Tag Archives: fall

Tacoma Soup Picnic

We are in love with a Tacoma soup counter called Infinite Soups. It’s such good food, it’s hard not to lick the last traces of soup from the container. I imagine their soup is the perfect lunch for the downtown Tacoma worker. Since we don’t live or work close enough, we use every visit to Tacoma as an excuse to pick up some soup.

Since there is no seating, we use any dry day in Tacoma as an excuse for a soup picnic. Luckily, Wright Park is just up the street.


chipotle cream

They post their daily soup picks on Facebook (in creamy and non-creamy options that contain meat as well as vegetarian and vegan). There are so many choices it can be hard to choose, but they are generous with the samples.

We have never sampled a flavor we didn’t like.


potato green chile

Wright Park has been around since 1890.


white birch

It’s full of some of our favorite trees.

Late fall means naked trees showing off their woody skeletons, or in this case revealing giant seed pods, perhaps?

No 19th century park is complete without lions.

Or cannons.


strawberry rum ball & valhalla brownie

And if you need dessert, Corina Bakery is just around the corner.

2 Comments

Filed under fall, food

Thanksgiving for busy people

I love nothing more than cooking an elaborate Thanksgiving meal with the works. That won’t be happening this year, though. The 911 center doesn’t close on holidays, so I will be working my usual 10 hour shift. It’s okay, I love holiday pay, and even though we won’t make it up north to visit the extended family, I will be home early enough to make a few dishes and join some friends for dinner.

Here’s what we’ll be making:

We’ll be the only vegetarians in attendance, so we’re bringing our own Tofurky. We like the simple roast, without the extras. It’s much better with homemade gravy.

Here’s an old picture of my homemade vegan gravy. This recipe has evolved over the years, and I might just have a few tricks up my sleeve. True story: the day Jess and I met I cooked my vegan biscuits and gravy. It’s on my list to write a recipe zine next year that includes this recipe.


Photo via Real Simple

Of course we will also need to bring meat-free stuffing. Last year we tried Real Simple’s Cheddar and Jalapeño Stuffing, and I suspect we’ll be making every year going forward. Italian bread, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, and lager beer – need I say more?


Photo via BHG

I’m dying to try this recipe for Creamy Green Beans with Crispy Shallots from Better Homes and Gardens. Due to time limitations, we’ll be going for the all-American green bean casserole from the recipe on the french fried onion can. I’m hoping we can try the crispy shallot recipe sometime over the holidays. I love a good green bean casserole. It has to be even better from scratch, right?


Photo via Epicurious

And of course I have to bring some pecan pie. I’ll probably be making three of these, one for work and two for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m going to try this recipe from Epicurious, although I’m omitting the orange zest. I already messed up one dessert with orange zest earlier this year.

A few Thanksgiving links

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving full of incredible food. Now I better get to the store before they sell out of pecans!

6 Comments

Filed under food, holidays, traditions

Levi, Lenora, and the Blue Hubbard

I didn’t exactly plan on showing you several shots of the same squash, but somehow I just really enjoyed this series of Levi & our biggest Blue Hubbard. Most of our squashes are just cute little things, so this guy looks like a monstrosity. Apparently these suckers can be up to 40 pounds. Ours is a modest 13-pounder.

Leave it to Lenora to steal the show.

4 Comments

Filed under chickens, family, garden

Autumnal Cupcakes!

We have mentioned how much we love Cupcake Royale, and you know we’re crazy about pumpkin. So when you combine the two, we suddenly find an irresistible reason to drive to Seattle. Behold! Pumpkin cardamom cupcakes!

Pumpkin goes well with all the spices you find in pumpkin pie, but it wasn’t just cinnamon, allspice and clove. The cardamom elevates this cupcake to another level. I’ve eaten a lot of pumpkin-flavored baked goods, and this was an especially tender and delicious morsel.

Oh, but that’s not all. Cupcake Royale must have been struck by a lightning bolt of genius recently. They have a tiramisu cupcake that can be ordered affogato. The traditional affogato is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with espresso poured over it. We’ve been affogato fans for quite some time. However, Cupcake Royale takes a delicious tiramisu cupcake and drowns it in espresso.

From the moment I heard about the cupcake affogato, I thought it sounded like a good idea. It’s hard to explain how much of a very, very good idea this is. The cupcake soaks up the espresso like a ladyfinger. The icing is mascarpone mixed with Stumptown coffee – a great companion for the coffee-soaked cake. So, basically, there’s nothing about this cupcake that isn’t awesome.

