Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sprouted Green Lentils, Butternut Squash, Greens, Almonds

Happy National Eat Your Vegetables Day! (yes, this is actually a thing - though it does sound like something my mom would've made up, much like her "teeth brushing parties" and declaring each summer "the summer of fitness!")

On Sunday, after returning from an amazing/challenging/wet/adventurous camping trip at South Whidbey Island State Park, I had just a couple of hours to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep before I fell into my bed for a much needed long night's sleep.

So, naturally, I ran to the market - grabbed a bunch of veggies, some good proteins, and decided to figure it all out once I got home (this isn't how I usually roll, but this week it was my best option).
The latest staple in my eating has been lentils. They're so damn easy to cook up fast, they last a whole week without getting gross, and they come in so many varieties that I can have black caviar lentils for a whole week and then after thoroughly exhausting my ability to eat them, I can switch to red lentils, or like this week - green sprouted lentils.
I roasted the cubed butternut squash with about a teaspoon of oil, a bit of salt, and a lot of cracked black pepper.
Then I removed the squash to a dish while I cooked the lentils (they only take 4-8min and they don't have to soak prior to cooking - it's like a dream!). After draining the lentils, I added back in the squash and then the greens (spinach and arugula).

I wanted to up the protein a little bit, so I chopped up a bunch of almonds and added them to the mix. They give the meal a good crunch.

The first day I had it at lunch I also added some peppered salmon jerky to the top (mmmmmm!)
The finished product has been a delicious lunch so far this week and totally qualifies as killing it for Nat'l Eat Your Vegetables Day. I've added this dish to my meal planning recipe bank and am happy to say that something I made up can now be a staple to fall back on whenever I need anything delicious, healthy, and vegetable-filled.

xoxo | cimmer

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Seattle Park Exploration

Lately, I’ve been trying to journal each morning 10 things I’m grateful for/that make me happy. I know it sounds like hippy dippy bullshit, but it’s been a really great exercise in gratitude…it surprisingly feels really good (however this may be a product of me just loving to make lists…).

The lists tend to be a little private (nothing too dramatic – each list has a wide range: the ability to text message/the power of the internet to the love for my family/a wonderful group of friends), but since I’ve been so incredibly thankful for all the nice weather we’ve been having and all of the public parks I’ve gotten to spend my time in as a result, I thought I’d make today’s list public.

10 Seattle-Area Parks that Make me Happy
Green Lake Park was the first park in Seattle I ever visited. It was when Ben and I were checking out the city the (hot) summer of 2009. I remember trying to run around it and *hating* it, but that was back when I wasn't really running. Now, Green Lake is my go-to Saturday and Sunday morning walk/workout with friends. Last summer, Mallory and Katherine (above) and I had a blast power walking and then doing body-weight exercises at the small crew-watching stadium on the south end.
Carkeek is just north of Seattle city limits and looks out to the west over the gorgeous Sound. I went there for the first time this year with my friend Jessica and had to apologize for how many times I stopped our hiking to take pictures from the lookout points along the trail. There's a nice length of beach (the train that goes north to Vancouver, B.C. runs along the coast here), but there are also lots of forested trails to explore. There's lots of moss (something still novel for me as a relatively newcomer to the PacNW) and large trees. The inner trails are definitely Ewok territory.
Dahl Field is within (very short) walking distance from our house. There's a playground, a small skate park, and multiple ball fields. I most often utilize the fields during non-game times for running (or brief bouts of dancing outside - I highly recommend it!). Dahl Field is only about a half mile from my house and that's about how long it takes for me to get into my run. I just think: "Just get to Dahl Field and then if you still don't want to run, you can stop." So far, I've never not kept going.
Magnuson Park, named for Warren G. Magnuson (not this one), is an amazing park I only recently discovered last summer when the Girl Scout Troop I lead needed local locations to earn our Geocaching Badge. Not only does Magnuson provide for some tricky geocaching, but it also has a dog park, a playground, a boat launch, and is home to many a 5-15K via the Magnuson Series (and other events like last year's Ugly Sweater Run). 
Bradner Gardens was the park you may remember from all this food porn at Jconnect Seattle's Sukkot dinner last September. It has breathtaking views of the Seattle city skyline from the south east quadrant of the city. It's my dream to host a brunch here, but I'd really want to have the whole thing staffed (so my time could be better spent drinking prosecco) and that's not a financial option at this juncture.
Gasworks Park is seen in many a Seattle-tourism-focused video or image (even the site of the amazing paint ball scene from 10 Things I Hate About You). The gasworks from which it gets its name are really majestic (especially in a steampunk kind of way), but you won't find a paint ball set-up there (boo). You *will* however find a GIANT beach ball being chased by many children and some adults (including me...blue dress - bottom left) at summer solstice (the parade that begins in Fremont ends at the park). This park is also a great sight to see from the water - perhaps via a hot tub boat (I did this - it was fascinating!).
Discovery Park is the only park in Seattle I've ever gotten seriously lost in. The first time Ben and I went for a hike and a trail run, we took a long way back to the car that wound up being a *really* long way back to the car. This view of the Sound (I believe that's Vashon Island in the distance) was supposed to be halfway through our hike. It wound up being about a quarter of the way through...and then it started to rain...as these stories go. Somehow (we found a map - even our cellphones couldn't save us) we made it back to the car. Discovery park is a great place in which to get lost, or have a picnic - that too.
The Olympic Sculpture Park is a part of the Seattle Art Museum. It has a beautiful running trail along the water front that takes you all the way to where you'd board a cruise ship to Alaska. The first year I lived here, a friend of mine and I would walk down and then go for a run every Sunday. Whether the weather is nice or whether it's not, the views are still fantastic. There's also a rose garden and some outdoor workout stations - as well as a fishing pier.
Maple Leaf Park is my newest exploration - just last week! They just covered the Maple Leaf Reservoir and have built a fantastic multi-level park over the top that includes running/biking trails, sports fields, a playground, a zipline for kids, and plenty of open space to throw around a frisbee or ball. The paved path around the perimeter of the upper level of the park is about a half mile around and a great spot to walk and view the city skyline and the sunset's skyscape (double points if you're with a friend - or chatting with a long distance friend on the phone :) ).
Ravenna Park is I suppose our true neighborhood park as we live in Ravenna. It's a pretty sizable wooded park cut through with a small, lush ravine (maybe a gully...I guess I need to buff up on my geological features vocabulary!). It has a baseball field that I feel like is underused and a really great trail system through-out. The park is even closer to my office and sometimes on sunny Friday afternoons we make use of some sunshine and a small break and go for a walk. I am very very thankful for sunny Friday mini-breaks from indoors.

