Saturday, April 28, 2012

Clams,Mussels and Iron Springs Resort

J and I wanted to get away this week and we headed to a place we had passed a little over a month ago-Iron Springs Resort.  At that time, we stopped to check out the property and fell in love with it. It wasn't until this past week that we could co-ordinate our time off  with availability of the cabin we wanted to rent. Cabin #2 at Iron Springs.  When we first entered the cabin it felt like home, the sun was shining through the windows and lit up the space with a warmth and comfort that felt so familiar.  There was a king size bed with a fluffy down comforter that looked so inviting and you could see the ocean and Boone Creek from the bed.

Cabin #2 in the glorious sunshine-it's the one on the far right end

We both knew immediately we wanted to come back and spend some time here. This past week we finally did, and we were not disappointed.  The week-end that was forecast as cloudy,cold and grey,turned out to be sunshine,blue skies and perfect ! We sat back and relaxed,caught up on our reading, walked and walked on the beach and just stared out the windows watching the eagles soar above the hills. We had a resident Kingfisher who would visit periodically during the day and the frogs would sing us to sleep at night with the ocean playing it's unending song in the background.

 Iron Springs Lodge circa 1950 from the Iron Springs Website

 Olive Little bought the original cabins and lodge in the 1940s, adding a restaurant where her cinnamon rolls and clam chowder became famous.  She would deliver the chowder and cinnamon rolls in her Model T Ford. Olive ran the place for over 60 years. She lived to be 91 and recently passed away in 2007.  She was an amazing woman, according to her obituary, and a little cantankerous according to her history.  She had a private pilot's license and she studied to obtain an amateur radio operator's license . She was a single woman when she took over ownership and operation of the Iron Springs Resort in 1947.  She married at the resort  9 years later.  I'm sure she would have been one of those fabulous women who have lots of good stories to tell !

Cabin #2 our little retreat from the world

  In 2010 , a family who had been visiting the resort for years purchased it-the True family.  They undertook a major renovation and remodel . You will find little touches like  warm and cozy Pendleton blankets and pillows  along with local artwork; doggie bowls and doggie towels for the pet lovers; comfy beds with fluffy down duvets; completely stocked kitchens (just bring your food or pick up something at the little store on the property);a clam cleaning station and an outdoor fire pit with a gorgeous view of the creek and ocean. According to the history of the resort,Olive selected the location for each cabin to provide a stunning view of the water with the trees surrounding the cabins and providing privacy to the guests.  It's very obvious from the restoration that the new owners love the resort and did a beautiful job of restoring it physically -their restoration kept what I feel was the spirit of the resort. They re-purposed so much of the material from the old cabins and the downed spruce trees-you are surrounded by the history and spirit of the original resort. It's one of those places you go to and it feels good all around you and makes you want to return time and time again.

It was fun reading the notes left by previous guests,even more amazing was how many started with : "our family started visiting in the 50's and  we have returned every year; or my husband (or wife ) grew up here visiting every summer since he or she  was 8years old" .  This wonderful little place seems to be woven into the memories of so many lives. And now we can start our own memories,because we definitely will be back.
(Beautiful photos and a little more about the resort can be found at a blog called "Unlikely Places")

What better meal to enjoy at the beach, but clams and mussels. We sat at the wooden dinner table enjoying the clams and mussels,dipping the crusty bread into the spicy broth ,sipping a cold crisp Washington Chardonnay and gazing at the spectacular view of the ocean-who needed dessert ! 

I have a new "go to" recipe for clams and mussels.  It's Langdon Cook's recipe, that I discovered on our recent shellfish foraging expedition.  I adapted it ever so slightly, using spicy Italian sausage; adding 1 pound of the sausage instead of 1/2 pound; and a little more of the red pepper flakes.
Steamed Shellfish with Wine, Tomato, Sausage & Herbs
Adapted from Langdon Cook
3 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, crumbled
2 yellow onions, chopped 
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 handful mixed fresh herbs, chopped (e.g. thyme, oregano, parsley)
1 1/2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (reduce this to your own taste if don't like the kick from the pepper flakes)
  •  Heat olive oil in deep saute pan or heavy-bottomed pot and brown sausage.
  •  Add onions and garlic; cook until soft.
  •  De-glaze with white wine, making sure to scrape all the brown bits from the pan. Mix in tomatoes with juice, chopped herbs, and pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat.
  • Raise heat to high, dump in shellfish, and cover. Steam until shells open, several minutes.

