31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

We stopped in at Bad Seed tonight to pick up some vegetables - now that our CSA season is over the vegetable drawers in our fridge are barren apart from a pair of beets rolling around in back.

It is Halloween today and Farmer Brooke was dressed as a horse. The woman selling the tea and coffee was dressed as a carrot. I had no costume, but I brought my zombie vegetables reusable bag ($1 at the Metropolitan Market in Tacoma!) and we filled it to overflowing with a great stash of veg, including a white radish just like the one on the bag. Well, almost like the one on the bag.

"You look radishing, dahling, simply radishing."

30 October 2008

Seattle - Tacoma - Puyallup

First trip to the Pacific Northwest! We spent 3.5 beautiful days (with not a drop of rain - can you believe it?) visiting our friends. Ben and Jieun were gracious hosts and wonderful guides.

They introduced us to all the essentials ... especially the coffee. I had some of the best coffees of my life - doppios, a macchiato, and a half of a Café Nico, which is a divine little drink of very concentrated espresso, half and half, vanilla, orange, and spice. It is all the best things about sweetness and all the best things about bitterness pooled into one tiny cup, topped with foam, dusted with cinnamon, garnished with an orange peel. Indeed, divine.

We ventured to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma and were mesmerized in the "Hot Shop" where we witnessed artists and artisans fashioning flaming molten glass into something else entirely.

The landscape was mesmerizing in a different way, a calming blue and green way. Wherever we went, Mount Rainier followed, sometimes bright and sometimes gray, sometimes standing in the background and sometimes impossible to ignore. Its looming presence was invigorating. Beneath the prominence of "The Mountain" ran the wide zigzag of the Cascade Range and beneath that, the serrated edge of the pine tree horizon persisted as far as the eye could see.

And some day, when I give up all my endeavors to take up ceramics or glass art and create a piece to commemorate this trip, it will be this notched and jagged skyline that will inspire the pattern for the piece, which I will give to Ben and Jieun to say thanks.

Or perhaps I shall learn to depict Mount Rainier in the foam of a tiny macchiato.

Ben & Jieun at Forza in Puyallup

Sergio flying a kite at Owen's Beach in Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

the view of The Mountain from The Sounder (commuter train) Click on this photo - it's more stunning in larger format.

Museum of Glass sculptures in the fall


29 October 2008

From Seed to Plate

In keeping with my recent obsession with how food grows, I attended a lecture tonight at the library - Alan Branhagen, director of horticulture at Powell Gardens, talking about their Heartland Harvest Garden which, when it's finished next year, will be the nation's largest edible landscape. Twelve acres of an entirely edible landscape. Like Willy Wonka, only better because it's real. I can't wait to visit and see all the edibles myself. (And eat some, too.)

Tonight's event was in conjunction with the Hungry Planet exhibit, currently on display at the Central branch of the public library downtown, in which you can see photographs comparing worldwide food consumption from many different countries. Everything from junk food in the US to ration cards in Cuba. The images are powerful and fascinating.

23 October 2008

Playing with food

As if food weren't already enjoyable enough just by being delicious ... then comes along a funky carrot, a clever chef, a brand new Wusthof knife and - voila! A good time was had by all...

22 October 2008

Tiny Visitors

We found a lady bug on our window when we got home last night. It's rare to find bugs and such immediately outside of our seventh floor window so we took notice right away ... and then couldn't help but observe the clusters of them all over. I counted as many as fifteen at a time on one window. I think it was a convention. I looked for all their tiny little name tags that said "Hello, My Name Is..."

I was delighted to find them. But what they were all doing was beyond me. And why were they on my window. I like to think they were enticed by herbs in my window sill. (My urban herbs. My herbans, if you will.)

One lady bug made it inside - a mystery I have opted not to examine. They used to say - back in the day - that if a butterfly lands on you, it means that you are going to get a new dress. I'm pretty sure that, by the same superstition, if a lady bug lands on your wall it means you are going to get a new rain coat for your trip to Seattle.

POSTSCRIPT: This morning when we left for work we walked out the front door of our building and down the side walk stepping over (sigh) some lady bugs whose lives had been cut short. Perhaps by a fall from the seventh floor? A ghastly and strange demise (considering they have wings). I shudder to think what the nature of their convention may have been.

21 October 2008

Investment Advice

In September I went to Salina, Kansas to attend the Land Institute's Prairie Festival. Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp, authors of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, were guest speakers. When they gave their talk (in the heat of midday, with the crowd of us all piled into a perfect red cliche of a barn), Kingsolver told us that a friend of hers had asked if, given the economic crisis, we all should be investing in gold or something. Kingsolver's response was to point out that you cannot eat gold, and suggested that our efforts should focus on that most essential element - our basic sustenance - our food. "Food," she told us, "is the one consumer choice we have to keep making."

So, the consumer choice we made last week was to buy the largest batch of greens you have ever seen in your life. So big in fact that when I tried to stow them all in the refrigerator, the door actually wouldn't close. I managed to make them fit eventually, despite having bought an additional two giant bunches of turnip greens a few days later. And finally on Sunday we spent two and a half hours blanching and freezing all our greens - a two and a half hour investment in our future market-less winter when the greens out in the field will freeze over inedibly, but the greens in our freezer will be delicious all season long. I have no doubt about the positive returns we'll see on that investment.

19 October 2008