I got home from Seattle today with a mailbox full of fall catalogs. Yikes. Then I was talking to a friend and she mentioned how wild it is that tomorrow’s September. I can name something equally wild: the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in two weeks. The truth is that I’ve been a very busy gal; I’m working on a project that I’m not quite ready to mention because I don’t want to jinx it. But hopefully soon I’ll be able to spill the beans and we can have a little chat. In the meantime, let’s talk about this past weekend.
I went to the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Seattle and there were definite moments of awesomeness. I met some fabulous new friends like her, her, her and her. I got a chance to hear photographer Penny de los Santos speak again and sat in on an inspiring talk by Saveur editor, James Oseland. But so many folks have already written about the conference, so I thought I’d tell you what else I was up to. I had some Moonshine cherries. Dear god, have you tried these? My Southern readers–are these in your daily routine? Because I’m going to try and figure out a way to make them a part of mine. Kristina brought them from Tennessee. I knew I’d like her right away.
I also learned a lot about pie. Peach pie, to be exact, made with Frog Hollow Peaches. The lovely Kate McDermott taught a little demo class and I’ve finally learned how to achieve pie-crust greatness.
I stayed with my sister all weekend. And I met her dog Sherman for the first time. I fell in love.
We hit up the dog park and did some serious snuggling. There were also great meals (without Sherman, of course). I finally got a chance to check out Nettletown, the sweet little spot my Seattle friends had told me so much about. It’s one of those places that’s incredibly hard to describe. It has both Chinese and Swiss influences–a reflection of owner Christina Choi’s background. There are great sandwiches, noodle dishes, interesting snacks and desserts (like that peanut butter, chocolate, ginger haystack below). And the space just feels really good. There’s a slower pace and a careful deliberation to the food. Put it on your list next time you’re up in Seattle.
There were glasses of wine, cocktails, laughs until my cheeks hurt, lots of trips over the West Seattle bridge, and homemade Kettle Korn (thanks, Matt!).
And now I’m home–with a big to-do list, staring September straight on in the face. I’ve got new friends to contact, a house to clean before my mom comes home next week (eek!), and a project to keep slaving away on. But first, I’ll unpack. Got to start somewhere.
My good friend Keena was working in India for the last few months and just returned to Seattle, eager to experience as much Pacific Northwest summer as possible in September. I'm with her on this one: It just so happens that towards the end of this month, the farmers markets I've been doing will also come to an end, so things seem like they're both simultaneously gearing up (hike! picnic! beach!) and wrapping up at the same time as I also feel a sense of wanting to cram in as much as I can before the days start getting noticeably shorter. And truly: there's no better recipe to commemorate such efforts than these fresh corn grits with oil-poached summer tomatoes.
For many years, I've always made a summer to-do list. I usually set to work on it right at the beginning of June when the days feel long and ripe with possibility. The list often involves things like learning to bake sourdough bread or making homemade ricotta, doing an epic hike I'd read about in a local magazine, training for a marathon, or reading specific novels. It is always a pretty aspirational list, and I generally don't make much of a dent in it -- resulting in the guilty feeling come late August that I'd wasted too many lazy afternoons when I could've been baking sourdough or making ricotta or doing memorable, epic hikes. But this summer is going to be a bit different: there will be no list. We wait so long in Seattle for long stretches of sunny days, and now that it stays late until 9:30 (or later?), I want to see more of our friends and find stretches of time to do not much of anything except catch up, tan our legs and eat farmers market berries. That's my list.
I received The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon cookbook in the mail not long before we moved to our new house, and I remember lying in bed and bookmarking pages I was excited to try but also feeling overwhelmed with where to start: the truth is that this summer has been a relatively low-inspiration / low energy time in the kitchen for me. I'd been chalking it up to pregnancy but when I think back and if I'm honest with myself, my cooking style tends to be very easy and produce-driven during these warmer months. I rarely break out complicated recipes, instead relying on fresh tomatoes and corn or zucchini and homemade pesto to guide me. But last night I cracked open Sara's book and pulled out a few peaches I've had sitting on the counter, fearing their season may be nearing its end. This morning as I was making coffee, I sliced up the peaches, toasted the pecans and churned away -- having a bite (or maybe two) before getting it into the freezer to firm up.
A triple berry summer crisp made with oats, quinoa flakes and hazelnuts. Summer in a skillet.
We just returned from my mom's cabin on Lake George in upstate New York where we often spend the 4th of July. As usual, each bedroom was packed with family members (this year the couch was even occupied for a night), and our days with reading, lounging on the dock, swimming a bit, maybe jogging down the road or playing tennis if you were feeling ambitious. We drank a notable amount of seltzer water; I managed to read three books and my mom threw us a family baby shower complete with balloons, chocolate cake and Mike's rhubarb bars. In previous years, my mom has planned most of the dinners and even some lunches, but for breakfast we'd all fend for ourselves. I'd often bake a pie or a batch of brownies in the afternoon and everyone would help out where they could, but she would largely do the shopping and brunt of the cooking. This year was different: having just moved from California to Vermont, my mom had a lot on her plate and sent out an email before the holiday weekend asking us all to chip in and help with the meals. Sam and I claimed Friday dinner: we grilled sausages and Sam made his famous deviled eggs. We cut up some unusually seedy watermelon that I found at the co-op in Burlington before we drove out to the lake, and I made a summery quinoa salad that I expected to be kind of epic. The trouble was that it wasn't. I overcooked the quinoa until it was kind of a congealed mush and everything just went downhill from there. But I knew that the idea was strong -- to pack a whole grain salad with all the things of summer (corn! tomatoes! basil!) -- so when we got home to Seattle I tried again. And this time it's a winner.