December 24, 2008


A quick spread for crusty bread or crackers. It's also great with sliced pears or apples.

4 oz. crumbly blue cheese of your choice, cut into a few pieces 
1/3 c. sour cream 
4 oz. cream cheese 
1 scallion, chopped (both white and green parts) 
2 t. smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce  

Directions: Put all ingredients into food processor and whiz it up until nearly smooth. Some blue cheese chunks should still be left. DONE! This tastes best if made several hours in advance, to let the flavors "marry".

November 27, 2008


In celebration of Christmas and my upcoming trip, I wanted to post a recipe for Glühwein / glow wine. It's a traditional hot, spiced wine drink served during winter in Germany, especially at Christmas. One of several hot alcoholic drinks in which to indulge, it is my favorite. Other drinks are Jägertee (hunter's tea), apfelwein (apple wine), Seehund (sea hound) and Punschglühbowle (punch glow bowl). 

Glühwein is available commercially. Most liquor stores in the US carry it during the holidays. But the bottled version is often too sweet and tastes flat. And it gives you one hell of a headache! Many countries have their version of mulled or hot spiced wines. Here is my recipe. PROST!


1-750 ml full-bodied red wine
1/2 c. brandy 
1 stick cinnamon, broken in half
6 whole cloves
Seeds of one cardamom pod
2 slices lemon peel (no pith)
4 slices orange peel
Half of an orange, sliced (no pith)
1/3 c. sugar
In a non-reactive, large saucepan, add wine and all ingredients except the sugar. Over medium heat, bring mixture to just below boiling point. Turn off heat, cover and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove orange slices and set aside. Remove spices and peel and discard. Return orange slices to pan and heat until hot but not boiling. Serve in pre-warmed mugs with a cinnamon stick, if you like. If you won't be serving it immediately, keep covered to preserve the alcohol.

See you all when I return in 3 weeks. Enjoy the holidays to the fullest, whatever you do and however you celebrate. Frohe Weihnacht!!! 

November 20, 2008


Thanksgiving will be a bit different here this year. With the upcoming travels, we decided to have our feast this Saturday. That way, we can enjoy the turkey and its delightful leftovers all week long, before we leave. It's become a recent tradition that my stepbrother spends turkey day with us and it was tough to tell him 'no' this time. He's in the Marines, about to start flight school, so joining us early wasn't a possibility. We'll miss him. He and I have a lot in common and have become very close in the last 5 years or so. It's nice to have a brother!  

Because of the premature celebrations, I'm going to be melting into Christmas / winter early on my page and blogs. I'm already so thrilled about spending the holiday season in Europe, I could just about *POP*! There will be lots to share when I return, but I might sneak in a couple festive recipes and such before I leave 

Whatever you do for your festivities, I wish you conviviality, love, laughter and a happy, full tummy! I am grateful for all of you, my friends. My best to each of you. 

November 1, 2008


We just finished making, for the next several days, whenever we go out with our coats on, we'll smell like a doughnut shop. Could be worse! It's a Halloween tradition around here, preceded by my family's tradition, to make these. It's a weekend late, though, as last weekend was happily taken up by the Seattle Food and Wine Expo. Well, they taste just as delicious on All Souls Day as they do on Halloween, so here is the recipe. 

Making doughnuts is time-consuming, but easy. And the time involved is the fun part of the whole process. These doughnuts have a strong flavor of nutmeg and have a fluffy texture due to having mashed potatoes in the dough. Make the mashed potatoes as you normally would, with milk, butter and salt. Just don't make them too wet. If you are one who doesn't like nutmeg, you could decrease the amount or leave it out and increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon. But, the nutmeg is what makes them unique and makes me feel the cozy autumn nights. 

The dough is very soft ~ more of a very thick batter. Don't be tempted to add flour. It is the softness of the dough that makes the doughnuts so tender. It needs to chill for at least three hours before rolling it out, so figure that into your timing. I usually make it the night before I want to fry the doughnuts. If you don't have a traditional cutter, you can cut them into triangles of about 1.5 inches per side. Any larger, and they won't get fully cooked inside. 

For icing and such, I make chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze, colored sugars, cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar ~ sometimes "sprinkles" for holidays. Choose your favorites and decorate to your heart's delight! But most of all....have FUN!


3 lg. eggs
1 and 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. mashed potatoes, cooled (not too wet - they should have body)
2 T. vegetable oil
4 c. flour
6 t. baking powder
2 t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 t. salt
1/2 c. milk

Beat eggs with sugar and vanilla until light. Add potatoes and oil and beat briefly to combine. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to egg mixture, beating well. Chill dough at least 3 hours.

Heat a pot of frying oil to 375 degrees F., or use a deep fat fryer heated to 375. Roll out a third of the dough at a time, keeping the remainder in the fridge. Roll onto a well-floured surface to 3/8 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter or cut into small triangles. 

