Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011


When people hear that my sister married a Greek man, the first question they always ask is "Is it really like My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" I'd say, generally (as most movies go), that is an over-characterization. However, one scene rings absolutely accurate and true.

Remember this one?

You CANnot come between Greeks and their meats. My sister's mother-in-law instructed her about this multiple times before they were married.

For Easter this year, we wanted to do a traditional Greek Easter (or as I like to say "GrEaster"). Of course, this was centered around lamb. I have to say, my sis has mastered the lamb, making an amazing and beautiful leg.

I did the main side- spanikopita. Or as the Greeks call it, "spinach pies." I made this recipe here and I dare say it was a total and delicious success.

On the sides we had many different forms of sauteed veggies, rice (very traditional), tons of bread and wine (or sparkling grape juice for the preggos), and strawberry shortcake for dessert. That was the one American dish, but for Easter I just couldn't help myself.

Also, apparently red dyed Easter eggs are present on the table, so we included those as well.

And there you have a traditional Greek Easter meal.

Xristos Anesti!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Theirs vs. Mine

This month's "O" Magazine featured a sample grocery receipt meant to reflect how one can save money if she shops on sale and only buys what is needed.

What's wrong with this picture?

I am seriously considering writing the magazine about this. The disclaimer at the bottom says, "This reflects sale prices in the writer's area." What universe is that area in? I asked a bunch of friends from around the country (the south, midwest, northwest, Los Angeles area, etc...) via Facebook and the general consensus was that perhaps one or two things on mega discount could be priced that way, but as a whole grocery list- no chance!

Just for kicks, I looked up my last grocery receipt of "just the basics" from a conventional grocery store (QFC, which is the equivalent of Kroger). Here's what was on it:

1 lb organic strawberries $2.99
4 organic bananas (1.69 lb) $1.50
1/2 gallon organic whole milk $2.50
1 loaf bakery bread $4.69
1 lb organic butter $4.49
1.2 lb free range bone in chicken breast $4.43
5 lb bag King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour $3.99
10 pack soft taco sized flour tortillas $2.00
15 ounce can Rosarita vegetarian refried beans $1.25

Total: $30.00

Granted, I do buy most things organic (plus artisan bread), but they were on sale! I am fully convinced that buying non-organic items, even all at sale prices, would still be 2-3 times higher than that grocery list, and most likely 3-4 times more organic.

Try again, Oprah.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Politically Incorrect Grocery Stores...caught on camera

My sis just posted this on Facebook:

And I know this one's been circulating the internets for a long time, but it still cracks me up. In honor of passover...

(first photo originally from here)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Question of the day

Does the lunch in the photo above appear any healthier than the worst lunch a child could bring packed from home?

Consider while you read this article.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

And that's how it's done.

Somehow the instructions being in Italian make it that much cooler. I need to find a good recipe that makes pizza dough that can be tossed around like this. Note how much flour he uses.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fruit Cocktail Tree (I want one...)

Ah, these are so cool!

Obviously that first photo is a joke, but the idea isn't! There are real trees that are grafted to grow different kinds of fruit on the same tree. There are restrictions, for example, you can't mix apples and peaches. Most commonly, fruits of the same categories can be grown together- citrus, stone fruits, apple and pear varieties, etc...

Apparently, they also come in dwarf form, which makes them great for urban gardening because you can fit them into pots. This might be my next gardening experiment!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Enter Spring- The accidentally green version.

Some things I've been dwelling on lately...
Do I want to make this cake because the cake stand is so pretty, or do I want the cake stand because the cake is so pretty? Or shall I just make a cake and put daisies on it?

I really don't want to forget to use my Easter cookie cutters that I bought on sale at the end of spring last year.

I told Raj that this Fran's dark chocolate bunny is all I want for Easter.

