Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In My Kitchen: Nov/Dec 2015

A wish for the season: Let there be peace on earth

The brightly decorated Argosy Christmas Ship led a flotilla of lighted vessels for Seattle's annual Christmas Ship Parade, a northwest tradition for over 60 years. The ships stop at a different cruising destination every evening on Lake Washington or Lake Union, and later in the month move outside through the locks to stop at communities on the saltwater of Puget Sound. Luminarias line the shore and crowds gather around bonfires to listen to the various choirs on board singing Christmas carols. We can view the festivities from our dock, front yard... or (as we did this year) move the party inside the kitchen to keep warm and dry. Laci brought hot chocolate and scrumptious pumpkin cheesecake tarts and Hilary contributed a plate of beautifully decorated Christmas cookies. The amplified music was loud enough to rattle the windows and vibrate my bones! Fa la la la la...
November and December brought a host of welcome visitors to the kitchen. Lively conversations, occasional tall tales and a ton of laughter kept the season active and upbeat. Buckets of late-season dahlias gathered from Pat's garden added riotous color to the room, as did the neon-bright vibrance of a mixed bouquet that Hilary found at Seattle's Pike Place Market.

Vicki's elegant double-spray phalaeonopsis and a dozen long-stemmed red roses from RL provided slightly more restrained notes of blossom joy to the kitchen display. 

Flowers provided feasts for the eyes, but there was plenty of food action as well, just not much of my cooking. I love to feed people (drop by anytime and we'll enjoy a cuppa or some spirits plus a homemade treat), but lately I've been the guest as friends and family bring the treats along with them. Several breakfasts, lunches and an amazing Thanksgiving celebration all arrived as ready-to-go parties. We're so fortunate to have friends and family that are such awesome cooks! Hmmmmm, there might be pre-Christmas pounds piling up already.

RL continues his hunt for The Best pickled herring and kimchi available locally. I politely decline his invitations to join the ongoing taste tests, considering myself a hero good sport for allowing these aromatic items to hang out in the fridge! My one and only attempt at pickling herring (link) squelched my enthusiasm, but I am willing to give homemade kimchi a try... maybe next year. This duo was a recent purchase, judged tasty enough to eat but still not the ultimate he's searching for.

Hilary created intriguing "zoodles" with her new kitchen gadget, a spiralizer. Topped with the latest batch of Minnuto spicy red sauce, these zucchini and yellow squash noodles were a low-carb dinner hit and a surprisingly good swap-out for pasta. 

Oven-roasted vegetables are seasonal favorites - ok, at least one of us loves them. We're increasingly fond of roasted cauliflower, fennel and broccoli as stand-alone items, then as flavor-packed components in mixed-ingredient dishes. Tasty and healthy, what's not to like about veggies? (Are you reading this, RL?)

Leftovers often accumulate when there are only two of us dining. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey is prized for cold sandwiches and Kentucky Hot Browns, leftover roasted veggies are terrific on sandwiches, in frittatas and salads, but this week's leftover item of choice was wild rice. It made a perfect base for this colorful, sweet yet savory, crunchy and tangy, Nutty Wild Rice Salad. We rediscovered this forgotten favorite from the Silver Palate cookbook and both wondered why it had been ignored for so long. Tasty enough at lunch, with some added shredded chicken it's a satisfying dinner salad, and later on a remaining cup worked well as filling for a few lettuce wraps. 

This post is linked to Celia's IMK monthly get-together at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Celia has hosted this gathering for five years, building an amazing community of food bloggers who invite you inside their lives and kitchens for a virtual visit each month. Thank you Celia, for your efforts and energy in organizing the party!


  1. The flowers at the Pike Street Public Market are always so gorgeous and appropriate for the season. I especially love the spring sweet peas and fall dahlias. Wonderful things in your kitchen this month. Roast cauliflower is a favorite at our house as well.

    1. The Pike Place Market IS a colorful and entertaining destination year 'round though lately rain gear and sweaters are recommended.

  2. I'd love that ship parade. We had our canal's Christmas boat parade and it doesn't compare but it was fun. Those flowers are really beautiful!

    1. Fresh flowers are an indulgent luxury that I love, especially during our frequent gray winter days.

  3. so many lovely flowers in your kitchen. yes we love roasted cauli and broccoli in this house. that is funny you mention kentucky hot browns. i had never heard of them before but just lately i have seen several different mentions of them in blogs and so on. so weird to suddenly see this recipe all over the place. merry xmas to you and yours.

    1. Totally delicious but not very heart-healthy, we enjoy Hot Browns as an end-of-holiday treat... a southern tradition transplanted to the Pacific NW.

      According to
      "The History of Kentucky Hot Browns
      In the 1920s, dinner dances at Louisville’s Brown Hotel drew more than 1,000 guests. During band breaks, hungry revelers refueled on chef Fred Schmidt’s late-night eats. His signature? The Kentucky Hot Brown, a pillowy cushion of toasted bread topped with sliced turkey and an avalanche of Mornay sauce—all broiled until golden brown. Crisp bacon strips and tomato (or pimento) added the final flourish."

  4. Those roasted vegies look delicious as does the pickled herring...LOVE pickled herring and it is a must at our Christmas table :) And what a collection of blooms you have. Lovely having guests bringing the food over, makes it all so easy and no stress...but your banana bread sounds and looks divine! Haven't made banana bread in a while! Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

  5. Love the look of the roast cauliflower, must try it!


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