A Birthday

by Kelsi in , , , ,


My sweet boy turned 6 earlier this month. I can hardly believe he has less than a month left of Kindergarten. It has been such a wonderful year of growth not just for him but for us as parents too.

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We always host a birthday party for him at home, which is certainly a celebration of him but also a chance to get together with our extended family and a few close friends. It is always a full house and there is always lots of good food.

This year, I wanted to make The Birthday Cake from Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar. It looks like a process, and it is, but an incredibly fun one. I so enjoyed putting it together. And the technique of using a cake ring to cut the layers, acetate to build up the side frame and the freezer to set it is genius. I want to make all my layer cakes this way. It's fun and they look incredible. 

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 If your'e not familiar with the Momofuku birthday cake you should watch this video clip of Christina Tosi on Chef's Table and you can find the actual recipe on Bon Appetit...

Also inspired by Christina Tosi, I made a version of her Haute Dogs. However, I used Julia Turshen's foolproof and truly all-purpose yeasted dough recipe from her cookbook Small Victories. I've mentioned her cookbook here at least a few times as it is such a great one. In the cookbook she uses the dough recipe to make 12 raspberry jam buns. I used it to make 12 hot dog rolls (in fact I tripled the recipe to make 36) instead. I also used my stand mixer to initially mix the dough, then kneaded it for a few minutes as instructed. Then I put all three batches into a cambro, covered it with a towel and let it rise for about an hour until doubled in size. I punched it down, covered the bowl with the lid and stuck it in the fridge overnight until I was ready to make them the following morning.

I slathered a mustard butter on each roll and added this red onion jam before rolling them up and baking them. I piled them high on a sheetpan to serve and they were devoured by kids and adults alike.

I also made this great onion dip from Alison Roman served with classic ridged potato chips, a simple and bright cabbage slaw and a quadruple batch of these long time favorite salted brown butter crispy treats from Smitten Kitchen (though I more than double the Maldon sea salt it calls for).

For the adults I found these perfect mini cans of sparking Italian white and rosé at Trader Joe's. They are fantastic for a party, not too sweet and only $4 for a 4/pack...

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I also love hanging lots of paper streamers all over the house. It instantly makes the room feel happy and celebratory. I love the ones from the Oh Happy Day shop...

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In fact I love them so much that the ones in the dining room are still up...


Lastly (and again related to Christina Tosi) I can't forget to mention these Confetti Cookies...

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

I made them to bring to my son's school on his actual birthday to share with his class. Three things in particular make these incredible. They are inspired by the technique of the snickerdoodle with the addition of cream of tartar. They have an incredibly long creaming process (a Milk Bar signature) about 10 minutes total. And the addition of milk powder which Tosi says adds chewiness as well as a depth of flavor. Full of sugar, dairy, gluten and artificially colored sprinkles! But for a special treat, I'd have a hard time passing up one of these. 


House Margarita

by Kelsi in , , ,


It is spring break this week and while most people we know made a mass exodus out of Seattle in search of sunshine (who can blame them) we are having a rather stellar staycation at home. Both my husband and I took the week off. I've been catching up on reading and when I haven't been reading I've been cooking and baking.

Another bright spot has been a visit from dear friends who live in Lake Tahoe that we haven't seen in a few years. When we get together it's like no time has passed. The company and conversation is always easy and there is always laughter. We also drank a few rounds of my "house margarita" which includes my most favorite spirit, mezcal. Yes, yes, and yes.

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1 oz tequila

1 oz mezcal (I like Vida)

1 tablespoon agave syrup

Juice of 1 lime

Shake and pour over ice (I like these big cube molds for this)

*A note if making these for a crowd - I learned this tip from Julia Turshen. Simply quadruple this recipe (or more if you have a big crowd) and just whisk it all together in a big pitcher. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve and then pour over ice.



The Long Weekend

by Kelsi in ,


I finished the last of the apple crisp this morning for breakfast. As delicious as it was, after three days in a row I am looking forward to a more "well-rounded" start to the day tomorrow. We had a wonderful holiday at home with family. I wore my new favorite hat for the day-before preparations...

I roasted chickens instead of turkey. There was stuffing with lots of fresh herbs, mashed potatoes and Ina's gravy.

Pie of course...

My stand-by shredded brussels sprouts and kale salad with a lemony vinaigrette was a nice compliment to the other richer dishes...

One of my favorites was this chard gratin...

Photo by Olaiya Land via Milly's Kitchen

Photo by Olaiya Land via Milly's Kitchen

Today, we were ready for a quiet, lazy Sunday. We slept in and stayed in our pajamas all day and I made this really lovely lentil soup which I will definitely be making again. 

The holidays are here. Now it's time to do a little shopping.



Giving Thanks

by Kelsi in , , ,


We just returned from four days together in San Diego. Four days of no iphones, no Instagram, no news. We took photographs with a point and shoot camera instead of our phones. We just enjoyed time together that looked like this...

And this...

