Thankful Thursday

Today I’m thankful for date night!

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Fresh Oysters at The Table Tacoma

I would say one of the things we are not great about is date nights. I’m not complaining in the least it takes effort to plan, schedule the babysitter, afford the babysitter, and afford the activity. And, I really like being home…it takes a lot to get me to want to leave my house. Especially when we have pretty great food options at home, good wine, and a fire pit on the patio. Sounds like a great date night to me!

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Surf & Turf at The Table. Elk chops (cooked to perfection) and Halibut

But, Mark and I were Mark and I for a really long time before Sky, and we will be Mark and I again once Sky is off living her own life. It’s important to remind ourselves that we still like being Mark and Jen. To reconfirm that our relationship is not dependent on being parents, it’s dependent on love and respect for each other. To remind ourselves that we have to be a strong couple in order to be strong parents.

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Really great live music at B Sharp Coffee House!

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Mural outside the entrance.

I love that no matter how much time goes by between dates (not going to lie we have maybe averaged 2 a year the last 5 years…counting true date nights, just the two of us) that we pick up right were we left off. It’s easy to slip back into Mark and Jen and leave Mommy and Daddy at home for a few hours.

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The hallway leading to the bathrooms is sort of the best part of the whole place. Lot’s of interesting things to look at, and lounges to rest on. would seriously consider having a party in this space! 

As parents parenting goal(s) tend to focus on what kind of kiddo we want to raise, and what kind of parent we want to be, understandable so. But, one of my biggest parenting goals is to make sure that when the nest is empty my heart isn’t. Make sure we know how to be Mark and Jen when it’s just Mark and Jen again. Not only important to our marriage, but important for Sky to see as well.

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Mural and lounge on the way to the rest room.

P.S. The Table has a small menu, but everything we tried was amazing (not pictured was my appetizer…it was really good but just didn’t photo well) the wine selection is smaller, but again well curated. And, B Sharp Coffee House may be the coolest little spot in T Town. The vibe was really chill, it was open to all ages, which may sound annoying for a night out, but having under 21’s there made it way less about the alcohol/meat market and more about just relaxing with good music, wine and friends. Maybe I’m getting old, but it was pretty perfect! For those that are local it has a Swiss vibe, but without the crazy crowds/drunks and is more of an acoustic music venue.

What are you thankful for today?

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today I’m so thankful to have amazing friends who are willing to spend hours in the kitchen, on a Saturday afternoon non-the-less, perfecting recipes, and providing valuable feedback as I work on my cooking class ideas. Since Cinco de Mayo was only a few days away I went with a Mexican menu for this class test run.

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Taco’s three ways top left – peasant pork tacos, top right beef brisket tacos, and bottom is my go to ground hamburger taco meat with fresh guacamole. 

 

You know it’s going to be a good time when you combine crazy good margaritas, maybe the best sangria I’ve ever had, hand-made tortillas, fresh guacamole, some pretty out of this world peasant pork and beef brisket tacos, and some seriously fun people!

A few tips from the day:

-Don’t drink too many margarita’s before the cooking is done! Thankfully this wasn’t an issue, but man they were good and I can see how things could get burned or forgotten really quick.

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This cucumber and jalapeno margarita was so good I’m still dreaming about it!

-Be ok with the possibility that something will escape from the blender and end up on the ceiling…that didn’t happen, but it was so close to hitting the ceiling!

-Don’t be afraid to try new things! I broke the rule and we tried two new taco meats, two new margarita’s, new sangria, and we were new to tortilla making. That’s a lot of potential for something to go wrong, but I/we went for it and it was so worth the risk!

-When the kitchen gets crowded set up a cooking station outside!

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Tortilla station outside since the kitchen counters & stove were already full.

-When all the burners on the stove are in use move it to the grill! Cast Iron is so versatile and can be used on almost any surface/heat source.

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This turned into the best peasant pork tacos…just amazing!

-Put on your official apron and make sure everyone knows what their task is. This was my first time “managing” people, several main dishes, sides, and different finish times. You know what…turns out I’m pretty good at it and everything was done (and done well) when it needed to be. It helps that my two helpers are foodies that know their way around the kitchen!

