Breastfast Poutine (for dinner from someone who has never had poutine before)


Disclaimer: I have never had proper poutine before.  I have only been to Canada once, and I didn’t really eat anything. I just remember drinking.  Cheap drinks up there, eh?

This week, Henry and I took our newly 2 month old, Graycen Olivia to California to see some Redwoods.  And by “see some Redwoods,” I mean sleep or cry (but mostly sleep) through the entire car ride.  On the way home, we stopped in Bandon, Oregon, for a much needed breast feeding sesh and coffee for mama.  Desperately, I pulled into the first large-ish parking lot, Face Rock Creamery. I changed a diaper, and Henry went inside to scope the coffee. Diaper changed, Henry came out and told me they had ice cream, wine, and cheese. So of course, we all went in. What an amazing little place.  We tasted so many awesome cheeses and I got enough coffee to sustain me for the rest of the drive home.  We bought some cheese curds, just ’cause, and Henry suggested poutine.  When we got home, neither of us wanted to go to the grocery store for what we needed to make proper poutine (which neither of us have had), and so Henry and and I came up with a breakfast poutine idea.


  1. Hand off baby so you can have a drink and cook dinner
  2. Take the drink your husband makes you and make it stronger
  3. Make sausage gravy
  4. Make hashbrowns
  5. Layer garlic cheese curds between hashbrowns and gravy.
  6. Eat


Things No One Told Me


I did my fair share of reading during my pregnancy. I hate surprises…I need to know what’s happening, why it’s happening, etc.  I learned as much as I could and felt somewhat prepared for each step of the way.  Each new pain, soreness, symptom, and movement within was welcomed because, for the most part, they were expected.  I loved it, loved being pregnant.  If I hadn’t been too fat to skip, I would have skipped with joy on a daily basis.  Then the due date came. And went.  The doctor told me I was 3cm dilated one day and three days later, 1cm dilated.  We planned on inducing if nothing happened on its own.  This was something I hadn’t planned for. What was worse, the doctor said I might need a C section because Graycen was projected to be between 8-10 pounds and he wasn’t certain her head would fit through my pelvis.  Each day past my due date was the longest day of my life. I was no longer skipping and singing with the woodland creatures, ala Snow White. I was gnashing my teeth and terrorizing the neighborhood.  What’s worse is that I was finishing my capstone class for my M.Ed. and my teacher told me that she didn’t care that I was pregnant and that I was just trying to get out of work.  Six long days came and went and I finally felt labor pains.  I finished my homework, submitted it, and started timing my contractions.

I went into labor around 3am Saturday morning and had my baby Saturday evening at 5:58, after 23 minutes of active pushing.  It was the hardest, easiest thing I had ever done in my life.

There was so much about my experience that I expected and so much that blind-sided me.  So I thought I’d compile a list of things that happened to me that no one prepared me for, just in case someone comes across my list and I share something with them that they hadn’t heard during their research sessions.

  1.  Morning sickness can be triggered by sounds.  Taylor Swift, in particular.  Every morning, I was commuting 30 minutes to work, fighting nausea every stinking mile, hoping I wouldn’t have to pull over to puke.  It was an exercise in willpower for sure.  That winter, Taylor Swift’s song Blank Space played every morning at like 6:54 am.  And then I would pull into my spot at work at 7 and throw up.  Just hearing that song makes my stomach hurt, even today.
  2. You can leak milk way before you go into labor.  I think I was leaving wet spots every where two weeks prior.
  3. After you get through your morning sickness phase, and get into your “I could eat everything” phase, the baby will have grown and started to press into your stomach, giving you your own personal temporary lapband procedure.  I was starving, but couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to.  It was torture.
  4. I lost 35 pounds overall after it was all said and done.  It is awesome.  I credit this to breast feeding and not having the same wine drinking habit I had prior to being pregnant.  I haven’t been this skinny in like 10 years. Go me.
  5. Everyone talks about problems with pooping during and post pregnancy.  I had no issues with that. I’m sure you needed that information.  What I did struggle with was feeling like I needed to pee for four weeks post partum.  I would accidentally go all day without peeing.  I didn’t have any urge to go.  Then, I would think that was odd, so I’d go to the bathroom. And pee for minutes and minutes and minutes.  So I recommend making yourself go to the bathroom even if you don’t have the urge because you could definitely end up with a bladder infection.
  6. Everyone says that if breast feeding hurts, you’re doing it wrong.  They also say that the first three days after you come home from the hospital are hard in regards to breastfeeding and everything else that comes along with a newborn.  I didn’t know that the baby would come out needing to learn how to eat.  I knew that I’d have to learn, but for some reason, I thought she’d know how to breastfeed. Big. fat. nope.  And it hurt for weeks.  And I was sure I was doing it wrong.  And I was sure I couldn’t make enough for her.  We even started supplementing her with formula because she lost so much weight in the first 36 hours, waiting for my milk to come in. I hated every minute of breastfeeding.  It was agonizing. Cracked and bleeding nipples are horrible…and that on top of a healing episiotomy…I was miserable. But one day, it didn’t hurt anymore.  And she was eating and I wasn’t screaming on the inside anymore.  Now, look forward to our private time together, and I never thought I would.  I’m grateful I stuck it out. Trust me, it does get better.  All of it gets better.


