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TheIdleLoaf.com

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Hey, guess what? The Idle Loaf is now self-hosted. That’s pretty neat, right?

Ch-ch-check it out at www.theidleloaf.com

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Victoria

Braised Short Ribs and Roasted Root Vegetables

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I get things in my head. Once they’re in there, I can’t get rid of them. And since our return from San Francisco, I’ve had braised short ribs on my mind. Probably because I was obsessed with the braised short rib poutine at Wayfare Tavern. Maybe also because I thought they’d go perfectly with our bottle of Malbec from Wattle Creek.

So when I came across beef short ribs from Sea Breeze Farm at the farmers market yesterday, we decided to grab some. I had some notion that I was going to braise them, but I wasn’t sure what to serve them with. I considered goat cheese polenta, a la The Pioneer Woman, but inspiration came from the root vegetables still filling the market stands. Some fingerling potatoes, adorable baby carrots, and half a bag of braising greens and we were ready to go.

Here are the makings of a great main dish.

I didn’t really know what I was doing, but here’s how it all went down:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 4 beef short ribs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8oz boiler onions, peeled
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1.5-2 cups red wine
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Mix together flour, salt and pepper and place in plastic bag.
  4. Add ribs to bag and shake to coat.
  5. Cook ribs about 45 seconds on each side, until browned.
  6. Remove ribs and set aside.
  7. Add onions and garlic to the pot and saute until slightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add beef stock and wine and bring to a boil.
  9. Boil for a few minutes to burn off alcohol and reduce a bit.
  10. Add ribs back into the pot and put a lid on it.
  11. Place covered dutch oven into the oven and cook for 2.5 hours.
  12. When time is up, remove pot and let cool about 15-20 minutes. (I used this time to roasted some veg in the oven)
  13. Taste a bit of the sauce and add salt and pepper in desired.
  14. Skim fat off the top.
  15. Serve warm with whatever you want.

While all that was going on, I washed the potatoes and carrots and tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper. When the ribs were done, I roasted the veg in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes.

At the last minute Brent also sautéed the greens to complete the meal.

Yeah. Craving fulfilled. Served alongside with the rest of that Malbec, this made a very satisfying dinner. I’m glad we finally indulged my craving, but I don’t think we’ll be making short ribs again any time soon. They were definitely much fattier than my normal fare, which is not really my thing.

I love shopping the farmers market for inspiration. :)

U-District Farmers Market

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Yesterday Brent and I had to take advantage of the unexpected sunshine and get outside. We hopped a bus to the University District to check out their farmers market. My usual weekend farmers market is the Ballard farmers market, but it’s always nice to diversify, right? The U-district’s market was pretty bustling (due to the sunshine, no doubt) and we wandered around for quite a bit finding ingredients for dinner (more on that in a later post).

Why didn’t I buy huge buckets of tulips to bring in to my house? Ahh. Total and instant regret.

And I was definitely inspired to bring some green onto my balcony. I need to plant something soon.

Of course I also picked up some smoked salmon. It’s nearly all I eat since moving here!

The bus we take from the U-district back to our hood goes right through Fremont so we decided to hop off for a quick snack and a beer. I brought Brent to Pie so we could split a mini pie. He chose the veggie pot pie, which was quite delicious but lacking a tiny bit of salt.

I still need to go back to try the macaroni & cheese pie.

I love Fremont Brewing, so I was more than happy to stop in to check out their new seasonal release.

I had nearly a whole pint of the Summer Solstice seasonal (described as tangerine flower in a glass), which was super refreshing, and Brent enjoyed The Brother Imperial IPA and later bought a growler to take home and enjoy during the Final Four games.

Their Urban Beer Garden is a pretty laid back place. Seating includes wooden picnic tables and garage sale furniture, and you can enjoy the view of the fermentation tanks while you sip.

Oh, and “since we were in the area” Brent decided he was interested in visiting the troll after all, so we had to snap a photo of that.

Our day wasn’t over, however. The sun was still shining when we finally got back home, so we took Larry out for a walk to Seattle Center to check out the Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival ended up just being a few food stands and a group of performers who weren’t performing, but we still had a nice time. AND Larry was very well-behaved around the large group of people and dogs.

Isn’t Larry funny? He’s sitting because we told him to and he’s obedient, but he’s not happy about it! He always looks so forlorn when we make him sit. He’d rather be running.

