Monday, August 25, 2014

Mixed Plate: Farewell to My Fuzzy Taste-Tester

We said farewell to our darling Indy on August 19, 2014. It was in the early evening, we had her vet come over to our house, and she was in our arms, in her own bed, when she passed on. It was nearly a year of fighting a hard battle with cancer, one we always knew she wouldn't win, but we weren't fighting for a cure, we were fighting for good days, good food, and good times. We are blessed to have had all those things and more.

Indy has been with me from the start of this blog. She has been my partner in crime when I'm making something in the kitchen, and during these last few months, she's been enjoying whatever food she wants. I'm taking a couple of weeks away from blogging, just to readjust to the New Normal of life without my fuzzy taste tester.

I'll never be able to eulogize her perfectly, but I always return to my favorite passages from Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. The words always come to me when a loved one has passed on, and these words linger in my mind now. They're especially meaningful because on the bad days, when Indy wasn't feeling well, I'd be sitting with her on the bed so she wasn't alone. Like people, she didn't like uncomfortable silences either, she liked hearing someone's voice, which helped get her to sleep soundly, feeling safe someone was there. But I worried that all I would do was talk about how sad or scared I was, so I would read to her. I chose books with beautiful words and rich passages --  Brothers Karamazov by Doystoyevsky, and of course Ondaatje, who is glorious with prose.

This passage is the title character, Almasy (nope, not, in fact, English), contemplating the loss of friends and lovers. He thinks of his dear friend Madox, who commits suicide in a church from despair at seeing nations ravaged by the Second World War. The line, "It is important to die in holy places," is so simple but elegant. This is juxtaposed over the dying moments of his lover, Katherine, as he holds her body, as her life fades away after a plane crash.

And all the names of the tribes, the nomads of faith who walked in the monotone of the desert and saw brightness and faith and colour. The way a stone or found metal box or bone can become loved and turn eternal in prayer. Such glory of this country she enters now and becomes part of. We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps. 

I carried Katherine Clifton into the desert, where there is the communal book of moonlight. We were among the rumour of wells. In the palace of winds.  

- Chapter IX, The Cave of Swimmers in The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Monday, August 18, 2014

Food Trek: A (Wine) Barrel of Fun at the Auction of Washington Wines Picnic

I'd like to say it's no picnic being a food blogger, but that's a total lie -- it's totally a picnic. With incredible food and wine. I attended my first (but not last) Picnic and Barrel Auction, the kickoff event for the 3-day Annual Auction of Washington Wines. It's a big meet-and-greet with local winemakers, sips and bites of all kinds, and it's a fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital and the viticulture and enology research departments at Washington State University.

Cheers to Washington Wines! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, August 11, 2014

UnRecipe: Challa-back Girl

Hello, my name is Wasabi and I'm a Stress Baker. It's certainly not an unfamiliar means to combat anxiety, and to be honest, it's a great motivator to try new, overly complex things. In this case, I learned to make the traditional Jewish bread, challah. To which we all love to shout, "Challllllahhhhh!" like we're in a Missy Elliot video. That being said, I've most certainly become a Challah-back Girl, baking up a storm when times get wiggy.

Challah, you knotty little mix of a bread, you - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Monday, August 4, 2014

UnRecipe: Live Every Day Like it's Aloha Friday

I think many share this sentiment, which is: I'm not in Hawaii, but I sure wish I was. Maybe not right now, in the heat of summer where it's hot, humid, no one has air conditioning, and the airfare prices are as much as dragon eggs on the Westeros black market... but you know, all the other times when you're Not in Hawaii. Which leads me to the insatiable craving I get for the most unholy of unholy Local Kine Grindz, the infamous Locomoco. Beef burger patty, rice, gravy and a fried egg. It's so simple and cbeap enough to where it's about as much to go out to have it as it is to make it at home. I'm pretty sure McDonalds makes a version for the Islands. But we don't have such luxuries on the Mainland. We must fashion our own Moco of Loco!

Locomoco, Cascadia-style - yep, with kale - Photo by Wasabi Prime