-Improvise as needed. I didn’t have a shaker for the margarita making, so I snagged one of our wide mouth Hydro Flask and it worked perfectly! P.S. if you don’t have a Hydro Flask…get one! We each have one and we use them daily…this is not a sponsored plug for them, just me sharing my two cents worth. We also ran out of counter space so I opened up my laundry area and we used the top of the washer & dryer since they are right there by the kitchen (behind Jake and Elya in the picture below).

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Jake and Elya prepping away! We had so much fun messing up my kitchen!

-The best part of a dinner party is the kitchen part. Invite your friends over early, serve some drinks or good wine, and put them to work. (It’s ok to let them see the mess behind the magic)! By the time the meal is ready you will have laughed, shared stories, learned something you didn’t know before, and when you sit down to eat together it’s going to taste that much better!

We had so much fun, and I can’t wait to test run another class idea!

But, first I have more tacos and margarita to enjoy today! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 

 

Whole30

I debated and debated regarding posting about Whole30, but decided that since it’s a huge part of our life currently, and having an impact on our family, and life in the kitchen, I would share.

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Fritatta recipe from the Whole30 book.

For those who don’t know what Whole30 is the site has all the information you need. In short it cuts out sugars, some nuts, all alcohol, all dairy, all grains, and all beans. Basically we are left with meat, veggies and fruit. But, the meat has to be just meat, so bacon and hot dogs are a no go, for the most part (there are a few approved options out there if you can find them & afford them).

Beverages are very limited as well…black coffee, plain tea, and water or sparkling water. And, all sauces and dressings are home made.

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Walnut crusted pork loin.

Sounds fun right?

I’ll be up front. I do not approve of plans like this, which is why I wasn’t going to post about it. Drastically cutting things out, and if you mess up you have to start the 30 days over. On top of that the book states that this is a hard way to live and they do no recommend doing this 365 days a year because it’s not sustainable. I don’t believe in non-sustainable/deprivation ways of eating. at. all.

I was gorging on things leading up to our start date, that I don’t even like. But, because it was going to be a “do no eat” for 30 days I had to cram it in while I could. Never mind that I can go months and not eat cookies/doughnuts when they are not on a do no eat list. Mentally I don’t like plans like this…in an attempt to be healthy it can create unhealthy mental issues with food.

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Brussels sprouts and Sweet Potato hash with a balsamic reduction.

So, why are we doing this then? Mostly it’s to get to the bottom of potential food allergy issues, or foods that are contributing to some symptoms that are lingering. Which is why we like the reintroduction part of the plan. We will systematically add things like corn, wine, rice, sugar back for a few days, and then go back on plan and see how we feel. There’s a whole laundry list of things that this way of eating helps with from migraines to autoimmune issues, and of course GI issues. You don’t realize how bad you felt until you feel good. So hopefully this will help with that!

We, one of us anyway, are already dairy and gluten free, but still having potential food related issues, so the hope is this will help us figure out what is going on.

What I like about it: 
-The food is good. It’s not crazy/strange diet food.
-It’s not about losing weight, it’s about finding out how you feel and how your body responds to what you put in it.
-No counting calories, fat, portion monitoring, or using a scale.
-The book has a day by day breakdown of how you will feel and why.
-Between the book and the website all questions and advice are covered. You have all the info you need!
-Making your own mayo and ketchup etc. taste so much better, like it’s supposed to. It’s amazing what food can taste like when it’s not full of sugar, additives and preservatives.
-Drinking a ton more water, and I drank a lot before this!
-Grilling. The next two weeks I plan out will be a lot more grilling!
-It’s largely a paleo way of eating, something we were already doing a lot of, so not a huge departure, but still a big change.
-I’m never hungry.

