Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Supper

Remember Sunday supper at grandma's? If you were lucky enough to experience it, you're doubtless left with memories to last a lifetime. I recall grandma's special baked chicken (somehow no one else seems to be able to make it quite the same), green beans, mashed potatoes, and fruit salad, with berry cobbler for dessert. Swedish rye bread made according to the family recipe was served on the side, for no dinner could be complete without bread on the table.
Another great thing about Sunday dinner at grandma's (well, besides the company, of course)? Mom didn't have to cook! At least, I assume that must have been a blessing. As much as I love to cook, it's nice to let someone else take charge occasionally. And after a very full weekend, the prospect of Sunday supper at Volunteer Park Cafe may not have quite the same allure as grandma's, but it sure sounded good.

Fortunately for us, it tasted even better than it sounded. Light poured in through the open door onto the long communal table that runs the length of the cafe where Michael, Lewissa, and I took our seats. For Seattle, it had been a hot day - over 80 degrees! - but the evening warmth was pleasant, comfortable enough for me to wear the long-sleeved shirt I'd chosen to cover my newly sunburnt arms. Refreshed with beer, wine, and citrus agave water, we eyed the blackboard list of coming courses.

The idea behind the Sunday supper is a simple one: use what's in season, food from the garden, and serve it up family style. With a couple of musicians providing a low key soundtrack for the meal, we passed around giant enamel pots of salad, then meatloaf with onion gravy, silken mashed potatoes, and green beans. This was food that would no doubt have felt right at home on grandma's table, although it was admittedly a bit gussied up compared with the dinners I remember from childhood. The vegetarian offering was sweet pea risotto, something that never appeared at the grandparents' house, but the pop of fresh green peas amid creamy rice topped with succulent pea vines and a lemony, melt-in-you-mouth creamy cheese brought the taste of summer home.

After all that, it was hard to find room for dessert, but somehow we managed. Still warm from the oven, we received slices of golden-crusted blueberry buttermilk pie. The buttermilk custard lent a soft tang to the sweetness of the berries, and the crust was perfectly crisp and buttery. Pie is the ultimate in summer desserts, and a good Sunday supper is the ultimate end to a perfect summer weekend.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

They Say It's My Birthday

Another birthday come and soon to be gone. It's not a day I choose to loudly celebrate, although it is a good excuse to encourage Michael to do whatever I wish. Of course, that might work more to my advantage if I could actually determine what my wish really is.

We are not romantic when it comes to presents. Last year, I bought myself a DSLR camera, and declared that to be my gift. It's a good way to justify an expensive purchase.

"What do you want for your birthday?" Michael asked last week.

"I want to go for dinner at the Tin Table and swing dancing at the Century Ballroom," I replied, quite truthfully.

"No, what do you want? For a present?"

"Nothing," I was honestly perplexed at this question.

"Isn't there any kitchen thing you want?" Michael persisted. Ah, the"kitchen thing". I like to cook and Michael likes to eat, so what could be more perfect? So goes the rationale, at any rate. Hence I will be getting a new chef's knife and a pasta attachment for the KitchenAid mixer. Michael ordered them online this morning, and couldn't wait to tell me.

"Do you want to know what you're getting for your birthday?"

"Uh, no."

"Do you want to know?"


"Wouldn't you like to know?" Michael pulls me into an embrace, looking adorable.

"OK. It seems you really want to tell me. What am I getting?" I relent. There went the mystery, but I have to admit I cracked a smile at the mention of the pasta attachment. After all, homemade pasta is the way to anyone's heart.