I have some other parks on my list to explore this summer including Golden Gardens (which I'm sort of shocked I haven't visited yet).

xoxo | cimmer

Monday, May 5, 2014

Taco Trucks & a Margarita Garden

It is a known fact that the best kind of friends are friends that share food. This fact alone places Jessica and Chelsea squarely in the category of wonderful friends. On Saturday, we had a little outing to Volunteer Park for 107.7 the End's annual Taco Truck Challenge.
The road of the park that leads to the Seattle Asian Art Museum was packed with food trucks and people lining up to hand over their cash in exchange for some taste-bud worthy grub.
Our first stop was not for tacos, but at Skillet for poutine after Chelsea intimated that she HAD NEVER HAD POUTINE BEFORE and we needed to rectify that IMMEDIATELY.
While there were many different types of cuisine featured in the long line of trucks, we stuck to the script for the rest of our purchases. Pictured above are the *amazing* mushroom tacos with pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
After loading our hands with taco-filled take-out baskets, we eagerly made our way to the margarita garden and snagged three Lime-A-Ritas.

The sun was off and on for the afternoon, but we didn't mind sitting in the bouts of rain - we had tacos, we had poutine, we each had 24oz of limey beverage that was surprisingly successful in giving us all just the hint of an afternoon buzz, and we had each other.

What a great Saturday afternoon filled with food and friends. Cheers to celebrating that always - and to more fun filled days as we move further into the weather season that reminds everyone why they live in the Pacific Northwest!

xoxo | cimmer

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sound Spirits Distillery Tour

Today, Ben and I went on one of our best day-dates yet! Ben set up a tour and tasting at Sound Spirits via HowAboutWe Couples.

