Hanging out at the Dairy

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A new era at Nash's Store

a friendly sign to greet customers
I love to see a dream come true and today it did for many of the team at Nash's Organic Produce! Their "new" store is open for business in it's newly renovated space, just down from their original location in the Dungeness area in Sequim, Washington.

It's bright and cheery, clean yet cozy and full of yummy natural and organic treats to temp us all into eating healthfully and locally.

the front of the store
The "candy" part of the store for me started in the parking lot...just look at all this fresh produce beckoning us to take it home and make something yummy out of them?! I feel myself weakening...

An abundance of produce, often locally grown.

Fresh fruits, often regional available. Consulting cookbook, optional.
The colorful displays continue inside the store! I snapped up some white peaches and a cantaloupe.

 Even the paint colors for the walls were deliberately selected to bring a reference to food, nature and their positive energy on us shoppers. Eggplant, celery, sunflower yellow, chocolate and apricot hues bathe the walls and columns. The many large windows throughout the store also cut down on the amount of fluorescent lights used. The older I get, the more I appreciate natural light...it's much truer and kinder to the eyes. People and food always appear much fresher in my estimation!

the indoor produce display
My son is beyond their "play area" now but there was a time that we both would have LOVED that space for him to entertain himself while I shopped in peace! Each stage in life brings it's joys and challenges... Now he helps me cook. It's a special time for us to connect and talk when we're in the kitchen.
a children's reading and play area is taking shape
If you have a green thumb, there are many heirloom, rare and specialty seeds which are selected to thrive in our region. My green thumb has faded some since starting to Blog but maybe someday I'll feel the pull again to scratch in the dirt again.

heirloom and organic seeds to grow your own
 If you need to consult a resource or buy a book, you have many options in this section to choose from! This was a challenge for me to walk away without ANOTHER cookbook in hand.  I'm trying to wean myself...how many can I really use?!

a resource library as well as a book store
I saw many of my friends from Nash's today; Ellen, Mary, Margie and their lovely chef/culinary expert to chat with, give hugs and congratulate on the launch of this collective dream. There is more progress to come they shared; projects to complete, inventory yet to arrive, artwork to create. It's a work in progress and really, aren't we all?! I know I'm still working on a few things myself (I smile as I type this sentiment).

It's about having your dreams and then making them come true my friends. Life is the journey, strap on your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

Nash's sign greets all who pass the store
Congratulations to my friends at Nash's for their opening of their lovely store and in inspiring us to pursue OUR dreams by watching you all go after yours!

Chow for now my friends!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here's to the hero in all of us

sunrise on the family farm in Forks, WA
I lost my Aunt Diane today. She battled bravely with cancer for the past 20 years with a spirit that I can only envy and attempt to emulate; she breathed in life each day with the knowledge that everyday was a gift, a bonus really. How much more can we really learn in life but this lesson?

one of Aunt Diane's favorite flowers
Some foodie facts that you might like to know about her; she canned her own tuna from the fishing boats in La Push, WA while my Uncle was away on hunting trips.

She made a fantastic chocolate pie using 2 packages silken tofu blended until smooth and adding 2 cups melted chocolate while blending. The whole chocolatey mixture is poured into a graham cracker crust and chilled. It was a "secret" healthy dessert.

She made English muffin bread in an recycled coffee can-DELISH! I'll try to get the recipe from my cousins and post later, it will be worth it.

She was the one I made the birthday cake for recently. It was a great day together with her, laughing, drinking in our time together...in part because we all knew it was her last birthday, in part because we were in the moment, together.

Aunt Diane, Uncle Kitch, grandson Anthony blowing out candles and cousin Guy watching

Grandson Anthony devouring cake, his Mom my cousin Laura and my son Alan watching in awe

Her joys in life were time with family, her husband,  weaving baskets with her "Basket Bitches", seeing all 3 of her living daughters married and spending time with her beloved Grandson Anthony. She loved home made things, sincerity and being on her fresh water kyak. It was an honor and a pleasure to spend time with her, talk with her and learn to embrace EVERY DAY that life brings. Gulp in in folks, life is precious.  

our 4th of July lasagna emulating the American flag
I wish you freedom from pain Aunt Diane. You are indeed a source of inspiration during my morning runs to get off my rear and get out there! I cook with love because I learned from you how valuable time with your loved ones can be. To find pleasure in the simple, little gestures of caring.  Miss you already!

