Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wish the best

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Have a great long weekend.

Thanks to everyone around me, each and every one, family and friends offering endless support, encouragement and love that comes my way fills me to the brim with joy and comfort.

I would be in a dark space without the lovely people that fill my life.

Thank you J for being such a true partner in every sence.

Enjoy the holidays, family and friends.

Don't forget to kiss the cook!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feasting


Photographs by Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times
I like to cook, I may be a very good cook, but I enjoy it.  My family loves to cook as well at least I am sure my Dad's side like to cook. I think I have more traits from my Dad and my brother takes more after my Mom and her side. Just an observation. I vividly remember going to Grandma's for the holidays, I cherish these memories of my Grandma. To some degree, I might even have some yearning of recreating this experiance durning the holidays some day. You know, the house full of family, the "kids" table, turkey, ham, potatoes, hand-made rolls, pies, stuffing... you get the idea. Even decorations.
Someday.... my own way.
J has this increable ability to simplify things. He has been trying to convey to me the importance of a simple life, I am trying to learn. Now and again, I have to sit back and grin, understanding what he means by this.
I can make a mess in the kitchen, I can be in there for hours and hours and become weary. As the holidays roll around, my excitment has mounted, the recipes have been buzzing around in my head. There is so much I want to make, I want my house to be full of happy people. Deep breath... slow down... the people around us have invited us to spend the time with them. So I happily volunteer to bring a few dishes. Ahhhh the choices. In my search, I focused on recipes where I had most of the ingredients on hand, recipes that were simple and didn't require much time in the kitchen, foods that I would eat, and could be made ahead of time.

Here is what I am sooooo excited to share with my family and friends. I have found all these recipes (there are 101 recipes that can all be made ahead of time and are described in 1- 2 sentences) by Mark Bittman over at NY Times

Sweet Potatoes With Prosciutto
Cut sweet potatoes into wedges; boil until tender. Drain and toss with olive oil. Wrap each with a prosciutto slice and a sage leaf, then roast until browned.

Cranberry Polenta Cakes
Make polenta with half milk, half water; stir in chopped fresh or dried cranberries. When thick, pour onto a sheet tray and let cool. Cut into squares and sauté or broil until slightly crisp. Drizzle with honey.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce: Cook a bag of fresh cranberries with orange and lemon zest, cut up (peeled) orange segments, 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste) and a bit of minced jalapeño or chipotle.


Pears in Red Wine
Simmer 2 cups red wine with 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cloves, a cinnamon stick and a few slices of ginger in a pot for a few minutes, then gently poach peeled and cored pears (use a spoon to hollow them from bottom), until soft. Cool or chill, and serve with a bit of the poaching liquid.





One of my favorite local photographers (who is an absolute outdoor junkie) G. Grove just posted something worth your time. Here are some photos to bring some color, perspective and **ahhh** into a rather mellow dramatic Tuesday morning (Tuesday has nothing on the upcoming festivities of my favorite hoiday: Thanksgiving!).

Enjoy!

National Geographic's International Photography Contest 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dinner!

If you were wondering (I know you can breath now) what a girl that can live on apples and tortilla chips is going to do in the evenings without the constant distraction of yoga, bikes, climbing, well she is going to be cooking for dinner.... no not a frozen pizza, Casa, or the Bellweather...
Here it is! How else am I going to get ready for Thanksgiving? Ahhhh....

Creamed Spinach 

Avioding big box thinking

I have tried to not cross a certain line with this blog. It has gathered dust for days, and then weeks, I may have even gone a month. I have tried to keep it positive (because that is the only way to BE) and not ramble about the details of my job. I don't think that I talking about my job would be neither very professional nor very exciting to people who don’t live or are familiar with Whatcom County. It is very interesting, political, controversial, meaningful (I keep trying to tell myself and coworkers this) and a job in a crappy economy.


Don't worry; this post is not about work, the county council, the current election results and what that means for our county, budget cuts..... Wipe your eyes NOW if they are glazed over already!

