Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spiral Garden Pesto Pasta

It was such a perfectly sunny day at the market! 

We've been traveling on weekends a lot lately - Squamish, the North Cascades, Seattle, Leavenworth - which means that I haven't been to the Saturday Farmer's Market in a very long time! I was amazed by the wealth of produce that was fresh and available - the colors of all the veggies were beautiful. I picked up some tomatoes and basil for dinner and more raspberries - I've never loved raspberries like I do now. 

For lunch I was craving a Gourmet Egg Roll.

This time I had the Caprese - sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and garlic with a creamy balsamic reduction dipping sauce. So good! 

And as the gloriously sunny day wore on we were ready for dinner, so I got out the food processor to make pesto. 

Basil Pesto 
2 cups basil leaves
2 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts 
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic 
Pinch of salt & pepper 
Parmesan cheese (optional) 

Combine all the ingredients (save half the oil) in the food processor and process. Add in the rest of the oil after it has processed a bit, and then adjust flavor as desired by possibly adding more garlic. I added a lot more garlic - I LOVE garlic. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner pesto. Use it all immediately or save it in the refrigerator for a couple weeks. 

Basil is probably my favorite herb, with cilantro coming in at a close second. How could you not love that beautiful shade of green? 

We used the pesto to make beautiful summer garden pasta dish. 

Spiral Garden Pesto Pasta 
Serves 2 
12 oz spiral vegetable pasta
2 Tbsp Olive oil 
1/2 jar Trader Joe's marinated artichokes
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 onion, chopped 
2 Trader Joe's apple chicken sausage, cubed  (optional)
1/2 cup Pesto 
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional) 

Cook and drain the noodles, rinse in cold water and place back into the sauce pan. 
Add the Olive Oil to a frying pan and cook the onions until soft. Then add the artichoke and sausage. 
Then add the contents of the frying pan to the noodles in the sauce pan and pour in the pesto; stir to coat. 
You can heat the pasta if you want to serve it hot or cool for a refreshingly cool summer pasta. I added the tomatoes and cheese on top when I served the pasta because I preferred the tomatoes raw and the cheese is  too tough to clean out of the sauce pan. 

I always know my meal is a success when I see Ross craning his neck to check the stove to see if there is any more. There was, but not for long.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Berries and Fennel

But not together! 

Look what came in our CSA box - farm fresh, organic, juicy, ripe raspberries!!!! The first fruit of the season! (For our CSA box anyway...)

Incredible. I ate them all in less than 3 days. What a good thing for me that Ross doesn't like these! 

We also got bok choy, zucchini and yellow squash, fennel, spring onions, green beans, beets and lettuce. 

I've never had fennel before - but I fully intend to have it many more times. 

I had no idea what to do with it, but I found this recipe that looked wonderful - anything simple with oil and cheese is good by me! 

Roasted Parmesan Fennel 

1 Fennel bulb
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese 
Salt & Pepper 
Parsley or Fennel fronds 

Cut the fronds off the fennel bulb, then slice the bulb in half and then in slices. Place then in a pan, spray or drizzle with olive oil, and add salt & pepper al gusto. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, then add the Parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

I was really struck by how fragrant this vegetable was, and the browned cheese on top complimented it so well - I am excited to make this meal again! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stanley Park & Squamish

We spent this past weekend in Canada for Lauren's 25th Birthday. 

This is my favorite crossing the border landmark. Thinkmetric. 

We were hungry when we got to Stanley Park in Vancouver - so we stopped for some lunch in the park.


The Stanley Park Bar and Grill. 

Lauren and Chris. 

Ross and I split a wild Alaskan salmon burger and fries - it was a perfectly sized meal and the corn relish was delish! 

Love the colors! 

We saw some wildlife at the Lost Lagoon. 

Great Blue Herons 

Trumpeter Swans - they are HUGE! 

Then we played Pitch and Putt Golf! The Birthday Girl is up!

It is a 3-par 18-hole golf course in the park.

It was a lot of fun!!! 

I'm not even going to share what the scores were. Or the fact that we collectively lost about 6 balls, but found some as well - though they were not ours. 

Then we drove up the Sea to Sky Highway to spend the night in Squamish. 

Every turn was breathtaking! Ross commented that at first he thought the BC plates that said "Beautiful British Columbia" were a bit pretentious - but now he doesn't blame them. 

We had dinner at the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company- which we sampled when they were here in Bellingham for April Brews Day. 

Did you know that in Canada a pint is 20oz - not 16oz?!?!?
I was not disappointed with my Rail Ale Nut Brown - it was wonderful! Ross had the Whitecap Wheat. 

 And Lauren had the Devil's Elbow India Pale Ale. It was too dark to take food pictures by the time it came, but the food was great as well! We also really enjoyed the live music. 

Finding a campsite was darn near impossible - the only place in town was the Dryden Creek Resorts who had 4 RV spots left. We didn't know the area, and at this point it was midnight, so we just pitched our tents on an RV site and figured we'd just have to pay the higher price. Oh boy we were wrong - it was free! 

