Monday, March 31, 2014

Wheelchair Haven, Trader Joes in Federal Way, Salty's at redondo.

Kathy has reached a point where she needs a wheelchair. By not using one, she is facing escalating pain. So, I did a Google search and we went to Wheelchair Haven; what a cool place! The four wheel drive, all terrain, electric powered, single person scooter with an eight mile range is a total must have!

However, we settled for a Drive Rebel, self powered, with a really sporty red and black paint job. Kathy is already thinking about customizing it.

After that we headed for the Federal Way Trader Joe's. I love going to that store. Great selections from Wild Salmon Jerky to Chocolate Kona Truffles. And I am shocked by how much I missed! We picked up a copy of their free Fearless Flyer, it was the pizza edition. I'll be back!

At this point we were hungry for a late lunch. A customer at Trader Joe's heard us asking about the fish restaurant across the street and recommended Salty's at Redondo. Kathy had the Fish Tacos, I had the crab Mac and Cheese. But I loved the way they put the crab in the center of the Mac Cheese instead of mixing it in. It was all good, but not great.

Lebanese Meze - David and Shannon - LTCC Small Group

We are hoping to host David and Shannon on Tuesday night. When I asked them about their food allergies, likes and dislikes, they said avoid sushi. And then I learned how adventurous they are when it comes to cuisine. I have been feeling an urge to enjoy Middle Eastern Cuisine. Lately, I have been thinking about Lebanese cuisine and I think a meze, the tappas of the Middle East would be fun.


Pomegranete lime juice, served in small cups. Water with lemon in glasses, ask if they want ice.

Soup section of meal

Baked GF multi-grain bread with yogurt/cucumber/masala, (Raisa variant). Place on large plates with apricot and tomato garnish .

Beef orange soup served in small bowls on top of large plates. Remove bowls when complete.

Spicy potato leek soup served in small bowls on top of large plates. Remove bowls when complete.


Mini-shish kabob on a tooth pick with a base of red pepper, a ground chicken shawarma ball, and a green onion cap, 2 per person offered. Also, Hummus with fire roasted red pepper and green onion. Served on large plate.

Salted turkey strip with fig paste, served on the large plate, 2 per person offered.

Halibut, (I do not have Tilapia handy), with feta cheese and fennel leaves. served on small plate. Remove large plates, bring new small plates.

Fig, Date, Pistachio filled brownies.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Elk Bourguignon

One of the big mistakes people make with a freezer is they put things in the freezer and don't take them out and the food gets freezer burned. We have been living off pre-cooked meals for the past week making room to put some more in there. I use a FoodSaver, ( like a seal a meal), put prepared meals in the freezer facing up and sealed with clips. That way the vacuum action doesn't suck up all the juice. I put the bags in a loaf pan in case of a spill.


4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Costco or Wal-Mart bacon bits OR uncured turkey bacon, it is available at the Federal Way Trader Joe's or the Sumner WinCo. (This and the beef broth are the reason you do not add salt until just before serving)
2 1/2 pounds Denver leg elk cut into 1-inch cubes, (It probably is not needed but I whack them with my meat tenderizer, I got my leg from Butcher Boys in Puyallup, but the fine folks at Specialty Meats will ship it right to your door which is a lot less complex than trying to figure out how to thaw a 22 lb. hunk of meat you paid $350.00 for.
1 pound skinless baby carrots (the bigger ones do better) OR if you have the luxury of time to cook them just before serving, use a non-stick skillet, put them in with no oil or water, and you end up with gorgeous blackened carrots that are sweeter than the ones you cook in the dish.
2 medium onions sliced, but not too fine
2 teaspoons minced garlic, you may want more at the end, taste first though
1/2 cup Gran Marnier, you can substitute cognac, but the orange flavor is nice.
25 oz. Black Box Merlot
2 cups beef broth, (read the label, avoid monosodium glutamate)
1 pound mushrooms, I prefer the smaller Cremeni mushrooms, cut in half
1 tablespoon tomato paste or Heinz no high fructose corn ketchup
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, you may want more at the end, taste first though
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, (or general purpose gluten free mix) prepared in a roux
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt as needed


When I do beef, I switch to 1/2" beef cubes and use a crock pot, but you want to feature elk, hence the 1" cubes. I put two of the tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a large sauce pan, (think pasta sized) and toss the onions in to brown. When cooking elk, do not overcook, when cooking with beef, I have been known to use a crockpot and do the 24 hour thing.