Transfer immediately hot frying oil. Fry approximately 3 minutes, turning over halfway. Drain on paper towels and frost and decorate as desired. 

Makes 25-30 doughnuts plus 40 doughnut holes

October 28, 2008


The Seattle Food and Wine Experience was huge fun! I attended the show as a food correspondent for Foodbuzz. If you haven't checked out Foodbuzz yet, you should! I tasted something like 30 wines and champagnes (there were a thousand available, but I had to pace myself!), discovered some new products, ate delectable small plates from several Seattle restaurants, picked up some recipes, but, mostly, enjoyed talking with people who are passionate about food, wine, cooking and eating.

Nearly all the mini entrees were excellent and I'm still going back and forth between two of them for my favorite taste of the show. I think Rover's chef Thierry Rautureau's Elk Bourguignon on Farro alongside Braised Rabbit with White Beans and Tomato just barely edged out my second choice. Barely. And that's only because I'm such a wild game freak. The elk was allowed to be itself in a sauce with hints of cinnamon and other 'warm' spices. Nothing overwhelmed - the flavors were perfectly balanced. And the "pop" of the farro grains was a nice counterpoint to the tender meat. The rabbit was shredded and tender, subtly flavored. Perhaps a little too subtly, but it is easy to bury the flavor of rabbit. I went back for seconds at the end of the day.

Next highest honors I give to Barking Frog chef Bobby Moore's Grand Marnier Prawns, which are the best prawn anything to ever pass my lips. The coating was sumptuous, creamy, with a perfectly light citrus flavor. The prawns were a major hit with everyone I talked to and chef Moore was kind enough to have the printed recipe there to share with his salivating crowd. Besides being a symphony in my mouth, they looked absolutely gorgeous. Food porn at its finest! These sensuous mouthfuls were enough to make me moan. And I did.


Exec. Chef Bobby Moore

20 peeled and deveined large prawns

1 1/2 c. cornstarch

1 c. Grand Marnier

4 c. orange juice

3 T. dried orange zest, pulsed in coffee grinder

2 c. mayonnaise

For the sauce, add the Grand Marnier to a sauce pan and burn off the alcohol, cool immediately. Reduce in a separate pan the orange juice to a syrup and cool immediately. Combine the Grand Marnier, orange syrup and pulsed orange zest powder with the mayonnaise and refrigerate.

To cook the prawns, heat frying oil to 350 degrees F. Dust the prawns in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess starch. Fry the prawns until crispy (about 2 minutes) and drain on paper towels. In a large bowl, toss the hot prawns in the Grand Marnier mayonnaise to coat. Serve on skewers. (My own note: I think these would be wonderful served as a starter on mixed torn greens)

There is much more to relay about the day and I'll be doing that over the next week. Reliving the tastes has made me HUNGRY, so I'm off to the kitchen to satisfy myself. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

October 15, 2008


This is my version of the ultimate Greek comfort food. I woke up craving this today. Pastitsio is a baked pasta layered with a spiced meat sauce and topped with a cheesy bechamel sauce. Dieters, avert your eyes! The signature flavors are nutmeg and cinnamon. Greeks (and others) often use what Americans consider "sweet" spices in meat dishes. This is loaded with eggs and butter and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold evening.

6 T. butter
1 c. finely chopped yellow onions 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 1/2 lbs. leanest ground beef 
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce 
3/4 t. salt 
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper 
1 t. ground cinnamon 
1 t. dried oregano, crushed

1 lb. box ziti pasta (or penne) 
1/4 c. butter, melted 
6 eggs, beaten 
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese  

4 T. butter 
4 T. flour 
1 3/4 c. milk, heated 
2 eggs, beaten 
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg (it really has to be fresh!) 
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat 3 T. of the butter, add the onions and garlic and saute until just beginning to brown. Add remaining butter and crumble in the ground beef. Add all the remaining meat sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. It should be thick. Remove from heat and set aside. Cook ziti until barely al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add melted butter, beaten eggs and cheese. Place pasta mixture into a buttered large lasagne pan or casserole pan. Pour meat sauce over pasta and gently mix. ** see note. Make the white sauce by melting the 4 T. butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until it's bubbling nicely. Gradually add the hot milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook until smooth and thickened. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to them about a half cup of the hot sauce, whisking quickly to combine. Pour back into the rest of the sauce and stir until well combined. Stir in the nutmeg and cheese. Pour the sauce over the pasta and push the sauce into it in several places. Bake at 350 F. for 30 - 45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.  

**You may also layer half of the pasta, then pour on the meat sauce, topped with the rest of the pasta, even going so far as to line up the noodles nicely so it looks pretty when cut. I do that for dinner parties, but only then!

