Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sundark and Riverlight

I woke up this morning and checked my email and realized that Patrick Wolf's latest album Sundark and Riverlight had been released!!

I immediately dropped down my 11.99 on iTunes, and burned myself a copy for my car. Literally, twenty minutes later, I was parked in a random parking lot, sobbing.

Patrick Wolf has that amazing ability to wrench all sorts of beautiful and painful emotions out of me- and I know I'm not the only one. I've been along for the ride since Wind in the Wires, and the first listen of a new album is always an emotional journey.

Sundark and Riverlight is a retrospective voyage through Patrick Wolf's diverse discography. It is stripped down, acoustic, and, as his voice has matured in the last 10 years (P Wolf is 29) some of the songs have changed key and taken on a more adult quality. His re-recordings of pieces from Wind in the Wires(2005), especially, sent chills up my spine.

Sundark and Riverlight is like seeing a picture slideshow of the great life events of a dear friend, and while I listen obsessively to this album, I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Camping Again!

This week I went camping again! This time we went to Hurricane Ridge. It really is a great time of year to go camping, because it is still warm enough, but kids are back in school, so the campgrounds are less crowded. It is usually a few retired couples in RVs and a few other young people. Perfect.

We camped down at the base of Hurricane Ridge, as our first attempt to drive up lead to my car making some pretty horrifying noises. At our campsite, a hare was nosing around, and let me take pictures of him.

We got up early and headed to Hurricane Ridge in the morning. Spectacular.

What a perfect trip!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Smørrebrød Party!

Do you know how to confuse the heck out of your friends? Ask them to bring toppings for Smørrebrød. Even when you explain that they're Danish-style open face sandwiches, you still get stares of incomprehension. But when everyone has assembled and your friends are starting at slab of dark rye bread holding a delectable pile of shrimp and cucmber...they'll come around.

Bon Appétit magazine recently published an article on Smørrebrød, and since I am a sucker for appetizer-like mix and match things, I had to try it. So I tacked it onto a picnic that I had already planned with a group of friend. Because the toppings are so easy to carry around, nobody had a huge burden, cost-wise or transportation-wise. As the host, I provided bread, drinks (water and iced tea), Shrimp and Cucumber Salad, and extra Horseradish Mayo. [note: I cheated, though, and used frozen shrimp.] As for other toppings, my suggestions (ripped from the page of BA) were
  • Roast beef
  • Gravlax/smoked salmon
  • Greens (lettuce and/or watercress)
  • Jarlsberg cheese
  • Pickled herring (feeling adventurous?)
  • Hard-boiled eggs (sliced)
  • Honey mustard
  • Cucumber (sliced)
We had to do without greens and pickled herring...but everything turned out well. We even had a flask of Aquavit! Passing toppings around the picnic table definitely helped spark lively conversation.

I must say: roast beef, horseradish mayo, and cucumber makes a very tasty sandwich.

xo, anne.

Rainier Adventures

So last weekend, some friends and I headed up to Mt Rainier for a little relaxation at my friend’s cabin. It was an amazing weekend; we swam in the glacial melt, sunned on the rocks, went hiking in the woods, had some drinks, and I made AMAZING tofu curry.

I find that it is challenging and exciting to cook for a group that includes vegetarians: I was a vegetarian for many years, and cooking for vegetarians gives me the opportunity to use recipes that I don’t usually get to. Most of my cooking lately revolves around at least one kind of meat, and finding ways to satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike is exciting! I recently read an article in Saveur magazine about an all-vegetarian Thanksgiving feast, and it has inspired me to work on my vegetarian repertoire.

My curry included tofu, potatoes, mushroom, onions, carrots, and sweet peppers, with red curry and coconut milk, and it turned out FANTASTIC. My special secret was marinating and frying the tofu in soy sauce, and adding a generous portion of honey to the sauce! 

The area around Mt Rainier is spectacular! 


 I met a friendly elk along the roadside!


Friday, August 31, 2012

Forts, Boots and Yummy Food

I had a long day, so I'll just share some pictures of my adventures!

I went to Fort Worden, which is a creepy abandoned fort (now a state park) near Port Townsend, WA.

It is really really creepy. And the sounds of children running around in the old rooms carriers through the walls. It is terrifying. And also absolutely delightful.

I wore some amazing boots. They are Ariat Daisys. They have a snip toe, bronze tooling and they feel like walking on a cloud.

I came home and had an amazing dinner of sauteed kale with bacon, brown sugar and sesame seeds.

I put some sweet peppers on top. It was so delicious that there were no leftovers. Which is both awesome and tragic, all at once.

More soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rainbow Unicorn Cookies

Things were afoot in my kitchen last night. My coworker is quitting to move to India, so I made some of my famous (not really) unicorn cookies for her party. We constantly joke about The Unicorn Express, so I decided to make them RAINBOW UNICORN COOKIES.

2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb butter, softened
1 c. sugar, plus 1/4 c. for rolling
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven 375. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt. Cream butter and 1 c. sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 mins). Add vanilla and egg. Beat about 30 secs until just combined. Add dry ingredients, beat until just mixed. Roll 1 1/2 tbsp of dough in ball and roll in remaining sugar. Space 2"-2 1/2" apart. Butter bottom of cup and slightly flatten tops of dough ball about 3/8"- 1/2" thick. Bake 11-12 minutes, switching cookie sheets halfway through. Cook's Illustrated Recipe via chowhound.
This dough was incredibly soft, and my initial attempts looked like unicorn poo instead of the unicorns themselves. For my second attempt, I added a bunch more flour (maybe half a cup to half a mixed-up recipe) and let the dough chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes after I added the food coloring.

Speaking of color! I divided the dough into ROYGBV sections, then worked in food coloring with my hands like playdough. I was a little worried that working the dough that much would make the cookies tougher...but let's be honest, no one cares. If you're eating a RAINBOW UNICORN COOKIE, the magic will make up for any lack of technique. In the future, I recommend meticulously splitting the egg into five parts and working in each color separately (...no).

I also baked these at 350 because the edges were burning too quickly at 375.

Bam. Unicorns on parade.
xo, anne.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blackberry Vodka


I’ve always loved blackberries, but I’ve never had bushes of my own; when you go and pick them in the wild or at a farm, you can generally manage to eat or can all the berries you pick. However, since moving into a farmhouse with venerable, huge, and productive bushes, I can’t keep up.

Even with the massive amount of blackberries that I have been eating (it has been a lot, I might go Violet Beauregard status and turn into a giant blackberry), I’ve been looking for other things to do with the berries. Since I love flavored vodkas, I thought I’d try my hand at the DIY variety.

Blackberry Vodka Fixins'

Here’s what I did:

1. I picked the juiciest berries- even the ones that were on the edge of being over-ripe- and I picked a TON of them.

2. I put them in a colander, washed them, and patted them dry with a paper towel.

3. I put them in a blender and used the “pulse” button to break them up slightly, but not totally destroy them.

4. I poured that goopey mess into mason jars, filling them between 1/3 and 1/2 full.

5. I poured generic, un-flavored vodka in to fill the jars.

6. I capped the jars and shook them like a dog out of water.

7. I put them on a high shelf out of the sunlight.

What I will do now:

1. Shake them every day or two for a month or two.

2.When I am satisfied that the vodka has gotten enough berry flavor, I will pour the mix through coffee filter to strain out the leftover berry goop.

3. I’ll store the finished blackberry vodka in a pretty bottle and maybe even use it for gifts.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not considering this opening worthy of more attention, I continued our pursuit to the Northwest,
being desirous to embrace the advantages of the prevailing breeze.
--George Vancouver