Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Canlis Experience: Not One to Be Missed

You crawl up Highway 99, barely keeping pace in the right lane, for fear that if you miss the driveway you’ll be jettisoned over the bridge and into that foreign land that is “North of the Shipping Canal”. Your speed, which is much more in alignment with the Senior Citizen community that used to frequent this establishment, is in direct contrast to your Spring couture and daring high heels, because if there’s anywhere in Seattle you can wear true fashion in March, it’s here. Pulling in, you are greeted by the famous valets, who mysteriously remember which car is yours, and escort you into an evening of sheer bliss. Arriving inside, it is one smiling, beautiful face after another, seeming to know instantly what you want even before you do, and existing for no other reason than to meet your needs.

Yes, dear readers, we are talking about Canlis. An icon of the Seattle food scene, that has existed for generations, but has recently undergone a transformation, albeit subtle, to reinvent itself to a modern destination of creativity and cache, while still maintaining its old values of service and elegance.

We were there at the invitation of one of the owners, Brian Canlis, who took over the restaurant from his parents in 2003, being joined a few years later by his brother Mark.  Two foodie friends, enjoying a night out on the town, and feasting on the spectacular cuisine and impeccable service, that Canlis both promises and delivers.

It was a meal of epic proportion, each dish better than the last, delighting the senses and aweing the eyes. Yes, Canlis is spendy, there’s no denying that, but for an evening of true celebration or fun, you’d be hard pressed in Seattle to find anything better.

Here, a few of our favorite dishes that seemed to magically arrive at our table, whisked out by the never-ending team of servers that would appear without you seeing them coming, and be gone before you’d lifted your eyes from whatever masterpiece had just  been delivered.

Amuse Bouche: A Rhubarb celery puree topped with popped quinoa.

The Canlis Prawns are ambrosial, and utterly satisfying. Lucky for us, Canlis is willing to share the recipe on that one.

Peter Canlis Prawns: Sauteéd in dry vermouth, garlic, red chilies, and lime.

On we went from there, to perhaps the most beautiful dish of the night, and a personal favorite:  The Foie Gras.: A torchon accompanied by rabbit rillette, Sauternes, and pine ash, served with a warm brioche.

Foie Gras: A torchon accompanied by rabbit rillette, Sauternes, and pine ash, served with warm brioche.

 The Crab Cake followed, which our server endearingly (and accurately) described as, “about the size of a hockey puck”. While this dish lacked the “wow” factor of some of its predecessors and followers, it was fully consumed and enjoyed, nonetheless.

Dungeness Crab Cake: Crisped, with artichoke "risotto", sauce barigoule, and extra virgin olive oil.

I won’t taunt you with the detail of everything else we had: The Canlis Salad:  a standard at the restaurant and worth trying. Hamachi Sashimi: A complex and pleasing collection of flavors. The Halbibut: A standout of the evening, pan seared and served with cannellini beans, Spanish chorizo, and taggiasca olives.

Chicago-based Intelligentsia Cappucino.

The evening ended with a perfect cappuccino (from Chicago’s boutique Intelligentsia not Starbucks, bien sur) and desserts from Canlis’ pastry chef that have you going back for bite after bite, despite declaring, “I’m never eating again.”  The Mille-Feuille: Milk chocolate, banana, caramel, and peanut butter and The Chocolate Fondant: With ginger, milk crumble, and toasted rice are both to die for.

Start saving your pennies and getting out your shiniest shoes for a dinner at Canlis. You won’t  be disappointed. In the meantime, pour yourself a glass of your best champagne, imagine there’s a piano player in your kitchen, and  enjoy these few recipes, compliments of Canlis itself.

Peter Canlis Prawns

(serves 3-4)

5-15 Black Tiger Prawns, 16/20s, shells removed and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 cup vermouth, Lejon Extra Dry
1/4 cup Shrimp Butter (recipe follows)
sea salt & pepper to taste
baby greens for garnish

Directions

Heat a stainless steel pan with the olive oil on high heat. Just before smoking point, add cleaned prawns and sear, adding salt and pepper. When half cooked, pour off excess oil and add garlic. Remove the pan from the heat and de-glaze with vermouth and lime juice. Add the chilies, return pan back to the heat, and reduce liquid by half. Add Shrimp Butter and adjust seasoning. Remove prawns and arrange on the plate around baby greens. Finish with sauce coating the tops of the prawns. Shrimp Butter: Roast the shrimp shells in convection oven at 500° for 2 minutes, or until pink. Add shells to blender with an equal amount of boiling hot butter and let blend for a few minutes until the shells are completely broken down. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and chill in an ice bath, whisking the butter to bring it back together.

The Canlis Salad

(serves 4 to 6)

Salad

1 large head Romaine hearts, cut into 1″ pieces
(Wash individual leaves in warm water, drain and dry in colander then chill in refrigerator. Don’t ever, ever toss a Canlis Salad with warm or wet leaves!!)
8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup very well done chopped bacon
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh mint*
1 tablespoon thinly sliced oregano leaves
1/2 cup croutons*
kosher salt and fresh ground tellicherry black pepper to taste

Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground tellicherry black pepper
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 coddled egg*

Ingredient notes:

Mint – you can’t use too much mint (experiment yourself)
Coddled Egg – Pour boiling water into a cup and put a whole egg (in the shell) into the hot water , let sit for 1 minute. You may substitute with pasteurized egg mixture (found in the dairy section in cartons).
Croutons – We make our own croutons. Butter and Italian seasoning.

Directions:

To make the dressing, put the salt and pepper, lemon juice, oil, and coddled egg in a bowl and whip vigorously, then reserve. To a salad bowl add the prepared Romaine, green onion, cheese, bacon, oregano, and mint. Pour dressing over salad and toss thoroughly. Split the salad on to four chilled plates and arrange croutons, a sprinkle of Romano cheese and halved cherry tomatoes on the salad to finish the presentation.

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Breakfast Brioche, Baked Eggs, Bubbles, and Bulldogs

Cutest little guy you ever did see.

Remember how I was making a case to bring  the Slumber Party back? Well I’m adding something else to that list: Brunch and Bubbles. A perfectly brilliant combination, brunch allows for so many of my favorite things (easy, make-ahead dishes; beautifully set tables; champagne before noon). Furthermore, in these wildly busy lives that we all seem to lead, where syncing up calendars can often result in not seeing dear friends for weeks, Sunday Brunch seems to be a secret pass, often unscheduled and just waiting for a mimosa to kick it off.

This past weekend’s brunch was even better than usual, because not only did we have Blueberry Mimosas, Savory Breakfast Brioches, and Baked Eggs…we had Bulldogs! Well, just one bulldog to be precise, and a pretty stinking cute one at that. Meet Madden Hardaway Fay.

Lest you think it’s not possible, let me assure you that he is even cuter in person…the kind of cute that makes your heart pop and damn your willpower not to get a second dog. The only thing cuter than a 12-week old bulldog puppy? A 12-week old bulldog puppy romping and rolling for all he’s worth with Mr. Duke. They played for hours, we ate and drank for hours, and everyone was oh-so-pleased.

Those Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Buns were pretty out of this world, but since Matt is vehemently opposed to almost all things sweet, I decided to try a savory variety. And let me just say…we may have a problem here. They were delicious (damn them), and a perfect brunch entrée since they can be made completely ahead and then just popped into the oven the morning of. Serve them with Baked Eggs and Bubbles, and raise a toast to bringing brunch back.

Savory Breakfast Brioche with Prosciutto, Pesto, Feta, and Artichokes

Savory Breakfast Brioche, with Prosciutto, Pesto, Artichoke Hearts, and Feta

Serves 8

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°, you can use a meat thermometer to check)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and chopped into about 16 small pieces, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon. salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling:

  • 1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup pesto
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup feta (you could sub another cheese if you liked)

How-To

  1. Make the dough.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 7 – 10 minutes. You want to see some little air bubbles.
  2. Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, salt and 3 cups flour.  Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.
  3. Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Top with the pesto, prosciutto, feta, and artichoke hearts. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices.

    Adding the filling.

  4. Place dough slices, flat side down. Space out so that they roughly fill the whole pan while still slightly touching in places. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight.

