A New House


I have this theory that it’s bad luck to talk about something until you’re pretty darn sure it’s going to happen. When I applied to graduate schools back East, I sent an application to Harvard. I didn’t tell a soul. I actually remember walking it out to the mailbox and sending it off on its own, as if the secret might contaminate my other mail somehow. The reason? I didn’t see the point in getting everyone excited about the chance I may go to Harvard if I didn’t end up getting in (and, for the record, I didn’t). These past few months have brought about a little bit of quiet sneakiness in their own way. For a while now, Sam and I have known I’d be moving to Seattle. I started telling a select few friends but was cautious to talk too much about it — I wasn’t sure exactly when we’d find a house or what it would look like or if we’d even like the same houses. I wanted to be very sure before sharing the big news with you, but now I can’t wait to tell you: Sam and I found a very sweet craftsman house on a quiet little block with a big tree in front, a huge basement, and a backyard. And I can’t stop thinking about it.


Something funny happens when you sign a lease with someone. With a quick pen stroke, you begin to turn your individual stories into more of a “we.” I think there’s a delayed sense of this with long-distance relationships because you each have your distinct city, your group of friends, your favorite market, your running route. It’s wonderful to share all of those things with the other person when they visit but at the end of the day, they’re still yours. Until now. There have been a lot of we’s and our’s over the past few days. Sam bought us a few new cookbooks for Christmas so we can begin cooking from them together. And I hear him talking on the phone with family or friends about our new breakfast nook or what we might want to do with the paint. I like that.


I booked a whole week visit to Seattle thinking it would take us much longer to find someplace we both liked. Because we snatched up a house so quickly, we had quite a few days to, well, not look at houses. Sam got some work done, I got some writing done, we walked around Discovery Park with Keena, split a burger at Skillet, shared a pizza at Delancey, strolled Ballard Avenue, meandered around the Arboretum, and had a Mexican breakfast with Tea.


We bought loose-leaf tea at Dandelion, saw The Artist with Molly and The Tree of Life on video from Scarecrow. I ran around Greenlake quite a few times and practiced the fine art of layering (we don’t do this in the Bay Area. At least not this year). And the rest of the time? We joked that this was the week where we showed each other what we could cook or bake. I made Sam my favorite chocolate chip cookies. He made me cream scones and banana pancakes. I made a carrot ginger soup a bit like this one. Sam made a kale gratin followed up the next night with a proper pasta carbonara. I made skillet chicken and roast potatoes our last night together. He made a boozy hot chocolate. It went something like that. All week long. It involved quite a few little trips to the grocery store and some notable dish-washing. It also gave us some time to talk about all of the things we want to do with the new house (paint! new blinds! basement workshop!)


So amidst all of this excitement, there remains lots and lots of packing (remember when I said I wouldn’t do this again?!), a little anxiety, and sadness to leave my dear friends and my mom and dad who live right across the bridge. I’m bad with goodbyes. Many people have asked what will become of Marge. The quick answer is that I’ll continue producing granola up in Seattle and nothing will really change in that way. I’ll ship granola down to the shops in the Bay Area that carry Marge and work to grow the business in Seattle. As for the farmers markets? I’m going to take some time off and really reevaluate what I want Marge to look like in Seattle. Perhaps a little pie shop. Perhaps hold off on that while I focus on other projects, and while Sam and I focus on other projects together.  I just don’t quite know right this second. But I’ll tell you when I do. Promise.

From the very beginning of our relationship, there have been so many unknowns. And Sam’s always been the one to encourage me to just go with it. Ride it out. And I have faith that that will continue to be true in this new step. One thing I do know quite a bit about is chocolate. And custard-y desserts.


I thought this was an appropriate recipe to share with you today after thinking about one of the more enjoyable things we ate all week that we didn’t make ourselves: the Dark Chocolate Pudding with Sea Salt that we shared at Skillet on a drizzly Saturday night in Capital Hill. The pudding was thick and chocolatey rather than light and fluffy. You could’ve stood a spoon up in it — creamy and toothsome, it actually reminded me much more of a rich pot de crème than a traditional chocolate pudding.

The night before I left to return to Oakland, Sam took a detour to drive by the new house. I wasn’t paying attention until we turned down our new street and I recognized it right away. It sits a bit taller than the rest. It’s this lovely shade of evergreen and has a big, brick chimney. We just sat parked outside for a short bit, both grinning ear to ear — a grin quite similar to the one I have as I sit at my kitchen table with a little cup of chocolate pot de crème writing to you now.

Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme with Sea Salt

Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme with Sea Salt

  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 30 mins
  • Inactive time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Total time: 2 hrs 10 mins

For this recipe, I was aiming for thick and decadent yet super creamy. I increased the amount of chocolate that most pot de crème require and added a dash of espresso powder to deepen the dark cocoa flavor. The combination of creamy dark chocolate, almond, salt and cocoa nibs makes this a rather irresistible dessert, indeed.  And quite simple, too.

