Tuesday, March 22, 2016

More Cheese Please!

I tried so much amazing stuff over the weekend I felt the need to share what were the highlights of the weekend now that I've made it out of my lactose intolerant food coma. I know, I'm a bit of a masochist being that I love cheese and am lactose intolerant.

My hands down favorite food was the Bread & Butter Pickles from The Golden State Pickle Works who describes themselves as:

"Using the bounty of northern California to make artisanal fermented vegetables, fruit and thoughtfully crafted condiments, we carry on the traditions of the American food pantry while also contributing to the dialogue. By supporting local farmers and their beautiful produce, we practice one of the oldest and purest forms of preservation to be enjoyed throughout the year."

These pickles are so good there are only the dredges left in my jar, because I have no self control, and while cleaning the house left the jar open on the counter to just grab a pickle slice or 2 each time I passed it. 

I know you were most likely expecting me to open with a cheese considering it was a cheese festival, however when something is this good one needs to share how good it is with the hope you'll buy some so that they stay in business and can keep making pickles for me! Currently you have to go to either the Petaluma or Santa Rosa Farmer's Markets to get your hands on these yummy treats, but if you email the owner Samantha she'll figure a way to get a few jars to you.

To drinks I have to give nods to Korbel, which is my #1 choice for lazy Sunday mimosas, to the familiar North Coast Brewing, and lastly to Bucher Vinevards which served up a nice buttery Chardonnay. What took the cake, and Anna and I got 2 glasses of, though was Bite Hard Apple Cider.

The crisp apply flavor of the Dry Apple Cider was just what one wants in a cider, and left a clean aftertaste that brought out the sweetness of the foods we tasted.

Now the moment you've all been waiting for... THE CHEESE!

There were 3 cheese that I found awesome and one I'd been searching for for weeks.

First up is the Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor. This cheese is mellow, smooth, and familiar, and Anna and I first discovered it about 5 years ago in the cheese ends bin of Whole Foods. We, being our natural wine loving selves, ate it with fruit and wine, but without thinking threw away the wrapper before noting what cheese it was. A month later we still couldn't stop talking about the this cheese so we spent an hour talking to the cheesemonger back at the cheese counter, and we found it again.

Cypress Grove is a regular sight at my family's gatherings, and I think this has to be the one from now on.

Next is the Point Reyes White Cheddar. Before I tell you about this cheese let me tell you about the obsession I have had with trying to find it. I actually went to the cheese festival looking for this cheese without knowing the name of it. I sometimes pop into Molly Stones on my way to work for coffee and their cheese counter will sometimes have little boxes of precut cheese cubes that are perfect for lunch. Well I grabbed one that was marked white cheddar and fell in love with it over the 2 days I had it for lunch. I wanted more, but the label didn't have the creamery name on it, and I was never there while the cheesemonger was. Luckily I found it during the market day at the festival and the rest is now in my refrigerator.

Smooth texture that melts in your mouth, and a slightly sharp taste make this an easy pairing to fruit, or the Bite Hard Cider. I'm fond of it with a pear myself.

Now for the best cheese I tasted, and the one I bought an entire pound of, is Orland Farmstead's Ricottage with Garlic and Dill. This creamy, spreadable cheese is a cross between a ricotta and a cream cheese. It looks chunky like a ricotta, but spreads on crackers and bread like a cream cheese. I've been having it on a thin slice of bread for breakfast the last two days an am glad I bought two packages so that I can willingly share it with Ben. Anna also bought half a pound while still licking her lips from the sample she got.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sweet Dreams are Made of Brie

This weekend Anna and I celebrated 10 years of friendship by doing something we've been wanting to do for about 4 years, we went to the Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma, CA.

We stayed at the Hotel Petaluma, that is currently being remodeled, ate at wonderful Della Fattoria for 2 meals, shopped at Copperfield's Books and the Knitterly, and had amazing food Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

The Artisan Cheese Festival is just amazing. There is wine, cider, beer, cheeses that are to die for, there were these pickles I tried that I knew I needed as soon as they touched my lips. I had my wallet out before I finished chewing a couple of things.

This was the amazing view from the room

Anna and I got a pack of 100 literary postcards and split them

Anna isn't a morning person so I grabbed coffee and toast at
 Della Fattoria while waiting for her to rise

The things that I knew I needed and couldn't live without

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Braver Woman than I

Rachael Herron has been my friend for about 5 years now. We have never met in person, laughed over coffee, or gone to the movies. However, she is my friend, and when I noticed she was doing poorly I sent her knitting project bags, when she releases a new book I'm there buying 2 copies to help support her, and when she told me I should try dispatching, I went and it led to me the job I love, and my soulmate.

She is the bravest woman I know, not just because of her love for bright red cowboy boots, but because she has quit her longtime dispatching job and is now relying on her creative talents to make it.

Wearing said boots with a Colette dress she made

Dispatching is one of the most stressful jobs there is and recent studies are showing that dispatchers are developing PTSD. It's a hard job and I think Rachael has made the smart move for her health, physical and mental. I know when I went from dispatching to managing an alarm company my mental health improved over night. The long hours, the endless disgruntled people swearing at you (sorry dude, but it's not my fault your blocked driveway is only a level 1 priority), the rotating shifts (grave, swing, day), and low pay are enough to make anyone get a migraine.

She always looks so well put together

She'll no longer be required to work 56 hours a week, but as an artist and writer I have a feeling she'll be working even longer hours, because sometimes the muse thinks sleep is for the weak. She also lives in the Bay Area, which is stupid expensive (take it from someone that is currently looking for a room to rent). This risk is huge and she is brave.

