gwyn: (food)
The last question comes from [personal profile] raveninthewind: Tell me your favorite Seattle restaurants/eateries, and what you order

This is challenging because I really don't get to go out much anymore. And I love to go to restaurants, but with few people to hang out with and my back issues, these days there's not much excuse to go out, and i hate to eat out alone. But there are a couple places I love, and some places I've been to recently that I would love to go back to.

One of my favorite places is really just a tiny hole-in-the-wall creperie in the Pike Place Market called Crepe de France. I just love the french ham and cheese crepe, it's so satisfying and simple, and sometimes I splurge and get the banana-Nutella-almond one afterward.

Also at the Market, I love Le Pichet, which is a small French bistro. I have had some truly lovely meals here, and I usually get something simple like the baked egg and ham, or the pate, or the mussels, and the bread is divine here. It's the first place I ever had honey lavender ice cream, and tasting that was inspirational in me wanting to learn how to make good ice cream in unusual flavors.

French of a different variety, Toulouse Petit on Queen Anne is fantastic New Orleans cuisine, and one of the few places in town I can get my food weakness -- a croque monsieur (or a monte cristo -- there's something about those things I love). I had a tasting lunch here with some friends once and everything I ate was fabulous. With hundreds of things on the menu, though, this is one of those places that's just not much fun by yourself, and it's best when you can eat with a bunch of other people and share bites.

A few weeks ago, a bunch of us went to a sushi place on Capitol Hill called Momiji that was fucking spectacular. I really want to go there again. I don't even remember what I had, just that it was jawdroppingly good.

And for basic, American-style Chinese food, I love Snappy Dragon up in north Seattle, but I don't get to go there as much as I'd like. My favorite Thai place in town closed a few years ago, and I haven't found one yet to replace it. I do have a favorite Indian place, but they closed a while ago due to a fire, and the past couple times we've gone by, they were still closed, and I'm scared India Gate is never going to reopen. I mean, I love this place so much i drive quite far to get to it; I will cry if they never reopen.
gwyn: (spuffy band kathyh)
Ugh, I knew this would happen. Whenever I have a book to edit, I fall behind on whatever project I take on. So I have talking meme points 6 & 7 to do today.

[personal profile] sperrywink asked: How about vidding in Buffy fandom: Likes and dislikes?

Buffy fandom actually helped me transition from being a VCR vidder to a computer vidder. I had done a vid on VCRs, Do What You Have to Do, that I decided to remaster as my first-ever computer vid when I got my first iMac. I had to record the dvds onto a digital tape using my dad's camcorder, then load the digital copies on to my Mac, and then the fun of editing in iMovie occurred. It was really hard for me to grok, but I was so happy with the results, especially because I had dealt with one of the worst aspects of VCR vidding -- trying so hard to get an insert edit to work, ruining both the master and source tapes -- on that vid, and I could not fix it. As much as many people I know loved that vid, all I could see was this terrible clip I'd had to use just so I could move on. It tortured me for years, man.

Because I was still working on VCRs, I never got into a lot of the Buffy vidding fandom community -- I came late to the party in that respect, even though I'd been making Buffy vids from a lot earlier than, say, most of the people on Nummy Treat. That was hard, because I felt really isolated and one of the most important aspects of vidding, and of fandom, for me, is being part of a community. When I'm in a fandom of one, or isolated from most of a community, it is really hard to motivate myself. I think that's a lot of why I despair of the level of communication (everything from mailing lists and LJ to comments on stories and vids) in fandom these days; without the community and the participation, my enthusiasm dries up and wafts away.

But anyway, like I said, I came to computer vidding in Buffy later than most, but that's not to say I didn't have a lot of vids in the fandom already. For some reason, it was Spike that got me started in writing fic and most of the vidding. I wouldn't have expected that at all, he's not my usual type of character, but I fell hard for him, and his story once he came back to Sunnydale really made me want to create fannish things.

