Mar 292012
 


~ My cubicle at work, in corporate America

Don’t get me wrong.  I am really, really grateful that in this current economy I am employed and have a career that I honestly, love.  But sometimes, just sometimes . . . I do dream about being able to have one of those careers that enable me to travel to wherever my heart desires while working remotely, in my Airstream of course.  There a few people that I know out there that do have this incredible opportunity and through them, I live vicariously.

But for me.  For us, for my family — that is just not possible.  Not even the slightest bit.

B goes to school and practices his sports on the weekends and when there is no practice, that is typically when there is a school break/vacation for him, or a holiday as some of you may call it.  Those are the times that we plan our trips around.

For myself, I do get a vacation from the office, but it is not too much, or should I say, not as much as I would like.  So, at the beginning of the year hubby and I sit down and go over the calendar and strategically plan our vacations – for the entire year.  We spend hours on-line plotting, planning and staking out where we would love to go.

Then we go about our business and day-to-day lives and routines until those days of travel are upon us.

I still look back on last year.  Even with my limited vacation time and B’s time off from school, I am truly, honestly amazed with all of our adventures we were able to do.

From Eastern, Washington all the way down to Southern Oregon and then back up to Tofino, B.C. — it is hard for me to believe that it was possible.  But it was.

And I am really, really looking forward to our trips we have planned in 2012.  Really, really excited.

So until those days are here and we are getting ready to leave,  I enjoy having our Airstream at home — cooking meals inside because I just love my little kitchen, thinking of new recipes, enjoying movies and just having a place where I can go for some “quiet.” She is my retreat in a way, an escape from the hustle and bustle of every day life and I love her for it.

That sounds corny doesn’t it?

But it’s how I feel :)

Mar 262012
 

It was probably one of the nicest weekends we have had here in Seattle in a very long time. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and just in general, the feeling in the air was one of happiness and excitement. Happiness because the sun felt so good on our skin and excitement for the beautiful weather ahead of us.

We spent this weekend at home spring cleaning. The Airstream needed a good bath after all of our winter skiing adventures and our poor garden that has been neglected over the winter needed some serious tending to.

As we all worked around the house I knew that soon enough there would be a call for lunch. Hubby was washing the Airstream, B was helping me plant some culinary herbs in the garden and hours had passed since breakfast.

I had my CSA box from Full Circle in the Airstream’s fridge and I was very excited about it. Inside of it I was greeted with the most beautiful bunch of carrots I had ever seen. In the box were also some red potatoes, crisp green beans and oranges. All of the necessary ingredients to create a really delicious potato salad were right there in my box.

A simple salad that really took no time and as we discovered, gets much better with time.

Spring in Seattle 2012

My Full Circle Farm CSA Box

B has been waiting for this day now for quite some time since he saw me bring a mossy looking basket home. He knew that he would be helping me plant some culinary herbs in it so that we can take it along with us on our travel adventures. There is nothing more rewarding to me in the kitchen than being able to use fresh herbs that I have grown and now, with this basket — I will always have them with me on our trips.

After we planted the herbs in the basket, we ventured into the garden. B dug nice big holes for the rest of the herbs and planted them himself. We also planted radish seeds – about six different varieties, carrots and beets.

We are ready for summer :)

“Mommy, this is so much fun,” B said looking up at me and smiling.

My heart was melting. I was so happy that he was really enjoying himself. To me, I think, it is so wonderful to teach your children how simple it is to grow their own food.  From one tiny seed come so many good things.

“We should play some music for the seeds mommy, like they did at Doe Bay. Do you remember?” he asked . . .

“Of course I remember.” I smiled looking down at him.

What a beautiful day it was.

I don’t think I will ever forget it.  I am sure of that.

Gardening in Seattle

And the salad?  I must say, it was the perfect lunch on such a beautiful day . . .

Potato Salad with Heirloom Carrots

. . . and we also enjoyed it for dinner alongside some chicken and apple sausages.  I simply sauteed the salad until the potatoes turned a nice golden brown color and turned crispy — and the carrots?  I think they were even better.

