Silver Creek

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Silver Creek:
The second to last stop on our trip was Silver Creek. Located on a nature preserve near Picabo, ID, Silver Creek is a fly fisherman’s mecca. Out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a small service station/cafe nearby, fishing the creek requires “roughing it,” a little. Camping in a glorified soccer field with no water, enduring blazing temperatures during the day, only to drown in thunderstorms at night. Unsurprisingly, I was the only female in sight.

Wide streams with sandy bottoms, and water so clear you can see the scales on the fish as you cast. Which means, of course, that your presentation must be perfect, and in the kind of weather we had, the fish are largely disinterested in eating anyway. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch one of the hatches at the right moment, and see a trout swallow your fly, but in three day’s time that happened just a few times, making it ever so sweet.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching my friend Richard cast a fly rod. I’ve seen him throw some ugly casts, hook himself, snare the wildlife and swear under his breath as he untangles yet another wind knot. I’ve seen some pretty moments, and some not so pretty ones. But never have I seen someone so in their element, so at home, as he is in Silver Creek. He’s fished there for 20 years. He knows every bend in the waterway, every trail that leads to a favorite hole, the way the fish travel through the channel. He knows what they eat, and when. He knows where to stand, when to cast and how to stalk them in their hiding places. Watching him fish, which we did a lot of because the fishing was so slow, was a revelation. And I’m so thankful we got to experience his fishing mecca with him.

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Though I love to fish, some of my favorite moments of the trip were sitting around the picnic table, guzzling gatorade and organizing our fly collections. Listening to Richard drill my husband with questions about farming. Hearing Taylor snort-laugh at Richard’s hilarious misadventures. Waiting out the afternoon heat in the gas station/cafe/flyshop, telling tall tales with the old codgers. Finally eating lunch after fishing for 8 hours straight the first day. Tromping back to camp at night, sweaty and soaked, determined to catch those damn trout the next morning.

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And there was nothing, NOTHING, like golden hour on the creek. Listening to the melodies of the crickets as the light streamed across the desert, walking the narrow trail through the tall grass, everything around you gilded and transformed. Leaving as quickly as it came, as that hour is always so fleeting, and then the thick, quiet dusk settling in and giving the air a slight chill.

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I think Richard’s words capture it best,

“Fellow fly fisherman…..my September trips to fish Silver Creek are, for me, as close to a pilgrimage as I can imagine. I love the Wood River Valley, the people of Picabo, the fisherman I meet on the “crick”, the trout that live there and all the great birds and wild life that make this place home. I think I began fishing here in the very early 1990’s….some 24 years ago or so….it is always a tough stream but I go for the challenge and the reward year after year.”

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Thank you for sharing your special place, Richard. We can’t wait for our next trip to Silver Creek.

Boise:
Our very last stop was the perfect reintroduction to civilization we needed before making the journey home. After a quick stop at the Sierra Trading Post outlet, aka outdoorsman HEAVEN, we made our way to my cousins’ house for a much needed shower before dinner. Finally clean after an embarrassingly long shower-less stretch, we drove downtown for a fantastic dinner, sitting outside and taking in the warm summer evening.

Once again, sitting with people who’ve known me since I was born made my heart feel full. Cracking jokes, sharing memories and readying myself for reentry to the “real,” world. With a final farewell breakfast, we bid my family members and the last glimmer of our vacation, adieu, and set off for home. Hearts full, car messy and memories made.

For Part I of our trip, go here! For Part II, here! Part III! See the whole collection of photos from our Montana trip, here.

Crostini Station

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As you know, we recently moved into a charming 1920’s farmhouse on a large plot of land just outside Silverton, Oregon. And after putting in a lot of time and effort fixing the thing up, we were ready to party. So, last weekend we invited friends and family to come and warm up our new house, meet our puppy and of course, eat! Inspired by LA-based caterer Heirloom LA, I decided to put together a large crostini station, so guests could assemble their own appetizers. It turned out so lovely, I just had to share!