Hug your family, mend your fences and drink in life my friends! It's a finite journey, use your time well.
I am blessed to have my memories to share with you, my friends and family!

Chow for now my friends.

Monday, September 12, 2011

He asked for something lemon for his birthday dessert...

"I'd like to make you something for your birthday dessert, what would you like?" I asked Uncle Tom.

He replied, "Something lemon!" and it was on!

I LOVE the chance to make something lemon...it's a favorite of mine, my sons and NOT my husband, so now the reason for creating something lemon was "hatched". This called for something fresh, light, creamy and a taste reminiscent  of our long awaited summer sunshine!

When I was cooking years ago at Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, WA, we made a Lemon Tart that was a almost constant offering on the dessert cart. This was my launching point as they made their's with fresh lemon curd and lightened the curd with whipped cream. I wanted the dense creaminess of the curd and a little cooked meringue on top.

I started with a basic tart dough recipe found in Pimm T's Foodie Handbook cookbook. Her blog was the first blogsite (chez pimm) I ever visited! Her passion for food, photography and travel hit all my emotional checkmarks!

Her tart dough recipe was easy to follow and suggests an hour or more chilling before rolling out so I stared there. All the dry ingredients into the food processor. I couldn't help but embellish the recipe and added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

The dough came together nicely with the addition of the cold liquid. I substituted cold buttermilk for cold milk because that's what was left in my fridge after my morning coffee-LOL!

I made an inch thick round of the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled in fridge for over an hour.
Now onto the lemon curd...

I hadn't used this product before and since it's "not from concentrate", thought it would be an interesting alternative to fresh lemons. 

My Lemon Curd Recipe
*Separate 1 dozen (farm fresh, natural or certified organic) eggs and place yolks in a heat proof, larger bowl
*Add: 1 cup of the lemon juice, 1 cup fine sugar, a pinch of sea salt, the zest from half a lemon and 2 teaspoons of Bourbon Vanilla to yolks and whisk.
*Place mixture on steaming but not hard boiling, double boiler. Gently and consistently whisk. The mixture will get foamy at first, then the foam will dissipate as it thickens. It should reach the consistency of a not-set pudding.
*Add 3-4 Tablespoons cubes of cold Unsalted Butter one at a time, whisking continuously. Add another cube when the butter fully incorporates into the golden mixture.
*When butter is fully incorporated, remove bowl from double boiler, whisk down the sides of bowl one last time and cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Makes about 3 cups delectable lemon curd!
Curd will hold in fridge for about a week.

eggs and yolks seperated

adding ingredients to the yolks

whisking yolk mixture on double boiler, still foamy

One of my favorite tart pans is this slightly rectangular pan from Sur La Table. The silicone baking sheet can also be purchased there or at SLT or Demarle's online stores or from your local Demarle representative. The perforated baking sheet underneath the mat is from Demarle. 

I lost the tart liner so used the baking sheet instead
I rolled out the dough, pressed into the pan, cut off the excess from the top edges, forked t the uncooked dough,filled with parchment paper and dried split peas. Into a 375 degree pre-heated oven it went for about 12 minutes. Remove parchment and peas, back in for another 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on rack for at least 10 minutes before removing the tart frame from the crust. Place cooled crust on your serving vessel before filling to minimize risk of breaking.

I filled the tart shell with the chilled lemon curd. This pan used all but about 3/4 cup of curd.

almost ready to serve!
The meringue I endeavored to make is a cooked meringue. There are options not to cook it but I wanted a more stiff and stable meringue for this after football practice and after dinner timeline!