Bourguignon is typically served over toast. Kathy does not like it when her toast gets soggy. A good roux to thicken the broth goes a long way. I pull some of the broth out of the pot and since this is a gluten free kitchen, I use arrow root or a roux made with Hodgson Mill GF Pancake Mix, ( I think I got this at the Sumner Fred Meyer).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jury duty - Tacoma Superior Court

Monday, March 24, I reported for jury duty at Pierce County Superior Court, 930 Tacoma Ave. I wasn't sure how much traffic I would encounter so I left home early and arrived at 0745. There was already a line at the security checkpoint.

According to Connie, the juror mom, there were 165 people in the juror assembly room, there are 90 juror parking spots. They had a training movie to watch, followed by a brief by Connie and they started assigning us to groups. My group is called marble. We each got a number. Then they gave us a questionnaire and when we turned it in, we were allowed to leave. Tuesday, we sat in the room, they said it would be till 1430 but they did not call us till 1505.

During the lunch break, I decided to get the lay of the land, so I started walking down, (down), Tacoma Ave. S. After a few blocks it was becoming clear I was heading into the wrong part of town, so I reversed course and went the other way, (North). Still did not find anything notable. It started raining, so I turned around again. I remembered there was a MacDonald's across the street from the court building. I would have preferred something local, but since I hold that equity, I try to stick my head in the door from time to time. Had the Bacon Habenero Ranch Quarterpounder, not bad.

Wednesday, a group of six ladies, fellow jurors, invited me to join them at Tower Coffee Bar and Grill for lunch. I had the Greek Salad, nice greens and presentation, but they need to work on the dressing, it seemed to be pure balsamic vinegar. I also tried the club, which the barista said was the best selling thing on the menu. It was huge, but the bread was dry and fell apart. However, two of the ladies got the macaroni and cheese and it looked awesome. If I go back, I think I will try it. What I am hoping for is a lunch break that let's me experience the Bates Technical College Chef Training lunch. If not, Kathy and I may just have to drive into Tacoma sometime and give that a try.

Thursday, I got a bye and got to stay home, good thing too, I am starting to fall behind.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Al, Bev, Hillary and Dani - Al is an Elder at LTCC - GF Dinner

We are honored to host Al and Bev and their daughters, Hillary and Dani. Like all meals in our kitchen, this will be Gluten Free. We are serving Thursday dinner and having some neighbors for Friday lunch and decided to make a double portion of the main and hold the rest in reserve until tomorrow.


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus w celery sticks for serving (on arrival)
Almond Soup
Main: Elk Goulash over Potatoes Tumeric
Chocolate Cherry Pecan Tell

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus w celery sticks for serving

Crazy! I picked up some Hummus mix from WinCo, and did not get the directions to make it, (I know, I know, just add water, but that is not how I think). So I did a Google search for Hummus from dry mix and WinCo came up in the number two spot on page one of Google. The recipe said just add water *grin*, but they also recommend olive oil.

I roasted a chunk of red pepper on one of the burners of my stovetop, cut it up, stirred it up, finished with a sprinkle of Gamay Masala; life is good indeed.

Almond Soup

Collected some parsley and mint from the garden and rinsed them well. Chopped some green onion tops, 1/2 a red pepper, tsp. grated coconut, 1 quart almond milk, sea salt to taste, ruling spice is cloves. Have some almond flour in a bowl ready to mix with hazelnut oil to create a roux.

Fattoush (Peasant Salad)

This can be almost anything in the world as long as you end up with something tangy and slightly sweet. I made this with raw cabbage, chopped red pepper, tops of green onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, using a vegetable peeler I added strips of cucumber. I gave it a light dressing of yogurt and tumeric and on the side did a tahini/yogurt/raspberry vinegar dressing.

