As a gardener I am constantly reminded that life can often be mysterious but it always comes full circle! Now that the leaves are falling here in Seattle and the winds are howling around the neighborhood, it’s always fun to do a Garden Year in Review!
Throughout the gardening season, which starts in January for me, I take photos and try to document what I did and when I did it! This proves helpful on many levels as it acts as a prompt for the next year. While perusing my photos this morning, I was reminded how this was a particularly busy (and beautiful!) year for us in the garden!
This year we added a flock of hens, a custom chicken coop, raised beds, an herb garden, multiple miniature David Austin roses, scented geraniums from Christianson’s Nursery, and an array of trellises to grow beans. I also kept my 200 square foot community garden plot and the food bank bed going at the Haller Lake P Patch near my home.
In review, the rewards were huge both in terms of produce, herbs, and flowers harvested as well as in the personal rewards of starting many things from seed and seeing them come to maturity, both in the garden and on the dinner table!
For me, gardening isn’t a chore, it’s a creative outlet that lets me experiment and dabble, hoping it all comes to some form of fruition! Some things did great. My herb garden is booming. I harvested a ton of tomatoes, cabbage, chards, kales, and lettuces.
That said, our pole beans were more challenging and I had to replant one plot three times as some evasive and annoying critter was devouring the tendrils before they could get a grasp on life. I never solved that problem in that corner of the yard, gave up on the bean plot right there and decided to plant something else. In the end the pole beans planted elsewhere in the yard did ok so that one corner of my garden world remains a mystery!
I could certainly say a lot more about all this but for now, here’s a photo tour from my Kitchen Garden 2021!
My Raspberry Shortcake berry plants, both at home and at my P Patch, are in full production mode right now. The berries are red, plump, and juicy. Perfect little seasonal moments in time really.
So, this week I decided to pick a pint and make Raspberry Vinegar. I often make Tarragon Vinegar during the summer months as it makes a flavorful addition to homemade vinaigrettes. That said, I have never tried it with my fresh berries but this year I decided to give it a try. Using a basic Raspberry Vinegar recipe from Taste of Home as a springboard, I crafted my own version, reducing the sugar and adding fresh tarragon as a flavorful counterpoint.
The results? After straining the steeped vinegar, the finished product is a brilliant red with an aromatic raspberry flavor and a distinct tarragon note. In the kitchen, I used it in a simple Raspberry Shallot Vinaigrette destined for homegrown lettuces or perhaps even a grilled zucchini salad.
A simple seasonal vinegar made from fresh raspberries and tarragon
Ball Mason Jar
Vinegar Style jar
1pintraspberriesrinsed and drained
3cupsdistilled vinegar (I used Heinz)
Put the raspberries and the tarragon sprigs in a heat proof one quart glass Mason Jar and set aside.
In a large saucepan combine the vinegar and sugar and bring just to a low boil. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the berries and tarragon sprigs. Let the vinegar cool slightly and then cover with the lid. Let the vinegar stand at room temperature for about two days. (The vinegar will take on a lovely red hue as it sits!)
After about two days, strain the vinegar through a sieve and into a funnel which feeds into a sterilized jar, preferably a vinegar style storage jar. Discard the raspberries and tarragon sprigs left in the sieve. Cap the raspberry vinegar and store in a cool dark place.
Peonies. Prince William Sound Salmon. Cruise Ships. Tourists. Sunshine. Sea Breezes.
The Pike Place Market I visited today is much different than the one I visited last January. Of course, TECHNICALLY and structurally it’s the same as it was back in January but this morning. the market wasn’t tenuously navigating Seattle’s unpredictable January weather.
Today, the market was strutting her seasonal stuff and loving it! Once again, I had to be downtown very early so after I “checked the box” on an errand well before 7:30 AM, I decided to stroll down the hill and head to the market. It was bright and sunny, and I figured it would be a great time to beat the crowds and see what’s coming in locally.
Alas, when I arrived I again found quiet streets and walkways. My first destination? The flower vendors who were clipping and arranging thousands of local peonies. One of my favorite flowers, the incredible array made me swoon. As much as I love to garden and have success with many things, my attempts to grow peonies have failed repeatedly. These bodacious pink orbs, frankly, made me green with envy! I didn’t buy any simply because I didn’t want to cart them all over. That being said, they were a bargain and the prices ranged from $10 a bunch to $20. Local. Seasonal. Gorgeous beyond compare.
Next stop? The fish stalls. All the guys were sporting their waterproof orange pants, spraying the walkways, scooping crushed ice onto displays and answering questions from early birds like me. At Pike Place Fish Market they didn’t have any Copper River King or Sockeye because it’s been a rough season up there this far. They did have a massive 25 pound Prince William Sound king in a huge bin filled with ice. The adjacent tabletop display of Prince William Sound sockeye nearby also impressed.
After that, I was ready for a breather so I traipsed over to the nearby park to do a little people watching and eyeball the massive cruise ship docked nearby. As I examined that Norwegian behemoth from afar, I knew the crowds from within would be emerging and heading towards the market so I beelined to breakfast at nearby Seatown, one of Tom Douglas’s restaurants. The Fried Egg sandwich with avocado, Bavarian Meats bacon and a side of crispy hash browns was just what I needed before trekking back UP the hill to catch my bus.
While schlepping up to Third, I realized that the Market is indeed a living entity that shifts with each Seattle season.
Mobile breakfasts are a challenge at my house. It simply isn’t easy to get out the door and power everyone up with a nutritious high protein start to the day. Trust me. I’ve struggled with this one for two decades.
As the proud owner of two Instant Pots (3 quart mini and 6 quart duo), I recently joined the Instant Pot Facebook community online and have noticed countless folks going gaga over their versions of the Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites. Prior to reading these glowing posts, I had never had one of these bitty bites but on Saturday I decided to see for myself.
While at Starbucks, I ordered a round of the Bacon Gruyere bites. Priced at $5 plus 10% tax, they rang up a $5.50 and I was handed two very small egg disks that arrived warm and savory. The texture was intriguing. It was light and fluffy, kind of like a cross between a soufflé and a quiche. The nutrition facts per serving indicated 19 grams of protein.
Overall, I found the egg bites to be very good but personally, I wouldn’t rely on them myself. Without a doubt, they would get pricey ($30 bucks per work week) and frankly, I hate going to Starbucks and standing in line because that’s a huge time suck. So later that day, I did some googling and found numerous variations on how to make them.
This version from Foodie and Wine was the one I printed off and used as a basic guideline in terms of ingredient proportions and cooking times. Her recipe called for heavy cream, cottage cheese, hot sauce, and a significantly higher quantity of shredded cheese, so I tweaked the basic ingredients and improvised on a tool. For cooking the egg bites in the Instant Pot, I used my vintage Wedgwood ramekins instead of the silicone molds or small canning jars that everyone seems to use. I reasoned that my four-ounce ramekins would work just fine and they did.
Basically, I took four large eggs, about 1 loosely packed cup of shredded cheese, ¼ cup of milk, about two tablespoons of sour cream and a pinch of salt and whizzed that in my Vitamix. I then put one cup of water in my 6-quart Instant Pot, added the cooking rack and set the ramekins, which had been sprayed with oil and sprinkled with bacon bits, on the rack. I divided the egg mixture evenly between each ramekin. I sprinkled the tops with a little dehydrated onion and chive and covered with foil.
I set the Instant Pot to STEAM for 8 minutes. At the end of eight minutes, I let the pressure release naturally and after about seven minutes the button popped down and my egg bites were ready. When I removed the lid, the foil had crept up and when I removed the foil I found big puffy egg bites that within a minute or two deflated but remained very hot and steamy. I removed them with tongs and turned out the egg bites which were gorgeous and velvety…just like the ones I tried at Starbucks. They were great on toast, out of hand on the go, or set on a bed of arugula.
Aside from being high in protein and easy to make, the best part is that the eggs bites can be kept refrigerated for five days and reheated each morning. The reheated eggs still taste fresh and they don’t have any of that nasty overcooked egg taste either. They’d be great bagged up and tucked into a purse to be reheated at the office or they’d make a great breakfast for a teenager dashing out the door hoping to beat the clock.
So, all in all, my sous vide egg adventure was a success and it’s something I will make again and again. Here’s my version:
Missy’s Easy Instant Pot Egg Bites
Cooking spray for preparing the ramekins
4 teaspoons Costco bacon bits, or to taste
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup 2% milk
2 to 3 tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried red onion or chives if desired
1 cup water
four ¼ cup heatproof ramekins
6 Quart Instant Pot Duo
Instant Pot Rack
Aluminum foil for covering ramekins
Prepare the ramekins: Spray the ramekins thoroughly with the cooking spray. Divide the bacon bits evenly between the ramekins.
In a blender blend the eggs, Cheddar cheese, milk, sour cream, and salt for about thirty seconds.
Divide the egg mixture evenly amongst the four ramekins.
Divide the onion or chives evenly over the tops of each ramekin
Set the cooking rack into the instant pot and pour the one cup of water into the pot.
Set the ramekins carefully on the racks and cover lightly with a piece of foil.
Put the lid on the Instant pot and set the valve to SEAL
Set the Instant Pot to STEAM and adjust the cooking time to 8 minutes.
At the end of eight minutes, the Instant Pot will beep. Allow an NPR, Natural Pressure Release, which means you are just letting the pot pressure come down slowly on its own. This should take about seven minutes. Once the valve has gone down, remove the lid and the foil.
