Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earthly Desires

Happy Earth Day all!

The skies have been mostly blue here in Seattle, and that means it has been time for sipping cocktails and using the grill (without having to use all of the rain gear)!

Recently I had a chance to try three tequilas from Casa Noble-their Blanco, Anejo, and Reposado. As an added bonus to spur my culinary whims, they sent a gift card for Whole Foods. Tequila and food?! Yes, please!

With Earth Day in mind, I wanted to stay as sustainable, go organic, and stick with non-GMO products. The great news? Case Noble fits that bill.

So knowing that Earth Day is a great chance to live sustainably, as well as to get outside and enjoy the sun, I put together a tasty menu to celebrate spring and all that is good with Seattle:

Welcome Drink:
The Mariposa, made with Casa Noble's Anejo Tequila

Main Dish:
Gulf Prawns, sustainably caught, marinated in lime, cilantro, scotch bonnet pepper and Casa Noble's Blanco Tequila.

Main Course Drink:
Bloody Maria, with house made organic veggie juice and seasonings, local bacon, and organic house made pickles made boozy by Casa Noble's Reposado Tequila.

Do I have your attention? No? How about some tasty eye candy and recipes? There you go, now I have you!  Read on!

I know, right?

Lets continue with the recipes!
The Welcome Drink, the Mariposa, 
Combine 2 ounces of tequila- I used the Anejo
1.5 ounces of elder flower liquor
2 ounces of blood orange simple syrup
the juice of one lime
1/2 of a large, very ripe grapfruit
Add seltzer to taste
Gently shake to combine
Coat the rim of the glass in vanilla sugar, and pour this delicious cocktail into your pretty glass. Enjoy with a side of great company and sunshine!

Round Two-The Bloody Maria
2 ounces Tequila-I used the Reposado (more if you like a heavy handed drink)
2 cups (approximately) Veggie Juice (I blended carrots, tomato, kale, beets and celery, and garlic to make mine, but you can also make your own with whatever veggies you have, or go easy and get something pre-made!)
Horseradish to taste
Pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce-two hearty splashes
Hot sauce to taste (I like tapatio)
Splash of seltzer to thin it out a bit
-Shake your main ingredients up
-Coat the rim of a glass with a combination of smoked salt and chili powder, and garnish with your fave treats. I used:
Pickles (I make my own, so I have them on hand)
Bacon, delicious bacon...there's no recommended maximum, but you should include it!

Oh yes...so good.

And for the main course: Spicy prawns, marinated with tequila blanco, cilantro, lime and garlic; served of whole grain wild rice with organic bell pepper and black beans.
1 cup wild rice (Bluebird Farms makes a great one), cooked.
1/2 cup organic black beans
1/2 organic bell pepper, diced-your choice, keep it raw, or saute lightly with garlic and olive oil
1/2 lb shrimp or prawns-our prawns came from Whole Foods, and were sustainably caught in the gulf (also tested for contaminants)
The marinade:
1 lime, juiced (about 2 Tbspns)
1 hearty Tblspn Blanco Tequila (and a drink for you, dear chef!)
1/4 tspn smoked paprika
1 tspn olive oil
1/8 tspn fresh ground pepper
1 pinch kosher salt
1/4-1/8 scotch bonnet pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade, and add prawns, letting it all meld together in tasty goodness for 30 minutes. 
Sip one of your delicious cocktails and preheat your grill
Place the prawns on the grill and cook until they start to curl up and are no longer translucent.

Place shrimp over your rice, sprinkle with beans and bell peppers, topping with cilantro and hot sauce. Sit back, sip your cocktail and enjoy!

Thank you again to Casa Noble for the opportunity to try out the fun spirits!  Now, dear reader, it's your turn!

What are you cooking and drinking?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beery Loves

I've been having a lot of fun lately-at work, at home, with South Park Arts. It's been keeping me busy. I'll write a full review soon, but to tide y'all over, I interviewed a brewer friend of mine!  You can read that interview here.

