pacific northwest

I spent last week adventuring in the Pacific Northwest. Flew into Seattle, Washington and spent a couple days in the city and around UW. Then took a bus to Portland, Oregon and spent time in the city, at Pacific University in Forest Grove, and Beaverton (visiting the Nike national headquarters).

Here’s a visual recap…

On the awesome Seattle transportation with the guy I kinda like.

Pike’s Place

The fish market. Yes, fish were thrown.

I’ve eaten this!!! In Sweden…I wasn’t a fan, but it brings back memories.

Who knew there was a chicken of the woods?

A whole shop dedicated to cheese. Om.

Only in PBR country. Tried it on tap and I have to say, I’m a fan.

The Space Needle!!!

View from the Needle.

I know, we’re cute aren’t we.

Repping that Bruin swag.

Riding the UW mascot. Woof!

Let’s talk about the best.donuts.in.the.world.

At Top Shop in Seattle. One pumpkin spice donut + one original glazed. TO DIE FOR.

OMG. OMG.

And then it was off to Oregon!

Being silly around Nike headquarters.

And that’s all the pics I took in Oregon. I really liked Washington I guess…

There is talk of a rib cookout this weekend…stay tuned!

Lauren

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how to find good food anywhere + curry coconut rice bowl

Happy Friday! Just a few more working hours till we’re set free from the drudgery of the work week! And no doubt you’re spending less time actually working and more time thinking about your evening plans. Fridays are really only placeholders so employers can guarantee you work at least 4 days out of the week.

For most of us, Fridays are days for eating out and decompressing after a long week. But does anyone else ever feel like picking a place for dinner always results in the same debate?It’s the one where you and your family member(s)/boyfriend/best friend toss ideas back and forth trying to decide where + what you should eat for dinner. The new place around the corner? Or what about that pizza place we say we’re always going to go to but never do? What about this Japanese place on yelp? It got 4.5 stars, but should we really trust the reviews? Do you feel like Italian or Mexican food? Then again, our standard place has the best deals for happy hour.

It’s painful, really. Over the years I’ve practically given up trying to come to mutual agreements with family members. That’s about as effective as trying to mentally herd cattle into the barn. But when I do have the option of picking where I’m going to eat out, and especially if I want to try something new, I have a few methods for finding the best meal, anywhere.

1. Know your company. If the area you’re planning to eat in has an overwhelming majority of some ethnicity, eat their food. I live close to Irvine, a predominantly Asian city. Most of the restaurants are Asian. So when in Irvine I eat Asian food. Why? Because the people who make the best Asian cuisine tend to actually be Asian. It’s the food they’ve grown up with and they usually do it best.
2. Eat where there are a lot of restaurants. It’s all about competition. In order to survive in a competitive market, your food has to be able to compete. If you eat in an area with a lot of restaurants, you’re more likely to get good food.
3. That being said, the hidden gems are often the best. There’s a place in LA that’s jammed between a liquor store that never cards, and a dry cleaner. And if you didn’t know better you would pass right by this place. But this little restaurant is actually owned by the same chef who owns one of the most popular food trucks in LA. This restaurant offers an entirely different menu, that is equally as bomb dot com. So do some research and don’t be afraid to try the holes in the wall.
4. If you’re gonna yelp, do it properly. Instead of typing in “Italian food” in the search box, instead Google something specific like “happy hour + beer + Santa Monica.” You can usually find some good places + reviews/blog posts that address your needs. And of course, check a restaurant’s menu online before you go. The menu will usually tell you everything you need to know (price range, interesting or generic food, etc.) to make a good judgement about a restaurant.
5. When all else fails, go with a recommendation from the locals. Guys I don’t care if you you never stop to ask for directions, but please stop and ask for the best restaurants. Locals know best.

And if you really can’t decide, stay at home and make this:

Curry Coconut Rice Bowl
Inspired by the rice bowls of that little hole in the wall restaurant I mentioned earlier. This bowl is an Indian curry twist on a Mexican food favorite. Serves 5.
2.5 cups rice (I used a wild rice mix from Trader Joe’s)
1 can coconut milk + 1 cup water
1 pound shrimp
2 peppers
2 cups corn (I used Trader Joe’s fire roasted frozen corn)
1 red onion
2-3 T spice mix:
2 t chili powder
2 t oregano
2 t curry powder
1 t cumin
pinch paprika
cilantro
lime

Cook rice in coconut milk and water. In a wok/large skillet cook shrimp. When shrimp are pink, set aside in a bowl. In wok/skillet saute veggies until tender. Stir spice mix into rice. Make your bowl + top with lime and cilantro.


Rice hidden beneath all that tasty goodness.

Happy Friday all you weekend warriors!

Lauren

rosemary basil pork chops with grilled peaches + judging doneness of meat

Both Sundays and summers are for grilling in this household. So a Sunday in late July can only mean one thing. Serious father-daughter bonding over a flame.

Now, it’s a puzzle to me why when I suggest chicken pot pie for dinner, my Dad says “sounds great” and walks into the other room and continues watching football. But when I suggest we grill, he’s in the kitchen all hands on deck. In any event, Grill master Dad and I lit up the BBQ for a Sunday supper.


Charcoal grill.


Dinner is served.

Most of this recipe is going to focus on the meat. Now that I have all the men’s attention…

If you’ve cooked at all with meat, you’ll know that different cuts of meat have different cooking times, depending on fat content, type of muscle it is, bone in or out, weight of cut, etc. Things can get tricky and very specific very fast, so I won’t belabor the topic too much. But no matter how or what kind of meat you cook, probably the most important thing is knowing when it’s done. Overcooked meat can become tough while undercooked meat well…food poisoning anyone?

Judging meat doneness can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s when the knives usually start coming out and then our beautiful steaks cut chopped to pieces, peaking inside for any trace of pink. Thankfully, there is a better option. Most professional cooks “feel” their meat with their finger and eye to evaluate the degree of doneness. However, learning how to “feel” when your meat is done is really not that complicated and is something everyone can easily learn how to do with a little practice.

Bleu meat: stage when cooked at surface, warmed but relatively uncooked on the inside. Feels relatively unchanged from it’s raw stage. It should feel like the muscle between your thumb and forefinger when relaxed.

Rare meat: stage when proteins are starting to solidify making the meat more resilient when poked. Feels like thumb-forefinger muscle when you stretch these two fingers apart.

Medium-done meat: stage when proteins have started to denature (change chemical properties) and coagulate (in this case, become firm). You should see red juice leaving the surface of the meat. It will be pale pink on the inside. Feels like the thumb-forefinger muscle when pressing your thumb and forefinger together. 

Well-done meat: stage when nearly all proteins have completely denatured and meat has become stiff. Both juice and interior are dull tan or grey. Should feel like the muscle just to the inside of the thumb when pressing the thumb and forefinger together.
Sources: Exploratorium – Science of Cooking and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

Here’s the recipe.

Pork chops:
3 pork chops ~1.5 pounds
For the marinade combine:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 leaves fresh basil
3 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T honey
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
Pour marinade into zip lock bag with pork chops and marinate for 4-24 hours.
Grill on low-medium heat until you “feel” it’s done. Good thing you now know what that means!

Grilled peaches:
Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Lightly coat with olive oil. Grill for about 5 min, flipping half way through. Serve with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey alongside your pork chops.

Grill master Dad approved.

Lauren