We reported to Sound Spirits at 12:00 PM on empty stomachs (which you would think would be a disaster, but we had brunch lined up afterward), and were greeted by Steven, the owner, and his all-black cat, Mr. Cho - short for C2H5OH - the chemical symbol for alcohol (I knew I was going to like this guy). 
Sound Spirits is Seattle's first craft distillery since Prohibition (I know!!) and I had become familiar with the brand when they launched in 2010 and started showing up in local liquor stores. I was (of course) drawn to their octopus-featuring branding.
We began our tasting with their vodka as Steven explained to us that "filtering" vodka wasn't necessarily a process that made it more pure or clean, but rather removes the flavor of the spirit. For potato vodkas this can be very important (the potato-taste winds up being too earthy - I'll save my potatoes for poutine...), but for grain-based vodkas, the flavors left after distilling can be nice to keep.
Next we moved on to their Ebb + Flow gin. We're out of gin in our home bar, and I think that Ebb + Flow needs to be immediately added.
Then we got to try the Old Tom Gin and the Aquavit. I'd never had an Aquavit before. It has hints of anise and other spices that gives it a slight licorice flavoring...Steven was sure to check in with us that we liked licorice before sampling. Black licorice isn't my favorite taste, but I don't dislike it and the Aquavit was quite good.
The liqueurs were pretty amazing as well. Depth Cacao is a clear chocolate liqueur that I was really surprised to enjoy (I'm not a huge fan of sweet - though I'm typing this while snacking on a small handful of dark chocolate chips, so who the hell knows?). Then the mint liquor - which was more complex than regular mint (flavors of spearmint and other things that were delicious, but I sadly don't remember - the spearmint was the most powerful on my palate).
Then, leaving the Vow of Silence liqueur (based on a recipe from Trappist Monks) for after our tour, we were led back into the more warehouse-like space where all of this deliciousness is created.
First up was Steven showing us the upcoming introduction of Whiskey to the Sound Spirits line. He said that craft distillers of whiskey most often don't produce proper product because they can't wait long enough for the time it takes to truly barrel age.
 Then it was on to the rest of the distillery.
 Steven is a mechanical engineer at Boeing and makes most of his distilling equipment himself.
The extent of all of the different spices that Sound Spirits uses to create their liquors and liqueurs is extensive and impressive. The level of complexity in each spirit was really awesome. I had tried their gin before and really liked it, but was really excited to enjoy everything they had to offer.
 Juniper because: gin ( ! )
 Cho playing in the sunlight. Cho earns his keep by catching any mice roaming around the distilling equipment

 I made Ben pose a bit to burn the fun of our date on both our brains and our digital footprints.
And I snapped a picture of this cocktail poster because it looked so cool. All the 60s mod style (can't you see this being alternatively a poster demonstrating something very important regarding the cosmos?) plus booze? Looks nice to me!
We left happily toward brunch after I purchased a t-shirt (octopus!) and Ben bought some of the cacao liqueur. I can't wait to visit Sound Spirits again when the whiskey comes out (or sooner because let's be real - this was fun!).

xoxo | cimmer

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tulip Festival

It's official: I've finally made the ultimate Western Washington pilgrimage to the Tulip Festival. I went on a Sunny Sunday with two other adults, a six year old and a two and a half year old - and we all survived!
Last year, we were supposed to go with the Currys to the festival - but pouring rain inspired us instead to head to the Seattle Wheel. This year, I woke up on a Sunday morning and decided on a complete whim that we should see if Angela and the kids wanted to pop in the car and head north to experience the tulips in all their pink, purple, and red glory.
On our way up in the car, I knew we would find the tulips, but I was a little bit worried that it wouldn't seem as magical as it has in the onslaught of pictures that crop up in my Facebook newsfeed annually.
After quite the slog in the car (at one point the website we were getting directions from crashed - "luckily" we just had to follow the long long line of cars toward RoozenGaarde - definitely no chance of getting lost there!) we finally made it to our destination (!) and it was totally worth it, in a once-in-a-lifetime sort of adventure way (as in, I'd go again...but probably on a cloudy Tuesday and not every year...).
The tulip fields stretched over the ground, with mountains as a backdrop in the distance. It was so shockingly dry and sunny - really amazing. Even the ground wasn't all that muddy (though Isaac and Henry expertly found the muddy patches).
Through about half of the walking paths, the ground under our feet was spongy, bouncy even. I asked Isaac why he thought the earth was so bouncy beneath our feed. Best answer ever: "Because there are trampolines under the ground..?" I told him that was a great guess and then we talked about how the wet ground underneath the dried out ground was making it so soft and springy.
The trampoline ground proved to be a good guideline for where to walk because it was fun to hop along on, wasn't actual mud, and kept us all on the path (instead of venturing into the rows which is not allowed).

Angela was able to snag some coveted My-Kids-in-the-Tulips photos (these are ubiquitous on Seattle-Area parent social media pages - and really are quite adorable).
We discovered that while there was a looooooooooooooooong line of cars to get out to the tulips, not a lot of people venture beyond the immediate roadside, so the deep parts of the fields are crow-free.
The red tulips looked like poppies from a far...invoking for me visions of the Wizard of Oz.

Isaac and Henry selected their favorite flowers - the red/orange ones with white on the top tips of their petals.

The edges of the tulip fields were up against other farm land that was largely on an off season. It was very tempting to romp around in the green fields, and clearly some members of our party gave into temptation.

The drive home was decent - we were all pretty tired - and we knew that there were burgers and onion rings and fries (and wine and beer!) to be had when we got home.

It was a wonderful day with wonderful people and I'm so glad (even with the awful traffic, even if the traffic had been worse), that we did it :)

xoxo | cimmer