I built the station by pulling together a selection of local cheeses (aged cheddar + goat + bleu), Olympic Provisions salamis and prosciutto. I made some herb-roasted almonds, added dried fruit and opened a bunch of jars of pickles I’d made earlier in the year. I whipped up a batch of my favorite carrot hummus, smoked a fillet of Oregon steelhead on our Traeger and assembled the tasty Whole Foods Kale Salad for folks to eat on the side. Toasting a bunch of sliced up baguette provided us with the crostinis, and after opening a couple bottles of wine, we were good to go.

A perfect hands-on activity for guests who may not know each other, or an excuse to hang around the table for those who do, Bird is the Word will be offering a la carte crostini stations this year. For more information, or to order a crostini station for your event, get in touch!

It was so wonderful to have so many people we love gathered in our home, helping us celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Thanks for coming everyone! We love you all.

OR Wine Press Article

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Remember that mysterious LOVE dinner I posted a few weeks ago? Well, as of yesterday, the mystery is no more! Bird is the Word, along with Maija Rebecca Hand Drawn and Forest and Field, is featured on the cover of this month’s Oregon Wine PressOur five-course, chocolate inspired menu is printed, along with recipes and some beautiful shots from our table inside the incredible caves at Archery Summit. Not to mention, an incredibly flattering article written by my friend, Valerie.

A friend posted a shot of the cover yesterday- featuring my beautiful partner-in-crime, Andrea- and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the whole thing. Taylor brought a stack home with him at the end of the day, and it was such a thrill to open it up and see all of our hard work looking so beautiful in print.

Huge thank you’s are due to all of the beautiful ladies who worked so hard on the dinner, to Valerie for wanting to write about us in the first place, to Archery Summit for being willing to host our  little shindig and to Oregon Wine Press for believing in our idea.

Read the article below.

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As the winter mist drapes its chilly coat outdoors, you head inside to remove your own, grabbing a blanket, a glass of wine and something to nibble- maybe cheese or, better yet, chocolate. You sit and watch the drizzly weather from a cozy chair; you notice a red-headed “bird” gathering ingredients for a winter meal. In a swift moment, she is tapping on the window with her eye on the chocolate. 

Let her in and invite your friends; you are in for a memorable meal. 

Enter Kali Martin, a rising chef whose culinary talent is memorable. On Dec. 17, at a dinner simply called LOVE, Martin, owner of the catering company Bird is the Word, prepared a five-course meal inspired by chocolate and paired with Archery Summit wine. The dinner took place in one of the most romantic atmospheres, Archery Summit’s barrel caves, and hosted eight new-found friends with candlelight and soft music playing from vintage vinyls on a record player.

The atmosphere was magical, but it played second fiddle to the food, the chocolate. 

“I was inspired to take an ingredient that’s typically associated with Valentine’s Day and see how I could pair it with Archery Summit’s deep, rich wines and apply it in different ways, from sweet to savory,” Martin said. “Chocolate was the choice, both an obvious and welcome challenge.”

When Kali (Kaleigha) was growing up in Spokane, Washington, her father affectionately called her “Bird.” Today, her wavy auburn hair remains her signature look beyond her Easy-Bake childhood days. In 2004, she left home for Oregon, where, after earning her bachelors of arts in Newberg, she landed in Portland to fulfill her Oregon Culinary Institute certification- at the top of her class- in 2011. Her resume grew with experience at Paley’s Place followed by Community Plate in McMinnville, the heart of the northern Willamette Valley. Born from thriving relationships in wine country and Martin’s vision for creating fine culinary experiences for intimate groups, Bird is the Word officially opened in spring 2013. 

A chocolate-inspired dinner would seem a challenge for most chefs, but with her creativity and talent, Martin made the dinner look effortless. A smart business woman, she surrounds herself with equally talented friends like artist Maija Rebecca, who illustrated the evening’s whimsical menus, Andrea Carpenter, the dinner’s experienced server, and Bailey Patrice, the owner of Forest & Field, who adorned the table with a freshly foraged centerpiece- the flowers were recycled after being rescued from a florist’s discards.

