Thursday, January 31, 2008
I can't listen to somebody dissin' a restaurant like that without going there myself and forming my own opinion, that's not fair, I gotta give 'em a chance.
Tonight my sister and I gave them the chance they so deserve and let me tell you, they passed with flying colors...from the moment we walked in the door.
The hostess greeted us immediately and was very personable, she thought she recognized me but I had to tell her I'd never been there before. Okay...I'll admit, I'm approaching 50 and feeling a little invisible, so even mistaken recognition makes me feel a little better about my presence.
We didn't have time to have a full dinner so we chose to sit in the bar and have salad and appies.
There was no waiting around and looking for waitstaff, our server Kara was right there to greet us and take our drink order, she came back with menus. Sissie and I don't really need menus at the Black Forest but I think I spotted a few things on the Bellingham menu that aren't on the menu in Everson. The ceasar salad was perfect, Black Forest ceasar salad always makes me happy. The romaine was bite size, I know that sounds silly but I hate big hunks of lettuce that you have to fold and wrangle into your mouth...hellooo...sooo unladylike. The ceasar dressing at the Black Forest is crazy good, I've had the recipe in my bag of tricks for more than twenty years...but I would never share it. My mom gave it to me and she got it from her Black Forest friends, I just wouldn't feel right passing it on.
Sissy had the Prawns Tropaz appetizer and it just might have been better than Everson, we're crazy about the sauce on the Prawns Tropaz. Her prawns were swimming in that wicked rich stuff. She asked for a slice or two of their naughty-good bread so she could enjoy the rest of that incredible sauce. I have the Prawns Tropaz recipe too but you guessed it...not in my sharing file.
I ordered the Calamari with Aioli, The Husband and I almost always order calamari if we see it on a menu, it's something we share, a love of calamari...but the aioli has to be good. Once in a great while a restaurant will give me plain old mayo and try to pass it off as aioli....goofballs. The aioli at the Black Forest is great, it's a little heavy on the lemon but not in a bad way, it was lovely. The batter on the calamari is very light, batter is probably the wrong word...it's more of a dusted coating...yum.
So my friends, if you have heard those nasty rumors about the new Black Forest in Bellingham...don't believe it! Go there yourself and enjoy! If you sit in the bar and are lucky enough to have Kara for your waitress even better. Kara is charming and efficient, an absolute delight.
I made this right after Thanksgiving when there was a whole lot of leftover turkey. It's great served with a spinach salad that has a sweet dressing and maybe some sliced oranges.
Here we go:
Turkey Sage Chowder
4 bacon slices, coarsley chopped
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound red potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces...I leave the peels on
2 cups whole milk, sometimes I use cream..I'm a dairy farmer...don't go there
1 cup chicken broth, the original recipe called for low salt broth...I think it tastes metallic
so I use regular organic broth from Trader Joes
6 Tablespoons real butter...DAIRY FARMER!
6 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage, I have it in my garden...you could use dried
2 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey
Cook the bacon in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. I love my 8 quart Belgique pan, it's perfect for soups like this. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Don't clean that pan! Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes, remove the onions from the pan and set them aside.
Melt the 6T of butter in this pan 'til it's bubbly, but don't let it burn. Immediately add the 6T of flour, with your heat at medium take a big baloon whisk and get busy whisking
...for at least five minutes until that butter/ flour mixture starts to smell wicked-good and turns a pretty golden color. This is called a roux, I taught my sister how to make a roux and once she did it she told me that she thought that this stuff could make any soup yummy.
Make sure you don't take a shortcut on the roux, the combination of heat/butter needs time to change the chemical make-up of the flour....you don't want your chowder
to taste like flour paste, what a waste! Uh...trust me...I've done it and it was a sad day.
Okay...on with the show. It's time to add the milk but don't do it all at once, add it in a slow stream while whisking, if you've never done this don't be freaked. The first splash of milk will sizzle and your roux will look like paste...just keep whisking and adding and whisking and adding. Your soup will be yumy and creamy if you do it slowly...you don't want lumpy gumpy soup do you?