What I don’t like: 
-So much cooking. That’s saying something given I like to cook. But this is intense. Everything we eat has to be prepared in some way. I’m doing so much cooking for every meal, prep cooking all day (it feels like) on Sundays so there is breakfast and lunch during the week for Mark.
-So many dishes. By the time I’m done with breakfast every pan, all the knives, and most of the cutting boards are dirty. Seriously running the dishwasher 3 times a day…that’s just crazy!
-Making all the sauces. While they taste good and add tons of flavor, still I have to make all the sauces.
-So much water. I don’t drink coffee, and when I do it will never be black, I can’t dink carbonated beverages without it upsetting my tummy, and I don’t love plain tea. So I’m left with water. It’s only been a week and I’m sick of water. I’m putting fruit in it, mint, and other herbs, but bottom line it’s still water. I miss wine just for the variety in beverage.
-I have no energy! I tried running Friday…what a joke. Turns out days 6-7 are the I want to nap and have no energy days. So, I’m hoping as my body adjusts to running off of fat, which happens around day 10, rather than carbs this will improve. If not my 10 mile trail run in a few weeks is really going to suck!
-My old meal plan. While the food has been good it’s not exciting, and my go-to meals that I can cook in my sleep are not approved. I miss picking new, fun recipes to try, and tacos. I really miss tacos. Yes we could have taco salad, but I’m already eating a head of lettuce a day, so another salad isn’t what I’m looking for.
-No eating out, it’s just such a hassle to try and find the maybe one thing on any given menu that is ok to eat, but then you have to worry about how it’s prepped.
-No wine with steak…but at least we get steak.
-Having to think about food all the time. Is it ok or not, don’t think about the things I miss or am craving etc. I just don’t like feeling consumed by food decisions.

I’m really anxious for it to be over and to start adding things back in, because I want to know what, if anything, needs to be added to the list of foods we don’t eat.

Anyone else done Whole30? Any advice?

Bearfoot Bistro Dinning Experience

Our absolute favorite place to dine in Whistler is Bearfoot Bistro. Of course the food is good, otherwise they wouldn’t last…there is a lot of good food in Whistler!

View of the kitchen from our Chefs Table.
View of the kitchen from our Chefs Table.

What makes them stand out for me is that it’s fine dinning no matter how you look or who’s in your party. We have gone in there in hiking clothes (pretty common in Whistler to have a range of “types” in restaurants…it’s an adventure mountain town) and had dinner one year with Sky when she was 1 1/2. Both occasions we were treated like royalty, and even though they put us in an out of the way room, that wasn’t being used for dinner at the time, when we were there with Sky (per our request) we still felt like we were part of “things” and were given the same level of service. She had her moments to, but they handled it so well.

First round: Gazpacho with lace crouton.
First round: Gazpacho with lace crouton.

They take down every detail you offer when making your reservation. Things like special occasions, allergies etc. And, it seems like everyone on staff is aware and accommodating of said info.

The first year we ate there the chef came out to the table and had a “meeting” with us regarding Mark’s food and how each dish would be adjusted or changed to be gluten & dairy free.

Appetizer: Smoked Black Cod - paprika, lemon purée, chorizo, confit potato, lovage, crisp white anchovy
Appetizer: Smoked Black Cod – paprika, lemon purée, chorizo, confit potato, lovage, crisp white anchovy

This year we were lucky in that Bob and Michelle’s niece Ali traveled with us, so we had a few nights out kid free. One of those nights was Anniversary dinner for us/Birthday dinner for Bob at Bearfoot Bistro.

Main: Ricotta Gnudi - stinging nettle cream, toasted hazelnuts, fiddleheads, summer squash, garlic scape
Main: Ricotta Gnudi – stinging nettle cream, toasted hazelnuts, fiddleheads, summer squash, garlic scape

I was over the moon excited to find out there was a chefs table available for us. It was so fascinating to watch the food prep, plating, attention to detail, how many checks each plate goes through before it’s served, and how calm it all was. No yelling, running around like mad people, or any of the other shenanigans you see on tv cooking shows.