I want you to imagine a county that put the highest value on agricultural land, on open spaces, on the preservation of large parcels of land, on healthy drinking water, on future water demands, on watersheds. I can imagine here in Whatcom County, a five lane highway (atrocity) that is NOT lined with big box stores, commercial strip malls, fast food joints, PARKING LOTS (!). Whatcom County can be that county, the one to say NO to strip development. Just because there is a five lane highway does not mean there needs to be stores and houses bursting at the gills. I drove down the Guide here in Whatcom County. There is hope, it is not "too far gone for help" as some people say. We don't have to live in strip mall hell. We don't have to put ourselves through it, there are other ways!

Stepping down off my soap box! PHEW!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seeking shelter from the storm

In an attempt to warm my co-workers and of course our hungry, wet, wind blown, cold bellies I cooked up my new found comfort food of choice: Asian noodles. I am new to asian cooking and for the most part asian cusine in general. I love it and can't get enough right now. My office mate and I have been drooling over this recipe for some time. I finally made it and it was a winner. The crock pot is a gal's best friend and it pulled through yet again. Done right, the slow cooker makes the house smell like you have been in the kitchen all day, but really all that needs to be done is throwing a pork roast, garlic, soy sauce, wine, water, pepper, ginger and what ever else you see fit int to the pot, turn to low and leave. As soon as you open the door after a day of work, wahlah! Perfect pork, bursting with flavor, savory broth that is just begging for noodles and some veggies.

The Northwest can be hard to hanndle this time of year. Storm after storm, rain day in and day out, and the wind... the type of wind that falls the biggest trees around like toothpicks, the wind that wakes you up at night, the force so fierce that the next morning the yard is often a tresure chest of random articles swept off of neighboring properties. These last couple of weeks have been blustery to say the least. The amount of rain that has been falling is unimaginable and is testing the strength of our roof (the rain won).

What do we fine people do to battle this absolute nonsence? We buy lots of GORETEX, go to the gym, drink insane amounts of coffee, drink alot of beer, and eat! EAT! EAT! EAT! and talk about the weather (sometimes).  Last night the house was full of wonderful people, seeking shelter from the storm, feasting on warm, gooey, pork asian noodles, waiting out this long winter together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Expecting a miracle

I made it down to Seattle to get the opinion of a "big city doctor." Every one insisted on the idea of getting an opinion of someone outside "the city of subdude excitment." The first thing  the doctor said when I got there, "what are you doing in Seattle if you live in Bellingham?" I guess Bellingham has a reputation of good orthopedic surgons.

He did all the horrible manipulations of my leg and knee. You know the whole "does this hurt?" routine. Arg! !@#$ yes that hurts and OMG you are going to break me. Okay my blood pressure rises just thinking about it. I still am in a mild state of denial, not really believing that they are going to slice my knee open and do three major procedures on one little knee. When they do these " how about now?" and I jump off the table in fear of the pain, I relize I might have an issue with my knee.

After all the fun aside he diagnosed me with the same exact symptoms/diagnoses as the surgon told me here in Bellingham. It is kind of mixed bag, I would of like to have heard that he could wave his/her hand and repair my knee perfectly, I am glad to know that the doctor I have choosen in Bellingham is completly compitant.

He did leave me with one token of advice. I am either going to have to pick longevity of my knees or insensity of my knees. His way of saying that what you are doing now is not going to make your knees last very long. There are signs of wear in my other knee that should not be there at age 26. Hmmmmmm....

According to the doctor in Seattle, my good looks and healthy physic will help me heal even faster. HA! Really? "I am an ideal patient." Actually I really like my doctor in Bellingham, and he reaffirmed my dislike for the "big city" what ever that is!

AND don't worry only 7 more monthes of me going on and on about stories about my knee. Only a couple more monthes and I will dwell on something else. Hang in there, I promise I will find other things to write about other than this stinking left knee pain!

Monday, November 16, 2009

4:15

It is 4:15 and it is dark outside!

Arg! Tis the season for lots of hot yoga, slow cooked food, friends, games, coffee, dark beer. My life seems to be focusing on food and friends, pretty soon it is going to lead to shopping because I haven't found the motivation for the whole gym thing yet.

