Sunday, June 29, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome July!

Welcome Monday and welcome July!

We have a super fun, super busy and super short (work week) ahead!  We've got a road trip to Seattle for the 4th of July holiday that we are really looking forward too.

Not much cooking this week, but a whole lot of fun!  Check out Laura's website for more menu planning ideas.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!


Sunday:  BBQ/Smoked Tri Tip Roast with Creamy Herb Potato Salad and Corn on the Cob
Monday:  Garden Burgers with Tater Tots (Meatless Monday)
Tuesday: Shrimp Tacos with Lime Slaw
Wednesday: Wine Wednesday and Dinner at Duos Lounge in West Seattle
Thursday: Cooking something nice for my sweet guy and I??
HAPPY 4TH:  BBQ at Mom and Kenny's
Saturday: Brunch at Hudson's; an afternoon on the patio in West Seattle, perhaps a BBQ later

Saturday, June 28, 2014

27/52: The Summer Solstice

The first day of summer....the longest day or the year.....the summer solstice!

Sunrise 5:12 AM and sunset at 9:12 PM.

A 2.63 mile walk through Lincoln Park completed just before 9:00 AM.

A family of chickadees are living in one of our birdhouses in the backyard cherry tree.  From sun up to sun down the babies chirp for food as mommy and daddy chickadee fly in and out of the house.

In the early afternoon, wine on the patio.

Our patio is always one of my happiest places!

As the sunset hour approached, we took a walk up to Solstice Park to celebrate the solstice.

Welcome Summer!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Stacy by the Pool

WHO: Stacy Dare Brady (my Dad wrote on the picture...Stacy by the pool)
WHAT: Ready for a swim
WHERE: E Street in Springfield, OR
WHEN: Summer 1978/79 - I look to be about 9 or 10

This time of year is bitter sweet for me.  Local kids just finished the school year here in Portland and it always reminds me of my youth.  Summers for me were so magical.  Filled with lazy days, bike rides, sleeping outside, playing all day and always.....swimming at E street.  Growing up with a swimming pool in my backyard made summer....summer.


Songs from the summer of 1978.......

Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing
Bee Gees - Night Fever
Player - Baby Come Back
Frankie Valli - Grease
Wings - With a Little Luck
Bonnie Tyler - It's a Heartache
ABBA - Take a Chance on Me
Donna Summer - Last Dance
Kansas - Dust in The Wind
Pablo Cruise - Love Will Find a Way
Little River Band - Reminiscing
Eddie Money - Baby Hold On 
Bob Welch - Sentimental Lady
ELO - Sweet Talking Woman
Jackson Browne - Running on Empty


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Extra Virgin - Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

I absolutely adore, Debi Mazar and her husband, Gabriele Corcos...otherwise known as the dynamic duo behind the website, Under the Tuscan Gun and The Cooking Channel's, Extra Virgin. 

Married in 2002 the family divides its time between Brooklyn, NY (Mazur's a native New Yorker) and a 14th century house outside of Florence, Italy (Corcos's in-law's gave them for a wedding present).  

I've been a loyal fan of Extra Virgin since its debut January 2011 and recently they released a cookbook, Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen in April 2014.

Last Thursday night, I made Spaghetti Alla Carbonara from S-C-R-A-T-C-H!!!  It was fabulous! I can't wait to cook my way through the entire cookbook.


Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
Slightly Adapted from Under the Tuscan Gun


8 oz. pancetta, diced
olive oil 3 tablespoons, divided
1 lb spaghetti
3 large organic egg yolks, plus one whole organic egg
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
ground pepper


Cook the pancetta in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat, until crisp.  Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside (I drained fat, they do not). 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and whole egg, the grated cheese and some black pepper.  Add the cooled pancetta to the egg mixture.

Once your pasta has been cooked, drain and place it in a large bowl.  Quickly add the egg mixture and mix very well, then add the rest of the pasta water to help create the creaminess of the pasta.

Serve garnished with some grated Parmesan and a drip or two of extra virgin olive oil.