Mix in the potatoes, broth, and 1 Tablespoon of sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally....about 10 minutes. I watch the soup really closely to make sure it doesn't scorch...that would be such a huuuge bummer, I use my whisk for this but I'm a whisk girl...love that whisk. Add the turkey meat, bacon and remaining 1 Tablespoon sage. Simmer until heated through, stirring (not scorching) for about
4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
The original recipe is from Bon Appetit, I've made some minor changes to suit my taste.
I make a double batch of this soup and freeze it...nothing makes me happy like a whole bunch of delicious homemade soups in the freezer, especially when it's cold and snowy outside.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This weekend we picked up another book called Breaking Bad Habits in Dogs, I guess that tells you that these books in the photo above didn't provide me with the answers to all of the questions I had....and that our visitor was proving to be a bit of a challenge.
Kita the foster dog left today. I already miss the goofy little (ok...biggg) love bug.
Kita's last 24 hours here were crazy,challenging, exhausting, maddening, frustrating and finally...just a little bit dangerous.
Kita is big, strong and young. He is an 82 pound jumping, pouncing, dancing, happy dog....add some snow and Kita gets crazyyyy! Happy, crazy, jumping, pouncing wild dog crazy! But loveable crazy. Kita didn't like to be alone so he broke his crate that he was supposed to be sleeping in on Monday night, then he decided the best thing to do was to body-slam the french doors in the living room. Nothing broken. This body slamming was his curtain call after two hours of howling and crying, I was sure there were evil trolls shoving splinters under his nails. When I came downstairs to check on the crashing sounds he greeted me with his usual love and affection. We took him upstars and settled him down on a dog bed in our room....he zonked out...that is to be expected after putting on that kind of a show.
Yesterday we went out back for our afternoon walk , he had so much fun playing in the snow. But then it got wild, wilder than I have ever seen this boy. We had been experimenting with a little off-leash time in very small doses in safe areas of the farm with good results. I had decided that he was too worked up for off leash play and was hooking him back up when he broke away and started running around in circles. Well...the circles got wider and he got wilder. After jumping over and under fences, a short excursion onto a frozen manure lagoon the kid headed for the barn. He started chasing cows, and then he chased some more. The cows here aren't used to dogs so they were pretty worked up. I was trying to dodge stampeding cows while sweet talking Kita to get cose enough to me so I could catch him and get him out of there. It was scary, a freakin' scary rodeo.
When I finally caught him he was covered in cow manure, as was I. My face was splattered with cow crap, so was my ski coat, my cute bula fleece hat, my pretty leather gloves I bought in Italy, my cool apres-ski boots....waaaaaa!!!!
But nobody got hurt, no cows have broken legs, Kita didn't get kicked..although he deserved it. We gave Kita two baths last night and he still stinks ..he stinks baaadddd. My house stinks, we couldn't leave him outside last night because it was cold and snowy and he was a drowned poopy rat. The trek from the back door to the bathroom is a short one but somehow that smell seemed to permeate the whole house. We scrubbed him but good, that smell just won't go away.
Today his case worker came to pick him up. He knows her and looooves her, he showed her how much he loves her by his non-stop jumping and by doing his best to knock her down so he could kiss and lick her face. We had a nice long visit over lattes and he had a chance to settle down, he even took a little nap at her feet. She understands the fact that we can't have a dog here that chases cows, it's dangerous. If the cows had been in a pasture yesterday they would have gone through fences and who knows where they would be by now. The chase scene yesterday was in the barn with good strong gates that are held shut by chains, I was so thankful for those chains.
