Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Winter Storm ‘06

I love Seattle. I love that the newscasters here are so dramatic. Whenever a big storm front drops buckets of rain, the news begins with the heading like a horror flick…….. enter, scary music…..Winter Storm 06’…..then the footage rolls, flashing the carnage, or well, the floods, followed by the snow and ice and all the stranded drivers, stopping to put chains on, in less than 1 inch of snow. I will admit and give Seattle credit; I mean, we don’t usually get snow, so most people don’t know how to handle it, and I was one of them until this year, now that I have an Ithaca winter or two under my belt. I wouldn’t say that I am an experienced snow driver, but I have to laugh, in the land of SUV’s and Subaru AWD’s, when I see that people have chains on, when really, there isn’t much snow at all on the roadways…just a little ice.

The other morning, I was driving very cautiously to work and I passed car, upon car, upon car…abandoned haphazardly on the side of the road. Schools have closed, and at the restaurant, reservations were cancelled, staff members were MIA…and, today, the restaurant declared a snow day*. This never happened in Ithaca, even when I drove to work in the morning after a night of blizzard. I remember even trying to manuever into a parking space at Pangea, before the snow plow had come. I parked and literally had to dig myself out of the car and to the back door to the kitchen. It is interesting to think of how life goes on in certain places, how so much snow can be an everyday normality, and in other places, the city just grinds to a halt. I have to say that I like it though. That the city grinds to a halt. In the winter when snow shuts down the roads, I have fond memories of sledding down Queen Anne Hill on a slab of cardboard while the rest of the Queen Anne residents partook in some skiing, couch sledding or just watching with Hot Chocolate in hand. It is on these kinds of days that I feel such a sense of community. Every one comes out of hibernation and is having fun. It seems to create a bond between people, especially in the winter months, which can be so dismal here. I think too, that people here just welcome a change in weather from the typical Seattle winter. It is nice to have a break from the rain, especially this month, where we are ever so close to breaking the 1933 record for the most rainfall in one month..EVER. (15.33 inches)

*So, back to the fact that I have today off.. I have already made my rounds for the day..a little window shopping, a hot chocolate, an afternoon jog that I havent gotten around to just yet….and, I really am in the mood for some warm and freshly baked Molasses cookies.

I think that jog might have to wait.

  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tis the Season...


Since it is now officially Christmas Season, kicked off by the
annual stampedes of crazed Walmart Shoppers, I was recently inspired to make my favorite Ginger Stout Cake. I love this cake. It is adult in nature due to the Stout and the dark Blackstrap Molasses, and like many oil based cakes and quick breads, it tastes even better on day 2.

I had this grand idea of ‘spicing’ it up a bit, and I thought how great it would be to add some cranberries, candied ginger, and make it into a cranberry upside-down cake, baked in a bundt style pan.

So, I very generously greased the pan with butter, added a hefty dose of some cinnamon sugar, then I piled the cranberries on top, and I poured in my cake batter. What happened next was no longer in my control, but I had to roll with it. The cranberries which were supposed to remain on the bottom nestled in my sugary buttery mixture, quickly bobbed to the top of the batter….not exactly what I was expecting…

I baked the cake anyway, and when I unmolded it, I was amused to find that the candied ginger, that I had anticipated would be flecked throughout the cake, had made its way to the bottom, nestled in that buttery sugary goodness, while the cranberries stayed suspended at the top.

Umolded and upside-down, the ginger, cinnamon sugar and butter created a nice crunchy chewy texture on the top of the cake, while the cranberries, now pooled at the bottom, created a nice tart contrast to the cakes subtle sweetness.

I think a new cake has been born.

  Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Forgotten Jewels.



Growing up, I think that I disliked Persimmon, even though I never actually tried it. I know, that is just not fair. I think the slimy flesh never did it for me; and for some reason, we always had a loaf or two of persimmon bread from the holidays, hidden in the depths of our freezer,only to be rediscovered come July.

To think that all these years have passed and I never once gave it a chance.

Thanks to our new produce delivery, we received two Fuyu Persimmons in our basket last week. Curious, I cut one open the other night.

I actually really liked it.