Steak Fajitas


One of the worst times of year for a teacher is the two weeks before school starts. It’s not because we are dreading it, but the anticipation of the work load, and wanting to enjoy every last drop of summer–those two things form a dichotomy that keeps many a teacher up with insomnia at night and cranky during the day. I am starting to have stress school dreams and I am starting to get on my husband’s nerves. Buckle up, sweetie, we’ve only just begun.

We didn’t get the best news today either. Henry got hired at a new job and they originally wanted him to start next Wednesday. Sweet. We made camping plans for this weekend. They called today and said, actually, can you start Friday. He wasn’t in the position to say no–so I am going camping by myself. Well, not all by myself, but without Henry.  Bummer. This was our last hurrah for the summer.

Our consolation prize? Fajitas for dinner. It’s not camping, but it’s something.


  • 1 pound steak, sliced
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder (I used california)
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • half of an onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice from half of an extremely juicy lime
  • zest of half of a lime
  • half of a large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • large drizzle of garlic olive oil

Marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.


Fry it up. Serve it up. Try to not pout about not camping with your sweetie.

I separated out the peppers and fried them first. It’s super important that you don’t overcook your steak, and if you separate out ingredients that cook at different rates, you can make sure that doesn’t happen.

I love my new old cast iron pan!

I love my new old cast iron pan!



Gratuitious Wedding Food Porn


Planning our wedding was stressful. And exciting. And maddening. And fun. And frustrating. Some things I could just not get motivated to take care of. I didn’t care a lot about what some would consider “traditional” wedding decisions. Where people would sit. What type of guest book to get.   So I dragged my feet and hemmed and hawed about certain decisions–but when it came to wedding food, I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it done.

First things first: Wedding cake. Does anybody even like that crap anyway? Does any person legitimately enjoy eating cake? And wedding cake is the worst of it–75% frosting, 25% frills and fondant. I couldn’t see myself paying a couple hundred dollars for something I wouldn’t eat anyway. Our solution? Wedding pie. We ended up ordering them from Barb’s Pies in Ferndale, Washington, and they turned out perfect. My father in law made a tiered stand for them and the whole set up was better than I could have imagined.  I got that cute pie sign from the World Market last February, right around the time we decided on pies and it was totally meant to be at our wedding.

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Photos by Angela Noelle Photography

After I had the pie idea nailed down, I moved onto dinner. It was an outdoor wedding at gorgeous Vartanyan Estate Winery and so I knew I wanted something outdoor friendly–but also elevated. Kabobs was the first thing that came to mind. Thanks to my lovely mother in law, we were able to pull off the food like a well oiled machine. She had a whole brigade of friends show up to man the grill and serve everyone.

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We had beef and chicken kabob marinated in easy, but assertive marinades. The chicken was dusted in Emerill Lagasse’s “essence” and smoked before being grilled the next day. The chicken was marinated in lemon juice, dijon mustard, fresh rosemary, garlic, and salt and pepper.

My only regret that day was not getting to eat more of the spread. I think I had a bit of cheesecake and a bite of salad. It was nice to see everyone else chowing down, though.

Vampire Proof Your Life: Garlic Wine


Henry and I have been dabbling in home brewing for a year and a half now. We started with hard apple cider, which ended down the drain. Next was watermelon wine, which is still chilling out in the bottle, waiting to mature. After that was a lager, which has turned out the best of all of our recipes. Now we have moved on to garlic wine. The brew shop owner suggested it to us the very first time we went to see him, ask him questions, and buy his equipment. It sounded easy enough, and it was easy–but we didn’t think it through all the way, and neither did he give us any warnings.

So let this be your warning. Making this wine is only for the strong of will. You will smell things you wished you hadn’t. It will permeate your walls. Furniture. Everything. But you have to finish it–the damage is done. Roast, mince, boil, ferment. Do it. I’ll let you know how ours turned out next summer.