It was delicious!

Seattle Sunset


Mar 222012
 

MacKenzie Beach, Tofino, BC

I spent a quiet afternoon over the weekend in the Airstream enjoying a simple lunch, watching a movie (for the millionth time, can you guess which one?) and clicking through many, many pictures on my laptop enjoying them all.

. . . and reminiscing.

Oh the trips we have been on, I still can not believe it sometimes . . .

This is Tofino, B.C. located on Vancouver Island.

We camped almost right on the beach with our Airstream and the storms during this time of year are intense.

I bring up this trip to you because we almost decided to go back again next month.  Almost.

But then we thought, yes it was beautiful and peaceful.

. . . and so relaxing, but we still have so much more exploring of places that we have not yet been to.

So we will wait until another time to go again.

Heirloom Tomatoes

One of the many activities we enjoyed while on holiday in Tofino was wildlife watching via a chartered boat.

It was beautiful.  We were hoping to see some bears, but they were still in hibernation.

But that was just fine as we enjoyed other types of wildlife.  Sea Lions, Eagles and birds of all types . . .

Sea Lions, Tofino, BC

Sea Lions, Tofino, BC

Cute, isn’t he?  Or she?  Nonetheless, we were pretty far back and I took these with my zoom lens.  He still wasn’t crazy about us but he relaxed as we slowly motored away . . .

Deep Sea Fishing and Exploring Tide Pools in Tofino, BC

Tofino is a paradise for children, I definitely must mention that.  Tide pools, beautiful sandy beaches to explore, fishing and so much more.  B was very happy here.  Everyday there was always something new for him to explore, especially after the storms since the beaches were full of new discoveries washed ashore.

Here is is a snapshot of the route we took to get to Tofino:

click for large map

As we enjoyed our lunch finishing up watching the movie, hubby B and I could not help but feel so lucky that we have been able to see as much as we have in just a little over one year.

What fun it has been and what fun we have ahead of us!

Oh and if you think you know what my most favorite movie is that I keep watching over and over — go ahead and leave a comment.  You may just win something (Hint:  I’ve been going through my craft room and have decided, I just don’t need all of these things anymore.)

So if your a crafty person, you may get lucky :)

Simply preheat a medium skillet and coat thickly cut bread with olive oil and cook until golden brown.  Top with some beautiful tomatoes that have been tossed in a bowl with some olive oil, torn basil leaves and crunchy flaky sea salt and pepper.

This is simplistic and absolutely delicious!

Beautiful and Peaceful Tofino, BC

Bon Appetit! *hint*  *hint*

 

Mar 192012
 

Strawberry Clafoutis fresh out of the Airstream's oven

It was hubby’s last weekend teaching skiing at Alpental.  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.  It just seemed like the winter activities were just beginning and now, here we are, entering the Spring season.

Is it me or is time just going faster and faster these days?  I don’t know . . .

For three consecutive months, every weekend (except when we were gone on our Big Red Cat trip) we would bring the Airstream here so hubby could teach and B could ski.  This was going to be our last night.

Since it was going to be our last night I decided to make a nice dessert.  A Clafoutis to be specific.  This was going to be a great recipe to celebrate the beautiful eggs I was given from some really special friends of mine.

These eggs are so special to me.  Why?  You see, I have known these lovely little “First” ladies for quite some time now.Jackie, Barbara and Ladybird are their given names :)  My friends know how special these eggs are to me also as they decorated the egg carton for me in such a beautiful way.

That was very special.

As the boys went about their day, I went about mine happily baking away with this view out of my kitchen window.

Alpental, Snoqualmie Pass

The clafoutis was delicious.  It was my first I had made ever and I will absolutely be making it again.

As we woke up the next morning, we had a choice to head straight home, or to take a trip into the country and see how things were coming along at our little cabin.

“I vote for the cabin,” I said.

“Me toooooooo mommy!” declared B from his bed — and I thought he was still asleep!  My mother was right, children are always listening when you think they are not.  Hah!

Roslyn, Washington

Wow, the snow is gone and Spring is definitely here.

