“Hunger is a most impudent appetite. It makes man forget all the proprieties.” ~Henry Van Dyke, Fisherman’s Luck

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There is something mysterious about the way a few simple ingredients turn a dish into something magical. Marbella seems to have all the comforts of an intricate meal, without all the inconveniences. Just to taste the myriad of flavors gives me a sense of being domesticated, unlike the “wild” feeling, that often consumes me.

If you ever come to Ellensburg, you must be sure to fish the Yakima river. You can find a whole host of guides and shops to help you on your way. We’ll be there this weekend in search of trout that lie in it’s ice-cold waters and hike through frozen tundra and harsh sage brush for pheasants. The river is not perhaps the most beautiful in Washington, I much prefer the Sol Duc – long and narrow, it lies like a precious emerald of palest green, hidden and guarded by jealous mountains. However, along the Yakima, you can spend a happy day rowing along the shore and then cross over by foot to hunt birds, and return to the local breweries in town for a late pint.

Sir Henry Wotton is accustomed to say that “he would rather live five May months than forty Decembers.” Perhaps because the winter months are harshest for anglers. For those that brave the winter chill in the name of sport, I am certainly convinced a pleasant reward awaits.

Marbella // serves 4
Adapted from the Silver Pallette

1 game bird, quartered, about 2 1/2 pounds (chicken, pheasant, wild grouse)
1 Tablespoon garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green and Kalamata olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine bird quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Arrange the bird in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly, pour the white wine around the perimeter.

Bake for about 45 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Meat is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice. Do not overcook.

With a slotted spoon transfer meat, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Wet with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

xo,

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” ~ Jane Austen

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I’m an awful pie maker. I know it sounds dramatic and unlikely that America’s quintessential comfort food could be so challenging to master, but it’s true.

Eleven years ago this November, I married into a pie family. All of the women bake pies. Fantastic pies! Me, not so much. I’m impatient and restless by nature. These character traits don’t bode well with the precision and sequential nature of pie making.

Nevertheless, on a rare occasion, a wild wind blows through my home and I give way into the softness of the flour and butter between my hands, the sweet smell of orchard apples sprinkled with freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg, swirling scents of spice and sugar filing my kitchen and engaging my senses, and I am comforted.

Gig Harbor looks beautiful wrapped in all the splendor of autumn. Vibrant shades of ochres, reds, and greens paint the leaves colorful, and mornings brisk chill and hazy fog cover my city – all of it – in a thick blanket. Ready to head out on one more hunt to fill my deer tag, this boozy apple pie complete with bourbon, vanilla bean, and angostura bitters is similar to the one I shared with my family in October’s Oregon hunt – satisfyingly rich and nourishing.

Salted Caramel Bourbon Apple Pie // serves 8
Inspired by Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Pie Crust
1 recipe or prepared favorite (2-crust) butter pie crust
Salted Bourbon Caramel
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean (optional)
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Apple Filling
Juice of 6 small lemons
5 to 6 medium to large apples (I use three different varieties – granny smith, crispin, cortland)
1/3 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Assembly
1 farm fresh egg, beaten
Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the pie crust:
Prepare one 2-crust batch of your favorite all butter pie crust. Roll the bottom crust to fit a 9-inch pan, and cut the top crust as a lattice, approximately 1-inch in width or as desired. Chill the rolled crust while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.

For the salted caramel:
Over low heat, cook the sugar and water until dissolved. Add butter and vanilla bean seeds and bring to a slow boil. Cook on low boil until the mixture turns a deep golden color. Remove from heat and add the heavy cream. Whisk over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set aside.

For the apple filling:
In a large mixing bowl, juice the lemons. Peel, core, and thinly slice the whole apples into the lemon juice to prevent oxidization.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Angostura bitters. Sprinkle mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl and gently stir to combine.

To assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 400* degrees.

Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Layer 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Being sure to save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.

Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with raw sugar and coarse sea salt.

On a large baking sheet, bake the pie for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325* and bake for 35 minutes. Test the apples for doneness with a wooden skewer or small knife – they should be just soft.

Let the pie cool, then serve and enjoy.

xo,

“Warm sunny days, endless skies of blue, then without a warning another winter storm comes raging through.”
~Ian Tyson

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The past few mornings, our city has been drenched in rain. The kind of relentless rain that pounds the pavement in ballistic drops while the wind whips through in visible gusts, a decidedly not-summer thing. The only relief from the torrential downpours have been short outings around town.

Tuesday was “ladies night out” at the local feed store so I took my daughter Maddie and we danced the cupid shuffle and ate our hearts content of miniature cupcakes with sugary sweet buttercream frosting. Wednesday rolled around and I was feeling a little ‘trouty’ so decidedly spent the evening hanging out with friends in town talking bug entomology and fly fishing the rivers of Eastern and Western Washington. Both experiences left me pretty excited for this weekends hunting and fishing trips, in spite of the weather.

In the meantime, I was still craving something familiar and welcoming to take my mind off of the angry branches scratching my windows and rasping my doors, when I came upon a small bunch of parsnips I gathered over the weekend. Parsnips are without a doubt my favorite root vegetable. Unpretentious and sweet, they require so little to bring out their best flavor.

Honey-Glazed Roasted Parsnips // serves 4
3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
2 teaspoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon honey
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 375*F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, lemon and smoked paprika. In a medium bowl toss cut parsnips with the oil and honey glaze. Add walnuts. Spread parsnips evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 25 minutes making sure to toss once to avoid burning.

Remove from oven and serve with chopped parsley and coarse sea salt. Enjoy!

xo,