Elk Goulash Pin Ups

I have two servings for four or five people each serving from my frozen elk rump purchase from Butcher Boys. Got the last of the uncooked elk out of the freezer on Tuesday. For pin ups, I need a fairly thin slice. If the elk is slightly frozen that is much easier to accomplish. In the mean time I worked on the filling. 4 small onions, 1 green pepper into the blender, puree goes into a non-stick skillet to start cooking off some of the water.
Spices. (any Hungarian Goulash recipe you trust will help you with the flavoring), here is mine:
2 tbsp. paprika,  (smoked and spicy if possible)
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. caraway seeds, either soak them overnight or run them through the blender
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Cube some Monterey Jack cheese, 1/4" pieces, throw them in the pan and kill the heat immediately, you want the cheese to be slightly distinct from the sauce. Throw the mix into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to start setting up. Work on your largest cutting board. Put a toothpick for each pin up in the work area, once your hands are goopy you will not want to be reaching into the toothpick container. Take the thin sliced elk, spread the sauce on it, have your toothpick ready when you start to roll, carefully insert the tooth pick, I find working from the high side at about a 45 degree angle towards the cutting board.

These will be baked and served over the:

Yukon Yellow Potatoes Tumeric

Note: this is designed to serve between 4 and 6 people, we will use a different starch on Friday.

I found a 3 lb bag of small potatoes at WinCo and they seemed like fun. Slice the potatoes longwise, (flat not tall), and fill a medium sized skillet when them facing up. Cover with water. Add 2 tsp. tumeric, cook on high. While the Yukon potatoes are cooking, finely chop a small onion, a celery stalk, a large cremini mushroom and add them.

I have found these yellow potatoes can be all over the map doneness wise and cook unevenly in the microwave or baked, that is why we are boiling them. The next step is a bit tricky. Take three tbsp of cheddar cheese powder, (they sell it in the bulk at WinCo and in "survival" cans at Wal-Mart), put it in a bowl, pour some liquid from the skillet and whisk immediately in the bowl till smooth and add back to skillet. Put on the low setting of your lowest burner, the goal to produce a nice thick paste without burning, or creating a mess stuck to the skillet for all time and place. Transfer to a pyrex baking disc tops up, sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top of the potatoes, Broil for two minutes, if the cheese is browned, you are done. Put the pin ups on top. 15 minutes before serving place the dish in a pre-heated oven at 325, (recommend a meat thermometer into the center of a couple pin ups).

Chocolate Cherry Pecan Tell

In ancient times in the middle east, when a culture failed, the next culture would build their city over the top of the old one. Eventually you had a hill or a small mountain and this was called a tell, I guess it is kind of like Mt. Trashmore in VA Beach.

I wanted a dessert, not too exotic nor too plain. You can use any decent gluten free brownie mix that calls for either chocolate chips or diced chocolate bar. Made the first layer with a bit too much egg white, (I substituted egg white for the 2 eggs in the recipe), so it spreads out, (it is a multilayered tell we need a foundation). Started it off with a large non-stick skillet till the bottoms were set and the tale-tail signs of a pancake, (bubbles on the top), showed through. Quick like bunny, I removed the pan from the heat and pressed in the first layer of Mortmorency cherries. Covered them with more dough, and put them in the broiler. Do Not over cook, if the bottom is burned, it is time to start over.

For the next layer, I added a pecan and three more dried cherries to each tell. Since I used a pasteurized egg product, food safety is not a huge issue, so you can have have moist "molten" chocolate on the inside and a more done, maybe even approaching crust if not crunchy, on the outside. Do cover every original surface with some of the batter or it will burn.

Lather, rinse repeat, you can go four or five surfaces high, in fact if you didn't have a life, I bet you could go taller, but I prefer to play the averages, real guests are really coming. Let's get this done and baked!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kevin Le Landscaping & Gardening Services

A couple weeks ago I found an extra large green postcard in my mailbox advertising their services; these guys do it all. We just had a concrete driveway installed, (long story), and for safety reasons it has a 30' long planter in front of the retaining wall. But they filled the planter with gravel.