It felt so good to create some space and limit the amount of "input" I was exposing myself to so I'm going to keep it going. I deleted Instagram from my phone so I wouldn't be tempted throughout the day to pick it up and just mindlessly flip through. Instead of NPR and the NY Times, I've been listening nonstop to On Being. I've been trying to write a post about Krista Tippett and On Being for several months (and I mentioned it back in September). I still can't find the right words, so again I'll just urge you to start listening.

On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.

From here.

I am thrilled to be hosting Thanksgiving this year and am ready to put our new kitchen through its paces. At this very moment I have the house to myself and while I listen to the new Kings of Leon album, chicken stock is burbling next to me. By the way I'm head over heels for my Miele induction cooktop. One of these days I will give you a full report on the kitchen...

If you have never made homemade stock before, it is so easy and the reward is rich. You can always trust Pamela Salzman. Find her basic chicken stock recipe here. I love PCC which is where I do nearly all of my grocery shopping and in the freezer section in the meat department you can find organic chicken backs/bones and even chicken feet which are stellar for stock and all super affordable.

If you've made stock before, you know that as soon as it starts to boil a pretty unsightly foam appears on the surface which you are supposed to skim off. If you've never made stock it looks like this very un-Instagram worthy photo...

A cool trick I learned from a cooking class at The Pantry awhile back, is to put the bones in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil and just let the bones boil for 10 minutes to bring out all the impurities. After 10 minutes, pour it all into a colander and rinse/clean the bones in cold water. Put the bones back in the pot and fill with clean water and begin your stock. Not only do you not have to fuss with trying to get all the foam out but it results in a beautifully clear looking (and tasting) broth. After it has cooled and I've skimmed the fat, I freeze my stock in these containers...

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Next up on my to do list is pie dough.


I come from a line of epic pie bakers. My grandmother used to make her crust by feel, a scoop full of flour, some fat, a little salt, a little water. That sense was not passed down to me, but I took one of the very first Pie Ninja classes that Brandy taught when she opened The Pantry. She completely demystified the seemingly impossible feat for many of making a pie with a flaky butter crust. The world needs more pie. If you're intimidated, again you can trust Pamela Salzman. Find her apple pie recipe here. She'll even show you how to make the crust, roll it out and get it into the dish...

Also, it's good to know that flour goes rancid quite easily. Fresh flour pretty much has no smell. If you open up your bag of flour that has been sitting in your cupboard for several months and it has a distinct smell, it is bad. You might even think that that smell is what flour is supposed to smell like. Dump it. If you live locally, find Stone-Buhr flour from the good people of Shepherd's Grain at PCC. Also if you are like me and don't often use AP white flour, you might want to store it well sealed in the freezer to prolong its life.

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With all that has gone on in the last few weeks, I am hopeful, and I am grateful. If anything I think many of us have replaced a sort of complacency with a new sense of ownership in our lives asking ourselves, "What can I do?" Where to begin? Open your mind and your heart and your eyes to others around you. When you are waiting in line for your coffee, or sitting alone at lunch, whatever it is, resist the urge to look down at the device in your hands and instead lift your head up and appreciate the humanity that surrounds you.

With immense gratitude, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

And hell yes REI. #optoutside



by Kelsi in , ,

Emily Shur for The New York Times

Emily Shur for The New York Times

If you have any interest at all in wine you should know about Jon Rimmerman and Garagiste (based locally here in Seattle). Go to the site and sign up for the email list. Apologies in advance if you find yourself clicking away ordering bottles night after night...

We had the pleasure of meeting Jon and his partner Shira a few years back. They are incredibly magnetic and thoughtful and they happily answered all our novice wine tasting questions which evolved into an impromptu tasting of reds, whites and bubbles, ultimately showing us how to taste and be able to discern what you like.

I don’t think of myself as a retailer or an importer, I think of myself as a writer and a conduit of culture.
— Jon Rimmerman

And what a writer he is. Read more about Rimmerman and how Garagiste came to be in this NY Times article from 2012.





by Kelsi in , ,

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That small, simple speaker above is a Jambox. It may be small at only six inches, but the sound is incredibly clear and worthy of supplying the music for your dinner party. It is also wireless, using bluetooth, which makes it utterly portable and versatile. 

I take it into the kitchen when I am cooking dinner or washing dishes and play whatever I am in the mood for on Pandora, streaming from my phone.  Or listen to one of the always interesting podcasts from Radiolab while taking a bath. Take it with you wherever you travel...

(It also has the capability to be used as a speakerphone, which is handy when your two-year old starts singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and you want the grandparents to listen in.)


Playing Host, Holiday Edition

by Kelsi in , ,


I've long followed Remodelista, a "sourcebook for considered living" and I love their tips for being a good host during the holidays. Two of my favorites: 1. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Reining in chaos around the house is never a bad idea. Before your guests arrive, vanquish piles of clutter: if it’s useful or beautiful, keep; otherwise, toss. You and your visitors will be more comfortable.


10. Allow plenty of time for holiday decompression. Remember that a good host allows space for the guests to do as they please. For your visitors, as well as for yourself, take time this holiday to simply relax, restore, and renew.

You can read all ten here.

They also have a beautiful new book.