He is a sweet sweet dog, he followed me from room to room in the house. He will be a wonderful dog for someone. He's smart, in the two weeks he was here we were able to completely house train him with one minor accident. He was responding very well to verbal commands and hand signals, I was even whistle training him with some success....unfortunately if you add snow, a few tweety birds and some cows to distract this guy, things can go downhill faster than I can scream
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Chicken and Apples in Cider and Cream, I even bought the groceries for it. Yesterday mom called early in the afternoon and asked if I had plans for dinner. I told her that I knew what I was going to make but hadn't started it yet. She had made a whole bunch of Chicken Kievs and wanted to know if I wanted to stop by and pick a couple of them up so that The Husband and I could have them for dinner. That was pretty much a no brainer for me.
We love Chicken Kiev, but it's only for special occasions. In the fall of 1975 Mrs. R, my home ec teacher had the class make a White House dinner. I went home and got busy in the kitchen duplicating that White House dinner for my parents and siblings, it was a huge hit. We all decided that we would like to have the same White House dinner for our Christmas dinner that year, we've been having Chicken Kiev for Christmas dinner ever since. The last few years my sister and I have been going over to moms on Christmas Eve morning to help prepare the Kievs. Okay...I'll confess, my sister and mom do all the work and I show up late, I drink coffee and visit with them while they do all the work. It's tradition!
So here's how I made Chicken Kiev yesterday.
The Husband and I went to town, he dropped me off at moms and I visited with her for a bit while The Husband ran a few errands. The Husband came back to pick me up a short time later, we left her house with two Kievs and a stick of Imperial margarine (eeks...that was hard for me to type)...this house is a "margarine fee" zone. We were dairy farmers for twenty-plus years so m@#*@#*#@* is a dirty dirty word. When I got home I threw some m in a pan, got it all hot, dropped in the Kievs and browned them 'til they were all pretty and golden. I put them in a baking dish and they went into the oven for 12 minutes at 375.
And here you go...TA DAAAA. I don't know why we don't have Chicken Kiev more often...it's just so easy to make.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Diane lives in the big city, she drives a cute little convertible, she works downtown and one day a week she's on the radio with her own show - it's all about jazz - Diane loves jazz.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Today at sundown hunting season
will officially be over, the ducks
and I are very happy. I'm so
happy I'm almost doing the
"happy dance". I don't know
what the ducks are doing, oh
yes I do...they're running,
well I guess not running...but
they're definitely hiding. It's
not that I don't like hunters..
hunt all you want, I just don't
want to watch. I don't like to
hear your guns at the (barely)
crack of dawn.
The first photo here is the field I see
when I look out my front window,
I'm looking east. This was a corn
field, ducks love corn fields...I love
ducks. I love it when they fly over
me when I'm working outside in
the fall, quacking away. I love to watch
them when they fly in formation....
that is just so dang cool....oh wait...
it's geese that fly in formaiton.
I like geese a lot too. Just so ya know.
I love looking at these mountains in
the distance almost as much as I like
the aforementioned birds...maybe more.
The next photo here is "out back". This
would be looking to the west. This is our
field, the renter planted it in corn...ducks
how much I love ducks? They have the
most beautiful coloring, well...the boys do,
the girls are kind of plain...but it's a pretty
kind of plain. That is our old hay wagon in
the picture. I thought it would make the
photo of the corn field look so much cooler,
interest, some perspective...so much better
than just looking at a muddy snowy corn
This last photo is of a duck hiding in my
front yard at the edge of the stream ...okay,
most folks call it a ditch...but it has some
really big fish in it to be called a lowly ditch.
Hide Mr. Duck! It's only a few
more hours until sundown!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Once we finished dismantling the calf pens and everything had been pressure washed, we put some plywood on the exposed walls, Papa Jack put in some cool old windows and I painted the walls in colors I wouldn't dare to use in the house. The ceiling and the rafters were still gross, thirty years of calves and dust and flies and spiders and a few other critters I don't really like to think about had taken a toll. Up the ladder I went with a bucket of soapy bleach water and a scrubby sponge, then....a brainstorm...I decided to paint clouds on the ceiling and in the peak of the end walls. I'd never really done any kind of artsy painting before, but one afternoon I went up the ladder with some leftover paints and did I ever have fun! I was out there all by myself giggling 'cuz I was so happy with the outcome. Well...about four years have passed since that giggly afternoon, sad to say this project has been in a holding pattern since then. Every once in a while I climb the ladder with a bucket of soapy bleach water and do a bit more scrubbing, then climb back up with a bucket of primer but hokey pokeys Bertha...this is gonna take forrrr-everrrrrr at the rate I'm going.