These cupcakes make me want to wear a plaid scarf and my favorite legwarmers while I walk through a big pile of autumn leaves.

xoxo,
Jess

3 Comments

Filed under fall, food

our fall tradition: the local cider mill

Every October we head over to nearby Lattin’s Country Cider Mill. There’s a pumpkin patch, an apple slingshot, tractor-pulled wagon rides, and all the adorable farm animals you can handle. The real reason we go (and the teenager still comes with us): fresh from the fryer apple fritters.

This year and last we ended up going on the weekend, which means a lot of patience and determination are required. People for miles around know about these fritters. First you wait in a long, slow line to pay for the fritters. Then you get a number and have to wait with a crowd of people until yours are ready and your number is called. We figured out a couple years ago how to pass the time: apple cider slushies!


Apple cider goodness in slushy form. Genius.


Levi & Jess saved their appetites and got smalls. I went for the large. No regrets!

The other way to pass time while waiting for your fritters is to watch them being made. It is mesmerizing. They have them already prepped, and then lower entire trays directly into the fryer. Then they stay nearby with what look like giant chopsticks to flip them over when the first side is golden brown. Once they are pulled out they dump them off the tray and literally pour a pitcher of glaze over them.

The glaze melts before your eyes and the gleaming apple fritters are ready to go. Once we have our bag of fritters in hand, we make a beeline to the nearest spot to sit outside and eat them while they are still nice and warm.

Levi took the first bite and declared that not only were they worth the wait, they would be worth 10 times that wait. Then he did the math and we decided maybe they wouldn’t be worth that long a wait, but they most certainly were worth the 30 or 40 minutes we waited and then some.


Warm and gooey sweetness with bits of fresh apple. There is nothing quite like it.


I have no idea how Levi made himself this short but I appreciated it.

There is so much to see and do. I’m so glad we were able to fit this into our busy weekend. A few more highlights:

4 Comments

Filed under fall, family, traditions

what to do with all that squash

Goodbye tomatoes. Hello squash!

Somehow our plant only produced one of these gorgeous sweet meat squashes. So what in the world should we make with it?

Confession: neither of us liked squash as kids. The older I get, the more I like squash. These days there are a handful of squash varieties I absolutely love. I suspect that list is going to grow. So now that we have squash on the brain, how about a little SQUASH LINK LIST:

9 Comments

Filed under fall, food

this week’s food porn round-up

Finally, the weekend is here! Let’s make something. Here’s a list of the recipes catching our attention this week.

Holy crap, it’s a Smoretini


(photo via Creative Culinary)

This Pumpkin Curry with Chickpeas is getting added to the top of the ol’ meal planning list.


(photo via BBC Good Food)

I wouldn’t mind a piece of this Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread.


(photo via Sunny Side Up in San Diego)

Ginger liqueur + vanilla liqueur + club soda + Guinness = a Guinness Cream Soda


(photo via CHOW)

A Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Yes, please!


(Photo via BS’ in the Kitchen)

Tips for brewing better mulled cider. I’ll give you a hint – one tip is to toast your own spices!


(photo via Serious Eats)

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new vegetable sides for dinner. I’m loving the idea of this grilled cabbage with spicy lime vinaigrette.


(photo via The Kitchn)

How about an Earl Grey MarTEAni?


(photo via The Kitchn)

Last, but certainly not least: Pumpkin & Brown Butter Blondies

(Photo via Raspberri Cupcakes)

10 Comments

Filed under food

pumpkin chocolate chip baked oatmeal

Happy first day of fall, y’all! This is worthy of celebration, so we decided to make a breakfast of our favorite fall flavor combination: pumpkin & chocolate.

pumpkin chocolate chip baked oatmeal

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
2-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups milk (soy, nut, or dairy)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons maple extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter a 9X13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and 3/4 cup each of the walnuts and chocolate chips. Reserve the remaining quarter cup each of walnuts and chocolate chips to sprinkle on top at the end.

In another large bowl whisk the pumpkin, milk, eggs, and maple extract until combined. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and fold until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the reserved nuts and chocolate chips over the top. Bake until golden on top and no longer jiggly, about 35-40 minutes.

