Friday, October 29, 2010

Cardamom Spiced Sweet Potatoes, Crispy Sesame Kale, and a note about Project Runway

I will get to the food in just a minute, but first, I want to take a minute and go on a rampage against the stunt Project Runway pulled last night. So if you don’t want the show spoiled, just skip to the deliciousness that lies ahead. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy a good ol’ “Colleen’s lost her shit moment”

I have two things to say: One: If Betsy Johnson and David LaChapelle ran away with the circus and gave birth to a love child on Día de los Muertos, his name would be
Mondo Guerra. The genius that boy showed with mixing patterns and prints on this season’s Project Runway! But of course Michael Kors went and got another stick up his ass (too bad it wasn’t an electrocution prod. I would have been happy to see the bastard anally electrocuted like the beings he makes his ugly-ass bags out of) upon seeing that Mondo is clearly a better designer than he is, and since clearly no one can be better Michael Kors, he somehow convinced the rest of the judges that Gretchen’s crunchy granola throwbacks to the 1970’s should win the whole of season 8. Two: Heidi, my respect for you has fallen immensely. Way to let that bully Kors and that bitch Nina Garcia push you around. I hope you feel like shit.

Crunchy granola fashion does not belong on the runway. It does not belong in New York fashion week. Hell, it doesn’t even belong at JCPenney. The only thing crunchy granola thinking is good for is the sentiment of buying local seasonal food. Don't get me wrong: I have great respect for hippies. I have them to thank for Jimi Hendrix, Vietnam Protests and the Moosewood Cafe cookbook, but
those nouveau hippie phish heads and widespread panic kids really chap my ass. No offense.

My point of all this rambling is that I sat in my half put together apartment last night, watching the season finale of project runway (ok, mostly I was just yelling obscenities at the T.V., whatever) ranting about boho hippies with my longtime friend Aly. All while eating, hands down, one of the best meals I’ve cooked since moving back to the Pacific Northwest, entirely consisting of local organic vegetables that had been bought at the co-op up the street. And probably grown by crunchy-ass granola hippies. The irony is not lost on me. Oh, I will eat your produce, but I will never, ever wear your fugly clothing.

Cardamom Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Sesame Kale

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Evening at Plum Bistro: Seattle

Confession: I’m a food slut. Not a foodie, not wannabe chef, not even a connoisseur of all things edible. I’m just a total slut. I sit around at night and look at food porn like “Great Chefs Cook Vegan” and “The Conscious Cook.” I go to spice stores even when I don’t need anything just so I cook gaze longingly at big glass jars filled with beautiful colours. I can tell you what channels on the TV are the food network, the cooking channel, and the travel channel, because outside of PBS, food shows are pretty much the only thing I watch. Sometimes, I even wish I were Gertrude Stein so Alice Toklas could have cooked for me on a regular basis.

“But, Colleen!” you might say, “I thought you were a foodie!” no, sadly, I am not. A foodie would have been aware that this week was restaurant week in Seattle. But not me. No, I was too busy whoring around– pouring lentils into glass jars and setting up my pantry to notice such things. Hence, I am not a foodie.

So when I wandered into Plum Bistro with a few friends on Sunday night, didn’t recognize the menu, and didn’t see a price, I felt really out of my element. I mean, I feel out of my element anyways in Plum, it being a *gasp* upscale vegan restaurant, filled with people wearing matching jewelry and black clothes that are not covered in cat hair, but the whole menu without prices thing really threw me for a loop. But no matter, a ginger-coconut-milk-vodka concoction and an explanation from our server that we had wandered into the week foodies live for cleared my confusion and we were good to eat.