Using tongs, transfer each ramekin to a cutting board and let rest for a minute or so. The egg bites will be puffy at first and then deflate a bit. Unmold and serve or let cool and store in fridge, reheating for about 30 seconds when desired.
Tartar Sauce. It’s a classic accompaniment to fish. It’s great on a fish sandwich or with a piece of fried halibut or cod or baked salmon.
That being said, it isn’t a great accompaniment to the waistline. My favorite brand, Marina Tartar sauce, packs a walloping 180 calories and 20 grams of fat in two tablespoons. Two tablespoons? Let’s face it. Who really sticks to serving sizes? So, I bet it’s safe to say the calorie count on a tartar sauce accompaniment to a fish sandwich can run far higher than 180.
Tackling this juggernaut has been on my recipe bucket list for some time but it was only recently that I nailed a real solution. I bought an Instant Pot back in August and have been making some really gorgeous yogurt in it every week. (I use the recipe from This Old Gal.) I generally have two quarts of homemade yogurt on hand each week and as a result, I have been finding all sorts of amazing ways to add this creamy protein-packed ingredient into my everyday meals.
That’s where my low-fat tartar sauce comes in. On Saturday, I had a piece of defrosted Alaska halibut in the fridge and some white hamburger buns on the counter. Both needed to be used up and I was in recipe development mode. So, I decided to make a halibut sandwich and that’s when the idea for yogurt tartar sauce was born
Admittedly, I was a bit doubtful. I tossed the idea out to my husband. He was really doubtful. Nonetheless, I went at it, substituting my yogurt for the mayonnaise and adding Western Family dill relish, some diced Walla Walla onion, the juice of half a lemon and some salt. A quick stir resulted in a luscious tartar with all the flavor of the classic and far less fat. Dolloped on a piece of cooked panko coated halibut it was a revelation.
The recipe that follows is ridiculously simple. If you don’t have homemade yogurt, storebought is fine. If you use Greek yogurt, you might need to thin it with a bit of milk to get that dollopy texture. Thin it a bit in the beginning, then add your relish, onion, and lemon juice, and if the texture needs adjusting, add a bit more milk or lemon if desired
1/2 cup homemade plain yogurt, or store-bought plain Greek yogurt
2 to 3 teaspoons prepared dill relish, I used Western Family
1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped sweet onion
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
In a small bowl, whisk or stir the yogurt to loosen and smooth out. Add the relish, the chopped onion, the lemon and salt to taste. Stir to combine and if using Greek yogurt, add a little milk or more lemon juice to adjust the texture. Make 1/2 cup.
I created this halibut salad this weekend after we had some friends over for dinner. My husband had cooked about three huge pieces of halibut from our June trip to Alaska and we had about a pound of cooked halibut leftover. While cleaning up on Saturday, I put it in the fridge. On Sunday I decided to do something with it to avoid waste.
My taste buds steered me towards a lemony Scandinavian flavor profile that day…I had attended the Nordic Culinary Conference here in Seattle back in May and I think it was those thrifty creative chefs—Claus Meyer, Sasu Laukonnen, and Titti Qvanstrom— who inspired my path that afternoon. At the conference, the chefs discussed how they avoid waste, use local ingredients, and employ simple techniques to ramp up inherent flavors and achieve impressive dishes.
So…while staring at a Pyrex dish full of flaky white fish, I challenged myself to make a fresh and appealing salad with the leftover. Rather than just mix it up with some mayo which is the traditional route to go for those who do employ leftover fish in their kitchens…I decided to ramp up the flavors.
Leftover fish can be a tough sell. I wanted a “refresh”.
So, I looked in the fridge and the garden and pulled my Cuisinart forth on the counter. My food processor is crucial for challenges like this. It speeds the process and makes fish tidier to work with. From the garden, I gathered a handful of dill, and a rummage through the fridge yielded some decent celery and a big voluptuous lemon. With that, I had a game plan!
The key to my Halibut Refresh? I added lemon juice BUT I added it at a critical point.
I didn’t want to dilute that burst of sunshine. I wanted to make sure it played a key role so I sprinkled the juice directly on the halibut and processed the halibut, celery and lemon BEFORE I added the mayonnaise. I am convinced that this simple sequence in steps made an enormous difference in my end result because the lemon got mixed into the fish and the fish absorbed it, becoming light, sunny, and citrusy in the process. I then added the dill and the mayonnaise.
Here’s the recipe. A ridiculously appealing Alaska Halibut salad with definite Scandinavian tilt. I enjoyed it on piece of Larsen’s Bakery Light Finnish Rye. A match made in heaven.