Kevin and his team dug it out being careful not to damage, the telephone conduit is routed along the street side. Then they filled it with some really good looking topsoil. There was not enough topsoil, but he did not argue and went to get more. Since he was so amenable I offered some more work. There is a poorly installed, harry homeowner style retaining wall on the other side of the drive way. He agreed to build a proper retaining wall and fill it back up with topsoil for an additional $500.00. Fantastic! They finished filling in the planters and as a team we installed huckleberries.

I plan to ask him about a couple more projects when we pay for this one, I am a very satisfied customer. If you have had people fail to show up, or similar issues, I think you will find Kevin a blessing. 253-444-7127, 425-614-8060,

Here is a photo of his equipment and that is Kevin inspecting his retaining wall.

Update: I have used Kevin for several other big jobs including covering the path by the lake with gravel. It is 300' from the driveway, all downhill, but the last 20' is a cliff. Kevin constructed a chute out of sheet metal and they poured the gravel down the cliff, pretty akamai!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

McDonalds in Wal-Mart on 410 - Bacon Clubhouse Chicken Grill

I hold McDonald's stock in the personal mutual fund that I manage. This has been a good stock to hold over the past decade, dividend payer and a slow, steady increase doubling in price over ten years.  However 2013 and 2014 to date have been challenging.

McDonald's appears to have three main strategies that are interesting.

The first is value, the dollar menu and, get this, two big Macs for 5 dollars, not sure it is true at all restaurants. Unless I had a friend, two big Macs is a no go, but I love the McDonald's cheeseburger and that is on the dollar menu. So value is one strategy, but that pushes them into a low margin business.

The second strategy is coffee. It is high margin and would serve as a moat against the Starbucks strategy of selling food. My opinion is that McDonalds is not going to take much coffee market share away from Starbucks, not will Starbucks take much food market share away from any of the players with their current product offerings.

The third strategy is to come up with a new "hit" food item. If customers love the Mc_whatever, they will likely favor McDonalds over options like Starbucks, Burger King etc.

This is why I try to sample some of the new offerings. Kathy wanted to go to Wal-Mart to buy some muck, ( gardening), shoes. I drove her there. I was hungry, it was 3 PM, and all I had eaten for the day was some home cooked, low calorie, high fiber, high inflammation fighting ginger snaps. So, while she picked up shoes, I tried one of their new food items, the Bacon Clubhouse Chicken Grill.

I was not impressed at all. The bun fell apart, the flavor was not there. I saw the guy in the kitchen put the "white cheddar" slice on the sandwich, but I could not taste it. I believe with all my heart McDonalds should continue looking for a new hit item and there will be some misses along the way.

Final note, I have monitored the foot traffic to this in store McDonalds for several years. It is steady, someone is always in line to order, but it is not a long line and one or two or even three people are waiting to pick up. Very respectable.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Berryland Cafe - Sumner

We were unable to find the DMV where we wanted to eat at the Mongolian BBQ that is in the same shopping center. So we zipped up to Sumner on Valley Ave and went to Main St. There are not a lot of restaurants in Sumner we have not been to, but one of them is Berryland.

It is an interesting place. Not fine cuisine, bit run down, but friendly. And, like our trip to Covington, this was similar to the experience at the Lake Wilderness Grill. Patrons knew each other by first name.

Hamburger type menu, but the pies, oh the pies. Kathy had the potato salad, clearly locally made with mustard and pickle relish, not too sweet. She also had the butternut squash soup of the day, a little sweet for our taste, but spiced well.

I had the "French Dip", roast beef served with Au Jus, (though it wasn't before I ate half the sandwich) and Clam Chowder. We did not have room to order pie, but we will be back for a coffee and to share a piece of pie.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Small plates and bowls - PNW Theme - Mark and Debbie - LTCC Small Group

The last two dinners we hosted, we used the bamboo server. Kathy and I discussed the theme and we decided it would be fun to do a Pacific Northwest Theme, Also I want to use my cast iron skillet in some capacity, that used to be my primary heating go to tool. Mark and Debbie seem to be an athletic, outdoor sport oriented couple and hopefully this will resonate.