Working alongside and showcasing other professionals is something Martin is passionate about. On her website, wsw.birdisthewordpdx.com, she features an ongoing column called “A Day in the Life,” in which Martin interviews those who inspire her or whom she partners with at events. She also shares recipes and insights into a world of cooking and entertaining that even Julia Child might have praised. 

Julia would have delighted in Martin’s imaginative feast. 

The chocolate was subtle yet sensational in each dish and paired perfectly with citrus in most of the courses. The evening started with an almost exotic tangerine, chocolate and vanilla salad followed by a surprisingly savory chocolate hazelnut soup with orange oil. The third course, chocolate chestnut and hazelnut gnocchi with a browned butter sauce, melted in the mouth. Next was the main course, unforgettably tender cocoa-rubbed short ribs with winter vegetables; and, finally, dessert: citrus and chocolate tartlets. 

Glasses were raised repeatedly throughout the evening with rose, Pinot Gris and Archery Summit’s signature varietal, Pinot Noir. Guests swirled, sniffed and sipped the lush wines expertly poured by Karina Gordon, the winery’s tasting room manager. She eloquently spoke about each wine and a bit about Archery Summit, too.

Founded in 1993 by Gary Andrus, Archery Summit sources its fruit from the Dundee Hills winery’s 120 acres across six estate vineyards: Archer’s Edge, Archery Summit Estate, Red Hills, Arcus, Renegade Ridge and Looney. Wines are made by winemaker/general manager Chris Mazepink and his assistants, Eleni Papadakis and Corey Beyer. 

The winery is the only one in the state to boast natural caves. Modeled after those found in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, Archery Summit’s subterranean showpiece is carved from the natural volcanic rock beneath the estate. The caves naturally maintain 55-59 degrees throughout the year, with a humidity level below 75 percent, optimal conditions for storing wines maturing in barrel. 

Perfect for a dreamy dinner as well, especially one titled LOVE, covered in chocolate and made by a “bird.”

Story by Valerie Estelle Rogers.

Montana: Part III

Can you tell I’m still playing catch up with 2014? Not having internet for our first month on the farm really put a damper on my year-end recap abilities. I swear I’ll get to the new year soon enough, but for now, let’s go back to Montana!

I wondered if it was far too late to go back and finish this post series, but as I sat on our couch the other day looking through the album I had made, I realized I wasn’t ready to be done daydreaming about that trip and maybe you aren’t either. Last we checked in, we had gone from sunburns to frostbite and were headed towards the thriving metropolis of Boulder.

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Boulder:
There’s nothing outwardly special about Boulder, Montana. Nestled in a grassy valley, between rocky, rolling hills, it’s greatest claim to fame is the historic county courthouse. Which somehow, despite my Aunt working there for the last couple dozen years, I’d never toured before our trip. Something about standing in these dark little record rooms with hundreds of old, gigantic, leather bound books felt oddly sacred. Dusty old volumes dictating who owned which mining claim, establishing property lines and chronicling the lives of some of Montana’s earliest settlers. Many who bore some relation or association to me. I loved it.

Besides dreaming about the Old West in a dusty record room, we also spent some time at my Grandma’s house. Anytime I think of Montana, I’m instantly transported to the tiny, aquamarine bungalow that sits next to a windy “crick,” just on the edge of town. Every inch of that place is filled with nostalgia. It not only houses the sweetest red headed lady this side of the Mississippi, it’s an encyclopedia of our family history. When I close my eyes, I can smell the green beans and fried chicken, and feel the squishy vinyl of the old chairs she used to have in the dining room. I can hear the dull roar of our large family, somehow shoved in a dining room quite unsuitable for so many people. I can perfectly recall my view from the squatty little kids’ table that she squeezed in next to the screen door, from which I’d dream longingly of the day I’d be allowed to sit with the adults.

I can taste the cherry pies she used to bake daily for my grandfather, the rock hard cookies she’d always pull from the freezer just as we walked in door. My mouth waters thinking of the sweet glaze that would end up all over my fingers as I dove into yet another one of her homemade donuts. Or the waxy taste of the paper that I licked until every crumb of her maple bars was consumed.