It's a really fun room, there is a wood stove and a big desk, a few big work tables. There is a really funky old yellow velvet couch and matching chairs circa 1973. I use the big work tables out there to make my flower arrangements from all of the flowers growing in my yard, I can be as messy as I want! We always have a pumpkin carving party out there with some friends and their kids, and this year I had a wreath making party the day after Thanksgiving with some lovely ladies...that was so much fun. But... wouldn't it be cool if the whole ceiling was painted with clouds? Perhaps I should set a goal for a completion date...perhaps September...yeah...September....of 2012...that sounds reasonable.
There are approximately 439 more projects around the farm just like this one. I am never ever bored. All I have to do is turn my head ten degrees and I can find something new to do. Isn't that just lovely? Ayyyeeee....what was I thinking?
I think we should move to a condo.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Perhaps my fondness for older homes started with my fascination with my grandparents homes. All of my grandparents have passed away but I still fondly gaze at their houses if I happen to pass by, I am so thankful that the current owners of these lovely homes are taking good care of them like my grandparents did.
I don't know who owns the house in the photo above, but when I spotted this home about fifteen years ago it was love at first sight. I think it's because it has the same roof pitch as my own old house, and the same style of dormers. That's where all of the similarities end. My house is the plainest Jane ever, I call her Old Jane. Old Jane is sturdy...her floors don't slope, her roof doesn't leak, her pipes rattle a little but they're in prety good shape. But Old Jane just "aint purty" like her cousin Janelle LaBelle from the next valley over.
Janelle LaBelle is what my house could be, but it would be a task equal to turning an ugly duckling into a swan. Janelle LaBelle has bay windows and a beautiful front entry porch with an arch! An arch I say! Janelle LaBelle has those really cool knee brace things up by the eaves, she has the exact same siding as Old Jane but Janelle LaBelle has decorative vents .... oh how I love decorative vents. Thirty years ago somebody who will remain nameless put aluminum framed windows (yeck, bleck, poohey) in two of Old Janes upstairs bedrooms...that was a sad day for Old Jane.
The Husband and I are talking about spending a lot of money to fix up Old Jane. Aw heck, we're been talking about this for at least five years. She'll never look like her cousin Janelle LaBelle but I think that it would be a good thing for Old Jane, I'm just not convinced it would be a good thing for me. I have a really serious problem with what I call "major purchase anxiety", but I won't go into that right now....that is a completely different subject....a completely different blog...we don't really even want to "go there".
Poor Old Jane.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Around the farm this wild (hey...I'm creeping towards 50...that's as wild as it gets these days) kitchen activity is known as a cook-a-rama. "The Husband" is totally cool with this type of meal set-up. There are some guys out there that want a meal fresh off the stove every evening, I'm so very glad I'm not married to one of those dudes.
I've been known to spend four days straight in the kitchen. We have a large collection of plastic containers, the fruits of my labor go into the containers, the containers get labeled to identify the contents and the date...and TAAA DAAAAA....meals for days, or weeks...depends on the cook-a-rama. The cook-a-rama record so far is 64 days worth of meals....waaaahoooo.
Nothing makes me happier than going out to the freezer and seeing the door full of these containers. Yippieeeee!
This little collection in the photo is a beef-a-rama...I think this weekend feels like a chicken-a-rama, or maybe a soup-a-rama.