Cooked Meringue Recipe
*The chilled dozen egg whites were transferred to a larger stainless bowl for the double boiler. 
*Whisk in a 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tarter, a pinch of salt. 
*Onto the double boiler this bowl goes, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes when a thick foam develops.
*Pour clumpy mixture of foam and liquid whites into mixer or mixing bowl. Don't freak out that the mixture looks like partially scrambled eggs, they kind of are! Have faith, Julia Child's bullet points on meringue technique points this anxiety out and the recipe works!
*Beat on high heat for about 5-6 minutes. I did 7 minutes and they were too stiff to pipe with many decorative options.

Meringue about 3 minutes into beating

meringue after 7 minutes beating
 *Scrape down sides of mixing bowl with spatula and place into a pastry bag or onto the dessert itself. Your option here but work quickly as the white become rigid after cooling.

I served Uncle Tom's Tart with more freshly zested lemon for color and flavor and added some birthday candles. Lovely, creamy, rich and refreshing!

Here's to birthdays and celebrations of any kind! Make each one special by doing something personal to show your loved ones how much you care. Food is food, but meals together can make memories!

Chow for now my friends!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Of the sea...

fresh clams from Hood Canal, WA
There are few things our house love, love, loves to eat more than fresh little neck, butter or manila clams! We have a friend who recently texted us to say that he had a bucket of clams for us, fresh from his Hood Canal harvest. Lucky Ulins!!

Our "go to" dish is Steamed Clams. We steam ours in a large stock pot with butter, white wine, garlic and fresh pepper. We try to serve our Steamed Clams with some great bread, this time garlic bread.

I enjoyed a glass of this Washington wine with and in my steamed clams!

my dinner plate
A cup of the steaming broth or nectar is served to dunk your warmed bread in. The addition of warm bread and nectar allows a break from the sweet clam meat and in turn, is crunchy, buttery and rich.

open wide...
My family left the dinner table that night stuffed to the gills, or bi-valves, in these delectable clams and STILL we didn't finish them all. This wasn't a source of sadness, remorse or any feelings of loss for us...we had tomorrow night's dinner to look forward to for more clams. This time it would be fresh Clam Chowder!

this is one of my top 10 cookbooks!
 Jerry Traunfeld, the author and then chef of The Herbarm in Fall City, WA and it's namesake cookbook, offers many classic dishes with a cleaner flavor using herbs. I find the Clam Chowder recipe a lighter version, more herbed, savory broth than a thicker white sauce. During the summer months when you don't necessarily want to be weighed down, this lighter version fits our palate perfectly!

the launching point for my Clam Chowder
My starting point was this recipe from Jerry's well tested and information packed cookbook. As you might have guessed, I prefer to morph and adapt recipes to my preferences and this Clam Chowder.

Fresh chopped garlic ramps

sautéing garlic ramps in butter

chopped celery added to garlic ramps & more butter
In this version of Clam Chowder, I enjoy the balance of depth and bright, rich and clean. Sauteed garlic ramps, celery, herbs and Yukon Gold potatoes provide the base to this dish.

Thyme, oregano, rosemary and Italian flat-leaf parsley from my garden

building the chowder foundation
fresh chopped herbs are added to the green onions, celery, garlic, potatoes and pepper

Sauté until potatoes become browned
This foundation of herbs and veggies are added to the warming stockpot of leftover clams and nectar that has been refrigerated from the previous night's dinner. To this warmed broth we added a box of organic chicken stock and another few cracks of freshly ground pepper.

setting the stage for our Fresh Clam Chowder
The veggies and clams need to warm together but not boil. The goal here is to marry the flavors but not overcook the delicate clams. In my world, this happens on medium heat in a heavy bottomed stock pot in about 10-15 minutes.  I like to keep the shells in the broth for added flavor and visual appeal but my husband didn't share the sentiment. Shells in or out are entirely optional, cranky pants!

About a half cup of heavy cream is added just prior to serving to give a finishing, silky mouth feel to our light and bright chowder. We are now ready for round 2 of Fresh Clams!!  Serve with more crusty, lovely bread, a zip or two of Seracha hot sauce if desired and a crack of freshly ground pepper.

As my favorite Julia Child would say "Bon Appetite!"

Fresh Clam Chowder!
Here's to treating fresh ingredients with honor and simplicity to let their flavors shine through!

Chow for now my friends:)