Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Calf & Kid Cheese Pairing

If you are going to be inside, I can't think of a more lovely way to spend a few hours on a sunny and  beautiful Seattle Friday than to attend a cheese pairing by The Calf and Kid at The Pantry at Delancey.

Our first bite was a wonderful fresh Chèvre from Yarmouth Farms in Darrington, Washington.  This cheese was really good.  I gather that it is not widely available as it is mostly snapped up by local restaurants.  I can certainly see why!

Sheri Lavigne, the owner of The Calf and Kid, lead us through a number of pairings.  We sampled two cheeses at a time, local and a European cheeses.  The pairings were as follows:

Sheri Lavigne, owner of The Calf and Kid on Capital Hill, Seattle
  • Bucheron (Buche de Poitou --  Sevrebell from the Loire Valley, France with
  • Buche  --Juniper Grove Dairy from Redmond, Oregon
I liked both of these a lot, but especially the Bucheron.  I thought it had more zing than the Buche, but I would not turn down a nice slice of either of these goat's milk cheeses.
  • Camembert  --  La Petite Reine from Normandy, France
  • Dinah's Cheese  --  Kurtwood Farms, Vashon Island, Washington

Hands down, Dinah's Cheese was divine!  It's gooey and delicious and rich and one of the very best cheeses I have ever sampled.  I will be finding some of this to have at home and hoard and nibble and croon over, like the cheese miser I fear I might be turning into!  The French camembert was just cheese.  Decent cheese, but just cheese.  Dinah's Cheese is something much more special.  

An antique storage kitchen cabinet at The Pantry
  • Manchego  --  Esperanza del Castillo DOP from La Mancha Spain
  • Queso de Oveja  --  Black Sheep Creamery from Adna, Washington
Both of these sheep's milk cheeses were delicious.  The Waashington cheese was, to my taste, a little more 'gamey', which I like.  If pressed, the Queso de Oveja was my favorite.

  • Herve L'Equis  --  Herve Societe from Belgium
  • Red Hawk  --  Cowgirl Creamery from Tomales Bay, California
These are very delicious washed rind cow's milk soft cheeses.  The Here L'Equis is washed with beer and I could really taste the beer.  I think I actually liked it a tad better than the Red Hawk.  I will admit to being a big, big fan of Cowgirl Creamery and I was really surprised to find the Herve L'Equis more to my liking.  Just goes to show you that you always need to taste new items and taste them with an open mind (besides the open mouth)!

Our final pairings were:

  • Chiriboga Blue  --  Arturo Chiriboga from Germany
  • Point Reyes Blue  --  Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company from (obviously!) Point Reyes Station, California
And both of these were to die for!  Each was big and bold and melted unctuously over my tongue.  I kept going back and forth, trying a nibble more of each of them, and I finally decided that it was the Chiriboga Blue, by a hair.

We had wine parings to go with our delicious cheese plates.  The wines, all delicious, were:

  • Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux
  • La Mascaronne 2012 Cotes de Provence
  • Puerta Vieja 2010 Rioja

Cosy garen entry to The Pantry
I wish you could have been there, too.  We could have sampled, and nibbled and compared notes.  What's your favorite cheese?  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Low Country Cooking Class

We roasted the oysters on a bed of salt.
I took another cooking class at The Pantry at Delancey last night.  It did not disappoint!  This one was on Low Country Cooking and the menu suited me to a tee.  We had roasted oysters for a starter, then South Carolina shrimp with Cheesy grits.  Our vegetable was collards with bacon and tomato---yum! Something called Angel Biscuits and Benne Wafers were the baked items.  All were delicious and every mouthful was a treat.
Our most able chef for the evening was Lisa Nakamura.  Chef Nakamura was a delight.  She's organized, her instructions were clear and specific, she has a wonderfully droll sense of humor and her food rocks.  She's cooked all over, from Orcas Island (where she owned the very successful restaurant Allium) to three years at French Laundry, Thomas Keller's famous restaurant in Yountville, California.  Needless to say, Chef has major cooking chops.  And it shows.
I love these hands on classes.  We chopped, shucked oysters, stirred, watched but most of all, we learned.  
The collard dish was the best I've ever had, and I'm a big fan of collard greens and cook them often and eat them when dining out, when I can find them.  These were very tasty and the addition of the tomato not only added flavor to the dish but really spiced up the eye appeal.
The biscuits were divine.  I thought I had a really good recipe for Southern style biscuits but these were even better.  The recipe was surprising as it called for three leaveners---baking soda, baking power and yeast!  I've never used three in one recipe before.
Our plates were soon empty and our tummies full.
The benne wafers were the perfect little sweet bite to end the meal.  I will be making this entire menu and I will be making it soon.  It was just what I was hungry for!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mrs. Anna Hummingbird