The newest project DIY Kombucha! because my habit is putting a dent in my pocket book and heaven forbid I go to the gym!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the sweet rewards


I love my garden that I have created in our back yard. This fall I planted garlic that was given to me from a co worker. In the sping I will be greated by green shoots poking their way through the mulch making way for a bountiful harvest. As spring rolls in (it seems like an eternity from now) I will sow an abundance of seeds ranging from greens, root vegtables, as well as a varity of squashes, beans and of course cut flowers.

Fall harvest fruits and vegtables may be my favorite crops. I love the dense, sugar, often storable gems gleaned from the garden. Carrots, beets, apples are gifts that after months of sunshine and heat become prime as the days get slightly cooler, shorter and the rest of the harvest has been taxed.


These root vegetables store so much flavor, nutrition and potential, I will be the first one to admit that they are a pain in the rear side to get to the final product. First they must be dug out of the soil, the greens removed, rinsed of excess dirt, soaked, scrubbed, rinsed, then cooked which usually takes considerable more time and heat than other softer veggies. 

The reward of the patience and work is so satisfying, nourishing and rewarding.
Like tonight....

On Sunday I usually have the energy and motivation to cook a proper supper. Today is the perfect example. I waited to harvest all of my carrots at once which led to me being overwhelmed and baffled by what to do with several pounds of fresh carrots. For a loss of what to do, I boiled them down in chicken stock, mashed them up and tossed it in the fridge Friday afternoon. Not until today was I inspired enough to acually created a meal that was more than boiled carrots. I am really trying to empty out the cuppords, utilizing the stock pile of dried/canned goods I have aquired. I dumped coconut milk in the carrot puree, added the rest of the spinich, onion and garlic (the only fresh produce in the house) and finished it with a healthy scoop of red curry paste. I cracked peanuts that have been neglected and baked the final bagutte that was left from a party last week to add the final texture to a perfect supper which will turn into lunch tomorrow that rounds out a very social, relaxing weekend.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This and That

Tech question! Where is spell check in the new blogger editor?
Sorry for any misspelled words. It is obviously my shortfall!

Another week down, days closer to the holidays, days closer to getting my knee taken care of and best of all... the weekend is here! There is nothing sweeter in my life these days than leaving work on a Friday afternoon, picking up J and not having to worry about the dreaded four letter "w" for a couple of days. Our Fridays usually entail a celbratory dinner date, friends and usually a few cocktails in the evening. Tonight..... where to go...mmm......Pho? Bellweather? Casa? The usual delimea... Life is full of these important decisions. Pho because it is 1. cold (STORMY!) outside 2. it is the perfect comfort food for me. Or Bellweather because it is 1. cheap 2. we "know" the waitress 3. I like the menu 4. did I mention that the menu is half price for happy hour? 4. glasses of wine are $4. Or Casa because we  1.can share a $6 burrito and be stuffed 2. have friends gladly meet us there 3. drink margarits (J's poison of chose) 4. it is a loud, dirty, full bar.

Then on to the weekend! We are going to Lummi Island Saturday afternoon. It will be J's first time on the island. We are going to a friends house for a hike around the island and then a BBQ with co workers. What to bring..... hmmmm..... I think THIS! Thank you Smitten Kitchen.
Saturday night is one of my all time favorite girl friends 40th! Sorry to broadcast it but she doesn't look a day over 25. Seriously! And what to bring..... How about a little of THAT! Because I have a wonderful fresh bag of Texas pecans in my freezer!

Mmmm.... weekend....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Listening


Over the years I have been able to shut my brain pain receptors off and be able to push through many physical barriers. I have come to the conclusion that if one has the desire to perform at a high level; one must be welcome to tolerate an unimaginable amount of pain. For example, in order to climb "hard" it requires an extremely high pain thresh hold. Mt. biking, if you ride hard you are going to crash hard (and break things, body or bike). Running is the only time in which I could push through any amount of pain (apparently I pushed through a major knee injury and a few other major issues). The last 50k I ran through crippling stomach cramps. I wouldn't have thought twice about it, I run because I love it, I run to be in the woods, on trail and moving, not to mention the addictive endorphin high that one experiences while running. Running was the only sport that I actually did good and felt competitive.