And did we ever. The three of us just shared whatever we ordered. Yam and kale bruschetta, stuffed Portobello mushroom, apple and sage rubbed seitan steak, Jamaican burger, garlic aioli fries, butternut squash quinoa risotto, and three types of mini cheesecake at the end. Pumpkin, ginger, and chocolate. It was, and I do not say this lightly, orgasmic. The yams spiced with cardamom and the crisp baked kale complimented the toasted bread in perfect harmony. The seitan was so luscious it fell apart in your mouth, leaving traces of apple and sage to sing their autumn song on your taste buds. And the dark chocolate cheesecake was so dark, smooth and creamy you just wanted to curl up in a chocolate pillow and fall asleep.

See? Food slut. I rest my case. And while I was silly enough to leave my camera at home, I did jack this pic of their sliders off their facebook page, just so you too, could lust after the offerings at Plum. Come visit me sometime, and I’ll let you take me to dinner there. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Spinach Soup

In a continuation of the “look in the fridge and figure out what to do with bits and pieces because I don’t want to go out on this rainy, blustery day” series, I find myself making soup. Again. Actually, I quite like soup, which I guess is a damn good thing, considering it looks like soup is shaping up to be a dietary staple…

At any rate, a good bowl of soup paired with a few slices of good bread (oh Essential Baking Company, I wish you could just come deliver Parisian loafs to my door three times a day), a decent glass of pinot grigio, and a few friends (who don’t mind eating whist sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor because I still don’t have any chairs) pretty much makes for the perfect night. Phew! Check out that run on sentence!

This soup is thick and creamy and bright fucking green! Like, Kermit the frog green. Which makes it really fun to eat. I also thought I’d share a nifty trick this recipe utilizes: to make a “creamy” soup without the cream, just add a potato or two. When you blend the soup, the starch will thicken it, giving it that thick creamy consistency.

Zucchini and Spinach Soup

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef or Why Math and Handicraft Go Hand In Hand

An artist and a scientist are sitting at a bar. The scientist says “There’s no money in public schools anymore. They should cut art from the curriculum.” The artist says, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” The scientist says “Well, are you saying science should get cut?” and the artist answers “No, but neither should art. They are equally important.”

Want more proof artisans are more evolved than most? Okay, twist my arm… When it comes to space in mathematics, I am currently obsessed with hyperbolic space. An alternate theory to Euclid geometry and Spherical geometry, hyperbolic geometry has a negative curvature. I could go on for hours. I won’t. Now, what I do find interesting about hyperbolic space is that critics accepted it in 1868, and paper models illustrating hyperbolic space were created, but they could not move and tangibly illustrate hyperbolic space. In fact, many in the ol’ boys math club thought a tactical rendering of hyperbolic space simply couldn’t be made. But then, in 1997, mathematician Daina Taimina called upon her childhood in Latvia and learning to crochet and knit, and realized the equation could be illustrated through increasing the number of stitches in rows in crochet. Margaret Wertheim says, “So here, in wool, through a domestic feminine art, is the proof that the most famous postulate in mathematics is wrong.” SNAP! Bet those math boys could have figured that out sooner if they had given any thought to the clothes their mamas made them.

But wait! There’s more! In 2006, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, sisters from Australia, started crocheting hyperbolic space models as a commentary to the detrimental affect climate change has Great Barrier Reef. Turns out coral, sea slug, and leafy greens all have something in common: hyperbolic geometry. Since the inception of the project 5 years ago, it has been shown in a ton of galleries, and has had a fuck TON of people crochet and contribute to the piece. Satellite pieces have also been made. White reefs have been made to illustrate the bleaching that occurs in coral when it dies. Reefs have been crocheted out of plastic bags to illustrate pollution problems. The Wertheim sisters are literally and physical playing with ideas in a space where mathematics, marine biology, feminine handicraft and environmental activism collide. If you are lucky enough to live in the DC area, or are visiting, go check out the reef, which is on display at the Smithsonian. My wife just went and sent me pictures, which, I guess since I no longer live in the district, must suffice.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Curry Carrot Soup

Well, the rain has officially started here in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, we had a few day stretch about a month ago when it sprinkled, but that wasn’t really the start of the rainy season. A few last warm sunny fall days had been promised, so spirits were still high. And then yesterday happened. Gray and rain, and we officially stepped foot into the weather Seattle is known for. The showers permeated the city, the old windows in our apartment started to rattle against the wind and the “clunk, clink, whoosh” of the steam radiators that heat our apartment building kicked in at 7am.