My favorite new recipe of mashed potatoes with spinach. It's a great way to get an extra kick of vitamins:

About 1 lb of whatever potatoes you have in the house (I like small red potatoes because I don't have to peel or cut them).
Roughly 2 cups of spinach (I always like to chop it up so that it doesn't get stringy in the potatoes. Also, you can use more or less spinach if you like.)
1 Tablespoon of butter
1/4 of plain yogurt, or to taste. I like the rich, greek yogurt.
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until soft enough to mash. Drain potatoes, and immediately, while hot, cream in the mixer with spinach so the spinach wilts. Add butter, and enough yogurt to make it creamy and a little tart. Add salt and pepper, et voila!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thing I bought...Thing I want

Purchase of the week: it occurred to me recently that I want my bars and brownies to have squared edges rather than round ones like the 9 x 13 casserole dishes make (a most important distinction, you know...)

Wish list:

For spring, I want a natural, white (or almost white) table cloth, preferably in organic linen or cotton. However, for the prices I'm finding, it's not going to be very high on the budgetary priorities list.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Afternoon Tea

"It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon it says, 'Work!' After beefsteak and porter, it says, 'Sleep!'

"After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don't let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, 'Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!'"

-Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927): Three Men in a Boat

{Images from Cost Plus, Williams Sonoma, and VeganYumYum}

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pregnancy Food Photography

I swear, sometimes I feel like I spend more time linking to other people's blogs than writing my own. But when other people have such better ideas than I do...why not?

Allow me to introduce you to Carolee Beckham. She's a photographer/blogger that is documenting her pregnancy with produce! Every few weeks, she posts a photoshoot of whatever fruit or vegetable that the little life inside her is compared to in size. What a keepsake for your baby to have for the rest of his or her life! All I can do is work on an alphabet cross stitch....

When my friend emailed this blog to me, I had already been calling my baby by fruit names and measuring its growth the same way. This is especially fun, because she is just a couple weeks ahead of me. Every time she posts, I see what my little guy or girl is about to be!

Currently, I am going on sixteen weeks, which makes it....


Here is the whole blog. It's really fun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh! Oh Cake Stands!

Would you look at these? Just lookit! And the adorable cakes, too! I'll take one of each stand for sale here.

Ps. Thanks, Design*Sponge. Love you as always!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Cinnamon Scones on a Rainy Day

By definition, that would mean here in Seattle I made cinnamon scones nearly every day. However, if we get really specific we see that while it's constantly drizzly, not many days are absolutely rainy, as today is- The kind of weather that makes you want to curl up in your house, stay in your sweats, drink tea, and eat something fragrant and carb-filled.

Cinnamon scones popped into my head, and presently I was working on this recipe. I made a few changes; I used agave nectar instead of honey. Also, I learned a trick at a B&B in Ireland to not spend time cutting the butter into a scone. Melting it in the microwave and mixing it into the flour is really enough for the desired texture. Before you put me in stocks and stone me as a baking heretic try it yourself. Biscuits yes, always cut in the butter for a flaky biscuit, but scones? Meh. The glaze, in my opinion, is not necessary but certainly makes the scones more of a treat.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I have a date with some Irish Breakfast tea.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Well done, Macrina!

My dear, dear Macrina Bakery just made Bon Appetit Magazine's "Top Ten Bread Bakeries in the US" list. I have never worked there myself, but on top of feeling proud that I have been smart enough to eat there for the past seven years, I went to pastry school with, and still currently know, quite a few people who work there.

Macrina deserves all the recognition that it gets. Leslie Mackey runs a fabulous business and the baked goods are just plain delicious.

From Bon Appetit:

"Especially worth your dough here are the Macrina Casera ("of this house" bread made with a natural wild starter created from organic grapes) and the oatmeal buttermilk bread (ideal for sandwich making)."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Clean Kitchen 101

I am not a creature of routine. It's just not how I function, and I know myself well enough to make this work best for me. Up until now, this has been good enough for me to keep a pretty clean house. Cleaning when I am inspired has worked well, because I like to be tidy so I am inspired often. I know that when my sink is shiny and free of dishes that I feel like my entire life is more in order.

However...What I have observed and gleaned from talking to mamas is that the only way to keep sanity in a household with any children under 2 is to have some sort of routine.* As my hormones have kicked into high speed nesting gear, I have decided to begin a weekly cleaning routine for my home. Something tells me that with an infant, this is the only way anything is ever going to get done.