October 11, 2008


At the Olympia Farmers' Market yesterday, as I was admiring the gorgeous fall produce, I suddenly squealed. In a basket in front of me were 10 huge fresh porcini mushrooms. The proprietor came over, smiling, and I said, "Shut UP! You have fresh porcinis!" He told me that they'd been gathered at 3700 feet in the Cascade Mountains the afternoon before. I've never seen fresh porcinis for sale except in Europe. I bought 3 fat ones. I left behind an enormous one that the man held up and said, "I think a gnome is wandering around in the forest wondering what happened to his house!" The price was...EEK...$28 a pound. Do any of my European friends know what they are going for there, per kg.? I'm curious to compare. I also bought a few chanterelles. I haven't found any yet this year, but I'm going out tomorrow to hunt for some.

I brought my treasure home, sliced them up and sauteed them in gänseschmalz (goose fat), with sea salt and pepper. Oh, the scent as they cooked! I gave myself a mushroom facial, just hanging over the pan and inhaling, until my glasses fogged up - HA! I'd like to say that they ended up in a risotto al funghi, but they went straight from the pan into my mouth. Nirvana.....~OMMM~.

Boletus edulis, known also as King bolete, porcini, cepe, cep or Steinpilz, is a choice edible mushroom found from June to October. Found underneath conifers, birch and aspen at alpine elevations. The cap can reach 25 cm/10 in. in diameter and can weigh up to 1 kg./2 lbs. My God, I would have a gastronomic orgasm if I saw one that size. My friend in Munich collects them in the autumn and, in good years, dries enough to send me a big bag of them for Christmas. Have I mentioned I love her? Dried porcinis smell smoked earth. Some of the names for them can be really cute, in translation. For instance - eekhoorntjesbrood (Dutch) which means 'squirrels' bread', porcini (Italian) which means 'piglets', and 'penny bun' (English). 

So, off I will go tomorrow, with my mushroom knife, cloth bag, my mushroom-hunting cat and hope. If I'm lucky, there will be another pan of 'shrooms to eat! 

Porcini, my big, huggable cat

October 4, 2008


It's raining sideways here and I expect one or two of my chickens to blow by the window at eye level any minute. In thinking that, it got me thinking of ... food. On a blustery day like this, what with the odd chicken possibly being knocked unconscious, a nice pot of mean rooster stew with dumplings seemed just the thing. Heh heh!

I've had a rooster or five over the years that ended up in a pot somehow. After about the 20th time one of them ambushes you from behind a shrub, spurs flying, it tends to make you less enamored of the gorgeous buggers. But WAIT! Lest you think this animal-loving woman has a dark side, (well, I do, but let's not visit it, shall we?) I hasten to say that any rooster I've "dispatched" has been anesthetized first. Yes, anesthetized. See, once they're dead, I have no problem bleeding, plucking, singeing, gutting and cooking them. It's that killing part I can't do. So, I have my unorthodox way. (No, the anesthetic doesn't stay in the meat) Any self-respecting true farmer is laughing his or her butt off right about now, and I'm not advocating this, it's just what I do.

And oh, the TASTE of a chicken that's been truly free range, eating bugs, berries and grass, zipping around racing the other's nothing like the flaccid, white, bland chicken of the supermarket - poor things. So, here is my recipe. And, if you don't have a convenient rooster you're ticked off at for raping your hens and attacking you, you certainly can use store-bought chicken or turkey and have excellent results, too!


a 4-5 lb. chicken, cut up

5 T. olive oil

12 pearl onions, peeled OR

1 lg. onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots, cut into chunks

3 ribs celery with leaves, sliced

6-inch sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped

2 tsp. salt

1/2 t. freshly ground pepper


2 c. flour

3 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

2 T. minced Italian parsley

1/8 t. ground nutmeg

4 T. shortening

3/4 - 1 c. very cold milk

In a large, wide stock pot, heat 3 T. olive oil. Braise chicken pieces until golden brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate, discard oil but save all browned bits in bottom of pot. Add remaining 2 T. olive oil and return pan to medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery and saute 3-5 minutes until vegetables are softening, but not browning. Stir in herbs, salt and pepper and saute briefly. Add chicken pieces back to pot and add cold water just to cover chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Then make dumplings: Combine the dry ingredients and the parsley in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add 3/4 c. of the milk and stir briefly with a fork. Don't over mix! Add only enough of the remaining milk to make dough hold together. Once the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, drop egg-sized spoonfuls of dough on top of the bubbling broth. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, without peeking! The cover must stay on to make the dumplings fluffy. Turn off heat, let stand a few minutes and serve in deep bowls.

Serves 6

September 18, 2008

PIGGIES !!! and Horses, Goats, etc. etc.

