Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Madrona Neighborhood, Seattle - Part 2

Last weekend we went for a drive on a wet, wintery day and ended up in the lovely neighborhood of Madrona. We have driven Lake Washington Blvd on numerous occasions, but this time we took a few back roads and discovered the Madrona Park Ravine. Named for the Pacific madrona trees which grown on site, this 9 acre hillside is part of the city owned park with nearly a mile of walking trails.  This provides such a unique opportunity to get out and enjoy the calm of nature in the midst of a crowded metropolitan city, it's very refreshing. Park features include: restrooms, picnic sites, guarded beach, play area, and beautiful views of Lake Washington.





For more information and directions click here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Madrona Neighborhood, Seattle - Part 1

To really experience Seattle life (and not pay for parking), you have to visit the downtown neighborhoods. One of the smaller, overlooked districts, and home to the late Kurt Cobain, is Madrona. This is an unexpected row of restaurants and shops among a residential area, which is why I love it. How fun it must be to walk to the neighborhood coffee shop in your sweats on a Saturday morning. This is a couple hour trip, but if you would like to make a day of it, drop down the hill to Lake Washington Blvd. There are several miles to drive, walk, hike or bike and gorgeous homes to drool over.

 The Hi-Spot Cafe, located in a 1904 Victorian home, 
 has kept their tried and true menu for 35 years, Zagat rated, 
and serving an average of 250 breakfasts on Saturday mornings. 

They serve Fonte', a local roasted coffee.

 Their specialty: plate sized Cinnamon Rolls--yum!

 Cupcake Royale, one of the first cupcake shops to hit Seattle, 
has found their niche somewhere between their pink and brown color scheme, 
and good, old-fashioned cupcakes in a fun variety of flavors.

 Quality, hand-crafted coffee roasted by Stumptown

We ordered the Coconut Bunny** sigh**

St. Clouds, also Zagat rated, features live music on
Monday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

 A Turkish Bistro with a 95% Zagat rating and ...bellydancers!

Guesthouse, a fine vintage/gift boutique and interior design consulting studio 
has that amazing blend of rustic and elegant charm.

Parisian flee-market style, hand-crafted pillows from London,
gold-flecked chocolates, you need to visit this store. 

From I-5 South:
Take Exit 164A: Dearborn St./ James St.
Turn Right on James St.
James becomes Cherry St.
Turn Left onto 34th Ave.

From I-5 North:
Take Exit 165A towards James St.
Stay straight to go onto 6th Ave.
Take the 2nd Left onto James St.
James become Cherry St.
Turn Left onto 34th Ave.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Winslow, Bainbridge Island

For an on foot day trip, consider taking the Seattle Waterfront Ferry to Bainbridge Island. This 30 minute scenic ride across the Sound, transports you from the hectic city to quiet sea life. Coming from the terminal , you will be greeted by Winslow Way, the main street through town lined with boutiques and restaurants. No matter what your interests, there is a store for you: Antiques, Books, Yarn, Candy, Paper, Clothing, Home Decor, Toys and Sports. They do a good job at making everyone feel at home here, whether you are the earthy, organic type or the retired, classy type and of course anyone in between.  We particularly enjoy finding candy from our childhood at Bon Bon Confections, stopping in at the Town & Country Market for their fabulous olive bar, and coffee with pastries at Blackbird Bakery. They host a Farmer's Market on Saturdays from April-October. One place we like to go for a little bit of nature is near the Marina, heading West there is a short walking trail that follows the harbor. My favorite place in all of Winslow, it feels like you're in a fairytale book.

For the rafter...

 For the crafter.

 It's hard to find seating here, which tells you
 a little something about their pastries.

For live music on weekends check out

For all things Winslow visit:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bakery Style Peanut Butter Cookies

The secret to these cookies is 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening. I use this method in a lot of my cookies.

Cream in mixing bowl:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter, or crunchy if you prefer
1 tsp vanilla
Combine in separate bowl:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture and stir until blended.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Recipe says to lightly grease cookie sheets (I never do, I use a Silpat liner). Scoop cookies and place two inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on baking sheet 1 minute. Place on wire racks to cool.

Some Hints:
 * http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=pg_sparklingsugars
I buy this sparkling sugar at Wal-Mart for $2, you can also buy it at Joann Fabrics.
* I like well defined criss-crosses on my peanut butter cookies, so I spray my fork with pan spray in between pressing each cookie. You can probably skip this step if your dough has been refrigerated.
* I'm sure you have figured out the trick to chewy cookies is pulling them from the oven before they are done. I still have a hard time knowing exactly when to pull them, but for my oven 7 minutes is about perfect for regular sized cookies. You want the surface to look done, but if you were to touch them with your finger, they would feel very underdone.
* Remember to remove from hot pans after a minute, leaving them on pans to cool, will overcook them and make them crunchy the next day. If the bottom of my cookies take on the grid of my wire racks, I know they are perfect!
* I freeze my empty pans between baking, using an already hot pan will affect cooking time. I have found this keeps baking times and cookies consistent throughout the whole batch.
* Don't be afraid to freeze leftover cookies or if you want to make them ahead of time for an event. They thaw very well. I used to always keep dough in my freezer, but now I bake them all at once. It is so nice to have cookies on hand for a treat in the evening or for having company.
* I've never done it, but these would be so delish dipped half in chocolate.

 Who doesn't love cookie dough?

The sparkling sugar gives it that real bakery touch.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wild Horse Monument - Vantage

Most Western Washingtonians have taken a road trip across the Cascades to the other half of our state. It amazes me that one state could hold a rain forest on one side and deserts and canyons on the other. Don't be fooled by "The Evergreen State" and "The Emerald City" -- we have it all here, which makes it a pretty cool place to live or visit. As you head East on I-90, 135.49 miles and 2 hours, 7 minutes later you will come to Vantage, a small town with a big bridge along the Columbia River. As you pass the bridge and continue East a mile or two, start looking to your right to see the Wild Horse Monument. Start slowing down from the 70mph, or maybe it's 75mph speed limits and be watching for turn outs. It is a 1/4 mile steep hike to the top, you can spend half an hour or a couple if you want to stay and watch the sunset. It is well worth the view.  I say it's a must for every Washingtonian to do at least once.

For more information visit: