Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Locks Cruise, Honeymoon Night, More Restaurants

For my parents first night here we went to Anthony's, an upscale seafood chain restaurant. Despite being a chain the food is quite good and imaginative. My cioppino was nice and spicy with a rich tomato flavor. I have definitely had better seafood for comparable prices though.

Ben's strawberry rhubarb margarita...sounds good but this one wasn't

The view from Anthony's

The Shryocks treated us to a night at the Edgewater Hotel, while they stayed at our house with the dogs. Our suite was beautiful! It was the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in.....perfect to celebrate our marriage. We checked in and then went for a walk around the Sculpture Park during the sunset. The design of this park is impressive and apparently award winning. The landscaping is mostly native plants and is done very well. We were a bit reluctant to have this night away, since we'll be going to Europe on July 2nd, but it was really fun and gave us much needed relaxation after our non-stop weekend.

This sculpture was my favorite...I love that it's on the side of a busy highway

The beautiful native plant landscaping

This one is supposed to resemble an eagle

I love the contrast of the black sculpture and the blooming purple irises

The Hotel Room

Our breakfast

Our dinner at Ray's Boathouse after the wedding was impressive. I cleaned by plate of grilled halibut with kale and jasmine rice with a creamy curry sauce. Ben on the other hand decided to go for a Skagit River Ranch steak, which was very large and hard for a new meat eater to handle.

Ben and Kenneth relaxing after the wedding

The next morning we headed out early to take an Argosy cruise of the Ballard Locks (the transition between the higher level of water of the fresh water to the puget sound. It was a bit long (2.5 hrs), but really interesting with spectacular views of Seattle that can only be seen by boat.
Our guide

The Seattle skyline

Slowly sinking down to Puget Sound level

Even though I would never live in one, I love house boats! I learned that Seattle has a combination of house boats that actually go some where and then floating homes, which don't ever move and are hooked up to the Seattle water and sewer system.

The tan house with green trim is the Sleepless in Seattle house boat

Then we went to Portage Bay Cafe. By this time I was getting pretty tired of restaurant food (this has never happened before), but went ahead and ordered emmer pancakes with peaches, blueberry sauce and marscapone...and then I added more fruit from the self-serve toppings bar. The pancakes were perfect.....whole grain, yet still fluffy. I have been wanting to check this place out for awhile, but we haven't because the wait to be seated has always been too long. They just recently opened this new location in the Lake Union area and there was plenty of seating. They are 80% organic and buy as many products as possible from local farmers and food artisans.

On Sunday after brunch Frances, my Mom and I went shopping for dishes (a wedding gift from my parents). I could not make up my mind. There were a lot that I liked, but couldn't picture looking at for many years. I didn't end up getting anything, but decided that I will probably get something that is mostly white or plain and then get some colorful accent dishes.

Here are some that I considered

An inspiring garden in Ballard

The majority of our fava beans were ready this weekend, so I had to pick them before they got too tough. I have some fun recipes in mind to use these up. Thanks to Kenneth and Frances for helping in the arduous process of shelling these and not even being able to enjoy them! I'll post my next fava bean recipe soon. I picked these when we got home from our wedding and I'm pretty sure everyone thought I was a little bit crazy after that...... if they didn't already!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We got married and I graduated from graduate school in the same weekend!

We had a lovely wedding with our parents as witnesses at Discovery Park. It was perfect and the best part was NO STRESS! Of course Indigo and Ari were there to celebrate with us and stayed during the ceremony with no leashes. The ceremony only took 5 minutes and my Mom read a poem that really seemed to fit Ben and I by Walt Whitman. We had 3 bouquets of flowers picked out by Frances from the Pike Place Market displayed in mason jars on the railing of the overlook. The clothes that Ben and I wore were picked out 2 days before the wedding and were not even close to traditional . It was nice to only have our 4 guests for the ceremony, but we are very excited to celebrate with everyone in August 2009!

Our Wedding Poem.....

We Two, How Long We Were Fool'd

We two, how long we were fool'd,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,
We browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings
and evenings,
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic
and stellar, we are as two comets,
We prowl fang'd and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling
over each other and interwetting each other,
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence
of the globe,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.

Here our some photos that my Dad took....

We went to Golden Gardens park in Ballard to have portrait photos, which will be available in 20 days. For dinner we went to Ray's Boathouse, an amazing seafood restaurant on the water. They have lots of sustainable fish and pasture raised meat options. More about that meal in my next post.

The less important things that have been going on....
We traded Kuro for another of Diane's puppies - Kael. What a sweet dog! Of course Indy decided that he was a suitable replacement playmate and showed him how to race around the yard like maniacs. We dropped him off on on Wednesday and had a great herding lesson. Indigo is getting over her "plateau", which I am happy about because she has been doing pretty badly lately. It has been as if she never saw sheep before. In order to get her excited again I was instructed to run after the sheep and growl at them. That was weird, but I went with it and it worked!

Ben had his first herding lesson with Tess (Diane's dog). He practiced moving the sheep around the round pen and using the right flanks (come bye and away to me). He did great and I have a feeling he'll be back for more lessons with Tess until he gets his own little border collie. We talked to Diane about starting to get our dog meat (sheep) and beef and eggs for us for us. It would be great to support her farm and get our meat from someone we know.

Kael and Indigo looking adorable

Ben working with Tess

Me looking like a serious shepherd

We have been eating out a lot with family in town this past week. We went to the Steelhead Diner and had their fish and chips - the best in Seattle as far as we are concerned!