That is our little cabin you see.  We don’t sleep in it, but a very, very long time ago a family once did sleep in it.  It was their home.  It is on my list to try and figure out exactly who this family was, I think it would be very interesting to share what I find out with B.  I do understand it was built in the 1800′s but that is it.

Fiddler's Green Forever :)

Spring was most definitely in the air.  I could smell it — the sweet yet earthy scent of the ground coming alive. I was truly at that moment excited and ready for the warmer weather ahead.

Pasture in Roslyn, WA

As we walked around and checked on things I was full of inspiration. How I would love to start a garden here and how wonderful it is going to be spending lazy summer nights under the stars listening to the chirping of the crickets.

There are so many crickets here in summer.

I was also thinking about my most amazing night I had attending Amanda Hesser’s lecture at Benaroya Hall. What an inspiration she is to me and for her to think my site is “Fabulous,” and then write about it? I felt so happy and so honored.

This recipe that I prepared on the Airstream in “The Tiniest Kitchen,” is from the New York Times of which Amanda was a food writer for (in addition to many other amazing endeavors). I accidentally used three eggs instead of two, but it still turned out delicious.

For you my readers, a Strawberry Clafoutis :)

Clafoutis with Strawberries

 

 

Mar 162012
 

a community of home cooks unite!

 

Dear readers,

It is really, with the utmost honor that I get to share this news with you.

~ Monica

 

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine called me up on the phone asking if I would be interested in attending Amanda Hesser’s lecture at Benaroya Hall here in Seattle.  Interested?  Oh my goodness, I was beyond interested, I was thrilled!

What an incredible night it was.  First I was able to enjoy a girls night out with one of my best friends and second?  Well — having the opportunity to listen to Amanda speak.

This was really a dream come true for me.  You see, forever I have looked up to Amanda with all of her accomplishments and notoriety.  So yes, I was thrilled to be going!!

As I sat in my seat waiting for the lecture to begin I was completely beside myself.  When she started speaking, I was glued to her every word.  I don’t think I moved once during the entire lecture. Her speech was so interesting and so very inspiring to me.  She made me laugh and she made me think.  She introduced other food bloggers that I had never heard of and also talked of Clementine Paddleford.  An American food writer in the 1920′s who would fly solo all around the country interviewing cooks from far and wide.  I couldn’t get wait to get home and learn more about Clementine!  She sounded like my kind of lady!

She also spoke of Food52.  With help from friend Merrill Stubbs they both created this most genius site.  If you haven’t heard about it, I promise you are in for a real treat.  Food52 is a beautiful site for home cooks to come together and unite as one.  Everyone shares their recipes but what is really great about Food52 is that you are connected when you are there.  Connected as far as, if you have a question about an ingredient or just about a recipe in general — you can immediately contact the Hotline, online — and within a minute have your question answered.  Also, this isn’t your typical community recipe site — see for yourself and do a search for “beets,” and just wait and see what appears before your eyes.  Beautiful photographs of recipes that contain that ingredient.

Then came Molly Wizenberg of Orangette.  One of my most favorite foodie bloggers out there.  Molly sat down with Amanda after her speech and read questions from the audience.  I was so happy to finally be able to see Molly in person.  Oh and her blog?  It is really, really awesome (and beautiful).  Molly also has a really great writing style that I just love.

After the lecture and Q&A was over I had the opportunity to personally meet Amanda.  I walked up to the stage and introduced myself and as quickly as I could, I explained to her what I do (J5MM).  I think I was stuttering because I was so nervous but she was so nice!

Anyway, fast forward to yesterday (probably one of the most happiest days in my life) when I received this tweet:

Amanda and Food52 really liked my site!  They liked it enough to write about it.

I am really, completely honored and so, so very happy :)

Here is the link to the post and a screen shot of the post — if you do happen to read it I would love to hear what you think!

 

The Tiniest Kitchen

 

 

 

 

Mar 122012
 

On the road home to the U.S.A. from British Columbia

Driving home from Rossland, B.C. back into the U.S.A. and onward to Seattle was quite an adventure for us.

