Apr 2014
A World of Salt near Seattle

Seattleites may not know it, but right in our backyard is one of the country's (actually, the world's) top purveyors of that darling of the kitchen: gourmet salts. SaltWorks up in Woodinville has been in this business since 2001. Its earliest inception is one of those classic entrepreneurial stories of a one-time hobby taking over someone's life to the point that there was little choice but to open a business given the hobby's growing demand for space. The entrepreneurs in this case are Naomi Novotny and Mark Zoske, who had little idea what they were going to become when first developing the brand out of a spare bedroom in their home. Today they're importing salt from 21 countries around the world, including Sicily, Australia, France, Mexico and Japan. Among the distinctive salts is a range of Himalayan pink salts (mined from ancient sea beds) that are all the ...

Mar 2014
Spicy Peanut Butter Cookies with Dukka

Authors aren't supposed to have favorite book projects, or so I've heard, just as a mother's expected to not profess having a favorite kid. And of course I do have a special affection for all the books I've worked on over the years. But just between you and me, Salty Snacks was a particular favorite. Not only was it a chance to dive head-first into a category of food I most crave -- salty-crunchy things (in the long run including not-so-crunchy items as well) -- but also an arena that proved to be great fun on the creative front. When I started that project it was a wide open slate with a few foundational points of departure: chips, crackers, popcorn, nuts. And within those classic categories ...

Mar 2014
Northwest EBooks Promotion

The new series of eBooks that I launched a couple of months ago is on a special promotion right now. Today the price of each of the seven titles is down to $.99, and over the course of the next few days the price goes up one dollar per day until returning to the full price on Thursday. ...

Feb 2014
New Snacks Class!

Right after the new year, I headed back to Denver, the home of Craftsy, to shoot another class for this fun, dynamic platform for those who love to get creative with anything from cake decorating to quilting. And cooking is certainly a most delicious way to get creative! This new class reflects my lifelong love of all things salty -- the focus of the lessons in Homemade Salty Snacks (this link includes a $10 rebate!), an exploration in going DIY with that popular category of food, allowing you to customize to suit your own taste and maybe skip that snack aisle at the grocery store now and then. I had really enjoyed shooting my first Craftsy class, French Home Cooking Essential Techniques, that's an arena that I adore as well. But shooting this new class was even more fun because, ...

Feb 2014
Cooking for Your Love — A Give-Away

It doesn't matter where we were. It wasn't the restaurant or the server or the menu that was at fault. The calendar did it. February 14 to be exact. It was a decade or so ago and my husband and I had gone out to a restaurant we'd been to many times in the past, and have been back to since. Not a fancy place; a casual, popular spot with very good food. But there's something charged about that evening, energy in the air: it has to be an unforgettable night, expectations of diners are incredibly high, restaurants are booked solid, customers' expectations don't quite get met (whether on the part of their date or the meal) and quickly the loving moment of Valentine's Day bliss crumbles under the force of the reality of a day when restaurants are overtaxed to an almost unparalleled degree. So, even though the expectations my ...

Feb 2014
Finding that Career Path in Food

Long, long ago,  just a couple of years after having earned my degree in Mathematics from University of Puget Sound, I sat at the desk in my one-room apartment in Seattle and flipped a coin. I was filling out the application for a stagiaire position at the venerable La Varenne cooking school in France, a more affordable work-study opportunity to study in France, which would have been impossible at full fare. There were two boxes at the top of the form, and I had to pick one: practical or editorial. Did I want to be working mostly in the kitchen with the chefs focused on class-related tasks or in the editorial realm, working on recipes, book projects, research, whatever else came up in that arena. I had absolutely no idea. All I knew is that I was at my limit of the highly-educated-receptionist phase ...

Jan 2014
Oaxaca: Color and Flavors Abound

I realized I'd taken a lot of photos when I got that error message saying my 4GB media card was full. Thankfully it was the last afternoon of the weeklong trip to Oaxaca and I had my phone at hand to capture some final images before packing away my t-shirts and sun hat and dried chiles and corn husks along with an overload of sensory input and experiences to pack along home as well. That's just one measure of what a full week it was , no doubt about it. Ten of us (friends old and new) traipsed around together--from wandering the streets of historic central Oaxaca City to the dusty heights of impressive Monte Alban and from morning into night. Given Oaxaca's prominence as the culinary heart of Mexico, it's appropriate that this introduction to the region should be through its kitchens and market stalls under the amazing guidance of Susana Trilling, wonder woman ...

Dec 2013
Fish Stock: A Kitchen Foundation

You may have heard this reflection before: that stocks are so integral to cooking, the French use the word fond, meaning "foundation," for most stocks used in the kitchen. Fond de veau (veal), fond de volaille (poultry), fond de boeuf (beef). They're the base for countless recipes, including soups, stews, sauces and that old-school showpiece, the aspic (or, more elegantly, gelée in French). Which explains why various stocks were among the first things we were taught to perfect in the program I went through at La Varenne cooking school. Fish stock is no less a foundational recipe, though it does get tagged with a different name in French cuisine: fumet rather than fond. It translates as aroma, I like to think if it as essence. Though the general principle of making fish stock is the same as that for the meat stocks, fish stock is inherently lighter in character and quicker ...

Nov 2013
Restaurant Photos: A Different View

I came to the conclusion this week that I'm deeply tired of that pause from the pleasure of eating out that's inescapable when the let-me-get-a-shot-of-that-before-you-take-a-bite routine kicks in. So I plan to give it a bit of a break. While at the same time giving a break to family and friends who usually love, but surely sometimes are perplexed by, hanging out with a food professional. Of course I'll still be taking food snaps, no way around that. They're part of the toolkit of food professionals. My recipe-testing archive for any development project includes photos of tests, valuable cues to illustrate the recipe results for future reference and comparison to other tests. And in restaurants, the occasional "wow, haven't seen that before, gotta remember this idea." Oh, and how could I forget, those occasional social-media shares, the ephemeral shots that are shared once and not thought of much more. This however-brief moratorium is instigated ...

Oct 2013
Northwest Cuisine: My New Series

Thrilled to announce that my first-ever self-published e-book was released earlier this week. For this initial entrée into the new realm, with The Northwest: Crab, I have revived some content from projects dating back a decade or so. The Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series was one of the most personal projects I had the opportunity to work on. For one thing, I was the sole writer of the project and created all of the recipes myself, after a number of co-author gigs and compilation projects working on other folks' recipes. But even more meaningful to me was the chance to shine the spotlight on a handful of foods that I found to be among the most iconic of this region I've called home all my life. Three of the ...