Apr 272014

orquesta aragon

Last week I had the chance to go out with my husband and enjoy three of my favorite things: meeting interesting people, listening to great music, and trying new food. We started off the evening at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (Seattle’s venerable old jazz club that has seen all the greats over the years, and still gets all the big names in jazz) to see Orquesta Aragon, a Cuban jazz band that is celebrating it’s 75th (!!) anniversary this year.

Every so often I crave a little escape from the routine of daily life, and one of the best escapes is to go out and listen to live music. I can get into anything from a big stadium show to a cheesy cover band at a bar, but my favorite type of venue is a club where you can really be wine jazz alleyimmersed in the music.  Sometimes creativity comes not from making something, or cooking or crafting, but getting swept up in someone else’s creation. Those musicians were really swinging and I could tell how much they enjoyed playing, and listening and dancing along in that intimate room was great.

We were at the show with colleagues of Alvaro’s and they were so pleasant and interesting. It’s refreshing (especially as a stay-at-home mom) to talk with people outside my usual social circle (the 4 – 6 year-old crowd). We were enjoying the conversation and since we hadn’t had much time to talk in between sets we decided to get something to eat after the show. We headed down to New Star Seafood Restaurant in the International District and ate way too much food but it was so good – we had won ton soup, shrimp fried rice, steamed bok choy with mushrooms and the best dish of the evening – geoduck.

Now if you’re not from the Pacific Northwest you might not have ever heard of geoduck (it’s pronounced gooey-duck) – it’s a giant type of shellfish that looks kind of obscene when it’s alive – and while I’d heard all about it I’d never had a chance to try it before. New Star prepared it steamed with vegetables and served it with a very spicy clear dipping sauce and it was So. Good. Sweet and just a bit briny, and I can’t wait to try it again prepared another way (or even that same way again).  All in all it was one of those inspiring evenings where everything turns out just right and it managed to get the gears turning in my mind like they haven’t been in awhile. Really magical.

geoduck new star

 Posted by at 10:21 pm

Making Homemade Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

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Apr 232014

chocolate frozen yogurt

As happens a lot lately (since we’re home alone together so much of the time) my little guy requested that we make something. The specific thing he wanted to make this time was homemade ice cream. He asked me if it was true that when Papi and I were married we had gotten an ice cream maker as a gift. I assured him it was true and boy did his eyes get wide and then when we went to the closet and I showed him the machine he wanted to make up a batch of ice cream immediately. Much to his disappointment we had to chill the bowl (for at least 24 hours) first, but after that we were good to go.

I decided we would make frozen yogurt instead of ice cream (mainly because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a custard base) and started searching for a recipe online. One of the first recipes for chocolate frozen yogurt I came across was this one from Chocolate & Zucchini and it sounded delicious so that’s the one we went for. The recipe was easy to follow and I think it turned out great, but it did use dark chocolate and no one else in my family is much of a dark chocolate fan (no big deal – more for me then!). I probably won’t use this same recipe again the next time I make chocolate frozen yogurt – I think we’ll do strawberry next time anyways – but I did have good results with it.

Cook the Collection #9: Better Homes & Gardens Cookies Cookies Cookies

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Apr 212014

Cook the Collection Header

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies Cookies Cookies is an older cookbook (published in 1992) which is a bit of a novelty book – half of the book is called “Any – Day Treats” with basic recipes for peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles and when you flip the book over and turn it upside down you have “Christmastime Treats” with more elaborate shaped and decorated cookie recipes. It’s a pretty no-nonsense book generally, with spare header notes and straightforward, easy-to-follow directions.  I’ve had this book for 20 years and I don’t know that I’ve ever baked anything from it before (why do I hold on to these books? It’s crazy, I know).

My little guy wanted to bake Chocolate Chip Cookies the other day and  instead of just using the recipe off the back of the chip bag like I usually do, I pulled out this book to give it a try. The ingredient list was pretty much what I was expecting except that it called for a half cup of vegetable shortening – which I don’t usually keep on hand and didn’t want to buy just for these cookies. What I did have in the pantry was a jar of coconut oil so I substituted it with a 1:1 ratio. It ended up giving the cookies a subtle coconut flavor, but I thought it was quite a nice addition. After baking these cookies I’ll probably give another recipe from this book a try since the one I tested was easy and successful.

chocolate chip cookies

(Disclosure: The cookbook link in this post is an affiliate link and if you happen to make a purchase via the link I’ll receive a small percentage of your purchase – and of course would be so grateful!)

Apr 172014

Keep your dog off the counter in one easy step

Okay folks, if you’ve got a reasonable sized dog with longish legs who likes to, shall we say, counter surf, then this post is for you. We’ve got one of those kinds of dogs and I was starting to go a little crazy with his grazing ways. This dog couldn’t pass through the kitchen (and its basically a galley kitchen, so there’s a lot of passing through going on) without putting his front paws up onto the counters or the edge of the sink to see if there was anything to eat. Of course, there usually is because with little kids there’s always some food either being prepared, waiting to be served, or abandoned half-eaten at any given time. We tried correcting him with a gentle ‘no’, with a forceful ‘no’, with a loud noise (meant to startle him – yeah right), with a squirt of water (uh, he’s a hunting dog so he likes water) . . . nothing worked. Finally we tried this method to keep the dog off the kitchen counters. Get ready, you might want to take notes, it’s pretty detailed:

Step 1: Put double sided carpet tape around the edges of your counters and sink.

Step 2: That’s it! there is no step 2. You’re done now. Here’s a visual aid in case you need a bit more information:

counter tape labeled

The first day of Operation Counter Tape we set up an experiment – a nice big cookie right in the middle of the counter. Poor Pisco tried one side of the counter, then the other side, then the third side and each time he got right back down again his paws stuck to the tape. The tape is pretty sticky, but not enough to actually hurt when you’re stuck to it and it’s easy to pull off of. The cookie stayed right there for an hour or so, until my son ate it (Note: counter tape does not appear to deter children at all). We also put a strip of tape along the front of the sink and that kept him from jumping up to lick dirty dishes. It’s been two weeks now and he does still occasionally try the counter but gets down again before he grabs anything. I think we’ll need another week or so before we can officially say the counter surfing problem is solved.

There are a few things to keep in mind: 1)  You’ll need to pull off and redo the tape occasionally depending on how often the dog, kids, dishtowels, your own clothing etc get stuck to it so that it stays sticky; 2) We have crappy linoleum counter-tops and although the tape comes off easily without a residue, I’d be a bit wary of using it on higher end surfaces – at least test it out in a small inconspicuous area first; and 3) You’ll need to keep the tape up until the dog completely stops jumping up because if she jumps up after the tape’s gone she’ll be right back to that counter surfing habit in no time.

Good luck, and come back and let me know if this method does (or doesn’t) work for you!

 Posted by at 7:22 pm  Tagged with: