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Archive for December, 2009

My husband, John, and I were thrilled to have a direct flight from Seattle to Lihue, Kauai, a mere six hours and ten minutes to arrive in a tropical paradise. Our food strategy included lunch at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac) before boarding the Boeing 737 that would take us thousands of miles over the Pacific ocean. In case of a hunger attack, I had packed three Honey Crisp apples and a stash of almonds in my computer carry-on case. After arriving in Lihue, we had planned to eat dinner at a local restaurant. All along the way, we had to modify our plans.

We made it through security at SeaTac, our luggage was checked and we had an hour before boarding our plane, so we went to Anthony’s Restaurant and Fish Bar. Looking over the menu, John said, “I intend to eat healthy food during this vacation.” He ordered the Northwest Cobb Salad.

“I am debating between the Caesar salad or the Roasted Wild Salmon Salad. What do you recommend?” I asked our waitress.

Without hesitating, she answered, “The salmon salad because it’s unique and the flavors are fantastic.”

She was so right. The taste of the salmon was perfectly complemented by cranberry relish. Slivered hazelnuts added flavor and crunch.

We left Anthony’s and headed for our gate. John noticed on the reader board that our flight now had a stop in Oakland. Our flight would not be direct after all. Due to 100 knot head winds over the Pacific Ocean, we needed to stop in Oakland to take on more fuel. This stop would add three hours to our flight time. Our plane would arrive in Lihue at 11:45 p.m.

We congratulated ourselves on having a healthy meal prior to boarding. After our stop in Oakland when we were airborne again, the cabin attendant announced two options for food service: Teriyaki Rice Bowl or a picnic collection of crackers, cheese and salami. I had decided on the rice bowl when the flight attendant announced, “The good news is you are on your way to Hawaii, the bad news is we are out of food. We have a few bags of nuts we will be bringing through the cabin. We are also offering complimentary Mai Tai’s.”

A man in my row was allergic to nuts. I reached into the overhead compartment and retrieved three apples from my computer bag. I offered one to my husband, one to my fellow passenger and I ate the third one. An apple has never tasted so good, still cold and crisp. The sweet fresh flavor provided a sharp contrast to the dull stale feeling in the airplane.

John and I ordered wine and nibbled on almonds. When we finally got to Kauai, we were ready for dinner. The rental car representative told us everything was closed with one exception. If we wanted to drive about six miles to Kapa’a, we could get something to eat at the 24 hour Safeway.

At the Safeway, we selected pre-made salads and sandwiches. We grabbed bottled water and two bottles of wine. When we got to the checkout counter, we were told it’s illegal to sell wine after 11 p.m. in Hawaii. Happy to have food and water, we drove to our hotel, checked in and ate dinner at 1 a.m. about 12 hours after our lunch in Seattle.

What did we learn from this experience?  Be prepared and plan for the unexpected. During this time of heightened security, we must take responsibility for our own needs. Flight delays or re-routes mean passengers may need additional food and water. Next time, I will bring extra food and water on board.

What are your tips for bringing food for long flights? I’m compiling a list of ideas for packing healthy food for travel and will share it on my blog.

Wouldn’t it be great if the airlines provided passengers with tips for making our travel more pleasant? I’d love to discover a snack pack that offers nutritious food choices and also passes TSA regulations.

 

 

 

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During the holiday season, I find myself desperately searching for that perfect gift. Frequently, this challenge becomes more difficult because many of my friends and relatives have everything they need and more. The age-old question becomes, “How do I remember the people on my gift list with an appropriate and thoughtful gift?”

My friend, Heidi’s advice is to give edible gifts. “We live on our sailboat, and every inch of space is precious. We simply don’t have room for more stuff, that’s why I give our friends and family edible gifts.” Heidi looks for jams, candy, smoked salmon and fruit baskets that provide special luxury treats for the people on her holiday list.

When I visited Kathy Casey’s Food Studio for her holiday open house,  I found an array of delicious gifts that included cakes, cookies, candy, seasonings, honey, jams and chutneys. The Strawberry Lavender Jam and Blueberry Lavender Chutney grabbed my attention. These items are available at Dish D’Lish in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

At the Sweetlife Farm on Bainbridge Island, my selection included Rosemary Salt, Membrillo, (quince paste) Raspberry Jam and Firehouse Chipolte Cocoa.

When I support local farms and businesses, I am doing my part to help sustain my community. Visiting these shops offers a pleasurable and personal shopping experience. I can talk to the people who created these products. Chatting with Kathy Casey, I asked, “Where do you get your lavender for the chutney?”

She replied, “We grow it in our herb garden just behind our building, we have five varieties!”

This is the type of connection we can have with the people who produce local food products.

This holiday season, give up the search for the PERFECT gift and treat friends and family to a jar of chutney, jam or some other indulgence. Please leave me a comment telling me about your favorite or most memorable gift.

Happy holidays! I wish you peace and joy!

 

 

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Chocolate Treasures

What is it about chocolate? It seems to create magic whenever it shows up. Anne Mills, a chocolatier, creates magic in her Seattle shop where she makes and decorates truffles as well as specialty chocolates.

Anne’s store, Eat Chocolates, located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, has a European feel. A frisky calico kitten named Kashmir runs around the shop Brightly painted pottery, hand-crafted leather bags and colorful table linens fills the shelves. The intoxicating fragrance of chocolate lingers in the air, arousing my desire for just one. Anne’s business includes importing and selling products from France.

