2014 Goals: May

 

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My parents’ magical backyard

Books: I finished Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood which I reviewed earlier this week. I’ve been making my way through Joyce Carol Oates’ The Accursed for Lauren’s book discussion over at Better in Real Life. My answers are due in two weeks and I still have…..a few hundred pages. *fingers crossed* Annual total thus far: 10/15

Exercise: Let’s call a spade a spade here. This was not a banner month for me. The weather has been GREAT but I still don’t feel like I’m in a routine where I can really groove. Maybe its a wonky schedule (of which I am totally responsible for) or whatever but it ain’t happening. What do you do to get back on the wagon?

Shows: As promised, Lindsay and I celebrated our birthdays with Seattle Symphony’s Spring Music Preview at Beneroya Hall. Rounded out the month with funk shows two weekends in a row: Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme at Neumos and Orgone at the Crocodile.

Travel: Tickets purchased! I’m going to Mexico for ten days in July! I’ll be joining my friend, Jorge, at the wedding of his sister and then we’re spending several days exploring Mexico City. Do you have suggestions? Hotels/restaurants/bars/neighborhoods? Please share them!

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In the Kitchen: Clean out the pantry

Soundtrack: Nikki Nack by Tune-Yards

There’s been a bunch of hustle and bustle around these parts the past few weeks. The sun is out so plans seem to change or I thought I might be up for cooking and then I just ate leftovers. Basically I’ve ended up with a ton of odds and ends and it’s time to take a week to eat through them. Cleaning out the pantry is this brilliant combination of creative challenge and good ol’ fashioned frugality.

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Taco Salad with homemade tortilla strips

Taco Salad

Head of romaine + rinsed black beans + half a pound leftover shrimp seasonsed with cumin and cayenne + oven-baked tortilla strips + shredded cheese

Dressing: Combine 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp cumin in a jar. Shake and dress salad.

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Tortellini with turkey meatballs and red pepper (and two hunks of cheese because adult)

Tortellini with Turkey Meatballs and Red Pepper

Package of tortellini + frozen meatballs (reheated in the microwave) + half a jar of tomato sauce + runt end of a jar of roasted red peppers

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Fried eggs makes it dinner.

Ultimate Clean Out the Fridge Dinner

Tube of prepared polenta heated and mixed with milk and shredded parmesan + sauteed odds and ends greens + balsamic mushrooms + fried egg

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

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Oryx and Crake with a side of Sun Liquor

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

Lizzie rating: 5/5

Snowman may very well be the last human alive. Left behind to care for the partially human (or are they even?) creations of his best friend, Snowman spends his days looking for food and trying to protect his pale skin from the extreme solar radiation of an environmentally altered Earth. He is also alone with his thoughts, unable to share meaningful communication with people without any societal context. Snowman shares his stories with us instead, unraveling his childhood on scientific compounds, smoking weed and watching online news in adolescence, and eventually his disappointing land into adulthood. His friendship with Crake, supportive yet competitive, lingers in the background throughout pushing the reader toward choices that will establish the trilogy.

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorites. I met her a few months ago while she was promoting MaddAdamm, the third book in the series that Oryx and Crake begins. Oryx and Crake is super engaging and Atwood does such an amazing job immersing you in her dystopian future/alternate present. Atwood has consistently shrunk from the label “science fiction” which makes this book all the more interesting to me. The technologies used by Crake and the companies that employ him and not unreasonable. Man-made and corporate-driven climate change only make genetically modified food and deepening class divisions more likely.

Have you read Oryx and Crake? What do you think?

Out and About: Agrodolce

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Agrodolce, Fremont, Seattle

Real talk: I was browsing restaurants for a birthday dinner when I noticed that Agrodolce offered a bottomless mimosa at brunch. Don’t need to tell me twice. I barely had to coax my buddy N into going with me.