Once I drug myself out of the quilted cocoon (a.k.a. my bed), and had a cup of tea, I spent the morning hanging shelves all over my apartment (which, by the way, has no storage, but very high ceilings). I realized around 3 pm I was famished, and found an onion and some carrots in the fridge: fixins for a perfect meal to welcome in the fall weather. Nothing beats hot soup on a cool day, especially when it doesn’t take much time or effort. 


Curry Carrot Soup

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nikki McClure adorns my walls

A new place doesn’t feel like home until the pictures are hung. I can continue to live out of boxes as I slowly put stuff away in their new spaces and still feel settled if I’ve got pretty stuff on the walls to look at. So last night I thought, “walls be damned, I’m not waiting to paint! I’m a gonna hang me up somethin’ purdy to look at.”

Nikki McClure has long since been one of my favorite artists. Before she started creating totally amazing art with an exacto knife, I would rock out to her song “Ominvore,” the last track on the Stars Kill Rock compilation and dream of singing in my own grrl punk band. Now, 14 years later, I get to sit in my living room (or I will be able to, as soon as I get my hammock up), look at her amazing cut paper prints that adorn my walls, and think about the somewhat circular life I lead. 

But back to the prints: I ended up picking up a tension wire from Ikea the other day (do you know expensive 6-14x18” frames are? Fuck that!) and just clipped the prints along the tension wire. It was a cheap solution and they look pretty damned good (and will look even better once I get my walls painted.) I must give props where they are due, so a major thank you to my friend Vanessa who hung her prints on twine with wooden clothespin. Also a rad solution for a small budget.

Nikki McClure’s prints speak of simplicity and compassion, sustainability and community, and have a quintessential northwest style. Plus, they’re all paper cuts- the lady’s got mad skills with an exacto knife. Each of the six I choose represent a truth that is
intrinsic to me, and serve as a reminder on how I wish to live my life. Take a look for yourself, and if you fall in love with her work, you can always grab one through


Monday, October 18, 2010

Miso Soup

This is a very simple miso soup - one that you can make when you move into a new apartment and have shit-all in the pantry. Somehow, I had some sushi seaweed, some tofu, and some buckwheat soba noodles. We’ve been so busy unpacking and setting up house, we haven’t gone to the market for much more than beer and Corn Pops. Thank fucking god the box from the CSA comes tomorrow. Our apartment is in unpacking upheaval with no chairs and a landside of shredded paper and cardboard, but a good friend showed up anyways with a tub of miso paste and I knew we had the makings of a decent meal. Plus, it’s super fast and easy. 

Impromptu Miso Soup

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto

I love autumn in the Pacific Northwest. Leaves on only a few trees change colours in the evergreen state, and when you stumble upon one, it’s a treasure. Sunny days also must be treasured by pulling on a sweater and a scarf, taking a stroll, and soaking in the crisp chill of the air. But the rain provides a nice break, a chance to hole up wherever you may call home and cook, write, play music, read a book, or make art. So if you’ve ever wondered why the PNW gives birth to so many creative people, blame it on the rain. There’s also small local farms dotting the landscape, so on a sunny day, you might find yourself at a farm picking pumpkins. And the next day, when it’s grey and raining, you might find yourself making pumpkin risotto.

Pumpkin Risotto

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nice (Spice) Rack

I just spent eight weeks obsessively looking at spice jars and racks. I’m not exaggerating. First I looked at those damned test tube racks, scouring cookware stores and science material stores on the interwebs until my fingers turned red from banging on my keyboard in frustration. I thought I had figured out what I wanted, when I went to a friend’s house for tea and ended up helping her pour spices into her test tube spice racks using funnels we rolled out of sheets of paper. As it turns out, test tubes don’t actually hold more than a few tablespoons, and form over function definitely does not apply. At that point, it was "Fuck you, test tubes!"

