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31 December 2017

Tonight's Episode: 2017 wasn't THAT bad

As 2017 comes to a close, it is natural to look back at what was great about the year that was. While I haven't kept up with the blog like I once did, (and I promise to fix that in 2018) we did have quite a few adventures this year. Trips to Canada, England, Denmark, Sweden, Boston, and Charleston filled the calendar. Further explorations of our new home state of Washington has us even more in love with the Pacific Northwest. We are both optimistic for the future and what it holds for us. For followers of the blog, the future includes a recap of the best Loco Moco in Western Washington, a Seattle Pizza crawl, and an attempt to find the PERFECT Instant Pot recipe. But for now here are a few of our favorite things from 2017.

Best Dessert: Creme Brûlée Donut (Copenhagen Street Food)


I thought about just mentioning Copenhagen Street Food as the single best atmosphere of the year. Located just across the canal from the historic Nyhaven, Copenhagen Street Food is a collective of food carts that run the gamut from Brazilian to Thai and everything in between, with a large stage, flowing beer, and picturesque views. The highlight, though, is the creme brûlée donut. Bavarian cream sugared donut, rolled in more sugar, torched, and topped with vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce. This is the donut that dreams are made of.


Best Bagel: Salt Bagel with Bacon Scallion Spread (Davis Square Donuts)


On my recent trip to Boston to visit my best friend Summer, I fell in love, and I fell hard. I had the salt bagel at Davis Square donuts EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. The huge flakes of salt, perfectly crisp exterior, fluffy interior, and the cool creamy spread.....all this alone is worth the price of a flight to Boston.

Best Danish Souvenir: A little wooden wiener (Kay Bojesen)



Kay Bojesen was one of the fathers of Modern Danish Design, and his monkey is an absolute icon. It is the Dachshund that takes high marks from us, though. Whimsical, adorable, and elegant, this little hound is the perfect reminder of days roaming about Copenhagen.


Best Seattle Tourist Activity: Get Your Chihuly On (Rainier Glass Studio)



When you live in Seattle people like to visit. When people visit, you do tourist activities. When you do tourist activities, you get burnt out on the Space Needle RULL quick. Our new go-to is glass blowing at Rainier Glass Studio in Georgetown. A hands-on activity that lets your guests take home a souvenir they made that invokes the beauty of the Dale Chihuly Gallery.


Best Book: The Cooking Gene (Michael Twitty)


If you follow me on Twitter than you already know my unabashed love of Food Historian, old ways activist, and all around amazing human Michael Twitty (@KosherSoul). In his debut book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael takes us along the beautiful and painful path many of today's hottest culinary trends took from slave quarters to the James Beard House. This personal memoir is touchingly honest and leaves me recommitted to the idea that the pain and hurt and injustice of centuries can't be healed over a single meal, but the dinner table is a great place to start.

Best Museum with an Entire Wooden War Ship: Vasa Museum Stockholm 


On August 10, 1628, the shores of Stockholm were lined with citizens ready to cheer their newest and grandest warship as it set sail. The Vasa, sporting intricate design work and two decks of cannon slipped its moorage and grandly exited the harbor. Less than an hour later it sat on the ocean floor entombed for the next three hundred years. Raised intact and now in one of the most interesting museums on the planet, the Vasa is a testament to an age of emerging military technology, beauty, and utter hubris.

Best Street Food: Any Hot Dog Stand in Denmark

As far as I can tell, you are never more than a five minute walk from a hot dog stand in Denmark. Omnipresent throughout Copenhagen, these bastions of cheap eats provide not only a cost effective but extremely tasty meal almost any time of day. My suggestion is to go with the classic Ristet: a grilled dog with mustard, ketchup, hot dog sauce (a mayo/remoulade), grilled and fried onions, and pickles.


Best Museum Exhibit: The Danish Chair (Danish Design Museum


An entire hallway of chairs. Chairs from many ages. Chairs from many designers. Chairs that speak to ethics and philosophy. You won't understand why this exhibit is so powerful until you see it for yourself.