Lemon and Dill Halibut Salad
3 celery stalks, cut into big chunks
8 to 10 ounces cooked halibut (poached, grilled or baked is fine), broken up into chunks
1 large lemon, rolled on the counter and then juiced*
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh dill
2 to 3 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, or to taste
Salt to taste
For serving: slices of lightly toasted rye bread and fresh Bibb lettuce leaves
For garnish: citrus zest, thinly sliced red onion, extra dill
Put the metal blade in the food processor, add the celery chunks and process the celery with three or four pulses to chop it. Put the halibut in the food processor, drizzle the lemon juice directly over the cooked halibut. Pulse once or twice to mix and incorporate the lemon juice. Add the fresh dill and the mayonnaise and pulse three or four times just to mix. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.
To create an open faced sandwich: Serve the salad on lightly toasted rye with a piece of lettuce and garnished with zest, extra dill, and thinly sliced onion if desired.
*Lemon Tip: To extract the most juice from a lemon, roll it on a counter before you juice it. You can also prick a couple holes the lemon, zap it in the microwave for twenty seconds, roll it on the counter and then juice it. These little techniques go a long way towards extracting all that sunshine from a lemon!
We’ve all heard about Zoodles…spiralized zucchini that often takes the place of pasta in savory dishes.
Well, I’ve come up with Doodles! Spiralized Daikon radish that works equally as well in hot and cold dishes.
Until yesterday, I had never bothered with Daikon radish, a huge mild white winter radish from Asia. A cruciferous vegetable high in fiber and low in calories, this vegetable is indeed an underappreciated powerhouse. When I was at the upscale Asian market in my neighborhood this weekend, I noticed boxes and boxes of these radishes around the produce department. Clearly a seasonal loss leader, they were priced at 49 cents a pound so I decided to buy one. At the time, I didn’t know what I’d do with it but I figured something would strike my fancy.
At home, I was going to originally prep the ingredients for my Asian Chicken Salad but the weather was awful over the weekend and the chill permeated so I ditched the salad idea and decided to craft a warm and soothing Asian soup. That’s when I had my AHA moment. The Daikon was on my counter and it occurred to me that the elongated vegetable would be perfect spiralized!
So, I readied my KitchenAid Spiralizer with the fine spiralizer attachment, cut the daikon into five inch chunks, and attached it to the spiralizer. It spiraled perfectly and the “Doodles” worked great in an Asian pho with shredded Napa cabbage, cilantro, Thai basil and scallions. I simmered them in a homemade Asian-style chicken broth over moderately high heat for about three or four minutes. After that, they softened a bit but retained some crunch. A very satisfying low carb and low calorie way to get a hefty hit of vegetables on a cold rainy Seattle day.
I didn’t use them all in one go yesterday so I stashed the leftover Doodles in the fridge and they stored perfectly—no browning or discoloring and they remained crispy and crunchy overnight.
So, if you find Daikon on sale and you happen to have a spiralizer in your kitchen, give Doodles a go!
My husband and sons love to fish in the Puget Sound throughout the summer. As a result, we enjoy locally caught salmon-King, Coho, and Pink-year round.
We freeze lots of it using our Food Saver but we also cart quite a bit of it to Jensen’s Old-Fashioned Smokehouse here in Seattle where it is cold and hot smoked, vacuum packed and flash frozen to our specifications. We have a fair amount of that smoked salmon in the freezer, and I’ve decided it’s time to start cranking through it. Afterall, summer IS just around the corner!
Just before New Year’s Day, I decided to redesign my favorite smoked salmon recipe, one that I clipped from a magazine years ago. Basically, that one is a traditional cream cheese based rendition. Over the years, I adapted the technique so I could make it in the food processor. I also tweaked the basic ingredients according to whim.
For 2014, I decided to do a complete overhaul by removing the cream cheese and replacing it with Fage Nonfat Greek yogurt. After numerous attempts and adjustments, I’ve finally landed on a slimmer smoked salmon dip that can be made quickly and easily in the food processor and weighs in with a minimum of belly busting fat. For my Slimmer Smoked Salmon Dip, I also added red onion, fresh dill, and capers…most of the basic components found in myBristol Bay Sockeye Platter recipe.
The recipe was “family tested,” which means it was served in the midst of kitchen chaos with spouse and kids at hand. Everyone gave it their seal of approval and said it was better than the original. Reviews included commentary on the freshness, the lightness, the flavor factor and the ease of use. It was served on crackers, dolloped onto sliced fresh tomatoes, and swiped into celery sticks. It could easily just be served with crudité or used with whole grain bread and lettuce to make a quick healthy sandwich rich in Omega Three fatty acids.
It’s worth noting that when I entered my new recipe into the Weight Watchers recipe tracker online, it revealed that a 1/4 cup serving totaled only 1 point in their Points Tracker. So, indeed, it’s a lighter leaner version.
Put onion, capers, and dill in a food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse 10 times to chop and combine. Crumble salmon and add to food processor. Add yogurt, lemon juice, and horseradish. Process for 30 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary to combine.