Megan’s Island: shuffling off to Buffalo, NY!

Buffalo, NY!

It’s official! We’re trading in the grey drizzle of the Seattle area for upstate New York!

Brandon signed the official paperwork this week and come next fall, he’ll be teaching accounting, Michael will be making new friends at a new daycare, and I’ll be spending a lot more time here, on this blog. And on my small business. And working on my real estate license. And, finally, working on even more ideas I have up my sleeve! You’ll just have to keep tuning in to find out!

Since I’ve never left the Seattle-area for more than a couple of weeks at a time, I need your help.

Tell me everything you know about the Buffalo area: favorite restaurants, favorite wineries, favorite spot to see the fall colors, favorite great lake, favorite parks and snow boots, you get my drift. Snow drift. Get it? (For those not in the know, it averages 94″ of snow each year there. That’s nearly EIGHT FEET of snow.)

Tell me all of your tips for moving to a new town. Should I find my new favorite stores and make friends there? Same story but at my new favorite restaurant, wine bar or winery? Should I volunteer?

I’m sad to be leaving my friends and family in Seattle, but nervous and excited about this new adventure. I’m definitely looking forward to spending a lot more time here, with you.

Now, we’re off to shuffle off to Buffalo!

Hello, 2017!

Wait, what?! I’m pretty sure 2016 was the fastest year yet. I’m sure returning to work after maternity leave and trying to balance life as a more-than-full-time working mom, actually seeing my kid, and pumping three times a day played a large role. But still, it went too fast.

On the left: 2016 Michael. On the right: 2017 Michael. Same day, different year and such a big little boy!

On the left: 2016 Michael. On the right: 2017 Michael. Same day, different year and such a big little boy!

2017 will be a big year for us. It’s very likely that we’ll be packing up our lives on the Island and relocating across the country for Brandon’s job. Megan’s Island may soon be Megan’s Bayou or Megan’s Desert. (Don’t worry, while I may not be blogging from the Island in the future, I’ll still be there in spirit!)

Because of the big changes afoot, I have one New Year’s resolution this year: Be present.

If last year was any indication, the next six to nine months will be here and gone before we know it. And, since I have to wrap up my 30+ years in this fine city, I’ve got my work cut out for me!

I’ve started a Seattle bucket list and I’ll be trying to make the most of our time here while also saying good bye (just for now, not forever!). The bucket list will be another post, but I’d love to hear your ideas. Until then, I’ve got a kid to play with and a greenbelt to explore.

Cheers to 2017!

My 2017 resolution: Be present.

My 2017 resolution: Be present.

 

 

 

 

Beautycounter visits the Island

Beautycounter2

Over the weekend I hosted a Beautycounter party with a few of my girlfriends. Think Stella & Dot or a Tupperware party, but with natural beauty products instead.

If you want to try out Beautycounter, you’re too late for their debut at Target, but you can order from my link! We all agreed that we want an introductory sample-sized kit of Beautycounter favorites, but it doesn’t currently exist, sadly.

I’m still figuring out exactly what I’m going to order, but here are the items I have my eyes on:

  • Nourishing cream cleanser ($26)
  • Nourishing day cream ($43)
  • Balancing face oil ($68)
  • Rejuvenating eye cream ($58)
  • Daily shampoo ($22)
  • Daily conditioner ($26)
  • Touch up skin concealer pen ($32)
  • Lengthening mascara ($29)
  • Winter warmth color palette ($58)

Beautycounter1

Beautycounter3

About Beautycounter

Beautycounter is committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what is legally required in the United States. Their Never List is made up of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that they never use as ingredients in our products. This includes the over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern.

While all Beautycounter ingredients are sourced with a higher standard of safety and quality in mind, it is well recognized — and accepted by regulatory authorities around the world — that incidental, trace levels of a chemical may inadvertently be introduced a cosmetic product due to the complexities of the supply chain and manufacturing process.

Check out this shortened, pocket-size version of their Never List that you can use for easy reference.

To compliment the Never List, the Environmental Working Group has a Healthy Living App that provides ratings for 120,000 food and personal items. I have downloaded the app but haven’t had the nerve to scan yet– I’m too scared!

Questions? Reach out to my friend CariAnn at www.beautycounter.com/cariannwitsoe

 

Dinner at the Herbfarm

Truffle Treasures at the Herbfarm

Truffle Treasures at the Herbfarm

Brandon and I have a lot of stuff. There I said it. So for Christmas, we decided that instead of more stuff, we would do an experience. We’ve always wanted to visit the Herbfarm, so we started scoping out menus and selected the Truffle menu.

You see, the Herbfarm does theme eating monthly. Right after my own heart! We opted for the “Truffle Treasure” of January and we were very glad that we did!