I implore you to go buy one of her books, she writes about so many things I'm betting you can find at least one book that catches your interest, or would be a perfect gift for Easter or Mother's Day. Hell, it's never too early to start shopping for Christmas! I prefer reading her books at the cabin or river while sipping a whiskey sour. You should try both!

Good luck Rachael!

Psst! She's also on Patreon

Friday, March 11, 2016


It's raining and it's going to keep raining till we get a wee break next week, then we're to get more rain. I love the rain, I know we need it, but I also hate the cold.

My weapons against the rain are as follows:
  • Wearing Layers
  • Sturdy Leather Boots
  • My Red Peacoat 
  • Handknit Wool Socks
  • A Handmade Cowl/Scarf
  • My Plaid Umbrella
  • Lapskaus
Most of these you are more then likely familiar with, with the exception of the Lapskaus. 

I grew up in a very Norwegian-American family, and we did not have stew. I actually had no idea what stew was till my mother started dating my step father who grew up in England (trust me when I tell you that I know bland food). My mother couldn't cook, but my grandmother, and great grandmother Fugelseth cooked lapskaus when it rained and served it over rice, or tossed rice into it when it was getting to the bottom of the pot and we needed to make it stretch for one more meal. I still make lapskaus as the weather starts to turn cold, but it's not exactly the lapskaus of my childhood.

We all have those foods that we try to recreate from our childhoods, but having grown up thinking there were only 2 spices (salt and pepper), I kind of gather whatever hits my fancy when I'm at the store, or is on sale. My best friend Anna has my aunt Thea's lapskaus recipe, which is fairly close to what my grandmother made, but rather then rely on a ton of salt for seasoning I prefer a dark beer.


  • 2 lbs of meat, pork preferred, any cut
  • 1 bottle of dark beer, I preferred Shinerbock for a light taste, Rasputin Stout for a strong flavor
  • 2-4 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3-4 medium red skin potatoes
  • 4 stalks celery
Note: You'll need to start this the night before and plan to toss the vegetables in the next morning.  
  1. Put the meat, whole, into a large crockpot and pour the beer over it. Cover, let sit for 2 hours on high, and then let sit overnight on low/warm.
  2. Chop all vegetables into bite size cubes and toss in the next morning. I like to chop them all while I wait for the meat on high the night before, pop all the chopped vegetables into the fridge overnight, and dump them into the pot as I get ready to go to work the next morning.
  3. Let cook for at least 5-6 hours.
  4. Serve & provide people with salt and pepper.
This is seriously the easiest thing to make and it makes the house smell wonderful all day long. You can serve with bread or rice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Take a walk

It's been a bit of whirlwind of activity around here so I'm going to talk about something that gets brought up at least once a week around here. My commute.

I live in the Bay Area and I commute via train or bus to work. I haven't driven my car in months, and only borrow Ben's when we need something at his house. Now most people wonder why does one volunteer to live without a car for 5 days of the week, and I give them the perks of not having a car each time:

I get to walk everywhere. I'm not afraid of a half hour walk, it keeps me fit, and it honestly keeps me from eating poorly. Can't hit the drive through without a car, and nipping out for dinner is a pain in the ass if you have to walk there and back. There is also no way for me to skip the gym if I don't have to hit it during the week.

I live in the Bay Area, and our transit system is one of the best I have ever seen in my travels. During my commute I can take the train from Ben's house or the bus from my house and both come every 15 minutes. Both require a 20 minute walk to catch a ride, but both also drop me off 1 block from my office.

I save $120 per month on gas and toll. I was shocked when I did the math but I love saving money and getting to help out the environment. By carpooling for just 1 day per week you can save 25 pounds of carbon from being released into the air per year.

I get 2 hours to myself per day. Who else can say that they get 2 hours of uninterrupted time to relax? I love it! I'm not dealing with traffic, I'm able to sip my morning coffee or tea in peace, knit while listening to an audio book, play Pokemon, and I get to see the great scenery of the Bay Area go by.

I highly encourage everyone to try taking the bus, train, or carpooling one day per week

Thursday, March 3, 2016


I was gone a little longer then expected. Work has been hectic and Ben is going through midterms, so things are crazy around here.

To bring you up to speed:

The Smokey Orchid yarn is taking a time out and is back in the stash.

It's about to rain for a couple weeks here so I've pulled my Uggs and winter coat back out (judge me all you want, but I don't care).

The high tea we at at Dori's Tea House was amazing. I bought the cookbook and made the egg salad because it was shockingly good at the tea house.

I'm currently knitting a scarf with some butter yellow lace weight yarn that uses the center panel of the Leaf and Nupp shawl.

I started by casting on 75 stitches, and knit this lace edging twice on size US3.

Your cast on will consist of the following:

2 extra stitches + 8 edge stitches + 14 stitches * 4 repeats + 7 edge stitches + 2 extra stitches

Keep in mind that you'll have 2 extra stitches on the edges of the lace edging, these I just knit. It makes the math easier then you start the center panel.

Once you knit 1 edge put it on a stitch holder, because you'll then knit the second edge, knit the center panel, and then using a kitchener stitch, attach the first edge you knit.

Also, I garter stitched the edges to match the nupp strips in the center, and added a fourth nupp to form a diamond rather then a V. You can do what you like.

After the edging just follow the directions for the center chart of the shawl.

I used one of my needles to help open up the pattern for a photo. Don't you just hate how lace just looks like a tangled mess before hard blocking? The yarn is Alpaca with a Twist, Fino (70/30 Alpaca/Silk) in colorway 5010. It's been sitting in my stash for a while, but I bought it at Green Planet Yarn.