Well we’re off to Magnolia to hit up Discovery Park. We run this town. ;)

Restaurant Review: Elliott’s Oyster House

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An iconic Seattle waterfront restaurant, Elliott’s has been on our radar for a while. We’ve often talked about going to their Progressive Oyster Happy Hour for inexpensive oysters right on the water, (but of course Brent has that whole “work” thing going on and never gets home in time). When Pat and Smitha were here, Patrick mentioned they wanted to go to a “nice” seafood restaurant for dinner one night. I suggested Elliott’s because I knew it was close and it had a great reputation. We made reservation for 8:30 on Friday night.

Ambiance: For a place this expensive, I was pleasantly surprised that the restaurant did not seem stuffy. It is definitely a white tablecloth kind of place, but that’s the beauty of Seattle – still plenty of denim and fleece to be found. The restaurant is right on the pier and looks out over the water, which I’m sure is gorgeous in the daylight (or sunset!), but at night the effect is definitely minimal. We waited for our table in the bar section and grabbed a few drinks. The bar is bustling, but it could use a few more seats. The boys were happy to catch a bit of NCAA action on the two TVs.

Service: The service was attentive without being obtrusive. Our waitress seemed very knowledgeable about the menu. She was able to recommend “Northwest specific” choices for our out of town guests and make suggestions between the various menu items. She stayed on top of our drink orders, and we stayed and chatted a bit after paying our check without being rushed out.

Food and Drinks: Everyone was happy with their cocktails, which include a seasonal blood orange champaign cocktail, an Elliott’s signature manhattan (Brent’s current drink of choice), and some Pike’s Punch for that vacation feel. To start, we all (I was peer-pressured) decided to take oyster shooters at the bar while waiting for our table.

Well, I, uh, hate bloody marys, so this was so not my thing. Everyone else seemed to find no objection with it though. I think they were $5 each, which can add up really quickly.

Once seated, I was determined to get an order of oysters on the half shell. I mean, if you going to an oyster house, you ought to get oysters, right? We split a half dozen among our table and we all really loved them! The Hama Hama oysters were so sweet and delicate and I thought the frozen mignonette was a perfect complement.

For our entrees, Smitha and I ordered the Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Dungeness Crab | Wild mushroom filled ravioli tossed with Dungeness crab, pancetta and asparagus. Finished with a light cream sauce or pomodoro sauce and topped with fresh tomato and basil chiffonade. 27.

It was good, but I wouldn’t call the cream sauce “light.” Also, I do not know if this was intentional or not, but while the ravioli and sauce were warm, the crab was chilled. I did not enjoy the juxtaposition. Plus I definitely had the “I can’t believe this cost $27″ reaction, so the overall effect was just meh.

Brent ordered one of the specials which was a halibut cheek piccata. He seemed to enjoy it (minus the rice pilaf which was an obvious afterthought). I had a few bites and the halibut cheeks were flavorful and cooked well.

Yep, I promise there are halibut cheeks somewhere under there. Oh, and Pat had an unphotographed steak that he enjoyed (he’s not so much a seafood lover).

Overall my impression of Elliott’s is that it’s a place that thinks it is greater than it actually is. The food was not bad, but everything seemed pretty overpriced. I would go back again for the above mentioned Oyster Happy Hour, because their oysters are definitely some of the best I’ve had in Seattle. I would not, however, return for a full dinner.

A Saturday in Woodinville

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Brent and I (mostly I) had been talking about taking the drive up to Woodinville since moving to Seattle. I knew it was close, but I didn’t realize it was only a 25 minute drive. Woodinville is known as the home of several of Washington state’s wineries and you know I’m all about that. For my beer-drinking husband, it is also home of Red Hook. Patrick, Smitha, Brent and I decided to use Saturday, their last day here, as an opportunity to check it out. The weather was dreary anyway, so sticking around the city was that appealing.

The Red Hook Brewery offers tours on the weekends at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm, and they sell out quick. We arrived a bit before 1pm and were told the 1pm tour was sold out, so we grabbed tickets for the 3pm tour (only $1 each) and headed a block down the road to Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Chateau Ste. Michelle also offered a tour, pretty much every 30 minutes. The tour lasts about half an hour and details the wine-making process as well as the specific grape growing regions in Washington. The tour concludes with a tasting of three of their wines and a quick lesson on wine-tasting technique. The tour was absolutely free, but the winery did offer a tasting bar where were able to choose 4 of their wines to taste for $10. Overall I thought Chateau Ste. Michelle was a great choice for a visit if you’re in Woodinville. They have really great reislings, including a delicious, perfect-for-dessert, late harvest reisling. The tour/tasting is a bargain and I learned quite a bit about the region’s vineyards. The grounds are also totally gorgeous. I would have taken more photos, but it was raining. Obviously.