Time to cruise the cookbooks, sharpen the knives and get out the crockpot.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
could I have your
would ya mind
lookin' away from
I mean come onnnn,
now if you could
follow me for a moment
here. Just put that
lap-top down for
cryin' out loud, what
on earth could be so
that you don't have the
time to come and
help a poor big
puppy get his ball
out from under
this piece of
Saturday, January 19, 2008
these boots for Christmas,
they are sooooo cute.
The girls...annd the boots!
Oh....I remember a long long
time ago when I was young
and shoe shopping was so
There were only two questions.
Are they cute?
Can I afford them?
These days, it's a whole new system.
Do my orthotics fit in them?
Can I walk for more than five minutes in them?
Do they hurt my sore toe?
Do they feel stable or will I roll an ankle?
If the answer is yes to all of the above....the
shoes are NOT cute...but I buy them.
out in the tree in the front yard today.
He did a fly-by through the back yard,
that was pretty cool...the odds of catching
that with my camera are....uhhh...zero!
But this "little" guy, he sits nice...plays nice. He's
also visiting, he's from the Alternative
Humane Society. Sometimes he's a little
shy with new people...but not always! Mom
came over today and he was verrryyy
pleased to meet her, it was love at first sight.
My sister was here too, he was a bit reserved
with her at first, but in no time at all he was
snuggled up at her feet. He looks a whole lot
like our dearly departed Tippy, he's very
sweet just like Tippy was.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
My house has been so sad and quiet the last two days I can hardly stand it. I keep looking for him, almost calling him to the kitchen for trimmings from a roast beef...oh how that boy loved roast beef! He didn't have a naughty bone in his body. I can count his "accidents" on one hand and that was really our fault for not taking him outside at the appropriate times. He never put a mark on any of my furniture, never chewed on a single thing. He never took anything off of my counter tops...I could leave ten pounds of beef out to thaw and he wouldn't think of touching it. He sat by my side all day if I worked in the yard, always placing himself between me and the direction from which someone might approach....ever the protector. He never dug a hole in my flower beds although one time I encouraged him to dig for a mole...he thought that was really fun. I spoiled him, treated him like a king....but he deserved it...he treated us with respect and adoration.
Wednesday evening I took him out for his evening break, he was dawdling so I came back to the house. Less than five minutes passed, I called him a few times but unknown to me he had chased a mink into the road and got hit by a vehicle and was killed instantly. The mink died too. That was the second time in the six years he lived here that he went out into the road, the first time he went on the road he got a severe scolding. I so wish I could scold him again.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Last night I coerced a few of my Seattle gal pals to go with me for a pre-party cocktail at this oh-so-popular watering hole.
The drive to the city was a drag, seems to be the way things go for me these days. Rainy, windy, high traffic volume and the dreaded amber sign that read "accident ahead...expect long delays" grrrrrr. I took a detour but I think that was just as nasty, a lot of people seemed to have the same idea. I had allowed for extra time considering I was heading to the city on a Friday afternoon, I arrived safe and sound...just a little traffic-frazzled. We hopped into a cab and headed into the city...and whoooopppss....we were early. Zig Zag doesn't open til 5 and we were there 15 minutes too early. We managed to waste that time at a nearby trendy furniture store and got right back to our destination shortly after the doors opened.
We grabbed three seats at the bar and to my delight I saw Murray behind the bar. Yayyy! Just as all of his press attests to, Murray is a delight. He's so much fun to watch, to observe his mixology skills is like watching poetry in motion. The man is a master. But Muray isn't just about mixology, he's a people person. I wasn't there for long before I noticed that every cocktail that Murray makes is also a game of mix and match....the man mixes to match each person at his bar. A little chatting about what you like, don't like..such fun. All with a smile, a little geography, a bit of history....what a treat.
If this sounds like something you'd like to try, get there at 5. The seats at the bar fill up in minutes and watching Murray at work is worth being on time.
I'll definitely go back, I hear the food at Zig Zag is pretty good too!