It has a very mild flavor, a mild sweetness, and sort of resembled an avocado flavor to me, but in a fruitier way. I have to say, I feel sorry for the Persimmon. Because of people like me who never give it a chance, it may never get its time to shine. But, at our house for those two nights, it shone. In two very good salads, accompanied by walnuts, pears, feta and mixed greens, it did very well.

I would say that the Persimmon stood its ground.

My next Persimmon encounter will be at work this week when I will attempt to forgo my stereotype of turning it into pudding or bread.

Persimmon, I hope to have loftier plans for you.

*Update…Two days later and I have made a couple Persimmon discoveries.
First, it makes a pretty decent Sherbet, with a mild sweet flavor and lovely color. Second, when I attempted to make a cake with it, its subtle flavor was all but drowned out. Funny, the cake was nice and moist, but it reminded me of a very bland pumpkin bread. Needless to say, my debut Persimmon cake didn’t land on the dessert menu tonight, rather, it made a tasty treat for the staff family meal….

* a note about Persimmon. For use in puree's or in breads or cakes, be sure that the fruit is VERY ripe. The slimier the better. If you want to use sliced in a salad, use a slightly less soft (tomato shaped) FUYU Persimmon. Fuyu Persimmons aren't Tannic, so they can be eaten when slightly more firm. The Hachiya Persimmon (acorn shaped) on the other hand, and very Tannic, and they have to be very soft before eaten.

Forgotten Jewels, Part 2.

I admit, up until a few years back, I don’t think that I had ever really seen one, let alone use it in a dessert. It is a funny looking thing, the Quince. It resembles a cross between a Pear and an Apple, yet it seems like an antique somehow. It looks like a fruit that has been around for a while. While in the Pear and Apple family, the Quince is a bit like an Apple on Steroids, in some cases nubby and nobbly…and in other cases, covered in a loose fuzz.

Hmm, sound appealing?

I think the first time I realized the potential in a Quince was when I smelled a very yellow one.

It smelled beautiful.

I think that Quince scare people because you cant just bite into one, or eat it raw in any case. (you can, but you don’t want to.) For the beautifully floral and honeysweet flavor to come out, you need to poach it. Yes, it may be a little more consuming, but believe me, it is worth it.

Vanilla Poached Quince

1 Quince, peeled cut and cored

Bring to a boil with,
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean
Zest of one lemon

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, until tender.
*it helps to lay a paper towel across the poaching liquid, to keep the Quince submerged, so it poaches evenly.

Here is hoping this post will aid in convicing my dad to throw a few poached Quince into his world famous Holiday Apple Crumble.... Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Disclaimer....
My last post may have left some, including myself, to wonder whether I was having indigestion for a reason. I admit, it is less than exciting, the fact that, alas, I am NOT pregnant! Funny how the rumors begin though :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



I always wondered when this would happen.

After years of Apple Jacks, of Halloween candy that I would count nightly and hide in jars so that my family wouldn’t steal it, and if they did, I would know EXACTLY which kind was missing..the years of Oreos, those warm Diet Coke's for breakfast.. And then, all the Novocain, cavities and fillings….and now, all the sweets, nibbles of cookies, spoonfuls of ice cream and bites of cheesecake, merely 30 minutes after I awake each morning. There was a time when I looked forward to coming to work for my morning biscotti and coffee. More recently, it is more of a chore, to test out all my goodies for freshness every morning. Usually, it ends up with a pile of partially noshed sweets. I can only handle one bite of each, and by the time 8 am rolls around, I have..ugh..had my sweet fix for the day.

Well, now, it seems that my stomach is in revolt.

It is telling me:

NO, It really upsets me when you drink coffee..’ (damn.)

‘And um, NO, I actually really don’t like Ice Cream, Panna Cotta OR Cheesecake..’(damn, damn, and damn)

‘And NO, I am not loving Chocolate…and, don’t even try to sneak in that swig of wine while you drown your sorrows.’

‘But, hey, don’t despair! I really LOVE that Yogi Peppermint Tea. so soothing. And, YUM, I really love those noodles, but, hey now darling, hold the sauce!’

This new turn of events has made my job all the more interesting..

Stay tuned for the diagnosis…. Posted by Picasa