Monday, April 26, 2021

Cooking Club - Pacific Northwest

Our theme for this club was the.....

Of which I have a vested interest because I grew up there, in the southeast part of Washington and the northeastern part of Oregon.
There is so much food to talk about!
The PNW includes Washington, Oregon and part of Idaho--(the borders are fluid, but they like to be included most of the time, even tho, they are not 'pacific' but they are northwest)
I'm sure when you think of food in the PNW,  salmon comes to mind first and foremost, but we downplayed the salmon this time, because there is NO WAY we could have gotten in ALL the diverse food the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Let me just begin at the beginning--oh wait--there's a dog!

It's Riley, the Goldendoodle!
Everybody has to stop and appreciate a dog, right? LOL
She is lovely.

Okay--back to the beginning....
April and Doug hosted Cooking Club this time and we live in landlocked Nevada, so what did they do?  They went to a fresh seafood place in Reno and special ordered oysters.

Just a quick thought on that---

Early European settlers who arrived in Washington were fueled by Manifest Destiny and held the belief that all natural resources were a gift from God.

I believe!  Oysters certainly are a gift from God!
And we thanked God that April and Doug went and found some great oysters to grill for us.

  • Washington produces more oysters than any other state
  • 5 species of oyster are grown here
  • There are over 330 commercial shellfish growers in our state
  • The industry provides over 2,700 jobs
  • Oysters and shellfish generate over $184 million per year in revenue
  • The industry is supported by strong statewide environmental laws, clean water, and good natural habitat for growing oysters.
  • Washington state is the only state in the country that allows for the private ownership of tidelands (other states hold them in trust)

Doug wore his trusty oyster shucker gloves!  And April made some heaven sent sauces to top the oysters with. 
 (do you see what I did there?  Oysters are a gift from God and April made sauces that were heaven sent!  I'm hysterical.  Of course I have to point it out to  you to make sure you get it. )

Sally is making sure Doug is taking care of things!

And ta da!  the end result.  So good! 
They tasted like the sea.
There was a garlic butter sauce and a bleu cheese sauce and a hot sauce to dab on top.
We started off with oysters and salmon cakes--yes, we had salmon cakes, we couldn't leave salmon from the Pacific Northwest out of the equation completely.
And wine and beer from Washington State.

We enjoyed sitting in their lovely backyard (it doesn't even look like high desert, does it?) and visiting.  And eating.  We are all foodies.
We did not have a quiz on PNW cuisine, no one gave a report, but...but.. 
We did have some fun discussion on which state, if we had to kick one out of the union, would we kick out.
For the record, no one could agree--all states have their pros and cons--but we did all get a good laugh over one another's reasons for their choice.
Like Wisconsin says bubblers for a water fountain or drinking fountain.
NO ONE says bubbler.
But we couldn't kick out Wisconsin because Paul and Sally are from there and he does say bubbler.
And so the conversation went.... so funny.

Rogue River Beer!  From the Rogue River in Oregon--
WHICH, April and Doug have rafted down.
See how we can bring our themes together? 😀

Debbie E brought salmon cakes with a couple of homemade sauces.
So yummy!

Nothing better than gathering!
And we miss it so.

As you know, we do have to defend our choices for the theme.  We have to be at the ready.
I had the side dish, so of course I made 3, BECAUSE there is just so much diverse food in the PNW.
First, I made a wheat salad.

Yes, a wheat salad--with wheat berries.  
I also made a lentil salad.
One--my granddad was a wheat farmer in northeast Oregon.
People always think of fish and berries being food of the PNW, but on the eastern side of Washington State and into Idaho they grow wheat and lentils

The Palouse (/pəˈls/ pə-LOOSS) is a distinct geographic region of the northwestern United States, encompassing parts of north central Idahosoutheastern Washington, and, by some definitions, parts of northeast Oregon. It is a major agricultural area, primarily producing wheat and legumes.

Wheat grown on the Palouse yields up to 100 bushels an acre, twice the national average.

