Hanging out at the Dairy

Hanging out at the Dairy
Darci(far left) & the Wrights at the Creamery

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Friends, mon amis, mi amigos!

Our family Christmas 2011 picture
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you one and all! May you enjoy the warmth and  blessings of this day! We're lucky to have a day filled with food and family today-shocking, I know. Huevos Rancheros for our traditional Christmas Brunch and then dinner at the in-laws. I'm bringing a standing rib roast (pictures to follow in my next post).

Here's to family, friends, and, of course, holiday foods to remember our many blessings!

Chow for now my friends! Merry Christmas to you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Bird is the word!

One of my 1st cookbooks
Okay, now I'm dating myself, but when I was a kid, Big Bird and Sesame Street were a REALLY big deal!  My little brothers and I would try to watch it daily. Such clever lessons delivered by interesting characters in an engaging format. So when my Mom bought my brothers and I a Sesame Street Busy Book, we were ALL in! She had us at Big Bird. The bird is the word!

Our tried and true Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe
This Sugar Cookie Recipe doesn't require adult supervision (technically) or any power tools. My brothers and I made TONS of these throughout our childhood; having fun doing a project together & decorating them together also.

Now, it is my turn to share THE Sugar Cookie Recipe and the experience with my son again this Christmas holiday season. We're a really social family, so we invited some friends from school to join us in decorating Christmas cookies! 

The cast of characters
It was our assignment to make the sugar cookies, so my son and I made them the night before to be cooled but still fresh.

My son rolling out dough
Squeezing everyone in each roll out
Someone taught me how to not overwork the dough. Get as many cut on each roll as physically possible! Overworking would cause a tougher cookie and we have enough of those in this world, huh?!

cooled and ready for decoration
The next morning my friend Lori came over with her kids and brought her arsenal of decorating gear. She began apologizing as to her "craziness" towards decorating, I was just stuck in wonder, taking it all in!

Icing ready to roll-check!

Sprinkles, and tips and icing-Oh, my!
She is taking our decorating knowledge to a whole new level! She is an adult decorator and I think my skills peaked out at a kid but I forge on. It's just fun to get in there and watch the kids work their magic.

"I know, let's eat something WITHOUT sugar in it?!" Oops that was an "out-loud" Mom thought huh?!
All this decorating was EXHAUSTING for the kids-LOL! They needed a little picnic break on my front porch.   It was a break for us all by then.

With the kids out of the kitchen, Lori and I got our creative juices flowing. Just GUESS which ones were hers and mine. HINT: I'm a kid in a big girl body.

My son called this "Lori's Target star"

Two sassy little snow divas
Yes, NOT mine. Again.

I loved this "spaghetti" tip for the tree she used

A few of MY silly masterpieces
We made trays and trays of these holiday cookies and wrapped them to deliver to the staff at our kids' school the next day.

I'm not sure who was more excited, the kids to show them off and share them or the adults to choose their decorated indulgences. What a fun way to start the day and the holiday week off with!

My cheery snowman
Here's to sharing your holiday traditions with friends and family! The warmth of the holidays is the smile on a person's face and the act of giving your thoughts and prayers to others.  I show my love in the creation of food I share but that's just me. Show your love however you want but you ALWAYS get more back from the act of giving than receiving.

Thanks for sharing your support of my blog this year! I'm deeply moved and grateful to you all who take the time to visit. Many blessings to you this season!

Chow for now!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year

The view from the deck after a snow at Hyak, WA
Love me some Holiday spirit!

~When we decorate our houses with sparkling lights inside and out.
~When we make special meals to share with friends and loved ones.
~When we choose to connect with those we hold dear to our us via a card, greeting, or a party to tell each other how much we value their friendship.
~When we sing along to our favorite Carols from our childhood and to the new fav's as well.
~When give or donate to the needy because we are fortunate enough to have enough to share.
~When we slow down to see this season through the eyes of a child and marvel at all the history, fun, creativity, tradition, food, song and camaraderie the Holidays can bring us each year.

The Saturday afternoon hike in the snow

Let's go back home, it's cold and snowing HARD!