Well, I got my fix at the state fair yesterday. Got kisses from cows, pigs, goats and bunnies and I'm pretty sure I fell in love with a draft horse. My friend and I spent 6 hours at the fair, the entire time in the animal barns. Great fun! If someone had offered me a pig, I'd probably have arrived home with him in the back seat.

This is the horse I fell in love with - his name was Flash. He is a dapple grey Percheron. Height is 17.5 hands. Big, BIG horse. The second photo is of Ritchie. At the draft horse exhibition, there were Clydesdales, Belgians, Percherons, Spotted Drafts and the little Shetlands. Just gorgeous and awesome to watch in action. I have some video I'll post of the cart-pulling demonstration.

Great day, learned some things, and came home as tired as this Himalayan rabbit! 

September 10, 2008


I've had fun harvesting this morning, and here are the results. The smell of the dirt stuck in the leek roots is a scent I love. And the smell of the sunflower stalks when cut. Mmmmm. The cool summer has delayed some of the vegetables, and others just didn't do well. But I'm happy for what worked !

It's so perfect outside, I'm soaking in all the sun and warmth I can. I'm fully into autumn-cozy mode. I'm stacking firewood - the silver lining of the horrible windstorms that downed 7 of our trees in December. We heat our house by woodstove only, so firewood is a big deal. I'm also canning, making herbed and fruited vinegars and oils, baking and doing my arty pursuits in the evenings. With the help of Reggie, of course! See how well he helps?

I hope you all are enjoying the days...

September 9, 2008


Every once in a while, I like to create a wordsearch, using an online program. Usually, I make them for holidays or the changing seasons and then include them in cards I send. If you are feeling wordy and up for a game, you can check out my puzzle here:

September 7, 2008


I've written before on rice, as it's my favorite food. Wild rice is a grass, like other rices, but of a different genus. True rice is of the genus Oryza and wild rice is Zizania. Wild rice and maize are the only cereals native to North America. It grows in the shallows of the Great Lakes region of Minnesota and Canada. "Manoomin" is the Ojibwe Indian word for wild rice, translated as "good seed". The Chippewa and Ojibwe tribes still harvest wild rice in the traditional way.

Native Americans harvest wild rice by canoeing into a stand of plants, and bending the ripe grain heads over the edge of the canoe, with wooden sticks called knockers, so as to thresh the seeds into the canoe. The size of the knockers, as well as other details, are prescribed in state and tribal law. (Don't get me started on the innuendos....I'm thinking I would be good at this! HA!) After knocking, the rice is parched, thrashed and winnowed. Parching is the drying of the moist rice kernels, thrashing is removing the hulls from the parched wild rice, and winnowing is separating the kernels from the hull. These steps are now mechanized, but were formerly done in the old ways, by hand and foot and birch bark containers.

True wild rice is not like the shiny, black grains usually sold commercially. The "real" stuff is brown and thinner than the cultivated variety and has a distinctly nuttier flavor. It also takes less time to cook than the cultivated type. Both, however, are delicious and healthy. Wild rice is high in protein, lysine and fiber and is gluten-free. It is high in B-vitamins and potassium.

A Minnesotan friend of ours once gave us a "share" of the Chippewa harvest of wild rice for Christmas. We had to wait until the following autumn to receive our 2 lb. share. It was worth the wait and it felt good to know the money went directly to the tribe. I've posted a recipe for wild rice salad since autumn is just about here!

September 1, 2008


The pigeon is cooing his low, throaty mantra as the sun fades from the day. His hypnotic tones lull the chickens toward sleep and calm my thoughts. The colder breath of autumn nibbles at my bare toes, my earlobes. Summer is releasing. I am ready for the golden-lighted days, crisp nights, flaming sunsets and the harvest that autumn brings. This time of beginning to draw inward; storing the memory of hot sun on skin and cooling waters -- for the times when the sun hides for days and rain washes the landscape.

Soon, I will search the woods for mushrooms. Precious gifts I carry home to my kitchen -- the smell of them almost as sublime as their taste. Their velvet caps and flutes, their feet cradled in earthy humus; I cut carefully, so they may return again. My cat, Thunder, follows me into the forest when I hunt for mushrooms. Like a truffle pig, he has often led me to groupings of mushrooms off my path. Does he know? It has happened too many times for me to question him.

The garden still has more to give ~ grapes, blackberries, tomatoes (with luck), potatoes to be dug, cabbage, leeks and lush herbs begging to be preserved in chutneys, vinegars and by drying. Summer's bounty isn't over yet. But I am ready and open to the quiet season, when my body is nestled in warmth and my mind flies.