Good bye ocean ,good bye Iron Springs -for now

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blood Orange Yogurt -Sun Today , Gone Tomorrow

The Weather Channel says it is 68F in Seattle today (April 23).  I'm  looking out the window at the blue skies and my tulips in bloom-gorgeous.  Summer must be just around the corner (she says wishfully ). Keeping my fingers crossed that the weather holds through Saturday since we are heading to the coast this week.  The forecast doesn't look good,but it's Seattle and the forecast can change hourly.  Being in the summertime frame of mind, I've pulled out my ice cream maker from the back of the pantry. Maybe having it in the freezer and ready to go will induce the Sunshine Gods to stick around for a while.

Growing up , Summertime meant Kennywood Park and Dairy Queen ice cream.  I loved that swimming pool. It was huge. The pool measured 357 feet long by 180 feet wide or a total of 64,260 square feet. In comparison a regulation NFL football field is 57,600 square feet! It could hold up to 4500 people,like I said, it was huge. Jumping off the high dive was always an adrenalin high and going down the sliding board, that you see in the background, was like a roller coaster ride splashing into the water !

Kennywood Park Swimming Pool

 Ah those lazy crazy days of summer.My girlfriends and I would walk to Kennywood to swim and sun all day and on the way home stop at the Diary Queen for a soft serve ice cream cone (really we just wanted to flirt with the boys who hung out there). We thought soft serve was the best, we had yet to discover frozen yogurt,gelato,homemade ice cream and sorbet.  If I could afford it I would have a soft serve machine in my kitchen and enjoy frozen soft serve yogurt  and ice cream all the time !  But since I don't , making my own frozen yogurt with my ice cream maker will have to suffice.

Beautiful Blood Orange

I found this recipe over at Kitchen Konfidence. Check it out, Brandon has a gorgeous blog and this recipe was very easy and extremely tasty.  It was like eating the blood orange itself.  Tart and sweet, perfect way to end a meal.

Pouring the blood orange syrup over the Greek yogurt

I should have published this post when it was 68 degrees because the Sunshine Gods did not stay for long. The Grey Skies Gods have returned ! That is okay because I now have this lovely blood orange yogurt to remind me of the sunshine. I will savor each sweet spoonful along with the memories of those wonderful summers of my youth.

 Bon Appetit !

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Good Fish and the Pantry at Delancey

I must have been living in a time warp recently to have missed The Pantry at Delancey.  Thank goodness I recently discovered The Pantry.   I  have gone crazy signing up for classes.  It's my addictive personality,first cookbooks, now cooking classes, who knows what is next.  If you live anywhere within driving distance of Seattle get to a class or two or three-just get there.  The Pantry at Delancey is a community kitchen space and their classes  are very hands on. Or as their web site states: "Imagine a new kind of community space. One where activities are centered around how we grow, buy, cook and eat our foods. A place that brings people together at the table, to cook, eat and learn. Founded by Brandi Henderson, Olaiya Land and Brandon Pettit, The Pantry is a community kitchen offering hands-on Cooking Classes, family-style dinners, private events and locally sourced catering."

Halibut is smoking in the wok and gnocchi boiling in the pot !

The workspace is beautiful, a long wooden community table,large stove,lots of windows -a comfortable learning environment.  And you are up close and personal with your instructor seated at the same table so you can watch everything that is going on.

Grilled squid with tamarind and mint-almost finished

The class I took was : Good Fish: Curing, Smoking, Grilling. The instructor was the fabulous Becky  Selengut, author of Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast . You can read more about her on her blog Cornucopia. And buy her book here.

When I signed up for this class, I expected to learn how to cure albacore,smoke halibut and trout and grill squid.  After buying Becky's book I knew I would also be learning a great deal more about sustainable seafood.  What I didn't expect was the warmth and humor that was served up with the teaching !  Add that to the ambiance of the space and the positive vibes from my fellow classmates -an incredible experience-one that far exceeded my expectations.  Not only did I learn everything I expected to learn, but I also learned how to make dandelion crackers,quinoa cakes,gnocchi , a great marinade, how to convert my wok to a smoker and how to make a good grill fire.  All this and more in 3 hours time.  The class ended far too soon-with a lovely meal that we all prepared.  Yes it was hands on,we didn't just sit back and watch Becky,we actively participated ( for those who would want to watch only we did have the choice to just sit back but the class dove in and wanted to try everything).

