Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buckle

Well just last Saturday I completed the Tour de Blast bicycle ride that I have been training for all summer. The ride was just over 82 miles round trip into the blast zone of Mt. St. Helens. Our highest elevation at Johnston Ridge viewpoint was 4,314 feet however throughout the hilly course of the ride we climbed a total of 6,240 feet. I did the ride with some very dear friends and co-workers and would not have wanted to complete the ride without them.

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Lemon Buttermilk Scones with Lavender Infused Honey

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I recently posted my Lavender Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and mentioned that I was looking forward to visiting the Lavender Festival in Sequin, Washington.  Well, we went and the fields of lavender were stunning and beautiful.  I was not aware that there are so many different species of lavender.  There is even white lavender!  

Our first stop was at a lavender farm called Purple Haze and it was impressive.  The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for an outing and the purple flowers were being visited with hundreds of bees.  We stopped at one of the vendors and purchased a small jar of honey that was infused with lavender and I immediately  thought, “scones and lavender honey”.  

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Spicy Tomato Fennel Soup

Spicy Tomato Fennel Soup

Tomorrow I will be riding the Tour de Blast bicycle ride that I have been training for with my friend. It will be an 82-mile (132 K) round trip ride into the blast zone of Mount St. Helens. Over the 82-mile course we will climb a total of 6,240 vertical feet, however, our highest elevation will be 4,314 feet.The weather forecast looks great, it will be sunny with a high of 82° so I will be dressing for warm weather with the exception of some arm warmers to wear at the beginning of the ride as the early morning chill will be about 50°.

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Grilled Swordfish Steak with Lemon-Dill Aioli Sauce

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What’s for dinner?   Grilled swordfish….yum.  Every now and then I spot a nice swordfish steak, grab it and instantly plan a mental menu.   That is if it is an American swordfish and not imported, this swordfish is from the waters of the Pacific….specifically from Hawaii.  Also, this is the perfect weather for grilling it in the backyard.   Swordfish is a nice meaty, firm-fleshed fish that reminds me of Ahi tuna in the texture, or Mahi-Mahi although quite different in taste.  

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Baba Ganoush

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Baba Ganoush means ‘pampered papa’ in Arabic and it is an appetizer that is a mainstay in the Middle East and it is served with pita bread but it is also used as a side dish.  The eggplant is roasted to a char, usually over a flame for a smoky taste, then when it is cool it is peeled and the pulp is mashed into a puree and mixed with different seasonings.

I found this recipe in my Time Life, Foods of the World-Middle Eastern cookbook and served it with some crisp pita bread that I cut into strips and baked to a cracker-like dipper.  Asparagus was handy in my refrigerator and it tasted great with this dip as well and it keeps the calorie count down, plus, eggplant is really low in calories with zero fat.  This is a traditional recipe and there are many variations where different herbs and spices are included such as cumin and chili.  These directions are for roasting the eggplant in the oven under a broiler.

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50th Anniversary Cake Design

50th Anniversary cake

Some dear friends recently celebrated their 50th anniversary and asked if I could make the cake. This cake is a vanilla butter cake with lemon curd filling and Italian Meringue buttercream. I had to make the sugar paste roses and leaves 2 weeks early to ensure enough dry time and prevent any last minute rushing. The leaf and branch design on the sides of the tiers were done with a stencil.

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Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken and Chipotle Dressing

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Late Saturday afternoon, Don had a spur-of-the-moment idea that we go for a drive to the Olympic National Park the next day right after church.  And, why not take a picnic lunch and a nice bottle of wine?

Sounded good to me!  The weather forecast said that it would be in the 90’s and that is hot for Western Washington.  Great day to get out of the house.  Besides, Don has been working hard all week ripping off the front deck, repairing some dry-rot and now he has next week to put a new deck top on.  What a guy!  He deserves a break.

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Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms

Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms

Wild rice takes quite a while to cook and by the time I get home from work I don’t want to wait an hour for dinner to be ready, especially if it is already after 6pm when I get home. To help make weeknight dinners quick and easy, I will often make a large side dish like this wild rice pilaf on the weekend and serve it with a couple of meals during the week. Once I get home from work, I can quickly grill a salmon fillet, steam some broccoli and heat up the rice pilaf all in time to have dinner on the table within 15 minutes. Easy peasy!!

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Lemon-Dill Aioli Sauce

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The first time I saw aioli sauce on a menu with a fish entree I did not know what to expect and was surprised to find that is was like a mayonnaise.   It is basically made in the same way as mayonnaise with garlic and any herbs that you want to jazz it up.  I chose dill here as it is a great accompaniment to fish.  It was also delicious mixed in with my tuna salad for a sandwich.

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Coconut Cake with Awesome Coconut Butter-Cream Frosting

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We have a brand-new great-grandbaby, born August 2, 2014!  Our granddaughter, Rosemarie and her husband Travis are the proud new parents of a beautiful baby boy.   They have been blessed!  This is our third great-grandchild but it is the only one living close enough that I can cuddle as the other two live too far away.

Our son, Ron and his wife, Lisa will be arriving at our house on August 19th from North Dakota and will be visiting with us for a week.  I’m not sure how much of them I will be seeing though, as this is their first grandchild and they will probably be hanging out with the new parents and that little baby boy.  

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