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Everything posted by MaryMc

  1. I thought of another recommendation... Since you seem to be open to dives with plain good food and lots of "local color," another one of those is Jack's Grill in Redding. I can't honestly say that it (or Redding in general) is worth a detour, but if you're going south from Crater Lake on I-5 you'll be passing through right there. Jack's hasn't changed very much since it opened in 1938. Back then, California Street was lined with rowdy joints that served the workers building Shasta Dam or working for the railroad or the mines or the lumber mills. Allegedly, there was a bordello upstairs over the restaurant back then. It's gone, but Jack's survives, pretty much intact (although with a more civilized, yuppie crowd these days). The menu hasn't gotten any more fancy--it's still steaks, fried prawns, and fried chicken, served with nondescript veggies and an iceberg lettuce salad. But oh, those steaks...might be the best filet I've ever had! If you do land in Redding for a night, the other place I can highly recommend is the Turtle Bay Museum and the Sundial Bridge. The museum covers local history and natural history--very nicely done (I learned more about the local Indian tribes in one visit there than I did in 13 years in Shasta County schools). But even if you don't have time to get to there while the museum is open, the bridge is well worth a visit by itself. The consensus of my friends who've moved away seems to be "I can't believe Redding ever built something so cool!!" It's a footbridge over the Sacramento River, designed by Santiago Calatrava. It's beautiful in the daytime, but at night, it's lit from inside the glass bridge deck--just spectacular.
  2. Arcata, Trinidad and Eureka are all next to each other. Personally, I'd be inclined to stay in Arcata, do a romantic dinner at Larrupin and the next morning have breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse. I like the lumberjack feel of breakfast there. Even in August that part of the coast can get cool enough at night to sit by the fire at Larrupin. I grew up just across the mountains in Redding, and to borrow from Mark Twain, some of the coldest winters I spent were summers on the Humboldt County coast! When it was 110 in Redding, it could be 55 degrees at Patrick's Point, where we used to go camping. Do pack a sweater (or three!) It's been a few years, but on one of my last trips through there, we stayed at a lovely little place in Trinidad--the Bishop Pine Lodge.. That would put you nice and close to Larrupin for dinner!
  3. All good advice here, except...the nice little town in Humboldt county is Arcata. Arcadia is in southern California, east of Pasadena, and if you try to stay there, you will be getting quite a bit off your planned route! When you're driving up Highway 101, just north of Garberville you will see an exit for the Avenue of the Giants. DO NOT make the mistake of trying to save time and skipping it! This is the old two-lane highway, and it runs parallel to 101 for 31 miles. It's just a short distance away from the freeway...but also worlds away. It runs through stands of old-growth redwoods--some of the most unearthly, stunningly beautiful sights on the planet. The same stretch of 101 freeway is not the same--not even close. You will not be sorry you took the time to drive it. Have fun--you're doing one of my favorite road trips!
  4. It's been a few years since I've been to Samoa Cookhouse...they didn't take reservations then, and no indications on the website that they do now. I remember a wait at peak times, but it was worth it (and they do give you stuff to look at while you wait, with all the old photos and logging memorabilia).
  5. It's not high-end, for sure, and nothing exotic or gourmet--but the Samoa Cookhouse is a slice of northern California history, and a great place for good old-fashioned American comfort food. It's an old lumber mill cookhouse, located not far off Highway 101 near Eureka. They do plain, good food, and a ton of it, served family-style at communal tables in a room filled with historic loggers' tools and relics. Breakfast is standard eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and the like; lunches and dinners, at least from what I remember, included fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, salad, veggies, fresh bread, and house-made pie--the kind of food you'd need before you went back out to the mill to saw up a forest into lumber. It's a place I'd happily take foreign visitors, both for the food and the history.
  6. I can make a couple of suggestions for your trip up to tulip country. Calico Cupboard has three locations--La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Anacortes. I've only been to the Mount Vernon one, but I imagine they're all similar--great baked goodies, sandwiches, and house-made soups. Check their hours--they don't do dinner, only breakfast and lunch. Rhododendron Café in Bow is lovely--casual, homey, and the food is excellent. The menu changes weekly, so check the website just before you go for what's on it then. I just had my birthday brunch there a couple of weekends ago. You can go up one way on I-5, see the tulips, and then come back south to Seattle over Whidbey Island--it's a great day trip. The bridge over Deception Pass is spectacular--well worth a stop. On the island, Greenbank Farm has a wine shop and tasting room that also sells loganberry preserves and other local goodies. The ferry at the south end of the island will take you back to Mukilteo, and you can just follow the signs back to I-5. Enjoy!
  7. Stock...homemade is sooooo much better than the grocery store varieties in cans and boxes (and don't even get me started on bullion cubes!)
  8. Trader Joe's has the best prices I've found on European-style butter. Their dried fruits and nuts are generally fresh and good-quality and reasonably priced (and the sesame-honey cashews are a little like crack). I keep their shredded Italian cheese blend around for a quick fix on microwave pizzas--it actually smells and tastes cheese-y, which is more than I can say for most pre-shredded cheese.
  9. Back in the late 70's/early 80s, when generic products were new and all the rage, Ralph's markets in southern California had a whole line of PlainWrap products. They were all packaged and labeled very simply, in basic white with a blue stripe and the name of the product in large block letters. The line included a PlainWrap greeting card labeled simply "CARD," a white PlainWrap t-shirt that read "SHIRT," and a white PlainWrap teddy bear with "BEAR" printed across his chest.
  10. I suspect the juice would run between the almonds and get to the crust anyway. I find that brushing the bottom crust with slightly-beaten egg white, then freezing it to set for half an hour before pouring in the filling, helps seal the crust. I've also heard of brushing the crust with jam before filling it. I also use a baking stone in the bottom of the oven. After baking it for 20 minutes or so on the lowest oven rack (that's to heat the glass pie plate so it doesn't shatter), I move the pie down directly on the stone. My bottom crust turns out amazingly crisp that way. Even doing all that, my crust is always the most flaky and crisp the first day. After that it's still tasty, but the texture is never quite as good. But since so few people actually attempt home-made pies with filling that isn't out of a can and crust that isn't out of the freezer case, I find that I'm the only one who really seems to mind--any second-day leftovers still get eaten with enthusiasm!
  11. I scored ten pounds of exquisite sour Montmorency pie cherries this week. I pitted and froze enough to make three deep-dish pies. Here's my go-to recipe: Cherry Pie If you need a good recipe for pie crust, here's my work-in-progress--it's gotten pretty damn good: Approaching the Perfect Pie Crust I also made this tart last night with the last of the pie cherries. It's definitely a keeper, too! Sour Cherry Frangipane Tart
  12. MaryMc

