favorite things of summer

You certainly can’t call 56 degrees and rainy “summer.” My patio is still covered in grime; its table and chairs unused. Our window air conditioning units sit lonely in storage. The girls and I haven’t yet made popsicles, ice cream or s’mores.

So to break me out of my un-summer-bummer, I decided to focus on the things that I do like about this “season”…so far.

I used to think pink wine was something imbibed by sorority girls out of a box. Not anymore. Charles & Charles Rosé is sweet without going over the top and has a fuller body akin to chardonnay. It’s the perfect summer refresher. (Seattle peeps: try Met Market, Central Market, and some QFCs, $8.99-$14.99).

Coooooold brew coffee. Yeah, yeah. It’s all the rage right now. But if you try to take my Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System from me I will claw you with my perpetually un-manicured fingers.

All you do is pour 7 cups water and 12 oz coarse ground coffee into the white thingie (that’s its technical name), let sit overnight, filter into the pitcher, and you have a gorgeous coffee concentrate. Serve over ice with milk, or make it hot by adding boiling water (like an americano–that’s what I do). It tastes incredibly smooth (cold brew contains 67% less acid than conventional coffee) so I find myself drinking waaaay too much and buzzing all the way through my day. Amazon, $34.95.

My mom turned me onto these little beauties. 34° Crisps are super thin (and yes, crispy) and come in a variety of savory and sweet flavors. Mom buys the chocolate variety and makes mini ice cream sandwiches by placing a tiny scoop of ice cream between two crisps. I like dunking the caramel crisps in my coffee, or placing a slice of strawberry and a wedge of parmigiano reggiano on a rosemary whole grain crisp. Safeway, Whole Foods, Central Market, $3.99.

I’ve been a fan of Skotidakis Jalepeno Yogurt Dip for a long time, and now they have a new Dill & Cucumber flavor. It’s thick like sour cream and packed with flavor. Dip your veggies or chips in it, or spread on a sandwich or wrap. 50 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving never tasted so good. Costco $5.69.

CO Bigelow Mentha Lip Tints are minty-flavored glosses that moisturize. I’ve been using them for years but recently found some fun new summery colors at Bath & Body Works, so I stocked up. One for the car, one for the purse, one for the bathroom. $7.50.

In the summer I tend to go for more sheer coverage on my face, and Too Faced Beauty Balm does just the trick. It moisturizes, illuminates without being shiny, and it has just enough coverage to minimize those little imperfections (plus has SPF 20). Ulta, $32.

Wella Brilliance Treatment is a must-have if summer dries out your hair. Apply for 5 minutes in the shower and it works wonders, especially if your hair is (shhh) color-treated, like mine. Ulta, $12.00.

I think I’m the only white girl in Seattle not rocking Toms right now. Call me a rebel. I found these Jack Purcells, my feet fell in love, and I decided to call them my new summer kicks (when I’m chasing after the girls and flip-flops aren’t appropriate, that is). I love the violet/gray color and no laces means I can slip them on and go pluck my 23-pound youngest off the 13-pound dog. Nordstrom, $69.95.

What are your favorite things of the summer?

 

will bake for food

Hello friends! It has been too long. Since I was here last I conquered migraines, was a single parent for 3 long weeks, got very little sleep, and spent a dreamy 5 days in NYC with great friends. I’m so anxious to get back here and cook for you, and I promise that day will be soon. But for right now, I’d like to invite you to join me for an event that is very dear to my heart.

Will Bake for Food is a food blogger bake sale, put on by myself and Jenny Richards of Purple House Dirt, to benefit the Emergency Feeding Program. Our second annual event to help fight hunger in our community will take place Saturday, November 12, 2011, from 11 am to 2pm (or until we run out) at the University Heights Center in Seattle (you may know it as the big building next to the University District Farmer’s Market).

Here’s how it works: bring non-perishable food items or monetary donations (cash or check payable to the Emergency Feeding Program) to trade for goodies baked by your favorite local food bloggers. Taste treats from famous bloggers and discover the sweet talents of new ones. Mingle. Drink coffee. Sip local apple cider.

Last year’s event raised $1,000 and nearly 1 ton (2,000 lbs!) of food. This year our goal is to double those numbers and help feed even more hungry tummies all over this city. We can’t do it without your help. Read our blog, follow us on Twitter, grab a badge, and most importantly, mark your calendars for 11-12-11.

Fight Hunger. Eat Cake. Will Bake for Food.

 

bake for hope

What are you doing this Saturday? Eating some delicious treats baked by your favorite bloggers, that’s what.

Come on down to Ghost Gallery on Capitol Hill this Saturday, May 7th from 11am-3pm to scoop up some sweets and support a great cause. Bake for Hope is a nationwide bake sale with proceeds benefitting local Susan G. Komen affiliates. Breast cancer is a devastating disease, and every little bit that we can do to help will make finding a cure all the more attainable.