My Notes:  I drained my pancetta after cooking (I had about 1/2 cup of fat after rendering it down and I didn't want to add that to my pasta).  Extra Virgin recipe says to NOT drain fat.

I tempered the egg mixture with about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then added about 2 tablespoons to the pasta when mixing.  In my opinion, tempering the eggs prevents them from scrambling when adding to the hot pasta (which I had had happen before and I really screws up your dish).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

26/52: How does your garden grow?

It's been a frustrating start to the garden this year.

Our weather has been incredible with not much rain and more abundant sunshine than our last two May/Junes.

My broccoli loved it so much, it bolted!  No heads just long shoots that would flower in 24/48 hours if not snipped.  What gives?  Perhaps it was too warm?  I've had better luck in the fall.

Just in case we don't have enough tomatoes (three plants in Seattle) addition to my two early girls in Portland, I planted a yellow pair tomato in a pot on a whim.  The blooms on the tomatoes are just starting to appear.  It will most likely be 6-8 weeks until I am actually picking anything.

I finally found a good sized basil plant along with oregano and rosemary. 

It was a disappointing blow that my rosemary bush of two years did not survive last winter.  Once again we start over!

My spring onions look good.  I might start to harvest a few just after July 4th.

Finally, I removed two broccoli plants and added an acorn squash.  I've had mixed results with squash, but nothing tastes better than acorn squash roasted on a cool October evening.

How does your garden grow?


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: June 23-26, 2014

Welcome Monday and to the first full week of Summer!  

We have a new Traeger BBQ Grill and Smoker and I am going to grill and smoke a few things this week. 

Traeger Wood Pellet Grills started in Oregon in the 1990's.  For years, the grills were offered in limited quantities and geographic ares, but more people are buying them and having them shipped all over because the quality of the finished product.

I am excited to try my hand at smoking meats over the summer!

How are you enjoying the start of summer?

Remember to check out Laura's website for more menus and planning ideas.


Monday: Grilled Salmon with A Big Garden Salad
Tuesday: Weight Watchers Asparagus Fettucine
Wednesday: Shrimp and Jack Quesadillas
Thursday: Weight Watchers Hamburgers, with Tator Tots
Friday: Grilled Sirloin Steaks, Caesar Salad and 1/2 Baked Potato
Saturday: Yard Work Party!!  Pizza
Sunday:  Smoked Tri Tip, Creamy Herbed Potato Salad and Corn on the Cob

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Do you hear what I hear?

My MP3 player is on its last leg, but before I give up and buy a new are my most recent downloads.


Southern Son
Boy & Bear

An Australian indie rock-folk band formed in 2009 in Sydney.  The release of their second album on August 16, 2013 debuted at #1 on the ARIA charts and hit gold not long after that.  They are currently touring in the UK, Canada and the US.

The Black Keys

American rock duo formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001.  The group consists of Dan Auerbach on guitar and Patrick Carney on drums.  Originally friends from childhood, the founded the group after dropping out of collage.  Turn Blue was released on May 13, 2014 and is their eighth studio album, which debuted at #1 in the US and Australia.

Another Story
The Head and the Heart

Brian and I saw this indie rock band from Seattle perform at the Paramount Theater in September 2012.  The band met at an open mic at the Conor Byrne pub in Ballard.  Their second album "Let's be still" was released in October 2013.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Helen and Marie

WHO: Helen Lucille Watkins Volgamore Cavey and her daughter, Etta Marie Volgamore Brady Suter
WHAT: In the kitchen at Helen's house on Cedar Park Lane
WHERE: Cottage Grove, OR
WHEN: Late 1950's

We spent some time last weekend in the Cottage Grove, OR area where the Watkins Clan made their homes for decades.  My father spent most of his youth living with or nearby his maternal grandmother Helen.  When I was 8, Great-Grandma Cavey (as I called her) spent time at E Street, taking care of me while my father worked rotating shifts at Weyerhauser.  I don't remember much of my father's mother, Marie.  She died shortly after my third birthday.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Bahian Shrimp in Coconut Cashew Sauce - Vatapá

The 2014 FIFA World Cup began last week in Brazil.  It runs from June 12 to July 13 and hosts 32 teams from around the globe.