Dessert: Ricotta, Wild Roses & Raspberry - toasted almond streusel, fig & black raspberry jam, ricotta gelato & raspberry sorbet swirl, meringue, rose & ricotta espuma
Dessert: Ricotta, Wild Roses & Raspberry – toasted almond streusel, fig & black raspberry jam, ricotta gelato & raspberry sorbet swirl, meringue, rose & ricotta espuma

If you order a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine you can tour the cellar, learn how to use a saber to open a bottle, and drink while learning all about the cellar and using a saber. Since it was anniversary and birthday dinner we split a bottle of champagne and started our evening with a tour of the cellar.

Walls of wine!
Walls of wine!
That's a $10,000 bottle of wine!
That’s a $10,000 bottle of wine!

Tips:

-Offer up any information that will help them help you enjoy your experience.

-Get there early and have a champagne cocktail in the bar!

-Anyone can tour the cellar, just ask. If you want to saber open a bottle you need to purchase a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine…do it!

-Ask for a chefs table, it doesn’t coast extra.

-Make reservations!

-Ask questions. They take pride in what they do and want to share their passion and knowledge. Questions about the food, bar, why the herbs were toasted before going into your drink, the cellar, interactions/process in the kitchen…it’s all an open book just ask!

-The wine list is 90+ pages long…talk to the Sommelier! He will let you know what is pairing well, and what works with your budget.

That's a big saber!
That’s a big saber!
Michelle used a smaller saber to open our bottle of champagne...so cool!
Michelle used a smaller saber to open our bottle of champagne…so cool!

We had so much fun, easily one of the best, if not the best, dinning experiences I’ve ever had. Thank you to the Beckham’s for being up to saber some wine, and to my dad for the anniversary dinner!

Food Truck Festival and Other Food Fun

I have been looking forward to the Food Truck Fest all summer long! I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew I wanted to try something different, strange even. I had food trucks built up in my head as adventure dinning.

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I was a little disappointed in that most of the options were things I’ve tried before, and even a bit pedestrian. And, maybe I don’t handle too many choices very well because I had a really hard time determining what the heck I wanted to eat. I walked around and around re-reading menus and totally overthinking my options. I really wish each place was serving single bites of their main dish, especially since you could vote for your fave. It’s hard to vote when you can’t possible eat all of it.

After much debate I went with what I thought was the most out there offering and ordered Pho-renchy from Peasant Food Manifesto. They combine several types of food and flavor in single dishes. Mine was basically Pho soup turned into/mashed into a French Dip sandwich.

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It was interesting. A bit confusing to my taste buds as it was such a mix of vastly different flavors. It wasn’t bad, but not spectacular, but I ate most of it. A very confusing review I know.

I really wanted to try the mac n cheese with kimchi, but didn’t want a whole order of it, even just the small order of it. A sample size would have been great…I mean I would have paid $1 or $2 at several of the trucks just for a taste of their food.

We also tried these fish shaped waffle things that were stuffed with different things. Some savory with bacon, onion and cheese, and others stuffed with apples or custard.

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We tried the bacon one and it was good, not over the top special, but good. The custard filled waffle fish was so yummy. The perfect sweet treat after the savory food we tried.

The biggest disappointment was the lack of options for those with food allergies. GF and dairy free options were hard to find. There was a vegan options that was both, but it wasn’t all that appetizing to Mark.

So, you know if I ever do a Food Truck of my own (which honestly is a brilliant idea and I’m doing some homework as you read this) it will be dairy free, gluten free, and most likely Paleo’ish. I have a few recipes in mind aready.

My other food adventure over the weekend was at the Point Defiance Tap and Grill. Sky was at zoo camp for a few hours and I decided get some work done in a temporary office, and try some new brew and food.

I went with a blond beer (I forget the brewery) that was good and the lamb & beef pate’. Maybe I’m not a pate’ fan, I haven’t had it enough to know really. It was ok, I was able to eat it, but it had very little flavor. Thankfully it’s served with a flavorful, slightly spicy mustard and that gave me some flavor.

Beer and Pate.
Beer and Pate.

Overall I liked the atmosphere, I was able to sit there for almost 3 hours, spread out all over my table getting a ton of work done, and my server, Nicole, was awesome! I’d totally go back to try some of the other interesting sounding menu items and brews.

What’s the most adventurist thing you’ve eaten?