I’ll be baking for the event and can’t wait to sample the treats baked by others in the Seattle food community. And if you’re not in Seattle, check out this list of other bake sale locations throughout the nation. Hope to see you there!

Ghost Gallery

504 East Denny way

Seattle, WA 98122

Corner of E Denny Way & Summit Ave E (Enter on Summit side next to Hillcrest Market)

-RDG

 

for granted

Yesterday I visited the Cherry Street Food Bank to pick up boxes for tomorrow’s Will Bake for Food event. I felt awkward, like I didn’t belong. The security guard knew the same thing—he eyed me like I was a fish out of water. Lucy in arms, I walked through the doors and asked the nice folks at the desk about the boxes. While they were being retrieved, I had the chance to observe some of the Cherry Street Food Bank’s patrons.

They have a sort of assembly line set up for people to pick and choose from: formula, diapers, baby food, canned food, potatoes, rice, beans, and a few fresh fruits and veggies. A volunteer hands out what people choose, although the items seemed to be limited to by the cards that they presented upon walking in the door. One woman with a baby in a sling (no coat on either the mother or the baby, in 40 degree rain), picked up a few diapers, some potatoes, a can of chicken broth and a bunch of kale. A man with two babies received two cans of formula and some potatoes. I can’t help but think that neither family is getting nearly enough for one week, especially when you have small mouths to feed. Do they have money to go to the grocery store when they run out?

I wished they would hurry up with my boxes. I was beginning to tear up, and I didn’t want the volunteers to see me cry. Here I am with my designer purse and rain jacket, carrying my bundled up toddler clutching her teddy bear. The spoiled rich girl with the bleeding heart. These babies must be freezing, and if they’re hungry to boot I might break down into uncontrollable sobs right here in the middle of the downtown food bank. As a parent, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not be able to satisfy all the needs of my child.

Finally the boxes arrive. The volunteers help me to my car. I strap Lucy in, turn on the heat and then allow myself to completely lose it.

I cry all the way home. We’ve been organizing Will Bake for Food for weeks, and I have yet to put a face on the people we’re trying to help. I knew it was bad—according to recent reports the number of food insecure households in Washington state has gone up 36% this year alone. But when I see the faces of this statistic I can’t seem to do anything but weep. I know that I’m doing what I can, but I still feel like it isn’t enough.

That’s why I’m asking you to come out to Will Bake for Food tomorrow. You can help. Bring non-perishable food or baby items (scroll down for a full list of what Northwest Harvest needs) to trade for some delicious treats baked by Seattle’s most talented foodies. Come by, say hello, and support a very worthwhile cause. I’ll be the one in the WBFF tee and the huge pregnant belly.

Read on to see what foods we need most…

-RDG

Northwest Harvest buys rice and beans in bulk, so other items are encouraged. They ask for items low in saturated fats and refined carbohydtares (sugar, white flour).

General food items:

Oatmeal
Whole grain pastas
Brown rice
Tomato products
Canned vegetables
Canned fruit, especially with low sugar (but not artificial sweeteners)
Canned fish or meat
Shelf-stable milk
Beef stew, chili and similar meals with low sugar and saturated fats

Baby Items:

Baby formula, infant cereal, jars of baby food, powdered or canned milk, diapers

where i’ve been

I had recipes lined up the wazoo for you this week, but alas, none of them came to fruition. You see, I’ve been a little preoccupied. I told you about my new project Will Bake for Food, a Seattle food blogger bake sale to benefit Northwest Harvest. Jenny and I have been knee-deep in bloggers (we now have over 50 blogging bakers!), logistical details, and trying to get the word out to the public (you hear that, Seattle Times? Email me back. Pretty please. With donuts on top.).

Additionally, this past weekend The Belly and I (that is its official name—soon it will be its own planet so it at least deserves a label) were invited down to channel 9 to do a little cooking on air.

The station lies quite literally in the shadow of the Space Needle, if you can see it through those pretty fall leaves. It’s a public television channel and they air some really interesting educational programs, from cooking to home improvement to children’s shows.

The live “family favorites” cooking show was part pledge drive, part recipe demonstration. Here’s the pledge drive half of the set, with the cooking set in the background.

On the cooking set, the crew wheeled in a cart with each cook’s supplies on it. In between each demo, it was a whirlwind of clearing out the old demo and getting the new one set up, all during a quick 5 minute break. I got about 120 seconds to set up all my ingredients where I needed them, meet the hosts, and get settled on the set.

And here I am beginning my segment, in which I cooked one of my all-time favorites, cuban pork. I had to arrive at the studio with two versions of the dish: one already cooked and one with all of the individual ingredients to be prepared on air.