Friday, January 4, 2008
I've been celebrating Christmas with an "After Christmas" party with my Seattle gal pals for a few years now. We used to go to the Metropolitan Grill for dinner, when I quit my job and was spending much less time in the city we all decided it would be a nice change to meet in La Conner for a casual meal and some shopping. This year we're headed back to the Met...it's always a great time. One of my girlfriends has worked there for several years so it seems like we get the royal treatment. Loooove that!!!
We do a gift exchange and sometimes we've made our gifts, Diane knits and makes jewelry, Lynne is an artist and Susie is crafty but is also our go-to girl for teckie stuff. Below is a photo of some Limoncello I made this year. We've all been to Italy together and so I thought it would be nice to make something traditionally Italian. I made the labels with a Zig Painty pen, it was fun and easy. What a coincidence! We're meeting for pre-dinner martinis at Zig Zag Lounge.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
By the end of the holiday spree I'm starting to fizzle a bit in the kitchen. The tradition with this gang is a huge spread of appetizers and desserts ... if you saw the food table you would understand why there is no need for a main course.
I made Asparagus Rolls, Spiced Shrimp and these little Shrimp One Bites. The Shrimp One Bites are a variation of something my friend Karen makes. Karen makes them with filo cups and plum sauce. I made a quick run to the grocery store Saturday afternoon and they didn't have the filo cups....drat!. Hmmm, what to do? Puff pastry? Too much poof. Make my own filo cups? I'm fizzzlinggggg, not today. So, off to the refrigerated case I went and grabbed some ready-made pie crust from that giggling little dough boy.
Saturday evening I cut little circles out of the ready-made pie dough and baked them in my mini-muffin tins. What I ended up with were nifty little pie crust cups which I popped in the fridge. Sunday I filled the cups with Philly cream cheese with onion and chives, topped that with a chilled shrimp and then a dollop of cocktail sauce.
There is always a LOT of food at this party, and lots of leftovers. My trays? Empty! I love it when that happens. Thanks for the inspiration Karen :-)
It's a couple of magazines waiting for me!
Is it Garden Design or Bon Appetite?
Either of those, such a wonderful treat.
Trinkets and treasures from Pottery Barn,
blankets and pillows pretty with yarn.
Seed catalogs maybe, spring's on the way
I've been dreaming of lettuce fresh every day!
But what do I gaze at to my great dismay?
Not something I'd ever want to display.
I'm sure these are loaded with wonderful tips,
but unladylike words just left my lips.
I'm not at all happy, can't say I'm sad.
It's not that either of these mags are bad.
It's just not exacly what I'd hoped to see!
A mag all about cows and their pooh and their pee?
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Resolutions. I usually just pick one word. Two years ago it was *stretch*. Last year is was *move*. My friends joke that I inject more action verbs into my conversations than most people, they're right. This year I haven't given my word for the year a lot of thought...I guess it usually just jumps (action verb) out at me. I'm waiting for the jump but perhaps it's not going to...maybe it's already here. Perhaps I should pay more attention to my thought process. Sit still long enough without all of the distractions...sure enough...the word has been here all along. *FOCUS* Helloooo.
Several days ago The Husband noticed that I had a tail light out in my car. When he got home from work the next day he asked me to help figure out which light it was because he couldn't remember. Left? Right? On his way out the door to go to town to get the new part, he turned around and came back in and asked me "did you say you needed new wiper blades?"... I know it doesn't seem like a whole lot to some people....but I love that kind of thing. Those little tiny thoughtful gestures that people do for one another, not just husbands and wives - - but friends, neighbors, parents, kids....and hopefully ...once in a while....strangers. We've just experienced "the season" of peace and love and joy, most of the people in my life are great about reaching out, I love it...it's so inspiring. While I was out shopping the past few weeks I decided I was going to try to have a really good experience with every clerk I dealt with...not only that but to make real eye contact with them, make it as much about them as it was about me (gee..can ya tell I spent a lot of time working retail?)and ya know what? I had a great time...I think they did too. I guess I started using my new word a couple of weeks ago without even knowing it.