Pin A Day February

These days, receiving a compliment for something I did or made often warrants the response of “thanks, I saw it on Pinterest!” My friends, family, and coworkers have all benefited from the collective brilliance of this visual idea machine. You might think museum is a more appropriate analogy for what is officially a public “pin board”–a place for storing and showing simple ideas–but I say machine because more often than not I don’t straight ahead copy a Pinterest idea, it just gets me started in a new direction, and that idea can lead to another and so on. It’s great!

Anyhoo, I had been thinking of setting some kind of goal to make myself DO more things I pin, since I have so many, adding more evey day, and I never have the time to do more than MAYBE one a week. Since some are larger DIY projects and others are quick little things I thought I could probably average one a day for a month if motivated by, say, the shortest month of the year. So, this February I’m doing just that.

The month is already flying by so quickly that this is the first time I’ve sat down to take stock of how it’s going. So let’s back-track a bit!

Friday the 1st:
Tension rod under the sink for cleaning supply storage. This didn’t turn out nearly so well as the original pinner’s attempt. I ordered a tension rod from Amazon, and while it fits perfectly, the tension just isn’t that great. When I hung the spray bottles the weight was enough to pull the whole thing down. Fortunately, there was an ever-so-slight ledge up higher on the sides of the cabinetry, so I scooted the rod up to rest on that. That was just enough support that it holds the bottles fine, but now it’s up so high that sliding the spray bottles on and off is a little awkward because their tops hit the top of the under-cabinet. I may replace the rod with a better quality version at some point, but meh for now! This is what it was supposed to look like:underthesink

Saturday the 2nd:
I bought some Method foaming hand soap for the bathroom a while ago. When it ran out I bought a refill bag, thinking we’d save some $ and avoid wasting the plastic of the dispenser. Then I discovered that whoops! I had bought their non-foaming liquid soap. Because I was still using the foaming dispenser, it tried foaming it with each squirt, resulting in kind of a weird, sploogey experience. Pinterest to the rescue! Apparently you can make your own foaming soap by just adding water to regular liquid soap. No joke. Just make sure you use very little soap–like an inch–and fill the rest of the way up with aqua. Give it a little shake to combine and blammo: foaming soap! The refill stuff will last us forever now! foamsoap

Sunday the 3rd:
This one was kind of a cheat because I had done it before, but these bedtime stretches are great and worth many repeats.

Wednesday the 6th:
Lemon-tahini roasted cauliflower. This turned out delicious but fairly different from the original pin. For one. I have no idea how she got those nice slabs of cauliflower. I suspect she sliced multiple heads and just used the innards because only the “heart” of my cauliflower stayed in one piece. No matter, I floret-ed the whole thing so they’d cook evenly. I served in a warm pita, half slathered with the lemon-tahini sauce (with extra lemon and garlic, duh) and half shmeared with hummus. It was really delicious but only some pieces were crispy like she wrote about. Next time–crank up the heat and serve less time in the oven. 20130210-232722.jpg
Thursday the 7th:
Crescent roll apple pies! Man these were easy and real tasty. I mixed cinnamon and sugar and spooned it directly onto the full triangle of dough, added a couple slices of apple, then rolled up, pinching the sides up/in, light dusting of more cinnamon and sugar. The original source used butter in the cinnamon-sugar mix but I left it out and didn’t miss it. One issue surfaced–the apples didn’t have that apple pie consistency because the dough crisped up too quickly to give them a chance to soften. I think a lower temp for longer would do the trick.

Saturday the 9th:
A year of happy memories jar. Anytime something happy happens–not EVERYTHING because jeez! But the stuff that I want to remember– I’ll write it down on a little piece of paper and pop in the jar. At New Year’s I’ll read them all and remember all the great things that happened throughout 2013. Since I’m starting late I just wrote what I could remember and put them in a Mason jar. Maybe it’ll be a good enough year I’ll have to upgrade to a bigger container! memoryjar

Sunday the 10th:
Good morning yoga sequence.Well, I tried to do all of these–I’m not flexible enough to properly do the 6th pose, and I was really wobbly on the last–but man it still did a good job waking me up and getting my blood flowing. Good morning indeed! 🙂


I didn’t get anything done the 4th, 5th, or 8th, so I have 3 extra pins to fit in by the end of the month. Fun stuff so far!