Extra real talk: once we got to brunch we realized we both had too many actual responsibilities to get day drunk in the middle of a perfectly good Saturday. Adulthood, man, it’s so weird. You can literally do whatever you want. They give you a little piece of personalized plastic that allows you to drive a two ton vehicle and provides proof that you can imbibe as many glasses of champagne as the nice server can legally bring you. But then you have to deal with the consequences. So freeing. So lame. I had one glass of champagne and went to the post office to buy stamps.

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Spring strata with arugula

The food is redonk. So so good. I came in hungry so our server suggested I try the strata over the fried soft boiled eggs but I’m coming back for those puppies for sure. I mean, it’s a soft boiled egg that’s been breaded and deep fried. Yes please forever. N had the mushroom omelette which was essentially an ode to the glorious marriage of yolk-y perfection and rich, earthy ‘shrooms.

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Agrodolce, Seattle

I know there are folks out there with mixed opinions of brunch. Standing in line with a bunch of under-caffeinated hipsters does sound like the first circle of hell (race you there, virtuous pagans). However, there is something particularly wonderful about someone else cooking a beautiful breakfast while you sip your coffee and laugh at squirrel jokes in the sunshine. If every brunch could be like that, I’d never cook before noon again.

Agrodolce is open daily for lunch and dinner plus weekend brunch in Fremont. Also, check out owner Maria Hines on Iron Chef.

On Being 27

Today I turn 28, an age that feels squarely Adult to me but many others assure me means I have plenty of time. Being 27 has been supremely excellent and I’m more than a little sorry to see it go.

This is 28

Happy 28!

On my 27th birthday, I woke up in a twin bed in a spare room of two wonderful people that spoke very little English. Yuri, my host dad, and I had been doing yoga each morning and then eating ice cream in our coffee. We did that again. I talked to my parents on skype even though it wasn’t technically my birthday yet in America and they shouted at the computer like their voices had to carry the whole distance.

The first few months of 27 were a bit crazy. Hey Liz, how many countries do you think you could reasonably hit in two months? Oh nine, you say, go for it: Turkey, Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, one night in Belgium because you have trouble reading time tables, England, and France. What a time it was! It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I actually quit my job to travel. That is my actual, real life but it sure doesn’t feel real.

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Corfu, Greece

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Venice, Italy

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Bavaria, Germany

Over those two months, I saw more art than I ever thought possible, read voraciously, ate a lot of really great food (and some really crappy food), sat on a TON of trains, changed in front of more complete strangers than I’m comfortable thinking about, missed home and everyone in it, and never wanted it to stop.

Traveling by myself is one of my greatest prides. I did that. I made the decision and lived the fuck out of it. I regret nothing.

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My nugget

While I was gone, Leo was born. I got to “meet” Leo at my hostel in Greece. He slept through our first skype chat (ruuuuuuuuuuude). Now he’s walking and about to turn one and is just a proper human, it totally blows my mind. Dude, I knew you before you were born. I knew your dad when he was just a tow-headed stoner looking for jobs in his bathrobe. Your mom and I bonded by drinking too much wine and talking about sex.

Back in America, I got a job. That came relatively easily but eight months later I still don’t have a permanent position. I have co-workers I like, a program I feel I can contribute to, responsibilities, benefits, but an end date that maybewon’tbeprobablywill get extended. This uneasiness is uncomfortable.

Job in the bag, Kat and I hunted for an apartment. Ugh. What a process that was. The frantic gchatting about minutes-old Craig’s List posting, the rushing about all over town to look at tiny, overpriced apartments, the sitting in Kat’s car trying to talk ourselves in living in places we really just wanted more time to think about. Luckily, the universe gave us a break. We found a great apartment and moved in with the help of amazing, amazing people in our lives.

In December, I went to Chicago for a long weekend to visit my brother and get drunk with a bunch of my favorite people on the internet. Seriously. I voluntarily flew to a freezing cold part of the country to hang out on Cindy’s couch and play Cards Against Humanity and eat Jen’s killer guacamole. Despite waking up Friday morning more hungover than any previous point in my life it was the best weekend ever and our next meet-up is going to be epic (and in Palm Springs because bikinis > snowsuits).