Anne invited me into her kitchen. She pulled out an enormous tray filled with elegant, small candies. “I’ll be taking this tray of chocolates to a holiday sale this afternoon,” she said.

In addition to selling her chocolates, Anne offers chocolate-making classes and custom-made chocolates with logos, special designs or symbols.

Anne has shoulder-length strawberry-blond hair and vivid blue eyes. She held her rescue kitten, Kashmir, while telling me how she came to this profession.

The romance film, Chocolat, a story of a young single mother who opens a chocolate shop, and, through it, teaches the townspeople how to live more passionately, touched Anne deeply and sparked her dormant desire for creativity and community.

Anne’s father’s position as a Mobil Oil executive meant she spent most of her childhood far from America. We lived in Libya until I finished 5th grade,” she said. “Gaddafi took over the country on my first day in third grade.”

Her father’s transfer from Libya resulted in the family’s move to Nigeria, also a close-knit expat community. She spent high school in Connecticut. She found herself planted in a foreign place where her classmates had little or no understanding of Africa. “It was as if my childhood memories did not exist,” she said. She missed her family and friends and the sense of community she came to expect during her time in Africa.

Longing to travel and live abroad, Anne decided to study international relations and enrolled in the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. “I thought that would be my ticket to Europe,” Anne said with a wry smile. “Instead, I married a French man and we moved to Seattle. We had four children and I dabbled in several start-up opportunities. Anne worked at various part-time endeavors including multilevel marketing, calligraphy and starting a French import business with her husband. She was beginning to discover her passion for doing creative, artistic and meaningful work.

Now, Anne is doing exactly what she wants to do, making chocolates, infusing them with exotic flavors and decorating them with edible glitter. Anne’s face beamed as she described her chocolate. “Our truffles and chocolate products are made with the finest ingredients including Felchlin Maracaibo chocolate, organic cream and fresh spices, herbs, fruit and nuts.

Of course, my favorite is the dark chocolate truffle flavored with lavender. Anne infuses the ganache (a combination of chocolate and cream, melted together slowly, then formed into the centers of chocolate truffles) with fragrant lavender from Sequim’s Purple Haze Lavender.

At Eat Chocolates, the candies, not only please the palate, each tiny piece is a work of art. The picture below shows the beauty of Anne’s chocolate sticks – white chocolate with a hint of orange flavor.

Through her chocolates, Anne is building community and collaborating with other business owners.

 

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Five inexpensive luxurious one-of-a-kind gifts that are perfect for teachers, neighbors and relatives who you want to remember this holiday season.

1. A small jar of home-made jelly sends a sweet message anytime of the year. I like to make apple lavender jelly because it is easy, inexpensive and a special treat. My recipe makes approximately 4 six ounce jars.

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Apple Lavender Jelly

Sweet and delicate, this simple jelly lets us enjoy the taste of apples and lavender’s fragrance all year round. Use organically locally-grown apples for best results. You can use any variety of apples. Fuji, Rome and Delicious all will work well.

6 pounds apples
1 ½ cups fresh lavender buds, or 2 tablespoons dried buds
½ cup water
3 cups sugar (amount may vary depending on juice yield from apples)
½ cup cassis or Grand Marnier liqueur
Cheesecloth

1. Quarter apples (don’t peel or core).

2. Place apples in large saucepan, then add lavender and water. Bring to a boil and simmer until apples are tender, about an hour.

3. Meanwhile, sterilize 4 (six-ounce) jars.

4. Line a colander with 3 layers of cheesecloth, and place colander over a large bowl.

5. Pour apple mixture into cheesecloth and allow the juice to drip overnight. Depending on the juice content of your apples, you will have approximately 3 cups of juice in the morning.

6. Pour juice into a large saucepan; add sugar. If you have 3 cups of juice, use 3 cups of sugar. If not, use 1 cup of sugar for every cup of juice.

7. Bring juice and sugar to a rapid boil. Continue boiling until the temperature reaches 220ºF, or a drop of the juice forms a hard film on a cold spoon.

8. Stir liqueur into hot juice.

9. Pour hot mixture into sterilized jars and seal with paraffin.

Yield: 4 (six-ounce) jars of jelly

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2. I love to give pure lavender honey. Olympic Lavender Farm offers pure lavender honey in 3 ounce jars. You can order this honey on line and it will arrive on your front porch. I like to keep several jars of honey in my gift box to have on hand for hostess gifts or when I want to sweeten someone’s day.

3. A gift of fine chocolates delights nearly everyone. Eat-Chocolates offers hand-made chocolates made with the best quality ingredients. My favorite is an elegant box of truffles. The little box contains six beautiful candies that are nice to look at, and sinful to eat. One of these six truffles is dark chocolate with just a hint of lavender, and best of all it is decorated with purple luster dust.

4. Home-made marshmallows, packaged in a cellophane gift bag and tied with a bright ribbon, are perfect for topping a nice hot cup of chocolate. These are easy and inexpensive to make.

5. Lavender sugar, so simple to make, brings back memories of summer sunshine. I like to give small jars of lavender sugar along with my favorite way to use it either in a recipe of simply sprinkled on fresh fruit.

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