Citrus salad with black pepper and tarragon.

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Helloo-oh, it’s winter. And Seattle has had some dark, short days. When I moved here this past summer, I selectively forgot about latitude, sun patterns, and the winter solstice. Why would a southern girl ever need to remember things like that? Evidently, it’s important in the Pacific Northwest. Evidently, it’s why the vampires from the Twilight series live in a town near me.

But (non-vampire) people have survived this far north for decades, centuries; I must be able to adopt the evolutionary adaptations that Seattlites use to cope with pasty skin and seven months of darkness, right? From my initial observations I’ve found that some days you have ginger cookies and milk for lunch. Some days (ahem, all days) you take hour-long baths. Some days you kayak and/or hike in the snow and/or rain. Every day you eat well.

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Never before have I been in a place that loves its seasonal food as much as the Pacific Northwest does. Winter is no excuse for bland colors. Instead, the markets burst with sunny persimmons, dark green lacinato kale and seaweed, silver-gilded oyster mushrooms, temptingly red endives, and citrus, their oranges, reds, and yellows like sweet, fragrant winter suns.

When our winter began in November, I made this citrus salad with grapefruit, tangerines, and pomegranate seeds. It was simple  and bright, a challenge to the months of gray to come. As winter has progressed, I’ve added a splash of sultry blood oranges, bit of freshly ground black pepper, handful of allspice. I need this salad like I need Vitamin D; in all its peppery, herbaceous lightness, it’s edible sun.

Postscript: As I write to you the sun is out in Seattle. In fact, the past week has been wonderfully, surprisingly sunny (three days of [foggy] sun! Sun, people!) Coincidence? I think not. Thank you, citrus salad.

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Citrus Salad with Black Pepper and Tarragon

Feel free to make this salad your own with different fresh herbs, spices, and types of citrus. For balanced flavor and pleasing visual appearance, pick types of seedless citrus with different levels of bitterness and varied interior colors.

Serves four, with leftovers for breakfast.

  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, split in two bowls
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 mandarin oranges, navel oranges, or tangerines
  • 1 pomelo or oroblanco
  • 1 grapefruit (ruby red looks particularly lovely)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (pink pepper would work wonderfully as well; it’s just a bit harder to find.)

Add sugar, 1/8 cup tarragon, and 1/8 cup water in a jar and shake until the sugar dissolves and tarragon bruises. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve for salad. Tarragon syrup will keep for a week in the fridge and can be used as a cocktail mixer, pancake topper, etc… the sweet possibilities are endless!

Cut off the base and stem end of each citrus and peel citrus with cut side flat on the cutting board. Make sure to peel off any bits of bitter white pith. Slice citrus crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds.

Arrange citrus on a platter. Grind a bit of fresh black pepper over top, drizzle with tarragon syrup, and finish with remaining tarragon.

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Y’all, buttermilk biscuits!

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While home in Georgia for the holidays, I took Harvard University’s dialect test online.

Well, y’all, turns out I’m a southerner.

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When I was growing up in Atlanta, I wasn’t very fond of the south.

Actually, I did everything I could to prove I was not southern. When asked where I was from, I said Australia. During the “Freedom Fries” mania, I ordered French Frites. Okra made me gag. My parents were the only liberals within a forty-mile radius who dared put “vote democrat” signs in their yard, and I was proud of it. In high school, I skipped as many football games as was humanly possible without committing social suicide. And I insisted on leaving the south before I turned fifteen, escaping to the farthest parts of the world I could think of: Japan, India, Guatemala, Nepal.

Yet no matter how hard I tried, I still say y’all. I would trade my future child for a Price’s Chicken Coop fried chicken dinner; I know the words to every Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton song. And yes, oh yes, I love down-home, sweet and flaky, buttermilk biscuits.

For years, I have searched for the best biscuits. I’ve tried many in restaurants– Skillet Diner in Seattle and Swallow at the Hollow in Atlanta make my favorites. But I needed to eat biscuits that I had made in my own kitchen. I needed to cut butter and lard into flour, to feel silken buttermilk as I worked dough together with my hands. It would prove to myself who I was: a southerner.

It seems fitting that, just as I have begun to accept the south, I would find my homemade biscuits. It happened on New Year’s Day. My mom fried quail and boiled collards and beets; I made biscuits, trying out a new but sworn-by recipe. Sitting down to the table, we were a picture of the post-church Sunday Dinner Southern Gothic.

The biscuits tasted as they should: light yet sour, flaky yet rich. To me, they tasted like the south: tender and sweet.

