A few months ago I showed you a glimpse into our wedding day, compiled from cell phone photos we’d managed to gather from friends and family. Then on Christmas Eve we received a package from our photographers with all of our photos. It was quite the early Christmas present, and I’d be remiss in letting 2014 come to a quiet close without sharing them with you. Looking back at these photos, what really strikes me are all of the moments that I simply don’t remember — or, frankly, wasn’t there for. It looks like quite a party! As with many weddings, I suppose, we were pulled aside for photos every now and again and were trying to make sure to talk to each of our guests, many who’d traveled quite a long ways to come to Whidbey Island to help us celebrate. So there were dance-offs, cocktail circles and polaroid sessions that we just never saw … until these photos. I’ve loved flipping through and looking at that golden September sunshine, all of our friends and family eating cake, dancing, meeting one another, drinking cocktails. Yes, there’s a cocktail we must discuss here, too.
So first, the ceremony: There was a big, beautiful tree in the backyard of the main house where we decided to hold the ceremony. We set up vintage slatted chairs all along the grass, and printed programs that looked like old Southern fans.
The main house at Jenne Farm is really what sold us on the venue in the first place. While it’s firmly planted in the Pacific Northwest, it has a real Southern charm with its wrap around porch and beautiful old staircase, moldings and lace curtains.
Despite the busy gathering outside, I’m so grateful that there were quiet moments for us to steal, too.
Instead of a guestbook, we had Sam’s old typewriters and asked people to type a little something on notepapers. I found these sweet, small Polaroid cameras and we left them around so our guests could take photos of themselves or the surroundings. We were so, so grateful to have them after the wedding as we waited for the more official photos from the wedding photographers.
The table! We’d both thought so long and hard about the table — I wanted one very long farm table on the side of the main house, and I felt pretty particular about the flowers (lots of wild white flowers mixed in with loose, romantic peach roses and local greenery).
The venue had an old lace runner and beautiful white milk glass vases for the flowers. Sam designed our menus, and I found really beautiful vintage china. I want to rewind and have another meal here.
Once everyone was seated, mingling, snacking and drinking I kept looking down the long table and telling myself to remember this. I’d get goosebumps realizing this was the only time all of these people would be seated at a big table in the Pacific Northwest eating fried green tomatoes, creamy polenta and fall-off-the-bone pork together. The only time.
Choosing the food, cocktails and cake was one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning for me. We both love Southern food and felt like it was in keeping with the feel of the house and the barn. One of our favorite cafes in town makes a mean Southern layer cake, so instead of a more traditional wedding cake we opted for coconut cake, lemon cake and a chocolatey caramel cake. I have a few regrets from our wedding day and one was not eating enough cake. We’ve frozen a small version of the coconut cake to eat on our one year anniversary and it takes all of the willpower I have not to sneak it out on occasion and cut off a small slice.
In addition to the food and cake, the cocktails played a big role in the pre-ceremony and dance party. Sam and I both really love good, strong cocktails and do a lot of experimenting at home. We’d visited our friend Niah at Essex about a month before the wedding to brainstorm ideas and he helped us come up with this one, a really special bright, slightly citrusy rye-based cocktail. Niah pre-mixed these a few days before the wedding so the bartender would just have to pour them in cups with ice and … BOY were they strong. I recall expressing deep concern for the older folks, wondering if they’d make it to cake cutting. Perhaps this explains the memorable dance party. Maybe you can create one (the cocktail and the dance party) in your own living room?
In case you’re curious as to who helped us pull this off:
Venue & Coordination: Jenne Farm // Food: Ciao Thyme Catering // Photography: One Love Photo // Cakes: The Wandering Goose // Vintage Dish Rental: Seattle Farm Tables // Flowers: Jenne Farm // Signage, Menus, Favors, Design: Neversink
This cocktail is named after a beautiful lake in Seattle with a 3-mile (or so) walking path. In the fall, it’s the best for spotting changing leaves; in the summer, the whole city comes to linger, read, sunbathe, and swim. When we were first dating, Sam lived in a bungalow a block from the lake and we walked many a lake lap through all of the various seasons.
Place a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and add all cocktail ingredients. Shake well. Serve over ice.
Winter Comfort Food
I intended on baking holiday cookies to share with you today, but when I sat down to brainstorm all I could think about, truly, was the morning porridge I've been making and how that's really what I wanted to send you away with. The holiday season always seems to zoom on by at its own clip with little regard for how most of us wish it would just slow down, and this year feels like no exception. We got our tree last week and I've been making a point to sit in the living room and admire the twinkle as much as possible. I have lofty goals of snowflakes and gingerbread men and stringing cranberries and popcorn, but I'm also trying to get comfortable with the fact that everything may not get done, and that sitting amongst the twinkle is really the most important. That and a warm breakfast before the day spins into gear. This multi-grain porridge has proved to be a saving grace on busy weekday mornings, and it reheats beautifully so I've been making a big pot and bringing it to work with some extra chopped almonds and fresh pomegranate seeds. While cookies are certainly on the horizon, I think I'll have this recipe to thank for getting us through the busy days ahead.
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
If I asked you about what you like to cook at home when the week gets busy, I'm willing to bet it might be something simple. While there are countless websites and blogs and innumerable resources to find any kind of recipe we may crave, it's often the simple, repetitive dishes that we've either grown up with or come to love that call to us when cooking (or life in general) seems overwhelming or when we're feeling depleted. While my go-to is typically breakfast burritos or whole grain bowls, this Curried Cauliflower Couscous with Chickpeas and Chard would make one very fine, very doable house meal on rotation. The adaptations are endless, and its made from largely pantry ingredients. I never thought I'd hop on the cauliflower "rice" bandwagon, but I have to say after making it a few times, I get the hype.
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
It's been a uniformly gray and rainy week in Seattle, and I'd planned on making a big pot of salmon chowder to have for the weekend, but then the new issue of Bon Appetit landed on my doorstep with that inviting "Pies for Dinner" cover, and I started to think about how long it's been since I made my very favorite recipe from my cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings. I'm often asked at book events which recipe I love most, and it's a tough one to answer because I have favorites for different moods or occasions, but I'd say that this savory tart is right up there. The cornmeal millet crust is one of my party tricks; when we need a quick brunch recipe, this is what I pull out of my back pocket because it's so simple and delicious. This is a no-roll, no fuss crust with a slightly sandy, crumbly texture thanks to the cornmeal, and a delightful crunch from the millet. In the past, I've used the crust and custard recipe as the base for any number of fillings: on The Kitchn last year, I did a version with greens and gruyere, and I teach cooking classes that often include a version heavy on local mushrooms and shallot. So if you are not keen on salmon or have some vegetables you're looking to use up this week, feel free to fold in whatever is inspiring you right now. Sometimes at this point in winter that can be hard, so hopefully this recipe may help a little.