Dandelion crackers getting ready for the oven

My purpose in taking this class was to get a little , no make that a lot more,  comfortable with seafood.  I'm "okay" at grilling but I've have always been hesitant to purchase the more expensive types and cuts of fish. I was always fearful that I would burn it,dry it out or under cook it .  This class and Becky's book has changed all of that . Last night I successfully pan seared a beautiful piece halibut .  Now that might not be so difficult for most of you, but I'm into pastry and not so much the savory side of cooking-this was a huge accomplishment for me !

Gin and tonic cured albacore on dandelion cracker

Quinoa cakes with smoked trout and chive sour cream

Stinging nettle sauce and nettle gnocchi with morels, just waiting for the smoked halibut to come out of the smoker

It's a toss up as to which meal we prepared was my favorite, the squid and the quinoa cakes with smoked trout were at the top of my list.  I will definitely be making all of the recipes at home over the next few weeks.  And anxiously counting the days until my next class at The Pantry at Delancey ! You can sign up here to be added to their newsletter mailing so you know when the next round of classes begin. You can check out Becky's How To Videos here.

PS. I did not receive any type of compensation for this blog posting .

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coconut Friands and Blue Eyes

I absolutely love this recipe for French Fridays with Dorie-Coconut Friands. Simple, sweet and so easy to make. They catch you off guard too, unassuming little bites, with their little brown edges. Nothing fancy, no chocolate, no strawberries, no special sauce. But oh so delicious. Simple is good. Wouldn't it be wonderful if life were so simple? Wouldn't it be wonderful if life were as straight forward and as unassuming as these Coconut Friands? I'm suffering from a little melancholia today.

I get a quarterly magazine from the college I attended. I usually glance through it, check out the back of the magazine for updates by class year and then put it in the recycle bin. But there it was, his name, under the obituary listing. I had forgotten about him, mostly. I say mostly because any time I saw a picture of Paul Newman, there he was. No not Paul Newman, but him, the one from college. The same deep blue eyes, the lips pursed, verging on a smile, picture Paul-25 something, but with black curly hair -that was him-blue eyes. I met him at a poker game, he wasn't supposed to be there, and he should have been gone. I spotted blue eyes when I walked into my date's apartment. Blue eyes was sitting by the window, smoking, just gazing out the window, and not facing my direction. I was running late and when I came rushing into the apartment I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the room still filled with my date's poker buddies. I was at a loss for words, I said something silly that made everyone laugh, I don't remember what it was, but everyone laughed, except him-blue eyes. He turned my way, looked straight into my eyes with those deep crystal blue eyes, pursed those lips and gave me just the faintest smile. Honestly, it was like the movies, I was frozen, I couldn't move, and I was melting inside, I felt sure I would melt into a hot mess on the floor. I could feel the flush in my face and I was sure he could see it, I was sure everyone could see it. I somehow clumsily removed myself from the area and went into the living room. Sitting there on the couch, I kept thinking what just happened, who was that, why did he look at me that way; no one had ever looked at me that way. And then, there he was, sitting beside me on the couch, giving me advice on my love life. Really, he didn't know me, he just sat down next to me, his leg brushing ever so slightly against mine, I let out a little gasp (the first of many to come) and here he was telling me I should leave this boy because he was no good, he would only hurt me. Be careful he whispered. I was shaking, what was happening, who is this person and who does he think he is giving me advice? I felt like I could barely breathe, then I got that look again and just as fast as he sat down he walked away ,and I thought ,there he goes - out of my life . I heard him say his good byes to his poker buddies. I was confused and delirious; I still didn't know what was happening. I felt like someone had just given me some crazy drug. "See ya Ed ", my date yelled. Ed that was his name. He was older but I didn't know how much older-I was still lost in those eyes, those lips and that brief touch.