The best fish and chips in Seattle!

We went out to Carmelita, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant with dishes that sound like strange combinations, but end up being heavenly. We were celebrating this amazing meal with Ashley and Mike and Ashley's mom (Jill) and the Shryocks. The highlights were Ben's pizza with a sunny side up egg, grapes, rosemary and goat cheese, a surprisingly good combination...and then there was the 3 desserts split between the table - homemade mint and berry sorbets, chocolate muck muck and a coconut panna cotta. I highly recommend this restaurant for artfully created vegetarian dishes that are as good as any fancy restaurant can do.

And somehow during all of this craziness, I did not allow my sourdough starter to be forgotten. I stirred it everyday for 7 days and then made a simple white bread with it. It came out well, despite being a little too dense and not as sour as I would have liked. I think it was good for a first try and I'm sure it will get better with practice.

my first loaf of sourdough

the starter looking nice and bubbly

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Finding a wedding spot, spring harvest, grass fed beef

We decided to get married on June 21st......about 2 weeks ago! I have never done anything this last minute in my life! Don't worry though, I'm already planning for a party next year. My parents were already visiting that weekend for graduation, so we figured if the Shryocks could come too it would be a perfect, small ceremony with just the 6 of us. Almost everything has worked out for planning how to spend the day. We originally wanted to have it at the Washington Arboretum, but it turns out that Seattle only allows one wedding per day per park. And of course considering it was 2 weeks away, that spot was taken. Surprisingly Discovery Park wasn't taken, so we decided that would work and hoped for the best before we went to check it out. At 534 acres , it is Seattle's biggest park with amazing views of the Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Maybe it will be sunny so we can see these spectacular views.

Now that school is pretty much over I had some time to work in the garden today. We planted two types of fava beans this year, one for shelling and one for eating fresh. Unfortunately we lost our garden journal and can't remember which side is which. I just decided to harvest what seemed like the smaller, more delicate beans and see how it goes. Last year I used our one meal worth of fava harvest to make a gnocchi dish with fava beans and roasted peppers. This year we will be able to do more experimenting because I dedicated a whole bed to them. They are so easy to grow and help the soil by fixing nitrogen.

Fava bean recipe # 2 (2008). I'm going to make this for dinner tonight.

Lemon-Basil Risotto With Greens and Fava Beans (adapted from a NY times recipe)

1½ pounds fava beans in their pods
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
5 tablespoons butter or oil or a combination
3 shoots spring garlic or 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
4 shoots spring shallots or 4 shallots, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 bunch greens (chard, kale, collards)
½ cup grated shepherd's basket or pecorino cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
25 basil leaves, shredded
1 tablespoon minced lemon balm leaves or 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

1. Remove fava beans from pods. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and submerge beans for 1 minute, then drain and chill in cold water. Slit translucent skin of each bean and discard. Test a bean for tenderness: if hard, simmer for 2 to 8 minutes, until tender. Cover and refrigerate until needed, up to 2 days.

2. Pour broth into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and keep warm. Place a heavy-bottomed pot on stove. Divide butter or oil, garlic and shallots between the two pans.

3. Place Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté garlic and shallots until translucent. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes. Add wine and lemon zest and continue stirring until all the wine is absorbed. Begin stirring in the broth, one ladleful at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. Meanwhile (after about the second ladleful of broth), place skillet over medium-high heat. Stir until garlic is light gold. Add greens and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. When most of the broth is incorporated, taste rice; it should be creamy with a slightly firm center. Remove from heat and mix in cheese. Cover and allow to rest for 1 minute. Meanwhile, return greens mixture to medium heat. Add favas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir just until mixture is warm, then remove from heat.

5. Add half the basil to greens and mix gently. Stir remaining basil and lemon balm or lemon juice into risotto. Place a portion of each on plates and serve immediately.

Todays harvest

Our first artichokes! Hopefully we get to them before the aphids.

I really wanted to grow fennel bulb this year, so I' m hoping it keeps getting bigger...it needs to be at least tennis ball size at the base. Seattle gardeners seem to have mixed results with getting the bulb to get big enough, depending on the amount of sun we get.

Feverfew is a medicinal plant from Europe that is used for treating a headache, fever and arthritis.

I finally learned to plant peas at the end ofMarch and despite the 40 degree weather we're having we are going to have a decent crop of snow peas!

Since we started eating a little bit of meat, our favorite has been grass fed beef burgers. We decided to eat meat for many reasons and I feel very strongly about only eating meat from animals that lived healthy lives and were treated humanely. Cows are designed to eat grass, not corn or other grains....it makes them sick and wastes the resources it takes to grow the grains. Also grass fed beef is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are also found in fatty fish. The problem with eating this fish is that we are depleting our oceans and the problem is getting worse. The best place to find 100% grass fed meat is the farmers market or from a local farm.

Now that we are animal eaters we have been on a search to find all of the restaurants that serve this type of meat. The Lunch Box Laboratory in Ballard opened recently and serves upscale fast food. There are many choices of cheeses, sauces, and meat for the burgers. They also have a choice of onion rings, tator tots, thin fries, thick fries and sweet potato fries. They have a vegan falafel option that looked really good, but today for lunch we shared a beef burger with no cheese or sauces ( I wasn't feeling adventurous) and I had sweet potato fries and Ben was in heaven with his tator tots. It was good, but a little bit too greasy.

Ari had a few bites and was impressed