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Winter in SoCal.
Up until recently did the weather decide to emulate winter here. It’s finally chilly during the daytime & we no longer crack the windows in the apartment! No longer wearing shorts & a tank top – I am wearing socks, tights & a zipped hooded sweatshirt. You have no idea how much I love this!

The timing is long overdue, since it’s the holiday season. I’m feeling so thankful these days for everything in my life.

This is going to be a really quick post, as I’ve got appointments to catch & work soon after!

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I wanted to post this adorable picture of some Forelle pears that I got from Sprouts yesterafternoon. According to Stemilt Orchards: “Forelle pears are one of the oldest European varieties, and are believed to have originated in the 1600s in northern Saxony, Germany. The name Forelle means “trout” in German, and was likely given to the pear because it has similar coloring as a Rainbow trout. German immigrants brought Forelle pears to the U.S. in the 1800s.” Fascinating! These pears are so dainty, I couldn’t resist putting my Christmas ornament next to them for scale in the above picture.

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Also pictured are some chestnuts that I plan on roasting & setting some aside for a chestnut chocolate cake… Stay tuned!

Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season!

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Yikes, I’m realising that nearly every post that I do post.. I am apologising for the dramatic gap of time that has elapsed between all of these posts. I will make no more promises (though as you can guess.. I am really busy <my job, phototherapy appointments, yoga center work trade, etc..>, hence the lack of consistent and frequent postings..as I imagine most people are often too pre-occupied to blog..of all things) but I will say: I think of blogging often yet by the time I get to it . .— you get the point.

But honestly, where has the year gone? It seemed so long ago when my husband & I booked our holiday airfare.. and yet lo & behold, we are departing in just over 3 weeks! I am incredibly excited. I love going back home (the PNW) + the holiday factor = just the best occasions to get out of here and to see the people we love! Furthermore, I am SO excited to bake pies upon pies for my family..especially since I no longer bake for a living now.

Minecraft Jack-o-Lantern

Had to share a picture of my Minecraft-inspired jack-o’-lantern! I adore it.

This would be our third autumn in SoCal & honestly, up until very recently, it felt like summer would never end (the heat of the day would be in the upper 80s). Halloween coincided with some lovely (& much needed) rain showers. To my delight, the mornings have since been nippy & I’ve even been able to wear actual pants + a quilted fleece zipped hoodie, drink hot beverages, indulge in steaming bowls of phở & revel in the stunningly cloudy sunsets (that now, thanks to daylight savings time.. is far too early).

I hope everyone had a lovely Samhain/Halloween! But most importantly, happy autumn!

I know, I know. It’s been about two months since my last post – many apologies! For about half of July, we’ve been on the road, seeing family & out camping – for the remaining half of the month, we’d been vastly occupied packing up our apartment and experienced the throes of moving!

My husband & I had a short layover in Seattle before meeting up with my family. Luckily it overlapped with Il Corvo‘s weekday lunch service (the times that we have stopped in Seattle, would coincide on the weekend)! We were in for a treat.

What is Il Corvo, might you ask? This establishment serves the most life-changing handmade fresh pasta in all of Seattle/possibly the West Coast. My husband & I would frequent the pasta shop in its early days of inception (co-existing inside a gelateria behind Pike Place Market) so much that Mike (the chef/owner) would come to be recognise us wherever we may be in the city (i.e. browsing the specialty food items in Pike Place’s DeLaurenti’s, etc.). Since we’ve moved to SoCal; we hadn’t been able to see their new permanent location until this most recent trip. 

il corvo work benchMafalda

Pictured above are the beautiful pasta-making tools on display, the marble work bench that doubles as communal dining/seating during service, the wonderfully sunlit space (thanks to the gorgeous Pacific Northwest summertime) & my dish: mafalda with white beans, boquerones, parsley, lemon & garlic. Heavenly. All I have to say is, if you truly appreciate amazing pasta – this place is worth going to.. Hands down one of the top 5 incredible food places in Seattle (in my opinion). If you’re into pizza, I’ll have you know – Mike has opened another establishment – Pizza Gabbiano – Roman-style pizza by the kilogram. I, for one, am looking forward to checking it out – & am curious if any of you guys have ventured to Corvo or Gabbiano (which, can I take a moment to appreciate the names of these places?? Corvo means crow in Italian & gabbiano means seagull – love it!). 

If this post were a complete food documentation of our trip; it would be absurdly long. However, here are some highlights:

WA cherriesBB Peach Pie
My mother went to her local orchard & picked 30+ pounds of Bing cherries for me to bring to my in-laws (I know, what a sweetie my mom is, albeit a wee bit overboard in generosity!) – in which a cherry pitting party ensued. The four of us hunkered down and filled 7 gallon ziplock bags of pitted cherries! As the upcoming days coincided with the Fourth of July & a family birthday (in which the birthday patron had a strong penchant for cherries), I could not resist making a pie.. or three (maybe I do take after my mother afterall)! Pictured above is a gluten-free blueberry peach pie that is looking quite patriotic & tastes like sweet sweet freedom (;

North Beach PTseaglass haul

 

