Thursday, May 31, 2012

Springtime in our back yard - a little dirt never hurt anyone

I'm still digging dirt out of Lorelei's fingernails after having her help me plant a bunch of veggies and herbs tonight. My neighbor Tracy has been kind enough to let me spill into her yard and share her newly-forged garden bed.
Recovered and well gnawed on popsicle sticks.
Lorelei helped get it up and running.
You see, my back yard is a slab of concrete. I love it for oh so many reasons: Sidewalk chalk, basketball, no lawn to mow. You know, important things in life. But I do miss having even a little spot of earth to plant some things in the springtime from where I can graze off of when I'm cooking dinner (and when I've forgotten to pick said ingredient(s) up at the store.)

(That sentence made me dizzy. You OK?)

Anyhoo, Here's what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks/months.

Lets see if the plants can survive basket ball season...

Basil, two tomatoes, pumpkin starts in the red pots, and onions and carrots back there in the dirt.

It's not the prettiest garden, but I'm pretty happy about what's coming up. To quote Lorelei, "Yum mama! This is gonna be goon and num num!"

Happy Spring everyone.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet memories and a sad goodbye

My Grandmother Odette died today of complications of a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was eighty-eight years old... I think.

I didn't know my Grandmother well. I'm a 40-year old woman and I haven't spoken to her in 20 years. I'm not sure why. As my Daddy always says, "The phone works both ways." Well, maybe I should have picked up one of the two ends of the line.

Anyhoo, I would like to share some things that I will remember about her until my last day:

She was a dancer. Ballet. I always loved that she was a dancer and that I was too.

She spoke French. Turns out, I do too. I even have a degree in it.

She made me Sarah Lee cakes for my birthday. You're right, they weren't the gastronome's dream but they tasted damn good with melted birthday candle wax on them.

Her hair was perfectly kept in the 1960's. She had a weekly hair appointment and apparently slept sitting straight up, I say this because her hair, at least whenever I saw it, was always perfectly in place.

She always had strawberry candies in the bottom kitchen drawer. They were those strawberry-patterned, cellophane-wrapped hard candies with the soft center; but hers had clearly been there for a good long while because the hard candy shell had softened ever so. I loved that about her candy drawer.

She screamed a raspy "AACK"when something would spill or fall. I am happy to say that my Aunt Karen and I share that same call of surprise when something goes awry.

She always smelled pretty.

She called me darling.

She was a small woman. I suspect that I would have towered over her in my adult years and broken her in half had I chosen to sit on her for any reason. The first time I ever hear the phrase, "She wouldn't weigh a hundred pounds if she were wet!" was in reference to her.

In retrospect, there are a lot of, "Woulda', shoulda', coulda's" in the subtext of this note. All in all, though, I see a lot of myself in (what I knew of) my Grandma Odette. And I like that... very much.

I have and I will miss her. Rest in peace, Grandma. Visit me in my dreams, will you?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Please Help Me - Donations for a good cause

In January I was asked by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to be one of just a few ambassadors for the upcoming The Food Revolution Day on May 19th. I joined the ranks of The Real Food Advocates (see a full list all of the ambassadors below) and promised to raise $500 dollars to donate to food education programs sponsored by The Food Revolution people.

Yeah, I know... it's May 13th.

Truth be told, in January I was spending all of my time looking for work. This blog suffered a bit (in that I all but stopped posting stories and recipes), and, frankly, life was taking all of my time.

So here I am, 6 days away from the event and I'm just now asking for your help.

Please Help Me Reach My Goal
of raising $500

Here's some verbiage from the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation about this fundraising effort:

"All money raised will go towards funding the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation's Food Education Program. The Food Education program funds all projects of the Food Foundation including their network of Food Revolution kitchens, the Food Revolution Cooking Classroom Big Rig, Training tools and education for the Food Revolution community leaders, Groceries and supplies for the cooking classroom, School Kitchen Garden pilot program and an overall growth of their grassroots movement. Every donation you make helps the Food Foundation continue to work and improve the health prospects of the next generation."

If you would like to donate through the PayPal Donate button below, this will be the one way that I will be able to track my personal funds raised.

If you prefer to donate to the cause directly, you may do so via the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution button below. I won't get personal credit for these funds, but I'm ok with that. As long as they get the money.

Check out these pages if you have any more questions:

The Food Revolution Day website

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. You support will be much appreciated and will help a lot of people.


Here's a list of the other ambassadors that are working toward this common goal of raising awareness and funds for this great cause:

Friday, May 4, 2012

A simple recipe for Cinco de Mayo - Ceviche

I may have grown up in California, but I've learned more about Mexican food working is a pseudo French restaurant in Seattle than anywhere else. You see, kind readers, one of the owners of the restaurant is half Mexican and she has a lovely spell over the guys in the kitchen. They make Chile Reillenos, insanely good egg dishes with fresh salsa, and (Heaven on Earth) Ceviche.

Ling Cod Ceviche with mango, poblano pepper, onion, and cilantro, served with tostadas.

I learned to love and really appreciate Ceviche at this restaurant. If you're not familiar with the Ceviche, it's the acid-'cooked' fish dish that'll bring any real fish lover to there knees. No kidding. When the season is right, and the fish is fresh, there is nothing, and I mean nothing that tastes more sweet, savory, tart, tangy, and superbly fresh as Ceviche.

I tried my hand at making it the other night because, well, I needed something fresh and springy; it's still only 47º in Seattle and it's this time of year that Seattleites are forced to substitute sunshine in their food due to the lack of said orb in the sky. I knew Lorelei would eat it (it's fish served with crunchy things, after all).

So I went to my fish monger and asked what the freshest and cheapest fish was that day. The Ling Cod looked the best. I grabbed a half of a pound and headed on home with that and the rest of my fresh ingredients and had at it.

1/2 lb fresh white fish, diced: Cod, Dole, Snapper, Prawns or even Scallops
4 limes, juiced
1 Poblano pepper, finely diced
1/2 Mango, finely dices
1/2 White onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped coarsely
Salt to taste


1) Juice the limes: I learned a trick from my boss. The best way to get all you can out of a lime it to ream it with a fork. Insert a fork into the center of the pith when, while firmly squeezing the lime in one hand, make a rocking motion with your two hands.
There will be nothing left to give after you're done.
2) Cut the fish into 1/2" cubes. Immediately place the fish into the lime juice. Be sure that all of the meat is submerged in the liquid because this is what will cook it.*

3) Chop the onion, pepper, and mango into 1/8" pieces and set them aside 
TIP: Here's a tip on how to cut a mango. 

Mangoes are slippery little beasts. The easiest way that I've found to cut it into small pieces is to score the flesh with the tip of a knife while it's still in the skin then scoop it out with a large spoon.

The same can be done with avocados, a similarly slippery fruit.

TIP: For cutting your pepper, slice it in half, pull out the seeds and white bibs, then turn it cut-side down and flatten it. This will allow you to easily slice even strips and not chase the damn thing around your cutting board.

4) Coarsely chop your cilantro, and set aside.

When your fish is opaque through the center of the pieces, add the rest of the ingredients and a dash of salt.

Serve in a bowl with tostadas or tortilla chips and enjoy.

You may be wondering if Lorelei liked it. Not only did she like the Ceviche, she really dug the mango pit. Definitely a hit!!

Let your kiddo scrape the rest of the mango flesh from the pit. It's a messy, wonderful, and healthy treat... outside!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, and Santé

*Here's a great Washington Post article on the chemistry behind preparing/cooking fish with acid.