I remember the hole in my heart our first visit after my Papa passed away. How the house that had always meant warmth to me, suddenly felt cold. And how over the years, thanks to the strength and determination of my grandmother, the warmth has returned. And yet, despite new memories made, how I still walk into the living room expecting him to be there, sitting in his chair, calling out my name in his trademark sing-song southern drawl.

While we were there, we visited my Papa’s grave in the cemetery across town. The stone with a handsome fly-fisherman engraved on it, which sits on the top of the hill, constantly beaten by the biting Montana wind. Standing there with my husband of six years, I found myself realizing how much of my life my grandpa has missed and how much he would have loved harassing me about great-grandbabies. How all I wanted in that moment, was to hop into the dusty seat of his Chevy and cruise to the town DQ for a dipped cone. And at the same time, realizing what a presence he had to make me feel those things without having seen his face in over a decade. It did my heart good to listen to my husband pepper my grandma with questions about him one night after dinner. She pulled out old cards and love letters, blushing like a school girl, and told tales of their most epic battles and bittersweet moments. We were both riveted, talking late into the night without even realizing it.

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We sealed our tribute to my Papa by heading down to throw our lines in some of his favorite fishing holes on the Boulder River, which, despite frozen fingers and a momentary panic when Taylor wandered out of sight, was a really sweet moment.

We had a family dinner with everyone who lives nearby on our last night, and it was so fun to be the one to cook dinner after so many years of being spoiled on my Grandma’s homemade treats. I feel such pride and find such meaning in spending time with people who’ve known me since I was born, who love me just because I exist and who always make time to invite me into their lives when I come to Montana. Though Boulder wasn’t our most exciting stop, it was such a special time and such a precious memory.

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Missouri River:
We took off bright and early Saturday morning, leaving the Boulder Valley to meet my cousin for a day on the river. This was the day I’d been looking forward to the most, as it meant an entire day in a drift boat casting my fly. As we pulled into the boat launch, we quickly became surrounded by a horde of guides and seasoned fishermen. Many a dog, boy and fly rod piled into boat after boat, as we zipped and packed our way to the river. And I noticed quickly, there was not another female in sight.

My cousin John is the type of Montana outdoorsman people write books about. Mentioning casually that he’d thought about being a guide several times, he gave us such an incredible experience on the river. Still being novices, we need all the help we can get and he knew just what to do with rookies. I was greedy for big trout and I’d heard this was the river where I’d finally catch one. Of course, this meant my stinking husband totally out fished me. A huge rainbow, a menacing brown trout and quite a few other catches, while I only managed to land one measly rainbow and hook myself in the cheek. But I was so proud of him, I didn’t really mind. Really. The sun was shining, there were fish in the river and I made friends with my cousin’s spirited lab, Buxton, so it was still a pretty good day. I’ve been plotting my return ever since.

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Clancy/Lumpgulch:
After our epic day of fishing one of Montana’s most famous rivers, we headed back towards Boulder, stopping just short to head out to Lumpgulch, where my Mom was raised. My mom’s oldest brother and his wife bought property next to the original house and a few years ago, after decades of saving, built their dream house. And boy is it dreamy, indeed.

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Though we hadn’t announced it yet, we knew of our impending move to the country, and the idyllic setting of their home made me so excited about our rural farm house. It was so fun to see all of their hard work and dreams and plans come to life, and so wonderful to spend a few days getting to know each other better. One of the best parts of our trip as a whole was getting to see pieces of both of my parents in their siblings and finding similarities in all of our interests and tastes. Something about connecting with who and where you came from is so meaningful. We talked for hours of my grandpa’s adventures (and misadventures), memories of my Mom in her younger years, and our mutual admiration for labrador puppies. We waxed poetic about the L.L. Bean catalog and my Aunt shared a collection of fishing stories from my great grandfather that I’d never read before. Talk about a treasure!