Adapted from: Martha Stewart

Ingredients

3/4 cups half-and-half
2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), chopped
1 tbsp. sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
Pinch of salt
cocoa nibs, for sprinkling on top
whipped cream, optional

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bring half-and-half barely to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and sugar. Stir until chocolate and sugar dissolve into the mixture.  Let stand 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together egg yolk, vanilla, almond extract, espresso powder and salt. Gradually stir the half-and-half mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking as you combine the two. To make for a smooth custard, pour the chocolate mixture through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup. This should yield 8 ounces (1 cup).

Place 2 oven-proof cups or ramekins in a shallow roasting pan, and divide chocolate mixture among them. Pour hot water into the pan so it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups.

Bake until custards are almost set in centers, about 30 minutes (custards will firm as they cool). Carefully remove cups from hot-water bath and let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Comments

  1. olga

    Oh that is the best news -- congratulations, Megan!!! Great stuff!

  2. Kasey

    I'm exactly the same way about not sharing stuff until I know, for sure, it's happening. I think it might be a self-defense mechanism :) In any case, I'm immensely sad that you are leaving, but I am SO SO excited for you and Sam to start this new chapter in your lives together and I can't wait to come to Seattle to visit you. Much love. xoxo

    1. megang

      Thank you, Kasey! You and Matt must, must visit. Good food --and--music : win/win.

  3. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    Congratulations to you and Sam as you embark on this new journey together. I've always thought that life is better, in almost every way, as a "we". Enjoy my friend, so happy for you. :)

  4. Jacqui

    I'm all smiles for you guys, too. So excited for you and Sam, and for what comes next! Good things, for sure. :)

  5. nicole

    How lovely! So much I can relate to here re the long-distance relationship ... and it's so, so good to have your loved one helping you to keep faith along the way (I relate to that a whole lot, too.) Cheers to next steps and adventures!

  6. Ashley

    Seattle is so fortunate to have you. I can not wait!!

  7. Anna

    Congratulations on the next step in your journey and best of luck with transitions, new beginnings and all that is to come!

  8. Abby

    Oh, wonderful news. Congratulations! Your house sounds lovely, and I'm hoping we'll see pictures sometime along the way...

  9. Janet

    Man, if you guys are gonna cook like that I can't WAIT to come visit.

    Seriously, so happy for you (though so sad for me). I'm excited for your house and your new adventures and your love story.

    PS: Where the heck was I when you made this? You know Pot de Creme is my favorite dessert ever, right!? ;)

    1. megang

      Janet: You've successfully hidden your pot de creme love from me all this time. So that means: I did, in fact, eat both all on my own. You'll be happy to know this did not happen on the same evening. Love you!

  10. kickpleat

    What exciting news!!! I can't wait to see more photos and see how the rest of the story develops. I used to be very anti-Seattle but have come around in the past few years to really love it. Hip hip hooray!!!!

  11. Danielle

    This is a bittersweet post in so many ways. Really, really happy for you and Sam and I have a feeling that this move will bring many marvellous things to Megan the writer and Marge. Let's make the most of the next few weeks! xx

    1. megang

      Thank you, Danielle! I have a good feeling about Marge and Megan up North, too :) It's been quite a year (for both of us!) hasn't it? So looking forward to spending some time with you soon, my friend.

  12. Amy

    Ah, congratulations!! How lovely. I'm from Seattle area (warmed my heart reading this post), but I've always dreamed of living in the Bay area one day... how ironic. Anyway, how exciting and wonderful and lovely! Enjoy Seattle, Sam, and the "we". :)

  13. Amy P

    So, so happy for you! One good food city to another- and the house sounds absolutely lovely. Good luck with the packing. Also, I seriously wish I could have some of that pot de creme right this very moment...looks amazing

  14. la domestique

    Congrats on your new home! I love new beginnings and decorating a fresh space! The pudding looks delicious too.

  15. Dana

    I hope you know how happy I am about this news. And even happier that you will be so close by. And even happier that you are happy. Here is to happy hours, dinner parties, walks around the lake (or runs), yoga, and friendship.

    1. megang

      Dana: I am so, so looking forward to dinners, walks, drinks, and yoga. And spending much more time together! Hope you're enjoying a little kid-free time today. xox!

  16. beti

    congratulations!! I wish you luck on this new step of your life

  17. Christa

    This post has me so excited with the possibilities and new life you will both share together. I'm so happy for my sweet brother, so happy he has you, that you have him and happy I can claim you too.

    1. megang

      Thank you so much, Christa! I'm excited, too. Can't wait for you to visit again and see the house...I think it'll be really sweet once we get all settled in.

