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Time Flies and Thyme Bundles

Can you believe Thanksgiving was just last week? Truly, it seems like a long time ago. So much has happened in our region, and in our neighborhood, and my little mind has been whirling and twirling like crazy. There are good ideas coming out of there so stay tuned! I hope you all had plenty of good food to eat on your holiday and I hope that at least one thing you ate this past week was locally produced. You know me, I cannot-or perhaps will not- get off that Think Local First soapbox. I am tenacious when I feel something is this important and just!

We had a wonderful time with Mark’s family; we do not get to see them as often as we would like to. You may be as shocked as I was to find out that our nephew Travis has grown about 3 inches and 1.5 shoe sizes since he left us for home in August! His voice is deeper and he has been running cross country so he is long and lean. I think this cross country is really good for him! He is a quiet kid and now is more relaxed… it seems that he has gained some self confidence, or maybe just a certain amount of comfort in his own skin. Do you remember 15 years old? It was pretty uncomfortable! So we enjoyed him even more than usual, if that is even possible. We are keeping our fingers crossed that he comes back to work with us again next year, though he will be driving and I do not look forward to the year that he decides to get a job closer to home. Of course we will give him a great reference, even if we do miss him like crazy!

Erin’s birthday dinner at Indochine was as good as always, and we were glad she asked us to join her! If you go to Tacoma, that is definitely a good place to go. After dinner we walked with her and her dad across theChihuly bridge, which neither of them had ever seen, and that is a fantastic way to end an evening! If you haven’t been to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma you are missing out on some amazing art. The outdoor exhibits are always up and always free, and the Dale Chihuly glass art that lines and covers the bridge over the freeway is absolutely beautiful. I would love a ceiling like that in my bedroom! Very often when I have trouble quieting my mind for sleep I imagine/remember snorkeling in Mexico. I envision the colors and textures as clearly as I can, focusing on details, so my mind can stop and relax. A ceiling like that would be wonderful to relax to. Now you know what to get me for Christmas! and please don’t forget the backlighting, it is crucial to the experience!

So this Saturday there is a great event called Stockings For A Cause in Silverdale, at Judy’s Junk & Java, from 2-5 pm. Our beloved coffee roasters, Paul & Dean, own this lovely vintage items store, and it is right next door to Lisa Stirrett’s Art Glass Studio. This silent auction and festive event has proceeds going directly to benefit families and individuals living with HIV AIDS in Kitsap County. Come on out and join us for a fabulous cup of coffee and some fundraising fun!

Then boom we are into the Hanukkah, Solstice and Christmas season! Decorated cookies, red envelope prizes, specialized goodies, gifts and our now famous chocolate dessert wine will all be in full swing next week! Let’s hope the weather stays mild and even beautiful like it has been so we can all get out and enjoy our community this season. Art Walk is next Friday and we are combining that with the Old Town Ladies Night so it should be very festive and fun. Then we have Mrs Claus, lots of catering going on and Christmas is 3 weeks away. Sheesh! I will go into those things more next week, this is just a teaser.

I had a long and arduous day today (read: I had to think about numbers a lot so I am tired and would love a glass of wine!) so I will bid you adieu a bit early. However, I know you must have frozen your Washington grown turkey carcass and are wondering what you should do with it now. Here is what I did to make a great broth that I have yet to strain and get into the freezer:

Pulled out the giant Le Creuset stock pot/dutch oven that I bought on ebay a few years ago for a steal!!

Broke up the turkey carcass and threw that in with a chicken carcass I had in the freezer as well.

Layered in a bit of olive oil, layed out some onions (with skins on) on their flat sides in the olive oil, then threw in some: peeled carrots, a few ribs of celery, a few bay leaves, a handful of pepper corns, a bundle of thyme, a scant handful of salt, a bunch of Italian parsley, about 20 cloves of garlic with the skins on, a bit of freshly grated nutmeg, and a round of panchetta that was loitering in the freezer and would add some body to the broth.

I turned up the burner and let the olive oil get hot and the onions start to sizzle a little bit.

I covered the whole lot with water, put the lid on and lit the fire on high. When it came to a boil I turned it down, tilted the lid and let her rock and roll for about 4 hours.

Then I strained out the solids, pressing on them to get out all the good stuff, and strained the broth again just to be sure. I put it in the fridge and it is now awaiting a nice skimming of the fat that I will do with some cheese cloth over a ‘spider’ (a Japanese strainer with a long, bamboo handle) to be sure to get the icky stuff out. Then I will freeze it in quart containers to use in risotto and soups for the next few months. YUM.

Notice I said a scant handful of salt. I like to salt things pretty well and I use good salt, though every dish calls for a different amount. Therefore I just gave it a nudge and will salt each dish appropriately as I use the broth up. It is difficult to take back a heavy dose of salt and usually even if you can adjust it the balance of other flavors is thrown off irreversibly. So go easy on the salt, just give the broth a taste of it, so it can see it’s own great potential!

Now. What will you do with your broth? Let me know if you want ideas!

 

Here we are at the cafe, Erin, Mark and I. We have already worked 6 hours and Mark and I only have 7 1/2 left before we close up for the weekend. I love the mornings here, when folks trickle in and pick up lots of yummy treats for the day, or just grab their latte for the road. I love that we are the first stop of the morning for a few special people and we get to start their day off nicely! While we normally go out of town and escape during this holiday weekend (it is, after all, the longest stretch of time off we all get here) this year I have extra projects to do. Since we are staying home I will work part of Thursday & most of Friday, and hopefully be able to have all of Saturday & Sunday off. That would be really nice! We will go to Mark’s mom and dad’s for Thanksgiving dinner and it is always nice and relaxing over there. I always end up sitting in a chair with my feet up just enjoying the company and down time.