  1. Set small plates, bowls will be placed on small plates
  2. PNW Gumbo in bowl, shared spiced rice to taste. remove bowls
  3. Scallop in a blanket
  4. Shrimp salad, remove orange bowls
  5. Stuffed clams two ways, remove clam shells
  6. Dandelion salad, remove small plates
  7. Break, cook elk kabobs, replace small plates, serve in cast iron skillet
  8. Remove small plates
  9. Serve rhubarb/apple in small bowls


Ahead of time, since we are going to freeze it, I did this Sunday night.

PNW Gumbo

When the Papaun bamboo server dinner was over and Kathy started to take Jonnie and Sharlyne for a tour of the house, quick like bunny I threw anything that had not been eaten from the server into the chicken broth. After our guests left, I chopped some vegetables: asparagus, some green onions, an organic red pepper and threw them in and left them on low all night. Friday evening after we got back from Covington, I took my ladle and poured five ladles worth into the BlendTec. I blended it until it was smooth. Then I tasted it; it tasted like and had the consistency of gumbo with the spice on the back end. OK fine, how to make it PNW? I you do your research, you may find that many people feel there is no such thing as PNW cuisine and if there is it comes down to smoked salmon. In addition the native peoples primary food sources were salmon and clams. I don't agree there is not such thing as PNW cuisine, there is a vibrant foodie culture here, but it certainly gives license to explore. Instead of shrimp, we will make this gumbo with salmon. I had some Wal-Mart wild caught boneless, skinless salmon in the freezer. The Ken Onion Shun knife made short work of the frozen salmon. I poured some of gumbo into a saucepan to cook the raw salmon. The last time I went to WinCo they had small packages of Pike Place Fish Market Sockeye Candy Bites (I try to always use smoked salmon without sodium nitrate and they don't use it), so I peeled the skin off a couple bites, chopped them up and tossed them in. Then I used the FoodSaver I got on sale from the Sumner Fred Meyer, sealed it up and threw it in the freezer till the day before.

Then I remembered I had a third type of smoked salmon, the canned type they sell in aluminum envelopes, so I opened a package took some out shredded it and will use it as garnish.

I will also make a flavored rice to spoon onto the gumbo.

Tuesday Night

Place the elk in a pyrex baking pan to start thawing in the fridge, NOT the meat drawer. I would like to get it soft enough to handle with a butcher knife, but odds are I will need to use a saw.
NOTE: happy surprise, it was just soft enough to cut with a large butcher knife.

Fat Free Greek Yogurt Sauces

Shrimp Salad

Juice a half Mandarin orange. Use the shell to hold a shrimp sauce made of yogurt using Giada's recipe. Make the sauce up, store in a covered pyrex and store the "bowls" in the fridge.

Stuffed Clams two ways

I grated a potato, microwaved for 75 seconds with a bit of oil. Split the mixture in half. In each of the two sealable pyrex containers, I put equal amounts of grated, cooked potato and nonfat Greek yogurt, season both with garlic powder and salt, ( ok, I confess, a splash of red pepper). Then make the ruling sauce spice for one paprika, for the other turmeric. One hour before serving I will pull from the fridge and bring the temp up till it is a bit above room temp.

Wednesday Night

Scallop in a Blanket 

Took some of the frozen cooked breadfruit, added some egg white so it would blend, 1/4 medium red onion, 1/2 Jalapeno, couple pinches of salt, (be conservative with the salt), blend to a puree. The key is to add as little moisture as possible and still blend. I found the sauce setting on the Blendtec got the job done.

Use a teaspoon, make it as tall as possible, not a flat pancake. Keep the heat low, it needs to set up, but not burn the bottom. Place a scallop in the middle, spoon more of the mixture on top of the skillet, broil.

