Archive for November, 2009

End of Summer Barbecue

November 22, 2009

To mark the end of summer, my birthday, and just for fun, we had a few friends over for a backyard barbecue. Ku, Adrian, Mia, Dave, Shelly, Hank, Nhi, Katrina, Leya, Ewan, and Leo helped us eat a mountain of kebabs, sausages, potato salad, tomato salad, margaritas, guacamole, and Carl’s special blackberry pies from berrys foraged along the Beacon Hill bike path.

The spread. Note the many near empty wine bottles in background.

Ku and Hank, hangin’ in the shade

A highlight of the afternoon was the Liangs’ gift of a bottle of Bakon vodka, a new, Northwest-produced vodka that tastes scarily like everyone’s favorite cured pork product. After a round of shots, our reactions were mixed. Some liked the vodka, some felt it would be best served in a Bloody Mary or other savory cocktail, and some agreed with Ewan’s assessment:

We all had a great time hanging around in the back yard, eating, drinking, and laughing – the perfect way to end summer in Seattle!

Leo and Mia enjoying blackberry pie

Nhi and Carl



Long Weekend In Seaview

November 22, 2009

Had a great, relaxing weekend at Lisa and Buzz’s place in Seaview, WA. The weather was beautiful and we spent our days walking the beach, visiting the farmer’s market in Ilwaco and antique shops in Astoria, poking around Forts Columbia and Canby, eating fried seafood, drinking wine, and reading in the back yard.

The ocean at Cape Disappointment

Oysterville, WA

Carl reading in the back yard.

The port at Ilwaco on a rainy Saturday

When we were through with our adventures for the day we’d retire back to the roost and cook up dinner in the house’s tiny but well-stocked kitchen.

One day it was raining and I decided to doctor up some tomato soup for a simple but hearty and tasty dinner.  Tomato soup is a great base for all sorts of main course soups – you can add all manner of  veggies, pasta, rice, even tofu to liven things up. The below recipe is a little simpler, owing to limited ingredients, but felt perfect for a weekend beach house type of meal, or one for a cool night at home when you’re pressed for time.


Chunky Tomato Soup with Cheese Toasts


1 large can or the better part of a 28 oz. box of tomato soup

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbs. olive oil

a pinch of crushed red pepper

herbs de provence or a mix of oregano, basil, rosemary, and other savory herbs

salt and pepper

1/2 cup whole milk or cream (optional)

half a baguette or loaf of french or crusty bread

grated parmesan cheese

parsley (optional)


For the soup, heat the oil and garlic in a sauce pan until garlic is fragrant. Add the whole tomatoes and cover. Cook until tomatoes start to burst, about 5-10 minutes. You can help this along with the flat end of a wooden spoon to get them nice and saucy. Add the red pepper, stir, and cook another minute. Add the herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Pour in soup and simmer to combine flavors. If using, stir in milk or cream right before taking off heat.

In the meantime, make crostini by brushing slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkling with cheese and parsley. Cook under the broiler 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.

Serve the soup with chopped basil leaves, a sprinkle of grated cheese, or just pepper, with the crostini on the side for dunking.