I feel like I spent most of the winter drinking in dark bars and reading. Let’s be honest, that’s probably exactly what happened. It rained all winter long but I had no grounds to complain as we were one of the few parts of the country spared the Polar Vortex. Plus, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. GO HAWKS. (Promise that’s the last one, Kat.)

White House

The White House

In February, I went to DC on a business trip. I ate conference food while talking to doctors from all over the country and then scurried out at night to have fun with my real friends. I was a teensy, tiny bit disappointed that I didn’t run into Joe Biden. I have no love lost for Joe’s politics but he seems genuinely funny and I feel like it would be very amusing to laugh at him laughing at himself. Plus, Julia works down the hall from him and it just seems like she should share.

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The happy couple. Photo by Powers Photography.

ladies at the bar

Photo by Powers Photography

Liz Meg Sparky

❤ Lizzie, Megsy, Sparky ❤

In March, I got to be a bridesmaid in Sparky’s wedding. What a rich and rewarding experience to stand next to one of your best friends as she says “yes, forever” to a great guy that thinks she hangs the moon. I cried the whole time I gave my toast. I cried because I’m a big baby that loves weddings and feels all the feels. But I also cried because I love Sparky so, so very much and get to invite Seth on to the team of people that love her and support her and generally just get to bask in the awesomeness that is spending time with her. And I’m really glad he’s here because dude has ninja skills.

27 was pretty special. It was all this and so much more. This is just the big stuff. The stuff that required credit card space or a ride to the airport. 27 seems hard to top but I’m sure 28 will have tricks and surprises of it’s own. I think I’ll fix a fresh drink and wait on the patio.

This is 28 selfie

This is 28

Out and About: Rachel’s Ginger Beer

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Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Pike Place Market, Seattle

Siiri and I had the most ridiculous Sunday Funday a few weeks ago. She needed a plus one to judge a chocolate competition (I know, I’m jealous of us too) and the crummy weather had cancelled my sailing plans so I was all too happy to volunteer. After stuffing our faces with chocolate, we need a walk and something refreshing to drink. Hello, Rachel*! A nice stroll down the waterfront brought us to the Pike Place Market where we chatted up the friendly shop staff and both tried one of their house cocktails. The people watching in the Market is A++ and on a cloudy spring afternoon there were all the babies, strolling couples,and cute out-of-towners to comment on.

*This joke is made infinitely more humorous by the fact that the mutual friend that introduced is named Rachel.

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So many flavors, so little time.

Rachel’s would be a great place for a first date (eligible bachelors, take note) or to meet up with a friend for a catch-up. It feels super Seattle despite being smack in the Market. All their cocktails are on tap which helps keep things super fresh and effervescent as well as speedy! Posssssssssibly speedier than one actually needs a supremely delicious Montana Mule (whiskey + RGB). Luckily, they’ve put a few of their favorite recipes on their website (the things I find when researching these posts!) for those of us with home bars or you poor souls that don’t live in Seattle.  I’ll definitely be making their Pimm’s Cup for my dad come Father’s Day.

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The bartender pegged us as hot pink straw ladies in about 4.5 seconds

Rachel’s Ginger Beer is open daily in Pike Place Market. You can also purchase growlers of ginger beer at the Capitol Hill and U District farmers’ markets.

In the Kitchen: Salade Nicoise Three Ways

Soundtrack: No Mythologies to Follow by MO

It’s salad weather! Hooray! Salad weather means it’s warm (or at least sunny) enough that my first thought is not how to get home as quickly as possible so I can get warm and dry again. Salad weather means I get to think about balancing creamy and crunch, depth and whimsy in totally different ways. It’s the anti-soup weather. And don’t try to sell me on gazpacho. I will eat gazpacho in Andalusia and that’s it. Seville or bust.

