Archive for March, 2012

Another (Very Brief) Hello

March 27, 2012

Thanks to a media savvy reader (thank you Cynthia!) , I was able to email some photos to my Flickr account.  They took about 8 hours apiece to leave my outbox, so there aren’t many at this point.  But a few photos are better than none.  Know that there are almost 1,000 that need to be looked at, organized, and the best will appear on this blog.  It just may take me a bit.

Randy and I are sitting in the Capetown airport waiting for our flight to London.  We will have a 9 hour layover and then finally the flight home to Seattle.  We left the game park yesterday around 11am so when all is said and done, it will take us over 3 days to get home.  The trip has been amazing, more than I can truly process at this point.  We saw and did so much.  We had so much quality time together.  We met some great people.  I read and read and read and read.  Such a luxury.  But now, still 10,000 miles away from home, I am missing my boys so much my heart hurts.  I know they have been well cared for, that their lives continued to follow routine while our lives were drastically different.  What an incredibly lucky woman I am for all that I have, all the love in my life, and all that I can look forward to back home.

A Brief Hello

March 22, 2012

First, an apology for no photos. As it turns out, the iPad version 1 is not compatible with Flickr. I could potentially upload photos to another site and somehow get them up on the blog, but that would take a lot of time and brain power – the former I have lots of and the latter I have very little of. So, I promise, there will be multiple posts with more information about this amazing trip and photos that will, hopefully, give a glimmer into what traveling to this corner of Africa is like. (I can’t promise though – I have learned how to use my camera inside taking close up portraits of food but out in the open and trying to photograph cheetahs has been a learning process.)

We are about halfway through the safari portion of our trip. There have been many surprises for us. The first being that we are not in Kruger National Park after all, but a private game reserve called Zulu Nyala, about 200 kilometers south of Kruger. It is hard for me to believe that we traveled so long and so far and essentially had no idea where we were going. Fortunately, the people who were supposed to pick us up arrived on schedule and here we are. I had imagined the three hour drive to the park being in an open-air jeep on dirt roads through the savannah, but in fact we were in a van on a modern highway through incredibly lush, green, rolling hills. Randy thought we would drive through rain forest, so we were both wrong.

At the park, there are two game drives per day, one starting at 6am and one starting at 4pm and on three of them we have seen wildebeests, warthogs, zebras, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, giraffes, rhinos, buffalo, and lots of impala. Also a few spiders that were terrifyingly large with webs the size of small cars. We are still on the lookout for crocodiles and a leopard that roams between this park and the one next to us. This is a Big 4 game park and there are no lions, but we plan an afternoon trip to the park next door to hopefully catch them.

As most people who have seen animals in the wild will tell you, there is no substitute for this experience. Even though this is “game park lite”, meaning that the animals are protected here and we see the same ones over and over, it is still them living in their natural habitat and getting very close to them with a guide who knows a lot about them and their habits. We were lucky enough to see three elephants, a teenager, her mother and her aunt, full on swimming in the watering hole. Not just getting wet on the shore but completely in the water. They were blowing water on each other, tackling each other, huge beings surprisingly graceful and lovely in the water. It was very moving. As they moved to get out, the calf put her trunk on her mother’s back, just as if a child was asking to hold the hand of its mother. I had just read a bit about elephants and how intelligent, social, and family oriented they are, so it was especially amazing to witness this display.

Anyway, more once I am back home and have a few hours (or days) to sort through our images. We are feeling very far away, very thankful to our loved ones who are keeping our children safe and happy, and just a bit homesick.

Dishes from Marches Past

March 20, 2012

It might be that, at the moment you are reading this post, I am staring down the mouth of a lion.  Or maybe I am sleeping.  Or, perhaps having a cocktail.  Regardless, I am not sitting in the rain in Seattle.  I am (hopefully) enjoying the splendors of South Africa.  I have made some yummy things in March over the years and I hate to think of those dishes languishing without any one looking at them, so I’m including my favorites here.


If you want to impress, really impress, you should make this Peanut Brittle and Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Pie.  It weighs over five pounds.