Birthday Squash with Sausage

Deciding what to do with a rogue butternut squash is one of the more pleasant Grey Season conundrums. Today was Ian’s birthday and I didn’t want to buy a bunch of groceries since we’re doing the big party thing tomorrow, but I didn’t want to make the poor guy eat from my Frozen Soup Hoard on his big day. So I looked around the kitchen and found the aforementioned squash, some kale, and 2 Link Lab jalapeño pork sausage links in the freezer, and came up with the following deliciousness:


3-4 large leaves kale, big veins removed, chopped
1 butternut squash, halved and scooped
2 large links good pork sausage
1/3 cup (dry) red quinoa
1/3 cup veggie broth
Scant 1/4 cup water
1 large shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon stoneground mustard
Eyeball quantities:
Sherry vinegar
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder and ground cumin
Wildflower honey (clover’s fine!)

Preheat oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove papery skins from shallot and garlic, toss into blender or Magic Bullet cup. Chop the kale (well rinsed and dried) and throw into a large mixing/serving bowl.

Place halved squash face down onto cookie sheet and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, toast quinoa for a few minutes, tossing to do so evenly. Add veggie broth, water, and a few shakes of garlic powder and cumin and stir. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Leave covered until water is absorbed, then remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Transfer quinoa to bowl of kale.

Attend to the blender or MB cup of shallot and garlic. Add 1 part sherry vinegar, 1 part lemon juice, and 2 parts olive oil. Add mustard and a short stream of honey, season with salt and pepper. Blend for a good minute. If the shallot and garlic are being chunky stinkers try doing short pulses. Transfer to bowl of kale and quinoa and toss well.

Remove squash from oven and let cool just enough to handle.

Remove casing from sausage. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, add a dash of oil if it’s not super seasoned. Plop down the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. Brown meat and crumble it down as you cook. Once cooked through, set aside.

Remove skin from squash. Sometimes you can hand peel it off but others you may need to use a vegetable peeler. Chop into roughly 1-1.5″ chunks and transfer to the bowl of kale, etc. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Add sausage to the party in the big bowl and toss to combine. Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread!

We paired this with a nice green salad of butter lettuce, arugula, gooey ripe persimmons, toasted hazelnuts and a light hazelnut oil dressing. Didn’t keep the meager leftovers so sadly no picture.

Blackberry Lemonade

This is maybe the yummiest, easiest treat ever. The main barrier is the cost of blackberries, but the ones I used today were courtesy of a scantily ravaged chunk of abandoned railroad, a plucky last-gasp heat wave, and determination, with the small extra cost of minor abrasions and sweaty-helmet hair.

Anyhoo, get yer paws on some juicy sweet blackberries!

Throw ’em in your blender for a while. Add puree directly to your favorite tart, and already-chilled, lemonade and stir briefly to combine. I went with about a 1:2 ratio for outrageous berry goodness. If you’re feeling fancy, strain the seeds out before mixing with lemonade. Either way the taste is magical. And that color! What a great way to celebrate summer’s last hurrah and toast to the coming season of darkness and death. 🙂


Hippie Harvest Salad

1 butternut squash, halved “hotdog style”
3 sweet potatoes, peeled diced
1 Walla Walla (or other sweet yellow) onion, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 bunch kale, veins removed, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup white quinoa and 3/4 cup red quinoa (dry measurement)
3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 chunk of semi-hard (slightly aged) sheep’s milk cheese, thinly sliced, then cut into bite-sized pieces

Dressing: juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard, 2 cloves pressed garlic, 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil, eyeball EVOO, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Add water and veggie broth to a medium sized pot with a fitted lid, and bring to a boil.

While you wait for the above liquids to heat up, dump both the red and white quinoa into a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir frequently to toast evenly. As soon as a few white grains appear toasted (and you’ll smell a nice warm nutty scent) transfer quinoa to the broth-water mixture. Stir well and cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the liquids have been absorbed. Remove lid, fluff cooked quinoa with a fork, remove from heat, and set aside for later.

While quinoa is cooking, take the halved butternut squash, drizzle with EVOO, season with S&P, and place face-up on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Take out and set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove skin, chop up, and place finished squash in a mixing bowl.

Make dressing by whisking all ingredients together.

Carefully rinse and dry kale before chopping. Place in very large serving bowl and add dressing, tossing to coat evenly. Let sit/marinate while you finish the veggies, this will soften the kale a bit and make the nutrients more available.

Add sweet potatoes, onion and apple to the same parchment-lined baking sheet as above, toss with olive oil, and bake about 25 minutes. When potatoes are soft with slightly crispy/wrinkly edges, remove from oven and add to the bowl with the squash. Season the lot liberally with sea salt and toss to combine.