Brazilian cuisine has European and African influences.  It varies greatly by region reflecting the country's mix of native and immigrant inhabitants.  European immigrants primarily from Portugal, Italy, Spain and Germany brought wine, leaf vegetables and dairy.  African slaves also helped develop Brazilian cuisine especially in the coastal states.  Root vegetables, yams, and fruits like mango, orange and pineapple are local ingredients used in cooking. Popular dishes include beans and rice, a staple on every families table along with pasta.  The national beverage is coffee and cachaca, Brazil's native liquor, distilled from sugar cane.

This is a famous Afro-Brazilliam dish from the city a Bahia.  It's a kind of shrimp curry, with a sauce made from onions, coconut milk, peanuts and cashews then thickened with bread crumbs.  Although the flavors are rich and complex, this dish is simple to prepare using frozen shrimp.


Bahian Shrimp in Coconut Cashew Sauce - Vatapá


2 cups torn white bread
1/2 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
3/4 cup roasted salted cashews
2 cups vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime
1 pound frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large onion
1 red chile pepper, chopped with seeds removed
1 glove garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked rice
Garnish with green onions


Soak the bread pieces in the coconut milk for 10 minutes.  Please in a blender (with milk) and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Grind the peanuts and cashews in a food processor until finely ground.  Set aside

Bring 2 cups of stock to boil.  Add garlic and lime juice.  Add the shrimp and boil until pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove the shrimp and set aside (reserve cooking liquid).

In the same food processor, add the onion, chile pepper and garlic and process until finely chopped.

Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion mixture for about 5 minutes until soft and golden.

Add the ground nuts to the skillet and saute a few minutes more, adding a little oil if necessary.

Add the bread crumb and milk mixture and about 1 1/2 cups of the shrimp cooking liquid to the skillet.  Cook, stirring until the sauce has thickened (about 5 minutes), adding more liquid if necessary.

Add shrimp to sauce and season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm over rice; garnish with green onions

Image found on Google Images 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

25/52: Covered Bridge Tour on Father's Day Weekend

We had a wonderful Father's Day Weekend in Eugene/Springfield.

Saturday we took a road trip tour of covered bridges in the Cottage Grove area. 

Mosby Creek Bridge; constructed in 1920.  This is the oldest bridge in Lane Country and one lane remains open to traffic today (although closed for repairs)

Oregon has the largest collection of covered bridges in the West and once of the largest in the nation.

   The Stewart Bridge constructed in 1930 and restored in 1996

The covered-bridge building tradition in Oregon dates from the 1850's.  Out of necessity, pioneers built with the materials on hand.  Douglas fir was abundant in western Oregon and well-suited for bridge construction.

The heyday of covered bridge building in Oregon occurred between 1905 and 1925 when there were an estimated 450 covered bridges in the state.  By 1977, the number dwindled to 50.

 Chambers Bridge; built in 1925 by lumberman J.H. Chambers.  This is the only remaining covered railroad bridge West of the Mississippi River.  This is the bridge my father "might" have tried to burn down when he was a kid!?

The Currin Bridge was constructed in 1925 and restored in 1995, the bridge features white portals and red sides.

The Dorena Bridge was constructed in 1949 and restored in 1996 

The best part of the day was hearing all my Pop's stories about growing up in the area and getting into some serious trouble when he was a kid.

A final treat was driving up to Grandma Cavey's old homestead.  

This is the barn that my Pop helped build with Grandpa Cavey.  The white building is where they milked the cows.

What a great adventure for Father's Day Weekend!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: Mid June 2014

Welcome to Monday!

We have two splurges on the menu this week.  I've been so hungry for ribs and the first round that I cooked over Memorial Day were disappointing.  I need a do-over!  

Also, I've been dying to try a new recipe from my Extra Virgin Cookbook since it arrived just after my birthday.  A co-worker of Chick's makes his own panchetta so it will be a real treat to cook.

So it's an extra workout week and three really light and health recipes to balance everything out!

Remember to check out Laura's website for more menus and planning ideas.


