Flights of Fancy

We sure have been jet-setters lately, Adam and I. Last week I made the short hop across to Idaho, the previous week sent Adam allllll the way over to Florida, and next week we're headed to San Francisco!

With all of this flying about comes the obligatory hour-long pre-boarding boredom. We're getting to know Sea-Tac pretty darn well.

Luckily, our airport has actually got a lot to offer. Beyond the traditionally overpriced salty snacks and magazines, Sea-Tac has restaurants (to serve you that much needed pre-flight frothy beer) and fairly upscale shops. My Mom and I did some browsing at Fireworks, one of our favorite places for creative gadgets and local art and jewelry. As always, there was temptation lurking around every corner- I think we were lucky that our carry-on bags were already pretty full.

Here's just a few of the things I spotted...

These flutter-bys are made of painted feathers.
The looked great in this large cluster, and I imagine that one strand of white & silver butterflies would be charming on my sun porch.

This "Bottle Bunny" is so cheeky!
I'd love to have him around to open my grape sodas.

My Mom spotted this great storage idea.
You know how stuffed animals always seem to end up in monstrous furry piles in kids' rooms?
Why not keep them "hanging around?"

My favorite baby gift will always be Robeez shoes. And now, my favorite pair will be these knighted foxes. There's something about them that makes me giggle a full octave higher than usual. Eeee!
I'm a little bummed I have no small-footed person to buy them for!

I saw this mirror in a design mag and thought, "it can't possibly be that cute in person." It is.
I wist for it.

Artist Susan Goodwin states that her Pools of Light collection was inspired by Edwardian & Victorian era jewelry trends. Enough said.
I loved these...

And this...

And I'll be pointing this one out to Adam while we're in the airport on Tuesday.
Just in case he's interested.



If you read Adam's post on watermelon salsa, you might have noticed that the recipe calls for lime zest (the more the better).

This task always seems to fall to me- perhaps just as a means of getting me out of his hair in the kitchen, perhaps because this is a task that's pretty tough to mess up.

Not too tough for me though, because within seconds of him handing me the box grater I have inevitably skinned my knuckles and cursed loudly. I have skills.

Obviously I'm not the only one who has issues removing tiny slivers of peel from a slippery and knobbly citrus, because the geniuses over at Chef'n created this little thingamajiggy to do the trick.

This cute thing has apparently been around for a while now- it got some attention over at AT's sister site, The Kitchn. I'm going to second any nice thing that's ever been said about this gadget. It flexes to fit comfortably into the palm of your hand, whether your hands are tiny (like mine) or sized to match your ginormous 6'6"+ body (like Adam's). All of the zest gets caught in the built-in storage compartment instead of flying everywhere and adhering itself to every surface in your kitchen. Best of all, this thing makes zesting practically fool-proof, since your fingers will never get in the way.

It's too bad I found this after we did the watermelon salsa (ouch), but from now on, I can zest with zeal!

Did I mention that it comes in 3 citrusy colors? We picked the green one.

Anyway. We're not big advocates of having a machine or tool for every obscure cooking purpose, because most of it is just clutter that you don't need in a small kitchen. We're picky about our food- and even pickier about how we allocate our money and drawer space. However, Adam and I didn't hesitate to pluck one of these off the shelf. It's a rarity that combines a neat form with efficient function, and it takes the pain out of a rather loathesome task! Plus, I was rather tickled to learn that Chef'n is a Seattle-based company with a whole line of handy kitchen inventions. Cool!

That's all for now. We're hitting up the market tonight, and hopefully finding some inspiration for this week's recipe...


Hello Peeps, Howdy Sheeps

Hello Friends,

For those of you not following my increasingly frequent tweets (first step is admitting you have a problem, right?), I'm back from my little vacation. My Mom and I enjoyed four days in bucolic Blackfoot, Idaho, home of the world's largest potato, and also home to my maternal Grandparents, Minnie and Bud. All in all, a pretty potato-themed weekend: we ate some delicious baked Idaho spuds, we lounged on the couch for countless hours.

The sun setting over a neighbor's terrifyingly huge bison.

And I made some new friends...

My Sheeples.
Lemme tell you, having a whole flock of sheep run to you is a bit disconcerting the first time.

Got along particularly well with #5 here, who liked to snuggle...