Many a day was spent visiting, playing games (namely Carcassone & Nertz) and also taking some Northwest beach walks – pictured above is en route to Glass Beach in Port Townsend, WA. Glass Beach gets its name because it’s where remnants of Victorian glass shards (back when they used to dump glass-trash into the port) tumbled up & down the beach over the past century turning into sea glass. Little known fact: I adore beachcombing for sea glass.. I could do it for hours. Pictured above is my sea glass haul which is my biggest load yet! I must concede that I did have some help from my husband & his parents with the sea glass collecting. I even found some thick lavender-slate-coloured glass that we suspect that’s come from a shipwreck – fascinating to speculate upon. I think what attracts me to sea glass collecting, is that these little pieces of human-manipulated silica-turned-trash, have tumbled away daily for decades – in a sense, eroding away back into the beach and sea. Not any two pieces are the same : the composition of glass, the hues and tints, the way that the piece has originally broken, has yielded a unique piece of glass. A lot occurs on any given beach aside from the obvious tides coming in & going out: beach frequenters of all ages, dogs, maybe even a landslide, beached sea mammals, etc etc. How long does a single piece of sea glass lay undetected next to other pebbles and rocks before being picked up? Where and how did it migrate along the way? Kind of a metaphor for life.

Salt Creekwild mushrooms

Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of photos of our camping adventures – my phone/camera was often on the verge of being completely out of battery and also, wouldn’t you say that constantly being on your phone while out in nature detracts from the experience? I certainly think so. Pictured above is the morning tide out, exposing these small islands enveloped in a glorious sea fog in Salt Creek Recreation Area in Clallam County, WA out on the Olympic Peninsula. This was a really neat campground – our campsite was close to the beach (you could hear waves crashing into the shore at night), there were some fun trails (even encounters with deer trampling through trails and empty campsites!), interesting bluffs & a sweet stretch of tidal pools – but prominently on Tongue Point. You could even see British Columbia from the shore (which is why this was a strategically-placed WWII fort site called Camp Hayden). Also pictured, are some interesting wild mushrooms that I came across on a hike which only makes me nostalgic for foraging for golden chanterelles (they show up during autumn)! I love walking through forests, there’s so much to see when you take the time to pay attention. Lastly, I’ll leave you a picture of some adorable baby crabs that we’ve found while exploring tidal pools. Summer adventures at their finest.
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I subscribe to the TastingTable which in a nutshell is an edgy free daily email-based publication that gives the inside scoop of the food & beverage culture – often divulging adapted recipes & techniques garnered by renowned chefs (from mostly around the country but also ex-pats such as the austere David Lebovitz). I highly recommend subscribing if you like reading about all things epicurean (& adding new food homages to your next travel destination). Not too long ago, the TastingTable sent out an article about cucumber ice cream from Allumette (a restaurant & bar located in the Echo Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles) – I’ve never been, & likely never will since it’s going to close its doors in a couple of days. Such is the life of restaurants – lively yet short-lived & fleeting at times.
But I digress.cucumber basil ice cream
Cucumber. Ice Cream. Often times when cucumber is utilised in food – one thinks of salads, cucumber tea sandwiches, maybe even gazpacho – or even a further tangent, in cocktails: cucumber gin & tonic. Or some other sort of refreshing beverage combination (cucumber mint spritzer, etc). But in dessert? Perhaps cucumber sorbet – no further than that. This is why the article intrigued me, because why not? Cucumbers definitely have a distinct flavour. Creamy cucumber icecream? Sounds good to me! Reading the recipe; it also seemed insanely simple: juice some Persian cucumbers, whisk the strained juice with heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk & salt. Cover & leave in the fridge for a couple of hours & you are ready to churn the ice cream base. The original recipe yields 2 quarts; which for a household of two adults – that is A LOT of ice cream. . Also, being who I am; I couldn’t resist modifying the recipe. I wanted to give the cucumber ice cream an extra dimension of flavour: herbaceous summery basil. What I did instead, was set aside the heavy cream & muddled it with fresh basil leaves. While the cucumber juice (which by the way; has the most incredible vibrant emerald hue that I’ve fallen in love with) melded with the evaporated & condensed milk – I allowed the basil to infuse the cream overnight covered in a separate container. I then ran the basil-infused cream through a sieve & whisked it with the rest of the ice cream base: ready to be churned in your ice cream maker. Easy enough, right? I must also say; it has a wonderful dense-enough texture for being egg-less. It’s quite substantial (must be cos of the three different types of dairy). This is not a wimpy ice cream – it is definitely decadent & worthy of any summer barbecue!

persian cucumber juice
Cucumber Basil Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart | Requires an ice cream maker – have your ice cream maker bowl chilled in your freezer before you embark upon this recipe to make life easier!
{ based on Miles Thompson’s Cucumber Ice Cream recipe via the TastingTable }

½ C organic Persian cucumber juice (from approximately 4 cucumbers, depending on size)
1½ C evaporated milk
1¾ C sweetened condensed milk
1¼ t sea salt
1 C organic heavy cream
½ C fresh organic basil leaves (torn) < one can easily substitute this with fresh mint as well or just omit the herbs altogether >