  18. Chez Us

    Peas in a pod we are. I don't tell anyone until the ink is dry; always afraid of jinx something that could be really good. Megan, I am so happy for you, and for Sam. I am going to miss you terribly; but we are only a phone call or skype session away; plus, we are already talking about a visit!

    1. megang

      Denise! Hooray for visits soon. Janet's planning one, too ... would be so great if they corresponded. Yes, I'll miss you terribly too but I know we'll be all over skype in no time :) xox

  19. Anna @ the shady pine

    Hi, I have just come across your lovely blog.

    Congratulations on this next big step, I look forward to more reading here in 2012.

  20. Lisa Waldschmidt

    Pot de creme are our favorites. I always associate them with San Francisco. Grace and I fell in love with the little glass jars of caramel pot de creme that Miette used to sell in the Ferry Building while we were falling in love with San Francisco. I don't think they sell it in the same round bottom jars.

  21. Mary

    Could not be happier for you + Sam! So glad we crossed paths.

    1. megang

      As am I, Mary. You have always been such a huge supporter of Marge + Megan. And you always have a place to stay when you visit Seattle....really.

  22. Y

    How exciting and congrats! Best wishes to the two of you in your new home and new city!

  23. Jessica Brunner

    You don't know me, but I am friends with Rach, and I hear so many good things about you, so I feel as if I know you...congratulations on your move. You will not regret Seattle! If you need anything...lmk.

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Aaron! Yes, both cities aren't such shabby choices. It's true. Hope you're having a great week.

  24. lori

    Dear Megan,
    I hope your life continues in the way you spent that week--filled with smiles, joy in being we, good food and reveling in the potential of what will be.
    All the best,
    Lori

  25. Rachel | Minneapple Pie

    Congrats! This is truly exciting and as I begin to look for a house with my long-term partner, this timing is remarkable and your post only amps up my excitement! Love the recipe. Can't wait to hear more about your new craftman. :)

    1. megang

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Rachel. Good look with your house-hunting!

  26. Rachael

    Another family and group of friends awaits your arrival to the northwest. I cannot explain the excitement and anticipation I have for your move! Finally the dinners we've always discussed, late night granola making with glasses of wine and dog walks in discovery park :) love you sister

  27. Gail {a stack of dishes}

    How wonderful! Congratulations! How wonderful you made everything sound. I am in the midst of moving myself, so I can relate to the new start, fresh paint, the creation of the next.

  28. k a t

    Seattle will be glad to have you!

    I'm excited to see what you'll do up here. Do keep us posted! ;)

    Congrats!

  29. Allison

    Many, many congratulations! Building a home together is truly one of the most enjoyable adventures!

  30. Valerie

    I've been following your blog for the last year or so. Your writing about long distance has been a great type of company as I am also in a wonderful distance-challenged relationship. I am so happy for you, and excited to see pictures of your new home and life in Seattle. My two year stint will be over in June, so my excitement for you bleeds a little into my own soon-coming joy.

    1. megang

      Hi Valerie! Thanks so much for your comment; I'm so glad you're relating to the blog. There will surely be more pictures and stories to come ... and, for you, June will be right around the corner.

  31. Karen

    Hi, I'm a new fan of your blog. Just wanted to say congratulations!! As someone who has recently ended a long-term relationship these kinds of stories give me hope, so thank you for that. Also, I just made the pot-de-creme recipe above and it's amazing!! Best of luck to you!

  32. Jill Mant~a SaucyCook

    Wow! This looks delicious. I am dying to try it. Do you think it would be okay with milk in lieu of cream?

    1. megang

      Hi Jill! I think it's worth a serious go. I make it with half and half and I think if you use whole milk and don't alter anything else, it should be just fine. It'll be a little looser, if that makes sense, and a little more like pudding but I think it should set just fine. Good luck (report back!)

  33. meatballs & milkshakes

    Yum! I made a similar pudding at Christmas for my Feast of the Seven Fishes, which was so delicious and then went on a cleanse for a couple weeks...I think it's time to make it again! This looks wonderful!

  34. CHonn

    Made this last night. OMG... sinful. Made with Theo spicy chocolate bar and drizzled a little bit of good quality evvo over the top - ummm... AMAZING. Seriously.

  35. shanna

    Oh, I love this. Feeling so happy for you, my friend. Huge congratulations on all these good things--and more to come, I'm sure of it. : )

  36. Let Me Eat Cake

    seattle seems like a lovely place to live! loving this dessert and looking forward to making it this weekend!

  37. Suzanne Perazzini

    I love the styling of that top photo and of course the chocolate pudding.

  38. Jill Mant~a SaucyCook

    Congratulations on both your new home and your new life. It can be so scary entering the unknown and letting things unfold as they should...but exhilarating too. I know because I am "in process" or "in progress". In the meantime,I am going to make these yummy looking Chocolate Pot De Cremes with Sea Salt and let 'er rip! Thank you for the lovely recipe and the even lovelier post.

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