    Ready to rise.

  5. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator an hour before you want to make and let come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on the middle rack until golden, 28 – 32 minutes.

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Filed under Breakfasts, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Make ahead, Uncategorized

Won’t You Please?: Slow Cooked Short Ribs atop a tower of Watercress, Polenta, and Ragu

Hi there,

Could I ask you to do me a favor? What if I say please? I’ll trade you a yummy, delicious recipe in exchange?

Nominations are now open for Saveur’s 2012 Best Food Blog Awards and I would be so thrilled to see Shut Up & Cook make the list. It’s admittedly stiff competition with winner’s from last year such as SmittenKitchen, 101 Cookbooks, and my personal fave, Orangette, but I think we’ve created something pretty special here and I’ve love to have your help going for it.

How cool would this be?!?

Right now they are simply accepting nominations so all that’s required is 5 easy steps:

  1. A visit to their nominations page.
  2. Entering this url: http://www.shutupandcook.wordpress.com
  3. Selecting which three categories you think best fit (perhaps Best Cooking Blog, Best Piece Of Culinary Writing, and Best Food Humor Blog?)
  4. A short reason why you’re nominating this blog.
  5. Your name, email, and three little clicks to “opt out” of their promotional offers.

Would you please? I would be so grateful.

And with that…let’s get back to the food. And not just any food mind you…a tower of deliciousness. That’s right…a tower. This past weekend was perfect. Productive enough to feel self-righteous and relaxed enough to actually re-charge.  The whispers of Spring are in the air and with that came a funny longing for a few more winter meals, served by a roaring fire with a great bottle of wine.

Nothing to me says winter deliciousness like a slow roasted meat in a red sauce, so I set out to see what I could come up with. And I have to say…this was AMAZING!  It’s one of those meals where each of the individual parts is good…but put them all together…and wow. You’ve got something great. Since you make this largely in the slow cooker it’s perfect for a Sunday when you’re wanting  to be out and about, yet come home to a truly indulgent meal.

Slow Cooked Short Ribs served atop a Tower of Watercress, Griddled Polenta Cakes, and Sausage Ragu

Short Rib Tower!

Serves 8

Short Ribs and Ragu:
2 TB Olive Oil
8 bone-in short ribs, patted dry, and sprinkled with salt and pepper (about 2 lbs)
1 lb loose italian sausage (best you can find)
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup carrots, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2, 28 oz cans of Whole San Marzano Tomatoes, slightly smashed with a masher or food mill
1 cup of dry white wine

Polenta:
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal/polenta
2 TB vegetable oil

Garnishes
1 bunch watercress washed and dried, stems removed
1 cup finely grated fresh parmesan

  1. In a large slow cooker add the cans of tomatoes and white wine. Put on high and begin to allow to warm up.
  2. In a large, high-edged skillet add the olive oil and, working in batches if necessary, brown the short ribs over relatively high heat until golden on all sides, or about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. In the same pan add the sausage, and cook on medium, stirring to break up, until beginning to brown. Add the celery, onion, carrots, and garlic and saute until vegetables are  beginning to get tender and omit that oh-so-good smell. About 5 minutes. Add all into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours until short ribs are falling off the bone and fork tender.

    Love all the different colors.

  4. Remove the short ribs from the slow cooker and transfer all the ragu to a large pot. Increase the heat to medium, and reduce until thickened to a true ragu (almost goopy), about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the short ribs back in until heated through.

While the meat is slow cooking make the polenta:

  1. Bring the water, milk, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Slowly whisk in the cornmeal/polenta, and stir constantly until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Spread into a 9×9 glass baking dish and put in the refrigerator to cool and set, at least 30 minutes.

Assembling the TOWER! (isn’t that just fun to say?)

Assembling the goodness..do it quick so everything stays hot!

  1. Remove the polenta from the fridge and using a glass, cut circles out of the firm polenta. Add the remaining oil to a non-stick pan and over medium heat grill until golden brown on each side, about 6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, evenly divide the watercress among the plates in a small circle.
  3. When ready put the grilled polenta cakes on the watercress, add about a 1/4 cup of the thickened ragu, top with one short rib, and generously top with grated parmesan.
  4. Prepare to fall in love.