Speaking of not Spain, Nice is a lovely place in France. Salade Nicoise is a concept I like to play with. Easy to pull together, hearty enough for an entree, and only requires one burner, it makes a great weeknight summer dish. The Nicoise Holy Trinity in my mind is potatoes, green beans, and olives. Nicoise olives are, of course, traditional but being short both copious time and independent wealth, I routinely use kalamata olives. No one has reported me yet.

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Salade Nicoise a la NW

Salade Nicoise a la NW

Up here in this corner of the country we like our greens spicy and our salmon fast and easy. A quick pickled red onion brings a mellow crunch to the mix. And sometimes I stick my salad bowl in a bush. Just go with it.

Top arugula with boiled potatoes, cooked green beans, kalamata olives, pickled red onion, and a cooked salmon patty. Dress with Magic Dijon dressing.

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Vegetarian Nicoise

Vegetarian Salade Nicoise

Um, Liz, tuna is sorta a cornerstone of the “Nicoise” flavor profile? I hear you. But I had a house guest that doesn’t eat meat so we swapped in some delicious shiitake mushrooms and roasted red peppers. Live dangerously.

Top butter lettuce with boiled potatoes, cooked green beans, kalamata olives, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, and sliced roasted red peppers. Dress with Magic Dijon dressing.

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Kale Nicoise

Kale Nicoise

The secret to raw kale salads is to dress the kale and let it sit for a bit before serving. The acid in the dressing will help soften the tough greens so they are delicious and easy to eat. Yes, kale can be delicious. Promise.

Dress the kale with Magic Dijon dressing. While the kale sits, boil potatoes and green beans. Top soften greens with vegetables, kalamata olives, and tuna.

 

Magic Dijon Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp dijon mustard

Juice of half a lemon

Combine and whisk rapidly with a fork until smooth.

Book Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey Book Trailer

Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal

In a different kind of Regency England, Jane Ellsworth lives a modest life. Unmarried at 28, she has accepted her life of visiting neighbors and entertaining friends and family with her skill in glamour, until new neighbors move to the neighborhood. Jane’s skill sets her apart from her prettier and more charming younger sister but in ways suitors never seem to admire. Kowal traces the familiar framework of “the marriage plot” as Jane finds a true match.

Remember how when I was in Bath, I was super obsessed with Jane Austen? Well, that’s kind of my everyday life. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice a billion times, I have a LOT of opinions on the merits of the BBC P&P vs. the Keira Knightly P&P, and my friend Elissa convince me to watch North and South (available on Netflix) by telling me it was “Jane Austen in Manchester”. So a book that’s “Jane Austen….with magic” should be an air tight sell, right? Uh, kinda. The plot was standard for one set in Regency England: lots of brokered glances, confused sisters, and a marriage at the end. But Jane’s talent with “glamour” seemed like a weak stand in for painting or archery or other high class skill that appeals to both men and women. The addition of magic wasn’t as fantastical as Harry Potter and since it didn’t dramatically change the landscape the characters existed in it felt unnecessary. I read the book in about four days, it was a great commuter read and would probably be a great beach or plane companion. If you get particularly immersed, Kowal appears to have a whole series.

Lizzie rating: B

Out and About: Cookbook Sale at Delancy

delancy

Photo courtesy of Delancey

Who has two thumbs and loves to cook? This kid obviously. Anyone else? Head on over to Delancey this weekend, May 3 and 4, for a killer cookbook sale to benefit the Friends of the Seattle Public Library. The library is very close to my heart. I live quite close to my neighborhood branch (a beautiful, old Carnegie library) and get most of my reading there. All those books you read about in my book reviews? Property of Seattle Public Libraries. Combined with a fundraiser that let’s me cook for you even more? You know we have a winner.

Cook Your Heart Out! Cookbook Sale

Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4

9am-3pm each day

Delancey 1415 NW 70th St, Ballard

Cash, check, and credit all accepted

Hop over to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library to find out more about their other book sales throughout the year. And if you need any more reason to support libraries in all their glory, check out this awesome book domino video made at the Rem Koolhaas-designed central library in downtown Seattle.

SPL Book Domino