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Well here we are…

Finally (sort of)! Last November I started this project of creating a new web site and after 3 months of slow and frustrating ‘progress’, I set it aside. I just wasn’t getting the help that I needed and it was far more complicated than it needed to be so I retreated and licked my wounds for awhile.

Then Roy Sahali asked me about the progress (again) and when he saw my frustration he smiled a lovely, warm smile, and told me he could help. He set me up with a guy who took a look at what had been created and agreed with me that it was far more complicated than it needed to be. He told me what he could do for me, gave me some options, and I jumped in.

This new web site does not look like my original vision for it, and yet I think it attains all of my original goals, and I am really excited about it. I wanted it to be light and fresh, more modern and still very easy to navigate. I hope that you find those thing to be true, and if you have suggestions for what you would like to see on our site, I would love to hear them!

Of course our ‘go live’ day week has not gone smoothly. Among other things, due to lack of disk space on our server it was (as is the theme here) more complicated than it needed to be. I have cried a couple of tears of frustration and made the decision that, even though there are some glitches, I am presenting it to you today. You all pretty much know that we aren’t perfect already, so allowing you to see our imperfections is nothing new, and yet it is never comfortable. Now I know you are probably thinking ‘what? It looks fine to me..” and it does look fine. Tomorrow it will look better! And it will continue to evolve and we will always update the site, so it is never finished, anyway.

Isn’t that the way of the world? It is in my life… everything is always evolving, morphing, changing… my mom has been telling me for years about the buddhist saying: “life is suffering”, and while that is only a small part of the dogma, this year I have really begun to understand that process. To put it another way, my mentor Bill Marvin has talked at length about how ‘problems’ are opportunities for growth and learning, which is always a good thing. He says “if there is no solution possible, you don’t have a problem, you have a condition. Gravity and death are conditions, not problems. You may not like either of them but there’s nothing you can do to change them. Accept conditions as givens and move on.”

So I keep taking deep breaths and keeping in mind that, in the end, it will all come together and be exactly what it should be. (Breath.) Patience is not my strong suit, and yes, I do realize that is the point of my ‘suffering’. The journey is the point, not the destination (and in my head I say ‘blah blah blah, I just want it to be done!’) So there you have it.

And all of this is occurring whilst we are (trying) to perfect our new computer system at work, and of course that has not been the fun dream I thought it would be AT ALL. Plus a million other things are going on, and so it is life… just like for everyone else out there. Messy and fun, positive and negative, up and down, in and out, all because human nature, and the world we live in, are not perfect. So my challenge is this: acceptance. Doris Day said it best: “Que sera sera; whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see..’ (I love Pink Martini’s version of that song as well, but Doris is what I hear in my head with her sweet little trill…) 

So that peek into my busy brain gives you a little idea of how I make myself crazy. Along those lines, I will be revitalizing my blog, and it is just in time for the Italy trip so you can follow along while we are there (assuming, of course, that I can get internet as I plan to…) My old habit was to always end with a recipe and I am going to update that idea and always end with a recipe, or some other food-related information. It will be delicious and I hope you want to join the discussion!

Tomatoes are at their peak for us in the Pacific Northwest, and while (sadly) a blight has wiped out many Kitsap crops, you can still go to any farmer’s market and pick up the flavor of Summer. If you can get heirloom tomatoes I highly recommend them, though anything from a local grower will be delicious. There is nothing like the taste of fresh tomatoes! Fresh and warm from the sun, they bring me back to my childhood with every bite.

So grab as many fresh, local tomatoes as you can and keep it simple! There are many variations on the theme I am about to offer you, so do what you love, make it your own, and only eat delicious food!

 

If you have larger tomatoes slice or dice them up into big chunks, if you have cherry tomatoes you can cut them in half, or not…

Combine them with chunks of fresh goat cheese feta (also available at the markets) or fresh  mozzarella, some strands of fresh basil, and a drizzle of the finest olive oil you can find. Please do not use the bland, boring, mass-produced olive oils out there, find a great one, and if you want to try ours come  into the cafe and ask for a sample, you won’t be disappointed!

You can sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on, or not, as you wish. This is the perfect summer salad.

 

Now if you want to tumble that salad onto a delicious piece of bread, I prefer to grill the bread (dry), lightly rub it with a cut clove of garlic, top it with the tomatoes et al, and it is divine.

 

Another variation is to grill the bread, rub it with garlic, then rub it with the a tomato cut in half, so the tomato smears all over it. Top it with some pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of that fabulous olive oil!

