Sunday, August 31, 2008


Whoa - I finally tried the Vesper cocktail of Casino Royale fame. OK, I tried two. This may just be my new favorite cocktail.

I've been experimenting a bit more with Gin ever since that one night at the Zig Zag Cafe. I don't think Gin will ever replace Bourbon as my favorite booze, but on warm summer nights Gin is very refreshing.

The Vesper also has Lillet Blanc, which is a apéritif wine from Bourdeaux. My friend Mary turned me on to Lillet some months back. It is pretty sweet and floral in flavor and really adds a nice sweetness to this cocktail.

Vesper Martini

2 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

Shake and strain. Garnish with an orange peel.

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The Incredile, Edible Egg

Sometimes I think eggs may be the perfect food. While the whites are nearly flavorless, they can be fluffed and whipped into meringues or souffles and provide loft to any dessert. The yolks are rich and flavorful and enrich any dish or sauce (think Bearnaise sauce).

The whole egg may not be greater than the sum of its parts, but for breakfast a simple soft-boiled egg is perfection itself.

I grew up eating soft-boiled eggs, which I guess is more European because no one I know really eats eggs this way. I love fried or scrambled eggs too, or an omelet now and then. Hard-boiled eggs, in my mind, are best left for egg salad sandwiches and deviled eggs. Otherwise, their texture kind of creeps me out.

Part of the appeal of the soft-boiled, I must admit, are the egg cups. I am not much of a "collector," but if I were to start a collection of anything, it may be egg cups. There are so many cute antique ones - porcelain, wood, glass - not to mention contemporary egg cups by Alessi, Bodum and others. On my last trip to Scandinavia, I found some cute eggs cups in Stockholm. The cup itself sits on top of a little base that doubles as a salt shaker. I fell in love instantly. They were sold in pairs, so now Gavin and I each have our own.

Soft Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in a small saucepan and fill with cold water until the eggs are just covered. Cover the pan and bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes

After 3 minutes, drain off the hot water and fill the pan with cold water and some ice cubes. Cool the eggs for 30-60 seconds.

Crack the top 1/4 of the egg off by swiftly cracking one side with a dinner knife. Gently cut away the top 1/4. Salt & pepper to taste and scoop out the warm, tasty egg from its shell bite by bite and enjoy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Holiday Weekend Brunch

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Kitchen Gear I Love

I thought this would become a regular blog feature when I posted about gear I love earlier this year. The thing is, I am not big into gadgets even though I grew up around a gazillion of them. My parents fall easy prey to every new slicer/dicer/mixer on the market.

Igloo Marine Cooler
We originally bought this cooler for our 2006 road trip to Napa Valley. It was appealing because it is all white, instead of the royal blue or red color scheme of most coolers. It also fits wine bottles standing upright, which was key for that trip to wine country. I like keeping a cooler in the car, so frozen goods stay cold on the drive home from the store among other reasons (see previous post). This one is large enough most of time and doesn't take up too much space in the trunk of my little GTI.
(Full disclosure: the igloo link above takes you to the exact model we own, even though all white is no longer available. The image at right is only for illustrative purposes.)

Steamer Basket
This is actually an item I covet. I love steaming edamame or artichokes and usually get by with just throwing them into a pot with about an inch or two of boiling water. On a recent episode of my favorite cooking show Good Eats, I learned that this slick little steamer basket works well when blanching vegetables. If there is anything I love more than is blanching. We blanch basil for the brightest and best homemade pesto evah, blanch veggies for a much more appealing crudités platter and of course blanch green beans, asparagus, et al to keep them green.

Food Talk Podcast
I have heard Mike Colameco on The Splendid Table a couple of times, but never listened to his "Food Talk" program on WOR in New York. Since me and the mister are headed to NYC next month, we are researching all our dining options. Food Talk is mostly for New Yorkers, but is great for tourists wanting to learn about some of the great restaurant options. There are lots of cooking tips too though and Wednesday is baking day, when Mike has a professional baker join him to answer listeners questions.

Tivoli iPAL Radio
Gavin got me this stereo for my birthday a couple of years back. It is my constant kitchen companion. It gets great radio reception, so I can catch up on the news or other programs while I am cooking. It also has an auxiliary plug so I can plug in my iPod. This is key. I have all my favorite podcasts queued up and waiting on my iPod. I love listening to podcasts about food while I am in the kitchen, but this little stereo is so portable that I can take it with me when I am cleaning the bathroom or working on a project. It makes those chores so much more enjoyable.