Add all veggies to the serving bowl of dressed kale. Add however much quinoa looks good to you. Add the sliced cheese to that, and top it off with the hazelnuts. Toss gently to combine and enjoy!

This makes surprisingly good leftovers and would be a great make-ahead potluck contribution.

Locavore Note: butternut squash, potatoes, kale, onion, apple, hazelnuts, garlic, and sheep’s milk cheese can all be easily sourced from PNW farmers in early fall. Olive oil, S&P, quinoa, mustard, lemon are always imports.


My thoughts after the VP debate that really have nothing to do with either candidate or anything they said…

I’m not a fan of the idea of “recessions”. To me, it implies that the stretches of prosperity in between economic lag is more normal, more right. Talk about a “glass is half full” philosophy, except everybody seems to accept it as fact rather than wishful thinking.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m all “yay for poverty!” or anything. But we have a good chunk of our country–those immersed in generational poverty, for example–whose lives are pretty equally difficult through “recessions” and “economic boons.” They don’t go away, they’re just easier for everybody else to ignore when you aren’t rubbing elbows with ’em in the food bank queue.

That said, I realize that times of prosperity are when most people find it in what passes for their hearts to “work” on helping others. And sure, when there’s money in the bank it’s easier to invest in the future than when you don’t know where your next rent check will come from. I get it. It can feel counter-intuitive to help others when you’re struggling to help yourself.

But man is that a whole Chicken and the Egg situation! By looking out for others you end up helping yourself. By taking care of yourself you end up helping others. I think the key is expanding your idea of who “we” are and reducing who “they” are as much as possible, but that’s a rant for another day.

Back to recessions! 😛 This one we’re in the midst of now is the worst–by degree and longevity–the U.S. has had since the Great Depression. So why is there so little discussion about the GD? You’d think politicians would be all up on that! I mean, all the social stuff Obama has been trying to do, against absurd resistance from asswipe Republicans (no offense meant to non-asswipe conservatives), falls right in line with what worked last time. How are they failing to advertise that? They’re not just making crazy shit up. They briefly went the “hey it works for most of Europe, you guys, look how happy they are” route but that was dumb because the opposition hates being compared to any other country, because Amercuh, damn it! So fine, scrap that. Let’s focus on America being super fucking American, and awesome. Hey look, that’s easy, ’cause we’ve gone down this road ourselves before. Fuuuuck.


Crazy alien-lookin’ cabbage (ate a lot of cabbage in August!)

Our local bounty!

BLTA sandwiches were a favorite throughout the month.

Peanut-ginger spaghetti with sugar snap peas and purple cabbage

A Pinterest-inspired breakfast experiment. Sort of a hybrid granola bar and oatmeal muffin with fresh fruit and nuts.

Finally tried my hand at canning, inspired by amazing Yakima tomaters. 2 jars of quartered and 3 diced. Hope I don’t kill us this winter!20120927-223040.jpg

Zucchini-Corn Mozzarella Bake with Almost Pesto

This was a last minute addition to my contributions to a potluck we hosted, inspired by the fact that we had a huge zucchini and some corn that were on their last fresh legs. Our CSA had given us fresh basil the last few weeks so I ended up Magic Bullet-ing a bunch of it (with EVOO and fresh garlic), freezing the puree in an ice cube tray, and popping the herby popsicles into a gallon baggie in the freezer. Having such great stuff on hand made this side a cinch–and so fast to throw together! Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture in the midst of guests arriving, but it did turn out quite lovely as well as yumtastic.

1 very large zucchini, thickly sliced and quartered
2 ears of corn, cut off the cob
2 balls of mozzarella, sliced and quartered
3 frozen cubes of puréed basil, garlic, EVOO (approx 4 tablespoons fresh?)
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 375.

Warm a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the basil ice cubes. Once they’ve melted about half-way, add the zucchini and corn. Stir occasionally to evenly coat veggies with basil and olive oil and gently cook most of the way through. Remove from heat and season lightly with sea salt.

Evenly arrange mozzarella on top and sprinkle the pine nuts on top of cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes. Enjoy as soon as you please!

