Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I've moved!

That's right, you can now find all sorts of Seasonally Seattle goodness at the:

New and Improved Seasonally Seattle Site

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coming out of hibernation

It seems that spring is here. The clouds are parting, the sun is struggling to shine through and there are plenty of April Showers. Inspired by a recipe for pickled ramps and asparagus, today we decided to make our way to the Ballard Farmer's Market in between rain showers.

Of course, when we got there, the first farmer we approached shook his head. Ramps won't be making an appearance for two more weeks. But the beauty of the farmer's market is this: just when you think you are going to leave empty handed, another opportunity presents itself.

Our opportunity presented itself in the form of Fiddlehead Ferns. A locally foraged plant, Fiddleheads are only available in early spring, and the next table we approached had baskets of them. In true farmer's market iron-chef fashion, I immediately began brainstorming what I could do with them, even though I've actually never cooked with them before.  Isn't that the essence of living locally? Finding something completely new and in-season, and creating interesting things out of it?

In this case, I decided to add half of the fiddleheads to my pickling creation. I bought some spring onions (probably a distant cousin of the ramp, anyhow) and some asparagus also. In the end, I had a pretty little project sitting in my fridge, which we will eat in a few days.


 (Asparagus and Spring Onions)
(My creation. White vinegar, white wine, thyme, mustard seed, crushed red pepper, sugar, salt, bay leaves and the greens, of course.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Craving Spring.

Tonight, I'm very excited to see a long-lost friend--my friend Val. We've been buddies for years, brought together as we journeyed through Judaism, our circumstances eerily similar as we embarked on such a life changing decision. The ebbs and flows of life brought us together and apart over the years, and tonight we ebb as she is visiting from her city of Chicago.

Despite time apart, Val and I were surprised to see the other parallels in our lives -- most notably in the seasonally living / seasonally baking arena. While I've been toiling away in my kitchen, baking and cooking and creating, she's been doing the same. While I've been at Farmer's Markets purchasing everything for our weekly meals, she's been working at Farmer's Markets, representing farmers and calling first dibs on bright and beautiful fruits and veggies. And this summer, she plans to live on a sustainable farm, to absorb seasonal life from morning to night. Bravo. 

So despite my jam packed schedule with fundraising madness, I've decided to get back in the kitchen. 

On the menu: pasta from scratch, sauce from my home-canned tomatoes, and a french baguette (rising as I type), baked from local flour. Despite being a nearly 100% "local" meal, no meal in our home is complete without a green. Our go-to green this winter has been Kale, and let me tell you, I think I've uncovered every application Kale can have. I've chopped it and added it to sauces, I've sliced it for salads, I've sauteed it, boiled it, and even baked it into little Kale chips. Honestly, if I eat another bite of Kale, I feel like I'm going to collapse. 

So tonight I'm having--gasp--asparagus. Non-local asparagus. With Shallots and a veggie broth sauce. It's going to be delicious. 

Despite feeling completely justified in this (and let's be honest, it's not the first time this winter, and won't be the last), I can't help but crave a local version. I am ready for spring - for fresh, small asparagus (asparagi?) that snaps in your mouth and is better raw than cooked. I'm ready for wild artichokes and spring berries, and every other little treasure I never would have thought to buy unless I was at a farmer's market. I'm ready for the season of plenty.

Alas, until then, I succumb to somewhat local produce (California - yes, Chile - no), simply to get a little taste of what's to come.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beef. Lots of it.

When you imagine buying a beef, a whole beef, it's hard to grasp how much meat you might be getting. Even when we got the call that our meat was ready, and that it was 750 pounds, we knew on a high level that was a lot...but how much freezer space would it take up? How many little packages make up 750 pounds?

First, a little about the cow in question. My brother raises a small (hobby herd) of cattle, selling one or two each year to friends and family. So this summer I committed us to a cow, knowing that we could take a quarter of it, another quarter to some friends and the remaining half would go to another brother and sister-in-law, who have 7 little angels at home.

