Weekend Wine Tasting

We went to taste wine this weekend at Columbia Winery.

I’m happy to confirm that wine tastes great!

We also had pizza with apples and bleu cheese on it. I told all the boys that apples and cheese are a common combo and that apple pie is often served with a big chunk of cheddar cheese on the side. They were skeptical, I think, both of whether or not I was telling the truth and if I was, if pie + cheese is a good idea. And now that I think about it, I’ve never actually been served apple pie with cheddar cheese but I’m quite sure I’ve read about it happening and that’s how I structure my reality.

Flatbread!

Boys eating flatbread, drinking wine, and falling off their chairs?!

Blurry wine bottles!

I told you the wine was good.

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New Shoes Cure the Running Blues

Oh my heavens, I bought new shoes.

New, same shoes. I’ve really liked my Brooks Ghosts for the past 400 miles, so I decided to get another pair of the same thing. They’re in purple for spring, so at least they look a little different.

These old guys served me well, pounding the pavement (and the muddy trails) for about 400 miles. About 30 miles ago, it was just like they gave out – my feet started to hurt, my legs got tired on runs that normally didn’t faze me. I started to question my training – what was I doing wrong to be so tired after a 4 mile run?!

Then I looked at my dirty, dirty, squished shoes.

Everyone wears their shoes differently, but the experts say 350-500 miles on a pair of running shoes is the approximate lifespan. For whatever reason, I’ve always been hard on shoes – non-running shoes included – and I could really feel that these running shoes were worn right the heck out.

Enter these beauties – I took them on a 17 mile run yesterday and they felt amazing! A world of difference! I really think it’s a good idea to stick with the same shoe for running – there’s almost no break in. I did run a few shorter run in my new shoes this week, to make sure they felt ok before I attempted a long run, but these shoes felt great immediately!

Tracking mileage is so helpful – of course for training purposes, but also for keeping track of when to replace shoes. Shoes are really the only equipment runners need (and barefoot runners don’t even need that!), so it’s worth it to get a good pair and replace them as needed. I can really feel the difference!

Country Loaf

The Seattle sunshine is over. Yesterday it snowed/rained/hailed. I guess that’s what you call a wintry mix? Unpleasant, no matter what you call it.

I stayed in.

Today looks much the same – big low grey clouds, evergreens blustering about, and a chilly looking seagull glaring at me from a neighboring rooftop. The weatherman says it might snow and stick. That’s a big deal around here, as they don’t seem to have salt or snow plows or winter driving experience and they do have big, big hills.

Good days for baking!

I made bread.

And then I posed my loaf next to a rose and took goofy pictures of it. Can’t blame myself. Both were on the table. Both were pretty.

Recipe from Betty Crocker’s cookbook (Betty is very trustworthy). You can see the recipe online here.

What you need:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A good sense of fun and a willingness to mess up your kitchen

Now, Betty said to use bread flour because something something more gluten? And I had bread flour! But only 3 cups of it. I used all-purpose for the remaining 2 cups.

I think I used to be scared of baking, and bread baking in particular, because I thought I had to be very precise. I was wrong. Yes, you should follow the measurements. You do have to be sort of precise. But things usually work out if you make little errors, is all I’m saying.

This does not seem to hold true for pie crusts. Pie crusts still make me nervous.

Bread fear is conquered, pies are next on the list. Bring it, pie.

Ok, back to the recipe. Sorry.

Mix 2 cups of flour with yeast and sugar. Stir in the 2 cups warm water (I just used hot water from the tap). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.

It will look like this after 1 hour – big and bubbly.

Add oil and salt. Stir in remaining flour, 1/2 a cup at a time. Don’t worry if all the flour doesn’t quite incorporate. Mine had chunks of dough falling off. You’re about to knead the heck out of it, so  that will do the trick.

Flour a surface (like your counter) and knead, knead, knead!

You seriously do knead (hahaha) to knead if for about 7-10 minutes. The dough will become smooth and pliable as you do this – amazing!

Then plop your stretchy and smooth dough in a greased bowl, flipping it around to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for another hour or so.

It will rise.

Poof!

Ta-da!

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease the cookie sheet.

Now, dump your dough out of its bowl and form it into a ball. You don’t want to punch it down (I know, darn) and release all the air bubbles, but it will definitely deflate a bit as you form it into a nice smooth ball.

