Sep 2014
Sipping at Feast

If hotel prices in Portland this weekend are any indication, this year's Feast Portland is a pretty big draw. Taking over the city, maybe. I'm going to be doing some hotel-hopping, chasing around the best deals I could find. I was on the phone with a fellow at one of the event's host hotels a couple of weeks ago and even he expressed a touch of alarm at how much a basic room was going for this weekend. Now I'm a fan of the Expedia "unpublished rate" booking, definitely saved some money for a couple of nights and I still get to be at great downtown hotels. But despite the feeling that the city's booked-up this weekend, there are still some tickets available for individual events during Feast Portland. I snagged up one ...

Sep 2014
The Ebook Jungle: My Journey

I'm definitely one of those types who learn best by doing. Oh, I did well with book and classroom learning when it really counted  through my school years. Since then,  though, I've learned far more by just diving into things and developing skills and absorbing knowledge along the way.  My rather limited gardening experience comes more from trial and error than careful study. I pick up languages well on-site where they're used, which is so much more engaging than in a classroom. After all, I don't think a language class would have taught me how to order ice cream in Turkish, but I picked that up quickly on a trip to Turkey! And my immersion into knitting began with buying some beautiful locally-spun yarn, then teaching myself how to knit it (thanks in large part to Vogue Knitting...

Aug 2014
Feasting on Portland

It's one of those photo-ops-missed that I've thought about more than a few times in the past year -- arriving in Portland on a Sunday afternoon, looking down on the sidewalk and seeing a "Feast Portland" wristband that clearly had gotten a lot of good use over the previous few days. That trip, obligations had colluded to keep me from attending the event itself, but I whipped down to Portland to connect with some friends who'd come in from out of town--Texas, Norway--to attend. Over brunch it was great to catch some of the afterglow of the festival through their retelling. That wristband, like my friends, echoed a few days packed to the gills with great food experiences in a city that's got an incredible bounty of products and creativity to draw from. The third year's the charm, for me. This year, ...

Jul 2014

Pondering Podcasts

I’ve found myself more deeply engaged in the digital world these past six months or so, with classes for Craftsy (French Home Cooking and Homemade Salty Snacks) and my Northwest ebooks self-published via Kindle. After so many years producing print publications and teaching in-person classes, it’s pretty fascinating to learn more about how those activities are now morphing into the online, digital sphere. In more recent conversations with friends, another new digital platform had come increasing onto my radar: the arena of podcasts. Some friends are already doing podcasts that I follow (including Spilled Milk, one of the first podcasts I remember learning about, and Wine Without Worry), others share insights about the huge growth curve that the podcast market is due to have in ...

Jul 2014
Road Trip: Wenatchee

When my beloved 1992 Jetta was hit with some minor but worthy-of-being-deemed-'totaled' damage a couple of years ago, I got myself a new VW that invariably came with tons more automatic doodads and general smarts than my old car had. Even just getting a cup-holder and no longer hand-cranking the windows up and down was a huge advance. I hadn't quite expected the car to actively nudge me with notes on the dash that it was time for service. So I dutifully took it in to the dealership for a check-up, where the service rep said, "You're in for the 2-year, 20,000 mile service?" "Yeah," I said, "except it's only got 8,000 miles." Egad. I need to fit some more road time in. I think it'll do both my car and me some good. It only added a few hundred miles to the ...

Jun 2014
Simple Slaw

I've come to accept that I'm a bit of an oddball regarding the degree to which I have an anti-sweet tooth. I played up that fact in the introduction to Salty Snacks, noting that I've long had what I thought of as a salty-tooth where everyone else seemed to have a sweet tooth. And while it's true that I generally prefer savory foods to sweet (particularly in the snack realm), it's more than that. I actively dislike sweetness where--to my palate--there's no call for it. I don't want honey in my vinaigrette, maple syrup on my Brussels sprouts, sweet cocktails or raspberry glaze on my pork chop. A total kill-joy, I know, but that's just how I'm built. Not that I don't ever eat sweet ...

May 2014
Salmon Season Special Offer

Between gin, snacks and salmon, it's kind of hard to know which of those favorite topics I touch on more often here. But with the traditional mid May launch of Copper River salmon season just passed, it's little surprise salmon is on top of mind right now. It's something like the swallows back to Capistrano, an event that signifies the general launch of key commercial salmon fishing season throughout the region. This was part of the story of Northwest summertime seafood that I wrote about for the May issue of Alaska Airlines Magazine (which you can catch here, jump to page 140). And a sub-plot of the local salmon story is that of the marbled salmon that show up on occasion, primarily in Washington fisheries. Each May I'm lucky enough to attend a lunch for the ...

May 2014

Lots and Lots of Gin

Lots and Lots of Gin

What a terrible state of affairs: a gin backlog! To clarify, it's a backlog of reflections on gin rather than bottles of the stuff itself. I wish the latter were true too. I've been a fan of gin for a good while now and went through a peak gin phase a few years back while prepping for a panel about gin for the 2007 International Association of Culinary Professionals conference and working on a couple articles on the subject. At the height, I had as many as 10 different gins in the house, from distilleries near and far, for studious research purposes. Today that number is a mere 3, but I shan't be complaining.  Among them is one of the gins I've been meaning to chat with you about, and a ...

May 2014
Rosemary Toasted Walnuts with Tart Cherries

It's great when life confirms for you now and then that you are, indeed, hanging out with the right people: folks with similar outlooks on life, priorities in line with your own. I've had some recent examples of that this past week based on conversations about the weather. In someone else's circle, that might mean talk of relishing longer, warmer afternoons for a game of golf, or perhaps chatter turns to wardrobe and fun new seasonally-appropriate togs. Not around here. Those I spend quality time with, instead, turn to conversations of food and drink when the weather conditions shift. The mercury's position on the thermometer might nudge us one day toward a warming Manhattan, another to cooling gin & tonic. Balmy days inspire swapping tales of what's on the grill for dinner, while disgust with an unseasonably cold day might be met ...

Apr 2014

It's sad but true -- as a Washingtonian, I am most decidedly a wet-sider. I've lived pretty much my whole life here on the damp, evergreen west side of the Cascade mountains. And while we get over to the Yakima and Tri-Cities area every year or so to visit friends, that feels like quite the trek. The extra hour for Walla Walla means we get there seldom, while I know Seattle-area folks who weekend in Walla Walla without giving it half a thought. Spokane, Pullman and other points to the far east of the state are just not on our hit list of local jaunts we're  often likely to make. But that may change here pretty soon after flipping through every page of the new The Crimson Spoon...