Uncle Jeff and Aunt Julie were gracious enough to host the whole Chaffee crew on Sunday, and Aunt Julie and I got to spend a few hours in her gorgeous kitchen, prepping together, which is always one of my favorite ways to spend time with people. After our meal, a group of us took a hike up the hill, passing the trees and caves and rocks that my Mom played amongst as a little girl, and though I never knew her then, it wasn’t too hard to picture her there squealing with delight. My aunts and uncles narrated the hike with tales of their childhood- silly squabbles and taunting nicknames- weaving in all the danger, intrigue and humor my own mother has always told of. Though she wasn’t there, I felt like I got to see a side of her I’d never seen before. To understand her just a little bit better and to see all of the beautiful reasons why she is the way she is.

We ended our time there gathered around a map of Yellowstone, the park where my Grandfather served as a ranger for many years. It seemed like the most fitting end to our time together. Listening in, absorbing every ounce of advice on where to go and what to see, planning our departure for our last stop in Montana. Thank you for hosting us Uncle Jeff & Aunt Julie! We can’t wait to come back.

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Yellowstone:
Monday morning we packed up our car, once again, and took off for Yellowstone National Park. We knew the trip to and through the park would take most of the day and couldn’t wait to get started. We planned to stop quickly in Bozeman, drive by my Grandpa’s childhood home in Livingston and stop at as many fly shops as we could, along the way. As we got closer and closer, I felt the anticipation of seeing something you’ve heard about your whole life. We went in through Gardiner, and I’m so glad we did, as the first stop at Mammoth Hot Springs seemed like the perfect welcome to the park. I couldn’t help but picture my Grandpa in his glory days, strutting around in his ranger uniform, hat cocked slightly to the side, just as it always was.

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Planning to camp just outside the park at the West Yellowstone KOA, we knew we had to get a move on, so we spent most of our first day in the park driving. Winding up and around the mountains that surround the caldera and passing signs bearing the names of hundreds of landmarks, and stopping at a few of the “big” ones. It was a bit surreal. And a little overwhelming. Glacier was massive, and impressive, and there was so much to see, but at least there was really only one road in and out. Yellowstone felt like it’s own mini state, with half a dozen small cities to see and vast wilderness to explore.

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When we finally made it to West Yellowstone, we stopped at every fly shop in town. Priorities. We wanted to get the scoop on where to fish, buy our fishing licenses and get a feel for what conditions were like in the park. At that point, all I wanted was a campfire, so after an abysmal dinner at a local dive bar, we headed back for a short-lived fire and an embarrassingly early bed time.

The next morning, we packed up our little camp, raided the local bakery and made for the park. Though we’d gotten an early start, our arrival at Old Faithful was a few minutes off and we ended up deciding the hour long wait was worth it to see such a famous landmark. We perused the gift shops and made a quick trip through the museum before seeing the famed geyser erupt, and while it was fascinating, I have to say, a little anticlimactic.

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After the eruption, we raced back to the car and sped towards the Firehole River where we’d planned to spend the morning fishing, until Old Faithful decided to ruin our time frame. Feeling the pressure of the ticking clock, after an hour or so, we packed up and moved towards the park exit to quickly cast our lines in the Madison. It felt so unfair spending hours on rivers that require weeks to learn, but I decided I was grateful for the chance to whet my appetite and vowed to return.

Bidding farewell to the famous park, we drove out of West Yellowstone and headed towards Silver Creek, Idaho, the last stop on our crazy adventure. To be continued…

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For Part I of our trip, go here! For Part II, here! See the whole collection of photos from our Montana trip, here.

Cash-ing In: 3 Months

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I don’t know how, or when it happened, but our baby has suddenly lost some of his little puppy look. He’s lost his fluffy fur coat that always looked a little too big for him. His snout is looking awfully regal and his puppy fat is melting away. There are still moments when he looks small, but every day it seems his legs get a little bit longer and he runs a little bit faster. This is not good news for me. Though perhaps for my backside.

Things Cash loves: His Harry Potter snuggie, Bully Sticks, belly scratches, chasing his tail, learning how to moonwalk, taking his aggressions out on cardboard boxes, staring down birds and exploring the grass field out back. He’s also warmed up to his weekly baths and splashed around like a maniac the other night. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

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Things Cash DOES NOT love: Waiting for dinner, feeling out of the loop, hugs as a calming method, being prevented from eating out of the garbage can and coming inside before he’s good and ready. Also, getting shots at the vet. We had quite a long night after he got his 12 week booster shot, cleaning out his crate several times before the sun came up.