I didn't go out for pizza that night and a few days later I stopped seeing the boy-not because of Ed. I knew the relationship was going nowhere. Ed didn't have to tell me. And then a few weeks later, the sweetest thing happened, Ed called. He heard I wasn't seeing the boy anymore and wondered if I wanted to go to a movie-my heart was pounding, racing, I could feel that flush and light headedness again. I was trying to be cool but I'm sure I wasn't. I could never be cool around Ed, he was unsettling. We dated all summer, he was older, by almost 11 years-I was 17, well 17 1/2 and he was 28. Ed wasn't something I planned on -that relationship was one I never expected. I was an art major, young naive; he was a business major, older, worldly. Corny, right? Not for me-he was my first love at college (sorry J-you are my true love). And he took me under his wing, I think I was his "project", make the young naive small town girl into a woman of the world. Wasn't going to happen-oh I thought it would-I thought I was in love. I said it, he said it too. But he was saying it to several other girls-I didn't find that out until months later. And then it was the end of the summer, kisses and tears and promises that the time would go by quickly and it would be January and we would be together again. (I applied to college at the last minute and couldn't get into the fall semester so I started in the summer, had to skip the fall, and then would go back in January with everyone else) He called, infrequently, that should have been the first clue, but I was still lost in those eyes. And then it was January, by then I had resigned myself -the relationship was over, I wouldn't see him when I started back to school. I checked into the dorm. My roommate was all settled in and after she introduced herself she asked "Who is this Ed guy?", he's left at least a dozen messages for you. I was dizzy, light headed, confused. What did you say? Ed had called for me? And then someone down the hall was yelling that there was a call for me-Ed. We went out that night, I believed all the excuses he was feeding me about why he ignored me from September through December. I didn't care; I was drowning in those eyes. And that smile, there it was again. He took me back to the dorm and said he would call the next day. The next day came and no call, then the second and third day, still no call. Of course, I rationalized things, everyone was busy with registration and catching up with old friends, he said he would call and he would, I just needed to not be so, well, so dam needy. And then on the fourth day I was coming out of the student union and literally collided with him. He looked me straight in the eyes, pursed those lips and kept on walking-not a word, not a nod, nothing. I stood there frozen again by that look. What did I do wrong, what just happened and why ? I cut classes that afternoon, ran back to the dorm and spent the afternoon and all night crying and thinking - what did I do wrong. It wasn't until months later that I could see I had been the victim of a master manipulator. I heard the stories from other "projects’, same story, same pattern, same lies. I hated him for a while, but I could never shake those eyes and that look, that smile. And now he is gone. Good bye sweet blue eyes.

Hello sweet little friand. Head over to French Fridays with Dorie to see what the rest of the group did with this recipe. It's lovely just the way it is, just like me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Like Water for Lemon Loaf -TWD Baking with Julia

 Do you remember the scene in Like Water for Chocolate (by Laura Esquivel) with the rose petals and the quail. Tita is so focused on the love she feels for Pedro that those feelings go into the food and effect the guests eating the quail in wonderful ways.  I've always wanted to try that recipe and I just love that movie ! 

But I digress, I should have been in that mind set when I made this lemon loaf, but I wasn't.  I had just finished work and my last call of the day was a grumpy old man who would ask me a question and every time I started to answer, I would get about 3 words out and he would yell "Shut up, shut up, let me figure it out".  Goodness gracious, 15 minutes of that and trying to be polite and customer focused,whew , I was ready for a drink.  I should have taken a walk and cleared out that grumpy old man,but instead I baked.  Now I know better, I don't know about you but I do know that if I am rushed,frustrated,upset or all of the above, the results are never good.  And this is such a beautiful sweet recipe I should have done it justice and I'm sorry I didn't.  I slightly over baked it. In spite of that and my frame of mind, it was still delicious.

I cut of it's slightly browned bottom, sprinkled some powdered sugar over the top and enjoyed it with a cup of coffee while sitting in my sun room,not pondering grumpy people,but instead thinking, what a pretty little cake. Simple,lemony and delicious. And I pledge from this day forward to never bake without clearing all the cobwebs from my brain along with those bad vibes !

After I had that first slice, I thought I would dress it up a little with some fresh strawberries.  I took a small handful of berries,whirled them around in the mini processor with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and poured it over the cake . I placed a sliced strawberry on top of that with a good dollop of whipped cream-delicious.  The tart taste of the vinegar complimented the sweet strawberries and the whipped cream was perfect.

