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.

farmville

This morning I went head to head with two of my biggest fears: dead things and spiders. The dead thing was a rat, discovered under a tarp while I was helping to renovate the play yard at Lucy’s school. The spider was small but ominous-looking, and I cringed and silently screamed as I moved it out of the immediate area with a shovel (good thing I used the shovel, as I found out later it was a black widow). Now I’m home, over-washing my hands, trying to stomach lunch and forget about every creepy-crawly disease-carrying creature I have come into contact with today.

Writing this post comes at an opportune time because I needed to remind myself that not all animals make my skin crawl. This is one of the reasons why I’m most comfortable in the city—there are minimal bugs, rodents, and general pests to deal with in this wet metropolis. But once in a while, in small doses, I like to kick off my heels (if I wore heels), strap on some boots and tread (lightly, avoiding cow pies and snakes) into the country.  Last weekend was our final opportunity to experience the pungent glory of the Evergreen State Fair, so Lucy, Dave, some friends and I fearlessly entered the land of fried Twinkies and live bacon.

Normally, this would have been a food post. Normally I would have ordered that Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich and deep fried Oreos and reported back. But sadly, I’m stuck in week 12 of everything-makes-me-want-to-hurl. Everything except a corndog. For some unholy reason, that sounded delicious. So I got one. I took one bite. And then my daughter snatched it from my hands and gobbled the whole thing with such gusto that I couldn’t have stopped her if I tried. It was like a pit bull tasting a steak for the first time.

She may have a future in competitive hot dog eating contests, that girl.

The idea of fair cuisine always sounds more appealing than it actually is, anyway. That cotton candy sounds like a brilliant idea at first, but after two rounds on the Tilt-a-Whirl you’ll end up regretting it.

But onto more important (and cuter) things. We saw an array of adorable animals at the fair, starting with pygmy goats. I don’t know if there is any cuter miniature animal than a pygmy goat. They fight like toddlers, gallop like (pygmy) horses, and butt heads like bulls. If every spider in the country was a pygmy goat, I’d move in a heartbeat.

Ducks. I’m not a fan of fowl in general (except for eating), but this little white guy was so fluffy I could have taken him home.

Pigs. Baby pigs. Well, maybe adolescent pigs—I don’t know what the protocol for pig age is. But those little pink ears with their fuzzy hair and black spots just made my heart give way.

More pigs. Big pigs. I believe this gal was 300 pounds. I love how it looks like they’re smiling when they sleep.

Pig pile. A really really big, bone-crushing pig pile.

And a teeny tiny pig pile. These baby pigs were about 10 days old. I wanted to cuddle them but the sign assured me that if I tried, their 400 pound mommy pig would crush me like a fly.

Baaah Marley. Dave’s joke, not mine.

Pygmy Goat Gruff. I couldn’t decide if he wanted to bite me or if he was smiling. Maybe both.

And last but not least, the rare and majestic Lucy riding an elephant. Seems as though she’s a natural at riding pachyderms, too. Maybe my daughter is destined to be a carny.

We had a fun time at the fair, mingling with the country folk, visiting with the animals, admiring the fattening fried treats. But in the end, I was glad to return to the city. Had I known a dead rat and a black widow were awaiting me a few days later, maybe I would have stayed with the pigs and goats. I suppose you can’t win them all. But you can come prepared with a long shovel and lots and lots of hand sanitizer.

-RDG

serious pie.

This pizza post was supposed to come at you on monday, but I was thwarted by the battle of the blog hosts. My husband Dave has been working diligently to get RDG switched over to a new (cheaper) host with more storage, and there have been more than a few bumps along the way. It’s finally done—with my blog and all it’s contents perfectly intact. Bless his little coding heart. And his cute butt.

Also, while we’re discussing housekeeping matters of sorts, I wanted to say a quick word about these restaurant posts. While I was photographing these delicious pizzas (which I hate myself a little bit for doing, by the way—I find flashes in dimly lit restaurants completely annoying), a rather loud man at the table next door piped up and said, “Ah! A food critic! She must write for the paper!” I assured him that no, I am not a critic. I’m not paid for it—I just do it for fun. Luckily loud man and his wife pounded three glasses of wine each, inhaled their pizza, got into two verbal spats and left before the third could begin.

I bring this up because I want to make it clear: I am not a critic. I have not the foggiest idea what I’m talking about when I discuss food. I can only tell you what I like, and therefore I’d like these to be considered restaurant recommendations and not critiques. I’m certainly not going to spend my time and energy telling you all about a restaurant I didn’t like—that’s Ruth Reichel’s territory and she’s damn good at it. I am a tiny, insignificant Seattlite who manages to make it out for a meal once in a while. And I really enjoy telling you all about it.

So now onto the important part of this post: pizza. Serious, and seriously delicious, pizza. Serious Pie is a Tom Douglas joint, and it stands next door to two of his other eateries Dahlia Lounge and Lola. I respect him enormously as a chef and as a restauranteur. He and his wife Jackie do wonderful things for this city, culinary and otherwise.

Serious Pie doesn’t take reservations, and there is often a wait for a table. They’ll call you on your cell when your table is ready, so Dave and I passed the time across the street browsing Bed, Bath and Beyond. It was my version of waiting heaven; not so for my anti-shopping husband.

When we finally did score our table we were starved and needed something to nosh on right away. For a starter, I ordered the roasted cherries with a milky medallion of burrata in the center. The cherries were sweet, tender, and perfectly paired with the creamy burrata. Pine nuts added a nice crunch, and even the tiny bit of mint garnish blended perfectly with the flavors.

Dave had a salad of wild lamb’s quarter, which are slightly bitter greens with a toothy crunch. Local strawberries, pine nuts and tuada cheese made for a salad of amazing summer flavors.

And onto the star of the show: this incredible pizza. Roasted crimini mushrooms and truffle cheese atop what I can only describe as the world’s perfect pizza crust.

Not only is it perfectly cooked (quickly in a hot, hot alder wood fire oven), but the crust actually has flavor. It’s salty, savory, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. And those puffy bubbles? Irresistible.

Dave happily noshed on a pizza of wild boar sausage and Walla Walla onions.

The crust, again, was perfect; the sausage tender and moist. The sweet onions balanced out the richness of the cheese and meat, and it all blended together perfectly in our happy, deliciously satisfied tummies. We were delighted to take home leftovers and (just in case we needed dessert later) a slice of coconut cream pie from Dahlia.

If anyone knows how to make this crust at home, I’d give you my right foot for the recipe. Okay, maybe just a toe. But until then, you can find loitering outside Serious Pie, waiting for a table.

-RDG