Read on, and if you're local, go check out Burdick Brewing!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Loss and Happiness

Oh, that face. That smile. This is Missy and I a few months ago at a bonfire. The same bonfire where we spent hours. The same bonfire where she supported me in my decision to be single, and the same bonfire where she pushed me to ask a young man out.

That mischievous smile, that when it flashed, you knew you were in for a fun night.  That is what I will miss most about Missy.  

Missy passed away this morning after a valiant fight against cancer. She died enveloped in the arms of those who loved her, and with the love of an entire community by her side. Dear reader, I am so sorry that you never had a chance to meet her. To know that smile, to know the livelihood that existed inside of her.

I'm sad. For myself. For those who lost her. 

Years ago, when I was going through a break up, I was at a crossroads and Missy and I went for a drive. The question came up, "Do I try to make it work or do I walk away?". In true Missy style, she asked if I was happy. Simple. "Are you happy".  The answer was no.  She retorted, "There you go, problem solved", and that was that. She smiled and patted my knee. That was really that.

If it wasn't for Missy, I wouldn't have met my partner Nick. I wouldn't have dated him at her urging, and I wouldn't have my baby girl now.

Life is short. You find amazing people in your life, and don't let them go. Do what you can to be loved and give love and when all else fails, ask yourself, "are you happy?". 

To you Missy. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Love

This time last year, I was in labor and was in my delivery room being coached to breathe and waiting for my little one to come. I would have to wait another 15 hours, but it didn't matter.

I look at this picture and can't help but smile. She was brand new, maybe a minute old. I'm so tired, but so excited. I am thoroughly peaceful.

I can't believe how quickly the past year has flown by. Every day, I am so grateful for my Tiny Beast; her strength, her fluffy hair, the way she looks like me and my Dad. Everything.

When she was born, even with all that happened immediately after (and you can read about that here, if you want to catch up); I knew that everything in life would be ok. All that mattered was that I had her. After so many years of waiting for the right person and the right time, she was here and she was mine.

Having Isabella erased any anger I had. Every bad day just didn't matter. Even my Dad's death a few months before stung a little less. Looking into her big blue eyes, I knew (and know) that as long as I do my best for her, and keep her needs in mind, I can't and won't go wrong.

Every night, we snuggle her to sleep, and put her in her crib. I look forward to that time. I look forward to our weekend naps on the couch, snuggled under antique quilts, chasing the last of the sunbeams. She is truly my heart and my world and I can't imagine my life without her. I am truly blessed to have her.

Here's to many more years of love, happiness, and those big blue eyes.

To you, my love. Mommy loves you so, so much.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best. Year. Ever.

Oh, 2013, you were pretty amazing.

2013 started off with friends and me being super pregnant.  The house would decide to revolt against us, resulting in a roof leak, the power box crapping out, and last minute home improvement projects (which really needed to happen anyway). Thank goodness for awesome neighbors who are super handy fix-it-all's!

My due date would come and go, and I was pretty sure that Izzy had made a fort in my womb. She would eventually make her appearance on her terms in her own time. The labor would be strong and steady, and mostly unmedicated. She arrived with a ferocious scream, and upon seeing her, finally knew what love truly was. We would spend the first week in the NICU and Specialty Care at Children's, but leave with what amounted to a detailed instruction manual on how to care for a baby.

We learned what parenthood was, and that we were an amazing team, despite the stress that is fueled by exhaustion and learning how best to care for a tube fed baby.

On the fun side, 2013 would bring Izzy's first camping trip at 2 months old, and then 2 more camp trips. Not bad for having to lug a feeding pump and an oxymeter along with us, in addition to my breast pump and all the related equipment. We would hit the road for short weekend adventures to the coast, to parks and in-city adventures.

It brought a start to my home business, Big Dill Pickles. continued to craft, making books, quilts, and baby clothes. I spent many amazing hours snuggling Izzy, writing, as well as publishing a blog post for Blogher.com.

We cooked many amazing meals, and hosted lovely dinner parties for friends.  Lastly, we paired up with a local (baby friendly!) brewery to host dinner parties, with the first one being a beer and bratwurst party for 100. 