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Filed under Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized

Give The People What They Want: Fish Tacos Take Two

Baja Fish Tacos with White Sauce

Do you want to know what the number two most frequent search term that gets people to Shut Up & Cook is? I’ll give you a few guesses. Tragically it is not “witty, smart, brilliant, and good looking home cooks”. Nor is it “the next Rachael Ray”. And while I’m sure it’s bound to happen at some point, I have yet to see Google searches for “next food blogger who is going to make it big” top the list.

Nope, it is none of these things. Instead it is:

  • white sauce for fish tacos

And do you want to know what # 3 is?!?

  • fish taco white sauce

How not sexy is that? Alas, I’ve had to come to the reality that what people really want…what they truly desire is fish tacos. And how can you blame them? They are amazing.

Back in November of 2009 (hard to believe that was 2+ years ago) I did a post about Shockingly Good Baja Fish Tacos. Since then I have eaten many more fish tacos (some good, some great, some bad), but I hadn’t made them again until this past weekend when overcome by a craving I couldn’t ignore, I simply had to have them. And to prove to my Mom that fish tacos could be delicious (“Honey…I have to say…I just don’t get it….fish tacos? Really?”)

They were just as good as last time, if not even better thanks to the delightful company of our friend’s CJ, Nadia, and Harrison and the amusing conversation that ranged from politics, to commerce, travel, to relationships, and a very entertaining, wine-coming-out-my-nose, attempt to explain to my mother what the term “punks” meant. Needless to say CJ’s attempt at providing a Sid Vicious reference did nothing.

These are a little messy to make, and yes your house will be a little smelly for a few hours, but you should do it. Because hey…if nothing else, fish tacos make an excellent white sauce delivery system.

Baja Fish Tacos 

Step 1 – White Sauce:

  • Fresh lime juice to taste (I like about 2 TB)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ mayonnaise
  • 1 TB Sriracha hot sauce (or something similar)
  • ½ teaspoon – crushed oregano
  • ½ teaspoon – ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon – dried, crushed dill
  • ½ teaspoon – ground cayenne chile
  • ground white pepper to taste

 Combine the first three ingredients, aiming for a slightly runny consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

The making of the coveted white sauce.

Step 2 – Toppings Bar:

So pretty.

  • 1/2 bundle cilantro
  • 2 cups red cabbage
  • 1 cup queso fresco
  • 2 limes

Coarsely chop cilantro and set aside in small bowl for toppings. Dice queso fresco and set aside in separate bowl. Cut up the cabbage. Slice as thinly as possible so the strands still stay together. Set aside in bowl. Quarter the limes and serve one wedge with each plate and extras in a bowl.

Toppings Bar (which I personally try to incorporate into as many meals as possible).

Step 3 – The Fish:

Cod works well, although you can use whatever white fish you prefer. Since it’s going to be battered and fried this is a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever is on sale.

2 LB White Fish washed, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch strips

Batter:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 can beer, not dark

Combine flour and salt, then add beer. It should be relatively thick, which was nice since the batter actually stayed on the fish when we fried it.

Fill large saucepan with vegetable oil or lard. You want enough that the fish can be submerged in it. Get it nice and hot and cook the fish in batches, being certain not to crowd the pan as you want the oil to stay hot.

Turn the fish after about a minute. Look for the color to decide when to remove. As soon as it’s golden, you’re good to go. Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to drain.

Serve immediately with tortillas, white sauce, and toppings. Enjoy.

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Filed under Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized

Erina Cake: & Sticky Buns

Clearly this requires no explanation.

Thursday night my mama arrived, full of big smiles, rolling laughs, and a declaration that we must, simply must make Sticky Buns.  She also brought a piece of my artwork that she’d found while cleaning out her files this winter. It was a small piece of construction paper on which I had drawn myself on one side (helpfully labeled “Erina” lest my mother or father forget my name) and a cake on the other (helpfully labeled “Cake” lest one not be able to tell).

“See Nana-B”, (that being just one of my family’s very sweet and slightly embarrassing nicknames for me), “you’ve been cooking and baking for years. It says it right there: Erina. Cake.”