So I looked at wholesale jar outfits, more cooking stores, houseware stores, container stores, spice jar realtors and more. If there’s a spice jar on the market, by this point, I’ve seen it. I also looked at spice racks (wall mounted, I have very little counter space) knowing the only thing I didn’t want was something from Ikea. I looked on etsy, ebay, thrift stores, department stores… the list goes on. And finally, I found the perfect rack, and the perfect jars. Ironically, I decided upon the one thing I was against when I set out- the Grundtal Ikea spice rack. In itself, it isn’t anything special, but matched with miniature old timey canning style jars I originally spotted at MarketSpice Tea (and later found on sale at Crate & Barrel), it’s perfect. The rack is just the right size for the jars, and holds 21 jars total. Plus, my spice jars now match my pantry jars. I get weirdly particular about things in my kitchen–nothing else in the apartment has been unpacked, and the walls are still a shitty shade of brown-gray, but as long as I’ve got my spice rack and a cast iron skillet, I’m doin’ alright. 

Top Row: Ground Ginger, Ground Coriander, Ground Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Black Lava Salt, Sel Gris, Alder Smoked Sea Salt. Middle Row: Garlic Powder, Rubbed Sage, Herbes de Provence, Turmeric, Ground Cumin, Clove, Ground Nutmeg. Bottom Row: Ground Mustard, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, Sumac, Cumin Seed, Fennel Seed, Black Sesame Seed. Below Shelf I’ve hung measuring spoons, my ginger grater, and my tea infuser spoon. Stay tuned for a post in the near future one why all these spices (and minerals) are my staples.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quinoa and Roasted Veggies (or, what to do with all the remnants of the CSA box)

A few weeks ago, I attended “Apples in the Orchard,” a potluck/ cider press on this darling Island on which I grew up. Like most potlucks I go to, I wanted to make a dish that could feed a lot, tasted great, and didn’t cost much. I also wanted to use up all the little remnants of vegetables in the fridge from my mother’s CSA subscription that had yet to find a dish. There were a few yellow squash, some chard, mustard greens, and a red pepper. After 15 minutes of standing in front of an open fridge, ignoring my mother’s voice in my head going “Close the door! You’re wasting energy and killing the planet!” I decided to fall back on my trusted standby “I don’t know what the hell to do with these veggies!” dish. Roasted veggies and quinoa. Fast, simple, and fucking delish! Bring it to a potluck and your omni friends minds will be blown, or just make a batch and eat the leftovers for lunch throughout the week. 

Roasted Veggies and Quinoa

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Friday, I saw Corin Tucker...

Her glitter eye shadow left remnants; a diatomic piece lying on her pectoral muscle next to her armpit kept catching the light. Halfway through the first song, the strap of her red plaid dress slid off her shoulder, and when she re-adjusted, it twisted and stayed that way the rest of the show. I stood in the second row, held hands with my good friend and cried like a bitch the whole time.

See, I’ve followed Corin Tucker’s musical career since I was 14. First listening to Heavens to Betsy, and later, Sleater-Kinney. The Riot Grrl movement shaped my identity in the mid-nineties. I saw Sleater-Kinney play live more times than I can count, from shows at RKCNDY, a now defunct all ages club in downtown Seattle, where my fourteen year old self was pressed against the edge of the stage, to a 21+ show at the Showbox a few months before I left Seattle for the east coast. Corin Tucker’s soft subtle melodies paralleled with her belting warble, that verges on a scream filled with passion followed me through moves; friendships formed and lost, death, break-ups, and immense joy.