After splitting two tastings between the four of us (Brent barely partook – he was our driver) we headed to Red Hook for our tour. Umm… let’s get one thing straight. This is not a tour. They corralled us into a small room, gave us 3oz tastings of 5 different beers and shouted a bit about Red Hook’s history and hops. Clearly quite a deal for only $1, but don’t expect to see anything. Plus the beer is just ok. My favorite were probably the ESB and the spring seasonal nut brown ale.

Pat defs took one for the team by finishing a few of my tastings, as well as some of Brent’s, and nearly all of Smitha’s.

After chowing down on some soft pretzels with beer cheese sauce at the pub (Amazing, by the way) we beat the clock and headed to JM Cellars, which was by far my favorite destination of the day.

The grounds are so beautiful and the wine was amazing! For $10 per tasting, we sampled 7 of their releases – 6 reds and 1 white. The Bramble Bump White blend was hands down my favorite of the afternoon. Again we split 2 tastings between the four of us before wandering the grounds taking pictures.

Our finally stop of the Woodinville wine tasting tour was Columbia Winery, because it was across the street and open late.

I didn’t love anything here, but it was a nice visit. The tasting room is very pretty and comfortable (love a fireplace!) and the tasting was $5 for 4 pours.

It’s so cool we have this mini wine country so close to us! I definitely plan on dragging Brent back in the summer when all the wineries have different events and concerts going on.

Seattle on Foot: Fremont

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Another part of Patrick and Smitha’s itinerary included a walking tour of some of the other neighborhoods in Seattle. I was definitely game to join them for that because my experience outside of the downtown/Queen Anne area is pretty limited. Plus, I had been wanting to see the Fremont troll since we moved here.

Our firsts top was Waiting for the Interurban, which residents frequently dress up. I have no pictures, but that’s alright – the sculpture had no fun accessories that day.

Next up was the highlight of the tour: The Fremont Troll. To find the troll, hike up Troll Avenue and you’ll find him lurking beneath the Aurora Bridge.

We all took turns climbing on him for various photo ops and then went on our way. We got about 2 blocks away and Pat and I convinced ourselves we needed to go back for one specific photo opportunity: nose picking. My fam is super classy like that.

More meandering, including a stop at Pie, where we got to sample the gluten free huevos rancheros pie and the apple pie. I love these tiny pies and I plan on dragging Brent back soon!

More sights to see. When Pat initially mentioned seeing the Fremont Rocket, I had no idea what he was talking about. It was pretty damn random, but that’s kind of Fremont in a nutshell.

We also saw the Lenin statue.

Apparently they put lights and a star on his head for Christmas. We’ll have to go back and check that out in December.

The other highlight of the tour was stopping at Theo Chocolate. We were hoping to take the factory tour, but it was sold out. We consoled ourselves by sampling nearly every type of chocolate they produce. Seriously, if you’re ever near Fremont, I would hit up the Theo Chocolate factory and store front. I have already informed Brent we have to go back to take the tour.

To complete the tour, we needed to check out the dinosaur topiaries. Fun story: we were all looking in the guidebook figuring out where to look for the dinosaurs when a nice gentleman asked us what we were looking for. We said “the dinosaurs” and he pointed 8 feet away from us. I think the fact we didn’t know we were staring right at them gives you a clue as to the disappointment we felt. This was definitely the dud of the tour.

As you can see, one of them is still missing his ivy head. After stopping for a beer and some frites at Brouwer’s, we headed to Capitol Hill to see the Jimi Hendrix statue and St. Mark’s Cathedral.

There’s been talk of relocating the Hendrix statue and I can see why. It’s in a bizarre location on the sidewalk in front of an art supply store. We also stopped to take advantage of happy hour at Quinn’s. Love that place. We had such beautiful weather and it was a really fun day. It definitely inspired me to get Brent and I out and about exploring more of this awesome city.

 

 

Seattle on Foot: Downtown

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Oh man, have I been busy! My cousin Pat and his girlfriend Smitha came to visit Seattle this past week and I tagged along and had myself a vacation in my own city. Yep, unemployment sure has its perks! Pat and Smitha came prepared with a list of things they were interested in seeing, and of course restaurants they wanted to try – people after my own heart. After a delayed plane arrival on Wednesday night, they woke up Thursday ready to go, go, go.