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. Thomas Hood

August 30, 2008

WHO I AM NOT ~ a poem


I am not twenty~
No longer lean, smooth, unmarked.
Now my body is strong,
still lithe,
under a cloak of yielding softness.
My skin is not pearly
in winter.
Nor flawlessly unlined and brown
in summer,
from idle days spent perfecting
just the right look.
My scars, my cicatrices,
both inner and outer
have been earned;
often suffered for.
Reminders of where I have been.
I am not a girl
who falls asleep to dreams of possibilities.
I am a woman
who lives them.
Building on adventures lived,
planning explorations yet to come.
My body, although there is more of it now,
holds my soul.
Be kind.
As I am learning to be.
-GNB 08/2008 c.


Whenever I get the chance, I like to gather seaweeds from the rocks on our coast. I especially love sea lettuce, when I can find it. It's not only delicious, it's beautiful! The smell of seaweed makes me happy - the briny, green freshness that translates so well into many dishes. But, soup is my favorite way to eat it and I have it often.

This can be made with fresh or rehydrated dry laver or wakame. I use wakame, as I like its more substantial bite. This is just the basic recipe, to which you can add virtually anything you like -- shredded daikon radish or carrot, tofu, ginger juice, yam noodles or bean threads, sliced bok choy leaves, sliced shiitake mushrooms, etc. Healthy, light and delicious!


5 c. water

2 pkgs dashi no moto (or make your own dashi)2 T. shoyu or good quality soy sauce

1 c. fresh, chopped seaweed, or rehydrated seaweed to make 1 cup

3 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated

1 T. white or yellow miso paste, dissolved in 2 T. cold water

2 eggs, beaten


In medium stock pot, combine water, dashi no moto and shoyu and bring to a boil. Add seaweed and white portion of green onions and simmer for five minutes. Turn off heat, but leave pot on burner. Gently stir in the beaten eggs and add the miso paste. Cover pot and remove from burner. Serve with green portion of the sliced onions. Add additional shoyu, to taste.

Serves 4-6

August 13, 2008


No, I didn't catch these, but after the gorgeous day at the lake yesterday, trout seemed the perfect thing. The smoked paprika adds a nice depth of flavor and the smell as it comes off the grill will make your mouth water. I served these with freshly dug small potatoes and onions from the garden -- I cut them into chunks and drizzled them with olive oil, red chile flakes and some herbed salt. Baked them covered with foil at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, then uncovered it and baked another 5 minutes, then broiled them till crispy. Yummy!


2 fresh, cleaned trout - head and tail on
White wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, 6-8 inches long
2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika powder
1 garlic clove, sliced very thinly


Pat the insides of the trout dry. Hold fish on its back as you work. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of the white wine vinegar into the cavity. Insert the tarragon, with a few leaves sticking out the front. Lay half of the sliced garlic along the tarragon. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the paprika over all. Lay fish down and repeat with other trout. Have coals on the grill ready at medium heat. Put trout on grill and watch carefully. Smaller size trout will be done in about 12 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking. Large size trout will be done in approx. 15 minutes. Toward the end, I like to move the trout to the hottest part of the grill and crisp the skin. I love that crunch!

August 4, 2008


Wow! A recipe from me that includes neither meat nor rice! This is a summer salad, served warm or at room temperature. Cime di rapa, also known as broccoli raab, rapini and other monikers, is a member of the brassica family of plants. The florets that may bloom yellow are also edible, so don't throw them away. The flavor is of slightly bitter, young broccoli. It is very popular in southern Italian cuisine. As usual with Italian recipes, the ingredients are few, so best quality of each component is a must! You can choose to soak and boil dried cannellini beans, if you wish, but, since it's summertime - what say we don't get the house any hotter than we have to? All you need to go along with this is some iced tea choice...well-chilled Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio or even Gewürtztraminer.


2 15 oz. cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1.5 lbs. cime di rapa (broccoli raab)
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
A dozen fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim bottom inch or so off of the broccoli raab, then cut into 3 inch lengths. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil and cook until nearly tender. Drain well and transfer to salad bowl. While it is cooking, heat half of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add stemmed sage leaves to the oil. Stir gently but constantly, until leaves are crispy, but don't let them turn brown. Remove leaves to a plate. Add garlic to oil and turn off heat. Don't allow garlic to brown. Heat beans, sage leaves, garlic with oil and broth in a saucepan and simmer for five minutes. Pour beans over broccoli raab and gently toss with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow to cool down to warm temperature. Just before serving, pour remaining olive oil over salad and toss once more.
Serves 4 as main course, 6 as salad course.

July 24, 2008


Wearing only skin,
I feel the wind play around the curves
Of my body.
Cirrus clouds sweep in feathers and frost
On a summer blue sky.
I am being regarded.
Pigeon on the fence,
A cat, secret among the raspberries,
Grosbeaks on a branch.
Perfect companions
On this July day.
Black fur on creamy skin,
The cat moulds himself to my shape
Like warm water.
I think of your breath
As the breeze touches me.
In spite of the heat.