We added coming when called, moonwalking and roll over to his bag of tricks this month, and are working on going the bathroom on command, coming inside promptly and staying in his spot in the living room. Any other commands we should master?

Morning walks are still kind of an exercise in patience, but he’s a curious dude, you know? There’s a lot of pavement to be licked. And garbage trucks to be sniffed. And from everything I’ve read, he’ll be wanting to walk further than me before I know it.

Happy 3 months of life Cash! We love you Bud!

Cash-ing In: 2 Months.

A Night to Remember

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When people used to ask me what I would do once I finished culinary school, I’d mention catering, and often they’d groan, roll their eyes and come back with some tidbit about what a nightmare weddings are. How expectations run high, brides are impossible to please and inevitably you end up wrangling rowdy family members who’ve imbibed a little too much. Needless to say, I felt a little nervous booking my first wedding early last year.

But wouldn’t you know, the three weddings I catered last summer were some of my favorite events of the year. I stumbled upon the link to these photos while going through my old emails and couldn’t resist sharing them here.

For whatever reason, I won the wedding lottery last year and booked three of the most fun, meaningful nuptials I’ve ever witnessed. Jane and Mike’s outdoor picnic, the Working Hands Farm soiree, and finally, this 20 person dinner at Vista Hills Vineyard. Rob and Meg are from the east coast, and had been together nearly 10 years when they decided to tie the knot. Small and intimate was the name of the game. To which I said, pinch me.

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It was my first event back after spending a month stricken with mono, and as I usually feel when I’ve been away too long, I was NERVOUS. My first wedding, small party, high expectations. At least from me. Meg had to have been the most relaxed bride of all time. We’d nailed down details weeks ahead and she was ready to get to it! My mom came down to help me cook and we set to work as soon as we arrived that afternoon. We had our own little station in the back corner with a grill and the weather was just perfection. As Andrea set the table, and Katie, of Pollination Flowers, arranged her gorgeous blooms, I knew it was going to be a special night.

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The food was a mix of fresh, local cuisine with a little bit of east coast flavor thrown in. We had appetizers for each side of the family- fresh strawberry salsa for the west coasters and pigs in a blanket for the New Jerseyans. Everything was cooked to order on a giant BBQ that I was just sure was going to burn my eyebrows off, but the steak and steelhead were divine and my facial hair remained in tact.

Menu
Grilled Flatbread with Strawberry Salsa
Pigs in a Blanket with Stone Ground Mustard
Summer Crudités

Strawberry Caprese Salad with Aged Balsamic
Grilled Marinate Flank Steak
Grilled Steelhead with Salsa Verde
Cherry Tomato Grain Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Jam Filling
Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

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Another highlight of the night was working with so many talented people. Andrea was present, as usual, but having a florist on site was a life saver. Katie did everything from help set the table to call in a last minute champagne flute delivery. Not to mention her centerpieces and the custom chuppah, which were absolutely stunning and so perfect for the site. All of these gorgeous photos were done by the talented Jay Eads, who despite being responsible for capturing the entire night, found time to shoot my food. I’m such a photographer groupie.

Vendors
Site: Vista Hills Vineyard
Rentals: The Party PlaceClassic Vintage Rentals
Catering: Bird is the Word
Flowers: Pollination Flowers
Photographer: Jay Eads

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As I look forward to 2015, I can’t help but hope for more weddings and dream of amazing nights like these. Friends and family, gathered around glowing tables, enjoying the fruits of my labor. Drinking wine, sharing good food and creating unforgettable memories.

Bird is the Word is currently booking weddings for 2015. If you are interested, please get in touch or visit the Events page for more information.

