Heart on a String: A sweetly simple sign of love

It’s funny the way that holiday decorations can instantly bring me to a happy place. In December, the stress of holiday traveling melts away when I see my childhood stocking (made by my mother years ago) hung over the fireplace. In college, I remember the sense of connection and solace when my friends and I would do silly things like paint Easter eggs together or decorate our dorm rooms with hand-print turkeys. It made being away from home a little easier.

Vase of Pussy Willows

Seeing this vase makes me feel like I’m home.

This is how I feel every February when I go up to my grandma’s house for my birthday and see a familiar white vase on the table, full of pussy willows and dangling red heart candies. I feel like a kid again, like I’ve come home from camp or a weekend slumber party.

Logically, it doesn’t make much sense because growing up I was never at my grandparents’ house this time of year — I was always in school. Instead they would fly to Alaska (on alternate years) to visit my brother and me for our birthdays. I was oblivious to the whole pussy willow/candy heart tradition until I was living in Portland and began spending my birthday weekends with them in Tacoma. Yet, there’s still a nostalgic feeling attached to those little gummy hearts.

Maybe it’s because the story connected to the vase and its enticing sweets is so familiar. Every year I hear about my uncle, who in his younger days used to pull all the hearts off their strings, leaving behind the empty circles of thread as evidence. My grandma loves to tell me this story and honestly, every year I enjoy hearing her recount the memory. It makes me feel connected knowing that traditions (along with having a sweet tooth) remain a constant in my family.

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Tales from the Garden: The first berry blush

My friend DB recently gave me some of his amazing strawberry plants since the starters I bought three years ago never produced a single berry. I was hopeful that his would be more successful and they are definitely off to a great start!

Strawberry ripening

One strawberry is already starting to ripen!

First berry blush

I’m so excited!

Vacation Cooking: Why I Married a Chef

The main reason we rented the place we did in St. Martin is because it has a fully equipped kitchen. One trip to the Grand Marche and we were all set to make a few meals “at home” instead of eating out. Luckily I got to sit out on the balcony while my husband did the cooking!

Soft Boiled Egg, Mache, Lemon Zest Salad...with some Foie Gras and Proscuitto thrown in for fun...

Soft Boiled Egg, Mache, Lemon Zest Salad…with some Foie Gras and Proscuitto thrown in for fun…

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The life of a tropical island cat…

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I am sure that in all honesty island life is hard on stray kitties, but this guy seems to do just fine. Grand Case Beach Club, St. Martin.

I am sure that in all honesty island life is hard on stray kitties, but this guy seems to do just fine. Grand Case Beach Club, St. Martin.

Things That Make Me Happy: Seattle Sights and Bites

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One of the reasons I love my job as a meat distributor so much is the edible perks. I not only get to go to fun culinary events, like the one my company hosts every year, but I also get to make “sales calls” to visit my customers. And those calls usually always revolve around eating. Hey, since they buy meat from me, the least I can do is show my appreciation and eat some of it!

Last weekend, my husband and I planned an eating pilgrimage to Seattle that came to a pinnacle at Cochon 555. And since we were already planning the road trip, we decided to spend the day before the event eating our way through the city. There will be plenty more pictures to come but here’s a quick preview!

The Aunt Annie's Biscuit Sandwich at The Wandering Goose

The Aunt Annie’s Biscuit Sandwich at The Wandering Goose: Fried chicken, bread & butter pickles, mustard and honey, all on a buttermilk biscuit!

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Time and Tsai’s Asian-Style Sloppy Joe Sliders

Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders

Ming Tsai’s Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders

Usually when I see a recipe in a magazine it can take me a while to get around to actually making it. I am routinely pulling things out of my recipe binder that are dated back as far as 2003. But some things just sound so good that I immediately head out to the store to buy the ingredients.

Such was the case with this dish, Ming Tsai’s Asian-Style Sloppy Joe Sliders, which were featured in the January issue of Food & Wine. I saw hoisin sauce, lime juice and ground pork and I was sold.

Apparently, Tsai’s mother used to make these for him when he was growing up and all of the kids at school would trade their lunches just to get one. I can totally buy this story because these beat the pants of any PB&J out there!

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