And that was a whole other problem in itself. I was...kind of shocked at the animosity toward Spike vids or Spuffy vids. Especially after S6 and that whole execrable attempted rape scene. I mean, OK, I get it when a fandom erupts around a character you don't like, especially when said fandom is a lot of people turning a rough character into a woobie. I've been there -- I watched all the excuses everyone made for Krycek, and the way the fans turned him into poor wee ickle Alex. But wow, I still was somehow not prepared for the nastiness you got when you vidded Spike, especially after S6.

Because for me, that was a goldmine of vidding subjects. One vid that isn't online that I should really remaster, I think, was 3 Libras, which was my way of trying to make sense out of the whole wretched season (I really hate S6, if you can't tell), and it made me terrifically happy when I showed it at Escapade and a couple people commented on how it was the first time the season made sense for them. There was just so much you could do with Spike in a way you couldn't always with other characters, and I really loved that flexibility and that depth of creativity I could find in vidding him. His story inspired me a lot.

Not that that was all I vidded, I've done lots of other Buffy characters, but I stopped after a while because of some concerns that I was focusing too much on a couple fandoms. I loved vidding La Femme Nikita and Buffy so much that really, outside of Firefly and the other other fandom, I could have done nothing else and still been happy, but that monomaniacal focus can turn into a joke pretty easily. I still have some songs that I want to do for the show, especially Giles because there never were enough Giles vids. Maybe at some point I will go back to it, even if I do worry that that might seem odd. I miss the show and I would love to see if I can recapture the magic that was lost with the souring of my feelings about Joss.

[personal profile] van asked: The best thing you ever ate!

This is so tough, because I have a really hard time remembering things like this. I mean, I remember lots of wonderful meals and menu items, but I have this nagging feeling that there's something really important to remember out there that I can't. I have been to some amazeballs restaurants and had astounding meals cooked by people I know, but I forget all those things quickly.

One meal I do remember was going to a super-exclusive private club at the top of the Columbia Tower, at that time the tallest building west of Chicago, with our new CEO at the association I worked for, who was a member of the club and who had invited us all to dinner to celebrate his new position. It was an amazing meal, just amazing, but I remember the lobster bisque before dinner -- it was simply incredible and I've been searching for a lobster bisque as good ever since. Never found it. Everything that came after was superb, as well, but that lobster bisque...oh, man, was that fine.

Another really wonderful food night came just recently. When I was visiting [personal profile] therienne, [personal profile] arduinna, and [personal profile] mollyamory last May in Boston, they took me to this basic, nondescript Mexican place near their home. It wasn't a special place or anything, had previously been a chain restaurant, but they made guacamole at your table to your specifications, so I could get it without onions tainting it, which was awesome. It was salty and delicious and fresh, and so wonderfully avocado-y, and I nearly cried when it was gone (which it was, right away). I wanted more and more and more. Then we followed that up with some queso, and I about died and went to heaven -- it was so fresh and tasty, not like what I was used to with queso at all. Really, that was just the best dinner, even though it wasn't some special hard to get into restaurant that would cost you $500 for dinner. (I'm sure the company didn't hurt, either!) I can't find anyplace like it around here, and really, I would consider flying out to Boston just to go to this restaurant again.
gwyn: (food)
I made my first fruit pie today from blackberries I picked last night and peaches M'lyn brought me from Yakima this weekend. I make a mean punkin pie, but I've never made a fruit one, for some reason. It turned out quite well, although I think it needed a skosh more cornstarch, since it was very very wet. But I love the super tartness of the blackberries with the peaches and the little bit of nutmeg on top brings a nice roundness.

I made the top crust out of little stars I cut with a cookie cutter. I saw it in a picture and though my friend Michael discouraged me from going fancy on my first berry pie, I had time waiting for the oven to heat. I think they needed an egg wash to maintain their shape a little better; I'll try that next time.

