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Braving the Elements

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I’ll have you know, Brent and I did not puss out and let the rain keep us inside yesterday. We decided to head downtown anyway, and after an hour or so, the rain turned to our normal drizzle and all was right with the world. We’ve been trying to get out of our little Queen Anne bubble, so we took ourselves downtown for some shopping and then on a walking tour of Capitol Hill.

After a few miles of walking, we stopped at Quinn’s Gastropub for some beer and maybe a snack. Quinn’s has Happy Hour from 3-5 Monday-Saturday (woot! a HH brent can actually participate in!) so we were psyched for some half price beer, especially when we saw what Brent referred to as “a taste of home.”

Sofie, the saison from Goose Island. So refreshing and we were so psyched to see it because Goose Island has extremely limited distribution in Washington. We miss our midwest beer. The seattlelites love their beer, and claim they have the best beer scene in the country, but umm… we disagree. We haven’t found any breweries in Washington that we like and we definitely miss Goose Island, 3 Floyds, and Bell’s.

Anyway, along with splitting the Sofie, we also ordered some frites because Brent saw them delivered to someone else and thought they looked good. We tend to spy on other diners. That’s a totally normal thing, right? The frites were served with a Fontina fonduta and some kind of demi glace. (Feel free to call it fries with cheese sauce and gravy, Quinn’s. I don’t need impressing).

Assuming that picture loaded for you, you don’t need me to tell you these were delicious. We obviously need to go back for dinner sometime. Or just more bar food and beer. I’m not picky. I would have definitely ordered more food, but we had the makings for pizza at home so we headed back.

Last night’s pizza topping combo was requested by Brent and inspired by one of our favorite haunts in Fort Wayne, 800 Degrees. We were huge fans of their rocket pizza, so I made a pizza (crust from ABin5) with prosciutto, sliced garlic, Fontina and arugula. I just layered the prosciutto  on the dough, sprinkled sliced garlic, topped with a healthy dose of the cheese and baked for 10 minutes. When the pizza came out of the oven, I tossed a handful of arugula on top, just so it barely wilts.

The pizza was great, but perhaps a bit too salty for my taste. Brent could not stop raving about it and ate all of his pizza and quite a bit of mine too. I guess it’s clearly a make again.

For us, it’s another grey, wet day out here, but I’ll be making my way to the Ballard Farmers Market, and maybe over to Bedlam Coffee for a Nutella Mocha. Hope losing an hour doesn’t slow down your Sunday!

Saturday Morning

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Got a run in, went to yoga, ate an awesome breakfast. Pretty sweet little Saturday. Larry had a pretty great one too.

Apparently he didn’t get the memo reminding him that he’s 60lbs and has a huge ass. Brent looks pretty proud of himself there too, huh?

Oh yeah, about that awesome breakfast. It was at 5 Spot. I had been building this place up to Brent ever since Tess and I went a week and half ago, so Brent suggested we head there this weekend. I didn’t exactly put up much resistance. I stuck with what I knew and got the Ranch Hand Eggs. I can’t adequately describe this, but it involved a folded up tortilla stuffed with two kinds of cheese and green onions. I wish I could convey how amazing that thing is because I know this picture is not doing it justice.

I tried valiantly, but only finished half. That tortilla is one dense mofo.

The rest of the day is up in the air because its raining. I’m aware that I live in Seattle and everyone thinks it rains all the time, but usually it’s just misting. Today is what Brent and I refer to as “Real Rain.” You know, as in You Need An Umbrella, Fool. So we’re kind of being babies about it and debating whether we feel like leaving the house. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

Eating and Drinking Our Way Around San Francisco

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Oh man, for a trip that was only two days I feel like we really packed a lot in! Here’s a few snapshots of some of the fun we had.

We were obsessed with Blue Bottle Coffee. Obsessed. I rolled with the New Orleans style iced coffee for the duration of the trip, while Brent went with the Kyoto style coffee and tried their latte.

New Orleans style iced coffee on the left and Kyoto style iced coffee on the right. The NOLA style was rich and creamy, and the Kyoto style had the strongest, best flavor of any black coffee I’ve ever tasted.

Here’s a side shot of the NOLA style, followed by Brent’s latte, complete with art.