July 23, 2008


Organ meats, offal, or the euphemistic "variety meats" are too often overlooked (at best) or run away from, with disgusted noises issuing forth from the escapee. If only more people would try them! Most of it is a mental block, of course. At what point did we decide that muscle was the only kind of meat we should eat?

I was raised with my German great-grandmother, who grew up on a farm. Every part of a slaughtered animal was used. To throw away a good part of that animal would have been unthinkable. That sort of waste was not only a luxury, but, given the delightful flavors of the various organs, would have been a real loss to gastronomic satisfaction. When I travel to Europe, I'm always thrilled to find organ meats on the menus and available for purchase in the stores. Heaven!

I'll ease the uninitiated in and begin with tripe. The simple definition of tripe is: the lining of a cow's stomach(s). However, tripe from pigs, goats or sheep can also be called tripe. But, the beef version is the most prevalent. There are 4 kinds of tripe, just as there are 4 stomachs in a cow or other ruminant. However, only 3 are usually available commercially, and only 2 are popular. The most readily available type is "honeycomb", from the second stomach, the reticulum. It is so named because the inner side has a pattern similiar to a honeycomb. Most recipes you will find call for this type. "Blanket" or smooth tripe comes from the first stomach, the rumen. This is the type favored for menudo. The third type available is one I like very much. From the omasum, it's called "bible" "book" or "leaf" tripe due to the hanging sheets of lining coming from the stomach. The fourth type is from the Abomasum and is called "reed" tripe. But it is usually not sold or sought after, due to its glandular tissue.

Trivia: the word 'ruminate' comes from slowly digest something.

Tripe dishes are popular in many countries...Patsas in Greece, Drisheen in Ireland, Dobrada in Portugal, Trippa in Italy, Andouille in France, Pepperpot Soup in America and Pho soup in Vietnam, for example. Popular belief has it that tripe is a cure for hangover and for improving your sex life! So why not eat some tripe today??? Try my recipe for Trippa alla Milanese and see what you think!

July 19, 2008


Anyone who knows me will tell you that rice is my comfort food. When other women crave chocolate, I crave rice. Any form of rice will suffice! My favorite basic rice is jasmine and my favorite dish is any kind of risotto, preferably made with Vialone Nano rice. I love 'wild pecan rice' from Louisiana. It has a nutty flavor and has some of the bran left on the grain. It smells like popcorn when cooking.

Rice is a grain belonging to the grass family. Botanical name: Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima. The plant requires warmth and moisture to grow, measures between 2 and 6 feet tall, depending on variety. Plants have long, flat, pointy leaves and stalk-bearing flowers which produce the grain known as rice. Rice is one of the few foods in the world which is entirely non-allergenic and gluten-free.

Rice is consumed by nearly half the entire world population and many countries are completely dependent on rice as a staple food. Rice is the most widely consumed grain in the world. It feeds a third of the world’s population: 590 million tons of rice were produced in 2003. The Chinese word for rice is the same as the word for food, and in Japanese, the word for cooked rice is the same word for meal. In Thailand, when you call your family to a meal you say, “eat rice.” Americans statistically eat only 25 lbs. of rice a year - not THIS girl...I eat 15 lbs. a month! In the Phillipines, a person eats 500 lbs. of rice per year!

At some point in its early cultivation in Asia, the more labor-intensive white rice became a status symbol—the whiter the better—and thus, the preferred variety. Only the poorest people, who could not afford white rice, ate brown rice. They, however, got far better nutrition. Today, it is unfortunate, given how many people in marginal economies eat rice, that white rice is the norm. Stripped of the bran and the germ, its most nutritious parts, white rice is almost pure starch. Brown rice has essential vitamins and minerals and takes less effort to mill. It would thwart the vitamin deficiency diseases that affect many of the world’s poorest rice-eating peoples, most notably beriberi. Enriching white rice does not compensate for the vitamins, minerals and fiber stripped away from the brown rice.

There are currently some innovative programs to grow rice more effectively. The system is called SRI, which stands for System of Rice Intensification, and the method at least doubles, the rice harvest. For an in-depth article about SRI, see the NY Times article here:

Most of us will only ever try a fraction of the number of rice cultivars known. The largest collection of rice cultivars is at the International Rice Research Institute, with over 100,000 rice accessions held in the International Rice Genebank.

As to Indian rice, most people are familiar with Basmati. But this is only one of many varieties grown in India. Rice agriculture is the backbone of India’s economy, providing direct employment to about 70% of working people in the country. Rice finds applications in the arts and crafts of India. Rice paste is used in the resist-dyeing techniques of creating patterns on cloth. In traditional homes, decorative features frequently consist of wall paintings and floor patterns. It is usually women who paint renditions of folklore and mythology on domestic spaces, passed on from mother to daughter. In many parts of India, as part of daily ritual -- ephemeral, abstract designs created by women are traced in rice powder or paste on domestic thresholds and floors. These are known by various names, alpana in Bengal, mandana in Rajasthan and kolam in South India, for instance. The designs are meant to bring good luck to the home.