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Ma Mae’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Recipe adapted from fellow Georgian and foodist brother, Alton Brown, who, for years, has sought to recreate his Ma Mae’s* biscuits. I suggest you serve these biscuits with butter and sorghum or molasses, as pictured above. It’s the southern way.

*Ma Mae: n. southern for grandmother (synonyms: mammy, grandmammy, granny, me-ma, etc…)

Makes a dozen.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, cold
  • 2 tablespoons shortening, cut into small pieces, cold
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a rimmed baking sheet or pie pan. Prepare a clean surface with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. As quickly as possible, rub cold butter and shortening into dry ingredients with your fingertips until mixture looks like small peas; don’t let the fats melt. Make a well in the center and pour in the cold buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together; it will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on rimmed pan so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible, and continue cutting.

Bake until biscuits are tall and golden brown on top, 12 to 18 minutes.

Boozy baked apples, coming home.

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Friends, it has been waaay too long. Four months; four-ever. I wish I had a story-worthy excuse that sounds something like “so I was riding down this dark, coffee shop-lined alley on my fixie and these hipsters in jeggings and oversized knit hats kidnaped me” or “the ship I was working on as a fisherwoman didn’t have wifi.”

But, alas, I was not kidnapped by caffeine-hyped hipsters and I gave up my dreams of becoming a fisherwoman when I was thirteen and The Perfect Storm gave me reoccurring nightmares. Instead, my only excuse is that I have fallen helplessly and ridiculously in love with my new home.IMG_8356

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Seattle is beautiful. Most days are gray, but when afternoon sun nudges its way in to the street you can’t help but smile.  Ninety-two percent of the people I’ve met are introverts involved in either a start-up or a band, sometimes both, and who love their dogs, alcoholic drinks, REI membership status, bocce ball, composting, and good food. I live in an apartment above an espresso shop and incense emporium, and when my window is open I can hear the church down the street play hymns on the hour (and coincidentally the same church Macklemore features in “Same Love.”) At night, the air smells like salt and clouds.

Put Seattle on your bucket list; you will thank me forever, I promise. Where else can the sun make you automatically smile?

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The great state of Washington also happens to have incredibly wonderful apples. A couple weeks back, I went to a farm north of the city and picked 22 pounds of the sweet red things. Since then I’ve eaten one a day, and kept the doctor away, but I still feel a duty to my new homeplace to explore its apple horizons. So I pull out the old pyrex dishes and autumn spices, pour myself a cocktail, and get to work on these boozy baked apple babies. Oats and almonds give the apples a crisp, buttery core and amaretto reduces as the apples cook, absorbing their sweetness into a spicy, caramelized syrup that tastes like home. It’s a simple recipe that takes five to ten minutes to prep. Yet time in the oven highlights each apple’s creamy interior, its tart skin, its hint of harsh minerality and the soil where it once grew. I find there is no better way to honor Washington, to honor autumn, than by baking its apples.

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Baked Apples with Ginger and Amaretto

Serves three.

  • 3 medium, firm, flavorful apples, cored
  • 2 tbsp butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp quick oats
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • Pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 tbsp crystalized ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • 1/2 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 375º. Core apples with a small pairing knife or spoon.

In a small bowl combine butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, almonds, spices and ginger. Knead ingredients together with hands until combined. Spoon mixture into apples that you have nestles into in a small baking pan with sides. Pour amaretto and cider around apples and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with crème fraîche, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

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Gradumacated.

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It’s been awhile; I’ve missed you!

1-DSC_15431-DSC_15911-DSC_1589-001Some big life happenings have been happening.

Graduating from Davidson College was one of those happenings. I finished the first draft of my new novel, took a few finals, and turned in my last academic paper (well, last for the foreseeable future) and got myself to the beach to celebrate the past four years with the rest of Davidson’s graduating class, beer, tequila sunrises, and bowls of guacamole.

After finding my black cap and gown at the bottom of a packed suitcase, I ran across the stage to receive a fancy anthropology degree with magna cum laude and phi beta kappa flair. The certificate or degree or whatever you call it is all in Latin. Who knows what it actually says; I need another degree for that. But it looks beautiful with its black, flowing script on paper as rich as creme anglaise.

I didn’t have too long to comprehend my exit from academia because within twenty-four hours of the ceremony I was sitting next to my mom on a plane to San Francisco, bound for my Berkeley birthplace and a glass of celebratory Napa wine.

