The Weekend, Part Two: Family

July 14, 2008

I am one of the few people I know who actually grew up in Seattle. I can’t legally call myself a “native” because I wasn’t born here and the people who were born here, well, they would try to get me in trouble for calling myself a native. So I’m an almost-native. Aside from a few friends who went to high school with me, everyone else I know is from somewhere else. Seattle is a great place to live and somewhere around the late 80’s or early 90’s, people started to figure that out and move here. I went to college in Connecticut and for my first few years, I got asked the following questions on a regular basis:

  • “Seattle, is that in Oregon?” (This would be pronounced “ore-gone” which, in case you are reading from the East Coast, is not how you say it – it’s “ore-gun”.)
  • “Seattle, doesn’t it snow there a lot?” (No, it doesn’t.)
  • “Seattle, doesn’t it rain there a lot?” (Yes, it does.)
  • “Seattle, do you go to LA a lot?” (This would be like asking someone from Maine if they go to Florida a lot.)
  • “Seattle, isn’t that right by Alaska?” (Well, there is this thing called Canada in the way.)

And so on and so on. However, by my senior year it became, “Seattle, I’m moving there!” And boy did people move here! The city totally changed in the four years I was away at college. Finally people started to appreciate all that our beautiful city had to offer and to understand why so many of us stayed. My parents and one of my brothers live about a half hour away and the other brother is moving back at the end of the month.

Randy’s family is all on the East coast and no, they haven’t asked me any of those ridiculous questions (except for the one about the rain.) His immediate family is spread out between Atlanta, Richmond, and Houston. The extended family is all in Baltimore (with a few strays in Texas.) I love this big family – they are the most welcoming and fun group of people you could hope for when marrying into a family. The Baltimore clan all live within a few miles of each other and they are always gathering to eat, drink, and have a “hootenanny”. Many of them are musical so after a few beers, the guitars come out and everyone who wants one, gets a turn.

The very first time I met this clan was when Randy and I were dating. I play the guitar and sing which gave me an almost immediate stamp of approval. But I was nervous. Imagine meeting your boyfriend’s large family, trying to keep everyone’s names straight, trying desperately to make a good impression, trying not to drink too much wine, oh! and then someone hands you a guitar and expects you to sing. Well, I did it and they were all lovely about it. At every Hootenanny since, Randy’s Uncle Mike gently coerces me into singing one of the 10 songs I remember from my college coffee house days, and I always make myself a mental promise that I will take playing up again when I get home. Sigh.

Uncle Mike and his lovely new wife Kathy were in town for a brief moment this weekend on their way to a cruise to Alaska (see? It’s far enough away that you have to cruise there.) I would have loved to spend the day with them but we had our supper club waiting for us on Bainbridge Island. I thought of just getting some bagels for us to eat and then thought better of it. I decided to make one of my favorite easy and delicious dishes – a Leek Frittata. For some reason, I also thought it was time to make Cinnamon Rolls. This was actually my first attempt at cinnamon rolls and, because I was short on time, I made the quick kind – no yeast. The frosting was good but the rest was just kind of, eh. I wouldn’t make them again. The leek frittata on the other hand, is something I have made countless times. I’ve literally made it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and everyone always likes it. It is a great thing to serve for company because it can be made ahead of time, it’s quick, and it looks pretty. And it tastes great too!

And just because we didn’t have enough going on this weekend, my family came over for dinner on Sunday night. My brother Alex is married to a great woman named Amy and they have two adorable kids. Each of their kids are one year older than each of ours – so they are so cute together and play really nicely. Even though they live close, we don’t see enough of them, so we decided to really make an effort to get together every other week.

I decided to grill salmon for dinner – or have Randy grill salmon. Amy, my mom, and I are all vegetarians, but the men are all carnivores. Randy is fond of saying that he never really ate much meat until he married me – his vegetarian wife. Whenever we would go out for dinner as a family, he would order fish and my dad and brothers would order steak or lamb or pork. Eventually, he wondered why he wasn’t doing that too and now he fully embraces his inner carnivore.

Grilling salmon made it a little easier on me since all I had to do was make side dishes. I made a Farro Salad that I really like with broccoli rabe and grapes.

I also made a new one for me – Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese.
This one was a real keeper because it starred one of very favorite things – English peas. They are still in abundance at the markets and sweeter than ever. I must have eaten half the bag on the way home. And look at those radishes! Purple! I also used pea shoots in this salad which is what the leafy things are. These are part of the vine that English peas grow on and they taste just like peas but with a totally different texture. You can also find those all over the farmer’s markets. Two recipes today since I promised Kathy the Frittata one!

Leek Frittata
Adapted from
Main Course Vegetarian Pleasures
Serves 4

If you are new to this site or new to leeks, I give some info about them here.

3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried

6 eggs
1/4 cup low fat milk

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with non-stick spray.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs in large bowl. Beat in the milk, cheese and then a pinch each of salt and pepper, then stir in the leeks. Pour the mixture into the pie plate.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or just until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overcook.

Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese
Food and Wine
4-6 Servings

I am mostly printing the recipe in it’s original form although I made a couple of changes. In the dressing I used ground cumin instead of toasting and grinding cumin seeds. I also used mint instead of dill and I loved how subtle the flavor was. I love dill as much as the next person, and it is great with peas, but so is mint so feel free to use either. The recipe says you can use frozen peas but really, for this one, I wouldn’t bother making it with frozen. After cooking my peas, I put them in an ice bath (which is just a bowl of water with a bunch of ice cubes.) They kept their brilliant green color and didn’t get all wrinkley so I would recommend taking that step.

2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 tsp. honey

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp. chopped dill

4 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 4 pounds English peas)

1 bunch radishes, trimmed, halved, thinly sliced

1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 oz.)

3 cups pea tendrils, coarsely chopped (optional)

Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast until aromatic and slightly darker, about 2 minutes. Cool, grind finely in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Whisk lime juice, honey, and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil, stir in dill. Season dressing with salt and pepper. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Cook peas in pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water, then drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Add radishes, feta, and dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. If using pea tendrils, sprinkle over top.

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