I really water one of these coffee syphons for myself. I think they come in normal house size.

We also found plenty of wine for me and beer for Brent (and me). We visited the Rogue pub in San Francisco and Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa.

Favorites at Rogue were the Double Chocolate Stout (mine) and the Yellow Snow IPA (Brent). Word of warning: Do Not Eat at the pub. The food majorly sucked, which is really saying something because we were starving by this point! Few things put me in a worse mood than paying for a bad meal.

Russian River! Brent was psyched about this visit because he loves some IPAs and sour beers. Me, not so much. Especially the sours. Blech!

Brent went all out and got the total sampler, which includes 2oz pours of the 14 beers they had on tap. He got to try them all, and found a new favorite: Compunction, which is a blonde ale brewed with pluots.

I drank Brent’s sample of the Irish stout on the nitro tap (love the smoothness of the nitro tap!) and a bunch of water while patiently waiting to go get wine!

Wine tasting occurred at Cellars of Sonoma (no photos) and the Wattle Creek tasting room in Ghiradelli Square (loved it so much we became members!). Brent always enjoys hamming it up for the camera. He’d like you to note the raised pinky finger.

Boozing it up with my husband is totally one of my favorite activities. We just love trying new beer and wine!

Oh, obviously we ate a lot too. Another favorite hobby of ours. Some of the best meals are below.

Eating a whole Dungeness crab off a paper plate while drinking a beer out of a paper bag standing by the pier was definitely a highlight.

Crab carnage ensued.

Other notable meals included Breakfast Gnocchi, Yes I said Breakfast Gnocchi, at Flavor Bistro in Santa Rosa. Brent had serious order envy when he saw me enjoying this masterpiece.

Deliciously light gnocchi sauteed with fennel sausage, spinach and mushrooms and baked into eggs. Can you imagine?! No, you cannot.

Our last meal was dinner at Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern. We were definitely a bit hesitant about heading there, but the reviews were good. Why the hesitation? Mainly because Tyler Florence seems like he’ll shill for anything (Applebee’s?!), so we kind of questioned his taste level. Snobby and ridiculous, I know, but that’s kind of me in a nutshell. Umm, the result: Me: 0, Tyler: 1. This shit was out of control good.

We had such a difficult time ordering. We both wanted to try everything, but we were not insanely hungry. We ordered a few fan favorites from Yelp reviews and split everything. Forget the bread basket. This man starts you off with fresh out of the oven and super warm and delicious popovers.

To start, we split the poutine. Nothing like a nice, light appetizer to tease the palate, right?

Fries, smothered with braised short ribs, cheese curds, truffle gravy and shaved black truffles. I wish we had ordered 3. I’m barely kidding.

The famous fried chicken. People were losing their minds about this on Yelp, so we felt compelled to try it. Definitely not your typical southern fried chicken, but totally tasty in its own right. Very herbacious and lemon-garlicky. Excellent crunch too. I only had a small piece, which was plenty for me, but Brent lip-smacked and finger-licked his way through the rest of it.

I know we were on vacation, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty about the glaring lack of vegetables I’d eaten in this past week, so to feel better about myself I ordered the side of broccoli too.

Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t stop eating it. Seriously, like broccoli crack. It was roasted and tossed with cranberries, pine nuts and mustard green pesto. Best vegetable side dish I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Hands down.

Definitely in need of good ol’ water and vegetable replenishment once we arrived home!

Playing Tourist in Seattle

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I just dropped Tessa off at the airport, but we were already discussing when we can manage to get together again! It was so much freaking fun to have her here for a few days, especially because I used her visit as an excuse to play tourist in my new city. Tuesday night, after her arrival, I dragged her to get pho. What can I say? I have an addiction. She enjoyed it. Well, she said she did. She really had no choice. I think I spent 4 days talking it up to her and going on and on about how amazing it was. I’m known for doing that kind of crap.

Actually Tessa and her husband came to visit us in Fort Wayne once and I spent the entire month before they arrived telling them about my obsession with Cindy’s diner in downtown Fort Wayne and more specifically, how they had The.Best.Buttered.Toast.EVER. When Tessa and Greg arrived, I woke them up at 6am and forced them to go eat greasy, trans-fat filled, margarine-covered toast. Yeah, that actually happened. Being friends with me IRL is totes awesome.