We experienced:

icy roads,

slush covered roads,

dry and sunny roads, and

stage 1 snow emergency roads declared in Spokane, WA.

Here is a shot of that experience:

Stage 1 Snow Emergency, Spokane, WA February 2012

. . . and then we had beautiful dry and sunny roads again . . .

Wind Turbines near Vantage, WA -- they are HUGE compared to the semi truck down there

It was all enough for me.  I was ready to be home.

But guess what?  To really get home, we had to drive over Snoqualmie Pass.  According to the road report, traction tires were required as well as chains for trucks.

We decided to keep that adventure for the next day.

Luckily Whispering Pines RV Resort was on our way and we pulled in — into a pull through!

We were happy.  Sometimes we really love those pull through sites.  Really.  No un-hitching.  Just pull on through and pull right out and continue on . . .

Let’s camp and eat!!

And think about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.

Camp at Whispering Pines Campground, Cle Elum, WA and Oprah's favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This is by far, one of my most favorite grilled cheese recipes.  Okay, well maybe for except this one.

But really, it is SO good.  Sweet and savory, both at once.

A couple of years ago (or maybe more?) I was watching Oprah and she and Gayle King featured this grilled cheese recipe on their show.  I was starving when I watched it and of course, had to make it straight away after watching the show.

Needless to say, I make it often.

Very, often.

Beautiful Organic Tomatoes from Full Circle Farms

Camp at Whispering Pines, Cle Elum, WA

Here is the link to the recipe.

Bon appetit!

Mar 072012
 

Celeriac Soup

Seven days at Red Mountain in Rossland, British Columbia and it was time to head back home.  One more day of skiing and one more night in the Airstream.

Then back to reality.

I wasn’t ready to leave.  But then again, I am really not ever ready to leave on our vacations.  I sometimes have it in my head that I would love to stay forever.  Then hubby brings me back down to reality.

Not possible.

But first before I start thinking about leaving, I enjoy reflecting on our most wonderful trip.  Paula and Kieran who run Big Red Cats were so nice and so accommodating.  Thank you both so much.  We all truly had an incredible time and thank you especially to Ian at the Red Shutter Inn who helped us all with accommodations.

Dining at Gypsy’s and Gabriella’s was incredible.  If you ever come to Red Mountain, these two restaurants are sure to please.  Cozy and inviting and the food?  Well, you can judge for yourself here and here.  Incredible and gourmet.

**Read about why J5MM chose to visit Big Red Cats at Red Mountain here and see for yourself why this is a skier’s paradise**

Also a big thank you to Matt Small and Kenny Blum, our ESPN Photographers who joined us on our trip.

The following ski shots (and Big Red Kitty shot) are from Matt Small, thank you Matt!

Big Red Cats and Big Red Kitty in Rossland, B.C.

The boys went skiing everyday and came back hungry.  It was up to me to figure out what to prepare for them.  I knew I wanted to make soup and also a nice sweet treat for B.  This was the day to do it.  It was our last day and I had some beautiful veggies in my box from Full Circle Farms that needed to be used.

Celeriac.  Have you ever heard of this?  It is also called celery root and when it is sliced open the most crisp and bright smell awakens your senses.  I peeled and sliced up (into very small pieces so they would all cook quickly and evenly)  my celery root along with a few carrots and an onion.  Oh, and also red potatoes.  All from Full Circle Farms.

Into my cast iron dutch oven went the veggies, covered them almost to the top with stock (I used veggie stock), covered with a lid and simmered for about 30 minutes on the stove top until I could easily pierce through the pieces easily with the tines of my fork.

You can easily eat this soup as it is or you can take your immersion blender and blend until smooth.  Either way, the flavors are fresh and bright.  If you do blend the soup, I suggest adding some watercress for garnish and a sprinkling of basil seeds.  You can find basil seeds at your local Asian market.  I love basil seeds.  Did you know when they are submerged in a liquid they form a jelly coating on the outside?  The end result is a chewy little seed that pops in your mouth when you bite into them.  The taste you are greeted with is that of an ever so slight basil flavor.  It’s really interesting how these little seeds change their texture.

