Summer Fluff Reading

I have some serious beach and pool lounging coming up (Palm Springs, Twin Lakes, Santa Barbara), so I thought it was time to lose myself in some easy, enjoyable, fluff reads. Now, mind you, these did receive excellent reviews on Amazon and are highly recommended by the ladies at one of my favorite sites: Go Fug Yourself. So, I think they're somewhat respectable.

Here's what I have lined up:

Got these from the Seattle library with almost no wait for my hold request. Imagine that!

This one, I actually had to buy! The Seattle library doesn't carry it - what snobs!

And, last, this is not uber-fluffy, but a good friend recommended it and I want to finish it before the movie comes out.

Now, I just need a lounge chair, swimsuit, sunblock, enormous sun hat and icey drink. Oh yeah, I think I can handle that.

A Very Seattle-ish Weekend

naked cyclists - elvis, originally uploaded by joshc.

Oh, Seattle, I love you sometimes. What a great weekend to enjoy all the charms and quirks of this city.

On Saturday, Pete and I walked down to the Fremont Solstice Festival and Parade. The parade kicks off with hundreds of naked bikers covered in body paint, followed by floats and groups ranging from funny to confusing to bizarre. If you are weird, then this is your day to show your true colors. And, guess what? We'll all celebrate you!

Then, we biked down to Safeco field to watch the Mariners win (!) against the Diamondbacks. We also conducted a very important taste test of sausage vendors outside the field. The conclusion: Mojo is our vendor of choice for their menu, their toppings (including banana peppers) and the song the vendor sings to people walking by. HOWEVER, we think the actual sausages at Al's may be a little better.

On Sunday, I became an ad hoc member of my neighborhood P-Patch. P-Patches are pieces of land in urban areas and neighborhoods where people can use small plots of land to grow gardens. They're run by the city and perfect for someone like me that lives in an apartment. I moved all my potted plants to an area of the P-Patch because they were recently kicked out of the common area of my building. (The nerve!). I'll have to post pics of the P-Patch soon - it's very charming and on a very steep hill.

Last, Pete and I celebrated the solstice and the first day of summer with a very summery meal of cherries, asparagus, salmon and bluebarb pie (that's blueberries and rhubarb).

Yea for Seattle! Yea for summer!

P.S. The pie was great but the crust was tough and not flaky at all. What did I do wrong? Too much water? Letting the unbaked pie get warm on my drive to Pete's?


Basic Brunch

Recently my officemate and I made brunch for our office. We used a couple classic recipes sent to me by good ol' Mom. (Thanks Mom!) Our menu: classic coffee cake, egg bake, fruit, coffee and juice. We received rave reviews and I promised I'd post the recipes online. So, without further ado . . .

Davenport Hotel Coffee Cake
The Davenport Hotel is a landmark in Spokane and huge source of community pride.

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream or light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cupe walnuts or pecans, chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Butter angel food pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix until smooth. Spread half of batter in the pan.

Combine the nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the batter in the pan. Add the remaining batter and sprinkle remaining nut mixture on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan, loosen sides with knife. Take it out with the 2 plate method. Turn it upside down on the first plate to get it out of the pan, then put the second plate on the bottom of the upside down cake and flip over.

Egg Bake
This recipe is from the Spokane Junior League cookbook. I'm not sure of the official name of the recipe or the book it came from.

1 pack refrigerated (not frozen) hashbrowns OR 2 cups chopped potatoes
9 eggs
1 16oz. container of cottage cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 1/2 cup diced ham (or other meat - I just used a little cooked bacon)
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

Cook potatoes in a skillet (my mom skips this step when she's using a package of refrigerated hashbrowns)

Spread potatoes in bottom of 9 x 13 pan. In a bowl, whisk eggs together and add all other ingredients. Pour egg mixture over potatoes.

Bake in the top of the oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.

Variations: Leave out the meat for a vegetarian dish. Substitute flour for a gluten-free option.