    Cherry Pie

    Cherry Pie Serves 6 as Dessert. This recipe is an adapted version of one published in Cooks Illustrated in 1995. Tart pie cherries make it tangy and not too sweet. I much prefer Instant ClearJel to tapioca or other thickeners--it stays clear and doesn't get gluey. This is pretty much my Platonic ideal of pies! 6 c sour pie cherries (pitted), or 6 cups pitted frozen pie cherries 1-1/4 c granulated sugar 1 small lemon, zested to yield 1 teaspoon zest and juiced to yield 2 teaspoons juice 1/8 tsp almond extract 1 T brandy 2 T Instant ClearJel or 4 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca 2 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces pastry for a double-crust pie 1 egg white, lightly beaten Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the bottom of the oven and preheat for at least half an hour. Roll bottom crust about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer and fit dough into deep-dish Pyrex pie pan, leaving dough that overhangs the lip in place. Brush lightly with egg white and freeze for at least half an hour. Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and zest, almond extract, brandy, and ClearJel or tapioca (ClearJel should be mixed with the sugar before adding it to the fruit); let stand for 15 minutes. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough. Roll top crust on lightly floured surface. Lay over fruit. Trim top and bottom dough edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute dough in your own fashion, or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top to allow steam to escape. Place in freezer for 10 minutes before baking. Bake on the lowest oven rack for 20 minutes. Mask the edges of the crust as needed with foil or a pie shield. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and, if you have a baking stone in the oven, move pie down, directly onto it. Continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to almost room temperature so juices have time to thicken, from 1 to 2 hours. Keywords: Dessert, Fruit, Pie, American ( RG2166 )
  13. I like Instant ClearJel, which I order from King Arthur Flour. It thickens my fruit pies nicely and stays clear. Cooks Illustrated turned me on to it--they tested several thickeners and it's the one they liked best.
  14. I've bought wood from these folks. The prices are pretty reasonable and they have a wide selection of woods. Barbecuewood.com
  15. Here's a reference I've found useful for making conversions like this. They have a chart showing the volume of batter that you can put in various different baking pans. There's also a brief discussion of how to adjust cooking time and temperature for changes in pan and batter depth. http://www.joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html]Joy of Baking--Pan Sizes
  16. How about The Oyster Bar? http://www.theoysterbaronchuckanutdrive.com/ I've been there once--the food wasn't spectacular, but it was quite good. The location is beautiful, and getting there you'll get to see the rest of Chuckanut Drive--one of the most gorgeous drives in the region. It's definitely an old-time Northwest experience.
  17. I've used Bob Tate (Seattle Knife Sharpening) and can recommend him highly.
  18. I just dug out my recipes for chili and tamale pie--with a big pan of cornbread, both of them are hearty, stick-to-your-ribs-kinda meals for this weather. Now if it will just let up long enough for me to get to the store to buy what I need for them!
  19. No plans for New Years Eve--we'll probably stay home with a bottle of champagne and watch the Space Needle fireworks on TV (real swingers, aren't we?) But for New Years Day I'll make my usual big pot of Hoppin' John and a pan of cornbread. My mother was from Alabama, so black-eyed peas have always been a requirement on January 1 for a prosperous new year! Hoppin' John 1-1/4 cup dry black-eyed peas 4 cups water 1-1/2 cups chopped onion 3 minced cloves garlic 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1 bay leaf 8 oz. coarsely chopped ham hock or salt pork 8 oz. chopped smoked ham or bacon 1 cup uncooked white rice Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste Boil the black-eyed peas for two minutes, then remove from heat and set aside for 1 hour. Add the onion, garlic, black pepper, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, and ham hock or salt pork. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the ham or bacon and simmer 1 more hour, uncovered, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, prepare the rice as directed on the package. Remove the ham hock or salt pork and the bay leaf from the beans. Stir in the cooked rice. Stir in Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cornbread. Happy new year!
  20. MaryMc