Best Place to Drink: Finn River Cider Garden (Finn River Cidery)


Think of what you love about a rural Beer Garden. A music stage, communal seating, amazing food, relaxed family atmosphere. Now instead of beer, substitute Cranberry Rosehip Cider or maybe Lavender Black Currant. Finn River, located just outside the quaint Victorian harbor of Port Townsend, has found a way to make the wonderful beer garden concept an upgrade.


Best Curry for Someone who Hates Curry: Chicken Korma (Himalayan Cafe)


This Renton, WA gem has made a world of difference in my life. Being a true Scot, I LOVE curry. Scottish cuisine is equal parts fried mystery meat and curry. Unfortunately not everyone loves, or even tolerates, Indian food, including The Girl. In comes Himalayan Cafe with its Nepalese takes on Indian classics. There is something about the spice melange that is warming and comforting and accessible that just doesn't seem to be the case for traditional Indian. So skip the meatballs at IKEA and head across the street for the Korma. The Girl is finally eating curry!


Those were just a few of our favorite things of 2017. Every year, no matter how exhausting or draining, is full of little moments of wonder and beauty. These are the moments that matter, the ones you should never let go. I know 2018 will be full of many such moments that I hope to share with you. If you have a moment, a meal, a activity that brought you a moment of pure joy in 2017, please share in the comments. I love you all and wish you a Happy New Year!

18 December 2017

Recipe: Instant Thai Chicken Bowl



So I finally bowed to the pressure and bought an Instant Pot.  Most of you are already familiar with the pressure cooker slash slow cooker slash yogurt maker slash rice cooker slash lead guitarist on November Rain slash sauté pan so I won't bore you with the background. I will say through, the first few weeks I have been very impressed by the pressure cooker, but underwhelmed by both the sauté and slow cooker settings. The sauté has led to some burning once the pressure cooker has engaged. I have only used the slow cooker setting once, so I'm still reserving judgment.

My first Instant Pot recipe is frankly an addiction now, and with maybe five minutes of prep time, it is now a go-to weekday dish.


Instant Pot Thai Chicken Bowl

Ingredients

- 2 pounds Chicken Thighs
- 1 cup long-grain white rice (uncooked)
- 3 Tablespoons lite soy sauce
- 1/2 cup nam chim kai (Thai sweet chili sauce) store bought or recipe below
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 1teaspoon oyster sauce
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 zucchini, shredded
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Sriracha to taste


Instructions

*The following instructions are for a 7-in-1 Instant Pot. Some controls vary by device.

1) Select the Sauté setting on your device, allow it to heat 2-3 minutes, then add sesame oil. Allow oil to heat 3 minutes.

2) Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides, then add to Instant Pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, browning lightly. Remove to a large glass bowl. Press cancel on the Instant Pot.

3) Mix the Thai sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, lime juice, and Sambal Oelek together and pour over chicken thighs, coating well.

4) Select the Sauté setting. Add two tablespoons of the chicken stock to pot to help scrape any remaining browned chicken. Press cancel.

5) Add rice and peas, stir. Top with chicken, sauce, and remaining stock, and secure lid with pressure valve set to Sealing.

6) Select Pressure Cook, High Pressure, 10 minutes. When finished, allow for natural release.

7) Using tongs and a fork, shred the chicken and mix with the rice.

8) Serve with zucchini, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, and Sriracha.



For the Thai Sweet Chili sauce

- 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons cooking sherry
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried crushed chili (1 tbsp. makes spicy-hot sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 to 4 tbsp. cool water

1) Place all ingredients - except the cornstarch-water mixture - in a sauce pan or pot. Bring to a rolling boil.

2) Reduce heat to medium and let boil for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half. (Note that the vinegar will be quite pungent as it burns off--rice vinegar isn't as strong as regular white vinegar.)

3) Reduce heat to low and add the cornstarch-water mixture. Stir to incorporate and continue stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove from heat and taste-test. You should taste sweet first, followed by sour, then spicy and salty notes. If the sauce isn't sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If not spicy enough, add more chili.

5) Pour sauce into a small bowl or jar and serve.

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