Mrs. Hummingbird is back.  She likes to nest right outside my bedroom window in a Portuguese Laurel tree, a little over 5 feet off the ground.

She nested in the same spot last year and raised three little hummers.  They were adorable and I became very involved with them.  I felt like they were family.

This little hummer is an Anna's Hummingbird.   I have only spotted Mr. Hummingbird a few times, but Mrs. Anna is all over my back yard.  I  have been to the nursery and purchased red flowering plants to tempt her to stay put.

I have the nest that Mr. & Mrs. Hummingbird used last year.  I read that while the Anna's Hummingbird will nest in the same spot from year to year, they will not use the same nest.  I felt that since the nest from last year was just going to go empty I might as well add it to my collection of nests.

You can see how very tiny the nests are by comparing it to the dime in the photos.  They have lots of fluff and spider's webs and what appears to be lichen in the construction.  They weigh next to nothing and are very, very soft.

I will post photos of the babies once they hatch.  IF I can get a good shot.  Mrs. Anna gets very upset when I stand in the window with my big black camera pointed right at her.  She flies off the nest and parks herself (in mid air) right in front of me and dares me to threaten her nest.  When she gets like that I slink off to another part of the house and leave her in peace.  For a while.....

I am so grateful to have them back again this year.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sewing for Oso

The lady who owns The Quiltmaker's Shoppe in downtown Arlington, Deb by name, has started a project to make quilts for the victims of the Oso mud slide.  I was very happy to be a part of embroidering a square for an alphabet quilt.

This is the Gardener's Alphabet quilt.  The pattern is one from Crabapple Hill and I actually have started to make this quilt for myself previously.  (And in my usual fashion, I have not made much progress on my quilt!)  When I saw that Deb needed some more help with embroidering the squares for this heirloom quilt for the Oso Heirloom Quilt Project, I was thrilled to help.  I am not a quilter!  I have a terrible time even cutting out a piece of fabric to the correct dimensions in simple little pillow projects.....cutting and patching and appliqué are not my talents.

But I can do simple embroidery and I can color with crayons.  (Some parts of this quilt are shaded lightly with crayons.  Now that is something I can do!)

I spent a week of evenings working on my square and I am happy with the finished block.  I have turned it in to Deb for someone who can sew a straight line to add it to the Gardener's Alphabet quilt.
I feel, finally, in a very small, tiny way that I have done something concrete to help the victims of the horrific disaster at Oso.  (Besides making contributions to several different assistance organizations.)

I hope that the finished quilt will bring some family a little tangible knowledge of how many of us ache for them, for their loss of family and friends and for the loss of all their physical possessions.  I wish for them to know how very many people care about them and wish them well.  

And Deb?  You have a wonderful, giving spirit and a heart full of love.  You are practical, sensible and a most wise lady.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your project.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Waterlogue App

 I have fallen head over heels in love with the Waterlogue app (available on the Apple App Store).  I don't get a dime for promoting it, but I have been having so much fun with it I decided to share it with you.

It is interesting to see how different photos are changed by the app.  The first photo on this posting is, in it's photo life, a real blah.  But when I (accidentally, by the way) let the app have its way with the image, it turned into a dreamy, lovely little "watercolor" painting.

 The above image is not a favorite, but it did catch the energy of these three little darlings.