    Measurement question

    There is no single formula; it depends on what you're measuring. I've bookmarked a few websites that have weight-to-volume conversions for a lot of common ingredients--they come in handy for guesstimates like this (although I've also taken a plastic measuring cup to the grocery store a time or two!) Not All Pounds Are Created Equal Converting Cups to Grams US Cups to Weight by Ingredient
  21. I'll second the Cougar Gold recommendation--and I didn't go to school there! It's great stuff, and it travels well (they pack it in a tin). Another Washington product to consider is smoked salmon. Portlock's is good, and they have the whole gift packaging and shipping thing down. A recent discussion on another food board reminded me that we take our fresh local hazelnuts for granted up here in the upper-left corner--they seem to be exotic and almost unknown in other parts of the US. I sent some to a friend in Virginia a few years ago and she loved them--she made a hazelnut torte for her inlaws and knocked their socks off. If your friends bake, they might appreciate them, too. Oregon grows a big percentage of the US hazelnut crop, but I've been buying them from Holmquist Farms in Washington. They also sell them roasted and salted, and chocolate-covered, and they have some other hazelnut products as well. And since I'm on a Washington theme...can't forget Aplets and Cotlets!
  22. I've been pretty happy with this one, from Williams-Sonoma Digital Oil and Candy Thermometer
  23. I actually enjoy some of the variations on basic shortbread with add-ins (nuts, lavender, lemon, etc.), but IMHO, that's not really shortbread. Real shortbread is the plain, unadulterated flour/sugar/butter/pinch of salt recipe, and nothing more. This is my recipe, adapted slightly from a cookbook I got in Scotland many years ago. The rice flour gives it a lovely, crumbly texture. Traditional Scottish Shortbread 1/2 cup flour, sifted 1/4 cup rice flour 1/4 cup superfine sugar 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 cup butter, softened Combine flours, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Work in butter until dough has the consistency of shortcrust. Sprinkle board with rice flour. Turn dough onto board and knead until smooth. Divide into four portions and shape into small rounds. Place on greaseproof paper in a baking tin. Prick with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until cakes begin to brown slightly. Allow to cool in tin.
  24. I've been using the King Arthur containers for years--the cylindrical ones that hold the contents of a five-pound bag--and I've never had problems with critters of any kind in my flour. I wrote on the tops with a marker so I can distinguish bread flour, pastry and all-purpose.
  25. This one is a never-fail recipe for me. It's from the Los Angeles Times California Cookbook. It bakes up a big, gorgeous, three-layer cake that's just about the best carrot cake I've had. I usually sprinkle it with more chopped walnuts after frosting. You could add raisins to the batter if you want them. 14-Carat Cake
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