We haven’t had much summer here in Seattle yet. (People say it really doesn’t start until after the 4th of July. So we’ll see.) Usually, we receive a stretch of sun in May that makes us all feel grateful and makes the gloom of June more palatable. Not this year. It has been seeming months on end of grey skies and 56°.
However, the day we cooked the dinner at Dog Mountain Farm, the clouds scooted away. Here is the farm, just before the guests arrived. 72° and perfect blue-skied joy.
That’s what the entire day felt like.
Actually, there had been a little splash of sunny days in the week preceding the dinner, as well. Vegetables finally ripened and made our cooking much brighter.
Cherry tomatoes. Oh, what a welcome sight.
Don’t you love the kitchen? Just off the woods? I wish that I could cook dinner in a kitchen like this every summer evening.
This was part of the kitchen crew. Danny was in charge, of course. (That’s such a Danny look on his face, fierce concentration as he decides what to do next.) Without Jean and Ed, this dinner would not have happened the way it did. And without their darling girls there, that little person working pantry might not have been so happy that day.
We needed the help. There were piles of English peas to shell, red lentils to cook and puree, duck breasts to be broken down, trout to season and prepare, and a dozen dozen other kitchen tasks before we could think of feeding people.
Every time I work with Danny, I feel a little pang of jealousy. It’s such good work, this cooking food to feed people. Every moment was filled with the urgency of needing to finish the task but also the lovely relaxed feeling of doing something with my senses. Sometimes I wish I could cook for a living instead of sitting at this computer.
(Really, though, there’s no choice. I’m here. It’s where I belong.)
Danny never erupted into stress or pushing people. He was calm, laughing, and focused. It’s nice to respect what your partner does, so deeply.
This was his station for working that day. That’s the galley for our cookbook. (It comes out on September 28th, which suddenly doesn’t seem like that long from now. Gulp.) It was Danny’s idea to have this dinner be mostly recipes from our upcoming book.
Those are gluten-free baguettes, ready for grilling. They became crostini with curried red lentil puree, microgreens, and fresh feta, sharp and salty.
These are barbecued duck skewers, made with Danny’s barbecue sauce and ducks from the farm.
Baby carrot soup, made bright with fresh carrot juice, topped with goat’s milk yogurt made on the farm and English pea puree.
Spring onion salad with radishes, Rainier and Bing cherries, basil, soft chevre from the farm, and a Balsamic-raspberry vinaigrette.
Ruby-red trout wrapped in La Quercia prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil, then grilled.
Millet salad with sauteed morels, porcini, and sea beans, to go with the trout.
Chocolate mousse with rhubarb jam made on the farm and homemade creme fraiche.
We could not have done this dinner without the help of our good friends Jenise and Mike, who volunteer at Dog Mountain Farm dinners regularly and introduced us to the farm. Those two were professional, helpful, and a constant source of good humor during the day. We dig you two.
Farmers work harder than anyone we know. Cindy and David were a whirlwind of activity during the day, after driving down to Seattle that morning to sell their produce at a farmers’ market and back again. They are some of the most energetic, kindest people we’ve ever met. You rock.
Pictured here, with us at the end of the dinner, is Dr. Jean Layton, one of the smartest, most compassionate people I’ve met. And she can break down a duck like nobody’s business. Jean writes GF Doctor, a fascinating look at the latest gluten-free and other health trends, as well as as GF Doctor Recipes, while she runs her practice as a naturopath, all the while being the mom of twin 11-year-old girls. This woman has more energy than us! Along with her wonderful husband, Ed, Jean really helped make this day possible. (Those beautiful baguette slices you see above? They are from Jean’s recipe for sourdough baguettes. Stay tuned for more information on this.)
Thank you, all.
That was a beautiful day, in so many ways.
Everyone in the field seemed happy. There was sunlight and good food and photographs being taken (hi, Mike!) and wine from Tefft Cellars and laughter and more sunlight.
We were amazed, all day.
One of our favorite parts of the experience was sitting around talking with some of you as the evening moved toward the gloaming. We laughed after the dishes were done, talked about restaurants in Vancouver and getting gluten by mistake and the new cookbook. It was wonderful to meet so many of you who read this site.
(We can’t wait for more of those meetings in the fall.)
Before we left, we learned from Cindy that many of the people who attended the dinner clamored for our return next summer. We are honored. And we’ll be back, next July.
We hope that many of you can come sit in the field and share food with us next year.