Sunday: Baby Back Ribs, Cole Slaw and Corn on the Cob
Monday: Weight Watchers Portobello Burgers with Basil Mayo (Meatless Monday)
Tuesday:  Weight Watchers Warm Bean Salsa Chicken with Salad
Wednesday:Fish Sandwich with Tater Tots
Thursday: Extra Virgin Spaghetti Carbonara

Saturday, June 14, 2014

24/52: Happy Anniversary, Baby!

Brian and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last weekend with all sorts of activities!

We had a lovely dinner at the new Bridge Liquor and Food in West Seattle.

Twisted Tamale

Earlier in the day, we went down to Emerald Downs race track in Auburn to watch California Chrome take a shot at history.  Unfortunately, we lost our shirts at the track, but it was a lovely day and thankfully I had tucked money away for dinner.

Sunday it was yard work followed by a walk to Lincoln Park to play Frisbee. Today, I can't move my arm above my head.

Our Patio is officially open for Summer!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Happy Father's Day!

My Father moved through dooms of love
- E.E.Cummings, 1894-1962

My father moved through dooms of love
through same of arm through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

His motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that is so timid air is firm
under his eyes would stir and squirm
Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire to begin
Joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and purse so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice
 And nothing quite so least as truth 
I say, though hate were why men breath
because my Father lived his soul 
love is the whole and more than all. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Recipe of the Week: North African Marinated Skirt Steak

North Africa is the northern most part of Africa along the Mediterranean Sea.  It includes, Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.  Over several centuries traders, travelers, invaders and migrants have influenced the cuisine of North Africa.  The Phoenicians brought sausages.  The Berbers adapted semolina (brought by the Carthaginians) into couscous.  Olives and nuts were introduced before the arrival of the Romans.  From the 7th century onwards, the Arabs introduced spices like saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

In North African cuisine, the most common staples are beef, seafood, goat, lamb, dates, almonds and olives.  

I came across this recipe while going through my back log of recipes.  Although I would love to make it with goat meat....something tells me that Chick would NOT agree.


North African Marinated Skirt Steak


1-1.25 lbs Skirt, Flat Iron or Flank Steak
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 2 lemons
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tbs ground chili powder
1/2 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric

Mix all the ingredients for the marinate in a large bowl or a container with a lid (I use a Ziploc bag).  Add beef turning to coat well with all the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or longer

Remove the beef from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before grilling.

Grill meat until desired temperature is reached.

  • Marinating the beef for 12-24 hours is the key for the flavor.  When time to grill, watch it carefully so that the grill does not flare up and burn the beef.  
  • Marinade also can be used on chicken or fish.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: June 9-12, 2014

Welcome Monday!

I just returned from my third trip since April 24th and I am exhausted, and 13 pounds over weight!  

I promised myself that I would get back on the Weight Watchers plan again and increase my exercise to at least 3-4 days a week.  It's time!

As always, making good food choices is hard, but Weight Watchers makes it easy.  This week's recipes are all tried and true dinners that have great flavor and fit the WW program.

If you have time, hop on over to Laura's site for more menu and organizing ideas!


Monday: Grilled Chicken Skewers with Satay Sauce, Brown Rice and Grilled Asparagus
Tuesday: Weight Watchers Monterey Jack Burgers with Tater Tots
Wednesday: Weight Watchers BBQ Pork Chops, sauteed Zucchini and Quinoa
Thursday: Weight Watchers Beer Soaked Flat Iron Steak with a Big Garden Salad

Saturday, June 7, 2014

23/52: Four Days in Boston

It was an amazing trip to Boston!

We arrived last Friday night and hit the ground running, checking into our Seaport area waterfront hotel and searching for food and beverages (while dodging constant rain showers).

Drinks at Jerry Remy's Sportsbar!  Packed with 20-somethings (Ray Lamontagne concert just down the street).  At least 20 TV's including one TV wall (New England's monster 32 foot HD video wall) playing nothing by sports (sawks, preferably).