She then resumed her campaign about making Sticky Buns having just had them while visiting her brother and sister-in-law in Norfolk, Virginia (which incidentally she is incapable of saying without laughing since Norfolk sounds like Nor-F*ck…get it, get it?). We are easily amused, what can I say.

Sticky Buns have always seemed like one of those “scary foods” requiring too many steps, too much skill, and the dreaded bread hook on my KitchenAid. But buoyed by my mother’s enthusiasm and my apparent child prodigy nature in the kitchen we got to baking, and you know what? They aren’t that hard. At all! And they are delicious! And impressive. So impressive I had to invite our friends Angela and Harrison (remember them?) down for an impromptu Saturday brunch so that others could witness their goodness.

Go ahead and give these a try…take that childhood enthusiasm and confidence that we seem to lose along the way, put on your apron, and make a bold declaration as only a five-year-old could. Erina. Cake.

Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Buns
Adapted Slightly from Simply Recipes

A perfect and easy Saturday brunch because you make them the night before. Serve with a pot of coffee and hard-boiled eggs.

Utter deliciousness. (I was just so proud it worked!)

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°, you can use a meat thermometer to check)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter chopped into about 16 small pieces, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon. salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans

Method

  1. Make the dough.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 7 – 10 minutes. You want to see some little air bubbles.
  2. Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, salt and 3 cups flour.  Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.
  3. Make the filling. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.
  4. Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices.
  5. Make the topping. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey (or maple syrup) and corn syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan and sprinkle pecans on top.

    Waiting for the raw sticky buns to arrive and sit atop.

  6. Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping. Space out so that they roughly fill the whole pan while still slightly touching in places. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight.

    I should have done a better job of more evenly spacing out in the pan.

  7. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator an hour before you want to make and let come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on the middle rack until golden, 28 – 32 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.

    Before the flip.

    A sticky bun and a hard boiled egg...the perfect combination of savory and sweet.

    15 buns...5 adults eating...let's not focus on the math.

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Filed under Breakfasts, Comfort Foods, Desserts, Entertaining, Make ahead, Uncategorized

More Tales of O: Salty Dog Cocktails

Ready for our annual Pearls and Pinstripes Party.

The first thing most people commented on about Onca was how big she was. I mean, the dog was fucking huge and most people had never seen her breed before making her that much more mysterious. The second comment was always about her ears. The loser that had got her as a perfect puppy had taken it upon himself to wack them off on his own so she had these hysterical little diablo ears that crossed when she was trying particularly hard to be good.

Tomorrow is the one month mark of losing our girl. Thank you all so much for your thoughts, support, laughter, and stories of her. She was a force, a huge presence, and the house is sorely lacking of her big rumbling bark, her couch leaping jumps, and her oh so cute and oh so odd little wiggle of her sausage tail.

While very sad, the weeks have also been filled with wonderful stories and memories of Onca that friends near and dear have shared. Thank you for that. I’d like to share just a few here:

Best buddies.

NY,2004: Matt and I were heading to Massachusetts and Vermont for an epic Christmas tour. We had my Mom’s, my Dad’s, Matt’s Mom’s, Matt’s Dad’s, my Grandfather’s, and Matt’s Grandparents to hit. That’s right, six Christmases in 24 hours. I don’t know what we were thinking. We did at least have the wherewithal to not try to bring Onca and Lucky along with us, so we found the most expensive, most discerning doggy spa possible and dropped them off, promising to be back in 24 (okay 28) hours. When we returned they gave us a glowing report card on Lucky. Everyone loved him. They had an odd expression on their face about Onca. When we pressed it, the sixteen girl manning the desk finally spilled the beans.  It turned out that Onca had gotten out of her suite being quite the escape artist that she was (we don’t call them kennels when we’re charging your $50/night) and had proceeded to let Lucky out. The caretakers hadn’t taken too much offense to that, so they were letting the two roam around, but they quickly realized that Onca was letting all the dogs out and that chaos was soon to ensue. She was marked with a bright orange stamp as a rebel, and not welcomed back.

NOT going to miss being read to with baby Wesley.