1. Prepare half a cup of Persian cucumber juice by using your juicer or blender to purée the cucumbers whole – double strain to ensure that the cucumber pulp is removed.
If you truly love cucumber & can’t bear to have the pulp (which is full of fibre & nutrients) go to waste – you can throw it into a fruit smoothie. The vegetal taste is rather subtle & it just adds to the body of the smoothie.
2. Whisk the cucumber juice with the evaporated milk, condensed milk & sea salt. If you would rather straight cucumber icecream; whisk in the heavy cream as well.
3. However if you want to do the basil (or mint) infusion: muddle the leaves into the heavy cream & set aside in the fridge to steep, covered overnight. I decided that muddling it would be the best way to go about it; because if you didn’t know – basil leaves tend to oxidise (aka turn brown) unless it is emulsified with fat/oil. The milk fat in the heavy cream is not enough to prevent the heavy oxidation (which would be the case if the basil leaves were food-processed with the heavy cream). However; if you desire a strong basil flavour & don’t mind a brown-tint to your ice cream.. By all means, blend away!
You could get away with having the cucumber juice, dairy & salt to meld in the fridge for a couple of hours if you are short on time. However keep in mind; the longer the ice cream base melds, the better the flavours will come through.
4. When you deem the ice cream base ready – pour your ice cream base into your chilled ice cream maker bowl & proceed to churn! This will take about 20-30 minutes. Check for a thick soft-serve consistency & transfer it into a preferably chilled container, cover it airtight & put it in the freezer for at least an hour before serving. I like to save some of the smaller basil leaves to garnish my ice cream scoops. & if you are adventurous; I highly recommend a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar right on top. It gives it just a bit of extra acidity to cut the creaminess of the ice cream. Just unbelievably good. I intend on making this for many-a-summer to come.

& if cucumber ice cream isn’t your thing – I have to share one of my favourite sodas of all time. DRYSoda (a Seattle company) has a cucumber soda that is deliciously refreshing. It’s got just a hint of sweetness (only 11g of cane sugar as opposed to the usual 36g of high fructose cane-syrup from other carbonated soda companies). It only has four ingredients & is kosher, gluten-free, sodium-free, caffeine-free. DrySoda has a beautiful array of flavours (11 in all!) & aside from cucumber – I really enjoy their ginger, rhubarb, lavender, pear & lemongrass (well… when they did have lemongrass.. it’s been discontinued.. as you can guess, I’ve been a fan of DRYsoda for years now). The product line is lovely & sophisticated – they pair well with food & are versatile as mixers (speaking from experience – a splash of gin + cucumber DRYsoda is a winning combo). They’ve launched nationwide, so you are sure to find them in any Kroger, Safeway, QFC, Ralph’s, WholeFoods, Sprouts, Pharmaca, etc.

Thanks for reading my tangents on cucumber…
Happy summer, everyone!

My odd sense of humour compelled me to take this photo after an excited customer accidentally overturned her just-purchased mini red velvet cupcake. She was remorseful but I simply laughed & quickly gave her a new cupcake. For me, this picture encapsulated everything that was going on at the time - a very pivotal moment during a time of chaos. A casualty in the realm of larger forces in opposition . . a reminder that the culmination of time/energy/effort, even with the best intentions, can go awry . . That there are always aspects of the situation out of one's control. Therefore you could either choose to be upset & angry or you could just laugh at the absurdity. & carry on. (I am hopeful that I am sounding existential & optimistic rather than not.) Happy June, everyone! Can you believe that this year is almost halfway over? What a whirlwind!

If you didn't know - I love pears. They are one of my most favourite fruits. They are often associated with a late summer through late winter harvest (though primarily autumnal). That being said & despite it being well into spring (though it currently feels like full-blown summer right now in Southern California, with temperatures of 95ºF today) - I spied these organic Abate Fetel pears (imported from Argentina... of course) at one of my local natural foods markets a couple weeks ago. As a voracious pear eater who had never had this variety - I could not pass up this opportunity to try them & to do a little research because I am often curious about varietal types. As it turns out, the Abate Fetel is also referred to as Abbé Fetel - named in honor of the French abbot who cultivated this variety in 1866! Apparently Abbé Fetel are lovely paired with pecorino romano cheese - but as you can guess, I had them by themselves. They were delightful. I'm looking forward to pairing the two together next time. Ciao!

I feel silly for posting this picture of a bag of Canadian ketchup chips (this particular brand of chips) but I figured, it is a lingering remnant in relation to my last post. I chanced upon these at World Market & excitedly grabbed a bag. I didn't mention this in my last post but we did a bit of sampling of Canadian ketchup chips (not to the level of being connoisseurs of course). It is always so lovely to prolong the nostalgia of a holiday (a honeymoon no less!) when the day-to-day grind of life persists. Eating these tangy, savoury yet sweet crunchy chips has given me a few moments where I would distinctly remember driving down the Trans-Canadian highway, passing by shorn & frosted mountains, evergreens dusted with snow & snow flurries swirling in the wake of our tire tracks.

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