Even though a quarter cow still sounded like a lot, we had no idea of what to expect. Did we buy too much? Too little? The price was right...$2.75 a pound for everything from top-round to sirloin to ground beef, which is a FAR cry from the prices at the farmer's markets here in Seattle. And while it's not certified "Organic", I've seen first hand the cows grazing grounds, and let me tell you, it's pretty idyllic. They graze on pesticide free grass on rolling hills that look like something out of an Ansel Adams photo.

So on Friday night, we borrowed a pick-up truck from my parents, and drove east, crossing two mountain passes through rain, sleet and just a little snow. We made it in over 6 hours. The next morning, we headed to the butcher to pick up said beef, and after loading it into the back of the pick-up, we realized that it wasn't too much, or too little...a quarter cow seemed about perfect. In total, we had about 2 and a half boxes of fantastic meat...low fat content, good color, and great taste. And the best part? We managed to squeeze it all in our stand up freezer.

All in all, buying local meat is so worth the investment. Beyond being less expensive and tastier, it is really nice knowing that where your food comes from. And it's so easy to find local, fantastic meat here in Washington, that I hope more people reach out and make the effort. It's so worth it.

(a few pics from our drive)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Seasonally Seattle...on a diet.

As I have mentioned in posts past, I've gained a little weight.

What really feels like 30 pounds is probably akin to 10 pounds, but nonetheless, I feel roly and poly and everything in between. So I've been focusing on cooking in balance, rather than doing a diet (despite how tempting those "Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days" diet claims are). Oh, and of course, exercising. Lots and lots of exercising.

Back to the food though.

I've been grappling with why it's been so darn hard to lose this extra weight even when I continually exercise. I have blamed it on my aging metabolism. I have blamed it on not lifting enough weight or not pushing hard enough on the elliptical. But the equation is a simple one, according to a slough of  health magazines and the folks on The Biggest Loser.

The equation is this: eat less than you burn and you'll lose weight. It's that simple. 

Hmmm. Eat less. What a concept. And so, with a trip to Mexico on the horizon, I've been obsessively counting my calories. I've done this in the past, with only so-so results. I would count the first few meals of the day, and when it came to dinner, I would eyeball calorie counts. You see, it's tough to calculate each and every ingredient when you make everything from scratch. Or maybe it's not tough...it just takes a certain level of dedication.

So this time around, I've been better, probably to a fault. Each and every morsel that enters my mouth is calculated and accounted for. And this dedication has been disturbingly eye-opening for me.

You see, I have a certain mentality when it comes to food. In essence, if they are "good" for you, they don't count.

For instance Olive Oil.

The recipe calls for two tablespoons? I'll just eyeball it, and glug-glug-glug it into the pan until it "looks right". Realistically, what I've dumped in is probably something closer to a half cup. It doesn't count, it's good for you! Meanwhile I've added an extra 600 calories or so into a dish. Hmmm. Or Red Wine. Not including the amount I *drink* on a nightly basis, I also just glug-glug-glug it into my sauces. Red Wine is good for you!  Same goes for the tons of veggies I dump into sauces, without a second thought. I mean, each veggie is low cal...probably around 34 calories each. But when you add 5 veggies to a sauce for added health benefits, before you know it you've added a ton more calories than needed.

And all of those little calories just keep tinning away into the muffin-top bank, spreading the wealth into my abs, triceps and thighs. Fun.

And so in my recent attempt to really count calories, I've been counting everything, including the veggies I put into a sauce, the onions I chop, even the garlic I pound mercilessly. And when I discovered what 2 teaspoons of Olive Oil REALLY looks like, I was shocked.

This is good though. Rather than simply not cooking my favorite foods, I'm actually finding ways to make all our faves...in moderation. Huh.

So tonight I'm making pasta again (320 calories) with tomato sauce (200 calories), and since I ate fairly light the rest of the day, I'll be under my calorie goal for the day. Not bad.