1.  2 gallon food safe bucket

2.  1 gallon carboy and airlock

3.  Racking siphon


  • 1.5 cups of orange juice
  • 1 can of apple juice concentrate
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 1 tsp Yeast nutrient
  • 1 tsp Pectic enzyme
  • 1 Packet Lalvin EC-1118 yeast
  • 12 large heads of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp tannin


First, prepare a yeast starter.  Mix the juice, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme. Pitch the yeast.

Roast 6 of the heads of garlic for two hours at 350. When it cools, squeeze the cloves out.

Take the other 6 heads and peel them. Boil the raw garlic and roasted garlic together with 1/2 gallon of water for 45 minutes. Try to not die. The smell–oh, the eye burning smell! This boiling step will the longest 45 minutes of your entire life.

Strain the liquid into your food safe bucket, also known as your primary fermentation vessel. I used a combination of colander and cheese cloth. Add the apple concentrate, lemon juice, and tannin to the bucket. Stir. Add water until your volume equals one gallon.

Record the specific gravity. Or have your husband do it.  It should be at least 1.074. 

Oh, yeah. Don’t pitch the yeast into the other ingredients until it’s cooled to 90 degrees.  Don’t want to fry the yeast.

Leave it in your food safe bucket for a week.  Rack to a one gallon carboy, fitted with an airlock.

Rack it again after three weeks, and then after that, once or twice a month for six months. After you bottle it, it’ll be done a year from when you began the entire process.



Artichoke and Kale Chicken and Rosemary Sweet Potatoes


This is adapted from a recipe I found about a month ago, but never got around to making. The original recipe called for thawed and squeezed, frozen spinach.  I thought using kale instead would give some texture to the final dish, as it doesn’t mush up like spinach does. I also added fresh herbs to my recipe and subbed in Japanese mayo, just because I had it around.

As a side dish, I peeled an enormous sweet potato and cut it into rounds. I laid the rounds on a sheet pan, drizzled them in garlic olive oil, and gave them a pinch of minced rosemary, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. I baked them in the oven with the chicken dish and they finished at the same time. Perfect.

Disclaimer. I did not measure my ingredients. Use your best judgement. Taste. Make enough sauce to coat the chicken and kale. Use equal parts mayo and yogurt. Make it your own!


  • Four boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kale–half of a bunch, sliced
  • Artichoke hearts–marinated in oil, rinsed and diced
  • Parmesan cheese–grated
  • mayonnaise–I used Kewpie mayo
  • Greek yogurt
  • fresh sage, thyme, rosemary–finely minced
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic–minced
  • onion–diced
  • half of a red bell pepper–diced


Salt and pepper chicken. Brown it on both sides. Don’t worry about cooking it through. I did the entire dish in a cast iron frying pan, so it is a one pan dish–stove to oven.

Mix artichoke, cheese, mayo, yogurt, herbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

After chicken is done, set aside on a plate. In the same pan, saute onions, peppers, garlic–then add kale and cook down.


Turn off the heat, add the cheese mixture.


Nestle chicken in the sauce.  Bake until chicken is done and sauce is melty and gooey.


Tacos à la Shiela


Quintessential childhood foods.

As adults looking back, we often wonder, how in the world did my folks think it was ok to feed me that? Or why did I think that tasted so good? But they did and we did and we grew up healthy and happy, right? Well adjusted adults–regardless of the fried spam sandwiches and spaghettios.

Chef Boyardee. Campbell’s. Tony the Tiger. Squeeze its and Capri Suns. Push pops. Ring pops. Pudding cups. Most of it highly processed. Loaded with sugar, salt, fat, and gimmicks.

We survived, though–and I try my hardest to give the kids wholesome foods–hoping that those recipes will be quintessential for them when they reflect as adults.

And then sometimes, like tonight, I hearken back to a simple time–a time when it was perfectly acceptable to include cheese whiz in a recipe and feed it to your family. Tonight, I make tacos à la Shiela.

Shiela is my dad’s sister–and for all intents and purposes, she is my mom. The best memories of my childhood were with her–and some of my earliest and strongest food memories are with her as well. These tacos are simple, addictive, and trashy. Cheese whiz, browned and drained hamburger, and a can of rinsed kidney beans. Mix it all together, throw into a taco shell along with your regular cast of taco characters and you’ll have something that is salty, gooey, creamy, and crunchy. The best guilty pleasure I can think of. And now I get to share it with my family. I’d have taken a picture of it cooked, but it’s equal parts brown and gloppy–not exactly the most photogenic dish.


In other news, we are making garlic and onion wine tonight. Super excited!