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1-DSC_1413  1-DSC_1493      1-DSC_15821-DSC_15761-DSC_1567As I write to you from a quiet, sunny Peet’s Coffee Shop on University Avenue, I realize how quickly everything happened. May has been the half-marathon I ran a couple years back. Almost to June, I feel the same sensations I had felt just after crossing the finish line: overjoyed to be done, slightly sick, and incredibly excited for my legs to stop hurting (or, in this extended metaphor, incredibly excited for what’s to come.) The only difference is that I’ve been running my academic, metaphorical race for sixteen years.1-DSC_15931-DSC_1601So here we are. Gradumacated. Liberal Arts Edumaquated. Imbibing Robert Mondavi wine (see Cabernet Sauvignon casks above,) Berkeley’s legendary Cheese Board Collective cheese, Acme Bread baguettes,  Monterrey Market kale, local farm eggs. And thankful to all the people (that’s you!) who made it possible for me to get here.

Damn, graduation tastes good.

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Hot cross buns.

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Sometimes god feels near. And other times far away.

Yesterday morning I rolled hot cross buns between my palms and their sticky dough was fragrant with cinnamon, their flesh studded with little black currants and stained cranberry pink.

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Every Easter morning that I can remember, Daddy has made hot cross buns. I’d wake up early to watch him cross the top of risen dough with a sharp knife. He or Mimi would say, “Christ is risen.” I’d savor the sacred liturgical feel of it all; my reply, “Christ is risen indeed,” would be as delicious as the rolls’ spiced, fluffy crumb.

Grandma Lorena had baked hot cross buns on Easter when Daddy was growing up and so when he made them yesterday it was without question or anticipation. Easter hot cross buns have become a wonderful, almost sweet inevitability.

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When Grandma made hot cross buns, she got up hours before sunrise to take the dough from its overnight refrigerator rise. Grandpa left as the rolls baked to prepare for his sunrise sermon at church. Then Daddy and his two brothers bumbled downstairs. They were hungry and adolescent, drawn toward the smell of yeast and caramelized currants that would soon actualize on their plates with gooseberry preserves and butter.

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Yesterday morning it had just rained and dew drops hung from budded branches. The air was heavy, almost balmy with spring and life.  I dressed the rolls’ wounds with white powdered sugar quietly. The morning, its movement of life, converged in that moment of torn bread becoming whole. Christ is risen indeed.

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Hot Cross Buns

Makes 24 rolls. Recipe from Lorena Blount’s kitchen and her mother, Pearl’s, cookbook, 1953.

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (equal to 1 package of yeast)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup milk, scalded
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • 3 1/2 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup currants, raisins, or cranberries
  1. Soften yeast in warm water (110 degrees.)
  2. Combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt; cool to lukewarm. Add softened yeast and egg. Gradually stir in flour to form soft dough. Beat vigorously.
  3. Cover and let rise in warm place (around 82 degrees) ’til double in bulk, about 2 hours. (Most rolls require only thorough mixing, with little or no kneading.)
  4. Form into 2 dozen buns and flatten slightly. Brush tops with milk or slightly beaten egg white. Let rise ’til very light. Using a knife, cut top of buns at right angles to form cross. Bake at 375 degrees, 25-30 minutes.
  5. Cool. Then make crosses with powdered sugar icing. Snip off the end of a clean envelope to make decorating tube for frosting. Cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, or vanilla make a good frosting– you won’t need much.

Aside: (my notes say that bigger buns are preferable to small ones which dry out during baking.)

Vegan chia date pudding.

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Spring has sprung!

I think all that cooking her to us worked.

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The urge to frolic is irresistible. The sun is up longer each day. Warm bursts of wind shake tiny buds on cherry trees.  Daffodils peak up from their winter hibernation underground. We might’ve lost a Daylight Savings hour but we’ve gained so much more.

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Six weeks. Six weeks. Next week the mantra will become five weeks, five weeks. I know it’s important to be in the present, but I can’t help counting down the days to graduation and Seattle and summer.

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I make light chia pudding with vanilla and sweet dates to stay in the present.

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If you haven’t experienced the wonder of the Chia (and no, I’m not talking about those green, sprouted cha-cha-chia! heads and pets) then get thee self to the grocery store and buy yourself a bag. They’re rich in omega-3s, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Chia seeds are easier to digest than their flax seed friends and lower in fat. And they’re a great vegan substitute for eggs when making pudding because they contain a compound that creates gelatinous texture.

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I’m a fan of vegan food; I shamelessly crave hunks of Tofurkey, strips of smoky Seitan, and a vegan friend’s marinated-broiled tofu. But my world is too enamored with Gruyère cheese and Eggs Benedict to renounce dairy and eggs completely.

Almost all the chia pudding recipes online are vegan. These puddings satisfy a sweet custard craving yet lack the layered, creamy texture that you achieve with dairy. A couple days ago my mom created the non-vegan version below. We haven’t stopped chanting the cha-cha-chia theme song since.