For inspiration, I went to Real Simple Magazine's website and searched "Clean Kitchen." I love the breakdown I found of what to clean in an article called "How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen":

Every Day

  • Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).
  • Wipe down the stove top (one minute).
  • Wipe down the counters (one minute).
  • Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum the floor (two minutes).

Every Week

  • Mop the floor (five minutes).
  • Wipe the cabinets, backsplashes, and appliances (10 minutes).
  • Wash the dish rack (four minutes).
  • Wipe the switch plates and phone (one minute).
  • Wipe the inside of the garbage can (one minute).

Every Season

  • Empty and scrub down the inside of the refrigerator (30 minutes).
  • Empty and clean the insides of the utensil drawers (15 minutes).
  • Scrub down the cupboard exteriors (30 minutes).
  • Clean the stove-hood filter (10 minutes).
  • Perform "Shiny Sink 101"

Obviously, this doesn't get everything done, and I end up spending more time on one thing than another, omitting this and adding in that. But even if I already did all these things, it's really great to have a checklist to be sure to get things done. I do so love crossing off to do lists. Oh, and I also love that "Shiny Sink 101."

*Ironically, I have noticed the other integral piece of keeping sanity as a mother is to be flexible enough to realize that routine is going to be interrupted every. single. day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hard to admit...

I think living in the Pacific Northwest has influenced my thinking. This video clip made me die laughing...especially with all the chicken talk that I've been doing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Chicken Debate Continues

NPR today was talking about Measure 1130- what I like to now call, "The Great Chicken Debate." They had two guests on the show; Paul Shapiro, the senior director of the factory farming campaign for the Humane Society of the United states, and Greg Satrum, vice president of Williamette Egg Farms.

I know I am biased, but in my opinion Greg Satrum's arguments didn't hold water. To sum up, they were:

1. It's a more extreme measure than any other state has enacted.
2. It would mean we had to change 95% of the egg farming industry
3. It would mean that egg demand might drive the prices up to $5-$7 per dozen.

He meant the arguments to be negative, but to all those points I say: I know! That's why I like it!

I can't figure out how to get a podcast onto this blog, so here is the link to the whole discussion. It's very interesting. (If you want to skip the first part, you can fast forward to about 2:50)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Happy Morning

2 Things make me very happy in the mornings. Since the rare Seattle sun was shining in our kitchen window today, I thought I'd take the opportunity to capture them.
(Aren't you proud of me for remembering the camera?)

The first is my common breakfast of an English Muffin with butter and apricot jam, and a glass of green tea. During the week my breakfasts are not elaborate. Just enough to get me up and at 'em.

The other is our weekly delivery of organic produce from our CSA, Full Circle Farm

Aaah, healthy greens!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Bun in the Oven!

In case you are wondering- it's totally the metaphorical bun that I'm talking about. What I'm trying to say is...I'm pregnant!

There haven't been very many odd cravings, but I must say my relationship with food has certainly changed. I am just more...finicky. Not to mention, if I did have cravings I would say it was a hankering for comfort foods of my youth (home made mac and cheese, pizza, cheese and more cheese). I will definitely be sharing all of my ups and downs here, but don't worry this won't turn into a mommy blog. There's enough of those to go around (Like there aren't enough food blogs....HA!).

Anyway, so far I have learned:

-I must eat every hour. Even if it's just a piece of fruit. The problem is if I let my stomach get empty (and when I feel hungry, it's too late). However, I also can't eat too much, because if I get overly know what comes next (Super Bowl Sunday was not a good night!).

-I can't keep desserts in the house. Me + a cake= bad news enough before baby, but now there is just no stopping me.

-Being happy about getting bigger is just tough. Being a woman who has always been body conscious (like most woman, I'm sure) it is hard to let go! I'm not talking about fat even, I'm just talking about celebrating that bump that is protruding from my previously flat (well, flat enough) tummy. I have to constantly remind myself what it is that's making me grow!