Ina Garten’s Garlic Ciabatta Bread and her Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad together in one post!


Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Salad is one of the first great salads I ever made.


Pizza Bianca and the beginning of my Jim Lahey (he of no-knead bread) obsession.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies – the kind that you used to get at Mrs.Field’s – except about a million times better.

Sometimes you just need a lot of fresh tasting pasta to make the day better.  Jamie Oliver is a really good helper on those days.

In my mind, there is very little that Yotham Ottolenghi does that is not amazing and delicious.  In this dish, he takes two kind of polarizing ingredients, tofu and brussels sprouts, and brings them together in the most delicious way imaginable.

Another dish from Plenty.  So nice when you want a salad that’s a bit different but still light and clean.  Broccoli and Sweet Sesame Salad.


My Never-Ending Love of a Good Salad

March 16, 2012

When Gail Simmons, she of Top Chef and Top Chef Desserts fame, was at Book Larder last week, someone in the crowd asked where she likes to eat in New York.  It was at just that moment that she asked me to take a bowl of egg whites into the back room with the hand mixer for a good whipping.  (This was something we had worked out that I would do ahead of time, she was not being bossy.)  I heard her say “ABC Kitchen” and then did not hear the other suggestions because the door was closed and I had an earful of mixer.

Later, after most of the people had left and she was signing our books, I told her that I would be in New York for a quick stop before my college reunion, that I am a vegetarian, and asked her where I should eat.  She again said ABC Kitchen.  So the moment I got home, I checked out the web site and put an email out to a college friend asking if she wanted to check it out.

As it turns out, we will most likely go somewhere else but looking at the ABC Kitchen menu online, my eyes got stuck on a number of dishes.  The “entrée” section is all meat but almost all of the pizzas are vegetarian as are a few of the pastas.  (Please tell me I am not the only one who enjoys looking at restaurant menus.)  And then this:  roast carrot and avocado salad, crunchy seeds, sour cream, and citrus.  I had to make that.

I think my love for salad has been well documented on this site.  I could happily make it my life’s mission to introduce people to really good salad.  No boring overdressed greens here.  No iceberg lettuce and bottled dressing.  And really, my plan was to have no greens at all in this beauty.  But whenever I make salad, especially if it is for friends, I make a lot.  And then I add to it.  I eat a lot of salad and I want to be sure there is enough for everyone.  (I have a chronic fear of not cooking enough food.  Yes, I am Jewish.)  I had two friends coming over for dinner and as I was eying the salad bowl, it looked a little skimpy for three so I threw in a handful of spinach.  It was nice with the greens but I think it would have been better without.

So what did I do?  I cut carrots into diagonal coins, drizzled them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them until they were just a  bit brown.  I cut a huge avocado into healthy chunks, suprêmed a grapefruit and two tangerines and saved the juice that I squeezed from the membranes.  I used some of that juice, a dollop of crème fraîche, and touch of salt for the dressing.  I made the seeds from Tara’s site that I have been wanting to make ever since I first ate them sprinkled over rice at Nettletown, and even more so after I heard the incredibly sad news about Christina Choi.  Those seeds, which I am tempted to put on everything, garnished the salad beautifully.

One Year Ago:  Sweet and Salty Popcorn with Orange Blossom Honey, Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam and Broccoli Rabe, and Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes, Arugula and a Poached Egg (also inspired by a menu)
Two Years Ago:  Sautéed Tempeh with Coconut Milk and Peas
Three Years Ago:  Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Ginger Biscotti, Tropical Gazpacho

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Citrus Crème Fraîche Dressing

Dana Treat Original
Serves 3-4

I made this salad again with arugula instead of spinach which I liked better.  Still, I think it would be best with neither.

6 large carrots, peeled, cut into coins on the diagonal
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large avocado, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large pink grapefruit
2 tangerines (or Blood Oranges if you can find them)
1 heaping tbsp. crème fraîche
3 tbsp. Nettletown Seeds (recipe follows)
2 handful greens (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Place the carrots on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Roast in the middle of the oven until the carrots are brown in spots and completely tender, about 15 to 18 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.