I have learned, inch by inch, day by day, and injury by injury that sometimes it is more productive to listen to my body than simply push through it. As I get older (yeah I know a whooping 26) my body is not recovering as fast from injuries, I am noticing more injuries that happened several years ago. So this is what happens to your body when one doesn't listen......


When I first me J I was not nearly this active, no where close. He used to get up in the morning and I could hear all of his joints popping as he walked down the hall, his back would crack with just the slightest twist. I was amazed. This summer, after a long day pedaling in Whistler we were walking back to our place and I told J how my knees hurt. We laughed at how I used to be amazed by how much his body cracked, who knew, I am now snapping, crackling and popping and wondering why (insert any part of my body) hurts. Now here I am, years later, my knees hurt, my lower back is always tight and I wouldn't change it for the world!!! Or any other body!


What I have learned is priceless. Resting is extremely important. A body must heal, physically and mentally. I tried to push through my current knee injury, thinking nothing of it and now sitting is uncomfortable, walking is less than desirable, yoga is out of the question and running is not even in the near future. Unless your body has the perfect stride, the perfect cadence, unless your body happens to be automatically perfect you probably understand what I am talking about.


It is true; I may be able to learn to listen, respecting my body and all its amazing capabilities.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Five songs of fame


I think I can say I am one more experience closer to dying living a full life.


Last night (yes a Sunday, yes a work night) I busted loose from the routine and watched a band that holds a fond spot in my heart. Southern Culture on the Skids made their appearance at Bellingham's staple for good shows: The Nightlight.


The first time I heard Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS) was memorable. I can admit it was one of the times where I was by myself and laughing out loud. To be exact, I was painting our bed room, in the midst of our complete remodel of our house, a time before we had moved in. This was the second attempt to paint the room a shade of gold ( the first color made your retinas burn, the second time it was the color of the sun ). It was late and I was sooooo over being there. I had my head phone turned up and on shuffle. J had loaded some new music for me and SCOTS comes on, Dirt Track Date. WOW! I quick found the entire album. WoW! Camel Walk, Snack Cracker.....


I listened to the album compulsively for months.


So I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them in Bellingham last night.


When I go to the Nightlight I can't help go to the front, right to the stage, usually front and center. And I dance. I dance and dance. Every show, the entire show. I Sweat and sweat. I leave sore, tired and hungry. I love it.


Last night I thought I was going to play it safe. I really thought that I was going to sit down and watch the show. HA! I was about five people deep the first song. Instantly I was plotting and scheming my way to the front. By the second song, there I was, against the stage, taking off layers ditching a cumbersome cocktail glass and donning my dancing feet (foot) I wiggled my way between a woman who was absolutely worshiping Mary (she was actually bowing to her during several parts of the show) and another guy who was in a dress shirt and a winter fleece jacket (he has obviously not been to the Nightlight before) and seemed way too concerned and occupied with geeking out over their guitars and other technical devices. The women in the crowd ( all 5 of them) seemed to think that the most appropriate way to dance to the music was banging their heads. Really? I had to stop and just watch for a while. This looked really uncomfortable. I started to dance and slowly the statue of a man next to me took his hands out of his pockets. He kept on glancing at me and then he would bobble his head a bit. I made it my mission to get him to wiggle just a tad before the night was through. I am pretty sure he did and I am sure it made him realize that if you are going to stand front and center, taking up way too much space, you had better be dancing and not acting like a stack of bricks.


So there I was, the one legged dance wonder woman. The band was full of life and energy and so was I. When they asked for a "go-go dancer" to join them on stage, I was the first one to jump up and get my boogie on... in front of a packed bar, on stage.... and I was hardly even tipsy as you would probably imagine. Never in my life would I ever imagine that I would be so excited to jump on stage and yes I stepped up for "Camel Walk" and strutted across the front of the stage, ate fried chicken on stage (no chicken, no show) and then threw it in the audience ( you would really have to be there to understand, it is part of every show).


My five songs of fame. A night that I will surly remember for years to come. Never in my life would I ever imagine that I would get on stage and dance, but I did. Hey you only live once. Live it up!


The moment I find some pictures of the night I will post them to prove that this really did happen!



Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. - Aldous Huxley

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