On the work front, 2013 brought new work projects for me, long days and great new responsibilities, gaining a new team and letting go of the team I had worked with for a few years. I would start with a research group, and eventually work on dismantling a bariatric program, and helping to transition another program into my department. It was a year of change at my company!

Nick continued on at his catering company for the 6th year, cooking for many events, including events for local politicians, on up to someone at a big white house. He did an amazing job keeping me fed as well (I am pretty sure that in itself was a full time job, too).  Nick worked on multiple house projects, played harmonica and guitar for Izzy to keep her happy. He spends his nights teaching Izzy Spanish, a love of history and geography, and how to play soccer (she’s still learning that one!). 

So what's on tap for 2014?
The big thing is Izzy's upcoming surgery in a few weeks to close up her pallet. In theory, she should be able to start eating on her own. We'll be working with the specialists to teach her to eat and make sure that we get ahead of any potential challenges to speech. 

I'll be attending a food bloggers conference, and plan to do more with my art's and crafts, and will put more energy into canning and pickling. We plan to work with the local brewery, Burdick Brewing (do check them out!), to do more food related events. I'm also looking forward to more events with South Park Arts.

We have some fun trips planned as well, the exciting one is a trip to Yosemite late spring/early summer, I used to go every summer when I lived in California, and Nick hasn't been. I can't wait to take the two of them on hikes and show them the spots that I loved so much. 

This year will be about going on adventures and exploring with Isabella and Nick and just having fun. 2013 was an amazing year, and I can't wait to see all that 2014 has to offer!

What are your hopes for 2014?

All our best,
Raina, Nick and Isabella Grace. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tiny Gets a Tube

This week Izzy went in for surgery for her G-tube. After almost 8 months of having an ng-tube, we were ready for a change-the idea of something that wouldn't require replacing every day sounded amazing. The surgery went well, and quickly, requiring only an overnight stay. The tube site looked good, and only leaked a little. She was able to take her feeds, but ended up throwing up at the last one. We all chalked it up to her tummy not being used to eating the volume after so many hours of not having anything in it.

Thursday and Friday, she continued to throw up and we found her tube site leaking more. By Friday afternoon, the site was leaking so much, anything we put in would run out of her and soak her outfits. We ended up going to the emergency room after her 8th change of clothes in almost as many hours.

That was Friday, and here we are Monday, still in the hospital. We still don't have answers for why she is leaking, but at least the vomiting has stopped. The nursing staff has been amazing, the surgery teams...well...lacking at times, but we're finally getting people to figure out what is happening to her and why. Tests are being run, and we continue to find the best way to feed her. We try.

In the mean time, Nick and Izzy snuggle and we play and wait. Happily, there's these amazing breakfast sandwiches that are only made from 1-4 am-we were happy to have those last night, between bouts of demanding to talk to someone about why things are wrong.

We remain positive, it's hard sometimes, but we keep going. Here's to getting out of here one of these days! In the mean time, we're at least able to relax and hang out with each other.  To help pass the time, I brought my lap top, a cook book, cooking magazines, yarn and crotchet needles. One of these things should help pass the time!

How do you spend time when you're stuck somewhere?


Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Quick Adventure

It has been so gloriously sunny here, much longer than it normally is in Seattle. The days are still long, and we're seeing temps in the 80's and high 70's. You can tell that fall is coming, but for now, summer is holding on with everything it has.

With Tiny's surgery coming, I wanted to get her out of the house to play. I needed to step away from all of the cleaning and prep work to get into nature and see some sea critters.  We decided to go play in tide pools. We got there as the tide was starting to come back in, but we were able to get a good 45 minutes of play time. Izzy was more interested in the other kids, and the waves than the sea stars, but she played along while I climbed over rocks and plodded through seaweed beds.  There were so many sea stars, some bigger than my head, in a variety of colors, some slowly moving their suckers, trying to feel out where the water went.  It was a good way to get out and clear my mind and enjoy a misty morning.

I'm looking forward to more trips to local tidepools!