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I tried this meal kit and it did not change my world view

Laksa Chicken from Amazon's Meal Kit

Happy Friendly Friday, Folks!
It’s Fall, and the start of a new school year for many. What do you do to keep everyone fed and full of healthy energy to get things done?

I explore one option here.

While hosting family this summer, we gave those partially-prepped ready-to-cook meals a try, and started with Amazon’s kits, newly on the market. The lucky couple getting married Washington, Alanna & Alex even played guinea pig, and Kris picked up the slack when I started to feel a little spun around running multiple meal trials at once.* Continue Reading

Friendly Friday:
Instant Pot – Virtually Instant, Really!

Spaghetti and meat made via Instant Pot by Tanya

Recently, I had a chance to visit my fellow Minnesotan friend Tanya, her spouse Justin, and their daughter Mabel in Portland. They graciously had me over for dinner, and I got to see a demo of the Instant Pot. Apparently she was so excited about it she bought a second one when it was on sale on Amazon. My friend Candace in San Francisco had previously bothered messaging me about this device as a sped up way to make radish cakes, so it seemed only right that I listen to the universe’s repeated prodding to investigate this gadget.

Tanya said I could post the video despite her self-consciousness if I did an Instant Pot post, so here we go. Check out super-mobile Mabel! I wish I could take a picture of the smell

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Mountain Monday: Snowshoe On Mount Rainier

Happy Lunar New Year!

Any additional comments on lunar new year from me will be in some other post. I spent all my energy cleaning the house and hosting hot pot Saturday for it, no more juice left for an obligatory entry here for now. Instead, here’s one that started as a video and grew into some commentary below.****

On Sunday, I helped lead a group of people snowshoe up Paradise Point on Mount Rainier. It was for Cynthia‘s birthday, with some snowshoe newbies, so I wanted to optimized the chances of a good experience: Continue reading

Chef Kyle Wisner’s Lunch Break Demo @the Book Larder

One overcast Monday morning, I ventured over to the Book Larder, a community cookbook store on Fremont Ave of Seattle. I’ve ridden past there many a time by bike and by bus, and always meant to go. Finally, I found time and managed to sign up for classes a few days ahead.

Note: if you are scrambling for last minute gifts for people who love to eat, cooking classes may be a good option that ships instantaneously! Be mindful to check if it’s a demo, or hands-on, as that may matter depending on how much your loved one likes to cook (i.e. more hands-on for those who are into working with their hands, more demo for those who are more into eating the final product). Go ahead, click away from this post, I won’t mind.. 🙂

Chef Kyle Wisner did a delicious demo for the group on some straightforward recipes for swift home cooking, perfect for a hectic holiday season. Below are some recipes he shared, editorial commentary is my own.

Pork Roast

Ingredients:

Center-cut pork roast
Enough za’atar spices to cover surface of the roast
kosher salt to preference

Tools: oven, , baking dish, meat thermometer

Steps:

  1. Salt the roast “aggressively”, like any steak or other big cut of meat, rest the roast out to room temperature before roasting. Preheat oven to 400 (or 425F if your oven is weak sauce).
  2. Cover surface in za’atar spice.
  3. Bake roast in oven until it reaches an internal temp of 120F, approximately 18-30 minutes. It will likely still be a little pink in the middle, but the juices will disperse back and finish as you let the roast rest a while before serving.
  4. Optional: bonus points for drawing a depiction of “aggressively salting.”

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Bank Your DIY Holiday Gift Game with..
Beeswax Coconut Candles

One of these days I will finally sort through my reflections from hiking Sahale Arm and seeing a Glacier up close, or adventures in the Catskill Mountains of New York, but in the mean time, this:

The days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting crisper early in the morning. School supply ads reign supreme on live television between sports games. Before you know it, it’ll be Fall, and then Winter, and you might find yourself scrambling to put together a gift for that office party exchange, or family get-together where everyone draws a number from a hat. Well..

Do you have lots of leftover expired coconut oil?

No no, I mean LOTS.

Do you have a weakness for collecting empty containers your spouse/housemate/talking cat keeps suggesting you recycle, but perhaps they are the classy-looking “biscuit” tins you brought back from London last November, and they make you nostalgic for your travels to the the land of tea time, so you keep saying you’ll make candles with them?

Primary inspiration from internet research:
I did some other research on soy wax, and paraffin wax and decided beeswax was my preferred option, as I try to avoid ingesting processed soy for myself and paraffin is a petroleum byproduct, so it strikes me as a little odd to be breathing either in. See citations at bottom of post for more. Mad props to my co-conspirator Jillian who balanced out my OCD-craziness with wingin’ it like a boss, plus ensuring I didn’t burn my house down in the process somehow.
Amass your supplies, pioneer!
Amass your supplies, pioneer!

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Run Away and Nurse Your Broken Heart in the Woods with a Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy Mix

Sometimes, don’t you just want to set the world on fire?
No? Well, maybe at least shake it around a little to tell it to behave itself better? Doesn’t the state of it just break your heart some days?
Let’s go back to setting things on fire. I extra-think plenty on the things that are hugely wrong with the world when I’m in the city, but let’s take 10 here for a fireside break of something to warm your heart (and belly). Not discounting it: my sincerest condolences to the families who have suffered losses by the products of our institutional racism and other issues built up over decades of bias. I’m sorry the rest of the post may land tone-deaf, I have no reasonable segue to such a trivial topic below. :(..
Stay tuned for some scenic photos that will hopefully prove a little calming and restful.

French Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
China Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

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Artichoke Dip – the travel potluck dish

Have you flown thousands of miles for the holidays and unwittingly still found yourself signed up to bring a dish for the family potluck? Have all the gifts been arranged and wrapped by your helpful partner (or recent Past Self) , patiently helping you bear the crush of expectation to somehow visit 50+ people in the span of a few days? Do you still feel that inexplicable competitive urge to “win” the potluck?
Well my friends, I’ve got the recipe for you. Here’s my fallback, which has only 4 critical ingredients, 1 bonus, and the real secret ingredient is finding out when the store near where you’re staying is open on Christmas Eve day, Christmas Day, or whatever other  holiday you are celebrating.

Lots of other people tend to have some of these things lying around their house already, I try not to use too many canned products in my cooking, but I do keep canned artichokes around so I can make this on short notice.

This was originally from my friend Gihani back in 2007 when I live in DC, she got it from her husband who got it from his mom. I’ve refined it only a little, because the base was just so solid.

Ingredients
1 cup mayo (I trying mayo with olive oil today, but hopefully the smoke point of olive oil won’t mess it up)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Parmesan,, shredded
15 oz. can artichokes hearts, drained and chopped. (or marinated artichokes)

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No Knead Artisan Bread with Dried Fruit

I wanted to give my friends a housewarming gift that would not add to the giant pile of things they just had to move into their new home, so I tried my hand at some rustic, thick crusty bread. I doubled the portions but the bread was a tiny bit wetter than I’d like so I didn’t adjust the portions below for the double portion.

WARNING: this is one of those crazy multi-day recipes. The trade-off with no knead is waiting for the air bubbles and yeast to develop. And no, this was not something I did last night, it’s from Sunday. You know, that day you have time to do crazy things like bake bread..

Originally called:
Cranberry Orange Almond Artisan Bread from Simply So Good

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I did a mix of dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots and golden raisins)
1/2 cup chopped almonds (I used toasted almond slices)
Zest from one orange (I used lemon rind, didn’t have an orange on hand)
1 1/2 cups water  (water does not have to be warm)

 

Mix dry ingredients, add water and mix, cover and wait for ever, then bake!

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