Celebrating

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First onion!

cod + pineapple salsa

C A S S A T A ! !

I FINALLY remembered to take a picture – Michael, Mary, & Greg
Jesus & Juniper under foot!

When Greg and I first moved to Portland (1998!), and Hawthorne only had a handful of restaurants where we would actually eat, Bread & Ink was among our favorite places, one of those we enjoyed on a leisurely walk. A saunter of about two miles each way, depending upon which view or which house or which garden I felt like seeing that day – Greg never really cared. Their food, up until we left in 2014, was very 90s and always good. Fun cocktails, excellent coffee, nice servers. My favorite had a tattoo of a sparrow on her forearm, after the bible verse, she said, and to this heathen, non bible reader, a bit of new information, and a lovely revelation (Psalm 84:3).

But the reason for my choosing to go was always the Cassata. I remember reading the description the first time: ricotta, candied orange, & chocolate filling, chocolate frosting, and thinking, hmmmm. Could be alright. It really, really was. And so it became my dessert there, one that was not always on the menu, which was always a major disappointment, of course.

I hadn’t had any since leaving Portland (almost six years now – GOSH), and it, like every memory, came bubbling to the surface, out of the blue, and I had to have it. We were hosting Michael and Mary, and I fashioned our menu around it. Problem was, I needed to find a recipe. Type cassata into ye ole search engine and a couple rise to the top, neither of which is the cake I want. Add chocolate, and bingo, at least closer. I ended up making a 1-2-3-4 yellow cake, read through some cannoli filling recipes and got a feel for what I wanted to accomplish, then candied orange peels and made a dark leaning fudgy frosting. It gave me so many problems, but after literally jumping up and down in rage and frustration, it finally adhered to the cake. It wasn’t much to look at before slicing but made up for it, in spades, once it hit the tongue.

I also made a tomato tart, two kinds of crackers, a cheese spread, apricot mostarda, and blueberry gooseberry (home grown!) preserves. Then, for dinner, because this was a marathon, grilled rosemary chicken, grilled asparagus, a salad entirely grown by farmer Greg (two varieties of lettuce, carrot, onion, radish!!).

Of course we put together a puzzle, as we always do, talked and talked, and talked some more, and walked the dogs. The best of times among the best of friends – twenty-six years strong.

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First carrot!

ground cherries – small but mighty

plums

crocosmia & eager hummingbird

liatris

orange horned poppy

evening primrose

ratbida

fernbush

Choke cherry – how wild the birds are for these!

beautifully grilled salmon

mushroom + sausage + fennel

home grown (!) roasted italian pepper + langostino + olive oil

Dizzyingly good pizza and a bumpy birthday cake for my favorite person, a few days early. My frosting didn’t look quite right, but the flavor sure was.

Flowers and mountains and homegrown food – how lucky they make us and our days. The bees and butterflies and birds, everyday joys: walking, sweating, reading, a soak in the tub.

Hello, and happy Friday! It’s our 27th wedding anniversary today! We are twenty-seven years better together, to be sure, though both of us forgot until I was glancing at the calendar and saw the date. So funny!

The memorial rose bush my mom gave me for Grandma Tess is positively covered in blooms to celebrate!

We had a wonderfully heavy rain earlier this week, complete with the rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning. The same storm brought snow to Pike’s Peak, which always makes me smile.

A few of this week’s eats. I brined and smoked chicken wings, made a green olive and orange gremolata to top more chicken, and did a Thai-ish salad of mushrooms, pork, peppers, green onion and garlic. Oh, and lots of ginger. Lots. Steamy!

Grandpa Herbie’s favorite Indian Paintbrush is popping up all over. Did you know it is a parasitic plant? Fascinating.

Yucca getting ready to bloom…

So much love for these tender hearts…

It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

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Happy 2020! I hope your holiday celebrations were as lively and enjoyable as ours. This was our not-so-fancy Christmas dinner: pan roasted chicken thighs, roasted asparagus, sliced cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. No pie and lots of movie watching and puzzle making! It was the best day.

Fear not about the pie, however, as we spent Boxing Day with the local cousins (yay!), and our contribution was a ham, homemade fudge (walnut & cranberry pecan), homemade maple cream liqueur (scroll down for the recipe), spiced wine, and a bourbon pecan pie. You know, all the essential food groups.

It was a grand day of eating, chatting, D & D (our party continues to slay), more eating, a little drinking, and watching a couple episodes of The Mandalorian. We are actually in the know on a current event! Ha. That Baby Yoda is adorable.

We were also up late enough with weather fine enough for a midnight stroll (Juniper was ecstatic to be out so late, little cutie) to witness the annual AdAmAn display on top of Pike’s Peak. It only took three years! If you don’t know about it, it’s a group of climbers who endure a freezing hike the two days prior to New Year’s and set off fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Greg and I are not generally keen on fireworks in a been-there-done-that kind of way, but this display really is something, illuminating the peak in spectacular fashion! Here’s looking forward to next year…

And to yesterday’s lunch – a zucchini, apple, dried cranberry, and feta salad, with a little apple cider vinegar reduction dressing. The tops! All the basic holiday food groups were a bit excessive, so we are doing a much needed reset. The body brims with gratitude.

And if you are any kind of maple fan, you will be grateful for this recipe! Our friend Alex is Canadian and gave us this delicious Maple Cream Liqueur from Cabot Trail. We absolutely love it, but it isn’t available in the United States. Sadly, there isn’t anything quite like it here, and as I scoured the internet for recipes, came up blank. So I did a bit of tinkering and ended up making a version I actually feel is superior. It is SO easy, too.

Maple Cream Liqueur

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup gold rum (I like Bacardi), whiskey would also be wonderful

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Mix maple, your booze of choice, and the cocoa powder in a mixer or with a hand blender until smooth. I tried to do this with a whisk, but the cocoa powder is super finicky and kept floating on top. Add the whipping cream and mix on low just until combined. You don’t want to make it frothy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and serve over ice or in your favorite cup of coffee. I have no idea how long this keeps because it’s too good to not want to drink. Enjoy!!

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