Moving on to Wednesday, we were busy! We started off with breakfast happy hour at Toulouse Petit, where I had a delicious Croque Madame. After a bit of putzing around I talked Tessa into going to yoga with me (fun fact: my first studio yoga experience was an intro course with T like 7 years ago). The rain and wind were kind of crazy at this point so we debated back and forth about going to Pike Place Market. The sun came out and we convinced ourselves we had to get out. We braved the winds to explore the market, where I subsequently lost my mind over a stand selling dried fruit with no added sugar. Seriously guys. No.Added.Sugar. I repeated that like 28 times and then bought 2 bags. I regretted not buying 4.

We stopped for lunch at Beecher’s and dove into some flagship grilled cheese while sitting on rather uncomfortable milk bottle stools.

Hmm… This sandwich is melty cheese, pesto, and tomatoes between crispy bread. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it just didn’t totally float by boat, you know? I probably wouldn’t go back for a sandwich, but Beecher’s cheese curds and flagship cheese are both A-OK in my book.

We had both already eaten lunch obviously, but we were lured into Piroshky Piroshky. Anthony Bourdain is a fan, and the smells were intoxicating. Unfortunately our microwaved cinnamon raisin cardamom braid was not all that. It was bland, with no cardamom flavor to speak of, and it had a weird texture. I’m not saying don’t go to Piroshky Piroshky, but I am saying maybe try to go savory rather than sweet. I’d go back to try a potato, onion and cheese piroshky.

Oh, before we move on, please look at the awesome thing T and I found at some random toy store in the market. They were corn dog and broccoli action figures who are also apparently archenemies.

Umm, yeah. We nearly died laughing while repeating “flimsy tube of meat” and “stinky side dish.” For some reason when we tried explaining it to Brent that night at dinner, he did not find it as hilarious as we did.

Thursday, Tessa proved her rockstar status as best friend by going shopping with me. No easy task. I am a total freak when it comes to shopping. Honestly. I wander aimlessly into stores, get overwhelmed, and usually leave in near tears. As a result of my inability to shop and the cross-country move, my wardrobe has consisted of a pair of yoga pants, a pair of ill-fitting skinny jeans, 3 t-shirts, a tank top, and a fleece jacket. If that didn’t require an intervention I don’t know what does. T was a trooper and we made a lot of progress at the clearance racks at Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack. Thank God she was here to help!

Our touristy dinner of choice for Thursday was dinner at The Crab Pot. Featured on Man vs. Food, The Crab Pot is a ridiculously popular restaurant on the Seattle Waterfront.

I was not joking when I called The Crab Pot popular. They do not take reservations and there was a 30-45minute wait when we arrived. On a Thursday. In March. Ugh. I was starving and really did not anticipate much of a wait. We distracted ourselves in the bar, where I consumed a ridiculous drink.

That was called the Tsunami and it was blue and delicious. And served in a giant glass carafe. Hey, no judging. We were celebrating. Thursday was our five-year wedding anniversary.

Brent, party of 3! Dinner time! The Crab Pot is known for their “Seafeasts” which are buckets of seafood dumped on butcher paper on your table. Sounds classy, no? To complete the theme, they also give you bibs and wooden blocks and mallets, with which you are expected to beat your dinner into submission before consuming it.

Our bibs were donned. Our mallets were ready.

Brent was looking pretty serious as we waited for the arrival of our bucket o’seafood.

And it has arrived. We ordered the Westport Seafeast, which contained Dungeness crab, Snow crab, Mussels, Clams, Shrimps in their shells, Andouille sausage, Corn on the cob, and red potatoes. Let the madness begin.

In attacking our dinner, I went straight for the dungeness crab. It’s what I came for and it did not disappoint. I wasn’t actually all that interested in any of the other elements, but I did have a bit of the snow crab, mussels, and clams as well. I would definitely go back to The Crab Pot, but I would probably just get the whole Dungeness crab. It’s a fun place to take out of town guests!

And this morning I rode the lightrail with Tessa to the airport, snapped one last picture and said good-bye.