Overall, not bad. So far, in my very limited summer, I've made cardamom ice cream, fig ice cream, and now a blackberry-peach pie. I will get some more blackberries maybe this weekend and make blackberry ice cream next. Doesn't look like I'm going to get any persimmons on my tree yet again, so I'm not sure if I'll make the persimmon-black pepper syrup ice cream again, though I really liked that one.

Behold, pie!

gwyn: (food)
I made my first fruit pie today from blackberries I picked last night and peaches M'lyn brought me from Yakima this weekend. I make a mean punkin pie, but I've never made a fruit one, for some reason. It turned out quite well, although I think it needed a skosh more cornstarch, since it was very very wet. But I love the super tartness of the blackberries with the peaches and the little bit of nutmeg on top brings a nice roundness.

I made the top crust out of little stars I cut with a cookie cutter. I saw it in a picture and though my friend Michael discouraged me from going fancy on my first berry pie, I had time waiting for the oven to heat. I think they needed an egg wash to maintain their shape a little better; I'll try that next time.

Overall, not bad. So far, in my very limited summer, I've made cardamom ice cream, fig ice cream, and now a blackberry-peach pie. I will get some more blackberries maybe this weekend and make blackberry ice cream next. Doesn't look like I'm going to get any persimmons on my tree yet again, so I'm not sure if I'll make the persimmon-black pepper syrup ice cream again, though I really liked that one.

Behold, pie!

gwyn: (food)
So, now that I've made a few batches of ice cream, what have I learned? One, it's important to follow ALL the instructions for putting the device together. Two, I need to find some insulated gloves that I won't care about getting ice cream all over them, because frostbitten fingers just for the sake of dessert are not good.

I've made five different batches so far. Each one of them has turned out differently.

* The first was basic vanilla. This was the best one of all until the recent one. Possibly it was the ease, possibly it was also that dad put the contraption together correctly.

* Chocolate was next. That one turned out very badly, though my friend's kids loved it, and dad didn't complain. I just couldn't get the chocolate to unseize, first of all, no matter how long I heated it once the milk was in. My arm became so tired from stirring that I finally gave up and left the lumps in. I also didn't like the taste -- too dark cocoa powdery for me. I think I will eschew the B&J's recipes on chocolate and instead use the one in my West Coast Cooking book.

* Coconut actually tasted pretty good, although it was a little... foamy is the only word I can think of to describe it. It had a kind of consistency that reminded me of froth in a drink, which I hate. So I think I may tone down the coconut cream next time, just a little. This one also was waaaay more than the "generous quart" they said, and it was overflowing the mixer so bad I had to take it off before I think it was totally ready. And if I had put the damn thing together right, that might also have helped.

* Lavender was an especially valuable learning experience. I'd read repeatedly that steeping the lavender too long would make it bitter, but I did what the recipe called for, only I think it was much too long. I also think that between the too-long steep time and the lavender honey, it was a bit of sensory overload. Next time I'll steep it a lot less, and use half regular honey to half the lavender honey. And this was where I finally figured out a crucial small detail about the machine I was forgetting, and that's why it wasn't giving me the slip and locking sound signal that it was done.

* Peach, my latest batch, is probably the best of all of them. It's super, super creamy but with this faint peach taste, and small chunks of sweet tart peaches. And since I finally put the mixer together right, it did tell me when it was done, so I was able to get the peach pieces in in due time, and just as it started to runneth over, it was done. Yay! Everyone liked the lavender ice cream last week, even though they agreed that it was powerfully lavender, so this week I hope they will like the peach as much, if not more, for being more balanced.

Some people have summers of pie, I have summers of ice cream experiments, apparently. Although it's a little expensive to make, with the fresh summer produce, I'm enjoying it a lot. I think next week I'll grab some of the last of the plums and try that.