This is my first recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie Baking with Julia group.  You know how much I love Dorie Greenspan, so when I found this group on line, I jumped at the chance to join.  I already had the book that we use "Baking with Julia " by Dorie Greenspan , and can't wait to bake my way through it with the group.

Buy the Book and join the TWD Baking with Julia

Thank you to Truc at Treats and Michelle at The Beauty of Life for hosting this month,head over and see what they did with this recipe.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sardine Rillettes-French Fridays with Dorie

It's been quite some time since I participated in French Fridays with Dorie and I was a little hesitant to make this my welcome back to French Fridays with Dorie recipe ! Sardine Rillettes-I'm not a sardine fan, J is. So I thought, what is the worst that can happen ? I will hate it and J will love it and eat it all up.  Well this recipe has turned me into a fan of sardines.  Don't turn your nose up, try it-it's not all fishy and salty and smelly-it's incredibly delicious. Of course it is, why did I even doubt a recipe from Dorie -they are always superb and this one is being added to my appetizer and take on a picnic food repertoire. Yes, it is that good ! 

I recommend you use a good quality sardine-I went for the top of the line at my favorite Metropolitan Market in West Seattle and I was not disappointed.  Angelo Parodi and company did all the skinning and boning for me and the sardines, even before they were added to the mix, were quite tasty.  Dorie suggests either cream cheese or Neufchatel and since this is French Fridays I opted for the Neufchatel. My herb mix was primarily dill with a little parsley and chives thrown in and I finally used up the last of the Meyer Lemons for the lemon juice called for in this recipe.

Served with a side of Cornichons and a glass of wine, perfect for sunny Friday afternoon lunch out in the garden !  Head over to French  Fridays with Dorie and see what my fellow Fridayistas created with this recipe.  Better yet, buy the book and join the fun.  Bon Appetit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Strawberrry Crostata-Summer is in the Air

Why is it when holidays come around there just never seems to be enough time left in the day to accomplish everything ?  Maybe it has something to do with me trying to jam too much into a week-end !  At least that was the position I found myself in this past Easter week-end.  I have Friday and Saturdays off, so I planned on doing my prep on Friday for the dessert I was planning for our Sunday family Easter gathering.  But besides that prep, I had to plan on the dessert that I was taking to my shellfish foraging class on Easter Saturday.  See what I mean about trying to jam too much into a week-end.  I wanted something sweet and simple for the family gathering and something that would keep in the refrigerator Friday,Saturday and most of the early part of Sunday and still look and taste fabulous. 

Then this recipe caught my eye on the LA Times web site, or I should say the picture of the beautiful Strawberry Crostata stopped me dead in my tracks. I wasn't even going to read the recipe because I thought something that gorgeous was going to take far too much prep time. But I gave in and perused the recipe. Hmm, that crust sounded easy,no complications; add some mascarpone,top with strawberries,finish off with currant jam and Cointreau; wow this could be done in just a couple of hours. And I was right ,the most complicated part of the process was selecting the strawberries and slicing them. The crust for this is almost like a shortbread and it baked up beautifully. It sat cooling while I worked on my blueberry hand pies. Once it cooled, I added the mascarpone and the strawberries. I wrapped it up ,popped it in the refrigerator until Sunday and voila, just as pretty and fresh looking as when I placed it in the refrigerator ! I encourage you to make it. Your friends will think you spent days slaving over it and I won't tell that you didn't. It's also a nice light dessert to have when there is usually so much other food to have. The mascarpone compliments the fresh strawberries-just a slight creamy sweetness lets the flavor of the strawberries shine.

And speaking of those strawberries- I found some beautiful organic ones from Mexico at my favorite grocery store. They were dark and sweet and oh so good. One of the best things about working with strawberries is how wonderful your work area smells as you are slicing and trimming. It takes me right to summer -I love that smell and all the memories that come with it. The taste of a wild strawberry-so sweet and delicate; the first time I tasted a French Gariguette Strawberry in St. Remy de Provence-the heat from the sun captured inside the sweetness of the berry; my first strawberry milkshake from Gallaghers in Duquesne-thick and creamy with chunks of fresh strawberry; and my mother's strawberry shortcake-always extra heavy on the strawberries and whipped cream. Oh the list goes on and on. And now I can't wait for summer and the Washington berry crop. The recipes are running through my head and the thought of fresh strawberry preserves,just can't wait for the sight of the first "U-Pick" sign !  Until then, I'll be content with a slice of this crostata and a good cup of coffee.  Bon Appetit.


