Friday, March 6, 2015

Old Photo Friday: All Aboard

WHO: Stacy Dare Brady
WHAT: Toddler and train lover
WHERE: Springfield, OR (I believe this choo-choo was at the local grocery store)
WHEN: April 1971 (age 2)

All aboard!!  As this posts today, I'll make my way down to the Amtrak Station in Portland for my weekly commute to Seattle.  People ask me if I ever tire of the journey, but I suppose it's just in my blood.  My first big trip away from home was at 11 months on the train from Eugene to Seattle.  This June will mark 11 years of regular commuting between Portland and Seattle aboard the Amtrak Cascades

My journey on the rails was inherited.  My paternal great-grandfather and maternal grandfather were both engineers (or hogheads).  My maternal grandma worked for Southern Pacific railroad most of her working life, including being an original "call girl" at the round house in Oakridge, OR (she rounded up the engineers for jobs prior to telephones).

I would encourage those who have never ridden a train to explore trip options at  This week, in a rare bipartisan vote, the house approved an Amtrak funding bill that will keep trains running for another 4 years (in addition to allowing some pets to ride along on the intercity passenger rail service).


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Egg...stra Special!?

Is it just me, or is the new food trend to place a perfectly fried egg on top of everything?  
To me, everything just tastes better with a fried egg on top!

In reality, there is nothing new or trendy about finishing off a dish with a friend egg.  I've seen fried eggs on top of burgers, pizzas, pasta and salads for years.

Koreans top kimchi with eggs.  Brazilians place a runny egg over steak. In Spain, I'll take my fried egg over rice and tomato sauce, please.  And...let's NOT forget what the do in Hawaii!!!

In addition to adding a decorative touch, eggs act as a flavor emulsifier and add protein to dishes...especially vegetarian fare.

Here are two dishes that I found which showcase the incredible...edible egg.



Warm Spinach Salad with Fried Egg


4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
2 bunches flat leaf spinach, stems removed, leaves washed and torn
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs


In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat.  Add potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until potatoes are tender and browned, 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil with the vinegar, mustard and shallot.  season with salt and pepper.  Whisk to combine.  Add spinach and cheese (but do NOT toss); set aside.

When potatoes are done cooking, immediately transfer to the bowl with the spinach.  Toss salad until the spinach is slightly wilted, then divide among four plates.

Heat skillet that you cooked potatoes in over medium-high heat and gently crack the eggs in the skillet (I like to only cook 2 at a time).  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the egg white are almost set, about 2 minutes.  Cover and turn off heat, and let stand until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny, about 1-2 minutes more.  Top each salad with a fried egg and serve immediately.

Poletna with Mushroom Ragu and a Fried Egg


1 cup Polenta
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced 
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1 spring fresh rosemary, chopped
2 springs, fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or dry white wine)
2 eggs



Bring 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer in a sauce pan.

When liquid is simmering, stir in the polenta.  Whisk until it is incorporated.  Reduce heat slightly and let the polenta bubble gently.

Stir and scrape the sides of the pan occasionally, allowing the polenta to cook, about 30-40 minutes or until thick and creamy.

(While polenta is cooking, start the mushroom ragu)

Once the polenta is done, turn off the heat.  Whisk in the butter, milk and cheese.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, but keep on the bland side (the mushroom and egg will add flavor).

Mushroom ragu

Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat.  Add all but 1 clove of garlic and the shallots, cooking for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.

When the mushrooms have browned, add the fresh herbs, them tomato paste and stir.  Add the vegetable stock or wine and remaining garlic clove (you may need to add a bit more wine or broth).  Once sauce is mixed together, simmer on low.

Heat saute pan over medium-high heat and gently crack the eggs in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the egg white are almost set, about 2 minutes.  Cover and turn off heat, and let stand until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny, about 1-2 minutes more.  

To serve; scoop some polenta in the center of a plate or bowl.  Top with once scoop of ragu and add egg on top.  Dust with tablespoon of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

9/52: Harbor Seal Sighting in West Seattle

What an amazing treat to finally see a baby seal pup resting on the beach at Lincoln Park.  Seal pup birthing season is June through September (but they can be born as early as April).  This little guy is probably 5 or 6 months old, born last fall we suspect.

Harbor seal pups haul themselves out of the water to rest and enjoy the sunshine.  Brian was walking on the beach about 100 yards away from him when a passerby asked him to move off the beach.

There is a network of "Seal Sitters" who comb the beach regularly to assist in protecting these delicate creatures.  Only 50% of harbor seals survive their first year.  If you come across a seal, you are asked to call the seal sitters immediately.  Several people on the beach were already calling the sitters when we arrived.

It's a law that you must never touch a seal and dogs are strictly forbidden on the beach in this area.

It was amazing to just watch this little guy and snap a few pictures.

It was another beautiful and unseasonable weekend in the Pacific Northwest. On Thursday it was announced that we had our warmest winter ever on record.

We enjoyed the blue skies by walking through Lincoln Park both Saturday and Sunday for a total of over 5 miles combined.

As you can see by the video below, Saturday was a bit breezy resulting in some pounding waves.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome March 2015

Welcome Monday and welcome March!

Did I mention that March is once of my favorite months?  Spring has sprung early this year in the Pacific Northwest.  New produce and fresher items are all over the grocery stores.  It won't be long before the first of our Farmer's Markets are open for the season.

Here is our menu for the week ahead and remember to check out Laura's site for more menu planning ideas.



Monday: Fend for yourself!  Chick has a business dinner out.
Tuesday: Meatless Monday (on Tuesday) Mushroom Ragu over Grilled Polenta and a Garden Salad
Wednesday: Skirt Steak with German Potato Salad
Thursday: WW Blue Cheese Chicken Burgers

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Homemade Chai

Nothing is more comforting that a steaming cup of chai tea.  Brian always comments that the house takes on this exotic and intoxicating smell.  He asked me the other day, is chai it's own spice and you know I really did not know the answer.

Masala Chai, literally means, "mixed-spice tea" and is a flavored tea beverage made by brewing black team with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs.

Originating in India, the beverage has gained worldwide popularity, becoming a feature in many coffee and tea houses.  It's traditionally prepared by a concoctions of green cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorns together with black tea leaves. 

In many Eurasian languages, chai is the word for tea.  This comes from the Persian chay, which originated from the Chinese works for tea, cha.

Making spiced tea from scratch is easier than you might think.


Homemade Chai


1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cardamon pods, lightly crushed
6 whole cloves
1 piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon, whole black peppercorns
2 single-serve black tea bags or 1 tablespoon losse black tea
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk


Place cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorns and 3 cups water into a small pot and bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to let steep for 10 minutes.

Return pot to the heat and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add tea then cover and set aside to steep for 3-5 minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer, discarding solids, then return liquid to the pot. Stir in sugar and milk and heat over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Pour into cups and serve.