I'm a TOTAL sap and Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year! It's so cheerful to drive home in the dark and see all the lights.  My spirit was ignited even before Thanksgiving when I went to my best friend's cabin on Snoqualmie Pass to spend some quality time with her friends, our dear friend who moved to Utah and her friends from Renton area. We had over 6 inches of snow between our drive up Friday night and it continued snowing off and on through early Sunday morning.

My friend Cheryl's gorgeous log cabin
I wanted to skip Thanksgiving entirely and move right into Christmas! We laughed, cooked and ate together, played games, put jig-saw puzzles together, got to know new friends and catch up with old friends. We stayed up into the wee hours solving the world's problems and then consuming buckets of coffee in the morning again.  I drank in EVERY moment together!

 What a gift this weekend is every year us all! Thanks Cheryl.

Let it snow!
I haven't written on my blog in awhile, lots of life changes, little drama but all for the best. The time away gave me time to think and rejuvenate. Thanks for your patience and checking in on me!  Lots of ideas for next year brewing in my big ol' head for next year already...

Here's to capturing YOUR holiday spirit and rejuvenating when needed! Be kind to yourself first, then you'll have lots of energy to share with others.

Chow for now my friends! We'll be together again soon, promise.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Granola Legacy

My homemade granola
Yesterday, I woke up to charcoal skies, pouring rain down on Sequim. I was happy to have an excuse to spend the whole day in the kitchen! What to make on this wet fall day? I drove to the store, talking to my Mom on speakerphone. Then it hit me, when I was a kid, my Mom made homemade granola for us. I can still smell that toasty, sweet, nutty aroma wafting through our tiny house. She baked it slowly, for an hour or so in a large navy and white speckled roasting pan. Every so often, the open oven door would release a flood of this perfume as she stirred the steamy oat mixture. My Dad is a dentist and she tried to control the amount of sugar and processed foods we consumed through making much of our food. Now, it's my turn to monitor my family's diet. Now I'm making granola, another legacy passed from my Mom to me.

The welcoming entrance sign
Sunny Farms' front entrance

Half of their dried goods isle

I've mentioned how much amazing dried goods are offered at Sunny Farms in Sequim. They make it so easy for me to assemble the ingredients for my granola. I park my cart in an area hopefully out of the way of other shoppers and begin filling my plastic bags and labeling them with the bin numbers, stacking them on the growing mound in my cart.

                                            My granola makings

A big bowl of goodies
Chopped almonds are added

Shredded coconut added to the mixed dried goods
I get out my 2 REALLY big plastic bowls and divide the ingredients equally. I counted over 15 dried goods all contributing to protein count, flavor and/or health;  5 Mixed grains, wheat germ, sesame, flax and sunflower seeds, golden raisins, dried cherries, toasted soy berries, toasted CB's Nuts organic peanuts, ground cinnamon, brown sugar, chopped almonds and shredded coconut. The cornerstone of the dried ingredients is the mixed grains, high in flavor, fiber and protein.

A closeup of the mixed grains
The dried ingredients are stirred to combine in their large bowls and the oven preheated to 300 degrees. Then, onto the aromatic wet ingredients.

Raspberry honey, bourbon vanilla, molasses, orange juice and zest, grated fresh ginger
Oranges and ginger zested

 The oranges are scrubbed lightly under tap water, dried and zested. The fresh ginger is zested as well, removing any larger chunks of the outer skin from the juicier, flavorful interior.

The wet ingredients are combined in a large measuring cup for mixing
The zested oranges are then cut and the juice squeezed into the measuring cup. The viscous mixture of molasses, honey, grated ginger and orange, orange juice and vanilla are stirred to combine and slowly drizzled over the mixed dried ingredients.  I added canola oil and water to increase the moisture content and the ability to hold together in clumps.

Granola being stirred in the oven
 Into the 300 degree preheated oven my roasting pans go. The timer is set for every 20 minutes. As the raw granola begins to toast, the familiar scents escape from my oven and creep through my house. "Smelling good Mama!", my husband affectionately comments. I know. It's my full circle, my turn to create memories for my family, to help us eat natural, healthful foods whenever possible.

Perfume is filling my house
The granola is baked and stirred for about an hour plus for this deep roasting pans. My more shallow pans toast the contents faster but hold less. It cools completely and is placed into large gallon Ziploc bags for distribution to my Dad, our fisherman friends Kyle and Colin, my in-laws and my oldest son who lives on his own. The can all taste the wholesome goodness, the combination of toasty, nutty, sweet and salty.

