Drink to your health

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Now that it’s January, you may be looking for a more virtuous beverage. Allow me to recommend the cider, thyme and tonic mocktail courtesy of Offbeat + Inspired. It’s seasonal, bright, and not too sweet.

I love how the apple, herbal and lemon flavors play off each other, creating a balanced and complex drink– so rare for a mocktail! Plus, it was fun making my own thyme simple syrup.

This was a hit at my house on New Year’s Eve. I used fresh-squeezed meyer lemon juice (in season and so good right now) and Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water (quality tonic is a must and this one’s the best). I also splashed in some sparkling mineral water to amp up the bubbles and bring down the sweetness a bit further.

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Cider, thyme and tonics would also be a perfect match for brunch or a baby shower. If you’re feeling less virtuous, you can always add your favorite alcohol. Apple brandy, gin, or even whiskey could all be wins here.

Salud!

From Portland with love

In Portland, there is no shortage of talented and creative folks making beautiful and useful products. These are a few of my favorite things made right here in Portland. Great for gift giving!

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Gorgeous hand-thrown mugs, cups, bottles and more from Mazama Wares. If you’re local, you can stop by Mazama’s open house at their North Portland studio this Sunday, December 21st for the best selection.

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Covet-worthy chopsticks from Hank by Henry— handmade from untreated hard woods and free of chemicals. I can’t resist red, but the subtly metallic versions are really lovely, too. I first spotted these at the holiday gift shop at the Portland Japanese Garden, where they’re selling individual pairs and boxed sets.

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This handcrafted mixer from RAFT Botanicals makes a very chic and tasty mimosa when mixed with prosecco. And it’s delicious in soda water with lime, for a fizzy agua de jamaica. I’m also a big fan of their smoked tea vanilla syrup. Can’t decide on a flavor? They have a gift box with mini versions of all three and don’t miss their recipe archive for inspired drink ideas.

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Delicious jams with a savory twist from 3 Little Figs. These versatile jams are great with biscuits and the like, but are also fantastic on a cheese plate or grilled cheese. The citrus and smoked salt is my absolute favorite.

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This Grayling necklace is clearly for someone very special. Like all of Grayling’s pieces, it’s handmade at their NE Portland shop. Not only is it gorgeous, it cleverly converts from a short to a long necklace.

Happy shopping!

Pre-shopping breakfast

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Lately,  I’ve been craving some balance in this busy, decadent season. So instead of going out for brunch, or making an omelette and/or a mimosa at home, I found myself reaching for some humbler ingredients.

I cooked rolled oats in water with a little bit of butter and sea salt and then stirred in some fresh, whole milk and a little maple syrup once they were soft and thick. I topped my oatmeal with toasted almonds and local hazelnuts, really amazing dried cranberries from Vincent Family Cranberries, and cinnamon-rich baking spice. And then gave it an extra drizzle of milk and maple syrup.

Paired with an earl grey tea latte and a clementine, I found that winter bliss I was looking for. Maybe have a bowl before you head out for your last-minute shopping, ice skating, cookie swapping, Elf marathon watching day? Enjoy!

You can take it with you

Scenes from NYC

I was in New York this past week, staying in the East Village with one of my dearest friends and visiting my other favorite New Yorkers. Now that I live in Oregon, I don’t make it to New York all that often. But I keep a running list of new ideas and old favorites for when I do. And my favorite way to explore NY is on foot, so I don’t miss a thing.

Besides the photos and memories, it’s always nice to bring a little piece of New York back with me.

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November wishlist

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All things cozy yet refined feel very right now. Here are a few items that strike the perfect balance:

  • I can’t wait to get my hands on Flavor Flours— an exploration of non-wheat flours by baking genius Alice Medrich. This has “new favorite baking cookbook” potential written all of over it.
  • I want to wear these wide-ish leg, cropped, pleated and pinstriped wool pants everywhere and with everything this fall.
  • I cannot tell you how good this Smoked Tea Vanilla botanical syrup is. I’ve been putting it on vanilla ice cream, in my earl grey tea and chai lattes, whipped with heavy cream for desserts, in hard cider, ginger beer and whiskey. This would also be a win on a sweet potato or baked into desserts like pumpkin bread. It has a few simple ingredients that mingle together to give you a smoky-sweet and complex, yet subtle flavor. Handcrafted by two amazing women in Portland, but also available in Seattle, Denver, New York, and online. They have two other delicious flavors, plus a gift set of all three if you can’t decide (great present!).
  • The folks at Kate Spade Saturday have nailed it with this gorgeous Colorblock A Satchel. I love the black/rosewood color combination. It’s rich and sophisticated, neutral enough to go with everything, but not at all boring. And it’s the perfect medium size.
  • These homey stoneware plates are both pretty and rustic. Their simple design is elevated by thoughtful details– the eye-catching design around the side, and the 1″ lip that helps make sure you’re dinner stays put while you’re cozying up on the couch. They’re made in Portland by Kati Von Lehman and available only on Provisions.

Happy November!

Cinnamon and spice scented zucchini bread

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This past winter, I was on a bit of a weekend muffin-making kick. This fall, I’m really feeling breakfast/snack breads. Up first… zucchini bread scented with fall spices. I wanted to make a simple and wholesome version that was gluten-free, moist, and of course, delicious. This fits the bill. And ohh… the smell.

Let me introduce you to a secret ingredient that makes this bread wonderfully fragrant and adds subtle background spice– Penzey’s Baking Spice. This is that special something, that makes people ask “What is in here?” as they gobble it up. It has notes of anise, allspice, mace and cardamom, along with two kinds of cinnamon. Of course, you can use all cinnamon and the bread will be delicious. But if you can get your hands on this, it is so worth it.

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You’re going to want to cook this now

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Photo courtesy of Food & Wine

At my house, we love chimichurri and make it often to dress up grilled skirt or flatiron steak. In fact, I sometimes joke that my herb garden is a “chimichurri garden,” because I grow all the herbs needed to make a good, standard chimichurri at a moment’s notice.

I recently came across a recipe for roasted tomato chimichurri with skirt steak and potatoes and bookmarked it immediately. I made it last night with just a couple of adaptations. I used red wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar, added in a few sprigs of fresh oregano from the herb garden, and used aleppo pepper, because I love it and was out of plain crushed red pepper. It also took closer to 30 minutes for my tomatoes to get a bit browned.

This sauce is beyond good– really balanced deep flavors. You get the herby freshness from the parsley, spice from the crushed red pepper, tang from the vinegar, and of course the caramelized sweetness and umami-richness of the roasted tomatoes. It was perfect paired with the steak and potatoes.

But as I was tasting a few spoonfuls for seasoning, I realized this chimichurri would be delicious on all kinds of things– drizzled over eggs, slathered on toast, and as a pasta sauce, just to name a few.