Kenny Blum Skiing - Photos Courtesy of Matt Small :) !!

You can also top with this beautiful golden colored soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Carrot tops are a beautiful garnish as well.

This soup was the perfect ending to a great day of powder skiing for the boys.   Nothing like a warm bowl of soup to warm yourself up!

Skiing with Big Red Cats -- Photos Courtesy of Matt Small!

When we awoke the next morning we looked out of the window and discovered that Red Mountain had received a lot of snow over night.  Our Airstream was covered in snow and icicles.  B pulled an icicle off and couldn’t wait to show me how big it was!  He wanted to keep it so we put it (very carefully) into the Airstream’s freezer.

We now have this icicle in our freezer at home – B wants to save it for summertime to show his friends when it is hot outside.

Family Airstream Ski Trip to Red Mountain Resort, B.C.

The day before, I saw in my Full Circle box that I had three zucchini’s left and they needed to be used.

I knew exactly what I would make with them.  B has been wanting something sweet now for a while so this would be perfect.

Chocolate zucchini muffins for the road!  It would be a long drive and I knew he would be hungry so I wanted to be prepared.

These turned out so delicious.

So fudgey.  So rich.

Did I mention they are healthy too?  But you wouldn’t guess it . . .

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with Honey and Pistachio's

So now the truck is packed and everything is secure in the Airstream.  It is time to leave.

And say goodbye.

Until next time beautiful Red Mountain.  We will miss you!

Beautiful Red Mountain, Rossland, British Columbia

Click for Recipe

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Mar 022012
 

Caramelized Onion and Feta Cheese Buckwheat Tarts

We were on vacation. A nice, long vacation.  We were preparing for this trip for a very long time and finally we were here at Red Mountain in Rossland, British Columbia. It is just a few hours north of Spokane, Washington. The drive coming up was beautiful. The drive going back home? Not so much. I will be posting about our trip home soon, it was very interesting.

The routine was the same, everyday. It was nice. Wake up early, feed the boys and set them off for a day of skiing. Hubby on his way for cat skiing with Big Red Cats and our photographers Matt Small and Kenny Blum and B off to his ski class with his favorite instructor, Maude from France.

“Mommy, is Maude going to teach me skiing today again?” he would ask as I helped him get dressed in all of his layers.

Layer.  After.  Layer.

“Yes she is,” I would tell him and then would come the smiles. Big smiles. He really enjoyed his days skiing, thank you so much Maude. You’ve created wonderful memories for him.

While everyone was off enjoying their days of skiing, I would walk around the resort and take photographs and seek out inspiration for our next meal.  The fact that I had my box of goodies from Full Circle Farms was an added bonus.  A box full of fresh, organic veggies — the possibilities were endless. If you live in Washington State, Alaska and Idaho I am sure you have heard of Full Circle Farms.  They are an “organic food delivery service,” and it feels like Christmas morning every time my box is delivered to my door.  Community Supported Agriculture — I am very proud to be a supporting member.  Here is more about Full Circle Farms

Red Mountain Resort, British Columbia

Out of my box I pulled some beautiful organic red potatoes, an onion and got to work slicing, sauteing and assembling.  I have only made sweet tarts before, never a savory one.  I was excited for this one.

Potatoes, buckwheat flour (I have been on a buckwheat kick lately — I am in love with the taste), caramelized onions and parmesan cheese — once baked together we experienced deep, earthy savory flavors.  It was incredible.

Buckwheat Tarts with Caramelized Onions & Feta Cheese

After I picked up B from class we came back to the Airstream for some hot cocoa (our apres-skiing ritual).

He saw the tarts on the counter, cooling.

“What are those mommy?” his eyes wide with curiosity.

“A potato tart.  Would you like one?”

He ate two.

Caramelized Onion and Feta Cheese Buckwheat Tart

Recipe for Caramelized Onion & Parmesan Cheese Potato Tarts with Buckwheat Flour