Makes 9 generous servings. Serve warm (after cooling for 10-15 minutes) or reheat in the microwave with a little milk.

This is not quite dessert for breakfast, because it is really just sweet enough. It’s kind of like pumpkin pie and a healthy bowl of oatmeal had a baby, with the richness of chocolate and some walnuts for a little crunch. Levi was the first to try it this morning before school, and he dubbed it “really good” on a scale of good to really good. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since he doesn’t often get chocolate for breakfast.

And how about a link list in honor of the first day of fall?

11 Comments

Filed under food

Extended tomato season

I don’t think it’s any secret that we love growing tomatoes. We live in the pacific northwest, so growing a single tomato requires luck, strategy, the right tomato varieties, cooperating weather and maybe a little magic. Our backyard tomatoes are treated like precious treasures.

In 2009, by some fluke, we harvested more than we could handle. It was insane. Our tomatoes were their own kingdom.

In 2010, we suffered some major challenges and I harvested exactly one cherry tomato from a raised bed of blighted tomatoes. Two contributing factors were terrible weather and us not realizing our new front yard got so many visiting deer. And then we got late blight! Ha ha… I can laugh now. This year, I planted tomatoes in many places so they couldn’t share their blight. We picked out something like 14 varieties of tomatoes to stack the odds against most conceivable tomato maladies. We tucked tomatoes into containers, self-irrigating planters, and mounded bed systems. It seemed like we were behind all season, but that’s why gardeners should keep records. Our first 2011 tomato ripened only 17 days after our earliest 2009 tomato, despite our record-breaking cold, wet spring. We’re regularly harvesting lots of tomatoes every week now. Our weather is stuck in a low-gear of summer; daytime temps have been in the 70s, nights are in the 40s or 50s. It’s not ideal for growing tomatoes, but it’s enough extra time to vine ripen them. I don’t know how long this weather will last, but I’ll keep harvesting as long as they keep ripening. We’ve been eating a lot of pico, TLT (tempeh+lettuce+tomato) sandwiches, and canning sauce, salsa and tomato jam for the dark days to come.

Our kitchen counter:

Isis Candy cherry tomatoes:

Jaune Flamme tomatoes:

We wouldn’t complain if the tomatoes just kept coming at a steady pace until Christmas.

7 Comments

Filed under fall, food, garden

Autumnal

Levi is six feet tall, taller than his mom now. High school life suits him. Flannel shirt season suits him.

He’s reading The Count of Monte Cristo for school. It’s the first time he’s read a book for school that I haven’t read before. I hope the wikipedia entry is good so I can hold up my end of the conversation. I have an idea that we should make vegetarian monte cristo sandwiches when this 1500 page book is finally finished, but Levi says that monte cristo sandwiches are just too much. For those of you who have never had one, the monte cristo varies regionally but usually includes some sort of ham and turkey and swiss cheese on french toast bread. It is often accompanied by a side of jam, powdered sugar, clotted cream, yogurt, maple syrup or sweet mustard sauce. I heard people in NY actually eat it with thousand island dressing but that seems too gross to comprehend. No one in our family has ever eaten one, so we’re all hypothesizing about the ridiculousness. I think there is potential. The Chicago Diner serves a vegetarian (with a vegan option) monte cristo, and I fully believe that they wouldn’t serve it if it wasn’t delicious, so I think it could be great. It could be like Man versus Food, but Gay Vegetarians and a Teenage Son vs. Food. Or it could be disgusting.

We do love weird sandwiches around here lately. We like the peanut satay sandwich a lot, although I know it might be challenging to make if you live in England where they aren’t big on quality peanut butter. If you’re on this side of the ocean, however, you have no excuse not to make this… except extraordinary peanut allergies. This sandwich is magic.

I’m also completely obsessed with the grilled kimcheese sandwich that Krista discovered. It’s spicy. It’s cheesy. I never imagined such a simple, weird ingredient combo bringing so much joy to my face. I have dreams about this sandwich. I wish we ate it every week.

Martha Stewart had a crazy weird grilled cheese sandwich feature in her magazine last month, and I would like to cook straight through it except for the meaty options. I’m not sure what it is about the autumn leaves hitting the ground, but it makes me start to wonder if manchego is a good pairing for grilled pears or what would happen if Gruyère met pesto or arugula, but it happens. Please share your favorite weird/simple sandwiches with me.

5 Comments

Filed under fall, family