Summer feels nearly over in Seattle, but I have managed to enjoy a few hot days since I've been home. The thing is - I wilt above about 82.5 degrees, so heat isn't exactly what I enjoy. I guess "not cold" and dry is really what I am really looking for in terms of summer weather.

When the mercury starts to rise above 90 degrees, I get into survival mode. Fans must be set-up, Otter Pops stocked, and self-tanner applied.

I keep a cooler in my car nearly all the time, since it insures frozen food will remain frozen on the trip home from the store. No, I don't live in the country. In fact there are two grocery stores within a one-mile radius. Sometimes though, I like to go to a store FIVE WHOLE MILES AWAY! I can't risk that kind of melting...

A couple weeks back, we were meeting my friend Robin for dinner on Queen Anne (hill). It was over 90 degrees and we were likely to hit some traffic on the way there. We were bringing some beer and a bottle of Crémant along to have at her place before dinner, but I feared they would not stay cold on the 20-30 minute drive, so I packed the cooler.

As we finished getting ready, Gavin hollers from the kitchen, "hey, I think you are guilty of a little E.C.U.?" Wha? ECU? Yes, ECU he explained was "Excessive Cooler Use." What do you mean "excessive" I argued. It is a bloody inferno out there and the traffic, the traffic! Sure, it is only about 12 miles away but it could take us 45 MINUTES!

He conceded that cold drinks were better than not-as-cold any day, so the cooler stayed stocked and even though the drive only took us 30 minutes, the drinks were as cold when we arrived as they were when we left home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I am fired up about the Democratic convention this week! We aren't THAT into politics, but Obama's speech this Thursday night seemed like as good a reason as any to have a little get-together. I will admit to having a little bit of Obama-fever though. My friend Jen is a delegate and her and Therese have a great blog going about their trip to the convention (live blogging! celebrity sightings! the shoes, the shoes!).

Join us for homemade pizza (we'll set up a little pizza bar so you can make your own individual pie) and arugula salad anytime after 6pm. The speech is around 7:30pm. Bring yourselves, the kids and whatever you want to drink.

I'm going to whip up some Obamarama cocktails for the occasion. And we may even have some elitist protein bars for dessert.

Please let me know if you will be joining us for food, so I can make up enough dough. In case you've never been here for one of our pizza parties (or haven't been in awhile), here is something to whet your appetite.

Yes we can!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Homeward Bound

Yes! Finally - after 6 1/2 weeks, I am home. My flight schedule was pretty good. 10am departure from Bergen, 4-hour layover in Copenhagen and then direct from Copenhagen to Seattle.

I really like the Copenhagen airport, so having four hours to kill there wasn't that bad. They have good shops, cold beer, wifi access and wait...what's this I see?! People carrying around white paper cups with a familiar green logo...YES! Starbucks has arrived in Scandinavia. It's about time. I've been saying for years that Scandinavia is primed and ready for a Starbucks takeover. They drink more coffee than just about anyone else in the world, love all things American and think they know Seattle (rainy like Bergen, hawt doctors and good coffee). This airport location is just the beginning. Once they get the hang of it, I think the 'Bucks will be popping up all over Scandinavia in a year or two. Bravo Howard, bravo.

Of course, I was mostly excited to get a double short Americano with room. I haven't had espresso in six weeks and while they make good coffee in Scandinavia, I am just too hooked on the 'spro. So, I bellied up to the bar, paid my 25 kroner ($5) and enjoyed a taste of home.My pre-flight ritual at CPH however, is to have one last Danish polse and a cold beer. The hot dog was good, but honestly it kind of upset my stomach.
Come boarding time, I had a stomach ache and was too hot after lugging my bags of tax-free loot to the gate. Boarding had not started yet, and I was just about to pop in my ear buds when I heard my name paged, "Will passenger Sonja G..., please come to the check-in counter." OMFG - could it be true? The gate agent asked if I would mind being moved up a few rows. I coyly asked how many rows and she replied, "Is business class OK?" Um, yeah. "Enjoy the Champagne," she said.

It is good to know people - I think my retired SAS friends Jens-Petter and/or Øystein must be behind this. I couldn't be more thankful. Upon getting my seat, I raised the foot rest, put on my cozy socks and enjoyed a 1999 Henriot Champagne and an amuse bouche. Skål!

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Scream

It's the last day of my last tour and again it is 85 degrees in Bergen.

One of my favorite hot weather treats in Norway is Soft Is - soft-serve ice cream with your choice of topping. You can get powdered chocolate, chopped nuts, and sprinkles in a variety of flavors (strawberry, licorice, etc). I have only had one
soft is in the last 6 weeks, so I figure today is as good a day as any. I'll take mine with chocolate powder.