That’s ok, because we’re going to let it rise AGAIN. Told you this is a good dreary day activity.

Plop your dough ball on your cookie sheet and sprinkle a little cold water on it.

Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 425 and fill a small 9×9 dish with hot water. Put this dish on the bottommost rack of the oven as it heats, and leave it there throughout the bread baking. Having water in the oven helps make the crust crusty, I’m told. I just follow the rules.

When your dough is risen and your oven is hot (and Jupiter aligns with Mars), slice a few thin lines in the top of your dough ball, sprinkle with a little more cold water and a little bit of flour and then shove it in the oven.

Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown! It should sound hollow when you tap it.

Oooh.

Ahhh.

Yummm.

Slap on some butter and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Pizza

Pizza is a popular dish around this house. It’s easy, fun, feeds a lot of people and is infinitely customizable.

This weekend I whipped up a butternut squash and onion pizza to take with us on a picnic. That’s right, a picnic. If you like cold pizza, it’s a really good option! Just slice it up, lay it flat in a big ziploc and plop it in the cooler. Or the wicker picnic basket, if that’s how you do things.

This was kind of a “leftover” pizza – I’d  made pizza for a dinner party earlier in the week (pizza is very versatile!) and saved a bit of dough in the fridge. You can see the recipe for the dough in an earlier post. The squash was leftover too – I had roasted it a few days before for enchilada making!

So I just stretched out the dough, and as you can see I did not achieve a perfect circle! Then I spooned a little Newman’s Own pasta sauce on top, added some chunks of mozzarella, and then layered on my roasted butternut squash and some raw red onions and just a few yellow pepper pieces. Into the oven, set to 450, for about 10 minutes.

A very quick way to feed 4 people while getting rid of leftovers. I LOVE using leftovers in new ways, but it’s definitely something I struggle with – lots of repeat meals!

Crispy crunchy crust, slightly sweet squash. Delicious onions. Sorry, I could think of any alliterative adjectives for the onions.

Make some dough!

A Hiking, Biking, Helmet-Wearing Good Time

Saturday was hiking, Sunday was biking!

Sunday was another sunny day in Seattle, so we decided to make the most of it by going for a bike ride!

This picture is not from yesterday. It’s from our summer trip across the country. I just wanted to show you our bikes (and G’s groovy plaid shorts), not fool you into thinking you can wear said shorts in Seattle in February. The weather is nice, but not that nice.

Aren’t our bikes cute?

My bike is a Schwinn Suburban. It’s hefty.

We are very fortunate (for many reasons, but this is biking specific) to live close to lots of trails -only a little riding on the streets!

We rode all along Lake Union, stopping to take in the view at Gas Works Park. So many sailboats were out on the lake yesterday. It was beautiful.

I want a boat.

Someday.

We also cruised through the University District and Interlaken Park. All in all, we covered about 12 miles.

Delightful. I definitely resolve to bike more!

Safety first.

I ❤ the helmet.

Saturday Hiking

Another beautiful day in the Northwest!

Sorry to brag.

It was cold! And SUNNY. So we went for a hike.

I must confess, I’m always going on and on about how I want to do daytrips, day hikes, weekend fun and I never plan a darn thing and then I whine when the weekend passes and all I did was go for a 15 mile run. For the record, 15 mile runs do not count as weekend fun.

I didn’t really plan this excursion either, but I got up early and made food for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I facilitated the planning of this excursion -with chocolate chip pancakes.

I know my strengths.

Intrepid hikers, fueled by pancakes.

We drove about a 1/2 hour east of Seattle and hiked 3 miles at the Twin Falls trail. The trail led us by a crystal clear river, piles of green moss, big trees, and eventually to some lovely waterfalls.

Otherworldly!

Can you see the face?

Can you see … the face? Just kidding.

Rushing river.

The trail overlooks two waterfalls (um, hence the name, Twin Falls), the stairsteps of the upper falls and the big cascade of the lower falls.

Awfully darn pretty.

I guess we’re pretty cute too.

A wonderful day trip. So nice to get some outdoor exercise that isn’t running (everything in moderation, you know), spend some time in the sun, and most importantly, see beautiful sights with friends.

Happy Saturday!