We did not get nearly as many pre-orders this year as we have in past years. I am not sure what this signifies, though that fact, combined with sales being down 14% and costs of goods being up 13%, we are worried. Nonetheless we are forging on and still baking all the extra rolls, pies and cinnamon bread that we usually do in hopes of a big walk in traffic day. I have a big plan perking around in my head that I will announce next month, and the my FABULOUS staff team is rallying and coming up with some great ideas of their own, and we are going to turn this thing around. Until then, we will hang on tight and keep on trying! December is our ‘No Peeking’ red envelope giveaway, where we give out 1000 envelopes, each containing a secret prize, that the bearer may not open until s/he returns in January. Each envelope gets opened in front of us and we award the bearer the prize right away. It is so much fun! No one can see through the envelopes to try to see their prize before hand, though many have tried. Plus Mrs Claus will visit on the 12th and that is a wonderful family event for the kids.

Last Saturday was our staff meeting and we had so much fun. We always invite our past staffers to join us at the ‘after party’, and our current team is welcome to stay after the meeting for us to wine and dine them. While us gals take care of business for a couple of hours, Mark makes pizza dough, pizza sauce, cranks up the ovens and gets all the toppings ready for us. When the meeting is over and we have all hugged it out we tromp down the stairs and there is a flurry of activity. The girls go in the kitchen and are all chatting, getting wine glasses out and pouring for each other, getting excited for a fun evening. I am always the last one down and my very most favoritest thing in the world is slightly self indulgent (as all the best things are) and just a quiet moment. As I come through the door into the downstairs dining room I pause and listen. The happy chatter of those I love, all working together and happy to be with one another, is delightful to my ears and heart. It is slightly self indulgent because I know that I have created this loving environment and built this fabulous team, and it is some of the best results of my hard work. From the moment I decided to be a boss it has been my goal to be the kind of boss that I always wanted and never had. I work on it every day, and some days I am more successful than others, and yet every day I have at least a small victory in reaching that goal. Our gals are awesome! (and yes, it is in part because they let me call them ‘my girls’! Even though one is slightly older than me…)

We also had a new discovery that has gone over very well. Now mind you I KNOW it sounds disgusting, and it doesn’t even look very good. It is called “Chocovine” and the label says it is a blend of ‘Dutch Chocolate and Fine French Cabernet Wine’! Gross, right? You shake it up, serve it cold and it would last up to 6 months in the fridge if you could possibly resist drinking it all. It has the alcohol content of wine (14%, so a high alcohol wine) and only costs $12.95 a bottle (or $20 for 2 in a lovely gift box) and it is SO good! We handed out samples at the wine tasting Friday night, all day Saturday, and for a couple of hours on Monday, and all 4 cases are gone. That is how good it is! It tastes like a cross between Kahlua and Bailey’s, and at half the price of those bottles how can you go wrong? We have more on order and will get it Friday December 4 and I wish it were going to be sooner because everybody wants more now. It is the oddest wine I have ever carried, though since it is very unique I think it fits our quirky little wine collection. Such great wine and so little time!

Sunday was my first MLS game, at the MLS cup (thanks to Kat who gave us great tickets!!) and it was awesome! Especially since LA went DOWN! We were outside at the peanut stand where the peanuts are far more reasonably priced than inside, and I noticed a familiar package. They hadCB’s Nuts!! From Kingston! I bought a bag right away and a woman asked me ‘what’s the difference between those and the others?” I was very happy to tell her that they are roasted in Kitsap County and the best nuts you can eat! She bought a bag too… keepin’ it local, baby! I can’t wait to go to a Sounders game next season, so anyone who wants to take me to one let me know.

Friday is Erin’s birthday and she wants us all to meet at Indochine in Tacoma, which is really not a chore since we LOVE their food. It’s her birthday and she gets to eat what she wants on that day for sure! Saturday for fun we could go to the 55th annual Silverdale Christmas Tree Lighting around 5 pm (Santa arrives at 5:45 by police escort (though I think that speaks more to his dignitary status than to any criminal tendencies) and lights the 131 foot tall Douglas Grand Fir. (I have mixed feelings about that… though I don’t know where they got it.) Another fun activity this weekend will be the Harrison Foundation’s Festival of Treeswhich runs both Saturday and Sunday. For those of us in the south end there is always WinterFest at Peninsula High School in Purdy. I love that festival and have not gotten there in several years so I may just take a peek this weekend.

What will you do to get into the holiday spirit? Or would you rather not? I enjoy it for the month of December and not before or after, so we don’t get burned out on it. I need to go pull the turkey out of the fridge so it can rest at room temp before I cook it. Thanks to Farmer George’s meats in Port Orchard we got a 15 lb local bird and it is gonna be good! I will share with you my mashed potatoes method (as it is more a method than a recipe) in case you want to change up your method a bit. Have a wonderful weekend!

A bunch of yukon gold potatoes (It depends on how many you want to feed)
Cut them into chunks and boil them in chicken broth. I use a food mill so I just leave the skins on.

Meanwhile, carmelize an onion or two, and roast a few heads of garlic.
set out a tub of mascarpone cheese so it gets to room temp, as well as some unsalted butter.

When the spuds are done (fork tender) drain them, reserving the liquid for later.

Put them through the food mill (or ricer, or masher, or whatever you use and plop in a good blob of mascarpone and butter (yes, ‘plop’ and ‘blob’ are technical terms!) while the potatoes are still hot so the butter and creamy cheese can melt.

Salt the heck out of em, add some pepper, toss in the onions and garlic (you can chop those up more if you want to) and blend it all together. If you need more liquid add in a little of the broth that you set aside earlier. Keep mixing until you have it they way you want it. Eat em up! YUM!

You can use that broth later for your turkey soup, the starchy from the spuds is quite all right.

Ciao for now!