Gosh darn irresistible, this lamby.

Taking a munch break.

#5, you lovey thing, you can come home with me anytime, as long as you can hold really, really still. Like

Wist-worthy sheep sculptures by Lalanne.

Nothing relaxes and diverts like a few days in Blackfoot. I think I'm completely caught up on the local gossip, and I think I'm completely caught up on sleep too!

After a jaunt to the country, nothing makes me happier than seeing the lights of downtown Seattle approaching. I'm a city girl through-and-through, but that doesn't mean I can't rock the urban cowgirl look, right?

My new spahkly long-horn shirt. Thank you Grandma!



Adam Presents "The Catechism of San Melon Agua"

Who made me? God made me.

Was that his biggest mistake? Not quite (see Boy George).

Who made that excellent watermelon salsa? Oh yeah, I did.

What is salsa? Spanish for sauce.

What is a sauce? Great question. A food that is applied to the surface of another food. God made food, man makes sauce.

Can any food be a sauce? I don’t make the rules, but I know a sauce when I see one.

Who makes the rules? Other than God, Wikipedia.
Can any food be a sauce? Yes… As long as it’s made from food.

Can a sauce be made from watermelon? Yes, and I will tell you how.

Figure 1: The Appropriate Lime-to-Melon Ratio

Step one, select a melon. I really have no idea what makes a good watermelon. The most important thing is concealing my ignorance from my fellow shoppers. I usually touch three random melons, pick up a fourth and attempt to spin it on my finger, reject that one. I palm the smallest one I can find, fake a pass downfield. Then I put that one down and grab the first one that another shopper reaches for.

Next, find some limes. I use three limes for a small melon, five or six for a larger melon. I define a small melon as having a mass equal to or lesser than an obese newborn. A larger melon would require a seatbelt on the ride home. Thirdly, select an onion. One large white or sweet onion will suffice for a small melon. A very large melon may require two onions. Really, quantifying the ingredients for your watermelon salsa will be vague and subjective. These ingredients will also be cheap (and versatile if leftover). Ask yourself, "could I possibly need more?" If so, get more. Don’t forget a heap of garlic cloves, a bundle of fresh cilantro, and your pepper of choice (jalapeño for the prudent, habañero for the insane, bell pepper for the weak, unimaginative drones to be ploughed under when the revolution come). Also, salt and pepper.

Figure 2: Our Ingredients

Dice your melon into quarter inch cubes. This can be perplexing for the uninitiated. Most large melons can be cut in half, then decapitated and the rind cut off in large, curving parallel strips. Large slices of melon can then be cut away and diced individually. Do not try to execute three perpendicular cuts on fruit this size, it will get ugly. Break the task down into small parts, and the dicing will be easier and neater. Add salt (remember: season early, season often). Place the diced melon in a strainer and drain for 30 minutes. Watermelon is very wet, that's why they call it melon. We're going to soak it with lime juice, but to make room for that liquid, we need to get rid of some of the melon-water.

Dice your onion and garlic very finely. Zest the limes, then juice them. De-stem and chop the cilantro leaves. Peppers can be cut into long strips (julienne, alumette or batonnet from thickest to thinnest), small cubes (brunoise) or rings (Richard Starkey). When the melon is drained, add the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well with a slotted spoon. Let the salsa marinate in the fridge for half an hour. Taste and re-season as needed. For a very intense salsa, drain the liquid again and add more lime juice and salt, marinate for another 15 minutes before serving.

Figure 3: Serving Suggestion

I don't want to ignore the versatility of this recipe, especially in the summer months. This is not just a Cinco de Mayo or Superbowl type chips-and-dip salsa. I can envision a watermelon salsa on blackened fish or steak, shredded or grilled chicken, or as a legitimate side dish. Watermelon salsa can keep for a few hours in cooler or fridge, and it stays cool due to high water content. This makes it more convenient and durable than salad greens if you are eating outdoors or packing a meal for a trip.