WA Apple/Rhubarb with Oatmeal/Cashew Crumbles (GF, LF)

2 small WA Gala apples, peeled, cored, diced
Same amount of volume rhubarb
1 TBSP almond milk, be conservative, the apples with throw off moisture
Vanilla to taste
Sugar to taste, (I try to minimize sugar, but rhubarb goes beyond tangy, so I try to rationalize it with organic, minimally processed cane sugar, though we all know it doesn't make a difference)
1 TBSP cashew flour
Sea salt to taste
Stir till well mixed in a pyrex with a matching cover, microwave 4.5 minutes, ( for reference, my uWave is 1250 watts)
Pull mixture out, give it the hairy eyeball. You need some liquid, but the two times I have tried this, I have had too much, I stir in 1 minute tapioca to soak it up.

For the crust the main ingredients are 1 minute oats, cashew flour, and cinnamon, (this is to taste, but do not be too conservative with the cinnamon, it makes the dish), add a tsp of hazelnut oil, then cashews. Pour enough almond milk to dampen the mixture. Sea salt to taste.
NOTE: both times I have tried this some of the cashews have burned, next time I will sprinkle the cashew flour on the fruit and toss the oatmeal mixture on top of it.

Broil, watching carefully, you want a crispy crust, not a burnt crust, let it cool, place in fridge uncovered, cover in the morning.

If all went well, when you serve the fruit will be a bit like a soft, moist fruit leather and the top will be crispy.

PNW Gumbo, pull out of freezer, put it in the main compartment, not the meat drawer.

Thursday, day we serve

Spinach and Dandelion Salad

Harvest, wash and toss dandelion greens, caramelized red onion, and spinach. Season with basil, salt, and pepper. Create a raspberry/hazelnut oil vinagrette and mix this together.

Elk Kabobs - this is the primary course

WA cherry and apple sauce. One day before prepare the sauce, I did a WA state cherry and and WA gala apples, just a little oil, pinch of salt, a tiny bit of red pepper and some ginger juice.
It is fine to prepare the veggies, especially the potatoes, in advance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Primo Grill Tacoma Lunch - Elk Sandwich Dinner

Kathy and I received an invitation to the Fisher Friends gathering in Tacoma. It was held at Primo Grill in Tacoma, 601 S. Pine st, 253.383.7000. We had a private room and I liked all the other people there.

We had an appetizer, a salad, Kathy and I both chose the Halibut as her main and I had the white chocolate cheesecake, I just ate a taste, but it was all good. The only real negative is how limited parking was. The owner, Jacqueline Plattner, also owns a bar called Crown, a little ways down 6th avenue.

It was a gorgeous day in the Pacific NorthWest, blue sky, warm enough to put the top down on the convertible. Since we had driven all the way to Tacoma we decided to do a second errand, we went to Trader Joe's on Bridgeport Way in nearby University Place. Thursday, eight days from now, I would like to put on a dinner for friends and want to do a Lebanon Mezze, I was able to purchase some wonderful stuff, but this is one of the smaller Trader Joe's. However, as a bonus, next door to Trader's is a bakery, Great Harvest Bread Co, I stuck my head in and asked if they had anything gluten free; they had two choices. I chose the Dakota-Buckwheat. It can be quite challenging to find fresh GF bread, this was fun.

The bakery notwithstanding, next time I visit Trader's, I think I will visit the store in Federal Way, 1758 S 320th St, Federal Way, WA.

The lovely weather held and we made our way back home, did a bit of gardening. Then when we got hungry from our work I asked Kathy if she would like an elk sandwich. Cut four slices off the loaf, the bread cut very well, stuck them in the toaster. Spread some whole seed mustard on one side, put a few spinach leaves and carbonized red onions on the mustard, covered with some slices of Beecher's Flagship Cheese and set it on a skillet. With the other piece of bread I put a little mayo, and some sun dried tomato pesto. On top of that I laid the Elk. I put them in the broiler till the cheese just started to melt. Put the two sides together and pressed. Gosh that was fun.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Windmill Gardens and the fog

I wanted to plant a couple blueberries and didn't want to drive far, plus I love going to Windmill Gardens. I saw two bushy ones that had their leaves, (I think most blueberries look a bit pathetic this time of year). The are called "Pink Lemon".

If you are visiting Sumner, this is a must see, they have a fine restaurant, a tea shop and fine gardening tools. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

On the way back I could see the mist just starting to form. It can get to be pretty thick, when I bought the Chevy Cruze from Sunset Chevrolet on Traffic Ave. I was looking for three things, better gas mileage than my truck, strong safety ratings and fog lights :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Rooter's BBQ Covington/Black Diamond -> The Lake Wilderness Grill

I finished updating day 1 of my course, Management 512, Security Leadership Essentials and told Kathy that to celebrate we should go someplace we have not been. It was a gorgeous Pacific Northwest blue sky day. I looked at the map and decided to visit Covington and see what was there.

We headed out at 4 PM, the plan was to get an early dinner and get back while there was still light. I used Google to find restaurants. Tripadvisor said Rooter's was the second most highly rated restaurant in Covington. Sounded like a plan. The first hint something might be wrong was when the Garmin couldn't find it. No problem, I dialed in OnStar and they downloaded the directions into the car, we were off!

We got there, only to find out they were closed, as in shut down. There is a sign that a restaurant will reopen in the building on March 21.

So, what to do? We used the Garmin and found an alternate restaurant, the Lake Wilderness Grill. It was at a golf club. When we walked in I noticed the carpet was a bit worn. There was no reception station, so I found someone sitting at the bar and asked if you had to be a member to eat there, he smiled and said no.

It was fairly low end, we both opted for the Chili with no onions. They did a fine job of making a chili. There was something that really struck me everybody knew each other by first name and included us in their conversations. I had a local beer. While we were sitting there the conversation turned to an elk that had been shot near there. Brittany, the bar tender expressed concern that the elk had been on the golf course. I am planning to host a small dinner that next Thursday and I think, I will work a Pacific Northwest Theme; I just happen to have a piece of elk in the freezer from Butcher Boys in Puyallup.

Well, time to get to work on Day 3 of the course. I have been putting it off because it is the crypto day and after the Snowden disclosures, I need to be very careful, the world is certainly different than we had been told.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bamboo Server Papuan - Jonnie and Sharlene - LTCC Small Group

On Thursday we are having a couple from our church, Lake Tapps Community Church, (LTCC), small group over for dinner. Boy am I hoping this funky memory of mine has this right, but last Sunday, I think Sharlene said she had lived in Papa New Guinea. I thought it might be a blast from the past to create Papuan style food. Now, the only thing I know less about than Papuan cuisine is quantum physics. However, we live in the Internet age so let's ask Google. I found a list of popular dishes. Hey now, wait a minute, this looks like Hawaiian style cuisine. I may not score a touchdown, but I am confident of a field goal.

I really wanted to do a cast iron skillet for my next project, but clearly this is meant for a bamboo server. So, let's scope it out. The server holds nine items if you share compartments. Here is the plan and there is a shot with the food at the bottom of this post.


Coconut Fish

WinCo has some nice thick frozen Ahi steaks. I tested the concept today, I think it will work. Two days before serving, I will take them from the freezer to the meat drawer to thaw.  30 minutes before serving, I will place these on a small skillet on my lowest BTU eye with some coconut oil, (which has a flash point of 350 degrees). Very simple flavoring, a bit of sea salt, a bit of ginger, a bit of red pepper. 15 minutes prior, toss coconut into the skillet.

Ground Chicken with Vegetables

I use the WinCo 95% lean ground chicken. The I added a cup of the Wal-Mart survival food vegetable stew, (one thing about survival food, you have to have recipes that work, or you barely survive). 1 can coconut milk, 1/5 cup tapioca flour. Spice to suit your taste, Kathy ground me coriander, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, mixed peppercorns, clove, black and green cardamon, allspice and bay leaves mixture a few days ago and I have been keeping it in the fridge, that is what I used and then black and red Hawaiian sea salt. Make a test patty and adjust spicing as needed. Using a spoon drop onto non-stick cookie sheet. After the two cookie sheets are in the oven, heat to 300 degrees, (if you try 350 you are awfully close to coconut oil's flash point).

Slow Roasted Pork Wrapped in Taro Leaves

Start 24 hours before serving, put a crockpot on low, place two level tablespoons of coconut oil in the crockpot. While the crockpot is warming up, I took two lean boneless pork loin chops, cut them in half, made a few slits for the flavoring, put them in the smoker for 30 minutes on low. Then, place some taro leaf on a plate, sprinkle some coconut, ginger, coconut oil, and sea salt (Alea if possible).  Wrap them up in Ti leaves. Whoops, I am in Washington State, no Ti leaves, hopefully the taro leaf will hold up.

Note: at two hours I checked on my crockpot and it was boiling, so I switched it off for an hour. This is going to be a bit tricky.

Note: at four hours before serving, I am going to dump a box of Great Value chicken broth into the crock pot, any leftovers will make a fine island style soup.


Black Rice and Coconut

Made up a pot of black rice, took four heaping tablespoons as soon as it finished cooking into a bowl. Added four level tbsp of shredded coconut, a teaspoon of powdered ginger, teaspoon of sesame oil and a half of an envelope of unflavored gelatin. Stirred it up, added salt and red pepper to taste. Tablespoon of pasteurized egg white, stir again, stick it in the microwave for 50 seconds, (I trust pasteurization, but also like to verify). Spoon onto a plate, form into balls with a flat bottom. Stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set up. Store in a covered pyrex. Can be served warm or cold.

Pumpkin Rice

Started with one bunch green onions, put them in a skillet with coconut oil on low temperature. After the onions had cooked a bit, took the rest of the black rice and got it warm. Started adding the spices, primary spice is allspice, teamed it with black and red pepper, ginger and garlic. Added a can of pumpkin.  This will go in the bowl in the center of the bamboo server.

Sweet Potato

Eight hours before serving, peel the potato, out of the thickest part cut a two inch cylinder. Cut it into four pieces. These are for serving. The rest of the potato can be eaten later. Place in crockpot between the pork, so the flavors can mingle. Just before serving, sprinkle a teaspoon of garam masala.

Do not overcook sweet potato!

Breadfruit Caraway

When we went to Islander's Mini Mart to pick up the taro leaf we saw these awesome bags of frozen breadfruit. 1 can chicken broth, 1 tablespoon coconut oil,  almond/coconut milk, sea salt, sprinkle with mortar and pestle caraway seed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Vassey Nursery - Puyallup

I had heard the tales of woe not being able to find the place, before we left we I checked Google maps; woah, love the new upgrade to Google maps. Next, I dragged the Garmin GPS out of the Mustang and called OnStar as well. I was beginning to doubt both of them, but after I passed the traffic circle it seemed like there might be light at the end of the tunnel. Three navigational tips:

  • They are on Tacoma rd, not Stewart
  • There are other roads after you turn off W Pioneer, Google maps calls them all Tacoma, the street signs say otherwise. If you simply continue to go straight it will work.
  • Their phone number is 253.841.3550, write it down, put it in your pocket, they have had some practice vectoring people in, as their website says, "We wouldn't want to miss you."

We have a little blueberry patch down towards the lake and have room to add some more. Kathy ended up liking the huckleberries better so we have a bit of work ahead of us making sure everything is able to cross pollinate, but happy to dig some more holes.

Kathy found four huckleberry plants that she liked. They have a great selection. I would love to say something about the price, but have no clue what a huckleberry in a one gallon pot should cost. The staff is very friendly. As we were driving back towards Sumner, the rain stopped and it turned blue sky. We planted them as soon as we got home, great exercise, great fun.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Islander's Mini Mart

Kathy and I have invited a couple over for dinner next Thursday. Sharlene, I think, used to live in Papa New Guinea. So, I wanted to try some island fare. On Kauai, I can do this with my eyes closed, but where do you get taro leaves and breadfruit in the Seattle area? The answer is Islander's Mini Mart. And depending on where you live in Bonney Lake/Sumner, it is less than 20 minutes away, traffic notwithstanding.

You can't get everything on the planet there, but we came away with frozen taro leaves, breadfruit, ( I really miss breadfruit, on my farm I had multiple trees), a bag of taro chips, some green cardamon, and Woo Hoo a bag of garam masala, (we ground it today and at the party, I will use it on the sweet potatoes.

Life is very, very good.