Live television is a little scary. It’s a good thing I was wearing black because I was sweatin’ up a storm. And it’s hot under those lights.

Luckily the hosts (Carol Dearth on the left, George Ray on the right) were incredibly cordial and engaging. If I got stuck explaining something, they jumped right in and saved my nervous butt.

Apparently I really like hand gestures.

See the belly? It will be officially discovered as a planet in the weeks to come. Scientific studies will be done. Astronauts will explore it’s vastness.

My grandmother told me I looked like Martha Stewart on air. I don’t know if that’s a compliment.

Once I got over my nerves, I had a ton of fun. I even joked with George a little bit and got a few laughs.

Before I knew it, it was over and it was time to de-mic and go home. The microphone lady is laughing at me here because my maternity jeans go halfway up my back.

The crew whisked in and cleaned up the set to get it ready for the next cook. They were so nice—they washed all my dishes, helped me out to my car, and were generally welcoming and cheery. It was a day I’ll never forget. As much as I dreaded being on television, I think I could do it again.

Thanks so much to KCTS 9 for having me on the show and putting my recipe in their cookbook! And a big thank you to my dad for coming along and being my chauffeur, photographer, sous chef, porter and armpit sweat-checker. You’re the best dad and pal in the whole wide world.

I’ll put up a clip of my television appearance when I can find one. I’m too scared to watch it, but I know some of you would enjoy pointing and laughing at me pretending to know what I’m doing.

-RDG

will bake for food

I’m sorry about the radio silence this week. It wasn’t my intention. I got wrapped up in my new pet project, and along with an amazing partner in crime, have an event in the works that is going to be amazing.

We’re calling it Will Bake for Food. Food bloggers from all over this lovely city are offering up baked goods to benefit Northwest Harvest. The super kind folks at University Congregational Church are donating their space to host the event on Saturday, November 20, 2010.

Bring any healthy non-perishable food item, baby formula or diapers to “trade” for some delicious baked goodies. Mingle with Seattle foodies, find some new favorite blogs. Help out your community in a fun, tasty way.

Our website is in the works, so check back as we gather our list of bakers who will be attending. It should be an incredible group! And if you’re interested in baking for the event or volunteering, we’d love your help! Email me at jenny (at) rainydaygal (dot) com or tweet @rainydaygal1.

Hope to see you there! And next week it’s back to gluttonous recipes, I swear.

-RDG

weekend adventure: apple picking

That old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, it’s not true. I’ve been eating an apple nearly everyday since I was a teenager. Not in an attempt to stay healthy, but just because I love the damn things. Living in Washington I’m spoiled to be able to find decent apples most times of the year, so it’s no surprise that I’m heavily addicted. But nothing can beat fresh fall apples, so this weekend the family and I decided to go out and pick some for ourselves.

We landed about an hour from the city at Jones Creek Farm, which boasts 140 varieties of apples and pears in their never ending orchards.

After being greeted with hot apple cider and given the lay of the land, we got to work. Dave got the raw end of the deal: he toted Lucy and the heavy cart, while I roamed the aisles snapping photos and tasting apples. He’s a trooper, that man o’ mine.

Roughly 30 of the 140 varieties were ripe for picking at the time of our visit. The farmers encouraged us to pick one, take a bite, and see if we liked it enough to take some home. If not, we just tossed it under the tree with the fruit drop. I had no idea that such small trees could yield so many apples—the amount of fruit on the ground was astounding.

We meandered through the orchards, sampling and picking Honeycrisps…

…Spartans (my favorite)…

…Asian pears (the crispest, juiciest, most flavorful Asian pears I have ever tasted), and dozens more.

Lucy delighted in the chance to eat so many apples, and quickly learned to pick them from the tree instead of the ground.

She can count to ten, but this one-and-a-half thing is getting tricky.

When the day was through, we had picked over 13 pounds of apples. That is, after Lucy scarfed about half of our take. At $1.25 per pound, I wish we would have picked more. I’m used to paying $3 to $4 for organic local apples in stores and at the farmer’s market.

I’ve been smiling every time I open the refrigerator, smelling the sweet smells from the fruit drawer and plotting what I’m going to do with all of these apples. I’ll get to some recipes later in the week, if I can ever stop eating them raw.

Plus seeing those bags of ripe fruit remind me of the Saturday I spent with my family, wandering the orchards in the sun, picking apples, and making memories that I’ll remember everyday. Everyday when I bite into my apple.

-RDG

p.s. I’m told that by the end of October, nearly every variety of apple and pear will be ready for picking. Jones Creek Farm has a pumpkin patch, too. If I were you, I’d pack up the family, a picnic and some rubber boots stat. We’ll definitely be going back for more before the season is over.