I bought a new cell phone (long story short, the old one wasn't keeping a charge and had a fatal flaw that was really bothering me, even though I mostly love the phone) off of ebay today. It was such a good price even on the buy it now price, it was unlocked and no contract, works with my carrier, and had free shipping. The one thing I don't really know how to do, though, is make it mine. When it comes, is there anything I have to do besides slip my old SIM card into the new phone? Does that carry over my numbers and information? I think I understand this stuff, but in practice, I really don't, and I've never done this before. I always went to the Cingular store, but I really don't like going there at all and I just loathe having to deal with the hard sell, when I know what I want to do and buy.
gwyn: (sojourner truth organizer)
Is there anything better than a lunch of cherry pumpernickel bread with spankin' fresh goat cheese, after a long walk back from the farmers market? Right now, I think not, as I stuff my face. I constantly forget to go to the farmers market in the center of West Seattle, even though it's walkable for me (though a bit of a long walk, especially when it's hot and you're carrying a really heavy bag), so I made a point of going today before the last of the summer produce gets away. I got some gigantic peaches for making ice cream, the aforementioned bread and chevre, some trailhead cheese (thanks, Alexfandra, for introducing me to that!), some smoked salmon ravioli, summer squashes, and best and most exciting of all, huckleberries. The last bunch of them, to be precise. OMG real huckleberries, not those farm grown lowland ones that aren't really huckleberries.

I'm going to have to get myself one of those carts you see crazy old ladies with, or something. I don't want to drive there, but every time I do go, I end up buying a lot of heavy stuff, and with squash season coming up that will get tiresome, carrying all that loot home. (And Jo, I found someone who actually carries pig lard.) And this guy I talked to told me about a friend of his who makes fresh roasted peanuts for the Ballard farmers market, so I may now have to check that out since I love me some peanuts.

I have to be careful when I go there (maybe that's why I always forget -- my subconscious is trying to protect me), because I always buy way too much stuff. But, I mean... cherry pumpernickel bread! Super fresh handmade inexpensive goat cheese! Heirloom veggies you never see anywhere else, and tree ripened peaches! mmmmmm And you can quench your thirst with a strawberry lavender lemonade that costs a buck.

I'm also posting because I wanted to show off my icon -- thanks to [ profile] the_red_shoes for the link to this post, with all these great community organizers icons. I had a hard time choosing one -- I mean, there's John Lennon and JFK & RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. and Aung San Suu Kyi and Thomas Jefferson and Cesar Chavez and Sitting Bull and Wilma Mankiller and just... tons of people whose faces you instantly know (Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, etc.) and people whose faces aren't remembered enough (Harriet Tubman, and the woman in my icon, Sojourner Truth). I chose Sojourner because, as many as I wanted to use, she had a huge impact on me as a kid, and I did a number of reports on her throughout my childhood in school, because I was impressed and amazed by her. (In fact, my lame tribute was that I named my first D&D role-playing character Sojourner, after her.) If you don't know who Sojourner is, there's a good history here at Wikipedia:

I'm not so much an Obama supporter, even with this icon, as I am an alternative supporter. I have grave concerns about some issues around Obama, and I still can't shake bad feelings about Joe Biden for a lot of reasons. I have a terrible, terrible feeling that McCain is going to win, and I am so depressed about the future of this country that sometimes I can't even sleep. But I loathe everything the GOP seems to stand for these days, and Palin's remarks, hell, her mere presence, just offends me, so I grabbed this icon, because... yeah. If they want to demean the experience of someone who has been a community organizer, then count me for standing together. I've been a volunteer for so many different groups, and to me, that's the only way we can ever effect change in this country. It's not going to be in the government, where they are too busy stripping the Constitution of everything it stands for.
gwyn: (food)
ice cream. Yes, yes we do. I made my first-ever batch of homemade ice cream last night. And by that I mean that I have never eaten homemade ice cream nor have I made it at home. I mean, sure, I've had ice cream that was made by hand by someone at a restaurant, but I've never had it made by someone I know in a... home. So it was not only fun, but highly educational.