Strawberry Crostata
Servings: 8

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups imported Italian mascarpone cheese
About 2 pints ripe strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup red currant jelly
2 tablespoons Cointreau

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into half-inch thick slices and add to the bowl. Using the tips of your fingers or a pastry blender, work the ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add a scant tablespoon or two of cold water and toss until the mixture just clings together. Gather into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic film and chill 30 minutes.

2. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch spring form pan. Press out evenly across the bottom and about 1 inch up the side. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Freeze 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Bake the crust until it is set and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely.

4. Spread the mascarpone evenly over the cooled crust. Arrange the strawberries decoratively over the top in overlapping rows.

5. Combine the jelly and Cointreau in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the jelly dissolves. Lightly brush over the strawberries to glaze. Chill 1 hour before cutting.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blueberry Hand Pies and Shellfish Foraging

I've been so excited all month, just waiting for Saturday, April 7. Why you ask?  It's Shellfish Foraging time with Langdon Cook-forager extraordinaire and author of Fat of the Land:Adventures of a 21st Century Forager.  I signed J and I up for the class through Bainbridge Island Parks and Recreation and had been looking forward to it for over a month now. And when I received the email with directions and instructions on what to bring I felt that same excitement you feel just before opening Christmas presents !
 Please bring the following:
- rubber boots
- bucket
- digging tool such as a short-handled garden cultivator
- rain gear and sunglasses (you never know!)
- bowl, cup, fork, spoon (we're asking you to bring your own to cut down on paper waste)
- water/snack
Gloves are also recommended. Wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty (an extra set is a good idea). We'll be preparing a shellfish feast in the afternoon; feel free to bring adult beverages to complement the food and/or an appetizer such as cheese or salami.

Forget the salami bring on the oysters ! I kept thinking what could I bring that would be as good as freshly harvested oysters and clams-NOTHING !!  So I opted for dessert,something that would travel well,could be made ahead of time and would be a simple compliment to what I anticipated would be excellent food in the great Pacific Northwest Outdoors . I'm cup caked out so I thought pie. Pie would be good,not too heavy,easy to transport,wouldn't need to worry about refrigeration and if I made little hand pies I could forget about the whole mess of cutting into a pie.  I had squirreled away Smitten Kitchen's pie crust recipe a while back and thought why not try it now. It sounded heavenly and looked beautiful, all brown and flaky.

Smitten Kitchen's recipe did not disappoint.  This and Kate McDermott's are now officially my only go to recipes for pies.  I haven't made hand pies with Kate's recipe yet , but that is a blog saved for another day. I knew this crust was going to be outstanding when I saw all the little checkerboard pieces of butter showing through as I rolled it out.  All I could think of was flaky flaky flaky . And watching them puff up in the oven and take on that beautiful golden brown color,well it was all I could do to restrain myself from stealing one out of the oven and biting in to it.  But I did. Almost. I made sure it was completely baked ,then carefully broke of a piece,watched the steam rise from the blueberries,then  bit into the hot filling .  Oh so worth the little burn on the tongue,the crust was exactly what I anticipated, flaky,crisp and not too sweet-perfection.

The blueberry filling I made was 2 cups of fresh blueberries with enough blueberry jam to just coat the berries.  I used a 3 1/2 inch fluted tart cutter , then placed a mounded scoop of the blueberry mixture in the center of the dough. I used the egg glaze and gently dotted the edges of the dough to aid in sealing the top to the bottom. I glazed the hand pies with the egg mixture from Smitten Kitchen's recipe,sprinkled on some crystal sugar and baked at 400F for 10 minutes and reduced the oven to 350F and baked for an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown.  I also made the strawberry rhubarb filling included with Smitten Kitchen's recipe and it was delicious.

 I carefully wrapped my little sweetie pies in brown baking paper and tucked them into their carriers for the trip over to the Hood Canal.  Little did I know when wrapping these,  that they would pale in comparison to the perfection of the day we experienced with Langdon Cook and the rest of the group during the shellfish foraging class.