 

You could also make a tart shell and bake the ‘salad’ for a heartier appetizer. No matter what you do, all of it or just eat the tomatoes, you will be so happy!

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OUR GIFT CARDS EARN YOU REWARDS!

Does someone love you enough to have given you a Monica’s gift card?

Have you loaded one up for yourself?

All of Monica’s gift cards act as rewards cards! Even if you no longer have a monetary balance on your card, you will still earn points with every meal purchase. You can track your balance online, but you don’t have to do anything; we keep track of everything for you! Simply present your card each time you make a purchase and we will add your points on. If you want to maintain a monetary balance, we will take care of that for you, too! No need to carry cash or credit cards, just your Monica’s card!

LEVEL 1 (25 points): A Free Cookie OR Coffee Drink

LEVEL 2 (50 points): A Free Dessert

LEVEL 3 (75 points): Free Dessert AND Beverage

LEVEL 4 (100 points): A Free Meal! Dessert AND Beverage Included.

LEVEL 5 (150 points): 2 Free Meals!! Desserts AND Beverages Included!

The fine print: You earn points for your own meals, or the equivalent. Any exceptions are at our discretion. Catering, special orders, special events, wine and bulk orders do not generally earn points. See the back of your card for other disclaimers.

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Getting out of the country, eh?

HOLY CRAP A DOE JUST WALKED THROUGH OUR YARD! We have lived here over 10 years and never had a deer here because all the neighbors can’t manage to keep their animals put, so there are many dogs roaming our unfenced acre+. It JUST happened as I was sitting down to write this! A couple of weeks ago Mark said he saw a doe in the driveway, but he didn’t get a good look and I didn’t see it at all. How cool is that! (Yes, I am easily entertained..)
Continue reading Getting out of the country, eh?

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Happy Anniversary

I awoke to the smell of sweet peas. Last night I put a lovely bunch, which I got from Pheasant Fields Farm at the Bremerton Farmers Market, into a small vase high atop the baker’s rack in our kitchen so the cats will not tear them apart. When I woke up this morning I could smell them and it made me smile.
Continue reading Happy Anniversary

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Sunshine, Chocolate & Chickpeas, oh my!

The sunshine is bringing folks out to the park these past few days. It’s still quite nippy out, but we true Western Washingtonians know to take advantage of a day with sun (breaks) no matter what the temperature is! People are sitting outside and actually have been for several days over the past month, in spite of the fact that ‘they’ say it has been raining more than usual this Spring.
Continue reading Sunshine, Chocolate & Chickpeas, oh my!

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Canlis

You may remember that last August my gals pooled together with a few family members and friends, and they gave me a Canlis gift certificate for my birthday. They all know I have a long list of restaurants in Seattle that I call my ‘wish list’; places I really want to go to eat. The list changes and reorders, with only one constant since I was 16 years old: Canlis has always been my number one wish. Canlis is legendary for their food and service, and when I was 16 years old several friends went there for dinner before Junior Prom. I did not, though I looked into the place and learned about it. Since then I have built it up in my mind and somehow it became too big and unattainable, so I didn’t even try to go there.
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I love cookbooks!

Do you love cookbooks? I do! I love to read them cover to cover, like I am reading a novel. I don’t necessarily read every single detail of every single recipe, though I do for many of them. I love to know what the author uses for salt, and the good ones include stories or background on at least the author, if not many of the recipes as well. I have lots of favorites, though there are a few that I always come back to both at home and at the cafe. One of my favorite places to get cookbooks is an antique store. I have found several unusual, fun and well-loved cookbooks at various ‘junk’ stores, especially up on Vancouver Island, in Sidney, BC. That tiny town has tons of old book stores and I have picked up some treasures in them.
Continue reading I love cookbooks!

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Happy Valentine’s Day. A Love Story.

Hi there! I know it’s been awhile and I thank you for being patient with my break from the blog. I did not stay away because I was avoiding you, honest! January was an emotional month, with the loss of an old friend and the usual January Business Anxiety, though I must admit that this was our best January yet for the cafe. I missed talking with you and I do have some things to report, but today is Valentine’s Day and I think it is a good time for a love story.
Continue reading Happy Valentine’s Day. A Love Story.

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Happy New

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? I got many books, which is good because one of the things I am bringing back to my life more this year is reading for fun. I read a lot of trade magazines and books, and often that IS fun and that’s ok, but I miss reading just for the sake of reading. I got several cookbooks and food books and I have spent the last 3 evenings happily devouring my favorite so far: ‘Cooking With Italian Grandmothers’ by Jessica Theroux. 
Continue reading Happy New