, on the advice of a coworker I tried to make dinner a treat everyday.
Ah Wisconsin! Home to a strange and frighteningly large area of amusement attractions called The Dells. A land where every beer has a koozie, and the cheese is fried, and trust me, your going to need all that beer to keep things moving after all that cheese... I was fortunate enough to get to tour a few different areas of this beautiful, but beastly hot and humid state, and I made sure to take advantage of the local fare. I did not order seafood on principal. In hindsight, I could have ordered local fish, like trout, but I decided to stick to meats and cheeses. I think I made the right choice.
We'll start our journey in La Crosse, at (shocker) a Mongolian Grill. This shouldn't have happened, but one of the guys I ate with was skeeved out by the dive bar we started at. The "dive bar" that quickly filled with a middle-school baseball team. I'm sure it would have been great, but I aim to please. In all fairness, he did disclosed that he had plates in his face from a past bar fight. I guess I can't really relate.
Washington has plenty of Mongolian grill places, but I enjoyed HuHot Mongolian Grill for three reasons: 1. The three gentleman I was dining with had never had Mongolian Grill, and it was super enjoyable watching them figure it out, 2. Wisconsin has strange ingredients like peas and sausage, 3. I got to try this super tasty ale called Spotted Cow. Glarus Brewing Co. recommends pairing it with cheese curds, potato chips, and pork rinds. Love it!
The Hungry Peddlar is a La Crosse institution. By the time we left, there was a line, and every table was filled while we were there. This restaurant looked a bit sketchy, but the cute elderly couples everywhere told me in was a local favorite. The walls were all dark wood paneling, and we were seated by the bar, which was decorated with old beer cans. We're talking the steel, tin lined, kind you opened with a proper can opener.
I love that they bring you all of the carbs: bread sticks, crackers, rolls, and toasted garlic bread, as well as, radishes, pickles, and carrots. It's totally bizarre, but I'm not complaining. I ordered the lasagna, with a starter of french onion soup smothered in swiss (not pictured) because I'm a triathleat. I just coined that. That just happened. I want all the cheese, in the same way that some people want to climb all the mountains.
n'I think I may have left a bit of my heart at Moxie's. This is the bar & grill at the AmericInn in La Crosse. Clever name huh? See what they did there? Moxie's has daily specials, live entertainment, and you can hang out next to the fire-pit out back, order from the Tiki hut, and watch people play beach volleyball while the Black River flows by. Also, almost everything had cheese. Pictured top left, is the Moxie's tots. I call them totchos, because they're basically nachos with tater tots instead of chips. Napoleon Dynamite would be shook. Pictured top right, is a monstrous burger with not only thick cut bacon and cheese, but peanut butter as well, and I substituted fried cheese curds, because fries weren't artery clogging enough.
Next stop was Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, and a super hip college town ta-boot. For a list of the cheeses in this post's featured photo see the picture to the left. In Madison, I had my first, and only day off (I still had to attend a phone conference). It was a Sunday, and my new friend Ryan took me to brunch at Sardine, right on the shore of Lake Monona.
Sardine is straight out of Hollywood. It's where TV characters go for Sunday Funday. I almost ordered the duck salad, but thought better and had a proper plate of Wisconsin cheese. It was heavenly. The picture to the right, is the "Sconnie," a bacon, cheddar cheese burger, topped with a cheese curd skewer from the ever popular Cafe Hollander.
My final destination was Milwaukee. We had just picked up a colleague from the airport, and were headed to dinner at the top secret SafeHouse, when all traffic stopped. There was an accident in the middle of I-43, one car (blown tire), a woman crying, and a young boy hobbling around with a 2 year-old in his arms. I called 911 while my coworkers went to be heroes. Ryan held that little boy for over half an hour while EMS responded, and a family member showed to take the kids home. No one was wearing a seat-belt. Please wear a seat-belt, and make sure your children are buckled in too. The two-year-old was not in a car-seat even, and thankfully only had a fat-lip.
We went straight from the accident to dinner. None of us knew the password, so we were forced to do the Time Warp to prove we were secret agents in good standing. I ordered the License to Kill Mac and Cheese. Surprise, it was delicious! Although, I saw their burgers. I may need to go back... I've also since learned the passcode/password, but I'm not telling.
We're going to start moving quickly through these. I'm having a bit of good old-fashioned American guilt about my food intake this trip, and I'm sorry you have to read this much. Let's look at pretty pictures together. Above is Miss Katie's Diner. Many celebrities have eaten here, including Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton. I got the Hansen Plate, weird combo, but right up my alley: cottage cheese, steak, and fruit salad.
My final breakfast was at the Ambassador Hotel, at the newly opened restaurant, The Fitz. Those eggs are nestled on grilled slabs of cheese. That's right, slabs of cheese.
For my final meal, I went to the oldest family run restaurant in the U.S. Mader's was founded in 1902, and boasts a long list of celebrity guests, as well as, some tasty and traditional German treats. I had the Rheinischer Saurbraten, which is marinated for 10 days, and served with a ginger snap sauce, red cabbage, and spatzle. All in all, I worked a lot and ate a lot. It was a pretty good time.
I can count on one hand the foods I dislike, and I'll typically even eat those. Typically frugal, but I'll pay top dollar for an amazing/unique dining experience. Never passed up a free meal, which has led me to become the #36 ranked eater in Major League Eating. July 4th, 2020 will be my third time competing in the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island. I've been on ESPN. That's right people, I'm an athlete.