I love this "watercolor" of my rhoddy but other snaps I took of the same plant I didn't like so much.

The app seems to handle landscapes, portraits, still life....whatever you throw at it.

I wish I could paint with watercolors half as well as this app does!  I really am enjoying what it does to my photographs.  I framed one I took of my daughter and her daughter and it turned out to be quite lovely of them both.

If you are looking for a new app to play with, might I suggest Waterlogue?

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


kitchen desk shelf messy shelf
A good friend of mine put me on to a blog he thought I would enjoy.  Constance Rose has a most well written blog called Art and Life, in which she shares her thoughts on her journey.  Right now she is taking a break from creating art and she is doing a lot of reading.  Constance has been sharing her reading list, which I find very helpful, and also her thoughts on women and aging.  Being a woman who is aging, all of this is of great interest to me.

painting supply storage
I have begun to notice a trend I find both fascinating and irritating on my occasional forays onto Facebook---selfies.  I recently took an online painting class and the participants were encouraged to upload photos of their work each day to share with the others in the class and the instructor.  Since doing so I am now getting a lot of different posts in my feed from women I only "know" through this class.  Some of them, I've noticed, post a lot of selfies.

living room shelves
Yes, it is interesting to see what people look like.  Yes, most of these ladies are most attractive.  But, seriously?  Two or three selfies a day?  It strikes this aging woman as narcissism.  I, personally, don't find it attractive for someone to think themselves that attractive (even if they are!) and I don't understand the need to share their every look, hairstyle, clothing choice, daily shoe pick!  (Feel free to shake your head and mummer here, "Oh, my.  She's grumpy.  Tsk tsk...")

living room shelves
Which brings me back to Constance Rose.  She posts shelfies!  I just love this idea.  And I do find her photos of her shelves fascinating.  I am sure Ms. Rose is a most attractive lady.  I do know her shelves are interesting and give me much more of an idea of her mettle than a snapshot of her grinning into her cellphone camera lens.  She has a sense of humor, she has interesting collectibles, she reads.  (I love people who read.  They not only have interesting shelves, they have interesting minds....They think.)  So, thank you most kindly, Ms. Rose, for sharing your shelfies and for sharing your thoughts, on aging and art and anything else you care to share with your readers.  I am enjoying your blog very much, and I am sending a big thank you out to my friend John, who put me on to this thinker of thoughts, shelfie poster and artist, Constance Rose.

more living room shelving
 Please post a shelfie of your own and share it with me!

TV room shelf unit

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Pho Ever

We enjoyed a big bowl at the end of class

I took a pho class the other evening at The Pantry at Delancey.  I've written about classes at The Pantry before on this blog and this pho class was another winner.  The instructor was Chef Kim Cozzetto Maynard.  I've taken classes from Kim before and enjoyed a fantastic Valentine's dinner she prepared.  She's an outstanding instructor.

Besides carefully explaining how to create the beef stock that is the heart and soul of a good bowl of pho, Kim shared her favorite brands of ingredients, which I find most helpful.  We have a lot of different Asian markets in this area and knowing which brands are preferred by local chefs helps me to narrow down my choices.

One important step to preparing the stock is to carefully blacken the onions and ginger before adding them to the bones, oxtails and water to begin the stock.

Chef Kim Cozzetto Maynard
We made sriratcha and hoisin sauces from scratch and what a difference that made!  They were really delicious and I will be making my own sriratcha from now on.  It was not only a real spicy addition to the pho but besides heat it added a lovely flavor.

Kim showed us how to make rice noodles, too.  You start with a cooked dough that is really very similar to making choux pastry.  The ingredients are different, but you cook the dough and then add tapioca flour rather than eggs.  Once the dough was prepared we used a pasta machine to roll it out and cut it for our rice noodles.

cooking the rice noodle dough
rolling the rice noodle dough

We had trays of the traditional garnishes to add to taste to our bowls of pho at the end of class and we also had made a green papaya salad with shrimp toppers that was excellent.

Having been smelling the simmering broth for hours I was more than ready to dig into a big steaming bowl of pho.

It was goooooooood!!!