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Vanilla-Date Chia Pudding: Vegan/Non-Vegan

Non-Vegan

Serves 4 (makes about 2 1/2 cups.)

1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup milk
1 egg7 Medjool dates, pitted and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
handful of berries
maple syrup for drizzling and chopped dates and pecans for topping

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk on low heat, stirring often, until steaming and then turn off heat. In the meantime, beat egg in a separate bowl.
  2. Temper egg by quickly whisking 2 tablespoons warm milk with the beaten egg. While vigorously whisking the milk, slowly add tempered egg to the saucepan.
  3. Add chia seeds, minced dates, vanilla, and maple syrup to taste while the milk-egg mixture is still hot.
  4. Garnish with dates, pecans, and berries and serve warm or cool overnight and serve chilled.

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Vegan Version

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, January 2012.
Serves 6 to 8 (makes 4 1/2 cups.)

 

1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup (5 ounces) cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours to overnight
4 cups water or almond milk
7 Medjool dates (5 1/2 ounces), pitted
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons coconut butter
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups mixed raspberries and blueberries
3/4 cup maple syrup, for drizzling

  1. Place chia seeds in a medium mixing bowl, and set aside.
  2. Drain cashews, and rinse well. Add cashews, water/almond milk, dates, salt, cinnamon, coconut butter, and vanilla extract to a blender. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes, and pour into bowl with chia seeds; whisk well. Let mixture stand for 10 to 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes to prevent chia seeds from clumping (pudding will thicken quickly). Refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
  3.  Serve with berries, dates, and maple syrup to drizzle.

Pudding can be refrigerated in a covered glass container for up to 5 days.

 

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Granola, crunchy and crunchier.

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I finally found it. The best granola recipe in the world.

There’s a lot of granola out there. And it’s mostly over-priced, overly-sweet, and overly-processed. Being a college student with a yoga mat, nose ring, and kombucha scoby, I am well acquainted with the art of homemade granola. But before a couple of days ago, I wasn’t able to create a crunchy yet dense wafer of honeyed oat goodness. Before, most granola batches either turned out slightly soggy or almost burnt. Granola needs to stick together. With independent oats, your milk and granola breakfast becomes a soupy mess; granola is a little like people.

The secret to granola “bark” is in the spatula. After you pour coated oats in to a rimmed baking sheet, firmly compress the mixture with the back of your spatula. Don’t stir the granola while it’s baking. Instead, just turn the pan around a couple times while in the oven.

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Despite its association with the crunchy, health-food types, granola really isn’t that healthy; it requires a dessert-worthy amount of fat and sugar. Thus I have two versions for you. One is sticky, coconut-oil rich, and sweet. It’ll taste more like the granola you buy in the store and it’ll also have just as many calories. The good part is it won’t have all the chemicals. The other version has modest amounts of fat and sugar and tastes great. But because there’s not much fat, the oats won’t stick together.

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Spiced Coconut Granola, Two Ways

Makes 6 cups.

Rich, sweet version

(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Almond Granola.)

1/3 c maple syrup
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil
5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp spice of choice (ie cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice)
2 cup (10 ounces) raw nuts, chopped coarsely, like almonds, pecans, or walnuts
2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, chopped

Or, the low-fat, low-sugar version

1/3 cup maple syrup
4 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp spice of choice (ie cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice)
2 cup (10 ounces) raw nuts, chopped coarsely, like almonds, pecans, or walnuts
2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, chopped

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in oil. Fold in oats and nuts until thoroughly coated.
  3. Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (about 3/8 inch thick). Using stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Remove granola from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried fruit. (Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

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Ode to coffee.

mocha espresso, Cafe Vivace.
caffe macchiato, Espresso Vivace.

Seattle claims 9,368 coffee shops within its city limits. Somehow more coffee shops crop up every day.

The city’s coffee addiction is understandable. Seattle’s weather forecast for two-thirds of the year is “drizzly cold” and the only thing you want is a hot drink to cradle and imbibe. Preferably with caffeine to keep you from staying in bed all day. To stay out of bed, I’ve sipped my way around the city. And I haven’t had a bad sip yet.

So then why, in the midst of Coffee Shop Eden, is everyone here is obsessed with Starbucks? Why is there one on every block (totaling to at least 424.) Why does a Seattle woman named Beautiful Existence feel she has to prove her undying Starbucks love and consume only Starbucks items for a year?

Why?? As the Seattlite Tom puts it, “We’re addicted to caffeine. Starbucks sells candy caffeine.”