Awesome Asparagus

I'm FINALLY in Seattle for the next few weekends and that means one thing: Farmers Markets! I'm going to try to hit the University District market early on Saturday. And, I'm going to have to pick up a lot of asparagus because I seem to keep running into delicious asparagus recipes. I've posted links to some of them below.

Asparagus Stir Fry. I've actually made this one and it was delicious. I really liked how it combined mint with basil. This is from one of my new favorite food blogs: 101 Cookbooks.

Asparagus Salad. Again, from 101 Cookbooks, it combines asparagus and broccolini. A match made in heaven.

Pickled Asparagus. This was printed in the New York Times, but comes from the book Well Preserved, which I'd like to check out.

Asparagus Risotto. This was written up in the New York Times by Mark Bittman. I've recently become a big fan of his.

Pasta with Asparagus, Arugula and Ricotta. For those days when I'm craving pasta.


Summer Drinking

My official beer of Summer 2009: Green Lakes Organic Ale by Deschutes Brewing Company. It's light and tasty. And, it's even organic! I can't get enough - in moderation, of course.

My (current) wine of Summer 2009: Blue Fin Pinot Noir 2008. Wine snobs would probably turn up their noses at this. But I found it light, fruity and refreshing. And, it's only $3.99 at Trader Joes. I bought two more bottles last night!

Potential mixed drink of Summer 2009: May Flowers.

Let me give you a little background. I was in DC this weekend, reading the Washington Post. And, I noticed an article on summery mixed drinks. One seemed pretty simple and caught my eye because it was garnished with edible flowers. So pretty! But, even cooler, the recipe included information on making your own flower liquer. I think I'm going to try it with lavendar.

Here's the directions for making the liquer: Soak 1 cup of food-safe flowers (such as honeysuckle, violets, roses and elderflowers) or 1/2 cup lavender petals in one 750-ml bottle of vodka or neutral-grain alcohol. Let it sit for 7 to 10 days, then strain. Add up to 1/2 cup sugar (to taste); stir until dissolved. The article mentions that you can get these flowers at Whole Foods.

And, here's the recipe for May Flowers and a link to the article.

May Flowers
Adapted from Alice Gaber, bar supervisor of Firefly restaurant in Washington DC.

2 ounces gin, preferably Bluecoat American Dry gin
2 ounces Riesling
2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 ounces flower liqueur, such as Creme de Violette or St-Germain elderflower liqueur (may substitute homemade lavender liqueur)
Edible flowers, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the gin, wine, juice and liqueur. Cover and shake well, then divide among cocktail (martini) glasses. Garnish with petals of edible flowers.


Meet in the Middle for Equality

Milk shirt

I was able to attend Meet in the Middle for Equality on Saturday, an event for marriage equality in Fresno. It was a gathering filled with positivity, hopefulness and love, but with an undercurrent of an intense energy to change things in California and the U.S. Under a beautiful blue sky and bright sun, thousands of people gathered to listen to speakers such as Christina Chavez, granddaughter of Cesar Chavez; Dustin Lance Black, Milk screenwriter; and many others representing the NAACP, faith communities, straight supporters and LGBT groups. Earlier in the day, a smaller group marched 14 miles from Selma, Calif. to Fresno. I met them at 6:30 a.m. as they loaded into vans and RVs, and couldn't believe the excitement and happiness everyone shared at that time of the morning.

You can check out a few photos on my Flickr page (link on the right side bar), and there are some great articles and photos sets from the San Francisco Chronicle and LA Times.

There were about 40 speakers at the rally; here are a few that stood out to me:
I also learned that groups from across the country are planning a huge event in DC on October 10-11. And . . . I'm seriously thinking of going. Anyone want to join me?

We live in America, and we all have the right to our own opinion on this issue. But, I don't think we have the right to impose our moral or religious beliefs on others. I'm not saying everyone has to support marriage equality, but we live in a country where people of all beliefs and backgrounds should have equal access to the pursuit of happiness - which includes marriage. As Dick Cheney said recently, "Freedom means freedom for everyone." So, let's just live and let live people. Amen.

OK, I'll stop being political now and go back to cooking, travelling, gardening, etc.