That's all I have to say so far. I am not very far along yet (12 weeks), and I'm sure I'll have more adventures to talk about later. Thanks for putting up with this blabbing mama!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Now I Want an iPhone

There has been a refusal on my part to succumb to the purchase of a smart phone. I have been in a stubborn battle (with no one but myself, really) to prove that most people (stock brokers, celebrity assistants, and company CEO's aside) do not need that kind of technology trailing them like a ball and chain all day long. Unless it's for your work, if you can't spend a couple hours out of the house without checking your email and browsing the internet...something seems wrong to me. This has changed with the iPhone now being available through Verizon. Also, when I saw this app for translating, it totally blew my mind. Can you believe that? Immediate visual translation?! It won't be long before there there will be a little ear piece that a person can wear to do the same thing, no?

Anyway, my point does have to do with food, and since we have been on the subject of GMO's this article talks about a free new app that can help you while shopping to avoid certain labels in the grocery store that are commonly tainted. If you, like me, do not have an iPhone (*yet*), at the bottom of the link there is a PDF that you can download. I would encourage you to skim it over so that you have an idea of common brands to avoid.

And seriously, if you didn't click on the link above, watch this video down here. It freaks me out (in a good way) every time I see it! I love technology!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's Day

All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window

To be your Valentine.

{William Shakespeare from Hamlet}

PS. Please remember your baker friends today! Valentine's Day is by far the busiest and most stressful holiday for a pastry chef.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who'da thought?

I suppose Nordstrom does everything well, don't they? My friend made the most delicious Thai Chicken Noodle Soup the other day, and when I begged to be told where it came from? None other than a cookbook from the department store.

Flipping through the book quickly, I noticed that, just like the store merchandise, the recipes are top notch, well thought out and carefully selected. Not to mention, great for parties!

I saw the book for sale in the Nordstrom Cafe, but it I can only find it available used online.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's DIY...why think of my own when other's are so good?

I have a few things up my sleeve for Raj this Valentine's Day. My main gift every year is to request that we stay in. It's my way of being low maintenance and letting him off the hook of having to come up with some spectacularly romantic kind of date (not to mention, when $$ isn't spent on an expensive meal, it can be spent on other things...such as jewelry ;). We can go out to a nice place any day, why deal with month ahead reservations, pricey "prix-fixed" meals, and crowds? After seven years of marriage, you learn that just spending time together can be more romantic than anything.

Other than that, here is what I have planned:

First off, I wanted to make some sort of heart pin to send Raj off to work with that morning. I will tell him that he must keep it on all day. I love these felt ones here. They aren't sparkly, so he won't be embarrassed to wear one into a meeting...right?

Second...oh man, I can't get over how adorable these downloadable stickers from Twig and Thistle are. They have a PDF and instructions, and all you have to do is find some sticker paper.

Third, our Valentine tradition is to stay in and eat homemade pizza (made by your's truly) and watch a movie. I always do at least one classic margherita, but these ideas here sound like they could be a crowd pleaser (Umm honey and truffle cheese? Yes, please!)

Last, triple chocolate mousse. 'Nuf said.

And that's everything I have planned! (except this. *wink wink*)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

More on Chickens

Sorry if that photo is hard to look at...but it's reality and my purpose of posting it was to give you something difficult to ignore.

Now, going back to the Washingtonian's fight for chickens: This article from the Olympian is really, really great. It's very factual- when circumstances speak for themselves, there is no reason to over dramatize or publish propaganda.

Contemplating Valentine's Day

Every Christmas I think about making baskets of goodies for my friends, family, and neighbors. I know it's the thought that counts, but I get utterly uninspired when I go to houses and see countertops and cookie jars crammed full of treats already received. Valentine's Day is a great time to get my baking going again. It is, after all, a day for showing love and eating decadent desserts.

Here are the recipes that I am considering putting in my Valentine goody baskets.

{Since cake is difficult to transport, why not make these Red Velvet Cookies instead?}

{I have made these Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Hearts before. They are so pretty and sweet.}

{I know Rice Krispies Treats aren't fancy, but they are always a crowd pleaser. A little pink dye and a heart shaped cookie cutter makes them festive!}

{No Valentines spread is complete without rich Chocolate Crinkles}