Figure 4: The Mouth-Watering Feast

In my experience, God is the subject of serious and sober discussions. I rarely joke about God, because although I am convinced that such a being would have a well developed sense of humor, God is much larger than I, and really should not be provoked. But I want to point out that the highest authorities in matters of cooking are the tastes and traditions of the individual cook. (Editor's Note: Go figure- no amount of prayer could save my last attempt at alfredo sauce...) Treating any cookbook as a holy text, adhering to a single regional style, or limiting oneself strictly to “home cooking” seems silly and kind of depressing. Food is very important: like religion, it brings people together. But ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques are neither moral nor immoral (I know a Jewish vegetarian who would disagree, but what can you do?). Cooking nomenclature should not be held to the level of dogma. Unlike religion, where a community is formed around precise and correct behavior, cooking is a friendly competition where points are given for originality (and plating, for which I have a soft spot). Strict adherence to a recipe does have its benefits (in baking, there is often an optimized biochemical process which must be closely controlled), and the single best place to learn about food is under the guidance of a more experienced cook, but persistent attempts to categorize food will only limit your experience. For example, in the “canon” of classic French cuisine, there are but five types of sauce.

Bechamel – A “white” sauce, incorporating a roux made from butter, flour, and boiled milk or cream.

Veloute – A butter & flour roux incorporating fish or chicken stock.

Brown or Espagnole – A “brown” sauce is based on a roux of flour and animal fat.

Hollandaise and Mayonnaise – An emulsion made by whipping oil or butter into egg yolks.

Tomato – Based on pureed or diced “love apples.”

While these are all great sauces that every cook should attempt to make, defining my watermelon salsa according to the old French tradition is tricky, and God cannot (or will not) help the situation. If I was a strictly French cook, I would describe it as a variation on a cold tomato sauce, with a watermelon substitution. But this dish really falls outside the accepted definitions. The ingredients are not the same, the execution is not the same, and neither is the taste and the appropriate food pairings. The language spoken between mouthfuls of watermelon salsa is not French, the music in the background has a strong rhythm, and the surrounding climate is probably hot and dry (or at least sunny). Think for yourself, question authority. With food, you might need to put yourself in an uncomfortable, even vulnerable position if you want to experience something new and amazing.

The definition of sauce from my catechism is pretty liberal. A sauce is any dressing, condiment or marinade. My watermelon sauce can be applied to any food with a permanent surface (this will include almost any solid food). Chips and tortillas fit the bill. Eat it with a utensil and I guess you could call this a watermelon salad. Wrap it in blueberry pancake and serve it in a bag of vegetarian chili... now that's what I call a taco.


The Prodigal Blogger Returns

Many apologies to my concerned readers- we didn't quite drop off the face of the earth, and we didn't melt (though it was a close call)!

Very close, in fact. On the day that Seattle hit an unprecedented 104º, Adam and I returned to our upstairs oven to find that my candles had been reduced to pools of molten wax, my plants had crumbled to dust, my cosmetics had curdled (this is perhaps not scientifically accurate, but there's no other word to describe the grossness), and food that I had thought of as non-perishable had, well, perished. Our survival instincts kicked in. We grabbed our necessities and our listless little cat, jumped in our air-conditioned car (this is when the little cat perked up), and made our escape.

For the next week, we literally chilled at my parents' lovely home in Edmonds. We couldn't take an official vacation, but (much to your dismay, clearly) we did take a vacation for our blogging obligations! We know you missed us, but we took lots of pictures and collected some souvenirs! We wished you were there!

I showed you a few shots of my parents' home before- it's gorgeous and so meticulously kept.
Staying there is like a complimentary stay in a 5-Star B & B. My Mom thinks of everything!

We took in the sights of Edmonds on a bright blue day.

The Edmonds Market features many of the same vendors we see in Wallingford...

And also serves as a weekly arts fair for local craftspeople.
I loved this creative display of redesigned vintage costume jewelry by Krissy Maier of Orange Box Jewelry...
and I loved some of the pieces just as much!

I was sorely tempted at one of my favorite decor stores, House Wares.
House Wares is always a source of inspiration- the owner, Robert has a gift!
That side table has taunted me from the pages of magazines for ages now... but where to put it?

Most of all, Adam and I enjoyed some down time with my family (and Matilda enjoyed some romps with her best doxie friends). And now, neglected friends, we have some catching up to do. I have some BIRTHDAY goodies and Craig's List finds to show off, and Adam's going to share our favorite summer treat...

Can you guess what we're making?

We'll start with that watermelon tomorrow, and we'll dish out the rest this week!