The Palouse region of eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle, with its commercial center at Pullman, Washington, constitutes the most important lentil-producing region in the United States.

And that is why I had to represent the East Side!

The wheat salad is a fruit salad--wheat berries, whipped cream, marshmallows and fruit.
What can I say?

The Lentil salad has apple slices in it and Washington is produces a lot of apples.
Trying to include ALL that the PNW is famous for is hard.

and last but not least for a side dish was my mom's cucumbers and onions.
not just any onions BUT 
Walla Walla Sweet Onions!
They are the Vidalia of the west.
(and  yes, there really is a Walla Walla, Washington.  It's not just on the Bugs Bunny cartoon. )

Walla Walla Sweet Onions have a distinctly different flavor — milder and sweeter — than any other onion. Generations of selective cultivation and the perfect combination of climate and volcanic soil low in sulphur compounds (that give ordinary onions their harsh bite) work in synergy to produce the world’s sweetest onion.

And then we were ready!  Ready to eat!
We had shrimp linguini.
Crab cakes
wheat salad
lentil salad
cucumbers and onions
and a beautiful table to set them all on.

These 2 rarely smile.
(but we love them anyway)

And then we ended the evening with chocolate cake made with coffee--the PNW is known for  their coffee--and a rhubarb/berry cobbler  (Marion Berries and Huckleberries only grow in the PNW)

And then we just ate and talked as the night got darker.

We did end the evening with everyone receiving the quintessential PNW Treat of Aplets and Cotlets. 
We all loved them, but they might be an acquired taste. 
Have you ever had one?

And as I leave  you with our Cooking Club memories please note that there was a halo over Doug's head.  It's all making sense to me now--
Oysters are a gift from God  (and Doug got them for us)
The sauces were heaven sent?  April made them. 
Halo?  It's a sign.
Breaking bread or slurping oysters from a shell with friends is kind of sacred in its way.

The end!
This was the best cooking club ever!

And these cooking club meals were all good too... just click on the link to see.

Cooking Club #2- Cajun Cooking

Cooking Club #3 - Let's all go to Hawaii

Cooking Club #5 - Famous Chefs  (long post with other stuff mixed in, but just trust me)

Cooking Club #6 -Meatball Madness -- or something round  (long post combined with Famous Chef's.  Scroll thru some stuff to get there)

Cooking Club #7 - Breakfast for dinner

Cooking Club #8 - Slow Cooking

Cooking Club #9 - Mexican Street Food

Cooking Club #12 - It's all Greek to Me!

Cooking Club #13 - A Root Beer Tasting Holiday

Cooking Club #14 - Thai Food

Cooking Club #15- Pizza

Coming Soon --
Cooking Club Scavenger Hunt
Milk Street Mania
9x13 cooking
Jewish Deli Night
Italian Dinner

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Cooking Club--pizza


Pizza!  Pizza Pie!

Welcome to my Cooking  Club Post!

It happened to be Pizza night ( 3 years ago--oh my!)  because Paul got a brand new pizza oven.  One that goes right on top of his Webber Grill.


It was a small group of Cooking Clubbers, but some very serious ones.
See how all the guys are making sure Paul is using his pizza oven correctly?

All kidding aside, it was a fun evening of reminiscing and visiting.
I've always thought that having people over to dinner and breaking bread together (we always have bread!  This time in the form of pizza crust) is kind of sacred in it's way. Connecting with friends over food is one of the greatest joys in life.
This past year has been a crazy one for getting together---
---Pizza Night was 3 years ago. 
---and then we had 6 more Cooking Clubs. (I will post soon, I promise)
--Covid hit and we met no more.
--until November 2020
--where Sally said  "I'll never more take for granted the pleasure of small talk with friends over a good meal"

So, when I say that we had a fun evening of visiting, that is nothing to scoff at or take for granted.
Friends and food are important!
Just this afternoon a text was going around, trying to find time to get together for another cooking club get-together.  It's hard to do.
Half of this group is retired now and as April pointed out  
Retired People tend to run a muck!!
They really do!  and it makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Pizza is important too!
See some of our homemade pizza's below.