When we walked into the office the next morning it went something like this: 
Me: "Good morning."
Office Lady in a presumptuous voice: "You the people in 4?" 
Me. "Yes." 
Office Lady in a really not nice voice: "You can't read? Didn't you read that we were full?"
Me: "Well, there were 4 open spots and it was midnight when got here. We checked all the other campgrounds and they were full." 
Office Lady yelling: "That's an RV spot. What if I had an RV show up? What then? The campground was full."
Me, scared and crying: "We don't know the area - we didn't have anywhere else to go. There are still 3 RV spots this morning. Why are you yelling?"
Office Lady yelling even louder: "I'm not yelling! Just get out of here. I don't want your money!"
Ross: "You sure you don't want anything for it?" 
Office Lady: "No - get out of here. Go!" 

So we left and although I feel just a little pathetic for crying (she was scary - I'm telling you!) I don't feel one bit bad about leaving for free. She was so RUDE. Don't ever stay there! 

At any rate... we made our way to the climbing area of Squamish in the SUN! It was nearly 80 degrees - wahoo summer! 

We had a lot of fun climbing - with ropes! Not scary! 

Ross throwing a rope. 

This is me climbing Burgers and Fries - apparently the most popular climb in Canada. Also, I'm sorry that this is the second shot of my butt in this post. Well, maybe not. I think it is a nice butt. 

Lauren getting ready to climb the Ferret's Folly. 

I had to give Lauren a boost on a lead - I tried this route after and boy was it tough! 

Ross is working up the Earth Trek crack. 

Group shot! 

The drive home was absolutely gorgeous - and we didn't even have a border wait time! It was unbelievable! 

Also - we've apparently only had about 78 minutes of summer here in the PNW. Sorry for those of you who are roasting - but send your sun and heat this way!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Wild Wildery Wilderness

My reflections and pictures after a week in the North Cascades and a discussion of the Wilderness Act. 

The Wild Wildery Wilderness

Wilderness, Wildness, Wildery, Wild,
It opens my eyes with the wonder of a child
Uncontrolled, Untrammeled, Untamed, Imprecise
What wonders unfold when left to its own device.

Naturalness, Naturalist, Natural, Nature,
Ferns, mosses, cedar and Doug fir
Glaciers, peaks, rivers and sea
Creatures, flowers, and then there’s me.  

Silently, Silence, Sound, Song
The community of creation sung all along
But did we hear rushing rivers or the Swainson’s Thrush?
Did we listen to the creaking snag? – don’t rush!

Solitude, Solitaire, Sole, Soul
Wandering alone connects me to the whole
In the city I am many, out here I am one
Though I coexist with all beings under the sun. 

Spirituality, Spiritual, Spirit, Aspire
The mountain peaks lift my heart ever higher
To the sky and to the heavens I envision my fate
Though I savor this beauty as I live and I wait.

Rejuvenation, Rejuvenate, Refine, Renew, 
Such richness in a place that we humans construe
Yet nourished, restored and free I am
And brought back to God like a long lost lamb.

Untrammeled, Untouched, Unwelcome, Unseen
Wilderness is a place of in-between  
We venture to visit, explore and discover
Still I must leave, and return to my lover.

Restrictions, Restrict, Restraint, Restrain,
Both a law and a choice for conserving wild terrain
With action and inaction, the latter more trying
Save living, nothing is more natural than dying.

Gratitude, Gracious, Gracefully, Grace, 
Thank you for allowing me to touch this place
Come again I will, for green-eyed I must confess 
I revere the Wild, Wildery, Wilderness. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Butterscotch Puddin' Pie

The other day Ross had a hankering for Butterscotch. It is one of his most favorite flavors, and we both love Butterscotch Schnapps

He asked my if I could pick up butterscotch chips at the store, and I figured why not? 

The only problem is that... they don't make any natural butterscotch chips! They all had trans-fats and food dyes and questionable ingredients! I went to at least 3 different stores searching for these non-existent natural butterscotch chips. They don't even sell any online!  

Then a couple weeks later while we were at the Co-op together Ross spotted this. Organic, non-GMO, and no questionable ingredients: Organic cane sugar, organic corn starch, natural flavor, organic caramel color, salt.

So we decided to make a Butterscotch Puddin' Pie. 

I made the graham cracker crust first:

1 1/2 cups organic graham crackers, crushed to a powder
1/3 cup non-gmo canola oil 
1/4 cup unrefined organic sugar 

Process the graham crackers to a powder in a food processor or crush in a plastic bag. Mix with sugar, then add in the oil. Mix until it is uniform, then evenly spread out the crust in a pie pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375F before filling. 

While it is baking follow the directions on the package to make the butterscotch pudding - the only other ingredient was 2 cups of milk. 

Once the pudding is ready pour it into the pie crust and gently spread it around to even it out. Chill for 4 hours and then enjoy a wonderful treat! 

Easy as pie!