How Birthdays Should Be

19.7.09


Last night I had the pleasure of enjoying a fantastic birthday dinner prepared by my sweetheart.
My birthday is actually on Tuesday, but Will is leaving Wednesday for a big bike race so we thought we would celebrate over this weekend. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I quickly declared blueberry cupcakes with lemon-cream cheese frosting! I had recently seen a winning recipe on Cooking Light for lemon scented blueberry cupcakes and decided I had to have them.

Will decided to add to the cupcake request and cook me a whole dinner! The only stipulation is that I was not allowed to help or offer input. This was big, if anyone knows me they know how much of a control freak I am in the kitchen...amongst other places. I was shunned a couple of times throughout the execution for overstepping this boundary, so I sat down and caught up on my blog reading as to distract myself from taking over Will's dinner.

We had a lovely sesame encrusted salmon fillet, sauteed asparagus and almonds, and garlic-rosemary roasted red potatoes. The salmon was fantastic and what a great deal Will got on it! He bought it earlier this week at the PSU farmers market from my fellow Native people. It was wild caught pacific salmon and a steal at six dollars per pound! He bought a whole three pound fish, which will make several dinners for us.

Before dinner I went to Cork to pick out some wine with my credit from Darryl, the owner. I got some awesome finds with the help of Pat, an employee at the Alberta location. One of
the picks was a 2008 rosado from Bodega Muga in Rioja. I am a huge rose fan, especially during the heat of the summer. I loved this rosado. It was nice and tart with a hint of minerality. It was like drinking young wild strawberries. Will was not too fond of the tartness of the wine, but also didn't dislike it.

Will's cupcakes were unbelievable! We couldn't resist having one before dinner, which didn't spoil our appetite in the slightest. This recipe is not to be missed. They were so cute since will used the surplus blueberries to spellout H-A-P-P-Y B-D-A-Y!

We finished the evening sipping on some bourbon while listening and dancing to some records. It truly was a great birthday celebration with my sweetheart. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful best friend!







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Now playing: She & Him - You Really Gotta Hold On Me
via FoxyTunes

Interview at Bergstrom

17.7.09

photo courtesy of www.bergstromwines.com


I was thrilled today to receive a call from Sara at Bergstrom Winery asking me to come in for an interview next week. I must have come off as a total giddy schoolgirl on the phone because I am such a huge fan of their wine.

Generally, I am a Burgundy drinker, but love me some Willamette Valley gems. Bergstrom happens to be one of those gems. It probably has to do with the fact that the winemaker/manager, Josh Bergstrom, attended school in Burgundy for his post graduate in Eonology and Viticulture.


Josh Bergstrom, winemaker, Vineyard Mangager and General Manager,
Photo courtesy of www.bergstromwines.com


I love that Bergstrom pinot's don't particularly classify as Burgundian or Willamette Valley in style, but rather dance a fine line between the two. They are elegant wines with juicy fruit, minerality, warm spices, and silky texture.

While, a little out of my struggling, wine student price range I think they make a powerhouse of a pinot. These wines are meant to be aged 3-7 years but also drink nicely young. In the end investing in a few will be sure to have a big payoff.

While working at Fife I was fortunate enough to work a wine dinner in which, Marco Shaw, chef/owner, collaborated with Josh Bergstrom. This was a great opportunity to see just how food friendly these wines can be. I have to start by saying that Marco is a true genius when it comes to food/wine pairings. He really knows how to disect a wine and it's flavors and then build a dish showcasing each of those flavors. He really brings out something special and new in a wine that you didn't initially taste. This was a great event to work, which afforded me the opportunity to try these wines while hearing Josh speak a little about the process he goes through to culitivate them.


Bergstrom Logo. Photo courtesy of www.avalonwine.com


I highly recommend investing in a couple to put away if you haven't already done so....and wish me luck in my interview!



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Now playing: Ella Fitzgerald - Nice Work If You Can Get It
via FoxyTunes

Berry Pickin' and Strawberry Granita!

14.7.09


So I thought I might share one of my new favorite summer recipes, Strawberry Granita.

The best part about summer is going out to Sauvie's Island with Morgan and picking fruit. We start the season with strawberries and move from blueberries to peaches. However, it's been so cold lately we haven't revisited for our blueberry harvest.

This year I picked a whopping nine pounds of strawberries! Not only did I get a good arm work out lugging my buckets around, but my legs were so sore the next day. I highly recommend taking a gardening pad to kneel or sit on out in the fields, or else you'll be feeling it the next day.

As for the strawberry granita it's a very simple recipe to make and you don't even need any special equipment, you just need to have time on your hands.

While serving at Fife, diners used to ask me what granita is and I would respond in layman's terms, it's a glorified snowcone. Or if you prefer to put it more delicately than myself (you may be able up sell better than I can), it's also known as Italian Ice.

Now, when I mentioned earlier that you better have time on your hands that's because you can't just leave the mixture to freeze solid. Granita needs to be scraped constantly throughout the freezing process in order to get that nice flaky texture. Will is probably laughing at this part right now because I am the one that makes the mistake of throwing my mixture in the freezer and leaving it to freeze overnight. Partly because I started making it too late in the day and because I hadn't let my strawberry puree cool to room temperature before freezing it. Anyway the next morning I tried to scrape it, but it was rock hard and I ended up hurting my back. Now that is either love of food or just plain stupidity.

So now for the recipe:

Strawberry Granita


What you will need:

1 lb of strawberries cut into small chunks
1/4 cup-1 cup water
1/4-3/4 granular sugar

How to make it:

Now if you have a blender or food processor here's where it comes in handy. You can puree the strawberries while cooking down the sugar in the water until dissolved and then adding it to your strawberries.

If you're like me and have a very bare bones kitchen then you will have to cook down your strawberries to make a puree. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat (about 15-25 min depending on your ratio) until your mixture resembles a mush.

Start with 1/4 cup of water and gradually add more to thin out the fruit. As for the sugar I only used 1/4 cup because my strawberries were so sweet.

Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. At this point you can anything else to spice up your granita (I used fresh squeezed orange juice). Anything will do though: vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice, orange juice, fresh herbs (I've been dying to try it with basil).

Once cool you can strain out the pulp or leave it in the puree, I personally like the texture of it.

Pour the base into a shallow baking dish, I use a lasagna dish, and put in the freezer. Set your timer for a 1/2 hour and pull it out then and lightly scrape the mixture with a fork and put it back in the freezer. You will need to do this every half hour until the granita is frozen and resembles flaky snow.

Now you can serve it for dessert or a nice palate cleanser. If you have any left over (I did after making it with 3 lbs of strawberries) you can keep it frozen in an airtight container in the freezer.
Enjoy!





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Now playing: The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
via FoxyTunes

Playing with my hand-me-down camera:

Veggies and Israeli Couscous

Simple Fiesta Bowl

I love these dried flowers.

Up close and personal with some dried flowers.

Blood Orange Bitters, an absolute must for a good Manhattan.



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Now playing: p:ano - Clapping Hands
via FoxyTunes








My Very First Blog!

13.7.09



So I've finally come to the conclusion to get on the blog band wagon. It has become clear to Will and I that I am in serious need of a creative outlet.

As I embark on my new career path (wine), I thought what better way to celebrate and document than to have a blog. I want this to be a reflection of my everyday life from recipes, cooking, baking, wine tasting, wine reading/studying, thrifting, parties, etc.

I am new to all of this so I welcome any feedback and suggestions.

Cheers


Heirloom Caprese Salad
Kate



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Now playing: Belle & Sebastian - The State I Am In
via FoxyTunes