Using a small serrated knife (a tomato knife is perfect for this), cut the peel off the grapefruit.  Using the same knife, cut in between the membranes to release the fruit into a bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a separate bowl and reserve.  Cut the peel from the tangerines and then slice them into ½-inch thick slices.  Cut the slices in half and put in the same bowl as the grapefruit pieces.

Place the crème fraîche in a small bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Whisk well to combine.  This will be your dressing.

Cut the avocado into chunks and place in a salad bowl.  Add the citrus and the carrots.  Also add the greens if using.  Pour in the dressing and toss to coat gently.  Garnish with a healthy sprinkling of the seeds.

Nettletown Seeds
Makes about ¾ cup

3 tbs sunflower seeds
3 tbs pumpkin seeds
2 tbs sesame seeds
1 tbs flax seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp salt

Heading to the Southern Hemisphere

March 13, 2012

(Bye bye rain.  Oh, and while I am using parentheses, my new spring classes are up!  Check them out and I really hope to see you!  And another thing, the winner of the Bialetti pan is Jentry!  She loves her Le Creuset Dutch oven.)

Every October, Randy and I go to a most amazing auction for the Boyer Clinic.  It is a cause very near and dear to our hearts.  Graham did preschool and his very first round of speech therapy at Boyer and it was a beacon of light during a very dark and confusing time for us.

Because we had such an amazing experience there, we have continued to support them in multiple ways.  We attend the auction, we donate to the auction, we ask friends to donate to the auction, and Randy is on the board at Boyer.  An event like this auction is something we don’t often experience in Seattle.  People dressed to the nines in a lovely room bidding on amazing items.  Seattle is a city that is casual to a fault, so this auction feels extra fancy.

We have been going for many years and something that is always donated is a safari in South Africa.  In October of 2010, that trip came up in the live auction, and Randy starting raising his paddle.

Now, this was shocking to me.  We had not discussed it beforehand.  Usually we have a little pow wow before the live auction begins where we talk about things we are interested in buying.  We decide on what items and how much we are willing to spend.  It almost always happens that the bidding goes out of our reach very quickly.  But there we were.  Trip to South Africa on the line, Randy raising his paddle, and me asking him, “Are you f***ing crazy?”  Everyone at our table was egging us on, promising to watch our children for us, until whatever imaginary number Randy had in his head came and went and he put his paddle down.  That was when the auctioneer came over to us and asked the magic question, “If we can get you another trip for your top bid price, would you take it?”  And Randy, again without consulting me, nodded his head yes.  I was simultaneously horrified and exhilarated.

And so, we are going to Africa.  Today.  It has been a long time in the planning.  Soon after the auction, we bought our plane tickets and also secured multiple people to help watch the boys while we are gone.  (Yes, we thought about bringing them.  But ultimately decided that they are too young and it is too far for them to appreciate at this time.)  And then we kind of forgot about it.  I would look at the calendar periodically for some far off date and think to myself, “Wow, I am going to be in South Africa in March of 2012.”

And here it is.  We fly out tonight and have a stop in London.  We arrive in Capetown the morning of March 15th.  We spend five days there and then board another plane to take us to Durban.  From there we have a 4 hour car ride to a game park where we will spend the next six days.  Considering we are flying to the country that is as far from Seattle as you can get, and considering we are spending a small fortune for this trip, I know very little about what we are doing.

I know there will be a day trip down to the Cape of Good Hope and another day trip to the wine country near Capetown.  I know, once we get to the safari part of the trip, there will be elephants, lions, and giraffes.  And many other animals.  At least I hope there will be.  I know there will be an optional trip to Victoria Falls.  And that’s about it.  I know I have some new camera equipment and I hope to take a million bazillion good photos, and I hope my kids are all right without us.  I’m feeling a bit (a lot) guilty about leaving them here without us.

So, I have one food post waiting in the wings.  And I hope to be able to eek out another post while we are in Capetown.  I also hope to be able to upload photos to my Flickr account, but we shall see.  It might be that you don’t hear from me again until early April.  In that case, I’m sure I will have some stories to tell.

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