Taco Salad

Most folks think they know what taco salad is–a salad of taco fillings inside a bowl-shaped tostada shell–and most folks are incorrect. Edible bowls are dumb because if you eat it you lose a very functional bowl and where does your food go? And if you don’t eat it your meal is missing an important ingredient. LAME-O. Proper taco salad is ALL the taco goodness tossed into taco bliss! Today we had this version:

A few big leaves of green leaf lettuce, chopped
1 amazingly meaty and juicy tomato, chopped
About 1/4 cup Beecher’s Flagship cheese, grated
2 green onions, diced
Handful of raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 a huge avocado, chopped
1/2 pound ground beef, pre-cooked and pre-seasoned from our freezer
About a cup tortilla chips, crushed a bit by hand
About 1/4 cup whisked-up dressing: EVOO, lime juice, clover honey, cumin, paprika, and black pepper

The spices, olive oil, lime juice and tortilla chips were non-local Pantry items and the avocados are my one caveat ingredient. The rest is legit, including the beef previously bought from Olsen Farms a couple months ago.

We ate this with sliced up yellow nectarine as dessert and it was sooooo good and soooo summery. Gettin’ into the swing of this whole local thang!

The Real Deal

Yesterday was the first day of our experimental diet but I felt a bit like a cheater because we used one of our exceptions right off the bat by eating dinner at Local 360.

Today, though, aha!

Breakfast was fine–a fresh fruit smoothie and some toast from “the pantry.” Yeah, OK, another loophole. :/

Lunch, however…Ian and I were both at work downtown and had failed to prepare/bring sack lunches. Thursdays we typically get together for a lunch date anyhow, so met up and headed to Pike Place without much of a plan beyond I wanted to find nuts.

The market is FULL of delicious local foods, but we learned today that it’s pretty slim on prepared local foods. There’s produce a-plenty and butchers and cheese stands, but none of the restaurants specialize in putting it all together, at least not with non-local staples thrown into the mix.

Well, we found some nuts! So we had cashews from some nut stand and smoothies from Tiny’s for lunch, not bad at all. Salty protein and sweet energy had me feeling pretty good all the way to dinnertime (which was full of Beecher’s cheesy goodness). However, lesson learned–tomorrow I’ll remember to brown-bag it.

An Experimental August

Last autumn I read the book The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Written by a couple living in an apartment in Vancouver (BC), it felt very relevant to me, a city-dwelling wannabe farmer with weird obsessions with the idea of amassing what I call “pioneer skills” and the pursuit of experiencing The Laaaand in as many ways as possible. They wrote a lot about the difficulty of finding specific ingredients and some emotional stuff, but the parts that were by far the most interesting to me were the stretches of natural history of the surrounding area. An area that is both close and similar to The Laaaaand and sea around Seattle.

“The Laaaaand,” by the way, must be said in a purposefully funny, exaggerated voice every time. How else to reference–mostly to myself–a whole philosophy that I hold with complete sincerity while also being aware that it’s pretty ridiculous, mostly unrelate-able, and ultimately pointless. I like the stories mountains tell, the history in soil, the amazing influence of small streams and rivers. Animal population ebb and flow and how humans effect all of that is all just amazing to me. I like smelling the different smells and eating anything I can right off of a bush or a tree, and tasting the difference between things grown in different climates. I like feeling a nice breeze while eye-ballin’ a big rock that’s been gradually carved away by just such breezes. You could put a hippie-dippy spin on it being about connecting to shit but that’s sadly not it at all. It’s just, you know, life. It’s not inherently a good thing, but it feels important to take pause all the same.

SO! The Laaaaand. That’s what it’s all about.

At any rate, I was pretty jazzed about the idea of trying a local diet. Not for a full year like they did, and most likely not restricted to 100 miles, but still, I was pretty confident that the Puget Sound would have even more plentiful food sources than they had up in the Salish Sea. However, since it was fall, I tabled the idea after warning Ian that I was likely to propose a-somethin’ something in the spring or summertime. And here we are!

This month we’re doing a 200 mile diet, with a few life-easing caveats.

1) Because Ian works a lot of unexpected overtime these days it’s OK for him to eat whatever his work feeds him when he stays late.
2) The idea of not eating avocados while local tomatoes are in season made me too sad, so I get to eat those from California.
3) The Pantry Rule lets us eat anything we already have in the kitchen so it doesn’t go to waste.
4) We can scrap the rules when we go over to friends’ and family’s places and get fed so we don’t have to ungracious.
5) And we don’t have to be entirely hermetic because we have a 1 restaurant green light for Local 360, which doesn’t fit our 200 mile radius but does source everything from the Pacific Northwest.

The main rule is we can’t buy any food that comes from outside a 200 mile radius.

I’m most excited to see what my home tastes like and experience the summer season in a new and complete way. EXTREME TERROIR! Hehe!