Over the centuries, three main types of rice had developed in Asia, depending on the amylose content of the grain. They are called indica (high in amylose and cooking to fluffy grains to be eaten with the fingers, generally long grain types), japonica (low in amylase and cooking to sticky masses suitable for eating as clumps with chopsticks, generally short to medium grain types), and javanica (intermediate amylose content and stickiness).

So, I've posted my favorite Indian rice recipe in the recipe section. The flavors are haunting and unusual. Hope you'll try it and like it as much as I do.

July 17, 2008


This coffeecake is delicious without the berries, too, but since I had beautiful ripe currants in the garden this morning, I decided to make this with fruit. You can use fresh blueberries or raspberries instead if you don't like the tartness of currants.

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. shortening

1/2 c. milk

1 egg

1 c. flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/8 t. salt

1/2 c. fresh red currants


1/4 c. sugar

Grated rind of one lemon

1/8 t. ground nutmeg

2 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 F. In small bowl, combine topping ingredients and set aside. Cream sugar and shortening. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Whisk egg into the milk in a small bowl. Then add half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk mixture to the creamed sugar and whisk until smooth. Repeat with remaining flour and milk mixtures. Gently fold in berries (if using). Spread in a lightly greased 9 x 9" pan. Drizzle topping ingredients onto batter. It will form buttery, sweet tunnels in the cake. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool, cut and serve. Lovely with tea!

July 8, 2008


Salty, substantial and satisfying -- these vegetables are a wonderful addition to many dishes. The botanical name is Salicornia, with several subspecies, but sea beans are known by many names: samphire, glasswort, pickleweed, pousse-pied, salicornia tips and sea asparagus. If anyone knows the various Asian names for them, I'd love to know! The term samphire is believed to be a corruption of the French name, herbe de Saint-Pierre, which means "St. Peter's Herb." I like the sound of samphire the best of all the names, myself. Salicornia is a genus of succulent, salt-tolerant plants which grow in salt marshes, on beaches and in mangrove swamps. It is native to Europe, the United States, south Asia and Sri Lanka. The ashes of these plants and of kelp were long used as a source of soda ash for glass and soapmaking until the 19th century.

first came across sea beans at Uwajimaya ~ a fantastic Asian food supermarket in Seattle. "Waji's" is one of my main food stops on each city trip! But, I digress. More on Uwajimaya in a future blog. As you can see from the photo, the plants are rather coral-esque...growing in branched form. They can be eaten raw in a salad, where their crunchy, sharp-salty taste really pops. Sometimes I just snack on them by themselves. But, their flavor develops more nuance when quickly cooked as part of a stir-fry, or sauteed with a garlicky, black bean sauce or added to yakisoba noodles. Their briny pang offsets the sweet yakisoba sauce beautifully! And they are tender when cooked ~ not at all stringy. They complement fish dishes very well. Remember to reduce salt in any recipe in which you use them and then adjust as necessary when done.

They grow well here in the northwest and I seek them out on the coast and on Hood Canal. I hope you'll be able to procure some, either in a shop or in the wild and try them. They're available fresh from spring to fall. At other times of the year, you can find them pickled, but fresh is best, as always. Bet you'll be as addicted as I am!

I'll post a recipe I found on Epicurious, for Black Roasted Cod with Sea Beans and Oysters. It sounds divine and I'm going to make it soon! 

More to come about sea vegetables and yummy recipes to try ...

June 23, 2008


Today we treated a kitten at the veterinary hospital ~ a Canada Lynx kitten! You can see his long tufts of hair on the ear tips. One of our clients is certified in big cat rescue and this kitten was brought to her from a local Indian tribe. His mother was discovered dead and this one was in the den, thin and weak. As you can see, he is strong and gorgeous now. It isn't every day I get to kiss a lynx! Even at this young age of 6 weeks, the wildness is in his eyes. He also doesn't purr or meow like a domestic cat ~ he makes gurgly, growling and screeching noises.

His future will be to become an ambassador for his species ~ visiting schools to educate children about the big cats and wildlife, in general. I will update further, as we see him as he grows.