My dad bought me a KitchenAid stand mixer for my b-day last year, which I really didn't want because I couldn't see myself using it (since baking is scary), and then he topped it off by getting me, instead of the thing I really wanted, an ice-cream-making attachment for it. Like I need ice cream. I have enough trouble trying to keep my weight down -- I might as well just sit down and eat some butter sticks. He's been hoping to make some for a long time but I kept putting him off because it seemed tedious and annoying, like most cooking is. I'm getting better at it, but cooking is still hard. People lie to me all the time about this: "Oh, cooking is easy once you get started." Liars whose pants are ON FIRE. People for whom cooking comes naturally say this to people like me all the time and I hope their noses grow so long they can't get through revolving doors next time.

But last night he came over to work on the batter part. He also got me the Ben & Jerry's ice cream book, which, though the sweet cream custard base is really simple and doesn't require cooking (yay!), mostly has recipes for ice cream with junk in it. As B&J's does. I will say right here, and I'm sure many people will recoil in horror at my heresy, that I don't like ice cream with junk in/on it. Nuts, maybe. But cookies, candy, and just... stuff, does not float my heavy cream and egg yolks boat. I like it purer. The only kind I like with junk in it is Rocky Road; even chocolate chip mint where the chocolate chips are actual chips/chunks as opposed to flecks of said chips/chunks is too much for me. I don't mind strips of other flavors -- for instance, I love ribbons of peanut butter, or honey, or something in the ice cream. But keep your sprinklies off my ice cream! (Unless they are the aforementioned nuts.)

Years ago, Dreyer's made this wonderful vanilla almond ice cream that I put chocolate sauce on and it was like having a sundae; now I can make my own. Dad and I just went with vanilla last night since that seemed like a good starter one. Next up is chocolate, of course. Then coconut, I think, although I've looked up recipes for honey lavender ice cream, which I had at this French bistro downtown, and it was the most heavenly thing I've ever put in my mouth (to paraphrase Buffy). Many of the recipes I found were way too complex, but there are a few that might be worth trying. Still, they involve cooking. Feh.

It definitely takes a lot of time. Poor dad had to go home and come back later tonight in order to enjoy the finally frozen fruits (creams?) of our labor because it takes quite a while to set. But it's glorious now that it has. It seems to melt a bit faster than commercial, but I assume that's because there are no stabilizers. Anyhow, even eating melted homemade vanilla ice cream is better than anything else. But now I have this big bowl of ice cream and I really don't want that on my hips! (Also, I want to make more more more now that I know how, so I need to free up space.) So, Seattle peeps, if you want to try some, come on by. Seriously. (Alexfandra, it's a daylong project, but you're welcome to come down and make some with me! We can go birding while we wait.)

Me, I'm going to the store to buy root beer later, and make myself a real homemade root beer float. Whee.
gwyn: (tea agentxpndble based on icon by starso)
OMG, Cute Overload posted a YouTube copy of my favorite cartoon ever, Warner Bros.' Feed the Kitty. It's hysterical, and I never watch it but I laugh and laugh, especially when Marc Anthony, the dog who falls in love with the little kitten, sits there grabbing his ankles and rocking back and forth, sobbing uncontrollably. Oh, man, I adore this cartoon. It's here and you should go watch it if you've never seen it before. I think it's even better than What's Opera, Doc?

[ profile] gattagrigia and hubby are back from Paris, where they picked me up a tin of Mariage Freres' Sakura green tea for 2008. If you've never tried Mariage Freres teas, you should. I am a tea fanatic, and I am amazed at how long I suffered without experiencing this tea. They've been making their classic black tin blends since 1854, though they've been hard to get in this country for a long time. Mariage Freres has a web site you can now order from, but it's probably the most ghastly design I've ever come across, on any browser. (In fact, [ profile] talkingsock, this would make you laugh and laugh.)