A walking tour of Seattle’s downtown core followed. We headed from my place to Pike Place Market, stopping for breakfast at Le Panier, which is one of my favorite places for a cappuccino and pastry in the city. We explored the market. I ooohhhed and ahhhed over a million things as usual, AND Smitha caught a fish! She wanted the fish mongers to start throwing the fish and they told her she had to catch one. She has more confidence than I did, because she did it. It took two attempts, but the second one was a success.

Pat actually took a great video of it and we were dying laughing watching it. More wandering ensued, including a stop for a beer at Pike Pub & Brewery, where I greatly enjoyed the Tandem Double Ale. We stopped for lunch (#1 of 3!) at The Pink Door, and got to sit outside. I am so excited about spring and summer in Seattle!!

Pat and Smitha split the Pink Door Lasagna, which was a veggie lasagna and it was amazing. I had a bite and I would love to come back for me. I ordered a glass of wine and some steamed mussels and clams, which I ate about half of.

We moseyed on over to Pioneer Square, which is super adorable and took a look at all the public art in Occidental Square. Eventually we made out way to Salumi. Obviously we weren’t hungry, but I had been wanting to try it (and their hours are lunch only Mon-Fri) so I used their visit as an opportunity to do so. We split the cured meats plate, which made a nice snack (we didn’t quite finish).

Ok, no way to beat around the bush here – we continued walking, so that we could make our way to Serious Pie. Yeah, a third lunch. I have history with Serious Pie. Brent and I went there over a year ago on our first trip to Seattle. To say it didn’t live up to the hype would be a huge understatement. We kind of swore we would never go back. But, I’m known for exaggeration, so when they suggested it, I decided it was time for a second chance.

We hit it up for their happy hour. Mini pies for $5 and cheap beer and wine = redemption for Serious Pie. While I still think their pizza is a bit overhyped, I enjoyed each of the three mini pies I got to try.

Yellowfoot chanterelles and truffle cheese:

Guanciale, soft egg, arugula:

Sweet fennel sausage, roasted peppers, provolone:

While I still feel hesitant to head back for dinner due to the much longer wait time and the higher price, I would definitely come back for happy hour. We definitely ate quite a bit during our walking tour, but we split everything so it was not near as much as it seems.

After Serious Pie, we started the trek back to Lower Queen Anne so we could take the trip to the top of the Space Needle. This was another attraction that I didn’t think would be worth the price ($18/person), but the views were pretty gorgeous so I guess I was proven wrong again. :)

I’ll be back later with more of my vacation at home.

My Super Personalized Ikea Desk

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I’ve been wanting a desk for awhile now. The folding dining room table just wasn’t cutting it and even though I have a laptop, I find using it on the couch fairly annoying and nonproductive. I thought having a cute desk might make job hunting and tedious applications slightly more enjoyable too.

Here’s what I used to get the job done:

  • Ikea Vika Furuskog table top: just plain ol’ 2′x4′x1″ unfinished pine
  • Ikea Vika Furuskog cabinet: also unfinished pine, and perfect for holding all those “important papers” Brent has lying around as well as some of my junk too
  • 2 Ikea Vika Curry table legs: black to go with everything
  • 2 cans of Rustoleom Lagoon satin finish spray paint
  • 1 quart high gloss pure white paint
  • 3 coats of clear gloss polyurethane
  • 3 adorable Anthropologie elephant handles: I have a thing for elephants
  • And the result of 3 weeks of on and off hard work:

    The Lagoon color is looking very blue in these photos, but it’s definitely more dark teal in real life, so yeah. Basically I’m saying that even if you think this desk looks good (which you should), it looks way cooler in person.

    The handles are totally ridiculous. I get that. I really do. But like I said, maybe some ridiculousness will make the job hunt more light-hearted, right? Plus I love them. A lot.

    I had to use more leftover contact paper to cover that ugly particle board bottom again, so even the inside of the drawers has personality.

    Brent thinks he’s going to share this desk with me, but I don’t really see that happening. It’s too “Victoria” for him. He’ll have to design his own.

    Oh, and here’s the price run-down:

  • table top: $40
  • cabinet: $80
  • legs: $7
  • handles: $24 (down from $54, which would have been even more absurd)
  • paint, polyurethane, and supplies: $25
  • For a grand total of $176. I don’t think that’s too bad for a super personalized desk that I adore. I’m so happy with the way it turned out! About half way through the project I was a little bit concerned that it was too much of a hassle to be doing this on a tarp in my tiny office, but it worked out well. Oh, and I did it all myself. I even used Brent’s power drill and assembled it alone. Maybe not that big a deal, but I’m usually lazy/wussy about these things so I was impressed with myself.