To the Starbucks on every corner,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Love, Robert Frost and Jessie

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Top 3 coffee shops from the road less traveled:

Arabica Lounge: this artsy fartsy joint created by multimedia artist Jojo Corväiá is “a place for the stimulation of all senses…to revisit the fact that good quality of life is always within reach.” You’ll probably agree if your idea of the good life is sipping fantastically thick coffee next to a montage of nautical prints. Or if you like a man with a beard and dark-rimmed glasses because he will serve your coffee. Or if you want to make conversation difficult with loud alternative jazz. It’s a cool spot, a bit too cool for heartfelt social interactions. But if you want the best cappuccino in Seattle, Arabica Lounge is your place.

Caffè Fiorè: the best eco-roasters in town. As you sip in the dark, cozy coffee tavern feel sustainable with your organic bean coffee. Order the Sevilla, mocha coffee with orange zest. It rings up at a hefty $4, but the unique taste experience is splurge worthy.

Espresso Vivace: as Vivace’s name tells, the cafe brews espresso in its liveliest, creamiest, most wonderful form. Espresso Vivace’s secret is in the foam they coax from brewed coffee and milk. Foam holds complex flavor while lightening texture. My favorite is the barista-recommended caffe macchiato, coffee with a dollop of milk foam. It tastes like coffee cocoa and cream. For those with sweet teeth, the White Velvet will make you swoon.

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cappuccino, Arabica Lounge.

cappuccino, Arabica Lounge.

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How to cook a crumpet.

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What is a crumpet, you might ask, and how can I try one? Well…

the Seattle Public Library.

the Seattle Public Library.

Crumpets are a traditional British tea-time snack. The Brits lightly slather butter, jam, or marmite on these babies. But I say, ‘Merica! Let’s make crumpets economical and multicultural and throw a bunch of stuff on top so we can eat them anytime of the day! The Crumpet Shop in Seattle takes the American approach. For breakfast, savor a crumpet with eggs, peppers, and ricotta cheese or my Caramelized Egg Crumpet (see below.) For desert, nom on a crumpet dripping in melted nutella, crushed peanuts, and banana slices. Be patriotic and try your own crumpet mixology. What flavors would you combine?

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Caramelized Egg Crumpet

serves 2

obtain a couple crumpets or make them yourself
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 eggs
3 oz cheddar (Kerrygold Dubliner is an inexpensive favorite)
fresh herb for garnish (optional)

Caramelize the onion first. On medium-high heat, add onions with 1 Tbsp oil, a pinch of salt, and baking soda. Stir continually until onions are golden and tender, about 5 minutes.

Fry two eggs to preference and toast crumpets with cheese or butter. Assemble crumpets and garnish with a fresh herb (dill and/or parsley is fantastic.) Serve hot with a cup of English Breakfast tea.IMG_7773

Seattle and the crumpet.

Oh 2013. Where shall I begin?

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My brother and I arrived in Seattle on New Year’s day. Within an hour of getting off the plane, the sun decided to peak her head through the clouds. It stayed that way for four days; we’re basking in unseasonal, auspicious light.

My brother Ben, who everyone calls Bud, is moving to Seattle to get technical with Amazon’s Kindle team. He’ll live in a tiny apartment above Seattle’s best coffee shop (so the city’s foodie polls say) for the next couple years. And since I want to write, bake, and do locavore activism full-time, I have two post-graduate housing options: live in an Ikea box or live with my awesome, loving brother. I think I’ll take the fraternal option and that apartment with luscious coffee scents. Bud, I promise I’ll do all your laundry.

Now I just have to go back to North Carolina and graduate from Davidson…

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I love how a new year and a new place asks us to pause and recollect the past, meditate on the changes, and experience the momentum of life. I am feeling movement as I write to you from the corner nook of a coffee shop. Water beads on the window pane and I cradle a warm mug.

And this is where the crumpet comes in.

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To celebrate the new year, my brother took me to The Crumpet Shop. The morning was so cold it tasted bitter and wind from Puget Sound battered our Georgia “winter” coats. We arrived at the shop with pink noses and were greeted by a warmth that smells like ginger tea and orange marmalade. We ordered a crumpet with green eggs and ham from a hand-painted menu. Cats dotted the walls and crocheted snowflakes hung in the window.

It was my first crumpet and, from the first bite, I decided I would love crumpets for the rest of my life and that Seattle would be my new home. Each cranny of the spongy, irresistibly dense bread was a glimpse in to the new year. A new year including mountains, seagulls, fixies, men with beards riding fixies, Asian seafood markets, and Seattle. The city rolled off my tongue like honey atop a crumpet.

One regular got up to leave and a young guy kneading dough behind the counter exclaimed, “Happy New Year! It’s going to be the best one yet.” Yes, it will be.

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