The company has made it difficult to order their basic line here -- you have to call the main distributor because they haven't let them make the teas available online any other way than their own site. But if you're lucky, there may be a store in your city you can find them; it's worth looking around. In Seattle, they're carried by Watson-Kennedy. After I tried some of the divine Montagne d'Or, which has flower petals and a fruity infusion to create this heavenly fruity-flowery black tea that is so mild and softly sweet you don't need any extra sweetener, I couldn't go back to other teas. Nothing is as good! Their blacks are incredibly well-blended, no bitterness, even in the darker leaves. The greens are soft, not grassy or sharp at all like cheaper greens can be. I have yet to try the white blends, because I haven't seen any here on the shelves, but maybe if I can ever navigate that crazy online store, I'll order some in the future. Whites can often taste like hay, so I'll be interested to see how theirs taste.

They're expensive, but worth every penny if you love a good cuppa.
gwyn: (Default)
I love my dad. Really, I do, despite our very rocky relationship for most of my life. But he's... he's a pig. So when he pestered me relentlessly to come over and make Christmas cookies from this ancient family recipe of my mom's, which only he, I, and [ profile] mlyn actually like, I finally caved in and said he could come over while I was ostensibly working. Even though I knew I'd have to take care of everything and not be able to do my work.

Now, keep in mind, I've barely had the chance to use my new kitchen to cook much. I still haven't replaced all the stuff I threw out with better, last a lifetime cookware and utensils. But yesterday dad comes over and brings like a trail-drive's worth of stuff with him and proceeds to completely blitz my kitchen. It looked like Beirut if Beirut were made of flour and lard. It took me nearly an hour to clean up. There was dough everywhere. I finished making the cookies after he pooped out, and it was just... well, I could have killed someone with the rolling pin, just because it was the worst rolling pin in the history of ever. I told him to take it away and never bring it back.

And today he wants to finish by icing the cookies with this other ancient family recipe. Which would be okay except... it entails powdered sugar. OMG y'all, powdered confectioner's sugar in the hands of a dancing bear! Imagine the carnage. I haven't even used the new dining table and it's already a mess with molasses spills and sugar.

Anyway, this weekend I plan to do my own cooking by making my first ever Irish soda bread, as well as trying to make mac and cheese. I was looking at mac recipes online, and I am stymied. Almost all of them have... bread crumbs. What the hell? Bread crumbs? When did mac and cheese have bread in it? That is such an aberration to me, yet it seems as if many people expect it. It's that way in nearly every recipe book I have.

So what say you? Is it a regional thing? Is that what you expect? And what does that do to the cheesy gooeyness that makes good mac and cheese? I should do a poll but I don't have the time. Maybe in the next post.
gwyn: (tea agentxpndble based on icon by starso)
I normally don't post about things like this, but I had to today. This weekend, I tried a new ice cream and it was like having heaven in a little tiny pint carton -- Haagen Dazs's Hawaiian Lahua Honey and Sweet Cream ice cream from their reserve series. I thought I'd give it a try since both the taste and scent of honey are among my absolute favorites, and it sounded kind of unusual (one of the best ice creams I ever had was also the Honey Lavender handmade ice cream at Le Pichet when [ profile] talkingsock took me there for lunch once).

Now, I have no idea what difference Lahua honey makes, because honey is just honey to me, mostly, but they put it into this super creamy sweet ice cream and there are also little tiny pocket swirls of the honey and OMG is it good. It's so rich and creamy and sweet, too, that a tiny bit goes a long way, which is great since I'm trying to cut back on everything (I don't believe in dieting, but I also know controlling how much you eat of treaty things makes a huge difference). And I've never been a big fan of Haagen Dazs, either, but this may change my mind a bit.

Now that I'm going to get a nice kitchen, I guess I should start a food tag. I'm already starting to think about what cookbooks I want to get.

And that's all I have to say. Kind of a bummer weekend, but at some point, I'll put up some more remodel pics now that I have cabinets.

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