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A Day at Marra Farm


Tucked away in southwest Seattle is four acres of magic. Marra Farm is one of two remaining farms within Seattle city limits and grows 13,000 pounds of organic produce for low-income kids, seniors, and families living in the nearby South Park neighborhood. At Marra Farm, people can also learn how to grow their own food.

Today I was set to volunteer at Marra Farm with my Starbucks work family. Despite my love for the farm and its mission, I was definitely not thrilled at the prospect of several hours of manual labor in cold and wet weather.

That all changed once I arrived at Marra Farm and started working. We harvested kale, chard, lettuce, mustard greens, and radishes; washed all of the produce; pulled weeds; and hand-tilled the soil.

The heaviness of my digging fork, the unending rows of weeds, the gasp of dismay from someone finding a maggoty dead bird–it was dirty and hard, and I enjoyed every unromantic minute of it.









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Pinterest Introduces Place Pins

I work in digital marketing, and the pace of change is so rapid, it’s easy to be blasé about new features and functionality especially when it comes to social networking sites.

But I have to say that I’m really enjoying Pinterest’s new Place Pins. Continue reading

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YOU: On a kitchen gadget diet

Kitchen gadgets
When you like to cook, you’ll inevitably accumulate tools that you think will be useful but you never actually use. I did a recent purge of our kitchen gadgets and learned the following things.

My husband really likes cheese.
In one of our drawers, I found five cheese slicers (three of which were identical) and a hand crank cheese grater.

We are obsessed with measuring.
We had multiple sets of measuring cups starting at 1/4 cup all the way to 1 quart. There was a set that drove my husband crazy because the numbers had worn off them so he couldn’t tell which was which, but for some reason we kept them anyway–even though we had bought a replacement set.

When you upgrade a gadget, get rid of the old one.
I got a Microplane premium zester and grater a few months ago, which I love and constantly use. So why was the cheap knockoff version taking up space in my kitchen?

Presses and spatulas are not our thing.
I received a Vietnamese coffee press as a gift and held onto it for years even though I don’t drink coffee. I know many people swear by their garlic presses, but we never used the one we had. We also got rid of a wide spatula that was too big and unwieldy to be helpful and spatula tongs, which sound cool but really aren’t.

Laziness creates clutter.
If you can complete a food preparation task with a knife or your hands, there’s no need to buy gadgets like an egg separater, apple corer or cork puller (which I found brand new still in its package).


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Happy birthday, dear…panda?

I just saw this photo on the Yahoo! homepage of a panda at a zoo in Taipei, Taiwan eating her birthday cake. Yes, you read that right–birthday cake, not bamboo.

Taiwan Panda

I wondered if giving zoo animals birthday cakes was a common practice, and thanks to the powers of Internet search, I can tell you that, yes, it is!

The Huffington Post has a slideshow of a hippo, walrus, cheetah and other assorted animals celebrating another year in captivity with cake (or cake subsitute).


Part of me thinks these photos are really cute, but another part of me is screaming, “Why do we do this?” Stop with the anthropomorphism already. It’s a nice photo op and publicity stunt for zoos, but animals don’t care about their birthdays.

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I snagged these totally awesome ninja glasses earlier this month at the Urban Craft Uprising, which showcases the work of independent crafters, artists and designers. I’ve given the glasses as wedding gifts and housewarming presents, and they never fail to delight.

Val Lord of Sweet & Cool Design sandblasted each glass by hand and has a bunch of other designs available through her Etsy store. She also does custom orders.

I’ll drink to that.

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Raise a glass

Do yourself a favor and resolve to start 2009 without a wicked headache from drinking too much cheap Champagne.

Today’s Seattle P-I has a good primer on sparkling wines, which includes tips on matching bubbly with food and a shopping list with bottles ranging from $9-$35. The classic example of sparking wine is, of course, French Champagne, but there’s also Spanish cava, Italian prosecco and many fine domestic sparkling wines including one from New Mexico(!) Click here to learn more.

And from eHow, here’s seven easy steps to opening a bottle of Champagne.

Happy new year!

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Newman’s delicious legacy

I don’t care for prepared salad dressing (it takes less than five minutes to make your own), but on the rare ocassion when I do buy some, it’s usually a bottle of Newman’s Own. They are made of quality ingredients and consistently taste good no matter what variety you try. And the profits go to charity! After Paul Newman passed away last week, I bought some Lite Caesar in tribute to him.

I love the labels on the Newman’s Own products. They all feature Paul Newman in some form or another. The Lite Caesar has a Roman bust in Newman’s likeness. The fig newtons show Newman and wife Joanne Woodward dressed as the farmer and wife from the American Gothic painting. I think this shows that Newman never took himself too seriously, and I like that he often made fun of his good looks.

I enjoy all of Newman’s classic roles, but one of my favorite performances of his was in “The Hudsucker Proxy.” His character, Sidney J. Mussburger, is so cold, he finishes smoking the cigar of a man who has just committed suicide. He says, “A Monte Cristo is too good to waste.”

Here’s to a great actor, philanthropist and salad dressing king (his pasta sauces aren’t bad either).

Random food fact: Ted Allen’s “Food Detectives” found out that is indeed possible to eat 50 eggs like Newman’s character did in “Cool Hand Luke.”

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Should I Bite?

I’m debating whether to go to the Bite of Seattle. Is it worth my time, money and stomach space?

The Bite used to be a must-attend event for me. Before going, I would memorize the site map, pore over the list of restaurants and strategize what I wanted to eat. It was a fun way to experience new foods and flavors. The Bite introduced me to couscous, alligator and Tom Douglas’ divine donuts.

Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but for me, the Bite has lost much of its appeal. The quality of food has seemed to decline, and there have been few culinary surprises.

Do I need to temper my expectations? Maybe the Bite is less of a food event and more about hanging out in the sun and people watching…while eating a Philly cheesteak, spanakopita, yellow curry, fried chicken and Hawaiian shave ice.

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Weekend at Waji’s

Here are a couple of pics from a recent lazy Sunday spent at Uwajimaya. Waji’s, as it’s commonly known, is a huge Asian grocery store located in the heart of Seattle’s International District.

A watermelon just for me? I must know more…

How big are personal watermelons? Turns out, pretty big. Compare them to the young coconuts in the background. Personal-sized items should not be larger than your head.

Part of the fun of Uwajimaya is trying to decipher Japanese food packaging while Asian pop ballads blare from the store’s loudspeakers. Can you guess what these are?

Answer: freeze-dried baby food.

These would be fun to serve at a formal tea.

Hawaiian sweet bread was a staple food when I was a kid. I haven’t had any in years so I bought a pack of rolls. Check out this fancy smoked salmon roulade recipe using King’s Hawaiian bread.

A sure sign you’re in an Asian grocery store, which may remind you of this weird song.


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P.S. to audio feast

Today’s Seattle Times features an article about Justin A. Edgerton, a “music stylist” who makes music mixes for restaurants. Check it out.

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