Canada Lynx Facts:

  • Meat is on the menu for lynx, and the meat of choice is snowshoe hare. It took extensive field studies to determine how and why these two species interact to such a great extent. Fluctuations in populations of both are closely linked. Many other carnivores compete for the same prey as the lynx's but only the lynx is as skilled at catching elusive and quick hares. Hare makes up the bulk of the diet, but a lynx will sustain itself on squirrels, grouse, rodents or even domestic animals.
  • Lynx feet seem overly large for their body size. The well-furred feet impart nearly silent movement and act as snowshoes in winter. The footprint of this cat is larger than a human hand. With its long legs, the lynx can travel rapidly while trailing evasive prey in the tight confines of a forest. Like other cats, it is not built for fast, long-distance running ~ it generally stalks and ambushes its prey.
  • This cat is primarily an inhabitant of the boreal forest, across Canada and Alaska. Also found in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington and Oregon. The most likely place to see one is in the Selkirk Mountains.
  • It is rare to see a lynx in the wild, even if you happen to be in prime lynx territory. It's far more likely the lynx is watching you...silently...assessing.

June 20, 2008


The best thing about giving up your secrets to your hairstylist is that he (or she; but let’s just assume he’s a man) isn’t going to try to cure you of your little…aberrations. He has no interest in changing you, modifying your behavior, chastising you or telling your friends or your spouse. You are paying him to make you beautiful. And feeling gorgeous loosens your tongue. He is not your mother, your best friend, or your priest. Most importantly, he is not your therapist.

For that hour or two when he is running his fingers through your hair, massaging your scalp, lovingly painting dazzling colors on your locks ~~ he is all yours. And you want to tell him, don’t you? You clench your fists under the gown, curl your toes when the chills go down your spine in the washbowl, close your eyes and... spill it. It’s safe - it’s even a touch erotic. And it’s all yours.

To be continued...

May 26, 2008


Blue-orange flames lick glowing coals; cedar resin fires up - intense bursts that fill the nose with forest scent; exposed skin searing while backsides stay cool; crackling, shifting, feeding, burning. Smoke follows beauty, anyone dare to jump over?, oracles in the fflames, can I have another marshmallow? Stories and remembrances flow from the kiln of cleansing fire. My eyes glaze, my thoughts travel the past and future at equal speed. My body is here ... on this log. My spirit has flown with the heated ether.

May 19, 2008


Angels, Thieves and Winemakers written by Joseph Mills, has come to my attention. Mills is a literary critic who has written a book of poetry about wine. A few poems for your enjoyment...

Wine's Beautiful Illusions

Opening a bottle of wine is an act
of optimism. We're confident it will
improve the moment, the conversation,
the relationships. Each time we pull a cork,
it's as if we're saying,
Here, I think this
will help make things a little better

Some Hypotheses on Why a Second Glass May Taste Better:

Perhaps the eyes see the refill
and signal to the body
At ease:
you're here for a while so
you might as well
loosen the tie
and settle in,
or perhaps the wine itself relaxes
slips out of its cork corset,
begins to breathe
and make itself more sociable,
but it's probably because
you are wiser
than a glass ago.
There is no mystery now
about what the bottle holds.
You no longer have
or illusions
but you still have

Twenty Years Later I Make a Realization About Her Shampoo:

What do you smell,
the winemaker asks,
and I hesitate to answer
because it's an old girlfriend
and weekends in her studio apartment,
milk carton bookshelves
and cracked walls and ceilings
whose stains we pretended formed maps
of countries like Mythica and Fornucopia.
He waits politely
but you can't say
you smell a lover,
broken plaster,
old jokes,
a life you used to have.

Finally, he suggests,
and I realize, yes,
that's it,
the nape of her neck,
her ears, her hair.

May 17, 2008


I'm delighted to have stumbled upon a new, very local winery -- Westport Winery. On the way to the beach to watch the surfing competition, my hubby noticed a new sign on the beach highway. When he called to tell me about it, I was incredulous that there would be a vineyard this close to the coast. Growing conditions are not ideal in our cool part of the coastal northwest. It turns out that the vintner has been making these first wine releases from grapes grown in eastern Washington, where we have a reputation for excellent wines. However, he has planted his own vineyard and is being courageous -- hoping that, in the future, he can make wines from estate grapes.

The reason I say "very local" is because the labels for the wine offered are each different and unique to the history of Grays Harbor county. In addition, the winery wins points with me for giving portions of each sale to various local service and charity groups. These include animal rescue organizations, the Surfrider Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, the county master gardeners' association, theater groups, libraries and even the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee (he was born near here). Because of my veterinary background, I am partial to the Jetty Cat Red! There are many jetty cats in Westport and I've been involved in the past with spaying and neutering them to control populations. But, that's another story.

I suppose one could talk about wine labels getting gimmicky. But, the quality of the wine inside is what counts in the end. If the wine is good, why not have a little fun with the marketing? And if some of the money goes for a good cause, so much the better!The gift bottle I received today was the Surfer's Last Syrah. I haven't opened it yet, but, when I do, I'll post my tasting notes! I do love my vino!


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Aspenglow / Buttered Lips by Gayle Nabrotzky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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