    And it’s a perfect place for blogging! :)

    Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

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    Sunday started off as a pretty ideal day (and then both Illinois and Purdue lost, but that’s another story). I got Brent to go to yoga with me. I promise it didn’t take that much pleading. He enjoys it when he goes. Sunday morning’s class was not a beginner class though, so it ended up being quite a workout. To recover from the sweatiness, we had a kickass brunch planned. We nearly always order eggs benedict when we go out to brunch and I feel like we’ve been talking about making it ourselves for like a year. Well, we finally got around to it.

    Base layer: flaky biscuits from Cooking Light. I made these quickly before we headed to our class. We split the biscuits and put them under the broiler to toast them up a bit. On top of that we put some lighted heated lox-style smoked salmon.

    The eggs presented a problem. We’ve never poached eggs before, which doesn’t seem that difficult, but we were trying to do it at the same time as making hollandaise, which we’ve also never done. It ended up being quite the cluster in the kitchen, so we abandoned the poaching and just fried some eggs over eggs. We still get runny yolk and the process was a lot more familiar.

    The hollandaise sauce is actually super simple, BUT you really have to get the timing down. Our first batch curdled because we were still dealing with the egg issue and the sauce was left on the heat too long. My advice is just to save the hollandaise for last because it comes together in like 90 seconds.

    After assembly, we spooned some sauce on and sprinkled with some smoked paprika and capers to complete the towers of deliciousness.

    We totally scarfed these in like 2 minutes. So delicious. And now that we’re benedict-making pros, you can expect more brunch posts in the future. ;)

    Other fun news: my cousin and his girlfriend are coming to stay with us while they visit Seattle. They’ll arrive on Wednesday and I really hope we have good weather for them. I’m very protective of Seattle and I want people to love it as much as I do, so I always hope for gorgeous weather when people visit. My parents are also coming to visit in April and I’ve very hopeful the weather will be beautiful by then! Good thing we got that guest room put together!

    Banana Cake with Coconut Streusel

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    Oh. Em. Gee! Guys, I totally baked the best thing ever today. Really, I did. It’s been a while since I’ve been this in love with something I’ve made.

    I bought a crapton of bananas last week for snacks for Girls on the Run practice, but I had quite a few leftover. I figured I could always bake something with them, so I just left them alone until they were nearly black. Oh, by the way, anyone else think super ripe bananas smell like alcohol? I’m sure there’s a chemical reaction reason for that, but I don’t know why. Anyway, ripe bananas obviously lead to banana bread, which is delicious, but kind of played out if you know what I mean. So I made cake instead. I kind of consider this a coffee cake, but probably only because it has streusel. I guess I just equate streusel with the Entenmann’s coffee cakes of my youth.

    The cake recipe is not super sweet, and would actually make a super awesome banana bread if you just want to use a loaf pan and skip the streusel. Ohhh, or banana coconut steusel muffins! Yeah. Make this baby portable. That would be pretty baller too.

    Sour-Cream Banana Cake

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 3 overripe bananas, roughly mashed
    • 1/2 cup sour cream (light works just fine)
    • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
    2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    3. Add extract, eggs, sour cream and bananas and beat until well-mixed. Some chunks of bananas are fine.
    4. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
    5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix gently until just combined.
    6. Pour in 9″ cake pan (or loaf pan).
    7. Cover with streusel topping (below) or continue onto step 8 and skip topping.
    8. Bake cake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until done. Begin check after 35 minutes.

    Coconut Streusel Topping

    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    • 1/2 cup sugar in the raw (or regular sugar)
    • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    1. Using pastry cutter or a mixer on low setting, mix ingredients together until butter is pea sized and mixture resembles coarse sand.
    2. Cover cake completely.
    3. Enjoy tropical deliciousness.

    This was so crazy good. I enjoyed it as an afternoon snack, but I could totally see myself eating a small slice for breakfast and not feeling the slightest bit guilty about it. I love that the coconut streusel gives it an unexpected injection of tropical flava.

    And now I’m off to couch it up. I did not sleep well last night and spending the afternoon with 12 3rd graders is exhausting! I don’t know how teachers do it everyday. :)

     

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