This one was made in the oven--not the pizza oven.  I can't remember why exactly.  It's been three years!  LOL.  

This was my appetizer pizza. 
The veggie bars with the crescent roll crust?  I just made it into a pizza shape.

The only photo of our dessert brownie pizza slices!  Almost covered with ice-cream.
And a good carrot cookie.
Made with love by April.

Let's go back to the beginning for a minute--
Before their guests (all of us) arrived, Sally and Paul were busy with this:

And once we got there--- they did this:

Paul is going to give it his best shot!

Ta Dah!!

Before we ate, we enjoyed a cocktail on the deck--then it got too cold to eat outside so we ventured inside.
Where Debbie quickly put the finishing touches on her grilled romaine salad.

Where we ate and reminisced about old pizza parlors and then had to tell our spouses favorite pizza and see if we got it correct.
Spoiler alert!
We all did.   We know our partners well.

We all remembered having "homemade" pizza like this when we were growing up in the 60's and 70's.
It all came out of a box!  We were lucky if our mom's could find some sliced pepperoni to put on top.

So...table talk was remembering Shakey's Pizza Parlor. All of us had memories of it --the dark  parlor with a fireplace and long tables.  They  had big windows where you could watch the pizza makers putting everything together and then slide it into that oven.  It was so cool!
We all loved Shakey's.
Those of us from the Pacific Northwest all knew and loved Pizza Pete Pizza. And Godfather's Pizza was another one we all remembered. 
Now those were good pizzas!

Everyone's favorite pizza?
Our spouses guessed right!

Sally- bee sting   prosciutto  jalapenos and honey

Charlie -- Canadian bacon and pineapple and pepperoni  (he's indecisive his wife says--but he agreed)
Deb E -- Canadian bacon and pineapple

Rich--pepperoni  black olives and mushrooms
me/Debbie-- chicken Thai pizza

Doug -- pepperoni and extra cheese
April --pepperoni and extra cheese

I always find it interesting when couples like the exact same thing.  Rich and I NEVER do. Never ever.

Later table talk started being about foods we would or wouldn't eat (it IS a food themed club after all). Who would eat snails?  Or worms?  Or insects?
Well guess what?  Sally served us a cocktail that was very good!  Very good.
Very . Good.

This liquor was colored by an insect up until 2006!  LOL
We all got a good laugh over that.

Campari is an alcoholic liqueur, considered an apéritif (20.5%, 21%, 24%, 25%, or 28.5% ABV, depending on the country in which it is sold), obtained from the infusion of herbs and fruit (including chinotto and cascarilla) in alcohol and water. It is a bitters, characterised by its dark red colour.
Campari is often used in cocktails and is commonly served with soda water or citrus juice, or with prosecco as a spritz. It is produced by the Alfredo Campari Group, a multi-national company based in Italy.


It was the best Cooking Club ever!
(except for our missing friends)
It was a great evening with the best friends ever!

And these cooking club meals were all good too... just click on the link to see.

Cooking Club #2- Cajun Cooking

Cooking Club #3 - Let's all go to Hawaii

Cooking Club #5 - Famous Chefs  (long post with other stuff mixed in, but just trust me)

Cooking Club #6 -Meatball Madness -- or something round  (long post combined with Famous Chef's.  Scroll thru some stuff to get there)

Cooking Club #7 - Breakfast for dinner

Cooking Club #8 - Slow Cooking

Cooking Club #9 - Mexican Street Food

Cooking Club #12 - It's all Greek to Me!

Cooking Club #13 - A Root Beer Tasting Holiday

Cooking Club #14 - Thai Food

Coming Soon -- Pacific Northwest Region
Cooking Club Scavenger Hunt
Milk Street Mania
9x13 cooking
Jewish Deli Night
Italian Dinner

Happy Eating Everybody!

See you next time.

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