Love in December

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The last event of 2014 was a funny one. A love-themed Valentine’s dinner right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas season. Sound strange? Well, it was, a little. I’m not going to give away all my secrets, but I will say that the dinner was kind of the food equivalent of a styled wedding. Here’s a little peek…

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The dinner took place in the caves at Archery Summit. An experience I’ll not soon forget. It was a small, intimate affair, just the way I like it. I’m not a huge fan of the colors pink and red, not to mention the lovey-dovey holiday itself, so we tried to keep it simple as far as decor. And it wasn’t too terribly hard to make the dark caves, lit only by candles and twinkly lights, seem romantic.

My talented friend Bailey, of Forest and Field, put together the centerpiece with foraged greens and leftover blooms which she had rescued from the flower market. It was rustic and wild and pretty darn sexy, if you ask me. Another one of my super talented friends, Maija of Maija Rebecca Hand Drawn, not only created the beautiful “LOVE” menu and place cards, but also helped serve the courses. She added such a vibrancy to the evening, it was so fun to have her in the kitchen as well as showcased on the table. And as always, my impeccable friend Andrea conducted the evening’s service seamlessly, somehow managing to be both invisible and perfectly attend to everyone’s needs.

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It’s not every day that I get to write a five course menu to be paired with the likes of Archery Summit wines. I knew it had to be good. Go big or go home. And so, with Valentine’s Day in the back of my mind, all I could think was…chocolate. Five courses, all containing the cliche treat given so often in celebration of love. At first it sounded crazy, but when I suggested the idea, it was met with such enthusiasm I knew there was no going back. And I like a challenge, so I dove in head first. I’m super happy with how everything turned out. Rich food, robust wines and a super romantic evening all in all.

Menu
Chocolate & Tangerine with a Vanilla Vinaigrette and Roasted Almonds
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Soup with Orange Oil
Chocolate Chestnut Gnocchi with a Browned Butter Sauce
Cocoa-Rubbed Short Ribs with Winter Vegetables and an Espresso Braise
Chocolate Citrus Tartlets with Molasses Cream

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It was so wonderfully strange to sit in the kitchen at the end of the night, shoving our faces with Cocoa-Rubbed Short Ribs, and reflect back on a year’s worth of business. To think about the wide range of events I’ve been blessed to be a part of. To remember the incredible people I’ve gotten to work with. To think of the super special, meaningful days I’ve been present for. And finally, to think about the amount of food I’ve cooked! This event was a perfect book end to an amazing, and sometimes hectic year, and I can’t tell you how inspired I’m feeling heading into this next one. Let’s do this thing 2015!

Cash-ing In: 2 Months

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Well, I intended to post this a few weeks ago around Cash’s second month birthday, but here we are at 11 weeks and I’m playing catch up. Finding someone to provide Internet out here on the farm has been more challenging than we imagined. Anyway, thanks to our lack of the interwebs, our sweet little chocolate lab Cash has been enjoying even more of our undivided attention in his first few weeks living at Elsie’s Place.

It’s been a whirlwind since we brought our sweet boy home the same weekend we moved in. I spent most of the first day sitting in his corner with him on my lap, and the first few nights not doing much sleeping. But he’s really a good, smart dog and we can’t imagine life without him.

Over Christmas, he spent lots of time across the blueberry field at Nana and Papa’s house, harassing their dog Blue and getting lots of extra snuggles. He also went on his first road trip to Spokane, where he played in the snow and soaked up every minute of Grammy and Pop’s in-floor heating. It took him a while to get back into his routine at home, but now he’s (mostly) sleeping downstairs in his crate and enjoys long daily walks around the farm.

Things Cash loves: eating everything in sight, mama’s lap, empty plastic waterbottles, his Triceratops, watching Little House on the Prairie from his “spot” and turning into a total spaz monkey in the backyard.

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Things Cash DOES NOT love: riding in the car (yet), sleeping past 6:30 a.m., getting in trouble for nipping, or waiting for dinner.

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We work on tricks every day and so far he can sit, stay, shake paws, spin, lay down and jump. Can you tell we’re kind of obsessed with him?

Thanks for lighting up our lives sweet boy! We love you!

