We’ve been back from the East Coast for a couple of weeks now, and with a few stutter starts on posts, I’ve decided to compile all the short beginnings into one post. Here goes:

1) A few days after we got back, I was introduced to some of the lady’s friends whom she had met at the census. She invited them over for dinner for friendly conversation and good food. I had figured that we could trot out some old pescatarian favorites, like the shrimp and pears with fennel.

No, she said. They were vegan.

NEW CHALLENGE! How do I create a vegan meal with little or no animal products? No problem. I took the shrimp out of the main course, served it over rice, and didn’t add any yogurt to the curry used to coat it. It seemed to work, but without the cooling effect of the yogurt, our palates were set afire.

Also, as previously visited in a post, I went to Marigold and Mint down at the Melrose market, and made a salad with heirloom tomatoes, nasturtiums, a tiny head of tom thumb lettuce, pea pods from the madre’s garden back in Connecticut, fresh basil, a little balsamic, some olive oil, and some other stuff that I forget about. Here’s a picture:

See? It's a tiny head of lettuce, and all those other things I said.

So I made that salad, and they brought over some vegan bratwurst with vegan cheese, which I didn’t try. However, What I did make was a kind of raw pie, where I did a mixture that was half date puree and half pulverized almonds, with fresh strawberries on top. If you ever need a simple recipe that doesn’t have to be quantified as vegan, but just tastes good anyway, this is it. It was gone. Very quickly.

Moreover, that thing over to the right of the regular salad? That’s a vegan coleslaw. With Tofu something mayonnaise. And you know something else? It was pretty good, too.

2) Bisquick. The thing about bisquick is, for those who don’t cook, it’s amazing. All you really need to do, and all you should want to do, is make shortcakes all the time. As it is a favorite in our household, we make it often, and now we’re coming into berry season, so that means a lot of delicious shortcakes are coming our way. For the 4th of July, we had friends over to watch the fireworks over Lake Union from our roof. There was wine, and snacks, and for dessert, I did my patriotic duty and made shortcakes with strawberries and blueberries. The shortcakes were actually red, white and blue! Can you believe it? No. Neither can I.

3) Grilling. We went over to a friend’s house a week ago for dinner. With al the berries that I have been picking up from the market, I’ve taken to making desserts such as the afforementioned shortcakes, cobblers, and crisps. It just so happened that I had a Strawberry/Rhubarb crisp that I could make, and so I did. We had some shrimp in the freezer, which we thawed out, and I made a relish with sungold tomatoes, ajvar, melted onions, a splash of red wine, and some dried chiles. We tried serving it on a loaf of seeded baguette, but the bread was a day past its prime, and it ended up being too hard. I fought through it, as some of the moisture had seeped into the loaf, but in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best thing to do.

In addition, we had roasted corn, cevapçi, (little lamb, pork, beef sausages with a lot of garlic), a lovely fresh salad with baby english cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, and lots of fresh summer melon. Top it off with the fact that we were in someone’s backyard out of the drone of overhead flight patterns, honking cars, boats and sirens from downtown. We were shaded by Japanese maples and bookended by a home garden and a little stream running through the backyard. After dinner, we all relaxed, and took a dip in the hot tub. I haven’t been in a hot tub for years, and after a long week at the market, during the crazy traffic pattern that is summer at Pike Place, a wall of water jets on your back is pretty much the best thing that anyone could hope for.

What else?

Oh, it’s taken me a bit of time to get back into the swing of cooking at home. I love to do it on a nightly basis, but occasionally, the motivation to cook is dwarfed by the aftereffects of a long day yelling and cutting fish. Fortunately, on the seventh day, God invented Sandwiches.

Here’s a shameless plug for a product that I really like, with a short story attached to it:

I’ve mentioned before the thing about the sandwiches. I’ve also managed to talk about my love for homemade or hearty breads. In the week leading up to the trip to Connecticut, I was sitting at home when I got a text from the lady. She told me that her mom was in adamant denial of the existence of a 15 grain bread. We hadn’t been able to find it at the local grocery for a couple of weeks, but she asked me if I were able to find it, would I bring a loaf out?

Of course I would.

And of course, I forgot.

When we got back, though, there was something else that caught her eye. One day I came home to find a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread in the fridge. This bread had seeds, grains, crumbs, everything. We made grilled cheese with it, and it toasted marvelously. It has held up to every test we have given it, including my most recent adventure, the duck fat grilled cheese.

The label is filled with faux propaganda (“Say No To Bread On Drugs”), until you go to the guy’s website and read his story. On the back of the bag, it says, essentially, that he loved two things- drugs, and bread. People make mistakes, and this is his shot at redemption. I’m totally down with that. If you go to his website, he really doesn’t gloss over much of anything, but I really appreciate the work that it must take to reinvent yourself from the life that you’ve lived, and turn it around, making a successful go of it. If I had read the story (http://daveskillerbread.com/), I’d be more inclined to buy it solely out of personal support, but did I mention that it tastes delicious? Oh, because it does. Bold statements by Dave about himself. Really well rounded story.

That's right. It has that many grains.

Moreover, when you say you make killer bread, you’d better back it up. I think he did. Without further ado, I give you proof, everyone in the world, that there is bread with not just 15 grains, but even more than 15 grains. 19 grains just isn’t enough. 20? Keep going. This bread has 21 grains. And it looks very good. If you can, be in the Portland/Seattle area, and buy some of this bread. It is a bread that excites me.

So I guess that’s about it. I mean, I made some food. I ate some food, and I got to share it with a bunch of people. I’ve been attempting to cook dinners and things at home, and hopefully, I’ll be in the Christmas spirit soon enough, so that I can give and give and give, and fill the stockings of hungry children around the apartment with delicious puddings, fishes, and sauces in that ancient tradition, whilst singing “Merrily, We Roll Along” and sauteeing some vegetables on the stove. I’ll leave you with a particularly healthy dinner that we had just the other night. All that needs to be considered when you purchase your food is “Can you cook it, and do you have the energy to make it grand?” I don’t know about grand, but I tried to make it taste good. That’s all I can do, and I think I am content with that.

This is Roasted Ivory King. And green leafies, the leafiest of the leaves.