So when I learned months ago she had recorded a new album, and was going on tour, I bought tickets as soon as they went on pre-sale, called a friend who had been crushed up against that stage at RKCNDY with me, and cried when she heard Corin Tucker’s voice live. The album hadn’t yet been released, but it didn’t matter. When the show started, we stood, 2 rows back, held hands, jumped up and down to Doubt (the only song on the new LP, 1000 Years, even remotely in the style of Sleater-Kinney) and cried the rest of the show. She is still one of the only musicians I’ve ever seen that is better in concert than in person, apparently no matter who she plays with.

The songs in her most recent endeavor are slower, more deliberate. Carefully planned. But her howl can still be found. Her music has changed, she still wore the glitter eye shadow and the vintage style dress, but, like us, she had grown up.

Oh, and P.S., during the encore, she sang The Golden State, by John Doe, with Eddie Vedder. I totally lost it. 

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Notes on Picasso

When I was small, in 4th and 5th grade, I took French classes. Mostly, this did not consist so much of learning the language, but learning about the culture. We presented reports on the Impressionist artists, shared French food, and watched movies with subtitles. And of course, we inevitably learned about Picasso. My blossoming creativity, at that time, was drawn towards the playful fields of bright colours, the bold black lines, and the deconstructed facial features. Eventually, my fascination waned, and, like a pop song played constantly on the radio, the more I saw Picasso’s works, the more bored I became. He morphed into the pompous Picasso who thought himself genius, the Picasso portrayed by Jon Lovitz in Saturday Night Live, sitting at a café, signing napkins and shouting “I’m Picasso!!!” and insisting his scribbled on napkins will more than pay for his café au lait.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crackin' the Crust on the Crème Brûlée

At the risk of sounding like a total hipster, in 2001 my favorite French director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, released a little flick that we Americans affectionately shortened to Amelie. A simple pleasure, shared by Amelie and myself, is “cracking the crust of a crème brûlée with the back of a teaspoon.” Ah, crème brûlée, you delectable dessert, your caramelized sugar stopping hiding that silky smooth custard, how I’ve missed you. But no more! I even fooled my omni friends with this little recipe. Everything I love about crème brûlée is mine again, and truth be told, I really really like working with cooking blowtorches.  

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fried "Turkey" Balls

The main meal idea for last years Thanksgivingpalooza came to me like a shot in the dark. There I was, lazing about on the couch, watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and Guy Fieri was in Milwaukee, WI at The Comet Café. The Comet has a dish called “AJ’s Compact Turkey Dinner” which, essentially, is a thanksgiving dinner in a croquette. How could I see that and not immediately need to veganize? And I had to change the name, because saying “balls” is just a lot more fun than saying “compact faux turkey dinner.” Everyone deserves to indulge in crass 3rd grade humor once in a while. The balls were a hit at thanksgiving, and we kept returning to the deep fryer for a few days to make more until our arteries begged us to stop. On another note, if you’re ever in Milwaukee, stop by the Comet, and grab a vegan Salisbury steak, or deep fried vegan ribs. I’ve never had them, but their menu makes me drool. 

The Main Course: Fried “Turkey” Balls

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Butternut Squash Ravioli to Tempt the Palate

Our first thanksgiving on the easy coast consisted of my wife and me, a few good friends from long ago that had found themselves on the east coast, and a few new friends we had made in the area. We sat around our little apartment in Old Town, Portsmouth, VA, and ate Mama Gleaton's Tofu Turkey with Dressing (which, by the way, is still one of my favorite recipes), a store bought tofurky, salad, and maybe pudding… honestly, I don’t really remember but outside of the tofu turkey bake, it really wasn’t that impressive, but it did mark our first annual east coast thanksgiving. Five years later and there was no tofurky or pudding to be found, but there was awesome ravioli, that, after a debate over boiling or baking, was plated and eaten before I ever made it to the table. 

Course Two: Butternut Squash, Sage, and "Goat Cheeze" Ravioli with Toasted Hazelnut Sauce