Pa Nang Curry with Chicken

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After ushering in the New Year with a loaded baked potato bar, some wild little girls and all our very best friends, we were ready to hibernate for a few days. Luckily, a long weekend and a giant batch of this curry enabled us to do so.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest last week, thinking it sounded like the perfect dish to eat for the first few days of the new year. Hearty, yet healthy. Rich and warm and full of good things. It’s also a nice departure from the usual rotation of 4-5 soups that I tend to become obsessed with this time of year, helping me avoid the dreaded question from my husband, “Soup? Again?”

I posted a snap of the curry cooking on Instagram, and a bunch of people asked for the recipe, so I decided I’d better share my bastardized version of Pri’s Pa Nang. I had to add in a few more veggies and swap out the tofu for chicken. We’re not much for tofu, here on the farm. But her recipe was a perfect base, flavor wise. Who needs takeout!?

We heaped our curry over a bed of short grain brown rice with a little butter and salt stirred in, and poured ourselves a couple glasses of cool, crisp Rose. No better way to cure those post-holiday blues!

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Pa Nang Curry with Chicken
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp. lime juice
  • ¼ cup roasted and salted cashews
  • 1 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 2 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 4 small yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch broccolini, separated
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 10 snap peas
  • few sprigs of cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a stockpot/dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add ginger and garlic and let cook until light brown. Add onion and mushrooms. Stir in curry paste.
  3. Add in diced chicken and cook until cooked through.
  4. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice and turn heat up to medium-high.
  5. Add remaining veggies and basil leaves and cook until potatoes and carrots are soft and palatable.
  6. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  7. Top with crushed cashews and garnish with cilantro.

 

Client Appreciation Dinners

Happy (belated) Christmas! All our celebrations are complete, and I finally have some time to get caught up around here! If you remember, we had an ongoing dinner series to finish up and a few other fun holiday events filling our pre-Christmas schedule. So let’s get to it! Our fall-to-winter dinner series for Michael (and Valerie) Rogers and Country Financial came to a close this month with two awesome meals in two pretty special locations.

The first, just before Thanksgiving, found us in the stunning home of Alan and Jill Methven. And their even more stunning kitchen. Though we were just a week before turkey day, I wanted to go in a whole different direction, feeling inspired by the gray, dreary days. We ended up with a menu based on historically British dishes, created with the purpose of combating winter weather and easing us into the holiday season with simple comfort food. The star was this Cottage Pie, which I will be relying upon to get me through the upcoming months of gloom.

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Menu
Apple & Parsnip Soup with Curried Pepitas
Winter Citrus Salad with Vanilla Rooibos Dressing
Cottage Pie with Grass Fed Beef and Smoked Cheddar
Cardamom Rice Pudding with Spiced Cranberries

The second, and final, dinner took place at Raptor Ridge, highlighting the work of winemaker Kevin Wiles. It was a beautiful night and the perfect ending to our dinner series.

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As I drove up the mountain, on the dark, windy highway, a thick fog set in, nestling the tasting room in a blanket of coziness. Outside was wet and cold, but inside we set a glowing table as we awaited our guests. I was really excited about the evening’s menu, feeling inspired by one of my French cookbooks and having spent the day prepping next to a tree covered in lights. I even slipped in a Christmas-y dessert to officially usher in the holiday season. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Tiramisu, please and thank you.

Andrea and I camped out in the cozy kitchen, where we added a sweet little Bird is the Word logo to the visiting chef’s wall, drank a bottle of wine Kevin had made as an experiment and plated each dish with care. The table was full of friends, new and old, and one by one they all found their way into the kitchen to say hello. It was such a warm, cozy evening, and the perfect end to our series.

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Menu
Dungeness Crab & Avocado Verrines
Chanterelle Mushroom Salad with Warm Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
Paparedelle with Smoked Salmon and a Fennel Cream Sauce
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Tiramisu Trifles

And I just want to take a quick second to say thank you to the Rogers for this dinner series. For providing me the chance to be completely creative with my menus, table design and wine pairings. For booking up my fall and winter with a consistent lineup of events and being just as excited about each and every one as I was. You guys are such a blessing to me and I’m so grateful for your friendship and support. Let’s do it again! :)