When I went to bed last night, my room still smelled of the baked granola. I smiled at the comfort of knowing that my Mom had successfully passed another torch to me and that I kept the legacy going. It's only granola, right?! Or is it?
My breakfast today
Here's to those legacies my friends. They might be just food but they are SO much more, they are all the emotions of caring for your families wellness, honoring family traditions, listening to your elders when they take the time to teach the next generation. Yea, it's granola this time but it's so much more!

Seek out those legacies and pass them on with the love they were passed to you and maybe a little bit more if you have it to share...

Chow for now my friends!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Welcome to Crab Fest!

The clock tower at Gateway Pavilion

An enthusiastic promoter of "fishing" for crabs
This year was my 1st year visiting Port Angeles' annual Crab Fest. It was a showcase of all that is wonderful about living on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific Northwest! Food, art, music, wine, beer, cooking demonstrations and plenty of community! 

Hundreds of fresh crab waiting for the Crab Feed

This one's name is "dinner" for some lucky diner
The sense of community started with the location and the mammoth center tent. The area encompassing the Port Angeles pier, the grounds of the Red Lion Inn and the Gateway Pavilion were home of the large tent and many the other myriad of tents.
The exterior of the large center tent

The center tent interior
The festivities started Friday afternoon with a Crab Feed! What was on the menu? What are my choices? Whole or half crab cooked to perfection, corn on the cob and fresh coleslaw and your choice of beverages.

This is the whole crab with drawn butter

Some of the 700+ diners served Friday Night

Bibs optional but definitely suggested!

Which beverage to choose...

Some local wineries featured

The live music stage filled the whole area
Saturday and Sunday were when the variety of food, art tents and family entertainment events opened up.

Again, the best of the Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific Northwest really shined. I was really proud to hear accents from all over the world amongst the guests and to offer this glimpse of our cuisine, art and crafts.
Handcrafted copper Salmon weathervane

Buy a pole and "fish" for a crab at the Crab Derby

A successful catch is sometimes intimidating

Bacon wrapped, grilled Alaskan scallop taco

Crab Bisque from Toga's our local soup guru
Fresh crab cakes from Chef Doug @ the Red Lion Inn-YUM!!!

A fine example of truth in advertising!

Seared Alaskan Scallops over mushroom rice pilaf-WOW!!!

Now THAT'S a fresh crab cocktail!

My neighbors Hunter and Chloe with their Cod fish and chips from Koekepeli's
As much as I gorged myself on all things crab and seafood this weekend, I was happy that the desserts did NOT contain any crab whatsoever! They were local, fresh, delicious, region favorites and all handcrafted by Michael at Raindrop Desserts in Sequim. He was baking literally night and day to keep up with demand. I hope he enjoyed the experience as much as the over 1,000 recipients of his pies, bread pudding and crab quiches did!!

Bread pudding with rum glaze from Raindrop Desserts

Local organic blackberry pie from Raindrop Desserts

Lazy J Apple pie again, from Michael at Raindrop Desserts
They even had a "Crab Revival" on Sunday morning in the outdoor pavilion featuring a brief sermon and lots of fantastic gospel music, breakfast foods from a full bacon, eggs and hash browns to coffee and crab quiches were available. They all tasted better out in the crisp morning salt air. I was SO hungry I forgot to snap pictures while devouring my breakfast from The Cedars at Dungeness. The grilled up thick cut bacon, delicate and fluffy scrambled eggs, and buttery, crispy hash browns. I know you're already picturing it in your mind:)

Sunny Sunday morning's Crab Fest Revival crowd

One of the many helpful Crab Fest volunteers 
I'm already looking forward to next year's Crab Fest. Until then, my memories from this year's event will have to sustain me. So proud to be from the ubundantly blessed Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Northwest!

A tub of Dungeness crab

Check out this beauty!

Side entrance of the big tent

Sunset over the Olympic Mountains
Come visit us out here, eat a while, walk on a beach, go for a hike in the mountains or hit the links on one of our many golf courses. As my husband and I say; "It's ALL good!".

Chow for now my friends!