The day started out just beautifully,blue blue skies and sunshine-two things that have been in short supply in the Pacific Northwest.

We met the rest of the group, a serendipitous group of people who came from as far as British Columbia for this experience; our instructor- Langdon Cook; our shellfish expert-John Adams from Taylor Shellfish (p.s thank you John Adams for your generosity in sharing the bounty from Taylor Shellfish and even more thank you for sharing your extraordinary knowledge !) and the organizer of this class- the incredible Jeff Ozimek from Bainbridge Parks and Recreation.(Check out the Bainbridge Parks link-Jeff did a wonderful job of organizing and keeping this group in high spirits !) We gathered up our shell fishing "tools' and headed to the tide flats.

The beauty of our surroundings matched the excitement of slurping that first oyster fresh from the water. Just before we started our hunt for oysters,as if on cue, a bald eagle and osprey appeared above us.  The eagle was chasing the osprey, trying to get it to release it's catch of the morning.  We all stood awestruck just watching the dance of the battle they performed in the skies above us, and then one of those once in a lifetime things happened. The eagle knocked the fish out of the talons of the osprey, the eagle dove and triumphantly capturing the loosened fish in one gorgeous swoop. We just couldn't believe our good luck in witnessing that-what a blessing and what a way to start foraging in the wild .

I can't begin to tell you how incredibly sweet and salty and tasty this first oyster was. Just a little squeeze of lime , slurp and chew-no restaurant or chef could recreate that moment or that taste.

We took our treasures and headed back to the picnic area to enjoy our harvest.  All I could think of was how incredibly fortunate and blessed I was to be in these beautiful surroundings, with a group of such warm and friendly people,eating something so delicious and fresh from Nature.  And yet there was more to come-how could that be ?  How could this day be improved upon ? Could it really get any better than it already was ?

Everyone brought something to add to the table; we had smoked salmon, salami, fresh strawberries,a variety of cheeses,good crusty bread, olives,wine,beer and champagne.  Add that to the oysters and clams and food that was being cooked for dinner-a 5 star picnic indeed !

Lang preparing his version of Tom Douglas's Mignonette Sauce for the oysters-a must have for the oysters.  J, who had an intense dislike for oysters, started slurping oysters practically non-stop after adding this Mignonette sauce to the oysters !

Ahh, the magic mignonette. And here is Tom Douglas's recipe for the magic sauce.  Lang suggests adding a little Togarashi (Japanese chili spice) for a little kick if you like.
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Fresh ground pepper ,season to taste

Mix everything in a glass jar-great to prepare ahead of time,put on ice, and take with you to the beach-enjoy slurping those oysters.

 John's:How to shuck an oyster without stabbing yourself class.  I fell in love with the wooden slab he uses for shucking.

John watching over one of his shucking students !

Nom,nom,nom...Pacifics,Olympias aka Olys (my personal favorite) and Kumamoto oysters

Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words-everyone was so intent on savoring every bite of this meal.

Clams with Italian Sausage, Tomato & Wine

Langdon's recipe for Clams with Italian Sausage,Tomato & Wine can be found here on his blog, Fat of the Land.  This is a keeper recipe for me and it's how I will be preparing my clam bounty for dinner tonight.  That broth was so clam juicy and made a delicious dipping sauce for the crusty bread we had on hand. ( We also had some Thai Red Curry Clams, but I was so enamored with the Italian version I never got to try that recipe. J assured me it was just as delicious as the Italian version.)

Good bye Hood Canal and Dosewallips State Park, until the next time,and there will definitely be a next time.

Our absolutely incredible view from the ferry back to Seattle-what a way to end a perfect day !

As I finish writing this, J is at Uwajimaya buying us some oyster shucking tools and I'm getting ready to make up some Mignonette sauce for the oysters that are chilling in the refrigerator.  More pie dough is also chilling in the refrigerator.  We will be spending the rest of the day slurping oysters at my sister's and eating blueberry hand pies !  I suggest you get over to Lang's blog and the Bainbridge Parks and Recreation site and see if you can still get into one of these classes.  If it's full,there will be more during the Summer and into the Fall. If you can't make it, well so sad for you, but Taylor Shellfish has an online store-enjoy and Bon Appetit !


Click here for Smitten Kitchen's recipe and enjoy her beautiful blog,it's another one I find myself spending hours on !