I can’t be too sad though. We leave for our anniversary trip to San Francisco bright and early tomorrow morning at 6am!!

My Strange Addiction

I’ve got a new addiction: phở. Specifically the small veggie phở at Pho Than Brothers which is dangerously located 3 blocks from my apartment. It is delicious, super close, and super cheap. You get awesome soup and a cream puff for $4.85. The first time we went I had the veggie and Brent had one of their beef based soups (all of them are beef based except the veggie), and both of us agreed the veggie is way better.

The fact that it has veggies has me convinced that eating this 5 times a week is totally ok. Tofu, veggies, savory broth. Heaven in a bowl. Oh, and apparently the owner’s wife makes those cream puffs (pictured above the soup), which come free with every soup. I’m not actually sure she still does, not that they have 13 restaurants, but regardless, I could totally eat about a dozen.

This isn’t really a restaurant review. I guess I don’t really consider this a restaurant. It’s a sit down place. But mostly they just take your order, quickly bring your food and leave you alone to enjoy the deliciousness. It kind of reminds me of a cafeteria, but I have no complaints about that at all.

Guess what we’re doing this weekend! The Seattle Food and Wine Experience! Yay! And it’s only 3 blocks from my house. I am too ridiculously excited. Wine and food and beer and coffee! Ahh! I will report back on Monday. 🙂

A Taste of Home

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I love Chicago. I mean, I’m falling in love with Seattle now, but I will always love Chicago. One thing I love about Chicago is deep dish pizza. I understand there is controversy about pizza variations, but I’m thankful I’m from Chicago and grew up loving deep dish. My husband did not. He’s kind of offended by it. It’s not that he hates it, but it’s that he very much share’s Anthony Bourdain’s opinion on the subject: “It may be tasty but it is most definitely not pizza.” False. It’s pizza. More than that, it’s the best kind of pizza. And I seriously love it.

I eat Lou Malnati’s spinach deep dish nearly every time I go home, but that’s probably going to be happening a whole lot less now that I live 2000+ miles away. The obvious solution is to find amazing and delicious pizza here in Seattle, but you would be surprised how difficult that is. We’ve tried a few super highly rated pizza places around here and been decidedly underwhelmed by everything we’ve encountered there.

We were in luck on Saturday, however, because we made our way to a new neighborhood. We were in Fremont enjoying some beer at Fremont Brewing (amazing beer, by the way), and when it came time for dinner, we turned to Yelp and searched by nearby restaurants. As luck should have it, Kylie’s Chicago Pizza was a few blocks away. I was excited to try it, but also a bit hesitant. I don’t know who Kylie is, and didn’t know what credentials she had to be claiming to make real Chicago pizza in a funky neighborhood in Seattle. But the possibility had to be explored.

What I found was not my all-time favorite pizza. That title will always belong to Lou’s spinach, but I was pleasantly surprised to find more than a decent facsimile in my new city. 🙂 We started with a green salad, which we ordered more to take up the time while we waited the half hour for our pizza to be ready.

For the main event, we went with the Chicago Classic, with sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I was judging this pizza pretty harshly as we were eating. It was bound to happen, given my passion for authentic deep dish. The tomatoes weren’t fresh like Lou’s. The mushrooms were the canned variety (a true pizza horror), and I much prefer Lou’s flaky crust. Even with all that though, the pizza was delicious.

It may not be Lou’s, but it’s the best I’ve had on the west coast, and it will make a perfect location to return to when I’m feeling a bit homesick.

Oh, and you know what the best part of any deep dish is? The leftovers. It reheats way better than any other type of pizza! I got to enjoy this meal two days in a row. 🙂

Question: Do you have any fierce food loyalties?

Amazing Thai Cuisine

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Guest Post from Victoria’s husband, Brent.

After four years in staid Fort Wayne, Victoria and I were excited to experience the cultural thrills of cosmopolitan Seattle. So, the day after arriving, what did we do? We went to the mall.

Now, metropolitan Seattle is surrounded by water. Even after only a few days, you realize that this quite effectively segregates the residents; the side of the water you live on correlates well with the restaurants you frequent. We live south of the bay. Visiting the mall, north of the bay, had the happy side effect of exposing us to a new restaurant.