Seattle, 2009: Our friends Angela and Harrison are sweet, dear friends. The kind that you can truly be yourself with, that you can sit on the kitchen floor and drink a bottle of wine with, that you can show your least flattering side to. They knew the best of Onca, and the worst of Onca, and they loved her fiercely in spite of it. They also had a new baby Wesley and would bring him round whenever they could, not caring that Onca would put her big slobbery face in his and give him a kiss. She was wonderful with kids, a true gentle giant, and Angela and Harrison trusted her explicitly. One night when Wesley was about one and learning to walk they were over. We were all talking and eating and loving that we had such good friends so close when Onca lumbered by teetering, tottering, just walking Wesley. The mere brush of her knocked him over and produced a massive howl out of the little guy. Within a split second we all gasped, Onca immediately sat down (that being her patented moved whenever she got in trouble, which was not infrequent), and Wesley’s howling immediately got muffled. Onca was, quite literally, sitting on his face. His little body was kicking and screaming like a little Oompa Loompa and Onca was just sitting there looking confused like, “What? What’d I do?”  (Fear not, Onca and Wesley would go on to have a great friendship of shared goldfish, PB&Js, and an endless tolerance for occasionally being smacked in the face).

No bears were going to get me.

Gee Point, 2006: The boys pulled into the driveway from their weekend camping trip, and as was customary I went out to greet them, welcome the dogs back home, and carry in a load or two of gear. They jumped out of the car, and talking over one another and interrupting like 8-year-old siblings they told me of the adventure they had just experienced. They had climbed up a mountain, over boulders and through snow to get to a favorite and coveted mountain peak. They had set up camp without a soul in sight and begun the evening ritual of building the fire, tending the fire, cooking tubular meats on the fire, and reminiscing while drinking beer and whiskey. Onca was particularly unsettled all evening, pacing the parameter of the campground with her low rumbling growl on repeat. They couldn’t figure out what it was and after enough beer and whiskey, they didn’t care anymore. A few hours later, as the sun was just setting, Onca leapt from her spot by the fire, and they turned to see a black bear less than 100 yards away. Onca immediately took off after it howling for all she was worth, while Matt howled after her. The bear took off running, and Onca chased it until Matt could no longer hear or see her. Pacing at the campsite and wondering what to do next, within a few minutes he heard the clink of Onca happily trotting back into camp, sausage tail wagging, and a grin on her face as if to say, “Ha! I told you there was something. We sure showed that bear who was boss.”

Salty Dog Cocktails

And with that I will remember that this is a food blog after all and share with you my new favorite cocktail, compliments of my friend Ila who knew exactly what I needed the first weekend alone and showed up with fixings for Salty Dogs and never mentioned that I was still in my PJs at 3p and my eyes were so swollen shut I looked like I’d been stung by a bee.

Admittedly the combination of these is a little odd at first glance, but they are delicious. And dangerous…watch out! I like to serve them in big old-fashioned glasses with one large ice-cube to make sure I don’t get into too much trouble. Don’t skip the salt, it’s the best part.

Yes, I'm being lazy. But they are delicious..and this will do for the recipe tonight.

Beauty and deliciousness.

What Good Friends are For...

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I Am So Seldom Alone

My companions for the day. AKA Total puppy chaos...but they are so happy how can I be mad?

I am so seldom alone and while I rationally understand this must be, no is, the result of a specific construct I create in my life it often doesn’t feel that way, seeming more akin to a giant tidal wave that picks me up and carries me along. While this is generally fun, and can be exhilarating at times, there is also that moment when the ocean swallows you up and tumbles you in its depths, dumping you unceremoniously on the shore with sand in your bathing suit, scrapes on your knees, and a bruise to your ego.

So this Saturday with Matt happily off to the mountain, a pork shoulder marinating in the oven for yet another round of Paseo’s Cubano Sandwiches for tonight’s book club, and Leo and Duke, the two puppies wildly running about, I have a day alone in front of me. It is so rare, and while I’m excited at the thought, I must also confess it makes me a little uncomfortable.

What do you do with a blissful day all to yourself? I could use some guidance here people.

 

 

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Filed under Month of Exploration, Personal Work