Dinner was next door at Legal Seafood Harborside.  A beautiful 3 story bar/restaurant that had a two hour wait for dinner!  Luckily, they had one table for two downstairs that we snagged for dinner.  Afterwards, we checked out floors two and three, opting for a nightcap on level two.

I managed to eat three lobster rolls in 4 days!  Not bad!

On Saturday we had a full day planned.  After breakfast, we started walking the Freedom Trail.

Red socks for the Red Sox game

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long red (mostly brick) path throughout downtown Boston that leads to 16 significant historic sites.  

It ranges from Boston Commons to the USS Constitution.  Simple ground markers explaining events, graveyards, notable churches and other buildings line the trail.  Most sites were free to enter and some had suggestion donations.

 Founded in 1660, the Old Granary Burial Ground is Boston's third-oldest cemetery.  It is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary war era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere and the 5 victims of the Boston Massacre
The trail was originally conceived by local journalist, William Schofield, who since 1951 had promoted the idea of a pedestrian trail linked together with historical landmarks.  By 1953, 40,000 people were annually enjoying the sites and history of the trail.

 The Massachusetts State House is the state capitol and house of government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The building is situated on 6.7 acres and was built on land once owned by John Hancock.

For lunch, we stopped into the Union Oyster House, established in 1826 and is America's oldest restaurant. 

Open to diners as a restaurant since 1826, the building dates back to 1704.  The Union Oyster House has had its shares of famous people in history as diners, including J. F. Kennedy and Daniel Webster.  Webster was known for regularly consuming at least 6 plates of oysters.  I had a wonderful cold seafood plate with 2 oysters on the half shell, two cold shrimp and two cherrystone clams.

 Boston Common is a central park in Boston dating from 1634 and is the oldest park in the U.S.  The Common's purpose has changed over the years.  During the 1630s it was used by many families as a cow pasture. The Common was used as a camp by the British before the Revolutionary War.  Today, there are concerts, ice skating (on frog pond) and baseball and softball games.

Along the way we ran into Ben Franklin!


In the city's north end is the Paul Revere House, built in 1680, making it the oldest house in Boston.

The Old North Church is the location from which the famous "one if by land, and two if by sea" signal is said to have been sent.

Not on the Freedom Trail (but close enough to explore) was the Cheers Beacon Hill (formerly the Bull & Finch Pub).  Founded in 1969, the bar is known internationally as the exterior of the bar seen in the NBC sitcom, Cheers which ran from 1982-1993.

 Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name....and there always glad you came!

A bucket list for both Brian and I was a chance to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Saturday night.  Fenway opened in 1912 and is the oldest ballpark in MLB.

Because of its age and constrained location in Boston's dense Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, the park has been renovated or expanded many times, resulting in quirky features including "the Triangle", "Pesky's Pole", and most notably the "Green Monster" in left field.

It's the 4th smallest among MLB ballparks by seating capacity, second smallest by total capacity and one of 7 parks that cannot accommodate at least 40,000 spectators (today it seats 37,071 for day games and 37,499 for night games).

We kept out eye on Stubhub and I bought tickets a few weeks ago.  They were expensive ($110 each), but we both knew it was a once in a lifetime experience.

 Teammates lockers - Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams

The tickets gave us access to the Royal Rooters Club, a restaurants and Red Box museum at the Lansdowne Street entrance to Fenway Park.  The original Royal Rooters were a fan club for the Boston Americans (who changed their name to the Boston Red Sox in 1908).  They were led by Micheal T. McGreevy, who owned a Boston Saloon called "3rd Base".  For a time, Boston Mayor, John F Fitzgerald (the maternal grandfather of John F. Kennedy) served as chairman.  

Unfortunately, Brian left for Seattle at the crack of dawn on Sunday and my conference was in full swing by lunchtime. 

As far as conferences go, the Boston Renaissance Waterfront (Marriott) Hotel was beautiful!  The area of Seaport is fast growing and has at least a dozen restaurants all within walking distance.

I had a chance to get outside in the evenings and had a wonderful dinner on Monday night and a goodbye lunch on Tuesday before flying home.  I even took a lobster roll on the plane home with me!