Around lunch time, after a little light internet searching, we decided to eat at Amazing Thai of Seattle. The restaurant lived up to its name. I thought it was the best Thai food I’ve ever had. Admittedly, I have no frame of reference; it’s possible that this was an average Thai restaurant in Seattle. By Fort Wayne standards, it was five stars.

We started with some soup. I do not know what was in it.

We then split some spring rolls:

Victoria had the Pad Thai. Kind of a boring choice, but it had amazing wok hei. The restaurant lets you choose your spice from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the spiciest. Victoria had the 2, and claims she could’ve gone 3 (but I have my doubts).

I had the gaeng phet ped yang, which was BBQ duck in a red curry sauce (4 stars of spice). It was amazing (at least to my Fort Wayne taste buds).

We highly recommend Amazing Thai:

5210 Roosevelt NE Suite B

Seattle, WA 98105

“Damn rapini, you bitter as hell”

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The above quote was said by me while eating lunch today. But before I get to that, thank you for the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful day ending in a sushi dinner that involved me stuffing my face with tuna sashimi and avocado rolls. Couldn’t ask for better, right?

Today, I woke up at the super early hour of 8:30am and started doing some laundry. I waited a bit for Brent to get out of bed. He has a super annoying habit of reading his iPhone in bed for at least half an hour before he actually gets out of bed. I don’t know why this annoys me so much, but it totes does. Once it became apparent he would not be joining me downstairs anytime soon, I made breakfast for myself: a faux “English muffin” made on the cast-iron griddle using half whole-wheat artisan bread dough, sandwiched with a fried egg and smoked provolone, along with a bowl of fruit salad using what was left in the fridge.

Brent and I planned to attend Buskerfest in downtown Fort Wayne this afternoon, and to combine it with a workout, we decided to walk there – downtown is about 5 miles from our house. I’m leaving for Chicago for a week starting tomorrow, so I figured I should try to eat the rest of the produce left in the fridge before I left. For “lunch” Brent sauteed some rapini (broccoli rabe) with olive oil and garlic, and I topped that with roasted beets and goat cheese. Ummm, beets and goat cheese are obviously amazeballs, but this rapini? Not so much. Like the title of the post says “bitter as hell.” Sometimes I talk smack to my food – I’m gangsta like that. I ate most of it, but I don’t think it’ll be making a repeat appearance. Lunch also included an iced coffee. Caffeine was necessary before our long walk.

Then we embarked on our trek downtown. The weather was so much more tolerable than it’s been lately! It was about 80 degrees and super sunny, but we took water with us. Here are some of the shots from our trip. (Everything here on out is courtesy of the iPhone camera.)

Blogworld, meet downtown Fort Wayne:

Look, tall buildings! Shocking, right? That might be a bit uncalled for, but sometimes Fort Wayne really brings out the saracasm in me. We arrived at Buskerfest and watched a few of the performers.

That lunchtime salad did not really hold me over and after 5 miles, I was feeling a bit hungry, so we headed to one of our favorite places in the Fort, J.K. O’Donnell’s. We each got a half-pint of one of the rotating taps, Goose Island “Sofie” – a Belgian Style Saison. I was in love with this beer, and I love that they offer half-pints. Although, after the sandwich, we each ordered another half-pint, but it made me feel like I was drinking less.

We also split the Smoked Salmon Club, served with “chips.” The sandwich is slices of smoked salmon, arugula, bacon and tomato chutney on pumpernickel bread. Unfortunately, they were out of arugula and gave us spinach instead. Totes fine, but the arugula was missed. It adds more flava. This sandwich is always a winner though. I love that tomato chutney.

After another street performance, we made the hike back to the house. It seemed wayyyy hotter on the way back. I spent the last few miles really looking forward to the A/C and the couch! After a bit of relaxation, I started making dinner. Hmmm, when you write a post about all your meals, it really seems like you do nothing but think about food, huh? Anyway, dinner was more of that half whole wheat artisan dough, flattened into pizza dough and topped with some leftover sun-dried tomato pesto.

Then I topped it with three (yes -3!!) cheeses: mozzarella, goat cheese, and Parmesan. I’m a daredevil, I know.

