spring flowers

it's been many many years since my life revolved around an academic school year schedule, but now that david is teaching high school math it means spring break is a thing in our lives again. we've been looking forward to a weeklong spring break vacation together for quite sometime, but unfortunately our plans for a climbing trip were delayed several days by a climbing injury to david's shoulder. but after a week of rest, we were both antsy to get out of town. 

we were headed north to squamish in british columbia, but made a detour to visit a fabulous chef friend of mine in edison, wa. i met chef ryan ross through a kitchen surfing gig, and instantly fell in love with her personality and flare for cooking nourishing, beautiful food. we grabbed drinks together with some other chefs after the kitchen surfing event and she told me about the incredible network of farmers, bakers and chefs growing together in bow-edison, where she recently moved to straight from brooklyn to be with her (now) fiancĂ©. once she set her roots here in the northwest, she started working in partnership with various skagit valley farms and producers to build the bow-edison food trail. when i heard about the food trail, i knew it would be worth the detour to spend some time in ryan's neck of the woods. 

we spent the day bopping around to various creameries and shops on the food trail, got a tour of the organic farm where we stayed in an adorable airbnb cottage, and then wandered over to ryan's home for an incredible meal and spectacular view of puget sound! ryan and her guy insisted that we check out tweet's and the breadfarm before leaving town, so the next morning we sat down at tweet's - the cutest small town cafe i've ever seen - for one hell of a meal and then snagged a smattering of indulgent baked goods from the breadfarm to sustain us on our climbing trip. from there, we took the scenic route along chuckanut drive through to bellingham, across the canadian border and winding up highway 99 gazing out at the islands until we reached squamish. this was the first time i had tagged along with david to climb in squamish, and already i can't wait to go back! the forest is magical, the scenery inspiring, and the climbing was fantastic! we met up with some seattle folk, climbed for two beautiful days in glorious sunny spring weather, and then packed up our campsite and begrudgingly drove home. 

it feels wonderful to have spring break back in my life again! such a wonderful opportunity to take time to appreciate the season and explore the pacific northwest in one of its best seasons! as we go further into the spring season, more of the seasonal farmers markets are opening up around seattle with growing quantities of spring produce each week. i've been enjoying spicy fresh radishes on a regular basis - tossed into salads or topped on my avocado toast. but today i wanted to share a simple yet elegant little bite inspired by the appetizer chef ryan was serving up when i first met her. her bites featured beautiful edible flowers grown near her home in edison (of course). although i don't have a garden in which to grow edible flowers, i did get my hands on some fresh origins edible flowers from the folks at marx foods. think of this little bite as a twist on the classic combo of radishes with butter and salt. delightfully springy! 

radish, chevre balls, edible flowers & sea salt ~ serves 4

adapted from chef ryan ross

1 bunch radishes, any variety

4 oz soft goat cheese, chevre
1/4 cup edible flowers petals, stems removed
zest of 1 lemon
fresh cracked pepper
several pinches maldon, flake or pyramid sea salt
olive oil
baguette (optional)

note: i used the micro flower blend, which included micro marigolds, sun daisies, dianthus, white mums, bachelor buttons, micro orchids and starflowers. whatever edible flowers you use, just be sure that they are organic! do not use flowers from a florist, as they will be laden will rather toxic chemicals and pesticides. 

smash goat cheese with a bit of fresh cracked pepper and the zest of one lemon. form cheese into 4 equally sized balls. cut or break off the petals of the flowers (play a long game of he loves me, he loves me not...) and place in a small dish. roll the cheese through the pedals and then toss around in cupped palms to flatten pedals into the cheese. 

serve with radishes, washed and halved, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt & cracked black pepper. i think the goat cheese is best served at room temperature, so that it can be easily spread onto a bite of radish without crumbling off your radish. 

raw shaved salad with mint & sumac

following one singular career path always seemed like a dull life choice. i always pictured myself pursuing multiple careers... when i got tired of one, i would develop a new one. however, i didn't think i'd be pursuing multiple careers all at once at the age of 26, but that's precisely where i'm at. there are pros and cons to such tactics: being human, there is only so much time i can commit to developing any one particular skill on a daily basis. but at the same time, if one aspect of my career (i suppose i'll use that term to mean my collective career paths) starts to waiver or business declines, i have hope that my other pursuits will pick up the slack. this is one theory. another theory, once told to me by a professional musician, was that if you put effort into "plan b," "plan a" is less likely to be successful. if i follow the musician's theory, should i assume all of my careers will fail? or do i just have multiple "plan a's"? with so many passions in my life, i can't imagine ending all other pursuits in favor of any singular career path!

 oh the woes of a creative professional! 

in addition to working as a personal chef and yoga instructor, i carve away time each week for playing music with my band, climbing with my guy, and of course blogging. photography has always been an inherit part of the food blog, but more and more i wanted guidance! who knows, maybe it will become another "plan a" career path! i've never studied photography and new very little about how cameras work, so when i saw a portland workshop opportunity pop up with two incredible portland-based photographers, i jumped on it! plus, i take any excuse to visit friends and restaurants in portland! the workshop was led by eva of adventures in cooking and christiann of portland fresh... two inspiring women who create beautiful, romantic and often moody images of food! the workshop was a blast, but perhaps the best part of it all was meeting so many wonderful creative professionals that i hope to stay connected with as we all forge our own careers! i left portland full of inspirational ideas, oozing with creative juices and a belly full of indulgent food and drinks! 

 a few of my favorite shots from the workshop

i came home to seattle and set off on building a reclaimed wood tabletop to shoot on (pictured below). i couldn't be more proud of the final product! many thanks to surface theory for the reclaimed oak wood and advice, and to my dad, for having all the power tools and knowledge for overseeing this not-so-little project! and what recipe would be more appropriate for my first blog post from atop my new tabletop than the incredible salad chritiann made us all for the workshop! i added my own twist, subbing in sweet local pears instead of jicima, and incorporated a middle eastern flare with a dusting of sumac!

raw shaved salad with mint & sumac ~ serves 2
adapted from portland fresh

4 or 5 radishes
2-3 small beets
2-3 small carrots
1 anjour pear
1 small bunch fresh mint
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
1/4 cup raw or roasted cashews, crushed gently 
1/2 teaspoon sumac
aleppo pepper & flakey sea salt 

notes: for an incredibly colorful salad, mix and match with various types of radishes and beets! the salad can be made and chilled in advance, holding the cashews and mint on the side until ready to serve. 

wash and clean veggies. use a vegetable peeler to slice carrots into thin ribbons. use a mandolin to slice radishes and beets into thin rounds - as thin as possible but still able to hold their shape (not too floppy). slice and core pear and cut into thick match-stick shapes. in a bowl, whisk together lime juice, oil and sumac. toss with veggies and pears and top salad with crushed cashews, torn bits of fresh mint and sprinkles of sea salt and aleppo pepper. if you are using red beets but don't want your salad to turn entirely pink, dress the sliced beets in a smaller bowl and then serve salads with beets layered throughout the salad.