The Herbfarm is an award-winning restaurant in Woodinville, a suburb of Seattle. It’s on the expensive side and the nine courses (nine!) are paired with drinks for the most part. It also takes several hours. We won’t be going back monthly, but this was a great experience and one that I would recommend you do at least once during your time in Seattle! 

My parents watched Michael and we feasted on…

Herbfarm first course

Herbfarm first course

Truffledom: White truffle shumai; black truffle soup with red beet cream; Dungeness crab with truffle butter; and, beech mushroom tempura, truffle salt, Idaho lemon wedge.

Drink pairing: Blue Mountain Vineyard Brut, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Herbfarm second course

Herbfarm second course

Albacore & Pickles: Grilled rare Oregon Albacore tuna, assorted pickles put up from our larder.

Drink pairing: 2013 Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley

Herbfarm third course

Herbfarm third course

Earth ‘n’ Trees: Oregon chesnut angolloti, cipollini onion, chervil, Oregon white truffle sauce.

Drink pairing: 2002 L’Ecole No. 41 Semillion, Fries Vineyard, Walla Walla

Herbfarm fourth course

Herbfarm fourth course

Black, White & Blue: Buttermilk-poached blue-footed chicken breast, chicken-skin-crusted salsify, sauce perigourdine.

Drink pairing: 2012 Broadley Vineyards Pinot Noir, Jessica, Willamette Valley

Herbfarm fifth course

Herbfarm fifth course

Mr. Kuro Goes to Washington: Bay-braised Gold Beach Oregon Wagyu beef short rib in feuille de brick, turnips & their greens, our Roy’s Calais Flint corn polenta, huckleberry sweet-sour sauce, black truffle puree.

Drink pairing: 2012 Gorman Winery Winemaker’s Reserve Malbec, Red Mountain

Herbfarm sixth course

Herbfarm sixth course

Parsnip in a Pear’s Pad: Grated parsnip and pear, shave Willamette Valley Boerenkaas cheese, nocino sauce.

Herbfarm seventh course

Herbfarm seventh course

Glass & Ice: Sorbet of muddled Idaho Valencia orange rind and sake, gin glass, Douglas Fir snowbank.

Herbfarm eighth course

Herbfarm eighth course

Oh, Sweet Truffle: Sourdough ice cream, black truffle-caramel apples, fromage blanc, Oregon olive oil cake.

Drink pairing: 2005 Thurston-Wolfe 8-year cask-aged Tawny Port

And course nine: 

Extra desserts!

Extra desserts!

Accompanying dinner: truffled wood-oven foccacia

Thankfully little Michael had equally as fun of night with Grandma and Grandpa. He passed out!

Sleepy Michael

Sleepy Michael

Next on our Seattle food bucket list? Canlis. Maybe next Christmas?

La Spiga’s “Chef’s Table with Gnocchetti 101” class

DyneHave you heard of Dyne? According to them, Dyne is a better way to book and enjoy the dining experience, to discover secret menus, pop-ups, and special offerings at select partners in Seattle. Based on this experience and the offerings I’ve seen, I would have to agree!

Brandon and I had the pleasure of using Dyne to attend a very select class this past June, in the private dining mezzanine (upstairs) at La Spiga Osteria, one of our favorite Seattle spots.

“Chef’s Table with Gnocchetti 101” was limited to 20 people and led by La Spiga owner and chef Sabrina Tinsley. Sabrina walked us through a demonstration-style cooking class on the techniques to master gnocchetti (the soft, delicate pasta cousin of gnocchi) followed by a three-course dinner with optional wine flight. Brandon opted for the wine flight, I opted against it.

For $48 per person (plus $25 extra for the wine flight), this was a deal — and an experience — that we couldn’t pass up!

Our group of Dyners

Our group of Dyners

THE MENU

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti
Spring salad with crispy fried artichokes, spring peas, asparagus, fava, bibb lettuce and pecorino fresco

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina
Gnocchetti pasta with pork sausage, truffle and cream sauce

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Third Course: Panna Cotta
Strawberry panna cotta with 30th Anniversary balsamic vinegar

Third Course: Panna Cotta

Third Course: Panna Cotta

Dinner was delicious (as we’ve come to expect from La Spiga) and the best part of the evening was that we got to take recipes for each of the courses home with us! And now I will share the Gnocchetti alla Norcina (ricotta gnocchi with sausage, truffle and cream sauce) recipe with you!

