October is my favorite month–the leaves! Halloween! Autumn produce! Unfortunately, it’s also a high-travel month for both me and my partner, and we often have work trips back-to-back and independently of each other, which means I am behind on updating and cooking projects (and rewatching Hannibal, garden pruning, and so on).
Here’s a pizza we made back in September when we were getting figs at the store–which have now been replaced with Oregon cranberries.
This recipe is based on one of my favorite combinations of late-summer/early-fall produce: figs, basil, and arugula with goat cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic reduction.* Balsamic reduction is fancy as heck and requires very little effort and no other ingredients but balsamic vinegar and heat.
Summer in the PNW is my favorite. In addition to all the stone fruit and berries anyone could ever want, summer is also lavender season. There’s a lovely bunch of it on my way to work that smells so refreshing when the mornings are cool and there’s a breeze.
Before we get to the food: do you like feel-good ships? Like the kind where there isn’t angst between the characters and you’re wailing at the TV/computer “just kiss already you’re obviously in loooooove”?
It’s Pride Month and it’s rainy and cool in Seattle, so my power is at its peak.
I had been wondering if I write too much about my partner, because you probably came here for the recipes and rants and not to hear about my schmoopy stories about how much I adore C. Then a couple things happened: I had an abnormal number of cishet folks tone-policing and explaining gender to me while demanding ally cookies in one week. The Pulse shooting happened (donate here), and it hurts, because we’re constantly dealing with constant hate crimes and the social message that being queer ends in tragedy. We have an initiative to repeal rights for trans folks to literally use bathrooms (check out Washington Won’t Discriminate for more info on fighting this petition), transphobes are tricking people into signing it, and violence against trans/gender-noncomforming folks continues, including an attack this week after a Pulse benefit in Cap Hill.
So, you know what? Screw lightening up on the schmoop. We had to fight to be together; we survived abuse from past partners, but even after our ship sailed, our lives still include biphobia, transphobia and erasure from the outside.*
It’s important to me to tell our story. I fell in love, I think, back when we were working on a cooking lesson together in Japan. I’m originally from the Midwest and C is from the California part of the PNW; our regional foods couldn’t be more different. We tried to fill in the gaps in our regional cuisine knowledge and ended up watching ridiculous YouTube videos about lutefisk and grilling pies late into the night.
One of the constants of our relationship has been our mutual love of food and of learning about each other’s food culture, which brings me to today’s recipe. C’s hometown is famous for candy caps, which are dried edible mushrooms that smell and taste sweet. (Which I guess could be a ham-fisted metaphor of sorts: people don’t think those mushrooms are real, and they don’t think we’re real, either. That’s a little queer humor for you all.)
Rhubarb is in season at the farmers markets in Seattle, and while we’re waiting on berries to really come into season, I thought I’d make something rhubarb-focused. These barely-sweet scones are light and fluffy with lots of tangy rhubarb.
If you’d like a sweeter scone, you could add one additional TBSP of sugar to the dry ingredients or eat them with honey or jam.
I used Victoria rhubarb, which is ripe when it’s still green and has a beautiful fade from pink to green.
Like every other food blogger and foodie friend I know, I watched The Great British Bake Off, (or Baking Show, as it’s known in the US) this winter. I’m not a big reality cooking competition enthusiast, and the optimism and teamwork of the show were exactly what I needed. A friend told me about Book Larder‘s new event “The Great Book Larder Bake Off,” a dessert competition at Seattle’s only cookbook store. While I missed the inaugural event (cookies) this winter, I decided to try my luck at the spring contest for layer cakes.
Spring has arrived in Seattle, and with it, so has the spring produce: fiddleheads, rhubarb, and nettles. Part of the issue with seasonal foods with a short availability is that recipe development can take a couple years if supplies are limited. This year, I got a 1/4 lb. bag of nettles at the Capitol Hill Farmers Market in late April and got to work on a couple dishes, including this nettle and mint tea, for those of you who enjoy a little punch to your herbal tea.
Or, “A box of chocolates is like life: full of problematic masculine posturing.”
While I was in Oregon, I snapped this photo of The Candy Basket, Inc’s*, Drunken Hostess and On the Rocks Man Cave alcoholic ganache truffles and posted it on Facebook with the following comment:
Two boxes of truffles from The Candy Basket, Inc., one with a green ribbon that says “Man Cave” on it–the perfect gift for the #masculinitysofragile straight cis man in your life! And for that straight woman you know who refers to her platonic woman friends as her “girlfriends” and erases your queer identity, a pink-ribboned [“clearly lavender”] box of “drunken hostess” truffles for you to share on “girls night”! As long as you don’t hit on her, teehee. #galpals #genderqueer
To which the company responded “The ribbon is clearly lavender* and not pink [wink emoticon] No offense intended with our packaging, we are proud Portlanders and these are just intended to be fun liquor infused truffles!”
I visited Oregon for the first time with my partner, who went to college there, playing tour guide for me. We have the same problem when it comes to restaurant recommendations in our college towns: neither of us know a lot about nice-but-reasonable restaurants in those respective cities.
The one place, though, that C loved and always asked their mom to take them to when she was visiting Portland was the Lan Su Chinese Garden Teahouse, the poetically named “Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections.” C remembered this place seeming expensive as a student, but upon arrival, we discovered the prices were actually reasonable for us now: $7 for a shared tray (gaiwan ceremony style”) of tea and $6 a piece for mooncakes. (Especially dealing with Seattle and Kanazawa restaurant prices!)
I don’t claim to know anything about Chinese tea culture or sweets, but this was a lovely experience. The tea leaves were served in a bowl, and a staff member came and “woke up” the tea by doing a rinse. After that, we could brew two small cups at a time as long as we liked. I’ve only ever had tea ceremonies, however formal or informal, the Japanese way, so this was a nice chance to experience this style of preparing tea.