After 12 long minutes in the oven, I was able to enjoy this:

It was insanely delicious. I’m on the couch with a beer and Revolutionary Road playing now, and I think I’m going to bed early, but I wanted to leave you with a funny photo of Larry running like crazy through my in-laws garden (they have a huge 7 acre property).

His flapping, flying ears crack me up!

Weeknight Date

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Today was gorgeous in Fort Wayne! Nearly 60 degree and sunny and flowers are starting to bloom! My appetite was still a bit wonky this morning. I couldn’t decide what to eat for breakfast and I didn’t really feel like making anything so I just reheated some channa masala from last night. Along with some coffee it made a delicious, if slightly nontraditional, breakfast.

I spent most of the day studying for my maternity class, making bread, and taking walks.  For lunch I, again, didn’t feel like putting much effort into preparing something. I heated up a Morningstar Riblet (I can’t decide if I like these), and made and salad with spring mix, carrots, cucumbers, red bell pepper, roasted beets, olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. The riblet is certainly not attractive, but it was easy.

While I was eating lunch, I had two loaves of whole wheat bread baking in the oven. One for Brent’s breakfasts and one for the freezer. I just love the smell of baking bread!

After an hour and a half of daydreaming/walking this afternoon, I started making dinner. I made Mushroom Barley Soup, which was quite good. I had a bowl along with the heel of one of the loaves. It makes such good toast!

A little while after dinner Brent and I took a 30 minute walk to 800 Degrees for some drinks. I had a pint of Rogue Dead Guy Ale and we split the bruschetta, which was so delicious! It came with lots of pesto, which is one of my current favorite things. I love midweek date nights! 🙂 After another walk, we’re back home and on the couch watching Lost. Gotta go!

My Rarefied Hobby

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Oops. I kind of left you all hanging for Day 4, huh? Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. I don’t really have pictures from Day 4 anyway. It was an afternoon Cubs game followed by some beer and me crashing early because we had a flight to catch the next morning. Nothing was overly spectacular or memorable about that day, except that it was freaking hot and our seats for the game were in the sun and I thought I was being boiled alive.

Let’s speed up to present day, shall we? Last week was kind of a bust as far as blogging goes. Brent was out of town on business Tuesday through Friday and cooking for myself has never really inspired me, so I mostly ate pasta with marinara and some salads. Brent had plans this weekend to spend time in Chicago with some friends, so when his flight landed Friday morning and he was preparing to leave again, I figured I had had enough of being alone and I went with him and hung out at my parents’ house for the weekend. Again, pretty uninteresting as far as blogging goes.

This week I’ve been cleaning and cooking up a storm in preparation for the start of the semester on Monday. My freezer is stocked and my house is much cleaner than normal but when Brent got home tonight I was physically and mentally exhausted and in no mood to cook more. Brent suggested we go to a new pizza place that just opened near our house. We’ve been waiting for 800 Degrees to open since we first saw the “Coming Soon” signs.

We split a Misto Salad and their signature pizza with Italian Sausage and Ricotta. The food was excellent. The atmosphere was not. It was more “Chuck E Cheese”-like inside than I was expecting — lots of screaming kids and a big birthday party going on. We decided to move to the outdoor seating area and I was much happier. I was starving so ignore the huge bite taken from the pizza slice. 🙂

-1The salad was impressive and the pizza was tasty. There were a lot of other pizza combinations I’d like to try, so I’m sure we’ll be going back.

Brent likes to make fun of my “old-timey hobby” of cooking from scratch and when he tells people I make all our bread, they’re generally pretty surprised. He was telling me about this article by Michael Pollan, which includes an interview with Harry Belzer, a food-marketing researcher. Brent told me as I was making pierogies from scratch last night that so few people do what I was doing that they could not even track the percentage. From Pollan’s article:

I kept asking him what his research had to say about the prevalence of the activity I referred to as “real scratch cooking,” but he wouldn’t touch the term. Why? Apparently the activity has become so rarefied as to elude his tools of measurement.

I don’t think of cooking the way I do as too much out of the ordinary, but considering I know no one in my real life who does the same I guess I can believe it is.