Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream | I'll Make It Myself! 1

Lavender-Vanilla Ice Cream

Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream | I'll Make It Myself! 2
Image: a bowl of lavender-vanilla ice cream with culinary lavender sprinkled on top and blackberries.

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.

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Twin Peaks Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 5

“I’ll save you every time” – Twin Peaks Cake

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”?

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Image: Special Agent Dale Cooper standing very close to Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Twin Peaks); caption reads “Harry, I want it.” JUST KISS OKAY.

Contains vague spoilers for Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 1

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Candy Cap Mushroom Cookies | I'll Make It Myself! 1

Candy-Cap Mushroom (yes) Cookies

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.)

Candy Cap Mushroom Cookies | I'll Make It Myself! 1

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Rhubarb Cream Scones | I'll Make It Myself! 3

Rhubarb Cream Scones with Lemon and Ginger

Rhubarb Cream Scones | I'll Make It Myself! 4
Image: two rhubarb cream scones on a plate with with fresh strawberries with a jar and a small dish of homemade strawberry jam, and a small vase of edible violas.

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.

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Great Book Larder Bake Off Watercolor Layer Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 3

Great Book Larder Bake Off: Layer Cake

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.

Great Book Larder Bake Off Watercolor Layer Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 4
Description detailed in post. Image of a three-layer cake frosted in watercolor-inspired turquoise ombre, on a glass plate, with edible violas (flowers) on top and in background.

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Nettle and Mint Tea | The Lobster Dance 2 (1)

Nettle and Mint Tea

 

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.

 

Nettle and Mint Tea | The Lobster Dance 2 (1)

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Man Cave Truffles | I'll Make It Myself

Special Man Chocolates to Tell Him How Special His Masculinity Is

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:

Man Cave Truffles | I'll Make It Myself

#pointlesslygenderedproducts
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 thought it was pink from the photo.

Let’s talk about “fun.”

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Image: Josh Groff as King George III in the musical Hamilton. Text reads [sarcastically]”Awesome, wow.” Source.
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Lan Su Chinese Garden | I'll Make It Myself!

Mooncakes and Tea at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland

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.

Lan Su Chinese Garden | I'll Make It Myself! 1 (1)
Image: the Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland. A view of a bridge over the pond.

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.

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80s Businesswoman Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 1

’80s Business-Lady Cake

powersuitsm
One panel of Kate Beaton’s “1980’s Businesswoman Comics” from Hark, A Vagrant! [image: a comic of a 1980s businesswoman with big hair yelling “Bedtime NOW” into a huge ’80s cell phone]
Have I got a business proposition for you! My buddy Eve threw a pyramid-scheme themed birthday party. I realize it may sound a little odd that a bunch of 30-somethings re-enacted a 1990s-era business party complete with elevator pitches and paper cups of coffee, but really, this is the image of “Office Work” of our childhoods. Shoulder pads, suits that would make (NBC) Chilton blush, yelling into giant cell phones, those Apple computers we had in computer class in public school, cubicles, the chance to have your ambitions rewarded (or to drown in a pit of existential despair)–until the recession happened just at the moment we all graduated college/grad school. Fun!

80s Businesswoman Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 1

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