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Food for Thought

The food writer event we had at Rodstol Lane Farm last weekend was fantastic! The only thing I regret is that more people did not come to it, mainly because I think it’s a shame anyone had to miss it. We had beautiful weather, great music, the food was fabulous if I do say so myself, and the wine was great too. Best of all were the authors who came and spoke to us and let me tell you it was an honor to have these three women all together for this panel. I first began reading blogs when I was researching to see what they were and I became fascinated with a few, particularly food blogs. I realized that I had stopped having time to read books, and I love to read, so this filled that need in small spurts. My first 2 were Orangette and Gluten Free Girl.

I don’t remember how I found them since it was about 3 years ago, but I was probably searching for food writing in the Seattle area. Molly (Orangette) writes so beautifully with words that fill my mind with pictures. Shauna’s (GFG) writing did the same for me and while I didn’t know they knew each other, I began to follow them both. I have watched them grow and change even as my life was changing constantly. (It always is, I just noticed it more back then.) Their writing has changed and so have they, and it is a strange thing to feel like you know someone when you really don’t know them at all, and yet these women are so gracious they make me feel right at home. I emailed Shauna for guidance in safely feeding our gluten free customers and we began talking now and then. Eventually I invited both her and her husband (Chef) Daniel to a Chef’s Collaborative feast of pork in Seattle and I finally got to meet them in person. They were just as generous and nice as they seemed to be in the writings, and they continue to be as nice as you can imagine. Mark and I were invited to a party celebrating their birthdays last year and that is where I met Molly and her husband Brandon in person for the first time.

Molly and I had also exchanged emails, especially as she and Brandon embarked upon opening a new restaurant. I could relate to much of what she wrote and I wanted her to know she wasn’t alone. I just love these gals and yet they don’t know me hardly at all so it makes me seem like a crazy stalker, doesn’t it. I am a bit in awe of them as they are published authors and internationally renowned bloggers and yet they act like regular people with excellent taste in food. When they both accepted my invitation to speak at the Food for Thought event I was ecstatic! They referred me to a few other wonderful authors and in the end one other could come and that was the darling Lorna Yee.

I found Lorna’s blog I think just over a year ago, most likely as a link from one of the other gals. She has wonderful food photos on her blog (I WISH I could figure out how to get pics on this one!) and a new cookbook out, and I had been reading her articles online and in Seattle Magazine for awhile. I was so excited when she agreed to come: I would get to meet her! She brought her dashing husband Henry Lo, and their adorable pup KimChee, and they were both just as gracious and generous as Molly and Shauna are. Truly, all three are a delight to spend time with.

I am lucky enough to know Chef Chris Plemmons (of Two Snooty Chefsand Olympic College) and he agreed to help me with this meal. He came to the cafe at 6 that morning and helped with some prep work before hauling the meats that I had prepared to the farm. He set up the rotisserie, started the wood charcoal, and got the pork roasts and whole chickens turning on the spit. Oh man, was that meat delicious, and we could not have done the meal without him! He also moderated the speaker’s panel and I was pleasantly surprised at his natural affinity for it! He did a much better job than I could have and I am so grateful for his help. Mark and I got to the cafe at 4 to start prepping then Erin got there at 5. Leslie was supposed to but she slept in a bit on accident… those gals worked their butts off all day so I won’t hold it against her. Between the 4 of us we got it all done (what a great crew!) and were at the farm by 10:30 to get it ready. The girls got the food area all set up, Mark (the most amazing husband in the world) helped with everything and grilled the Italian sausages and we were a go! We had pink pickled onions (I borrowed that idea from last year’s Harvest Meal, by Marty over at Agate Pass Cafe in Suquamish…I LOVE those sweet onions!) roasted red potato salad w/raspberry vinaigrette; Summer white bean salad w/fresh corn, herbs & cherry tomatoes, roasted green beans and wonderful olive oil; Gazpacho salad with big chunks of fabulous veggies in lime and lemon juice; fresh apricots and cantaloupe; gluten-free coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate, chocolate chip cookies and butterscotch rangers.

Yup, folks ate good! I also made 2 sauces for the meats: a vinegar sauce ala North Carolina style and a mustard/beer sauce. All the produce was as local as I could get it, and I utilized Local Boys in Purdy for most of it. Trevor was a huge help to me and they are big on local produce. They know every farmer they work with, local or not, and are familiar with the farming practices used, so you can be sure to be eating responsibly, as well as flavorfully, when you get produce from Local Boys. They have local dairy products, eggs, wine, and the most addictive corn chips EVER…but I digress…

Once the meal was served, the musicians gone and the speakers were done signing books, folks started exiting and the tear down went relatively quickly. Mark and I had a lovely drink on the spacious front porch of the farmhouse with Cynthia and Tony Mora, owners of the gorgeous Rodstol Lane Farm. It was nice to relax a bit with friends before heading back to the cafe for cleanup. If you get a chance to go to an event at the farm (listed on their web site) you really should see it. This is a beautiful working farm and I want to live there!

I left the event details up on our web site so you can check out all the links HERE to see the great winemakers and info booths that were set up at the site also. Thormod from Viking Feast Ice Cream was there to sell his wonderful skyr (it’s like a frozen yogurt style ice cream and delicious! You can find him at Silverdale Farmer’s Market, Bremerton Farmer’s Market, and Poulsbo FM as well as other events.)

Mark and I got home and into bed a bit after 8 that night, and were back at the cafe by 6 am because we had a catering job. Since Whaling Days shut us down for the weekend, and the Food for Thought event was a volunteer gig, we had to make up some of the lost income… we were exhausted when we got home around 2 pm. We went to bed at about 7:30 that night and slept hard! This next weekend we have a big catering event on Saturday and then the Finn River Farm & Cidery event on Sunday, so we will do it again. I am pretty excited, this farm tour is going to be FUN!

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I am trying to decide where I want to have my birthday meal at the end of August. I wanted to do the back room at Salumi, but I have not had luck getting a reservation, so I must decide what to do. I think I want to go to Seattle and hit one of my wish list places, and I have it narrowed down to 8 restaurants (yes, my wish list is huge!) and then again, there are 3 food trucks that I really want to visit. I know that sounds crazy so I will give you the links and you can see for yourself how I want to try everything on their menus: Skillet Street FoodMarinationand Hallava Falafel. See? I TOLD you they are awesome! So, should I make a full day of it and take as many friends as possible to the trucks to try every thing on the menus? Or should I do a quiet, relaxing dinner with full service at one of the 8 restaurants that I must choose between? What sounds best to you? Help me figure it out, please!

For next week’s cater they have requested a ‘regular’ potato salad (as opposed to our delicious roasted red potato salad) so I am creating a recipe for that. Here is one that I like by Ina Garten and I will definitely use these ideas for mine. Try it at your next picnic and tell me what you think:

Makes 6-8 servings:

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve cold or at room temperature. (Both potatoes and mayonnaise have strong potential for salmonella, so never leave it out for more than 2 hours before cooling it down again quickly.)

Ciao for now!