the dinners of February

winter dusk

February has been surprisingly busy. I have a few articles coming out in the March issue of Grow Northwest, and I’m working on two restaurant reviews. I just took down one photography show and am about to put up another. Plus my band is deep into rehearsals for Saint Patrick’s Day (come see us!) But we’ve still been shopping and cooking and eating. And, sometimes, going out because we just don’t want to cook any more.

dinner

One night we decided to try two new recipes at once from our favorite Indian cookbook, the small but mighty Madhur Jaffrey’s Spice Kitchen (seriously, there is nothing bad in this book). The spiced broccoli was very nice, but the star was the chickpeas with tomatoes, ginger and green chiles. Along with a chicken coconut vindaloo and buttermilk chapati, this was a killer dinner.

Valentine's Day tagine Continue reading

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snow days

7th Streetblue sky and holly

What do you do when life dumps 18″ of snow on top of you and everything comes screeching to a halt? You shovel until you can’t move, turn up the house heat, and make cocktails. At least that’s what we did. It worked very well.

snow day

first snow and choucroute garni

snowbell

We got our first snow this weekend, with a vengeance! Saturday was breezy and cold, and a light snow fell all afternoon, but then it really picked up overnight and by Sunday morning we had a good 5 inches on the ground. Too bad I had to go to work on Sunday – fortunately I have a very short commute.

the tree

But at least I had Saturday at home, and it was a good one. We picked up our Christmas tree in the morning from a local tree farm, and I was able to spend the afternoon in the house, making a batch of caramels, decorating the tree, and putting together a choucroute garni for dinner. It simmered away quietly in the oven, perfuming the house with the scent of cabbage and pork, while we fussed about with stockings and ornaments.

choucroute garni Continue reading

snowshoeing and pasta

Ruth Creek

I only had a one-day weekend this week, so we decided to take advantage of it and went snowshoeing. Our usual spot is the access road to Hannegan Pass, below Mount Baker. We like it because it has parking, isn’t usually too populated and, as long as you don’t go up too far, has virtually no avalanche danger. We snowshoed up to Artist Point once and I’m amazed there were no avalanches – we were very lucky that time, and I prefer not to risk it if I don’t have to.

The snowshoe itself was nice enough, although the snow had turned to rain and we quickly overheated in our snow gear. We went just far enough to work up good appetites, then headed back down the valley to Glacier. Lunch at Milano’s, after all, is the real reason we like to go hiking or snowshoeing at Mount Baker.

milano's

If you’ve been skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or hiking, what could be better than an enormous plate of pasta and a bottle of wine? Milano’s takes care of all your carbohydrate needs, from their delicious crumbly cornmeal bread to their homemade linguine and panini to their intimidatingly rich dessert selection. We try to go anytime we’re up the Mount Baker Highway – but we need to earn it with a little physical exertion. Continue reading

Mushroom risotto with kielbasa

wind in the bamboo

Yes, the weather has been nasty around here, windy, cold and wet. It snowed rather convincingly on Sunday morning but then settled back into a glum, clammy grayness. I wanted something warm, easy to eat and comforting for dinner, as you might imagine.

I had a little Arborio rice left, so I made risotto. I was going to do a plain mushroom risotto with a piece of salmon alongside, but wasn’t thrilled with our store’s fish selection (an unusual occurrence). So we went for one of our frequent emergency backups: kielbasa. It’s quick, easy and gives a great savoriness to anything you put it in. We use Hempler’s, a local brand.

slicing kielbasa Continue reading