Gnocchetti 101 class at La Spiga

Gnocchetti 101 class at La Spiga

Gnocchetti alla Norcina from La Spiga Osteria
(Ricotta gnocchi with sausage, truffle and cream sauce)
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ricotta, drained overnight
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 T truffle flour (optional)
  • 2 c all purpose unbleached flour + extra for dusting
  • 6 pork sausage links
  • Olive oil
  • 3 T truffle butter (optional — available for purchase at La Spiga)
  • 3 c heavy cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

Make the gnocchetti

  • Mix together the ricotta, egg, salt, a little fresh ground pepper and the truffle flour, if you’re using it.
  • Add the all purpose flour and blend until smooth. The dough should be a workable consistency and may be sightly sticky. (About 2 minutes)
  • If the dough is too sticky, you may add up to a 1/4 c extra flour, but resist the urge to add any more.
  • Dust your work surface with plenty of flour and roll out the dough in small batches into 1/2″ cylinders with your palm.
  • Cut the cylinders into 1/2″ pieces like the below photo.
  • Dust the pieces with flour and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment, you may freeze at this point, if you’re enjoying them later.

Little gnocchettis

Little gnocchettis

Make the sauce

  • Remove sausage from the casing (Sabrina recommends using sausage WITHOUT fennel– it’s her preference) and saute in a sauce pan with 2 T olive oil. (Sabrina only uses Bono Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I have only been able to find at La Spiga, not at PFI), lightly salt the sausage to prevent the loss of flavor to the cream.
  • When the sausage has just cooked through, add the optional truffle butter and allow to melt.
  • Add the cream once the butter has melted.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from heat. Don’t worry about boiling the sauce down or reheating it. It will do this on its own.

The best sauce EVER: sausage, truffle and cream

The best sauce EVER: sausage, truffle and cream

Cook the Gnocchetti

  • Bring salted water to a boil. The water should “taste like the sea”
  • Cook the gnocchetti in small batches. Do not stir.
  • When the gnocchetti rises to the surface, allow it to cook for about one more minute. Skim the finished gnocchetti off of the surface with a slotted spoon and transfer to the sauce pan.
  • Continue to cook all of the gnocchetti in this method.
  • Dress the cooked gnocchetti by folding it into the sauce. Take care not to break up the gnocchetti and serve immediately. (This should only include ~one minute in the pan)
  • Add garnish (microgreens pictured here) and/or Parmigiano Reggiano

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

AND ENJOY!!! Now I’m hungry and want to go make a batch of this Gnocchetti alla Norcina! Thanks for the recipe, Dyne and La Spiga!

 

Introducing Michael Carl

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce my one-week-old son, Michael Carl.

"Hello, world. I'm Michael."

“Hello, world. I’m Michael.”

Megan's Island's newest resident

Megan’s Island’s newest resident

Michael was born at on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. He’s a prompt fellow and I started the laboring process on his due date, approximately 22 hours before he made his grand entrance into the world. 

He weighed in at 7 lbs, 15.3 ounces and measured a lengthy 21.25 inches.

Michael's favorite position: sleeping soundly during the day

Michael’s favorite position: sleeping soundly during the day

Bath time was a success!

Bath time was a success!

This way to the gun show, ladies!

This way to the gun show, ladies!

Nice to meet you!

Nice to meet you!

For many, many, many more Michael photos, check out my Instagram.

When will Baby Michael join us?

I’ve officially started my four-month “baby vacation,” having wrapped up my last day of work on Friday.

This is the view from my office now. Not too shabby!

My new "office" view (from the deck and living room)

My new “office” view (from the deck and living room)

We hit the 39th week of pregnancy today and now I’m wondering… when will Baby Michael join us?!

Here's last week's photo. He's been dropping!

Here’s last week’s photo. He’s been dropping!

I had friends and family place their best guess as to when he’ll make his debut and so far, five guesses are out of contention. I originally guessed today — I mean, laboring on labor day is so fitting, right? I also have a lot of holiday birthdays in my family, so this would work well — and then I thought for sure it was going to happen last weekend — which it obviously didn’t. Who would have guessed that the predictions of a full moon (yes, I’m having a werewolf), changes in the barometric pressure (from hot and sunny to stormy in a day!), combined with two days of Indian food including eggplant and dancing at a wedding, would be wrong? Apparently little Michael.

Guesses?

Guesses?

According to this article, it’s possible that I’ll be right? Of course, anything is possible. There are too many variables to know for sure. We’ll see where the day and week take us! We’ll welcome Michael whenever he decides to grace us with his presence!

2015-9 Birth bell curve

This could be telling us something…

So, now I ask you. What do you think? I’d love to hear your guesses. Whoever guesses correctly will get something… not naming rights, but maybe something else? Tell me what you’d like to win too!

Three cheers for Michael giving me a bit of a staycation and then making his timely debut!