Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Twin Peaks kind of day.

To most twisted Pacific North-westerners, David Lynch is somewhat of a local icon. Born and raised in Missoula Montana, he would later bring our mysterious part of the country into homes across America with his cultish hit show Twin Peaks. I am a huge Twin Peaks fan. I am a huge David Lynch fan for that matter. I love the way he uses non-linear storylines and finds a darkness in nearly everything wholesome. With Twin Peaks he showed the world that the beautiful green state of Washington is in fact the UFO spotting, Bigfoot stalking, serial killer raising, suicide capital of the states. It is a great state but it does have a serious dark side.
So anyways, a few weeks ago K and I went sledding with our friends Rod and Shannon. On the way out there we made a pitstop in Issaquah to grab some lunch at the famous XXX Root Beer. More of a fun kitschy experience than great food. They are a fifties style burger joint crammed to the rafters with with 50's car memorabilia. They have car shows in their parking lot almost every week. While everybody else played it pretty safe with the menu (although Shannon's Ford Roadster chili burger was a giant tasty looking monstrosity) I decided to get XXX's infamous, bigger than your torso Cutlass 442 burger. It was a very large burger with grilled ham, hamburger patty, bacon, roasted hot dog, grilled onions, mayo, XXX dressing, lettuce, tomato, pickles with curly fries. My gripe was that there was too much bun. It wouldn't be nearly as hard to finish eating if there was less bread in the equation. After eating, we waited a few minutes to see if I would have a heartattack, and then off to the snow we went. We drove out to Snoqualmie Pass and had a great time sledding and snowboarding. Though I could've done without the few times we bashed into each other at breakneck speeds. So after a few hours of playing in the snow we decided to head over to the town of North Bend, the famous setting for Twin Peaks' own Twede's Cafe where Special Agent Dale Cooper get some "cherry pie and a damn fine cup o' coffee". I'm not big on coffee or pie so I had a Cola float. Everybody else had cherry pie and apparently a pretty damn okay cup of coffee. I did try the cherry pie and it was pretty tasty. After filling our bellies even more we then drove up to the Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge, where even more of Twin Peaks was filmed. The falls are so beautiful and awe-inspiring. That photo up at the top are of the falls and Salish Lodge. It was getting dark and after staring at the scenery for a while we went inside the lodge for some wine and cognac. It was a perfect day in the strange, creepy Northwest.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Most important meal of the day.

Well, I'm sick again. Yes I know, I was cheated in the immune system department. All I have to do is look at someone with a cold and I'll catch it. Good thing I work in customer service and get to interact with the entire flu riddled population of Seattle this winter. Good times. So anyways, I'm done fishing for sympathy. I want to talk about breakfast. Most important meal of the day, or so I've heard. To tell you the truth, I rarely eat breakfast. Maybe there's a correlation between that and the fact that I get sick all the time. It's not that I don't like breakfast foods. I love eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, biscuits & gravy. While I really don't care for cereals, pancakes, or any of those early sweets I truly can't get enough of those savory morning treats (nice rhyme!). The problem for me, is that I'm seriously not a morning person. It takes me a couple of hours to get my head straight. At least I've quit my horrible Georgia tradition/addiction of drinking coke for breakfast. The hole in my stomach and the teeth in my mouth thank me for that.

So a few weeks ago I bought some venison sausage from Whole Foods and tossed the in my freezer. I had never had venison before so I was pretty excited to try them. Some people have a problem with eating the tasty meat because it invokes chilhood memories of when Bambi's mother get shot in the Disney classic. I don't seem to have that problem. I do however hate the idea of hunting for sport. If you're going to kill something, you better eat it. It doesn't happen that often but I recently woke up early enough on one of my days off that I was hungry around breakfast time (10am is still early isn't it?). The night before had I put the sausages in the fridge to thaw out. I sauteed them up in a tiny bit of olive oil and served them with some local organic fried eggs and english muffins with butter. To me, this is a perfect breakfast. Now if I could only get myself to eat breakfast more often perhaps I wouldn't have to spend so much money on cold medicine. It's just a theory.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Soup is good food.

I really do enjoy the holidays but man, I am glad things are back to normal (at least as normal as they get around here). Things have been kind of non-stop for the past month or so and I felt like I never had time to do the things I needed to do. But here we are again. Back to the grindstone. One of my New Years resolutions is that I get back to consistently posting delicious foody (or foodie, whatever) goodness. Twice a week or more is my goal.

So here we are in the early part of January. Here in Seattle that means lots of rain and wind and cold. There's nothing better than soups and stews (anyone that says stoups gets a smack in the face) on these kinds of days. I love a good hearty rib-sticking soup that fills you up and keeps you warm. Split pea soup with ham is one of my favorites. The other night I watched The Exorcist for the 1000th time and believe it or not, I got the hankering to make some after watching Linda Blair spew gallons of the stuff all over the place. Yes, I know I'm strange but there it is. I had a Berkshire ham bone in the freezer from the holidays and knew I had to make some soup with it.

Split Pea & Berkshire Ham Soup

Serves 8-10.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
4 peeled carrots, diced (one diced carrot set aside)
3lbs cooked Berkshire bone-in ham, most of the meat cut off ,diced, and set aside. (see note)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups dried green split peas
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
4 cups chicken stock
6 cups water

In a large, heavy pot over medium high heat melt the butter Add the onion, celery and carrots and sauté until they to soften (about 6-8 minutes). Add the ham bone, oregano, bay leaves. Stir and sauté 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock & water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Partially cover pot and simmer for 1 hour or until the peas and vegetables are tender
Remove the ham bone and pull off the remaining meat adding it to the rest of the diced ham. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or using an immersion blender. Return to pot. Return the diced ham to the soup. Add the last diced carrot and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the frozen peas and simmer 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Eat it hot. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

*(Note) Aside from the ham bone you are looking for about 2 cups of diced ham.