year's first grill

grilling in the rain

The weather has been abysmal here for the last couple of weeks, not that this is unusual for Western Washington in springtime. There have been a few sunbreaks, where it actually gets brilliant and warm and you can feel the grass growing under your feet…but then it clouds over, plummets back down to 48° and starts raining again. Despite this, we decided we just couldn’t wait any longer to get started on grilling season (it’s spring, dammit!) so last week Jon went out in raincoat, hat and gloves and cleaned the rust off the grill.

grilling in the rain

I had gotten a pack of lamb chops out of the freezer several days before, and started tabouli that morning, so we were committed to this particular dinner. We could have pan-seared the chops, but it wouldn’t have been the same – lamb is really at its best when grilled. I also picked up a bunch of not-very-local asparagus and I sorely wanted them grilled instead of roasted. We had hoped the rain would ease off, but nope! Fortunately our grill is under the deck, so although it’s drippy under there it’s not torrential. And both the chops and the asparagus cooked quickly. It was not a lovely evening for sitting in the garden, but the food all had that wonderful smoky edge to it. We brought it all inside, opened some wine, closed our eyes and pretended it was summer.

rain on the grill

refilling the well

leftover pizza

I seem to have hit another one of those dry spells. I’ve taken nearly 3000 photos since the beginning of the year, but most of them were for my studio class, and I just never seem to have the energy to pull out the camera yet again at mealtime. Also, it’s felt like we’re in sort of a holding pattern of late-winter meals, waiting for the first spring vegetables and some decent grilling weather. It’s hard to think of what to write when we’re just cooking the same sorts of things over and over and over. I mean, I love roast chicken and root vegetables, but you probably don’t need to hear about it every week.

Jack Snipenew rhubarb

But the sun is beginning to make appearances, the rhubarb is charging out of the ground, and the air smells sweet with violets and narcissus. I planted peas today and picked some fresh herbs for tonight’s pork steaks, and it feels like there might be new things happening. What’s everyone else cooking this week?

spring feeling

flower girlSpring Feeling cocktail

Spring has officially sprung! We’ve had some frost on the ground this past week (a rarity this winter), but the days have been mostly sunny and the breezes blow eddies of cherry petals around the streets. Daffodils are in full bloom and the tulips are already beginning to blaze away in pots, borders and farm fields. My garden is beginning to come to life, which makes my fingers itch to get out and weed and plant and take pictures.

bleeding hearts

just opened


Continue reading

cooking class: spring food & wine pairing

calendula, chive and fennel

It’s a great thing to find a chef (or a wine seller) whose taste so perfectly matches your own that you know you’re going to like anything they give you. Classes with Casey Schanen of Nell Thorn restaurant and Tom Saunderson of Young’s Columbia are like that: Casey is a wonderful, very grounded cook and I tend to adore everything he makes, and Tom’s wine selections are always both tasty and interesting, and the pairings are consistently excellent (right, Tom?)


Last week the theme, insofar as there was one, was food for spring and summer, featuring freshly made pastas. As usual, Casey brought some starting nibbles with him: fresh crusty bread and arbequina olives that were marinated with herbs and oranges. Continue reading

spring break!

spring in the back yard

We are off to the Big Island of Hawaii today, to experience the delights of hot lava, sulfur gas and plate lunch! The garden and this blog will have to get by without me for the next week. As you can see, the garden’s doing pretty well on its own anyway (ignore the weeds), and I’ll have at least one post lined up so the place won’t be completely deserted. I won’t be around to respond to comments, though, unless I stumble across a computer along the way.

But with any luck, I’ll have some great material when I get back!